2:00PM Water Cooler 6/7/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer could face a somewhat frosty reception today when he attends a meeting of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Ministerial Council…. Three of the most controversial issues heading into the meeting — trade, investment and climate — will not be covered in the OECD’s joint statement released following the meeting, a source confirmed to Morning Trade. They will instead only be covered in the chair’s summary because of the inability of OECD members to agree by consensus to any text on those issues, the source said” [Politico].



“With the midterm elec­tions 17 months away, it’s pretty clear that all of this Rus­sia busi­ness is rel­ev­ant. We have a new pres­id­ent with no gov­ern­ment ex­per­i­ence, a mer­cur­i­al tem­pera­ment, and an out­size ego. His hope­lessly short-staffed ad­min­is­tra­tion is strug­gling to get his le­gis­lat­ive agenda through the House and Sen­ate, where the GOP is try­ing to man­age thin ma­jor­it­ies as well as dif­fer­ent pri­or­it­ies in the two cham­bers. The Rus­sia in­vest­ig­a­tions are rel­ev­ant be­cause they con­sume time and en­ergy from the Re­pub­lic­ans’ le­gis­lat­ive ef­forts, strain re­la­tion­ships between the pres­id­ent and Cap­it­ol Hill, and hinder Pres­id­ent Trump’s abil­ity to re­cruit top people to the ad­min­is­tra­tion. The probes also cast a polit­ic­al shad­ow over every Re­pub­lic­an run­ning in the midterm elec­tions” [Cook Political Report]. “Here are some edu­cated guesses. There will be no res­ol­u­tion of this mess any­time soon, cer­tainly noth­ing this year and prob­ably not un­til after the 2018 elec­tions. In the past, these kinds of spe­cial-coun­sel and in­de­pend­ent-pro­sec­utor in­vest­ig­a­tions have taken on [note lack of agency] lives of their own, go­ing in unanti­cip­ated dir­ec­tions with unanti­cip­ated res­ults. Re­mem­ber that the White­wa­ter in­vest­ig­a­tion star­ted off look­ing at an Arkan­sas real es­tate deal and ended up delving [note lack of agency] in­to the taw­dry de­tails of Pres­id­ent Clin­ton’s sex life. Also re­mem­ber that more people get en­snared in cov­er-ups than in the pu­tat­ive fo­cus of an in­vest­ig­a­tion.” At one level, this is certainly Democrat payback not only for Benghazi, but for Whitewater; the Beltway is, among other things, a ginormous grudge match. What fun! Anyhow, the non-partisan Cook recapitulates the conventional wisdom, so this is worth a read. On the bright side, this sounds like a recipe for gridlock, and in my view, gridlock is our friend.


GA-06: “6th district candidates debate national issues, avoid Trump” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]. “Aaron Kall, director of the University of Michigan’s debate team, said Ossoff ‘came across as quite polished for having less debate experience, but sometimes appeared as robotic and scripted.’ Of Handel, he said she ‘was more aggressive and remained on offense for a good portion of the debate, which could indicate she thinks she is slightly behind in the race and needs to make up some ground in this debate.'”

GA-06: Reach me that bucket, wouldja hon?

The vacuity! It b-u-r-r-r-n-n-n-sssssss!

GA-06: No, the big bucket!

2016 Post Mortem

Parts of Black Twitter have rediscovered this passage from Clinton’s It Takes a PVillage, and they’re not happy about it:

I especially like the super-creepy part about “we enforced rules strictly.” Typical reaction: “Hillary Clinton having [family blogging] house slaves is the best birthday present I could ask for.” It does make you wonder what the outcome of the 2016 Democrat primary would have been if the Sanders campaign had done serious oppo. For example, this cropped up in the wake of the controversy above–

“Arkansas Bloodsuckers: the Clintons, Prisoners and the Blood Trade” [Counterpunch]. Blood-sucking, slave-owning… Not a good look.

Health Care

“Time for Democrats to unite around Medicare for all” [Katrina vanden Heuvel, WaPo]. “Looking ahead to 2018, strong progressive candidates are already making universal coverage part of their pitch to voters. In Iowa, nurse and union leader Cathy Glasson has launched a gubernatorial bid with a promise to provide “universal healthcare to cover every Iowan.” And in Maryland, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, who endorsed Sanders in 2016, is running for governor, pledging to “ensure that every citizen” in the state is covered. It will take smart organizing and tireless work to make it a reality, but Medicare for all is an idea whose time has come. With organizations such as Our Revolution, National Nurses United and the Working Families Party leading the fight, though, the movement for Medicare for all is gaining momentum every day.” Of course, we have to purge the “Never, ever” Clintonites and gut the Democrat leadership (Pelosi, Schumer, et al.) but all that has to be done anyway.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Chinese President Xi Jinping Tuesday called on California to play a bigger role in promoting exchange and cooperation between China and the United States.

He said he hoped California could continue to promote bilateral exchanges between localities and contribute more to China-U.S. cooperation in areas including technology, innovation and green development” [Xinhua]. I could have filed this under Trade, or in Stats Watch, but I’m filing it here, for obvious reasons.

“The Donald Trump resistance is working and Democrats can’t let up” [David Brock, USA Today]. Brock is talking his book. It’s as if Tim Cook were an “Opinion Contributor” with thoughts to share on the greatness of Apple’s new product line. I expect this sort of egregious corruption in The Times and WaPo, but hitherto USA Today has done better.

“Absent a More Progressive Economics, the Democrats Will Lose” [The American Prospect]. From Neera Tanden’s shop, so break out the Waldo before opening the radioactive cannister (also too, one of the authors, Celinda Lake, is a horrible human being who actively worked against single payer).

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of June 2, 2017: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose a seasonally adjusted 10 percent to the highest level since May 2010 in the June 2 week, a sharp increase that follows 3 weeks of declines. Results were heavily adjusted to account for the Memorial Day holiday, however” [Econoday]. And: “Even with the increase in mortgage rates late last year, purchase activity is still up 6% year-over-year” [Calculated Risk].

Gallup U.S. Job Creation Index, May 2017: “Gallup’s Job Creation Index reading was plus 37 in May, tied with the record high found in March. The index has now been at plus 30 or higher for 15 straight months. he index has generally been moving upward since bottoming out at -5 in April 2009 during the Great Recession. It has been in positive territory since February 2010. The index is at an all-time high, reflecting an improving job market” [Econoday]. “In May, 46 percent of employees said their company was hiring, compared with 45 percent in April. Meanwhile, the percentage who said their company was letting workers go held steady at 9 percent. Forty percent of workers said their employer was not changing the size of its workforce.”

JOLTS (yesterday): “Maybe the reasoning openings are so much higher than hires is because openings are for jobs that pay less than current employees are earning, in the hopes the company can replace them?” [Mosler Economics]. Lateral thinking….

Housing: “Coming of age in the time of the Great Recession may have shaped the attitudes of young adults, and home affordability might stand in the way of young adults setting up households and buying their own homes. The new Census report titled “The Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood: 1975-2016″ discusses how reaching the milestones of young adulthood (those aged 18 to 34) has changed over the past 40 years. The report finds that compared with previous generations, today’s young adults delay moving out on their own, getting married, and having children. Delaying these life events may also mean delaying homeownership. … [T]he percentage of young adults living with a spouse or unmarried partner has fallen from 58 percent in 1975 to 39 percent in 2016” [Econintersect]. “It is reasonable to expect that as these young adults age, they will take part in home buying, but we might need to wait until the most populous age cohort gets a little older before they ramp up their home buying.” A debt jubilee would help. Remarkably, the article doesn’t treat that factor.

