2:00PM Water Cooler 5/23/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“USTR INVITES PUBLIC COMMENTS ON NAFTA 2.0: Mark your calendars: Anyone hoping to make their voice heard in the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA is invited to testify at a USTR hearing on June 27, according to a notice published in today’s Federal Register” [Politico]. “Anyone wishing to testify must provide written notification and a summary of his or her comments by June 12, the notice says, and written comments provided in place of testimony are due the same day. To enter a submission, go to regulations.gov and search for docket number USTR-2017-0006.”



UPDATE “President Donald Trump has sent Congress a $4.1 trillion spending plan that proposes to eliminate the deficit in a decade while protecting Social Security and Medicare” [AP]. “But to achieve balance, Trump is seeking sharp cuts in a variety of programs for the poor from Medicaid to food stamps and disability payments.” This is a good wrap-up of reactions, and even Republicans are pronouncing Trump’s budget “Dead on Arrival.” Do note, however, that the Democrat Establishment accepts the same premise as the Republicans do: That a balanced budget is good itself, and a goal always worth achieving. So they are trapped in the austerity box, with no way out (that they can see). So instead we get national conversations (see below on universalism) on why we can’t have nice things.


“That is not to minimize the personal challenges faced by people with serious health conditions. But from a political perspective, can a group numbering perhaps 1 or 2 million be the cause for Republicans losing the 23-seat advantage they now hold in the House of Representatives?” [RealClearPolitics]. “That would require more than 5 percent of the voters in at least 23 congressional districts to switch sides and vote for the Democratic candidates 16 months from now. In the 2016 elections, there were only 27 seats where Republicans were elected with less than 55 percent of the vote. In only 11 districts did the Republican candidate have less that a 10 percent margin over the Democratic candidate. It’s not impossible for the Democrats to overcome these margins, of course, but the triumphalism of the Democrats and the media on this is clearly only wishful thinking.” Both authors are from AEI, so their assumption that the “group numbering perhaps 1 or 2 million” are all atomized individuals who affect only their vote is perhaps natural. But “the math,” as they saym is interesting. A Democrat would counter that’s what waves do, but it’s not yet clear that a one-two punch of Putin Derangement Syndrome and policy vacuity will create that wave.


“DNC reports worst April of fundraising since 2009” [Washington Examiner]. True, these things fluctuate, but DNC fundraising should be through the roof, right? Idea: Focus more on Putin.

“In a break from recent tradition, the Democrats are planning to widely expand the number of districts they plan to contest in the 2018 midterm elections. But, in a sign that not every tried-and-true Democratic instinct is being thrown out, they’re planning on dumpster diving for help doing it, with Politico reporting that three House Democrats involved in mapping out the party’s strategy to win in 2018 are going to make a pilgrimage to Chicago to seek out the advice of none other than Mayor Rahm Emanuel” [Fusion]. Please kill me now. (Some fun Rahm anecdotes here, including the one where he calls “liberals” — that is, anybody to his left — “f*#king retards.” So, phase one would be to unify the party, phase two would be to get the left out on the trail campaigning for the Democrat Establishment, and phase three would be to kick the left, which is just what Rahm did after the last wave election (Pelosi, too).

“Florida Democratic Party Exec: Poor Voters Don’t Care About ‘Issues,’ Vote Based on ‘Emotions'” [Miami New Times]. “Last night, the party’s new second-in-command, Sally Boynton Brown, spoke in front of the Democratic Progressive Caucus of Broward County. And throughout the exchange, she steadfastly refused to commit to changing the party’s economic or health-care messaging in any concrete way…. Brown, the former executive director of the Idaho Democratic Party, was hired last month to take over for the outgoing executive director, Scott Arceneaux. Last night was her first encounter with local progressives, who are already disgruntled after Stephen Bittel — a billionaire real-estate developer, gas station franchiser, environmental dredging company executive, and major political donor — was elected to serve as party chair earlier this year. Many progressives accused him of buying his way into the job via campaign donations.” Read the whole thing. It’s vile.

Imperial Collapse Watch

I remain stunned by the optics:

Hall of Mirrors

“A North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) spokesperson is denying a report that the Secretary-General of the military alliance said Donald Trump has a 12 second attention span” [Independent]. “Oana Longescu tweeted that Jens Stoltenberg did not, in fact, comment on the US president’s lack of focus. Politico reported that he had, citing a senior White House official who also said Mr Trump was not prepared for his meeting with Mr Stoltenberg.” During 2016, I stopped covering the “Trump said ___” eruptions when it became clear that the press consistently misquoted him. (Ritual pronouncement that I’m not defending Trump when I point out the press has a duty to quote public figures accurately.) So here we are again. Does the press, indeed, have a White House source? If so, was that source telling the truth? Is NATO trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube? Who’s lying, and how are we to tell? If we assume they all are, what then? And speaking of anonymous sources, at this point we might remember that (current) liberal Heroes of the Republic Brennan, Comey, and Clapper are, respectively, Bush and Obama’s torture advisor as well as the architect of Obama’s kill list, pro-torture, and a serial fabricator on mass surveillance and torture as well. (To be fair, fabrication is part of the intelligence community’s stock in trade.) These gentlemen — friends to access journalists everywhere — are all over the telescreen right now, but seems to me unlikely that truth will have been their first concern when there is so much else at stake.

“In the long run, the CIA can’t deceive the Chinese government without also deceiving, in some way, the American public. This leaves us with an obvious problem: Should we believe anything the CIA says?” [RealClearWorld]. “It’s a tough question for a democracy to answer. Trust is built on the tacit agreement that the “bad things” an agency does are good for the country. If the public believes that that is no longer the case – if it believes the agency is acting out of self-interest and not national interest – then the agreement is broken. The intelligence agency is seen as an impediment of the right to national self-determination, a means for the ends of the few.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A growing number of House Republicans are facing physical threats from angry constituents in their districts, leading many to fear for their safety” [The Hill (TF)]. They don’t mess around in the Red States, do they?

Interesting ideological formulation: “Gerring writes that universalism started to take hold in the Democratic Party in the postwar era as national Democrats shifted away from an anti-elitist, populist message and toward rhetoric centered on unity, peace and prosperity. Universalists tend to see abstract concepts rather than specific people or institutions as problems — think of the efforts to stop poverty, end racism or reduce income inequality. Universalist Democrats cast themselves as managers of the welfare state rather than crusaders against a powerful elite, and they often championed the rights and causes of a wide array of individual groups. Democrats’ focus on LGBT rights, civil rights protections for African-Americans, comprehensive immigration reform, women’s rights and more can all be thought of as part of as a universalist commitment to the particular needs of groups. Rhetorically, universalist Democrats often end up appealing for a party that offers a space for everyone to voice their concerns. Hillary Clinton is a great example of this” [RealClearPolitics]. “Sanders, however, doesn’t ultimately trace his policy positions to a fight with poverty or for better health care, but to a fight against Wall Street bankers or pharmaceutical companies. His economic narratives have clear and present antagonists…. In these ways, Sanders is more of a populist than many modern Democrats. Populists, according to Gerring’s categories, were the dominant force in national Democratic politics from 1896 to 1948. Their organizing political principle was a moral fight between the common man and a few moneyed elites who exploited the masses for personal gain. Populists often targeted trusts. They used moral language, explicitly calling policies “right” or “wrong” and believed that the government was the only force strong enough to restrain big business, ensure that the basic needs of citizens were met and bring people into a state of true equality.”

