2:00PM Water Cooler 10/5/2017

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“After a second bilateral meeting on KORUS on Wednesday, the United States and South Korea appear to finally be on the same page when it comes to their five-year-old trade deal: It’s time to amend it. A South Korean government statement released Wednesday evening said the two sides reached a common understanding on the need to reopen the deal to increase the benefits for both countries” [Politico]. “South Korea had been resistant to Lighthizer’s attempts to sit down and negotiate, telling reporters after the first strategic meeting in August that Seoul would ‘not agree to the unilateral proposal’ to amend the deal until they first examined the cause of the trade imbalance. The change in tune comes after Trump first threatened to withdraw from the agreement and later said the U.S. would ‘try and straighten out’ the deal and ‘make it fair for everybody.'”


New Cold War

“The Senate intelligence committee has said it has confidence in an US agency finding earlier this year that Russia intervened in the US presidential election in an effort to skew the vote in Donald Trump’s favour” [Guardian]. More:

“There is consensus among members and staff that we trust the conclusions of the ICA,” Burr said. It was a significant statement from a senior Republican, as the president has dismissed accounts of Russian meddling in the election as “a hoax”.

“The issue of collusion is still open. We continue to investigate both intelligence and witnesses,” Burr said. But he added that the 2016 election demonstrated “the Russian intelligence service is determined, clever and I recommend every campaign and every elected official take this seriously”.

So the “17 intelligence agencies except really four” thingie is now the agreed narrative? Please kill me now.

“Senate investigators: No conclusion about collusion with Russia in 2016” [Politico]. Well, that was a foregone conclusion when “interference” mutated into “meddling.” And I’m not seeing frothing and stamping from the usual suspects, so the whole Russian hacking thing is starting to look like a ginormous nothingburger, although not without benefit in terms of clicks for the media, walking around money for talking heads and security mavens, and smearing and suppressing independent voices. So it’s all good.

“The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee delivered a stark warning on Wednesday to political candidates: Expect Russian operatives to remain active and determined to again try to sow chaos in elections next month and next year” [New York Times]. Let the outside agitator gaslighting continue! Anyhoo, if $100K in Russian Facebook efforts neutralized and defeated the billions of the entire donor class, that’s really good news. A budget like that puts the Presidency within reach of the DSA, for pity’s sake. Heck, a few more fundraisers, and Yves could run!

“Does The Media Cover Trump Too Much? Too Harshly? Too Narrowly?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “natesilver: On Mueller/Russia, there certainly is a lot of news, but it also feels like left-leaning outlets spend a lot of time “connecting the dots” when there isn’t much news.” When you’ve lost Nate Silver…

Trump Transition

From the Department of Reaction Was Not Positive

Reacts including armchair diagnosis that Trump was senile (from the Brockists), and so forth. FWIW: I went to see Trump in Bangor, and heard him speak for over an hour, and altnough I’m not a medical doctor, I didn’t see signs of senility, and whatever he was, he clearly wasn’t a moron. And FWIW: Liberal Democrats made exactly the same claims about Eisenhower, I am told. Today, the claim that Trump is senile is the weaponized, high-octane version of “Republicans are stupid” which the credentialed classes that (see Thomas Frank) control the Democrat Party have been deploying to such good effect that they’ve lost 1000 seats in state legislatures, most governorships, and all three branches of government, not to mention having no bench. So who’s stupid? I remember very well, back in the days when I was a Democrat blogger, dog-piling Bush on a daily basis about how stupid he was. And all that snark was so effective that Bush won a second term. Why do Democrats keep doing what doesn’t work? Some of them are certainly paid to lose, but not all of them. So why? Why?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats have made a lot of hay out of special election upsets this year in deep red legislative districts in New Hampshire and Oklahoma. But, those races have featured infinitesimal turnouts. For example, on Tuesday, Democrats flipped a state House district east of Manchester, New Hampshire, that gave Trump 59 percent of the vote last fall. But only 1,804 voters cast ballots in a district that cast 10,023 ballots last November” [Cook Political Report]. “As those elections show, Democratic voters are hyper-motivated right now. But their chances fall as turnout rises. On June 20, Republican Karen Handel defeated Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia’s 6th CD after a $50 million contest that generated 56 percent turnout. The very same day, Democrat Archie Parnell came within three points of a shocking upset in a South Carolina race that attracted a fraction of the money and generated 19 percent turnout.”

“The GOP is on its deathbed” [Globe and Mail]. “We should recall that few saw the demise of the old Canadian Tories coming. Only nine years before their collapse in 1993, that party won 211 seats, the most in Canadian history. But populist and nationalist movements at the provincial level took hold. The populism fomented in the West, chiefly Alberta, under the Reform Party banner while nationalism soared in the province of Quebec with the Bloc Quebecois. Those insurgent forces captured 52 and 54 seats respectively in the 1993 election while the Progressive Conservatives fell a staggering 209 seats short of their 1984 tally.” A Bannon-organized, Mercer-funded new party is envisaged.

“The Republican Party Isn’t Cracking Up. It’s Getting Even Stronger.” [Jeet Here, The New Republic]. “[L]ike Samuel Beckett’s Godot, the Republican crack-up is always due to arrive, but never does. Not only does the party stay together, it flourishes. The Tea Party helped the Republicans capture the House of Representatives. GOP extremism didn’t stop the party from winning the Senate in 2014. And Trump ran the most openly racist national campaign in decades, but won a commanding electoral college victory. If the Republican Party is on the verge of a crack-up, it’s a very strange one indeed that sees them gaining a stranglehold on all three branches of government.” Yeah, but have you seen the other guys? Concluding: “What’s striking is that this so-called war between the establishment and the populists always ends in the same way: with the establishment absorbing elements of the populist agenda to win elections. Seen in this light, these so-called insurgencies or civil wars never really hurt the Republican Party.”

* * *

“Conservative Democrats Embrace Parts of GOP Tax Plan” [Bloomberg]. “The Blue Dog coalition, which has 18 members in the House, said it’s open to lowering business taxes, the first significant sign of a crack in Democratic opposition to the GOP approach. Their position was included in a plan released Wednesday outlining the group’s stance on taxes.” Apparently, the Blue Dogs don’t think Trump is Hitler. Remember when everybody did? Good times.

“Blue Dogs Urge Ryan To Ignore Pelosi– Negotiate With Them Instead” [Down with Tyranny]. “Jim Costa (Blue Dog-CA), Henry Cuellar (Blue Dog-TX) and Dan Lipinski (Blue Dog-IL) are three of the most right-wing Democrats in Congress. They are the co-chairs of the 18-member Blue Dog Coalition… Are they in red districts where they have to vote like a Republican to be reelected? Not at all. Hillary beat Trump in all 3 of their districts — very blue districts. The real tragedy is that the DCCC is now openly and publicly admitting that they are working with the Blue Dog caucus to recruit even more right-wing fake Democrats from the Republican wing of the party to run for Congress disguised as actual Democrats.” It will be telling if Our Revolution does not challenge any of them.

* * *

“Two years ago, no state had AVR. Today, 1 in 4 Americans live in a state that has approved automatic voter registration” [Governing]. “The idea is sometimes assumed to be good for Democrats, in the same way that many reforms to broaden the electorate, such as early voting and same-day voter registration, are presumed to be…. But AVR has deep support from good-government groups, and its potential partisan impacts have been uncertain enough that Republican states have also been among those that have adopted it. So could there be a largely unnoticed upside for Republicans with AVR? Possibly. In only two AVR jurisdictions — California and the District of Columbia — do unregistered but eligible African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans collectively outnumber unregistered but eligible non-Hispanic whites, according to Census data for the 2016 electorate. In the other states, unregistered whites outnumber unregistered minorities: Alaska, Illinois, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.”

