2:00PM Water Cooler 5/26/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


‘The G-7 summit kicks off today in the Sicilian resort town of Taormina, and all eyes are on what President Donald Trump will do. The Trump administration has been largely circumspect on the policy goals it will support in a final communiqué, especially when it comes to trade and climate change. U.S. officials have so far submitted only broad talking points for the leader meeting, according to European and U.S. diplomats’ [Politico].

TTIP: ‘Trump and EU leaders on Thursday agreed to start work on a ‘joint action plan on trade’… It’s still too early to tell if the new action plan will be a way to thaw the now frozen Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations. ‘As far as the Commission is concerned, President [Jean-Claude] Juncker insisted on intensifying trade cooperation, which is a win-win situation for both sides,’ said a European Commission spokesman. Trump held a 45-minute meeting with both Juncker and European Council President Donald Tusk on Thursday. He also met for 25 minutes with representatives from EU member state delegations in Brussels, the spokesman said. ‘Overall, it was a constructive discussion — the first of more to follow,’ he added.’ [Politico]. A ‘constructive discussion’ as opposed to a ‘full and frank exchange of views,’ I suppose.

TPP: ‘Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday night acknowledged the business community’s disappointment over Trump’s decision to walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but he insisted the pact was doomed anyway. ‘Most of you have expressed reservation about our withdrawal from the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership,’ Ross said in a keynote speech at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council’s annual gala dinner at the Four Seasons Hotel. ‘But the fact is no matter who won the last election, there was simply not the political will on either side of the aisle for ratification” [Politico].



‘Mark Zuckerberg joins Silicon Valley bigwigs in calling for government to give everybody free money’ at Harvard commencement speech [CNBC]. Rather like keeping circulation going by inserting one’s catheter directly into a vein. Here’s the full transcript.

‘Mark Zuckerberg’s Great American Road Trip’ [New York Times]. ”[Zuckerberg] has all of the mechanics needed for a massive, well-staged media operation,’ said Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media watchdog group. ‘Photographers, handlers, its size, scope and scale — all the ingredients are there. And he’s appearing in an environment where there’s no sole Democratic leader or counterbalance to Trump, who’s consuming all the oxygen in media.” Media Matters isn’t a ‘nonprofit media watchdog group.’ It’s David Brock’s beard. And it’s deeply ironic that Media Matters is whinging about Trump sucking up all the oxygen as Democrats simultaneously stoke the fire with Putin Derangement Syndrome, all because they (a) can’t produce a coherent explanation of their 2016 debacle, (b) can’t produce a coherent message other than the oxygen-sucking ‘We’re not Trump,’ and (c) are doing their best to strangle the most popular (working) politician in America today, as well as (d) drive his supporters from the party. No doubt what they really want to do is put Zuckerberg at the top of the ticket. That didn’t work for Eisenhower, and is unlikely to work with Zuckerberg, who has the bucks to build a new party from scratch. I mean, why would anybody work with those clowns?

‘After watching the address, I was reminded of something Ellen Pao told me earlier this year, during an interview about Zuckerberg’s carefully orchestrated political makeover. Pao, who has become a prominent advocate for diversity and inclusion since losing a gender discrimination lawsuit against the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, argued that Zuckerberg’s new do-gooder crusade has skipped over the simplest solution. In order to change the entire tech industry, ‘He doesn’t even have to do anything outside of making Facebook inclusive,’ Pao said. ‘They admire him, they will copy him, they will change because of him.; She’s right. In speeches like the one today on campus, or the copy of the speech posted immediately after on his Facebook page, Zuckerberg is able to set the agenda for the industry over which he reigns’ [Wired].

“Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Your Friend” [Jacobin]. “Gabbard has been one of Modi’s most prominent boosters in the US. ‘He is a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected officials everywhere,’ she said of Modi in 2014.” I’m sort of stepping into a minefield here, because I have little knowledge of Modi, except for his noxious abolition of cash, which screws the poor, the working class, and small traders. I’d be interested to hear what Gabbard fans/supporters think of this article. (I read Gabbard as being a foreign policy realist, which isn’t the greatest, but is way better than being a crazypants interventionist, especially the responsibility-to-protect type. And I don’t care all that much about her family background. Roosevelt was a patrician, after all).

UPDATE Yes, there is a shame gland, and yes, it can be surgically removed:

UPDATE “Hillary Clinton’s remarkably aggressive anti-Trump speech, annotated” [WaPo]. No time to put on my waders. Readers?

Obama Legacy

‘Is Obama’s $500 Million Library Excessive?’ [247 Wall Street]. Of course not. Why, that’s less than half what Clinton’s Presidential campaign cost!


MT-AL: ‘This was a dirty, hard-fought, expensive race between two unconventional candidates. Quist attacked Gianforte, who has lived in Montana for more than 20 years, as a ‘millionaire from New Jersey’ who wanted to sell off the state’s public lands to developers. Gianforte called Quist ‘Nancy Pelosi in a cowboy hat.’ But his surrogates, and the right-wing blogosphere, used Quist’s medical records to depict the Democrat as a degenerate with a history of ‘genital herpes’ and a troubled marriage. Gianforte’s body slam of Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs was just the last low blow. And since Montana’s early voting meant that a majority of voters had already returned their ballots, the incident probably had limited impact on the final result’ [The Nation]. ‘But it’s also true that Quist, a commanding figure on stage so long as he has a banjo or a guitar, never became either an impressive debater or a fluent stump speaker. His tendency to revert to clichés about ‘standing up for Montana’ was remarked on even by friendly reporters, with Jacobs noting that Quist was ‘clearly uncomfortable discussing policy outside of broad outlines.’ Though Our Revolution endorsed him, and Sanders spent the weekend before the vote campaigning for him across Montana, Rob Quist is no Bernie Sanders.’ And:

[T]he Sanders wing of the Democratic Party needs to show that it can do more than just draw crowds and raise money—though both are of crucial importance. And the Clinton wing needs to show—by action, as well as rhetoric—that it doesn’t put holding on to power ahead of either opposing the Republican agenda or actually winning elections.

Well, er, actually, the Sanders wing does do “more than” that: It’s got the goods on policy, where Clintonites are vacuous excrementalists. But they need to put up a win, not just points on the board. (In that connection, I don’t think much of Indivisible — to me, they have the smell of Democrat astroturf, all #SaveTheACA and no #MedicareForAll, though I’d welcome disconfirmation — but at least on the Twitter, they are doing some things very well: They consistently highlight issues, they connect issues to the political calendar, they give their subscribers issue-oriented tasks, and when there’s a win — as with the AHCA going down, though not for the count — they tell their subscribers that pressure works, closing the loop. Our Revolution should consider doing that, in addition to supporting siloed races.)

MT-AL: ‘Montana is considerably redder than the average congressional district. According to Wasserman’s calculations, in an election where Democrats got 50 percent of the two-party vote nationwide, you’d expect them to get just 39 percent in Montana. Quist scored 44 percent, and with the Libertarian pulling in 6 percent, his share of the two-party vote is more like 46’ [Vox]. ‘Things aren’t as simple as saying that Rob Quist outperformed the 39 percent benchmark and therefore Democrats are on track to win — geography means Republicans can hold their majority with less than 50 percent of the vote. But the GOP underperformed badly in Montana, after a similar underperformance in the special election for Kansas’s Fourth Congressional District. To win by only 7 in Montana, a state that Trump won by 20 points, is a clear sign that seats Trump won by 4 or 5 points or more aren’t truly safe.’ The alternative explantion, though, would be that Trump’s voters aren’t there for the taking by generic Republicans, any more than Obama’s voters were there for the taking by Clinton. Suppose Trump were on the trail, as he most certainly will be in 2018. Will that affect the outcome? If — and this is a very big if — he delivers for the voters who gave him his margin of victory in 2016 — not the same as ‘the base’ — I would guess yes.

