2:00PM Water Cooler 11/28/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Net Neutrality

“Ending net neutrality will destroy everything that makes the internet great” [NBC News]. “Try this scenario on for size: You wake up, reach for your phone, and head to your favorite news site to check the headlines. But instead of the latest news, you see a message from your cell phone carrier: ‘This site is not available. Please upgrade to our deluxe package to access it.'” Exactly. Or, “Your package does not include Naked Capitalism.”

“Comcast hints at plan for paid fast lanes after net neutrality repeal” [Ars Technica]. Shocker!

“More than 200 businesses and trade organizations have signed a letter to the FCC asking that the agency reconsider its plan to end net neutrality. The letter is signed by an array of big and recognizable tech and web companies: that includes Airbnb, Automattic (which owns WordPress), Etsy, Foursquare, GitHub, Pinterest, Reddit, Shutterstock, Sonos, Square, Squarespace, Tumblr (certainly to the displeasure of its owner, Verizon), Twitter, and Vimeo, among quite a few others” [The Verge].


“Executives from Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler were able to get an audience with Vice President Mike Pence on Monday, where they were able to “directly address the industry’s concerns with the administration’s rule of origin proposals,” they said” [Politico].

“Another study to add to the pile: BMO Economics, a division of the North American financial services giant, also found NAFTA withdrawal would hurt the auto sector. But unlike the C.D. Howe report, it concluded withdrawal could negatively affect the trade deficit with both countries and the rest of the world. That’s because withdrawal would likely hurt the value of the Mexican peso and the Canadian dollar more than the U.S. dollar, the report said. As a result, Mexican and Canadian imports would become relatively less expensive for U.S. consumers, and Mexican and Canadian buyers would have to pay more in their currencies to buy American-made goods” [Politico].



Democrat swag:

“Running in ‘Bernie Country,’ a former Obama and Clinton staffer battles for state Assembly seat” [Los Angeles Times]. “[Buffy] Wicks, who worked as a White House aide to former President Obama and helped steer Hillary Clinton’s victory in California, is now attempting to win a seat in the state Assembly. Some nicknamed her ‘Buffy the Bernie slayer’ during the primary. Wicks says now she appreciates what the Vermont senator has done for her party.” Of course she does.


“Alabama Senate Special Election – Moore vs. Jones” [Real Clear Poitics]. “Jones +0.8.” (11/22: Jones +0.8). Here is AL.com’s round-up.

“Alabama Republican Roy Moore has reopened a 49–44 lead over Democrat Doug Jones in the race for U.S. Senate. In Change Research’s third poll since the sexual misconduct allegations against Moore first surfaced on November 9, we found that he has completely erased the 3-point lead Jones had opened up in mid-November. Moore’s lead is now just as large as it was just after the story broke” [Medium]. “What has changed? The largest difference is turnout: many Republicans who ten days ago said they might not vote, now say they plan to show up on Election Day and vote for Moore.” A poll not averaged by RCP; looks like a Clinton shop, so perhaps this is a sort of push poll (amplified by Salon). Not that I’m foily.

“But once more the Democratic Party is starting late and doing too little. Of 902,000 voting-age African-Americans in Alabama, analyst Frank Watkins reports, 273,000 are unregistered. Another 15 percent — 143,900 — are disqualified due to felony convictions. The Democratic Party has spent little energy or resources in registering minority people of voting age. Many college students didn’t know that the deadline to register was Nov. 27, when most were away for Thanksgiving” [Jesse Jackson, Chicago Sun-Times]. And the deadline to register was yesterday.

“Voters like Luckie — reliable Republicans in the middle — will determine whether Moore or Democrat Doug Jones wins on Dec. 12. While Moore needs evangelicals to show up at the polls and Jones will rely heavily on black Democrats, a large swath of Alabama Republicans — typically Christian and conservative — holds the key to victory for both” [AL.com].

“Why Many Christian Conservatives Support Roy Moore” [Patrick Buchanan, The American Conservative]. They’re voting for Moore on policy, like good voters are supposed to do, no?


“‘Blowback’: Clinton campaign planned to fire me over email probe, Obama intel watchdog says” [FOX]. ” McCullough – who came to the inspector general position with more than two decades of experience at the FBI, Treasury and intelligence community – shed light on how quickly the probe was politicized and his office was marginalized by Democrats…. [T]he former inspector general, with responsibility for the 17 intelligence agencies, said the executive who recommended him to the Obama administration for the job – then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper – was also disturbed by the independent Clinton email findings. “[Clapper] said, ‘This is extremely reckless.’ And he mentioned something about — the campaign … will have heartburn about that,” McCullough said.” Indeed.

Hillary Clinton interviewed at WaPo: “So even what he told people was a fraud. It’s in keeping with his bankruptcies and his Trump University. He is a con artist, and that’s what [“]Mike[“] Bloomberg called him at our convention and every day that goes by seems to prove that” [WaPo]. Clinton is relentlessly on message in her appeal to Republicans, isn’t she?

“What Hillary Clinton Taught Lauren Duca About Feminism” [Teen Vogue]. (Clinton was guest editor of the December 5 newsstand edition.) “It took me years to unpack the lies I’d been told about feminism and about Hillary. Gender inequality was so aggressively denied in the 2016 campaign, it was easy to lose sight of the most concrete examples. For me, the most grounding and concise description came from Rebecca Traister, who asked, during a panel at Rutgers University in spring 2017, ‘If we only have a problem with Hillary Clinton, not with women, why is she the only woman who has ever gotten this far?'” Because she started with the advantage of eight years in the White House as co-President with Bill Clinton, a privilege no other woman has been afforded?

Trump Transition

Tax “reform”:

“Senate Republicans are hoping to pass their tax plan this week, but it won’t be easy, as the Wall Street Journal identifies three blocs of wavering GOP senators. “One group, including Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) and Steve Daines (R., Mont.), wants deeper tax cuts for so-called pass-through businesses such as partnerships and S corporations that pay taxes on individual rather than corporate tax returns… Another group, including Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.) and James Lankford (R., Okla.), is concerned about the $1.4 trillion addition to budget deficits the bill would cause… A third group, including Susan Collins (R., Maine) and John McCain (R., Ariz.), helped kill the Republican health-care bill earlier this year and could pose resistance over a variety of provisions, including plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act’s health-insurance mandate as part of the tax bill” [NBC News]. “To pass, Republicans need 51 votes, meaning they can afford only two defections with their 52-48 majority.”

“[Susan Collins, the] moderate from Maine is the only Republican senator from a reliably Democratic-leaning state, and as such she’s always a difficult vote for party leaders. While Collins was initially warm to the tax bill, she has turned sour after party leaders opted to add repeal of the Obamacare individual mandate to help limit deficits” [Bloomberg]. “Collins said it’s a mistake to ax the mandate in tax legislation, fearing that it’ll cause healthy people to drop their coverage and drive premiums higher for others — the same reason she cast a pivotal vote to block an Obamacare repeal bill in July. ‘I hope that will be dropped,’ she said recently.” Plus thumbnails of other Republicans, as in the article above. Here is Bloomberg’s continuously updated story.

“Senate passage of a big tax bill, whether it is actual reform, as House Speaker Paul Ryan and many other conventional Republicans want, or just a huge tax cut, as President Trump and many of his backers are urging, is highly problematic. Keeping 50 of the 52 Republicans on board for anything, which would allow Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie, is quite a challenge even under the best of circumstances. The GOP may be one party, but it is composed of ideological factions that often have antithetical interests” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. Good also on how the Republicans can position themselves for 2018.

“With administration and leadership aides frantically negotiating with holdout senators, the Senate’s tax vote scheduled for late this week could lapse into next week. That would raise everyone’s blood pressure: Everything is fragile” [Axios]. And: “House leaders are insisting on a conference committee to work out the vast differences between the two chambers’ tax bills: They say they don’t have the votes for the Senate bill, and won’t swallow it whole.That’s a whole new minefield.” Pass the popcorn.

“Pelosi, Schumer pull out of White House meeting over spending” [WaPo]. “The decision by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) to back out of a meeting with Trump came a few hours after he signaled in an early-morning tweet Tuesday that he is unlikely to bend to requests by Democrats in talks over how much more money the federal government may spend in the coming years and on pressing concerns regarding immigration and health care. ‘Meeting with ‘Chuck and Nancy’ today about keeping government open and working. Problem is they want illegal immigrants flooding into our Country unchecked, are weak on Crime and want to substantially RAISE Taxes. I don’t see a deal!’ Trump tweeted. In response, Schumer and Pelosi said that ‘rather than going to the White House for a show meeting that won’t result in an agreement,’ they’ve asked to meet alone with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.).” Alone?