“Michigan’s largest county voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 610 of 1,680 precincts during a countywide canvass of vote results late last month. Most of those are in heavily Democratic Detroit, where the number of ballots in precinct poll books did not match those of voting machine printout reports in 59 percent of precincts, 392 of 662” [Detroit News]. “According to state law, precincts whose poll books don’t match with ballots can’t be recounted. If that happens, original election results stand. [Daniel Baxter, elections director for the city of Detroit] blamed the discrepancies on the city’s decade-old voting machines, saying 87 optical scanners broke on Election Day.” Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. About as cheap as you can get.

Stats Watch

Challenger Job-Cut Report, September 2017: “Layoff announcements remain low and stable” [Econoday]. “Challenger also tracks hiring announcements and here the news is not positive. Hiring intentions in September, which largely reflect holiday plans in the retail sector, fell to 422,726 vs 487,075 in September last year. The decline underscores retail’s move toward e-commerce and hints at payroll trouble for the fourth quarter’s employment reports.”

International Trade, August 2017: “August trade data are positive for third-quarter GDP, at a deficit of $42.4 billion which is right at expectations and includes gains for exports and declines for imports” [Econoday]. “The export side shows gains for consumer goods and capital goods while the import side shows declines for industrial supplies and capital goods.” But: “The data in this series wobbles and the 3 month rolling averages are the best way to look at this series. The 3 month averages are appear flat (no change in rate of growth)” [Econintersect]. “The data is much worse if one considers inflation is grabbing hold in exports and imports – and the numbers are not inflation adjusted.”

Jobless Claims, week of September 30, 2017: “Hurricane impacts appear to be fading as initial jobless claims fell” [Econoday]. “[T]he message of this report is positive, suggesting that the labor-market impact from this season’s heavy run of hurricanes will prove far more limited than Katrina’s strike in 2005.” But: “These remain impossibly low historically, particularly on a population adjusted basis. To me this further confirms my suspicions that the reason for the lower claims is that they’ve been made a lot harder to get than in prior cycles. Consequently, markets are getting a ‘false signal’ as to underlying employment conditions, and, more importantly, the ‘automatic fiscal stabilizer’ effect has been largely neutralized, which means a return to growth will require that much larger of a pro active fiscal adjustment” [Mosler Economics].

Factory Orders, August 2017: “Increasing strength in capital goods is the good news in today’s factory orders report where a headline 1.2 percent gain is 2 tenths above Econoday’s consensus” [Econoday]. “The strength in ex-transportation and especially capital goods are outstanding positives and help offset what has been a very disappointing run in the manufacturing component of industrial production, a separate report released by the Federal Reserve, where August fell 0.3 percent and July was unchanged. Today’s factory orders report closes the book on what was, despite Hurricane Harvey, a mostly strong August for manufacturing.” And but: “According to the seasonally adjusted data, it was civilian aircraft that caused the improvement. The data in this series is noisy so I would rely on the unadjusted 3 month rolling averages which modestly weakened” (but note above that transportation is backed out) [Econintersect]. “Backlog of orders continues in expansion year-over-year.”

Commodities: “The U.S. is becoming an export powerhouse in an unlikely arena. U.S. crude oil exports surged to 1.984 million barrels a day last week…, busting by nearly 500,000 barrels a day a record that had been set only the week before. The crude export rate is approaching a level that is almost as much as Kuwait sends abroad and the latest sign that the U.S. is remaking the global oil distribution map as it resets its own domestic energy production” [Wall Street Journal]. “The U.S. is still an oil importer. But net imports of crude fell to a record low last week, and analysts at Citigroup said almost all of the imported crude last week was from Canada, writing that the data was ‘a harbinger of a more sustainable trend to come.’ The U.S. is gaining sales because the crude is cheaper than oil from other markets, and the revenue may help draw investment for even more exporting capacity.”

Retail: “How the Factoring Industry Has Adapted to a Changing Retail World” [California Apparel News]. “Factors are getting more sophisticated with technology to ease the process of applying for money, checking on retailers’ creditworthiness and collecting funds. Inventory financing, trade financing, term loans and acquisition financing have become more common. While there are fewer bricks-and-mortar stores out there these days, there is still a healthy demand for clothing sold in various venues.”

Retail: “Starbucks actually benefits from the proliferation of coffee stores because category growth raises awareness of specialty coffee shops” [247 Wall Street]. The article puts Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and McDonald’s in the same category, which seems right. I think Dunkin’ Donuts serves better coffee than Starbucks (it’s not burnt) but McDonald’s serves worse. And everybody has WiFi these days. So I guess it’s the horrid caramel macchiatos that keep Starbucks in business.

Shipping: “World air cargo traffic rose by 12.1 percent in August over the year-earlier period, the fifth month out of the last six that demand has grown at double-digit levels, the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the leading world airline group, said today” [DC Velocity].

Shipping: “The global orderbook: fools rushing in?” [Splash 247]. It seems that Splash 247 has taken out a Communist Party card:

The United States, Japan, and the European Union are still plodding along economically. Income inequality keeps increasing. There is growth, but nothing for the majority of middle-income and low-income workers who are the real spenders; hence, the engine of a consumer driven economy.

Although there are some indications of central banks increasing interest rates, they do not appear to be aiming at normal levels within the next couple of years; in fact, rates will not achieve historically average levels in the next few years. National governments still think the solution is providing cheap money to Wall Street, The City, Frankfurt, et cetera as a way to stimulate economies. The conservative governments do not want to spend on massive infrastructure programs which would create real jobs. Unfortunately cheap money hasn’t worked in the last decade. All it has done is provide hedge funds, private equity firms, and foolish managements with low interest money to splurge on new ships. Ships that added to the overcapacity.

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

The Bezzle: “Amazon.com Inc. shares saw a nice bump on Thursday on reports that it is experimenting with its own delivery service. This is not good news for the likes of FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. It seems that Amazon has found another industry to terrorize, and even though the drop seen at FedEx and UPS might appear to be marginal, it could hurt if Amazon can get its delivery service off the ground” [247 Wall Street]. Mr. Market and I haven’t the slightest affinity, but if Amazon’s going into the grocery and trucking business, why is it valued like a unicorn? And why not spin off AWS and unlock all that value for shareholders? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with conglomerates?

Climate Risk: “No forecasts of investor flight from insurance-linked securities” [Business Insurance]. “There has been some speculation among observers within the insurance and reinsurance sectors that the insurance-linked securities market and wider alternative capital markets might suffer a test of confidence in the wake of catastrophe losses and see capital flee, but sources indicate otherwise. Will investors flee if the catastrophe bond market takes a hit? “I don’t think that’s the case,” said Brad Adderley, a Hamilton, Bermuda-based corporate partner at offshore law firm Appleby. One of the leading ratings agencies agrees.”

Political Risk: “Who are Puerto Rico’s creditors?” [MarketWatch]. “A mix of hedge funds, mutual funds and retail investors, many of whom are Puerto Rican residents, are holders. The hedge-fund groups, most vocally, have been ensnared in tense negotiations with Puerto Rican officials and the U.S. government, which designed an aid package, known as Promesa, or Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability act, to help facilitate a way out of the island’s dilemma. Promesa offers the territory a largely out-of-court process, known as Title VI, that focuses on financial debt and ‘relies on a collective action mechanism to bind dissenting creditors to the agreement of the debtor and a supermajority of its creditors to restructure its debt.'”