MT-AL: ‘It’s hard to say how good a result this is for Democrats. It’s tempting to look at Donald Trump’s 20-point win in the state, observe Gianforte’s six-point victory, and conclude this is a positive for Democrats. But the reality is more complicated. Montana is a quirky state that is significantly more Democratic at the congressional and state levels than at the federal level’ [RealClearPolitics].

MT-AL: “In his victory speech, Gianforte acknowledged he made a ‘mistake’ and apologized, confirming that he and his staff lied in their statement blaming Jacobs for the incident. The crowded responded by shouting, ‘You’re forgiven!'” [The Week].

MT-AL: And then there’s the Democrat Establishment, who are breathing a sigh of relief as they prepare for an enormous gush of triumphalism at the post-2016 Victory for Clintonism in GA-06:

UPDATE MT-AL Right on cue:


‘Budget wrangling is the kind of prob­lem law­makers signed up for when they ran for House or Sen­ate. Try­ing to fig­ure out wheth­er Trump is King Lear or an im­puls­ive real-es­tate mag­nate is bey­ond their ken and best left to the law­yers’ [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. ‘There is noth­ing that con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans can do about Trump’s tweets, off-the-cuff com­ments, and be­ha­vi­or seen as exot­ic for a pres­id­ent. The only some­what con­trol­lable vari­able is wheth­er they can get enough done le­gis­lat­ively that will al­low them to hold their base and a reas­on­able num­ber of in­de­pend­ents. In most con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts and states where in­cum­bent Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­ors are up for reelec­tion, that will be suf­fi­cient, with the not­able ex­cep­tion of the swing state Nevada, where Sen. Dean Heller is up for reelec­tion and will need plenty of in­de­pend­ent votes, and, to a less­er ex­tent, Re­pub­lic­an-lean­ing Ari­zona, where Sen. Jeff Flake will be on the bal­lot.’ And how that’s possible at the same time for Freedom Caucus incumbents, and non-Freedom Caucus incumbents.

Realignment and Legitimacy

‘So many of the people who voted for Donald Trump were the victims of an epic scam by a man who has built his life around scamming’ [Paul Krugman, New York Times]. ‘Will they ever realize this, and admit it to themselves? More important, will they be prepared to punish him the only way they can — by voting for Democrats?’ One would have expected even a quasi-Nobelist to have heard of inequity aversion. Apparently not. To be fair, I do see that ‘You’re deplorable, I own your vote’ has enduring appeal for liberal Democrats, but isn’t it time we looked at the win-loss chart?

I had no idea change.org was for-profit [Fortune].

Stats Watch

Corporate Profits, Q1 2017 (Preliminary): ‘Corporate profits rose 12.0 percent year-on-year’ [Econoday].

GDP, Q1 2017 (Preliminary): ‘First-quarter GDP gets a small but much needed upgrade, now at a 1.2 percent rate of annualized growth which is nearly double the advance estimate. The gain is centered where it is best, in consumer spending where the rate did double to 0.6 percent. This is still slow but is an improvement with durable goods, at minus 1.4 percent, showing less contraction and services showing greater growth, at 0.8 percent’ [Econoday]. ‘But the second-quarter outlook, which was once very positive, is mostly in question following a run of weak data for April including this morning’s durable goods report. And the first-quarter is a little less of an easy comparison now for the second quarter where early estimates, once as high as 3 and 4 percent, have been coming down to the 2 percent area.’ Obviously, we need tax cuts. And: ‘this was still the weakest gain for over 3 years as durable goods spending declined’ [Economic Calendar]. And: ‘This was above the consensus forecast’ [Calculated Risk]. And but: ‘Relatively, the consumer remained limp, and GDP is gamed with inventory hocus-pocus and export-import adjustments. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter method of measuring GDP (as it exaggerates error) – and my year-over-year preferred method shows no change in the rate of growth from last quarter’ [Econintersect].

Durable Goods Orders, April 2017: ‘Yet another piece of the second-quarter puzzle is not favorable. Durable goods orders, down 0.7 percent in April, do not confirm the month’s big jump in industrial production nor all the strength in the regional factory reports’ [Econoday]. ‘Aircraft is not a factor in today’s report as the ex-transportation reading is also negative, at minus 0.4 percent which is well below Econoday’s low estimate. Also below the estimate are orders for core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) which came in unchanged following a downward revised unchanged reading in March.’

Consumer Sentiment, May 2017 (Final): ‘Consumer sentiment is holding steady at optimistic levels’ [Econoday]. ‘This report continues to cite strong political polarization in its sample: Republicans and Independents optimistic and Democrats pessimistic. The report suggests that this divide reflects economic preferences and will likely stay in place at least until economic policies under the Trump administration begin to unfold. Confidence readings, both for the consumer and businesses, have been very strong this year but have yet to give much boost to actual spending or investment.’

Commodities: ‘Canadian mining maverick [Frank Giustra]’s latest target is a subterranean patch of red earth in southwestern Mexico. In January his new undertaking, Leagold Mining Corp., bought the Los Filos mine from Goldcorp Inc. for $350 million. It wasn’t the open pits churning out 200,000-plus ounces of the precious metal that caught this attention — it was the untapped deposit stretching for roughly 600 meters below’ [Mining.com]. ‘Giustra now spends about 20 percent of his time trying to grow his wealth across a slew of interests ranging from an Italian olive estate whose oils have been voted among the planet’s best, to Thunderbird, the film production company behind the upcoming Blade Runner sequel. The bulk of Giustra’s time is spent trying to give money away in partnership with Bill Clinton, a close pal, and George Soros.’

Commodities: ‘Shares in Mexico-focused First Majestic Silver Corp. were slightly down Wednesday morning after the company revealed a group of unionized workers halted activities and blocked accesses at La Encantada silver mine’ [Mining.com]. ‘The Canadian miner said the illegal labour action was in response to the company’s recently announced bonus offer in lieu of profit sharing, which is backed by the country’s national union of miners, metallurgists and steelworkers.’

Retail: ‘Best Buy is beefing up its e-commerce offerings and tapping into other trends, like renting out floor space to brands and offering in-home consultations. But it’s also luring shoppers with age-old retail tactics, like matching online prices in stores, and offering hot items like the Nintendo Switch, which can be tough to track down online. Selling expensive, hard-to-ship items like appliances also helps. Analysts say Best Buy is succeeding because it took painful steps like lowering prices years ago, before online competitors could steal too many of their customers. That puts the retailer in a better position than most brick-and-mortar counterparts, though these strategies will be tested as Amazon.com Inc. makes a push into appliances’ [Wall Street Journal]. So far, in Bangor, Macy’s is dead, but Best Buy survives….

Retail: ‘There Aren’t Enough Slaughterhouses to Support the Farm-to-Table Economy’ [Bloomberg]. ‘Despite ever-increasing customer demand for noncommodity meat, there aren’t enough slaughterhouses to keep up. It’s a major hitch in the supply chain—keeping supplies down, prices up, and making the already grueling job of farming even harder.’ If we could get robots doing this, they could be doing surgery in a decade or so. I smell business model!