Interesting from Yglesias:

I’d say that we don’t need “interest groups” when squillionaires can just buy what they want, but that doesn’t really give an account of the failure to repeal ObamaCare (at least legislatively).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“How to Topple a Dictator” (interview) [Erica Chenoweth, The Nation]. From February 2017, still germane:

What does the success of a civil-resistance movement depend on?

[CHENOWETH:] Generally speaking, successful civil-resistance campaigns have four things in common: the continual growth of the number and diversity of participants; the ability to elicit loyalty shifts among the opponent elites and their supporters; the innovation of new methods rather than reliance on a single method; and the ability to remain resilient, disciplined, and united in the face of escalating repression.

Assuming arguendo that “the resistance” is in fact a case of a civil resistance movement as Chenoweth understands it, I’m dubious that it has met any of Chenoweth’s criteria, especially innovation of new methods. (Indivisible’s handbook, for example, amplifies old methods, not that there’s anything wrong with calling your Congress critter.) There’s enormous ferment out there, but a “civil resistance movement”? On the level of, say, ACT-UP? No.

“A Mafia State Within a Totalitarian Society” (interview) [Masha Gessen, The Atlantic]. This exchange:

GESSEN: “What we have seen now of what Russia did in the campaign is mostly ridiculous. And yet the way that Americans have reacted to it—or a large number of Americans have reacted to it—has actually elevated Putin exactly to the level of the Bond villain that Putin aspires to be….

GOLDBERG: Are you surprised that American liberals now are on the Russia-paranoia bandwagon?

GESSEN: I am really surprised, and I’m really disappointed.”

“The word “complicit” — defined as “choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others” — is Dictionary.com’s word of the year. That’s thanks in part to the fact that lookups for the word increased by nearly 300% in 2017 as compared to 2016. (Past words of the year have included xenophobia in 2016 and identity in 2015.)” [Moneyish].

“Franken’s apology fails the full candor test” [Star-Tribune]. “Franken’s apology is less a statement of accountability and more akin to ‘I’m sorry for what you think I did.’ …

“Robert Reich: The Poor Are Being Barred From Voting. And That’s Unconstitutional” [Newsweek]. True, and a problem the Democrats have done squat about for at least 17 years (since Florida 2000). Which is why — in addition to staying in their class comfort zone and ideological compatibility — the Clintonites are appealing to suburban Republicans. They have no place to go.

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, November 2017: “Consumer confidence continues to soar, at 129.5 in November which is a new 17-year high and easily surpasses Econoday’s top estimate” [Economic Calendar]. “Wage growth has been limited but so has price inflation which perhaps is another factor boosting income expectations. In any case, consumer confidence as measured by this report and others is enjoying its best run in a generation.” And: “Dow Jones and Reuters were both calling for an expected drop” [247 Wall Street]. And: “The U.S. economy is on fire. Growth has hit 3% for two quarters in a row and the streak could reach three for the first time since 2004-2005. Unemployment is at a 17-year low and the biggest problem in the labor market is a shortage of skilled workers. Americans haven’t felt this good about the economy since the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency” [MarketWatch].

Gallup US Economic Confidence Index, November 2017: “Economic confidence rose last week among various demographic and political subgroups, including some that have been pessimistic about the economy this year” [Econoday]. “Nearly four in 10 Americans (37 percent) described the economy as “good” or “excellent” during the latest week, while 19 percent characterized it as “poor.” As a result, the current condition component rose five points to plus 18, tying its highest level since Gallup began tracking economic confidence in 2008.”

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, November 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District expanded at an unexpectedly strong pace in November” [Econoday]. And: “The Richmond Fed subcategories were positive, The data is much better than last month” [Econintersect].

Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price Index, September 2017: “Home prices continued to rise in September in what, however, are mixed signals from this morning’s FHFA and Case-Shiller reports” [Econoday]. “Taking these two reports together, home prices appear to be steady at a roughly 6 percent annual rate which is rich in a low inflation, low interest rate economy.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices, September 2017: “Case-Shiller data came in at the high end of expectations” [Econoday]. “Details in the Case-Shiller report show wide strength with all 20 cities posting monthly gains led by Atlanta, San Francisco and Las Vegas at all 1 percent or more. Seattle continues to dominate in the year-on-year category…. Where there’s acceleration in Case-Shiller, there is however slowing in FHFA.” And: “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers. This is the highest year-over-year growth since July 2014” [Econintersect].

International Trade in Goods, October 2017 (Preliminary): “October’s goods deficit was much higher-than-expected” [Econoday]. “The details speak to weakness with exports down 1.0 percent, reflecting declines for food products and capital goods, while imports rose 1.5 percent on increases in industrial supplies and, once again, consumer goods.” And: “While this is a wider deficit, investors have seen deficits for three decades now. These reports rarely move the markets, but they can cumulatively ratchet up or down expectations for GDP forecasts if the disparities are large enough” [247 Wall Street].

State Street Investor Confidence Index, November 2017: “Global institutional investor appetite for equities continued to wane in November” [Econoday]. “The minor decline in global sentiment was driven by a steep drop of 12.0 points in the European component.” Brexit?

Wholesale Inventories, October 2017 (Preliminary): As above [Econoday].

Retail Inventories, October 2017 (Preliminary): “Preliminary inventory data for October show draws for both retailers and wholesalers, at minus 0.1 percent and minus 0.4 percent respectively which are both negative for GDP” [Econoday].

Retail: “Industry analysts RetailNext Inc. say store foot traffic during the [Thanksgiving and Black Friday] holiday period fell 4% from last year, while Adobe Systems Inc. estimates online sales increased 18% over the period. The change is hitting supply chains in new ways this year, with many retailers looking to more aggressively calibrate the stocking and pricing of goods both online and in stores” [Wall Street Journal]. “[B]road measures, including the inventory-to-sales ratio, suggest retailers are keeping shipment counts low even with their expectations high.”

Shipping: “The seasonal rush is off to a fast start at warehouses and fulfillment centers, with some companies reporting heavy demand that’s jammed back-end operations. Logistics providers were offering extra incentives and catered meals to keep pick, pack and ship lines moving” [Wall Street Journal]. “Deutsche Post AG’s DHL Supply Chain ramped up from 200 workers to 2,500 at an Ohio fulfillment center it runs for Toys ‘R’ Us and is lining up $10,000 in worker giveaways that include flat-screen TVs during the peak season. Logistics firm Radial, which handles fulfillment for many online retailers, says orders were so heavy at one of its two Northern Kentucky warehouses that the shipments jammed a conveyor belt.” “Worker giveaways….” Idea: Wages, benefits, working conditions?

Shipping: “‘The primary driver of the supply/demand tightness is the economy-wide shortage of skilled, blue collar labor,’ [says Stifel Nicolaus trucking analyst John Larkin]. ‘It has become very challenging to find drug free, compliant drivers given today’s driver wages'” [Logistics Management]. “‘While driver pay scales began to rise in the 2nd half of 2017, the starting point for wages was so low, that it may take multiple wage hikes before we see any alleviation of this chronic challenge.'” “Compliant”?

Shipping: “A monthly index of truckload line-haul prices in October increased 5.5 percent from the year-earlier period, hitting the highest level since the index was formed in 2005, according to data published late yesterday” [DC Velocity].

Transportation: “Global sales of battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) totaled more than 764,000 units in the first nine months of this year, up 46% compared with sales in the same period last year. September unit sales topped 120,000 units to set an all-time monthly sales record” [247 Street]. “The data were reported last week by research firm EV-Volumes, which noted third-quarter growth was strongly influenced by growth in China, the United States and Europe. Toyota’s Prius Prime PHEV was an instant best-seller in Japan…. The top-selling vehicle in the third quarter was the BJEV EC180 EV from China’s Beijing Automotive group with sales of nearly 20,000 units. The Tesla Model S sold more than 14,000 units in the quarter to finish second in the rankings, while China’s Zhi Dou D1/D2 EVs with sales of nearly 14,000 ranked third. ”

Transportation: “Lowell, Ark.-based J.B. Hunt plans to use the [Tesla Semi] electric tractors for its intermodal and dedicated contract services divisions to support operations on the West Coast, the company said. ‘Reserving Tesla trucks marks an important step in our efforts to implement industry-changing technology,’ J.B. Hunt president and CEO John Roberts said in a statement. ‘We believe electric trucks will be most beneficial on local and dray routes, and we look forward to utilizing this new, sustainable technology'” [DC Velocity]. (Drayage: “transporting goods a short distance via ground freight.”)

