2:00PM Water Cooler 9/26/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente


“The Trump administration may fail to meet its own previously stated goal of having all text presented by the end of this month if, as expected, it refrains from offering proposals this round on four hot-button issues: dairy market access, auto rules of origin, investor-state dispute settlement and Chapter 19. But even so, negotiators from Ottawa and Washington alike were upbeat on Monday that talks were moving ahead quickly” [Politico]. “Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also brushed off questions about the lack of U.S. proposals on tricky areas, telling reporters at the Canadian Parliament that ‘it is very typical — standard practice — in any trade negotiation to work on the less-contentious issues to begin with.'”

“[T]he Trump administration is expected to put its labor proposal on the negotiating table today in Ottawa, but it’s already getting pushback from lawmakers and labor groups who say it does little to improve Mexico’s poor labor conditions and low wages” [Politico]. “[Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.)], who was in Ottawa over the weekend for the start of the third round of NAFTA talks, said many in the labor movement were urging U.S. negotiators not to put the proposal on the table. As it stands now, it largely mirrors what the U.S. had put forward in Trans-Pacific Partnership talks, Levin said. ‘Without dramatic change occurring before voting on a revised NAFTA, I believe there will be virtually no Democratic support in Congress,’ he said during the event.”


2016 Post Mortem

“Russian operatives used Facebook ads to exploit America’s racial and religious divisions” [WaPo]. Unlike FOX… More:

The batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African American rights groups, including Black Lives Matter, and others suggesting that these same groups pose a rising political threat, say people familiar with the covert influence campaign.

If I didn’t have more confidence in editorial integrity at the Jeff Bezos shopper, I’d call that a back-handed smear of Black Lives Matter. Maybe we could talk a little more about squillionaire meddling, and a little less about the demon Russkis? Since the former spend millions, and the latter squillions?

Health Care

“Sen. Susan Collins says ‘no’ to Graham-Cassidy bill, essentially killing Obamacare repeal” [USA Today]. “Republicans, with 52 seats in the Senate, can lose just two votes and still pass the bill introduced by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., Bill Cassidy, R-La., Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Ron Johnson, R-Wis.” McCain + Paul + Collins = 3, with Cruz attempting to extract concessions.

“The Latest: Analysis says lots of states lose on health bill” [San Francisco Chronicle]. “A new analysis finds that 34 states and Washington, D.C., would lose money under the newest version of the Republican health care bill. This is despite last-minute changes to the legislation. Overall, states would get $205 billion less in federal health care money from 2020-2026, according to the analysis from consulting firm Avalere Health, which was released Tuesday.” Oopsie.

“‘If there’s a billion more going to Maine. . .that’s a heck of a lot,’ Cassidy said. ‘It’s not for Susan, it’s for the Mainers. But she cares so passionately about those Mainers, I’m hoping those extra dollars going to her state. . .would make a difference to her'” [Bangor Daily News]. Wow, is that tone deaf. And Cassidy must think “Susan” is pretty stupid–

“The painful reality for Cassidy is that even after revisions he and Graham announced yesterday, which redistributed federal block grant funding for states to better equalize their allotments, wasn’t enough. Collins wasn’t convinced the measure would be good for her state, even after a call from the president yesterday afternoon. Maine would still have lost federal funding overall via cuts to the regular Medicaid program, Collins noted as she announced her intention to vote against the measure” [WaPo]. So Cassidy’s “billion more” is from the baseline of his bill, and his bill still nets out negative for Maine, as Collins must have seen immediately. Was Cassidy really expecting Collins to fall for this?

“It was Sanders, however, who took full advantage of the national audience to articulate a position on health care that was more nuanced than his critics—both Democrats and Republicans—often attribute to him. Some Democrats had feared the Vermont independent would allow Graham to goad him into a debate over single payer when the party needed him to focus on defeating the Republican repeal bill” [The Atlantic]. I like that Sanders — unlike liberal Democrats — can walk and chew gum at the same time. That said, what “the party needs” — if “party” be conceived of as representing voters, and not strategists, apparatchiks, and donors — #MedicareForAll is exactly what the party needs. Since ObamaCare won’t provide complete coverage, and won’t control costs, liberal Democrats who embrace it are embracing a corpse, as time will show.

“One big looming deadline has been motivating Republicans’ probably doomed push to repeal Obamacare this week: September 30. On that date — this Saturday — Congress’s current “budget reconciliation” instructions, which set up the special process that lets the Senate advance a bill with a simple majority rather than 60 votes, expire” [Vox]. ” it’s long been thought in Washington that the GOP would finally take this as an excuse to accept defeat on health care and pivot instead to prioritizing a tax reform bill.” Then again, they can write a new budget resolution.

Trump Transition

“Trump has been great for the economy. The anti-Trump economy, that is.” [WaPo]. “These are boom times for the anti-Trump industrial complex. Fundraising is through the roof for lefty organizations that hadn’t been relevant since the Clinton era; the grass roots have never been greener for new activist groups; and political hacks may be sexier than ever. A clique of former Obama speechwriters with a sideline in #Resistance podcasting is selling out 6,000-person concert halls; Rob Reiner, the director of “Spinal Tap,” has teamed up with James R. Clapper Jr., the former director of national intelligence, to found the Committee to Investigate Russia; and liberal activists recently surpassed the Guinness world record for the most people on, yes, a conference call.” Rob Reiner and James Clapper. Wowsers. What a time to be alive.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments” [SSRN]. The abstract:

Significant theories of democratic accountability hinge on how political campaigns affect Americans’ candidate choices. We argue that the best estimate of the effects of campaign contact and advertising on Americans’ candidates choices in general elections is zero. First, a systematic meta-analysis of 40 field experiments estimates an average effect of zero in general elections. Second, we present nine original field experiments that increase the statistical evidence in the literature about the persuasive effects of personal contact 10-fold. These experiments’ average effect is also zero. In both existing and our original experiments, persuasive effects only appear to emerge in two rare circumstances. First, when candidates take unusually unpopular positions and campaigns invest unusually heavily in identifying persuadable voters. Second, when campaigns contact voters long before election day and measure effects immediately—although this early persuasion decays. These findings contribute to ongoing debates about how political elites influence citizens’ judgments.

From the body:

Our evidence is silent on several questions. It does not speak to the effects of candidates’ qualities, positions, or overall campaign “message.” It does not indicate the optimal allocation of campaign spending across voter registration, get-out-the-vote, and persuasion efforts. It also remains possible campaigns could develop more effective persuasive messages. Future experimental research should consider these questions..

(I’d be interested in any assessments readers have of the methodology.) It’s interesting to note that the billion Clinton spent went to advertising and campaign contact, whose effects is said to be zero. And the Democrat Party, institutionally, does not regard voter registration or GOTV as a core party function. Of course, advertising provides commissions to consultants….

“L’affaire Fetonte: How an Austin union organizer’s work with CLEAT created a schism in America’s burgeoning socialist movement” [AustinAmerican-Statesman]. NC readers have been following the Fetonte story for some time, but now it’s in the papers. “In early August, at a high-spirited national convention of the Democratic Socialists of America in Chicago, Fetonte was elected to the DSA’s National Policy Committee. Barely a month later, on Sept. 8, Fetonte quit not just the NPC but the DSA altogether, after a vitriolic campaign to remove him from the NPC because of his role as a union organizer and negotiator working with CLEAT – the Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas, a police union – and his failure to make that association clear in his campaign materials… I have met Danny Fetonte and his wife, Barbara, a few times since I’ve been here, mostly connected to their role in igniting the Sanders campaign in Austin even before he was a candidate.”

