2:00PM Water Cooler 8/16/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“A trade war is brewing between the United States and China, but the offended parties — U.S. companies operating in China supposed forced to hand over technology for access to local markets — do not seem to have much to say about the matter” [MarketWatch]. “How bad is the problem that the White House is trying to solve here? … In a recent survey by the U.S.-China Business Council, 20 out of 100 companies surveyed said that they were asked to transfer technology within the past three years as a condition for market access. This certainly sounds believable, especially for a country still ruled by a one-party communist system. A spokesman for the council then opined that this was unjust. Maybe so, but the problem is, if transferring the technology was so deeply against the interests of these 20 companies, why would they acquiesce anyway? Because access to the Chinese market is more important than maintaining technological secrecy for these U.S. firms in these specific cases.”

“Trump administration releases NAFTA renegotiation principles: Read them here” [Cleveland Plain Dealer].

“[T]he NAFTA model does not work for workers. Instead, it subordinates their interests to the bottom-line profit motives of multinational corporations, suppresses wages and labor standards, and contributes to rising inequality. We welcome NAFTA renegotiation and, on behalf of our 1.4 million members, we will engage with our governments to upgrade this flawed and failed ‘free trade’ model” [James P. Hoffa and Francois Laporte, HuffPo]. This starts with the inclusion of a new Labor Chapter to replace the original ineffective side agreement.” From the principles document linked to above, here’s the section on Labor:

(There’s one more bullet point on a “senior-level Labor Committee”…)

“[W]e have to do away with special courts that allow multinational corporations to undermine U.S. laws and take advantage of American workers. These corporate courts are called investor-state dispute settlement and they’ve got to go” [Sherrod Brown, USA Today].

“A Newer NAFTA” [U.S. News and World Report]. “There are three main ways that NAFTA can be improved. First, [NAFTA] does not address many of the e-commerce issues that are now central to international trade…. Second…, the core dispute provision (Chapter 20), which lets governments bring complaints when they believe another government is violating the rules, has not functioned. Defending governments have sometimes been able to prevent complaints against them, as in a 2000 case brought by Mexico against U.S. barriers to sugar, which never made it to the panel stage after the U.S. blocked the process… Third, NAFTA got rid of tariffs on most goods, but there were a few exceptions. One of the most notorious is Canada’s supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs.”

“5 big questions about the NAFTA talks” [Politico]. “Even if the United States scales back its ambitions so negotiators can reach a deal by Christmas, it would be difficult to get to a vote in Congress before the November 2018 midterm elections. That’s because trade legislation requires the White House to give Congress at least 90 days’ notice before signing a new trade agreement. It then gives the U.S. International Trade Commission another 105 days from the date of signing to conduct an economic analysis.”

“Although [it sounds] like [NAFTA] negotiators had a specific end-date in mind, a second USTR official said that was not the case. ‘The U.S., Canada and Mexico are currently finalizing an aggressive negotiating schedule through the end of this year. Ambassador Lighthizer has been clear that the U.S. will not set an artificial deadline,’ the second official said. Stay tuned for more from the talks later today” [Politico]. ” The first USTR official said the negotiating texts will not be released to the public because they are ‘classified’ documents. That’s consistent with past negotiations, but will give critics ammunition to complain the deal is being negotiated in secret.” Because it is!

“NAFTA glossary: Talk trade like a boss, with these negotiating terms” [Canadian Press]. Handy! If you want to know what Demandeur means, this is the place to look.

“While trade on the continent has surged, the academic consensus is that the impact on the U.S. job market wasn’t significant, though some industries and parts of the country were hit hard. And that’s close to the picture that most economists were painting two decades ago” [Bloomberg]. “While economists weren’t predicting an employment windfall, [President Bill] Clinton still focused on the jobs angle, predicting the accord would create 200,000 jobs in two years. ‘Nafta means jobs, American jobs and good-paying American jobs,’ he said. Last year, the U.S. International Trade Commission reviewed the academic literature. It concluded Nafta substantially expanded trade volumes in all three countries but led to only a small boost in U.S. welfare, as measured by gross domestic product and consumption. Overall, the ITC said there was ‘little or no change’ in U.S. employment. There were also winners and losers among industries: wages fell in sectors that were protected before the deal, such as footwear, textiles and plastics, according to one study cited by the commission.”



“Moore, Strange Advance to Runoff in Alabama Senate Primary” [Roll Call].


“Bernie Sanders supporter jumps in to unseat Democrat in one of nation’s hottest House races” [Sacramento Bee]. “A 30-year-old lawyer who backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign last year has jumped into the race to challenge Rep. Ami Bera, a three-term Democrat representing suburban Sacramento.”

“Term Limits Could Hurt Republicans in 2018” [Governing]. “All told, term limits will make a total of 271 state legislators in 24 chambers ineligible to run in 2018, according to an analysis by Ballotpedia. Like state legislatures as a whole, the affected chambers are tilted strongly toward the GOP. Republicans control 19 of the 24 chambers where term limits will have an impact.”

“McCaskill Gets Primary Challenger” [Roll Call]. “Angelica Earl, a political novice, said she rejects McCaskill’s push for a bipartisan solution to health care. The 31-year-old [former health care marketplace worker] from St. Louis County said she supports ‘single-payer health care for all.'”


“McConnell says there are ‘no good neo-Nazis’ after Trump’s ‘very fine people’ comment” [MarketWatch]. “McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, is Trump’s transportation secretary. On Tuesday, she said ‘I stand by my man — both of them,’ when asked by reporters about Trump’s criticism of her husband. McConnell has at times been openly critical of Trump, saying for instance ‘I’m not a fan of the daily tweets.’ But McConnell will be a key player this fall as Congress and the administration try to hammer out a budget deal, raise the debt ceiling and craft a tax-reform package.”

Eyewitness account: “In Charlottesville, the Local Jewish Community Presses On” [Reform Judaism].

Eyewitness account: “Reaction from Emancipation Park” [CBS19]. Interesting detail.

Style Guide: “At AP, we have taken the position that the term “alt-right” should be avoided because it is meant as a euphemism to disguise racist aims. So use it only when quoting someone or when describing what the movement says about itself. Enclose the term “alt-right” in quotation marks or use phrasing such as the so-called alt-right (no quote marks when using the term so-called) or the self-described “alt-right” [AP]. Important note: “The ‘alt-right’ or ‘alternative right’ is a name currently embraced by some white supremacists and white nationalists to refer to themselves and their ideology.” This is not true for those targeted by “alt-left”; they haven’t “embraced” it at all.

“Liberals Helped Create Trump’s New Bogeyman, the “Alt-Left”” [The New Republic]. Plenty of examples from Neera Tanden, Joan Walsh, Joy Reid, and so on.

“What’s the ‘alt-left’? Experts say it’s a ‘made-up term'” [CNN].

“Here Are the Top 100 Political Activists of Resistance Twitter (Part 1)” [Sally Albright and Mia Brett, Independent Journal Review].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trump Loses Corporate America” [Wall Street Journal]. “Companies get in bed with politicians when it serves their interests and are quick to run away when it doesn’t. Thus nobody is obliged to interpret the flutter of CEOs away from President Trump’s advisory council since the Charlottesville riot as occasions of courage. Still, these are some of America’s most delicate PR canaries, surrounded by risk-averse advisers. Mr. Trump’s administration is turning out not to be the administration they were hoping for, though probably the one they realistically expected.” More:

“[T]he show of fascist strength in Charlottesville made it abundantly clear that the most vocal and committed leaders of the movement are not basement-dwelling geeks but heavily armed militiamen. This was no shambolic gathering of weedy LARPers or neckbeards with silly grins and Pepe signs but a uniformed procession of politically serious white nationalists prepared for violence and employing deadly serious chants of “blood and soil” and “you will not replace us'” [The Baffler]. “The almost cartoonish villainy of the far right will enable the center to consolidate its power—and that could, perversely enough, produce another wave of purification and witch-hunting of the kind that a newly vibrant and increasingly popular Anglophone left was starting to finally overcome.”

