2:00PM Water Cooler 5/12/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“It’s happened: More than four months after his nomination, Robert Lighthizer was confirmed as U.S. trade representative Thursday afternoon in an 82-14 vote. Three Republicans — Sens. John McCain, Ben Sasse and Cory Gardner — turned on their party and joined with 10 Democrats and independent Sen. Bernie Sanders to oppose Lighthizer, who otherwise generated significant bipartisan appeal” [Politico]. “The long delays mean that Lighthizer now faces a staggering series of tasks that his fellow administration officials have been waiting for him to complete. Foremost on the list is the long-promised renegotiation of NAFTA.”



“Tennessee makes community college free for all adults” [CNN]. “Lawmakers approved legislation Wednesday that will expand the Tennessee Promise program that launched in 2014. It made tuition and fees free for recent high school graduates enrolled in a community college or technical school. Now, adults who don’t already have an associate’s or bachelor’s degree can go for free, too, starting in the 2018 fall semester.” Look! A Republican Governor universalizing a direct material benefit. You would think would be a Democrat idea.

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties” [WaPo]. That’s a kick in the teeth for Trump’s working class voters.

“President Trump denies Pa.’s disaster relief request for March snowstorm” [Penn Live]. Another kick in the teeth.


“Does Money Buy Votes? Most Americans Say Yes; A New Study Says They’re Right” [International Business Times]. “But in a new study, researchers led by Thomas Ferguson believe they found a group of public officials that illustrates money’s impact: Democrats who changed their mind about Dodd-Frank. Ferguson and his team assert that they were able to document exactly how the finance industry, which lobbied heavily to undo parts of the historic 2010 law, was able to spend money to increase the chances that House Democrats would vote to undo legislation they previously supported.”


“How Democrats can roar back” [The Week]. “The 2018 election is still 543 days away. But already, it seems clear that Democrats are poised to sweep Republicans out of power in the House.” But this argument for a “wave election” is premature triumphalism. It’s based on a national poll (“If the midterm elections were held today, 54 percent of Americans would vote for Democrats”). That poll could mean that 2018 will be nationalized, but it doesn’t necessarily, and 542 days is a long time in politics. Most elections are fought by state, district, precinct; Clinton, in 2016, did quite well in the national polls, and in the popular vote. She still lost. The Democrats also seem to be trying to nationalize the election with Putin Derangement Syndrome and by delegitimizing Trump. That didn’t win in 2016 either. Ryan goes on: “To this day most Democrats do not grasp that even the pre-2008 economic status quo was awful for a great many Americans. The crisis of economic inequality is still largely treated as a boutique issue, ranked below growth or “equality of opportunity,” or other such hoary centrist notions. In reality, inequality means the country is failing to function for much of its citizenry.”

“The Secret Weapon Democrats Don’t Know How to Use” [Politico]. On Illinois representative Cheri Bustos: “It remains to be seen, though, whether [ party’s most powerful shot-callers ultimately will actually implement key tactics of hers in time for the 2018 midterms. Democratic Congressman Ron Kind, who’s won for 20 years in western Wisconsin in a district Trump won, too, talked in an interview of ‘a growing openness and willingness in the caucus’ to incorporate some of what has worked for Bustos and others like her—Kind ran unopposed last year—but he worries, he told me, about his party succumbing to ‘the temptation to lurch to the left in response to Trump.'” By “left,” I think Kind means “toward identity politics.”


MT-AL (at large): “Lean Republican. With two weeks to go before the May 25 special election, both Democrat Rob Quist and Republican Greg Gianforte are well-known, as are their substantial flaws. A Democrat hasn’t won Montana’s House seat since 1994, but Democrats’ outrage in the wake of the AHCA’s House passage and Trump’s personnel moves make the race less of a sure thing. Both parties now acknowledge that Gianforte’s lead has tightened to the high single digits” [Cook Political Report]. “In a late April Garin-Hart-Yang poll taken for Senate Majority PAC, Gianforte led Quist 49 percent to 43 percent. The AHCA and turmoil surrounding Trump’s firing of FBI Director Jim Comey could add uncertainty in the final two weeks, but Quist’s considerable baggage may prevent Democrats from taking advantage. Still, both parties are treating this as highly competitive contest, and for that reason it moves to the Lean Republican column.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Black voter turnout fell in 2016, even as a record number of Americans cast ballots” [Pew Research]. “The 7-percentage-point decline from the previous presidential election is the largest on record for blacks. (It’s also the largest percentage-point decline among any racial or ethnic group since white voter turnout dropped from 70.2% in 1992 to 60.7% in 1996.) “How surprising. What could have been the problem? (See the “Resource Allocation” column in the “matrix of failure” here.)

“Rep. Ro Khanna: DNC acted improperly in primary by tipping scale” [Medium]. In response to a question on Twitter about that pesky lawsuit against the DNC and Debbie Wasserman Schultz that our famously free press doesn’t seem to be covering.

Winning the internet:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Requiem for a Lightweight” [Jacobin]. “Two months out from the shock demolition of the Democratic Party, the most faithful acolytes are not getting it. Someone like Moulitsas, an irrelevancy himself, can only be a real, pressing threat when marching in lockstep with the rest of a vast zombie horde — a sea of dead flesh which somehow is still upright, clogging the highways, trapping those still alive and trying to break out, in a waking nightmare without end. It is the only way of explaining a Democratic Party, from Markos Moulitsas to Cory Booker to Rahm Emanuel, cheering the demise of decent health care as a going concern for many Americans” (a reference to Kos’s famous headline: “Be Happy for Coal Miners Losing Their Health Insurance. They’re Getting Exactly What They Voted For.”) Fun stuff.

“American voters, who gave President Donald Trump a slight approval bump after the missile strike in Syria, today give him a near-record negative 36 – 58 percent job approval rating, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Critical are big losses among white voters with no college degree, white men and independent voters” [Quinnippiac]. Trump, from a Republican perspective, is not without accomplishments: TPP is dead, we aren’t at war with Russia, Gorsuch is on the court, various regulations and agencies are being gutted. But Trump also ran on jobs. Where are they? “The wall.” Where is it? And TrumpCare makes ObamaCare worse. In other words, Trump isn’t delivering on his unique selling proposition: MAGA. And so the voters who gave him his margin of victory are turning thumbs down. Will they flip to the Democrats or stay home?

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, April 2017: “Strength in Wednesday’s import & export price report and Thursday’s producer price report proved to be head fakes as consumer prices failed to show much traction in April” [Econoday]. “Softness in the details is striking including continued price weakness in medical care, down 0.2 percent in the month, and continuing contraction for communications where providers are in a price war. Apparel is down for a second month with transportation showing only a fractional gain after two prior months of contraction. Owners’ equivalents rent, which is closely watched in gauging the housing sector, rose only 0.2 percent. This report is not only bad news for policy makers who are trying to reflate the economy but also businesses which are paying higher costs for inputs but apparently not getting much price recovery on the selling side.” And: “Using these measures, inflation was soft in April. Overall these measures are mostly close to the Fed’s 2% target (Core PCE is still below)” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “Consumer spending hasn’t lived up to all the strength being shown in confidence readings, at least not yet” [Economic Calendar]. And: “The general trend in the Michigan Sentiment Index since the Financial Crisis lows has been one of slow improvement.The survey findings since December 2015 saw gradual decline followed by a bounceback later in the year with its interim peak in January of 2017” [Econintersect]. And: “Many elements of the CPI moderated this month lead by commodities – but the energy sector showed significant inflation” [Econintersect].

Business Inventories, March 2017: “[T]he inventory-to-sales ratio which held steady at a still healthy 1.35” [Econoday]. “The build at auto dealers should be relieved in April based on this morning’s solid vehicle gain in the retail sales report. Businesses are doing a good job of keeping inventories to a minimum during a time of slow economic growth.” And but: “[N]ow inventories no longer remain at recession levels… Our primary monitoring tool – the 3 month rolling averages for sales – improved and remains in expansion” [Econintersect].

Consumer Sentiment, May 2017 (preliminary): “Consumer sentiment remains strong, beating expectations” [Econoday]. “Consumer spending hasn’t lived up to all the strength being shown in confidence readings, at least not yet.” Yet again, the disjunction between surveys and data.

