2:00PM Water Cooler 5/24/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“An easier path for EU trade agreements” [Financial Times]. Linked to last week in the Brexit context. But this: “[The EU] should ditch the whole idea of having rules on investment, or at least rules allowing companies to sue a government directly, in FTAs. Such ‘investor-state’ provisions have attracted intense opposition, not just from the Walloons but also from anti-corporate campaigners. Removing these rules would ease the way for future deals. As they do not seem to encourage foreign direct investment, they are more trouble than they are worth. Freed from this unnecessary encumbrance, the EU would find it easier to sustain with its quiet run of closing bilateral trade pacts. Vietnam is the next down the track.”

“When Techdirt first started writing about corporate sovereignty, four years ago, it was an obscure area of trade policy that few knew about. The insiders who were familiar with the mechanism assumed it was a fixed and indispensable part of free trade deals. Now we have one of the most influential business newspapers calling it an ‘error’ that should be ‘ditched,’ since ISDS chapters are ‘more trouble than they are worth.’ We’ve come a long way” [TechDirt].

“On May 11, 2017, the New Zealand government completed the formal process for ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, becoming the second signatory country, after Japan, to do so” [Library of Congress Global Legal Monitor]. Good review of the state of play on ratification.

“Annotated NAFTA USTR Notice Draft” (PDF) [Eyes on Trade]. Intriguing annotation at the top: “3/30/17 LEAK.” Annotations are in two different inks. Linked to at a NAFTA explainer here, but no mention of the source…

“The border tax is stuck in customs. Political prospects for border adjustment, where imports would be taxed and exports exempted, are fading amid opposition from corporations, antitax conservatives and Senate Republicans” [Wall Street Journal]. “Proponents say the tax will encourage more companies to make more goods in the U.S., but the proposal could harshly penalize companies like Target Corp. that rely on cheap imports from Asia and Latin America to keep prices low. Retailers appear to be winning the political fight, with border adjustment potentially failing even to make it out of the Ways and Means Committee. The provision’s fate has implications beyond the border, as revenue generated by the tax is needed to pay for proposed cuts to the corporate tax rate.”


The budget

“Trump lays out $1T infrastructure vision in budget request” [The Hill]. “The rebuilding plan, according to the budget, would inject $200 billion into transportation projects over 10 years, with the goal of creating $1 trillion worth of overall investment.” As I’ve been saying: All pork be dispensed by Elaine Chao, DOT head and [kowtows] Mitch McConnell’s spouse! Not that there’s anything wrong with pork. One might also wonder how much of that money will go to optimizing the transportation network for Silicon Valley’s robot car bezzle, ka-ching, ka-ching. And: “At best a drop in the bucket and even then unlikely to ramp up for at least a year” [Mosler Economics]. “If the outcome is anywhere near revenue neutral, seems the tax cuts have far lower multiples than the spending cuts, so it looks to be contractionary overall. Nor do I think ‘mitigating risk for would-be entrepreneurs’ has any chance of overcoming the fiscal drag” [Mosler Economics].

“In fact, you know this is [Freedom Caucus founder Mick Mulvaney’s] budget because taken as a whole, the document is a masterwork in the medium of Obama revenge porn” [Dealbreaker]. Fun stuff. The title: “A New Foundation For American Greatness.” No orb, though.

“President Donald Trump won’t inherit the same windfall that the Federal Reserve handed the Obama administration each year, and his budget shows he knows it” [Bloomberg]. “The Fed is lifting interest rates and plans to start shrinking its $4.5 trillion balance sheet later this year, two policies that will be a drag on the U.S. federal budget. Higher rates mean that America has to pay more to borrow, and the combination of more elevated rates and a smaller balance sheet will leave the Fed with lower excess earnings, which it pays back to the Treasury.”


“Conservative Ralph Norman has beaten the more centrist, establishment candidate for the Republican nomination for an open U.S. House seat in South Carolina and now faces the task of keeping the seat in GOP hands” [AP]. “The State Election Commission certified the results of this week’s runoff election after a recount Friday. Not a single vote changed from Tuesday’s count. Norman finished with a 221-vote win out of more than 35,000 ballots cast.”

“In upset, Democrat Pellegrino wins 9th District Assembly seat” [Newsday]. “With all precincts reporting, Pellegrino won 58 percent of the vote to Gargiulo’s 42 percent, according to Suffolk and Nassau boards of election results posted Tuesday night…. She served as a Democratic National Convention delegate for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). President Donald Trump had won the district with 60 percent of the vote.”

“NH House special elections: Democrat pulls off upset in Wolfeboro, Republican wins Hillsborough County seat” [WMUR]. “In an upset, Democrat Edith DesMarais defeated Republican Matthew Plache in Carroll County District 6, which includes the town of Wolfeboro. The vote total, confirmed by both parties, was 811-755.”

“In Trump Country, Bernie Sanders Delegates Win Big” [Newsweek]. Summary of previous two stories, but note the headline (!).

MT-AL, GA-06: “DCCC sees ‘tough road’ in Montana, commits $2 million more to Georgia” [WaPo]. “Moments later, [DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján] announced that the DCCC was pouring $2 million more into Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, where Democrat Jon Ossoff is narrowly leading the most expensive House race in history. That investment, partially earmarked for African American voter turnout, will put the DCCC’s spending in Georgia 10 times higher than its spending in Montana… .The implication: It was not as tough in suburban Atlanta, where a poll this week showed Ossoff holding a comfortable lead for the first time since the race began. SurveyUSA, a pollster that relies on automated calls, found Ossoff up by 7 points ahead of the June 20 runoff, with a 31-point lead among self-identified independents.”

MT-AL: ” Republican Greg Gianforte’s closing motivational speech to voters ahead of Thursday’s special House election in Montana is the same thing GOP strategists are whispering in private: ‘This race is closer than it should be'” [Politico].

MT-AL: “The race has certainly tightened in the final weeks, with GOP polling showing a race in the low single digits. Privately, national Democrats are a bit more skeptical of the prospect of an upset — instead looking ahead to next month’s special election runoff in Georgia as their chance to send a shockwave through the political system” [NPR]. Electing a vacuous centrist who appeals to wealthy suburban Republicans will “send a shockwave through the political system.” Oh.

UPDATE MT-AL: “Overall, Quist has raised more than $6 million, an astonishing amount for Montana in such a short period, but the question is whether it is too much too late. Voting has been underway since mid-April, and by Wednesday more than 250,000 ballots — which could be well over half — had already been cast” [Los Angeles Times]. Man, I hate early voting; insurgents have enough roadblocks as it is. Election day should be a national holiday.

New Cold War

“Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years” [Circa]. (Circa is owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.) “The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community…. Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011… Officials “explained that NSA query compliance is largely maintained through a series of manual checks” and had not “included the proper limiters” to prevent unlawful searches, the NSA internal watchdog reported in a top secret report in January that was just declassified. A new system is being developed now, officials said.” What seems to be new about this story is that Circa has documents…

Hall of Mirrors

This is a wonderful story:

But it has a sting in the tail. Right now in the Beltway — and maybe not just right now, but for a long time — doesn’t “Any one of them could be working for Blofill” apply to just about any conversation imaginable?