Shipping: ‘Calais reports record cross-Channel freight’ [Lloyd’s Loading]. ‘The Port of Calais has posted its best-ever quarter for cross-Channel freight with a total of 507,850 HGVs transiting the French port during the first three months of the year, an increase of 11.2% on the same period in 2016. In March, a new record was also set for monthly truck throughput… The upturn in Calais’ freight traffic dates back to autumn 2016 and followed the dismantling of the ‘Jungle’ migrant camp….’ Gather ye rosebuds while ye may….

Shipping: ‘Abe Lincoln: Riverboat builder?’ [WorkBoat]. This is interesting, and an unexpected find in a trade journal for commercial marine professionals, especially those involved in inland waterways. Rather cheering, and worth a read.

Shipping: ‘The strong lift in freight rates in the first quarter of 2017 may have delivered on the promises a bit early, as the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) now finds itself below the 1,000 mark again. Despite better market conditions in 2017, compared to same period last year, we at BIMCO emphasise the need for continuous handling of the supply side in the dry bulk shipping industry. To keep further fleet growth at bay, the demolition activity must return to levels seen in the first half of 2016, together with an increasing focus on keeping slow steaming around’ [Splash 247]. Shipbreaking and slow steaming are a winning combination!

Supply Chain: ‘Talking about the Silk Road gives Chinese the opportunity to hear and to tell positive stories about their nation’s history and character. It gives them a “usable past,” offering an enlightened, progressive heritage to counter the colonial vision of China as backward and the Maoist repudiation of the imperial past. It reminds the world of China’s technological dominance before the Industrial Revolution and frames that history not as one of relative decline — why the West grew rich and China didn’t—but as evidence of persisting national strengths’ [Bloomberg].

The Bezzle: ‘Uber’s biggest employee problems are pay and pride, not sexism, says HR boss’ [CNBC]. So that’s alright then.

Political Risk: ‘Markets Today Are Radically Different Than What We Believe – We Have the Façade of Competition’ [Pro-Market]. ”The invisible hand of competition,’ [Harvard’s Ariel] Ezrachi argued, has been replaced by a ‘digitized hand,’ controlled and ‘easily manipulated’ by corporations. ‘It looks very much like what you will see when you go to a market, and yet it can be changed by a few clicks. It can be manipulated. In essence, it brings us to the Truman Show: a reality where everything looks wonderful, [where] you will have the opportunity to live a quite comfortable life, but the one that actually generates the value, the one that benefits from it, is whomever controls the little bubble that was created for you.”

Five Horsemen: ‘Alphabet is up 11.58% in the last 30 days’ [Hat Tip Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May26

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Greed (previous close: 57, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated May 26 at 11:28am

Seven. Mr. Market happy with Trump’s foreign adventures?

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

‘[Matthew Crawford] was prompted to write [The World Beyond Your Head] by a profound sense of unease over how the ‘attentional commons’ was being hijacked by advertising and digital media. One day, he was paying for groceries using a credit card. He swiped the card on the machine and waited for a prompt to enter his details to appear on the screen. He was surprised to find that he was shown advertisements while he waited for the prompt. Somebody had decided that this moment — the moment between swiping your card and inputting your details — was a moment when they had a captive audience and that they could capitalise on it. Crawford noticed that these intrusions into our attentional commons were everywhere. We live, after all, in an attentional economy, where grabbing and holding someone’s attention is highly prized’ [Philosophical Disquisitions].

Our Famously Free Press

‘Nearly half (40%) of millennials use the news feed at Facebook Inc.’s social media site as their source for news. That’s far higher than the percentage that uses Twitter (16%) or Instagram (4%). All other news sites garnered the remaining 40%’ [247 Wall Street]. That is, 40% of millenials filter have their news filtered for them by a ginormous, global oligopoly whose CEO is making moves like he’s running for President. What could go wrong?

Health Care

‘Almost across the board, government solutions are cheaper’ [Matthew Yglesias, Vox]. Hoo boy.

Dear Old Blighty

“Corbyn: We have to admit ‘war on terror’ is not working” [Al Jazeera]. “I had transgressed the unwritten law.”

News of the Wired

‘Slave, scholar, stoic’ [Medieval manuscripts blog]. ‘The early Christian theologian Origen (d. 253/4) claimed that Epictetus’s owner broke his leg, a situation Epictetus reportedly handled with logic and wit: [W]hen [Epictetus’s] master was twisting his leg, Epictetus said, smiling and unmoved, ‘You will break my leg.’ When it was broken, he added, ‘I told you so.”

“From Digital Ink to Paper Print: the making of a travel guidebook” [The Longest Way Home]. Super interesting and inspiring, especially for friends of Nepal.

‘#BuyTwitter shareholder push fails, but supporters hold out hope’ [San Francisco Chronicle (DB)]. ‘Supporters had expected that result. They had been less sure about whether the proposal would hit the 3 percent threshold. If it did, the measure would be allowed to be resubmitted next year. In fact, the aptly hashtagged #BuyTwitter initiative got 4 percent of shareholder votes, according to Jim McRitchie, the shareholder advocate who got the measure on the ballot.’

* * *

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: “The gorse (?) at Royal St. David’s Golf Course in Harlech, Wales. The Snowdonian National Park mountains are in the background. Can’t keep nature too far away from this old course, developed in the 1880’s.” If that’s the rough, it’s actually rough, unlike manicured American so-called golf courses.

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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. petrel

    From the link on Epictetus:

    “Epictetus’s teachings still resonate today. ‘It is difficulties that show what men are’, according to his Discourses. In the Enchiridion, he noted that ‘These reasonings are unconnected: “I am richer than you; therefore I am better.” “I am more eloquent than you; therefore I am better.” The connection is rather this: “I am richer than you; therefore my property is greater than yours.” “I am more eloquent than you; therefore my style is better than yours.” But you, after all, are neither property nor style.’”

    I’m sure Epictetus would have had something to say about “My political resume is bigger, therefore I am better,” an argument that Hillary Clinton is still making.

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      I am reminded of an alleged exchange between F. Scott Fitzgerald who said, “The rich are different from you and me,” and Ernest Hemingway who replied, “Yes. They have more money.”

    2. John k

      She might elaborate:
      “I’ve made more mistakes than anybody alive, and most that are dead.”

  2. Jim Haygood

    Montana is a quirky state that is significantly more Democratic at the congressional and state levels than at the federal level.‘ — RealClearPolitics

    Eh, I thought Congress WAS the ‘federal level.’ Although if it’s been hived off and named for a corporate sponsor — e.g. “The Facebook Houses of Congress” — it might get a new lease on life relevance.

    1. Montanamaven

      Thanks, Jim, I remarked the same thing. Real Clear Politics isn’t real clear. The House and Senate are Federal offices. Montanans like to balance those and they try to have at least one of the three be of the other party. Right now it’s Democrat Jon Tester, REpublican Senator Daines and Republican House member Zinke. When I moved here, it was Senators Democrat Baucus, REpublican Conrad Burns, and House REp, Pat Williams. On the state legislature level,it is really cray cray and they want somebody they can influence or actually armtwist and it has been mostly Republican controlled or evenly divided. And at the Governor/Attorney General level , they want somebody who is smart and won’t challenge the no sales tax deal or hunting and fishing on public lands. That’s why Gianforte lost to Bullock.
      My take: Quist was not so great at campaigning. No skills and no passion for an issue like single payer or did not know how to seize the moment.. Didn’t come off as super smart in terms of hitting Bernie’s talking points.