Shipping: “Container lines scramble for new trade routes as Gulf strengthens Qatar ‘blockade'” [The LoadStar]. “German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd may inadvertently have found itself at the centre of the escalating diplomatic dispute…. The recently completed merger between Hapag-Lloyd and Gulf-based United Arab Shipping Company (UASC) meant UASC’s two shareholders – Qatar Holding and Saudi’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) – took 14.4% and 10.1% stakes in the combined company. Vringing the two Gulf firms into Hapag-Lloyd’s shareholding structure was central to the German line’s plans to reduce its debt burden, as liner shipping analyst Alphaliner explained today….”


Thanks, Obama! Gives a little context to the Administration’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, too.

Commodities: “Supreme Court votes 4-3 to deny frac sand mining in western Wisconsin” [Journal Sentinel]. “Writing what the court calls a lead opinion, Justice Shirley Abrahamson found that the Trempealeau County Environment & Land Use Committee did not exceed its jurisdiction and relied on substantial evidence in denying a conditional use permit to AllEnergy Corp.” Whoever was on that Committee had a lot of courage, and you can bet there was plenty of local organizing; for example. And then there’s this letter to the editor. I’m going to quote way too much of it because it’s so excellent:

I am writing to the people of Winona County to warn them of what we are enduring here in Trempealeau County in regard to frac sand mining.

The first landowners who sold out to mine companies were under a gag order and could tell no one until the mine owners had bought enough land to have a hold. Then they popped out of their holes like gophers, taking us citizens quite by surprise.

One reason we were not alarmed initially was because of a small mine near Taylor. I spoke with the townspeople there who told me the mine had been there for 25 years and a contract for 25 more years had just been signed. The family that owns that mine is very generous to the school and community. There are no problems with light, noise or dust. A rail spur eliminates trucking.

I’ve been at many meetings; beware of the mine representatives who come from “wherever” dressed in suits. Every word that comes from their mouths is a lie and the first to fall for the false promises were the mayors because they wanted the money.

One promise was that the sludge ponds would be lined with clay. The Guza mine near Independence was not lined and later was shut down.

Another promise made was that all sand would be covered. I have stood on the sidewalk in downtown Independence, watching all the sand trucks roll through, about a truck per minute. About half of the loads were covered. The huge piles of sand at mines are not covered. Winds whip dust high into the air even in the winter when mines are not operating.

The promise of jobs is just a ploy. The few select positions offered require college degrees in specialized fields. Trained equipment operators are brought in from other job sites.

People from other counties came to our informational meetings to warn us. You may suddenly find your property landlocked when land around it is sold. If you live near a mine you can no longer enjoy outdoor activities with your children or have a backyard barbecue. Forget ever hanging your laundry on the clothesline, and you won’t be opening any windows, even air-conditioners cannot compete with the dust. One woman said no insurance company will insure her horse anymore because horses get silicosis from silica dust — so do humans!

The speakers at meetings gave statistics that show making America energy independent with frac sand mines is a pipe dream. In countries that sell petroleum to America, laborers are not paid a decent wage. If we paid workers here for similar jobs, you would be paying $12 per gallon of gas at the pump.

Trempealeau County has lost much valuable farmland that can never be regained as reclamation provides only six inches of soil, and not necessarily top soil. Our county hosts 25 percent of the nation’s frac sand mines. Our sand goes to Winona, where it is loaded on barges and sent to the gulf. There it is sold on a global market, with China buying much of it for the manufacturing of glass.

The playbook used by Trempealeau County’s colonial overlords is just like that used by the landill operators here; the lies are the same. I’m sure the same is true for other colonial projects: fracking itself, pipelines, hog lagoons, wind farms, etc. You’d think the stupid and/or evil Democrats would address or even seek to capitalize on this sort of grassroots politics, but no, of course not. They won’t even address the opioid “crisis,” let alone the larger context of “deaths from despair” caused by deindustrialization.

Commodities: “The frac sand sector has re-entered bullish territory in 2017 as demand is expected to exceed peak 2014 levels before the end of the year. Increasing lateral lengths, stage counts, and proppant intensity levels have all contributed to a significant uptick in frac sand consumption” [Society of Petroleum Engineers].

Commodities: “‘Spectacular’ drop in renewable energy costs leads to record global boost” [Guardian]. “”Trump’s withdrawal of the US from the Paris agreement is unfortunate,’ said Christine Lins, executive secretary of REN21 [a network of public and private sector groups covering 155 nations and 96% of the world’s population]. ‘But the renewables train has already left the station and those who ignore renewables’ central role in climate mitigation risk being left behind.'”

The Bezzle: “‘We are especially concerned about zero-occupant vehicles that can happen with automated vehicles,’ [Lew Fulton, a co-director of the STEPS program at UC Davis’ Institute of Transportation Studies] said. ‘That scenario is especially plausible with private ownership of those vehicles and no limits to what we can do with them'” [Business Insider]. Like sending your robot car out to pick up the dry cleaning…

The Bezzle: “the tech IPO market needs another successful, well-known consumer-tech company to wow Wall Street and inspire confidence that there are more of these hot IPOs heading toward the pipeline” [Pando Daily]. “So what name-brand consumer-tech company has the best shot of winning back confidence for tech IPOs? Right now, it’s Blue Apron… Blue Apron is not only unprofitable, it’s still spending in hopes of spurring future growth.”

Political Risk: “The Curious Puzzle Of Low Inflation Amid Falling Unemployment” [Econintersect]. “So, the main point of this exercise is that past relationships haven’t held true in recent years, and the trend began some years ago. The causes of low inflation and, as we’ve seen in a related discussion, the declining share of income going to labor vis-à-vis corporate profits, are mysteries that have stumped economists.” You know nothing, J-Yel.

Five Horseman: “The Five Horsemen are poised just below the threshold of record highs” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jun7

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 55 Neutral (previous close: 55, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jun 7 at 11:46am.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Why printers add secret tracking dots” [BBC]. “Microdots have existed for many years. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) maintains a list of colour printers known to use them…. Based on their positions when plotted against a grid, they denote specific hours, minutes, dates and numbers. … There is a long-running debate over whether it is ethical for printers to be attaching this information to documents without users knowing. In fact, there has even been a suggestion that it is a violation of human rights and one MIT project has tracked more than 45,000 complaints to printer companies about the technology.” Oddly, or not, the article doesn’t explain “why.” At least I read it twice, and couldn’t find the answer.

Guillotine Watch

“Dissecting Marissa Mayer’s $900,000-a-Week Yahoo Paycheck” [New York Times]. “By Wall Street’s most basic yardstick — Yahoo’s stock price — Ms. Mayer earned every penny she got. Yahoo’s share price more than tripled during her tenure. After the $4.5 billion sale to Verizon, shareholders will still own an investment company with $57 billion of stock in two Asian internet companies, Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan. Ms. Mayer’s pay was mostly in stock and stock options, and she reaped the rewards alongside the other stockholders.”

Class Warfare

“Why America needs both a UBI and a job guarantee” [The Week]. “First, numerous studies on UBI-style experiments are clear: People don’t squander the money, but invest in themselves and their families, especially their children. Sometimes they participate in the job market a little more, sometimes a little less. But they’re certainly not succumbing to drugs or alcohol. … Whatever the job guarantee offers would become the minimum standard across the country…. But a job guarantee wouldn’t help you much if you simply can’t participate in paid work, which is a big problem for many of the people who make up the ranks of the poor: the elderly, the disabled, students, children, and caretakers…. A job guarantee also wouldn’t empower you to simply leave the job market, even if you could work, to focus on things like raising a family or volunteer work that’s been overlooked by policymakers. (A job guarantee is meant to be versatile in how it defines a “job,” but it can’t cover all possibilities.) But while the UBI can’t reform the job market on its own, it can plug those two holes. Thus the two policies’ respective strengths and weaknesses complement rather than contradict one another.” Important (and flagged by Scott Fulwiler).

