2:00PM Water Cooler 5/25/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



“Republican lawmakers are lining up in opposition to big portions of President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget, which was unveiled this week. Some Republicans in the House and Senate say cuts to certain programs go too far. Even increased spending to typical Republican priorities like defense drew criticism for falling short” [Blooomberg].


MT-AL: “Montana’s wild special election: 6 things to watch” [Politico]. “No one here has any idea what the turnout will be because of the timing of the election: a Thursday before a long weekend in May.”

MT-AL: “Greg Gianforte allegedly assaulted a reporter. Wait. Greg Gianforte, the RightNow Technologies guy?” [Pando]. “Wait, seriously, the RightNow Technologies guy? Can’t be that guy. That guy was smart. He’d built a huge technology company. He seemed like a nice, empathetic leader… [Gianforte] was the cookie-cutter, tall, devoted husband white guy who was really passionate about call center efficiencies and wanted everyone to come visit Bozeman, Montana. At no point during the course of our interviews did he punch me or anyone else…. While I didn’t see it in my limited time talking to Gianforte about software, newspapers covering him more closely as a politician had seen hints of this. Other reporters were not shocked…. This is not to say all billionaires are bad or the same traits that make you able to build a multi-billion dollar company also make you a sociopath. I still think there are– on balance– more good people than evil people in Silicon Valley. I wouldn’t have spent my career here otherwise. But we also need to stop this trend of assuming because someone built a multi-billion dollar company, they are qualified – or have the temperament and character – to run for political office. To run a city, a state or an entire country.”

MT-AL: “Will Democrats regret ignoring Rob Quist in Montana?” [The Week]. “The Democrats did put out an eleventh-hour ad Thursday featuring audio of Gianforte’s alleged assault. But it could still be too little, too late.” Which Democrats? (Canvassers going door to door are playing the audio. Why no robocall?)

MT-AL: “A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission against Montana House Democratic candidate Rob Quist says he illegally coordinated with an unregistered political committee that distributed newspaper inserts aimed at reaching undecided voters” [Washington Free Beacon]. “Joe Dooling, chairman of the Lewis & Clark County Republican Central Committee, filed the complaint with the FEC, stating that Quist’s campaign illegally coordinated with the group and that the group failed to register its $10,000 worth of fundraising that was used to benefit Quist.”

GA-06: “Ossoff’s race with Handel is the most expensive House battle in history, with outside groups having poured more than $18 million into the race so far” [The Hill].

GA-06: “There has been very limited public polling since the primary, but a new Survey USA poll shows Ossoff up 51-44 among likely voters. When in-person early voting begins on May 30, we’ll get a better idea of how well the two campaigns are doing in terms of mobilizing their voters. But no matter what happens, it seems the widespread early predictions — including my own — that the GOP would likely win the special election because voters favoring a Democratic candidate simply would not show up did not take into account the “special” nature of this Trump-dominated off-year election cycle” [New York Magazine]. “The contest will almost certainly be close, but at the moment it looks like it may be Jon Ossoff’s to lose.”

CA: Eric Bauman’s new Communications Director for the California Democratic Party, Steve Maviglio: “Democratic political strategist and party consultant Steve Maviglio has some concerns about the new wing of the party. ‘I’m trying to think of a very polite way to say this. The thing that concerns me is that when they don’t get their way, so to speak, they act like petulant children and walk out of the room or kick sand in the sandbox. I think that’s very dangerous for the party.” [Capital Public Radio]. Unity!

“A Smarter Way to Interpret 2017’s Special Elections” [Cook Political Report]. Interesting read that I have to return to on June 21. “There’s no such thing as a ‘make or break’ special election. In June 2006, Democrats fell four points short in a nationally hyped San Diego special election. In May 2010, Republicans fell eight points short in a Western Pennsylvania special. In both cases, the losing side wrested control of the House just a few months later.”

New Cold War

“West Wing officials are prepping for a years-long war with investigators and the bureaucracy, with plans to beef up legal, surrogate, communications and rapid-response teams as part of a ‘new normal’ for President Trump — besieged” [Axios]. “Trump aides recognize that besides being in the crosshairs of investigators on Russia, they will be the continuing target of leaks from the bureaucracy. The Trump ally referred to this second enemy as ‘nameless, faceless, deep-state types’ who have been inflamed and are punching back through the media…. Aides recognize they should have built more push-back capacity from the beginning. But the weakness reflects the minimalist transition planning and thin staffing that have beset the whole Trump machine…. [T]he success of that plan depends partly on President Trump’s willingness to compartmentalize. Close aides have trouble imagining that.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“New York’s 9th Assembly District [which Sanders delegate Christine Pellegrino just flipped from the Republicans] is one of 710 state legislative districts nationwide that have been identified by the Ballotpedia website as including all or part of so-called ‘Pivot Counties,’ which ‘voted for Democrat Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and then voted for Republican Donald Trump in 2016.’ As of April 2017, the website explains, ‘477 state house districts and 233 state senate districts intersected with these Pivot Counties. This includes districts that intersected with only small portions of a county as well as districts that overlapped with multiple counties. These 710 state legislative districts account for approximately 10 percent of all state legislative districts in the country. These are places that Democrats must win to begin reversing the setbacks of 2016” [The Nation].

“How Trump’s Rust Belt Voters Have Changed Since the Election” [Bloomberg]. “In the aftermath of November’s election, there was the sense in many East Coast circles that it wouldn’t take long for the voters of Middle America to regret their decision to put Donald Trump in the White House. Seven months later, we’ve found few signs of such remorse.”

“Martin Luther Was the Donald Trump of 1517” [Foreign Policy]. From the heart of The Blob (?). “For all his cheerful boorishness, Luther was also given to agonies of conscience, extended bouts of self-doubt and despair. He was genuinely, almost pathologically, convinced of his own utter sinfulness and worthlessness. And he was a man driven by certain core convictions that never wavered over his adult life, a set of ideas that became the foundation of a whole system of thought and for which he was plainly ready to lay down his life. These things do not appear to be true of President Trump. And yet, if Luther’s and Trump’s respective dramas are strikingly familiar, it is because they are both about how long-standing political establishments fail to cope with disruptive outsiders, often hastening their own moments of reckoning.

“From Extreme to Mainstream: How Social Norms Unravel” [Leonardo Bursztyn, Georgy Egorov, and Stefano Fiorin, NBER]. “Social norms are typically thought to be persistent and long-lasting, sometimes surviving through growth, recessions, and regime changes. In some cases, however, they can quickly change. This paper examines the unraveling of social norms in communication when new information becomes available, e.g., aggregated through elections.”

“Episode 108 – Night On Bald Mountain feat. Matt Bruenig” (podcast) [Chapo Trap House]. Bruenig’s think tank venture.

Stats Watch

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, May 2017: “Growth remains solid this month in the Kansas City manufacturing region” [Econoday]. “Backlog orders, at 12, are a special positive and point to the need for hiring which, at 11, is already very strong. Delivery times are slowing sharply which points to congestion in the supply chain in another indication of general strength. Inventories are steady as are price indications that include improving traction for selling prices. Regional factory reports have been positive all year with government data lagging somewhat but also positive.” And but: “The data will maintain expectations of an underlying slowdown in the manufacturing sector as seen in most recent regional surveys, although overall confidence also remains strong. The data would not discourage the Fed from continuing the process of policy normalisation” [Economic Calendar].