      1. lambert strether

        Yep. Quist wasn’t strong on policy.* Who knew that would be important?

        * That is, policies that people actually understand and want, where the benefits are easy to see, as opposed to a zillion teeny incremental talking points that all hinge some some means test or other so you can prove yourself worthy of whatever meagre portion of gruel will ultimately be grudgingly doled out.

      2. lambert strether

        Yep. Quist wasn’t strong on policy.* Who knew that would be important?

        * That is, policies that people actually understand and want, where the benefits are easy to see, as opposed to a zillion teeny incremental talking points that all hinge some some means test or other so you can prove yourself worthy of whatever meagre portion of gruel will ultimately be grudgingly doled out.

  3. Marco

    Atrios and “The 2016 Primary Will Never End”. Mr “increase” Social Security himself displays a feebleness of mind approaching Kos.

    1. Marco


      And that colossal screw-up of losing to Trump was not our fault? Bygones!?!?

  4. ProNewerDeal

    suggestion: create an “elevator pitch” ~60 sec talk for calling the US Rep office for a Rep not supporting HR676 MedicareForAll, or for the US Sen office not supporting the supposed Sanders HR676-ish bill.

    My US Rep is 1 of the now-minority D faction that has NOT cosigned HR676.

    I’d like to hit these points, & back any stats with the source (e.g Harvard Public Health Profs’ study in 20XX in Y journal, etc), so that the US Rep staffer lackey, perhaps an ignorant, non-critical thinker, unearned smug arrogant bathed in D Establishment groupthink can’t dismiss me as a “Fake News” moron.

    1 The ~45K USians/year death toll for not having Canada-style MedicareForAll

    2 Fact that Canada receives superior health outcomes (~3 yrs life expectancy, etc) at lower cost (US ~17% GDP on health, CAN 11%; median adult net worth US$38K in US vs US$80K in CAN, related to US extortionate health cost).

    3 MedicareForAll is Constitutional. 58% of USians & 75% of D voters support it. Thus if US is the “Greatest Democracy” it claims to be & if Rep X is the great politician he claims to be, Rep X will respect the pro-HR676 Voters’ Policy Preference & cosign HR676.

    4 I voted for HR676 in the Nov 2016 election. (Carrot & Stick statement): If you cosign HR676, I will vote for you in Nov 2018. If you do NOT, I will vote AND volunteer for your primary challenger, & should you win that I will vote for the Green candidate or ANYONE BUT Rep X in the Nov 2018 election.

    I have little experience in calling my elected pol’s office. I’d look forward to any of your opinion on how to make said call. Big thanks & Cheers!

    1. JohnnyGL

      Looks good to me.

      My approach was simpler. Support HR676 because it is the RIGHT thing to do.

      I also personalized it. “My employer provides me with awful health insurance coverage. I got an ambulance bill for $3000 for a 5 mile trip when it was an emergency and I couldn’t get up off the floor. My insurance is useless and says the provider is “out of network” and won’t do anything. Only medicare for all will fix this problem. Please do the right thing and support it.”

    2. Vatch

      Try to keep your phone call short, and be polite. Include a short name of the bill (“Medicare for All” or “Expanded & Improved Medicare For All Act”) and the bill’s number “HR676”. A short personal anecdote is great. Give the person on the other end of the phone call the chance to ask you for your name, zip code, email address, or whatever.

      The number of co-sponsors is up to 112:


      1. John k

        Not a single rep, so no chance. Wonder how many dems would welsh if it ever became possible.
        Granted, gotta start somewhere, and it is moving in the right direction.
        But where’s Bernie? Why not just copy the house bill?

        1. Vatch

          But where’s Bernie? Why not just copy the house bill?

          Good suggestion. I saw an article recently that said his bill would be introduced some time in the summer. Sorry, I don’t have a link.

    3. lambert strether

      As the needle slowly shifts to single payer in the wonkistocracy, two questions emerge from those quarters:

      1) Tax impact (which boils down to how much, and how to sell it. MMTers have the correct perspective here, but that needs to break through, a huge missed opportunity by Sanders and the left generally).

      2) Unemployment impact*, which means what happens to all the people who work for the health insurance industry? (Which is rather like asking what happens to the prison guards when we end the carceral state?) Of course, it’s not a good faith question, since the wonks in question never evince concern for working people in any other context, but that’s no reason not to address it, especially for the left.

      These are good points, though.

      * Here again, the MMTers have the answer with a Jobs Guarantee.

      1. Vatch

        Some of the newly unemployed would be hired by the federal government to help manage the newly expanded Medicare system.

  5. George Phillies

    “GOP underperformed badly in Montana” As some readers know, the winner for Congress ran for Governor a few years back and lost by four points. This time, with the same electorate and turnout, he won by six points. He appears to have done this in some part by tying himself to Trump on a regular basis. There is a possible lesson here, which liberal triumphalism is unlikely to notice.

    1. darthbobber

      He did not “run for governor a few years back”. He ran for governor in the November, 2016 General Election, a few months back, with Trump heading the ticket, and lost. But he lost to a fairly popular incumbent democratic governor, not to a somewhat inarticulate political newcomer with issues of his own. So I don’t think the possible lesson you’d like to infer works, either.

  6. craazyboy

    ‘Is Obama’s $500 Million Library Excessive?’

    Yobs! Armies of janitors, security cops, and parking meter maids!

    This is just the residual after the initial much needed jump start to Chicago’s infrastructure biz – mucho yobs for dangerous work, and white collar jobs for accountants and tax avoidance workers. Oftentimes this can be 30% of the workforce, given enough money!

    I think they should be a good example for re-cycling and wallpaper the place with e-mail printouts. You can get the colorful stationary kind. That would be pretty.

    They have the expertise in re-cycling – just follow the “Putin did it” model.

    Obama can pose for a macho looking statue where he has sword raised in hand and bellows a challenge calling Putin to a duel. Plaque says, ” Not Me For WW3!”

    1. allan

      Obama Foundation Raises Record $13.1 Million

      Fundraising for the Obama Foundation surged last year, totaling $13.1 million. This is the most the foundation has raised since its founding in 2014, according to government-required Forms 990 for nonprofits released by the foundation last Monday. …

      Most of last year’s donations were collected from a small group of loyal supporters, and nine donations were worth $1 million or more.

      Among the biggest donors are Fay Hartog-Levin, former Obama administration ambassador to the Netherlands and a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School, and Louis Susman, former ambassador to Great Britain, along with their spouses. Each couple pledged $1 million. …

      I think Zephyr Teachout has a name for this.

      1. polecat

        I was viewing the ‘conceptual illustrations’ of the Obama Mausoleum .. I mean .. presidential library …. and was struck with a vision of Capt. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy beaming down to a desolate ruin where a deranged cult of obamabots worshiped a gypsum sculpture shaped like a drone ….. while at war with a green race of Kekians !

          1. allan

            There’s a video with some simulated flybys at the O Foundation (and you can also stop by the tip box to make a donation). They decided to use the `prestige’ architectural team of Billie Tsien and Tod Williams. Tsien and Williams also designed the new $100 million performing arts center at UChicago nearby, which had some structural integrity issues,
            so it will be interesting to see how well the Mausoleum Center holds up.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s a great link. Makes the logrolling and backscratching almost visible.