The Bezzle: “Harry Glasbeek on the Corporation as Criminal” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. “Law has lost its integrity when it comes to corporations. In the corporate sphere, we make responsibility disappear. And the primary tool is through limited liability for shareholders. We should tackle it head on. There is no good reason to grant shareholders limited liability. We should say to shareholders – you should be responsible, just like anybody on the street is responsible for their actions. That would be a vast improvement.”

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk says he’s not bitcoin’s mystery man Satoshi Nakamoto” [MarketWatch]. Noted.

Mr. Market: “Short Activism: The Rise in Anonymous Online Short Attacks” [The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation]. “In recent years, anonymous online hit pieces against public companies have become an increasingly common and effective form of short activism. Given their success in driving down stock prices, anonymous online short campaigns are likely here to stay. Anonymous online short attacks pose unique challenges to public companies. In order to defend successfully against anonymous online short attacks, public companies must have ready-to-execute plans in place—whether or not an online short attack appears imminent.” Hmm.

Five Horsemen: “All five horsemen are trading at or near record highs, as the beat goes on” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Nov 28

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 57 Green (previous close: 51, Neutral) [CNN]. One week ago: 54 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Nov 28 at 10:00AM.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“How Southern socialites rewrote Civil War history” [Vox]. “The United Daughters of the Confederacy, a women’s group that was formed in 1894, led the effort to revise Confederate history at the turn of the 20th century. That effort has a name: the Lost Cause. It was a campaign to portray Confederate leaders and soldiers as heroic, and it targeted the minds and identities of children growing up in the South so they would develop a personal attachment to the Confederate cause.”

Health Care

“Grassley’s passion is needed on children’s health insurance program” [Des Moines Register]. CHIP: “[A] dysfunctional Congress is putting insurance for these children in jeopardy. Lawmakers missed a Sept. 30 deadline to extend funding to the popular program. Now it’s running out of money for the first time since its creation. …Officials in nearly a dozen states plan to begin notifying families this week that the health insurance program may come to an end.” Not just Grassley. How about Schumer? (Or, for that matter, Clinton. I didn’t have time to listen to Capeheart’s entire interview with Clinton, noted above in “2016 Post Mortem,” but I can say his account doesn’t mention CHIP.)

“Barely Swimming: Systemic Burdens that Ravage Nurses” [Left Voice]. “One morning, I bumped into a veteran nurse I knew in the hall. Miss James was old school as old school gets: wore her nurse’s hat, crisp knee-length skirt, white stockings, and Guyanese accent proudly. I floated to her unit a few weeks back and she looked out for me, gave me the code to the bathroom, showed me where they kept the hypos. She wore a mini portable fan around her neck ‘to keep me cool when it heat up’ and carnival beads as a lanyard. Her back was straight as a rod and she stalked through the unit like someone who handled it. That morning, she looked wrecked. After a tight hug, she looked into my eyes with her tired ones.”

“Taken For A Ride? Ambulances Stick Patients With Surprise Bills” [Kaiser Health News]. “Forty years ago, most ambulances were free for patients, provided by volunteers or town fire departments using taxpayer money, said Jay Fitch, president of Fitch & Associates, an emergency services consulting firm. Today, ambulances are increasingly run by private companies and venture capital firms. Ambulance providers now often charge by the mile and sometimes for each ‘service,’ like providing oxygen.” Pretty soon they’ll introduce “Premium” charges for enough oxygen [gasp, choke].

Class Warfare

“Private jets and golden parachutes: The L.A. Times Guild asks, ‘Where is the money?'” [Los Angeles Times Guild]. “[A] great deal of money continues to flow into The Times, because of the high-quality journalism our newsroom produces every day. At a recent all-hands meeting, Ross Levinsohn said Tronc still earns $1.5 billion in annual revenue and remains profitable. The problem is that a disproportionate amount of those profits are lavished on the salaries and perks for Levinsohn and a handful of other richly compensated Tronc executives.”

“Why a leading political theorist thinks civilization is overrated” [Vox]. Interview with James C. Scott, author of Against the Grain. Scott: “I think the standard narrative is that once we had domesticated plants, then we immediately shifted to an agricultural society so that we could stay in the same place. People also assume that before the agricultural revolution, humans had to wander around as foragers and hunter-gatherers. But that’s not quite right. Four thousand years passed between the first firm evidence of domesticated plants, cereals, and the beginning of truly agrarian communities that are living largely by agriculture. The other mistake, which I had never thought about, was this assumption that we couldn’t wait to settle down, that this was part of the inevitable progress of humanity. That’s not true at all, and it certainly could have gone another way.” I’m working my way through Scott’s book, and it’s really interesting. (Although, I suppose of I were Michael Pollan, I’d ask if we domesticated grains, or if grains domesticated us.) Well worth a read. Scott speculates a lot, but in a grounded way.

About Electronic Arts:

Exploitation! Well, I never!

News of the Wired

“Ciao, Chrome: Firefox Quantum Is The Browser Built for 2017” [WIRED]. I’ve downloaded it, no time to mess about with it yet…

“Looking at William Henry Fox Talbot’s Pioneering Photographs—Without Causing Them to Disappear” [The New Yorker]. “These traces of failed and faded images make evident the challenge that Talbot spent his life working to solve: finding a way to take and then fix photographs on paper.” Today, unreadable media and obsolete formats destroy digital images…

Zeitgeist watch:


* * *

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 (Re Silc):

Re Silc writes: “View across the bunker in stamford, VT.”

That view will be pretty when it snows, too.

* * *

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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. John

    Re: Ciao, Chrome: Firefox Quantum Is The Browser Built for 2017

    It automatically installed over my previous version of Firefox, so I’ve got it by default. It might be a bit faster… Otherwise, it’s a browser. I donno, I must be getting old.

      1. Adrienne

        Quantum was delivered as a silent “upgrade” and broke 80-90% of extensions. There was no warning to back up data or functionality. Take a look at the support forums and you’ll find hundreds of new posts every day from angry and frustrated users.

        Mozilla really [family blog]ed up. The huge extension library was a primary reason that people used Firefox, and their new APIs require complete re-writes for every extension. Many developers won’t bother as they’re doing it for free, so the extention library will likely be a shadow of its former glory, maybe permanently. Too bad, Firefox was a great browser, and I refuse to use Google’s spyware browser.

        1. drexciya

          Totally agreed on this. I really like NoScript and it didn’t work after the update. I reverted to the ESR version eventually, and I’ll wait for my favorite add-ons to work, before I’ll move to the new Firefox version.

      2. Steve

        Here I thought I’d have to dig through a lot of comments to find this thread. FF Quantum must have really hit a lot of people.

        When FF ascended to Quantum, my laptop ground to a halt. Admittedly, it is 10 years old, but it has 4G ram. Cannot deal with Quantum.

        That on top of losing my add-ons made me roll back to the previous rev and freeze it. I did look at other browsers (Vivaldi might be good), but as far as I can tell there is only one way to have tabs under the address bar–FF with the right add-on. Bummer.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I have Facebook segregated in Vivaldi. YMMV, but I don’t think the fit and finish are there. I like my bookmarks in a sidebar, for example, not a full page. Small stuff, but every second count…

    1. Matthew G. Saroff

      Mozilla saw how Google made Chrome the most popular browser on the face of the earth, and decided to copy it.

      The problem is that Google did this by leveraging its market dominance in search, email, cloud documents, etc., not by making a better browser. (Though Chrome does not have FF’s bloat problems)

      FF57 is faster, but it has eliminated the customization nature of the product through add-ons,

      So, things like FEBE profile backup, FireFTP, Classic Theme Restorer, Session Manager, BBCode, and DownloadThemAll.

      Note that for most of these, Mozilla has no plans to expand the scope of WebApps, because they want a tighter control of the user experience.

      Sticking with 56 for now, though I do have a portable installation of 57, and will probably move to a Firefox fork like Pale Moon.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        It’s slow and ugly. The Wired promo is all over the Internet, even I tried it, cynic that I am. Don’t bother.

        1. Jason Boxman

          And the Wired article is offensively dismissive about Opera. And it wouldn’t have his problem of not working with his CMS whatever, because it’s based on Chromium like Chrome.

