2:00PM Water Cooler 12/26/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, this post isn’t nearly done; I got a late start because I got all tangled up in mesh networks. I’ll have more of everything for you — not excessively more, since this is after all a holiday — shortly –lambert UPDATE 3:40PM All done!


“TABLE OF FOREIGN INVESTOR-STATE CASES AND CLAIMS UNDER NAFTA AND OTHER U.S. “TRADE” DEALS” (PDF) [Public Citizen]. “While fewer than 50 cases were filed in the first three decades of the investor-state system, corporations launched at least 50 cases each year for the last six years, intensifying concerns about the system’s threats to democracy, taxpayers and the public interest.1 Countries from South Africa to Indonesia to India have withdrawn from or renegotiated their ISDS-enforced pacts. The corporate lobby is desperately trying to save their ISDS regime, but are increasingly isolated. The U.S. National Conference of State Legislatures representing the mainly Republican GOP-controlled U.S. state legislative bodies, the U.S. National Association of Attorneys General, small business organizations, unions and consumer and environmental groups and Democratic and Republican members of the U.S. Congress alike have called for ISDS to be removed from U.S. trade agreements. Stark criticism of ISDS also has come from voices as disparate as U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and pro-free trade think tanks such as the Cato Institute and progressive Democratic U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and former Vice President Biden’s chief economist Jared Bernstein.”



“Dems see 2018 as best chance in years to win back House” [The Hill]. “Midterm elections for first-term presidents are typically grim for the party in control of the White House. And with President Trump’s approval rating hovering in the 30s — an historic low in the modern era — the Democrats are increasingly optimistic they can mine the White House turmoil to energize their base, attract disheartened Republicans and pick up the 25 seats they’ll need to win back the Speaker’s gavel after eight years in the minority… [T]he leading election prognosticators increasingly consider the House up for grabs next year. Here are some of the factors affecting the odds.” If they run true to form, the Democrats will squander their victory on bad policy, as in 2006 (when they regained the House and Senate) and in 2008 (when they won the Presidency). I mean, that’s why we are where we are…

“The future is female and that’s bad news for this version of the Republican Party” [Moneyish]. “That’s according to a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which reveals a powerful Democratic advantage among female voters as America is about to enter an election year. The survey of 900 adults found that women favor Democratic control of Congress by 20 points, a significant shift from 2010’s midterm elections, when a slim majority of females preferred the GOP and delivered what then-President Barack Obama called a ‘shellacking’ against his party. The Democrats’ edge is especially pronounced when it comes to college-educated women, who prefer the party of Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi by a whooping 32 points.”

“More than 4 in 5 enrolled in ‘Obamacare’ are in Trump states” [ABC News]. “An Associated Press analysis of new figures from the government found that 7.3 million of the 8.8 million consumers signed up so far for next year come from states Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. The four states with the highest number of sign-ups — Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Georgia, accounting for nearly 3.9 million customers — were all Trump states.” If only the Democrats had something even better to offer these voters. Let me think….


“The inside story of Doug Jones’s win in Alabama” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. In other words, Young Ezra interviewed a Jones staffer, Joe Trippi (for whom I must say I retain a lingering affection, unlike Axelrove): “Trippi says the central insight of the Jones campaign was that many voters, including many Trump-friendly Republicans, are already exhausted by the chaos and hostility of Trump’s Washington, and they’re open to alternatives. That was the opportunity Jones exploited, and it’s a lesson Trippi thinks is a model other Democrats could learn from in 2018.” Attaboy. The Democrat Establishment narrative for 2018 is now being sold in all venues, and the first sentence of the first paragraph of that narrative, the “Call me Ishmael,” the “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan,” the “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” was the defenestration of Keith Ellison, orchestrated by Obama. It will be interesting to see what role RussiaBate plays, if any, in converting these Republicans…

New Cold War

“10 times the intel community violated the trust of America’s citizens, lawmakers and allies” [Sharyl Attkisson, The Hill]. The list is good, but seems short to me. “Perhaps more alarming is the growing evidence that suggests some officials at all levels in intelligence and justice agencies are operating in a way that is clearly intended to serve their own political beliefs and interests — not the public’s interests.” Atkinson (sigh) is a host at Sinclair, so we’re looking at yet another example of a partisan speaking the truth to serve a lower purpose, but truth it is, the liberal Democrats prove it, by lauding high officials like Clapper (perjury), Brennan (torture), and Mueller (entrapment) as icons, and Heroes of the Republic.

