2:00PM Water Cooler 8/11/2017

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!

I’ll add a few more items on Politics shortly. –lambert. P.S. 2:30PM, all done.

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Politics

New Cold War

UPDATE “How Russia Used Racism to Hack White Voters” [The Root]. A fine example of “In a crisis, everything correlates,” eh? The crisis, in this case, being that Democrat liberals are desperate to hang onto their “Southern firewall,” because without that, they got nuthin’. Hence the doubling down, the “any stick to beat a dog,” etc.

UPDATE You go, Liz:

Rattle that sabre!

But:

North Korea

“‘China is not willing to put the kind of regime threat pressure that we think is necessary because they don’t want to cause a Korean collapse,’ said Joseph DeThomas, a former U.S. diplomat who specialized in sanctions and non-proliferation issues” [Politico]. “The prospect of millions of refugees pouring into China, economic instability in its northern provinces and a possible war on the Korean peninsula are more pressing realities for Beijing than North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, experts say… China took a big step this week when it agreed to a United Nations resolution prohibiting the purchase of some of North Korea’s major exports – coal, iron ore, seafood and other items. Yet the legitimate and illicit trade that flows back and forth across the Yalu River every day is a stark reminder that China’s view of the problem differs greatly from the U.S.”

“The United States and South Korea still have not announced a date for initial talks on potentially amending their bilateral free trade agreement to try to reduce the U.S. trade deficit with its Asian ally, one month after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asked for a meeting within the next 30 days. The U.S. trade chief also proposed holding the special session of the KORUS Joint Committee in Washington” [Politico]. “South Korea’s new minister of trade, industry and energy, Paik Ungyu, replied on July 25 asking for a delay and proposing that the talks be held in Seoul instead. Paik explained that South Korea was reorganizing its bureaucracy to create a separate position of minister of trade, who would be Lighthizer’s co-chair for the talks. A few days later, South Korean President Moon Jae-in gave the new job to Kim Hyun-chong, a veteran trade official who negotiated the KORUS agreement.”

UPDATE The lighter side:

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE “Federal judge orders State Department to search for more Clinton Benghazi emails” [CNN]. Judge Amit Mehta, who is (a) of color, and (b) nominated by Obama had this to say: “[T]his matter is a far cry from a typical FOIA case. Secretary Clinton used a private email server, located in her home, to transmit and receive work-related communications during her tenure as secretary of state.” And then threw away half of them before turning the server over to the FBI, claiming they were related to scheduling her yoga lessons and Chelsea’s wedding. “This is normal,” I guess.

UPDATE “Blowback from staffer scandal burns Wasserman Schultz” [Politico]. “‘We wish she would go away and stop being so public by doubling down on negative stories,’ said Nikki Barnes, a progressive DNC member from Florida, who believes Wasserman Schultz left the national party ‘in shambles’ while chair, culminating with the hack of DNC servers and the release of embarrassing internal emails by WikiLeaks in the 2016 campaign. As for Wasserman Schultz’s defense, Barnes said ‘none of this makes sense. It doesn’t sound like racial profiling … there must have been something for her.'” Yikes!

UPDATE “Hillary Clinton’s Response To Honduran Coup Was Scrubbed From Her Paperback Memoirs” [HuffPo]. A blast from the past, but one worth remembering; whenever you hear the word “competent,” ask yourself “competent at what?”

2018

“A new low: Texas Democrats don’t have candidate for governor” [PBS]. “After high-profile candidates lost decisively in the last two elections, though, the party now finds itself in unprecedented territory for the 2018 ballot: with no major candidate to run. Democratic leaders haven’t yet lined up a substantial name to represent the party and its message despite months of trying.” Note how the so-called “coalition fo the ascendant” has utterly failed, since they are in this pickle despite “[A] booming Hispanic population and the party’s dominance of the state’s largest cities.” Isn’t it time for the Democrat Establishment to accept the awful truth that they simply aren’t a national party any more?

“Even if Democrats were to win every single 2018 House and Senate race for seats representing places that Hillary Clinton won or that Trump won by less than 3 percentage points — a pretty good midterm by historical standards — they could still fall short of the House majority and lose five Senate seats” [Cook Political Report]. “In the last few decades, Democrats have expanded their advantages in California and New York — states with huge urban centers that combined to give Clinton a 6 million vote edge, more than twice her national margin. But those two states elect only 4 percent of the Senate. Meanwhile, Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states — think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia — that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.” You would expect the colonies to vote against the metropolis, no?

“Obama to reemerge in ‘delicate dance’ with Dems” [The Hill]. “Delicate” is one of those Beltway words (like “concern”). I’ve never been quite sure about the connotation, but I think it means something like “Don’t go anywhere near this unless you’re prepared to get sucked into a vortex of #FAIL.” More:

“It’s wise for both Clinton and Obama to hang back at this point,” one Democratic strategist said. “Otherwise our party will have an even harder time rebounding.

“We already lack a party leader, we lack a vision, we lack an identity,” the strategist said bluntly. “We can’t remain stuck in the past.”

Really?

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Democratic Party’s Looming Fundraising Crisis” [Politico]. “The party has a serious fundraising crisis. Over the first six months of 2017, the Republican National Committee pulled in $75 million—nearly twice as much money as the Democratic National Committee, which raised $38 million. The predicament isn’t simply that there is a funding gap between the parties; it’s what kind of money they attract. Republicans have quietly taken a decisive edge over Democrats when it comes to small-dollar fundraising.” And more:

Some of the Sanders campaign’s most effective fundraising emails were ones that highlighted specific small-dollar donors—like, for instance, a note from a small-dollar donor explaining why they contributed. It gave our supporters a sense that they mattered to us and reminded them that working people formed the backbone of our efforts. Trump did the same, once writing to supporters that “I want you to see this message I got from one of our strongest donors.” Trump included a quote from a woman named Vonnie who contributed $6, and said that “her $6 contribution was a BIG sacrifice.” You feel motivated, part of something bigger than yourself.

Compare that approach to the one the DNC has taken in the Trump era. Most of the party’s recent emails to supporters focus on simply opposing the GOP health care bill, using subject lines like “Tell the GOP to back off!” and “Tell Senate Republicans to show us the bill.” Another significant portion of the party’s emails are about Trump’s Russia connections. “BREAKING: Donald Trump Jr.’s emails,” reads one DNC fundraising email. Another asks readers to “demand answers” about Trump’s connections to Russia—answers from no one in particular.

There’s nothing wrong with talking about issues in emails—in fact, it can really motivate supporters. But without a positive context, the overall picture one gets from the DNC’s emails is of a directionless, reflexive party that fails to ask Democratic supporters to do more than oppose Republicans, let alone work for a different vision for the future of the country.

And the author is just getting started. If you’ve ever gotten any DCCC mails, this post really is a must-read; the DCCC is truly vile.

“Delaware voters soon will cast their ballots on new voting machines” [Governing]. “A coalition of civic groups is now urging the task force to complete its work soon so the Legislature can include funding for the new equipment in its next year’s budget. Those groups include the state chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club.” If it’s digital, it’s hackable. The ACLU, LWV, and the Sierra Club should be supporting hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, as opposed to chimerical Silicon Valley “solutions.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, July 2017: “Consumer prices remain very soft, failing to match what were modest Econoday expectations for July” [Econoday]. “Is the dip in inflation the result of one-time effects that will soon pass? Or is it the result of weak wages and general global disinflation? Lack of inflation remains the central trouble in the Federal Reserve’s policy efforts. Today’s results will not be improving expectations for the beginning of balance-sheet unwinding at the September FOMC.” And: “4th Successive Headline Miss” [Economics Calendar]. And: “Using these measures, inflation was soft again in July. Overall these measures are mostly below the Fed’s 2% target (Median CPI is slightly above)” [Calculated Risk]. But look at the silver lining: Deflation is bad for debtors!

Retail: “The announcement Thursday that the parent company of Applebee’s and IHOP plans to close as many as 160 restaurants underscores the financial pressure many casual restaurant chains are under. Many chains grew too aggressively as Americans pulled back on dining spending” [247 Wall Street].

Retail: “Maine is adopting rules about daily fantasy sports games that classify the contests as games of skill and create a tax structure for them” [Governing].

Retail: “Amazon sees that a product is selling well, and may decide to work with manufacturers to make the product itself—it’s a tactic that is already worrying vendors, and can’t bode well for partnerships in the long run. But those are the obvious instances. Now, Amazon is selling products across a wide array of categories, using a host of brands that do not exist outside the confines of amazon.com and do not make it clear that they are Amazon-made products” [Quartz].

Leading Indicator: “Both ECRI’s and RecessionAlerts indicies are indicating moderate growth six months from today. Both indices are showing growth but the intensity is different” (Econintersect indices) [Econintersect]. See also the gradual rise in the Baltic Dry index and tracks “stuff.” “Stuff” is the real economy, of course; last I checked, nobody ever crashed the economy by moving a boatload of grain from point A to point B (though people who make claims about the boat, the grain, and/or points A and B certainly have!

Commodities: “Glencore PLC is riding a commodities turnaround now, but the Swiss mining and trading giant sees electric cars helping drive its future earnings. The company is deepening its investments in some raw materials…, after it reported a $2.5 billion net profit in the first half of 2017 following a loss a year ago. The results follow similar strong reports from mining companies including Rio Tinto PLC and Anglo American PLC, and the financial strength in the commodities world is brightening prospects in the beleaguered dry bulk shipping sector” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “The rise and fall of Vale as a shipowner” [Splash 247]. “The rise and fall of Vale as a shipowner stands as another cautionary tale in the long line of failed industrial shipping plays. The global financial crisis and a failure to navigate Beijing’s power hierarchy consigned the fleet of 400,000 dwt ore carriers, the biggest bulkers ever built, to economic oblivion.” Industrial romance gone horridly wrong!

Supply Chain: “What is a $10 billion factory for technology goods really worth? The question is raising new heat in Wisconsin as the state considers the costs of drawing Foxconn Technology Group to build a manufacturing facility employing up to 13,000 people. Gov. Scott Walker defends Foxconn’s $3 billion tax incentive package, telling the WSJ’s Shayndi Raice the deal will be “transformational” for Wisconsin, even as criticism arises over the hefty tax bill. A state fiscal analysis found taxpayers wouldn’t recoup their investment until the 2042-2043 fiscal year” [Wall Street Journal]. That’s quite some planning horizon, there. “The debate highlights questions around the field of site selection that is critical to supply chains. Big manufacturers and logistics companies often seek significant local and state tax breaks, but critics say the incentives aren’t always worth it, and may just move jobs around rather than spurring overall job growth. Mr. Walker insists the Foxconn deal carries bigger benefits, and will help spur a larger eco-system of technology research, manufacturing and employment.” “Ecosystem” is another bullshit tell. Markets, in and of themselves, are not ecosystems. So “ecosystem” is a metaphor. It is a good one?