Case for the Fetonte defense:

A learning organization:

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, September 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth district expanded for the eleventh consecutive month in September” [Econoday]. “The unexpected strength exceeded the range of analysts’ forecasts and the consensus of a slight decline to 13. Driving the upsurge in activity in September were shipments, which rose 14 points to a reading of 22, the highest level since December 2010.” And: “The Richmond Fed subcategories were positive, The data seems similar to last month” [Econintersect].

Consumer Confidence, September 2017: “Weakness in the hurricane states of Texas and Florida pulled down consumer confidence to 119.8 in September, a level however that is still unusually strong” [Econoday]. “But this report is about strength and despite the hurricane-related downtick in September, the data continue to speak to unusual demand in the labor market and the health of the consumer.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, September 2017: “Global institutional investor appetite for equities continued to wane in September” [Econoday]. “The month’s sentiment shifts shows risk appetites in the global regions converging, with Europe still the most risk averse though reviving and Asia moving above the neutral level into net buyer mode, both on the back of improved economic conditions. While the appetite for equities still remains strongest in North America, it is curbed by geopolitical concerns and the possible economic drag of higher interest rates following the Fed’s decision to trim its $4.5 trillion portfolio.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, July 2017: “Case-Shiller home prices firmed in July, to a 0.3 percent adjusted gain for the 20-city index. The trend is favorable with the year-on-year rate rising 2 tenths to an unadjusted 5.8 percent and in line with other home price readings which are also roughly at the 6 percent rate” [Econoday]. Leading the list continues to be Seattle, at 13.5 percent, with Portland lagging in 2nd place at 7.6 percent. Tail-enders continue to be Chicago and Washington DC, both at 3.4 percent, with Cleveland and New York City only slightly less weak. Home prices are a principal source of growth in household wealth along with stock prices and much less so for wages.” Homes are not wealth, dammit. Nor are houses. And: “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers” [Econintersect].

New Home Sales, August 2017: “Weakness in the South pulled down new home sales in August as it did in last week’s existing home sales report” [Econoday]. “New home sales fell sharply in the month to a 560,000 annualized rate vs an upward revised rate of 580,000 in July and a downward revised 614,000 in June (revisions total a net minus 7,000)…. Builders, despite late month disruptions in the South, moved houses into the market, up 12,000 to 284,000 for a striking 17.8 percent yearly gain that hints at a glut. But supply had been so thin that the balance is now at a traditional level…. Hurricane effects are likely in the next report for September with the South to continue to suffer. But today’s data do mark a shift, one of softening sales nationally, which is a short-term weakness, and a rebalancing in supply which is long-term strength. Yet for the 2017 economy, the housing sector looks to be ending the year in weakness, some of it hurricane related.” And but: “This month the backward revisions were mixed, but the rolling averages significantly declined” [Econintersect]. “Still this month was better than last month which was terrible. This data series is suffering from methodology issues which manifest as significant backward revision.” More: “Another way to look at this is a ratio of existing to new home sales. This ratio was fairly stable from 1994 through 2006, and then the flood of distressed sales kept the number of existing home sales elevated and depressed new home sales. (Note: This ratio was fairly stable back to the early ’70s, but I only have annual data for the earlier years)” [Calculated Risk]. “In general the ratio has been trending down since the housing bust, and this ratio will probably continue to trend down over the next several years.”

Apartment Vacancy Rate: “The vacancy rate had been mostly moving sideways for the last few years. However it appears the vacancy rate has bottomed and is starting to increase. With more supply coming on line later this year and next – and less favorable demographics – the vacancy rate will probably continue to increase slowly” [Calculated Risk].

Shipping: “Pitney Bowes, recently unveiled its second-ever ParcelShipping Index, revealing a 48 percent growth in parcel volume over the past two years, and estimating annual growth to continue to rise at a rate of 17-28 percent YOY between now and 2021. The study results indicate rising consumer expectations surrounding online shopping are putting pressure on retailers to deliver on convenience, price, and the availability of products from around the world” [Pitney-Bowes].

Shipping: “Labor tensions in expedited transport are heating up as the fall shipping season gets underway. Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings Inc. is accusing unionized pilots of causing ‘widespread and significant’ flight delays with a work slowdown…. The freighter operator, which this year struck a jet-leasing and investment deal with Amazon.com Inc., is asking a court to order the Teamsters union to end what Atlas says is an illegal job action that includes last-minute sick calls and refusal to work overtime” [Wall Street Journal]. “The dispute is similar to one last year between pilots and Air Transport Services Group Inc., another cargo flier that works closely with Amazon. The airlines and their customers—including United Parcel Service Inc., Deutsche Post AG’s DHL and FedEx Corp. —are trying to meet increasingly tough delivery demands that come with the growth in e-commerce. The online sales are pushing out more packages, but the labor unease suggests they’re also adding strains to expedited networks.”

Supply Chain: “Consumer disappointment with Apple Inc.’s new iPhone offerings is weighing on the shares of key component makers in Asia…, signaling that concerns over supplier earnings are rising as hopes for a boost from Apple’s flagship device are fading. Confidence in companies linked to Apple’s supply chain had been riding high. But that excitement has given way to some disappointment and criticism of the new devices, and production glitches that have led to shipment delays have added to the problems” [Wall Street Journal]. “The troubles mark a rare stumble in an Apple supply chain known for its precision in linking suppliers of high-value parts and contract manufacturers. Apple has a long reach in the electronics world, of course, but the impact of the new iPhones wasn’t what suppliers were expecting.”

The Bezzle: “Bank customers fork over $15 billion in fees” [CNBC]. “Almost half of Americans who’ve had a checking account have been charged an overdraft fee at some point. In fact, the average consumer overdrafts more than twice a year and coughs up $35 in fees each time, according to a study released Tuesday by personal finance website NerdWallet.”

The Bezzle: Ka-ching:

The Bezzle: “After breach, Equifax CEO [Richard Smith] leaves with $18 million pension, and possibly more” [MarketWatch]. “Identity theft can cost consumers hundreds of dollars and take years to clear up.” Maybe Smith could put his $18 million into a fund to compensate them.

The Bezzle: “Zombie fleet swells as scammers fake registrations” [Splash 247]. “undreds of vessels around the world are essentially trading as a zombie fleet with scams growing when it comes to registering ships, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) has warned. [Frederick Kenney, director of the legal and external affairs division at the IMO] reported how around 10 flag states had revealed they had ships on their books that they had no idea about, registered from fake offices. As an example, he cited the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which had 90 ships flying its flag that it had not officially registered.”

The Bezzle: “Uber threatens to leave Quebec if province insists on stricter rules” [CBC]. “Transport Minister Laurent Lessard agreed to renew that pilot project Friday, but with stricter conditions including a requirement that drivers undergo 35 hours of training, the same amount as traditional taxi drivers. [Uber director Jean-Nicolas Guillemette] said Uber wasn’t consulted about the changes, which they consider to be major, and that the requirement is too much for drivers who only work part time.” So, I’m crossing the street with a taxi bearing down on me, and if the driver’s a part-timer, they’ll have less training?

The Fed: “Fed’s Bostic, in first speech, says he’s skeptical of common excuses for low inflation” [MarketWatch]. “Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic displayed an independent streak in his first speech with the central bank on Tuesday, saying he was skeptical of the common arguments that technology and competition are behind recent weaker-than-expected inflation readings. ‘The book is still being written on how well various explanations of lower-than-desired inflation hold up,’ Bostic said in a speech to the Atlanta Press Club.”

