2:00PM Water Cooler 10/24/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


2016 Post Mortem

“Jimmy Carter Unleashed: Russians Didn’t Alter Election, Obama Didn’t Deliver, We Didn’t Vote For Hillary” [Daily Wire]. An accurate headline for Modo’s catty interview with Jimmy Carter.


“McSally Outraises All Her Democratic Opponents Combined” [Roll Call]. “The two-term Republican raised nearly $1 million from July through September for her re-election campaign in Arizona’s 2nd District. That’s more cash than her five Democratic opponents managed to raise combined. McSally will need all the dollars she can get in what is expected to be one of the tightest House races in the country in 2018.”

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s challenges come from the left” [Orange County Register].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Trump voters are not animals to be studied by elitists on ‘safari'” [The Week]. Sure they are. The study was by Third Way, right? Anyhow:

In the small town where I live, I know one man, a veteran, who has three flagpoles at his house, one for the POW-MIA flag, one for a University of Michigan banner, and one for “hanging that son of a bitch McCain.” I know a charming older lady who is the secretary of her Presbyterian church’s historical society who drives a Saab that is older than I am and hoards sugar packets from the diner downtown. I know two high-school kids who complain about their Indian-American instructor at a nearby community college where they go for advanced credit because they “can’t understand him” while trading memes about the awfulness of white privilege on Facebook. I know a man who dips a can of Grizzly Wintergreen every day who enthusiastically supports gay marriage because gay people “should be miserable like the rest of us.” I know a businessman who thinks all welfare should be eradicated and donates hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in goods to his local food pantry. Only two of these people — the veteran, a Democrat who went for Trump, and the Saab lady, a Republican who switched for Clinton — are regular voters.

“Paying the price for Trump Derangement Syndrome” [Washington Times]. “[Democrats] spent three quarters of the year luxuriating in Trump Derangement Syndrome, regaling each other with tales of how much they despise the man who beat them last year, playing the game of ‘show me yours and I’ll show you mine.’ Every Democrat thinks his hatred of the president is bigger, brighter and better than anybody else’s. But now it’s time, like it or not, to start thinking about suiting up for the midterm congressional elections, and how to build a little momentum for the long slog toward Nov. 8, 2020. The early measurement everybody watches is money — ‘the mother’s milk of politics.’ Even milk just this side of sour is acceptable, and so far this year the Republicans are scarfing up most of it.” Well, that’s why Perez put all those corporate shills on the DNC, right? Think!

“Democrats’ George W. Bush Nostalgia Smacks of Political Opportunism” [Real Clear Politics]. Bush is a war criminal who should have been impeached for his program of warrantless surveillance, which involved multiple felonies. [Genuflects] Pelosi, of course, immediately took impeachment off the table after energy fro from the left won the Democrats the House and Senate in 2006. And here we are!

‘”Question the generals? Hell, yes” [Sun-Sentinel]. Westmoreland. MacArthur. The Bay of Bigs. And: “Then there was the lackluster Gen. George McClellan, whose incompetence likely extended the Civil War before President Lincoln finally dumped him.”

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers Index Composite Flash, October 2017: “Advance indications are picking up increasing signals of growth including the PMI composite” [Econoday]. “Strength in the manufacturing sample is centered in new orders and employment. Of special note are unusual delivery delays, which help lift the composite indexes and are the result of lingering disruptions and stretched workloads following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. … Note that private and regional reports are based on small sample sizes and offer no more than a directional signal for economic change.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, October 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District expanded for the twelfth consecutive month in October though at a slower than expected pace” [Econoday].”Today’s report points to a deceleration in Fifth District manufacturing activity to a more moderate growth pace, but optimism among manufacturers remains undaunted and may even be on the rise. It also offers a small shred of evidence to the Fed that wage pressures may be on the rise.”

Retail: “Baby-food suppliers may have found the formula for growth in China, at least for a while. Following a succession of health scandals, the world’s largest infant-formula market is booming again… with global dairy giant Danone reporting big sales gains and other providers including Mead Johnson and Nestle also noting improvements. The suppliers are benefiting from a brief upturn in Chinese births that’s unlikely to last” [Wall Street Journal]. Our horrible Western diet attacks Asia…

Commodities: “GOP Senators, Fueled by Industry Cash, Propose Bill to Expedite Small Scale LNG Exports” [DesmogBlog (GF)].

Commodities: “Only 4% of U.S. farms produce $1 million or more in annual sales, and those sites now produce two-thirds of the country’s agricultural output. The big operators are using their scale make farming more efficient and minimize risk, while managing vast acreage that can fill thousands of tractor-trailers a year. The growth of such farms is restructuring traditional supply chains built over decades around farmer-owned cooperatives. Instead, large farmers often seek to buy chemicals and materials from suppliers with direct links to manufacturers, and increasingly handle grain storage and sales themselves” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping; ‘For the first time since 2006, the shortage of commercial truck drivers has become the top-ranked issue facing the North American trucking industry” [DC Velocity]. If only there were some deus ex machina to solve this, some sort of invisible hand…

The Bezzle: “Dharma is the protocol for tokenized debt issuance on blockchains. We’re building an ecosystem of tools, standards, marketplaces, and smart contracts for originating, underwriting, and crowd-funding debt. Blockchain technology is reshaping the financial system, and we’re on a mission to build the base-layer infrastructure for the debt markets of tomorrow” [Dharma]. Please kill me now.

Honey for the Bears: “Apartments index, JOLTS chart, Rig count chart” (charts, all bad) [Mosler Economics]. All real economy stuff.

