2:00PM Water Cooler 8/1/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“Some of the biggest cheerleaders of free trade, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Foreign Trade Council, aren’t biting on a Trump administration request for comments on its review of trade agreement violations and abuses” [Politico]. “‘Preparation of this annual report is required by statute,’ the Chamber said in its comments. ‘U.S. Chamber member companies and associations have long contributed extensively to the preparation of this report, which is and should be the default resource for the administration as it considers the next steps in its trade policy actions.'”



“The First 2020 Candidate Is … Hold On, I Had The Name Right Here … John Delaney” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Democratic U.S. Rep. John Delaney of Maryland has declared that he is running for president. You heard that correctly: A serious elected official has declared his candidacy just six months into President Trump’s term. Trump still has another 3.5 years to serve.” Bio: “John is Chairman Emeritus of CapitalSource. Prior to CapitalSource, he founded HealthCare Financial Partners, a successful company that was started in 1993 and became a public company in 1996.”

“Obama’s Inner Circle Is Urging Deval Patrick to Run” [Politico]. Harris is Clinton 2.0. Patrick is Obama 2.0. Please do continue to circle the drain!

“Bernie Sanders’s Campaign Isn’t Over” [The New Yorker]. Pretty good for The New Yorker. “Since the election, he has staged events in Michigan, Mississippi, Maine, West Virginia, Arizona, Nevada, Ohio, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Montana, Florida, Iowa, Maryland, and Illinois. At every one, he speaks about the suffering of small-town Americans, and his belief that the Democrats can help them…. Sanders is not a storyteller. His speeches, blunt and workmanlike, depend upon dramatizing social statistics.” And on the so-called “Better Deal”:

Last week, in a small town in northern Virginia, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, announced the Party’s platform for 2018, “A Better Deal,” which is aimed at winning back working-class voters. The platform includes a fifteen-dollar minimum wage and a trillion-dollar investment in infrastructure, plans that Sanders has long promoted, often with little support. Many people in the Democratic Party believe that, when it comes to policy, Sanders has prevailed. Sanders does not see it that way. He told me, ‘Do not underestimate the resistance of the Democratic establishment.’


When the Democratic Party fractured, in the primaries, it was like a bone cracking

Yeah. And sometimes you have to re-break a bone for it to heal properly. “The Democrat Party presented with a malunion fracture….”

Obama Legacy

Discussion of whether Obama ever bullied anybody:

Example: “OBAMA: ‘Got the little single payer advocates up here.'” Amazing that somebody as well-paid and influential and woke as Tanden is so ignorant (assuming good faith).


“I asked a smart, veteran campaign Republican consultant what advice he was giving clients in competitive races on how to best navigate between Trumpism and traditional Republicanism. ‘Localize the race without needlessly antagonizing Trump or his supporters,’ he said” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “It should be pointed out that the above advice is exactly the approach that Karen Handel employed in her come-from-behind victory in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District special election last month. Candidates need to be able to thread the needle, not taking on the burdens of Trump but not alienating his supporters either.” As for Democrats: “It’s fashionable these days to say that Democrats have to stand for something if they’re going to win a House majority and break even in the Senate. Balderdash. I have never seen a party win a midterm election on the issues; midterms are always a referendum on the party in power.”

Lambert here: Personally, I don’t see why Cook’s claim (“balderdash”) has to stay valid; see the Sanders link above. The next election is always the focus of the strategists and consultants because they get their cut from that election, as do influence-peddling Flexians; and today’s liberal Democrat Establishment can be reduced, without loss of generality, to those two subclasses. So, for them, and for — much as I enjoy reading him — horse-race touts like Cook, the next election is paramount; that’s their rice bowl. For voters, however, policy really is important — Trump, after all, fought and won the 2016 election on policy, crude as it was — and policy can only be determined and fought for over many elections. Schumer’s flaccid “Better Deal” is a back-handed tribute to this view; Our Revolution’s “People’s Platform”, by contrast, is a good faith effort. At some point, and for good or ill, the voters’ obvious demand for visible, skin-in-the-game, policy-based strategy — my candidate is universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class — is going to break through, and some institution/candidate will ride the ensuing flood. I’m sure the Whigs were all about winning the next mid-term, too. That worked. Until it didn’t.

UPDATE “Democrats snub new party message” [Politico]. “Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and other Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill will spend the next 15 months talking up the “Better Deal” economic message they unveiled last week….’ Just as there isn’t one kind of Democrat, there [is] not just one kind of message that works,’ said California Rep. Jim Costa, a Blue Dog Coalition co-chair. ‘One size doesn’t fit all. We have an economically diverse country.'” So if there’s no reason for Democrats to say together — other than ka-ching, ka-ching — why not just break up the party for parts, as if it were the sort of conglomerate that subtracts value from its components? (Of course, Costa is simply wrong, since the brute fact of wage work is not “diverse” but universal and hence — one would think! — the interests of wage workers are universal or at least electorally maximal, despite the best efforts of identity politicians to obscure that fact.) And then: “̌’If you’re not in the majority, there shouldn’t be a coordinated message,’ said another Democratic consultant who is working on a wide range of 2018 races, acknowledging that arguing against a unified message is unfashionable at the moment. “The message should be: The other guy sucks, or The Iraq War sucks, depending on the decade.'” Yeah. “Contract with America.” What a debacle that was for Gingrich! Oh, wait…

Health Care

“Meet the Democrats Running on Single-Payer Health Care” [Rolling Stone].

Trump Transition


“The Trump administration expects tax reform legislation to move quickly through Congress this fall, advancing through the House in October and clearing the Senate in November, legislative director Marc Short said Monday. Markups will begin in September, he said during an event hosted by a pair of conservative political groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers — Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity” [Politico]. How cozy.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Former Clinton Staffer Pleads Guilty in Scheme to Pay Off Primary Challenger” [Observer]. Admirably simple and direct. Why not? Markets in everything!

“Don Willett’s Lone Star Legal Show” [Governing]. Re: Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation: “The state’s regulatory requirements were not just extreme, [Patel] concluded, but ‘preposterous.’ To pursue the low-paying job, prospective eyebrow threaders had to pay thousands of dollars in fees and were required to complete more than five times as many hours of initial training as emergency medical technicians. ‘If these rules are not arbitrary,’ Willett wrote in a concurring opinion, ‘then the definition of ‘arbitrary’ is itself arbitrary.'” I can think of a lot of low-paying jobs that require thousands of dollars in fees — anything at all that requires a credential, including a B.A. — so Willet’s opinion would deregulate a lot of labor markets besides eyebrow threaders. Anyhow, eight or twelve years down the line, I’m picturing Willet on the dais of a Constitutional Convention….

Recent constitutional scholarship has demonstrated that the permissive vision of a broad right to carry emerged in the antebellum South, frequently in decisions rendered by pro-slavery judges. Given this fact it is not surprising that Wrenn’s justification for a right to carry cites these southern cases to support its gun rights conception of the Second Amendment. The only non-southern case cited, Thompkins v. Johnson, deals with a slave owner trying to recover a runaway slave in Pennsylvania. In that case the court concluded that the slave owner had a right to both arm himself and travel armed so that he could recapture his slave. In its opinion, the court reminded Americans: ‘the law of the land recognizes the right of one man to hold another in bondage, and that right must be protected'” [Take Care]. “If the Wrenn court seriously believes that this sordid part of the American legal tradition ought to be made the lodestar of modern Second Amendment jurisprudence, then the court needs more than a lesson in history, it needs to take a class in basic ethics and morality.”