Five Horsemen: “How the mighty have fallen in Tech Wreck II. Amazon has underperformed the S&P 500 index (SPY) since April 26th” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Sep 26

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 65, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 81 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 26 at 12:07pm.


“To Wipe Out Corruption, Look to Philadelphia” [Governing]. A headline I never expected to see! “The “Philly shrug” is a local term referring to the grudging way in which residents have been willing to put up with malfeasance….. But [Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams] is the first city official convicted or even charged since 2008. What that shows is that the local culture has started to change. Following a pay-to-play scandal in the early 2000s, Philadelphia created an ethics board that actually has some teeth. In addition, the city inspector general’s office has been strengthened. Most people working in local government now have a firm sense of what’s allowed and what’s not.”

Class Warfare

“PROPELLED: THE EFFECTS OF GRANTS ON GRADUATION, EARNINGS, AND WELFARE” (PDF) [NBER]. “We estimate the effect of grant aid on poor college students’ attainment and earnings using student-level administrative data from four-year public colleges in Texas. To identify these effects, we exploit a discontinuity in grant generosity as a function of family income. Eligibility for the maximum Pell Grant significantly increases degree receipt and earnings beginning four years after entry. Within ten years, imputed taxes on eligible students’ earnings gains fully recoup total government expenditures generated by initial eligibility.”

News of the Wired

“How to Be Diplomatic” [The Book of Life]. “Diplomacy is the art of advancing an idea or cause without unnecessarily inflaming passions or unleashing a catastrophe. It involves an understanding of the many facets of human nature that can undermine agreement and stoke conflict, and a commitment to unpicking these with foresight and grace.”

“The Black Sea Maritime Project (MAP)—a two-year investigation of Bulgaria’s Black Sea waters—involved local and international experts who found 60 previously lost shipwrecks spanning 2,500 years in the history of a coastline that has been port to many of Europe’s major empires” [Newsweek].

“Meet Shadowsocks, the underground tool that China’s coders use to blast through the Great Firewall” [Quartz]. “Leo Weese, a Hong Kong-based privacy advocate, likens VPNs to a professional freight forwarder, and Shadowsocks to having a package shipped to a friend who then re-addresses the item to the real intended recipient before putting it back in the mail. The former method is more lucrative as a business, but easier for authorities to detect and shut down. The latter is makeshift, but way more discreet.”

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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 allergic 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 (Ezra):

Ezra writes: “I previously sent you a picture of a callaloo. That plant has mysteriously vanished, presumably to fuel the vile lusts of the squirrels and skunks of Redwall. Fortunately, there is another. Here it is the with some black-eyed Susans. It’s done quite well with little attention and I’ve been using the leaves in sandwiches, stews, and stir-frys.”

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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. Tertium Squid

    What doesn’t add up for me is supposed reduced ratings for football over the weekend. That’s the opposite of how our hype media culture works. If Trump is really moving the needle on the flag thing, ratings should have been through the roof with will-they-or-won’t-they interest.

    Maybe there were a ton of people who tuned in for the national anthem and left immediately after and the ratings aren’t sophisticated to pick that up, or maybe people can’t be bothered with something so old fashioned as television anymore and relied on appified means of finding out what happened. After all, you can see it on twitter almost as fast as it happens, and it takes no bother to do so.

    Or maybe Trump’s reach isn’t that big, and interest in the controversy is confined to self-contained canisters of online outrage?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m not sure what Trump is trying to distract from with all this, but I’d bet whatever the heck is going on with Puerto Rico (perhaps dismemberment by the owners of Puerto Rico’s debt…)

      1. Kim Kaufman

        Yesterday I was sure Trump’s nutty attacks was all about keeping the unpopular ACA nonsense quiet, which is, at best, only a means to their tax reform to advantage the rich. Radio show Marketplace led off with tax reform speculation story. When Collins said no later in the day, I abandoned that theory. Maybe this is all about avoiding Puerto Rico. I expect the vultures are divvying up the island amongst themselves right about now for future “growth.” And it doesn’t include rescuing anyone.

      2. Jess

        Speaking of Puerto Rico, just got off the phone with a long-time friend who is Puerto Rican and still has many relatives living there. She had, in turn, just gotten off the phone with her mother who says they are without clean water, no power, 9 hour wait in line for gas. This has all been in the news, so not really new. However, she reports that the PR rain forest is gone. Just gone. So is almost all vegetation on the island, and what isn’t gone is badly damaged. This had grave long-term consequences for erosion, flooding, soil retention, crops, etc.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Yes, I saw the satellite photos: the island turned brown. A catastrophe, especially for crops, but a caveat: the island and most of those plants have been through this before. Most of it will grow back, unless it uprooted. The forest recovery after St. Helens blew was a scientific gold mine; I’m guessing Puerto Rico will be similar (looking relentlessly on the bright side) – if the researchers can even operate there.

      3. Oregoncharles

        What’s the security on that debt? Because it seems to me it all just blew or floated away. I’d say they lost their investment – bu tmaybe I’m naive about these things.

              1. Filiform Radical

                The silver coins in question would be denarii; the golden coins called aurei were worth 25 denarii a pop.

              2. Wukchumni

                You’d much rather have the 4 than the 100, as high technology came along and the Romans figured out how to silver wash copper coins to give them the appearance of being silver. Eventually the ratio went to around 3,000 denarii equaling 1 aureus.

                You ever wonder why alchemy was so hotly pursued?

                They kind of pulled it off with silver, you see.

                1. Wukchumni

                  As luck would have it, that ratio of bad money driving out good is not dissimilar to the valuation of our money from 1795 to 1933 as compared to today in current paper dollars.

                  An ounce of the precious is $1300, or 65x as much as it’s previous value for a 138 year span.

                  Whereas it took 120x as many denarii to do it back @ the height of the Roman Empire falling apart back then.

                  But, it makes for an interesting comparison, no?

                  So, there were actual silver denarii from the older times still around, and the only way to distinguish them from the silver washed ones, was to do what was called a ‘test cut’ to make sure the inside wasn’t brown, and oftentimes you’ll see a denarius with multiple test cuts, testifying that people really really wanted to make sure they were getting the real deal.

                  Here’s one:


                  Oh, if they’d only had paper money or cybercash instead…

          1. MDBill

            And a little further on at Matthew 18:34,

            In anger his master handed him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

            Nice. /s

    2. lyman alpha blob

      The US hit peak football a year or two ago and has been on the downswing for a variety of reasons, well before Trump opened up his piehole the other day.

      Not only are ratings down, but so is participation in football among high school kids by a fairly significant amount.

      I suspect it’s at least partly due to people not wanting to have their brains turned to mush.

      1. joe defiant

        It’s also due to the significant increase in commercials. It’s about 2 hours and 45 minutes of commercials and 11 minutes of actual football in an average game. It has gotten progressively worse to the point now it’s unwatchable. This year they even added more commercials by going to this split screen view where they still show the field on half the screen and a commercial with audio on the other half.

        Wall St Journal did an article about this but it’s behind the paywall. Here is another version:

        1. Dale

          “…they even added more commercials by going to this split screen view where they still show the field on half the screen and a commercial with audio on the other half. ”

          Right. And they’ve figured out how to insert Home Depot or some company into almost every replay…accompanied by a swooshing sound.

          It’s overwhelming. A similar thing is happening to my newspaper articles from Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico. An ad covers half the article, sometimes it’s flashing; this causes the page to load very slowly or not at all. I’ve been reduced to reading one or two lines at a time between ads hopping around like jackrabbits. It gives me a headache.

          This may be a dumb question or suggestion, but why hasn’t an enterprising techie tried (perhaps they have) to bundle multiple news services under a single subscription like cable service?

