2:00PM Water Cooler 6/19/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, this will be a somewhat abbreviated Water Cooler, because this is my last day in London, and I have to run around and do some things. I will rant about “contactless payment” tomorrow. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. Oh, and the Ossoff race ends tomorrow. Should be interesting, either way. –lambert

Not the only dubious claims in Piccadilly, I’d say:



“Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Friday introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would remove the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and ease restrictions on cannabis research” [247 Wall Street]. Bernie?


“Doing nothing only cements the idea that the Resistance is successfully blocking all Trump’s initiatives and will win more adherents to its supposedly successful efforts. Only legislative motion will change that narrative. If the Republican-controlled Congress cannot pass conservative reform legislation, then the party has all but conceded the 2018 midterm elections, which will usher in Democratic efforts to impeach the president. And if Republicans cannot act when they control both the Congress and the White House, then what good are they anyway as a party?” [Victor Davis Hansen, American Greatness]. (I’m not as adept with the conservative taxonomy as I should be, but I think Hansen is a neocon, given that he’s a military historian in favor of the Iraq War. Readers?)

“Two years ago, they couldn’t look away. Now some Trump supporters are tuning out” [WaPo]. “‘Okay, so something happened — get over it and move on,’ said David Vanauken, an engineer. ‘That’s what middle-class people do every day: You have a struggle, you resolve it, and you move on. Don’t keep hanging on it'” [WaPo].


GA-06: “The poll shows Democrat Jon Ossoff with 49.7 percent among likely voters in the historically Republican district, while his opponent Karen Handel is right at his heels with 48 percent” [The Hill]. “The race is the most expensive House race in history, with both candidates spending around $50 million.”

GA-06: Ossoff to press: “We’re doing everything we can to make sure folks know when and where to vote and how. And making the case for fresh leadership given what’s going on in Washington. And that sending another career politician to D.C. ain’t going to change anything” [The Hill]. I’ve helpfully underlined the clichés. But “ain’t,” Jon. “Ain’t.” Really?

GA-06: “‘Now the unhinged left is endorsing and applauding shooting Republicans. When will it stop?’ the ad states. ‘It won’t if Jon Ossoff wins on Tuesday, because the same unhinged leftists cheering last week’s shooting are all backing Jon Ossoff. And if he wins, they win'” [Washington Examiner]. Both Ossoff and Handel condemned the ad.

GA-06: “In public, the [Democrat] party insists that the mere act of keeping the contest close in a district the GOP routinely wins by over 20 points is a victory in itself. But behind closed doors, operatives and lawmakers expect a withering round of internal second-guessing if they come up short after pumping enough money into the pro-Ossoff effort to make it the most expensive congressional race ever” [Politico]. “[I]nternal second-guessing” the Democrats have hitherto successfully avoided, even after Shattered.

GA-06: “A source familiar with the Ossoff campaign said their modeling shows that 10 to 15 percent of Republican voters could break to Ossoff, who is also winning virtually every Democratic voter. Analysis by a GOP analytics firm after the April primary showed that Ossoff was already attracting a small but significant share of cross-party support at that point” [Politico]. As I keep saying, the Ossoff campaign is the Clinton 2016 post-Convention pivot to the right all over again, except with a more attractive candidate (not, granted, a high bar).

GA-06: ” If Jon Ossoff is able to win Tuesday’s congressional election he’ll owe the victory in large part to an army of women in the wealthy Atlanta suburbs, many of whom — driven by guilt over not helping Hillary Clinton enough in 2016 — have spent dozens of hours a week volunteering for the 30-year old Democrat” [USA Today]. As I was saying…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trump’s job performance wins approval from only 35 percent of the public, while 64 percent disapprove, according to a new poll released late last week from The Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research” [The Hill]. “Republican strategist Dan Judy argued that voters who had backed Trump with some ambivalence over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton last November were among those most likely to be put off by the various controversies to afflict the White House, and by the president’s incendiary style. ‘A lot of people — the ‘Not Hillary’ Trump voters — knew who Donald Trump was, they knew what kind of person he was,’ said Judy, who worked with the president’s GOP primary rival Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) last year. ‘They were willing to tolerate some of the theatrics and some of the disruption it led to, as long as it led to a policy agenda they supported. ‘The longer he goes without real policy victories, the less patience they are going to have.'” Which is, of course, a happy side effect of Putin Derangment Syndrome. It’s hard for a lawyered up White House staff to function, and gridlock is our friend.