      2. ewmayer

        “Sticking with 56…” — Ha, I’m sticking with v22! Why so far back? Because that was the last version before the weenies at Mozilla decided to eliminate user control over image loading from the Preferences menu, requiring us low-bandwidth “substantive content fetishists” to jump through hoops to try to emulate what previously a simple checkbox did. (Yes, I know someone wrote an add-on which trries to compensate for the lost checkbox as a result of said “update”, but it also has problems, e.g. I can’t selectively enable images for just one article without affecting other open ones.)

        I’ve also been stuck at OS X 10.6.8 for years on my macbook – when my original 2009-vintage macbook’s HD (since swapped into multiple cheap-used macbook classic chassis as various systems’ mobos died) died this past summer I had occasion to compare replacements preloaded with 10.6.8 and 10.7.5, and can say the latter, newer one represents a significant crapification – I can’t even use certain really common tools which work problem-free under 10.6.8 on it because under 10.7.5 the system simply grinds to an effective halt when I do so.

        Yours truly,
        The Upgrade Luddite

    2. kees_popinga

      The Firefox developers imitate Apple and Google in various ways. For example, when the new Firefox overwrites the previous version it breaks many plugins. No warning, just “let us suggest an alternative plugin … sorry, there is none” after the upgrade is a done deal.

      Update: I see Matthew has covered this. I am also sticking with 56, but eventually I’ll have to “keep up.”

    3. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, my Firefox got upgraded a coupla days ago as well. If it weren’t for the extensions I would find another browser due to its long standing memory leak problem. It’s kinda like democracy. It is the worst out there – until you compare it to all the others. I can see where they are coming from as genuine change is needed from time to time such as the elimination of DOS and the switch from 32-bit to 64-bit. What riles me is change for the sake of change and would you believe that with my extensions, the Firefox upgrade broke the Google page? If it keeps up I may have to track down and install the Mosaic browser.

  2. epynonymous

    Re: videogame price exploitation

    I can’t site anything, but I think the obsessive otaku MMO culture of Japan began the whole microtransactions. I don’t know which game, but I feel the stories of people paying to win in Japan goes back further than 2009.

    The Nintendo company has lost lots of ground to Sony’s more adult-oriented Playstation, which in turn lost ground to the Xbox by Microsoft. However, Nintendo has always been masters of artificially limiting supply to drive hype and prices.

    Here’s a good story on it from the 20/20 program from 1988.


    In contrast is the ‘competitive gaming market’ such as Blizzard. In World of Warcraft and Diablo, huge measures have been taken to prevent ‘pay to win’ as a threat to the integrity of the game.

    The StarCraft series has just been released as freeware. (probably minus the DLC for single player story campaigns.) in order to maintain a healthy player base for the franchise.

    1. Deschain

      Free to play and its inevitable cousin pay to win actually originated in Korea in 1999.

      Pay to win is more tolerable in free games (sometimes). It’s when it gets inserted into a $60 game that people start getting seriously upset.

      Asians (especially the Chinese) are actually more OK with pay to win than Westerners. I suspect it’s because they never bought into our meritocratic fiction.

      1. MtnLife

        I’d say you can break pay-to-win down into further categories of pay-to-win-faster (something you can pay for that can be done without money) and pay-to-win-at-all (I’ve paid for a couple turn based strategy apps where, a couple of boards in, you have to buy units to be able to have a prayer of winning the standard single player mode). I started getting annoyed at in game purchases back in Oblivion when they put a door in the mages guild that couldn’t be opened without paying. It felt like an intentionally incomplete game. It is one thing if DLC adds some far flung area into the map that didn’t previously exist, it’s another thing entirely to have to pay to enter an existing map area. Personally, I would rather pay a few bucks more at the start than get nickel and dimed to death for things that should have been there from the start. Skins I could care less about. Items that affect gameplay matter.

    2. Daryl

      Diablo 3 incorporated “pay to win” originally, in the form of auction houses that ran on real money. They were later removed from the game.

      Actually, now that I think of it, the secondary market for WoW, Diablo 2 and other online games was probably in some senses the forerunner for microtransactions. I.e. it allowed and encouraged companies to think, well, money is already screwing up the balance, might as well make sure we get a cut of it.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Watching that Wilson Lootbox video, I just realized that EA has basically gutted itself. If the business is really about online gambling and you are not even developing new titles, then that strategy means that executives will keep doing the same thing until they can cash out as individuals and let their successors deal with the wreckage. Who cares so long as you are sitting on your bonuses and have cashed out your stock and exposure to that business. Sounds like StarCraft at least has woken up to the perils of letting your franchise wither on the vine.

      1. Indrid Cold

        EA is pretty universally loathed by gamers so nobody will mourn if the flame out. Or become a PE cash cow like Guitar Center. Or are they already?

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > executives will keep doing the same thing until they can cash out as individuals and let their successors deal with the wreckage

        Again, excellent real-world training!

  3. hemeantwell

    Which is why — in addition to staying in their class comfort zone and ideological compatibility — the Clintonites are appealing to suburban Republicans. They have no place to go.

    Adolph Reed, in talking about the changing nature of black political leadership, refers to a column Matt Bai wrote about Obama in 2008, in which Bai characterized old-line black leaders as tending to arise out of movements and so in some sense were representative of them, while Obama was representing to groups on behalf of a detached power elite. If that’s accurate, could it be that Obama-era black (mis)leadership simply doesn’t have the pull, and so once Obama leaves office, bfppt? This would complement Obama’s widely recognized failure subsequent to 2008 to do sufficient party development work.

  4. Propertius

    Your package does not include Naked Capitalism.”

    It doesn’t have to be that blatant. If Naked Capitalism loads slowly or times out frequently, people will stop reading it. It’s just human nature. And, I suspect, the shakedown will mostly be applied at the other end of the transaction (i.e., charging websites for access to the fast lane).

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      If it does get to that point, I’ll say “Screw ’em all to the wall” and cancel my internet service (and I’ve got 6 RFCs fercrissake).

    2. Code Name D

      Oh, that is only just the beginning. Imaging trying to log into your local medical insurance exchange, only to find out your package doesn’t include it. So now you have to update your package in order to log into the exchange. Oh, you wanted to access that on your phone too? That will be another update. Opps, you are out of your travel area, so your google maps no longer works. Ah, and you have some $5,000 dollars’ worth of accumulated music on the stored on the cloud? Well the going rate to access that will be 5¢/M. How about a drug rehab center? Sorry, pardon our construction, service coming soon.

      Rolling back net neutrality is going to hurt in ways we haven’t even begun to guess at. A lot of small business have begun using cloud computing because it saves on building infrastructure. There will suddenly be tolls to access your data found on the cloud, not to mention slowdowns. Many phone and computer apps depend on network access for faciality. The internet also connects unique systems such as earthquake warning and alert networks. Here in Kansas, tornado sirens are connected wirelessly, now will they work? And if they are knocked off line, how reliable will the networks be getting them back on line? Power and water meters work wirelessly now. Will those systems be affected? Small scale county and city dispatch systems increasingly use the internet and wireless networking systems. Will they be affected?

      Rolling back net neutrality could deliver a substantial disruption, directly impacting infrastructure.

      1. Mark P.

        It’s a big question, isn’t it? They call it ‘net neutrality’ but everything — voice telephony, electronic payment systems, IoT infrastructure, cloud — travels Internet packet mode over fiberoptic 99 percent of the way.

      2. Fiery Hunt

        This has been coming for a long, loooong time. Anyone could see this “first taste is free…” con a mile away.

        Sorry, but there was no flippin’ way I was going to run my business dependent on some corporation’s benevolence. No cloud, no paperless accounting, no putting my wallet and privacy out there for the inevitable bend-over-the-barrel-if-you-want-access scheme. Wait til they start tiering Facebook for business…

    3. The Rev Kev

      Here are a few other points to consider. What if by eliminating net neutrality, they reproduce the same pay-to-win scenario as mentioned in today’s stories about the gaming industry. If you are rich you get the whole internet. If not, you get a walled-garden sort of internet with download speeds from the 1990s. Whether in the gaming industry or a newer net-biased scenario, it would be like playing chess against someone who at any stage could pull out their wallet and buy an extra queen for their side. Maybe search results for Naked Capitalism will be de-ranked along with RT and Sputnik and apparently a whole bunch of other sites because of the package that you could afford.
      A commentator said recently that he and his wife were talking about getting a new washing machine, I believe, while one of these smart devices was listening. Shortly after they started getting ads for them on their devices. What if, in the same way that millions of Americans can be arbitrarily struck of voting rolls without consequence, you can get bans from your own internet (and I mean ALL of your internet) for an “inappropriate” comment or joke or whatever that you either wrote or that your listening Alexa or Echo overheard you make. That happens with online games. Tell me that it could never happen with the big push for censorship by the media that we are seeing.

