2:00PM Water Cooler 5/22/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Japan and other members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreed on Sunday to pursue their trade deal without the United States as the Trump administration’s ‘America First’ policy created tension at a meeting of Asia-Pacific countries” [Reuters]. “Turmoil over global trade negotiations was laid bare at a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, which failed to agree on its usual joint statement after U.S. opposition to wording on fighting protectionism.”

“New Zealand Splits With Malaysia Over Reworking TPP Without U.S.” [Bloomberg]. “Malaysia’s Trade Minister Mustapa Mohamed said in an interview on Friday his country was less keen to proceed. ‘One of the reasons we decided to be part of the TPP was the potential access to the American market,’ he said. ‘And if that does not happen one of the major motivations to be part of the TPP will be removed.'”

“Lighthizer held formal bilateral meetings [at APEC] with his counterparts from Canada, Japan, Mexico, Vietnam, China and Australia, according to USTR” [Politico].

“A talk with Mexico’s NAFTA advocate” (Kenneth Smith Ramos) [DC Velocity]. “Q: There is a lot of talk about manufacturing returning from Asia to North America. Are you seeing evidence of that in Mexico? A: Yes, we are. Since China entered the World Trade Organization [in 2001] China has been strongly competing with Mexico for U.S. business and also for business within Mexico. In fact, some Mexican manufacturing moved to Asia. So we tried to incentivize advanced, higher value-added manufacturing to locate in Mexico through a network of free trade agreements and, for the domestic sector, a program of duty-free inputs for industries such as electronics, steel, and automotive. This was quite successful.”



“Cuomo’s hiring of former Obama, Clinton staff costing NY $1.5M” [Newsday]. Ka-ching.


UPDATE Chairman Democrat Party Deck Chair John Burton to single payer protestors: “Hey, shut the f*ck up or go outside” [Los Angeles Times]. “He told protesters that the Democratic Party had been fighting for single-payer healthcare ‘since before you were born.'” Ah. “Fighting for.”

UPDATE “The DNC chair’s opening remarks were drowned out by boos and screams of ‘Liar!’ and ‘Hot air!’ Burton stood to the side of the stage, clearly distressed by the upheaval” [In These Times]. Perez: “I need you all to help us play defense.” The best defense is a good offense, no? We need a Grant, and all the Democrat Establishment can give us is one McClellan after another.

“”Berniecrats” and like-minded Democrats looking to shake up their party leadership refused Sunday to accept the election of longtime party insider [and pharmaceutical lobbyist] Eric Bauman and demanded validation in the race for [California Democrat] party chairman” [Associated Press]. “Bauman defeated Ellis by 62 votes out of nearly 3,000 cast — a razor-thin margin for a candidate who lined up support from most of the state’s elected Democrats and, until recently, was widely expected to win with minimal opposition. He had a natural advantage in an election where many delegates were selected by party insiders and elected officials.”

“Democratic organizer Kimberly Ellis, who lost her bid to lead the California Democratic by a razor-thin margin, on Sunday questioned the validity of the election and called for an audit of the vote” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘I will not concede this race until we have validated the results,’ Ellis said….. Ellis said she met with California Democratic Party staff and executives and “shared with them some concerns” with some of the voters that were cast. Ellis supporters are questioning whether all the votes came from credentialed party delegates.”

“DNC Chair Tom Perez says Trump, Putin in ‘bromance'” [Sacramento Bee]. The way liberals frame whatever assocation Trump and Putin have as “so gay” is bizarre. One might almost consider it homophobic, except, of course, these are liberals, who would never, ever use a serious issue like racism, sexism, or any form of prejudice in “any stick to beat a dog” fashion.

“In an interview with this newspaper earlier on Saturday, Bauman said, ‘Every time we’ve had a movement election, there’s an influx of new people in the party, and they feel they’re on the outside,’ he said. ‘If we’re smart, we bring them in, and they infuse the party with new ideas and new strength. I welcome that, because I want people to come in with new ideas'” [Monterey Herald]. Single payer is an old idea. Perhaps that’s Bauman’s problem with it?

Imperial Collapse Watch

Not sure who did the advance on this, or whether they still have work:

And the idea of a Saudi anti-terrorism center seems crazy pants:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Residents of most U.S. states that voted for President Donald Trump last November had an average credit score nearly 20 points lower than people in states that voted for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, according to this analysis of Experian’s “Premier Aggregated Credit Statistics” using the VantageScore 3.0 credit score model for each zip code in each state. While credit scores don’t necessarily reflect people’s income or debt levels, they do give a bird’s-eye view into people’s ability to repay personal loans, manage their finances and pay off credit cards on time” [MarketWatch]. “Except for Wisconsin, swing states that voted for Barack Obama in the 2012 election and Trump in 2016 had a decline in their average credit score. The swing states of Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania all saw a decline in average credit score from 2012 to 2016. In Florida, the average credit score dropped to 672 in 2016 over that period. In Michigan, it fell to 683 from 690 and fell to 694 from 700 in Pennsylvania…. Other research appears to support this theory. Southern states — Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Louisiana, which all voted for Trump in 2016 — typically have lower credit scores than the rest of the U.S., personal-finance site ValuePenguin reported.” Thomas Fergusons’s analysis of the Massachusetts in 2010 and foreclosures, writ large?

“Paging Rahm: House Dems revive 2006 playbook for 2018” [Politico]. Yes. And I remember very well the way that Howard Dean, whose 50-state strategy won that election, was immediately defenestrated. I also remember how Pelosi immediately took impeachment off the table (and Bush should have been impeached for his warrantless surveillance program, which involved multiple felonies, as well as executive over-reach generally. Of course, Obama voted to retroactively legalize the former, and rationalized and consolidated the latter And so it goes). This is exactly what the left can expect the same plauers to try ten years later. That’s the signal installing Perez sent. (What, you thought kicking the left and hippie punching wasn’t part of the playbook?)

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, April 2017: “The big jump in industrial production, which included a 1.0 percent surge in the report’s manufacturing component, gave a strong lift to the national activity index” [Econoday]. “March. Employment was also a positive in April offsetting a decline in personal consumption & housing that reflected flat readings for spending and weakness in housing starts and permits. April was a good month for the economy though the strength did not extend to the all important category of consumer spending.” And but: “The production increase primarily reflects a correction from previous weakness, but will underpin confidence” [Economic Calendar]. And: “The Chicago Fed report is seen adding to prevailing sentiment in financial markets and among economists that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again at its policy meeting next month”‘ [MarketWatch].

Credit: “Going from bad to worse, so the way things are going seems the contribution to year over year GDP growth in q2 from credit expansion will be less than it was in q1” [Mosler Economics].

Debt: “Many Americans who are in trouble because of debt owe money for things other than student loans and credit-card bills” [MarketWatch]. “Credit Sesame, a site consumers can use to check a version of their credit score, analyzed more than 5,000 accounts of users who opened their accounts in the last 30 days and found they had significant amounts of debt from medical expenses and bills for cellphone service and utilities…. Customers whose medical debt had gone into collections had an average of three accounts, amounting to a combined total of $3,670 in collections. … The average balance for customers who had cellular phone accounts in collections was $887 per account. Cellular phone companies don’t typically report bill payment history to credit bureaus, the study said, until they go into collections…. And customers whose utility bills fell into collections owe $368 on average per account, the study concluded.”

Retail: “Infographic: The Accelerating Pace of Apparel Retail Bankruptcies” [Sourcing Journal].

Shipping: “‘For nearly two decades, global trade has grown at about twice the speed of GDP,’ [Frederic Neumann, HSBC economist] said. ‘Now, exports are expanding at roughly the same pace as economic growth, and last year even more slowly. That suggests Asia’s recent trade rebound is more an aberration than a return to the days of vibrant exports.'” A minority view, but: “[He] said that while exports this year had been better than expected, there were now signs that exports are decelerating as shipments are ‘rolling over’ to a later shipment date – because the cargo isn’t needed immediately as stocks are adequate. ‘New export orders, a useful leading indicator, are also softening,’ he added. ‘Partly, that’s because a big inventory re-build is fading; partly, it’s because Chinese demand is cooling; and partly, it’s because, perky sentiment indicators notwithstanding, activity in the West hasn’t lifted meaningfully yet.'”

