2:00PM Water Cooler 10/30/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam” [RealClearPolitics]. The average of all polls: Northam 3.3% (Yesterday: 2.8%). Quinnipiac weighs in, with Northam +17 (!!).

“Sanders, who gained his national following by running for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, has refused to endorse the Democratic candidate, Ralph Northam, a mainstream progressive. This signals the left-winger’s determination to set ideological litmus tests for Democrats” [Bloomberg]. “Bannon, the former top strategist for President Donald Trump, is on a mission to destroy the Republican Party establishment. In Virginia, he’s helped pressure Republican Ed Gillespie, a quintessential establishment figure, to embrace immigrant-bashing and race-baiting.”

New Cold War

It’s Manafort. And Papadopoulos. Two (2) documents were unsealed: Manafort’s indictment, and Papadopoulos’s plea deal. Here they are:

1) Manafort: United States of America v. Paul J. Manafort and Richard W. Gates, III (PDF). (The PDF, via DK, is a searchable PDF as opposed to a scan.)

2) Papadopoulos: United States of American v. George Papadoplous (PDF).

As readers know, I haven’t been following the ins and outs of all this with complete attention, but as best I can tell, the Manafort indictment is designed to get Manafort to flip, and the Papadopoulos plea signals the inducement for him to do so.

Taking Manafort first, the indictment looks like an especially florid scheme to evade Federal taxes on confulting fees paid to entities controlled by Manafort by Viktor Yanukovych and his Party of Regions, by laundering it through nominees in Cyprus into real estate (and rugs). There’s nothing in the indictment about election “meddling,” and the Russians appear only at a second remove (as the ultimate backers of the Party of Regions). The Feds are also indicting Manafort for acting as an unregistered agent of a foreign goverment (in this case, Ukraine) which would probably apply to half the Beltway, but never mind that.

Papadopoulos is juicier, from the Russki standpoint. Here is the salient paragraph, in which Papadopoulos is charged with making false statements (rather a warning shot to the rest of the players in this affair):

Now, the details of the Papadopoulos story are almost clownishly stupid — a Russian “professor,” Putin’s “niece,” Papadopoulos communicating with his Russki interlocutor via Skype (!) — so it’s hard to know how serious an attempt this was. And if what the Russian professor says is true (we don’t know that), we don’t know which email is at issue. Still, some Russians could have been doing some “meddling,” and some person in the Trump campaign knew about it. Who else knew? Manafort? During the four months he headed Trump’s campaign? Presumably, Mueller can follow up the food chain. All this is, of course, very far from Clinton’s original claim that Trump is a Russian “puppet,” a claim which moreover had and has the ultimate goal of treating as treason advocacy for a policy that is surely not prima facie crazed: That is, the idea that a Clintonite cold war with Russia, or a hot proxy war in the Ukraine, might not be the best idea in the world. Nevertheless, this was not a good day for the Trump administration.

“How to Interpret Robert Mueller’s Charges Against Paul Manafort in the Russia Investigation” [WIRED]. This is excellent (and recommended by emptywheel, who I would link to except I’m getting CloudFlare errors from her site). This:

For all the talk of Russian collusion, there isn’t really a federal crime that matches what the press, critics, and Capitol Hill lawmakers have been calling collusion, a word that refers legally to a narrow segment of antitrust law. And there’s almost zero chance anyone will be charged with treason, a charge that’s only available to use against enemies in a declared war.

In other words, we can forget about the frothing and stamping of the parties which I can say relieves me no end. And if readers with experience in complex Federal criminal prosecutions want to chime in, great! Musical interlude….

UPDATE Reading the Manafort indictment again, I noticed several mentions of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, for whom Manafort was a lobbyist. It turns out they gave the Podesta Group $900,000 over two years (including 2012?). “However, the source of the funding remains unclear since ECFMU listed its budget for the financial year ending in November 2012 as only 10,000 euros.” Here’s a handy chart of the ECMU’s connections, from Muckety.

Always good to see bipartisanship!

Health Care

“How Democratic Socialists Convinced a Congressman to Sign Onto Single-Payer Health Care Bill” [The Intercept].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Meet the Black Woman Candidate Who’ll Talk to Men in Confederate-Flag T-Shirts” [Joan Walsh, The Nation], “The very fact that Carroll Foy even attempted to reach a man in a Confederate T-shirt—just 95 miles away from where white supremacists menaced counter-protesters and where one of them murdered Heather Heyer with his car two months earlier—felt like a victory of sorts.” Walsh seems to be doing a little rebranding. I mean, talking to deplorables… Eeeeew!

“Antifa History and Politics, Explained” [Teen Vogue]. “in its modern form, militant anti-fascism in the U.S. can really be dated to the creation of Anti-Racist Action in the late 1980s, which moving into the 1990s had thousands of members. They focused on tracking down far-right groups but also defending reproductive rights and organizing against the far right in a broader sense. They sometimes toured with punk bands and alternative rock bands to try and promote anti-racist politics among youth. The Anti-Racist Action network declined somewhat into the 2000s, but the modern antifa movement that we see today is really the successor of that lineage.”

“Nina Turner on the Recent Reports of Workplace Harassment: ‘I’m Surprised That We’re Surprised'” [Cosmopolitan]. I’m surprised (in a good way) to see Nina Turner in Cosmo.

“Sexual Misconduct in California’s Capitol Is Difficult to Escape” [New York Times]. Hard, then, to see how Pelosi, Feinstein (and Harris) have done anything other than make their peace with it. Eh? “Special place in hell,” and all that.

“Florida Senate’s top Democrat resigns after admitting affair with lobbyist” [McClatchy]. The affairs, I don’t care about. It’s when the Democrats (Max Baucus) let the lobbyists (WellPoint’s Liz Fowler) write the bills (ObamaCare).

