2:00PM Water Cooler 4/3/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, sorry this will remain a bit light, but I need to run some errands. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert


New Cold War

“The infamous collection of reports about President Donald Trump’s alleged dealings with Russian businesses and government officials appears to be Sergei Millian, a Florida-based real estate agent who is known for what one former associate called “talking so much shit'” [Salon]. BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!! It’s CurveBall all over again!

“Watching the hearings, I learned my ‘Bernie bro’ harassers may have been Russian bots” [ShareBlue]. Hmm.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Neofascism in the White House” [Monthly Review (stormcrow)]. I’m slightly skeptical, because I accept neither the “deep state” nor “alt-right” as received categories. And if you want to write about fascism, neo or not, you’ve gotta know the territory, no? Nevertheless, well worth a read and quite distinct from limosine liberal hysteria.

“Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren Rally the ‘Revolution’ In Boston and Prepare for Next Big Fight Against Trump” [Alternet]. If Warren had endorsed Sanders in 2016, she might be Treasury Secretary today. On the other hand, I guess this rally happening is better than it not happening.

“Poll: Close Race Between Democrat and Republicans for Price’s Seat” [Roll Call]. The Republicans, wittingly or no, are really giving Ossoff a leg up in GA-06, by splitting their vote among (I count) 17 (!) candidates, such that Ossoff leads his nearest rival by 20 points (!!). Of course, if I were totes Machiavellian, and wanted the Democrats to keep on doing exactly what they’re doing (vague message, good press, lots of money, appeal to suburban Republicans, all straight out of the Clinton 2016 playbook), then I might invest in an Ossoff win, in the expectation of returns in 2018 and beyond. Not that I’m foily.

“Help End the Cycle of Sexism — Withdraw Your Endorsement of Arturo Carmona” [Medium]. Berniecrats doing some enforcement. Good.

“The NJ Pinelands Commission: How one of government’s most successful environmental bodies was overtaken by the fossil fuel industry” [Proud Bernie Democrat]. Excellent post. One of the reasons it’s so great that Yves keeps pounding away on CalPERS is that you can see how chicanery works in committee. Politics isn’t all marching with signs and pink hats…..

Stats Watch

Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, March 2017: “March daily self-reports of spending averaged $100, about the same as the $101 average in February. This is the highest spending estimate for any March in Gallup’s tracking since 2008” [Econoday]. “Those in households with annual incomes of $90,000 or more typically spend more than twice as much as those making less than $90,000, and that was the pattern in March as well (average daily spending of $163 vs. $75, respectively).”

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, March 2017: “Markit Economics’ U.S. manufacturing sample is reporting a loss of momentum” [Econoday]. “New orders, in part reflecting subdued export demand, slowed to a 5-month low in March and the sample is cutting inventories, two key signs of softness.” Oopsie…

Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Index, March 2017: “5 tenths lower from February which is the first month-to-month slowing for this composite since August” [Econoday]. “his is a strong signal of activity. Actual government data have not shown anywhere near the strength for the factory sector as have the bulk of anecdotal reports. But the anecdotal strength for the most part is not easing which is pointing very strongly to a pivot higher for factory data out of Washington.” Well, except for those purchasing managers…

Construction Spending, February 2017: “Construction spending rose a very solid 0.8 percent in February and was led by residential construction” [Econoday]. “Nonresidential construction is holding back the total, down 0.3 percent in the month and reflecting weakness in the transportation, commercial, and manufacturing components. Federal spending was also down for a second straight month, 2.8 percent lower following a 5.6 percent drop in January.”

Political Risk: “The use of the yuan in global trade has, if anything, gone into reverse. It accounted for 1.7% of payments in December, down from 2.3% a year earlier, according to payments network SWIFT. That’s consistent with the weak uptake shown in the IMF data” [Asia Times].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 42 Fear (previous close: 47, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 29 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Apr 3 at 1:26pm. Bad karma at the Nineteenth Hole on Sunday afternoon…

Health Care


Medical coding shot, with CEO chaser:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Bob Lee (1942–2017). Bob Lee, a key member of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP), founder of the original Rainbow Coalition in Chicago, and self-described lifelong community organizer, passed away Tuesday March 21, 2017 after a battle with cancer. ” [Jacobin]. “I last saw Bob Lee less than two weeks before his death in his hospital room in Houston, Texas. Still the consummate organizer, he was trying to organize the hospital’s nurses and dining staff from the confines of his hospital bed. As I watched his efforts in amazement, Bob reminded me that “one should never pass up an opportunity to organize those in need.'”

Our Famously Free Press

“The Future of Free Speech, Trolls, Anonymity and Fake News Online Pew” [Research Center]. I hate being thrown in the “Anonymous” bucket. Like many other bloggers, I have a persistent online persona, rather like Publius in the Federalist Papers.

Class Warfare

“Employee burnout is becoming a huge problem in the American workforce” [Quartz]. Why we need robots!

News of the Wired

“Are trigger warnings more harmful than taboo subjects?” [Financial Times]. Priming.

“It’s time to drop the vagina as a protest symbol” [WaPo].

“From L.A. to Tehran, nose jobs are a rite of passage and a quiet rebellion for many Persian women” [Los Angeles Times].

“Restaurant owner says age ban is ‘right for my business'” [Mooresville Tribune]. “‘People don’t want to come in and spend money on a nice meal and an evening out, when there’s constantly food on the floor, loud electronic devices keeping kids entertained, and small children screaming,’ he said. ‘It was just the right decision for my business.'”

* * *

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 (MR):

MR writes: “My early bulbs in the snow that fell in yesterday’s storm. They were completely covered by the snow this morning. Every hour, as the sun rose higher, the snow crept down lower, revealing the buds. Then they opened.” So, optimism!

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

    Has the term “progressive” been co-opted?

    Bernie Sanders Calls Democratic Party ‘Weak and Incapable of Organizing’:

    Bernie is not really calling the left into question. He is really attacking the Democratic Party and even there, he is only very mildly rebuking the Democrats. They will no doubt freak out about this though.

    In particular, note how Clinton uses the word Progressive. Bernie is really criticizing the Democratic Party. If you think about it, they have co-opted the word progressive in a way that resembles how public relations in their opposition to universal healthcare co-opted the word “choice”.

    There have been a few Sanders supporters who have protested:

    Counterpunch seems to be one of the few voices that notes this:

    Even if we start calling ourselves leftists, they will co-opt that too. In the EU, supposedly “Socialist” (really Social Democrats) parties have become just another neoliberal party.

    We’re in a 2 front language war here, and not just with the GOP, but also with the corporate Democrats.

    1. dontknowitall

      It is only a 2-front war if you consider the Dems as anything other than a wing of the money party so if we accept reality and give up the notion of the Dem party apparatus as a left or center-left org then you really only have a one front war. Here I distinguish the neoliberal Dem party officials from the Dem voters who are used and abused by the congressional Dems use of such ploys as the “villain rotation”.

      1. Carla

        “Here I distinguish the neoliberal Dem party officials from the Dem voters who are used and abused by the congressional Dems use of such ploys as the “villain rotation”.”

