2:00PM Water Cooler 11/2/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


USTR Robert Lighthizer on ISDS: “It’s always odd to me when the business people come around and say, ‘Oh, we just want our investments protected.’ … I mean, don’t we all? I would love to have my investments guaranteed. But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way in the market. … I’ve had people come in and say, literally, to me: ‘Oh, but you can’t do this: you can’t change ISDS. … You can’t do that because we wouldn’t have made the investment otherwise.’ I’m thinking, ‘Well, then why is it a good policy of the United States government to encourage investment in Mexico?’ … The bottom line is, business says: ‘We want to make decisions and have markets decide. But! We would like to have political risk insurance paid for by the United States’ government.’ And to me that’s absurd. You either are in the market, or you’re not in the market” [Forbes].


2016 Post Mortem

“A Post-Obama Democratic Party in Search of Itself” [New York Times]. I read the whole article, all 6700+ words of it, and — hold onto your hats, here, folks — when I searched on the string “Sanders” I got zero (0) hits. Gee. That’s odd.

“Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC” [Donna Brazile, Politico]. (From the URL: “… clinton-brazile-hacks-2016….”) Holy moley. Brazile throws Clinton under the bus? Brazile takes over after Wasserman-Schultz is defenestrated and follows the money:

[Gary Gensler, the chief financial officer of Hillary’s campaign] described the party as fully under the control of Hillary’s campaign, which seemed to confirm the suspicions of the Bernie camp. The campaign had the DNC on life support, giving it money every month to meet its basic expenses, while the campaign was using the party as a fund-raising clearinghouse. Under FEC law, an individual can contribute a maximum of $2,700 directly to a presidential campaign. But the limits are much higher for contributions to state parties and a party’s national committee…. It would be weeks before I would fully understand the financial shenanigans that were keeping the party on life support.

The hottest of hot takes:

If opportunists want to scramble aboard the good ship Bernie*, good. Great! * Brazile calls him Bernie…

UPDATE And one more hot take:

“Trump pollster: Sanders would have won general election” [The Hill]. “Some Democrats criticized the Vermont senator for staying in the race too long, saying he damaged Clinton’s campaign. Polls, however, consistently showed the self-described democratic socialist beating Trump in a head-to-head match-up.” Not that Trump’s pollster would be above sh*t-stirring…


“Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam” [RealClearPolitics]. The average of all polls: Northam 3.6% (October 30: 3.3%). Suffolk and WaPo weigh in.

“The one-minute video shows a sinister-looking white man chasing down minority kids with his pickup truck that’s adorned with three tell-tale symbols — a Confederate flag, a Tea Party license plate and a bumper sticker for Ed Gillespie, the Republican candidate for governor. At the end, this is all revealed to be a dream, as the kids wake up shaking in the middle of the night, while the narrator intones: “Is this what Donald Trump and Ed Gillespie mean by ‘the American dream’?” [Roanoke Times]. “If this ad had shown an immigration officer snatching kids off the street, that would have been fair comment.”

“Northam says he’d ban sanctuary cities if one ever appears in Virginia” [Richmond Times-Dispatch]. Hard to believe the same party is being discussed in the Roanake Times article, and this story.

“VA House of Delegates Updates – 10/31” [Decision Desk HQ].

Trump Transition

“Democrats are rolling out an old and flimsy argument against tax cuts” [Business Insider]. “In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s reveal of the Republican tax plan, Democrats have been harping on about higher budget deficits and a resulting “entitlement crisis” as a key justification for opposing President Donald Trump’s tax plan…. Unlike households, governments can run big deficits, and they should be doing so especially when inflation is as low as it is today. Doing so can help spur economic growth, and the Democrats know this because it was a key lesson of the post-financial-crisis recovery.” Quotes Stephanie Kelton, but note how the central arguments have been decoupled from MMT branding, which is important for ideas on their way to becoming conventional wisdom.

“Republicans formally roll out tax plan — live updates” [CBS]. “It would lower the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, which the talking points say are the largest reduction for the U.S. corporate tax rate in history. It would also lower the tax rate on “hard-earned business income of Main street job creators” to no more than 25 percent, the talking points say.” 20%, eh?

“A part of the new GOP tax plan will be a tough sell for Republicans in New Jersey, New York, and California” [Business Insider]. “While most House Republicans are in favor of getting rid of the [State and Local Taxes (SALT)] deduction, this proposal is likely to be one of the biggest hangups for those House Republicans in states like New York, New Jersey, and California, which could prove to be an obstacle to the bill’s passage.”

New Cold War

“[O]nce Mueller begins looking into Trump’s books, there’s no telling what he’ll find …. Now raise your hand if you think that in all of his decades as a businessman, Donald Trump was careful never to break any laws or run afoul of any ethical standards, and Mueller will find nothing in Trump’s finances that could be trouble for him if revealed. Anyone? I didn’t think so” [Paul Waldman, The Week]. NTDT (Not To Defend Trump), but what Waldman is describing is a fishing expedition, and that is just what Rosenstein told the world the Office of Special Counsel would not be.

“The patsy in the White House” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “Is it at least plausible that Manafort and Papadopoulos and others in their orbit could have been acting as de facto Russian agents without Trump or his coterie of little Trumps really being aware of it? Or that the Trumps were vaguely aware of what was happening but didn’t think it was such a big deal? I actually do think that’s plausible. And it’s a version of events I find just as disconcerting as any other.” What if everything is like Shattered, except Shattered is — stay with me, here — actually the standard for excellence, and everything else is far worse?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats: Stop rehabilitating George W. Bush” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. “Democrats polishing the Bush presidency turd… allows Republicans to skate on what should be a gigantic political liability. Instead of tying Bush’s failed presidency around the neck of every Republican in the land, Democrats are instead boosting his popularity. No doubt in large part due to elite signaling like Schumer’s, Democrats now approve of Bush by a 51-42 margin.” But the Democrats who control the party don’t want to expand their electoral base by registering new voters. And they don’t want to pivot left, because ka-ching (and that’s before we get to ideology and hatred of the working class in their professional base). So where do they get the votes? Republicans, especially suburban Republicans. This didn’t work for Clinton, and it didn’t work for Ossoff, but perhaps third time is the charm.

Polarization on the Twitter:

Seems like warmongering isn’t a guaranteed path to victory:

Stats Watch

Productivity and Costs, Q3 2017 (Preliminary): “Output rose at a very solid 3.8 percent annualized rate in the third quarter and it only took a 0.8 percent increase in hours worked” [Econoday]. “The gain in productivity helped hold down unit labor costs to a slightly lower-than-expected 0.5 percent annualized rate.” And: “If data is analyzed in year-over-year fashion, non-farm business productivity improved 1.3 % year-over-year, and unit labor costs were DOWN 0.2 % year-over-year. Bottom line: the year-over-year data is saying that productivity growth is significantly outpacing labor costs” [Econintersect]. However: “I have issues with the way productivity is determined.” Charts at the end, among them manufacturing: “In the case of manufacturing, output (blue line) and employment are now growing at the same rate. Prior to the Great Recession, output grew whilst employment fell… The above chart is saying there is no productivity growth in manufacturing – even with our belief that robotics are doing away with jobs.”

Chain Store Sales, October 2017: “Chain stores are reporting improved sales rates in October compared to September which points at extended strength for core readings in the retail sales report” [Econoday].

Challenger Job-Cut Report, October 2017: “Jobless claims are at historic lows and Challenger’s layoff count is at a 20-year low” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of October 28, 2017: “Claims in Puerto Rico are rising but are offset by overall improvement as initial claims fell” [Econoday].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of October 29, 2017: Rose, below August peak [Econoday]. “Full employment, the rally in the stock market, and solid home-price appreciation are all important pluses for confidence measures.”

Retail: “[Challenger] holiday hiring announcements were lower through October this year than through the same period last year. So far this year, companies have announced 548,950 seasonal hires, according to Challenger tracking. That is 9.2 percent lower than the 604,800 seasonal hires announced through October last year” [Econintersect].

Retail: “Un-Branded: How Consumers Outgrew Traditional Branding” [The Fashion Law]. “Brandless is similarly concerned with retail price. It offers all of its products – whether it be daily moisturizer or hand towels – for just $3. According to the company, it can offer such low prices by abolishing what it calls, BrandTax™, ‘the hidden costs you pay for a national brand. We’ve been trained to believe these costs increase quality, but they rarely do. We estimate the average person pays at least 40 percent more for products of comparable quality as ours. And sometimes up to 370 percent more for beauty products like face cream.'”