Five Horsemen: “Laggard Amazon catches a break as stocks’ slow-motion meltup rolls on toward its Wile E Coyote moment” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Oct 5

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 94 Extreme Greed (previous close: 91, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 79 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 5 at 12:30pm.

Our Famously Free Press

“Los Angeles Times Newsroom, Challenging Tronc, Goes Public With Union Push” [Los Angeles Times]. “After months of organizing, the committee behind the push for a union drafted a one-page letter laying out its reasoning and left printouts on employees’ desks Tuesday night….. The letter also says “a majority of the newsroom” had signed union cards supporting representation by the NewsGuild, which represents 25,000 reporters, editors, photojournalists and other media workers at news organizations across the United States.”

Here’s the letter:

“Here Are All The Hoaxes Being Spread About The Las Vegas Shooting” [Buzzfeed].

“Covering President Trump in a Polarized Media Environment” [Pew Research]. “Seven-in-ten stories from outlets with a left-leaning audience and 62% from those with a more mixed audience included at least two of nine types of sources evaluated, such as a member of the administration, a member of Congress, or an outside expert. That was true, however, of less than half the stories (44%) from outlets with a right-leaning audience.” But if the (so-called) left-leaning sources are constantly dog-piling, do they really count as separate?

Class Warfare

“These 6 charts explain why some Americans have gotten much richer than others” [MarketWatch] (original). “‘Federal policies fail to promote asset building by lower-income families,” the [Urban Institute] report concluded. ‘It spends over $400 billion to support asset development, but those subsidies primarily benefited higher-income families.’ About two-thirds of homeownership tax subsidies and retirement subsidies go to the top 20% of taxpayers, as measured by income. The bottom 20% however, receives less than 1% of these subsidies.”

“Looking busy is now a status symbol at work, experts say. “It’s the new badge of honor,” says executive coach Marc Dorio. “If you’re not busy you’re not seen as being important.” Call to Career founder Cheryl Palmer adds that “in many workplaces there is a push to appear busy all the time” with the issue being “not so much how much you actually produce” but “that you have many irons in the fire — or at least appear to.” And sometimes, she adds, that kind of behavior gets “rewarded by promotions.” Or at the very least gets rewarded by someone avoiding a pink slip, adds New York City-based success strategist, Carlota Zimmerman” [Moneyish].

News of the Wired

“Doing aerobic activities, no matter how often or intense, contribute to mental wellness and provide protection against depression, according to the findings of a recently published study by the American Journal of Psychiatry” [247 Wall Street] (original).

“Why We’ll Have Evidence of Aliens—If They Exist—By 2035” [Nautil.us]. “[T]he rapid growth in digital processing means that far larger swaths of the radio dial can be examined at one go and—in the case of the Allen array—many star systems can be checked out simultaneously. The array now examines three stars at once, but additional computer power could boost that to more than 100. Within two decades, SETI experiments will be able to complete a reconnaissance of 1 million star systems, which is hundreds of times more than have been carefully examined so far. SETI practitioners from Frank Drake to Carl Sagan have estimated that the galaxy currently houses somewhere between 10,000 and a few million broadcasting societies. If these estimates are right, then examining 1 million star systems could well lead to a discovery. So, if the premise of SETI has merit, we should find a broadcast from E.T. within a generation.”

“Steemit, a nascent social media platform, is trying to change all that by rewarding its users with cold, hard cash in the form of a cryptocurrency. Everything that you do on Steemit—every post, every comment, and every like—translates to a fraction of a digital currency called Steem. Over time, as Steem accumulates, it can be cashed out for normal currency. (Or held, if you think Steem is headed for a bright future.)” [Steemit]. “Today, Steem’s market capitalization has settled in the vicinity of $294 million. One Steem is worth slightly more than one United States Dollar, and the currency remains a regular presence at the edge of the top 20 most traded digital currencies.” Here’s the site; you need a phone that accepts SMS to join.

“Wayback Machine Playback… now with Timestamps!” [Internet Archive].

* * *

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 (Chris):

Chris writes: “A beautiful lily with the pink in the background too.”

Readers, I’m running a little short of pictures of plants (that aren’t my own).

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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. NotTimothyGeithner

    Why do Democrats keep following bad advice?

    Many are simply stupid, even in the professional class.

    Kings of molehills.

    And, too much has been invested in the Clinton-DLC strategy of whining about hillbillies for the strategy to not succeed. For much of the Democratic Party over the age of 35 (too young to vote for Gore), they’ve invested 25 years into the celebration of Clinton Inc. What if it was all a waste and a braying jackass could have been elected President over “run to the extremes in the primary and the center in the general” (its why James Carville makes any money)?

    1. Sid Finster

      Because Russiagate is the fastest way to the removal, or at least the delegitimization of Trump.

      Because if the most easily winnable election in decades was lost because it was “rigged” somehow, then losing isn’t a call to reform.

      Because Russia is an incredibly convenient scapegoat for the Acela class, much like Emmanuel Goldstein was in 1984.

      1. Synoia

        Why do Democrats keep following bad advice?

        Because their payors want them to behave the way they do?

      2. Anonymous

        “Russiagate” is necessary cover for the spying the Dems did on the Trump campaign. If they
        can cast enough doubt that Trump and Co. were conspiring with the Russians they can justify
        the spying. If they can’t it’s a big scandal that could go up to Obama himself.

        1. Yves Smith

          This is ludicrous. The Dems and the press went into 11 on a 1-10 scale as soon as Trump won. It was very clear that the main motivation for attacking Trump was that Hillary was going to get into a hot war with Russia. She’s said repeatedly she was going to implement a no-fly zone in Syria, which would have achieved that end pronto.

          It was clear that tons of people in the military/surveillance state complex really wanted that war with Russia. So if they can’t get it the fast way, they are going to get it the slow way, by propagandizing relentlessly and making anyone who is an actual ally or Russia or can be depicted as one a supposed top threat to All Things American. The history of the US (Creel Committee in WWI) and other countries shows that relentless propaganda can turn a formerly uninterested/pacifist public into war enthusiasts against a pet enemy in a remarkably short period of time.

          Going after Trump directly as a supposed Russian tool was a great way to advance this plan.

          This is also agnotology and against our written site Policies. Further comments like this will be expunged unless you can provide supporting evidence.

          1. False Solace

            I dispute your characterization of this commenter’s argument as “ludicrous” and “agnotology”.

            There are numerous reports that the Trump campaign was surveilled by people in the Obama administration, unless you choose to stretch those words beyond normal usage. It’s also reasonable to suppose that the Russia story, which is very unsupported by evidence in my opinion, is a convenient excuse for what would otherwise be extremely improper behavior during an election. The march to war, I’m sure, is a major motivation for the Russia narrative. But the Obama administration has a history of spying on journalists, Congress, and anyone else it considers inconvenient. As for Trump:

            “U.S. intelligence agencies secretly surveilled at least a half dozen Trump associates” (The Hill, opinion piece, Sep. 20)

            The FBI applied for a FISA warrant in June 2016 to monitor four members of the Trump campaign. It was denied, but a narrower request was reportedly approved in October. (The Guardian, Jan. 11).

            Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was wiretapped under FISA (CNN, Sep. 19)

            Former intel official Larry C. Johnson stated that GHCQ performed an “information operation” against Trump and passed information via back channels to intelligence officials in the U.S. (The Hill, Mar. 19)

            National Security Advisor Susan Rice unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials (CNN, Sep. 18). It looks like Congress is satisfied her actions were legal, but the US is a country where plenty of terrible things are legal.

            I’m not saying I believe Obama directly ordered anything. I believe he’s too canny for any such thing. But I certainly do believe the intelligence community is out to get Trump and wouldn’t bat an eyelash at wiretapping anyone they choose. Since Obama was president at the time, the buck essentially stops with him.

            1. Yves Smith

              I don’t deny that Trump was surveilled. So was Merkel, a supposed critical ally. But you and Anonymous make a monster and unsubstantiated leap of logic in saying that that was why the military-surveillance complex and the press immediately went into overdrive to try to, as Lambert pointed out, overturn the Constitutional order. As unseemly as it was that Obama got a FISA court to snoop on Trump, the court order made it totally legal. You also effectively confirm that the other moves are seen as kosher legally despite stinking to high hell in practice So what pray tell was there to worry about? No one important, institutionally or individually at risk.

              Follow the money. No war with Russia apparently threatened lots of rice bowls. And the Democratic party has become all about the patronage opportunities they get by controlling the Executive branch. By contrast, you’ve got no remotely sufficient motive for such concerted action based on your theory.

      3. ChrisAtRU

        “Because if the most easily winnable election in decades was lost because it was “rigged” somehow, then losing isn’t a call to reform.”


        Mightily so, especially when resistance to reform means anointing #moreOfTheSame some #2020.

        Also: #BWHW

    2. flora

      ” Why do Democrats keep doing what doesn’t work? Some of them are certainly paid to lose, but not all of them. So why? Why?”

      They’d rather keep people divided over identity than united to deliver concrete, material benefits? (just a guess.)

      1. Livius Drusus

        Some Democrats also really believe in the “demographics is destiny” argument and that as the country becomes less white and less religious the Democrats will obtain a permanent majority without having to do much on the economics front. That is what the “Coalition of the Ascendant” was about. Promote a multicultural meritocracy to appeal to non-whites and their hopes for upward mobility while keeping socially liberal white professionals happy and not scaring them with economic populism. Working-class whites are no longer needed since they are a “dying” demographic.

        I think this strategy is dangerous and foolish but many Democrats seem to really believe in it even today. I still talk to Democrats who say stuff like “we just need to wait for the old racist whites to die off then we will be back in power.”

        1. John k

          That plan makes sense so long as black and brown working class voters are not interested in concrete, material benefits.
          Granted, the southern firewall in the dem primary was prima facie evidence for that position. Somehow doesn’t seem stable…

          1. Big River Bandido

            Hard to glean much from the result of Democrat primaries in the South last year, since turnout was so anemic. That alone speaks volumes.

        2. Summer

          “Promote a multicultural meritocracy to appeal to non-whites and their hopes for upward mobility while keeping socially liberal white professionals happy and not scaring them with economic populism.”

          Yep, if it’s one thing the establishment has proven, it’s that it can promote ideals that don’t match reality for hundreds of years.

      2. John k

        But, but…
        They would only wage war against concrete, material benefits for the middle class if there were concrete, material benefits accruing to them for doing so. What could that be?

    1. Arizona Slim

      You know what? I’m going to start a counter-trend. For lack of a better buzzphrase, I’m going to call it Sitting and Thinking Before Doing Stuff.

      Hey, if it worked for Rodin’s sculpting career (he created “The Thinker”), it can work for the rest of us.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        “Boss, I was too busy reading Russell’s In Praise of Idleness. What did you say? I didn’t hear you.”

    2. Livius Drusus

      Haha! I was going to post this! I wouldn’t be surprised if this was actually what a lot of “busyness” amounted to even in real life.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Oh, for pity’s sake. Donald Trump is a classic narcissist. I speak from the experience of having lived intimately with one for 17 years. Everything he does and says is right from the narcissist’s playbook, including that episode with Melania.

      That his personality was likely exacerbated by being the pampered scion of a wealthy family is a given, since the likely behavior of those around him would have reinforced his firm belief he is the center of the universe.

      That is also what leads me to wonder, also based on experience, whether his escalating “craziness” isn’t being done deliberately in hope of escaping the presidency. Narcissists feed on being at the top of the heap, but they aren’t really good at doing what’s needed to stay there. And they tend to have short attention spans because actually doing anything exposes them to making a mistake that might be noticed and result in criticism of him as a person.

      All that media criticism is hot air, as far as DT is concerned, because he knows how that sausage is made. Likewise, criticism from the Democrats is a nothingburger because they’re his enemies. Anything that goes badly is always someone else’s fault. As for Melania, she’s there to perform a function as he has defined it, and so long as she does so, she ceases to exist.

      Most domestic abusers are narcissists. And the last I heard, it’s incurable for the simple reason that a narcissist is functionally incapable of admitting he/she has a flaw.

      1. RUKidding

        I agree with a lot of your analysis. I don’t think he’s senile, but I do think he’s totally unfit for this office.

        But whining about his alleged senility – by the D party – is their typical wortheless exercise in doing nothing, really, resolve their own problems and offer something truly useful to voters.

        1. Spring Texan

          Allen Frances has a lot to say on that:

          It’s a great mistake to confuse bad behavior with mental illness. Trump is one of the worst people we could possibly imagine as President, but that doesn’t mean he’s mentally ill. When we confuse the two, it’s a terrible insult to those people who really are mentally ill. They’re mostly nice well-meaning people who don’t do harm. He’s a bad person, not well-meaning, very selfish, who does lots of harm.

          It also distracts us. Trump is a terrible political problem for America — in some ways the greatest threat to democracy that we’ve had since the Civil War. He is a terrible environmental threat to the whole world. ..You don’t have to be a psychologist to understand Donald Trump. The two best ways of understanding him are to think spoiled child. Think, a very selfish, spoiled four-year-old in a grown man’s body. The other thing that helps [with] understanding him is think, reality show impresario. Trump isn’t playing to the good-government crowd. He’s playing to the reality show crowd. The daily dramas get him amazing TV ratings [and an] incredible number of social network followers. He’s a man who loves attention, positive or negative, and he’s received more attention than any human being, perhaps in the history of the world, for doing outlandish things. They work for him. We shouldn’t expect rational government from a man who doesn’t care much about rational government, is too ignorant to provide it and has an unstable approach to life that has his latest impulse be his governing principle.

          We shouldn’t label that “mental illness.” We should realize what it is, and the solutions to this won’t be removing him from office on psychiatric grounds, as someone suggested. It’s never going to work.

          1. Loblolly

            I think the greatest theat to democracy is the Democrats, the pundits, the pollsters, the technocracy and people such as yourself’s unwillingness to accept the results of the election.

            This is how democracy works. If you can’t understand that, then you are the problem.

    1. Massinissa

      Honestly I wouldnt wish being president on a dog. That, and she’s probably more useful here than jumping into the endless pony race anyway.

  2. Jim Haygood

    My suspicions that the reason for the lower [unemployment] claims is that they’ve been made a lot harder to get than in prior cycles.‘ — Mosler Economics

    They’re called ‘claims’ for a reason — claims may or may not be approved, based on the data submitted in the claim. But regardless of the approval rate, it’s still ‘one claim, one count,’ just as it’s always been.

    You can file a claim right here and get it counted, though it probably won’t be approved. (Try using your dog’s name.)


