2:00PM Water Cooler 12/12/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I will be back after putting in a laundry with the stuff I just couldn’t get to! –lambert UPDATE 3:00PM All done!

Net Neutrality

“Net Neutrality isn’t the only thing the current FCC is screwing up” [TechCrunch]. “In mid-November, the Commission decided to ‘re-think‘ its Lifeline program, which provides subsidies for broadband internet subscriptions to low-income Americans in cities and tribal regions around the country.”

“Net Neutrality’s Holes in Europe May Offer Peek at Future in U.S.” [New York Times]. “Last spring, Swedes got a tantalizing offer: If they subscribed to Sweden’s biggest telecom provider, Telia Company AB, they could have unlimited access on their mobile phones to Facebook, Spotify, Instagram and other blockbuster apps.”

Trade

“Trump’s disdain casts unease over World Trade Organization summit” [Politico]. “President Donald Trump’s disdain for multilateral trade deals is casting a shadow over this year’s event. And nations who have long depended on the United States to drive the policy agenda and lead the battle to lower global trade barriers are looking to see who, if anyone, they might be able to count on to fill the leadership vacuum the U.S. has left.”

Politics

2020

“Trump: Sanders would run for president ‘even if he’s in a wheelchair’: report” [The Hill (UserFriendly)]. We did pretty well with the last President in a wheelchair.

“Democrats go soul-searching in Iowa” [BBC]. Excellent reporting, with many quotes from Iowans. “Will the Democrats embrace ambitious, sweeping progressive big-government priorities such as universal healthcare, free college tuition, a $15 national minimum wage, gun control and a tax structure that reduces income inequality? Or will a winning political message focus on bipartisanship, problem-solving, economic growth and job-creation, offering a contrast to the perceived divisiveness and belligerence of the Trump era?”

“Open primaries? Democratic establishment bars anyone who challenges an incumbent from using the party’s Votebuilder database” [Boing Boing (flora)] Important. Combined with Obama defenestrating Ellison in favor of Perez, and Perez purging the Rules and Bylaws Committe of all Sanders supporters, and the Establishment doubling down on Clinton’s post-Convention pivot right with Ossoff, Jones, and others, it looks like the Clintonites — as well as those five (5) strategists who took the Party for a cool $700 million in 2016 — have tightened their death grip on the party. Fortunately, Sanders never gave them his list.

2017

UPDATE Handy map:

Watch those upscale Republicans (bottom right). That’s what makes this election like Ossoff, and like Clinton’s post-Convention pivot right. These are the highly educated, Thomas Frank-style voters the Democrat establishment wants to peel off (anything but the proles!).

Hoo boy:

Former President Barack Obama has recorded an automated phone message for Mr Jones” [BBC]. “‘This one’s serious,’ Mr Obama said in his call. ‘You can’t sit it out.'”

“One fewer Republican vote in the Senate means less margin for error for Trump’s agenda in that chamber. And while this might not affect tax reform – if he wins, Jones probably wouldn’t be seated for at least a couple of weeks – it could disrupt all other item’s on Trump’s to-do list for 2018” [NBC]. “As Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., said on ‘Meet the Press’ last Sunday, there would be an IMMEDIATE ethics investigation into Moore. ‘We’ll have a greater opportunity for us to look into all the issues, the allegations, and perhaps even talk with some of the folks who are witnesses. That will give us a clear picture.'” It would be a shame if Democrats ended up having thrown Al Franken under the bus for no (good, political) reason.

“[I]f Mr. Moore wins, and then further evidence emerges indicating he is simply not fit to serve, Republicans can force him out and Alabama’s governor, a Republican, can replace him with a Republican. Some Republicans may even vote for Mr. Moore, hoping he will be removed, but knowing that the seat will still be held by a Republican” [Washington Times]. Realpolitik! (And Alabama has straight ticket voting, so you can pull the level for the Republicans while not actually voting for Moore.)

“In an interview with CNN, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would not say if the GOP conference would welcome him into its weekly policy lunches or give him committee assignments” [CNN]. “Other top Republicans also punted when asked whether Moore would be named to any committee — a remarkably unusual move given that most senators tend to serve on four to five panels each.”

“Why No One Knows What Will Happen in Alabama” [Nate Cohn, New York Times]. “There are two major ways that pollsters estimate the likely electorate, and neither is perfect. One common approach is to screen voters based on whether they say they will vote. … There’s a lot of evidence that vote history — whether someone voted in previous elections — is a better predictor than people’s self-reported turnout intention. But the vote-history approach struggles if there isn’t a comparable past election, or if there’s some other reason to think turnout patterns will be different than in the past…. it is entirely possible that a pollster that appears to ‘get it right’ might have only stumbled onto it by accident.” As indeed the Los Angeles Times “Daybreak” poll did in 2016, by over-estimating rural votes in its methodology (which turned out to be a good through accidental proxy for the actual electorate).

“[T]he question of how we remember men like Patton, Jefferson, and King — men whose greatness was known well before many of their sins were disclosed — is completely separate from the question of the day. That question is not whether the people of Alabama should vote for a great man with a serious flaw, but whether the people of Alabama should vote for a terrible man who lacks any redeeming virtue. In fact, Moore is so terrible that the most likely outcome of his elevation to the Senate is direct and important harm to the causes most Alabama Republicans claim to support” [National Review].

* * *

“Why progressives are being cautious over who should replace Al Franken” [Mic]. “While some are calling on Ellison to mount a campaign for the Senate seat Franken will vacate, many more progressive groups — including those who have been staunch Ellison backers in the past — are lying conspicuously low in what seems to be a largely unspoken view among Democrats that Franken’s seat should be filled by a woman.” Especially, no doubt, a neoliberal woman.

“Senate vacancy creates opportunity, complications galore” [Minnesota Public Radio (UserFriendly)]. “No matter what, the race will be a sprint by current standards. That means candidates must decide soon to start building backing within their parties and, more importantly, raising cash. With 47 weeks before the next election, the pressure to build up a campaign account will be intense. If the race costs each party nominee $15 million — a low number in recent times for competitive Senate races — that means raking in more than $300,000 a week for a candidate who starts now.”

2016 Post Mortem

“In the article, Ms. Dunham said she had warned two Clinton campaign officials against associating with Mr. Weinstein. ‘I just want you to know that Harvey’s a rapist and this is going to come out at some point,’ Ms. Dunham said she told the campaign. In reply to Ms. Dunham’s comments, Nick Merrill, the communications director for Mrs. Clinton, said, ‘As to claims about a warning, that’s something staff wouldn’t forget'” [New York Times]. Paraphrasing several commentators: “‘I should have listened to Lena Dunham’ isn’t something I ever thought I’d say.”

New Cold War

UPDATE “The FBI’s Perjury Trap of the Century” [David Stockman, Antiwar.com]. Case for the defense. Fun stuff: “[W]e couldn’t agree more…. that General Flynn is a very foolish man. He was not required to speak to the FBI when agents came to interview him on January 24. Moreover, as the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency he surely knew that the FBI would have been monitoring Kislyak and that the FBI had recordings of the conversations the agents wanted to ask him about. That he agreed to submit to the interview anyway, and then to lie, is surely one of the stupidest acts coming out of official Washington that we can recall from 47 years of observation. But perhaps it does explain why America’s legions of puffed-up generals have been such abysmal failures for onwards of a half-century now.” Ouch!