Trump voters are not a “deplorable” monolith:

“By running for president as a Republican and frequently campaigning with rhetoric borrowed from the Democratic playbook, Mr. Trump has brought into question the entire architecture of modern American politics. Because he did so at a time when the Democrats (and their nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton) campaigned on issues congenial to urban elites and university liberals rather than the blue-collar voters FDR brought into the Democratic coalition, this is the perhaps the pre-eminent question in American civic life today. The way it is answered will shape American politics long after Mr. Trump fades from the scene” [RealClearPolitics]. Some of the non-Bannonite Trump voters are Obama voters who flipped to Trump in 2016. So far as I can tell, the Democrats are offering these voters nothing but the usual message: “You have no place to go.” I’m not sure that’s a good idea, especially given that these voters are both policy-driven and willing to put party aside. “‘Tis better to be vile than vile esteemed” is Shakespeare’s acute take on the politics of smear artistry…

“The $2 Billion Powerhouse Behind Jon Ossoff” [Mother Jones]. And the deck: “ActBlue wants to use Bernie-style fundraising to win in Georgia—and across the country.” Not necessarily an unalloyed good. Suppose all the candidates leveraging ActBlue support Ossoff’s anti-MedicareForAll position?

“How the Deep State Built Its Field of Dreams” [American Thinker]. It’s interesting to watch the ease with which conservatives adopt and transform liberal memes (“deep state,” “fake news”), and also worth asking why that’s so.

“Victories against Trump are mounting. Here’s how we deal the final blow” [Rebecca Solnit, Guardian]. If Solnit is for #MedicareForAll, I can’t find a link, so I suppose Solnit is in the “never, ever” camp. I don’t have a lot of patience with soi disant liberals who don’t put saving the lives of Americans by getting them health care anywhere on their list of priorities.

“Yes, Democrats need a civil war: Believe it or not, it’s the only real path back to power” [Salon] (lower case “c,” lower case “w,” not the way I originally read the headline. “Democrats waste millions on corporate marketing techniques that work only for the other side. Their technology contains the seeds of their defeat. The 2012 Obama campaign was hailed for its advances in data mining and narrowcasting to niche markets. But saying different things to different people isn’t how you get change. It’s how you stop it. The way you get change is by engaging a whole nation in a single debate.” Bill Curry, amazingly enough, was counselor to President Bill Clinton. Now he’s a single payer supporter….

Stats Watch

Shipping: “Drewry predicts a second wave of mergers soon involving medium-size carriers – leading to even fewer options for shippers – as Japanese lines’ merger progresses” [Lloyd’s Loading].

Shipping: “Charleston reopens after ‘dirty bomb’ box threat” [Lloyd’s Loading]. “The original reporting source of the “threat” has been detained by authorities for further questioning, [the US Coast Guard] added.”

Concentration: “Amazon’s $13.7 billion purchase of Whole Foods Friday also took a major customer away from its closest rival in the cloud. Whole Foods is a Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Office 365 customer [Supply Chain 247]. “It looks like Amazon is going to operate Whole Foods independently, like it has with other major acquisitions like Zappos and Twitch, but at some point it will be hard for the Whole Foods tech group to ignore the value of its parent company’s services. Also, Amazon Web Services already hosts a lot of Whole Foods technology through the grocer’s partnership with Infor, a software-as-a-service company that is helping Whole Foods replace 12 separate and different legacy systems with one cloud-based system.”

The Bezzle: “Winners and losers in Amazon’s $13.7B purchase of Whole Foods” [TechCrunch]. I skipped the cheerleading to pull out this: “As Instacart has grown, it has faced a ton of costly backlash from contractors and customers who have been frustrated with its lack of pricing transparency. But still, it is growing and has built something that more than Amazon will want to have.” And this: “…[T]he kind of operations that Blue Apron has used to propel itself to an imminent IPO with a balance sheet that doesn’t look all that bad.” And: “[N]ow there is a price out there for Slack — and it’s pretty high. It might attract buyers out of the woodwork, especially some that could make a pitch if Amazon is off the table after spending this kind of money on Whole Foods.”

The Bezzle: “Real name policies and ruling the world” [The Artificial Intelligence Blog]. “Facebook’s real name policy is inherently naive, dangerous and evil. Ever since Silicon Valley was empowered to strive for real-world domination, there have been countless attempts to disrupt lives by collecting, storing, redistributing personal information to turn a profit and grow power… The reason for having a real name policy is straightforward. The business goal of Facebook – and most any other Silicon Valley company – is to collect, aggregate, redistribute and sell personal information. As opposed to basic meta-data collection, real person information is a goldmine. Being able to track and profile two billion real identities (monthly active users) makes for a per-user value of $219. Non-real-name platforms like Twitter are currently valued at $38 per user.” However, there’s no link to the $219 figure, nor any mention of a source. Readers?