* * *

Inflammatory material, handle with care — i.e., with evidence and analysis — in comments:

1) History lesson, despite the headline: “The GOP/Nazi Connection” [FAIR (1988)]. “Unlike most media, the Philadelphia Inquirer featured a series of investigative pieces which documented the Nazi link. A front-page lead story (9/10/88) detailed the sordid past of men like Florian Galdau, the national chairman of Rumanians for Bush, who defended convicted war criminal Valerian Trifa; Radi Slavoff, co-chairman of Bulgarians for Bush, who arranged a 1983 event in Washington that honored Austin App, author of several texts denying the existence of the Holocaust; Phillip Guarino, chairman of the Italian-American National Republican Federation, who belonged to a neofascist masonic lodge implicated in terrorist attacks in Italy and Latin America; Bohdan Fedorak, vice chairman of Ukrainians for Bush, who was also a leader of a Nazi collaborationist organization involved in anti-Polish and anti-Jewish wartime pogroms; and Croatian fascist Jerome Brentar, co-chairman of the GOP ethnic coalition, who acknowledged that as an International Refugee Organization officer he helped hundreds of Nazis emigrate to the US after World War II. Brentar was the principal financial backer for the defense of convicted war criminal John Demjanjuk.” See also Russ Bellant’s book on this topic (full text). Just let me underline that the incorporation of (former (?)) Nazis by the United States was a thoroughly bipartisan affair; I don’t mean to imply either party has clean hands.

2) “Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe revealed* on Monday that the far right activists had hidden caches of weapons around the city. ‘They had battering rams and we had picked up different weapons that they had stashed around the city,’ McAuliffe told civil rights campaigner DeRay Mckesson on his podcast Pod Save the People” [Guardian]. I’ve seen this amplifying quickly on the Twitter to caches everywhere a la Rwanda, with locations announced over the radio. My spidey sense tingles on this for several reasons. On Charlottesville in particular: (1) No physical evidence; (2) DeRay and McAuliffe are both Democrat operatives, with every incentive (a) to lie about McAuliffe’s ineffectual (“Where were the LRADs?!”) response, and — tinfoil hat time! — every incentive to (b) pivot away from the failing Russia narrative to a new phase of gaslighting. On the larger possibilities: (1) The lack of physical evidence is odd, given FBI infiltration of militias, (2) the sorts of groups tracked by SPLC are highly factionalized and sectarian; it’s doubtful they could organize anything on a continental scale. * Politicians don’t “reveal.” It’s absurd to pretend that arch-Clintonite and uber-fundraiser McAuliffe is a neutral player here.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of August 11, 2017: “Despite the weekly decline, the strong and strengthening year-on-year growth pace in purchase applications points to a solid housing market, driven by low mortgage rates and high unemployment levels” [Econoday]. Sigmund Freud, courtesy phone? And: “The harsh language between the United States and North Korea drove demand (and prices) for bonds higher last week. When bond prices rise, mortgage loan rates decline. By Sunday, North Korea retreated on its threat to nuke Guam, and investors fled the bond markets, sending bond prices down and mortgage loan rates higher. Not a lot higher, but up from the nine-month lows available last Friday. The most prevalent loan rate for top-tier borrowers remains at 4%” [MarketWatch].

Housing Starts, July 2017: Lower than expected [Econoday]. “The rate is now back to the weakness of March and April in what may be emerging as a declining trend this year. Permits also fell…. The swing factor is multi-family units, the smaller of the report’s two components but, after a run of heavy building earlier this year, are now in retreat. … Putting all the pieces together: starts are down 5.6 year-on-year in weakness offset by permits which are up 4.1 percent. Permits are the forward looking indication in this report and today’s news, despite July weakness and general volatility in the data, is good. The housing sector, even with starts being soft, looks to be a contributor to the second-half economy.” But: “Note that multi-family starts are volatile month-to-month, and has seen wild swings over the last year. … As I’ve been noting for a couple of years, the growth in multi-family starts is behind us – multi-family starts probably peaked in June 2015” [Calculated Risk]. But: “Lower than expected, and, as always starts are ultimately determined by permits, which have been slowing as per the chart, which also reflects the deceleration in mortgage lending over the last 6 months” [Mosler Economics].

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, August 2017: “Inflation expectations are as weak as actual inflation” [Econoday]. “The inability to get prices going is a major concern for Federal Reserve policy makers who have been attributing the weakness to one-time factors such as low costs for cell phones and gasoline.” Snark from Econoday (!).

Housing: “The rental site ApartmentList released its annual survey of renters in 50 major U.S. metro areas today, with some figures to make locals sit up and take notice: 83 percent of Bay Area renters say they want to move out of the SF metro area” [Curbed]. “And, no surprise, about two thirds of those apparently impending immigrants cite the cost of living here as the factor most likely to drive them out.”

Shipping: “Cyber-attack wiped up to $300m from Maersk’s books: [Splash 247]. That’s almost real money!

Shipping: “New accounts from the country’s biggest import gateways suggest retailers certainly are stocking up for a rebound. California’s ports of Los Angeles and Long Bach reported double-digit gains in inbound container volume to new record levels in July and the Port of Oakland, with more modest 5.4% growth, also set an import record. Those boxes are bringing more goods to warehouses and stores, giving shipping lines a big start to the peak season and what retailers hope will be a shopping season that pays for all that inventory” [Wall Street Journal].

Infrastructure: “President Donald Trump is acting to speed up consideration of infrastructure projects even as the administration’s plan for highways, bridges and ports is still waiting in the wings. The president’s new executive order directs federal agencies to more quickly review the environmental effects of projects…” [Wall Street Journal]. “It’s one of the few steps Mr. Trump can take on infrastructure without the help of Congress, but any action to get construction going faces an uncertain future. Republican lawmakers have been focused on health care and a tax overhaul. And there is plenty of skepticism in Washington over the administration’s plan to have cities, states and private industry fund the lion’s share of a program Mr. Trump says will total $1 trillion.”

The Bezzle: “‘Body Brokers’ Get Kickbacks To Lure People With Addictions To Bad Rehab” [NPR]. “The first step for unscrupulous rehab centers: Recruiting clients who have good health insurance. That’s created a whole new industry — something called patient brokering or ”body brokering.'” Because markets.

The Bezzle: “The Fed Has 6,200 Tons of Gold in a Manhattan Basement—Or Does It?” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Fed tells visitors its basement vault holds the world’s biggest official gold stash and values it at $240 billion to $260 billion. But ‘no one at all can be sure the gold is really there except Fed employees with access,’ said Ronan Manly, a precious-metals analyst at gold dealer BullionStar in Singapore. If it is all there, he said, the central bank has ‘never in its history provided any proof.'” Sounds like a phishing equilibrium to me…

The Bezzle: “The Seattle-based company launched a service Tuesday that lets Prime members in five cities pick up things like snacks, cold drinks or phone chargers within two minutes of ordering them online. Customers need to head over to an Amazon location to collect their order” [Bloomberg]. Wait, I think there’s a word for that… “Store”?

Political Risk: “Amazon’s stock slips after President Trump tweet that company is doing ‘great damage'” [MarketWatch]. “Shares of Amazon.com Inc. slipped 0.3% in premarket trade Wednesday, but pared earlier losses, after President Donald Trump tweeted that the e-commerce giant was ‘doing great damage to tax paying retailers.’ The stock had fallen as much as 0.9% within a few minutes after the tweet.”

Five Horsemen: “Apple’s on a roll at a fresh new high” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Aug 16

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 36 Fear (previous close: 39, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 61 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Aug 15 at 12:15pm.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Slave Revolt in Jamaica, 1760-1761: A Cartographic Narrative” [AxisMaps]. “Mapping the revolt and its suppression illustrates something that is difficult to glean from simply reading the textual sources. The colonists and imperial officials who produced the historical record were universally unsympathetic to the rebellion, and we have no documents produced by the rebels. So the written record skews our understanding toward the insights, fears, hopes, and desires of slaveholders. But we learn something else by plotting the combatants’ movements in space. Tracing their locations over time, it is possible to discern some of their strategic aims and to observe the tactical dynamics of slave insurrection and counter-revolt.”

“Amandla Stenberg and Janelle Monáe Open Up About Racism and Where They Were During the Election” [Teen Vogue]. Of course, by “open up” we mean “strategically reveal.” Nevertheless, an interesting document.

“The hedge fund manager, Daniel S. Loeb, one of the state’s most prolific political donors, said in a Facebook posting last week that [Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the state Senate minority leader] was worse for minorities than ‘anyone who has ever donned a hood” because of her support for teachers’ unions. Mr. Loeb has since deleted the post and apologized” [New York Times]. “Daniel S. Loeb, a hedge fund magnate, has apparently used Ku Klux Klan references at least twice to criticize those who he believes oppose charter schools.”


