2:00PM Water Cooler 6/15/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

As readers may know, I’m in Swinging London:

They saw me coming!

London meetup date: Friday, June 16, 6:30 PM. Hope to see you there!

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“Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross delivered a tough message to African countries on Wednesday, urging them to strike bilateral trade deals with the United States and warning that the Trump administration would closely monitor their compliance with eligibility rules under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which allows them to export thousands of goods to the United States without paying duties” [Politico]. Hmm. I wonder how China will react to this.


Yet, some in the administration, including repeatedly the official who President Trump has said will lead trade policy, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, suggest the “starting point” for renegotiations is the terms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Not only was the TPP based on expanding the damaging model established with NAFTA, but President Trump declared the TPP a disaster and formally withdrew from the deal, which could not obtain majority support in Congress. Failing to remove NAFTA’s damaging provisions and adding TPP terms will make NAFTA worse for working people.

Monthly government data will show whether a revised NAFTA delivers on the deficit reduction and job creation President Trump promised. Moving those numbers will require eliminating NAFTA’s investor protections that promote job and investment offshoring, reversing its ban on Buy American procurement and adding terms that raise Mexican wage levels and environmental standards, among other changes.

Absent a major redo that can stop NAFTA’s ongoing damage, it is better to have no NAFTA than an agreement that maintains NAFTA’s current investment, procurement, and other terms that directly harm working people. That is the case because NAFTA is causing significant ongoing damage for working people, healthy communities and a clean environment here and in Mexico and Canada.



So, for the question: “Does Resistance imply Revolution, or Restoration?” we have our answer:


“Scandals have typically operated as a cloud over a president’s agenda. But the Russia-related legal challenges swirling around President Trump are functioning more like a cloak for his joint agenda with congressional Republicans. That difference captures the GOP’s decision to govern in a manner aimed almost entirely at stoking their hard-core base—a critical calculation that could determine their fate in the 2018 election, and possibly the 2020 contest, as well” [The Atlantic]. The Democrats, by contrast, are appealing to the soft-core Republican base. So there’s that.


GA-06: “[W]hy would 13 percent of Republicans vote for Jon Ossoff, per the Abt Associates poll? There is a clue in the poll question concerning support for President Donald Trump. Expressing opposition to Trump was given as a reason for voting for Ossoff by 77 percent of those preferring the Democrat” [Marietta Daily Journal]. “There was a glaring disparity between the candidates in visits: 75 percent of Democrat voters had been contacted in person by the Ossoff campaign. So had 57 percent of independents and 32 percent of Republicans. But only 36 percent of Republican voters had been contacted personally by a representative of Handel’s campaign and 62 percent had not been. Nor had 71 percent of independents. The bottom line: Handel faces a big challenge in coaxing Ossoff-voting/leaning Republicans back into the fold.”

GA-06: “The battle between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel has cost $48 million, according to the latest federal election filings. About $24 million of that has come in as ad revenue to nine Atlanta TV stations. “I’ve been here 25 years, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” says John Friedmann, national sales manager for local ABC affiliate WSB-TV. Normally, political ad money is spread out over the better part of a year. “This has happened in just 107 days,” says Friedmann” [Bloomberg]. “Ossoff has run ads on virtually every kind of program at every hour of the day, ­including daytime soaps, The Dr. Oz Show reruns, and even 1 a.m. episodes of Entertainment Tonight. ‘Most of the candidates only want the news, except for Ossoff,’ says Friedmann. ‘He’s got so much money he’ll buy anything that makes sense.'” That’s a lot of money even for the Democrat Establishment. I guess the Ossoff narrative must be very important to them. Hey, remember when Sanders supporter Thompson couldn’t get $20K for a mailing? Good times.

GA-06: “GOP congressional candidate Handel ignored election integrity report, Georgia professor says” [WaPo]. It never hurts to wheel the blame cannons into position early. (Not to say that I don’t think election fraud is a serious concern; it is. That’s why I support hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. But for any given race, complaining about election fraud is like complaining you lost the game because the field was muddy. You had one job: Win the game, on the day, on that field. Democrats have no standing at all to complain on this issue, having done nothing to solve it since 2000, when Jebbie tried to steal Florida for his little brother by purging the election rolls of black voters. 2017 – 2000 = 17 years of “They are who we thought they were” gets old, even from our beloved Washington Generals.)

GA-06: “Former Georgia Rep. Tom Price will appear in his first public campaign rally of Georgia’s 6th District race to urge Republicans to get behind Karen Handel. Price won the seat in 2004 and notched commanding victories every two years until Trump tapped him as his health secretary. Perdue, now the agriculture secretary, was elected in 2002 the state’s first Republican governor since Reconstruction. With polls showing a tight race, Handel is seeking every advantage she can to consolidate Republican support and thwart Ossoff” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “The rally’s location holds symbolism for Perdue and the veterans of his 2002 campaign: The airport complex is where he housed his first campaign office in that bid for governor, the beginning of a GOP revival in Georgia that’s sure to be invoked during Saturday’s event.”

GA-06: “Matthew Yglesias argues Ossoff isn’t a ‘moderate’ in the mold of past Georgia Blue Dog Democrats like John Barrow and Jim Marshall… [Yglesias writes: ‘Ossoff’s message is more moderate than what you hear in more liberal parts of the country, but it’s a lot more liberal than what you heard recently in Georgia. Taking an Obama-style campaign to the Atlanta suburbs is a sign of the same leftward shift of the Democratic Party’s message'” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. To which the (conservative) columnist responds: “Did you catch that, 6th District voters? From the perspective of a prominent liberal writer, Ossoff’s ‘moderate’ talk is mostly reminiscent of Barack Obama. Who, you might recall, lost to Mitt Romney by 23 points and to John McCain by 19 points in the area now covered by the 6th District. This just happens to coincide with what conservatives have been saying: that Ossoff is not a “moderate” in the usual sense of the word, but a standard-issue Democrat who will fit seamlessly into a caucus led by Nancy Pelosi and can’t even be bothered to explain why voters should believe otherwise. But let’s say you still believe Ossoff is more akin to those Blue Dog ex-congressmen… What sort of ‘moderating’ influence did their stances have on Pelosi and Obama? That’s easy: none whatsoever.” I’m not so sure about that. Last I checked, Ossoff was running on “generic aspirations for less [big gummint] waste,” and dialed back the message of sending a message to Trump. From my armchair at 30,000 feet, it looks like the Democrats have fallen back on their favorite play: Running a fake Republican against a real one. From the Abt Associates poll, we see why that might work. From the Price/Perdue rally, we see why it might not.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A stunning 50% of the CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics surveyed at the annual Yale CEO Summit give Trump an “F” for his first 130 days in office” [CNBC]. “[Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the Yale School of Management professor who led the summit] noted that 80% of those surveyed are CEOs, including Blackstone (BX) CEO Steve Schwarzman and IBM (IBM, Tech30) boss Ginni Rometty, who sit on Trump’s advisory council and Merck (MRK) CEO Ken Frazier, a member of the president’s manufacturing initiative. (Individual responses by each CEO were not released.) ‘This was not a granola-eating crowd of Democrat entrepreneurs. It’s a cross-section of the business community, including some who are quite pro-Trump,’ he said.”