Shipping: “Baltimore’s double-stack rail project collapses” [Journal of Commerce]. “A highly-anticipated project to raise the 121-year-old Howard Street Tunnel, enabling CSX Transportation to run double-stacked trains, collapsed Wednesday after the railroad said it would no longer provide about one-third of the $425 million project budget…. CSX’s withdrawal comes as the railroad is discontinuing hundreds of domestic intermodal services and destination pairs in an overhaul to build cargo density. The intermodal network overhaul is part of a broad sweep of changes under the leadership of CSX CEO E. Hunter Harrison, which he calls a “precision railroading” strategy.”

Shipping: “Risks and Liabilities of a Freight Forwarder” [Shipping and Freight Resource]. “Freight forwarders are an integral part of the supply chain and global maritime trade.. Although they are involved in all modes of transport (sea, road, rail and air), in this article, I am concentrating on the seaborne trade which accounts for over 90% of the world’s trade. In the most succinct and layman’s terms, a Freight Forwarder is a multi-function agent/operator who undertakes to handle the movement of goods from point to point on behalf of the cargo owner.” Shipping nerds will enjoy. I’m not sure automation is coming to this field anytime soon. Then again–

Shipping; “‘We can make every forwarder in India a digital forwarder in a week'” [The Loadstar]. “This Expedia-like portal is created by FreightBro’s back-end engine which uses algorithms to automate prices sent by carriers. Schedules are pulled from multiple carrier websites simultaneously for ‘further convenience and more efficient selling’. A track-and-trace feature is included to allow shippers to monitor their cargo in real-time – FreightBro generates a “shareable link” which forwarders can pass on to customers.” Interestingly, their technical approach is not market-based. “”We don’t want to be a marketplace between shippers and carriers, or between shippers and forwarders, because we believe – in India at least – it’s still a relationship marketplace.”

Shipping: “At a forgotten Pakistan port, China paves a new Silk Road” [Agence France Presse]. “Remote and impoverished, Pakistan’s Gwadar port at first glance seems an unlikely crown jewel in a multi-billion-dollar development project with China aimed at constructing a 21st century Silk Road. Situated on a barren peninsula in the Arabian Sea, Gwadar, or the “gate of the wind”, owes its fortuitous selection as Pakistan’s next economic hub to its strategic location near the Strait of Hormuz. The city is set to become the bridgehead for the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), a $54 billion project launched in 2013 linking western China to the Indian Ocean via Pakistan.” But if you read further for detail, you see that “set to become” is definitely the operative phrase, as opposed to “becoming” for example.

The Bezzle: “What it’s like to live in Phoenix? ‘Waymo units all over the damn place'” [Ars Technica]. Besides a permissive regulatory environment, this : “A number of factors have drawn technology companies to the Phoenix area. Phoenix’s sunny weather means companies don’t have to worry about the complexities of rain, ice, or snow. The region has a lot of wide, well-maintained suburban streets.” No. That’s not quite it: “Other than the mountains in and around the city, the topography of Phoenix is generally flat, allowing the city’s main streets to run on a precise grid with wide, open-spaced roadways” (WikiPedia). In other words, Phoenix has a road system optimized for algos that don’t have to be very good. It’s not quite like using the Indianapolis 500 Speedway as a test bed — only right turns! — but it’s pretty close. Interestingly, Phoenix has both a low rate of people walking every day, and a relatively high rate of pedestrian deaths; and it is true that robot cars won’t be talking on their cellphones while driving.

The Bezzle: “Silicon Valley Tried to Reinvent Schools. Now It’s Rebooting” [Bloomberg]. After screwing with the heads of thousands of children. Thanks, Silicon Valley! Please, spare me from squillionaires with bright ideas!

Five Horsemen: “Facebook descends from its lofty perch after reporting earnings” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Nov 2

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Oct 31 at 8:00pm. That’s what the update date is…

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“[W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1935 magnum opus] Black Reconstruction in America is the definitive revisionist text in African American history and, arguably, American history more broadly. Black Reconstruction revises history in several ways. Most obviously, the book overturned the notoriously racist Dunning School. In his effort to transform how people thought about the Civil War and Reconstruction—in telling his story “as though Negroes were ordinary human beings”—Du Bois ran headlong into a legion of white historians who worked in lockstep with Columbia University historian William Archibald Dunning and his followers, including Woodrow Wilson. The Dunning School argued that Reconstruction was the most calamitous and corrupt period in the nation’s history because imperialistic Radical Republicans empowered riotous, sub-human blacks to rule over the respectable white South. This racist interpretation, popularized by The Birth of a Nation, the 1915 silent film that rekindled the Ku Klux Klan, functioned as a rationale for stripping southern blacks of citizenship” [Society for U.S. Intellectual History].


“Change in the Air” [Harvard School of Public Health]. “The experiment planted along County Road 1200 has already led to a startling scientific yield, as described in a 2014 study in Nature. When exposed to high levels of CO2, staple crops like wheat, rice, maize, and soybeans shift their internal chemistry and retain fewer essential micronutrients, such as the minerals zinc and iron. That’s a frightening fact, says Sam Myers, principal research scientist, planetary health, in the Exposure, Epidemiology, and Risk Program in the Department of Environmental Health, who led the crop study. Today, 2 billion people worldwide suffer iron and zinc deficiencies. Both minerals are crucial to human health: zinc for a fully functioning immune system, iron to form a key building block of hemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen around our bodies. If global emissions and concomitant climate change continue at current rates, by 2050 hundreds of millions of people who depend on these staple crops for nutrition—especially in poorer societies where meat is rarely consumed—could suffer devastating health problems, from stunted growth to diminished cognitive function.” Yikes. Another excellent long read; many such today!

The 420

“California to tax pot as much as 45%” [CNN]. Well, naturally. I mean, it’s not like “pot” is a weed you can grow in your back yard.

Class Warfare

“About 60% of all college graduates complete their bachelor degree programs, with an average student loan debt of $16,723. The average college dropout owes nearly as much — $13,930 — and does not have a degree to show for it” [MarketWatch]. “[M]ore than half (53%) of college dropouts are not currently making payments on their student loan debt.” Debts that can’t be paid, won’t be.

“Despite Lacking Collective Bargaining Rights, Tennessee Campus Workers Defeat Outsourcing in Major Victory for Public Sector Unions” [Payday Report]. “Despite lacking collective bargaining rights, the United Campus Workers (UCW), an affiliate of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), have dealt a death blow to Republican Governor of Tennessee Bill Haslam’s $300 million plan to outsource thousands of custodial, maintenance, and repair jobs throughout the University of Tennessee system.” Better fire the adminstrators who didn’t do their jobs and bust the unions!

“Self-employed turn to non-bank lenders to crack the housing market” [CNBC]. “An increasing share of aspiring U.S. homebuyers are getting mortgages from “non-banks” that can accommodate borrowers in ways traditional lenders may not. Six of the top 10 home lenders by volume now fall into this category. Customers include the self-employed and those who rely on bonuses as a substantial part of their income.”

News of the Wired

“[M]ost of the time we spend on the web today is no longer on the open Internet – it’s on private services like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While Facebook provides a valuable service, it is also a for-profit, company. Their source of revenue is advertising. It is the epitome of centralized. Try posting a picture of the Francisco de Goya’s “The Naked Maja” or your naked breasts (if you’re a woman) on Facebook; it’ll almost certainly be removed. It’s against their terms of use. To use their platform, you have to agree to whatever conditions they set, however absurd. If you replace the open web with Facebook, you’re giving up your right to publish and share on your terms. The data that you post there does not belong to you; you’re putting it in a closed system. If one day Facebook decides to shut down — unlikely as that might seem today — your data goes with it. Sure, you might be able to download parts of it, but then what?” [Neutstadt.fr].

“The new thermodynamics: how quantum physics is bending the rules” [Nature]. Interesting if experiments prove out.