The Fed: “[G]iven the current yield curve, it looks like it may be very difficult, if not impossible for the Fed to shrink its balance sheet without affecting the federal funds rate inadvertently. Which means, practically, the Fed may not be able to shrink its balance sheet in the current environment as much as it wants to, if at all” [247 Wall Street].

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 59 Greed (previous close: 50, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 55 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jun 19 at 10:24am. Ten point swing to greed. Maybe Mr. Market thinks that London’s financial bottom feeders are going to move to Manhattan after Brexit, and not Frankfurt or Paris? I mean, if they want “light touch” regulation, it’s hard to beat our “CEOs never get prosecuted for anything, ever” approach (thanks, Obama!).


“The Clash Over Water in Waukesha, Wisconsin” [JSTOR]. Fascinating read. Everything old is new again…

News of the Wired

“If companies interviewed tech recruiters the way they interview programmers” [Medium].

“Death pools can bring financial security for the long-lived” [The Economist]. A tontine, premise of The Wrong Box, one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. “When I die, my son… All this will be yours.” “Yes, Father” [pushes father’s wheelchair downhill].

Speaking of complexity, metabolic pathways (image). Reminds me of the First Speaker’s map of the Seldon Plan in the Foundation series….

“A chronic low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice” [Nature]. Friends, there’s good news tonight!

* * *

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 (Phil H):

Phil H writes:

I couldn’t help but notice this 3-foot tall stalk with a 15-inch blossom which had appeared in a flowerbed I was going to weed a few days ago. Nothing like it had ever been there before. As a special feature, it stinks like rotting flesh & attracts the same flies that hang around dead chipmunks.

The leaves are interesting with smallish chevron-like silvery streaks. And those leaves, I do remember seeing them in that spot before … which was a clue. Several years ago … like at least 5 or 6 years ago … I vaguely remember planting several different plants or bulbs from a gardenweb.com plant swap in that general area. But, alas, the little plantlets were badly chewed by rabbits or groundhogs & did not seem to have survived.

I also remember weeding the bed A few years ago & noticing a small plant with unusual leaves. It wasn’t anything I recognized as a weed, so I left it. And left it again a few times … an attractive little plant that never bloomed. Until now.
Attached please find a photo of my Dragon Flower (Dracunculus vulgaris) … also known as Dragon Arum, Voodoo Lily, Black Lily, & various other names. You can look it up on davesgarden.com, where google’s image-matching search led me so that I could find out what plant I had.

As a bonus, I’m also attaching a close-up photo showing the flies. You can use it if you need to take a break from the usual antidotes & feature carrion flies without having to show any distracting actual carrion.

And so:

* * *

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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. nycTerrierist

    Looking forward to your rant about ‘contactless payment’.
    What could go wrong?

    Enjoy your last day in London.

    1. craazyboy

      Be sure to have at least one Nut Brown Ale and Russian Imperial Stout.

      They may embargo Russian Imperial Stout, and shoot down all bottles on sight!

      1. JustAnObserver

        Probably not as the “men in grey suits” from Conservative Central Office have moved unusually quickly to claim first dibs on him.

  2. Vatch

    “Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Corey Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Friday introduced a bill in the U.S. Senate that would remove the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and ease restrictions on cannabis research” [247 Wall Street]. Bernie?

    So far, Booker is the only sponsor listed for the Senate version of this bill. No Rand Paul or Kirsten Gillibrand yet. Maybe the web site will catch up tomorrow.


    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Booker: Hey kids, you like the marijuana, right? I’m hip!

      My guess is his record isn’t helping his White House ambitions.

      1. DJG

        N T G: This may be coming from Democratic central: I know that I enjoy harping on my state senator Heather “Me Loves Charters” Steans, also a Hillary delegate from Illinois. Her newest issue? Legalizing marijuana. Hey, we can smoke doobies in the rubble of the public school system.

        I’m getting a whiff that this all comes out of some focus group run by D W S.

        1. tempestteacup

          And why not? You’d be creating a taxable market for a newly legal commodity and producing an entirely cost-neutral or cost-positive way to sheepdog “the kids” into your party by signalling just how much you get their concerns – and that, when all’s said and done, between Snapchat and casual sex, what that really boils down to is getting high.

          Having allowed your political horizon to be drawn by your corporate pimps, this is what you’re left with – legislating for or about things that don’t cost anyone any money. Legalising marijuana, gay marriage, transgender bathrooms. Even where these might be valid reforms, they amount to little more than a dumbshow of change and in most cases complement perfectly the interests of bourgeois professionals like yourself. Together, they form a crushingly low set of expectations for what is politically possible. Worse, they eagerly embrace the Republican/reactionary view of phony culture wars, wasting time and political energy in a noxious tango over a series of “symbolic” victories or rollbacks.

