2:00PM Water Cooler 12/4/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Free traders were one group in Washington that breathed a sigh of relief when the tax bills began to come together in Congress, for reasons that have little to do with taxation rates. Those who largely support the status quo on trade policy and want to see a modernization of NAFTA — and not a withdrawal from it — were glad to see President Donald Trump focused on securing victory, and refraining from commenting in any extreme way on trade. Now they’re hopeful the lull will last at least until Christmas, as Republican leaders press to get a bill onto the president’s desk” [Politico].

“A long-running battle over how Peru has handled agrarian reform bonds is putting the country’s bid to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the crosshairs, as a former senior OECD official is using the dispute to argue against Peru’s bid to join the influential group” [Politico]. “The latest effort to discredit Peru is being done by a group of bondholders widely recognized as being organized by U.S. hedge fund Gramercy Funds Management LLC. The Connecticut-based hedge fund is already seeking $1.6 billion in damages through an investor-state dispute claim under the U.S.-Peru free trade agreement.”



I’m not getting this. Shouldn’t Sanders be campaigning in wealthy suburbs? Or raising money in the Hamptons? Or selling books? What’s wrong with this guy?

“Bernie Sanders scorches Trump tax plan in Akron” [Akron Beacon Journal]. “The Akron event, coordinated by the progressive political activists of MoveOn.org and the Not One Penny campaign, coalesced around egalitarian ideals like Medicare for all, free public college and equal pay for women. Sanders chided influential American “oligarchs” who he said are taking control of the world’s wealthiest democracy.” Crowd count: 1371. And:

Note the timing!

“Bernie Sanders calls tax bill “class warfare” at Dayton event” [Dayton Daily News]. “Kendra Bean, a physical therapist from Springboro, said many of the people she treats are dependent on Medicaid. She worries about the impact of the tax bill, and said she supports Sanders’ approach. ‘He really speaks to us as part of us,” Bean said. ‘We’re all very tired of the top 1 percent making all the decisions for us.'” Crowd count: ~1300.

“People in crowd say Bernie Sanders energized them at rally in Reading” [Reading Eagle]. “Reading was the fourth and final stop on the tour aimed at getting voters re-engaged and to oppose the Republican Party tax plan. The Senate approved a plan Saturday that has to be reconciled with the earlier plan passed by the House…. One vendor said the hottest-selling T-shirt was the one that featured Sanders famous glasses, bald head and read ‘Feel The Bern! 2020.'” Crowd count: 1600.

“Sanders is on a 3-day, four city “Protecting Working Families” tour with MoveOn.org and the “Not One Penny” coalition” (with a collection of videos from each rally) [Common Dreams], Now, I have to say I’m not super-enthusiatic about MoveOn. On the other hand, the Democrat Party did squat, so why not? (I don’t like “working families” as framing, either. It leaves out too many people!)

* * *

“I’m ‘Unbeatable’ in 2020, Trump Declares” [Blooomberg]. “The president’s final event in New York was a fundraiser at the Manhattan home of billionaire Blackstone Group LP Chief Executive Officer Stephen Schwarzman, said two people familiar with the event who weren’t authorized to speak publicly. Peter Grauer, chairman of Bloomberg LP, is a non-executive director at the Blackstone Group LP.”


“U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders endorses Randy Bryce for Congress” [Journal-Times]. “Bryce is trying to unseat House Speaker Paul Ryan, but he must first win his primary with Janesville School Board member Cathy Myers, and possibly other candidates. The primary election is scheduled for August 2018.”

“Clinton Should Run for Cotton’s Senate Seat” [Politico]. No, not Hillary. Not Bill. Chelsea. “We all know she’s gearing up to run for something someday.” I think this is a jeu d’esprit. It ends: “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a turnip to compost.” Maybe because it fell off the truck?


“Alabama Voters Will Be Able to Vote ‘Republican’ Rather than ‘Moore’ and It Will Count as a Vote for Roy Moore” [Election Law Blog]. “Honey, I swear to you…”

“Alabama Senate Special Election – Moore vs. Jones” [RealClearPolitics]. “Moore +2.6” (Previous: Moore +2.0).

“Is Roy Moore winning? Don’t ask the pollsters” [Politico]. “The reality? No one really has a clue about where things stand with Alabama voters in the Dec. 12 special election. For all the national attention and the millions of dollars spent to win the seat, there’s relatively little public polling in the contest. Only three public surveys in the average have been conducted since the Thanksgiving holiday, and odds are you’ve never heard of two of the three pollsters. And that’s precisely the problem. The most important and closely watched election in the nation is taking place in the equivalent of a polling black box.”

“Alabama Democrat Doug Jones is trying to shore up support among black voters in his U.S. Senate race against Republican Roy Moore by appealing for an end to the divisiveness that has long been part of the state’s politics” [AP]. “Jones recently made an appearance with young progressive Randall Woodfin, inaugurated this week as the new mayor of mostly black Birmingham. Beneath blue and white balloons, Woodfin urged people to get to the polls to support Jones. ‘People keep asking: Can Doug Jones win this race?’ Woodfin said to the crowd. ‘My answer is the exact same every time: Yes.'”

“The political class’s partisan hypocrisy has been laid bare” [Al.com]. This seems to fall into the “fed up” bucket (as opposed to the “both sides” or “sensible centrist” buckets), so it’s more interesting than usual. And it includes this gem:

Sure, oppo. But still.

“Trump offers full support for embattled Republican Roy Moore” [AP]. “Trump tweeted early Monday that ‘Democrats refusal to give even one vote for massive Tax Cuts is why we need Republican Roy Moore to win in Alabama.'”

“If Moore wins, Republicans fear that candidates up and down the ballot will be forced to answer for his every alleged action and confirmed comment, as the Senate grapples with whether to seat him. If he loses to Democrat Doug Jones, then the Republican hold on the Senate majority will grow even more tenuous, threatening to grind congressional action to a halt and fueling progressives on the left” [McClatchy].

2016 Post Mortem

“‘I’ve got a crook running my campaign,’ Trump said when he read it” (of Manafort) [Corey Lewandowski, Politico].

Tax Reform


“Asked by interviewers Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman how to address the federal deficit, [Rubio] replied: ‘We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future'” [Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times]. “The only thing that’s new here is the explicit admission by a Republican officeholder that this is the GOP’s master plan to eviscerate the welfare and retirement of American workers. Budget analysts have seen it coming with all the subtlety of a freight train.”