Boredom is the gateway to mind-wandering, which helps our brains create those new connections that can solve anything from planning dinner to a breakthrough in combating global warming. Researchers have only recently begun to understand the phenomenon of mind-wandering, the activity our brains engage in when we’re doing something boring, or doing nothing at all. Most of the studies on the neuroscience of daydreaming have only been done within the past 10 years. With modern brain-imaging technology, discoveries are emerging every day about what our brains are doing not only when we are deeply engaged in an activity but also when we space out” [Nautilus].

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (MF):

German red currants. Pretty!

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

* * *

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


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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Wukchumni

    Challenger: Go for throttle up!

    Challenger Job-Cut Report, October 2017: “Jobless claims are at historic lows and Challenger’s layoff count is at a 20-year low” [Econoday].

    1. Vatch

      Ha! At first I thought you were referring to Kim Jong Un, and I couldn’t understand how this would affect him. But you’re referring to a different rocket man.

      1. jo6pac

        I didn’t think of that. tesla has burn through 100s millions last month. Norway stopped tax credits for tesla a few month ago and sales drop to 0. I think the lowered of electric will struggle but still have sales.


    2. Octopii

      I get really annoyed with the characterization “rocket man” and “bezzle” for Musk businesses. Tesla is clearly having some problems. But SpaceX is putting satellites up month after month after month, and bringing the first stage back again and again. It is something no other aerospace company thought was feasible, let alone accomplished with a booster. SpaceX does take government money to provide launch services, like space station crew resupply missions and most recently the X35B launch for the Air Force, but it’s significantly less than ULA and they don’t feed pork to subcontractors. So those labels are not appropriate.

      1. ABasLesAristocrates

        -Weird Los Angeles traffic tunnel
        -Disaster Capitalist attempt to extract rents on Puerto Rico’s energy generation and distribution
        -Electric cars manufactured in unsafe factories, attendant union-busting
        -Hyperloop, aka that monorail episode of the Simpsons

        Maybe he’s doing Space X right (I don’t know enough about it to speculate), but he’s a neoliberal plunderer in many other businesses.

        1. Jonhoops

          Tunnel is a hobby for Musk on his own dime and property…your point is what?

          Attempt to garner some good publicity for Solar City in Puerto Rico by helping out where Trump and the rest of USA twiddle their thumbs. Don’t see the disaster capitalism angle, maybe you are thinking of Whitefish Energy.

          We’ll see on the labor front. Musk is nothing if not practical.

          Hyperloop, another hobby, certainly at least as feasible as the California bullet train. And one Musk wants others to take the lead on.

          I’m with Octopi and think the Musk bashing around here is a bit over the top. At least the guy thinks big, it’s better than people promoting things like Juicero as the future of mankind.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            My primary beef (other than the anti-worker complaint) is the amount of public subsidy this “private” entrepreneur gets.

            Any joker can come up with big ideas…Musk’s genius is getting other smucks to pay for it.

          2. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            No need to bash Juicero.
            Juciero is the symptom, not the disease.
            GreenspanBernankeYellen is/are the disease.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          -Union buster, treats workers badly (resulting, I have speculated, in miserable outcomes for “production hell” and quality control problems generally).

          I’ll have to look at why SpaceX is the exception to the rule, at some point. (I assume it’s not an exception to something that Musk seems to be really good at: Extracting government subsidies.)

  2. L

    Apropos of the Tax cuts there is one piece that is not getting much notice is that the bill eliminates the student loan interest deduction. This will have a strong negative effect on recent students and those who have high debts matched with low employment opportunities, especially when paired with Secretary DeVos’ decision to freeze rules aimed at helping underwater borrowers and those that were defrauded.

    In many respects these are the people who are so in debt they cannot even afford to go into debt for a house.

    ht CNBC

  3. user12312312

    re: the url, “clinton-brazile-hacks-2016” – it’s Brazile’s upcoming book’s title, due out next week….

    1. John k

      Goes around, comes around. I can imagine Donna relishing every word.
      But that she has the courage to attack hill even now indicates Clinton power is declining fast… maybe foundation no longer funding supporters? the loyalty is not to the dynasty, or the neolib ideology, but to the money. Once the money goes…

      And this might prompt more exposes…
      and not least, she has jumped to Bernie, more neolibers to come…
      How smart is it to continue opposing the most popular pol in America? Not those in purple states…
      Pendulums on the move…

      1. Tom

        Bit of a tectonic shift? A political verison of a Rose McGowan moment? In any case, Brazille has certainly burned that particular bridge forever.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I expect Hillary’s people, and maybe Obama’s too, to hit back.

        Campaign collusion (debate questions) is just one of many possible attack angels, albeit a Pyrrhic Victory variety. Those inside have a lot more on each other.

        Could this be civil war for the D’s for the next few years?

    2. dcblogger

      what did she hope to achieve with this? other than book sales? throwing Clinton and Obama under the bus just makes her look worse. The Bernie people will never trust her.

        1. dcblogger

          that at least is possible. if you are truly politically active your party is your extended family. it is also possible she is trying to get CNN to take her back.

        2. DJG

          Lambert: An interesting idea worth our consideration. Brazile certainly has been as blunt before:


          In a sense, she has no political home outside the Democratic Party.

          I’m reminded of something that Nina Turner said, too, about not leaving the Democratic Party because the party represented a great deal to her and to her aspirations.

          I’m not saying that all charismatic black women alike. I’m wondering if in the American political environment, they have no other place for their ambitions. And it may be that black women are the only ones left inside the Democratic Party with the moral authority to demand reforms and a platform that delivers the concrete material benefits that they have seen given so stintingly to the poor and working class.

          It isn’t as if I am expecting Steny Hoyer to develop a moral compass all of a sudden.

        3. JohnnyGL

          Doh, I had the same idea, but 1 hour later… :)

          But I’ll repost the idea that we should think of Obama and Clinton as private equity barons that looted the party for personal gain.

        4. lambert strether

          On consideration, the manuscript for her book must have been circulating for some time. And Perez, who Obama owns, put her on the DNC Rules Committee, despite that.

          So she could be throwing Clinton under the bus, alright, but on Obama’s behalf.

          1. DJG

            LS: I’m not so sure. Editors at a publishing house with a potentially explosive memoir don’t circulate it widely. In fact, she may have written it specifically for one editor, the one who signed her. Meanwhile, the legal department (which is designed to drive editors nuts) would be fretting and sniffing about.

            Her editors and her publicists decided what to put out there as an excerpt. They gave Politico galleys or pre-pub proofs.

            And for a hot book like this, even as a hard cover, the publishing house could have had it printed in a month. So the last changes went into the proofs around, say, Labor Day. Books are coming off the press and being shipped today and tomorrow.

            Consider this her latest thinking on this topic: She wants the last word (for now).

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Legal departments…

              From Wikipedia, 1950s Quiz Show Scandals

              Quiz show ratings across the networks plummeted and several were cancelled amidst allegations of fixing. The revelations were sufficient to initiate a nine-month long County of New York grand jury.[5] No indictments were handed down, and the findings of the grand jury were sealed by judge’s order.[6]
              A formal congressional subcommittee investigation began in summer 1959.[6] Enright was revealed to have rigged Twenty One; Charles Van Doren also eventually came forth with revelations about how he was persuaded to accept specific answers during his time on the show.[7] These elements of the scandal were portrayed in the 1994 movie Quiz Show.
              As a result, many contestants’ reputations were tarnished. In 1960, the United States Congress amended the Communications Act of 1934 to prohibit the fixing of quiz shows

              Private organizations or not, it’s illegal to fix TV debate shows.

              1. John k

                Lots of things are illegal, not many are prosecuted these days. And some get prosecuted depending on their clout, witness Bankers and Clinton’s cavalier treatment of top secret docs.

            2. mk

              I wonder if brazile will sell more books than hilary’s ‘what happened’… bet hilary would hate that.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I think she would realize that she just threw herself under the bus, when people remember that she gave debate questions to Hillary beforehand.

            “I lit some candles, centered myself, prayed and then sent over those questions to my good friend, Hillary, who never, ever cheats, with the DNC or with Sanders.”

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        That book needs to sell well for her to continue enjoying those Vineyard’s vacations. Otherwise her future looked pretty bleak whether she was in or out of the Clintons’ favor.

        1. polecat

          Maybe she’ll ‘repent’ for her wayward political sins, and walk barefoot and naked through the blighted, winding streets of the likes of say, Philadephia, or Detroit … Cersei style.