      1. Homina

        That’s what jumped to my mind too. Plus, would there be any limit to the toll gates? ISP to a game’s portal to a common server or host or something. Maybe something after that or other links prior that you’re presented with a “Basic” vs. “Premium” service at twice the $$.

        Then again I’m fairly clueless about the internet.

        But also: I already can’t play some ancient games because of bugs/incompatibility (and I’m good at tweaking in order to play since the autoexec.bat, config.sys, himem.sys days). But now–Will there be a Steam “basic” and “premium”, whether for online pvp or even single-player? Maybe single-player basic has a five minute verification, while a premium has 30 seconds for example.

        And would Steam the company (or any other company of any sort) even be able to protest? I mean–could whatever/all ever higher ISPs which route to Steam include it in their monetization scheme, no matter what Steam, or Etsy, or porn sites, or NakedCapitalism desires? Nice way to screw over/milk gamers, and also crush online producers that are rivals to your own gaming subdivision. Just toll them out of business. Charge purchasers of the game $50 for anything over 56k speeds. Who’s going to stop them? Not the FCC.

      2. Emorej a Hong Kong

        Re: in the same way that millions of Americans can be arbitrarily struck of voting rolls without consequence, you can get bans from your own internet (and I mean ALL of your internet) for an “inappropriate” comment

        This is not only an analogy.

        Voter suppression can be micro-targeted at individuals who “can be arbitrarily struck of voting rolls …for an “inappropriate” comment” such as
        “have we really always been at war with Eastasia?”

        — although I suppose this is already in the works regardless of the end of net neutrality as between non-governmental entities.

    4. Yves Smith

      This is utterly disingenuous and completely at odds with the real issues. It amounts to an attack on the site.

      The reason that sites like ours will lose out under net neutrality has absolutely nothing to do with loading speed, and you falsely imply 1. that that is an issue and 2. that NC loads slowly.

      Had you at all been following this topic, which at a minimum means reading the posts on it on NC, you would know that there are two major and valid concerns re the end of net neutrality. One is censorship of left and right wing sites, which is already underway. Second is, as has been widely discussed, and Lambert’s quote made clear, NC and other small sites would be relegated to a Siberia of tiering. First the basic 45-70 sites. Then premium entertainment, like Netflix and HBO. Then social media. Then sites deemed as fringe-y. We’d be in that tier.

      I have a very highly skilled tech colleague who owned and ran an ISP. He has long maintained that ISPs need to meter bandwidth is a canard, or if they actually do, they are technically incompetent. This has nothing to do with capacity and everything to do with how to extract more monthly fees.

      1. LyonNightroad

        I interpreted his comment to mean that ISPs might intentionally throttle your site (unless you paid some fee) not that it is currently slow. I think he meant to show that ISPs could try to fleece both site owners and consumers alike.

  5. Corbin Dallas

    I love how Silicon Valley, privatizers and deregulators, think they can disrupt the world when they can’t even get Net Neutrality as law of the land. They’re not just hypocrites, they’re weaklings. Just like they’d rather focus on housing people on Mars instead of the homeless at their feet.

    1. Summer

      That’s because the things that command the highest payments or value are the ones that offer or imply exclusivity and/or privacy.

    2. Eureka Springs

      And they can’t get government to fiber/wire up every home and business as the old bells and current elecs. Last I read (years ago) it would only take 100b (1 Bezos) to complete that task.

  6. BondsOfSteel

    RE: JACKSON: To win in Alabama, Jones must create a new coalition

    15% of African Americans in AL are disqualified due to felony convictions? Democracy my ass.

    1. RUKidding

      And what has the Big D party done about issues such a high AA felony convictions leading to them losing the right to vote? All I can see from where I sit is a big, fat bupkiss.

      As has been opined here at this site many times, it surely looks like the Big D just wants to lose… and lose bigtime. I guess that’s what their 1% “patrons” are paying them to do?

      At any rate, we witness once again the “golden opportunity” – for better or worse – putatively handed to Big D in Alabama, and all we hear are the usual “reports” of Big D doing next to nothing to help Doug Jones pull this one off.

      Why it certainly seems as if Big D’s sole intention is to lose. They are very “successful” at doing that.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Didn’t hear a peep from anyone about voter registration (and the Monday deadline) here, that’s for sure.

        Edit: here being Huntsville

      2. Spring Texan

        Yeah, mostly D’s are terrible on this. However, this is where you have to give Terry McAuliffe a lot of props!! He surprised me in a very pleasant way on that.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          That’s true, props (amazingly enough) to Terry McAuliffe. So how come it’s just one state? Is the Democrat Party a party, or just a random collection of party barons and factions and mercenaries? Wait, don’t answer that.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Consumer confidence continues to soar, at 129.5 in November which is a new 17-year high

    On a preliminary basis (until the latest unemployment claims are released Thursday morning), this surge in con-con has boosted Ed Yardeni’s fundamental indicator to a new high. Chart:


    With the Case-Shiller national housing price index having reached a fresh record high, Bubble III is fulfilling its sublime destiny as the “Everything Bubble” — real estate, stocks, Bitcoin, art, you name it.

    They moved into a place they both could afford
    He found a night club he could work at the door
    She had a guitar and she taught him some chords
    The sky was the limit

    — Tom Petty, Into the Great Wide Open

  8. Summer

    Re: Net Neutrality

    ‘This site is not available. Please upgrade to our deluxe package to access it.’” Exactly. Or, “Your package does not include Naked Capitalism.”

    Anybody else think the scenario could lead to more newsstands?

    1. Kurtismayfield

      It could lead to more caching of websites and articles.. set your device to download content from a website while you work or are sleeping.. go back and read it later.

      Pai is messing this up so badly that the first court case with standing is going to toss this rule change out.

      1. Summer

        By the time you wake up or get off from work, who knows what will have been removed or altered from sites? The implications of net neutrality involve censorship.

        1. Code Name D

          We regret to inform you that the site you attempted to reach is suspected of having connections to Russian agents. De-programmers in your area have been alerted to your confusion and will arrive within the hour to facilitate your re-education. A service covered by moth health care plans, minus any deductibles and or co-pays. (If you had voted for Hillary, none of this would be happening. Remember that when she runs again in 2020.)

      2. Summer

        And more attacks on net neutrality could lead to pay packages.
        A newsstand – you get your news ala carte.

    2. Daryl

      > Anybody else think the scenario could lead to more newsstands?

      I’m reminded of Cuba’s “El Paquete:” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Paquete_Semanal a giant collection of pre-downloaded material that makes up for the lack of broadband internet there.

      Perhaps it’ll be the same way here. People who still have access to halfway decent internet will download content for the rest of us.

  9. Samuel Conner

    Re: Democratic swag, how about tee-shirts and bumper stickers that promise that

    “Universal Health Care will ‘Never, ever happen.’ ”

    Not that I believe or hope for that, but it still seems to be the default mainstream D posture.

    1. flora

      How about Dry Powder. Surely they’ll be selling Dry Powder. They’ve kept so much of their powder dry they can probably sell tons of it and still have tons left. /s

    2. MtnLife

      The shirt shown is very apt – Democrats fading into nothingness. It is just missing the appropriate title: The Obama Years.

    3. The Rev Kev

      It took a group of college-educated consultants to decide that this t-shirt would send out a good positive message for the Democrats.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Can you just take over the D party with the existing Democrats (whose world view is demonstrated daily, such as here, and who seem to be pretty immune from changing) staying?

        Perhaps the taking over part (the journey) is all we get out of it. There is no destination, travelling with these recalcitrant Democrats.

        Before we get to universal health, we will argue and struggle with them endlessly, inside the party, never mind putting a proposal out for the general public.