“Poll: Most say Trump won’t be impeached” [The Hill]. “[T]he new Harvard-Harris survey, provided exclusively to The Hill, which found that 54 percent of voters said they have not seen evidence to suggest that Trump campaign officials conspired with Moscow to influence the 2016 election…. Respondents were largely split along partisan lines, with 80 percent of Republicans saying there is no evidence of collusion and 74 percent of Democrats saying there is. Only 38 percent of independents said there is evidence of collusion.”

“Trump’s rural voters fighting to keep their land from a growing web of pipelines” [McClatchy]. Deplorable!

Stats Watch

Chemical Activity Barometer, May 2017: “The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) rose 0.4 percent in May, following a downward revision of 0.1 percent for April” [Econintersect]. “Compared to a year earlier, the CAB is up 5.0 percent year-over-year, a modest slowing that still suggests continued growth through year-end 2017. All data is measured on a three-month moving average.”

New Home Sales, April 2017: “[A m]ixed report that confirms a reputation for unusual volatility” [Econoday]. March and February were revised upward, but “April was a bad month for all regions especially the West. One month is never enough to judge new home sales which eases the negative signals from April. But the report does follow last week’s housing starts which also showed significant April weakness.” And: “below expectations” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “This month the backward revisions were up and the rolling averages significantly declined. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series – and the rolling averages were within the levels seen in 2017” [Econintersect]. And: “New home sales for April were reported at 569,000 on a seasonally adjusted annual rate basis (SAAR). This was well below the consensus forecast, however the three previous months combined were revised up significantly. Overall this was a decent report” [Calculated Risk].

Purchasing Managers Index Composite Flash, May 2017: “A noticeable pick-up in the services sector offset continued softness in manufacturing to lift the PMI composite” [Econoday]. “New orders are at their best level of the year and employment is improving. Costs in the service sample are rising due to higher wages and higher costs for raw materials. And service providers, in further evidence that demand is strong, are passing these costs through with output prices also at their highest level of the year. Manufacturing is a different story with new orders, output and employment all subdued and slowing… Of special note in the report is a subdued year-ahead outlook in the service sector, one that contrasts with strong optimism at the beginning of the year. This report is mixed with manufacturing continuing to run behind other advance reports though services are mostly positive.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, May 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth district did expand for the seventh consecutive month in May, but just barely, with the index falling sharply by a surprisingly large 19 points to an almost flat reading of 1” [Econoday]. “The big decline from the lofty levels of the two previous months was a surprise to most analysts, who expected a more modest decline… Looking ahead, manufacturing executives are still very optimistic, and while expectations measures did fall from the exuberant readings of the prior months, the declines are much less pronounced than in the current conditions part of the survey.” And: “The Richmond Fed subcategories were weak, This was not a good report.” [Econintersect]. “Of the three regional Federal Reserve surveys released to date, one is in contraction with the rest in expansion.”

Household Income: “According to new data derived from the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS), median annual household income in April 2017 was $59,361, an increase of $590 (or 1.0 percent) over the March 2017 median of $58,771” [Econintersect]. “Median household income at the beginning of the great recession in December 2007 was $58,155, so the current median is 2.1 percent above that level. The Sentier Household Income Index (HII) for April 2017 was 100.9, higher than the March 2017 reading of 99.9 (January 2000 = 100). The level of real median annual household income in January 2000 was $58,846, which marks the beginning of this statistical series, so we have finally surpassed that level.” Best economy EVAH!

Energy: “Peak oil demand is coming, and energy companies and investors are becoming increasingly obsessed with predicting when the world will hit that milestone. Oil consumption hasn’t declined when economies are growing since the early days of commercial petroleum production in the 1850s” [Wall Street Journal]. “Oil companies and analysts say the moment could come as soon as 2025 or well into the 2040s. The precise date depends on how quickly automakers can ramp up production of electric vehicles and whether large manufacturers and retailers continue to push for improved energy efficiency in their supply chains even as oil and natural-gas prices remain low. But the consequences are likely to be so vast that many in the energy industry are already starting to prepare, factoring waning consumption into long-term forecasts and investment plans.”

Commercial Real Estate: “For the first time since the third quarter of 2010, when the sector began its historic multi-year run after emerging from the Great Recession, leasing demand in the first quarter fell short of new construction, according to data provided on Friday by Los Angeles-based real estate and services giant CBRE Group Inc. The firm added, however, that the gap between the two was narrow and that it had minimal impact on industrial availability.” [DC Velocity]. “The net rent index—which calculates rents excluding expenses and is considered the best gauge of market forces that drive pricing—rose 1.6 percent sequentially in the first quarter, and 6.7 percent year over year to $6.24 per square foot, the highest levels since 1980, CBRE said. In many U.S. markets, vacancy rates have dropped to as low as 2 percent. Because of this, most of the new industrial deliveries are speculative construction, an indication that developers are so confident in the continuation of current trends that they will begin work on a project without any firm buyer or tenant.”

The Bezzle: “The jobs of as many as 3.1 million U.S. truck drivers are at risk as autonomous (self-driving) technology for the big rigs continues to be developed. That’s about 2% of the total current U.S. workforce” [247 Wall Street]. “The switch won’t happen immediately, but slowly over the next decade or so, according to a report from Goldman Sachs Economics Research. U.S. truck drivers could see jobs disappear at a rate of about 25,000 a month as autonomous vehicles become more mainstream.” So I take it that means Government Sachs will be pushing for infrastructure spending (and legal changes) to support this? (Just because it’s a bezzle doesn’t mean people won’t bet on it.)

The Bezzle: “Madoff Fund Paid Millions to Breeden Firm, Zero to Victims” [Bloomberg].

Five Horsemen: “Alphabet and Amazin’ move to new highs” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May23

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 23 at 12:18pm.

Dear Old Blighty

“Support for the Labour party in Wales has surged in the last two weeks, while the Conservative momentum in Wales appears to have gone into reverse. These are the key messages to come out of the new Welsh Political Barometer poll, the very latest measure of where the parties stand in the general election battle” [Cardiff University].

“Jeremy Corbyn pays tribute to victims of Manchester terror attack” [Telegraph]. The Torygraph seemed to play a straight bat on this story. Odd.

“Theresa May must do more than just say she’s not Jeremy Corbyn” [Guardian]. Seems familiar. And Democrat Jim Messina is running her campaign…

“John Prescott has a change of heart over ‘useless’ Jeremy Corbyn” [The Spectator]. It’s always a good sign when opportunists flip.


“Maine Is Drowning in Lobsters” [Bloomberg]. “The market is booming, but it’s not making anybody rich.” Thank gawd. Yves here: Hush your mouth! Lobstermen barely make a poverty level income even in good times.

“‘My worst nightmares are coming true’: last major primeval forest in Europe on ‘brink of collapse'” [Guardian].