          Somehow though, I don’t see contrition in the works …

  4. Wukchumni

    “California to tax pot as much as 45%” [CNN]. Well, naturally. I mean, it’s not like “pot” is a weed you can grow in your back yard.

    I first encountered ‘reefer madbyz’ in Colorado, where after the state, the county of South Park and the city of Alma took their tax cut, a $32 purchase turned into a $37.59 sale.

    The same purchase @ maximum tax rates as proposed would be closer to $50 here.

    It isn’t as if those that partake haven’t had a long time to cultivate a relationship with a supplier, who’s never charged them a cent in tax.

    Could make for an interesting 2-tiered market…

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      I don’t know if it will take off in other markets immediately but in Oregon you can grow up to 4 plants for personal use. Except for the most ferociously stoned amongst us, and depending on strain/potency/care of course…rationed out over the year thats quite a lot.

      Here in WA state you can’t do personal grows yet, but assuming Oregon doesn’t sink into the Pacific due to its experiment in same I would expect WA to follow suit sometime soon. I don’t think any other legalized-marijuana states allow personal grow options but would be interested in NC readers awareness of same.

      Now, I don’t think Californians should get their hopes up to follow suit: once that behemoth in Sacramento has decided to get their claws in 45% of the way, it’ll take an earthquake to pry them loose. Not that the people up in northern cali could give a flying f about such taxes…they’ll do what they always do, produce gigatonnes of primo weed, tax free… ;)

      1. Jim Haygood

        A relative of mine grows the legal limit of six plants per year in his back yard in Colorado. After three harvests, he’s not planting next year because he’s still got some 2015 stock, despite giving a lot of it away. ;-)

        For what it’s worth, commercially grown herb usually is better quality thanks to precisely controlled lighting, watering, fertilization, seed strains, etc.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Maine’s recent referendum passed last year allows for personal growing. I’m not sure of the exact amount but it’s in the same ballpark as Oregon’s limit.

      3. Fiery Hunt

        Alaska has had a “up to six, no more than 3 mature plants, for personal use” on the books at least since the early 90’s.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Gawd, how stupid are some of these people? That Paul Joseph Watson has already made hay over this video by saying that at the same time this one came out showing a “redneck” hunting down kids in his truck, in New York in real life a Muslim was hunting and running down ordinary people with his truck. Yeah, this video was saying reject hate – by using the politics of hate. No unity, just vote to register your hate against an ethnic group. That always works out well.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This is actually a lot worse than anyone imagined. (Brazile is also implicitly criticizing Obama for leaving the party in such bad financial shape that the Clinton operation had to finance, hence own it.)

      1. johnnygl

        Agreed, a signed agreement to implement neo-liberal austerity on the dnc is a big deal. But somehow the consultants still got paid!!

        The greek parallels are legion.

      2. L

        I’m not sure there is anything implicit about it. My read on her statements is that she squarely blames Obama for not building back up the war chest.

        That said I received a *lot* of funding requests from the DNC while Obama was in office, just as many as I do now. Either noone was giving or they were getting money but kept shoveling out as fast as it came in.

      3. readerOfTeaLeaves

        Wow, that Brazile link could easily have been in the Realignment and Legitimacy category, rather than the Postmortem category.

        The Postmortem and Realignment categories seem to be blurring. Or conflating.

        Also, Velshi and Rule (msnbc) is the best video report that I can find online about the new tax proposal. Reducing the mortgage interest deduction, along with state taxes deduction, easily fits into Realignment and Legitimacy, but may take time to reveal as such. Could we just rebrand it the “Tax Bill to Ensure Bernie Wins in 2020” bill…? If that’s the outcome it will produce, I’m all for it!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yes, they blur. The 2016 post mortem is a battle by proxy for control of the Democratic Party between:

          1) Clinton loyalists

          2) Obama loyalists

          3) The left

          Since the “deal in Denver” in 2008, the party has had divided leadership: Obama 2008 – 2016, Clinton 2016 – ?, with Clinton getting what she needs (State, control of the party apparatus) to make her run. Now that contradiction is playing out, and in the context of Sanders (from the left) being the most popular practicing politician in America, but Obama the most popular (semi- or quasi-) retired politician. And Obama stood up Perez and put him at the head of DNC for a reason that can’t possibly be good.

          That’s why calls to stop “relitigating” the 2016 primary are so foolish; it’s a power struggle!

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            I would alter slightly:
            1) Clinton loyalists
            2) Obama loyalists
            3) Bernie loyalists
            With category 3 being people who still think the party is redeemable, felt the Bern but didn’t mind his votes for Permanent War, Israel, etc.and his rollover for Clinton. But let’s not call that “the left”

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              I agree that Sanders supporters are not identical to “the left.” However, from being immersed in the Twitter wars, I see the central tendency of Sanders support as policy-driven. I see Sanders voters as amenable to Sanders 2.0 if the policy is there. So I deliberately chose not to personalize label #3.

      4. fresno dan

        Lambert Strether
        November 2, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        “Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC” [Donna Brazile, Politico]

        WOW! WOW!! WOW!!! WOW!!!!!

        Has a major, long standing apparatchik of a major party ever written something so devastating????
        I was shocked that Brazile split with Clinton, and I was super flabbergasted at the criticism of Obama – I never thought that would happen in a million years.
        So is this Brazile thinking she wants to give herself some legal cover??? or has she had a Paul on the road to Damascus conversion and truly realizes the democrats she has represented (Clinton and Obama and their neo-liberalism) are no better than repubs, and perhaps worse, and are killing the democratic party????
        Just astounding….

        1. L

          Or she knows that after hitching her waggon to Clinton’s Donner party and burning all her contacts at CNN she has no future in the party access business so she might as well cash in now while people will still pay to hear it.

        2. PKMKII

          I get the impression that she was a company woman through and through, in the sense of wanting to run the party as optimally as possible from an administrative and financial perspective. So she finds out once she takes over as the next patsy in line, that everything is a mess, over budget, subject to one pant-suitted authoritarian’s whim, the people responsible get away with it, and she’s left holding the bag. We can only assume that she was not included in the spoils, or at least not significantly enough.

        3. JohnnyGL

          Perhaps what we’re seeing is that Brazile is a party apparatchik….Clinton and Obama were looters…and the apparatchik is loyal to the party, and not the looters?

          Mostly, though, I figure, she’s pushing her book and reading the political winds of change and trying to do what she can to save her own political career.

          Would it be wrong to start thinking of Clinton and Obama as the private equity barons of the political sphere?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            After kicking out all those progressives, and now Clinton and Obama, who controls the party now?


  5. elissa3

    Re: Brazile. When I read the ZeroHedge headline, I first thought it was their usual sensationalist disconnect from the actual article. On reading the text, I thought “yeah, right”, this *must* be a parody. Then I clicked through to the Politico original. Wow, wow, wow. Best guess is that something big is coming at the DNC. And soon.

    1. fresno dan

      November 2, 2017 at 2:37 pm

      I hadn’t read your post, I was responding to Lambert, but “WOW” was my first impression too!!!!!! And I thought it was a parody too. Are WE positive she wrote that???

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      I thought it was a prank played on Politico. I’m still expecting James Keefe, the conservative jerk who makes those videos, to claim credit.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      From the article: “…This leaves students with no one. The students no longer have that safe teacher they can talk to. Instead the students must find a way to be sneaky and hide so that they don’t get reported…”

      Read the article, jaw dropped. Gave a call to an old school chum who teaches in that district, and -redacted- says there is a consensus amongst -redacted- peer group of teachers that this rule can go to hades…in a nanny-state-approved handbasket. So at least some of the teachers there are going to civilly disobey this directive, although given digital surveillance these days I mentioned that it probably shouldn’t have even been said over an open line, and that any hall/room cams, surreptitiously recording phones, etc. etc., would lead to bad things if/when they get searched by busybodies looking to get some heads for the trophy case.

      – redacted- audibly paused, and thought about that. Didn’t change -redacted-‘s opinion though. We shall see how it plays out. Protest attendance planned.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I’ll bet that the students are cooking up something like a Sex Day. Where they do nothing but talk about sex all day. To the point where the entire student body is talking about …

      … sex.

      What will the staff do then? Report every single student?

