2:00PM Water Cooler 8/8/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Meetup reminder: The Burlington, VT Thursday, August 17 at 8:00PM; Montreal, Quebec Friday, August 18, at 6:00PM. Hope to see you there!

I’ll be back with some UPDATEs after I move out of my frigid garden — 64°F — and into a warmer area. –Lambert. 3:37PM. Done. And a bit of sun, at last!


“[T]he Office of the U.S. Trade Representative appears to have dropped, without explanation, a World Trade Organization case challenging China’s subsidies for primary aluminum producers. The case filed late in the Obama administration was not included in a report on USTR’s enforcement agenda sent to Congress last week, although two other late Obama-era cases targeting China’s agricultural policies were listed in the report” [Politico].



UPDATE “Sen. Warren honing campaign pitch as GOP eyes 2018 campaign” [AP]. “The conservative political action committee America Rising has been dogging Warren, most recently charging her with waffling about whether she supports a single payer health plan.”

UPDATE “Skelton uses populist techniques to try to flip historically red 50th” [Missourian]. “The 50th District has been a safe GOP seat since its boundaries were drawn in a 2011 redistricting. Since then, Republican Caleb Jones had held the seat, and no Democrat dared to challenge him.” Skelton is relying on small donors, which makes sense, since this is exactly the kind of seat that national Democrats don’t want to challenge.

New Cold War

Larry Tribe seems to be losing his mind:

And then there’s this:

“[H]ave you NO shame?” is, of course, Joseph Welch’s famous rhetorical question to Joe McCarthy, so Larry is putting himself in Welch’s place, making Sanders McCarthy. And I don’t know which aspect of that analogy is more ludicrous: Louise Mensch-fanboy Larry as paragon of integrity, or Sanders as smear artist. Honestly, it’s like Harris passes one donor class audition in the Hamptons, and Democrat liberals like Tribe anoint her the presumptive nominee. Because the real problem Clinton had was that she didn’t wrap up the nomination early enough.

Health Care

UPDATE “Inside Bernie Sanders’s campaign to save Obamacare” [Vox]. “But at least during the Obamacare repeal fight in Congress, Sanders was a team player. He brought crowds to dozens of rallies with Senate Democrats who had once opposed him. He shut a Republican attempt to expose Democrats’ divisions, despite the interest of some of his team. And, perhaps most importantly, he marshaled his resources and newfound star power in defense of Democrats’ top priority: showing what it might look like for his movement to be incorporated into the party apparatus, rather than having it try to knock down its gates. ‘Our job today is to defend the Affordable Care Act,’ Sanders said at several of his rallies this year. ‘Our job tomorrow is to create a Medicare-for-all single-payer system.'” Which is a legitimate political judgement call; that’s what we want from Sanders, after all. What’s fascinating — I was about to write “remarkable,” but nah — is that Democrat liberals are (a) unwilling to say “single payer tomorrow,” and (b) continue to smear Sanders anyhow, despite the help he gave them; see Larry Tribe at work above.

Trump Transition

“Trump White House quietly courts Democrats for tax overhaul” [Politico]. “The Trump White House is quietly courting a few dozen House Democrats on tax reform… Even as congressional GOP leaders largely embrace a partisan path on taxes, White House officials have been wooing 15 to 20 centrist House Democrats since early summer. At a mid-June dinner at the White House with four centrist House Democrats, President Donald Trump expressed interest in a bipartisan package combining tax reform with infrastructure spending, multiple sources said. Since then, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, chief economic adviser Gary Cohn and top White House staff have huddled with conservative Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition and the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.” I suppose that makes the Blue Dogs Russian stooges and white supremacists? I’ll expect the Blue Dogs to be drummed out of the party forthwith. Not. Why, it’s almost enough to make you think liberal Democrats are power seekers of the most trivial and abortive sort….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Regardless of the outcome of upcoming elections, the political math reveals the challenges facing each party. The United States has evolved to two distinct political coalitions: A Republican hammer-lock in the South and the nation’s heartland, which provides 219 electoral votes in 24 states— all of which are contiguous except for Alaska; A Democratic coalition based on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, where they hold a solid grip on 203 electoral votes in 16 states; and 116 electoral votes in 10 states in the Great Lakes region and Southwest that are up for grabs” [Cook Political Report]. Well worth a careful read. Note well: “In the House, many Democrats expect that their best opportunity to regain control will come in 2022 following the decennial Census.” With this handy map:

“So, it is time to ask: If this city [Washington] brings Trump down, will the rest of America rejoice?” [Patrick Buchanan, RealClearPolitics]. “What will be the reaction out there in fly-over country, that land where the ‘deplorables’ dwell who produce the soldiers to fight our wars? Will they toast the “free press” that brought down the president they elected, and in whom they had placed so much hope? My guess: The reaction will be one of bitterness, cynicism, despair, a sense that the fix is in, that no matter what we do, they will not let us win.” Buchanan, the old reprobate, asks a good question (one that Sanders supporters have asked as well).

UPDATE “[F]or Democrats willing to pull to the left and identify as socialists — or at least support socialist issues like single-payer health care, a raise in the minimum wage to at least $15, criminal justice reform and a rejection of corporate influence over politics — the DSA is staffing campaigns with hundreds, perhaps thousands of volunteers” [Mic. “‘We step in analogously to being hired consultants, except we do it for free,. DSA deputy director David Duhalde said in an interview… The DSA is not a party. Instead, they provide candidates and manpower, sometimes for their own candidates, and sometimes for Democrats. When local DSA chapters decide to support a candidate, they swoop in, set up volunteer networks, tap into a national network of phone banks and bring in a media team that can make images, posters, videos and graphics.” And more:

The DSA inherits its model from the Sanders campaign — a loss ultimately, but one that gave birth to a new paradigm for political organizing. Duhalde identified two lessons mainstream Democrats can learn from Sanders’ campaign model — a model which shattered fundraising records and garnered Sanders unexpected wins in states like Michigan.

The first is the DSA’s model for organizing its ground troops. The Sanders campaign used a combination of apps like Slack, virtual call centers and online forums to quickly convert rank-and-file volunteers into organizers who then become responsible for their own, new network of volunteers.

The DSA learned many of its lessons on running effective campaigns from volunteering for Bernie Sanders’ presidential run.

The other takeaway is a point that Berniecrats have been drilling Democrats on since the 2016 election loss: coming out with a strong set of ambitious goals instead of defining themselves by what they’re not.

Very interesting! Note that the Sanders’ campaign’s combination of an organizing model and with ambitious goals has aleady been replicated by Sanders activists training the Momentum activists for Jeremy Corbyn (report from the NC London meetup).

