2:00PM Water Cooler 7/18/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, as so often I figure a post will take two hours and then it takes four. So I’ll add in a few more links later, mostly not on politics, since the big political news of the day is the defeat of the BCRA, covered here. –lambert UPDATE Done 2:57PM, mostly on The Bezzle.

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I also want to give a quick report on the Portland meetup, where I had a great time, and others seemed to as well. (Those of you who said you’d email me, please tell me you attended the meetup, since I am terrible with names.) Some tidbits suitably anonymized:

1) I ranted on landfills (and one attendee knew where the Lewiston transfer station was!).

2) Two attendees were told by a well-placed friend in the Beltway that the Naked Capitalism meetup was the place in be in Portland that night.

3) Another attendee has managed to keep several people from losing their homes to foreclosure, despite the best efforts of the robosigners, one for nine years. No mortgage payments, no taxes! Not a bad deal, that once I would have been shocked by and disapproving of, but when so many others with so much more power have impunity, why not?

4) Trouble in the mortgage and mortage servicing business started as early as 2001 at Washington Mutual. So the rot was a long time spreading.

5) Sucre, Bolivia, Cuence, Ecuador, and Uruguay were mentioned by some with experience as suitable spots for expatriation. Thumbs down on Guatemala though: Pure capitalism.

6) There are MMTers in the University of Maine professariat.

The venue: The Great Lost Bear was good for beer, and had a terrific wait staff, but I have to say the food was mediocre at best. I wasn’t expecting a gastropub, indeed didn’t want one, but don’t get anything fried. The salads looked good, though. If Al Diamon was there, we didn’t see him.

Also, expect an announcement of more meetups soon.


UPDATE “If something seems too good to be true, it probably is not actually true. But occasionally it is. Michael Clemens, an economist at the Centre for Global Development, an anti-poverty think-tank in Washington, DC, argues that there are ‘trillion-dollar bills on the sidewalk.’ One seemingly simple policy could make the world twice as rich as it is: open borders” [The Economist]. “There are certainly risks if borders are opened suddenly and without the right policies to help absorb the inflow. But nearly all these risks could be mitigated, and many of the most common objections overcome, with a bit of creative thinking.” Anybody who imagines our elites have any interesting in “mitigating” working class concerns is a fool who should read Case-Deaton and meditate on what it means when a polity allows decreasing life expetancy. Or, since this is The Economist, a clever fool.

UPDATE “U.S. Calls for ‘Much Better Deal’ in Nafta Overhaul Plan” [New York Times] (original). “The 17-page document the administration sent to Congress echoes Mr. Trump’s tough talk on trade by making the reduction of America’s trade deficit with its neighbors its top priority. However, it also builds off the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal that Mr. Trump abandoned when he took office, borrowing concepts about labor regulations and the environment.” Oh, great.


Health Care

“Joe Biden: Americans decided health care is for all. The GOP wants to roll that back” [Joe Biden, WaPo]. I wish liberal Democrats would stop lying about this; ObamaCare is not universal. And how do you write an Op-Ed with a headline like that and not mention #MedicareForAll?

Obama Legacy

“MITCHELL: Obama center’s golf course plan drawing more complaints” [Chicago Sun-Times].

“Obama Luster Wears Off Library Plans, But Critics Still Split On Problems” [DNA Info].



“At the Races: Democrats Announce for Wide Swath of Congressional Races” [Roll Call].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Democrats Have Absolutely No Idea About What They’re Going to Do in 2018” [Fusion]. As opposed to running as Republicans in wealthy suburbs?

“What does $80 million buy oil and gas interests? Voter profiles, door knocking and influence at local and statewide levels” [Denver Post].

“California Gov. Jerry Brown Is Backing a Climate Bill Full of Giveaways to Polluters” [In These Times].

Stats Watch

Housing Market Index, July 2017: “Home builders are less exuberant as the housing market index fell to a weaker-than-expected 64 in July [Econoday]. “This is the lowest reading since November last year. The report cites the effects of high lumber costs on home builders but the decline in this index joins a run of moderation in other housing data. Today’s report does not point to improvement for tomorrow’s housing starts and permits data which are nevertheless expected to improve from prior weakness. Mortgage rates remain low but they haven’t been giving housing much of a push.”

Import and Export Prices, June 2017: “Like consumer inflation, cross-border inflation is flat” [Economic Calendar].

UPDATE Retail: “Alfred Angelo Store Closures Lead to Widespread Bride Panic” [Fortune]. “Innovative competitors have began offering discounts to disgruntled customers with Alfred Angelo receipts, including the retailer David’s Bridal.”