Health Care

“Members of the McConnell-led working group charged with writing the repeal bill have been meeting twice a week in a room just off the Senate floor, airing ideas and sharing their positions on issues like how and when to wind down the health care law’s Medicaid expansion or how to make the replacement plan’s tax credits more generous. The House passed its own legislation to repeal and replace the law earlier this month” [The Hill]. “Despite that, Republican leadership has faced criticism for the manner in which the legislation is being crafted. Several members say the bill is not expected to go through the formal committee process. GOP leaders defend their methods and say all Republican senators will have the opportunity to contribute to the measure, but some members are warning that the conference as a whole will need ample time to review any final product.”

Class Warfare

“The New Corporation Man” [Harvard Crimson]. An excellent article on the Harvard Corporation, foused on new board member and Caryle Group founder David M. Rubenstein.

Rubenstein, whose estimated net worth tops $2.6 billion, chairs the boards of trustees of the Kennedy Center and the Brookings Institution, serves as a regent of the Smithsonian Institution, and sits on the boards of Duke University and the University of Chicago. He’s the vice-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, a trustee of the National Gallery of Art, and he’s on the board at Johns Hopkins Medicine. That’s just a sampling. And this summer, he’ll become the newest member of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s most powerful governing body.

“Class Struggle Still Gets the Goods” [Jacobin]. “Piketty’s account of how wealth builds over time centers on savings. In his telling, the capitalist is prudent, dutifully investing large amounts of his income every year into capital goods. As these investments steadily accumulate, so too does the national wealth (which, according to this account, is the sum of all the previous years of savings minus depreciation). When the quantity of total past savings becomes very high in relation to the country’s annual income, the seemingly permanent 5 percent rate of return on wealth drives up the capital share. The problem with Piketty’s story, which Naidu and his peers get at in various ways, is that it doesn’t match reality. Assets like real estate, equity, and debt are not assessed according to the quantity of savings that go into creating them. They are assessed according to the expectations of how much income those assets will deliver to their owners in the future. Put simply: asset values are forward-looking, not backward-looking.

News of the Wired

“Instagram is the most harmful social network for your mental health” [Quartz]. “A growing body of research suggests social media is contributing to mental-health problems such as anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and body-image issues in young people, who are the heaviest users of social media. And Instagram, which now has 700 million users globally, appears to be the social network having the greatest negative effect, according to a new report by the UK’s Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), an independent charity focused on health education. Only YouTube had a net-positive effect among the respondents. Every other social network came back with a net-negative effect. (In order from least negative to most, they were: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.)” So it stands to reason Twitter is the one everybody beats up on. Here’s the original report.

“For years, Yahoo Mail has exposed a wealth of private user data because it failed to update widely used image-processing software that contained critical vulnerabilities. That’s according to a security researcher who warned that other popular services are also likely to be leaking sensitive subscriber secrets” [Ars Technica].

“Introducing the Blockstack Browser: A Gateway to a New, Decentralized Internet” [BlockStack]. Interesting if true. And no Mac *.dmg file yet.

* * *

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 (AM):

AM writes: “A bee busy at work in Bodnant Garden” (Wales).

* * *

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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. Huey Long

    RE: Hall of Mirrors/Believing the CIA

    The CIA has a track record of acting out of self interest since its inception and should not be believed.

    That being said, the public is almost completely unaware of the agency’s misdeeds. I think the reason folks like Manning, Snowden and Assange are so reviled by the agency is because they are a threat to the CIA’s reputation more than anything else.

    1. Procopius

      Your point is well taken, but I remember back in the late ’60s when they were exposed using their subsidiary company, Air America, to transport opium and heroin from the Golden Triangle to Vietnam. For a while there were jokes that CIA meant “Caught In the Act.” Unfortunately, it’s been clear since World War I, when the governments really started researching how to do propaganda, that the vast majority of citizens cannot remember anything that happened more than two days ago. By the by, there was a book on “the Company” that listed, in an appendix, a couple dozen of the dummy corporations they set up for operational purposes but which also made them a lot of money on the side. Can’t remember it’s title.

  2. allan

    More on the slow motion Titanic that is the DCCC from Howie Klein:

    The DCCC Has Another Terrible Idea– Copying The 2006 Midterms, A Recipe For Catastrophe

    … In other words, the vast majority of Rahm’s much-touted– to this day, at least by a numbskull like [Politico reporter] Devore– recruits were so terrible that when their constituents realized they had been tricked into electing Republican-lite candidates, they didn’t show up at the polls for them and they were defeated. And that’s exactly what the DCCC is literally planning on doing in 2018– electing bunch of rich self-funders, “ex”-Republicans, Blue Dogs, New Dems, identity politics garbage candidates… most of whom will lose in the 2022 midterms. They never learn– not the corrupt, dumb establishment hack politicians and certainly not their imbecile stenographers at the political trade press. …

  3. Anon

    It looks like everything past the 2017 section is centered. Just figured I’d let you know! Also, instead of pointing out errors, a question about 2020:

    Who do the Ds run? Barring Bernie’s age at that point, every widely popular D person is compromised in some way. Biden? Bring up student debt. Booker? He didn’t sign onto that bill for drug price negotiation. Warren? Strong consumer bonafides, but is just as hawkish as Hillary is. Pelosi? The ACA will come back to bite her in the butt.

    The best thing to learn from 2016 is that you don’t put all of your eggs, chickens, and farms into one basket, especially if you’re not out on the ground to get data as to why it’s a bad idea.

    Bonus question: What if the Ds did pass single payer in 2009? I don’t have data in front of me, but premiums going up the week before the election couldn’t have helped.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Who do the Dems run? Tulsi Gabbard, if they want to win.

      But they don’t.

      (Actually running her as VP with Warren might get most of the anti-war folk to roll their eyes and vote for her – and then her youth isn’t as much of a problem as an incumbent VP 8 years later.)

      1. sgt_doom

        Warren? Who voted twice for Ronnie Reagan and twice for George Herbert Walker Bush?

        No thanks . . .

      1. Procopius

        Not Booker. He’s too much in bed with Zuckerberg, Gates, and the whole charter school grift. Worse than Biden would be, and he wrote the “Jail Them All” act back in 1994.

    2. PKMKII

      Warren. Barring some massive change in the foreign policy status quo, the military issue isn’t going to be as front and center as domestic policy, specifically working class economics. Warren’s tenure at the CFPB gives her the best positioning on that.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        If they run Warren, that will complete their transformation into the Republican party circa 1990.

    3. Jeff W

      Biden is about the same age as Bernie (less than a year and a half younger). Nancy Pelosi is older than Bernie (by about a year and a half).

      Assuming Bernie is fit in 2020 (and he seems pretty fit now), I personally would not rule him out in 2020, although I understand that some people might be inclined to. Given an “old” politician with a +60% favorability rating versus a slightly younger politician [Trump] who has done nothing to help his base or, worse, hurt it in ways that really matter, e.g., taking away their health care coverage—or, at least trying to, who are people going to choose?

      Lori Wallach would kill in debates. She is crystal clear and always exactly on point. I’d want to her to run just to hear her speak on any issue.