Shipping: “UPS Inc. and FedEx Corp. are offering a new type of pricing for deliveries within a 50-mile radius, according to a person familiar with the companies’ strategy, in a move designed to divert local ‘last mile’ business-to-consumer traffic normally moving with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS)” [DC Velocity].

Shipping: “San Francisco is considering legislation that would ban sidewalk delivery robots” [ReCode]. “The new robot ban proposal in San Francisco comes as two states, Virginia and Idaho, recently passed laws to broadly permit the use of driverless delivery rovers. Other states, like Wisconsin and Florida, are currently considering near identical legislation, which allows sidewalk delivery robots to use crosswalks and sidewalks statewide without a person walking alongside them. Still, the laws all still require a person to be somewhere in the loop remotely in case something goes awry. The Idaho and Virginia legislation that has passed also permits municipalities to craft their own version of the law, like how fast the robots are allowed to go, or to ban them entirely, like what Supervisor Yee in San Francisco is proposing. The wave of state legislation condoning the use of ground robots is being championed by Starship Technologies, an Estonian company that was started by two Skype co-founders… ”

Supply Chain: “Most drones deliveries are for small items like medicine and electronics, but JD.com Inc. wants to change that. China’s No. 2 online retailer plans to launch drones capable of transporting at least one ton of goods in the central province of Shaanxi, the WSJ Logistics Report writes. JD is bucking the trend set by e-commerce and logistics companies like Amazon.com Inc. and United Parcel Service Inc., which are experimenting with drone-delivery of small items. JD thinks its heavy-duty aircraft can transport produce to far-off urban markets and bring bigger volumes of high-quality goods to rural villages. Both approaches are attempting to solve the same question: how to extend the reach of e-commerce into the hinterlands” [Wall Street Journal]. A ton? Holey moley! Oh, and thank you, WSJ writers and editors, for “hinterlands.” Nice to be written off explicitly.

Infrastructure: ” But some states and cities are already working to improve local roads and bridges, even as President Donald Trump’s $1 trillion infrastructure plan remains more of an idea than a legislative reality. About 9% of U.S. bridges are structurally deficient, down from 15% in 2000″ [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s due to a surge in spending at the state and local levels, which has moved critical projects forward even as new funds have been tied up in budget battles at the federal level…. That’s not to say problems don’t exist: the backlog for bridge repairs and replacement is growing, and while highways are generally in good shape, conditions on smaller local roads are getting worse.” On the smaller roads: In my small town, the main streets are well paved. There are some side streets — and these are on a small, local bus route! — that it might be best just to let go to gravel if we’re not going to repair them. I’d be very surprised if the state and local spending wasn’t reinforcing The Big Sort.

Five Horsemen: “Google in, Google out” [TechCrunch]. “Call it the Triumph of the Stacks […] Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. These big five American vertically organized silos are re-making the world in their image…. The most “living in the future” project I saw at I/O was, to my surprise, Project Tango, Google’s augmented-reality initiative, about which I had been skeptical. The image above, of yours truly cavorting with a Tango creation, may make it look like a Pokémon-esque toy … but don’t be fooled. Tango can do a whole host of eye-opening things, like 3D-scanning and rendering your surroundings — on your phone, in real time — or superimposing dynamic virtual objects, like whole wardrobes of clothes, onto fixed ones, like mannequins, again in real time. It’s early days yet, but the possibilities are clearly extraordinary.” We have different definitions of “clearly extraordinary,” don’t we? To me, it would be “extraordinary” if every American citizen had dental. It takes all kinds to make a world, doesn’t it?

The Bezzle: “Nine months later, Pittsburgh residents and officials say Uber has not lived up to its end of the bargain. Among Uber’s perceived transgressions: The company began charging for driverless rides that were initially pitched as free. It also withdrew support from Pittsburgh’s application for a $50 million federal grant to revamp transportation. And it has not created the jobs it proposed in a struggling neighborhood that houses its autonomous car testing track” [New York Times]. Nobody could have predicted…

Honey for the Bears: “Elliott makes distressed debt hires in expectation of downturn” [Financial Times]. “Elliott Management, the activist hedge fund that spent 15 years battling Argentina over its defaulted debt, has hired new distressed credit specialists to position itself for a market downturn and a possible wave of restructurings.”

Honey for the Bears: “Tracking submarket revenue per available room during past declines gives some insight into what point in the cycle U.S. RevPAR begins to follow that downward trend” [Hotel News Notes]. The bottom line: “So where do we stand today? In February of this year, 44% of all submarkets showed RevPAR declines and RevPAR in the U.S. still grew 1.2%. March data was obviously more positive because of the Easter shift (only 10% of submarkets showed RevPAR declines). And in April, RevPAR growth continued to be slightly positive (+1.7%), but the number of submarkets with negative RevPAR was 49.3%. If the trend continues and if prior cycles are an indicator of future performance, we are in for a rocky ride.”

The Fed: “Washington ‘dysfunction’ won’t stop Fed from hiking interest rates in June” [MarketWatch]. “Analysts said they were not swayed by the fall in Wall Street expectations for a rate hike on Wednesday. Fed funds futures fell along with U.S. stocks on concerns that President Donald Trump’s pro-growth legislative agenda was in jeopardy. ‘I’m pretty sure the decline in federal-funds futures is in response to things the Fed doesn’t care about,’ said Thomas Simons, an economist at Jefferies. ‘I don’t think they are concerned with a general dysfunction in Washington,’ he said.”

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on volcanoes. “A increase in volcanic activity has upgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 48 Neutral (previous close: 49, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 22 at 12:01pm.

Dear Old Blighty

I’d be interested to hear the views of our UK readers on the latest news of the general election.

“Jeremy Corbyn got on stage at a Libertines gig and nobody could quite believe it” [Metro UK]. Watch the video. It’s quite extraordinary, both for the platform Corbyn proposes, the confidence of his presentation and demeanor, and for the crowd reaction. And I’m getting the feeling that if a Libertines crowd wasn’t into what Corbyn was saying, they would have been happy to share their feelings.

“Grime for Corbyn” [Jacobin]. “A wave of endorsements have brought Britain’s most vibrant music scene together with its most left-wing political leader.”

“Jeremy Corbyn has defied his critics to become Labour’s best hope of survival” [Guardian]. Why they hate him!

“Theresa May backs down on ‘dementia tax’ social care plans” [Financial Times]. Whoops.

“Labour is surging in the polls – and it’s all because the media is finally giving Jeremy Corbyn impartial coverage” [Independent]. “Labour’s poll bounce coincides with general election broadcast rules kicking in. The public are finally seeing that Jeremy Corbyn is not the person he has been portrayed as in sections of the right wing press, although some broadcasters still insist on using the pejorative term “hard left”, which is somewhat at odds with polling that indicates the public supports the policies in the Labour manifesto.” Given that, IMNSHO, May called the election to try to eliminate Labour as a political force, Corbyn simply coming out no worse off than before is a tremendous win for him. Granted, a “moral victory”…

Our Famously Free Press

“Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence” [Guardian] (the Facebook files). “Sarah T Roberts, an expert on content moderation, said: ‘It’s one thing when you’re a small online community with a group of people who share principles and values, but when you have a large percentage of the world’s population and say ‘share yourself’, you are going to be in quite a muddle. Then when you monetise that practice you are entering a disaster situation.'” And then when a ginormous oligopoly goes it…

“Welcome to the next phase of Facebook privacy backlash, where the big fear isn’t just what Facebook knows about its users but whether that knowledge can be weaponized in ways those users cannot see, and would never knowingly allow” [Wired]. More on Facebook’s mass experiment in emotional manipulation.

