2:00PM Water Cooler 7/7/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Brussels registers ‘Stop TTIP’ citizen initiative” [EU Business (MT)]. “-A European Citizens’ Initiative to stop the EU negotiating mandate for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the CETA trade deal with Canada was accepted Wednesday by the EU Commission. The Commission’s initial refusal to register the ‘Stop TTIP’ Initiative in September 2014 was annulled by the General Court of the European Union in May this year. The Commission then decided not to appeal the judgement…. The initiative now needs to receive one million statements of support within one year, from at least seven different Member States, to force the Commission to react within three months. The Commission can decide either to follow the request or not, and in both instances would be required to explain its reasoning.”

“The Department of Defense is tapping the brakes on any potential effort by President Donald Trump to hit steel imports with tariffs of up to 25 percent. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis this week directed the department’s Defense Logistics Agency to undertake a 60-day review of steel use in U.S. defense applications, industry sources close to the deliberations told Morning Trade” [Politico]. “The review could be an attempt by Mattis to apply some more rigor to a Commerce Department probe examining the national security implications of steel imports. Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security chose to forgo a thorough survey process of U.S. companies as has been done in past Section 232 investigations.”



AFP’s one-time White House correspondent:


“Andrew Cuomo Could Beat Trump … If He Can Win Over the Left First” [Politico]. “The people who can destroy a thing, they control it.’ ― Frank Herbert. Will the liberals ever get their heads round this?

“Less than eight months later, California’s very junior senator [Kamala Harris] has emerged as the latest iteration of a bipartisan archetype: the Great Freshman Hope, a telegenic object of daydreaming projection — justified or not — for a party adrift and removed from executive power” [New York Times]. “‘Do we retreat or do we fight?’ she thundered in Los Angeles that evening. ‘I say we fight.'” “Thundered.” My goodness. Liberal Democrats are always fighting. And never winning. As I keep saying, we need a Grant, not another McClellan.


“This is a tricky point in the election cycle to begin making predictions. On one hand, the danger signs are everywhere for the GOP: President Trump’s approval is mired in the high 30s, and support for the AHCA’s legislation is stuck in the high teens, and Democrats have been significantly over-performing—despite falling short—in a broad array of special elections. They also lead most national generic ballot tests by high single digits. Race by race, the data isn’t much better for Republicans. Taken as a whole, the evidence would seem to point to a wave election that would justify moving a slew of races into the Toss Up column and threaten GOP control of the House” [David Wasserman, Cook Political Report]. “Except, the election isn’t this November; it’s still 16 months away. The fact these warning lights are flashing now means Republicans won’t be caught off guard like many incumbents were in 2006 and 2010—they will have time to raise millions, conduct opposition research and define their opponents early.” With really interesting district-by-district capsule summaries and a map. I love stuff like this; actual districts and actual voters. Not churn like the polls and the horse race touts.

“Dems’ new pitch to voters: A ‘Better Deal'” [Politico]. It’s important to understand that “better” does not mean “actually good.” The very incarnation of cautious incrementalism. But don’t worry:

The rebranding attempt comes as Democrats acknowledge that simply running against President Donald Trump wasn’t a winning strategy in 2016 and probably won’t work in 2018 either. The slogan, which is still being polled in battleground House districts, aims to convince voters that Democrats have more to offer than the GOP and the self-proclaimed deal-maker in the White House.

They’re stilll shoveling money to consultants and Democratic strategists polling and focus-grouping it! I’m sure everything will be fine.

New Cold War

“Trump Misleads on Russian Meddling: Why 17 Intelligence Agencies Don’t Need to Agree” [New York Times]. Chutzpah! The Clintonites made and endlessly repeated “17 intelligence agencies agree” and our famously free press played right along. So now, it’s “Never mind.”

“‘Collusion’ as Farce: The Hunt for Hillary’s Hackers” [American Greatness]. A take-down of the stealing interfering with influencing “meddling with” election 2016 from the right. Fun stuff.

“Uncovering the Russia ties of Hillary’s campaign chief” [New York Post]. Tit for tat….

Realignment and Legitimacy

More fallout from Mark Penn’s horrid Op-Ed in the Times:

“Clinton Strategist Mark Penn Pushes Democrats to Move to Center — And Quietly Profits From GOP Victories” [The Intercept]. “Progressives have long viewed Penn with deep skepticism, noting that he has repeatedly used his close ties to Democratic officials as a vehicle for promoting his corporate clients. But there’s another wrinkle to Penn’s advice: He now invests in Republican advocacy firms — and profits from the electoral defeat of Democrats.” Paid to lose, as we keep saying.

“Mark Penn’s Bad Column Also Makes No Goddamn Sense” [Fusion]. About Penn’s co-author:

Penn’s co-author is Andrew Stein, a former Democratic New York City politician who has not held any elected office since 1994; who was convicted of tax evasion for using laundered money supplied to him by Ponzi schemer Kenneth Starr to fund his extravagant lifestyle; who was married for years to Lynn Forester de Rothschild, of those Rothschilds, a legendary political idiot who fervently supported Hillary Clinton but hated Barack Obama because his proposal to raise the top marginal tax rate was Marxism; who then briefly dated Ann Coulter; and who, finally, endorsed Donald Trump in 2016.

I present Stein’s biography mainly to emphasize how much the decision to publish this op-ed represents contempt for the Times reader. Andrew Stein is not a vital or interesting political voice in the year 2017, and his history—personal, electoral, and criminal—does not suggest someone with any relevant ideas for strengthening the national position of the Democratic Party. He is a has-been in New York and a non-entity nationally.

Good clean fun; the whole article is well worth a read.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, June 2017: “The split between strength in demand for labor and weakness in wages is more acute than ever after the June employment report which shows a significant upgrade to payroll growth but a flat line for average hourly earnings” [Econoday]. More: “The labor pool may be shrinking but it’s not, as it’s supposed to according to theory, resulting in stronger wages. Wages are a key driver for inflation and without greater pressure, overall inflation does not look to improve. Still, the strength in both employment and hours make June a strong final chapter for the second quarter.” And: “Overall this was a solid report” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “A better than expected number but as per the chart, the year over year rate of growth continued its downtrend which began about 2.5 years ago when oil capital expenditures collapsed” [Mosler Economics]. “Since GDP growth is the sum of the ‘pieces’ that make up GDP, if any piece contributes less to growth than it did last year, another must contribute more or the growth of GDP will be lower. So far this year we’ve seen a slowing of growth vs last year in vehicle sales, home sales, consumer spending, etc. as well as employment growth, all mirrored in the deceleration of bank lending that intensified about 6 months ago.” And: “The household and establishment surveys were in sync this month. The unemployment rate drop was caused by a significant increase in the size of the workforce. This month again is a mixed bag of information depending on what metric one believes is important. Nothing here suggests the economy has changed for the better or worse” [Econintersect]. And: “Concerns about a slowdown ‘premature’ — jobs report reactions” [MarketWatch]. A good wrap-up.

Employment: “While the economy’s expansion has lasted nearly eight years, signs of slack still remain in the economy. The unemployment rate moved down to 4.3% in May 2017, below prominent estimates of the natural rate of unemployment (i.e., the rate that would prevail in an economy making full use of its productive resources). However, several other labor market indicators suggest that some degree of slack remains in the employment market. First, the labor force participation rate has fallen over the past several years somewhat below what demographic changes of an aging population can explain. Second, the percentage of workers who are working at part-time jobs but desire full-time employment is still above what it has historically averaged. And third, the pool of unemployed workers who have been out of work for more than six months remains at levels that are exceptionally high – higher than anything seen since the Great Depression” [Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago]. In other words, (“Second”) you’ve got a part-time job at a warehouse, your brother (“First “) is painting houses under the table with a little dealing on the side, and the doctor put your uncle (“And third”) on opioids for the back pain he got at his part-time job at a warehouse, and things went on from there. Oh, and there’s your debt from the community college. Best economy EVAH!

Retail: “Longtime rivals QVC and the Home Shopping Network are merging as two retailers built around cable television adapt to a world where customer habits and demands are shifting. The home-shopping channels don’t face the same pressures as chains with retail stores, the WSJ’s Suzanne Kapner writes, but they are increasingly competing for consumer dollars with Amazon.com Inc. and seeing their business model shaken” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Fleet owners are cautiously stepping up their investment in new heavy-duty trucks. Orders for new Class 8 trucks resumed growing last month after a late-spring pause” [Wall Street Journal]. “Industry analysts say normal truck ordering cycles have been disrupted over the past two years, as companies first pulled back amid a slowdown in industrial shipping demand and then scaled orders back up at the start of 2017 in anticipation of a surge in the economy. Confidence in areas such as infrastructure investment has faded, but the long lull in buying may have big companies anxious to refresh their fleets and trends in the freight market may be pushing truckers to act.”

