2:00PM Water Cooler 9/28/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Sorry an incomplete version slipped out at 2:00PM; I got reading an interesting article and forgot to press the Submit button! –lambert


“Finishing [NAFTA] by year’s end is ‘very very optimistic, very very difficult,’ [US. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer] continued. ‘But there are reasons to do it. So when there are reasons to do it, we have a lot of motivation.’ Those reasons include reducing business uncertainty caused by the renegotiation of the pact, he noted. Still, ‘I can’t make that prediction,’ Lighthizer admitted” [Politico]. “Admitted” is an odd choice of words.

“Lighthizer is taking a controversial new approach toward vetting NAFTA proposals among various government agencies and it isn’t winning him much praise in other parts of the government. Various ideas that the Trump administration has considered, for instance, have been advanced to Congress and even as far as the negotiating table without obtaining the usual consensus from other agencies through a long-standing, staff-driven process, leading to friction over how the USTR office is handling trade issues, according to sources close to the process” [Politico]. Critics say that without thorough vetting, U.S. proposals are exposed to legal risk, and the truncated process generally undermines the long understood leverage that U.S. proposals represent an airtight, unified consensus among the executive agencies.” Uh oh. “The interagency.” And see below for a “Reply All” controversy….

“The US Department of Commerce said on Tuesday that it will impose a 220 per cent tariff on imports of 100-150 seat civil aircraft manufactured by the Canadian firm Bombardier” [Independent]. “This was in response to a petition from Boeing, a rival aircraft manufacturer to Bombardier, which claimed that the Canadian firm had received illegitimate public sector subsidies for the manufacture of the aircraft in question, the C-series regional jet, enabling it to sell them in the US at below cost price.”

“Jobs in Belfast could be at risk after the US opted to impose a 220% import tariff on Bombardier’s C-Series jet.” [BBC]. “Canada’s Bombardier is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest employers and the threat to jobs there could jeopardise the Conservatives’ pact with the Democratic Unionist Party.”

Bombardier exposes post-Brexit realities” [Financial Times]. “The Bombardier case gives the lie to the notion that, outside the EU, the UK will find the behaviour of its leading non-European trade partners more benign.”

“Ontario Set to Connect Carbon Market with Québec, California Next Year” [International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development]. “‘Sub-national climate change action continues to go from strength to strength across North America,’ said [International Emissions Trading Association] CEO and President Dirk Forrister in an official statement.”


Puerto Rico

“US waives Jones Act for Puerto Rico” [Lloyd’s List]. “Waiver takes effect immediately for 10 days and covers all products.”

“Nearly 6,000 shipping containers with relief supplies have landed in San Juan but getting the critically needed materials beyond the port is proving a major challenge” [Wall Street Journal]. “The head of[Crowley Maritime Inc’s] operations there says many roads around the capital are damaged or flooded, and that many paths to towns beyond San Juan are impassable.”

“Our lack of attention to the poverty of Caribbean nations has left their people incapable of investing in the kind of infrastructure that might better withstand a natural disaster. That general neglect has been coupled with a more specific one in Puerto Rico’s case: In recent years, as part of sweeping cuts to the government budget, many public services were slashed, including preventative maintenance of the electricity network. That meant trees were left untrimmed and allowed to intertwine with power lines — with disastrous results” [BuzzFeed]. Not a bug, but a feature, at least in shock doctrine terms.

“Cash demand soars in Puerto Rico after hurricane hit ATMs, card systems” [Reuters]. If you think that so-called natural disasters will increase in the future, then eliminating cash is very bad public policy.

2016 Post Mortem

“Michelle Obama scolds female Trump voters” [BBC]. “‘Any woman who voted against Hillary Clinton voted against their own voice,’ she said.” Oh.


“A special election to fill a vacancy in Florida State Senate District 40 took place on September 26, 2017. The seat became vacant following the resignation of incumbent Frank Artiles (R) after he used a racial slur in front of two black state senators” [BallotPedia]. “The special election featuring Annette Taddeo (D), Jose Felix Diaz (R), and independent Christian “He Man” Schlaerth was held on September 26, 2017. Taddeo won the election.”


“[A] test of party strength in a mid-term is the so-called generic ballot test where voters are asked if they’d like to see Republicans or Democrats in control of Congress, or if they will support a Democrat or Republican in the upcoming congressional election. According to the Huffington Post pollster average, Democrats have a seven point lead on the question (41 percent to 34 percent). That’s a healthy lead, but not quite as significant as the lead Democrats had going into 2006 election. According to RealClearPolitics, Democrats had an 11.5 percent lead right before the election where they picked up 32 seats and control of Congress” [Cook Political Report]. Given the structural advantages in the GOP’s favor: gerrymandered congressional lines and geographic self-sorting (i.e. Democrats choosing to live in urban/inner suburban areas), plus the increase in party-line, straight-ticket voting, Democrats likely need a double-digit lead on the generic ballot going into Election Day. Moreover, enthusiasm and generic ballot advantages are not created equal. Turning out a bunch of energized Democrats in Democratic-leaning districts isn’t of much help to Democrats’ chances at winning the House. Republicans staying home in heavily GOP seats isn’t much of a threat to their majority.”


“More than 50 million ballots were cast by Floridians in the seven presidential elections from 1992 through 2016. If you add them all up, only 18,000 votes separate the Republicans from the Democrats” [WaPo]. “So it could be quite politically significant that tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans, maybe more, are expected to permanently move into Florida as the result of Hurricane Maria.”

“California Seeks More Sway By Moving Up Presidential Primary” [Bloomberg]. “California, home to 11 media markets, is an expensive state to campaign in, potentially giving well-funded candidates an edge.” A change in firewalls. Which makes me wonder how many superdelegates Kamala Harris collected in the Hamptons.

New Cold War

“The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate” [Robert Parry, Consortium News]. Lambert here: Assuming arguendo that Russian “election meddling” — “meddling,” such a usefully capacious word — affected election outcomes, what’s the policy response? Is “election meddling” a casus belli? Even with a nuclear power? If it’s not, then what? Removing Trump from office, followed by proxy war in Ukraine or the Baltic? Yet more sanctions? Or — just spitballing, here — couldn’t we act like the great power we tell everybody we are, including ourselves, and man up, fix the broken systems — hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public is a simple fix for any vote hacking — and stop “meddling” in other countries’ elections, which we induce blowback by constantly doing? Anybody remember Obama endorsing Macron? If that’s not “meddling,” what is?

“A Republican on the Senate intelligence committee says Russian internet trolls are using the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to stir up unrest in the United States” [NBC]. Everybody into the pool! (Also, notice how easily liberal tropes get hijacked by conservatives.)

“Zuckerberg fires back at Trump’s ‘collusion’ claims, says Facebook is what ‘all ideas looks like'” [FOX]. “‘Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump. Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like,’ Zuckerberg wrote…. Zuckerberg also cited the company’s ‘get out the vote’ campaign, which he said helped at least two million people register to vote. ‘To put that in perspective, that’s bigger than the get out the vote efforts of the Trump and Clinton campaigns put together,’ he said. ‘That’s a big deal.'” I note the weasel word “helped,” but more importantly, the pathetic performance of both parties. Why, you’d almost think they don’t want to expand the electorate!