“A new Global Witness report reveals that 2016 was the deadliest year ever recorded for environmental defenders, with 200 activists murdered – compared to 185 in 2015. The violence has also spread geographically. Environmentalists were killed in 24 countries, up from 16 in 2015″ [Deutsche Welle]. “One reason crimes against environmental defenders are on the rise is they usually go unpunished, giving the green light to perpetrators elsewhere… And despite growing international awareness, both the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) are actually moving to relax their safeguards against investing in projects responsible for environmental and human rights abuses.

That’s because they are increasingly in competition with rival investors like the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) led by China, [campaigner J.B.] Garganera says.”

Class Warfare

“This March, the Upjohn Institute published the most comprehensive study of [state and local] economic development incentives yet produced, analyzing data from 1990 to 2015. The researchers found that although the average amount of incentives tripled over that period, increasing from 9 percent of business taxes to 30 percent, they were largely ineffective and governments would have experienced the same results without the incentives 94 percent of the time” [Governing].

“An excerpt from Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives” [Verso]. “Out of my $1,600 each month, I send home $1,200. I take off $160 for tithing to my church here and $40 for my calling cards. I don’t spend any money here—it’s all for my family back home. I never go to a movie. I don’t even buy spring water. My family back home are paying off the debts with the money I send. But, like I told you, people believe that in America you can pick up dollars from the grass. Even now, I get text messages on my phone from people at home saying, ‘Send me money.’ Oh Jesus, they don’t know. ‘Please, please, please send me five thousand rands.” Do they know how much work it takes to make five thousand rands? Do they know what I’m doing? They don’t understand a thing.'” Cheap labor. What the immigration debate is all about.

“In interviews with workers, it has become clear that Nissan promoted hundreds of temporary workers to full-time “pathway” status in the months leading up to the union election. Many workers complain that the new ‘pathway’ employees were tough to organize since many of the workers felt a debt of gratitude to management for promoting them” [Payday Report]. “Nissan denied allegations that they promoted temps to counter the union election.” I’m not sure why this election was even called, given the numbers. To make a point?

“No sanctuary, fewer farmhands: How Dairyland suffers under Trump agenda” [Reveal News]. “As one of the state’s largest industries and the core of its Cheesehead identity, dairy production is heavily dependent on immigrant workers.” Dairy also, apparently, being a topic at NAFTA. Everything is deeply intertwingled.

News of the Wired

“Power in Simplicity: How This Modern Photographer Mastered His Style” [Lens Culture]. Charles Sheeler.

“New York City makes the claim that it’s the podcast capital of the world (but is that a good thing?)” [Nieman Labs].

* * *

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:

“Berberis aquifolium (formerly Mahonia aquifolium) is among the tallest of an informal subgroup within Berberis known commonly as the Oregon grapes (note: not actually grapes).”

* * *

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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. curlydan

    McCaskill challenger: “On [Earl’s] website, the Missouri Democrat asks for donations to help her travel across the state. She is using Crowdpac, a nonpartisan and free technology platform, to organize and collect contributions… As of Thursday afternoon, her Crowdpac page reported $117 in funds raised from six donors out of a $5,000 goal”

    I just gave $25 to her. Crowdpac’s website could use some work. I had to switch off from IE to Chrome to get it to display correctly, then had to switch from Amex to Visa to get my cc donation through.

    1. Rhondda

      I contributed, as well. And after I swore I would never support a Democrat again.

      But McCaskill must go. Now if we only had a challenger for Cleaver…

      Thanks for including this, Lambert. I would probably never have known had it not been at NC.

  2. Synoia

    What’s the ‘alt-left’? Experts say it’s a ‘made-up term’

    It’s what happens in the Democratic Party after you press the “alt” and “Crtl (left)” keys on your keyboard.


    1. hunkerdown

      It’s a shortcut for navigating backward in browsers etc. Lest the Democrat nomenklatura get any ideas, Alt+Right is the shortcut for navigating forward to the place you just left via Alt+Left. And so goes politics.

  3. Synoia

    Nafta Nefariousness:

    One of the most notorious is Canada’s supply management system for dairy, poultry and eggs.

    That would be Quebec. Not a Ox to be Gored.

    1. A1

      Which is why the rest of Canada hopes they leave. It always amuses me then the Bloc and BQ assume when they leave they will still have the same market access. I agree that things like the Olympics will be easy for a sovereign Quebec, but they seem to think that organizations like Air Canada will continue to be run out of Montreal.

  4. Left in Wisconsin

    NAFTA This starts with the inclusion of a new Labor Chapter to replace the original ineffective side agreement.

    Not sure what to think about this. For an international agreement, it’s a good list. But, ultimately, the only way to improve working class lives, anywhere, is to (re-)empower independent unions, which would seem difficult or impossible to accomplish via international agreement. What country is going to allow some international agreement to over-ride its sovereignty? Ha,ha – I meant with regard to working people.

    And it is hard to see such a revision doing anything to change the outsourcing math in the short- or medium-term. For that, you would need an explicit industrial policy, i.e protectionism.

      1. MichaelSF

        But wouldn’t that $10 after 10 years probably have similar (or less) purchasing power to $5 now? That seems to me to be an issue for these “we’ll eventually get you to a point that sounds good if it were to happen immediately” proposals.

    1. hemeantwell

      . But, ultimately, the only way to improve working class lives, anywhere, is to (re-)empower independent unions,

      Exactly, and that’s why I’m cleaning spewed coffee off my monitor after seeing that Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters was one of the “authors” of the article. The Teamster misleadership is the poster child of union corruption, floating along on a lake of salary double-dipping and sellouts to the hauling industry. Teamsters for a Democratic Union almost knocked them out this year, winning the vote in the US regions. I bet Hoffa has been scared into a round of posturing by the close call.

      1. hemeantwell

        My copy of the TDU newsletter just came. This issue’s corruption spectacular: John Coli, Hoffa’s power broker in Chicago and once a possible heir, was indicted by the feds on June 12 for taking $100K in payoffs from a teamster employer. In 2004 Hoffa had previously canned a nominally independent investigator, Ed Stier, who had been getting too close to dirt on Coli.

        Thanks, Arianna!

  5. Dita

    Re: the gold under Manhattan, reminded me of that time a few years back when Germany decided to repatriate its gold held here. It was supposed to take 7 years, which suggested the gold was not in our physical custody and it would take that long for the US to source the gold. Turns out that was case. So I doubt we have eleventy billion in gold, except on paper.

    1. JerseyJeffersonian

      Think I have my timeline correct here. I think that Deutschland had to settle for only a percentage of that gold that they wished repatriated, and that only after the gold reserves of the Ukrainian Central Bank were spirited away in unmarked plane(s) in the middle of the night. Funny that.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Try these two links-


          I am guessing that that was the price that the Maiden nationalist had to pay for US support. After all, it is recorded that the US spent at least $5 billion to finance that putsch.
          Same happened to Libya’s gold but I think that France made the grab for that gold. Anybody care to lay a bet on how much gold is in Fort Knox? Especially since nobody has actually seen it since the 1970s?

          1. jo6pac

            Libya gold was taken by the cia as email from wilaleaks points out and hillabillie was in charge. The rest of Libya gold was at goldman sax NYC and it disappeared also.

        2. Christopher Fay

          It was covered on Zero Hedge when it happened. One of the things that was liberated when the liberation coup was thrown in Kiev. What do you think happens in one of the places on earth that is perfecting that combination of criminality and incompetence? And I think they did it without the involvement of Larry Summers.

  6. River

    The Verso link: An excerpt from Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives has the same URL as the article that proceeds it. The Governing Link.

  7. flora

    Thanks for the NAFTA updates.
    re:China. inc.
    “In a recent survey by the U.S.-China Business Council, 20 out of 100 companies surveyed said that they were asked to transfer technology within the past three years as a condition for market access. This certainly sounds believable, especially for a country still ruled by a one-party communist system….”

    China has been playing this “market access” dodge for 15-20 years. Maybe US companies should consider how well it’s worked out for them – or not – to date. Bringing manufacturing home is one option…. sigh….

    1. Scott

      It’s not in the company’s interest, but it is in their executives’ as it will boost short-term profits and bonus at the expense of long-term ones.

