2:00PM Water Cooler 8/10/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Meetup reminder: Burlington, VT Thursday, August 17 at 8:00PM; Montreal, Quebec Friday, August 18, at 6:00PM. Hope to see you there!

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“10 former U.S. ambassadors to both Mexico and Canada are angling to assert some influence over the White House ahead of the NAFTA talks, sending a letter to Trump earlier this month urging the president to recognize the importance of maintaining a stable and secure North American triumvirate for both economic and security reasons” [Politico]. “‘As former American diplomats, we have devoted much of our lives to ensuring the prosperity and security of this great nation,’ the ambassadors wrote in a letter obtained by Morning Trade on Wednesday evening. ‘NAFTA has not only created unprecedented export opportunities [for] U.S. producers, farmers, and workers, but the depth of cooperation on true, hard security issues is deep and profound and has grown following the implementation of NAFTA.'” You see this dynamic everywhere; one or another subclass of the political class coming forward to say: “We’re responsible for the last 40 years and they’ve been great!” And yes, they are, but no, they haven’t been, at least not for those who have “had it” (in Gaius Publius’s on-the-money phrase).


New Cold War

Massive, inflatable chicken with orange hair is staring down the White House CBS. And the context:

“Stand up to Putin.” Great. War fever (and the tax thing is just stupid, as NC readers know).

“No one knows if Trump’s strategy can change Beijing’s calculus, but his willingness to use force on the peninsula is credible in ways Obama’s and Bush’s were not. His unpredictability and impulsiveness make the threat seem more credible. So does his economic nationalism, which makes his threats to the Chinese economy believable” [RealClearPolitics]. Mad man theory is alive and well, then. Then this: “The underlying problem is that the Kim family regime is unpredictable and unstable, and, under its current leader, Kim Jong-un, it is even more so.” This is conventional, but I would like to be sure that we aren’t simply reading our own press releases, and buying into our own propaganda campaign of demonization. One word for “family regime” is dynasty. Another word for “family regime” is gang (see, e.g., The Godfather). Both dynasties and gangs are suspectible to analysis and prediction (even those with deified leaders). For one thing, given that national leaders who give up or lose their WMDs tend to be killed by the United States (Qadaffi; Saddam), Kim could simply be trying to preserve his own life, which is entirely rational. And it’s not as if George W. Bush didn’t telegraph his intentions by making North Korea part of the “axis of Evil.” So it would be nice if the current crisis didn’t culminate in the Mother of All Blowbacks.

“Trump’s Legal Team Is No Match for Mueller’s” [Bloomberg]. “Trump’s efforts to enlist the services of a large firm have so far been rebuffed. White-collar experts at three high-powered firms, Sullivan & Cromwell, Steptoe & Johnson, and Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, have turned him down, say two people familiar with the matter. Some firms had conflicts that prevented them from taking the job; others worried that Trump wouldn’t follow legal advice, potentially damaging their firms’ reputation, two people said.” Or Big Law wants Trump out.

Trump Transition

“Rarely in U.S. history has a clutch of senior brass played such an outsize role in the affairs of state as they do now. The President’s chief of staff, his Defense Secretary James Mattis and his National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster are all either active-duty or retired generals. What makes the arrangement all the more interesting is that the three men are not only friends but longtime allies. Two of the three are Marines, and when you add Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs (who, with Kelly, served under Mattis), it is safe to say the scrappy Marine Corps has never had so much clout in the chain of command” [Time]. Musical interlude

2016 Post Mortem

“Whitewashing the working class” [Context]. This is an interesting symposium from June that I missed because I wasn’t watching this source then (unusually, it’s all on one page, so keep scrolling down). I don’t agree with all of it, but Katherine J. Cramer is always worth a read.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“[I]f Republicans have increasingly little incentive to tolerate Trump, he may make the same calculation about the GOP, the party’s conservative policy agenda, and the conservative movement as a whole” [Weekly Standard]. Pass the popcorn.

“Messy internecine fighting is also unnecessary. Democrats are being pulled inexorably to the left by broader trends in American politics and society, and if the two camps don’t realize, soon, that they desperately need each other to gain and then effectively wield power, they may both lose” [The Week]. This looks, to me, like the “wait for demographics to do the job” theory behind the so-called Obama Coaltion. How’s that workin’ out for ya? “The Democratic Party is a large, diverse coalition — what political scientists refer to as a ‘catch-all party.’ Otto Kirchheimer, the political scientist who coined the term in an influential 1966 paper, said that ‘a party large enough to get a majority has to be so catch-all that it cannot have a unique ideological program.’ Such organizations may adjust their platforms and positions to appeal to the largest number of voters and therefore gain power. Infighting between the various power centers in the party is therefore not a temporary, regrettable outcome of the 2016 primary, but rather a built-in feature of our politics. There will always be factions.”

First, if there will “always be factions,” then where do “desperately need each other” and the call for unity fit in? Second, there’s enormous and “messy” “internecine” fighting in the Republican Party, which has crippled them so badly they control all three branches of the Federal government and are within striking distance of controlling 34 states and initiating an Amendments Convention. Finally, some factions are born, but others are made: Specifically, the Blue Dogs, who were chosen by Democrat mandarins like Rahm Emmanuel to keep the party in Third Way mode, after they dismembered Dean’s 50-state strategy and and defenestrated Dean. Anyhow, if the Democrat Establishment wanted to avoid “messy” “internecine fighting” they would have given the left a sop by putting Ellison in charge of the DNC. They wouldn’t even do that. Oh, and now the Agenda:

Activists across the spectrum should be taking their cues from the leadership of Indivisible, the group of former Hill staffers who wrote the Indivisible Guide and who have helped organize a national movement to push back against the GOP agenda.

Lambert here: Stuff and nonsense. Indivisible — unlike Sanders and Our Revolution — studiously used #SaveTheACA to suppress #MedicareForAll. In what sense, then, are they “natural allies” of the left? The left should use Indivisible’s excellent technocratic manuals on how to communicate with elected officials — who better to know this than staffers — and throw away the Beltway-based Indivisible leadership’s message entirely. (No knock on local chapters; you do what you can where you can.)

“If At First Democrats Don’t Succeed, Try The Third Way Again” [ShadowProof]. Clintonite retreads secure funding, film at 11.

“How Identity Became A Weapon Against The Left” [Current Affairs]. “To ignore identity is to ignore injustice. Yet there are risks to viewing the world through the prism of identity. If people are defined by their demographic characteristics, they can be reduced to those characteristics in a way that obscures differences within groups. If “identity” becomes synonymous with “perspective,” dissenting members within the identity group risk having their viewpoints erased and their humanity diminished. And when used cynically, as a political weapon, a simplistic view of identity can allow people of a particular political faction to wrongly imply that they speak for all members of their racial or gender group… The “Bernie Bro” mythology—that progressives are almost exclusively white, male, and young—will not die, no matter how often women and people of color try to speak up to disprove it. In all the words spilled about the uninterrupted whiteness of Sanders supporters, prominent ‘Bros’ like Rosario Dawson, Ben Jealous, Pramila Jayapal, Eddie Glaude, Spike Lee, Lisa Ling, Killer Mike, Cornel West, and Nina Turner went largely unmentioned.” Not to mention Sanders advisor Adolph Reed.

Lambert here: Note the political aspect: Without their firewall in the South, liberal Democrats got nuthin’, which explains their “any stick to beat a dog” zeal to defend it. Hence liberalism can be reduced, without loss of generality, to neoliberalism; its vaunted “justice” component is so inconsistently applied and driven by faction as to be meaningless. If you want an example, look no further then liberal abandonment of vast swaths of the country to “deaths of despair.”

UPDATE “The Kamala Harris Controversy Reveals the Erasure of Leftist Women by Pseudo-Woke Liberals” [Paste]. “Universal programs like single payer health care or even economic justice itself are discredited as inherently racist and sexist. Using the language of social justice, these liberals punch left at the very programs and policies that empower the people they claim to champion.” Full of gruesome tweets!

UPDATE “Steve McMahon, a Democratic consultant who advised Howard Dean, the Vermont governor, when he ran for president in 2004, compared what is happening with Democrats in California to the Tea Party’s emergence in heavily Republican districts in 2010” [New York Times] “Mr. McMahon said these struggles would probably move the party to the left, with one immediate result: Democrats in places like California will come under increasing pressure to support single-payer health care, much the same way opposition to the Iraq war, a central issue for Mr. Dean, became a litmus test issue for Democrats in 2004.”

Stats Watch

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), July 2017: “Lack of inflation has been the issue this year but July’s producer price report raises new concerns, that is disinflation” [Econoday]. “Prices this year, in part reflecting lack of wage traction, have been unusually weak and if tomorrow’s consumer price report proves no better than today’s wholesale price report, doubts over Federal Reserve intentions to further remove stimulus, including the initiation of balance sheet unwinding, will very likely build.” And: “The data overall will continue to dampen expectations of higher inflation in the economy with very little evidence of upward pressure on costs at this stage. There will be little pressure for the Federal Reserve to consider a policy tightening based on the PPI data” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “The Producer Price Index is now on a noticeable moderation cycle – with most components declining year-over-year. My only conclusion is that generally there is an overabundance of goods and services – despite the Fed’s insistence the USA is near full employment” [Econintersect]. And but: “All in all, this was the worst wholesale inflation number in 11 months. It’s one thing to be talking about prices not rising enough for the Fed target, but it’s entirely different to be having the deflationary bias again” [247 Wall Street].