“LePage rallies his supporters against Susan Collins” [Bangor Daily News]. “The governor railed against the moderate Republican senator at a Saturday pig roast put on by the Somerset County Republican Committee in Canaan, where an attendee said LePage repeatedly mentioned working to defeat Collins if she runs for governor next year.”

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, June 2017: “It’s hard to detect much life in any part of the personal income & outlays report” [Econoday]. “The weakness in income, at least for June, isn’t due to weakness in wages & salaries which rose 0.4 percent following, however, only a 0.1 percent gain in May. Propreitor income fell in the month with interest income flat and rental income and transfer receipts up. The breakdown for spending shows a second straight 0.3 percent gain for the largest component which is services but 0.4 percent declines for both durable and non-durable goods. What little spending did appear in June may have come from savings, at least slightly, as the savings rate fell 1 tenth to a thin 3.8 percent rate. There are plenty of jobs in the economy but wage growth is sub par and with it both consumer spending and inflation are flat. These results do not point to much consumer momentum going into the third quarter.” Generally Econoday waves at least one pom-pom, so this is a bit dispiriting (and real data, too — for some definition of real — not a survey). Fear of a rate hike? And but: “The latest release was close to expectations, although a slightly higher than expected reading for the core data will offer some reassurance to the Federal Reserve. There will still be underlying uncertainty unless there is evidence of a significant upturn in the inflation data” [Economic Calendar]. And but: “This is an annual update month, and everything seems to have been revised downward” [Econintersect]. “Consumer spending with this revision shows it is far outpacing income – not good news. And the savings rate has been significantly revised downward. Inflation grew this month. The backward revisions this month SIGNIFICANTLY affected the year-over-year rate of growth for income and expenditures…. Looking at the inflation adjusted 3 month trend rate of growth, disposable income growth rate trend is decelerating while consumption’s growth rate is also decelerating.” On the other hand: “The increase in personal income was below expectations, and the increase in PCE was close to expectations” [Calculated Risk].

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, July 2017: “Markit’s US manufacturing sample continues to report moderate growth with a rebound in new orders a highlight for July with lack of inflation pressures, however, a continuing concern” [Econoday]. “This sample has been running at a much more subdued pace than ISM’s manufacturing sample, adding credibility perhaps to July’s respectable results.”

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, July 2017: “Another month and another strong report” [Econoday]. “If the nation’s factory sector could only live up to this report, strong acceleration through the second half would be the call. However this report, unlike the PMI manufacturing sample released earlier this morning, has been running at unusually strong rates all year.” More modified rapture. And but: “Slightly below consensus expectations” [Economic Calendar]. “The overall survey rhetoric was generally positive and there were further reports of labour shortages, especially in the transport sector and these shortages are likely to hold back output growth over the next few months.” And but: “ISM manufacturing index movements have correlated with Industrial Production Manufacturing index only half the time in the last 12 months. Based on this survey and the weak district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index to be unchanged in June. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession” [EconIntersect]. On the other hand: “This was slightly below expectations of 56.4%, and suggests manufacturing expanded at a slower pace in July than in June”” [Calculated Risk]. “Still a solid report.”

Construction Spending, June 2017: “June’s construction spending report has much in common with June’s personal income and outlays released earlier this morning: lack of any apparent life” [Econoday]. “Spending fell an unexpected 1.3 percent in June with a 3 tenths upward revision to May only a minor offset.” No pom-poms here, either. And: “There was significant backward revision starting in April 2017. The rolling averages declined. Also note that inflation is grabbing hold – and the inflation adjusted numbers are showing no growth” [Econintersect]. And: “This was well below the consensus forecast of a 0.5% increase for June, and spending for previous months were revised down. A weak report” [Calculated Risk].

Housing: “The growing underclass of the Orange County Bubble: You need to earn an hourly wage of $28 to afford a basic one-bedroom apartment but 68 percent of OC jobs pay less than that amount” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “And finally, the vast majority of the new building is focusing on higher income housing.”

Commodities: “Aluminum may not be turning into the new steel, after all. Auto makers are stepping up their use of aluminum as they look for lightweight alternatives to the heavier sheet metal in many vehicles, but… that search is giving way to a patchwork of materials as a fundamental part of the automotive supply chain is bent into new configurations” [Wall Street Journal]. “Producers are responding, however, with moves to new materials including magnesium and carbon fiber, and steelmakers have rolled out stronger but lighter steels. That’s slowed the growth of some aluminum producer.”

Commodities: “Nebraska governor says NioCorp’s Elk Creek a ‘high-priority’ project” [Mining.com]. “In a letter to the White House, [Governor] Pete Ricketts said that green-lighting Niocorp’s huge superalloy project in southeast Nebraska could help the country produce American-made ‘super steels’ for infrastructure projects across all 50 states. ‘We need niobium, Mr. President, yet we don’t mine a single pound of it in the US today,’ governor Pete Ricketts wrote.”

Commodities: “Commodity-focused companies are looking stronger, although not entirely because of a turnaround in underlying business. The past year has seen mining, energy and other commodity businesses lead a surge in corporate bonds that have reached investment grade… in part because those companies have slashed costs, sold assets and cleaned up balance sheets” [Wall Street Journal]. “Energy and basic materials businesses accounted for 85% of the bonds moving into to Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s high-grade index, opening those companies to lower-cost borrowing.”

Commodities: “Scientists find evidence for the formation of thinnest possible diamond” [Mining.com] (original). when a pair of graphene sheets are squeezed to pressures around tens of thousands of times that of Earth’s atmosphere and in the presence of specific chemical groups such as hydrogens, the crystal structure appears to morph from graphite to diamond.” If I’m translating correctly, graphene sheets are “atom thick,” so yes, “thinnest possible.”

Shipping: “With voting by longshore workers complete, early returns show a majority of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members agreeing to a three-year contract extension with the Pacific Maritime Association” [Logistics Management]. “This contract extension, which would be the first of its kind, would cover workers at all 29 West Coast ports.”

Shipping: “‘Once burned, twice learned’ appears to be the cliche of the day as West Coast dockworkers and waterfront management closed in late Friday on an extraordinary step to extend their collective bargaining agreement for three years, despite being just halfway through their current compact” [DC Velocity]. Less measured language than Logistics Management!

Shipping: “The major recent investments in innovation and technology by a number of large third-party logistics providers (3PLs) may limit the opportunities of digital start-ups in the sector, some of whom may decide their future lies in niche sectors or partnering with ‘bricks and mortar’ rivals rather than remaining independent” [Lloyd’s Loading]. “That’s the view of leading industry analyst Evan Armstrong, president of 3PL market research company Armstrong & Associates, who told Lloyd’s Loading List: ‘In third-party logistics, technology can disrupt and create competitive advantage until it is replicated and becomes commonplace across multiple 3PLs. This adaptation tends to take from six months to two years. ‘Startups need to act fast to build on technological advantage before it is replicated. The other option is to sell to a 3PL.'”