UPDATE “Do Republicans Have the Ammo to Take Down Robert Mueller?” [Vanity Fair]. “Despite the onslaught of criticism [over, e.g., Strzok], a number of Republicans continue to voice opposition to White House or Congressional interference in Mueller’s probe. ‘I can’t imagine him being terminated,” Senator Bob Corker, a vocal Trump critic, told the Post. “To me, that would be a step too far.’ But bipartisan efforts to protect Mueller’s job have stalled as Republicans argue that there appears to be no imminent threat to the special counsel.”

UPDATE “Logan Act Is Too Vague to Prosecute Flynn. Or Anyone” [Bloomberg]. From February, still germane: “[The Logan Act] is probably unconstitutional. Enacted by the Congress that brought you the Alien and Sedition acts, the law is too vague for enforcement. And it violates free-speech standards that are the law today but went unrecognized by the John Adams administration.”

Tax “Reform”

UPDATE “The Games They Will Play: Tax Games, Roadblocks, and Glitches Under the New Legislation” [SSRN] (from thirteen “top tax lawyers”). Here are the headings:

A. Using Corporations as Tax Shelters

B. Pass-Through Eligibility Games

C. Restructuring State and Local Taxes (SALT) to Maintain Deductibility

D. International Games, Roadblocks, and Glitches

E. Arbitrage Money Machines: Gaming the Rates Differentials on Business Income

F. Other Glitches, Some of Which Would Haphazardly Penalize Taxpayers

And from the Executive Summary:

The complex rules proposed in the House and Senate bills will allow new tax games and planning opportunities for well-advised taxpayers, which will result in unanticipated consequences and costs. These costs may not currently be fully reflected in official estimates already showing the bills adding over $1 trillion to the deficit in the coming decade. Other proposed changes will encounter legal roadblocks, that will jeopardize critical elements of the legislation. Finally, in other cases, technical glitches in the legislation may improperly and haphazardly penalize or benefit individual and corporate taxpayers.

They don’t put a dollar figure on the costs, but it’s hard to see how they could have.

More like this please:

UPDATE “As the details of the GOP tax bill slowly became public, I realized that my lifelong fight for economic justice wasn’t just ideological. It was now personal. Already, I face agonizing questions like the ones faced by people I’ve spent my career advocating for: In the coming years, unless a miracle strikes, I will need a wheelchair and become dependent on others to keep me clean, fed and comfortable” [WaPo]. “The Republican tax bill could cut many people like me off from government services. It automatically triggers $400 billion in cuts to Medicare, and Mick Mulvaney, the head of the White House Office of Management and Budget, will have sole responsibility for deciding what programs to slash. Mulvaney opposes the Medicare disability program. If this tax bill passes, will I be able to get the ventilator I need to stay alive?” Embodiment…

Trump Transition

Sigh:

UPDATE “This is the White House wise man Trump’s detractors are counting on” [McClatchy]. “Hagin, deputy chief of staff for operations in the White House, is the rare, perhaps singular person in Trump’s orbit who commands near-universal respect and even gratitude from across the ideological spectrum. He is widely seen as a steadying hand in an administration that has struggled with investigations, inexperience and infighting, according to two dozen interviews with Trump, George W. Bush and Barack Obama administration officials and veterans of the Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton presidential campaigns.”

UPDATE “Trump Takes Credit for Killing Hundreds of Regulations That Were Already Dead” [Bloomberg]. “Hundreds of the pending regulations had been effectively shelved before Trump took office. Others listed as withdrawn are actually still being developed by federal agencies. Still more were moot because the actions sought in a pending rule were already in effect.”

UPDATE “White House Opposes Push by Trump Accusers for Sexual-Misconduct Probe” [Wall Street Journal]. “The White House on Monday opposed fresh calls for Congress to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct by President Donald Trump and demands from some Democratic lawmakers that he resign, saying any questions about Mr. Trump’s behavior were answered by last year’s election.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Good question from Alabama, but with wide implications:

“Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has put herself in the spotlight by calling on Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) to step down and saying President Clinton should have resigned during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.” [The Hill]. “‘All this reeks of is political opportunism and that’s what defines Kirsten Gillibrand’s career,’ one Democratic strategist* said. ‘Why wasn’t she talking about Bill Clinton when he was helping her during her various races for the House and Senate? And would she be talking about Bill Clinton today if Hillary Clinton was president? I think we all know the answer.'” NOTE * One of the Fab Five?

“Women in Florida politics fear #MeToo moment will backfire” [Tampa Bay Times]. “Female staffers and lobbyists who returned to the Capitol last week for pre-session meetings, discovered many male legislators will no longer meet with them privately.”

Stats Watch

JOLTS, October 2017 (Monday): “Job openings fell back and hirings picked up to narrow a gap which is still large and still pointing to unusually tight conditions in the labor market” [Econoday]. “[O]penings have been ahead of hires for nearly 2 years as employers have had a difficult time filling positions in what underscores recent warnings out of the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book: that lack of skilled workers is holding down business expansion.” “Skills mismatch” will never die….

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, Novermber 2017: “Optimism among small business owners is surging” [Econoday]. “The monthly jump in small business sentiment beat analysts’ forecasts with 8 out of the 10 components of the index rising, led by a 16-point gain in expected better business conditions to 48 and an increase of 13 points to 34 in sales expectations.” And: “the second highest reading in the 44-year history of the NFIB surveys (108.0 in July 1983)” [Econintersect]. And: “Small-business owners are elated by the business-friendly tone and tilt toward tax cuts in Washington, even though they acknowledge few concrete victories for the policies they crave” [MarketWatch].

Producer Price Index (Final Demand), November 2017: “Hints of inflation have been appearing in producer prices including the November report” [Econoday]. “Yet today’s report aside, inflation hasn’t been living up to expectations but with the economy at full employment, the Fed appears certain to raise rates at tomorrow’s FOMC.” And but: “This much gain in the Producer Price Index was not expected – and unless you are the twisted follower of the Fed – this increase is not good economically” [Econintersect]. “The PPI represents inflation pressure (or lack thereof) that migrates into consumer price.”

Retail: “A new distribution center meant to smooth out Mattel Inc.’s deliveries is instead contributing to the toy maker’s problems. The company issued a highly unusual and ominous warning on sales for the critical holiday season… and said weak demand along with its own logistics stumbles in a changing market were to blame” [Wall Street Journal]. “[S]hifts by consumers toward online sales and digital devices are battering the maker of big brands including Barbie, Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels, and undercutting its usual market channels. Mattel has sought to solve that partly by opening a Pennsylvania distribution center to serve the dense eastern U.S. The site has struggled to ramp up, howver, adding pressure to other facilities just when it was supposed to provide a solution.”