Philly Fed Coincident Index, April 2017: “The reality is that most of the economic indicators have moderate to significant backward revision – but this month it seems the majority rear view mirror says the USA economy is slowing, flat or improving” Um…. [Econintersect]. “Out of this group of coincident indicators discussed in this post, only ECRI and the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti business conditions index have no backward revision – and both have a good track record of seeing the economy accurately in almost real time. For April, it show that the economy is on an improving trend line.”

Retail Inventories [Advance], April 2017: “Retail inventories fell 0.3 percent in April with motor vehicles down 0.5 percent. Excluding vehicles, inventories fell 0.2 percent” [Econoday].

Wholesale Inventories [Advance], April 2017: “Wholesale inventories fell 0.3 percent in April split between a 0.2 percent decline for durable goods and a 0.6 percent decline for nondurables” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of May 201, 2017: “Jobless claims continue to hold near record lows and continue to point to solid strength in the labor market” [Econoday].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of May 21, 2017: “Once again at expansion highs” [Econoday]. “Strong readings for confidence reflect strong optimism for employment.”

International Trade in Goods, April 2017: A key early indication on the strength of second-quarter GDP is not favorable as the nation’s goods deficit widened $2.5 billion in April to $67.6 billion” [Econoday]. Exports of goods continue to show weakness, down 0.9 percent in the month to $125.9 billion that show sharp declines for vehicles and consumer goods.”

Shipping: “The American Trucking Associations said today that its monthly seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index fell sequentially in April by 2.5 percent, to 134 from 137.6, a decline whose magnitude was surprising, given relatively upbeat comments from truckers about the levels of freight activity” [DC Velocity]. “Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist, said in a statement that he was less surprised by the April decline than he was by the size of the drop. Costello said a substantial fall-off in housing starts last month could have affected tonnage levels, since residential construction activity generates more heavy freight.”

Infrastructure: ‘Infrastructure is one of Wall Street’s hottest new investments. Blackstone Group’s new $100 billion fund to invest in roads, bridges, airports and other projects will compete for investors’ attention with some 100 other infrastructure fund” [Wall Street Journal]. But $100 billion is not that much, and Blackstone is hardly the firm to be allocating public goods. “Sean Klimczak, who manages the Blackstone fund, says his firm has an edge because it has no obligation to cash out, allowing it to sink its proboscis deep into the body politic partner with government agencies for decades.”

The Bezzle: “As down-payment needs swell, these companies step in to help — in exchange for a small stake” [MarketWatch]. “Here’s how Unison’s model works: The company contributes up to 50% of the down payment, or 10% of the total cost of the home, and, then, when the owner sells, Unison takes a share of the profit, usually 35% — or a share of the loss, also usually 35%…. Because the companies make money only when a home is sold, assumptions about lofty price gains must be met. (It’s also possible to buy out the equity stake before selling, according to the terms of the agreement between the company and the borrower.) Unison notes that ‘special provisions’ will apply if homeowners sell in less than three years because ‘in order for home prices to change, time must pass.’… It’s also difficult to know how the shared equity relationship will withstand the normal milestones that make homeownership challenging enough with just one owner. Unison notes that if a property has not been ‘properly maintained’ at the time of sale, it may use a third-party appraiser or inspector to assess how much of the lost value is due to improper upkeep in order to allocate that lost appreciation to the homeowner, not the company.”

Political Risk: “In a panel discussion on Thursday, Fed Governor Brainard stated that the global economic outlook is brighter than it has been for the past few years. According to Brainard, the Euro area economy is growing more solidly while emerging markets have broadly been doing better as well” [Economic Calendar].

Five Horsemen: “Today GOOGL and AMZN are locked in a greyhound-race photo finish to reach the ’round 1,000′ mark first” [Hat Tip Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May25

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Neutral (previous close: 54, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 43 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 25 at 11:49am.

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

“The Secret History of American Surveillance” [Reveal]. Surprisingly advanced techniques in our first imperial war, suppressing the Philippine’s war for independence.

The 420

“Vermont governor vetoes marijuana legalization” [The Hill]. “Scott said he wanted to see tougher penalties for illegal sales of marijuana to minors. He also wants to give regulators more time to study what has worked and what hasn’t in other states where marijuana has been legalized.”

Health Care

“CBO and JCT expect that, as a consequence, the waivers in those states would have another effect: Community-rated premiums would rise over time, and people who are less healthy (including those with preexisting or newly acquired medical conditions) would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all — despite the additional funding that would be available under HR 1628 to help reduce premiums” [CBO]. And: “Over time, it would become more difficult for less healthy people (including people with preexisting medical conditions) in those states to purchase insurance because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly. As a result of the narrower scope of covered benefits and the difficulty less healthy people would face purchasing insurance, average premiums for people who did purchase insurance would generally be lower than in other states—but the variation around that average would be very large. CBO and JCT do not have an estimate of how much lower those premiums would be.” Some people go to HappyVille, and some (more than now) go to Pain City. The way out isn’t tinkering with another Republican plan, ObamaCare being a Republican plan, but making health care a universal and direct benefit.

“Gov. Dannel P. Malloy delivered a public rebuke Wednesday evening to the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Senate, accusing them of misrepresenting his insurance commissioner’s position on a consumer-protection bill and taking an “unnecessarily antagonistic approach toward Connecticut’s insurance industry” [The Connecticut Mirror]. “Malloy’s office sent the letter to reporters after the passage of a bill, SB 445, that would outlaw ‘gag clauses’ in pharmacy benefit manager contracts that now bar pharmacists from sharing price information with customers . The provisions keep pharmacists from telling customers when they could save money by paying cash for a generic instead of a $20 co-pay.” Dear Lord.

“More than one-fourth of all Medicare beneficiaries—15 million people—spend 20 percent or more of their incomes on premiums plus medical care, including cost-sharing and uncovered services. Beneficiaries with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level (just under $24,000 for a single person) and those with multiple chronic conditions or functional limitations are at significant financial risk. Overall, beneficiaries spent an average of $3,024 per year on out-of-pocket costs. Financial burdens and access gaps highlight the need to approach reform with caution. Already-high burdens suggest restructuring cost-sharing to ensure affordability and to provide relief for low-income beneficiaries” [Commonwealth Fund]. Medicare has a neoliberal infestation and needs to be fixed too.

“Electronic health records are viewed by many as the holy grail of modern health care – a centralized record of a persons medical history, medications, procedures, and other clinical data. If patients have multiple doctors and specialists, or complex conditions, an E-Health record can ensure continuity of care, appropriate prescribing and fewer errors of care. In a medical emergency, relevant health information can be accessed quickly” [UNSW School of Public Health and Community Medicine]. “[The risk of hacking] has been recognized in the area of connected digital technologies such as pacemakers and insulin pumps. Former US Vice President Dick Cheney had his pacemaker wireless function disabled to mitigate the risk of hacking. Hacking of health records opens up other potential harms to individuals such as medication security, hospital and health system security and enabling of targeted medical murder. This is a concept that is not within our discourse or awareness, but is certainly technologically possible.”

Guillotine Watch

“How Much Does it Cost to Climb Mount Everest? – 2017 Edition” [The Blog on alanarnette.com]. “The short answer is a car or at least $30,000 but most people pay about $45,000.”

Class Warfare

“Kleptocrats should face the International Criminal Court ” [The FCPA Blog]. “The arguments for prosecuting grand corruption at the International Criminal Court as a crime against humanity are persuasive…. Perhaps one of the most important advantages is the principle of complementarity, where the International Criminal Court or ICC can accept jurisdiction if a State is unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute a case, or if cases are not being conducted “genuinely,” thus ensuring impunity does not prevail, a consistent theme in cases of grand corruption… In my view, grand corruption is a crime that is of the most serious concern to the international community. When State funds are diverted into the pockets of kleptocrats, the result is often disruptions to schools, hospitals, housing, water and food supplies, and other civil services. Those disruptions are therefore a direct cause of violations of liberty, dignity, civil and political rights, the right to family life, education, health care, and so on.”

