2:00PM Water Cooler 8/14/2017

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!

Readers, I created some conceptual buckets to put Charlotttesville Material in, but the buckets are currently almost empty. Check back, please –lambert. 3:25PM, done!

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“As negotiators prepare for the start of round one of [NAFTA] negotiations on Wednesday, Trump administration officials are taking a careful stance on the task of modernizing the 23-year-old pact. ‘NAFTA needs to be reformed to help protect American workers and create more jobs at home,’ White House chief economic adviser Gary Cohn said in a statement on Saturday that was short on specific details. “We should keep the parts that work, especially for much of American agriculture, but fix the parts that don’t'” [Politico]. “His remarks hinted that there would be limited renegotiation of NAFTA.” More–

“Now that he is president, Trump is about to find out how hard it is to get an agreement that satisfies not only those workers who feel ‘shafted by NAFTA’ but also the powerful business interests currently benefiting from billions of dollars in cross-border sales” [Politico]. “Even if negotiators from all three nations are able to come to consensus quickly on a new deal in the coming months, Trump still has to get the agreement through Congress, which past votes on trade issues have shown is no easy task. ‘This whole business of renegotiating NAFTA was a campaign pledge in search of a constituency,” said Scott Miller, a former lobbyist for Procter & Gamble now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “No business community member, no enterprise, no farm group ever asked for this.'” MAGA is deflating even faster than “Hope and change” did, and I don’t see a chorus of Trump supporters in the media chanting “He’s only been President __ months!” either. So we have a lot of people reaching for the brass ring, including classes — the intelligence community, generals, Congressional staffers, white supremacists, socialists — that haven’t normally been playing. Volatility creates opportunity, especially when the major political parties seem to be good only at extorting the donor class and writing themselves checks.

“Early signs have been largely reassuring to those who worry that the president’s demands could uproot the continent’s commercial ecosystem. Nafta over its 23 years has helped transform a region covering one-fourth of the global economy. The question now is whether U.S. negotiators can extract enough concessions from Mexico and Canada so that Mr. Trump can declare victory to his factory-worker base without upsetting his business backers. Many businesses across the continent hope for a quick resolution, complaining that uncertainty has already disrupted the flow of commerce” [Wall Street Journal]. (“Ecosystem” is a bullshit tell. Commercial relationships are not an ecoystem.) Interestingly, though WSH reads more crisply on the politics than Politico, I think they’re wrong: Factory workers are not Trump’s base voters; wealthy suburbs are. Factory voters are Trump’s marginal voters; essential for his victory, but ready — at least in key districts and states — to flip once more.



“Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot in Michigan” [Roll Call].

Realignment and Legitimacy


In NC’s coverage of the Greek crisis, Yves put forward the idea that the crisis was taking place on different time “tracks,” and that financial time moved faster than political time. (Shorter: Syriza was always reacting to the banksters, who always had the initiative.) Because I’m finding the Charlottesville coverage frustrating — in particular, implicit demands that people react this or that way to events — I thought I’d develop similar time track-based buckets to throw the coverage into. (People and parties may react to events differently depending on which bucket they value. For example, a “concrete material benefits” strategy from the left hardly affects the tactical level at all, since the ground has not been prepared for it. The “identity politics” strategy from liberals and conservatives does, since the ground has been prepared.) As you can see, I used a military paradigm to create the buckets, and gave examples from the Civil War and current domestic politics. There’s no association between the examples; that is, I’m not saying that the battle of Shiloh is in any way like Charlottesville, except htat both take place at the tactical level. I’d be interested to see what readers think of the buckets. I have no ego investment in this framework at all, and if readers can come up with a better one, have at it!

The buckets:

1. Tactical (hours and days) (“Shiloh”/”Charlottesville”).
2. Campaign (weeks and months) (“The Overland Campaign”/”The 2016 Clinton Campaign”)
3. Theatre (months and years) (“The Western Theatre”/”Wealthy Suburbs”)
4. Strategy (years and decades) (“The Anaconda Plan”/”Identity Politics”)
5. Grand Strategy (decades) (“Abolition”/”Neoliberalism”)

1. Tactical (hours and days) (“Shiloh”/”Charlottesville”).

“Here’s What Really Happened In Charlottesville” [Blake Montgomery, Buzzfeed]. Excellent reporting, worth reading in full:

The right-wingers were more prepared for violence. Most white supremacist and Nazi groups arrived armed like a paramilitary force — carrying shields, protective gear, rods, and yes, lots of guns, utilizing Virginia’s loose firearm laws. They used militarized defensive maneuvers, shouting commands at one another to “move forward” or “retreat,” and would form a line of shields or a phalanx — it’s like they watched 300 a few times — to gain ground or shepherd someone through projectiles. It seemed that they had practiced for this. Virginia’s governor said that the right’s weaponry was better than that of the state police. The opposition was largely winging it, preferring to establish bases in other parks with water, coffee, food, first aid, and comfort. Conflict would start much the same as it has at other alt-right rallies: two people, one from each side, screaming, goading each other into throwing the first punch.

UPDATE In Montgomery’s article, look for Redneck Revolt (Water Cooler here) and see also on the Three Percenters (search the page on “McNabb” and “Ross”). One of my takeaways from 2016 is how enormous this country is, and how much more complex and dynamic (indeed hopeful) it is, when you stop using the Acela window as your framing device.

“I went to counterprotest neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. I witnessed carnage” [WaPo]. The Op-Ed author is chair of the Richmond DSA. “Various activists had formed a strong impromptu coalition with many other groups at Justice Park. We had received a tip that the far right was heading to a public housing neighborhood to terrorize the community. But en route to the neighborhood, we were asked to go back: The community had defended itself.” Not a lot of planning, supporting Montgomery’s reporting above.

Hot takes:

“‘Racism Is Evil’ and Bigotry Has No Place in U.S., Trump Says” [Bloomberg].

“This Is the Bleakest Moment for America in My Lifetime” [Charles Pierce, Esquire].

“Police, protesters clash in dueling rallies in Seattle” [K5]. Copycats?

“‘Unite the Right’ rally organizer flees after confrontation at media event” [CNN].

“KKK leader seeking Charlottesville rally has history as FBI informant” [Daily Progress]. So Kessler, the event organizer, rejected him. Respectability politics!

2. Campaign (weeks and months) (“The Overland Campaign”/”The 2016 Clinton Campaign”)

“A Hate Crime? How the Charlottesville Car Attack May Become a Federal Case” [Charles Savage, New York Times]. “The Justice Department’s announcement that it is opening a civil rights investigation into a deadly car crash into a crowd of people protesting white nationalists in Charlottesville, Va., has put a spotlight on what the department’s role may be under Attorney General Jeff Sessions.”

On the role of the police:

More on the role of the police: “Just imagine all the same facts – the guns, the torches, the mob mentality, the murder – if 5,000 black guys took the place of the people who showed up. Tell me how many would have gotten out of there alive, and tell me that the police would have lightly armed themselves and then used that as an excuse to stand around with thumbs in *sses” [Gin and Tacos].

3. Theatre (months and years) (“The Western Theatre”/”Wealthy Suburbs”)

Frank Rich blames white trash:

Frank Rich is a fool (as NC readers know). He’s also wrong: On James Alex Fields Jr., the driver accused of killing Heather Heyer: “Fields’s father was killed by a drunk driver a few months before the boy’s birth, according to an uncle who spoke on the condition of anonymity. His father left him money that the uncle kept in a trust until Fields reached adulthood.” That’s sad — note how a death of respair reverberates intergenerationally — but I would urge that few “hillbillies” have trust funds, no matter how small.

“By the time both groups converged on the park, a line of camouflage-clad militia members toting assault rifles were standing outside the park, looking very much like an invading army. ‘They had better equipment than our State Police had,’ Mr. McAuliffe said” [New York Times]. I have my priors here, but expensive weaponry coupled with the ability to travel argues wealthy suburbanite — Fields hailed from Maumee, a suburb of Toledo, in Lucas County — to me. I’d like to see an inventory of the weapons, clothing, and vehicles to get a reading on class and cultural markers, and a better perspective than Rich’s.

“The Elite Roots of Richard Spencer’s Racism” [Jacobin]. “Spencer was born in Boston, but spent much of his childhood in Texas. He grew up in the 1980s and ’90s in the tiny Preston Hollow neighborhood of Dallas, which is significantly whiter than the city as a whole and boasts a median household income of more than $120,000. Today, George W. Bush and billionaires like Mark Cuban, Ross Perot, and T. Boone Pickens all call Spencer’s old neighborhood home. Spencer attended a pricey boys’ prep school in the city, St Mark’s School of Texas…..”

4. Strategy (years and decades) (“The Anaconda Plan”/”Identity Politics”)

The Charlottesville rally was designed to achieve a strategic goal: “Unite the right.” Did it? Not this time. JJ MacNabb tracks militias (and did great work with the Bundy/sovereign citizen episode). Naturally MacNabb covered Charlottesvile:

Business as usual. I’m filing this under “Strategic” because one Indivisible’s goals, based on its practice, is to erase and suppress the left (at least at the national leadership level):

More business as usual (“Love trumps hate”):

5. Grand Strategy (decades) (“Abolition”/”Neoliberalism”)

“The Supermanagerial Reich” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. Must read. Read it all, but the conclusion is directly relevant to framing and understanding Charlottesville, even though the article was written in 2016:

While their economic nationalisms are doomed and their ethno-nationalisms are abhorrent, the Trumps, Le Pens, and Farages are correct that the “established order” is not delivering for the vast majority of people. Furthermore, people do not simply feel more and more disenfranchised, they quite simply are. Trump would probably bring an erratic, unpredictable foreign policy. And yet, all that the neoliberal state has delivered in this arena are unending wars of aggression, intervention, and destabilization for political and economic gain. Many call Trump a fascist. Yet it is the crime of wars of aggression that is considered the principle or greatest charge in the Nuremberg Charter, the crime which sets the stage for”war crimes” and “crimes against humanity.” If there is going to be a politics that overcomes the new fascist threat, it must address the fact that the crisis is not now, the crisis has already been for some time. By focusing only on the threat of our homegrown Hitler caricature we have failed to notice the facts right in front of our faces: the uniquely parallel structures, the same winners, the similar losers, the crimes, the human degradation. We are already living in our very own, cruel 21st-century Supermanagerial Reich.

That’s the stuff to give the troops!

Point: The inventor of “Godwin’s Law”:

Counterpoint: Historians are making the argument — this is the best link I can find at the moment — that Nazi policies were informed by slave power ideologies from the United States; see the 1856 quote:

Counterpoint: “Are the Charlottesville White Supremacists Really “Nazis”?” [Interview with Jelani Cobb, Slate]. “If you look at the circumstances that facilitated the emergence of the KKK as a really formidable organization, it was everything we are seeing now: anti-immigrant fervor, economic concerns, ideas about maintaining white supremacy, that white men were being displaced. And it culminated in the Immigration Restriction Act, which sounds very similar to what the Trump administration wants to make, to get more of the people you say are like you and being outnumbered. When we say “Nazi,” we summon the idea of the United States’ moral victories, and military ones. We are not personally implicated. At that point, they also received sanction from Woodrow Wilson, when he screened The Birth of a Nation in the White House and allegedly said that it was like history written with lightning.”