Five Horsemen: “Facebook and Microsoft are the big winners as the Five Horsemen approach the six-month mark, while the triple-A crowd (Alphabet, Apple and Amazon) are mostly market performers” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Oct 24

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 87 Extreme Greed (previous close: 85, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Oct 24 at 1:25pm. Back down to the 80s. Sad!

Health Care

“Single-payer would drastically change health care in America. Here’s how it works.” [WaPo].

“Rural Oklahoma hospitals say Blue Cross demands deep rate cut” [The Oklahoman].

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The DEA Says It Came Under Fire During a Deadly Drug Raid. Its Own Video Suggests Otherwise” [Pro Publica (UserFriendly)].

Class Warfare

“How Does U.S. Income Inequality Compare Worldwide?” [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “When we analyze countries within each group separately, interesting patterns emerge. For instance, income inequality in the U.S. is large, despite the U.S. having one of the highest levels of income per capita in our sample. Specifically, the Gini coefficient of the U.S. was 40.46 in 2010, very close to the average Gini coefficient of African countries in our sample.”

“Should tech companies run our cities?” [The Week]. No.

“America Has a Monopoly Problem—and It’s Huge” [Joseph Stiglitz, The Nation]. “Let’s begin with a simple question: Is there any reason why US telecom prices should be so much higher than in many other countries and service so much poorer?”

News of the Wired

“Macroscopic Evolutionary Paradigm” [Doc Huston, Medium (UserFriendly)]. Fun. More than fun? Readers?

“Coda is a next-generation spreadsheet designed to make Excel a thing of the past” [The Verge]. Excel haters, the tool for you?

“Try quickly typing 1 + 2 + 3 into the iOS 11 Calculator. I bet you won’t get 6” [Reddit]. Yeah, but the calculator is thin!

* * *

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 (MF):

Poppies are especially hard to photograph, because they almost seem engineered to catch the slightest breeze! Since for me, an exposure lasting a second or so is practically street photography, I don’t take many serious pictures of flowers.

* * *

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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. doug

    Re: Big Ag. ‘ more efficient and minimize risk, ‘ I change to ‘more efficient and concentrate risk’

    1. a different chris

      What? You apparently don’t understand that 3000 contiguous acres of a mono-crop run under one iron-clad command structure are more resistant than 30 geographically separated farms of 100 acres each, growing multiple varieties of said foodstuff.

      That type of thinking is where the North Vietnamese went wrong, if you even remember them. They…uh, oh that’s right. Never mind.

  2. Wukchumni

    “Jimmy Carter Unleashed: Russians Didn’t Alter Election, Obama Didn’t Deliver, We Didn’t Vote For Hillary”

    In Obama, we got Jackie Robinson…

    …albeit a Jackie that batted .177, got caught stealing often, and was prone to making unforced errors on the field of play, and was always lightly thought of, by the other team

  3. Wukchumni

    “America Has a Monopoly Problem—and It’s Huge” [Joseph Stiglitz, The Nation]. “Let’s begin with a simple question: Is there any reason why US telecom prices should be so much higher than in many other countries and service so much poorer?”

    I was just playing a version of Monopoly, where hedge funds get to buy up all the real estate, before the game starts. There also is no jail per se, as you can dip into the community chest as needed, to pay off civil fines while admitting no malfeasance, and pass go whenever you want-collecting each time.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The strategy for Monopoly is to: Buy all the houses. Don’t buy hotels. The rules don’t let you use tokens not found in the box. The trick is to have a monopoly on the houses.

    2. Greg

      I believe the rational is that the US is so expansive we do not benefit from close proximity appreciated by Europeans and therefore must pay more.

  4. Arizona Slim

    Slim checking in from Tucson.

    I know one of the Democratic candidates in the CD-2 race to unseat McSally. Sad to say, his campaign isn’t going well.

    Best explanation I have is that he’s a young man who’s lacking in the name recognition that D front runner Ann Kirkpatrick and close-on-her-heels Matt Heinz have. In third place is a former Secretary of the Army who I’ve never heard of.

    In addition, I think that there’s a lot of demoralization among the local Democratic Party faithful. Many of them were behaving as if Clinton would win, and, well, they could just jump on the Hill-Train and become part of her administration.

    We know how that worked out. Time for Plan B, and that doesn’t seem to include putting Democratic Party time, energy, or money into the CD-2 race.

    On the local level, our city council races have been quite lively. I live in Ward 3, which just had a three-way Democratic primary, and I’ve never seen anything like that before.

    The winner was one of those Trump Derangement Syndrome types, and it’s likely that he’ll win in November. I hope he gets over the TDS in time to focus on the business of running the City of Tucson.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Even bigger news from the Arizona Hilla-Republic:

      Condemning the nastiness of Republican politics in the era of President Trump, Sen. Jeff Flake on Tuesday announced he will serve out the remainder of his term but will not seek re-election in 2018.

      The bombshell, which Flake, R-Ariz., intended to detail Tuesday afternoon on the Senate floor, will further roil Republican hopes of keeping the party’s 52-seat Senate majority in the midterm elections of Trump’s first term, when the president’s party historically loses seats in Congress.

      He told The Arizona Republic ahead of his announcement that he has become convinced “there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party.”

      Another cloth-coat Republican bites the dust. :-(

      1. Darius

        The Republicans will keep their majorities because the Democrats can’t beat something with nothing, even crazy MAGA types. Perhaps we’re seeing the necessary implosion of the modern Democratic Party. That would be an optimistic take on it.

      2. Arizona Slim

        One of my politico friends just won a seat in the AZ House. I don’t know if she’s feeling symptoms of Potomac Fever, but she’d be a great addition to the US Senate.

  5. Louis Fyne

    —I know two high-school kids who complain about their Indian-American instructor at a nearby community college where they go for advanced credit because they “—

    For a teaching position, good communication skills are a must. saying this as a veteran of many smart, but accent-heavy, teaching assistants. Which is why even some of the best native-English speaking academic researchers are flat out lousy at teaching 101-level classes.