        This is the meme of the faithful Democrat voter as sort of a battered wife who is unable to leave her abusive spouse because she still “loves” him, because it would break up the family, because there’s some good in him deep-down, because she knows he really can’t live without her… ETC.

        I must have compassion for these women, yet while trying to respect their (poor) choices, I admit to feeling frustrated and impatient with them, as well as frightened for them. But in this case of course, I’m frightened for us all.

        1. skippy

          Layered Like Pie

          A sarcastic counter-expression used when someone has claimed that a person is “layered” – in the sense that while they might be bitter or sour on the outside, on the inside they’re actually sweet. The expression refers to the idea that as with the pastry in question, while the top seems crusty and mean – and there might be some sweetness underneath – at the TRUE core of the person, they really ARE just crusty and mean. So the expression refers to someone who is truly rotten to the core, and that the sugar they throw out is merely a ploy to try to keep people from realizing this. Charismatic serial killers, or brutal tyrants, for example, are layered like pie.

          The observation leading to this phrase was first made by the character of Dr. Horrible/Billy (Neil Patrick Harris) in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” in reference to Captain Hammer (Nathan Fillion), as shown below.

          Penny: At first I thought he was kind of cheesy–
          Billy: Trust your instincts.
          Penny: But, he turned out to be totally sweet. Sometimes people are layered like that. There’s something totally different underneath than what’s on the surface.
          Billy: And sometimes there’s a third, even deeper level, and that one is the same as the top surface one.
          Penny: Huh?
          Billy: Like with pie.

    2. montanamaven

      The article on the Communist Party guy running in France in today’s Links addresses the idea of “reformers”. I have never been a progressive. When it came into public use in the early 1900s, it was term for the middle class professionals/bourgeois do gooders who wanted to “reform” the system. The IWW was about creating a different system all together. Speaking of the Wobblies. If you are in NYC, go see the play “The Hairy Ape” at the New York Armory. It is about the awakening of a coal stoker on a steamship to his class identity and where he might “belong”. He goes to an IWW headquarters and is disappointed with how non revolutionary they are. Anyway, it was written by Eugene O’Neill and contains his “grievances against the unstoppable tide of human ‘progress’—class conflict, materialism, alienation from the self and society, dehumanization, and disillusionment.” O’Neill said, “I have tried to dig deep in it to probe in the shadows of the soul of man bewildered by the disharmony of his primitive pride and individualism at war with the mechanistic development of society.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Progressive” was how liberals rebranded themselves in IIRC 2003 – 2006.

      Progress in what direction, one might ask? Never answered; it’s always been a mushy term, and not especially connected with the Progressive Era, either. Woodrow Wilson, for example, got us into World War I after running on the slogan “He kept us out of war,” and also resegregated the Federal government. Well, th warmongering and lying are connected, I guess.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Progressing towards neoliberalism

        “Next step, The Utopia of Self-Driving Cars. After that, 300% Non-Human Dependent Robot World.”

        What do humans do in the 300% Non-Human Dependent Robot World? These lucky members of our species will be caged in zoos for robot kids to visit on weekends.

        “I am a proud progressive. I will progress you.”

        “No, you don’t. I will progress you.”

      2. TarheelDem

        Because that was a throwback to the “Reform Era” of a century before (mainly Republican Bible thumpers and Suffragettes as well). And FDR liberal just no longer fit at all.

      3. Left in Wisconsin

        ‘Progressive’ is the favored term of the nonprofit-foundation-industrial complex.

        Sadly, I recently read an interview in In These Times, of all places, that had some ‘progressive’ referring to standard Dem talking points as The Left (caps and all). It is, indeed, a conflict both material and ideological.

    4. fosforos

      The best word, which can no longer be corrupted, is *populist*. By using the word “populist” as all-purpose denunciation the corporate media have cleansed it of its 19th-century Jim Crow stains. The real populists should stand up and proclaim ourselves as the people’s party.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        I hate to argue, but “populist” is now the label applied by the corporate media and pundits to anyone who dared vote for Trump. In other words, it is now erroneously equated by many to “neo-Nazi fascist.”

    5. justanotherprogressive

      “Has the term “progressive” been co-opted?”
      Yes, probably. But I’ll keep the moniker, thank you.
      I am tired of being “run off” by the elite. I gave up “liberal” for them – I’m not giving up any more.
      And most of those things Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressives stood for still sound pretty good to me. Not perfect, but better than anything either political party is proposing today.
      To me, the term “progressive” still means anti-neoliberalism. That’s enough for now!

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      The solution is to refer to ourselves with a capital P, tying ourselves to the original Progressives (unless we want to use “Bull Moose,” I suppose). To do that, however, we need to be forearmed with the history of the Progressive movement, which was independent of either party. Then, we need to settle on a label for non-Progressive Democrats we can repeat until it sticks. It’s fine to refer to them as “liberals,” but to most people that describes anybody to the left of Eisenhower.

      In these days of Luntzism, it’s a given any name Progressives try to use is going to be stolen by someone, because that’s how our PR-oriented culture works. Unfortunately, it’s also a culture that relies on labels, because they’re a basic necessity of propaganda. Oh, well, nobody said it was going to be easy.

  2. craazyboy

    “It’s time to drop the vagina as a protest symbol” [WaPo].

    Too late now. The pink pussy hat is outta da bag, methinks.

    This image has burned itself permanently into my psyche, and will never leave my newly woke consciousness.

      1. different clue

        Liberal Cutsie-Pooness. Cultural left-wing transgressivity. ( But a SAFE sort of Transgressivity). Offending the Squares. Sort of like Pussy Riot defiling a Sacred Space in Moscow Cathedral but without any of the personal or legal risk.

    1. craazyman

      I think for most guys — or at least straight guys — the fear is if you put the hat on it somehow absorbs you like Donald Pleasance, sucked up into the white blood cell iin FANTASTIC VOYAGE.

      It came down over his head and his whole body disappeared up into it until he was gone completely.

      Whoa. Maybe that’s why us Bernie Bros don’t feel comfortable puttinig the hat on. You sort of wonder, if it gets going, will it ever stop. It may be better just to wear a baseball cap and have a beer and not worry about marching all over the place. You can always be nice to people one person at a time, by yourself.

    2. Marina Bart

      Speaking as the owner of a fully-functional vagina, those hats have nothing to do with me, my genitals, or their symbolic and functional power.

      Yes, please let’s drop those ridiculous hats as a protest symbol. But I’m not going anywhere. Since my vagina does not gain its power from knitting patterns or the commercialization and co-option of dissent, it too, is not going anywhere just because the Bezos Post would like it to.

      1. MoiAussie

        The WP writer thinks the vaginal symbolism should be dropped because:

        The obvious problem with vagina-motif protest is that it leaves out some women — namely, trans women. Not all women have vaginas, and not all vagina-havers identify as women. A rhetorical strategy whose goal is universality falls short if it excludes some of the most marginalized women.

        Postmodernism and the “Social Sciences” have a lot to answer for.

