2:00PM Water Cooler 11/7/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“U.S. farmers spent nine patient months indulging President Donald Trump’s desire to renegotiate NAFTA with the promise that he would ‘do no harm.’ Now, with Trump growing more bold with his threats to issue a formal intent to withdraw from the deal, farming groups say it’s clearer than ever that their pleas to save the pact are barely registering with a president intent on its destruction” [Politico]. “‘I’ve come to believe this administration is determined to end NAFTA,’ said Gordon Stoner, a fourth-generation Montana wheat farmer who leads the National Association of Wheat Growers.”

“As Presidents Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in prepare to meet this week, civil society organizations from Korea and the United States issued a statement reiterating their long-standing opposition to the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement and calling for its repeal. The statement was issued by Citizens Trade Campaign, a U.S.-based coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, consumer and faith organizations together representing more than 12 million Americans, and thirty-three different Korean organizations” [Citizens Trade].


2016 Post Mortem

“NBC/WSJ Poll: In ‘Trump Counties,’ More Say U.S. Is Worse Off Than Better Off” [NBC News]. That’s not the interesting part. First, though, here’s the map:

And now some numbers. These voters give Trump 48% approval rating, 50% negative. Obama: 48%/37%. Sanders: 42%/31%. Clinton: 23%/60%. Taegan Goddard says: “That suggests Democratic prospects in these areas are actually quite good. They just had the wrong candidate in last year’s election.” I’d put it more forcefully: Bernie would have won. And woud win again.

“Experts have spent months shoehorning Trump into ill-fitting criminal provisions. Some have argued that he can be charged under Section 371, which prohibits conspiracies to defraud the United States “in any manner or for any purpose.” Former federal prosecutor Randall Eliason has argued, “Running a free and fair presidential election is a core lawful function of the federal government. Any agreement to secretly and dishonestly attempt to interfere with a federal election would fall squarely within Section 371’s prohibition on conspiracies to defraud the United States” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “If Clinton gained critical control over the primary in a secret deal, how was the election “free and fair” for the purposes of Section 371?… The point is only that a sharp disconnect exists between the interpretive approaches given to allegations about Trump as opposed to those about Clinton. A presumption of criminality exists for one, and for the other, a virtual immunity. A concerted effort is being made to get the law to fit the conduct, at considerable risk to our legal system.”

“BuzzFeed has subpoenaed the Democratic National Committee for information related to the Democratic hack [or leak] — its latest salvo in the media company’s efforts to defend itself against an ongoing libel suit connected to its publication of the infamous Steele dossier” [Foreign Policy]. “Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian technology executive, has sued BuzzFeed for libel for its decision to publish a series of memos authored by the former British spy Christopher Steele…. BuzzFeed is trying to figure out if the allegations relating to its libel suit are true as part of its defense strategy that could end up revealing details of the dossier and the DNC hack that have not been made public…. In addition to the DNC, Buzzfeed has also subpoenaed the cybersecurity firm Crowdstrike, which investigated the breach at Democratic Party headquarters, for technical information related to Russian hacking attempts.”


“O’Malley has been unusually open about his interest in running again, visiting Iowa three times since the November election to campaign and raise money for other Democrats, and telling NBC News in January that he ‘just might’ run. Other possible contenders have followed a more traditional path of keeping their plans quiet — rather than polling or visiting the early states — wary of being seen as too calculating or overly ambitious” [Politico].


“Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam” [RealClearPolitics]. The average of all polls: Northam 3.3% (Friday: 3.3%). No new polls. Rating: Tossup.

“D-Day in Virginia Governor’s Race: What to Watch For” [RealClearPolitics]. “‘Virginia is this unique warning system for what direction the country is headed as we approach the midterms, and it will do that again,’ says Jesse Ferguson, a Democratic strategist with Virginia ties. ‘The state is such a petri dish of voters. It has a little bit everything.'” I pull this out because I linked to Jesse Ferguson yesterday; he’s the Romney voter-seeking dude who wrote that pathetic “OPEN LETTER” signed by 216 Clinton staffers. Expect to hear much more of him if Northam pulls out this squeaker, and expect to see Virginia become the Clintonite template for victory in 2018 and 2020 (since Ossoff didn’t work out).

“The inevitable question is what the outcome of this gubernatorial contest will mean for the 2018 midterms. In truth, it might not mean much, though a Gillespie upset would cause panic in Democratic circles and probably give Republicans a false sense of security. The state legislative races, particularly in light of special elections that have taken place around the country, might be more telling” [Cook Political Report]. And: “The races that could best harbingers of November 2018 aren’t likely to get much national coverage at all: all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election this November” [Cook Political Report]. “The five likeliest Democratic pickups are all in the highly-educated Northern Virginia suburbs: two are open seats (the 2nd and the 42nd) that are near-certain to change parties, and three more involve GOP incumbents who have only narrowly won in the past few cycles…. Think of it this way: if Democrats pick up five seats or less, Republicans would breathe a sigh of relief. If Democrats pick up five to ten seats, it would suggest Democrats are in contention for the House next year. If Democrats pick up 10 to 15 seats, it would be a strong sign they’re on track to pick up the House majority next year. If Democrats pick up more than 15 seats, we’re looking at a potential tidal wave in 2018.”

Trump Transition

“The Wall” [Brookings Institute]. “Why the DHS believes that a 30–foot tall wall cannot be scaled and a tunnel cannot be built deeper than six feet below ground is not clear.” There’s a lot about the what the DHS believes that’s not clear.

“I remain skeptical that a major tax bill will be enacted. A savvy Democratic lobbyist made the case to me that if Republicans try to rush their proposal through this year, it will likely fail, but if they handle it carefully and methodically, they might pull it off. Of course, a deliberative approach flies in the face of the GOP’s belief that the package has to be enacted before the election year begins in January” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report].

New Cold War

“The social media ads Russia wanted Americans to see” [Politico]. Sorry I missed this. Here are some of the ads:

Yes, those are the ads. That’s what all the hysteria is about. That’s where we are. And if $55K of ads like this could neutralize Clinton’s $1.4 billion, Robbie Mook has some explaining to do, as do all Democratic strategists.

I’m sure it would very entertaining if the liberal Democrats came after Erica Garner:

I wish Garner would run for the Senate. And not the New York State Senate, either.

Oh noes:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Liberalism has leapt over the Democratic Party. Liberalism has its eye on a new beginning, while the mainstream party is stuck looking backward and bickering. The Resistance isn’t part of the old Democratic Party; The Resistance is the new Democratic Party, or at least its future” [Charles Blow, New York Times]. Hmm. Last I checked, “The Resistance” (at least the version I see propagated by Neera Tanden on her Twitter feed) was solidly against #MedicareForAll. If that’s the future of the Democrat Party, great, at least blow is honest about what liberalism is, but I hope and believe it’s not.

“Democrats have a classism problem” [Krystall Ball, The Hill]. “We shouldn’t be surprised. The two parties are led by remarkably similar groups of people. There are lawyers, of course. But out of 535 members, 273 are business execs and owners. Precisely zero come from the service sector jobs most commonly held by Americans. In Congress today, there are as many rodeo announcers as there are trade union members.”

“Keep It Simple and Take Credit” [Democracy]. From February, and I can’t believe I missed it. Key paragraphs:

Peoples’ lives are hard enough without tax credits and savings accounts and eligibility forms and government phone calls that determine whether one’s household income puts one in the bracket for this or that plan or benefit or subsidy and on and on. No voter is thanking anyone who puts them on this road, even if there’s a small pot of money at the end of it.

And forget the annoyance—the amount of immense mental energy and social capital required to keep track of, comprehend the eligibility requirements of, and then successfully apply for these benefits is a de facto regressive tax on people whose lives are too materially difficult to deal with arcane bureaucratic bullshit. That is, those people that need the help the most.