“Where’s the ‘Collusion’?” [Real News Network]. Brutal.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Meanwhile, liberal safe havens, the places where a certain class of liberals goes for succor and strength, or even for a thoughtful diversion from a world teeming with Orcs, are in tumult. Everywhere, institutions that liberals rely on are drowning beneath a progressive wave of #metoo” [Bloomberg]. Like that’s a bad thing. Still, it will be amusing to see, in the fullness of time, that “power corrupts” is gender fluid.

Stats Watch

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, December 2017: “Regional factory reports, in some contrast to government data at the national level, continue to run at unusually strong rates of growth including the Dallas Fed’s general activity index” [Econoday]. “Yet the strength of the Dallas Fed, along with similar reports, has not panned out to quite the same strength for factory orders, which have been solid but still mixed, nor the manufacturing component of the industrial production report which also has been mixed. Still, the factory sector is on the rise and looks to be an important contributor to fourth-quarter growth.” Surveys vs. Data, Godzilla vs. Mothra… And: “This survey remains well into positive territory with new orders improving and unfilled orders declining. This was a stronger report than last month” [Econintersect]. And: “Based on these regional surveys, it seems likely the ISM manufacturing index will be strong again in December (to be released Wednesday, Jan 3rd)” [Calculated Risk].

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, December 2017: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District cooled to a more moderate growth pace in December” [Econoday]. “Despite the moderation in current company conditions, optimism among manufacturing executives increased on nearly all fronts in December, with expectations exceeding November’s exuberance in all readings except vendor lead times.” But: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories declined with backlog contracting, The data is worse than last month” [Econintersect],

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, October 2017: “Strength in home prices is one of the biggest stories of the 2017 economy, reflected in S&P Case-Shiller data where October’s seasonally adjusted gain for the 20-city index is a sharp 0.7 percent” [Econoday]. “Lack of supply of available homes on the market is a central factor helping home prices not to mention the general acceleration in housing demand that is clearly underway.” And: “In real terms, house prices are back to 2004 levels” [Calculated Risk].

State Street Investor Confidence Index, December 2017: “Global institutional investor appetite for equities continued to diminish in December” [Econoday]. “Today’s report shows global investors becoming more risk averse for the fifth consecutive month … Globally, however, while the broader economic outlook appears increasingly rosy, the more cautious nature of institutional investors points to concerns that financial markets have already discounted much of the good news.”

Retail: “Fueled by high consumer confidence and a robust job market, U.S. retail sales in the holiday period rose at their best pace since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending” [MarketWatch]. “Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9% from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7% gain in the same period last year.”

Retail: The headine: “Amazon Reports Biggest Holiday Season Ever” [247 Wall Street]. The lead: “In its usual manner of boasting about big numbers without offering any specific data, Amazon.com Inc. on Tuesday said that its 2017 holiday season had customers around the world ‘shopping at record levels’ for ‘hundreds of millions of products.'”

The Bezzle: “Uber to sell U.S. subprime auto-leasing business to startup Fair.com” [MarketWatch]. “Uber Technologies Inc. has agreed to sell its U.S. subprime auto-leasing business to startup car marketplace Fair.com, people familiar with the matter said, bringing to an end the ride-hailing giant’s failed attempt to attract new drivers who lack regular access to vehicles.” Never eat at a place called Mom’s, never lease a car from a dealer named Fair…

The Bezzle: “Heed Warren Buffett’s warning: bitcoin is pure FOMO” (Fear Of Missing Out, by Erica Jong) [MarketWatch]. The warning is not actually Buffet’s, but the authors. Nevertheless: “Buffett is having none of it. “‘You can’t value bitcoin, because it’s not a value-producing asset,’ he said recently. Earlier, in 2014, when bitcoin was worth much, much less, Buffett said, ‘Stay away from it. It’s a mirage, basically,’ adding, ‘The idea that it has some huge intrinsic value is just a joke, in my view.’ So what drives the value of an essentially value-free asset? FOMO…. As with dot-coms and real estate, the fuel driving the bitcoin fire is the continual entry of new investors, more and more people motivated by FOMO, fear of missing out. (Remember Beanie Babies? Exactly…).”