        1. Marina Bart

          So, not the pointlessness of it, or the way it internalizes the misogyny of the slang term or the use of pink as a segregating marker, or any of that stuff? So even a symbol of a body part slightly more than half the human race has is not inclusive enough? I think focusing on body parts instead of policy is stupid, and this sort of gets at that, by getting that the reality of what your body is like isn’t necessarily salient to your political positions or policy needs. But it’s certainly backing into it in a very unuseful way.

          Say, I have an idea! Maybe come up with a universal symbol for this category called “citizen” and offer policies that benefit everybody in the category — like universal health care, universal income and/or jobs guarantee, universal free public college. Would WaPo be okay with that?

          This is a great example of why and how identity politics is so useful to the ruling class to keep the rest of us atomized, disorganized and attacking each other instead of them.

          Having said that, I don’t wish to silence or scorn trans people, whether they’re M to F or F to M. I’d love Nina Illingworth’s opinion of this, since she’s a trans leftist.

          Meanwhile, liberals continue to be the worst.

          1. Oregoncharles

            ” it internalizes the misogyny of the slang term” – on usage grounds, I disagree with both parts of this.

            In the first place, this adoption of the term is intended to detoxify it, in the same way Wiccans insist on calling themselves “witches.” That’s a fairly standard framing maneuver (which doesn’t always work)..

            In the second, it’s the LEAST derogatory of slang terms for genitals. In fact, it’s inherently affectionate, considering the original meaning. I’d certainly take it over “p…k,” which would be really uncomfortable. (Equating someone with their genitals is always demeaning and negative, but that isn’t actually the issue here.)

            OTOH, the hats are silly and tend to undercut any serious point. They’re also directed at Trump in particular, because of the “grab” quote, which is an overly narrow target.

            I’m really quibbling; your overall point is excellent. I think that clause undercuts it, at least for me.

            1. Marina Bart

              I mulled your critique over last night. I still disagree with you. Elite women wearing pink knit caps with faux cat ears as a critique of a man who was recorded talking about arguably coerced sexual favors using the word “p*ssy” to refer to a woman’s vagina is not taking the term back.

              How does taking a term associated with misogyny and forced sexual engagement and connecting it cute hats rich ladies wear as fun faux protest detoxify it? Making women’s sexual power “cute” is actually an element of misogyny. It’s part of the process of weakening us, by belittling our capacity and agency. My vagina is no one’s pet. It is not a creature to be caught and tamed. In fact, these women are reinforcing elements of misogynist cultural discourse and control by wearing cute, pink knit caps with little ears. They look like four year olds. How does that detoxify the word? It doesn’t.

              How does a grown woman looking exactly the way our current patriarchal culture wants “girls” to look — pink, cute, in soft headgear that offers no protection from anything that references being an animal and not a human — do anything to detoxify or critique misogyny? It doesn’t. As with the rest of neoliberal, identitarian Democratic thinking, it literally embraces all the ways misogyny constrains and controls women, and uses the class position of the wearer as the only implied critique of the system. “Look at me, I’m wearing a symbol of how you exploit and control my sex (literally and figuratively) and you can’t touch me!” But what is giving her protection is not the hat, her gender or her genitals; it is her economic status. And in reality, that is no protection at all. Even elite women are economically disadvantaged compared to elite men; also they, too, are frequently subjected to non-consensual sexual demands and attacks. So the hats function more as a display of class privilege, which when it comes to women and clothing, makes it arguably a Veblen good, which is, as a reminder, inherently misogynist.

              Under capitalism, a primary purpose of bourgeois women is to display wealth and class position. So for these hats to be detoxifying, they would need to be associated with something that directly contradicts that function; this doesn’t. Again, like the other elements, it reinforces it.

              Certainly, there are ways one could detoxify the word “p*ssy.” But reinforcing a whole raft of toxic ideas is not how you do it.

              The reason Wiccans took on “witch” is because they can then show themselves to be nothing like the scary stereotype of an evil witch. That’s part of how detoxifying “gay” and “queer” worked, too — you’re showing how the real person is nothing like the derogatory stereotype. Instead, as I said in my initial comment those hats abide by and reinforce stereotypes of acceptable femininity.

              I think the process of detoxifying oppressive language is interesting, and I recognize that my hatred of Clintonites influences my thinking. So feel free to counter my position with a more detailed opposing argument. But as of now, I stand by my critique.

              I also really appreciate your kind words about the rest of my comment.

        2. Dandelion

          Yes of course. The word “women” is made meaningless. Hence no need or even possibility for sex-based protection under law. And if the word “women” is made meaningless, then so is the word “girls.”

          The logical conclusion of this language is the elimination of any and all sex-segregation, though in this case the drive to end segregation is being pushed by the ones higher on the hierarchy (males who claim to be women.) And so already we see males winning female sports championships, males in female prisons and female homeless shelters, males in historically female colleges, and crimes committed by males described and counted statistically as crimes committed by females. Male hires in STEM counted as female.

          “When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’
          ’The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’
          ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.'”

    1. dontknowitall

      I believe it is a play on words or mental imagery… Pussy = Cat, the ears reinforce the cat idea and pink to remind one of flesh…

    2. Portia

      yes, that’s what I thought, and I wondered, why? and then I heard Pussycat Hats, which devolved to pussy hats

    3. Susan

      I showed a picture of my innocent not yet one year old granddaughter to a longtime friend who is also recently politicized (Democrat). My sweet innocent foreign born granddaughter was wearing a white cotton knit hat that has the tiny kitty cat ears stitched on. She said, “OOOOOhhhh! She’s sooo cute, and I think I see a pussy hat!” As we were having a conciliatory tea, I had to swallow my ire.

      That she’d somehow lost her once very strong critical thinking skills in the wave of this sexist objectification ritual was almost too much to bear. Both what she was suggesting about an innocent, my son and daughter-in-law and me, and what she’s done to her own ability to think clearly on this adoption of our very epitome of privacy, left me quite sad. How low shall we go? I often wonder.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Either 6 feet under, or reduced to ash and calcined bone fragment and fractured teeth, and still more CO2 and another bit of climate disruption. Or for the environmentally pure, with “natural burial,” a rotting pile of flesh to “nourish future organisms” (like maybe a Dick Cheney juiced on anti-agathics, or Musk, or Adelman, able to buy spurious immortality?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s what I like to see: Optimism.

          Actually, I meant but forgot to congratulate MB on all that nice vegetable matter rotting in the background. The soil — I nearly wrote “her soil,” but then the mycelial mat doesn’t recognize property lines, does it? — will be happy.

      2. craazyboy

        I just realized a pat on the head may now be interpreted as Metaphorical Groping, and worse yet child molesting!

        That, and the advent of Pizza Crimes of Passion, will result in a tsunami of job opportunities in our legal system!

  3. none

    Even if we start calling ourselves leftists, they will co-opt that too. In the EU, supposedly “Socialist” (really Social Democrats) parties have become just another neoliberal party.

    If US neolibs become willing to call themselves socialists (i.e. democratic socialists like Sanders), that will be a huge move forward in its own right.

