2:00PM Water Cooler 10/6/2017

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

“The Trump administration decided to avoid antagonizing China ahead of the president’s trip to Beijing next month. The Commerce Department late Thursday said it would defer announcing preliminary anti-dumping duties on imports of Chinese aluminum foil until Nov. 30” [Politico]. “China has argued the United States and other WTO members no longer have the right to use a non-market methodology to calculate anti-dumping duties on its goods as of December, the 15th anniversary of its entry into the WTO. However, the United States has resisted changing China’s status, which could lead to lower duty rates on Chinese goods, arguing that China is not truly an economy driven by free market forces. If the United States decides in the context of the aluminum case to continue treating China as a non-market economy, Beijing is likely to challenge that decision at the WTO.” Crazypants. China is as much a market economy as we are!

“The Trump administration has a new trade tool in its kit aimed at reviving U.S. manufacturing. The U.S. International Trade Commission approved a petition from Whirlpool that it is suffering ‘serious injury’ from competition from foreign washing machine makers…, opening the door to potential sanctions against South Korean rivals Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. in the near term and potentially to more aggressive tactics in broader trade battles” [Wall Street Journal].

“TiSA impact assessment report ignores crucial human rights concerns” [European Digital Rights]. “In 2013, the European Commission decided to subject the draft Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) to a Trade Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) in support of the negotiations. The Final Report, which was published in July 2017, fails to address several key fundamental rights concerns,” among them freedom of expression and opinion, data protection and privacy, and “contradictions with regard to data flows.”

Politics

Puerto Rico

“Much of Puerto Rico has no running water – and the problem is not just cleanliness” [McClatchy]. “As the island thirsts for more water, medical experts say it is one of the factors that make them deeply concerned over a possible spike in infectious diseases in coming weeks. Nine out of 10 homes on the island still have no electricity, meaning fans and air conditioning units aren’t available to stave off pesky mosquitos carrying illness in the storm’s aftermath.”

“Air services to Puerto Rico, as well as small-package and some freight services, have been restored to all but 27 of Puerto Rico’s ZIP codes, UPS said. The company is also operating in the domestic Puerto Rico market” [DC Velocity]. That speaks well for the condition of Puerto Rico’s roads, and the availability of drivers and fuel. More: “Recovery efforts have been additionally hamstrung by a myriad of problems that prevented ocean containers stuffed with relief supplies from moving off the docks in San Juan, the capital. Kathy Fulton, executive director of the American Logistics Aid Network (ALAN), which connects logistics resources with relief agencies, said today that boxes are in the process of leaving the port and are headed to their destinations.” Note lack of agency in “boxes are in the process of leaving.” What the heck was the story there?

New Cold War

“Mueller Tasks an Adviser With Getting Ahead of Pre-Emptive Pardons” [Bloomberg].

Trump Transition

“I asked 5 House Republicans what Congress could do about the Las Vegas shooting” [Vox].

“The Justice Department Is Investigating Harvard’s Admissions Practices” [Buzzfeed].

2016 Post Mortem

“Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream” [Buzzfeed]. Must-read. I can’t recall ever having linked to Brietbart, not once, and my goodness, was I right. Fascinating to see the squillionaire Mercers protected from the bottom feeders by layers of cutouts, and also fascinating to see Bannon’s management style.

2020

“Democrats’ Leftward Shift and Its Impact on 2020” [Cook Political Report]. “On the issue of economic inequality there is literally almost 100 percent agreement among Democrats (OK, it’s 93 percent) that this issue is a ‘very big or moderately big’ problem. Among Republicans it is a large, but not as universal, 69 percent.” So, it would make sense to make that issue the heart of Democrat appeal, no? And maybe pick up some Republican votes that aren’t in wealthy suburbs, Clinton and then Clinton 2.0, Ossoff, having proven that’s not possible?

“Top Trump donors jump into next nasty GOP primary fight” [McClatchy].
Following the success of his preferred candidate in Alabama, Bannon and his hardline allies are ramping up their engagement in other primary races nationally, seeking to boost other insurgent candidates who embrace his more populist, nationalist views and subscribe to Trump’s ‘America First’ philosophy [sic]. The New York Times reported that the Mercers plan to be heavily involved in Bannon’s challenges to the establishment.” Except in West Virginia, the Mercers and Bannon are at odds.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Supreme Court’s Gerrymandering Case and Strategies for Winning Justice Kennedy’s Vote” [Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker]. “The secret to advocacy before the contemporary Supreme Court is no secret: it’s all about pandering to Justice Anthony Kennedy…. That means, for the most part, talking about the First Amendment. In his thirty years on the bench, Kennedy has displayed an almost Pavlovian receptivity to claims of infringement on the freedom of speech…. ‘It’s just a two-sentence description of our claim,” [Paul Smith, who represented the Democratic challengers to Wisconsin’s gerrymandered legislative map this week, in Gill v. Whitford], told the Justices (one of them in particular). ‘First Amendment concerns arise where a state enacts a law that has the purpose and effect of subjecting a group of voters or their party to disfavored treatment by reason of their views. In the context of partisan gerrymandering, that means that First Amendment concerns arise where an apportionment has the purpose and effect of burdening a group of voters’ representational rights.'”

“The Supreme Court discussed my research on gerrymandering. There were some misconceptions” [WaPo]. “I invented a measure of partisan advantage in redistricting — the ‘efficiency gap’ — that the plaintiffs in the case have relied on. I also filed a lengthy brief in the case that sought to inform the court about the available metrics and the relationships between them.” Shorter: Alito is a tool and a Philistine who doesn’t understand statistics or scholarship. Film at 11.

“How Canada ended gerrymandering” [Vox].

