2:00PM Water Cooler 10/18/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“America the Beautiful, but Divided” [Stratfor]. “Trump’s trade policies have best exposed the competing interests that have long driven a wedge between rural and urban states…. But many of the states whose exports and imports make up the largest share of their gross domestic product are also the onetime manufacturing behemoths of the American heartland, such as Michigan, Tennessee, Kentucky and Louisiana, that steered Trump from the campaign trail to the Oval Office. Trade is thus the issue that could cause cracks to form in the White House’s support base. By default, the president’s constituents — some of whom favor free trade, while others prefer protectionism — will be impossible to fully please. But more to the point, no amount of negotiation over the trade policies of China, South Korea, Canada and Mexico will reverse the technological progress that has weakened the American middle class and manufacturing sector. And if, after four years, Trump’s allies are unsatisfied with the results of his tenure, they may shift their support to another party yet again.”

“Canada, Mexico and the United States have reached an impasse in their quest to renegotiate their nearly quarter-century-old free trade agreement, concluding the fourth round of NAFTA talks on Tuesday with a frosty press conference where ministers detailed ‘challenges’ and ‘significant conceptual gaps among the parties'” [Politico]. “Recognizing sizable and potentially insurmountable disagreements on areas ranging from auto rules of origin to dairy market access and a sunset provision, ministers from the three countries agreed to delay their next round of talks by nearly a month, and they will extend negotiating rounds through the first quarter of 2018 — three months beyond their initial stated goal of wrapping up by year’s end. The next round is now slated to begin Nov. 17 in Mexico.”


2016 Post Mortem

“But now The Hill reports that the FBI in 2009 had collected substantial evidence — eyewitnesses backed by documents — of money-laundering, blackmail and bribery by Russian nuclear officials, all aimed at growing “Vladimir Putin’s atomic-energy business inside the United States” in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The bureau even flagged the routing of millions from Russian nuclear officials to cutouts and on to Clinton Inc.” [New York Post]. “There’s more: Until September 2013, the FBI director was Robert Mueller — who’s now the special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s hard to see how he can be trusted in that job unless he explains what he knew about this Obama-era cover-up.”

“The good ended happily, and the bad, unhappily. That is what fiction means.” –Oscar Wilde

[bangs head on desk].

“The citizen’s guide to Article 5, violating the norms edition” [Alice Marshall, Medium]. “A presidential election is not like some athletic contest wherein if you can prove the winner cheated you can strip him of his prize and award it to the runner up. It does not work that way.” But Larry Lessig thinks it does.

“Bernie Sanders Is Just as Bad as Donald Trump, Former British PM Tony Blair Suggests” [Newsweek]. Does anybody still take Tony Blair seriously, and if so, why?


“The threat by former Trump strategist Steve Bannon to go after sitting Republican senators with primary challenges is a textbook case of someone who holds a grand vision of politics but hasn’t demonstrated the ability to put tactical bite behind his bark” [National Journal]. “To his credit, Bannon understands the grand contours of Republican politics these days better than many GOP insiders… But Bannon has never shown any expertise in the nitty-gritty work of winning congressional campaigns. At Breitbart last year, he promoted numerous primary challenges to sitting members of Congress, none of which were victorious.”

“Bannon boosts Flake challenger, snubs Trump plea to back off” [AP]. Kayfabe. Amazingly, Trump is the face, and Bannon, the heel.

Trump Transition

“[MNUCHIN:] There is no question that the rally in the stock market has baked into it reasonably high expectations of us getting tax cuts and tax reform done. To the extent we get the tax deal done, the stock market will go up higher. But there’s no question in my mind that if we don’t get it done you’re going to see a reversal of a significant amount of these gains” [Politico]. “If that sounds like a threat to Republicans — and perhaps some Democrats — to pass a tax bill, that’s because it is. ”

“Despite media bleating this is a tax cut for the rich, even moderate Republicans who helped kill health-care reform should support such small-business and middle-class relief so long as this case is made” [Bernie Marcus, The Hill]. “But given the multi-leg stool that is the Republican Party, it’s not only moderates that must be convinced.” Block that metaphor! Because I’ve gotta say, not all stools are multilegged….

“It’s a Fact: Supreme Court Errors Aren’t Hard to Find” [Pro Publica]. “In all, ProPublica found seven errors in a modest sampling of Supreme Court opinions written from 2011 through 2015. In some cases, the errors were introduced by individual justices apparently doing their own research. In others, the errors resulted from false or deeply flawed submissions made to the court by people or organizations seeking to persuade the justices to rule one way or the other….

Health Care

“After several failed attempts to wreck the U.S. health-insurance system, Congress now has a bipartisan agreement to help shore it up. The deal could still fall apart — victimized by the president’s fickle support and committed opposition from conservatives in Congress — but it’s exactly the kind of rational compromise that Washington needs more of” [Editorial Board, Bloomberg]. This take, from yesterday, has not aged well.

Trump today: “‘While I commend the bipartisan work done by Senators Alexander and Murray — and I do commend it — I continue to believe Congress must find a solution to the Obamacare mess instead of providing bailouts to insurance companies,’Trump said” [Roll Call]. Trump yesterday: Trump called the Alexander-Murray move a ‘short-term deal’ that is needed to ‘get us over this hump’ until Republicans might find a way to send him a measure to partially or completely repeal the Obama-era law.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Resisting #TheResistance: A suburban mom’s views on where to put your pink pussy hats” [Washington Babylon]. What fun!

“Black voters’ views on why voter turnout dropped in 2016 and how to turn it around in 2018” [Working America]. “Working America canvassers had face-to-face conversations with 582 working-class African-American voters in central Ohio and sought their views. Our conversations reveal a community that deeply distrusts the political process. Economic issues are their overriding concern, yet almost half of black voters say it makes no difference to their economic well-being which party is in power. One Columbus woman, echoing many of her neighbors, said of voting, ‘Does it even matter?'”

“[THOMAS EDSALL:] A third-party candidate would need to start with $1 billion just to get off the ground. So you have to start with a billionaire. And they tend to be individuals and not party people—like a Ross Perot. They’re not coherent in the sense of knowing how they want to allocate resources. As for a “centrist” third-party candidate, the trouble is that such a position is so bland that it won’t appeal to anyone. We have a very polarized electorate. Michael Bloomberg, for example, could say, “I’m going to represent reasonable, thoughtful solutions.” People just drop off to sleep. And then you have the challenges in getting on the ballot everywhere, and where do you campaign? You’re no longer targeting the 15 battleground states; you might be all over the map. Our whole structure is geared to two parties” [City Journal]. Or you need a lot of $27-dollar donors who will give you a billion; Sanders got one-quarter of the way there in 2016. “[HENRY OLSEN: Sometimes [third parties] attract a committed following, but it’s always far short of a majority. Trump did something different: he took a minority of voters and created a plurality within the Republican Party, launched a hostile takeover, and then used the party’s institutional machinery to launch an attack on the other party. That cannot readily be duplicated.”

“In Iowa, Heartland Democrats Ask ‘What About the Economy, Stupid?'” [Roll Call]. “‘Obama winning Iowa in 2008 and 2012 kind of papered over a lot of the very serious structural deficiencies in the Democratic Party,’ said Pat Rynard, a former Democratic campaign staffer who now runs the website Iowa Starting Line. ‘The county parties started to kind of wither away. The thing was it was all obvious, but Democratic campaigns here in the state did not change up their strategies. They were still running the same ‘raise a bunch of money, poll test the top three issues and then run all of your campaign ads on those top three issues,’ and it just hasn’t been working,’ Rynard said.”

“Why are Democrats losing in the heartland? Here are some ideas” [Kansas City Star]. Third Way event. Grifters gotta grift.

“Real estate backs renegade Dems” [The Real Deal]. “The [Independent Democratic Conference’s] eight members — along with rogue Democrat Sen. Simcha Felder — give Senate Republicans a majority and have recently come under fire from the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. Many have painted IDC members as self-interested collaborators who’ve handed control of the legislative agenda to the ‘Party of Trump.’… But for New York real estate, the IDC has been a godsend. Through multiple election cycles, Klein and his colleagues have fallen in line behind Republicans and served as a key insurance policy on key issues like rent stabilization and tax abatements.” Ka-ching.