The Moustache of Understanding takes on the Rust Belt: “It turns out that it’s not that hard to train someone, even with just a high school or community college degree, to operate an advanced machine tool or basic computer. ‘Factory managers would say, ‘I will train them and put them to work tomorrow in good jobs’ requiring hard skills,’ said [Ron Woody, county executive for Roane County, Tennessee]. ‘The problem they have is finding people with the right soft skills.’ … What are those soft skills? I asked. ‘Employers just want someone who will get up, dress up, show up, shut up and never give up,’ Woody responded without hesitation. And there are fewer workers with those soft skills than you might think, he added…. Soft skills also include the willingness to be a lifelong learner, because jobs are changing so quickly.” And: “It’s actually Bill Clinton’s America.”

“$70/Week and Free Cookies! Why Selling Plasma is the Perfect Side Gig” [The Penny Hoarder]. “With all the ways to make money while in college, why not try one that lets you study at the same time? Selling your blood plasma is a simple way to earn cash while catching up on your reading or reviewing class notes. When I was in college, I had no idea about earning opportunities like being a content writer or playing textbook arbitrage.”

“Baby Boomers Look to Senior Concierge Services to Raise Income” [New York Times]. “Elder concierge, as the industry is known, is a way for the semi- and fully retired to continue to work, and, from a business standpoint, the opportunities look as if they will keep growing…. ‘It’s very satisfying,’ she said of the work, which supplements her photography income. Like others in search of additional money, she could have become an Uber driver but said this offered her a chance to do something ‘more meaningful.'”

“Anarchists Fill Services Void Left by Faltering Greek Governance” [New York Times]. “Tasos Sagris, a 45-year-old member of the Greek anarchist group Void Network and of the ‘self-organized’ Embros theater group, has been at the forefront of a resurgence of social activism that is effectively filling a void in governance. ‘People trust us because we don’t use the people as customers or voters,’ Mr. Sagris said. ‘Every failure of the system proves the idea of the anarchists to be true.’ … Whatever the means, since 2008 scores of “self-managing social centers” have mushroomed across Greece, financed by private donations and the proceeds from regularly scheduled concerts, exhibitions and on-site bars, most of which are open to the public. There are now around 250 nationwide.”

News of the Wired

“How one man wreaked ingenious revenge on rude customers in a coffee shop” [Telegraph]. What’s the world coming to…

“There was method to the madness of Heath Robinson’s extraordinary illustrations” [The Spectator]. Looks like Rube Goldberg. Test of independent invention? Maybe not:

The expression ‘Heath Robinson’ has entered the dictionary to mean ‘an over-ingenious, ridiculously complicated or elaborate mechanical contrivance’. But early domestic gadgets were often ridiculously complicated. Hubert Cecil Booth’s original vacuum cleaner of 1901 was a steam-powered machine the size of a large cart, and pulled by horses. When you summoned it, the monster was brought to the road outside your house, and pipes led in through the windows. This was an important social event — ladies would invite their friends to come and take tea and observe the wonderful machine in action.

And this was before the Internet of Things!

“The GOP’s leading campaign and fundraising arm, the Republican National Committee, has thrown its support behind an initiative that could allow marketing firms and robocallers to spam your voicemail inbox — without your phone ever ringing” [TechDirt]. “Whether you want to have a voicemail inbox magically filled with political missives, ads for mattresses and assorted other sales pitches apparently doesn’t even enter into the equation. If you’d like to share your thoughts with the FCC on this subject, you can find and comment on the particular proceeding in question, here.”

* * *

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 from Wales: “Ridiculous rhododendron at Bodnant Garden. It was peak season for them.”

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Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the Naked Capitalism fundraisers. Please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Gee

      A good read…one point I take small issue with. Hillary outspent Trump 2 to 1, and “it didnt matter” – au contraire! Imagine they spent the same amount how ugly her loss would have been? What this (and many of the other points show) is that even with all the baked in advantages that the system ginned up for her (and that she helped create herself via the system) she STILL couldnt win. Which brings you back to the main point up front in the article : just a horrible candidate.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Ad spending has limits. Hillary Clinton has been in the public eye for over 25 years. Hillary could have two daily reinventions, and no one would have changed their minds on Hillary.

        I wonder how much air time was purchased on the promise of a billion dollar fundraising campaign with a handshake agreement for favorable coverage. Hillary could have spent $2 billion or $11ty billion and produced similar results if she was paying news networks for favorable coverage.

        If ad spending had been ignored in favor of more organizing money, could Hillary have produced better results? Its funny to say, “Putin didn’t make Hillary not campaign in Wisconsin,” but would an extra rally have mattered? She isn’t some random Governor. Would more money spent replicating what ACORN use to do over the Summer been a better use of funds?

        1. John k

          What if she gave the money to the unemployed? Free publicity, of course, would have shared the knowledge for free… course, nothing left for all the fees to professionals… knew there was a snag… best stay with giving to those that dont need it…

        2. darthbobber

          It helps if the advertising is actually ABOUT something. If Pennsylvania is a fair sample, hers really wasn’t. Basically, Donald Trump was just an uncouth, evil boor, and Hillary wanted to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony (which can only be done by ruthlessly suppressing the dissonant notes, btw.) It was all vacuous blather (though expensively produced vacuous blather with good production values).

          Was there a marketing campaign that could have made the Edsel a big hit, or was the product just hopeless?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Hillary has been on the national stage since 1992.

            What kind of ad will make you rethink a 25 year old product? We aren’t discussing a one term Senator or Governor. Even if Hillary wasn’t a terrible candidate, she was a terrible candidate for the singular reason of her low trustworthiness rating. Whatever the cause of that low rating is irrelevant. Once you are untrustworthy, what one says is irrelevant. It still goes back to ole Aesop. It didn’t matter there were wolves in the one instance. When trust is gone, its gone.

            She has used her platform to run for President. “Im with her.” She didn’t use her platform to do anything else, and she had to know she had the trustworthiness problem.

            1. darthbobber

              The thing that boggled my mind was that so bloody many Democrats managed to remain absolutely blind to that, and that so many remain so.

              She was the weakest possible candidate the Democrats could have run, of the prominent names.

              But even so, she didn’t need to do THAT much better to squeak in against a candidate seen as equally or even more untrustworthy, and had she even been capable of running a competent campaign, that much should have been possible.

              The sequence of stupid decisions by people whose supposed claim to fame is that they are the “pragmatists” who “know how to win” just confirms how hollow that claim is.

          2. KGC

            For a very interesting read on the Edsel: Jan Ginter Deutsch, Selling the People’s Cadillac: The Edsel and Corporate Responsibility. Hard to describe in a sentence or two – an intertwined, almost kabbalistic analysis – but, once tackled, a formative experience. At least I found it so when I took his course at YLS.

      1. CD

        As a country, we’re screwed. Can’t trust Dems. Can’t trust Reps. What’s left?

        Oh, yes, we can trust big business.

        What a depressing thought.

      2. TK421

        The people you named ARE conservative, and would have been Republicans 50 years ago.