“Top House Democrat: ‘I think it’s time’ for Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and James Clyburn to go” [WaPo]. “The comments by Rep. Linda T. Sánchez (Calif.), who as vice chairman of the House Democratic Caucus ranks fifth in the 194-member body, are the most explicit by a senior congressional Democrat and a member of the California congressional delegation about Pelosi’s political future… “They are all of the same generation, and, again, their contributions to the Congress and the caucus are substantial. But I think there comes a time when you need to pass that torch. And I think it’s time,” she said.” Whatever that means.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, September 2017: “The Department of Labor can’t quantify September’s hurricane effects on payrolls or the unemployment rate but they appear to be very dramatic nonetheless. Nonfarm payrolls were negative in September and, at minus 33,000, were well below Econoday’s low estimate” [Econoday]. “But the big surprise in today’s report are sudden indications of excessive labor market tightness as the unemployment rate fell 2 tenths to 4.2 percent and average hourly earnings spiked 0.5 percent with the year-on-year rate jumping 4 tenths to 2.9 percent. This report on the surface — and needing confirmation from the October employment report to follow next month — appears to change the dynamics for the labor market and suggests that the Federal Reserve, the decline in September payrolls aside, has fallen behind the inflation curve.” This is rich:

The 4.2 percent unemployment rate, derived from a separate set of data that also include the self-employed who are not on payrolls, is not only lowest of the expansion but of the prior expansion as well, going all the way back to January 2001. Here employment, likely reflecting a jump in those now actively looking for work, rose 906,000 at the same time that the number of unemployed fell 331,000. The pool of available workers which includes those who can work but aren’t pounding the pavement fell a very sizable 547,000 to 12.429 million. This reading is a sleeper in this report and points squarely at the risk of a wage flash point. The labor participation rate, reflecting the move toward employment, rose 0.2 percent to 63.1 percent to exceed Econoday’s high estimate by 2 tenths. The hurricanes are one factor that may or may not have skewed payrolls sharply lower, and probably did, but it’s the wage pressures that will make everyone on the FOMC, even the most dovish, suddenly concerned that wage-push inflation has arisen from the dead.

After thirty years of flat wages engineered under neoliberalism and a brutal recession, a few pennies more in the paycheck morphs into “a wage flashpoint” — what the heck is that? — and there’s panic in the boardroooms. A punchbowl the size of a thimble, so far as I’m concerned. That said, a dash of cold water: “The household and establishment surveys were extremely out of sync from each other. There was no good news in the establishment survey (the household survey was excellent)” [Econintersect]. And but: “One key issue that stood out was that employment in food services and drinking places declined by 105,000 in September” [247 Wall Street].

Wholesale Trade, August 2017: “If overheating is suddenly an issue for the economy, as it may be given the spike in average hourly earnings in this morning’s employment report, then wholesale trade data offer confirmation” [Econoday]. “Inventories in the sector surged 0.9 percent in August following July and June’s already outsized surges of 0.6 percent each. Sales in the sector are even stronger, up 1.7 percent in August which, despite the jump inventories, pulls the stock-to-sales ratio down one notch to 1.28. Strength in autos is a major factor boosting the data though ex-auto data also show unusual strength, up 0.8 percent for inventories and 1.5 percent for sales.” You say “spike in average hourly earnings” like it’s a bad thing (and if you don’t want Trump to been seen to deliver to his working class voters on the margin (as opposed to his suburban base) or steal working class Democrat voters, this is a bad thing. Unless you want to outbid him on policy, which the Democrat establishment most definitely does not want to do). But: “The improvement this month in the headline data was primarily due to automotive and petroleum. Overally, I believe the rolling averages tell the real story – and they declined this month. The current trends appear flat (little acceleration or deceleration). Inventory levels remain elevated but below recessionary levels. To add to the confusion, year-over-year employment changes and sales growth do not match” [Econintersect]. Another dash of cold water…

Motor Vehicle Sales: “Nice spike after the hurricane lull” [Mosler Economics]. “In the strongest monthly sales performance in 12 years, unit vehicle sales shot up to a hurricane-fueled 18.6 million annualized rate in September vs a hurricane-depressed 16.1 million rate in August. September’s rate points squarely at replacement demand following Hurricane Harvey’s flooding of Houston just as the weak August rate pointed to the initial negative effects of the hurricane.”

Commodities: “The U.S. may have reached peak shale. American shale drillers who upended traditional oil markets by increasing production in the face of lower prices are finally showing signs of slowing down. …[T]he U.S. oil-rig count grew 6% in the third quarter, a marked deceleration from average growth of more than 20% in the previous four quarters” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Will Amazon dominate last-mile delivery? Consensus, right now, is probably not” [DC Velocity]. “Is Amazon.com Inc.’s rumored move to start ‘last mile’ deliveries for non-fulfillment customers in the U.S. another step in its plans for logistics domination, or is it an effort to keep up with ever-increasing demand by supplementing its current delivery network with its own capacity?

The Bezzle: “The $65,000 Pyramid: Electric Autojournos Pump Tesla Stock, Receive Massive Gifts” [The Truth About Cars (MK)]. “Our readers have often expressed a bit of ennui with TTAC’s occasional insistence on showing you how the autojourno sausage is made. But this should make you sit up and pay attention. What’s the right thing for Electrek to do? I suggest that they sell their “gifts” from Tesla and donate the money to charity. That would be a good start. And it would provide a strong counterpoint to the people who will say that electric auto journalism is nothing but advertorial content under another name.” And then there is this post, which seems to be in response to the TTAC post, and appears to be an hommage to moi, Lambert, by a long-time NC reader since (a) it’s an “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” parody and (b) actually uses the word “squillionaire”! This doesn’t happen often, so permit me a happy dance!

The Bezzle: “Nothing Could Possibly Go Wrong If Elon Musk Is Chosen To Rebuild Puerto Rico’s Power Grid” [DealBreaker]. “Elon will get this done because he never overpromises and always delivers. In fact, we see Puerto Rico’s new power grid being so dope that it becomes the envy of the world and makes things better than they were before the storm, and we see the bond issue soaring like one of those SpaceX rockets…”

“The Lawyer Who Beat Big Tobacco Takes On the Opioid Industry” [Bloomberg]. So, on Case-Deaton’s deaths of despair, the political class — in particular, its neoliberal theorists — has a Get Out Of Jail Free card.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 91 Extreme Greed (previous close: 95, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 85 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Oct 6 at 12:20pm. Musical interlude: Hot, hot, hot!

Gaia

“Stephenson and his colleagues have spent decades studying thousands of dead trees—digging up roots to check for fungus, scraping away bark to search for beetle tunnels, looking for patterns among the dead. Since 1982 field crews have spent summers visiting plots scattered around Sequoia National Park. Each year they record the condition of all the trees in those plots; every five years they measure the diameter of the trunks. If a tree dies, they give it an autopsy. All told, they have tracked the lives of more than 30,000 individual trees” [Scientific American].

