2:00PM Water Cooler 8/3/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Trade

“TSDS Bridges Writing Competition” [Trade and Sustainable Development Symposium]. Prize money and publication. Why not give it a go? (You need to be 18+ and enrolled in a degree program at an accredited university.)

“If President Donald Trump moves forward Friday with launching an investigation into Chinese industrial policies surrounding forced technology transfer, it wouldn’t launch a global trade war right of the bat. It would, however, broadcast to Beijing that the United States is not afraid to limit imports or block Chinese investment — and it tarnishes Chinese President Xi Jinping’s preferred portrayal of China as a champion of the rules-based international system” [Politico]. Note that ” the rules-based international system” is what The Blob deeply believes it has created, lunatic though that seems to anyone outside its bubble. This belief also shades over into the liberal Democrat yapping about “norms.” In each case, of course, the rules-makers are also, at whim, rules-breakers. Because what’s the point of being a rules-maker otherwise?

“The U.S. may already be set on a collision course with its southern neighbor ahead of the upcoming renegotiation of NAFTA, after the first official glimpse of Mexico’s negotiating goals this week shows a government focused on using the talks to further bolster the country’s production and export platforms” [Politico]. From Adam: “Those conflicting views are balanced by the fact that many of the objectives laid out by [Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso] Guajardo square with what the U.S. wants out of a deal. But some of Mexico’s priorities could be anathema to the Trump administration’s ‘America First’ agenda, including demands for easing movement of workers across the border, ensuring opportunities for Mexican firms in U.S. government procurement and defending a NAFTA dispute settlement process that the U.S. has been clear it wants to jettison.” NAFTA dispute settlement is Chapter 19. Canada likes it, too.

“[The seven-step trade plan that Senate Democrats outlined on Wednesday] calls for the creation of an American Jobs Security Council, a panel that could block foreign purchases of U.S. companies for economic security reasons — similar to the way the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States can block sales on the basis of national security” [Politico]. This feels kludgey and Ptolemaic, like Schumer’s “Competition Advocate”; another epicycle added onto a complex, rickety, and rapidly self-delegitimating system.

Politics

2020

“Why leftists don’t trust Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Deval Patrick” [The Week]. “The contest for control of the Democratic Party between left and center is continuing apace. The latest battleground is over a handful of minority Democrats being groomed by the centrist establishment to run for office: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and former Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick.” I don’t get this. Take Booker and Patrick — please! Booker was “nauseated” when Obama gave Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital the gentlest of love tops, and Patrick actually works there. Support for private equity weasels is by no means a “minority” position among “Democrats.” So what’s the issue, here? (Patrick, Harris, Booker: So similar they need an acronym. “PHooker”?)

2018

UPDATE “Officials in President Donald Trump’s administration frequently talk about getting annual economic growth in the United States back above 3%. But they are doing more than just talking about it; their proposed budget actually assumes that they will succeed” [Simon Johnson, Project Syndicate]. “Unfortunately, left to its own devices, the economy will most likely continue to sputter. And the policies that Trump’s Republican Party has proposed – for health care, taxes, and deregulation – will not make much difference.” And jiggering the numbers may help with the 10% on up, but I believe that the voters who flipped from Obama to Trump in 2016 will cheerfully throw Trump over the side if he doesn’t deliver, based on the material circumstances they see around them. And the voters who stayed home won’t come out. Whether that translates to a “wave” election remains to be seen.

Health Care

“Capitol Shocker: Democrats and Republicans Start Working Together on Health Care” [Editorial Board, New York Times]. No mention of single payer or Medicare for All. That’s odd.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Finding Common Ground, Despite Ideological Divides” [New York Times]. Re Trump’s Election Commission: “Whatever brings them there, this disparate group is sitting at the same table, and they are sitting there under a banner of states’ rights. Can this be Donald Trump’s one positive accomplishment?” I’m so old I remember when “States’ Rights” was anathema to liberal Democrats. It’s hard to keep up!

“Donald Trump drowns out Democrats’ populist pitch” [Financial Times]. “Better Dealers” dealt themselves a losing hand? Say it’s not so!

UPDATE “As for disturbing news out of Washington, [Donald Luskin of Trend Macrolytics] sees Mr. Trump at the center of ‘an ecosystem self-perpetuated by the lust for power by politicians on both sides of the aisle, and the lust for audience by the media both liberal and conservative. The apex predator in this ecosystem is Trump, who controls it all by following Roger Stone’s rule that it is better to be infamous than not to be famous at all. That’s not a recipe for clarity'” [Wall Street Journal].

UPDATE “Trump and the Fate of the Administrative State” [RealClearPolitics]. “Will Trump succeed in rebuilding the democratic politics Marini believes has been dismantled by the rise of the administrative state? He is not especially optimistic, in part because even Trump’s own party has proved reluctant to abandon the status quo, despite the outcome of last year’s election. More fundamentally, [John Marini, a senior fellow of the Claremont Institute [ugh] and professor of political science at the University of Nevada-Reno] points out, to offer a viable alternative to the administrative state, we must not only reinvigorate our constitutional system — with its separation of powers — but also revitalize the democratic culture and therewith the civil society needed to sustain it. ‘You have to really begin the process of reestablishing a ground of authority that is different than rational authority’ — different from Hegel’s centralized ‘rational rule’ — and ‘that’s very hard to do when you’ve destroyed the civil associations that were established on the older authority.'”

“Why Trump’s Base of Support May Be Smaller Than It Seems” [New York Times]. Essentially, polls that track Trump support among those who identify as Republicans will miss voters driven from the party by Trump.

Stats Watch

Lambert here: Bit of a pantry clearout on The Bezzle today, since the noise of electoral politics has died down a little.

Factory Orders, June 2017: “Factory orders surged 3.0 percent in June but were skewed higher by a more than doubling in monthly aircraft orders” [Econoday]. “Excluding transportation equipment, a reading that excludes aircraft, orders actually fell.” But: “This is not inflation adjusted and still well below the highs of the last cycle and below the 2014 highs” [Mosler Economics].

Purchasing Managers’ Services Index, July 2017: “Markit’s U.S. service sample is reporting increasingly solid conditions” [Econoday]. “The best news in the report comes from new orders, rising at a 2-year high, and employment which is at its best pace so far this year. Especially helping employment is a build underway in backlog orders. Optimism on the outlook is another a positive in this report, one that hints at a healthy second-half for the economy.”