Jobless Claims, week of August 5, 2017: “Demand for labor is the economy’s big strength, evident in the latest jobless claims data where initial claims for the August 5 week came in little changed” [Econoday]. “All the readings in this report are at historic lows as employers hold on as tightly as possible to their existing staffs. There are no special factors in today’s report and no states were estimated.” And: “The 4-week moving average was unchanged at 1.965mn with a halting of the upward drift seen over the past few weeks” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of August 6, 2017: “The consumer comfort index, which had softened noticeably in July, rose sharply” [Econoday]. “Strength in consumer confidence ultimately points to strength in the labor market.”

Debt: “In the first quarter of 2017, household debt outstanding reached $12.7 trillion, beating the peak set back in 2008 before the precipitous fall not long after” [247 Wall Street]. “For a point of perspective, household debt outstanding in the first quarter is larger than China’s economy, or nearly four times that of Germany’s.”

Shipping: “Finally! A field guide for container-spotters” [DC Velocity]. “Visitors to wildlife sanctuaries or nature preserves can take along a handy bird book or wildflower guide for help identifying the local flora and fauna. But what if your interests run more to infrastructure and logistics? Where do you turn for help identifying the colorful shipping containers you see stacked up on ships, in intermodal yards, and on the docks? The answer is The Container Guide, a 140-page pocket-sized waterproof field guide to shipping containers and the corporations that own them.”

The Bezzle: “The pre-fabbed meal delivery service has managed to hit yet another post-IPO low after its first earnings report as a public company. Some of the issues here may be seasonal, but the reality is that Blue Apron has become an eyesore to its investors” [247 Wall Street]. “This company came public too late, and it was right at the same time that Amazon and Whole Foods were tying up and right before more news of meal kits being prepped for delivery by Amazon. And if you watched the CNBC video interview with Blue Apron’s CEO immediately after coming public you might have been challenged to keep up with counting all the new-age feel-good business terms that sound so nice and cute but that can become jargon and a masking tool for expenses or excuses for potential sales misses ahead.” Term with which NC readers who follow The Bezzle are quite familiar….

The Bezzle: “US Postal System Continues to March Backward” [247 Wall Street]. Better headline: “Neoliberal Long Con to Destroy Public Goods Still in Play.” I bet a Post Office Bank would spruce that balance sheet right up. Not that an institution providing a universal concrete material benefit should be assessed with metrics appropriate to a private firm.

The Bezzle: “[Indiana’s privatized interstate I-69’s] troubles come as more cash-strapped states explore deals with the private sector to back delayed infrastructure projects, and as talks advance in Washington about the potential for private investment in infrastructure. The results in Indiana are a ‘black eye’ for such plans, one backer concedes, and highlight the difficulties such public-private partnerships face in meeting public needs. Still, Indiana is going ahead with other similar deals, even as the state moves without its private partner to get I-69 built” [Wall Street Journal]. Ka-ching.

UPDATE Five Horsemen: “Amazon and Alphabet: how the mighty have fallen!” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Aug 10

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear (previous close: 54, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 59 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Aug 10 at 12:09pm. The Hamptons are not a defensible position…

Police State Watch

Even the children…


“New Orleans Floods Despite Having a Properly Working Drainage System” [Governing]. Lots of information for urban flooding geeks…

Class Warfare

“Conservatives mad over the Google memo censorship should end their century-long war on unions” [Mic]. “But there’s no need for a culture war when there are concrete legal and institutional methods of solving this alleged crisis directly. If conservatives are convinced there is an escalating assault on their ability to express their opinions in the workplace, they could start by ending their war on the most powerful mechanism for protecting them: unions…. [Just cause] is a clause in a union contract wherein firing someone without proving that they failed to perform essential, work-related duties — say, for expressing a political opinion — is a breach of contract.”

“Collecting trash is one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. In fact, garbage workers are far more likely to die on the job than police officers or professional firefighters” [Governing]. “The legislative push [for “Slow Down to Get Around” laws] comes at a time when fatality rates for trash workers are on the rise: They hit their highest point in a decade in 2015, the last year for which federal data is available. Not all of those on-the-job deaths were caused by traffic crashes, but some say that risk is rising because of distracted driving.”

“”Middle-class” America encompasses households with two-thirds to double the national median, according to Pew Research Center. While that makes up roughly half of American households, it’s a shrinking group — from 2000 to 2014, middle-class populations decreased in 203 of the 229 metropolitan areas reviewed in a Pew study” [Business Insider]. “While the average household income for the wealthiest 20% of Americans grew by about 60% from 1980 to 2015, the rest of America has significantly lagged behind. The mean income of the lowest-earning 20% grew by just 10% in the same time period.” Interesting detail on how Walmart’s retail strategy reflects this/

“The bonus puzzle” [Lars P. Syll]. “If bonus or ‘incentive pay’ schemes work so well for senior executives and bankers, why does everyone not get them?” A guestion that answers itself, once asked…

“It might seem intuitive that the participation rate for the older workers would have declined the fastest. But exactly the opposite has been the case. The chart below illustrates the growth of the LFPR for six age 50-plus cohorts since the turn of the century. The chart below divides them into five-year cohorts from ages 50 through 74 and an open-ended age 75 and older. The pattern is clear: The older the cohort, the greater the growth. Interestingly, the 70-74 cohort LFPR was in decline from 2013 through the end of 2015 but saw a striking uptick in 2016 that has continued into 2017. This movement is more prominent for women as seen in the chart at the end of this article” [Advisor Perspectives].

“I Worked in a Strip Club in a North Dakota Fracking Boomtown” [Mother Jones]. Life in the colonies…

News of the Wired

“Note to employees from CEO Sundar Pichai” [Google].

“Lise Meitner’s Devastating Letter to Otto Hahn” [RealClearPolitics]. Another letter on a different topic.

“Memories of Living in the ‘Deep State'” [The American Conservative]. “I still haven’t explained what I disliked most about my Washington suburban domicile, which ran off a congested onetime country road with the misleadingly bucolic name of Tuckerman Lane. The worst part of this residential experience were my neighbors, who with few exceptions, identified themselves with this sentence: ‘I work for our government.’ Those who uttered this were stiff and arrogant and almost always pronounced themselves for the ‘Left,’ or for whatever was fashionably leftist at the time…. Most of their houses were bungalows and located in developments or sub-developments, but what these neighbors lacked in emoluments, they made up in chutzpah. Just as our Deplorables rightly suspect, these ‘public servants’ loathed gun owners, religious Christians, and the residents of fly-over country. Their fellow-citizen were there to be ‘regulated,’ and these experts hoped to make all economic transactions rational and humane. In all the time I spent in their midst, I never perceived any of these neighbors sitting on a front porch. One usually had to reach them by phone or by leaving messages on an intercom system.”

“[U]nlike T. S. Eliot, whose allusive, multilingual poems established his individuality against the European canon, Ammons defined himself explicitly as an American poet writing of American places and American people. His goal, it seemed, was to reinvent lyric poetry for contemporary America” [Harpers]. “In place of Whitman’s terrestrial, geographic idea of poetic structure, Ammons adopted a geometric one, drawing on forms such as crystals and spheres. With each new volume, he revealed a surprising phase of creative experimentation. He had the rare good luck of remaining a striking poet into old age, revealing in every decade fresh and original impressions on social, cultural, and personal phenomena.”

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “So, the attachment is a Dahlia at South Coast Botanic Garden in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. Feel free to crop as needed of course.”

Now there’s a religious issue!

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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. craazyboy

    NYT New News!

    Paul Krugman and Thomas L, Freidman had a amicable, yet serious persons falling out over MMT Theory. Paul asserted “pfft”, loudly, while making a face. Freidman countered, gently and safely, making a face where he crosses his eyes and sticks his thumbs in his ears and waggles his fingers with somewhat energetic vigor.

    Freidman has taken the public and official position that his view is a metaphor, kinda like Jeff Bezos is a cheap, billionaire CEO turned King, bent on using the WAPO as a yellow rag into which the CIA blows colorful snot.

    Alternatively, much like Alternative, yet fake, news, it could be a metaphor for a big, cuddly brown dog surrounded by smelly, yellow flowers. News is much like Language.

    Furthermore, Freidman committed to further theoretical support by releasing an animated GIF of his funny face and also using a large fan to blow up his Scotish Kilt with fake print up over his waist exposing his squirrely little nuts and his pet Red Squirrel , “Chipper”.

    This makes his fans curl their toes, which they find quite enjoyable!

    In completely separate, but clandestinely funded, News ……..

    Virtual Joshua Tree University – San Antonio Campus

    Free and Easy! Make up your own study plan and sluggishly follow thru until completion, at your own pace! Students may say “when”, when they’ve had enough and plan to move on with their lives, or many opt to stay put in their safe place indeterminantly.

    Students are encouraged to major in anything they want, by our lethargic, hugely obese staff. Self Driving Motorized Scooters available on request!

    Student Commencement Ceremony is planned for Scotish Independance Day, every year, coincidently on Cinco My Yada Yada Yada – the same day when Mexico kicked out France and got taken over by Spain again.

    Coupons are accepted, pre-shredded and approved for landfill disposal – or mounting in a Stamp Book, if enrolled in the MMT “Green Debt-Money Flowless Container” Cirriculum. Additionally, CIA Approved Reese’s Pieces. These are accepted in the Student Cafeteria for Special Bonus Static Money Supply Pieces, during the “Closed Session” Study Hall Period, late at night. Students love destroying these! BYOB.