Health Care

Class Warfare

“Fully 87% of seniors living in households earning $75,000 or more a year say they have home broadband, compared with just 27% of seniors whose annual household income is below $30,000. Educational differences follow a similar pattern, with college graduates adopting technology at much higher rates than seniors with lower levels of formal education” [Pew Research].

“Mediated Reality is No Match for Personal Experience” [JSTOR Daily]. “[Sociologist and media theorist George] Gerbner’s theory, called ‘cultivation theory.’ claims that the way that the world is represented in the media greatly influences our understanding and beliefs about reality. Though we are all affected by these representations, those who consume the most media are most affected. … But the impact of that mediated reality is not absolute. One powerful criticism of cultivation theory put forward by Daniel Chandler argues that the media’s ability to impact our sense of reality is heavily tempered by our lived experience. Basically, if you have personal experience with an issue or group of people, you won’t be as swayed by the media’s representation; your own experience will supersede even a pervasive and virtually inescapable mediated reality.”

News of the Wired

“IN THE MATTER OF THE SEARCH OF CONTENT THAT IS STORED AT PREMISES CONTROLLED BY GOOGLE” (PDF) [UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA]. “Google has a distributed system where algorithms determine how it sends and stores data — in packets or component parts — in aid of overall network efficiency. In this case, the result is that Google has content that is responsive to the search warrant and is stored wholly outside of the United States…. The [Stored Communications Act (SCA)] regulates disclosure of data in a service provider’s possession. The service provider — Google — is in the district and is subject to the court’s jurisdiction; the warrant is directed to it in the only place where it can access and deliver the information that the government seeks. This disclosure is a domestic application of the SCA. The court thus orders Google to produce all content responsive to the search warrant that is retrievable from the United States, regardless of the data’s actual location.” Hmm.

Today: “Twitter shareholders set to vote on whether to convert company into co-op” [Salon (DB)]. “Though the proposal is unlikely to pass, the fact that such a radical idea made it to a shareholder vote is significant. Many commentators and intellectuals believe that social media companies are more akin to public utilities, and should exist as such. It makes sense: For many, having a Twitter account or a Facebook page has become as indispensable as owning a phone or having electricity.”

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Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here.

And here’s today’s plant (Re Silc):

* * *

Re Silc: “I can grow weeds.” Gravel, too!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the Naked Capitalism fundraisers. 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. windsock

    UK contributor here:

    Theresa May’s attempt to move on to Labour territory is not proving as astute as she would have wished… why vote faux left when, at last, we have a real social(ist) democrat to vote for? Her rapid U turn on adult social care funding has proved the lie that “strong and stable” always was. Corbyn is maintaining humour and energy and even the attacks of “IRA supporter” are wearing thin…. For many voters, that was an issue for the last century. Mind you, if May chooses a Brexit that re-introduces the hard border in Northern Ireland, it will re-open old wounds, as could the press campaign against Corbyn.

    There are still two and a half weeks to campaign, but slowly Corbyn is cutting back the Tory lead – not that the Labour rightwing die-hards are showing any gratitude; they are still getting on with the back stabbing. Anyone would think they didn’t want a socialist government.

    1. begob

      Seems to me the UK election has turned into a solution to the UKIP paradox, where supporters of the party favoured policies that both major parties had considered well buried.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I think things are turning out surprisingly well for Corbyn. Labour are far too far back to win, but the obvious determination of the conservative establishment to destroy Labour means that any sort of half respectable showing can be spun as a victory for Corbyn. And I suspect that he won’t do as badly as the Tories (and the Blairites) had hoped. He is benefiting from the low expectations.

      What I find curious about the polls is that in these circumstances alternative parties should be doing well. But the Lib Dems are flatlining and the Greens don’t seem to be gaining any traction. The UKIP are in freefall.

      1. Clive

        Yes, this is anecdotal so not worth a jot, but a good half a dozen of my middle class circle have said, unprompted, they are fed up with the Conservative party and are voting Anything But Tory. Now, in this deep deep blue constituency where I live, it is a protest vote and won’t change the result.

        But these are a habitual, unquestioning right-of-centre crowd, usually free-markets-this, discipline-of-consumer-choice-that, big-government-and-all-taxes-bad-theother tropes aplenty. They all, though, have teenage, college student or twenty something children.

        And they all have, finally you might say, sussed out that while they have a good foothold on middle class-dom, the kids ain’t got a hope in Hell. There’s nothing these parents can do about it. Setting these offspring up for even the foothills of being middle class will cost them £250,000 a pop. Each. These are not 0.1%-ers. They don’t have the readies.

        Me thinks it has hit them like a hammer. Just in the last couple of years.

        So, this isn’t necessary going to be a foregone conclusion.

        1. jsn

          Yes, per the link above, all the propaganda in the world can’t overwrite the school of hard knocks and seeing the toes of your spawn enter the the gears of the grinder is a hard knock!

          More and more of the “middle class” are having very real experiences again over the decade since the GFC and no longer identify with any loyalty to the images propagated via mass media.

          Streeck’s “repressed” may no longer be a minority to the extent a real leftist vision can penetrate the corporate fog machine.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, it must be really pinching – again anecdotally, but I know some fairly well off people in the Uk (10%ers, not 1%ers) who are slowly beginning to realise that their kids will never, even with all the advantages they can give them, aspire to the lifestyle they had – unless they have property to give them.

          The latest news is that the average price for a home now is £317,000, which I find astonishing – who on an average wage can raise a mortgage for that amount? I bought a house in Birmingham when I lived there for £48,000 back in 1993, and I thought it was crazy money then. I sold it in 1997 and there had hardly been a move in the market. Silly me.

          Going back to the polls, I do wonder if the Tories may suffer from having thrown everything at Corbyn too early. There comes a point where it just doesn’t stick any more. Corbyn is in the nice position that he doesn’t have to win, he just has to exceed expectations.

          On the point about the minor parties, I do find it disappointing that Labour won’t do a deal with the Greens. There are maybe half a dozen seats that could be picked up from the Tories and Lib Dems that way. In Northern Ireland its common for deals between parties to take place quietly, even while they are screaming at each other in public (i.e. between the SDLP and SF on one side, and DUP and UUP on the other). The SDLP and SF will gain at least 4 seats between them that way.

      2. PKMKII

        Not sure about Greens. Lib Dems took the golden opportunity they had when they were the minor party in the coalition with the Tories and squandered it. UKIP got victory on their one party platform with mass appeal, and the rest of it is too toxic for mainstream voters.

        1. Darn

          Lib Dems not only chose to enter coalition with the Tories (when a Lab-Lib-SNP-Plaid-DUP coalition would have been possible) but to lock themselves in with the Fixed Term Parliaments Act for five whole years. And then despite their unpopularity they never thought of leaving the coalition at least not in any public discussion.

          I think UKIP isn’t one issue, it’s two. EU membership, and immigration. UKIP is polling terribly now, so May has united the right, but whether UKIP comes back depends on whether she does cut immigration if she wins.

          1. windsock

            Why vote for faux Tories when you can have the real thing? (That applies to both Lib Dems – on their coalition showing – and UKIP.)

    3. Darn

      I’m a Labour Party member in Northern Ireland. Corbyn’s remarks on the IRA have been infuriating but I voted for him as party leader in both elections because even if he fails the Blairites must be shown that a pro-austerity leader can’t be elected, and healing politics and the economy after the GR and austerity is priority number one.