Shipping: “The path towards oligopolisation in container shipping took another step forwards with the proposed $6.3 billion sale of Hong Kong-based Orient Overseas International Ltd. (OOIL) to Chinese state-owned Cosco Shipping Holdings Ltd. (Cosco) and Shanghai International Port Group Co. (SIPG), announced a couple of weeks ago” [Lloyd’s List].

Supply Chain: “Boeing Co. is taking more complete control of critical pieces of its aircraft manufacturing supply chain. The jet maker is creating a unit to develop and build aircraft avionics systems…. moving more deeply into the electronics behind planes as the company expands its strategy of insourcing key technology to cut costs. The move takes Boeing further into the territory of big suppliers, following its push to get more involved in the aftermarket service and maintenance business of big engine providers” [Wall Street Journal] “Steep changes are underway in aerospace supply chains. Boeing is hoping to reduce costs with more vertical integration of its manufacturing, but the actions may also provide more control of production and a tighter grip on revenue from its aircraft sales.”

The Bezzle: “500 Startups shuts down its Canada fund” [TechCrunch]. “Following sexual harassment allegations that led to the resignation of 500 Startups co-founder Dave McClure, it’s now emerged that the troubled VC firm has abandoned its Canada fund. According to reports in The Globe and Mail and BetaKit, the saga made it difficult to move forward with the next phase of 500 Canada, where it had a profit-sharing relationship.”

Mr. Market: “A third of millennials think now is the time to jump into the market” [MarketWatch]. Noted without comment.

Five Horsemen: “Facebook rules the roost, while Apple’s silver spaceship fails to achieve liftoff from ‘market performer’ status” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Aug 1

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Aug 1 at 11:55am.

Health Care

“Big Medicare Advantage Bonus Scam Alleged” [Center for Public Integrity] (the headline is from RCP; I think it’s more to the point). “United Healthcare Services Inc., which runs the nation’s largest private Medicare Advantage insurance plan, concealed hundreds of complaints of enrollment fraud and other misconduct from federal officials as part of a scheme to collect bonus payments it didn’t deserve, a newly unsealed whistleblower lawsuit alleges.” As I keep saying, Medicare has a really bad neoliberal infestation. Even #MedicareForAll may only storm the outer walls of the citadel, if any of the phishing equilibria that encourage fraud like this are allowed to exist.

Guillotine Watch

“How Rent Spikes Are Creating Fine Dining ‘Deserts’ In New York City” [Bloomberg]. The URL: “high-rents-in-union-square-west-could-create-a-food-desert.” The writer had “fine dining” confused with “food,” so the editor fixed it…

“… this is coming from someone who ordered a bookcase from Amazon that sat unopened for months until I hired a TaskRabbit…. “[New York Magazine]. “A TaskRabbit.” Nice.

Class Warfare

“‘It’s time to win back our government and put it to work for all of us. Corporations and right-wing politicians have rigged the political system, and we’ve had enough. Together, we are building a cross-class, multiracial movement in Durham that is 10,000 people strong,’ the Durham For All website states. ‘This rigged system only works when the majority of people aren’t taking action together. When democratic participation is small and people are divided, the wealthy and powerful win. To be successful, our movement needs to be massive and stand up for all of us. Our goal is to bring 10,000 people into action, because 10,000 is the number of people we need to elect or un-elect local elected officials'” [Durham Herald Sun].

“A group of high-profile Democratic Senators, led by Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote letters to the nation’s top retail CEOs Monday, demanding they crack down on trucking companies that turned their workers into modern-day indentured servants” [CNBC]. “The call to action comes in response to a yearlong USA TODAY Network investigation that found port trucking companies in California forced their drivers into debt, pressured them to work up to 20 hours a day and paid them pennies per hour.”

News of the Wired

“Dynamics of medieval cities” [Understanding Society]. “Cities provide a good illustration of the ontology of the theory of assemblage (link [this is interesting — lambert]). Many forms of association, production, logistics, governance, and population processes came together from independent origins and with different causal properties. So one might imagine that unexpected dynamics of change are likely to be found in all urban settings…. This study presents a fascinating contemporary test of a thesis that would surely have interested Pirenne almost a century ago: did medieval cities develop spatially in ways that reflect a reasonable degree of freedom of choice among residents about where they lived and worked? And the data seem to confirm a ‘yes’ for this question.” Sounds better than Manhattan today. Or London in Sloan Square or Kensington (particularly the Grenfell Tower area).

“Behavioral self-organization underlies the resilience of a coastal ecosystem” [Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences]. “Our paper provides clear experimental evidence that spatial self-organization profoundly increases the ability of ecosystems to persist in the face of disturbance.”

“Is There a Giant Planet Lurking Beyond Pluto?” [IEEE]. Yes. That’s where the aliens set up their Interstellar Customs and Quarantine Station.

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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 (Samuel Conner):

Samuel Conner writes:

The attached plant photo is not particularly unusual or attractive, but might be of interest to home gardeners among your readership. The cages are unusual and very cheap compared to pre-fabs, which are hard to find as tall as this. This is my first year of really good (by my standards) veggie production, and it’s mostly by accident. I basically haven’t been gardening long enough to have enough useful bad (and occasional accidental good) learning lessons.

This is a row of four Montesino grape tomato plants, supported by Tractor Supply 4’x8′ “handy panels” bent into “U”-shapes to form roughly 18″ by 8′ cages, and a conventional “cone” cage to help a drooper that rooted. The 2nd plant from right has outgrown the tall cage; it’s approaching 9′ high. These plants have grown much more luxuriantly than other tomatoes in my garden; the reason seems to be that I planted them in part of my weed-grass patch (which at the moment I think is Bermuda grass, a disagreeable diagnosis). I dug this part very deep to get the deep storage tubers. These four plants are in what is basically a double-dug bed while the others, which are doing much less well, are single-dug. I have a dense clay pan about a foot down, and breaking that up in the double-dug area may have really helped these plants, particularly in the dry conditions this Summer. The last time I tried to double-dig, about a decade ago, it was so disagreeable that I promised myself to never do that again, but the weed-grass changed that, with an unexpected happy outcome.

I’m always interested in gardening projects like this one, and if other readers have similar projects, my contact info is above. I was a bad person yesterday; I didn’t weed….

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Code Name D

      Running for presdent is big buisness these days. It’s all about the money. But aprntly big money donations for the democrats are down this year, with so many donners jumping ship and bankroling Trump-Republicans.

    2. Kokuanani

      Delaney is my Congress-person. A real toad. [OTOH, we used to be represented by Chris Van Hollen who’s now a Senator.]

      Delaney represents a district created [gerry-mandered] to pick up just enough Dems outside of Washington DC to offset the longtime Republican voters in the strip along the northern border of Maryland.

      The former representative of this district, Roscoe Bartlett, was a crazy old coot who appealed to those equally nutty Republicans and was re-elected again and again. I worked in two campaigns in the 2000s for a really good Dem who tried to unseat Barlett: Andrew Duck. Grew up in the district, served two tours in Afghanistan, was involved in military purchasing there so could speak intelligently about budget matters.

      The new gerry-mandered district was created after the 2010 census [Duck ran prior to this, without much help from the DNC, but was supported by veterans’ groups]. Delaney is a rich guy; serving as Congressman has been like a vanity project. All locals thought he was going to run for governor. Don’t know what possessed him to challenge Trump.