          1. NotTimothyGeithner


            For context:


            Lorne Michaels said this wasn’t funny which is why it was pulled. Yes, the Lorne Michaels who still slaps his name on SNL for the last 10 to 20 years.

            Our news media outlets are glorified PR subsidiaries of larger corporations. Providing information for the citizens of a republic is not the goal of these companies.

          2. Ned

            What ads?
            Use the free Firefox browser.
            Ad Block Plus ad on, in addition, there’s an ad blocker for Youtube videos.

            End of problem.

            Send money, cash or checks, to your favorite websites that you read regularly. It’s the right thing to do.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        After Mark Cuban’s predicted implosion, I hope they will convert those football stadiums into community vegetable gardens.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m pretty sure they’ll be converted into miniature golf courses, so the MPGA can have tournaments there, Fore!

  2. joe defiant

    The free software movement is one of the best examples of anarchism and ethical business practices in the technological industry. To me it shows how we can still be innovative, productive, and create useful technology outside of capitalism. Yesterday people were discussing Ubuntu here and I posted an article about it’s privacy and ethical issues. Rather than following these “dispruptive” or “sharing” tehcnologies that the technocrats cloak in leftist terminology we have our own examples of how to be innovative and creative while keeping our idealism and principles intact. It reminded me that when people say these supposed inherent truths like capitalism fosters innovation there are many real world examples that counter these fallacies. MAny times it is the exact opposite and for-profit companies attempt to “steal” free software by basing their software on it and then attempting to sell it.

    We should all support free software when possible instead of commercial variants.

    “The programmers who write improvements to GCC (or Emacs, or Bash, or Linux, or any GPL-covered program) are often employed by companies or universities. When the programmer wants to return his improvements to the community, and see his code in the next release, the boss may say, “Hold on there—your code belongs to us! We don’t want to share it; we have decided to turn your improved version into a proprietary software product.”

    Here the GNU GPL comes to the rescue. The programmer shows the boss that this proprietary software product would be copyright infringement, and the boss realizes that he has only two choices: release the new code as free software, or not at all. Almost always he lets the programmer do as he intended all along, and the code goes into the next release.

    The GNU GPL is not Mr. Nice Guy. It says no to some of the things that people sometimes want to do. There are users who say that this is a bad thing—that the GPL “excludes” some proprietary software developers who “need to be brought into the free software community.”

    But we are not excluding them from our community; they are choosing not to enter. Their decision to make software proprietary is a decision to stay out of our community. Being in our community means joining in cooperation with us; we cannot “bring them into our community” if they don’t want to join.

    What we can do is offer them an inducement to join. The GNU GPL is designed to make an inducement from our existing software: “If you will make your software free, you can use this code.” Of course, it won’t win ’em all, but it wins some of the time.

    Proprietary software development does not contribute to our community, but its developers often want handouts from us. Free software users can offer free software developers strokes for the ego—recognition and gratitude—but it can be very tempting when a business tells you, “Just let us put your package in our proprietary program, and your program will be used by many thousands of people!” The temptation can be powerful, but in the long run we are all better off if we resist it.” — Richard Stallman


  3. petrel

    Don’t know if this one has been discussed:

    “The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is expanding the kinds of information that it collects on immigrants to include social media information and search results. The new policy, which covers immigrants who have obtained a green card and even naturalized citizens, will take effect on October 18th.”


    “…As Buzzfeed points out, collecting this kind of information would also have a dramatic impact on every single person that interacts with immigrants to the US, since it would seemingly make all of their conversations on social media subject to surveillance.”

    1. Annotherone

      I wasn’t aware of this – thanks for the heads-up. Dang! It covers even naturalised citizens such as me! I’m with those commenters to the linked article declaring, in colourful un-family blog manner, what they think of this eventuality.

      US citizenship, leading on from prior visas etc. costs a packet and a deal of frustration and effort, not to mention a forests-worth of paper exchanged – yet we’re still only 2nd class citizens!

      It’s yet another reason to stay clear of Facebook; they can have fun reading 11 years of my blogging though – best of luck with that! Telling husband of this should be fun.

    2. joe defiant

      Due to wikileaks, snowden, and various other information in the public sphere we would be naive to think our conversations with EVERYONE on social media, phones, and even in our living rooms if we have certain devices are not being recorded and stored somewhere searchable and viewable if TPTB ever feel the need to do so.

    3. Alex V

      I think the big threat with this is that they’ll use a typical approach from prosecutions – “You lied to us when you forgot to mention your MySpace account from 2001 that you never deleted and forgot about. Our NSA records indicate it still exists. No visa for you.”

      1. Wukchumni

        When I have something to say that could get me in hot water, I use my trusty Selectric (born the same year as me and if you want to wax nostalgic, here’s the sound it made: wwwwhhhhiiiiirrrrrrr), and then when i’m done with said missive, I cut the typewriter ribbon into 487 little bits, and attach the memo to a carrier pigeon for delivery to the recipient. Yeah it’s a lot of work, but one can’t be too careful these days.

        1. wilroncanada

          Have a friend who was Canada Sales Manager for IBM when the Selectric was introduced. It didn’t work properly. Sales people were ordered to use all sorts of stalling tactics (lies) to placate customers until new ones without the fatal glitch could be delivered.
          I spent 30 years in commercial office supplies, and IBM was one of the companies (along with Xerox) taken to task for tie-selling–forcing the consumer to use proprietary after-market products (ribbon or paper) or the warranty would be null and void.

  4. Corbin Dallas

    Against Fetonte:

    CLEAT continually fought Sandra Bland Act, police unions exist to protect their members – not to help the working class – and resist any and all reform. As a DSA member I think “l’affair” was handled perfectly – he wasn’t removed, wasn’t censored, but yes, the massive backlash and distaste of the membership prodded him to resign. It was actually the gritty, tough and sometimes contradictory nature of actual movement building.

    Moreoever, part of the big reasons for the anger from the DSA “rank and file” was his – and his supporters – repeated refusal to engage with the substance of the criticism, instead just crying victim.

    Finally, and I feel like this goes without saying on NC but why not – just because Debs lmet one policeman he liked or a black lady is running for sherriff (as in the twitter thread linked above) does not mean that somehow police, and American policing, are OK. And Danny didn’t just “like” police, he specifically organized them into units which fought for the most horrendous, offensive tripe that was 100% antagonistic to a true socialist (or DemSoc) movement.

    1. Matthew G. Saroff

      I would note that Fetonte ran for a seat on hte NPC in 2015 which mentioned his work for CLEAT, and he LOST.
      In 2017, he ran and deliberately left this off of his bio.
      So, there is a deliberate omission here. As to what, if any action, should be taken as a result is up for debate, though his response when this blew up (I’m not talking about not resigning, I’m talking about petulance) does not reflect well on him.

    2. Basil Pesto

      I’ve never really understood why members of the police force are excluded from what is defined as the working class by those who lean left. I understand that there are huge systemic and institutional problems with policing in America, and lots of utterly gross behaviour, but it seems to me that the rank and file of the police force are closer to the working class than the ruling class or even maybe the middle class, even if they are deployed to serve the interests of the latter two, often to the detriment of the working class and the underclass. Are there any attempts by advocates for the working class to reach out to working policemen on that basis?

        1. UserFriendly

          As long as we are willing to toss Nina Turner out of the movement because her son is a cop. I also like the point in the piece about should we bar anyone who works in finance because we hate capitalism? It is the epitome of stupidity to judge and ban people for the compromises they have had to make to survive capitalism. Judge them on their intentions and actions going forward not on their past purity; we aren’t looking to declare sainthood.