    4. John k

      I would buy a shirt that said something like
      Never, Ever
      Medicare for all
      2 years free college
      Jailing corrupt bankers, or
      Ending foreign wars

  10. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: 2nd Trade Article by Politico —
    Concerns that NAFTA withdrawal “…likely hurt the value of the Mexican peso and the Canadian dollar more than the U.S. dollar…” and ” …Mexican and Canadian imports would become relatively less expensive for U.S. consumers…”
    This is not a problem! Politico just needs to refer to the paper by the Nobel Economist Edmund S. Phelps referenced at the tail of the post here at NC the other day [https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/11/nothing-natural-natural-rate-unemployment.html]:
    “A real exchange rate appreciation appears to go hand in hand with higher employment rates – when domestic output becomes relatively more expensive, the rate of employment goes up, instead of falling as Keynesian theory might lead us to believe.” [from page 4 of “The Structuralist Perspective on Real Exchange Rate, Share Price Level and Employment Path: What Role Is Left for Money?” Phelps, HOON, Zoega]

    I realize our unemployment rate in the US is “at a 17-year low and the biggest problem in the labor market is a shortage of skilled workers.” Who knows — maybe wages will increase — in return for greater worker “compliance”. That should bring confidence even higher than the “highest level since Gallup began tracking economic confidence in 2008.”

    I feel like I’m reading from passages in a new found lost book by Lewis Carroll.

    March Hare — please! — I will take some of the wine you offered. [ref to Chris Hedges recent book].

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      “…the biggest problem in the labor market is a shortage of skilled workers…” who are willing to work cheap.

      There, that’s better. :-)

  11. Jim Haygood

    The Lost Cause was a campaign to portray Confederate leaders and soldiers as heroic, and it targeted the minds and identities of children growing up in the South.

    Whereas building a marble memorial to Lincoln was simply objective history: no young impressionable minds were harmed. ;-)

    “The statue of Lincoln, originally designed to be 10 feet tall, was enlarged to 19 feet to prevent it being overwhelmed by the huge chamber,” Wikipedia dryly notes.

    1. Pat

      Not disputing your point, it is a part of winners write the history. But that truism brings the other question, since when does the propagandistic nature of humanity allow a campaign to ‘portray Confederate leaders and soldiers” also known as the losers “as heroic”? Particularly as a means to rehab something like slavery and advance systematic racism? Because we know that was what it was doing.

      Even though I understand that started much earlier, over the last sixty years I have often wondered when the left/liberals/and for part of that time the Democrats would stop ignoring the rhetoric and be blunt if they could not manage their own catchy phrases to promote their ideas over the campaigns of the Right. Call them losers and groups like Lost Cause sore losers, point out that lost cause WAS slavery NOT states rights and do it OVER AND OVER AND OVER with contemporaneous quotes and little respect or deference paid to those positions.

        1. Pat

          While the Spanish American War is the exception, conscription comes to mind. And even with that similar to today, poverty, lack of opportunity, and/or the bizarre fascination with and romanticism some have with war also comes to mind.

          I’m sure the real reasons for such generosity had little to do with recruitment, and far more to do with financial alliances, much like our leaders today who routinely tout things like bipartisanship as they sell out their supposed values.

          Not always but far more often than we would like it has always been so.

    2. Carolinian

      Don’t worry TPTP will eventually replace Lincoln with a giant statue of Ronnie Reagan. They already named DC’s airport after him.

      And as a southerner I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate to go around putting up statues to those who revolted against the national government. But I also believe it’s an issue people now in the south don’t spend a lot of time thinking about other than a few cranks. We should be arguing about policies rather than historical artifacts.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘As a southerner I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate to go around putting up statues to those who revolted against the national government’

        As a southerner I don’t think it’s particularly appropriate to go around putting up golden statues in New York City to the war criminal William Tecumseh Sherman who terrorized the civilian population of Georgia. Photo:


        Britain exercised its right to leave a European federation which no longer suited its needs. This right is no longer on offer in the so-called US ‘federal’ government, which you appropriately describe as a ‘national’ government.

        California libre! :-)

        1. Plenue

          I like the idea of someone whining about Sherman burning his way through a region that turned traitor so it could keep black people as pets.

          1. Mark P.

            As pets? Much worse. As economic assets and unpaid civilizational infrastructure. Human bricks, so to speak. There’s a recent book, The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward Baptist, that’s worth a read if you haven’t already come across it. However bad you thought it was, it was worse.

            Here —


            Scroll down at look at the chart for the figures on how much each Southern slave state’s wealth literally wasits slaves.

            1. Mark P.

              As for Sherman burning his way through the South, Northern society ladies apparently used to go up to both Sherman and Grant, and ask: “When will this dreadful war be over, general?”

              And both Grant and Sherman would very precisely, consciously answer: “When we’ve killed another 280, 000 white southern males, madam.”

              And they would then explain their reasoning: that the plantation culture of the South had raised that number of males that had never known anything other culture, and would consider it such an insult to their honor to work for a living that they would die before doing that.

              And so it was.

              I got this from Edmund Wilson’s Patriotic Gore decades ago; I don’t have a copy any more, but my memory was that Wilson makes this claim about Sherman and Grant somewhere between pgs. 120 and 200 of his book.

              1. Mark P.

                “I fear the world will jump to the wrong conclusion that because I am in Atlanta the work is done. Far from it. We must kill three hundred thousand as I have told you so often, and the further they run the harder for us to get them.”
                – Sherman when he burned Atlanta in 1864.

                I don’t like this guy’s Zionist, anti-Iran politics. But this piece from the ASIA TIMES in 2003 by ‘Spengler’, called ‘More Killing, Please!’ is worth a read both regarding Sherman and Grant and the US Civil War, and the larger ‘irrationality’ of war —


              2. Carolinian

                You do know that it was the bankers of the North who financed that plantation culture of the South and the shipowners of New England who brought the slaves over here? There was plenty of 19th century white supremacy to go around. The British empire was awash in it. Before the Civil War the abolitionists in the North were a tiny minority and most of the Northern public including Lincoln wanted the slaves to be shipped back to Africa. One reason there wasn’t much objection to Daughters of the Confederacy monuments is that most of the country by that point was sympathetic with Jim Crow. It took a Civil Rights movement to do it in.

                And btw it was in the South that the war was called “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight.” The decision to secede was not particularly democratic–particularly in my state where the landed and slave owning aristocracy were in charge of the SC legislature. As in our own time the war was about the lengths the wealthy will go to in order to defend their privileges. But lets not pretend that attitudes among the upper classes of the North were that much different.

        2. Pat

          Hmmm. The recent discussions regarding Dublin and Ireland in the wake of Brexit come to mind.

          But you are comparing apples and oranges. And not just because the EU is not a country, but an alliance which had a procedure for member countries to leave, previously unexplored as it was.

  12. timbers

    “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers. This is the highest year-over-year growth since July 2014” [Econintersect].

    I think Wolf Street made the point that when the supply dries up and listings fall by an overly great extent, it’s not just a “demand supply issue” when those who want to sell decide not too after realizing the cost of buying a different home. So the market freezes up, pending a correction. Correct me if I mis-remember, but this is what happened in the 2006 crash?

    1. perpetualWAR

      Anybody looking to move should SELL…..then rent awhile waiting for the big BOOM!
      And after the big BOOM! Buy.

    2. Lee

      I looked at downsizing and staying in my general neighborhood. In every instance, the smaller the house, the higher the price per square foot, making any gain to be had negligible and not worth the effort.

    3. Summer

      One exec and her husband just sold a home, moved into an apartment (all the kids grown and gone), and
      are sitting on mounds of liquid cash waiting for the madness to subside. They could have afforded another home, but they know crazy when they see it and are taking a break from home maintenance.
      (They also both still work at jobs with great pay and benefits!)

      1. Octopii

        I actually did just that in 2008, bought again in 2012. Should have sold early in 2007 and bought again in 2010. It’s hard to time.

    4. Enquiring Mind

      Anecdata from LA here:
      My millennial kids would tell you that household formation is exceedingly low for their cohort. The few that have decent paying jobs are saving everything they can for a rainy day, and then maybe thinking about a house sometime next decade. The others in McJobs are either living at home or are packed like sardines in some apartment where they regret wasting all that money on overpriced rent.

      Combine that low household formation with some deformations on the demand due to self-deportation, so we’re told, and those make housing demand softer here. At some point, the air has to come out of the prices and the rent.

  13. Deschain

    The EA/loot box piece gets a number of things wrong (loot boxes originated in Asia; Blizzard makes a significant amount of money off the Overwatch loot boxes) but it’s a pretty good job for a layman.

    Two weeks ago EA’s CFO was at an investor conference – while the consumer response was in the middle of completely blowing up – and joked with the analyst that he’d need to give the analyst’s 10 year old son his credit card once he started playing the game. You can’t make this stuff up.

  14. JohnnyGL

    Regarding this….