So what to do? No more savings accounts, no more cleverly hidden help that people won’t even notice, no more tax-preferenced, means-tested, government-monitored, website-reliant, bronze/gold/platinum-benefits-so-long-as-you-apply-during-open-enrollment. Just give people the stuff they need.

Universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class. Well worth a read, especially for the hilarious description of the centrist alternative to universal paid leave. The ObamaCare diagram is good, too.

“In cities across the South, Socialism is on the ballot” [Scalawag Magazine]. More a list of candidates than analysis; but quite a list.

“The Black Bloc: Inside America’s Hard Left” [Vice]. Philly.

Stats Watch

Gallup Economic Confidence Index, October 2017: “Americans’ confidence in the U.S. economy was positive in October” [Econoday]. “The ECI is the average of two components — how Americans rate current economic conditions and whether they feel the economy is improving or getting worse…. Last month, 34 percent of Americans described the economy as “excellent” or “good,” while 22 percent described it as “poor.” This resulted in a current conditions component of plus 12 for October — consistent with the plus 11 to plus 14 range this component has remained within since July. Meanwhile, a majority of Americans said the economy was “getting worse” (51 percent), compared with a smaller 44 percent who said it is “getting better.” As a result, the economic outlook component equaled -7 in October, one of the lower readings in the past year.”

JOLTS, September 2017: “September job openings edged up slightly to a very abundant 6.093 million from a revised 6.090 million in August” [Econoday]. And: “Job openings are mostly moving sideways at a high level, and quits are increasing year-over-year. This is another strong report” [Calculated Risk].

Housing: “September 2017 CoreLogic Home Prices Reveal Nearly Half of the Nation’s Largest 50 Markets are Overvalued” (with table) [Econintersect]. Here’s the table with the over-valued metropolitan areas sorted by state, with HIP change in parens: CA, Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale (7.1%); CO, Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (8.4%); DC-VA-MD-WV, Washington-Arlington-Alexandria (4.6%); FL, Miami-Miami Beach-Kendall (5.5%); NV, Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise (9.7%); NY-NJ, New York-Jersey City-White Plains (4.5%); TX, Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land (3.3%).

Retail: “The new agreement signed just ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to China offers an area of cooperation as Mr. Trump is expected to bring a tough message on the balance of trans-Pacific trade” [Wall Street Journal]. “Distribution of prescription drugs is sure to be more complicated than delivery of conventional consumer goods. But with CVS’s sales already declining, the company can’t afford to be a holdout in the push toward home delivery that is taking in most of the retail world.”

Shipping: “The consolidation of the U.S. trucking industry is picking up speed, with big trucking companies and private equity funds scooping up smaller firms as a U.S. regulatory mandate is set to go into effect and as drivers push for higher wages” [Reuters]. “There have been 44 publicly announced freight movement and logistics deals within the U.S. so far this year, according to Thomson Reuters data, already topping the 38 deals announced in 2016. And the total is likely much higher because most deals are private, said Todd McMahon, managing director at investment bank Capstone Partners.” The mandate for electronic logging devices is said to pressure “razor thin margins” at smalller trucking firms.

Shipping: “Wilbur Ross’s shipping investments at the centre of the Paradise Papers” [Splash 247]. “Ross has a stake in Navigator Holdings, which has contracts with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova. Two major Sibur shareholders are under some form of US sanctions. Another Navigator customer has been PDVSA, the Venezuelan state oil company. It was targeted by US sanctions this year.”

Supply Chain: “Federal Aviation Administration signed a pact with Chinese regulators that effectively opens the door for China-made aircraft and parts to be sold around the world. Although real sales remain a long way off, …. the agreement advances Beijing’s hopes of eventually becoming a global aerospace supplier and breaking into a market nominated by Boeing and Airbus” [Wall Street Journal]. “The new agreement signed just ahead of President Donald Trump’s visit to China offers an area of cooperation as Mr. Trump is expected to bring a tough message on the balance of trans-Pacific trade.”

Supply Chain: “Stefan Larsson on Why Simplicity Should Supersede Speed in the Supply Chain” [Sourcing Journal]. “”If you have bad products and you rush them, then it doesn’t make any difference,” [Stefan Larsson, who’s the former global president of Old Navy where he successfully led a turnaround at the company, part of the leadership team that built H&M into an industry giant, and most recently CEO of Ralph Lauren] said speaking at the opening session of the Decoded Fashion New York Summit 2017 Wednesday. Speed without the right brand strategy, the right brand story, means little and it won’t make consumers buy your product. “Speed is just one component,” Larsson explained, adding that if you’re clear on why your brand resonates with the consumer and if you’re clear on having great products, then speed is everything because it allows you outlearn your competitors.”

The Bezzle: “Waymo is first to put fully self-driving cars on US roads without a safety driver” (headline) [The Verge]. And the subead: “Going Level 4 in Arizona” (good for The Verge, to clarify this). And the body: “A Waymo employee will remain in the vehicle for now. But instead of being in the front seat, that employee will likely sit behind the driver’s seat. (Waymo says that won’t always be the case, though.) The cars won’t have free rein over Arizona’s roads. They’ll be geofenced within a 100-square-mile area of the town of Chandler, a suburb of Phoenix — though Waymo says it plans to expand to areas beyond that as its cars collect more data and conduct more trips. And the cars won’t be available to just anyone who wants to go for a ride. Members of Waymo’s Early Rider program, which has been in operation in Chandler since last April, will be the first to experience the new technology.” So, when Waymo CEO John Krafcik says: “Fully self-driving cars are here,” he’s just…. Well, he’s just flat out lying, isn’t he?

The Bezzle:

Tech: “MINIX: ​Intel’s hidden in-chip operating system” [ZDNet]. No, really! “Buried deep inside your computer’s Intel chip is the MINIX operating system and a software stack, which includes networking and a web server. It’s slow, hard to get at, and insecure as insecure can be.” More:

We do know that with it there:

In addition, thanks to Minnich and his fellow researchers’ work, MINIX is running on three separate x86 cores on modern chips. There, it’s running:

  • TCP/IP networking stacks (4 and 6)
  • File systems
  • Drivers (disk, net, USB, mouse)
  • Web servers

MINIX also has access to your passwords. It can also reimage your computer’s firmware even if it’s powered off. Let me repeat that. If your computer is “off” but still plugged in, MINIX can still potentially change your computer’s fundamental settings.

And, for even more fun, it “can implement self-modifying code that can persist across power cycles”. So, if an exploit happens here, even if you unplug your server in one last desperate attempt to save it, the attack will still be there waiting for you when you plug it back in.

Holy moley!

Tech: “Apple Recommends Temporary Workaround for Autocorrect Bug in iOS 11.1” [MacRumors]. “An issue with Apple’s autocorrect feature emerged over the weekend after users began updating to iOS 11.1. First noted by Reddit user The Cravin, typing the letter ‘i ‘ can result in autocorrect replacing it with the uppercase letter ‘A ‘ and a question mark symbol. The problem isn’t universal, but is affecting enough users for Apple to publish a support document that offers a workaround until it can be resolved in a future update.” Sigh.

Tech: “How Level 3’s Tiny Error Shut Off the Internet for Parts of the US” [WIRED]. A configuration error. Naturally.

Five Horsemen: “Amazon pips Facebook and Apple for second place as the ponies round the curve” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Nov 7

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 66, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 65 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Nov 5 at 7:00pm.


“Buried within every cell of every organism on the planet, from bacteria to barnacles to Britons, is a living, working version of the earliest life on Earth – a time machine that allows us to peel away those 4 billion years of history and work out how it all began [rather like Minix in an Intel chip!]. ‘We can stop bullshitting about the origin of life,’ says Loren Williams, a biochemist at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta. ‘We can see it.’ What he and his colleagues are discovering is turning our view of life’s origins on its head” [New Scientist]. Sadly, behind a paywall.