      Private Eye showed how he stated in a publication he edited that an anti-IRA article that appeared when he was away shouldn’t have been printed. And there were McDonnell’s comments… and yet, would they be pro-Sinn Féin if elected? Interestingly, after he was NI Secretary, arch-Blairite Peter Mandelson called the IRA “freedom fighters” as part of the peace process. Comments he later “clarified” and the DUP accepted this. Something similar with Corbyn and the DUP last year. Meanwhile, the Tory-appointed ambassador to the Irish Republic went to a book launch for Sinn Féin and called the recent 2 murders committed by the IRA “bumps in the road” of the peace process, and this got no attention…

      The IRA is still, effectively, armed with the remains of the Northern Bank robbery proceeds (I suppose £5 million after seizures etc), it also makes millions every year from organised crime in the south. So they can rearm any time they want and the govt knows this. Would Corbyn help swing things SF’s way? His comments yesterday about “opposing all bombing” were not good enough. What about shooting? What about the morality of the entire IRA and other terrorist campaigns?

      Fortunately he has now said this http://metro.co.uk/2017/05/22/jeremy-corbyn-has-finally-called-the-ira-terrorists-6653633/ Maybe there is still wiggle room, or he is pretending. But I feel 90% better about him becoming PM than I did before.

    4. paul

      North of the border, things are pretty much the same, where I live the only campaign posters are for the sitting SNP candidate.

      The SNP, I think, are going to be harmed by their success in ameliorating the worst apects of westminster’s mindless cruelty, but they will be far and away the leading party.

      Like Clive, I have a mother in law with a heart of gold but critical faculties made of something far less malleable, and even she thinks corbyn is getting an unfairly bad press.

      The BBC has pretty much moved into irredeemiable status, I’d run out of shoes and tv sets if I had not withdrawn my viewership.

      This stunt is typical of our sovreign broadcaster

      Labour won without needing scottish votes in the blair years, so it can be done.

      I do have the suspicion that the tories would love to dump the brexit shit straight into labour’s lap, but I am prone to dark, terrible thoughts.

      This morning a personalised mailer from Labour arrived , promoting someone I’d never heard of, paid for by an ex counciller with a reputation for familly interests and bearing the recommendation of a deeply unpleasant (though honest), neo con blairite who hasn’t figured locally for 10 odd years.

      Labour here are dead, reduced to advising voters to vote tory and unwisely picking fights with bloggers like stuart campbell.
      If they want to survive in England, Corbyn, the not very strange messiah, is their best bet.

      As miiliband showed,they’ll never beat a real tory.

      1. Darn

        Miliband’s manifesto was to the left of the SNP’s, which was still copied from Labour’s a week later. (Labour were gonna let the budget balance itself partway through the parliament and hope the press would shut up; the SNP offered a 0.2% spending increase so they could boast of being anti-austerity.) Labour offered double the number of new homes (UK total in both documents), though Mhairi Black had the nerve to raise housing in her maiden speech. It was the SNP poll surge which made late deciders in England give the Tories their majority on election day. And Kevin Hague consistently defeats “Rev” Stuart Campbell.

        1. paul

          Not in my experience,the pet food guy and his many colourful graphs got his arse handed to him by tax justice man Richard Murphy fairly recently on bbc scotland.

    5. Adrian Kent

      Labour are indeed improving in the polls and are now approaching the 35% shown by the election winning, thoroughly ‘electable’, Tony Blair circa 2005.

      This is quite some feat given the sh*t that Corbyn has been given by the media from day one.

      Theresa May has quite predictably (and very amusingly) shown herself unable to cope with any kind of probing questioning – which the media usually help her avoid. Given that this is a mere fraction of the constant smears and abuse Corbyn has received (and usually dealth with very politely) it’s showing her up for the limited politician she is. She’s certainly not the ‘safe pair of hands’ that the BBC continually portray her as.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Mish is entirely wrong on this. As Yves has pointed out many times, it is the UK that has far more to lose from no agreement. The UK has few vital exports and is highly dependent on imports for everything from food to vital parts for its remaining industry. It is this delusion which is likely to make the negotiations a disaster for the UK.

      1. Carolinian

        Just throwing this out fwiw. Here’s what Mish has to say after quoting several news stories that support his headline.

        As I have stated all along: the EU does not have the upper hand. The UK can shut off fishing rights, lower corporate taxes, pay zero for a divorce fee, and stop all payments of any kind to the EU. Should WTO rules automatically apply, the EU exporters will get hit much harder than UK exporters.

        And he quotes something called Eurointelligence

        There is a history of misjudgment: the EU did not see the Brexit referendum coming. It did not factor in any probability of a Leave vote. After the referendum, many bought into the “Bregret” hopes, only to find out that British politics is not going to make that happen. And now they are surprised that the UK is willing to pull the plug on an Article 50 agreement. It is not hard to see a pattern here.

        The EU is now finding out that the Brexit negotiations are going to be different from the talks with Greece in 2015. The European Council then took the view, correctly as it turned out, that Alexis Tsipras would not have the stamina to pull the plug. The UK government is better prepared for Brexit partly because it is not doing much else these days, while the EU has a few other issues to deal with, and because it has concluded that a credible no-deal threat is the only tool it has to equalize the negotiating position.

    2. todde

      My theory is: “You don’t negotiate with sharks”.

      Once the blood is in the water, they only want more.

  2. jo6pac

    Re Silc: “I can grow weeds.” Gravel, too!

    As someone wrote last about D-lions you can eat them to get even.

    1. Darius

      Dandelion taproot also helps break up and enrich compacted, sterile soil, as will any plant with a big taproot.

      1. ClearCreek

        Yes! And the roasted root makes a nice detox tea. The most common “weeds” people want out of their yard are actually pretty beneficial for us and the soil…dandelions, clover, vetch, etc.

    2. DJG

      jo6pac: I eat them, although I eat the cultivated variety and mainly in the spring, when they are a good tonic for the innards. Dandelions should be cooked: Rather bitter, otherwise. Chop them up, cook them up in some butter and olive oil, great with spaghetti.

      And look at me, the very picture of health and pulchritude.

      So eat the weeds.

      1. jo6pac

        Thanks for the info and I have the seeds to plant this winter for spring harvest.

        ClearCreek Thank You

  3. subgenius

    Drones with a ton load capacity? They’re going to be bigger than the average helicopter….just for fun, how many know how often you need to tear down and service a helicopter in an attempt to ensure it doesn’t fall out of the sky?

    Also, the fuel requirements….it isn’t gonna run on batteries…

    Also…handy for all your terrorist needs (should they somehow defy reality and create a viable version..)

    Honestly, the real world is making Idiocracy look like a pipedream of a glorious future…

    1. subgenius

      Actually, on second thoughts, I am so sick of being poor that I am getting in on this. My startup will be called ROFLCOPTER and will have an indescribably large payload for hopium.

      Apparently critical thinking skills have left the place. Might as well get in on the bezzle so I can go out in style. Because going out is all that’s left, judging by the consistently more stupid technofantasies being rolled out.

      1. craazyboy

        A real test pilot in my model airplane club got a job offer from Uber’s Flying Cars Division [get it? Division…hahaha. Like they separate into stages after VTOL lift off?]

        You can be “First” to fly one ? He passed.

        I just saw Star Wars Rogue One, so I understand where the creative driver comes from. In fact, after seeing all the really cool Imperial Fighters, I got an irresistible urge to build a mini flying model of one.

        I want mine to fly in atmosphere, like there’s does, so I modded the design to use an airfoil and made it 12″ inches wide. The large wingtips are an 8″ octagon. Gives me better lift to weight ration, and still looks cool. Used some chrome glitter poster board to makes strips for visibility at distance and then made a sparkly red Black Widow hourglass shape on wing top and bottom. Double cool!

        The wingtips are the landing gear, and I think I can set it propeller vertical for a VTOL launch, assuming all goes well with prop wash and ground effects at launch. Then roll it forward and go! Should be fast too.