Trump Transition

“But if you widen the lens to other areas [than legislation], it turns out that Trump and his administration have made, and are likely to continue to make, an enormous impact on public policy. You can agree or disagree with the substance of what the Trump administration has set out to do, just as you can like or dislike Trump himself, but it’s hard ignore the significance what is happening” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “First look at policy and regulation. Trump dropped out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, he wants changes in the Paris Climate Accord, and he’s renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. The vast majority of policy decisions are not made in the Oval Office but rather in the bowels of Cabinet departments, agencies, and commissions. The administration is beginning to dismantle President Obama’s regulatory framework, and it’s not too much of an exaggeration to say that virtually every controversial Obama-era regulation and policy is in jeopardy.” And then there are seats on the Supreme Court, and the courts generally, as well as the Federal Reserve. Been saying this for months. Now it’s conventional wisdom (because Cook is the very embodiment of conventional wisdom, not that there’s anything wrong with that).

“[N]ew rules proposed by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau are expected to require lenders to verify key information from prospective borrowers, such as their income, borrowing history and whether they can afford the loan payments” [Governing]. “Diane Standaert, a payday loan expert for the Center for Responsible Lending, a North Carolina advocate for reform, calls the rule “a significant first step” that recognizes the debt trap the short-term, high-interest loans can create for low-income people.”

“One lawmaker says the president pointed to one signature example of private investment, the Indiana toll road, as an example of a failed public-private partnership. Lawmakers say Trump told them he believes such partnerships are “more trouble than they’re worth.” The administration has been pressing such investment as a way to leverage federal spending—and to help turn management of infrastructure over to states and private companies. Mr. Trump’s new view may upend the administration’s strategy, but it also may make it easier to strike a deal with congressional Democrats who are leery of privatization” [Wall Street Journal].

“What really caught our eye however was the total absence of the phrase ‘carried interest’ in the [Trump tax plan] document. Trump leaned in very hard on the notion of punishing those paper-pushin’ ‘hedge fund guys’ during the election, but this tax plan doesn’t specifically eliminate the carried interest loophole and in fact generally actually benefits anyone still running a hedge fund. So it now seems that Trump’s populist rage against asset managers has officially abated” [DealBreaker]. “But why, you ask? In addition to the fact that this administration has the ideological follow-through of an armless man swinging a heavy bat, the reprieve for hedge funders in this plan likely exists because it was formulated by a hedge fund veteran (Mnuchin), and a man destined to open his own hedge fund in the very near future (Cohn).” Not sure I’d go to DealBreaker for tax analysis, but they sure are a fun read. And sometimes things really are simple.

Health Care

“Why the War Over Health Care Isn’t Over” [John Cassidy, The New Yorker]. A classic. Cassidy manages to survey the state of play in health care without mentioning #MedicareForAll (or Sanders’ S1804, or Conyers HR676) once. I’m so old I remember when The New Yorker used to be good…

Lindsay Graham on health care: “‘I thought everybody else knew what the hell they were talking about, but apparently not,’ Graham clarified, adding he had assumed ‘these really smart people will figure it out.'” Not The Onion! [The Intercept]. More: “The crash course in health policy has been a romp, Graham said. “I’ve enjoyed this more than anything. I’ve learned so much about health care in other states — Pennsylvania, Alaska, Ohio,” he said, adding that he even learned about his own state. “South Carolina, we have 11 predominantly African-American counties that have unique health care needs and one size doesn’t fit all, even within your state. I looked at the history of welfare reform, and I think we can replicate that here.” Nice to see Bill Clinton’s reputation is not dead; this is the Republican equivalent of Obama praising Reagan’s good ideas.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“In the aftermath of the election, Manchin has acted as a sounding board for, and bridge between, his party’s leadership and conservative, rural, white voters. A few days after Trump’s inauguration, Democrats turned to Manchin to help understand where they had gone wrong. In late January, the senator facilitated a conversation with Trump voters at a retreat for Senate Democrats in Shepherdstown, West Virginia” [The Atlantic]. The author manages to write a whole article pushing Manchin’s centrism without noting that Sanders won West Virginia. Toothless white rural voters gather round a burning cross: “Yeah, we gotta get us a Socialist Jew in the White House.” Dear Lord.

“Bernie is not even a Democrat, so why is he ripping our party apart?” [The Hill]. “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.” –Frank Herbert, Dune.

“Not once during the last Supreme Court term did a justice appointed by a Democratic president speak at an event hosted by the conservative Federalist Society, and not once did a justice appointed by a Republican president address a gathering of the liberal American Constitution Society” [USA Today].

Stats Watch

GDP, Q2 2017 (Final): “Second-quarter GDP proved strong, at an as-expected 3.1 percent annualized rate for the third estimate driven by consumer spending at a 3.3 percent rate” [Econoday]. “Nonresidential fixed investment, at a 6.7 percent rate, was also a strong contributor and offsetting a 7.3 percent decline for residential investment. Government purchases, at minus 0.2 percent, were a slight drag on the quarter while both net exports and inventories were slight positives. GDP prices, like other inflation measures, were soft, up 1.0 percent overall and 1.1 percent for the core.”

Corporate Profits, Q2 2017 (r): “Corporate profits, at an annualized rate of $1.77 trillion in the second estimate for the second quarter, rose 7.4 percent compared to second-quarter 2016” [Econoday].

International Trade in Goods, August 2017 (preliminary): “The nation’s trade gap in goods, at $62.9 billion vs July’s $63.9 billion, narrowed sharply in August which will be a positive for third quarter GDP” [Econoday]. “Exports, boosted by a jump in consumer goods and also capital goods, rose 0.2 percent in the month to nearly reverse July’s 0.3 percent decline. Imports fell 0.3 percent in August with down drafts in industrial supplies, capital goods, and also food products.”

Retail Inventories, August 2017(Advance): “Retail inventories rose a sharp 0.7 percent in August and are led by a 1.2 percent build in vehicle inventories which, following the month’s weak vehicle sales, hints at overhang” [Econoday]. “Replacement demand following Hurricane Harvey, however, should soak up some of the inventory.”

Wholesale Inventories, August 2017(Advance): “Wholesale inventories rose a very sharp 1.0 percent in August, split evenly between a 1.0 percent build for durables and a 1.2 percent build for nondurables” [Econoday].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, September 2017: “There’s no visible impact from Hurricane Harvey on the Kansas City manufacturing region” [Econoday]. “Factory inventories in the region are building at a steady and healthy rate, at least based on this sample. Yet there is one telling sign of possible hurricane impact as delivery times have slowed sharply this month but the effect may prove temporary. In sum, this report along with other regional reports are pointing to year-end strength for the factory sector.” And: “Based on these regional surveys, it seems likely the ISM manufacturing index will be strong again in September (to be released Monday, Oct 2nd)” [Calculated Risk].

Jobless Claims, week of September 23, 2017: “Hurricane effects are apparent in weekly jobless claims data but are far from overwhelming” [Econoday]. And: “The recent increase in claims is due to the hurricanes” [Calculated Risk].