      He has about as much charisma as Hillary.

        1. John k

          No, no. If he dint have any he would have way more than she does. That way she has of obbing her head as she agrees with herself… a little off putting.

      1. Teri

        You must be something of a neighbor to me, then. Delaney is my Congress-dude, too. He ran as a Democrat because, well, because some reason. The man is a Republican to the bone. Also one of the wealthiest men in Congress. His favorite and only goal has been to get his Public-Private Infrastructure Plan through Congress, and he’s getting close now that he has Trump and the Republicans to work with. All very bipartisan and such. In his last newsletter to his constituents, he talked about how “excited” he was to be “working with the Trump administration” to move the plan forward. His plan includes the usual: privatization of the commons, forgiveness of corporate off-shored money, lowering the corporate tax rate, municipal bond deals, subsidies for the corporations paid for by the tax-payers, and a really swell (not) idea about creating an “infrastructure fund”. This last idea is presented thusly by Delaney:

        “My bill would create an American Infrastructure Fund (AIF), a large-scale financing capability that could act like a bond insurer or bank for state and local governments to build transportation, energy, water, communication and educational infrastructure. The fund would be capitalized with $50 billion that could be leveraged 15 to 1 to create a $750 billion infrastructure financing capability. Over 50 years, the AIF could finance $2 trillion worth of infrastructure and create more than 3 million jobs. ”

        So assuming you buy into the idea of private ownership of the public infrastructure AND the idea that we need to offer inducements to the corporate world to get them to actually pay their damn taxes, AND the idea that the taxpayers at the state level should be on the hook for all this bond insurance shinola, the best-case scenario offered by Delaney himself is 3 million jobs over the next 50 years (!!!!!) and every road a toll road. I like to call this sort of thing, which is very much like the trickle-down theory, the “Economic Theory of Chrystal Blue Persuasion”.

        But hey, we did get rid of that old slumlord, Roscoe. Not sure we traded up, though.

    1. Trixie from Dixie

      Maybe the “law of unintended consequence” will bite them in the arse! Unbelievable! After NPR’series on Russia, with all the missing facts…karma, anyone? We can only hope for change, where have I heard that one?

  1. Left in Wisconsin

    “Steep changes are underway in aerospace supply chains. Boeing is hoping to reduce costs with more vertical integration of its manufacturing, but the actions may also provide more control of production and a tighter grip on revenue from its aircraft sales.”

    This is very interesting – back to vertical integration. I guess those “complex, multi-national” supply chains aren’t as hard, or costly, to disrupt if you are Boeing.

  2. WobblyTelomeres

    “ordered a bookcase from Amazon that sat unopened” – well, I guess that answers the question, “Who assembles Paris’ bookcases?”

    1. Arizona Slim

      Oh, for goodness sakes. Whatever happened to creating bookshelves from cinder blocks and boards? You don’t need to hire anyone to do that.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Ha! They got me kicked out of my apartment is what they did. I was on the second floor, cinder blocks and boards, with my stereo speakers sitting on the top. Apparently, because of the cinder blocks, they became directly coupled to the floor. This resulted in the apartment below me getting the full experience.

        At the time, I was fascinated with the bass line in McCoy Tyner’s Love Samba (on the album Atlantis) and listened to it every night after work. Got kicked out for being a nuisance. Decided it was time to buy a house.

      2. Huey Long


        I built a bookcase that way back when I was renting a room in Boston a number of years ago. The only lousy part of that arrangement was when it came time to move. Heaviest bookcase EVER!

        1. Oregoncharles

          That would actually be quite attractive. Great idea.

          I tried using 12″ pieces of red brick pipe, but the trouble was the ends weren’t quite square, so it wasn’t very stable.

          The practical problem with anything like this is that it takes up a lot of space on the shelves, and because it isn’t nailed together, can collapse. But millions of people have started with it. Built shelves aren’t cheap, even used.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Not the point!!!!!!

      The point is that the New York Magazine writer called the working person “A TaskRabbit.” Totally dehumanizing.

      Even in Upstairs, Downstairs, the servants had names.

      1. Oregoncharles

        ;Agreed. It’s even an easy mistake to avoid: “a worker from TaskRabbit.” No need to publish their name, unless you want to recommend them.

      2. andyb

        TaskRabbit could be the latest version of AngiesList. Just think. Need anything done, but are too lazy or incompetent to do it yourself? Could even get a TaskRabbit to replace you at a menial job. Or will they be minimum wage protected?

  3. flora

    ‘ ““A group of high-profile Democratic Senators, led by Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote letters to the nation’s top retail CEOs Monday, demanding they crack down on trucking companies that turned their workers into modern-day indentured servants” [CNBC]. ‘

    ooooh. Some Dems send a Sternly Worded Letter. That’ll show’em. (no need for legislation) /s

    1. hemeantwell

      Brett Murphy of USA Today should get a round of applause for his work on the story. He seems to be the paper’s most substantive bridge to their working class readership.

    2. RUKidding

      Well we certainly don’t want hamstring all those very busy, so hard working CEOs with onerous and burdensome legislation and regulations, would we??

      Just appeal to their morals and ethics, and no doubt those appropriately compensated CEOs will surely do the “right thing.”

      Do I need a snark tag here?

  4. craazyboy

    “Chelsea And Her Haggetts”

    Got ’em for her Birthday
    Came wrapped in a baguette
    You can wear one or two
    Exclaimed a Note tucked inside
    Will the look on Hubby’s face
    Gain his entrance to The Other Side?

    Will Chelsea get all Giggly?
    Like a 15 year old girl?
    Will Hubby just go fer it?
    Or will he take a Big Pill?

    The Claim being Headache
    Overworked at the Office, too.
    He’s just awesomely too tired
    To give Chelsea a [family blog].

    The Hedge Fund was a downer
    Giving all that money back.
    Good thing it was counterfeit
    Let them try and trace that!

    It’s all fiat anyway,
    What with MMT and all,
    Who cares if the rich folks counterfeit it,
    Then invest it with Chelsea too?

      1. andyb

        Well the 20+ $Trillion of fiat handed out by the FED to European and US banks after the onset of the Great Recession sure was real money, wasn’t it? That’s why they are still technically bankrupt, and derivative debted up the wazoo.

  5. JohnnyGL

    Re: gardening

    Richard Perkins does a lot of youtube videos about permaculture farming and is worth watching if you are into that kind of thing.

    He did a nice video where he compared two nearly identical fruit trees, both around a year old and planted within a month of each other. One of them leafed out much earlier and had already added some height substantially earlier in spring. Perkins said the only difference was that the more successful tree had had a deeper, wider hold dug for it when planting.

    I guess the lesson of this anecdote and your plant pic story from today is to dig BIG! Make life easier for the roots to do their thing. They can’t do it as easily in compacted soils.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      One reason I believe in sheet mulch is that it makes worms happy. Let the worms work the soil so you don’t have to!

      I really don’t believe in digging, let alone rototilling, at least when the soil has structure.