        1. freedeomny

          Bernie Sanders really wouldn’t be considered “radical left” by historical standards. That is how bad things have become with our current norm….he’s a “socialist” .. lol

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        True, but at least to somebody who came up as a Democrat, Republicans are expected to be as they are. (I also give credit to the Freedom Caucus for at least reasoning from principles, even though I think the principles are demented. So far as I can tell with the liberal Democrats, the only point is that they lost power and will do anything to regain it. Otherwise, the shifts in heroes/villains and talking points are enough to give you whiplash, like following the Communist “party line” in the 30s.)

        On “corporate Democrats”: I tend, as readers know, to resist language like that. I kinda sorta know what the term means — probably campaign contributions are a good litmus test — but I reject talking points that deflect on agency. “Corporations are people, my friend.” Those people, most especially the owners of those corporations, have agency (though professionals have their role to play as well).

        I think, as far as party factions to fight, concretely, on the ground, for now, “Clintonites” could be substituted for “corporate Democrats” without loss of meaning, and with the great advantage of making friends and enemies crystal clear.

    2. Deadl E Cheese

      Their argument was and is ‘we (neo)liberals might kill tens of thousands, but reactionaries kill hundreds of thousands’. An argument that may have had some salience back in the 80s and 90s, but definitely not in the 60s, 70s, and 10s. Why?

      1.) Existential threats that can’t handle incrementalism. Climate change is the leviathan, but don’t count out overpopulation, fascism and, for the far-sighted, OECD demographic collapse and strong AI.
      2.) Increasing evidence that left-politics is not only moral but lucrative. When Chait published his Whiggish triumphalist screed ‘why 2012 is the Republicans’ last chance’, while he was correct in that America was increasingly hostile to Reaganite conservative politics he was also blind to the possibility that this would also mean the undoing of the paper-thin viability of liberal politics.
      3.) The fact that liberalism can’t even survive on its own terms. Liberals go on and on and on about how the debacles of Mondale and Carter can never be repeated, even at the cost of what morals they have left, but when Clinton and Kerry and Obama wreck their power base even worse, it’s like… they have nothing.

      The revelation that Clinton and Obama and Pelosi and Maddow and Kos and Stewart not only won’t protect you from herrenvolk reactionaries, but that they can’t, was like an earthquake through my circles. Once Richard Spencer and Steve Bannon showed their faces, that’s when people started to realize IMO that pragmatism is incompatible with short-term survival.

        1. Deadl E Cheese

          Overpopulation would be a big problem even if we didn’t have climate change, and vice versa. It’s more like Mechagodzilla and Ghidorah teaming up rather than fighting them sequentially..

      1. LT

        The 20th/21st Century Neoliberals (Dem Party side of duopoly): Woodrow Wilson and Admin created the design. JFK and Admin was the first prototype.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The revelation that Clinton and Obama and Pelosi and Maddow and Kos and Stewart not only won’t protect you from herrenvolk reactionaries, but that they can’t

        This is why the constant liberal Democrat yammering about “norms” — and “naming and shaming” those who are said violate them — is so bizarre. They just lost all three branches of the Federal government, most state legislatures, and most governorships, so who besides them says they have the power to enforce norms, anyhow? And even leaving aside any notion that liberal Democrats enforce their norms selectively, were those norms all that great to begin with? Except on an “honor among thieves” basis? See under Iraq War, warrantless surveillance, the destruction of public institutions like the schools and the Post Office, the carceral state, foreclosure crisis, failure to prosecute CEO criminals, the ObamaCare debacle, excess mortality as shown by Case-Deaton, etc., etc., etc. All this happened on a completely bipartisan basis, and liberal Democrats cheered it all on, and sometimes profited from it. Gotchyer norms right here, folks.

        Oh, and that’s a very clear message of the Gianforte victory: I mean, body slamming a Guardian reporter is an admirably direct norm violation (Montana voter: “That’s my kind of politician”). OTOH, the Guardian, as any Sanders supporter knows, very clearly picked sides in the Democrat primary in its reporting, and that’s an egregious norm violation too (for which I don’t recall liberal Democrats throwing any flags or showing any red cards at all). So — and I happen to think this is a very bad thing, systemically — another wonderfully clarifying aspect of 2016 and its aftermath is that the members of the press — with rare exceptions, including small blogs, especially family blogs like this one — are now presumptively players and can’t claim the privileges that come with being referees any more. It’s not OK to tackle a ref. It is OK to tackle a player. The chickens, to mix metaphors, are coming home to roost on this, and moving fast, too.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      “The Baffler” link from this morning makes a point about everything coming back to decency or cruelty. The basic problem is so much of the msnbc class is part of the “i’ve got mine to hell with everyone else” crowd. They have made common cause, but they are no different than people who come into serious money and start voting Republican to keep their taxes low or stocks high.

      Thomas Frank has a values set that revolves around “decency.” Oh sure, he made of Pope Michael I and his followers (who wouldn’t?), but at the same time, he is thinking of others and how choices impact them. For upper class types, what do they need in the short term? Just look at some of the stuff available on Amazon! Making sure kids get lead free water (does anyone remember Flint?) isn’t an obstacle to the “Ive got mine crowd.”

    4. kurtismayfield

      Thank you for sharing that article. And the first comment was right on; there is no discussion of class at all in the US. And I have never seen “Crucifixion of Labor,”, it is so fitting for these times when the Health care industry, the banks, and the government has been evicerating labor relentlessly.

    5. fresno dan

      May 25, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Suddenly they feigned innocence of the fact that any serious presidential campaign in the US, let alone one orchestrated by highly paid “experts” and consultants, is one designed to win the electoral college, not the popular vote. In fact, during the golden days when the news media only spoke about poll numbers, whenever Trump’s numbers seemed to be rising the immediate retort was always, “but he has no viable path through the electoral college,” and that ended the discussion. Some of the wildest predictions of Clinton’s victory had her winning nearly twice as many votes in the electoral college as she actually did—never was the electoral college itself questioned. Trump was said to be destined to defeat because of the electoral college; when he won, the grievance was that it was because of the electoral college.
      Thanks for that Altandmain!

    6. LT

      Because as a whole, people in the country have not stopped worshipping wealth and consumerism. Being wealthy or buying stuff is not bad in and of itself, but exalting those things beyond reason – a land where we now believe in “brands” above humanity – is twisted.

    7. Grebo

      I have just embarked on Polanyi’s Great Transformation. If I anticipate his thesis correctly Liberalism first died a hundred years ago. That was the view of Hayek and his reactionary chums and the reason they invented Neoliberalism. So perhaps it is the death of Neoliberalism we are witnessing. Let us hope it doesn’t involve a couple of World Wars this time.

  1. Louis

    Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air chronicled the problems on Mount Everest 20 years ago and Alan Arnett’s blog makes it clear that things have only gotten worse since then.

    By no means am I against guided climbing–guides can have a legitimate role to play–but taking people up Mount Everest who have deep pockets but little or no mountaineering experience is irresponsible if not outright malpractice.

    1. John k

      Who is the mal practicer? The desperate people taking money for a very risky occupation, or the inexperienced rich buffoon paying them?

    2. Cat Burglar

      It is probably worse than you can imagine. An account from a couple years back even said there were prostitutes for hire at the basecamp on the Chinese side of the mountain. The mountain and everything to do with it have been reduced to a commodity, so it can be reported on in Arnette’s blog just like any other isolable pure value that is ring-fenced and then charged for (though I can’t fault the government of a poor country wanting to charge for the use of a leading public resource and trying to spread economic benefits around).