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, July 2017: “Slowing is the call from ISM’s non-manufacturing sample where July results show their least strength since August last year” [Econoday]. “Yet the July edition is a surprise for this report which is usually very consistent with the headline composite in the high to mid 50s and new orders and business activity in the low 60s. The contrast with this morning’s PMI services report is noticeable, one slowing and one accelerating, but the story of the two samples together is positive: moderate growth for the bulk of the economy.” And: “significantly below consensus forecasts of a small decline” [Economic Calendar]. And: “Both services surveys are modestly in expansion – but the trends are different” [Econintersect]. And but: “Less than expected as trumped up expectations fade further” [Mosler Economics]. And: “This suggests slower expansion in July than in June” [Calculated Risk].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of July 30, 2017: “[T]he best reading since June. Strength in consumer confidence points to strength in the labor market” [Econoday].

Gallup Good Jobs Rate, July 2017: “The Gallup Good Jobs (GGJ) rate rose nearly a percentage point to 47.0 percent in July, from 46.3 percent in June. The GGJ rate now ties the highest point for the measure since 2010” [Econoday]. “This is the last report of the good jobs rate. Gallop will no longer be producing it going forward.” Weird, with surveys continually being contradicted by data, that Gallup, of all people, is getting out of the survey business.

Challenger Job-Cut Report, July 2017: “Layoff announcements are down in what is a positive signal for tomorrow’s July employment report” [Econoday]. “Retail once again had the heaviest number of layoff announcements.”

Jobless Claims, week of July 29, 2017: “Summer retooling in the auto industry hasn’t been skewing jobless claims where levels are steady at historic lows” [Econoday]. Surely it should have? What am I missing here?

Chain Store Sales, July 2017: “Chain stores are reporting mixed sales rates in July compared to June in what is a flat indication for the July retail sales report. The results are similar to Tuesday’s unit vehicle sales” [Econoday]. “Retail sales have been flat all year, posting declines of 0.2 and 0.1 percent in June and May.”

Commodities: “Mining companies have hit the mother lode of a critical commodity—rich veins of cash. Anglo-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto PLC saw a big boost in net profit in the first half of the year to $3.3 billion, the WSJ’s Robb M. Stewart reports, a strong reflection of an industry rebound that has gained momentum, benefiting from a recovery in prices of commodities including iron ore and coal as well as efforts to slash costs” [Wall Street Journal].

Supply Chain: “Several major clothing shippers including Levi’s, Esprit, Next and Marks and Spencer have joined a campaign to help end the alleged exploitation of dockworkers at Madagascar’s Port of Toamasina, which is operated by a subsidiary of the international container terminal operator ICTSI” [Lloyd’s Loading List].

The Bezzle: “Warriors to require 30-year commitment for season tickets” [Reuters]. It’s fine. San Francisco is located on high ground.

The Bezzle: “According to a new poll by Morning Consult and Money Magazine, 49% of respondents who canceled a meal kit service cited the cost (starting at $8.99 per serving on Blue Apron) as the biggest reason for their cancellation. Additionally, cost was the biggest issue for 59% of respondents who have never tried a meal kit service” [Business Insider]. “The leading meal kit delivery service is losing money on roughly 70% of the customers it attracts, according to analysis by Daniel McCarthy, an assistant professor of marketing at Emory University.”

The Bezzle: From The Department Of You Can’t Eat Soup With A Fork:

The Bezzle: “Funding for Fintech Startups Poised to Hit a Record in 2017” [Bloomberg]. “Financial technology startups are on pace to see funding reach a record as insurance, wealth management, lending and blockchain-related companies attract new dollars…. Some of the sectors seeing the biggest share of dollars were blockchain and bitcoin startups, which saw funding grow 100 percent on a quarterly basis, while bitcoin and other crypto currencies continue to generate new headlines with volatile price movements. Other winners were insurance and wealth management related startups, which each saw funding rise by more than 200 percent.” All these sectors are, of course, extremely fraud- and prosecution-free IRL, and I’m sure we can expect that to continue as tech works out the skim and the vig becomes involved.

The Bezzle: “Billionaire investor Marks, who called the dotcom bubble, says bitcoin is a ‘pyramid scheme'” [CNBC]. “‘In my view, digital currencies are nothing but an unfounded fad (or perhaps even a pyramid scheme), based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it,’ Marks wrote in the investor letter Wednesday.” Two competing theories of value, there.

The Bezzle: “Libor: A Eulogy for the World’s Most Important Number” [Wall Street Journal]. “Libor started out as a symbol of the clubby and arguably incestuous world of London banking in the 1970s and ’80s. Libor was based on something resembling an honor system.” In other words, Libor enabled a phishing equilibrium. Personal note: How well I remember — what’s the Swedish for ersatz? — Nobel Prize Winner Paul Krugman explaining the importance of the TED spread in 2008: “The TED spread is the difference between the interest rate banks charge each other on 3-month loans (3-month LIBOR) and the interest rate on 3-month U.S. Treasury bills. It’s a measure of financial jitters.” Then I started reading Naked Capitalism, and came to understand that the LIBOR part of the TED spread was outright fraud. It seemed, then, quite remarkable to me that Krugman could have been unaware of this (or had not expressed his awareness). Not that I’m bitter.

The Bezzle: “Tesla is a large public company, and Elon Musk must start acting like it” [MarketWatch]. “‘When we make mistakes, it is because we are stupid, not because we are trying to mislead anyone,’ Musk said, when asked if he could predict capital spending in the next two quarters as the company ramps up its volume manufacturing of the Model 3.” And:

Musk told reporters that Tesla had 500,000 reservations for the Model 3, an important figure that investors, journalists and analysts had been clamoring for an update on since Tesla originally announced 373,000 reservations more than a year before.

Musk admitted Wednesday that statement was inaccurate, explaining that Tesla had received 518,000 total reservations for the car, but that current net reservations stand at 455,000, due to cancellations.

“I don’t think it really has much materiality,” Musk said of the number.

Materiality is not for Musk to decide, however. It is up to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

No problem there, then.

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s battery tech director has left the company as Model 3 enters ‘production hell’ (TSLA)” [Business Insider]. That seems odd.

The Bezzle: “[A] photo taken by VICE of a recent arrest in Brooklyn appears to indicate law enforcement has done more than come to terms with the existence of Uber—and may in fact be using the company’s logo as a disguise for undercover work” [Vice].

The Bezzle: “Facebook shuts down AI after it invents its own creepy language” [Daily Dot]. This headline is the idea that propagated, but the lead is buried, and it’s not a technical issue. Here it is:

[Facebook] then made another fascinating discovery after it got the two dialog bots speaking normally. Looking to go beyond simple imitation, researchers wanted to see if the bots could learn how to negotiate. They did so by testing them online in conversations with real people. Facebook says most people didn’t even realize they were speaking to a bot, and the best bot negotiator was as good or better than a human.

In other words, if you’re a human, never ever negotiate with a chatbot. (Of course, if you’re up the income scale enough, you could — business model! — subscribe to your own bot negotiation app, one that had — one presumes — your own interests at, er, its heart.)