Realignment and Legitimacy

I’ve seen a lot of post-2016 maps, but this is one of the most vivid (via Inverse Culture):

“The Future of War is in Cities – the Study of War Should Follow Suit” [Political Violence at a Glance]. “Urban warfare necessitates decentralized, fast-paced, small-unit operations. And junior commanders capable of operating independently are essential. Insofar as relaxing the rules of engagement allows junior officers to use initiative, adaptability, and judgement, entrusting them with more authority can improve military effectiveness. This, in turn, could help minimize both friendly military casualties and civilians casualties. Naturally, there are both benefits and risks involved in restricting or relaxing the rules of engagement. The point here is that assessing the advantages and limitations of each approach requires a careful analysis of the multifaceted challenges to military operations in complex urban environments.” Won’t drones solve this?

Stats Watch

Architecture Billings Index: “After beginning the year with a marginal decline, the Architecture Billings Index has posted three consecutive months of growth in design revenue at architecture firms. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending” [American Institute of Architects]. “‘Probably even better news for the construction outlook is that new project work coming into architecture firms has seen exceptionally strong growth so far this year,’ said AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, Hon. AIA, PhD. ‘In fact, new project activity has pushed up project backlogs at architecture firm to their highest level since the design market began its recovery earlier this decade.'”

Existing Home Sales, April 2017: “April was not a strong month for the housing sector as a disappointing 2.3 percent decline in existing home sales follows yesterday’s weakness in April new home sales and last week’s weakness for housing starts” [Econoday]. “April’s 5.570 million annualized rate for resales is still near recovery highs though the year-on-year rate reveals how moderate conditions are, up only 1.6 percent.” Best economy EVAH! And: “[A]ll confirming the sharp deceleration in mortgage loans” [Mosler Economics]. And: “This was a bad month for home sales which offsets last month’s gains. Even using the rolling averages, this was one of the worst three months in the last year. It is true that low priced inventory is almost non-existent which is the primary cause of the slowdown” [Econintersect]. And: “This was below the consensus expectations. For existing home sales, a key number is inventory – and inventory is still low” [Calculated Risk].

FHFA House Price Index, March 2017: “Home-price appreciation continues to hold near 6 percent with FHFA’s house price index just off 2-year highs at a yearly 6.2 percent. The monthly gain, at 0.6 percent, is slightly higher than expected” [Econoday]. “Demand for housing, based on home prices, is steady and firm.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of May 19, 2017: “[F]ell a seasonally adjusted 1 percent” [Econoday]. “The second weekly decline in purchase applications despite more attractive mortgage rates casts further doubts on the strength of the housing market, which opened the year strongly but may be slowing during the Spring selling season, as seen in the significant weakness shown yesterday’s new home sales report for April and housing starts reported last week.” And: “Not good” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “[T]he containerised trade [accounts for] for around 1687 million tonnes moved around the world in 177.6 million containers in 2015” [Shipping & Freight Resource]. “A lot of you might have never seen what the inside of a container looks like (whether empty or full) or the cargoes packed in it. Hence I thought it might help to show a few images of various cargoes packed in various container types.” Fun gallery!

Shipping: “Little more than 2 1/2 years from now, the global fleet of merchant ships will have to reduce drastically how much sulfur their engines belch into the atmosphere. While that will do good things — like diminishing the threat of acid rain and helping asthma sufferers — there’s a $60 billion sting in the tail” [Bloomberg]. “That’s how much more seaborne vessels may be forced to spend each year on higher-quality fuel to comply with new emission rules that start in 2020, consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. estimates. For an industry that hauls everything from oil to steel to coal, higher operating costs will compound the financial strain on cash-strapped ship owners, whose vessels earn an average of 70 percent less than they did just before the 2008-09 recession.”

Shipping: “Analysts foresee continued [domestic] dry barge oversupply, but liquids could grow again” [WorkBoat]. Good weather and river conditions make for larger “effective fleet size,” coal is down, oil shifts to pipelines.

Shipping: “Cargo pilots who fly for Amazon Prime Air picketed the e-commerce giant’s annual shareholder meeting yesterday to alert the company to a ‘looming pilot shortage’ as negotiations over new collective agreements continue” [Air Cargo News].

Retail: “Google Ties Online Search to Real-World Purchases” [247 Wall Street]. “Google has third-party partnerships that capture data on about 70% of all U.S. credit card transactions. Did you know that? Who are those third parties? Credit card issuers, banks, credit reporting agencies?… So Google can get data on 100 billion payment transactions every year and match those transactions to the ads it serves “in a secure and privacy-safe way, and only reported on aggregated and anonymized store sales to protect your customer data. [And] that promised anonymity is anything but… Google may intend and believe that its new ad tracking system is both anonymous and benign. That is at least an arguable position, and the argument should begin now.”

Retail: “Google Following Your Offline Credit Card Spending To Tell Advertisers If Their Ads Work” [Consumerist]. “The data won’t have your name attached, Google makes sure to point out. It’s anonymized and then hashed over, so what advertisers see is that user 08a862b091c379fe9767615d10873 saw these ten ads in the morning, and spent $27.73 at a certain grocery store that afternoon. That said, ‘anonymity’ is pretty much anything but.If anyone’s looking at your digital breadcrumbs, they can be reasonably sure you are you from shockingly little data. Studies have shown that it it only takes three pieces of data to identify you by credit card spending alone, or two to identify you from a social media app.”

Concentration: “A proposed merger of two trading houses could place an enormous amount of the world’s commodities under one roof. Glencore PLC has approached grain trader Bunge Ltd. about a takeover, in deal that would easily clear $10 billion and give the Swiss mining giant the major U.S. presence it has long sought. A tie-up would also help unlock the “frozen” grain market, where a glut of staple crops has farmers unwilling to sell at rock-bottom prices, and food processors won’t buy in advance because they expect prices to stay low” [Wall Street Journal]. “Consolidation would give the remaining players in the grain market more control over supply, potentially resulting in fewer and shorter gluts, and comes as other blockbuster mergers are being pursued in other corners of the agriculture sector, including pesticides and genetically engineered seeds.

The Bezzle: “Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc., one of the biggest subprime auto finance companies, verified income on just 8 percent of borrowers whose loans it recently bundled into $1 billion of bonds, according to Moody’s Investors Service” [Bloomberg]. Wait, this seems familiar…

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 52 Neutral (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 45 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 24 at 11:41am.

Our Famously Free Press

“By now we’ve all agreed the term “fake news” is unhelpful, but without an alternative, we’re left awkwardly using air quotes whenever we utter the phrase. … I would argue there are seven distinct types of problematic content that sit within our information ecosystem. They sit on a scale, one that loosely measures the intent to deceive” [First Draft]. Followed by a taxonomy.


“Dutch university contracts gave Shell influence over curriculum, students” [Climate Change News]. Ugly.

Health Care

“Senate GOP focused on killing Medicaid expansion” [The Hill]. A “work in progress.” Gridlock is our friend!