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Lambert here: Word of the day: overdetermination. That said, if we agree that rhetoric (a component of strategic hate management) was a determinant in the murder of Barnett Slepian, then we need to give consideration to the possibility that rhetoric was a determinant in the shooting of “House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others,” as WaPo puts it.

“Pretending that America’s gun violence is a function of collective political rhetoric rather than the nexus of personal mental defect and easy access to weapons is a way of dodging, well, the bullet” [Charles Blow, New York Times]. Not “in addition to,” as opposed to “rather than”?

“After shooting at GOP baseball practice, investigators probe trail of political anger left by attacker” [WaPo]. Fascinating headline, because in the Beltway — and among the 10%ers generally — one must never show anger. “Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.), who represents the district where Hodgkinson lived, said that Hodgkinson had contacted his office 14 times via email or by telephone and that although he never made threats, ‘he was always angry.'” Lots of additional detail.

“Democrats may be horrified by today’s attempted massacre of the GOP House baseball team by an avowed progressive, but their incendiary demands for ‘massive resistance’ since November have been an open plea for the escalation of words into violent action. The daily repetition that President Trump is an illegitimate usurper who stole the election through collusion with foreign powers has been a hypnotic incantation in search of an Oswald: a siren call for an assassin” [City Journal]. “Liberals frequently complain that conservatives disseminate propaganda to their secretly racist supporters via ‘dog whistle’ tactics, which send the desired message in coded language or gestures. The same liberals have dispensed with high-frequency whistles in favor of a simpler message: ‘Treason!'” And that’s before we get to the Hitler dog whistles (less frequent now, given that Hitler, unlike Trump, was able to fill all the political slots in his administration quite easily). Let’s just hope nothing happens on July 20.

“When a Democratic congresswoman from Arizona, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot and maimed in 2011, in an attack that claimed six lives, Democrats suggested the hostility Republicans had been stirring against Barack Obama was to blame. Now it was the turn of Republicans, bolstered by revelations that Mr Hodgkinson had volunteered to campaign for Senator Bernie Sanders, to make the same argument. ‘The hyperbolic vitriol from the left has spurred threats and now action without historical parallel,’ Mr Garrett tweeted” [The Economist]. “Both sides have a point.”

“The only person responsible for shooting up a congressional baseball practice Wednesday in Alexandria, wounding a Republican congressman and several aides, is James Thomas Hodgkinson, 66, of Belleville, Ill. He died of a gunshot wound, but it was brought on by the rage in Democratic ranks of Trump Derangement Syndrome” [Washington Times].

“Gunman Who Shot GOP Congressman Was a ‘Loner'” [Time].

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, May 2017: “Forget about all the strength in the low sample-sized regional reports. Government data are not pointing to strength at all as manufacturing readings in the May industrial production report are a matter of concern” [Econoday]. “Industrial production could manage no better than an unchanged reading in May while the manufacturing component fell 0.4 percent. Both are lower than expected with manufacturing below Econoday’s low estimate. Vehicle production fell sharply in the month…. This report is bad news for durables data yet to be released not to mention factory payrolls.” That won’t help Trump in Michigan, Indian, Ohio….

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, June 2017: “Unrelenting acceleration is the continuing report from the Philly’s Fed manufacturing sample. The general business conditions index did slow from May’s outsized 38.8 but not by much, to a still very hot 27.6 in June that beats Econoday’s consensus for 26.0” [Econoday]. “New orders continue to pour in… hiring remains very strong… the extraordinary level of activity for this sample… This report started its amazing run late last year though its strength has been isolated and has yet to translate to anything near the same level of acceleration for actual factory data out of Washington.” Odd. “The data overall suggests that confidence in the manufacturing sector remains strong, especially as there was also a robust reading for the New York Empire manufacturing index. Confidence in the outlook is liable to increase slightly following the data” [Economic Calendar], Ah. Confidence.

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, June 2017: “May proved only a brief interruption for Empire State where the general business conditions index jumped from minus 1.0 to a much higher-than-expected 19.8 for June” [Econoday]. “Yet strength earlier in the year in this report, along with even greater acceleration in the Philly Fed report, have yet to pan out to similar strength for the nation’s factory sector.” Odd.

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 11, 2017: “The consumer comfort index remains very strong and just off expansion highs… Strong readings for confidence reflect strong optimism for employment” [Econoday].

Housing Market Index, week of June 2017: “Home builders have been very optimistic this year but are a little less upbeat this month” [Econoday]. “[E]xpectations for future sales, at 76, remain unusually strong with current sales also unusually strong at 73. The one component, however, that had been coming to life is back below 50 as traffic fell 2 points to 49. Lack of traffic, and here the emphasis is on first-time buyers, does not point to renewed strength for home sales data which started the year very strong but have since slowed.”

Jobless Claims, week of June 10, 2017: “Jobless claims remain extremely low and are consistent with strong demand for labor” [Econoday].

Import and Export Prices, May 2017: “April’s strength for import & export prices not only didn’t help consumer prices they proved one-month wonders as import prices fell a sharper-than-expected 0.3 percent in May with export prices down a very steep 0.7 percent” [Econoday]. “Price weakness is becoming an unwanted and very unexpected theme for the 2017 economy, weakness that points to troubles for demand and lack of wage punch for workers.”

Commodities: “Saudi Arabia is slashing its U.S. oil exports in a bid to reduce a global supply glut that has been hammering crude prices” [Wall Street Journal]. “The November deal to rein in oil output was supposed to reduce bloated global inventories, but U.S. companies have rushed in to fill the void. State-owned Saudi Arabian Oil Co. is the world’s largest oil producer and crude exporter, and the projected July drop in exports would amount to a near three-decade low for this time of year. Analysts say Aramco’s plans show Saudi Arabia is getting serious about addressing the supply glut, although some investors remain skeptical.”

Shipping: “Drewry expects the recent uptick in global containerised trade to continue through to the end of 2017 and has subsequently upped its full-year growth forecast to around 4%” [Lloyd’s Loading List].