Concentration: “‘This handful of companies [Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook] is writing the operating system for the new economy,’ said Brad Slingerlend, lead portfolio manager of Janus Henderson’s global technology fund. ‘The bigger companies are both able to collect data and use that data to build into adjacent businesses'” [The New York Times]. Ugh. Economies don’t have operating systems (unless they’re centrally planned….) so this is a horrid category error. I hear wild rumors that the Times Business section is moving from “light touch” journalism to outright reach-arounds, and articles like this confirm me in my priors.

Concentration: “In its report, AlixPartners noted how ‘whether it is making an acquisition, striking a big trade deal with a major brand, or introducing a new product or service, Amazon will never stop innovating or taking risks. Amazon’s assortment and growing list of offerings continue to attract new customers, and its massive infrastructure helps it execute with speed and precision. And we can complain about the financial ‘pass’ it’s getting all we want, but that’s not going to change. Investors are betting on an Amazon future, and customers now expect the services that Amazon pioneered from all their retailers, not just Amazon'” [Logistics Management]. TINA. And therefore, a candidate for Political Risk as well.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 61 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Aug 3 at 1:14pm. Drifting down toward normality. So time to panic?

Health Care

“US health care debacle makes local man proud of system that’s unaffordable for 10% of Canadians” [The Beaverton (EdL)]. “At press time, Canada was also patting itself on the back for selling slightly fewer weapons to Saudi Arabia than the US.” If the United States had a mediocre health system, millions of people would scream with joy…

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“In China, internet censors are accidentally helping revive an invented ‘Martian’ language” [Quartz]. This is fascinating:

Martian dates back to at least 2004 but its origins are mysterious. Its use appears to have begun among young people in Taiwan for online chatting, and then it spread to the mainland. The characters randomly combine, split, and rebuild traditional Chinese characters, Japanese characters, pinyin, and sometimes English and kaomoji, a mixture of symbols that conveys an emotion (e.g. O(_)O: Happy). … Internet censorship works by filtering information for sensitive keywords. Research by Citizen Lab’s Jason Q. Ng shows that a Weibo post will first be reviewed by a machine and flagged if it contains certain keywords that are blacklisted. Human censors also review published posts. Using Martian can prolong the longevity of a post. “If the Martian language [versions] of certain keywords are not on the blacklist already, it can be used to bypass censorship until a human reviewer censors it,” she said… Still, as China’s sensitive-terms blacklist gets refined, Martian language may become less helpful. Also Chinese Martian users trying to evade censorship shouldn’t ignore the possibility that, like them, people working in internet censorship groups might once have been Martian-speaking teens too.

Hopefully, Stasi-like censorship in the United States won’t become so ubiquitous and effective that we have to publish NC in Martian!

Another contribution:

“Fighting Words With the Unabomber” [JSTOR Daily]. “I’;s thanks to the quirky use of idioms, oddly-placed punctuation, vocal tics, and certain other idiolectal, dialectal and stylistic markers, that anonymous speakers and authors have often been identified. Linguistic evidence left behind in wire taps, ransom notes, texts, tweets, and emails, (and even pet parrots!) has sometimes led to major breakthroughs and even the resolution of many famous cases. Just like DNA analysis, however, these linguistic markers have to be used cautiously in a forensic context.”

Class Warfare

“Infinite Peepshow” [Logic]. (The print version also includes “The Mother of all Swipes” by Marie Hicks. “A working-class woman from East London invented computer dating more than half a century ago. Fascinating!)

“The Decline of the American Laundromat” [The Atlantic]. Gentrification.

“How Socialists Can Fight for Single Payer” [Jacobin].

News of the Wired

“We have unrealistic expectations of a tech-driven future utopia” [Recode]. No, “we” don’t. I find the Jackpot perfectly plausible.

“Opioid Prescriptions Across The U.S.” [FiveThirtyEight]. Handy map.

“Food writer Hollister Moore, 69, king of street food” [Philadelphia Inquirer].

“How a small town in Iowa is saving their school with theater” [Des Moines Register]. Alert reader TM sent in this link, and this description of the project:

[Y]ou asked about readers’ pet projects a few weeks ago and we’re mighty proud of this one.

Local economic development council (EDC) wanted school district to pay a demolition company $200k+ to tear down old school building, then EDC would pay school district $50k for land, and would then turn around and sell land to local builder for housing lots. Typical “public-private partnership”…

We opposed by going grassroots, appealing to the broader community for 2 years’ worth of operating capital–about $50k–in order to try some things out to see if there was a sustainable route forward for one of the few remaining historic structures in town–and one close to everyone’s hearts. We raised the money in about 2 weeks, drawing on over 100 alumni from 10 states.

A few months later we’re in the midst of a highly successful summerstock theater program with actors and crew from across the country. Youth dance company and youth wrestlers are renting space in the building, we’ve a community art showroom and in process of setting up variety of art classes and an after school program.

There’s life out in the colonies, yet!

Today’s plant is another project, albeit on a smaller scale. More like this please!

“We’re Still Here” [Power of Narrative]. I would love to hear what Arthur Silber has to say about Trump. Also, his cat is better.

* * *

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 (EdL):

A pawpaw tree. EdL writes:

Pawpaws are supposed to be the only edible fruit bearing trees from North America. I helped plant these two a couple years ago at Black Creek Community Farm here in Toronto and you can see how much they prefer the shade – probably because indigenous people domesticated it from a tree that grew in a forest canopy. It takes 8 to 10 years before they start bearing fruit so I won’t be able to taste any for a while.

Oddly, Silicon Valley stupid money is going into projects like Juicero and grilled cheese chains. You’d think they’d want to monetize edible forests. Apparently not.

* * *

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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.

100 comments

  1. Synoia

    Amazon’s assortment and growing list of offerings continue to attract new customers, and its massive infrastructure helps it execute with speed and precision.

    Perhaps we should have Amazon take over the DoD.

    1. jo6pac

      Sounds about right until I remember how cozy he is with the more dangerous branch’s of govt. He would just become richer.

    2. Marco

      The “List of offerings” for AWS (Amazon Web Services) is only growing. I had recent job interview (Healthcare IT firm) where their technology stack was pure Microsoft. They are in the process of ditching Microsoft’s cloud services “Azure” in favor of AWS because MS can’t compete on cost, or (hate to say) quality and range of services. Amazon also investing heavily in making it very easy for MS/.NET developers to target the AWS API with Microsoft dev tools. Time to split Bezos Frankenstein monster into little pieces.

    3. ABasLesAristocrates

      They’re already running Homeland Security’s sigint program, so it’s not that much of a stretch.

    4. beth

      At Costco this morning they had an employee giving me a coupon to encourage me also shop on line. We’ll see,but they have a better chance than Target who is also trying with store pickup. The Target manager sent a survey that allowed me to rate them. The store service was good but the software needs to be improved.