Class Warfare

“The Economics of Trust” [IMF (!) Blog]. “Trust in other people—the glue that holds society together—is increasingly in short supply in the United States and Europe, and inequality may be the culprit…. But does inequality reduce trust? There is evidence that it does, according to research by Eric D. Gould, a professor of economics at Hebrew University, and Alexander Hijzen, a senior economist at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. They analyzed data from the American National Election Survey from 1980 to 2010. The results show that wider income inequality explains 44 percent of the drop in trust. The authors, who reported their findings in an IMF working paper, found similar results in Europe (working papers do not represent the views of the IMF).


Does any of this matter? A substantial body of research shows that governments may be unable to find the support needed to solve pressing problems in a society that is divided and distrustful. Distrust also prevents policies from being implemented effectively. At the same time, there is growing evidence that trust promotes economic growth because people who trust each other are more likely to collaborate in trade, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Surprisingly, inequality doesn’t appear to spur greater demand for redistribution, the authors found. So policies that seek to restore trust by reducing market wage dispersion before taking into account taxes and benefits—raising the minimum wage or strengthening collective bargaining, for example—appear a more promising path.

Fun to read the above in combination with this–

“People in Western countries have been far too quick to throw centrist technocracy into the dustbin of history. Despite the deep wounds of the Great Recession and the 2008 financial crisis, developed countries have not seen their economies collapse. Employment languished for almost a decade, but it’s now recovering to pre-crash levels” [Noah Smith, Bloomberg]. Well, except for the thousands of excess “deaths from despair.” But it all averages out!

“Trucking And Blue-Collar Woes” [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. Put down your coffee, as Krugman evinces touching concern.

“The economy will take off for all of us, by Mr. Mulvaney’s rationale, when each able-bodied American embraces the civic duty to hold down a job. He and other conservative proponents of work requirements say the expectation is a fair one. If you want government help, you have to help yourself, by getting a job. And over time, those jobs would theoretically enable the poor to move off government assistance, shrinking the programs in the process” [New York Times].

“Why have no bankers gone to jail?” [History and Policy]. From 2013, still useful.

News of the Wired

“Can Plants Hear?” [Scientific American]. “[N]ew research suggests some flora may be capable of sensing sounds, such as the gurgle of water through a pipe or the buzzing of insects…. “[L]eaves turn out to be extremely sensitive vibration detectors.'” Amazing to imagine foliage as a sensorium.

“Introducing Travel Mode: Protect your data when crossing borders” [AgileBits]. This is a straightforward product pitch, not a post. OTOH, it sounds like a neat product. What do readers think of the pitch? Could it be legit?

* * *

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 (KH):

“Bromiliads gone wild.”

* * *

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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. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for the bonus antidote! I also enjoyed a few other videos you had involving the fox, and the cats.

  1. j84ustin

    A cartogram map is a much more accurate portrayal of an election result than the one above.

      1. PKMKII

        Is Trumpland going to invade the Clinton Archipelago? How are they going to tell the difference between the elitist liberals and the good capitalist job creators?

        1. clarky90

          The invasion is underway as we speak!

          POWERFUL: President Donald Trump Palestine Speech, Press Conference President Abbas,Bethlehem Speech


          If Donald Trump can bring Peace to the Middle East, I will beg my sons and daughters in laws to name the next Grandchild, “Donald” or “Ivanka”.

          I have longed for “World Peace” my entire adult life. Not, Peace in My Neighborhood, or Peace in NZ or Peace in the West- World Peace. everywhere

          I visited Afghanistan in 1972 on my hippy trail journey. What a relaxed, peaceful, atavistic and amazing place and people. Kandahar in 1972. Such precious memories…

        2. polecat

          That map must be in error … my little piece of the world is missing …

          … either that, or the Cascadia Fault Zone has finally ruptured, and I’ve be subducted !

        1. RabidGandhi

          Looks like a very ungranular population density map. The word “incredible” has officially lost all meaning.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I like the one above better.

      A cartogram resized according to vote will just show Hillary around 50% of the entire area, and Trump around 50%.

      The above shows that the more people were packed like sardines, the more likely they voted Hillary.

  2. nick

    In the Fading Trust chart, it looks like big drops (for “adjusted” trust) happened in ’80, 90-92, and through the 2000s. While I’m guessing the 2000s slide was because of the increase in surveillance as part of the War on Terror and general political decline, what explains the prior drops? There were recessions in those years. Not sure if it is economic or political or some combination.

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      Hard to say. Some combination of income inequality, re-proletarianization, crime, increased awareness of government and business perfidy, and countercultural atomization. Of course, I’m a big fan of the latter two values, so it’s not all bad.

    2. JP

      The chart was about trust in other people not trust in government. Trust has a lot of dimensions as anyone knows who has hired a “trusted” friend in their business. They may be loyal but can you trust their judgement. How about honesty? A person can be sincere but hopelessly biased simply because they are easily led. What drives divisions in society that lead to Stasi (current shit in Turkey) and the active sowing of distrust is another question.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      Reaganomics, or as we used to call them before they became orthodoxy for both parties (Thanks, Third Way Clintonite Scum!), Voodoo economics. I’ve been on both sides of the employee/employer divide. Reaganomics/TrickleDown/Supply Side debunked:

      If I own a business, you can cut my taxes in half and I will hire zero more employees. I don’t need them. I will simply keep the money.
      Pass a job guarantee or UBI and aggregate demand goes up, suddenly I’m giving raises and fighting my competitors for the best employees.

      This is not hard. What is hard is convincing the ruling class that they (and everyone else, but especially they) will be better off with a smaller % of a growing pie than a larger % of a stagnant or shrinking one.

      1789ish days likely ahead.

        1. redleg

          I’d love to start my own business but I need the employer health insurance, as it’s an order of magnitude cheaper/better than markets.
          Single payer passes and I quit that same morning to start my thing.

        2. UserFriendly

          Who the hell could afford to start a business while drowning in student debt? For that matter, why on earth would I want to do anything that would be good for this shit hole of a country? Screw this whole rigged system that does nothing but cause pain and hurt.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Also reform the H1B and other visa programs.

        Demand goes up, from people having more money to spend.

        Supply goes down – no more abused/exploited workers from abroad.

      2. John k

        There are those happier with a bigger divide between them and have nots even if they would do better with less inequality. Seemingly nonsensical even when assuming a total lack of empathy.
        My evidence is a billionaire hedgy in first class saying he wished all his friends were in coach.

  3. Deadl E Cheese

    DNC reports worst April of fundraising since 2009

    One of the interesting things about Carter/Hoover/Pierce-Buchanan/Q. Adams-style regime disjunctions isn’t that the defeated regime goes down in flames with its figurehead of failure — in the process of the collapse, it’s the opposition party that gets destroyed or remade, not the people who were in charge during the disjunction.

    My hypothesis is that a Jackson/Lincoln/FDR/Reagan-style reconstruction can’t happen unless both the prevailing regime and, more crucially, the opposition regime isn’t just viewed as incompetent but impotent. Decades of accommodating themselves to the dominant strength of the prevailing regime gives the opposition regime the taint of weakness, too. Donald Trump is a hated, worthless, and above-all WEAK leader who is leading this country to ruin. And what’s more, the Democratic Party lost to him.