The Bezzle: “Why Everyone Is Hating on IBM Watson—Including the People Who Helped Make It” [Gizmodo]. “The splashy vision of Watson has been integral to IBM’s branding since the groundbreaking question-answering system made its debut in 2011 on Jeopardy! Now, thanks to billions of dollars of investment and years of aggressive marketing, Watson has come to represent AI in the popular imagination….. ‘IBM Watson is the Donald Trump of the AI industry—outlandish claims that aren’t backed by credible data,” said Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for AI and former computer science professor. ‘Everyone—journalists included—know[s] that the emperor has no clothes, but most are reluctant to say so.'” Hoo boy.

The Bezzle: “In addition to its investment in Uber, Benchmark [the VC firm that’s suing them] was an early investor in Snap, Twitter, GrubHub, Yelp, Zillow and eBay. The venture capital firm also has invested in dozens of firms that were acquired, including Instagram (Facebook), Vudu (Walmart), Ariba (SAP) and OpenTable (Priceline)” [247 Wall Street].

The Bezzle: “The technology world is scrutinizing Snap as an indicator of whether smaller social media companies can compete with behemoths like Facebook. And Wall Street is using Snap to gauge whether investors will embrace other unprofitable tech companies if they go public” [New York Times]. “Snap has not delivered on either front.”

The Bezzle: “One of the nation’s oldest and most famous retailers and one of tech’s most recent IPOs have something in common. Snap Inc. and Macy’s Inc. have been the victims of ‘disruption,’ another word for being trounced by larger and more innovative companies. Each share another thing. They cannot make comebacks in light of the overwhelming competition” [247 Wall Street].

The Bezzle: “Careful: Robo advice isn’t necessarily conflict-free” [MarketWatch]. There’s a copy editing problem with the headline: “isn’t necessarily” should read “is necessarily not.” Reflect on the opaqueness of algos, and then see Akerloff and Shiller on phishing equilibria.

The Bezzle: “Sundar Pichai Should Resign as Google’s C.E.O.” [David Brooks, New York Times]. “Either Pichai is unprepared to understand the research (unlikely), is not capable of handling complex data flows (a bad trait in a C.E.O.) or was simply too afraid to stand up to a mob. Regardless which weakness applies, this episode suggests he should seek a nonleadership position.” I’m going to ignore the merits, if any, of the case Brooks is making. What strikes me is that the moral panic about sexism at Google parallels the moral panic about sexism at Uber: In each case, the fundamentals of the business are untouched, indeed erased (suggesting that moral panics have their uses, eh?). In Uber’s case, Uber’s inherently unprofitable, hence fraudulent, business model is erased from the discourse; in Google’s case, its status as a ginormous monopoly and handmaiden of Stasi-like censorship. Apparently, those aren’t legitimate topics. It’s rather as if we heard an enormous explosion in a downtown bank building, and then saw a crowd of masked characters emerge with bulging sacks of loot, and run for it. The cry goes up: “But they’re not diverse!” Please, can we have a little intersectionality, here?

Mr. Market: “Emerging market ETFs on track for worst week of the year amid U.S.-North Korea clash” [MarketWatch].

Five Horsemen: “Big Tech enjoys a modest bounce, as Amazon Fever cools” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Aug 11

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 29 Fear (previous close: 31, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 64 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Aug 11 at 11:54am. I can’t find the exact quote, but I remember reading a story about a legendary trader during the Cuban Missile Crisis: Trader Flunky: “What do I do? [thinking: The world’s about to blow up!” Trader Manager: “Buy the dip! There’s no downside, because if the world blows up we won’t have to pay!” (Disclaimer that Naked Capitalism doesn’t provide investment advice, and you’d be daft to listen to me, because I’m a permanent Maine bear.)

Gaia

“Antarctic Heritage Trust conservators found a 100 year old fruit cake among the artefacts from Cape Adare” [Antarctic Heritage Trust]. Look out, Mars!

“Researchers on Vancouver Island have developed an analytical method that allows them to use snow, soil and trees to identify buried mineral deposits. According to their findings, the new series of techniques could help reduce the impact of mineral exploration work while lowering costs and increasing efficiency” [Mining.com]. “Working at British Columbia’s Mount Washington gold-copper-silver prospect and the Lara zinc-copper-lead-silver-gold showing, the geologists were able to measure the concentration of the halogen elements fluorine, bromine, chlorine and iodine in samples such as fluids given off by trees -which they collected by trapping ‘tree sweat’ in plastic bags-; bits of soil recovered using buried collectors left in the ground over several months to passively absorb ions; and a few grams of snow.”

“MSU team looks back at 25 years of exploring a new frontier in Earth’s crust” [Bozeman Daily Chronicle]. “Twenty-five years ago, the late astrophysicist Thomas Gold predicted scientists would find microorganisms in the extreme heat and hard rocks of Earth’s crust…. Among other things, Gold speculated that scientists would discover a “deep, hot biosphere” in Earth’s crust. This life would extend down for several miles until it became too hot to support life…. He was right about that, [Eric Boyd, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology] said. [Montana State University] has found bacterial microbes living in the cracks of 2.7-billion-year-old rocks in the Beartooth Mountains; 360-million-year-old rocks in the Henderson Mine in Colorado; and 100-million-year-old rocks in the country of Oman…. Gold also predicted that microbes living in the hot rocks of the crust would be able to live off of hydrocarbons such as oils that could be replenished from Earth’s mantle with no biological processes involved. He was wrong on that, Boyd said, which means, among other things, that oil supplies cannot be replenished.” (PNAS podcast; original Gold “deep, hot biosphere” paper.)

Guillotine Watch

“What I Learned About Produce Growers While on Top of the World, Mount Everest” [SupplyChain 247]. Anybody who has read Into Thin Air will recognize this piece for C-class puffery in its purest and crassest form. There are times when I think we have the stupidest elites in the world, bar none, and including “the developing world” into which we are rapidly devolving. One can only wonder how many frozen corpses and coproglacies this dude passed by on his way to the top.

Class Warfare

“Housing is too expensive for low-skilled workers to move to cities with the highest-paid jobs” [Quartz]. It’s one thing to put Momma in a home so you can move to get a job, as 10%-ers insist people should do. It’s another thing to put Momma in the home, move, and find out you can’t really afford to live there. Here’s the NBER Paper. From the abstract:

The past thirty years have seen a dramatic decline in the rate of income convergence across states and in population flows to high-income places. These changes coincide with a disproportionate increase in housing prices in high-income places, a divergence in the skill-specific returns to moving to high-income places, and a redirection of low-skill migration away from high-income places. We develop a model in which rising housing prices in high-income areas deter low-skill migration and slow income convergence. Using a new panel measure of housing supply regulations, we demonstrate the importance of this channel in the data.

“A blueberry farm abruptly fired more than 100 migrant farm workers Sat., Aug. 5, amid allegations of unsafe conditions that workers say contributed to the death of a coworker days after he collapsed in a field” [Cascadia Weekly]. “More than 80 of the displaced Sarbanand Farms workers set up a makeshift camp at a Sumas residence over the weekend, and roughly 80 remained there Monday. Citizens, farmers and local businesses flocked to the Telegraph Road home, scrambling to fulfill the most basic needs of the workers—who came to the United States under H-2A visas that promised employer-provided food, housing and transportation.”

“Elon Musk May Be a “Visionary,” But His Vision Doesn’t Seem To Include Unions” [In These Times]. “It’s hard to know exactly what constitutes “manufacturing hell,” but it might also be difficult to ever find out. That’s because, since last November, Tesla has required employees to sign confidentiality agreements which prevent them from discussing workplace conditions.” Holy moley.

News of the Wired

“The Wartime Origins of Farmers Markets” [JSTOR Daily]. “By John Brucato’s count there were more than 200 people standing in the empty lot at the corner of Market and Duboce streets in San Francisco at 6:30 that Thursday morning in August 1943. Each streetcar that arrived disgorged more housewives. Many carried empty shopping bags; others bought boxes from enterprising street vendors. Within an hour, Brucato estimated, the crowd had grown to a thousand people. Someone cried out: ‘The farmers are coming!’ But it was a false alarm. The people were getting impatient, and Brucato, who had helped to organize the unusual gathering, was worried: Had the farmers encountered foul play on their trip from Sonoma County? There had been threats. Finally, just after 8:00, Joe Sanchetti’s pickup truck came into view, piled with crates of fresh California pears. He led a short parade of five fellow farmers—Brucato had originally hoped for 60—all of whom had been watching their pears and apples rot in the fields. The war was on, and the small farmers had been unable to sell their harvest to shorthanded canneries. Meanwhile, in the city just 50 miles away, affordable produce was scarce. Families hoarded ration coupons and tended to victory gardens. When Sanchetti came to a stop, the waiting customers clamored to untie the produce boxes….” Life during wartime….

“Small Functions considered Harmful” [Cindy Sridharan, Medium]. “Inasmuch as it’s impossible to abstract perfectly, the best we can do abstract well enough insofar as we can. Defining “well enough” is hard and is contingent on a large number of factors….”

“HyperCard On The Archive (Celebrating 30 Years of HyperCard)” [Internet Archive]. I love HyperCard… It’s too bad we don’t have an Internet-enabled version of HyperCard today. It would slay the browser.

Anecdote: I took the bus into a Bangor this morning, and a very old but thin sharp and feisty lady got on with her walker, apparently having fallen the day before. “Norma, go slow! Go slow!”, her helper, having helped her onto the bus, urged her before alighting. Anyhow, “Norma” needed to get off downtown, so I helped her, with her walker, off, and then decided to walk with her to her destination. (To my discredit, I probably wouldn’t have decided that if I hadn’t been so near my destination.) Another gentleman appeared, and he on the right, and I one the left walked Norma four blocks over bumpy sidewalks to her destination. (Norma didn’t really roll the walker; sometimes she lifted it up to go over an obstacle, so you can see how she fell.) Anyhow, when we were close to her destination, I heard the other gentleman say, in response to something Norma said that I did not hear: “I couldn’t live that near to a synagogue.” Having left Norma happily sitting on a sunny bench in front of her doctor’s — the walk took perhaps fifteen minutes — he and I walked off together, and I asked him: “Were you just a random passer-by, like me?” He said yes, and added “It was white of you to help her.” I said, “I don’t know if it was white… ” So, et in arcadia ego….

