2:00PM Water Cooler 5/9/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Terry Branstad is likely on his way to confirmation. The Iowa governor’s nomination to serve as U.S. ambassador to China is expected to easily clear the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this morning before moving to the Senate floor as soon as later this week” [Politico]. “Branstad, who has served as chief executive of the Midwestern state for more than two decades, has a long relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping, though he pledged during his confirmation hearing not to let that affect his willingness to get tough in future negotiations. His confirmation would make him only the third ambassador in place at the still-relatively-empty State Department….” Filing under trade for Big Ag.

“Should an international trade agreement determine how our elected officials may spend our domestic tax dollars? Absolutely not! But today’s “free trade” agreements forbid popular Buy Local and Buy American policies. And they expose renewable energy, prevailing wage and other labor and environmental requirements common in government contracts to attacks as illegal trade barriers” [Public Citizen].


Obama Legacy

“Obama on Tuesday is expected to give a keynote address to the Seeds and Chips Global Food Innovation Summit” [The Hill]. “The theme of the summit this year is ‘The Impact of Technology and Innovation on Climate Change and Food Availability Around the World.'” In Italian: “Obama a Milano, visita al Duomo poi l’incontro con Renzi” [La Stampa (DG)]. Of course, I see the word “innovation” and my hackles rise; the conference theme seems to be “foodtech”: “Industry watchdog site FoodTech Connect tallied about $6.8 billion in global foodtech investments in 2015, though that report largely analyzes delivery services. The biggest player in the game right now is German-based Rocket Internet, whose acquisition of several delivery services (Zomato, Just Eat and Grubhub) has made it the most prominent delivery startup in the world” [GeekTime]. Here are the “Partners” for the Seeds and Chips conference; I don’t see Monsanto, but I do see PepsiCo, Microsoft, and FaceBook. And UberEats. The whole thing seems a little skeevy to this MOFGA and permaculture fan. Readers, any thoughts? Of course, one wonders if these guys, too, stumped up $400K.

New Cold War

“The Daily 202: 10 important questions raised by Sally Yates’s testimony on the ‘compromised’ Michael Flynn” [WaPo]. This morning it was five and six. Now it’s ten.

“Comey testimony on Clinton emails inaccurate: report” [The Hill]. No comment on the report from the FBI as of this writing….

2016 Post Mortem

“Inside Clintonworld, Insiders Are Agonizing About What Comes Next” [Vanity Fair]. Mmm, good, schadenfreude. “More pressing within Clintonworld, of course, is the notion that Clinton might soon be launching a new political action committee to help fund groups and candidates that are forming in opposition to Trump. This, in some ways, would appear to cement the family’s role as grandees and party patriarchs—forces above the fray, but very much involved in organizing it. ‘This is about political power,’ one person close to the Clintons affirmed. ‘They want to retain influence. They want to build and expand their network. . . . They want to retain political influence in the process and that’s where it gets dicey. They want to retain influence because that’s what they do. That’s why scorpions sting. People underestimate this.'” I have a suggestion: ClintonWorld should dry up and blow away. The country will be better off for it. So will the Democrat Party. Isn’t one generation of policy disaster enough?

“Bill Clinton to publish a presidential crime thriller with James Patterson” [The Telegraph]. Grifters gotta grift…

“Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta on President Trump” [Der Spiegel]. “SPIEGEL: How did Hillary Clinton cope with the result of Nov. 8? Podesta: I think she went walking a lot in the woods. But now she’s back.” Indeed.

“A 2016 Review: There’s Reason to Be Skeptical of a Comey Effect” [New York Times]. A good wrap-up. And as I keep saying, nobody has investigated the effects of ObamaCare price hikes, which began to kick in at the same time as the Comey letter.


MT: “Rob Quist calls Montana ‘The Purple State,’ and is still slightly behind- but is gaining on his opponent by strides” [Gravis Marketing].

VA: “Nash: Make ’em take the pledge: no more snuff boxes” [The Roanoke Times]. “Just last week a new group, Activate Virginia, announced that 55 Democratic House of Delegates candidates and a handful of Greens and independents, too, have pledged never to accept campaign contributions from Dominion Energy or Appalachian Power — the state-regulated monopolies. Dominion is Virginia’s top corporate election financier.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trumpism: It’s Coming From the Suburbs” [The Nation]. “Trump’s real base, the actual backbone of fascism, isn’t poor and working-class voters, but middle-class and affluent whites. Often self-employed, possessed of a retirement account and a home as a nest egg, this is the stratum taken in by Horatio Alger stories. They can envision playing the market well enough to become the next Trump. They haven’t won “big-league,” but they’ve won enough to be invested in the hierarchy they aspire to climb. If only America were made great again, they could become the haute bourgeoisie—the storied “1 percent.” Trump’s most institutionally entrenched middle-class base includes police and Border Patrol unions…” I’ve argued that Trump’s margin of victory was provided by working class voters who flipped from Obama to Trump. That is not at all incompatible with the idea that the suburbs are Trump’s base, and indicates that Trump’s coalition — if there even is such a thing — is fragile.

“A group of Obama veterans are banding together to invest in tech that can help Democrats win” [Recode]. If the Democrats had a decent message — universal direct material benefits, for example — they could communicate using tin cans connected with string, and win elections.

“Historically, even alliances between explicitly white power groups do not last. A coalition of MAGA rubes, neo-Nazis, trolls, ethno-nationalists, ex-GamerGaters and other reactionaries will be all the more volatile. Friction between ideals is tearing them apart, or members are forced to clear an increasingly high bar to prove their loyalty. It’s a familiar form of scene policing called a “purity spiral,” and it’s what attentive people have already seen happening on various imageboards and forums for the past few weeks” [Gizmodo]. And then, of course, there are the agent provocateurs….

“People can’t stop being inspired by this fake clip of a little girl insulting Trump” [WaPo].

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, April 2017: “The small business optimism index fell 0.2 points in April to 104.5, a smaller than expected drop maintaining the bulk of the record-setting increases of the post-election months that pushed the index up to the highest level in 12 years” [Econoday]. ” Although analysts were expecting a more sizeable decline, and the reading indicates the continuation of a very high level of optimism among small business owners, a key component of the index, expectations for future business conditions, did fall 8 points, perhaps reflecting discouragement from Congress’ failure to repeal and replace Obamacare in March… If the failure to remedy the high cost of healthcare was indeed behind the drop in optimistic future expectations, then last week’s narrow passing by the House of a bill to repeal most of Obamacare could bring that reading up again in the May survey, though any progress on tax reform or lack thereof is also likely to have a big impact on this volatile component.” And but: “Overall, capital expenditures were solid after displaying some modest exuberance in the prior two months. The percent of owners planning capital outlays in the next 3 to 6 months dropped 2 points to 27 percent, just below the highest reading in the recovery but well below historical levels for periods of growth” [Econintersect].

JOLTS, March 2017: “There’s plenty of help-wanted signs but still too few qualified applicants. Job openings in March totaled 5.743 million, up from a revised 5.682 million in February and well ahead of hirings which totaled 5.260 million” [Econoday]. And: “The labor market conditions index has posted firm gains for the past three months and there have been notable upward revisions to data for the past two months which suggests that official data is struggling to capture labour-market improvement” [Economic Calendar].

Wholesale Trade, March 2017: “Wholesale inventories came in at a consensus 0.2 percent increase led by a sharp build in autos, excluding which March inventories were unchanged” [Econoday]. “Sales in the wholesale sector were unchanged in the month though the mismatch with the inventory build does not lift the stock-to-sales ratio which holds at a healthy 1.28.” But: “The growth this month was in automotive. Overally, I believe the rolling averages tell the real story – and they improved this month. There is an obvious growth trendline in wholesale – and the unadjusted data looks much better than the adjusted” [Econintersect]. “Inventory levels returned into normal territory for times of expansion this month.”

Credit: “Banks Reportedly Eased Most Terms On Commercial And Industrial Loans For Large And Middle-market Firms” [Econintersect] (original Fed report PDF). But: “On balance, banks reported tightening most credit policies on CRE loans. A significant net share of banks reported increasing spreads over their cost of funds on all three major types of CRE loans surveyed. Significant net percentages of banks also reported lowering loan-to-value ratios on construction and land development and on multifamily loans, while a moderate net share of banks did so on nonfarm nonresidential loans.” And but: “Banks, on balance, reported weaker demand for most consumer loan categories during the first quarter. Specifically, moderate net fractions of banks reported weaker demand for credit card and auto loans, while demand for other consumer loans remained basically unchanged on net.”

Real Estate: “Leading Index for Commercial Real Estate Decreases in April” [Calculated Risk]. “The index is still up solidly year-over-year.”

Real Estate: “The share of home mortgage loan payments that are 30 days or more past due fell from 5.5% in February 2016 to 5.0% in January 2017. That’s the lowest 30-plus delinquency rate since September 2007” [247 Wall Street].

Commodities: “Any US stimulus now appears further in the distance and over the weekend it also became apparent that Chinese support for the [copper] sector is waning as imports of the metal, widely used in the construction, manufacturing transportation and power industries, decline sharply” [Mining.com]. “The price is now back to where it started 2017.”