  6. Greycat

    In this morning’s “Links” there were two articles debating optimism and pessimism about the current state of the world. Then in this afternoon’s “Water Cooler” there is a link to a study about Medieval cities. Further down the page of the linked post there is an review of a new collection of essays: Morphogenesis and the Crisis of Normativity by Margaret Archer (2016). The reviewer pulls this quote:

    Do shared values promote social stability and social integration, or is it the other way round? Is it rather that social stability fosters normative consensus about the legitimacy of the rule of law, the appropriateness of prevailing rules and attachment to existing conventions? This question has a long history in the philosophy of law and the sociology of development, whose respective thinkers often took different positions during the twentieth century.

    1. hemeantwell

      M’gawd, that takes me back to Soc 101 and the TA hooting about theories that essentially claim that values fall from trees. Values are grounded in useful/enjoyable routines of behavior. Even radical values critical of existing institutions derive from some practical nexus. That’s why the Nazis promoted Gleichschaltung, it wasn’t just to control, it was to erase the experience of alternatives to fascist sociality.

  7. lyman alpha blob

    Read somewhere recently – probably here – that William Hogeland’s book The Whiskey Rebellion was a nice antidote to all the Hamilton hagiography of recent months.

    Picked it up recently and I’m only 75 pages in but so far it is a fascinating read that might be a great interest to many here. I was not expecting a treatise on finance but that’s how the book begins and Hogeland does a tremendous job of explaining how the economic system most of us currently suffer under came to be.

    The whiskey tax that inspired the rebellion was one of the first imposed in the US and the reason for it was both to produce revenue for the new nation and to give the currency value (sound familiar MMTers?). All the various state and federal government-issued paper currency was essentially worthless after the war and there were a lot of bondholders who Hamilton wanted to ensure were paid in full who wouldn’t accept the paper then in circulation as payment. Of course nobody was quite as concerned about back pay for the soldiers who actually fought the war who often had gone years without any pay. Lots of fascinating financial details which I’m not doing justice to (so read the book!) but essentially the founding fathers of Hamilton’s ilk basically stuck it to the deplorables of their day to make themselves rich. Hamilton argued that the whiskey tax was simply a sin tax that no one was required to pay but those on the receiving end of it new better since due to the fluctuating value of paper money, whiskey essentially was currency for the less well off members of the nation as it retained value much better than the paper of the time. So the same working class got stiffed on their military pay and then taxed to destitution once the war was over while Hamilton and his buddies made off like bandits.

    A side benefit of this tax for Hamilton’s class was the creation of monopolies which was intentional. So when we rail against Google and Amazon we should bear in mind that they are merely doing what our blessed founding fathers intended them to do.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And recall that, for years before their fateful duel, Hamilton had been baiting Burr. Let’s just say that Burr put an end to all of that Hamiltonian trash-talking.

      1. Carolinian

        In Burr Gore Vidal suggests the root of their quarrel was Hamilton’s statement at a party that Burr had had relations with his beloved daughter Theodosia. Unclear how factual this tidbit is although Vidal’s novels can be surprisingly factual. They only read like he made it all up because everything is in his voice.

        1. SufferinSuccotash

          Being Vidal, he also had to suggest that Hamilton wasn’t talking trash after all.

    2. hemeantwell

      Dunno how far to run with the parallel, but it’s worth pointing out that the vodka tax was the Tsar’s biggest revenue source. After Bloody Sunday in 1905, politically conscious workers would boycott and even attack government run drink shops to hit the royal purse.
      http://tinyurl.com/ybgo3eqy Under the Influence, by Kate Transchel

      1. Off The Street

        At the risk of being a revisionist historian, I can’t help but wonder if the Tsar’s best and brightest ever considered why all that vodka was being consumed and whether there might be some lessons to be learned.

    3. Huey Long

      Of course nobody was quite as concerned about back pay for the soldiers who actually fought the war who often had gone years without any pay.

      Yeah, I remember being quite the rah-rah USA ‘winger after I got out of our military and then I started my history degree. It absolutely turned my stomach once I learned about this and all the other instances in our illustrious history when the USG screwed the vets.

    4. DonCoyote

      I learned this history from The Probability Broach, libertarian SF. It has a lot about the Whiskey Rebellion, it’s villains are members of the “Hamiltonion Society”, and it correctly points out that many signers of the Declaration of the Independence refused to sign the constitution, although “Jefferson smelling a rat in the Hamilton steamroller” as a description of the Constitution may be overstated.

      It has some libertarian “howlers”, but I enjoyed it.

      1. Richard

        If you like alternate history SF, try Ward Moore’s Bring The Jubilee. Somewhat better written than the Probability Broach, with no discernable ax to grind politically, character driven.

    5. Mike

      And, let us not forget George Washington, who put down the Rebellion with lots of patriotic swish, while of course being a whiskey producer himself, and seeing the Pennsylvanians as competition. Nice bunch of folks, there.

      “Lowezee, it shoor would be better to have heroes like that now, doncha think?”

    6. Bill White

      I second this recommendation. I haven’t read this in years, but my memory of it is that it is spot on. Hamilton and Madison both were worms.

  8. wandering mind

    Realignment and Legitimacy

    The only non-southern case cited, Thompkins v. Johnson, deals with a slave owner trying to recover a runaway slave in Pennsylvania. In that case the court concluded that the slave owner had a right to both arm himself and travel armed so that he could recapture his slave.

    The Thirteenth Amendment, banning almost all slavery, obviously eliminated this rationale for carrying a weapon. In normal jurisprudence, it would be a simple matter to note this and how the Amendment, in effect, overrules the prior law.

    However, the fact that such ante-bellum precedents can still have life is only further evidence that some judges are great lovers of the Constitution; it’s the amendments that they don’t like.

    1. Cujo359

      They’re fond of the 2nd and 10th, it seems, but the remainder of the first fifteen don’t seem to have much traction among conservatives…

      1. Mike

        Picking parts of the Constitution is like picking parts of the Bible…depends on your class attytood.

  9. Huey Long

    RE: Trump Tax Reform

    Markups will begin in September, he said during an event hosted by a pair of conservative political groups backed by the billionaire Koch brothers — Freedom Partners and Americans for Prosperity”

    Wait a second, I thought Trump was supposed to be draining the swamp, not inviting the swamp creatures to roll out his tax plan, no?

    1. RUKidding

      Oh but the Koch brothers are successful businessmen. Ergo, they aren’t part of the DC swamp. The Kochs will bring sanity and light to DC, you just wait and see. Just like Trump is.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Wait a minute. Didn’t the Koch Bros inherit their wealth like, ummm, Donald Trump?

        1. justanotherprogressive

          You wouldn’t know it by hearing them whine about their terrible underprivileged childhood……why, their dad made them do chores!!!!

          1. Huey Long



            After the wrap up of the Russian Civil War where the Americans fought on the side of the Whites, the Americans then helped the “Red Menace” industrialize.

            Fred Koch ended up over there building oil refineries for Stalin because he was unable to get his business off the ground in the US of A due to patent litigation. Fred was appalled by Stalin’s purging of several of his Soviet engineers, so he jumped ship and built refineries for the Third Reich.

            Later on during WWII, Fred took his fortune made overseas and started what would later become Koch Industries which was then passed down to swampmasters Chuck and Dave Koch, patrons of the Ayn Rand Institute.