      And if the Democrats had passed single payer in 2009, it would be a completely different political landscape as it was from the 1930s to the 1960s. They would have something unequivocally good to point to—they wouldn’t have to talk about how much worse the Republicans would be.

      1. Oregoncharles

        The Dems would never run Wallach, but the Greens might. I don’t really know her record outside the globalization issue, though.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Wallach is great but not seasoned as a politician. She should start out, say, in the House. She’s a lot like Zephyr Teachout, who will break through for sure one day.

  4. L

    There is an apparent typo in the first piece: “Do not, however, that the Democrat Establishment …” Shouldn’t that be “Do note, however…”

  5. dcblogger

    “A growing number of House Republicans are facing physical threats from angry constituents in their districts, leading many to fear for their safety” [The Hill (TF)]. They don’t mess around in the Red States, do they?

    I suppose that it is too much to hope that this will cause House Republicans to rethink their views on gun control.

    1. Tim

      No, they will observe their own fear of being shot, and subsequent change of action as proof guns work as a deterrent. Deterrence is a positive affect of having guns, in the same way nuclear weapons have positive affect as a deterrent.

      The real question is the sum of the deterred action greater than the sum of the realization of the risk of acting on the use of the deterrent? nobody knows for sure.

      I’m apolitical on gun ownership myself, but thought it would be useful to show you the mindset of conservatives.

  6. Ernesto Lyon

    I’ve learned a lot from youtube. Everything else has been negative returns.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Twitter went wild on the orb. I liked this one:

      And this one:

      There was also a very good one for Sanders which now I can’t find, but Twitter’s search function is what it is, and Google thinks I want to search on “orbital sanders.” So it goes.

      1. diptherio

        That’s how you can tell it’s not a Russian-made orb. In mother Russia, Orgasmatron fondles you.

      2. craazyboy

        From the look on Trump’s face, I believe Trump has found an Arab King he can truly bromance with.

        I saw another photo, from Israel already, I believe, and Trump was in mid hug-handshake with a fellow in a suit. In contrast, Trump was looking down and away and his face had a distinctive Alec Baldwin pucker look to it. No hope for a relationship there, I don’t imagine.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Like I said before, the wonderful Saudis and Gulf guys are A-rabs we can deal with, hookers and blow on the Cote d’Azur not rabble-rousing speeches by some guy in a turban (a Persian guy, not an A-rab but what difference does that make). And the Saudis have lots of dirt poor women and children living in the Yemeni desert they want to incinerate, a perfect end-customer for American bombs since nobody gives a f*ck about them. One Manchester every 6 hours around the clock by my count, but too bad, they were born brown. Bad luck.

  7. Jim A

    “They are assessed according to the expectations of how much income those assets will deliver to their owners in the future.”—That is one of the three main ways of valuing assets. If you are a “buy and hold” investor, looking to bank your dividends or rents, that is what you use. Another is the “salvage value.” If you cut up the asset and sell the parts what are they worth? That is what is often used when judging a business as collateral for a loan. A third is the speculative value. A price based on an anticipated higher future selling price for the asset, irrespective of future dividend/rents or the underlying salvage price of the asset.
    I would argue that current stock market prices based on speculation, in the way that RE prices were during the RE bubble. I would further argue that this is in great part due to the increasing concentration of wealth. Basically, rich people are putting more money into Wall Street’s hands because they have it, and this is raising asset prices DESPITE the fact that the companies involved aren’t actually selling more product in aggregate. It’s the classic case of inflation, more money chasing a fixed supply of “goods.” Except that the goods in question are consumer products that make up the CPI, they’re financial assets.

    1. diptherio

      It seems to me like speculation would cause both “buy and hold” and “salvage” values of assets to be inflated as well, as in there may well be positive feedback mechanisms between the amount of speculative buying going on and the assumed salvage value of the asset that banks are lending against.

    2. LT

      Wealthy people manage assets during boom times and spend during the busts.
      Most people spend when they hear the good news about the economy. That’s probably the time to save, manage, and cut. During busts, spend because prices are lower.

      Of course this is more on an individual basis, but the economy is now so much hype, think counter-intuitively.

    3. John k

      Supply not fixed, corps buying back shares for years.
      Doesn’t matter, no money goes into or comes out of the market, it’s all sentiment. We’re in the mania phase.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Rear view mirror thinking, we used to have “manias” because we used to have “markets” with rational actors who would temporarily become irrational but eventually had to get rational again because their resources were finite. “Reason” and “mania” do not apply however when the very issuer of the scrip suddenly decides to buy and hold massive quantities of assets on his balance sheet because there is never any pain or market consequence or limit for him doing so, he can simply print up more scrip. $1 trillion in Q1, party on.
        (Squeaky little voice in the back of the class pipes up and says “but Professor doesn’t that mean the money would lose all its value and investors would have no idea what an investment is worth?”)

  8. Clive

    The pictures of Trump opening the Saudi Arabian antiterrorism surveillance centre (oh, gosh, the irony…) had me too looking for Rosa Klebb. Melania has the same vibe, of course, but has a better wardrobe, not to mention superior bone structure. But I wouldn’t get too close to her Jimmy Choos just in case they were fitted with “optional extras”.

    1. RUKidding

      Hat tip for Rosa Klebb reference, and yes, there is something Klebbish about Melania. I wouldn’t want to get near those stilettos!

      I was looking for Goldmember stroking his fluffy white cat (aka, Mike Myers), myself.

      I have to hand that to the Saudi’s. That photo op is, uh, something out of this world.

      1. polecat

        That entire building is really a hanger .. the House Saudi will release those Ty (Wahhabi) fighters to Yemen, in 3 .. 2.. 1..

        …. then ‘owned’ward … to Planet Persia

    2. JustAnObserver

      That set of images has just got to be the hands down, no contest, winner of the security theater competition. Purest Kabuki & it says everything we need to know about both DT Jr. *and* the RoW’s understanding of what makes him tick and what it takes to please him.

      I’m not sure the Bond analogy is correct though, more something out of Doctor Who where each touch of the orb unleashes a fresh set of daemons.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Ha…sinkhole…florida code word for the insurance doesn’t cover leaking sprinkler systems nor collapsed trees improperly used as fill nor cracked sewer lines seeping sewage and displacing sand…

          Let’s have uncle phils construction krewe pump in some random concrete with no rebar and get a fat check stroked…

          Sinkhole…florida code word for mortgage payoff lottery ticket.

        1. RUKidding

          I must say Alexander’s Million dollar Star Trek flight deck office is a serious contender for security theater, but in the slapstick, doofus, nerd edition.

          Really, much as I’m no fan of SA for many reasons, their security theater – especially getting Trump to fondle that Orb with King Salman and Sisi – is the clear, outright, no contest winner.

          Seriously, send that country a medal or something. It’s the best Circus (no bread, of course) that I’ve seen inna while.

  9. Plenue

    I can’t help but think that the glowing globe and super-villain command center are just Saudi Arabia trolling in epic fashion. They’re trying to see how far into blatant absurdity they can push things with Trump. It seems like they used this old video game as a model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zStn70Ot4r0

    1. cocomaan

      +1 for Deus Ex link. Majestic 12 is not messing around, there’s aliens in the basement under that statue. And Men in Black.