Commodities: “Cheap Chinese Aluminum Is a National Security Threat” [Foreign Policy]. “The U.S. industry has been hollowed out. Just one remaining smelter can produce the material used in F-35s and F-18s.”

Shipping: “Dramatic Jebel Ali crane collapse caught on video” [Splash 247]. New video genre: Crane collapses!

The Bezzle: “AI may just create the illusion of good credit decisions” [The American Banker]. That’s cool. Now we can create accounting control fraud by tweaking parameters. An algo does the rest!

The Bezzle: “Price-bots can collude against consumers” [The Economist]. “As more and more purchases are made online, sellers rely increasingly on sophisticated algorithms to set prices…. The rapid reaction afforded by algorithmic pricing means sellers can co-ordinate price rises more quickly. Price-bots can test the market, going over many rounds of price changes, without any one supplier being at risk of losing customers. Companies might need only seconds, and not days, to settle on a higher price.”

The Bezzle: “Greyball is the most concrete piece of evidence yet that Uber genuinely believes itself to exist somewhere beyond the silly laws of mere mortal companies. The Ayn Rand-themed car service that lives on your phone is such a complete and total Silicon Valley baby that it not only keeps trying to get away with sh*t that no one else would, it keeps acting shocked and persecuted when it gets caught. Kalanick waged passive-aggressive cold wars with cities, states and nations, creating chaos in most of them and winning in even more, but many of his enemies have gone full stalking horse, waiting for their moment to exact revenge. Dumb hubristic sh*t like ‘Greyball’ is akin to handing them an invite that reads in embossed cursive “You may f*ck me back now'” [DealBreaker]. More schadenfreude!

The Bezzle: “DeepMap Inc., which was founded by mapping veterans of Alphabet Inc., is building systems enabling self-driving cars to steer through complex cityscapes. DeepMap plans to license its map-building software to automakers and technology companies looking to teach cars how to drive” [Bloomberg]. I’d be interested to understand the technology. In my experience, Google Maps, on average, are reliable to the street block level and require human judgment for “the last meters.” But a map for a fully autonomous vehicle would need to be accurate within centimeters, yes? What experiences do readers have with Google maps? Am I being too cynical?

The Bezzle: “Mobile ad revenue was $6.7 billion, up 58% and represented approximately 85% of ad revenue. Desktop ad revenue grew 22%, despite a decline in desktop usage, and was aided by our recent efforts to limit the impact of ad blocking technologies, which we began in Q3 of last year” [Facebook, First Quarter 2017 Results Conference Call, May 3, 2017].

Adverising: “Tech groups are displacing TV companies at a rapid clip. In 2012, only Google and Facebook were in the top ten. In 2016, half the top ten were digital: Verizon Communications Inc. joined with its pending acquisition of Yahoo, as did Baidu Inc. and Microsoft Corp. And the shift of marketing dollars from old media to new isn’t even over. Online ad spending will surpass television this year for the first time” [Bloomberg].

Labor Power: “It turns out that $1 trillion may not get you what it used to. A growing labor shortage in the commercial real-estate industry is driving up the costs of some projects, the WSJ’s Peter Grant reports, and contractors say that could complicate lawmakers’ plans for a big, new infrastructure-spending program. Construction businesses, excluding those building single-family homes, reached their highest employment level in April since November 2008, according to a builders’ group, and contractors are starting to see shortages of electricians, carpenters and other subcontractor laborers. That’s helping drive construction labor costs up 4% to 5% annually, outpacing inflation, and the industry still needs 500,000 more workers” [Wall Street Journal].

Political Risk: “Despite these geopolitical risks, global financial markets have reached new heights. So it is worth asking if investors are underestimating the potential for one or more of these conflicts to trigger a more serious crisis, and what it would take to shock them out of their complacency if they are” [Nouriel Roubini, Project Syndicate]. ” It is well known that markets can price the “risks” associated with a normal distribution of events that can be statistically estimated and measured. But they have more trouble grappling with “Knightian uncertainty“: risk that cannot be calculated in probabilistic terms.”

Political Risk: “JPMorgan Chase & Co. has some advice for regional banks: A deposit drain is coming, so merge while you can” [Bloomberg]. “The company’s investment bankers are warning depository clients that they may begin feeling the crunch in December, thanks to a byproduct of how the U.S. Federal Reserve propped up the economy after the financial crisis, according to a copy of a confidential presentation obtained by Bloomberg News and confirmed by a JPMorgan spokesman. JPMorgan argues that some midsize U.S. banks — those with $50 billion in assets or less — could face a funding problem in coming years as the Fed goes about shrinking its massive balance sheet, according to the 19-page report the New York-based bank has begun sharing with clients.”

Five Horsemen: “Apple pulls ahead of Alphabet in the Charge of the Five Horsemen” [Hat tip: Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May9

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 50 Neutral (previous close: 49, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated May 9 at 12:59pm.

Health Care

As I said this morning, now Republicans have permission to talk about single payer:


“Analyzing the [Antarctic] ice, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues have discovered that in the last century, plants have been growing at a rate far faster than at any other time in the last 54,000 years. Writing in the journal Nature, they report that plants are converting 31 percent more carbon dioxide into organic matter than they were before the Industrial Revolution” [New York Times] (original study).

“Understanding What Makes Plants Happy” [New York Times]. This, a thousand times this:

So if we think about the way plants grow in the wild, it helps us understand how different our gardens are. In the wild, every square inch of soil is covered with a mosaic of interlocking plants, but in our gardens, we arrange plants as individual objects in a sea of mulch. We place them in solitary confinement.

So if you want to add butterfly weed to your garden, you might drift it in beds several feet apart and tuck some low grasses in as companions, like prairie dropseed, blue grama grass or buffalo grass.

Start by looking for bare soil. It is everywhere in our gardens and landscapes. Even in beds with shrubs in them, there are often large expanses of bare soil underneath. It’s incredibly high-maintenance. It requires multiple applications of bark mulch a year, pre-emergent herbicides and lots and lots of weeding.

The alternative to mulch is green mulch — that is, plants. This includes a wide range of herbaceous plants that cover soil, like clump-forming sedges, rhizomatous strawberries or golden groundsel, and self-seeding columbine or woodland poppies.

I have always hated bark mulch. Now I know why! Plants are social!

“We may have the evolution of beauty completely wrong” [The New Scientist]. Darwin in his book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex” proposed female choice as the driving force behind much of the animal world’s visual exuberance. And then along comes Richard Prum to tell you there’s more to it than that. Prum is an ornithology professor at Yale University and a world authority on manakins, a group of sparrow-sized birds whose dazzling males perform mate-attracting gymnastics on branches in the understories of Central and South American forests. Years of watching the males carry on until they nearly collapsed convinced him that much of the selection is linked to nothing except a female love of beauty itself, that the only force pushing things forward is female appreciation. This, he says, has nothing to do with functionality: it is pure aesthetic evolution, with ‘the potential to evolve arbitrary and useless beauty.'”

Guillotine Watch

“Japanese luxury sleeper train trip a mere $10,000 — one way” [Yahoo News]. It’s a lovely train. Versailles is a lovely palace.

Class Warfare

Intersectionality is not the same as identity politics, despite Clinton’s crude attempt to co-opt it:

Do note that “economics” is a very obvious element to include in such a matrix…

News of the Wired

“Amazon enables free calls and messages on all Echo devices with Alexa Calling” [TechDirt]. Free? So you’re the product, right?

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

And here’s today’s plant (KH):

KH writes: “Harvest from our front yard. I spin and use for weaving and knitting. After all Ghandi freed India that way, sort of. Aloha!”

* * *

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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. George Phillies

    “But a map for a fully autonomous vehicle would need to be accurate within centimeters, yes?”

    Well, no. No more than you need one when you drive. For example, in parking the vehicle does not need to know where the curb is exactly relative to the earth. It needs to know where the curb is relative to the car, a problem many of us also face in trying to park a car and solve the way the autonome would, with vision..

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They drive on the proper side. If you go to the left, you can still extend your right hand to a person on horseback. If you go to the right, you have to twist your body. Back in the day, wagons and such would have been driven on the left.

        After the Revolutionary War, Yanks had to come up with a new culture to differentiate ourselves from the English such as dropping the “u”s from words. Switching the side we drive horses and subsequently cars on was one of the changes. Canada and Mexico had to follow suit because of size. Given the scale of U.S., French, and German area industrial capacity, most of the English colonies had to inevitably follow suit with the introduction of cars. Australia is big to demand specialty cars and is obviously not reachable by land.

        The French adopted the idea early enough to force it on the rest of the continent, but the Frogs never miss a chance to stick it to the Limeys.

      1. visitor

        Interesting article, misses infrared sensors (good at detecting living beings and machines because of heat signatures, good in night, better in cold conditions than in heat, bad in snow, rain, fog).

        Besides, there are simple presence beacons (good to detect other vehicles and their distance, possibility to identify vehicles and vehicle types if the signal is enhanced with that information, very short range).

        I read that HERE maps is also investing in extra-detailed specific maps for autonomous vehicles — so several players think this is a viable technique.