        1. Greg

          Our Chinese business partner who works closely with jingdong and other ecommerce marketplaces assured me that the drone story was just that – a story to tell the media and nothing more.
          Tbh the honesty of the Chinese approach was refreshing.
          Also two weeks ago they had 50kg version and were aiming for 500kg. In sure a month from now they’ll be in line with panamax.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            You would think there is no need for the New Silk Road, when a fleet of long range, ton-plus payload drones can do the same.

        2. HopeLB

          Put some golf ball like indentations on the top and bottom of the wings for better “lift” . Found this out helping my nephew test small foam planes in our home-made wind tunnel. He won the Sci Fair that year! Wish we saved that report so I could tell you optimum spacing/indentation size/position. You’ll probably happen upon it youself.

          1. craazyboy

            Holy Jeebus Werner Von Braun! A home made wind tunnel?! That sounds pretty nerdy. Is your nephew nerdy? Normal kids want a homemade brewery in the garage, next to the Harley. Cool kids, anyway.

            I’m trying to figure if the indents go only on top or on the bottom. I’m pretty sure both is not a aerodynamic choice.

            But congrats on winning the sci-fair!

            1. HopeLB

              Yes, I think they worked best on the bottom. I’ll call him tomorrow and see if he can remember. Too bad the wind tunnel was ruined when our basement flooded or I could and would send it to you, by drone if you preferred. We are all a bit nerdy here, if by that you mean overly curious/like a challenge and we all tend to get carried away with these things. This year for my daughter’s 8th Grade Science fair, it was a house full of triboelectric generators ( capacitors really) all over the place, graphene goop and an oscilloscope which a very nice redditor lent us. (My nephew ended up with a free ride to Princeton. And he only applied there because a man, collecting door to door for a church, happened to tell us about Princeton’s excellent financial aid.)

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think it’s cheaper to domesticate and train Quatzelcoatlus to do the flying.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Quetzalcoatlus, this is the correct spelling.

        Sorry for the insult, my flying dinosaur.

        1. ambrit

          I dunno. You’d need a motto for a flying dragon; “Dearth from above?”
          While we’re at it, weaponize the larger birds available. “Frigate” bird anyone?

      2. polecat

        So, your trying to corner the market on amber for the purpose of Dino D N A extraction are you !

    3. cocomaan

      I remember hearing about how often engine rebuilds need to happen on copters to make them flightworthy. No number in my head, but it’s flying hours and it’s not that many.

      That’s why you occasionally see a helicopter for sale for like 30 grand – it’s because the engine isn’t going to be safe to use in the air.

      All this nonsense about drones delivering things is about as likely as the comeback of zeppelines. But, as many nerds will be mournful to find out, we don’t live in a steampunk adventure story. After the first Drone Hindenberg (“ONE TON LOAD OF COFFEE FALLS OUT OF THE AIR, CRUSHES LOCAL CHILD”) it will be game over for drone delivery.

      1. Bill Smith

        My understanding based on one company’s plan was the drones would be dispatched from a truck that came near the delivery address. So a truck would go to a semi central location for a number of deliveries and dispatch a number of drones to drop off packages.

        Kind of a solution to the last mile problem.

        1. ambrit

          Get DARPA into the act and, voila!, United States Post Office Air Freight, (U.S.P.S.-A.F.)

    4. Huey Long

      Great, giant drones bigger than a Bell 206 flying around, delivering lord knows what. What can do wrong?


      just for fun, how many know how often you need to tear down and service a helicopter in an attempt to ensure it doesn’t fall out of the sky?

      Often, very often. Is Amazon aware that they can’t hire guys for $12/hr off the street and pay them on 1099s for helicopter overhaul work?

    5. Altandmain

      I don’t think that this is going to work save for short distances for very light and valuable objects (ex: jewelry, critical medicine, maybe some expensive electronics, etc).

      Bulk delivery will have to continue with the “unsexy” road and truck.

      1. craazyboy

        Amazon Prime will become a status symbol, like a Rolex.

        The Chinese will have a clone – if you can initially program it, it will fly in the wrong direction for exactly 7 minutes to 32 bit accuracy, then trigger it’s anti-airport geofencing subroutine, and it’s LIPO battery bursts into flames, the self emollition option. The safety buzzer goes off 6 ft +/- 2ft precision, above current sea level.

      2. pricklyone

        So open season on drones, then. Almost assures a payoff from knocking them out of the sky, or netting them.
        I hope I am never the guy depending on this for ‘critical medicine’. Be a shame if it never arrived, and what about carrier responsibility, negligent behavior, exercise of due diligence, best practice…etc.
        Lawsuit futures… to paraphrase Lambert.

    6. Off The Street

      Hinterlands, also known as anywhere west of Amsterdam Avenue, and, for any cousins in DC, west of Georgetown.

      Others may know the hinterlands as those places where the inevitable fiery crash, with the mushroom cloud, won’t do as much damage since the life forms have lower values there.

    7. Dead Dog

      I think we are a lot closer than people think re drones or flying cars. It is a reality now


      pretty impressive, IMO…

      Although, I suspect that our governments will continue to police the airspace so that only the rich can get around this way. The rest of us will be in land based vehicles on infrastructure which is left to rot.

  4. bob k

    earth to the Dems: while you’re chasing Russiagate you might stop to consider: the average worker who voted for Trump DOESN’T CARE. He or she is too busy worrying about health care, finding a good job and getting out from under a mountain of debt. If you could find some worthwhile policies to start pursuing, like Single Payer, which might actually help some people who don’t live in Silicon Valley or Manhattan or LA you might just win in 2018.

    but no you’d rather pursue Russiagate, thereby driving these voters further into the arms of Trump as they will say “give the guy a chance. WTF are YOU doing for us????”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The stated campaign strategy was to win “suburban moderate Republicans” or simply Romney voters who famously warned of the Russian menace a few years after Palin could see it.

      Democratic elites simply hate their voters and want a more well of class.

      The stupidity is the Republicans already have a party, and with wealth inequality, the Democrats aren’t growing the brain dead yuppie class they need. The Democrats want the Romney voter, and Romney is basically an uncouth Trump, neither drink by the way.

    2. Steely Glint

      It seems the Dem’s are going to re-tread Rahm
      I don’t know why they don’t go to Harris County, TX to study how the county party swept the elections.
      I seem to remember an article off Links, that ACORN vets made a large contribution to the win. Remember ACORN, and how the Dem’s voted to de-fund the organization? Senate vote 83-7.
      And the win seems to be delivering http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/houston/article/Harris-County-bail-system-unconstitutional-11108210.php

      1. Knot Galt

        The April print issue of Architectural Record features a bullet point on Rahm Emanuel on Urban revival stating the “RENAISSANCE” in cities continues with projects like the RIVERWALK, the 606 ELEVATED TRAIL, and the Maggie Daley Park that bring districts together.

        It seems that nothing is safe.

      2. Anonymous

        We’re visiting my husband’s relatives in northern Michigan. It’s cold and blustery and gorgeous. Lilac bushes are blooming everywhere. Lots of open space and forest. Solid Trump-land. This was Bernie country in the primary. The town looks more distressed than last year. More houses need paint and maintenance. The downtown has a lot of boarded up stores. People still support Trump, and don’t give a rats about Russia. They think the Saudi Arabia deal is great and have never heard of Yemen. It’s very depressing to think there won’t be much opposition to war with Iran. The US is really doomed as far as ever getting back on track.

    3. sid_finster

      Team D does not want any of those things, as Team D does not wish to betray its base of megacorporations and obscenely rich donors.

      By focusing on russiagate, Team D can continue with the charade that they were robbed and therefore no changes to strategy or policy are necessary.

    4. clarky90

      The Dems and their MSM assets are in hysterical mode. (Anxiety meds urgently required!)

      I google news searched “Seth Rich”. (1) Seth “Rich” is #9 of the possible “Seths”.

      (2) 90% of the articles offered are of the “conspiracy”, “fake news”, “no evidence”…. variety

      (3) The 10% of links to Hannity, Gingrich, Kim Dotcom, Assange, Re Seth Rich’s Murder, are prefaced by “News that is morally bankrupt“…etc. (When they get that pompous, “holier than thou”, tone, I KNOW that they are lying). Transparent Bastards!