      1. Charger01

        I loved Deus Ex as a kid. Even though the gameplay and graphics we’re very 1999/2000, the story and dialogue are still superb.

    2. clinical wasteman

      Far from impossible now that you mention it. But if so, is Al-Sisi in on the joke or is he, so to speak, one of the butts?

      Asad AbuKhalil [http://angryarab.blogspot.co.uk/ passim] keeps finding equally funny/alarming signs that the Saudi courting of Trump – and vice-versa – at the highest level is probably in earnest, in contrast to an apparent Qatari preference for the traditional managers of of military-Humanitarian mayhem. But Asad also insists that the deadpan wit of ordinary ‘Saudis’ (quote marks because the family ownership tag is like calling everyone in the UK ‘Battenbergs’) when they risk their lives by ridiculing their rulers is quite exceptional, and usually sails way over the heads of its targets. And who knows who managed to get the job of designing that particular sightbite?

    3. RUKidding

      If so, they deserve an award for EPIC TROLLING!!

      Whoda guessed that they were so imaginative??

      I still love it.

  10. PKMKII

    Trump Budget Based on $2 Trillion Math Error

    So the $2 trillion from higher growth is a double-count. It pays for the Trump cuts, and then it pays again for balancing the budget. Or, alternatively, Trump could be assuming that his tax cuts will not only pay for themselves but generate $2 trillion in higher revenue. But Trump has not claimed his tax cuts will recoup more than 100 percent of their lost revenue, so it’s simply an embarrassing mistake.

    The laffer curve, it’s a laugher.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s a nice point. Is bullshit additive, such that it’s possible for some talking point (say, the Laffer Curve) to be twice as bullshit as another? Or is bullshit a state, such that one flips from not bullshit to bullshit?

      1. Off The Street

        Is bullshit a state, you ask. The next step will be to tax quanta, and then leave taxpayers wondering whether they paid or not, so a virtuous cycle.

      2. clinical wasteman

        Good question. By no means sure of the answer, but one immediate thought is that perhaps it’s trivially additive, meaning it can be compounded and compounded while always being more of the same = really no more, still either/or? Or could it be that it constantly changes and reproduces itself in trivially qualitative ways, so that it’s always ‘new’ in a strict sense that’s barely worth applying to it, but always ultimately the same thing anyway?

        If it’s self-reproducing in that second sense, would that make bullshit a sort of ur-robot [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-replicating_machine], and if so, how frightened should we be?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > bullshit as a self-replicating machine

          That would make bullshit uncomfortably close to an asset class, would it not? (Finance geeks please comment…)

          1. ambrit

            Well, the “elites” have been long “bulls–t” since Bernays, at the least. Probably for ever. Although I would never call bulls–t a “class asset.”

    2. Jim Haygood

      Piled higher and deeper:

      The budget also makes use of several other classic accounting gimmicks. It assumes that the wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East will cause future Congresses to allocate $593 billion in extra war funding that won’t be needed and then claims to save that amount by not spending it.

      “It’s a taxpayer-first budget,” Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, said.


      This, even as they gear up a vast defense procurement plan which demonstrates that the US plans not merely to remain in the Permanent War business, but to expand it. It’s bullshit within bullshit, whole solar systems of intricately nested bullshit.

      Who is Mick Mulvaney?

      Mulvaney attended law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He earned a full scholarship to attend law school, where his focus was on anti-trust law. He graduated with his J.D. degree in 1992. From 1992 to 1997, Mulvaney practiced law with the firm James, McElroy & Diehl.

      DOH. Maybe the budget director should be an accountant instead of a lawyer. Too bad the cretins in Congress lack the chops to haul Mulvaney in front of the Budget Committee and rip his face off for our entertainment. Since it’s Amateur Hour, the least they could do is strike up the band and make him dance like a fool.

      1. a different chris

        >Maybe the budget director should be an accountant instead of a lawyer.

        Why? The money we print is basically bullshit, you and I do agree completely on that :) … so seems like a lawyer is the right tool for the job.

    3. LT

      I’d buy the tax cuts “cure all,” but they’ve been being cut since the early sixties (JFK gave tax cuts to the wealthy) and all to show for it is outsourcing, stagnant wages, higher cost of living for essentials (education, housing), declining worker participation, investment in anything to remove workers from the equation, infrastructure decline, monopolization…

  11. L

    It seems to me that both the AEI comment and Rahm Emmanuel case are evidence of the same basic problem. In both cases the parties or party establishments have actually lost their ability to understand people outside of them. While there was some initial hope that the Trumpquake would shake things up it appears that in both cases the establishments have hardened their navel gaze.

    Consider the AEI. While we have come to expect dismissal of sick people as just numbers or the “perhaps 1-2 million” this misses the greater points. First is it not merely “1-2 million” but likely much larger given the broad definition of “pre-existing condition” that is in the actual bills. Second that is >1-2 million people who have families and friends and communities who up until now have often been picking up the slack, or trying to. And third, we are stuck quibbling about the cost of a few million “uninsured” and never ever considering whether or not insurance is even the right mechanism.

    As to the Democrats, they are still sending me emails from James Carville so compared to that Rahm Emmanuel is practically young hip and in touch.

    And as to Rahm Emmanuel, forget the hippie punching isn’t Homan square enough? What will he be in charge of minority outreach?

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I believe “perhaps 1-2 million” is AEI-speak for “let em all die.” Not real math, more an expression of contempt.

  12. allan

    The fish rots leaks from the head down.
    After DJT confirms Israel as the source of the laptop plot intel during the photo-op with Bibi, comes this:

    US-UK intelligence alliance snafu redux: officials here ask media not to name Manc bomber. US officials leaking name left, right, centre (@SamGadJones)

    Tradecraft right out of Get Smart.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The whole fish is not rotten, then?

      I remember, showing my age here, a Get Smart series of episodes with a running gag whose punchline was “Oh! I thought he was speaking Chinese.”

      Which I’m reminded of because I’m not sure what kind a tradecraft got a few hundred of our agents in China whacked, if indeed the Times story is true (who knows, especially considering the odd timing (I mean, which faction leaked it, and why?))

      1. Andrew Watts

        The whole fish is not rotten, then?

        Oh, you know, the old farmer’s saying? A few bad apples ruins the barrel. And it does.

        I remember, showing my age here, a Get Smart series of episodes with a running gag whose punchline was “Oh! I thought he was speaking Chinese.”

        Which I’m reminded of because I’m not sure what kind a tradecraft got a few hundred of our agents in China whacked, if indeed the Times story is true (who knows, especially considering the odd timing (I mean, which faction leaked it, and why?))

        I suspected something was up when the familiar suspects from American intelligence were screaming in the media that Snowden had to be a Russian/Chinese spy and that he was responsible for the death of people. That was a little over the top… even for them.

        But a whole network and they still don’t know how it was done? No wonder.

      2. witters

        Here we can put together a representative Maxwell Smart exchage:

        86: “Don’t tell me he was speaking Chinese!”
        99: “He was speaking Chinese.”
        86: “I asked you not to tell me that!”