New Cold War

“If Michael Flynn’s ‘crime’ is all Robert Mueller has, it is time to move on” [James S. Robbins, USA Today]. “We have come down quite a way from the hyperventilation about Russia “hacking the election” a year ago. What happened to Democratic Sen. Mark Warner’s claim, later promoted by Hillary Clinton, that there were 1,000 Russian agents planting anti-Hillary fake news stories in key swing states? Or that Russians had delivered Wisconsin to Trump? All the conspiracy theorists have so far are a few Facebook ads that can’t credibly be shown to have changed even one vote.”… Flynn was fully in his rights making the call to Kislyak. Despite the best efforts of the anti-Trumpers, it is still not illegal to talk to Russians. Even Democratic former CIA director and Defense secretary Leon Panetta said it was a “stretch” to say these contacts broke the law.” (Robbins is on the editorial board of USA Today.)

“Why Has Trump Been So Desperate to Protect Flynn?” [Ruth Marcus, RealClearPolitics].I’ve helpfully underlined the handwaving/wishful thinking: “It is not possible for those on the outside to know just how close. But the move by former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn to plead guilty to lying to the FBI is an ominous sign for Trump and his circle. We knew this day was coming, and yet the news that Flynn is cooperating with Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III feels earth-shaking, for good reason. It may be the moment that everything changed.” I could write stuff like that all day. It’s content-free!

“Russiagate, Swine Emperor Trump And Me” [Nina Illingworth]. A long round-up, well worth a read.

Trump Transition

“McConnell: ‘There’s not going to be a government shutdown'” [CNN]. “The issue being discussed as a roadblock to keeping the government funded is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which is set to end in March. The Obama-era program has protected young undocumented immigrants, known as “dreamers,” who came to the US as children, from deportation. Democrats say they will insist on protections for the dreamers in return for their support for a spending bill, giving rise to a potential showdown.”

“War on the Blue States” [US News]. I’m not so sure about that. The tax bill seems more like a war by the 0.01% on all the rest of us, including even the 1%.

Realignment and Legitimacy


One big happy:

“Five Key Changes to Stop American Meltdown” [Umair Haque, Medium]. “What I’d Do if I Ran the Democratic Party.” Interesting, but the Kleins and Silvers of this world are not the key problem; we’re an oligarchy not a wonkocracy; and George Lakoff was not ignored. See, e.g., Why Mommy Is a Democrat, distinctly Lakovian:

Aaargh! My eyes!

“No Money, No Vote: How Imposed Fines, Fees and Cost Keep Black People From Voting” [Atlanta Black Star]. “When a person leaves jail/prison, it is often said that he or she has ‘paid their debt to society.’ But for many ex-offenders, the debt grows even after prison ends. In addition to jail or prison time, many defendants are sentenced to pay fines, costs, fees, or restitution. These financial penalties are legal financial obligations (LFOs). Like any other part of a sentence, the failure to satisfy one’s LFOs has consequences. When these fees are not paid, the freed offenders lose many rights — including the right to vote. Due to the racial imbalances in the criminal justice system, most of these offenders who lose their rights are African-American.”

“Philadelphia write-in candidate: I won with one vote” (his own) [The Hill]. “[Phillip] Garcia, editor-at-large of The Rumpus and a Temple University Ph.D. candidate, tweeted Friday that the city had informed them of being elected as an election judge to serve on a board for Ward 21, Division 10 of the city, which covers parts of the Manayunk neighborhood.”

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, October 2017: “A big upward revision to core capital goods highlights today’s factory orders report which closes the book on what was a mixed October for manufacturing” [Econoday]. “The split between the report’s two main components shows a 0.7 percent gain for nondurable goods — the new data in today’s report where strength is tied to petroleum and coal — and a 0.8 percent dip for durable orders which is 4 tenths improved from the advance report for this component. And driving the upward revision for durables is a major upward revision to October core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) which is now up 0.3 percent from the initial 0.5 percent decline. This extends what is a very strong run for a component that offers leading indications on business investment….” But: “According to the seasonally adjusted data, it was civilian aircraft / ships and boats that caused the decline. The data in this series is noisy so I would rely on the unadjusted 3 month rolling averages which were unchanged this month: [Econintersect]. “Backlog of orders continues in expansion year-over-year – but just barely. And this data is not inflation adjusted which mean backlog is likely contracting.”

Leading Indicators: “Looks like we’ve crossed the line?” [Mosler Economics].

Retail: “Spending growth at mom-and-pop businesses has outpaced that of the big chains in the past two years, according to Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president at credit-card giant Mastercard Inc., which tracks purchasing patterns. When they’re not shopping online, Americans are seeking more personal connections and advice — something they can find lacking at national retailers” [Bloomberg].

Commodities; “Lots from North Carolina to Washington are reporting tight supplies Christmas trees…., pushing buyers to drive farther and pay more to get the central holiday decoration for many homes. It’s an unlikely event in a market that’s nothing if not predictable. Some suppliers blame extreme weather this past year and some blame changes to agriculture, like a turn by small farmers in Oregon toward grapes and cannabis” [Wall Street Journal]. “But many growers say the Great Recession is finally reaching Christmas tree lots. Many farmers cut production or went out of business altogether after the housing bust, when consumers pulled back spending, hitting a business where it takes seven to 10 years to grow a tree. Sellers insist there should be enough trees for everyone but that prices will be higher….”

Shipping: “Pressing medical needs are driving the growth of drone delivery operations in some of the world’s most rugged and remote locations. The services include blood-transfusion materials that Zipline International Inc. is transporting in central Rwanda and pilot projects Matternet Inc. has been running in Bhutan and New Guinea, where roads are poor and medical treatment is in short supply. In the process…, the companies are gaining experience that could be used for shipments in more densely populated places” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Price increases for North American shippers are in the mail. U.S. freight operators are signaling new rate increases are coming amid growing demand in shipping networks, and even the U.S. Postal Service is getting in on the inflation action. The Postal Regulatory Commission gave permission for the service to speed up its pricing increases over the next five years…, part of an effort to shore up postal finances that will likely ripple across e-commerce shipping costs. Truckers are also are looking to turn the recent surge in spot-market prices by into better returns over the long term with higher contract rates” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “Gold company’s stock jumps 1300% after switching to bitcoin” [Mining.com]. “[A] small Israeli gold company that decided six weeks ago to refocus on blockchain and cryptocurrencies… In the last month and a half the shares of NLH have leapt 1300% in Israeli New Shekels. According to Bitcoin.com the company’s first step is to acquire a Canadian bitcoin mining farm, and is in negotiations with BACKBONE Hosting Solutions to buy 75% of its shares in exchange for 75% of its own stock. Bitcoin.com says the announcement has made NLH the 10th most actively traded stock on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.”