      My proposed solution is very simple – if it’s needed to access the Chinese market, then companies should loose patent protection for the technology in the U.S.

    2. MG

      This is the stuff that the Chinese military and state intelligence agencies haven’t been able to hack or get via industrial espionage including recruiting Chinese grad students who do internships or get jobs at these U.S.-based firms.

      I know DuPont was so paranoid about this that they literally kept some things in highly-secured areas on paper or on unnetworked electronic storage devices that had extensive security provisions in highly-secured areas.

  8. flora

    re: “Power in Simplicity: How This Modern Photographer Mastered His Style” [Lens Culture]. Charles Sheeler.

    Thanks for that link. Didn’t know about Charles Sheeler. A couple of those photos are breathtaking.

    1. jsn

      Charles Sheeler was also a great painter, MOMA has both his photos and paintings in their permanent collection.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve seen some lovely Sheelers at the MFA in Boston, but I had no idea about the photographs.

        The subject matter reminds me of the Bechers, but Sheeler doesn’t seem so chilly, somehow, and he doesn’t seem to have encyclopedic ambitions.

        1. jsn

          I don’t think Sheeler was at all alienated from his subject matter, I think he called himself a “precisionist” which would suggest he admired the machine aesthetic he represented. The Bechers, who’s work I like, are definitely alienated from their subjects, aestheticizing that alienation: a cool mix of nostalgia and desolation.

        2. Christopher Fay

          Here too, I saw a couple Sheeler paintings at the MFA. A few years back MFA had a Sheeler photography exhibition.

        3. Oregoncharles

          He makes that steel mill look like a cathedral – there are obvious references to earlier photos of cathedrals. (Sorry, I’ve had 40 years to forget the names.) And there are workers strategically placed. The barn, on the other hand, looks like an abstract minimalist painting. So no, not chilly at all.

          In fact, the photos are moving in a way the Bechers’ never are (yes, I’ve seen a lot of them.) That site is a very helpful find; spent quite a while looking at it, will return. We used to be photographers.

  9. nowhere

    Laurie Penny has an interesting piece in The Baffler A Letter to my Liberal Friends.

    So stand up if you have ever dismissed the words and deeds of organized racists and violent misogynist movements as simply examples of freedom of speech and therefore by some arcane metric acceptable; stay standing if you have ever argued that the center-left needs to court anti-immigrant and anti-Black sentiment to win power. Stay standing if you have ever made an equivalence between people who smash windows in the name of the right of every individual to life and liberty and people who slaughter and threaten women and people of color simply for existing. Stay standing if you have ever believed that fascism and anti-fascism are morally equivalent when their proponents wear masks and march in the streets; if you suspect even now that this deadly culture war would not be happening if young women, people of color and people of non-Christian faith had not selfishly and relentlessly demanded their right to be treated as if their lives actually mattered. Stay standing. It’s more than time you stood up. Everyone is looking at you. What are you going to do?

      1. nowhere

        So you’ve said repeatedly today; there isn’t one mention of Antifa in this article.

        I don’t sign-in to Google/YouTube, so I’ll take your word for it.

      2. hemeantwell

        Oh, boy. Looks like it’s time for “totalitarianism” to come off the bench to lay down a fog of obfuscation. Instead of trying to resuscitate Cold War algebra that bascially tries to prove that The Good = the Capitalist Center, try listening to Antifa people explain what they are doing. I doubt you will hear references to purity, racial degeneration, and all the other claptrap that the men sporting the arcane heraldry muster to make a case for genocide.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Fascism and antifascism (Antifa-Communists)

        If I have my genealogy correct, antifa is out of anarchism via block bloc. Whatever anarchists may be, they are not collectivists.

        > Learn reality

        From one of those gamergate people? I think not.

        1. Mike

          From other Praedor postings, I gather he is a professional Clintonista who wants to combine all enemies of Hillary with the dreaded fascists, thus tying the left to the right because VIOLENCE. German government tried that in the 30’s as well, and the frightened middle class, tired and afraid of both sides (“can’t we all just get along”), fell for that in a big way, just like ours has and will. They’re not called the “middle class” for nothing.

        2. witters

          “Whatever anarchists may be, they are not collectivists.”

          Well, certainly not individualist anarchists, but communitarian anarchism ala Kropotkin isn’t too far from this: “Collectivism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the group and its interests. Collectivism is the opposite of individualism. Collectivists focus on communal, societal, or national interests in various types of political, economic, and educational systems.”

          1. flora

            Bah. Kropotkin’s analysis seems to this flyover state resident like a theoretical pleading.
            In the early west, what is now the midwest, pulling together on the big issues for the whole was a matter of survival, not a moral stance. The early west required both collectivism and individualism. (Who would have departed the civilized east coast for the uncertainty of the west if not for individualism. Who could have survived the west’s precarious existance if not for collectivism?) The ‘all or nothing’ binary approach is both narrow minded and self-blinding, imo. It takes too much for granted. And, imo, the old west’s survival requirements are not as irrelevant to modern political discourse as is imagined.
            No offense meant to to those who disagree with this opinion. NC’s strength is, imo, its openness to fierce but honest argument.

      4. nippersdad

        “…we would have been crushed like cockroaches if it were not for the anarchists and the anti-fascists…The anti-fascists, and then, crucial, the anarchists, because they saved our lives…and I’ll never forget that.”

        It sounds like Cornell West would beg to disagree. I don’t claim to know much about them, but it looks to me like they were there when it counted, protecting the clergy and others there specifically to express their individualism and to celebrate their diversity through free speech.


      5. anonymous

        Antifa is the nascent paramilitary wing of the identitarian left. They are not armed like the alt-right is, but there are many many more of them, and they are filled with the moral certainty, sure god is on their side because diversity.

        They are far more dangerous than the idiots with the nazi flags.

        1. Yves Smith

          In case you missed it, those idiots with the Nazi flags had guns and bludgeons. Bludgeons are a better weapon in close combat than a gun. They nearly beat a black man to death. They also killed one person and inflicted lots of injuries at Charlottesville.

          Your claim that the white supremacists, who had much smaller number but were operating with military discipline and inflicted far more damage, is counterfactual.

          Agnotology is against our written site Policies. You’ve already gone afoul of them and are accumulating troll points. This is not a chat board and commenting is a privilege, not a right. You need to shape up if you are going to continue to post comments.

    1. djrichard

      There’s equivalencies at play. Just along different lines.

      Remember when the GOP became woke after 9/11. And decided that evil doers in the middle east could no longer be tolerated and had the courage to wage the global war on terror (GWoT)? And there was to be no fence sitting, so that people were called out if they didn’t denounce evil doers? Well payback is a [family blog]. Because now the libs are woke after Trump and Charlottesville. I guess that was their 9/11 equivalent. In any case, they’re doing the same thing. Obsessing about distinguishing who’s an evil doer and who isn’t. Calling others out if they don’t denounce the evil doers.

      Do they intend to bring the GWoT home to rage on the evil doers in our midst? Eh suspect not. But how about regime change?
      Well, now we’re talking.

      If they’re successful with this campaign to bring down Trump, will they still carry on this GWOT regarding evil doers in our midst? Hmm, I suspect attention will drift to other things (to eliminate that more pernicious evil – the true left wingers).

      After this civil war burns itself out in the US, will the non-evil-doers feel squeamish about throwing the extreme right wingers under the bus in the cause of regime changing Trump? Well let’s go back and re-visit the original GWOT. Do any of the participants in the GWOT feel squeamish about throwing evil-doers in the middle east under the bus in the name of regime change in Iraq? Maybe a little, but I’m sure it felt good.

    2. justanotherprogressive

      Well I hope it is the emotionalism of the moment that is causing this woman to speak this way, but as long as we have the First Amendment, people have the right to say whatever it is they want to say, no matter how abhorrent it is to anyone else’s value system. If you don’t like that amendment, then get it changed. And we all have the right to protest their speaking if only to show the world that not everybody thinks the way they do. But NO ONE has the right to “sock a Nazi” or anyone else for speaking their views…..

      I do wonder, though, why she is so afraid of opposing views and is so intent on “calling out” people who don’t agree with every word she says. She reminds me of a “Christian” neighbor of mine who won’t let her children go to public school, won’t let them read Harry Potter, won’t let them watch TV, etc., because she is so afraid that they might get “ideas”.