Shipping: “Japan’s box lines establish joint operating company” [Lloyd’s Loading]. “The creation of ONE is in keeping with the rising trend of consolidation in the container industry, following on from recent M&A deals involving CMA CGM and APL, Cosco and CSCL, Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd, and Hapag-Lloyd with UASC, Drewry observed. When treating all of these newly merged carriers as single entities – even though in some cases the acquired company has retained its separate brand – Drewry noted just how concentrated the power is becoming at the top of the ladder. ‘As things stand in terms of active and ordered ships, by 2021 when all newbuilds in the system are due to have been delivered, the top five carriers will control a little under 60% of the world’s containership fleet,’ it said. ‘Back in 2005, the same bracket of carriers held around 37%. Come 2021, the top 10 lines will control 80% (55% in 2005) while the three leading carriers in Maersk Line, MSC and CMA CGM, will take about 42% (26% in 2005).'”

Shipping: “Maersk has said it anticipates container shipments to be back to normal by early next week as it gets back on track from last week’s Petya cyber attack. Maersk’s most recent update noted that the giant Danish conglomerate had restored major IT systems, but was still handling a backlog of orders and it is working to bring operations at its ports back to normal” [Splash 247]. “Where we are pleased with the progress we have made to be able to serve customers well on exports, we are very aware that the import experience has not yet been fully brought up to the level it should be,” Maersk said in a statement.” The concentration in the industry makes for fewer and fatter targets. I would love to believe that a bigger firm is harder to attack, but it’s always a mess merging IT systems, and I bet there’s at best no improvement. Readers?

Shipping: “Global spot market freight rates were more than one-third higher in the first-half of 2017, with big increases across most trade lanes providing a “huge correction after a disastrous 2016 for rates”, analysis by Drewry reveals” [Lloyd’s Loading]. “Data from Drewry’s Container Freight Rate Insight database indicates that Drewry’s Global Freight Rate Index was some 36% higher after six months of 2017 versus the same period in 2016, although the container shipping abalyst stressed that last year was ‘an exceptionally poor one for carriers when it came to securing compensatory rates.’ When compared to the first half of 2015, spot rates for 1H17 were still 4% lower, it noted. Analysis shows that despite some seasonal erosion, rates this year overtook monthly averages for both 2015 and 2016 from April onwards. Drewry said the big question was ‘which of the second-half trends will rates for this year follow – the declining path of 2015, the resurgent 2016 direction, or something in between?’ Examining where the recovery has been the strongest, Drewry said the westbound (WB) Asia to Europe corridor had made the ‘most prolific’ recovery among the East-West headhaul markets. Drewry’s Asia-Europe WB Index was up by 61% year-on-year after six months of 2017 and even performed better against the same months in 2015, being higher by around 12%, the analyst noted.” Consistent with a European recovery at last?

Auto: “Why gas-powered cars aren’t going away” [CNN]. “[E]liminating the gas engine altogether will be difficult, if not impossible….The first reason is profitability. The stock of tiny Tesla (TSLA) may be worth more than either General Motors (GM) or Ford (F), but it has yet to report an annual profit. Traditional automakers are making billions of dollars selling millions of gasoline-powered cars each. No one has yet figured out a way to make a profit selling electric-only vehicles.”

Commodities: “Telsa will build the world’s largest lithium ion battery for South Australia under a historic agreement between French renewable energy provider Neoen, the South Australian government, and Elon Musk’s company” [Business Insider]. Just don’t put one in the belly of my plane… More: “The partnership is the result of a bet taken by Tesla’s founder and CEO, Musk, in March, in which he said Tesla could deliver an operational battery-powered energy system to the state that would prevent blackouts within 100 days, or it would be free.”

The Bezzle: “An ‘Uber for garbage’ picks up steam, and $11.7 million in Series A funding” [Tech Crunch]. “Indeed, while companies have sprung up around everything from on-demand family care to shipping, the waste industry — valued at anywhere from $45 billion to $65 billion when accounting for collection services, treatment and disposal — has largely been left untouched by tech founders.” Then again, Uber is garbage, so you see the infinite regress; you’d think the techie funder and founders would… More: “That’s changing. Already, one company, nine-year-old Rubicon Global in Atlanta, has raised more than $145 million from investors — including private equity king Henry Kravis — to steal away market share from incumbents like Waste Management and Republic Services. Now, RTS is aiming to do the same by making it simple for customers to schedule on-demand pick-ups through its phone app. A high-tech garbage service may sound ridiculous to the uninitiated. But it’s no joke to customers like WeWork, Whole Foods and SoulCycle that have signed multi-year contracts in exchange for RTS’s flexible pricing options, along with notifications about when a truck has arrived and reports about exactly where their waste is being sent.” Hmm. “[F]lexible pricing options.” Does that imply that RTS is being subsidized by its backers, like Uber?

Lambert here: I wish there were an Uber for Pie Throwing. Swipe right to your favorite glibertarian squillionaire, pick the appropriate patisserie, select drone or human, click, and voila! Entartasm! There is entirely too little humor these days — our squillionaires are especially deficient in the ability to laugh at themselves — and I believe such an app would meet with wide-spread acceptance.

The Fed: “In its Monetary Policy Report to Congress, the Federal Reserve continued to expect gradual policy normalisation over the medium term, but with the Federal Funds rate remaining below the long-term neutral rate” [Economic Calendar]. “The report stated that valuation pressures have risen further across a range of assets, but financial leverage has not. There had been some upward drift in credit-card and auto-loan delinquencies, but the Fed saw only moderate vulnerabilities to the financial system. There were comments that weak growth in wages may reflect weak productivity growth, although there was a high degree of uncertainty. The commentary on the financial system is potentially important as the tone suggests that there are increased concerns surrounding stability risks and over-high valuations. In this context the Fed will be very wary over maintaining a very loose accommodative policy and will prefer to maintain the process of policy normalisation.”

The Fed: “The [Employment Situation] report will cause consternation at the Federal Reserve, as it showed little acceleration in wage growth…. Without rising worker pay [ there’s little reason to expect the Fed will aggressively raise interest rates to beat back inflation. At the same time, some Fed members are worried that keeping interest rates unusually low is causing investors to take on too much risk” [Axios]. Yeah. Who would have imagined that free money for rich people would have resulted in a tsunami of stupid money making bizarre capital allocation decisions? And what else would you call Uber?

The Fed: “QE Delenda Est” [DealBreaker]. “MSFT just announced 3000 layoffs. I’m sure MSFT will have specific reasons for doing this, but I’m gonna generalize here and pin part of the blame here on QE/ZIRP/NIRP: It’s bad for jobs and it needs to end, now. It’s contributing BIGLY to the lowflation/low-productivity/low-wage riddle. Allow me to explain…” And: ” [The Fed has also] been moping about how the Phillips Curve hasn’t been very effective in predicting wage inflation, and yet they still don’t recognize the simple fact is that labor just doesn’t have the bargaining power that is [sic] used to…. Problem is it’s maybe too late, the present recovery is late stage and the Trumptrain aint coming to the rescue with fiscal/structural boosts.” Tightly argued with charts, unlike my snark above, but and it looks like I’m in the ballpark. Readers?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 49 Neutral (previous close: 44, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 49 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jul 7 at 1:30pm.

Crapification Watch

Readers who want to send me examples can do so by using the address below and putting “crapification” in the subject line. Please make your personal account detailed and vivid!

“What’ll It Be for the New York Diner?” [Grub Street]. “Like most mass-extinction events, the Massive Diner, Coffee Shop, and Greasy Spoon Die-Off has been unfolding slowly around us for decades, in plain sight. According to a much-fretted-over Crain’s report from a couple of years back, the city’s Department of Health lists around 400 restaurants with the words diner and coffee in their name, a number that experts say is down from a thousand restaurants a generation ago. (Many nouveau coffee shops don’t have coffee in the name.) Like the old Automats and cafeterias of the ’50s and ’60s, and a generation of classic Jewish delis before that, diners are in decline for many reasons: skyrocketing rents and land values; ever-rising food prices; the spread of a more expedient, highbrow and lowbrow coffee culture; the gentle, inexorable aging of a whole generation of neighborhood ‘regulars’; the difficulty of keeping an ancient, sprawling, ten-page menu in tune with the changing tastes of the times; and the challenges of passing on a family business to a new generation of proprietors, many of whom have the benefit of a college education, and might prefer frittering their days away in barista bars to breaking eggs over a hot stove.” Now, an old codger like me has to be careful not to identify “change” with “crapification.” Still, the absolute worst cup of coffee I’ve ever had was at a Pret a Manger in London — I accidentally ordered a vanilla something-or-other, and they poured in some sort of industrial fluid as flavoring — and at least if you get bad coffee in a diner you also get baseline cooking, the atmosphere, and a waitress who calls you “Hon.”

Health Care

“If you’re not going to let people ‘die in the streets’ as a point of logic you’ve got single payer, which most of Congress is ideologically against. No telling how long it will take them to come around to that but it doesn’t seem like it’s anytime soon” [Mosler Economics].