  2. visitor

    Facebook says most people didn’t even realize they were speaking to a bot, and the best bot negotiator was as good or better than a human.

    A serious contender for winning the Turing test.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Facebook says most people didn’t even realize they were speaking to a bot.”

      It seems like this will be the slogan of Zuck 2020.

    2. Synoia

      So that’s what’s sending out Trump’s tweets. I though there was some intelligence behind the tweets somewhere, and I’m correct.

  3. nick

    Lambert, I’ve seen you use “the Jackpot” at least twice now in the water cooler. What exactly are you talking about?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The Jackpot idea comes from William Gibson. Quoting this review of a Gibson book:

      (We’ve previously quoted this very evocative passage at NC; it occurs on page 320 in my copy. Here Wilf (from the future) speaks with Flynn (from the past):

      [The Jackpot] was androgenic, [Wilf] said, and [Flynn] knew from Ciencia Loca and National Geographic that meant because of people. Not that they’d known what they were doing, had meant to make problems, but they’d caused it anyway. And in fact the actual climate, the weather, caused by there being too much carbon, had been the driver for a lot of other things. How that got worse and never better, and was just expected to, ongoing. Because people in the past, clueless as to how that worked, had fucked it all up, then not been able to get it together to do anything about it, even after they knew, and now it was too late.

      So now, in her day, he said, they were headed into androgenic, systemic, multiplex, seriously bad sh*t, like she sort of already knew, figured everybody did, except for people who still said it wasn’t happening, and those people were mostly expecting the Second Coming anyway. She’d looked across the silver lawn, that Leon had cut with the push-mower whose cast-iron frame was held together with actual baling wire, to where moon shadows lay, past stunted boxwoods and the stump of a concrete birdbath they’d pretened was a dragon’s castle, while Wilf told her [the Jackpot] killed 80 percent of every last person alive, over about forty years. ….

      No comets crashing, nothing you could really call a nuclear war. Just everything else, tangled in the changing climate: droughts, water shortages, crop failures, honeybees gone like they almost were now, collapse of other keystone species, every last alpha predator gone, antibiotics doing even less than they already did, diseases that were never quite the one big pandemic but big enough to be historic events in themselves. And all of it around people: how people were, how many of them there were, how they’d changed things just by being there. ….

      But science, he said, had been the wild card, the twist. With everything stumbling deeper into a ditch of sh*t, history itself become a slaughterhouse, science had started popping. Not all at once, no one big heroic thing, but there were cleaner, cheaper energy sources, more effective ways to get carbon out of the air, new drugs that did what antibiotics had done before…. Ways to print food that required much less in the way of actual food to begin with. So everything, however deeply fucked in general, was lit increasingly by the new, by things that made people blink and sit up, but then the rest of it would just go on, deeper into the ditch. A progress accompanied by constant violence, he said, by sufferings unimaginable. ….

      None of that, he said, had necessarily been as bad for very rich people. The richest had gotten richer, there being fewer to own whatever there was. Constant crisis bad provided constant opportunity. That was where his world had come from, he said. At the deepest point of everything going to sh*t, population radically reduced, the survivors saw less carbon being dumped into the system, with what was still being produced being eaten by those towers they’d built… And seeing that, for them, the survivors, was like seeing the bullet dodged..

      “The bullet was the eighty percent, who died?”

      And now for the (un)depicted past: When I read “killed 80 percent of every last person alive,” I look for a contemporary analogue, a precursor to the super-genocide that the Jackpot was or will be, and it’s not hard to find: Falling life expectancy as shown by the Case-Deaton study (excellent discussion of methodology with Anne Case here).

      1. John k

        So silver lining is tech…
        but is 20% low enough to be sustainable? After climate change? And 20% of what? What it is now, or the 2030 projection of 10b+?
        Maybe she was right, we need a limited war with Russia, or Russia plus china… remember the elite promise it won’t get out of hand anyway, oppose will fold.
        Funny thing, elites live in the major target cities… nukes would just flyover the Midwest…
        The 20% remaining would certainly have learned their lessons regarding climate, reproduction, and getting along with other cultures…

        The biggest cause of climate change and other issues isn’t internal combustion but too many people.

        1. clinical wasteman

          Or to put it another way: is 20% enough to make survival worth it? Count me in for the receiving end of nuclear first strike or any other quick way to go if the alternative is learning lessons in a fortified pre-feudal village.

          Meanwhile, I wonder how 7, 8 or 10 billion people might go about causing general atmospheric meltdown without the help of fossil-fuelled capitalism. Or how there could be so many of us in the first place without that same triple-edged “help”.

          When the list of the expendable 80% is ready, please be sure to let us know.

      2. Synoia

        Falling life expectancy as shown by the Case-Deaton study

        If you are correct that is the start of a very steep “s” curve.

  4. Synoia

    Infinite Peepshow” [Logic]. (The print version also includes “The Mother of all Swipes” by Marie Hicks. “A working-class woman from East London…

    East London, South Africa, or London’s East End?

    I’ve not heard of the East End being called East London, but times change.

      1. Clive

        Usually more often labelled by us locals as “getting on for Essex way”, it is a distinct area and the naming convention has grown up as a result of the better-known “East End” largely ceasing to exist in the form that it did 20-30 years ago. We needed something to properly distinguish “getting on for Essex way” (East London) from the old traditional East End.

        Briefly comprising boroughs like Dartford, Walthamstow, Stratford and the western edges of the county of Essex, “getting on for Essex way” is a rather nondescript monotony of formerly inexpensive commuter belt. I’d liken it to NYC’s Queens but at the risk my knowledge of New York is a little out of date.

        Prices have risen startlingly in the last 5 years, so it is not nearly so affordable as it once was but it does still have a generally down market and looked-down-upon nuance.

        Did I mention how class-conscious Londoners are?

  5. Vatch

    (Patrick, Harris, Booker: So similar they need an acronym. “PHooker”?)

    How would this be pronounced? It could be three syllables, but it could also be a rather naughty two syllables.

  6. paul

    Big Brother/News of the wired:

    WannaCry kill-switch hero Marcus Hutchins collared by FBI on way home from DEF CON

    (Maybe he messed up someone’s fundraiser?)

    Looked at the foreign office advice for visiting Iran this morning:


    Using a laptop or other electronic equipment in public places can be misinterpreted, especially if it contains photographs. You may be arrested and detained on serious criminal charges, including espionage. It’s better to ask before taking photographs of people.
    ……………………………….
    The Iranian legal system differs in many ways from the UK. Suspects can be held without charge and aren’t always allowed quick access to legal representation.
    ………………………………
    British business people travelling to Iran should take appropriate steps to protect commercially sensitive information (including password protection of electronic devices (minimum 4 digits) and not taking unnecessary information with you).