“For Amazon tribe, rainforest is a whole world” [Agence France Presse]. “‘We don’t depend on commerce or money,’ Japarupi Waiapi says, explaining the tribe’s ancient, self-sufficient way of life, living in isolation from Brazil’s white settlers…. Akitu Waiapi, 24, stopped every 20 yards (meters) to point out the benefits of yet another tree. The bark from one helps cure diarrhea, another lowers fever, while a third aids the scarring process…. ‘There are a lot of medicinal elements in the forest and when people need them they just come and get them,’ Akitu Waiapi said.” Can’t have that! What’s wrong with these people? (In other words, the Amazon contains an edible forest, the world’s largest horticultural project, just as urged by Charles Mann in his wonderful 1491.)

News of the Wired

“almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983” [@gravislizard]. See especially the commentary on Google maps.

“Anger is temporary madness: the Stoics knew how to curb it” [Aeon]. With handy tips.

This video makes me happy and optimistic (apparently from the Astros victory parade):

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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 (JTee):

I just love that feeling of coming into a sunny clearing in the woods; JTee’s photo captures that feeling very well.

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. Looks like most of the country is past the peak, but maybe people have some images sitting in their camera’s memory…

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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. Jim Haygood

    From our Irresolvable Conundra department:

    New Jersey’s voters are going to the polls Tuesday to decide who will take over from outgoing Republican Gov. Chris Christie.

    Public polls consistently have found that the state’s voters list taxes as their top concern. NJ’s average residential property tax bill increased 32% during the past decade, reaching $8,200 in 2016.

    [Poll-leading Democrat Phil] Murphy, 60, has run on a progressive platform that promises higher spending for state employee-retirement benefits, public schools and higher education.


    If Phil Murphy wins (as is likely, since the R party incumbent is deeply despised) struggling NJ residents will get reamed harder and deeper with runaway property taxes, already the highest in the country.

    Which brings up the same conundrum endlessly addressed to Obamacare-hating red staters: Why do Democrats vote against their own interests?

    Evidently hapless Jerseyans cling to the seductive fantasy that after spending their working careers running as fast as they can just to stand still, they can bail for income-tax-free Florida to dwell under the swaying palms with their same neighbuhs and play free golf for life. Mind the water moccasins!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      [Poll-leading Democrat Phil] Murphy, 60, has run on a progressive platform that promises higher spending for state employee-retirement benefits, public schools and higher education.

      Why doesn’t he explain that more spending on education will lead to more compassionate and wise gruduates?

      They are not always positively correlated.

      And the primary, progressive goal is for more compassionate graduates, not more spending on education. That should be stated first and foremost…because we forget that all the time. You can even skip more spending sometimes, if you mention the primary, progressive goal. You can add more spending on education once in a while.

      1. Jim Haygood

        the primary, progressive goal is for more compassionate graduates, not more spending on education

        In 1985 an equal education funding decision by the NJ Supreme Court in Abbott v. Burke kicked off a program of pumping tens of billions of extra funding and capital improvements into ‘special needs’ districts. Abbott district students received 22% more per pupil ($20,859) than non-Abbott districts ($17,051) in 2011.

        You will not be surprised to learn that the 28 original Abbott districts now number 31. Not a single one ‘graduated’ to non-troubled status:


        But since the educrat establishment tilts Democratic, their objective is simply MOAR money for MOAR edumacation, despite its abject failure to fix the failing Abbott districts.

    2. ScientistYouLike

      Why do voters vote against their own interests? In most cases, the only way to avoid it is to not vote. Withholding support is an important option. Consultants and most media don’t see what is going on and attribute it to apathy.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I’ll bite. Who would you suggest New Jersey voters should select? We’ve had a run of fine leaders in the past — though Christie does set a new standard above an already high bar. I’m not sure we could top Christie.

      I just voted — but I didn’t vote for governor. Murphy claimed Hillery’s coattails and that was that as far as my vote. I haven’t voted for a Republican since Nixon [– a vote I regretted. George McGovern seemed like a nice guy but he couldn’t even hold the Democratic convention together leading me to seriously doubt he could stop the war].

      Property taxes in New Jersey are high and they seem to go up no matter what party runs the show. It’s just a question of where you want the most graft to flow. Like many states we supplement our taxes with state debt [http://www.thestatesproject.org/state-debt/ — We’re just behind Hawaii!]. We live for the moment — Carpe diem!

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      I may be missing something, but given “NJ’s average residential property tax bill increased 32% during the past decade, reaching $8,200 in 2016.” shouldn’t the real question the voters be asking be “Qui bono?”?

      If NJ is anything like the other 49 states, those three items have been starved almost to the point of extinction. Either that, or are being taken over by private interests and corporations. How many of those millions that 32% represents are now earning dividends in some hedge-fund manager cum charter school operator’s accounts?

      1. Carla

        Oh, crap. My NE Ohio home has a market value of maybe $150,000 which probably wouldn’t purchase a nice doghouse in New Jersey. My property tax bill is over $6,000/yr.

    5. Left in Wisconsin

      I think you are mixing apples and oranges. In all states with which I am familiar, property taxes fund local government and local public schools, not state government. Here in WI, state gov’t has reneged on its school funding commitments AND capped local property taxes, limiting the ability of communities that want to and can afford to to invest more in their schools.

      How about a 10% state income tax surcharge on incomes over $1 mm? That could fund some serious property tax relief! But you are correct that middle and working class citizens who vote for spineless politicians unwilling to go after the 1% are voting against their interests.

    6. Rambo

      Please, no more people from New Jersey. We’ve got our hands full down here with people from New York, Ontario, and lately (oddly enough) a county in Tennessee named Murfreesboro, none of which can drive.

  2. Wukchumni

    “U.S. farmers spent nine patient months indulging President Donald Trump’s desire to renegotiate NAFTA with the promise that he would ‘do no harm.’ Now, with Trump growing more bold with his threats to issue a formal intent to withdraw from the deal, farming groups say it’s clearer than ever that their pleas to save the pact are barely registering with a president intent on its destruction” [Politico]. “‘I’ve come to believe this administration is determined to end NAFTA,’ said Gordon Stoner, a fourth-generation Montana wheat farmer who leads the National Association of Wheat Growers.”

    You think the reign of error cares about some Stoner in Montana?

    Here’s how he knifed the citrus farmers here in the CVBB, and they were his big backers, ha!

    And what makes it extra juicy, is Obama initiated the idea of allowing Argentine lemon imports in, and it’s one of few things Obama did that fearless leader hasn’t tried to change…
    Efforts to protect domestic lemons — Tulare County’s second most valuable crop after dairy – failed this week when the House Rules Committee decided an amendment preventing Argentine lemon imports did not belong in a massive spending bill.

    “It’s disappointing,” said Joel Nelsen, president of California Citrus Mutual.”We believe the Argentine rule was produced in a flawed process for a variety of reasons.”

    Rep. Julia Brownley, (D-Westlake Village), has been trying to derail a decision made last year by the Obama administration to resume imports of the cheaper South American lemon from the world’s largest lemon-producing country.


    1. RUKidding

      I wonder who Gordon Stoner voted for? I mean, Trump made it endlessly CLEAR that one of his big goals was the repeal of NAFTA. I’m not sure what Stoner, assuming he voted for Trump, expected to happen.

      Ditto for probably most/all of the Citrus famers in CA’s Central Valley (having lived there, I can say that it’s highly like that most/all voted for Trump).

      What did they expect?

      It’s like those other Trump voters who wanted Trump to trash Obamacare but NOT ACA, which they liked.

      Drrrrrrrrr….. talk about cognitive dissonance.

      1. Wukchumni

        Well, NAFTA had nothing to do with Argentine lemons souring the farmers here on their choice in the election. I guess they’ll only get the satisfaction of having picking a winner.