    1. LT

      Look at what’s been done to the definitions of “democracy” (now includes thumbs ups for any global authoritarians like Sisi in Egypt and Saudi Arabi) and “freedom” (not talking about you, just corporations).

  4. montanamaven

    Russian Subway Explosion
    Is getting scant coverage as opposed to non-stop all day coverage when these kind of attacks happen in France. Author of “To Russia With Panic”, Yasha Levine is safe. He was staying near the subway stop.
    I remember that Russia was one of the first nations to call and offer support after 9/11, but now it’s all evil Russkies all the time. Andrea Mitchell barely hid her glee as she pondered whether this was planned for the visit of that evil Putin to St. Petersburg.

      1. Peter Pan

        I’m surprised that the MSM hasn’t said that Vlad “the bad” Putin did it. You know, a tin foil hat conspiracy theory about a false flag attack and all that.

      2. montanamaven

        Sorry I linked because of the obvious double standard with all things Russian so thought it fell under “media and politics”.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          No it’s fine, this is a Water Cooler after all. But it doesn’t fit very well under the headings that I use. New Cold War, maybe, but that’s rather, er, jumping the gun

    1. Ernesto Lyon

      Lots of curious deaths of Russian diplomats recently too, 7 or 8 IIRC. An unusually high number, but all plausibly deniable to somebody.

      I wonder if someone is trying to smoke Putin into a payback they could use as a causus belli?

      1. MoiAussie

        USA Today at the end of last year:

        Obama had pledged a response earlier this month and also suggested that covert activity — including U.S. cyber activity — will be included.

        “These actions are not the sum total of our response to Russia’s aggressive activities,” Obama said Thursday. “We will continue to take a variety of actions at a time and place of our choosing, some of which will not be publicized.”

      2. wilroncanada

        I thought they had all been attributed to Putin himself, at least by British and US media.

  5. Bugs Bunny

    Iranians look beautiful (m/f/t) with the noses they were born with, imho. Too bad.

      1. sierra7

        “Mirror, mirror on the wall; who is the fairest of them all?”
        The stupidity of “modernity” and the anxious search for self identity will eventually destroy all.

        1. wilroncanada

          Ironically, self-identity by looking at the same as all the other rejigged modern individuals.
          Like teens all rebelling by wearing rebel clothing, just the same as all the other rebels.
          Or all the athletes wearing those ridiculous long beards to copy that chickensh$t TV show.
          (I resent it. I’ve had a beard of various descriptions since I was 17. I shaved it all off once, for one day, so my wife could say she had seen me without one.)

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I believe body odor is here for a reason

        Yet we have to get rid of it lest it interferes with co-ed work sites. Can’t have all those chemicals floating around distracting everyone.

        You reject serfdom and neoliberalism, and free yourself in the process, by smelling naturally again.

        1. Optimader

          BO has as many redeeming qualities as do mosquitos.
          Btw in general, I think Persian women are hot. (As well Afghani and Lebanese).

    1. TK421

      I agree. Never in a million years would I think the girl in that article needs a nose job.

  6. dontknowitall

    Silicon Valley companies getting immigration raids this morning…techy slave owners must be freaking out they might lose their cheap staff.

  7. Portia

    blah blah blah, lalalalalalala, and, Israel! gotta go now
    Nikki Haley, yikes

    He has his people talking tough. … Look, he’s the president. He can say what he wants whenever he wants. But the direction we’ve gotten is to do our jobs…
    We made sure that a ridiculous report that came out comparing Israel to apartheid state, we had that report pulled down, the director resigned.
    We are now changing the culture at the United Nations. And with that, we’re changing the culture in the world in the discussions that we’re having.


    1. Carolinian

      I think you mean Martha Raddatz, yikes although Nikki Haley, yikes is a given

      RADDATZ: “There are a lot of killers. Do you think our country is so innocent?” So, how does the U.S. maintain its role as the moral conscience of the world, to use your words this week, if the president won’t condemn what’s happening inside Russia?

      HALEY: Well, Martha, this is what I can tell you: The president has not once called me and said don’t beat up on Russia, has not once called me and told me what to say, has not once —

      RADDATZ: But he isn’t beating up on Russia! Should he be beating up on Russia? Again, how does —

      HALEY: I am. I am beating up on Russia —

      RADDATZ: So he doesn’t need to?

      HALEY: Well, it’s — of course, he’s got a lot of things he’s doing. But he is not stopping me from beating up on Russia.

      It’s like a which one is dumber contest.

  8. Portia

    I don’t go to chuck e cheese’s because of the kids running around. the thing that got me about carusos was that the parents did nothing. so those parents are to blame for the policy, IMO. I am totally sick of parents who do nothing when their kids act like Lord of the Flies alumni, and I would have complained too.

      1. Oregoncharles

        A sign over the play area (since removed) at the local co-op: “Unattended children will be given an espresso and a puppy.”

        Actually, the children in there are mostly well behaved, albeit the occasional wail of discontent.

  9. LT

    Re: Bernie Bros being Russian bots…

    That’s their story and they’re sticking to it! You had to be a commie to criticize Hillary (forget the fact that Russia isn’t communist).
    Salon even went Facebook for its comments. Have to know who those commies really are!

    1. George Lane

      The headline reads like a satire and then you see it’s Shareblue. The level of political discussion in the US is especially poor now even by its own pathetic standards.

      1. LT

        I’m saying they look at it as a way of trying to move out bots and with the unspoken fact that a lot of employers look at social media accounts.
        Criticize Hillary and the Dems from the left (not right wing criticism), post on Facebook and try to get a job at MSNBC…tell me how that wotks out for ya…
        (just throwing that out as an example, of course it can come from any side)

    2. TarheelDem

      Having witnessed their action on Twitter, the idea that “Bernie Bros” were bots is believable.

      But then you get to the problem of attribution of actions on the internet, and labeling them “Russian” requires more proof than has come forth.

      But then, qui bono? Make up a list. It’s likely longer that you’d first think.

      1. Ian

        I find it far more likely that they were part of Brock’s “Million Dollor Troll” collective as a counter to undermine Bernie with the undecideds. At least the few blatantly obnoxious ones.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Funny how we’re focusing on hypothetical bots from far away, as opposed to known bots close at hand.

          It’s almost like there’s some kinda distraction going on….

          1. Skip Intro

            Just ‘cuz you have a million bucks in your bot budget, doesn’t mean you want to waste money on fat, overpaid American bots, when there are Eastern European bots who will do the same trolling for pennies on the dollar.

    3. diptherio

      I’m guessing you didn’t actually read the article. It wasn’t people ragging on Hillary that she’s talking about. It’s people threatening to kill her and using assorted crude terms to refer to her and their intentions towards her person. Assuming she is not, in fact, simply fabricating those tweets, there is a real concern there that we should not be so quick to dismiss, simply because we do not share her politics. Now, she finds out that it was an algo, and not human “Bernie Bros” or Trump supporters, that were threatening to rape her on social media and our response is to mock her? I think we can do better.

