2:00PM Water Cooler 12/14/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Net Neutrality

“F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules” [New York Times]. “The agency scrapped so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone services…. Despite all the uproar, it is unclear how much will change for internet users. The rules were essentially a protective measure, largely meant to prevent telecom companies from favoring some sites over others. And major telecom companies have promised consumers that their experiences online would not change.” Uh huh.

“FCC Vote Will Crush Rural Broadband and Entrepreneurship” [Daily Yonder]. From the article:

For rural America, the internet is the best and only hope for participation in today’s economy. Poor broadband is correlated with lower population growth, less economic development, less access to education, lower property values, and slower home sales. Good broadband is a small town’s lifeline out of geographic isolation, its connection to business software and services, and its conduit for exporting homegrown ideas and products.

Unfortunately, many rural broadband customers have few options when it comes to choosing an internet service provider (ISP). If the FCC ends net neutrality, it will further harm competition in rural areas. Already, broadband prices are higher where monopolies exist, and without net neutrality incumbents would have yet another tool with which to leverage their advantage, without fear of losing customers.

That’s because ISPs will have the power to speed delivery of content from businesses that can pay a premium. And, since content providers tend to favor urban markets with higher customer density, incumbent ISPs will likely allocate even more of their infrastructure investment to cities. In comparison, their investments in rural areas would wane.

Trade

“Trade ministers from around the world arrived in Buenos Aires fearing the worst — that U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer would barge in to the World Trade Organization’s biennial ministerial conference intent on destroying the system. Instead, they got more of the same negotiating paralysis that has dogged the consensus-driven global trading group for most of its 22-year history” [Politico]. “Only this time, it seemed worse without the United States in its traditional position of trying to guide WTO members toward some constructive outcome. In the end, countries walked away having accomplished next to nothing…. ‘The Lighthizery and Trumpian view is, we paid’ our dues, one high-level participant in the ministerial conference said. ‘We led, we paid, and we’re not doing that anymore.'”

“The world’s most ambitious free-trade area is colliding with a surge in economic nationalism. From the nationalization of a shipyard in France to strict new rules for chocolates made in Italy, new barriers are going up in the supposedly borderless 28-country European Union” [Wall Street Journal]. “The actions are overturning a generation of moves toward trade liberalization—and driving countries further away from a well-functioning common market. The new trade hurdles increase the cost of doing business, and already appear to be disrupting cross-border supply chains and discouraging multinational investments. The retreat is coming in slow steps through one administrative rule after another…. Many multinational companies that thrived selling standardized products across dozens of countries are now worried, saying they are now competing with voters, unions and other groups that complain their home countries ceded too much autonomy to Brussels.”

Politics

2020

“Moreover, Republicans are now stuck with Donald Trump. It’s remarkable that a first-term president governing amid low unemployment, a booming stock market, and a long run of economic growth is trapped below 40 percent in the polls and triggering unexpected Democratic wins all across the country. I am skeptical that under these circumstances, another Republican president would be this unpopular, or provoke this much backlash” [Ezra Klein, Vox].

2018

“Special Elections So Far Point To A Democratic Wave In 2018” [FiveThirtyEight]. “There have been more than 70 special elections for state and federal legislative seats in 2017 so far. [I]n a neutral environment, we’d expect each special election result to match the partisan lean of that state or district. Instead, Democrats have outperformed the partisan lean in 74 percent of these races.” The challenge will be to prevent the Democrats from squandering it, as they did in 2006. And I don’t think the country can afford another performance like Obama’s 2009 performance in the next downtown.

“Forty percent of Iowa Poll respondents say they would vote for a Democrat if congressional elections were held today, compared to 34 percent who say they would back a Republican” [Des Moines Register]. “The finding is notable because Republicans hold three of Iowa’s four congressional seats, including two seen as among the most competitive in the country in 2018.”

2017

The World Jones Made:

“In truth, just about any other Republican would have won this race” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Certainly, Luther Strange, who had been appointed to the seat and who lost the GOP run-off to Moore, would have easily defeated Jones, as would have a random state legislator or mayor.” A list of factors behind Jones’ win: (1) “Democratic candidates are far exceeding the percentage of the vote that a Democratic candidate usually gets. Alabama was no exception”; (2) “there is evidence that turnout is some more rural Republican counties was down”; (3) “[Black] turnout exceeded the Jones’ campaign’s most optimistic scenario by two points”; (4) “Women made up 51 percent of the electorate and supported Jones with 57 percent. Moore took 63 percent among white women, but Jones got 98 percent among African-American women, 56 percent among women with children under 18 years of age at home and 55 percent among single women”; (5) The Jones campaign should probably send U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby a fruit basket for letting it be known that he would write-in another Republican rather than vote for Moore. Jones used footage of Shelby’s remarks in a TV ad. The result was that write-ins accounted for 1.7 percent of the vote, which is considered a very high percentage in any race; it was under 1 percent in the 2016 presidential race and that was considered unusually high. These 22,819 write-in votes are more than the 20,715 votes that separated Jones and Moore”; (6) “Moore ran a terrible campaign.” So, when you see headlines like “Alabama’s women wrote the verdict on Roy Moore,” you can safely ignore them.

“Centrists are going to learn the wrong lessons from Doug Jones’ win” [Carl Beijer]. “[I]f you are a mercenary Democratic strategist, you are going to look at these numbers and decide that Democrats can take black voters for granted and need to focus on white voters. This is the lesson that Northam taught them in Virginia, and this is the lesson that Jones is teaching them in Alabama. The way you combat this is not to promote a politics of amoral demographic gaming, but to insist that Democrats need to fight for black voters regardless of what opportunistic (and largely superficial) data-wonkery suggests.”

“Alabama Special Election: Winners and Losers” [RealClearPolitics]. Handy Inside Baseball-style roundup.

Tax “Reform”

“Long-term investors and workers hoping that the tax overhaul and repatriation holiday will encourage investment in growth and a rise in wages should brace for disappointment” [MarketWatch]. “A spike in share buyback and special dividend announcements in the past 10 days reveals that companies are more likely to use any money saved on an all-too-familiar item: shareholder returns.”

New Cold War

“The FBI’s Trump ‘Insurance'” [Wall Street Journal]. Deplorable optics at the very least.

“Ex-Spy Chief: Russia’s Election Hacking Was An ‘Intelligence Failure'” (interview) [Michael Morell, Politico]. This is a remarkable article that you should consider reading in full. This paragraph caught my eye:

Morell: I would not be surprised if Bob Mueller concludes that the Trump campaign did not violate the law with regard to its interactions with the Russians. I’m really open to that possibility. Why? Because, as you know, The New York Times, The Washington Post, every media outlet that is worth its salt has reporters digging into this, and they haven’t found anything.

And then there are those who believe the NSA had everything from Day One anyhow.

And I think that, had there been something there, they would have found something. And I think Bob Mueller would have found it already and it would have leaked.

So, I’m really open to the possibility that there’s no there there on a crime being committed by the campaign and the Russians. Right? That interaction leading to criminal charges.

Followed by:

[Morell: On] the obstruction of justice issue. In my view, when I read the statute, boy, it looks—you know, it looks like you could make a case. Now, the hard part is intent. Right? You have to intend to violate the statute. You have to intend to obstruct justice. That’s the difficult piece to prove here.

But on institutional issues, this is even more remarkable:

[Morell:] So, let’s put ourselves here in Donald Trump’s shoes. So, what does he see? Right? He sees a former director of CIA and a former director of NSA, Mike Hayden, who I have the greatest respect for, criticizing him and his policies. Right? And he could rightfully have said, “Huh, what’s going on with these intelligence guys?” Right?