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The [second] amendment itself is not the problem. Yes, it’s vague, poorly worded, lacking nuance. But the intent is clear with the opening clause: “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” [New York Times]. “The purpose is security — against foreign invaders and domestic insurrectionists.” And, of course, slave revolts.

Guillotine Watch

“Why fake islands might be a real boon for science” [Nature]. On seasteading. The conclusion is precious: “Time will tell whether the Seasteaders’ island becomes a refuge for Polynesians facing rising seas and an incubator for Polynesian science and business, or merely a playground for wealthy foreigners who want to dodge bothersome regulations. That is, if it materializes at all.” Let me know how that works out.

Class Warfare

“Primitive comnmunism and the origin of social inequality” (PDF) [Richard B. Lee]. I don’t know if anybody takes “the Asiatic mode of production” seriously any more, but if you like this sort of thing, you’ll like this.

“Cleaning up ‘Methadone Mile’ and other drug havens” [Associated Press].

“How Unions Are Already Gearing Up for a Supreme Court Loss” [Governing]. “The lead plaintiff, Mark Janus, is a child support worker in Illinois who argues his free speech rights are being violated by the requirement that he pay the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the largest public employee union in the country, even though he chose not to join it and does not support its political views and positions.” But suppose unions got out of electoral politics entirely, and focused exclusively on workplace organizing. Would the First Amendment issues even arise?

News of the Wired

“How Ludwig II’s love for Richard Wagner inspired the world’s greatest work of fan art.” [Lapham’s Quarterly].

“How to use Tweetdeck and advanced search to make Twitter useful again” [Poynter]. “Depending on whom you ask, Twitter is either a cavernous vault of useful information or a wretched hive of scum and villainy. The truth is, it’s both. But those who assume the latter could find Twitter to be a more useful tool by employing filters to surface the good stuff.”

“Algorithms have already gone rogue” [WIRED]. An interview with Tim O’Reilly, whose book WTF is just out:

In WTF you talk about a specific out-of-control algorithm: the capitalist impulse to maximize profits regardless of societal consequences. The way you describe is reminds me of Nick Bostrom’s scenario of an AI machine devoted to making paper clips—because that’s its sole mission, it winds up eating up all the materials in the world and even killing those who would turn it off. Corporations whose sole justification is shareholder value seem to be working on a similarly destructive algorithm.

Yes, financial markets are the first rogue AI.

* * *

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 (Rex):

Readers, some of you have helpfully contacted me to send in pictures of plants, but I’m still running a little short. Thank you!

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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.

91 comments

  1. Wukchumni

    The issue with trying to get Trump to stop antagonizing China, is 20 minutes later he’s hungry to do it again.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      If (and I understand for many people, it’s a ginormously big if) people view Trump’s zig-zags as a negotiation tactic, it’s not extraordinary.

      There is a Russian theory of warfare (maskirovka), presumably derived from Sun Tzu, with the gist of: keep your enemy always off-guard by constantly doing contradictory things.

      Whether Trump does this intentionally, intuitively, or randomly, presidential historians will argue about for decades.

      Reply
      1. River

        Up rise in the West, Strike in the East comes to mind as well. Having a media that loves and loathes him helps greatly. They make a big deal out of a nonsense tweet while the important things just pass through unseen.

        Reply
        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          But if feels so good to be so angry, mad (not insane mad, but angry mad), hating of the guy.

          “I knew it.”

          “I told you so.”

          Reply
      2. Roland

        “Maskirovka” is simply the Russian term used to refer to the combination of all measures of camouflage, deception, and operational secrecy.

        Reply
      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > keep your enemy always off-guard by constantly doing contradictory things.

        In contrast to the (PNAC-driven) George W. Bush, who announced who we were going to be going to war with (the Axis of Evil) and then went into Iraq, with consequences to an another axis-of-evil member North Korea that we are still seeing today. Obama, to his credit, managed to negotiate a deal with evil Iran, and to his discredit, never repaired the damage Bush did in North Korea by discarding the agreed framework).

        Reply
      4. Darthbobber

        Militarily, maybe. But generally Russia is quite consistent in both its conception of its interests and its methods for achieving them.

        Reply
    2. WobblyTelomeres

      20 minutes later he’s hungry to do it again.

      I remember reading a story about Thomas Wolfe who tried to pick up a young woman at a party, completely forgetting that he had already picked her up two hours earlier.

      So. Perhaps this is a first? Comparing Trump with Thomas Wolfe?

      Reply
    1. pricklyone

      Also/And:
      How do they claim status as an American manufacturer? What product does Whirlpool make in the US?
      ROFL. “Hecho en Mexico”

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        Our fridge done died a few years ago, so off the Lowes we went, and I like to look at where things are made, and of about 40 refrigerators on display, 37 were manufactured in Mexico.

        Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      So why the heck did the containers stay stuck on the docks?* It seems to me this is a big question, but I’ve never seen an answer to it, and I do try to keep track — but see comment below.

      Were the drivers trapped/taking care of their families up-country? (below, yes).

      * Meanwhile, liberal Democrats, in full any-stick-to-beat-a-dog mode, were yammering about the Jones Act. The Jones Act isn’t a good thing, but since containers were piling up on the docks, it wasn’t the problem, or, to put this another way, the impetus to yammer came from inside the Beltway, and had nothing to do with the material facts on the ground. Adding: And conservatives, yammering about unions, were doing exactly the same thing, from the other side of the aisle. Well played, all.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        Trees. The roads are covered with downed trees, and powerlines, etc. The ones that weren’t covered with water. I’ve cleared fallen trees. It’s no small task -WITH working chain saws, enough fuel, spare chains, etc.

        The elapsed time is about right for clearing trees and other debris.