The Bezzle: “Andrew Salzberg, Uber’s head of transportation policy and research, said aligning the company with public transport authorities was a good way to make Uber a better partner for cities” [Reuters]. “Uber, currently valued at $69 billion, has been testing a more collaborative approach to regulators under its new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi in a shift away from a more aggressive culture under former CEO Travis Kalanick.”

The Bezzle: “Facebook launches a version of Messenger for young children” [The Verge]. “Facebook says it’s going to great lengths to make sure the app does not come off as exploitative.” Oh my.

The Bezzle: “[A] team of eminent scholars who just released the first in what is meant to be a series of annual reports on the state of AI” [Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg]. “The report is a great opportunity to finally recognize that the current methods we now know as AI and deep learning do not qualify as ‘intelligent.’ They are based on the “brute force” of computers and limited by the quantity and quality of available training data. Many experts agree…. The AI systems are such one-trick ponies because they’re designed to be trained on specific, diverse, huge datasets…. The data dependence, however, isn’t great for AI’s future development. A backlash against the limitless data collection is gathering strength in the West; nation states are putting up barriers to data sharing; the weaponization of datasets to produce intentionally flawed results and flawed responses to them is not far off.”

Tech: “Why Apple’s HomePod Is Three Years Behind Amazon’s Echo” [Bloomberg]. “The [Amazon] Echo is a truly standalone product at the center of an ecosystem. The cloud-based operating system has made it easy for developers to create thousands of skills or voice-activated apps. By contrast, the HomePod is essentially an extension of the iPhone, like an accessory. When someone asks the HomePod to open a third-party app, the request won’t go directly to the cloud, as with the Echo, but to an iPhone. As a result, developers can’t write apps for the HomePod. They must create tweaked versions of existing iPhone apps. What’s more, Apple has limited the kinds of apps to messaging, to-do lists and notes. If Alexa is the beating heart of the Echo, Siri is almost an afterthought.” A classic example of Conway’s Law?

Marketing: “In today’s media landscape, it’s tougher than it used to be to win on big, slick set pieces that blanket the landscape—the type of campaign that built Nike through Michael Jordan’s career. Now companies have to score in the run of play—having the right people in the right places making a series of small, skillful decisions on social media and in stores” [Bloomberg]. Nike vs. Adidas.

Fodder for the Bulls: “Economists See No Recession Next Year, Forecast for Accelerated Growth” [MarketWatch]. “The National Association for Business Economics’ NABE Outlook is among the most carefully watched forecasts for economic growth. Its December survey shows that those questioned say a recession next year is highly unlikely. And the group revised most of its predictions for GDP improvement upward…. Among the main reasons are that tax cuts will stimulate the economy. The NABE is not the only group with such a forecast… It is hard to imagine things being much better, at least in terms of the economy.” Irony alert!

Five Horsemen: “What have they done to the GOOG? Fab Five falter as $11K Bitcoin sucks air out of the speculative space” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Dec 4

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on volcanoes. “There has been several eruptions around the world” [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 184.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 73 Greed (previous close: 70, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 51 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Dec 4 at 11:16am. Loving tax reform.

Sports Desk

“Tennessee’s Fans Know More Than John Currie and the Haslams” [Outkick the Coverage]. “When John Currie and the Haslam family attempted on Sunday to ram through Greg Schiano as the next Tennessee football coach, the fan base collectively stood up and said this was an unacceptable hire. From the state legislature to the lowest fan sitting in the highest seats of the football stadium, Tennessee fans forced the administration to rescind the offer and begin the search anew…. The Haslam’s had gone 0-3 on hires and now they wanted the chance to make another one, a guy no one else wanted and, frankly, that no one else is even interviewing. And the fan base said, ‘Hell no.'” And:

If you don’t know about the Haslam family, you should. They are billionaires and they run the Tennessee athletic department like a feudal kingdom. They hire and fire, they make every major decision, they nod and administrators jump. They’ve got the governor’s office locked up in the state and an NFL football team — if you want to count the Browns as an NFL team — and while their company is currently under federal prosecution for a variety of misdeeds, they control everything at the University of Tennessee and much in the state as well.

Perhaps there’s a lesson here for all of us….


“Mysterious Illnesses Are Plaguing People In California After A Massive Gas Leak” [Guardian]. This is super-nasty.

“Bill McKibben: Winning Slowly Is the Same as Losing” [Rolling Stone]. “In fact, that’s the problem with climate change. It won’t stand still. Health care is a grave problem in the U.S. right now too, one that Donald Trump seems set on making steadily worse. If his administration manages to defund Obamacare, millions of people will suffer. But if, in three years’ time, some new administration takes over with a different resolve, it won’t have become exponentially harder to deal with our health care issues. That suffering in the interim wouldn’t have changed the fundamental equation. But with global warming, the fundamental equation is precisely what’s shifting.”

“In Massachusetts, Protesters Balk At Pipeline Company’s Payments To Police” [HuffPo]. “According to records anti-pipeline protesters recently obtained through a public records request, Kinder Morgan has been reimbursing state police officers from nearby Troop B headquarters in Northampton for their many hours on site. Through October, the total reimbursement has been $957,682.15, according to Cathy Kristofferson, a member of the Massachusetts Pipeline Awareness Network.”

“Nations agree to ban fishing in Arctic Ocean for at least 16 years” [Science]. “‘There is no other high seas area where we’ve decided to do the science first,’ says Scott Highleyman, vice president of conservation policy and programs at the Ocean Conservancy in Washington, D.C., who also served on the U.S. delegation to the negotiations [between nine nations and the EU]. “It’s a great example of putting the precautionary principle into action.'”

Class Warfare

“Homecoming: Retracing My PapPap’s Political Legacy in the Fight to Win the PA 18th Special Election & Stop the Northern Outbreak of “Right-to-Work'” [Payday Report]. “When I went on the radio and started talking about the decisive role played by Union army troops down South, I was quickly corrected by Southern organizers who took great pride in how the hill folks of Southern Appalachia had also taken up arms against the Confederacy…. As I toured the battlefields of Chattanooga, Gilliland explained to me how those strands of Southern resistance to the wealthy elite had continued to this day and wondered why people in the North were ignoring stories of resistance that could inspire so many.”

“Robots Are Coming for Jobs of as Many as 800 Million Worldwide” [Bloomberg]. When you read “robot,” think “slave.”