“While the US economy has grown by 9% in real terms since Dodd-Frank, real median income has fallen by 0.6%. That’s pretty grim. The gains have all gone to the top 10% and particularly the top 1%” [Adam Levitin, Credit Slips]. Thanks, Obama! Levitin is testifying before the Senate Banking Committee on “Fostering Economic Growth: The Role of Financial Institutions in Local Communities”; here’s his prepared testimony.

Since the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010, the banking sector as a whole, including community banks, has been doing incredibly well. The percentage of profitable community banks at the end of the first quarter of 2017 was the highest it has been in the last twenty years.1 From the second quarter of 2010 (just before the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act) until the second quarter of 2016, the pre-tax return on assets in the banking sector was 25% for community banks, and 36% for other banks. Since Dodd-Frank, the cumulative pre-tax return on equity in the banking sector has been 225% for community banks and 320% for mega-banks. To put this in perspective, a $100 equity investment in the average community bank in the second quarter of 2010 would have returned $325 by the second quarter of 2016, while a $100 investment in a mega-bank would have returned $420 over the same time, far better than the $185 return that a $100 invested in an S&P 500 index fund would have produced. Meanwhile, American families are struggling. Median pre-tax income has declined. Although the US economy has grown by 9% in real terms since 2010, annual median pre-tax income has not kept up with inflation. Since 2010, real income has fallen for the typical American family by 0.6%.. Families in some states haven’t even fared this well. The typical Nevada family, for example, saw a 3% decline in real income.

Obama to the banksters, 2009: “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” That worked out well, didn’t it? So why don’t all the stupids vote Democrat? What’s wrong with them? Thanks, Obama!

“‘I felt like a caveman’: How work requirements for state benefits hurt one Maine man” [Bangor Daily News].

There was a time when Tim Keefe was so hungry he ate a squirrel.

“I felt like a primitive human being. I felt like a caveman, I really did. And that’s not the first time in this whole thing I felt like a caveman,” he says.

Keefe was homeless at the time. He lost his job, and his apartment, after he got a work injury in 2014.

“I was working in heavy industry and was using a pneumatic wrench, it caught up and twisted my wrist and popped the cartilage right out of there. I was done, my hand malfunctioned. It hasn’t worked the same since,” he says.

Keefe hasn’t been able to work either. He applied for food stamps, now known as SNAP benefits, and got about $180 a month.

“It was great, to be able to afford at least two meals a day,” he says.

After three months, Keefe was required to work or volunteer about 20 hours a week to continue to receive SNAP. But he says the Department of Labor determined he couldn’t because of his injury.

Keefe says he then went to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“I ask to volunteer, they didn’t feel comfortable sending me into a volunteer position,” he says.

That’s some catch.

“At this stage of the American opioid epidemic, many addicts are collapsing in public—in gas stations, in restaurant bathrooms, in the aisles of big-box stores. Brian Costello, a former Army medic who is the director of the Berkeley County Emergency Medical Services, believes that more overdoses are occurring in this way because users figure that somebody will find them before they die. ‘To people who don’t have that addiction, that sounds crazy,’ he said. ‘sBut, from a health-care provider’s standpoint, you say to yourself, ‘No, this is survival to them.’ They’re struggling with using but not wanting to die” [The New Yorker]. But they’re not collapsing in the aisles of the Acela, are they, so who cares? Anyhow, they’re probably racist. Or sexist. Let them die, and the world will be a better place.

News of the Wired

“Specially-designed malware installed on a router or a switch can take control over the device’s LEDs and use them to transmit data in a binary format to a nearby attacker, who can capture it using simple video recording equipment” [Bleeping Computer].

“Blockchains are the new Linux, not the new internet” [TechCrunch]. “Decentralized blockchain solutions are vastly more democratic, and more technically compelling, than the hermetically sealed, walled-garden, Stack-ruled internet of today. Similarly, open-source Linux was vastly more democratic, and more technically compelling, than the Microsoft and Apple OSes that ruled computing at the time. But nobody used it except a tiny coterie of hackers. It was too clunky; too complicated; too counterintuitive; required jumping through too many hoops — and Linux’s dirty secret was that the mainstream solutions were, in fact, actually fine, for most people. Sound familiar?”

“I’m Irish and I spent a year traveling the US — here are the 17 things that surprised me about day to day life” [Insider]. “3. Smiles mean NOTHING…. When I meet Americans abroad, one of their biggest complaints are along the lines of ‘nobody smiles on Prague’s trams!’ ‘That waitress was so rude to me! She didn’t even smile!’ America – I have the opposite complaint for you. You guys smile way too much.” This guy needs to come to Maine (except for the coast in the tourist season…).

* * *

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 (Kokuanani):

Kokuanani writes: “The Grove shopping center in LA.”

* * *

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


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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Deadl E Cheese

    I think it’s hilarious how no one noticed Hillary blithely admitted to stealing prisoner labor/renting slaves (because that’s WHAT IT IS) and justifying her collusion with this evil practice by musing about emotional intelligence because it was buried in one of her crappy fan biographies. You’d think that the Daou/Watson/Traister set would’ve at least read through one of those, but I guess even the loyalty and resilience of the hardcore Klinton Kult has its limits.

    Even more to the point, notice how the anti-Clinton right-wing keeps going on and on about nontroversies like Pizzagate and Benghazi when they had THIS silver bullet tarnishing away in their collection? I talk incessantly about how useless liberals are, but let’s not ever forget that conservatives are, astoundingly, even more useless than liberals.

    1. Baby Gerald

      I think for the right wing anti-Clinton faction to use something like this against her, they maybe need to see something wrong with what she wrote. Or at least understand the wrongness of it.

      1. Massinissa

        Exactly. Republicans are basically believers in “People who break the law shouldn’t have rights!”. Or at least many of the ones I am familiar with believe such things.

        1. Benedict@Large

          I hate generalizations like that.

          “People who break the law shouldn’t have rights!”.

          That’s not at all true. Republicans believe that people who break a specific law shouldn’t have rights. People who break the law against being poor.

          Rich people? Republicans believe they can break any laws they desire. Hell, it’s almost like a contest to them; to see how many laws they can break. And so far we haven’t found any limits on that.

        2. Alex Morfesis

          “The right to break people$ u$ing the law $houldn’t be abridged”…fyxtyt4ya

      2. Tk421

        By the same token, I doubt the Daou/Watson/Traister set would see anything wrong with it, either. “Oh, they were saving money! That’s great–gotta balance the budget above all else!”

      3. Darius

        Neither Republicans nor Democrats have a particular reluctance to stoop to rank hypocrisy if it suits their tactical purposes.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Conservatives like slaves as in they like to have them. They don’t like Hillary because she is in the other tribe, but they would love her if she was a Republican. Benghazi was their focus because they had a notion their was a special moment of incompetence which wouldn’t undermine the whole notion that military intervention is an acceptable policy.

      This passage is the kind of thing that would make Hillary appeal to the white flight Republicans of the suburbs.

      1. Massinissa

        Look how polite she is to the house servants! She’s such an upstanding aristocrat! Noblesse Oblige at work! /s

      2. RUKidding

        Hillary was correct in believing that rich white suburban Republicans are her natural constituents. They are. They would love this particular slave policy. It would not be a silver bullet; it would be a Gold Medal for her.

        The only reason why rich white Republicans hate, loath, detest and despise Hillary is because she is a turn-coat, former Goldwater “Girl” who joined the terrible, awful, no-good, horrible “socialist” Democratic Party.