          Of course, when “the kids” display a slightly cooler-than-expected response to this wondrously progressive sop to their core desires by demanding things like debt-free higher education or healthcare, it becomes clear pretty fast that their hip representatives would prefer they shut up and be happy with what they’ve got – maybe they’d feel better if they just got high.

          1. Allegorio

            The fact is Big Pharma does not like legalization. They are working on patenting cannabis derivatives. Notice how grow your own is being persecuted in Colorado. Likewise Cannabis is turning out to be a miracle cure for many diseases obviating Big Pharma’s pharmacopia. Surprised Booker was given permission.

      2. UserFriendly

        If this were about actually getting enough support and passing it, rather than just posturing for their inevitable presidential runs than they would have looked to get as many cosponsors as they could. The fact that Bernie isn’t a cosponsor really shows just how hard these senators are actually pushing on this bill; as in not at all.

    2. Vatch

      Just in case there’s any doubt: when I said that the web site might catch up tomorrow, I was referring to congress.gov, not Naked Capitalism.

  3. justanotherprogressive

    Re: Facebook and your question: “However, there’s no link to the $219 figure, nor any mention of a source. Readers?”

    I think they are taking Facebook’s market cap and dividing by the number of subscribers to get that $219 figure. That seems to be a common way to do it these days…..

    I’ve seen other “per user” numbers based on revenue, like this one….

    1. justanotherprogressive

      I’m still trying to figure out why “righteousness” is more than “goodness”.

      1. Tom Allen

        Apparently those were the enigmatic words scrawled on a newspaper by Frank Pick, the transportation CEO who commissioned the graphic design of the London Underground (the Johnston typeface, the bar-and-circle roundel, some of the architecture) a century ago. The memorial to Pick pictured above was installed last November and the meaning behind what he wrote is unknown.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Mishima, in his Golden Pavilion, wanted his protaganist’s ideal beauty, the pavilion, to be immortal – have your cake and eat it too, I suppose.

  4. jrs

    I guess middle class people move on everyday but not if they are Trump supporters, who earn more than the median income, and often significantly so.

  5. craazyboy

    If the stinky, purple flower attracts flies, it must be of the Hillary Genus?

    You may want to think about all the terrifying, horrific, things that may happen in your garden now.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I think it’s a relative of “Audrey II,” made so wonderfully famous in “Little Shop Of Horrors…” http://www.audreytwo.com/ Burn it with fire! and hope that kills the spores. Electrocution didn’t do it (in the seemingly much more hopeful movie version of the play.)

    1. Bunk McNulty

      Yeah, Donald Kagan (Kagan the Elder), that bloodthirsty Greek scholar, is a big Hanson fan.

  6. Synoia

    Being able to track and profile two billion real identities (monthly active users) makes for a per-user value of $219.

    Facebook’s stock market valuation divided by 2 billion?

    1. Oregoncharles

      In that case, it’s wrong. As I said below, the number of “sock-puppet” accounts is very high if even I know about them.
      And the policy is fake, because there’s no real effort at enforcement.

      I suppose it’s the advertisers they’re defrauding.

  7. Synoia

    A chronic low dose of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) restores cognitive function in old mice” [Nature]. Friends, there’s good news tonight!

    Old News – That’s why it’s illegal, we might remember the wrongs done to us.

    1. Oregoncharles

      that’s interesting, since it notoriously interferes with memory in young people (data on old people should be coming in by now – the Dope Revolution was about 50 years ago.)

      Come to think: I was just exposed to a bunch of 70-yr-old former tokers, and they all seemed to be mentally intact – including the one who was a legend for the amount of acid he took. Went into the Foreign Service, in case that tells you anything.

      Since the whole weekend was an exercise in reminiscence, I think our memories are doing OK. Of course, that’s just the ones who managed to find the place.

  8. DJG

    Rhetoric and signals from the speakers: Ossoff’s ultra-ironical and professorial “ain’t” and Solnit’s long list of supposed activism, which includes this gem:

    “Queer, trans and feminist groups have proliferated.”

    “Queer” is Solnit’s version of “ain’t”: Hey, they are both with-it and folksy.

    Ossoff and Solnit represent the future of the liberal-ish wing of the Democratic Party. Solnit’s essays, which Harper’s at least now seems to edit, raise her visibility even though I have never found anything in them that I haven’t already encountered in better writers like Molly Crabapple, Naomi Klein, Jill Lepore, or Colette (for those times when Solnit wants to write about sentimental education).