      Someone (probably impossible to know exactly who) is using all the tools of cyber petty-crime to divide and conquer. She’s at least figured that out, even if someone needs to explain to her that we can’t pin it on the Russian’s after Vault 7. If we write her off, we’ve been successfully divided. And that means we lose, no matter how smugly self-righteous we feel.

      1. craazyboy

        Well, remember Captcha. These robots have to have accounts most places to post comments. I’m not a tweeter, but I recall reading that Twitter prides itself on verifying people it grants Twitter accounts too. So there s/b easy traceability, and death threats are generally handled by the FBI, even if your last name is not Clinton. I’ll bet it’s easy to get warrants too, if Twitter didn’t cooperate and turn over the account info. Also too – our surveillance of everything….

        So the whole thing sounds rather like a weak story to me. Then, from a glass house and throwing stones standpoint, Doug Adams claimed he was getting death threats from Hill-Whatevers (Correct The Record? Funded Bots?) for writing what they determined to be pro Trump articles.

        So I just toss the whole thing in the category of whatever it is Dems have been complaining about, they themselves have been doing it ten times worse.

        1. Marina Bart

          Twitter only verifies some accounts. Those are the “blue checkmark” accounts. Lots of accounts are unverified. My account is publicly pseudonymous, although I wasn’t that careful back when I set it up because of naiveté, so it would be very easy for Twitter to figure out who I am by coordinating with another social media platform; no NSA required. Twitter may have a process in place to verify if a human is creating the account (I don’t recall how my account creation went), but that doesn’t tell us much about the agency and individuality of the account’s content.

          Bot accounts are pretty easy to spot. Brock uses a lot of them. I’m using “bot” loosely, in that I have no idea how fully automated the individual accounts are. Bernie “bots” are just as much of falsehood as Bernie Bros. You have to pay for bot accounts. Where’s that money coming from?

          This is just more Clintonian projection. They use bots and trolls. Are there bad people who align with the left in reality? Sure, because there are bad people in all walks of life. But all those people on Twitter tweeting and retweeting factual information against the current Democratic Party aren’t bots. Some of their attackers are.

      2. LT

        Even with no election, Twitter can be a cesspool any day of the week.
        But all over the web, people who didn’t even know what a Bernie Bro was got called a Bernie Bro if they criticized Hillary.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I wouldn’t worry about it. David Brock spent over a million dollars on Internet bots for use against Sanders before April of last year.

          Hillary supporters are probably too far gone to be reached at this point. On the plus side, they can’t pass the Turing test.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, having seen #BernieBro used as a club against Sanders by Clintonite orthodoxy enforcers like Marcotte, it does make my tinfoil vibrate just a tad to see #BernieBro repurposed as a club to support the evil Russkis narrative. It feels like strategic hate management to me.

      4. Dandelion

        Is it possible to be female, online, have an opinion, dare to express it and NOT be responded to with rape and death threats, many making very creative use of all the slurs there are for the female body?

        1. Marina Bart

          I do it every day. I do it here, I do it on Reddit, and I do it on Twitter. I used to do in the Gawkerverse.

          The only horribly ugly threats of violence I have received online for my forceful political speech have been from Hillary Clinton supporters. I am not joking. I have had tense exchanges occasionally with very right wing Trump supporters, but none of them deteriorated into threats of violence.

          Is there misogyny on the Internet? Oh, yeah. Does it emanate predominantly from the left? No. Is the worse misogynist trolling from the left? Also no.

          I’m not saying the entire spectrum of people who identify with leftist principles and ideology are all sunshine and rainbows. There probably are leftist, misogynist men who make vile threats. But as a trend, as a phenomenon — no. This is a leftist site. The men here have been really cool to me. Way of the Bern’s moderators are at least half men (I’m not sure about the gender of one of them). They are awesome, and actively supportive of their most vocal female members. Left Twitter is packed with men with whom I interact on a daily basis who are really supportive guys.

          So, yes, it is possible to be female online, express your opinions forcefully, and not be threatened with physical violence. But like the physical world, if you’re a woman and you want to be safe, you take extra precautions. That’s not fair, but I wouldn’t be honest if I pretended that I don’t factor that stuff in when I make decisions about how I present myself and where I choose to speak freely. My experience is that leftist online spaces are the safest ones.

          1. JTFaraday

            Of course they are. You’re telling them exactly what they want to hear– and little that they don’t, just like Uncle Tom Reed.

  10. Lee

    Health Care

    I’ve had two hip replacements that cost about $40K each. I was pleased that I was getting my money’s worth because these costs greatly exceeded my insurance premiums. If they had only cost $7K, I would have felt that I was still getting gypped ; )

    1. Cynthia

      Get rid of all the overpaid paper shufflers in the back office and all the way, way overpaid suits in the hospital boardroom and eliminate any and all hospital jobs that entail throughput management, “performance excellence” and other such senseless tasks and duties involving what Robert Reich aptly refers to as “symbolic analytics.” Then, that $40,364 hip replacement will come mighty close to dropping down to $7,371. On top of that, quality of care and patient outcome wouldn’t be compromised in the least.

      As I have mentioned before, until I’m completely cyanotic in the face in fact, what is driving healthcare costs all the way to the moon and back isn’t too much healthcare, meaning too many tests or procedures being performed on patients, nor is it the rise in pay among doctors and nurses working on the frontlines of care. Their rise in pay has been much too modest as of late to explain the huge rise in healthcare costs. What’s driving healthcare costs up and up more than just anything else is the massive overhead costs incurred by hospitals, which has been on a parabolic tear over the past ten years or so.

      But whenever the mainstream press or D.C. politicians lay out various ways to rein in healthcare costs, they never, ever mention hospital overhead costs as a chief culprit. I don’t know if they are being genuinely clueless or are simply being paid to be clueless. But whatever the reason may be, nothing can be done to contain healthcare costs, without compromising quality of care or without resorting to rationing of care, until overhead costs in hospitals are aggressively contained!

      1. craazyboy

        I really don’t believe it’s real overhead costs. Every time I see prices for something I can get a rough idea what the cost is, the “price” is 5X, or 10X, or 20X as much. I’m even suspecting the emergency room is a tax dodge. Say they charge the $1400 for 3 stitches (as reported in a NC comment by a “customer”) but instead it was one of those free loading aliens with no money and no insurance (in the early aughts, they claimed the national unpaid hospital bill from these folks totaled $20 billion!). So then the hospital writes off the whole amount and uses that amount in overhead figures. I don’t believe that would pass an audit, ’cause I think the hospital would eventually have to support it with some real expenses, but then I don’t trust that anything works the way it should anymore. Just say’n.

        1. human

          $1400? What a bargain! I was dunned for years by a “plastic” surgeon for $2000 for 15 minutes of repair that never did heal properly.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s a very nice chart. It reminds me of a chart in Parkinson’s Law, about the British Navy, that shows an inverse relation between the number of ships and the number of officials.