“It’s not surprising that Corps of Engineers beach replenishment projects get big bucks from Congress and lots of media attention. After all, that’s where everyone goes for the boardwalks, Ferris wheels and ludicrously expensive summer rentals” [Workboat]. “Beach replenishment advocates say those billions of dollars generated by beach resorts make the Corps projects a relative bargain. As an example, they point to New Jersey’s Long Beach Island, where hurricane Sandy failed to punch through the barrier beach in places where a $128 million Corps project was completed. Of course, that did not stop the 2012 storm surge from flooding the bay behind the island, damaging thousands of homes. Coastal scientists say sea level rise along the Mid-Atlantic coast will do the same kind of end run, no matter how much sand gets pumped onto the beach. Now those bayside communities want the same attention for their flood threats. It could be a winning combination: mitigating community risks, using dredged material to rebuild salt marshes and wildlife habitat, with lots of opportunity for the Corps and contractors. ‘All the towns are dealing with sea level rise. We’re losing a lot of the habitat for wildlife,’ said John Spodofora, the mayor of Stafford Township, N.J., at a June 20 meeting with officials from surrounding communities to come up with a strategy. ‘We’re dealing with wave action, we’re dealing with habitat loss and lagoons that are in need of dredging.'” Maybe it would be simpler just to jack these towns up and move them thirty miles inland. Will King Canute please pick up the white courtesy phone?

Class Warfare

Handy chart:

Now that’s a power curve! More here:

Yet while America’s enormous gap between rich and poor and the sorry state of its middle-class are well documented, there’s a less prominent trend that tells an equally important story about the American economy: the divide between the well off and the stratospherically rich.

There are not very many of the Shing.

“Alaskans Have Been Getting Free Cash From the State Since 1982. Mark Zuckerberg Thinks the Rest of the Country Should, Too” [Inc.]. “Lucky Squillionare Wants to Share the Wealth.”

Lazy, lucky…

News of the Wired

“Why I left Facebook” [Blake Watson]. “I joined Facebook in April 2005 shortly after it was opened up to Mississippi State students. Despite being an early Facebook supporter, I deleted my account back in May 2017. Privacy and ethical concerns rank at the top of the list, while other factors—my waning usage of the service for example—also contribute.”

* * *

NOTICE Will J. Dinsmore please get in touch with me with an alternative email address for contact? The server at the address I have thinks my Yahoo address is spam, and bounces it. Thank you!

* * *

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. And here’s today’s plant (MK):

MK writes:

Orcutt Ranch, a citrus orchard, community garden, wedding venue, etc. with oaks hundreds of years old, where I walk daily. I took these pics last weekend with the intention of turning them into images that look like paintings.

Gustave Courbet?

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!

UPDATE Now that that the 2017 Water Cooler fundraiser post is launched, I can say that directions for sending a check will include a request to send me a parallel email so I can thank you. I was not able to thank all you sent me checks this year, because I was unable to connect physical mail identities to online identities. Apologies!

* * *

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


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. NotTimothyGeithner

    Given Podesta’s ties to Russia, how do we know he isn’t the source of the leak? Maybe, Putin paid him off by offering to tell Podesta the truth about the Voronezh UFO incident?!?!?! Think about it. Podesta “ran” Hillary’s campaign. Shouldn’t Hillary have been up by 50 points?

    1. Mike

      Why include a middleman to muck up the theory? Podesta could’ve done it all by himself, to give Clinton’s campaign something to complain about after they lost. After all, I give him and three others the brains to figure that HC could lose, and the favored classes never leave themselves open on one side when they play the other.

    2. Andrew Watts

      Shouldn’t Hillary have been up by 50 points?

      Oh my god! Best Friend HIllary should’ve realized that she was being sabotaged by her loyal retainers. Putin secretly controls both sides of the political spectrum and the KGB has infiltrated US intelligence agencies. That’s why those spooks spout nonsense about Russia to make sure that they aren’t believed or suspected of being traitors!

      Launch the nukes!

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Ummm…sorry…we can’t actually launch them…they don’t actually work…none of them…well they “might” work but more often than not…

        nope not theirs either…

        yup it probably “is” the reason no one has actually used them…

        yup could fall right on our heads…

        Didn’t you notice all those years when a butterfly farted on collins avenue a launch would get scrubbed at cape…

        Yes it is…

        Best grift idea evah…

        1. clarky90

          More crapification! Have the North Koreans submitted the lowest winning bids, for the design and build of the USA nuclear deterrent? You know, free trade, no boarders, maximizing returns and all……? (sarc/)

  2. Art Eclectic

    Mark Penn Pushes Democrats to Move to Center

    Hilarious. They’ve been doing that for decades now and look where it’s gotten them (and by extension, the rest of us)?

    What does Penn propose the D’s do? Take more corporate donations and skew more legislation to the whims of their donors? Advocate for more people dying in the streets? Advocate to lock up more people for pot crimes? Agree that Muslims are teh ebil? Rethink birth control?

    1. RUKIdding

      I think the answer to every one of you questions is: Yes.

      Anyway, that’s the way it seems to me.

      As has been often said: when people want to vote for Republicans, they’re going to go for the real deal, not Republican Lite.

      But I guess Mark Penn’s 1% Pay Masters compensate him to squeal out such bs. Doing the same thing over and over, while expecting a different result means…. you crazy, not me.

    2. lyman alpha bloba

      The Dems are so far to the center right now that they’ve crossed the event horizon and are now stuck in an inescapable black hole of their own making where no one at all can see them (or hear them scream).

      1. nippersmom

        Would that were true. I would love to no longer see them or hear them whine scream.

      2. kimsarah

        Irrelevant is what they and CNN and PMSNBC and Wapo are. What type of flower is appropriate to place atop their graves?

    3. DJG

      Art Eclectic: I agree with RUKidding and lyman alpha bloba (who must be lyman alpha’s main squeeze). The Democrats want to move to an imaginary center, where they don’t quite appeal to anyone except their own fantasies. They tried it with Jon Ossoff. Then they will engage in “we care” rituals, like serving cruelty-free handwipes at functions. (Must keep clean after handling all that money.)

      They will keep on trotting on Rahm Emanuel and Corey Booker. They will avoid the topic of sponsorship of endless war. They will lead the cheers for capitalism along with Nancy Pelosi. And they will continue to do so. I don’t see masses of people out in the streets. I don’t see boycotts. I see a lot of needless suffering, and neoliberalism is good at making money off suffering.

      1. clarky90

        They ARE aiming for the center. If the entire scale runs from Top to Bottom (not Right to Left), and the Democrats (and the Republicans) represent for the Top 1%, Then, they are aiming for the point at, Top 00.5% (their spiritual center point)! In other words, they are too Left for 0.5% of the Grand Poo-Bahs and too Right for the other 0.5% of the Grand Poo-Baaaaas. So, in fact, the are moderate, centralists for the “people” that they represent/pleasure.

    4. John k

      Look where it’s got them…

      It’s got them high salaries, a very lucrative revolving door… all they need to keep their trough topped up is control of the dem party, specifically using their death grip on the party to keep progressives out of any power or influence, with bonus bucks for any nudge to the right, even better if you call it ‘center’.
      Course they would prefer to actually win races, which then firms their grip on future funding, but note that even losing races can bring big bucks to consultants, no matter their awful track record, witness Ga06.
      If they thought what they have been doing was bad for them, they would change. That’s not their view, so they’re not gonna fix what ain’t broke.

      Want a different result? Get a different party.

      1. NYPaul

        Exactly…………..”Get a different party.”

        So why, in a two party system, with both parties virtually identical, and 99% of the populace disgusted with both, is a third Party dismissed as “The Impossible Dream?”

        1. Art Eclectic

          Money. A third party would have to build a fundraising apparatus to compete with the two virtually identical parties, and they won’t be able to raise big $$ until they prove they can win.

        2. jsn

          Deliberate institutional barriers to ballot access at every level of every state. The duopoly is deeply entrenched and institutionally defended.

          That’s why a hostile take over of the Dems is the best prospect for change within the system

      1. Art Eclectic

        Lame internet geek slang. Teh = person can’t be bothered to go back and correct to THE. Ebil = evil, similar to “gubbermint”. In short, poking fun at the illiterate.

    5. Propertius

      If Hillary learned one thing from 2008, it should have been “ignore anything Mark Penn says.”

      I cannot fathom why anyone would pay attention to his opinions. Apparently, the key to becoming a respected Democratic “thought leader” is to lose multiple elections.

  3. allan

    Tremendous income gains are not going to the top 20%. They are going to top 1%.

    Amen. As a reminder, the scale on left is the annual growth rate.
    In other words, the absolute 1980-2014 income growth is really being displayed on a logarithmic scale,
    and there is still a vertical asymptote at the top end.

    Any pundit or policy wonk who harps on the 20%, 10% or even 5%
    is a paid shill, or is auditioning to become one.

