2:00PM Water Cooler 7/31/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I’m going to add a little more but not too much; I’ve got to do some weeding this sunny afternoon because my “habitat” is totally out of control. –lambert. P.S. 2:45PM All done!


“Since NAFTA, Mexico has become a country that relies on foreign corn and foreign food. Since growing corn was the basis of the economy, almost all Mexican peasants (except the Indigenous autonomous communities ) are now completely relying on foreign food. They cannot produce their own – it is too expensive” [Counterpunch]. “NAFTA only increased immigration to the United States, activating the U.S. economy with cheap, almost slave labor.” As I keep saying, open borders = cheap labor. That’s what the policy is for.

“One big problem that hurts U.S. export competitiveness are WTO rules that treat direct and indirect taxes differently, [Terry Stewart, managing partner at the law firm of Stewart and Stewart], said. Every country that runs a significant trade surplus with the United States has significant indirect taxes that are assessed on imports and rebated on exports, putting U.S. goods at a price disadvantage, he said” [Politico]. “Stewart also argued the WTO has inadequate rules for dealing with large state-directed economies like China. In addition, it is unable to fix errors made by its dispute settlement panels or the WTO Appellate Body. Both problems, he said, hurt the United States.”

“New protections for American steelmakers will have to wait, thanks to the complicated nature of supply chains and global trade. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Congress that President Donald Trump’s pledge to quickly provide big import tariffs has gotten bogged down in ‘complexity,’… [Wall Street Journal]. “The focus on the potential difficulties of imposing new limits on foreign steel highlights how the administration has gotten bogged down in the details of implementing what was originally portrayed as a simple, clear solution to a stark problem of cheap foreign steel. The tariff threat has also displayed the fissures in business, with some manufacturers concerned that their costs would rise while agriculture producers and other exporters worried about retaliation. The European Union has signaled possible new limits on inbound U.S. consumer goods and other nations also could respond. The bigger concern is overproduction in China, but the movement and processing of Chinese steel around the world only adds to the complexity.” Politics! And how are we going to produce ginormous defense boondoggles without steel? (Or aluminum… (or semiconductors…))



Please kill me now (1):

“Generals Love Him. Top Democrats Despise Him. Can He Be President Anyway?” [Politico]. “Every politician, of course, has enemies. But it’s [two-term Massachusetts Congressman Seth] Moulton’s allies who make him atypical—military leaders like David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal, experienced political minds like David Gergen. These people look at Moulton and see the face of the future of the Democratic Party, a social progressive who’s fiscally more moderate.” Oh, great. Socially progressive fiscal moderate counterinsurgency team leaders are the future of the Democrat Party. (To be fair, if another Occupy comes along, that last element in Moulton’s toolkit might come in handy.)

Please kill me now (2):

“White House Laying Groundwork for 2018, 2020” [RealClearPolitics].


“How Randy Bryce, the Iron Stache, Plans to Take Down Paul Ryan” [Daily Beast]. “[W]hile Bryce may have more name ID than past opponents, his prior electoral history isn’t exactly confidence-inspiring. Bryce has lost his three attempts to seek elected office in the state: a 2012 bid for a state Assembly seat, a 2013 primary for Racine County Board of Education, and a 2014 state Senate race.” The Working Families Party has him doing national fundraising (albeit at the $50-a-plate level).

UPDATE “But with a historically large presidential field taking shape, more than a dozen prominent Democrats — including governors like Terry McAuliffe and Steve Bullock, and senators like Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris — have recognized the need to distinguish themselves from the crowd. And they are already working hard to advance their brands while helping to reinvigorate the dilapidated party infrastructure in advance of the midterm elections” [Politico]. Moar strategists. Moar consultants. Ka-ching. Right on cue: “‘A major consideration for who the party nominates next is going to be whether they have a commitment to really rebuilding the party from the ground up, and that their commitment is to not just their own election but to bringing the party with them,’ said Zac Petkanas, a former senior strategist for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton. ‘It is a way to get some goodwill early on among people who are going to be influential in the next nominating contest.'” In other words, walking around money. Why is one of the guys who helped Clinton flush a billion dollars down the toilet of her wretched campaign being quoted as an authority?

Health Care

“It was easy for Republicans to vow to repeal Obamacare when they knew they couldn’t actually do it. Now that they have the numbers and the White House, they’ve learned that not all of them actually want to undo two of the fundamental changes wrought by the act: letting states extend Medicaid to more lower-income people largely at federal taxpayers’ expense, and barring insurers from favoring healthy customers over sick ones in the non-group market” [Los Angeles Times]. Once more, with feeling: ObamaCare is the worst possible Republican plan.

“Government-Run Health Care: Democrats’ New Litmus Test” [NBC]. “Government-run health care” is the UK’s National Health Service, not single payer. (Another way of saying this is that single payer is centrist by world standards.) Note a Republican has the same “confusion”: “‘This single-payer, it’s the gold standard for the Democrats,’ said Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont. ‘President Trump, the Republicans, want to make America great again. The Democrats want to make America like England again.'” (Daines is the guy who introduced single payer as an amendment during the Senate health care debacle.) More:

A majority of the Democrats in the House — 115 out of 194 — are now co-sponsors of Conyers’ bill, including three members of the moderate Blue Dog caucus. One of them, Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., is a deficit hawk who prominently withheld support for the 1990s Clinton White House health plan because he worried it was being written by “disappointed single-payer advocates” who “believe the old-time religion that only Canada works.”

At a town hall in April, Cooper explained his change of heart.

“I’ve thought about holding out and not co-sponsoring [Conyer’s bill] until they could get some Republicans on board, because I’ve always been a firm believer that health care needs to be bipartisan,” he said. “But I’ve finally given up that fight…The Declaration of Independence promises us life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and you really can’t have any of those three unless you have health care.”

UPDATE “Centrist lawmakers plot bipartisan health care stabilization bill” [Politico]. “The Problem Solvers caucus, led by Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) and Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), is fronting the effort to stabilize the ACA markets, according to multiple sources. But other centrist members, including Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.), and several other lawmakers from the New Democrat Coalition and the GOP’s moderate Tuesday Group are also involved. Their plan focuses on immediately stabilizing the insurance market and then pushing for Obamacare changes that have received bipartisan backing in the past. The most significant proposal is funding for Obamacare’s cost-sharing subsidies. Insurers rely on these payments – estimated to be $7 billion this year — to reduce out-of-pocket costs for their poorest Obamacare customers.” (The “problem solvers” frame reminds me of the “No Labels” crowd.)

Trump Transition

“Secret donations are helping to boost President Trump’s agenda, fights with investigators” [USA Today]. I hate to go “Everybody does it…” but everybody does it, at least in the liberal and conservative trines (as I suppose I must call them, there being, oddly, no equivalent for each of three parts as “quadrant”). And nobody wants to give the left money at all, so that’s sorted.

“Anthony Scaramucci Answers Socratic Questions at HLS” [DealBreaker]. My only issue is presenting Louise Mensch fanboi Larry Tribe as some sort of liberal Lycurgus, or at least a voice of sanity.