  3. Donald

    The Russian Facebook and Twitter narratives remind me of the butterfly effect as described in popular science books, where a butterfly flapping its wings or really any tiny random event like someone sneezing could effect the weather months in the future. (I gather from the wikipedia article there is some pushback against this, viscous effects would dampen the tiny winds generated and prevent major effects, yada yada, but it is a nice metaphor anyway.)

    So the Russians spent 100,000 dollars on Facebook and changed the course of the election. Perhaps they were working in collusion with Russian butterflies,whose random wingflaps in early 2016 might have influenced the weather enough to depress turnout in key states several months later. Sure, hard to calculate, impossible really, since every conceivable tiny effect would have to be taken into account, but only impossible for mere Western campaign managers and meteorologists, and not for Boris and Natasha.

    1. Synoia

      “sneezing could effect the weather months in the future”

      It’s a metaphor, similar to “Great Oaks from small acorns grow”

      1. Donald

        Originally it was meant literally. Chaos theory and all that. There is a famous story about Lorenz doing a computer simulation of the weather (using an extremely simplified model) and he put in what he thought were the same initial conditions for another simulation and got very different results. It turns out he had chopped off the least significant digit. But the spoilsport cited in the wikipedia article said that viscous effects not included in Lorenz’s model would smooth things out and prevent butterflies from having long term effects with their random wingflapping.

    2. HotFlash

      So the Russians spent 100,000 dollars on Facebook and changed the course of the election.

      And overcame HRH HRC’s billion dollar campaign? For heaven’s sake find these people and hire them!

      1. Donald

        The funny thing is that yesterday at the NYT one of the people in the comment thread was saying that of course the Facebook ads could have changed the election results, because every little thing could have changed the election results. He thought he was defending the thesis that the dastardly Russians turned the election with their Facebook ads. But that’s a reductio ad absurdum (hoping I spelled that right) of the whole thesis. Any or every little thing could have caused Clinton to lose. Which is why I brought up the butterfly effect, though it is unlikely that butterflies did it. But they might be the only innocent parties.

      2. Richard

        There was a NYT article linked from here a few days ago that connected a “Syrian child rapist” hoax in Twin Falls, Idaho to alleged Russian Facebook activity.
        So take a step back, NYT, and reflect:
        You’re saying the Russians spent time, money and covert energy
        To flip IDAHO!!! from Hillary to Trump.
        Because that was something that needed doing.
        So maybe they aren’t all that smart.
        Or just possibly, this entire storyline doesn’t pass the sniff test. Or even the mess on the bottom of my shoe test.

  4. Tim

    “in many workplaces there is a push to appear busy all the time”

    Does anyone else remember the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza acts stressed out at work even when he has nothing to do and gets promoted or a raise?

    Either very prescient or this is not news. As for me I’d better get back to looking busy, I mean work…(just kidding)

    1. Tom

      I remember a very funny book called “How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” that made fun of the “looking busy at work” hack about 50 years ago. The story’s protagonist used all kinds of other tricks, such as moving into a larger office if it became vacant so people would assume he got a promotion, or appropriating large credenzas or other imposing furniture for his humble office to increase his perceived gravitas. Very funny stuff. Seems cynicism in the work place is nothing new.

      1. cocomaan

        Funny, that book looks like it came out right around the time of some other great critiques of bureaucracy, corporatism, and administration. PARKINSON’S LAW is my favorite, but you also have THE PETER PRINCIPLE.

        Lately, I’ve loved the “Garbage Can Theory” of organization. It solves so many problems.

        1. Tom

          That’s a new one to me. I’ll need to chew on it a bit, but it seems to encompass several popular sayings: “When all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” and “Everybody has a plan til they get punched in the face.” (That last one is from Mike Tyson, when asked about an opponent’s plans for an upcoming bout with him.)

          1. cocomaan

            If you can find the original paper, it’s a great read. They really delve into how it looks when put into application.

        2. pricklyone

          Re: How to Succed in Business..
          Tony award winning musical in 1962, Movie in 1967. Peter Principal pub. 1969.

    2. Adar

      As someone who has served his time at honest employment, I am delighted to hear about the institutionalization of my own longstanding rules: Always look busy, and, NEVER tell your supervisor that you have nothing to do. These seem obvious for the majority of us unable to “do what we love”. When a niece got her first job I filled her on on the rules. “You may think telling your supervisor that you are all caught up will show them what an efficient go-getter you are, but it may just make them think maybe they don’t need you”.
      Her eyes widened…

    3. MichaelSF

      It didn’t take long for me to learn that it is counterproductive to turn in something prior to the due date. It gives the person receiving it that much more time to screw with it/send it back for senseless revisions/warp your good work into a hopeless mess. Granted, every now and then you get lucky and have a boss who isn’t straight out of a Dilbert cartoon and you’ll not suffer from showing your capabilities, but it doesn’t seem to happen very often.

      1. justanotherprogressive

        I actually had a boss that used to love to bleed red ink over anything written turned over to him. But we got smart: He’d bleed all over our first copy – we’d make “revisions” and then he’d bleed all over that. Then we would turn in our original copy again, and he’d approve it. It was just a “game” with him, I think…….

        1. pricklyone

          He was probably trying to “look busy”, too. Looking busy really means looking “non-disposable”. Showing HIS boss that he is relevant, and needed.

          1. Tom

            Is there such a thing as a false flag operation in the office environment? That is, to purposely (but secretively) cause a high profile problem just so that you can cover yourself in glory as you conspicuously ride to the rescue? Of course, right? Darn, why didn’t I think of that back in my 9-5 days?

    1. marku52

      Wow, that CA leading indicator really did tank. If it’s credible as a LI, it sure looks like the last 3 recessions with one false indication in ’91.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        False indication in 1991?

        That “jobless recovery” recession got Bubba elected President against Pappy Bush..

        Can’t really tell what’s the driver behind this current plunge. As a small business guy, in a very specialized construction trade, I’m busier than ever.
        But the housing boom is the biggest double-edged sword ever…and many here in the Bay Area are looking to get out before the next crash.

  5. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: recruiting more Blue Dogs.

    Doesn’t work out that well. Here in Alabamistan, we remember well Richard Shelby and Parker Griffith, both elected as Democrats who switched parties after they were elected.

    Kinda makes a Democratic GOTV effort just a bit more difficult.

    1. Vatch

      Considering how quaint Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore is, wouldn’t it be better to elect someone else, even if that person were to switch parties later on?

      1. Biph

        Depends if you are Republican yes, if you are a Democrat forcing GOP candidates to respond to the bat-guano crazy things a Senator Roy Moore says is probably good thing.

    2. dcblogger

      At least Doug Jones is an old fashioned Democrat. How do his chances look from on the ground?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Doug is 9 points down and Roy has gone silent. Probably his best strategy, just disappear until December.

  6. Terry Flynn

    I’ve suggested this one before so won’t do again after this and run foul of the rule regarding spamming on one topic. I wonder what most-least voting would do? Relatively easy change to existing voting method in places like USA/UK: you simply indicate which candidate you like least as well as which you like most. Least totals are subtracted from most totals and the candidate with the highest ‘net’ count wins.

    Stops candidates who have a solid populist base but profoundly alienate significant minorities. Of course it runs the risk that boring candidates who neither greatly enthuse nor p1ss off significant numbers win…. but you pays your money and takes your choice. Arrow’s impossibility theorem shows no voting system is ‘fair’ – you must simply decide what objectives are most important to you and go with the system that delivers them.