        Reply
  2. Wukchumni

    In a corner of Sequoia National Park in California, Sierra redwoods stick out like colossal cinnamon sticks among the more common pines, firs and incense cedars. Nate Stephenson, a U.S. Geological Survey ecologist, makes his way up a hill, stepping over fallen logs. He stops in front of a small, dead red fir, which a hanging metal tag identifies as “189.” Stephenson points out a section of its trunk where the USGS field crew cut away the bark, revealing the squiggly signature of the fir engraver beetles crawled across the brown sapwood. Number 189 is just one of the more than 100 million trees researchers estimate died during California’s five-year drought, which ended this spring.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    One of the upright members of the forest for the trees that suffered more than the others in the 5 year drought is the Sugar Pine. It comes equipped with the largest pine cone of them all, an average specimen is 12-18 inches long…

    What those pine cones also had was the most nutritious tree nut of all in the Sierra, and when the trees started dying, the black bear population started dwindling in Sequoia NP. I’m still waiting to see my first one this year.

    “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”~~~ John Muir

    Reply
  3. clarky90

    One hundred years ago, in October 1917, the “Red” Revolution was about to explode. What might a “Purple” Revolution in the USA, today, look like?

    Black Lives Matter Students Shut Down the ACLU’s Campus Free Speech Event Because ‘Liberalism Is White Supremacy’

    “The revolution will not uphold the Constitution.”

    Many of Lenin’s Activists were ardent teenagers. “Chairman Mao’s Red Guards” were school children.

    Black Lives Matter W&M

    “Tonight, we shut down an event at William & Mary where Claire Gastañaga, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia, was speaking. In contrast to the ACLU, we want to reaffirm our position of zero tolerance for white supremacy no matter what form it decides to masquerade in.”

    https://www.facebook.com/builtonourbacks/videos/1734551936840965/

    Imagine these same very young demonstrators, but with official agency; Uniforms, weapons, back-up from the police and army. With permission to use maximum force (kill). This is what the Bolsheviks did to the Mensheviks, Anarchists, Socialists as well as the conservatives, the religious, academia, the free press, any indigenous peoples/cultures…….. Any opposition, real or imagined.

    The Bolshevik Revolution extinguished millions of human lives. Thousands of ancient, indigenous cultures were destroyed; by legislation, by murder, by the deportation of entire “not-correct” peoples to distant, frozen regions, where most died of cold, starvation and disease.

    It is not surprising that the demonstrators are viciously attacking the ACLU. A foretaste of a dystopic future?

    Hitler and the German Nazis would not emerge into power for another 15 years.

    Reply
      1. DJG

        chris: Thanks. Clarifying.

        What’s more likely, clarky, is that we’ll be taken over by revolutionary black people who are worried that you didn’t have enough for dinner.

        Reply
        1. todde

          You better hope so. You might not be realizing what you are in for.

          I hear lots of hard talk now-a-days. And that hard talk leads to hard actions.

          Reply
      2. clarky90

        As you watch the video, you will see very few black demonstrators. The “privileged” William and Mary College students demonstrating are chillingly close to the “Centers of Power”. If they were working class, they would be toiling at Starbucks/KFC/Walmart.

        “William & Mary educated American Presidents Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, and John Tyler as well as other key figures important to the development of the nation, including the fourth U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall of Virginia, Speaker of the House of Representatives Henry Clay of Kentucky, sixteen members of the Continental Congress, and four signers of the Declaration of Independence, earning it the nickname “the Alma Mater of the Nation.” A young George Washington (1732-1799) also received his surveyor’s license through the College”.

        These demonstrators are not the sons and daughters of coal-miners. But rather, the sons and daughters of the Ruling Classes.

        The video goes on for over 1 hour. It is worth watching in its entirety, just for how relentlessly soulless, a World without Free Speech will be. I visited the Soviet Union in 1966 with the American Friends Service Committee. (A peace mission) I was dumbfounded by the uniformly boring, and passionless cultural landscape. People were frightened to approach us. We were constantly followed. Our leaders were given a map of the USSR, but only the one road we were to follow was on it…. I remember cheering when we crossed into Romania. Such a relief to be out of the USSR.

        1966 was already 13 years after the death of Stalin. The NKVD/CHEKA and multiple Red Terrors during the Lenin/Stalin years are a horror story yet to be told. Redacted history

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          It’s hard for those that were on the outside looking in here during the Cold War, to understand the awfulness of communism…

          They were so paranoid, that no street maps of Moscow or other cities existed. Fear was their calling card.

          Reply
          1. clarky90

            USSR Communism has been romanticized.

            The gas van or gas wagon (Russian: душегубка (dushegubka); German: Gaswagen) was a vehicle reequipped as a mobile gas chamber.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_van

            “The gas van was invented in the Soviet Union[2][3][4][9][10] in 1936,[7] by Isay Berg, the head of the administrative and economic department of the NKVD of Moscow Oblast, which suffocated batches of prisoners with engine fumes in a camouflaged bread van while on the drive out to the mass graves at Butovo, where the prisoners were subsequently buried”.

            The Nazis first used Gas Vans four years later, 1940. It is likely that the Nazis learned of this technology of death from the NKVD at the The Gestapo–NKVD Conferences in late 1939 and early 1940.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gestapo%E2%80%93NKVD_conferences

            Reply
        2. Darthbobber

          There exist a huge number of people in a range intermediate between near-destitute toilers and anything like “the centers of power”. Most people, in fact. And many of them manage to send the kids to schools like William and Mary.

          A large segment of the young in this country have been in the habit of staking out what they regard as hypermoralistic stances and gesturing toward them with faux militance for longer than my adult lifetime. To conjure an incipient revolution out of this really takes some doing. The wave of much greater and more widespread militance that spread through the campuses through the late 60s and early 70s was greater than anything we’re seeing now by several multipliers, and that was not an incipient revolution either.

          Reply
        3. windsock

          I went in 1984 – it seemed appropriate – to Moscow, Leningrad, Tashkent, Bukhara and Samarkand. It was fascinating. We were left on our own to wander the streets after official tours and, as a post punk glam rock goth type who spoke enough Russian for basics and could read the alphabet for the tube stations, I have to say I had LOTS of encounters with Russian strangers who would come up to me and my girlfriend to find out about the weirdos that we were. Their English was far better than my Russian.

          On some trips we were accompanied by the government Intourist rep, but she got very frustrated with me and my girlfriend. She said normally the workers of the sites we visited would ignore tourists, but they wanted to talk to us, so we said sure, why not, let them. So we would sit in groups and she would translate. Very informative.