Glasser: It embroiders his narrative.

Morell: Exactly. And then he sees a former acting director and deputy director of CIA criticizing him and endorsing his opponent. And then he gets his first intelligence briefing, after becoming the Republican nominee, and within 24 to 48 hours, there are leaks out of that that are critical of him and his then-national security advisor, Mike Flynn.

And so, this stuff starts to build, right? And he must have said to himself, “What is it with these intelligence guys? Are they political?”

Heaven forfend! Translation: There was no soft coup, but it’s certainly understandable that Trump would think there was.

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, November 2017: “The consumer is in gear for the holidays as a very strong retail sales report lifts the outlook for fourth-quarter consumer spending” [Economic Calendar]. “Consumer spending proved a little soft in the third-quarter GDP report at only 2.3 percent annualized growth but today’s report, including the revision, is certain to lift the outlook for fourth-quarter GDP. And it may even encourage talk that the economy, fed by unusual strength in the labor market, could be at the risk of overheating.” And: “[O]ur analysis says this month’s growth was significantly above the growth seen in the last 12 months” [Econintersect]. And: “The increase in November was well above expectations, and sales in September and October were revised up. A solid report” [Calculated Risk].

Purchasing Managers Index Composite Flash, December 2017: “An 11-month high for manufacturing couldn’t offset a 15-month low for services” [Econoday]. “Outside of input costs for manufacturing, price data in today’s report are soft. Today’s mixed results are of interest, confirming what appears to be a very strong year-end finish for manufacturing and what may be, despite contrary hints in this morning’s retail sales results, a soft finish for services, a sector that may not signal economic pivots with certainty but what is a far larger sector than manufacturing.”

Business Inventories, October 2017: “The economic pace has been building but not inventories which are growing comparatively thin” [Econoday]. “The mismatch pulls the inventories-to-sales ratio down to 1.35 from 1.36 in September and 1.38 in August…. Low inventories will help keep prices firm which, though a negative for holiday shoppers looking for bargains, is a plus for Federal Reserve policy makers who are hoping that inflation will begin to show some lift. But for employment and production, low inventories and the need for restocking are clear pluses. One last note, however, is that inventory draws are a negative in the GDP calculation and today’s report will shave a little from what otherwise look to be rising estimates for fourth-quarter growth.”

Jobless Claims, week of December 9. 2017: “The first indication on the December labor market is very favorable. Initial claims fell” [Econoday]. “All the readings in this report outside of Puerto Rico are very low and point to a labor market that is at, or is very near, full employment.”

Import and Export Prices, November 2017: “Year-on-year, both import and exports are up 3.1 percent which are the most constructive showings since April. Yet, in a persistent negative, the nonfuel reading on the import side is up only 1.4 percent which unfortunately is right in line with other readings on core prices, all of them weak” [Econoday]. And but: “The elephant in this month’s changes were fuel imports” [Econintersect]. “Higher fuel prices were the main contributor to the overall advance in import prices for November.”

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, November 2017 (from Tuesday): “Expectations all the more trumped up with the new tax bill, but the details show actual conditions aren’t doing so well” [Mosler Economics]. For example: “On the small business employment front, job creation plans rose 6 points to 24, and while job openings declined by 5 points to 30.”

Real Estate: “Many investors and managers believe the rise in popularity of online shopping has been a boon for the industrial real estate sector, though some insiders now are starting to wonder if too much capital is moving into the space” [Pensons & Investments].

Retail: “Retailer Zara’s trend-setting fast-fashion supply chain may be fraying at the edges. Profit margins at parent company Inditex SA are narrowing even as sales are still growing” [Wall Street Journal]. “Inditex is being whipsawed by several big international forces, including shifting currency values, but some analysts believe the cost of delivery for its growing online sales also is cutting into profits. The company is testing various cost-saving strategies, including a click-and-collect kiosk. But the stress on margins suggests that even Zara’s pioneering supply-chain strategy won’t fully insulate the company from the realities of digital commerce.”

Commodities: “[Glencore PLC] is already benefiting from a coming boom in electric-vehicle production, which is driving up the value of commodities critical to the vehicle” [Wall Street Journal]. ” Tumbling coal prices in recent years have dinged Glencore’s earnings, but the new commodities are becoming a primary earnings driver for the business. The company now is projecting strong surges in production of copper, cobalt and nickel, growth that will ripple across commodity supply chains and reset distribution channels to funnel the metals to factories that make batteries for the new generation of cars. The biggest question hanging over Glencore now may be whether there is enough cobalt supply in the pipeline to keep up with forecast demand.”

Shipping: “The push by retailers toward delivery services is picking up speed. Target Corp’s agreement to acquire grocery delivery startup Shipt Inc. takes consolidation in the retail-fulfillment arena to a new level, expanding the competition that so far has seen Amazon.com Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. pull together services aimed at getting goods to customers’ homes faster and more efficiently. Shipt, like rival Instacart, uses thousands of contractors to buy products at retail stores and deliver them to consumers…, and pulls in products from local stores, including grocers like Kroger Co. and Costco Wholesale Corp.” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “My Not Too Fast, Not Too Furious Ride In A Self-Driving Uber” [BuzzFeed]. “When I take a ride on the construction-clogged streets of Pittsburgh, the first thing I notice is that my car is hardly self-driving. Every few minutes, vehicle operator Jonathan Dailey grabs the wheel, and a chime indicates that the vehicle has transitioned out of autonomy. [Vehicle operator Jonathan] Dailey holds his hands in the eight and four o’clock positions, as if he’s about to start steering, for the duration of the drive. ‘We call it the ‘light-touch grip, where we touch [the wheel] but are not manipulating controls,’ says Dailey. ‘I do keep [my hands] there just in case, because we have a lot of noncompliant drivers around that cut us off, or stuff like that.”

Concentration: “Disney buys much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in deal that will reshape Hollywood” [Los Angeles Times], “The proposed purchase of much of Murdoch’s 21 Century Fox media company accelerates the trend of media consolidation and would eliminate one of the six major Hollywood film studios. Murdoch would retain control of Fox News Channel, the Fox broadcast network and his newspapers.,,, The deal probably won’t close until sometime in 2019, according to Disney, because the company has to secure approvals from regulators in Washington and in other countries.”

Concentration: “Disney-Fox Deal Marks Seismic Shift for Hollywood’s Studio System” [Hollywood Reporter]. “One reason for the acquisition is to make sure Disney has enough content for a new streaming service it is planning to roll out over the next two years in move to rival Netflix, in addition to becoming the majority owner of Hulu. That could mean making original movies directly for streaming. Industry observers say customers have a voracious appetite for a diverse menu of offerings, versus just the all-audience tentpoles and family friendly fare Disney has come to be known for. ‘It’s like a jukebox. If it’s just the top 10 films, people will get bored pretty quickly. They want the B sides, too,’ says one veteran Hollywood executive. Fox 2000 and acclaimed specialty label Fox Searchlight, for example, are both are bastions for adult-skewing, specialty fare. Fox Searchlight is at the top of its game at the moment.”

Concentration: “Mouse Swallows Fox” [Variety]. “Disney is betting on an ambitious purchase of a sizable chunk of 21st Century Fox, hoping that more cable networks, production studios and other properties will buoy it into the future as it dives into the direct-to-consumer streaming distribution business with sports and entertainment services planned to launch in 2018 and 2019, respectively.”