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of October 13, 2017: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose a seasonally adjusted 4.0 percent in the October 13 week, lifting the year-on-year rate by 2 percentage points to 9.0 percent in what is a positive signal for underlying home sales” [Econoday]. “The week’s strong results bode well for the recovery of a housing market that stumbled during the third quarter, partly as a result of hurricanes.”

Housing Starts, September 2017: “Single-family permits continue to rise in what, however, is the main positive in an otherwise weaker-than-expected housing starts and permits report” [Econoday]. “Single-family homes are the backbone of the housing sector and strength here not only points to greater supply in the new home sales market but also to gains ahead for residential investment in the GDP report. Not good news are permits for multi-family units which fell 16.1 percent…. Housing has been generally slowing and looks to end 2017 no better than flat.” And but: “The backward revisions this month were strongly downward.The nature of this industry normally has large variations from month to month (mostly due to weather) so the rolling averages are the best way to view this series – and it shows permits rate of growth declined, and completions rate of growth declining” [Econintersect]. “We consider this a weaker report than last month – and shows growth.”

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, October 2017: “Inflation expectations continue to weaken whether at the consumer level or, as in today’s report, the business level” [Econoday]. “Stubbornly low expectations for prices do boost confidence in purchasing power but they work against Federal Reserve efforts at boosting inflation.”

Architectural Billing Index: “Architecture Billings Index backslides slightly” [American Institute of Architects]. “After seven months of steady growth in the demand for design services, the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) paused in September. As a leading economic indicator of construction activity, the ABI reflects the approximate nine to twelve month lead time between architecture billings and construction spending.” Just in time for 2018 (nine months) or not (twelve months).

Real Estate: “What cities fighting for an Amazon headquarters can learn from Seattle” [Curbed]. “According to the most recent Office Market Snapshot from Green Street Advisors, a real estate analytics firm, there’s risk in Seattle’s dependence on just a handful of tech clients (demand from Microsoft is also forecast to grow considerably). But Seattle is still expected to grow above the major market average for the next five years, fueled by strong income growth and a seemingly bottomless desire for high-end office space.”

Commodities: “On Monday, the copper price surged to $3.25 a pound or $7,165 a tonne, its highest level in more than three-and-half years over optimism about the strength of the economy of top consumer China and worries about global supply” [Mining.com]. “Confirmation of mine disruptions came on Tuesday in Australia after world number two miner Rio Tinto announced copper production in the third quarter declined by 3% to 120,600 tonnes compared to the same three months in 2016, around 30,000 tonnes below market expectations…. Rio also cut back its guidance for the year.”

Retail: “Wal-Mart trails rival Amazon in online market share, but [The retailer’s U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore said] that a network of thousands of stores that can serve as hubs for online orders and distribution give the retailer a ‘second-mover advantage.’ Wal-Mart is shifting its focus from adding new physical stores to scaling up digital business, and it’s projecting that e-commerce sales will grow 40% in its next fiscal year” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “[Amazon] has won commitments to install delivery-locker systems in thousands of properties across the U.S., many of them before this year’s peak holiday shopping season. [S]everal of the nation’s largest apartment operators have signed on so far to a plan that could help Amazon consolidate its control over how goods make it from distribution centers to the front door” [Wall Street Journal]. “It would help apartment managers cope with a major problem: the surging pile of boxes that flood lobbies as online sales grow. If it works, the program called Hub by Amazon would shift how apartment operators deal with packages, and give Amazon an alternative to bringing goods straight to doors or to remote locations for pickup. It also would give Amazon the cost benefits that parcel carriers strive for by delivering big loads of packages to a single destination.” I wonder how many of those “largest apartment operators” are private equity, whose rents Amazon is now reinforcing.

Shipping: “Often we hear, ‘Do the math.’ It would be better to forget the mathematics, do the simple arithmetic! If you are reaching for the orderbook, think about two years or so down the line when the new ship is delivered” [Splash 247]. “What if demand has not gone up and the dry bulk index has dropped to the average of the last five years. Can you offset your increased capacity by scrapping at the average scrap price for the last few years? If this little mental exercise doesn’t pan out, close that cheque book and put it back in the desk. Bankruptcy courts are filled with petitioners who were overly optimistic.”

The Bezzle: “Kobe Steel Scandal Is Now Subject of Justice Department Inquiry” [New York Times]. “The company is reviewing records to determine the extent of the data falsification and whether any substandard metals were used in end products such as cars, planes and trains. Kobe Steel has said some 500 companies may have been supplied metal products that had falsified quality records, some of which date back as far as 2007.”

The Bezzle: “Child safety smartwatches ‘easy’ to hack, watchdog says” [BBC]. “Gator and GPS for Kids’ watches transmitted and stored data without encryption.” I’m beginning to wonder if these continued hacks and data breaches are in fact features, not bugs.

The Bezzle: “Your Computer Might Be Working for Currency Miners” [Bloomberg]. “Website publishers, for their part, are constantly seeking new ways to generate revenue. Subscriptions can be a hard sell. Ads are less than ideal: They often repel users, they can be hijacked by bots and Russians, and big players such as Google typically take a cut of the revenue. So some are resorting to an untapped resource: selling miners access to the computing power of the people who visit their sites.” And the same question as above. Maybe we want to replace the “Big Data” concept with “Bad Data.” Bad, bad, bad!

Concentration: ” Impax Laboratories Inc. and Amneal Pharmaceuticals LLC agreed to merge in a deal that that would create the nation’s fifth-largest generic-drug company by revenue” [Wall Street Journal]. “The merger comes as wholesalers and retailers are teaming up to become increasingly powerful forces in moving generics in the $84 billion market. Those operators have formed three ‘buying groups’ that are so large they have been able to squeeze generic-drug makers in negotiations. That’s led to falling prices for generic drugs and cut out some smaller manufacturers.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “30 years after Black Monday, could stock market crash again?” [MarketWatch]. By Betteridge’s Law, the answer is no. Case closed! Then again: “The chief worry is that the current market system has never faced a crisis scenario on par with Black Monday, [said Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research]. How it would perform is simply unknown. Also, there were no exchange-traded funds [ETFs] in 1987. Since their introduction in 1993, they now hold nearly $4.2 trillion in global assets, according to research firm ETFGI, and accounted for nearly a third of all U.S. trading in terms of value in 2016, according to Credit Suisse. ETFs are securities that track an index or other basket of stocks or securities, much like a mutual fund. But unlike a mutual fund, whose net asset value is calculated at the end of each day, ETFs trade like a stock.”

Five Horsemen: “Facebook’s 20.18% gain in less than six months forced an expansion of the y-axis after FB ran off the top of the chart” [Hat tip, Jim Hyagood].

Five Horsemen Oct 18

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 80 Extreme Greed (previous close: 78, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 83 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Oct 18 at 12:19pm.

Health Care

“The road to single-payer is being paved by two centrist Democrats” [Think Progress]. “Neither Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) nor Michael Bennet (D-CO) represents the Democratic Party’s rightmost flank, but both have distanced themselves considerably from the Democratic caucus’ left faction as well.” And the plan:

Kaine and Bennet want to create a new public health plan, which they label “Medicare-X.” This plan would be available to non-elderly individuals on the Affordable Care Act’s health exchanges. As the Washington Post’s Paul Kane summarizes this new health plan, it “would allow anyone to buy into a publicly provided plan using the network of Medicare providers and physicians, at similar rates, with lower-income workers receiving tax credits for the plan.”

The plan would initially be available only in “areas where there is a shortage of insurers or higher health care costs due to less competition,” according to a statement circulated by Bennet and Kaine’s offices. By 2023, however, “Medicare-X would expand to every ZIP code in the country.”

Wow. So slow-walking the public option to 2023 is the road to single payer. Honestly, how stupid does Neera think we are?