        1. tegnost

          if I asked you to get directions to the public dock I frequent in the san juan islands you would not arrive as google maps isn’t aware that certain sections of road are impassable, in seattle for a job today the people said “don’t use google maps, you won’t get here…” but yes unicorn poo is the most nutritious compost available so spread some more around. Safer for sure to put on the oculus rift using a mock up based on google maps to imagine yourself going to the store after ordering what you want on amazon prime, so you think you’re going to the store, but really you’re just going to your front door. You’ll be totally safe as long as your kid didn’t leave his skateboard in the middle of the living room…

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > At least four different sensors

        That’s not an advantage. The F35 spent a squillion dollars on its virtual reality helmet, and the helmet can’t unify the inputs from the sensing devices (so, for example, an enemy fighter appears as two images, one for heat, one for the visual, as opposed to one image for the one fighter, which is so confusing the pilots just switch off sensors until the chaos recedes — which isn’t the same as saying they’re getting an accurate representation). Why will robot cars be any better?

        1. craazyboy

          Thing is, the pilot doesn’t even need the long range image, really. They use friend or foe transponders, missile for long range, visual for short range.

          In a carbot, you need long and short range map data, say to make your turn or off ramp. It needs to be accurate enough for collision avoidance, too, or depending on the other 4? sensors, the AI needs to either average all the inputs or prioritize which ones to listen too.

          If the AI has to prioritize, I can’t see how it can be any different than being a coin flipping machine?

          On my quadcopter, the firmware stabilization and autopilot firmware samples and merges[averages] five sensor inputs. The only data massaging is digital filtering of noise from the data of each sensor individually – but that leaves the desired data intact.

          Then, the system accuracy ends up being what the worst sensor can deliver. So more isn’t always better.

          1. craazyboy

            Also, that all ignores the huge role inertia plays in a 4000 lb vehicle traveling at speed. I can swear on a bible and show crash videos to support that bit of physics.

            Tho, I get to turn on air, which is hard. But snow or rain ain’t great either. Black ice is worse than air. At least air is what we expect.

        2. visitor

          That’s not an advantage.

          On the contrary, it is. In fact, it is unavoidable.

          Autonomous vehicle control based on a single sensor type, single algorithm works very well, but only if the conditions are exactly right for that. As soon as the environment does not correspond to the working range of the sensor and its algorithms, things go really bad pretty fast.

          Thus, driving algorithms based on cameras work well — but not at night. For that, you should use LIDAR or IR — but not if there is fog or snow. In that other case, RADAR is advised. But since each sensor type has vastly different capabilities (range, resolution, sensitivity to noise, etc), you cannot rely just upon one.

          A few weeks ago, NC linked to an article on autonomous ships; they use the whole range of sensors (RADAR, LIDAR, IR, camera, beacons, GPS+maps, plus remote manual control) — not because it is cool, but because there is no other way.

          So sensor fusion is indispensable — and perfectly feasible. There are a few decades of work in that area. The difficulty is to do sensor fusion/data reconciliation in real-time. This is not equivalent to “very fast” (though it very often is the situation to handle), but under strict time deadlines.

          For instance: “take lane to the right, not earlier than in 7.1 seconds, not later than 7.15 seconds”. Veering too early or too late, and the vehicle crashes into a pillar or sinks into a ditch.

          Real-time programming is real hard. Reading articles on the on-going autonomous vehicle tests by Google, Uber, and others, you will here and there read that those self-driving cars drive quite slowly; or in areas with fluid traffic; or that their human testers have to take over the controls every couple of kilometers or so. These are signs that (a) the algorithms are not calibrated for every real-world situation arising and most importantly (b) they do not achieve sensor fusion and algorithm reconciliation in real-time.

          So they drive very slowly. In areas with well-defined traffic conditions, where algorithms do not risk being overwhelmed by a huge multiplicity and diversity of inputs. With a human driver on the look-out and with hands on the steering wheel.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m worried about the “seam” between the GPS and the vision, especially in cases where the map and the ground don’t match: Kilometers, meters, centimeters, millimeters… Humans do such context-switching between scales seamlessly.

      Not so machines, if we’re talking Level 5, fully autonomous. If we’re talking Level 4, where the human needs to pay attention all the time, but only take action occasionally, where’s the real value add of the map, as opposed to just having a GPS?

  2. fresno dan

    “Trumpism: It’s Coming From the Suburbs” [The Nation]. “Trump’s real base, the actual backbone of fascism, isn’t poor and working-class voters, but middle-class and affluent whites.
    …….I’ve argued that Trump’s margin of victory was provided by working class voters who flipped from Obama to Trump. That is not at all incompatible with the idea that the suburbs are Trump’s base, and indicates that Trump’s coalition — if there even is such a thing — is fragile.


    “The US economy is so good it’s beyond full employment and above potential says John Williams, the San Francisco Fed president.” https://mishtalk.com/2017/05/06/us-a-little-beyond-full-employment-says-san-francisco-fed-president/

    You can believe that, and voted for 4 more years of Obama (Clinton) The people who believe that they are getting screwed are the people who did NOT vote for Clinton. Trump has one job – if he doesn’t do it, hiss as* is out on the street.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump has one advantage that he can play. The udder insanity of “OMG Russia” and the Republicans who ran from Trump at every opportunity on the campaign trail. If he can present himself as an opponent of Versailles, he can win against an “OMG Russia” opponent. He can’t win against a Sanders style opponent (not a candidate merely co-opting language…cough…Booker…cough but someone who does the right thing when no one is looking), but he can beat any neoliberal. Shrub was reelected after all.

      1. Biph

        Trump will have a hard time winning against anyone not Clinton.
        Biden probably beats him last time.
        He’s done nothing to build on his 46% of the popular vote and whoever the Dems choose next time is unlikely to have the high negatives HRC had. Trump will still have his negatives.
        He can’t afford to lose the people who voted for him as the lesser of two evils to the not voting column. He can’t afford for people who stayed home or voted for 3rd party because they found HRC so distasteful to find him so awful that the lesser of two evils sounds like a good option.
        His margin for error is extremely small.
        FTR I thought whoever won the last election was doomed to one term.
        I’ve seen nothing to change my opinion on that.

        1. John k

          Dem elites share your views, no reason to give any progressive anything except kicks because trump is greater evil against anybody except Hillary.
          Third party only option.

          1. tegnost

            +1, biden is just male hillary and would have lost for the same reasons, but not being able to identify as a woman, would have lost worse…it wasn’t only hillary herself who had high negs, it’s the whole elite dem establishment, tweaking around the edges changes nothing

            1. Biph

              Biden’s negatives are nowhere near HRC’s. His fav/unfav wasn’t under water and he wasn’t a clarion call for Republicans for nigh on 25 years the way HRC is.
              Biden is perceived as affable by the general public and certainly more likable than Trump. Likability counts for a lot in Presidential elections and Trump won’t be anymore likable 3 1/2 years from now, if anything he’ll be less so.
              Yes almost any Dem not HRC would’ve beaten Trump, move around a 100,000 votes in 3 States and HRC is POTUS.
              Small differences made all the difference in the last election.
              Trump is historically unpopular for a new POTUS and in some ways he faces a worse problem than HRC would have.
              Trump has the GOP in control of both houses of Congress and might actually get things passed which the public wont like.
              HRC would’ve got nothing through Congress.
              Even if the Senate saves his ass on health care, by not passing it, the simple fact that something passed the House is going to hand him ownership of healthcare in the minds of a small percentage of the ill informed, but still voting public (5%, 10% IDK, but he can’t afford to lose anyone from his coalition).
              If the Senate manages to pass the healthcare bill then he’ll own health care lock, stock and barrel even if it does nothing till 2020.
              I don’t know where people get the idea that Trump is in any way popular, he’s faced a strong head wind since the day after the election.
              The only way I can see Trump getting a 2nd term is if he LePage’s his way in.
              The Dems nominate a candidate on something very close to Bernie’s platform and a Billionaire like Bloomberg runs as a spoiler and allows Trump to sneak in with a popular vote in the high 30’s or low 40’s.
              In this scenario I’d still like the Dem to win, but it’s the one path I can see for a 2nd Trump term.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                Many people aren’t familiar Biden beyond his name.

                How would Biden have handled these issues?
                -casual racism
                -Anita Hill
                -The Bankruptcy Reform Act of 2005
                -his lack of token appeal
                -support for fracking, a very environmental stance
                -support for the Patriot Act

                Biden lacks the celebrity and nostalgia appeal of Hillary.

                Another DLC Democrat will produce a Trump win.

                In 2010 and 2014, you might have noticed Democrats withouy a celebrity or token appeal in practical terms and virtually no platform other than “shut up hippies”, a Biden, if you will. How would nominating Biden have been different?

                Do you think he could run on riding the train alone?

                1. Biph

                  His biography, people like to see people overcome tragedy and Biden has that in spades.
                  You are ignoring the likability factor, that more than anything has been the biggest determiner of presidential election winners.
                  None of the issues you mentioned were something that could be exploited by Trump.
                  If Biden was the nominee fewer people would have chosen the meteor and stayed home.
                  Fewer rapidly anti-HRC voters who didn’t like Trump would’ve voted for Trump just to stop her.
                  She was the worst candidate the Dems could’ve run and still won the popular vote and lost in 3 states by a whisker which cost her an EC win.
                  I’ve said before this last election was between two massively unpopular candidates, Trump managed to eke out an EC victory, that does not mean he is well liked.
                  The public was mostly going to be chomping at the bit to vote out whoever won.