    Ossoff may go to the Congress, and he will end up getting lost. But he proved someone’s point. As the great masters say, And what is the question?

    I know that it is unfair to critique what may seem like matters of style so harshly. But the fakery is evident. We live in panicky times.

      1. DJG

        Arizona Slim: Is that about New Orleans? Some of her comments about the takeover of the New Orleans school system by charter schools are not healthy. All in all, she’s an Obama Democrat with a limited range.

        1. Arizona Slim

          It was about how ordinary people have responded to disasters​ like the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

      2. Cocomaan

        It’s pretty good. The random discussion about Mexican wrestlers in the middle of it kind of was jarring. I’d have preferred more case studies in disaster.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Ossoff and Solnit represent the future of the liberal-ish wing of the Democratic Party.

      I think they represent the past. There’s no future there for the Democrats.

    1. dcrane

      Thanks, really enjoyed the takedown of VDH. The man is the most annoying sort of snobby pseudointellectual.

    2. wmkohler

      I’ve followed the War Nerd for many years, and to the best of my knowledge it has always been John Dolan.

      1. different clue

        You could be right. It could always have been John Dolan. I just have the feeling that the War Nerd of the first several years had a different style and some different concerns and approaches than the clearly John Dolan WarNerd of late.

        The War Nerd’s “No Dong” article about America’s failure to carpet bomb all the North Korean missile sites before North Korea had an effective missile force seems very opposite to John Dolan’s politics. In a recent article the “war nerd” wrote about faculty meetings to prove some kind of point.
        I don’t remember the earlier War Nerd ever having written about “faculty meetings”.

        So . . . stuff like that just gave me a feeling.

  9. skippy

    Trust the Kiwis

    Recent figures released by the New Zealand government show users and abusers of trusts abandoning the country after it implemented transparency laws to regulate the trust industry.

    New Zealand trusts have built up a particularly good reputation amongst offshore service providers for their ability to hide assets. They have been called the “Fort Knox of asset protection”.

    But in response to the Panama Papers the New Zealand government changed the law to compel all New Zealand foreign trusts to register (a foreign trust being a New Zealand trust where the money comes from a resident outside New Zealand), and provide details of who benefits from the trust, and who controls it.
    Given that there are of course many entirely legitimate reasons why someone would want to hold an offshore, tax free trust, we would of course expect operators and beneficiaries of trusts to welcome such transparency!
    Well it seems not. Recent data revealed in response to parliamentary questions from New Zealand’s Green Party shows that weeks ahead of the deadline to register trusts, most trusts have failed to register and many have abandoned New Zealand. In total, out of more than 11,500 foreign trusts in New Zealand, fewer than 70 had signed up to the new register three weeks before the deadline for doing so.

    This of course strongly suggests that many of the people using New Zealand trusts were doing so to hide their money. From whom? We don’t know, and perhaps never will. – Tax Justice Network

    disheveled…. file under when everyone is a corporation…. of course Dawg has the largest market cap… first mover advantage and original job creator….

  10. Schnormal

    “The ordinary understanding of managerial liberalism — that it is a normal political faction of the capitalist center-left — leads inevitably to a number of difficult-to-answer questions. Why, for example, do liberals who routinely insist they support more ambitious progressive programs in their hearts, only rejecting them for now on pragmatic grounds, nonetheless oppose any such leftward movement when it becomes a realistic possibility? Why do they take up that opposition with a special enthusiasm, one that often feels more aggressive and personal than their rejection of their official rivals on the right? The reaction of American liberals to even the moderate-left candidacy of Bernie Sanders reached its apex not in any argument about policy but in Hillary Clinton declaring that single-payer health care was “never, ever” going to happen.”

    (Emmett Rensin, LA Review of Books)

  11. Jim Haygood

    Today stocks ripped higher, with the Dow Industrials and S&P 500 setting new records of 21,528 and 2,453 respectively.

    Missing at the victory party were the Nasdaq indexes, held back by Apple. Apple (the largest-cap stock on Planet Earth) has underperformed the S&P 500 since late April, while Amazon and Alphabet beat it by better than seven percent.

    Amazon fever, a sickness born
    Down deep within my soul
    Amazon fever, the digits keep flyin’ by
    Like the highline poles

    — Merle Haggard, White Line Fever

    1. Jim Haygood

      Go ahead … bite the big Apple:

      Financial adviser Chad Carlson, in Itasca, Ill., said the perception that Apple is a safe stock to own permeated client conversations in the past few years — a sign in his view that investors have grown complacent.