    No such advice for the US, though you are warned they take a dim view of recreational drugs

    1. jo6pac

      Thanks and if I didn’t have my new tin-foil-hat on I might just think someone (Amerikan govt. 3 letter types) is mad at him for stopping it to soon.

  7. JohnnyGL

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4DE9fnPqpA

    Booker’s proposed marijuana law, while a good thing, is probably being pushed to lay the groundwork for future big pharma acquisitions in this space.

    This is what monopolies/cartels do, they don’t do risky investments in their ‘ideas’ when they’ve got so much money that they can just buy anything that might offer some kind of future pay out. Especially true with their ability to issue equity capital so cheaply (because of high stock market valuations).

    1. Jim Haygood

      Handwriting’s on the wall:

      GW Pharmaceuticals’ latest product, Epidiolex, contains pharmaceutical cannabidiol designed to treat various types of pediatric epilepsy. The FDA recently completed Phase 3 clinical trials that showed promising results. Should Epidiolex get the thumbs-up from the FDA, it would force the DEA to downgrade marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 3 or 4 so that it could be prescribed to patients in the U.S.

      “It’s right at the edge of being approved, and if it does get approved, you’re going to see an absolute gold rush of pharma companies trying to enter the cannabinoid-based drug market,” Rob Hunt of Teewinot Life Sciences predicts. Biotech companies already are the recipients of more than half of the $400 million that investors poured into the pot industry in 2015, according to Viridian Capital Advisor, a cannabis advisory firm.

      http://www.ozy.com/fast-forward/the-new-wonder-drug-synthetic-cannabis/74514

      Then there’s this, from fentanyl peddler Insys — six of whose former executives are under indictment for racketeering, and which funded opposition to Arizona’s recreational cannabis initiative last year:

      Insys Therapeutics, a Chandler, Ariz.-based pharmaceutical firm, said Thursday its FDA-approved liquid dronabinol drug Syndros could launch later this year after the synthetic THC oral solution received an initial go-ahead for Schedule II classification under the Controlled Substances Act, which would allow doctors to prescribe it.

      http://www.thecannabist.co/2017/03/23/synthetic-thc-drug-insys-therapeutics-dronabinol-syndros/76030/

      Cute, huh? Cory Booger is gonna jump in front of this parade, claiming it was his idea.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Booker is done. He is the only one who doesn’t know it. Too many Clintonistas are behind Harris, and Obama wants Patrick. Booker will be amusing to watch as he tries to undo his image with symbolic gestures.

        I’m trying to think of a Republican candidate in recent years who he reminds me of. Graham? The media covers him. Americans don’t really care. His candidacy is bizarre, and they both have unusual speech patterns, Booker’s tweets are weird. They both seem willing to try to be “hip” to appeal to the kids. Didn’t Graham pitch an alternative social network or twitter thing in 2015?

  8. Jim Haygood

    Libor was based on something resembling an honor system.

    Libor is also the reference rate for the world’s most actively traded futures contract, CME’s Eurodollar futures. Not to worry — CME has a plan:

    CME Group said that it will develop futures and options based on the repurchase agreement market, after a bank committee in June selected a benchmark repo rate to be used as an alternative to Libor in derivatives transactions.

    The Alternative Reference Rates Committee (ARRC) selected a broad repo rate as a new benchmark at the behest of regulators, including the Federal Reserve, which worried that a decline in short-term bank lending since the 2008 financial crisis undermined faith in Libor and posed risks to the trillions of dollars of derivatives backed by the rate.

    Around $150 trillion in private and exchange-traded derivatives are based on U.S. dollar-based Libor. CME said it expects to introduce the new repo-backed futures and options, pending regulatory approvals, after the New York Fed and U.S. Treasury Office of Financial Research begin publishing the rate, expected in the first half of 2018.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-cme-rates-repo-idUSKBN1AB273

    Scott Skyrm, an old repo hand, has suggested that the new repo rate ought to replace Fed funds as well:

    According to Liberty Street Economics, the size of the Fed funds market was $200 billion in 2007 and was down to only $60 billion in 2012. The Repo market, by contrast, was as large as $7 trillion in 2007 and is estimated to be around $4.5 trillion today.

    Remember, I’m a biased repo market veteran so I don’t see much use in Fed funds as the policy rate anymore. Yes, it’s good to have a market for banks to borrow and lend excess cash, but it shouldn’t be used as the benchmark rate for U.S. monetary policy and the world’s benchmark currency.

    The repo market is the overnight market for the entire financial system, as opposed to just the declining inter-bank market. I’m surprised the Fed didn’t switch to targeting the repo rate years ago.

    http://www.treasury.nl/blog/fed-funds-and-repo/

    Watch for this shift to happen after official publication of the repo rate is up and running. Then we can call the new Fed chair “the repo man” … ah ha ha ha …

    No Fedster gonna take my car
    I’m gonna race it to the ground
    No Fedster gonna beat my car
    It’s gonna break the speed of sound

    — Deep Purple, Highway Star

  9. Steve

    There are a number of native North American fruit bearing trees. Diospyros virginiana (persimmon), Crataegus opaca (mayhaw), Amelanchier spp. (serviceberry), Morus rubra (mulberry), some Prunus spp.(plum) and Malus spp.(crabapple) are all native to the U.S.. I’m sure there are others. I grow all the above, except mulberry, so I’m familiar with them.

    1. Shirley Ende-Saxe

      A gentleman a stone’s throw from me has 3 paw-paw trees in his yard and they are loaded with fruits this year. He kindly sets out a chair each September and keeps it stocked with free paw-paws! This is close to Akron OH but I never had one to eat until going past his house and discovering his offer while walking the dog. They are delicious, a creamy texture with a taste between a banana and a mango.

      1. Anonymized

        He probably gives it away because pawpaws go bad a few days after being picked, which is why it hasn’t been commercialized. However, Lambert’s comment is still valid as I’m sure a way of preserving the fruit (canning? drying? preserves?) can be developed if enough money was put into research.

        1. Scm

          Integration Acres outside Athens OH sells the pulp, frozen, by the pound. They also produce processed products, jams and the like. I believe the bulk their revenues come from their nursery, but that’s just based on local chatter.

          NKU and Ohio University both have active research programs.

          Personally, I’m not a huge fan of pawpaw fruit. As an ice cream or smoothie flavor maybe, but fresh I give it a meh.

      2. p

        That’s the right thing to do,distribute the surplus.
        The alternative, that it spreads its seed an nourishes the suround, is alright as well

    1. G

      My thoughts on this are that Hersh either….