UPDATE “Four days with America’s socialist party” [The Outline]. Except the DSA is not a normal political party; see link above. That said: “The newly elected National Political Council] is, in large part, the most ambitious that the DSA has ever seen. Despite several contentious votes, the convention saw its dues, its organizational structure, and its internal policy procedures begin to pivot toward the degree of seriousness required to build a movement that lasts longer than an election cycle or a fad. Even where the proceedings became tedious, or a vote came out contrary to what I thought would have been wiser, or the procedural machinations descended into the inevitably parody of any unruly body operating under Robert’s Rules of Order, the very fact of a real and at times contested display of political organizing will help transition what has for many been a largely online tendency into a real task worth dedicating a life to.” And while I’m not big on generational analysis — Sanders is, after all, an old codger — the NPC isn’t a Breshnevian gerontocracy, either. Then again: “What we are proposing is the most difficult task in the history of the world. Nothing will ever be harder.” Not hyperbole.

UPDATE “Polling done earlier this year by the American Culture & Faith Institute found that 37 percent of American adults now say they prefer socialism to capitalism. Among millennials, the divide is even sharper. A Harvard University survey taken last year found that 51 percent of respondents between the ages of 18 and 29 no longer say they support capitalism” [The Intercept].

UPDATE “American socialists once governed great cities, helped to define the politics of states across the country, and played a critical role in setting the national agenda. The Socialist Party of Eugene Victor Debs and Norman Thomas influenced presidents and Congresses, and was covered on the front pages of newspapers on a daily basis” [The Nation]. “That party had many bases of strength, and indeed exists to this day, along with DSA, Socialist Alternative, and an array of other socialist organizations, some old and some new. From 1910 to 1960, the ‘hotbed of socialism’ in America was Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time it was one of the largest and most prosperous cities in America—and it was run by Socialists.” Since the blue cities of the metropolis are disproportionately under the control of liberal Democrats, expect pushback.

“New Orleans’ DSA chapter is unlikely to issue endorsements in New Orleans’ fall municipal elections, explains chapter member Joshua Lewis” [Best of New Orleans]. “‘New Orleans’ Democratic party is pretty all-powerful,’ Lewis says. ‘You don’t get a lot of candidates for [City] Council who are going to rock the boat because it’s so critical for them to have the support of the party. … Over time, hopefully that will change, and the more political engagement you have in the city, and more people paying attention, the more possibility for different kinds of candidates becoming successful.'”

“Why A Trump Pivot Might Backfire” [FIveThirtyEight]. “[G]iven how political coalitions are currently constructed, Republicans have some structural advantages in the way seats and votes are distributed in both Congress and the Electoral College. So Trump has every incentive to play the long game. If he were to really and truly pivot [to the center] and sustain that new course, perhaps some of the 47 percent of voters who are currently in the ‘strongly disapprove’ camp would eventually become reluctant supporters, after stopping in the ‘somewhat disapprove’ category along the way. But if Trump is looking for a short-term fix, a pivot probably won’t work.”

UPDATE “The enemy as animal: Symmetric dehumanization during asymmetric warfare” [Public Library of Science]. “This study illuminates the striking potency and symmetry of blatant dehumanization among those on both sides of an active asymmetric conflict.”

UPDATE “The Political Payoff of Making Whites Feel Like a Minority” [The New York Times]. “The data show that race is less important* to white Americans’ sense of self than to nonwhites — more white people say being white is not at all important to their identity relative to the numbers who say so in other groups. But Mr. Trump’s continued efforts to remind white Americans of their group status may increase the number of white people who think of themselves through a racial lens.” What could go wrong? Since the “Obama Coalition” (so-called) was explicitly built on Ruy Teixeira’s theory of “the coalition of the ascendant,” where the “ascendant” were explicitly non-whites, it would have been quite remarkable had an equal and opposite reaction not taken place. * To be fair, that’s because hitherto, that “ascriptive identity” hardly need to be ascribed; it was the default setting, as it were.

UPDATE “If Only There Were An Organization That Could Do Something About This” [Mike the Mad Biologist]. “Alabama does not have to notify tens of thousands of former felons that they recently regained the right to vote, a federal judge ruled Friday.” I’m sure the Democrat Party will pick up the ball on this.

Stats Watch

Gallup US Consumer Spending Measure, July 2017 (yesterday): “Americans’ daily self-reports of spending averaged $109 in July, the sixth month in a row in which spending has averaged $100 or more. This is the highest spending average since May 2008” [Econoday]. “This is the last report of consumer spending. Gallop will no longer be producing it going forward.” Another one bites the dust.

Consumer Credit, June 2017 (yesterday): “Though growth in headline consumer credit, at $12.4 billion, came in lower than expected, the component for revolving credit posted another sizable increase, at $4.1 billion vs $6.9 billion in May” [Econoday]. “This component, which is where credit card debt is tracked, has been on the rise this year raising the question whether financial firms are beginning to lend to less qualified borrowers. Whether or not gains here are good for credit quality, they are a plus for short-term consumer spending.” But: “Less than expected as the deceleration continues. I read this as reflecting a drop in consumer spending. The savings rate has been down, and the personal income curve has been bent lower as well, and retail sales have also slowed” [Mosler Economics]. “So it can all be read this way:

The consumer has less real disposable income, has cut back on spending, and has been ‘forced’ to put some of that reduced spending on his credit card, though less than the prior month, which doesn’t bode well for future spending.”

Labor Market Conditions Index July, 2017 (yesterday): “As of August, the Federal Reserve’s Labor Market Conditions Index has been discontinued. The report released in July for June is the last of the series” [Econoday]. The Fed: “”We decided to stop updating the LMCI because we believe it no longer provides a good summary of changes in U.S. labor market conditions. Specifically, model estimates turned out to be more sensitive to the detrending procedure than we had expected, the measurement of some indicators in recent years has changed in ways that significantly degraded their signal content, and including average hourly earnings as an indicator did not provide a meaningful link between labor market conditions and wage growth.”

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, July 2017: “The small business optimism index rose 1.6 points in July to 105.2, as significant gains in hiring activity pushed the reading to the highest level since February and just short of the 12-year high set in January” [Econoday]. “The solid increase surprised most analysts, surpassing not only the consensus forecast but the upper limit of the range of forecasts. And it was strong consumer demand that gave a boost to the index, according to the NFIB, which noted that business owners are feeling better about the economy because customers are feeling better about it…. Obscured by the high optimism expressed by small business owners in the survey, however, are also elements of frustration. The NFIB said that 87 percent of the 60 percent of small business owners trying to hire in July had a tough time trying to find workers with specific skills, a problem most severe in construction and manufacturing. Thus, while a tight job market may point to higher wages and rising consumer spending down the road, which is also good for small businesses, the current expansion efforts by small business owners are being choked by their difficulties in hiring and keeping workers.” If only there were a market-based solution for that… And amazingly: But: “No sign of Trumped up expectations fading here” [Mosler Economics]. And: “Fifty-seven percent reported capital outlays, unchanged. Of those making expenditures, 38 percent reported spending on new equipment (down 2 points), 24 percent acquired vehicles (up 3 points), and 17 percent improved or expanded facilities (up 4 points). Five percent acquired new buildings or land for expansion (up 1 point) and 13 percent spent money for new fixtures and furniture (up 2 points). There is still little evidence that capital spending, which raises worker productivity, is going to increase its contribution to growth anytime soon” [EconIntersect].