      1. Off The Street

        Hover cover had to be retired due to environmental concerns.
        “Missed it by that much”
        “Sorry about that, Chief!”

    2. Andrew Watts

      Actually, the Jordanians are claiming credit for the intel. It makes more sense to me that it originally came from them. Jordanian intelligence would maintain contacts within the tribes in Islamic State territory. They’d also have the Palestinians infiltrated ever since the Black September conflict. The King of Jordan ignited a small scandal when he claimed that a lot of the people who join the Islamic State from his country are Palestinians,

      But hey, I learned all about tradecraft through watching episodes of Get Smart and Chuck.

      Max: “I don’t understand it Chief. I thought that joining the Naval Reserve was part of our cover. As spies I never dreamed they’d call us up for active duty.”

      Chief: “That’s because they don’t know we’re spies. CONTROL is such a super-secret organization that even the Army and Navy don’t know we exist.”

      Max: “Well I still don’t think it’s fair. I mean, after all, they’d never draft the CIA.”

      Chief: “Well, that’s because the CIA isn’t a secret organization. It’s suppose to be but it’s not.”

      -“Temporarily Out of CONTROL”

      1. sid_finster

        I am far from an expert on the subject, but I understand that the much vaunted Israeli intelligence in the Arab world is anything but.

        In fact the US gives Israel far more useful intelligence than it receives.

        1. craazyboy

          I guess that could happen when propaganda is given far higher priority than intel. And it is far easier to lie convincingly under oath when you truly believe what you say.

    3. jawbone

      The named Manchester bomber is from Libya, based on broadcast news (I was flipping through chanels, so one of the non-FOX three).

      Made me think again of “blowback,” what with all the chaos and death we in the West have heaped on the Middle East/Northern Africa.

      The people living there have been dying in terrible terrorist bombings and US Coalition bombings for going on16 years now. The horror and sorrow the Brits are facing happens almost daily in the nations we set out to destroy and conquer.

      When will it ever end?

  13. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Maine Is Drowning in Lobsters

    The article is very good in describing the lobster fishery. Another good source for anyone interested is Trevor Corson’s The Secret Life of Lobsters. He gets into much greater detail and describes how the fishermen worked with scientists and the state to come up with a policy that over many decades has led to a healthy fishery. The lobstermen largely police themselves and you really don’t want to piss these people off by breaking the rules. Corson also talks about how there is a lot we still don’t know about how lobsters live, including how many there might be further offshore where fishermen don’t go.

    There was this bit from the article:

    The one thing nobody can answer is how long these good times will continue. We journalists have a tendency to see disaster around every corner — Quartz’s Gwynn Guilford concluded an epic 2015 examination of the lobster boom with this warning:

    Two decades of lobster abundance isn’t thanks to human mastery of “sustainability.” The ecosystem extremes that seem likely to have produced it — how we’ve pulled apart the food web, heated up the sea, re-rigged the lobster population structure — are volatile. Inevitably, nature warps again.

    Not sure when the research for the article was done, but lobster prices are extremely high right now. This article – Lobster prices high as catch drops and China imports climb – is a few months old but my wife mentioned she heard a radio report the other day mentioning prices were as high as they’d been in many years which would indicate the supply has dropped. Contract this to several years ago when the catch was huge and the price was so cheap they almost couldn’t give it away. I remember hearing radio ads advertising cheap lobster for Thanksgiving dinner.

    Summer is just starting so time will tell if the lower catch is an anomaly or if rising temperatures really are starting to drive the lobsters elsewhere. Seen studies showing that the Gulf of Maine is heating up faster than just about any other body of water on the planet.

    1. robnume

      Clearly, lab, the Chinese are sending their “lobsters” here to the U.S. to spy. With that bit of logic, we can only assume that Russian lobsters will be arriving at any moment. s/

        1. polecat

          And they’re HOT RED as well !
          humm … Lobster ‘fair’ tacos …… or is it burritos, I can’t remember. Senor fresno dan, help me out !

          1. fresno dan

            May 23, 2017 at 9:23 pm
            May 23, 2017 at 10:32 pm

            Unfortunately, I can’t find on YourTube that scene in the movie “Tom Horn” where Steve McQueen is out on the plains, and some rich cattleman is throwing a shindig with lobster, and Steve McQueen (Tom Horn) says, “I have never eaten a bug”

            I remember in Maryland they have “soft crabs” where they catch the crabs right after they have molted…..
            Soft tacos are just really greasy tacos…which is what makes them soooooo delicious….

    2. paul

      Lobster History:

      Long ago, lobsters were so plentiful that Native Americans used them to fertilize their fields and to bait their hooks for fishing. In colonial times, lobsters were considered “poverty food.”
      They were harvested from tidal pools and served to children, to prisoners, and to indentured servants, who exchanged their passage to America for seven years of service to their sponsors.
      In Massachusetts, some of the servants finally rebelled. They had it put into their contracts that they would not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Reminds me of salmon, once so plentiful up in freshwater streams around the country there were laws against serving it to servants more than a few times per week. In California they used pitchforks to harvest as many as they wanted

    1. allan

      Kushner’s company is also going all in on the War on Cash:

      … Westminster recently made paying the rent much more of a challenge. Last fall, it sent notice to residents saying that they could no longer pay by money order (on which many residents, who lack checking accounts, had relied) at the complex’s rental office and would instead need to go to a Walmart or Ace Cash Express and use an assigned “WIPS card” — a plastic card linked to the resident’s account — to pay their rent there. That method carries a $3.50 fee for every payment, and getting to the Walmart or Ace is difficult for the many residents without cars….

      And he seemed like such a nice young man.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > many residents, who lack checking accounts

        Too bad the Dems deep-sixed Warren’s Post Office Bank concept.

        They don’t mess around in Baltimore.

  14. JohnnyGL


    Re: this one from above.

    It’s worth noting two things about the anecdotes, keeping in mind that the plural of anecdote is not data….

    1) None of the incidents involve constituents angry about Russia and Trump’s alleged conspiracy with Putin.

    2) ALL of the incidents are about the Health Care bill.

    New slogan for HR 676: Hurry up and pass it before someone gets killed! Works on multiple levels!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > None of the incidents involve constituents angry about Russia and Trump’s alleged conspiracy with Putin.

      See, there’s your problem. The Democrats aren’t talking about Putin enough.

      1. Tim

        AND it proves Democrat’s point that republicans are so dense, stupid and deplorable that they can’t grasp such a basic concept that Trump is a Russian in disguise. (Sarc)

        1. JohnnyGL

          New slogan for Nakedcap: Giving you a laugh and generally making your workday a little less crappy!

    2. Arizona Slim

      Here in Southern Arizona, the current holder of the seat that was held by Gabby Giffords is making quite a point of avoiding public town halls. But, alas, Martha McSally’s constituents are on to this game. One of my friends is e-mailing McSally Mobilization Alerts whenever she has a private town hall.

      1. robnume

        Thanks, Arizona Slim. Good to know that “democracy,” in the form of Martha McSally, is alive and well in Tuscon.
        I grew up in Phoenix. Arizona’s politics have always had me scratching my head.