    My further hypothesis states that you should expect to see the DNC and DCCC continue to post bad numbers and rates of returns (Ossiff looks like he’s going to win in a squeaker despite having an edge of millions of dollars, in a damn House race) despite anti-Trumpists only loosely affiliated with the Democratic establishment showing surprising strength.

    My final hypothesis is that whatever coalition this anti-Trump regime is taking (though it’s looking to be like a revival of the McGovern-ish New Left 2.0, but with more class conflict) a lot of liberal elites are going to decide that the Reagan Republicans they slandered and resented over the decades weren’t so bad. Expect the Kleins and Koses and Maddows and Krugmans who fancy themselves #TheResistance to flip out when socialism, anarchism, and even communism become badges of pride and they’re increasingly viewed as not only anachronistic sellouts but little better than the Cottons and Trumps and Cruz.

  4. Big River Bandido

    As a member of AFT (American Federation of Teachers), I received a hair-on-fire email last night from none other than Randi Weingarten, president of the national union, about the damage to be done by Trump’s education budget and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.


    1) Even as an AFT member, I never had an opportunity to vote for the national union president;

    2) Even as an AFT member I never had an opportunity to weigh in on the national union’s choice to endorse a candidate for President of the US in 2015 (before the campaign had even started);

    3) The leaked Podesta emails implicated Weingarten in colluding with the Clinton campaign and DNC to subvert the democratic process by rigging the nomination in favor of an anti-progressive candidate and the worst Democrat candidate to run for President in 30 years; and

    4) Those same emails showed Weingarten making a mockery of the concept of “solidarity” by promising to “go after” the National Nurses Union post-election for their support of Sanders in the primary;

    I unsubscribed to the union’s “action alerts” immediately upon receiving the email, as I have no desire to help an organization that views the democratic process as a sham. And I give thanks that Weingarten has lost her precious access.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > by promising to “go after” the National Nurses Union post-election for their support of Sanders

      Do you have a copy of that mail? It would be interesting to see…

  5. craazyboy

    “[N]ew research suggests some flora may be capable of sensing sounds,

    Plants can hear great! Wadda if you had 4 inch ear drums? The Buckethead lullaby, “Soothsayer”, went Platinum in the Plant Kingdom.

    Also, don’t trust anyone over 30.

    On the imports discussion…Congress is full of binary brains. One AA battery can get them all to flip the wrong direction in one nanosecond.

    It would be easy to figure a list of low cost consumer items to exclude, because say, increased prices would be a burden on poor folks.

    Truth be told, it is unlikely many of these products will ever return to US production. They have already converted entire Asian countries into factories to supply the whole world. Huge scale of economy. Likewise they could automate further to reduce prices more – like compensate for lower direct demand due to import duties.

    Then some things, like CA almonds, should be grown in the Amazon Rain Forest.

    1. Synoia

      Google announces new Google Plant Gene, designed to provide Google data on the Plant’s health and its Environment.

      Alexa, “Tell you Plants to Stop listening to me.”

      Wikipedia releases documentation on new NSA Plant Intelligent Surveillance System.

  6. LT

    Re: Bloomberg – Trump Admin Budget

    “Central bankers would have more to worry about if they have to lift rates higher than they expect and are forced to pay more on excess reserves than they’re earning…”

    Sounds like “Oh, please, don’t let us have to raise interest rates for the savers…”

  7. relstprof

    “Oh well,” writes Krugman. That about sums up the Clintonite view of things. In a sane world, we’d be reading Mark Blyth weekly.

    1. RabidGandhi

      It was surprisingly refreshing to see some decent comments pushing back at Operative K, eg:

      pieceofcake not in Machu Picchu anymore 10 hours ago
      And the great majority of the people whose chance at a middle-class life was destroyed by those political changes probably voted for Trump.

      Because Trump pretended that he cared for these people.
      That he and NOT US – Liberals and Progressives was their voice.

      How could that happened?
      Why weren’t YOU the voice of these truckers?

      Oh well…?

  8. oho

    >>I’ve seen a lot of post-2016 maps, but this is one of the most vivid (via Inverse Culture):

    The US has always been polarized between the city mouse and country mouse—ever since the Constitutional Convention. Hence the “Great Compromise”

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      Unimaginable that a group of syphilitic, slave-owning backbiters known as the Founding Fathers were, with the very arguable exception of Hamilton (who at least had the decency to be assclown in a different way from the Washington and Jefferson set) completely unable to divine the shifting of population demographics a mere few decades into the future, let alone centuries.

      If I, a time-traveler, could go back in time and add one thing to the Constitution it’d be a clause that would force the dissolution of the Constitution and require a new one to be drafted no later then 100 years after its ratification.

      1. Carolinian

        syphilitic, slave-owning backbiters known as the Founding Fathers

        Guess you told them.

        And I believe the syphilitic Jefferson did say something about the tree of liberty being periodically refreshed by the blood of tyrants so he may have had a better crystal ball than you think.

        1. Deadl E Cheese

          Jefferson did say something about the tree of liberty being periodically refreshed by the blood of tyrants

          Unless he was planning to Gunpowder Plot 2.0 Congress after he got elected, he and the rest of his syphilitic slaveowneing buddies were full of it.

          so he may have had a better crystal ball than you think.

          The fact that the judicial branch, by far the aspect of government they paid the least attention to, simultaneously also works the best suggests otherwise.

          1. Carolinian

            Would that be the judiciary that declared corporations to be people and gave us Citizens United?

          2. Fiery Hunt

            Damn…somebody’s got a serious axe to grind.
            That’s an awful lot of bitterness toward guys long dead.

            Those same “syphilitic, slave-owning backbiters known as the Founding Fathers” did manage to write one of the greatest governing documents in all of human history. It wasn’t perfect but it is the articulation of so much that is great about this country. And it’s failures are fixable. Not easily but fixable.

            1. witters

              That be the document that did all it could (“Republicanism”) to make sure democracy didn’t take control? And it is fixable!

            2. PhilM

              Also, despite their alleged sufferings from tabes, they were all perfectly aware that republics had always been fragile, vulnerable, transitory, and subject to destruction by faction (now known as party).

              I pointed out in an earlier forum how successful the republic was, and received a comment that it failed only eighty or ninety years after being founded. The irony! That was probably longer than most of the Founders expected it to last, as constituted.

              Republican governments let their people flourish, do not attempt conquest but may achieve it in self-defense, and above all, leave everybody alone, both their people, and peoples abroad. Imperial governments conquer for fun and profit abroad, and oppress their people for fun and profit at home.

              It’s kind of a hobby horse of mine to realize, in ripe old age, that national borders don’t really mean much to national governments. It was reading Waugh’s lovely book Helena that somehow brought it home. Those ambitious and greedy men see everything as a target for their own gain; there really is no such thing as the “national interest,” or if there is, it is not that of the people.