    Team Blue Reese’s Pieces are valid money for Draft Duty, and a Campus Gun will be issued to all, regardless of race, creed, or color. Most of the pieces are Blue, you’ll find, and the CIA never lies about important stuff.

    Women are required to sign up, and bring some sensible shoes!

      1. craazyboy

        Been watching all the Blacks Sails episodes on tv. Finished season 4, watching 2-3 episodes a night!

        This is the most complex, interesting, convoluted show ever – even slightly eclipsing GOT. The strategy, tactics, land and sea battle scenes, etc…are to die for ! hahahahahahaha

        Great actors and on site shooting too.

        It’s a prequel to the old Long John Silver novel. Fantastic pirate story leading up to the Revolutionary War with the Brits.

        It’s insightful how democratic like the pirate culture was, sorta communists, everyone got a “share” o’ the booty. There was no money – the booty is the money. Then some applied capitalism – the secret pirate island Guverness traded bootie for goods and or money with Brit and colonial elites – and the pirates just exchanged their loot for goods and services and money, for it’s store of value. (didn’t last long – hos, booze, and treasure chests were unreliable, location wise.)

        And Whorehouses! Shows that have a whorehouse and hottie whores servicing pirates always get an extra rating point from me!

        Highly recommended.

              1. Mike Mc

                This was true decades ago as well – traded at least one mid 60s Ford Econoline and one mid 70s Honda motorcycle for firearms in the early 1980s. Titles for the vehicles but not the rifles and pistols. Midwestern semi-poor white trash almost but not quite college boys om both ends of the deals.

            1. Watt4Bob

              A close friend now deceased, a Viet Nam veteran, told me of once having a job unloading AK47 ammo from what he described as a CIA ship in Viet Nam.

              He said the bullets, millions of them, were basically worth at least a buck apiece.

              The way he explained it, the ammo was used to ‘buy’ intel, and to bribe the Vietnamese, of course the ammo found its way to the enemy.

              He said he hated the thought that this ammo was killing his friends, but he understood the process.

              This worked because ‘money’ was dangerous in that it marked the person as a possible collaborator, and next to useless to the VC, but ammunition on the other hand was extremely useful as a medium of exchange.

              1. JTMcPhee

                Around where I was in Vietnam in 1967-8, you were not allowed to keep trophy weapons — AKs, SKSs, Tokarev pistols and knockoffs, stuff like that. That “fragging” thing had started, and the Brass preferred to be able to trace who shot LT Frank, or Sgt. Pr!ck… They were kept in the supply tent. The supply sergeant had a nice income stream from selling these back “on the economy.” He was found in a ditch with his throat cut — speculation focused on either some of the First Cav grunts finding out about it and doing some self-help, to “gooks” relieving him of a pile of weapons and declining to pay for them…

                Of course there was a steady trickling of such weapons back to the states — one guy in my squad packed a disassembled AK in a crate with an Akai tape deck, two expensive speakers and a Japanese tuner and amplifier. Used marijuana for cushioning. Sealed it all nine ways from nowhere in heavy plastic and “500 mile an hour tape,” and off it went. He was a nervous Nellie (how many federal crimes committed in that transaction?) until his family reported the package had been received in good order…

                All this, of course, was just part of the corruption and sickness of that thing we call “war.” While not far away, the CIA assassins of the Phoenix Program were doing what they did:

                Reported torture Edit
                Methods of reported torture that author Douglas Valentine wrote were used at the interrogation centers included:

                Rape, gang rape, rape using eels, snakes, or hard objects, and rape followed by murder; electric shock (‘the Bell Telephone Hour’) rendered by attaching wires to the genitals or other sensitive parts of the body, like the tongue; the ‘water treatment’; the ‘airplane’ in which the prisoner’s arms were tied behind the back, and the rope looped over a hook on the ceiling, suspending the prisoner in midair, after which he or she was beaten; beatings with rubber hoses and whips; the use of police dogs to maul prisoners (quoted in Blakely).[17]

                Military intelligence officer K. Barton Osborne reports that he witnessed the following use of torture:

                The use of the insertion of the 6-inch dowel into the canal of one of my detainee’s ears, and the tapping through the brain until dead. The starvation to death (in a cage), of a Vietnamese woman who was suspected of being part of the local political education cadre in one of the local villages…The use of electronic gear such as sealed telephones attached to…both the women’s vaginas and men’s testicles [to] shock them into submission.[18]

                The reported torture was carried out by South Vietnamese forces with the CIA and special forces playing a supervisory role.[19]

                Targeted killings Edit
                Phoenix operations often aimed to assassinate targets, or resulted in their deaths through other means. PRU units often anticipated resistance in disputed areas, and often operated on a shoot-first basis.[20] Innocent civilians were also sometimes killed. William Colby claimed that the program never sanctioned the “premeditated killing of a civilian in a non-combat situation,” and other military personnel stated that capturing NLF members was more important than killing them.[13][21][22][23] Lieutenant Vincent Okamoto, an intelligence-liaison officer for the Phoenix Program for two months in 1968 and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross said the following:[24][25]

                The problem was, how do you find the people on the blacklist? It’s not like you had their address and telephone number. The normal procedure would be to go into a village and just grab someone and say, ‘Where’s Nguyen so-and-so?’ Half the time the people were so afraid they would not say anything. Then a Phoenix team would take the informant, put a sandbag over his head, poke out two holes so he could see, put commo wire around his neck like a long leash, and walk him through the village and say, ‘When we go by Nguyen’s house scratch your head.’ Then that night Phoenix would come back, knock on the door, and say, ‘April Fool, motherfucker.’ Whoever answered the door would get wasted. As far as they were concerned whoever answered was a Communist, including family members. Sometimes they’d come back to camp with ears to prove that they killed people. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_Program

                I know, it’s just that Commie organ called Wikipedia… But America is truly exceptional…

                1. MDBill

                  Sometimes they’d come back to camp with ears to prove that they killed people.

                  Shades of “Blood Meridian” wherein the Glanton Gang, during the mid 1800s, excised the scalp of any swarthy looking Mexican local in order to assure a bounty payment.

                  The more things change…

                2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                  As painful as it is to read I think it’s a requirement to list and expose what we actually do versus what we say we do.

                  Only then is there a chance to build a universal moral revulsion at our violent and bloodthirsty culture that is so very normalized across Hollywood, “games”, policing, foreign policy, and human relations generally.

                  I still think a “Peace” candidate, who never deviated from that singular message, would be a winner.

            2. Dave D'Rave

              I actually had a minor discussion of that with various Rednecks.
              The consensus is that 9mm is the best ammo to use as money,
              followed by 7.62×39. Interestingly, they did not seem to think that
              5.56mm would serve as cash. (.45ACP and .30-06 are not even
              on the radar any more.)

                1. JTMcPhee

                  Almost all handgun owners have at least one 9mm pistol, and the round also fuels quite a number of other more exotic weapons. It’s the military’s selected caliber. It’s metric, and used universally across the planet in gun-space.

                  Maybe you’ve read the reporting on the billions of rounds the guvmint through DHS has bought and stockpiled, including hollow point dum-dum ammo. https://www.rt.com/usa/dhs-ammo-investigation-napolitano-645/

                  Maybe this is actually a pre-collapse central bank activity. Store of value? Attempt to corner the market? Just a corrupt gift to the ammo manufacturers? So many speculations, so little time..,

                2. ambrit

                  JTMcPhee is right. 9mm is the ‘glamour’ ammo. For stopping power, .45 or .40 calibre are better. Many police forces have moved to using .40 calibre ammo. Many Sub Machine Guns use 9mm. Less recoil from a 9mm means more shots can be ‘comfortably’ be fired. A .45 will let your hand and wrist know that you’ve been ‘exercising’ your 2nd Amendment “Rights.”
                  Because of ease of use, many “Ladies Guns” will chamber in 9mm. The old style “Purse Gun” was usually in .25 or .32 calibre. Now a “Purse Gun” can often be in 9mm.
                  Ammo Porn is but a subset of Gun Porn in general.

                  1. polecat

                    EVERYTHING is ‘porn’ to the user/abuser … just a matter of which monkey, or tree-full, one want’s to shoulder !!

                    Crarry On … with our irregularly-schedualed communibation .. !

          1. pricklyone

            Not really, this is barter. Trading commodities tor other commodities, explicitly without the use of money (currency).
            Gold, also, is a commodity, just like copper pipe, doggy doors, and accounting services.
            I live in fairly rural US area, and people have always bartered stuff they could spare for that which they needed.
            The only thing new, in my view, is doing it PUBLICALLY, AND LOUDLY, presumably to make a political statement of some sort.

        1. skippy

          Pirates were like the various alphabet fighters in their day, in say Syria. Just the BSD hiving off risk when attempting to spoil someone else party.

          When the dust settles after the BSD’s make another pact, the pirates get the flick, can’t have them around as honest business people conduct trade deals. Those that reform themselves can stick around, useful, those that don’t…. wellie…

          1. craazyboy

            Politics – and one’s Freedom status – were also wrapped up in it.

            Slavery resulted in the Islands being the accepted storage place for the mostly Euro Elite run slave trade. The lucky ones were captured along with the Euro ships. Oftentimes they joined the pirate crew – as full equals! The rest went to pirate run Nassau and formed a tribe inland and grew food. They bartered with the Guverness for supplies, tho need little, but would take gold and pretty jewels for the girls. They bred, like, say, rabbits and soon the population grew to a thousand or more. This finally was the reserve army that partnered, as equals again, with the pirates against the Brits.