“Amtrak’s $630m Trump budget cut could derail service in 220 US cities” [Guardian]. “But even if the Sunset Limited and other routes survive Trump’s axe this time, supporters fear an annual battle to keep unprofitable long-distance train travel alive while lawmakers provide the bare minimum in financial support, causing a slow roll into the sidings: a lack of investment that leads to reduced reliability and declining passenger numbers.” This is framed as Trump screwing over his voters in the flyover state, but my reading is that free-market loons always push for this — they, after all, ride the Acela along with the hated liberals — and then Senators from those states put the kibosh on it. Readers?

“The Party Establishment Wing Of Trumpworld Collapses” [FiveThirtyEight]. Eight power centers in the Trump administration (one of which just collapsed). More:

So we knew that Trump would have an unusual administration. But its evolution, at least in its early stages, has been, frankly, kind of weird. Trump is executing a small government and conservative moral values agenda on domestic issues with a skew towards more nationalist policies on race and immigration but a somewhat pro-Russia foreign policy. That is an unusual mix. His chief of staff, press secretary and a deputy chief of staff have already left, and there have been rumors that his attorney general, chief strategist and secretary of state will quit in frustration or be pushed out, all while his daughter and son-in-law occupy secure roles. That too is unprecedented. Trumpworld still has a lot of of competing power centers, and it’s still not clear exactly which one dominates.

Sounds rather like the campaign, which fired its way to success. (I grant governing is not campaigning — though I do remember Obots pushing the line that Obama’s brilliant 2008 campaign presaged a brilliant Presidency, which quickly morphed into “He’s only been President __ months, give him a chance” — but that doesn’t mean Trump doesn’t think it does.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Ep. 22: Race, Class and DSA w/ Adolph Reed, Jr” (podcast) [Dead Pundit Society]. Though lengthy, an excellent listen, and very important:

[Reed is] a prolific commentator on black politics and has been on the socialist left for 50 years, so he’s just the man to talk to about the upcoming DSA convention. In particular, we’ll be addressing the proposal to establish an autonomous “Afro-socialist and Socialists of Color Caucus.” The full resolution can be found here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5P0FbY9YTM-UlVwTzRSTGhQRG8/view

UPDATE Lambert here: Crucial issue for the direction of the DSA, right out of the box. Interestingly, one of the caucus demands is “Endorsement of BYP 100s agenda.” The Black Youth Project (BYP) is out of the University of Chicago. I spent a few minutes poking round for funding sources, but while the site is heavy on funding opportunities, it’s notably light on documenting funding sources (see e.g. here). But I’m sure they’re all amis du peuple. (I’m torn because there’s lots of stellar academic work on slavery being produced, for example. That doesn’t imply that programs developed by professional academics are appropriate for a political party, any political party.)

UPDATE “During an appearance on Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Pelosi to estimate the chances of Democrats winning back the lower chamber in 2018 and whether she would run again for Speaker if they did. ‘That’s so unimportant. What is important is that we have the lively debate on a better deal,’ Pelosi said” [The Hill]. “‘Better pay. Better jobs and a better future. And that’s what we look forward to having. And we have unity in our party. You saw it with the fight on the Affordable Care Act in the House and in the Senate.'” A “lively debate.” Pelosi says, of the “Better Deal”: “I don’t think people want a new direction… What we want is a better connection of our message to working families in our country.” Odious “working families” framing aside MR SUBLIMINAL I feel e-r-a-a-a-a-a-s-e-d! what is the “lively debate” supposed to be about, then? The messaging?

More: “Wallace during the interview also asked Pelosi if Democrats need new leaders, noting that the members of her party’s House leadership are all over 75. ‘I am a master legislator. I know the budget to the n-th degree. I know the motivation of people,’ responded Pelosi, who has faced criticism from some in her party recently.” Maybe I should have filed this under Please Kill Me Now.

“Sally Yates: Protect the Justice Department From President Trump” [New York Times]. The way for the Justice Department to protect itself would have been to jail some banksters. Too late for that now.

UPDATE “Who Hacked the Election? Ad Tech did. Through “Fake News,” Identify Resolution and Hyper-Personalization” [Medium]. Lots and lots of (literal) connected dots in chart form. Analytically:

scores of highly sophisticated technology providers — mostly US-based companies that specialize in building advanced solutions for audience “identity resolution,” content tailoring and personalization, cross-platform targeting, and A/B message testing and optimization — are running the data show behind the worst of these “fake news” sites. scores of highly sophisticated technology providers — mostly US-based companies that specialize in building advanced solutions for audience “identity resolution,” content tailoring and personalization, cross-platform targeting, and A/B message testing and optimization — are running the data show behind the worst of these “fake news” sites.

You mean [gasp] the whole “Russki fake news” narrative is a distraction from domestic efforts to manipulate the election? With fake news? Say it’s not so!

UPDATE One reaction to McConnell’s health care debacle:

Be careful what you wish for….

Stats Watch

Dallas Fed Mfg Survey, July 2017: “The Dallas Fed rounds out another month of mostly strong regional reports on manufacturing” [Econoday]. “Anecdotal reports on the economy, as they have all year, remain unusually strong and have yet to be matched by equal strength in actual data on the economy.”

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, July 2017: “Chicago’s PMI sample reports a very welcome slowing in what still may be unsustainably strong growth. July’s index slowed nearly 7 points to 58.9 which is still far past breakeven 50 to indicate very strong monthly growth. New orders, which unbelievably were above 70 in June, are now at 60.3 which still indicates that a very strong share of the sample is reporting month-to-month gains” [Econoday]. And: “The results of this survey continue to agree with district Federal Reserve manufacturing surveys – and aligns with the overall trend of the ISM manufacturing survey” [Econintersect].

Pending Home Sales, June 2017: “After three straight declines, the pending home sales index posts a gain and a strong one” [Econoday].

Pending sales have fallen for 3 months in a row, correctly telegraphing what has been a soft patch for existing home sales.” But: “The rolling averages are in negative territory and did not change month-over-month. The data is very noisy and must be averaged to make sense of the situation. There is no signs of a surge in home sales, and the downward trends remain in play” [Econintersect]. Also: “This was above expectations of a 0.9% increase for this index. Note: Contract signings usually lead sales by about 45 to 60 days, so this would usually be for closed sales in July and August” [Calculated Risk].

Employment Situation: “Historically, when employment growth drops to current levels the party’s over?” [Mosler Economics].

GDP: “GDP Growth Seems to be Normalizing” [Econintersect]. “Concurrent with this report the BEA revised all of their data back through 2014… Although in general the revisions tended to smooth the growth data between adjacent quarters, it is notable that late 2015 and the most recent prior two quarters were revised downward… [R]eal per-capita annual disposable income dropped materially (by $74 per annum). At the same time the household savings rate was reported to have dropped by -0.1% from a sharp downward revision (-1.2%) to the prior quarter. It is important to keep this line item in perspective: real per-capita annual disposable income is up only +7.11% in aggregate since the second quarter of 2008 — a meager annualized +0.77% growth rate over the past 36 quarters.” And you can bet the pain isn’t evenly distributed, either. Thanks, Obama!