        1. Allegorio

          What ingratitude! Bill and Hillary carried water for those white flight suburban Republicans, in keeping any real Progressive from getting on the ballot and doing GKW, like raising their taxes to build infrastructure, keeping jobs in the US raising the prices they have to pay, prosecuting them for fraud and malfeasance. Good job Bill and Hillary. Too bad you are so under appreciated.

  2. Oregoncharles

    I hope this isn’t inappropriate, but this seems like a good place to ask for some advice, and an issue NC-ers might want to address. I just received this email from my credit union, asking me for political action:

    Richard Hein, President/CEO of Oregon State Credit Union: “Please consider taking action concerning this unique opportunity.”
    Dear Member:

    Oregon State Credit Union takes any communication we share with our members seriously. Through this communication we hope to provide you with important information about regulations that directly impact you, the membership of this credit union and the credit union industry.

    Excessive regulations passed by Congress that were intended for Wall Street banks actually cost credit union members $7.2 billion per year. That’s an average of $71 for each of the nation’s 105 million credit union members. In 2017, there is an opportunity for some common sense regulatory relief to address unintended consequences of too-big-to-fail enacted regulations. It’s important that Congress realize that the elimination of costly one-size-fits-all regulations on credit unions and community banks should be a top priority.

    That’s why we’re inviting you to educate yourself about how these issues impact you.

    Click here to learn more (working link: http://www.commonsenseregulations.com/)

    We hope you’ll take a few moments to learn more about this important issue and, if you agree:

    Click here to take action (same site, not to multiply links)

    You can call your legislator, send an email, or use the social media of your choice to communicate with your Representatives or Senators on fixing our current regulatory environment.

    Thank you again for your time, consideration and membership with Oregon State Credit Union.”

    Me: Credit unions are co-ops and came through the Great Financial Collapse largely unscathed, so on its face it makes sense for them to be more lightly regulated. Extra costs come straight out of the membership, who are also the owners. The link for info is mostly video and I haven’t had time to watch it; I’ve asked them for a text statement, which I’ll also post if I get it.

    My question: does this make sense to others here, more financially savvy than I? If it does, I suspect that others will also want to take political action in support of the chief citizens’ alternative to profit-based, TBTF banks. There is also a larger, political issue: regulation, no matter how well-intended, is easily corrupted as a way to favor larger, better-established businesses – in this case, giant banks vs. credit unions. It’s a problem that requires constant vigilance.

    1. Yves Smith

      Smaller financial institutions have been serving as lobbying arms of the big banks to support deregulation. And it is just plain wrong to say the regulation is “one size fits all”.

      The fact is that even FDIC deposit insurance underprices the risk of failure for small banks. Banks get such large subsidies that they should in no way be considered to be private businesses.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Thank you.

        So I’ll have to actually go through their info to see what they’re cooking. Sigh.

        Technical note: last I heard, CUs are not insured by the FDIC, but have their own, also probably underpriced. And my particular CU is state-chartered, hence I think yet another insurer. I’ll have to find out.

      2. Kim Kaufman

        Credit unions have something like the FDIC which is called the National Credit Union Administration. The NCUA was also in trouble in 2008/2009 as some of the bigger credit unions also were invested in some of the same bad stuff as the big banks. I don’t remember the details now but as a small credit union member I looked into this.

        My credit union has yearly meetings for the members. I have gone to a number of them, just for the hell of it, they’re close by, they have food and they’re sort of fun. It’s small so I know the people I deal with and they know me. I skipped this year’s last month. You might want to find out when yours is and show up and talk to them about particulars. I am unaware of any burdensome regulations that have in any way changed the way mine does business and I have never heard any complaints at the yearly meetings. I would be skeptical about this.

        1. Yves Smith

          Thanks. It was sloppy of me not to mention that the credit unions have a different guarantor.

          The investment may have been TrupsCDOs. The regulators encouraged a lot of medium and small banks to buy that garbage, and it wouldn’t surprise me if credit unions picked up some too.

        2. griffen

          Those investments were largely securitized private label MBS, to a great degree rated AA to AAA at time of purchase.

          NCUA used the good bank / bad bank model of RTC (from the 90s) separate out the legacy assets & sold guaranteed notes.

    2. Dean

      In a previous life I worked at a CPA firm that audited credit unions. Back in the 90s credit unions were singing the same tune: banks want to neuter us and force us to follow their rules and regulations…and tax us too!

      Although I’ve been out of the industry for nearly 20 years this plea feels the same. The litmus test for me whether credit unions will be forced to begin paying corporate income taxes. Until that happens, much of this sounds like noise to me…my two cents.

    3. Left in Wisconsin

      I think there is a deal between the big banks and many credit unions: if the credit unions support the big banks’ political agenda, the big banks will go easy on their longstanding demand to restrict the kinds of banking services credit unions can offer.

  3. cocomaan

    For example, many companies are interested in programming autonomous cars to run errands or pick-up packages, but these efforts could increase traffic by multiplying the number of zero-occupant cars, or “zombie cars,” on the road, Fulton said.

    From lambert’s Business Insider Article

    ZOMBIE CARS! You can’t make this shit up.

    “…the only thing that really drives down travel times is pricing,”

    Prepare for a brave new world of tolls!

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Prepare for zombie cars to be proposed as the solution to the homeless – drive ’em around 24/7 to avoid tolls on zero-occupancy vehicles. Bonus: carry 2 around for HOV lane access!

        1. Michael

          You can save $ on your ride if you agree to take one of the cars with a homeless pod in back.

    2. Carolinian

      Some cities have already mobilized to discourage people from taking cars alone. States like California and Colorado have installed high-occupancy toll lanes that single-occupancy must pay a fee to use. That fee increases during rush hour.

      Surely this is confusion on the part of this rather lame BI article. How would a robot toll-taking lane know if you have another person in the car? Doubtless what is meant is that there are either HOV lanes (good) or toll taking Lexus lanes (bad).

    1. Massinissa

      I actually hope the Republican wins. I’m tired of all these finance alumni in the D party… The Repub is bad news too, but at least with Republicans you know what youre going to get.

  4. Milton

    Fresh off the presses…
    The latest income update for 2017 show that the median household income rose 3.65% to $56,124. 11.8% of households earn over $150,000 while 62.1% earn under $75,000.

    @2017 Esri

    1. ambrit

      My interest would be in how the percentages of households line up in the sectors below $75,000. What would be the weighting of that $65,000 to $75,000 per year group versus the $25,000 to $35,000 per year group. If more than all of the income growth has accrued to the top 10%, how far has the bottom 10% fallen?
      Immiseration hardly seems a descriptive enough word.
      For more fun along these lines see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marx%27s_theory_of_alienation

  5. Roger Smith

    Imagine Sanders pushing this general perspective from Current Affairs: The Clintons Had Slaves – But the prison labor system is also rotten to the core…

    Tie that to her private prison money… what a wallop. Where the hell was the Sanders campaign?? Were they swept up in the ideology the south was a loss from the start? This isn’t even callous negativity like Sanders was so worried about. It seems as though the successful campaign was Clinton’s for burying this easily accessible tid bit in a book published in 1996. How embarrassing, literally for everyone. Why didn’t we see this?

    He could have tied Clinton to the historical and contemporary cores of African American socioeconomic inequality…. *slams head on desk*

    1. Arizona Slim


      When I was a Sanders volunteer here in AZ, I met a guy who had been volunteering with the campaign in TX.

      He was a pretty hardcore Bernie guy, but let’s just say that he found the campaign’s Latino outreach to be a disappointment. To him, it seemed like the Sanders campaign wasn’t even trying.