The Bezzle: “Head of troubled Google Fiber steps down” [Financial Times]. Google should stick to its knitting and decrapify search.

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Moovn goes head-to-head with Uber with new deal to reach millions of riders” [Urbangeekz]. “The African-American owned ride-hailing company is already operating in the U.S. and Africa. Now a groundbreaking new deal with telecoms giant Vodacom has positioned the Seattle-based firm to significantly increase its market share in the ridesharing space. The partnership is expected to provide more than 12 million people in Africa access to transportation services through the use of the Moovn app.” Is there a reason Moovn would be profitable, where Uber is not?

UPDATE The Bezzle: “From buses to glasses: Silicon Valley’s love of non-tech start-ups” [Financial Times]. “Some tech start-ups strain the limits of what it means to be ‘tech’ or a ‘start-up’… Venture backers even tried to disrupt the grilled-cheese sandwich market, with the funding a few years ago of The Melt, a restaurant chain whose backers included Sequoia. Its founder was legendary entrepreneur Jonathan Kaplan, maker of the Flip video camera. But even he could not innovate the toastie, and was replaced as chief executive last year. (The Melt still has some 19 outlets.)” Fine, if that’s what the VCs want to do, but why would The Melt be valued as a startup, as opposed to just another restaurant chain? Sounds to me like end-of-cycle stuff, if I have the jargon right. They can’t be doing that much innovation in Silicon Valley if they have to put their stupid money into the grilled cheese business.

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Snap, Blue Apron IPO duds underscore hyper private valuations” [Deal Street Asia]. “The company’s aspirational $3.2 billion valuation would have been richer than the average of U.S.-listed e-commerce companies. Emphasizing its web-based service, it angled to be valued as a high-growth tech company rather than as a grocery delivery service, people familiar with the matter have said.” “Aspirational valuation.”

UPDATE The Bezzle: “Bitcoin and three other investments that look like classic bubbles but actually aren’t” [MarketWatch]. “‘Previously, these bubbles of the past have “inflated 1,000% over 10 years before bursting, cutting prices by more than half in the following two years,” [Charles Schwab global strategist Jeff Kleintop] explained. By the time they eventually popped, these investments had become fixtures across investors’ portfolio. Hence, the sweeping impact of their implosion…. But what about those deemed bubbly in today’s climate? Kleintop says the four most popular candidates are cryptocurrencies, low volatility, internet retailers and central bank assets. He applied his 1,000%/10-year filter to these investments. ‘Remarkably, none of these seem to fit the classic profile of a potentially damaging bubble,’ he said. ‘But that doesn’t mean they don’t carry risks for investors.'”

UPDATE “Watch this extorted money get lost in the expanse of the blockchain” (fun animation) [Quartz]. “[F]unds appeared to be sent through a bitcoin mixer, also known as a tumbler, which is a complex series of transfers that bitcoin owners can use to obfuscate the paper trail between two or more bitcoin addresses on the blockchain, essentially laundering their money.”

UPDATE The Bezzle: “From $2 Billion to Zero: A Private-Equity Fund Goes Bust in the Oil Patch” [Wall Street Journal]. “[EnerVest, a] $2 billion private-equity fund that borrowed heavily to buy oil and gas wells before energy prices plunged is now worth essentially nothing, an unusual debacle that is wiping out investments by major pensions, endowments and charitable foundations.

UPDATE ETFs: “The growth of exchange-traded funds and passive investing since the financial crisis has been so huge they could unwittingly be central to the next major market downturn” [Reuters]. “The structure and size of ETFs, together with the trend-following nature of passive funds, mean the breadth of selling from this investor base when the market does turn south could quickly accelerate.”

UPDATE Honey for the Bears “This Expansion Will End in a Fizzle, Not a Bang” [Tim Duy, Bloomberg]. “The Fed is growing increasingly concerned that this expansion will end like the last two, with a collapse in asset prices that brings down the economy. That concern will lead the central bank down the path of excessive tightening. Worse, that logic misses a key point. In both of the last two cycles, there was a sizable imbalance in the economy that extended beyond financial assets themselves. So far, the current environment lacks such an imbalance. That suggests the expansion ends with more of a fizzle than a bang.”

UPDATE Honey for the Bears: “Optimism in Financial Markets Fails to Show in Real Economy” [Wall Street Journal]. “Surging optimism in financial markets hasn’t translated into a big pickup in economic growth.* Stocks hit records Friday and big U.S. banksreported stronger-than-expected earnings. But new government data showed consumers pulled back spending at mid-year even as markets rallied. Households also grew less optimistic about the future and inflation on consumer purchases softened. Taken together, the indicators pointed to an economy that is entering the ninth year of expansion steady and still creating jobs at a healthy clip, but without obvious additional momentum.” * “Surging optimism by tape worms hasn’t translated into big weight gain by host.”