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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 (Will C):

Will C writes:

Hey Lambert, here’s a plant picture for you. There’s a story behind this. Our local carwash owner plants this field of sunflowers every year. Here’s an article about him: https://www.carwash.com/sunflower-field-brings-public-to-carwash/ It’s just something he does and has become a community tradition.

There were about twenty people taking photos the day my wife and I were there, but yesterday, there were at least a hundred. In previous years he let people take the heads, but I think this year he’s trying to let them reseed.

This particular photo shows an orange one among the many yellows. It’s really gorgeous and an awesome community feature.

The photo is also an exercise in the Rule of Thirds and a creative depth-of-field (both senses) decision. (I also had great success with reseeding sunflowers this year.)

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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.

187 comments

  1. Altandmain

    I’ve been thinking about Pat Buchanan’s article that was posted here earlier this week:
    http://www.unz.com/pbuchanan/after-the-coup-what-then/

    The Establishment has indeed been trying to sink Trump. They were clearly out to elect Clinton. However, Trump was never a “man of the people’ that he tried to portray himself as. He was clearly in bed with the plutocracy himself.

    The thing is, had Bernie Sanders won the Presidency, I suspect that hypothetically, the press would have savaged him relentlessly in a way that made the 2016 coverage of him and the coverage of Jeremy Cobryn seem modest by comparison.

    This is a chilling read:
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/11/so-what-would-really-happen-if-bernie-became-president/

    It’s also a reminder that even if the left wins in 2020, the fight has just begun. I think that one of the things that Obama’s victory in 2008 did was leave a false sense of complacency where there really should not have been one. Obama being a neoliberal was largely given a free pass on war, the economy, not passing card carrying legislation for unions (the EFCA act), not persecuting Wall Street (there needed to be someone harsher than Elliot Spitzer), and a whole lot of other betrayals. I don’t think that Sanders would have done as much betrayals, but he would have been in a letdown in many regards and the press would have been out to get him.

    The left would have had to stand firm, in a way that the Trump base has.

    Reply
    1. sid_finster

      I have said this elsewhere, I have said ti before, and I will say it again:

      1. If Bernie Sanders were to be made president today, the Deep State and the Bicoastal Establishment would be using the same means to either neuter him or remove him as they are doing with Trump. The specifics of the attacks might differ, but the overall strategy of housebreaking him or getting rid of him would not.

      2. Until the Deep State is eradicated root and branch, it matters not who is nominally president.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Totally concur.

        It does not matter who is the MC of the Depublicrat kabuki show.

        The president is an “at will” employee of the Shadow gov.

        Reply
        1. skippy

          450+ Billionaires in America… there is your so called deep state, whack on some multinational c-corps just to make things interesting.

          Just to make things more complex….

          It is not only by dint of lying to others, but also of lying to ourselves, that we cease to notice that we are lying.

          – Marcel Proust

          The creative class writers from economists to jurnos cranking up the Bernays amplitude, whilst going spastic on the reverb is having a Gitmo effect on the unwashed, tho the really disturbing bit is the cumulative effect its having on the creative class writers.

          disheveled… akin to a late stage comedy sitcom… where they lock them in a windowless room and won’t let them out till they write something that wins the ratings war’ ™….

          Reply
          1. craazyman

            Creative class goes even farther in that direction. From the blues traditions through folk music through the 1960s music offered a caustic and probing commentary on cultural ills. Even Springsteen in the 80s, but he was kind of neutered by his own success. Rap of course was it’s own phenomenon, there were protest songs there but it more than that.

            But the musical voices today seem to have fallen silent on that front, or I’m just not aware of them (which may be the case).

            It seems the songs of protest don’t exist, or if they do — maybe due to the way the music industry is organized and the internet as a delivery medium — I don’t know if they get heard.

            It’s hard to imagine today the kind of songs that got national attention in the 30s through 70s and into the 80s and helped create a national conscience and consciousness. That agent of change is silent.

            Goes for the movies too. Or maybe there are those kind, and I just don’t know of them.

            Reply
            1. clinical wasteman

              Craazyman, my comment below this one is a direct reply to Skippy, music reference coincidental, but this one belatedly replies to you.

              http://www.factmag.com/2016/04/01/dean-blunt-babyfather-bbf-album-review-protest-music/

              Here (link above) is a piece of writing that answers your thoughtful question quite thoughtfully, and the album it reviews (streaming link inside text) is quite something too.

              The only thing the reviewer forgets to say is that sound system/rave culture (an Afro-Caribbean invention, incidentally, only latterly taken up all over Europe: See Lloyd Bradley, ‘Sounds Like London’), following on from punk rock & hip-hop, may have protested somewhat less directly in song lyrics but set about abolishing the music industry business model in the meantime. Of course that’s an unfinished process, but it matters that it wasn’t Youtube or Napster or Soulseek that did it. Not the same thing as niche ‘experimentalism’ (not that I have any problem with that, on the contrary, it’s how I waste most of my time) at all.
              Hundreds of thousands of people went raving in the late 80s/90s (& even earlier in London & Jamaica), bought tens of thousands of semi-anonymous records, started making their own tracks on games consoles, broken computers and eventually phones, and gradually made a joke of the charts, the associated star system, and most importantly the sort of record label/radio patronage that actually claims most of the money at stake in copyright wars. Grime artists like Skepta and Stormzy (roughly a combination of rave production/event organization methods with hip-hop and Jamaican dancehall stylings and punk intransigence) are huge despite being unsignable by any careerist label criteria. (They did try with Skepta but it failed even on the label’s terms and he “broke through” — still in their terms — once he was fully rid of them). Yes, the internet obviously helped, but mass popularity of barely marketed house, techno, jungle and dancehall raves goes back to the years when the web was an MIT niche; even grime, starting around 2000-1, predates free streaming and ubiquitous phone access. I know this in part because of living through many of those years in tiny London flats and squats made even smaller by countless boxes of records — vinyl ones — that had to be shifted and actually were.

              Reply
            2. skippy

              craazyman & clinical wasteman…

              In Adam Curtis last doco he describes the moment when the political left transformed into an arts and crafts movement, some were even quite financially successful [wink].

              Reply
          2. clinical wasteman

            going spastic on the reverb is a practice only mandated for much missed (and likewise disheveled) Skippy compatriot Rowland S. Howard.

            See:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QsIPoRTBV44
            (Rowland is the guitar player, by the way — the one with the spring reverb — and also the writer of ‘Shivers’. The preening person singing is a Guardianbrow literary Personality nowadays.)

            & while Rowland and the almighty Tract Pew (bass gtr & hat) have your attention, hear:
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAH4X7ouPsI *
            (*At 12 years old in 1984 I was 8 years too young legally and about 3 or 4 years too young in practice to see the Auckland Mainstreet part of this final tour by the Birthday Party. I cursed fate for it then and have never stopped doing so since. Meanwhile they reportedly cursed fate for sending them to New Zealand at all.)

            Reply
        2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Pick your fight. We either want to defend the idea of a constitutional republic and democracy by the consent of the governed and the rule of law, or we want to depose a ridiculous and disgusting blowhard who was legally elected. You can’t choose both.

          Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If Bernie Sanders were to be made president today, the Deep State and the Bicoastal Establishment…

        It’s not clear that a Sanders win would have advanced his cause, or set it back.

        Reply
        1. sid_finster

          I never voted for Obama, but I am not sure that he went into office planning to be the monster he soon became.

          Does that answer your question re: B. Sanders?

          Reply
          1. Ian

            Obama and Sanders are, and from the very outset were, very different creatures as has been amply discussed and proven on this very site.

            Reply
              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                One piece of evidence is that on domestic policy, Sanders has been saying the same thing for years, in power or out of power. Trump has been all over the map.

                We can see that massive pushback would come from the same players no matter which insurgent was elected. It might even come in the same form: This is completely speculative, but I think the Russia gaslighting would have been deployed against the left by the Clintonites if Clinton had won, and was rapidly pivoted against Trump. It would certainly have been deployed against Sanders.

                If Trump ends up breaking the sod, as it were, for Sanders 2.0, I don’t think that would be such a bad outcome [cue hysteria….]

                Reply
        2. JBird

          It’s not clear that a Sanders win would have advanced his cause, or set it back.

          So true, but it would have been nice to find out.

          Reply
            1. tempestteacup

              Obama and Sanders are not comparable. As Lambert says above, Sanders has a record of fidelity to the issues and critiques he made in 2016. Obama, by contrast, has long been known as a favorite among the coastal donor class, was a first-term Senator, and during the 2008 primaries received more dosh from the FIRE sectors than anyone else, D or R. And of course you have this semi-legendary passage from Adolph Reed (a Sanders advisor!) from the mid-90s:

              In Chicago , for instance, we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices: one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program — the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle class reform in favoring form over substances. I suspect that his ilk is the wave of the future in U.S. black politics here, as in Haiti and wherever the International Monetary Fund has sway.

              Reply
        3. John k

          I disagree with this view. Popularity is power, granted Msm and congress would oppose. IMO he would have won in an EV landslide… how many dems would have voted for trump with Bernie on ballot? How many indies? That’s 70% gross. Beyond this… Msm was anti trump… if Bernie on ballot, would they have been for trump? Probably split.
          And jailing bankers and other white collar crime would increase pop and power. And justice could aggressively enforce anti trust, even attack monopolies. Pres does not need congress to enforce existing law. Ditto pushing uni health and min wage from bully pulpit. Remember Fdr super pop with chats… talk over the parties and Msm.

          Re deep state… trump stupidly signaled oppo before taking office. Smarter to say nothing, get appointments in place, clean house only after. Bernie is far smarter pol than trump.

          Reply
      3. jrs

        actually no because there are a lot of issues the deep state doesn’t care about and those are those which Sander’s could have done some good on. Economic policy at the margins (we’re not talking radical here), environmental policy at the margins etc. It may not be the change one wants if one wants much more radical changes, but I don’t buy it makes no difference whether Sander’s or Trump is president, at least on domestic issues. So yes it is very unfortunate (and rigged by the DNC of course) we got Trump rather than Sanders.