        1. Charger01

          Rep. Cathy McMorris – Rogers has the same thing going on at home as well. If you wanted to see her in person, you had to attend the fundraiser.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > If you wanted to see her in person, you had to attend the fundraiser.

            Wonderfully clarifying.

            I wonder how long it will take Democrats to adopt this tactic?

  15. Altandmain

    Apparently Bernie Sanders is unhappy that Trump is cutting Medicaid.

    When you’ve lost the MSM … even they are saying no on Clinton.

    In the meantime … Tulsi 2020?

    More DAPL leaks:

    1. tony

      Chelsea Clinton 2020! Considering the disaster Trump presidency is shaping up to be she might just win.

  16. DJG

    Thanks, Lambert: I may have to paste this twelve or fifteen places today, just to gum up the WWW:

    From above:
    And speaking of anonymous sources, at this point we might remember that (current) liberal Heroes of the Republic Brennan, Comey, and Clapper are, respectively, Bush and Obama’s torture advisor as well as the architect of Obama’s kill list, pro-torture, and a serial fabricator on mass surveillance and torture as well. (To be fair, fabrication is part of the intelligence community’s stock in trade.) These gentlemen — friends to access journalists everywhere — are all over the telescreen right now, but seems to me unlikely that truth will have been their first concern when there is so much else at stake.

    [Short form: Torture corrupts everything. Apologists for torture do not deserve your trust.]

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        As I recall we executed quite a number of Japanese after WWII for exactly this kind of war crime, I guess we had a different view of it then.
        File under: Osama won.

    1. Jim Haygood

      How does Mueller, the director of the FBI for 12 years preceding Comey, qualify as a disinterested investigator of events which involved his successor Comey?

      He doesn’t, of course. Mueller as special counsel is every bit as objective as O.J. Simpson hunting for the real killer. Obviously the FBI is innocent and blameless. Them’s the ground rules.

      Why Trump isn’t howling about Mueller’s obvious conflict of interest is a head-scratcher. Looks like the MIC has Trump on a very short leash. Must have been a mess removing that horse’s head from the presidential quarters.

      1. Carolinian

        There is the theory going around that Mueller is a favorable choice for Trump because Mueller has so many conflicts of interest he can’t effectively investigate Jarad etc.

        Of course in any normal world Mueller would be investigating himself–the mass surveillance, entrapment etc under his watch–and Trump could get back to his orb and the tender mercies of the WaPo.

  17. Kurtismayfield

    RE:“Florida Democratic Party Exec: Poor Voters Don’t Care About ‘Issues,’ Vote Based on ‘Emotions’”

    I found this gem in the article:

    She also said she was proud about not supporting either candidate in the 2016 Democratic primary, which is an odd sort of thing to boast about as a Democratic Party leader.

    This one is quite a mercenary, or she is a Republican. You choose!

      1. robnume

        She seemed to have such disdain and contempt for her audience that I’m surprised she didn’t just loudly sigh and tell those present to just, “STFU and go home. We’ll run things for you, don’t worry your empty little heads about it.”.

    1. reslez

      Jimmy Dore did a youtube interview with her titled “Another Democratic Leader Struggles to Articulate Democratic Message”. It exposed her as a total vacant tool. She held to her non-platform with some weird semi-religious fervor as if standing for nothing were a badge of pride instead of a scarlet letter.

      Clearly, the secret message is $donor dollar$. This explains why the pary leadership wants to double down on zero substance and Putin hysterics. I pity and despise Democrats who believe this stuff. They constitute proof that party loyalty is a disease. They’re as bad as GWB’s uncrackable core of loyal morons post-2006.

      1. robnume

        Darn right, reslez. Hell, it took me 40 years to leave that POS party and I’m relatively smart. I had wanted to leave for the past 15 years but, clearly, old habits die hard.
        Actually, I simply came to the conclusion that the two party system in the U.S. is set up to psychologically hold its party members into a TINA-type mentality.
        Some of you may have already come to that conclusion and if you have, good for you. Don’t buy into the dual party nonsense that either one of these turkeys are gonna help any of their members or that they exist as a form of “check and balance” against the other. ‘Cuz that’s all just a big steaming pile of crap.

  18. Ed Walker

    Mainstream economists continue to disrespect Piketty. Meanwhile, r is greater than g, and the wealth of the top .01% gets greater and greater and the wealth of the rest of us stagnates or evaporates. Facts continue to make fools of mainstream economists, but the fools continue to get rich. It’s a quandary.

      1. Heraclitus

        Thank you Lambert. I reread the 2014 thread, and it was illuminating. I completely agree with Yves’s criticism of Piketty.

  19. dcrane

    “But from a political perspective, can a group numbering perhaps 1 or 2 million be the cause for Republicans losing the 23-seat advantage they now hold in the House of Representatives?”

    Worth noting that those 1-2 million people presumably have close friends and family members.

    1. windsock

      Currently, May. She was losing momentum, was under pressure for her social care manifesto promise and subsequent U-turn. A pause in campaigning relieves that pressure and gives her time to re-group.

      Also, the right-wing will weaponise the attack, (questions already asked on Conservative Home – “Would anyone trust Corbyn and Abbott to handle this sort of terrible crisis? “)

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Generally, terror attacks benefit the right. It may be that Corbyn can mitigate this effect with his response. We’ll have to see. He’s done surprisingly well so far.

  20. charles leseau

    I’m pretty sure that in the last decade I haven’t gone more than a couple weeks without seeing somebody accuse their political opponent of the “votes based on emotions” or “argues based on emotions” cliché. I’ve always considered it absurd. I’ve seen liberals say it about conservatives. I’ve seen conservatives say it about liberals. I’m now seeing a Democrat say it about the poor. But I’ve never heard anyone say it about themselves.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I have, on the question of Scottish independence. My response is purely emotional – I don’t know what’s good for Scotland now, nor do I have to live with the consequences. And I try to always qualify my comments o nthe subject accordingly.

      1. charles leseau

        Awesome, thanks. Now I can go about blasting across the internet that [all] people who waffle on the question of Scottish Independence argue & vote based on emotion.

  21. allan

    What Progressives Miss About Arms Sales [The Atlantic]

    About the Author

    Andrew Exum is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. From 2015 to 2016,
    he was the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Middle East policy.

    Shorter Exum: The Dems need to man up and proudly own arm sales as a progressive jobs program.
    The Force Blob is strong in this one.

  22. ChrisPacific

    If Corbyn were to pull a Trump and win the election in defiance of poll data (I know it’s not likely) how would we expect his handling of Brexit to compare to May’s? Would he be singing “Rule Britannia” with eyes firmly closed like her? Would he have a realistic understanding of the scale of the problem and attempt to negotiate? Or would he be looking to walk it back via scare tactics/”Are you sure?” referendum in the manner that’s been suggested before?

  23. allan

    Here are the 66 programs eliminated in Trump’s budget [The Hill]


    Commerce: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grants and Education

    With the oceans and atmosphere coming to an end, who needs this welfare for iceberg huggers?

    Energy: ARPA-E (Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy)

    Frack is back, so who needs this fancy stuff?