Five Horsemen: “Amazon, Alphabet & Facebook catch a bid as the Santa Claus rally rolls on” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Dec 14

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 68 Greed (previous close: 67, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 60 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Dec 14 at 1:21pm.

Puerto Rico

“Today, nearly three months after the storm, more than one-third of the island is still without power, and in the areas where it has been restored the service is often unstable, with occasional outages” [Bloomberg]. Long-form with lots of good detail, but virtually unreadable in Bloomberg’s over-designed, cellphone-friendly format. In any case, worth a read if you can struggle through it. Good to see the Democrats all over this. Oh, wait…

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Why American capitalism doesn’t work for all Americans, says Nobel winner Angus Deaton” [MarketWatch]. From the interview:

MarketWatch: You compared this rise of mortality to the AIDS epidemic.

Deaton: The numbers we’ve given, which were similar to the AIDS epidemic, came from saying “ok, if mortality rates had continued to fall in the way they had prior to 1998, then how many people would be alive that are actually dead,” and that’s how you get that sort of number.

MarketWatch: It is not only opioids?

Deaton: That’s right. I think in the age groups we were looking at among white non-Hispanics, the deaths from opiate overdoses are the biggest part of it, but they are not as big as suicides and cirrhosis added together. Maybe some of these deaths, we should also be putting some heart disease in there. Opioids are certainly the biggest single thing.

MarketWatch: And it is not just men. It is men and women?

Deaton: Yes. I mean most of these rates are lower for women but the increases are parallel for men and women. I mean, women don’t kill themselves as much as men do but the rises have been similar.

MarketWatch: I want to make the bridge from your findings to the economy. You have said that white working class workers are facing a loss of their way of life.

Deaton: This is much more hypothetical because of course, you are saying “what is doing this?” Tying it to the economy is tricky because it is certainly not true that it was the Great Recession that made this happen, for example. And in fact even if you go back to the late 1990s, the patterns of income and so on are not that different across groups. They don’t match up. Any simple story that said “it is the economy stupid,” is stupid.

So we trace this back sort of a long way, and if you look at birth cohorts it is like each successive birth cohort is doing worse. They are more susceptible to these deaths throughout life, and the deaths rise with age more rapidly for younger cohorts, so we’re attracted by this idea that there is a cumulative process going on which is steadily getting worse over time. And, you know, the destruction of the way of life of the white working class is maybe a good way of thinking about this. I mean we are very attracted by that. You know, the ultimate poison may be in the labor market, but, it works through a lot of other bad stuff that is going on — like the decline in marriage rates, the increase in out-of-wedlock childbearing, and all those sort of things. It is those things that get to middle age and your life has not worked out the way you thought, not just in terms of the salary you earned, but also your marital relationship, your kids who you may not know anymore and who are living with someone else. So there are a lot of people who in their 50s that find that their life has just sort of come apart.

One story is just that there has been this slow loss of the white working class life. There has been stagnation in wages for 50 years. If you don’t have a university degree, median wages for those people have actually been going down. So it is just like that model, whereby American capitalism really delivered to people who were not particularly well-educated, seems to be broken.

An AIDS-level epidemic of death and suffering, and both major political parties are silent. Benign neglect is the most charitable explanation; malevolence the least.

Class Warfare

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has set a new series of programs to allow its employees, or ‘associates’ as they are called, access to part of their pay before they get their paychecks. One has to wonder why they need these very short-term, no interest loans. If their compensation was enough to cover day-to-day expenses, the services might not be necessary” [MarketWatch]. “On the other hand, Walmart probably believes these workers perform tasks not worthy of higher pay. If so, the pay plans are among the only way they can help employees financially over the long term.” [Bullshit tell: This is called a “new financial wellness.” Oww! My eyes!!] Something to tide you over ’til the food stamps arrive, I guess….

“A number of top banks, including Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and PNC, announced right after the Federal Reserve undertook the fifth rate hike of its cycle that they would be increasing their prime lending rates” [MarketWatch]. “None of them said they were lifting the interest rates they’re paying to depositors. That’s not a surprise.” No, it’s not.

News of the Wired

“Twitter Users Like Long Tweets More Than Short Ones” [Buzzfeed]. “Early data shows tweets above 140 characters are being liked and retweeted at a rate approximately double that of their shorter counterparts. BuzzFeed News obtained the data from SocialFlow, a publishing tool used by approximately 300 major publishers including the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.”

“Bees can solve the Traveling Salesperson Problem” [Quartz]. “A research team, led by Joseph Woodgate of the biological and experimental psychology department at Queen Mary University of London, used a harmonic radar tracking system to study bee navigation, following the insects’ flight paths within a set of artificial flowers. They discovered that bees are in a continual process of optimizing their routes over time.”

Merry Xmas from Silicon Valley:

I’m looking at this list, and the only thing on it I wouldn’t give up in a nano-second is the iPad.

“How to Succeed as an Artist Without Relying on ‘The Art World'” [Bloomberg].

Zeitgeist Watch:

Why didn’t Damien Hirst get to this idea first? Or Jeff Koons?

* * *
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, pleas s e 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 (SV):

SV writes: “This is from 9 November. Like many others a couple of weeks past normal peak. Across from my office in NW AR.”

Readers, I’m still running a bit short on plants, although thanks for the photos you have sent so far. Buttoned-up gardens? Fall foliage? Forest fires?! First snow? Those happy snaps 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.

99 comments

  1. allan

    GOP considers letting tax cuts for families expire sooner [WaPo]

    Congressional Republicans are looking at shortening the duration of tax cuts that their plan would give to families and individuals, a leading lawmaker said Thursday. …

    “That’s one of the things we’re looking at,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said Thursday when asked about shortening the duration. …

    Shortening the tax cuts for individuals and families by one year could free up close to $170 billion, according to estimates from the Joint Committee on Taxation …

    Like Willie Sutton, deficit hawks rob banks families because that’s where the money is.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      The bribes must be really good, or the future as a lobbyist looks so bright they have to wear shades, because I’m pretty damn sure most of them are dependent on families and individuals who vote for their jobs.

      Call me gob smacked at both the audacity and the sheer overwhelming suicidal nature of the Republican tax cut plan for any legislator who isn’t retiring before their next election.

      Reply
      1. perpetualWAR

        The Democrats eviserated homeownership and they got the boot. So, one would expect the Republicans to figure it out. It really isn’t complicated. But, apparently Americans are too complicit.

        Reply
        1. False Solace

          I can’t blame the American people for tapping the mike and saying “Is this thing on?” before turning back to Instagram. There’s only two choices and they both do the exact same things.

          Both parties need to be destroyed.

          Reply
        2. Daryl

          Well, and now the Democrats are on the way back, and…

          Maybe the problem is that it’s just like a video game — you die and you’re going to be back in it next round anyway, after a stint of a few years giving speeches or whatever.

          The only way politicians can get knocked out of the game is when they get caught doing these various extracurricular activities such as we’ve seen recently. No level of incompetence and corruption at their actual job causes any long-term consequences for them.

          Reply
          1. Allegorio

            Political parties have become criminal syndicates that take turns looting the economy; the Democrats with the wall street bailouts and ACA corporate give away; the Republicans with their tax breaks for billionaires.

            When the corporate Democrats achieve power in the next cycle, their targets will be Social Security and Medicare, more privitization for their crony “capitalists”

            Remember that Bill Clinton had a secret deal with Newt Gingrich to privatize social security until Monica Lewinsky “screwed” things up. One wonders whether the whole impeachment brohaha was about a sexual indiscretion or punishment for “blowing” the privatization agreement.