                  1. Lambert Strether Post author

                    I’d love to see the Democrats run that loveable goof Joe Biden, though the spectacle of Biden deeply and sincerely milking his son’s death for political gain will no doubt go on for a nauseatingly long time.

                    Biden found a way to lose in 1997 and 2007. He’d find a way in 2020, but I think he’s done. Nobody wants Biden to be President except like 300 people in the Beltway.

                    1. Biph

                      I don’t think he runs in 2020, I doubt he wins the nom if he did.
                      My point is that pretty much any Dem (not HRC) would’ve beat Trump in 2016.
                      Pretty much any Dem would beat him in 2020.
                      I think if the left coalesces around a single candidate in 2020, who more or less runs on Bernie’s platform, that candidate will probably win both the nom and GE.
                      If I was going to put money on a neo-lib Dem I’d put it on Kristen Gillibrand.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m sure that Biden’s support of the bankruptcy bill will solve any problems the Democrat Establishment has in appealing to young people.

        3. jrs

          yea but they’ll run Elizabeth Warren and lose. Like anyone really wants to vote for some elitist east coast woman (fwiw actually of course she is far from the worst as far as policy, but I’m just saying it is unlikely to be a popular choice). Never going to play in Peoria. Not a folksy bone in her body.

    2. Loblolly

      There is apparently no convincing those who are not harmed by neo-liberalism that we who have been harmed by it are merely two dimensional caricatures.

      To them I will repeat, “It’s the economy stupid!”.

      I agree in theory that if Trump does not deliver, he’s out. The Democrats are still lost in Hillary’s Woods though, so we may not have a choice.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Agreed. Trump’s margin of victory — not the same as his base — came from people who wanted results. No results so far. Where do they go?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Yep. Suburbanites tend to be the most rightwing element in society. White flight is the obvious buzz word.

        Even in Prussia and Italy fascist movements gained power on the support of polite surburbanites.

        The appeals to suburban republicans by Clinton inc were always insane due to democratic voter ethnicity and orientation. Bill might have picked up some surburban voters in 96 on his oppression of blacks.

        Again those friendly people mowinh their lawn are just waiting for jackboots to crush non favored classes.

        Many of our most grusome electeds are elected exclusively by surburbanites.

        1. JTFaraday

          No, that’s not how it works any more. It works via selective attention to narrow self interest. Suburban “RINOs” are not brown shirts because they don’t “need” to be. They’re like Jeb Bush without the connections. More like the Governor of Ohio, ie. Kasich. They held their nose and voted for Trump.

          That’s why you have an “alt-right” today. They don’t see enough brownshirt energy coming from “the cucks.”

  3. Jim Haygood

    Arm the homeless Kurds!

    Two U.S. defense officials tell NBC News that President Donald Trump has approved a plan to arm the Syrian Kurdish militia — an important U.S. ally in Syria in the fight against ISIS.

    Trump and members of the Cabinet spoke about it during a meeting late yesterday at the White House with Secretary of Defense James Mattis joining by video teleconference.

    The order has been signed and that “allows the process to begin to function,” one official said. Once the order comes to the Pentagon, the U.S. can begin providing the Syrian Kurds with arms and equipment fairly quickly since some equipment is pre-positioned.


    As is customary, MSM stenographers don’t even bother to call Kongress Klowns for a reaction. Senators used to consider foreign policy very much their business. Now they vie to get public facilities named after their goodselves, in between hairstyling appointments, mani/pedi sessions and visiting their tailor.

    Constitution? Dead letter. Rule of law? You bet. It’s called the Führerprinzip.

    We all understand that Syria has nearly zero to do with US security. On the other hand, keeping Syria chaotic is vital to our soi-disant ally Israel, which has been squatting on some 500 square miles of Syrian territory for fifty years come next month.

    Arming the Kurds is America’s jubilee gift to our best friends evahhh in da whole world. :-)

    1. Pat

      Please note, the equipment is already positioned. Only the final hand off was apparently awaiting approval.

      Now I do find it interesting that we are not worrying so much about another ostensible ally – Erdogan. Considering he has spent more time trying to rid the world of the Kurds than in fighting either Assad or terrorists. Well he was never going to fight the latter, since he and his family have been shown to working with ISIS to tap into, transport and sell the area’s oil.

      You really can’t keep track of the players without a scorecard…

      1. JTMcPhee

        …and who prints this scorecard of which you speak? Is it re-issued at least daily, to keep up with the amoebic re-alignments of loyalties and fealties?

        How does one score the action? Looks like body count and dollar flow are the tokens…

    2. PKMKII

      The move also reinforces the idea that the entire Syrian Democratic Force, Syrian Kurds (YPG) and the Syrian Arab Coalition, has the backing of the U.S.

      And now we’ve come full circle. We’ve gone from propping up despots in the Middle East because, hey, they’re better than the communists, to propping up communists because, hey, they’re better than the despots. I guess as long as we’re selling arms to somebody…

    3. different clue

      The Kurds are at the opposite end of the country from the Golan Heights. And if arming the Kurds helps them better fight ISIS while keeping Turkish forces out of that part of Syria, it helps protect Syria against Turkish destabilization.

      If it allows the SAR gov to refocus its forces against the various al Qaeda and “moderate opposition” jihadis in central and west Syria, it may help the SAR further re-stabilize the country.

      If the GAJ ( Global Axis of Jihad) is allowed to bring its CLEJ ( Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis) to power in Syria, the resulting Jihadi Emirate of Syria will train and send around the world yet more CLEJ members and CLEJ terrorists. That would be bad for every country, including America, which these CLEJs get sent to. A STABLE Syria, totally under Syrian government control, and with every single head chopper carefully found, unearthed and exterminated is in the American peoples’ safety, peace and quiet interest. Even though the DC FedRegime co-leads the GAJ along with its ally Saudi Arabia, and supports the CLEJs in Syria.

  4. Altandmain

    I’ve been reading One Mile at Time, a travel blog.

    Apparently “Basic Economy” is nothing more than a crapification to get more fees:

    I don’t see how they will match the cost structure of a company like Spirit.

    Yep the American Airlines new 737MAX will also be crapified. More seats; packed tigher. No surprises.

    Finally Donald Trump might be making a similar ban on European airlines – no laptops in cabin:

    Yeah flying is a truly miserable experience for those of us lowly peasants. I have tried to avoid it as much as possible. Happy to say I haven’t flown in a while.

    1. Octopii

      Business class also looks to becoming crapified. I recently flew a British Airways A321 and the business class area had the exact same seats and seat pitch as coach, three wide, with a “desk” mounted across the arm rests in the center so nobody could sit there. Quite literally smaller than Spirit’s Big Front Seat. These are very expensive flights.

      1. Carl

        Within Europe, business class is nothing special, as is domestic US. International business class is still luxurious compared to economy.

  5. Glen

    Re: Health Care

    If the Republicans suddenly flip on health care and get behind single payer, they are going to own the White House and Congress until they drive the economy into the ditch again. Hard to say when that will happen, but Clinton can kiss her 2020 chances goodbye if single payer health care is enacted.

    1. Art Eclectic

      Not ever going to happen. They are far too committed to making sure only the productive people who deserve it get health care. The Freedom Caucus will never in a million years sign off on single payer.

      1. hunkerdown

        Do I detect a note of investment in that statement? To be honest, that sounds more like a position of the professional gatekeeper’s association known as the Democrat Party, if Gruber, Sunstein, and other D faves are to be believed. The Freedom Caucus isn’t going to break off into a third party, so if they want a piece of the grift and their committee memberships, they’d fall in line. We are, after all, dealing with a President who doesn’t treat seniority as an entitlement.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        With MMT, Single Payer seems like a small price to pay, or no price at all, for the Republicans to secure or maintain their hold on their favorite issues like marijuana, municipal bankruptcy, union, gun, NATO, the UN, Russia, Syria, etc.

        1. a different chris

          And we forget that elections come in 2 stages, starting with a primary. How many FC members need to be replaced by single-payer-but-otherwise-equally-insane R’s to push it thru?

  6. Samuel Conner

    Speaking of living mulches, I’m fond of Creeping Thyme. It spreads but not too aggressively and fills in nicely the season you plant it, is attractive to look at, feeds pollinators and attracts smaller predator bugs. It’s not too dense or too high to plant through (so isn’t a perfect mulch, but cuts down on the weeding a great deal). It smells good enough to use in the kitchen, though I’m not sure it tastes as good as it smells; perhaps better to have a patch of proper culinary thyme.

    I think it has even shown up in plantidotes.

    1. katenka

      I used purslane as a green mulch last year — or, more accurately, I did not prevent purslane from serving this purpose when it volunteered. I was very happy with the way it worked, and I’m doing it again this year! I ended up not harvesting much purslane for food, though I could have; this year maybe I’ll be more on the ball.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I just identified purslane as the weed that was taking over my garden a couple years ago when I noticed a guy at our local farmer’s market selling it with the rest of his veggies and asked what it’s name was. Never realized it was edible before and it seems to do better with way less effort on my part than the actual vegetables I plant. Maybe I need to start being nicer to it. Does it taste any good?