          1. UserFriendly

            The biggest waste of money in our system is in all the paper pushing. I would love to see a comparison of a large hospital in the US with one in a country with single payer that treats about the same number of patients. Break down how many staff they have and what role they play. I guarantee the number of people we pay to navigate who has insurance and how much they can get insurance to pay would be enough to make you want to punch something.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        The real iatrogenic disease is health care for profit.

        > What’s driving healthcare costs up and up more than just anything else is the massive overhead costs

        I’m dipping my toe on the waters on hospitals with the medical coding stuff. Do you have any sources you recommend on this topic? Maybe with some nice charts :-)?

          1. craazyboy

            Ok. That’s an eye opener. Anyone working is the non-healthcare biz world would never expect this is even remotely possible.

  11. Ranger Rick

    “Employee burnout” — what a lovely euphemism. What’s actually happening is acute class consciousness. Gen X and later see what loyalty to their employers and long hours got their parents: nothing. No profit-sharing, no additional holiday time, no increase in wages or benefits, no pensions. They’re merely reciprocating the affection with which business treats its human resources.

    1. diptherio

      What some have referred to as “lack of work ethic” is actually nothing but rationality. If your boss is trying to get as much work for as little pay as possible, it’s only right that you try to do as little work for as much pay as possible. Calling people “lazy” is just another tool in the bosses’ never ending attempts to extract more from their workers, seems to me.

    2. JustAnObserver

      And it only took them 20-30 years to figure this out and “react accordingly”.

      Says everything needed about the quality of education they got for their $50K+ student dept.

      Let them eat credentials!

    3. Art Eclectic

      True story. My former boss and I were laid off from a major public company at the end of last year. They triggered our layoff dates for Dec 22 so they wouldn’t have to pay us the holiday pay we should have gotten.

      This after we had both put in hundreds of hours of unpaid overtime on the contract. Companies get the loyalty and engagement they deserve.

    4. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      Wasn’t it the Russians under communism who said: “They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work”?

    5. LT

      They’ll probably burnout the robots too.
      We’ll have batshit crazy AI robots. I mean just think of the insanity that is going to be programmed into them.

  12. DJG

    Meme: Hmmm. Anyone who can figure out a way of living in Madrid on 16,000 dollars a year (with the occasional flight to the U S of A), please let me know. Lambert, you may want to be careful of anything stamped Occupy Democrats, who were the origin of this one, I believe.

    Maybe this meme is similar to the Barbie “I Don’t Like Math” meme.

    1. TK421

      That’s just above poverty level in the United States, so I’m sure it’s possible. Is it desireable? That’s a matter of personal preference.

      1. craazyboy

        Poverty levels for singles in the US is around $12K. Singles can live on $16k lots of places in the US. Just no car payment, and most importantly, no trips to the doc or Spanish lessons.

        Spain probably has cheaper cities than Madrid, tho public transportation would be necessary to meet that budget.

  13. The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit

    “…I have a persistent online persona…”

    Me too!

    In other agreements, eyelid surgery was common in Korea when I was there – small eyes and darker skin tones were verboten. IIRC, breast implants were #2 on the list, with nose augmentation #3.

    1. wilroncanada

      As long as they don’t mix up the numbers, and replace one with the other.
      I forget which comic said about which Hollywood actress: she’s had so many plastic surgeries, the dimple on her chin is actually her belly button.

  14. Burt

    “Is it just me, or has the LRB gone a bit mushy in the last few months?” It’s not you. It’s both the LRB and the TLS. Since Trump won, they have really gone whole hog with identity politics in very pandering ways. See Rebecca Skolnit’s article on HRC’s loss in the LRB, for example. Clickbait. Mary Beard, editor of TLS, even published a banner headline piece on “Women in Power” in the LRB, the supposed competitor of the TLS.

  15. DJG

    The incident in Mooresville, NC, at Caruso’s is part of a bigger issue: People think that they can subject you to your children. Remarkably, though, here in Chicago, people truly believe that you are obligated to be subjected to their dog. They likely don’t want you talking to their kid (that “sexual predator” vibe that you have…), but the dog is allowed to go into stores and restaurants (against the health code) and hump your leg (against good street etiquette).

    Caruso’s menu is fairly high end. It has a dress code. I’m not sure who was trying to drag toddlers into a place with $20 pasta dishes.

    Meanwhile, in Chicago, the sign is still up: “Children of all ages have to behave and use their indoor voices when they come to Taste of Heaven.” The place still makes the best cream puffs in the city, and business seems good. But that sign once made the New York Times and national TV news.

    1. RUKidding

      I read that article and agree with Caruso’s owner. Families need to eat at family restaurants set up to handle the noise level, etc, of kids. If I’m paying to eat at a fancy place with high prices (very rare but I do so once in a while), I don’t want to be subjected to unruly loud kids. There’s nothing wrong with that.

      The issue with dogs is also, imo, getting out of hand. People want to take them everywhere anymore. I love dogs, but I regret to see them in stores, especially grocery stores, and at almost any restaurants. People say it’s because the dogs are “therapy” dogs. I get it that some people, mostly those who have experienced trauma and possibly have PTSD, truly benefit from having dogs with them. But too many others take advantage of this explanation. I know people who, for a fact, just want to have their pets with them, no matter what, and have no emotional or other problems.

      I’ve seen videos – mainly from fast food places – where owners permit their pets on tables and chairs. Just gross.

      But everyone’s entitled now. Screw you, I got mine, STFU. Too bad.

    2. Tertium Squid

      Better to question this idea that you aren’t just paying for food but for an experience – getting to be lord of the manor for an hour or so.

      It’s amazing really – we go to crowded restaurants to pretend we are all by ourselves. I remember an article about restaurant culture and it described how a diner had a heart attack or something and the people around were mortified about their dining experience being affected by the emergency.

      Compare that to Heorot. Or Thanksgiving dinner. We are withering in isolation aren’t we.

      1. hunkerdown

        Failed analogy. It used to be understood that children were members of the village, not chattels of the parents, and that children need to be quiet in shared spaces and indoors. Children are not entitled to disturb adults, let alone those outside their families, for no good reason. It used to be that taking action against unruly children wasn’t a police matter.

        The ability to enjoy a public or semi-public space is not an “experience”. It is common courtesy, which owners of pet humans fail consistently to honor. Who gave you the right to bring your pollution into a quiet space? If only I could light up a cigar and blow it into the noisy child’s face so that they and the parent understand what they’re really doing with their abdication of rational authority…

        1. Optimader

          Hear hear.. situationally inappropriate behaviour of children, say in a resturant, is a form of crapification of the Commons and a dirrct reflection of the parents disrespect for others. Full Stop.

          If i had an adult focused restaurant i would bring them clamshell carryout containers and tell them to come back when their children are no longer feral.

        2. Jen

          My parents took me to good restaurants even when I was very young. My mother perfected the “look that separates flesh from bone” on her younger siblings, and didn’t hesitate to use it on her only child. Believe me, that was the only correction I needed, and seldom, if ever did she need to deliver it in public.