            I never thought that I would consider Monica Lewinsky a hero, but there you go, in a world of moral midgets, Monica is a giant.

            Reply
            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Remember that Bill Clinton had a secret deal with Newt Gingrich to privatize social security until Monica Lewinsky “screwed” things up

              Remember that Obama and Boehner had a handshake deal on a Grand Bargain, but the Freedom Caucus screwed it up because it wasn’t Draconian enough. Gawd bless the Freedom Caucus!

              Reply
    1. David

      From the interview,

      Morell acknowledges that he and other spy-world critics of the president failed to fully “think through” the negative backlash generated by their going political. “There was a significant downside,” Morell said in the interview.
      Morell, who grew up as a superstar CIA analyst…

      “Superstar CIA analyst” who didn’t “think through” the negative backlash of going political. No wonder the world is FUBAR’d.

      Reply
      1. Andrew Watts

        Nevertheless he’s right about there being a steep curve downward. If US intelligence agencies are no longer believed then they serve no purpose. They only exist to enrich the class of parasites which feeds on the nation’s wealth in the name of “national security”.

        Reply
    2. WJ

      Unfortunately, I find myself not buying the aw shucks tone of Morell’s interview. The timing of the interview is striking, emerging as it does just when the evidence of an Obama Administration/HRC/Intelligence Borg Conspiracy might be starting to emerge. The interview is a kind of advance protection/denial clothed in the garb of a simple misjudgment. I am also interested what Morell leaves open: ie that there will be no proved “collusion” (which is in any case not a prosecutable crime) but that there may nevertheless be a finding of “obstruction,” so long as intent is determined. But note that the “obstruction” of a fake investigation into “collusion” still gets you impeachment and that “intent” in such cases is often in the eye of the beholder.

      Reply
      1. allan

        Why oh why is Morell being cited as an authority for anything
        other than how to lie about civilian deaths from drone strikes?
        Emptywheel from 2015:

        … And he makes those two claims in an interview where he also claims that numbers on collateral damage tied to drone strikes are “propaganda.”

        “The other thing I’ll say is that this is the most precise weapon in the U.S. arsenal. Collateral damage is not zero — and gosh, I wish it were zero, but it’s not — but it’s very close to zero.

        “Number three, the numbers that you see about huge numbers of collateral damage just aren’t true. They are put out there as propaganda by people who want this program to go away, and al-Qaida is one of those groups.”

        It’s a great display of Morell’s approach to lying.

        First, most people don’t claim there are huge numbers of collateral damage. TBIJ — which is both one of the more partisan voices against drone strikes but which also does some of the most meticulous work tracking drone killing over years — shows that civilians amount for around 14% of those killed (a lower number than some more hawkish counts). The number itself is not, as Morell depicts it, “huge.” But it is, nevertheless, a relatively large amount, one what brings with it a lot of blowback. And the numbers — which again, are similar to those tracked my multiple independent sources — are much higher than CIA publicly claims.

        It is CIA, and not drone killing trackers, engaged in propaganda here. …

        #TheResistance is rightly mocked around here for embracing the likes of David Frum.
        Maybe one should be careful about ascribing anything to Morrell other than propaganda.

        Reply
        1. Andrew Watts

          He also threatened the lives of Russian personnel and openly talked about a war between American and Russian intelligence agencies. The Russians responded by roughing up “diplomats” (Read: Spooks with diplomatic immunity) in Moscow and harassed others throughout Europe.

          The irony is that Vicki “F— the EU” Nuland was the individual who most likely had to deal with that fallout. Good lord, they must alternatively rage and laugh at American stupidity in the Kremlin.

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          It’s a crowded field, what with Brennan (torture), Clapper (perjury), and Mueller (entrapment) all in the mix.

          I think it’s interesting that Morell — one “r”, like the mushroom with an extra “l” — is saying these things. I don’t regard anybody in the intelligence community as an authority; why would I? (People who have left the intelligence commmunity, like Binney, are more trustworthy IMNSHO.) Perhaps I should have added a disclaimer to that effect.

          Reply
  2. flora

    On the rising mortality rates, per MarketWatch:

    Deaton: This is much more hypothetical because of course, you are saying “what is doing this?” Tying it to the economy is tricky because it is certainly not true that it was the Great Recession that made this happen, for example. And in fact even if you go back to the late 1990s, the patterns of income and so on are not that different across groups. They don’t match up. Any simple story that said “it is the economy stupid,” is stupid.

    So we trace this back sort of a long way, and if you look at birth cohorts it is like each successive birth cohort is doing worse. They are more susceptible to these deaths throughout life, and the deaths rise with age more rapidly for younger cohorts, so we’re attracted by this idea that there is a cumulative process going on which is steadily getting worse over time. And, you know, the destruction of the way of life of the white working class is maybe a good way of thinking about this. I mean we are very attracted by that. You know, the ultimate poison may be in the labor market, but, it works through a lot of other bad stuff that is going on — like the decline in marriage rates, the increase in out-of-wedlock childbearing, and all those sort of things. It is those things that get to middle age and your life has not worked out the way you thought, not just in terms of the salary you earned, but also your marital relationship, your kids who you may not know anymore and who are living with someone else. So there are a lot of people who in their 50s that find that their life has just sort of come apart.

    an aside:
    Among the “other bad stuff” I’d include overuse of social media , which began in modern form roughly in 2004, and which hook users (and I use the term advisedly) into getting their dopamine fix in ever shortening and unpredictable intervals. Combine that with Facebook’s by-now-infamous ‘psychology’ experiment – reported in 2014 – where Zuch and FB tried to see if they could change or move peoples’ emotional states by ‘fixing’ what was in their FB news feeds and other deceptions.

    And then there’s this: “Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart ”
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/dec/11/facebook-former-executive-ripping-society-apart

    Not to get all foily, but I think including the use ( and misuse) of social media may have something to do with rising despair. Getting Christmas letters once a year from friends or family who bragged how well their life was going was bad enough (if your family’s life had hit a rough patch.)

    With social media it’s possible to experience that same effect every day. Bah, Humbug.

    Reply
      1. Lee

        When I search “crapification” on Google, the topmost link is to the Teamsters’ Union Blog dated 2/11/14. After that it’s mostly Naked Capitalism. But in the TUB article the phrase “the crapification of almost everything” links to an NC article dated 2/10/2014. What a great term. I use it every day. No one ever asks me what it means. Probably because I and everyone I know experience it every day.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Is it a good thing to be the originator of such a horribly descriptive catch phrase?

        Yes. It’s a good thing when one’s words, especially the coined ones, bear some approximation to reality.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          My original question should have been flagged /r for rhetorical. Crapification ought to be the word of the century (so far). Captures everything that matters to us ordinary people, so poignantly and pithily. Well done.

          Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Overuse of social media? Yup, I used to resemble that remark.

      What caused me to cut way back? The 2016 election season, that’s what.

      Far be it from me to ever thank Donald Trump for getting elected president, but the reactions of many of my so-called friends turned me from a social media junkie to a social media avoider.

      Reply
    2. Summer

      “It is those things that get to middle age and your life has not worked out the way you thought, not just in terms of the salary you earned, but also your marital relationship, your kids who you may not know anymore and who are living with someone else. So there are a lot of people who in their 50s that find that their life has just sort of come apart.”

      Not necessarily just social media, but not “working out” like the adults they new as kids and “life coming apart” as compared to the same.