        1. footnote4

          I like it. And whenever I see such volunteers I think

          “Come the global economic collapse, we’ll really be glad to have those…”

          1. katenka

            My volunteer purslane tastes fine — it’s not a revelation or anything, but it’s solidly okay! Very slightly lemony, but mostly bland. It’s supposed to be very good for you. (I’ve considered buying seed for the best-tasting kinds of purslane, but to date I’ve been too lazy and sentimentally attached to my freebies to follow through.) The thing to watch out for is make sure it is always purslane and not hairy spurge, which looks kind of like purslane and acts a great deal like it, but is toxic! (I get hairy spurge volunteers too, and in the same places that the purslane likes best.) And +1 to being grateful that these edible weeds are so hardy and insistent on making themselves available — we can certainly use them, and we might very well need them!

    2. cm

      I’m a fan of buckwheat. Very fast grower, easy to cut down, bees love it, reseeds itself easily.

      1. katenka

        I love buckwheat too, and it’s a great companion plant and green manure (and cover crop), though it’s a bit too tall for a green mulch during the season, at least with what I’m growing! Also, wasps adore it, possibly even more than bees do — I know this might not be a positive to some people, but wasps are awfully useful in the garden, and I’ve always found them to be good neighbors (contrary to my expectations).

    3. sandra l lawrence

      Anyone with difficult soils and too-dry weather might appreciate my fave green cover – heartleaf skullcap. Emerges very early and stays late until killing frosts. It will grow in shade and sun but does not like full, scorching triple digit summer suns of the Texas hill country. (Nor do I!) Does well under trees. Needs no special care, spreads quickly by underground runners and stays neat. Great for large areas. Leaves are velvety and blooms are blue. It has spread underneath rose shrubs and between other plants, which I love but has not, in my garden at least, “taken over.” Herbaceous perennial, I pile a thin layer of chopped up dry leaves on top in winter as food for this alkaline soil and that’s it. Rarely do I supplement with any water at all. Big fan of heartleaf skullcap here!

      1. katenka

        This is a new one to me, and I just might have a spot for it too (outside the boundaries of the vegetable garden, where there’s thin, yucky soil and it’s shaded heavily by trees — something pretty that rabbits and squirrels don’t particularly want to frolic through would splendid there), thank you!

  7. Jim A.

    Hmm… Not so much an “Alt Knight” as a neo-legionare… So those protesting the fact that the lost the American Civil War, and that the Nazi’s lost WWII, seem to hate somebody frustrated about the sack of Rome….

  8. Mel

    “JPMorgan Tells Banks to Partner Up as U.S. Deposit Drain Looms”

    Consolidation Driver

    “The need for retail deposits to fund loan growth, the challenge of organically originating new relationships and the scale required to support technology and brand investments will drive consolidation,” the report states.

    What? Is JP Morgan just pushing their M&A services here?

    1. RMO

      “the challenge of organically originating new relationships and the scale required to support technology and brand investments will drive consolidation,” I’m firmly opposed to the death penalty but when I come across writing like that I’m sorely tempted to change my position.

    2. Jim Haygood

      ‘A “deposit is destroyed” if the “Fed does not reinvest [a Fed-held mortgage payoff],” the presentation states. JPMorgan estimates that a quantitative easing-related deposit drain could result in loan growth lagging deposit growth by $200 billion to $300 billion a year.’

      The first bit about mortgage payoffs of Fed-held MBS sounds correct. Not so sure about a deposit drain crimping loan growth, though. According to the Fed’s H.3 report, banks collectively still have a massive $2.36 billion of excess reserves on deposit at the Fed, which they can lend to each other via the Fed funds market.

      It would take years to run off those excess reserves. Long before that happens, a recession will send the Fed scurrying the other way, to back up the truck and shovel in assets purchased with kited checks. Probably they’ll invent a new acronym other than QE, to make their abject volte-face less humiliating. Such as:

      Buying Operations Generating Undergirded Security: BOGUS

      1. Jim Haygood

        … should be “$2.36 trillion of excess reserves”

        Had to lay off my proofreaders, editors and masseurs. :-(

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a new acronym other than QE, to make their abject volte-face less humiliating

        Seems like EQ would make that point most forcibly; the effrontery of it.

    3. craazyboy

      First, assume ZIRP. Next, assume the 5 Horsemen are worth the market cap they are selling for and stocks are NOT semi-liquid investments.

      Then one can easily see how we all run out of money!

  9. readerOfTeaLeavesq

    Love this:

    …And the shift of marketing dollars from old media to new isn’t even over. Online ad spending will surpass television this year for the first time”

    Almost certainly a key reason why Murdock’s kids threw Bill O’Reilly under the bus.

    And Matthew Dowd talks Single Payer?
    I’m not sure that I can stand so many promising ‘tea leaves’ in a single day — but I’ll give it my best shot ;-)

  10. LT

    Re: “Trumpism: It’s Coming From the Suburbs” [The Nation]. “Trump’s real base, the actual backbone of fascism, isn’t poor and working-class voters, but middle-class and affluent whites. Often self-employed, possessed of a retirement account and a home as a nest egg, this is the stratum taken in by Horatio Alger stories.

    A good companion piece to this article was on The Intercept this week:


    “…The upshot is that a single school in Los Angeles was the breeding ground for two of the youngest and most vehement stars of the Trump movement. This raises the prospect of what is known, among experts who study extremism, as a cluster. It goes beyond Hahn and Marlow….”

    “…Where do America’s far-right leaders come from? Hahn and Marlow, who grew up 5 miles apart, are clues to an intriguing fact of political epidemiology. A surprising number of alt-right leaders come from a single wealthy liberal enclave: the west side of Los Angeles.
    Andrew Breitbart, who founded the site that bears his name, was raised in Brentwood, at the center of the west side, and was living there when he died in 2012. Bannon, before becoming famous as the chairman of Breitbart and then Trump’s ideologue, was a Hollywood producer who sent his daughters to a private school in Brentwood. Stephen Miller, the 31-year-old presidential adviser who has been wildly provocative on immigration issues, was raised in neighboring Santa Monica, also known as the People’s Republic of Santa Monica because of its liberal politics.
    This might seem weird. California voted in a landslide for Hillary Clinton. All of the state’s elected officials are Democrats, from the governor on down. Since 1961, only one Republican has been elected mayor of Los Angeles. But look again. While Trump got far fewer votes than Clinton, California’s population is so large that the only other state where Trump got more votes was Texas (which he won). According to a report from the Southern Poverty Law Center, California has more far-right conspiratorial “Patriot” groups, 81, than any other state in the country (Texas, the runner-up, has 79). California may be the “Left Coast,” but it is also the beating heart of the far-right coast….”

    1. Huey Long

      Ronnie Raygun was a Californian, and is a full blown canonized Saint amongst GOP types, plus as you mention Cali has plenty of wingers out in the hinterlands and was a huge center of defense manufacturing during the Cold War.

      California as heart of the far right makes sense to me.

    2. Ivy

      Backbone of fascism, eh? How many NC readers fit the criteria? How many Americans fit? Such loose talk!

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Well, seeing that to some people, any political thinking that doesn’t fall down on its knees and worship their preferred form of identity politics is ipso facto “fascism”, this loose talk should not be at all surprising, no?

        But perhaps what really rocks their world is the awkward proposition emerging from the alt/right that what is sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander; so then, identity politics worshippers, what is wrong with a politics that embraces white identity as a valid expression? Oh, no, can’t have that. Check your priviledge, YT, is the immediate response. Not a valid, or an intellectually defensible one, but the knee jerk response that you get for your CrimeThink.

        1. clarky90

          I don’t agree with you, think like you, live like you, or even like the same music, THEREFORE, you must be a fascist!

          “You are a big, smelly fascist!!!!” And you are a fart face too!”

          “Nooooooo, you are! I am telling on you!

          “In a September 18, 1939 editorial, The New York Times pointed out the strong Nazi-Communist similarity after the mutual non-aggression Nazi-Soviet pact was signed and German-Russian armies jointly invaded Poland, declaring that the issue was now clear: “Hitlerism is brown communism, Stalinism is red fascism.” The editorial further opined that “The world will now understand that the only real ‘ideological’ issue is one between democracy, liberty and peace on the one hand and despotism, terror and war on the other.””


          I will repeat what I learned from a member of the NC commentariat. It is not a Left-Right dichotome, but “Up (top 10%) verses Down (bottom 90%)

      2. LT

        Just sharing a different perspective from other writers.
        The South could be called “the usual suspects.”
        This is just food for thought.

      3. LT

        Also, I do think the articles are more about “class” issues than identity politics.

      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        If we were in a fascist state, we’d be seeing Gleichschaltung.* As it is, the administration hasn’t even filled all its available slots for political appointees.

        The overheated liberal Democrat rhetoric on this is good for fundraising, no doubt, and some of them may, in good faith believe it — though if they do, Obama handed over the nuclear codes to Baby Hitler, which is carrying process liberalism very far, perhaps even too far — but in my book screaming “fascist” is just as sloppy and disempowering, at least to citizens, as screaming “racist” and “sexist” at every opportunity. The rhetoric turns very real and horrible evils into “any stick to beat a dog” talking points. It’s disgusting and reprehensible.

        See Richard Evans’ The Coming of the Third Reich for a vivid description. The Nazis made sure, for example, that stamp collector’s clubs had good solid Partei leadership in charge. Are we seeing anything remotely like that? No.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t accept alt-right (or alt-left (or alt-center (or a two-dimensional view of politics))) as categories, but the “the west side of Los Angeles” true fact is interesting.