“Bitter feud divides Berkeley College Republicans as the club’s future hangs in the balance” [Mercury-News]. Lee Atwater and Karl Rove cut their milk teeth in College Republicans, so there’s a history here…

“The Democratic Party Continues to Ignore Its Voters” [Progressive Army]. Little new, but a good wrap-up.

Mr. Lee’s Greater Hong Kong at last?

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, September 2017: “Core inflation remains lifeless in an unwanted highlight of an otherwise solid income and spending report” [Econoday]. “[U]nless wage pressures can extend their emerging gains, inflation readings are not going to be climbing in the direction of the Federal Reserve 2 percent goal. Also helping spending in September was a sharp 5 tenths decline in the savings rate to 3.1 percent and a 10-year low in what, however, is likely to be another hurricane effect that will be quickly reversed.” But: “The savings rate worsened – and historically is extremely low. Consumer spending is far outpacing income – not good news” [Econintersect].

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, October 2017: “The Dallas manufacturing report never did show any ill effects from Hurricane Harvey and now readings are accelerating during October” [Econoday]. “This report falls in line with other regional surveys that are pointing, with heightened emphasis, to a strong upturn underway in the factory sector. Watch for factory payrolls in October’s employment report followed by factory orders for September, both on Friday.” And: “This survey improved and remained well into positive territory with both new orders and unfilled orders improving” [Econintersect].

Shipping: “New ATA report takes a deep dive into the ongoing truck driver shortage” [Logistics Management]. “[C]arriers are by no means turning a blind eye to it, as they are being proactive to make a bad situation better. This is happening, [ATA Chief Economist & Senior Vice President Bob Costello] explained, in the form of pay increases for drivers along with offering other incentives, fleets working to improve both the image and lifestyle of truck drivers, policy efforts focused on lowering the driver age as part of a graduated licensing system, and easing the transition for veterans to get into the driver’s seat.” Pay increases for drivers?!

Credit: “Still getting worse” (charts) [Mosler Economics].

Retail: “Amazon.com Inc.’s prospective move into the $412 billion pharmacy business provides a prescription for a dramatic makeover in pharmaceutical supply chains already undergoing big changes. Amazon is considering entering a business that appears ripe for restructuring through e-commerce” [Wall Street Journal], “But medicines are highly regulated, and Amazon would have to go through insurers since patients typically don’t pay directly for prescription drugs. For now, Amazon is building up in healthcare through business-to-business operations—selling medical supplies for professional use. Experts say the surest path for the company could be buying an existing drug supplier, a plan that would also come with a supply chain already built in.”

Retail: “Music News: Southwest Airlines adds live concerts to in-flight amenities” [The Current]. I guess the concerts are an “amenity” if they drown out the crying babeis…

Shipping: “McKinsey report on container shipping in 2067 predicts autonomous 50K TEU vessels” [DC Velocity]. Business predictions 50 year out? Really? More: “The authors acknowledge that secular changes in consumer behavior—notably a desire to favor consumption of services over goods—mean that global trade growth will not significantly outpace global GDP as it has for decades. However, as long as global economies seek growth, there will be always be stuff available to fill the boxes, they said.”

Shipping: “There is a legal obligation on ship captains to rescue people who are in peril at sea (makes eminent sense to me – we want people rescued right away if they are struggling at sea), it is not clear who is to pay this cost” [Credit Slips]. “The question of allocation is particularly tricky when someone charters a ship and crew to transport goods from point A to point B. If that ship has to take a detour along the way to rescue refugees they find struggling on the ocean, who is to bear the extra cost of the additional journey? The charter-party or the ship owners? As an aside, it appears that the penalties on the ship captains for failing to rescue promptly can be quite substantial (there were ‘failure to rescue’ issues with respect to the Titanic that received immense publicity).” Examples: The Rohingya in the Andaman Sea, and migrants/refugees in the Mediterranean from Africa or Syria.

Shipping: “U.S. economic growth is hitting a sweet spot for shipping companies. The 3% annual rate of growth in gross domestic product in the third quarter gave the U.S. its strongest six-month expansion since mid-2014…and was built on the solid consumer and business spending on goods and shipments of American products abroad that help fill trucks, trains and ships” [Wall Street Journal]. “Consumer spending on durable goods such as appliances rose at an 8.3% annual rate in the third quarter, and business spending on equipment rose at an annual 8.6% pace. That spending, along with strong expectations for holiday sales in the fourth quarter, has companies restocking: inventory replenishment made up nearly three-quarters of a percentage point of GDP.”

Tech: “Apple’s iPhone X: The First Field Report” [WIRED]. Last line: “Those who shell out the cash for this device will enjoy their screen and battery life today. But the real payoff of the iPhone X might come when we figure out what it can do tomorrow.” But you pay the $999 today.

The Bezzle: “Musk’s Plant Makeover Even More of a Long Shot as Model 3 Lags” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla’s plan to make half a million cars next year became all-the-more ambitious after the sluggish start the company got off to with its most important electric vehicle yet, the Model 3 sedan. Musk may be confident about solving the unspecified bottlenecks holding back production. But to meet his 2018 goal, he would have to transform one of North America’s lowest-volume auto factories into the second-highest output plant in the region…. In trying to make more cars at the plant than ever before, Tesla is relying on a bigger workforce than the factory has ever seen. The plant — which the United Auto Workers has been trying to help employees organize — has more than 10,000 workers, almost double the 5,500 who worked there in 2006.”