          1. relstprof

            It’s my understanding that Fetonte quit the DSA, not that he was tossed out. Some people wanted him off leadership, not out of the organization altogether.

            Is it fair that this particular past work disqualifies him for leadership in the minds of many members? Dunno. But if CLEAT was an issue for him in previous attempts at leadership, then why didn’t he find a more effective way of addressing those concerns? After all, convincing your organization that you are worthy of leadership means doing the necessary politics to fairly and honestly persuade them of that.

            Nothing I’ve read suggested he openly tried to address this part of his past head on. If he has a vision for how police unions can play a role in DSA politics given its goals, then he should have made that case for members to consider.

      1. Ulysses

        “Are there any attempts by advocates for the working class to reach out to working policemen on that basis?”

        Yes, and this organization has heeded the call:

        “The mission of the Ethical Society of Police, (ESOP), is to bridge the gap in communication between the Police Department and our community. We are the seekers of justice within our Department and for our community. We are the voice of the voiceless and the conscience of our Police Department.

        Our Goals
        Improve the relationship between the community and the police department.
        Improve the professional status for minority civilians and police officers; individually and collectively.
        Employ more minorities with law enforcement agencies.
        Develop policies and programs to reduce crime.
        Maintain a greater degree of professionalism in law enforcement.”


      2. MichaelSF

        I’ve never really understood why members of the police force are excluded from what is defined as the working class by those who lean left.

        As attributed to Jay Gould “I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.”

      3. Michael Fiorillo

        Cops come out of the working class; cops oppress the working class. That dialectics thing, and the struggles of working and living them out…

        Leaving aside for a moment the specifics and/or appropriateness of Fetonte’s actions and those of his opponents, this self-identified libertarian socialist wonders, will our socialist singing tomorrows need police?

        If you think they won’t, then in my opinion you’re naive.

        If you think they will, and you call yourself a socialist, shouldn’t those police be organized? Isn’t that self-financed working class organization (which is what a union is, and which is why the employing class is axiomatically opposed to them) a potential conduit for reaching those police that have reservations about what they’re called upon to do, and a potential vehicle for changing those things, or at least tempering its worst qualities?

        I know that in our current racialized, surveillance/robocop dystopia, this may sound naive, but think of it as a thought experiment. After all, even in socialism, there’s going to be police. Or should we refuse to deal with them until socialism arrives? Strategies and tactics…

        I’m a public school teacher in NYC; does that make me a replicator of capitalist power, gender and race relations? Does it make me responsible for the school-to-prison pipeline? My union, the UFT, engaged in a many weeks-long strike in 1968 that had dreadful racial overtones, and was blamed for decades for worsening race relations in the city; should I therefore be excluded from a potential leadership position in a socialist organization? People might not think it’s a valid analogy, but where should that line be drawn?

        On a historical note, add Sid Hatfield, Sheriff of Mingo County, West Virginia during the coal wars of the 1920’s, to that short list of sheriffs who tried to do right by the people. David Strathairn played him very well in John Sayles’ “Matewan.”

        1. Oregoncharles

          From a 60’s poster:

          “We begin by seeking justice, and end up with the police.”

          It was credited to a French philosopher, but I can’t remember who it was. Maybe some other reader will.

        2. relstprof

          “Where should the line be drawn”

          These are fair questions. Organizations and people can change (though I think it takes much longer for organizations to change — perhaps generations).

          Part of the issue facing DSA is its commitment to protesting. Notice that the St Louis chapter of DSA has been protesting the Stockley decision every night for the past week. (DSA also protested the conditions of the St Louis Workhouse temporary prison in its lack of cooling systems in a particularly brutal summer heat spell — and won A/C for the prisoners.)

          Cops are monitoring prtests through electronic means. This isn’t news. What does that mean in re welcoming police into membership? So where is the line? Maybe there are cops sympathetic to BLM or such. This is a hard place for those individuals. But why should the DSA shoulder that strange situational burden when its goal is to protest police brutality and murder?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for this thoughtful comment and thanks to all for the subsequent discussion.

      I think to some extent we’re looking at an old member/new member thing. For an old member perspective, I’m reminded of the story about the March on Washington, where, when MLK’s sound system was sabotaged, Bayard Rustin was able to call Bobby Kennedy to get the Army Signal Corps to fix it; it helps to have a friend at court (like, say, the Duke D’Orleans; splits in elites go all the way to the top, and are to be encouraged). I’m also reminded of Talleyrand, who made sure, when picking his delegation for the Congress of Vienna, to select a known informer (since there would be one, better to know who it was…).

      On the other hand, I think Fentonte/CLEAT was a dealbreaker for new members connected with Black Lives Matter, and probably antifa types as well. I’ve got little sympathy for black bloc, as readers know, but a lot of sympathy for BLM. So, judgement call. I don’t care about the national BLM leadership, decapitated misleaders all, but BLM at ground level is a different matter. Perhaps better on balance for Fetonte to go.

      Adding, I wasn’t at all impressed with Fetonte’s tactics in his chapter; and I wasn’t at all impressed by a Twitter campaign by those who wanted to defenestrate him. Both bode ill for DSA as an organization.

      OTOH, I keep seeing stuff like the brakelight campaign spreading… A ton of local successes like that are going to outweigh a little Inside Baseball-ish mess in the launch phase…

  5. ChiGal in Carolina

    Being diplomatic

    Great piece, just reading it is calming! Definition of Bernie:

    At the same time, the diplomat understands that there are moments to sidestep direct engagement. They do not try to teach a lesson whenever it might first or most apply: they wait till it has the best chance of being heard.

    But the best is this bit of wisdom, also to be found in Winnie-the-Pooh:

    In the face of a tirade, instead of going on the defensive, the diplomatic person might suggest some lunch.

    It’s always time for tea!

        1. Croatoan

          The need for power is the common denominator for all the human madness in the world. The method one uses to gain power makes no difference.

      1. a different chris

        Not in the sense that I think you mean? “Manipulate” being another chameleon of a word, that changes colors to match the subject. When used to describe a technique that changes a person emotions it is generally interpreted as negative. But if I have a stiff joint and a PT “manipulates” it, that is to my benefit.

        Assuming you meant the first case, a negative connotation, well I disagree. It’s not a black-and-white world. When done with honesty, diplomacy is the way to get to the best shade of gray.

    1. Huey Long

      Excellent piece!

      I’ve never been much of a diplomat. Former co-workers have described my negotiating/dealing-with-people style as “blunt force trauma to the head.”

      When I started my current job I initially did not jive well with some of my co-workers when I started making some changes to how things were done. My response was to tell them to go eat [family blog] if they didn’t like it.

      This touched off yet more conflict and eventually I found myself in my boss’s office where he pointed out that I needed to be more diplomatic and gave me some suggestions on how to do so.

      It’s been an uphill battle, but learning how to go about things more diplomatically has made my life on the job easier, lowered my stress level, and has made me a more effective worker. I think it is a crucial skill to pick up, and I’m thankful to have such a great boss that’s willing to mentor me.

    2. Jeff W

      Thank you for that comment! Sidestepping direct engagement is a very under-appreciated talent.

      And, along those lines, there’s this sentence from the linked piece in The Atlantic: “Graham and Cassidy appeared frustrated at times by [Sanders’] restraint,” which I take to mean that Sanders framed the issue carefully, in such a way that Graham and Cassidy could not spin his statements in completely false or misleading ways. How frustrating for them!