      But yeah, the social media (which is really advertising and marketing media) and TV/Film (which is the same) makes the stakes seem so much higher.
      Consumerism can be perilous.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        well there is objectively not working out which is different than purely subjectively not working out. Yes if your friends go on fancy vacations and you don’t because you neither have the salary nor the time off than that is about comparisons.

        OTOH long term unemployment, not having health care when you need it (yes it isn’t wise but if you are healthy you really don’t need it much, but to be sick enough is to need it), and even more extreme things (homelessness etc.) is objectively not working out.

        Reply
        1. Summer

          I also think people used to be able to give people career advice that was a lot more accurate than now. Now you can give “getting a job” advice to someone younger, but “career” advice (unless it is a trade/industry the family is in) is another thing altogether.

          Reply
    3. perpetualWAR

      Here’s my take: if you communicate with these people only once a year (Christmas form letter) or only over social media, do you really have any relationship to keep?

      Happy to be free of all social media!

      Reply
    4. roxan

      Another aspect of Deaths from Despair may have something to do with HepB and HepC. The CDC likens the current epidemic to AIDS. Every time I see cirrhosis mentioned, I find myself thinking–it takes a long time to drink oneself into that–but it’s the ultimate fate of 20-30% of hepatitis victims. In the baby boom cohort, 1 in 30 people have it, and among vets of that era, 1 in 5. In these areas, most young folks leave so there may be a higher than average boomer population. This goes along with poor food, bad air, pollution, i.e. a decimated population. I found this interesting link explaining why that might be. hcvets.com/data/bloodmanagement/isg/toc.htm

      Reply
  3. Angie Neer

    Robot cars: “we have a lot of noncompliant drivers around.” Well keep your light-touch grip on the wheel, dude, because I can’t wait for the opportunity to not comply with your algorithms!

    Reply
  4. Jean

    Angie, I propose a forum where you discuss ways to get a self driving car to rear end your previously damaged junker. It’s failure proof right?

    Got Netflix, Hulu, Amazon? Prepare for much higher bills from your ISP. Of course, you can always take advantage of your ISP’s movie offerings. For a premium price.

    Reply
    1. Pat

      Oh, I fully expect Spectrum to start screwing me more than they already do. I have a deal right now where I get television and internet for just slightly more than I was paying for internet. That goes up in about three months, at which point I was planning to drop the television. Funnily enough, I’m pretty damn sure at that point it will cost me more to just keep my internet as yes, I do have Netflix and Amazon…it will be fun to watch. s/

      Reply
    2. a different chris

      It is failure proof. If their avoidance algorithm works, there is no accident and you are free to try again. Refine your technique based on what you just learned.

      Anyway, I was more, um, intrigued by the subtle terminology switch. A “noncompliant driver” used to be called a human being, right? Like I think I’ve said, we will get autonomous cars. The way we will get this is to outlaw human noncompliant drivers from all the major arteries.

      Reply
      1. Angie Neer

        Failure proof until the robot decides to upload its high-def video and lidar of your car, your license plate, and the vengeful expression on your face, to law enforcement. Just think what a great mobile surveillance network we’re building, and lots of civilians are eager to pay for a piece of it!

        Reply
  5. Reify99

    I just went to Apple News and “disliked”/blocked all channels except Naked Capitalism,— which can be found in search.

    Does anyone know if there is a way to do this in Google News?

    How about a “ broadband fee fund”? Satellite time share?

    Reply
  6. readerOfTeaLeaves

    There is a terrific interview with Sen Michael Bennett (CO) about the tax legislation.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-4lVoygdoE

    Around 17:20 into this clip with Velshi and Ruhle, Bennet says this tax cut is basically the equivalent of he and his wife buying a house, living in it, and telling their 3 daughters they’ll have to pay the mortgage in the future.

    It’s an incredible metaphor that makes the tax bill dynamics dirt simple.
    And that single metaphor explains why neoliberal capitalism is broken.

    He also offers some chilling stats on opiod use in Colorado — he was in a rural county last week, where 92% of the jail inmates are addicted to heroin. So, more evidence for that MarketWatch article, from a completely different source.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-4lVoygdoE

    (Later in the clip, they cover the demolishing of Net Neutrality.)

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      I didn’t watch, but I can guess what he said from the bounds of permitted discourse. But it’s not true. I guess it is an OK way to explain it to people.

      What really happens is not that the US “runs out of money”, it’s just the purchasing power of the people gets even more lopsided in favor of the landed gentry. So we go back to feudalism. But we don’t “run out of money” and thus “need to mortgage” something. The 90% just stop owning anything anymore.

      Like I said, it may be a distinction without an effective difference to said 90%. But it can technically be solved by printing a ton of money and just distributing it in reverse order of how much the individuals already have. Of course you are quite likely, given human blundering, to wind up with the lira in that case. So it’s much safer to actually tax the family blog out of the rich rather than simply print. If you want a stupid analogy (you don’t but here it is anyway) A McLaren F1 might be the fastest way to get somewhere, but very few people could handle it.

      Reply
      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        I can tell from your comment that you did not watch.

        Bennet was trying to point out that there are generational implications to the tax bill that are sinister — it’s a ‘party now, and have our kids pay later’, socially irresponsible bill.

        I understand under MMT it may not be about deficit fear, per se.
        But the concentration of wealth, the refusal to think ahead, is something that IMVHO, Bennet articulated very well.

        (And no, I”ve not read the tax bill. But if David Cay Johnson and Robert Reich think it’s appalling, I’m willing to defer to their expertise. Also, to Bennet’s, as he probably spends vast amounts of time and attention on these issues.)

        Reply
        1. John Zelnicker

          @readerOfTeaLeaves, 12-15-17, 11:55 am –
          “it’s a ‘party now, and have our kids pay later’, socially irresponsible bill.”
          Yes, socially irresponsible. Our kids pay later by being left with a changing climate and intense inequality that we are failing to address. They will not be left with any kind of monetary burden imposed by the issuance of Treasury securities.

          Reply
    2. John Zelnicker

      @readerOfTeaLeaves, 12-14-17, 2:57 pm – Unless I missed your sarcasm, that metaphor is completely false. The dynamic it illustrates is the idea that the Treasury securities sold by the government are going to have to be repaid by our children and grandchildren in the form of increased taxes. Neo-classical economists have been barking about the burden we are placing on our children for the past couple of hundred years and not once have the “children” had to pay off Treasury securities. There is nothing really to “pay off”. “Paying off” Treasury securities amounts to transferring existing dollars from a Treasury Security Account that earns interest to a regular checking type of account that does not. It’s an asset swap, no new dollars needed.

      Reply
      1. readerOfTeaLeaves

        I think Bennet’s point was about unequal tax burdens, and unequal benefits.
        I follow your point, but it is not the point that Bennet was making.
        I was not being sarcastic.
        I actually think that this stuff is hugely important.

        I’m also convinced that most of these people in Congress, particularly those who have been there for decades, do not actually understand what they are doing. Because of Bennet’s background in both business and government, and his very ‘hands-on’ approach when he was an administrator in Denver school district, I view his comments as credible.

        Basically, if Mnuchin (Foreclosure King) and Cohn (Goldman trader) are touching policy, I assume that we’re getting what *traders* think is good. So basically, Bennet is up against a notorious foreclosure baron, as well as someone who thinks all wealth comes from trading.

        Given that dynamic, I think that Bennet is doing yeoman’s work. And I also think that he’s far more in touch with the problems this bill perpetuates than either Mnuchin or Cohn.