      This kind of thing infests almost every “highest” mountain, like Mounts Whitney and Rainier, or Denali. Coming in first in quantitative measure has to mean they are somehow better and more worthy of attention, right? Like stock price or income! How could mountains be any different? Mountaineering has often represented itself as worth doing because it is a cooperative effort in elemental contact with nature, but in situations like this it just acts out the pathologies of the larger society. Mount Rainier long had a single mountain guide service that secured a monopoly though personal relations with a US Senator; consequently, there was a roaring bootleg guiding business that rangers reluctantly struggled to stamp out (they were reluctant because they knew why there was a monopoly), though they never succeeded. Guided clients have requested rescues off Denali because they suddenly realized they had an important business meeting to attend. You have to wonder why people go to these peaks if they’re just getting another serving of what they get every day — maybe it is because they like what we’re being shoved into.

      For people who don’t like it, but like mountains, you could read Four Against Everest, about sneaking into Tibet (at the height of the Cold War) to climb Mount Everest — a trip which caused a minor international incident, and even had the CIA trying to get the author denied tenure at work.

      1. Octopii

        Reminds me a of a friend who’d dreamed of walking the Camino de Santiago for many years, finally able to take the journey two years ago in retirement after selling his business. He ended the trip in disillusionment and disgust after a short time, having learned that the route is now a commercialized commodity as described above. Paved paths, crowds, trinket shops, ubiquitous packaged pre-cooked “pilgrims meals” and the trash of those meals strewn about. Not so enlightening.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > This kind of thing infests almost every “highest” mountain

        If the Nepalese have “spirits of the land,” like some Southeast Asian countries do, those spirits can’t be happy, nor the Nepalese who commune/communicate with them.

    3. RUKidding

      It’s pretty appalling how wealthy people want to “do” Everest just because… because it’s the highest, because they have the money, so they can show off.

      I love the mountains and climbing them, but I’ve never been attracted to any part of Everest because of what a sh*tshow it has become. It’s gotten super expensive just to go to the base camp, which a lot of wannabes also want to do.

      It’s very sad because there are guides who are not outfitted well enough or paid well enough, but they need the money, so they do it. And they suffer some pretty grave consequences. Nepal sells a lot of permits because it’s a money-maker all around. But the area is trashed; tons of litter; bathrooms overrun. No pristine wilderness, that’s for sure.

      It’s all pretty disgusting. Krakauer’s book is very good and worth a read. Sadly, I think it just contributed to the rich hoardes wanting to add it to their luxury bucket lists.

      1. Louis

        I have spent a lot of my life around mountains and love climbing them as well, but Everest doesn’t appeal to me either for basically the same reasons.

        A lot of guides are struggling financially, if not living paycheck to paycheck, so on a certain level it’s understandable that would jump at the opportunity to be paid tens of thousands of dollars a client. However, you have to wonder whether the amount of money involved doesn’t create perverse incentives to overlook risks and safety that might not be overlooked on lesser climbs.

        High altitude mountaineering is serious business no matter how good a climber your are. It’s one thing for someone with no mountaineering experience to have a guide get them up Mount Hood and quite another to go up Mount Everest. Lack of mountaineering experience is manageable problem on Mount Hood. However, climbing Mount Everest, without any mountaineering experience, compounds the already high-risks.

      2. Cat Burglar

        In the climbing world, people taken to the top of a peak by a mountain guide are referred to by guides and climbers generally as clients, not climbers, and the verb used to describe what they did was that they were guided up the mountain. Among climbers, being guided up is never accorded the same respect as climbing, though there were cases in the past where it was. For some time now, guide services have understood themselves to be providing “adventure travel.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      The Bhutanese have a simple solution to the problem. High altitude mountain climbing is banned, no exceptions. To compensate they developed a trekking industry where only local people are allowed as guides and only homesteads are allowed – no foreign owned or operated companies. Its been far more successful at ensuring locals get the benefits of tourism and the high mountains are untouched, with very few deaths (occasionally trekkers die from altitude sickness).

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Jon Krakauer’s Into Thin Air

      A wonderful book, and chilling in every sense of the word.

      I suppose the squillionaires want to go to Mars for much the same reason they want to climb Everest. At least if they go to Mars it’s unlikely they’ll come back.

  2. Vatch

    Why no robocall?)

    Robocalls are illegal in Montana. But the Democrats could get around that the same way that the Republicans have, by having a real person call phone numbers and ask whether the call recipient would like to listen to a recorded message.

    1. Altandmain

      Do these robocalls even work? Do they translate into turnout?

      I personally would hang up if I got a robocall and block the number. I’d be less inclined to support robocallers.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        What is the point of the robocall? To inform people about the Presidential election or any other election?

        In low turnout elections, simply reminding people to vote is a really big deal. I have no doubt people will call the registrar’s office on Wednesday to complain about not being able to vote on Tuesday.

        Given GOP shenanigans over the years, its important to be on top of things such as the date of the election.

    2. cat's paw

      The missus and I have been called no less than 12 times in the last 3 days by real live people–and texted a few more times. The phones are being worked in MT. Don’t worry.

      By the way, Gianforte….what a decent hardworking godloving familypromoting jobcreator of a guy. He’s definitely not an egomanical empty suit who believes with all his heart he deserves being governor or congress person or president or whatever by virtue of him simply being him. Also, he’s clearly cool and calm under pressure. Just what this country needs right now.

      1. ocop

        During the election last year I was texted by the local MoveOn social coordinator (contact info from act blue from Bernie donations?) and found that to be a magnitude of order more invasive than a real life call. That may just be a quirk in my own programming but I did not respond kindly.

        Must have been led astray by the “millennials love texting and ‘social'” line in the play book.

        1. Octopii

          I get chirpy texts from Our Revolution about local events and phone banks. I don’t mind it so much, but it is jarring to be reached in such a direct and intimate fashion.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > clearly cool and calm under pressure.

        That’s what got me. I don’t know what the local reaction was, but on the Twitter, the reaction was all “norms violation!!” and “arrest him”!

        My thought was that a framing that said focused on the idea that real men keep their tempers under control would have been a lot more effective, but what do I know?

  3. hemeantwell

    Re yet another article about Trump voters showing no signs of remorse, I’ll be yet another NCer who points out that the Dems, both elite and mass, are showing few well-defined signs of remorse regarding Clintonism. This only reinforces the tendency of the unrepentant voter to relive their decision in the context of the election. If the Sanders-Warren wing was to start holding regular Clinton effigy burnings along with their policy statements the message might sink in.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          She doesn’t take positions on many issues and likes to ignore Massachusetts whenever possible. The twitter feeds during the Boston School Walkout from last year noticed Warren didn’t make a statement about tax breaks for GE being taken from public schools.

          Its more a reflection on the current body politic than anything, but Warren is a back bencher in nature. The mere idea she is a leading figure is a sign of deep seated rot.

      1. neo-realist

        In her mind, I think Warren was playing realpolitik. She probably thought TPTB in the DNC and the Corporate Media would unite to crush Sanders, sooner or later, so she wanted to hop on the train that gave her the best chance of getting into a cabinet where she could initiate and put into practice stronger financial sector regulations.

        Also, when you get away from positions regarding financial sector regulation, Warren comes off as much closer to the Clinton/neo-liberal wing of the party.

        1. John k

          Presumably she wanted treasury. Clinton would obviously have given banks a veto, so not a chance. Bernie would have given sec treasury to her because they agree on banking policy.
          I assume she simply didn’t believe that even with her support Bernie could have won. A real pity.

  4. Synoia

    taking people up Mount Everest who have deep pockets but little or no mountaineering experience is irresponsible if not outright malpractice.

    I view as a paid Darwin Award efforts, and applaud it.

    How do we get many more of the rich to do this? The English Channel in March in a small sailing boat is another good choice, as would be a unskilled crew of the rich in the Fasnet Race.