Commodities: “Electric vehicles may make up only a small share of traffic on roads but they’re having an overriding impact on commodities markets. Investors eager to get in early have doubled the price of lithium and cobalt in the past two years” [Wall Street Journal]. “For some investors, it’s a bet that the push to replace gasoline-powered vehicles will trigger the biggest shift in commodities demand since petroleum took over more than a century ago. The push may hit the dry-bulk shipping sector, opening new markets and potentially raising prices for transporting higher-value metals.”

Shipping; “The world’s largest container shipping line says international freight rates are reversing after climbing for most of this year, raising questions about the sustainability of the global trade recovery” [Bloomberg (Lysa)].

Shipping: “The most recent edition of the Port Tracker report issued today by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and maritime consultancy Hackett Associates points to a healthy month for imports in a 2017 that has seen five of the seven highest-volume import months on record” [Logistics Management]. “Authors of the report explained that cargo import numbers do not correlate directly with retail sales or employment because they count only the number of cargo containers brought into the country, not the value of the merchandise inside them, adding that the amount of merchandise imported provides a rough barometer of retailers’ expectations.”

Shipping: “Rail labor agreements are reached, says National Railway Labor Conference” [Logistics Management]. “The agreements, which cover more than 31,000 employees and are subject to membership ratification, have been reached with Brotherhood Railway Carmen (BRC), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Transportation Communications Union (TCU).”

Debt: “Something happened about the time of the Presidential election that caused a sudden deceleration of bank lending, which had already been decelerating since the collapse of oil capex” (charts) [Mosler Economics]. “And still no signs of a recovery here, as consumers seem to be instead dipping into savings to sustain consumption as personal income growth decelerates as well.”

Debt: “Subprime Securitization Hits the Car Lot” [Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond]. “While it’s not obvious whether the increase in subprime auto lending is a significant departure from past cycles, it has raised eyebrows coming so soon after the mortgage crisis — especially as delinquencies have begun to rise. In addition, an increasing share of those loans have been securitized and spread through the financial system, much like mortgages before the housing bust. Still, even if the auto finance industry were poised for a fall, the effects on the financial system could be limited — although the auto industry itself might take a hit.”

Rapture Index: Closes up 3 on Tribulation Temple (+1), Israel (+2). “Trump announces that the United States now considers Jerusalem to be Israel’s capital” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 187. I wondered how much of a pop there would be. Reminder to Readers: “The higher the number, the faster we’re moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture.”

Five Horsemen: “Seattle sluggers Amazon and Microsoft carry on dusting their Silicon Valley counterparts” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Dec 12

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 62, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 63 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Dec 12 at 11:47am.

Puerto Rico

“Aurelius v. Puerto Rico’s Control Board: What’s the Game?” [Credit Slips]. “So, in a sense, I find myself in the bizarre position that while I am not rooting for Aurelius to win, I hope that their lawsuit ends up getting the Insular Cases condemned, once and for all, as an awful relic of an ugly past. That said, what puzzles me about this case though is its economics, particularly from the perspective of Aurelius. What do they get by undermining the Control Board?”

“Aurelius v. The Control Board: What is Going On? (Part II)” [Credit Slips]. Questions not answered: “How much is it going to cost Puerto Rico if Aurelius wins?” and “Isn’t it a high-risk strategy to base key parts of one’s argument (as some of the anti-Aurelius briefs do) on cases that are, for want of a better word, ‘odious’?” I wrote on the Aurelius cases here, but explicitly from a layperson’s perspective, so these more technical posts are good to read.

Report from the ground. Thread:

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Forgotten Rosa Parks” [Jacobin]. “Parks may be lionized for her defiance on the bus, but that episode doesn’t begin to do justice to her remarkable career as an organizer. As Brooklyn College political scientist Jeanne Theoharis notes in her recent biography, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks, ‘One of the greatest distortions of the Parks fable has been the ways it missed her lifetime of progressive politics.’ Another great distortion is the extent to which it ignores the collective nature of Parks’s ostensibly individual action.” Important!

Gaia

“Complexity: Worlds hidden in plain sight” [Christian Science Monitor]. “On August 14, 2003, 50 million people across the American Northeast lost electrical power…. To summarize, a software network interacted with a physical cable network supported by a forest ecological network overseen by a stressed human social network. The failure was not ‘disciplinary’ or ‘departmental’; it was complex. A full understanding of one critical infrastructure, the power grid, requires an understanding of a multitude of overlapping networks.”

Our Famously Free Press

“All Politics is Local” [The Baffler]. On (the horrid) Sinclair.

“The Silver Screen and Authoritarianism: How Popular Films Activate Latent Personality Dispositions and Affect American Political Attitudes” [Sage Journals].

Dear Old Blighty

“The new age of the train” [The New Statesman]. “It is time to reverse the damage done by Richard Beeching….” Damn straight!

Guillotine Watch

“A record number of universities paid their Presidents $1 million or more in 2015” [Bloomberg].

Class Warfare

“Former Uber employees have gone into debt to hang onto shares they still can’t sell” [Quartz]. That is very sad.

The Bezzle: “Oculus Grift” [The Baffler]. “We used to think of “capital” as physical goods or infrastructure—something we could wrap our minds around. But as all the main features of this system for extracting surplus value from workers and rentier fees from service networks have become duly digitized, capital itself has become a form of AI. We do not have any control over this system and it is impossible to conceive of unplugging ourselves from it. Isn’t that the trope we most fear about AI from science fiction—that it will reach a point where we cannot imagine life independent of it?”

“The Two Souls of Socialism” [Hal Draper]. 1966, still germane.

“Charles Koch Gave $50 Million To Higher Ed In 2016. What Did He Buy?” [International Business Times]. “More than 240 colleges and universities, almost all in the U.S., got donations from Koch family foundations in 2016, up from 218 the previous year.”

News of the Wired

“Maker vs. Manager: How Your Schedule Can Make or Break You” [Farnham Street]. “[D]ifferent types of work require different types of schedules.”

“Storify will no longer be available after May 16, 2018” [Storify]. As usual, if your business depends on a platform, your business is already dead, even if you don’t know it.

“The Impossible Mathematics of the Real World” [Nautilus]. “Near misses live in the murky boundary between idealistic, unyielding mathematics and our indulgent, practical senses. They invert the logic of approximation. Normally the real world is an imperfect shadow of the Platonic realm. The perfection of the underlying mathematics is lost under realizable conditions. But with near misses, the real world is the perfect shadow of an imperfect realm. An approximation is ‘a not-right estimate of a right answer,’ Kaplan says, whereas ‘a near-miss is an exact representation of an almost-right answer.'” OK, why isn’t the Platonic Realm an imperfect shadow of the Real World?

* * *
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 place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Re Silc):

Torrey pines.

Readers, I’m running a bit short on plants. Buttoned-up gardens? Fall foliage? Forest fires?! First snow? Those photos from the summer you never had time to look at? Thanks!

* * *

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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.

114 comments

  1. Louis

    Wharton Business School just released an estimate on the tax bill, suggesting it adds almost 2 trillion to the deficit.

