2:00PM Water Cooler 6/8/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente



“Eurasian integration meets America First” [Pepe Escobar, Asia Times]. “For Beijing, leadership in the fight against climate change now translates as an unprecedented accumulation of political capital. Add to that its ambitious expanse New Silk Roads project – which has been renamed the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – and we have China positioning itself to lead on both the multilateral and environmental fronts…. The bottom line is that the EU cannot bypass the New Silk Roads’ gigantic, transcontinental infrastructural investment orbit. Beijing may not regard Brussels as a serious geopolitical player, but it does relish the EU going after US leadership in global trade…. Frantic speculation about the end of the American century, or the US no longer acting as ‘leader of the free world,’ is idle. What matters is that most of the facts above spell out progressive, and inexorable, Eurasian integration, from Russia-China deals to EU-China cooperation…. As for the Trump doctrine, arguably it has been detailed, in full, for the first time in the Wall Street Journal [by H.R. McMaster and Gary D. Cohn]. ‘The President embarked on his first foreign trip with a clear-eyed outlook that the world is not a ‘global community’ but an arena where nations, nongovernmental actors and businesses engage and compete for advantage. We bring to this forum unmatched military, political, economic, cultural and moral strength. Rather than deny this elemental nature of international affairs, we embrace it.'”

“[Trump is] attempting to restore the primacy of industries that powered the American economy in the mid-20th century: particularly manufacturing, fossil fuel extraction, and construction. In the process, Trump is sublimating—if not opposing—the needs of the sectors likely to drive more growth through the 21st century: information technology, professional services, clean energy, entertainment, education, tourism, health care” [Ron Brownstein, The Atlantic]. Simplifying, restoring the power of the local oligarchs in the (colonized) flyover states who control those sectors, as opposed to the power of the professionals in the metropolis.


Cory Booker: “[H]ow would you feel if I gave back all of the pharmaceutical money that I have in this cycle, would you feel better” [Real Progressives USA (JE)]. It would be a start (and I love, just love Booker’s qualification: “this cycle”).


GA-06: Ossoff opposes Medicare for All. 2017 continues to be as wonderfully clarifying as 2016!

No wonder the Democrat Establishment and the Clintonites are so enthusiastic about him! (And as if ObamaCare wasn’t utterly driven by neoliberal, markets-first ideology!)

SC-05: “The Democratic Congressional Campaign is investing $275,000 in Archie Parnell’s campaign to fill a vacant South Carolina seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. arnell trails his GOP opponent by 10 percentage points, according to a poll conducted by Anzalone Liszt Grove Research on behalf of Parnell’s campaign. That’s an improvement over a 16-point deficit in March, according to the same poll” [HuffPo]. “The DCCC, House Democrats’ election fundraising arm, has stuck to a strategy of placing big bets only on seats where polling shows it can win, despite criticism from some progressive activists for not backing special election candidates earlier and more aggressively.” Parnell, of course, works for Goldman Sachs. So I’m actually happy the DCCC is stiffing him. But still.

“As my colleagues and I have been writing for the last few weeks, a clear “enthusiasm” gap is opening between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats more engaged (or is it enraged?) than their GOP counterparts… The latest example of this enthusiasm gap is the drop in the percentage of Americans who identify as Republican. But, before Democrats get too excited about these latest numbers, it’s important to note that there has not been a corresponding bump in the percentage of Americans who identify as Democratic [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “As Gallup writes, ‘the Republican decline has been offset mostly by a three-point increase in the percentage of Americans with no party preference or leaning.’ In other words, voters may be souring on Republicans but that doesn’t mean they are transferring their allegiance to Democrats.” Clearly, Democrats need to double down on what they’re already doing.

Trump Transition

“Christopher Wray, President Trump’s nominee to be the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, is firmly embedded in the corporate crime bar” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. “And his fellow members of the bar are coming out of the woodwork to praise him. ‘Chris Wray is a superb and serious lawyer with a strong moral compass,’ said Leslie Caldwell, head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division under President Obama. ‘Having served under Chris when I was Director of the Enron Task Force, I witnessed first-hand his deep respect for the Department of Justice and the FBI, as well as his strong commitment to public service. The country is lucky to have someone of Chris’s caliber serve in such an important role.'”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Former FBI director James B. Comey said Thursday he helped reveal details of his private conversations with President Trump because he thought doing so would spur the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the administration—a remarkable admission showing the degree of concern he had about both Russian interference with U.S. politics, and his doubts about the Justice Department’s ability to probe such activity” [WaPo]. Assuming good faith, yes. And–

“Comey testified that he arranged to have a Columbia University law professor friend to pass along his memos to a reporter with hopes that the publicity would lead the FBI to name a special prosecutor to handle the ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russian officials” [WaPo]. Cue the fevered speculation!

Lambert here: Putting legal and ethical issues aside, if a special counsel ends up taking Trump down, Comey will be credited with having performed a feat hitherto unknown in politics: Taking down the presumptive front-running candidate in a Presidential election (at least according to the dominant faction in the Democrat Party), and then taking down the candidate who was elected instead. In my view, that will give Comey (along with his faction in the “intelligence community) open veto power over any future Presidential candidate, should he choose to exercise it, a change in the Constitututional order. I mean, the story of the quadrennial trek to visit with The Last Honest Man in Washington on his front porch practically writes itself. Comey is only 56.