Shipping: “A new rail freight service will link Northern Italy and China from September, according to a report by Italian business and news service Milano Finanza, becoming the second China-Italy rail freight service to launch this year” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “The report said DB Cargo would run the service in Europe, which will be largely dedicated to transporting cars at first. But Changjiu Logistics eventually hopes to branch out into other sectors like fashion, furniture, electronics and food.”

Shipping: “This was supposed to be the best of times for trucking companies. Fully right-sized since the Great Recession pared some fleets’ capacity, trucking executives were hoping to ride optimism from a newly elected pro-business president to the promised land of profits and overflowing trucks. It hasn’t quite turned out that way. Demand has been uneven. Seasonal uptick has been modest. And few trucking executives are expecting a robust “peak season” that traditionally started about now and ran past the Thanksgiving holiday” [Logistics Management].

Honey for the Bears: “States tend to be pro cyclical. As tax collections slow, so does spending” [Mosler Economics].

Honey for the Bears: “The drop [in retail sales] since November concerns me as that’s when all the credit aggregates picked up their pace of deceleration, including consumer credit” [Mosler Economics].

Political Risk: “Wall Street’s ‘fear index’ is on pace for its biggest daily pop in a month” [MarketWatch]. “The CBOE Volatility Index, or VIX, known colloquially as Wall Street’s fear gauge was up nearly 13% at 12.01 at its peak of the session, putting it on track to rise by the most since May 17, when it popped more than 46%. The metric, which tracks options betting on moves in the S&P 500 index SPX a month into the future, has been preternaturally quiescent over the past several months, but has had bouts of relative choppiness as investors fret about market valuations and absorb geopolitical developments, including the U.K.’s efforts to renegotiate longstanding trade agreements with the European Union and drama in the White House.”

Political Risk: “Trump won’t be removed from office — and that’s why the Trump Trade is over” [MarketWatch]. “There are five investigations into Trump right now; they’ll play out for months, if not years—possibly to the end of Trump’s term…. But the question is, what would it take for congressional Republicans to move against Trump? … This is why—and sorry, Trump haters—I think the president will serve out his term and will not be removed from office. If you want him gone, then do it the old-fashioned way: vote in 2020. That—at least for now—is the political reality. What does it mean for the markets? The so-called Trump trade boosted markets for a few months after election day, as speculators baked things like tax cuts into the cake [musical interlude]. But here we are, five months in and so far, there’s no budget agreement, no tax deal, no healthcare deal, nothing. For years, Republicans said ‘If we only had the White House and Congress at the same time.’ Now they do and there’s nothing to show for it. And it’s their fault: House and Senate GOP leaders can’t agree on much, and in the House itself, the GOP is splintered.” Ah. Reality.

Five Horsemen: “The Fearsome Five have suffered a dreadful relapse after J-Yel rudely smashed the punch bowl with her sceptre. God save the GOOG!” [Hat tip Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jun15

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 Neutral (previous close: 52, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jun 15 at 11:27am. Mr. Market is more neutral than ever.

Class Warfare

“The thesis of this essay is that the theory of the managerial elite explains the present transatlantic social and political crisis. Following World War II, the democracies of the United States and Europe, along with Japan—determined to avoid a return to depression and committed to undercutting communist anti-capitalist propaganda—adopted variants of cross-class settlements, brokered by national governments between national managerial elites and national labor. Following the Cold War, the global business revolution shattered these social compacts. Through the empowerment of multinational corporations and the creation of transnational supply chains, managerial elites disempowered national labor and national governments and transferred political power from national legislatures to executive agencies, transnational bureaucracies, and treaty organizations” [Michael Lind, American Affairs]. “This essay will conclude with speculation about the possibility of new cross-class settlements among dominant managerial minorities and subordinate working-class majorities in developed nations. These new settlements, if they emerge, will have two characteristics. Like the older settlements, they will be negotiated at the nation-state level, not at the transnational level. And just as the older social settlements were influenced by the world wars and the Cold War, so future cross-class settlements among managers and workers will be influenced by whether the geopolitical context is one of great-power peace or great-power rivalry.” Interesting.

“Rural America Is Stranded in the Dial-Up Age” [Wall Street Journal]. Nice work, empathetic urban cosmpolitan professionals! Well done, all.

News of the Wired

“Developers who use spaces make more money than those who use tabs” [StackOverflow]. That’s easy. Tabs are evil!

“Europe mostly ends mobile roaming fees from today” [TechCrunch]. What a hellhole. I’m glad we don’t do anything like that here in the US of A!

MMT for You and Me:

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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:

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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. VietnamVet

    Yesterday, the rabbit hole opened.

    From dreams of a second Vietnam tour to the reality of a firefight on the baseball diamond next to Jeff Davis Highway that I still drive a couple times a month to the bank and dentist. This is on top of the coup by spooks and media to overturn the 2016 election, the crash of an F-16C in the neighborhood and the restart of the Cold War with Russia.

    Steve Wozniak stated the obvious, there isn’t the infrastructure for autonomous vehicles to travel and communicate with each other safely. Instead the Uber Board Meeting forced the male hedge fund manager to resign for this;
    Huffington: “There’s a lot of data that shows when there’s one woman on the board, it’s much more likely that there will be a second woman on the board.”
    Bonderman: “Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking.”

    Not one word about the millions of “for hire” drivers and truckers who will lose their jobs and have to live in their vans and shower at the YMCA which is Uber’s ultimate business plan.

    The Pentagon gets to decide the number of troops to surge into Afghanistan and the seven other active wars.

    Eighteen killed in a flammable Aluminum clad London tower.

    Since Eric Holder gave them a get out of jail card, western sociopaths are free to risk incinerating us just to make a profit.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Eighteen killed in a flammable Aluminum clad London tower

      The Daily Mail published a cross section of the curtain wall. It shows a 3 mm thick aluminum composite rainscreen panel (with a polyethylene plastic core), a 50 mm air gap, Celotex insultation (rigid polyisocyanurate board, somewhere between 50 and 150 mm thick), and a 250 mm thick concrete structural wall.

      There are unverified claims that the rainscreen panels were affixed with wooden battens.

      If a serious inquiry is made, this rainscreen wall will be mocked up to a height of several stories over a laboratory furnace and lit off. All of the mentioned features are possible culprits, and may have been mutually reinforcing (e.g. the 50 mm air gap, which is typical in rainscreen construction, serving as a chimney).

      The rigid polyiso insulation doubtless was a thermal retrofit on a poorly insulated 1974 building. Tragic indeed if an energy efficiency upgrade ended up killing the residents.