              It is so sad that a place as naturally defensible as the United States followed the imperial trail, perhaps as early as the Mexican-American War. But even excluding that as a “conquest of opportunity,” like many of the Roman Republic’s early adventures, the Civil War brought an end to the government as it had been constituted by the Founders. Most of their descendants fought fiercely for the south, knowing that the principles of the constitution were finished if the freedom of association of the states was not assured. Nothing after that really had anything to do with the republic that the Founders had in mind; it was all imperial in nature.

              The personal attacks on the Founders are the bitter childish cries of small minds or of provocateurs, posted for money or for spite. There is no founder of a political order who is without vice, personal or social, even in his own times; and if there were such a saintly one, then another era would inevitably find the virtue of his times to be vicious in their own.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > the Civil War brought an end to the government as it had been constituted by the Founders

                And rightly, if the/given that “the government” was founded on slavery. (One reading of the Federalist Papers is that it was designed to prevent civil war; whenever you read interest, faction, or property you should remember that property in human beings was an assumption.)

                1. PhilM

                  Nonsense. The US government was not “founded on slavery.” If a government can be said to have been “founded on” anything, which it really can’t without greater specificity, then the US government was founded on the most radical principles of human rights making the rounds at the time, despite slavery.

            3. UserFriendly

              What is great about this country? Not one damn thing as far as I see. This is one misserable shit hole that does nothing but cause pain and suffering around the world and at home.

              1. alex morfesis

                yup…that horrific concept known as america…this crazy experiment in “demokrati”…because all the humble loving kings and chieftains of the world back then were so wondrous and honest and fair…you know, like first nights…pfffftttt….

              2. Mark P.

                ‘What is great about this country?’

                Hammond organs. Barbecue sauce. Saul Bellow. Philip K. Dick.

                There are American contributions to civilization. There’ve been others — the Apollo project was pretty cool in its time.

          3. Indrid Cold

            Maybe you’d prefer they hadn’t left the tender embrace of England – UK politics is so much more enlightened after all

        1. Deadl E Cheese

          I’m aware that Hamilton is a reactionary aristocrat who is a big reason why the executive branch is the world’s biggest enabler of authoritarianism.

          I’m just saying that he was garbage in a different way. Imagine being force-fed twenty sandwiches full of human waste. However, imagine if sandwich number 21 was, instead of a nightsoil sub, an Amanita mushroom burger that was detoxified just enough so that you wouldn’t instantly die.

          Yes, it sucks. In fact it sucks more than the previous 20 sandwiches. But you can’t deny that it’s DIFFERENT. His hyper-Tory, First National Bank Rulez J00 vision for America was stupid and authoritarian and immiserating, but at least it wasn’t that of a bucolic rape camp built atop of AmerIndian graves. That’s how I feel about Hamilton.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Wow that’s some kinda powerful hyperbole cannon you’re shootin’ there today.

            I would take the moral compasses of Jackson and Jefferson anyday over the soulless anti-humanity-I-got-mine-so-die-motherf*cker morality we get today from Bezos and Blankfein to Trump, Pelosi, Schumer and all the rest

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Even excluding Hamilton, seeing history in that light, we are being awfully selective in persecuting monuments.

            We shouldn’t just pick on the mayor of New Orleans in that case.

            1. PhilM

              I understand there are several cultural movements in the Middle East that have their own selection process for what is acceptable public art and architecture. If only we could send our own vandals to assist them.

        1. PhilM

          I think it may be a mistake to feed the troll. Deadl might have had a bit too much of something himself before he started posting today. I have been there and done that here myself, before I came to my current state of blissful resignation.

        2. Carolinian

          This came out of the Cheese guy’s posterior presumably although not impossible. What we do know is that Jefferson lived to 83, Franklin 84. However Washington only made it to 67–clearly a victim of the Great Pox.

        3. polecat

          Well, that’s what was implied when I was forced to

          watch those boring health-ed flicks on

          venereal diseases back in high school in the 70’s … illustrations and portraits of the founding fathers wearing neck scarfs and all that !
          Made my eyes roll ….

      2. edr

        I guess people from all over the world want to move to the U.S. because they did such a bad job…

        1. JTMcPhee

          No, they migrated/invaded here because of the looting opportunities. Or were “imported” in ships where they were packed belowdecks, for profit and all that. And “From the halls of Montezuma/To the shores of Tripoli…” And then killed and stole and lied and cheated their way across a continent and then outward from there.

          Spare the ideology and shibboleths. They did to fit the reality then and sure as hell don;t fit it now.

    2. a different chris

      Methinks everybody is missing it: the Nation didn’t quite meet the founder’s principals, but it came pretty close: It didn’t give landowners the franchise, but it basically gave land the franchise. Prairie dogs don’t vote, like they said, but the land itself apparently puts a very heavy hand on the scale.

      Not only is the Senate originally ridiculous with 2 guys from Idaho and 2 from California, 2 guys from Vermont and 2 from New York, but…. now we’ve actually managed go beyond the Founders and require the assent of 60 Senators to do anything important. So those 2 guys from Idaho have so much negative power it would be comical if it wasn’t so sad.

      Sixty Senators, when the politically right side of the chamber already has more Senators with less votes behind them than the left(ish) side.

      Time for a Parliamentary system.

      1. PhilM

        The Senate is nothing like what the Founders designed. It was a deliberative body of men, chosen by indirect election, to be composed of the finest of their kind: senior people of great reputation in their communities; people above politics but not unwilling to serve the res publica; people intentionally not subject to the popular will of the moment.

        I agree that a parliamentary system is better suited to the changed scale and demographics of the nation, but I would go further: I believe there are at least six distinct nations within the US borders now. I would suggest six regional sovereign powers, each with its own shared laws reflecting its regional values and peoples, in a trade federation like the EU. None individually would be capable of world imperialism, but together, they would be invincible in defence. Don’t want abortion? Move to the New South. Want a strong middle class and cultural life? Move to New England. Want crystals and breast implants? Go West, young woman. And so forth.

  9. cocomaan

    I love how Krugman eventually manages to bring Trump into the discussion of truckers.

    Forget that he doesn’t have any data to support an assertion that truckers “probably voted for Trump”.

    For christ’s sake, his chart has the real decline in wages starting in 1978! What the hell does that have to do with Trump?

    1. Deadl E Cheese

      Truckers are disproportionately nonwhite, much like the American working class is. Paul Krugman’s point can be discarded without looking at it too hard.

      Clinton liberals LOVE pretending that what was true or at least truthy enough to buttress their commonsense stereotypes when they were teens/young adults is true for all time. It’s one of the most insufferable things about them, talking to people whose minds are permanently stuck in the quantum strata of 1972, 1980, or 1994. And no other years.

      For christ’s sake, his chart has the real decline in wages starting in 1978! What the hell does that have to do with Trump?

      If the Clinton liberals started blaming the upper-middle class championing Atari Democrats for societal decline instead of dumping all of the blame on Reagan Democrats, they would instantly lose all of their funding and talent base.

      1. PKMKII

        Clinton liberals LOVE pretending that what was true or at least truthy enough to buttress their commonsense stereotypes when they were teens/young adults is true for all time.