JOLTS, June 2017: “Job openings rose sharply in June, to 6.163 million from 5.702 million in May. Hires, however, fell sharply, to 5.356 million from 5.459 million” [Econoday]. This data set can be volatile but the underlying theme is a separation between openings and hiring which points to tightness in the labor market and the risk, at least theoretically, of wage inflation.” And: “JOLTS had been showing little year-over-year job openings growth – but this month there was a significant improvement. Historically, this indicates stronger employment growth” [EconIntersect]. But and: “Hires fell, which most are saying indicates a lack of supply of workers. But the low wage growth and low participation rates tell me it’s more likely about low aggregate demand” [Mosler Economics]. (Note that the last employment situation numbers are heavily tilted toward part-time work.) But and amazingly: “Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari told business leaders on Monday that companies should be raising pay aggressively if that is the case” [MarketWatch]. “‘Are you really struggling to find workers? If so, the proof for me is you are raising wages. If you are not raising wages, then it just sounds like whining,’ he said.” Since when did Kashkari take out a Communist Party card?

Leading Indicators: “The U.S. is set for steady economic growth, while the U.K. and Russia appear to be heading for slowdowns, according to leading indicators released Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development” [MarketWatch]. “The leading indicator for the U.S. was unchanged at 99.7 for the third straight month, signaling that its growth outlook has steadied, albeit at a weaker rate than normal. This is an improvement on indicators published in July, which hinted at a U.S. slowdown, and implies global economic prospects could be boosted as U.S. trade flows pick up. The Paris-based research body’s gauge of future activity, based on data for June, continued to point to faster growth in Germany, France, China and Brazil.”

Concentration: “Aerospace-industry suppliers are looking at big steps as jet makers take over bigger parts of their supply chains” [Wall Street Journal]. “Boeing and Airbus have moving into the aftermarket business to capture more revenue for themselves, putting them on a collision course with suppliers. Consolidating will make those suppliers bigger and, they believe, put them on stronger footing as they work with their heavyweight customers.”

Shipping: “The trustee for the remnants of the business says Hanjin has raised about $220 million since its bankruptcy filing jolted the maritime world nearly a year ago” [Wall Street Journal]. “Just a fraction of the claims against the defunct operator that now total more than $10.5 billion.

Shipping: “Trustees have been unable to confirm when distributions to [Hanjin] creditors will start” [DC Velocity]. When the money drops from the sky?

Shipping: “Hot demand could push Internet of Things (IoT) providers to triple production by 2022 of the electronic devices used by companies to track their assets, a report released Wednesday says” [DC Velocity]. “Much of the growth is being driven by technology changes over the past three years, such as better long-range communications, extended battery life that allows a device to run for years on a single charge, and lower prices for tracking modules.”

UPDATE Shipping: “The risk of cyber attacks targeting ships’ satellite navigation is pushing nations to delve back through history and develop back-up systems with roots in World War Two radio technology” [Reuters]. “Ships use GPS (Global Positioning System) and other similar devices that rely on sending and receiving satellite signals, which many experts say are vulnerable to jamming by hackers. About 90 percent of world trade is transported by sea and the stakes are high in increasingly crowded shipping lanes. Unlike aircraft, ships lack a back-up navigation system and if their GPS ceases to function, they risk running aground or colliding with other vessels.”

Auto: “Electric cars now make up only about 0.2% of the U.S. automobile fleet, and they’re not fighting for the roughly 44,000 available public charging stations. Analysts say if growth predictions come close to panning out, current charging infrastructure will offer little support for new cars, including for the city dwellers with the income and impetus to buy the vehicles. Experts say the biggest challenge in building out charging infrastructure is that no one can predict how demand will grow. Charging providers should figure that out over time, of course, but then they’ll face another infrastructure question: how to meet the demand on the electrical grid” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “How Many Accounts Does Wells Fargo Actually Have?” [DealBreaker]. “But the biggest problem seems to be that wherever Wells looks, it finds more unauthorized accounts opened for its benefit at the expense of the person for whom the account was allegedly opened.”

The Bezzle: “Why Germans pay cash for almost everything” [Quartz]. “No one knows precisely why Germans have such a strong preference for cash, though survey data offer some hints. German respondents suggested that using cash makes it easier to keep track of their money and spending [pdf].” Can’t have that!

The Bezzle: “To assess how vulnerable cities’ budgets could be, Governing conducted the first national analysis of how city revenues might be affected by autonomous vehicles. For the 25 largest U.S. cities, we requested and obtained revenues for parking collections and fines, traffic citations, traffic camera fines, gas taxes, vehicle registration, licensing and select other fees. In all, these 25 cities collectively netted nearly $5 billion in auto-related revenues in fiscal 2016, or about $129 per capita” [Governing]. “Estimates of just how much city revenues may eventually diminish vary considerably. Cities identified as most likely to incur the steepest revenue losses in our analysis were densely populated localities where parking comes at a premium… Most big cities maintain large and diverse enough revenue streams to absorb such hits to their budgets. But for some smaller jurisdictions, sizable financial shortfalls may lie ahead.” Smaller jurisdictions like Ferguson, for example, will have to ramp up “law enforcement for profit” in other areas, probably code enforcement.

The Bezzle: “Tesla Using Debt Financing To Fund “Manufacturing Hell” And No One Really Cares” [DealBreaker]. “Holy sh*t, Tesla is tacitly admitting that an auto company with an almost $60 billion market cap is incapable of projecting its own cash burn rate and will use debt to finance its most ambitious rollout ever because it apparently really needs about one and a half billion dollars to make a shit-ton of cars that it is going to go through ‘Manufacturing Hell’ to make.”

The Bezzle: “A class action lawsuit filed last week in the federal district court for Northern California alleges that Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS) and its partners violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and seeks an injunction prohibiting the companies from either collecting or disclosing the data with the parental consent. The lawsuit also seeks punitive damages and legal fees” [247 Wall Street]. “Disney and its partners — Upsight, Unity and Kochava — are alleged to have created mobile apps that illegally collect data about the apps’ users, including users under the age of 13. That collected data may then be used for advertising or other commercial purposes…. A total of 42 apps were named in the lawsuit. Many are wildly popular.” Of course, if you’re in the entertainment business and you want to make your brand “sticky” over a consumer’s entire lifetime, than trafficking in children’s data would be the way to go, and the younger the better. Why not force Disney to erase the data entirely?

Five Horsemen: “Apple’s silver spaceship lifts off to new highs” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Aug 8

Rapture Index (yesterday): Closes down 1 on unemployment. “The official jobless numbers are at a 7 year low” [Rapture Ready]. Record high: October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 63, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Aug 8 at 11:47am.


“Who says crime doesn’t pay? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court” [Morning Call]. As I read it, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court just decided convicted fraudsters don’t have to make restitution — if they defrauded the state.