  11. XXYY

    But a map for a fully autonomous vehicle would need to be accurate within centimeters, yes? What experiences do readers have with Google maps? Am I being too cynical?

    Self-driving cars will never solve their myriad technical, systems, safety, legal, legislative, institutional, infrastructural, and liability problems. Relying on “mapping” is obviously lame, but this is only one small item on a huge list. I can suggest other profound and unsolvable problems as fast as I can type.

  12. PeonInChief

    I never use bark mulch. I used to; it looked really good. But over time it pulls nitrogen from the soil, which is not good for the plants.

    1. polecat

      I utilize shredded fir bark mulch (just added 3 yards to the surrounds),as it helps with our relatively fast draining soil from drying out, hence less watering & loss of transpiration of moisture by plants, especially new plantings. and it’s WAY easier to rouge out weeds, as they pull out without much effort. Plus, after several years, the bio-flora and fauna have helped to convert it to humus …. you know, that stuff that makes for good nutrient and water retention! We do not use ANY pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides in out little domain. We fertilize with OUR compost, not the crappy commmercial stuff. I’m always adding/transplanting where there is space to do so, keeping in mind that everything will eventually grow together …. !! Having said that, many perennials need to be divided after several years, to maintain vigor !
      Just my take! Most of my neighbors think i’m crazy for all the effort, as i’m not pushing, or riding a mower, spraying Roundup, applying Weed-n-Feed, zapping dandelions with chems, ect. …… or working on my ATV, or other KUWTJ’s motorized phalic symbol ….. if i had one !

    1. Huey Long

      I feel bad for the kids who end up getting their hot lunch yanked and can only imagine how badly they are teased afterwards.

      We have infinite money to make war in this country, but apparently free school lunch for all is a bridge to far.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Hmmm– maybe if the lunch counter and kitchen could be privatized, to run like a business…?

        1. marym

          This information isn’t too current (2011) but school lunch programs are outsourced and fresh food provided by the Dept. of Ag. is sent out for processing rather than prepared on-site.

          USDA to Probe Companies Running School Cafeterias

          The most recent statistics available show that as of March, schools across the country were serving about 32 million lunches a day through the federal program.

          “Given the enormous fiscal pressure facing all levels of government,” Rep. DeLauro went on, “we owe it to American taxpayers to make every dollar invested in these programs count.”

          According to USDA statistics from 2007, the most recent data available, more than 13 percent of school districts use a food-service-management company.

        2. craazyboy

          Someone needs to rework old Reagan quotes.

          Like, “Let’s win one for the Grifters!”

    2. lyman alpha blob

      This really makes no sense. You can have a free cheese sandwich but if you want the preprepared lips and ass corn dog or warmed up frozen pizza and don’t have two dollars you’re out of luck, even though all of this ‘food’ probably costs the school about 50 cents a meal in the first place?

      Yes, Giant Turtle forbid we actually just provide a free nutritious lunch to any kid who wants one. That money has already been earmarked to give overpaid administrators a raise to come up with stupid policies like this one.

      1. Matt

        It makes perfect sense. It’s about lashing the poor, not saving money. It’s the same reason they want to drug test welfare recipients. There is always money for poor-bashing and military spending.

      2. cnchal

        From the NYT link.

        “I don’t think the main intention of the school meal debt policies is to humiliate,” said Ms. Ramo of New Mexico Appleseed, who said the group worked closely with school nutrition departments in drafting the bill. “Mostly, school nutrition directors are trying to balance their budgets and they see this is a necessary but effective evil.”

        In the old days it was the lunch ladies. Now it’s a highly sought after and prized bureaucratic position.

        Throwing heated food into the trash because the kid can’t pay for it raises many interesting questions.

        One is, how warped have values become? Why has no economist shouted from the rooftops objections to the insanity of the waste inherent in converting oil to food in a lengthy and time sensitive sequence of food production, and then when it’s time to convert all that stored energy into nutrition and profit, right at the cash register, the kid can’t pay, and it gets thrown in the trash. From an energy standpoint, society would be incrementally better off if that food were given away instead, because in the trash, more energy is wasted to get it to the dump.

        It is economic sabotage, similar to cash for clunkers.

  13. PKMKII

    I’ve argued that Trump’s margin of victory was provided by working class voters who flipped from Obama to Trump. That is not at all incompatible with the idea that the suburbs are Trump’s base, and indicates that Trump’s coalition — if there even is such a thing — is fragile.

    The problem with analyzing the election results is that Trumps margins where he won the states he needed to win were so narrow that one can point to any myriad of factors, demos, events, etc., say “If that is different Clinton wins,” and be technically correct. To be a useful observation, it needs to be something within the Dems power to change, and that does not create more problems than it fixes.

    Personally, I think there’s too much emphasis on who turned out to vote, and not enough on who didn’t.

    1. John k

      6 mil that voted for big o didn’t vote for Clinton. Or trump. They either stayed home, voted third, or left the top spot blank.
      It is reasonable to assume they didn’t want to vote for her.
      Why would you nominate somebody where the opponent’s call to lock her up resonates?

  14. Huey Long

    RE: Labor Power

    “It turns out that $1 trillion may not get you what it used to. A growing labor shortage in the commercial real-estate industry is driving up the costs of some projects, the WSJ’s Peter Grant reports, and contractors say that could complicate lawmakers’ plans for a big, new infrastructure-spending program.

    Would it not be more prudent to hold off on any new infrastructure projects until the commercial real estate industry tanks?

    This way the USG wouldn’t be forced to outbid the squillionaires for construction labor, and said construction labor could be kept busy building TVA-style projects, high speed rail, rebuilding highways, etc. for a period until things pick up on the commercial real estate front again.

    You know, the who Keynesian thing?

    1. Art Eclectic

      But Trump will never let the commercial real estate industry tank, those are his peeps. The answer to most labor shortages is to raise pay rates, if the job pays well enough people will be there. Construction has gotten used to imported labor from south of the border that works cheaper, they’re going to have to open up their wallets. The construction industry has taken huge pay cuts in the past 20 years, they’ll start making up for it. So sad investors will make less profit….

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, I fixed the links. Thanks for using the LINK (A) tag, but you need to put text inside the tag, like so:

      <a href=”http://[the rest of your URL]”> … put text here… </a>

      If you don’t, nothing shows up.

      * * *

      Actually, Princeton disagrees (kinda). From the first post:

      After the Affordable Care Act premium hike announcement, opinion did not move for days, arguing against this as a main driver of the late swing in opinion. It could still be a factor, as is the case for many events. But such an effect would have to be gradual.

      However, the big change does coincide well with the release of the Comey letter.

      The other link is to Nate Cohn (quoted) who argues that you have to look at when the polls were taken, as opposed to when they are released, they show Comey had little effect, but Cohn does not address the ObamaCare price hike.

  15. LT

    Re: The Nation: Trumpism Coming From the Suburbs

    Not far off my perception it’s your garden-variety “wanna tax break” upper class.

    1. Huey Long

      Not far off at all.

      It’s not just an upper class thing either, as plenty of high wage tradesman, cops, gov’t workers, and small business owners “wanna tax break,” the elimination of all social entitlement programs, and of course “law and order” too.

      1. craazyboy

        Wait till they find out the revenue enhancement part of the package eliminates the mortgage deduction. The Rs were counting on that to keep the CBO cost estimate in orbit around this planet.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      But I thought moderate suburban republicans (the white flight crowd) were going to rock the vote for Hillary!?!?!?

      Going forward, the Democrats will have to deal with not only being the minority party, but they will also have to deal with how they spent a billion dollars chasing people who will never vote for them and not party building themselves.

      1. Pat

        But didn’t you know they all got a personal email from Putin telling them to vote for his best friend Hillary Clinton, along with a “She’s the best!” quote from Comey. Otherwise it would have been a landslide for her! They stole it from her!

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I thought Russia Today proved so influential it caused Hillary to have 50,000 less votes than John Kerry had in Detroit alone!

          1. Pat

            Who knew that practically their entire American viewing audience was in Detroit? Hillary!

            Who says the security state doesn’t know how to shift through the data it has….

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              She lost by 150,000 votes state wide and had 50,000 less than Kerry had in 2004 in Detroit alone. Clearly, RT scoring Larry King as a host was the greatest KGB plot evah!

              If you take out safe states which were never in doubt such as North Carolina where Hillary did better than Kerry and Virginia, she did worse than Kerry all over the map. Its staggering when you think about it.

              I couldn’t imagine a worse campaign than Kerry ’04, but wow! Worse than Kerry!

              1. WeakendSquire

                Detroit lost 300,000 residents between 2004 and 2016. If the difference between her and Kerry was only 50,000, I’d say she did pretty darn well.

          2. Bugs Bunny

            Off-topic but watched RT yesterday night on Victory Day. It was overwhelming. The suffering of the Soviet Union was unthinkable.

            1. Huey Long


              The Soviets suffered something like 20 million deaths during WWII and unimaginable devastation.

              It still blows my mind that our imperial propagandists were able to cast the Soviet Union as the great boogeyman that was going to take over the world.