Shipping: “The increasing concentration of market share among an emerging ‘oligopoly’ of major container shipping groups and alliances is already reducing service standards for customers and could drive up freight rates further, according to shipper representatives” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. Fabien Bequelin, Maritime policy Manager at European Shippers’ Council:

Bequelin was responding to recent reports highlighting the growing power of lines within the container shipping industry, which is due to return to profitability this year on the back of an “unprecedented” 16% estimated increase in average global freight rates, according to Drewry. However, the analyst said pricing was now being supported by oligopolistic behaviour due to recent industry consolidation which has seen the number of global shipping lines fall from 20 to 11 in just two years.

“First are the operational concerns,” Bequelin said. “It becomes more and more complicated to organise transport operations with fewer and fewer partners − some are not taking dangerous goods or not serving a precise port, for example.

“Then it is a concern in terms of the mindset of carriers. Unfortunately, carriers these days are not in a partnership mood with their customers. They are living in their bubble where they take decisions for their own interest without considering customers, the interest of the goods, or even any other stakeholders in the chain, which is a big problem.”

“When looking at North Europe to Asia and back, we can say that there is no competition − or very little − in the market with so few alliances. The problem is that there is no competition outside the market that could drive the carriers to be customer-minded.

“There is no real alternative in term of capacity available or in terms of price competitiveness. So shippers are forced to use one of the three players in the market.

“Furthermore, if you look into the detail, the market is even worse because many port-to-port pairs are only served by one alliance, so in many cases you don’t have any choice.”

Sounds like the airline industry….

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on inflation. “Slow economic growth is putting downward pressure on prices” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 72 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 31 at 12:28pm.


“Court rules Flint residents can sue city, but not Snyder over lead water” [mLive]. “While residents impacted by the water crisis can sue specific state employees and the city of Flint, Snyder and individual state agencies are protected. Judge Jane Stranch, who wrote the opinion, said the 11th Amendment gives the state immunity against damages sought by private citizens.”

Class Warfare

“Philly is about to get the ‘Uber of restaurant staffing’: Introducing Jobletics” [Billy Penn]. ” platform offers an on-demand labor force, connecting hospitality companies in need of workers with people in need of work. When restaurants could use an extra hand — whether it’s because a regular employee took an unexpected sick day or a big catering job is coming up — they post on the service, which then matches them with a person ready to fill in where needed, either front or back of the house…. “There’s a high amount of turnover in our industry,” [Peter Hwang, proprietor of Rittenhouse Korean gastropub Southgate] said. “Anywhere we could get competent people at quick notice is probably a good resource. Line cooks are tough [positions to keep filled], so are dishwashers. Even things like hostesses — there’s a lot of turnover.” “Things”….

“The world’s ultra-high net worth population — individuals with $30 million or more in assets — grew by 3.5% to 226,450 individuals in 2016 after a sharp fall a year earlier, according to recent data by global wealth consultancy Wealth-X. Their combined wealth also increased in 2016 by 1.5% to $27 trillion. There were sharp regional fluctuations in dollar-denominated wealth creation last year, with North America (up 5.1%) recording the only significant rise in wealth, followed by Asia (up 3.5%)” [MarketWatch]. “While the number of people with $30 million or more increased last year, billionaires didn’t fare so well. Their net worth fell for the first time since the Great Recession, Wealth-X reported. The number of the world’s billionaires fell by 3% last year to 2,397. Some 283 people — 10% of total billionaires — lost their billionaire status in 2016, and 207 new billionaires emerged to join the club. Their wealth fell by nearly 4% to $7.4 trillion in wealth last year after rising 5% to $7.7 trillion the previous year…. The biggest concern for the world’s superrich was “succession and inheritance issues” (67%), another survey by global real estate consultants Knight Frank found.” Hmm. One might ask what a focus on concentration and monopoly power would do about this, if anything, and if anything needs to be done…

“When Jimmy Hoffa Vanished, He Took Union Strength With Him” [JSTOR]. Don’t be naive, Kay…

Our Famously Free Press

“Is The New York Times vs. The Washington Post vs. Trump the Last Great Newspaper War?” [Vanity Fair]. Betteridge’s Law applies. The deck: “Breaking story after story, two great American newspapers, The New York Times and The Washington Post, are resurgent, with record readerships.” No. Russia War Fever and Putin Derangement Syndrome are source driven; in other words, we’re looking at a particularly debased form of access journalism. Very little “reporting” is going on at all. That said, you can see the economic benefit a well-placed source, or a cabal of sources, can convey. Ka-ching. This sounds like James Risen’s beat. Maybe he can write a tell-all, now that the Times management has defenestated him.

News of the Wired

“A Look into NASA’s Coding Philosophy” [Student Voices]. Very interesting, and sheds a whole new light on “government work.” Suffice to say that “fail fast” isn’t an appropriate management or programming philosophy for, say, launch control system software….

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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! 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. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (gee):

This looks like the sort of photo one would take on one’s daily walk….

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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. Michael

    Missed this Friday but just desserts!

    ///Sen. Paul is seeking two amendments, one which ends NDAA authorization for indefinite detention of suspects, and another related to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), something that was added to the House version but later quietly removed by the Speaker.

    Paul’s protest is expected to delay the NDAA vote through at least the August recess, meaning a vote is unlikely until September. While this gives plenty of time for amendments to be debated, it’s not clear the Senate leadership will allow that no matter how much time they’re given.

    Indeed, Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) was critical of any delay on any grounds, insisting the bill and its huge spending increase are a “solemn obligation” for the Senate to pass without delay.

    “It is unfortunate that one senator chose to block consideration of a bill our nation needs right now,” McCain said in a statement.///

    1. Judith

      My dad was a Teamster under Jimmy Hoffa senior. I think when Hoffa vanished he might have taken my dad’s pension with him.

    2. Cat Burglar

      My Dad was a lawyer for one of the largest trucking companies in the western US, Pacific Intermountain Express (or, as it was called, P.I.E.) from the late 50s until the late 60s. He often had to fight the Teamsters in court or before the NLRB, During strikes he had to make sure he wasn’t in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though he was an Eisenhower republican, he also thought unions were the only reason we had a middle-class in this country, and anyone who didn’t join a union when they had a chance was some kind of fool.

      His view of Kennedy’s takedown of Hoffa was pretty cut-and-dried: “Hoffa could shut down every truck in the country if he wanted to. They couldn’t allow one person the power to shut down the entire economy — that’s why Kennedy took him down.” Pure power calculus.

  2. NotTimothyGeithner

    About Congressman Jim Cooper’s new found religion, fear of losing helps change minds. The next step is to demand advocates of Single-Payer refuse to support their colleagues who don’t sign on.

    Conyers after all didn’t support Single-Payer from 2007 through 2016 despite supporting it for so long.

    1. Art Eclectic

      My guess is that lots of very well-paid consultants told the D’s that Single-Payer was a big a loser as gun control with mainstream voters. They’ll slowly start testing the waters now to see if the consultants were right.

      In related news, I see the conservative blogs are starting up articles about how HORRIBLE health care in those other (socialized) places is. That’s a sign that the movement is picking up steam and they’re starting to get nervous that OMG everyone might get health care. What a tragedy that would be /snark.

      1. John k

        It would cost ins and pharma billions… some ins cos might go under… hard to imagine a scenario more tragic than that.
        Maybe better donate to the pols a little more…

  3. Ranger Rick

    Ah, the WTO. Everyone’s favorite unelected and unaccountable world body responsible for all kinds of laws nobody likes.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, but it’s interesting that when you peel back NAFTA and TPP (and TiSA) that’s what you get to, and now WTO is moving into the crosshairs.