    HHS: Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

    With a tsunami of fracked hydrocarbons, the heating oil will be too cheap to meter.

    DHS: Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program

    What flood?

    Interior: National Wildlife Refuge Fund

    A solid for the Cowliphate.

    Labor: OSHA Training Grants

    Worker safety is already great.

    NASA: Five Earth Science Missions

    What is this Earth cr*p? It’s NASA, not NAEA.

    Independent Agencies: Corporation for Public Broadcasting

    Sorry, Nice Polite Republicans – real Republicans aren’t polite.

    · Legal Services Corporation

    · National Endowment for the Arts

    · National Endowment for the Humanities

    How many criminal ballerinas voted for DJT?

    1. LT

      I’ve heard the phrase “virtue signaling.”
      That is “scumbag signaling.”

      It’s not to make anything better. Just bullying really.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Your link is from 2015, and here’s a key paragraph:

        “The second real phenomena is the rise of vigilante sharia squads in some places. For example, in Whitechapel, East London, CNN reported on bands of Muslim men who try to keep alcohol out of the area and harangue passers-by about morality. RedState’s Erick Erickson thinks he’s caught CNN red-handed: While the network criticizes Jindal for not knowing of any real no-go zones, CNN itself reported on one! But the analogy doesn’t quite hold. What’s happening here is disturbing, but well-short of extremist-run enclaves. These are just ad-hoc groups, and area Muslims by and large condemn it in CNN’s reporting.”

        The conditions described in the above link are only a small step beyond that: vigilante imposition of conservative Muslim norms in certain neighborhoods, specifically directed against women.

        Adelle Chattre’s dismissal is evidently informed – it’s a bad source. But I’m hoping she’ll read it anyway: it’s very specific indeed, with names and French news sources. And incendiary. If untrue, it needs to be shot down. If true, it’s very bad news indeed. I saw it on Gnews.

        1. marym

          From a few web searches it appears there was a flurry about this in 2015 – Fox, Steve Emerson, Bobby Jindal, gatestone – and so a lot of critique then. Trump raised it again about Sweden in 2016. Maybe there’s a flurry/ critique cycle again.

          Some links:



          These reports likely refer to the 53 geographical areas in Sweden that are listed in an official police report as “vulnerable areas”. In these areas, crime and unemployment rates are generally higher than in the rest of the country.

          I called the police station in Rinkeby in Stockholm (a “particularly vulnerable area” according to the police report and a “no-go zone” according to Breitbart) and spoke to officer Niclas Andersson. He said there aren’t any no-go zones in Sweden. “There are areas with major challenges, like a high crime rate, poverty and little faith in the police or society in general. But calling them “no-go zones” paints an unfair image,” he added. “And police do visit these neighbourhoods whenever necessary.”

          In both cases poor neighborhoods with crime and/or harassment of women – not unique to Muslims -, and police or other city mapping of those areas, but not sharia no-go zones.

        2. marym

          Reply and links to similar more recent stories about Sweden in moderation if you care to check back later.

      2. tony

        Your article does not answer his. He posted a Le Parisien claim that women feel uncomfortable and unsafe in certain areas, while your article argues there are no Sharia ruled zones in Europe.

        1. marym

          Going by the source, the title in the url, and a few web searches, there seems to be a conflation of ideas about poor neighborhoods where potential violence is an issue regardless of ethnicity; street harassment of women, which isn’t unique to poor neighborhoods; and the no-go-zone, sharia law scare talk of the white supremacist right. Didn’t give a click to that source though.

    1. Adelle Chattre

      That’s among the worst possible sources, one that gives rabid, foaming Islamophobia a bad name. I’m all for conversation, but the chances their link brings nuance rather than venom are ~nil, emanating as it does from the dark pit at the belching, sulfurous heart of American bigotry. Myself, I’ll give that link the respect Gatestone deserves, and assume it’s a distorted, paranoid, bigoted screed, because it always is. Hang on SkyNet, here’s a link comin’ atcha: http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/presidential-campaign/262953-the-paranoid-style-in-islamophobic-politics

    2. tony

      Gatestone is a bad source, but the article is sourced. You should read the original article. These are not no-go zones, rather they are places where women can not go out feeling safe due to harasment. I do not know if this report is accurate, but Brussels, which has more Muslims seems to have an issue where women’s movement is somewhat limited already.

      Female acquaintances admitted the problem was so bad they never went out in a skirt, avoided the metro, never made eye contact with men, avoid walking certain streets, never wore shorts and in one case, only ever left their house by bike.

      …In turn, Peeters has denied charges of racism as the film shows mainly jeers by men of immigrant north African origin.

      In the film, she walks round her neighbourhood wearing jeans and a cardigan and then a knee-length summer dress and flat boots. A hidden camera shows that both times, men – from youths to groups of older men on cafe terraces – leer, cat-call and proposition her. She is called “whore”, “slut”, “bitch” and told that she looks up for sex. One man follows her saying she should come to his house or a hotel room. She says she gets this kind of comment eight to 10 times a day.

      Belgium film on street harassment strikes a chord across Europe

      It’s not bad yet, but who knows how things develop.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thats a very different issue from ‘sharia no go zones’ in Europe which are a fantasy for some right wingers. They simply don’t exist.

        The harrassment of women in certain ethnic areas is a long standing problem, but little to do with Brussels or muslims. Back in the 1980’s I was staying with two female cousins in a part of uptown Manhattan – both of them couldn’t walk down certain streets which were dominated by a particular nationality of hispanic men – just constant leering and catcalls (which never happened when I walked with them). Combine certain cultures (and no, I don’t just mean muslims) with lots of unemployed and underemployed males and you can create a situation where women can’t walk unmolested. Its a serious issue, but its not one with anything to do with sharia law.

        Incidentally, the main drive historically to create religiouis exclusion zones in Europe have been attempts by orthodox jews to create ‘eruv’ zones in London (NYTimes link) and other cities. It was resisted in London for the specific reason that nobody wanted to create a precedent for sharia or other religions.

  24. Stephen Douglas

    From the Free Dictionary by Farlex:

    play a straight bat
    1. (British) to avoid answering someone’s questions or giving them the information they want When asked about the affair, he plays a straight bat.
    2. (British old-fashioned) someone who plays a straight bat is honest and has traditional ideas and beliefs Wilf has played a straight bat all his life – I can’t believe he’d get mixed up in anything illegal.

    So you have mis-used a saying. If the Torygraph is playing a straight bat in the old-fashioned British sense they have traditional ideas and beliefs? Hardly That’s not what you mean to say. And that’s old-fashioned anyway. Current usage is the opposite: avoidance of giving someone information they want.

    So, again, by trying to be cute, you only mis-communicate, to say nothing of forcing anyone who doesn’t live on The Hampton Road to go looking for your arcane, inaccurate reference.

    Why? Aren’t you from Maine? When did yoiu move to The East End? By the way I’m still trying to figure out what the devil you were trying to say with the “C” symbol (it’s flipped and backwards and I’m sure it meant something to Albert Einstein. And to you.To the rest of us? Not so much).

    What is with the smarty-pants stuff that isn’t even correctly deployed? Are you bein antidisestablishmentarian?

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