“In Trump world, everything is a deal, everything is transactional, everything is about personal loyalty — to him. What can I give you to make you do what I want? What can I threaten you with to force you to do what I want? Will you be with me no matter what?” [E.J. Dionne, WaPo]. “In constitutional democracies, rules and norms get in the way of this sort of thing. Other institutions in government have autonomy and derive their authority from being at least partly independent of politics. The boss does not have absolute power.” All very true, and part of a liberal genre of piously and vociferously pointing out failure by person T, where the failures are shared by the political class, including prominent liberals. For example, from Politico: “For Hillary, whose [2008] loss was of course not the end of her political career, the spreadsheet was a necessity of modern political warfare, an improvement on what old-school politicians called a ‘favor file.’ It meant that when asks rolled in, she and Bill would have at their fingertips all the information needed to make a quick decision—including extenuating, mitigating and amplifying factors—so that friends could be rewarded and enemies punished.” That’s not transactional? My point is not to say that “everybody does it”; everybody doesn’t. Rather, I’m asking who has the standing to make this argument? Not the Democrat Establishment, for whom Dionne carries water, that’s for sure. More centrally, I don’t like the slipperiness of “rules and norms” (and I don’t think Madison would, either. The title of Federalist 51: “The Structure of the Government Must Furnish the Proper Checks and Balances Between the Different Departments.” Checks and balances prevent “the boss” from having absolute power, not “rules and norms,” which amount to assuming good people are good. Madison rejects that assumption: “This policy of supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives, might be traced through the whole system of human affairs, private as well as public.”) I don’t like the slipperiness of “rules and norms” in the same way that I don’t like the slipperiness of confusing intelligence analysis (such as it is) with criminal investigation. The way to make sure that “everything” is not transactional is to fund political campaigns properly, as Sanders did. Or rather, to make politics a “transaction” between voter and representative.

“Comey’s compelling case of Trump nearing obstruction of justice [New York Daily News]. “When told, the last of many times, that the proper way for a President to comment on an ongoing criminal investigation was for the White House counsel to contact the leadership of the Justice Department, not for the President to jawbone the FBI director, Trump seemed to agree, adding, oddly, ‘Because I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.'”

“James Comey’s testimony doesn’t make the case for impeachment or obstruction against Donald Trump” [Jonathan Turley, USA Today]. “CNN ran comments that the Comey testimony was nothing short of the Watergate tapes. The desire for some indictable or impeachable offense by President Trump has distorted the legal analysis to an alarming degree. Analysts seem far too thrilled by the possibility of a crime by Trump. The legal fact is that Comey’s testimony does not establish a prima facie — or even a strong — case for obstruction. It is certainly true that if Trump made these comments, his conduct is wildly inappropriate. However, talking like Tony Soprano does not make you Tony Soprano. ”

“The mathematicians who want to save democracy” [Nature]. “Gerrymandering has a long and unpopular history in the United States. It is the main reason that the country ranked 55th of 158 nations — last among Western democracies — in a 2017 index of voting fairness run by the Electoral Integrity Project…. Lawsuits fighting partisan gerrymandering are pending around the country, and a census planned for 2020 is expected to trigger nationwide redistricting. If the mathematicians succeed in laying out their case, it could influence how those maps are drawn. … ‘This is what the courts have been waiting for,’ says Megan Gall, a social scientist with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law in Washington DC. ‘This is our way to stop it,’ she says.”

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of June 3, 2017: “After spiking in the prior week, initial jobless claims came back down” [Econoday]. And: “There is nothing in the data to discourage a Fed move to raise interest rates next week” [Economic Calendar].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 4, 2017: “The consumer comfort index fell back from expansion highs in the June 4 week, down 1.3 points to a still very solid 49.9. Strong readings for confidence reflect strong optimism for employment” [Econoday].

Quarterly Services Survey, Q1 2017: “Information revenue rose 1.5 percent in the first quarter compared to the fourth quarter with the year-on-year rate at plus 4.2 percent” [Econoday].

Consumer Credit, April 2017 (yesterday): “Credit growth slowed in April, to $8.2 billion which is well below Econoday’s median estimate for $17.0 billion and low estimate of $15.0 billion. Weakness is centered in nonrevolving credit which rose only $6.7 billion for the lowest reading in nearly 6 years. This includes weak showings for vehicle financing and also student loans which are lumped into this component” [Econoday].

Shipping: “Container lines using the Panama Canal are set to benefit from an unexpected boom in shale gas shipments out of the US, as the canal authority is set to reduce some tolls” [The LoadStar]. “The news comes almost a year after Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Verela, officially opened new locks built to respond to increasing vessel sizes, and which allow for a maximum of 18 transits a day by bigger ships. However, because of the ‘explosion’ in shale gas exports, Seatrade chief executive Yntze Buitenwerf said the US had ‘confiscated’ three transits a day to serve its needs. While not officially allowed, Mr Buitenwerf said a special regime was in place to accommodate this.” “Confiscated”?!

Shipping: “National Forklift Safety Day 2017” [DC Velocity]. Of course, my instinct to mock was about to kick in; but if you’ve travelled to countries where labor is very cheap, you’re unlikely to have seen a lot of attention paid to “prominent forklift safety advocates.” There are still some things this country does well.