“That’s a lesson of “The Misfortune of Marion Palm,” a new novel about a Brooklyn Heights mom on the lam after embezzling a small fortune from her kids’ private school. Out August 8, Emily Culliton’s debut effort has already been the subject of much buzz in publishing circles due to her readable portrayal of the financial travails of New York’s creative class” [Moneyish].

“Take the Generic, Patients Are Told. Until They Are Not” [New York Times]. “Out of public view, corporations are cutting deals that give consumers little choice but to buy brand-name drugs — and sometimes pay more at the pharmacy counter than they would for generics… Generic drug makers say they have seen an increase in efforts by manufacturers of brand-name drugs to fight to retain sales after they lose patent protection…. Consumers taking other medications said they had experienced the same phenomenon.” Readers?

Police State Watch

News you can use:

Our Famously Free Press

“How America Lost Its Mind” [The Atlantic]. “The word mainstream has recently become a pejorative, shorthand for bias, lies, oppression by the elites. Yet the institutions and forces that once kept us from indulging the flagrantly untrue or absurd—media, academia, government, corporate America, professional associations, respectable opinion in the aggregate—have enabled and encouraged every species of fantasy over the past few decades…. Our whole social environment and each of its overlapping parts—cultural, religious, political, intellectual, psychological—have become conducive to spectacular fallacy and truthiness and make-believe. There are many slippery slopes, leading in various directions to other exciting nonsense. During the past several decades, those naturally slippery slopes have been turned into a colossal and permanent complex of interconnected, crisscrossing bobsled tracks, which Donald Trump slid down right into the White House.”

“I was reading all this Trump stuff, and it doesn’t feel like we’re reading news for the reason we used to, which was to get a better sense of what’s going on in the world and to enrich yourself by being aware. It seems like we’re reading wrestling rumors. It’s like reading about what happened on Monday Night Raw. When you take a step back, it all just seems so sensationalized. Trump’s gonna get impeached! No, he’s not. None of that sh*t’s happening. But you are going to read all the articles. So if you take yourself out of it, you’re not infected with this toxicity all the time. Also, guess what? Everything is fine! [Interview with Aziz Ansari, GQ]. It seems like “we’re reading wrestling rumors” because it’s kayfabe.

Class Warfare

The Bezzle: “Why Facebook should pay us a basic income” [Financial Times]. “If, as the saying goes, data are the new oil then we may have found a 21st-century revenue stream. Data could do for the world what oil has done for Alaska… Mr Zuckerberg’s concern for the marginalised in society is commendable, as is his commitment to building strong communities. Unlike most of the rest of us, he has the personal influence to help tackle the problems of our age. He runs one of the world’s most valuable companies and has a ready-made digital pulpit from which he can make his case to Facebook’s 2bn global users. He should now live up to his rhetoric and launch a Facebook Permanent Fund to cover a broader universal basic income experiment. He should encourage other data businesses, such as Google, to contribute too.” Is it possible this is a trial balloon?

“[I]n 2016 CEOs in America’s largest firms made an average of $15.6 million in compensation, or 271 times the annual average pay of the typical worker” (PDF) [Economic Policy Institute]. There are 261 work days in a year, so those CEOs make more in a day than the average worker does in a year. To be fair, putting your pants on two legs at a time is a unique talent, well worth paying for.

“Part of the challenge for public officials is that “the opioid epidemic” is really a fight on two very separate fronts: the increased use of heroin in young adults in urban and suburban areas, and older adults abusing prescription drugs like Oxycontin in more rural areas” [Governing]. “[S]ome health experts say that cities and states need to reframe the whole way they think about the opioid outbreak. It’s not simply about the rise of a new class of addictive drugs that now take the lives of some 91 Americans every day. The opioid crisis is a jobs crisis; it’s an affordable housing crisis. The same forces that have reshaped the economy over the past decade have left a void that’s been filled, in many places, by opioids. A University of Pennsylvania study after last November’s election found that President Trump had overperformed in counties with the highest rates of ‘deaths of despair,’ which include suicide, drug overdose and alcohol poisoning. It supports the fact that there are many Americans who feel left behind by the changing economy, and who fundamentally don’t believe the current political and policy framework is helping them.” It’s good to see Case-Deaton recognized, if not cited, but I have the sinking feeling that the opioid crisis will only be addressed when it can be fully medicalized, and only then if the professional classes who would provide treatment decide that saving the lives of “deplorables” is worth it. No sign of that so far from their party.

“Widening Disparities In Infant Mortality And Life Expectancy Between Appalachia And The Rest Of The United States, 1990–2013” [Health Affairs]. “We compared infant mortality and life expectancy disparities in Appalachia to those outside the region during the period 1990–2013. We found that infant mortality disparities widened for both whites and blacks, with infant mortality 16 percent higher in Appalachia in 2009–13, and the region’s deficit in life expectancy increased from 0.6 years in 1990–92 to 2.4 years in 2009–13.”

News of the Wired

“Soon, Popper quit his job, moved to a smaller house*, and launched his own firm, SciFutures. Today, his network of a hundred or so authors writes customized stories for the likes of Visa, Ford, Pepsi, Samsung, and NATO. Popper calls their work ‘corporate visioning'” [New Yorker]. I’m sure this is a fascinating article, but I couldn’t bear to read on. Anyhow, Gibson has it covered.

“The Summer of Love/The Counter Culture: Toward an Intellectual History” [Society for US Intellectual History].

Hail Hydra! Mighty Hydra:

We shall never be destroyed! Cut off one limb, and two shall take its place! We serve none but the Master — as the world shall soon serve us!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allegic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (JG):

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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. Tim

    including average hourly earnings as an indicator did not provide a meaningful link between labor market conditions and wage growth.”

    That’s because just a few people make a bazillion dollars an hour and everybody else makes $7.50. When there are large absolute values averages no longer work, which is why house price statistics are median values not averages.

    If they just changed to a median hourly earnings instead of average the signals would work again.

    How stupid are these people at the Fed? Isn’t median vs average the most basic concept of statistics?

    And the irony is the Fed is the enabler of innequality for this condition to exist. Maybe it isn’t stupidity as much as absolute foolishness, and the direction from above, which makes them blind to obvious answers that they are paid not to understand.

    1. jsn

      You can’t manage what you don’t measure: if you can’t see the immiseration of labor, you can’t do anything about it. Seems to me that’s the goal.

  2. Linda

    Job Posting: Economics Reporter

    The Washington Post is looking for a writer to cover the national and global economy.

    This reporter will be responsible for writing news, enterprise and features about issues such as the changing labor market, the drivers of economic growth, trade and monetary policy. This writer will have responsibility for coverage of major economic news and key decisions by the Federal Reserve. But we are also looking for a reporter who can envision and produce enterprise stories, reported from Washington and around the country, exploring the human impact of economic policies and trends.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > writing news, enterprise and features

      That’s “writing news, enterprise, and features.”