The Bezzle: “This Guy Documents Nearly A Year Of Quality Problems With His Tesla Model S” [Jalopnik]. I’m not an auto geek — I’ve never owned a car — but if I had to speculate about the source of this guy’s many, many problems with his Model S (for example, “a crooked steering wheel when driving straight”) I’d speculate that the new Model 3 isn’t the only Tesla model where a lot of manual work is being done on a supposedly automated assembly line. Readers, especially Car Talk listeners, when there was Car Talk?

The Bezzle: “Millennials — who purchase only about 11 percent of new cars today — are less nervous about the fledgling technology, with nearly two-thirds willing to own a self-driving vehicle within the next decade. ‘The continued advances in autonomous technology should coincide with millennials’ long-awaited mass entry into the market,’ Edmunds said in a report published Monday” [Bloomberg]. With chart showing willingness to purchase a robot car by age bracker. The “advance” trope conceals the fact that moving from Level 4 to Level 5 — from driver-assisted to fully autonomous — is a qualitative leap, not an incremental change. Further, the “Levels” trope implies for some a teleology; that is, “advance” from one level to the next is, like “progress,” inevitable.

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s Tiered Pricing Is a Hurdle, but a Fair One” [New York Times]. “Tesla, Elon Musk’s pioneering electric car company, originally offered its Model S sedan in two variants. The difference was a few lines of software code that restricted the energy available from one version’s battery. A simple, over-the-air change in that code could instantly render the two cars’ battery output — and cruising range — identical. Yet the sticker price for the unrestricted model was thousands of dollars higher.”

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Israel. “Israel has been generally peaceful the past few months” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 74, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 85 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Oct 30 at 11:37am,

Our Famously Free Press

“Whaddya Know, the Bezos-Owned Washington Post Is Publishing Amazon Press Releases and Pretending It’s Journalism” [Alternet].

Health Care

Thread (slightly NSFW):

There is a happy ending, but really, things just shouldn’t be like this.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Park Service cancels Black Panther legacy project at Cal amid conservative outcry” [San Francisco Chronicle]. The Panthers were big supporters of the right to bear arms, so I don’t see what the problem could have been.

“‘I Can’t Breathe’: An Excerpt From Matt Taibbi’s New Book on the Eric Garner Killing” [Rolling Stone].

Guillotine Watch

“Look Inside the Most Expensive House on Earth” [Bloomberg]. “The grounds are considered among the top 10 botanical gardens worldwide, but unlike others, these are private, competing with those owned by towns and universities.” The gardens look lovely, but the interior?

Tacky, gaudy, boring, shameless. Elite.

Class Warfare

“In the five years I’ve worked here [at the Los Angeles Times], I’ve had five publishers; I’ve already outlasted four of them. When you look back on the past fifteen or twenty years, the culture of this organization and its prestige has been kept alive by the workers and the journalists, many of whom feel as if they’ve been forgotten about by the owners” [Jacobin]. Interview with union organizers. “Forgotten” is putting it kindly.

“AP-NORC poll: Most have little fear of robots taking jobs” [AP]. “Fifty-seven percent of respondents said they thought it unlikely that they or someone in their household will be replaced at work by automation within the next 10 years, the survey found. A nearly identical proportion — 56 percent — said they consider it at least somewhat likely that their job will be improved by automation. Many think, for example, that such technology has made jobs safer…. A wide gap also exists in how people with different levels of education respond to such questions. Americans without college degrees are twice as likely as those with degrees to say it’s very likely automation will cost them or someone in their household a job. That is in line with studies that have found that lower-skilled work is more likely to be automated.”

“An average of nearly 500 calls a day rang into Cincinnati’s Center for Addiction Treatment (CAT) in September. The website caught 1,100 visits a day” [Cincinatti Enquirer]. “The phone and web traffic for CAT’s services are two measures of how many people want help for heroin addiction. Problem is, immediate treatment is hard to get.”

“Authoritarians and the Ideology of Love” [Human Iterations]. “Why do so many authoritarians on Twitter have anime girl avatars?”

News of the Wired

“Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless, Kafkaesque Guide to Subverting Any Organization with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944) [Open Culture] (PDF).

The thing about social media is that it’s social:

“The 2017 Halloween Candy Hierarchy: Definitely Not Fake News” [Boing Boing]. With large chart of candy types, suitable for framing.

* * *

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 (SR):

A lovely sugar maple.

Also, it would be nice to have more pictures of people’s gardens buttoned up for the winter, for those of you for whom winter is coming. And fall foliage, ditto.

* * *

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. hemeantwell

    Tacky, gaudy, boring, shameless. Elite.

    I appreciate it when elite fantasies are so clear in signaling their revanchism. It’s like they hobnob in a monarchist Wayback Machine.

    1. visitor

      In fact, this is mostly late 19th century style — and yes, it was pompous, but still better taste than many current “elite” interiors in the USA (think Trump). NC linked to pictures of a few of those in the past — they were gaudy and vulgar (anybody remembers those rooms with golden upholstery, golden-plated furniture and a multitude of wall lights shown in a previous NC water cooler?)

      The tackiest elements in the villa les Cèdres are actually the modern ones — like the sofas+cushions in the sitting room.

      On the other hand, the house architecture, the gardens and the library are really nice. And a botanical garden has way more class than a kart racetrack or whatever the nouveaux riches put in their mansions’ grounds nowadays.

      Honestly, I do not know what kind of alternative style would befit that kind of dwelling with its tall doors, huge windows, high ceilings and endless halls. It is superannuated, pompous, shameless luxury (hey, a king and various agribusiness moguls lived there, do you expect a spartan accommodation?), but everything fits together.

      In the end, aren’t all such dwellings by prominent elite meant to be a shrill display of overblown opulence?