        Reply
    3. False Solace

      Yeah that’s a boneheaded metaphor if I ever saw one, thank you for calling it out.

      If I buy a house with a mortgage, I and my three daughters now have a house to live in. If my daughters take over that mortgage, when they’re done paying down the loan they can live there rent-free. Totally different from slashing taxes on the rich and gutting what little social spending remains. Whatever the hell Bennett’s talking about, it makes no sense even within his own dumb-money framework.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Daughters will live there “rent-free,” in that paid-off house. As long as they continue to maintain it, pay the real estate taxes and utility charges, replace the roof, keep the lawn up, deal with any “assessments” from homeowner associations, fend off “changes to the neighborhood,” defeat any condemnation actions by ‘government” wanting to help out Walmart or Musk with a “benefits package to “attract jobs,” and so forth.

        “Fee simple absolute” isn’t.

        “Freedom isn’t free,” as the Right Wingers put it on their pickup and SUV bumper stickers…

        Reply
  7. Pat

    Funnily enough of that list of things not yet ten years old this Christmas, the only thing I would miss would be the one thing that is not dependent on the internet. Yes, I do like a pumpkin spice latte.

    In all honestly, I would probably miss the ipad if I had ever had one. I do have an Amazon Fire, which is mostly used for books, magazines and games while traveling, but I do occasionally do video as in Netflix or Hulu on it. It will not replace my computer. Too annoying to do anything like type and my comments are look stupid enough coming from the phone. ;-)

    Reply
    1. DJG

      Pumpkin spice latte? Pat, say it ain’t so.

      And how did a botanical called “pumpkin spice” ever erupt? One spices pumpkin with nutmeg and cinnamon, mainly.

      Reply
    2. False Solace

      I was amazed at how many things on that list actively make the world a worse place. Even pumpkin spice lattes, be they ever so humble, are loaded with GMO corn syrup and artificial flavoring. iPads are produced by slave labor. Uber drives its gig workers straight to the poorhouse. The websites rely on dopamine hits to inspire addictive behavior. Kickstarter is built around fraud, Chrome spies on your browsing history, Bitcoin is a haven for pedos, thieves, and money launderers. Hmmm. Like Lambert I’m having trouble finding anything on that list that shouldn’t be thrown in a fire.

      I hope that 10 years from now we have a list with positive things we can feel proud of. How about “Medicare For All”?

      Reply
      1. Katsue

        I’ve gotten great enjoyment from board games published via Kickstarter that might never have reached the market otherwise. And sometimes the publisher even made money from them.

        Reply
      2. wilroncanada

        Wow, False Solace and others!
        I’m so far in arrears in my race to perdition.
        I’ve never had a pumpkin spice latte: in modern tech, I have a 1TB laptop with the touchscreen turned off and tape over the camera; no cellphone, not even a dumb one although I’m probably going to spring for one in the next couple of months to keep in contact with my wife as she travels down island on the commuter bus to look after a grandchild one day a week. None of the others, though.
        Even so, I know I’m prob ably still on the RCMP or CSIS watch list because I attended a couple of meetings on free speech 50 years ago. The RCMP were outside taking pictures. Worse than that, we lived for five years directly across the highway from Charles Macdonald House, a museum in the middle of the Annapolis Valley. In the 1930s it was a meeting place for the Centreville Socialists, while the RCMP patrolled regularly to try to catch those dangerous people doing something. Golly, I’m doomed.

        Reply
  8. MikeW_CA

    “A spike in share buyback and special dividend announcements in the past 10 days reveals that companies are more likely to use any money saved on an all-too-familiar item: shareholder returns.”

    I guarantee it. That is the consensus of American business law and business culture in 2017. It is 100% accepted Truth that “shareholder returns aren’t everything, they’re the only thing.” Executives of major corporations simply do not believe they have any other alternative.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      And they don’t have any other alternative if they don’t want to get fired. Not that I’m expressing any sympathy for them, but they got there because they don’t really like to go fishing like normal people, and even if they are partially humanoid (aka non-compliant :)) they realize that some other (family blog)-hole will take their place so what would they accomplish by getting fired, really?

      Reply
  9. DJG

    “I’m looking at this list, and the only thing on it I wouldn’t give up in a nano-second is the iPad.”

    I went through the list and realized that I don’t use any of them regularly. I have an AirBnB account and used it once: I ended up at what was pretty much a boarding house in the Bay Area. I get my iCloud e-mail service through the App Store but don’t go there to shop for kicky new apps.

    Either this isn’t progress, or else I’m turning into Barney Rubble.

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Its not progress. There was a comment the other day about the effect of Moore’s Law ending on Silicon Valley and the shift of Silicon Valley from providing new services and hardware to disruption of fairly efficient services (it was probably in the most recent Uber article). These apps, sites, and gadgets are slight reinventions of previous products. Craig’s List used to be a big deal until just one bad story….who knows who could be next on the list?

      Of course, Uber is at the top. Will it survive the next year?

      Reply
  10. fresno dan

    Along the lines of the Neoliberal Epidemic, I think the National Review article below provides some added insight. I don’t agree with all of it, but I think that not being respected is a powerful driver of human emotion. I hope you forgive the extensive posting.
    ===========================
    What may be at work here is something that is difficult to talk about: humiliation…..But what about the often-repeated, less dramatic accounts of petty (and not so petty) humiliation in everyday black life: (I insert the example of having your 11 year old girl handcuffed)

    What’s happened and is happening in Alabama is not about policy…..This, too, is at its root about humiliation. Progressives scoff at the notion that economic insecurity drives right-wing populism, and they point to the fact that Trump’s supporters in the Republican primary were relatively high-income, not out-of-work blue-collar factory men. That’s a little narrow: It is entirely possible to have fears about the economic prospects of one’s children, one’s extended family, or one’s community irrespective of one’s own circumstances……………..And if you can get past the “white genocide” stuff and the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories (strange what unites black America and white America), you will hear stories of humiliation rooted in a sense of growing powerlessness: university administrators who assume that young white men are guilty of whatever it is they happen to be accused of, a popular culture that sneers at life outside of the coastal metros and holds in contempt the people who prefer a different and less crowded mode of living, an economy that has less and less use for people who cannot bring the chops of Silicon Valley or Wall Street to an increasingly globalized world, institutions that mock and degrade faith, family, and — especially — fathers.

    It was not policy that brought them to Donald Trump, and it is not policy that brought them to Roy Moore, however much they talk about abortion or the Constitution or anything else. It is the desire to humiliate their tormentors, from the social-justice warriors on campus to the powers that be in politics and the media who either ignore or harass them.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Fresno, you might be onto something here. During Trump’s election campaign he humiliated……

      the Bush Family, Jeb in particular.
      the Clintons
      Mitt Romney
      Chris Christie
      the Neocons in DC

      The above is not an exhaustive list, either. He is also really good at getting his opponents to make fools of themselves….Adam Schiff, CNN, MSNBC, and Wapoo, in particular.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        He humiliated a few who should have been dunked on ages ago such as Jeb and Mittens.

        The other group which includes the ilk of Adam Schiff and Scarborough were driven nuts that their particular brand of odious nature hasn’t delivered the White House. Does anyone else think the host of Morning Joe wakes up every morning and goes, “if I just didn’t resign when my mistress was found dead….”?

        Mark Warner was given the DNC keynote in 2008 and blathered on about the time he invested his inheritance in cell phones when the VP nominee was Biden. A slightly more competent Warner could be a front runner for President. Having Trump become President must really irritate the guy, and Hillary didn’t even sniff the bum when she was picking her running mate. Had they acted more outrageous or been less outrageous, could they be rising stars now? I do believe Trump broke their minds.