Shipping: “The worst may be over for the marine shipping industry, after years of overcapacity and devastating price wars. An improving global economy is driving more oceanbound trade, with volumes in the dry-bulk sector expected to grow 3%, outpacing a projected 1% increase in capacity. Improved demand from China for thermal coal and iron ore are helping drive up demand for dry-bulk ships. The container market is also rebounding, with prices up 55% last month. Container shipping lines have greater control over capacity and rates on key routes after the biggest players consolidated into a handful of alliances” [Wall Street Journal]. “Collectively, these operators are likely to turn a profit this year, after multi-billion-dollar losses in 2016. Oil tankers have had a rougher start to the year, but with more older ships headed for the scrapyard, buyers have snapped up 69 new and used very large crude carriers this year through May, compared with just eight last year.”

Shipping: “The U.S. river system ferries nearly three-quarters of export-bound U.S. grain to ocean ports, but most locks and dams, which allow river barges to move through various elevations, have outlived their intended 50-year lifespans. U.S. exporters absorb some of the financial toll of inefficient transport, with farmers on the Upper Mississippi or Illinois rivers receiving up to 21 cents less per bushel of corn in the event of unplanned closings of certain locks” [Wall Street Journal].

Innovation: “Chinese manufacturer Transsion Holdings Ltd. became the top player in Africa by developing localized features like devices with two card slots for customers who had multiple SIM cards, and an optimized camera for people with dark skin” [Wall Street Journal]. “These companies and others are clustered in China’s Pearl River Delta, close to component makers that have graduated from contract manufacturers for Western technology companies to innovators in their own right. Cheap production costs and access to the latest advances have sparked fierce competition between Chinese smartphone makers, which now pose a threat to global giants. Oppo sell more than three phones in China for every two sold by Apple. But fierce brand loyalty among Apple customers means the different Chinese players are mostly competing against themselves.” If Apple wants my loyalty, give me the two SIM slots!

Fodder for the Bulls: “Don’t be nervous. It might be a bit early to make this call, but I will make it anyway: I have trouble putting anything more than trivial odds on a recession in 2018, or even 2019. At this point, the best bet is that this expansion, which started in 2009, at least ties — if not beats — the current record of 10 years” [Tim Duy, Bloomberg].

Five Horseman: “SSDD: the Five Horsemen are at the threshold, with Facebook trading just above its record high.” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. SSDD presumably this and not this or this. SMDH. This is a family blog.

Five Horsemen Jun8

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 56 Greed (previous close: 55, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 58 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jun 8 at 12:28pm.

Our Famously Free Press

“Golden handshakes of almost half a million at Wikimedia Foundation” [The Register]. Six figure payouts are hardly real money, these days. Nevertheless, there is a faint aroma….

Class Warfare

“From the beginning, the poor were especially at risk for lead paint poisoning. “It was always the poorest people living in the most dilapidated housing, where absentee landlords let properties disintegrate, who were the most victimized,” says Rosner. The link between poverty and lead paint was strengthened during the post-World War II era, when “white flight” to the suburbs and discriminatory housing practices led to a greater concentration of poor and minority residents in the inner cities. Their homes and apartments tended to be older and poorly maintained, increasing the chance that children were exposed to chipping and peeling paint” [Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond]. The subhead for this paragraph: “The Basic Problem is Poverty.” The Richmond Fed takes out a Communist Party card….

“Filipinos make up nearly a third of all cruise ship workers. It’s a good job. Until it isn’t” [California Sunday]. “Filipinos make up about a third of the workforce on cruise ships — by far the greatest share from any country. They carve sea-creature ice sculptures in apartment-sized freezers, rappel from ropes to scrub the ship’s hull, give manicures and massages, dance to “Livin’ la Vida Loca” for dinner guests, and bus three-course meals from double-decker dining halls. Although the pay is attractive compared to jobs at home, the trade-off is a contract that offers little protection…. Regie didn’t take the time to read the entire document, which was in English, a language he understood but not fully. The first page spelled out all he wanted to know: The salary would be enough to send his kids to private school, and the 48-hour workweek sounded standard. Regie didn’t notice that his $450-a-month pay was fixed, even if he put in up to 70 hours a week. He also didn’t see the clause at the bottom of the third page that barred him from seeking protection under U.S. law if he were injured.”

“Hanson dismantles the notion that that long hours are a mandatory part of a startup’s origin story—and, in fact, that there are other forces at play here. If tech financiers’ wealth depends on the productivity of its portfolio companies, then investor attitudes are partly responsible for the unhealthy work habits that have infected so many startups. “It’s not hard to understand why such a mythology serves the interest of money men who spread their bets wide and only succeed when unicorns emerge,” Hanson wrote. “Of course they’re going to desire fairytale sacrifices. There’s little to no consequence to them if the many fall by the wayside, spent to completion trying to hit that home run. Make me rich or die tryin’.” [Wired].

“‘The pill mill of America’: where drugs mean there are no good choices, only less awful ones” [Guardian]. “James is polite and soft spoken, his focus shifting between the kids in the cart and Meghan on the corner. He explains that they were evicted a year and a half ago for ‘non-payment’ and after a stint in a shelter, they took to the street. When I ask him how he can be on the streets with two kids, he clarifies: ‘We ain’t really homeless right now. We crash in a shed behind the house of a friend.’ I ask him if the shed has water and heat and he smiles and says: ‘We have a cord we run out to the shed. It has been warm the last three nights, so that’s good.;” Maybe if there were some kinda special credential for preventing “deaths from despair” liberal Democrats would pay attention? You know, a fancy diploma with a signature at the bottom? And a signing ceremony?

Rural America is beautiful. It’s understandable that people don’t want to leave a land that they love.