“The Politics of Sexual Harassment (1981)” [Viewpoint Magazine]. “[W]e have an interest in defining sexual harassment specifically so that we can use the legal and moral weapons we have gained. If we insist on total subjectivity in the definition of the ‘crime’ – that is, that whatever makes a woman feel harassed is harassment – then we will sacrifice all access to legal weapons. Perhaps someday we will be strong enough as a movement to make sexism itself a crime; but we are not that strong yet and ‘merely’ pressuring sexual harassment out of existence would be most welcome.”

“Nobody Wants to See your Dick — A Guide to Handling your Newfound Wealth and Influence” [Medium]. Well put!

News of the Wired

This really is astonishing:

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Oguk):

Oguk writes: “Volunteer in the compost pile.” Like so many of us!

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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. Samuel Conner

    Regarding Rubio’s explanation of how to “reduce the debt”, my MMT intuitions tell me that growth most likely would simply (if it did even that) reduce the ratio of debt to GDP but not the absolute debt level. Reduction in absolute debt level would require withdrawal of cash from would-be private spenders. Maybe if velocity radically increased this could be counteracted without economic contraction.

    It seems to me that this isn’t that hard to understand. Are the “retire the Federal debt” people after something else? Maybe they want the banks — and only the banks — to be the ones who stimulate demand by issuing credit?

    1. paulmeli

      “…We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending.”

      Reducing spending reduces economic growth. Something missing in his logic chain.

      No matter how many times I cut the board it’s still too short.

      1. edmondo

        We’ll build more aircraft carriers! Thousands of them – we’ll build so many aircraft carriers that we’ll be able to march our troops right across the ocean and they’ll never get wet.

        Our priorities in this country are simply absurd. If they cut Social security, Medicare and Medicaid, they will be able to hold their caucus in a phone booth (if those things still existed.

  2. nyc transplant to south carolina

    Sorry, but that Cab Calloway/Nicholas Bros routine was “Jumpin’ Jive”. It was a piece form the movie Stormy Weather.

    1. Mel

      “moving to Cab Calloway and his orchestra in STORMY WEATHER”, yes.

      Nobody needs to be sorry for that! Leapfrogging down giant stairsteps and landing on the beat! Damn!

    2. Lee

      Amazing and beautiful but those flying splits made me wince. I haven’t been that limber since I was three years old, if even then.

    3. Cynthia

      “Cheek to Cheek” from (Top Hat, 1935) may not be greatest onscreen dance routine of all time, but it’s gotta be the most romantic one, hands down:


      Another all-time great performed Rogers and Astaire is “Night And Day” from (The Gay Divorcee, 1934). I especially like this one because it has a distinct Latin flavor to it, as does “The Continental,” which was also featured in the film. However, in today’s world, their performance of “Night and Day” could easily be classified as sexual harassment, I’m afraid. I still love it though:


  3. allan

    Exclusive: Meet the 5 new monuments in Utah — 2 million acres smaller than Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante [Salt Lake Trib]

    Currently a live feed – you have been warned.

    President Donald Trump will shave some 2 million acres from the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments Monday, arguing it fulfills a campaign promise to listen to Americans who felt disenfranchised by previous administrations. …

    Now invoking the Native Americans who have in fact been frozen out of Zinke’s “process”.

    1. Utah

      It was a sad day today in my home state. Grateful for the protesters, mad at the people who have voted for our joke of a state and federal delegation. This is so bad for us- it opens up sacred mountains to oil and gas and coal companies. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Vatch

    “Mysterious Illnesses Are Plaguing People In California After A Massive Gas Leak” [Guardian]. This is super-nasty.

    You’re not kidding; this really is super nasty. So naturally, the Congress and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt are doing everything they can to disable environmental protection in the United States. Things were already bad before Trump took office, as the events in Aliso Canyon, Flint, Pittsburgh, and numerous factory farms prove, and we can only expect worsening, thanks to the continuing deregulation and budget cutting.

    1. Bill

      Don’t forget Jerry Brown:

      After protesters chanted “Keep It In The Ground,” in opposition to fossil fuel extraction, Brown replied, “Let’s put you in the ground so we can get on with the show here.” Clumps of interrupters continued to pop up and be escorted out through the rest of the presentation, prompting responses from Brown. “Unfortunately, in politics,” he said, “we don’t have a magic wand. … I can’t say ‘Stop, there’s no more coal, no more oil.’ ”

      1. Vatch

        Thanks for the reminder. Fracking uses a lot of water, as does agriculture, and they don’t have a lot of water in California. As I said, things were already bad before Trump took office. The EPA should be strengthened, not weakened.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I think Brown could a lot better than ‘let’s put you in the ground.’

          Wukchumi commented on a trick by the Los Angeles Health Department.

          1. audrey jr

            On Aliso Canyon: Let’s not for get that Governor Brown’s sister sits on the board that operates Aliso Canyon; so nothing to see here, folks!

        2. ABasLesAristocrates

          Brown’s response to the 5-year public-emergency drought was to leave both fracking and agriculture completely untouched while asking ordinary households to cut their usage to a trickle. I don’t know where all this “Governor Moonbeam” stuff comes from: as far as I can tell, he’s a run-of-the-mill neoliberal.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s an ongoing tragedy, and independent Republic of California could do more.

      From the article:’

      Last month, California state Sen. Henry Stern similarly pointed to the lack of information on the health effects and called for a “moratorium on new gas injections and withdrawals until we have answered critical questions about ongoing health and safety risks.”

      “What was the root cause of the gas leak?” Stern wrote in a letter addressed to California Gov. Jerry Brown. “Two years later, we still do not know. The proximity of this field to residents, major fault lines, and fire risks, make it inherently risky to operate within a reasonable margin of safety.”

      Later in the article, a commenter wrote, in effect: “Shut it down now, Brown.”

  5. ewmayer

    o Elon Musk to compete to fund high-speed Loop in Chicago | Reuters

    Ahahaha, the hilariously self-depecatingly-named ‘Boring Company’ – that Elon Musk, he’s such a card! It almost makes one forget the grifters-gotta-grift nature of his oeuvre (cf. also Wolf Richters neighboring “Carmageddon for Tesla” piece today). I’m sure he and career political grifter Rahm Emanuel will get along famously.

  6. RepubAnon

    Re Michael Flynn: The general consensus is that Mueller could have indicted Flynn for many more crimes than lying to the FBI – otherwise, why would Flynn agree to a plea deal on that one charge? After all, the idea of a plea bargain is to plead out to less than what you could be convicted of at trial.