    2. Utah

      This made me think about the Vanity Fair article from Sunday about the USDA. The article talks about how the Trump USDA has eliminated the Rural Development Program. That isn’t going to bode well for Montana farmers either- or any farmer. As someone from a rural red state, I can tell you that we do better under Dem presidencies, but GOP presidencies bring us down so far that we can never go back to where we were. Which is why rural areas are suffering. Republicans literally forget about us until voting time. And we keep voting for them.

      1. RUKidding


        Terry Gross interviewed Michael Lewis, the author of the Vanity Fair article, yesterday. I didn’t have time to listen to all of it, but it was definitely one of those head-shaking, huge sighs moments. Trump and his Cabinet of Dr. Caligari are laying waste to this country in rapid order.

        Both the Dept of Ag and the Energy Dept are run by know-nothings who, furthermore, want to know nothing. They simply don’t care. Science is Fake News. Get rid of all of the programs and staff, etc.

        It’s all about Tax Cuts for Trump & Family + his billionaire backers.

        The rural voters who thought Trump and the GOP were going to help them out are surely mistaken, as I knew they would be. But no doubt, the MAGA crowd is just thrilled to pieces with the deonstruction of the Agencies because, doncha know, Agencies and Regulationsa are, de facto, BAD.

        Good luck to us all, as there WILL be a trickle-down effect from all of this, but not trickle down that will do us any good.

  3. Vatch

    “… In Congress today, there are as many rodeo announcers as there are trade union members.”

    Is that really true? The article from the Congressional Research Services doesn’t say how many rodeo announcers there are, but since it says that there is one artist and one documentarty filmmaker, I strongly suspect there is only one rodeo announcer. There’s an electrician, a carpenter, a letter carrier, an auto worker, and four union representatives. Maybe all but one of these people let their union membership lapse, or maybe Krystal Ball, the author of the article in “The Hill”, is trying to hard to be provocative. Or maybe “rodeo” is a misprint for “radio”.

    1. lambert strether

      It’s right after the bulleted list:

      Other occupations listed in the CQ Roll Call Member Profiles include emergency dispatcher, letter carrier, urban planner, astronaut, flight attendant, electrician, auto worker, museum director, rodeo announcer, carpenter, computer systems analyst, Foreign Service officer, and software engineer

      I read that list as “singles that don’t fit into generic categories,” based on how the list was constructed.

      1. clinical wasteman

        does the previous holder’s election to Congress mean the letter carrier job is vacant?

      2. Vatch

        Yes, I interpreted that as one rodeo announcer, too. Electrician plus carpenter plus letter carrier plus auto worker probably equals four trade union members. And that’s not even counting the four union representatives. So it seems that Krystal Ball is mistaken and there are more trade union members than rodeo announcers.

  4. Dan Lynch

    Re: ‘I’ve come to believe this administration is determined to end NAFTA,’
    Don’t get my hopes up!
    FYI farmers are part of the 1%, and that includes the so-called family farms. If you own a farm, you’re rich.

    1. Wukchumni

      Look at it from a different way…

      There used to be tons of avocados grown north of San Diego before NAFTA, and now there’s hardly any grown there as 85% of US consumption comes from mostly Mexico. I’m ok with just salsa for my chips, but i’d prefer some creamy green guacamole.

      Where’s it going to come from, if NAFTA goes away?

      1. RUKidding

        That’s true, of course, but I often wonder if the Avo orchards would be gone anyway, even if NAFTA hadn’t happened. All of that PRIME Real Estate “just” for avocado orchards?? That RE now supports gazillions of Million$+ houses.

        Can we all say: CHA-CHING!!!!

        Sure NAFTA greased the wheels a bit, but I’m thinking that those Avo orchards woulda been long gone anyway. There are still Avo orchards offa the I-15, however, but not offa the I-5 (unless I missed something).

        That’s not to say that there aren’t good reasons to repeal (at least in part) NAFTA.

        1. Wukchumni

          If you were a county. would you rather have 20 homes paying $150k a year in total in property taxes, or one avocado orchard paying $7k?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Now . . . if every one of those homes devoted part of its yard to a highly intensive hand-groomed avocado micro-orchard, then the county could have 20 homes and some avocados too. Even if the avocados didn’t pay any more tax over and above the homes.

            Suburban permaculture.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        About 10 or 15 years, a broker from that area, around Temecula, was telling me to invest in avocado farms.

        “Easy. Get a management company and they will do all the work for you.”

        I know two friends who grow grapes in their 3 acre weekend home and they have a winemaker do the making and bottling part. Still, every weekend, during growing season, they work like slaves.

        Maybe olive is the way to go. They can live for hundreds of years. That’s what I call ‘stores of value.’ And land.

        I know tea is not feasible here in California; otherwise, I ask my other friend whose family in Japan has been in tea for many, many generations. More stores of value.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Tea is feasible – easy, except for the processing – in Oregon; why not in California? Are you warmer than Ceylon?

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the 2016 median “pay” for farmers is $66,360. We must have different ideas of the definition of “rich.”

      1. expat2uruguay

        When I think of “rich”, I think of wealth. You are looking at “pay”, which doesn’t even include return on investment (ROI). ROI is how the “rich” accumulate more wealth, as they are not working stiffs. so, you cannot look to pay or labor statistics to guide you as to the wealth, or “richness”, of farm owners.

        in other words, if your definition of “rich” is based on “pay”, then you are missing the true source, and measure, of wealth: assets.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Income and wealth are apples and oranges. One can easily have zero income or even a huge outflow and still be incredibly rich.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          What does one live on if one has no income?

          How long can one have a huge outflow without draining one’s wealth down to nothing?

          1. Kurt Sperry

            Q What does one live on if one has no income?
            A Given a sufficient nest egg, just hoarded wealth.

            Q How long can one have a huge outflow without draining one’s wealth down to nothing?
            A Given a sufficient nest egg, as long as one might conceivably live.

      3. WheresOurTeddy

        And the median for Americans is hovering in the low 30s, or about half of the $66K you cited above.

        Out here in the economic sacrifice zones, people will kill a kitten in front of a kindergarten class for $66K a year.

  5. Darius

    Gotta tax those Amazonians. Make them work for money so they can fork over a big chunk to the rent extractors. Can’t believe capitalism is letting them off so easily.

  6. Stephen V.

    A day late and a dollar short here: In comments a few days back the year 1917 was mentioned and it seemed that no one thought it was a remarkable year.
    And then I found this [fake news alert!] from RT, something I’d heard about only recently.

    Why didn’t Britain’s king save deposed Russian cousin after revolution?

    1. VietnamVet

      Besides the Bolshevik Revolution, the USA entered WWI in 1917. It is like imagining a 100 years later that 1941 is unremarkable. Likely, if Donald Trump ignites Rocket Man, climate change floods out a billion people, or California secedes.

  7. Louis Fyne

    Interesting to see how the polling will hold up in Virginia. both in terms of sampling by pollsters and correlation between poll respondents and turnout.

    If Virginia is a shocker, you’ll know where to look first when the autopsy starts.

  8. allan

    The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Doesn’t Comply with the Byrd Rule

    While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) under consideration in the House would satisfy reconciliation instructions requiring it add no more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit (which is far too much), as written it would violate the “Byrd rule” and thus would require 60 votes to pass in the Senate.

    Most significantly, we estimate the legislation would add about $155 billion to the deficit in 2028; the Byrd rule does not allow reconciliation legislation to add to the deficit at all beyond the budget window (which currently ends in 2027). …

    1. allan

      The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act: Dynamic Effect on the Budget and the Economy [UPenn Wharton]

      Key Points

      •This brief reports Penn Wharton Budget Model’s (PWBM) dynamic analysis of The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which complements our static analysis previously released.

      •PWBM’s dynamic analysis finds that, depending on parameter values, the bill lowers tax revenues between $1.4 trillion to $1.7 trillion over 10 years while increasing federal debt between $2.0 trillion and $2.1 trillion over the same time period. By 2040, debt is between $6.3 trillion and $6.8 trillion higher than otherwise.