        Reply
    2. flora

      Thanks for this. It sounds, in a way, like a reverse or mirror image of the Dem estab’s id politics. Guess not talking about economic conditions is de facto campaign policy in both parties.

      Reply
    3. WobblyTelomeres

      It was not policy that brought them to Donald Trump, and it is not policy that brought them to Roy Moore, however much they talk about abortion

      Dude, you should escort at an abortion clinic here in Alabama for a day or three before you make statements like that. Abortion *is* the issue for many of them and they bought Trump’s proclamation that he is pro-life lock, stock, and barrel simply because Hillary didn’t say the magic words.

      Reply
      1. marym

        It’s not as if supposedly single issue anti-abortion voters are reluctantly turning to anti-abortion candidates despite those politicians’ other anti-life, anti-tolerance, anti-any-religion-but-their-own, anti-safety net, misogynist, anti-science, anti-environment policies. They don’t push back on those policies.

        They embrace them in their support of Trump and other anti-life-outside-the-womb politicians. They need to own the material harm those policies inflict, just as much as the elites need to own the harm of neoliberal policies.

        Reply
      2. JohnnyGL

        I don’t doubt it. I’ve gotten to know a few evangelicals and they’re often generally decent people, but once abortion comes up, they start spitting fire.

        So I guess teenage girls need to make the sacrifice of getting molested so that a fetus has a better shot at coming to full term? That’s the kind of logic employed?

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Every sperm is sacred, but funny the disdain they show for the finished product, in terms of allotment of health care.

          Reply
    4. FluffytheObeseCat

      “I think that not being respected is a powerful driver of human emotion.

      Not being respected is the key driver of grievance politics. However, it takes a stunning level of pettish, upper middle class whataboutery to start with an abuse of power involving an 11 year old kid, and “the […] petty (and not so petty) humiliation in everyday black life” and twist them into a paean to the NR party line.

      This: “humiliation rooted in a sense of growing powerlessness” drives Trump voters.

      However, this: “university administrators who assume that young white men are guilty of whatever it is they happen to be accused of” does not. The never-ending identarian battle between Ivory Tower factions matters to over-credentialed twerps at NR and their “leftist” academic alter egos, not to Trump voters. Not to real people.

      NR is devoted to keeping men’s minds off the class warfare that drives their ‘powerlessness’, and resulting humiliation. Man for man, they suck as much as every sour scold in every ‘Womens’ Studies’ department across the country. They just lick the boots of a different faction of the elite.

      Reply
    5. marym

      Is it really the “faith” of the Trumpists that’s mocked by elites – if faith is belief in a deity and an afterlife; praying; worshipping; performing works of charity? Many elites of the left or center subscribe to, or give lip service to, or are tolerant of diversity in those areas.

      What’s mocked is the restriction of pro-life policy positions to the unborn, willful rejection of science and learning in secular matters, and attempts to enforce religious beliefs through laws that do material harm to others (surely a more serious version of disrespect than “mocking”).

      Yes, “elites” and others on the left need to expand their views and relationships with those currently on the right who should be class allies.

      “Faith” voters on the right also need to support policies like forced-birth and creationism as a matter of personal belief, not public policy; and look for allies on the left on other issues.

      Reply
    6. Odysseus

      a popular culture that sneers at life outside of the coastal metros and holds in contempt the people who prefer a different and less crowded mode of living

      Huh, what? Nonsense. Country people are free to live their lives however they want.

      They are not free to demand that we use the power of law to hurt other people.

      Reply
  11. Martin Finnucane

    So what’s wrong with WhatsApp? Of the other stuff, I would drown each in the bathtub, iPad included. (For the insipid branding, if for no other reason.) But I have kin that use WhatsApp and seem to find it useful. Personally, I have a flip phone, so I’m not privy to such matters.

    Reply
  12. Kokuanani

    I too would have eleminated everything on the “10 years ago” list except the iPad, but I would have added the iPad game “Plants vs. Zombies.” It’s amused me on many an airplane trip.

    Reply
  13. epynonymous

    “intelligence failures” usually means fake news. Lets take the phrase back, and not fall for reverse-Trump psychology. Trumps alleged Russian hooker pee tape is real or not. Maybe Mueller will clear •that• up. I doubt it.

    Reply
  14. dcrane

    On Case-Deaton, since it is a focus again today: A commenter had some seemingly relevant links the other day to arguments/reanalyses challenging some of their conclusions. Essentially demographic shifts have increased the average age of the focal group of 45-54 year olds, which accounts for some of the mortality shift and changes the implications for the sexes. It would be good to know if anyone has found a weakness in those arguments.

    https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2017/12/class-beyond-case-deatons-deaths-despair-embodiment-neoliberal-epidemics.html#comment-2899131

    Reply
  15. Tvc15

    I’m betting Verizon rewards their former employee and current FCC chairman Ajit Pai handsomely when his term expires in 2021. The repeal of net neutrality is another shameless kick in the teeth, just like when congress voted to allow ISP’s to sell our data. Ugh, when will the oligarchs have enough?

    Reply
    1. GF

      “F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules” [New York Times].I don’t know all the details about in the new rules. Would they allow competition in cities and towns that only have a single broadband provider (I don’t count DSL as broadband)?

      Reply
      1. Daryl

        Competition is already allowed, except in the many cases where the monopoly provider sues to prevent things from municipal broadband from starting up.

        Reply
    2. WobblyTelomeres

      when will the oligarchs have enough?

      Never.

      Such is the nature of publicly traded corporations and various forms of wealth management. . Growth, year over year over year, is what they do. If they start chasing other goals, they get sued, officers get swapped out, activist shareholders appeased, and so forth.

      They are inherently sociopathic as empathy for the human condition is only present when they are forced to display/fake it.

      Reply
      1. Mark P.

        ‘Never’

        Well, you beat me to it.

        I’d amend ‘inherently sociopathic’ to institutionally sociopathic. For the reasons — ‘if they start chasing other goals, etc.’ — you cite.

        Reply
      2. Wukchumni

        I knew quite a few fellows that were trying with all their might to attain giant pile of money #8 to put on top of giant piles of money #1 through #7.

        The word ‘enough’ never entertained a thought.

        Reply
  16. Hana M

    The Econoday links are not working. I get a blank screen. On another note I really love the Water Cooler economic statistics round-ups–one of my favorite items, along with the ever-entertaining Bezzles

    Reply
  17. ewmayer

    o Re. Politico’s piece on the WTO confab: “Instead, they got more of the same negotiating paralysis that has dogged the consensus-driven global trading group for most of its 22-year history” — And similarly to Washington DC, that gridlock is supposed to be a bad thing, Politico? For the vast majority of the world’s populace, such elite-serving organizations “getting things done” is the worst possible scenario.

    o The WSJ, predictably, is no better: “The actions are overturning a generation of moves toward trade liberalization—and driving countries further away from a well-functioning common market.” — Well-functioning for whom, WSJ? Ah yes, for the Davos crowd.

    o Vox’s Ezra Klein, paid elite-fellater, predictably, si no better: “It’s remarkable that a first-term president governing amid low unemployment, a booming stock market, and a long run of economic growth is trapped below 40 percent in the polls…” — Yes, all those phony capital-skewed metrics are really indicative of a robust Main Street recovery, aren’t they, Ezra?

    o “Forty percent of Iowa Poll respondents say they would vote for a Democrat if congressional elections were held today, compared to 34 percent who say they would back a Republican” | Des Moines Register — Absent any actual candidates from either party to decide upon, such polls are completely meaningless.

    o “The Bezzle: “My Not Too Fast, Not Too Furious Ride In A Self-Driving Uber” | BuzzFeed — Here, BuzzFeed, allow me to fix that headline for you: “My Not Too Fast, Not Too Furious, Not Very Self-Driving Ride In A Self-Driving Uber”. You’re welcome.

    o Concentration: “Disney buys much of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox in deal that will reshape Hollywood” | Los Angeles Times — Oh great, another network gets Disneyfied. It’s already annoying enough to not be able to watch an episode of Jeopardy (which airs on Disney-owned ABC) without an obligatory Disney Question™ (sometime a whole category, and often via the ‘back door’ of questions/categories about Disney-owned movie franchises lacking an overt mention of the Disney name).