Retail Sales, April 2017: “Retail sales did recover in April but not as much as expected” (under consensus) [Econoday]. “Nonstore retailers continue to outperform with electronics & appliances showing a second strong gain. But showing a third month of weakness and hinting at lack of demand for basic goods is the general merchandise category where the department store subcomponent, in an echo of company news out of the sector, shows only marginal strength.” And: “The increase in April was below expectations, however sales for March were revised up. A decent report” [Calculated Risk]. But: “Retail sales were up according to US Census headline data. Our analysis shows the opposite” [Econintersect]. “The three month rolling averages of the unadjusted data declined. This series underwent their annual revision this month, but there was little change to trends. The relationship between year-over-year growth in inflation adjusted retail sales and retail employment are now correlating.”

Housing: “Nearly 40 percent of 18 to 34 year olds live with mom and dad in California. Most are working but just do not earn enough to rent let alone buy a home” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “Back in 1980 20 percent of young Californians lived at home. It was actually lower than the national number of 22 percent at that time. Even in 2005 the state and national figures were similar. But fast forward to today and you have nearly 40 percent of young Californians living at home versus 34 percent nationwide. Make no mistake though, this is a national trend.”

Commodities: “Global silver production dropped last year for the first time since 2002 driven by lower by-product output from the lead/zinc and gold sectors, as well as a sharp decline of scrap supply to the market, which hit its lowest since 1996” [Mining.com]. But: “Demand from the solar industry was up 34% last year.”

Commodities: “[P]roducers of liquefied natural gas seem to be in an especially strong position to gain from new trade flows. Dozens of companies are seeking permits for new, billion-dollar LNG facilities, setting the U.S. to become a net exporter of gas by next year” [Wall Street Journal].

Rail: “Rail Week Ending 06 May 2017: A Relatively Good Week” [Econintersect].

Shipping: “Tells me we still are experience an obvious lack of aggregate demand. We haven’t even gotten back prior highs and growth of these components has slowed dramatically from where it was before the crisis” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Maersk Line says the worst is over for the global container shipping industry… The recovery isn’t coming fast enough to boost the bottom line at the world’s biggest container carrier, which lost $80 million in the first quarter because of higher bunker fuel costs. But Maersk says average freight rates were up 4.4% in the first quarter, bolstering reports from industry groups and other carriers that show operators are seeing more equilibrium in the shipping market” [Wall Street Journal]. With shipping capacity largely stable, the carriers just need a modest boost in demand to give a lift to their earnings.” Concentration plus the breaker’s yard…..

Shipping: “The capability for organisations or people to follow individual items on a map very much exists. However, the cost of attaching an individual piece of kit to anything other than a very large shipment simply isn’t economically viable. Say an organisation chooses to track their logistics via mobile phone networks, a number of issues quickly emerge. Choosing one network is just the start. If supply chains cross multiple borders, that means either high roaming charges, or taking up contracts with multiple network operators. And this assumes all of the network operators have sufficient levels of coverage. Whether companies choose to track the movement of goods via 3G, SMS or GPS/Satellite, not only are these technologies expensive, but serious connectivity issues exist” [Lloyd’s Loading List].

Shipping: “[T]he Maersk-Alibaba deal, and others that will follow, has huge significance to the process of container shipping and the ensuing commoditisation of the carriers. When you look at the operating models of Alibaba, Amazon and many other companies acting as trading platforms, you will notice that there is an immense value being created in the form of data and data services that Alibaba and Amazon can profitably re-sell to shipping market participants. You might think that I am talking about the data related to the transaction itself, but you would be wrong” [Splash 247]. “The data that is so valuable for resale relates to failures and behaviours. While the carrier will only see the data on transactions relevant to their own offering, the platform will see everything that happened before and after the transaction was booked. They will see behaviours of specific shoppers: what is the origin, what is the destination, the quantities considered, conditions of carriage the shopper was looking for, the price sensitivity of each unique shopper, the seasonal patterns of the searches, circumstances of the shopper abandoning the shopping cart, subsequent searches after the booking has been made, and many other aspects of shopper’s searching behaviour. The value of this this profiling data far exceeds any profits to be made from being a middleman in the final transaction.”

Shipping: “How many original bills of lading must I surrender to get release of cargo..??” [Shipping & Freight Resource]. I had no idea there was such a thing as a negotiable bill of lading.

Shipping: “Poland’s hauliers alone now carry one-quarter of international road freight in the EU and account for 30% of the cabotage market” [Lloyd’s Loading List].

The Bezzle: “America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide” [Guardian]. The example? Juicero. I think the author has vanity projects funded by stupid money confused with innovation. And speaking of innovation (sorry about the family blog violation):

Five Horsemen: “Apple blasts past Alphabet on new iPhone anticipation” [Hat tip: Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May12

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 62 Greed (previous close: 63, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 47 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 12 at 11:29am

Dear Old Blighty

“Jeremy Corbyn speech at Chatham House” [Labour Press].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The Ugly Origins of America’s Involvement in the Philippines” [JSTOR Daily]. A little history lesson

Health Care

“Aetna CEO in private meeting: ‘Single-payer, I think we should have that debate'” [Vox]. “What Bertolini seems open to is a version of single-payer where the federal government would contract out certain functions private companies, such as Aetna. These insurers would, in his own words, become a ‘back room for government.'” No. Kill Aetna with fire. Nevertheless, it’s remarkable when an insurance company CEO wants to have an, er, national conversation about single payer when Clinton, Pelosi, and the likes of Jon Ossoff are all “never, ever” on the topic. Eh?

“Towards Health Autonomy: Interview with Dr. Frank MD” [Mask]. This is very interesting. Picking out the policy paragraph:

We talked about this at Woodbine [“Woodbine is a hub for building autonomy in the Anthropocene”] recently, during a Trump lecture series. The Affordable Care Act increased coverage for people, up to forty million people, but there is still at least twenty million people uninsured. It covers preexisting conditions and limited what health insurance companies could reject. A lot more people come to the ER with insurance, which is great, but they come because they don’t have access to the other services that they are paying for, like primary care or referral services. The ACA increased access to coverage but it did not increase access to health care, which are separate things often lumped together. Now more people have insurance coverage, but health infrastructure was not increased. People have a primary care doctor but often coverages say they can only see their primary care once every six months. This begs the question: if they cannot easily access their primary care doctor, do they even have one? It mandated coverage for birth control and maternal health – each beneficial for greater society, but the problem is that it enshrines insurance coverage. It enshrines the idea that people need a third party to get health care.

Class Warfare

“How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality” [New York Times]. “Almost a decade removed from the foreclosure crisis that began in 2008, the nation is facing one of the worst affordable-housing shortages in generations. The standard of “affordable” housing is that which costs roughly 30 percent or less of a family’s income. Because of rising housing costs and stagnant wages, slightly more than half of all poor renting families in the country spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs, and at least one in four spends more than 70 percent. Yet America’s national housing policy gives affluent homeowners large benefits; middle-class homeowners, smaller benefits; and most renters, who are disproportionately poor, nothing. It is difficult to think of another social policy that more successfully multiplies America’s inequality in such a sweeping fashion.”

“Two progressive champions—Senators Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)—are teaming up to put their weight behind a pair of federal bills to make employee ownership more accessible. And—believe it or not—this is a policy idea that might actually have a chance, since prominent Republicans like Ronald Reagan have long favored employee ownership, which leverages firm structure, rather than social programs, to improve family economic outcomes. In an era of hunger for solutions to inequality, this may be an idea whose time has finally come” [Common Dreams]. “And—believe it or not—this is a policy idea that might actually have a chance, since prominent Republicans like Ronald Reagan have long favored employee ownership, which leverages firm structure, rather than social programs, to improve family economic outcomes. In an era of hunger for solutions to inequality, this may be an idea whose time has finally come.” Co-op geeks? How is the bill?

“Power to the workers: Michelin’s great experiment” [Financial Times]. Lots of interesting ideas about “worker-led initiatives.” I don’t find the word “profit,” though I do see “Almost from the start, the company chose to reward its best workers with shares.”

“In early 1938, the city of San Antonio arrested over a thousand of its residents during what the police chief called a “revolution.” In the city’s hundreds of pecan sheds, a mostly mexicano, mostly female workforce husked the nuts on their way to market for poverty wages. On January 31, after a pay cut by “Pecan King” Julius Seligmann, the shellers up and walked off the job” [Scalawag]. “The upheaval among the pecan strikers built bridges across ethnic lines with some Anglo labor organizers, and later with Black civil rights activists in San Antonio’s East Side. To the southeast, a particularly active chapter of the NAACP in Houston pushed civil rights causes, while civil rights unionists fought simultaneously for economic gains for Black workers and for the integration of labor unions.”