      Mr. Carlson said one client of his had about 40% of his net worth in Apple, directly and across various funds, but he refused to diversify because of his experience with high returns, low volatility and his assumption Apple’s rise would continue.

      Until this month, he said, “People took extraordinary risk in Apple without feeling the actual risk.”


      When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping. What can Tim Cook buy to one-up Jeff Bezos’s organic grocery store?

      Tiffany, say I — the ruling class is ready for the $10,000 tenth-anniversary Diamond iPhone by Tiffany. With half of Walmart shoppers toting iPhones now, something must be done to upgrade the exclusivity of the marque!

      1. ambrit

        My observation is that a chunk of the “middle class” has fallen prey to stagflation of wages and shops at WalMart and even, *gasp,* Save A Lot out of necessity. After the local Obamacare Phone Bank, run by General Dynamics, gets paid, i suddenly see much increased numbers of stylish clothes wearing men and women in my local WalMart. I’ve almost trod on some nice alligator and calves’ leather shoes on those days. These “slumming” “betters” do seem to want to get in and out of the low class retailer in a hurry. Maybe they have discovered that poverty is catching.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      He lost me when he first used the words, “clean coal”, in public. Wish I’d been a bit quicker to pick up on his charade. Sigh.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Whatever you think of John Edwards aside, “Two Americas” was important imagery and a description of the crisis in the U.S. Obama’s vaunted 2004 DNC speech twisted the “Two Americas” imagery into a conflict over ego and cultural traits and then dismissed the deep divisions. He then added call to prayer (hope) instead of action while further casting blame on both sides. Admittedly, Obama never asked his listeners to think, and this is why he was popular.

    2. clarky90

      “We’re doing everything we can to make sure folks know when and where to vote and how…..And that sending another career politician to D.C. ain’t going to change anything”

      The Democrats could be channeling Adolf Hitler? Folk (volk) was among his favorite words! He evokes “The Volk”, 68 times in This 1933 speech. However, Hitler doesn’t use, “ain’t”? The Mysterious Science of Persuasion has clearly advanced in the last 84 years!


      The Last day of the Weimar Republic


      “The burning of the Reichstag, one unsuccessful attempt within a large-scale operation, is only a taste of what Europe would have to expect from a triumph of this demonic doctrine. When a certain press, particularly outside Germany, today attempts, true to the political lie advanced to a principle by Communism, to link Germany’s national uprising to this disgraceful act, this can only serve to strengthen my resolve to leave no stone unturned in order to avenge this crime as quickly as possible by having the guilty arsonist and his accomplices publicly executed! Neither the German Volk (Folk) nor the rest of the world has become sufficiently conscious of the entire scope of the operation planned by this organization.”

      Hitler is being subverted by the “Russians” and “The Foreign Press”! Hhhmmmmm?

      1. ambrit

        Hitler was also on a witches brew of medications, thanks to Dr. Morell. Similar to a well known revanchist lately “sent down” by the electoral college.

  12. Plenue

    >How the Deep State Built Its Field of Dreams” [American Thinker]

    From near the top of the article: “At the center of the narrative is James Comey, who, in a girlish recital…” which links to: https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/06/16/the-sexual-ambiguity-of-james-comey/

    I find this downright bizarre. Is it supposed to be an attempt at an ad hominem attack? It’s weird gibberish to begin with, and I notice both articles are written by women, attacking something ostensibly feminine as a weakness. I guess this is another variation on the time-honored conservative ploy of employing someone from a group to smear that group (as in when they get a token black Republican to chastise black people for being fat and in prison).

    1. nowhere

      Another bit from the linked article:

      “Histrionic personality disorder [HPD] is characterized by “a pattern of excessive attention-seeking” and “an excessive need for approval.” Those who suffer from it tend to be dramatic, egocentric, self-indulgent, and manipulative. Women are four times more likely to suffer from it than men.”


      I’m surprised they didn’t call him a cuck and be done with it.

  13. Altandmain

    In other news, the Washington Post is selling snake oil:

    Scapegoating Bernie Sanders:

    IF you haven’t read this one, it’s interesting: America Is Going to War Again and Nobody Cares

    Does anyone want a “head in desk” article? Michelle Obama is holding fitness bootcamps:

  14. Lee

    My comments are often not being posted. Is this happening to anyone else? I have contacted support but apparently without effect.

    1. Terry Flynn

      Not in the last couple of weeks but I have to use a VPN now to post comments on this site. My guess is NC’s system checks one or two particularly aggressive anti-spam sites for deciding whether to blacklist/heavily moderate you – unfortunately a family-member’s malware-ridden old XP computer a while back (long since gone but am sorting out its legacy still) got our IP address listed on those. All other sites – and there are 70-100 of them typically listed if you search for lists of them – were OK. I had put down the high rate of comments disappear into the black hole of moderation to this – since I know from reading the NC rules that it’s not a good idea to complain to the already overworked team here.