    2. Massinissa

      I dunno, I think to many Democrats it would have just stunk of swiftboating. The Democrats would have made comparisons to the Republican attacks on Kerry and Dukakis.

      1. SpringTexan

        Yes. Even though I think it is damaging and indicative, bringing it up would have backfired.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Bernie covers this in his newest book. Too many states—it was Super Tuesday, after all—and too little time. The decision was made that Clinton just had too high a level of name recognition in the South for the Sanders campaign to make much in the way of inroads, so they opted to focus on the other states where the hill of battle wasn’t as steep.

      We can Monday-morning quarterback that decision, but the stats show that Clinton’s voters in the South were mostly older African-American and/or women, which were not the groups who most avidly supported Bernie.

    4. Allegorio

      “Why didn’t we see this?” Because nobody read her book it was just a political payoff.

  6. Kim Kaufman

    For thosoe who will be watching the Comey testimony tomorrow,

    Here’s the Pro-Trump Attack Ad That Will Air During James Comey’s Testimony

    “Former FBI Director James Comey will testify in an open session at the US Senate tomorrow. And every single news network plans to air the hearing live. But viewers may notice a strange ad during breaks in the testimony. A shady pro-Tump nonprofit plans to run an ad attacking Comey. And it was just posted online.”


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s quite a feat to get the ad through the propaganda ministry, the Trump people might say.

      I suspect they let it go through so that they can say, ‘Here’s a pro-Trump attack ad.”

      Otherwise, only the shady spies and our propaganda ministry can do attacks (not as clumsily disguised ads, but embedded as ‘credible real news.’)

  7. Vatch

    “The Donald Trump resistance is working and Democrats can’t let up” [David Brock, USA Today]

    No, the resistance isn’t working. Scott Pruitt is still the head of the EPA, Betsy “Grizzly” DeVos is still Secretary of Education, Robosigner Steven Mnuchin is still Secretary of the Treasury, Neil Gorsuch is on the Supreme Court, Internet Service Providers will be allowed to sell people’s browsing information, the Attorney General approves of private prisons and civil asset forfeiture, and the chairman of the SEC, Jay Clayton, has about a million conflicts of interest (okay, I’m exaggerating that one). Let’s see, what else? Oh yeah, the military budget will very likely be increased, net neutrality is on the chopping block, and the Congressional Review Act really trampled on “the resistance”:


    1. jrs

      maybe The Resistance ™ is like a drug one takes to weaken their resistance.

      Example use in a sentence:
      “That Trump organ transplant is working just fine ever since I started taking The Resistance ™ .”

    2. Pat

      Silly Rabbit, you assume that the purpose of the resistance is to impede the Trump/Republican agenda. No, bunny, pretending it is is to keep grifters like Brock looking relevant when one party is pretty much powerless and of little to no importance and use to big money. It is also to distract from what does get done within the agreed upon means of making their backers happy (Republicans and Democrats alike). DeVos is not a problem, an education secretary actually concerned about a functioning and effective public education system would be. The goodies will still be distributed by Betsy. Pruitt will not get in the way of the pipelines. Mnuchin won’t be any more of a thorn in the Financial Industry’s side than little Timmy Geithner was. Sessions is just speeding up bipartisan approved (if not in public) actions. And don’t make me laugh about the military budget. I mean they can’t have their approximately 28% of the voting public realizing they are in on the looting, that would really make them irrelevant.

      Oh, and if our brilliant eleventh dimensional chess playing President really wanted all those regulations to last don’t you think he would have been all over making sure they weren’t able to be rolled back? You either have to believe that George W. Bush was smarter OR that those things weren’t all that important to Obama and the Democrats. You pays your money and you takes your choice.

      Nope, the smoke and mirrors just became bigger and brighter and more cartoonish.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Wouldn’t any message from David Brock amount to “Send me more money and I will pray for you!”?

    4. Tk421

      Okay, suppose we resist Trump. Then what? More people like Hillary? Another Obama? I’ll pass.

      1. Vatch

        Some of us resisted Hillary Clinton during the 2016 primaries. We also resisted Trump, the Republican party, and the Clinton wing of the Democratic party during the 2017 special elections in Kansas and Montana. We lost. The resistance is not successful — yet.

    5. different clue

      It may well be working as a roach motel for millions of middle-aged and younger people who might possibly finally give up on Clintonism otherwise. And since that’s the real goal of #TheResistance, if it keeps millions of Democrats obediently Clintonised, then it is working.

  8. todde

    My wife sold color copiers about 20 years ago.

    One day her boss told her the FBI was in her office wanting to talk to her.

    Apparently some guy she sold a copier to was printing money with it. They tracked it down to him by the dot combination on the money. (I don’t think they knew the date and time).

    FBI was pretty upset that she sold a $40,000 copier to a guy in a trailer.

    1. Massinissa

      Did she even know he was in a trailer? How was she even supposed to know that? Are people who sell copiers supposed to do background checks? I don’t think she did anything wrong legally.

    2. todde

      She delivered it to the trailer.

      her response was along the lines of: “my job is to sell copiers, not stop counterfeiters.”

      1. RUKidding

        That’s still just crazy. Some dude in a trailer could still legitmately have lots of money. Could just be excentric. If he had the money to buy the copier, so???

        Unless or until your wife’s supposed to do background checks on her customers… which I hope it doesn’t come to that.


        1. todde

          She was never threatened with legal problems, they just wanted to throw their weight around a little.

          She didn’t give a (Family Blog) about what the FBI had to say anyway..

    3. Tk421

      FBI was pretty upset that she sold a $40,000 copier to a guy in a trailer.

      Aw boo-hoo.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think we (or only the good students in the classroom) are supposed to say, we want to go cashless. Enough with counterfeiters.

      Slower students won’t be able to draw the conclusion, not even subconsciously.

      Six months later, when polled, most students (99%*) favor banning cash.

      *Kids study hard these day, and competition for free college is fierce.

    5. Elizabeth Burton

      FBI was pretty upset that she sold a $40,000 copier to a guy in a trailer.

      My mother spent her last years living in a trailer, and while she would neither have had that kind of money for a printer nor the need for one, she lived quite comfortably. Which is irrelevant to the discussion, but not to the way the whole “people who live in trailers are dead-broke redneck slobs” theme has been thoroughly embraced.

      1. Mark Alexander

        I also lived in a “trailer” in a mobile home park in the town with the most expensive real estate in the nation: Palo Alto, CA. It was 350 square feet, but brand new and built well (real stud walls and good insulation). I used to joke about being trailer park trash, but it was my way to live as cheaply as possible and be able to walk to work (a big software company that was only two miles away). It also allowed me to save enough money to move to rural northern New England a few years later.

  9. timotheus

    The Bangor story about Mr Keefe is the exact plot line of the Ken Loach film, “I, Daniel Blake.” Life imitates art–and not even particularly inventive art.

    1. RUKidding

      I’ve heard about that Ken Loach film, but it never opened in my town. Will have to search it out.

      No doubt many conservatives would find a way to label Mr. Keefe as a lazy moocher with his (broken) hand out for free stuff.

      The only reason why people can’t find jobs is because they’re lazy and aren’t trying hard enough, doncha know. Rich people need tax cuts!!! We can’t afford a safety net. Get a jawb and STFU.

    2. edmondo

      Keefe hasn’t been able to work either. He applied for food stamps, now known as SNAP benefits, and got about $180 a month.

      “It was great, to be able to afford at least two meals a day,” he says.

      After three months, Keefe was required to work or volunteer about 20 hours a week to continue to receive SNAP.

      So, in order to keep his $160 benefits, the good man had to work as a volunteer 80 hrs a month? That’s 2 bucks and hour! That slavery thing isn’t just for Arkansas anymore.