      Is Ms. Penny afraid that their message is more persuasive than hers? If so, she shouldn’t be criticizing them – she should be looking to herself and what values she is projecting……why is it that what a bunch of white supremacists have to say would be more acceptable to the general public than what she stands for? Let them talk. If too many people agree with them, then perhaps it’s time to do some soul searching to find out WHY these people have rejected her message in favor of the white supremacist’s message instead of just trying to shut them down or calling them names……

      1. jrs

        some messages have much more money behind them than others … and that matters a lot. It’s not just that we aren’t perfectly “rational actors”, although we aren’t, because which ideas succeed is not decided on the strictly inter-psychic level like that anyway, it’s decided in a social context in which ideas with more money behind them will always have a much better chance.

        1. justanotherprogressive

          You might be right – to a point. Certainly Hillary had more money……but she still couldn’t make her message acceptable to those in the rust belt…..

          From the CEO outpouring of condemnation, I wouldn’t fear that the white supremacists will ever have that much money……but who knows? There might be a billionaire out there somewhere….

  10. JohnnyGL

    Interesting find with McAuliffe talking to DeRay. You’re right to ask questions….

    I think the Dem establishment sees the black vote as key to holding back the challenge from the left. I suspect that they’re worried it really won’t work in 2020. Since they’re not a national party anymore, if Dems don’t have the Presidency, they’ve got nothing at all.

    Exhibit A) Kamala Harris being shopped around. Those asking questions immediately tarred as racist/sexist.
    Exhibit B) Nazi/Fascist/Confederates marching unimpeded to scare the black vote back into line.
    Exhibit C) Nina Turner being shut out….hard.

    Glen Ford of BAR has said black voters no longer comprise the left flank of the party, they only want ‘protection’ from Republicans.

    This gets at the real significance of Clinton’s loss. 3rd way centrists CANNOT deliver on their supposed ‘inevitability’. As if to reinforce the point, Ossoff’s loss really hammered it home. By under-performing Clinton, Ossoff proved the point that this is not just isolated to Clinton’s unique lack of campaign skills and political baggage of never-ending scandals.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer here.

      Something I noticed, from the very first organizing event I attended in late July 2015: The diversity of my fellow volunteers. Young. Old. White. People of color. And on and on it went.

      Which is why I found the Bernie Bro framing so puzzling. It simply didn’t square with my experience here in Tucson.

      So, @JohnnyGL, I agree with you. The establishment Dems have nothing at all.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Which is why I found the Bernie Bro framing so puzzling

        It’s not puzzling at all. Liberal Democrats regard identities as silos (and I would bet that a political version of Conway’s Law (from software engineering) is at play):

        Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.

        So, for example, there are desks funded at the DNC for blacks, Hispanics, women, and hence the bureaucratic structure is translated into categories they apply to the real world, and it’s literally impossible for them (see Upton Sinclair) to conceive of “black working class women.” Three silos, not one person. That requires both/and (Venn Diagram) thinking as opposed to either/or (silo) thinking.

        So the BernieBro was a two-fer: (1) It was a smear to keep the firewall intact, and (2) it reinforced the silos of their worldview.

        If you go back to yesterday’s Water Cooler here, you will see an example of a liberal goodthinker at the New Yorker erasing a young black man protecting an old white man, presumably because the writer cannot accept the cognitive dissonance of the mixed categories: black is to white as chalk is to cheese as apples are to oranges…

        1. johnnygl

          I wonder if it’s about stand alone buckets of ‘identity’ or if maybe the neoliberal mentality runs so deep that New Yorker brains can’t understand what ‘solidarity’ is.

          Obviously, the black guy jerry-rigged a flame-thrower because it was in his SELF-INTEREST to do so!!!

          1. anonymous

            Identity politics allow morally bankrupt corporations to virtue signal without impacting their larceny.

            We rip off our clients and society, but our diversity numbers are great!

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        The goal wasn’t to influence people already volunteering for Sanders. The goal was to cloud the situation for people who have less diversity of news sources especially the types who might have doubts about Hillary or would be receptive to voting if they thought there was a credible, alternative candidate.

        The line about female supporters of Sanders being boy crazy was meant to create the idea the woman Sanders supporter or a Hillary supporter’s great granddaughter who voted for Sanders was simply being childish because young kid doesn’t watch Morning Joe and gets their news from the internet.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > think the Dem establishment sees the black vote as key to holding back the challenge from the left

      The “firewall” is of critical importance to them; they’ll defend it to the death because at this point it’s all they’ve got.

      1. johnnygl

        Sorry i didn’t finish my point earlier.

        What i was getting at is that corp dems flagrantly can’t deliver the ‘protection’ that Glen Ford says that black voters have been seeking. That is their entire reason for existing.

        Since corp dem eastablishment can’t deliver ‘protection’, and it’s there for all to see, I wonder if what looks like a possible attempt to scare black voters back into line will completely backfire. It may backfire even worse than the ‘russia’ line of attack. That one was just a dud. An active fear campaign is more likely to drive up DSA and BLM membership and radicalize the dem base to fight back.

        It was plain to see who’s willing to lock arms and fight in the streets on behalf of black people. It sure wasn’t governor MacAuliff or neera tanden.

  11. Vatch

    “A new Global Witness report reveals that 2016 was the deadliest year ever recorded for environmental defenders, with 200 activists murdered – compared to 185 in 2015. The violence has also spread geographically. Environmentalists were killed in 24 countries, up from 16 in 2015″ [Deutsche Welle]

    Somehow, I don’t think these murder victims are green elitists or green charlatans. I rather suspect that it is elite opponents of environmentalists who are ordering or committing the murders. For context, see this discussion from yesterday:


  12. kareninca

    The thing is, nearly all of the violence at these rallies could be prevented. It is not rocket science. If the cops kept the sides apart, and arrested anyone they saw hitting someone else, 99.9 percent of the injuries would not happen. This would not prevent a car ramming perhaps, but perhaps it would – since losing out on the possibility of the joy of hitting someone with a baseball bat might keep car-rammers away.

    But the cops don’t want to prevent the violence and injuries; not in Berkeley, not in Charlottesville. They don’t keep the sides apart, and they stand around with their heads up their family blogs when people attack one another. This is not what any middle class person expects of police. A middle class person expects that if a cop sees one person hitting another, he will step in and arrest one or both of them, preventing further violence. Their standing around is putting police in very bad repute with the general public. My most “pro-cop upper middle class” friend is deeply shocked by their lack of intervention; I take him as very representative.

    Of course, the individual cops aren’t making this decision. Whoever is instructing the police on how to respond, wants this violence. Which could easily be prevented. Who has come up with this decision to just let it happen?

    1. a different chris

      You don’t even have to hit anyone to be arrested (ask your nearest black fellow), “terroristic threats” will do fine… and anyway cops have always had this trick where they put you in jail for 23 hrs and 59 minutes and then let you go. And you (as my friend arrested after a college football game explained) can do nothing but collect your shoelaces and walk out.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        You don’t even have to hit anyone to be arrested (ask your nearest black fellow), “terroristic threats” will do fine

        Here in LA, we have Asian cops, African American cops, Latino cops, White cops, female cops, etc.

        Its’ more like, ask your nearest serf, whatever creed, color, gender, etc.

    2. clarky90

      “Chaos isn’t a pit. Chaos is a ladder.”

      I watched Game of Thrones last night for the very first time. Lots of murder, mayhem and scheming.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > My most “pro-cop upper middle class” friend is deeply shocked by their lack of intervention; I take him as very representative.

      Re: Violence

      As the old saying goes, “The first one to propose violence is always the cop.”

      Given that black bloc (hence, I assume, antifa) was heavily infiltrated by the police, as were organizations like the KKK and the militia, it doesn’t take much imagination to speculate that the police were perfectly happy to have escalation take place: It means more funding and more power for them; we’re starting to see a self-licking ice cream cone evolve.

      I seem to recall that Czarist Russia had much the same problem; the secret police had so infiltrated all sides that all sides were fighting each other, along with the agent provocateurs on each side.

      Not that I’m foily.

    4. fritter

      They knew it was coming because the permits were contested. I think they wanted the alt-right groups to get pummeled. One witness mentioned that they were pushed out of the area, a park, that they were using as a “home base” and basically forced into confrontation with the alt-left or (what ever the counter-protestors are called). You have two groups that hate each other its not too hard to get them to fight.