      Or would be, if I could figure out what “writing … enterprise” might mean. Celebrity CEO puff pieces, like at the Times?

      1. Linda

        Google gave me a wiki page:

        Enterprise journalism is reporting that is not generated by news or a press release, but rather generated by a reporter or news organization based on developed sources.[1] Tied to “shoe-leather” reporting and “beat reporting,” enterprise journalism gets the journalist out of the office and away from the traditional news makers. It also enlists some of the traditional traits of good investigative reporting, such as reading documents.[2]

        Enterprise journalism does not involve reporting which is based purely on press releases or news conferences. On the other hand, this kind of reporting involves stories where a reporter unearths a story on his/her own; a lot of people refer to these as ‘scoops.’ The enterprise reporting goes ahead of just reporting events; it discovers the forces that shape such events.[3]

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s very helpful, but WaPo needs a copy editor. (Maybe they can hire one that the Times fired.)

          Because “writing enterprise” is meaningless, even if “writing enterprise journalism” is not.

          1. 3.14e-9

            More often than not, enterprise journalism is referred to in the newsroom simply as “enterprise.”


            The ad is for an experienced reporter, who will know what “writing enterprise” means. Stories for the general public about enterprise reporting tend to use the complete term. Even so, I doubt you’ll see anything about “writing enterprise journalism.” One can write enterprise stories or enterprise copy, but I don’t know how one goes about “writing journalism.”

            Just for the heck of it, I checked WaPo’s jobs board. Turns out, they are looking for a couple of editors. Somehow, I don’t think this is what you had in mind:


  3. John k

    IMO Bernie woulda won Fl…
    And many more… EV landslides are still possible for a real populist, problem is that both parties fight tooth and nail to keep them off. It’s not just dems would rather lose to a rep than win with a progressive, same is true with rep elites… they would have far preferred losing to Hillary than Bernie.

    Elite job 1: keep progressive from nom at all costs, they deathly fear the changes a progressive pres could make even without congressional support.

    1. Richard

      I tend to agree, and when politics gets into the whole red state/blue state divide, in the sense that we’re supposed to think is eternal, that’s when they lose me. Because #1, you need to look at the high% of gerrymandered districts and rotten boroughs out there. How many people never hear a genuine alternative; FFS how many people never get to choose at all because in their district the legislative seat is not seriously challenged? And #2, this idea gets pimped a lot by MM pundits with a long history of divide and conquer. Know your enemies, and their stories, well.

      1. Allegorio

        A democracy where the politicians choose their voters rather than the voters choose their politicians is no democracy. Just saying.

  4. jsn

    I couldn’t get behind the pay wall on the FT Facebook article. Does it suggest that Facebook, Google etc pay us for our personal data, maybe with royalties for each time they re-sell it? We get the same copy right protections they do?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I think I’d like the idea better if it weren’t Zuckerberg in charge. If Fleecebook ever did this, I’m sure billions more people would join the network – that’s way too much power for one guy who already has way too much power.

        Now if the network were nationalized and under community ownership, then using it to administer a UBI or for many other political purposes might be a decent idea if there were a way to secure the technology.

        Then you’d pretty much have the All Thing posited by Dan Simmons in his Hyperion series. Been a while since I read it but IIRC the author ultimately decided it was a really bad idea because the technology in the novels couldn’t be secured. Lots of great politics and technology in there for scifi fans plus it’s even pretty good literature, modeled on Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales.

  5. Ivy

    Re Pennsylvania story, there was an old New Yorker cartoon from decades ago where the judge looked down over the bench at the perp and said “Crime doesn’t pay, at least not at your level.”
    Who knew they were such good forecasters!

  6. Ivy

    Generic drugs are preferred thus far in our HMO, and getting any brand-name meds seems to require a lot of effort and extra expense. How long until we are pushed into only higher cost or nothing? Canadian pharmacies and such don’t help much in our case :(

  7. Gorgar Tilts

    Cook Map: That’s a bit wishful.

    Foxconn’s deals will put both WI and MI out of play except in the most gerrymandered areas.

    If Trump gets even a fraction of his infrastructure bill through, expect him to show up in Flint wearing a MAGA hardhat and driving a gold-plated bulldozer over an effigy of Michael Moore.

    A significant chunk of the left’s supposedly cooked-in demographic advantage is being deported. Added to this will be the purging of voter rolls once Kobach gets rolling. Finally, throw in the Alt Right’s voter suppression pranks, which helped Trump take PA last year.

    Trump will seek to nationalize the 2018 race. The Dems would be unwise to take that bait. Trump will not be running against the DNC but against MSM/Hollywood, which is giving him exactly what he wants, on a daily basis.

    The struggle between the DNC and the Sandernistas needs to needs to be brought to a resolution, pronto. This is going to force the first to take a hit in the wallet and the latter to take a hit in the youthful intersectional idealism.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Wanting single payer isn’t youthful idealism. It’s a matter of survival. This is why the Democratic party is dying. Blind loyalty to the jackass doesn’t win votes. You really need to give up your fantasy the party will go back to 2006.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Alt Right’s voter suppression pranks

      Link, please. So far as I can tell, the concepts behind all the “alt-” groupings are, at best, tendentious.

      > A significant chunk of the left’s supposedly cooked-in demographic advantage is being deported

      No numbers. Confusion between liberals and the left (“the coalition of the ascendant” is a liberal Democrat strategy. Granted, it’s ubiquitous, but the left isn’t driving it).

      > The struggle between the DNC and the Sandernistas needs to needs to be brought to a resolution

      Depends on who’s doing the needing. If this were going to happen, it would already have happened, and Ellison would be DNC chair.

  8. diptherio

    Re: The Misfortune of Marion Palm


    “Misfortune’s” titular character is a gifted woman from a working class background who didn’t complete higher education. She marries what she thinks is a Trust Fund Baby for the good life, only to find that the net worth of the Artistic Type doesn’t live up to hype. Palm works part-time as an under-appreciated accountant at a Brooklyn private school, where she steals to pay for her kids’ education and vacations to Europe, She then abandons them so the family won’t be dragged down with her.

    So, she’s an anti-hero? Marries for money and when that doesn’t work out, engages in theft to fund the lifestyle she wants, and then abandons her kids when she gets caught? Are we supposed to identify with her?

  9. jerry

    Interesting post on Michael hudsons site about share buybacks slowly running their course (as corporations buying back shares are the only thing left holding up the stock market). He is saying that as interest rates increase the companies will no longer be justified in spending the money on buybacks. I wonder if we will see a massive stock market sell-off as basically a reverse of the Fed’s QE policy since 2008 which enticed investors to put money into stocks in the first place. I would love to dump all my money into shorting the S&P, but there’s a couple issues with that.

    1. No guarantee that Fed will continue raising rates, as the economic data is continually sketchy and not justifying “strength in the economy” for higher rates. If they don’t then business (B.S.) will go on as usual in the stock market.