    Singling out those students’ complaint is not inherently unreasonable. obviously this all depends on the actual communication competence of the lecturer in question. reflexively resorting to identity as a means of explaining the word is lame.

    your mileage may vary.

    1. Oregoncharles

      My point exactly, still in moderation somewhere below; but I focused on just how different Indian pronunciation is from American. It’s effectively a new language. You get used to it, eventually, but that’s a lot of lost time.

      OTOH: the quote about gay marriage made me burst out in laughter.

  6. flora

    “Well, that’s why Perez put all those corporate shills on the DNC, right? Think!”

    Those corporations could richly fund their wholly owned subsidiary – the DNC – if they wanted to. Why should I subsidize the DNC?

      1. Louis

        I’m registered Democrat and, as much as I hate to say it, I found myself in agreement with much of Thomas Frank’s Listen Liberal.

        The Democratic Party has a “what’s the matter with Kansas” problem: i.e. the party has become dominated by people who check the right boxes on things like same-sex marriage climate change, or abortion but often have very different views on economic policy, especially on issues like regulation of the financial industry or taxes.

        I’m not saying issues like climate change, gay rights, or abortion don’t matter–they do. However, the mess the Democratic Party finds itself in is due, in no small part, to the failure of many in the party to look at the bigger picture once awhile.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          What democrats care about climate change? Gay marriage/rights advances were achieved through outside organizations.

          The vp nominee, kaine, was a huge proponent of clean coal and now fracking.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            “Clean coal” always struck me as some variant of a perpetual motion machine. Take carbon out of the ground, burn it, put it back in the ground, and somehow show a net gain of energy.

          1. JBird

            I guess having not having work, food, clothes, housing, and medicalcare one can pay for, or even the Bill of Rights is all good so long as the latest civil right du jour Is properly supported.

        2. Pat

          Another way of putting it is that those issues, which they spout but really do not support, were used to mask their corporate biases by showing how interested they were in human rights. Hah.

          For instance those antiwar Democrats have pushed for, supported or sometimes started almost every military action taken in the last twenty years. DOMA, a foul method of playing both sides that didn’t really was taken on by big Bill Clinton. What about all that fracking pushed and enabled by Barack Obama? Offshore oil rights?

          The truth of the matter is that at least the Republicans did pass legislation repealing ACA, sure they did it when it wouldn’t pass and it all came back to bite them in the ass, but name one thing the Democrats have ever passed for women, gays or about climate change, even knowing it would be vetoed. Can’t have that, their donors would have a heart attack.

        3. WheresOurTeddy

          Hard to get people to address the monopoly problem when idiotic intellectual cul-de-sacs like this exist.

          Math promotes whiteness. Who knew? Glad I have Rochelle Gutierrez (who doesn’t have a…oh wow this is embarrassing…math degree) to explain to me that “She concludes her argument with the claim that all knowledge is “relational,” or is, in other words, relative. “Things cannot be known objectively; they must be known subjectively.””

          Math is cold, universal, and absolute. 2 + 2 is the same in Illinois as it is in Islamabad and Indonesia.

          1. JBird

            People too often mistake the field of study as the problem rather than the people in the field as the problem. In this case it is not the math, it is the professors, or the students, or the families, or whatever, not the facts in math.

            I read about some symphony that was a having a women shortage, and the interviewers were saying and believing that they were being fair. It was suggested that for the performance test be done behind screens were the interviewers could not see the applicant. Guess what? The woman shortage was solved. Belief, even hidden bias, can perniciously tilt decisions, beliefs, and perceptions without the biased one ever realizing it.

            1. MichaelSF

              I watched “Fantasia” for the first time in a long time a couple of nights ago. The two harpists were women, the rest of the orchestra was male. I guess the harp was considered a “girl’s” instrument which probably would have been a surprise to several millennia of bards.

          2. Filiform Radical

            Not because I think it changes your point vis-a-vis Gutierrez, but simply out of enjoyment of the topic, I thought I’d chime in to say that math is not actually as universal as all that. It really depends on which axioms you accept and which you don’t. One of the better-known examples is the axiom of choice, which basically says that given infinitely many sets of objects it is possible to choose one from each of them. This is independent from the system of axioms (Zermelo-Frankel) which are used by most mathematicians, and work has been done in both Zermelo-Frankel with choice and Zermelo-Frankel with the negation of choice.

            Now, it might seem that the axiom of choice is obviously true, and indeed it is; however, it is equivalent to the possibility of breaking a sphere into 5 pieces, then rearranging them to form two new spheres, each with the same volume as the original, which is obviously false. Most mathematicians accept the axiom of choice, but there’s no real way to say which way is right. Similarly, I could challenge your assertion that 2 + 2 is the same everywhere (or, more accurately, disagree on the validity of 2 + 2 as an expression at all) simply by refusing to accept the axioms of Peano arithmetic, and there would be no rigorous, mathematical way to say that I was necessarily wrong about it.

            Only vaguely related, but I couldn’t resist. (Should I have put a hashtag in front of that last word? I can never tell)

      2. VietnamVet

        Thomas Frank connected with this post. There isn’t a difference between one oligarch and another. What matters is power and the privilege of wallowing in it. This can be a bit too much for the moral corporate mid-managers like retiring Senator Jeff Flake. But, God forbid, the media identifying that the West’s privatized (for-profit) foundation is shaking due to inequality, cash corruption, human in migration, climate disasters and the quarter century war in Iraq that is spreading across the world.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Democrats created this fantasy where they were finally being accepted by the wealthy and would forever be the beneficiary of corporate money instead of simply being perceived as the inevitable winners. Now that the Democrats aren’t winners, the rich are going to throw money at the party most likely to push for tax cuts and worship the rich in public.