“Creative Commons’ New Strategy for a Collaborative Organizational Structure” [Shareable]. “While mainstream economic policies continue to support privatization and the enclosure of public resources, it is important that there is a vanguard to keep such practices from encroaching on us any further. The Creative Commons community is a vibrant network of people around the world who are on the frontlines of fighting for a free, open cultural commons. The fact that such a large and active network is re-inventing itself to become more open and collaborative is impressive. It is also very promising for those of us who advocate for the realization of an alternative approach to the economy, one that is based on sharing, community, and progress — a solidarity economy.”

“False Consciousness” [S-USIH]. A useful summary (but doens’t include Gramsci on hegemony, of which ideology is surely an aspect; ask any macro-eononomist.)

News of the Wired

“Interview with Simon Stâlenhag” [Abduzeedo (2013)].

“Are Books Superior to TV?” [Medium]. That depends…

“How porn has been secretly behind the rise of the internet and other technologies” [South China Morning Post]. True, I would argue, for all media, human nature being what it is.

“A federal court has ruled that an open-source license is an enforceable contract” [Quartz] (ARTIFEX SOFTWARE, INC. v. HANCOM, INC).

“First-Ever LSD Microdosing Study Will Pit the Human Brain Against AI” [Vice]. I have heard that set and setting matter greatly in such circumstances. And isn’t this set and setting pretty weird, even for micro?

* * *

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 (via):

Umbilicaria polaris, or lesser salted rocktripe

* * *

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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

    What I think has happened is that the rich got too greedy and realize that a backlash is building. That’s why there are so many articles these days discussing phenomenon like Trump and the FN in France. The elite really don’t have a clue or are too greedy to see. They thought they could loot society at will and not feel any consequences.

    I wonder what the rich think behind closed doors? They are probably trying to find ways to get away with the wealth they have taken away from the middle class. That and use the far right to get richer at the expense of society.

    Stories like this one – most people are just $200 away from insolvency:

    They tell me that wages have not kept up with living costs. That and people are just barely getting by. If there is a major increase in costs like on fuel or perhaps interest rates (which in many places are at historic lows), then there will be major, major problems.

    Ted Rall has a good article about this one:

    Another one on Trump possibly winning in 2020

    The rich speak as if these problems are a “mystery”. In reality the class warfare, the austerity, and everything else they’ve done is a problem of their own making.

    1. Katharine

      Even the best intended are apt to be clueless. I remember back when I was a bus-or-walk commuter, one of the execs where I was working was talking with clerical staff about the bus; someone had explained the wait time if you just missed one, admitting that at rush hour it wasn’t too bad, and he said cheerfully, “And then I suppose it takes you about twenty or thirty minutes to get across town.” After we finished howling, because he was a good guy, we explained about the nature of buses being to stop every couple of blocks. We didn’t attempt to get him up to the point of understanding transfers (which the current crop of MTA engineers have no clue on either), as that would certainly have taken another lesson.

      1. Altandmain

        This guy had no clue how the bus worked? Has he ever taken the subway? It is similar in a way. Or does he fly by helicopter in NYC each time he goes?

        It does however capture how being poor is expensive.

        – Mass transport is not nearly as good as Europe or East Asia (oh and NYC has perhaps the best in North America)
        – Owning a used car is not always reliable
        – Commute is likely longer if you live in a rough area of a city
        – There are a lot of things that screw over the poor like bad credit history, etc.
        – No savings for emergencies
        – You don’t have money for purchases that cost a lot up front but save money in the long run
        – Bias and stigma in society

        I think that the only way is to make the rich live on the minimum wage for a certain amount of time then see how it feels. Same with children of the very rich.

        They would never agree to that.

        1. hunkerdown

          That wouldn’t work, since they know they’d be able to buy their way out of whatever troubles caused during slumming time once it was all over. The uncertainty that faces those who aren’t well-off would be completely missing from their experience. You’d see that temporary slumming become more of a hazing ritual, a tourism experience, a demonstration of their personal moral rectitude (“I did it, therefore you can too”), or a justification to refuse to deliver the same concrete material privileges they had for themselves as a universal right (see also Andrew Mellon). It would, I suspect, do little to convince them that their position in society is harmful, that they are not a class apart from the poor, or that grinding them down to rise up themselves is not in fact their anointed burden and the grim work they “must” do for society.

          1. clarky90

            Flying their private jet to Tibet to make a pilgrimage. They walk around Mount Kailash, unaided, with only a Platinum American Express Credit Card in the back pocket of their tattered and faded blue jeans.

          1. Altandmain

            I stand corrected. Thought MTA meant NYC rather than Maryland Transit Administration.

            Same idea though – yeah, it’s a mess. Upper and upper middle class people will never understand what it is like to be a low income person.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its a far cry from when my Dad met Senator Henry Cabot Lodge on the T.

        1. apotropaic

          I keep checking in to NC looking for an in depth post about the Comey firing and a long thread of comments but there is nothing. The comments all gravitate that way but I don’t see lambert or yvea giving us that space to really go at it. What’s going on?

          As a skeptic of Russian “interference” or at least someone who finds it par for the course and as someone who is not likely to be sympathetic to the democrats who made their bed, I still don’t get why this isn’t front and center. This isn’t about trump anymore. There is major obstruction happening somewhere by someone and that is news regardless of postmortems or 2020 or stats.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Have you tried MSNBC because thats pretty much all they talk about? Its not exactly an uncovered story.

            Admittedly, there isn’t that much there except innuendo. You might try responding to some Yves’ comments on the matter in the Gaius Publius post today because that post did involve the Comey firing. Did you miss it?

          2. MoiAussie

            This is sarcasm, right? You’re just teasing. I think we’re just about all Comeyed out, until some interesting new development. Were you expecting all the Comey stuff to be packaged up in one place? Let’s see, first there was this on 5/9, then 10 Comey links and plenty of comments starting here on 5/10, then this entire post, then 11 more links and comments starting here on 5/11, then much of this post and more comments, and finally plenty more links this morning.

    2. visitor

      They truly do not have a clue, as they live in a bubble completely separated from the world of “normal” people.

      Just take the example of David Cameron, former UK Prime Minister, himself a quite wealthy upper-class Brit. About two years ago, he wrote a letter to the county council of the town in which he resides, complaining about the serious inconveniences resulting from service cuts by the council.

      In a surreal epistolary exchange, the head of the county council had to explain to Mr David Cameron that the service cuts were the unavoidable consequence of the budget cuts (30% to 40%) to local authorities decided by the government of Prime Minister David Cameron…

    3. Kurtismayfield

      Oh, most people are seeing through the BS. Like when I see all the articles for millions of unfilled jobs, when I have friends competing against a dozen people in first round interviews for entry level jobs.

    4. neo-realist

      I think the rich are also confident in their greed because they live far away from the poorest that would rob their home and person. They also know that if somebody is driving or walking through their neighborhood that looks totally unlike their demographic—scruffy, used car that isn’t a Bentley or a Mercedes, a POC, they’re going to get stopped by the police and questioned about their presence.

      The rich also notice that demonstrations against greed, poverty, and oppression are watched by the police and are brutally put down by the police if they get too frisky.

      The rich will only worry if they lose the protection of the state……….or their own wealth. They will never have problems with the structures that protect their wealth.

      1. Eleanor Rigby

        I attended, as support staff, an academic faculty meeting at one of the nation’s top research centers (circa 2000). The department head spoke to his professors about the need to increase salaries because even tenured professors were being priced out of Seattle-area housing. My colleague and I laughed out loud.

  2. a different chris

    >Her assignment is to teach other members of her caucus essentially how to talk to people like the shoppers she encounters by the bananas at the Hy-Vee.

    You are supposed to be a representative of the people and you need instructions on how to talk to them?

    PS: I am also hoping that Kind used “Left” in the sense that we here use Liberal….

    1. Katharine

      I’m afraid you’re both too sanguine about Kind. I think he meant what he said. He doesn’t belong to the Progressive Caucus, hasn’t signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 676. We’re the ones he’s worried about.

      1. Gareth

        Ron Kind gets his money from the FIRE sector and big pharma, loves free-trade deals, is pro-fracking and pro-pipelines, thinks single-payer is impossible and probably doesn’t give a crap about identity politics unless mouthing the platitudes is required to raise more money, in which case he’s in. If any Wisconsin democrat deserves to be challenged in a primary it’s him. I could go on…

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It would be nice if we had a Democrat who could communicate to voters like Kind does, and who also had sane policies. I think that’s the point of the article.