        Reply
        1. sid_finster

          Sounds like a particularly sad variation on the “We should be content to accept crumbs from Master’s table!” that Team D incrementalists sometimes advance.

          Just so many Team D loyalists continue to defend Obama, because he was reasonably articulate and may have been allowed to tinker a bit at the margins of certain areas of policy.

          Though I am not a Marxist-Leninist, I prefer V.I. Lenin’s views of power and how one gets it.

          Reply
          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Frankly, I’m really willing to vote for sucks less. His administration would have been all about whether we could treat the insurance sector like we treated the manufacturing sector.

            Reply
        2. Yves Smith

          Trump lost the popular vote, and by a not-trivial margin.

          1:1polls of Sanders v. Trump showed Sanders beating Trump by a minimum of 12 points, more often 20ish. That was with Sanders having way less name recognition among the general public.

          I guarantee after 3 debates, Sanders would have been 20 points ahead. Winning by a landslide would have made him a ton more immune to external pressure.

          Reply
          1. sid_finster

            It certainly wouldn’t hurt, but how did that work in 2008?

            Keep in mind that the DNC would be looking for a restoration of the old regime.

            Reply
            1. Dandelion

              It didn’t work in 2008 because Obama isn’t Sanders. Obama is to the right of Sanders on all domestic policy issues. And then there’s the issue of principles.

              Reply
      4. Lambert Strether Post author

        Let me just collect some phrases here…

        “… the Deep State and the Bicoastal Establishment…”

        “… there are a lot of issues the deep state doesn’t care about…”

        ” … the deep state (a) doesn’t care too much, as long as it doesn’t effect their precious defense contracts …”

        “… the Shadow gov…”

        “… 450+ Billionaires in America… there is your so called deep state…”

        Just goes to show that the phrase “deep state” is more a conversational token than an analytical tool. Eh? It’s really just a way of saying “a force greater than ourselves we don’t really understand.” Why not say Fortuna, instead? Or the will of the Gods? Or God? Or History?

        Not knowing your enemy really is cause for despair (though the 400 billionaires is, to my mind, on the money).

        Reply
      5. tempestteacup

        For those of you not familiar with it, Skwawkbox is a blog run by a union rep and Labour activist from, I think Liverpool. He writes especially about internal Labour matters and has been particularly effective at deconstructing and pushing back against the many smears directed at Jeremy Corbyn since he was elected leader in September 2015. He has also published documents and leaked emails that suggests he has connections with the leader’s office and/or those in his inner circle.

        At the end of June, while from the outside it appeared as if the Labour Party was finally cohering around a resurgent left and a vindicated Jeremy Corbyn, while even “big beasts” (amusing malaprop for such imbeciles) from the Labour’s right wing were being dragged onto daytime sofas to murmur ascent when asked if the party was now united, Skwawkbox published a list passed to them by someone from the leader’s office. It described 6 ways by which the right wing of the Labour Party, abetted by the neoliberal press, would continue to attack, destabilise and undermine Jeremy Corbyn. They were:

        1) Attacking Corbyn’s outriders: prominent surrogates, popular blogs, unions, members of the shadow cabinet, anyone remotely linked to Corbyn or the left in general.
        2) Engineering a foreign policy “controversy”: pledges of allegiance to this or that of the Blob’s favourite obsessions, revivifying the thankfully non-responsive notion of unleashing Made in British bloodshed on Syria, or whatever else might present itself as an opportunity.
        3) Attacking Momentum: the mere mention of Militant and the internecine struggles of the 1980s between Labour’s right and the radical, well-organised factions of the left tends to elicit pavlovian fear and loathing in Blair’s present-day love children. Having demonstrated its potency as a campaigning force during the General Election, in spite of its portrayal as apathetic and filled with privileged dilettantes, Momentum has become a source of genuine terror for those in Labour who had achieved their position through the patronage of neoliberal talking shops like Progress or the Fabian Society.
        4) Generic smear
        5) Attacking the performance of the Shadow Cabinet
        6) Brexit

        Skwawkbox noted, less than a week after publishing this list, that the right had already swung into action. Yvette Cooper had delivered a speech calling on Corbyn, for the thousandth time, to “condemn” and sanction (purge) those of his supporters guilty of abuse. She cited various nebulous or downright deceptive examples, including cases where the abusers turned out to be members of the far right instead of Corbyn supporters – one might say that conflating such distinctions and using emotive language that evokes the political assassination of Jo Cox in order to attack left-wing comrades who have nothing to do with the events cited, and thus exploiting the death of a colleague for political gain, represents a shocking form of shamelessness. Unfortunately, there is nothing shameless about it as we are all aware by now that radical (fanatical) centrists have no lower limit when it comes to attacking a left they loathe even more than the neoliberal right.

        More recently we’ve had various bobble headed commentators and their parliamentary analogs calling on Corbyn to condemn Venezuela and the Maduro government. Because they care deeply about, and are exceptionally knowledgeable of, the fate of the Venezuelan people. Obviously. Because, like Corbyn, they are fluent Spanish speakers with decades of experience campaigning alongside their Latin American comrades and drawing attention to the history of death squads, coups, juntas and exploitation that has blighted the region. Naturally.

        The reason I bring this all up here, though, is not so much because of Corbyn but to show that we have, right now, an example of what would have happened if Bernie had got the Democratic nomination rather than Hillary Clinton – or even become President. Not just attacks from the Republicans, but from corporate Democrats who will never accept his leadership. And not because they don’t believe his politics can’t be successful – a justification used constantly by the Labour right until the General Election. They attack because they are ideologically opposed to socio-economic changes that benefit the majority and come at the expense of the privileged or their professional-class flunkeys.

        Corbyn’s success has been a source of lamentation in the right-wing of the Labour Party and the neoliberal commentariat. They didn’t pause for a second before mobilising in new ways to undermine his leadership – they just can’t do it quite as brazenly as before. So it is with him, so it would have been with Bernie Sanders.

        Reply
    2. Uahsenaa

      Since you brought up the Corbyn example, it’s worth noting that the British press’s hostility toward him had two unexpected side effects: 1) it galvanized support for him in the form of groups like Momentum that not only pushed back against the media narrative but also organized an effective ground campaign (far more effective than the Labour party’s own) in the recent snap election, and 2) it meant he became increasingly impervious to criticism because they essentially blew all they had on him. There are only so many times you can shout “IRA sympathizer” before people just don’t pay attention anymore.

      I take issue, slightly, with Brown’s piece, though everything he mentions of course is accurate, because in each of those examples, elements of the United States government and civil society wrecked someone else’s country, not their own. In each of those instances, the US economic structure remained relatively stable. Also, in the most recent example of an economic collapse we have on record, the 2008 financial crisis, the banks were 100% dependent upon Treasury and the FED to bail them out. Trillions of dollars in QE money were poured into the banks to make them solvent again. If a Kelton or Black or Warren were FED chair, do we really think they’d be as willing to protect the banks from the pitchforks the way Obama and Bernanke did? The private sector is entirely dependent on the government to socialize its costs, so they hold a very real weapon if there were to be a class war of the magnitude Brown seems to believe would occur (and I don’t necessarily disagree).

      With power, one is in a much better position to say “the enemy is over there, and this is why.” That’s what Roosevelt did in the face of incredibly hostile opposition. Reagan did much the same thing in the ’80s. And if the networks refused to put hypothetical Sanders broadcasts on the air, his FCC commission could make their lives a living hell. Or his justice department could launch a raft of anti-trust investigations. Etc. Brown makes it seem like a Sanders executive would be completely powerless.

      Reply
      1. John D.

        I found myself visiting a lot of British-based online forums during the lead-up to the recent UK elections, and I saw a fair amount of commentary along these lines: “I live in a conservative/right wing area that has always elected Tories, but many people I’m talking to think the media has gone overboard with their attacks on Corbyn, and they’re thinking of voting for him just because of that.”

        As it is here in North America, people instinctively recognize that the “liberal” media is not on their side and they don’t trust it. This goes as much for outlets like the BBC and the Guardian as it does for obvious propaganda-fests like CNN and the major American networks. It’s sad, really. The BBC used to be pretty well respected (comparatively speaking, anyway), but that reputation went the way of the dodo once they leaped aboard the neoliberal bandwagon.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          And as for the next election, how many will be revolted by the DUP coalition? That was certainly not what was advertised during the campaign from May.

          Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        “With power, one is in a much better position to say “the enemy is over there, and this is why.” That’s what Roosevelt did in the face of incredibly hostile opposition. Reagan did much the same thing in the ’80s. And if the networks refused to put hypothetical Sanders broadcasts on the air, his FCC commission could make their lives a living hell. Or his justice department could launch a raft of anti-trust investigations. Etc. Brown makes it seem like a Sanders executive would be completely powerless.”

        THIS.

        The key for Sanders, or any future President who would dream of taking on ‘the establishment’ is that you have to be prepared for a nasty fight and you have to be prepared to use the weapons at your disposal. The Chavistas, love them or hate them, have lasted this long specifically BECAUSE they were ready for a fight.

        The Supreme Court could easily be an obstacle, much like it was for Roosevelt. The threat of the court-packing scheme from Roosevelt was a sign that he was dead serious and they needed to get with the program.

        Reply
        1. sid_finster

          Good point. I voted for Sanders, I gave Sanders my time and my money, but I am not sure that the nastiness is there to get the job done.

          Hell, so far even Trump doesn’t look like he is able to so so.

          Reply
          1. johnnygl

            He may or may not have the nastiness, but he’s brave, determined, he’s very patient, careful and he’s managed to win a lot of people over. He has also built a stockpile of good will that no one else in dc really has.

            Let’s not underestimate him quite yet.

            As for trump, he doesn’t quite seem to know what he wants to do, or who to fire. But he’s not stupid and he knows he’s on thin ice. His margin for error is getting narrow with his falling poll numbers.

            Reply
      3. Altandmain

        You do have a point.

        Here in North America, there is “Trump-Russia” fatigue. Trump’s base isn’t buying it and the swing voters don’t really care. It’s only preaching to the Establishment Democrats.

        Cobryn too … there is fatigue at the constant attacks.

        Reply
            1. JohnnyGL

              There are definitely indications that the answer is “yes”. Someone’s talking to VIPS and Patrick Lawrence at The Nation so they could write that article.