  7. mothy

    Apropos of nothing, this seems like a bad Robocop-style future commercial for an AI-based, pill-dispensing in-home artificial family member, but it appears to be so very real and so insanely earnest:


    The gulf between the have’s and the have-not’s ever widens!

    1. Huey Long

      this seems like a bad Robocop-style future commercial for an AI-based, pill-dispensing in-home artificial family member

      Those were my thoughts as well, but apparently the VC’s have pumped $1.5 million into this HAL-wannabe (https://www.crunchbase.com/organization/pillo-health). Are the 10%ers really into this crap?

      I find the thought of having HAL 9000 in my kitchen nagging me about my pills and ratting me out to my doctors/relatives when I miss a dose absolutely horrifying.

      1. Annotherone

        Oh my! Talk about Trump being scary – Pillo is the scariest thing I’ve seen in a long while! The dopes in that video actually respond to the flippin’ thing too! How long before an updated version, when Pillo says: “I’m sorry Ann. Some people are waiting at the door, and your time is now up” ?

      2. The Rev Kev

        I too was creeped out by this thing. First thought was that Hey, it is using facial recognition software. Really, the thing is only a glorified pill-poper and somebody has to load up those tablets. Sort of like the internet connected kettle in that way.
        Want to know where this all ends? Look at the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkcKaNqfykg to see which direction this is going. I wonder if this was the work of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. People who think up things like this should be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

        1. Huey Long

          People who think up things like this should be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.

          Here here! Motion seconded!

          1. The Rev Kev

            Huey Long. I looked up the name and I knew that I recognized it from somewhere. Droll that. I read an article on him last year as he was such a fascinating character.

    2. clarky90

      Re “If only there were some deus ex machina to solve this”

      AlphaGo Zero: Self-Teaching Computer Systems Hides Grave Dangers To Humans

      “The game at the top of the page here is when a computer played its first game with itself, in public. I noted with alarm what was really happening: the computers agreed that the main function of the game is to connect five stones, PERIOD. All other considerations were unnecessary. Since these machines were programmed based on the more organic human run games, the first games of the computers were sort of ‘organic’ but this faded over time and now we see the true nature in this week’s news about a computer which had no input from humans but simply took the game to the nth degree, running through millions of probable game choices constantly.”


    3. polecat

      “Meet ZED 1099” ..

      “Go ahead, show ZED the bottle …”



  8. a different chris

    Totally off topic but should give a few of us a bitter grin, as we are becoming an embarrassment even to our Third World compatriots:


    The pull-quote I’m referencing is this: “Because of the large size of the district, it impossible to keep crews on one canal all the time so a rotation occurs ”

    Because you can’t buy another boat and hire another crew. That’s crazy talk. Ok then.

    1. Huey Long

      Because you can’t buy another boat and hire another crew. That’s crazy talk. Ok then.

      I know how to fix this! Privatize it! Those business guys will know how to fix it, just like they fixed Sears and Payless Shoes… /s

  9. Foppe

    FWIW, Greg Palast says he was told that Gore didn’t contest Florida because he had been made to understand that ‘sore losers’ didn’t get to feed at the trough (after which the chap became pretty rich, I think?).
    When asked, Hillary’s lawyers were also uninterested in asking for a recount in some state where Stein had sued without having a chance in hell to win, at which point the judge went along with Trump’s lawyers’ suggestion that only parties who might win the election if the outcome turns out to be sufficiently faked may bring suit as ‘interested parties’ (which sounds to me like a really unprincipled stance to take on the judge’s part, but w/e).

      1. Kurt Sperry

        Nobody can make losing pay like the Democrats. Some might suggest that it’s their actual job.

  10. Louis

    Despite the fact that Hillary Clinton not only lost the election but isn’t running for anything, the House Republicans are going to launch an investigation into the FBI’s handling of the email server investigation.

    1. Pat

      And why should her status as a loser and possible retirement from running for President have anything to do with investigating a clearly faux investigation. Something that should be done if only to discover the reason it was so clearly not done properly (did they feel there was no crime but felt they had no choice OR more likely why piss off the next President of the United States despite her thumbing her nose at laws and regulations that got lesser people fired and/or jailed?)

      1. Louis

        It matters because Hillary Clinton has already been investigated and, more importantly, cleared of any criminal wrongdoing in the email scandal.

        The Republicans aren’t looking at the investigation to to clear her name. To the contrary, they’re looking for a way to punish, and if possible, imprison her–if that fails they hope it will at least provide a distraction from the ongoing investigation of President Trump and his dealings.

      1. polecat

        Re. the word ‘Created’

        Correct me if I’m wrong .. but in this case, wouldn’t the more appropriate word be .. CONjured ?

  11. tonograd

    The era of putting band-aids on capitalism’s gaping wounds is finished, but one can’t help to imagine what kind of impact of an FDR-style populist would make in the upcoming election cycles.
    FDR’s economic bill of rights, for example. Hard to believe such a thing was once mainstream, even harder to understand that it was proffered by a Democrat, given today’s pitiful neoliberals.

    1. Wukchumni

      The important thing to remember about what FDR inherited, and put into play with his invention of socialism as we know it, now.

      The biggest manufacturer in the world
      The biggest exporter in the world
      The biggest creditor in the world
      The biggest oil producer in the world

      1. Huey Long


        Now we are:

        The world’s largest manufacturer of propaganda.
        The word’s largest exporter of arms.
        The world’s largest debtor.
        The world’s largest oil consumer.