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin, the biggest cryptocurrency, extended its decline over the long holiday weekend, failing to reverse a selloff that began after an unprecedented rally fell short of breaching $20,000” [Bloomberg]. “Bitcoin’s record high was reached on Dec. 18 hours after CME Group Inc. debuted futures contracts, which some traders said would encourage short position-taking.”

The Bezzle: “Russia Setting Rules for Cryptocurrency Miners” [247 Wall Street]. “The activity follows orders from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in October told officials that he wants regulation of digital currencies, ICOs and cryptocurrency mining. Mining operations are to be registered with the government and taxed. Officials have a July 2018 deadline for completing their work. The United States and China currently account for about 75% of all the world’s cryptocurrency mining, but Russian cities from St. Petersburg to Kaliningrad also host large mining farms.”

Tech: “Apple’s iPhone X is selling, but no one’s quite sure how much” [MarketWatch]. “How has the iPhone X performed in its highly anticipated launch? It’s anyone’s guess, and plenty of people seem to be guessing.” Not seeing a lot of strong methodology from analysts here… And: “Micron, Universal Display stocks fall after reports of weak demand for Apple’s iPhone X” [MarketWatch].

Tech: “If Everyone in China Has a Smartphone, What Does Apple Do Now?” [247 Wall Street]. “A report this morning from Taiwan’s DigiTimes cites the latest report from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on the number of Chinese subscribers to mobile communication services at the end of November. According to MIIT, the country has 1.41 billion subscribers. The CIA World Factbook in July estimated the country’s population at 1.379 billion, and Worldometers pegs the population as of Christmas Day at 1.412 billion. Of course some people have multiple subscriptions and some have none, but the numbers are striking in any event.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “The odds of an extended run in stocks next year appears to be strong, as the aging bull will likely get a shot in the arm from long-awaited tax cuts, which appear likely to win passage this week. But it also faces challenges from tighter monetary policy around the world and a market viewed as overdue for a pullback of at least 10%” [MarketWatch]. “A notable outlier among forecasters was Ian Winer, head of the equities division at Wedbush Securities.” Winer on tax “reform”: “‘Because they have essentially given everyone something, the actual rates for taxes are not that much of a boost. Companies have 10 years to repatriate and it’s clear to me you will get nothing but buybacks and mergers and acquisitions—so I don’t attach the same multiple to that,’ he said.”

Five Horseman: “Apple’s 2.8% drop this morning creates a two-tier market: Seattle-based Amazon and Microsoft sport 28% gains since late April, while the Silicon Valley trio (Apple, Alphabet, Facebook) show 20% gains” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Dec 26

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 187.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 64 Greed (previous close: 66, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 73 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Dec 26 at 1:30pm.

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Not Ready for Takeoff Face Scans at Airport Departure Gates” [Georgetown Law Center on Privacy and Technology]. “Making matters worse, the face scanning technology used by DHS may make frequent mistakes. According to DHS’ own data, DHS’ face recognition systems erroneously reject as many as 1 in 25 travelers using valid credentials. At this high rate, DHS’ error-prone face scanning system could cause 1,632 passengers to be wrongfully delayed or denied boarding every day at New York’s John F. Kennedy (JFK) International Airport alone. What’s more, DHS does not appear to have any sense of how effective its system will be at actually catching impostors—the system’s primary goal. The privacy concerns implicated by biometric exit are at least as troubling as the system’s legal and technical problems.” Sounds to me like grift is “the system’s primary goal.” Ka-ching.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Eric Garner’s daughter remains in grave condition after heart attack” [NY Daily News]. Check her account for the latest.

News of the Wired

“Prehistoric bling: Research uncovers factors behind the development of earliest copper alloys” [Mining.com] (original). “Knowing the importance of aesthetics in ancient metallurgy, Radivojevic and her team decided to dig into those [archaeological artifacts]’ initial colour by experimentally replicating the most common prehistoric alloys, made of binary and ternary combinations of copper, arsenic and tin. Once they did that, they were able to produce a colour chart that comes the closest to showing the true ‘bling’ of such artifacts in the past.”