    Plus of course this only works with 3+candidates…. but having it in the first place would encourage that. just a thought.

    1. Anonymized

      I think a Single Transferable Vote system would work better. Voters rank all the candidates in order of preference, the lowest scoring is eliminated and the second choice of those who voted for them are distributed, and so on until one candidate has a solid majority of votes. You could even have multiple candidates from the same party so Berniecrats can go head-to-head against corporate Democrats or Trumpians versus the GOP elite. I suppose this would eliminate the primary structure that rules candidate selection in the US right now, which may or may not be a good thing.

      1. Terry Flynn

        What you are describing (at least in the context of single winner consistencies common to places like the USA/UK/AUS) is actually the Alternative Vote system (rejected in UK referendum a few years ago).

        It’s kind of hard to describe the maths – my colleague A.A.J. Marley is the expert who’s done the proofs – but AV gives “multiple bites of the cherry” to low ranked candidates. The results are very clear if you look at the Aussie Senate – Aussies think it stinks – I think it was the candidate for the “motoring” party who won a seat despite getting 1% of the first preference votes. M-L voting at least ensures that least ranked candidates get the “same” influence on the winner as most ranked candidates.

        Again – and I apologise for degenerating into maths – most-least is the one system that minimises what is called the “loss function” (IIRC) – in other words it is the system that is least likely to produce a solution that incorrectly reflects the true ranking and strength of preference of the candidates.

        For multi member constituencies STV is indeed a good system.

        1. hunkerdown

          It would seem to me that score voting would be even better than M-L at reflecting the true ranking and strength of preference of candidates, and also prevents the cognitive dissonance effect of allegiance that single-vote systems engender (perhaps by design).

          1. Terry Flynn

            if you mean giving numerical scores I’m afraid they were discredited long ago.

            They must be at least interval scaled (so the difference between 2 and 3 is equal to that between 4 and 5) and preferably ratio scaled (so a score of 4 means you’d choose that candidate twice as often as one you gave a 2 to).

            Both conditions routinely fail in real life. Steenkampf and Bautmayer (sp?) proved in series of studies leading up to 2001 coup de grace.

            it’s been established across multiple disciplines now – don’t give people any sort of numerical task. They’re truly awful at it. Dan Mcfadden won 2000 ‘nobel’ by showing that how often a person chooses something (frequencies) is the best predictor of real behaviour – in his case he predicted the demand for the BART light rail in SF before a single rail was laid. All due to ‘discrete choice’ (A vs B) tasks.

            I used variant of this to make money on the uk general election – I knew the pollsters and bookies were wrong.

        2. Terry Flynn

          edit – twas I believe 10‰ not 1% (which of course would likely have got him eliminated!)

          but in any case during my 5 years in Sydney I did find it amusing how the AV played out and drove Aussies mad. They increasingly want to ditch it. The ‘hard core’ proponents of proportional representation claim it’s “not proper PR anyway” (unless it’s the STV variant in multi member constituencies) and the Liberal Democrats in UK backed it largely as a stepping stone towards “full PR”

        3. Anonymized

          I forgot to mention that the other part of STV and other proportional voting systems is that it would have larger districts that would be represented by multiple elected officials, so you might have one leftist, one far leftist, one right, and one centrist representative. The idea is that there would be less people casting a “wasted” vote. STV was actually used by some municipal and state/provincial governments until the early 20th Century.

          In Canada last year Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party rejected the findings of their expert committee on proportional representation because it didn’t recommend their preferred system of ranked ballots (AV). The Liberals are a centrist party and AV would have led to them being the second choice of many on the left and right, which means an everlasting majority for them. (The committee recommended a referendum on whether or not to move to a proportional system.) Right now, it looks like if we’re ever going to get Proportional Representation it will be the Mixed Member Proportional system, which is a bit different. I say that because MMP is what both the leftist NDP and I think the Green Party recommends here. If they defeat the Libs in 2019 we will probably end up with that.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Johnny.

      Firewall? What with John Lewis, Jim Clyburn, that Obama wannabe who was a regular at the playboy mansion et al to con fellow AAs into voting against their interests?

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I think the African Americans for Hillary narrative was overblown. The real story was more about Sanders being a stranger. At least in South Carolina, Hillary appeared to largely win at a reduced rate her old voters from 2008, not every black person voted for Obama. The narrative existed to depress turnout for Sanders.

        Problems such as the lack of organizing platforms such as unions and reliance on network and cable news were larger issues. Iowa is a caucus state which would favor the non nostalgia candidate relatively, and New Hampshire is going to have more Sanders coverage by virtue of geography. One problem was “who is Bernie Sanders?”. Obama organizers had just promised the moon over two elections, and now some old white guy from Vermont is doing the same thing….sounds suspicious. The msm didn’t help. Sanders was virtually non-existant until after he dropped out. The flip side is still the Democrats in the 00’s were trying to dig out from the record African American turnout from 1996. It was also pushed to ease worries about Hillary’s candidacy and the open way her campaign lusted after “white flight Republicans”…I mean “moderate suburban.”

  7. John D.

    So the Democrats’ general uselessness continues merrily on. If this nonsense keeps up, Trump is going to handily win a second term with almost no trouble at all. And then what?

    1. Big River Bandido

      I hate to say it, but I think that movie has already been written, filmed, and is now mostly in the can. All that’s left is the editing.

      At this point, I don’t see what the Democrats could do to revive their fortunes before 2018, and even after those hopes wash out, I don’t see them having a “come to Jesus moment” before the 2020 election. They’ve already done everything they can to suppress, smear, and neuter the left opposition, and they’ve been pretty successful at it. The power of the neoliberal establishment is just too entrenched, and as they are shameless in using corruption to further their ends, I suspect 2020 will be a repeat of 2016, albeit with a different neoliberal Democrat taking the nomination — and losing to Trump. For even though the neoliberals have iron-fisted, corrupt control of the Democrat Party machinery, they are hopeless before the electorate. That old dog just don’t hunt.

      1. Biph

        2016 was a too close run thing to make me think Trump would beat even a neo-liberal Democrat.
        A few factors are probably enough to flip things to the Dems in 2020. Some people who didn’t like Trump but hated HRC will probably not have the same feelings towards a Kristen Gillibrand for example so may either not show up or vote 3rd party rather than Trump. Some people who felt that a giant meteor was preferable to Trump or HRC won’t feel the same way about Trump vs Gillibrand vs giant meteor.
        Take into account that Trump looks to be largely governing as a boorish Marco Rubio, so no concrete material benefits will be coming to the working class under his admin which will depress his turnout in 2020.
        It’s hard to see whoever the Dems nominated having negatives as high as HRC and a shift of just 100,000 votes in 3 States flips the EC.
        The one way I can see Trump getting a 2nd term is if he LePage’s it, i.e. the Dems nominate Sanders or someone running on the Sanders platform and that causes a Bloomberg or some other billionaire to run as an independent and syphon off enough votes to allow Trump to win with 38-42% of the popular vote.

        1. Big River Bandido

          I think this comment overlooks how badly the Democrats did in their own backyard. Clinton lost in WI and MI, two states that hadn’t gone Republican since the 1980s. She almost lost Minnesota, which hasn’t gone for a Republican in almost 50 years. On top of that, Trump will have all the advantages of incumbency in 2020, and it’s not the 100,000 votes that’s the hard part — it’s the “3 states” part, and in truth it’s really more like 5 states.