  10. Darius

    It’s true that midterms are a referendum on the party in power, but the opposition has to be organized to win. The Democrats lost seats in 2002, despite Bush being less than popular, because they were completely immobilized by the impending Iraq war. They chose a party about nothing strategy and got slaughtered. Dick Gephardt is a freaking genius. They did the same in 2010 and 2014 with similar results. Only in 2006 did the Democrats have a coherent message. They won that year.

    As bad as people dislike Trump and the Republicans, they dislike the Democrats even more. Absent a big shift, the Democrats won’t do well next year.

  11. Ranger Rick

    I like that link about medieval cities. A few years ago I had occasion to check out an excellent book on the practice and history of 14th century Venetian construction. The research was in depth and clearly a labor of love, and went into some detail regarding the politics and finance that went into some of Venice’s most famous buildings. The idea that social groups in ancient cities rarely mixed is reinforced by the case studies in the book, where the stratified nature of guilds, patrons and government officials led to some interesting conflicts and the need for extensive negotiation expertise.

  12. Marbles

    ” insourcing key technology to cut costs. ”

    Wait, I’m confused…did they talk to any MBAs?

  13. Livius Drusus

    Re: Democratic strategy in 2018, it is true that localizing races is important but you need to be more than just the anti-Trump party. You can attack the Republicans for their bad policies while saying what you can do to help people in your state or district. You can walk and chew gum at the same time. If you don’t want to antagonize people who like Trump but might not like other Republicans then don’t even talk about Trump, just say “Republicans” or just hammer your specific opponent. But for crying out loud, the Democrats have to stand for something other than “we are not the GOP.”

    2018 is a midterm election and Democratic turnout is usually lower in midterm elections so the Democrats should put more emphasis on what they want to offer voters in order to galvanize their people and get them to the polls. It is fine to tailor messages to local particularities but you need to do something to get people to care about you, especially since most people are not really interested in politics and don’t like politicians very much. The Democrats would do well to try to get non-voters registered and to the polls since they tend to fit the traditional Democratic voter profile (less affluent) but the trick is overcoming the cynicism about the political system that has built up among less affluent Americans.

  14. PKMKII

    Started reading “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall,” the transcribed lectures of George Washington Plunkitt of said political organization. Some of the ideas are woefully out of date, bordering on archaic, and he has some incredulous defenses for blatant corruption, and Tammany Hall did nearly bankrupt the city on multiple occasions. But it speaks to the political wisdom of providing, as Lambert, concrete material benefits. He talked about how, if there was a fire that took out a tenement, Tammany would provide housing, food, clothing, etc., on the spot. Whereas the “charitable organizations” would take months of determining if the destitute, poor families really deserved charity or not. Similar to the neoliberal obsession with gatekeeping today with benefits.

    1. Huey Long

      +1 !!!

      Tammany was able to stay in power so long precisely because it was able to provide concrete material benefits. In addition to the charity work they did that PKMKII addresses, they spread all kinds of patronage jobs around throughout their base giving many folks a living too.

      1. PKMKII

        Patronage was a mixed bag. Yeah, it provided jobs and upward mobility for people who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity. But, it was functionally an expensive bribe for votes, with the salaries far outstripping the difficulty and value of the position. Plus it put the civic administration in the position of performing their duties not in the best interest of the residents of the city, but rather in whatever manner would keep the Tammany Hall politicians in power.

      2. bob

        Corruption- Money and or power ending up in the wrong hands.

        Who’s hands are wrong? Certainly not the Clintons, for example.

      3. sleepy

        A long time ago I had a Chicago uncle who worked for the city as a plumber, a plum job so to speak. Of course one of the job requirements was that he also work as a precinct captain for old man Daly’s organization which involved not only getting out yard signs and driving voters to the polls, but making sure the garbage was picked up, that the widow Murphy had her sidewalk shoveled, and that the neighborhood kids who wanted summer jobs with the Parks people got hired. Just retired and your property taxes were now a hardship? He could probably get the assessment lowered a bit. He was the go-to man for any problems anyone had with city hall.

        As long as you voted for the right candidates, and he knew who did or didn’t.

        1. David Creamon

          You have to admire the transparency of the system and the fact that it delivered benefits to ordinary people. You support the big man, and he in turn looks after his tribe.

  15. Altandmain

    Head’s up for those living in NY – the deadline to register for the 2018 Primary is OCt 13.

    Hopefully a few Establishment Democrats can be primaried by Berniecrats. Yes, it’s not a perfect situation, but at least it is a start.

    1. Huey Long

      Thanks for the heads up!

      Readers in NY with more political acumen then I have:

      Should I sign up with the Dems or with the WFP? I know NY is a fusion state but I’m not sure how this works in terms of primaries.

      1. Pat

        NY has a closed primary. If you want to vote in the Democratic primary you must be a registered Democrat. WFP may be the Democrats battered stepchild (see Cuomo and their platform in the last governor’s race), but it is officially a whole other party.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Yup. Nothing like requiring people to be registered more than a year before the primary.

  16. Huey Long

    RE: Port Trucker Debt Peons

    A group of high-profile Democratic Senators, led by Sherrod Brown of Ohio, wrote letters to the nation’s top retail CEOs Monday, demanding they crack down on trucking companies

    So let me get this straight; the port truckers are de facto debt peons for the trucking companies and the best this group of alleged high profile Democrat Senators can do is a sternly worded letter?

    Earth to Democrats! Joining the Teamsters on a picket line at one of these trucking companies and perhaps even getting arrested on said picket line in front of a bunch of TV cameras will get you a lot closer to relevancy with the voters than some BS virtue signalling letter.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      It’s called “optics”. They can now claim they care about those truckers (when he runs for President) even though they really aren’t willing to a damn thing about them…..

      They could have harangued FMCSA to get involved, because those trucking companies are violating many of FMCSA’s regulations, but obviously that was just too much work……

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s better that Brown wrote the letter than not. But not very much better.

      By contrast:

      Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders stood with thousands gathered at a pro-union rally near Nissan Motor Co.’s Canton plant, congratulating workers for their courage “in standing up for justice.”

      Sanders told Saturday’s crowd that it’s their job to tell corporate America that “they can’t have it all” and to “start treating the working people of this country with respect and dignity.”

      Remember when Obama said “I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you”? Good times.

  17. Huey Long

    Mr. Market: “A third of millennials think now is the time to jump into the market” [MarketWatch]. Noted without comment.

    What are they teaching these kids in college these days?!? You’d think with our society pushing everybody to get an education and with business being the most popular major of all they’d have enough sense to wait for the bubble to pop, amIright?


      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I’ve been waiting for everything to fall apart since Jan 20.

        Mr. Market somehow still thinks there is some sorta stimulus on the way.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          LOL he said “market” LOL
          (Cue Beavis and Butthead chortle)
          How can you have a market when one participant can materialize as much money as they want to buy in?
          Maybe they’ll change the name of “stocks” to “central bank funded equity participation notes”.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Thank you. Seriously. When my sons tell me I’m too cynical, I shall point them to NC. :)

    1. justanotherprogressive

      But, but, but there are many many minimum wage jobs that companies can’t seem to fill – gotta convince Millennials to take up the slack!!! Cause otherwise, “job creators” may have to raise wages…..and how THAT will hurt their profits!!!

  18. Huey Long

    RE: Eyebrow Threaders

    Wow! I’m actually a bit taken aback that such regulatory madness was able to get traction in Texas. I mean it took a judge to exorcise it!