    Wharton is not exactly known for progressive politics (to say least) yet their estimate is higher than what has come out so far.

    Anyone who says tax cuts pay for themselves is either a moron or lying through their teeth.

    Reply
    1. Altandmain

      No doubt that Republicans as Bernie Sanders notes will be using the deficit as an excuse to cut benefits for the poor and what is left in the middle class.

      This is a very calculated self inflicted crisis with a clear ideological intent.

      It is likely that a $2 trillion dollar increase in the debt will not faze so called small government fiscal conservatives. They have a goal, make the rich richer and the rest of the world poor.

      Reply
  2. Jim Haygood

    Pat Buchanan on Washington’s awkward double standard:

    “We will never accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea,” declaimed Rex Tillerson last week in Vienna. “Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”

    Tillerson’s principled rejection of the seizure of land by military force — “never accept” — came just one day after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and pledged to move our embassy there.

    How did Israel gain title to East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Golan Heights? Invasion, occupation, colonization, annexation. Those lands are the spoils of victory from Israel’s 1967 Six-Day War.

    Is Israel being severely sanctioned like Russia? Not quite. Her yearly U.S. stipend is almost $4 billion, as she builds settlement after settlement on occupied land despite America’s feeble protests.

    https://tinyurl.com/y7kly75a

    Colonialism don’t come cheap. :-)

    Reply
      1. Harold

        I think they voted that way in 1992 and possibly another time as well. Their votes was prompted by the Ukrainian government’s outlawing of their language among other things. They themselves were only annexed to Ukraine in 1953 (or so).

        Reply
        1. Ook

          The story going around is that the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was transferred to Ukraine by Khrushchev (a Ukrainian) after a night of heavy drinking. Even then, questions were raised about the constitutionality of such a move.

          Reply
      2. Jim Haygood

        Democracy is bad when it doesn’t produce the result “we” wanted. Consider the aftermath of the 2006 Palestinian elections in which Hamas won a majority:

        National security adviser Elliot Abrams greeted a group of Palestinian businessmen in his White House office with talk of a “hard coup” against the newly-elected Hamas government.

        In June 2006 an Israeli military official said a total of 64 Hamas officials were arrested in an early morning round-up. Of those, Palestinian officials said seven were ministers in Hamas’ 23-member Cabinet and 20 others were MPs in the 72-seat parliament.”

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_legislative_election,_2006

        One can infer that a third party will never be permitted to win in the US. Ol’ Ross Perot received the tap on the shoulder (or the horse head in his bed, as the case may be).

        Reply
        1. Sid_finster

          Even if an outsider wins, the Deep State will one way or another set that outsider straight as to the real limits to their authority.

          Reply
          1. Procopius

            The “evil empire” was initiated by the Dulles Brothers, Alan and John Foster. Many of the policies that we blame Clinton for (and he deserves much blame) were actually initiated by Carter. That was when the policies that led to the destruction of unions were born.

            Reply
  3. jo6pac

    “A record number of universities paid their Presidents $1 million or more in 2015

    Yes way to much but then most college football coaches earn even more. Sad

    Reply
    1. Swamp Yankee

      When I was a grad student at UMich, then-President Mary Sue Coleman (Doge of the Merchants’ Republic of Ann Arbor) made several millions in outright salary, and then sat on a number of corporate boards that brought her salary up to something like 12 million dollars per annum. Which must have been why they tried to take away health care from grad students every three years.

      I think the Revolution comes when, as per this morning’s links (wheat problems), the first major climate-change induced crop failure comes. After all, 1789 started as bread riots….

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Given how Ireland was still exporting food during the Great Famine, and how Holodomor was man-made (that is, a genocide created) by the Soviet government, it doesn’t have to be a crop failure to start a revolution.

        And while it may be harder under a total surveillance state, I don’t think that regime can know everything. For example, you may notice that while waiting for the light to turn green, for what would seem like a life time, when there is absolute zero crossing traffic. Wouldn’t a totally monitored state give you the green light right away?

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Two little fun facts about the famine in Ireland. There had been an earlier famine under the British but the bloke in charge ordered all food exports to stop and be diverted to the Irish people so they already knew how to stop the famine. It’s just that in 1847 the British demanded that export contracts be fulfilled.
          During the big famine, the Sultan (https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/history/little-known-tale-of-generous-turkish-aid-to-the-irish-during-the-great-hunger) of the Ottoman empire, upon receiving reports of the famine in Ireland, ordered five ships full of food to alleviate the hunger in Ireland. When Queen Victoria heard of this, she blew her top and ordered the British government to halt those ships as it would make England look bad but they managed to get to Ireland anyway. I always find these little footnotes in history both fascinating and informative.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            Sounds irritatingly similar to the reign of error turning down Mexico’s offers of aid after Harvey came calling.

            Reply
        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          Since they fell for ‘more haystacks maximizes needles’, encouraging this might be a beneficial redirection of bureaucracy. ‘Then why doesn’t the NSA provide backups for me?’ appears to be a pretty mainstream joke.

          Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          The thing about the French Revolution, is probably few knew that the failed wheat harvests that brought it on, were on account of an Icelandic volcano far far away, but we have no so such excuse in this day and age, although the official diktat now in these United States is to go full emu ducking our heads under the ground, in regards to climate change.

          BTW, “Days Of The French Revolution” by Hibbert, is a fine read.

          Reply
      2. Arizona Slim

        Count me as another UMich alum who feels the same way about Ann Arbor as you do.

        And we aren’t the only ones. In her recent book, Detroit Hustle, Amy Haimerl describes Ann Arbor as “bland and overpriced, cloistered by its intellect and affluence.”

        Which is why it was such a natural stop on Hillary Clinton’s book tour. According a story that was recently linked from NC, she sold out Hill Auditorium (no small accomplishment), but her speech was a bore.

        Reply
        1. Swamp Yankee

          Arizona Slim,

          Yes, yes, yes. Michigan outside Ann Arbor, particularly northern Michigan and the UP, but really anywhere on the natural wonders that are the Great Lakes and the North Woods, I love dearly, as a second home. But Ann Arbor itself grew increasingly unbearable in the five or so years I lived there (had to go back a few times a year for several years after that).

          It is indeed natural HRC country. “Cloistered” is the perfect description. I remember meeting various [family blog redaction] NYers and Californians at school talking down Michigan who had never left the 9 square miles or whatever it is of the City of Ann Arbor aside from trips to the airport. Had never seen the Great Lakes or the Upper Peninsula. Being among them, and loathing them, was why I was surprised but not shocked by Trump’s victory. So used to power and money that they never learned that insulting people and their homes to their faces will lose their votes. Especially if you’ve never even been there! Lord!

          Glad we are not alone in our views of the place.

          Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan is a fine read on the Dust Bowl. Conditions were so gawdawful that just keeping alive was paramount to survival. No time to revolt, as Mother Nature was in charge of the revolution.

          How bad was it?

          It was standard operating procedure to have chains dangling from the rear echelon of your jalopy when driving, so as to keep it grounded from all the static electricity that the dust storms created, and how about a tsunami of grasshoppers descending upon you over and over again?