  10. DJG

    Some tells: “Absent” used as a preposition. People who use “absent” as a preposition also avoid using the serial comma. Or they call it the Oxford Comma. And the next step is the decline of civilization into Twitter wars.

    Some tells: Yes, I know that I’m superficial, but Ossoff’s photo has a tell, the double windsor knot in his necktie. Obama used to do that, too, as do various Republican luminaries. The source likely is Reagan. Hey, everyone’s a transformational political figure, and for that sartorial reason, there are days when Obama’s got a knot in his tie the size of a strawberry bismarck (that’s jelly doughnut to you heathens).

    That’s the extent of my deep thinking for today: I am off now to knit socks for the Saudi troops in preparation for their upcoming occupation of Qatar.

    1. Jean

      Ahh, the double-Windsor; mark of international bankers – and those who try to sell things to them. In Manhattan, 3 star restos’ sommeliers and GMs often sport the double-Windsor, I’ve noticed. Good of them to forewarn us…

      Anyone know of any politicians sporting the Patti Smith style skinny black tie slung low?

    2. Joseph Hill

      In Ian Fleming’s novel “From Russia, with Love”, Chapter 25 is entitled “A tie with a Windsor knot”. James Bond, travelling on the Orient Express, is met by a supposed fellow British agent, who wears “the dark blue and red zigzagged tie of the Royal Artillery, tied with a Windsor knot”. Fleming describes in detail Bond’s reaction: “Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad”. However, “Bond decided to forget his prejudice”.

      Altogether, as seen later on, the Windsor knot had served its purpose. It made Bond think he was faced with the kind of Englishman he disliked, which distracted from glimpsing the truth – that it was in fact a Soviet agent sent to kill him. Later, when the killer reveals his identity and gloats over the trapped Bond, he says: “These clothes are from the wardrobe department. They said I’d get by like this – and I did, didn’t I?”

    3. Chris

      For many years, those who “mattered” in England swore off the Windsor knot as a way of demonstrating their disapproval of Edward and Mrs Simpson.

      Sick burn.

      1. ambrit

        Then during the war they “rusticated” Edward and his lady to Nassau where they didn’t do so well.

  11. Pat

    Don’t know if anybody noted it, but Andy Cuomo and Nancy Pelosi, neoliberal *ssh*les stalwarts had a big event at Javits Center. It included conference calls and supposedly the ability to ask questions. Our mayor, useless but less offensive to me than either of the two names above, was NOT invited. Funny because the big thing on the local news was them declaring the need to elect Democrats to every office in NY especially the federal ones because NY would be leading the way forward in the fight against Trump.

    Almost makes one think of ‘forward together’, although in this case it would be I’m with HIM. (Mind you that won’t be including Medicare for All).


    1. jawbone

      I’m starting to feel like I’m going to throw up whenever I hear Cuomo the Younger’s voice….

      He is a bully in the style of Chris “We Dasn’t Tax the Rich” Christie.

      Yes, it’s an emotional response, but I’ve realized ever since I heard his announcement he was running for governor of NY that he was a made Corporatist Dem, Shudder.

  12. WobblyTelomeres

    re: Blockchains

    BitCoin is not quantum-safe. But, perhaps the greater threat is that quantum computers may also be very good miners. Suspect that market will collapse very quickly, as in overnight. Not today. Maybe next year.

    1. Mark P.

      Suspect that market will collapse very quickly, as in overnight. Not today. Maybe next year.

      You raise an interesting possibility, but come on. Are we anywhere near that level of practical applied QC?

      1. reslez

        Nowhere close. IBM is working on a quantum computer that will probably hit 50 qubits in a couple of years. Some think the NSA is a lot further along but the computing power needed for quantum cryptography will be immense.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Hmmm. A difficult problem where the solution will provide the ability to decrypt mountains (literally, have you seen the Utah storage facility?) of carefully stored data and where the solution will only be achieved by the secret expenditure of a staggering amount of money. Know any organization that can operate that way?

  13. flora

    re: Big Brother…. printers.

    ‘Oddly, or not, the article doesn’t explain “why.” At least I read it twice, and couldn’t find the answer.’

    The ‘answer’ is law enforcement. Old manual typewriters used to type a document could be identified based on keystroke wear, key-strike indention , type font, etc. In new laser and inkjet printers these microdot patterns can identify (or at least significantly narrow down the field of potential printer candidates) the printer used to print out a document.
    e.g. In the old days, a ransom note typed on a manual typewriter, say, could be examined for tell-tale markings to focus the investigation. Today, microdot patterns serve the same function.

    1. sleepy

      While in high school in the 60s, I remember a teacher telling us of the evils of communism, particularly that in the USSR all typewriters had to be registered with the state so that security forces could track down the origin of seditious leaflets and letters. We were shocked and horrified that such a system could exist and how Americans would never put up with such state surveillance of our “speech”.

      Ah, the naivete of youth.

    2. bob

      I have always heard that they add the dots to counter currency counterfeiting.

      That may also be another level, beyond date/time serial.

      I’m most curious now about how the printer knows what time it is. Does it poll the machine it’s attached to? Is any of that passed on?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Printers and computers have internal batteries controlling clocks. Usually, you just replace the device by the time it runs out. It’s how the computer knows how to update or not to run installation programs when you turn it on.

  14. Jim Haygood

    “After the $4.5 billion sale to Verizon, [Yahoo] shareholders will still own an investment company with $57 billion of stock in two Asian internet companies, Alibaba Group and Yahoo Japan.”

    Yahoo has a 15 percent stake in Alibaba. But so do emerging market funds … some of them:

    Alibaba is the fourth-largest holding of the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF (symbol EEM) comprising 2.98% of the portfolio, while Baidu is the ninth-largest, comprising 1.11% of the holdings. [But] Vanguard’s emerging-market funds don’t include Alibaba, [and] also don’t hold other high-profile emerging-market stocks, including Baidu and Sina Corp.

    The Vanguard and iShares funds track benchmarks from different index providers. The Vanguard fund is up 14.7% in 2017 while the iShares ETF is up 18.7%.

    [Another fund,] the EMQQ Emerging Markets Internet & E-commerce ETF is up more than 41% thus far this year, more than twice the performance of the Vanguard and iShares funds.


    You can bet that EMQQ was so named to rhyme with the Nasdaq 100 fund, QQQ. EMQQ is the Emerging Market QQQ, get it? Its chart is a monstah, ripping like 1999:


    Eager for action and hot for the game
    The coming attraction, the drop of a name

    — Eagles, Life in the Fast Lane

  15. clarky90

    “At this stage of the American opioid epidemic, many addicts are collapsing in public—in gas stations…..”

    Meanwhile, in Nazi Germany…..


    The Hunger Plan (German: der Hungerplan; der Backe-Plan) was a plan developed by Nazi Germany during World War II…..the plan entailed the death by starvation of millions of “racially inferior” Slavs following… the 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union.

    The plan as a means of mass murder was outlined in several documents, including one that became known as Göring’s Green Folder, which quoted a number of “20 to 30 million” expected Russian deaths from “military actions and crises of food supply.”

    From my experience, I assume that other people have similar values and behave in similar ways, to me. They wash their hands after going to the toilet. They are relatively honest and trustworthy….

    So, when presented with evidence of DELIBERATE, horrific crimes against Humanity, it is so discordant with my own World View, that it becomes impossible to comprehend. “This must be impossible! Who, in this World would make a plan, and execute it, to starve millions of innocents, to death?”

    We “deplorables” are being starved to death with junk food. We are being murdered with opioids and drugs. It amazes me how quickly this carnage has become normalized.