        Hence why they think Russophobia will play big with the electorate.

      2. Pete

        I drove a truck for three years and my experience was that truckers are overwhelmingly white. Also it was an extremely conservative environment regardless of race.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Truckers are disproportionately nonwhite

        Evidence, since others’ anecdotes disagree? Could this be regional? Or even differ by the trucking business (e.g., if the kind of driving you can do depends on your credit rating)?

    2. jrs

      isn’t there some competition from foreigners even in trucking? I’m not so much saying people sneak in illegally to become truckers (maybe they do, but I don’t really know), bur more don’t we have Mexican trucks also making U.S. long haul trips entirely legally?


      “The Teamsters, for one, did not want Mexican trucks doing business here. Union leaders argued their entry would cost jobs for American truckers. Also, some environmentalists fretted about Mexican trucks causing pollution. Others worried about the safety of the trucks.”

      1. jrs

        Or see:

        So Krugman is a little too quick on:
        “Why? This is neither a trade nor a technology story. We’re not importing Chinese trucking services; robot truck drivers are a possible future, but not here yet.”

        It is true trade may not be a very big factor, and yes decline in unions might, and overall (not just in trucking) far more jobs are lost to globalization than immigration, but sweeping statements without data don’t really convince anyone. Oh well.

        1. cocomaan

          Interesting on the NAFTA implications.

          OH WELL, I guess actually looking into the issue beyond a single chart overlaid with assumptions and hackery is too much to ask. OH WELL!

      2. pete

        The interesting thing about getting a CDL is that you are supposed to be able to read and write in English and presumably speak it. I have run into a number of foreign truckers that really cant speak English at all. So, I cant say they are here illegally but I can say that something fishy seems to have happened with getting their license.

        1. todde

          We.put one of our governors in Illinois in prison for something fishy with the license procurement.

          The bribe went right into his campaign fund.

          He was caught when the guy who couldn’t speak a word of English plowed his truck into a family of four.

    3. Roger Smith

      And the great majority of the people whose chance at a middle-class life was destroyed by those political changes probably voted for Trump. Oh well.

      This entire block is completely out of place and irrelevant to what he actually talks about in the rest of the article. He clearly started with a premise in mind (Trump voters are idiots), then came up with something he could pass off to editors for his paycheck.

      What the hell is this fool’s problem? When did Clinton say she was going to save the unions? Did I miss that during her 2nd visit to Wisconsin speech? What about all the other, non-truck drivers if we are going to be this broad in the conclusion? Krugman really gets under my skin, that callous, pathetic toad. I wish I could vote for his never ending misery.

        1. Pat

          Sometimes I wonder if some of our most prominent labor “leaders” remember that little detail. (Weingarten, Trumka, etc) Mind you I am pretty sure that a long history of such leadership is a big reason for decline of unions. They have been a big help to those wanting to bury unions.

    4. darthbobber

      Teamsters supported team Donkey in this one, and there are one or two truck drivers among our membership.

      CORE Trump supporters are more affluent than the average Joe or Jill, but they look and talk too much like Krugman for it to be them.

  10. Off The Street

    Sense and sensibility come to the plant world: imagine the hackability of house plants! Or will the discoveries branch out to surveillance and marketing opportunities? I may not look at that philodendron the same way ever again.

    1. cocomaan

      I always talk to my plants to make sure they don’t hold any hard feelings. Now that I know they can hear me, it’s even more important.

      Look, I’ve read Day of the Triffids. I’m not taking any chances.

  11. Antoine LeBear

    Re: Fake News (First Draft)
    It’s just astonishing how she fails to even mention that “Fake news” is not at all a new concept and that all the categories she’s “discovering” existed since… the printing press? The medieval shouting newsbearers? Jeez, she really make it like she discovered lukewarm water and is enlightening the world.
    The only recent novelty is the possibility to micro-target based on Facebook’s segregation and mass-campaigning being made accessible to everybody. And tweeter bots.
    The only good thing that can come of the awareness that news can be fake is that well… news can be fake. Including when disseminated by the NYTimes.
    She also rightly notes that we trust a post by a friend more than a stranger, but she should add we trust a post by a well established news site more too.

    All in all she entirely ignores huge examples like the Iraq war buildup and focuses on supposedly russian bots electing Trump. And the article is very short (but oooh nice icons for the categories) and napkin-designed.

    1. darthbobber

      Yes, the first thing that jumped out at me was that a good many categories in her taxonomy have been staples for both traditional news organizations and politicos for longer than I have been alive. The complaint seems to be that the guild monopoly is endangered.

  12. allan

    Put down your coffee, as Krugman evinces touching concern.

    Harsh. From 1996:

    …There are a number of reasons for the decline of organized labor: the shift from manufacturing to services and from blue-collar to white-collar work, growing international competition, and deregulation. But these factors can’t explain the extent or the suddenness of labor’s decline.

    The best explanation seems to be that the union movement fell below critical mass. Unions are good for unions: In a nation with a powerful labor movement, workers have a sense of solidarity, one union can support another during a strike, and politicians take union interests seriously. America’s union movement just got too small, and it imploded.

    We should not idealize the unions. When they played a powerful role in America, they often did so to bad effect. Occasionally they were corrupt, often they extracted higher wages at the consumer’s expense, sometimes they opposed new technologies and enforced inefficient practices. But unions helped keep us a middle-class society—not only because they forced greater equality within companies, but because they provided a counterweight to the power of wealthy individuals and corporations. The loss of that counterweight is clearly bad for society.

    The point is that a major force that kept America a more or less unified society went into a tailspin. Our whole society is now well into a similar downward spiral, in which growing inequality creates the political and economic conditions that lead to even more inequality. …

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      If you are trying to demonstrate that Krugman has always had sympathy for the union working person, this is not enough. (And this isn’t even really very good.) I was at the UAW when he called us protectionist know-nothings who a) selfishly didn’t want what was best for the country (free trade) and 2) didn’t know what we were talking about when we argued that inequality was increasing and free trade was a major driver. And, no, he never apologized (or admitted he was wrong).

  13. aliteralmind

    Regarding AgileBirs’ travel mode: I have no personal need for it, but the feature seems legit. AgileBits as a company has never been anything but solid with their information in my experience. I’ve been using their 1Password for a few years now, which automatically syncs insanely secure passwords between my iPhone, iPad, and Windows computer. It does so pretty much flawlessly.

    My former career was as a computer programmer.

    P.S. I have just sent Yves a test email. I have a suspicion that she’s not receiving my emails anymore. Please do me a favor and pass this message to her, that if she does NOT receive that email, to consider checking if they are perhaps being marked as spam. Thanks.

    1. UserFriendly

      usually her spam bot bounces back things when it marks them as spam… that said she does get a heck of a lot of email and I can’t imagine how she gets to all of it.

  14. Jim Haygood

    Brazil goes Venezuela:

    Protesters in Brasilia set fire to a ministry building on Wednesday afternoon, as tens of thousands gathered outside Congress to demand the removal of President Michel Temer.