    This is usually the sort of thing southern states rag on northern states about. You’ve all heard the trope; big gov’t liberal northern states need to pare down their regulations to compete with the streamlined regulatory bureaucracy of the southern states.

    For comparison, I present to you FDNY’s Certificate of Fitness program:


    Although some of these certificates mandate prior experience, many of them don’t, and anyone can show up at the testing center in Brooklyn, show ID, pay $25, take a test, and earn their fireguard C of F. Fireguards make about $15/hr which is comparable to eyebrow threaders. All in the alleged liberal looney land of NYC.

    1. jsn

      This is exactly the logic that lead to the Grenfell fire. There are lots of stupid laws, but there are necessary ones as well: distinguishing between the two is a matter of life and death.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        Don’t forget that even those good laws don’t have to be obeyed, depending on your or your corporation’s net wealth (net worth just aren’t the right words any more….)…..

  19. Pelham

    The Democrats’ “Better Way” plan to invest $1 trillion in infrastructure is baffling.

    First of all, it merely echoes what Trump proposed on the campaign trial. And, secondly, it’s way short — by at least $2 trillion — of every estimate I’ve ever seen for what needs to be spent to just get infrastructure up to snuff, let alone make us a first-class country.

    So, phooey.

  20. Huey Long

    Commandant: ‘I Will Not Break Faith’ With Transgender Coast Guardsmen

    It looks like the USCG, my “alma mater” so to speak, is defying the Trumpster on the Trans ban. My favorite part of the article:

    In a series of three tweets July 26, Trump said that “the United States Government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military. Our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

    To date, no further guidance has been provided.

    I still can’t get over this. Governing via Tweets? The USG has jumped the shark.


    1. justanotherprogressive

      Governing via Tweets? Of course that is what Trump is trying to do. Do you see him governing any other way? What other “governance” has Trump accomplished? Kudos to those miltary leaders who are not only ignoring Trump’s tweets, but making statements about how inappropriate they are!!!!

        1. justanotherprogressive

          Sorry, I guess I had a different view than you of what “jumping the shark” means…..

          “The idiom “jumping the shark” is almost always used in a pejorative sense. … Popularized by radio personality Jon Hein in the 1990s and early 2000s, the phrase is based on a scene from a fifth-season episode of the sitcom Happy Days in which the character Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis.”
          Jumping the shark – Wikipedia

          1. Huey Long

            From TVTropes.org:

            Jumping the Shark is the moment when an established long-running series changes in a significant manner in an attempt to stay fresh. Ironically, that moment makes the viewers realize that the show’s finally run out of ideas. It’s reached its peak, it’ll never be the same again, and from now on it’s all downhill.

            The above definition of shark jumping was what I was going with, the “long running series” being the USG.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              The entire political class has jumped the shark. Neoliberalism, too.

              So we are in a “post-shark” moment. Confusing!

              Oh, and I love TV Tropes. A brilliantly conceived and executed site with great content. I wish we had a similar site for politics.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > What other “governance” has Trump accomplished?

        Beneath the sound and fury and far away from the bright shiny objects:

        1) Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and filling the nomination pipeline with winger judges really rapidly

        2) Gutting a lot of regulations (and some Departments, e.g. State (but then State petitioned for war with Syria, so no great loss there).

        You might not like those policies — I don’t! — or consider them purely negative but governance they are!

        And the sins of omission, you might say:

        1) We’re not at war with Russia

        2) We’re not at war with Syria (and in fact the ceasefire seems to be holding)

        Of course, that could change, because war fever in DC is intense, and Trump has shown himself to me malleable.

        I just think it’s nuts to go nuts about Trump. Watch what he does. Don’t worry about what he says.

        A caveat that is not a “defense of Trump” (except that I am glad we aren’t in a shooting war (crossed fingers)). But focus on the business of wrestling, you might say, not the kayfabe in the ring.

    2. Arizona Slim

      While I was a Habitat for Humanity volunteer, a transgender USAF veteran taught me how to do electrical wiring.

  21. Huey Long

    Inside the $600-a-head Silicon Valley restaurant where Google and Apple executives eat gold-flecked steaks

    Hiroshi is an unusual restaurant for unusual clientele.

    Located in Los Altos, California, the newly opened Japanese restaurant accommodates only eight people per night and has no menus, no windows, and one table. Dinner costs at minimum $395 a head, but it averages between $500 and $600 including beverages and tax.

    Hiroshi Kimura, the chef and owner, left his restaurant in Hawaii and moved to Silicon Valley in 2016 to launch a concept that would appeal to the deep-pocketed tech elite. Hiroshi hosts three to five dinners a week and is booked solid when a convention comes to town.

    We toured the restaurant to see why it’s becoming a favorite in Silicon Valley.

    Get the guillotines ready!


    1. Jim Haygood

      Decadence is a late-stage Bubble phenomenon:

      June 1999: Back in 1988, [we] made a similar observation with regard to Japan: ‘Stories have been reported of rich folks sprinkling flakes of gold on their sushi in Tokyo.’ It turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Japanese stock bubble.

      June 2005: Gold’s popularity as a ‘delicacy’ continues to grow. The specialty drink at La Bete, the new nightclub in the ultra-swank Las Vegas Wynn, is a champagne cocktail sprinkled with gold flakes.

      Jan 2016: “A Williamsburg establishment started selling a $100 edible 24-karat-gold-covered doughnut dunked in Cristal-infused icing. It’s $1,000 for a dozen and it’s not even in Manhattan.”


      *reaches for the gold-flecked Pepto Bismol*

    2. ChrisPacific

      I visited Hiroshi in Honolulu a couple of times. I wasn’t overly impressed and never recommended it to anyone. It clearly aspired to be fine dining (and was priced accordingly) but the food felt more like high end bar food with flashy presentation. I struggle to remember anything that I had there – I vaguely remember some sushi that was pretty good, but overpriced and with a rather confused concept. The gold leaf strikes me as typical of his style – spectacular, a great talking point, but adds nothing from a culinary perspective beyond jacking up the price.

      I do remember that the place was always packed, to the point where you couldn’t even get in a lot of the time. I think it was more about being seen there than eating. I certainly can’t fault his marketing ability even if I don’t rate him as a chef. I suspect he will do just fine in Silicon Valley.

  22. Jim Haygood

    “Facebook rules the roost, while Apple’s silver spaceship fails to achieve liftoff from ‘market performer’ status”

    This statement has become, as they say in Foggy Bottom, inoperative. After the close, Apple announced revenue and earnings surprises, sending its stock up 6 percent to a new high after hours.

    Tim Cook explained in the conference call why Apple took VPNs out of its app store in China:

    “We would obviously rather not remove the apps,” Cook said during the call.

    The impetus for the removal of the VPN apps, Cook explained, was the government’s renewed effort to enforce regulations that banned VPNs that haven’t been licensed by the Chinese government.

    Cook then tried to make a distinction between the decision to remove the VPN apps in China and Apple’s legal showdown with the FBI, during which the tech giant refused to provide the agency with the ability to crack the encryption of an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

    “In the case of the U.S., the law in the U.S. supported us, it was very clear,” he said. “In the case of China the law is also very clear there.”