“What happened in Charlottesville is all too American” [Politico]. “‘These people are not from here,’ Representative Thomas Garrett affirmed in the wake of an American Nazi and Klan rally that descended into smoke and violence in his Virginia congressional district on Saturday. ‘It blows my mind that this many racist bigots actually exist in this country.’ White supremacists, he continued, do not reflect ‘who we are as Americans.’… Garrett might not perceive the tight spectrum that runs between between racialist policies and white supremacist violence. He may also genuinely believe that aggrieved white men marching in lock step by torchlight do not reflect ‘who we are as Americans.’ Indeed, many public figures on both the left and right—people like Sally Yates, Tim Kaine and Ana Navarro, whose anti-racist and anti-fascist credentials are unimpeachable—echoed this well-meaning sentiment.” However, on “impeccable,” see “The Supermanagerial Reich,” supra.

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“‘This is [A] not politics as usual but rather political warfare at an unprecedented level that is openly engaged in the direct targeting of a seated president through manipulation of the news cycle,’ [the now-defenestated NSC director strategic planning] Rich Higgins wrote in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by Foreign Policy and published on Thursday. ‘Recognizing in candidate Trump an existential threat to [B] cultural Marxist memes that dominate the prevailing cultural narrative, those that benefit recognize the threat he poses and seek his destruction.'” I’d say Higgins goes off the rails at [B] — from what sort of fever swamp does “cultural Marxists” bubble up, and get confused with liberal centrists? — but [A] looks pretty good to me, even if — see the Carter administration — what’s happening to Trump isn’t all that “unprecedented.”

“Trump and Obama have one surprising thing in common – the words they use” [The Conversation]. “The differences between Trump’s and Obama’s rhetorical styles seem stark. Yet, when we set aside the presidents’ speaking styles and looked more carefully at the specific words Trump employed in his first months in office, we were surprised to discover that, in certain ways, these two presidents are remarkably like each other and unlike their predecessors…. First, their rhetoric is much more self-referential, meaning it uses more first-person pronouns. Obama’s rhetoric is 69 percent more self-referential than the presidential average, and Trump exceeds Obama by another 20 percent…. Second, both Trump and Obama rank very high on measures of “tenacity.” This dictionary includes a series of words such as “must” and “need” that call for action and that “connote confidence and totality.” Obama’s rhetoric is around 45 percent more tenacious than the presidential average. Trump’s rhetoric is a bit more tenacious than even Obama’s. They are the only two presidents who substantially exceed the average.” We’re not exactly at fuhrerprinzip, but our decay path surely includes it.

* * *

“Coös County [is the] the poorest, least populated, and least healthy county in New Hampshire. It suffers from rampant opioid abuse and a high suicide rate, not to mention the less visible hardships, both psychological and economic, that followed the loss of several major factories in the region. Residents overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump in 2016, four years after voting for Barack Obama” [The New Republic]. “For seven years, a network of residents has vociferously opposed the [Northern Pass powerline] project. They’ve staged protests, while the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests filed a failed lawsuit to halt part of the line. Now their time is nearly up. Eversource has pieced together a final route for the line despite local holdouts. It now awaits word from the federal government—the Department of Energy is set to approve or reject the permit in August, according to Eversource—and New Hampshire’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), which is scheduled to weigh in in September. To sway the SEC, Coös residents have constructed an unlikely alliance that crosses political, racial, and socioeconomic lines, joining hands with lefty activists from Yale and members of the Pessamit Innu First Nations in Quebec.” Please read the whole article. This is exactly what activists up here in the great state of Maine did, both fighting landfills (partial success) and the East-West corridor (success). And the guys with guns and beards in the woods were essential to the process, in Maine as well as in the New Hampshire. Politics are a bit more scrambled in the colonies than they are in the burbs.

UPDATE And this at the end of the Buzzfeed story: “‘I had a great conversation with them. I’d never met anyone in a [#BlackLivesMatter] group before. These particular people said they were all about freedom and liberty as well,’ [said Virginia Three Percenter leader CJ Ross]. ‘Something awful happened, and, for me at least, it turned into a small positive thing, which, I think, is what we all want.'” Interesting if true, on both sides.


“2 years before the caucuses, Democratic upstarts are trying to make a name in Iowa” [Des Moines Register]. “Who is Eric Swalwell? Who is Jason Kander? Who is Tim Ryan? And what the heck are they all doing in Iowa? Those questions have been echoing through Democratic conversations in the state for the better part of a year now, and they rang out again here in northern Iowa on Friday night, when Swalwell and Kander headlined the Iowa Democratic Wing Ding fundraiser.” “Wing Ding fundraiser.” I love America. I really do!

Stats Watch

No official statistics today. –Lambert

Consumer Price Index (Friday): “So the Fed is failing to meet its inflation target, wage growth remains weak, and all measures of credit expansion have been decelerating for more than 6 months” [Econoday]. Prepare for “stall speed” metaphors.. Anyhow, all the excitement lately is happening during the best economy EVAH!!! What happens when the recession inevitably hits?

Commodities: “The Baltic Dry Index, bulk shipping’s key pricing measure, reached its highest point last week in more than three months, with steel production in China and high demand for grain transport feeding a rebound” [Wall Street Journal].

Supply Chain: “The number of full-range groceries with at least $2 million in annual sales fell 6% last year and will decline by roughly a quarter in the next four years…., a shift being felt across supply chains and distribution channels. It’s the result of increasingly fragmented food spending, with the consumer push toward discount grocers, club chains and e-commerce sites hitting middle-market grocers. That’s roiling a U.S. perishables transport business that’s been a strong performer in recent years and now is coping with increased volatility” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “The Port of Long Beach set a new record for container handling in July, offering further evidence that US box imports are surging as the ocean shipping peak season builds momentum” [Lloyd’s List]. “The port of Los Angeles also saw set a new record for box handling last month with volumes up 16% year-on-year and loaded container imports increasing 13% to 417,090 TEU.” It’s beginning to look a lot like Xmas… [whistles].

Shipping: “The world’s largest international [air] freight hub by volume in 2016 handled 422,000 tonnes of cargo last month, up 11% compared to a year earlier” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “Coinciding with an improvement in global trade, exports continued to lead the strong growth in cargo throughput,” said Airport Authority Hong Kong in a statement released earlier today.”

The Bezzle: “Legal or Not, States Forge Ahead With 401(k)-for-Everyone Plans” [Governing]. “When the nine state plans are up and running, they will serve roughly one-quarter of private-sector workers across the country. In California alone, the plans will cover nearly 7 million people.” (The nine states are Oregon, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Vermont and Washington.) That’s unfortunate, since 401(k) is a scam — it’s all about the fee fees — and certainly compared to the universal benefit of Social Security. I wonder how many steak dinners it took to insert 401(k)’s sucking mandibles into “one-quarter of private-sector workers across the country”?

The Bezzle: “Six weeks after bringing Blue Apron Holdings Inc. to market, disappointing earnings have spurred lead underwriter Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to offer up a mea culpa” [Bloomberg]. “‘We were clearly wrong in our estimate of the logistical challenges of this transition and its ability to reaccelerate customer growth and engagement,’ Goldman Sachs analyst Heath Terry said in a note to clients Thursday that downgraded his rating on Blue Apron stock to the equivalent of a hold.” For whatever reason, Wall Street analysts seem to have problems (assuming good faith) with Silicon Valley + stuff combos; same deal with Uber, where nobody (until Hubert Horan at NC) looked seriously at Uber as the taxi business it was and is. Nobody could have predicted that a food shipping company would have logistical challenges. And nobody could have predicted a food preparation company would have customer retention issues, when their product costs the same as going out to a restaurant! Nobody looked at the loading dock. Nobody thought about the kitchen. Look! They’ve got an app!

The Bezzle: “Police: Florida man dies after punch from Uber driver” [ABC]. “According to the police statement, Kimball and the 38-year-old male driver had a dispute over the route the driver was taking Thursday evening.” Same “stuff”-related issue where analysts didn’t understand the workplace. Uber deskills drivers, so they don’t know where they’re going. GPS comes to the rescue, expect when it doesn’t; hence the “dispute over the route.”

The Bezzle: “Uber failing to report sex attacks by drivers, says Met police” [Guardian]. “[Insp Neil Billany of the Metropolitan police] speculated that Uber was deciding which matters to pass on to police based on what was ‘less damaging to reputation [valuation –lambert] over serious offences.’ He said Uber’s policy of logging the criminal complaints with TfL [Transport for London] instead had prompted delays of up to seven months before they were investigated by officers. TfL said delays in reporting crimes to the police were ‘totally unacceptable,’ adding: ‘We have been in contact with the operator to ask them to respond to these concerns.’ Uber’s long-term licence comes up for renewal by TfL at the end of September.” Yes, Billany wrote “a strongly worded letter,” but maybe that’s less frivolous in the British context than the American?

The Bezzle: “Social Finance, a hot financial start-up, is the latest prominent Silicon Valley company to face accusations that it turned a blind eye to sexual harassment” [New York Times]. Notice again, however, that “sexual politics” (let us say) seems to be the only licit critique of Silicon Valley startups. So I suppose it would be OK if [insert appropriate identity here] were writing the algos that defraud customers, or writing the business plans that defraud investors. Corruption is OK. As long as it’s diverse. Which is, I suppose, a page ripped from George Washington Plunkitt’s playbook. But can’t we be honest about it?

The Bezzle: “Google is paying Apple billions per year to remain on the iPhone, Bernstein says” [CNBC]. “[Bernstein] believes that Google will pay Apple about $3 billion this year, up from $1 billion just three years ago, and that Google’s licensing fees make up a large bulk of Apple’s services business.” So, not Five Horsemen but Four-and-a-Half?

The Bezzle: “I invested early in Google and Facebook. Now they terrify me” [USA Today]. “The fault here is not with search and social networking, per se. Those services have enormous value. The fault lies with advertising business models that drive companies to maximize attention at all costs, leading to ever more aggressive brain hacking.”

The Bezzle: “Monsanto Was Its Own Ghostwriter for Some Safety Reviews” [Bloomberg]. Seems legit.

Concentration: “The Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court not take up a case evaluating the legality of American Express Co.’s contracts with merchants, arguing that the key legal question needs to be vetted more by lower courts” [Bloomberg]. “The government still believes the Second Circuit got it wrong by ruling that the DOJ should have examined how AmEx’s rules impact each side of a two-sided market consisting of merchants and customers. But, the brief said, neither the Supreme Court nor circuit courts have ‘squarely considered’ the application of antitrust laws to two-sided markets. For that reason, the high court shouldn’t accept a petition for writ of certiorari. ‘The court of appeals seriously departed from sound antitrust principles, and its decision leaves in place restraints that thwart price competition in an important sector of the economy and inflate the retail prices paid by all consumers,’ the brief said.”