      (a) has the whole story and is busy shopping it around. His “I live in the real world” quote, which some have interpreted as a worry about be threatened by going public, may be expressing a worry about getting scooped and/or having to defend a story he hasn’t sold to an outlet yet (potentially reducing his pay and ability to control the story). My guess is that its that latter, since I doubt most journalists who have the source-access that Hersh has wouldn’t come near this story for any money (either out of ignorance/delusion or fear).

      or

      (b) does not totally have the story yet and does not want to go public on something so big with missing details and/or confirmation. Perhaps he is trying to get ahold of the actual file or some hard evidence. I’m sure he’s aware that a story like this would take an enormous amount of evidence and near-perfect factual correctness in order not to be slaughtered at the hands of the MSM (even if the story is true, a small error would be massively publicized as reason to doubt the whole thing).

      or

      (c) he was exaggerating how much he knows over the phone (or outright lying) for some strategic benefit.

      The best thing this story has going for it is that it was re-tweeted by wikileaks (which has been re-tweeting occasional Seth Rich info pieces for a while now). Wikileaks currently has a near perfect track record for veracity and I highly highly doubt Assange would risk sullying wikileak’s reputation by re-tweeting a story he knows to be false. I am sure this is Assange’s way of getting around the fact that he guarantees leakers their anonymity. He knows that outright endorsing the story would deter future leakers. I’m surprised he would even take the risk of re-tweeting Seth Rich stuff (assuming he knows it to be true), since it is pretty close to outing him as a source. My guess is that Assange knows how dangerous the Russia narrative has become (and also how amazingly damaging this story would be to the credibility of the democrats, neo-cons, CIA, and the MSM if this story were publicly verified), so he is willing to go farther than he normally would.

      The other piece of supporting evidence is that this story perfectly coheres with VIPS analysis that the emails were likely leaked internally rather than hacked.

      If the audio recording of Hersh is real and Hersh was being honest, I really hope that Hersh publishes whatever he has soon and that he’s got his facts straight. Unlike his Syria story in Die Welt, this story would wind its way into the MSM media no matter what (even if initially as a de-bunking). Its just too big and politically charged. Moreover, the conservative media would likely jump on it in a heartbeat.

      1. sid_finster

        I suspect that no matter what facts, evidence or proof Hersh has, he would have better luck getting Pravda to publish a nude centerfold featuring Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya humping a snake than getting our Famously Free MSM to publish anything that departs so much as smidgen from the Permitted Narrative.

        1. G

          I didn’t say it would be accepted by the MSM or the lovely liberal Dems, but I think a lot of people (i.e. “average americans”) wouldn’t be surprised to hear that the CIA/MSM/Blob has lied once again. If Hersh managed to get ahold of the FBI report, I think it would be hard to avoid it being an explosive news story. Conservative media would certainly run with it, so MSNBC, NYTIMES and friends would have at least concoct a response. I’m sure it would be spun in every which angle, but my guess is that it wouldn’t take much to put the seed of doubt in a lot of people’s minds, especially if either the document gets released.

          What I don’t get is why Trump doesn’t force the FBI to give him the document. He may be an idiot, but surely Bannon or Kushner or one of those guys would have the half-baked thought to get him to actually exercise his executive authority. There seems to be a lot of situations where Trump could help himself a lot by using his presidential powers. I’m not sure what his strategy is.

      2. sid_finster

        I suspect that no matter what facts, evidence or proof Hersh has, he would have better luck getting Pravda (ca. 1981) to publish a nude centerfold featuring Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya humping a snake than getting our Famously Free MSM to publish anything that departs so much as smidgen from the Permitted Narrative.

      3. JohnnyGL

        Good stuff, I think you’re on the right track, here.

        I suspect (b). Easiest way out for an unprepared Hersh who’s found himself stuck in the middle of a food fight between parties to a lawsuit is to drop a quick “nothing to see here” type of misleading statement to NPR, who, of course, doesn’t want to talk to him, anyway.

        Might have been some bits of ( c ), too.

        Regarding wikileaks, Assange has pretty much done his best to indicate that Seth Rich was the leaker, without saying it outright. I suspect he’d like to be able to get a reputation of being able to get justice for his sources whenever something ‘unfortunate’ happens to them.

        1. G

          I agree that the NPR quote was likely intended to get the spotlight off Hersh, but I think it contained a grain of truth, namely that Hersh really does believe that the murder was not due to his being a leaker, but really was random. This would explain the “45” out of “2+2.” The 2 + 2 is that Rich is the leaker and that the FBI (and friends) know he is. Thus, Hersh would be subtly telling the truth while also throwing NPR off the scent of the story.

          It is of course not beyond the realm of possibility that the FBI/CIA/etc would assassinate someone deeply embarrassing. However, something has not smelled right about that in this case, which is why I never thought much of the Seth Rich story until I heard Hersh. Its possible that the dems really did think it was the Russians, until they accidentally found out the truth after Rich’s computer was searched. By then the Russian narrative had already been spread (not to mention that it would be very embarrassing to announce publicly that a DNC staffer leaked emails to wikileaks during Hillary’s campaign), so there was a cover-up. This explains Obama’s general reluctance to hype the Russia-gate story (it seems he was pushed by forces around him, like Clinton and Brennan, to put the sanctions on Russia in November). It wouldn’t be the first time Obama lied to save public face. Hersh has already called Obama out on his lies about the Bin Ladin assassination and Syrian chemical weapons attacks.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Yes, that sounds consistent with the clip of Hersh’s remarks (which I found frustrating because I wanted more). These two things can easily both be true.

            1) Seth Rich was the DNC email leaker (plenty of circumstantial stuff, plus wikileaks’ tremendous interest).

            2) Seth Rich was killed in a botched robbery (with no Clinton/DNC/CIA connections).

            Corp media would have you believe that 2) being true means there’s nothing to see here, just conspiracy theories like birther stuff.

            Of course, 1) being true is what smashes the new Cold War narrative.

            Hersh’s vitriol for Brennan was interesting, too. Especially since his Syrian regime change project dream is now completely shattered. From this am’s links:

            https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/02/world/middleeast/cia-syria-rebel-arm-train-trump.html

        2. Arizona Slim

          In his recently published book, The Making of the President 2016, Roger Stone said that he believed Seth Rich to be the DNC leaker.

      4. L Took

        Since Seth Rich is dead Assange coming close to outing him as the source holds no danger to Rich.

    2. Byron the Light Bulb

      This isn’t the first time Sy has been caught relying on uncorroborated sources. Anyone remember him falling for Marilyn Monroe assassination document forgeries in 90’s? Or the libel case against him re: the former PM of India in the 80’s? Feed him any old disinformation and you bet he’ll be repeating it on the lecture circuit for months without doing the substantiating legwork. The former Indian PM called his fabrications the curry he used to make his books sell.

    3. Bill Smith

      ” we’re at maybe the most dangerous moment in US-Russian relations in my lifetime, and maybe ever.”

      Worse then the Cuban Missile thingie? or October 1973?

      I think there is some exaggeration there.