          My mom was a little girl up in Alberta, and told me that horrible dust clouds drifted that way on occasion from Oklahoma and environs, if you can imagine that.

          Reply
        2. jrs

          true and plenty of left ideology then (as opposed to very little now).

          The wheat failure alone won’t cause anything, it just kind of means we are spoiled only wanting wheat with a high protein content as it’s fluffier etc., but historically wheat was probably not all that fluffy. And worrying about the protein nutritionally only matters if it was a major source of protein in the U.S. diet, of course it’s not, not for anyone, likely not even vegans.

          Reply
          1. Summer

            The livestock didn’t fair too well either. The country was big enough to absorb the losses from the storm. So conditions, food or otherwise, have to be bad over a vast geographical area for a long period of time before any uprising would come into the picture.

            Reply
          1. Procopius

            There was plenty of social unrest. Roosevelt ended a lot of it in 1933, but there was plenty left for large fascist movements throughout the ’30s, as well as support for Socialism and even (some) Communism. I think after 1933 the Communists lost popularity because they were strict about enforcing the ever-changing orthodoxy coming from Moscow, which had little connection with conditions here, but there were general strikes, Walter Reuther was able to start the CIO, and Roosevelt considered Huey Long (the Kingfish) as a real threat, equal to General Douglas MacArthur. Oh, and crowds of farmers would gather spontaneously to prevent sheriffs from auctioning off their neighbors’ belongings while they were evicted from the farms that had been their homes for generations.

            Reply
          2. todde

            My father grew up during the depression on a farm in West Central Illinois.

            He never had stories of people robbing banks(his father was President of the local bank), but he did tell stories of good christian men who would go out and burn grain after it they sold it.

            Reply
  4. Elizabeth Burton

    that lack of skilled workers is holding down business expansion

    “…that lack of skilled workers willing to work for wages less than their skills should demand is holding down business expansion.”

    There, fixed it.

    Reply
    1. Louis

      There probably are certain jobs where it is a struggle to find skilled workers at any price. However, I agree that, more often than not, the problem is finding skilled workers at the wages being offered not skilled workers period.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is it an indictment of the AI field?

      “Should have skilled AI robot workers ready for mass production by now.”

      Perhaps those robots are too busy playing chess???

      Reply
    3. Summer

      And I’m sick of that generic “lack of skilled workers” meme as well.
      There should be a law that any article saying that should specify:
      1) the exact skills needed
      2) exactly how many workers are needed
      3) in what locations are the workers needed.
      4) a time frame the workers will be needed for the jobs

      Reply
      1. jrs

        and it’s often of course the purple elephant skills, like asking for a lot of skills that aren’t commonly found together, I’ve seen that. Yes for enough money you might be able to find the exact match for your unique keyhole OR you could find someone who mostly has that skillset AND TRAIN THEM.

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          OR they could decide to hire programmers over the age of 35. There are a LOT of us.

          Ageism, sexism, racism. All rampant in the software biz.

          Reply
        2. Summer

          I wish I still had a want ad I saw a few years ago.

          It was entry level, but the duties included everything from creating budgets, to booking exec travel, to video editing…it was 2 pages.

          I got the impression at least 3 skilled people must have been laid off or left.

          Reply
          1. RMO

            That sounds a lot like the ads I read when trying to find work in the bookkeeping field fairly recently. They all pretty much wanted accredited accountants with many other office skills, a substantial amount of recent experience – and all for what were usually part time positions offering minimum wage or a little more than minimum wage. If I had took the same mindset to buying a car as many industries that complain of a shortage of skilled applicants display regarding staffing I would right now be moaning that the global automotive industry has a severe shortage of suitable vehicles for me because I can’t find a car for sale that carries seven people, tows 8,000 pounds, parks in two meter by four meter space, does 0-60 in 2 seconds flat tops out at 200mph, gets 60mpg and costs $1.25.

            I have already spent considerable time and money training for jobs in an area which both government and the industry said there was great demand for people only to find no jobs at all once I had graduated so I’m extremely skeptical of those sorts of stories. I think at least some of the complaints about “lack of skilled applicants” happens because it sounds better than saying “we’re not hiring because business is lousy.”

            Reply
            1. WobblyTelomeres

              I can’t find a car for sale that carries seven people, tows 8,000 pounds, parks in two meter by four meter space, does 0-60 in 2 seconds flat tops out at 200mph, gets 60mpg and costs $1.25.

              That’s the Tesla Model 4x, which hasn’t been announced yet. How did you get the specifications???????

              [edit: this is snark]

              Reply
  5. lyman alpha blob

    A little good news in the class warfare department – South Portland Maine bans illegal hotels (aka short term rentals/Airbnb).

    The city council is probably even more adamantly opposed to these rental houses than the article lets on. Once it became clear that the city was going to regulate this, a bunch of people who had thought they were going to make some easy money buying up houses and renting them to tourists formed their own Short Term Rental Association, claiming there should be regulations on properties like theirs because they wanted to be good neighbors, they were doing it to keep the neighborhoods vibrant, they were doing it for the children – basically one BS excuse after the other. And of course they wanted to self regulate – basically they wanted to close the barn door on anybody else who might want to get into the racket and cut into their profits. That went over with residents and city officials like a lead balloon.

    Not sure if this is supposed to be part of the ownership society, the sharing economy or whatever the latest neoliberal term for raking others over the coals is, but I’ve had enough of it. Still not sure why nobody has simply gone to the corporate offices of Airbnb, Uber and the like and frogmarched the executives of to jail.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Rule of thumb: If some organization is telling me and my neighbors that they want to be a good neighbor, I pat my pocket to make sure that my wallet is still there.

      And this rule goes doubly for real estate developers.

      Reply
  6. Wukchumni

    As a long suffering Bills fan, you take your victories against a tableau of withering defeats, as it sadly comes with the errortory.

    Last week when pitted against the cleverly camouflaged Colts in a largely meaningless game, they reached probably the pinnacle of performance for the year, which isn’t saying much, but you go with the material you have…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4-Ino9ytmk

    Reply
  7. JTMcPhee

    “Complexity: Worlds hidden in plain sight.” Sometimes complexity leads to good stuff, like the operation of the citric acid cycle and the immune system in your body and mine. But with humans actively creating complexity, like utility grids and the “systems” that create and (we believe) supposedly control the deployment of nuclear weapons and introduction of new chemicals and so forth, it far more often leads to vulnerability and tipping points that we trip over on the way to pursuit of iStuff and moar money…

    Reply
  8. Lemon-monster

    “I will be back after putting in a laundry with the the stuff I just couldn’t get to!”

    You launder your links before posting them?

    Reply
  9. Wukchumni

    To watch & listen to those Alabama evangelicals making their case for a pedophile was nothing short of amazing.

    As long as the conclusion you desire is justified by any means necessary, is no way to go through this game we call life.

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      — that’s what’s mind-boggling, why wait til now, at an election, to come forward and say, “Oh”?

      Well as they say, it’s never too late to get that old time religion. Let’s call it JITB (just-in-time burnishing) of our bonafides. Useful not only for when we want to make the conversation about sexual predation, but also for when we want to make the conversation about white supremacy.