    1. WJ

      My take on this is that (1) we already know Flynn was guilty of not informing anybody of his paid role as an advisor to/ promoter of Turkey–a far greater crime, I would imagine, than lying to the FBI about perfectly normal [in the sense of normal sociopathy] conversations. We also know that neither Mueller nor Flynn probably wanted to pursue (1) for different reasons: for Mueller, the questions of where it would all lead? who else would get caught up in it? what would it reveal about our upper level leadership in Defense as a whole? were probably ones he didn’t want to risk answering. For Flynn, it would mean simply more, longer, more detailed embarrassment than that to which he’s already been subject. So both parties had motivation for arriving at a plea that would allow Mueller to look like he was doing his job while saving Flynn from continued exposure. Even if Flynn testifies that Kushner directed him to talk to the Russians about the post-election Obama-administration orchestrated U.N. vote and economic sanctions, I don’t see how this spells trouble for Kushner, unless Flynn were also to testify that Kushner or somebody else later directed Flynn to lie about the content of both conversations. But Flynn should have known that the NSA/FBI/CIA would already *know* the content of these conversations, as they would have been recording them. (Everybody says that people like Flynn get that their conversations are always being snooped on in this way, which, again, passes for normal sociopathy in D.C.) So the real puzzle is why Flynn lied about these in the first place. Perhaps he really was too stupid or brazen to consider that the FBI already had the transcripts, and so were likely trying to bait him. Perhaps he really just hates the FBI and lies to them whenever he can. (I can understand this view.)

      But the bigger point is that Mueller and Flynn both have plausible reasons for avoiding a more detailed perusal of Flynn’s record, and this is sufficient to explain why the plea was offered and accepted.

      I could be wrong, of course. The above is what makes the most sense to me at present, though.

    2. Yves Smith

      No, you have that utterly wrong. DoJ guidelines call for suspects to plead guilty on their WORST crime a prosecutor could likelyy win on:

      Many analysts are under the misimpression that it is typical for federal prosecutors to accept guilty pleas on minor charges in exchange for cooperation that helps build a case on major charges.

      From this flawed premise, they reason that Mueller is methodically constructing a major case on Trump by accepting minor guilty pleas from Michael Flynn and George Papadopoulos for making false statements, and by indicting Paul Manafort and an associate on charges that have nothing to do with Trump or the 2016 election. That is simply not how it works, strategically or legally.

      As I’ve tried to explain a few times now (see here and here), if a prosecutor has an accomplice cooperator who gives the government incriminating information about the major scheme under investigation, he pressures the accomplice to plead guilty to the major scheme, not to an ancillary process crime — and particularly not to false-statements charges.

      Strategically, and for public-relations purposes (which are not inconsequential in a high-profile corruption investigation, just ask Ken Starr), a guilty plea to the major scheme under investigation proves that the major scheme really happened — here, some kind of criminal collusion (i.e., conspiracy) in Russia’s espionage operation against the 2016 election. The guilty-plea allocution, in which the accomplice explains to the court what he and others did to carry out the scheme, puts enormous pressure on other accomplices to come forward and cooperate. In a political corruption case, it can drive public officials out of office.

      Justice Department policy calls for prosecutors to indict a defendant on the most serious readily provable charge, not to plead out a case on minor charges to obtain cooperation. The federal sentencing guidelines also encourage this. They allow a judge to sentence the defendant below the often harsh guidelines calculation. This can mean a cooperator gets as little as zero jail time or time-served, no matter how serious the charges. This sentencing leniency happens only if the defendant pleads guilty and provides substantial assistance to the government’s investigation. That is what enables the prosecutor to entice an accomplice to cooperate; the prosecutor does not need to entice cooperation by pleading the case out for a song.

      The practice of pressuring a guilty plea to the major charges makes the accomplice a formidable witness at trial. The jury will know that he is facing a potential sentence of perhaps decades in prison unless he discloses everything he knows and tells the truth in his testimony. That is what triggers the prosecutor’s obligation to file the motion that allows the court to sentence under the guidelines-recommended sentence.

      Trading a plea on minor charges for cooperation is a foolish gambit that badly damages the prosecutor’s case. It suggests that the cooperator must not have disclosed details about the major scheme. Otherwise the prosecutor would have charged him with it. It implies that the prosecutor is so desperate to make a case on a major target that he gave bad actors a pass on serious charges — something experienced prosecutors know that juries hate.

      It is even worse to plead accomplices out on false-statements counts. This establishes that the main thing the jury should know about the accomplice is that he is not to be trusted. That is not how you make someone a strong witness. And unlike the accomplice who pleads guilty to the major scheme, an accomplice who pleads guilty to false statements is looking at a maximum sentence of just five years and a more likely sentence of no time even before he has cooperated — not much of an incentive to disclose everything and tell the truth. A good prosecutor does not front-load the benefits of cooperation; he makes the accomplice earn sentencing leniency by full disclosure and testimony.


      1. WJ

        Well of course that’s right. I do not mean to suggest that the official “DOJ policy” is other than you and McCarthy say it is. I am merely casting about for the prosecutorial rationale behind pleading out somebody like Flynn on such a contentless and nowhere-leading crime as lying to the FBI. I am not meaning to imply that the plea deal is a way of covering over or avoiding other worse “Russiagate” crimes (which there is still no reason to believe exist at all), but that it was a convenient way of limiting the already exorbitant scope Mueller’s investigation has taken on (who wants to open the can of worms that is Turkey? etc.) while still allowing Flynn to give him something at least: the name of the person/s who told him to undertake the perfectly legal conversations he undertook. Why he lied about any of this is for me the bizarre part of the whole affair.

      2. WJ

        Rereading McCarthy, I now see that the point of the process felony plea is to establish grounds for an obstruction charge against the President. I had not thought this strategy would play out for precisely the reasons McCarthy notes: it is non-prosecutable and could only be pursued via impeachment proceedings, which I had thought (and still think) unlikely given a Republican majority congress beholden in many ways (for the moment) to Trump. It is also dirty and manipulative on its face, as it more or less points to the FBI’s attempt to all but coerce the Trump administration into committing a felony (lying to the FBI about legal conversations with Russia) in order to be able to pursue foreign relations at all, and then taking advantage of this impossible political position to corner the administration into an obstruction charge.

        I suppose the point of the insistent vapid hyperbolic propaganda concerning the “truth” of Russian meddling has been to convince the public that any FBI “investigation” into this meddling is very very important, and hence that any “obstruction” of this investigation is very serious. The whole f-ing thing has been made up, of course, but (1) the DNC must be able to seem to oppose Trump without having to adopt the policies of Sanders; (2) the foreign policy of an elected President must not be allowed to veer too far from the recommendations of arms lobbyists, think tank fellows, and profiteering bureaucrats; and (3) the American people must not be allowed to remember the 2016 election as the moment when populist class consciousness began to break through the oligarchic white noise of corporate media and national parties, but as the election that “Russia stole.”