    Amid frequent clashes with police, demonstrators mobilized by Brazil’s main labor unions broke into several ministries, causing widespread damage and setting fire to the agriculture ministry, according to GloboNews. All ministry buildings were subsequently evacuated and civil servants sent home.


    Tends to rile folks up when a defiant crook barricades himself in office.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The oligarchs are breaking ranks in Brazil and turning on each other. Batista is singing like a canary (referenced in today’s links) and the Lava Jato scandal is still pulling in more of the political and business elite.

      Temer is clearly untenable as president, but with so many tarnished elites, it’s hard to know what comes next.

      Lula still looks like the front-runner, but he’s considered so unacceptable to the right that it’s hard to see any semblance of stability if he wins in 2018.

        1. RabidGandhi

          This is a hugely important point.

          The mass mobilisations are overwhelmingly full of signs reading “Diretas Já!” (“direct elections now!” in clear reference to the protests in 1983-84 that ultimately brought down the dictatorship). This is because while most of Temer’s allies have indeed abandoned him– including notably the O Globo media monopoly– these right wing allies are still hoping to prevent direct presidential elections that would according to all polls be easily won by Lula. Not only is Lula still the country’s most popular politician, but Temer is already barred from running, and the Oligarchs’ bench is being quickly evacuated by the Lava Jato mega-investigation. And most importantly, a return of Lula/PT would endanger the “Bridge to the Future” austerity plan hastily being implemented by the Temer government.

          This means that there is a major rush to try to get Lava Jato judge Sergio Moro to find some kind of evidence that could bar Lula from standing for election as well, but thus far Moro has come up completely empty.

          Thus the masses are clamouring for direct elections now, while the right wing wants to have a new president selected by congress and have Lula prevented from running.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Paraphrasing Lambert…..”when you’re a right-wing oligarch following the script to the letter and you’ve STILL lost Globo…”

            In my view, the oligarchs need to just make their peace with Lula. It’s not like he’s anything close to Hugo Chavez…although, you never quite know the 2nd time around, he doesn’t owe them ANYTHING at this point, but he happily cut deals with them during his time as president.

            1. RabidGandhi

              Chávez clearly took a turn to the anti-yanqui left after the 2002 coup.

              Then again, Perón’s time in exile transformed him from an anti-capitalist standard bearer into an anti-communist crusader, so who knows what Lula might do.

  15. Jim Haygood

    Today saw a new record high of 2404 in the S&P 500 large-cap index, and a record close for the Nasdaq 100 glamour stock index (42% of whose weight is made up of the Five Horsemen).

    Among the tech equestrians, Alphabet and Amazon registered record highs.

  16. a different chris

    >This, in turn, could help minimize both friendly military casualties and civilians casualties.

    It could also maximize them. There is a reason they are called “junior” officers. God this stuff makes me sick.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It puzzles me to hear politicians courting younger voters, when we don’t hear (and we are not manipulated to get excited) about older voters being courted.

      “He spoke to a not-as-energetic-as-when-they-were-young stadium-ful of seniors. They can no longer jump as high, shout as loudly, as they could once. And without ear-shattering rock music, it was pretty quite. The deafening silence accentuated the point – it was hard for them to get out of bed, much less to go to a rally. Today, old people are more desperate than ever before, and in more dire shape than other age groups. They don’t even have the time nor energy to ‘re-train’ themselves for new jobs.”

      But they have been fooled before, and perhaps less likely to be fooled again, unlike many younger voters. Also, new citizens from other countries are not too familiar with past letdowns.

      Why bother with attracting older voters, given all that? Especially, for the same money to get a new voter, a younger one has more voting years ahead. The old guy might not even make it to November.

      1. LT

        It’s easier to go after the younger ones because those “old promises” still sound “New” to them.

      2. UserFriendly

        Are you seriously suggesting that there is any country in the world that doesn’t favor the old dramatically more than the young in just about every way possible? Wow. Wake up. Education costs alone have done nothing but go from free to debt slave for life. They actually keep their promise to not touch social security and medicare, while the young that might need EBT or medicaid are being told “go find a job that doesn’t exist or just die in the street.”

  17. Gumbo

    Krugman’s last sentence “And the great majority of the people whose chance at a middle-class life was destroyed by those political changes probably voted for Trump. Oh well.” left me scratching my head on how to interpret it.

    Does he see that they might have cause or does he miss it?

    1. Pat

      Just in case that wasn’t a rhetorical question, let me say that considering his hypocrisy, lying and outright stupidity during the primary up to and beyond the election, he missed it. It may have been the idea of a different job with Clinton or true passion for her, but suffice it to say if Clinton really couldn’t understand the anger, Krugman was not going to be the person explaining it to her. His bubble seems to be even larger and far less understandable than hers, he could have interacted with working people beyond giving them his coffee order.

      1. Gumbo

        It wasn’t rhetorical. The first sentence had me leaning one way, but the “Oh well” seemed to push the other. Or maybe not depending on what he holds as self evident.

        I’m leaning you way, with a sense of disbelief that he doesn’t see it.

  18. hunkerdown

    Hundreds of thousands of automated anti-net-neutrality comments…. Fight For the Future, who doesn’t seem to have fallen off the turnip truck yesterday, alleges that Comcast has been submitting those comments using its own customers’ names, quite possibly without consent. https://www.comcastroturf.com/

  19. The Rev Kev

    Absolutely ‘loved’ the New York Times article on work requirements. The total ignorance of that fact that America’s biggest export for the past thirty years has been working-class jobs doesn’t even come into their level of awareness. And just where, pray tell, are these entry level jobs suppose to come from may one ask?
    Could this sheer ignorance of conditions in the majority of America account for the New York Times and the like being so badly blindsided last November? Pity the poor buggers who will have to find non-existent jobs or lose their food stamps. This reminds me of a poem that I read decades ago by Ernest Hemingway that went like this-

    “The Age demanded that we dance,
    and jammed us into iron pants.
    And in the end the Age was handed,
    the kind of s— that it demanded.”

  20. Pat

    Those two maps regarding the election should be a huge wake up call for anyone who looks at them. Mind you most of the “liberals” who look at it will just be amazed that most Americans live in such a small area, without wondering how those small areas got so isolated from the majority of the country as far as area. (Or getting that it wasn’t really most Americans who voted for Clinton if you add third parties and the almost half of America who stayed home.)

  21. allan

    Greg Gianforte, the GOP millionaire running in MT-AL, goes thug on a journalist. On audio.
    Hopefully this will jumpstart the conversation about mental health coverage that we need to be having.

    It’s too bad about all that early voting.

    1. montanamaven

      Quist has been hammering Gianforte on his embrace of the house health care plan and throwing people with preexisting conditions out of coverage. the GUardian reporter asked him about that and Gianforte became agitated and allegedly body slammed the reporter and broke his glasses. now this could be looked at as defending montanans against snooty british interlopers or as another stupid move by a billionaire carpetbagger. time will tell. tomorrow is the election.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It occurred to me that Gianforte might actually gain votes for assaulting a reporter. It’s not “Montana nice,” but is there such a thing as Montana nice?