      •TCJA raises GDP in 2027 between 0.33% and 0.83% relative to its projected value in 2027 with no policy change. However, this small boost fades over time, due to rising debt. By 2040, GDP may even fall below current policy’s GDP. …

      Completely ignores the expansionary effects of business journalists being hired to track down and report on
      the various ways to game the loopholes the TCJA will introduce.

      Also too Wharton should have recused itself since UPenn will be subject to the 1.4% excess endowment tax.

  9. Opium for the Calm

    Regarding stoics
    Conveniently forget to tell that Marcus Aurelius was constantly high on opiates. Makes it easier to not care too much

    1. Craig H.

      Alex de Botton’s episode on Seneca might be his best one. Seneca was a really bright guy but he should have figured how to get himself exiled to Sicily or Greece. During one of those Roman fake news panics Nero ordered him to kill himself.

    2. Paul Cardan

      That would be a contentious claim among those who study Marcus in particular and the Stoics generally. It does not appear to be well supported by the available evidence. Galen, Marcus’ physician, claimed that he was giving Marcus something called theriac, a curative mixture of numerous ingredients containing some quantity of opium. As far as I can tell, no one knows how much opium was involved. Galen claims that Marcus took theriac as a cure for insomnia. When the “cure” caused him to be fatigued the following day, he (Marcus) would cut back on the dosage. The claim that Marcus was an addict seems to go back to an article by Thomas Africa that appeared in the Journal of the History of Ideas in 1961. Most of the author’s argument for addiction depends on what appear to me to be a series of misreadings of passages from Marcus’ Meditations. For alternative readings of those and other passages, Hadot’s The Inner Citadel is worth a look. Its one of the better books on Marcus by one of the better recent scholars of Hellenistic philosophy. Hadot, incidentally, dismisses the claims about opium addiction.

  10. Summer

    Re: Tech

    Everyday I’m more convinced we’re in the techno-future portrayed in “Brazil” (1985 movie).

  11. Pat

    I actually feel sorry for Virginians at the moment. Mind you I didn’t have much of a choice here in NYC either, but it must be clear to anyone who has not bought the tribal kool-aid that in Virginia this race is about choosing the evil outcome that you can most easily survive.

    That doesn’t stop me from hoping this latest affront to the party of FDR is yet another ‘Democratic’ loss.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If a victory for Northam would lead the Clinton wing of the party to decide that more Clintonism is the playbook to use, then the only way to prevent that from happening would be to make Northam lose. Are there enough progressive Democrats in Virginia who are committed to retiring Clintonism to vote against Northam to make Northam lose?

  12. Louis Fyne

    i know that there was that donna brazile post yesterday—-but after reading some of the excerpts from her book, wow.

    given the debts of the DNC and if I recall correctly the DNC is balance sheet broke…..game over. declare bankruptcy. clear house in DC.

    start over. let the GOP take the mantle of being the party of the Delta Shuttle class.

    1. Bill Smith

      The DNC is told the Russians are in their computers. The DNC decided not to do anything for a month. Who is colluding with the Russians? Then on Oct 21st the find them in there again? (Or still in there?)

  13. Adrienne

    Re: almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983

    another thing you should know about me – and this is where i think a lot of people will start disagreeing – I don’t believe in “intuitive”
    I think it’s a crock of shit. Hogwash. Absolutely false. The belief that GUIs are more intuitive is marketing for GUIs.
    GUIs are in no way more intuitive than keyboard interfaces using function keys such as the POS I posted earlier. Nor do they need to be.
    GUIs require you to learn how to use a mouse, how input focus works, how multiple windows work, how modal dialogs work.

    Amen to that (and to the whole thread). Years ago I came across the saying: “the only ‘intuitive’ interface is a human breast.”

    My first encounter with a computer was in the late 90s, a DOS-based library cataloging program that had a text-and-Fn key interface. As @gravislizard notes, lightning fast, even on low-powered Win machines of the day. Easy to learn, easy to use, nearly idiot-proof. Stable as heck-it literally NEVER crashed.

    Now we have s*** like Google Maps, truly an abomination that gets worse with every iteration. JavaScript-powered UIs are a crime against humanity IMHO. JavaScript is killing the Web, too: every bloated page takes forever to load, infests your browser cache with cruft and trackers, and eats up your bandwidth; a cycle demanding ever more power-hungry devices. I have an iPad 2 from 2011 that, with JS turned off, browses a charm: but turn on JS and the device wheezes and chokes. It’s purely a resource demand issue: planned obsolescence via code.

    Unfortunately most software developers employed by the big tech companies are too young to know anything else, so it’s only gonna get worse. Intel backdoors may finally crash this system and we can rebuild it to something simple & sane, but I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Louis Fyne

      i love the command line, alt/fn + key, etc. too.

      Helped that in 4th grade at our Christian school we had typing class for a couple of weeks and learned the home row/using all 10 fingers to type——using old school ribbon typewriters! (and this was in the 80’s)

      Every kid should learn to type via the old school method using the home keys. But if I recall correctly typing isn’t included in “Common Core.”

      shaking my head.

      1. Wukchumni

        France doesn’t do QWERTY, it’ll throw you for a loop if you pop into an internet cafe there and use their computer.

      2. Oregoncharles

        My mother sent me to a secretarial school to learn typing when I was in junior high – in the early 60’s. Took a while, but I’m a clutz. So I’m touch-typing this. My accuracy hasn’t improved with age, though.

        When I try to hunt-and-peck because I’m leaning on one arm, I find it quite difficult. I don’t know where the keys are!

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks! I wondered how long it would take for someone to comment on the ultra hackable-PCs and the ever declining utility of our ever more powerful computers. [I didn’t want to be the first.]

      I really don’t know what to think about computer programmers. I used to work as a programmer before I retired. Every year some new language or new-and-improved paradigm came out to disrupt all past knowledge and skills and titillate managers and recent college graduates. When I finally retired — was compelled to seek new opportunities a couple of years before age 65 — I concluded programmers were remarkably intelligent, hard-working and clueless and I must politely refrain from expressing an opinion about the mid-level and upper-level management [my leads and direct managers were excellent]. Somewhere — somehow — programmers and the management responsible for requirements and judging the final product — forget the needs of those poor souls who will have to use that product. Substance gets lost in style, fancy tricks and gimmicks, and lusts and needs completely alien to the needs and best interests of the users.

      I thought the news about the internal operating systems on X86 chips was far and away the most disturbing news I’ve read in some time.

      1. The Rev Kev

        With your thoughts on mid-level and upper-level management, you must be a fan of the BOFH. With the news of the internal operating systems on X86 chips, that is terrible news for nearly everyone on the planet but great news if you work for a three-letter surveillance organization.

      2. JBird

        I was never very happy using PC-DOS, but it’s true that I didn’t have any problems like with Apple’s latest updates bricking part of my iPhone. Now I have to wait however long it takes for the complaints to get them to do a patch.

        It’s the craptastic programming that’s the problem. Keep on the writing poorly written code spaghetti on top of the original spaghetti and be surprised when things go wrong.

        And what is with these intel chips having a place where no operating system can control and is completely open to outside control? Next time I read about child porn being found on someone’ pc, I’m going to ask if the NSA/CIA/FBI/FSB/MI6/MI5/Los Zetas or anybody really, doesn’t like him.

    3. Craig H.

      Their search engine is a pit but google maps is gold. I even use it on my phone and I hardly do anything with my phone. Every time I have tried the competition it wasn’t even close. And it’s free! All I have to tell them is the lat and lon I am interested in, personally.

      Did you know there is a place in North Korea called Gulag Road?

      39.878181, 127.636736

      Some of their data is from power users. Pretty sure the NK’s themselves do not call it Gulag Road. I found Gulag Road looking at the lat and lon for an NK nuclear test a couple years ago. Their cluster programs have fun with my data I am sure.