Honey for the Bears: “If we stop counting zombies, we’re already in recession” [Of Two Minds]. “Anyone with even a passing acquaintance with the statistical pulse of the real-world economy knows the numbers are softening… In essence, the “recovery” economy is a zombie economy living on great gulps of new debt that it can’t service. … The “recovery” game will shift to massaging GDP so it ekes out .1% “growth” every quarter until Doomsday. The Zombie Economy can be kept alive indefinitely–look at Japan–but it not a healthy or vibrant or equality-opportunity economy; it is a sick-unto-death economy of fake narratives (growth is permanent) and fake statistics (we’ve revised previous numbers so that, surprise, GDP is still positive.)”

Fodder for the Bulls: “The Housing Bottom and Comparing Housing Recoveries” (charts) [Calculated Risk]. In essence, McBride urges (correctly) that he called housing’s long flat bottom for 2009-2011, and (correctly) that he called a sluggish recovery. Conclusion: “The current recovery (red [on a chart]) started slowly, but is still ongoing!”

Political Risk: “Why the Federal Reserve’s job will get harder” [Larry Summers, Financial Times]. “If history is any guide, it is more likely than not that the economy will go into recession during the next Fed chair’s four-year term. Recovery is now in its ninth year with relatively slow underlying growth for demographic and technological reasons, very low unemployment and high asset prices. Even without these factors, experience teaches that recessions are almost never forecast or even rapidly recognised by the Fed or the professional consensus forecast, but there is at least a 20 per cent or so chance that if the economy is not in recession, it will be so within a year. So the likelihood that the next Fed chair will have to address a recession is probably about two-thirds…. In reporting on the last round of bank stress tests the Fed has asserted that even if the stock market loses half its value, the unemployment rate reaches 10 per cent and house and real estate prices fall only as much as they did in the last crisis, the big institutions will all be fine without capital increases. Market evidence suggests otherwise, based on past patterns their equity values would collapse… Perhaps the most profound challenges ahead will be political. There must be more risk now of presidential interference with the Fed than at any time since Richard Nixon. In dealing with international matters, the Fed is partnered with an understaffed and amateurish Treasury and a president who is dissipating US credibility. Most fundamentally, the temper of the times has turned against technical expertise in favour of populist passion and the Fed is the quintessential enduring apolitical institution.” I love the idea that the Fed is “apolitical” (for some definition of “apolitical,” I grant).

Rapture Index: The Rapture index closed the week unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record high, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 39 Fear (previous close: 28, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Aug 14 at 11:46am. Whoever is running the gaslighting could be making a bundle.

Health Care

“Distribution Of Lifetime Medicare Taxes And Spending By Sex And By Lifetime Household Earnings” [Econintersect]. Study based on “men born in the 1950s.” “lifetime Medicare spending net of taxes makes up a smaller share of lifetime individual earnings for beneficiaries with higher lifetime household earnings. That pattern also holds for women of the 1950s cohort. For younger cohorts, between the lowest and highest quintiles of lifetime household earnings, I expect the difference in net lifetime spending as a share of lifetime earnings to be larger.” Assumes Federal taxes fund Federal spending, of course.

Class Warfare

“The American workplace is physically and emotionally demanding, with workers facing unstable work schedules, unpleasant and possibly hazardous working conditions, and an often hostile social environment, according to a new study” [247 Wall Street]. “Employees also say the intensity of work frequently carries over into their personal lives, with about one-half reporting that they perform some work in their free time in order to meet workplace demands, the study found.” They don’t call them “wage slaves” for nothing. More:

In an alarming finding, more than half of Americans report exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions. Nearly 20% of workers say they face a hostile or threatening social environment at work. Younger and prime-aged women are the workers most likely to experience unwanted sexual attention, while younger men are more likely to experience verbal abuse.

I hate that locution, “prime.” Like “prime beef.” It’s like working people are just animals, bred for the slaughter. And this deathless quote:

“I was surprised how taxing the workplace appears to be, both for less-educated and for more-educated workers,” said lead author Nicole Maestas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and an adjunct economist at RAND.

“Surprised.” Better late than never, I suppose…

News of the Wired

“What is Hinternet, in simple terms?” [Stack Exchange]. Do we have an ham radio operators in the commentariat who know about this?

“Introducing (n+1)sec — a protocol for distributed multiparty chat encryption” [eQualit.ie].

“There are only four types of Facebook users, researchers have found” [Quartz] (original study). “Facebook has a Rashomon effect: various user groups interpret the experience of using it very differently. Surprisingly, however, the researchers also found they could easily categorize users into four broad types: ‘relationship builders,’ ‘window shoppers,’ ‘town criers,’ and ‘selfies.'” Study uses Q-methodology, FWIW….

“Recap / Game Of Thrones S 7 E 5 Eastwatch” [TV Tropes]. Awesome recap, but best of all the author lists the tropes! For example:

Fandom Nod: Davos mentions he thought Gendry was still rowing, in reference to the fandom’s consensus that he’s been rowing since his last appearance in Season 3.


Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The team going on the mission beyond the Wall consists of a Wildling, a red priest, a disgraced knight, a former Kingsguard, an undead outlaw, and a bastard son of a king, all led by a bastard son who is a king

I wish we had the a source with the same wit and level of detail for dometic politics…

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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 (Peter):

Peter writes: “Wildflower in park, Redmond, WA.” As readers know, I think taking regular walks, and regular photos (of plants) on your walks, is a good idea. This is not for everyone, of course, but I’ve adopted this habit, and it’s very de-stressing.

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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. Art Eclectic

          The death of one person. Millions died stopping this shit when it last occurred. Those are the stakes.
          We will not repeat this.

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            We will not repeat this. Um.
            “We will not repeat this in the US“, there, fixed it for you.

            We will happily repeat this, time and again, led by Saint Obama and Queen Hilary with the goose-steppers in the Ukraine. We will gladly use our combination of government, corporate, and military might (isn’t that what fascism is?) to repress and bomb and regime-change across the globe, we will use our 586,000 facilities located in 144 nations to impose our will on that of the local inhabitants until they see what American Freedom is all about. And hate speech? Why that’s forbidden, unless of course we are the ones doing it.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        the pastel auto-fellatio imagery was pretty on the mark , from my limited rural Texas experience.
        Add wine(with a big bowl of pretense), and that’s the local boondock demparty “meeting”.
        The older attendees I know are a lot better(“yellowdogs”-80yo), but the boomers were beginning to give me hives.
        Like jr high greek drama on ludes(!).
        The whole enterprise has lost it’s utility and appeal.

    1. justanotherprogressive

      Indivisible seems to be affiliated with a number of other groups including OurRevolution. Are these groups really a part of Indivisible or did Indivisible just co-opt their names?

      1. UserFriendly

        They are not affiliated. Indivisible was formed by former Obama staffers. They are thoroughly liberal and keep trying to poach young berners from Our Revolution.

      1. Procopius

        Whenever I see Larry Summers’ name I start trying to remember what was the name of that professor he protected who was sued for fraud in “liberalizing” the Russian economy and stealing a few million for himself and his wife. Then, when unsuccessful at that (unless I resort to Google), I start trying to remember how many billions he lost from the Harvard endowment while president of that scam. Then, when unsuccessful at that (unless I resort to Google) I start wondering why anybody listens to those crooke any more.

  1. Synoia

    What is Hinternet, in simple terms?

    Internet communications over Ham Radio frequencies.

    Which frequencies precisely is a question which I will perform research.

    Internet speed increases as radio frequencies increases (Nyquist’s or Shannon’s law, I forget which.).

    Background: We built the first digital carrier products for South Africa in 1971/1972, a blazing speed of 1.5 Mega bits/sec. Do not laugh, the fastest modems then available were 9600 bit/sec, and were the size of a briefcase.

    1. cocomaan

      Digital modes on ham radio are fun things. You can do a lot of neat stuff with them!

      But we do need to recall that all amateur radio communication, even CB, is exploitation of a natural resource. It happens at the behest of the feds. So it doesn’t escape triangulation and tracking down by authorities on a fox hunt!

    2. Synoia

      Noisebridge in the SF Bay Area appears to be the driving force.

      There are four major bands suitable for use by hams transmitting spread spectrum: 420-430 MHz, 2.4 GHz, 3.4 GHz, and 5.8 GHz. Within a region, one band will be used for tower-to-tower connections, and the other bands will be available for use by non-tower radios.

      Throughput (Internet speed) is dependent on the number of channels in the specific frequency band.

      The higher the number of channels and the higher the frequency the greater the throughput speed.

      When I started working in the field, 420 MHz was magic, and Microwave Long Distance Telephony the tip of the commercially available components and equipment

      Current inexpensive microwave commercially available equipment,. is satellite to ground, aka Direct TV, etc.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      The NC commentariat is the best commentariat…

      The web = HTTP + HTML.

      The problem is the effing middlepersons. So, one looks for another medium to transmit data using the same protocols. Hence, radio.

      Now, it might be a 1995-style Internet. Which would be excellent!

      1. Odysseus

        When I was sending data over ham radio (late 1990s, early 2000s) there were severe restrictions. My TNC was capable of 9600 baud, and licensing rules forbid any kind of encryption, so everything was transmitted in the clear. It might have been useful in actual emergencies, but it was nothing anyone would actually want to use in normal service.


        N9XDL (Hey, whaddya know … I’m the first hit on google).

  2. Altandmain

    Editorial by Bernie Sanders on healthcare

    Killer Drone Robots

    I fear this will be used aggressively by the US military against civilian populations.

    Manufacturing and subsidies

    I firmly think the answer is yes – there’s a reason why Germany, Japan, China, South Korea, Switzerland do well and that is in strong part due to their investment in manufacturing.

    Alcohol and Generation Y

    On the lighter side, a political cartoon

    Yep that is this new donor’s choice: Kamala Harris

    Re: The Percentage of Americans unhappy with workplace
    How can people possibly be happy with the status quo?

    They are facing the combination of issues:
    – Declining real wages
    – In the big cities, soaring rents
    – Rising healthcare costs
    – Unstable jobs
    – Infrastructure is falling apart
    – Generation Y has student debt and is even worse off in the job market
    – Food and other expenses seem to be going up
    – At the end of the month, there is very little savings

    Meanwhile, the US has very little protection for employees in the workplace. Work conditions for all but the upper middle class and upper class are increasingly abusive, with employers fully aware of the power that they have over workers.

      1. Altandmain

        It’s a coping mechanism for economic despair I’m afraid.

        For those who have lost all hope, due to the job market, due to the living costs, and everything else, the world really has nothing to offer.

        They may be in immense pain, both physically and emotionally. I can understand why this is happening. It’s like Russia after the USSR fell apart.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      re:drones: geez. countermeasures?
      are ak-ak guns covered under the Second?

      re: work sucks : I thought Rand was the big bad study group for the rulers. Were these folks just hatched?
      At the lower levels, at least, it’s been shitty all my life(“food service” and ag, here).
      But what really rankles, is that one cannot connect this sort of data analysis(sic) with the whole po white country folk are drinking and drugging themselves to death-thing, in most of the democratic sorts of places I used to go, without it getting all bogged down in absurdity, acrimony and gnashing of teeth.
      (Suicide calls and overdoses on my very rural scanner are way up from mean)

  3. Tom Stone

    Anyone planning to attend the Vermont meetup should keep in mind that Vermont is a “Constitutional Carry” State.
    Anyone who is not otherwise prohibited from owning a gun can carry it concealed with no requirement for a license or training.