        1. Mark Anderlik

          Gianforte has been cited for misdemeanor assault. No question he will lose lots of votes in my opinion. The business press has already withdrawn their ill-advised endorsements of him. I know Republicans who were not going to vote for him before this violence. There remains enough of the Montana nice to make a difference.

        2. Mark Anderlik

          The Gallatin County Sheriff who cited Gianforte for misdemeanor assault reportedly is a donor to his campaign. I believe this will lose Gianforte a lot of votes as there remains enough “Montana nice” to make a difference. I know several Republicans who were not going to vote for Gianforte before his violent outburst. That he was caught telling Montanans one thing about repealing Obamacare, and privately telling wealthy donors another has not played well here. Thousands turned out for Quist at rallies this weekend with Bernie Sanders. Only 1/3 of Montanans (myself included) have voted early. That leaves a lot of room for late changing voters. Independents have always been the plurality in Montana – around 40% of the electorate, with 30% solidly for each party. This will be interesting no matter the result.

    2. alex morfesis

      gianforte tried to twist it claiming reporter and he just fell down together…but fox…yes fox, just blasted him as reporter alicia acuna pointed out rather graphically how gianforte grabbed the guardian reporter by the neck, slammed him to the ground, got on top of him, held him down and began punching him…

      but there were no charges pressed even though the sheriff deputies were told of the events by the fox reporter…

      so will the folks in montana do the american thing and vote quist or will they make america the laughing stock of the world since it does not appear gianforte is man enough to remove himself from the race…

        1. skippy

          Scanlon later issued a statement saying that Jacobs “entered the [campaign] office without permission, aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face, and began asking badgering questions.”

          Later, the statement added, “After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg’s wrist, and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It’s unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ.”

      1. Pat

        Apparently the witnesses from Fox were too much for the Gianforte supporting sheriff, or the DA is smarter. Charges for misdemeanor asault are being issued according to ABC, the NY Times etc

  22. JTMcPhee

    “The Future Of War Is In Cities.” Anybody else read that bit? Anyone else bothered by the likelihood that what’s already happening in so many rubble-ized places where industry and civilization have brought things? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vUtZ2hf-whU

    The “vision” of that “management ” of such chaos is just bullsh!t. But hey, we got people all over the planet who play the real and “Call of Duty” idiocy, who get off on it and are all trained up on maneuver-and-fire and the fun of pink-misting the “enemy.”

    THat’s the stuff that’s really happening, while we come up with more interesting ways to castigate Krugman. Among other fun things.

  23. Oregoncharles

    ““The Economics of Trust” [IMF (!) Blog]” A personal note: my father, an investment manage who retired in the 80’s, once commented that a culture of honesty was worth a great deal of money. (it’s worth mentioning here that he operated in a pretty goody-two-shoes environment.) Essentially, constantly checking up on counterparties and watching employes gets very costly, and certain kinds of investment become almost impossible.

    Corruption is like throwing sand in the gears of the economy. Of course, “trust” is just the other side of that coin. All this might be just another way of saying we’re slipping into the 3rd World – or better, that it’s seeping into our own, previously privileged society.

    1. knowbuddhau

      >>Seeping into our own, previously privileged society.

      Third World isn’t a place, it’s a power relationship. Is it that impersonal corruption is osmotically, by physical laws, seeping into a once pure area? Or is it that the people whose avaricious, greedy, and all-around selfish intentions have been materializing impoverished realities for centuries, if not millenia (inequality was also a problem in the Bronze Age), are now so blatantly coming for us “previously privileged” middle class white folks that we can’t help but notice?

      CORNEL WEST: We shall see, my dear sister. We shall see. But I’ll have some comrades with Nader. I’ll have some comrades in the Green party. By comrades, I mean political comrades. For me, everybody’s brothers and sisters; we gonna be the colorful light of the terrestrial world, one day; so that’s all of us. The last moment for me is what I call the American interpretation of the tragic-comic, which is for me the most profound disposition of a Democrat that shatters all Manichean views of us versus them, melodramatic narratives of victims who have a purity and victimizers who have an impurity, and somehow want to elevate one slice of humanity above the mess, to use Beckett’s term in which we find ourselves. And what is the great American interpretation of the tragic comic? It’s the blues. The blues. Robert Johnson, Leroy Carr and Betsy Smith and Ma Rainey. And there’s no way that America can deal with its darkest moment in the history, with the exception of the civil war, of its fragile and precious democratic experiment, without wrestling with the blues. Since 9/11, America has had the blues. First time in the history of the nation all Americans feel: unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence and hated. Vast numbers of white American citizens don’t know what to do because they never been hated. They never been unsafe. Never been unprotected. Never been subject to random violence. Well, you know what? To be a nigger in America for 400 years is to be unsafe, unprotected, subject to random violence and hated. So now, America’s niggerized. Got the blues. What can a blues nation learn from a blues people who have had to be both victims of American democracy, but also sing the odes to democratic individuality and community in society, be it a Billy Holiday on the one hand, or be it a Martin King on the other. What did Emo Teal’s mother have to say in the face of American terrorism, when her baby was lying in the coffin, his head five times the size of his ordinary head? I don’t have a minute to hate, I’ll pursue justice for the rest of my life. That is a level of spiritual maturity and moral depth that has to do with how you sustain a democracy. If the dominant response of black people to American terrorism was the response of the Bush administration, hunt ’em down no matter what, there’d have been a civil war every generation in this nation. Maybe, in fact, we’ve reached the point now where America cannot make it into the future unless it becomes a wholesale imperial project completely eliminating any of its substantive democratic substance without main stream Americans trying to learn from the best of people of African dissent—not just as exotic objects, or sources of amusement, but as integral voices in a rich, multi racial tradition of voices: black, white, red, yellow, across the board. And in this way, the issue of race and empire has everything to do with whether we actually lose or preserve this fragile experiment in democracy called the United States. And this is in part what the Tikkun community is all about with our multiplicity of voices, like a jazz group. We aren’t looking for unanimity. We don’t believe in that. We believe in individuality expressed with integrity in such a way that the overlap of our voices constitute a collective performance that accents an ideal bigger than all of us. How wonderful this community is. That’s what we are about. Thank you all very much. (applause).


  24. nobody

    On trust and its decline, there was a piece at Cracked last November about “6 Reasons Why A New Civil War Is Possible And Terrifying.” The decline of trust in American society is the first of the six reasons discussed. The segment is subtitled “The Beginning Looks A Lot Like Where We Are Right Now” and begins with charts showing the results of survey data in response to the statement “most people can be trusted” in 1972 vs 2012. It continues with:

    “Trust” isn’t just an intangible concept when we’re talking about the potential for civil warfare. Sinisa Malesevic is a professor who studies the sociology of civil wars and a survivor of the Yugoslavian civil war. He’s someone Marvel really should’ve reached out to for script advice, and he noted the breakdown of trust was one of the first traumatizing steps to war, “… in a very short period of time, there is a complete sense of fear, you do not know who is who, who is supporting which side … that fear spreads.”

    Sinisa also pointed out that most civil wars start after a loss of trust in the government, particularly law enforcement…

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