      If you are interested in testing the veracity of the news (the POV) that we are being fed?, I believe that the Seth Rich Murder is a good subject to explore. It is a compelling story, about the death of a selfless American Hero.

      Seth Rich was a DNC employee. He was a Bernie Sanders supporter. Bernie Sanders was running as a DNC candidate. ie, DJTrump and his supporters were not in this loop.

      Yet, the investigation into this murder is being suppressed (desperate, cornered rats, suppressed) by the same Hillary Operatives who are freaking out about anything Trump.

      Be prepared to be transfixed by this unfolding murder mystery. It leads to the Crypts of the Vampires.

      1. clarky90

        The DNC is NOT offering any reward money for the discovery or capture of the coward/s who shot (executed) Seth Rich (their employee) in the back?

        Seth was “the Voter Expansion Data Director at the DNC, where he had been employed for two years and had worked on a computer application to help voters locate polling stations”.

        You might (?) imagine that the powerful and wealthy DNC would be assiduously looking for the murder/s? Seemingly, not at all. Hmmmmmm?

        In fact, they are laboring tirelessly, to make the story of Seth’s death, go away.

    5. John k

      Always and ever about the money. Russia still bringing in dollars.
      Dems know the deplorables don’t care about Russia, so what? To hold onto power they must keep all progressives out. Sad this means the party shrinks, but corps will continue donating so long as party remains neolib and anti progressive.

      Perez won! And in CA the pharma guy won! So still in tight control. Apres moi, Le deluge.

      Longing for third party, might sweep them both into dustbin. Who not on the take likes either?

    6. RenoDino

      Yep, Russiagate is being used as an attempt to nullify the still fresh votes of 60 million voters. That’s all Trump supporters see. Deplorable votes don’t count.

    1. RenoDino

      “All of this of course only leaves us with one obvious observation and a question that should be keeping neoliberal strategists awake at night but probably isn’t. Mainstream liberalism has spent thirty years compromising, triangulating and sacrificing truly left wing values on the alter of electability until the only thing really separating them from Republicans is a form of aggressively weaponized identity politics that doesn’t necessarily serve persecuted minorities all that well but at least offers lip service to protecting vulnerable people. If at the end of the day, establishment liberal media and the Democratic Party at minimum can’t even consistently get the “don’t be a bigot piece of shit” part of liberal ideology right; what exactly the fuck is it that they bring to the table and why should persecuted minorities in America vote for them?” From Nina above.

      Nailed that. Obviously the joke here is Democrats are outing Trump and telling his supporters they admire a gay man and therefore he doesn’t deserve their support. Yeah, they really thought that one through.

    2. LT

      They could make plenty of jokes about his business dealings. Non-stop. A lot of people would relate.
      But for some reason that’s hard for them?

  5. cocomaan

    Basically, if you have personal experience with an issue or group of people, you won’t be as swayed by the media’s representation; your own experience will supersede even a pervasive and virtually inescapable mediated reality.

    Kind of makes media moot, then, except as a way of reinforcing your own conclusions.

    From the link to Cultivation Theory:

    Gerbner argues that the mass media cultivate attitudes and values which are already present in a culture: the media maintain and propagate these values amongst members of a culture, thus binding it together. He has argued that television tends to cultivate middle-of-the- road political perspectives.

    So, combined with the overton window idea, the job of media is to make the overton window stay in one place.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Basically, if you have personal experience with an issue or group of people….

      Thus, the obsession to go after young voters – they still have a life time ahead of them to experience, and are more likely to be ‘swayed,’ before they wise up.

      My intuition is that propaganda is most effective with experience-challenged (not all, there are exceptions) younger people. So, the profit niche is still there for our neoliberal media.

      “The communist youth…Komsomol…Pioneers…Mao’s Red Guard…”

      1. Massinissa

        Young Republicans, church groups, boy scouts…

        Attempting to change the minds and values of youth isn’t limited to far left authoritarian political parties.

    2. PKMKII

      Well, more that they see their job as being an accurate reflection of the culture-at-large’s overton window. Which requires them to have a good grasp on the zeitgeist of the country. Problem is, the combination of the petty bougie urbanization of the press, plus overreliance on the punditocracy, means they don’t even know what they’re trying to grasp.

      1. Huey Long

        Which requires them to have a good grasp on the zeitgeist of the country.

        This is so true. We know advertisers and politicos use focus groups to figure out the zeitgeist:


        This brings up some questions:

        Do legacy media outlets such as TV, Radio, and print media focus group like their advertisers do?

        If so, are they generating good data and insights?

        Are these data and insights being taken seriously by upper management or are they being thrown in the “round file?”

        What are the limits to focus grouping as a means to gauge the cultural zeitgeist?

    1. craazyboy

      Actually, I have been looking forward to the day when I can go to a Doc’s office and not see 12 hotties wandering around aimlessly. LA was really bad that way. Thought I was a John Financier!

      The only office that wasn’t like this was when I finally went to a gyne, in frustration. Her biz was slow. Best service and $20 cash visit! She would greet me, “Hi John!”

    2. Sandler

      Good, medical receptionists and admin generally have been very poor experiences for me and they chronically make billing errors which result in invalid debt collection against me.

  6. NotTimothyGeithner

    Er…McClellan unlike the Democrats at least won West Virginia.

    The Democrats are more like one of General Chamberlain’s old commanding officers who decided it would be a good idea to camp on a frozen lake.

    1. John k

      Dems used to win elections.
      It’s not the dems that changed, it’s the electorate. The dogs used to eat their brand, now chucking it up. So what are they offering?
      Not trump.
      Impeach him, anybody is better, including Pence and Ryan ( who couldn’t win his own state.) a friend of mine would rather have Pence than trump.
      So far as I can see, same policies, even climate with big oil wanting to stay with Paris.

      Progressives should realize their answer to never trump should be never dem, voters draining away from dems mean more indies. Power is lying in the street, getting stronger by the day, Bernie could pick it up, take over and reorganize the greens in time for 2018.

  7. John k

    Deplorable regret: did we really vote for him? did he just want our votes?
    Both parties just want your votes. And no matter what they promise, they have a secret pact: no matter who you vote for, or whether you vote at all, neither will do squat for you. Never, ever.
    Unless, of course, you’ve got a lot of money and a willingness to share. But in that case you wouldn’t be deplorable, would you?

    1. Huey Long

      And no matter what they promise, they have a secret pact: no matter who you vote for, or whether you vote at all, neither will do squat for you. Never, ever.

      Very true.

      They’ll take action on behalf of the little guy if, and only if the little guys start occupying factories, going out on strike en mass, or joining socialist/communist parties.

      Their ultimate fear is getting the Nicolae & Elena Ceausescu treatment at the hands of an angry mob:


  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Trump, the Saudi King and a glowing orb.

    I am surprised Trump’s orange hair didn’t stand up, which many people equate with genius-hood.

    1. RUKidding

      That’s such a weird photo. George Takei tweeted out something like: Who are they communicating with? Sauron?

      If Trump’s orange hair stood on end, that would be icing on the cake!


      1. Buttinsky

        “When shall we three meet again, In thunder, lightning or in rain?”

        “When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won.”

    2. Archangel

      I don’t know about communicating, but it somehow reminds me of the opening scene in Macbeth.

  9. Huey Long

    Crapification Finally Hits Private Jet Market


    According to the above article, a mechanic was told to sign off on a plane’s pre-flight check list even though it had a fuel leak, he refused, and then he was canned.

    If this keeps up, private jet maintenance crapification may end up culling the 1%ers. Hopefully the accidents continue to happen over unpopulated areas and no proles on the ground get taken out.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I have to believer there is room enough for parachutes on those private jets.