    Or unskilled (always rich) horse riders attempting cross country eventing, a neck breaking sport.

      1. diptherio

        I believe you mean “underpaid guides and porters.” ‘Sherpa’ is an ethnic group, not an occupation. My Sherpa friend finds it highly offensive when people conflate the two. That would be like refering to people who make a living doing lawncare as “mexicans.” Just doing my part to combat unwitting racism…

      2. PlutoniumKun

        The problem is not that they are underpaid – its actually the opposite, they are paid very well by local standards – to be an Everest guide or porter is an elite job for local Sherpa people. But this has paradoxically put individuals under enormous pressure to accept even the most dangerous work – a Sherpa working up there is not just supporting his wife and kids, he is often supporting a wider extended family. This means they are under pressure to take huge risks by unscrupulous foreign companies and the more psychopathic clients. The discontent among the Sherpas is not about what they are paid, its the poor level of compensation if they are killed on the mountain – this can plunge their family into poverty because there are few other means of support on the Nepalese side of the border (things are a little different on the Chinese side).

        This was one of the reasons the Bhutanese didn’t just ban mountaineering, they created a trekking industry with controls to ensure that the benefits were spread wider through the community. So to be a trekking guide is a good job in Bhutan, but there is also money to be made running homestays, restaurants, etc. Foreigners are simply not permitted to set up businesses serving trekking at any level (foreign companies offering trekking trips to Bhutan must use local guides and stay in locally owned accommodation).

  5. allan

    World Bank’s Star Economist Is Sidelined in War Over Words [Bloomberg]

    First the `Oxford comma’. Now the `NYU and’:

    The World Bank’s chief economist has been stripped of his management duties after researchers rebelled against his efforts to make them communicate more clearly, including curbs on the written use of “and.”

    Paul Romer is relinquishing oversight of the Development Economics Group, the research hub of the Washington-based development lender, according to an internal staff announcement seen by Bloomberg. …

    Romer was one of John Sexton’s `superstar’ hires at NYU ($500K+ ?).

    1. Jim Haygood

      Editing wars … I LOVE IT:

      Researchers … were flummoxed by some of [Romer’s] stylistic hangups, including a distaste for the conjunction “and.”

      “To drive home the importance of focus, I’ve told the authors that I will not clear the final report if the frequency of ‘and’ exceeds 2.6 percent,” said Romer.

      The “Bankspeak” study noted the penchant of World Bank authors to link long chains of nouns with the word “and” can produce mind-numbing lists that create the impression of activity.


      The simple expedient of substituting ampersands could have averted this needless academic bloodshed & facilitated the uninterrupted publication of mind-numbing lists that create the impression of activity. :-(

      Your tax dollars at work … ah ha ha ha … take this ampersand and shove it.

    2. RabidGandhi

      Then again, there are some words that communicate too clearly:

      The Argentine National Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA) has banned its executives from using the word “Agrotóxico” in “any professional communications, or in any virtual or printed materials, or in any other INTA communications or any INTA units, programmes, projects or working instruments, regardless of their category”.

      Golly I wonder who could have been offended by that word?

  6. Jim Haygood

    When you don’t have a clue, punt:

    Senate Republicans are weighing a two-step process to replace Obamacare that would postpone a repeal until 2020, as they seek to draft a more modest version than a House plan that nonpartisan analysts said would undermine some insurance markets.

    Republicans — in the early stages of private talks on the Senate plan — say they may first take action to stabilize premium costs in Obamacare’s insurance-purchasing exchanges in 2018 and 2019.


    When you don’t have a clue, rant:

    Democrats in both chambers are united against efforts to replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the CBO report should be the “final nail in the coffin” in the Republican drive to end Obamacare.

    Twenty-five counties in Missouri will have ZERO Obamacare insurers in 2018, now that Blue Cross Blue Shield pulled out. “Keeping Obamacare” is not an option for those folks. But it’s flyover country, so let the rubes self-medicate with meth, oxycontin and fentanyl, right Chuck?

    *plays violin as cities burn on the horizon*

    1. Synoia

      And the preferred Democratic solution for counties with no Obamacare insurers is Medicare for All? Right?
      Can’t hear you!!!

    2. ambrit

      Around here, I’ve noticed that all of the poor folk who staunchly supported the Democrat Party line for all of these years are, still poor.

  7. Roger Smith

    GA-06: “Ossoff’s race with Handel is the most expensive House battle in history, with outside groups having poured more than $18 million into the race so far”

    That is a lot of dough to prove a point! So let’s see, ($18 million x 100 suburban center right Democrats for Senate) + ($18 million x ≥238 suburban center right Democrats for the House) + $1.5 billion for a suburban center right Democrat for President. drum roll please…

    Wow! That’s only $75,840,000,000 billion dollars! Onward Together!

  8. PeonInChief

    Steve Maviglio has been a joke for a lot of years. In a recent election cycle, he whined about the real estate interests working against his candidate. Then he commended the work of the wonderfully productive realtors for the next campaign he worked on.

      1. ambrit

        Hus was burned at the stake. Let’s try him. He was before most of the other “Reformers.” That would make Trump a sign of things to come.
        Sufferin’ Succotash, I’ll nominate you to be the Neo Wycliffe.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Now we only have one kind of NINJA left, and those are students.” — Michael Hudson

      Actually two — the other one is auto loans. Recently it was revealed that a major subprime auto lender, whose loans are packaged into ABS (Asset Backed Securities), verified the income of only 8 percent of the borrowers in a recent ABS issue.

      Heard those “credit approval guaranteed — no one turned down” ads? There’s a reason for that. :-)

  9. JohnnyGL

    Do commenters here (or our gracious hosts) have any preference regarding Ossoff in the GA-06 race?

    I was about as ambivalent as Bernie seemed when he was asked around 1-2 months ago. But as the race has wound down and the Dem elites are clearly spitefully refusing to fund any candidate that carries Bernie’s scent on him/her, I’m starting to lean towards preferring an Ossoff loss, but still mostly undecided.

    Any thoughts?

    1. Altandmain

      I think that Ossoff losing though would reinforce the appeal of neoliberals being low.

      It’s like being forced to vote between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton – what’s the difference? I guess Clinton ramps up the identity politics a lot and is more to the left on social policies. The GOP is really far to the right on economic policies, but the Democrats are also well into the right as a neoliberal party.

    2. Vatch

      It’s a tough call. Ossoff’s opponent, Karen Handel, is kind of a weirdo extremist, and there already are too many of them in the Congress. But I resent the way that the national Democratic party ignored James Thompson in Kansas, so it would serve the jerks right if Ossoff were to lose. Ossoff v. Handel is really a lose/lose scenario.

      1. JohnnyGL

        That’s kind of where’s I’m thinking, too. Clearly, the Clinton/Obama loyalists running the party have demonstrated that they’re willing to drive the party off a cliff in order to crush the Berniecrats.

        It’s becoming clear that we (Berniecrats) are going to have to play equally nasty if we’re going to grab the steering wheel of this car at some point.

        But, as you point out, fewer crazies would be nice…on the other hand, those Freedom Caucus loons have been very helpful, at times, when we need bad legislation buried (even if it’s because the legislation isn’t bad ENOUGH for their liking).

        1. Kurt Sperry

          My presumption is that all the Clinton/DNC blob care about is how many seats *they* control. Losing to Republicans is far less existentially dangerous for them than losing to Berners. Obviously. It’s smart politics.