            As far as the guvments in Britain and the colonies, they looked the other way as long as everyone was making big bucks from the slave trade. The merchants bore the brunt of lost ships, crews, and plunder.

        2. HopeLB

          My mother too, shares your tv taste!!! (I’ve been telling her to at least seek out your prose/poetry/lyrics in the comments section (as a mood enhancer) even though she hates Bernie/hates anything critical of Republicans/neoliberals/neocons, admires Ayn Rand and hates NC.) She gave me a hand written list of Must See Shows in order of quality and Black Sails topped it. I’ll have to ask her about her particular (subconscious?) fondness for hottie whores servicing pirates and how much of a part she thinks they played in her Best Show designation.

          1. craazyboy

            Dr. Shrink has heartily suggested I get my bad thoughts out this way – in public!

            It cleanses the Mood.

            Your Mother has fine taste. Congrates in your choice of Mother. I hope your Father had a similar chance to choose. (Sadie Hawkins Day, and all.)

            There are a bunch of really good tv series out now. American Gods is great. Most bizarre series evah! Also, FARGO. Twisted and dark beyond belief. Master of Dark Humor. Perfect examples of why Rednecks and Dagos must be exported, immediately.

            Your children will thank us, and vote, when old enough. At least once.

            This has become a major source of frivolously wasting time for me!

            1. HopeLB

              Thought you were busy learning an instrument/style (blues guitar?) and/or converting all of your trousers and knickers to kilts so you could sing, fully kilted, your tilted, poetic, lyrics out in public places (the commons) while self-musically accompanying them and maybe gaining a few pence in the Tam o’ shanter to boot! (Tam o’ shanter! What a hoot.)
              Thanks (!) for the recommendations even if mom already listed them further down.
              Someone should make a scifi/ time travel based series in which people on opposite sides of the political spectrum hunt each other down, The Most Dangerous Game style, like Karl Marx hunting Ayn Rand or Eugene Debs hunting Milton Friedman. Have each side win sometimes and show what ensues afterward in a 2 minute musical(possibly your blue guitar?) montage, but always have the resulting policies lead to a utopia in every episode! Then people will watch and can even, more importantly, watch with their Trump/Pence loving parents.

              1. craazyboy

                Here’s a fav – Jeff Beck merging rock and blues! One of the best!

                So far, I’m not specializing. This takes lots of repetition to be able to learn long songs of many notes, spread all over the guitar. So I play lots of different tunes maybe 10 times then on to another. I can only do it maybe 15-20 minutes. Got my electronic effects box too. Playing with that. They all use effects, at least “sustain” and a bit of echo. I have my short list of tunes I hope to be able to play whole.


                I don’t like Kilts! Cold air blowing up my dress does not make me fell free and airy. It makes me feel insecure, a little bit unassertive, and shy around women!

          2. Eclair

            Do share your mom’s list with us, HopeLB. Seriously. TV/Movies are such an insidiously marvelous propaganda medium/weaver of cultural narrative, that we should all be aware of what our friends, neighbors and family members are watching and learning.

            And we all need a good binge-watch now and then.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        Indeed. That is beneath this site. And I say that as a strong supporter of BDS and strong critic of the apartheid state of Israel.

        Come on, man. You’re better than that. At least you should be.

      2. Massinissa

        Honestly, I’m not even certain I know what that phrase is even supposed to mean, but I assume its racist.

        1. craazyboy

          The beauty of it is, it mean absolutely nothing! Nada. Just yada, yada, yada!

          It’s a phrase where you read it and your mind just goes, wtf?!

          I’m busting my balls laughing because I just got three hits here, proving my theory.

          This place is fun.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Teddy was gross too, if you look him up! As to craazyboy touching a Third Way Rail nerve, well the obvious thing to do is BAN HIM BAN HIM BAN HIM BAN HIM KICK HIM OUT OF THE CLUB! KILL THE PIG AND DRINK HIS BLOOD! PURITY! OF THOUGHT, INTENT AND ACTION! IT’S THE ONLY WAY WE CAN STAY TOGETHER! IN PURSUING ACTUAL MEANINGFUL BENEFITS (TM)!

          1. TK421

            Maybe it means nothing to you. If all you want is attention, then go accuse people of being gay in the YouTube comments section, where ou’ll find plenty of idiots who appreciate your style. Stop polluting Naked Capitalism.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              There is deep wisdom in irreverence.
              I think it fits here quite nicely.

              (bows and deeply acknowledges it is not my site nor place to say what fits here quite nicely or not!)

            2. justanotherprogressive

              I think it is important to remember that we are all guests at this table and it is up to the hosts, not us, to determine who they want at their party.

              I for one enjoy craazyboy’s sardonic wit…..

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It’s a phrase where you read it and your mind just goes, wtf?!

            There’s transgressive, and then there’s just stupid.

            You’ve been using craazyman’s brand, and I’m not enthusiastic about that either.

            Watch it.

      3. Jean

        For real. I usually scroll right past craazy’s comments, so thank you for alerting the — hello?

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Rut-roh! It’s the identity po-po!

          Everybody stop laughing! This is getting serious!

          Seriously people…it’s craazyboy. He don’t mean no harm. :)

          1. Octopii

            It’s over the line. There are too many news/blog sites I no longer read because of that crap. And I’m as much a BDS fan as anyone.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              Which line?
              Who’s line?

              Opinions and perspectives…I prefer the one about the 1st Amendment. And the one that denies anyone but the site owner the right to censor, condemn, and generally be overly sensitive to obvious yet distasteful satire/parody/nonsense.
              Read the man’s posts. (sorry craazyboy, if you’re a girl!)
              Consistent and consistently bad mockery. Sometimes has a point you’ll probably agree with.

              And jeezus, why am I defending a poster I rarely can make it thru his/her posts?

              Well… because I’m not a big fan of demanded conformity to reverence.

              1. Yves Smith

                I’m really sorry but I had a very distracted day and therefore saw this thread only now.

                Craazyboy’s comment was unacceptable on multiple levels, not just the slur but highjacking the thread with his own bullshit. Threadjacking is a violation of our site Policies. Even though Craazyman also goes off on riffs, he starts with a real world event. And he does not do it at the top of a thread and thus drive the direction of all the comments.

                He’s denigrating the site and I won’t have it. 4Chan is over there.

  2. Savonarola

    Big law isn’t monolithic as far as politics goes, at least outside of a very small inner circle. NO, this is the one thing that Big Law firms can all agree on — this is the ultimate three witches of the legal profession: conflicts, bad client, and bad payment history.

    Conflicts make lawyers turn down business all the time. No choice – you just have to do it. But why would anyone take on a client with a horrible history of not TAKING legal advice? What a nightmare. You have to go through a noisy withdrawal. . .why go through all that for somebody who stiffs people he owes money to?

    Remember how partners in big law get paid. You eat what you kill. If he doesn’t pay, he’s all liability for the firm and no benefit. He’s spent his whole life making himself unrepresentable.

    1. JTMcPhee

      When I worked for a Big Firm (that has since been engulfed by a Bigger Firm, a process the predoator firm likely will succumb to itself, eventually), there was a “conflicts committee” that stayed pretty busy obtaining waivers from clients to “get around” those supposedly Red Line, Black Letter Rules against conflicts of interest. Between Chinese Walls and “reasonably believes’ and carefully and artfully drafted waiver documents, it sure seemed to this lowly associate that the hard-and-fast conflicts rule (which today is far different from the one I learned in 1975) is more of a squishy ball of mud… So from what I have seen, the “no choice” notion is no longer operative…The decision not to take on a client on the basis of a “conflict” was more often a matter of justifying a preference, or squashing the billables of some disfavored “fellow partner.”

      [Query– why are they still called “partners?” The vast majority of these blobettes are LLCs or similar structures, where unlike in the Good Old Days of plain old Robber Barons and such, the partners were legally bound to eat the cost of injuries and liabilities created by any one of them, so the “partners” actually had to police each others’ behavior. Not the rule in any way, under these self-protective new forms of “ownership…” ]

      And what? Partners in White Shoe firms raking in millions every year can’t “afford” to do a little pro-bono representation of a needy client…? Because it’s not like Superlawyers don’t take on the most obnoxious, irreverent, and murderous of clients, both natural and corporate persons, so any notion that “distastefulness” of people like the Prez would justify not signing him up is kind of silly…

      Nothing is forever, of course — the tale of Isham Lincoln & Beale is illustrative: http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1988-04-09/business/8803070710_1_firm-sonnenschein-carlin-nath-richard-marcus :

      Isham Lincoln & Beale, Chicago`s second-oldest law firm and one of its more prominent, will dissolve April 30 in the wake of internal tumult and defections that stymied the city`s largest law firm merger.

      Richard Marcus, a well-known labor attorney and firm partner, confirmed Friday the decision to liquidate by month`s end an enterprise founded in 1872 by Edward Isham, son of a Vermont Supreme Court justice, and Robert Todd Lincoln, son of Abraham Lincoln.

      “This has been a trying experience and one of the most regrettable results I`ve seen in my life,“ said Marcus, who will lead a small group of attorneys in joining the Loop firm of Sonnenschein Carlin Nath & Rosenthal.