      “Wow, there is an escape pod on this jet?!?!”

    2. diptherio

      It’s fine, I’m sure the market will figure it out. Over time, maintenance service providers who cut corners that lead to fatal place crashes will suffer reputational damage and be forced to improve their service or be forced out of the market. Surely, there’s no need for the government to intervene with pesky and inefficient regulations in this matter.

    3. jo6pac

      I was ask to sign off a few ANG planes and refused and did all of the mechanics so the base commander did. The pilots were unhappy about having fly junk and at lest they all made back safely.

  10. Steely Glint

    It looks as if there will be a re-tread of Rahm
    I don’t know why the dem’s don’t hot-foot it to Harris County, Texas and study how that county party swept the election. I remember reading an article off link’s that ACORN vets made a large contribution to that win. You remember ACORN & the dem’s who voted to de-fund the organization?
    The win seems to have paid off in a significant way

    1. Huey Long

      The current Dem zeitgeist does not allow for a study of Harris County as the DNC is currently infallible.

      To study Harris County or the success of the Sanders primary campaign would mean admitting that DWS, Brazile, and Perez have gotten it all wrong.

      Protecting egos and reputations trumps the winning of elections as far as the DNC is concerned these days.

      1. John k

        The corp money says keep progressives from power is job 1, winning is 2. This will never change no matter how many elections they lose.
        Clinton Perez etc know single payer would be popular, and popular wins, but pharm vetoes, so never, ever. Not complicated.

    2. Vatch

      One huge difference between 2006 and now is that the Citizens United ruling hadn’t yet occurred in 2006. Since 2010, when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of big money in the Citizens United case, the political environment has changed considerably. Strategies that might have worked for the Democrats in 2006 might not work today. The Democratic party leaders would gain more by paying attention to the growing Sanders momentum.

  11. Plenue

    So, a few days ago there was a discussion of Iran, and I mentioned that less than 2% of its population regularly attends friday prayers. Here’s a couple articles on lax religious attendance in Iran:



    The actual figure of regular friday prayer attendance (1.4%) apparently comes from Iran’s own Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance, but I can only track down a secondary source from a book:


    I first encountered this kind of information over a decade ago in a travelogue written by an Arabic speaking American Jew living in Yemen (a sobering thought: wherever he lived is probably rubble now), who traveled around the Muslim Middle-east talking to people (hiding his Jewishness in the process, it must be noted). The author (whose name completely escapes me) was openly a Pro-Israel Zionist, so he had a conspicuous blindspot when it came to the idea that anyone could have a legitimate grievance with Israel, but even so his assessment of the people he encountered was mostly positive.

    On the subject of Iran specifically he recounts a country run on strict religious rules, but where youth regularly flaunt those rules, and where the authorities usually just go through rote movements are enforcing them, but where there’s no conviction in it, and where both parties know the kids will just go right back to violating them once the cops are out of sight.

    1. Huey Long

      I first encountered this kind of information over a decade ago in a travelogue written by an Arabic speaking American Jew living in Yemen (a sobering thought: wherever he lived is probably rubble now), who traveled around the Muslim Middle-east talking to people

      I first encountered said info about a decade ago as well when I sat next to an Iranian student on a “Chinatown bus” traveling between Boston and NYC.

      We talked extensively about the religiousness of Iranian youth, youth culture there, the embrace of western culture by the youth, etc. He really opened my eyes and caused me to read more about what things are really like in contemporary Iran.

    2. marym

      Thanks for the links.

      Re: 1.4% – I have one of the books cited in some search results (Axworthy, Empire of the Mind: A History of Iran) but so far haven’t found that statistic there. Also haven’t found a specific reference or link for it to the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance. Axworthy does reference a study showing 27% attend services at least once a month.

      Interesting to learn that Friday prayer attendance is more of a Sunni tradition. Interesting too about the lowering of the volume of the call to prayer. I’ve read and heard more sentimental appreciation and remembrance of it, but modern life goes on.

  12. allan

    Maine Governor: Don’t install road signs yet for national monument [AP]

    Motorists on an interstate that cuts through the heart of Maine won’t see signs this summer directing them to a national monument created by President Barack Obama because the governor won’t let state workers install them.

    The Maine Department of Transportation is delaying installation of signs alongside Interstate 95 for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument pending the outcome of a review ordered by President Donald Trump last month of the 27 monuments created by his predecessors.

    A spokesman for Republican Gov. Paul LePage said it would be premature to install signs before completion of the 120-day review. But a leading proponent of the monument accused the governor of just being “spiteful.” …

    Apparently Gov. LePage has never heard of the Streisand Effect.

    The management at NC doesn’t like the term low information voters,
    but how about low information governors?

  13. B1whois

    Quote of the day, Frederic Neumann, in a “shipping” related post:

    perky sentiment indicators notwithstanding, activity in the West hasn’t lifted meaningfully yet.’”

  14. Altandmain

    Here’s Paste Magazine on the recent California Democratic Chair results:

    Can the Progressive/Centrist Split in Democratic Party Politics Ever Be Resolved? – Hint answer is no

    Third Party?

    Tulsi Gabbard introduces a bill to end warrantless wire tapping:

    1. ambrit

      This is good! The malefic associations resulting are enough to freeze the soul of the stoutest hearted Companion.

  15. nodebt

    On the credit scores. Became debt free in August, paying off my mortgage and with that came a 50 pt drop in my credit score. After 40 years of near perfect performance on car loans, school loans, mortgages. Can someone explain that?

    1. RUKidding

      Yes. They don’t like it when you’re not shackled with debt.

      Get with the program, peon.

      I think the “explanation” is that: if you don’t have debt to pay off, “they” cannot track how well you do with loans, etc. Therefore, they can’t give a perfect credit score because they simply cannot figure out how reliable you will be.

      Or something like that. Frankly, a lot of credit ratings don’t make sense to me.

      For example, a friend of mine happens to have a better (not by much) credit score than me. But she makes less money and has far less savings than I do. I think we have a similar amount of debt (in my case, only a mortgage). It doesn’t matter, but it’s curious. Why is her score better than mine? I’ll never know.

    2. alex morfesis

      lowered credit score is easy to explain…no debt means you are of no value to the system…credit score is not about you being a good boy scout…it is about your willingness to be a lemming…it is a lemming score…for the benefit of those who provide credit…

      your dead to me fredo…your nothing to me now…

    3. nobody

      An uncle of mine, though in diminished circumstances since the onset of the GFC, has substantial real estate holdings, adequate savings, and no need to carry credit card balances. But he keeps his credit cards balanced near the midway point between paid down to zero and maxed out, because he has worked out that the cost to him in total credit card interest payments from this practice is non-trivially lower than the ultimate costs he would incur in the long run from the hit his credit score would take were he to pay all of his credit cards down to zero each month. Your credit score is a measure of your estimated potential usefulness to those with an interest in farming you. A measure of your credit-worthiness, not so much.

    4. freedeomny

      Hi nodebt – credit scores usually don’t drop when a car/student or home loan is paid off. They will drop if you pay off a credit card and then cancel said card. So if you paid off all these loans…and don’t have credit cards, then your score will drop because you don’t have open 0 balances – i.e. access to debt – credit that is currently being extended to you….

  16. Sandwichman

    Saudi Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology

    What could possibly go [28 pages redacted] wrong?

    1. HopeLB

      NPR just did a story about a fake news conspiracy theory gaining traction on the series of tubes. Nooo it wasn’t Assad gasing his own people again. It was Seth Rich as the DNC leaker and how this is upsetting his family mightily.

      1. Oregoncharles

        that was in Salon today, too. Must be a big PR push from the Dems. I linked to the Mike Whitney article, as linked here yesterday, and turned out to be the last commenter. Most of the posts defending the article were on the “and so are you!” level. I’m surprised people actually do that – calling names just makes it obvious that you’ve got nothing.