    1. windsock

      Only in America. Didn’t need this sort of information for the London meetup. And I’m only commenting because I don’t understand why it is necessary for the Vermont meetup. Is it a recommendation or a warning?

      1. fresno dan

        August 14, 2017 at 2:43 pm

        If I have said it once, I have said it a thousand times:
        There is a profound contradiction between establishment repub and the extreme right on “right to carry” and support for the police. Much of the extreme right is no friend of the police, though the media refuses to report on that fact with any nuance. At some point, the “right” carrying their guns at a demonstration, and some individual will fire their weapon.
        Than there will be the situation of who fired the weapon, and very nervous police will either flee, or go in ordering everyone to drop there weapons and lie down on the ground…..and some of those good ole boys may not be inclined to do that. People in groups, adrenaline flowing, will fight sooner than submit….

        I posted it so many times that I won’t bother to post it again, but when the black panthers started carrying guns in Oakland in the late 60’s, who was the biggest advocate of gun control…..that’s right…Ronald Reagan.


      1. Mark P.

        Not a theoretical issue any longer. I haven’t caught NC picking up on this yet, but if you have, my apologies —


        Armed Leftists in Charlottesville

        To those who questioned whether any of those who protested against the Nazis and bigots came “loaded for bear,” here are two photos taken by a friend of mine who was in Charlottesville during the troubles. His commentary:

        This “militia” was on the anti-fascist side, I’m sad to report.

        While the Nazis/KKK had many groups prowling the streets, these were the only leftists I saw similarly armed.

        They told me not to film them & to move on, both “requests” which I ignored & got into a heated argument with one of them: the young lady among them (2nd picture left) intervened & separated us.

        Left or right, carrying an assault weapon in public is an act of terrorism as far as I’m concerned.

        I’m amazed that somebody didn’t start firing, which would have made the murder by car episode seem trivial by comparison.

        The Rightists also came armed, of course, and you can see those pictures here. But nobody protesting fascism or racism should be carrying weapons, much less ASSAULT RIFLES. This is just asking for trouble, or advertising that you’ll make it.

        The “good” news is that “our” side had fewer guns, but that’s not a lot of consolation, as some of them had mace and sticks.’

        1. allan

          Left or right, carrying an assault weapon in public is an act of terrorism as far as I’m concerned.

          Sadly, not as far as the Commonwealth of Virginia and many other states are concerned.
          And for those states that wish to regulate such things, Trump’s first supporter in Congress,
          Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY), has authored a bill, the Second Amendment Guarantee Act,
          to prevent them from regulating long guns:

          Under this legislation, any current or future laws enacted by a state or political subdivision that exceeds federal law for rifles and shotguns would be void. Should a state violate this law, and a plaintiff goes to court, the court will award the prevailing plaintiff a reasonable attorney’s fee in addition to any other damages.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I haven’t caught NC picking up on this yet

          Then you didn’t read the post carefully (see “Redneck Revolt”) or Water Cooler (which mentioned them before).

          1. Mark P.

            I saw Redneck Revolt and the previous Water Cooler mentions of them.

            I didn’t see mention of these specific guys actually carrying weapons on the ground in Charlottesville, though I assumed they were related to Redneck Revolt.

            It’s all getting a lot less theoretical on the ground.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The “good” news is that “our” side had fewer guns, but that’s not a lot of consolation, as some of them had mace and sticks.’

          If your argument is that strategic non-violence is the appropriate strategy, make the case. I don’t think a generalized dislike of guns makes that case, or anywhere close to it (and politically, is simply virtue signaling by liberal Democrats).

          As I said, without the guys with guns and beards in the woods, we wouldn’t have defeated the landill, and the NH activists in today’s links would say the same thing.

          Personally, since I consider guns a consumer fetish object and an important source of Darwin Awards (besides the death of children), and I also think Scalia’s decision on the world’s most famous gerund was wrong, and I don’t much like the historical connection between “militias” and slave-taking, I’m not for “gun rights” at all. That said, I’m not going to change many minds over this. “Gun rights” is a pointless discussion that leads nowhere and gets in the way of work that needs to be done (unless the goal is BlueSecession, of course).

          1. Anonymous

            Sovereignty is ultimately dependent on the capacity for violence. It is men with guns who create the space for society to exist by managing external and internal threats.

            1. nowhere

              “I am born in a rank which recognizes no superior but God, to whom alone I am responsible for my actions; but they are so pure and honourable that I voluntarily and cheerfully render an account of them to the whole world.” – Richard I

          2. JTMcPhee

            How many gun-toters at the Charlotsville mosh pit were “government agents?” I don’t think it’s at all foilly to enquire, given who and what “our” Rulers’ state security people have been and done in such conditions before…

  4. cocomaan

    Readers, I created some conceptual buckets to put Charlotttesville Material in, but the buckets are currently almost empty.

    With people falling all over themselves to give their opinion on this issue, I’d love to see something of worth in these buckets, but I’m failing to find anything.

    It feels like talking heads were waiting for this violent event, or another like it, to happen, in order to frame said violence in a flattering light to their ideas or subgroup.

    A riot between white supremacist activists and antifa activists is just two assholes on their first date. Let’s move on.

      1. Summer

        Maybe a 3rd date next month?
        A Confederate heritage group has requested to hold a rally at a Confederate statue in Richmond, Va., next month.

        The Americans for Richmond Monument Preservation have requested permission from the state of Virginia to hold an event at a monument of Robert E. Lee on Sept. 16, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        even though this particular conflationary nonsense didn’t begin with him, I blame Jonah Goldberg for it’s current instar.
        I usually see it as Righty shiny object tossing.
        The Mindfck has been a near total success.
        “Raphel mai ameche” and all…Ontological Crises.

      1. cocomaan

        I think pointing out the role of the police in this one was important. Seems to me that they failed, big time, to deescalate (if that is in fact their job). Crashing helicopters and corralling the protestors to go into fisticuffs matches against each other is like turning on the escalator to hell.

        But it sounds like this involved professional protestors, prepared for battling things out. Which is a really bad sign.

        Side note: the press needs to stop showing the car plowing over the protestors, like right now.

          1. cocomaan


            As someone who has done their fair share of protesting against police lines, and seen it be effective in keeping protesters from escalating situations, this looks like it worked. Some clashes, mostly against the cops. Not much of protester v. protester.

            Whereas the livefeeds I was watching in VA had street skirmishes between the opposing groups, with feces and urine-filled water balloons being thrown at one another.

            I must be showing my age, ie, never trust anyone over 30, because it seems to me that the cops in Seattle handled the protest responsibly. Which is a far cry from, say, their WTO days. Maybe Charlottesville cops haven’t been trained in a trial by fire like Seattle.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              This is keeping me up, but Seattle is a major city and a major port. I would expect its police force to reflect this.

              Charlottesville has a population of 45,000, and on occasion the annual Wertland block party has been shut down. Oh, there was a bear on grounds last week; although, I believe a representative from the nearby Department of Forestry office took care of the situation.

              For obvious reasons, I would distrust TerryMac, and well I suspect my distrust of the mayor stems from his attempts at being too earnest when he was trying to run for State Senator Deeds seat if Deeds became Attorney General in 2005. First impressions. The Cville cops deal with shutting down frat parties with too many first years, and they use to deal with football traffic which is not really a going concern anymore.

              Oh, and there are the “gangs.” The ones who just need a talking to from a chamber of commerce type to really find a better way.

  5. fresno dan

    “This Is the Bleakest Moment for America in My Lifetime” [Charles Pierce, Esquire].

    Hyperbole? Or merely supplying the fan base….uh, readership. If I got the right Charles Pierce, he is just a couple of years older than me.
    So this is bleaker than
    Assassinations of
    Kennedy, John
    Kennedy, Robert
    King, Martin Luther
    Other civil rights leaders and activists
    race riots
    Vietnam war and associated protests
    near 50 years of rising inequality and the evisceration of the middle class….

    1. Synoia

      It is the consequence of:

      Vietnam war and associated protests
      near 50 years of rising inequality and the evisceration of the middle class

      “Cheer up they said, things could get worse. I cheered up and things got worse.”

      and I believe the best quote ever:

      “Life is a shit sandwich.”

      1. dcblogger

        I am old enough to remember standing on top of an office building in Arlington, Va and watch smoke rising from the capitol city during the 1968 riots.

        Somehow this feels worse. can’t put it into words, but this is the first time I have been really afraid for the country.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I think it’s essentially kayfabe – albeit with a real dead person. It was INTENDED to be kayfabe, then somebody got carried away.

          The demonstrations and bombings in the early 70s were far worse, with a higher casualty count. Social order was getting very shaky. Charlottesville was bad, but a pretty isolated event, as much less violent confrontations in Portland and Seattle have shown.

          1. Yves Smith

            Yes, Pierce is revealing his age, or his lack of memory. Everyone who is old enough to remember it remembers exactly what they were doing when they heard Kennedy was shot. And he’s got no excuse re 9/11.

            The National Guard killing four students unarmed at Kent State was a way bigger deal in body count and what it did to the trajectory of the country. And that was far from the most upsetting domestic event of the 1960s.

            But I don’t agree that what that kid did was kayfabe. If you drive a car at any speed into a crowd, you will do permanent damage to some people. Former prosecutor Sluggeaux agreed with our Brian C, that the disabling of the airbags and the way the kid handled the car said what he did was premeditated. If you’ve decided you are going to seriously hurt a lot of people, that is functionally no different than an intent to kill. A guy who slugs someone in a bar and kills him because the victim’s head hits the corner of the bar is guilty of third degree murder. The intent to do serious physical harm was much clearer here.

        2. Oregoncharles

          The flower is Iris tenax, grass iris – very common in the Northwest, and beloved. Small; compare to the blackberry leaves.
          Excellent shot of it.

  6. fresno dan

    Submitted purely for entertainment purposes.
    And it does raise the question of f*ok versus f*ck – if your using “f*ck” but you pronounce it as if it contains “oo” instead of “uc” is it necessary to use an asterisk, i.e., f*ok in the written form?


    Sam Nunberg, a former political adviser to Donald Trump, warned Sunday of dire consequences for National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and Matt Drudge if White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is pushed out of the West Wing.

    “If Steve is fired by the White House and a bunch of generals take over the White House there will be hell to pay,” Nunberg, a longtime Trump aide who left the presidential campaign in August 2015, told The Daily Caller in an exclusive interview. His comments came after an Axios report that claimed Bannon’s job is in jeopardy due to damaging leaks against McMaster and anger over a recent book touting Bannon’s role on the Trump presidential campaign.