      1. allan

        … if an energy efficiency upgrade ended up killing the residents.

        Nice, Jim, but life is more complicated:

        Grenfell Tower cladding that may have led to fire was chosen
        to improve appearance of Kensington block of flats

        The cladding that might have led to the horrifying blaze at Grenfell Tower was added partly to improve its appearance.

        During a refurbishment aimed at regeneration last year, cladding was added to the sides of the building to update its look. The cladding then seems to have helped the fire spread around the building, allowing it to destroy almost the entirety of the structure and kill people inside.

        And that cladding – a low-cost way of improving the front of the building – was chosen in part so that the tower would look better when seen from the conservation areas and luxury flats that surround north Kensington, according to planning documents, as well as to insulate it.

        “Due to its height the tower is visible from the adjacent Avondale Conservation Area to the south and the Ladbroke Conservation Area to the east,” a planning document for the regeneration work reads. “The changes to the existing tower will improve its appearance especially when viewed from the surrounding area.”

        1. David

          From the same article

          The council noted that the cladding would also improve insulation, helping keep sound and cold out from the building, and improve ventilation. An environmental statement said that the “primary driver behind the refurbishment” was to address the insulation and air tightness.

          1. Jim Haygood

            The original 250 mm (10 inch) concrete exterior wall has lots of thermal mass (good) but an R-value of about 1.5 … compared to a desired R-19 (i.e.,12 times better) for an exterior wall. These are US units … for SI units, divide by 5.67.

            Heating that monster would’ve been like trying to warm up the North Sea with a tea kettle. For sure the Celotex insulation board had to be covered, because you don’t want an exterior wall that looks like this:


      2. oho

        there is a hypothesis that the source of the fire was an exploding refrigerator.

        A “green” refrigerator that used butane as a refrigerant (versus HCFC)

      3. nothing but the truth

        They need to borrow some construction code inspectors from a US county.

        They can make big boys cry.

        1. Jim Haygood

          Incredibly, some governmental authorities in the US are exempt from building codes. The Port Authority of NY & NJ (which follows the code on a voluntary basis) is one example.

          There’s a bit of that flavor in this Wikipedia post about the local council-owned building:

          By 4 September 2014 a building regulations notice for the recladding work was submitted to the authority, and marked with a status of “Completed – not approved”.

          The use of a “Building Notice” building control application is used to remove the need to submit detailed plans and proposals to a building control inspector in advance, where the works performed will be approved by the inspector during the course of their construction.

          Building inspector Geoff Wilkinson remarked that this type of application is “wholly inappropriate for large complex buildings and should only be used on small, simple domestic buildings”.


          1. jsn

            Port Authority has its own building code which is a good bit more conservative than that of New York City or any of the New Jersey jurisdictions where the PA builds: they are exempt from local codes because they have their own.

          2. Dave D'Rave

            For example, the Twin Towers did not meet NYC building codes.
            I went up those towers once.

        2. Peter Van Erp

          After the Station Nightclub fire in West Warwick, RI 14 years ago, which killed 100, there was a long set of civil and criminal trials. The major criminal trial ended in a plea deal before any testimony under oath by any of the public officials involved. Neither the building inspector, the fire inspector, nor any members of the town council which approved the license change from restaurant to nightclub, ever paid any consequences for their negligence.
          I don’t hold out much hope for actual justice in London, except a couple lower functionaries may go to jail (or gaol) for a few years.

      4. Reini Urban

        One must note that such material would be illegal and impossible to use in most countries. Such buildings (>22m) need materials A1, not such B1 Celotex. Which is even the most harmless of these materials. Worst, the aluminium panel with polyethylene core is even toxic. In other countries many people would go to jail over this.

        1. jsn

          I suspect someone will go to jail for this.

          London has good fire codes that if adhered to would have prevented this: 30 years of vilification of public service, “there is no public, only people”, is to blame for this.

          Markets only value life to the extent “the public” forces them to and the UK public has been stripped of authority by the Thatcher ethos.

        1. jsn

          From what JH posted it appears some totally inappropriate private certification process was in use, like “self certification” here in NY that rewards the unscrupulous for gaming the system with other people’s lives and wealth.

          This is the kind of thing Matt Yglisias is always advocatong because it’s expensive to build things that don’t kill people either during construction or like this and he thinks nothing can be too cheap for the poor.

          The idea that public safety, like public health, is a cost rather than an asset is asshat conception only a neoliberal could believe.

  2. ChiGal in Carolina


    Not sure that’s a fern lol and that’s the same caption that ran with yesterday’s pic, which was a field of green.

    Me thinks a dandelion head, gloriously catching the – moonlight? –

    Anyway, it’s a wonderful image, thanks!

  3. Left in Wisconsin

    So Trump was here in the state yesterday and treated us to some tantalizing news:

    “Just backstage, we [Trump and former adversary turned lapdog Scott Walker] were negotiating with a major, major, incredible manufacturer of phones and computers and televisions and I think they’re going to give the governor a very happy surprise very soon.”

    So now everyone is speculating that we are going to get the big Foxconn plant, not Michigan (which is apparently willing to do anything to get it) or Pa, to whom it was promised in 2011 but that was then. Interesting that, this being Trump, no one is speculating that he was just bullsh1tting as normal.

    Of course, Walker has been moaning all spring about the fact that job growth in the state has been slow (the state lost mfg jobs in 2016; 6.5 years in and still not close to original 2010 promise of 250K jobs in first term) because we are literally out of workers.

    Oh yeah, our awesome state legislature yesterday made us #30 of 34 needed to call that awesome balanced budget amendment federal convention. Awesome.

    1. John k

      Now that is scary.
      Funny, though, the republican Feinstein was the senate vote that kept us from a balanced budget requirement years ago… and being even stupider then, I promised self never to vote for her again. Did keep promise…

  4. dcblogger

    many thanks to all who donate to lambert strether’s tip hat. Please send him enough so that he can come to Washington DC.

  5. Jim Haygood

    Lottery Hall of Shame for the failed state of IllNoise:

    The association that runs the popular Powerball lottery and Mega Millions games will drop Illinois at the end of June without a budget agreement.

    Illinois Lottery spokesman Jason Schaumburg on Thursday morning confirmed that the games will be dropped without a state budget. He said the association has had discussions since 2015 about dropping Illinois, but this is the first time the group has taken action.

    “Its unfortunate. Powerball was the only thing that I would buy, because I knew that it would pay out,” said Anthony Martinez, who lives in the Logan Square neighborhood. “With the Illinois budget crisis, it’s not a guarantee that Illinois’ going to actually pay out on your lottery winnings.”