    2. Timing will be pretty tough, even if rates are slowly raised over years it will be difficult to say when exactly it stops making sense for the corporations to put money into it. Even in 2006/07 when fed funds rate was around 4-5% buybacks were exploding.

    Any thoughts? Article is here:


    1. Huey Long

      My only advice is to quote Garry Shilling:

      Above all, in 1993 remember this: Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent.


      As a fellow ursine investor I too want to short the S&P and haven’t because I’m not sure when the financial carnage is going to ensue. I’m all about chutzpah, just not with my Roth IRA. I take it easy when it comes to that!

    2. Jim Haygood

      Even if rates are slowly raised over years it will be difficult to say when exactly it stops making sense for the corporations to put money into it.

      No single fundamental factor including share buybacks (as important as they may be) is going to determine when Bubble III crests. Aside from receding central bank liquidity and share buybacks, a herd sentiment of flat-out mania probably will be needed to end a Bubble this big.

      If you recall the real estate mania of 2005 (when opening sales of new condos in Las Vegas attracted crowds of hundreds, fighting to put down deposits), or how the gold bugs roared on the Z site in late 2011 after $1,900/oz came and went (“I just LUVVVV these dips cuz I can stack mah precious higher!“), this is kind of the chest-pounding, purblind, logic-proof foolhardiness that prevails when things have gone too far.

      We’re almost there now, but not with the requisite full-throated intensity. Where is the Time magazine cover cosily proclaiming Why We’re Gaga Over Stocks? Subhead: How a Precocious 12-year-old turned tiny to trillions day-trading on her iPhone during lunch break. At the peak of a mania, even the outlandish becomes pedestrian.

      1. Allegorio

        Bernard Baruch was rumored to have liquidated his holdings before the ’29 crash when his shoeshine boy started giving him stock tips. I wonder how much old Bernie tipped his shoeshine boy for saving him from the crash?

  10. Carolinian

    This new Andrew Bacevich is chock full of well targeted observations.

    Yet the response to Donald Trump’s election, combining as it has fear, anger, bewilderment, disgust, and something akin to despair, qualifies as an upheaval without precedent. History itself had seemingly gone off the rails. The crude Andrew Jackson’s 1828 ousting of an impeccably pedigreed president, John Quincy Adams, was nothing compared to the vulgar Donald Trump’s defeat of an impeccably credentialed graduate of Wellesley and Yale who had served as first lady, United States senator, and secretary of state. A self-evidently inconceivable outcome — all the smart people agreed on that point — had somehow happened anyway.[…]

    For too long, the cult of the presidency has provided an excuse for treating politics as a melodrama staged at four-year intervals and centering on hopes of another Roosevelt or Kennedy or Reagan appearing as the agent of American deliverance. Donald Trump’s ascent to the office once inhabited by those worthies should demolish such fantasies once and for all.

    How is it that someone like Trump could become president in the first place? Blame sexism, Fox News, James Comey, Russian meddling, and Hillary’s failure to visit Wisconsin all you want, but a more fundamental explanation is this: the election of 2016 constituted a de facto referendum on the course of recent American history. That referendum rendered a definitive judgment: the underlying consensus informing U.S. policy since the end of the Cold War has collapsed. Precepts that members of the policy elite have long treated as self-evident no longer command the backing or assent of the American people. Put simply: it’s the ideas, stupid.



    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the election of 2016 constituted a de facto referendum on the course of recent American history. That referendum rendered a definitive judgment: the underlying consensus informing U.S. policy since the end of the Cold War has collapsed.

      I agree!

      > it’s the ideas, stupid

      I disagree. I think it’s people’s material circumstances: Wages and working conditions, bills (especially health care bills), the transition away from owning houses to renting them, falling life expectancy, losing children and relatives and family to opiods, etc. Everything you can’t see from the Acela (at least if you keep your head down passing through North Philly). I agree that people have ideas about their material circumstances, but the drivers are material.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      From the Bacevich piece:

      “Fourth, mandate a balanced federal budget, thereby demolishing the pretense that Americans need not choose between guns and butter.”

      :facepalm: and the piece rambles a bit but there’s some good insights there too.

    3. Carl Harrison

      Col. Bacevich was my Squadron Commander with the 3/11 Armored Cav back during Desert Storm. I had to respect him due to rank way back then, but reading him over the years has made me proud to have served under an such an honorable man, even if he is far more conservative than I. It helps assuage the guilt I have for serving the empire.

    4. Allegorio

      The American people could not help but notice the trillions spent on wars on behalf of foreign powers, while the country stagnated and the elites marinated in money while proposing austerity for the rest of us. This was a protest vote.

  11. Ralph Crown

    Years ago I used to follow this site. It stopped posting new stuff. Now I find it’s in operation again, but it’s gotten weird. Just like everything else.

        1. skippy

          Are you to say Lambert is a fashion model with insecurity issues, that responds well to agreeing with said insecurity, so Ralph can get laid – ?????

    1. Vatch

      Go to the site’s Home Page, and scroll to the bottom. Click on the “<– Older Entries" button, and scroll down again. Keep repeating the process, and you'll see that new articles have been published every day. Maybe you experienced a temporary interruption on the internet at some point, and then you stopped coming to the site. As for "weird", have you been paying attention to what's happening in Washington, D.C., recently?

  12. sid_finster

    Re: Pat Buchanan.

    The sooner everyone not an insider figures out that, yes, the fix is really in, and yes, no matter what we do, they will not let us win, the better.

  13. Altandmain

    Community college and Rhode Island?
    What do you think about RI and the strings for their “free” new community college?

    The Observer’s take on Howard Dean

    Disabilities and low pay

    I’m not a fan of Mother Jones, but this one is decent.

    Our Broken Economy

    NOt a fan of the NYT, but this image is worth looking at.

    Court overturns the Blackwater massacre in 2007 verdict

    On the Pat Buchanan piece

    Imagine for a moment if Sanders were President right now. The press would be going after him non-stop. It would be endless and probably even more aggressive than Trump. Trump they know they can bend to the will of the plutocrats. Sanders would not be giving tax cuts to the rich or anything along those lines. Quite the opposite.

  14. blennylips

    further and further down the rabbit hole…

    This weekend in Charlotte: The ‘Unite The Right’ Rally Is Going To Be A Turning Point For White Identity In America

    and this news appears real too:
    The Airbnb Blacklist

    That. Is. Stunning.

    Notice what Airbnb did. They ran background checks on these people, determined that they were going to a far-right political rally, and refused them accommodation. Not only did they refuse them accommodation at this particular event, they have blacklisted them forever.

    Airbnb is banning people trying to attend a white supremacist rally

    Airbnb Won’t Put a Roof Over the Heads of Nazis

    1. Tom

      They allegedly cross-referenced to facebook posts in order to provide “proof” that the individuals were in town to attend the rally. This does not appear to be an automated process as there is little in the way of integrated services between the two corporations for marketing or other less nefarious purposes.