Vehicle Sales: “A WardsAuto forecast calls for U.S. light-vehicle sales to reach a 17.5 million-unit seasonally adjusted annual rate in September, following August’s 16.0 million SAAR and ending a 6-month streak of sub-17 million figures. In same-month 2016, the SAAR reached 17.6 million” [Wards Auto]. And: “Looking like an uptick here, some of it weather related?” [Mosler Economics].

Commodities: “Researchers from the Department of Biology and Geoscience at the University of Akron, in the United States, say that communities of microorganisms play a role in the formation of unique iron ore caves, which make up only about one per cent of caves worldwide” [Mining.com]. “Microbes living there use iron within the rock to respire, in a similar way that humans use oxygen. This respiration causes the rust-like iron oxides that make up the cave to become soluble.” Cool!

Commodities: “Florida’s famous orange juice industry is being squeezed to death. Pressed by hurricanes, international competition and a disease called “citrus greening,” crops are withering and juice processing plants are closing down” [Wall Street Journal]. “Hit by the bacteria, this year’s crop will likely be the smallest since the 1940s, extending a downturn that’s seen the state go from 53 processing plants in 1977 to just seven today. The cut in production of Florida oranges has helped drive the beverage’s price at stores up more than 50% since 2004. It also cuts into one of the goods trucking companies have counted on for outbound business from Florida, potentially straining overall shipping costs. Scientists working at a secret grove are trying to engineer an orange resistant to greening—which also hurts other citrus—but that may not reach the market until 2022.” Scientists at a “secret grove”? Huh?

Shipping: “It is still too early to call an end to containership oversupply, said Paris-based Alphaliner in its latest weekly report” [Llloyd’s Loading List]. “The report also noted that demand would need to grow by more than 8% each year for the overhang to be cleared in 2018, while an annual growth rate of less than 5% each year will see the overhang extend into 2020.”

The Bezzle: “Uber is facing what amounts to a stock-drop lawsuit, prior to the public offering and subsequent trading malaise that typically (and, uh, by definition) precedes one” [DealBreaker]. “The plaintiffs, the Irving (Texas) Firemen’s Relief & Retirement Fund, invested $2 million in Uber back in 2016 through a fund operated by Morgan Stanley. Since then, the lawsuit claims, Uber’s private valuation has dropped $18 billion. So they’re suing.”

Five Horsemen: “Alphabet catches a break, as Amazon struggles to swallow Whole Foods” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Sep 28

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 28 at 11:39am.

Health Care

“The Return of the Doctor House Call” [Governing]. “According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost 5 million people were enrolled in a home health-care agency in 2013. And the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 1.3 million additional jobs will be added to the field of home health care by 2020, a 69 percent increase from today. That makes home health care the fastest-growing health-care industry — and one of the fastest-growing workforce industries in any field.”

Guillotine Watch

“That Time the French Aristocracy Was Obsessed With Sexy Face Stickers” [Collectors Weekly]. “The heightened artifice of beauty patches also called attention to the larger ritual of transforming one’s face and body for maximum desirability. In France, this practice was known as the ‘toilette,’ which evolved from a term for the bit of cloth or ‘petit toile’ that covered a dressing table. In the late 17th century, the morning toilette of France’s upper crust imitated the decadent dressing customs of royalty, who would sometimes entertain guests as they put the finishing touches on their makeup and outfits, along with help from a horde of servants.” Today, we have “influencers”…

Class Warfare

“Recent Trends in Wealth-Holding by Race and Ethnicity: Evidence from the Survey of Consumer Finances” [Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System]. “Although most families do have some wealth, the number with zero or negative net worth (having debts that exceed assets) is nontrivial and varies by race/ethnicity. Nearly one in five black households has zero or negative net worth. The share of white households without any wealth is considerably smaller, at 9 percent. Hispanic and other households fall somewhere in between white and black families on this measure…. In addition to the differences in the levels and types of wealth previously described, the data also indicate substantial variation by race/ethnicity in many of the factors that are associated with the accumulation of wealth.”

“Sex work is one of the more unusual ways that adjuncts have avoided living in poverty, and perhaps even homelessness. A quarter of part-time college academics (many of whom are adjuncts, though it’s not uncommon for adjuncts to work 40 hours a week or more) are said to be enrolled in public assistance programs such as Medicaid” [Guardian]. If only the Deans knew!

“Even having a conversation about the imbalance of emotional labor becomes emotional labor” [Harpers Bazaar].

News of the Wired

“There’s Evidence That ADHD Could Be a Type of Sleep Disorder” [Science Alert].

“Too much Facebook causes ‘virtual autism’ claim experts” International Business Times]. “Psychologists at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia found that users, particularly children, who plug themselves into social media, browsing the likes of Twitter and Facebook showed an inability to read facial emotions and had a poor friendships as a result.”

“Celebrities Remember Hugh Hefner for More Than Just the Articles” [New York Times].

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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 (JB):

JB writes: “Hurricane Irma split the maple tree in the front circle of our driveway in half. We finished taking it down over the weekend. This little guy didn’t see the humor in it and stood his ground until the very end and when I subsequently put my hand near him, he jumped aboard for a trip to a large oak on the side of our property. Funny thing wild life, it was as if he knew I wouldn’t hurt him.”

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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. sgt_doom

        Speaking of election meddling, I seem to recall a couple of guys named Frank Wisner, Jr. (sort of a stepfather to a dude named Nicolas Sarkozy of France) and John Negroponte fomenting false scandals using the Franco-American Foundation in France; false scandals against Sarkozy’s competitor in his first and successful presidential campaign.

        I also recall some financing and full support for a military coup in Honduras during the Obama Administration, which SecState Hillary Rodham Clinton was highly supportive of — which consisted of the overthrow of the democratically elected president of Honduras, President Zelaya.

        And there’s a bunch of other internal meddling, also quite a bit of stuff concerning Libya, Syria, etc., etc., etc.

  1. Roger Smith

    A few days behind, but I checked and did not see any recent shares in Links or WC: Is anyone aware of a decently in depth, objective piece on Germany’s AfD? The Salon piece linked a few days ago jumps right into the name calling and I’d like to read something that has a little less investment in what they want the readers to think about this group.

    1. DanB

      I will be in Germany for a week in late October. I have a friend who is quite left wing in his politics who tells me that AfD is grossly mischaracterized in Western media. I was planning a discussion with him and his pro-peace group and the issue of AfD has been added to the agenda. I’m hoping we can video record this and post it on Youtube. I’ll let NC readers know if this comes off.

  2. Karl Kolchak

    “The plaintiffs, the Irving (Texas) Firemen’s Relief & Retirement Fund, invested $2 million in Uber…”

    It’s so telling seeing fireman undercutting taxi drivers with their investments. Those fireman should be doing some soul searching instead of suing, for as long as there is zero working class unity in the country, nothing will ever change.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      Agreed in principle but I would bet these firefighters had nothing to do with that investment. Every union and employee-based pension fund I know of has strict separation between the members and the people doing the investing. The article claim Morgan Stanley was acting as the fund’s investment advisor. But even the trustees will either be a step or more removed from the actual firefighters (not clear if this is a union fund or, more likely, a public-employee fund just for firefighters) or will have signed some kind of waiver of influence over actual investments.