    1. Vatch

      Yes! Most of the people in the top 20% (of either income or wealth) are not the ones who have destroyed representative democracy and turned the U.S. into a pure oligarchic plutocracy. It’s the top 0.01%, who can lose millions of dollars worth of assets, and not feel a thing, and only find out about it because their accountants tell them that it happened. If I lost thousands of dollars, I would notice, and it would significantly affect my life for the worse. Of course, few of the top 0.01 percenters lose millions; instead, they gain millions every year.

      Sure, some of the people at the lower ends of the top 20% (and even some of the people at the lower end of the top 1%) naively identify with the ultra-rich. That doesn’t mean that they are responsible for causing our oligarchy — that just means that they are delusional.

      1. jrs

        Still they should ALL be paying higher taxes.

        They may or may not identify with the ultra-rich, but you won’t ever get them to identify with the exploitation experienced by low paid labor.

        1. ambrit

          Didn’t you Americanos have a “revolt” a few years back based on “No Taxation Without Representation?” Well, the Ubers have the representation, without the taxation. Some sort of Demonic doings done there.

          1. Art Eclectic

            The Ubers bought the representation and they now own them. We’re just allowed to vote on whether what color jerseys their team wears.

            1. ambrit

              You’re so right! What we need is a colour revolution here, at the source of such shenanigans.

      2. different clue

        Even if/when the OPOOPers lose millions of dollars, if they are able to force the bottom 99 to lose billions of dollars, then the OPOOPers are still gaining in relative wealth and power relative to the rest of us. And they are at the level where relative power over everyone else matters to the attainment of their goal of Total Domination.

        Wealth is about Power for them, not just mo’ money.

      3. JTMcPhee

        But those latter folk, most of them, and too many mopes, give their all, their last full measure, in aid of the Masters in the looting. With a cheerful smile, however faked…

        “Be the ball!”

      4. Vatch

        Anyone who wants genuine change ought to try to avoid alienating people simply for having somewhat more money than the average person. People in the top 20% are far more likely to vote than others, so there is a tangible benefit to be gained from persuading them to support progressive goals. Most one percenters won’t be persuaded, but a lot of people at somewhat lower economic strata can be. In recent Presidential election years, the voter turnout has ranged from 49.0% in 1996 to 58.2% in 2008. The last time that turnout exceeded 60% was in 1968 (60.7%). Turnout in midterm elections is far more dismal (36.7% in 2014, 41.8% in 2010, 41.3% in 2006, etc.).

        There’s a lot more to be gained by convincing most of the people in the top 20% that they have little in common with billionaires and near-billionaires than by demonizing the top 20 percenters. People in the top 20 percent vote. It’s very likely that fewer than half of the people in the other 80 percent vote. In midterm elections, the top 20 percenters probably account for nearly half of all the voters.

        1. allan

          x2. There have been comments over time at NC about how even many doctors and lawyers
          are feeling they’re on a treadmill and slowly moving backwards.
          The closer someone gets to the 1%, the harder it might be to convince them
          that their long term interests are with those below them rather than with those above,
          but it’s worth trying.

        2. Tvc15

          “Why the 20%, and not the 1% are the real problem.” Recent headline from a book review in The Economist also spouting this nonsense.

          I’ve seen this talking point a few times recently, seems to be an orchestrated attempt to shift the narrative.

          Given the ownship group of The Economist, they wouldn’t have anything to gain from this deflection would they?

          1. allan

            Indeed. Here is a typical piece from 2014:

            “Democrats claim America is threatened by the financial elite, who hog society’s resources. But that’s a distraction. The real social gap is between the top 20 percent and the lower 30 percent. The liberal members of the upper tribe latch onto this top 1 percent narrative because it excuses them from the central role they themselves are playing in driving inequality and unfairness.”

            To find out who wrote this drivel, see a refutation of it by CEPR from 2015.
            Hint: he has gigs at the NYT, NPR and PBS.

          2. Oregoncharles

            It appears to be Thomas Frank’s point, that the Democratic Party is really representing the professional class – the top 20%.

            That doesn’t mean they’re really benefiting, though.

        3. Aumua

          As long as the top 20% are willing to give up their second homes, cars, private schools for their kids, other luxuries and general disposable income in the service of fostering equality.. no problem! They are totally welcome in the people’s camp.

          Of course, if they did that then they wouldn’t be in the top 20% anymore, hmm..

          1. allan

            Those at the 80th percentile are very unlikely to have second homes or be sending their kids to (nonreligious) private schools. As the original chart shows, over the last 35 years the income gains at the 80th perecentile have been just above 1% per year, which is in fact just below the national average. A.k.a., drowning more slowly than those below them in the distribution.

            Maybe their predecessors had second homes and private schools in 1980,
            but thirty-five years of real estate and tuition inflation means that today
            most of them can’t.

            Talking about income distribution in terms of crude divisions like quintiles,
            and in terms of averages instead of medians, only serves the interests of the 1%.
            In fact, mostly the top of the 1%. No wonder David Brooks likes to do it.

            1. Vatch

              Absolutely! People at the 80th percentile don’t have second homes, and few at the 90th percentile have them, either. Some of people at those levels have trouble paying for their mortgages. That probably means that they either bought when the market was high, or something happened to their finances after they bought the home, but they don’t own a second home. That takes serious money.

      5. clarky90

        Re Class Warfare, Handy chart:

        The Titanic has often been used as a metaphor for our current economic situation. ie 68% of the passengers and crew died (no life jackets or places on life boats), 32% survived (top deck).

        However, I believe that Treblinka Concentration Camp is a more useful metaphor.

        Treblinka extermination camp
        “From August 1942 Treblinka was run by camp commandant SS-Obersturmfuehrer Franz Stangl,… Stangl’s deputy was Kurt Franz. They were assisted by 20–30 SS men (who had participated in the Euthanasia Program), and 90–120 Ukrainian soldiers who worked as camp guards.”
        Encyclopedia of the Holocaust,…”

        So, how was it possible that so few (110 to 150) could murder so many (700,000 to 900,00)?

        The Kapos


        “Concentration camps were controlled by the SS, but day-to-day organization was supplemented by the system of functionary prisoners, a second hierarchy that made it easier for the Nazis to control the camps. These prisoners made it possible for the camps to function with fewer SS personnel. The prisoner functionaries sometimes numbered as high as 10% of the inmates.”

        the Sonderkommando


        “The earliest portrayals of the Sonderkommando were generally unflattering. Miklos Nyiszli, in “Auschwitz: A Doctor’s Eyewitness Account”, described the Sonderkommando as enjoying a virtual feast, complete with chandeliers and candlelight, as other prisoners died of starvation…..”

        The ultimate mortality rate of the Kapos and Sonderkommandos was 99%+. Why were they ultimately murdered? (1) Once the camp’s inmates were murdered, they were redundant. (2) They were unwanted witnesses to the crime.

        I am putting this forward because I intuit that the top 10% or 20% (income in the World today), believe that the Titanic is their operative metaphor. When the ship (the World) goes down, they will be safe, because of their status and service.

        However, I am suggesting that only the top 1% will be safe, and that the mortality of the top 10%-20% lackeys will be high, and at the hands of the 1%. No witnesses wanted, and, also, unfortunately, now redundant.

  4. dcblogger

    Liberal Democrats are always fighting. And never winning. As I keep saying, we need a Grant, not another McClellan.
    actually we need a Havel. It might be Bernie Sanders, or it might be someone like Barbara Lee.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not Gandhi or the Dalai Lama?

      But not Napoleon though, an emperor who replaced a king, by way of revolution and the reign of terror.

      1. polecat

        Well, at least Napoleon, as a result of his war campaigns, incidentally gave the world a relatively safe method of preserving food … in the form of water-bath canning, thereby insuring that his troops had adequate & safe victuals to consume whilst out in the field, so he had that in his favor ! …

    2. clinical wasteman

      Be careful what — or rather whom — you wish for. There’s at least a case to be made that American Liberal Democrats’ “Havel” — as in economic neoliberalizer and NATO expansionist with a touch of upper-middlebrow intellectual suavity — was named Obama.

      Admittedly not a perfect match: I wouldn’t presume to question Havel’s personal seriousness or the ugliness of the police state he stood up to before he took office, and from the little I’ve read in translations he seems to have been the superior literary talent. (Not exactly setting the bar high, I know.) And conversely, Obama didn’t quite manage to partition the U.S. into two separate vassal statelets along largely made-up lines of ethnolinguistic difference.

      But once you get over the novelty of someone with almost passable musical taste presiding over state banquets, they both look like Icons of pyrrhic Culture War victory dangling from cathedrals of class rout.

    3. DJG

      dcblogger: Interesting point in that Vaclav Havel used his moral authority to point a way out of a morass. Then he led the Czechs out of the morass without the slightest sign of vindictiveness, considering what he had been through. (He wasn’t allowed to complete his education because he came from a bourgeois family.)

      Yet Havel was also a Grant in the sense that he knew that he had to win the war. Moral victories that ended up with him in prison for another term and his colleagues in prison or under arrest were wearing out the dissident movement.