      Fortunately, our bonafides never need to be burnished when it comes to going after evil doers in other countries. And obviously, our bonafides are beyond reproach when we’re helping wallstreet to do God’s work.

      Reply
    2. Lee

      Evidently, child molestation is a lesser transgression than abortion or the gay. But only the last one is mentioned to in the Bible. Simpler times, I guess.

      I’ll go with the speculation offered in Lambert’s links. R voters will elect Moore with the expectation that the R senate will kick him out. Then the R governor will appoint another perhaps Pence-like and therefore less objectionable R. Moral rectitude will be restored. Go Bama!

      Reply
  10. NY Geezer

    In spite of the fact that it has become politically correct to unconditionally accept as true the charges of women claiming sexual offenses, I am truly saddened that Sen. Al Franken, a sitting US Senator, has been railroaded out of the Senate by Senators who claim to be his colleagues.

    His alleged offenses may have been manufactured. The photo of his comic pose in an airplane and the staged kiss between Franken and his first accuser Leeann Tweeden are not on their face sexual abuse. They need to be investigated before they can hope to have enough substance to rise to that level. The pinching allegations by women who are piling on long after the alleged occurrences certainly do not rise to that level on their face.

    It appeared initially as though these charges would be determined fairly under a system of due process in the Senate’s Ethics Committee. It is possible that in this politically charged atmosphere some or all of these accusers were paid and are not truthful. I have seen some internet postings implicating Repbublican operative Roger Moore as a person who mioght have stages this attack against Al Franken. On the other hand, It is also possible that they are all accusers are truthful. The reason for due process to determine the facts and if necessary what penalty is due. But due process was aborted by the senators who decided to terminate all process by declaring their acceptance of all the accusers’ allegations as true on the arbitrary basis of their sex and demanding that Al Franken leave the Senate.

    Whether Al Franken would have prevailed was important to him and to the issue of sexual harassment by persons in power. But those questions are now dwarfed by the much bigger issue, the big change that is happening in this country. The Anglo-Saxon model of rule of law is dying. It becomes more difficult each day to claim that we are ruled by our laws rather than the caprice of men and women in power. When a sitting senator can be treated in this manner our democracy is in serious trouble. And there is no solution in sight. Sen. Franken’s voice which, among other things, opposed the routine taking of black lives by arbitrary police shootings is now ousted from power.

    Reply
    1. hreik

      I could not agree more. Furthermore the Sanctimonious Gillebrand returned / redonated Franken’s $12,500.00 PAC contributions while hanging on to the $820,893.00 that Boies, Schiller and Flexner donated to her over the same time frame. Lest you not know, Boies, Schiller, Flexner are representing Harvey Weinstein, who is charged with Criminal Sexual assault in 3 cities (NY, LA and London).

      Reply
    2. Dita

      I wish Franken had restrained himself from Benny Hill-type antics with the “goils” who obviously weren’t amused to be used as props. But, to your point about due process, yes.

      Reply
    3. jrs

      Yea there is a good case for due process there in the Senate among democratically elected officials, in a way there isn’t for other instances of abuse where a private media conglomerate decides to fire someone etc., because due process doesn’t apply in the workplace (literally it never has, that’s what “at will” employment is, so anyone arguing for due process in those cases first has to figure out what it would even consist of in the workplace).

      Reply
      1. NY Geezer

        Yes, the process for removal or censure of a US Senator is based on the
        consitiution.

        Wikipedia: Expulsion is the most serious form of disciplinary action that can be taken against a Member of Congress. Article I, Section 5 of the United States Constitution provides that “Each House [of Congress] may determine the Rules of its proceedings, punish its members for disorderly behavior, and, with the concurrence of two-thirds, expel a member.” The processes for expulsion differ somewhat between the House of Representatives and the Senate.

        Censure, a less severe form of disciplinary action, is an official sanction of a member that does not remove a member from office.

        Reply
      1. edmondo

        If Franken can’t keep his hands to himself, he can hit the road.

        Look, I like Franken and most of his politics but the guy should have resigned. This wasn’t a one-off, it happened too many times. “Grab ass” isn’t some innocent game. Would you like to go meet your senator if he punched you in the face at random times? It shows a lack of respect for his constituents and the office. Go! Leave! Repent! And maybe, just maybe, some lesser soul will figure that touching others without their permission just isn’t cool.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think Franken earned the result, but the process was arbitrary, a rotten precedent, not consistently applied — ***cough*** Bill Clinton ***cough*** — and all-too-obviously done to help candidates in 2018 and 2020 by defenestrating a Democrat while at the same time retaining the seat* (the “moral high ground”). This is the sort of thing the Democrats are actually very good at, as a party. Too bad about policy, but you can’t have everything.

          NOTE * And too bad about single payer advocate Conyers, eh? It’s a two-fer!

          Reply
    4. Sid_finster

      It doesn’t take a Machiavelli to figure out that Team D ordered Franken to step down From his speech, it is clear that Franken was not happy about doing so.

      No, Team D has not belatedly discovered ethics. Rather, they want clear shots at Moore and Trump, without being bothered by pesky allegations of whatabouttery.

      Reply
    5. Homina

      I am truly saddened that Sen. Al Franken, a sitting US Senator, has been railroaded out of the Senate by Senators who claim to be his colleagues.

      Well, I’m also sad he isn’t a Senator anymore, because our views aligned a lot.

      “Railroading” though is exaggeration. He chose to resign. Whether over either despicable acts or jocular no big deal acts (what done, what morals/views of such…) doesn’t matter.

      It’s difficult to respond to your post, critically, because I agree with most of it. But

      Whether Al Franken would have prevailed was important to him and to the issue of sexual harassment by persons in power.

      No, it wasn’t important to him. And due process, whether had by a court of law or Ethics Committee, was abandoned by him.

      I’m inclined to agree also with “todde”:

      If Franken can’t fight for himself, he can hit the road.

      There are multi-level reasons for his decision. All are disappointing, and none have blame higher than his own. Even according to your view.

      Reply
  11. DJG

    On the Florida politicians not meeting privately with women. Backfire. And a certain nasty backlash. First, you now have the ascension of Mike-Pence-style Tartuffe-style religiosity and attendant gender segregation. Second, you have women in the situation where there is a witness to their conversations, and the purpose of the witness is to prevent the conversation from becoming actionable (by the woman). Third, you have women shut out of private talks, confidentiality, candor, and strategizing.

    We have returned to the days when the executives (the boys) went off an played golf by themselves on Fridays. Without the women.

    Yes, and further confessions from Lena Dunham, too. I truly wish that all of this had paid out another way that would have enhanced the chances of gender equality, put some rapists in jail, and subverted our corrupt elites. That isn’t where the situation is headed.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Put body cams on everybody, or surveillance cams everywhere, or both for good measure.

      Are working class women from the fields, factories and offices metooing yet? That’s a serious question. If anyone has info on this I’d like to know about it.