Honey for the Bears: “GM extends shutdown at Chevy Bolt plant as inventories swell” [Reuters]. “The Bolt is the first electric car in the U.S. market to offer more than 200 miles of driving range per charge at a starting price of around $35,000.” $35K seems like a lot of money for a car, but note this: “The automaker also builds the Chevrolet Sonic small car at the Orion plant, and sales of that car are down nearly 37 percent for the year to date.”

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 41 (Fear). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 18 at 1:39pm.


“Baker’s yeast can help plants cope with soil contamination” [Instituto Gulbenkian de Ceincia].

Class Warfare

“Immigration raids 10 years ago didn’t change this meatpacking town’s job market” [Los Angeles Times]. Because the demand for cheap labor doesn’t go away.

News of the Wired

“A taxonomic revolution? A Q&A with Sandy Knapp on the impact of e-publications” [BioMed Central]. Classification as gatekeeping…

“Letter of Recommendation: Detroit Techno” [New York Times]. “People often forget that the most visionary musical styles to come from America in the late 20th century — house and techno — are not from the coastal capitals of modern culture but the perennially neglected Rust Belt.”

“An award-winning photographer, Paglen has spent his career documenting the clandestine infrastructure of mass surveillance” [The Economist]. Lovely photos.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allegic to PayPal, and (d) 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. Today’s plant (Furzy Mouse):

A ginger plant from Furzy’s garden in Thailand.

NOTE Readers, if you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. Thank you!

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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. Carolinian

    Re The Democrats Have Absolutely No Idea About What They’re Going to Do in 2018

    Greenwald says they do have an idea–they’re going to turn into (continue to be) Neocons!


    One of the most under-discussed yet consequential changes in the American political landscape is the reunion between the Democratic Party and the country’s most extreme and discredited neocons. While the rise of Donald Trump, whom neocons loathe, has accelerated this realignment, it began long before the ascension of Trump and is driven by far more common beliefs than contempt for the current president.

    A newly formed and, by all appearances, well-funded national security advocacy group, devoted to more hawkish U.S. policies toward Russia and other adversaries, provides the most vivid evidence yet of this alliance. Calling itself the Alliance for Securing Democracy, the group describes itself as “a bipartisan, transatlantic initiative” that “will develop comprehensive strategies to defend against, deter, and raise the costs on Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy and democratic institutions,” and also “will work to publicly document and expose Vladimir Putin’s ongoing efforts to subvert democracy in the United States and Europe.”

    Guess they aren’t reading the polls.


    1. TK421

      The Democratic Party is absolutely doomed. Just done for. Remember this article, shared here a few weeks ago?


      With this quote:

      Clinton told activists that they needed a specific agenda to get more than “lip service.” When pressed, her voice hardened, and she said, “Look, I don’t believe you change hearts.”

      If that is still the prevailing belief among the party leadership–and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be–then they are never going to try and drum up more support by convincing outsiders to join them, but rather are going to continue chasing after Republican voters. With the same results, I’m sure.

      1. Louis Fyne

        Democrats can’t even deliver good governance where they are in control. see DeBlasio/Cuomo and the subways, Rahm and Chicago, Minneapolis and police brutality.

        No results, just spinning the wheels and going in front of the local news and blasting Trump.

      2. Pat

        Why should she believe that you can change hearts? Even though Clinton has appeared to be a weather vane over the years that was largely because she hasn’t given a damn about most of our deeply held issues. Anything important to Clinton, she hangs on to like a starving dog and a bone. Oh, she might deflect criticism when those beliefs have led to disaster – she both Iraq and Libya, but even then she won’t admit she was wrong. And on those things really important to her, she cannot change course even when it is clearly going to cause her problems (see her actions when anyone asserted the public’s right to know from Whitewater on through the public server).

        As for the leadership, part of that is just a reworking of the old adage about a person and their livelihood. Actually attempting to court the people they have thrown over the rail because they can no longer trick them into voting their puppets into office would mean having to embrace policies that large donors might not like. And most of our Democratic leadership aren’t really candidates anymore, they are the consultancy class. Without those large donors, that group won’t have a cushy seven figure income anymore. Until the donor class decides they don’t need Democrats and drop them the usual suspects are not going to recognize how obsolete they have become.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          She knows firsthand. She was a Goldwater republican in 1964, and she still is today. It’s just the Overton Window that’s moved 500 miles to the right…

        2. Richard

          I think you are dead on about the Clintonesque psyche/political m.o.
          I beg to differ with your power dynamic between dems and “donor class” though. Who writes the laws and gives out the favors, anyway? Who is it that gets to sell their access?