    2. Huey Long

      The era of putting band-aids on capitalism’s gaping wounds is finished, but one can’t help to imagine what kind of impact of an FDR-style populist would make in the upcoming election cycles.

      Neo-FDR would get the Bernie treatment at best, and if that wasn’t successful in keeping him out of government, he’d get the JFK treatment. Neo-FDR would also need an army of violent brownshirts to counterbalance the power of the state security apparatus and to put the fear of God in the 10%’ers. Think anti-McMansion pograms in North Jersey, Westchester, and the North Shore of Long Island, brawls in the street with GOP’ers, strikes in critical industries such as transport, etc.

      FDR’s economic bill of rights, for example. Hard to believe such a thing was once mainstream, even harder to understand that it was proffered by a Democrat, given today’s pitiful neoliberals.

      I’m not shocked. The wave of sit-down strikes in the 1930’s scared the heck out of the ruling elite. Workers were not only organizing en-masse, but occupying factories and repelling efforts to retake them by the National Guard and the cops. FDR needed to co-opt the burgeoning American socialist movement and militant labor movements of the time and this is why we workers received favorable legislation such as the NLRA and FLSA.

      1. polecat

        In the 1930’s Americans didn’t engage in mindless digital narcissism, with a HELLpping hand of these things we now colloquially call .. FANGs .. , and tiny evesdropping, I mean … communication devices, that also double as spycams, I mean … cameras …
        I could go on, the point being that back then I think most of population who were not of the upper echelon interacted in a much more real, and empathetic way with each other, due to common national bonds between them that seem to vanish almost on a daily basis now.

        We’re all just primates …. many or most, with way too many distractions to care about the future, about each other, about the Earth, and our collective place in it !

      2. The Rev Kev

        Those workers back in the 1930s fought for their rights – and they got them. The working rights they achieved helped make America so prosperous in the post war years for so many of its citizens.
        Some of the grandchildren of these workers are developing their own way of protests in their own fights which you can read about at http://www.newsweek.com/americans-scream-helplessly-sky-donald-trump-election-anniversary-690889 I wonder if this is a Democrat protest. It sounds like it – high energy and visuals with zero impact.

  12. Wukchumni

    Debt bills advocate dept:

    Let’s say there’s a nationalistic bitskreig war, where the stated goal, is to undermine your adversary’s financial system in a no holds barred battle on imaginary fields of the internet.

    What does the victor accomplish, and to what future advantage?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Here’s a specific example of bitskreig on an archaic legacy network:

      (Feb 17, 2016) – Global transaction network SWIFT has reconnected a number of Iranian banks to its system, allowing them to resume cross-border transactions with foreign banks after the lifting of sanctions on Tehran, a SWIFT official said.

      Iranian banks were disconnected from Belgium-based SWIFT, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, in March 2012 as international sanctions tightened against Tehran over its disputed nuclear program.

      The nuclear deal says non-U.S. banks may resume trading with Iran. U.S. banks remain prohibited from doing business with Iran directly or indirectly.

      One result of Iran’s isolation is a Tehran Stock Exchange that trades at an average P/E of 7.5 — probably the cheapest on the planet — with a dividend yield north of 10 percent (inflation is 8.6%). There’s no Tehran ETF.

      I’m going to include Tehran in a new index of key eurasian oil exporters. Of course I cannot recommend that any USians buy it. That would be illegal and wrong! :-)

      1. Huey Long

        I’m going to include Tehran in a new index of key eurasian oil exporters. Of course I cannot recommend that any USians buy it. That would be illegal and wrong! :-)

        BUT, can we buy the shares of a London based firm that owns the Haygood Eurasian Oil Exporter Index? Would that then be kosher?

      2. Wukchumni

        I was a junior in high school when all of the sudden I had 5 or 6 classmates my age with ponderous Persian names that defied pronunciation, but I eventually mastered it.

        The strangest diaspora, in that a country’s wealth escaped to Irangeles, the 1%’ers.

  13. Lee

    “Please kill me now.”

    Sorry, you have to stay here and suffer with the rest of us. Misery loves company, particularly if that company is enlightening as regards the sources of socially constructed, avoidable suffering. I apologize for not contributing during the fund raiser but my cash flow is as a rule better after end of year. Cheers!

  14. Phacops

    Re: the WaPo article about healthcare.

    What am I missing?
    Lessee, for a rough, back of the napkin calculation. in 2014 Americans already spent $3-trillion on healthcare. Costs since then have increased by 8.18% with no ceiling in sight. So, current spending by Americans is about $3.245-trillion a year and WE ARE ALREADY PAYING $32.45-trillion over 10 years. Given that this spending will decrease by 28% by removing administrative and profit costs from insurers, actual spending will be about $23.364-trillion, or roughly $9-trillion less than the horribly expensive price claimed by the article. WHAT A BARGAIN!

  15. audrey jr

    With DeLeon and Steyer as Feinstein’s challengers for next years CA U.S. Senate seat who is there to vote for? I sure as heck ain’t gonna back either of those two in place of Feinstein.
    I don’t care much for Dianne but in the age of Trump Derangement Syndrome her ability to stay sane in the matter is a breath of fresh air and should be noted by other Dems.

    1. Homina

      If you think Feinstein has done a good or even mediocre job, go for it (or for whatever other reason). I generally start with a default anti-incumbent position before looking at rival candidates. And I think Feinstein is poor. IMO people who do poor jobs should lose their jobs as they’ve already proven to suck. Others, even if seemingly worse, at least haven’t proven it (if they do, vote against them next time; repeat until someone decent gets in).

      And rewarding poor job performance is clearly no way to get a poor employee to improve. Our reps are our employees, of course, or should be. At least imo and as one reason to vote for or against them. Any employee who blatantly and shamelessly goes against their employers’ interests should be fired.