      “It certainly indicates how transitory human organizations are and how important it is to be mindful of the human fabric,“ said Max Wildman, lead partner in another major Chicago law firm, Wildman Harrold Allen & Dixon.

      “With such distinguished lineage, it`s most regrettable.“

      No honor among thieves…

    2. Art Eclectic

      I’d be not at all surprised if “not paying his bills” were 90% of the reason. Nobody wants to commit that many hours and end up stiffed, which Trump is well known for doing. If you’re going to spend an enormous amount of time banging your head on the desk in frustration you need to sure the payoff is there.

      1. edmondo

        They couldn’t care less if they bang their heads on the desk AS LONG AS the payoff is there. Nothing gets you banned like non-payment of “earned” compensation.

  3. Mark Gisleson

    Not a fan of unionizing white collar workers. Primary purpose of unions is to protect wages and ensure safe working conditions. Neither is an issue for Google workers with whom I do not feel the slightest degree of solidarity.

    Professionals could form guilds and police themselves like doctors and lawyers do. No, they don’t do that well, but swelling the ranks of the AFL-CIO with people at risk of nothing more serious than a paper cut dilutes the real strength of unions: their ability to protect workers from dangerous working conditions.

    1. Altandmain

      Most white collar workers are not rich Googlers making 6 figure or more salaries.

      Being middle class is the reality for most white collar workers. So too is being precariously employed.

      I think that there are uses for white collar unions.

    2. Daryl

      Tech companies have massive, massive cash reserves, ethics problems, etc.

      Unions are potentially one way to begin some redistribution of that money towards political causes other than ALEC or whatever and address those issues. Perhaps instead of thinking about it as protecting tech workers (who are certainly subject to exploitation albeit unlikely to die in an industrial accident) you could think of it as beginning to protect the rest of us from tech companies.

    3. jrs

      teachers should not have unions either, am I right? It would seem to follow. Yea google employees may be privileged and not particularly sypmathetic, but of course google doesn’t represent most white collar work, or actually even most tech work for that matter.

  4. voteforno6

    Re: Memories of Living in the ‘Deep State’

    There’s a lot that’s so wrong about this article, quite a bit of which is pointed out in the comments section. In particular, I find it to be quite odd how the author complained about the uniformity of D.C., without seeming to realize just how many African Americans live there…it’s almost like he doesn’t realize that they exist. Maybe he should have ventured outside the suburbs, to get a better taste of what the region is like. Just as with any other major metropolitan area, you’re going to be able to find quite a lot to do.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      That article was written just to reinforce a point of view – it has absolutely nothing to do with reality…..

      The 80’s were when Reagan and Reaganites “owned” the town. Does he seriously believe government workers (who are generally pretty quiet about their own political views) were openly talking about liberal views back then? Seriously?

      And if it was guns and conservatism he was interested in, all he had to do was cross the Potomac……odd as a “senior editor”, he apparently couldn’t figure that out…..

      DC has always had some very good restaurants and nightlife but apparently he couldn’t figure out where they were either……

      And those tatty “administrative types” he was exposed to on the Metro – the HORROR!

    2. Hana M

      I lived long enough in DC (1984-1985) to know it was not for me. Some of what the author says resonates (the self-assured arrogance of those who thought they had arrived–hardly unique to DC) but little else. I lived in a roach infested building in Adams Morgan (an education in itself) but I loved the local restaurants (Ethiopian and a New Orleans style eaterie that made incredible puff pastry doughnut things to dip in cafe au lait.)

      The next link up in The American Conservative was a bit more interesting, especially the first paragraphs which gave me a laugh:

      From Mark Lilla’s forthcoming (August 15) book The Once And Future Liberal:
      Electoral politics is a little like fishing. When you fish you get up early in the morning and go to where the fish are — not to where you might wish them to be. You then drop bait into the water (bait being defined as something they want to eat, not as “healthy choices”). Once the fish realize they are hooked they may resist. Let them; loosen your line. Eventually they will calm down and you can slowly reel them in, careful not to provoke them unnecessarily. The identity liberals’ approach to fishing is to remain on shore, yelling at the fish about the historical wrongs visited on them by the sea, and the need for aquatic life to renounce its privilege. All in the hope that the fish will collectively confess their sins and swim to shore to be netted. If that is your approach to fishing, you had better become a vegan.


  5. Altandmain

    Apparently the Democratic Establishment has difficulty raising funds :


    No wonder they are so desperate for the Sanders email list, not that it is going to do much good.

    Noam Chomsky on libertarians:

    Democrats and the reason why Kamala Harris is going to screw over the base:

    The DNC lawsuit vs democracy

    Apparently there are even Bloomberg doubts about Russia:


    Even the MSM is facing the reality.

    1. HopeLB

      To think of the poor, pitiful Dems losing all of their big Bankster/monopoly/Corporate donors because the Republicans and Trumps’ Goldman and General infused cabinet have gone full out neoliberal/neocon berserker and not even the proBankster/pro monopoly corporate Dems could EVER deliver these masters such a piggish,privatized feast, particularly in light of the Bernie’s socialist/progressive renewal within the Dem Party itself. The Master 1% won’t waste another billion betting on that sorry ass donkey again! Maybe the Dems too can make do with 27 bucks from individual donors?

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Well we’re coming up on a full year of coordinated attempted gaslighting of a nation of 300+ million people with no evidence.

      Where is left to go, really? Maybe Larry Tribe can make some new things up out of whole cloth to distract the like-to-think-they’re-on-the-lefts.

  6. Cat Burglar

    Senator Harris has been incautious enough to say she supports the idea of single-payer, that every person has a right to health care. Sure, they’re trying her out as the next swindling neoliberal identity president — but I figure we should just direct so much attention to her stand on single-payer that it becomes too costly for her to renege!
    “Gosh, Senator, your staff must already be working on your plan for single-payer funding right now! I can’t wait to vote for you again after you make it public and lead us to single-payer, etc, etc….” I write her every week on the subject.

      1. Cat Burglar

        You’re not wrong to be sceptical about her. But she’s pretty new in office, and California Democrats know they are vulnerable on the issue — so I figure, why not just push her on this? Either she’ll prove to be enough of an opportunist to play to majority opinion on single-payer and go all in, or she can be exposed and publicly embarrassed for backing down and being two-faced. We can force her to make the choice. “They will do what we can make them do.”

        1. Fiery Hunt

          I truly believe it’s impossible to “publicly embarrass” a triangulating corporate Dem who’s already elected.

          Better to not elect them in the first place.

    1. ChrisPacific

      She qualified the hell out of that one (which is not to say you shouldn’t work on holding her accountable, but still). I also couldn’t find any healthcare statement on her policy site (if it was there, it was well hidden).

      She was less ambiguous on minimum wage, saying “minimum wage ought to be a living wage.” I expect that the Hamptons introduction is laying the groundwork for walking her back from some of those positions.

  7. divadab

    Re: New Orleans Flooding – Political aftermath

    The Tribune-sourced “Governing” article in today’s links contrasts mightily with the Times-Picayune’s article linked in today’s links – it’s a verbatim repetition of what government officials were saying before they were revealed to be lying to cover their own incompetence.

    Not sure if there is a deeper agenda to the Governing article’s “nothing to see here move along we know what we’re doing little people” message but I suppose if you call your magazine “Governing the States and Localities” the agenda is implicit.

    1. Vatch

      Isn’t it time to abandon the areas of New Orleans that are below sea level? Obviously they can’t rely on pumps to keep the water out. In the long run, I suspect it would cost less for the government to provide subsidies for people to move elsewhere.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          And the rest soon will be. Have friends who were flooded out after Katrina. They rebuilt in place out of sheer orneriness (despite my advice to “get the hell out”).

          1. HopeLB

            I’ve proposed this idea before and now that Blackstone is merging with another corporate, single family home, rental “investor”, Starwood, maybe someone at the newly formed Blackwood (?) will see to it that these lowliers are retrofitted into huge house boats that can be unanchored at a moment’s notice and at which time the lowliars (Blackwood?) will double the rent of the lowliers.

      1. bob

        see Netherlands


        Directly on point-


        Not enough black people in the Amsterdam to propose, at the drop of a hat, that they all move?

        No problems there, on the North Sea. Yes, they also rely on pumps. But, they seem to be much more proactive in managing it.

        Most east cost cities would be underwater within a week if there were an extended power outage. It has little to do with elevation, and much more to do with the A) the amount of water and B) the resources to manage it on a long term.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          We’ve given our telecom monopolies billions to build broadband. The result is we’re being told in 2017 to eat LTE. If we tried to build dikes, if they actually built anything at the end, I’d expect the water to be higher as a result.

          If I were suggesting mega projects, it’d be moving all our fuel rods to higher ground, at least.

        2. Divadab

          Yes to the tenth power. Convert the military to civil defense corps and defend the coastlines from rising sea levels. San Francisco Bay dammed at the Golden Gate and converted to a fresh water reservoir a la afsluidijk. The snowpack replaced with massive water storage.

          The power structure is reactionary and devoted to the status quo. More Bernie s and soon required.

        3. Lindsay Berge

          Where would the Dutch move to until the have no choice?
          The people threatened by flooding in New Orleans have a whole country with millions of square miles of land available, much of it lightly populated. Lots of people in the US will have to move from low-lying coastal areas as flood insurance becomes unobtainable at any price.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Yeah, I thought about that after Katrina. I remember standing in a central square and watching ships go by almost overhead. In fact, the city was extensively depopulated.