        The foundation also puts a significant amount of money toward legal services, and developing the civic-minded message Obama envisions for the library. The foundation paid $838,568 for Chicago lawyer Katten Muchin Rosenman’s legal services, and $532,848 for work from Blue State Digital, the marketing and communications firm that worked on Obama’s 2012 campaign and Google’s Take Action and Impact initiatives.

        “Civic-minded message.” Ka-ching.

    2. John k

      Can’t imagine a better use for 500 mil in this country, we’re already so great.

  7. ProNewerDeal

    I posted a comment/question on HR676 both yesterday & today in the 2p Water Cooler post. Both times the comment failed to post. I just want to check if there is some problem with my ability to post an comment. Cheers

      1. ProNewerDeal

        Thank you Lambert, for the manual fishing of said comment. Have a great weekend.

      2. UserFriendly

        I’ve notice skynet got a bit more aggressive lately… Especially when mentioning a certain country that the democrats have been blaming everything on.

  8. barrisj

    I have a very queasy feeling indeed that this new, “public” Marky Mark is out there laying down the groundwork for the frequently mentioned “run for president” in 2020 as a prelude to a serious 2024 effort. As bad as mainstream “centrist” Democrats are, this chappie, a callow, post-adolescent dilettante, stuffed full of SV entitlement and tens of billions of dollars in personal wealth, is truly scary. Whatever he may say at uni commencements, or TED talks, his own personal conduct as an influential resident of both Palo Alto and San Francisco speaks volumes about “caring”. And his megalomaniacal “vision” of Facebook is enough to put off anyone interested in privacy rights, let alone the dangers of a pervasive, monopolistic panopticon. Eff off, Zuckerberg, we’re not buying.

    1. Art Eclectic

      Heh, this country just elected Donald Trump. The bar has been lowered enough that Zuck probably has a strong chance. He’ll have the same claim to not-bought-and-paid-for that Trump leveraged so well. Not that it matters since everybody else in Washington is bought-and-paid-for and they hold the purse strings.

      1. craazyboy

        Nah. I think we see major “coastal democrat shrinkage.” Too nerdy, plus the wimens vote dontchaknow. The Harvard sex gossip website will come out in the news, again!

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Republicans elected Donald Trump, and Democrats put up someone who received a fair amount of emotional goodwill from the 90’s.

        The Democratic and Republican electorates are different. The candidate of young people was a 73 year old Jewish, self described socialist from Vermont. Sanders isn’t wealthy. His work history is weird.

        1. UserFriendly

          Millennials aren’t sheep. They will be suspicious of news from fb about how awesome Zuck is. I don’t know a single millennial that would support any D that Bernie didn’t endorse. Which is why I REALLY hope Warren doesn’t run. She’s ‘good enough’ as far as Bernie cares but not even close for me.

      3. jrs

        it makes one think the ethics of one’s business dealings are not a prime voter concern because afterall we did get Trump …

        But one still might need to be a little bit likable as a personality to get elected … even Trump was that, to some.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Right…then again Trump ran against Jeb and Hillary…so…Trump is the natural progression from there. Being outside the system dominated by those two families helped, but Trump isn’t unique.

          There are clips from Zuck’s Harvard commencement speech or eighth grade graduation speech I can’t tell considering he discusses Harry Potter. Read another book people.

  9. LT

    Zuckerberg and friends calling for govt to give free money?
    How about paying people on Facebook, it’s content providers, for their services?
    And on top of that all of the Surveillicon data divers can pay people, including retroactively, everythime they sell information to a thrid party. And throw in those credit reporting agencies in to contribute back pay.

    Why keep subsidizing private profits? They want the gov’t to subisidize instead of PAYING people themselves. Step up privatizers..

  10. jp

    Lambert, what happened to the post about Rauner’s hedge funds losses from this morning? I wanted to cross post it to FB, but it seems to have disappeared. governor-bruce-rauners-private-equity-funds-bad-deal-illinois

    1. Yves Smith

      I trashed it. was based on an article that referenced a page on the Illinois State Retirement Board website that was misleading to the point that two people who used to run PE for state funds commented on it. One called the reporting “poor” and the other called it “incomplete accounting”. The table despite having labels that suggested otherwise appears not to include interim cash distributions (which raises the question why you’d rank order it, since the basis for the ranking was a meaningless figure).

      The reason I didn’t think further is that so much effort goes into making PE look better than it is at most pension funds that I didn’t question a report on returns that made it look lousy. But I should have poked further, since a 1994 fund showed a 90% loss, which would seem inconceivable for a fund manager that raised later funds (unless it had been a pretty small specialized fund like a biotech or emerging markets fund, which this wasn’t, and even then it would still take a lot of ‘splaining).

  11. Stephen Tynan

    “I had transgressed the unwritten law.”

    Bwahahahahaha. “So he nailed me head to a coffee table…”

  12. LT

    As for Zucker’s presidential run, remember to act surprised when a “grassroots” movement insists that he run.
    It’s in the script already.

      1. clarky90

        Prof Clanton specialized in Ethics.

        Former Calif. professor arrested in ‘violent’ bike lock attacks on Trump supporters


        “Eric Clanton, a former adjunct professor of philosophy at Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, was arrested in Oakland on three counts of suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon that isn’t a firearm and assault causing great bodily injury…

        ..arrested in connection with using a U-shaped bicycle lock to violently attack several people during an April pro-Trump rally in Berkeley, California.”

        Eric Clanton was on the ANTIFA side. His head, face and eyes were covered, but he was identified by 4chan from the videos of the attacks.

        Here is an interesting (from my POV) rundown of the story.

        The Bikelock Fugitive of Berkeley

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Yes but will he garner the LOTE vote? The established parties can be counted on to run slightly different flavors of fascist billionaire-bought kleptocrats. If MZ can work to avoid the “fascist” label, and talk about some non-klepto policies, people may see him as the least objectionable billionaire.
          And he can do all of the above simply by tweaking news feeds, likes, and cross-posts, without having to genuflect to Madison Ave, or outsmart Mad.Ave like The Orange Man did.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The Rock will be President before Zuck. Mark Warner is a good example. He has a certain amount of charisma, won in a formerly Red State in 2001 a mere two months after 9/11 against the Republican Commonwealth Attorney General, and was elected in 2008 to the Senate with the highest percentage of the vote. He invested money into cell phones. WOW! His DNC speech was just embarrassing. In the last election, he squeaked by against a dink like Ed Gillespie, largely because of panic about losing the Senate. Zuck has the potential of our richest Senator Mark Warner which is limited to winning a state where there is no Democratic party.

      In this age of wealth inequality, there is no market for a nominal left of center billionaire politician. FDR didn’t run for President out of the gate.

      The Republicans love that businessman style, hence Trump, but it won’t fly with the Democratic electorate especially for someone who isn’t involved in Democratic politics.

      1. Art Eclectic

        A whole lot of people (myself included) a year ago said No (familyblog)ing way does Donald Trump end up president. All bets are off at this point.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I’m not one of those people. I knew Hillary was weak and have a low opinion of Republican voters. They’ll vote for anyone. Mittens had 61 million votes. McCain/Palin had 59 million votes.

          I didn’t think Hillary could under perform Kerry, but I’m not shocked by Republicans loyally voting for Trump.

          On top of the loyalty of Republican voters, Trump wouldn’t irritate the anti-Versailles sentiment the way Hillary or a more connected Republican would.