    That said, Cook explained that the company isn’t afraid of telling governments it disagrees with how it feels. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t state our point of view in the appropriate way,” he said. “We always do that.”


    1. Huey Long

      Cook then tried to make a distinction between the decision to remove the VPN apps in China and Apple’s legal showdown with the FBI, during which the tech giant refused to provide the agency with the ability to crack the encryption of an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

      Allow me to put my tinfoil hat on for a moment:

      Perhaps the real distinction is that the FBI/NSA/CIA etc can already crack iPhone encryption (this would be classified of course and vehemently denied) thus making the whole Apple/FBI legal showdown mere kabuki for the proles, while the Chinese VPN situation is the same sort of kabuki in reverse.

      I mean do you really think that the USG would allow its largest company to market unhackable super encrypto phones to it’s own proles?

    2. ewmayer

      “Cook explained that the company isn’t afraid of telling governments it disagrees with how it feels.”

      LOL, lemme guess, in a private meeting with members of the Chinese leadership, our intrepid justice warrior Cap’n Cook “told them to cut it out”. (Not that he would ever dare do any such thing, but in recollection of a similar “not afraid to blah blah” sound bite from a prominent political figure w.r.to the Wall Street fraud cartels.)

    3. allan

      Cook explained that the company isn’t afraid of telling governments it disagrees with how it feels. “That doesn’t mean that we don’t state our point of view in the appropriate way,” he said.

      A sternly worded conversation with the powers that be,
      and mealy-mouthed platitudes, couched in double negatives, for the little people.
      Sounds like our heroic CEO has a future in the Democratic Party.

      Booker/Cook 2020.

  23. Yves Smith

    This is completely and utterly false. Making things up is against our Site Policies.

    Stoller was nearly thrown out of the 2004 Democratic Party convention for expressing doubts about Obama. He continued to be skeptical thereafter. He was an early and consistent critic post crisis (save when he was working for Alan Grayson, when he as a staffer wasn’t publishing save as authorized by his boss and that meant not creating unnecessary enemies).

  24. marym

    For anyone interested in the New Deal, as history or inspiration:


    The Living New Deal aims to inventory, map, and publicize the achievements of the New Deal and its public works across all fifty states.

    1. Craig H.

      That is a terrific site. Where I live there is an enormous amount of infrastructure that dates back to the FDR jobs programs–the airport, roads, bridges, tunnels, schools, libraries, the municipal swimming facility, golf courses. The municipal swimming facility is a jewel and the airport is now one of the area’s International Airports. I wonder how many of my neighbors know anything about this.

      1. marym

        One of the most inspiring aspects of the New Deal is that it gave millions of workers, at every level of skill and education, an opportunity to make a lasting contribution. Though memories dim, I hope they and their descendants have been proud of their accomplishment.

  25. Richard

    Lambert, just curious, and no Obama fan here, for a multitude of reasons, but how does the “little single payer” statement qualify as bullying? I see it as condescending and marginalizing (so familar any practically any leftist who has ever dealt with practically any democrat), but not bullying. Not in the sense I understand the word.
    Much agree with you re Cook and the race horse touts. People are trying to vote for policy and reform; it’s really kind of awe inspiring when you consider how little encouragement they’re given, and the steaming piles of manure that pass current as reform these days.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Bullying? Maybe you recall that Obama & Co. kicked all possible stakeholders who might dare to even mention actual national health care via “single payer” or Open Medicare, and even those who dared to stand for any mention of “the public option,” right out of any possible participation or notice in the great secret creation of “We’ll find out what’s in the legislation after it’s signed” ACA.

      Bullying? How about how the Occupy people were treated? Or the people in Libya and Iraq and Notagainistan, and those little South American and African and Asian countries where he loosed the Drones of War and those incomparable Special Ops and Spooks to press on with the American Project? And how many people lost their homes and jobs to Obama policies and practices? As you hint, “for a lot of reasons,” there is a long list.

      Slick thug. There is no gilding or buffing that t0rd, and seems to me that Lambert’s critique is maybe even too gentle.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > condescending and marginalizing but not bullying

      First, if you’ve been watching Obama a long time, you know that he’s very measured in his tone. Just because the words aren’t crass and, well, Trump-like doesn’t imply that the message and the power relations aren’t the same.

      Second, “You’re little (and I’m big)” seems to me to be the essence of bullying. Obama is kicking down; a President kicking down at a group of citizens exercising their rights as citizens in a putative democracy, too. (This was at a Town Hall, and so he was speaking directly to them; they were physically present).

      1. Richard

        Yes, I think I remember the event, or perhaps one similar to it; I certainly remember his lousy reasoning why he could be for single payer, and not for it, and whatever Barry you’re useless to us. I was simply wondering how the word “little” was meant. Perhaps not so much in the sense of little versus big, but as in “we got a little ole group from Tacoma? “You noted in your transcript of the talk, that there was applause after he said it. Making me think more of a super condescending introduction.
        Which can definitely be a part of bullying behavior, as I see now, so point taken.
        And JT, you’ll get no argument from me on any of your particulars, or that Obama proved himself to be among the worst of men, bully to the left, not so secret enabler of the lunatic right, murderer, grifter (what was his whole admin but a legal front for criminal bankers, to escape any consequence for the Crash, and to grift their marks a second time with QE, while kicking the ball downfield on EVERYTHING else…)
        Anyway, thanks for the response!

  26. John

    I was at the “Better Deal” roll out in the small northern va town, Berryville. Huge irony in that it was the home town of recist Sen Harry F. Byrd of “massive resistance” to integration fame from the 1960’s.
    It was shockingly lame. No one was told about it because they were afraid of right wing protestors. The few who were informed were told to tell no one for the same reason.
    I happened to find out about it online an hour before and went.
    What cracked me up was Chuck Schumer saying they wanted a conversation with the American people and it was starting right there…taking questions only from reporters, as he informed the tiny crowd of the littles. It was just like C-span in an empty legislative chamber. No one (of importance) was there, it was just staged for the wall of cameras.
    It is interesting to see them in person.
    Elizabeth Warren rocks, even that small crowd.
    Mark Warner sweats like a pig and looked like he was going to pass out in the heat.
    Nancy and Chuck cool as cucumbers. total DNC speak.
    Chris van Hollen a little energy.
    Hakeem Jeffries spoke last, almost as a afterthought.
    No working people were there, it was after lunch break for anyone who works.
    The clue train don’t stop in Berryville no more.

  27. Oregoncharles

    Samuel Conner,
    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yes, it’s probably Bermuda grass, if you had to dig that deep. I dealt with it in New Mexico. Saw the runners in a 4′ deep trench.

    The equivalent here is wild morning glory, which is ineradicable without poisons, except by covering it with something impermeable for about a year.

    OTOH, at least you got some really impressive tomato plants out of it. If they don’t freeze, they can reach great heights. Actually a vining perennial, but tender.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe hire a young person or day laborer to do what amounts to gigging a ditch?

        Infrastructure improvement, and shovel-ready! Wealth redistribution from the bottom!

  28. kareninca

    Wow, this is dreadful:

    “The Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease but only if you are rich or highly educated. This is the surprising finding by researchers from the Italian I.R.C.C.S. Neuromed, who performed a study on over 18,000 subjects recruited within the Moli-sani study and published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.”

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