    “Matt (Drudge) should go back into his hobbit hole in Miami and listen to techno,” the former Trump campaign adviser said. “Matt should understand that people like me can blow him the fook up. F-o-o-k, Conor McGregor. Blow him the fook up [sic].” (Nunberg was referencing Irish MMA fighter Conor McGregor, who pronounces “f*ck” as “fook.”)

    As for Mooch, the silliest part here is when he claims that dumping Bannon is a step towards advancing an agenda that benefits the middle and lower classes.

  7. Clive

    … people do not simply feel more and more disenfranchised, they quite simply are.

    I rarely use bold text, but this I think justifies it. I’ll add little more to this statement, because it leaves little more that needs to be added.

    What this does make me consciously recall is a “danger Will Robinson, danger” flag that I now get raised whenever I read the word “feel” — almost regardless of the subject or the context it appears in. Aside from the well-known “I’m sorry that they felt that…” non-apology apology, anything else that conjures up emoting in what should ostensibly be play-it-straight reportage should always ring out as clear as a bell for a reader or a viewer that the journalist is playing some sort of game with the onlooker. In fact, deconstruction of whatever we’ve been invited to “feel” something about is usually very illuminating. As the author of this piece rightly discovered.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’s a nice formulation for the Dems, if people just “feel” disenfranchised then there’s no need for actual policy reform, just better messaging to make people “feel” all better again. Maybe they can get another telegenic, smooth-talking melanoderm to spread the “feelings” so the Titans can get back to the important business of strip mining the populace without any more of that pesky whining by people about how they are “feeling” about it.
      (I’m sure there’s some good science to back this all up, probably Russian researchers and dogs, where the experiment plays classical music to reduce the pain perception by pups getting electric shocks).

  8. Hana M

    On the terror that is Facebook (and Google): John Lanchester has a deeper and more thought-provoking dive into Facebook’s history in The London Review of Books. He’s especially great on FB as the “biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens.” He also lays out very clearly the damage FB has done to journalism. But this jumped out at me since I’ve been reading a lot from Matt Stoller on monopolies.

    That isn’t the only external threat to the Google/Facebook duopoly. The US attitude to anti-trust law was shaped by Robert Bork, the judge whom Reagan nominated for the Supreme Court but the Senate failed to confirm. Bork’s most influential legal stance came in the area of competition law. He promulgated the doctrine that the only form of anti-competitive action which matters concerns the prices paid by consumers. His idea was that if the price is falling that means the market is working, and no questions of monopoly need be addressed. This philosophy still shapes regulatory attitudes in the US and it’s the reason Amazon, for instance, has been left alone by regulators despite the manifestly monopolistic position it holds in the world of online retail, books especially.

    The big internet enterprises seem invulnerable on these narrow grounds. Or they do until you consider the question of individualised pricing. The huge data trail we all leave behind as we move around the internet is increasingly used to target us with prices which aren’t like the tags attached to goods in a shop. On the contrary, they are dynamic, moving with our perceived ability to pay.​5 Four researchers based in Spain studied the phenomenon by creating automated personas to behave as if, in one case, ‘budget conscious’ and in another ‘affluent’, and then checking to see if their different behaviour led to different prices. It did: a search for headphones returned a set of results which were on average four times more expensive for the affluent persona. An airline-ticket discount site charged higher fares to the affluent consumer. In general, the location of the searcher caused prices to vary by as much as 166 per cent. So in short, yes, personalised prices are a thing, and the ability to create them depends on tracking us across the internet. That seems to me a prima facie violation of the American post-Bork monopoly laws, focused as they are entirely on price. It’s sort of funny, and also sort of grotesque, that an unprecedentedly huge apparatus of consumer surveillance is fine, apparently, but an unprecedentedly huge apparatus of consumer surveillance which results in some people paying higher prices may well be illegal.


    1. JTMcPhee

      And i have in my hand a list of the things that need to be done to force this state of affairs onto a healthier track… hahahahahahaha!

    2. justanotherprogressive

      John Lancaster misses the point. FB, Google, and all of those other websites are making a huge amount of money by taking something from us for free that isn’t theirs to take (our personal data), and when we finally wake up to how we are being robbed, perhaps things will change…..

  9. diptherio

    An interesting find:

    The many-headed hydra: Sailors, slaves, commoners, and the hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic. By Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker

    Long before the American Revolution and the Declaration of the Rights of Man, a motley crew of sailors, slaves, pirates, laborers, market women, and indentured servants had ideas about freedom and equality that would forever change history. The Many Headed-Hydra recounts their stories in a sweeping history of the role of the dispossessed in the making of the modern world.

    When an unprecedented expansion of trade and colonization in the early seventeenth century launched the first global economy, a vast, diverse, and landless workforce was born. These workers crossed national, ethnic, and racial boundaries, as they circulated around the Atlantic world on trade ships and slave ships, from England to Virginia, from Africa to Barbados, and from the Americas back to Europe.

    Marshaling an impressive range of original research from archives in the Americas and Europe, the authors show how ordinary working people led dozens of rebellions on both sides of the North Atlantic. The rulers of the day called the multiethnic rebels a ‘hydra’ and brutally suppressed their risings, yet some of their ideas fueled the age of revolution. Others, hidden from history and recovered here, have much to teach us about our common humanity.


    The entire text is available for free in pdf format at the above link.

    1. cocomaan

      Very cool! I downloaded it.

      I highly recommend Villians of all Nations by Marcus Rediker, one of the co-authors. It’s academic but it’s also just a fun, rollicking read. He goes into great detail about the “golden age of piracy”, and how many ships were radical democratic communities rebelling against the harsh and unfair world of the mainland, a place where slavery and Native genocide were acceptable practices in pursuit of capital or other resources. He really paints the picture of diverse, spontaneous communities, and paints in even clearer images the horrific things that happened to these people when caught. The portraits of some of the female pirates were fascinating too.

      Either way, Rediker changed my whole view of piracy as an institution in the 17-18th century.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        (the above link is cool, indeed)
        That aspect of Pirates is neat. It’s kind of waved at in the Jack Sparrow things, and I’ve used that as a seed crystal for socratic discourse with my boys on many occasions.(no cable(foot down) and sketchy, cracker rigged intertube connection involving a wok and a router in a birdhouse on a fence post. dvd’s are it).
        That seed has led to long wanders through union/labor history, democracy from greece onwards and all manner of good things.
        I’m pleased that there’s a book like that.
        Thank you.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I love The Many-Headed Hydra . Rediker and Linebaugh are both fantastic historians. I would also highly recommend Linebaugh’s mentor, E.P. Thompson, as essential — his “The Moral Economy of the English Crowd in the 18th Century” is relatively short (c. 50 pages) and a fine taste of all of Thompson’s work on the formation of the working class in England, and a pioneering historian. Linebaugh has written on Magna Carta and capital punishment in early modern England — Albion’s Fatal Tree— with great skill, while Rediker’s The Slave Ship convincingly argues for the slave ship as the prototype of the modern industrial factory.

        All three are excellent historians.

  10. flora

    re: “Charlottesville:” …— I thought I’d develop similar time track-based buckets to throw the coverage into…. I’d be interested to see what readers think of the buckets. ”

    Sounds an excellent idea; the buckets’ time scopes look right. my 2¢.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Most of the yammering and stamping coverage is at the tactical level. However, what is and is not covered is at the strategic level; see my comments on Indivisible, though this applies to the political class as a whole, including the press.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        that strategic level is far more terrifying, not least because it is so esoteric, and thus cannot be discussed intelligently with friends or family..
        The LARB piece is excellent.
        Might hafta go sit out in the yard with the geese for a while.
        When I first discovered “neoliberalism”, due to a book falling into my box at a half priced book store(https://www.versobooks.com/books/2272-the-new-way-of-the-world), I was horrified…but gazed long into the abyss.
        I remember finishing it at 5am by my dad’s pool on a summer visit, and just sitting there in the dark for an hour, thinking, “how the hell do you counter something like that?”
        Everybody uses econ-speak to talk about everything(even priests, it turns out)…now that I’m primed to see it.
        Red pill, indeed.
        you do excellent work, here.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The event, Tactical I would say; knock-on effects a la Seattle.

      The process, Grand Strategy; see the LA Review of Books article. It’s not like Bush and Obama didn’t put all this machinery in place, over a couple of decades.

    2. nippersmom

      What does a private employer firing an employee have to do with constitutional rights? The First Amendment defends against repercussions from the government for exercising one’s right to freedom of speech and assembly (i.e. being jailed, fined, or worse); it doesn’t prevent any private-sector consequences, such as losing one’s job or being shunned by one’s neighbors.

      1. Buttinsky

        1. I thought the object was broad analogies to the Civil War campaign. I admit suspending habeas corpus is not the same as being fired by a private employer for exercising one’s First Amendment rights.

        2. Still, I would not want to encourage rationalizing the firing of a hot dog cook because he went to a rally you didn’t like. I refer you to the eloquence of actor Ed Harris sitting on his hands during the Motion Picture Academy’s tribute to namer-of-names director Elia Kazan, who facilitated private employers taking livelihoods away from people because of their political associations and/or beliefs. It is more than a slippery slope. Employers holding employees accountable for their political ideas outside the workplace does very actively undermine free speech and free association in a most pernicious way. I had hoped that the horror of McCarthyism had made Americans more sensitive to this.

        And if racism disqualifies one from earning a living, I’m surprised anybody in America is eating this evening. It is a racist culture through and through.

        I’ve probably worked with a lot of people whose ideas I would find abhorrent. I assume everybody has. And all my life I myself have been in one unpopular political minority or another (gay, atheist, and against just about everything and everybody in the American political establishment). That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be able to make a living, and to have to even enunciate such a principle here — a principle very much related to the core of the First Amendment’s freedoms — is discouraging.

        Very, very discouraging.

      2. marym


        There is a case to be made that employees of a private business should have some protections against retaliation for political expression outside the workplace. If people private-sector workers should have such protections, they should join the labor movement, not the nazis.

        However, one would still hope that even the most worker-friendly labor laws or contracts would draw the line at defending political the expression of those whose objective is for everyone not like them to be dead, incarcerated, incinerated, deported, harassed, or banned.

    3. Mark P.

      Amusingly, Top Dog, that hot dog chain in Berkeley that fired its worker is and has been owned by a staunch, rabidly anti-government libertarian owner since the 1960s. If you go in one of them, there’s hardcore libertarian agitprop covering the walls.

    4. WeakenedSquire

      “You do know that if he can get fired for his beliefs, you can get fired for yours,” wrote @Piscesboy69.

      And the flabby, Palinist underbelly of the New Populism once again surfaces: my “constitutional rights” are what I feel them to be.