              John Kiriakou has said that CIA isn’t filled with people who all have the same political views. There’s got to be plenty that don’t like what Hersh called the “Brennan Operation” that’s being run.

              Reply
    3. G

      I doubt it. Bernie is only *slightly* better on foreign policy than most dems. He was not the threat that Trump was to the deep state’s agenda. His economic policy would have certainly been anathema to most establishment dems/republicans, but the deep state (a) doesn’t care too much, as long as it doesn’t effect their precious defense contracts and (b) would probably assume, correctly, that most of Bernie’s economic agenda would be killed in congress and the senate.

      As far as the deep state is concerned, Bernie would probably be a push-over when it comes to middle east intervention. They would just sell everything as life or death. He may have been slightly better in his rhetoric on Iran and maybe Israel, but my guess is his foreign policy would be a repeat of the Obama administration. He even said he believed in using drones and never said anything remotely against the party line view on Syria.

      Trump is facing constant attack because he talked like he really wanted to change US foreign relations to more isolationism and working with Russia. The deep state seems to pretty much have tamed him at this point, however.

      If an anti-war leftist ever did get into power, I totally agree they would be facing the same vitriol that Trump is. I’m not sure if any really exist in the DNC. Buchanan is correct that this effort is much more anti-democratic and authoritarian than anything Trump has done since taking office. Polling during the election showed that a major reason Trump was successful was due to his desire to end America’s involvement in much of the middle east. Attacking Trump is disenfranchising those voters.

      Reply
      1. sid_finster

        Meaning that Sanders wouldn’t necessarily be removed, or that the Deep State would have to mix in a little more human rights talk to get Sanders and his voters on board with their latest wars?

        Reply
      2. John k

        But trump was stupid to oppo before in office with his supporters in place… simply don’t know Bernie’s position on deep and ME wars in general… he already was taking on banks, ins, pharma, Msn and billionaires… and no pop boost in fighting deep vs talking about concrete benefits. Verdict out.

        Reply
    4. JohnnyGL

      I remarked to the office Trumpers (several of whom have a soft spot for Bernie) that once Congress agreed to appoint a special prosecutor (no surprise it ended up being the most insider-y of insiders), his fate was probably sealed and Trump was boxed in, politically. He was going to be forced by Republicans to sign the unpopular bills they put on his desk (making him more unpopular) and if he tried to move in a left/populist direction, the Republicans would rapidly join up with Dems to throw him overboard.

      The only way for Trump to save himself is to get really popular by getting the economy to roar. That’s how Clinton survived his 2nd term. Trump needed a big stimulus plan right out of the gate. Agreeing to try to tackle health care (repeal/replace) first was a massive own-goal that has done much more to damage his popularity than anything Russia-related. That’s probably why the Repubs made him do it.

      But, on a positive note, we buried TPP, stopped funding the Syrian rebels, the corporate media are discredited, and there’s a much angrier voting-public who are much more open to more competent outsiders who don’t say dumb things all the time. If Bernie runs again, I suspect he’ll get a LOT of Trumpers who are angrier than ever.

      I also suspect Bernie can get a LOT of Dems who are unhappy with Clintonite/Obama corruption but stuck with them because they were “electable”. Glen Ford said awhile back in an interview that black voters, once a strong left-leaning block, these days they don’t dream of revolution, they just look to Dems for PROTECTION from Repubs. Well, clearly that’s not working. The Dem establishment cannot offer that cloak of ‘inevitability’ to the large block of black, southern dem voters. Lots of them will swing Bernie’s way. Suffice to say, I think there’s a scenario where Bernie can win and win big in 2020, which would make it harder for the ‘deep state’ to attack him quite so effectively.

      If Bernie wins, this political novice suggests that his approach should be one of immediate confrontation.

      Staff up the Justice Dept as quickly as you can and launch anti-trust investigations against the tech companies and against the wall street banks. If Bernie has the courage to do that (and his health holds up) his popularity immediately soars to something like 75% approval, without any legislation required.

      Then, with an approval rating like that, all he’s gotta do to round up votes to pass legislation is to threaten to start holding rallies in the district of any hold outs in congress. We’ll get a $1trn stimulus plan, Medicare-for-All, and a $15/hr min wage in the first 100 days.

      Anyway, that’s my dream scenario. :)

      Reply
      1. Uahsenaa

        What impressed me about Sanders way back in the summer of 2015, when he spoke in front of a crowd of a couple hundred at the rec center here in Iowa City, was that he made very clear that the real fight would begin the day he takes office. And he explicitly criticized Obama for not doing enough to publicly fight for things he had promised during his campaign. I have all the same reservations about him that Paul Street and the Counterpunch crowd have about Sanders, but the willingness to actually engage in the necessary political fights does not seem to be one of Sanders’ problems.

        Reply
        1. Eureka Springs

          Win or lose he should have fought like a junkyard dog up to and at the Dem convention. One might say he did fight, but it was against his own stated goals, his supporters, and all their money.

          I don’t think Sanders promising to fight means what most of us think it should mean.

          Also, I can’t help but wonder just how threatening a real demolition of insurance co’s and serious negotiation of pharma prices would be to those 450 billionaires/deep state?

          Reply
          1. JohnnyGL

            I think he generally did the best he could. If he overdid it, even a little, the media would have treated him like a petulant child.

            He was gracious in defeat and he did everything he was asked to do by the Dem establishment. But he wasn’t happy about it…https://twitter.com/LynnePatton/status/759006260708511745

            He had reason to think he could win concessions from HRC, even if she REALLY did not want to give him any.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > He was gracious in defeat and he did everything he was asked to do by the Dem establishment.

              I think Sanders did the left a big favor. The Democrat Establishment is going to go “Trump neener neener” exactly as they still go “Nader neener neener,” but it’s far less virulent, since Sanders so evidently put himself — and the left — out of the line of fire of the Blame Cannons.

              Reply
              1. Eureka Springs

                They stole the nomination. I’ll never understand bowing out of theft in utter stockholm syndrome, literally telling all his supporters they should support the thieves too, as something gracious or beneficial for anyone be they left, right or whatever.

                Bowing out gracefully would have looked something like boycotting the entire sham. At the very least. Fighting, helping his cause (the semi left) would have looked much better… ripping the facade off of the whole thing, very, very clearly on national TV. If the “left” never stands up for themselves… then…. the left will always be losers… or Blue Dogs.

                Reply
                1. Lambert Strether Post author

                  > If the “left” never stands up for themselves… then….

                  Which the left is doing now, Our Revolution (and others), or DSA, take your pick. Neither of which would be happening without the Sanders campaign.

                  I’m not a believer in performative speech.

                  Reply
              2. JohnnyGL

                “I think Sanders did the left a big favor.” – Yes, he showed them that they exist and have millions of people who agree that they want something different. And he showed them that it’s time to get organized for the long haul.

                He and Trump also gave us a chance for the establishment (from both parties) to show us their true character….and it’s not pretty.

                Reply
      2. ian

        There is another way for Trump to extricate himself from all the Russian collusion and special counsel nonsense: get involved in a real war. In all the recent bluster from Pyongyang and Trump, I worry about the incentives at work. They both have good domestic reasons to rattle their sabres.

        Reply
        1. MarkE

          Or maybe Venezuela? Classic foreign crisis diversion for someone sinking domestically. The big boys are telling Donnie about the millions of innocent people who could die if things went badly in Korea so today he finds a new dog to wag.

          Reply
      3. Yves Smith

        Congress DID NOT appoint a special prosecutor.

        The appointment of a “special” prosecutor was done by the DoJ:

        Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed a former FBI director as special counsel to oversee the investigation into Russian efforts to influence the presidential election, agreeing to Democrats’ demands to elevate the probe and put it outside President Trump’s political chain of command.

        http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/may/17/robert-mueller-named-special-prosecutor-trump-fbi-/

        Constitutionally, or even on a practical basis, I don’t see how this works, particularly when the President is the party being investigated, even though special prosecutors have been used regularly in all sorts of capacities. In fact, while this was the same arrangement as the Watergate investigation, Nixon relented after he fired Archibald Cox and had the DoJ appoint a second special prosecutor. While Wikipedia isn’t a definitive source, I don’t see anything that suggests that Nixon expected to lose a legal challenge. He retreated because the firing made his already bad political situation much worse and strongly suggested he really did have something to hide.

        Reply
        1. JohnnyGL

          Apologies on that one. I remember having the impression that Rosenstein did it under political pressure from congress, especially after the Comey firing. My brain mushed it into “congress did it”.

          The idea that Trump could possibly fire Mueller is awkward, too. Media have obviously been trying to get out in front by asking if that’s grounds for impeachment. Senator Warren seemed to draw a line in the sand the other day at her town hall when she was asked about Mueller potentially being fired.

          Reply
      1. Vatch

        There was a bad comment (that was intended to be satiric, I suppose) in yesterday’s Water Cooler, and Yves clearly stated that the comment was unacceptable.

        Reply
        1. flora

          Oh. I was confused. Today’s great links included Yasha Levine. Yesterday’s comments included positive references to writings by Clement Greenberg, Harold Rosenberg, and others. So this comment seemed to come out of nowhere.
          Thanks for the clarification.

          Reply
          1. Vatch

            I think the short comment that you asked about was very confusing, especially since no context was supplied (until I replied to your question). The comment is also unfair, since it provides a false dichotomy.

            Reply
              1. Darius

                Must be all the Netanyahu criticism. They’re calling that anti Semitic these days. Because of course Bibi is the living embodiment of the Jewish people. Just like criticizing Bush was indistinguishable from criticizing the US.

                Reply
              2. clinical wasteman

                nothing wrong with anger winning 9 times out of 10, but having also missed the bad piece of ‘satire’ I admit I was confused by the response appearing in this thread now rather than directly below the original unpleasant outburst.
                I know there are limits to everyone’s time and attention, but time-zones and idiosyncratic personal hours mean I have to hope that posts and comments going back a couple of days aren’t automatically dead letter, i.e. that it’s still worth replying directly even if fewer people would see it than would have done the same morning EST.
                But then again the clock on this comment says it’s “August 11, 4928 at 3:02 pm”, and I wouldn’t want to keep people waiting more than a couple of millennia.

                Reply
    1. paul

      I think every single reader actively encourages it and incorporates it in every way in their struggle to survive.

      Not that I have noticed, they’re quite nice here.