      1. Harold

        I agree. This is a nineteenth or early 20th c. interpretation of updated classical European baroque style, which is appropriate to a grand palatial house. The painted ceiling is actually quite beautiful. The modern touch is that the colors are actually quite restrained and there is natural wood with ormulu instead of overall gilding. The upholstered chairs also look quite comfortable, which would not have been the case in earlier centuries. The chandelier in the first picture is a little overdone, though, but the setting can carry it off.

      2. Wukchumni

        The trappings are in the trapping…

        My idea of opulence is a hidden away campsite off-trail that an exterior decorator that goes by Mother Nature worked wonders on, where a creek winds right around half of it and there are 3 waterfalls below, a 150 foot long 10 foot deep pond full of trout behind, and a series of 7 more waterfalls & swimming sized ponds of various dimensions heading up the creek that you have to climb on interesting granite inclines that are a little challenging, and get you up to a point where you can see where the polish lines of the glacier that encased the creek in ice eons ago that go down to the base, carved into the granite massif on the left, like a reverse form of measuring a child’s growth on the wall.

        Oh, and there’s a majestic view of an amazing rock formation across the river from the campsite as an added bonus.

      3. DJG

        visitor: Agreed. The blue-and-gold sitting room is restrained for the epoch being evoked, regardless of th carefully arranged throw pillows.

        Can we use this place as the NC clubhouse?

      4. Hana M

        Gotta second Visitor on this one. The decor struck me as the fading Italian squillionaire version of grandma and grampa’s 1950s split level on Long Island. You know the one–with original maple cabinets in the kitchen, full knotty pine wall paneling, olive drab and brown shag rugs throughout, and grey and pink tiles in the bathroom. The squillionare might well have been ‘a bit short of the ready’–check out the water stains on the sitting room wallpaper. Bloomberg notes that buyers will likely gut the whole house as part of the ‘renovation’ (which might even make things worse).

        Nevertheless, the garden and greenhouse are to die for (as they say). Truthfully if I had the blunt I’d buy it ‘as is’. Barring that I’m hereby applying as under-gardener–will work for room and board and a chance to take care of the greenhouse and catalog that library.

    2. stacey brown

      In the fourth photo from the top, you can see significant water damage on the top right wall. Whoever bought this hulking monstrosity is welcome to it. Zero percent envy on my part. Now if they owned a Conover cottage (a small well-built home), then I might turn a little green. ;-)

    3. stacey brown

      …hobnob in a monarchist wayback machine. Very witty and funny. You made me laugh.

      They do seem to be obsessed with the Louis XIV decorating scheme. Always fun to view their real estate listings and snicker up you sleeves at their godawful homes.

      1. MtnLife

        Those are Louis XV chairs (arm rests end early) but ugly as sin regardless. I view people that have those as having more money than class and that I should charge accordingly.

  2. Pogonip

    I read Coffee Spoonie’s Twitter and I wonder if her insurance co would have been any more helpful if she were civil? This doesn’t make what they did right–horrid people deserve to get what they pay for just like anyone else–but having had a few go-rounds with Blue Cross myself, and having worked in a “customer-service” hellhole myself, I can tell you that the polite, businesslike person will get farther.

    And I will eagerly assent to the argument that what you get in treatment should not depend on what, or any, insurance you have–but while it does, folks, be businesslike and polite to the Customer Service Representative who literally holds your life in her overworked hands.

    1. Lee

      I am always careful to precede my critiques of bad systems with the phrase, “Please don’t take this personally….” It usually helps. However, when recently complaining to a technical support person about the dysfunctionality of a medical provider’s website he seemed to take it quite personally when I stated that the algorithm was “stupid”. It was like I hurt his feelings and he became quite defensive.

    2. urdsama

      “I can tell you that the polite, businesslike person will get farther.”

      Can you cite any data to prove this? I’ve known people that still have gotten the run-around and crap treatment by insurance phone reps despite being polite and professional.

      And yes, my statement is not based on data, but I really hate it when the tone of a person is used justify how they are treated when dealing with such situations, which are often stressful, difficult, and confusing. Especially since the last two tend to be a feature of the current insurance process.

      1. Pogonip

        My experience through ten years of customer-service droning. I myself tried to treat the saints the same as the sinners, but overall, being horrid isn’t likely to get you as far. Pace the guy with the car story (which is pretty funny!).

      2. Jamie

        Last year in Australia, the government agency called Centrelink that handles pensions and other welfare payments failed to answer 55 million calls in a country of around 25 million people. If one is not part of the above cohort and does get through there is a preamble about being nice to the overworked staff, which, not surprisingly, can be a bit of a stretch after being on hold for an hour. And if one is nice? It doesn’t help one iota. The system has been designed not to work, and it doesn’t.

    3. Jen

      I don’t know…one of the most rapid and enthusiastic about faces in customer service I’ve experienced occurred when I told a mechanic who did a poor job of replacing the muffler on my car that if it was making any noises it shouldn’t be making after his latest attempt to fix his mistakes, that I would drive it right through his showroom window.

      When I got it back, I don’t think the car was that quiet when it was brand new. And that was just a car. Had he held my life in his hands…I’d dial the flat out evil to 11.

      1. HotFlash

        Yup. On the third visit to my dealership to get my turn signal repaired, before which I had phoned them two days in advance to tell them that I would be coming in and that I would be going out of the country and did not want to be arrested for no turn signal in Tennessee, and that I was leaving at 5pm of the day I was bringing it in, I was assured it would be fixed. So, I show up at 3pm to pick it up and turn signal still not working.

        I explained to the service manager that if it was not fixed by 5pm I would SCREAM THE DEALERSHIP DOWN. Why yes, I did shout.

        I have no idea how they managed to fix it, and don’t care, but fix it they did and I motored off to Florida with working turn signals. Sometimes it pays to be a bit obnoxious.