    3. Roger Smith

      A win for contemporary Democrats is a win for sedentary complacency. The age of Trump has the molecules excited and heating up, the kind of reactions we need for change. Cooling it down would be the last thing we’d want to do. The Democrats must lose at all costs until they change, die, or a real challenger appears.

      1. Altandmain

        In that case, it may make sense for Sanders supporters and the rest of the left to vote GOP.

        For the same reason that voting for Trump may have been the lesser evil over Clinton.

    4. Fiery Hunt

      Anyone the Clintonistas push, I’m against. Doesn’t matter how bad the Republican is.
      If you’re a corporate Third Way Democrat, I say hell no.
      There’s no difference between a Blue Dog Demo and a moderate Republican….

      Burn the Democratic elite system to the ground.

      Only then can we get their attention.

    5. hreik

      My thoughts? I think Trump is a dangerous man to lead the country and totally unfit for the job. I want a majority in the house and senates asap. This is a strategic not ideological desire. I donated, canvassed and called for Bernie. But I think Trump is unfit for this job and should be removed. Nothing can or will happen w/o a democratic majority in one or both houses. Just my 2. I’m sure I’ll be ridiculed here for lack of purity. Don’t much care about that. lol

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Kinda agree with you on needing a Dem majority asap. With 4 vs 2 years unchecked think of how much more damage Trump could do.

        I so wish standing firm on the message to the corporate Dems didn’t have such a high price, but Trump is making the world more dangerous for us all every day.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          2010: Keep the GOP from taking the House
          2014: Keep the GOP from taking the Senate
          2016: Supreme Court!

          This strategy isn’t working, and before you say, “but gerrymandering,” its still not a winning strategy. Gerrymandering exists.

          Without a point, Democrats are going no where. Look at the money being dumped behind Ossoff, and he still might not win.

          The Dems didn’t lose because of Jill Stein or “OMG Putin.” They lost because of widespread economic declines. Fear and TINA are there are only campaign platforms. If you want to win, don’t you think its time for a new strategy?

          You will lose with the Obama/Clinton wing. Obama won when he was “anti-Clinton.” After he went full Rahm, he destroyed the Democratic Party and ushered in Trump. The Dems had every advantage.

        2. Deadl E Cheese

          The thing is, it’s no longer a Sophie’s choice. Corporate Dems aren’t only destructive, they’re impotent. Corporate Dems have screwed over our future so badly that after summer 2016 a billionaire clown rapist with a unified government is a necessary (though certainly not sufficient) condition for humanity to have any hope at all.

          Imagine if Hillary Clinton somehow managed to win in 2016 and even managed to claw her way to a 52-seat majority. All that would mean is that we’d have Tom Cotton rewriting the Constitution in 2020 after the GOP uses the neoliberalism, warhawkery, and electoral malpractice of the Democrats to get their asses a veto-overriding supermajority, then 40+ state houses.

          Don’t make common cause with these cretins. If you do, you’ll just be doing this same dance again in 2020, after Cotton completely breaks the spines of Booker and Cuomo over his knee. Just in time for a new round of gerrymandering, too.

          1. Synoia

            Democrats winning?

            Democrats are a bit like Gandhi’s view of Western Civilization.

            Nice Idea, when will we get them?

            1. Deadl E Cheese

              Nice idea? Hopefully, it’ll be never. Even when we had ‘real Democrats’ like LBJ and FDR, they were still flawed, myopic, and heavily and needlessly immoral.

              And if the Democrats were to become something that I could vote for, why would they even stick to the name? Even if the Justice Dem strategy of infecting the nest like a cuckoo actually worked, I’d still need for them to change their name and symbolism.

        3. Montanamaven

          Democrats had the majority in 2009 and 2010. Nada good came of it.
          Democrats had the majority when NAFTA was passed.
          Democrats had a majority when they made the deal with Reagan to screw the middle class even further with a big rise in the payroll tax.
          Democrats suck. Put a fork in it. Their overdone.

      2. JohnnyGL


        I don’t see too many “purists” around here on nakedcap, nor a lot of Trump fans.

        I think most of us would dispute Trump’s lack of fitness (or Clinton’s, neither belong within shouting distance of the WH), but the more important questions are:

        1) Does President Pence make things WORSE? Who’s the more EFFECTIVE evil?
        2) Shouldn’t we be worried about overturning the results of the election? Because if they can do it to a Prez that you don’t like, that means they can do it to one that you DO like, as well.

        1. hreik

          Thanks for your response.

          1) Yes, in some ways Pence makes things worse. Though I would hope he and Ryan would be taken out w Trump. lol… wishful thinking.
          2) Depends on why the election results are overturned. For a blow job? No. For Money laundering w Russia, maybe.

          1. jrs

            yawn money laundering. wake me up when you’ve got an issue the voters in this country actually care about, because yes it’s overthrowing an election where people voted however misguidedly (and I do think voting for trump was misguided) on issues they actually cared about, over some kind of money purity test in a political system overwhelmed with money anyway.

          2. mk

            Money laundering is just an excuse for the gov’t. to collect fines, and is just a biz expense for banks because banksters are not prosecuted or go to jail FOR YEARS (thanks Obama/Clintons). If it’s ok for banks to launder money, why not trump and the russians? What’s the difference?

      3. ambrit

        There is also the point of view that the system itself is in it’s terminal stages. To that end, Trump acts as a “dis-enabler” for the political status quo. We might have to endure the pressure building up into an explosion of some sort. Say, a foreign war that mobilizes the public to refuse consent to the elites. Any major nationwide dissent will need a major nationwide trigger.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        Remember when the Democrats won in 2006 and Pelosi took impeachment off the table like, the first day after the election? And there was a very strong case to impeach Bush (multiple felonies on warrantless surveillance) unlike the hot mess of Trump allegations.

        Be careful what you wish for. You might not get it.

    6. lyman alpha blob

      Screw him. I’ve never understood the point of trying to elect a Republican who decided to put a ‘D’ after their name just to win an election and then trumpet a Democrat majority despite the fact that they govern like Republicans.

      Dumbest, most self-defeating, sorry excuse for a strategy I’ve ever seen.

    7. Dale

      Ga 6th is very con, white, military (Dobbins), new Atlanta Braves stadium. Ga 5th, where Ossoff actually lives, is fairly liberal: Rep. John Lewis’ district. Ossoff loses as a carpetbagger, outsider.

      1. Carolinian

        Greetings from tony Brookhaven which is also part of Ga 6. I’m seeing lots of Ossoff signs and not so many Handel for what that’s worth.

        But Cobb county which holds part of the dist including that air base and a defense plant that once made B 29s may be Atlanta’s most conservative. Should be interesting…

  10. Goyo Marquez

    Re Luther/Trump
    How outsiders use new technology to go around gatekeepers to organize people upset with the status quo?

  11. cocomaan

    Missing the link on the Friedman article, but this is exactly why higher education is a massive waste of money:

    “It turns out that it’s not that hard to train someone, even with just a high school or community college degree, to operate an advanced machine tool or basic computer.

    None of my jobs have had much to do with my graduate or undergraduate degrees. They helped me write better, but that’s about it.

    1. Synoia

      It turns out that it’s not that hard to train someone, even with just a high school or community college degree, to operate an advanced machine tool or basic computer

      True, their learning is called an Apprenticeship. We should try that. Can our corporation lead that training?

      Maybe those so inclined could start learning it in School, by taking “Shop” classes…….

      1. jrs

        it’s not so hard to train someone. “10 years of experience required” is what they’ll put in the want ad though you betcha. I mean how many companies are actually doing almost any on the job training these days? Not many.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          The “x years of exp. req.” thing is a bit strange since those years of experience may require a large degree of unlearning before the new learning can even start. The unlearning can be harder than the learning too. In highly technical fields, it’s more likely to make sense but that’s always a very small slice of the labor market.