        1. Yves Smith

          I agree that the piece is peculiar in that it outlines a very cogent argument as to why the current Mueller line of investigation seems to be proving (if you know how to read the tea leaves) that “OMG Russia” angle is not panning out. But if obstruction of justice requires impeachment to go anywhere, that looks like a nothingburger too unless the Dems win the House in 2018. But they’d impeach Trump regardless.

      3. Vatch

        I learned something today! Being somewhat skeptical, I did a little searching, and I found this, which corroborates what’s in the McCarthy article:


        A. If a prosecution is to be concluded pursuant to a plea agreement, the defendant should be required to plead to a charge or charges:

        1. That is ordinarily the most serious readily provable charge consistent with the nature and extent of his/her criminal conduct;
        2. That has an adequate factual basis;
        3. That makes likely the imposition of an appropriate sentence and order of restitution, if appropriate, under all the circumstances of the case; and
        4. That does not adversely affect the investigation or prosecution of others.

      4. Kevin

        ” That is simply not how it works, strategically or legally. ”

        How long has it been since things worked “strategically or legally”…it’s been a loooong while.
        When it comes to our current administration = throw legality etc. out the window. it’s a free-for-all out there.

  7. Synoia

    Mysterious Illnesses Are Plaguing People In California After A Massive Gas Leak.

    Some Chemistry:
    There are two groups of organic molecules, aliphatic and aromatic.

    Aliphatic are carbon chains, Methane, Ethane, Ethanol and so on.
    Aromatic are Carbon ring, Benzene, Toluene, Naphthalene and so on.
    Us humans, and I believe all life, are composed of Aliphatic compounds, plus water and trace inorganic

    At an underground storage facility I’d expect the heavier hydrocarbons to condense out over time and build up underground. Under a sudden release of pressure, the condensed heavy hydrocarbon would evaporate, and mix with the escaping lighter gas.

    Aromatic hydrocarbons appear to ALWAYS carcinogenic.

    It would be best to test the surfaces, walls, floor and roof of the underground storage facility, to determines the source of these chemicals.

    In a gesture of goodwill, the CEO and senior executives of the Gas Company should collect these samples personally.

    1. Wukchumni

      “In a statement to BuzzFeed News, the Los Angeles Public Health Department said it would cost “in the range of $35-40 million” to conduct a “comprehensive, long-term health study” of the community — money the department doesn’t have.”

      The old throw a giant number at a problem you don’t want figured out, trick.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Ah yes, and was that announcement on display in the old bottom of a locked filing cabinet in the disused basement toilet, marked ‘Beware of the Leopard’? trick?

    2. UserFriendly

      That is an oversimplification. There are plenty of harmless compounds with an aromatic ring like Aspirin, or the amino acid Phenylalanine. There are plenty of Aliphatic compounds you don’t want to injest, methanol makes you blind and I sure wouldn’t recommend trying to ingest methane, or ethane even if they aren’t carcinogenic.

  8. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Senator Dick Durbin

    UPDATE: Senate Republicans are so desperate to pass their tax bill tonight that they’re now making handwritten changes to their already handwritten changes

    We have to encourage more handwriting…it’s an almost lost art.

    People used to write beautifully.

  9. Tim

    Sellers insist there should be enough trees for everyone but that prices will be higher….

    Incomplete sentence. Enough product for who? For those that have enough money to pay the higher prices. It’s a dishonest statement. Scarcity is taboo.

    Real estate is too expensive, not that there isn’t enough land in the desired location for all that would like to live there.

    Disneyland has more than enough room for everybody, all those people that can pay $150 a ticket, plus the airfare and hotel…)

    The earth has more than enough room for 50 Billion people, as long as the bottom 49 billion don’t mind a terrible, shortened life.

    Maybe that’s the ultimate reason scarcity is taboo. You’d have to question the west’s sacred strategy of eternal growth on a finite planet.

    Can’t do that.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Deep and abiding hatred?

      I think I experienced that when I bicycled through Hope, AR back in 1982. Despite the fact that the Local Boy Who Made Good was running for re-election as governor, his name wasn’t mentioned once. Instead, the big local news was about the farmer who grew a watermelon that made it into the Guinness Book of World Records.

      So, there you have it. Bill Clinton. His hometown. And he is upstaged by a watermelon.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Up the down escalator:

    Jamie Dimon, in September, said bitcoin is a “fraud” and will eventually blow up, while Warren Buffet [sic] told MarketWatch it’s a bubble waiting to burst.

    However Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne proposed a different take: “The real question is not how high can bitcoin go. The real question is how low can fiat currency go — and at the end of the day all fiat currencies have gone to zero and that’s because they end up with irresponsible money printing.”

    “You think [bitcoin’s] a bubble? What do you think that fiat currency you carry around in your purse is?” Byrne told Maria Bartiromo. “This dollar stuff, it’s just some fiat currency based on … the surplus taxing authority of the U.S. Treasury, of which I assert there is zero … It’s about time the world switches to real money. Either gold or bitcoin.”


    Rag-paper-and-keystroke currencies: an hybrid as unlikely as winged pigs.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Assertions by decree, by fiat, are in a similar situation.

      Irresponsible assertive claims destroy themselves and their values, that eventually they are worthless.

      The question when it comes to Bitcoin is not whether it will go higher or lower, but whether it will be banned, like in China.

    2. JohnnyGL

      It appears there are not so many “moderates” on bitcoin, no? :)

      We’ve gotten to the point where we have bitcoin jihadis that chant “DEATH TO FIAT CURRENCIES!!!” and bitcoin boosters that sound like they’ve been cut-and-pasted from 1999’s ‘new economy’ playbook.

  11. Tim

    “Facebook says it’s going to great lengths to make sure the app does not come off as exploitative.”

    When they could have said “Facebook says it’s going to great lengths to make sure the app is not exploitative.” that tells you everything you need to know.

  12. Summer

    Awkward: @SenatorDurbin attacking GOP for making handwritten changes to the #TaxBill, when he literally authored a handwritten amendment to Dodd-Frank. pic.twitter.com/aKP3hWwjNR

    Anybody check this bill for an official return of debtors prisons?

  13. geoff

    “If you don’t know about the Haslam family, you should. They are billionaires and they run the Tennessee athletic department like a feudal kingdom.”

    Given that Bill Haslam is the current Governor of Tennessee, I think you could safely say they run the whole state.

  14. Jfree

    And that’s precisely the problem. The most important and closely watched election in the nation is taking place in the equivalent of a polling black box.