      1. Tim

        So how is what we’ve got with the WTO less bad than the intl arbitration provisions of the new trade deals, which you’ve been so negative on?

      2. David

        My understanding is that NAFTA, TPP, and the like came into being because the WTO couldn’t get the Doha issues resolved in a way favourable to the developed world. The US, EU, and Japan took their marbles and went off to write their own rules, where they get to win and the developing nations get to lose. Hence, the WTO is “unfair”, just like the UN.

          1. David

            Ms. Smith at the NY Times wrote this:

            The premise of these provisions in Nafta and similar treaties was that some of the signatory nations had legal systems that might authorize the expropriation of assets, like factories, so foreign investors need recourse to safe venues to obtain compensation…

            These investor provisions restrict the rights of governments to regulate these investors and their investments. For instance, investors can sue by arguing that if a government changes policies, regulations, or modifies the terms of a contract, such that the investor has suffered a loss of potential profits…

            The result has been to give foreign investors greater rights than those of home country citizens and businesses.

            Getting supranational rights for US corporations would be considered a win, no?

            1. different clue

              It would be considered a win for those “US” corporations, yes.

              It would be considered a win for the US, no.

              Just as, from a Mexican eye view, NAFTA would be considered a win for Carlos “Slim” Helu, yes.
              But it would be considered a win for Mexico, NO!

    1. Michael

      “White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci has offered his resignation, ABC News has learned. “

        1. edmondo

          With a mouth like that, he ought to run for governor of New jersey. He’d still be an improvement over Christie.

        2. beth

          Trump keeps hiring men who are just like he is, and he continues to fire them. Do you think he will figure out the problem soon?

        3. Propertius

          I’m really disappointed. I think the Mooch had the potential to be the most scandalously amusing public servant since Marc Antony (or maybe even Alcibiades).

        4. bob

          The one thing that liberals and Trump’s base seem to agree on-

          Bad language will not be tolerated.

    2. Bob

      NYT does as well. Is there a record for the shortest cabinet appointment in history? The Mooch may have the new record.

      1. Bullwinkle

        I fairly certain that the communications director post that he held isn’t cabinet level.

      2. Tertium Squid

        His is indeed. Second place goes to Jack Koelher who resigned after eleven days when it was revealed that he’d been in the Hitler Youth.

    3. Byron the Light Bulb

      Miss the birth of your son. Torpedo your marriage… Mooch-ical realism is defined as what happens when a highly detailed, realistic setting is invaded by something too strange to believe. There is a reason Mooch-ical realism was born in the District of Colombia.

    4. Clive

      Well, that should keep CNN suitably agog and safety incapacitated for at least another week or so.

    5. Arizona Slim

      Not only did he resign, he broke Jerry Ter Horst’s record for brevity in the position.

      Recall that Ter Horst was President Ford’s first press secretary. He resigned once he found out that Ford would pardon Nixon. Ter Horst’s length of service: August 9-September 9, 1974.

    6. ewmayer

      Inquiring minds want to know: Does the “Moochy, Moochy Man” get to keep the government pension and healthcare benefits accrued as a result of his invaluable service to the nation?

  4. NotTimothyGeithner

    Concerning Moulton, did the Democrats actually internalize the Bernie Bro narrative and come to the conclusion kicking women and the poors will help them do better than Hillary?

    “Fiscally conservative, socially liberal” is a known code word for a libertarian desperate to be liked.

    1. Altandmain

      I think that they believe their own propaganda..

      They don’t think long term. They didn’t consider the fact that they needed the support of Sanders voters if Clinton was to defeat Trump. Either that or they felt that they could get by on independents.

      It really doesn’t matter to them – they just want to do what their donors tell them to do so that they can retire rich.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        As soon as you realize that the Democrat Party exists to support officials and consultants + strategists (with a base of 10%-ers), everything falls into place. Delivering concrete material benefits to them is high on the list of priorities…

    2. PKMKII

      did the Democrats actually internalize the Bernie Bro narrative and come to the conclusion kicking women and the poors will help them do better than Hillary?

      A bit that, a bit of the old Democratic play where when they get beat by a Republican, in this case Trump, they adopt a “be a lite version of said Republican” strategy.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Not trying to assign homework, but I wish you would read the piece Lambert linked to last week (in Links) from the blog ShadowProof. They have a Medicare for All proposal that is different from HR 676 and they go into detail re how their proposal is designed to minimize resistance from as many quarters as possible.

      You responded (ty) last week to my request for more info on the history of health care (I only recently discovered there was no for-profit insurance until 1973 and HMOs so realized there’s lots I don’t know). But your links didn’t work.

      Have hooked up with a local group advocating for NIMA but am not willing to dismiss out of hand that for example Bernie is likely to do the incremental thing. I know that makes him a sell out to some among the commentariat but I confess I know a lot less about politics and which compromises are the right ones to make than he does.

      Really looking for a good history of health care in this country. And would much appreciate your assessment of the ShadowProof proposal.

      1. tooearly

        This: ” I know that makes him a sell out to some among the commentariat but I confess I know a lot less about politics and which compromises are the right ones to make than he does.”

      2. JTFaraday

        Personally, I thought that article was interesting with respect to the role of employers. I also think it’s interesting that Trump continues to insist on dealing with healthcare when Wall Street has been banging the drums for its no strings attached corporate tax cuts.

  5. Oregoncharles

    ” “Historically, when employment growth drops to current levels the party’s over?” ”
    That chart – isn’t that the law of diminishing returns at work? The peaks, especially, show a relentless decline.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I also see two false positives before the Crash, and everything flatlined after.

      So it’s possible we could just drag along the bottom for a very long time. (There’s also the assumption behind the very concept of “Unemployment” that the labor market is constant. Clearly, it’s not. So what effect does the increasing proportion of the precariat, as well as System D stuff a la Detroit, have on that curve? I don’t know anybody who’s asking that question and I have no idea what the answer is, either.

      1. Foppe

        A lot depends on the kind of infrastructure deal Trump is going to go for, which may become a priority now that the ACA is out of the way? Not that it’s likely to be anything other than a cookie jar for favored companies, or that the GOP is likely to let go of its idiotic balanced budgeting req.

        1. Art Eclectic

          If I had to hazard a guess based on the past 6 months, the infrastructure plan is DOA. Hardliners won’t sign on to the expense and the way around it is to privatize all the projects, which the press will have a field day with when details are leaked (and leaked they shall be, because they will be egregious on an epic scale never before seen). Teflon Donnie may meet his match on the infrastructure proving grounds and finally realize that Republicans have zero interest in creating jobs.

        2. Synoia

          A lot depends on the kind of infrastructure deal Trump is going to go for, which may become a priority now that the ACA is out of the way?

          Expect nothing concrete.

  6. Livius Drusus

    Socially progressive/fiscally moderate is probably the worst combination for the Democrats to put up unless they are trying to win in affluent districts where I think you could give them a pass for that sort of combination.

    There really aren’t that many socially progressive/fiscally moderate people out there but they do tend to be wealthier so I guess that is why the Democrats want to go for them, because they can give more donations than poor people who are often socially moderate or conservative and economically progressive.