“For all of the talk about automation, outsourcing, and the gig economy transforming the labor market, there is a lot of public service work that takes a human touch that the market is not seeing to, including elder care, childcare, deferred maintenance, establishing a green energy infrastructure, setting down cable for rural broadband, etc. A Federal Job Guarantee gets this work done with unionized labor at 20–25 dollars an hour. So not only does your rural town get broadband internet, it may even get a newspaper and a community band, and everyone who wanted a job would earn a wage that is above subsistence and would allow them to save investment capital” [Medium].

News of the Wired

“Gibson’s upcoming book, Agency, has a plot one would expect from a lesser author: the future is awful because Trump was elected president” [The American Conservative]. “Cyberpunk is not becoming marketable because it offers a solution for society. The message is clear that, in face of inexorable rot, the individual loses his sanity or loses his soul. What the genre does offer is a third choice: to view breakneck dehumanization as a roller coaster ride. There is grim exhilaration in the acceptance that an awesome decline cannot be stopped. A future that was once dark and hopeless is now dark and beautiful when one dives headlong into it. Ugliness becomes thrilling and alienation becomes adventure.” It will be interesting to see if Clinton, who Gibson supported, appears.

“Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia” [PNAS] (2012). See Table I, “Twenty-three words with cognate class sizes of four or more among the Eurasiatic language families.” There are 23 such words: Thou, I, Not, That, We, To give, Who, This, What, Man/male, Ye, Old, Mother, To hear, Hand, Fire, To pull, Black, To flow, Bark, Ashes, To spit, Worm. Can readers comment on the methodology?

“How the transgenic petunia carnage of 2017 began” [Science]. “[Plant biologist Teemu Teeri] ultimately confirmed that the [petunias] contained foreign DNA, and he tipped off regulators in Europe and the United States, who have identified other commercial strains that are genetically engineered (GE). Although officials say the GE petunias pose no threat to human health or the environment—and likely were unknowingly sold for years—they’ve asked sellers to destroy the flowers, because it’s illegal to sell them in the United States and Europe without a permit.” Good thing the carnage was only for the poor petunias, and not for wheat or rice.

* * *

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 (JN):

I love tapestry-like backgrounds of rotting plant matter, I really do.

* * *

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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. Altandmain

    Apparently even the NYT is having difficulties covering up the Obama Trump voters:

    Chicago policing getting worse and feeding the cycle of poverty/violence:

    Iran Hysteria:

    Oh and now the Washington Post is attacking Jimmy Dore:

      1. EGrise

        Very interesting indeed, and I learned a new (to me) term today: “drop off voters

        [T]hose who lean Democratic but failed to vote in either 2014 or 2016. By and large, these voters were members of the coalition that elected and re-elected Barack Obama:

        people of color (41% African-American, Hispanic, or Asian), young (22% under the age of 29), female (60%), and unmarried (46% single, separated, widowed, or divorced).

        Priorities found that drop off voters were distinctly lukewarm toward Hillary Clinton:

        Just 30% describe themselves as very favorable to Clinton, far lower than the 72% who describe themselves as very favorable to Barack Obama.

        So something something Russia something something sexists, I suppose.

        1. EGrise

          Seriously, lots of interesting stuff in there. My chief takeaway: there’s a lot of fertile ground out there, and if the feckless grifters in charge of the Democratic party don’t pull their act together and do something about their “white working class problem” then someone else will.

      2. flora

        Yes, indeed. The neoliberal, triangulating Democrat politicians did well during the time period between the end of the old post-WWII economic accommodation of labor (1985-ish) and the final neoliberal destruction of that post-WWII accommodation; roughly between 1990 and now. In the early years, 1985 to 1995 say, the “not-this, not-that” triangulation sounded like a hip and clever “threading the needle”. Now, after 20 years of experiance, it’s seen as another scam. If the Dems have a blind spot, it is believing that the working class are too stupid to see what is going on.

        1. flora

          ‘You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” – Abraham Lincoln

  2. allan

    Saudi Arabia football team fail to line up for minute’s silence in honour of London terror attack victims

    The Saudi Arabian football team were booed by Australian supporters after they failed to properly line up for a minute’s silence in honour of the victims of the London Bridge terror attacks.

    Saudi Arabia were preparing to play Australia in a World Cup qualifier at the Adelaide Oval when the stadium announcer called for a minute’s silence to begin.

    The Australia team linked arms in a line on the centre circle while the Saudi Arabia team stood in random formation as the silence began. …

    A number of Saudi Arabian players stood still with their arms behind their back while others appeared to continue their warm up.

    Reports suggest that the visitors’ substitutes bench also failed to stand to observe the tribute. …

    Surely Tony Podesta has a perfectly sensible explanation.

  3. Tom Stone

    The Democratic party might do a little better if they made some pretense of representing the bottom 90%. Single Payer in California comes to mind…which Dem powerhouses are out there stumping for it?

    1. jo6pac

      which Dem powerhouses are out there stumping for it?


      which Dem powerhouses are out there stumping against it?

      Everyone of them in power

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      First few bits of that, I thought I was going to see a fork lift version of “The Straight Story”.

  4. Roger Smith

    Georgia, please, you must defeat Ossoff. If he wins the Democrats will waive it around as almighty justification for their complete ignorance of reality.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        That moar neoliberlism is needed. Which is the same lesson they’ll learn if he wins, being the epitome of one-trick jackasses and all.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Its more about Dems donors than anything else especially the anti-Republican pragmatic ones. One obstacle to fighting the Dems elites is the perception the Third Way types are “serious people” They are backed by huge amounts of money which is mostly a problem early on during the primary process.