          1. Art Eclectic

            You can say no eff’n way Zuck all day long, but the fact is that none of us knows what the political landscape is going to look like after Trump is done burning it down. I think 2020 is a free-for-all that will make the Republican clown-car of 2016 look respectable. The real question is will Kanye run Dem or Rep?

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Politics is still retail.

              There still needs to be a market. Shallow billionaires don’t fit the left of center marketplace. They fit the right, and despite Trump’s apparent crassness, he fit enough GOP archetypes to win.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        One thing we can be sure of: Every strategist and consultant and grifter in the Beltway — sorry for the redundancy — is lining up for a piece of Zuck’s action. And the line probably isn’t very orderly.

      3. Praedor

        I’ll take “The Rock” over any GOPtard or ANY establishment Dem, hands down. Zuckerbug doesn’t even register to me. Goddamned self fellating hipster.

    2. RabidGandhi

      I saw Kalanick offer him a crown;–yet ’twas not a crown
      neither, ’twas one of those thumbs up symbols;–and, as I told
      you, he put it by once: but, for all that, to my
      thinking, he would fain have had it. Then he
      offered it to him again; then he put it by again:
      but, to my thinking, he was very loath to lay his
      fingers off it. And then he offered it the third
      time; he put it the third time by: and still as he
      refused it, the Acela Riders hooted and clapped their
      chapped hands and threw up their iPhones
      and uttered such a deal of stinking breath because
      Zuckerburg refused the crown that it had almost choked
      Zuckerburg; for he swounded and fell down at it: and
      for mine own part, I durst not laugh, for fear of
      opening my lips and receiving the deplorable air.

      1. fresno dan

        May 26, 2017 at 4:06 pm

        pretty d*mn witty. I had to look up Kalanick – nice touch!

  13. LT

    “That is, 40% of millenials filter have their news filtered for them by a ginormous, global oligopoly whose CEO is making moves like he’s running for President. What could go wrong?”

    People tend leave corporations out of the authoritarian or fascism equations – trained and “educated” to do so. The situation is a programming that came over with the corporate sponsored colonists.

  14. Tim

    ‘But the fact is no matter who won the last election, there was simply not the political will on either side of the aisle for ratification”

    I love how they always put it in terms like those in power are the ones in complete control. (never grant credibility to the electorate by acknowledging them)

    I’d much prefer Wilbur said “The American public told us to tell you to go to H%^&!”

    1. FidderHill

      No, sorry, Taibbi remains in thrall to some version of the Democratic Party that is either naive or willfully blind. He laments their writing off a large chunk of voters as lost deplorables, then adds:

      “Barack Obama, for all his faults, never gave in to that mindset. He continually insisted that the Democrats needed to find a way to reach lost voters. Even in the infamous “guns and religion” episode, this was so. Obama then was talking about the challenge the Democrats faced in finding ways to reconnect with people who felt ignored …”

      Obama, as most NC readers already recognize, may have wanted the votes of these poor put-upon losers. But he sure as hell wasn’t interested in genuinely looking after their interests while in office. THAT is precisely why voters have deserted the Democrats — because of the kind of hypocrisy Obama perfected. For Taibbi to be holding up Obama as an example of how the Democrats can again become winners and relevant is ludicrous.

  15. Tim

    “One would have expected even a quasi-Nobelist to have heard of inequity aversion. ”

    I read the link.
    Does it really take evolution to decide that if your being screwed you should probably stop playing the game?

    I find it odd that logical thought is considered a construct of evolution. I would only consider non-logical thought (cognitive biases) as a construct of evolution.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I find it odd that logical thought is considered a construct of evolution.

      Why? Isn’t logical thought adaptive? Or, in some environments, maladaptive?

  16. SpringTexan

    I think Tulsi Gabbard means well and is principled, but is bad news. So I kind of agree. Not the right person to be any sort of flagbearer. And the stuff with Assad bothered me profoundly.

    1. hunkerdown

      It bothers you that she would dare to buck the corporate reality-creation that the Democrat party engages in on an ongoing basis? Can you unpack that a little more for us?

      1. HBE

        Spring Texan regularly posted joyful comments during the height of the Syrian proxy war, whenever the Saudi and US hired extremist mercenaries defeated the Syrian gov forces, especially during the siege of Aleppo.

        Hope that helps unpack.

        1. JohnnyGL

          apologies for the sloppy link/embed…this is Rep. Gabbard echoing Senator Warren’s criticism of Secretary Mnuchin’s BS wording about supporting Glass/Steagall, but NOT being in favor of breaking up big banks.

          Rep. Tulsi Gabbard gets most issues right. I think this is a good “purity” test question. Yes, she shouldn’t be saying pleasant words about Al-Sisi or Modi, but she gets most issues right. That’s enough for me.

          P.S. She hasn’t yelled about “Russia” and “Putin” like an idiot. That’s gotta count for something. She also took a big political risk by endorsing Senator Sanders over Clinton. Wikileaks emails showed she paid a political price for that. She’s got more courage than Senator Warren, it seems. That’s gotta count for something.

          1. darthbobber

            Though IN HER DISTRICT, the Sanders support was purely a winner. In the Hawaii presidential preference poll, it was Sanders more than 25,000 to Clinton 10,000.

            In the caucuses he wound up with 19 delegates. Clinton got 13 because 8 of the 10 superdelegates chose to ignore the results of the preference poll.

            Gabbard also faced a primary challenge from a woman who was a Sanders delegate and framed herself as a challenger from the left. I don’t know how accurate that framing was. In terms of her LOCAL power base, being loudly pro-Sanders was purely a plus for Gabbard. Its effect on her national standing is another matter, but if you’re a member of the house any possible national aspirations you might have are dependent on holding your District.

            1. johnnygl

              Sanders smoked clinton in a lot of states, especially west of the mississippi river. Most major figures in the dem party still stuck by clinton, often under pressure from their constituents. Gabbard jumped on the bernie train very early, before most primaries.

              Again, she took a real political risk there.

    2. darthbobber

      Well, I certainly won’t base my ultimate view on Gabbard on where she stands regarding the internal political affairs of India. The Jacobin piece is correct about the shallowness of her views on terrorism, but then, as they point out, its not particularly worse than Obama’s. I’m curious as to whether there’s perchance a substantial Desi community in her district that shares her views.

      As rising stars go, she’s already earned the undying enmity of the Clintonite hardcore, and whizzes like Tanden want a primary challenge to her over her failure to tow the “evil Assad” line.

      She’s not the ideal candidate I’d build in my basement laboratory, but she may well be better than anything else on offer in the year 2020.

      As to the domestic policy parts of the article, the author is stretching to find tangible problems on the issues.

    3. sid_finster

      Liberal on regulation, opposed to war on principle, moderately conservative socially. Not an identity politics warrior.

      Sounds like me.

  17. SpringTexan

    And Narendra Modi is JUST as disgusting as the Jacobin article indicates, a dangerous hater ethnically who has done awful policies. So, yes, let’s get off the Tulsi Gabbard train. Let her be a rep, but not any sort of leader. No, as the article notes, she’s not all bad. But should NOT be a rising star — not at ALL.

    1. JB

      Understandable position, but who does that leave as “rising stars”? If you’re in the Bernie Sanders camp, there are a limited number of viable options. Bernie is 75 years old, he won’t be around forever, so supporters of his policies need to cultivate someone who can eventually carry the torch. Perhaps Tulsi can have a change of heart on certain issues.