  3. Vatch

    “If the midterm elections were held today, 54 percent of Americans would vote for Democrats”

    I looked at the article and the qu.edu poll data, and it doesn’t appear to have been broken down into Congressional districts. 54% to 38% seems like a wide margin, but gerrymandering and low voter turnout could help the Republicans substantially. Trump won the popular vote in 49 states, and lost by a huge margin in California. I hope the Republicans lose big, because I’m furious over the appointments of Scott Pruitt, Neil Gorsuch, Betsy DeVos, Jeff Sessions, and others. But this poll doesn’t tell me much.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s almost like the national polling is trying to create the perception of a “wave” election, as opposed to reflecting it. Of course, there are other factors: I would bet this national poll is simpler and cheaper to do, and the lazy story is easy to write.

  4. Deadl E Cheese

    I don’t know if Naked Capitalism knows about Kos’s hateful liberal hectoring of North Carolina yesterday, but it’s really apt in conjunction with that “Requiem For A Lightweight” link up there. Which everyone here should read. It’s good.

    Liberalism has really flipped its lid in the past half-year or so. I’ve said it before, on this website even, but I’m amazed at just how BADLY these dorks took Mommy Wokest going down in flames. Even for an ideology that is still nursing a grudge over McGovern two generations later, this is just BAD.

    1. Carolinian

      Most people around now probably don’t even know who McGovern is. And Kos is a Republican turned Dem and should hardly be held up as a typical “liberal,” whatever that is.

      Better said: the Dems have flipped their lids. Some of them may actually be liberals or, as we perhaps should call them, paleoliberals to distinguish from the neo variety.

      1. Deadl E Cheese

        Who cares if they don’t know who McGovern is? He (and other figures, like Carter and to a lesser extent Mondale) is a folk devil that liberals use to chase away any moves to the left. McGovern is the Hitler in the liberal’s formulation of Godwin’s Law.

        Moreover, I don’t see any reason to distinguish neoliberals from regular-ass liberals. Yes, that term is confused in America because A.) liberals, both the True Scotsmen liberals and not, take a variety of incoherent positions (so long as they’re not anti-capitalist or anti-nationalist) and B.) liberal has been used to describe pretty much anyone left of John McCain who doesn’t explicitly identify as a Marxist or anarchist.

        But when you get down to it, both neoliberals and paleoliberals believe in technocracy, meritocracy, secularism, cosmopolitanism, nationalism, and above-all-else capitalism. A smarter form of capitalism than fascists and conservatives and libertarians, but capitalism nonetheless. The differences in practice, without the pressure of unionists and pinkos to move them economically left, are small. I thus see no reason to indulge this fake division.

        Here’s one thing that ‘I’m a liberal, not a neoliberal’ loathe to admit: Lyndon B. Johnson and Franklin Roosevelt are much closer ideologically to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama than they are to, say, Jeremy Corbyn and Jill Stein.

        1. Darius

          FDR and LBJ believed in full employment. Unions too. Hillary and Barry the Judas Goat don’t. In fact, their primary goal is depressed wages. Because that’s what all their rich meritocratic friends want.

          1. Deadl E Cheese

            No, they didn’t. I mean, all four of them would’ve LIKED to have full employment, because that’s good for their image and power, but all four of them showed that when the chips were down, they’d rather protect capitalist interests than jobs. They don’t call it the Roosevelt Recession for nothing.

            As for unions? Heh! LBJ voted for the Taft-Hartley Act and let its repeal wither on the vine. Not unlike a certain Judas Goat who was just President, come to think.

            1. Darius

              Obama and Hillary actively don’t want full employment. The people they serve don’t want it. That’s why the Democrats are a smoking shell.

              FDR was fundamentally conservative. That’s why in 1937 he turned to balancing the budget. But he couldn’t tolerate a recession so in 38 he returned to deficit spending. Like Trump, FDR wanted to win and dominate.

              Johnson was pro union but carried water for Wall Street on the world stage. Thus, Vietnam.

              1. Deadl E Cheese

                Obama and Hillary actively don’t want full employment. The people they serve don’t want it.

                FDR was fundamentally conservative. That’s why in 1937 he turned to balancing the budget.

                These two statements are politically and morally equivalent. Obama’s inadequate stimulus and Hillary’s promise not to add a penny to the debt come from the same interests and ideology as FDR’s disastrous austerity. The only real difference is that FDR had enough of a cushion to recover after his plutocratic bootlicking and Obama didn’t.

                Also, what pro-union legislation or efforts did Johnson sponsor, either as a member of Congress or as President? Voting for Taft-Hartley is an enormous, permanent strike against any pro-union credentials — and unlike gay marriage was for the New Democrats, there was never any redemption on his part.

                Just face up to it. Paleoliberalism and neoliberalism are two sides of the same coin. Once you accept that Obama, Clinton, LBJ, and FDR fundamentally believed in the most of the same things WRT socioeconomics and war, history will make a lot more sense. “Love me, I’m a liberal” was written long before Atari Democrats entered the political arena.

                1. Darius

                  Austerity for FDR was a brief interlude. The recession of 37 broke his belief in it.

                  He didn’t depend on patrons who demanded it the way Obama does.

                  FDR also didn’t think getting screwed was a a sign of nobility and personal virtue the way Obama does. To him it was just losing, which he hated.

                  1. Deadl E Cheese

                    Austerity for FDR was a brief interlude. The recession of 37 broke his belief in it.

                    “Brief Interlude”. Give me a break. A 5% spike in unemployment and taking 3 years to recover to pre-recession levels is not a brief interlude. 5% is the spike from the beginning of the Great Recession to its peak.

                    More importantly, Roosevelt’s austerity was some level mandated because of his refusal to fully leave the gold standard despite having the best chance in generations, forwards or backwards, to do so; another way in which paleoliberalism fucks people over. There was no reason to not fully leave to the gold standard. Lincoln and Wilson showed that it’s possible to run an economy indefinitely off of one decades prior.

                    We shouldn’t really be surprised by this. FDR explicitly ran as an austerian for the 1932 Presidential Election and blamed his recession on monopoly power. He had his hand forced by extraordinary circumstance rather than a repudiation of austerity. Again, he’s pretty similar to Obama and Clinton.

                    He didn’t depend on patrons who demanded it the way Obama does.

                    Liberalism has this huge obsession with the intent of actions, rather than its effect. I don’t really care what FDR’s reasons were for implementing soul-crushing austerity or how bad he felt about it, what’s important is that he did do it.

                    Also, FDR’s political indebtedness to the Dixiecrat faction, a group on-the-whole evil as any Atari Democrat, was a huge driver of his austerity policy in the first place.

                    1. Yves Smith

                      This is not fair or accurate. The economy had recovered strongly and FDR thought he could cut back on the deficit spending. Dealing with a crisis like that was totally uncharted territory. Keynes later (not much later) said it would take a war to justify running deficits big enough long enough to get the economy back on track.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          As I keep saying, neoliberals put markets first; both conservatives and liberals are therefore neoliberals. The left does not, so the left is not neoliberal.

    2. John k

      How to explain their collective fury? Never, ever explained:
      They aspire to be mini Clinton’s. This means
      The corruption is a plus, not minus, because money is what the minis covet.
      The emails that expose DNC favoritism is ok because it serves the payers, therefore a plus by definition.
      The security breaches are no biggy because it made her life a little easier. Jail for that is absurd, it is well established jail is to keep the deplorables in line.
      Pushing down progressives is a plus because uni health care and higher wages would reduce elite standard of living. 15/hr for my gardener? The maid?? R U nuts?!? Besides, my stocks are up because we bring in cheap workers… plus we all know farmers can’t afford locals. You want us to starve? And falling earnings would mean falling prices!!

      Bernie should just go away, he’s already caused more than enough trouble.

      1. kimsarah

        All this “Lock her Up” business will fade away because Hillary has now accepted the election results and is moving forward. As Obama once said, looking backward does no good. Comey found nothing wrong with her emails, and there was never any reason to investigate her foundation. Besides, what does it matter?

        1. John Wright

          For low level crimes there is a willingness to convict someone and put them in jail.

          The claim is made that it deters others from similar behavior.

          If this works on the small scale, I believe it should also work on the larger scale of the Clinton email server wrt national security laws and the Clinton foundation wrt influence peddling.

          The idea that a company or individual is too important to jail is unworthy of a society that wants to perceived as fair and just.

          I’m still angry at the now dead Gerald R. Ford for granting an absolute pardon to Richard Nixon for crimes Nixon “might” have done.

          This was the primal “look forward, not backward” moment of recent times.

    3. clarky90

      It is like when the “mask of the psychopath” slips. It suddenly begins to dawn on the mark (the victim) that the smiling, sensitive, caring, deferential, helpful friend/partner/wife/husband/wife/boss/workmate/sibling/parent…. is in fact a patient, stalking predator.