“Why Do Republicans (and Some Democrats) Vilify Single Payer?” [The Nation]. Let me guess… Ka-ching! (Not one single Democrat mentioned in the article, though.)

“[T]raditional Medicare still excludes hearing aids for Americans aged 65 and older. And in Oklahoma, the Medicaid program for the poor covers hearing aids only for children up to the age of 20. Private insurance plans vary, but most provide little or no help with hearing aids” [Oklahoma Watch]. “Today’s advanced digital hearing aids, which provide more hearing enhancement than yesterday’s analog devices, tend to cost from $3,000 to as much as $8,000 per pair when bundled with an audiologist’s diagnostic, fitting and follow-up services…. Research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine estimates that only 14 percent of people who could benefit from hearing aids actually use them.”

We have the greatest health care system in the world:

“Pennsylvania nurse’s union director ousted amid alleged financial irregularities” [Daily Times Business]. “The action was taken after a routine audit revealed what union officials described as financial irregularities, according to Patricia Eakin, RN, BSN, CEN, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Staff Nurses and Allied Professionals. Those irregularities she said, included, ‘unauthorized advances and expenditures’ [by executive director Bill Cruice]. Mark Warshaw has been named interim executive director. He has been the union’s organizing director for more than 10 years.”

Class Warfare

“University of Chicago Grad Students, After Being Told Their Labor Isn’t Work, Vote on Union” [In These Times]. “The election is being conducted against the backdrop of an ongoing court battle over grad student unionization that represents a double-edged sword for the university. A victory would decertify the union, and complicate grad student organizing at private institutions nationwide. But over the course of the case, the university’s hardline anti-union statements both in and out of court may have helped the union’s cause more than hurt it.”

“A Black Man’s Guide To Rape Culture: A Syllabus” [Medium]. With handy chart (like a Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, except written from Hell).

Because markets:

“While the White House rounds up and imprisons migrants, claiming deceptively that they ‘take jobs’ from Americans, human-rights advocates say that ICE’s private-prison contractors are running a scheme that employs the same ‘aliens’ as a captive workforce in federal detention centers” [The Nation]. “According to POGO, although prison labor routinely occurs in both government-run and privately contracted facilities, a key difference is that federal prison authorities report extensively to the public on conditions of detention. But prison contractors, as private businesses, have relatively little oversight and operate opaquely (even as they profit massively from government contracts).” This is super-nasty 13th Amendment stuff.

News of the Wired

“Why You Can Focus in a Coffee Shop but Not in Your Open Office” [Harvard Business Review]. This is certainly true for me (when I worked in an open office). I can also focus better in my garden, which has a good deal of noise from the street, wind in the leaves, insects, birds, the cat, than I can in a quiet room indoors.

“I don’t like reading logically. I love having a library of lots of odd books around me, and whenever I’m staying somewhere for a while, I buy a ton of books; I like to reproduce a kind of mini used-bookstore experience wherever I am. So I picked this book up on a whim” [The Paris Review]. One of the worst things about “search” is that it removes serendipity from the browsing process.

* * *

Reader Query

A reader writes in: “Do you have a clip from this Chris Hayes show anywhere? I can’t find it.” The clip is described in Business Insider, January 12, 2013: “Chris Hayes’ Explanation Of Money Is One Of The Best Things We’ve Ever Seen On TV.” Sadly, the Flash Player on the BI site displays nothing, and the URL to the clip (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32545640) doesn’t either. Can any readers, especiallly MMTers, help?

* * *

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 (PH):

PH writes: “Wondering if I should fry these up for breakfast since someone out in the woods likes to eat them — or maybe I should look for a dead rabbit in the shrubbery?

* * *

Readers: The Naked Capitalism fundraiser is over, and let me express my personal thanks to all those who have helped keep Naked Capitalism getting better and better. Water Cooler, however, is a standalone entity not covered by the NC fundraiser. So do feel free to use the dropdown and click the hat to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!


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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. Wukchumni

    .@TomPerez appoints @donnabrazile to rules&bylaws committee. Brazile left CNN after it was revealed she sent a debate question to Clinton

    But, but, she was only master baiting.

  2. WheresOurTeddy

    “Bernie Sanders Is Just as Bad as Donald Trump, Former British PM Tony Blair Suggests”

    Never have these 3 words been more true: Consider the source…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Blair was focusing on people, not ideas.

      Any person can have good ideas and bad ideas.

      Whether one person has more good ideas than another person, 1) time will tell, if not now, and 2) that’s talking about people again.

      Rather, we should judge one idea at a time, not thinking (too much) about or judging the person (too much).

      1. Darthbobber

        Blair is focusing on their common denominator, which is that they are both not from Clinton/Blair?Macron land, and therefore equally bad.

        And he’s actually harsher about Sanders than about Trump, (and harsher about Corbyn than the Tories), because he knows which ones actually threaten the centrists claim to also be the left.

        Since he attributes all this evil populism partly to the weakness of the “idea-making” center, perhaps he could spend hs time coming up with some of those needed “big ideas.” But alas, they inevitably take the form of “the mountain laboring and giving birth to a mouse.”

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And Blair is wrong to do that, relying on induction.

          Maybe those two he is focusing on haven’t shared one single idea with Clinton, Macron or Blair, that doesn’t mean they will not in the future.

          “Here is one idea from Mr. X. That looks bad to me.”

          “Mr X’s idea again. To me, it’s bad.”

          “Another one from Mr. X. Let’s me look it over. It’s bad, alright.”

          “From Mr. X? It must be bad. I know it, without looking at it.”

          It’s frustrating and people at that point give up. In science, it’s known as the Induction Problem.

          But I think we owe to ourselves to avoid the Induction Problem.

          1. Darthbobber

            Aah. You think he gets here due to flawed logic? I think you might be reversing cause and effect. He knows what he prefers and what sort of thing he wishes to reject a priori. And such logic as is deployed us used to justify, not ro reach, a conclusion. Or so it seems to me.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              I don’t know exactly, with all the details, how he gets to where he is today, here, but I only want to say that Blair should take every act or every idea, from anyone, one at a time, and judge it on its own merits.

              And not focus on the persons.

          2. WheresOurTeddy

            I reserve the right to dismiss anything you say after you’re party to war crimes.

            You do your thing, I’ll keep doing mine.

  3. Bill

    those mushrooms look like slugs have been munching on them. since the slugs slime away under a rock somewhere, I have never been able to use them as a reliable indicator for safe mushrooms. by the time the mushroom looks safe, it has been mostly consumed…
    I live in 5 acres of woods and need to get an expert here before I indulge.

    1. Edward E

      Looks much like a type of amanitas and at least six of this variety are very poisonous so I would recommend being extremely careful. Some can be boiled to release toxins and fried afterwards. I’ve heard of folks sipping on the water to get intoxicated.

  4. RN


    In any trade negotiation, there will be winners and losers. If the winners (e.g multinationals) are not going to compensate losers (e.g.worker bees), there is no point blaming Mexico or China or any other country. It is basically an internal (redistribution) problem and nothing to do with the competitiveness, trade barriers or weak currency or whatever. Changes to the trade barriers in a foreign country will only change the mix of winners and losers in the USA and will not eliminate losers.

    I think this is true irrespective of who the president is. – Bill Clinton or Donald Trump, it does not make an iota of difference.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s OK if they make losers of Wall Street, and winners of manufacturers.

      Bankers can re-train themselves and get work at new factories.

      It maybe that

      1. We will get more manufacturing jobs than jobs lost on Wall Street.
      2. Even if the two are the same, manufacturing is where healing or recovery is needed.

      So, we can redistribute jobs.

      “I used to work for a big bank. Now, I make solar panels.”

  5. flora

    “…The [FBI] bureau even flagged the routing of millions from Russian nuclear officials to cutouts and on to Clinton Inc.”

    So is Hillary’s agitating for war against Russia all about destroying the evidence ? Oh, I’m being silly. (removes foil bonnet) No one is that crazy.