    For me, the most grounding and concise description came from Rebecca Traister, who asked, during a panel at Rutgers University in spring 2017, ‘If we only have a problem with Hillary Clinton, not with women, why is she the only woman who has ever gotten this far?’”

    I would answer, “Because Senator Warren was told not to run because it was her turn”.

    Clinton managed to make feminism into a zero-sum game where other women had to sacrifice so that Clinton could succeed.

  15. Lee

    Re Net Neutrality

    I currently have AT&T internet service: $52/month for 12 mbps with a monthly cap of 1024 GB per month. I have yet to reach the cap.

    I’m looking at an alternative in my area and there is what appears to be smallish outfit out of San Francisco, Common Networks, that’s offering 75 mbps for $50/month. They use antennas and line of sight transmission. I don’t know their position on net neutrality yet. Can carriers opt out of pay to play systems, if net neutrality goes down? If so, it’s a strong selling point.

    1. Mark P.

      Who owns the fiberoptic cables down which every thing travels before it reaches Common Networks, your little guy? The big guys like AT&T. So, no, they can’t opt out of pay to play.

      1. Octopii

        If they have an international fiber maybe they could, for non-US content at least.

        What’s the story on this issue for the rest of the world? Can’t imagine the EU following suit.

        1. Mark P.

          No other country is going to follow suit. If you travel, you’ve probably learned that the U.S., where the Internet was developed, generally has some of the worst, slowest Internet service in the developed world.

          What’s problematic is that so much of overall global backbone remains in the U.S..

    2. Oregoncharles

      We’re on a local wireless ISP. Works great, as long as you have a tall tree to put the antenna in. (You may not need that). There are enough Douglas firs around here that they hired an arborist to do their installations.

      Responding to both Lee and Mark P: Mark, you’re talking about the “backbone,” which is separate from ISP’s – except when an ISP owns it. Would it lose neutrality, too?

      Long run, the only real solution is to either de-monopolize them or make them utilities.

      1. Mark P.

        Long run, the only real solution is to either de-monopolize them or make them utilities.


        You’re talking about the “backbone,” which is separate from ISP’s – except when an ISP owns it.

        I’d been thinking about that. The ISPs own a lot of the stateside switching stations, which are obviously vital..

        But yeah: I fail to see why the FCC argument for ‘competition’ by rolling back net neutrality in favor of ISPs shouldn’t also be an argument in favor of ‘competition’ that will allow backbone providers to make more profits off ISPs. The ISPs won’t like that., and it’s probably the biggest Achilles’ heel of the whole Pai/FCC proposition.

        Well, other than the fact that in 2017 US infrastructure and business cannot really function with ISPs throttling the cloud, the IoT, electronic payment systems, and everything else.

    3. bob

      One outcome could be that the local ISP’s don’t have enough money to install the metering and accounting systems, or clout to be able to resist the upstream pressure.. At that point, the local ISP’s are only valuable to the bigger guys, who could buy the local ISP’s at cut rate cost, install meters, and jack the prices for consumers.

      It’s how business is done!

  16. Enrique

    Re: “Ending net neutrality will destroy everything that makes the internet great”

    Uh, what exactly is “great” about the internet? Anymore it is 99% utter dross. Present company excluded, as NC is about the best place (IMO) to get a quick overview of various things without actually venturing into clickbait hell.

    Not that ending “net neutrality” improves matters, obviously.

    I think the web right now has any utility for two things only:

    1) Facilitating commercial transactions
    2) Making people needlessly hate one another

    I barely spend a half hour a day looking at actual websites. Way down from about 15 years ago before the economic model of spying+crapification took hold. And I am better for it, I think.

    1. Homina

      Maybe it depends on one’s age? I’m 45, so my formative years were spent at the library when I needed to find information on my own. Didn’t get on the internet right away but earlier enough in the 90s to see that there were plenty of trolls and a-holes (myself included at times). And have been on long enough that I’m not nearly as invested in say, arguing as I was earlier. Back then could go days or weeks spending a long time to research and debate. Now I’m bored by it. Or maybe don’t have the energy of the younglings.

      Anyway I’m not disparaging you at all. Just curious about how/whether things like formative age, or years (or decades) spent on the net might affect one’s view of it. Personally I think the only thing bad about today’s internet is the increasing censorship and politicization around it–as in propOrNot, Facebook hunting for commie bogeymen so they can notify you if you were a russkie stooge puppet. USG telling RT to register as a foreign agent, but not the CBC or BBC or any other foreign TV network…This level of censorship is not completely novel but it’s becoming troubling [what a ridiculously noncommittal word: it’s “troubling”. Same for “problematic”]. I mean it’s becoming Orwellian BS. And could become much worse.

      I prefer small censorship–mods banning people for disparate views, or criticizing their buddies/clique. Or for enforcing rules, whether good or bad. Easy to either kick around there awhile, or go elsewhere, depending on mood and other stuff. Just about any sort of tiny forum community is out there. Formal and strict, to anarchy (the latter under some threat now). Any sort of morality, except that’s also under threat from on very high.

      Giant $12-figure corporations, some contracted with or buddies with the government being the mods? That world [is going to] be pretty horrible imo.

      In the end the relatively free internet will have upended the traditional newsprint propaganda for a few enlightened decades. Afterwards, message control and purging of the too-radical or wrong-radical for every direction to the digital horizon too. :(

  17. Robert McGregor

    > Shipping: ‘It has become very challenging to find drug free, compliant drivers given today’s driver wages’” . . . [Logistics Management]. “Compliant”?

    Lambert, In the truck driver world, “Compliant” needs “compliant with the truck driving laws and regulations:” few traffic violations, few accidents, no DUIs, accurate driver log books, health and safety inspections up-to-date etc. It does not mean Compliant with the oppressiveness of the Neoliberal Regime though that is also much desired by the trucking companies.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        “the public set of books”

        Drivers may have two, three or even four sets of log books, although with GPS truck locating in real-time that has tapered off. Each set was for a particular audience, whether PUC, insurance, company owner or other potentially interested party.

  18. Jim Haygood

    On a day when all major stock indexes reached record highs, the financial sector went parabolic.

    XLF, a financial sector ETF, rocketed 2.6% as a Senate committee hearing this morning made clear that Generous Jerry Powell is a shoo-in for chair of the Fed, where he can continue its bank-friendly policies.

    After all, the Fed IS a bank cartel, lest we forget.

  19. Carla

    Very glad to see the plantidote back in place today; I really missed it when it wasn’t there yesterday!

  20. Jason Boxman

    Quite simply, Chrome is one of the worst browsers I’ve ever used. Terrible tab handling. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of tabs. And it’s impossible to swap between most recently used tabs, like you can in any other browser or your OS, with ALT-TAB. A bug was filed regarding this with Chromium, upon which Chrome is based, at least 10 years ago. It was closed as WONTFIX.

    I’ve been using Opera since 2006, now based upon Chromium as well. It has all the compatibility of Chrome, without the nonsense.

    I haven’t looked at Firefox again recently, although I’ve heard whispers lately. I ditched it in 2006 because it was lagging out my computer at the time, making it mostly useless.

  21. witters


    GESSEN: …And yet the way that Americans have reacted to it—or a large number of Americans have reacted to it—has actually elevated Putin exactly to the level of the Bond villain that Putin aspires to be….

    GOLDBERG: Are you surprised that American liberals now are on the Russia-paranoia bandwagon?

    GESSEN: I am really surprised, and I’m really disappointed.”

    Is this serious? Is this the Russian liberaltariat in thought action? So Putin aspires to be a Bond Villain? And she just can’t figure out why the best people in the world (those most viscerally hostile to Russia, aka the “Free Democratic Liberal US”) see him in just the same way? Seriously?

  22. todde

    RE: Civilization, is it good for us.

    Genisis to me was always a story about Man becoming Civilized, with god in opposition to it.

    1. Darius

      There was an LRB review of James Scott’s Against the Grain in Links or Water Cooler Thursday or Friday. I gotta get this book. Sounds like it puts Marx in a different light, viz the state, and the nature of humanity. I saw from a Google search that Scott has written extensively about the function of the state. I hope we hear more from him.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It does. The writing is incredibly lucid. Now, I’m not sure I agree with Scott (I’m not done with the book) but he makes his case very clearly, and labels speculation as speculation.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Interesting take.

      I was just thinking about the Garden of Eden as it relates to agriculture and farming.

      Eating from agriculture – the original sin (for pastoral people, they see it that way).

  23. Summer

    RE: ” Compliance” to low wages.