      I have been experiencing this realization a lot lately. Personally with some of my friends and family, and globally with the MSM and World Politics.

      It has been upsetting- but liberating for me. I believe that many other people are also experiencing this? What I see, hear or intuit is a momentary flash of greed (covetousness) that is immediately suppressed.
      A glitch that reveals the face behind the mask.

      1. ambrit

        I see this quite clearly at work. The “what have you done for me lately” moment. The promised raise that never appears, the exasperated shrug when clear and precise work improvements are bought up for the “n”th time, and the ever present, “see, I bought everyone pizza, what’s this ‘raise’ business all about?”
        It reminds me of the perennial “I’m alright Jack,” moment.
        What the West needs today is a Neo-Dickens to document the Zeitgeist.

        1. Ulysses

          Excellent comment!

          This will never, ever change until the prosperity of the prosperous no longer rests on their extracting rents, and the surplus value of labor, from others.

  5. Jim Haygood

    How to monetise the poisoned fruit of the NSA’s research — from the FT:

    Hackers responsible for the wave of cyber attacks that struck organisations across the globe on Friday, from the UK’s National Health Service to European telecoms company Telefónica, used tools stolen from the US National Security Agency, the Financial Times has learnt.

    A tool known as “eternal blue”, developed by US spies was used by the hackers to make an existing form of ransomware known as WannaCry more virulent, three senior cyber security analysts said.

    Their analysis was confirmed by western security officials who are still scrambling to contain the attack that hit hospitals and doctors’ practices across the UK.


    Good luck trying to sue the NSA for damages. Let the blame deferral begin: it was the hackers’ fault, not ours. If only these tools had remained in our responsible [sic] hands, nothing bad would have happened.

    Meta justice would consist of using the NSA’s tools to hack the NSA, even deeper. :-)

    1. JTMcPhee

      Code, unfortunately, just wants to be free. “What could possibly go wrong?” “We can control this thing. Can’t we?” “The US has the monopoly on nuclear weapons.”

      A real cool application of pay-to-play…

    2. Andrew Watts

      The NSA is keeping us safe. Not from cyber threats obviously but from… something! If anything we need to give them more resources so they can clean up the damage they’ve incidentally caused.

      Do I even need the /sarc tag this time around?

      1. kimsarah

        No, we need to be kept safe and dumb. No need to worry ourselves about something that’s in our best interest. And for the skeptics, remember if you’ve done nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

        1. polecat

          The steak is juicy, and delicious !

          Here’s to another helping of blissy ignorance ..

      2. RWood

        And another slue of troops into Syr-Iraq-istan because we didn’t win there yet. The deep dorp is still flogging the rubble in different memes.

  6. pmorrisonfl

    Whatever the demerits of the mortgage interest deduction, I was still annoyed with the NYT “How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality” article. I’m reposting the comment I left there:

    > “It is difficult to think of another social policy that more successfully multiplies America’s inequality in such a sweeping fashion.”

    > “In 2015,” “That same year, the federal government dedicated nearly $134 billion to homeowner subsidies.”

    The article author isn’t thinking of the Fed’s various QE programs, which have subsidized lenders through the purchase of ~1.8 Trillion in mortgage-backed securities over a five year period after the financial crisis. MID is a drop in the bucket next to that.

    If you treated the 1.8T as a single 30 year mortgage at, say, 3.5% interest, that’s about a 10 Billion/month mortgage payment we’re collectively carrying to bail out whoever sold those MBS to the Fed. That’s about the same as the aggregate homeowner subsidies mentioned in the article. That’s a conservative estimate, since keeping those 1.8T of mortages on homes inflated will have effects on the comps in their neighborhoods.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      The official home ownership policy has always been discriminatory. Look up the history of the FHA and redlining.


      And when the suburbs started, the FHA would tell the developers that they couldn’t have a mixed neighborhood, so developers like Levitt made sure all they sold too were Caucasians. One of my favorite O’Reilly moments:


      Levitt was told by the FHA that a requirement of the subsidized loans the he received was redlining. They did not want mixed housing.

  7. 5:00 PM

    The GOP is acting as if 2018 won’t happen, or will be so rigged that they have nothing to worry about. This defies common sense, but this is the single dumbest Congress in US history. So, yeah.

    1. Vatch

      Why does it defy common sense that the 2018 election will be rigged in favor of the Republicans? In several states the Congressional districts are heavily gerrymandered, and almost always the distortions favor the Republicans. Illinois is the only exception that I know of.

      The President’s party usually loses some Congressional seats in the midterm elections, but since the Republicans exceed the Democrats in the House by 238-193 with 4 vacancies, they’ll have to lose a lot to enable to Democrats to seize control. There are 23 Democratic Senators facing reelection in 2018, and only 8 Republicans and 2 independents. So the Democrats have a lot to lose in the Senate, and not much to gain. Higher income people are more likely to vote in midterm elections, and those people are more likely to be Republicans than lower income people are.

      A lot depends on how motivated people are to vote, and in recent history, in the United States, many people stay home during the midterm election.

      1. Katharine

        If by exception you mean distortion favoring Democrats, Maryland is another: we used to have two Republicans in the House before the last redistricting (and even with that help, they only risked running a somewhat centrist Democrat to take the district).

        I think you’re right in most of your analysis, but don’t know whether recent history is a good guide to prospective turnout. People are awfully frustrated, and unfortunately (for people, not politics necessarily) things are likely to be worse a year from now.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Florida’s massively Republican/neoliberal/developer legislature and of course the governor have a lock. Gerrymandering helps, but they don’t even try (as a group). “I don’t belong to any organized political party. I’m a Democrat.” Nothing new there.

        The Dems are mopes, in a feckless minority in Tallahassee. The NRA has more power than the Dems. Despite registered Dems being a majority of declared-party voters in FL. Gerrymandering, yes, and the mopes don’t even try to play the political game any more. They do have nice little parties, and ineffectual protests and demonstrations, though. Five words: Charlie Crist Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

        And this:

        Tampa Bay Progressive Update


        Don’t miss the 9th Annual St. Pete Dems Club Picnic.

        Great food, live music, St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman and other electeds, candidates, and some of the most active, positive energy progressives in the county.

        All you can eat for just $15. Veterans eat for free! All proceeds go to getting local Dems elected.

        Bring a dish to share if you care to, but it isn’t required.

        St. Pete Dems Memorial Weekend Picnic
        Sun., May 28
        War Veterans Memorial Park
        9600 Bay Pines Blvd. (Next to VA)
        St. Petersburg, FL 33708
        (Facebook Event Page. Invite Your Friends!)

        Please either RSVP at the Facebook Event Page or by replying to this email. We need an accurate head count to make an efficient food buy.

        Also let me know if you’re up for showing early to help set up, or make calls to Dems inviting them to come.

        Can’t make it but want to sponsor the event? Let me know and I’ll get you a donation link.

        Mostly people with the usual *liberal* “interests” and “identities,” horse-trading space at tables at Big Events as part of their “coalitioning.” Be the ball!

        1. a different chris

          Veterans eat free! Thanks for your service, it’s the least we can do (and we always do the least)! We will for sure be needing more from you — as war keeps everybody distracted from problems within our borders…

          1. XMidway

            “Thanks for your service, it’s the least we can do (and we always do the least)!”
            Ain’t that the truth.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner





        Recent history is awfully difficult for people to comprehend. Perhaps they are too emotionally attached whereas no one knows anyone alive in 1860 and can have somewhat reasonable discussions about the election.

      4. SpringTexan

        Plus, voter suppression. Yes, Republicans are still in the catbird seat, incredibly.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Do you remember when Mitch McConnell’s “Party of No” strategy would destroy the GOP for a generation? That was a fun day and half.

      The Democrats are largely doomed until they clean house. The people who lost to Trump, McConnnell, and Ryan or the “single dumbest Congress in US history” are probably not the people to carry the torch.

    3. ABasLesAristocrates

      The GOP isn’t resting on its laurels. Between Trump’s executive order to form an election-integrity committee (that will inevitably recommend suppression of minority voters to “solve” election fraud) to Sessions’ order to lock up all the petty offenders and throw away the key, they are planning to make damn sure they don’t have anything to worry about by the time 2018 rolls around.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That fight needed to start in 2000 when Jebbie tried to steal the election with the Florida felon’s list.

        17 years later, here we are, the Democrats having done squat to expand the electorate, and planning to appeal to wealthy suburban Republicans by running as fake Republicans…

      2. skippy

        Not to worry they can just put them on a UBI and then argue negating voting fights…. presto… permanent underclass…

  8. oho

    >>“Black voter turnout fell in 2016, even as a record number of Americans cast ballots What could have been the problem?