    5. The Rev Kev

      This story just gets better and better, doesn’t it? So now the left is hunting down participants nationwide. The next riots you can expect those on the right to have face masks – as well as the left. Yesterday I posted a link to a story about the similarities between the Ukrainian maiden rioters and those in Charlottesville as a case of chickens coming home to roost. The difference? The maiden rioters, according to Russian reports, were sent out of the country to Poland to train at a Police Academy in advanced rioting tactics such as barricade building, street fighting, etc. and sent back organized in companies of fifty or so and whose wages (yes, they were paid) by the US with group leaders being on, if memory serves me right, about $100 a day. The Venezuelan rioters seem to be identical in tactics so the same playbook is obviously in use here.
      These bubbas though are something else. They are adopting similar tactics and equipment and I am willing to bet that there is a lot of talk on the net about tactics, techniques and procedures. Sites like GoDaddy kicking them off only encourages them to go to the dark web to communicate. I think that the Berkeley riots will be seen as a watershed in American life in that ultra-violence was used to stop some Richard Cranium from making a speech and the principle of free speech be damned. The right jacked up and have decided collectively that no way will they play the role of victims to a bunch of thugs or even para-military police for that matter. They have seen how things work. Unarmed blacks in Ferguson get only APCs, sniper rifles and automatic weapons while armed white protesters in Oregon get kid glove treatment. The left are upping the ante by also having armed groups go into Charlottesville but it never came to a gunfight but instead a terrorist attack. The left are now using that girl’s death as a martyr to the cause with which to beat all those conservatives over the head with and to try to split the movement apart. I think that this will only cause the right to double down. Expect many more Charlottesvilles to come.
      Meanwhile the deep state is sitting back and relaxing now as no-one now is talking about the class divide or the ultra wealthy sucking the life out of the country or even the latest foreign adventure.

      1. JBird

        Rights for me, but not for thee seems to be thing.

        Whites can own guns, and not get shot, but not blacks. For reasons never fully explained.

        Of course if you point out that immigration especially illegal immigration or even those H-1B can be, and have been, used to bust unions, illegally replace Americans already doing a job, and in general drive down wages, you can be called a racist or uncaring about poor people. Never mind “free” trade. Especially as it magically helps poor. Just not poor Americans as I guess we don’t count. What self righteous jackasses to volunteer other Americans to virtuously suffer.

        How is caring about already poor Americans, or Americans being impoverished by such actions, first then others? Mention how poor whites are suffering it’s check your privilege.

        Strangely neoliberalism reminds me of the Red Scare, the various campaigns by the American military, CIA, and FBI to bust leftist movements both at home and abroad, to take down the national governments of countries throughout the world. Supposedly to fight Marxists, but somehow always benefiting American business interests.

        Neoliberalism seems to flow almost seemlessly into the right wing, although I cannot call much of the right, either now or in the 20th century, “conservative” just as neoliberalism is not truly liberal never mind leftist.

        And it looks like I’m wondering…

  11. Sagebrush Country

    I think “The Supermanagerial Reich” nails it…my ears perk up whenever I read something that goes above the traditional “red vs. blue” story constantly told by MSM.

    It reminds me of the movie, “Hell or High Water”, where the ranger is describing how the cowboys took the land from the Indians, and then the banks took the land from the cowboys!

    Makes you wonder who is served best when the little people fight each other…

    1. cocomaan

      Second that, what a frightening article:

      The resulting market concentration, the decrease of small businesses and the growth of monopolies and cartels in Nazi Germany are well documented. It’s no surprise that supermanagerial governance would go hand in hand with the consolidation of large industrial and financial interests, as the value it provides is enhanced when sectors and market power are concentrated.

      If we could get our heads out of our collective butts about diversity being limited to discussions of color, gender, and other markers of identity, and start talking about why poor people don’t have a space at the table, why there aren’t any homeless Senators or CEOs, and so on, we might be able to confront these issues.

      I appreciate this discussion of the Nazi regime. Unfortunately it’s really hard to bring up Nazis without everything unraveling in terms of your argument. That’s why Hannah Arendt’s Origins was powerful. She took on Stalin too.

      1. RenoDino

        Funny to see Godwin throw in the towel on his law and proclaim Nazis are everywhere. Of course, this is being done for one reason and one reason only which to join them and Trump at the hip and rejoice in his fall. This argument being the only one with any working legs and being, according to Godwin when he’s not being co-opted, no argument at all.

        NeoNazis in this the country are little more than a joke given their power, resources and following. They exist on level so infinitesimally small and shallow as to be virtually invisibly without their eponymous flag. Their random acts of senseless violence on a national level don’t even compare to one bad day in the heart of one of our major metros.

        Nazis on the right of us, Russians on the left of us and Trump is colluding with both simultaneously.

    1. JBird

      The radio show/podcast “This is Hell” has been doing some good coverage of both the Venezuelan and Brazilian situation, or at least is not parroting the MSM spin.

      The description of the opposition burning people alive and in general trying to disrupt the Venezuelan government ability to function at all is interesting. It reminds kinda of the Republican Party’s tactics, but without the gun battles, murders, and human torches. Same goal, same idea though.

  12. BDBlue

    The Katie Halper show – available as a podcast – had a great interview with Jeff Smith IV, journalist for Mic that covered Charlottesville and has covered alt-right. He was on the ground in Charlottesville (see his twitter feed) and the interview about what happened was very interesting.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here is Smith’s Twitter account:


  13. HotFlash

    Re meetups. OK, so might be able to do Montreal, got a space? We Cdns are reticent. (Apologies.)

      1. HotFlash

        Not a Mtler myself, looking at travel options. Will consult with actual locals WRT venues and report back. I can rent a car, take a bus, take a train. Or bike — my actual pref, esp with the weather looking good, but the time…

      2. Antoine LeBear

        Café Cherrier is a French Brasserie, not cheap and I don’t know if you can have a medium-large group discussing without eating there and raising eyebrows from the staff. It’s a restaurant and in QC, you have to eat if you want to drink at a restaurant. I would not advise a restaurant.
        There is Café Touski, a coop, in HoMa : http://meowpownow.com/touski/ But they close at 9PM though.
        I will try to come up with other venue ideas in the near future as I asked my network. Oh and of course, I’ll meet you there!

  14. allan

    OED entry for "master race": in an important sense, the most evil ideology in modern world history was born in the 19th century USA pic.twitter.com/KsCw3K0nxN

    — Matt Karp ???? (@karpmj) August 13, 2017

    Just because the first dated reference in a thesaurus to the use of master-race as a phrase is a book
    published in the US in 1856 means that the concept `was born in the 19th century USA’?
    Oh, come on. In an important sense, this is the most evil etymology in world history.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      When I qualify a statement with “this is the best link I can find at the moment” I expect readers to read it (as opposed to, say, jumping all over it).

      In this case, I’m relying on OED for etymology. Given that etymology is what the OED is for, I am sure you will be the first to understand why I prefer its usage example to your unsubstantiated remark. If you have a claim to make, back it up. I did, however inadequately.

      To the larger thesis, from a review of Hitler’s American Model: the United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law:

      Even before the outbreak of World War I, German scholars were fascinated by this teeming mass of American racist law — with a particular interest in what one of them identified as a new category of “subjects without citizenship rights” (or second-class citizens, to put it another way) defined by race or country of ancestry. By the 1930s, the anti-miscegenation laws in most American states were another topic of great concern. While many countries regarded interracial marriage as undesirable, Nazi jurists “had a hard time uncovering non-American examples” of statutes prohibiting it.

      A stenographic transcript from 1934 provides Whitman’s most impressive evidence of how closely Nazi lawyers and functionaries had studied American racial jurisprudence. A meeting of the Commission on Criminal Law Reform “involved repeated and detailed discussion of the American example, from its very opening moments,” Whitman writes, including debate between Nazi radicals and what we’d have to call, by default, Nazi moderates.

      The moderates argued that legal tradition required consistency. Any new statute forbidding mixed-race marriages had to be constructed in accord with the one existing precedent for treating a marriage as criminal: the law against bigamy. This would have been a bit of a stretch, and the moderates preferred letting the propaganda experts discourage interracial romance rather than making it a police matter.

      The radicals were working from a different conceptual tool kit. Juristic tradition counted for less than what Hitler had called the “völkisch conception of the state,” which demanded Aryan supremacy and racial purity. It made more sense to them to follow an example that had been tried and tested. One of the hard-core Nazis on the commission knew where to turn:

      Now as far as the delineation of the race concept goes, it is interesting to take a look at the list of American states. Thirty of the states of the union have race legislation, which, it seems clear to me, is crafted from the point of view of race protection. … I believe that apart from the desire to exclude if possible a foreign political influence that is becoming too powerful, which I can imagine is the case with regard to the Japanese, this is all from the point of race protection.

      The lawyers whom Whitman identifies as Nazi radicals seemed to appreciate how indifferent the American states were to German standards of rigor. True, the U.S. laws showed a lamentable indifference to Jews and Gentiles marrying. But otherwise they were as racist as anything the führer could want. “The image of America as seen through Nazi eyes in the early 1930s is not the image we cherish,” Whitman writes, “but it is hardly unrecognizable.”

      So, “oh,” in your eloquent words, “come on.” Smarter trolling, please.

      1. allan

        So, the systematic and, in many cases, legal treatment of the indigenous peoples of Japan, Scandinavia, Australia, South America and (yes) North America as untermenschen,
        by their respective conquerors, much of which started centuries earlier, doesn’t count?

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            Chimps murder each other, surely we have a RTP that covers our closest ancestors? We can use jungle-friendly drones to surveil suspect populations and Hellfire missiles for pre-crime elimination of those that fit the profile. Make the world safe for pre-hominids!

            1. Vatch

              Okay, naturally I’m confused about something that is probably unrelated to everything else that is being discussed. What does “RTP” mean? I looked it up in Wikipedia and Urban Dictionary, and I’m still confused.

          2. Carolinian

            So you are saying that in order to question the invocation of Hitler (after all Godwin gave the thumbs up) we have to go write our own books on historic Nazi influences? Wasn’t all this supposed to be about Charlottesville?

            I believe race theories following the colonial period were pretty widespread worldwide. Indeed the Japanese considered the Americans and Chinese to be racially inferior in a tit for tat. For that matter the ancient Greeks considered anyone not Athenian to be inferior. Whitman’s scholarship is undoubtedly good but it’s a matter of particularizing the general.

            Please don’t take this as “jumping all over.” Frankly I find this whole thread to be confusing.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              I’m making the argument that Nazi race legalists examined the ideologies and legal structures produced by the Slave Power in the US, both before the Civil War, and after, and I provide evidence to that effect (in particular, the etymology of “master race,” but additional scholarship from Inside Higher Ed. So, as a matter of intellectual history, of actual influence, the line of descent is clear. This is not a message most Americans wish to hear. It’s also an argument against calling the Charlottesville people Nazis, since that involves erasing our own role in Nazi ideology.

              For reasons I don’t understand, other commenters are concerned to haze over this intellectual lineage with vague, ahistorical notions.

              1. marym

                I’ve tentatively used small-n nazi as a generic description of people who identify with and use what they see as the ideas and symbols of Nazi Germany. Some of the Charlotte protesters are part of (or were seen demonstrating with) an organization that defines itself as fascist, and uses a fasces symbol, so that would seem to be a valid label as well.

                I think knowing the history you’ve outlined is important, and that it’s also important to convey the connections that the current day white supremacists are invoking themselves.

              2. JBird

                For reasons I don’t understand, other commenters are concerned to haze over this intellectual lineage with vague, ahistorical notions.