          1. Harold

            They have a job generating machine going for their acolytes and relatives of donors. Jonathan Ossoff for instance, whom they ran as a candidate in Georgia, was the son of Clinton donors.

      3. dcblogger

        the weird thing is, if you think that you can’t change hearts. all the more reason to fire up the base!

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Her base is suburban Republicans. Nothing weird about giving TINA to the Dem base.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The “desired” base is “moderate suburban Republicans.” Trump did quite well with “moderate suburban Republicans” outside of the the defense contractors in Nova who were worried Trump might move defense related jobs which would be a disaster for Nova as its an overpriced suburban hellhole.

            The “pragmatists” in the Democratic Party banked on a strategy of appealing to the people who kept every Clinton scandal in the 90’s in the news.

      4. Richard

        Thanks for the link. Wow, the parallels with Nixon really are there. Except I doubt we would have got a Department of Ecology out of her.

    2. TK421

      Russian and other state actors’ efforts to undermine democracy

      Oh, such as the superdelegate system?

      1. marym

        ….and gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, ballot access restrictions, closed debates, corporate funding of elections, lack of paper ballots counted in public, US support for coups and despots in other people’s countries……

        Even if one were to totally believe that Putin!!! masterminded some propaganda or email hacking, or held inappropriate discussions with Russians!!! the supposed concern of Democrats now for “democracy” is pathetic.

    3. DJG

      Carolinian: When I read the Greenwald article this morning and saw the screen captures of the “initiative,” I was struck by how it is one-stop-shopping for an indictment of war criminals. Where is the Hague Tribunal when we need it? Service of process will be simple!

    4. Procopius

      I’m surprised anyone is surprised by this. Who did they think Victoria Nuland was? Who promoted her? Who approved her neo-Nazi coup in Ukraine? Who approved her attempt to snatch Cyprus from Greece? Her husband was working as an “adviser” to the National Security council. Where did they think the decision to change the regime in Syria came from? Did they think all the neocons in the Defense Department followed Wolfowitz and Feith into exile? Did they think the neocons did not infiltrate the State Department as well?

  2. Richard

    The story on the dismal dems lack of vision links to another story about where they’re turning in their time of confusion: Rahm Emanuel. Oy.
    At some point, we just have to accept that this crew has no interest in “beating the Republicans”. They thought their control over the executive was assured due to demographic trends and the Repubs overt racism. They were free to be the most crappified version of the Democrats ever! They were fine with the Repubs controlling everything else, as it kept them from ever having to serve a popular agenda, and gave plenty of opportunities to react in “horror” for the folks back home.
    And now that their plan is all falling apart, we can add onto that, that they’ve gone crazy as well, and many yearn for open conflict with Russia.
    We have many options before us in terms of how to wage a struggle for peace and justice in this country, but we don’t really have any political options, imho.

    1. SpringTexan

      And they still seem to think demographics is destiny and are fixed on reassembling the “Obama coalition”, even though that thing of the past will not happen again. Hence the strong interest in Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. They are idiots who seem incapable of learning from experience. It’s really WEIRD.

      1. Procopius

        Sounds a bit like the Bourbons. I think the Habsburgs had a bit of a problem with learning from mistakes, too, although their run of around 500 years is pretty impressive.

    1. Huey Long

      Sweet Jesus! A decade ago that’d be an onion headline.

      P.S. I’m traveling today. JFK airport has convinced me we’re living in late stage Soviet times.

  3. WheresOurTeddy

    A meetup in Sacramento/San Francisco/San Jose (each slightly closer than Portland, *Oregon* to yours truly) would be ideal for us NC fans on the west coast.

    Thank you to Yves, Lambert, Jerrie-Lynn, et al, for all your dedication. We here in deep-red Norcal – also known as Calabama or DNO (Damn Near Oregon) – appreciate a forum where one can unapologetically refuse to hew to one of the two acceptable cattle chutes of thought without being lumped in with the controlled-opposition #McResistance or called a Putin Stooge by someone who knows the correct pronouns for all 37 genders but can’t fine Syria on a map.

    This forum is worthwhile and appreciated.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      *find. Though the psyochpaths at State and Pentagon would probably assess a fine to Syria if they thought they could extract it…

    2. Richard

      Or even a little farther north, to Seattle! Although I would settle for Portland (OREGON), because it is beautiful and I am reasonable…

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Where’s our Deep South, New Orleans Meeting, Lambert!!!???