      Had another interesting conversation with my daughter today. She works for a company whose head honcho was named and shamed. His problem, according to her, was that nobody had the guts to check him on any number of issues. Including ones that cost the company and its shareholders money, even when everyone up and down the hierarchy knew they pissing were away dough on a crap idea. To be fair, he’d had more good than bad ideas in that regard. He is a job creator who makes money for his investors, so he gets away with shit is the gist.

      Reply
      1. WJ

        “Put body cams on everybody…”

        For some reason, this line conjured for me a vision of a musical stage comedy–absurdist and dark in humor–featuring the hapless foibles and unsightly encounters of Bill Clinton’s (suitably personified) Presidential Penile Cam.

        It’s been a rough week.

        Reply
    2. JBird

      Nuance, and reasoned, thought does seem to be absent.

      ‘We do have a serious problem with sexual predation, with someone masquerading as a man, like Harvey Weinstein who use their ability to destroy utterly a person’s life (if you think only women were the ones being destroyed…we are not talking sex. We are talking about the power to control and destroy others. ) because he could, and would, be annoyed that someone would want to to be treated as a human being. I’ve known people who were victims and it does leave scars. One thinks of all the people whose lives were ruined, or who at least suffered horribly. One thinks of all the people in their lives and wonder. Horribly.

      There are numerous examples of men being allowed to rape their way through life and countless women, children, and yes some men, often for decades, and of all the family, friends, and acquaintances having to suffer right along.

      Still I remember McMartin preschool, and other places, that in the 80s, in which innocent men and women which condemn child rape. It was a feeding frenzy consuming everyone, including the children.

      So what do we do? How do we stop the Weinsteins, Moores, and the Sanduskys from doing what they do, and not have another feeding frenzy. Some of it is money. The men I just referenced have money, reputation, status, connections to protect themselves, while the workers, and owners, of those daycare centers had nothing. The sad part is that this probably will do nothing to protect some woman working as a waitress, or a bartender, as they are like those daycare victims. No power, and no resources.

      Fah, I was happy about Moore losing, now I am miserable thinking on this.

      Reply
    3. Oregoncharles

      The Law of Unintended Consequences:

      There always are some.

      Realistically, this sort of hyper caution is likely to fade fairly quickly, especially if we can work out some clear rules. A whole new etiquette is called for.

      Reply
  12. Jim Haygood

    History grad students have started a teach-in … Our first lesson was on the Guilded [sic] Age.

    Har … it used to be called the Gilded Age, a term coined by Mark Twain in his 1873 novel The Gilded Age, satirizing an era of social problems masked by a thin gold gilding.

    Seems young Hanukkah Roem didn’t learn nothin’ about either history or etymology at her skool.

    Reply
  13. Tomonthebeach

    “The Silver Screen and Authoritarianism: How Popular Films Activate Latent Personality Dispositions and Affect American Political Attitudes” [Sage Journals].

    Al Bandura’s 1963 study replicated yet again!

    Reply
  14. Wukchumni

    “[T]he question of how we remember men like Patton, Jefferson, and King — men whose greatness was known well before many of their sins were disclosed…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    Aside from the GI’s claiming that it was their blood and his guts, Patton strikes me as a Sherman-like General that got things done, and foibles? i’m sure he had a few-such as hitting a soldier suffering from PTSD, but what sins are we talking about here?

    Reply
    1. WJ

      The only sins that exist are private and personal and have ultimately to do with one’s genitalia. Everything else is just pragmatism.

      Reply
    2. JBird

      We often insist that our heroes be Christ like, maybe even be actual saints, which is nuts. Humans are almost by definition imperfect. Also, what is normal then is not today, nor will be in the future, but somehow people do not want to think on that either.

      I sometimes think we tear down others so we don’t have to measure up to what they did.

      Reply
  15. Byron the Light Bulb

    Any investigation into Logan Act violations is misdirection a la Maskelyne. [Too obscure to cure?] However, Article II, Section 4 seems to reference an archaic practice known as “bribery” as a prerequisite for impeachment. Of course if “bribery” were to happen today, it would have to include schemes for personal gain to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East with Russian fuel rods and tacky hotels on the Moskva river [as if Muscovites aren’t depressed enough], in exchange for lifting sanctions. I mean, when has the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ever been enforced? It’s not like the ability to do any of the above would require the acquiescence of a government, not only famous for bribes, but in lieu of functioning institutions, built an entire nation-state structured on payoffs.

    Reply
  16. Wukchumni

    “The higher the number, the faster we’re moving towards the occurrence of pre-tribulation rapture.”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Are we talkin’ ’bout bitcoin?

    Reply
  17. Darius

    Last summer my wife and I took the Borders rail line on a day trip from Edinburgh to just west of Melrose and back. Scotrail is wonderful. I hope they expand it. BTW, Edinburgh is perhaps my favorite city, except for the dreadful new parliament building. All those wonderful examples of architecture and they had to engage an international starchitect to screw it up.

    Reply
  18. freedeomny

    Re: Kirsten Gillibrand. Personally – she doesn’t really appeal to me although it would be hard for me to put my finger on what bothers me about her…fake…? But, she does have a following among women – including independents. I know people who are convinced she will be the first woman prez….

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      She’s okay. In a country of 300 million, why settle for okay? In the House, she was a Blue Dog and had to hold a press conference to reaffirm her commitment to abortion rights and support for unions.

      Gillenbrand does not have a hideous voting record. Secondly, this is important. She didn’t start her war on predators in the last couple of weeks. McCaskill, Levin, and their ilk opposed Gillenbrand when she tried to reform sexual assault reporting in the military. Given rotating villain strategy, I don’t have much use for co-sponsors especially when her bill could get nominal support from Rand Paul and Ted Cruz.

      Of the Clinton endorsers, she is the only one I would consider voting for. Again, I go to the population number. Why settle? The Democrats have just come off eight years of a messiah and then Hillary. I could see a situation similar to the anti-Romney efforts in 2012 within the GOP. The Democrats will bounce around trying to find a candidate, but the rot is so bad anyone who peaks too early won’t be ready for the long haul.

      Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    “The new age of the train” [The New Statesman]. “It is time to reverse the damage done by Richard Beeching….” Damn straight!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    When I traveled on trains in the UK in the 1980’s, to open the door to leave a carriage, one had to roll down the window and open it from the outside, turning the handle…

    …meanwhile in Germany the choo-choos had electric doors that opened if you pushed a button

    Made me wonder who won the war?

    Reply
  20. WobblyTelomeres

    Re: Jones v Moore

    Youngsters out knocking on doors for Doug Jones, urging people to go vote at 6pm on election day (polls close at 7). And I am in a very red subdivision in a very red city in a very red state.

    I know Doug is not Bernie, but, dare I hope?

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        A dozen years ago, my wife and I returned from a couple month trip to NZ, and caught a shuttle van from LAX to a friend’s house in LA where we’d left our car, and traffic was abysmal, and what should have been an hour ride was more like 3 hours, awful.