  3. Wukchumni

    “Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless, Kafkaesque Guide to Subverting Any Organization with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944) [Open Culture] (PDF).

    My father played the purposefully stupid game under the 3rd Reich’s nose, but in a medical way. He was 15 when the goose steppers showed up in Prague, and 21 @ war’s end.

    For you see his family had a doctor friend that diagnosed him with a series of highly communicable-but non fatal diseases over the course of the war. He might’ve been the sickest man in all of Europe, that is if each and every one of them wasn’t fictional.

    He would’ve been the right age to labor for the fatherland in some forced capacity, but he proudly never lifted a finger for the cause.

    1. Wukchumni

      “Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless, Kafkaesque Guide to Subverting Any Organization with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944) [Open Culture] (PDF).

      My father played the purposefully stupid game under the 3rd Reich’s nose, but in a medical way. He was 15 when the goose steppers showed up in Prague, and 21 @ war’s end.

      For you see his family had a doctor friend that diagnosed him with a series of highly communicable-but non fatal diseases over the course of the war. He might’ve been the sickest man in all of Europe, that is if each and every one of them wasn’t fictional.

      He would’ve been the right age to labor for the fatherland in some forced capacity, but he proudly never lifted a finger for the cause.

      So one day around the turn of the century, i’m walking with him in Prague, and he points to a wall a few hundred feet away, and says:

      “That’s the wall where the Nazis shot people.”

      1. Arizona Slim

        Quoting from the guide: “The saboteur may have to reverse his thinking, and he should be told this in so many words. Where he formerly thought of keeping his tools sharp, he should now let them grow dull; surfaces that formerly were lubricated now should be sanded; normally diligent, he should now be lazy and careless; and so on. Once he is encouraged to think backwards about himself and the objects of his everyday life, the saboteur will see many opportunities in his immediate environment which cannot possibly be seen from a distance. A state of mind should be encouraged that anything can be sabotaged.”

        Fun stuff!

        1. Pogonip

          Well, now we know where they get the instructions for The Ongoing Crapification Of Everything.

          Off-the-rack clothing has reached a new high (low?) in crapification. I know to check for missing buttons, dud zippers, gaps in stitching, crooked seams, no seam allowance, sleeves of unequal length, but the other day I bought a shirt that passed all the above and when I got it home I noticed it had not been hemmed! It had honestly never occurred to me to check something that basic.

            1. Pogonip

              Not that I know of. From now on I will just go from the top of the garment to the bottom.

              I used to make a lot of my own clothes, until we lost Hancock Fabric. Joanne’s fabric is pretty poor quality.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Roughly how I evaded the draft during the Vietnam War (a letter from a shrink). An exercise of privilege, of course, but in a good cause.

      I don’t see actually going, like John Kerry, as a recommendation.

  4. allan

    GOP tax plan will explode deficit: Wharton study [The Hill]

    … The study, which relies on the Penn Wharton Budget Model (PWBM), found that the deficit would increase by $1 trillion to $3.5 trillion over the course of the first decade, based on differing estimates of how the final plan will look. By 2040, the plans would cost between $2 trillion and $10.6 trillion. …

    Even with dynamic scoring, it’s a dog.

    Source report at Wharton.

    1. tooearly

      I thought that was the whole idea, to EXPLODE the Deficit so they can thereby strangle the safety net ?

  5. polecat

    Sooo … Johnny P. Is apparently .. uh .. ‘stepping down’ from his flagship lobby firm The Podesta Grope .. er Group !!
    Related to Manafort, et al ?? .. Who will ‘turn’ next ?

    Stay tuned to hear zip .. Same RAT Time, Same RAT Station **


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Corey Lewandowski, via the Guardian:

      If the public reports are true, and there was a time where Paul Manafort was under a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978] warrant before coming to the Trump campaign, why is it the FBI never reached out to me as the campaign manager, never reached out to Donald Trump and said “look, you might want to pause for a second and take a look before you bring this guy on board as a volunteer to hunt delegates for you.”

      They never did that. He was under a FISA warrant, supposedly, both before and after his tenure at the campaign and the FBI never notified the leading presidential candidate for a major Republican Party race? Never notified him of a potential problem? This is a problem with the FBI if you ask me.

      I don’t know if the FBI was required to do so.

      Should they have informed a presidential candidate?

      1. Oregoncharles

        As it was, the warrant meant they were surveilling the campaign.

        Yes, they should have told them.

    2. IowanX

      Hoping Tony Podesta loses a shoe close to whenever Midnight hits as this goes forward. I’m told John is “ok”. Tony, not so much. But the Podesta firm has always been thought of as a Democratic shop, so the “both sides do it meme” may actually be proven out…We’ll see how this rolls. That fact that this is all Ukraine right now makes me think we’ll *never* figure out what really happened. Which I guess (JFK ongoing redactions) goes without saying.

  6. Byron the Light Bulb

    So, the question, begs, “Does Manafort as a bag man earn his fees?”
    Because the reviews from his previous clients seem mixed, at best. Asking for a friend.

  7. autoagri

    Regarding automated driving:

    The “advance” trope conceals the fact that moving from Level 4 to Level 5 — from driver-assisted to fully autonomous — is a qualitative leap, not an incremental change.

    Level 4 = fully automated driving (i.e. control of the entire driving task) within a limited Operational Design Domain (e.g. only on highways, only on a private campus at speeds up to 25 mph, only in daytime, etc.) without any need of human driver intervention, because the automated driving system itself is capable of “fallback” to safety in circumstances beyond the ODD

    Level 5 = fully automated driving wherever/however/whenever a human driver can drive

    The transition from L4 to L5 could indeed be incremental once an automated driving system of X type is augmented to cover all so-called corner cases experienced and managed effectively by human drivers, or it could be the result of a qualitative leap to a Y type of automated driving system… or it might never happen.