  4. Altandmain

    Well I got rejected again. They said the other candidates had more experience. I’m thinking that people who should be in Senior level roles are competing for intermediate level roles, squeezing us out. There is no shortage of workers …. just a shortage of job hiring.

    Links today:
    An alarming number of Americans are worse off than their parents and we’re not talking about it enough

    Police violence in America

    Police officers in Minneapolis are required to wear body cameras as part of an effort to mitigate popular outrage in the aftermath of the July 2016 shooting of Philando Castile. While this decision was presented as a progressive police reform by the Democratic Party and its supporters, the Damond shooting has exposed it as purely cosmetic. Officers can easily conceal their actions by simply leaving their body cameras turned off.

    Also from WSWS, from Flint


    Infant mortality rates are up.

    Poll: Clinton more unpopular than Trump

    Netanyahu Pushes Trump Toward Wider Wars

    Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals

    Obama’s AWOL Anti-War Protesters

    China Now Leads in Renewables

    A step in the right direction if true.

    1. Outis Philalithopoulos

      Key passage from the article on anti-war protesters:

      Thousands of innocent foreigners were killed by U.S. bombings and drone attacks during the Obama administration. In his 2016 State of the Union address, Obama scoffed at “calls to carpet bomb civilians.” Perhaps he considered it far more prudent to blow up wedding parties instead (as happened during his reign in Yemen and Afghanistan). […]

      Why did Obama suffer far less backlash than George W. Bush? Salon columnist David Sirota summarized an academic study released in 2013: “Evaluating surveys of more than 5,300 anti-war protestors from 2007 to 2009, the researchers discovered that the many protestors who self-identified as Democrats ‘withdrew from anti-war protests when the Democratic Party achieved electoral success’ in the 2008 presidential election.”

      Sirota noted that the researchers concluded that “during the Bush years, many Democrats were not necessarily motivated to participate in the anti-war movement because they oppose militarism and war — they were instead ‘motivated to participate by anti-Republican sentiments.’”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If you can’t verify China’s GDP numbers, how can you their renewables?

    3. dcrane

      +/- 3.1 percent margin of error on the poll, so can’t technically say if Hillary is less popular than The Donald at the moment, with a 2 percent approval difference. But who cares, really…

  5. Pat

    OMG, Yahoo has an article on their page that has great Democratic hope Kamala Harris quoted as saying that Democrats have an agenda that tells the American public they see them. Somehow I’m sure that more than a few of those Americans also know that seeing them doesn’t mean doing anything to clean up the mess of thirty years of neoliberalism and helping them out. But the donor class likes it.


    Only bright spot was they also have a link to a Business Insider article that says that Americans think even less of Hillary Rodham Clinton than they do of Trump. So that hasn’t changed.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      :::Picks up binoculars:::

      “Say, Jed, looks like some gal in an expensive-looking suit is waving at us from over yonder hill…she’s holding a sign that says ‘we see you’…wait, now she and everyone with her are giving us the finger…reminds me of when we paid $25 to have Pizza With Perez so they could talk at us on their ‘listening tour’…”

      “Nevermind, Jed. Same old Democrats.”

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Hello, is this 9/11?
          I think I saw someone looking in the windows. They saw me.
          Oh, don’t worry that was just the Democrats.

    2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      This is so very telling. “Tells the American public that they see them”. So they admit that previously they couldn’t even see them? That they were invisible? And precisely when do they graduate to “and now we can hear them”? And when does “speak to them, too” arrive? And then if we’re really lucky we might get to “now we are thinking about doing the slightest little thing for them”?
      We have something but a representative democracy it is not.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It is an example of why expecting the Democrats to learn a lesson from losing to Trump is almost ludicrous. The Democratic Party is so rotten they are actually trotting Harris as a “front runner” without her actually having positions voters care about.

        The Democrats are going to a terrible map without a celebrity candidate on the ballot to pull nostalgia voters. With the greatest orator in the history of the universe and an 853rd dimensional thinker, the Democratic Party was effectively wiped out. Empty slogans aren’t going to cut it anymore.

        1. John Wright

          It is interesting that liberal San Francisco politics have produced such friends of the struggling class such as Dianne Feinstein, Nancy Pelosi, and now Kamala Harris.

          If this is what a liberal Democratic city produces in the way of caring politicians, the Democrats might be racing Sears-Holdings to be first to complete irrelevance.

          The Dems will soldier on until the donors no longer see their Democratic investment worthwhile.

          They won’t even have much value as future lobbyists.

      2. ewmayer

        “So they admit that previously they couldn’t even see them?”