    Though it never got the dignity of a Moody’s rating, La Cosa Nostra never failed to pay out on “da numbuhs” before the states muscled in to “improve” it. Ol’ Hank Thoreau had the number of IllNoise 170 years ago:

    I saw that the State was half-witted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Shedding no tears over IL losing the lottery. It sucked money out of the pockets of those who could least afford it

    2. dbk

      The excellent and always well-informed Rich Miller has published a memorandum from GOMB asking all agencies to prioritize, prioritize, prioritize in advance of what may turn out to be a stopgap budget, despite the fact that the governor has called legislators back to Springfield 21-30 June for a special session.

      It’s easy to say this is a disgrace and a betrayal of the people of Illinois, but of course, it’s never that easy on the ground. The comments on the linked piece give a small idea of what’s ultimately at stake in this standoff-to-the-death.

      1. Jim Haygood

        A neighbor of mine, a former SIU professor, has an Illinois state pension.

        Whatever budget kludge may be adopted this year, his long-term financial outlook resembles Edgar Allan Poe’s The Pit and the Pendulum.

        When man-on-the-street voters are discussing OPEB (Other Post Employment Benefits), it’s pretty late in the day. :-0

  6. allan

    Self-parody alert:

    NYT Politics‏ Verified account @nytpolitics 11 minutes ago

    The secrecy surrounding the Senate health bill has created an air of distrust and concern —
    from both parties

    Aiming for that coveted Pulitzer for Both-Sidism.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Agreed. He was a home inspector, and those people haven’t had an easy time of it for YEARS.

      1. Arizona Slim

        A friend’s grandson was in the construction industry. He was a building contractor and a real stickler for detail. Alas, the Great Recession beat his business to a pulp and he committed suicide.

        A local friend who was an auto mechanic did the same thing.

        So, I know of two deaths of despair. And I’m just one person.

        1. Bugs Bunny

          You’re not alone and I sympathize… It’s so unfair.

          A friend and very lovely man who was a self-employed building inspector in Wisconsin saw his business dry up and eventually stopped taking his meds. Pneumonia took him last Winter. His partner had to be institutionalized because he’s incapable of living alone (mental illness).

  7. Big River Bandido

    Thank you *so* much for posting that Jonathan Pie video the other day. I had never heard of him before; I must have watched that video 6 times in succession and then went on to others. Brilliant!

  8. craazyboy

    The so-called Trump trade boosted markets for a few months after election day, as speculators baked things like tax cuts into the cake [musical interlude].

    Soggy cake! Not good. No taxes for the rich will not be GDP accretive. Bummer.

    I guess an overpriced market wouldn’t like that, ’cause everyone knows rich people spend all their money – on stocks.

    Wonder if the Hillary Rye makers are really pulling a quite funny parody? We can hope. Maybe boutique flavored vodka makers can make vodka with genuine American grown potatoes?

  9. different clue

    I am barely reading this entry in the few minutes left before I have to get to work.

    I read about SecComm Ross’s warning to Africa. How will China react? Slowly and carefully, with advancing its long-range goal in mind. The ChinaGov may well try to make China more symbolically Afro-Imports friendly than Ross’s approach would symbolically feel. The point would be to get African deciders to look emotionally more towards China and less to America.

    The long range China goal remains the Co-Prosperity Sphere. I am trying to come up with a “best name” for the China goal . . . a name that scans so well that it just automatically gets adopted and used by other people. I am still trying to find it. Something that will indicate the size and scope of ChinaGov’s ambition.

    Something like the Greater East Hemisphere Co Prosperity Sphere or the Greater Afro-EurAsian Co Prosperity Sphere. Or . . . One China One World Co Prosperity Sphere. Can anyone else think of a better name?

  10. dcblogger

    As someone who has compared Trump to Hitler, let me just say that Trump spent much of 2016 inciting violence against his opposition, and not just references to “2nd amendment people.” The Muslim travel ban would only have been the beginning. It was stopped by all those wonderful people who demonstrated at the airports and the lawyers who gave of their time to fight this thing. Trump may be Hitler, but we are not Weimar Germany. It is not about strategic hate management, it is about describing things as we see them.

    1. Carolinian

      So “inciting people to violence” makes you Hitler? Really enough with the Hitler thing. It’s lazy and dumb.

      1. Knot Galt

        It’s not lazy or dumb. It’s comparative. Maybe there are better comparisons you can offer to form a better basis towards productive dialogue. And, if your looking for a better example of what ‘lazy and dumb’ is, you should look at
        June 15, 2017 at 4:11 pm

        Btw I don’t think Trump is Hitler but statements aren’t dissuading me from the possibility. We still have over 3 years to go.

        Below me; I’m not so sure Hitler was all that disciplined. Crazy is as crazy does?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Someone offered a Trump-Mao comparison.

          I wonder if that’s the young Mao or the old Mao.

          The young Mao was a Chinese Shiva. The old Mao was also a Chinese Shiva.

          “Will bare-foot doctors work in America?”

        2. Carolinian

          As used above it’s just a way of slagging Trump while adding no useful insight. There’s this thing called Godwin’s Law which states that all web discussions eventually invoke Hitler. The “law” is an arch comment on the superficiality of using Hitler in every discussion.

          But since you insist that using the “h” word is a valid form of argument how about:

          –calling Trump Hitler is a way of “inciting violence” since obviously if Trumps is as bad as Hitler he should be done away with by any means necessary.

          –therefore calling Trump Hitler is just like Hitler.

          See how that works?

          And BTW to my historical radar the Dems are a lot more like Hitler than Trump. They are even now spinning their own “stabbed in the back” myth to match the one that powered the defeated German soldiers–one of them named Hitler–after WW1. Trump, by comparison, is just bumbling around. It’s doubtful he ever even expected to win. It was a billionaire’s ego trip.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > It’s not lazy or dumb. It’s comparative. Maybe there are better comparisons

          In this instance, the reason there are better comparisons — mine is Kaiser Wilhelm, which isn’t “supporting Trump” if you think about it — is that this one is sloppy and dumb.

          Read Richard Evans on the Third Reich. Wilhelmine Germany, followed by Weimar, really are not a whole lot like America. We have plenty of horrific figures of our own to pattern Trump after. For example, Woodrow Wilson was a horrible human being who lied us into World War I, fomented a Red Scare, and resegregated the Federal government. Trump hasn’t been able to match that record, not even remotely, though of course there’s still time! If you’re serious about “resisting” Trump, false and inflammatory historical analogies would seem a flimsy basis to do so, especially if you want the country to head in a Sanders-esque, as opposed to a Clintonite, direction.