      No, personnel at AirBNB manually looked through their customers’ posts to stifle the free expression of a particular group they don’t like.

      Readers of this site don’t need to be reminded that the “sharing economy” is largely a way to avoid regulation and impose corporate values on us, but it is amazing how brazen they have gotten. Glad I don’t work for Google!

  15. Livius Drusus

    Re: Why Germans pay cash for almost everything, I feel the same way as the Germans. Cash helps me to monitor my spending habits. I find that using cash keeps me from overspending. There is no worse feeling than seeing that your wallet is empty! Psychologically it is different from using a credit card.

    I think it is too easy to go ape with a credit card especially online, hence I try to limit my online spending to things I cannot find in traditional stores. Plus, I enjoy being able to physically inspect products and I like going out and interacting with people.

  16. John Merryman

    The essence of capitalism is competition, while the essence of socialism is cooperation. The problem is making an inseparable dichotomy into a philosophic grudge match. The same deep circularity is at the base of conservatism and liberalism, as well.
    If there was a philosophy and movement to relate these cycles of social expansion and civil and cultural consolidation, it would put a lot of one note political hucksters out of business.

  17. Oregoncharles

    “What we are proposing is the most difficult task in the history of the world. Nothing will ever be harder.” Not hyperbole. ”


    But I guess I agree; that’s why i think organizations like the DSA (which is losing any independence because of its strategy) or the Green Party are basically holding on by their fingernails, waiting impatiently for the day the public catches on.

    When the “scepter is rolling in the gutter”, it’s important that there be existent organizations to pick it up. And yes, this is the Marxist “cadre” idea – precisely what they did after the Russian Revolution. I’m hoping it can be done by non-violent organizations with a democratic commitment.

    I do not think it will be a gradual process, even though there are signs developing, like the precipitous fall in “affinity” with the estwhile major parties and their display of obvious decadence.

  18. Kim Kaufman

    re Kamala Harris:

    Dehumanization by Deification: On Kamala Harris and “Black Women Will Save Us”


    My introduction to the politics of Kamala Harris came from the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP) and other sex worker organizations and activists in the wake of the federal shutdown of Backpage’s adult section in January. Backpage was a website that a number of sex workers used to advertise and screen potential clients. The closure and federal persecution of Backpage, Rentboy.com, and other similar online spaces meant that escorts and other sex workers were denied the ability to conduct their work with the degree of safety that comes with the virtual separation of workers and their would-be clients. As a newly elected California senator, Harris praised the shutdown of the adult section; previously, as California Attorney General, Harris repeatedly sued Backpage alleging that the website was profiting in the sex trafficking (and slapping its CEO, Carl Ferrer, with a pimping charge).

    Despite arguments by sex workers that the closure of online work spaces would be harmful to them, Harris, like many others, claimed to support sex workers while actively making their lives more difficult: her prosecutorial logic deliberately conflated voluntary sex work and sex trafficking in a way that was indistinguishable from the rhetorics of sex work abolitionists and sex work exclusionary feminists (SWERFs). Her carceral justifications for these criminalizations were complementary to the outright anti-poor, anti-Black, anti-queer and trans attacks from the present administration and their material implications for sex workers. Yet Harris has swiftly been elevated as a kind of progressive feminist hero injecting new life into the party purporting to stand in stark ideological opposition to the one currently dominating most of the American government.

    Harris has also been heavily criticized for her support for civil asset forfeiture (via her 2015 sponsorship of legislation seeking to battle transnational organized crime and meth trafficking) and her office’s refusal to expand early parole programs because the state would lose part of its heavily subsidized inmate labor force (she later claimed to be “shocked” that her department’s lawyers made this argument)…

    The Left’s Misguided Debate Over Kamala Harris
    My article about a bank’s law-breaking during the housing crisis became a political football, obscuring the real issue at hand.
    By David Dayen

    Let’s recognize that no public official in this country, from Barack Obama on down, covered themselves in glory during the foreclosure crisis; to say that Harris failed to prosecute bankers is simply to say that she was a public official with authority over financial services fraud in the Obama era.

      1. John k

        Good discussion. Maybe some bits of Msm are returning to normal.
        Consider that prosecuting bankers would make the prosecutor an instant hero. So how big are the bribes?

    1. Darius

      Smart, innovative, entrepreneurial, intersectional, smells of untreated sewage. Very 21st Century.

    2. RUKidding

      Thanks for the articles. The left diefies Kamala Harris, and is, as usual, very misguided to put it very kindly and mildly.

      I didn’t vote for her for Senator. I forget who I voted for; can’t remember if there was a Green candidate or not.

      This is helpful info, as I’ve tried to explain to people why I dislike Harris so much. Of course, she’s a woman who’s in the “right” place at the “right” time and has the “right” backing and money rolling in. I’m sure she’ll do very well… for herself, as is the case in politics these days.

      I had forgotten about her going after sex workers, as indicated above, but now that I’m reminded, it has had some notice out here on the left coast. Particularly galling is her conflating sex workers with sex trafficking, esp as there are some really huge issues with sex trafficking in CA. But going after BackPage and Rentboy are not going to help the victims of sex trafficking, nor are they going to help sex workers – who are never ever going away – to be safer. Nor is it going to really do anyone any good, but I guess it jacked up her conviction rate, or whatever brass ring that Harris was going for.

      An easy “win” for her, while she lets the bankers get away with the REAL crimes. But tsk tsk the sex workers are shameful, sinful and must be punished. Or something.

      Score another “win” for the “New Democrats.” is this now third way? or fourth way? Or maybe Harris should just run as GOP. Ooops, wrong skin tone. My mistake. She’s certainly greedy and corrupt enough for either party.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        It is an interesting view on the mindset of the Democratic courtier class. They are trying the Hillary schedule with a person who doesn’t have a loyal following. Obama had a relatively organic following.

        Instead of trying to introduce Harris as a leader on relatively safe neoliberal positions, they are simply demanding loyalty. It’s bizarre. I know the Clintonistas aren’t the brightest group but still.

        Given Hillary’s weakness with Goldman, the optics of pushing Harris immediately after her Hamptons trip is out there.

  19. John

    This is an older Jacobin article that I just came across, but it’s a great one and I think deserves a link here after the discussion the other day on the possibility of a constitutional convention.

    Abolish the Senate

    The Senate and Electoral College are anti-democratic institutions that were designed to insulate government from the power of the people in order to protect the interests of the wealthy property-owners that wrote the Constitution. Progress will be extremely difficult as long as they remain because of the great deal of power they arbitrarily give to the GOP. I’d like to see the Democratic Party implode, but things won’t get any better until we can free ourselves from the stranglehold the Republicans have on this country.

    1. Darius

      Questionable constitutionality. May require the assent of all 50 states. It may be easier to take away their power. Say the House can pass bills blocked by the Senate with a second vote. Give appointments confirmation, treaty ratification to the House.

      Still, it doesn’t address the extreme vulnerability of the House to gerrymandering in a first-past-the-post electoral system.