      There was a flurry of activity a decade or so ago encouraging unions to take more interest in their pension investments. It turns out they couldn’t and most of the union leaders liked it that way. (History of Teamsters’ pension doings is one reason why.)

      And all defined benefit pension funds have been chasing yield for the last 10-20 years. So they are all (or almost all) into PE and other worker-unfriendly investments. So whatever is “telling” about the firefighters in this case is true of virtually everyone with a pension.

    2. sgt_doom

      Well, that follows the typical union investments in private equity firms which use their investment to destroy the unions. One would think they’d have caught on by now, but I recall contacting the national labor news network some years back about their ignorantly reporting on National Association of Manufacturers’ “news” releases as factual news releases — but they sloughed me off.

      Guess they either will never learn or really don’t care . . .

      1. Mike

        Hmmm… how about the union “leadership” is totally in the pocket of a corrupt political party, and afraid to say anything because they are accused of being “socialists” and “un-American” if they do? The history of the union movement (not the craft-union AFL, but the CIO) says this story loud and clear. The combined AFL-CIO did more for CIA-led “unions” in Latin America (and some in Europe) while giving the ranch away here, retreating into “interest group” status so as not to tick off the oh-too-strong right wing.

        Money talks, so follow the money.

  3. Abigail Caplovitz Field

    Re the ‘why is Bernie ripping apart the Democratic party’ scolding

    there’s some odd projection going on. Why, when Clinton is the one out with a book that apparently (I refuse to read it) in no small part trashes Bernie for the primary, when Sanders repeatedly refuses being baited into smack talking Clinton, does the column say against Sanders supporters: “Now is not the time to relitigate the primary battle between Clinton and Sanders.”

    Why, when Bernie supported a Kansan who wasn’t sufficiently pure on abortion rights but the DNC folk attacked the Kansan on that basis, and when Bernie has worked hard to defend/fix Obamacare as immediately necessary on the road to single payer–does the article sat “Now is not the time to enact arbitrary litmus tests that will create even more chaos within the party.” as if it were a Sanders flaw?

    Why does the author defend corporate funding when Bernie’s fundraising proved it could compete dollar for dollar with corporate whoring?

    Why does the author defend the approaches and policies that lost Congress and statehouses across the country and scold Bernie supporters as wanting to lose for not choosing that ship to go down on?

    the whole article is pathetic. Once upon a time it would’ve made me irate, but now it feels impotent, so I don’t care enough to get mad (though I still can’t resist commenting to point out some of its most glaring flaws)

    1. JohnnyGL

      “Once upon a time it would’ve made me irate, but now it feels impotent, so I don’t care enough to get mad (though I still can’t resist commenting to point out some of its most glaring flaws)” — I’m with you on this.

      Between this one and the BBC article on Michelle Obama, it’s just another tired round of Dems yelling at voters and telling them how they should behave. They didn’t listen in 2016 and show no signs of doing so. Neither article will change anyone’s mind or silence/intimidate anyone into playing along. These days I like to monitor articles like this as a measure of the level of insecurity felt among the Beltway crowd. They know their entire careers are at risk. If they stopped hectoring us, I’d worry something was wrong.

      I also find it charmingly quaint how Joe Manchin, Cassidy and Graham, and many TV news hosts yell words like “socialized medicine” and “it’ll bankrupt the country” about single payer as if it’s going to have some magical, scary impact. The world these people grew up in, and made their careers in, it’s shifting beneath their feet. They’re losing control and struggling to regain control of the narrative.

      I think this is partially why Hillary Clinton is personally struggling so much….and why she’s turned the blame cannons toward Bernie, and hard, too. She finally realized that he’s winning the long game. This is crushing the world that she build her career on — that of incremental, centrist progress based on neoliberal, pro-corporate ideas.

      1. David J.

        On the ground here in Lexington KY. Our local state Senator is going up against Andy Barr in the house. Reggie Thomas is a good guy, a capable legislator, and he’s a fine candidate. You may have noticed in the recent past that the national Dem party has put up an ex-military pilot to primary against Thomas. She had a well-crafted ad that made national buzz when she announced her campaign. Raised a lot of national money off that ad. She is a carpetbagger–hasn’t even lived here for a quarter century. And when pressed about health care, she hemmed and hawed and wouldn’t endorse single payer or M4A. In other words, shades of the Ossoff campaign.

        A couple of days ago Thomas posted a web ad to his site that was quite nice. I’m going to have fun volunteering for him!

        Scroll down to the first video.

        1. JohnnyGL

          Your guy came across as sincere, likeable and with a clear idea of what he believes in and wants to achieve.

          Are you sure he’s a Democrat? He might need to practice to get better at speaking lots of words that sound nice while committing to nothing concrete.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Agree with JohnnyGL, above. The fact that the Democrat establishment is so shrill about Sanders just shows that he’s getting to them and they’re clearly feeling very insecure.

      They ought to be.

    3. voteforno6

      I am increasingly of the opinion that the Berniecrats should own this. The next time someone whines like this, the response should be something along the lines of, “Well, yes we did kill her campaign, and if you motherf***ers don’t listen to us next time, we’ll kill that campaign as well.” That would kind of take the bite out of that complaint.

      1. PhilM

        Well that would be a good idea, except that to admit strength is suicide in the current political discourse of the American left. There, the only recognized civic virtue is that which arises from victimization–real or notional, personal or vicarious, experienced or imagined.

        Now to be sure, certain kinds of “being oppressed,” however noteworthy in history, don’t qualify as virtuous in America, and actually never have: such as being an Irishman. Outside of the Boston police department, we Irish have never been in what you would call a “protected group,” despite being nearly genocidally exterminated, slaved, and dispossessed for a millennium.

        But the example of the Irish is no reason to go around claiming to be strong! No sir, do that long enough, you’ll find yourself on the right, through guilt by association.

        1. Darn

          Being Irish certainly qualifies as virtuous, hence having Irish politicians to the White House every St Patrick’s Day!

    4. Darthbobber

      Do the Clintonites have anything to say that they haven’t already yammered on about for months? It seems like I’ve read almost exactly this same Evil Bernie article 20 times this year. With different authors, but basically making the same bare assertions in almost the exact same words. Can’t they come up with at least one variant on the theme? Thought they claimed to represent the “creative class”?

      Basically, an analysis of a factional dispute that studiously pretends only one side is throwing punches.
      No litmus tests unless they can be deployed to keep some evil Sanders supporter from becoming mayor of Omaha.

      I could go on, but why bother. In keeping with standard insider Dem practice, they aren’t even making any arguments that would convince someone who didn’t already agree with them. Perhaps they believe that if people ignored them the last couple of dozen times it was just because they weren’t shrieking loudly enough.

      1. Darn

        Perhaps they believe they have a hard core of Clinton loyalist voters who do believe this stuff, and they keep churning it out in order to retain them (and deny them to Bernie). The 8% of Dems who have a negative view of Bernie that is. (Each has a Twitter account, alas.)