    For a breakdown of the electorate by broad ideology see: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/new-study-shows-what-really-happened-in-the-2016-election.html

    If the Democrats had any clue what they were doing they would go after these “populist” voters who combine liberal economics with more moderate or conservative positions on cultural issues. These people are often swing voters and make up a lot of the Obama to Trump voters who won Trump the election in the Rust Belt. If you can reach them you might even be competitive in the South again.

    But hey, who wants to win elections when you are more concerned with kissing up to big corporate donors and looking forward to a job in Silicon Valley or on Wall Street when you are inevitably beaten by a Republican who actually knows how to win elections.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’d like to see Ds hit the Rust Belt jobs issue real hard. Hey, Trump did it and look where he is now.

      1. Darius

        Democrats need not throw some of their most loyal constituencies under the bus. The beauty of the jobs issue is that it benefits greatly people of all colors, religions and orientations. If people have jobs, it makes it easier to pursue equal rights for all. Instead, the elites have us all at each other’s throats.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Socially progressive/fiscally moderate

      is a category of unicorn in politics. Budgets are moral documents — they tell the reader exactly where your priorities are.

    3. JTFaraday

      “If the Democrats had any clue what they were doing they would go after these “populist” voters who combine liberal economics with more moderate or conservative positions on cultural issues.”

      No, I don’t think so. I see no compelling reason to pander to the Trumpertantrums. The D-Party should combine liberal economics with liberal positions on social issues. This best positions them for the future as well.

      They should also develop a positive vision for the future so they have something to do with themselves other than criticize other people, which always ends with them kicking down.

  7. Jim A.

    Re: Amtrak. Really it was created on a premise that soon turned out to be false: that here was a great public need for passenger railroads to provide cheaper transportation than airlines. Before the elimination of the CAB and it’s mandatory price-fixing of airline tickets this made some sense. But these days long distance trains simply aren’t competitive with airlines on price, much less on schedule. Instead, taxpayers (and travelers on shorter distance trains) are subsidizing travel as a vacation in it’s own right, rather than as a utility. A pretty reasonable case can be made that this is not the most effective use of funds.

    1. Darius

      Airlines receive huge subsidies. Airport fees don’t begin to cover the huge foregone property taxes from devoting thousands of square miles of condemned land to airports, plus the construction and operation of airports.

      When we’re raiding pension funds to pay for roads, or using sales taxes or repatriated taxes, that’s a subsidy.

      The problem with Amtrak is that there’s no deep-pocket industry behind it. The railroads never made money on passenger service and always saw it as a loss leader. They were only too happy to unload it onto Uncle Sam. The only way to run passenger service profitably is to collect rent on real estate owned by the railroad near the station. But that train has left the station in much of the country. If there was a way for Amtrak to capture some of the value it creates for communities, that might provide a sustainable revenue stream.

      1. different clue

        Also, when was the last time AmTrak beat up a ticketed seated passenger and threw him off the train to give his seat to a “Must Get There Right Now!” crewmember?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The same argument can be made for rural post offices; shut ’em down, and so what if another community goes down the tubes.

      What’s wrong with a smidgeon of subsidy for small towns in the flyover states, when others get so much more?

      (To put this in the form of a question: In a polity with an elite as corrupt as our own, are ideas like “competition” and “utility” as meaningful as they once were?)

      1. bob

        I watch a small, rural airport closely.

        “What’s wrong with a smidgeon of subsidy for small towns in the flyover states, when others get so much more?”

        That’s the line they use to kick to costs to the town. The feds will pay to make your runway longer(for private jets). They won’t pay for the maintenance and upkeep.

        They also use the “commercial service” line. “we need the huge runways for commercial service” The only route in and out of the airport is on a 2 engine Cessna that only needs 25% of the runway.

        What the other 75% for? Private jets.

        Why is the town spending so much money on the airport, when the feds are also spending lots there?

        Small airports are the gateway to plantation life, if you have your own jet. To have the privilege to serve these lords, you must have a very, very large expensive carpet rolled out front.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Small airports are the gateway to plantation life

          Ding. We had exactly the same thing six miles up the road; the same (Democrat) cabal that gave us the landfill also built themselves a municipal airport (with Bangor’s airport, formerly Dow Air Force Base, hence ginormous, twenty miles down the road). Good for the local contractors, though.

          I don’t think the same argument applies with Amtrak, though.

      2. Allegorio

        This is what happens when the great god Profit determines all instead of need. FDR once boasted that he saved the profit motive, much to everyone’s regret.

    3. Huey Long

      One of the issues plaguing long distance train travel in the US is that passenger trains play second fiddle to freight trains because Amtrak doesn’t own the tracks. This means Amtrak trains often have to wait for freight trains which causes delays and screws with scheduling.

      This doesn’t affect the Acela corridor because Penn Central sold it to the Feds before they were integrated into conrail. Conrail stopped running freight over that line, aside from local switching jobs, back in 1980.

      Aside from nationalizing the US rail network, which I think would be a huge benefit if the NC team ran the country (as opposed to our current criminal politicians), I don’t know if there’s an easy fix for this.

      1. JCC

        Not only does Amtrak have to rent rail time and also bow to freight scheduling, they also have to carry at-fault insurance for any train mishaps while on these freight-owned rails no matter who is at fault. That also adds a very large expense.

        Personally I always take Amtrak for domestic travel whenever time is not a consideration and the destination is more than a day away. Anything less than a day, I drive since the nearest train station is 4 hours away.

        I know it’s inefficient to travel by car alone, but unless someone else is paying – usually the employer – or it is not an emergency, it’s either the car or Amtrak for me, particularly when vacationing. I’ve learned to passionately despise air travel in modern America.

        As a friend of mine often says, when it comes to traveling, trains are civilized.

        1. Code Name D

          And add to that the rail lines often lack safty features which have become standered in other contries. Hell, trains still use air-brakes when the rest of the world has long sense gone to electric. With such poor rail, pasinger trains have to go even slower for needed safty margins.

          And then there are the small air ports. They are everywhere in Kansas. Some large towns used to have regular air-line service using smaler planes (DC-10 was used for a long time.) Today, if you can’t fill a 272 for three flights a day, don’t bother.

          Regulations have been writen in such a way to make it prohibitive for smaller airlines to take over abandoned routs. Seems that the big airlines don’t like competiton.

      2. different clue

        It wouldn’t be an easy fix, but . . . since the Interstate Highways are already publicly owned and Federally managed, why not build passenger-specific/passenger-only railroads going both ways up and down the Superhighway Medians? They could have connecting spurs into cities and major towns. They could also have connecting spurs to every major airport.

        We could call it FedRail. Or we could even just call it AmTrak.

      3. Oregoncharles

        It would make sense for the rails themselves to belong to the government, like other roads, and transportation companies would pay to use them. Amtrak, also government, would use them free, and public policy would set the priorities.

        This would also make for a huge capital shot in the arm for the railroads, which not long ago needed it badly. And they would then compete on any given route, like airlines and trucking companies. A good use for MMT.

    4. Vatch

      I wonder how much leg room is available to passengers on Amtrak trains compared to airlines?

      1. edmondo

        Just travelled from Tucson to Philadelphia on Amtrak.