    Further, “driver assistive” (which I think is what you mean) typically refers to technology like automatic emergency braking (AEB) or lane-keeping assist (LKA) that intervenes intermittently, typically to assist the driver in avoiding crashes, as opposed to on a sustained basis characteristic of an automated driving system (though confusingly, “Driver Assistance” is also used as shorthand for a Level 1 technology).

    The above is drawn from SAE J3016: Taxonomy and Definitions for Terms Related to Driving Automation Systems for On-Road Motor Vehicles (get your free copy here). NHTSA adopted the SAE levels of automation in September 2016.

    I thoroughly appreciate your advocacy for rigor among journalists in using automated driving-related terms correctly! They are indeed prone to (1) unquestioningly passing along PR-friendly jargon, (2) jumping to terms like “self-driving” and “driverless” for clicks, and/or (3) ignorance and best guesses about what such terms really mean. However, please consider that while serving as a needed critic in this arena you may still have more to learn!

    Incidentally, although driving at either L4 or L5 is commonly referred to as “autonomous” (within a limited and unlimited ODD, respectively), some engineers believe that term should only be used to describe a vehicle that, once you have gotten inside of it, kicked your feet up within the wheel-less cabin, and commanded it to take you to work, will then drive to the beach.

    1. Synoia

      Level 4 = fully automated driving

      Then a miracle occurs

      Level 5 = fully automated driving wherever/however/whenever a human driver can drive

      Clearly management are writing the definitions of the levels.

      1. autoagri

        Indeed, as I wrote, L5 “might never happen.”

        That’s why developers in practice are focused on achieving a reliable, i.e. commercially viable, L4 solution, the first level at which human drivers are no longer called upon to intervene (from the part of the L4 summary that you clipped for flippancy’s sake) — thus mitigating if not eliminating various safety risks inherent at L2 and L3. As the original Bloomberg article described, there is demand for automated driving systems even if they can’t handle mudding, drifting or much else besides.

        The levels were written by the SAE On-Road Automation Driving Committee.

  8. Arizona Slim

    More fun stuff:

    “Anyone can break up a showing of an enemy propaganda film by putting two or three dozen large moths in a paper bag. Take the bag to the movies with you, put it on the floor in an empty section of the theater as you go in and leave it open. The moths will fly out and climb into the projector beam, so that the film will be obscured by fluttering shadows.”

    1. visitor

      Insect populations are crashing, so finding “two or three dozen large moths” in a very short period of time to sabotage a movie projection represents a real challenge nowadays.

      We see the advice in that saboteur’s handbook date back from other times…

  9. George Phillies

    “…treason, a charge that’s only available to use against enemies in a declared war…” Ummh, no. Contemplate the Jefferson Administration.

    With respect to the alleged thousands of emails, several choices here

    Some people will believe anything. Papadopolous was hoaxed.
    DNC emails, some to be obtained later
    The Podesta emails
    Emails lifted from the Clinton server, raising that issue from the dead.

    1. Vatch

      From Article III, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution:

      1: Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

      Giving aid and comfort to the nation’s enemies does not require a declaration of war. It’s also disturbingly vague.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From US Code:

      Whoever, owing allegiance to the United States, levies war against them or adheres to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States or elsewhere, is guilty of treason and shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.
      (June 25, 1948, ch. 645, 62 Stat. 807; Pub. L. 103–322, title XXXIII, § 330016(2)(J), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 2148.)

      What are their enemies?

      North Koreans?

      1. todde

        there hasn’t been a case that I am aware of that didn’t involve taking arms up against the United States (Brown or the Whiskey Rebellion) or aiding a country we were at war with (Tokyo rose).

        No one is going to get convicted of treason, conspiracy against the United States is not treason, and probably stems from his tax evasion charge.

        1. Vatch

          Oddly, there are also state laws against treason. Either the Illinois or the Missouri law was used against Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon denomination.

          1. todde

            I believe that was Missouri.

            The good people of Illinois just ran him out of the state if my class field trip memory serves me still.

  10. Wisdom Seeker

    Surprised not to see any mention here today of the very suspicious Puerto Rico power-restoration contract to “Whitefish Energy” in Montana, hometown of our current Secretary of the Interior.

    Granted, it’s the NY Times and the WaPo here… but there does seem to be some there, there.

    The sad part is that apparently 39 days after the hurricane, 80% of Puerto Ricans are still without electricity. And the cancellation of whatever the territory did have moving forward isn’t going to improve the situation much.

    My favorite quote is this: “Whitefish has said it has experience in mountainous terrain and that its business model calls for scaling up quickly.” That sentence contains mutually exclusive claims. A company which had 2 workers before the contract and now has 350 doesn’t legitimately have “experience”, since the only experience that matters is that of the actual workers and new hires are not experienced with the company.

      1. petal

        A lot of damage up here(VT/NH/MA). A friend in So. NH just got power back on after 20 hours. For a lot of people it will be days. My boss was trapped at home today because of all of the trees down. There are also roads washed out and rivers flooding up this way. Massive part of a tree(at least 20′ long) broke off and fell on my roof around 3am and rolled off. This house must be built like a tank. I grew up directly on the southern shore of Lake Ontario and I used to be able to sleep through just about anything-last night I didn’t sleep a wink with that wind howling. It was really something. We got a lot of rain(1-2″) in a short amount of time combined with high winds-recipe for disaster. They are needing to bring in teams from the midwest to help restore power because a lot of the regular ones are away helping in the hurricane-damaged areas.

  11. Vatch

    “Look Inside the Most Expensive House on Earth” [Bloomberg].