      The amazing part to me is all of the talk of guns carries by the alt-right. Supposedly they had an arsenal, but who got shot? Not one person. Does that make any sense, I don’t see how? You mean to tell me that a large group of organized hateful racists is armed and getting the crap beat out of them with sticks. There is just something not quite right about the whole narrative around this event. Its just, off.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Alt-left…made up term.

        Like the auto-antonym word sanction (and many like that), which is defined:

        a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule.
        “a range of sanctions aimed at deterring insider abuse”
        synonyms: penalty, punishment, deterrent; More
        official permission or approval for an action.
        “he appealed to the bishop for his sanction”

        It’s easy to see how effortlessly it would be for a made-up word to be in the dictionary soon, and with some effort, even as an auto-antonym.

      2. anonymous

        How much more gleeful could the Dems be that this happened?

        They obviously wanted something to happen, especially now that RussiaGate is dying. Hey look over there!

  13. curlydan

    Republican Wisconsin state lawmaker Bob Gannon: “If it takes illegal immigrants to make their business model operate I think their model is broken…. I’m in agreement with President Trump that if you break the law in the United States you should expect to get a one-way ticket out of here.”

    That’s rich. A Republican saying a business model using illegal immigration is broken. It’s your freaking business model, Bob. You love cheap wages. It’s the magical market, remember? At least a Democrat would add a little more blah, blah, blah and hedge, hedge, hedge to the answer.

    1. Huey Long

      I’d love it if the GOP would actually go ahead, build the wall, deport each and every illegal immigrant, and eliminate the H-1b visa scheme. I’m sick and tired of big business and chamber of commerce types diluting the value of my labor by importing folks to compete with me from abroad.


      In reality the anti-immigrant saber rattling is all about keeping illegal immigrants in their place at the bottom of the economic totem pole so that the guys at the top can get rich on their backs. The spectre of deportation provides a strong disincentive against “making trouble” and keeps these people poor, disorganized, and weak.

      The GOP base proles don’t seem to understand that no matter how much anti-illegal immigrant rhetoric their politicians spew these politicians are never going to round up all the illegal immigrants and deport them. They’re essentially being used to provide political cover for the violent suppression of what amounts to America’s Untouchable Caste ™.

      1. makedoanmend

        Well put!

        (And how many doors will be built into the wall? Sure, the door sellers gotta get their bit of the action. Widows? Door Bells? the grift list is endless.)

        (Everytime these nutters speak about building an immigration wall, I can’t get Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” outta my mind.)

      2. RUKidding


        PLUS: when, oh, when will there EVER be consequences for businesses and corporations who knowingly recruit, import, hire undocumented workers??

        That almost never happens. All of the consequences happen to the undocumented workers who are busted, perhaps fairly, but there simply are few to no consequences for the business owners who hire these workers.

        A LOT of these issues would be DOA if the businesses, themselves, didn’t actively seek to recruit and hire undocumented workers. But the GOP can yammer on about the perfidy and/or criminality or whatever of undocumented people, but they say absolutely bupkiss about the business owners who knowlingly hire them.

        H1(b) visas are another category, but it’s similar. The business owners whine that there simply aren’t enough skilled workers in the USA, so they “have to” hire workers from overseas, mostly from third world countries, so they can pay them less and artificially depress wages. Congress colludes. I guess it’s lucrative for our poodles in Congress.

        Meanwhile perfectly trained, skilled, experienced US workers can’t find full time jobs in their fields.

        Don’t expect anyone in Versailles on the Potomac to help out, that’s for d*mn sure.

        1. funemployed

          Nailed it. It would be very easy to convince the overwhelming majority of illegal immigrants to voluntarily leave the US. Randomly audit employers. If illegal immigrants are employed, take the top person in the organizational chart, and throw them in prison for 5 years for the first offence, 10 for the second, etc.

          I’m not necessarily recommending this policy, but if you are actually serious about illegal immigration, it’s by far the simplest solution. Although, I don’t know. Our ruling class truly is historically stupid. Maybe it hasn’t actually occurred to any of them.

      3. sgt_doom

        Nicely articulated, but it is part and parcel of . . . .

        The Neverending War on Workers:

        Reports are recently surfacing that undocumented workers in Florida, when injured on the job and qualfying for workers comp, are instead turned into ICE by insurance companies, thus avoiding insurance payouts. This recalls an article in the Seattle Times around 2003, detailing that Chinese factories which Nordstrom dealt with were almost routinely killing – – by burying alive – – young, underaged female workers when they were injured. If the factory managers sent the injured girls to a clinic, they would have been heavily fined for employing underaged workers, so instead they would direct the young girls to climb down into a ditch to fetch something for them, quickly removing the ladder then burying her alive!

        This in turn reminded me of David, a former aerospace engineer I went through military training with long ago. David, before being drafted, did reliability analysis on the F-4 Phanton jets for McDonnell-Douglas, and even before David and his fellow engineers received their layoff notices, their draft boards had been notified, and the very same day David received his layoff notice, his draftboard notice was awaiting him in his mailbox!

        Companies in America and China have routinely, over the past many years, laid off their regular employees, then hired them back as temps, without their previous health benefits, et cetera. And then there were those “Dead Peasants” policies of a few years ago, when corporations would take out insurance policies on unwitting employees. This was ended by congressional legislation, but awhile later, thanks to Dodd-Frank legislation, banks could now take out insurance policies on their employees, and thereupon appeared a cluster of suspicious banker deaths! [BOLI, or Bank-Owned Life Insurance]

  14. polecat

    Re. Weapons found/Gov McAuliffe …. because ol’ Terry & DEMCo. wouldn’t be beneath stashing weapons, rhetorical or otherwise, to be used against some deplorables ….. or even someburniebros/broetts !

    1. cocomaan

      VA state police denied both the claims about the weapons caches and the claims that the protesters were “better armed” than the police.


      Just another facet of the bizarre story.

      Said it before on here, but I feel like people on every side pre-positioned themselves in order to be self-righteous and smug about their positions, policies, and people. Find me a group that hasn’t used this Charlottesville SNAFU to push their politics and I’ll be really happy.

    2. VietnamVet

      Everything is being thrown against the wall to see what sticks. Contracted cosmopolitans are hell bent on finding a scapegoat other than their superiors for the unrest percolating in the little people. Endless wars and austerity are slashing through the fabric of western society:

      The one sure thing is global media moguls want to get rid of Donald Trump by any means possible. He is disrupting the looting.

      1. Huey Long

        TWU: Subway Suicides Being Stored in Break Rooms for Employees


        Thanks for posting this, and I recommend everybody check out the link.

        Apparently SOP for a subway suicide is to clear the body from the tracks and stash it in the nearest available room in the subway station which often ends up being the employee break room or bathroom.

        I for one can’t imagine walking into my break room and seeing a corpse laid out. This policy is reprehensible.

  15. PKMKII

    The Baffler article has an interesting point, that the, as they dubbed it, “alt-lite” pranksters who started the who thing for the lulz ended up unable to corral the movement from becoming the beast of today. Shows the limitation of that ambiguously ironic South Park Libertarianism. Play that, “this is a serious problem, but we’re not going to take finding a solution seriously because the cool kids are disaffected, but it is a problem” game long enough, eventually someone takes over who does have one. And it was on display in C’ville.

  16. Enquiring Mind

    China Intellectual Property transfer issues make me concerned. Should I no longer trust businesses that feel compelled or coerced to transfer their IP to China? What else are they transferring, and what else are Chinese, or others for that matter, just taking? A few years ago, there were news stories about industrial espionage, file transfers and assorted skullduggery.

    The breakdown in what may have been a naïve notion about good faith and fair dealing seems to be a bug and feature of modern life. Is there anyone to trust anymore?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      5,000 years of dominance in the world (as seen from the Middle Kingdom) distill itself into one simple lesson: dominance in any one area is not a zero-sum game.

  17. Sagebrush Country

    Interesting interview of a leader of white supremacists:


    I so wanted to be present during the numerous times he referred to the “commies”, so I could shout out, “you mean corporate commies?”

  18. Adam Eran

    It’s heartening to see a challenge to corporate D, Representative Ami Bera. He’s a guy who was gung ho for TPP, voted for the DARK act (Deny Americans the Right to Know whether their food is GMOs), and actually sponsored a “Budget Workshop” (i.e. push polling for austerity) put together by Pete Peterson’s Concord Coalition. I can’t think of anyone who more deserves to lose than Bera.