    Politically incorrect idea—Many non-Beltway African-Americans are not fond of amnesty for undocumented/illegal migrations, particularly when that community is disproportionately hit by three strikes and heightened marijuana enforcement.

    And of course that those “superpredators” and “to heel” comments weren’t helpful either. neither was taking that whole community for granted. just saying.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I believe that there were economic gains, or at least some recovery, from the crash, for some strata, but this was by no means universal and blacks suffered more from foreclosures and unemployment. I can see why they would be unenthused, but staying home (as opposed to voting for Trump) would be their way to seek, er, “hope and change.”

      1. Darius

        The working class of any color has no reason to come out and vote for the Democrats.

    2. dcblogger

      this was the first election after the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Many blacks tried to vote and were turned away for lack of proper ID. The election was stolen thru voter suppression. Greg Palast has documented this.

      1. different clue

        As Lambert Strether has pointed out before, if the Clintoncratic Party had cared about making sure black wannabe voters had the ID to vote with ( which the Clintocrats did NOT care about), then they would have spent the billion dollars they burned on on Clinton on paying for getting all these black wannabe-voters the ID they needed instead ( which they did not do).

        1. kimsarah

          Notice how the Clintoncratic Party also supports charter schools and the segregation those schools create.

    3. PKMKII

      What, her stance on hot sauce wasn’t good enough for them!?

      On a similar politically incorrect idea line: I had heard, anecdotally, both black men who voted Trump/didn’t vote because they wouldn’t vote for a woman, and other blacks, men and women, who said they never vote but made a special exception when it came to Obama. So impressions upon the white working class aside, the neoliberal IdPol strategy fails due to a lack of solidarity amongst the identities.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        If the Democrats are all-in for a strategic hate management strategy, then they’re fighting on terrain the Republicans have long mastered. Not sure that’s wise (but heaven forfend the Democrats should run and win on universal direct material benefits). Then there is the fact that the odds of Republicans being armed is greater than Democrats being armed.

        “Push comes to shove, the center cannot hold…”

        1. ChrisAtRU

          We’ll see … the guy in the 2nd incident posted voted #HRC … not sure about the woman in the first. But again, Dems looking to hold the center for their corporate masters looks like another lost opportunity come 2018.


  9. George Phillies

    Quinnipiac at 36%
    But you did not quote the other outlier, Rasmussen at 48%.

    What happens in the next Congressional election depends on what happens from now to then. If the economy keeps improving, and unemployment keeps falling, Republicans are in good shape. Historically, the party that got the most popular votes of President loses seats two years later, and that is the Democrats.

    Even before building his wall, Trump can say that illegal entry into the United States appears to have crashed, while emigration appears to have climbed. It has not yet occurred to him to use capitalism, and subsidize illegal entrants to leave permanently. That change is likely to improve employment of voters.

    His orders on immigration from countries we are bombing is being appealed up through the court system. In the end, one side or the other will win.

    Impeach Trump? Readers will recall how well that worked for the Republicans when they impeached Clinton. Ditto, paralyzing the Senate as is being called for will have consequences.

    The 2018 elections are far up in the air.

    1. a different chris

      >But you did not quote the other outlier, Rasmussen at 48%.

      Yeah nobody takes Rasmussen seriously. However this is true:

      >What happens in the next Congressional election depends on what happens from now to then

      Plus the few months before the election have so much more weight than all that went before. And the “all politics is local” cliche that does not seem to be a cliche at all upon close inspection.

      1. Yves Smith

        Rasmussen has a known right wing bias in the way it words and orders questions. Simple changes in wording can easily change poll results by 10 points.

        1. dcrane

          The Rasmussen poll is also a “likely voter” poll, while most of the others at this time of the season are registered voter polls. LV polls tend to lean more Republican.

  10. PKMKII

    Your Vote Didn’t Count, and the Board Didn’t Tell You in Time to Do Anything About It

    More than 168,000 people cast paper ballots at the polls in last fall’s presidential election because their names did not appear on the voter rolls. The Board of Elections of the City of New York disqualified more than 78,000 of those ballots — and those votes did not count.

    Now, WNYC has learned that none of those voters were notified in time to challenge that decision as required by law.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Can we ironically file this story under “We are a nation ruled by law”? Or how about “Every vote counts… except for when it doesn’t and don’t expect to find out about it until it’s too late!”,

  11. dcblogger

    Proposal: UNC Law School Students Can’t Represent Students
    A new proposal by the University of the North Carolina Board of Governors would bar law school centers from representing public-interest cases, which puts into jeopardy the ability of law school institutions and student to participate in legal work in the state. The proposal has many at the university up in arms, including the UNC-Chapel Hill Law School Dean Martin Brinkley.

  12. dbk

    Thanks for the link to the Politico feature on Representative Cheri Bustos (IL-17). She is now my representative due to gerrymandering (aka, “redistricting”), and I’ve been following her relatively closely the past few months.

    I’m familiar with a fair extent of her district (from Peoria as far as Galesburg and Monmouth; my cousins worked in the Maytag factory in Galesburg and I’ve shopped at the Hy-Vee where she recently spoke with constituents), and agree that her take on what voters in these areas care about is the economy – aka, jobs – and also that Galesburg is a sort of “ground zero” of the globalization / offshoring crisis. Her approach to identity politics issues is basically my own and that of all my relatives and friends back home – okay, yeah, identity politics, but the really important issue is … jobs, jobs, jobs.

    One thing that the piece left out, though, is Bustos’s initiative “Build the Bench“. Basically, she organizes (and funds) one-day “boot camps” for constituents who are considering running for local offices – school boards, city councils, etc. Her first such initiative, which was held in Peoria, resulted in 12 candidates running for local offices, of whom 8 won, including positions where blacks/women had never or scarcely ever been elected (in Normal, Illinois, for example). It was pretty amazing, but received minimal national coverage.

    Bustos is a pragmatic Democrat genuinely in touch with her constituency. Admittedly, north-central/ north-western Illinois is not representative of every Democratic district in the U.S. Every district is unique, and IL-17 has small cities, tons of agriculture and dying industrial production over-layering a socially-conservative, economically-progressive base, but she’s one of us. We recognize and honor this; that’s why she won by 20% in 2016.

    1. a different chris

      >Admittedly, north-central/ north-western Illinois is not representative of every Democratic district in the U.S

      Yes and “xxxx is not representative of every Republican district in the US” can be written quite a few dozen times also. Not attacking you, just the opposite: different strokes for different folks on social issues but 99% of us care about paychecks so why isn’t that central to at least one of our parties?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The only thing I didn’t like about Bustos is her career in the health insurance industry; it means she’s likely to oppose #MedicareForAll. But ultimately, the single payer advocates must convince the pragmatists and I read Bustos as being open to that.

  13. cocomaan

    The “Trump denies PA emergency declaration” is definitely light on the details and may even be political posturing on the part of the embattled Wolf administration.

    Last year, PA’s emergency management bureau didn’t bother to apply for federal funding after several tornadoes ripped through central PA, causing some $8 million in damages: http://www.pennlive.com/news/2016/02/pema_disaster_declaration_and.html

    The request for FEMA assistance never happened.

    PEMA spokesperson Ruth Miller said the state would have to prove another $9.9 million in damage, for a total of $17.9 million, from storms that pelted the region with heavy winds and rains Wednesday before spawning the Category 2 tornado that touched down in Salisbury Township.

    “While the damages we’re seeing are extensive and devastating to those impacted, the costs to respond and recover are not expected, based on preliminary information, to meet that threshold,” Miller explained.

    “In that case, no individual would be eligible for the Public Assistance program.”

    She’s citing a number I can’t find. Further complicating it is that there’s per capital thresholds under Public Assistance program, so maybe this has to do with the number of people influenced by the disaster. But I’m sure someone more savvy than me can figure it out.

    In any case, this really appears to me to be Tom Wolf being a clown. He’s in the middle of a horrific budget negotiation at the moment, after going through horrific budget fights at the beginning of his term. When constituents told him that legalizing marijuana would increase revenue and reduce costs for law enforcement, he responded that PA was not ready for it. I anticipate that he won’t be reelected.

  14. Ranger Rick

    Porn isn’t infallible in determining the tech future all the time. They picked HD-DVD as the winner in the great mid-2000s format wars.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the thesis is that no medium that achieved success did so through or at least including porn. Failures would too, if porn is truly ubiquitous.