    1. Roger Smith

      I just watched Jimmy Dore’s video on the article and he added in an interesting tidbit I had forgotten about; an internal Clinton campaign polling email showing that they found the most punishing issue to her electability was the uranium sale.

      Now if you want to put that hat back on for a moment, one could speculate as to whether or not her introduction of Russian hacking and stage setting for the “Trump is a Putin stooge” campaigning during the second debate and henceforth everywhere, was all in response to these figures. From the Pied Piper strategy to this, ‘my faults are actually my challengers’ bit. Then the media and IC community all jump in and dog pile on the initiative (either by muscle reflex or conspiracy, or some of both). Was the whole Lynch tarmack, Comey thing supposed to play into this someway? Do we know that Comey’s last minute letter actually hurt Clinton at the polls in any measurable way?

    2. Byron the Light Bulb

      Or a sting operation that resulted in an arrest of the kickback-er. Rosatom has a line in dismantling nuclear warheads to sell the enriched uranium for power generation. Hammering fractional orbital swords to fissile plowshares. We’re keeping it positive at the kite factory, yo.

    3. JohnnyGL

      Ask France why Sarkozy (I think it was him) was so anxious to get rid of Qaddafi in Libya after his re-election campaign was bankrolled?

  6. timbers

    “But now The Hill reports that the FBI in 2009 had collected substantial evidence — eyewitnesses backed by documents — of money-laundering, blackmail and bribery by Russian nuclear officials, all aimed at growing “Vladimir Putin’s atomic-energy business inside the United States” in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The bureau even flagged the routing of millions from Russian nuclear officials to cutouts and on to Clinton Inc.” [New York Post]. “There’s more: Until September 2013, the FBI director was Robert Mueller — who’s now the special counsel probing Russian meddling in the 2016 election. It’s hard to see how he can be trusted in that job unless he explains what he knew about this Obama-era cover-up.”

    Something tells me we’re going to be hearing a lot less about “Russia! Russia! Russia!” from the corporate media. Down from that 70% in that graph of issues the media covers.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Just in time! I’m almost finished with my learning of the Russian alphabet. Am about to move on to …

        … conversing in Russian.

        Thank you, corporate media. Without all of your “Russia! Russia! Russia!” hysteria, I wouldn’t have been so inspired to learn more about that country and its people.

  7. Wukchumni

    In the long slog that started out this century, moments of mirth were rare, and we never watched ‘sssshrubery’s speeches, it pained us so, but one day we’re watching one on the telly, and it becomes rather obvious that somebody or something cut the teleprompter feed, and listen to a church mouse caught in the trap, look at his eyes practically screaming ‘….MMMMMommmmY!… silently.


    And then about 5 minutes later, on he came to give the speech verbatim as it scrolled down the teleprompter, with nary a hitch.

  8. NotTimothyGeithner

    Who would take Tony Blair seriously?

    I would hazard a guess that the answer is the same person who would hire Donna Brazille. Except as an announcement that Tom Perez despises winning campaigns and really wants to make sure the left knows what he thinks of voters, what possible reasoning could exist to bring in Brazille on any project? Is it representative of deep seated racism still within the Democratic Party that only will tolerate only previously, approved minorities? At this point, its like asking the 1962 Mets to fill in for some other professional athletic team in another sport. Its so baffling. Couldn’t the seat have remained empty? Considering Perez has a second job, one would think he didn’t time to get to this appointment.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Her book is titled “Hacks”. It’s not about her, DWS, and the losingest crew of losers in 100 years, somehow.

  9. Roger Smith

    “A presidential election is not like some athletic contest wherein if you can prove the winner cheated you can strip him of his prize and award it to the runner up. It does not work that way.” But Larry Lessig thinks it does.

    But what if the runner up cheated too?

    1. Ted

      It is my experience that the particular delusion Lessig represents is rampant in Tenureland. This quote from the article seems to sum up my minority report from the Academy nicely:

      “We are perilously close to imploding into a failed state, with no government worthy of the name. One of the things that scares me most is how oblivious our political and intellectual elite are to this very real possibility.”

  10. Wukchumni

    It’s not as if being a master debater mattered to win the Presidency, I thought Hillary often had the upper hand when faced off against him.

  11. Foppe

    If y’all are willing, I’d like you to consider a few questions — especially those of you who live in the NE coastal states / Acela corridor (and secondarily SV as its supplier).

    Let me however start with a disclaimer of sorts. While I am still sort-of-young, and certainly didn’t actively experience the ’60s through late ’80s, I know that the anti-war movements in perpetrator countries has always been pretty milquetoast and haphazard, and more concerned with their own side’s treatment of their own humans as cannon fodder, than with the protection of the interests of those cast as other/subhuman/means to some end.* Having said that, I’m still very puzzled by the fact that idpol can coexist with this level of complete disinterest in stopping imperialism sold as self-defense.

    Now, there are of course other factors that play a role in normalizing the idea that killing other people because you don’t like their leaders or trade policies or whatever is okay. E.g., “r2p-think” (which doesn’t really create room for starting wars). Also, Obama’s and the Nobel Prize committee’s efforts to normalize the GWoT helped quite a bit, because of their aureoles. And time of course is a factor — people will have needed a bit of time to realize that, while 9/11 was a horrible event, the response to 9/11 could/can in no way be justified by its occurrence.

    However, 9/11 also changed a few things when it comes to the make-up of the US economy/society. Of course, there has been the disappearance of other forms of (mass) employment since the 1980s; which has probably increased the importance of the MIC as an employer — especially since 9/11. But since then, we’ve also seen the creation of an entirely new industry: the IC.

    With regard to its creation, how important would you say the rise of the IC as an employer of members of the professional class has been in changing respectable class attitudes towards war, and towards war- and “security”-related spending? (In that light: any idea how many of the folks who work for it self-identify as liberals?)

    Also, how important (if at all) would you call the fact that the media, opinion makers, talking heads, etc., live in the same area these folks do — and that they probably have overlapping social circles — when it comes to the issue of humanizing and normalizing this line of work, and thereby the security state?

    (Lastly, how important do you think the ‘color-blindness’ of the ‘war on terror’ for making it more palatable, even as the effects barely differ from earlier imperialist efforts to gain access to the world’s resources, then defended on ‘res nullius’ / ‘mixing soil&sweat’ and related grounds?)

    * I’m not trying to suggest that there were no principled antiwar protestors, but that, for those movements to be successful, they had to limit themselves to arguments that have little to do with (aggressive) war being inherently wrong.

    1. Watt4Bob

      But since then, we’ve also seen the creation of an entirely new industry: the IC.

      No, I believe what we’ve seen is the surfacing of a previously invisible ‘industry’ that had already grown so enormous that it could no longer remain hidden by the Black Budget, and people were asking questions.

      On 9/10 the MIC had $6trillion they couldn’t account for, and never will, and on 9/12 they started buying real estate, building shiny new buildings, and going on a hiring spree. ( I was invited to join the party, I did not go.)

      So now anyone asking questions about what they are doing with all that loot is laughed at instead of feared.

  12. Livius Drusus

    Re: Black voters’ views on why voter turnout dropped in 2016 and how to turn it around in 2018, the Democrats are learning the wrong lessons. The most common argument I hear is that the Democrats just need to put up an African-American candidate in 2020, no matter what their ideological leanings, in order to increase African-American turnout hence all of the talk around Cory Booker and Kamala Harris as candidates for 2020. Connected with this argument is the theory that African-Americans are more optimistic about the future of the economy than whites who suffer from excessive nostalgia for the mid-20th century. Thus, African-American voters are not attracted to populist candidates. The failure of Bernie Sanders to win the African-American vote in the 2016 primary is usually cited as evidence to support that theory.

    But the article makes two points that seem to put these theories into question:

    We asked our survey participants for their thoughts on the drop in voter turnout in 2016. Only 8.3 percent thought the decreased turnout was due to President Obama not being on the ballot; 45.9 percent believed the primary reason turnout fell was a dislike of both Trump and Clinton. This sentiment was slightly stronger (49.3 percent) among those who did not vote in 2016.