        No, no, no – it’s not even about suddenly recovering one’s sightedness – here is the quote:

        HARRIS: “essentially it’s about telling the American public we see them”

        So it’s not about *actually* seeing them, it’s about adjusting one’s *messaging* to that effect, because some focus groups and consultants you paid big $ to said that that message might get “traction”. For the dismal big-dollar-donor-fellating corporo-Dems it’s never about actually *doing* anything of substance, it’s all about virtue signaling. As captured perfectly by the AP “With 2018 looming, Democrats divided on their core message” article in today’s Links. “No problem that can’t be ‘solved’ with better PR.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > HARRIS: “essentially it’s about telling the American public we see them”

      Voters should be seen and not heard? The extended quote:

      “It’s going to be multitiered, but essentially it’s about telling the American public we see them,” Harris said of the Democrats’ message. “All Americans want to know that they are healthy, that their children and their parents are going to have access to health care and dignity. All Americans want to know they can get a job and keep a job. All Americans want to be able to retire with dignity.”

      “These are truths, and when we see people for who they really are, and instead of some demographic based on what a pollster looks at, I think we’ll all be better for it,” she added.

      Somebody should ask Harris if she has a candidate in mind that campaigned like that….

      1. Richard

        “access to health care and dignity”
        “retire with dignity’
        The refrain of dignity has me worried
        as a step or so above really poor and ignored by doctors
        medicare for all
        say it goddam it. If you can’t even fight for that, can’t even start the fight there, then really, what good are you?

      1. Benedict@Large

        Whatever I might have to complain about Obama and Booker, both have had the sense to take a step back when they got slammed by these easy Mega-$$ kiss fests by the rich. I don’t know diddly-squawk about Kamala Harris except how quickly she laid down and got the fleas of the rich all over her, and that means I can’t trust her.

  6. Vatch

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions is an advocate of institutionalized theft in the form of civil asset forfeiture:


    It could happen to you. From the article:

    Since 2007, the Drug Enforcement Administration alone has taken more than $3 billion in cash from people not charged with any crime, according to the Justice Department’s Inspector General.

    The practice is ripe for abuse. In one case in 2016, Oklahoma police seized $53,000 owned by a Christian band, an orphanage and a church after stopping a man on a highway for a broken taillight. A few years earlier, a Michigan drug task force raided the home of a self-described “soccer mom,” suspecting she was not in compliance with the state’s medical marijuana law. They proceeded to take “every belonging” from the family, including tools, a bicycle and her daughter’s birthday money.

    Whether it’s Scott Pruitt, Betsy DeVos, or Jeff Sessions, the Republicans in the Executive Branch are determined to hurt the majority so that they can benefit the ultra-rich minority.

    1. Huey Long

      Ahhhh yes, our brave heroes in blue who keep us safe…

      Older readers: Have the police always been this bad in terms of outright criminal behavior or is this a recent phenomenon?

      I.e. How do today’s cops stack up to the Serpico era cops?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Can I just mention the local coverage here in Australia of the innocent woman killed by a US cop in Minneapolis, it’s wall-to-wall, and extremely disparaging, no, absolutely incredulous and angry at the entire nation and its occupants for not standing up to the rampant police state. Many stating they will never again visit out of abject terror and outrage.
        Not proud days to be an ex-American…and this from a people with a remembered and abiding thankfulness for being rescued by the US during WWII.

        1. allan

          More on the Minneapolis shooting investigation:

          State investigators on Tuesday identified the officer who shot Damond as Mohamed Noor, who joined the department in 2015, and said the officer driving was Matthew Harrity, who joined the force last year. Both officers were placed on standard administrative leave after the shooting.

          According to investigators, they spoke with Harrity on Tuesday and got his account of the shooting. Noor has declined to be interviewed by BCA agents, the bureau said in a statement, adding that Noor’s attorney did not say “when, if ever, an interview would be possible.”

          If ever??? It must be nice to have that as an option.

          1. justanotherprogressive

            You have that “option” too – or would you rather throw out the 5th Amendment?

            1. allan

              Many of us have already had the 1st, 4th, 6th and 14th Amendments thrown out for us by Congress, the courts and the executive branch’s system of secret law. So, yes, I would have no problem with government agents with life-and-death powers over the citizens losing, as part of their employment contracts, some of the rights they have as private citizens for actions taken in their official duties.

          2. Vatch

            I find it quite creepy that the body cams of both officers were turned off. Did they do this because they were planning to do something wrong?

    2. jsn

      It’s pretty much the old school southern Jim Crow police routine, now it’s just being rolled out for all poor people. Still has a special spot for black people, but all poor people qualify for Jim Crow 2.0 where the crime is being poor!


    On Google Fiber: If even one of the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse is having trouble making it in the ISP telecom game, that is more than enough evidence that the industry is made up of rentiers and no real market competition is possible.