          The other cultural exchange, interestingly enough, was within our tour group, who were mostly made up of older Brit aspiring middle class types who looked at me and Sheila as some poor representation of the UK and would rather not talk to us. That all changed once they realised we ended up making their trip more interesting because of our encounters with Russians. Also, knowing how to ask for the delicious Russian ice cream, or meat filled donuts and knowing where to get them helped.

          Reply
      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Before Indians were Indians, they never thought they lived in India.

        Then, they became Indians.

        But now, they are native Americans (last I checked. Sorry if I am not up to date).

        And at one time, many of us were just rude calling people originated from Africa blacks. Then, we progressed to a more respectable name, African Americans. Or so we mistakenly thought. Today, it’s Black Lives Matter. Don’t say African American Lives Matter.

        It kind of makes sense, because if a person is African German, then, wouldn’t his cousin in China, for example, be called African Chinese, and another cousin in Nigeria African Nigerian?

        But then, what do you call a Mongolian in America? Not Mongolian American, but by his skin color?

        Reply
      4. Mo's Bike Shop

        You have info that the ACLU and alt-right are joining up? This is not a serious question, I’m being a bad commenter, it’s just the best tit-for-tat I could politely come up with without looking up the rhetorical term for what you just did.

        Existential closure unsettles me. And–an admission of personal bias–being chagrined by the ACLU gives me a nostalgic feeling of back when we had the munificence to believe the pie was big enough for everyone.

        Maybe this shutdown was achieved through bake sales, car washes, and personal gumption. Links about that would make me feel a little less queasy. But, what is sauce for the breitbart…

        So, I guess I’ve given away that I’m old. And I was raised with the jingoism that censorship is a giveaway that the censor knows that their ideas are weak. To put it another way, I don’t think the Panther’s would have used this strategy.

        I think the first amendment is awesome, and the second is useless if you can’t buy an Aegis system. Many of my fellow consumers obviously feel differently.

        But, How, How is it imaginable for me to benefit from making someone else shut up?

        Reply
    1. Roland

      Clarky, the “Bolshevik Revolution” did not extinguish millions of lives. If you knew anything about the history of that place and time, you would be fully aware that heavy loss of life was caused by years of a bitter, polygonal civil war.

      The Bolsheviks were by no means the only participants in that war, although of course, like any of the other participants Russian or foreign, they have to answer for those whom they slew.

      Indeed, given the disorganized condition of the Russian economy and transportation network by 1917, widespread famine was almost unavoidable even if there hadn’t been a civil war. The reason the Revolution broke out that winter was because the railways could no longer supply both the armies and the civilian population in the cities (over half the locomotives in Russia were out of service at the beginning of 1917).

      Mass desertion from the armies led to widespread outbreaks of typhus, since the soldiers were louse-infested, and the armies’ disintegration prevented the regular delousing measures from being followed. For what it’s worth, the Bolsheviks were the only participating faction in the Russian Civil War to even attempt a systematic approach to controlling the epidemic.

      A triumvirate of Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, and the Virgin Mary couldn’t have prevented a major surplus mortality event from taking place in Russia in 1918.

      Reply
      1. clarky90

        My apologies Roland. I could have been clearer. My understanding is that the USSR was in a state of ongoing, Revolutionary Terror up until, at least, the death of Stalin in 1953. That is 36 years.

        Reply
      2. Vatch

        The events associated with World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the Russian Civil War are immensely complex, and we’ll never know the answer to numerous “what if” scenarios. So, with this disclaimer of uncertainty, I will assert that the Russian Civil War might not have occurred if the Bolsheviks had accepted the results of the Constituent Assembly election about three weeks after the October/November Revolution. The Bolsheviks finished a distant second behind the Socialist Revolutionaries in the election, and the Bolsheviks dissolved the Constituent Assembly in January, 1918. Since representative democracy was rejected by the Bolsheviks, their opponents either had to submit or to resort to violence. Then again, there were plenty of other sources of instability, so the Civil War might have occurred anyhow. Maybe.

        Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      “Chairman Mao’s Red Guards” arrive on the scene after the Communist Party has already been ruling China for more than a decade and a half.

      No, the bulk of the Bolsheviks were not “teenagers.”

      Remember WWI? The famine? The White Generals? The civil war? There were a few wee causes of the way things shook out that don’t have a bloody thing to do with feckless teenagers. And “thousands” (come on now, thousands?) of ancient, indigenous cultures?

      This is almost a regurgitation of the hyperventilating fears that some affected to have about Obama!? building an army of youth shock troops to violently advance his Marxist/Muslim/Kenyan agenda. And almost as well-founded.

      Reply
      1. clarky90

        Re, “thousands of indigenous cultures”. The USSR was a vast, multilingual state, with over 120 languages spoken.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_Soviet_Union

        “Population transfer in the Soviet Union may be classified into the following broad categories: deportations of “anti-Soviet” categories of population (often classified as “enemies of workers”), deportations of entire nationalities, labor force transfer, and organized migrations in opposite directions to fill the ethnically cleansed territories.
        …….This includes deportations to the Soviet Union of non-Soviet citizens from countries outside the USSR. It has been estimated that, in their entirety, internal forced migrations affected some 6 million people.”

        The article goes on to list the major groups that were transported, dates, numbers, destinations, mortality….

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Population_transfer_in_the_Soviet_Union

        Reply
    3. Darthbobber

      As to the destruction of indigenous peoples/cultures. The 19th and 20th centuries weren’t exactly kind to indigenous cultures much of anywhere, and the Bolsheviks would have a lot of work to do to stand out in a crowd.

      Generally, the indigenous peoples of regions of the former Soviet Union seem to have survived in far greater numbers than those of, say, the North American continent.

      And by the time the slave trade and a few generations of British/French/German/Belgian tutelage had done their work, African traditional culture had been “disrupted” about as thoroughly as possible. With consequences still playing out today.

      Anyhoow, I’m not quaking in terror that the kids at William and Mary will be coming for me anytime soon.

      Reply
    4. Basil Pesto

      I share your concern broadly, although a bit more tentatively. My concern is that, at some point in the future, as increasingly united sections of society try to correct the various iniquities that they are subject to and which its leaders do nothing to alleviate, they may ‘over-compensate’ (as one does when they fall asleep at the wheel, wake up, see they’re on the shoulder and swerve to over-compensate) and take us from one unbearable situation into another. This may be a pattern of history, I’m not sure. I am familiar enough with bits of 20th C emigré literature to know that some of the suffering was real and heartfelt (and resentment of the Bolsheviks was a common theme – but I can’t contribute to that discussion as much as some commenters above have).