    On the community economic confidence question, white voters again express less concern and more confidence than black voters at the same income level:

    48.1 percent of lower-income white voters are concerned about the economic future of their community, 12.2 points less than the concern level of black respondents.

    27.3 percent of lower-income white voters are confident about the economic future of their community, 5.3 points more confident than black voters.

    So it would seem that African-American voters are likely ripe pickings for a populist candidate but unfortunately there is the issue of whether a populist could win in the Democratic Party primary. The common theory is that Sanders lost because older “church lady” types still dominated the black primary electorate and they preferred Clinton. Will a younger primary electorate in 2020 make the difference in pushing the party toward populism? Will an African-American neoliberal still win the black primary vote over a white populist if it comes down to that match up?

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      As for your last sentence, Kamala and Corey sure hope so.

      Who would you say the last populist candidate even was? Other than Sanders’ fixed primary loss last year, when did an honest-to-God populist even have a puncher’s chance at a nomination for a major party? I don’t consider it possible to be populist and not also anti-war, so LBJ and everyone since are out…FDR? Teddy Roosevelt? William Jennings Bryan?

      Even Bernie has blind spots on Russia, Ukraine, and the F-35 jobs progra-, er, fighter jet.

      1. Montanamaven

        John Edwards. But he was talked into voting for the Iraq War so he was not on the right side of that although he was the first to say, “My bad”. So he wasn’t a perfect populist. But don’t just read his speeches which are pretty awesome. His speech going against Wall Street is as good if not better than Bernie. Read his proposals. Free College with some work attached. Emphasizing poverty. The only Democratic candidates to go to Appalachia, was Robert Kennedy, Jesse Jackson and John Edwards. He was asked by that , well, jerk, Matt Bai of The NY Times, “Do you worry about making ending poverty your main thrust?” and he answered in words to this affect, “Yes, I do because if I lose no one will touch it again”. I said in 2008 that Obama was a brochure. Edwards was a User’s Manual. Not perfect,but in the tradition of Bryan.

    2. Summer

      “Will a younger primary electorate in 2020 make the difference…”
      When are people going to learn that is just another form of identity politics? “The youth…”
      And of all the identities to claim, it is the most fleeting.
      If “populist candidate” is one that addresses issues as they pertain to economic class, then a real battle for single-payer healthcare will be where you see the class divisions across racial and age lines.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Hillary’s results among young voters in 2008 and 2016 primaries were significant. She lost the ages old enough to vote for Gore but too young to vote for Bill in 1996. If you weren’t old enough to vote for Gore, you more or less had to be an immediate family member of a super delegate to have voted for Hillary in either primary. Her strongest base within the potential Democratic electorate is old.

        The post Watergate generation that gave rise to the ilk of the Clintons is dying. The “New Democrats” have been around for over 40 years now.

        1. Summer

          The post Watergate generation that gave rise to the ilk of the Clintons is a Beltway creation.

          I think the masses of people hold beliefs that reflect their circumstances and background, not their age.
          Whether or not a young voter pulled the lever or pressed the button for Hillary has less meaning to me than where those same voters, in the future, will send their children to school (just for example).
          If the official adult age is 18/21 for things, people fortunate to live long will spend most of their lives over 35.

          1. Deadl E Cheese

            I think the masses of people hold beliefs that reflect their circumstances and background, not their age.

            This is not the case

            And we shouldn’t be surprised by this, because a person can only experience the Great Recession or Watergate Investigations or 80s Crime Wave or Stagflation or Vietnam War once in their life. And if you live through several events, the impact of a lesser one will influence how you feel about a lesser one. The two recessions in the 50s didn’t cause an unraveling of the New Deal consensus like the one in the 70s did.

            1. Summer

              The impact an event has on one’s life (no matter the age) will be determined by one’s circumstances, coping abilities, knowledge, and relationships.
              I think if any of these change, the belief system can be changed and it’s not a matter of age. And events don’t just happen suddenly, they are the result of specific policies or actions taken for a specific group’s benefit.

              Also, there may be a larger disagreement about the legitimacy of the two party duopoly as a gauge of political beliefs for a nation or generation. Those “choices” have been bought and paid for long before the 21st Century. And there is a difference between actually experiencing an event and experiencing the political theater of an event. Whose “consensus”?

              Finally, experiencing an event and understanding what one has lived through are two different things. An “experience” is a process over time.

              Interesting note: the story linked to states: “The model works best for white voters.”

      2. b1whois

        identity politics involves appealing to a person’s identity as a basis of policy evaluation. gay marriage. affirmative action. the only policy that i see that has a basis in age is medicare, and it is only for the more aged.

        1. Outis Philalithopoulos

          This seems like an insufficiently broad definition of “identity politics” to me – one could say that identity politics involves attempting to mobilize people based on identity, but this mobilization is in practice not always based around policies. Take, for example, Clinton supporters suggesting that Bernie Sanders interrupted HRC in a way that was characteristically sexist – this was certainly identity politics, but of a sort that had no relationship to policy evaluation.

          1. B1whois

            So, do you think age is part of identity politics? I was trying to rebut that, and did some research on identity politics but it seems really hard to Define and understand. According to my reading, it only had to do with sex, race, and sexual preference. I just don’t think I understand the phrase

    1. Roger Smith

      I saw this yesterday, excellent article. My favorite little tidbit from it:

      …you will never get good leadership if you keep excusing your leaders for betraying you.

      That should be on a t-shirt. Put a big, fat picture of Obama’s mug on the front with that on the back.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Truth and reconciliation.

        Any progressives running for Democratic nomination must confront that, with past and current leaders.

        If he (or she) says “Obama was a great leader.” the listener must make up his/her mind about the candidate, and not invoke any 11 dimensional realpolitik excuses.

        1. WheresOurTeddy

          “Any progressives running for Democratic nomination must confront that, with past and current leaders.”

          He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

          Why do you think they’re re-litigating 2016 so hard?

          “ctrl + prt sc” exists, Oligarchy. So do video cameras. Never should’ve let us have hard drives capable of saving things from the memory hole.

          Wikileaks and leakers of all stripes are your babies, and treating them like bastards won’t make them any less so.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            And I don’t recall any leading candidates not saying “because Russia interfered.”

            The ones who can reject that are the ones to lead going forward, and not get stuck on re-litigating 2016.

            So far, can we name one who says “Obama was not a good leader (or a bad one),” and “the Russians didn’t do it?”

    2. Livius Drusus

      This is why leadership is really important. I don’t completely agree with the Great Man theory of history but there is some truth to it. FDR might have been the difference between the United States continuing as a democratic republic or becoming a fascist state. People forget that there was a powerful far-right in FDR’s day, possibly even stronger than the one we have now.

      The country was ripe for a major ideological shift when Obama took office. The Republicans and their ideology were in trouble after the disastrous Bush years. There were some people who thought that the Great Recession would mean the end of the neoliberal era and a return to something like the New Deal but updated for the 21st century. Obama blew it. He would have faced tough opposition to a return to the New Deal but he could use his immense media power as president to make his case. Obama could have traveled the county on a non-stop tour to push his agenda.

      Instead we got Bill Clinton 2.0. Thomas Frank got it right. Obama was never a liberal like FDR. Obama was a New Democrat through and through. Obama made the same arguments we have been hearing for decades. The answers to all economic problems are more “free” trade, more education, more meritocracy, more technology. This is why ideology does matter because it frames the issues for you and that produces your policy prescriptions. The problem with Obama is not so much that he is corrupt but that he really believes in the New Democrat ideology.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Democratic majorities were delivered when Obama was not on the ballot and Hillary was the clear front runner. The 2006 Senate map was tough for the Democrats (Jim Webb and Claire McCaskill became Senators; talk about less than dynamic personalities), and Rahm backed losers left a bunch of House seats the Dems won in 2008 with less terrible candidates. Then of course, there was a campaign where Obama and the Democrats swore they would uphold a significantly more progressive platform, and John McCain was clearly defeated.