    4. Ellery O'Farrell

      Agree completely. Resisted graphics until I couldn’t (and even then I ran OS/2 as long as I could).

      Keyboards forever! (Well, you know what I mean) Bring back WordPerfect 5.2!!

    5. Propertius

      If people just programmed in assembler, as God intended, there wouldn’t be anywhere near as much bad software in the world.

  14. LaRuse

    Re: Virginia

    It is cold and wet in a lot of the State today. I haven’t been to the polls yet (I will go after work) but my husband went around 2pm and said there was hardly anyone in the building and there was no line at all.

    All of my liberal friends are VERY fired up for Northam and highly confident he will pull away with ease because of all the polls. Very much shades of 2016 to my ears. Remember all those people who wouldn’t admit out loud that they were going to vote for Trump? I think there is a bit of that going on here too. I will not at all be surprised if there is a Gillespie surprise for my liberal friends in the morning.

    3 times in the past month, I have spent long hours on driving between Richmond and Danville on Route 360. As soon as you get away from the RVA Metro area, out into the rural areas, you see an awful lot of Gillespie signs. I saw 1 Northam sign along that entire 2 hour route.

    This has been one of the ugliest gubernatorial campaigns I have ever witnessed in VA (our state politicians still like to maintain an air of southern gentlemen), and I think the race turned off a lot of younger voters.

    The real telling race in VA that no one is talking about is Lieutenant Governor. Jill Vogel is “Michele Bachman-level” crazy and she is a major Trump supporter. Lt. Governor is pretty harmless in VA but it will be very telling if she wins. Her opponent, Justin Fairfax, is a black man without any real governing experience (he has been a federal prosecutor though), and I hate that it is true, but this is still VA and a LOT of hateful people will take a right wing Trumpist candidate over a person of color no matter what that candidate’s positions might be.

    1. Nordberg

      Different view from here in Charlottesville. Normally the non-national years are empty. However, I went this morning and left as it was too crowded and I had to go to work. I went back when I had some time and the line was less, but I still had to wait to get my ballot. With the recent troubles, I imagine Charlottesville may be a bit more active than other locales though. Just my view from the Old Dominion.

    2. LaRuse

      Following up from earlier:
      It was quite busy at my precinct when I got there around 5:10 tonight. Not sure what the regular turn out for my place is but I was No. 1,489 of aprox. 6,500 registered voters. So what, a 20-25% turnout by 5pm? Not too bad I think, especially considering the very cold and wet weather.

  15. Henry Moon Pie

    The reason neoliberal Dems don’t keep it simple is that they mean what they say about being the party of the “middle” class insofar as they are trying to keep any benefits granted from ending up in the pockets of the poor. If it’s a tax credit, most of the time that means you don’t get it if you don’t owe any taxes. At the least, it means you have to file and have a regular address. Now it’s true you must meet those same conditions for SS, but only once, not each and every year.

    Then there’s also that seemingly irresistible Dem impulse to social engineer. It’s a trait that has helped make Limbaugh millions. The Republicans do the same thing, but claim divine inspiration.

  16. Jason Boxman

    Growing up under neoliberalism, it’s otherworldly to see notices for Social Security or the NHS. It’s hard to believe such things were ever possible.

  17. Wukchumni

    “The Wall” [Brookings Institute]. “Why the DHS believes that a 30–foot tall wall cannot be scaled and a tunnel cannot be built deeper than six feet below ground is not clear.” There’s a lot about the what the DHS believes that’s not clear.

    When they trooped out those sample walls last week, I got a very 2001-A Space Odyssey feel to the various obelisks offered up.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Time to consult Chinese Great Wall experts?

      When Hideyoshi invaded Korea unsuccessfully, in part thanks to “turtle ships,’ he forced many a few potters to Kyushu. And many tea masters in Japan were grateful.

      A few hundreds years before that, around 1100’s, the Khitans did the same with Ding Yao pottery workers.

      And so, it would be no shame to take a few wall experts back home. Many things were invented in China anyway.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Thanks! Also look at the publications accessible through the link WobblyTelomeres pointed to in a comment above. The couple of papers I read through were very accessible — even to a layman like me — and extremely interesting. Also note that the PNAS source for the article you linked to — which is embedded in that article — can also be downloaded without a paywall.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          The mycelium of many mushrooms has a symbiotic relationship with the roots of plants. The hairlike mycelium furnishes nitrogen, phosphorous and water to the plant. The plant give the mushroom sugars which it can’t produce itself.

          But some fungi don’t engage in the give-and-take. The Chalara dieback of ash trees in Britain is caused by a parasitic fungus that takes from the ash trees but gives nothing in return.

          The analogy to human society is pretty obvious. That’s why I prefer to never call our oppressors “elites” but rather “parasites.” They take our labor and the bounty of the earth but give nothing in return.

          They’re killing both hosts.

  18. Wukchumni

    Shipping: “Wilbur Ross’s shipping investments at the centre of the Paradise Papers” [Splash 247]. “Ross has a stake in Navigator Holdings, which has contracts with Sibur, a Russian gas company part-owned by Kirill Shamalov, the husband of Putin’s daughter Katerina Tikhonova.

    Love the name involved with the caper: Kirill Shamalov

    Sounds like a salesman @ boiler room somewhere on Long Island-selling metric tons of gold, or the villain in a Bond film.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That sounds a lot like the way business is done in China.

      You can’t avoid doing business with some powerful politician’s relatives…in one way or another, if not directly or immediately. Perhaps the landlord of your Beijing office is owned by the PLA.

      Then, you’re in some sort of collusion…with the Chinese this time, and maybe not so problematic, as we are only shadow boxing Russia now.

  19. Utah

    Utah is never in the news, and when we are, it is never good. I found a twitter feed about Russia+ Utah and a NYT article about Russia+ Utah today, if anybody is interested in what happens in my backward state:
    1- Jon Huntsman Jr was Governor of Utah during Uranium One deal- had to sign off on it. Is now the Ambassador to Russia
    Huntsman is generally revered in this state, and Clinton is despised, so I doubt my local media will touch this.

    And 2- Bank of Utah is registering private jets for Russian (and other) oligarchs in their name. As found in the Paradise Papers
    So far no local news, but we aren’t afraid of corruption, and letting people get off scot-free, so it is possible we’ll see some coverage.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Barry Ritholtz on how to turn the FAANG [Facebook Apple Amazon Netflix Google] stocks into the FAAG stocks:

    Apple should buy Netflix in an all-stock deal for about $100 billion.

    In this scenario, Apple would be wildly overpaying for Netflix. However, the world’s most valuable company has a not-so-secret weapon: its own wildly expensive currency. Apple, whose stock price has surged 50 percent this year, is worth almost $900 billion. It is on its way to becoming the first trillion-dollar company.

    If Apple passes on Netflix, don’t be surprised if Amazon does not. That alone is reason to make the purchase.


    This is the kind of “no fear, no limits” sentiment which prevails when bubbles reach the stage of unhinged euphoria.

    Anything is possible now, my brothers!” as the Bush family’s nemesis Saddam Hussein used to boast, without considering the possibility of his own fall from power.

    Note how the author assumes that Apple is “on its way” to a trillion-dollar market cap, as if it’s baked in the cake and is just a matter of time. If so, AAPL will blow the top off our chart if MSFT don’t get there first.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Maybe it’s time for baby Amazons.

      “Yes, go ahead. Skip birth control. The world is waiting eagerly for your heirs. Do it for America.”

      Then, there can be more headquarters for them to excite potential municipal hosts.

  21. ewmayer

    Re. “almost everything on computers is perceptually slower than it was in 1983” — Lambert, I enjoy the 2pmwc, but every time you (this is also true fro other’s NC posts, but I hit it most often with 2pmwc) embed a Youtube clip my page load (typically from a shared wifi hotspot) slows noticeably, while all the code needed to show that clip loads, in a way that is immune to the usual ctrl-. trick to force a stop to page loading. Intensely irritating, as I almost never watch the clips. Since I don’t believe in mere complaining without suggesting possible fixes, I sent you the following link last month, along with a “might this help with the Youtube-page-bloat issue?”, but never heard back from you:

    How to Embed YouTube Videos Responsively without Increase Page Size

    So would this help, yes or no?