        But, time flew, as a fellow passenger was a good ol’ boy from Birmingham, and he was a 17 year veteran of the FD there, and was in the National Guard, and told us he’d spent his 49th & 50th year in Iraq, and we had a scintillating conversation. He related he was from Alabamastan, and had he’d been all over the world-well traveled, and described Baghdad as being akin to Tijuana, albeit one that doesn’t work all that well, in comparison. Ha!

        Reply
        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Not in bed yet. Still clutching my chest from the returns. This is the first election in decades where my vote may matter.

          Doug is up 10,000 votes at the moment (al.com returns).

          Reply
          1. UserFriendly

            AP called it for Jones. Expect parallels to MA electing scott brown to be everywhere and D’s now have a shot at taking the senate.

            Reply
            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              Watching BBC, white Republicans talking about voting Jones cuz Moore is not what their party is about.

              Rejecting Trump it would seem…

              Reply
              1. allan

                One exit poll indicates 74% of white men and 65% of white women(!)
                voted for Moore.
                Don’t know what the sample size was, but that seems like a problem.

                Reply
                1. Yves Smith

                  I had dinner with a political scientist tonight. He agreed with my observation that it would be difficult for the press to do exit polls well in Alabama, particularly since in the last Presidential election they’d decided to go for much smaller sampling. They aren’t used to covering the state in sufficient depth. We’ll have much better data when the votes are finally tallied.

                  The more important split in Alabama re voting for Jones is its version of urban v. rural. The white areas in Birmingham were a sea of Jones signs. Not a single Moore sign in evidence.

                  Reply
          2. Wukchumni

            NYT & WaPo called it for Generation Jones, ah…

            Political gridlock!

            Why weren’t there any good jokes about the Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana?

            …the punchline was too long

            Reply
  21. allan

    GOP eyes raising corporate rate to 21 percent, lowering top individual tax rate [The Hill]

    Republican negotiators have reached a tentative agreement to raise the corporate rate in their joint House-Senate tax bill from 20 to 21 percent as they seek revenue to pay for a variety of significant changes that could be sold as tax relief for individuals. …

    Lowering the top individual rate would cost money while fueling criticism from Democrats that the bill gives too much tax relief to high-income earners.

    “That would be gold for us,” said a Senate Democratic aide. …


    I fundraise and listbuild; therefore I am.

    Your modern Democratic Party – snatching catastrophe from the jaws of disaster.

    Reply
  22. flora

    re: “The Forgotten Rosa Parks” – [Jacobin].

    Thanks very much for that link. I was going to quote one or two paragraphs, but how to choose from among so many great paragraphs? Recommended reading.

    Reply
  23. VietnamVet

    David Stockman is on fire; telling the truth. When I remember back to mid-life and Ronald Regan’s radicals, he tops that list followed by Anne Gorsuch. This is very strange.

    I too have been pondering General Michael Flynn. How could he be so stupid to be caught in a FBI perjury trap like Martha Stewart? David Stockman is correct, “Puffed-up” generals have avoided any consequences for their failures since the Korean War. I waved at General Douglas MacArthur when his route to Seattle passed by my Elementary School after being fired by Harry Truman. Michael Flynn could not perceive that he was now on the outside with Donald Trump and that the intelligence community figured the quickest way to get control of his boss was by getting rid of Michael Flynn.

    Perception is the problem. I realized that Barrack Obama loves painting himself into a corner and even voted for him a second time after throwing away his T-shirt. But, it wasn’t until 2014 and the Russian “Invasion” of Crimea where they have had a Naval Base since 1783 and the restart of the Cold War that I realized that the Democrats had lost all grip on reality along with the Republicans.

    Reply
    1. Jen

      I had the good fortune to attend Larry Wilkerson’s talk at Dartmouth last week. Most of what he said was not news to this NC reader. He did drop quite a few interesting anecdotes, though. One of which was that Chuck Hagel had confided to him that as he was signing off on promotions to 3 star general, he realized that if he had the courage of his convictions, he’d reject every one.

      Reply
  24. Kim Kaufman

    ““Open primaries? Democratic establishment bars anyone who challenges an incumbent from using the party’s Votebuilder database” [Boing Boing (flora)] ”

    A Primary Challenge to a Right-Wing Democrat in Illinois Divides the Resistance

    https://theintercept.com/2017/12/12/illinois-democratic-primary-marie-newman-dan-lipinski/?link_id=2&can_id=bdc0778090fdd974cca0e53ae6a3c036&source=email-roy-moore-exit-polls-coming-in&email_referrer=email_275051&email_subject=roy-moore-exit-polls-coming-in

    Not a good title but interesting especially in light of the Votebuilder database that will not be available.

    Reply
    1. Vatch

      Great news. Interestingly, at this time, the NY Time reports that 1.7% of the votes are write-in votes, so both Jones and Moore will almost certainly have less than 50% of the vote. Alabama requires runoffs in primaries when no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. Is that also the case in general elections? I haven’t seen this mentioned in any articles, so it’s probably not the case.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        I don’t know where you get that information. Alabama’s Secretary of State, who certifies the election, has already said that the odds of Jones not being seated as Senator are very remote:

        Shortly after Moore’s speech, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill (R) was asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper if he expected “anything other than Mr. Jones being the next senator from the state of Alabama.”

        “I would find that highly unlikely to occur, Jake,” Merrill replied.

        http://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/364617-moore-refuses-to-concede-alabama-senate-race

        Reply
        1. Vatch

          Good. The only information I had was the percentages and the fact that runoffs are required in primaries. I merely asked whether that was the also the case in general elections, and apparently runoffs are not required in general elections. According to Real Clear Politics, he percentages now are:

          Jones 49.9%
          Moore 48.4%
          Write in 1.7%

          Some of those write-ins will very likely be be disqualified, so the Jones percentage might untimately be higher.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            That was not what your comment said. You acted as if this was a requirement for this election too. This isn’t the first time you’ve presented misinformation, and that is a violation of our written site Policies. You persist despite having been warned.

            Reply
            1. Vatch

              I’m sorry for my lack of clarity. It was not my intention to give the impression that I was stating a fact; I was merely asking a question. Here’s what I said:

              Alabama requires runoffs in primaries when no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote. Is that also the case in general elections?

              Reply
              1. Yves Smith

                You first made a very definitive statement, then asked a question. I should not have to be wasting my time addressing comments where you could have found the answer yourself via Google and not made a comment that would raise unwarranted concerns.

                Reply
  25. Kim Kaufman

    Wow. As of right now, Doug Jones won, although NY Times and HuffPo each have different numbers, with NYT percentages adding up to more than 101%. Now let’s see the Rs screw around with taking people off the voter roles. Or try the Dan Siegelman trick of finding some new ballots late tonight in secret.

    Reply
  26. WJ

    The Impossible Mathematics of the Real World” [Nautilus]. “

    ………………
    Kaplan is just wishing he was a physicist. But I think the real significance of the piece is the curious relationship it bears to the thoroughly mathematized pseudo-science of economics. For actual theoretical mathematicians like Kaplan, the discovery that the flesh and blood world of material objects allows for possibilities not available in the ideal world of the forms is a cause for celebration; for economists, it is a sign that the world needs a good shock of austerity.

    Reply

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