“How I amplified my home’s Wi-Fi with aluminum foil” [JiffChat]. News you can use!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, 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 (Nippersmom):

Nippersmom writes: “Taken after our recent snowfall in west Georgia.”

Beautiful, and beautifully composed, too!

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. clarky90

    Executive Order Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption
    December 21, 2017


    “I, DONALD J. TRUMP, President of the United States of America, find that the prevalence and severity of human rights abuse and corruption that have their source, in whole or in substantial part, outside the United States, such as those committed or directed by persons listed in the Annex to this order, have reached such scope and gravity that they threaten the stability of international political and economic systems…….”

    “I hereby determine and order:

    Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:…….”

    This Executive Order has not been widely reported. The ramifications could be profound and game changing.

    1. Charlie

      Two thoughts:

      One is the EO is a back door attempt at capital controls, given the neo-liberal resistance to modifying or eliminating free trade agreements. In other words, preventing foreign controls of resources that is allowed by NAFTA, etc.

      Two is for the cutoff or appropriation of funds going to the Clinton Foundation.

      In either event, agreed that it is a real game changer. The other view is, so we need not worry about Saudi Arabia or Isreali “investments?”

    1. Filiform Radical

      Based on the popup that popped up when I visited that page, the tracker just tracks whatever’s trending among certain groups of accounts they’ve identified as far-right. It mentioned that normal topics of discussion might also appear.

  2. Darius

    I wrote the following in response to the net neutrality piece of a couple days ago but comments had already closed.

    Regarding a Trump veto dooming a Congressional Review Act resolution against the FCC repeal of net neutrality: Republicans would make a Democrat president veto a CRA resolution to embarrass him and divide his party. I can see Obama publicly wringing his hands in this type of situation.

    The Democrats are saying there’s no point to a CRA resolution because Trump will just veto it. That is the point, you worthless cowards. Make him veto it. Don’t you want to see him splutter with rage? Make it a campaign issue! On the other hand, the Democrats are polite and bipartisan. So there’s that. It’s good for the donors.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Donors want net neutrality repealed. Dems won’t utter a word in opposition. And that is why I will only vote 3rd party or no one.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think it’s worthless, but it is an effort to create a campaign issue for Democrats. Let’s hope there are better solutions, possibly (as in my other post today) technical ones.

  3. Lee

    Patient readers, this post isn’t nearly done; I got a late start because I got all tangled up in mesh networks. I’ll have more of everything for you — not excessively more, since this is after all a holiday — shortly –lambert

    No worries. Don’t stress.

    I’m glad for your entanglement. We’ve got a mesh network provider, Common Networks, starting up in our town but they haven’t yet been able to get the elevation and angle necessary to reach our neighborhood yet. They offer twice 5 times the download capacity at the same price as AT&T. I appreciate your efforts to provide more information on this topic.

    1. Lee

      Also, Google Fiber is in our town but they won’t hook up anything less than a 10 unit building. And we have municipal electricity but for the last several years the city government seems to be very chain store, developer, and monopoly friendly. We’ve organized with some success against this trend in the past and maybe it’s time to do so again.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think it is time. I think the political implications of a “tiered” Internet, with “all the internet” — i.e., everything critical of the established, corporate order — as the most expensive package, are horrific.

        And the Fort Collins people winning on $15K vs. a cool million from the cable weasels is a very nice metric for public support.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Would I be right in thinking that if a town set up a mesh network in a state, then businesses in that state would gravitate to that town as it would have the bandwidth needed to carry out modern businesses, thereby increasing the prosperity of that town?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That is what happened in Chattanooga. Of course, that process reaches a point of diminishing returns.

        It might be that Internet access should be thought of as a zoning issue, on the order of heat and hot water.

  4. Spring Texan

    Yeah, I think a wave of #metoo is a bad thing. I think it’s a damaging sex panic. Stuff like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are the stuff of nightmares, but conflating more minor episodes like Garrison Keillor into the same category with the serious stuff as “sexual misconduct” is thoroughly misleading and it also allows room for false accusations, since people are just dropped right away now with no hint of due process. Moreover, there seems to be no statute of limitations, Cenk Uygur is getting roasted for lousy stuff he wrote a long time ago. As with Robert Byrd and the KKK (disregarding his later history of a lot of fine stuff including opposing the Iraq war and defending Anita Hill), there reallly needs to be a statute of limitations because people change; and punishing people over decades-old violations is a poor idea. The “zero tolerance” thing is horrible. I’ll never feel the same about Kirsten Gillibrand.