  6. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Re Cassidy’s treatment of Collins, both his crassness and calling her “Susan”

    I was struck last night by how many times he called Klobuchar “Amy” and kept trying to use her anecdote as against her by twisting it. It was deaf and patronizing, and I can’t have been the only woman it bothered.

    I was also struck by how Senators Graham and Cassidy explicitly said they and their colleagues aren’t responsive to constituents, and pretended that state legislatures were.

    As ever I was impressed by Bernie’s ability to stay on point and not take the bait–it was stunning how he pivoted on Cassidy’s trash talking of Pharma to demand he join the Medicare-negotiates bill and the reimportation bill, and wasn’t derailed by Cassidy’s trying to pitch him as loony on the vets committee. Similarly he was able to reinforce the Graham statements against insurance co profits. The fact that Graham was speaking about insurance co profits that way was really striking to me. Did he do that pre-Bernie Presidential Primary? Or does that reflect Bernie’s reframing of political debate?

    1. Scott

      The use of the first name in the debate tends to backfire. It hurt Clinton in the debates last year. Remember the plays this spring when Trump and Clinton reversed places? When they were reversed, referring to the opposition candidate by the first name came across as sexist and crass. This is something that plays well to the party’s base, but likely hurts them over the long run.

      1. Abigail Caplovitz Field

        Funny; I went to find a transcript to see if Sen Klobachar was the only one called by her first name, and she wasn’t. She was called it the most, Bernie next, then Lindsey, and Bill only once, and then by Lindsey. I think every other time it must have sounded more genuine/friendly–they all kept insisting every one was a nice person. So I think it was the way Cassidy did it in particular, and also I just really didn’t like listening to Cassidy, he made my skin crawl sometimes, so maybe I was just primed to notice it. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1709/25/se.01.html.

    2. Darius

      I think Cassidy assumed Collins would sign onto GOP gaslighting. Using his bill as the baseline not current law is a classic technique. Like Bush using “average tax cuts” to sell to the middle class a tax cut heavily weighted to the rich. Until Trump, Republicans always fell into line. Cassidy must have assumed Collins would fall in line after a suitably public display of objection. Frankly, I did too.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Also, Collins comes from Caribou, Maine, way up north in Aroostock County, which (naturally) has a severe opioid problem, being part of the deindustrialized flyover county that comprises most of Maine.

        You can run the conservative flim-flam successfully, and you can even bash the poor — Maine has a mean strike a mile wide — but you can’t take people’s treatment away from them; the connection between that and a death sentence to family members is too clear. And that’s what would have happened to Maine under Graham-Cassidy. Even as straightforward political calculation — leaving common humanity aside — that would have been bad for Collins (especially if she wants to be Governor).

  7. NotTimothyGeithner

    Canvassing is important, not to persuade but to both remind and find every potential voter, moving them from non-voter to voter. The central conceit of the 50 state strategy was that popular positions are popular and will win elections not by appealing to Republicans but making sure people voted. The Hillary 2016 strategy of winning “white flight” Republicans was not part of winning strategies.

    Expectation of winning is important. If you can’t change anything, why vote? Kerry lost by 10,000 votes. Could those have been found in Ohio?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, our city council election is showing how important canvassing can be.

      I live in a ward that had three Democratic candidates competing against each other in the primary. Yup. You read that right. Three Ds in a primary. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

      Any-hoo, the guy who won the primary attributed his success to the fact that he knocked on doors all over the ward. He even came to my place. And I wasn’t home. (Oh, well!)

  8. Enquiring Mind

    Philadelphia Freedom (at least a start at reducing corruption)
    Inspires me to have a cheese steak
    Now which other cities will follow
    New York cheesecake
    New Orleans étouffée
    Seattle latte
    Imagine the meal one could have celebrating transparency :p

  9. Harold

    Am I wrong or doesn’t the Washington Post article state that no one except FB employees has even seen these ads and and that: “the vast majority of the ads run by the 470 pages and accounts did not specifically reference the U.S. presidential election, voting or any particular candidate”?

    According to the article, Clinton Watts, an ex-FBI agent and present “fellow” receiving money? from/] with the Foreign Policy Research Institute , said: “he has not seen the Facebook ads promised to Congress, but he and his team saw similar tactics playing out on Twitter and other platforms during the campaign.”

    Watts said such efforts were most likely to have been effective in Midwestern swing states such as Wisconsin and Michigan, where Democratic primary rival Sen. Bernie Sanders had beaten Clinton. Watts said the disinformation pushed by the Russians included messages designed to reinforce the idea that Sanders had been mistreated by the Democratic Party and that his supporters shouldn’t bother to vote during the general election in November. [My italics — in other words, the whole thing is based on speculation. Is Watts suggesting that the idea that Sanders was treated unfairly is Russian disinformation? And if so were the tweets he saw paid for by Russia? the article does not tell us. As I read it the “experts” from a highly politicized right wing organization, are saying these ads must have been paid for by Russia to sway the election because that’s the sort of thing Russia would be likely to do. And also the implication is that Black Lives Matter is a Russian front. ]

    As for Mr. Watts, an expert with the Foreign Policy Research Institute, according to Wikipedia:
    “The FPRI’s claim of independence should not be mistaken for non-partisan, nor should their deep roots within higher education imply an intent of a simple advisory role. In a speech given at the Heritage Foundation on June 5, 1991, former FPRI member Daniel Pipes stated that the FPRI is an activist organization driven by its own ideology:

    ‘Put most baldly, we have always advocated an activist U.S. foreign policy; we have shared an abiding suspicion of the Soviet Union and other Communist states; and we have always maintained a strong interest in the promotion of democracy, free-enterprise, and the rule of law. Perhaps most controversially, the professional staff is not shy about the use of force; were we members of Congress in January 1991, all of us would not only have voted with President Bush and Operation Desert Storm, we would have led the charge.’ [4]”

  10. Kim Kaufman

    “Rob Reiner and James Clapper. Wowsers. What a time to be alive.”

    Thank you for this, Lambert. Sometimes I think this must all be just an awful acid flashback. But, no…

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      I think even Archie could have caught on to the plastic fantastic nature of these Russia allegations.

    2. Darius

      It’s a Democrat’s dream to be able to attack Republicans from the right. I’d say that’s a big reason they can’t let this Russia thing go.

  11. Adam

    “(I’d be interested in any assessments readers have of the methodology).”

    I would have been surprised if they found different results given how the paper is set up. The hypothesis they are testing might as well boil down to “In relatively high profile races between a Democrat and a Republican (the experiment’s setup innately ignores third party candidates), voter contact doesn’t change people’s minds regarding their preferred candidate.” While the experiment also lumps in advertising, it appears by advertising it means literature either left at a house or mailed to a house (not TV advertising which they can’t measure). When phrased this way, the results don’t really sound surprising. I personally find this to be a very limited hypothesis for a variety of reasons.

    Some of the regression numbers they included are not really properly explained (in a way where some numbers they talk about in the paper look different then some numbers in the tables). There also appear to be some notable outliers in the aggregated data from other experiments (I’m not a political scientist, so there are a countless experiments I’m not familiar with; these outliers could indicate that something was run incorrectly in the experiment, but without reading them it’s hard to say. Could be as simple as some of the experiments not having sufficient statistical power (sample size is too small). This doesn’t have any implication on the validity of this paper, but it does raise a question).

    I also disagree with some takeaways, especially ” More generally, our findings cast doubt on the view that political elites can easily manipulate citizens’ judgments.”

    Also, aggregating the data in this manner could be covering a lot of relevant nuances. For example, how did all the aggregated experiments choose their experiment samples? There could be important differences (or there might not be! The problem is that after reading this paper, I can’t say).