      Reply
    2. Synoia

      No, NC treats the people of the Middle East equitably. However, stupidity is not considered a religion, especially a ME religion, and NC appears opposed to stupidity.

      Reply
  2. Vatch

    Regarding Elon Musk as a visionary, etc: He’s currently number 27 on the Forbes list of U.S. billionaires with $16.8 billion. The number one motivation for oligarchs like Musk is wealth preservation. If he has to pay his workers more money, or if is has to spend money to correct some unsafe working conditions, his wealth will diminish. Who knows, his wealth might drop from $16.8 billion to only $14 billion or so. We can’t have that now, can we?

    Reply
    1. flora

      (Adjusts foil bonnet to a chic tilt, and…) Musk warning of dangers of AI makes me think he’s angling for the “job” of AI authoritative poobah. ;)

      Reply
          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Heinlein’s. I’ll check Varley. What’s it’s name? (Is ‘it’ PC for AI? :)

            Admittedly, Adam only died a little.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              I’m a bit hazy here, but I remember the ‘hybrid’ version of “Overdrawn At the Memory Bank,” or “Steel Beach.”

              Reply
    1. polecat

      If you substitute G00GLE, for Trump … and .. uh .. employee/indentuerd, for ‘journalists’, that would also work … !

      Reply
  3. Huey Long

    RE: Tesla Non-Disclosure

    It appears as if Tesla is urinating all over Section 7 of the NLRA with their non-disclosure agreement antics:

    “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection

    https://www.nlrb.gov/rights-we-protect/whats-law/employers/interfering-employee-rights-section-7-8a1

    Speaking out about dangerous work conditions at Tesla strikes me as the textbook definition of “mutual aid and protection.”

    I’m sick of hearing about how awesome Elon Musk is in the press; as far as this card-carrying union member is concerned he’s just a cheap 21st century knock-off of a 19th century robber baron.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Hmmm… Who would Bugs Bunny support less, Elon Musk or Marvin the Martian?
        “Elon should’ve taken a left turn at Albaquerky!”

        Reply
    1. polecat

      “Urinating al over Section 7 of the NLRA with their non-disclosure agreement antics.”

      Well, How Else are they supposed to put out those annoying SDA fires .. Umm ??

      Reply
    2. Anon

      If the article’s representation of that agreement is accurate, the agreement is unlawful and void. An employee cannot sign away their NLRA rights. If the employer tries to enforce the unlawful agreement, and an NLRB charge is filed, the employer will ultimately be ordered to remedy the unlawful conduct (which, for discharge, means backpay and reinstatement).

      Unsurprisingly, someone has filed an NLRB charge over the promulgation of this policy, among other claims: https://nlrb.gov/case/32-CA-197020. (Can someone find me a non-scummy company that is represented by Littler?)

      Reply
      1. GeophRian

        Personally, I would trust the financial advice of a Tarot Card reader over our financial firms given their track record of outright distain for their clients and glee in pillaging investor’s money. At least with Tarot readers you get a fun little show and ritual before wasting your money.

        Reply
      2. polecat

        As for looking for signs/casting the future, I prefer reading of the entrials of the Titans of Mammon … but that’s just me ..

        Reply
    1. diptherio

      Speaking of LIBOR, did any of the muni gov’ts that purchased interest rate insurance from the banks who were manipulating it last time, ever get refunds for that fraud? I never heard anything about it, if so.

      Reply
        1. Vatch

          From the article:

          “Citigroup did not admit wrongdoing.”

          Isn’t this the sort of thing that Judge Jed Rakoff complained about?

          Reply
      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LIBOR isn’t being scrapped because of collusion and lawbreaking (think about it: since when did those things hinder our Uber-lords the banks in the slightest?)

        No it’s being scrapped because interbank trade is flat to declining, banks only want CBs as counterparties.

        This means that 9 years into the crisis and banks still do not trust each other, kinda makes you wonder what $11 “Trillion with a T” in “temporary extraordinary emergency measures” bought us.
        But of course they expect us all to trust banks.

        Reply
        1. clinical wasteman

          Thanks, OTPBH, good point about the fictitious trading of fictitious capital.
          “Falsifying” the LIBOR always seemed a bit like “falsifying” Olympic gymnastic scores or Eurovision Song Contest/Academy Awards results: i.e. there a reason the verb “to fix” applies to virtuous and vicious judgement alike when the question is wholly whimsical (except, in the case of LIBOR, for the small matter of all consequences) in the first place. Even the FT Lex Column sort of admitted this the other day, but then thought better of it because: Liquidity.

          Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I can’t speak to the detail, but LIBOR has been sketchy for years. Some selected posts from NC:

      Stressed Banks Underreporting Libor Rates April 16, 2008

      Martin Mayer on Past and Current Misdeeds in Finance June 15, 2008:

      Mayer: What is happening on this LIBOR business? That is a very strange story that the five big banks are cooking their books on reporting LIBOR.

      The IRA: Well, with many banks now struggling to fund themselves, the larger banks don’t want to be seen as aggressively bidding in the funds markets for fear of starting a reputational issue a la Bear, Stearns (NYSE:BSC) or Lehman Brothers (NYSE:LEH). LIBOR is a manifestation that global investors don’t want to lend to US or even EU banks…..

      Libor Scandal Apologist Avinash Persaud Displays Inability to Do Math July 21, 2012

      Yes, Virginia, the Real Action in the Libor Scandal Was in the Derivatives July 6, 2012

      Bill Black: The Most Dishonest Number in the World: LIBOR March 17, 2014

      Also see LIBOR: Fear meter, or shock generator? I didn’t have the vocabulary back in 2008, but at that point LIBOR was a clear candidate for a phishing equilibrium.

      Reply
  4. Jim A.

    Re: the DPRK. Really the Kim dynasty is probably safe from the threat of neo-cons pushing “regime change” not so much because they keep upping the cost that we would pay, as they get nukes and ever longer range missiles, but simply because we don’t care all that much about the DPRK. The tens of thousands of Seoul residents that the Norks hold hostage with conventional artillery tubes are probably enough. notwithstanding their ability to lob nukes to Guam or Anchorage. Even though the US tends to promote a “no option is off the table,” stance I think that it would be helpful to give them just a bit of “safe” space even as we make it clear that in the event of a war, we would END them.,

    Reply
  5. Jim A.

    Republicans have made huge advances in small rural states — think Arkansas, North and South Dakota, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and West Virginia — that wield disproportionate power in the upper chamber compared to their populations.” You would expect the colonies to vote against the metropolis, no?

    And where do the 1%ers live? Where has most of the “recovery” from the Great Recession happened? With this sort of dynamic, should we be worrying about a “Rednexit”?

    Reply
      1. flora

        aside re: country bumpkins

        True story:
        Small town implement dealership (tractors, combines, plows, harrows, seeders, etc.) is “cased” over a weekend by “city slickers”. Said city slickers return during working hours on the following Tuesday to buy a tractor and comment they could have stolen dealership’s machinery over the weekend and got away scot free. Dealership employee responds, “not so.” Proceeds to describe (without having personally looked at) the city slickers car license plate number, make, and model information. (Which was phoned to the implement dealership employee over the weekend from small town residents who notice a stranger looking over the place.) Dealership employee is correct to the last detail.

        Where upon said city slickers’ jaws drop.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Yep. Mr Haney from “Green Acres” goes up against the country boys of “Straw Dogs.”
          Small towns have no privacy, none.

          Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        ?If the reference is to the US “War of Northern Aggression,” the “rednecks” i believe might have filled out the idiotic ranks of the army, but the conflict was mostly a result of 1% debate over the means and methods of looting the continent, and beyond. Mopes on both sides got to die, valiantly, in large numbers, in the first well-photographed war… Was it safer to be an embedded photojournalist in those days, one wonders…? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2545241/Haunting-images-Civil-War-casualties-captured-Abraham-Lincolns-Scottish-photographer.html

        Reply
  6. Quentin

    Try not to read too much into the expression ‘it was white of you.’ Because it was white of you. Don’t think that black is the opposite of white in this case.

    Reply
    1. justanotherprogressive

      What does “it was white of you” mean to you?

      I’m asking because I can’t imagine a place where saying something like that would be appropriate…….

      Reply
        1. justanotherprogressive

          Thanks – I’d never heard that idiom before….

          But err…..it wasn’t something NC said, it was something said to Lambert…..

          Reply
        2. Richard

          I remember it from John Sayles movie Eight Men Out, set in Chicago in 1919. Ring Lardner also used it in some short stories from that period, and it was a commonly used phrase among white people, demonstrating in its way the especially intense and all encompassing racism of that period.
          I had no idea this idiom was still passing current though; and might want to revise my historical condescension about the racism of 1920’s US with its implications of “growth”. Great slice of life, Lambert, thanks!

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            I remember hearing that phrase on the “Big Bang Theory” where it was used as a punch line but haven’t heard it otherwise in a long time. It’s so old a phrase now that it is almost quaint. It makes you think of Zoot suits or southern plantations. Isn’t the original phrase suppose to be ‘that’s mighty white of you’?

            Reply
      1. Janie

        I heard the expression on occasion from acquaintances in Oklahoma in the 50’s, if I recall correctly, from people 20 or 30 years my senior, so they’d be about a hundred now. It was somewhat common, and my mother would have commented that, yes, it certainly was common.

        Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          I first encountered the expression in the ‘hood, on the south side of Chicago, where it is used ironically (in the manner suggested by the urban dictionary) by black, not white people.

          and I have never heard it as anything other than “mighty white”.

          without the qualifier, it seems genuinely meant, rendering it jarringly racist instead of gently mocking.

          Reply
      2. JeffC

        I heard the “white of you” thing quite a few times growing up in the 60’s in the rural south and found it jarringly offensive every time. Even then and in that place it was clearly a horrible linguistic relic of an even uglier earlier time.

        Reply
      3. Mo's Bike Shop

        The phrase precedes the reduction of racism to black/white. Gary Trudeau, Doonesbury: ‘That was mighty white of you.’ Tho CD is too PoMo to care.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Had I not heard the previous statement about living too near a synagogue, I might have let it pass.

      Here’s the best source in my book: Ask Language Log: “…white of you”:

      Reader KH asks:

      I currently have a number of people trying to convince me that the phrase “that’s mighty white of you” originated in the American South in the ~1920s, deriving from racial ideas of whiteness and white supremacy. It was my understanding that “white” in this phrase derived from completely non-racial ideas correlating whiteness with purity or goodness. Do you know of any source that might settle this? I have not been able to find anything reliable on my own and thought you might have more extensive resources at your disposal.