  15. allan

    Roger Stone contradicts Trump, says he has spoken to the president ‘very recently’ [NYDN]

    President Trump took to Twitter early Wednesday morning to shoot down reports that his confidant, political strategist Roger Stone, was among those who advised him to fire FBI Director James Comey.

    “The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false – Fake News. Have not spoken to Roger in a long time – had nothing to do with my decision,” read the president’s 5:57 a.m. tweet about a CNN report claiming Stone influenced Trump’s decision to fire Comey.

    A White House spokesperson even told CNN that “The President has not spoken to Roger Stone in many months and any reports suggesting otherwise are categorically untrue.”

    But in an interview with ABC’s The View Friday morning, Stone said that he had spoken to Trump “very recently.”

    When asked if he had urged Trump to fire Comey, Stone wouldn’t comment. But he confirmed that he had “occasional” and “private” conversations with the president.

    “They have to remain confidential,” Stone told The View. “He has to be able to ask for advice, or discuss politics and not find it on the front page.” …

    …or network TV.

    No one knows how to [FAMILY BLOG] a rat like Roger Stone.
    And like rats, he has the excellent sense of smell needed for survival.
    When you’ve lost Roger Stone …

  16. diptherio

    Co-op Geek here. I’m not super-impressed with this legislation. The main thig is the clumping together of ESOPs and Worker Co-ops, which are two very different things. Here’s my comment on Reddit, with a confirming reply

    ESOPs…{sigh}…Most are not at all democratic. Working for an ESOP is, in my experience, just working for a corporation with a slightly different benefits package. Also, look at the numbers: $45M to be divided among 50 states to build and expand employment centers, which won’t go very far. The loan fund is the most interesting part of this, imho, but I worry that it will be directed mainly to ESOPs and not to co-ops.

    [–]tusi2 1 point 3 hours ago

    ESOPs are the corporate answer to the cooperative model. I also worked for an ESOP, and while it sounds nice to work at an “employee-owned” company, the reality is how you describe it.

    Pretty much sums it up for me. I’m not opposed to federal help, but I’m hoping the “cooperative movement” doesn’t waste too much time working on this. Look what happened with the (kinda-not-really) CO-OPs under the ACA, and that was with a friendlier Congress.

    Every hour and dollar that goes into trying to get some version of this passed through the Congress is an hour and a dollar not going to directly assist the movement.

    1. xformbykr

      a semantic clarification and some comments:
      if ESOP stands for ’employee stock ownership program’, then one might work for a corporation that has an ESOP but not for the ESOP itself.
      I worked for a corporation with an ESOP. At the start, all employees were granted stock options in return for their contributions to company growth. This worked well until ‘marketing types’ began generate new business on the basis of promised performance that the company couldn’t really deliever. The marketing types would earn the stock option credits, not the working stiffs who had to meet the promised performance. In response, the granting formulas were changed to grant stock options in return for contributions to company profit. This had some moral hazards as well.
      Eventually the employee-owners sold out.
      IMHO the initial upper management were saint-like, with vision, integrity, and trustworthiness. As the company grew, and more managers were brought in, the cohesion decreased.

      1. diptherio

        There needs to be some kind of democratic management structure. Simple ownership of the company through stocks doesn’t cut it. How much control do stockholders have over a company’s policies generally? Little to none, as Yves will tell you. So just providing stock ownership to employees doesn’t necessarily make much difference, if the ownership isn’t matched with a real voice (and vote) in management issues.

        1. HotFlash

          I currently belong to several “coops” and have belonged to others in the past. I have little or no say in the running of most of the enterprises, other than to finance the enterprise (memberships rather than shares — not a lot of difference, functionally) and *sometimes* to vote for directors from a roster every year or so, usually people of whom I have never met and know little or nothing about beyond their potted bio. One privatized without warning the members, we just got an email one day, “Great news!” and eventually a cheque for my $25 membership contrib, which I never cashed. Hope they choke on it.

          I have friends who work for other types of coops, smaller and supposedly ‘worker-run’, but humans are political animals and things work out about as well as you have seen. Somebody floats to the top, and most people can’t be bothered with the governance side. I have seen it often devolve into something deliberately (I believe) arcane and *boring*, so as to discourage active participation. In some coops you can prefer to take a wage rather than take a risk, and many do, esp those for whom the coop job is seen to be temporary.

          In short, “coop” can be an excuse to raise capital from the workers rather than shareholders or a bank. I wish it weren’t so, but that’s what I see. Worker ‘owned’ is not the same as worker run. I see the crux as our inability and/or unwillingness to actually govern ourselves. What to do?

          1. diptherio

            Consumer co-ops are often problematic and de-mutualization has always been an issue, especially with housing co-ops. Many electric co-ops operate with essentially no member input, ditto for Credit Unions which are just financial co-ops owned by depositors. Everybody who’s ever gone to their Credit Union Annual Meeting or voted on the Board, raise their hand….that’s what I thought.

            So no, co-ops aren’t some kind of panacea and, as James Rzasa of Democracy Brewing put it, “the problem with co-ops is the same as the problem with unions: they’re made out of people.” However, at least in co-ops you have the ability to run for the board, make proposals, etc. Here’s a video about how a group of committed electricity co-op members re-democratized their co-op and got it committed to green energy:


            As for worker co-ops, there are well-designed, well-run, finacially successful worker co-ops and there are others that are none of those, and there are a bunch in between…just like businesses and non-profits generally. The ones I’m most impressed with in the US, are the Arizmendi bakeries in the SF Bay area and the Alvardo St. Bakery in (iirc) Seattle, all of which are highly successful. New Era Windows in Chicago is an inspiring story and they seem to be doing pretty well.




            For more, browse the GEO site.

  17. allan

    Wells Fargo may have created 3.5 million unauthorized accounts — 1.4 million more than estimated, attorneys say [LA Times]

    Wells Fargo & Co. may have opened as many as 3.5 million unauthorized checking, savings and credit card accounts over the past 15 years, far more than the bank and federal regulators reported last year, according to a new court filing.

    For months, the number of potentially unauthorized accounts bank employee credit card applications may have created stood at 2.1 million – a number reported by regulators last year. It is based on the San Francisco bank’s analysis of accounts opened and credit card applications submitted between May 2011 and July 2015.

    The new filing, submitted late Thursday by attorneys who are negotiating a class-action settlement with the bank, suggests an additional 1.4 million unauthorized accounts were opened dating to 2002. That’s the year, according to a recent bank internal investigation, that Wells Fargo executives first noticed the problem of employees opening accounts without customer authorization. …

    The filing also cautions that the 3.5 million figure could be an overestimate, though a reasonable one.

    Bank spokesman Ancel Martinez discounted the new number, though the bank has not released an updated figure of its own [because TBTF].

    Together we’ll go far – plus or minus 67%.

    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      I’m a bird watcher ( the avian type) but a more recent obsession of mine is watching the canary in the coalmine. It really started for me in 2008 when we all noticed that the money killers nearly offed the economy.

      If Wells Fargo can continue to operate, and the execs ever get to earn another cent, the coalmine is cactus as we say here in Australia.

      Pip pip!

      ps Don’t you guys and gals have banking licenses or summink?

      pps Isn’t there something in Christianity about usury?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      This was supposed to be a reply to allan a few comments above.

      The linked article is from 2008 and do note this bit:

      Stone worked for Donald Trump as an occasional lobbyist and as an adviser when Trump considered running for President in 2000. “Roger is a stone-cold loser,” Trump told me. “He always tries taking credit for things he never did.”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It seems to be a lot of noise, fake news and false leads.

      So much and so many that one a genuine piece comes, no one pays attention.

  18. Carey

    Sounds like the Aetna CEO sees a nice piece of the action coming available for them.

    I sure hope that does not happen.

    1. craazyboy

      More like the privates sharing the public monopoly cost of health insurance.

      I see a student loan_health insurance ETF opportunity. FangBank.

    2. PKMKII

      Ehh, more like they want to be a gov’t contractor for back-end admin work for single-payer. So they would be essentially doing the same thing as they are now, but with a more stable income flow.

    3. Ed Walker

      Private health insurance companies have provided back office services to Medicare since forever. Here’s a link to a page at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services with a description and links to further explanations.

      The CMS awards contracts for those services through a bidding process. It’s a commodity business, quite amenable to price control through competition, though obvioiusly there are risks of collusion and other ways to game the system.

  19. Bradley

    “Attorney General Jeff Sessions overturned the sweeping criminal charging policy of former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. and directed his federal prosecutors Thursday to charge defendants with the most serious, provable crimes carrying the most severe penalties” [WaPo]. That’s a kick in the teeth for Trump’s working class voters.