  12. Propertius

    [T]he Democrat Party, institutionally, does not regard voter registration or GOTV as a core party function.

    I’d quibble with this statement a bit. Nationally, it’s probably true, but registration and GOTV are core functions of state and county party organizations. One reason why Democrats have done so poorly in state and local elections of late is that the national party organization has starved state and local committees of “combined campaign” funds ever since the 2008 cycle.

  13. Oregoncharles

    ““Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also brushed off questions about the lack of U.S. proposals on tricky areas, telling reporters at the Canadian Parliament that ‘it is very typical — standard practice — in any trade negotiation to work on the less-contentious issues to begin with.’”

    Hmmm. If that’s true, and it does make sense, why are the MOST contentious or difficult issues front-loaded in the Brexit negotiations?

    OTOH: it often makes sense to do the hard parts of a job first, while you’re fresh. I’m not sure that applies to negotiations, though, unless it’s a marathon, which these certainly are not.

    This is in reference to the attitudes underlying the negotiations. I think the EU are sabotaging the negotiations, pushing deal-breakers up front. As Yves has said, they want the outcome to make an example of Britain, to discourage others from withdrawing. But they don’t want to LOOK like the villains.

  14. Huey Long

    RE: Shipping Labor Tensions

    Way to go pilots! Management thinks they can [family blog] with the workers at will and I absolutely love to hear stories of labor push back.

    Management needs to realize that there’s limits to crapification and that not every job can be turned into a McJob. Good luck getting a reserve army of pilots to intimidate the existing pilots with.

      1. Huey Long

        The union contract these pilots work under likely has a “no strike” clause that prohibits any sort of job action for the duration of the contract.

        While strikes are a form of job action, not all job actions are strikes. Refusing to work OT is a recognized form of job action known as an overtime ban:


        As is work-to-rule, where employees obey the employer’s rules to the point of absurdity:


        Also, bosses can mandate OT, provided they pay time and a half. Refusal to do so can result in termination:


        The being said, I’ve had to lead some group OT refusals where we all walked off the job when asked to work OT. Sometimes management doesn’t want to hire anybody permanent so they mandate OT instead. It’s up to us to keep them in check.

  15. The Rev Kev

    Re: The Black Sea Maritime Project
    Oh, that story is not even the beginning of Black Sea Archaeolgy. May I quote from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/black-sea-shipwreck-discovery/
    ““When the last ice age ended about 12,000 years ago, the Black Sea was really the Black Lake,” says Jon Adams, principal investigator on the project and director of the Centre for Maritime Archaeology at the University of Southampton. As temperatures warmed and sea levels rose, saltwater from the Mediterranean began spilling over a rock formation in the Bosphorus Strait. Suddenly the Black Sea was fed by saltwater as well as freshwater rivers, resulting in two distinct layers of water: an oxygenated upper level with less salt and a lower saltwater level without oxygen. The oxygen drops to zero below 150 meters, which is ideal for the preservation of organic materials”
    What that means in practice is that nothing is destroyed on that sea bottom unlike the oceans and seas of the world by wood borers and the like. It is like a museum of ship history and there is a galaxy of information to be retrieved from those ships. Even the rope on those ships is still there. They are going to have to chuck out the maritime history books when they start exploring these wrecks as we will finally see what these ships actually looked like in real life.

  16. kareninca

    I am getting to see the power of Amazon’s monopoly first hand. I volunteer for an organization that holds book sales to support the local library. We also sell books online – on Amazon. About a third of our sales are through Amazon. This summer, one of our two paid people, who fulfills online sales, went on vacation. He recommended that our Amazon store be shut down while he was gone, so that no mistakes would be made in his absence. His recommendation was not taken. In his absence, volunteers made a few mistakes; not big ones; trivial ones. And so, Amazon shut down the store: for real, permanently. And that is that. There is no recourse. There is no human to contact. There is no way of undoing this. Amazon doesn’t care; this is a trivial amount of money to them. They don’t want to deal with nuisances like imperfect humans, and they don’t have to.

    So, my main problem is not the income for our organization. It is the effect it is having on the employee (who I do not supervise in any way, and I rarely see due to my volunteering schedule). He has always had back issues but since the store shut down he is in unrelenting pain. He can barely move. His physical agony is unrelenting. He has crappy health insurance that covers surgery, but doesn’t cover alternative treatments, and of course he has no money since his pay is not high and this is an extremely costly area to live in. So his doctors are starting to push surgery. It is all due to this Amazon store thing; he is like an utterly helpless squashed bug. The organization is not going to lay him off, I’m sure, but the point of his employment is gone. The volunteers who are in charge of his being employed themselves have a sick, hunted look.

    There is some way of selling some books still through Amazon, in which they hold them. But that is complicated and doesn’t work for books that sell very slowly – like antiquarian books; the ones I most hope to see placed. The more I hear about this, and think about this, the more I see that Amazon is the only game in town. No-one buys books on Ebay. No-one goes to individual online bookstores anymore. Amazon “owns” the book business.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Have you tried Powell’s, in Portland? I know they have extensive online sales; whether they’d handle someone else’s books I have no idea. Might be good publicity for them.

      1. HotFlash

        I have bought several books, both new and used, thru Powell’s since I will not Amazon. As a buyer I am very happy with their service.

        However, they also say on their website that they buy and/or consign used books, but all my attempts to list my friend’s scholarly books are met with a robo-response saying someone will get back to me soon, but nada. YMMV.

        1. kareninca

          I will ask our board to look into Powell’s. I’m not too optimistic about getting them to list for us (we are given about 30,000 books per month, a fair number of which are high value, so we have a lot to list), but it is worth a try. And I will definitely look into buying from them myself when I buy books. Thank you for the suggestion.

          1. Oregoncharles

            I’d make a point of it being a benefit for a library – as I said, good publicity for them.

            I’ve been to Powell’s many times, some of them back when Mr. Powell worked up front. I have a story: back when our son was a cute little blonde cherub, we were buying a couple of books right at closing time. Mr. Powell jokingly offered us $1000 for him; the unnerving thing was that he literally had the money in his hand, because he was counting out the till.

            That was almost 40 years ago. The store operates on an enormous scale today, occupying an entire block in downtown Portland. Last year, we heard Ralph Nader speak there.

      2. Knot Galt

        Powells Book store is great! However, when I tried to sell some rare architecture books that I had but no longer could afford to shlep around when I moved; I couldn’t even give them away. I think they may have limited space and resources.

        I think there may be another option for a internet book seller that takes all books and catalogs them under a Dewey decimal system?

      1. Vatch

        Yes, thank you. I’ve bought through them, too. There is also AbeBooks. Sadly, they were bought by Amazon a few years ago, but it is possible that AbeBooks won’t know about your organization’s history with Amazon. Although I’ve bought via Alibris, I’ve never bought via Abebooks. I have learned about books for sale from their site, and then I’ve tracked down the seller. Sometimes sellers won’t deal directly with the public, and in such a case, I would try to use Alibris.

        I’ve never bought anything from Amazon. When I won a $50.00 Amazon gift card in a raffle, I refused to be tainted by them, so I sold it to a friend for $25.00. He was already an Amazon customer, so it was too late for him to avoid contamination.

        Barnes and Noble may have a sellers’ network, too.