        Obama aggressively worked against the mandate and was assisted by people who put their faith in him. One of the comments on the linked article brings up JFK as an excuse. Its a sorry excuse even if you believe in a JFK Conspiracy Theory because after all the Senate killed Julius Caesar. If Obama wasn’t ready for the fire, he should have stayed out of the frying pan.

        “Yes, we can” was closer to the story of the 2008 election than Obama. Pelosi to her credit did do a fairly reasonable job on the 2006 platform. Lily-Bedletter was delayed, but I think she hit the other goals in 2007 and 2008. They were smaller. George W. Bush seems like he wasn’t a believer in power of a veto as a political tool. Admittedly, the Democrats didn’t push to hard to keep the powder dry.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          That’s the tough part, when something is an art, and not a science.

          Here, we refer to the balancing act of not going too far in either direction, whether it’s about the role of individual actors, how much rain we need in a year, etc.

  13. Wukchumni

    Nice ‘shroom shot~

    One bill looms larger
    And society’s ills not small
    And the ones that Greenspan gave us
    Don’t do anything at all
    Go ask Alan
    When Ayn Rand’s fans fall?

    And if you go chasing returns
    And you know there’s no way they’re going to stall
    Tell ’em a octogenarian economist
    Has given you the call
    Recall Alan
    When the Dow Jones was just small

    When the men on the Fed board
    Get up and tell you where to go
    And you’ve just had some kind of mushroom
    And your mind is moving low
    Go ask Alan
    I think he’ll know

    When logic and proportion
    Have fallen sloppy dead
    And the White Knight is talking backwards
    And the Red Team plays off his head
    Remember what the shoeshine boy said

    Heed the Fed
    Heed the Fed


    1. Jim Haygood

      When the Dow is found
      To be fried
      And all the shares
      Within it die

      Don’t you want some T-bills to love?
      Don’t you need some T-bills to love?
      Wouldn’t you love some T-bills to love?
      You better find some T-bills to love

      Tears are running
      They’re all running down your breast
      And your broker baby
      He treats you like a guest

      Don’t you want some T-bills to love?
      Don’t you need some T-bills to love?
      Wouldn’t you love some T-bills to love?
      You better find some T-bills to love


      1. Wukchumni

        Very nice, but that’s how you survive the crash of ’29, when all the United States had going for it was:

        Biggest exporter
        Biggest creditor nation
        Biggest oil producer by a wide margin
        Being on the Gold Standard

    1. David Carl Grimes

      Why does everything have to have an app? How many apps can you have on your phone? I’ve been discarding apps. I don’t need an app each just to watch CBS or NBC or open my door or adjust my thermostat or cook my food.

      This food cart is trying to hit all the buzz words: automation, apps, self-driving cart. Is this peak insanity? It sounds like it but I could be wrong.

      1. Tom

        Reminds me of Arthur C. Clarke’s award-winning short story, The Nine Billion Names of God, but with a twist.
        One day in the near future, the Nine Billionth app will be downloaded and found to be yet another superfluous waste of time. All at once, people around the world will look up from their screens and rediscover the original interactive experience: real life.

  14. Vatch

    “Why Do Republicans (and Some Democrats) Vilify Single Payer?” [The Nation]. Let me guess… Ka-ching! (Not one single Democrat mentioned in the article, though.)

    If one’s Democratic Senator is not one of the 16 people listed here, then he or she is more interested in campaign donations than in the welfare of his or her constituents:


    This means that 30 Democratic Senators (plus independent Angus King) fail the test.

    As usual, contact information for Senators is here. It only takes a couple of minutes to make a phone call or to write a short message on the Senator’s web contact site.


  15. L

    Regarding Thomas Edsall’s comment:

    “As for a “centrist” third-party candidate, the trouble is that such a position is so bland that it won’t appeal to anyone. We have a very polarized electorate. Michael Bloomberg, for example, could say, “I’m going to represent reasonable, thoughtful solutions.” People just drop off to sleep. “

    To my mind this is exactly what is wrong with political chatter. The going assumption is that the “dynamism” of the candidate is the deciding factor not what they will actually do. Bloomberg could be as exciting as he wants but like other billionare “centrists” he defines “centrism” as privatization + deficit hawkery + cuts to social services. That message will not resonate. It is not what Trump or Sanders put forward and it is not something that will excite people who do value medicare, public schools, and social security.

    Third way did not fail because they needed better branding. They failed because they backed bad ideas.

    1. Livius Drusus

      I am not even sure if that is really “centrism.” Among the actual population centrism would be what is sometimes called populism, a mixture of liberalism on economics and conservatism of social issues. Populists tend to be underrepresented among the elites of both parties, though, so their views don’t get much play in the media.

      Bloomberg-style centrism is popular among the wealthy elite and their opinions are magnified by the media even though there are relatively few people who are economically conservative and socially liberal within the general population.

      The study breaks down the beliefs of voters in both parties by income. The parties tend to cohere pretty tightly — rich Republicans are much closer to poor Republicans than either is to the Democrats; and rich Democrats and poor Democrats share more in common than either does with Republicans.

      Still, there are important differences. The richest members of both parties have more economically conservative and socially liberal views than the poorest members. That gives them disproportionate influence over their agendas and priorities.

      See: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/06/new-study-shows-what-really-happened-in-the-2016-election.html

  16. Arizona Slim

    Could someone please explain to me why hearing aids cost so much? As compared to, say, eyeglasses?

    1. Tim

      Jamming studio grade microphones, AD conversion, signal digital modification, DA conversion and a monitor into such a small space is a difficult tech to design and manufacture.

      That being said, I do question why prices have maintained their resiliency over the last decade since digital aids became the norm.

      Some of it could be like your PC where they keep using more and more sophisticated software, which requires more and more powerful hardware to run it.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Regulatory approval is an ideal barrier to market entry. But on Aug 21st this year President Trump signed the FDA Reauthorization Act:

      The legislation requires FDA to regulate a new category of OTC hearing aids to ensure they meet the same high standards for safety, consumer labeling, and manufacturing protection that all other medical devices must meet.

      It mandates the FDA to establish an OTC hearing aid category for adults with “perceived” mild-to-moderate hearing loss within 3 years of passage of the legislation, and finalize a rule within 180 days after the close of the comment period.

      The Hearing Industries Association (HIA) has been advocating for higher levels of safety and consumer protection, as well as manufacturing and performance standards.


      Greedy rent-seeking cartels such as HIA, hiding behind government-erected barriers to entry, would rather charge $2,000 a pair to a small but well-heeled clientele than contemplate the populist horror of the unwashed, deafened masses treating themselves to $200 a pair hearing aids at Walmart.

      But from J-Yel’s point of view, HIA is only doing their job of fighting the price wreckers. :-0

      1. JBird

        Just “2000 a pair?” Frak me, try closer to $3000 (or more) a pair once the testing and fitting, which usually includes new ear molds. And last I checked, some people still have to pay out of pocket due to the various insurance/disability/Medi-Cal/Medicaid/Medicare loopholes.

  17. artiste-de-decrottage

    Regarding the reader’s question about Chris Hayes’s talk: could not find video but there is something like a transcript in the UP archives at msnbc:


    Note that this is from Jan 2013. Here is perhaps the key paragraph:

    “Enter the coin. It turns out that there’s a sub-section of the U.S. code called denominations, specifications, and design of coins that includes the following provision: ”The secretary may mint and issue platinum bullion coins and proof platinum coins in accordance with such specifications, designs, varieties, quantities, denominations, and inscriptions as the secretary, in the secretary’s discretion, may prescribe from time to time.” The original intent of this legislation was to give the secretary of the Treasury some latitude to issue commemorative coins for collectors, but the plain meaning of the statute is clear. The Treasury can issue a platinum coin in any “denomination” as the secretary of the Treasury designates. The idea of trillion dollar coin advocates is that the president would direct the treasury to mint a trillion dollar platinum coin, and then deposit it in the Treasury’s bank account at the Federal Reserve and–voila!–we now have a trillion more dollars in the bank, and we don’t have to worry about the debt ceiling.”