    2. Arizona Slim

      Same here. I had exactly one job where I used my economics degree. Annotating academic books in economics and business. What a bore. I lasted all of 15 months — and then I escaped.

    3. RabidGandhi

      We should get one of those “jobs that helped me write better” for Moustachio.

      1. ambrit

        No. no, no! That would remove his endearing qualities. How do your locals say the equivalent of “Aw shucks!” while chewing on a lemon grass leaf and kicking a clump of anaconda droppings? (I’m assuming, always a danger fraught exercise, that you don’t live in the Pantanal.)

      2. funemployed

        I think he has the technical skills already. Good writing also requires having coherent thoughts. I don’t think any training in the world could do that for the Great and Powerful Mustache. First he would have to admit that the words jumbling around in the blender that is his brain don’t quite qualify as thoughts to begin with.

    1. crittermom

      I couldn’t read the entire article because it’s paywalled, but the first few sentences said it all.

      As I’ve always said, wisdom does not necessarily come with age, and as my dad taught me, common sense is not so common. Add to that, the acquisition of money doesn’t necessarily mean you’re smart, either.

      A neighborhood friend was bragging one day as she lugged a pkg over she’d just picked out of the UPS box. She’d paid good money for “400 count Egyptian cotton sheets” and couldn’t wait to unwrap and show them to me.
      Before she had a chance I mentioned, “You do know that’s just a new catch phrase for polyester, don’t you?”
      She gave me that ‘deer in the headlights’ look upon opening them and checking the tag.
      I was correct. It’s called ‘reading the fine print’, which I tend to do.

      Same friend and her husband spent a couple nights at a nice hotel, where she just couldn’t resist ordering an expensive shirt for her husband on her ‘smart’ phone.
      She was immediately hacked, receiving a fraud alert and having her card canceled until they could send her a new one.
      She told me of it, finishing with, “It’s okay. I still have my AmEx card.”

      A week later they stayed at yet another nice hotel and she once again ordered something on her phone, this time using her AmEx card…
      You guessed it. Hacked again, fraud alert, card canceled.

      Nope. Money does not necessarily make you smart and common sense is not so common.
      Dare I mention she is a strong Trump supporter, had high govt clearance, and a degree , as well? *sigh*

      1. Bittercup

        Neither of your examples quite work. Egyptian cotton, is, in fact, actual cotton. It could have been a cotton-poly blend that she had bought, but that certainly doesn’t make it some kind of “catchphrase” for polyester. If something is advertised as 100% Egyptian cotton, it is actually all cotton, although arguably overrated.

        Likewise, chances are she was not “hacked” for daring to buy things online. She probably just tripped her credit card company’s fraud system somehow, either by ordering from an unusual place, to a new address, or incorrectly remembering a phone number for credit card billings info or something.

        I’m not actually trying to get on your case here, it’s just that often when I’m judging other people for not having common sense, it turns out that I’m the one that doesn’t know what’s going on as well as I think I do.

    1. Montanamaven

      That was very sad. People hurling insults at each other. I don’t go on Twitter much and this confirms why. It’s like monkeys throwing feces rather than any kind of discussion or conversation or even exchange of info.
      “You’re ignorant”, “No, you can’t read.” “No you smell like poo.” No you do. Read the first amendment. Read the second. I’m going to boycott Montana. Good.”

  12. Plenue

    “[Luther] was genuinely, almost pathologically, convinced of his own utter sinfulness and worthlessness.”

    Ahhh, Christianity.

  13. Grumpy Engineer

    Outlawing ‘gag clauses’ in pharmacy benefit manager contracts that bar pharmacists from sharing price information with customers? Long overdue.

    Lack of pricing transparency is one of the greatest drivers of accelerating insurance premiums. It’s particularly brutal when combined with the “standard practice” of having to sign paperwork, before receiving medical treatment, where you promise that you’ll pay any charges that insurance doesn’t cover. No matter what the cost of that treatment is. And are any of those costs clearly posted so that you know what you’re getting into ahead of time? Almost never. You frequently have to enter lengthy price discussions with a hospital accountant before getting an answer. I can walk onto a third-rate used car lot with a MUCH better feel for what I’d actually pay than if I walked into a medical facility with sketchy insurance.

    The “free market” works best when complete pricing information is readily available. It’s easy to get ripped off when you’re operating in the dark.

    1. Synoia

      Almost meets the definition of “Unconscionable Advantage.”

      And that action voids contracts.

  14. curlydan

    plasma at $70/week? Uh, that’s two visits, about 6 hours, and draining your pretty dry there. I tried it once while unemployed in grad school. I got my $25 after a LONG time on one of those uncomfortable beds surrounded by my fellow destitute donors and afterwards went out bought a pack of cigarettes, a 4-pack of Old Milwaukee tall boys, and saved the rest for food. I’ve come a long way, baby!

    It’s maybe worth it once, but if you’re blood isn’t special (and most of our blood isn’t special), then there’s not much reason for going back. And they may tell you to not come back BTW. Nice try industry ghost writers!

  15. Chromex

    “Democratic political strategist and party consultant Steve Maviglio has some concerns about the new wing of the party. ‘I’m trying to think of a very polite way to say this. The thing that concerns me is that when they don’t get their way, so to speak, they act like petulant children and walk out of the room or kick sand in the sandbox. I think that’s very dangerous for the party.”
    But fixing primaries and favoring an unelectable candidate over a popular favorite , that’s jim dandy for the party?

  16. Elizabeth Burton

    The problem with electronic medical records is they don’t work, and the real danger isn’t hacking but the fact they are (a) ridiculously complex and (b) usually won’t communicate between different versions.

    This is a prime case of encouraging “competition” that creates a “cure” that’s worse than the disease. Think of the Pentagon and the situation some years back where their software couldn’t communicate with the VA’s, so vets were having problems getting health care. Same thing, only exacerbated by truly dreadful GUI designs.

    Ask the nurses.

    1. ocop

      I had a prescription refilled recently and to my surprise it was at twice the strength and contained twice the # of pills! Asked the doc about it a few months later and–quell surprise–turns out they had just made the conversion to electronic records; my case was very benign but I’m sure others were not…

      1. Oregoncharles

        Your case was only benign because you noticed the switch and acted accordingly. Would everyone?

    1. LT

      It floats housing prices at unreasonable levels until someone gets left holding the bag.
      Wash, rinse, repeat.

      And now you have people just barely getting back above water who probably have put nowhere near the amount of the current asking price into the home, but hungry to get out.

    1. ambrit

      Hold on there. Surely the Dems can impeach the “G” man for “behaviour unbecoming of a public official.”
      The Yahoo “news” story mentioned that Bernie Sanders campaigned for and with Quist. This was Quist’s first political campaign. Gianforte lost a gubernatorial race last year in Montana. It seems that money is all it takes now to become a “politico.” The “official” Dems are striving mightily to root out all signs of heresy. These “political” parties are taking on the aspects of religious cults. Time for a new “Cross of Gold” speech from someone.
      Now on to Georgia and to see if the “Republican Lite” strategy will finally work, after “experiments that failed, too many times.”

      Blue Oyster Cult nailed this one.
      Some lyrics from “Flaming Telepaths.”

      “Experiments that failed too many times,”
      “Transformations that were too hard to find.”
      “Poison’s in my bloodstream, poison’s in my pride.”
      “I’m after rebellion, I’ll settle for lies.”

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