    Wow, what a great room for children to have nerf ball fights! Extra points whenever a portion of the chandelier plummets!

  12. ryan

    FWIW-I had a dream last night I took an Uber, driven by a super blinged out Tesla (not a real model, like a supergiant SUV), and the co-owner of the Uber (sitting in the limo-like backseat) was explaining how he made money to me in the dream. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but I remember it didn’t make any sense. Also my destination was at the edge of the woods, a campsite, and we had to go further in.

    Anyways-relatively new NC reader, just wanting to let you know I think you guys made it into my subconscious.

    1. Wukchumni

      …sounds like Auto-Neurotic-Fixation

      Any chance in your next nightmare you can call a cab instead?

  13. DJG

    The McGuffin in the Papadopolous indictment is the Clinton e-mail messages. And what if they emerge?

    The article from Wired is enlightening because it takes a broad view of the FBI’s goals and the slowness of the U.S. criminal process. Emptywheel seems to think that it is all over, although she admits that Papadopolous is a plain idiot. I fear that she is moving too fast. But then the Watergate burglars were idiots, too.

    All in all, I’d say let the indictments fall down like rain.

    But I also recall that the Nixon saga was saved by clever old foxes like Sam Ervin and Judge John Sirica, both of whom were highly underestimated by those in the know, you know. Yet I don’t see a Sam Ervin on the horizon. Enjoy the continuing constitutional crisis.

    1. Byron the Light Bulb

      Mueller: Y’all know me. Know how I earn a livin’. I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back the tourists, that’ll put all your businesses on a payin’ basis.
      –The campaign doorkeeper is next. The son-in-law with no power. Just for being mishpokhe, poor sob.

  14. Louis Fyne

    That quinnipiac poll’s sample is 24% GOP, 37% Dem, 31% independent, 7% Other.

    If Northam loses, you know what to blame, polling-wise.

  15. JTMcPhee

    The simple solution to the question of “who pays” for a rescue by a COLREG-obligated captain (http://www.brighthubengineering.com/seafaring/34233-the-basics-of-the-sea-rules-of-the-road-in-navigation/) who does not just turn off position reporting equipment and sneak past in the night, is already coming soon to an ocean or sea or gulf near you — “fully automated” shipping systems, “in 10 to 20 years,” with no crew onboard at all, at all… https://www.marineinsight.com/future-shipping/ships-without-skippers-researchers-believe-unmanned-ships-are-the-future/ I don’t see any of the future crewless vessels having either the sensors or the capacities to percieve, locate, stop for and rescue those in peril on the sea… and with so much death baked into “modern life,” how long will the ruling value system even show any concern at all for dead “illegals?”

    From a forensics standpoint, how would one prove that either a crewed or a “fully autonomous” vessel blew past another distressed vessel or floating humans in peril, since the people who are running away from Imperial chaos and the ones who are transporting them “for profit” are unlikely to participate in the AIS or other vessel position and course reporting systems?

    As with so much of the dysfunctions of “modern life,” NObody pays, except the mopes of course…

    1. Synoia

      Tankers were blowing past sailing yachts in the English Channel 40 years ago.

      “Power gives way to sail?” Good luck with that.

      1. JTMcPhee

        As a longtime sailor (never in the Channel, but where ore carriers ply the Great Lakes and among ship traffic in Puget Sound and an ocean voyage from Hawaii to San Fran that crossed Great Circles from Japan tonUS ports) I’ve had multiple encounters in small sailboats 23 to 54 feet with vessels operated on just that principle — “Tonnage!”, given by the bridge crew of at least 4 of those ships when they were contacted by VHF radio to make sure they knew we were near their course line. There’s lots of dead sailors who were run down that way. We had a few very close calls, despite caution and efforts to stay out of the way.

        Of course the same principle, Big crushes Little, is a commonplace in the whole world…

  16. Wukchumni

    “Sexual Misconduct in California’s Capitol Is Difficult to Escape” [New York Times]. Hard, then, to see how Pelosi, Feinstein (and Harris) have done anything other than make their peace with it. Eh? “Special place in hell,” and all that.

    Sacramento is one of those places whose main selling point is it’s proximity to worthier locales.

  17. shinola

    Re Tesla’s quality/reliability: Consumer Reports Dec. 2017 issue has the Model X at the bottom of barrel (along with Cadillac Escalade) according to their Annual Auto Reliability Survey. Trouble spots listed: Body hardware, paint & trim and climate system.

    Oh yeah, Tesla’s price as tested: $110,700(!)

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          “Environmentally friendly” is a nonsense phrase when used without metrics or comparisons.

          Less environmentally awful is probably accurate. We already live in a society where (much less valuable) lead-acid batteries are widely recycled; collected by many different scrap companies on monthly schedules from shops and ‘automotive centers’ across the nation. It’s quite unlikely that this collection system won’t adjust, and start taking lithium batteries for the value of their cobalt, nickel +/- manganese when they reach end-of-life in volume. Particularly since some of these metals may get rather pricey if production of electric vehicles ramps up in the 20’s.

          The Al frames may be a different story, but I doubt it. If the alloy(s) used in these cars have a market value equal to or greater than the steel bodies scrappers recycle today, they will find a way. Al weighs less, and can be transported more cheaply. Most Al alloys are more valuable than most steels.

          Telsa probably won’t ever drive a huge, continent-spanning reuse system like this, but they aren’t the only corporation looking to manufacture electric vehicles today. Metals recycling is a large, nationwide business no one ever seems to notice exists already.

    1. Huey Long

      I’m not shocked that Tesla’s having build quality issues; they just got done firing a ton of workers, they’re trying to keep the UAW out at all costs, and their injury rate is higher than the industry average for auto plants.