    Reply
  18. Wukchumni

    We’ve been here for well over a dozen years, and all of the sudden starting about a year ago, there have been 6 or 7 suicides, all men mostly middle aged. I don’t think there was that many suicides in all of the prior 11 years.

    4 of them departed via a high velocity weapon.

    Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    I’ve had a few dalliances with the first two on the list, Uber & AirBnB, but that’s it. The rest is completely out of my realm of experiences.

    Guess i’m a half-way there Rip Van Winkle, eh?

    Reply
  20. geoff

    More from the Deaton interview: “Obviously you can’t go back and change history. So you can’t make the last 50 years go away. And many people think, “ok what’s destroyed working class life – the forces of globalization and technical change” – and I’m sure they contributed. But we don’t want to stop them. Globalization and technical change are the guarantee of our future prosperity. And reversing on that will not only make things worse, but it will make things worse for a very large number of people around the world who have benefited – people in China and India who have been dragged out of the most awful poverty.”

    Et tu, Angus?

    Reply
    1. ewmayer

      Yes, similarly with his ‘Any simple story that said “it is the economy stupid,” is stupid’ — he follows that by listing a host of other afflictions, all of which correlate so strongly with the state of the economy, especially the policy-elite-blighted main street economy relied upon by the Deplorables, that it’s clear that the shortest-form summary of the situation is indeed “it’s the economy stupid.” But credentialed academic types do so love to get lost way out in weeds, lots of PhD theses and grant applications out there in them thar miniscule-detail weeds.

      Reply
  21. Summer

    http://www.latimes.com/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-disney-fox-cable-cord-cutting-20171214-story.html/
    “That’s one of the main reasons Disney is spending a fortune on Fox’s programming assets — to make sure its new streaming service will be compelling enough to make the cut. In doing so, however, it’s forcing more consumers to answer a tough question that pay-TV services and their giant bundles of channels don’t pose: What shows in the increasingly fragmented TV universe can they live without?”

    “Live without” being a key choice of words.
    If anything can cut the throat of entertainment offerings, it will be rising housing and healthcare costs.

    Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    I found this quote in regards to the average age of a farm laborer extraordinary, and the article itself about a family history of farming, fascinating…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~

    “In the mean time, Tulare County farming is more resilient than the occasional greedy second wife. The biggest challenges facing local farming today are the shortage of farm labor and water. The average age of a farm laborer is 45, which is pretty scary when you think of the health problems soon to come after a lifetime of hard labor.”

    https://www.ourvalleyvoice.com/2017/12/07/political-fix-7-december-2017/

    Reply
  23. Elizabeth Burton

    World Socialist Web Site has a similar Puerto Rico story—they have a team there investigating.

    http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2017/12/14/puer-d14.html

    My friend who is working daily on distributing food, water, diapers and all the other necessities also posts updates about the situation. A recent one asked people to help support a bunch of abandoned pets that were being airlifted to rescuers in the US, and the shelters there also are in dire need because they are overwhelmed.

    Water is needed, of course. And food. And a lot of other stuff.

    Reply
  24. edmondo

    “Moreover, Republicans are now stuck with Donald Trump. It’s remarkable that a first-term president governing amid low unemployment, a booming stock market, and a long run of economic growth is trapped below 40 percent in the polls and triggering unexpected Democratic wins all across the country. I am skeptical that under these circumstances, another Republican president would be this unpopular, or provoke this much backlash” [Ezra Klein, Vox].

    So what do the Democrats do? They attempt to remove the most unpopular incumbent in a generation by impeaching him and replacing him with Mike Pence – a generic Republican who has friends all over Congress and would be ten times more destructive to the country. Are the Democrats really this inept?

    Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    ‘I do keep [my hands] there just in case, because we have a lot of noncompliant drivers around that cut us off, or stuff like that.”
    ~~~~~~~~~

    Wouldn’t the jalopy be better characterized as a Help-Driving Car?

    Reply
  26. Handiespeak

    I wish I had the knowledge and patience to annotate this piece about the machinations of Boris & Natasha — it claims that 50 ‘journalists’ were on the case! — that I saw on the WaPo website this afternoon. It looks like a compendium of every Russia-Russia-Russia story that’s been peddled so far, and it starts by alluding to and eliding the big lie that US intelligence agencies confirmed Russian interference, etc.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2017/world/national-security/donald-trump-pursues-vladimir-putin-russian-election-hacking/?hpid=hp_hp-banner-low_trumprussia%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.25d727097044

    Reply
  27. tooearly

    “Centrists are going to learn the wrong lessons from Doug Jones’ win”

    Nonsense! They have no interest in learning anything. They simply want to pad their own pockets with consultancies and grift.

    Reply
  28. ewmayer

    An homage in song to FBI agent Strzok (pronounced the Polish way, roughly “stroke”):

    Say everybody – have you heard
    If you’re in the game, then the Strzok’s the word
    Don’t take no rhythm, don’t take no style
    Got a thirst for killin’ – grab your vial…
    Put your right hand out – give a firm handshake
    Talk to me about that one big break
    Spread your ear-pollution both far and wide
    Keep your contributions by your side
    Strzok me, Strzok me
    Could be a winner boy, you move quite well
    Strzok me, Strzok me
    Say you’re a winner, but man, you’re just a sinner now
    Put your left foot out – keep it all in place
    Work your way right into my face
    First you try to bed me – you make my backbone slide
    When you find you bled me, skip on by
    Strzok me, Strzok me
    Give me the business all night long
    Strzok me, Strzok me
    Say you’re a winner, but man, you’re just a sinner now
    Better listen now – it ain’t no joke
    Let your conscience fail ya – just do the Strzok
    Don’tcha take no chances – keep your eye on top
    Do your fancy dances – you can’t stop
    Strzok me, baby – Strzok me all night long
    Strzok me, baby – like my back ain’t got a bone
    Could be a winner boy, you move quite well
    Say you’re a winner, but man, you’re just a sinner now

    As yet another US government agency reveals that it has succumbed to an infestation by corrupt Clintonites.

    Reply
  29. Oregoncharles

    “Deaton: Yes. I mean most of these rates are lower for women but the increases are parallel for men and women. I mean, women don’t kill themselves as much as men do but the rises have been similar.”

    I think I’ll just let that oddity lie there.

    Reply
  30. Pat

    Folks the FCC was busy today. Not just net neutrality, they also started spiking the rule which limits the number of local stations a broadcaster can have. IIRC something already outrageous like 39%.
    This opens the door for Sinclair and the Murdoch part of Fox to start buying up everything but the Network O&Os. We think media consolidation is bad now – wait.

    Reply

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