      Bernie Sanders may have these advantages, too. I will also watch Nina Turner to see how she matures.

      1. DJG

        Vaclav Havel also had an advantage: A life in the arts. He knew that the goal is the finished project, getting a show up on stage. The goal isn’t the “process” and commenting endlessly on it. The goal isn’t fundraising. The goal isn’t “product development.” The goal is opening night and that intimate engagement with an audience: Creating an event in time and changing the world because of that moment in time.

        It is a long way from data analytics and Post-It notes on the walls in the open-plan office.

      1. kimsarah

        She is a loser who also signed up for Hillary’s resistance campaign to be an attack dog.

  5. JTMcPhee

    “Democrats are always fighting, and never winning.” Sounds like the leitmotif of “our” Full Speculum Dominance Imperial Global Force Structure. And in both cases, the contractors and consultants and Brass make out like bandits, while the mopes get rolled and looted and Hellfired and MOAB’d…

    And for the Grand Prize of a new 2018 Chevrolet Cruze, a trip to Notagainistan, and a buck two- eighty, the remedy is…? The winner has thirty seconds to answer…

  6. Zzzz Andrew

    Re: Crapification Watch and the disappearance of the New York Diner: Samuel Menashe’s elegy to the former Homer’s Diner in Greenwich Village:


    Where can we eat
    With a garden view
    And a bell tower
    Across the street
    No place like Homer’s

  7. Anonymous

    Kamala Harris got her boost into the major leagues as a special young friend of Willie Brown’s. Take that as you may.

    1. Jess

      And that description of her is as correct as it is caustic. She’s DiFi, or worse, in training.

    2. ian

      I wish she were a Willie Brown. At least that guy had a modicum of style, a sense of humor and talent. I loved the scene in one of the Godfather movies where Brown has a cameo playing a corrupt politician seeking help from the Michael Corleone.
      My sense (as a resident of CA) was that she was a so-so atty general. I find all the trial balloons trying to puff her up as a future presidential contender rather ham-handed – “she’s a woman! she’s a minority! How can we lose?”

  8. Clive

    Re: Lambert’s London Pret a Manger Coffee Faux Pas

    It’s a guilty pleasure, but I do still smile when I recall Lambert’s chagrin that, when in England, he discovered much to his surprise that English was actually second language for him. We might call it English here, but it’s not the same version at all that Americans speak.

    That said, when I visited California, many people I encountered seemed unable to comprehend what I thought were clear and unambiguous statements made in diners and even supposedly smart restaurants when asked what I wanted to drink such as “oh, a nice cup of tea, that would be lovely”. Rarely, if ever, did I actually get brought a cup of tea.

      1. Clive

        I wish. I don’t know what happens to tea leaves when they reach US shores, but I think they must get put through some weird processes that removes all taste and flavour but retains the colour. And it wasn’t unheard of that I’d get coffee when I specifically asked for tea. It’s like it was just presumed I’d made some silly mistake in requesting it.

        1. PKMKII

          The coffee instead of tea thing is a straight up mistake on the waiter’s/waitress’ fault. The issue with the tea itself is that the typical tea sold en mass cheaply to your greasy spoons, and in bulk at grocery stores, are little bags of what are less tea leaves and more the dust left behind when processing proper tea leaves.

          1. polecat

            An option, if living in the right climate zones, would be to grow your own camelia sinensis … then the tea is at your finger tips, as it were. Tip prune them as they grow, and eventually they’ll bush out for a continuous harvest of tea leaves during the growing season !

          2. JTMcPhee

            My mom smoked, and one stop on a family forced-march station-wagon “vacation” was a stop at a Ligett&Meyers cigarette-making plant. Big machines, heady odors, from millions of cigarettes being rolled and stuffed every day.

            There were people sweeping the concrete around the machinery, gathering the many bits of cut cured leaves that escaped the claws and conveyors. The piles of sweepings, along with floor dirt, rat droppings and whatever, were loaded by “workers” into large wheeled bins that were taken off to another part of the factory.

            I asked what was done with that stuff – the guide demurred, but one worker muttered that they were made into the “lower brands” in the corporate lineup. One of which, with menthol added (along with other secret stuff, for “flavor” and enhanced addictive potency) was my mom’s chosen favorite.

            She died of cancer at age 56. Smoking almost to the end.

        2. JerseyJeffersonian

          That’s why I buy British teas through the internet. Twinnings, Taylors of Harrowgate (and their sub-brand Yorkshire). Let’s have a proper cuppa…

          A few others from time to time, a little Mighty Leaf, or Bigelows, or some blends from English Tea Shop, usually due to some special character of the blend, but those are the standbys for us here in the benighted wasteland of Southern New Jersey.

          Oh, and through the online store, Brands of Britain, not only Taylors teas, but also Tiptree preserves. Proper marmelades with one’s toast and tea.

        3. Laughingsong

          Regular Restaurant/Diner tea (Lipton-esque dishwater) apparently is made from cheap quality teas, questionably blended, from South America – Argentina, or so a tea aficionado friend tells me. Also, us Yanks tend to make it like we do coffee: hot, but not necessarily bubbling hot, water, poured over the ground beans (or dusty-dry tea leaves) but not let to steep properly. After a 9-year stint in Ireland I was made a tea fan and was schooled in better tea making. My aficionado friend also tells me temp and steep time are different for black, oolong, green, and white teas. For me that’s a post-grad tea degree I’m not going for as I drink mostly black tea blends. I buy in bulk from Jasmine Pearl in Portland OR and sometimes from J-Tea here in Eugene (Jasmine Pearl is more consistent in sending fresher tea, and has some nice blends).

        4. flora

          The US 1920’s -30’s alcohol prohibition cast long shadows. Then, asking for ‘tea’ was a signal. Be glad you got something non-alcoholic. ;)

        5. flora

          If I may, a tip for your future visits to the US:
          Do not just ask for tea.
          Ask: “What kind of tea do you have? ” (this question is very important, it focuses the waiter/waitress that you really are asking for tea, not coffee.)
          Then: ask for one of the named teas, specifying either hot or cold.

          Good luck, and cheers.

          1. flora

            or ask for “iced tea”, which will usually default to Lipton’s iced tea.

            Brits and tea in the US. US Americans and beer in in GB. Similar mis-assumptions.

          2. Clive

            I never thought of doing that! “Do you have Taylors of Harrogate?” or “Is it Twinnings?” would at least let me know what I was in for…

    1. clinical wasteman

      What I recall from the evening at the pub was not so much chagrin on Lambert’s part as extraordinary and unpatronizing patience with a clusterfamilyblog of Englishes, all “second” once it’s understood that no “first” exists anywhere, least of all in the nasal braying of England’s hereditary micropercent. In the course of a half-hour or a bit more before my friend A. and I spared him our onslaught of overheated opinions, our visiting host was bounced back and forth between London-Irish council estate speech, NZ-Quebecois-Hackney narrow Scots, Dominican-American and South Asian x Midlands(?)-inflected skeptically “Received” pronunciation, all without protest except when he quite reasonably asked A. & me to slow down once we got started on our shared History of Riots obsession.
      I agree that spoken English is wildly and mercifully divergent, and I’m always impressed by the way thoughtful visitors and immigrants embrace its utmost divergence in places like London and New York; this is also why — with renewed apologies to the great H.L. Mencken — I find codification of “British” vs. “American” English (let alone sub-codes for linguistically omnivorous outlying colonies) so intolerably silly.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I had an absolutely splendid time and I came away very happy!

        Although I did have to say “Please speak English more slowly, I’m an American!” more than once.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Thanks Lambert! Both A. (only an occasional reader before but now emphatically an NC convert) and I would definitely say the same. I hope we managed at least partly to heed your tactful suggestion that we babble slightly less urgently.
          Also, in very belated (because of intervening computerless time on the Inner Hebrides and subsequent computer dysfunction) reply to your post-visit post: that formidable union of Latin American, African, East-European and other cleaners, messengers, doorpeople and ultra-precarious “service” workers, co-organized by another A. whom you also briefly met, generally is CAIWU (Cleaning and Allied Industries Workers Union I think, but I don’t dare to check because the computer still tends to freeze mid-navigation from one page to another. For the same reason, sorry no link, but the website should show up on a DDG search.) Previously part of the IWGB, which shares a remarkable habit of actually winning disputes against employers who start by failing to take them seriously at all. Currently turning down frantic attempts by the Metropolitan Police to settle out of court for one opportunistic arrest during the successful (in terms of accreditation and “living wage”) wildcat occupation of a major department store last year.

    2. Annotherone

      Tea? I can’t even get me a bottle of water, still, after 12 years here. My husband has to be around to translate for the server…”baddle of waddah” (or suchlike). ;)

    3. The Rev Kev

      Wasn’t it Churchill that once said that the Americans and English are divided by a common language?