        Dem donors who are believers in their causes (they aren’t all hopelessly corrupt) might back decent candidates or at least stay away. Funding causes such as Ossoff diverts badly needed media attention, outside help, and even money because people like to invest in what looks like a winner.

  5. Kim Kaufman

    “Cory Booker: “[H]ow would you feel if I gave back all of the pharmaceutical money that I have in this cycle, would you feel better” [Real Progressives USA (JE)]. It would be a start (and I love, just love Booker’s qualification: “this cycle”).”

    Not the point. How would I feel if he voted correctly, in the interest of the people? I would feel much better.

    1. RUKidding

      I would feel that it, at least, it was step in the right direction.

      Sheesh, these politicians. It’s really clear who they work for, and here’s a clue for free: it ain’t for his alleged “constituents” in the 99%. That’s for sure.

    2. Vatch

      Regarding “this cycle”:

      It’s a little better in the case of Booker than for a Representative, since a Senate cycle is 6 years. He’ll be up for reelection in 2020, so that means he would give back 2.5 years worth of pharmaceutical donations. Aside from that, your point that he should just vote on behalf of the people makes a lot of sense. Cory Booker is an excellent example of the validity of the Investment Theory of Politics.

      1. jo6pac

        I’m sure he has learned a thing or two from the clintons.
        1. Start tax exempt foundation
        2. put the money in saying you’ll give it to your favorite charity.
        3. problem solved

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Booker has his eye on 2020.

        I believe one major problem Booker and the rest have is they have hid behind Obama and Hillary and their accompanying circus for so long they don’t have a grasp of the state of the electorate. They were able to get away with a lot, but now they have the internet and no protectors.

    3. craazyboy

      He’s speaking in “Incremental Milton Freedman Cycles.”

      Cory Booker – “Shades of Lighter Gray – Coming.”

      There will be a movie.

  6. LT

    Re: The American Conservative on the book “Agency”

    “If we put on our cyberpunk goggles, all of this means something. Capitalism is a computer that processes desire.”

    A point well-taken, especially when you watch something like the doc “Year Million,” praising the progress that could be made if only humans would implant corporate owned micro-chips in their brains and somehow upload their “thoughts” (which would only be what a computer perceives to be thoughts) onto a corporate owned cloud in order to communicate with one another.
    We already have a taste of what that is like and are only just beginning to grasp the manipulation.

  7. LT

    Re: Wired – Silicon Valley/Work Ethics

    “However, this standard Silicon Valley trope was met with instantaneous backlash Monday. Detractors aimed their fire directly at the investors pushing this prosperity gospel about how only the deserving ascend to the top…”

    Boom! Just as discussed on the previous thready re Ivy Leagues origins with religious overtones and how they have never really strayed from their original mission:
    I said something like: “It’s a variation on the prosperity gospel preached in mega-churches and other guest speakers pushing their books on getting wealthy…”

      1. LT

        Calvinist…definately familiar with. Aren’t we all introduced to that indoctrination one way or the other?
        Dragged through Calvinist indoctrination kicking and screaming for some of us.

      2. Byron the Light Bulb

        The Elect are Elect, and nothing the Elect can do to change that. The Preterite are Preterite, no matter how good and selfless the Preterite act, they have already been passed over. Not going to be picked for heaven’s all-star game. And Switzerland is some sort of theological DMZ. And yes, according to Calvinists, there is a celestial factory jamming defective souls into neonatal’s. Universal planned obsolesce for every creature. Jehan Cauvin was somewhat of a futurist, no?

        1. Synoia

          Possibly this is the basis of belief for a Christian:

          – Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

          – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

          – Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

          – Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.

          – Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.

          – Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

          – Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the sons of God.

          – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

          – Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.

          – Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

          Seems to be missing “about how only the deserving ascend to the top.”

        2. JTFaraday

          “The Elect are Elect, and nothing the Elect can do to change that. The Preterite are Preterite, no matter how good and selfless the Preterite act, they have already been passed over.”

          Maybe I’m just dumb, but I don’t really see the connection between predestinarianism and meritocracy, as the end result of human actions.

          If anything, they are opposites. One says you can do nothing and the other says you must act.

  8. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: Politics — Policy
    “Simplifying, restoring the power of the local oligarchs in the (colonized) flyover states who control those sectors, as opposed to the power of the professionals in the metropolis.” ==> I would add to this that Trump is enabling further crippling privatization and exploitation by these local oligarchs. So now they may control our movement, our power and water and whatever else we need to live. I think I’ll watch my DVD of “Even the Rain” one more time tonight and maybe follow that with a re-watch of “No”.

  9. Left in Wisconsin

    Rural America is beautiful. It’s understandable that people don’t want to leave a land that they love.

    “For all of the talk about automation, outsourcing, and the gig economy transforming the labor market, there is a lot of public service work that takes a human touch that the market is not seeing to, including elder care, childcare, deferred maintenance, establishing a green energy infrastructure, setting down cable for rural broadband, etc. A Federal Job Guarantee gets this work done with unionized labor at 20–25 dollars an hour. So not only does your rural town get broadband internet, it may even get a newspaper and a community band, and everyone who wanted a job would earn a wage that is above subsistence and would allow them to save investment capital”

    Hey, these two kind of go hand in hand! If unpaid caregiving were compensated consistent with the real work that it is, just think of how many more paying jobs would be available in all those cities, towns and rural areas that are dying from depopulation now.