        The problem is All That History. Which implies it should be a living-history museum with quite small population.

        There are other solutions, like the Venetian one: in low-lying neighborhoods, pile half the neighborhood on the other half, resulting in lakeside but elevated property. The chance for that solution has been lost. They didn’t require that all buildings be up on stilts, either. Either would have made for a very distinctive cityscape.

        At this point, they should hire the Dutch to administer the dikes and pumps. But I gather they don’t work cheap.

  8. local to oakland

    Thanks for the Harpers article re Ammons. It inspired me to find his poems. He’s good, IMHO.

    In gratitude, here is another poem that I like, that strikes me as relevant to this blog. The line breaks in the version I’m linking are missing, but the language is still beautiful. It was published by E L Mayo in the collection Diver.


  9. Vatch

    (and the tax thing is just stupid, as NC readers know)

    I must have missed something. Why is the tax thing stupid?

    1. Hana M

      A personal tax return tells you next to nothing about assets/liabilities/corporate structure. If the corporate entities that are part of the Trump family enterprise are, to some extent, sheltered from taxation in off-shore vehicles or similar holding companies they will not show up on a personal tax return. I could go on….but the bottom line is that the bottom line on a tax return (and any of the other higher up lines) will reveal little of interest about Trump, Inc. There may be some interesting line items showing income frm such entities but you really have to know your stuff to dig out potential dirt; that is not something our press does well. Okay Dave Serota at IBT might do it if his research staff had not been cut to ribbons but there are few out thee like him.

      1. Hana M

        I should also note that direct competitors of the Trump enterprises (other hotel and resort chains, for example) are capable of figuring things out that might help them in bidding against the Trumps. So he has plenty of fairly sensible reasons to keep those docs private and nothing to gain politically from ‘coming out’.

        1. Yves Smith

          Huh? Corporate tax returns aren’t 10-Ks. And they are asking for personal tax returns. There is nothing in there for them to “find out”. All they might see are clever tax structuring tricks and those are highly unlikely to have competitive value.

          And that is true of corporate tax returns. Personal tax returns are even less useful.

    2. diptherio

      Because there’s unlikely to be any there there, I think. Another distraction from real issues.

    3. Yves Smith

      Tax returns are not a Rosetta stone.

      Will not show who he borrowed from, as some people incorrectly and regularly claim

      Will not show his customers/clients, so no insight into his business relationships.

    4. Vatch

      Okay, so the tax returns won’t provide much (or any) useful information. In that case, why is Trump so reluctant to release them?

      1. Vatch

        Perhaps Trump is afraid of letting people see how little he pays in taxes. That in itself is an extremely strong argument for continuing to demand that he release his tax returns. Let’s shed some light on the privileges of the oligarchs.

  10. john c. halasz

    Where in Burlington VT is the meet up to be held? I probably won’t make it since I don’t own a car for the ride back to Montpelier and I have a discussion group on Burlington til 9, but just in case.

  11. Jim Haygood

    Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 35 Fear

    With the Dow Industrials a frightening [/sarc] 1.2% off their record high on Monday, the “I told you so” long knives are coming out.

    Start of something serious,” warns a white-shoe investment banker darkly. “Jeffrey Gundlach getting rich on his puts,” chimes in an envious frayed-collar journo.

    This is not the pedal-to-the-metal heedless glee which prevails at a bubble crest, when every dip is dismissed as an aberration, and seen as a buying opportunity rather than a last chance to pile on short positions.

    Meanwhile the vigilant Dr Hussman, who’s been warning of our imminent doom for about 20 years now, is hugging his monitor to celebrate his redemption … “Yes-s-s-s-s!!!! Break down, go ahead and do it …

  12. Pelham

    ‘”Middle-class’ America encompasses households with two-thirds to double the national median, according to Pew Research Center.”

    One sees formulations like this all the time. But why? Why not total up in dollars what it takes to provide a minimal middle-class life for a typical household of four and use that as the lower boundary. USA Today did just that a couple of years ago and came up with a figure of $130,000 a year. Double that for the top end, and I would guess that somewhere between 5 and 10% of the population would qualify. It’s a dismal proportion but valid in the most meaningful sense.

      1. jrs

        I don’t particularly like to argue rich people aren’t rich, however there is the fact that HUD considers 50k a year household income to be low income in Los Angeles given housing costs. I was surprised by it but … So the NATIONAL median might not cut paying the rent at a certain point. If those with 2/3s the median income live dis-proportionally in high costs areas their lifestyle might indeed be middle class or less.

        Such calculations exist, although less on “middle class incomes” than living wages various places, it’s higher than one thinks, and that’s bare bones, just a wage enough to live.

    1. Cat Burglar

      One of the clearest discussions I’ve found was on Charles Hugh-Smith’s Of Two Minds blog. Instead of using median income as a benchmark, he asked, “What does it take to be middle-class?”, and then added up what it it would cost now, and came up with a similar answer to USA Today.


      Hope I got the link in properly this time.

  13. JTMcPhee

    Lots of talk about “single payer” as a goal for actual benefits of general applicability. Query what it actually means – https://duckduckgo.com/?q=what+does+single+payer+mean&t=ffsb&ia=web

    Had a conversation with a woman who just “aged into” Medicare. She is having a horrific experience, even with that great Plan F Supplemental from AARP. Can’t continue with current doctors, can’t afford the medications under even a “good” Part D plan coverage… So Medicare for All, as some here have posted, is no panacea at all. Crapified, private-public partnership… but yes, not as bad as the private UNsurance system though clearly a stepchild to the interests that bring it to us…

    1. ginnie nyc

      Yes, indeed. I’ve been on Medicare since age 43 (now 60), and the crapification runs wide and deep. The advent, frankly, began with the introduction of Obamacare. In the past 6 years, I’ve lost my neurologist, ENT, internist, orthopedist….all because they decided to no longer accept Medicare. I’ve been unable to find replacements in Manhattan that will take Medicare and Medicaid.

      1. Kurt Sperry

        When almost everyone’s on Medicare, wouldn’t it be financial suicide to “not accept” Medicare? One thing (maybe about the only thing) you can count on doctors to do is to maximize their personal wealth hoarding. Make the market for privately insured customers so small, it isn’t worth tailoring a practice to. Or my favorite tack, make selling or accepting any private health insurance a felony.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The politicians have been trying to eliminate Medicare for decades don’t forget. So, it’s foundations have been undermined to one degree or another to allow the insurance industry and our friends at Big Pharma to get their fair share of the goodies. Nor does the phrase “Medicare for all” necessarily refer to the system as it currently exists, so rejecting the concept solely based on the phrase that’s been chosen to make it accessible to those for whom the phrase “single-payer” equals “socialized medicine” is shortsighted.

      Every rendition of Medicare for All I’ve seen that even references insurance does so as a means of providing those who can and wish to pay for some kind of additional coverage, for whatever reason, and not as part of the system. Indeed, since we were discussing litmus tests of candidates, how they define Medicare for All is a good one. Anyone who mentions insurance companies should be looked upon as suspect.

    3. Ancient 1

      Medicare Advantage as promoted by that insurance broker, AARP, is a real disaster for us older Medicare dependents. I did not sign up for Bush’s attempt to privatize basic Medicare when it came out and couldn’t do it now if I wanted to as penalties would apply. My medical care is at a university teaching medical center. All my physicians, internal medicine, urology, oncology and gastroenterology accept basic Medicare. I looked into Supplemental Medicare coverage by United Healthcare as pimped again by AARP and found that by saving the premiums I would be paying to them would more than cover the 20% cost that I was responsible to pay. I have noticed over the years that Medicare has quietly been gutted by the gov agency. Just compare the Medicare Info book issued every year. I am 80 and I appreciate all I have received from Medicare but I am concerned for those following me, just what does the future hold for them??

      1. Eclair

        The big boon provided by Medicare Advantage for my friends over 65 seems to be the Silver Sneakers Program. They get a ‘free’ membership to selected health clubs, municipal recreation centers, etc. I point out that I can purchase an annual senior membership to our town’s rec center for just $300. Cheaper than a month or two of many Advantage plans.

        Note: We have, alas, moved and our economically-depressed area does not boast shiny new municipal rec centers with pools, hot tubs, saunas, steam rooms, running tracks, exercise machines, dance studios and choice of yoga and aerobics classes.

  14. hemeantwell

    Otto Kirchheimer, the political scientist who coined the term in an influential 1966 paper, said that ‘a party large enough to get a majority has to be so catch-all that it cannot have a unique ideological program.’

    Good to see a reference to Kirchheimer here, but I think that the writer is putting a spin on him that makes him sound like one of the centripetally-minded poli sci types that were to come in the next decade. They were more inclined to think of the development uncritically, while Kirchheimer saw it as involving an attempt by pols to undo representational responsibility to a mass party, i.e. class party, and exchange “effectiveness in depth [i.e. have a party with a stable perspective and membership and, dare we say it, a culture] for a wider audience and more immediate electoral success.” “They were also to become primarily office-seeking parties, with the desire to occupy government winning priority over any sense of representational integrity.” (That’s from Peter Mair’s Ruling the Void.)

  15. Livius Drusus

    Re: The Kamala Harris controversy, it is pretty clear that women and non-whites are being used as shields by the Democrats to deflect criticism from the left. It is a good way to sidetrack debates by turning them away from policy and toward symbolism and “shout outs.”