          3. craazyboy

            First, everyone thought the name Russia Today was a false flag name and they were really an official CIA news agency.

            Then, too late, we found out they were a double false flag name!

            Poor Hillary. We got fooled again.

    3. Loblolly

      Is your perception mathematically possible in a nation where 70% of wage earners bring home less than $50,000?

      1. Huey Long

        It’s only possible in Lake Wobegone, that mystical, magical land where everybody is above average…

        1. neo-realist

          Yes, Prairie Home Caucasian, where all the white people have advantages but remain maudlin.

          1. different clue

            Are you aware that Prairie Home Caucasian was a fictional place? Just checking to make sure . . .

            Following along from the premise of the comment, since all the people of Prairie Home Caucasian were white, who did they have advantage over? Each other? How does that work?

            1. Huey Long

              Well, there’s blue blood WASP whites who have an advantage over the Appalachian WASP whites, who have an advantage over the Irish, who have an advantage over the Italians, who have an advantage over the Slavs…

              Before the US was widely inundated with non-whites from all over the world there was plenty of white on white hate going on, and a great deal probably does still go on.

              1. different clue

                Quite so. And much of it is strategically-targeted and managed hate by upper class whites and their Limousine Liberal Minions and Limousine Liberal Social Justice Warrior child-minions in the Universities . . . . to invent a decoy-concept of White Privilege in order to divert attention away from Rich Privilege.

                And no doubt some sincerely anti-caucasianitic racist anti-caucasianism on the part of racist anticausianites is involved too, on the part of some.

                But upper-class orchestrated strategic hate manufacture and management is behind most “white cash on white trash” hatred.

            2. neo-realist

              Lets just say that the residents didn’t have much to fear from traffic stops by the police:/

              1. different clue

                Well . . . is that an advantage? Or is that a basic human right and civic expectation?

                Police persecute black people for Driving While Black. The same police don’t persecute White People for Driving While White. Is that a matter of Black Oppression or White Privilege?

                Because if it is Black Oppression, we solve it by legalizing Driving While Black in practice as well as in theory.

                But if it is White Privilege, we can solve it by making Driving While White just as illegal as Driving While Black. And we can authorize the Police to persecute White People for Driving While White as we currently authorize them to persecute Black People for Driving While Black. And . . Hey Presto! . . as Kurt Vonnegut used to would have said. Everybody is equal! The problem is solved.

                So, do we still wish to whine about Prairie Home Caucasian where all the White People have advantages but it still hasn’t been explained who all the White People of Prairie Home Caucasian have advantages over . . . because every person in Prairie Home Caucasian is White. So how do they all have advantages over eachother?

      2. jrs

        Wouldn’t the only meaningful statistic be the median income of those who ACTUALLY VOTED?

    4. Carolinian

      I tend to avoid articles that casually use the word “fascism.” They are sending a signal–the signal being that the writer isn’t very good.

  16. Huey Long

    RE: Trumpism: It’s Coming From the Suburbs

    Often self-employed, possessed of a retirement account and a home as a nest egg, this is the stratum taken in by Horatio Alger stories. They can envision playing the market well enough to become the next Trump. They haven’t won “big-league,” but they’ve won enough to be invested in the hierarchy they aspire to climb.

    “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

    -John Steinbeck

    While I realize the people described in the article aren’t poor, I still feel the Steinbeck quote is relevant here because these folks don’t realize how poor and insecure they really are.

    In America, we’re all one major illness away from bankruptcy and one PE acquisition away from being laid off unless of course you happen to be a 1%er.

    1. Loblolly

      Maybe regurgitating that pithy Steinbeck quote over and over again to describe people you see as two dimensional is not helping things?

      1. Huey Long

        Maybe regurgitating that pithy Steinbeck quote over and over again to describe people you see as two dimensional is not helping things?

        Eh, the Steinbeck quote works and I will continue to regurgitate it as I see fit. Also, the people I am describing aren’t two dimensional, but one dimensional, and that dimension is that of the hustler.

        If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the moral, spiritual, and cultural reasons why this country is in a death spiral I suggest reading some books by Morris Berman, specifically:

        Why America Failed
        Dark Ages America
        Twilight of American Culture

        You may want to start here with this interview with Dr. Berman:


        1. dale

          Or read a little book recommended by Berman, Immoderate Greatness, Why Civilizations Fail, if you really want to get down to basics. William Ophuls in this analysis explains that the decline is inevitable; we’re hardwired for it.

  17. lyman alpha blob

    RE: People can’t stop being inspired by this fake clip of a little girl insulting Trump

    Brave little girl fake-speaking truth to power – maybe they’ll memorialize it with a statue in Battery Park.

    Oh wait….

  18. lyman alpha blob

    More Russia RUSsia RUSSIA!! from Juan Cole – https://www.juancole.com/2017/05/nsagate-warned-persisted.html

    Didn’t his guy used to be somewhat sane? He discusses at length how Flynn talked to the Russian ambassador after the election but prior to the inauguration – the horror. Then this –

    It may be worse. If it were ever to come out that Trump or someone in the White House told Flynn to call the Russian ambassador and make him an offer he couldn’t refuse, would anybody be surprised? This scandal is redolent of Iran-Contra late in the Reagan era.

    I think we have to start asking again, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

    Yes, and while we’re at it, maybe someone should ask Cole when he stopped beating his wife.

    1. Carolinian

      Cole is a tool who supported both the Libya intervention and the Syrian uprising. A long time ago he offered up criticisms of Israel but doesn’t seem to do much of that now. I rarely read him these days but he is on my RSS feed.

      Some years back Cole was offered a move to the Ivy League from his Michigan perch but was vetoed by the lobby. Perhaps he decided to get with the program–TDS being very much part of the program.

      1. different clue

        I read him till recently. He always seemed to have a steady medium number of counter-Israel articles to me. I didn’t see any change in their tenor.

        I stopped reading him after his constant and continuous support for the Global Axis of Jihad and the Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis in Syria became too disgusting to bear.

        He is just a Clintonite with academic credentials.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Er…sane…Cole recognized he needed a better justification for his support of the Iraq War when things didn’t go smoothly preferring to claim he chose not to oppose the Iraq War. He’s sane, but he’s a prick who appeals to war mongering “libruls.”

      Cole supported Libya, but wisely tried to claim it was a disaster due to bad planning or some other nonsense before any other prominent pro-war voice did who originally supported the action.

      He does “wow” readers with a command of history and proper names, but he ultimately draws poor conclusions until after the events unfold.


      He is a thug. He makes b.s. cases about human rights much like Senator McCain, but his support never demands action to follow up on human rights just bombing.

      1. jo6pac

        little jc also is a paid consultant for the cia. He gets called out every time on the net except his own site which I have been proudly banned from. There is some cool green energy thing on his site once and while

    3. craazyboy

      I’d like to hear about Hillary’s uranium deal, Podesta, Inc. and whatever his deals were and are with Russia, Biden and his cronies in Ukraine, and oh yeah, the elephante in the room – Israel. Do freshmen congressmen really get free lunches when they go to Israel School in Tel Aviv??

      Maybe those are a bit like “Iran-Conra”? woo woo woo

  19. Jim Haygood

    Another day, another record for the Nasdaq 100 glamour stock index … 42% of whose weight is made up by the Five Horsemen (Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft).

    Hard to believe it goes on so relentlessly. But as Mr Market is wont to say when he’s in an ebullient mood:

    Hey, hold my beer and watch this!

    1. craazyboy

      It’s all done with secret handshakes and 32 bit code words over plenty of expensive red wine at the Manhattan Restaurant and Safehouse.

    1. allan

      Now that he’s been fired, Comey can play the saint card ’til the end of time.
      Remember the Hospital.

      1. fresno dan

        May 9, 2017 at 6:11 pm

        Comey’s dismissal is likely to raise questions about whether the White House is interfering in that investigation. In a letter from Trump informing Comey of his firing, the president suggested Comey had privately assured Trump he was not being scrutinized.

        “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau,” Trump said.

        So, for all those old timers – L. Patrick Gray and twisting, twisting slowly in the wind….

        I was a young teenager and watched a good deal of the senate investigation (Sam Ervin) – as I’m now retired and have a good deal of time on my hands, I am very much looking forward to Watergate – the sequel – NOW IT BEGINS (que ominous music….)

        1. jo6pac

          I don’t think that will happen, today their all bought and stay bought to their puppet masters. If the puppets master run the corp. owned circus media then pedal to the medal. Corp. and the dark world of so-called intelligence wins again.

          Watergate trials were the last of the 99% to have any say. Sadly the .01% have worked very hard behind the curtain to stuff us 99%.

        2. Carolinian

          Maybe, if the Dems were in charge of Congress. But they aren’t. Now if Trump would just fire McMaster things would really be looking up.

          And Watergate was about a real thing, not some lunatic fantasy of Russian espionage.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Any similarity to Watergate is superficial and deceptive, although Democrat loyalists would very much like for that not to be so:

          1) In WaterGate, a breaking at the Democrat headquarters then located there, there was an actual crime — “the tape on the Watergate doors” — that was being investigated by law enforcement, and which triggered the Woodward/Bernstein stories. (They were on the City Desk, IIRC, and the story went to that desk exactly because it started as a crime, a break-in).

          Here, there is no actual crime. There are only “dots” being “connected.”