    That said, I think it is a mistake to think of care-giving as a Job Guarantee job which one takes when one doesn’t have anything else on offer. Care-giving is MORE important than the large majority of jobs that are out there, more important than virtually all other low-paid work, and subjecting it to the whims of labor market fluctuations is not appropriate. First, we should compensate caregivers for the work they do (and provide them with the resources they need to do a good job); then we should think about what other kinds of jobs make sense for a JG.

    1. LT

      I can’t shake the feeling there is a bigger plan to depopulate rural America and turn the area into bigger zones of extraction for resources.
      If anybody can disavow me of that notion, please do.

      1. Mike Mc

        Sorry LT. I work for the state university a few miles from the NIC – Nebraska Innovation Campus – that replaced the 100+ year old state fairgrounds with basically an ag R&D facility co-owned by the state, the U and these folks:


        Rural America has always been a resource bank for the rest of the country. First it was bison, then land for railroads, then beef and crops (mostly grains) but also cannon fodder for various wars once we killed off and subjugated the indigenous peoples. So now we have gene splicing and drones and sensors instead of covered wagons and Longhorns. Costco is building a chicken processing plant up the watershed from Lincoln and Omaha – if they can’t control their pollution, drinking water for both cities – most of Nebraska’s population – is at risk. So yeah – extraction and depopulation still on the menu.

      2. Gaianne


        You make me think of the Highland Clearances.

        The Scottish Highlands have a lower population today than in neolithic times.


        1. Synoia

          That’s because the Highland Scots revolted against the crown, and Supported the Young Pretender, Bonnie Prince Charlie.

          Bonnie Prince Charlie landed on the west coast of Scotland in July 1745, accompanied by NINE men and a few arms! This uprising suffered from three great problems: bad timing, bad organisation and false hope.

          1. Gaianne

            Agreed that the rebels could have put more of their attention on how to achieve success.

            But it is interesting to me that the English could imagine no solution but permanently depopulating the country.


            1. Mel

              Economics struck. Sheep were deemed more productive, cheaper to keep, and you didn’t have to pretend to take them seriously. An echo of this turns up in Mrs. Oliphant’s supernatural novel The Wizard’s Son in an incident where a village full of cotters (crofters) aren’t turning a penny of profit by their subsistence farming, and are due to be turned out by the Spirit of the Age.
              A similar thing has happened in America where a bunch of top financial managers have decided that manufacturing is too risky and troublesome, and have handed the whole lot over to Chinese people who seem to welcome the problems. They can do the work, we’ll just keep the profits, thanks very much.

      3. Rosario

        Yeah, I can’t stomach the anti-rural BS anymore. The most obnoxious (and wrong) is the urban areas “subsidizing” rural areas truism. I forget which Neoliberal, chest beating Democrat pushed that idea initially. I think people fail to understand that capital is, despite best efforts to claim otherwise, a creation of politics and society. Last I checked cities don’t grow wheat, corn, or soybean. Cities aren’t centers for oil and natural gas extraction. Cities don’t mine bauxite, iron, and rare earths. The reality is quite the opposite, urban centers are subsidized by rural areas, and history shows us that it has been this way for thousands of years. It just so happens that city dwellers have never payed full price for all the resources extracted out of rural areas, or the corporate HQs and their executives in cities extract all the profits from rural productivity. Think unfair equipment contracts from farm suppliers (John Deer, Cat) or similar with seed suppliers (Monsanto). If we paid fair value for the resources we consume from rural areas and urban based corporations didn’t exploit them they wouldn’t be poor.

        1. VietnamVet

          This is the globalists greatest fallacy. Cities will continue to exploit resources outside their boundaries exponentially, forever. Singapore, a 76% Chinese city, in the Malayan Archipelago is a prime example. It is the ultimate case of depending on the kindness of strangers who hate you. When the US Navy sails away will the Chinese Liberation Navy be capable of keeping the Strait of Malacca open and avoiding a holy war with Muslim Malays living on either side?

      4. polecat

        Maybe the folks in flyover country could learn a thing or two in resistance from the Navi … they’re VERY tough to kill !

    2. LT

      I got the impression from article that more than jobs, people want to feel like they “belong.” They aren’t taking drugs to feel good as much as to feel like they belong…
      In one way, work as a metric of one’s value had its hand in creating this situation.

    3. Rosario

      So true about caregivers, someone on this forum once said, paraphrasing, “there is an inverse relationship to the social value of jobs performed (garbage collector, caregiver, etc.) and its compensation” I think this seems to hold true with a few exceptions.

  10. Fred

    Re:” that will give Comey (along with his faction in the “intelligence community) open veto power over any future Presidential candidate, should he choose to exercise it, a change in the Constitututional order.”

    That’s one more reason he deserved to be fired.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Can I have your loyalty?” = “Can I trust you to not betray me, to not leak?”

      I think Trump had cause not to trust Comey.

    2. Art Eclectic

      He’s serving his country in a far better way right now.

      Nobody pledges allegiance to the President, it doesn’t work that way.

  11. craazyboy

    If a crime boss is taking over the head post at the FBI, then it’s certainly time for a happy R song.

    “Darn it!”
    Sorrys to M Jackson and the happy tune, “Beat it.”


    [Baptist Choir Girls]
    “Darn it, Darn it!”

    Too forward the world goes
    Incremental lead by toes
    Time to sew up all the sockholes
    See where this all goes.