  18. Wukchumni

    Ever notice how the politicians with a cross to bear, usually sell out for 30 pieces of sliver?

  19. ChrisAtRU

    I do believe the video in question was an episode of Mr. Hayes’ then gig at “Up”. It was the #MintTheCoin edition with Stephanie Kelton and Joe Weisenthal (requires Flash).

    Condensed version from YouTube here.


  20. Huey Long

    RE: UChicago Grad Student Union

    UChicago insisted it wasn’t attacking the standard set by the 2016 Columbia ruling. Columbia’s students instructors, it conceded, worked when they taught, whereas UChicago’s didn’t. According to the UChicago administration, its grad students, unlike Columbia’s, didn’t provide any financial benefit to the university through their teaching, tutoring, grading or research.

    The university’s administration had to make provocative claims in support of this argument. First, it maintained that the entire university is run primarily for graduate students’ benefit. Quality undergraduate education, officials testified, was a “second goal.”

    UChicago was also forced to argue that no grad student labor—including teaching entire courses—had a benefit to the university more important than the experience it provided grad students. Professors with administrative positions and funded chairs testified that grad-student graders made grading more difficult and research assistants slowed down their research.

    In 1914 the Rockefeller owned Colorado Fuel and Iron Company didn’t want to give it’s workers a square deal so they struck. Instead of bargaining in good faith, the Rockefellers brought in the notoriously violent Baldwin-Felts Detective Agency to terrorize the strikers into submission.

    This ultimately touched off the infamous Ludlow Massacre followed by a ten day guerrilla war that only ended when Woody Wilson sent in the Army to restore order. John D. Rockefeller Jr.’s reputation was so tarnished by the affair he way forced to hire a contemporary of Eddie Bernays, Ivy Lee, to slather on the Bernays Sauce and salvage Jr.’s public image.

    Only a university founded by the thuggish Rockefeller clan, murderers of workers, their wives, and their infant children, could cook up some BS like this.




    1. a different chris

      I have to sadly disagree with the “only … founded by the thuggish Rockefeller”… part. Lots of pimples on this butt of an economy.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Thank you. If I hadn’t dropped out of college, I most likely would have gone to UChi for grad school (anthropology, not economics). You’ve made me feel much better about dropping out (which was a huge mistake, but I was a burnt out case.)

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Please dear God, UChicago is some 21st century branding thing.

      It has been the U of C forever.

      Also it is true that its primary mission is graduate and faculty research, not undergrad teaching. There are far more grad students than undergrads.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Not that it isn’t work when grad students teach, of course.

        And though subordinate to research for the institution, teaching was taken very seriously. 30 years ago the fact that profs taught all the undergraduate classes distinguished U of C from other top schools.

  21. NotTimothyGeithner

    “But there also were millions approved for transfer from Clinton’s campaign for use by the DNC — which, under a plan devised by Brazile to drum up urban turnout out of fear that Trump would win the popular vote while losing the electoral vote, got dumped into Chicago and New Orleans, far from anywhere that would have made a difference in the election.”


    Donna Brazile of “OMG Russa/Nader/tough environment/Republicans having more money fame” in case anyone has forgotten.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Perhaps now the DNC will decide the race is worth throwing a few nickels at? Or maybe they’re saving up so they can waste it on another failed presidential candidate that no one likes out side of people in the Acela corridor?

      Lambert’s terminology has infected my brain!!!

  22. Wukchumni

    “I don’t like reading logically. I love having a library of lots of odd books around me, and whenever I’m staying somewhere for a while, I buy a ton of books; I like to reproduce a kind of mini used-bookstore experience wherever I am. So I picked this book up on a whim” [The Paris Review]. One of the worst things about “search” is that it removes serendipity from the browsing process.

    I learned everything about us and the world around via a 1966 World Book encyclopedia that I read cover to cover as a yout. It set the tone for my schizophrenic selections now, going from aardvarks to Aztlan and everything in between the other 25 disciples. I think if the me of 10 was confronted with just so much information now, you wouldn’t know where to stop if you are inquisitive, as every story is connected to so many others, a mindfield of knowledge, if you will.

  23. Jim Haygood

    Ho hum … another day, another set of record highs in the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq indexes. Today the small-cap Russell 2000 index gained 0.57%, while it remains pinned to an eerie flatline this month. Does this chart look random to you?


    Today’s Bubble Bemusement chart of the CBOE Skew index is courtesy of the Z site, which seems to find it portentous by labeling it “crash risk.” But it doesn’t mean what they think it means.

    When traders buy distant out-of-the-money puts for crash protection in preference to distant out-of-the-money calls to profit from a melt-up, the Skew index rises. Currently it’s at its highest level EVAH:


    Is this bad? Study the chart. Just as the internet bubble was ending in Spring 2000, the Skew index dropped under 110 as a long bear market began.

    Similarly, in early 2008 the Skew Index again tumbled below 110, just as stocks were about to go over the waterfall and shed half their value.

    In other words, Skew is a contrary indicator. Put buying for crash protection signifies fear. Markets don’t top out when punters are fearful. They top on cries of “No fear! Shut up and take my money!

    1. ewmayer

      Thanks, Jim – interesting. I am failing, however, to see any kind of obviously-discernible signal in the pre-2010 period, either for the dotcom-bubble bust or the post-housing-bubble one which spawned the GFC. So why should us Bubble 3.0 watchers pay this metric any more heed than, say, the Hindenburg Omen scaremongering that was in vogue at ZH and such sites a few years back?

  24. Oregoncharles

    A friend who is nearly 90 had a hearing aid prescribed, but hated it because suddenly he could hear all the noises that normally we ignore (clothes rustling as we move, that sort of thing). So he bought an off-the-shelf one from the Fred Meyer (regional variety and grocery chain) for $20, likes it much better. Seems to be able to hear conversation.

    Might want to start with the $20 one.

    1. Arizona Slim

      My father had a hearing aid and HATED it. Absolutely despised the thing. If only he’d known about the cheap Fred Meyer alternative. It might have made his later years a lot more pleasant.

      1. JBird

        That is a not so rare problem, especially when people only use them in social situations. The brain loses its ability to process what it could before; unless you are dead your brain like muscles changes, and the ability to understand what one hears requires practice. The use it or lose it principle and one’s age doesn’t matter. If you have been hard of hearing for years and then put on aids and go to a party, you are doing the same as a couch potato getting up and doing a marathon. The former will make you crazy and the latter dead. It won’t work. Almost anyone at almost any age can do one, but it does takes time and work.


        Just encourage the person to go slowly, even if it is just 15 minutes in a very quiet room one day, then 20 the next. It takes time but their brain will re-acquire most, although never all, of its lost skills. And once they start getting use to the amount of noise and relearning how to listen, understand, and carry on a conversation, there are apps (of course!) usually for desktops, or for the confirmed Luddite some television setups, to improve their ability to discern, and understand further what is being heard. Although I would suggest asking your audiologist advice for best current programs.

        Just a marathon. Only its brain sweat. :-)

  25. Tim

    “Kobe Steel has said some 500 companies may have been supplied metal products that had falsified quality records, some of which date back as far as 2007.”

    I work in Aerospace and this is shocking. The backbone of airworthiness (a real process that minimizes the chance an airplane will crash to earth) is quality certifications of materials.

    What if there are 500 commercial airplanes flying around with substandard fuselages or wings that will begin cracking prematurely???

    This is so not good. I wonder if ultimately they will have to trace the material and scrap those airplanes.

    Cars are for little people and little people don’t matter, and besides traceability isn’t a thing for automobiles, so we’ll never know which cars have been made with substandard materials.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It will be harder to scrap bridges or skyscrapers, if their falsified products are deployed within.

      And Made-In-Japan, when it comes to air bags, metal products or nuclear power plant management, is about as good as Made-in-China.

      Japanese food, though, still is less greasy than Chinese food, recalling that recent photo of a postpartum meal for a new mother in Japan.