      Sometimes, the jokes just write themselves.

    3. Huey Long

      From the article:

      According to the Centers for Disease Control, 41 percent of high school students reported having sex in 2015, and the average age for someone to have sex for the first time is 17. But according to Oregon law, people under the age of 18 are not capable of making informed decisions about having sex, and therefore sex involving minors – including sex between consenting teens – is considered sexual abuse in Oregon.

      So now teachers are supposed to be stoolies and report kids they suspect are having sex, so that the state security apparatus can then investigate the kids and lock them up?

      Wow, and I thought things were bad in the old GDR!

    4. Oregoncharles


      Somebody at that district has very seriously lost their mind. I’ll be surprised if they aren’t ultimately fired over it.

      No, I don’t live in that district, though we do own property there and pay taxes for it, so they’ll be hearing from us.

      This goes in the incredibly-stupid-administrator file; talk about begging for trouble.

      1. Oregoncharles

        On further thought: this is butt-covering behavior on the part of the district. The real problem is the law, which, as usual, is an ass – despite a partial reform a couple of decades ago. Young people having sex is a subject our society is not yet grown up enough to deal with. I wonder whether Oregon’s law is worse than other states?

        It was still very foolish of the district to bring the matter up.

    5. The Rev Kev

      So let me see if I have this right. Sex involving minors – including sex between consenting teens – is considered sexual abuse in Oregon which means that not only will reported kids be guilty of a felony (is this right?), but the participants will considered sex criminals which will go on public record.
      That will destroy any hope of a meaningful job, much less a career, but that where they live in future will be available in many states as a matter of record online as they will have to register as a sexual offender.
      The teachers, meanwhile, will be regarded as snitches and it will not pay to have any personal interrelationships with them in case it backfires badly. Classrooms will be regarded as the place where trust goes to die. It’s a good thing that no teacher will ever use this new power to blackmail kids into sexual favours with them.

      1. JBird

        And it with further weaken whatever effectiveness sexual offender lists do have. The actual child rapists will be given less scrutiny by being mixed in with the ever growing numbers of “sexual offenders” who are not actually rapists or child molesters; people with any knowledge of their problems will have another reason not to even look at the lists.

  6. Bill

    robot minds don’t “wander”.
    they don’t have to be scolded in first grade for “not paying attention”

  7. Left in Wisconsin

    Here is another story on the outsourcing victory in Tennessee. Mike Elk, of Payday Report, is a labor reporter and it isn’t surprising that he focuses on the worker organizing angle. Which is essential. But the other key to the story is, as in so many outsourcing situations, that keeping these workers on the public payroll was actually cheaper than transferring the work to the private contractor – which in this case was required to “rehire” workers (who could pass drug-testing and other screening) at their existing rates of pay, though layoffs were forecast. Apparently, the savings through layoffs – oops, I mean “synergies” – were not sufficient to offset the profits of the contractor. Also, this contractor (Jones Lang Lasalle) already had the contract for some state offices and there were apparently already complaints about no soap or paper towels in the bathrooms after they took over. DOH!


    1. Huey Long

      As a former Jones Land LaSalle facilities employee I can personally attest that they are total scumbags and am glad that they are getting pushback on this contract.

      They were so bad at the particular building I was working at that even after eliminating all of our overtime and changing the whole shift structure to eliminate any potential overtime from sick call-outs, they still lost the contract to CBRE. Personally, I ended up on a shift that was Fri-Tues 0000-0800, 0000-0800, 0800-1600, 0800-1600 and found a new job ASAP. [FAMILYBLOG] you JLL!

  8. Vatch

    “Change in the Air” [Harvard School of Public Health].

    Another possible cause of nutrient reduction in plants is soil depletion. Big Ag fertilizers container nitrates, phosporus, and potassium, but do they contain calcium or magnesium? I wonder whether some foods have less of those minerals nowadays, in addition to the loss of some iron and zinc that is mentioned in the article.

    1. Bill

      Plus lack of microbes, bacteria and fungi in soil, microorganisms that are necessary for nutrient uptake in plant roots. What we have is sterile soil

      1. Vatch

        You make an excellent point. In the November 3 Links section, see this article:

        Farmers urged to bury their underpants to improve quality of their beef Daily Telegraph

        From the article:

        The Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) claim interring a pair of cotton smalls in a pasture can reveal vital information about soil fertility.

        According to the experts, sterile and lifeless soil will keep underwear intact, but organically thriving soil will eat away at the briefs, leaving nothing but the elastic waistband.

        Dig up the pants after just two months, and it is possible to judge how healthy the land is.

        . . . .
        “The cotton is the important thing, rather than the underpants.”

    2. A Farmer

      We add zinc to the nitrogen we apply at planting, because of zinc deficiency in the soil. We also are applying sulfur now, because with pollution controls we don’t get as much acid rain providing free sulfur (check out the maps). I don’t think we are adding iron yet, and my water would make me think we should be pretty good there.

    3. jawbone

      Just heard yesterday on WNYC (not sure when, some hourly news update, iirc) that the Trump administration is telling hydroponic vegetable growers that their products can be labled “organic.”

      I immediately asked the radio what consideration had been given to lack of micronutrients….

      Now, I’m not an expert on hydroponics and do not know for sure micronutrients are not included. Any experts here?

  9. lyman alpha blob

    More stupid from the Russiagate people – now our moron governor is apparently a Kremlin stooge: http://www.pressherald.com/2017/11/01/russian-facebook-pages-targeted-lepage/

    For those unfamiliar with the depths of LePage’s ignorance, this is regarding his nonsensical comments a while back that black drug dealers were sneaking in to Maine and impregnating all the white women. Apparently the world would never have known about it if not for the Russians on Fleecebook, despite the fact that his comments regularly make international news.

    This has to be one of the most fact-free articles I’ve seen on the subject but that doesn’t stop the true believers in the comment section which is usually dominated by semi-whacko right winger types. The wingers don’t put up much of a fight and fail to ask the obvious questions:

    Which “Russians” specifically were involved and were they they only ones who repeated LePage’s nonsensical ramblings or did many thousands of US affiliated posters also take Lepage to task for his abject stupidity? Is there any evidence that people from foreign countries other than Russia had accounts that posted political content and if so, is it illegal to do so, and if it is not , why is this being brought up at all?!?!?!?!?

    1. JBird

      “Black drug dealers are sneaking into Maine just to impregnate the white women and we know this because the Russians on Faceborg say so.”

      I have had racist friends and acquaintances who probably would have thought this a seriously strange thing to say.

      And he’s your governor? Yikes. You have my sympathy.

  10. Michael Hudson

    The Brazile Political article is a joke, right? Could she have really written that way? I think it’s a parody. But I’ll be glad to be told I’m wrong.

    1. Wukchumni

      That was my thought also, and upon a razors edge it walked like a Wallenda, and crossed to the other side so sneakily, who can be sure?

    2. nippersdad

      It appears that Politico excerpted parts of a Brazile book that is going to be out on the seventh for this article. If the rest of the book is anywhere as explosive as those excerpts, next week should have some great reading on the subject.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I still want to see it top that passage in Shattered, the one where they talk about “Russia! Russia! Russia” in a room littered with Shake Shack containers.

  11. D

    I can’t believe people would be incautious enough to do this (let alone, why take these photos in the first place?), but:

    Revenge porn: Facebook teaming up with Government to stop nude photos ending up on Messenger, Instagram [I prefer the more ‘factual’ title the Daily Mail gave it: Facebook wants to stop revenge porn by getting people to send in their naughty photos BEFORE they are put up on the site by vindictive lovers – D]

    Then again, I’m still horrified at the amount of people who signed up on Facebook to begin with, with no second thought, particularly those who had read some his infamous quotes. From the very jump, while at Harvard he expressed smug contempt for those who provided him with personal data.

    And what to say about a government which ‘partners’ with a multinational business – whose sole profit is collecting peoples intimate information – and advises its citizens to send links (no doubt hackable) to their most intimate pictures to that same company.

    I’ve got to log off now, increasingly I’m getting physically nauseous witnessing the unbridled power over everyone’s lives (especially those who don’t even peruse Facebook, et al) being given to Facebook, Google, Amazon, Thiel, Musk, etcetera, etcetera. Though Denton was a jerk himself, I miss Gawker’s Valleywag, which at least exposed the hideous personalities behind Big Tech, which is why Thiel shut it down.