  16. perpetualWAR

    Shocked that even ex-Presidents and ex-First Lady’s can be so petty.

    Not inviting Roslyn Carter to an ex-First Lady lunch? Just downright rude.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Good grief! And it wasn’t as if Roslyn hasn’t done anything since she left DC. She and Jimmy both volunteer with Habitat, and let’s just say that Roslyn knows what she’s doing on a construction site.

  17. David, by the lake

    Re Carter

    I only vaguely recall the 1980 election from my childhood, but I’ve always had the sense that Carter was (and is) underappreciated and that he is one of the most genuine, upright men to have served as President (certainly in recent history). The article only reinforced that opinion.

    1. Darius

      Carter was not a good president. He started a lot of neoliberal initiatives, like airline deregulation, that Reagan picked up on and ran with. He also swallowed the CIA line on the Shah. But as former president, he really seems to have had the scales fall from his eyes.

      1. gary

        Compared to all the boobs that came after him, he was good. He was the original “derangement syndrome” president. His goofball brother was constantly being used against him even though Reagan had a brother that was institutionalized. He put solar panels on the Whitehouse and wanted to put them in every single post office. That would have been enough stimulus to start a solar industry. The neoliberal mindset was infecting all the new Democrats elected to office since the mid-1970’s. The ultra wealthy elite were going to get their neoliberal agenda passed at any and all costs. The money spent on defense went for defense instead of defense contractors. He was blamed for a bad economy but at least you were allowed to make a living back then.

        1. Huey Long

          Compared to all the boobs that came after him, he was good.

          It’s like the difference between being up to your waist in poo vs being up to your ears in poo.

      2. Oregoncharles

        @ Darius: Agreed. At the time, I thought Carter deserved to lose, even if Reagan didn’t desreve to win. I must have voted for him anyway, but that was the beginning of the end of any attachment to the Democrats.

        Not incidentally, I thought and think his failures were because he was deeply beholden to the Rockefellers (liberal Republicans then) and Kissinger. He was a member of the Tri-Lateral Commission, their personal foreign-policy cats-paw.

        I think Carter knows this, and has been trying to make up for it ever since. A truly exemplary ex-President.

      3. JohnnyGL

        He never really renounced people like Cyrus Vance and Brzeznski who were the godfathers of his failed foreign policy.

        Sadly, many in the CIA still think they won the Cold War by giving Stinger missiles to jihadi terrorists, killing a few thousand extra Russians and condemning Afghans to a life of failed-state-istan, governed by the Taliban.

        1. beth

          From reading

          Back Channel to Cuba

          I actually think Carter would possibly restarted trade with Cuba except for the fact that Brzezinski blocked it. Carter was too polite or wishy-washy in making decisions. In any case, I’m not sure Brzezinski was worse that Kissinger about expecting all nations to bow to the wants and needs of the mighty United States.

    2. Wukchumni

      Carter was the last President to exhibit weakness and admit there are limits, and no leader since then has dared go that route, as the late 1970’s was a desperate time, with disco ascendant and long lines for gas discordant.

      I’m sure he meant well, but it didn’t end up going that way.

  18. Oregoncharles

    ” I know two high-school kids who complain about their Indian-American instructor at a nearby community college where they go for advanced credit because they “can’t understand him””

    The trouble is, it’s probably true, even though the guy is speaking English. Indian English is now a thing unto itself. I’ve had the same problem, with an engineer who had probably been speaking English all his life. I’ve met a few other English speakers I couldn’t understand, too, and that was before my hearing fell off.

    When your language is the world’s lingua franca, you’re going to encounter some extreme examples. Of course, that’s one way new languages happen.

    1. Huey Long

      When your language is the world’s lingua franca, you’re going to encounter some extreme examples.

      Shoot, it took me many, many, many viewings of Trainspotting to figure out all the dialogue and that’s English being spoken in the British Isles where the language originated for crying out loud!

      I totally agree with your point.

      1. Eustache De Saint Pierre

        I once did some work for a Glaswegian working class couple who had made good & lived in a sizeable house – nice people who invited me to hang around one evening. They led me to one of the wings of the house to a small room which was laid out as a modest sitting room, in comparison to the huge posh one off the main hall.

        They offered me what they described as the finest Scotch, which due to me having to drive I only had one. As the whisky went down they gradually over a few hours went from being intelligible to my English ears to becoming totally the opposite. It didn’t matter though as they were mainly telling funny old stories, but I understood the almost constant loud laughter which infected me & we all had a great time.

      2. Jen

        T2, the sequel, actually has subtitles for the first few scenes, which I found both hilarious, and helpful.

      3. Kurt Sperry

        I wound up watching soccer in an Irish bar in Rome a few years ago with a couple of Spaniards and a couple from Yorkshire. Even though I don’t speak more than tourist Spanish. I understood the Spanish guys better than the Yorkshireman. He might as well have been speaking Mandarin. His wife, also a native of Yorkshire, was completely comprehensible, but he said she had worked in London for years and lost her linguistic edge.

        1. Mark P.

          Last time I looked (decades back) there were supposed to be fifty-six (56) major dialects in the British Isles and only something 6 or 7 in the USA (and they were including Gullah in there).

          I grew up London and when I was a kid I had trouble understanding people from the city of Birmingham which was only 105 miles away. You would, too.

          The Yorkshireman … might as well have been speaking Mandarin.

          Nah. Yorkshire people are easy to understand. On the other hand, there are people who live in the Outer Hebrides and the Shetlands island who make the worst Indian English easy to comprehend by comparison.