  4. PNWarriorWoman

    “Michelle Obama scolds female Trump voters” frustrating to read and far too easy to say in Boston. I would point her and others to this informative post. When you live in the Mahoning Valley, you live in the shadow of death. The Death of America in Small-Town Ohio. Neoliberals deindustrialized the entire Rust Belt and here we are. Never ever coming back? Sure … say it. Think it even. But let’s be clear. Democrats handed the Rust Belt to the Republicans on a silver platter.

    1. David

      I must have missed Michelle Obama’s subsequent endorsement of Marine Le Pen against Emmanuel Macron on the same grounds. Can anyone provide a link?

      1. johnnygl

        Yep, and remember how the obamas stood up and defended Dilma Rousseff, 1st woman prez of Brazil, against the craven, corrupt, flagrantly sexist politicians who organized a coup agaunst her???

        Oh, that’s right, my bad, they couldn’t be bothered. They were too busy lobbying to pass TPA and TPP.

      2. Basil Pesto

        Again, a bit of a false analogy. The criticism from this angle isn’t (just) because Hillary is a woman and women are the best, but also because Trump is a big ol’ misogynist and/or sexist who has a history of saying and doing pretty crappy things vis à vis women which, as far as I know, Macron isn’t. The lack of consideration of Stein at all in this line of criticism is a definite blindspot though, and besides that her comments are still doltish.

    2. Anon

      Amazing how one could be the wife of a president who delivered nothing to wide swaths of the country and not jail a single banker can then say straight-faced that women turned their backs on the one voice least likely to improve said situation. Life’s little irony?

      1. johnnygl

        Crazy to think women might vote for the guy who promised to put their husbands and brothers back to work instead of voting for the candidate who promised them a “voice”.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Obama beat Hillary Clinton and John McCain. Trump on his way to defeating Jeb Bush, trashed John McCain then defeated Hillary, who much like 2008 demonstrated she didn’t seem to understand what the threshold for winning actually was. Then there are the 1000 seats lost under Obama’s leadership of the Democratic Party.

      Its possible much like the Clintons they just aren’t that good at politics. The “Hillary is every woman” campaign just failed miserably.

      1. johnnygl

        Bill Clinton beat George HW Bush in the teeth of a recession and Bob Dole in 1996 with a roaring economy behind him.

        The Clintons’ real talent is fundraising. Same with Nancy Pelosi…see a pattern here???

  5. Wukchumni

    “Cash demand soars in Puerto Rico after hurricane hit ATMs, card systems” [Reuters]. If you think that so-called natural disasters will increase in the future, then eliminating cash is very bad public policy.

    Cash would oh so be king after a Carrington natural CME event or an atmospheric nuclear blast simulating the same. That’s what going on in PR now, no electric money.

    1. The Rev Kev

      In this part of Australia there were catastrophic foods back in 2011. Power got knocked out which meant no ATMs working. I had some cash that allowed us to buy necessities which really helped out. Those who only used cards were all out of luck. If cash had been eliminated beforehand I guess that we would have been all back to bartering for a living.
      Handy hint: If disaster is heading your way, make sure to not only charge your mobiles but make sure that you have credit on it as well as text messaging never failed back then even though the phone and the net did.

  6. Basil Pesto

    Anybody remember Obama endorsing Macron? If that’s not “meddling,” what is?

    I agree entirely with your argument preceding this sentence, but this does seem like a false analogy to me. The (unsubstantiated) accusation against ‘Russia’ as I understand it (and it’s a bit hard to tell as things are becoming increasingly incoherent and hysterical) is that the Russian president has ordered some kind of clandestine effort to 1. unleash a propaganda campaign in the frankly risible form of a paltry $100k of facebook ad spending and, more seriously but still unsubstantiated, 2. tamper with the actual logistics of the election and colluding with one of the candidates or his staff. Obama was, at the time of the French election, a private citizen – although admittedly one leveraging his outsize celebrity – publically expressing his opinion. This might have been a bit different if he were still president, and may have drawn more criticism. At the same time, I do seem to remember various heads of state expressing disapproval of a potential President Trump so who even knows.

    re: his wife’s comments though. Christ alive. Because there’s nothing the electorate likes more than being told by its leadership: “you’re a big dumb stupid idiot”. Besides the tactlessness, I find the whole ‘group x voted against their rational self-interest’ criticism quite pernicious – and bizarre when it comes from people who are typically so quick to condemn victim blaming in other contexts. To give an extreme but, I think, valid historical example: There’s no doubt a number of Jews voted for the NSDAP in the 1933 German election. But it would be unconscionable to blame them for the barbarities that followed. And yet.

    (An aside re: iron oxide and micro-organisms, I read this wiki article last week. “Chemical and microbial analyses both indicate that a rare subglacial ecosystem of autotrophic bacteria developed that metabolizes sulfate and ferric ions.” neat!)

      1. Darthbobber

        Or when he attacked Corbyn.
        Or when he combined “Qadaffi must go” with “Regime change is not our objective” in the same paragraph with no mainstream “journalists” perceiving any contradiction.
        Or when one of his State Department hacks, at a Moscow venue, opined about how Putin shouldn’t run for a third term.
        Or, or, etc. etc.

  7. Elizabeth Burton

    If I understand gerrymandering correctly, the party in power reviews the number of voters in their party living in specific districts then redesigns the districts such that the majority of voters of their party are included.

    So, if that’s the case, why is gerrymandering given so much power during election discussions when it seems to me all that’s necessary is for the opposing party to come up with a platform that will appeal to the likely fair percentage of independent voters in that district and get them to the polls?

    Am I missing something?

    1. Big River Bandido

      I don’t think you’re missing it, but the whole thing about coming up with an appealing platform puts the Democrats in the position of having to choose between their corporate masters and the voters.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Gerrymandering illustrates a very important point about voting.

      Everyone can vote, but depending when how the map is drawn, the result can be quite different.

      The same with Medicare-for-All.

      You can have Medicare-for-All, but how successful it can be depends vastly on cost containment and whether we tax solely the super rich or with 4% on everyone.

  8. Wukchumni

    “Celebrities Remember Hugh Hefner for More Than Just the Articles” [New York Times].

    I’d hang out with Heff one Saturday every year, sometimes 150 feet away-sometimes a couple hundred, and his table below the stage always had an accompaniment of 6 beauties-with a total age of around 137, at a bunch of Playboy Hollywood Bowl Jazz Festivals.

  9. djrichard

    Regarding the cash shortage in PR, PR has an opportunity to inflict shock doctrine in the other direction. The Gov of PR should engage in MMT (Modern Monetary Theory) and generate their own currency, so they can get cash into people’s hands without them going into debt to the ATM machines. Just make sure they get the tax collection working at the same time. If they can get this “virtuous cycle” working, then they’ll eventually have the option to cut the cord with the US currency permanently. That would be a shock to the US. More importantly, it would be a shock to central bankers (equivalent of what Hitler did to resuscitate Germany from the effects of the Weimar republic, though obviously not to that scale).