    That’s not a problem at all. We put the secret ballot in place to reduce manipulation of elections. And then we started polling people as to their opinions so they could be manipulated again.

    The problem is that people feel compelled to tell the truth about how they are going to vote – and that stupid lizard-brain instinct is aggravated by binary choices put before us. Please people – start lying or spouting random gibberish to pollsters. You owe them nothing.

    1. Summer

      “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
      –Dr. Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs (movie version)

      1. Romancing The Loan

        In the book it was a “big Amarone,” which I feel is a superior wine but is quite difficult to find for under $50/bottle. Nonetheless it’s worth trying if you have the opportunity!

    2. IowanX

      Jfree-Absolutely right! When I lived in Iowa City in ’84 we’d get calls from pollsters all the damn time, until my roomie gave me the best advice–Tell them you’re voting for Jackson, and they’ll hang up.

  15. Jean

    “The Politics of Sexual Harassment”

    Unintended consequences Department
    Overheard conversation in elevator, (not at work)

    “You know, it might be wiser for us to hire only males…”

  16. JohnnyGL

    If you can keep from clawing your eyeballs out….here’s an amusing part (well, the whole thing is amusing) of Tom Friedman’s interview in Slate….he kind of slips in how the Saudis were responsible for 9/11. Just saying, if the moustache of understanding knows it’s true….


    “What happened, Isaac, basically, was that Islam took an incredible right turn after 1979. What the Saudis projected onto the world of Islam—from Morocco, to London, to India, to Indonesia—really recast the center of gravity in Islam. It had a huge and I would argue incredibly negative effect on women’s rights, on Islam’s embrace of modernity, on Islam’s embrace of pluralism. It ended up with 9/11 as the darkest end point of that journey. I really blame the Saudi regime for 9/11. You unleashed this force onto the world.”

    1. Lee

      “It ended up with 9/11 as the darkest end point of that journey. I really blame the Saudi regime for 9/11. You unleashed this force onto the world.”

      911 the darkest endpoint of that journey? Not if you live in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, the list could go on. And we in the US are far from out of the dark woods ourselves.

  17. meeps

    >Nobody Wants To See Your Dick

    THIS is the kind of clear-eyed, deeply penetrating analysis I’d like to see more of! Thank you. :D

    1. ewmayer

      @meeps: Indeed – I was dreading yet another turgid entry in the current sex-hysteria-hand-wringing journalistic genre lacking any kind of coherent thrust, but this piece was nicely meaty without being awkwardly overlong.

  18. DWD


    Just have one question: How much did Bernie charge admission to the three events you referenced above?

    (I am pretty sure I know so this is not anything more than a logical game to progress to who would charge to an event?

      1. DWD

        If that was a game, it was a simple one.

        I was thinking of the article I read about HC in Ann Arbor.

        ANN ARBOR, MI – Tickets to see Hillary Clinton speak at the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium on Oct. 24 are now on sale via Ticketmaster, with front-row seats going for nearly $600.

        The pre-sale is happening now, with the public sale set to begin at 10 a.m. Sept. 18.
        VIP ticket packages are being offered for anywhere from $372 to $597, with the most pricey ticket including a front-row seat with a souvenir laminate, a signed first-edition copy of Clinton’s new book and a pre-event photo op and formal meet and greet.


    1. WJ

      Bernie unfairly cheats by acting like a public official and not a private-access super-lobbyist. If Bernie had to give as many six-figure dollar talks to Wall Street and host as many $10,000 plate dinners as Hillary has, then nobody would be showing up at his events either. Enough of these misogynist Bernie Bro double-standards!!

  19. TarheelDem

    If John Deane’s crime is all that Sen. Sam Ervin has…..

    No, Flynn’s plea has to get on the record to let the other players know enough about what Mueller knows to provoke some plea dealing.

    This thing has barely gotten started. Just look who’s left on the menu of main courses.

    How will Jared Kushner deal? Will he be a G. Gordon Liddy and go to jail? Or will he attempt a limited hangout? With Flynn around, how limited can it be?

    How about some of those recognized in the documents but not publicly interviewed elsewhere?

    1. barefoot charley

      Mueller had transcripts of every call he asked Flynn to tell him about, so 1) he had no need to ask, except 2) to get him guilty of something.

      Corporations can buy or lie to the gummint, but even lofty politician natural persons in gummint crosshairs can be locked up for 5 years for withholding information. Too bad that doesn’t apply to unnatural persons too.

    2. Filiform Radical

      The Watergate comparison is a false one. In that case, there was clear criminal activity from the get-go and the investigation was to determine who all was complicit. In this case, the investigation came first and is still desperately searching for a crime to pin on Trump and his associates.

      Respectfully, I would suggest that those who believe the Flynn kerfuffle heralds yuuge revelations to come are engaging in wishful thinking. You’ve suggested that Flynn’s plea deal is intended to “let the other players know enough about what Mueller knows to provoke some plea dealing”. From where I’m sitting, nothing about the plea deal indicates that Mueller has anything on anyone, and all it “gets on the record” is that Flynn committed some process crimes.

      Besides, if Mueller had evidence enough to get someone else to plead guilty to something of actual import anyway, and this is just some form of signalling to that effect, why not negotiate that deal in the first place and cut out the middleman? And if it’s because he needs evidence from Flynn to have enough to bring Kushner or whomever into the fold, why isn’t that evidence being put on the record by way of Flynn pleading guilty to the scheme?

      I will be very, very surprised if anything of substance comes from this.

  20. Darius

    If Democrats were as ruthless in 2009 as Republicans are in 2017, they would have been d@&$#% sure to have an agenda going in. Something more than “bipartisan!”, which amounts to, “You tell us what you want and we’ll meet you halfway.”

  21. Summer

    “Robots Are Coming for Jobs of as Many as 800 Million Worldwide” [Bloomberg]. When you read “robot,” think “slave.”

    Big Data needs your cooperation.

  22. JTMcPhee

    Speaking of handwritten changes to moving legislation, might I point to this recent piece in New York MAgazine? It appears that McConnell cut off his own #### in the haste to get the bill anointed by a “majority,” in that his hand-written inserts kill off (if they survive conference) the BUSINESS loophole of the BUSINESS “alternative minimum tax,” one of the many and even principal ways BUSINESSES get away with paying even less tax than the nominal former 35% marginal rate. http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/12/senate-gop-accidentally-killed-all-corporate-tax-deductions.html Sets the AMT rate at the same as the 20% corporate rate in the bill, thus cutting off a significant means of running the corporate tax bill down way below even the pittance they are nominally supposed to pay under existing law.