          Neoliberalism is long past its “sell-by” date, and the voters in the critical states are onto the con. No Democrat has any hope of taking the White House unless without generating a surge of voters in those states — something along the lines of 2008, the last time a non-incumbent Democrat took the White House.

          There’s not a single candidate on the (slim) Democrat bench who can make that sale, no matter how good they look on television. Given the disillusion with Obama in the economically-decimated Midwest, I have my doubts that even he would have been able to do it. And he was an exceptionally charismatic candidate in 2008. None of the 20 or so candidates talked about in the media (neoliberals all) has anything even close to his political gifts, and they have plenty of liabilities — not the least of which is geography.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            I know it’s highly unlikely that the Democrats will allow Sanders to carry their flag in 2020 but I’m curious, Big River…

            Do you think he’d win against Trump in 2020?

            I think he very well could. But only if the Clintonistas didn’t shiv him during the general election as “payback”…( and there’s the rub, eh?)

            1. Big River Bandido

              I think Sanders would have mopped the floor if he had been the nominee in 2016. In 2020…quite possibly. I have never thought age per se to be a great hindrance to a candidate who articulates the values of the electorate.

              But his age wouldn’t be the biggest obstacle. The biggest obstacle, as you point out, is the Democrats themselves, who would rather be re-elected than right.

              1. Pookah Harvey

                The establishment democrats don’t even care if they are elected or not, just so long as they have big donor dollars flowing in. If you lose the election a high 6 or 7 figure salary is waiting for you if you cuddled up to the right people. As Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks states…establishment democrats are paid to lose. And they have been doing a good job of it.

        2. Code Name D

          The problem with this type of thinking is that its literly wishf thinking build on bline asumptions. Some one who isn’t Hillary may not have the same negatives. But if they contiue to toubt the same neo-liberal platform and use the same discreditted democrafics mobliation as before – why shouldn’t we expect the same results.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            The Co-Presidency was a “baller” announcement that along with the GOP meltdown in the 90’s towards the Clintons deeply affected Democrats over a certain age. Hillary’s celebrity and nostalgia mattered to many who may not overlook Clintonesque problems in other candidates.

            Evan Bayh, Charlie Christ, and a host of other neo-liberals in recent years have not had the negatives of Hillary but have lost all the same despite being “great” recruits on paper and running against Republicans…Trump isn’t a surprise. Mark Warner, once elected with 68% of the vote, beat Ed Gillespie, Bush bag man, by 20,000 votes in 2014. Without the specter of the Senate flipping, does Warner win? I’m not sure he does.

    2. clarky90

      “And then what?”, President Ivanka Trump. The first woman president and the first Jewish president.

      1. Rambo

        she’s a convert, its not viewed the same from what i’ve heard. of course, if she keeps humping the isreal beat, i’m pretty sure they’ll overlook the technicality.

  8. Vatch

    I don’t think that Trump is a moron. I strongly suspect his has a severe case of narcissistic personality disorder, and this condition prompts him to say strange things that sometimes seem moronic. He seems to have a constant need for approval, and criticism, whether it’s fair or malicious, can cause an emotional meltdown.

    1. Terry Flynn


      There are two (on the UK based anyway) personality questionnaire narcissistic dimensions – internal (believing you know best) and external (being willing to crap on colleagues/anyone to achieve betterment). Teachers and current (or in my case former) academics often score more highly than the general public on the former. i (somewhat surprisingly) was evaluated to be only marginally above the general population range (nice to know I’m not “too* arrogant!) I had a low score on the latter (probably why I failed in the field – I never crapped on anyone, unlike what happened to me). But top people in academia, business etc often score highly on both dimensions which is the diagnosis of NPD.

      IMO Trump would indeed score highly on both.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I don’t think he’s a moron either. I see him as quite a clever businessman, actually, in the same way I see Madonna — whom I also don’t like (or respect as a musician), but whose business acumen I respect.

      I see Trump’s business model as a “politician” to be analogous to Madonna’s as a “musician” or “recording artist”. He’s not selling ideas, and she has never been about selling music. Both of them are really all about selling an image of themselves. And in that context, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, as long as people are talking about them. In that sense, it’s narcissistic…but the spur and the goal isn’t fame, it’s power and money.

      1. Vatch

        And in that context, there’s no such thing as bad publicity, as long as people are talking about them.

        Maybe, but in Trump’s case, I don’t think that’s true. His meltdown in response to what the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, said, implies that he can’t tolerate bad publicity or criticism of any type. His narcissism goes beyond the status of a mere personality trait; in his case it seems genuinely pathological.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Incidentally when NPD is a extreme as “thinking they’re out to get you” and lashing out to eliminate “perpetrators” it is psychopathy.

          1. Terry Flynn

            I should clarify (for the purposes of security services reading this!) that I’m not saying Trump is a psychopath…. merely that certain behaviours are suggestive of NPD and severe cases are investigated by clinicians for possible psychopathy.

            I think Trump “plays up” the “irrationality/unpredictable” line (in a more extreme version to what Reagan did) as a calculated strategy to put the other side on the back foot. It can be a surprisingly effective strategy.

            1. Vatch

              Some psychopaths (sociopaths) are outwardly very pleasant, agreeable, and charismatic, in contrast to Trump (he does have charisma). I suspect that some of the people who work for Trump have psychopathic/sociopathic traits. Someone like Trump could be manipulated by a clever psychopathic yes man (or woman). The Trump White House must be very fertile ground for sociopathic/psychopathic back stabbing.

              I’m not saying that all psychopaths appear pleasant. Some are obvious jerks or sadists.

        2. RUKidding

          I agree. Trump is definitely NOT in the camp of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

          He is a revenge-seeking and nastily vindictive if he perceives that someone has dissed him. I didn’t even feel what the Mayor of San Juan said was all that bad. It was truthful, and she represents a lot of people who are in a hell of a terrible situation.

          Trump’s reaction was out of control and in no way indicates that he doesn’t mind bad publicity. Sheesh. If he perceives that someone’s crossed him – no matter how small fry – he’s on a rampage.

          He forced Rexxon Tillerson to grovel before him, as well.

          NPD and possibly psychopath. Probably not senile. But very poor impulse and anger management control (in fact: none).

      2. Terry Flynn

        yeah following on from my point above I agree that some of these public figures might appear quite different (moronic sounding statements vs adopting kids under odd circumstances etc) but share personality traits.

  9. JIm

    “Here are the Hoaxes Being Spread of the Las Vegas Shooter.”

    So who is Steven Paddock, really?

    The New York Times on Oct. 3 stated:

    “Mr Paddock recently wired thousands of dollars to the Philippines, but it was not clear who the recipient was.”

    His work history was not completely clear: his brother had described him as a wealthy retiree. Mr. Paddock worked for the federal government for roughly 10 years from 1975 to 1985, a spokeswomen for the Office of Personnel Management confirmed.

    Investigators unearthed multiple job applications, with Mr. Paddock’s fingerprints on file, as part of records reflecting his employment as a letter carrier for the Postal Service in the mid 1970s; as an Internal Revenue Service Agent from 1978 to 19784; as an auditor focused on defense contracts; a job he held until 1985. He also worked in the 1980s, for one of the companies that later combined to form Lockheed Martin, the aerospace contractor”

    The head to the Sheriff’s department in Vegas believes Mr.Paddock had a secret life.

    So, what categories of people tend to have secret lives–I can think of two off the top of my head–criminals and intelligence assets.