      1. UserFriendly

        I’ve got my fingers crossed Nina Turner wins Ohio’s Governor race coming up. She’s indicated she is interested and it would be a tough race but if she pulled it off she would be the clear Bernie inheriting favorite. She is much more ideologically aligned with Bernie than anyone else that endorsed him. She’s the only one I can picture appointing someone with an MMT background.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Turner strikes me more as a legislator. The governor is an executive. Does she have the seasoning for that?

          Don’t get me wrong, I think Turner’s terrific, which is exactly why I want her in winning situations.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Turner can get out in front of an issue, multiple issues (sorry Warren), and executives do get staffs to handle many organizational issues. The executive officers do have to communicate to more than the hometown crowd. Whether its Wasilla or Brooklyn, there are people who cant talk to people outside their home district. I’ve seen enough legislators to know most can’t do this. Turner can.

            The only issue is can she be the bad guy. The governor does pick winner and lovers by virtue of being the governor. Can she tell her “friend the state senator” their legislation is on the back burner because her primary opponent is right about issue X all these years? Not everyone can be a villain especially when they know the people involved.

    2. readerOfTeaLeaves

      I’m on the Gabbard train, and fully intend to remain on it.
      She should absolutely be a rising star — the fact that you’ve appeared to smear her makes me think that she’s a threat to those who want us to remain blind, stupid, ignorant, and bungling.

        1. readerOfTeaLeaves

          Point well taken.
          Thanks, Lambert.

          I suppose that with all ‘The Crazy’ in politics these days, I overreacted.
          Appreciate the reality check.

    3. Massinissa

      Yeah, I’m not a huge fan of Tulsi, but if not Tulsi then who? Shes the only person around who is marginally on the left other than Sanders, and hes in his 70s. There are no other progressive ‘rising stars’. They don’t actually exist yet.

  18. John Wright

    RE: big brother is watching you.

    I was at a IoT trade show/conference a few weeks ago in Silicon Valley.

    One of the presenters was an Uber employee.

    His pitch was that an average Uber ride took 20 minutes and the customers were doing stuff like looking out the window.

    He suggested that outside content provider companies would be able to send content to the Uber customer during these 20 minutes. These content providers could know the Uber rider’s destination and route and pitch targeting advertising/suggestions in real-time.

    Of course, this is subject to the customers granting permission and leaving their smart phone on during the ride.

    I’m concerned that on-line advertising will continue increasing in volume and intensity as it pursues the tapped-out consumer.

    I’m old enough to remember the “Make America Beautiful” campaign of Lady Bird Johnson that resulted in the removal of many roadside billboards.

    Who is going to do this for on-line targeted advertising?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This is Philip K. Dick stuff.

      I suggest projecting advertisements onto the windows.

      Adding, New York cabs now have their own little TVs. Fortunately, there’s a power button, so my first move is always to turn it off. Why on earth would a tiny little screen be more interesting than New York itself?!

      1. SomeClark

        Cabs in Las Vegas, too. Loud. My wife asked for it to be turned off, and the driver said thanks, and that he’s not allowed to turn it off unless the customer asks.

        Come to the off world colonies!

    1. aletheia33

      >would mark zuckerberg of facebook actually run?<

      yes, he would "run", but not in the usual sense.

      the "election" will proceed with new "voting technology".

      and we might need a new word for "silicon valley techno-(family blog)-hole squillionaire installs self as ceo of usa, inc. (empire slightly past its prime but still generating profit)."

      also it may not be him but some other silicon valley techno-(family blog)-hole squillionaire.

    2. voteforno6

      One of the beat reporters for the Washington Nationals is named Mark Zuckerman…he already has a lot of fun re-tweeting stuff that people throw at him, thinking that he’s Mark Zuckerberg. A presidential run might crash his Twitter page.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve long dreamed of a parallel voting system (Gene Sharp Non-Violent Method of Protest and Persuasion #198 (the last): “Dual sovereignty and parallel government.”

      But I always pictured the parallel system as locally based (hopefully with paper ballots).

      It now occurs to me it would be horridly easy to organize such a thing through Facebook: Just count the likes. A Facegroup “Draft Zuck” page would, of course, emerge in a highly spontaneous manner. Zuck might even try to shut it down, but would, at last, be forced to reluctantly concede to the popular will…

      Of course, this is irresponsible speculation. I would really, really like to be wrong.

  19. allan

    Tillerson declines to host Ramadan event at State Department [Reuters]

    Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has declined a request to host an event to mark Islam’s holy month of Ramadan, two U.S. officials said, apparently breaking with a bipartisan tradition in place with few exceptions for nearly 20 years.

    Since 1999, Republican and Democratic secretaries of state have nearly always hosted either an iftar dinner to break the day’s fast during Ramadan or a reception marking the Eid al-Fitr holiday at the end of the month, at the State Department.

    Tillerson turned down a request from the State Department’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs to host an Eid al-Fitr reception as part of Ramadan celebrations, said two U.S. officials who declined to be identified because they were not authorized to speak publicly. …

    Hard men don’t do soft power.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the first post on the search results page, this is just sad:

      That didn’t make Peterson a progressive and not even the dullest minds among the kids whose first experience of politics was joining the Bernie Crusade and falling sway to the cult of personality that grew up around him.

      Wowsers. Doesn’t mean DWT’s wrong on Gabbard, since the argument is a sound one. But couldn’t DWT at least try for barely concealed animus for Sanders voters, instead of outright hostility and disdain?

      1. different clue

        Is DWT a Clintonite blog? It certainly uses Clintonite language . . . words like “berniebots” etc.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          It certainly didn’t used to be, but I don’t follow it that closely these days. I’d speculate that DWT being from California, that there’s some fallout going on from the conflict in the party there.

  20. allan

    Is This a House or a Playground? [WSJ]
    This couple’s 13,000-square-foot home in Sioux Falls, S.D., features a stage with velvet curtains, a hidden room under the basement stairs, a backyard zip line and more—all added to inspire and enrich their children.

    Apologies if it has already been linked to, but this is GW Hall of Fame material.

  21. barrisj

    Am I the only one to wonder at the perfervid efforts – indeed, verging on hysteria – by the New Yorker online stable of writers trying to hang a “crime” on Trump and his WH gang? Banging on daily about “Russian links”, “suspected meetings”, “overheard conversations”, FBI and “person(s) of interest”, the whole monty. Breathless conjecturing, apoplectic advancing of scenarios “going deep into the Kremlin”, whatever. Just priceless, but give them props: it’s a mirror-image of far-right conspiracy-mongering during the Clinton/Obama era…what’s good for the goose, etc., etc…I guess.

  22. Vatch

    I don’t have a strong opinion about Tulsi Gabbard, and it doesn’t surprise me that she is imperfect — that’s true of all of us. I think her support for Modi is primarily due to their shared Hinduism, and if, as the article says, it’s instead based on their attitude towards Islam, well, that’s not necessarily a major problem. If she is opposed to all Muslims, of course that’s bad. But I suspect she’s opposed to the violent fanatical fundamentalist Islamists, and I see such opposition as positive. I think the European Enlightenment which weakened the hold of Christian superstition over millions of people was a great achievement. Islam needs a similar Enlightenment, and until that happens, the fanatical branches of Islam will be a threat to all of us.

    Parenthetically, we should recognize that Montana just elected a violent and extremely superstitious fundamentalist Christian to the U.S. House of Representatives. So I don’t for a moment think that Islam is the only contemporary religion with dangerous adherents.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      I suspect you are right on Tulsi’s support of Modhi. But the perfect is the enemy of practicality. I see the Democrats not continuing as a party much longer, they would rather fight each other, than fight the Republicans.