  10. NotTimothyGeithner

    Concerning Bain and private equity,

    Mittens might be a hero of the #resistance today, but I’ve never felt Democrats on the ground are as fond of Wall Street. Mental gymnastics have been used to justify blind loyalty to Obama and Hillary. Hillary enjoyed her co-Presidency status. People who were old enough to vote for Bill and a lesser extent Gore chose her in the primary. Anyone younger didn’t. Obama had a charisma, and he came kind of at the right time. He was a bright spot in the 2004 election. He certainly pushed the “community organizer” bit as far as he could, and again the comparison to Mittens and Obama were on full display in 2012.

    Going back to the old Ken Silverstein piece in Harper’s where Silverstein acknowledged major donors were interested in finding out if Obama was a team player and had no interest in a reformer, I see a similar search for a candidate donors can try to use to con voters: telegenic, inoffensive non-entity who seems to care and marks a check box which can be used to silence critics. Unlike Obama, Bain, the mortgage settlement, and unwavering support for Big Pharma isn’t the same as “community organizer” and “constitutional scholar.” If the critiques of Harris/Patrick go around before the donors find the right narrative, the donors might get stuck with a Sanders-style candidacy.

    I would have said accepting a job at Bain is admitting one won’t be President. After all, Mark Warner’s bragging about how he invested his sizable inheritance into cell phones just was a riveting speech. It was so good that Hillary picked Kaine to be her VP. Shrub was attacked for his pre-Presidency career. They tried to hide Hillary’s speeches which were so riveting at $250k a pop. Bain to me strikes me as a bridge too far without a powerful narrative to cover it up, and there simply aren’t very many Democrats to choose from given the wipe out of the party in recent years.

    As far as Obama pushing Patrick, Obama is an arrogant guy who doesn’t want to admit the desire for an the perception of an Obama style candidacy is more important to his actual winning of the White House than anything he ever did or said.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Obama is an arrogant guy who doesn’t want to admit the desire for an the perception of an Obama style candidacy is more important.

      It’s just too early for another “Obama-style candidacy,” however defined: urban; Democratic; articulate (but vague); law degree; member of an identifiable ethnic minority; etc.

      On the other side of the aisle, Jeb! tried this with another “Bush-style candidacy.” It didn’t work. “New” is one of the top ten sales words for a reason. ;-)

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think Obama’s status as a biracial with a non-nuclear family upbringing mattered to people more than is commonly realized. This story mattered more than anything he said.

        “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” -Audacity of Hope

        Obama had something for everyone. Even in 2004, the ability to disseminate something like Ken Silverstein’s article “Obama Inc” wasn’t as easy. I’m of the opinion most people who read Obama’s books didn’t read either. There was a flurry of articles about Obama losing his mojo and “where is the great orator” before people moved onto the Presidential election season, and those were written by people who wanted answers but found Obama lacking. They couldn’t reconcile their fantasy with the real Obama because there were no answers in Obama’s speeches or actions. Its was faith.

        Hillary did this too, hence the focus on the secretly liberal Hillary.

        Between the two, I think they’ve poisoned the ability of other candidates to have values projected onto them merely by existing. The Democrats “better deal” and their “bipartisan approach to healthcare” isn’t drawing attention because people aren’t willing to project so easily anymore.

    2. kurtismayfield

      Oh why would Mini me (That’s what the radio guys call him on the AM dial) run when he doesn’t have to do anything substantial and make millions at Bain. Is the drive to be the 2nd not completely white candidate that strong?

  11. Tim

    “Billionaire investor Marks, who called the dotcom bubble, says bitcoin is a ‘pyramid scheme’”

    He’s clearly late to the party and furiously trying to buy in before the party is over

    Sorry for being cynical, but do as I say not as I do is the rule of law for the billionaire types.

    1. cnchal

      . . . based on a willingness to ascribe value to something that has little or none beyond what people will pay for it,’

      The same can be said of stawks and gold.

  12. John

    The Jackpot. I love Gibson. He’s such a happy happy optimist.
    80% of the world’s population in 40 years.
    Somewhere in Jay Hanson’s informative website dieoff.org. there is an essay that covers numbers like those and what it would mean on the ground. Not a good scenario. As Gibson realizes, distribution is important. The essence of the dieoff is that the survivors would be dealing with an overwhelming number of corpses. The psychological consequences would not be good.
    Gibson’s post Jackpot world really doesn’t get into that.
    Drew Faust does in her book about the American catastrophe of the civil war: This Republic of Suffering. Virginia was strewn with corpses during the war years. Cleanup only happened after the fighting stopped.
    If 80% go in 40 years, human cleanup would probably stop too.
    The carrion eaters would thrive.

    1. polecat

      “The carrion eaters would thrive” …
      Think of the upside .. Condors would roam the Earth, … and there would no longer be a shortage of phosphorus ….
      A win-win ! ‘;]

    2. Yves Smith

      Among other things, international transport would collapse and chipmaking/devices made on chips would stop. You’d see raising of existing devices, maybe a fab somewhere kept going. We’ve become so dependent on electronics and those have such short lives that that’s another collapse amplifier.

  13. sid_finster

    Since when did it start to matter what Democrats on the ground felt or thought?

    Admittedly, there was the Obama insurgency in 2008, but if the Party Nomenklatura had decided that Obama wasn’t going to happen, it would not have been allowed to happen.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Because of elections. Hillary whatever you think of her campaign in the primary had millions of votes. Its the same with Obama. If he didn’t close the gap in 2008, he wouldn’t have been President versus Hillary. The next primary will be far more fluid like 2004.

      Hillary’s celebrity from her time as First Lady mattered. Obama’s bright spot as a win in 2004 and story mattered. The donors were backing winning horses not manufacturing candidates.

      I’m reminded of Joe Lieberman’s front runner status in 2003. He had donors and all kinds of hideous people behind him.

    1. paul

      The “Sveriges riksbanks pris” chocolate nobel is genuine ersatz.

      From the mighty wikipedia:

      An ersatz (German pronunciation: [ɛʀˈzats]) good is a substitute good, especially one that is considered inferior to the good it replaces. It has particular connotations of wartime usage.

      I’ve never heard PK pointing this out in his interviewers’ gushing introductions this side of the pond.

      He’s very stern on ‘fact free economics’,less so on propoganda medals

    1. JohnnyGL

      I’ve never seen a picture which illustrates how the ‘resistance’ is all about ‘restoration’ more than this.

      Clearly, the guy likes monarchy. Why bother with elections if he just wants Clinton-Obama family rotation in the executive branch?

      I’d really like these people to openly advocate for Kings/Queens to be enthroned, why mess around with the electoral process?

  14. Livius Drusus

    Re: tech utopias, some of us are not only skeptical about them but see them as more dystopia than utopia.