    Andrew Cuomo Could Beat Trump … If He Can Win Over the Left First

    Given that his solution for the MTA “State of Emergency” is shaping up to be, blame the employees, throw money at overpriced consultants that underperform, not likely.

    1. Pat

      Given that anyone with a brain understands that Cuomo was part of the continued slide of the MTA that led to a State of Emergency, most don’t even need to examine his solutions.

      Or one can even remember days and days ago when he tried to blame the problems on the mayor of NYC who had 1.) been in office less time than Cuomo had AND 2.) had been kept away from any significant say in the running of the MTA by Cuomo himself. (I admit I still relish Cuomo’s shock when not even his allies in the press decided there was no way to sell that one and left him hanging.)

      1. PKMKII

        Pet peeve of New Yorkers with any inkling of intelligence is when people think/try to argue that the City runs the subways. Not even Dear Governor’s death grip is more powerful than that.

      2. bob

        Making the subway riders mad plays right into the hands of the coveted “center-right” suburban repubs. “he may be alright after all, even if he is a democrat. he’s pissing the right people off”

        I won’t give him credit for it being a plan.

  10. Huey Long

    RE: Crapification

    +1 on the NYC diners disappearing! They’re dropping like flies only to be replaced with Prets, Hale and Heartys, Paneras, etc.


    For those of you who want to see just how many small businesses are dying in NYC, take a peek at “Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York” blog. He has been blogging on this for 7 or 8 years now and it is absolutely staggering.

    Many of these places are diners and coffee shops with waitresses that call you hon and such.



    I have a great crapification yarn about Hilton hotels and the stress they’ve been causing my poor fiancé as our wedding day fast approaches. I will write it up over the weekend, just need to know where to send it.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      RE: Disappearing diners

      This happened in Seattle a couple decades ago but they has Starbucks to really get the chain-replacing-independents ball rolling.

      I remember the Olympic diner around Pike and 2nd IIRC and then there was another Greek-owned place downtown on 4th avenue. Used to stop in for coffee there a lot – the bar was called the Minotaur lounge I think but I can’t recall the name of the diner itself. I think it was replaced by some hipster comfort food restaurant where you could get mac and cheese for $25.

      1. Cocomaan

        Yeah this article kind of missed the idea of chains. Chains like starbu$$ are multi nationals that don’t give a damn about your neighborhood.

  11. Louis Fyne

    –: the Great Freshman Hope, a telegenic object of daydreaming projection — justified or not — for a party adrift and removed from executive power”–

    Maybe Kamala should chime about Illinois—-where their budget crisis was solved by raising its most regressive taxes.

    Increase the one-bracket state income tax rate: (which affects those who can’t itemize the most, regressive)
    Increase state fees on telephone and cable tv (regressive).
    No property tax reform. (regressive as home equity as a percentage of household wealth decreases as one gets wealthier)
    Expansion of the sales tax (regressive)

  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Polling and focus grouping

    I wonder if the brainiacs who run this dog and pony show, once they’ve asked “Do you prefer slogan A or slogan B”, ever follow up with “Would either of these slogans actually get you to vote for the Democrat party?”.

    My guess is that hasn’t crossed their tiny little minds. Probably because they don’t really care since as you pointed out, it’s all about the grift and shoveling cash to consultants.

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m acquainted with one of those political consultants. One of my Democratic acquaintances used his services for her congressional campaign. I heard through the grapevine that said consultant cost her a bundle of money. And she didn’t even make it as far as the primary.

      OTOH, a long-time friend ran for the state legislature as a progressive Democrat. Her consultant? Nobody. She came from a marketing communications background, so let’s just say that she carried what she needed to know in her noggin.

      My friend also designed her own campaign literature. And shot her own videos. When it came time to do a campaign website, guess what. She knew how to do that too.

      Last November, she was elected to her first term in the Arizona House, and she’s currently running for re-election. Still isn’t hiring a consultant.

      1. Jess

        Glad for your friend’s success, and how it can inspire others to stick with simple principles and eschew the consultant gravy train bullshit.

  13. Summer

    Realignment and Legitimacy:
    Good stuff on Andrew Stein! What a vile character…
    As for Mark Penn, here is a blast from the past. It’s a post-mortem on the failed 2008 bid of the Clinton campaign that is (SURPRISE) leaked emails and memos. Like the Democratic Party, these people have learned nothing and care only about their places in the electoral industrial complex. Enjoy!


    Hillary Clinton’s campaign was undone by a clash of personalities more toxic than anyone imagined. E-mails and memos—published here for the first time—reveal the backstabbing and conflicting strategies that produced an epic meltdown.
    • Joshua Green
    • September 2008 Issue

    1. EverythingsJake

      Nevertheless, I found myself thinking Stein might actually be a step up from Friedman, Douthat, and others execrables that inhabit the page regularly. Still wish he would join Bill Keller and the other execrables who are wrong time and time again off-stage somewhere, out of sight, out of mind, and kept very silent. Maybe in one of those bunkers the government is building for the end times?

  14. Propertius

    As I keep saying, we need a Grant, not another McClellan.

    Maybe we really need a Sherman.

      1. DJG

        Propertius and Lambert Strether: The remarkable Sherman comments on the remarkable Grant, and what came to my mind is that what we require is more self-possession and singleness of purpose. (Fewer focus groups, I guess)

        I am a damned sight smarter man than Grant. I know more about military history, strategy, and grand tactics than he does. I know more about supply, administration, and everything else than he does. I’ll tell you where he beats me though and where he beats the world. He doesn’t give a damn about what the enemy does out of his sight, but it scares me like hell. … I am more nervous than he is. I am more likely to change my orders or to countermarch my command than he is. He uses such information as he has according to his best judgment; he issues his orders and does his level best to carry them out without much reference to what is going on about him and, so far, experience seems to have fully justified him.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Sounds like Grant is an INTJ. Here’s a handy animated map:

          My takeaways from this map, at a very “high level”:

          1) Winfield Scott’s anaconda strategy was necessary but insufficient

          2) The war was won in the West, as that was where the Confederacy was cut in two and pieces lopped off (and that’s down to Grant)

          3) Grant pinned the Confederacy down in Virginia, while his subordinate

          4) Sherman disemboweled it with his March to the Sea.

          The strategic conception was Scott’s, translated to victory — I think Scott shrank from the idea that the conflict could not be settled between gentlemen, as did McClellan — by Grant aided by Sherman. (In the process both sides invented trench warfare, and Grant, aided by Sherman, invented total war.)

          When I say the left needs a Grant, I’m looking for the overall strategy, the mind and strength of will to carry it out, the ability to visualize terrain even without a map, the mastery of logistics, and (frankly) the willingness to take casualties in the service of great (moral) ends.

          There’s a (well-documented) story from Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign after (IIRC) the Battle of the Wilderness. The troops were marching away from the battlefield and came to a fork in the road. One way led North (back) and the other way led South (forward).

          In the past, under McClellan and various other failed commanders, the troops would have headed North to rest and refit.

          Instead, Grant and his staff passed them on horseback, and took the South fork. And the troops began to sing, even though they were going into another terrible battle.

          That’s what we [family blogging] need, not this weak, pastel-colored shit from the DNC.

          Adding, I want to read Grant’s biography this summer. It’s said to be written with great clarity and simplicity.

          1. witters

            If you got the time, read Sherman’s memoir – the Library of America edition is great.

          2. DJG

            Lambert: When I was looking through the quotes on Grant, and the many formidable letters and quotes from Sherman, I ran across a reference to Epaminondas who reorganized Greece by defeating the Spartans and freeing the Messenians, singlemindedly led Thebes to preeminence, was incorruptible, and was widely admired. The list of battles makes me think that he was also relentless.

            Unless reading about Dead White Men hurts your delicate sensibilities, you may want to throw Epaminondas of Thebes on the stack, too.

            Also, take another look at Sherman’s letter to the citizens of Atlanta. Talk about someone who understood what his purpose was and what he had to accomplish.

          3. DJG

            And maybe 5: Defeating the South at Gettysburg to prevent the split of the North, a battle that was then imbued with great moral purpose by Lincoln in his Address, which reaffirmed that there was genuine meaning to the Civil War and added the immortal government “of the people, by the people, for the people” to our democratic (small D) mindset.

            1. Johnnygl

              Not sure if you are giving Grant credit for gettysburg, but i believe it was Meade. In any case, what turned the battle from a minor tactical win for the union into a devastating defeat for the rebels was pickett’s charge on the 3rd day. That was a completely unnecessary own-goal from lee that he couldn’t afford to make.

              There was no special genius displayed by union commanders that day. Victory simply fell into their lap.

              Rest of your comment holds up just fine, though.

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                It was Meade who shouldn’t have lost his job. Meade was engaged in an extensive purge of the officer corp, and the purged units were the ones who fought at Gettysburg. He was right about not pursuing Lee as he couldn’t trust their ability pf the fresh units to function in a command and control environment.