    It has happened before, almost in my lifetime (not that long ago); The Holodomor in the Ukraine, early 1930s, The Hunger Plan in Eastern Europe, early 1940s

    1. Alex Morfesis

      8 years after the fall of berlin…all was forgiven…all was forgotten…john jay mccloy went beyond the whitewash he had created with his sentance review committee and let almost everyone out and commuted 10 of the remaining 15 (?20?) death sentences, which after 8 years had still not been completed…

      FDR when he met mccloy in the white house a few weeks before his untimely death, gave mccloy a roman salute and exclaimed zeig heil towards mccloy…

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Then there is Mao’s Great Leap Forward. From Wikipedia:

      It is widely regarded by historians that The Great Leap resulted in tens of millions of deaths.[3] A lower-end estimate is 18 million, while extensive research by Yu Xiguang suggests the death toll from the movement is closer to 55 million.[4] Historian Frank Dikötter asserts that “coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward” and it “motivated one of the most deadly mass killings of human history”.[5]

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Smaller, but not perhaps percentage-wise (for a nation), Pol Pot tried to his best. From Wikipedia:

        In all, an estimated 1 to 3 million people (out of a population of slightly over 8 million) perished as a result of the policies of his four-year premiership.

        What did they all have in common?

        Ukraine 1930s – under dictatorship
        Hunger plan – by a dictatorship
        Mao – another dictatorship
        Pol Pot – more dictatorship

        Big decisions by a small group of ruthless people in the center…centrally planned.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The way the human mind perceives reality, robbing the wife of 5 years of her life by incessant nagging is less visible, barely registered on the mind, than killing a terminal cancer patient with one month to live.

            And slow death under neoliberalism in the millions is harder to see than the tragedy of public beheading of a handful.

            So, we have centrally planned genocides (above) on one hand, and on the other hand, we have natural disasters, deaths by economic sanctions, and non-violent, but still lethal means favored by neo-liberalists.

          2. clarky90

            When I was a young adult, I thought (assumed), “Never again!” That assertion was directed against Foreign Tyrants.

            I could not imagine that WE (The Democratic West) would be up to our eyeballs in the blood of innocent women, men and children.

        1. jsn

          Like those 68 guys who own half the worlds wealth?
          The Irish famine was planned by private enterprise.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Yup, Big decisions in their (the small group’s) central processing units.

            No messy voters or representatives to deal with, in their wealth dictatorship (i.e. monopolies).

  16. Martin Finnucane

    re: Caveman.

    My next door neighbor has a small back yard that backs into my side yard. One of my neighbor’s son’s young buddies, girlfriend in tow, moved into a derelict car parked in the backyard, some few yards from my daughter’s window. This situation went on for months, until finally we had to call code enforcement. I feel for the guy, and at least as much for the girlfriend, but … they were living caveman style right under my daughter’s window.

    This is how the system keeps us down: a choice between ratting on my neighbor or not, the first option unpalatable and the second impossible. The context in which these options present themselves is the isolation of neighbor from neighbor – I think the term from college is anomie. Our future is of children loafing around playgrounds at night, catching vermin. America is already great!

  17. LT

    Anybody with half a brain or not a total party politics suck-up knows the credibility of the US Presidential elections was undermined when the price tag to run approached $1 billion dollars.

  18. sid_finster

    A russiagate enthusiast told me, by way of “proof” that Russia interfered in our elections, that Russian people as a rule do not smile all the time.

    I guess those who want to believe will seize on the flimsiest evidence in order to do so.

    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my friends is Russian​. Not much of a smiley-face. But a very caring person.

  19. Altandmain

    It looks like the US is getting more authoritarian:

    At this rate, it will be like a tin pot authoritarian state where the security guards are little more than the ruling oligarchy’s armed thugs.

    Oh and the Republican candidates often oppose livable wages:

    File this one for class warfare.

    Finally, another one for Imperial Collapse Watch:

    A messed up aircraft carrier construction project. How many screwed up, over budget, under-delivered military procurement projects does that make?

    1. RUKidding

      Vis the last entry re the messed up aircraft construction project…

      I made the mistake of getting into a “heated discussion” with someone while hiking last weekend. The other hiker was super duper pro MOAR milatary spending, Katie bar the door, because we NEEEEED it to be “safe.” When I raised the issue of these kinds of over-budget, under-produced military spending boondoggles, I got the usual rightwing argle-bargle about how that “rarely” happens.

      The discussion devolved from there. It wasn’t pretty. Parting shot from the other hiker: You sound Just. Like. My. Wife!!1!


      1. Altandmain

        We agree on the details. None of these projects are going to make the US safe and plus these weapons don’t actually work as well as promised. They cost more and are less reliable than promised.

        The last one was for the fleet size. I think I also made a posting a while back about the F-35 too.

        This is for an aircraft carrier. The point though is that most projects these days are expensive and don’t deliver.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Crackin’ up:

    Germany will pull all of its troops and aircraft from its Turkish airbase amid a diplomatic row with Ankara, defence minister Ursula von der Leyen has announced.

    Around 270 troops stationed at Incirlik, near the Syrian border, as well as Tornado reconnaissance jets and a refuelling plane, will be moved to Jordan over the next two months.

    Tensions between Berlin and Ankara have mounted in recent weeks after Turkish officials refused to let German MPs visit troops stationed at the base.


    Between Germany & Turkey at each others’ throats, and Saudi & Qatar (both with big US troop deployments) ready to rumble, the absurdity of US military alliances with unlikely partners is flashing like a neon sign.

    Arm the combatants — that’s America’s sensible policy. /sarc

    1. sleepy

      Turkey’s parliament has approved sending 3000 troops to Qatar in response to Saudi Arabia’s threats.

      Uh oh, what’s next? General mobilization across Europe? Who goes first, the Tsar or the Kaiser?

  21. ewmayer

    o “While the US economy has grown by 9% in real terms since Dodd-Frank, real median income has fallen by 0.6%. That’s pretty grim. The gains have all gone to the top 10% and particularly the top 1%” [Adam Levitin, Credit Slips] — If by “in real terms” one means in fake-GDP terms, adjusted by fakely-understated inflation, especially in asset prices, that is. My monthly rent has grown by over 50% since Dodd-Frank, for instance, greatly boosting someone’s GDP other than my own. I.e. things for the bottom 80-90% are far worse than even this article admits. But I’m sure Les Deplorables are glad to have the various MSM-spewed Russia! Russia! Trump! Trump! Resist! Resist! Hillabeast sez! noise t help distract them from their misery.

    o “I’m Irish and I spent a year traveling the US — here are the 17 things that surprised me about day to day life” [Insider]. “3. Smiles mean NOTHING…. When I meet Americans abroad, one of their biggest complaints are along the lines of ‘nobody smiles on Prague’s trams!’ ‘That waitress was so rude to me! She didn’t even smile!’ America – I have the opposite complaint for you. You guys smile way too much.” — Would you like us to supersize that smile with a gratis reacharound, sir?

  22. Benedict@Large

    Why America needs both a UBI and a job guarantee [The Week]

    I don’t understand why something like this even needs to be said. Of course a job guarantee would be accompanied by a UBI for those who simply could not work. A JG without one comes too close to a useless eaters proposition.

  23. LT

    File this under “What Could Go Wrong?”

    Meanwhile, Glen Ford breaks it down:

    “So, don’t believe for a second that the Saudis are abandoning ISIS and al-Qaida, or are attempting to force Qatar to do the same. Neither is the CIA, which simply rebrands its jihadists when their names become too notorious…”

  24. Carla

    Whoa. No comments on the great strides toward “single payer” yet?

    Has anybody guessed who the single payer under the current duopoly is gonna be?