  20. UserFriendly

    Re Skelton in MO….. That insanely right wing district that democrats haven’t contested since it was drawn…. (MO Lower 50) was won by Claire McCaskill for senate 48.7% to 43.3% and Jay Nixon for Governor 49.3% to 47.2% in 2012. The feckless dems just are too pathetic to even bother trying to win state house races. There are another 50 seats in MO alone won by McCaskill with GOP house reps. (I didn’t look how many were contested)

    1. johnnygl

      Geez…if claire McCaskill can win them, you’d figure they MUST be easily persuaded to join team dem.

      When lambert says dems don’t want those voters…i used to think he was being hyperbolic. Nope, he was being quite literal. I hadn’t realized just how much of the country the dem party simply abandoned entirely.

      It’s really crazy that a party that can dump $2bn or so on the presidency can’t be bothered to maintain even the basic kinds of party infrastructure in a lot of places.

      I think yves made the point awhile back that the party was reoriented to win the presidency and little else. Funny how the economic policy they’ve pursued seems to have similar results to their policy on campaign tactics and party infrastructure.

  21. Democrita

    The Green Party has ten times the membership of the DSA. I suspect the robust media interest stems in part from a higher degree of co-optability in the latter– or at least the perception thereof. Of course, Greens haven’t been especially effective, so maybe these DSA types can do better.

  22. cm

    Yet more abysmal behavior from Uber:

    If you have followed my twitter account since December, you might know that I was robbed by my Uber driver. He intentionally drove off with my backpack containing my brand new $2,000 laptop, a bunch of marketing stuff, my medicine, second cell phone, some clothes, and pretty much everything important I owned. Seven months later, the situation has finally been resolved. I wanted to give everyone on the internet a rundown of what happened so they can hopefully prevent this happening to them, and if so you will know the steps I took to get back what was taken from me (kind of).

      1. cm

        Not my story… I don’t know if the behavior of blockquote has changed — previously it used to indent???

  23. Darius

    Delighted to see DSA jump on the opportunities presented by the current chaos. Recently joined them.

    One question though. What is a socialist? I want full employment. Like Lambert, I also want direct material benefits. Also, tax the rich.

    I’m not interested in revolution as an end. I support a mixed public and private economy. If I want to open a bakery, I shouldn’t have to fit it into a national five-year plan.

    Most think of Marx when asked about socialist thinkers. Are there other thinkers more approachable and actionable?

    Recently, I saw a comment that socialism was responsible for Stalin’s and Mao’s carnage. Surely they are not the face of democratic socialism. What about Bernie and Corbyn?

    1. BDBlue

      9 questions about the DSA Not normally a vox fan, but Stein did good work on the healthcare debate. Here, he answers questions about what democratic socialists believe. Mostly it involves the de-commodification of necessities like healthcare, housing, etc., and the democratization of other workplaces, where the focus isn’t on the accumulation of capital.

    2. nick

      Don’t know about you but right now most of the stuff my chapter does is fairly anodyne, if I must admit. Even in the larger or more active chapters I think the actual activities don’t look to revolutionary.

      Just a lot of energy in there right now, which makes it a good place to be IMO. Plenty of time to get off the bus later, if need be.

    1. kilgore Trout

      And Tribe once aspired to the Supreme Court. Maybe that’s still his plan. Working for Peabody Coal: a plus in Trump’s view. If Trump were into triangulation, he could nominate Tribe for the next opening. If the Dems were to manage to take back the House and Senate (unlikely right now),he’d be a sure thing– the Dems would wet themselves in their zeal to put him on the court. And he’d fit right into Kennedy’s seat.

  24. dcblogger

    The first is the DSA’s model for organizing its ground troops. The Sanders campaign used a combination of apps like Slack, virtual call centers and online forums to quickly convert rank-and-file volunteers into organizers who then become responsible for their own, new network of volunteers.

    you need the right accessories for this revolution. so almost no one in my neighborhood would be included. The great thing about using email is that it is accessible to those who rely on the public library computer for their communications.

  25. allan

    Just before he went fire and fury on DPRK, DJT said this about drug prosecutions:

    … At the end of 2016, there were 23 percent fewer federal prosecutions than in 2011., so they looked at this surge [of overdoses] and they let it go by. We’re not letting it go by. The average sentence for a drug offender decreased 20 percent from 2009 to 2016 …

    Fix the opioid crisis by longer sentencing. Makes sense. Definitely another solid for the back row kids.

    1. RUKidding

      Trump’s just imitating Nancy Reagan’s failed “Just say no” campaign. Useless in terms of really doing anything about the massive opiod crisis happening now. Does sweet eff all for Trump’s alleged base in the so-called heartland.

      But yes: a yuuuuge win for the Prison Industrial Complex by ramming those hapless minority citizens into jail or worse. Just what bigoted racist white supremacist Trump & his Keebler elf AG Sessions can’t wait to do.


  26. 3.14e-9

    Re: How America Lost Its Mind

    I thought NC readers would have a field day with the Kurt Andersen excerpt, but maybe, like me, they don’t even know where to start.

    Without reading the whole book, it’s hard to know for sure, but my impression after reading the excerpt in The Atlantic is that Andersen does exactly what he denigrates two-thirds of the American population for. He places himself among the one-third minority he contends are rational thinkers and yet doesn’t recognize that what he calls fact-based reality is the view from his window:

    We [i.e., Americans] are “still rich and free, still more influential and powerful than any other nation, practically a synonym for developed country. But our drift toward credulity, toward doing our own thing, toward denying facts and having an altogether uncertain grip on reality, has overwhelmed our other exceptional national traits and turned us into a less developed country.”

    Putting that together with the statement right before it, “almost nowhere outside poor or otherwise miserable countries are flamboyant supernatural beliefs so central to the identities of so many people,” one might reasonably conclude that Andersen’s window on reality is a pinhole.

    Without reading the whole book, I also can’t tell whether he’s as chauvinistic (original meaning) as he appears to be. America, as we’re being constantly reminded these days, is a “nation of immigrants.” While no one would deny that our history and the land itself influenced our cultural attitudes and beliefs, we didn’t start with a blank slate.

    Speaking of which, he is entirely incorrect that Esalen invented the “New Age” movement. Both the term and the concept date back to the late 1800s with the spiritualist movement in Europe. “Developed,” perhaps. But “invented?” Not even.

    Lastly, it’s ironic that Andersen ascribes much of the “magical thinking” among Trump supporters to Christianity, when his article is the first of the “most popular links” beneath the story about the religious Hillary we never knew.

  27. Lunker Walleye

    Kurt Andersen? One of the co-editors of Spy magazine? Someplace in the deep recesses of the basement, we own a magazine with Hill on the cover. Her skirt is blowing up to show the jockey shorts she is wearing. In deference to the family rating here, it would be inappropriate to discuss package size.

      1. Lunker Walleye

        C’est ça! Thanks for finding it, 3.14e-9. The internet basement is full of dusty treasures.

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