    And all this sexual righteousness distracted the Democrats so they had a crusade instead of opposing the tax bill and fighting for the Dreamers. I’m to the point of hating #metoo . (even though I’m occasionally happy about some of the ppl targeted like Charlie Rose)

    1. Daryl

      > And all this sexual righteousness distracted the Democrats so they had a crusade instead of opposing the tax bill and fighting for the Dreamers

      Well, or provided them a good excuse not to bother. I never know with them anymore.

      1. sgt_doom

        Daryl is, of course, correct. Political theater is just that . . . political theater!

        Remember, Hillary Clinton’s SecState meeting record was sued under FOIA, but never released until after the election.

        No difference between either wing of the Bankster Party.

    2. aletheia33

      >And all this sexual righteousness distracted the Democrats so they had a crusade instead of . . .<

      those poor dems, they got distracted into having a crusade.

      meanwhile, i wonder what sheryl sandberg thinks about #metoo. has she spoken?
      can leaning in mean putting out?
      can leaning in mean outing the powerful?
      does leaning in mean neither? both? help!!

      #metoo is a revelation to those who are uninformed about how power works. i expect no shift in the prerogatives of power until the toxicity of power itself — humans' tendency to abuse power over other humans — comes up seriously, widely for questioning. not seeing that in our broken society any time soon. it would take, at least, a wave of feminism more radical than the second. something i still hope for, quixotically.

      1. Temporarily Sane

        I agree. At the heart of the matter is power and how it is used and abused by individuals and groups. But if talking frankly about power remains taboo, not much will change for the better.

        We seem to be regressing. In my first-year sociology class about 15 years ago, during a general discussion about personal and political power, a girl spoke up and said that she, for one, definitely likes her men to be dominant and aggressive during sex and “take control”. Her comments were met with laughter and two or three other girls vocally agreed with her. The instructor was disappointed (she had been trying to make a point about power imbalances in personal relationships and their wider implications and didn’t get the reaction she expected) but nobody fainted or shouted outraged abuse at the girls and the class continued to function normally.

        If the many articles and comments I have read about student attitudes in 2017 are accurate, such as this piece in the Guardian from an instructor at an Australian university, it is not uncommon for 18-21 year-old Anglospshere college students to be “shocked” by graphic descriptions of sex and masturbation. And yet badly written degradation porn like 50 Shades of Grey sells like hotcakes and teenage girls on Tumblr do it one better in blogs about their extreme degradation fantasies that, to me, read like the products of damaged minds who fetishize their own abuse at the hands of male partners. It is likely that some of the “teenage girls” who write this stuff are not girIs or female but most probably are. I am not a stranger to kink and, as Esther PereI says “sexual desire and good citizenship don’t play by the same rules.” But some of the stuff the kids, quite literally, these days are into is just fucked up. (No pun intended.)

        In the polite world (NC excepted of course) these trends and contradictions are never talked about and anyone raising their head above the ramparts better be prepared to dodge a lot of arrows and fend off baying pitchfork wielding mobs. Nobody loves the lowly messenger. We are supposedly the bestest most advanced and enlightened culture ever…yet we are unable to to talk honestly about power and sexual desire, the two drives/instincts at the core of almost all social relationships. The result is immense confusion, ignorance and shame lurking under the surface and dysfunctional sexuality masquerading as “female empowerment” while in fact it is the abusers being empowered and even eroticized.

        Nothing, however, beats the ironic, yet strangely fitting, phenomena of right-wing Trump supporting crusaders and their liberal feminist arch enemies both promoting, from different angles, a regressive, neo-Victorian view of human sexuality and gender roles that one of those two groups says it vehemently opposes. I’ve always thought the SJW “activists” and their alt.right counterparts carried on like two squabbling lovers-to-be who are in denial about the intense animal attraction they feel for each other. Maybe they can finally work some of that tension out of their systems and accept they are a perfect match and retire from the public sphere to live on an island in the middle of a large body of water far far away from the rest of us.