      I believe that those other people are more right than you are, though they’re wrong about the details. The phrase — in its general form “(INTENSIFIER) white of PRONOUN” — seems to have originated in the 1890s, and was not especially associated with the American south. Rather, Americans in general used it to identify behavior felt to be stereotypically associated with WASPs, or at least with those of the better classes, as opposed to the dishonorable behavior to be expected from blacks, indians, jews, and pretty much everybody else.

      The OED glosses sense 4.b. of white as

      slang or colloq. (by extension from white man n. 2b; orig. U.S.) Honourable; square-dealing. Also as adv.

      with these citations:

      1876 W. Besant & J. Rice Golden Butterfly II. v. 83 A good fellow is Rayner; as white a man as I ever knew.
      1890 Cent. Mag. Feb. 523/2 There ain’t a whiter man than Laramie Jack from the Wind River Mountains down to Santa Fe.
      1913 E. Wharton Custom of Country ix, Well—this is white of you.
      1913 E. Wharton Custom of Country xviii, I meant to act white by you.

      It’s easy to find citations for the “(INTENSIFIER) white of PRONOUN” usage somewhat before 1913, e.g.

      “It’s deuced white of you, Vertner,” said Philip, with gloomy gratitude; “but you can’t do it.” (Wolcott Balestier, “Benefits Forgot“, The Century Illustrated Magazine, 1893)

      (Balestier died in 1891, so Benefits Forgot must have been written earlier than 1893.)

      It’s worth noting that in those days, “white” didn’t have the connotation that it does today, but rather referred (approximately) to northern European protestants and their descendants, excluding (for example) jews:

      “Well, I got the wagon all right and one fine, large and subsequent day I pays Mr. Wolf in full, him sorrowfully but firmly declining to partake of any interest; which was pretty damn white of him, when you stop to consider the style of nose he wore, and shows what climate will do.” (Eugene Manlove Rhodes, “Sticky Pierce, Diplomat“, Out West [“The Nation Back of Us, The World in Front: A Magazine of the Old Pacific and the New”], October 1906)

      (For an interesting discussion of the historical transition of Italian immigrants on this dimension, see Jennifer Guglielmo & Salvatore Salerno, Eds., Are Italians White?)

      Throughout American history, white was often implicitly or explicitly opposed to indian rather than to black. Thus in James Fenimore Cooper’s 1840 novel The Pathfinder,

      “A soldier’s calling is an honorable calling, provided he has fi’t only on the side of right,” returned the Pathfinder; “and as the Frenchers are always wrong, and His Sacred Majesty and the these colonies are always right, I take it the serjeant has a quiet conscience, as well as a good character. I have never slept more sweetly than when I have fi’t the Mingos, though it is the law with me to fight always like a white man, and never like an Injin.”

      And in certain places at certain times, the default non-white group would have been Chinese or Mexican.

      So the predicative phrase “(INTENSIFIER) white of PRONOUN” seems clearly to be American in origin, but I don’t find any evidence that it has any particular association with the American south. In fact, all of the early examples that I’ve seen are from other parts of the country: the west, the midwest, or the northeast.

      It seems to have become common during the period 1890-1920 or so, and to have been used to differentiate the stereotypically dependable ethics of WASPs….

      [Lambert blushes modestly].

      …from the stereotypically questionable ethics of everyone else.

      [I have to rush away and will return to this. My point, and I did have one, was that it is possible for any human to perform a charitable deed, making matters more complex than one’s kneejerk reactions can cope with…]

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Ha! Makes sense to me, as the child of a WASP and a Tamil. So how delightful the slightly mocking appropriation of the phrase among the currently most conspicuously non-WASP among us, blacks.

        And note that though there may be people of Jewish, Italian, Irish, etc. descent doing quite well for themselves today (hey, we had a black president, wink wink), bottom line is it is still the WASPS that comprise the core of the oligarchy.

        Reply
      2. craazyman

        What about a “white lie”?

        I think it comes from golfing in the snow. Here’s an excerpt from “An Ascot Afternoon” the 1894 novel by Edward Oliver Shiverlake, Esquire and Lord of Albion writtten by the fireside when he wasn’t having pints at the pub with the dog catcher and cake shop girls.

        “I say old chap it’s a bit nippy for a round of golf but fortified by our flasks of sherry and our stern English manners I’m sure we’ll have a go of it.”
        “It’s fokking cold as hell you old fuk, hit the fkking ball and let’s get back to the pub.”
        “Only one more hole and we’re done, here Simon hold my flask for a moment, there’s no dog about. See, I’ll wack it hard . . . Oh dear, right into the snowbank. There’s a white lie for you.”

        You’d wonder why a white lie would be a bad thing, but I guess that explains it!

        Reply
                1. ambrit

                  As Someone once said; “The Tree of Commerce is Watered With the Lifes-blood of Precariats.” Commerce, the Retail variety, is dependent upon Advertising, which, as H G Wells said, is Legalized Lying.

                  Reply
        1. clinical wasteman

          I didn’t set out earlier (see Rowland S. Howard above) to create a post-punk sub-thread, but would those be the Cake Shop Girls who “grow fingernails, dead long and rather sharp” in the song by the wonderful Swell Maps? “I would like“, adds Nikki Sudden towards the end “to substitute a cake for you and me“.
          https://play.spotify.com/track/1PV6P1NQNl2mW5QpGghyry?play=true&utm_source=open&utm_medium=signup-test&utm_campaign=link
          (Sorry, blocked on Youtube & not on Soundcloud, 2 of 3 members being dead.)

          As for “white lies”, it’s not an original observation, but: our lips move.

          Reply
  7. Synoia

    Elon Musk May Be a “Visionary,” But His Vision Doesn’t Seem To Include Unions

    I wonder where he grew up, and what the mores of that place were?

    This might apply:

    Now, go! Futsack! And remember that I am your master. I, Ulric von Stumm, who owns you as a Kaffir owns his mongrel.

    Greenmantle.

    Reply
    1. Huey Long

      Musk is an Afrikaner, and he grew up in the ‘White Laager’ during the last days of apartheid, ultimately leaving the country for Canada in 1989. The UN produced video below was filmed around the time he was a young lad and gives us some clues as to the social mores Musk grew up with in South Africa during the 1970’s/80’s:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kdKwg4yvR8

      Reply
  8. Bill

    re the rally in charlottesville guys who are mad at AIRBNB now.

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/599zmx/neo-nazi-to-troll-army-we-have-to-be-sexy-at-the-big-alt-right-rally

    some quotes from the PSA:

    We want to hit the average. We want normal people. We will not get only normal people, but we want the abnormal people that we do get to be attracted to us because we can make them normal, not because they want to indulge in their own abnormality.

    In fact, that is priority number one, so let me say it again, italicized: we have to be sexy.

    If you say, “but I don’t care about being sexy,” then I say to you: “I don’t care about what you care about, because all I care about is winning.”…People who see us have to want to be us. That means you have to go to the gym.

    The average white male is not rich and he isn’t poor. The average white male is severely disenfranchised, and does not feel he has a future. …but we all have X-Boxes and smartphones.

    We have problems with women. All of us do. We lie to each other and claim that we do not. But we all do.

    So we are selling ourselves to ourselves. The men who we want to join us are like us. We need nothing other than to become something that would appeal to us.

    Men are sick of having things explained to them by women. It is a turnoff. And it is useless. What does a woman have to offer you intellectually? Motivationally? Morally?…We need to keep women on the sidelines. Not speaking, not leading, and with no official membership in anything.

    Reply
      1. clinical wasteman

        Yes, sure is. And also kind of head-spinning that they imagine they need to make a concerted effort to repel women.

        Reply
  9. fritter

    He said yes, and added “It was white of you to help her.” I said, “I don’t know if it was white…

    In the South that would be a sarcastic complement. Either something that any decent person would have done as well, or some “good dead” that was well intended but exacerbated the problem.

    It was mighty white of you to help me move furniture. Even though I didn’t ask for help you got (most of) the dresser down the stairs and only took a small chunk out of the door all on your own.”

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Perhaps today, but “might white of you” was a old, racist phrase (the right word escapes me or I simply don’t know) directed towards blacks. who acted like a “white” person and not a racist caracture of black person. Its like saying “thanks son.” I wouldn’t recommend saying it.

      Bill O’Reilly wrote about his experience at a restaurant in Harlem some years ago (he still made regular appearances on The Daily Show long after this), and although he didn’t say “mighty white of you,” he might as well have.

      Reply
      1. Carolinian

        It’s an old and once semi-commonplace phrase probably used by liberals as much as by anybody else–usually uttered sarcastically. I don’t think it was used by whites speaking to blacks but maybe you are reaching way beyond my memory.

        Of course anyone using it in our post pc era probably is bit on the bigoted side as reinforced by the rest of Lambert’s anecdote.

        I’m by no means an advocate of pulling out the fainting couch over so-called hate speech but gratuitously using expressions that might offend perfect strangers is tacky and gross. It may not make you a racist but you are well on your way to being an….well, you know.

        Reply
        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          My memory is hazy on this, but the phrase originates with the start of the concept of “whiteness” which became necessary with the end chattel slavery and the start of second class citizenry both black and in the colonial era.

          I should add the shift to a “sarcastic” thank you makes sense as the Bill O’Reilly trip to Harlem focused on how normal his time was despite Harlem being populated by African Americans. It revolves around “low expectations” and how a black person should be thankful for being praised by a white person.

          Then of course, many people might not understand depending on their environment. Once my mom repeated a joke she had heard about two college football players and who was driving to my dad and myself. She had heard this from a person who would seem respectable, but my dad nominated me to explain to my mother what that joke meant.

          Reply
    2. diptherio

      That’s also how it was used in the rural Montana of my youth as well. A sarcastic “gee, thanks.” Haven’t heard it use in quite awhile now, though.

      Reply
      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        yup, this fits my sense of how it is used currently by blacks on the south side of Chicago, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be said to a white person, and may not indicate resentment in the moment, but it is shorthand for something like “there’s no need to get full of yourself over your good deed”–which pretty much captures the feelings of most in the ‘hood about white america, to whom it absolutely in the moment, applies.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          i suspect that when blacks use it they are doing so ironically as a this is a phrase that probably did originate among white people and probably did have racial overtones. You hear it in old movies for example.