          1. flora

            Woodrow Wilson, resegregrated the Federal Govt., while claiming entering WWI was to make the world “safe for Democracy.”….. yep.

          2. jsn

            I’ve been using the Kaiser analogue too, but it’s as if he were the king of Great Brittan rather than heir to Bismarck’s Germany.

            The US being now a similarly hollow and exhausted “pre war”, warring empire to the not so Great Brittan of 1913.

            1913 UK with the Kaiser calling the shots is a better analogue than Andropov’s Soviet Union, which I had been using but now that I think about it had a sort of Obama vibe.

            Huey Long is what an effective Trump could aspire to.

          3. darthbobber

            If you’ve read Evan’s trio of books you might also consider Karl Dietrich Bracher’s “The German Dictatorship.” Its dry in the way that only a German historian can manage, but it musters a wealth of detail and presents it coherently.
            If I was going to pick an actual fascist as a model for Trump, which I’m not inclined to do, Mussolini would be a vastly closer fit than Hitler, both in terms of the nature of the “movement” and the personality and priorities of the leader. People seem to forget that Mussolini held power a lot longer than the Nazis did, for a dozen years he was THE fascist head of state. The lack of any coherent policy other than holding on to power, and the elevation of dominating a day’s headlines even at the cost of sacrificing Italian interests to do so would be one common denominator. And on a superficial level, the choice of the ponderous pout as a preferred public face is another.

            But more than any of the fascists, I’d look to Napoleon the Second of France and the nexus of corruption [and the privatized infrastructure program that was the rebuilding of Paris, which Harvey among others devote considerable attention to], managed press and selective mild repression coupled with free elections to a parliament universally seen as corrupt

          4. fajensen

            … serious about “resisting” Trump, false and inflammatory historical analogies would seem a flimsy basis to do so,

            In the “Age of Unreason”, the proxy or KPI for “seriousness” is click-ratings, page-views and virtue signalling. Not actual results. Results take unacceptably too long for the frantic brains marinating in “Social Media” Content.

            The louder the screeching, the more unreasonable the cause or position, the better it is for FaceBook, Twitter, Scott Adams, The Daily Mail …. and so on and so forth!

    2. voteforno6

      It’s a lazy, and kind of outrageous comparison. As bad as Trump as been, there’s nothing that indicates that he wants to engage in genocide. Besides, he doesn’t seem to be nearly as disciplined as Hitler.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        The world would be a better place if someone would just give Trump a pocket mirror and a little battery powered applause box.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Like inviting him to more rallies?

          Those Deplorables with his face on a giant screen…

        2. ChiGal in Carolina

          Another option from John Whitehead: we could be civil to those we disagree with.

          Connect the dots, people.

          The government doesn’t care about who you voted for in the presidential election or whether you think the Civil War was fought over states’ rights versus slavery. It doesn’t care about your race or gender or religion or sexual orientation.

          When the police state cracks down, it will not discriminate.

          We’ll all be muzzled together.

          We’ll all be jailed together.

          We’ll all be viewed as a collective enemy to be catalogued, conquered and caged.

          Thus, the last thing we need to do is play into the government’s hands by turning on one another, turning in one another, and giving the government’s standing army an excuse to take over.


          1. WobbyTelomeres

            Read a Piers Anthony novel a few years ago (30 == few) where it was explained that no one had seen or heard from God for 800 years because he had found a mirror.

      2. different clue

        If Gaza is the Warsaw Ghetto, even though the Gaza population keeps increasing,
        then Trump is Hitler, even though he hasn’t suggested genocide.

        One good lazy deserves another.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Again, if Trump were Hitler:

      1) The case can be made that it’s moral to assassinate him. Do you support this?

      2) He isn’t, because he hasn’t built the institutional structures that Hitler built. He hasn’t filled the government with his supporters, he hasn’t abolished other parties, doesn’t control a party with a paramilitary force, etc., etc., etc. You can’t defeat your enemy if you don’t know him. Since I believe that gridlock is our friend, I’m not unhappy that liberal Democrat hysteria and angst are leading them to discredit themselves*, but the agnotology they’re creating in the populace is going to be with us for years to come, and that I am unhappy with.

      * A pause to picture Schumer and President Pence finally signing off on the Grand Bargain, in the spirit of bipartisanship.

    4. Rosario

      Learn from history don’t prescribe by it. Trump is Trump. For all we know he may turn out worse than Hitler. Hopefully better. It’s difficult to strategically resist reactionary politics if they are not understood as they are.

      In addition, history and the present need to be understood in terms of systems, not individuals. There were countless Hitler-like people in Germany in the 20s and 30s. Antisemetic, bitter, alienated, looking for meaning. It took a ripe environment to create the kinds of horrors that came out of the late 30s and 40s Europe. Global financial downturn, colonialism reaching geographic limits, corrupt and inept German politics, centuries of antisemitic culture. Hitler hit all the right strides at the right time. This is not to say it was a matter of fate, more that problems are more complicated than simply individuals or parties coming into power messing things up. They exist long before they are politically explicit.

      It is the same with Trump. He embodies all the ugliness and stupidity of the US, corrupt capitalism, violent policing, xenophobia, misogyny, simple-minded solutions, on and on. It isn’t like his coming into office birthed these problems. They existed generations prior. So the solution needs to be a clear headed systems level solution, not a political gimmick or superficial changing of the guard.

      1. Yves Smith

        With all due respect, what basis do you have for thinking that Trump do things like gas millions of people? And the US isn’t remotely comparable to Germany in the 20s, which has lost the Great War, had a vindictive treaty foisted on it (read Keynes’ The Economic Consequences of the Peace) and then suffered devastating hyperinflation? There’s no comparison. Plus Hitler took Germany out of the Depression into rapid growth, restored German’s sense of self confidence by defying the WWI victors and rearming, and was very popular at home. By contrast, Trump has gotten almost nothing done and his approval ratings are at basement levels.

        1. Rosario

          Yves, for what it is worth I am agreeing with your sentiments, take him for what he is not for what we project him to be. I’m sorry if it wasn’t clear. My stating he may be worse is coming from the fact that he still has time remaining in office. Who knows what can happen, and I think it is dangerous to assume that leader’s behaviors are foregone conclusions. I can’t commit to saying something is impossible. Ultimately, I’m was trying to critique the historical comparisons and hysterics surrounding it, not endorse it.

          As far as the history, I am well aware of the conditions leading to the rise of German fascism. I thought I alluded to as much above. My other point is that Trump is a reaction to a broader systemic problem. He is not the cause. This is something I thought you were in agreement with and something I was hoping to convey. I guess I did not. Yes, I agree with you, Trump is absolutely not Hitler and it is hyperbole to say so, though I would argue that Trump was not born out of an ideal national environment. This is about the only thing he shares with Hitler and countless other reactionary leaders throughout history.