        There’s at least twice as much leg room. The price was the same and it only took four days instead of 5 hours by air. Fortunately, was able to “dine” on $9 mystery meat sandwiches and $3.50 Cokes. What’s not to love?

        1. Arizona Slim

          Hey, edmondo, are you from Tucson? Would you be interested in an NC Tucson meetup if we could persuade Lambert, Yves, or Jerri Lynn to come here?

      2. RUKidding

        Quite a bit more. The Capital Corridor Amtrak from Sacramento to SF is annoying bc you have to sit upstairs. That can be a hassle if you have baggage. Otherwise, plenty of legroom and nicer seats than airplane.

        Sort of expensive, but traffic is so horrible around the Bay Area anymore that I do use Amtrak to get to certain places. It also connects with BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit). So, it’s useful.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        1) Legroom and general comfort on planes vs. Amtrak are different orders of magnitude. You can stretch out on the train, even if you’re tall, like me.

        2) If you have a choice in the Northeast between the Northeast Regional trains and the Acela, don’t take the Acela, IMNSHO. The Northeast Corridor is cheaper, isn’t that much slower, and I think the Acela seats are slippery and very uncomfortable. The WiFi is just as good, either way. To me, a Northeast Regional Quiet Car is pretty much the ideal form of transportation…

        1. Arizona Slim

          Ahhhh, the Quiet Car.

          Last time I took Amtrak, I was with my (now deceased) father. Who was mostly deaf and LOUD. As much as I would have liked to sit in the Quiet Car, being with a loudmouthed dad made that impossible.

        2. Octopii

          I actually prefer the Acela, especially if someone else is paying. Primarily for the nice face to face meeting areas, where we pass the time plotting how to extract maximum fees from Manhattan hedgies with more money than sense.

      4. Vatch

        Thanks for all of your replies. I suspected that Amtrak would be much better than the commercial airlines, especially since a judge has had to demand a solution to the problem of shrinking airline seats (today’s links).

        1. Carl

          Think of it as domestic US first class air travel. The reclining seat and legroom are approximately the same. The views on Amtrak tend to be better, though.

      5. Big River Bandido

        Leg room? That’s only the beginning.

        On an Amtrak train you can actually get up, and walk around. Anytime you want.

      6. Oregoncharles

        Plenty, plus you can get up and walk around. The food is terrible, though. My wife’s experience was that a long trip – Oregon to Indiana – was miserable without a sleeping berth, which we couldn’t afford.
        She thought the people with cabins appeared to be having a good time. You get to see the scenery, too.

        Take your own food, especially multi day.

    5. DJG

      Sorry, Jim A., but your case only works for libertarians, who believe that everything is about profits and not paying taxes. Having been in Italy earlier this year, I note that the Italian government has tended to treat trains like a utility–like internet service. You can get to just about any Italian town by train, including / especially small towns in the Alps around Turin and in the Dolomites north of Venice. That’s a commitment made by society (they still have society there, even though Maggie Thatcher abolished society in the Anglo-American world).

      While you may be enjoying Trump’s ability to run the government like a business, I’m going to suggest that a train station is a utility, like internet service (which is crappy in much of the U S of A) and like the Postal Service (because UPS truly doesn’t like delivering in the Sierra Nevada). And in the U.S., intercity bus service is so poor that towns without an airport or a train station are isolated.

      1. Darius

        Transportation in the US as a product of the free market is one of our most cherished and delusional folklores.
        In truth, like everywhere else, transportation in the US is a highly regulated, subsidized and corrupt activity.

      2. JCC

        “And in the U.S., intercity bus service is so poor that towns without an airport or a train station are isolated.”

        I live in one of those towns now, no train, no inter-city bus service and no airport (with commercial service). I think it’s awful and I am one who can afford a safe car and insurance and maintenance. Other than a Walmart and a grocery store and a few national fast food chain outlets, there is nothing closer than a 2 hour drive.

        I could not live here as a low-wage employee and I have a hard time imagining why anyone would even though I am surrounded by such people. Their expectations must be awfully depressing, and the sad thing is that this country is full of towns just like this one. (No wonder Trump won :)

        Public Transportation in this country is, to put it mildly, abysmal.

        1. Synoia

          Yes my daughter lives in Enid, Ok, which meets that description. Walk or Drive. Those are you options.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        In Italy, trains are a completely viable transportation option to all but the smallest towns. Trains are cheap and frequent. Where I live in WA State, there are only two passenger trains a day in each direction and you’ll probably need to book days in advance. You absolutely cannot just go to the station, buy a ticket, and hop on a train. In Italy, you can usually do just that: walk into the station, buy a ticket, and there’ll be a train going in your direction within a half hour. You miss the train? There’ll be another coming by soon. It’s incredibly low-stress compared to here in the US.

    6. a different chris

      >But these days long distance trains simply aren’t competitive with airlines on price, much less on schedule.

      Lots of good answers here, but a big reason is alluded to but not specifically laid out: Those “long distance trains” are apparently heavily used as a bunch of short routes to places no plane goes. It’s weird, but it works best to simply run from say Chicago to Houston and back instead of trying to figure out shorter routes.

      So, and be sure that I’m not accusing you of doing it deliberately! – once again a lower class benefit is not understood as such and, since they have little to no voice, always in danger.

      Thus the schedule is what it is because it has to be, and the price is due to the roads being subsidized 50%, maybe more, and the airlines paying for less than nothing as far as I can tell.

    7. vlade

      airlines dont pay for their externalities either at all, or not much. i’d argue that train are the form of transportatotion that includes most of its externalities in the price

    8. HotFlash

      Way back in the ’80’s I was planning to visit my parents, who then lived in Lafayette, IN. Being an ecologically concerned socialist, and having had good experiences, on the whole, with Canadian railways, I checked out Amtrak first. Schedule. Cost. Layovers. Time in travel. Meals, or, rather, lack of them. Flying was a winner on every count, the clincher for me was no meals and a midnight to 6am layover in Flint, IIRC. So I flew.

      I concluded that Amtrak was either designed to fail, or to segregate poors.

  8. Tim

    Employment Situation: “Historically, when employment growth drops to current levels the party’s over?”

    Judging by that chart, it pertinent to ask, what does it mean if it never gets back above that critical level again?

    No more parties? Does that mean the bourgeois finally feels some pain? I’m just looking for silver linings in a very depressing chart…

    1. skippy

      I think the pertinent observation is even as financial gains have swelled post GFC the aggregate depicted in the graph suggests distribution vectors are highly skewed, and the over all economic consequences wrt demand.

      disheveled…. sooner or later thingy…

  9. LarryB

    “A Better Deal” is the best the Democrats could come up with? That’s pathetic. Regardless of its actual content, all “A Better Deal” does for me is remind of the extent to which the New Deal has been eviscerated. And that’s before even considering the pap that it’s standing for.

    1. Altandmain

      We posted within minutes of each other – but yeah, that did not work out at all.

      1. sleepy

        Maybe Trump will fire Sessions and name Scaramucci as a recess appointment for AG. Would love to see the talking heads go berserk, and no one could be worse than Sessions.

        I feel like I’m critiquing a Survivors episode.