      Reply
  4. a different chris

    >Note lack of agency in “boxes are in the process of leaving.”

    What do you mean? The boxes are clearly shown to be at fault here. They are probably unionized or something.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      What was being reported in the early days was that the stevedores et al. were refusing to unload the stuff because the banks were closed and they were afraid they wouldn’t be paid. I don’t know how much faith to put in said reports because (a) one assumes they are employed by someone, so are they the ones who are worried or is it the bosses and (b) a situation like Puerto Rico is ripe for exploiting anti-union propaganda, since one assumes at least some of those dockworkers are union.

      Reply
      1. jo6pac

        Sorry I don’t have any links but the answer is 0 just like the tempster are on strike. Sad the false news.

        Blame the victims.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        First, thanks for the links. Let me quote Colonel Valle:

        There should be zero blame on the drivers. They can’t get to work, the infrastructure is destroyed, they can’t get fuel themselves, and they can’t call us for help because there’s no communication. The will of the people of Puerto Rico is off the charts. The truck drivers have families to take care of, many of them have no food or water. They have to take care of their family’s needs before they go off to work, and once they do go, they can’t call home. [Emphasis added].

        So the drivers couldn’t get to work, simple as that. But this:

        … the banks were closed…

        Speculating freely: Having periodically linked to the complexities of shipping paperwork (bills of lading, and all that) I can well believe that that there was some bank-/finance-/signature-related screwup, maybe due to the loss of power, that prevented the containers from being unloaded. It’s not simply a matter of loading the container onto a truck with a crane; it’s a complex commercial transition. (The military could requisition the containers, I suppose, but they weren’t there, AFAIK). For example:

        Reply
    1. Basil Pesto

      Very interesting. I can’t believe these people are just now realising they share a lot of the substance of Bannon’s critique. He’s like an inverse-Sanders

      Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    “Human beings are compelled to live within a lie, but they can be compelled to do so only because they are in fact capable of living in this way. Therefore not only does the system alienate humanity, but at the same time alienated humanity supports this system as its own involuntary masterplan, as a degenerate image of its own degeneration, as a record of people’s own failure as individuals.”

    Václav Havel
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It’s simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we’ve been taken. Once you give a charlatan power over you, you almost never get it back.”

    Carl Sagan

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      You give a charlatan power over you when you buy into his Ponzi promise scheme.

      A Ponzi promise scheme is when a later promise is used to pay off an earlier (impossible to fulfill) promise.

      So, when a guy (or a gal) is promising more and better tech gadgets to a newly born sucker every minute, (green Earth today, Mars tomorrow), make sure it’s not a Ponzi Promise scheme.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The answer to the question, why do women fall for bad boys, may possible to linked to their expertise in Ponzi promise scheme.

        Reply
  6. ewmayer

    Re. Tesla and PR: Whatever one thinks of the viability of such a scheme, Musk is certainly a genius at self-promotion … “ignore that we are selling a mere 1000 Model S cars this year and yet our company is valued greater than GM and Ford … first we’re gonna solve Puerto Rico’s power-grid problems, then we’re gonna use giant vacuum tubes to solve LA’s erectile dysfunction, erm I mean car-congestion problems, then we’re going to Mars!”

    Reply
    1. Craig H.

      I thought the O’Reilley interview in Wired linked above was really sad. I still have all my beautiful O’Reilley books even though I can find everything I need online with a browser and a search string faster than I can find in the books. He says the men he most admires are Musk and Bezos. And that Bezos would make a great president.

      Reply
    2. lyle

      Just to defend Musk a bit, they have done this on Kauaii in Hawaii but that island has only about 68k folks. so its a whole different scale. Perhaps rather than the whole Island, concentrate on the more rural areas, where long distribution lines would be needed with few customers per line mile served. The power situation is complicated by the generating plants being on the south side of the island and the major population centers being on the north side. The storms were bad enough that the steel tower lines were destroyed, and these are major efforts to rebuild, in particular where the lines cross mountainous areas. Using Solar tech could get service back to the rural areas who will be at the tail end of the grid recovery, since after getting power back to hospitals etc, the next step is to do those things that get power back to the greatest number of customers faster, which means the towns of 1000 or so will be at the back of the line.

      Reply
      1. Basil Pesto

        It was reported earlier this year that Musk made a bet with the gov’t of my state, South Australia, that he could build battery infrastructure to power the state within three months or your money back (or something to that effect). There was a mild storm last year (relatively extreme for our part of the world) and the power went out in pretty much the entire state (~1.5 million ppl) for at least 12 hours, and the state gov’t has spent the last year trying to grapple with the state’s electricity infrastructure (our energy is increasingly renewable, the right wing charlatans in the federal parliament saw fit to blame the outage on that for some reason). The Tesla project in the state’s rural north is almost complete (on schedule). Musklord checked it out last week in fact. I can’t comment as to the technical viability of what they’re doing up there – maybe battery tech is Tesla’s safest bet going forward? But I do have concerns with 1. government by wager on twitter 2. tethering infrastructure to a company that is genetically unprofitable and will surely face solvency issues at some point? and with a leadership running the show seemingly on cult-of-personality/force of will alone.

        Reply
  7. Wukchumni

    “How Ludwig II’s love for Richard Wagner inspired the world’s greatest work of fan art.” [Lapham’s Quarterly].
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Wagner has taken a lot of heat for being associated with that Adolf fellow, but seeing as he died 6 years before the dictator’s coming out party, that hardly seems fair.

    My favorite:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqk4bcnBqls

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      It’s more that Wagner embodied a certain attitude and ethos that might be said to have facilitated the advent of the thing that a lot of people born into the Germanic Teutonic space came to call the Third Reich… Barbara Tuchman had some observations on the subject, as I recall, that seemed to have the Ring of truth…

      To be fair, humans, generally speaking, on the evidence I have come across in my own puny life, are not as a rule very nice or kind or loving, in the big picture… there have been notable exceptions, that seem to prove the rule…

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Time for some Anna Russell:

      Wagner is a tough case. Vile person, sometimes vile themes, glorious music (?). Query: If the lyrics were changed, and the music left alone, would the Ring Cycle still be as problematic?