  16. clarky90

    It is time for the Democrat Party (USSA) to turn to the tactics of their forebear, Prosecuter Andrei Vyshinsky. Stop shilly-shallying! Donald Trump is the leader of a counterrevolutionary bloc of rightist, who are lyingly and slanderously undermining Comrades’ Comey, Bezos, Soros, Obama and Clintons’ Neo-Con/Neo-Lib Revolution! The USSA, because of the selfless Democrat Leadership, has been a Paradise for the toiling masses. That Paradise is under threat by right-deviationists trying to restore Capitalism!

    This is how an investigation is done!


    Heard Before the
    Moscow, August 19-24, 1936
    In re
    G.E. Zinoviev, L.B.Kamenev, G.E. Evdokimov, I.N. Smirnov, I.P. Bakayev, V.A. Ter-Vaganyan, S.V. Mrachkovsky, E.A.Dreitzer, E.S. Holtzman, I.I. Reingold, R.V. Pickel, V.P. Olberg, K.B. Berman-Yurin, Fritz David (I.I. Kruglyansky),
    M. Lurye and N. Lurye

    Charged under Articles 588, 19 and 588, 5811
    of the Criminal Code of the R.S.F.S.R.

    Published by the
    MOSCOW 1936


    “The testimonies of Zinoviev, Kamenev, Evdokimov, Mrachkovsky, Bakayev and a number of other accused in the present case, have established beyond doubt that the only motive for organizing the Trotskyite-Zinovievite bloc was their striving to seize power at all costs, and that the sole and decisive means chosen for this purpose was the organization of terroristic acts against the most prominent leaders of the Party and the Government.

    Lacking all support in the working class and the toiling masses of the people of the U.S.S.R., having lost all their ideological possessions, having no political program and imbued with bitter hatred toward the Socialist victories of our country, the leaders of the Trotskyite-Zinovievite counter-revolutionary bloc, Trotsky, Zinoviev and Kamenev, sank definitively into the swamp of whiteguardism, joined forces and merged with the most inverterate enemies of the Soviet Power, and became the organizing force of the last remnants of the exploiting classis which had been routed in the U.S.S.R. In their desperation and hatred they resorted to the most despicable means of fighting the Soviet Government and the leaders of the C.P.S.U., namely, political assassinations…….”

    The first to speak is Mrachkovsky.

    The accused Mrachkovsky starts his last plea by relating his autobiography. Then he goes to say:

    “In 1923 I became a Trotskyite. I took a despicable path, the path of deception of the Party. We must cross out past services; the past does not exist. But the present cannot be crossed out. I am a couter-revolutionary. . . .

    “I do not ask for mitigation of my punishment,” continues Mrachkovsky. “I do not want that. I want to be believed that during the investigation and in court I told the whole truth. I want to depart from life without carrying any filth with me.

    “Why did I take the counter-revolutionary path?” says Mrachkovsky further. “My connection with Trotsky – that is what brought me to this; it is from that time on that I began to deceive the Party, to deceive its leaders. Some may say: ‘The Party gave no help; it might have been possible perhaps to wrest the fellow from counter-revolution and save him, but the Party took no measures.’ That would not be true. The Party did all it could to tear me away from counter-revolution. The Party helped me and helped me a great deal.

    ” I think I have said everything,” says Mrachkovsky in conclusion. “Let everybody remember that not only a general, not only a prince or nobleman can become a counter revolutionary; workers or those who spring from the working class, like myself, can also become counter-revolutionaries.

    “I depart as a traitor to my Party, as a traitor who should be shot. All I ask is that I be believed when I say that during the investigation I spat out all this vomit.”

    * * *
    “Who will believe a single word of ours?” asks Evdokimov in opening his last plea. “Who will believe us, who played so detestable a comedy at the fresh grave of Kirov whom we had killed; who will believe us,who only by accident, not through any fault of our own, did not become the assassins of Stalin and other leaders of the people? Who will believe us, who are facing the Coart as a counter-revolutionary gang of bandits, as allies of fascism,of the Gestapo? Did the heart of even a single one of us, who were convicted in the last year’s trial of the Zinovievites in Leningrad, shudder at the thought of our accomplices remaining at liberty, knowing as we did, although in prison, that any day, any hour, another dastardly shot may be fired? Not one of us did what he should have done had we been bound by the thinnest of threads to the cause of the revolution…….

    …..I don’t consider it possible to plead for clemency,” says Evdokimov in conclusion. “Our crimes against the proletarian state and against the international revolutionary movement are too great to make it possible for us expect clemency.”

  17. john c. halasz

    “I hate being thrown in the “Anonymous” bucket. Like many other bloggers, I have a persistent online persona, rather like Publius in the Federalist Papers. ”

    SO “Lambert Strether” is not your given name but an internet hand like “Yves Smith”? I’ve always wondered about that, since the only other time I’ve encountered the name is as the narrator/quasi-protagonist of Henry James’ “The Ambassadors”.

    1. different clue

      If Lambert Strether’s “real name” is something like Floyd Schmidlap; I think we might rather not know about it.

  18. Pookah Harvey

    The Georgia House GA-06 Ossoff race seems to be the only special election that is talked about. Ossoff’s run is, as Lambert describes it,”vague message, good press, lots of money, appeal to suburban Republicans, all straight out of the Clinton 2016 playbook ”

    Under the radar is the race to fill Montana’s vacant At-Large congressional seat. Republican Ryan Zinke left the seat earlier this year to serve as secretary of the interior in the Trump administration. It pits a A banjo-playing self styled Sanders Democrat against a a tech-industry businessman Republican. Real Clear Politics seem to give Quist (the banjo playing Democrat) a half way decent chance, (Can a Sanders-Style Democrat Win Montana’s House Seat?)

    But as the local news reports

    HELENA – While Montana’s U.S. House race is one of only two special congressional elections nationwide that could be competitive, national Democratic or left-leaning groups so far have shown little interest in putting money into it.

    With just eight weeks left until the May 25 election, no national group has bought broadcast ads on behalf of Democrat Rob Quist, the musician-songwriter and first-time candidate running for the open seat against Republican Greg Gianforte and Libertarian Mark Wicks.

    The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) – the main national party group dedicated to helping Democratic U.S. House candidates – doesn’t mention the race on its website and didn’t return several messages left by MTN News.

    It has also has made no independent expenditures on the race.

    There seems to be a bias in supporting Democratic candidates at the DNC. How is that progressive Ellison/Perez coalition working out?

    1. Pat

      Well there is a shocker. Not.

      Mind you my blood pressure going through the roof isn’t much of a shock either. I should know by now that it is SOP for Democratic regulars to throw the finger toward actual Democrats with traditional democratic values. They are not even bothering to hide the fact that they don’t even begin to care about winning seats (or governorships or legislatures or anything) if it means that working people/DFH types who believe that corporations are not people and bankers should have a shit load of rules and continuing threat of prison for breaking them have even a shot of being represented/elected.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I linked to the Quist race the other day; I’m not surprised that the DCCC and DNC have decided not to throw the guy a life preserver.

      But the Our Revolution/Brand New Congress/etc people definitely should be (assuming he’s good on policy; I got sold by the banjo part, and I should be more level-headed).