      1. c_heale

        Anecdotal I know, but my niece said that she found Japanese food very salty. My niece is Korean and Korean food is very salty in itself, so Japanese food in itself must be really salty!

        1. Harold

          It’s very salty because salt was used as a preservative. The Japanese historically have had a high rate of stroke, but it was better than starving. So I was told by a scientist friend who studies the effects of salt.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Was the work of people like W. Edwards Deming wasted in the end in Japan? After the war he taught Japan that if you go for quality, the world will come to you and that concept helped build Japan into an economic powerhouse. Looks like they let the MBAs take over the joint which might help explain how Japan has never recovered from its economic woes going on twenty years now. Did they not realize that if there was ever a disaster that could be traced back to their dodgy steel, that they would be legally liable for it? And this has been going on for some forty years now. Some of their steel was even shipped without inspection or with faked certificates. And who wants to buy steel from Japan that has a big question mark over its quality? They have just helped throw away one of their greatest competitive advantages. Cars are not such a great problem as they get turned over after a few years but airplanes go for decades. Tim nailed it when he pointed out what this means for the airplane industry alone.

      1. Gaianne

        Kobe Steel does not sell steel only. They also sold out-of-spec aluminum. This is every bit as bad as it sounds.


  26. Wukchumni

    Fodder for the Bulls: “30 years after Black Monday, could stock market crash again?”

    The one mechanism to unseat our reign of error, is to tank the stock market, as the errorist has now been around long enough to own it’s rise-and he can own the fall, of which oh so many 401k’s are tied into.

  27. Darthbobber

    Heard snippets of a joint appearance by Biden and Kasich held at the University of Delaware yesterday.

    Biden laments the lack of “consensus”, though with a vague disclaimer about “not that the center is always right”, and blathers on vaguely about imaginary points of common ground.

    Kasich is Kasich. On Healthcare he portrays a bunch of poor congresscritters held hostage on the Republican side by the Trumpies, and on the Democratic side by “Bernie and his boys.”

    He also opines that we’ve all forgotten our Bibles, and don’t remember about loving God and our neighbor and all that.

    In a sign of where the bar is really set for Trump to win praise from the establishment, Biden singles out Trump’s “demeanour” and “lack of knowledge of how government works” as the worst things about him.

    He EXPLICITLY says that Trump’s rhetoric is far more dismaying than any policy proposals he could posibly come up with. (Certainly in terms of what dismays the media and the politicos this would be correct. They barely cover policy in comparison with presentation of self.)

    So if the Donald could (he can’t) somehow contrive to talk like their model of what a president should talk like, and also be willing to let the old heads school him on how to “get things done here.” there would probably be a great sigh of relief and many public pronouncements about how much he’d grown in the office, all without having to change policy direction about anything.

    btw, is it possible that Trump’s real sin in these peoples’ eyes is not that he “doesn’t know how government works”, (though in many ways that’s true enough) but that he doesn’t CARE how government PRETENDS to work.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Killed not by a gun, but a car bomb.

      Will we ever know who commited the dastardly deed?

        1. Wukchumni

          A titillating read if you like something along those lines is:

          The Mormon Murders: A True Story of Greed, Forgery, Deceit and Death.

          Comes with a master forgery expert, subterfuge between LDS & Jack Mormons and more, oh, and car bombs. An outsiders look at the inner workings in the highest of the food chain in the church circa early 80’s in SLC mostly. When forger Mark Hoffman came up with the “White Salamander” letter that had Joseph Smith being led to the plates of Moroni by a cold blooded creature, that was seriously bad, so both houses of Mormon got into a bidding war to secure it, one to hide it and the other to trumpet it.

          A breezy read~

          1. Outis Philalithopoulos

            On this subject, I think “Salamander” is the most careful single book treatment. The one you mention has some details that are not found anywhere else, but it also contains occasional inaccuracies.

  28. perpetualPOOR

    Any city looking to add Amazon to your list of area employers, take note of the Curbed article.

    There is now a term for those of us fleeing Seattle, “206-flight.” I think this term gives nod to both the horrific aspects of Amazonian influence, but it also gives nod to our long-term Boeing influence.

    Glad to be leaving. Sad to see our fair city changed so much so that I had to.

      1. Edward E

        See what you mean, there is a kind of a resemblance. ?

        Hey, here’s something else for you, Lambert.
        MIT Technology Review

        Self-Driving Trucks

        Tractor-trailers without a human at the wheel will soon barrel onto highways near you. What will this mean for the nation’s 1.7 million truck drivers?

        Availability: 5 to 10 years


        Turning us into jellyfish. Morale is very low right now as it is with the automatic transmissions and radar crash mitigation systems. (Malfunction Junction)

      2. Edward E

        Also, here is the perfect beer ? for Hillary Clinton to cry into.

        Just one or two of these, I drink so little, can have me unsure who I voted for or even if I made it to the site. Maybe that’s what happened to Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio. Wisconsin is where I get them, at Woodman’s, think there’s a Flying Monkey brewery in Ohio. May not be related to the Canadian Flying Monkey brewery.

    1. perpetualPOOR

      I just sent my comments to Chipotle. Not one more dime from me.
      Make your wallet do the talking to this kind of BS.

  29. The Rev Kev

    Re: : A suburban mom’s views on where to put your pink pussy hats
    It is a pity that there are not more women like her in the suburbs. Sounds too like that she does not suffer fools gladly. I may be unfair thinking this but I wonder how many of those suburban women really think the way they do on universal healthcare & fair wages as described here or if it is a case on what their husbands are telling them. It would be like ‘Dear, if they bring those things in, we would have to cut down on non-essentials which would include your trips to Garden State Plaza mall!’ If I read this post correctly, she is saying that taking part of the #TheResistance is pointless if you do not have a plan of where you want to go with this. Sort of like that Women’s March on Washington that columnist Shikha Dalmia called “a feel-good exercise in search of a cause”.

    1. John k

      It’s the 10%, happy with what they’ve got, fearful they might lose it, status quo echelon. Perfect for the rod.
      A while back this was the 40%, throw in a few minorities and get the win, bush 2 was an accident.
      But neolib steadily cuts down on how many are happy with status quo. And if you can’t offer concrete benefits all that’s left is to bleat about why you was robbed the last time. Bernie shoulda asked, are you better off now than 4 years ago? 8? 16? But this comes too close to criticizing Obomber.
      Neolib continues, fewer will be happy in 2020. Dems will say, step right up for more of the same! Open borders, confront Russia, never, ever, etc… Expecting to win, hopefully more practiced with the blame cannons on Inauguration Day.

  30. ewmayer

    Just got done watching tonight’s Jeopardy! here on the U.S. left coast, and it provided a ase study in failure to minimize downside risk – the naval officer (Manny) who was going for his 4th straight win went into Final Jeopardy with $19,000, almost-but-not-quite a runaway over his 2 competitors at $9600 and $9200. I.e. he only needed to bet $201 to ensure that even if the gal in 2nd-place bet it all and they both got the answer right, he would win, while having almost 0 downside should he get it wrong. As it happened none of the 3 got the Final Jeopardy question right but Manny bet a whopping $17,000 of his $19,000 and lost out to the gal who hedged her bet.

    And a question related to one of the items that came up in te preceding round, which boiled down to the claim that in adding an ‘e’ to turn the word ‘can’ into ‘cane’, the ‘e’ is silent. Is it really considered silent if it modifies the pronunciation of a preceding vowel?

  31. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for posting the Treasury Secretary Mnuchin threat, Lambert: …”To the extent we get the tax deal done, the stock market will go up higher. But there’s no question in my mind that if we don’t get it done you’re going to see a reversal of a significant amount of these (stock market) gains” [Politico]. “If that sounds like a threat to Republicans — and perhaps some Democrats — to pass a tax bill, that’s because it is.”

    Unsurprising. Will be interesting to see how many legislators roll over for him.

    1. Summer

      Because they can’t wait for companies to actually turn big profits in order for stocks to rise…every quarter.
      There are two economies, not one.

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