    Sanders’ platform would have probably benefited women and non-whites even more than white men. And yet Sanders and his supporters got tagged with the “bro” label. I don’t even know what to say about that, it is mind-boggling.

    1. TK421

      It’s not mind-boggling, you’ve already got it figured out. In fact, the very reason why the Democratic Party slams Sanders is that the poor and non-white would be helped by his policies–they don’t want to help those people, they want to help their big dollar donors.

    2. Richard

      Question for people who appear to have read the same article: is “woke”, as it appeared in the article twice, supposed to mean like “oh I get it now”? The usage was not familar to me.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The Oxford English Dictionary Just Added ‘Woke.’ It’s Older Than You Might Think Time.

        The term, which has spread virally in recent years after being embraced by the Black Lives Matter movement, has been used to describe those who are aware since the early 1960s.

        Here’s how the OED defines it.

        woke, adjective: Originally: well-informed, up-to-date. Now chiefly: alert to racial or social discrimination and injustice; frequently in stay woke.

        The Internet being the Internet, “woke” is now being used (in some cases) ironically, as in “woke liberal.”

    1. nowhere

      A number of Silicon Valley companies (including Google and Facebook) took numerous years to become profitable. Why would investors be more concerned about Uber?

      I don’t like Uber, I’m just confused by this line of reasoning.

      1. Yves Smith

        We published an entire ten post series of 3000+ words each by Hubert Horan explaining why Uber will never never never be profitable. It’s since been widely cited, including in the MSM.

        Stop demanding that we do your work.

        1. nowhere

          I most certainly never asked that, and, Lambert, thank you for the link. I didn’t recall this series.

  16. Tertium Squid

    His unpredictability and impulsiveness make the threat seem more credible.

    This is a standard negotiating tactic.

    1. Massinissa

      Tricky Dick Nixon is particularly famous for that kind of brinksmanship, at least among American presidents.

      Honestly, Trump may not be particularly bright, but he is no idiot, and did not get to where he is without understanding basic negotiating tactics. But apparently the liberals are ready to believe the propaganda that Trump is genuinely mentally unstable.

      1. Arizona Slim


        Trump may not rank among the smartest of recent presidents (Nixon, Carter, and Clinton would), but he isn’t dumb. He knows enough about business to grow what his father and grandfather started.

        And, as for mental instability, read up on Nixon’s presidency. The book called The Final Days would be very enlightening. Let’s just say that Tricky Dick was not a well man.

    2. nowhere

      This may be true. But I don’t think in any of his previous business ventures the downside risk could possibly be the destruction and radiation of large numbers of people (whether Korean, Japanese, or American).

  17. PH

    North Korea

    Combustible combination with The Donald, as predicted, and a good reason no one should have voted for him.

    But we are here.

    Where are the loud protests opposing first strike use of nukes under ANY circumstances?

    I have doubts about whether we are a people equal to the challenges of our times.

    1. Massinissa

      Would it have been any better with Hillary? She is a known warmonger, and was at the head of the campaign to destabilize Libya, among other things. I can’t imagine she would take much less of a hardline stance than Trump is.

      Anyway, is it the fault of the ‘people’ that we are always forced to either ‘vote’ for the lesser of two terrible candidates effectively preselected by the elites every election, or to otherwise ‘waste’ said votes on a third party candidate who is at least marginally less terrible than the two presented options?

      1. PH

        Poor poor us. Not our fault!

        We were only born into a rich and privileged society, where even the poor have better food clothes sanitation and entertainment than the European aristocrats of 400 years ago.

        Damn little is asked of us.

        When our leader threatens first strike genocide in our name, we should take a day of vacation and go into the streets.

        And at least ONE pol should have the guts to say NEVER to first strike with anuke.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          But feel free to go on with your marching and protesting.

          I can think of several other ways to waste my time..

            1. polecat

              Hey .. I like carving bones, napping flints, and testing atlatls as well as any neo-mangon man, er, woman, er all the rest ….

              I hope no hominids were triggered into looking for a safe-cavespace due to the above comment.

        2. Ian

          The fact that you had to reference over 400 years ago as a contrast to our current state kind of shows how ridiculous your statement is. That’s progress for you.

        3. jrs

          those whose jobs allow vacation days should take a day’s vacation, many people don’t get any time off you know, right? Others may officially have time off but not really any leeway to take it. And no I don’t mean workaholics, their problems are strictly mental, I mean those who problems actually are a real threat of losing their jobs.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      >>I have doubts about whether we are a people equal to the challenges of our times.

      The heck does that mean? Human history is all about the best and the brightest getting blindsided by the present. While people respond a third pro, a third con, and a third just mad. Did I miss the Philosopher Electorate era?

      1. ewmayer

        Like you, I have extreme difficulty to give a rat’s patootie about anything golf-related … I only posted this because of the quip opportunity afforded by the DUI-as-applied-to-a-golfer angle. Plus folks who think all matters related to the doings of our modern-day sports-star oligarch class might enjoy a bit of Schadenfreude. (Aside: since I closed the foregoing sentence with a term borrowed from German, further observe that “Blech” is German for “sheet metal” or “tin”.)

    1. nowhere

      I’ve read that is was his penchant for training with Navy SEALs, and that said training damaged his back.

      1. visitor

        Tiger Woods is a professional golf player, and his spine ended utterly ruined by his professional activity — just as it regularly occurs to other professional golf players.

        Basically, the sudden, forceful, combined twisting and screwing typical when performing golf strikes is the worst possible kind of movement for the human spine.

        Tiger Woods had to submit to three orthopedic operations on his spine already — a result of what those civilized activities do to our body, evolved over hundreds of thousands of year for completely different requirements.

  18. dcblogger

    Conservatives don’t like Washington, DC because they don’t like government. My lifelong experience in living in this area tells me he got it exactly wrong.

    1. Massinissa

      Geeeeee, the guy everybody in France voted for only because he was at least guaranteed to not be an actual Nazi is turning out to be deeply unpopular? Quelle Surprise!

  19. JeffC

    The quote from “Memories of Living in the ‘Deep State’” told of those horrible lefty government workers on Tuckerman Lane as if they were typical government people. They were not.

    I lived for a couple of years, half a decade back, on Tuckerman Lane. It is in the most liberal part of the most liberal county (Montgomery) in Maryland, which is probably the most liberal state in the US. D.C.-area government workers who are more conservative do not move there but instead choose to live in (the three counties of) “southern Maryland” or in northern Virginia.

    And Tuckerman Lane is a very pricey area. (My apartment was tiny.) Residents working for the USG are generally in the high GS pay grades. They are professionals, with all that implies culturewise, not blue-collar motor-pool mechanics. No surprise at all that it leaned heavily left, way more so than federal government workers in general.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I believe, though I can’t find the reference, that “working for the government” is a euphemism for “working for the CIA” (or the NSA (or whatever)).

      So “left” would have a very specialized meaning here. “Left” in the sense that they promoted Jackson Pollock, or supported “responsibility to protect,” or whatever euphemism was used in that day for “installing a regime we support. Or “left” in the sense that they always voted Democrat.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        It is also used by contractors who are getting paid by the government. They will tell you they are “working for the government” instead of naming the actual company they take direction from – that’s why us “gubbie” types called ourselves Federal employees……

        (For those who don’t know, “gubbies” are what the contractors called us where I worked….)

      2. flora

        aside: Jackson Pollock article. whoa! I always thought the rise of abstract expressionism in American art was an organic process; various schools duking it out in the gallery and criticism arena in an effort to find buyers and patrons. I thought the Clement Greenberg v. Harold Rosenberg essays were a part of the art world’s standard tug-of-war between schools for influence and market dominance that lead to the eventual “winner”. I had no idea that … an ‘invisible hand’ was at work.

      3. JeffC

        It’s less touchy now, but during the cold war NSA people were generally told to just say they worked for the DoD. If they were working overseas they might say they worked for the State Dept. I lived near their HQ for a decade or so and heard such things many times.

        Locals might just say they worked for the government, but that was not typical. In the D.C. area, working for the govermnent is so common that it’s not really a socially acceptable answer to “Where do you work?” People expect to hear an agency name.

        At the same time, almost no one who works in any other part of DoD ever just says they work for the DoD. It’s always Navy or OSD or whatever. So when locals heard “DoD” they immediately assumed NSA.

  20. Yves Smith

    I know you asked nicely but that is an assignment and we don’t do assignments. See our Policies on this topic.

    This piece does a fine job, aside from the fact it does not address that he’s just wrong about women and coding (studies have found that code samples by women when graded on a blind basis are on average better than men’s, but when the gender is identified, women’s coding is grades as worse than men’s).


    1. RMO

      Sounds about right when I think of the two horrible semesters I took computer science. The few female students seemed to write code just as well as the males. They sure had to put up with a fair amount of sexist crap from many of the male students though. The two female professors I had classes with got little to no respect from most of the male students either. It was a very different experience than my time studying music and then accounting. In fact it was worse in that regard than when I spent two years training to be an aircraft mechanic.

      1. JeffC

        Just one data point, but my daughter is a senior in Computer Science in the Seattle area and has not really run into those kinds of biases. A male prof last year told her that her code was the most professional in the class, and other students’ perceptions of her are no doubt shaped primarily by the fact that she routinely asks many good questions in class, something that helps everyone.

      2. JeffC

        I could add that nearly 25 years back I dated a female Computer Science professor for a couple of years at a middle-ranked US technical university, and I knew the other CS department faculty fairly well also. She never really had a bias problem in her department or among her students, and she was certainly an alert feminist in outlook.