        2. vidimi

          under the right circumstances, i can definitely see trump exterminating millions of people. Rosario is right, it’s the circumstances that create the monster.

          say the US became embroiled in a real war (instead of just punching down all the time), US muslims would likely be as mistrusted as the Jews were in Germany or the armenians were in the Ottoman empire. once a whole group of people is identified as traitors undermining the war effort, it isn’t much of a stretch to think they would be killed. it’s the country’s framework that tends to determine the outcome and not the man in charge.

        3. Tully

          Among all the reasons for Hitler’s rise to power is the fact that Anglo-American capital helped to finance his rise to power. Why? Because Hitler would destroy the Bolsheviks (the enemy of Anglo-American capital). Additionally, at least a few historians believe Hitler was “conjured” so that Anglo-American capital would have an excuse to “nip in the bud” the German hegemon (the first attempt, WWI, having failed).

  11. Vatch

    I find the comparisons between the Giffords shooting and the Scalise shooting to be a bit strained. Yes, there are similarities, but there is also a huge difference. Obama never encouraged his supporters to commit violence, but Trump did do that. For example, see:


    When the President encourages his supporters to commit violence on his behalf, there can be unintended consequences. For example, one of his opponents might follow his advice and commit violence.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And to those who think that one of those “heroes with a gun” would have made a difference, I have these things to say:

      Unless you are highly trained and routinely practice in high-stress situations (think military personnel or law enforcement officers conducting preparedness exercises), you probably won’t be very effective.

      Furthermore, there was one of those “heroes with a gun” at the Safeway on January 8, 2011. He drew his weapon and almost fired. It’s a good thing he didn’t, because he would have shot the people who were subduing Jared Lee Loughner.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unfortunately, when someone is beating you up, not being a mahatma, you might have to resort to force or violence to save yourself.

      So violence is not always bad.

      It is bad when it’s used on defenseless TV screens, fetuses, animals, vegetables, children, recreational baseball players, etc.

      Challenging to a sword duel or pistol (yikes) duel seems to be a more PR effective form of violence.

    3. David

      Obama never encouraged his supporters to commit violence

      Obama’s speech on drone policy (5/24/2013)

      But by narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life…

      …But when a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens, and when neither the United States, nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot, his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a SWAT team.

      …Going forward, I’ve asked my administration to review proposals to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of warzones that go beyond our reporting to Congress.

      Regarding violence, Obama led by example.

      1. Vatch

        When I wrote my comment, I had the odious drone situation in mind. I tried to be specific by referring to what Obama asked his supporters to do in comparison to what Trump asked his supporters to do, and Obama clearly differs from Trump.

        As for other types of violence recommended by Trump, remember when he said that we should “take out” the families of terrorists?


        There are many reasons why I don’t like Obama, but none of those change the fact that Trump is worse.

    4. Lynne


      “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night. “Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

      Can we please get over this idea that Obama is blameless in everything? This is a president who repeatedly mocked and ridiculed anyone with whom he disagreed. The only difference when it comes to Trump in that respect is that the press piled on WITH Obama.

      1. jrs

        who has the idea that Obama is blameless of everything? That’s different than taking words out of context and not understanding a metaphor is obviously a metaphor. Obama derangement still going strong long after it matters.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The discussion is whether Obama urged his supporters to commit violence.

          Per the Politico quote, he did.

          Is committing violence in self-defense bad? Only if it involves excess violence/force or not proportionate response.

          I think Obama could have said, ‘if they bring a knife, we have bring an ex-Marine knife-disarming training sergeant.” (I saw that on a John Wayne movie once, I think).

          That’s how morally superior people gain their moral superiority on superstitious, backward looking, without college education rubes.

        2. Vatch

          Thank you. Obama was clearly using a metaphor. When Trump said that he might pay the legal expenses of supporters who commit violence at his rallies, there was no metaphor.

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Obama never encouraged his supporters to commit violence,

      No, but the Clintonites are. That’s the only way to read the Hitler analogy of you take it seriously.* And they also wish death on Trump voters. That’s not going to end well.

      NOTE * As usual with liberals, it’s indirect (unlike with conservatives). “Will no one rid me of this troublesome President?”

  12. Altandmain

    Looks like Tim Canova wants a rematch against the former DNC Chair:

    More corporate tax cuts:

    The Nation on Berniecrats

    Media coverage of Cobryn

    I’m thinking that right now, if the Sanders base can intensify the civil war in the Democratic Party, it might lead to a lot of good. They won’t win in 2020, but it is looking like Sanders himself is getting increasingly frustrated too.

    1. Another Anon

      From the New Statesman in today’s link:

      “Corbynism was never about Jeremy,” one of his closest allies told me this week. “It still isn’t. It is about policy!”

      If only the Democrat party would realise this

      1. different clue

        The Clintonite Sh*tobamacrats realize it very well. That’s why they are trying to exclude anyone from the party who can upgrade policy.

        That’s why the Democratic Party has to either be decontaminated or incinerated.

        Either bernie it up, or burn it down.

  13. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Ossoff

    “it looks like the Democrats have fallen back on their favorite play: Running a fake Republican against a real one.”

    Which is the fake one?

    Having lived through Parker Griffith here in Alabama, I hope my confusion is understandable.

    1. InquiringMind

      She drowned in a puddle while attacking a rabid raccoon?!? That rabid raccoon can wrestle!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      They seem to have disambiguated the headline, which now reads:

      Mainer attacked by rabid raccoon drowns it in puddle


      “It felt like [Stephen King’s] ‘Pet Sematary,’” she said.

      True for a lot of things these days!

  14. oho

    ““A stunning 50% of the CEOs, business execs, government officials and academics surveyed at the annual Yale CEO Summit give Trump an “F”

    meh. Instinctively, anything CEOs hate, true liberals should praise. :)

    and all those F’s can be read two ways—

    hey Trump, why are you so determined to destroy DC? or

    hey Trump, why haven’t you destroyed DC yet?

  15. anonymous

    Suspicious packages with powder payloads delivered to Karen Handel’s home today, and apparently to some of her neighbors as well. How long until the right wing answers their invitation to the dance? Not long, I’d guess. Oh yeah, cue the usual shrieks of false flag attack in 3,2,1…

  16. PKMKII

    Theme I’ve seen being hammered on Hodgkinson (besides trotting out some violent revolutionary tweets of days past from folks like Rand Paul) is that he had a history of domestic violence. That that, moreso than politics, was the distant early warning.