    2. polecat

      Maybe it’s just me, but those SGCCEI work station’s side panels remind me of Galactic Ty Fighters, placed side by side …. A Whole Fleet of Them ??

      …. minus the diligent computer jockeys of course …

      ‘Dom dom dom, dom di dom dom di dom’

  17. robnume

    Clearly, Cuomo’s hiring of former Obama and Clinton “characters” is being driven by his overwhelming desire to run for Prez in 2020. Can’t come up with any other logical explanation for his hiring of these folks except that they are players within the DNC party apparatus.
    So, great, we’re gonna have Biden, Cuomo and whatever other schlmeel that decides to slither out from under the carpet.
    Glad I left that POS party last week.

  18. mcdee

    Eric Bauman wins California Democratic party chair…..with the usual Democratic Party Establishment shenanigans. Another “wonderfully clarifying election”

  19. ambrit

    A few observations:
    On the broadband for “richies” front, our fair mini-metropolis has no broadband service at all, not even for businesses. Unless you have a 30 inch satellite dish dedicated to a synchronous satellite, you must crawl around in the primeval mire with the rest of we “deplorables.”
    The “private” package carriers already have agreements with the U.S.P.S. for “last mile” deliveries. This under fifty mile radius delivery scheme sounds like a stunt.
    The Hotel Motel depression has already begun. The local Howard Johnsons motel project has been dead in the water for six weeks now. The walls, all four stories of them, are up, but no roof over them. If this is continued, all of that plywood will warp and composition board will crumble back into its constituent sawdust. This is no minor thing. There is a lot of expensive material rotting away on that job site. Someone is losing money by the day. Not to mention completion deadlines and penalties for not meeting them. What could be worse than taking that large of a loss?
    Google content is now legally a fungible commodity? Who could have guessed that personal information was divorced from the “person” being described? Soon, all electronic “funds” will be legally owned by the issuer and merely rented by the consumer. Is it a Snark, or is it a Boojum?

    1. craazyboy

      Rent a pre-owned identity from “iDents Are Us”???

      I gotta leave the country. But where?

      1. ambrit

        Me, I’m an “id-IoT” myself.
        Where to go? The Cloud is treated as a “real” place now, why not there? ( I read where some early Greek playwright thought up the idea, as, “The Cloud- Cukoo Land.” Those early Greeks. Ahead of their time for sure!)
        “iDents” sounds like a techno-anarchist group.

        1. craazyboy

          This is when they tell us they can put our consciousness into safety silicon and write a SQL statement using our iDent keywords to find ourselves. A personalized guitar tab would work, but it’s slow – we want relational databases!

          But whatever the tech, you want to be a database programmer in this world. Joining a weird band is a good strategy. Plus, you can steal all the cool stuff these folks leave behind!

          1. ambrit

            “Leave behind?” Doncha know, the robots will work for the “Departed” to protect their stuff from wet world scum like us. That’s what the Post Nephilim Egyptians tried to do with all those hidden tombs and stuff.
            Really, Tesla and the Mars Pioneers are thinking too small. Perfect the Elevator, or slingshot launches, or laser fuel explosive launchers, or Skyhooks, or, the list goes on, and take everything worth keeping with them to the Red Planet, or the submarine cities on Enceladus, or the L point habitats.
            H—. If Hunter Thompsons friends can throw one of the biggest parties ever seen in Colorado to shoot his ashes into space, we can do Teslalalaland.

            1. craazyboy

              I know! We can have a Hunter liftoff party – build a big Tesla Lightning Generator, point it at Mars or wherever [put it on shuffle if you don’t want any neighbors nearby?] then upload to a HP Unix CPU Bank and que up for the ride!

              Play Magic Carpet Ride like the scientist dude did on Star Trek! But be sure to flip the bird at any passing Vulcans. Show ’em our true nature! Logic be damned. Rift long and wander.

        2. witters

          “The Cloud- Cukoo Land.”

          Aristophanes, “The Clouds”. It is the land of philosophy.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Hmmm, what happened in 2009? The beginning of buyer’s remorse among Obama voters?

  20. Kim Kaufman

    “Cuomo’s hiring of former Obama, Clinton staff costing NY $1.5M” [Newsday]. Ka-ching.

    “Comella initially had been hired as a consultant to Cuomo to help shape this year’s agenda after working for Republicans in presidential races, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, President George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election, as well as Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).”

    Sure, a Republican agenda-maker for a… Republican governor. Let’s be clear on that.

  21. Kim Kaufman

    “UPDATE Chairman Democrat Party Deck Chair John Burton to single payer protestors: “Hey, shut the f*ck up or go outside” [Los Angeles Times]. “He told protesters that the Democratic Party had been fighting for single-payer healthcare ‘since before you were born.’” Ah. “Fighting for.””

    Jerry Brown said he will veto it. Doesn’t see where the $$ will come from. I’m not sure if that’s legitimate or not.

    1. Oregoncharles

      ““He told protesters that the Democratic Party had been fighting for single-payer healthcare ‘since before you were born.’”
      A bare-faced lie; the Democratic Party has been obviously opposed to Single Payer all along. I hope the demonstrators just got louder – it does sound as if Burton gave up and handed the mic. to Perez, as if that helped.

    2. Me

      “Jerry Brown said he will veto it. Doesn’t see where the $$ will come from.”

      Kind of mind blowing to say such a thing, especially if the system was intelligently designed and clearly stated what would and wouldn’t be covered. Single payer cuts down on waste and is less expensive. In a state as rich as California, you would see most people realize a net benefit (they may pay a bit more in taxes but would have that more than offset by a reduction in private expenditure) and those that saw a net increase in costs could easily afford it. I don’t see the point of the Democratic Party anymore.

  22. Kim Kaufman

    ““In an interview with this newspaper earlier on Saturday, Bauman said, ‘Every time we’ve had a movement election, there’s an influx of new people in the party, and they feel they’re on the outside,’ he said. ‘If we’re smart, we bring them in, and they infuse the party with new ideas and new strength. I welcome that, because I want people to come in with new ideas’” [Monterey Herald]. Single payer is an old idea. Perhaps that’s Bauman’s problem with it?”

    Eric Bauman took about $100k from Big Pharma to “be quiet” in the Prop 61 fight last November – a ballot measure that Bernie came to California to campaign for and which would have lowered drug prices for Californians. Big Pharma succeeded in enough fear-mongering that it failed to get approved by the voters. I have been told that when confronted, Bauman said, “I’ve got to make a living, don’t I?” He claims he is, or was, a registered nurse. Ka-ching! Go Dems!

  23. chicagogal

    By all means should the Dems channel Rahm’s 2006 playbook. Sure there are plenty of folks here in IL 6th who want to clobber him for putting up Tammy Duckworth, who didn’t even live in the district and said on the Sunday talkfest early in that primary that she wouldn’t move into it if elected their rep, which is why we got saddled with Peter Roskam!!! Dupage Dems have been disarray for quite a number of years and apparently don’t show any promise of putting their house in order anytime soon.

  24. John Morrison

    “Pelosi immediately took impeachment off the table”.

    Pelosi justified that, saying that her position as House Speaker required neutrality. If she had been an ordinary Democratic representative, she says, she might have joined the impeachment movement.

    This was obvious baloney. Taking impeachment off the table the antithesis of neutral, it was decisive in one direction. Neutrality would have meant allowing speakers from both sides their time to speak, referring the motion to the appropriate committees, and ultimately allowing a vote on the motion.

  25. JTMcPhee

    North Korea vs the Empire is still a thing. Step back to the days of yore, 1963, and watch your Imperial worlds best military practicing for tactical nuclear war. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vNFoR8CQXQ4
    They are still at it. They flattened and burned most of the whole Korean Peninsula in the 50s, so no reluctance to do it again…

  26. John Morrison

    The Democratic leadership is making out like bandits, even as they’re losing elections. Winning is not a requirement for them.

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