      Given these facts, I’m willing to be that there are more than a few disgruntled workers on the Tesla line doing their part to make sure that the build quality is complete crap.

  18. Wukchumni

    “In the five years I’ve worked here [at the Los Angeles Times], I’ve had five publishers; I’ve already outlasted four of them. When you look back on the past fifteen or twenty years, the culture of this organization and its prestige has been kept alive by the workers and the journalists, many of whom feel as if they’ve been forgotten about by the owners” [Jacobin]. Interview with union organizers. “Forgotten” is putting it kindly.

    I cut my teeth reading the LA Times and it used to be a 2nd rate NYT, but reading it now, it feels at times as if i’m perusing the local fishwrap of a town sporting a population of 250,000. They seem to specialize in getting scooped on local stories, by out of town newspapers.

    1. barefoot charley

      I had the same long experience with its masters in profitless mediocrity at the Chicago Tribune. Occasional longform reporting or none, unusable website. New corporate turnarounds every year or so, like executive donuts in the parking lot.

      1. Mark P.

        New corporate turnarounds every year or so, like executive donuts in the parking lot.

        In the age of Facebook and Google, journalism has become a very hard business. It’s not clear how dinosaurs like the LA Times or the Chicago Tribune — or even the NYT — will survive through to, say, 2025.

        This is not to say that there’s not plenty of blame to go around or any reason to feel merciful towards most of the corporations that run these dinosaurs.

  19. FreeMarketApologist

    Southwest pop-up concerts: “…Southwest passengers hope that their flight will be one of the lucky ones to feature a sure-to-go-viral performance.”

    Ugh. There’s already enough to dislike about flying. Why do they have to add this? What’s wrong with quiet?

  20. Altandmain

    Is anyone else reminded that the most expensive home on earth is reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles?

    I wonder what the similarities are between the current situation and the Bourbon regime in France.

    This one is interesting:


    Tulsi Gabbard wants to reform the DNC.

    I wonder though if the Establishment Democrats are past the point of no return though

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      The last two Democratic presidents both wanted to gut Social Security. I’m done with ’em.

  21. allan

    Fair and balanced:

    The veteran judge former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates will appear in front of Monday afternoon has presided over a list of big-name defendants and has experienced the criminal justice system firsthand — when her son was convicted of dealing heroin.

    The case will then be handed over to an Obama-appointed judge who donated $1,000 to former President Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign. …

    Find it yourself. Just Google “Roger Ailes casting couch News Corp phone hacking”.

  22. Heliopause

    “we don’t know which email is at issue.”

    The logical inference is that “the Professor” was claiming to have the lost private server emails, since that’s what was on everybody’s minds at the time. Unfortunately, the internet is abuzz with wild speculation at the moment that this somehow proves foreknowledge of the DNC leaks, but as the quoted passage shows there is nothing in the language of the plea to support that conclusion. Nevertheless, expect it to be somberly reported across mainstream platforms as the “smoking gun” that it isn’t.

    Papadopoulos does not currently stand accused of doing anything wrong other than lying to the FBI. He might have a more interesting story to tell but it’s just speculation at this point. Reading through the plea it looks like this may be nothing more than a dumbass who got taken in by a couple of charlatans and then lied about it, Sure, he may have some deeper dirt, or not, I guess we’ll find out.

  23. pretzelattack

    i lift my excessively wretched chandelier beside the golden door–we could trade france the torch for this bauble.

  24. audrey jr

    Feinstein and her husband, Richard Blum, of CBRE fame, are too busy trying to privatize and sell off anything connected to the U.S. Postal Service here in CA. for Dianne to pay any attention to sexual harassment claims in government. That may be why she insists on running for U.S. Senate again. And again.
    There ought to be mandatory retirement age rules for this lot. There are for other .gov employees.

  25. Dave's Not Here

    Isn’t it ironic that the Ukraine pops up here, aka the USGOV’s favorite Ukronazis and erstwhile cat’s paw vs Russia? It’s as stupid as blaming Iran (Shia) for Al Qaeda and ISIS (Sunni). I look forward to seeing the convolutions that the MSM will go through to prove Ukraine = Russia. Hmmm, what other US politicians are known for their ties to the Ukraine?

  26. Watt4Bob

    So, fill in the blank with any one of ‘our’ elected representatives in D.C.

    “_____________ faces a long list of charges that includes conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, false statements, acting as an unregistered agent as a foreign principal, making misleading statements in violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, and seven counts of failing to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts. That’s a dozen in all.

    Name one, come on, name a member of the House, or Senate who hasn’t made them selves relatively rich off lying and laundering, and influence peddling?

    The total number of our elected ‘leaders’ that pass the smell test could fit in your average mini van.

    My Mom used to ask, “If everyone jumped off the bridge, would you do it?”

    Anyone who knows me even the least bit knows I’m not making excuses for Trump Inc., I’m just emphasizing how truly f*cked we are as concerns the mean level of ethics extant in our capital city.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        LOL! You’ve mistaken what we have for a representative government, an easy mistake to make given all of the lip service and sleight-of-hand we must endure while they exclusively do the bidding of their money masters.

  27. Plenue

    >“Read the CIA’s Simple Sabotage Field Manual: A Timeless, Kafkaesque Guide to Subverting Any Organization with “Purposeful Stupidity” (1944)

    CIA didn’t exist in 1944. This is OSS; the comically inept organization that was replaced by the…well, also comically inept, CIA.

  28. OkiefromAK

    I was a bit surprised that the Antifa history article didn’t mention SHARPS. They were big deal in my area, way back when, late 80’s-90’s. Portland was a harder place then.

  29. mk

    I was going to take some fall pictures during my trip to Oroville, CA last week, but the trees were barely starting to turn color, so my pics still look like summer.

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