          2) In WaterGate, the accused (Nixon) controlled the key evidence (the tapes) and was ultimately forced by a judge (Sirica) to disgorge it (which happened after a complex series of “modified limited hangouts”).

          Here, the accusers control the key evidence (the intel). But the public has not seen anything other than anonymous leaks; never the intel itself. There are no named sources and there is no primary evidence.

          3) In WaterGate, the theory of the case was straightforward: Nixon committed a crime — commissioning the break-in — and then sought to cover it up.

          Here, the theory of the case is, shall we say, less obvious: Trump is a Russian agent of influence because they have something on him they are blackmailing him with. Blackmailing Trump? How? The hot mike pussy-grabbing tapes didn’t do it. Bankruptcies didn’t do it. Generally “glass bowl”-ery didn’t do it. What do they blackmail him for?

          Oh, and firing Comey won’t stop the investigation at the FBI, (a) because that’s happening at the career level anyhow, and (b) because Comey’s successor is subject to Senate confirmation. So the whole “cover up is worse than the crime” talking point doesn’t work either, unlike with WaterGate; no visible crime; no functional cover-up.

          We might also remember that the Saturday Night Massacre was qualitatively different as well: Comey serves at the pleasure of the President; firing him creates no Constitutional issues whatever. Nixon fired an independent Special Prosecutor, a position specifically created, by statute, to investigate him, and that is what caused the Saturday Night Massacre. (Of course, the Clintons had their own bad experience with a Special Prosecutor, and both parties agreed to let the whole concept drop; arguably, it’s the Special Prosecutor that’s the extra-Constitutional kludge.)

          None of this says, of course, that Trump is the fair-haired boy, the innocent, here. (I’ve consistently said that the place to dig is his Russian real estate dealings, although I also believe the outcome of any such investigation would be to show that Trump has unsavory associates, like any other oligarch, by definition.) But the volume and scale of liberal Democrat misrepresentation and epistemic closure on this is really something to see.

          * * *

          Wake me when somebody decides what is an alleged to be a case of treason is more important than their career and they go on the record, and have some evidence. Then we can do some assessment.

          1. Yves Smith

            As Paul Greenwood pointed out, the only “Russian” real estate connections the media has come up with so far hail from Brighton Beach. Not making that up, which is why we still have innuendo rather than facts.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Some Lubavitchers, apparently, if they are from Brighton Beach. I thought that was the place to dig. Nothing is known until the digging is done, but the preference seems to be for leaks to the press rather than actual investigation, dispositive one way or the other.

    2. Jim Haygood

      May 9th: CDD (Comey Defenestration Day)

      Club Comey cards will no longer be honored.

      *lights up a blunt to solemnize this momentous occasion*

  20. JTMcPhee

    Re conversations “global” and “galactic:” One of Asimov’s trilogy in the Hari Seldon saga was titled “Foundation and Empire.” And those of us who are studying the new realities created by the Neos, judiciously as we must, while they go forward “acting” and creating still further realities we can never keep up with, are doing analytical (sic) stuff like this:


    In Part One of this article I analyzed the similarities of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy to Strauss & Howe’s Fourth Turning, trying to assess how Donald Trump’s ascension to power fits into the theories put forth by those authors. Now I will compare Trump to the most interesting character in Asimov’s classic – The Mule. https://www.theburningplatform.com/2017/03/27/foundation-and-empire-is-donald-trump-the-mule/

    Where, o where, is our H. Seldon????

    Butterfly wings, and all that…

  21. ewmayer

    o “Labor Power: “It turns out that $1 trillion may not get you what it used to. A growing labor shortage in the commercial real-estate industry is driving up the costs of some projects, the WSJ’s Peter Grant reports, and contractors say that could complicate lawmakers’ plans for a big, new infrastructure-spending program.” — Gee, you’d think our esteemed neolib soi-disant free-marketeers would grasp that historically speaking, free markets have a ready way to cure labor shortages: by raising wages and offering better working conditions. But ’tis blasphemy to discuss such things in the MSFM!

    o ““We may have the evolution of beauty completely wrong” [The New Scientist]. Darwin in his book The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex” proposed female choice as the driving force behind much of the animal world’s visual exuberance. And then along comes Richard Prum … Years of watching the male [manakins] carry on until they nearly collapsed convinced him that much of the selection is linked to nothing except a female love of beauty itself, that the only force pushing things forward is female appreciation. This, he says, has nothing to do with functionality: it is pure aesthetic evolution, with ‘the potential to evolve arbitrary and useless beauty.’” — Except that such exhausting mating dances have an obvious correlation with physical vigor. And lo, another “Darwin was wrong!” clickbait-piece bites the dust. and how does “female appreciation” differ materially from “female choice”?

    1. cnchal

      . . .free markets have a ready way to cure labor shortages: by raising wages and offering better working conditions.

      I smell a rat. Trump’s son in law is in China rollicking in the corruption. Would it shock you to consider that labor shortage could be filled by Chinese guest workers? If it came to enriching himself by selling out ‘local’ labor and getting his costs down by importing Chinese labor, and to boot they have relevant experience, a sellout is close to 100% certain. I hope to find myself wrong on this.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The distinction is that there are no “Just So” stories for aesthetics.

      That is, the beautiful plumage of the Norwegian blue male is adaptive not because it is a proxy for something else, like health, but because (the female finds it) beautiful in itself.

      1. MoiAussie

        If beautiful plumage and spectacular energetic dance behaviour is a good indicator of physical and hence genetic health, then how does it make sense to claim the female is selecting for beauty alone? To anthropomorphise, she may think she’s selecting for beauty alone, but she ain’t, if beauty and health are strongly linked.

        A female’s selection behaviour is also being selected for, within the population of such behaviours, by her reproductive success. If she adopts a notion of beauty that doesn’t correlate strongly and positively with factors that increase the probability of her offsprings’ survival and reproduction, that selection behaviour will eventually disappear from the population. If she adopts a notion of beauty that is neutral, uncorrelated with those factors, her notion will be outcompeted by females who choose better. The strength of these effects will also depend whether she mates once for life, annually, or more frequently.

  22. Indrid Cold

    Just heard that Comey got the boot. He tried to play J. Edgar Hoover but those days are over. Everyone has a file cabinet of compromising information nowadays.

    1. jo6pac

      That file will show any day on the tubes, we can only hope just for the fun of it.

    2. Tim

      The more logical conclusion is he didn’t actually have enough dirt on the right people to keep it from happening. Trump and Sessions must be clean at the FBI if not at the CIA or NSA. Comey’s state wasn’t deep enough I guess.

  23. Tim

    “The share of home mortgage loan payments that are 30 days or more past due fell from 5.5% in February 2016 to 5.0% in January 2017. That’s the lowest 30-plus delinquency rate since September 2007””

    1 in 20 late is still shocking to me. Waking me when we get back to 2004 levels before the bubble burst. 2007 is still this side of the catastrophe.

  24. Tim

    “As I said this morning, now Republicans have permission to talk about single payer:”

    Not sure if ironic is the correct word here, but it took the republicans threatening and acting on taking away their bases’ entitlement under Obamacare to get an ear full about single payer at their town halls to think single payer actually has traction.

    Or maybe they want to implement single payer, show that at current US medical costs it makes our deficits balloon tremendously prooving that it does not work.

    The more I think about this the more I want other health care reform first, payment reform second.

    1. John k

      We pay more and get less coverage. The solution is a tax that raises less than what we pay now… why does this involve ballooning deficits? Plus we overpay pharma and diagnostics.
      Not that that ballooning deficits would be a problem, in fact it would get the economy to full employment.

  25. Tim

    “That’s cool. Now we can create accounting control fraud by tweaking parameters. An algo does the rest!”

    Precisely, your just not supposed to say it like that. It makes it sound bad.

  26. Tim

    “But a map for a fully autonomous vehicle would need to be accurate within centimeters, yes? What experiences do readers have with Google maps? Am I being too cynical?”

    Kids used to have to cut down speed signs and such to cause chaos. Now with a little ingenuity they can move around little things that are presumed by the system to be fixed…

    Belt and suspenders is fine, but ultimately the accountability is on the on board sensors and computer logic.

  27. allan

    Harsher sentences could result from guidance weighed by US [AP]

    Justice Department officials have been weighing new guidance that would encourage prosecutors to charge suspects with the most serious offenses they can prove, a reversal of Obama-era policies that aimed to reduce the federal prison population and show more leniency to lower-level drug offenders.

    If embraced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions [the suspense is unbearable], this could result in an increased use of rigid mandatory minimum sentences that critics have called unnecessarily harsh. …

    As outlined, that version would encourage prosecutors to charge people with the most serious, provable offenses — something more likely to trigger mandatory minimum sentences. Those rules limit a judge’s discretion and are typically dictated, for example, by the quantity of drugs involved in a crime. …

    Sure it’s brutal, but the Corrections Industrial Complex needs its feed stock, which has been declining of late.
    Another solid for the back row kids, many of whom will have their lives destroyed by the CIC.
    And likely, along with the Census Director leaving, to be lost in all the noise about Comey.

    1. Huey Long


      Hopefully this gets picked up in links tomorrow because I think more NC eyes need to see it.

      Crime levels are at historic lows yet we’re doubling down on the American Gulag.

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