      1. djrichard

        Oh yea, forgot about that part of the stock treatment. Default on it.

        Edit: what did Hitler do? I guess he paid off the reparations for WWI by buying gold on the open market? I’m sure if PR is booming, they’d find ways to be neighborly and pay it back. Also PR currently has a trade surplus with the US, so they would be able to accumulate surplus US dollars as it is.

        1. epynonymous

          They can’t, under current law.

          The reason the debt ponzi got so out of control down there is that there is a unique set of statutes guaranteeing the impossibility of default. (Markets may prove otherwise, but the law is clear.)


          “One proposal seeks to allow Puerto Rico’s public utilities to declare bankruptcy, as they could if they were the instrumentalities of a state, rather than a territory. About one-third of Puerto Rico’s debt burden is owed by such utilities.”



          Maybe relevant. One worker for the USFL claims Trump owes him a promised quarter-million in payment he reneged on.

          Funny how people keep saying the same kind of things about Trump being a serial defaulter…

          1. djrichard

            Once they’re decoupled from the US currency, they’re effectively no longer part of the US. That would be the whole point. And it’s not like the Fed Reserve would allow them to issue a competing currency anyways. Anyways, if they’re not part of the US, everything would get renegotiated, just like with Brexit.

            Of course, there’s a lot of islands in the Caribbean that are not on the US dollar and they have less lights on at night compared to PR even during normal times. So ignoring all the transitional risks (a la Greece re-adopting the Drachma), there would still be end-game risks. But if we believe what we’ve been saying about the government-based fiat as the mechanism to more fully unlock an economy, then there’s only one way to find out. So far, we have Germany after the Weimar republic as one data point. As far as the other the islands in the Caribbean are concerned, I believe they’re all still on central-bank-based-fiat, including Haiti and Cuba.

            1. todde

              Germany’s economy was ran in the principle of autarky.

              Instead of trading with you they just invaded and took what their economy needed.

              1. todde

                They also started slave camps, confiscated corporate cash, they did give bonds for the cash and established complete control of their border In regards to capital, goods and people.

                They were pretty creative on the finance side but it was totalitarian.

                1. Wukchumni

                  For what it’s worth dept:

                  In occupied countries, the Nazis issued primarily coins for circulation, while the Japanese were all about fiat paper money for circulation in their spoils.

              2. djrichard

                That’s not how Germany boot strapped themselves. Look into MEFO bills and the other chartal mechanisms they grafted onto their fiscal spending.

                It worked so well it made them into a war machine. Then they started invading other countries.

                  1. djrichard

                    If I’m a trading partner, when I receive fiat in exchange for my goods, I expect to be able to repatriate that fiat back to the home country from which they came in exchange for goods from said home country.

                    Or is the idea that government-based fiat somehow less effective as a means of trade? If so, that means that government-based fiat in the home country is not functional.

                    1. todde


                      And with an American dollar you can buy and invest in a vast plethora of items.

                      What’s PR got to trade when American capital and American citizens and American dollars flee the island?

                      Or do you suggest PR should be like the Nazis and deny and severely limit travel?

                    2. djrichard

                      Let’s use Greece as an example because their infrastructure has’t been destroyed. If Greece did a GREXIT, there was all this concern about capital flight out of Greece. You know what, let the wealthy send their euros abroad, no big deal. Because when Greece issues the Greek Drachma instead, those same wealthy players will simply hoover up that currency instead as part of doing business and they’ll recycle it back into the Greek economy. They’re not going to stop hoarding the wealth they can hoover up in Greece simply because it’s in a different currency. So they’re not going to shut down their businesses in Greece. And if Greece is generating a GDP, they’ll still be doing trade with other countries. Greece doesn’t need to resort to naziism to lock down flow of people, goods and currency. Why should that even be in their playbook?

                      So only difference with PR is that they lost their infrastructure. Again, they can bank against future GDP as a way to secure loans from trading partners.

                      Final point. The US currency is the lingua franca of currencies as you point out. But if two countries have no reason to trade, it doesn’t matter which currency they use. Vice versa, if two countries have reason to trade, it still doesn’t matter which currency they use. The only time this is not true is when oil is involved, as US has mandated the petrodollar. But does this mean that all those countries that trade in oil should therefore adopt the US dollar as their home currency?

                    3. todde

                      Greece imports medicine from other countries. They don’t buy it with drachmas. Greece is worst off than PR when it comes to exiting a currency. PR at least has a high income economy.

                      That’s why Euros fleeing Greece is a bad thing. When people can’t get the medicine they need, or jobs or food, then they will flee the country.

                      So it will be in the same predicament that Nazi Germany was in in the 1930’s.

                      Germany solved their foreign currency problem by annexing Austria, and looting their banks.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Keep saying the same thing.

            We should be open to the merits of each case, but give delayed weighitng to ‘people keep saying the same thing,’ for that is how ‘just repeat it enough times and people will believe’ propaganda 101 works.

        2. Mike

          Much evidence that Britain and the US “helped” the Nazis with loans and industrial investment up to and after the declaration of war by Roosevelt. If it were not for Hitler’s Helpers in the West (including Ford, Bush family, GE, IBM), he could not rearm to the point of invading the East, i.e., the Soviet Union, where, IMNSHO, Churchill and Roosevelt thought much of his (and Japan’s) energy would go. We only landed on Normandy when it looked like the USSR was winning the war, sending shockwaves throughout the capitalist world. Even the learned idiot David Horowitz said as much before his “conversion”.

          1. cm

            We only landed on Normandy when it looked like the USSR was winning the war, sending shockwaves throughout the capitalist world.

            That’s an interesting allegation. I wondered about the US tactic of simply stationing men in England… Do you have any sources to back that up?

        3. todde

          I didn’t realize Puerto Rico was self sufficient. Or had an army or navy.

          Who’s going to accept their currency on the world market when it comes to buy material to rebuild?

          Not a viable option.

          1. David Richard

            There’s no reason a country has to be self-sufficient (an autarky to use your term) to be a candidate for government-based fiat. Lincoln used a government-based fiat (the greenback) during the civil war and the US traded internationally as well at the same time. Even Germany (when it was on government-based fiat) had international trading … at least with those that didn’t shun them (in general countries that weren’t part of the central banking clique). Some argue that those trading blocs precipitated WWII as well.

            Still your point is well taken. PR will need to surge their imports well above what they normally import in order to rebuild. Which is vastly simplified if the US steps in fiscally.

            But would it be impossible to finance otherwise? What do other countries do when their GDP suddenly tanks due to infrastructure being wiped out? Do they just slowly recover to where they used to be GDP-wise at some point in the distant future? Or do they get loans from trading partners to rebuild more quickly based on the ability to tax/monetize future GDP?

            One more thing about PR’s need to rebuild. The rebuild will require a huge amount of labor on the island itself to put the infrastructure in place. A majority of that labor pool already exists there. This will be a huge make work program for the local populace, a perfect match for government based fiat. And I suspect that paying for that local labor will dwarf what they need to pay for the surge in imports.