    1. RUKidding

      Agree!!! I live part time in Sacramento, but not in Bera’s district. The guy is worse than a dud. A real conservative in so-called “liberal” clothing, albeit he fits right in with today’s “Third Way” corporate suck up Democrats. Worse than worthless.

      Would love to see a credible challenger to Bera.

  19. JohnnyGL


    It’s like every story I see about Charlottesville is worse than the last.

    The complete absence of police intervention or even police presence is scandalous. These neo-nazi guys showed up with batons and riot shields ready for battle.

    I can’t even imagine what would have happened if BLM or Standing Rock protestors showed up fully equipped like this and marched in phalanx formations like Roman Legionnaires.

    1. DJPS

      Both sides™ showed up with weapons and shields etc. It’s been going on like that since the Berkeley episode where a few Anne Coulter fans got beaten up by an angry mob a while back. The next time they met, the right wingers showed up ready to fight (see the “based stick man” memes). Now they all seem to relish any opportunity to get together and the beat each other up with sticks. LARPers.

      It reminds me of the football hooligans in England in the early 80s. A lot of young people looking to let off steam with some “ultra-violence”. I cant understand how more people haven’t been shot, stabbed or killed at these events.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Both sides™ showed up with weapons and shields etc.

        OK, so the tactical level.

        It seems to me quite clear that the #UniteTheRight crowd were far more organized than the #heatherheyer crowd (as I’ll call them. For #UniteTheRight, we’re seeing the shield, made and brought to the site, lots of open-carry weaponry, white vans disgorging armed men, the surveillance of the synagogue, and of course the torches (purchased and brought to the site), as well as all the fascist iconography. We also have reports of #UniteTheRight giving quasi-military commands, though I don’t know if that’s serious or just cos-play. I don’t see anything like that from the #heatherheyer, who seemed a lot more random.

        I would also dearly love to know the demographics at play, here…

        1. fritter

          There were reports of vans loaded with people carrying weapons, but what about shots fired? I’ve met some hard core racists. They aren’t in to cos play. They are only into crazy. Maybe crazy doesn’t feel like stabbing people today, but its not going to let you hit it with a stick while it stands there armed.
          I don’t see how this isn’t the deep state making sure alternate voices are never heard by criminalizing speech.

        2. Huey Long


          The edge in training, logistics, arms, and organization clearly goes to the #unitetheright crowd. The #heatherheyer folks are a poorly organized mob by comparison.

          If there’s ever another revolution in this country it’s not going to be a leftist one, that’s for sure.

        3. cocomaan

          My problem with any of this is that news reporting on warzones is terrible. It’s all rumors. They call it the Fog of War for a reason.

          It would take us months, years even to figure out the nature of the girl’s death, a criminal case.

          Figuring out who was there to protest and who was there to fight is a losing game. What needs to happen is figuring out a way to get peace and reconciliation between the sides.

          1. DJPS

            There is a lot of live stream drone footage from the weekend and previous ‘meet ups’ on youtube. It’s quite plain to see there are 2 rival teams that are willingly coming together to knock seven bells out of each other Mods vs. Rockers style.

            1. Yves Smith

              This is false and I’m tired of people saying things that are false. And it is a violation of our written site Polices (see agnotology).

              I am not a fan of the antifa types but they did not carry guns, did not carry blugeons, and did not have shields. Only the white supremacists did.

              All the reports on their attacks says they did only:

              1. Throw cans

              2. Use pepper spray

              3. Throw rocks

              4. Throw bottles with urine

              5. One claim I have not seen elsewhere of throwing feces.

              That is nothing dimly approaching the damage you can do with guns and bludgeons. A black man was nearly beaten to death, or did you miss that? There was nothing approaching that from the antifa types. I took a course led by the guy who developed the hand to hand combat training for the Navy Seals. A bludgeon is a better weapon than a gun in close quarters.

              I am sick of these efforts at false equivalence. The antifa types were bad but nowhere near as bad as the neoNazis.

              And you need to produce your drone footage. I haven’t seen anything of the kind.

      2. Yves Smith

        I debunked your claims below. The level of arming of the white supremacists and the antifa types was not at all the same, and I’m tired of this false equivalence bs.

        The fact that both sides were violent does not make them equally bad. The white supremacists showed up heavily armed with implements that could maim and kill. The antifa types did NOT have that kind of weaponry. The only way they might have inflicted that sort of damage is if someone were to have thrown a rock in a way that it would have cracked someone’s skull open or blinded them. That is not very easy to do by merely throwing a rock, you would need a slingshot to get the acceleration.

        I do not support the antifa types but I also am opposed to misrepresentations and you are spreading them.

  20. Huey Long

    Democratic Socialists of America, Yay or Nay?

    Fellow NC’ers:

    At work today I was briefly discussing politics with some co-workers and they kept confusing my leftist pro-labor politics with “those damned liberals” of the Democratic Party who are big into idpol and social programs for “the worthy” as determined by gatekeepers.

    This happens often and got me thinking about how to better describe where I fall on the political spectrum because lately simply responding that “I’m on the left” just isn’t cutting it. Your average NY Post reader hears “left” and automatically thinks that equates to wanting to create safe spaces every where and protesting over who gets to pee in what restroom.

    I’ve been looking into the Democratic Socialists of America and although I’m not 100% with their platform, I’m with it enough to the point where I’m considering joining. I’d like to be able to introduce myself as a card carrying socialist, have a a platform I can point to, and thus be able to in an instant differentiate myself from the CNN/MSNBC crowd.

    I’m also looking to get more active politically, and I refuse to waste my time shilling for the NYC Dems, the local WFP, or the Greens who seem only to exist in presidential election years. If I’m going to spend my time and money protesting, getting signatures on petitions, stuffing envelopes, manning phone banks, etc. I don’t want to waste the effort in support of a crappy organization.

    Have any of you had any dealings with the DSA? Are they for real? What were your impressions?

    Any input from the commenteriat is welcome.

    1. cocomaan

      In my conversations I’ve never classified myself as anything. If someone asks where I fall on the political spectrum, I say, “I think we should abolish corporate limited liability, I believe in a positive militia interpretation of the second amendment, legal weed, and medicare for everyone. You tell me.”

      You definitely don’t want to start the conversation saying “left” or “right”.

      1. Huey Long

        FWIW, I usually claim I’m on the left only after being accused of being a liberal, although I’m regularly accused of being a communist too ;-).

        Like you, I normally answer with policy positions when questioned about where I fall on the political spectrum and plan on adding your “you tell me” quip to my repertoire. Thanks!

        1. cocomaan

          Hopefully it helps! But hey, with a handle like Huey Long, you’re coming by the socialist tendencies honestly.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          For me, this is what I say first:

          “Everyone put their phone in the microwave.”

          Then, the conversation begins.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      First, on “left.” My definition of “left” is that it puts the working class first* when considering policy. Very simple.

      Note that neither liberals nor conservatives do that. They are both put markets first, because they neoliberals (although different flavors thereof).

      Operationally I consider putting the working class first to mean universal concrete material benefits (that is, not a so-called “safety net,” because life should not be a tightrope, but a decent life for everyone).

      Note that I’m putting requirements first (the benefits). I think a lot of activists put theory first (fill in ____ism here). If capitalism can deliver on the benefits, then so be it. If socialism can deliver on the benefits, so be it. Of course, we can have discussion about those possibilities, but I really do think we need to put the material requirements of the 80% first, and not our idea (he said, being full both of ideas and himself).

      Second, on DSA. All I know is what I hear on the Twitter and hear on podcasts:

      1) Somebody out there is doing really good organizing, because of the membership growth.

      2) The pictures of meetings I see show a good diversity of ages and colors (can’t tell on class). They’re always people sitting in libaries or meeting halls, as opposed to gesticulating with fists and signage.

      3) DSA Twitter personalites are good-humored and funny

      4) DSA is a membership organization, so there’s some hope they’ll be responsive to their members, unlike the Dems.

      5) They are not a political party, though they may endorse candidates

      6) Recent convention didn’t collapse or flame out, a good sign

      7) One problem, potentially, is that the Convention elected one board member who had done some organizing for a police union in Texas (CLEAT). Many members, I think the younger ones, want him thrown off the board. This has not yet been resolved, and ever alert as I am to signs of organizational dysfunction, that worries me.