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      My daughter consistently uses more than 6 GB of data on her Verizon wireless phone yet swears she isn’t streaming Netflix or the running videos from the web unless she’s linked via WI-FI — which I thought avoids racking up data usage (?). However — there is some sort of app she was using with friends sharing videos with her. She swears she only opens these with WI-FI. Are you aware of some app/gotcha I might look for other than questioning my daughter’s sometimes limited verity?

      1. ocop

        My Android phone shows estimated data usage by app for the current billing cycle. I switched off of Verizon last year but I think their “My Verizon” app had similar functionally?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          THANKS! I’ll check that on my daughter’s phone.

          I still have a relatively dumb phone so all these tricksy apps are outside my experience and quite outside my desire to use or learn about. I only learned to text a year ago and do it as little as possible.

  22. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    And now some numbers. These voters give Trump 48% approval rating, 50% negative. Obama: 48%/37%. Sanders: 42%/31%. Clinton: 23%/60%. Taegan Goddard says: “That suggests Democratic prospects in these areas are actually quite good. They just had the wrong candidate in last year’s election.” I’d put it more forcefully: Bernie would have won. And woud win again


    1. Sanders would have won. Though, at this time, we have no time machine yet (not even one imported from the future – you would suppose someone would have done that…”Put THAT time machine inside this time machine.”) to go back in time.

    2. Anyone with similar policy positions (or better…for example, making every friendly nation a special relationship country, an objective truth-and-reconciliation review of the ‘great’ president Obama – that was from the first debate – and breaking up too-big corporations, etc) can win again.

    1. HotFlash

      Yes! And Taegan Goddard is blowing smoke with ‘Clinton: 23%/60%. That suggests Democratic prospects in these areas are actually quite good.”‘ Hillary does indeed have coattails, but they are negative. Bernie-ites will not forget what she did to him in the primaries, Medicare-for-all supporters will not forget ‘never, ever’, and blacks may remember “super predators’. Pundits, pundits, it’s about the policies, not the logo!

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Popular bumper sticker among us on the left in FarNorCal aka Calabama:

      Bernie Sanders: Hindsight is 2020

  23. Wukchumni

    Housing: “September 2017 CoreLogic Home Prices Reveal Nearly Half of the Nation’s Largest 50 Markets are Overvalued” (with table) [Econintersect].

    It’s a different flavor housing bubble, much more like the late 1980’s L.A. bubble-sans NINJA loans and the like from the last stanza, but still crazily frothy.

    A tale from that bubble…

    My friend was a newly minted Realtor in the early 1990’s, and went to work for a well known local used home shoppe, and a husband-wife duo that had always been in the top 10 in sales, were mostly doing janitorial work in the office, he told me. They hadn’t sold a house in 5 months.

  24. kareninca

    I know it’s not “cool” to admire physical courage and training that saves lives, but Stephen Willeford is a real hero.

    Here’s a summary (not mine) from the interview with him:

    he’s sitting in a chair relaxing when his daughter hears and recognizes gunshots which he dismisses initially as something tapping on the glass
    – gets up, moves to front of house and recognizes the sound as actual gun fire. immediately goes to the safe to retrieve his weapon and ammo
    – daughter apparently gets out and drives around the church and comes back and says there is a shooter.
    – he calls his wife/other daughter who are 5 miles down the road working on a house & says ‘stay put’
    – gives his other daughter busy work to keep her inside the house and out of the line of fire (told her to load a few mags i think)
    – walks outside barefoot (still loading his mag i think) and approaches shooter’s vehicle because he says every time he hears a shot ‘thats a bullet finding its target’
    – sees kevlar-clad shooter moving towards a running truck, shooter pulls out a pistol and begins firing at him.
    – he returns fire, notices weakness where kevlar velcro attach on the sides and hits a bullseye
    – shooter takes off in vehicle
    – he checks his weapon, has ONLY TWO BULLETS LEFT a chambered round & one left in the mag, flags down truck
    – pursues killer, stays on phone with police until the guy bleeds out & runs off the road
    – gets out, trains rifle on driver’s side window and waits for cops
    – cops arrive and say over bullhorn ‘put down your weapon’. he puts it down and the cop says ‘no, not you’
    – retrieves rifle and keeps it trained on truck (along with police) until enough units arrive and cop shields him with vehicle until he is out of harm’s way.

    Oh, and he was growing Santa beard “’cause I go on a motorcycle ride with the Baptist church where we deliver toys for boys and girls of low income around Wilson County.”

    1. Fiery Hunt

      And that’s why I support responsible gun ownership.

      Fix the background checks, have reasonable waiting periods for those checks but let Americans who are upstanding citizens have guns.

      Interesting sidenote…Mr. Willeford used an AR-15, same gun that both Vegas and Texas murderers had.

      1. JTMcPhee

        They are “law-abiding responsible gun owners” right up to the moment they kill their family members and co-workers and people who annoy them in bars and movie theaters or driving down our increasingly ugly roads, or gobiff the deep end and invite “suicide by cop,” or people who dare to tell them, down in the suburban cul-de-sacs, to stop yelling at kids playing basketball or tag…

        And gunz people know their beloved genie is out of the bottle, the toothpaste is out of the tube, and their is no path back to a more peaceful time that never was. NRA and Colt and Ruger and Glock and Armalite thank us gunz owners for our support and fixation…

    2. JTMcPhee

      NRA and citizen gunners will ride this one for years. Forget about Sandy Hook and Las Vegas and Orlando and the rest.

      Too bad, as that Texas politician said, that all the parishioners were not loaded for bear… boy, if that were required in some of the churches I have attended, the vestry meetings would be bloodbaths … there are “reasons” there are Second and Third and Fourth Baptist Churches .

      1. kareninca

        “Forget about Sandy Hook and Las Vegas and Orlando and the rest.”

        In which of those other cases could a regular citizen have had legal access to his gun, like this guy did? Any of them? Fort Hood was a “gun free zone.” I’m sure the Sandy Hook School was a “gun free zone.” Casinos are surely “gun free zones.” I imagine night clubs are “gun free zones.” So the fact that no legally armed regular citizen saved lives in those cases doesn’t seem to prove much.

        1. Yves Smith

          Australia has a mass shooting and cracked down in a huge way on the availability of guns. And guns had been popular in Australia, but they did and still do have a much greater respect for the common good than Americans do.

          Even police who are trained to shoot in dangerous real world situations land only about 15% of their shots. You are seriously telling me that having armed amateurs is an answer? The police experience shows that lots of bystanders get shot.

          So mass shooter still kills a lot of people

          Amateur shooter has a go. Maybe he gets shot. Maybe he kills the bad guy. Maybe he shots others because he is too full of adrenaline to take the time to aim carefully. This happens to police all the time. The odds are even higher with a random pistol-packer.

          And tell me how this is any solution for Las Vegas, where the shooter was high up and therefore not able to be targeted from the ground?

          Honestly, you gun fans have seen way too many action movies.

          1. Chris

            thank you Yves, another tragedy, I am sorry.

            It is somewhat fortunate that he didn’t get to kill more people thanks to that citizen. And unfortunate, in that his success will now provide gun advocates with ammunition (they didn’t really have before) that arming the civilian population will save lives….

            Gun buyback was the only good thing John H ever did as PM. It took 35 deaths to do it, but to his credit he pushed through a lot of resistance. Guns are now very hard to access for ordinary citizens who can’t access the criminals who can provide one for a price.

            So good on lil jony, but what a grub paving the neoliberal, ponzi disaster that is Straya….