    Sorry to post and run, but I need to go get a lobotomy.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      So what does this say about Australia and Australians that they’re trying it out on them first?

    2. ChrisPacific

      Or maybe they could work with the rest of the industry to come up with a set of common standards and a free, auditable, open source tool to generate the hash locally on your device, and share that?

      But no:

      “They thought of many different ways about doing this and they came to the conclusion as one of the major technology companies in the world that this was the safest way for users to share the digital footprints,” Ms Inman Grant said.

      Either they didn’t think very hard, they are suffering from an impressive degree of cognitive capture, or they are just outright lying. Take your pick.

  12. knowbuddhau

    Lightizer’s dictum, “You either are in the market, or you’re not in the market,” overlooks a third option, one I think Prof. Black would say is the best: own it.

    The Modern Golden Rule (coined only in 1965 in a comic strip, it turns out) and it’s inverse apply: they who have the gold make the rules, and they who make the rules get the gold.

    For my own part, all talk of serving the public interest from such like is on par with hospitality Las Vegas-style, where the unbelievably cheap steaks and booze are legendary.

    That’s not hospitality. That’s bait.

  13. Ted

    RE: Brazile

    Something has happened and the good ship Hillary seems to be in for some heap of trouble. To break so publicly with both Obama and the SS Clinton, and to suggest rather clearly that something was very wrong at the DNC last year or under DWS more generally suggests further that something else is about to break and Brazile knows it, moreover she wants to get out ahead of it. The question is what is it?

      1. John k

        What a sweet thought. One can only hope it drowns the pols, too.
        Hill would be shocked, just shocked.

        1. HotFlash

          As in, “I put up with that dam’ Big Dog fooling around for all these years and *this* is what I get?”

          An veritable avalanche of shoes!!

    1. Pat

      Considering the lead time for books, if there is something it must have been on the horizon for months. For instance the book was announced back in July.

      One thing that might be the cause is if Brazile is getting the same impression that I am – that 2018 is going to continue to be a losing situation for the DNC and Democrats overall. The Senate was always iffy, and it isn’t as if gerrymandered districts and voter suppression have changed or will change before November of next year. Perhaps she feels that breaking the current system not only covers her ass, but might even make it possible to change some things going into that election. Not that I think there is the will to do what they need to regarding candidate recruitment.

      1. Ted

        Yes, and we have the criticism of Dems by Tulsi Gabbard on Tuesday. That alone signalled a bit of the same old same old. Brazile is positioned from within the center of party establishment, signalling something more in the lines of a break with the DLC over something. Certainly getting serious about the midterms could be part of it. But then why toss Obama over too?

      2. AnnieB

        Another explanation for Brazille’s decision to write a tell all could be that she is royally pissed off, felt like a patsy, talked to her many loyal friends and decided she couldn’t let this one go and still keep her dignity. My take on her is that even though her integrity is shakey (lying re:Clinton questions) she thinks of herself as a righteous Christian. I’d bet she made the mental break from Clinton right after the election loss, if it’s true that Clinton raged at her.

      3. Big River Bandido

        One thing that might be the cause is if Brazile is getting the same impression that I am – that 2018 is going to continue to be a losing situation for the DNC and Democrats overall.

        For me this is well beyond an “impression”…the Democrats don’t have a chance in 2018, and I’m feeling pretty confident they won’t have it together by 2020, either. The current misleadership of the party won’t go gentle into that cold night. If Sanders chooses to run, I think his chances are about even of getting the nomination, but he’ll have to fight the party establishment every step of the way and he’ll be on his own if he does get the nomination. The party won’t help him. If he wins, he’ll have to defenestrate them once and for all, lest they destroy his presidency.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Brazile like Carville plays an entertainment stock character. Right before Donna called Sanders, she lit a candle and played some gospel music before giving advice to Bernie. She isn’t trying to be subtle anymore. Wow, she offered advice that Hillary was vulnerable! Who could have seen that? (eyeroll)

      If she is seen as unable to deliver sound advice, what can she offer? I noticed comments around her being brought back into the DNC revolved around her helping Hillary with the debate questions, not her years of failed campaign efforts. Her goal is present herself as someone able to divine the future.

      Without Bill and Hill, its only a matter of time before the rats turn on each other.

    3. GroundZeroAndLovinIt

      I think some kind of possibly large other shoe is going to drop related to the Podesta brothers. Tony Podesta quit his lobbying firm a few days ago when the Manafort indictment story broke. I don’t know nuthin’ of course, but it just feels like there’s something coming unmoored with SS Clinton Inc. Wouldn’t it be ironic if the Uranium One deal indiscriminately slays Rs and Ds alike?

  14. Summer

    I’ve been thinking about taxes and retirement plans. More and more I’m thinking of taking tax hits now rather than later, focusing on plans that won’t tax withdrawals in the future.
    Taxes are nothing now compared to what they will be in the future when all the fun and games are over.

    1. Pat

      No guarantee they won’t change things so that you wouldn’t take another tax hit even having paid it ahead so to speak.

      The mess is going to be bad.

      1. Summer

        No guarantees, but I’m figuring the gov’t will do more of takeback what they feel they’ve “given.”

  15. Wukchumni

    Boredom is often associated with loneliness, as we generally crave the company of one another to alleviate the pangs of being alone, but I find it to be the great provoker…

    “I have learned that In quiet places, reason abounds, that in quiet people there is vision and purpose, that many things are revealed to the humble that are hidden from the great.” ~ Adlai Stevenson

    1. PK

      I have my thoughts, so I am not alone.
      A boon companion is an active mind,
      Though what I’m thinking many would disown,
      But when have crowds and notions deep aligned?
      My neighbors for the rational ne’er cared
      Emotion fearing contemplation’s power
      Though pensive man has solitude impaired
      Yet boredom ne’er could steal from him an hour.
      Conclusions logical can cause unease
      In those who view life as a happy jaunt,
      Some strive all carnal appetites to please
      As stultifying ignorance they flaunt.
      To me then, introspection is sublime,
      The foolish see it as a waste of time.

  16. g

    Nothing about the Brazille article on either of the MSM outlets that I check in on today.

    Another thing I thought of. Could this have any effect on the ongoing lawsuit against the DNC? I can’t recall what stage that was at.

  17. Livius Drusus

    Re: the rehabilitation of George W. Bush, this is only remotely possible because the majority of Americans were not personally affected by Bush’s disastrous wars. Andrew Bacevich has pointed out how our all-volunteer military encourages a kind of spectator sport view of our wars. Most Americans have no direct skin in the game since they have no relatives or friends in the military and were never asked to pay any taxes or make any sacrifices so it is easy for them to forgive Bush and let the wars fall down the memory hole.

    As for the Democrats trying to win suburban Republicans I say good luck with that. Hillary Clinton probably maxed out the number of affluent suburbanites who are willing to vote for the Democrats and her gains with them could not offset her losses with working-class whites. But many Democrats have this belief that working-class whites are irredeemably racist and sexist but affluent white suburbanites aren’t, which is the funniest thing I have ever heard. They aren’t called “white flight” suburbs for nothing.

    In my experience affluent suburban whites are just as capable of racism, sexism and xenophobia as any working-class whites are. I suspect that professional-class Democrats don’t want to acknowledge this. It is disturbing to their worldview to acknowledge that the nice, smart, degree-holding person they work with or live next to can hold views that they find repugnant. It is much more reassuring to believe that all of the “deplorables” are poorly educated and live in trailer parks.

    1. HotFlash

      In my experience affluent suburban whites are just as capable of racism, sexism and xenophobia as any working-class whites are.

      I would say more, since they often do not actually *know* any non-white, non-Americans. And often, only a few well-behaved women. IOW, nothing to require revision of their stereotypes. Case in point, my mom (may she rest in peace).

      1. Huey Long

        I hear all about the “lazy Puerto Ricans” and “N-word Rich Blacks” frequently at my place of employment from suburban McMansion dwellers.

    2. Scott

      The effort to rehabilitate Bush is also likely the result of Democrats agreeing with him on the issues that he disagrees with Trump’s stated positions , like NAFTA, immigration, and Iraq (when Trump was running, he said he opposed the Iraq War, the truth is a different matter). Most corporate Democrats support more trade agreements, immigration and war.