          Reply
  10. Jim Haygood

    Lack of inflation remains the central trouble in the Federal Reserve’s policy efforts. Today’s results will not be improving expectations for the beginning of balance-sheet unwinding at the September FOMC.

    Balance sheet unwinding [a/k/a “normalization”] makes not the slightest sense when inflation is weak and falling.

    Somehow our bank cartel — even in the post-1971 fiat dollar era — remains determined to repeat our original 19th century hair-shirt normalization, which required Civil War inflation to be sweated out in a dismal quarter-century long deflation (1871-1896).

    J-Yel likely is the living reincarnation of Treasury secretary George S. Boutwell:

    Following in line with the Republican Party national platform of 1868, Secretary Boutwell advocated reduction of national debt and the return of the nation’s economy to one based on gold.

    Boutwell believed that the stabilization of the currency and the reduction of the national debt was more important than risking a depression by withdrawing greenbacks from the economy.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_S._Boutwell

    Take my greenbacks — PLEASE!

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Incomes flat to declining, prices (measured the way we did until 1990) rising +/- 10% per year, yep yep yep what we need here fer sure you see is for prices to go up some more, doncha know, it says so in this here book by J.M. Keynes.

      In 1930 Mao wrote a pamphlet entitled “Oppose Bookism”

      “How can someone go around with his eyes shut, talking nonsense? Surprisingly when problems are discussed there are people who say ‘show me where it’s written in the book’. We need “books” but we must definitely correct the bookism which departs from reality. We must study the books but they must be integrated with our actual situation”.

      Reply
    1. clinical wasteman

      That’s lovely news, thanks. I signed the petition at the invitation of the great Roddy Pain [https://soundcloud.com/dr_roddy], who further ruined my heart by dying in turn about a month later.
      Can only hope the idea catches on so that we’ll soon have Laughnersaurus [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ip9uMlCXRD8] and RonAshetonceratops [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxYXV2RrwIs] (Once again it’s the guitar player not the singer, although Iggy — named for the iguana himself — is also pure Fire of Love & Hate here).

      Reply
    1. Huey Long

      Thanks for the article!

      It looks like the state of Missouri should take a page out of New Jersey’s playbook and reform their cash bail system. They should probably also take a look at their child support non-payment laws too, but I digress.

      In NJ, where I’m originally from, bail reform was passed last year and went into effect on January 1st. So far pre-trial jail populations are down 20%:

      http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2017/07/njs_bail_population_dropped_20_percent_in_6_months.html

      The bail bondsmen aren’t happy, and neither are most of the commenters on NJ.com:

      http://www.nj.com/jjournal-news/index.ssf/2017/01/bail_reform_is_killing_our_bus.html

      Reply
      1. Odysseus

        However, the overhaul has faced heated criticism from police and local officials, who complain too many defendants are being released into the new system’s pretrial monitoring only to commit new crimes while awaiting trial.

        Note that no statistics on this claim are given. I would think that statistics to prove or disprove this claim would be *readily* available.

        Reply
  11. Karl Kolchak

    “…in Google’s case, its status as a ginormous monopoly and handmaiden of Stasi-like censorship.”

    I recently switched over to DuckDuckGo. At least if the controversy gets many others to abandon Google, that will be a small silver lining.

    Reply
    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I have just made the commitment to learn DDG. Earlier today I was searching for ‘wordpress plugin…” and could only find stack exchange and stack exchange scrapers in my results. I had to go and look up specifics before I could get google to direct me to results at wordpress->plugins. Not unexpected, Google makes me think about ‘Flowers for Algernon’ about two, three times a week.

      But! Then! I’m at my desktop, opening up articles I didn’t read on my phablet. Usually just type in the first few words and go. But when I tried typing in the title of the failed evolution article from links “why the us deliberately ignores the political nature…”…!! I finally typed the whole thing, and the first result is russophile dot something (Pinterest-style honey trap), next is breitbart, NC link shows up before FE–a third of the way down on 50 results.

      Aaaand I just went and double checked before posting, and did not find FE and all and got “In order to show you the most relevant results…” I clicked to see results other than the 43 google limited it to. 1.9 million the first time. 1.4 million the second go round. No quotes.

      It’s a dead parrot. It’s Alta Vista’d itself. I haven’t gone to another SE because they weren’t that different. Now DDG offers me the functionality that Google used to give me a month ago.

      Is there analysis out there of what happens when the MBAs replace the geeks? Because I suspect the people at the helm of Google search now really believe it was all about the algos.

      *I’m logged in, but have search settings cranked down to everything I learned on FDL and here at NC. Some weeks I just have to get used to G asking if I’m a robot.

      Reply
  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: today’s guillotine watch

    From the short bio on the author:

    John Stenderup, Manager, Grower-Shipper Supply Chain Services, conquered not only the tallest mountain in the world, Mount Everest, but also the fourth tallest mountain in the world, Lhotse, within a 24 hour period

    And from the author of this cheerleaderly piece of treacle:

    We all have the opportunity to realize any goal we set our minds to, whether that goal is set in the field or halfway across the world on top of a mountain. Whatever your peak is, go after it. Maybe you don’t achieve it exactly the way you envisioned, or maybe you don’t hit the summit, but you’re going to be a better person for it because you grow and learn in the process.

    Sounds to me like this go-getter set a goal of having a helicopter drop him off on two mountaintops and learned that it’s much quicker to get to the peak using the preferred transportation of the affluent, plus you avoid all those corpses and poopsicles along the path the little people take.

    Reply
    1. crittermom

      Love it!
      When I was 14 my dad brought home a stick shift sports car & began teaching me to drive it. My mother had never learned to drive a stick so he was adamant that I did.

      When I was 15 he insisted I take my drivers ed class using the school car with manual transmission (3 on the column).

      It was several years later when I came to actually appreciate the fact he had forced me to learn to drive many different vehicles when someone working on my car cut off their finger.
      With my car inoperable the only vehicle to drive him to the clinic with was his, a stick shift.

      I’m still driving a stick shift I bought new over 30 yrs ago (I prefer them in a 4WD). It’s now a bit comforting to think that few young punks may know how to steal it unless they’re accustomed to boosting luxury manual sports cars, in which case I doubt they’d be seen dead in my old ‘beater’.

      Reply
      1. RMO

        It depends on the car – a manual transmission won’t do much to keep a Civic Si, Type R, Subaru WRX STi etc. in your possession as they’re pretty heavily targeted by motivated thieves. The average car on the other hand would be a lot less likely to be stolen if it is a manual transmission car in a sea of automatics. Funny thing is that most of the real high end performance cars – Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, GTR – don’t have manual gearboxes anymore either as dual clutch automatics are generally faster.

        I’ve recently been car shopping with my wife and since we frequently trade vehicles with my Mum depending on what we need to use the car for my Mum came along to try out the prospects too. One of the salesmen asked her if she could drive a manual – which ticked her right off. She learned how to drive in an old farm truck with an unsynchronized gearbox and massively heavy clutch when she was 15!

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    2. Yves Smith

      I’ve always liked the idea of driving with a clutch but never mastered it. Plus I gather it’s really a nuisance in slow moving traffic. But I’d also assume that manual transmission cars skew to used cars pre much/any spying. And the fact that no one can drive with a stick anymore would mean they should be cheap. If I ever find myself having to own a car, it might be worth figuring out how to upskill myself here…

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      1. Eudora Welty

        I learned to drive clutch as an adult (liked it), but sold that car, drove one with an automatic transmission for a while – then, while car shopping, found out that I had forgotten how to drive clutch! It’s a skill you can lose quite easily. I was unable to just get into any car and start driving it, even with experience.

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      2. Clive

        It is a great way of preserving hand-eye-limb coordination. And some mental dexterity — you need to make quick decisions in dynamically variable situations.

        I keep urging my mother-in-law to ditch the stick shift (here in England everyone learns to drive using a stick and manual transmission vehicles are c. 80+% of those sold in the passenger car segment). But I am met with flat out refusal to learn to drive an auto. I am insistently told that keeping up the skill of using a stick shift is valuable in older age and, once you give it up, it’s tricky to get it back again proficiently.

        Muscle strength is important, too (clutches can have a long travel and need to be held fully “down” when depressed — if you’re of short stature this can be quite a work-out in traffic).

        There’s also the number of accidents where — at the risk of ageism, I’m sure younger drivers do this but it doesn’t get the reporting that Aunt Dorothy ploughing into a gas station does — older drivers jump on the accelerator pedal instead of (and as they meant to) hitting the brake. That’s pretty much impossible to do in a stick shift vehicle.

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        1. PlutoniumKun

          I suspect electrics and hybrids will slowly kill off the manual car. I get to try lots of different types as I don’t own a car, but rent or use go-cars (like zip cars). when I need one. I definitely feel more ‘connected’ and alert with a manual, and much prefer a manual when doing ‘tricky’ driving like on Irish rural roads. I drive a BMW i3 for the first time this week, my first all electric. It felt incredible, first time I had fun driving in traffic, just the way it would pop and surge at a press of the pedal – even braking is easier, as easing off the pedal pulls you to a gentle stop.

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      3. Kfish

        I prefer manual drive because it forces me to pay attention to the road. Each significant change of speed requires a corresponding gear shift, so it’s impossible to zone out the way one might with an automatic.

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      4. Fiery Hunt

        Actually had a car salesmen (I’m looking to replace my 20 year old Ford truck) tell me A) manuals are hard to find and B) there’s a theft deterrent! Quote…”not even thieves know how to drive a stick anymore.”

        Feeling better about wanting to keep with a stick shift…

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  13. Stephen Tynan

    It may be a surprise to Judge Amit Mehta that he’s (a) female.
    I’m still living in the 20th century; on some days, the 16th.

    Reply
  14. John Beech

    “Amazon sees that a product is selling well, and may decide to work with manufacturers to make the product itself”

    Nothing new about this because distributors have been cherry picking manufacturer’s wares and making competing products since the beginning of time. After all, they’re privy to the numbers. Not kosher in my book but common as dirt. The trick is in having the discipline of not letting one large vendor become your sole (or biggest) buyer.

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    1. polecat

      Maybe those Gaian fruitcakes were the result of some failed Hostess product line …. hence the non-perishability factor ….

      Preserved for millenia

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  15. robnume

    Thanks for that take, l.a.b.. “Observations from on top of Mt. Olympus.” When will the squillionaires get down off of their high-horses?

    Reply

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