    2. Tertium Squid

      If you count Spicer’s current one-day incumbency, the average tenure for Communications Director under Trump is 39 days. Scaramucci now holds the record for the shortest tenure of all time; second place is Jack Koelher who resigned after eleven days when it was revealed that he’d been in the Hitler Youth.

      So Mooch lasted almost as long as a documented Nazi.

      It’s an amazing time to be alive.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Anybody want to start a Trump Administration betting pool? Where we’d predict how long various people would last before they resigned or were fired?

    3. Tom_Doak

      But he still gets the exemption from paying taxes on selling his business, right? Because that’s why he was so anxious to serve.

    4. ChrisPacific

      Well, he did say he was going to crack down on people having inappropriate conversations with the media. Nice to know he doesn’t play favorites.

  10. Altandmain

    Boy that didn’t last: Anthony Scaramucci is gone

    Bernie Sanders is trying to get lower drug prices

    Generation Y Wages

    Another one for class warfare.

    Foxconn gets a $3 billion subsidy for its US plant

    Bill Moyers on the emptiness of the Democrats’ Better Deal

          1. Huey Long

            I dunno Lambert, that may require another billion in subsidies to the suicide net manufacturers…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s done all the time by big cities to attract professional sports teams.

        Big cities, incidentally, that are more likely to be run by Democrats…not that when the Republicans take over, they wouldn’t do that same sweet deals.

      2. allan

        But wait, there’s more:

        Environmentalists rip proposed Foxconn permit rollbacks [AP]

        Wisconsin conservationists warned Monday that Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to exempt a massive Foxconn electronic plant from key environmental regulations would leave the public in the dark about the plant’s impact, jeopardize wetlands and set an alarming precedent. …

        The measure also would exempt Foxconn from obtaining state permits for a wide range of activities, including filling wetlands, building on lake or river beds, changing the course of streams, building artificial water bodies that connect to existing waterways and modifying shorelines. …

        No problem. Their environmental record in China is spotless, amirite?

  11. allan

    Zac Petkanas, a former senior strategist for the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton.

    Sort of the equivalent of being the former captain’s valet on the Exxon Valdez.
    Just the sort of person you would want your campaign contributions being extorted channeled to
    by the DCCC. That’s a nice campaign you have; it would be a shame if anything happened to it.

  12. allan

    Tesla workers ask for employee safety plan, clarity on pay [Reuters]

    A group of Tesla Inc workers on Monday asked the electric car maker’s board to provide a plan to address employee safety and information on pay and promotion.

    The worker group, part of the United Automobile Workers union, said Tesla had a safety record worse than that of “sawmills and slaughter houses”.

    “We’re tired of suffering preventable injury after preventable injury,” Michael Catura, a Tesla production associate, said in a statement. (bit.ly/2wex8bF)

    The group also asked for clarity around Tesla’s compensation practices.

    Starting pay at Tesla’s Fremont, California auto factory was $18 per hour, far below the national average for auto workers, the worker group said.

    Tesla was not immediately available for comment. …

    Safety, schmafety – there’s an AI apocalypse to stop, and Elon’s on the case.

  13. diptherio

    A young socialist has put together this in-depth platform for a “socialist transition.” Stuff about Municipalism and Co-ops and MMT. Here’s the (literal) outline:

    1) Municipalism: A Strategy for Political Education and Building Political Power

    2) Workplace Democracy: A Strategy for Resolving the Impending Jobs Crisis

    3) Revitalizing Organized Labor: A Concrete Plan for Building Union Democracy

    4) Towards a Democratic Socialist Economy for All: the Socialist Self-Managed Job Guarantee


  14. citizendave

    Regarding Amtrak, and public transportation in general, there is a good resource in the form of a collection of essays written by conservative icon Paul Weyrich, and William S. Lind, “Moving Minds: Conservatives and Public Transportation”. The book is out of print, but the essays are available from what was until recently known as the Free Congress Foundation (now called American Opportunity).

    Paul Weyrich was one of the founders of the Heritage Foundation, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). He also founded the Free Congress Foundation. The conservative authors discovered they both loved trains, especially street cars, and decided to defend public transportation from a conservative viewpoint. They collect all of the well-known conservative arguments against public transportation, then argue persuasively against them, using conservative principles and logic.

    Despite his status as a conservative god, Weyrich’s views on public transportation were not well-received by conservative leaders. I believe he was booed off the stage during one convention speech.

    The articles can be found archived: https://web.archive.org/web/20100820103211/http://www.freecongress.org/project/center-for-transportation/ . The newly named web site is americanopportunity dot org, and there is a link to the archive. It might be a good idea to download the articles if you find any worth in them. “Moving Minds” can be found occasionally at used booksellers. I saw it on Amazon for almost $1000 a few years ago. I think some people would prefer that all traces of these essays should disappear.

    1. Huey Long

      I think some people would prefer that all traces of these essays should disappear.

      Thank you for the link to the Paul Weyrich transit essays! I also like your astute observation regarding conservatives and trolleys; I’ve met quite a few conservatives who think they’re the cat’s (family blog).

      1. Jess

        I wondered about the sourcing and the publishing source as well, but these days nothing seems too unlikely. If Holder can keep his office at Covington and Burling, why not have Debbie’s brother handle her investigation.

  15. skippy

    Does that tree have Peyronie’s disease – ???? – next thing you know on a later walk it will be sporting a vacuum tube….

    disheveled…. btw this is not an Italian beer… condition…

  16. Tim

    real per-capita annual disposable income is up only +7.11% in aggregate since the second quarter of 2008 — a meager annualized +0.77% growth rate over the past 36 quarters.” And you can bet the pain isn’t evenly distributed, either. Thanks, Obama!

    Yeah you can bet the median annualized growth rate for households is negative, and when you include inflation it means purchasing power on the disposable income is way negative.

  17. kurtismayfield

    “Philly is about to get the ‘Uber of restaurant staffing’: Introducing Jobletics”

    There is nothing gig about this.. it is a restaurant temp agency. The company gets a payed rate from the restaurant owner, and the employees get a payed rate as well. If it was a true surge price model that passed along the rate to the employees I would find it interesting.. but it is really just a +app business.

  18. Steely Glint

    RE: Needle sticks: not following protocol, but didn’t get to read about it until Saturday. Thomas Shaw invented a retractable syringe. Due to Group Procurement Organizations, he was unable to get it into hospital markets.
    The article is not only about him, but also others who’s inventions ran into the same problem. Medical GPO’s are to blame, and as you will read, they received a safe harbor from Medicare, but like safe harbors for stock buy-backs, nobody enforced the safe harbor rules. Started in the early 20th century, they were formed to save patients, and hospitals money. Then they were taken over by capitalists. They have become another middle-man which, at times double the cost of medical supplies, stifle competition, and cause drug shortages.
    If you would like to know where they are now, the senate HELP committee, is now holding another hearing on them, after they got slapped on the wrist once.

  19. allan

    Bannon’s Proposed Tax Increase Isn’t on the Table, Another Trump Aide Says [Bloomberg]

    A top income-tax rate of 44 percent for Americans earning more than $5 million per year isn’t under consideration, a White House official said Monday, knocking down a proposal said to be backed by top Trump adviser Steve Bannon.