    I’m reminded of this article when I see articles about wages or the Fed being afraid of inflation due to rising worker pay:


    “How many times have you heard that Americans’ wages have stagnated? Countless commentators (including me) have repeated this complaint. Naturally, politicians of both parties — Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump — deplore it. It’s conventional wisdom that wage stagnation has contributed to the sluggish recovery and the downcast attitudes of millions.

    But what if it’s not true?

    A new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco suggests just that. It concludes that widely cited figures showing stagnation are mostly a statistical fluke. Workers continuously employed in full-time jobs received wage increases higher than inflation from 2002 to 2015. Last year, the gain was a 3.5 percent increase after inflation, up from 1.2 percent in 2010.”
    Note what the study focuses on: Workers continuously employed in full-time jobs received wage increases higher than inflation from 2002 to 2015.
    There is no accounting in the article for what has happened to the types of jobs that would provide 13 years of uninterrupted work or why that type of employment is harder and harder to come by.
    So everything is great as long as the precariat or anyone that happens to fall into it are ignored.

    1. fresno dan

      November 28, 2017 at 6:24 pm

      I’m glad you read it so I didn’t have to. Of course, I gave up on the FED’s view of reality long ago, what with its belief that the TRUE unemployment rate is 4.1% (and obstinate refusal to account for all the drop outs who can’t find jobs), Easter bunnies, and unicorns….

      Workers continuously employed in full-time jobs received wage increases higher than inflation from 2002 to 2015.*

      * And people say these are imaginary workers….Well, I have it on good authority that they were all Santa elves…..and they get free heath care too!

        1. Pat

          You might also keep in mind that this would also include increased health insurance premiums as wage increases, while not deducting any increased employee costs as wage cuts. And at the rate premiums have increased, even with employers off setting some of them with increased deductibles and higher co-pays that could easily account for the supposed wage growth.

  24. Kim Kaufman

    “What Hillary Clinton Taught Lauren Duca About Feminism” [Teen Vogue]. “Because she started with the advantage of eight years in the White House as co-President with Bill Clinton, a privilege no other woman has been afforded?”

    And look how far Elizabeth Warren has come and how much she has accomplished in far less time than Hillary and with no particular help from anyone.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Hillary sucked the oxygen out of the room for a long time. Without Hillary in 2008, what does the 2007/2008 primary season look like? Do Sebelius and Napolitano make noise? In 2016? Without Hillary who runs? Biden is a clown and would have a Joe Lieberman like arc.

      Purdue, Gregoire, Klobuchar, Shaheen, Cantwell, Hagan, and Warren seem like tolerable candidates (maybe not Shaheen). They aren’t new, new (Gillenbrand was appointed originally, so she would merit skepticism as a candidate) and they aren’t outwardly awful. With Hillary, they aren’t going to make noise or be listened to.

      Sebelius before the ACA debacle. Just to be clear.

    2. JCC

      ‘If we only have a problem with Hillary Clinton, not with women, why is she the only woman who has ever gotten this far?’

      Children, obviously. Geraldine Ferraro was “so last century”

      Who remembers anything anymore?

        1. Pat

          I am naive enough to believe Shirley Chisholm would have considered one to be corrupt and the other despicable. Probably wrong, but maybe she would have continued to be exceptional.

          Can’t say the same about Geraldine…

  25. Craig H.

    If you get a chance to post even a short review of Scott’s new book I would be interested to see it. His books that I have read so far were excellent. I don’t think I will ever forget his argument in The Art of Not Being Governed that it made absolutely no difference to the peasants in southeast Asia whether the government was the old warlord, the colonizers, or the communists. They all had the exact same policy regarding the peasants: get them planted on a rice paddy and extract the surplus.

  26. JTMcPhee

    “Anonymous online short attacks:” Gotta have a plan in place, right? Kind of like the firemen who turn to arson, just for fun or to improve the results of their desk audits, maybe? Or one of the many forms of extortion and extraction facilitated and intermediates by the ast web of sharp and mortal vulnerabilities our ‘civilization’ sits under, like Damocles beneath the sword… https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-the-sword-of-damocles-117738

  27. TarheelDem

    Are the brilliant marketeers behind the Democrat store going to do a tee shirt that says:

    Well, how did that convention tactic turn out, Mare Daley?

  28. allan

    Banksters at the highest level finally brought to justice!
    Since there will be no collateral damage, other than to the bankers and their families,
    Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer can sleep well.

    Former Bank of Oswego CEO, CFO convicted of conspiracy

    You’ll need to guess whether it’s Oswego, Illinois, Oregon or New York (and no peeking at the URL.)

    The two former top executives of the Bank of Oswego were convicted Tuesday of conspiring to commit bank fraud after one of the longest federal trials in [redacted] history.

    The jury also found Dan Heine, the bank’s co-founder and former chief executive, and Diana Yates, the chief financial officer, guilty of making false entries in the bank’s books to hide bad loans.

    Heine, 70, who’d once been Lake Oswego’s citizen of the year, could spend much of the rest of his life in prison.

    Both seemed stunned after the verdict was read, remaining in the courtroom with their legal teams long after the judge, jury and observers had departed.

    The case began in June 2015, after Heine and Yates were indicted on accusations of orchestrating a sweeping, five-year conspiracy to conceal the bank’s shaky financial condition. It is believed to be the first time in [redacted] history that a bank’s two senior managers were slapped with criminal charges.

    The case was complex and filled with the arcane financial minutia of bank accounting and reporting rules. …

  29. Tim

    “Taken For A Ride?”

    In any emergency the first thing I ask myself is “does the emergency warrant a $1500 ambulance ride?” or can I get the job done (mitigating permanent harm) getting to the hospital myself? And I have good insurance.

    Even people with means such as myself are getting to the point where we don’t see the value in much of traditional care. It just costs way to much to get, so just as a matter of principle we avoid it as much we can rationalize alternatives.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > we avoid it

      There are very few systems I don’t think twice about not avoiding. It seems that any sign of human weakness or frailty is an excuse to apply the screws and turn hard. (The “synecdote” that haunts me is that kidz these days think library books are rented. How the hell did that happen?)

  30. allan

    State official: New Oroville spillway already has cracks [SJ Mercury News]

    Small cracks have appeared in a new concrete spillway at Oroville Dam, a development state officials say was expected but an engineering expert says could lead to serious safety issues. …

    State officials say emergency and subsequent repairs of the 770-foot dam have so far cost at least $640 million but not all costs have been identified yet.

    In their response to federal regulators, California water officials said in November that the state’s efforts to build a more durable spillway caused the cracks, which were anticipated.

    “The hairline cracks are a result of some of the design elements included to restrain the slabs and produce a robust and durable structure,” the letter read, adding that the cracking “was anticipated and is not expected to affect the integrity of the slabs.” …

    University of California civil engineering professor Robert Bea, a veteran analyst of structure failures, said cracking in high-strength reinforced concrete structures is never expected. …

    We had to crack the spillway in order to make it more durable.

    Besides, who are you going to believe, state officials or some pointy-headed academic?

  31. Oregoncharles

    ” the advantage of eight years in the White House as co-President with Bill Clinton, a privilege no other woman has been afforded?”
    Not that Bill would have minded.

    Seriously: that is not a good feminist way to get to the White House. the level of special pleading for Hillary is just astonishing. No intellectual integrity at all.

  32. Tom Stone

    Did anyone else notice the percentage of African Americans in Alabama who are disenfranchised due to felony convictions?
    They have lost both the vote and the right to keep and bear arms, the basic rights of a Citizen.
    This is a function of both how the laws are written (The 1994 crime bill comes to mind) and more importantly how they are enforced.
    It’s as much about class as race these days, Nationally…
    But not at the State and Local levels.
    I highly recommend Radley Balko’s “Rise of the Warrior Cop” if you want to gain some understanding of Cop culture…
    Homan Square, Orange County Prosecutor’s office, Ferguson.
    And Stingrays.
    Their job is to maintain public order and expanding the 1033 program seems prudent to the people who matter.
    It won’t be a boring next few years.

  33. Larry

    There is one advantage to all the Russiaphobia and the #Resistance tying Facebook to the downfall of Hillary, and it only occurred to me this week. Mark Zuckerberg has been on a PR guided and focus-group tested tour of America to clearly test the waters for his turn at the brass ring that is President of the United States. But his companies central role in Putin’s election tampering means that he’s DOA. I say no chance this internet spud rises beyond the level of a mediocre Bill Gates.

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