                Acknowledging the perversion of the ideas of Adam Smith, Darwin, Mendel, Francis Galton, of Christianity, of science is embarrassing. Lumping everything into a homogenized pot labeled Nazism saves people the trouble.

                Calling people Nazis can be not only counter productive, but also inaccurate, They were a separate group who had their own ideology. It distracts from the many, many connection in the past 250 years of economics, politics, and science to identify, quantify, and justify the treatment of human beings.

                Think of the labeling leftist, liberalism, socialism, communism, with Marxism and Marxism with Stalinist. Expanding, or contracting, labels saves people from serious thinking, and from shame. Think of the various American states’ sterilization laws that were used to justify, the forced, or convert, sterilizations of tens of thousands of Americans. It is was not Nazism, but the same ideas that were used to justify it also justified to the Nazis their own actions.

        1. Massinissa

          Allan, can you actually prove that the treatment of the indigenous peoples of, Japan say, was on a racial basis, and not on, say, a political, cultural or lingual basis?

          And even if youre completely correct, etymology can be very important even if the same concept can be found elsewhere in previous time periods.

          1. allan

            The mistreatment of the Ainu seems to have been due to a combination
            of all of the factors you list, with colonization thrown in. Given that the Ainu are culturally, linguistically and physically (to the eye, if not to the DNA sequencer) distinguishable from the Japanese who moved in from the south (and the Russians from the north), I’m not sure that any one factor can be excluded. After several centuries of abusive trade policies, which triggered occasional rebellions, the legal framework for the repression within the borders of Japan seems to have started in (drum roll, please) 1871. But I don’t see any reference that the Japanese were inspired by the U.S.

            There is a good if short survey at


      2. nowhere

        I guess it took a long time for the idea to catch on from 1856 to the next reference in 1910 (which lists Homer’s poems as mentioning the Achaeans as the master race a few millennia prior).

        I’d also argue that within the larger context:

        For these great ends hath Heaven’s supreme command
        Brought the black savage from his native land,
        Trains for each purpose his barbarian mind,
        By slavery tamed, enlightened, and refined;
        Instructs him, from a master-race, to draw
        Wise modes of polity and forms of law,
        Imbues his soul with faith, his heart with love,
        Shapes all his life by dictates from above,
        And, to a grateful world, resolves at last
        The puzzling question of all ages past,
        Revealing to the Christian’s gladdened eyes
        How Gospel light may dawn from Libya’s skies, Disperse the mists that darken and deprave,
        And shine with power to civilize and save.

        Draws from Christian ideas:

        Timothy 6:1-2

        Let all who are under a yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful on the ground that they are brothers; rather they must serve all the better since those who benefit by their good service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these things.

        Colossians 3:22-25

        Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

        At which point I fail to see any connection to with the Nazi’s philosophical foundations that pure-blood Germans are the master-race. The review article is interesting in covering that in the beginning Nazi jurisprudence may have been influenced with American law, but had this to say: “The claim of influence runs against the current of much recent scholarship arguing that Nazi references to the Jim Crow system were “few and fleeting” and that American segregation laws had little or no impact on the Nuremberg Laws.”

        And this completely ignores the hijacking of The Theory of Evolution and Social Darwinism that attempted to prove racial differences.

        Which leads to “the most evil ideology in modern world history was born in the 19th century USA to be at least as overblown a statement as Pierce’s, IMO.

        1. JTMcPhee

          …and all of this scholastic wrangling is doing a good job of leading us proto-slaves exactly “nowhere.” Good thing that threads here extinguish themselves pretty quick. Too bad that they don’t seem to get knotted into a fabric or a rope that might actually be serviceable to do some work of decency and comity… but maybe this is just the manifestation of some inevitable political-economic entropy…

          “A cynic is just a disappointed romantic…”

        2. Synoia

          Nazi’s philosophical foundations that pure-blood Germans are the master-race.

          Hard to make that case when the North German plain has been a highway from east to west and west to east since settled by humans.

          Because it’s an easier rout than traipsing over the Alps.

          The travelers were generous in scattering their “gene pool” far and wide, as young men are, and settling all over the place.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          So, you think a translation from Homeric Greek into “master race” means the Greeks had the same ideology at the Nazis.

          You do understand what a stupid idea that is, right?

          > I guess it took a long time for the idea to catch on from 1856 to the next reference in 1910

          You seem not to know much about how dictionaries work.

  15. Steve H.

    – from what sort of fever swamp does “cultural Marxists” bubble up,

    The Supermanagerial article does a lot of quoting from Frankfurt School associates, which Lind criticized ;) in this video, meanwhile Kos yabbles about Lind a couple of days ago. Percolating nicely.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Fair enough! I’m not a big fan of the Frankfurt School myself. My Spidey sense, however, did not tingle on this article because the focus on the State was so heavy.

  16. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Not sure Jon Snow really is a bastard. Remember Gilly reading about a Meister annulling a Targarean marriage and performing a secret one? I’m guessing Jon’s last name is ‘legitimately’ Targarean.

  17. Vatch

    “Robert Ritchie may end up challenging Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow next year, but his stage name, Kid Rock, may not be allowed to appear on the ballot in Michigan” [Roll Call].

    Oh my. Does this mean that the U.S. can’t have a Lord Buckethead?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      A former President was born James but changed his name to Jimmy, so is “Lord Buckethead” a candidate’s legal name?

      1. Vatch

        I don’t know whether any British people have changed their legal name to “Lord Buckethead”. I suspect that several different people have portrayed the candidate in various elections over the years.


        When asked by CBC Radio interviewer Carol Off if he was the same individual running as Lord Buckethead in each election or “are you like Doctor Who, do you regenerate for each election?”, he replied: “I am Buckethead. We are Buckethead. We are Legion. Does that answer your question?”

  18. Bill Perdue

    Charlottesville is a microcosm of a social order and a nation founded on racism and whose existence is maintained using racism to divide and rule.

    The cops in Charlottsville were just as unwilling to go after the racists and defeat them militarily to preserve peace as Obama was unwilling to federally prosecute rabid killer cops who wantonly kill people of color.

    And for the same reason.

    Democrats, Republicans, cops and judges are equally the enemies of people of color and working people. What they prefer is the mass incarceration of working people of color in jails and prisons.

    ”The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories. …

    We know that almost half a million people are locked up because of a drug offense. The data confirms that nonviolent drug convictions are a defining characteristic of the federal prison system, but play only a supporting role at the state and local levels. While most people in state and local facilities are not locked up for drug offenses, most states’ continued practice of arresting people for drug possession destabilizes individual lives and communities. Drug arrests give residents of over-policed communities criminal records, which then reduce employment prospects and increase the likelihood of longer sentences for any future offenses.

    This “whole pie” methodology also exposes some disturbing facts about the youth entrapped in our juvenile justice system: Too many are there for a “most serious offense” that is not even a crime. For example, there are almost 7,000 youth behind bars for “technical violations” of the requirements of their probation, rather than for a new offense. Further, 600 youth are behind bars for “status” offenses, which are “behaviors that are not law violations for adults, such as running away, truancy, and incorrigibility.”

    Turning finally to the people who are locked up criminally and civilly for immigration-related issues, we find that 16,000 people are in federal prison for criminal convictions of violating federal immigration laws. A separate 41,000 are civilly detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) separate from any criminal proceedings and are physically confined in federally-run or privately-run immigration detention facilities or in local jails under contract with ICE. (Notably, these categories do not include immigrants represented in other pie slices because of non-immigration related criminal convictions.) …


    And once we have wrapped our minds around the “whole pie” of mass incarceration, we should zoom out and note that being locked up is just one piece of the larger pie of correctional control. There are another 840,000 people on parole (a type of conditional release from prison) and a staggering 3.7 million people on probation (what is typically an alternative sentence). Particularly given the often onerous conditions of probation, policymakers should be cautious of “alternatives to incarceration” that can easily widen the net of criminalization to people who are not a threat to public safety.https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/pie2017.html

  19. PKMKII

    RE: the Rich Tweet. He seems to be overlooking that the majority of the white supremacist protesters were rather well-kept, clean, had all their teeth. No banjos, straw hats, or dirty jean overalls in sight. Since when did hillbillies wear polo shirts? And one of the main counter-protest leftist groups was Redneck Revolt, so I’m not sure what Frankie would make of that.

    Really, it’s self-soothing rather than a serious analysis. These are Others, they can’t be of my class and background, my class and background doesn’t encourage or lead people into that mindset, love me love me love me…

  20. Lambert Strether Post author

    Random salient data points:

    (1) Confluence of Three Percenters and BlackLivesMatter. Interesting if true, and if it pans out.

    (2) Failure of the event to “Unite the Right,” the goal

    (3) Indivisible suppressing DSA and BLM (who were actually there) and appropriating Heather Heyer’s death, making their gatekeeper role almost too obvious

    (4) Hypothesized class basis of Tike Torch Bearers (not “white trash” pace Frank Rich, but suburbanites; seems likely based on class and cultural markers, expensive weaponry, ability to travel).

    (5) DSA gets an OpEd in WaPo (!)

    (6) Larger frame of systemic slide toward fascism (LA Review of Books) ignored by focus on the tactical level.

    UPDATE (7) Disorganization of the left.

    1. BDBlue

      (3) No fan of Indivisible, but to its credit, it revised and added the leftist groups — here. One of the nicer responses I thought in thanking them was “Solidarity is a virtue, but it takes practice.”

      (4) See – Sarah Jones

      (7) I think the left’s organization is a bit better than we give it credit for, albeit still weak. There may have been moments of disorganization in Virginia, but that’s always bound to happen. I was impressed by how well they stuck together and by the ability to fundraise for their hurt members after the fact. If anything, it was the right that was disorganized — it all fell apart, at least according to Jack Smith IV, in part because they couldn’t find the entrance to the park. The real issue, as it always has been, is the unwillingness of centrist dems to show solidarity with the left (see, e.g., here, and here) , which is why I think the Indivisible recognition is bigger than it first appears.

      Doesn’t fit into your buckets, I don’t think, but this has to be the best tweet ever (with comment from Sirota). Seriously, has there ever been a better tweet representing the leadership of the Democratic Party? Someone died and this guy is trolling for Pharma campaign money.

  21. Scott

    Google and Go Daddy pulled down a Neo Nazi Website.


    I think this is a dangerous precedent about free speech. Internet hosting companies should not be allowed to pick and choose who can and cannot use their services. Yes, the Daily Stormer is a bigoted site that needs to go away, but where does it stop? Do we want big companies deciding who can and cannot have access to the internet based upon their political beliefs?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Can we all just stop blathering about “freedom of speech” then? America promotes no such thing

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          No, no, no, wouldn’t you want the Founder of GoDaddy to be in charge of acceptable speech?


          An elephant is the symbol for the GOP, and although he gives oodles of money to Republican causes, I can think of no better to be in charge of who has the right kind of speech. In a way, he’s bipartisan.