  8. Carolinian

    Pretty good Pepe Escobar on Trump’s visit with Macron.


    So what did Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron really talk about throughout their effusive buddy-buddy Parisian act?This being France, let’s start where things matter: gastronomy.

    Yes, that dinner at Alain Ducasse’s overpriced Jules Verne restaurant at the Eiffel Tower. Cool window table with a view. Only the principals, along with wives Melania and Brigitte. The Macrons are fluent English speakers. No leaks from the Elysée Palace.[…]

    So how to add a few sleepless nights to Chancellor Angela Merkel? You ratchet France’s defense spending up to the Nato 2%-of-GDP standard; you invite Trump to Paris and throw in a lavish Bastille Day military parade (complete with a band playing Daft Punk, much to Trump’s puzzlement); and you position yourself as his prime interlocutor in the EU. When a crisis comes, any crisis, Trump will be dialing the Elysée, not Berlin or Brussels.

    And getting to the important food question.


    The six-course meal, according to CBS News White House correspondent Mark Knoller, sounds highly sophisticated for a man who typically dines on buckets of chicken, meatloaf, and steak with ketchup:

    Selection of pate
    Tomato, eggplant, zucchini
    Dover sole, spinach, Hollandaise
    Filet of beef, brioche with foie, souffle potato, truffle sauce
    Warm strawberry with yogurt sorbet
    Hot chocolate souffle with chocolate ice cream
    As anyone who’s dined in Paris may know, it can be awfully difficult to convince French chefs to prepare beef well-done — but presumably what the leader of the free world wants, he gets, at least where thoroughly overcooked meat is concerned. Ducasse may have drawn the line at serving said steak with ketchup, however.

    Of course we Carolinians endorse DT’s love of ketchup as would William Randolph Hearst who always kept a bottle of Heinz on his table in the giant San Simeon banquet hall.

      1. Huey Long

        MLTB: IDK why but that one killed me! The whole bar at JFK is awkwardly staring at me ATM!

    1. allan

      as would William Randolph Hearst who always kept a bottle of Heinz on his table in the giant San Simeon banquet hall.

      Could Rosebud be a reference to ketchup?

      1. Gaianne

        “Rosebud” refers to Hearst’s mistress. Everybody knew about her but nobody talked about it. It was a great big no-no for Orson Welles to allude to her at the end of “Citizen Caine.” Having “rosebud” refer (in the movie) to a sled soothed no tempers. At all.


        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          It’s the sled. It could have been a teddy bear, a bicycle (a childhood grudge) or a family pet. A mistress wouldn’t have made sense in the context of the movie as a mistress wouldn’t create a mystery or be worth making a movie about. A reporter who was at Kane’s deathbed would have known who his mistress was if everybody knew. Vidal was simply making a joke. A mistress would fit in along with the opulence of Kane’s possessions.

          1. Carolinian

            The story is that Rosebud may have been Hearst’s name for a certain bodily region of his mistress, Marion Davies. Herman Mankiewicz, the writer along with Welles of Citizen Kane, had been an invitee to an San Simeon and knew rumors.

            Of course if this version is true then Hearst’s fury and desire to destroy the film would be easily explained. Hearst was devoted to Davies.

    2. JustAnObserver

      “ … When a crisis comes, any crisis, Trump will be dialing the Elysée, not Berlin or Brussels …”

      and, post Brexit, not London.

  9. Livius Drusus

    Re: the Obama legacy, I don’t even know how partisan Democrats can think he had a positive impact. The Democratic Party collapsed at the state and local level and in Congress during his 8 years in office and yet you didn’t see much panic from the Democratic establishment since they seemed oddly fixated on the presidency and Obama did beat Romney so everything was good in Dem world.

    Right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers understood that the key to power is at the state level. You need to win governorships, state legislatures, state attorney general’s offices even secretaries of state. This not only allows you to set the agenda for the future (a lot of policy experiments are initially done at the state level) but gives you power over voting rights and redistricting.

    I honestly don’t know how the Democrats could have been so incompetent. For a bunch of people who like to brag about how smart they are they really screwed up big time. The only explanation I can think of is that they assumed that demographic changes would do the work for them and they didn’t have to change. More non-whites and more college-educated social liberals apparently means more wins for the Democrats without any effort on their part. We saw how that worked out in 2016. And yet I still read Democrats online gloating about how they own the future because white Christian America is dying and we just have to wait 10-20 years and the Democrats will be the majority party. Talk about living in a bubble.

    1. Andrew Watts

      They might be right after all. The Republicans and Democrats could merge into one party. Besides social issues I can’t tell the difference between them when it comes foreign policy and increasingly economic matters.