    3. Huey Long

      Andrew Bacevich has pointed out how our all-volunteer military encourages a kind of spectator sport view of our wars

      I’ve noticed this too. I know plenty of folks that enjoy cheering on our armed forces as if they were some two-bit pro sports team and find it quite disturbing.

    4. Matt

      “Most Americans have no direct skin in the game since they have no relatives or friends in the military and were never asked to pay any taxes or make any sacrifices so it is easy for them to forgive Bush and let the wars fall down the memory hole.”

      Is this true? Our military is so large, I would imagine that most families have some connection to the military.

  18. todde

    the 401k and IRA are simply Wall Street subsidies to get money in Wall Streets hands.

    The ROTH IRA was created to keep it there.

  19. Summer

    Re: Korea

    For all the bluster and bravado, I just find it hard to believe the USA would do war and bombs (of any kind – since they are all dirty) that close to China. It’s not the China of the 1950s.

    1. Wukchumni

      When I was a wee lad my siblings and I were told to finish the food on our plates because people were starving in China, and they were, lots of them.

      I wonder how it colors Americans my age that mentally associate the middle kingdom with the old China, that can’t reconcile it in their minds to think of an advanced country now, certainly close to being our equal.

      1. barrisj

        Whenever the DPRK drops out of the noos for a few weeks, so does support for Big-Sticking the country upside its head…why do people find this so remarkable?

  20. John D.

    Donna Brazile is one of the most corrupt and self-serving political hacks operating right now. Whatever her motivation in opening fire on the S.S. Hillary (and Obama too!), I doubt it’s altruistic. So:

    (1.) Revenge? If that story linked to just above regarding HRC’s meltdown at Matt Lauer is accurate (and I’ll bet it is) and is typical of her behavior while campaigning (ditto) then I can’t imagine Clinton endeared herself to her staff overly much during the election.

    (2.) Cashing in while she still can? With a book apparently on the way, I can believe this particular angle would loom large. Ka-ching!

    (3.) Deserting a sinking ship? If Hillary isn’t running again, then she’s of no further use to Brazile, so why not dump her in a very public manner and try moving on to the next meal ticket? Heart-warming, isn’t it?

    (4.) Something “big” is on the way as people are speculating, and she’s trying to distance herself from the rest of the scum?

    (5.) All of the above?

    1. John k

      Rats have a finely tuned sense of self preservation… SS Clinton must be listing… senses bernie next winner… hoping to board…
      But pumping up book sales anyway useful between gigs…
      Unpaid former staffers likely to corroborate…

    2. Louis Fyne

      “No doubt in large part due to elite signaling like Schumer’s, Democrats now approve of Bush by a 51-42 margin”

      With such a short memory, there is no hope for the Democratic Party.

      I think that this is the Dems’/Obama’s legacy—-in that just as the GOP was on the cusp of destroying itself for the next 30 years due to the Iraq War and the 2007-8 Financial Crisis, Obama sweeps the GOP mess under the rug and pivots right after being sworn in. and quietly puts a pillow over single payer to pass ACA.

      Feature not a bug.

  21. Anonymized

    I’m leaving my garden to die, just like last year. Just leaving it alone and letting the cold kill everything eventually. I might get some cherry tomatoes out of it before sub-zero temperatures hit. It’ll probably be a pain in the butt clearing out dead brush in the spring but why do now what you can leave for later?

    1. polecat

      Your garden ‘area’ will not be dead .. but rather, fall into a state of renewal, whereby the various microbes, fungi, and insect life get down to recycling all that ‘dead’ plant matter into next year’s fertility. So think of Spring, and the future bounty ! … ‘:]

  22. Oregoncharles

    “and Mueller will find nothing in Trump’s finances that could be trouble for him if revealed. Anyone? I didn’t think so””

    The problem here is that that is true of essentially anyone in business, and lots, if not most, of us in private life. Although there’s reason to think Trump’s enterprises were on the shadier side,if only because of the businesses he was in, the claim is really a critique of the law and law enforcement.

    Which is one reason “fishing expeditions” are improper if not illegal.

    Digression: this is a fundamental criticism of the drug laws, especially pertaining to marijuana. Not only do they lead to a gigantic exception from civil liberties; they enable “law enforcement” (in scare quotes, always) to prosecute, and if need be to frame, essentially anyone they care to. And like alcohol Prohibition, they empower the underworld.

  23. EGrise

    Holy moley:

    The DNC owes Bernie Sanders and all Dems an apology – The Hill

    It was going along pretty well until this:

    Democrats must no longer tolerate the ineptitude and irrelevance of the DNC and must demand dramatic changes, including and especially bringing in a major player such as Howard Dean to spearhead a national party campaign to end the one-party Republican control of the House and Senate.

    1. EGrise

      …and I just got an email from Our Revolution, in Nina Turner’s name, subject: “It was rigged all along”

      1. johnnygl

        “rigged” seems like such an understatement after what brazile described. How about, “it was looted, waterboarded, bought, and turned into a money laundering vehicle for campaign funds and a slush fund for consultants”

    2. Summer

      I don’t know about their solutions being the solution to the rot, but at least D Brazil gives them a way of criticizing the DNC and Clinton without being called Russian stooges.

  24. Jim Haygood

    Today saw a new record high in the Dow Industrials, though not in other popular indexes.

    Crude oil closed at a six-month high of $54.54 a barrel, helping our RuSI (Russia Saudi Iran) index keep pace with the S&P 500. RuSI consists of a 50% weighting in Russia’s Micex index, a 30% weighting in Saudi Arabia’s TASI index, and a 20% weighting in Iran’s TEDPIX index. Chart:


    Exchange-traded funds RSX and KSA provide dollar-denominated, US-traded exposure to Russian and Saudi Arabian stocks in the RuSI index. Lacking an ETF, Iran’s total return stock index is converted into US dollars at the free market exchange rate. Americans aren’t allowed to invest in Iran.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Tehran stocks are so cheap (dividend yield around 10 percent) that they’ve no way to go but up from here.

        *presses nose to shop window glass to ogle forbidden merchandise*

  25. Oregoncharles

    ” I mean, it’s not like “pot” is a weed you can grow in your back yard.”

    Easy to grow, not so easy to process for good quality. Even growing it well can be complicated, especially if, for instance, the rains start before it’s fully mature, or mites get started. Mold is a nightmare. It’s definitely easier in Cali, since the climate is more conducive, but if you grow it “in the backyard,” subject to the weather, you have a huge project when it matures. Granted, it’s comparable with, say, canning a winter’s worth of tomatoes; but how many people actually do that?

    Legalization was sold, in part, as a way to get tax revenue for the state, so it’s hardly surprising that the state would treat it as a revenue source. Backyard growing and a bit of barter are certainly an alternative, for those who have a backyard.

    1. Arizona Slim

      A now deceased friend grew his pot on the patio overlooking his family’s pool. It was a gorgeous place. In the distance, we could see Pusch Ridge, which is quite striking at sunset.

      My friend grew the pot for smoking. It was the best thing he ever found for chemotherapy-induced nausea.

      RIP, Donald.

  26. allan

    It appears that the long promised elimination of the carried interest scam has gone missing from the tax plan.
    Coming soon to a milk carton near you. But where were the parents?

  27. Oregoncharles

    https:// http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/11/02/clinton-brazile-hacks-2016-215774
    ” Inside Hillary Clinton’s Secret Takeover of the DNC

    When I was asked to run the Democratic Party after the Russians hacked our emails, I stumbled onto a shocking truth about the Clinton campaign.”

    Brazile comes (sort of – note the continued Russophobia) clean, and hilarity ensues.

    Seriously: this is hilarious.

    I really don’t understand why anyone on the left would bother with the Democrats. It’s a right-wing party, and crooked to boot. Yes, alternatives are hard; fighting the whole party structure is easy? To say nothing of the record: 30 years, and it’s only gotten worse. Much, much worse.