      Reply
    3. Sue

      Similar with Nietzsche & Hitler. And Nietzsche praised Wagner’s works on his early comments about art & aesthetics & they were both friends until it turned into enmity

      Reply
    4. Big River Bandido

      I think I’m probably more in line with Edgar Wilson Nye, as paraphrased by Mark Twain in 1902:

      I should say that there are no standards of music, none at all, except for those people who have climbed through years of exertion until they stand upon the cold Alpine heights, where the air is so rarefied that they can detect a false note, and they lose much by that. I do not detect the false note, and it took me some time to get myself educated up to the point where I could enjoy Wagner. I am satisfied if I get it in the proper doses but I do feel about it a good deal as Bill Nye said. He said he had heard that Wagner’s music was better than it sounds.

      The most memorable part, to me, is the part in bold.

      Reply
  8. allan

    NAACP Pushes for Transparency on 2020 Census [Courthouse News]

    … Filing its complaint Thursday with a federal judge in Bridgeport, the NAACP complains that the public has been kept in the dark about what measures the bureau is taking to ensure a more accurate count in the face of “serious obstacles.”

    “These include hiring and personnel gaps, exacerbated by a federal hiring freeze imposed in January 2017; an unprecedented move to digitize the census, with unknown vulnerabilities to cyberattack and disparate impacts on communities with less access to broadband internet services; a lack of senior leadership; and budgetary shortfalls at a time when the Bureau’s funding should be substantially increasing,” the complaint states. “These deficiencies recently prompted the U.S. Government Accountability Office to label the 2020 census a ‘high-risk’ program. Yet the bureau has failed to fully communicate to the public how it plans to carry out the 2020 census in light of these obstacles.” …

    Weirdly,

    Completion of a decennial census is required by Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution.

    Strict Constructionism for me but not for thee.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Does this mean that the 2020 US census and the next US Federal Election are going to be held almost back to back? If the Census proves to be a shambles due to what allan noted, would that not make the Census an unwelcome hot button issue leading up to November 3rd?

      Reply
  9. TroyMcClure

    This quote from the article about Breitbart is….magical:

    “The liberal doesn’t purge the communist because he hates communism, he purges the communist because the communist is a public embarrassment to him. … It’s not that he sees enemies to the left, just that he sees losers to the left, and losers rub off.”

    Hence the endless condescension and refusal to argue in good faith. Leftist losers simply don’t deserve the decency of good faith.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      If the people I have come across in the Democratic Party of FL are in any way characterizable as “left” in political-space geometry, I would grudgingly agree that the thing I used to adhere to, out of long habit and clearly mistaken understanding of its corporate policy preferences, includes a very large number of what I would think of as “losers.” Alex Sink and DWS and Charlie Crist and many rank and file local Dem Club members and functionaries among them. Small special issues and the stuff pointed out by Thomas Frank make up the strained ligaments of that dys-Organization.

      But then us mopes have lost the keys to the bus, don’t seem to have much of a clue how to claim and maintain the organized power that might have a chance to produce those “concrete material benefits” for “the masses…” Is hope that weakness is not completely baked and priced in, but…marriage and (low) wage equality, women in military combat, legal pot, and the “right” to suicide don’t make up much of a platform… yes, I know there’s a little more, but not much, and where’s the power to make it happen?

      There’s no consistent and compelling organizing principle to it, at all..,

      Reply
      1. Ur-Blintz

        I do like the way you think, JT. And we happen to be neighbors (I in south st.pete). I don’t know any self-described progressives around here, including lifelong friends, who are willing to criticize the FL Dem party for offering up a unique string of losers over the years.

        Do you attend any seriously progressive events in the area? Do they exist? Maybe we’ll meet someday. Cheers

        Reply
  10. Elizabeth Burton

    So, poor Whirlpool, which has so crapified its products they’re all but worthless and nobody wants them, is whining the people actually making decent appliances aren’t playing fair. The mind boggles.

    Reply
  11. Wukchumni

    “I asked 5 House Republicans what Congress could do about the Las Vegas shooting” [Vox].
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “Politicians seem to turn into puppets that only look human and move in a giant, rather inhuman theatre; they appear to become merely cogs in a huge machine, objects of a major civilizational automatism which has gotten out of control and for which nobody is responsible.”~~

    Václav Havel

    Reply
  12. Altandmain

    Chris Hedges – The Elites have no credibility left
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/10/06/hedg-o06.html

    I think that what happened in Spain and against Occupy Wall Street is a chilling reminder.

    It’s very much “Democracy Inc” (look up that term). An example, had Trump lost narrowly or Brexit been narrowly defeated, the elite owned media would have portrayed it as a shining example of modern democracy.

    Instead we get attempts to vilify populism and the possibility that society has legitimate grievances against how society is run. Glenn Greenwald wrote a brillant article after Brexit detailing this inherent bias in the elite establishment.

    Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        “Competent.” That is a very big word. With many possible “metrics” that might be applied… Upward and inward wealth transfer working well, the Few living large off the mechanisms of planetary disaster, more and more colonels becoming generals, the stock markets “soaring to new heights hooray!”… But I sense your intended meaning, I think.

        Reply
        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          You get credibility when you can do. You lose credibility with the mgt. when they *somehow* find out you can do? ;)

          Reply
    1. windsock

      “(T)he elite owned media” in UK LOVED the outcome of the Brexit referendum. You should see the Telegraph / Daily Mail / Sun / Express / and occasionally The Time vilification of those who still wish to remain in the EU. They see the result as “a shining example of modern democracy”.

      Reply
  13. Wukchumni

    I’m cautiously pessimistic about the odds of Wall*Street et al being shown the door to a prison cell, but lets say it happened and justice prevailed…

    What would we replace it with?

    Reply
    1. Altandmain

      Ideally a social democracy or perhaps a society where workers owned the means to production.

      It would likely resemble a more left wing version of the Nordic nations before they became more neoliberal. The economy would likely resemble the ideas advocated by Michael Hudson.

      Reply
    2. JTMcPhee

      “Wall Street” used to be a much smaller thing. Maybe adopt that Grover Norquist formulation, and shrink it back down until it’s small enough to take into the bathroom and drown in the tub?