    2. ProNewerDeal

      I was talking to a buddy who is a fellow Sanders/Stein Primary/GE voter. He is uniquely fearful of Trump, thinking his lack of impulse control could start a nuclear war say based on twitter-beefing with Kim Jong-Un.

      I said I strongly disapprove of the guy, but Pence or Paul Ryan could be worse. I noted I was presently surprised that the pathological Flip-Floppa Trump did at least (for now) keep 2 campaign promises, 1 TPP & 2 better relations w Russia/no Syrian War (note recent G20 meeting).

      I then thought out loud, what 2008 campaign promises did 0bama actually keep? The only 1 I could think of was legalizing stem cell research, reversing Bush43 policy. 2008 0bama notoriously promised the Public Option, renegotiating NAFTA, Most Transparent Admin Eva TM, protecting Whisteblowers, ending the Iraq War, removing the Guatanamo prisoners, etc, before doing the absolute opposite when elected.

      It is possible that pathological liar & Flip Flopper Trump is slightly Less Deceitful & More Earnest than 0bama was.

  10. Huey Long

    “Right-wing billionaires like the Koch brothers understood that the key to power is at the state level. You need to win governorships, state legislatures, state attorney general’s offices even secretaries of state. This not only allows you to set the agenda for the future (a lot of policy experiments are initially done at the state level) but gives you power over voting rights and redistricting.


    Let’s not forget patronage and pay-to-play campaign contributions too! That stuff keeps the local machine on firm financial and political ground so that the big national PAC money can be funneled into races/organization elsewhere.

  11. Huey Long

    Future IATA Lingua Franca

    Thought from the airport bar:

    Right now English is the official air traffic control language; no matter where you fly the guy/gal in the tower is supposed to be able to speak passable English. Ditto for the pilots at least on international routes.

    When the empire collapses, will this go on as an anachronism from the America era, or will some other tongue take over?

    1. ProNewerDeal

      English is a common language for business/government in multilingual nations like India, which are apart from “The West” US Imperial Sphere. Mandarin Chinese is considered a difficult language to learn.

      Given these 2 facts, I’d guesstimate English would remain the lingua franca even post-US Empire

      1. WeakenedSquire

        It’s actually quite easy to learn enough Mandarin to converse at a basic level. Like English, it’s a mongrel hybrid language, much influenced by northern invaders, that’s had a lot of its earlier complexity stripped away over the centuries. The main difficulty with Mandarin is, of course, the script, but that could be replaced with the standard Romanization, which natives already learn as a pronunciation aid. It’s far easier to spell than English!

  12. John the Revelator

    Re: Future Maine meetups

    Sorry I couldn’t get to this one but I’d really like to see more of them, especially outside of peak tourist season or the dead of winter.
    Suggested venues with an acknowledged Midcoast bias: Three Tides/Marshall Wharf in Belfast, The Badger in Union (not large so maybe an arrange well in advance venue), Frontier in Brunswick or maybe the Newcastle Publick House. Please no soulless Sea Dog or Shipyard locations.

  13. p7b

    re: chevy bolt
    $35k is a lot , but after incentives and discounts, an acquaintance got one (the version w/ the added gasoline engine, no less) for $25k. At that price, it’s a very attractive second car for a suburban family.

    Monthly sales of under 2000 units isn’t that impressive, though.

    1. polecat

      25k !?! … Ha !

      With all the so-called ‘inovation’ in automotive technology & materials science, why, for Zeus’s sake, can’t basic transportation be had for, say, $6000 ??
      50% of americans can’t even scrap up $500 for an emergency … hell, many of them are already calling it quits on paying the loans on those 25k and up vehicles !

  14. allan

    SoCal deserts, mountains recorded hottest temperatures on record for early summer period [LA Times]

    The last 30 days in Southern California’s deserts and mountains were the hottest on record for that period, according to the National Weather Service in San Diego.

    Average temperatures in Big Bear, Palm Springs, Palomar Mountain and Borrego Springs hit historic highs between June 18 and Monday, due to an unusually persistent span of heat and few changes in weather patterns …

    Over the last month, Palm Springs hit 122 degrees four times in the span of three weeks, edging close to its highest-ever recorded temperature of 123 degrees.

    “That is really a pretty big number for them considering their all-time record high is 123,” Albright said. …

    Sort of sounds like a fat tail, but surely there’ll be a reversion to a normal distribution any day now, amirite?

    Make America Gaussian Again.

  15. SamInCharlotte

    Are there any fellow Carolinians, especially in the Charlotte area who would be interested in a meet-up?

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