      It’s a shame, but I’m hoping when I get our IP address de-listed from those one or two sites fewer of my comments go that way.

  15. Oregoncharles

    ” And if Republicans cannot act when they control both the Congress and the White House, then what good are they anyway as a party?””

    Just change one word…

  16. Oregoncharles

    “. “Facebook’s real name policy is inherently naive, dangerous and evil.”
    It’s also both futile and essentially unenforced. I was recently privy to a discussion of “sock-puppets” – I wonder what portion of FB accounts are in any sense real? Not high.

  17. Big River Bandido

    But behind closed doors, operatives and lawmakers expect a withering round of internal second-guessing if they come up short after pumping enough money into the pro-Ossoff effort to make it the most expensive congressional race ever.

    Any “internal second-guessing” would be limited to tactics. Policy? Good heavens, why would we need to re-evaluate that when it’s working so well for us?

    I pretty much expect Ossoff to lose in Georgia tomorrow. Given their growing string of polling failures it stands to reason this race is nowhere as close as the Democrats and their corporate owners say it is. And even if it is, Democrats have shown an amazing ability to lose the close ones. Having no substantive platform, having no relevant platform, enjoying too little loyalty to win the marginal races — these are among the symptoms of being a moribund political party. Another is putting $20 million in the shitcan for a 12-month House seat that is likely to go Republican in the next general election regardless.

  18. ewmayer

    Re. Trump’s job performance: “‘A lot of people — the ‘Not Hillary’ Trump voters — knew who Donald Trump was, they knew what kind of person he was,’ said Judy, who worked with the president’s GOP primary rival Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.) last year. ‘They were willing to tolerate some of the theatrics and some of the disruption it led to, as long as it led to a policy agenda they supported. ‘The longer he goes without real policy victories, the less patience they are going to have.'” — Possibly, but pretty much by definition the ‘Not Hillary’ Trump voters have just that as the #1 item on their policy agenda, IOW whatever substantive policy agenda items they might have were rendered irrelevant by the dismalness of the 2 party nominees and by the Dems’ blatant cheating of Bernie in the primaries. If the Dem establishment thinks their disapproval of the Trump WH chaos – a lot of which is being actively fomented by our massively corrupt corporate-owned MSM, to be sure – is going to dispose them to accept another execrable neolibcon Dem establishment candidate in 2020 (and similarly for the 2018 congressional races), it is sorely mistaken, IMO.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian


      I wish that I could think the electorate too smart for another neolibcon candidate from the Democrat party. But given the shitshow that passes for public discourse of late, I am not sanguine concerning this prospect.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The importance of Hillary’s celebrity to the Democratic Primary process in 2016 and 2008 is important. She could keep questioners away behind an array of admirers. Obama couldn’t do this until Oprah helped him out. She could hide and only meet with favorable journalists as she was not only the front runner but the queen on her coronation process. People were seeking access because she was going to dole out goodies.

        How is Cuomo going to attract a crowd where he can “meet” voters without actually meeting them? He can’t do this, not in New Hampshire, not in Iowa, or pretty much anywhere outside of big cities. Manch is pretty big, but its ground zero for Republicans.

        Unlike Sanders, Booker doesn’t have a good record. You noted the public discourse, but this will be the private discourse in the absence of a celebrity. Democrats will face the same kind of pressure they get in town halls, but there won’t be TINA at work as they are leaving their base for other states. Bill Clinton didn’t become President by accident. His opponents made him look positively sane. Rick Perry…I mean Moonbeam…you can understand the confusion as both proposed a flat tax and eliminating the Department of Education.

        Look at Howard Dean. The more regressive side of his record crashed his candidacy. His poll numbers crashed before his infamous “scream.” Kerry was not terrible.

        Obama was completely vacuous, but he did have token status and all that goes with being black in the U.S. and what that means by historical standards. No one else will get this backing, and not on his scale anyway. There won’t be any nationally televised opportunities for a candidate to really wow the electorate, and Democrats on Obama’s level will try to attack Trump which has done so much for the ratings of the Daily Show.

        1. Eureka Springs

          Kerry was not terrible

          Perhaps you should define terrible.

          I would have rather voted for an old shoe in some forgotten closet.

          And he lost to Jr. forchrissakes! For much the same reasons Hillary lost to Trump.

      2. Art Eclectic

        I think it’s pretty clear that the electorate will vote for whomever promises them an infrastructure package and can actually make it happen.