        1. Charlie

          “Nobody loves the lowly messenger. We are supposedly the bestest most advanced and enlightened culture ever…yet we are unable to to talk honestly about power and sexual desire, the two drives/instincts at the core of almost all social relationships. The result is immense confusion, ignorance and shame lurking under the surface and dysfunctional sexuality masquerading as “female empowerment” while in fact it is the abusers being empowered and even eroticized.”

          Isn’t that the truth.

        2. jrs

          1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys are sexually abused as kids. This might not be an explanation at all for any given indiividuals kink, but that stuff can’t help but make for some pretty confused adolescents one would think.

      2. Mattski

        It’s not just power; it’s hierarchy within a specific system. In almost routine fashion the women aggressed against were lower on the totem pole than those who attacked them. Women make 80 cents for every man’s dollar. Young men attacked are in similarly subordinate positions.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      When I see workplace abuser Bill Clinton thrown under the bus, I’ll agree that any Democrat has standing to opine on #MeToo. Teddy Kennedy, too. (I won’t bring up the brothel Barney Frank’s significant other ran out of Frank’s house, because that was consensual.) I have a pretty strong stomach, but the Democrat hypocrisy on this is nauseating.* Seems to be paying off politically though, so it’s all good.

      * Franken shouldn’t be grabbing women, but the Democrats just openly threw him under the bus because they wanted to make sure of getting the “moral high ground” in the Jones v. Moore race. It’s a little ironic to see the Democrats crowing about an election, while tossing the verdict of Franken’s voters aside. Still, they needed to act quickly, and as many have observed, the Democrat establishment honors democracy more in the breach than the observance.

  5. Steve H.

    Prophets of Rage – Hail to the Chief

    This video, in conjunction with internal stress from impulse control on FcBk, led me to laying down on a prediction market for invocation of the 25th Amendment by the end of 2018. This is a Janus strategy; if I’m wrong, I’m good, but if it happens at least I get something out of it, and I have agency in an outcome. I tripled my money on Trump while avoiding confrontations with people I care about.

    Also, putting on my aluminum-foil hat, I told a couple friends that keeping their cellphone in their pocket was artificially aging their nads. When they expressed they didn’t care, I told them their butthole was undergoing rapid aging and their significant others started nodding vigorously. Just saying, boosting your wifi signal is not necessarily all good.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Well, if it’s got some Public Enemy people in there, I guess it’s not a scam. Good!

      The sound on my machine is hosed (not bad, since I never hear auto-play video). How is the music? I liked Public Enemy, in addition to the message, because they had some swing.

      1. Steve H.

        Serious growl on the bass line, really is Public Enemy meets Rage Against the Machine. The video has high integrity, the repetitions in the visual parallel the rolling builds in the music, and the hook is strong enough that I woke up with it in my head.

  6. marym

    Re: Obamacare enrollment numbers fwiw

    Here’s a post from a website called acasignups.net that says the AP numbers are from the federal exchange. 11 state exchanges + DC are in mostly blue states. Some of the latter are still open – the author estimates that the ratio of Trump state enrollments to Clinton will be closer to 62/38 than the AP’s 83/17.

    healthinsurance.org lists the author as a “nationally recognized ACA enrollment analyst.”

    But yes, offering that something even better would be even better. Dems still can’t seem to acknowledge any issue grander than defending the ACA from the R’s.

    1. ewmayer

      Thanks for the link – 62/38 would mean “no statistically inferrable bias” since Trump won 60% of the states. But let’s say for the sake of argument that there does turn out to be a bias along the lines touted by AP – what might the explanation be? Perhaps that Trump states tend to be ones more impacted by neoliberal economic immiseration? Fewer people in aid states with jobs offering decent employer-provided healthcare would seem a pretty good reason for more folks signing up for Obamacare, wouldn’t it? And that would not imply that “Obamacare is great for these people”, it might just be a slightly less shitty option than facing immediate bankruptcy in case of a medical issue.

    1. RUKidding

      Yeah, just great.

      I spent Xmas eve at a party with a Trump voter, who was very very pleased at how Trump is “shaking things up.” When I raised issues like this one, there was no comment. Probably was too polite (given the holiday) to tell me that it’s “fake news.”