                Grant after all didn’t pick up the campaign until November anyway largely finishing a review of the officer corp. Certainly, the 20th Maine is an example of the purge. The original Commanding officer of that company found himself promoted to command of the entire 5th Corp on the eve of Gettysburg, a fairly impressive promotion. Chamberlain replaced a politically linked officer who camped the 20th Maine on a frozen lake. Guess what happened. Let that sink in. A commanding officer from Maine once camped his men on a frozen lake. There is a reason Grant went from a drunk who couldn’t find an army job in April 1861 to receiving Lee’s surrender in April 1865, gross incompetence.

                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > There is a reason Grant went from a drunk who couldn’t find an army job in April 1861 to receiving Lee’s surrender in April 1865, gross incompetence.

                  Amazing the man won, considering his disabilities, eh? Please confine your comments to the factual.

                  1. Daryl

                    Being a drunk doesn’t necessarily disqualify one from being successful in war in any case. Ögedei Khan was a drunk, Murad IV was an alcoholic who personally beheaded people for the sin of drinking.

                  2. NotTimothyGeithner

                    Grant was a well known drunk who couldn’t find a job in the regular army despite combat experience. A Congressman from Illinois who remembered Grant helped him find a job in the Illinois militia training militia men due to a chance meeting.

                    The reason anyone could jump so far in a relatively short time is the incompetence within the officer Corp was nothing short of phenomenal. Meade purged the officer Corp of much of the rot.

                2. ambrit

                  Yes, well, on the Confederate side, Longstreet wanted to side step the Union forces at Gettysburg and continue on towards Washington, or Baltimore. That was Longstreets genius, he understood the value of keeping ones’ opponents off their guard. A natural “meeting engagement” developed at Gettysburg, a place where major roads converged.
                  One of the hidden lessons to be gleaned from a study of the American Civil War, as is evident in this thread, is the danger of having political officers in charge of armies. Politics should be the province of diplomats, warfare the province of soldiers. Something by von Clausewitz comes to mind.

              2. The Rev Kev

                Agree to disagree here. If you doubt there being no special genius by the Union Commanders that day, I suggest you have a look-see at the actions of General John Buford on the first day of the battle as an example.
                And victory hardly just fell into their laps. It was the little guys in blue that held the line with their rifles and bayonets (“and some guts behind it”) that broke the Confederate ranks and ended the dream of a C.S.A. You think that the modern US Army could take the massive casualties that Civil War armies took but still keep going?
                If you ever get the time, watch Ken Burns’s 9-part series “The Civil War” to get an idea of what they went through. It will be worth your time.

                1. Johnnygl

                  Points made are well taken, i was talking narrowly about pickett’s charge. I haven’t seen ken burns’ series in many years. I do recall it being a masterpiece, though!

                  Burns has something coming on vietnam soon, i think.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    You are right about Pickett’s charge. Longstreet tried to talk Lee out of it but Lee wouldn’t have a bar of it. The sad thing is that in the ensuing decades it was Longstreet that was blamed for that charge as people did not want to blame Lee for it even though it was all Lee’s fault.
                    Thanks for that heads up, by the way, on Ken Burns new project Vietnam. I found a link at http://kenburns.com/films/vietnam/ which said that it is airing this September. I hope that it is as good as the Civil War series. If you want to re-watch that one, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ULSdUqwd4k&list=PLgtE8WB4UlaEEk4xg1JVrr-bqR-v9ILG2

          4. Johnnygl

            McClellan should be given credit for building and organizing the army of the potomac. Keep in mind, most of the best military minds joined the rebels at the start of the war.

            If McClellan built a new car after all the mechanics left…then grant was the driver who had the balls to drive it right up the gut into enemy territory.

            For me, the modern analogy is bernie sanders going to a union drive in Mississippi and marching with workers not long after he lost a primary roughly 85-15 in that state. That is the political equivalent of going right at the heart of ‘hostile’ territory.

            It’s moves like that which make me such a bernie supporter, even if he’s just one guy. At least he’s got the right approach to the problem.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              McClellan did in fact have a great insight in the Peninsular Campaign, because that brought his army to Richmond wihout having to fight his way overland IIRC across several rivers, but through personal qualities he failed to translate his insight into victory. (To be fair, his own fears were magnified by poor intelligence from Pinkerton on the size of the forces he faced). He was also vainglorious and an intriguer. Worse, to him, victory was capturing the enemy’s capital — whereupon the North and the vanquished South would sit down and negotiate… the slavery question. Which if it were negotiable, would have been settled without war. Grant (and Sherman) had a different definition of victory: The destruction of the enemy’s ability to fight, both the army and the army’s industrial and agricultural foundations; total war, in other words. I agree McClellan built the Army of the Potomac from nothing, and the troops loved him, but he never did teach them how to win.

              On Sanders, I too admire his “relentlessness.” He’s not afraid to go anywhere. In retrospect, I wish that he, too, had fought a total war, but I don’t blame him for not seeing a possibility that nobody else saw.

  15. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “Alaskans Have Been Getting Free Cash From the State Since 1982. Mark Zuckerberg Thinks the Rest of the Country Should, Too”

    Great! If he so in favor of paying people compensation for the use of communal property by corporations, maybe he can start with his own company and start paying a stipend to each account owner for all the personal data that he collects for free and sells to make his squillions.

  16. Livius Drusus

    Regarding diners, most people seem to prefer a quick McDonald’s breakfast with coffee. Cheaper and easier to eat if you are on the go. Most of the people who go to diners in my area are retired and have the time to sit and talk which is what you are supposed to do at a diner.

    I am surprised that any restaurants that aren’t either fast food or high-end make it today since most people are too broke and time poor to have a proper sit-down meal.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      I love our Jersey diners. We have some pretty good ones around here. Some of them can really lay on some fairly upscale food while at the same time remaining capable of serving a mean plate of pancakes with a side of well-cooked scrapple, washed down with some decent coffee. And cheesecake, bread pudding, red velvet cake, and baklava to die for, too.

      Man, I am making myself really hungry…

    2. Arizona Slim

      @Livius Drusus, you’ve described Downtown Tucson to a tee. Place is (supposedly) revitalizing, and it’s stuffed to the gills with bars and restaurants. Very few of them appear to be successful. The death rate, especially along Congress Street, is quite high.

      You can also see quite a few empty storefronts along Congress. In one block, between 6th Avenue and Scott Avenue, I’ve spotted eight empties. Some have been vacant for years.

    3. ambrit

      Unless the emporium is serving an insular community or, as does our Diner in H’burg, it acts as the lair for bookies, grifters, and City Hall types.

    4. Yves Smith

      I have too slow a metabolism to eat diner food, but eggs on a grill (scrambled or fried) are a tasty and cheap staple, and some cook oatmeal for hours. Oatmeal is one of the few foods improved by sitting a long time on a steamer table and is also cheap and filling. And some diners have good coffee (for American-style coffee). And you can sit for hours and no one hassles you.

  17. yan

    Uber for pie throwing – there was a company in Spain that would let you deliver fresh fesces to any address you chose. You even had choices as to the fesces’ species, including human.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      LOL no need to submit this as a “crapification” link, it’s already the hands-down winner in that category. (I wonder what a job posting looks like for the person who fulfills orders: Faecologist wanted? Must have a fast metabolism, below average personal hygiene, and a good sense of humor)

        1. different clue

          Does it even matter? Black Bloc is happy to shelter Cointelpro violence-artists in its midst. Cointelpro is Black Bloc’s kind of people, given that Black Bloc just likes recreational violence for the fun of it.

  18. David Carl Grimes

    I watched 99 Homes last night. The people should force Obama/Geithner to watch that movie 99 times straight.

  19. Jess

    Just noticed on my calendar that there is an L.A. meetup on July 16th. That still on? Remind me on the starting time?

    1. Yves Smith

      Thanks for asking! Not July 16 (Sun) but July 15 (Sat) Very much on! Will re-announce on Sunday.

      People seem to want early, like noon or 12:30 PM to avoid the later PM traffic.

  20. allan

    Years into recovery and with full employment, U.S. wages still lag [Reuters]

    The U.S. economy is now a decade on from the start of the global financial crisis and at what most economists view as full employment, yet when it comes to wage rises, the answer seems to be forget about it.

    Government data on Friday showed that average hourly earnings in June rose just 2.5 percent on the year and have slowed in the past two quarters rather than accelerating even as workers become scarce due to continued economic strength.

    The lack of wage growth is mirrored across the developed world, most of which has staged a slower recovery than the United States. …

    International Monetary Fund data shows that across the developed world, the share of national income paid out to workers had fallen to less than 40 percent by 2015 from close to 55 percent in 1970, driven largely by technological change and globalisation. …

    “largely by”. Lest anyone accuse the reporters of being handmaidens of the .01%.