      But “we” can natter about what might or ought to be, all “we” want. “We” have neither power nor agency at anything close to the scale that would be required, first to even agree on what “ought” to replace the current looter’s paradise, and then to figure out how to put the toothpaste of “financialization” and “globalization” and unencumbered self-interest and “disruptive innovation” and the almost complete capture of wealth and the institutions of political power by all of the above. There are too many millions of “us” who believe in their hearts that they are in what may be a misquote that does not dissipate the potency of the observation, “temporarily embarrassed millionaires”:

      “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

      As quoted in A Short History of Progress (2005) by Ronald Wright, p. 124; though this has since been cited as a direct quote by some, the remark may simply be a paraphrase, as no quotation marks appear around the statement and earlier publication of this phrasing have not been located.

      This is likely an incorrect quote from America & Americans, 1966:

      “Except for the field organizers of strikes, who were pretty tough monkeys and devoted, most of the so-called Communists I met were middle-class, middle-aged people playing a game of dreams. I remember a woman in easy circumstances saying to another even more affluent: ‘After the revolution even we will have more, won’t we, dear?’ Then there was another lover of proletarians who used to raise hell with Sunday picknickers on her property.

      “I guess the trouble was that we didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist. Maybe the Communists so closely questioned by the investigation committees were a danger to America, but the ones I knew—at least they claimed to be Communists—couldn’t have disrupted a Sunday-school picnic. Besides they were too busy fighting among themselves.” http://hellyesjohnsteinbeck.tumblr.com/post/23486952183/commonly-misquoted-socialism-never-took-root-in

      Until there’s a sort of politico-genetic recoding and implantation of a different comity-based organizing principle (that silly Golden Rule thingy?), and set of individual drivers and the incentives they create and feed from, in a whole lot more humans, I am massively pessimistic that there can be any “replacement” of FIRE and all the incentives and drivers and rewards that empower that whole pathology (keeping in mind that those who see it as a pathology, myself included, seem pretty impotent to effect any kind of treatment of the “social disease complex” whereby the cancers and parasites and pathogens have long since figured out how to divert all the body politic’s resources and energies to their own pleasure and profit.

      Hey! Maybe some Disruptor with a deep knowledge of the human genome and physiology might fire up his or her little desktop CRSP-R and release a revised set of nucleic acids in maybe a rhinovirus, to spread Goodness$Light across the planet… Or maybe just some code that imprints supine obeisance to the Few who are inoculated against said code… “Google and Amazon and NSA Love You, Now Love Them Back And Give Them Your Everything…”

      Reply
  14. lyle

    Re Puerto Rico power situation I found a reference to the restore times for Hugo and Georges when they Hit PR Hugo in 1989 took 4 months and Georges in 1998 it took 6 months. Georges took 98% of power customers off line. Of course the news media can’t find the time to go back in their archives or even go to Wikipedia to find this information. So the restoral times are in line with past events.

    Reply
  15. Chauncey Gardiner

    Final sentence of today’s post was absolutely the best, Lambert: “Yes, financial markets are the first rogue AI.” As in the past, I would expect the SEC will choose to ignore the possibility of such factors so long as the market is trending ever higher.

    Reply
  16. Larry

    Wow, Lambert posts an article from The Truth about Cars on journalistic integrity. I don’t love everything on the site, but it’s a nearly daily read for me as cars are so important to the global economy.

    Reply
      1. Altandmain

        I have worked in the automotive industry and I find their articles to be questionable. A lot of bashing towards Generation Y.

        They are very critical to the American Big Three I find. That is not to say they do not deserve criticism (they do). However they seem to have a very ideologically motivated dislike. They are also very anti union.

        They are economically very conservative in a libertarian way, disliking things like speed limits and supporting free trade.

        Reply
  17. Poteroo

    As an alien observer, I’m surprised that the ‘well regulated militia’ clause in the second amendment has not been, well, regulated. Here are a couple of thoughts on how it could be implemented.

    • No restriction on bearing arms, including automatic weapons.
    • Compulsory membership to own military type weapons and hand guns. Normal exemption for non-military hunting/rural single shot rifles, with safety features legislated including gun lockers and separation of guns and ammunition.
    • Training and assessment as part of membership, including ammunition tracking.
    • Local control only, not federal or standing army (as in US military). If the militia decides to go to war, all the members go to war. Restrictions on external influence, including sponsorship by gun manufacturers and political parties.
    • Infringements by a member would show ‘ipso facto’ that ‘well regulated’ has failed, which could mean disbandment and forfeiture of all weapons by members, and civil and criminal charges against militia management and members.

    Reply
    1. jgordon

      Then, I will helpfully give you a quick United States civic lesson so you can understand the issue better:

      1. In the United States The Constitution is the supreme law of the land.

      2. The Supreme Court of the United States is the final supreme interpreter of what The Constitution means.

      3. The Supreme Court has already intrepreted The Constitution to mean that A) the preamble portion of The Second Amendment is completely meaningless and that bearing arms is an individual right (Presser v. Illinois, 1886) and that bearing firearms is an individual right unconnected to service in a militia that governments can’t legally interfere with (District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008).

      I hope that helps you appreciate our American system a bit more!

      Reply
      1. Poteroo

        Thanks for that. All legal systems are similar, in that, once they’ve dug a hole, its very hard to get out.

        It does make sense of when the Republican leadership says ‘I’m a second amendment person’ in that they’re really saying that they support the second amendment as interpreted and eviscerated by the Supreme Court, so their hands are tied.

        Our High Court is about to do a similar job on our constitution, where it clearly says that members of federal parliament cannot be dual citizens. There is intense political pressure that the common-sense meaning gets inverted so that yes, members may be dual citizens. If that happens, contempt for both institutions is likely to ratchet up another notch.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        jrg is giving you a very warped version of Presser v. Illinois. I’d suggest you read the opinion yourself — https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/116/252. Those who have affections for firearms have a whole codex of versions of “the law” to support their fixations. You are right, Potrero, that “the law” makes if possible (see Citizens United decision, etc.) to dig a very deep hole very quickly, one that can be impossible to climb out of since the institutions of “legitimacy,” once captured, can keep kicking us back in the hole if we try to climb out…

        Reply

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