  7. bob


    Go ask Alice, she’ll know what the plans were — the wapo couldn’t the bothered. They apparently have numerous intel sources in Russia, but can’t be bothered to detail anything within the city that bears their name. Look, a wabbit!

    “Top U.S. policymakers didn’t appreciate the dangers, then scrambled to draw up options to fight back. In the end, big plans died of internal disagreement, a fear of making matters worse or a misguided belief in the resilience of American society and its democratic institutions.”


  8. bob

    “How I amplified my home’s Wi-Fi with aluminum foil” [JiffChat]. News you can use!

    The metal sheets already in a lot of houses severe to both “amplify*” and block wifi. I’ve seen a few houses where in one room you can’t get any wifi, even if the router is in the next room. There could be an HVAC duct in the wall. Refrigerators and kitchen appliances (‘white goods’) also do this.

    Moving the router just a few inches, or a few feet can make a huge difference, before resorting to tin foil.

    In the case of the floor plan he provided, the kitchen and a “household shelter” and bath are between the router and the bedroom in question.

    *you’re not amplifying the wifi, you’re redirecting it. A mirror is the best metaphor.

    1. bob

      There are two points. One point is the router, one point is the gadget.

      Draw a straight line between both. If there is metal in the way, there is going to be a problem. Stone, concrete, etc don’t help either.

    2. clarky90

      I turned off the WiFi, and ran Ethernet cable to my computer and to my TV. I am leary of getting zapped by avoidable WiFi. I can pick up my neighbors WiFi from two houses away, loud and clear.

      The Ethernet cable is a buck or two at the recycling centre. My internet is faster, and it connects more quickly to my devices. Win (safer), win (faster) win (recycling).

      1. Yves Smith

        I use Ethernet in my apartment, and you would be appalled at how many WiFi signals I have there. At least 30. And here in Alabama, sitting in a 9/10 acre lot, I see 10 signals in addition to the one I am using.

      2. bob

        Agreed on using a cable where possible. New “TV” units come to mind. They’re always in the same spot, stationary. Using wifi for them really taxes the wifi throughput. Just use a wire. Leave wifi for things that need wifi.

        Cables can have a downside- the connection is too fast. If someone gets in, they can take everything on that machine very, very quickly.

        Forgot to mention about wifi that getting the router HIGHER is the #1 thing to do if you are having problems. Most obstructions are at the level of a waist, or lower. Getting the radio above that can help a ton. The downside to this is that you might have cables running up a wall.

        First rule of antennas- higher.

  9. Matthew G. Saroff

    Re: Wifi.

    Pringles cans have been used to get ranges of over a mile for years.

    Google Pringles Wifi.

  10. Plenue

    To clarify for Strether, a console gamer is someone who plays on one of the dedicated gaming machines that you hook up to a TV (Playstation, Xbox, one of the Nintendos). Once you add in all the people who play games on things that aren’t dedicated just to gaming (computers, mobile devices), the total number is doubtless much higher than the already significant 56 million given by Statista.

  11. Plenue

    Gaming and porn; the real bedrock of the internet. I’m imaging a power bloc alliance led by Valve and Pornhub, trying to maintain net neutrality. What a world we live in…

  12. Jim Haygood

    Despite all the China-related doom mongering, the good Dr Copper has busted out to a new high for the year. Chart:


    Meanwhile Doc’s swarthy big brother Crude Earl touched 60 dollars yesterday in an ongoing “dance of the round number.” Chart:


    Commodities, comrades: as ol’ Jim Morrison used to say, they’ve been down so g-d long that it looks like up to me.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Jim, that was Richard Farina, the title of his first and main book (he died very young). 1965. Morrison may have quoted him.

      So is it time to sell the copper flashing I’ve been hoarding?

  13. allan

    Labor Market Concentration (José Azar, Ioana Marinescu, Marshall I. Steinbaum)
    [NBER, so paywalled]

    Abstract: A product market is concentrated when a few firms dominate the market. Similarly, a labor market is concentrated when a few firms dominate hiring in the market. Using data from the leading employment website CareerBuilder.com, we calculate labor market concentration for over 8,000 geographic-occupational labor markets in the US. Based on the DOJ-FTC horizontal merger guidelines, the average market is highly concentrated. Using a panel IV regression, we show that going from the 25th percentile to the 75th percentile in concentration is associated with a 15-25% decline in posted wages, suggesting that concentration increases labor market power.