          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            It’s spin. Reports now indicate that the killer finished himself off while driving away from the scene. The armed citizen who fired at him and followed him may have helped to cut short his rampage, but he was apparently exiting the church when the man confronted him.

            The narrative related by karenica above is not accurate. The armed citizen who confronted the killer did a great job, kept his head, did not worsen the situation and may have stopped the killer from shooting up the rest of the town. However, the ‘hero saving the day with his threatened gun’ narrative is gun extremist propaganda. By the time he was able to respond, the slaughter was done. Like Yves said, it’s not the movies.

            You won’t see our gun aficionados ever referring to the actual facts as they enter the public record. The internet meme of ‘hero with a gun’ is too handy for them, and they’ve been wanting a favorable story badly since Las Vegas.

          3. MichaelSF

            Even police who are trained to shoot in dangerous real world situations land only about 15% of their shots.

            anecdata: a year or three ago I saw someone comment on a gun discussion. He said he worked construction and was working on a building next to an old bank that was scheduled for demolition. The local police did a day of live-fire exercises in the bank building (lots of thick stone walls). He wandered over after they’d left (with all the targets left in place) and was pretty shocked at how few holes were in the targets compared to the walls of the buildings. I suppose there are probably “rat shot” kinds of rounds they can use for that where they wouldn’t need to worry about ricochet.

            I’m with JTMcPhee, they are all responsible owners until they aren’t (just like all of the “responsible dog owners” here in SF who have made large portions of Golden Gate Park off limits for us after multiple instances of having serious concerns for our safety — and that includes one on-leash Hound of the Baskervilles whose small owner was struggling to hold it back from attacking us and just barely succeeding).

  25. Wukchumni

    The flags are half mast in town on account of the mass murder, but since 35 are murdered every day on average by guns in these United States, wouldn’t it be prudent to leave it halfway up?

  26. Plenue

    >The Black Bloc: Inside America’s Hard Left

    Someone asked David Graeber on Twitter how he could keep cheering on Blac Bloc when he has to know at least half of them are undercover cops.

    His response was that he just ‘knows’ most of them aren’t, and that the undercover agents are really obvious. Suffice it to say I think Graeber is full of crap on this issue.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I’ve somewhat reluctantly come to the conclusion that it’s a bad idea. However, a consideration:

      While they aren’t known to us, they are to each other. On that level, they are NOT anonymous. That doesn’t necessarily stop infiltrators, but it wouldn’t be quite as easy as it appears. It might come down to how good the local group is.

      Graeber is implying that he actually knows them, or some of them. I’ve met 2 people who were avowedly Black Bloc, a long time ago. They were students and very earnest.

  27. audrey jr

    Lead story N.Y. Post at 6:38P.M. PST: Northam wins VA gubernatorial race. Can’t keep a good neolibcon down!!!

    1. Octopii

      Oh come on. The other guy was a disaster. At least Northam isn’t likely to do any further damage. Some of us have to live in this state. I’m relieved that he won.

      1. kj1313

        Yeah as a Dem Socialist I rather have a milquetoast neolib than someone who would try to mimic Trump’s worst qualities. I am very happy that Our Revolution/DSA backed candidates are picking up seats. It does look like there might be a potential Dem wave in 2018.

        1. Yves Smith

          A milquetoast neoliberal would happily gut Social Security and Medicare, not back single payer, and allow the opioid crisis to continue (notice they are doing nothing about it, not even handwringing much). I would curb your enthusiasm.

          1. WheresOurTeddy

            Many on twitter who discovered politics once Trump became president are thrilled at this result.

            Not sure why. A Neoliberal is a republican wolf in faux populist sheep skin. It’s not if they’ll bite you, it’s when.

            1. Eureka Springs

              So what will the total turnout be of registered (not even total of eligible).. in the mid 30 percentiles at best? Dems will win with 15+ percent of the voters and think they once again are all that and a box of donuts.

              The ignored story continues to be massive illegitimacy, general strike levels of not voting for either of these criminal anti-democratic parties.

              When 80 percent do not vote for a so-called winner… there should be an automatic nullification, or something.

          2. kj1313

            Oh yeah that’s why the left needs to keep challenging them, whether it is Medicare for All and Fight for 15. Battles have to be ongoing within and from the left of the Dem Party.

      2. FluffytheObeseCat

        Congratulations. Seriously. I feel a sense of despair even saying so in regards to such an unimpressive candidate. However, Virginia did not need to be ‘Brownbacked’ into misery. We have had quite enough immiseration of regular people in too many other states when doctrinaire kooks gain control of the statehouse. I don’t care if it will “help drive out the neoliberal Clintonistas or not. (For one, I suspect it’s always ‘not’. People just get used to an even crappier deal than they’d had before the kooks got into power. Rule by nuts become the ‘new normal’, and life gets worse across the board.)

        It was unpleasant to read the smug, glowing response to the election results in the New York Times. Predictable admiration for the ‘moderate’ wins in VA and NJ saturated their coverage. But, so what.

  28. Edward E

    Many big trucking companies backed the ELD mandate, now we know why. Whereas they used to give excess freight to small-fleet carriers now they just take them over and keep it. Those small fleets actually keep their equipment up and get their drivers home, unlike the big carriers, wish it didn’t have to be like this.

    With less than two months left before the ELD mandate goes into effect, statistics coming from ground zero on the compliance of carriers to the proposed rule are far from satisfactory. Kevin Hill from CarrierLists.com undertook an interesting study, where he surveyed ELD adoption rates with 1,600 carrier companies. “The deadline is fast approaching, and yet, only 35% of the fleets have purchased and installed ELD devices for their fleets,” says Hill.

    The records kept by the American Trucking Association (ATA) show that 97.2% of all fleet owners operate fewer than 20 trucks, thus classifying an overwhelming majority to be small-fleet carriers. Larger fleets ply with deeper pockets and many have already complied with the mandate or are in the process of equipping their trucks with the ELD, unlike the smaller fleets.

  29. Oregoncharles

    The 5 Horsemen went vertical the last part of Oct. It’s a bizarre chart that strikes me as a very bad sign, though they’ve fallen back a bit.

    “Animal spirits.”

  30. Oregoncharles

    ” the Amazon contains an edible forest, the world’s largest horticultural project, just as urged by Charles Mann in his wonderful 1491.”
    I don’t know what Mann said about it (a book I’ll keep in mind), but this is a spontaneous result of shifting cultivation. The cultivators aren’t stupid; they don’t take out trees that are useful to them, just enough that they can plant their crops. Plus, they know what seeds are for, so they plant the trees they want. Over time as they cycle through the area, the concentration of useful trees goes up until there’s little else.

    Years ago, I saw a paper speculating on the implausible frequency of avocado trees. It’s a large, costly fruit with a huge seed; what could have spread it? He thought giant ground sloths, which could swallow the fruit whole, but he forgot primates, both large and small, which could carry the fruits around – and in the larger case, wouldn’t cut down the good ones. People have been in the New World about 20,000 years (a highly contentious number), and spread with remarkable speed from one end to the other.

  31. BoycottAmazon

    Transcript available, but I don’t know how to extract it and then add punctuation other than manually.

    … Douglas Merrill the
    former chief information officer at
    Google coined the phrase “all data is
    credit data” which means that all the
    information that you create online could
    be used in some way to affect your
    credit rating.

    The RealNews Network: Join The Dots: Data WTF?


    create about you and Facebook has you
    might see the kind of stream of stories
    about the kinds of things that they’ve
    been doing the data in terms of buying
    information from other companies
    tracking you when you’re off the
    platform and a lot of these companies
    are financial companies like axiom and
    Experian who will be making these kinds
    of credit ratings about you and it’s
    very hard to escape that the pressures
    to come to take part in these platforms
    because now with your credit rating
    being decided on your use of Facebook
    either other platforms you really then don’t
    have the option of just shying away from
    it all because there’s many things that
    you need in society that now that
    there’s a prerequisite that you use
    these these platforms

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