    [Baptist Choir Girls]
    “Heel it. Heel it!”
    “Heel it. Heel it!”

    We know we ain’t got the bucks
    Fer nuthin’ but self-driving trucks,
    Trucks don’t need no bootstraps.
    So.. Eat it, eat it.

    [Baptist Choir Girls]
    “Eat it. Eat it!”
    “Yeah…. Eat it!”

    Closer without ‘er, eyeballs glued together,
    Tear fake eyelashes off!
    Take control yer own sandals
    Time you learn how ta walk
    See it. See it?

    Get in touch yer real toes
    They’re just skin an’ some bones.
    See your reality change
    You can be it. Be it.

    [Baptist Choir Girls]
    Yeah, Be it , be it.
    Yeah, gotta be it!

    [Bongo Whisperer Quartet plays “Team Red Victory – Bestest Yet”]

    [Baptist Choir Girls]
    “Hit my damn thumb, gosh I feel dumb.”
    Darn it, Darn it!

  12. a different chris

    >”Work smarter, not harder” said Kobe Bryant and Usain Bolt, never.

    Um, they put in less “work” hours than probably any of us here… that’s not an insult. They do it b/c the human body can only take so much before it begins to break down. The human brain has the same issue, it’s just not as obvious.

    This is why these VCs turn out so many crap companies that amount to nothing really (they get bought by Google Apple or Microsoft mostly for their low-level talent, the so-called “technology” itself usually hits the dustbin), the tech people smart or not just go off the rails. I worked for a startup where we basically figured out and fixed on Monday the code the founders would mess up over the weekend… they were bright people but they were running on way worse than fumes.

    1. Loblolly

      I worked for a startup where we basically figured out and fixed on Monday the code the founders would mess up over the weekend… they were bright people but they were running on way worse than fumes.

      I’ve worked for construction contractors like that, it’s not limited to startups. It’s just that “founders” have different skillsets. My response was to learn their skills, which to my mind were not harder than my technical skills, but rather social skills that I had not come by naturally.

      I’ve been self-employed ever since. We work for idiots by choice and then we rationalize that decision in order to justify working for idiots.

  13. cocomaan

    The beauty of rural America

    Turn around, you idiot, and set your camera to a long exposure! You can see the stars at night out here.

    Only some city-slicker would turn to face the light when you’ve got that beautifully dark night to enjoy sleeping through!

    1. Big River Bandido

      I interpreted the photo to mean that there is no place left where nature’s beauty is sacred. Anyplace can be profaned and sullied by commercialism, advertising, television…on and on.

    2. FluffytheObeseCat

      I almost hate to break it to you schmucks, but that was a beautifully composed photograph, of a genuinely beautiful, albeit mundane, location. Arnade was not being arch, or clever or contemptuous with that image.

      Sometimes, in some spots, mercury vapor lamps are beautiful. Sometimes neon lights can bestow benedictions.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > that was a beautifully composed photograph

        That is exactly what I thought. A night sky photo would have been lovely too, but this is another example of the reviewer who panned a book about penguins because he wanted it to be about seagulls.

  14. Bittercup

    @greta odd:same reporter who had memo leaked to him by Comey via prof in nY, aslowrote the leaked story April 22 about Comey/Lynch and “matters”

    The reporter in question is either Michael S. Schmidt or Matt Apuzzo at the NYT? If you go back in their archives, you’ll find more articles that predate the Comey firing and reference anonymous officials. Such as this one. Gotta wonder if Comey has actually been leaking for a while, via that pipeline.

  15. NotTimothyGeithner

    Kurt Eichenwald is the real winner of the Comey testimony. Close your tabs when you aren’t looking at them even if you are doing research. Any searches might be NSFW.

  16. thoughtfulperson

    Looks like Labor has done well in the final poll – the BBC ITV Sky Exit Poll predicts a minority for the
    Conservatives. We’ll see in the morning if that holds up… If so great news for Corbyn I would think.

    314 seats for Tories, 266 for Labor, the Lib Dems 14, UKIP none and the SNP 34


    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you. Fingers crossed for the results to match. Long night ahead. One wonders if May likes listening to lambeg drums?

    2. purplepencils

      fingers and toes crossed. this might be the best possible outcome at this point…

    3. JustAnObserver

      Any person out there in NC-land (UK chapter) seen any indications on the turnout ?

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t think there are any official figures yet, but apparently Labour sources are saying there was a very high urban turnout, but a very low one in depressed areas and small towns. This may have favoured labour as most of the marginals are in the big urban areas. It may be that Labour managed to get a very high youth turn-out.

        Incidentally it seems that the Conservatives have done very well…. in Scotland! The SNP are way down, mostly losing to the Tories.

        Although just to add a note of caution – it seems that some of the early results are not matching the exit polls very well, so there may well be more surprises to come.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      What a nice pre-bed surprise! If that exit poll shows up it means the young have risen up against the old. And it seems sterling is plunging big time already. I’d love to see the faces on some of those City types tonight as their champagne goes flat.

      314 is maybe the worst possible result for the Tories – with 10 Ulster Unionists (almost all DUP) thats the thinest possible majority which would make for a highly unstable government. But it would be the only realistic government as its very hard to see how Labour could cobble together an alternative (Sinn Fein have already said they will not take their seats, even in a coalition).

      Having the DUP in government would be a major issue for Brexit as they have their own agenda over the Irish border (its a bit complicated – they hate any idea of dealing with the Irish government, but they don’t want customs barriers either).