    2. MichaelSF

      I had an instructor in my first semester at university that had me quickly dropping the class (which was good as it was too advanced for me). At that time (1971) I suspect he was Taiwanese rather than from the P.O.C. but his accent was impenetrable to me.

      My wife and I on a visit to New Zealand attempted to have a conversation with an Anglo shop clerk which we had to give up on as we couldn’t get through her accent. We didn’t have that issue with anyone else whilst we were there.

      I can remember a similar issue when I was working in northern Louisiana. After three attempts I still couldn’t figure out the name of the person I was interviewing.

      Perhaps it would have been different if I’d learned a second language at some point, but my ear is not skilled enough to get past an extremely thick accent.

    3. Homina

      Yep, it’s not just as a second language, a lot of American dialects take a long time to understand. If ever–worked for eight years at a bookbindery with a native of a county just fifty or sixty miles away (luckily in a different department) and would be lucky to grok one word out of ten for as long as I was there. Almost no one else could either except I guess for those working closest with him. And one other temp from that county (who I understood a lot better for some reason).

      Of course, they may have had equal difficulty understanding me. Either way it was very awkward and not something I looked forward to. Asking someone to repeat themselves ten times for every sentence seems pretty rude, even if it might be important information. Instead I just sort of guessed and nodded and sometimes if one of his closer workers was in ear-shot try to sneakily ask them what he said.

      1. Wukchumni

        Accents have softened a lot since I was 10, but I remember not being able to fully understand the thick Texas drawl of our neighbor’s relations from the lone star state, when they would show up for a couple weeks on vacation in SoCal. You’d get lost about every 5th word.

    4. Anon

      Years ago I was at a trial in Dublin of a guy from rural Meath – about 30 miles away. He was accused of murdering his girlfriend one morning with a shotgun in the milking parlour, and he pleaded to manslaughter by provocation. We were in a gorgeous old courthouse with wood panelling, where the acoustics weren’t great but the lawyers could make themselves clear with a bit of care. When the accused stood to give evidence his accent came out heavily muffled, like we were listening to him through a wall. After a while the jury sent a note to the judge, who asked the accused to speak up, but still nobody could understand. I think switching courts was considered, but the testimony carried on, with people leaning forward with pained looks and fingers to their ears to catch the odd word here and there. Verdict: manslaughter. I guess jurors judge by demeanour.

  19. Jim Haygood

    Our chart of the day compares US household wealth to US GDP. Household wealth has reached five times GDP for the first time evahhhh …


    Bubbles I, II and III (still underway) are clearly discernible on the chart. The most volatile component of household wealth is stocks (not that housing isn’t volatile too, as we learned during 2006-2010).

    The Dow Industrials and the Case-Shiller national housing index are at record highs. Trump’s in his Tesla and all’s well with the world. Got leverage? /sarc

    1. Summer

      For lack of an economy, one was made up, modeled after a casino.
      All that’s left is the (con)fidence fairy.

  20. Livius Drusus

    From what I can tell the Democrats are still committed to the “demographics is destiny” strategy. The theory is that the Rising American Electorate of non-whites, unmarried women and socially liberal college graduates will make the Democrats the majority party of the future and they don’t have to change much on the economic front. The Republicans will continue to be the party of Christian whites but, according to Democratic Party theory, this is a declining demographic so the GOP is the party that is in trouble, despite their recent victories.

    I have argued with Democrats who very strongly believe in the above strategy and think that the Democrats don’t really need to change anything.

    1. Mark P.

      The theory is the Rising American Electorate of non-whites, unmarried women and socially liberal college graduates will make the Democrats the majority party of the future

      Here on the ground in Berkeley, California, my black Somali Muslim neighbor and practically every brown Hindu from the Asian subcontinent that I know voted for Trump.

    2. TroyMcClure

      I, too, love to hear good news about my bad habits. Means I don’t have to actually change or do anything at all :)

  21. clarky90

    Re “Culture Wars”

    I have been repulsed by the main stream media, since I caught them, and continue to catch, them lying about events that I have seen with my own eyes. “Democracy dies in darkness.” (WaPo motto) yep

    The Harvey Weinstein revelations, of 30 years of the rape and molestation of teenage ingenues (big kids) have profound implications for Western culture.

    I was taught about courage and justice from heroic characters in TV series and movies.

    Where were those wealthy, powerful, senior male and female actors (SJWs), when their young colleagues were being openly preyed on? Everyone knew and “joked” about this.

    I am done, forever, with Hollywood and the MSM. Sniveling hypocrites and spineless cowards. Many people are coming to the same conclusion here in NZ.

    1. Filiform Radical

      I always admired WaPo for having the forthrightness to display their mission statement so prominently.

  22. Wukchumni

    Been hanging out in nature’s corporate offices-with the too big to fail crowd, exhibiting shallow root systems (jobs outsourced overseas) and branches that dissuade others from honing in on the action. They are almost all top heavy (ceo’s and underlings) and a surprising amount of them are crooked. When a giant sequoia gives way to gravity, there are no second acts, once they start to fall from a combination of all of the aforementioned causes and effects…

  23. Jim Haygood

    Well, well, well — the mystery of the dodgy dossier is solved, says the WaPo:

    The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about Donald Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.

    Marc E. Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington firm, to conduct the research.

    After that, Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community, according to the people.


    Gotta give Hill credit — having two House committee investigations (regarding Uranium One) announced on the same day her campaign is named as the instigator of the notorious Fusion GPS dossier is quite an impressive achievement for an ex-candidate.

    The Fusion GPS dossier proved to be largely nonsense. But the millions the Clinton Foundation vacuumed up for Hillary’s sign-off on Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One were very real.

    Like the Peanuts character Pigpen, the Clintons are followed by a permanent cloud of dirt that never dissipates.