        1. wilroncanada

          Unfortunately ABE now owned by Amazon
          They were originally a Victoria BC company with a web site and links to sellers, some huge second-hand book dealers and others little antiquarian dealers working from their garages. As far as I am aware they are still operating as a separate entity, but I’m not sure. I still get their updates. I have bought from them frequently but not recently (the last few months). I have also bought through Alibris.
          Now I have reduced my library by about 10,000 books, leaving just a few. There is a large bookstore in Victoria, probably not a huge as Powell’s, called Russell Books.
          I gave my collection of all Canada’s Arthur Ellis award winners in first edition signed to one daughter, and all the writings of John Ralston Saul including his fiction(not very good, unlike his Canadian philosophy) to another daughter.

      1. kareninca

        That doesn’t work. Believe me, it was looked into. We would have to incorporate an entirely new nonprofit, and then hope that wasn’t noticed, and we have every reason to think it would be.

  17. Oregoncharles

    From “The Spruce”:

    ” Callaloo is the name used in the Caribbean to refer to the large green leaves of the taro, dasheen, tannia, amaranth, or yautia root, cooked as one would prepare turnip or collard greens.”

    I’ve eaten amaranth, which I think the plant in the picture probably is; a bit bland, but highly edible. It’s a common garden weed here, but there are cultivated versions grown as a grain. I know what taro is (tropical), but not the others (also probably tropical). Does Ezra know which of the options he’s growing? An impressive plant, anyway. Should go well with the nasturtiums (I think those are, on the left).

  18. allan

    Price’s private-jet travels included visits with colleagues, lunch with son [Politico]

    … On June 6, HHS chartered a jet to fly Price to Nashville, Tennessee, where he owns a condominium and where his son resides. Price toured a medicine dispensary and spoke to a local health summit organized by a longtime friend. He also had lunch with his son, an HHS official confirmed. …

    Which is completely reasonable, since there is no nonstop service between D.C. and Nashville … oh, wait.

    Work for the czar, develop Faberge egg tastes.

  19. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Alabama Senate Republican run-off

    Roy Moore wins, beating Luther Strange.

    The country is in for a world of crazy. I’ve been on the front lines in the pro-choice/pro-life wars at the clinics in Tuscaloosa and Huntsville. Chief among the pro-life camp has been a guy named James Henderson, a self-anointed priest with mail order garb, who has been Roy Moore’s buddy since Viet Nam. These people are nuts. Gobsmackingly NUTS.

    Any thought by Karl Rove that Roy Moore is like Todd Akin is seriously, SERIOUSLY, understating things.

  20. dk

    “The Minimal Persuasive Effects of Campaign Contact in General Elections: Evidence from 49 Field Experiments” [SSRN].

    Having worked as a data manager on (mostly Dem) campaigns from district to national levels between 1986 and 2014, I may have some insight on this paper and its conclusions.

    The paper focuses on the “effect on which candidates voters supported on election day”. This is different from measuring the effects of targeted persuasion programs on voter turnout, which the paper does not consider.

    As a general rule, observed and accepted for decades by political campaigns, it is almost impossible to change a voter’s selection by direct persuasion (conversion). It is more possible to either convince them to vote when they wouldn’t otherwise (and then GOTV them until they do, producing voter turnout), or to influence them not to vote when they otherwise would (producing vote suppression). Best targets for actual conversion by persuasion messaging are occasional-swing voters, not a very reliable group to begin with.

    In other words, suppression and turnout, not conversion, are the reasonable goals for direct persuasion programs (and again, this has been generally understood for some time). The study confirms that conversion is inconsistently achieved and approaches net zero yield, while somewhat under-emphasizing the distinction between conversion and turnout/suppression effects.

    The paper also lacks a good definition of “direct”. I would normally take it to mean a person-to-person contact, by phone of canvass. But the studies presented in the paper also examine “direct” mail contact programs (impersonal, even if personally selected) along with phone and canvass programs (person-to-person interactions). It seems that “direct” is being taken to mean “specifically targeted to the individual level,” without other distinction as to media or to level of interaction.

    Our argument is not that campaigns do not influence general elections in any way, but that the direct persuasive effects of their voter contact and advertising in general elections are essentially zero.

    This is a bold and broad statement that goes beyond the conclusions of the material presented in the paper. Presentation of persuasive material (positions, candidate demeanor, characterizations of opponent) is intrinsic and usually necessary to political campaign activity, and the studies in the paper give no basis to assert that this activity has no cumulative persuasive effect. In effect, it says: you can change a voters mind (campaigns work), but not directly, because we can’t measure that significantly in isolation. Does that make sense? Is it useful?

    A vote conversion is rarely the product of a single or very limited and predetermined set of events. After eliminating changes in targeted voter positions that are also present in the general voter universe, the nine additional studies (Appendix D) seek to find measurable effects. These turn out to be very low, certainly statistically insignificant… but rarely zero. What seems insignificant in statistics can be significant and decisive in real life (which elections are part of). And impacts on turnout are not examined in the paper.

    The paper suggests partisan identifications as the overwhelming factor in voter’s selections, to the point of overriding any other considerations, and strongly resistant to conversion by “direct” persuasion efforts. The paper finds that persuasion programs can be significantly effective when partisan preference is less significant, as in primaries or ballot measures. Again, these are not novel or surprising findings.

    The paper notes:

    identifying cross-pressured persuadable voters requires much more effort than simply applying much-ballyhooed “big data”

    While this has been true for the most part until now, the introduction of consumer behavioral profiles, as claimed by Cambridge Analytica, may increase accurate/actionable identification of cross-pressure persuadables. However, early direct analysis of the voting population is still essential for relevant targeting and best efficiency, and for program validation.

    This paper may influence big$$$ donors to eschew some actually effective campaign programs, which is fine with me.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for this, this is great. Political Wire was pushing it. They concluded:

      This suggests that campaign resources should be dramatically redirected from advertising to direct get out the vote efforts.

      1. dk

        Thanks! Well, the paper to the side, TG/PW is not wrong, strictly speaking. One would have to have a staggeringly massive lead or a lot of chutzpah to skimp GOTV (not that there isn’t a lot of *a-hillary-hem* chutzpah out there).

        But it begs the question, how serious are we about GOTV if we don’t do field ID? And field programs, running weeks or months, are not exactly cheap (although they don’t have to be bank breakers, and the ROI us v.good, assuming some competent execution).

        But coming into an area a week before the election to “do GOTV, woo-hoo! We flew in all the way from New York City to ask for your vote!” on a target door that the campaign has never knocked? Think there’s some path-to-victory there, some 50%+1? Wait they have dogs here?

        Did you hear that conversion doesn’t work either, in the general?

        Yeah, all that ID for nothing. Say, isn’t that that direct contact stuff? Door knocks are a waste of time, we should be doing GOTV!

        *eyes glaze over*

        GOTV starts with the first field ID canvass… of the primary. As the campaign comes to a close, the field team pivots to the GOTV program; they know the territory, politically and physically (and where the dogs are). That’s how the competent pros do it, and it works. And even for crappy candidates, so what’s not to like? Although, experience again shows, the candidate that betrays the promises made at those doors may end up . Direct (person-to-person) engagement is a double-edged tool.

        GOTV doesn’t penetrate very well without early identification and target definition, followed by ID maintenance to the extent affordable (although ROI is v.good). Ideally, the campaign will have access (legally, of course) to legacy ID from previous campaigns (this is where functional state and even county parties have a role, too) to jump-start collection.

        And national and federal campaigns can bring millions into even a poor state like New Mexico (though not considered a “swing” state any more). The more field operation there is, the more money is likely to settle in-state, and some fraction could pass through some 80%-90% hands (events, too). It’s real trickle-down, that the Prophet Reagan told of. And almost straight from the donors, only skimmed a couple of times (very deeply).

        But I digress; good night.

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