      Normally, such an unstable government is bad news for any country, and no doubt sterling and the stock market will plunge tomorrow if thats the case, but I think its good for Labour. It ensures the Tories will ‘own’ the problems inevitable over the next few years and will give them an excellent platform for the next election.

    5. MoiAussie

      So to jump the gun, as usual, who wants to talk about the next Tory leader?
      John Rentoul in the independent for one: Weak and unstable Theresa May’s gamble has failed – and now she will have to go.

      Unless the exit poll is a long way out, it is hard to see how May can stay on as leader. Her party would never forgive her for holding an unnecessary election and losing seats. Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd may find themselves arguing about who is fit to drive the other home after a party once more, in a leadership election in which David Davis might be the surprise candidate who comes through the middle.

      When I wondered if the Poms might end up with the Boris a few days ago, someone presumably more informed suggested that was unlikely. (It would however seem to confirm that bad hair is a plus for right wing leaders.) David Davis seems a bad choice, given his Brexit posture. Hopefully Ms Rudd will lose her seat. Who else is a potential candidate?

  17. katiebird

    Here’s a link to a live results page : Live UK election results tracker: are we heading for a hung parliament?

    First results are expected shortly after 11pm, with Sunderland council announcing three constituencies. They should all be solid Labour holds, but a change in vote share might be the first indication of how the night will unfold. At 1am Nuneaton is the first bellwether swing seat to come in; since 1997 it has always voted for the winning party.

  18. makedoanmend

    Voted at 19:00 in Scotland and the rain it was pishing down. Expected to cast my ballot in a ghost polling station.

    Wow, was I wrong. Not exactly a referendum turnout but the traffic was way above expectations. And at least 40% of the voters were the 30 yo and under cohort.

    Despite the huge amount of money the Tories spent in our region of Scotland compared to previous years, I don’t think their marginal return on £’s invested will provide the outcome they expected. Labour spent very little and the SNP “lost” many of their large business donors but these two parties should still garner a majority of the reps.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Jeb! No, not that Jeb. Texas Jeb:

    “Hopefully, the nightmare of Dodd-Frank will be gone soon,” Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican, said in an interview Thursday. “Of all the regulations that were imposed on our economy in the Obama era, Dodd-Frank was the worst. In the House, we just threw it off. The animal spirits of free enterprise can roam yet again.”

    Hensarling wants to do away with what’s known as Dodd-Frank’s orderly liquidation authority, which empowers regulators to wind down banks should they run into trouble.

    [His] legislation also scraps the so-called fiduciary rule, which imposes tough standards on brokers by requiring them to put their customers’ interests ahead of their own when handling retirement accounts.


    Repealing the Labor Dept’s fiduciary rule is as pure an example of anti-populism as you will ever see. It is a massive, in-your-face F.U. to the American people from a Wall Street-owned Repuke, so that old-line bulge-bracket brokers can continue mulcting their customers with fee-laden funds.

    Shutting down orderly bank liquidation authority as Bubble III is ballooning ominously across the sky ain’t so bright neither. Like the hedgehog, Jeb — no polymath — knows one big thing: how many hundred-dollah bills he got from Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Goldman Sachs to line his sticky pockets.


  20. ewmayer

    o “The mathematicians who want to save democracy” [Nature] — You’ve heard the old joke about a topologist being someone who can’t tell the difference between his donut and his coffee mug, yes?

    o “Ultraconserved words point to deep language ancestry across Eurasia” [PNAS] (2012). See Table I, “Twenty-three words with cognate class sizes of four or more among the Eurasiatic language families.” There are 23 such words: Thou, I, Not, That, We, To give, Who, This, What, Man/male, Ye, Old, Mother, To hear, Hand, Fire, To pull, Black, To flow, Bark, Ashes, To spit, Worm. Can readers comment on the methodology? — Not I to critique methodology so far outside my areas of expertise, but with the addition of the single word [from] (and removing all but one of the ‘to’s for the various verbs) and jazzing this up a smidge with a couple of punctuation marks, I can fashion those into a fairly coherent sentence:

    What? Mother, we heard that thou, not I, gave ye old spit flow [to] man whose hand pulled black worm ashes [from] this bark fire!

    (In her defense, turns out that Mutti thought said individual had scorched his extremity and was just offering a little cooling saliva as an emergency remedy.)

    What do the readers think? If I jazz it up with some made-up-to-sound-suitably-exotic names like, say, ‘Zayla’ and ‘Shlongalar’, lots of gratuitous non-rival-clans-approved sex between those star-crossed lovers and the ensuing head-cavings-in, and add a few winsome furry friends as a free bonus, could I be the next Jean Auel?

    1. LT

      You know technocrats in government don’t care to understand people.
      So I’m not surprised that it may take numbers to make a change.

      1. Propertius

        Originally just plural and singular, I think – although the use of “you” as a polite form was eventually adopted from French. I have often wondered the habit of early English typographers of substituting “y” for the “thorn” (“Þ”), which wasn’t present in imported typefaces, might have accelerated the loss of “thou”.

        We are amused.

  21. Tim

    National Forklift Safety Day 2017” [DC Velocity]. Of course, my instinct to mock was about to kick in; but if you’ve travelled to countries where labor is very cheap, you’re unlikely to have seen a lot of attention paid to “prominent forklift safety advocates.” There are still some things this country does well.

    My Dad worked for Hyster Forklift company for his entire career. I assure you there is no end to the ridiculously unsafe things people will do with them without thinking.

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