      1. KTN

        Calling anything that went into that steaming pile of sh*t ‘research’ gives research a bad name. Old-fashioned ‘makin’ sh*t up’ usually passes in the intel world anyway.

        And certainly the editors should have called for ‘infamous.’

  24. KTN

    Re: Macroscopic Evolutionary Paradigm

    It’s difficult to take this faux-paper seriously, containing as it does such liberal servings of unadulterated tripe:

    Nonetheless, like electricity, the Internet is becoming ubiquitous, yet invisibly integrated into every corner of our environment and our lives. But unlike electricity, which facilitated our physical tasks, the Internet excels at facilitates [sic] intellectual tasks. You have seen versions of this movie before.

    Think how, before calculators, we had to write out detailed, error prone math. How, before spreadsheets, we had to manually create detailed, but error prone, financial algorithms. How, before word processors, we had to laboriously rewrite multiple, error prone drafts of our ideas and stories. How, before online data storage, we struggled to keep our files organized and accessible.

    Think how, before calculators, Leibniz & Newton struggled to find out sports scores!

    the Internet is in the process of vaporizing virtually all knowledge asymmetries

    No it’s not, or certainly, not across all boundaries. Not if the educational system can’t produce students who are able to use it to that end, not if Google can destroy its News functionality for the sake of censorship, not if users spend the majority of their online time in the dumbing and deadening Twittersphere.

    The plugs for the author’s company don’t help. This is just more singularity salesmanship for the masses. Meanwhile bridges collapse, ecologies worldwide (you know, ‘nature’) might be/are in freefall, wage inequality approximates that of unlocatable global ‘backwaters’ like, dunno, Niger, the list goes on. But somehow, after every landscape has been desertified, when its 125 and humid in July, when the plebs have gone full-on Hunger Games… then, my friends, the future!

  25. allan

    $70 Yosemite entrance fee: Big increases proposed for parks [Mercury News]

    In a move criticized by park lovers, the Trump administration on Tuesday proposed a huge jump in the entrance fees of many of America’s most popular national parks — to $70 per car for Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and 14 other parks, up from $25 to $30 now.

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said the increase, which will be considered in the coming months after public comment, is needed to help pay for maintenance costs such as repairing and renovating roads, bathrooms, trails and campgrounds. …

    Under the proposal, peak season would run from May 1 to Sept. 30 in these parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion.

    The peak season would run from June 1 to Oct. 30 at Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah. And Joshua Tree’s peak season would be from Jan. 1 to May 31. …

    “is needed to help pay for”.

    Weirdly, or not, this point of view doesn’t extend to tax cuts, which are going to pay for themselves.

    1. sd

      So if you cut the fees, the parks will pay for themselves? I like it. Apply it across all of society. If you cut rent, the apartment pays for itself. Or the mortgage, cut the mortgage, and the house will pay for itself.

      Run with it….

      1. Carl

        That’s the most depressing thing I’ve read in quite some time. Every time I ride Amtrak, I wish we would expand our passenger rail structure. Thanks for posting this.

        1. JBird

          Even if we could kill the TSA Kabuki (and I would hope we do with a stake, then napalm, and shoot the ashes into Deep Space) airports seem to be reaching a passenger limit now. Having a good interstate, and even intrastate, rail system would be really wonderful. But no, it’s craptastic TSA security, and life sucking airlines as our Neoliberal Overlords find yet another way to monetize the peasants’ misery, destroy another industry, and get more people fired.

    2. Wukchumni

      Seeing as about 2/3rds of the visitors to Sequoia/Kings NP here are foreigners, it seems like more of a “get the money’ gig.

      In terms of increase in entrance fees, it’d be like raising the price of movie tickets from $10 to $25…

  26. BoycottAmazon

    North Korea cheating on the Carter Agreement – NYT/Maureen Dowd

    Try to never read the failed satirist Moron Dowdy but you got me. Ugh, the aftertaste that coffee can’t wash away. The USA cheated first, quelle est surprise. The agreement included supplying a Candu heavy water reactor to replace the Korean research reactor, as waste stream from Candu is far more difficult to process into fusion weapons. That was the first thing Congress killed, after the plant foundations had already be poured and the Korea reactor disassembled. No way USA was going to help Canada export any competitor to Halliburton’s nuclear business. After that the North Korean’s openly stated they considered the deal broached and rebuilt their reactor.

  27. Huey Long

    I was fortunate enough to attend the late-nite portion of tonight’s NYC meet-up!

    Yves & Jerri-Lynn: I sincerely apologize for creepily standing over you two as you waited for your cab/Uber outside the bar when I arrived. I recognized Yves from an RT segment and wanted to personally thank both of you for all of the hard work you do to keep NC humming along.

    I wish you both the best and look forward to your future writings and to seeing you both again at a future meet-up.

    Nick, Laura, Steve, Dwight, & Tom: It was a pleasure meeting you all and I enjoyed our discussions about what ails the world greatly. Hats off to Tom for his generosity with the Tapas and wine, please give me a heads up if you’re able to make my Halloween party on Sunday. If not, no worries, and I anticipate seeing you soon.

    Nick, thanks for letting me know about bamboo in Chinatown. I plan on checking it out.

    Laura: Peruse NC, especially the ongoing uber and calpers stories. Ledes abound!

    Dwight: it was great meeting you and sharing our mutual love of the sea!

    Steve: If you choose to reach out please text me and let me know you’re Steve from the NC thing as I never answer my phone.

    Comrade Haygood: Where were you bro? We gotta do a selfie before social security goes bankrupt ;-).

  28. Tooearly

    Lambert: why the snide remarks about blockchais? I admit I know next to nothing about this but suspect that had this technology been available in 200$ we might have known art more about the mortgage games that we got played

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