  21. ewmayer

    o “The Bezzle: “An ‘Uber for garbage’ picks up steam, and $11.7 million in Series A funding” [Tech Crunch]” — I wonder if the pompous ‘Rubicon’ is really a shortening of “Rubbish Con”? It certainly would fit. Will they have surge pricing? “I see you’re really drowning in garbage today … how about youse pay us three times the normal rate, or we just walk away?”

    o “Crapification Watch: Readers who want to send me examples can do so by using the address below and putting “crapification” in the subject line. Please make your personal account detailed and vivid!” — Not sure if this qualifies, but Asswhole Foods recently jacked the price of what started out as their version of 2-buck-Chuck, their Three Wishes low-cost wines, from $2.50 to $3 per bottle, only a few years after it jumped form $2 to 2.50. I’ve long found the 3Wishes Cabernet to be decently drinkable and perfect for cooking and mulling – that and loss-leader bananas are the only things I still buy at WF – but one more price hike will mean it’s serious time to look for alternatives.

    So Lambert, how go the ongoing terms-of-tenancy negotiations with the gray tuxedo cat? You settle on a name for the little guy yet? If not and you’re open to suggestions, how about the coloration-reflecting “Gray”, or maybe by way of capturing your intended domicile for the kitteh, “Barney”? (If it’s a she, you could always tell quizzical bystanders that it’s short for “Barnadette”. The cat itself surely won’t care about any such nomenclatural transgendering.)

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I think he should auction off the naming as a fund raising activity. First, collect several names. Say, 10. Each submission incurs a $1 submission fee. Multiple rounds to winnow the list down to 4 or 5. Then a voting round. Again, a $1 contribution for each vote. If $14, 323 is collected calling her (?) Catty McCatface, so be it. The cat won’t care and Lambert will have some money to eventually hold a weekend meeting in Atlanta. There.

      1. ewmayer

        Have the cat pay for its room and board by allowing itself to be used for blogger-supporting fundraising … Your telomeres may be wobbly but I find your thinking to be eminently sound, sir (or ma’am)!

    2. craazyboy

      The 99 cent Store has come to the rescue!
      They have a wall of selections ranging from $1.99 to $4.99!

      Tried a $3.99 red from Peru (! – they got good!) and, caveat being these are table wines you are supposed to drink with food, it was very good. Probably about the same as $8 CA reds, which have really gone down the crapper the past few years. I’ve had to go to $15 to get the same drinkability. Dunno what gets you better?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      The ancient Roman Crassus had “Uber for Fires.” He’d rush his fire trucks to a burning building, and then he’d dicker with the owner on the price to save it. Now that’s surge pricing!

      1. Daryl

        He was just disrupting the over-regulated and calcified form-a-line-to-the-well-and-pass-buckets industry.

      2. ewmayer

        Fittingly, “crassus” is the origin of our modern English “crass”, though my dictionary says the origin is from the Latin word [= solid, thick] rather than the aforementioned (in)famous holder-of-same-as-name.

        Related: since the similarly infamous Nero allowed half of Rome – disproportionately populated by Deplorables, IIRC – to burn as a perverse form of urban renewal favoring his cronies and various land-greedy oligarchs, would his economic policies deserve the term “Neroliberalism”?

  22. ambrit

    Re. the antidote:
    That looks more like a Cezanne subject. The tall spindly tree trunks in the foreground, just out of true, leaning in a bit. The convoluted “centre” of the composition being the oak. The colours are pure Cezanne. Put in a view of Mount El Escorpion, (or whatever it’s really called,) and you have an Angeleno “View of Mont Sainte-Victoire.”
    BTW, I think Cezanne would have liked Simon Rodias’ “Watts Towers.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I thought of Courbet because of the glints of light through the trees, but I think you are quite right on the composition and the coloring.

      Cezanne it is!

  23. duck1

    As far as tea goes first find a strainer for a cup or teapot. These are usually metallic or nylon mesh, should be capable of straining an Indian CTC leaf tea.
    If you live near a metropolitan zone, look up middle eastern or Euro food stores, as well as Indian food stores. The first will usually have decent whole leaf Ceylon and Assam very reasonable in boxes. Indian food stores will have Assam CTC in bags, excellent for breakfast.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I try to buy locally, but my backup source is Upton Tea in Boston, a mail order house. (I’m very fussy about tea, and also grow it.)

      Yes, your choices are much wider, and a bit more sustainable, if you can use loose tea. Personally, I use two tea pots so I can pour it off and stop it brewing. (Actually, I have a collection of maybe a dozen various pots – none all that valuable.) Note, however: both tea bags and coffee filters are highly compostable; just toss the whole thing in. the only thing that won’t compost is the tiny staple, and I’ve never actually seen one in the finished product.

      1. ambrit

        Alas, I have degenerated to the stage of using tea bags, or, more accurately, tea like material micro container units. When using the pot, I always use one spoon of tea for each drinker and one for the pot. Pour through a strainer into the cup, oh yes. I have a heavily stained “orphan” teacup saucer that holds the strainer when it’s not in use. When it’s only me, Phyl being truly Southern, looks askance at hot tea, I go the lazy way and use an in the cup single use strainer. For years I used a small “rescued” commercial, industrial green porcelain tea pot. One of those small serving amount units that the waiters bought your steeping tea bag out to the table in. (Yes purists, there is a style of service that accepts a meld of tradition, tea pot, and disruption, tea bags.)
        The tea grounds, both loose and bagged, do wonders for the rose bushes. Strong reds result.

  24. Synoia

    Privacy Badger detected 20 potential trackers on this page. These sliders let you control how Privacy Badger handles each one. You shouldn’t need to adjust them unless something is broken.

    What is NC doing? Why?

    1. ambrit

      The trackers could be from advertisers linked to the host server.
      I have incurred the ire of our esteemed hostess for squawking about ads, because, as was made quite clear and understandable, the ads help defray the costs of running the site. It’s a trade off. Now, if the Badger tracks back some of the “tracking services” to, say, Langley, Virginia, then I would worry.

  25. Synoia

    Guys, if you need money ask. What I object to is paying you money AND this surveillance.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Does the Badger show you where the trackers are coming from? they could be from other sites, eg Facebook and Google.

      1. Yves Smith

        These are trackers for advertisers. We have absolutely nada to do w/ Faceborg. Google knows much more re what you do from searches which are more revealing of your interests than the sites you visit. The search strings tell Google re intent, whereas where you wind up could be by clicking on a stupid ad by mistake (some sites virtually force that) or following a misleading link.

        And honestly, if you are worried about surveillance, I’d worry a hell of a lot more about being geolocated all the time, and using services like Apple Pay, which time stamp where you bought things (whereas if you use a credit card, all they know is that you visited the store sometime that day). And every smart device can be turned on into monitoring the audio nearby as well as turning on your camera. which means they can spy on exactly what you are up to. Having a smart device exposes you to vastly more surveillance than NC’s punky few ad trackers.

        Unless you use only a dumb phone, you are really kidding yourself as to where your exposure lies.

    2. ambrit

      Unfortunately, surveillance is part of the neo-liberal iteration of the Internet. Data is a major profit centre for Internet hosts now. As I said elsewhere, the type of surveillance is important. Paranoia is only as good as the quality of the forces that are out to get you.

  26. Oregoncharles

    ” “Telsa will build the world’s largest lithium ion battery for South Australia ”

    Big enough to keep the network running when a power station goes down, perhaps?

    And won’t THAT be a spectacular explosion. Danger pay for those who work near it?

  27. Edward E

    Re: truck ordering cycles have been disrupted over the past two years
    A lot of that also had to do with replacing old trailers. Many shippers began turning trucks away that showed up with trailers over ten years old. To get back to hauling their (generally better paying) freight they had to decrease new truck orders and dramatically increase the trailing equipment purchases for the last couple of years.

    Plus the manufacturers are trying to build enough of the new supposedly high fuel mileage automatic transmissions to satisfy future demand and that is going to take a while.

  28. John A

    Apropos crapification and coffee, Pret a Manger started going downhill when McDonalds bought a piece of it some years ago. McD later sold its stake but the crapification continues.

  29. Eureka Springs

    “Dems’ new pitch to voters: A ‘Better Deal’” [Politico]. It’s important to understand that “better” does not mean “actually good.” The very incarnation of cautious incrementalism. But don’t worry:

    Here we have it folks – Don’t let better be the enemy of good. And never define either better or good. It is beyond absurd how tone deaf and evasive in lack of anything near agency their messaging is. Would be funny if their policy weren’t so despicable. These people are utterly bereft of soul, even in their con. No shell in the game.

  30. Procopius

    Of course 17 intelligence agencies should not have to agree. There are only three, FBI, NSA, and DNI that should even know anything about the matter. The CIA might have some related input if they had some actual information, but John Brennan burned the agent (if they actually had one) in Putin’s office, so I doubt that anyone in Russia is willing to talk to them any more, and they are not supposed to have anything to do with matters in the U.S. (did the PATRIOT Act change that? If so that must be changed back at the earliest possible moment). Actually, the NSA should not know anything about it either, but the fact is they do, and if the DNC was hacked they would know. Clapper said they didn’t

Comments are closed.