    1. Knot Galt

      I do think the fabric of society is becoming a little more threadbare with each passing day.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a history of domestic violence. That that, moreso than politics, was the distant early warning

      Good point. But again, things are overdetermined. I can’t imagine that being a home inspector was an easy job, as others pointed out on this thread. Speculating and armchair psychologizing very freely, the mentality would be “If I’m going down, I’m taking others with me.” Who the “others” are, depends; see Ames on “going postal.”

  17. Altandmain

    It gets worse for Uber:
    Uber rape victim sues Uber, says execs got her medical records

    A woman who was raped in India by an Uber driver has filed a second lawsuit against the ride-hailing company. She says that Uber executives unlawfully acquired and shared her medical records relating to the sexual assault.

    The victim, a Texas resident who filed her lawsuit as an anonymous Jane Doe, was raped by an Indian Uber driver in late 2014. After Doe’s allegations became public, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said “what happened over the weekend in New Delhi is horrific” and pledged his company’s support in prosecuting the driver.

    I think Uber is going to go down as a case study as to how many times you can mess up.

  18. sgt_doom

    Does this sound familiar to anybody?


    The Collapse of The Roman Empire

    One outcome of diminishing returns to complexity is illustrated by the collapse of the Western Roman Empire. As a solar-energy based society which taxed heavily, the empire had little fiscal reserve. When confronted with military crises, Roman Emperors often had to respond by debasing the silver currency (Figure 4.2) and trying to raise new funds. In the third century A.D. constant crises forced the emperors to double the size of the army and increase both the size and complexity of the government. To pay for this, masses of worthless coins were produced, supplies were commandeered from peasants, and the level of taxation was made even more oppressive (up to two-thirds of the net yield after payment of rent). Inflation devastated the economy. Lands and population were surveyed across the empire and assessed for taxes. Communities were held corporately liable for any unpaid amounts. While peasants went hungry or sold their children into slavery, massive fortifications were built, the size of the bureaucracy doubled, provincial administration was made more complex, large subsidies in gold were paid to Germanic tribes, and new imperial cities and courts were established. With rising taxes, marginal lands were abandoned and population declined. Peasants could no longer support large families. To avoid oppressive civic obligations, the wealthy fled from cities to establish self-sufficient rural estates. Ultimately, to escape taxation, peasants voluntarily entered into feudal relationships with these land holders. A few wealthy families came to own much of the land in the western empire, and were able to defy the imperial government. The empire came to sustain itself by consuming its capital resources; producing lands and peasant population (Jones 1964, 1974; Wickham 1984; Tainter 1988, 1994b). The Roman Empire provides history’s best-documented example of how increasing complexity to resolve problems leads to higher costs, diminishing returns, alienation of a support population, economic weakness, and collapse. In the end it could no longer afford to solve the problems of its own existence.


    Figure 4.2. Debasement of the Roman silver currency, 0-269 A.D. (after Tainter 1994b with modifications). The chart shows grams of silver per denarius (the basic silver coin) from 0 to 237 A.D., and per 1/2 denarius from 238-269 A.D. (when the denarius was replaced by a larger coin tariffed at two denarii).

  19. toolate

    93 Americans are gunned down every day on average. We don’t hear too much about what “incited them”.
    Oddly enough, most of the news buried the same day tragedy in SF.

    one would almost think that there are some hidden agenda at work here…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Still, one Dallas-touring president gunned down was enough to shake the nation.

      It’s hard to mix in meaningfully numbers or math into the human reality.

      “Do we stop and mourn our deceased leader, or was he just one of the 90 plus?”

      1. sgt_doom

        You mean the last actual democrat and progressive was killed while in the White House?

        The man who gave us the NASA Apollo Moon Project and all the subsequent technical innovations from that? The administration which seriously got behind the development of the Internet, which would eventually provide us with the WWW?

        You mean the president who promoted the passage of the Interest Equalization Act (and was actually the architect of it) to induce American investors in amortize the American economy?

        You mean the man who desegregated Ole Miss and the Washington Redskins?

        You mean the man who signed NSAM 263 and sent out those State Department memos just before he was murdered, indicating a complete withdrawal of all American advisors by 1965?

        You mean the president who signed Executive Order 11110, which pumped out $4.3 billion directly to the nation, bypassing the Federal Reserve so that the $4.3 billion was debt-free monies, as opposed to the usual debt-based money, whose interest would have to normally be paid back to the Fed, while increasing the national debt?

        You mean assassinated president who Fake News King, Dan Rather, lied about when he was one of the earliest select few allowed to view the Zapruder film:


        And what actually happened:


        And also view this more recent Dan Rather:


        And now watch the unedited version of Lee Oswald:


        1. darthbobber

          I think they were referring to the actually existing Jack Kennedy, not the mythological reconstruction bearing the same name. Though the confusion is understandable.

        2. darthbobber

          Very serious misreading of executive order 11110, which did little more than delegate existing presidential authority to the Treasury Sec., and was intended as a temporary measure. Kennedy himself was actually the instigator of the demonetization of silver, and the silver certificates envisaged by this order were a stopgap to cover the transition. And the demise of Kennedy did not lead to the demise of Executive Order 11110, which remained on the books for nearly a quarter of a century until finally superceded by an order of Reagan’s during his second term.

          I personally think NSAM 263 is also creatively misread by those who wish to absolve Kennedy of responsibility for the future course of Vietnam. It does not commit to either the reductions or the eventual withdrawal, but opines that things are going so swimmingly that this COULD be done. It was also based on the assumption that Diem would remain in power, but his fall happened about 20 days before Kennedy’s assassination.

          It was at least partly intended as a reelection campaign document, I suspect, with the token withdrawal of a thousand to occur well in advance of the election, the war to be presented as going swimmingly, but the date when, if all went well, we SHOULD be able to withdraw, conveniently many months after what it was hoped would be the second inauguration.

  20. allan

    U.S. consumer financial watchdog accuses congressional critics of ‘misstatements’ [Reuters]

    The head of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accused congressional critics of relying on “misstatements” to criticize his agency, which was set up under former President Barack Obama to pursue bad behavior by financial institutions.

    Richard Cordray, the bureau’s director, wrote to “correct the record” in a letter sent to a congressional panel on Wednesday regarding a recent report critical of the CFPB’s work in a high-profile scandal.

    The five-page letter took issue with multiple conclusions reached in a report released earlier this month by Republican staff on the House Financial Services Committee. …

    Said `report’ was discussed here a few days ago. The history of congressional reports not voted on by full committees but prepared and released by GOP members and staff is not pretty. Distrust but verify.

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