    2. Allegorio

      Have you ever heard of Sufism? For a long time it was the dominant form of Islam. It is despised by the Salafists.

      1. Vatch

        Sure, I’ve heard of the Sufis. I think that in the past, some Muslims might identify themselves as both Sufi and Sunni, or both Sufi and Shia. You’re right that the puritanical Muslims don’t like Sufis. I think the post WWI secular Turkish state also suppressed Sufism.

        One of the many books that I haven’t had time to read yet, but would like to read someday, is Sufism and Taoism: A Comparative Study of Key Philosophical Concepts, by Toshihiko Izutsu.

  23. The Rev Kev

    I am reading that article “Tulsi Gabbard Is Not Your Friend” for what it is – a hit piece! Like the author, I do not live in America but everything that I have read on Tulsi indicates that she is a reality based politician rather than the sort of ideological sort of politicians that have well and truly ran the America up a horrible cul-de-sac.
    This article may be part of a general campaign to discredit any leader that is not part of the HRC endorsed future leadership of the country. I suspect that if Gabbard gave HRC a ringing endorsement as being the leader of the ‘resistance’, that she would suddenly find herself with more support for her views. By then, of course, she would not be allowed to voice those views.
    She wins her seat in the House of Reps by taking 80% of the votes time and again so perhaps her views tally more with average Americans rather than the views of editors of so-called progressive magazines or random bloggers? Exactly the type that your Democratic Party is fighting tooth and nail to sideline or outright undercut. They would rather have their leadership consist of septuagenarians so perhaps your Democratic Party will be only be able to change its ways one funeral at a time.

  24. Plenue

    “I’m sort of stepping into a minefield here, because I have little knowledge of Modi, except for his noxious abolition of cash, which screws the poor, the working class, and small traders. I’d be interested to hear what Gabbard fans/supporters think of this article.”

    Not really a Gabbard ‘fan’, because I’ve very deliberately decided I’m not going to ever give any individual my personal loyalty. My loyalty is to policies, not personalities. In so far as she champions things that are actually progressive, I’ll consider voting for her when the time comes.

    That being said, Modi is a fascist, or the next closest thing. And in a very literal sense, not in the hyperbolic way it’s been used in the US of late. He’s a Hindu nationalist who doesn’t think Muslims and Christians should even be in India. In 2002 when he was governor of Gujarat he stoked and was complicit in an anti-Muslim riot that killed at least 1,000 people.



    I’ve observed, from a distance, the most extreme wing of these types, and they’re hella crazy. They’re convinced that Vedic mythology is literally true, that India has been home to a contiguous Hindu culture for at least 100,000 years, and that India is the origin of Proto-Indo-European language and culture (the Out of India theory, which is largely viewed as fringe among academia; the Kurgan hypothesis that Proto-Indo-European came from somewhere in the East European steppes is the dominate one).

    1. Vatch

      Yes, you’re quite right about Modi. I should have included something about that in my comment about Gabbard at 7:11 PM. Modi is a Hindutva fanatic, and his views are quite superstitious (reminiscent of Greg Gianforte). Thanks for mentioning the scholarship about Indo-European origins.

      1. darthbobber

        But on the other hand, a glance at the depths the degeneration of the Congress Party has reached goes a long way towards explaining Modi’s rise to power.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good god man! Just what the hell is that cover picture of HRC? She looks like something from Lord of the Rings.

    2. jrs

      did we have to deal with this much Romney or McCain (true he still holds a position of power) or Dole or Kerry or ANYONE ELSE who lost an election as we have to hear from Hillary? WHY WILL SHE NOT GO AWAY?

      Every single other losing candidate has, including Gore who actually had the election outright stolen from him unjustly as he didn’t merely win the popular vote but likely won outright. Sure Gore still talked about the environment, which is fine, but he wasn’t pretending the Presidential race was still going even after very dubious stuff. But her … why won’t she go away?

      1. Darn

        Because she has more loyalists in the party and big donors than Carter, Mondale, Dukakis and Gore did. And because her campaign decided to do the Russia conspiracy theory stuff, and use it to explain her loss, the neocons boost them.

    3. jrs

      She isn’t seen as a central resistance figure against Trump because her campaign WANTED Trump to win the Republican nomination. It’s like if you want to be seen as a resistance figure to Trump you can’t have been on Trumps side because it was convenient at one point. This isn’t that difficult.

  25. Adam Eran

    For the straight scoop about Modi, read The Age of Anger by Pinkaj Mishra. He notes that Modi’s party is the fundamentalist Hindu party that descended from the party of Gandhi’s assassin (for real). Modi was also implicated in a pogrom of Muslims in the state he governed before governing all of India. Mishra says guys like this (Trump, Modi, Hitler, Mussolini, Le Pen, etc.) have been around for literally centuries, and typically tout a “masculine” response to the new uncertainties of the modern world. They want to make [fill in a country] great again, appeal to those who have been overlooked by modernity. (…and I just saved you reading the book!)

  26. TK421

    LOL. Yes, when is the Bernie Sanders wing going to do as much winning as the current mainstream Democrats? Why, the Dem leadership can boast what, 11 governorships? Wow!

    1. Vatch

      It’s 16, not 11:


      16 is still bad; the Democrats have done a very poor job at the state level. That’s not entirely their fault; since the Citizens United decision, a vast amount of money has flowed to organizations supporting Republican candidates. See the later chapters of Dark Money by Jane Mayer for more information.

  27. Stephen Gardner

    I have to say that Jacobin’s take on Tulsi Gabbard smacks of the kind of purity politics that always trips up the left. I don’t care if the reason she wants the wars to stop is not pure enough for Jacobin. The important thing is that she wants the wars to stop.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      I would read Jacobin, for a genuine Left opinion … but I haven’t considered the Left to be viable since … oh, 1968. Ideology will never attract me to vote, nor will cult of personality. Pragmatism is the only attraction to voting for me. Our neo-totalitarianism … would suggest to me that humanity doesn’t have much of a future.

  28. Stephen Gardner

    Yes, Modi is a pretty odious character but he is India’s problem not ours. As long as Gabbert’s support for him doesn’t become bellicose it is harmless compared to the kind of support the US gives to jabhat an nusra and similarly unsavory extremists to support regime change. We have to be practical and stop being so pure that we reject political allies because aren’t perfect and politically correct on all issues.

  29. Oregoncharles

    “unlikely to work with Zuckerberg, who has the bucks to build a new party from scratch.”

    Ross Perot – who handed the Presidency to Slick Willy Clinton. Twice.

  30. darthbobber

    Has anybody else here happened to wander over to this unintentionally hilarious site?


    Apparently, late in the O. Administration, it was decided that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, should embark on a “fact checking” site relating to all things the Russians say. And this is the result.

    Good for an exercise in critical reading.

  31. Stephen Douglas

    I’m coming in late to this, but….

    In Re the Preposterously Obtuse Department (Eisenhower Division):

    For those of us who didn’t get our Masters Degrees in Dwight Eisenhower (i.e., all of us throughout the world), could you pray tell explain what you were talking about?

    Eisenhower put Eisenhower at the top of the ticket and that didn’t work out? He was a 2-term President. Eisenhower put Nixon at the top of the ticket and that didn’t work out? One of the closest elections in history, with substantial evidence that Illinois was fixed for Kennedy.

    In short: what yoiu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?

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