        In those days in that place, CS was the forward-thinking department, and the science departments were solid also. It was the engineering departments where the bias against women was clear. It showed in their pay and in day-to-day treatment by department heads.

        1. flora

          20+ years ago that was true. Then, something happened. The doc-com boom. Suddenly IT was the road to riches. Not just engineering. The entire culture changed. It wasn’t about elegant coding or hardware design for itself. It became about shoving to the front of the line for a big payoff, (it was hoped). Young men were better at that than the young women I saw in classes at that time. In fact, before the boom, when computer science was regarded as an esoteric – if not dull – pursuit with middle income pay, there were lots of young women in classes, hired in the work place, and doing well. I’ve watched the change happen. Anecdotal.

    2. Praedor

      That is NOT his main thesis. The main thesis is about why Google and other tech companies have trouble getting “enough” women in the software/engineering departments. It is NOT because sexism or patriarchy. It IS because women, by and large, choose NOT to go into those areas. There are 10 men for every women in engineering, physics, math, etc. This isn’t because universities are sexist, it is because women choose to go into other areas, usually those that are more socially focused.

      This is statistical fact. There is no partiarchical bar to women going into engineering, etc, in college. THEY CHOOSE NOT TOO. From this you must not set a goal for anything close to a 50:50 mix of male:female in these areas as that is discriminatory. Against men. It means skipping over dozens (or hundreds) of fully qualified men to find the relatively rare women in the pile of applicants.

      I invite you to go to ANY university in the universe. Go to the physics department, the math department, the engineering department and count heads by sex. I guarantee you will find MANY more male heads than female heads…because freedom of choice. Accept the native differences in male and female that leads to different expressions of gender in their behavior and work WITH that rather than against it. Equality of OPPORTUNITY, not equality of outcome. THAT is the key takeaway.

      I’m a biochemist. There are a LOT of women in biology. It is possible that at this point it is a slight majority (in the more physics-heavy side…x-ray crystallography/structural biology, where I also work, there are fewer females and more males…NOT because of discrimination!). The veterinary school is easily 80% female. This isn’t because it discriminates against men, or in favor of women, it is because of FREEDOM TO CHOOSE. Women choose differently, on the whole.

      Combat positions are mostly now open to women. Guess what? The military will NEVER be anything but majority male even with the doors open to women because men and women ARE different and choose differently. Men, on the whole, gravitate to the military and combat arms to a significantly greater degree than women do or ever will. The ONLY way to change that is via social engineering against nature by having a draft that REQUIRES equal numbers of women and men be drafted. Even then, you will get what you get now: though women are free to enter infantry, artillary, etc, pending passing the physical requirements, they still mostly choose NOT to go there even when they are already in the military!

      Dispute these facts please.

      1. Yves Smith

        Women don’t “choose not to”. They are ACTIVELY DISCOURAGED from childhood.

        Damore repeated all the BS stereotypes that are used to discriminate against women in math and the sciences. “Women are social so they don’t like to do solitary activities like code.” Oh, so how can women possibly do stereotypically activities like write, since writing is a solitary activity too? He very clearly claimed that women NATIVELY are less well suited to do coding. And he defended his claim by claiming it was biological, which is also BS. If you look at the early history of computers (like the role of women at NASA in the 1960s, when women generally were not much in the workforce), women were big contributors.

        Search on “expectancy theory” or “stereotype threat”. Negative and positive beliefs about how people will perform DO affect how people perform. People are hugely suggestible.

        Go talk to any woman in math or science. Cathy O’Neil, a Harvard PhD who is in her early 40s, grew up in the Boston suburbs and had a mother who was a mathematician was repeatedly discouraged from math. She had a teacher in middle school pull her and two other girls who were doing well in math and school to tell them they were competing too much with boys and anyway they’d never do well in the long run. If she hadn’t had a mathematician mother she would have been permanently discouraged. She says the other girls from her school days who were pressured to stop pursuing math seriously did.

        She teaches math camp every summer to high school kids and still hears stories regularly from the girls at math camp about how they get subtle and overt pressure not to do math and science. Andrew Dittmer, who taught math in the Cambridge public schools for years, saw the same thing repeatedly first hand.

        Similarly, I’ve always scored higher on math aptitude than verbal. I’ve specifically tested super high on spatial ability, a supposed “male only” forte. Yet I was on the receiving end of being told women were no good at that when I was in second grade! Later I noticed the boys singled out (like being nominated to go to special advanced courses) far more often than I would be even though I was doing as well as if not better than them in class. The boys were clearly seen as worthy of being promoted when I as a girl was not. Ditto in science; I scored first in the entire state on a chemistry test, yet I wan’t told by teachers evah to major in science in college while the boys regularly were.

        Yes, these are all anecdotes. But if you look at the results of the Harvard Implicit Bias test, they show how deep-seated prejudice against women doing math and science is.

        And there is plenty of objective data that confirms that the magnitude of discrimination is large. Women scientists have to publish 2.5X more peer reviewed papers as men on average to get tenure.

        And the hostility towards women in computer sciences is particularly high. I’ve pointed out that studies have shown that average code samples from women, graded on a blind basis, are better than those of men, yet when they are attributed to a woman and graded, are scored worse than those of men. So women are constantly told they are “no good’ when they are typically at least as good. So why would someone “choose” to go into a field where they were resented and their work was degraded on false grounds? You act as if women are neglecting these fields out of lack of interest, when women who demonstrate aptitude are regularly treated unfairly. And Damore exhibits precisely the sort of prejudice that makes it hard for women to succeed.

        As I pointed out in an article at the Conference Board review, when I was at the firm, McKinsey deemed all women running for partner to have a “style” problem and would send them to Roger Ailes (yes, THAT Roger Ailes) for coaching. I’m sure McKinsey, like Damore, though that this was an enlightened policy and they were trying to help. The women to a person saw this as more proof that McKinsey was hostile to having women as partners and most left. Just about every one went into jobs or roles where they had precisely the sort of male executives as clients that McKinsey thought they couldn’t handle.

        Suggesting that Google implement pair coding, not because it’s actually a good way to improve the quality of code, but to help women because they supposedly are no good at working alone, is a harmful remedy because if implemented for that reason, and not “oh, this is a good coding practice,” just like sending women to Roger Ailes, it reinforces the idea that the women are inferior and need remedial treatment.

        1. Yves Smith

          Andrew filled in the details from his experience. This is pretty different than my childhood and what other women not much younger than me report, that the gender role stereotyping pressure re math came mainly if not entirely from adults, particularly teachers. The kids he dealt with were sixth and seventh graders, and that group would be entering or in college now:

          There was a large number of “popular” girls that would come to math club, and it was a huge draw for the boys, especially in sixth and seventh grade.

          What was a problem was that when girls hit puberty – not beforehand – they themselves became increasingly self-conscious about being seen socially as into math. Being “good at math” was fine. Enjoying math, or doing extra for the sake of one’s interest in math, was increasingly not a way that the girls wanted other people to see them.

          So, for example, girls who were very talented were happy to have me help them place into advanced HS classes (because “girl who is smart and is going to get into a great college” was a good form of social branding). But none of them wanted to win at math contests. Sometimes they did win, but they weren’t particularly thrilled about it. They didn’t want to be seen as a “genius” or a “person who’s so into learning that she learns about things even when school doesn’t make her.”

          The connection with puberty I explain not in terms of gender biology, but in terms of the well-known propensity of all people who hit puberty to become much more concerned and receptive to general social messages about how an adult (particularly an attractive adult) is supposed to act.

          I don’t remember boys trying to make it unsafe for girls to be good at math. I remember certain girls trying to make it unsafe and uncool for other girls to be into learning – I remember “popular girls” in the library mocking a kid who seemed to be enjoying a book as a hopeless “nerd.”

        2. flora

          True story. Once upon a time last century my uni required women seeking a math degree to visit the school psychologist… to make sure they were, you know, normal. no joke. That policy ended some time in the 70’s.

          1. flora

            adding: I was lucky in the timing of my CS studies. It was still before most people saw CS as a path to wealth and power, and also before most people thought of it as math. So in most peoples’ minds it was just another course of study, like English or History or Logic – with a “typewriter” (data entry terminal) attached. And women were seen as good at typing. Women studying CS as that time didn’t cause raised eyebrows. Later, when potential money and power from the dot-com era entered the equation, that field of study for women students lost its quiet and unremarked freedom. It became tagged as a ‘mans’ career.

            1. flora

              adding: The Silicon Valley ‘bro’ culture is toxic not only to women but also to men over 45-50. Here’s an irony. Silicon Valley donates more to the Dem party estab than even Wall St. So the Dem estab declares, not that Silicon Valley has a ‘bro’ problem, but that Bernie’s supporters have a ‘bro’ problem. ….right…..

  21. Kurt Sperry

    Anyone else noticed (and I probably missed it) that seemingly all the pages here except the ones with text input boxes are now serving https pages when asked? I run HTTPS Everywhere and I noticed the little green lock. If this happened, like, a year ago and I just am noticing now? Then never mind. Anyway, me likey.

  22. integer

    Came across this the other day, and found it somewhat amusing:

    Blob detection

    Informally, a blob is a region of an image in which some properties are constant or approximately constant; all the points in a blob can be considered in some sense to be similar to each other.

    Change the words “an image” to “a government”, and swap “points for “people”, and it’s not too bad a definition of “the Blob” imo.

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