          “[Trump] was the guy that always resonated with me. […] Everything so far he said he’d do he’s done, which is almost unheard of in politics, he gets no credit for it! […] I think when everything is all said and done, he’s gonna be one of the best presidents we’ve ever had.” -Bob Parsons, Founder of GoDaddy.com

          I for one feel confident in corporate America to make the rationale decision.

    1. nowhere

      Just to be picky, they stopped listing the domain.

      A lot of outlets covering this controversy described GoDaddy, somewhat misleadingly, as the Daily Stormer’s hosting provider. But GoDaddy wasn’t storing or distributing the content on the Daily Stormer website. It was the Daily Stormer’s registrar, which is the company that handles registration of “dailystormer.com” in the domain name system, the global database that connects domain names like “arstechnica.com” to numeric IP addresses.

      GoDaddy has faced pressure for months from anti-racist groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League to drop the Daily Stormer as a customer. But until this weekend, GoDaddy resisted that pressure.

      “GoDaddy doesn’t host The Daily Stormer’s content on its servers,” the investigative site Reveal reported in May. “Because it provides only the domain name, the company says it has a higher standard for terminating service.”

      “We need to evaluate what level of effect we can actually have on the abuse that’s actually going on,” said Ben Butler, director of GoDaddy’s digital crimes unit, in a May interview with Reveal. “As a domain name registrar, if we take the domain name down, that domain name stops working. But the content is still out there, live on a server connected to the Internet that can be reached via an IP address or forwarded from another domain name. The actual content is not something we can touch by turning on or off the domain name service.”

      1. HotFlash

        So, it’s more like the Post Office refusing to deliver their mail? Or, more properly, Fedex.

        1. nowhere

          I’d argue no, in that domain registrars (private companies) are under no obligation to provide address information – it’s a paid service that they can offer or not under their terms of service. If there were a Federal DNS system, then the analogy would be more apt.

          These companies don’t host the sites, and they aren’t the companies that do the actual transferring of packets from server to client (in some cases Google does perform ISP functions). They simply insert the name to address mapping into the system (IANA) that the backbone routers across the internet use to find the necessary transfer paths.

          1. barnie

            All this confusion is occurring because the government refuses to classify the internet and underlying internet infrastructure as the utilities that they are. A phone company cannot simply decide who is or is not allowed to have a phone number, and the closest analogy here is that this situation is the same as if GoDaddy refuses to give Daily Stormer a phone number. Regardless of what the Daily Stormer website posted, it is a troubling precedent for internet utilities to make such decisions not subject to any due process.

            1. nowhere

              There are still numerous,private options to get the domain registered. And, yes, private companies can and do deny services for any number of reasons.

              I don’t think Daily Stormed qualifies in this instance for protection under the Equal Protection Clause, but I am open to the argument.

  22. flora

    re: Charlottesville: grand strategy – abolition/neoliberalism bucket

    I think the moral challenges to the neoliberal system will continue, and actual physical confrontations may continue. For some reason the pre-Civil War 10 years comes to mind.
    Civil War violence began in the western territories much earlier than 1860.

    See: Bleeding Kansas
    “Bleeding Kansas, Bloody Kansas or the Border War was a series of violent political confrontations in the United States between 1854 and 1861 involving anti-slavery “Free-Staters” and pro-slavery “Border Ruffian”, or “southern” elements in Kansas.

    At the local level it was guerilla war over “individual settlers’ property”. The 2 sides were externally supported by both Northern and Southern religious and economic interests. In the larger context it fight was over the balance of political power between Southern states and Northern states and the economic base of each.

    For some reason, this history comes to mind when I recall that the Dem estab has done everything possible to deny non-neoliberal Dem candidate wins. See: 2017 special elections. See: 2016 Dem primaries and national convention.

    This all looks to me like a political fight over both control of the party(ies) and the current economic model funding the parties’ establishments. The horse shoe theory serves the estabs’ interests. Too many people, however, are losing in the current neoliberal model.

    Maybe this comment doesn’t belong in the “grand strategy” bucket.

    Hope Lambert/WC continues this timeline/comparison series. ( not an assignment. :) )

      1. JTMcPhee

        Time for some target practice, a few more magazines for the rifles and pistols, and more of those lubricious boxes of ammo…

    1. Rosario

      When the popular, “covered” political debates are not, for the most part, materially based then some (myself included) would argue that no political debate is being had. It is just sound and fury, then to fisticuffs and murder. So yes, your long view may be the case. I can’t bring myself to suit up to fight the culture war just because it is so beside the point.

      1. flora

        Bernie’s campaign speeches were all about material benefits. He had huge crowds. People are ready for a politician who talks kitchen table issues – instead of virtue signaling, or sub rosa shout outs to Wall St. and finance. imo.

  23. Karl Kolchak

    @“I was surprised how taxing the workplace appears to be, both for less-educated and for more-educated workers,” said lead author Nicole Maestas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and an adjunct economist at RAND.

    Clearly this woman has never worked at real job in her life. Which, as someone who grew up in the rust belt but became a college educated suburban professional, is in my experience all too common among the professional class.

  24. Livius Drusus

    Re: the stressful and demanding American workplace, this story reminds me of my favorite Ian Welsh blog post on the culture of meanness in the United States. Discussing why American culture is so mean, Welsh writes:

    Most of this [the culture of meanness] seems to come down to three feelings:

    My life sucks. I have to work a terrible job I hate in order to survive. I have to bow and scrape and do sh*t I don’t want to do. You should have to as well.

    Anyone who doesn’t make it must not be willing to suffer as I do, therefore anyone who doesn’t make it deserves to be homeless, go without food, and so on.

    Anybody who is against us needs to be hurt and humiliated, because that’s how I see my superiors deal with people who go against them.

    “Life is sh*t, therefore your life should be sh*t.”

    “What you’ve got is what you deserve.”

    The full piece is a must read: http://www.ianwelsh.net/the-culture-of-meanness/

    Another take on this phenomenon was given by Tony Manero, John Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever where he discusses how his father gets “dumped on” when he goes to work and then dumps on his mother when he gets home and how different ethnic groups get dumped on so they find others to dump on as well.

    Much of what is wrong with the United States today can be traced back to the collapse of the post-World War II labor-capital compact that made life decent for millions of working-class people and its replacement with management by terror and bullying. Companies try to hide these practices under the cover of “team building” or whatever is popular corporate-speak these days. They also use PR campaigns to convince people that they are really nice and cuddly and even progressive. Silicon Valley companies are the masters of this last tactic as they have even convinced many liberals that they are different from the nasty and dirty extraction and industrial firms by posing as champions of socially liberal causes like gay marriage and gender equality while they are also rabidly ant-union and often foster ultra-competitive, brutal and surveillance-heavy workplace cultures in both the office and the warehouse.

  25. subgenius

    Follow up to Fresno Dan’s Post in today’s links, from the automatic earth…

    The birth of an elephant is a spectacular occasion. Grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and cousins crowd around the new arrival and its dazed mother, trumpeting and stamping and waving their trunks to welcome the floppy baby who has so recently arrived from out of the void, bursting through the border of existence to take its place in an unbroken line stretching back to the dawn of life. After almost two years in the womb and a few minutes to stretch its legs, the calf can begin to stumble around. But its trunk, an evolutionarily unique inheritance of up to 150,000 muscles with the dexterity to pick up a pin and the strength to uproot a tree, will be a mystery to it at first, with little apparent use except to sometimes suck upon like human babies do their thumbs.

    Do Elephants Have Souls?

    Well worth a read…

    1. Synoia

      Yes, and all those relatives are willing and able to turn on a perceived predator and pound them into the ground.

  26. Elizabeth Burton

    While I empathize with the wounded and dead on both sides of the Charlottesville incident, I can’t shake off a growing sense of dread that this kind of incident is being deliberately fomented in order to give the current administration an excuse for declaring martial law in the name of “security.”

    That the plutocrats would like nothing better than a legal means of gutting the Constitution goes, I think, without saying. Their effort to call a Constitutional Convention on the grounds of enacting a balanced-budget amendment has always struck me as an end run into also revoking the 14th Amendment, which they all universally hate, and who knows what else.

    As others have asked, who, exactly, is funding these “alt-right” demonstrations, where the alleged average joes show up armed to the teeth with first-rate equipment? Yes, it could just be an indication the marchers are all upper middle class, but what if they aren’t? It wouldn’t be the first time paid trolls went real-world.

    What makes it doubly worrisome is the ongoing knowledge that the Fraternal Order of Police heartily endorsed Donald Trump in the election. Granted, these days there’s no guarantee what the office staff of a union chooses to do reflects the desires of the rank-and-file, but there seems to have been a lot of questionable behavior on the part of law enforcement in Charlottesville. The one I keep asking is Did these people have a permit for their march? If so, why was it extended if, as all the local officials have been whining all weekend, they weren’t wanted? If not, why were they allowed out of their vehicles?

    I hate to sound foil hatish, but I begin to think it’s unwise to take anything like this at face value anymore. There is way to much dark money piled up for handy distribution, and there’s no rule says it has to go to politicians.

    1. flora

      (adjusts foil bonnet to a jaunty angle)

      I think skepticism is always warranted in these cases. Encouraging disorder and violence in order to create a pretext for suppressing dissent and shutting out competing views is a very old tactic.

      1. flora

        and it’s interesting that both Trump and the Dem estab initially said both right and left groups were equally violent and shared equal blame. Which is not true.

  27. John Merryman

    I still think some objective distinction between liberalism and conservatism might be useful. In the grand scheme of things, liberalism associates with that organic, bottom up social expansion, that carries society forward. Conservatism is that top down structuring and ordering of civil and cultural consolidation, which gives it form.
    Consequently they do have goals and strategies which work past the other, but in the end it is one large thermodynamic swirl.

    The underlaying problem remains an economic circulation mechanism specifically designed to distill and siphon all possible notational value out of society and the environment, rather than distribute it effectively, for the health of the overall community. Leaving everyone at each other’s throats.

    Just as we biologically evolved a central nervous system to mediate our relationship with our context and sociologically evolved government to mediate between communities, we have a arterial circulation system to carry value and energy throughout the body, which is the function of finance in society. So just as we spent a few hundred years developing a semi functional government as public utility and not private enterprise, we are now in the initial stages of evolving public banking as a necessary aspect of society and all these social and civil distractions only serve to obscure that longer term goal.

  28. flora

    re: The Supermanagerial Reich” – [Los Angeles Review of Books]

    An electrifying and terrifying read.

    This para stands out:

    “Supermanagers provide a very specific kind of governance needed in very specific kinds of regimes. The supermanager and their seemingly outsized share of national income is not merely a phenomenon of our own neoliberal era, from the Reagan/Thatcher “revolutions” to the Clinton/Blair era. It was a conspicuous feature of Nazi Germany (and although the data is thinner, it would seem 1920–’30s fascism in general). The most plausible explanation for this compensation draws not from any particularly radical theory of value, nor from moralistic parables about corruption, nor from fairy tales about superheroic capacities. The most plausible explanation is that supermanagers are paid for governance where the state has been redeployed elsewhere or, even, effectively dissolved.”

    Thanks much for this link.

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