    1. VietnamVet

      Donna Brazile’s article is totally weird; but only exceeded by Peter Daou’s tweet blaming it on the Russians. Clearly there are two parties getting corrupt kickbacks from the same source; rich profiteers. The Democrat’s problem is that they no longer provide benefits for their supporters; especially black women who were liberated when Michelle Obama became First Lady and then were subsequently dumped. No winners. No money. In the past, Populist’s Movements were incorporated into the major parties. The Republicans have done it with alt-right supremacists. Democrat establishment rejects doing it with Progressives since DNC consultants will lose their easy money. Her article hints that a faction of the Democrats may try to get back in the game by blaming Debbie Wassermann Schultz and firing her camp followers. Let’s hope it signals a return to the grass roots politics and a draining of the D.C. sewer.

      1. Dianne Shatin

        From your lips to G’d’s ears. ..the Democratic Party left behind working American behind..they’re all hat and no cattle. I remember JFK snd RFK snd MLK,
        and great leaders of the past. Few since.
        Senator Paul Wellstone was onr but Dicl Cheney sure to tske hom down.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Peter Daou’s tweet blaming it on the Russians

        Daou didn’t quite do that, if this is the tweet you have in mind. He addresses Hillary supporters in a pep talk:

        Of course, the Oxford comma — “leftist Hillary-haters, and the Russian trolls” — would have made Daou’s intent crystal clear…

  28. Wukchumni

    Romania was an odd duckling in the Soviet bloc, in that they had their very own dictator, didn’t always abide by Moscow (they participated in the 1984 summer olympics, for instance) and the country’s economy ran on Kent cigarettes…

    From 1987:

    “For other luxuries, western diplomats and Romanians have reported the following price list: A tailor-made suit: five cartons plus the fabric. An hour’s massage: one pack. A 19th-century icon: 25 cartons.

    “It’s not really like other currencies,” one young Romanian said. “I wouldn’t use it to buy just anything. It’s best as a payment for advice. If I needed to seek the counsel of a lawyer, I would pay him off in Kents. It would be perfect.”

    With recurrent shortages of meat, produce and energy throughout Romania, Kents are sometimes used to pay for these prizes. Under the counter, for instance, a carton of Kents can sometimes buy more than 20 pounds of fatty meat — or 10 of lean.

    In a pinch, Marlboro, Benson & Hedges, other western cigarettes or even Bulgarian brands can sometimes get what is needed.

    But not always. “If you try to use another western cigarette brand,” the Frommer’s guidebook “Eastern Europe on $25 a Day” warns the innocent tourist, “you’ll earn only blank stares from locals.””


    1. Huey Long

      My how things change! Kent cigarettes used to be a major brand but good luck finding them for sale these days. Same thing with Lucky Strikes, Chesterfields, etc.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        In Europe, those brand names are exotic, but here, the brand names conjure images of the 1950’s. Cigarette companies always liked to get them when they were young.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I’ll always respect Romania because of what they did with their dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu when the revolution came.

  29. Oregoncharles

    Holy mackerel: Lighthizer making good sense, and sounding like a progressive? What have we come to?

  30. allan

    That’s a nice unionized media site you have, it would be a shame if anything happened to it …

    DNAinfo, Gothamist shut down by CEO
    [The Hill]

    Billionaire Joe Ricketts announced Thursday that New York City news sites DNAinfo and Gothamist are shutting down, citing financial struggles just a week after employees voted to unionize.

    Reporters and editors at DNAinfo and Gothamist voted to unionize last week. Local news sites owned by Ricketts in Washington, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Chicago will also go dark. The websites’ archives have also been completely wiped, leaving no trace of past articles. …

    There’s a reason it’s called class warfare.

    1. Huey Long

      Holy Moley!!!

      They killed DNA and Gothamist?!?!

      I’ve read a ton of articles from these sites linked from streetsblog.org and will be sad to see them go.

      At any rate, I’m sure this will have a chilling effect on organizing media workers at other small publications, especially those run as hobbies by rich benefactors. I can already imagine the watercooler conversation:

      Worker 1: We should organize! I’m sick and tired of working OT for free and these crappy health benefits.

      Worker 2: Yeah, unpaid OT and lousy benefits suck, but look what happened when the Gothamist and DNAinfo workers formed a union. They got squashed!

    2. dk

      The folks at the LATimes are probably stressing out, I would be.

      I think this may be taken by other 0.1%ers, as a signal, a test of waters. If it is, I’d expect more draconian anti-union and related moves across industries in coming weeks/months. It’s also “holiday” season, when nobody with real money does much of significance besides balance the books as needed before/after the new year. So there’s a rationale sitting around to go with the precedent.

      And it’s really hard to get solid jobs until at least mid-February, mid-March in some industries; it’s pitch time, hire time cones afterwards. Which translates to anybody that got sacked this year will be stretched thin and desperate to work by the time hiring picks up in earnest. If you want to make an example, fire ’em around the holidays.

      Oh and speaking of general strike… May Day isn’t just some coincidence, it’s during a production peak, a time when a strike really hits the bosses in the pocket book. Striking in December or January has much less bottom line impact.

      Donna B’s tell-all (book may have more?) will also be taken as an affront by the supreme class. I think they’re pretty riled up right now. Trump gets to spout all kinds of crap and nobody with honor is close enough to stop him, this make other (as in real) oligarchs a bit envious, and ready to act out, at least on their own perceived turf.

      Yeah, I’m a worst-case kind of person. It means I get to sigh with relief more often. And the rest of the time, I’m more prepared, at least mentally/emotionally.

  31. Summer

    Maybe file the Mueller investigation and the new D. Brazil revelations under “When Swamp Creatures Attack Each Other..”

  32. Lee


    Elizabeth Warren on PBS Newshour just confirmed Donna Brazile’s admission that the Democratic nomination process was rigged and must be reformed.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Wake me when Bernie has something to say. Because those of us who were his supporters have already said quite enough.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t think he needs to say anything. Let the rats attack each other. A good deal is focused on the Sanders part, but the parts about the DNC money status are problematic for a great deal of people.

        1. dk

          Bernie couldn’t resist endorsing the “millionaire’s tax”.

          I think he’s really showing his age. I love the guy, have for years, but he’s tired and the fires have dimmed. He’s searching for legacy, trying to flush out a worthy successor, not that it’s De Blasio, I’m sure he realizes that (*scans horizon, mutters*).

    1. dk

      “Well Chris, I’ve always said, the Democrats have always been the more visceral party, we work things out in the public eye…”

  33. audrey jr

    I am not surprised that Phoenix is the city of choice for Waymo to test its ‘driverless’ cars. Phoenix city streets are set up straight north and south, east and west, with Central Avenue running north/south and Central is the dividing line between east and west in that city. For example, if you are 1 block east of Central you will be at 1st St. If you are 1 block west of Central you will be at 1st Ave. So east of Central are all “streets” and west of Central are all “avenues.” The grid pattern makes it easy to get around Phoenix. If you are a tourist looking for a certain address Phoenix’s layout makes it easy to know if you need to be west or east of Central Ave.
    That being said, Phoenix does not even begin to present the variables that will be needed by Waymo to test and enhance the capabilities of ‘self driving’ technology.
    I don’t believe that driverless cars will be as prevalent as many folk do in part because of the huge obstacles in obtaining material minerals needed for battery production en masse.
    On Donna Brazile: Her ‘confession’ certainly turns on a light regarding both Yves and Lamberts assertions that the DNC is indeed a cabal for self promotion of consultants and experts and for little else. Donna certainly confirms this take in her account.

  34. Veri

    Interesting thermodynamics article.

    I do hope they realize that the thermodynamic state of atoms is directly related to the topology of the physical object (atom), including taking into account the distribution of the electron cloud around the atom, itself. Dipolar effect and all, as minuscule as it is.

    Which would help explain the rebound phenomenon. Something along the lines of, “every action has an opposite reaction”, more or less.

  35. Tim

    That Donna Brazile article. She is saying Hillary bought control of the DNC for $10 million during an election year? I mean it isn’t prove but the conflict of interest in that arrangement is beyond arguable.

    No wonder the rest of the part outside the presidential campaign drowned in the election. All the money was siphoned up by Hillary’s campaign and for all that she still drowned herself. The self serving incompetence is mind boggling. These are the best our country can pick from?

    I just checked CNN, it’s 5 articles down from Mullen investigation articles…telling.

  36. pretzelattack

    now now i’m sure this is just more of the clinton foundation’s charitable outreach efforts, the dnc being just another grateful recipient; the clintons have helped so many! most charitable candidate evuh.

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