              1. djrichard

                Well to be honest, there are countries that would be more than happy to step into the breach. But let’s ignore that. And for the sake of argument, let’s assume PR does make good on its bonds to the US. That’s not incompatible with doing a PREXIT. And I suggested that as the path forward above. So please ignore what I said above about PR defaulting on the bonds to the US. I said that in jest.

                1. todde

                  Either way you look at it PR is stuck trading for American dollars or some other foreign currency.

                  If having your own currency to print as needed was the answer, Zimbabwe would be an economic powerhouse.

                  1. djrichard

                    Germany didn’t have a Zimbabwe outcome.

                    In fact, Germany rescued themselves from a Zimbabwe outcome by printing their own currency. Go figure.

                    1. todde

                      Germany took over other countries resources and succeeded.

                      Zimbabwe tried to take over Congo’s resources and lost.

                      You seem to be ignoring the fact that Germany acquired foreign resources not thru trade, but war.

                      You seem to be ignoring the fact that without war, Germany’s economy would have collapsed.

                    2. todde

                      if you want to use Germany as an example, do you have a way PR can recreate the Anchluss and the raiding of that country’s foreign currency and gold?

                      Or the take over of Sudetenland’s manufacturing base?

                      Some other items Germany did that PR may not want to do:

                      pre-war slave camps.

                      confiscation of private citizens property.

                      looting of corporate coffers.

                      You seem way to focused on the printing money part, it can work, if you can create a demand for it, or as Germany did, build a military with it and successfully conquer other countries and take their capital and resources.

            1. todde

              We’re PR’s trading partner. The USA is pretty much it for a trading partner as far as PR goes.

              So they’re going to default on loans and then turn around and borrow again?

                1. todde

                  hard to expand an economy when you are paying off debt.

                  They export to American at a surplus, get American dollars and then give it back to pay off debt.

                  And then they will have to export more goods to buy the raw materials and goods they can’t manufacture themselves from foreign countries.

                  And then manufacture even more goods to adsorb their domestic money supply to prevent hyper-inflation.

                  Eventually you run out of manufacturing capacity.

    1. Wukchumni

      As banks were closing all over the place in the early 1930’s and cash was scarce or non-existent, a good many cities across the USA issued what is now called ‘depression scrip’ to facilitate trade locally.

      Here’s what one looked like:


      In the book “The Great Depression-A Diary” diarist Benjamin Roth called these ‘white rabbits’. One aspect of the times I wasn’t aware of that the tome clued me in on, was that there was an active trade in people’s passbooks of banks, which traded anywhere from 40% to 65% of what was in the account, that they wouldn’t allow you to access in terms of making any withdrawals.

      Why’d people buy them then, you ask?

      Said banks also had a ton of foreclosed real estate on hand, which you could buy from them using one of those passbooks full of money, and in essence you were getting a 2 for 1 deal…

  10. Jim Haygood

    From “repeal” to “reinforce”:

    Sen. Schumer said Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander, a Republican, and ranking Democrat Patty Murray had resurrected a bipartisan approach [on Obamacare], which had been cast aside amid the latest near-vote on a repeal bill.

    Alexander and Murray had been working to protect the government payments made to insurers to help reduce medical expenses for low-income Americans enrolled in Obamacare. Alexander also wanted states to have more flexibility to design insurance plans under the program.

    “They both inform me that they’re on the verge of an agreement, a bipartisan healthcare agreement to stabilize markets and lower premiums,” Schumer said on the Senate floor on Thursday.

    The pact could buoy health insurance companies, which came out forcefully against the Republican repeal effort.


    Well, there you have it, folks. Subsidies to insurers must be protected. UnitedHealth, Aetna and Cigna have to eat too. If patients consumers obtain some accidental benefit, that’s just icing on the cake. :-)

    1. Jim Haygood

      Needless to say, this can-kicking exercise does nothing to address America’s outlier status as a country that spends vastly more on health care than its peers, yet obtains poorer outcomes.

      Going out on a limb, I’m guessing that the health industry’s superb lobbyists negotiated even richer subsidies than before. Boost subsidies from the gov, while hiking premia on the victims consumers — it’s what ol’ Robert G Allen used to call Multiple Streams of Income. Har har har … ka-ching!

      1. djrichard

        It doesn’t take too many years of subsidies before it adds up to what it would cost to buy out the insurance companies themselves (based on their market cap).

        That said, my recollection was that the subsidies weren’t supposed to go beyond so many years. Or am I mis-remembering and they’re indefinite?

  11. Kim Kaufman

    “So it could be quite politically significant that tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans, maybe more, are expected to permanently move into Florida as the result of Hurricane Maria.”

    One of the few times I actually listened to Rush Limbaugh for more than 30 seconds, he was going on about immigration. He said he would be OK with anything… as long as They Never Get The Right To Vote.

    1. Vatch

      Since Puerto Rico is part of the US, Puerto Ricans are US citizens, and it really isn’t immigration for them to move to one of the US states. But I suppose Limbaugh doesn’t understand that.

  12. Oregoncharles

    ” that Sanders won West Virginia. ”
    What kind of primary does West Virginia have?

    IOW, were only Democrats voting?

  13. Vatch

    “The special election featuring Annette Taddeo (D), Jose Felix Diaz (R), and independent Christian “He Man” Schlaerth was held on September 26, 2017. Taddeo won the election.”

    I’m looking forward to elections that feature Evil-Lynn and Skeletor.

    1. a different chris

      Actually if you dig in…from the Miami Herald:

      “It’s what his rugby teammates have called him for years,”….Schlaerth, an adjunct sociology professor at Barry University, Miami Dade College and the University of Miami, …is a registered Democrat, … disillusioned with the party…

      He most identifies with the “Social Democratic Labor Party,” he said — a group he helped found with his friends in January unregistered with the state — and hopes to “fight for the worker.” He pledged not to take money from corporate donors”

      Sounds like my kind of guy. There’s a Miami New Times story that also says pretty much they feel that way too. Oh well.

  14. marym

    Act Blue has a donate page for donations for Puerto Rico to these charities:

    The Humane Society of the United States’ Disaster Relief Fund
    Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund at CPD (Center for Popular Democracy)
    Hispanic Federation
    Portlight Inclusive Disaster Strategies
    United Way of Puerto Rico
    Puerto Rico Community Foundation
    Taller Salud

    The Humane Society and Hispanic Federation are on Charity Navigator, which also has links to the organization websites.

  15. Yan

    On the beauty patches and “toilette”. I have not read the article but a fun fact is that those pieces of cloth started to be used to hide the marks left by smallpox on the face. Those pesky diseases did not care much for class. Maybe now somebody can gene-edit an influencer disease and put to good use CRISPR technology.

  16. JTMcPhee

    “The power to destroy a thing is the absolute control over it.” So, the militaries of the US, Russia, France, England, Israel and the other “nuclear states” with enough “devices” to trigger that nuclear-winter-fallout thing control the planet and the political economy? And the carbon extraction and combustion interests, all the way down to me and my Ford Ranger, apparently have the collective power too… At least the Kwisatz Haderach, Paul Atreides, who also wielded that control (of the “geriatric spice”) also held a vast awareness of that power, and some kind of self-restraint…

    1. PhilM

      The power to destroy a thing is nothing like control–absolute, or otherwise; it is only the negation of control. Anybody with a sledge hammer can destroy a car; only someone who knows how to drive, has a key, has a license, and owns the car, has any real measure of control over it. Control is enormously complex at every level–unlike Frank Herbert’s understanding of the world.