    Laws which exist but are only selectively enforced tip the weight of power heavily into the hands of those who decide when to apply them. I personally wish for all drugs to be legalized and unregulated. Is it reasonable for me to expect that enforcing these laws fully will lead to real progress in legislative change, since now citizens will be exposed to them more regularly and have a chance to react?

    1. darms

      So what does racist asshole Sessions think of financial fraud crime & associated penalties??? (hint – crickets)

      1. Yves Smith

        Presumably just the same as Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch. Not prosecuting financial crime is a function of elitism. Ironically, the last guy to do it, if I have the dates right, was John Ashcroft under George Bush, for Enron and all the early 2000s accounting frauds.

  20. Plenue

    >“The Secret Weapon Democrats Don’t Know How to Use” [Politico]

    “but he worries, he told me, about his party succumbing to ‘the temptation to lurch to the left in response to Trump.”

    THEN WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATS FOR?! He’s saying they shouldn’t be Left. Then what are offering that people can’t just get from the GOP? Your party literally has no reason to exist, dipshit.

    1. polecat

      There’s not a lick-spittle bit of difference between parties, where polices that affect non-delusional people are concerned. The 2016 campaign season and subsequent election made that pretty clear in my mind !

      I will never vote for anyone in either ‘legacy party’ again … EVER !

    2. Jeff W

      I’m not sure you understand.

      If the Democrats “lurched to the left” they might become genuinely popular like, I dunno, the most popular politician right now in the country. They might actually start winning. And then people might actually expect them to start passing genuinely popular legislation, instead of, y’know, just pleasing their donors. And then, really, where would we be?

  21. Karl Kolchak

    “But Trump also ran on jobs. Where are they? “The wall.” Where is it? And TrumpCare makes ObamaCare worse. In other words, Trump isn’t delivering on his unique selling proposition: MAGA.”

    Don’t forget, “Lock Her Up!” By almost immediately reversing himself on this “promise” (not that it was really his to make), Trump not only greatly disappointed his base, who wanted SOMEONE among the elites to pay for the crimes of neoliberalism, but he also cleared the way for the Clintons to come back at him without worrying that the FBI was going to descend on everyone involved with the Clinton Foundation with fistfulls of grand jury subpoenas.

  22. ewmayer

    “How porn has been secretly behind the rise of the internet and other technologies” [South China Morning Post]. True, I would argue, for all media, human nature being what it is. — I’ve long had a pet hypothesis that those famous fertility-goddess statuettes found in various parts of the world are essentially caveman porn. Note this implies a change in aesthetic to the effect that in modern times what are considered secondary correlates of fertility (big boobs, round buttocks) are considered sexy in women, whereas back in caveman days the real deal is what mattered. “D00d, check out Miss July – she looks like she’s about to have triplets!”

  23. LT

    RE: NY Times – Homeownership and inequality…

    Check the comments. A few are right on point about allowing renters to deduct their rent. Loooong overdue with the gauging going on in the cities.

    Homeownership is not what everyone wants. I can see how it’s preferable for families with kids.
    But there are so many other costs and factors (location, location, location).

  24. Jeff W

    Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini: “…we should have that debate…”

    Reminds me of

    “When it comes to things like how we conduct counterterrorism, there are legitimate questions there, and we should have that debate.”
    —President Barack Obama on drones, 14 February 2013

    Or, of course, the “health care” “debate” of 2009, which was neither about health care nor much of a debate.

    Seems like whenever anyone in power says “we should have that debate” it means “I’m on the losing side of something that everyone is coming to realize is not really debatable so I’ll concede a ‘debate’ and then, if forced to, frame it in terms that render the debate meaningless”—i.e., having some thing called “single payer” with a multiplicity of private, for profit health insurance companies.

  25. LT

    RE: Dr Housing Bubble…
    “many are waiting for their parents to kick the bucket so they can own…”

    That will be an interesting situation for the ones with more than one child.
    There are all kinds of scenarios that could mess up that plan.

  26. subgenius

    Why the fk are people still arguing politics in a framework consisting of Republicans and Democrats?

    What will it take to make people realize that a) they are essentially the same; b) the ARE the problem; c) change isn’t ever going to come from inside a system totally owned by oligarchs/whatever..?

    Seriously, I cannot get my head around it…

    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      Yes, subgenius at 8:01 pm

      it is a riddle wrapped in an enigmatic lobbyist’s paycheck.

      I think that political parties as they are currently operated, are just like a baby’s rattle in the face of us disgruntled infants – used to distract us so that there is no real screaming, no redness fit-to-burst, or loss of total control. Mean time – their real “business” carries on.

      I would really like not to believe the above, but on an optimistic note to counter your item c.: They (whoever they are) might come to their senses and decide to stop soiling their own patch.

      – doubt it will be in my time.

      Pip Pip!

  27. allan

    Trump’s Expected Pick for Top USDA Scientist is not a Scientist [ProPublica]

    The USDA’s research section studies everything from climate change to nutrition. Under the 2008 Farm Bill, its leader is supposed to serve as the agency’s “chief scientist” and be chosen “from among distinguished scientists with specialized or significant experience in agricultural research, education, and economics.”

    But Sam Clovis – who, according to sources with knowledge of the appointment and members of the agriculture trade press, is President Trump’s pick to oversee the section — appears to have no such credentials.

    Clovis has never taken a graduate course in science and is openly skeptical of climate change. While he has a doctorate in public administration and was a tenured professor of business and public policy at Morningside College for 10 years, he has published almost no academic work. …

    Clovis has a B.S. in political science from the U.S. Air Force Academy, an MBA from Golden State University and a doctorate in public administration from the University of Alabama. The University of Alabama canceled the program the year after Clovis graduated, but an old course catalogue provided by the university does not indicate the program required any science courses.

    Clovis’ published works do not appear to include any scientific papers. His 2006 dissertation concerned federalism and homeland security preparation, and a search for academic research published by Clovis turned up a handful of journal articles, all related to national security and terrorism….

    These left wing bloggers [as Sean Spicer called ProPublica] really do have a credentialism fetish, don’t they?
    Just because he doesn’t have a science degree doesn’t mean that Mr. Clovis doesn’t understand the most pressing issues facing the USDA … oh, never mind …

    … Clovis has repeatedly expressed skepticism over climate science, and has called efforts to address climate change “simply a mechanism for transferring wealth from one group of people to another.” …

    Clovis will have as long and distinguished a career as Earl Butz.
    Iowa, you bought him, he’s yours.

  28. mk

    “President Trump denies Pa.’s disaster relief request for March snowstorm” [Penn Live]. Another kick in the teeth.
    President Trump might also withhold funds for fixing the Oroville Dam too:

    The amount of money Donald Trump’s administration reimburses California for repairs to Oroville Dam could depend on whether the state properly maintained the dam’s spillway prior to it crumbling this winter, a state water official told lawmakers Thursday.

    “Was this deferred maintenance?” Bill Croyle, the acting director of the state Department of Water Resources, told members of the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee. “Is there a maintenance issue here because they’re not going to cover that. If it’s an emergency response, they’re going to cover.”

  29. robnume

    Hey there, lyman alpha blob. Great link. Thank you. I was a subscriber for decades to the New Yorker and I wonder how I missed that great story on Roger Stone.
    I get Showtime here at home and IIRC, Roger, who no longer looks like a body builder, that’s for sure, is the star of that SHO show, “Inside the Circus,” which followed the 2016 Presidential Charade. SHO should have ended the show at the conclusion of the election, but since SHO is owned by CBS and all of the networks apparently really, really hate Trump, they have decided to keep the show on. Why they decided that is beyond me. From my perspective, when the elections over the show should be done.

  30. LT

    Re: Jacobin on Markos

    Markos was chosen as the MSM voice of the left because he was a military vet.
    You gotta love the war culture…

    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

      You’ve got to remember that blood-legitimacy trumps all, and the military is the bedrock of civilization. War is often just a way to keep all that legitimacy at arms length; well, preferably oceans away.

      Pip pip

      ps Too old for humble opinions.

  31. toolate

    “It enshrines the idea that people need a third party to get health care.”


  32. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

    Perhaps the unconscious cry of all those who wish the Twitterer-in-chief wouldn’t twit:

    Donny… Don’t!

    Following the usual tortured logic that infamous “insurance” scheme could be (should be):


    It rolls off the tongue nicely – even when ulcerated and furry.

    Pip Pip

    *free to all who want to use it unless there is a pre-existing lack of a sense of humor.

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