    “I don’t think that that’s on the table right now, to be honest with you,” White House director of legislative affairs Marc Short said on Fox News. “We don’t believe that raising taxes is the way to encourage growth.” …

    One on the record source trumps three anonymous sources
    (which the original report was based on). Easy come, easy go.

    1. a different chris

      Why is our media so slow witted? This wasn’t about raising taxes, just rebalancing them. Further on in the article, my italics:

      >Bannon backs that increased rate, a person familiar with the White House chief strategist’s thinking said last week, as a way to pay for middle-class tax cuts.

      The questioner should have jumped on that. Comically enough, the Koch’s et al seem to support this because they won’t pay no matter what. I think their target is the coastal professionals.

  20. Huey Long

    Hackensack’s barbecue diplomat is ready to broker peace with N. Korea

    Egan, who grew up in Fairfield and initially followed his father into the roofing repair business before opening Cubby’s 37 years ago, smiled as he looked around the restaurant. Then he lifted his shirt to reveal a 9mm Glock pistol in a leather holster.

    “I ran the most successful covert operation with an enemy state in our country,” he said.

    He rose and walked to the row of photographs.

    “This one is really interesting,” Egan said, pointing to a photo of him appearing to brush the shoulder of one of several North Koreans.

    “See how I’m reaching for something on that man’s shoulder,” Egan said. “Well, I’m taking a hair sample for DNA. I gave that sample to the CIA.”

    Moments later, he added: “I was an operative and an asset.”

    This is the sort of story you hear often from Egan — stories that seem more suited to a spy novel or a James Bond film. You listen and you wonder: Is this guy for real?


    Who knew the proprietor of the local BBQ establishment of my youth was moonlighting for the CIA and negotiating with the North Koreans and Vietnamese?

    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my friends was a CIA data analyst. And a rug collector. That was her cover as she went to various countries that, ahem, weren’t exactly on the go-to destinations list for most Americans.

  21. clarky90

    The amassed horde that confront President Donald Trump

    “The New York Times vs. The Washington Post vs. Trump……”

    “The House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed a bill giving Congress the power to block any effort by the White House to weaken sanctions on Russia, offering a direct challenge to President Donald Trump’s authority.

    The vote was 419-3″


    When ever I have seen voting results like “419 for-3 against”, I think of Stalin, Idi Amin, Hitler….. It is only possible to have this sort of unanimity in violent totalitarian regimes.


    Somebody please explain to me how WW3 is going to work out well for anybody on This Earth? How will the USA Elite profit? Are they imagining that the nukes are aimed at Detroit/Chicago/Wheeling but not at Washington/LA/NY?

    I have seen the grown-up spoiled children of the rich or of the famous who are convinced that they are invulnerable. ie, no matter how bad their behavior; charges are dropped, victims are paid off, luxury rehabs booked…..

    Now the 1% are stamping their collective little feet at Russia, and expecting that Russia will cower. Their plan? (1) Scurry to private jets and helicopters. (2) Encamp in fall out shelters. (3) Then, unleash Armageddon. (4) Reap the Whirlwind! They now control the World. Brilliant plan

    Thelma (The republican elite) and Louise (The Democrat Elite) drive the World off a cliff; convinced that gravity does not apply to them.

    1. sierra7

      Deep in the bowels of the US “Deep State” the ideological hatred of Russia (Bolshevism, whatever socialist, communist) burns alive and well. There is no thought on how the elites would profit; it is only thinking of destroying for all time (impossible) any thoughts along the lines of the results of the Russian Revolution or “communes” or whatever does not fall into their proper political thinking. Their hatred is generations deep and violently deep and want no quarter given.

  22. Richard

    You could have added the Vanity Fair piece, about our two lions of the free press, WaPo and NYT, to “Just Kill Me Now” and I wouldn’t have complained.
    I’ve never heard the phrase “access journalism” before, but I like it. Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but the distinction being between publically available facts and evidence that open a debate to include all citizens, and “talk about my secret source”?

  23. ewmayer

    o “Dallas Fed Mfg Survey, July 2017: “The Dallas Fed rounds out another month of mostly strong regional reports on manufacturing” [Econoday]. “Anecdotal reports on the economy, as they have all year, remain unusually strong and have yet to be matched by equal strength in actual data on the economy.” — In other words, high time for the Real Economy™ to stop lollygagging, get with the program and start matching the Fed propaganda.

    o “Pending sales have fallen for 3 months in a row, correctly telegraphing what has been a soft patch for existing home sales.” — Is that really a “soft patch” or more a case of “headwinds”? We need to get our bullshit polite MSFM euhpemisms for “suck” straight here. Which is funny – our dear propagandists never have any trouble telling us how great things are whenever there is the least iota of cherry-pickable positive-spinnable noise among the data. But straight-up persistent mediocrity and suckiness, for that they invariable roll out the Heavy Euphemisms and Polite Metaphors. And speaking of econ-related bullshitting…

    o “GDP: “GDP Growth Seems to be Normalizing [Econintersect]” — Dear Econintersect, what the fvck does “seems to be normalizing” even mean? And would that mean ‘normalizing’ toward zero, or even toward some negative-in-real-terms asymptote? Perhaps if you could simply better-quantitate the magnitudinality of that normalization … yes, I know Math is Hard.

  24. Darius

    Would be great to see a black DSA. Get people engaged. Unity is for suckers. We need a good old fashioned political war.

  25. WheresOurTeddy

    Re: “‘Uber of restaurant staffing’: Introducing Jobletics” [Billy Penn] –

    Good rule: whenever you read about how hard it is to find workers, just add “because of what we are willing to pay the workers” at the end at it becomes a true statement.

    There’s a high amount of turnover in our industry {because what we are willing to pay the workers}”,” [Peter Hwang, proprietor of Rittenhouse Korean gastropub Southgate] said. “Anywhere we could get competent people at quick notice is probably a good resource {because what we are willing to pay the workers}. Line cooks are tough [positions to keep filled], so are dishwashers {because what we are willing to pay the workers}. Even things like hostesses — there’s a lot of turnover {because what we are willing to pay the workers}.”

  26. allan

    I love the smell of gut bacteria in the morning. It smells like, like … Bezzle:

    Viome wellness startup raises $15 million [Seattle Times]

    Viome, a wellness technology startup founded by serial entrepreneur Naveen Jain, has reeled in $15 million in venture-capital funding, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    Viome, based in Bellevue, earlier this year indicated its aim to eliminate diseases, with a news release bearing the tagline “imagine a world where illness is optional.”

    The company is not there yet. Today, Viome provides “diet and lifestyle advice” based on an analysis of microbes in the digestive system and elsewhere in the body. The service, which asks buyers to submit blood, saliva, stool and other samples for analysis, costs $59 a month, or $599 a year. …

    You heard the man. Illness is optional. If you’re sick, it’s your fault.

    Surely this is a rock solid investment. Oh, wait,

    Viome is the latest company led by Jain, best known for founding InfoSpace, a dot-com-era startup that he once said would become the world’s first trillion-dollar company.

    Instead, InfoSpace’s stock market valuation crashed with the dot-com bust, and a Seattle Times investigation found that Jain, ousted by the board in 2002, had worked with other executives to boost InfoSpace’s stock price with controversial investments and misleading public statements. Jain has denied those claims. …

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