      I think their biggest problem is their biggest opportunity: A wave of new members, primarily inspired by Sanders, who may not be very clear on their politics. That makes them vulnerable to the blandishments of liberals.

      I’m not going to say anything about DSA ideology because I know very little, (However, the history of the left in the US shows a tangled history that makes the Protestant tendency to split into sects look monolithic.)

      Hope this helps.

      * In other words, I explicitly rule out “identity politics,” at least as practiced by liberals.

      1. Uahsenaa

        2) The pictures of meetings I see show a good diversity of ages and colors (can’t tell on class). They’re always people sitting in libaries or meeting halls, as opposed to gesticulating with fists and signage.

        We do plenty of gesticulating as well.

        7) One problem, potentially, is that the Convention elected one board member who had done some organizing for a police union in Texas (CLEAT). Many members, I think the younger ones, want him thrown off the board. This has not yet been resolved, and ever alert as I am to signs of organizational dysfunction, that worries me.

        The issue was not that he did organizing for a police union but that he went out his way to actively conceal that fact. At any rate, there is no mechanism for ouster, and every take on it I’ve read from members has asked him to step down.

        In our chapter I can’t say anyone has ever been fuzzy about the politics. The problem we tend to have is a communications strategy that prioritizes social media over ordinary canvassing, and as such misses a large swath of potential members.

        1. Rhondda

          Since you said “we” — I would like to ask…were DSA folk part of the violent antifa crowd in Cville? I have read that, but it could be slanderous lies, as so much is these days. I also was interested in DSA but the idea that they had embraced violence turned me off. Thank you for anything you — or anyone in the commentariat — may know about this.

          1. nowhere

            It could also be possible that DSA members were forming lines/groups next to, around, in front of, behind other people that were fighting. Or that maybe a DSA member was hit with a baton and then began attacking the baton holder. Who knows!

            Much like the NATO summit in Chicago, there were many, many protesters, through which people using Black Bloc tactics streamed to directly engage with the police. Some groups happily proclaim to use violence, I don’t think the DSA does.

            My $0.02.

          2. Uahsenaa

            I can’t speak for the organization as a whole, though generally we are of a nonviolent sort. That said, because I don’t want to make it seem like I’m trying to be sanctimonious, Anti-fa were the ones actually standing between protestors and the militias, protecting clergy and other committed nonviolent protestors from the people who were quite literally carrying guns. I wasn’t there myself (I’m in Iowa), but comrades I know and trust were, and I know them to be entirely upright individuals.

    3. sgt_doom

      DSA is the way to go! It is the future!

      The Green Party is simply a waste of time at this point; Jill Stein’s behavior in the aftermath of the election was quite confusing although the best strategy would have been to elect Winona LaDuke as their presidential candidate, but that is now past!

      The faux crats, or Democratic Party, is history . . .

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The D party that defended slavery is still alive and kicking today.

        So is the personhood corporation that made blood money in the Second World War. It lives among us.

        But no, we till our lances at some long dead ghosts.

    4. Uahsenaa

      It’s heavily dependent on the chapter, and there may not be one in your area.

      As a DSA member myself, I would say go to a meeting or two (you don’t need to be a member to go, though you do if you want to vote on resolutions), talk to people, get a sense of what projects they’re working on at that moment (mine for instance, is working on getting local businesses to commit publicly to a higher wage floor, since our state legislature annulled all local minimum wage increases), and see how you want to get involved. In my experience, DSA are very focused on canvassing and advocating for specific issues as they come, while also lending manpower and support to local labor and civil rights causes.

      My experiences have been quite positive, but like I said, it’s very dependent upon what each local chapter is actively working on to determine whether and to what extent you want to be involved.


    5. Neo The Neo-Neo

      Don’t forget to sprinkle in the word neo-liberal into the conversation when taking to your friends at work. That will clear ALL the confusion from their minds.

  21. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Charlottesville

    I wonder if there is any relationship between the great increases in the U.S. prison population and white nationalism. Specifically, members of the Aryan Brotherhood. Those that I have met (and knew what I was meeting) are intently racist. Anyone?

    1. Huey Long

      Hmmm, after briefly pondering this and doing some web searches I’m not sure if there’s an easy way to quantify Aryan Brotherhood membership over time so that it may be compared with the prison population over time to see if they correlate.

      That being said, I do think your theory has merit. More folks in prison means more prison gang members and the Aryan Brotherhood after all is a prison gang.

    2. Livius Drusus

      From what I understand the Aryan Brotherhood is more interested in criminal activities than politics. The AB was originally created to protect white inmates in prison but despite the neo-Nazi iconography the AB seems to be more about criminal activity like drug dealing than politics. For example, the AB is allied to the Mexican Mafia. White nationalists have mixed opinions about the Aryan Brotherhood. Many do not like the AB.

      See: https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/white-supremacists-think-aryan-brotherhood-gang-race-traitors/316583/

      That being said, I would not be surprised if some whites were radicalized in prison and maybe that includes being in the Aryan Brotherhood. But the AB as an organization seems to be more about organized crime than politics.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Perhaps here too, money conquers all.

        Fortunately, money can also be used for good…used to end slavery (should it reincarnates again) or give birth to Single Payer.

  22. Summer

    The Bezzle: “The Seattle-based company launched a service Tuesday that lets Prime members in five cities pick up things like snacks, cold drinks or phone chargers within two minutes of ordering them online. Customers need to head over to an Amazon location to collect their order” [Bloomberg]. Wait, I think there’s a word for that… “Store”?



    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know what they say, but that’s also my belief, for I see it this way – You can’t hope to change them this way.

      Even if you silence them, what happens to treatments for bad dreams deferred?

      I also believe it’s better to let people speak up. At least you can track them.

      If they go underground, well, you might see bigger and worse problems later.

      So, I am also against shutting down their websites.

    2. EGrise

      Getting people fired for their political beliefs is both wrong and bad.

      But I understand why it’s happening, at least from the vantage point of people I know on the lefty side of the internet: frustration over the lack of action or even response from the police.

      Pull down a statue? Those cops put out a dragnet like the lady had shot the president (I’m sure her skin color had nothing to do with it).

      But beat people in broad daylight, on camera, in front of dozens of witnesses including police officers? Why, not even Sherlock Holmes himself could figure out the identities of the perpetrators, so there’s just nothing the poor outnumbered and outgunned police could do (wink wink) — at least that’s how it appears to many. So sympathizers take the law into their own hands.

      The scale of investigation into the identities of some of the alt-right bullies is greater/more ferocious than previous doxxing witch-hunts in my experience. Doxxing culture, as pernicious and corrosive as it is, is part of online culture now so it’s inevitable that it would happen to some extent. But this time I think the feckless authorities get a very big share of the blame.

  23. dontknowitall

    Let me take a moment to point out the obvious juxtaposition of the NAFTA re-negotiations starting this Wednesday and the giant orgasm of extreme right and left id politics in Charlottesville that coincidently allows many of the CEOs in the president’s advisory board as well as his economic advisor to resign in TV worthy shows of virtue signalling. It is like just a giant coincidence that leaves the president further weakened and isolated just as he goes near one of his signature electoral promises. I can’t believe it is coincidental that it happened the way it did, and it is meant to force us all to take the eye off the ball as neoliberal forces try to kill needed NAFTA reforms or reimagine them as TTP in sheep clothing.

  24. KTN

    The NAFTA documents cannot be classified because the corporate reps who can read them would all need security clearances to do so. One million people may have clearances in the US, but those are mostly high school dropouts, not corporate lawyers.

    The documents are merely being withheld from the public.

  25. Mike

    Re: [Payday Report]. “Nissan denied allegations that they promoted temps to counter the union election.” I’m not sure why this election was even called, given the numbers. To make a point?

    It seems to me that the union movement, especially the Auto Workers, who have nothing to show for their last 40 years of existence, desperately need to raise their heads every once in a while and have a vote drive for locals that have little to no chance if “standard” union organizing rules the day. This was another example of unions playing their CIA-supported card and doing their best to lose – 2 to 1 vote against covers the temps and thensome. Another example of why real unionists need to examine whether it is best for them to leave this non-movement, or remain and fight it to death. Either way, a new and “cleansed” movement unfettered by this sordid past must rise, or organized labor must succumb to the corporate victory that is inevitable if this continues.

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