        Trump promised but his party will not deliver. The only spending they like is on defense contractors because that provides the funds for the next round of campaign donations.

      3. Ian

        I think the more intelligent and factual perspectives that run counter to the MSM dogma are being quarantined. It happened to me on a youtube post, discussing the idiocy around Putin and Trump, they had no problem leaving the angry, shouting back and forth BS on both sides, often instigating and deriding openly. I engaged in conversation that was factually based and conversational and it got quarantined even though they allowed the conversation to continue and participated, when I was logged out and looked for the thread again it was simply not there. I logged in, could find it, but logged out I could not.

  19. notabanker

    Calling Clive……

    How awesome is it that Amazon has to go through the hell of migrating off of Azure and 365?

    1. Octopii

      One might also reasonably ask whether their organizational difficulties in responding to market conditions could be blamed on Azure and 365.

  20. Jim Haygood

    How to oppress the working poor in one easy lesson:

    Subprime [auto] lenders are willing to take a chance on risky borrowers because when they default, the lenders can repossess their cars and persuade judges in 46 states to give them the power to seize borrowers’ paychecks to cover the balance of the car loan.

    With mortgages, people could turn in the keys to their house and walk away. But with auto debt, there is increasingly no exit. Repossession, rather than being the end, is just the beginning. “Low-income earners are shackled to this debt,” said Shanna Tallarico, a consumer lawyer with the New York Legal Assistance Group.

    Essentially, the dealers are not selling cars. They are selling bad loans,” said Adam Taub, a lawyer in Detroit who has defended consumers in hundreds of these cases.

    More than a decade after Yvette Harris’s 1997 Mitsubishi was repossessed, she is still paying off her car loan. “How am I still paying for a car I don’t have?” she asked.


    Never occurred to me that after the repo man seizes your car, then the suits come after you in court for a deficiency judgment. Screwed, blued & tattooed.

    1. ambrit

      What’s “funny” is that this supposedly self reliant , macho culture doesn’t have Mssrs. S&W offering a “Debt Peon ‘Equalizer’ Reinvention Program.” (D-PERP.)

  21. Left in Wisconsin

    Thanks for link on Waukesha and water. There is a ridge that runs parallel to Lake Michigan in Wisconsin about 20 miles inland. On the LM side, the result is a bunch of short but steep-ish rivers, which is what provided the power for all of the original industrial development (Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, Sheboygan, Manitowoc). If you are on the other side of the ridge, like Waukesha, you aren’t part of the Great Lakes watershed and aren’t entitled to its water.

    Waukesha is essentially playing the “poor me” card. Which is more than ironic, given that it is ground zero for the Milwaukee-hating Repubs that run this state. Though, to be fair, the city of Waukesha is now much less properous than the rest of the county.

  22. Anon

    RE: Antidote Plant

    Didn’t see anyone ID this plant. I can’t either (offhand) but the “bloom” portion of the plant is known botanically as a spathe (I believe). Let it continue to grow and the “spike” may unfurl and reveal numerous small flowers (inflorescence). The flies are likely pollen transport vectors (when the spike eventually opens).

    1. Oregoncharles

      It’s identified just above the picture. Dracunculus vulgaris – ” common little dragon.”

  23. Packard Goose

    Zappa said it better than whatever wretched knockoff
    they’re passing off as public art/slave motivation at Piccadilly these days:

    Information is not knowledge
    Knowledge is not wisdom
    Wisdom is not truth
    Truth is not beauty
    Beauty is not love
    Love is not music
    Music is THE BEST

  24. darthbobber

    The Ossoff campaign has been, to my mind, dreadful. Though given what they settled on for a strategy, maybe that was inevitable. He doesn’t respond quickly or well to attacks that you’d think his people would have predicted from the beginning.

    The strategy is equally bankrupt. No matter how vacuous they try to keep him, and how much they try to run against Trump, the GOP hardcore in the district are perfectly aware that the Donald is not, in fact, one of the candidates. And they still expect lower taxes for themselves, not only from any Trump-approved package that might or might not pass, but from the efforts of a Republican congressperson they send. Ossoff’s set-in-stone pledge to never, ever, raise their taxes, for any possible reason, is all well-and-good, but its still not a big cut. And when push comes to shove, this still trumps supposed concerns about global warming, education, or anything else among wealthy, suburbanite Republicans.

    If Ossoff squeaks in with a 1 or 2 percent win, they will have shelled out in excess of 25 mil to improve on Queenie’s performance in the district by a couple of percentage points. And this is almost the most favorable district in the country to run a campaign based purely on attracting Republicans who find Trump insufficiently genteel and “not one of us”.

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