    The authors, although unlikely to be invited to present their findings at AEI, Cato, Hoover or Mercatus,
    will surely find a warmer reception from the evidence-based policy wonks that now control Congress.

  14. Wukchumni

    “Even by his own admission, Santa Anita’s top executive realizes the six-month meet that starts Tuesday may be the most critical in the track’s more than eight-decade history.

    “We have to see the business turn around,” said Tim Ritvo, who was sent to Arcadia from the East Coast to try to revitalize the underperforming track for its owner, the Stronach Group. “This is the time some of the implemented changes will kick in. There is no silver bullet. It’s a grind process. We hope to see the trajectory in the right direction.”


    Horse racing is the sport of kings, but royalty isn’t all that nowadays, especially when there’s a gold mine only in need of getting rid of the venue to make it so. The first line the new head honcho of horses utters is a less than veiled threat that Mr. Ed et al might not be long for Arcadia if people don’t come, watch and wager.

    Long ago superseded in wagering by casinos, where the action hardly ever stops, for instance: a blackjack dealer with 6 decks of cards in a shoe, deals them for about 30 minutes with a couple minute break for shuffling, whereas in horse racing, the action lasts but a couple of minutes, with a 30 minute break for shuffling the horses around in between contests.

    We were coming back from a large family potlatch in SD, and I had read the article above, and it occurred to me, this might be my last chance to visit majestic Santa Anita, my favorite oval of all.

    It sits on 320 prime acres of real estate in Arcadia, or as some wags term it: ‘Arcasia’, and it’s a desired San Gabriel Valley city by overseas Chinese buyers. A good amount of the acreage is for the most expansive parking lot imaginable. Wasted space.

    So L.A. freeway traffic being what it usually tends to be: nasty, brutish and short distances gained, on account of perennial stoppages along the way, we saw our way out was Santa Anita, so we pulled in for the 4th race, and it was hopping as in days of olde with 25,000 perhaps, as Santa Anita had pulled all the stops, and was giving away 4,000 plush toys in the guise of attractive 3 foot long 2 foot high ponies to kids under 12, beautiful calendars to all, and a certificate for a free Santa Anita Crew Sweatshirt. if you came back to the racetrack on January 27 or February 3, and also you had to become a member of their “Thoroughbreds” group to obtain it. Cajolery amped up to 11, it was.

    They used to have horse races Wednesday through Sunday, but now it’s only Friday through Sunday. It’d be like cutting the NFL season down to 10 games from the 16 stanzas currently played.

    By becoming the 3-Day Horse Race Broker, it allows them to have fuller fields, as the bane of horseplayers is a short field consisting of 5 or 6 horses. and that’s been all too common for far too long. Nobody likes these sort of contests.

    We only stayed 3 races and called it quits, as i’d forgotten that gambling is the last venue where cigarette and cigar smoking are welcomed, and beat a path home.

    One thing we noticed was aside from kids brought by their parents, there was hardly anybody under 35.

  15. Charlie

    Comments are turned off for the morning posts, but I wanted to comment on the Jesse Jackson speech in 1988. I was only 19 at the time, but I was hugely inspired by his words here:


    My mother thought he was crazy, but I kept pointing out how right he was, given our learned experiences around the wealthy.

    If only he had become our first black president. *sigh*

    1. clinical wasteman

      Reading backwards here, so to speak, having clicked on ‘recent comments’, so apologies for any obliviousness to context. Just wanted to add that Alex Cockburn wrote quite a bit at the time to the effect that Jackson stood a very small, outside but still real chance of winning, given among other things the dismal calibre of opponents in both parties, and then about how he was stitched-up (is that anglo-anglo-English? in that case consider it deleted) by precocious (i.e. early stages of now-familiar machine) Demo-cravenness. No idea whether the first part of that was plausible at the time (didn’t read it then as a teenager in NZ, although I do remember Jackson being taken surprisingly seriously on TV news even there, even to “household name” level), but hard to doubt the second part.
      The Cockburn commentaries are collected somewhere in his 3 anthologies; don’t have time to check which now, but given the dates I’d guess it would be ‘The Golden Age Is In Us’, overlapping with the first part of ‘A Colossal Wreck’.

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