    On smartphones and mental health problems among the young:

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/09/has-the-smartphone-destroyed-a-generation/534198/

    But most of the techbros don’t care about how their schemes impact ordinary people. It would be fine if they kept their weird sci-fi dreams to themselves but they constantly seek to “disrupt” the lives of everyone else and we are told that we just have to accept it as the price of progress.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Every time I see these kinds of articles I think about the age groups that vote Republican. Something happened in the 50’s. Perhaps DDT did more than hurt bird eggs?

  15. robnume

    527’d out of NC today for a few hours and I am hopping mad! Tried other browsers and came to the conclusion that it must be my ISP, Spectrum. NC is what I do as I drink my morning coffee so a good start I did not have today. Must be those pesky Russians. Damn them.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Would Hillary lie to us?

      “Assad has an air force, and that air force is the cause of most of these civilian deaths as we have seen over the years and as we saw again in the last few days,” Clinton said in a speech at the “Women in the World” summit in New York City.

      “And I really believe that we should have and still should take out his air fields and prevent him from being able to use them to bomb innocent people and drop sarin gas on them.”

      — April 6, 2017

      Looks like those folks in the buses just didn’t get the memo: Assad — bad, bad man! Whereas our al Qaeda allies in Syria are men of peace, true moderates. The CIA told me so. ;-)

    2. Matt

      Refugees have been returning to government areas, but this article is not an example of that. The ones on the Green Buses are going to jihadist, not government, areas.

  16. Richard

    Two questions (I feel like I am always asking questions here, but it comes with being a newbie)
    1) Who in Washington state or elsewhere has some ideas for a good primary challenger for Cantwell? Her support of the bill that criminalizes BDS, and her sponsorship of the fracking rights bill of 2017, have got me thinking about how awful she really is, and also how she might be vulnerable along environmental and class lines. Sawant would be my dream senator of course, but she’d have to run against Cantwell in the general, and the libs around here would split their heads over it. Sounds like a win-win actually!
    2) Lambert, you’ve mentioned the Jackpot a couple times recently (yesterday in reference to a dystopian, or at least undesired future). Could you, or someone else, explain the reference a little?

    1. Richard

      Yeesh, never mind #2. Scrolling up I see Gibson reference and divine that Jackpot must be some Bill Gibson neo-nightmare. I got it.
      And any schoolkid pranks about my first sentence will be firmly dealt with.

    2. polecat

      Uh ….. Mr. Floaty ??
      He’s no longer of need as Victoria’s sewage pollution mascot ! I doubt he could do any worse than the SheWitch of Boeing !

      1. Richard

        Hmm, I’ll have to look up this Mr. Floaty character, and take in the cut of his jib! But is he a man of the people?

        1. tegnost

          I agree Sawant may be a bridge too far for the senate seat but considering the strong bernie support in Washington I should think that there is someone out there who could at least make a good showing, if not win here. I too would like to hear of any potentials. I view Murray as worse than Cantwell but she’s not up for a while so stuck with her for now. Looking at Cantwells record I find I disagree with her stances on health care, finance and trade, and note that the bulk of citations in this link: http://www.ontheissues.org/Senate/Maria_Cantwell.htm
          are not recent stances and also reflect the unfortunate reality of identity politics where the views that get her called a left liberal are mostly virtue signalling after the keys to the cupboard have been handed to finance and health insurance. I’m also interested in other peoples takes on the washington state senate picture, thanks

          1. Kurt Sperry

            “By late evening, with 96 percent of precincts reporting, Sanders was winning in every county. He was taking 73 percent of the statewide delegate count, compared with 27 percent for Clinton.

            From midmorning on, reports all over Washington showed Sanders was winning in a romp and was likely to grab the lion’s share of 101 pledged delegates up for grabs based on the caucus results.”

            I don’t think there’d be the slightest problem knocking off Cantwell (or the equally fetid Murray) in the primaries if a strong populist voice emerged from the left. The “moderate Ds” are demonstrably badly outnumbered here by the left. The only way Republicanitas like our Senators get elected is via TINA.

            http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/bernie-sanders-headed-for-big-win-in-washington-caucuses/

            1. polecat

              THAT’s the problem rigth there ! … There is narry enough sufficiently ‘uncorrupted’ viable candidate material out there, to make ANY political reversals that truly matter to the plebs … What I mean is, Everyone owns a skeleton or few, even if it’s ‘fictional’, and has them, ready and waiting in the Sp`OO`ks closet of Obfuscation and Deceit, and to find enough candidates of such (I really HATE this word) ‘Purity’ is .. well …. daunting !

              1. NotTimothyGeithner

                I don’t know. I think the problem is party loyalty and awareness of an election, not skeletons.

                Look at the non-Ossoff special elections. Those were close races run by candidates who are not traditional candidates. Sanders is another one. We are discussing people who came late to the contest, so activating the people one needs to win is difficult.

                Ossoff on the other hand burned $30 million up despite being an Obama 2.0 for his district in Georgia.

                Obviously, people can’t simply walk away from their lives either to run.

                Skeletons? Yikes. Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton just ran against each other. No one cares about skeletons.

            2. Richard

              Not to be the DA, but that was a caucus situation, which in my experience at least tends to veer left somewhat. Still it does give very evidence to a solid core of reform voters in the party, and somebody could certainly run a strong save our children green campaign against Maria. Anti-capitalist enough for the millenials. Knock her right out.

        2. polecat

          Well Yeah ! Of course he’s a .. umm .. er .. ‘man’ of the people … and let me to you , his sh!t never stinkz !!

  17. ChrisPacific

    From the PHooker article:

    Second, and perhaps more importantly, they need to make a symbolic rhetorical break with the despised donor class.

    No they don’t. Hardly a day went by that Hillary didn’t make symbolic rhetorical breaks with the donor class. They need to make a real break with the donor class. The only problem with that is that it’s a little like saying fish need to make a break with the water.

  18. flora

    re: “How a small town in Iowa is saving their school with theater” – Des Moines Register

    Thanks so much for the link. Cheered me up to read about this.

  19. marym

    Senator Stabenow Announces Medicare at 55 Act

    U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) today introduced the Medicare at 55 Act, which provides an option for people between the ages of 55 and 64 to buy into Medicare.
    ….
    Under the Medicare at 55 Act, an individual between the ages of 55 and 64 who buys into Medicare would receive the same benefits and protections as an individual enrolled under Medicare parts A, B, and D

    U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Al Franken (D-MN) co-sponsored the legislation.

  20. ChrisAtRU

    Almost weeping with laughter over my drink at a bar because of the fork startup thing … #PeakStickAForkInIt

  21. Swamp Yankee

    Patrick remains widely hated by everyone except machine morons here in Mass. He did very, very little here beside make nice with the powers that be. Don’t forget he was elected before Obama (2006) — that moment has passed.

    People want an actual meal, not just food chemistry.

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