    Well, I suggest that if we don’t take “constitutional rights” away from the likes of United Healthcare and Anthem, the single payer ain’t going to be the U.S. government or any state.

    Are y’all aware that United Healthcare, operating under the name Optum, already has its tentacles in Britain’s National Health Service? http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/former-tory-government-health-adviser-nick-seddon-us-firm-optum-nhs-privatisation-david-cameron-a7561696.html

    So we owe it not just to ourselves, but to the world, to wrest constitutional “rights” from corporate entities and ensure that money cannot legally be considered speech by supporting the passage of House Joint Resolution 48 which calls for a constitutional amendment stating that only human beings are entitled to our rights under the constitution, and that money in the form of campaign contributions can be regulated by federal, state and local governments. I won’t court moderation by posting another link, but NC readers can search for “HJR-48” and 115th Congress for the latest on that.

  25. witters

    “a somewhat frosty reception”

    Can I ask that we retire that tired, inconcise, and intrinsically vague adverb “somewhat”. It drives me somewhat nuts.

    1. Dale

      Really. But worse: If you will (what does it mean?), that said (instead of however or nonetheless), and ’nuff said (yuk). Awful pieces of speech. One more item: the split infinitive. Drives me crazy.

      1. ewmayer

        adverb |ˈadˌvərb|
        noun Grammar
        a word or phrase that modifies or qualifies an adjective, verb, or other adverb or a word-group, expressing a relation of place, time, circumstance, manner, cause, degree, etc. (e.g., gently, quite, then, there).
        ORIGIN late Middle English : from Latin adverbium, from ad- ‘to’ (expressing addition) + verbum ‘word, verb.’

        But you know what really – or at least somewhat – frosts my grammatical cockles? … :)

    1. Biph

      This may be the best thing about Trump, he’s forcing other countries to depend less on the U.S. and hopefully that will lead to Americans realizing we aren’t the most specialist people ever who God intends to rule the world.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Only few exceptional nations can say no.

      China, Saudi Arab, North Korea, etc.

  26. Plenue

    “Similarly, open-source Linux was vastly more democratic, and more technically compelling, than the Microsoft and Apple OSes that ruled computing at the time. But nobody used it except a tiny coterie of hackers. It was too clunky; too complicated; too counterintuitive; required jumping through too many hoops”

    Really shouldn’t be past tense. Linux remains more or less as much a hot mess as it ever was. Want to do something as simple as change your computer’s name? “F*ck you; learn to use the terminal and give yourself admin privileges, you disgusting, non-programming pleb.”

    It’s fine for programmers to have their own OS that requires them to do technical things to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks, but their constant whining about how their platform is so much better, yet is only like 5% of the computer market, despite being free, is insufferable. Maybe they should consider that the problem lies with how their platform is being presented to the average user. And no, the solution to that really isn’t to just make yet another damn distro that still focuses too much on the use of the terminal. Say what you will about OS X, but there the terminal is merely a nice optional tool; most users will never have any reason to open it.

    1. ewmayer

      Please, not more OS-holy-warrior flameage. OS mix depends hugely on market subsector — for instance the server market is mostly Linux these days, and the supercomputer market is well-nigh 100% so. “The best tool”, as always, depends on what one is doing. You want to rename your PeeCee on a weekly basis and Linux makes that hard? Fine. I could not give a rat’s ass about that, myself. And I use MacOS terminal every day, whether it’s to be able to build a bunch of code with a simple 1-line command, or search a bunch of files similarly, etc. To each his own.

      1. Plenue

        “And I use MacOS terminal every day, whether it’s to be able to build a bunch of code with a simple 1-line command”

        Thus rather proving my entire point. My example of renaming the computer was to illustrate how Linux makes even the simplest of tasks needlessly convoluted, because it is made by and for programmers who don’t have a problem opening up a text box and manually inputting a string of arcane gibberish.

    2. Carolinian

      You do realize that what may be the most used current operating system, Android, is based on Linux. The reason most Linux distros lack more elaborate UI is simply about money. The programmers invest only the time necessary to give you something that works. As a crowd sourced system you are expected to invest a little time yourself in learning how to use it. I’m not sure how this makes it insufferable.

      1. different clue

        That sounds like Linux is a kind of elaborate electric model train for hobbyists rather than a tool and an appliance for mere normals who just want a computer that will computerise for them.

        Since I am a mere normal, and an analog refugee in this digital world to boot, I am not interested in a computer family of programs which requires me to love computer mechanics and programming surgery. If I ever buy a computer of my own, it will be the dummest feasible cast-iron frying pan I can find. And that goes for the programming on it.

        I guess I will never be in the Linux Club. And that’s okay.

        1. Carolinian

          If you are using it for the internet-ty things most people use computers for it’s not nearly as intimidating as you think. And some understanding of computers–not necessarily a lot–is advisable when using Apple or Microsoft as well. Just ask John Podesta.

  27. jerry

    Any history buffs out there have a good recommendation for a book on the fall of the roman empire? Preferably in-depth and economic related analysis included.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Adrian Goldsworthy, How Rome Fell: Death of a Superpower; Yale University Press, 2009.

      It’s sometimes a bit dry and of course the subject is by nature speculative since so few period sources survive. But it is well-written and researched.

  28. Swamp Yankee

    Re: smiles in New England.

    My theory is that the farther Eastward you go in New England, the less people smile. Boston less than Hartford, Plymouth and Gloucester less than Boston, Provincetown and Bath, still less, till you go all the way Down East. Summer people/tourist-time not included for obvious reasons, of course, as Lambert notes above.

    Reminds me of a story I heard once (maybe even from a George [family blog] Will column, of all people!). A Boston Brahmin’s walking around Beacon Hill with his niece one Sunday morning, after church. His first cousin passes by. Neither one acknowledges the other, whatsoever.

    “Uncle, why — isn’t that your cousin? Why didn’t you say hello?!”

    The Brahmin scowled. “He knows who I am!” her uncle exclaimed, and no more was said of it.

    That’s an exaggeration, obviously, but I’m told by Midwesterners and Californians that New Englanders seem cold to them (for which there are all kinds of historical-geographical reasons, but that would be a separate post).

    Oh well! “Can’t get there from here!”

  29. Oregoncharles

    “The probes also cast a polit­ic­al shad­ow over every Re­pub­lic­an run­ning in the midterm elec­tions” [Cook Political Report]”

    Bingo, we have a winner! THAT is why the Dems will never let up, no matter how ridiculous or counterfactual they become.

  30. allan

    Amazon lent $1 billion to merchants to boost sales on its marketplace [Reuters]

    Amazon.com Inc has stepped up lending to third-party sellers on its site who are looking to grow their business, a company executive said in an interview on Wednesday.

    The e-commerce giant has doled out more than $1 billion in small loans to sellers in the past 12 months, compared with more than $1.5 billion it lent from 2011 through 2015, said Peeyush Nahar, vice president for Amazon Marketplace. Sellers have used the money to expand their inventory or discount items on Amazon, he said. …

    More than 20,000 small businesses have received a loan from Amazon and more than half of those have taken a second loan from the company, it said.

    Loans range from $1,000 to $750,000. Sellers have said interest rates are between 6 percent and 14 percent. …

    The 1K Club isn’t free.
    Besides, they’ll make it up on volume.

  31. different clue

    If robot-cars could self-drive while totally unoccupied, they could be loaded up with explosive and remote-driven or program-driven to the target and then detonated. Or parked and detonated later.

    Autonomous car bombs.

    1. craazyboy


      Snowflakes: Please read manual to program self-parking mode. You may also be interested in the timer option!

  32. Left in Wisconsin

    Thanks so much for your coverage of frac sand mining. It is THE growth industry in northern Wisconsin. Looks like the boom is back.

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