      Frank Herbert and Robert Heinlein were childlike in their simplicity. Now Philip Dick is much less quotable, but ever so much more perspicacious about humanity.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Tell that to the guy with the hammer. Or the cop who stops you on suspicion. And I’m guessing most people who “control” a car don’t “own” it either– monthly payments to the man. The guy who drives the garbage truck controls it then.

        And it sure seemed to me that Herbert had a pretty complex understanding of the world. With whatever that says about me.

        1. PhilM

          Does the man with hammer control the light switch? Can he read a book by that light, when he’s finished “controlling” the light switch with his hammer?

            1. PhilM

              It’s not at all semantics. It’s very important, in logic and in meaning. If Bernie Sanders had absolute control of the Democratic Party, there wouldn’t be any discussion of his destroying it. Herbert’s saying is simply a false dictum that is pernicious because it exaggerates the value of vandalism. Possibly Herbert simply got confused in his causality: someone who controls something can destroy it, sure; whereas someone who can destroy something most often does so simply because he cannot control it and sees no other option, or simply has a tantrum.

              That’s not Bernie, by the way. I think he could have done much more short-term harm to the Democrats, if he were that kind of guy.

              Why anyone would quote Herbert as an authority is a mystery in any case; it’s not as if this blurb was an apophthegm of Erasmus or something. You might as well quote Robert Howard, author of the Conan series.

      2. Yan

        I think you are making a simplistic reading of the whole power to destroy. More than objects, what it refers to, in my humble opinion, is a system. A good example of this would be the ECB/Troika over Greece.
        Your idea of the sledgehammer is simplistic in this way: the guy has a sledgehammer yes, but that does not mean that he will invariably destroy the car if he so wishes. The same applies to your idea about nuclear weapons. It is also implied, I humbly posit, that you have to have the ability to destroy it without destroying yourself in the process; like the ECB vis-a-vis Greece, for example.

  17. Mike

    RE: “The Crazy Imbalance of Russia-gate” [Robert Parry, Consortium News], AND “A Republican on the Senate intelligence committee says Russian internet trolls are using the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to stir up unrest in the United States” [NBC].

    Oh, no! My son has acne and he never had zit for 5 years! It must be the Russians stimulating his glands and blocking his pores!

    We are so weak and vulnerable. Besides, it’s not like election rigging was never tried before (Bush v. Gore and Kerry – Florida, Ohio, etc.) Who helped (and taught) whom here, Republicans or Russians? And now Democrats have learned the lesson well. Who knew education had such range?

    1. John Wright

      And Russia spends on defense roughly what the USA spends just on NSA + CIA + FBI + TSA (around 70 billion/year).

      The USA spends about 10x Russia’s defense budget on defense.

      And Morgan Freeman and Rob Reiner talk about “war” with Russia…

      Also Russia spends a few hundred K and can derail Clinton ( who spent over 1 Billion trying to get her message across or about a 5000 x ratio (1E9/200E3 )

      So HRC, with her Hollywood and media connections was countered effectively by some Russians doing things on the cheap?

      If overseas foreign formerly communist countries can do manufacturing far more cheaply than the USA, maybe TPTB in DC are looking to subcontract out defense to Russia?

      NASA already depends on Russia for large payload rockets…

      Maybe the DNC is opening a field office in Moscow to tap the low cost and very effective talent?

      Or possibly the entire Russia-gate is the MSM and DNC trying to assert, unsuccessfully, that TPTB’s favored candidate loss was an anomaly and the MSM and DNC still deserve that special interest money to continue to flow to them.

  18. Richard

    Lambert – “Why, you’d almost think they don’t want to expand the electorate”
    One could also say that has been their defining principle for a very long time. Nothing bothers a machine politician more than a landslide.
    But now it seems to be so obvious.

  19. Tomonthebeach

    RE: Guardian Article on Adjunct Prostitutes

    I am so tired of these whiney exposés that pop up every 4 or 5 months that portray starving adjuncts struggling in the academic gig economy.

    The “P” in PhD is inarguably for persistence. Indeed, many students will wear down their committees and eventually get their coveted diploma. However, a PhD does not signify talent nor does it impart maturity. Justifying one’s prostitution based upon an unjust world argument reflects insufficient maturity to a) accept the limits of their talent, and b) go find a decent job in another role.

  20. Terry Flynn

    re ADHD

    Friend with it recently had added to his main medication the antidepressant agomelatine (Valdoxan) which comes at depression much more from the melatonin (sleep) angle. It hadn’t at that point been licensed in USA (or at least reimbursable by most insurers) but I haven’t had time to check it out recently.

  21. Terry Flynn

    I agree totally with respect to certain fields such as the social sciences in which I worked…. Lots of people who really weren’t capable of originality working in research.

    I can’t speak from personal expertise in the STEM fields but get the impression there *are* lots of good people being exploited re adjunct positions.

  22. XXYY



    “Adjuncting has grown as funding for public universities has fallen by more than a quarter between 1990 and 2009. Private institutions also recognize the allure of part-time professors: generally they are cheaper than full-time staff, don’t receive benefits or support for their personal research, and their hours can be carefully limited so they do not teach enough to qualify for health insurance. … An American Sociological Association taskforce focusing on precarious academic jobs, meanwhile, has suggested that “faculty employment is no longer a stable middle-class career”.”

    A couple of points on this passage:

    (1) “… don’t receive benefits or support for their personal research… ” This is described as a feature here, but it’s obviously a bug. Academia is about the only place left in the US where people are looking more than about 90 days ahead. The idea that we are cutting back on professor’s research is horrific and spells bad news for the entire country.

    (2) “… their hours can be carefully limited so they do not teach enough to qualify for health insurance.” People go on and on about the benefits of employer-based health insurance, and losing this insurance, which you supposedly love, is one of the boogey-men regularly deployed to make people scared of a national health care system. But obviously the need to pay for employee health care is a powerful driver of industrial policy in the US. And not in a good way. So let’s hear more about how the employment landscape would change if employers could get out from under the responsibility of providing health insurance.

    1. wilroncanada

      Adjunctivitis has grown concurrently with the need for universities/colleges to reduce the costs of teaching in order to pay the increased costs of administration. What is higher education for, eh? Academia is about the only place left in the US/Canada/Britain where SOME people are looking more than 90 days ahead, but not the administrators who outnumber and out-power the teaching and research staff.

      They are not cutting back on Professors’ research, but probably making them work more on research while using those adjuncts to do most of the ‘professing’. A bonus is that those adjuncts also ‘help’ the full professor do his/her research but the results, if successful are to the benefit only of the professor (and any big money that may ensue).

      It goes without saying that some kind of health care for all plan would benefit employers in general, and universities/colleges in particular.

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