      Here’s his web site.

  19. LT

    Re: Employmee Burnout…

    Love they included the shot of cubicle hell. The kind of “space” that gives you no recourse to recharge. The Panopticon Office that is about surveillance, oh, excuse me, “teamwork.”

  20. LT


    He still doesn’t get it. No one is saying racism doesn’t exist, but saying that it functions to create chaos and distrust among the working class.
    Notice Chauncy’s article neglects to mention the existence of a black, Latino, Asian, Gay working class existing on a different level than the folks like the Obamas that he worships.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > black, Latino, Asian, Gay working class


      > [racism] functions to create chaos and distrust among the working class

      I’ve been thinking about that. I think racism is also a direct source of profit. “Law enforcement for profit” is one example, but the carceral state created under the Clintons (to be fair, the Republicans helped!) is profitable to the private prison industry.

      I wonder (in line somewhat with Corey Robin’s post) we over-estimate the Machiavellian “divide the workers” aspect, and under-estimate — at least at the level of elites — the profit-making aspect. After all, “divide the workers” is, as it were, overhead. But racism as a profit center… Now we’re cooking with gas!

  21. Pat

    So the Washington Post has a headline that Erik Prince, Betsy’s brother, opened back channels between Russia and Trump. A meeting that included the UAE with their wish list. But it did take place AFTER the election if before the inauguration. All according to US, European and Arab officials.


    Must admit my first reaction is like the way I felt about the election, I’m swimming in yuck: Russian bigotry vs. Erik Prince of Evil having anything to do with the government other than being under government indictment is just one big sewer.

      1. Marina Bart

        Lotta evil people in the Trump administration. Just like the Obama administration, and the proposed Hillary Clinton administration.

        Unfortunately, evil isn’t treason under the Constitution. One might argue it’s the American Way. (At least the way of some Americans — the ones allowed to rule.)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Federalist 51:

          But the great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

          And who, after all, would know this better than a slaveholder like Madison?

          That said, I think, if we accept “human nature” as a category, as I do, and accept that evil is real, as I do, then Madison has a lot of insight, and I’m not sure that the left really takes precautions against the abuse of power by themselves when and if they change our constitutional order into account.

  22. diptherio

    Singles can live on $16k lots of places in the US. Just no car payment, and most importantly, no trips to the doc or Spanish lessons.

    It hurts because it’s true…just don’t get sick and you’ll be fine :-/

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      No one is immune at any age, but this set up tends to making ageing a much scarier process.

    2. IDontKnow

      and don’t attract the attention of the law, which has to feed the private jail system, the private bail bond industry, etc. The poorer you are, the darker your skin, the less fluent your English, the more interesting to the system as compliant slave labour and a tool to be used to rip off the state you become.

      Living like that is living in perpetual fear, it’s corrosive and it’s no life.

      Only a white neo-liberal Clintonista could have written that article.

  23. fresno dan


    Even Bernie Sanders has himself been accused of being a Putin plant by Mensch. But even he’s gotten on board of late, asking, “What do the Russians have on Mr. Trump?”

    So even people who themselves have been accused of being Russian plants are now accusing people of being Russian plants….. Last week, during hearings in the Senate, multiple witnesses essentially pegged his electoral following as unwitting fellow travelers for Putin.

    Former NSA chief Keith Alexander spoke openly of how Russia used the Sanders campaign to “drive a wedge within the Democratic Party,” while Dr. Thomas Rid of Kings College in London spoke of Russia’s use of “unwitting agents” and “overeager journalists” to drive narratives that destabilized American politics.
    If the party’s leaders really believe that Russian intervention is anywhere in the top 100 list of reasons why some 155 million eligible voters (out of 231 million) chose not to pull a lever for Hillary Clinton last year, they’re farther along down the Purity of Essence nut-hole than Mark Warner.

    Moreover, even those who detest Trump with every fiber of their being must see the dangerous endgame implicit in this entire line of thinking. If the Democrats succeed in spreading the idea that straying from the DNC-approved candidate – in either the past or the future – is/was an act of “unwitting” cooperation with the evil Putin regime, then the entire idea of legitimate dissent is going to be in trouble.

    Imagine it’s four years from now (if indeed that’s when we have our next election). A Democratic candidate stands before the stump, and announces that a consortium of intelligence experts has concluded that Putin is backing the hippie/anti-war/anti-corporate opposition candidate.
    Last week saw Donna Brazile and Dick Cheney both declare Russia’s apparent hack of DNC emails an “act of war.” This coupling seemed at first like political end times: as Bill Murray would say, “dogs and cats, living together.”

    Why do most people believe what they believe? We would have much less war if we had many more cynics…
    Let me ask this: What if Russia influenced the election?
    And isn’t the truth we’re in this sh*tpile due to the candidates the parties gave the Russians the opportunity to choose???

    1. Carolinian

      The column he should have written two months ago? But thanx for the link FD.

      And like you say “so what?” is the right response to the whole issue. Pat Buchanan has a new column out saying that Putin may be one of the least corrupt of all the world’s leaders because–whatever his oligarch connections–he represents a genuine devotion to his country’s national interest as well as considerable savvy about how to do his job. Naturally the Atlanticists and internationalists see this sort of nationalism as threatening. It’s really the opposite of what they stand for.

    2. sleepy

      And just think of the old school Russian hysteria if commie Sanders had actually been elected.

      1. Carolinian


        I like this joke

        Of course, this is not how many Europeans see Russia’s intentions. The Poles and the Balts, especially, keep themselves awake at night with nightmares featuring a Russian invasion of a conventional or “hybrid” kind. This reminds me of a Russian joke which goes like this: a man is walking down the street when a woman on the balcony suddenly screams “Help! This man is about to rape me!!!”. The baffled man looks up and says, “Lady, you are crazy. I have no intention of raping you. Besides, I am here in the street and you are above me on the balcony,” to which the woman replies, “Maybe, but I am about to come down!”.

  24. Ed

    At this point I get nauseous reading anything about “Russia/Trump” it’s gone beyond absurd. My main problem with it as a fan of storytelling is there is no clear plot, no clear hero, and no villain. How does a “story” that features none of these things and has tread in the same brackish water since it first appeared in June of last year “build”. We are constantly told it’s “emerging” and “ever evolving” filled with “new revelations”.

    The Seychelles Gambit is the “latest twist” where Eric Prince met with United Arab Emirates big shots and Moscovian agents to discuss a back channel plot to get Russia to stop supporting Iran.

    This latest twist illustrates one of the bigger problems with the whole narrative. It amounts to “who cares”. It’s like revealing a conspiracy where the chief actors are trying to get a new Wendy’s open on Route 3. But maybe less exciting and interesting.

    1. Enquiring Mind

      The Seychelles Gambit may be similar to all those scenarios (Chad this, Eastern Europe that, etc) in the 1980s movie War Games, where the right move was not to play.

  25. crittermom

    RE: “The NJ Pinelands Commission”
    Excellent article. What it reveals is shameful, heartbreaking, disgusting, horrifying. It caused my BP to rise.

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