    Alfred W. McCoy in his brilliant book “Policing America’s Empire” states:

    “The study of police and scandal takes us beneath the visible surface of politics into a murky realm between the formal and informal, licit and illicit, that we call for want of better words the “covert netherworld” By looking beyond formalities of elections and legislation we can better understand the riddle that is the Philippine state, weak yet strong, centralized yet localized. To grasp its colonial origins and postcolonial character we need to probe this neither world of secret services and criminal syndicates to see how their commingling has created a supple nexus of control.

    At its core this covert netherworld is an invisible interstice, within both individual nations and the international system inhabited by criminal and clandestine actors with both the means and the need to operate outside conventional channels Among all the institutions of modern society only intelligence agencies and crime syndicates can carry out complex financial or political operations that leave no visible trace…In sum both criminal and covert actors are practitioners of what another CIA officer Lucien Conein called “the clandestine arts, that is the shared skill of operating outside the normal channels of civil society.”

    Who, indeed, is Steven Paddock? For the moment, the lone wolf narrative seems vulnerable.

      1. Nordberg

        Funny, I did a double take when I read that, but did not “know” the mistake until you pointed it out. Auto correct of the brain

  10. Jim Haygood

    Today stocks soldiered on into the mystic, anointing faithful punters with showers of crimson rubies.

    Joining the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite at new records were the Nasdaq 100 (home of the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse, which make up 42% of its value) and the Russell 2000 small-cap index.

    A most untimely Eclownomist cover [“Bull market in everything”] suggests that the lads at central bank trading desks and their journo sock puppets may be getting a bit overwrought here. The captain has turned on the Fasten seat belts sign. ;-)

    I tell you folks
    It’s harder than it looks
    It’s a long way to the top
    If you wanna rock ‘n’ roll

    — AC/DC

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Excelsior (ever upward) is the official motto of the state of New York.

      So, why not?

      “Up and up it goes, where it stops, nobody knows.”

      And for short sellers, the losses look a lot like fiat-money supply – infinite. Coincidentally, in both cases, infinity can be prevented politically.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Embroidered frock…

          The emperors wore kesi dragon robes.

          From Wikipedia (K’o-ssu, or Kesi);

          K’o-ssu or kesi (Chinese: 緙絲; pinyin: kèsī) is a technique in Chinese silk tapestry, admired for its lightness and clarity of pattern.
          “K’o-ssu” means “cut silk”, a name that comes from the appearance of cut threads created by the use of colour in the pictorial designs typical of the style (often copies of famous paintings). Unlike continuous weft brocade, in k’o-ssu each colour area was woven from a separate bobbin, making the style both technically demanding and time-consuming.
          K’o-ssu first appeared during the Tang Dynasty (618–907), and became popular in the Southern Song Dynasty (1127–1279), reaching its height during the Ming dynasty (1368–1644). The style continued to be popular until the early 20th century, and the end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911–12.

          One can easily be awed looking at one (no embroidery necessary).

  11. Synoia

    Why We’ll Have Evidence of Aliens—If They Exist—By 2035

    Which makes an assumption, that Intelligence as we know it is not an Evolutionary Dead End.

    If one accepts that every part of the biosphere in both damaged and dying, then for how much time will our “intelligence” help us?

    Note: The Dinosaurs, not noted for their large brains, survived for some 250 Million years, and single celled organisms have been around for much longer. Neither of which demonstrate intelligence as we define it.

    If we do discover intelligent life somewhere, the signals will be below 100 MHz. If you want a reason ask, but it has to do with simple, powerful and wasted power in the transmission of signals.

    Although on consideration I wonder how much is being radiated at 2.4 GHz – wifi, and if it is indistinguishable from noise a few light years out. I suspect said alien intelligence might notice a burst of noise at 2.4 GHz, and ask themselves “why has that star done that’?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps dinosaurs survived for over 250 million years because the smart guys (that’s us, so I have been told) weren’t around.

      So, the competition was not too tough.

      When one is surrounded by a roomful of geniuses, say 4.0 graduates from Harvard, in a small room, well, it’s easy to sense, even intuitively, that survival is going to be a lot harder going forward.

  12. TarheelDem

    At one point in marketing history, the generation that preceded the Boomers and contains most of the Democratic leadership was called the “Silent Generation”.

    Anyone familiar with who made the “cultural changes” of the 1960s will immediately recognize the fallacy of typing arbitrary cohorts as “generations.”

  13. John k

    Ca looks ominous, big and diversified… and it’s mine…
    Mosler posted a graph showing number of states growing now down to a level that predicts recession except when we just had one.
    Lot of debt out there, not least margin and corporate…
    This is your broker calling…
    Nobody’s short now, no safety breaker…

    Stopped clocks like hussman are eventually right.

  14. ewmayer

    Lambert, I believe you left off the crucial “The Bezzle” tag on the Steemit link. I was unabled to view the Wired.com article due to the dreaded “Cannot communicate securely with peer: no common encryption algorithm(s).” error (likely a result of my deliberate use of an old version of Firefox, which happens to be the last one before the geniuses at Mozilla removed the image-load-control checkbox from the Preferences menu), but did that article happen to mention just how much many of those Tulippy Steemies have actually been converted into something spendable to date?

    1. allan

      Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance has also acted as a hatchet-man for Goldman, at the taxpayers’ expense.
      He went after Sergey Aleynikov on state charges of stealing Goldman’s high frequency trading code
      following Aleynikov getting his conviction on Federal charges overturned.

  15. Synoia

    Expect Russian operatives to remain active and determined to again try to sow chaos in elections next month and next yea

    How can we discern what is electioneering by the candidates, and their paid and paying supporters vs the Russians, Saudis, Israelis, and even “gasp” the Canadians?

    How about mandating all parties and advertising media be required to publish audited accounts? I’m positive such a scrutiny would be welcome by all in these muddled times.

    1. Vatch

      Such scrutiny would horrify billionaires, such as the Koch brothers, who donate to political campaigns. I realize you were almost certainly being sarcastic or ironic.

  16. Edward E


    What a spike in rates, biggest in a couple of decades in my opinion. Storms of freight to move and a sizeable dropping of capacity to move it. So now it’s money making time for the cash strapped trucking companies with poor balance sheets. They’ll even put Grandma in a truck and run her hard at this point.

  17. Oregoncharles

    ” In the other states, unregistered whites outnumber unregistered minorities: Alaska, Illinois, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia.””

    I can’t speak for the other states, but in western Oregon, where the people are, even the whites vote blue. Four out of five Representatives are Democrats, as are both Senators and the Governor. We also have a high proportion of independents, which will increase with motor voter, since registering with a party requires extra effort.

    (Confusingly, Oregon also has an Independent Party, which now has enough registrations to qualify as a “major” party. So voters who don’t specify a party are Unaffiliated.)

  18. Roland

    Re: the demise of Canada’s Progressive Conservative Party.

    Mulroney won a big majority in 1984 because:

    (1) people were tired after about 16 years of the Liberals and were in the mood to change the government no matter what,

    (2) Mulroney courted the “soft nationalists” in Quebec (promising “distinct society” and negotiations to get Quebec to formally agree to the 1982 constitution), while simultaneously

    (3) courting the regionalists in Alberta (with a promise to kill Trudeau’s National Energy Program).

    Mulroney’s party got wiped out in 1993 because:

    (1) his promises to the nationalists in Quebec led to the Meech Lake Accord fiasco, which angered both the Quebec nationalists and the Western regionalists. These groups, respectively, broke from the Progressive Conservatives to form the Bloc Quebecois and the Reform Party.

    (2) his government had introduced a new and highly visible tax, the GST.

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