    A tiny bit of black humor in an otherwise horrid exercise by “The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body.” I notice you don’t see members of Congress even hinting at making that claim any more.
    What did Geoffrey Dahmer say to Lorena Babbitt? “You gonna eat that?”

  23. JBird

    Student. Lunch. Debt.

    Admittedly, as a child I was on the free lunch and breakfast program, and have had the joy of using food banks and being a blessed lucky ducky with food stamps (a whole fabulous 180 and less a month!) so maybe I should not say that those words in this country being said for children is f@@@ing evil. Denying, or pointing out, in anyway a child’s poverty and hunger is wrong, and to read people who are so soulless that their actions, arguments, and comments, justify this disgusting thing makes me want to just give into despair.

    Feeding our children is more important than just about anything else.

    Goddamn it. We are supposed to be better than this! But what do I known?

    1. Utah

      The school lunch program was started after WWII because, from what I understand, there was a huge number of men who weren’t fit enough to be soldiers because of the great depression.
      I am also a child of free school lunch- and I am so grateful I had that program because I didn’t ever eat breakfast, unless at school, and I didn’t eat healthy dinners, either. Luckily most kids I went to school with were on the free lunch program, so nobody felt any shame about it.
      I think all children should get free lunch at school. It should just be part of school. Then nobody is outcast for being poor. And everybody eats.

      1. JBird

        Fortunately my family always found the means (somehow, someway) to keep us all fed. I’m sure they were relieved with the school meals, although there’s no way I will ever look at another fish stick ever again.

        My question is when did charging for lunches and especially who, why and when starting taking away food from children? Most people if they are any parent at all, if they have the money, will pay to feed their children. So what is the reason for this?

  24. marym

    Proposed rule would protect employers who steal workers’ hard-earned tips

    Today the Trump administration took their first major step towards allowing employers to legally take tips earned by the workers they employ. The Department of Labor released a proposed rule rescinding portions of its tip regulations, including current restrictions on “tip pooling”—which would mean that, for example, restaurants would be able to pool the tips servers receive and share them with untipped employees such as cooks and dishwashers. But, crucially, the rule doesn’t actually require that employers distribute pooled tips to workers. Under the administration’s proposed rule, as long as the tipped workers earn minimum wage, the employer can legally pocket those tips.

    1. JBird

      I have gotten into a couple of debates with Randians recently who refused to believe that many tipped employees make less than the minimum wage, or at least the hourly paid rate is less than everyone else’s. It’s been the law since the national minimum wage was established, it easy to find in the online published regulations, and the mainstream, and not so mainstream (FFS, Reason magazine has done so), news organizations occasionally write stories and do interviews, but It’s implied that I’m a liar, tool, fool, or an idiot. What does one do then?

      I can’t wait to see their mental, and verbal, gyrations to make this not news.

  25. D

    Re Mysterious Illnesses Are Plaguing People In California After A Massive Gas Leak

    (Note: it’s a Buzzfeed article, not a Guardian article.)

    Interesting, though not surprising, that no mention of Governor Brown, or his sister, is made in that piece – outside of him finally (just short of two month later, on December 18th, 2015) declaring a state of emergency. And, despite the fact that the following December 2015 piece regarding Governor Jerry Brown and the Aliso Canyon methane leak was also published by Buzzfeed – by the same Buzzfeed author, Jim Dalrymple II – it does not even show up in the related article links:

    12/20/15 By Jim Dalrymple II Tons Of Methane Are Spewing Out Of California, And There’s A Connection To The Governor – The out of control leak has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes. Gov. Brown’s sister is a paid board member at the company that owns the well.

    LOS ANGELES — A massive gas leak that has spewed billions of pounds of methane into the air in a northern Los Angeles neighborhood, prompting a state of emergency from local officials, has a surprising connection to Governor Jerry Brown.

    The natural gas leak, which has forced thousands of residents to flee their homes in the Porter Ranch neighborhood of L.A.’s San Fernando Valley, is spewing 100,000 pounds of methane into the air per hour. That’s a quarter of all of California’s methane emissions, which are greenhouse gases.

    The leak was discovered in October, prompting hundreds of complaints, resident relocations, school closures, lawsuits, flight restrictions, and a condemnation from star lawyer Erin Brockovich — and shows no sign of stopping.

    The methane is coming from a ruptured pipe at a storage facility owned by Southern California Gas Co., which in turn is owned by San Diego-based Sempra Energy.

    Gov. Brown has a number of connections to Sempra. His sister, Kathleen Brown, sits on Sempra’s board of directors. She joined the company in 2013, reportedly receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and equity. She also holds $400,000 in stock and last year received a $188,380 salary, the Associated Press reported.

    Non-profit watchdog group Public Accountability Initiative first called attention to Kathleen Brown’s role at Sempra, and the governor’s connections to the company, this week. Kathleen Brown did not respond to a BuzzFeed News request for comment Friday.

    But Gov. Brown’s connection to Sempra goes even deeper. Campaign finance records show that Brown has received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Sempra and Sempra employees going back to at least 2006.

    Brown also appointed two high-ranking Sempra representatives to a 2014 trade mission to Mexico.

    In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Sempra said it has “outside, independent board members and we see no conflict.”

    For many governors, maintaining a relationship with a prominent energy company might not raise eyebrows.

    Brown, however, is different. The Golden State governor spent the year touting his green credentials and has specifically singled out methane — the gas leaking near Porter Ranch — as a greenhouse emission he wants to cut. Earlier this month he also was a star attendee at the Paris climate conference — a global gathering that explicitly aimed to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

    Brown traveled to the climate conference as the head of a delegation of state leaders who were sharing information on programs such as cap and trade. The trip was paid for by a non-profit group called Climate Action Reserve.


    A recent piece regarding Aliso Canyon and the Browns’ malfeasance:

    08/02/17 Governor Jerry Brown’s Million Dollar Conflict of Interest at Aliso Canyon

    To the shock of many, California state regulators recently deemed the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility safe to reopen — the same facility that experienced a massive methane blow out in 2015-2016 that carried with it devastating health, economic, and environmental impacts.

    In allowing the facility to re-open, state regulators have effectively chosen to prioritize the interests and profits of the company behind the methane leak – Southern California Gas, which is owned by San Diego-based Sempra Energy – over the interests of residents in communities surrounding the facility and the public interest writ large.

    The decision raises fresh concerns about the state’s close relationship with the company.

    Specifically, Governor Jerry Brown’s sister, Kathleen Brown, is a highly-compensated board member of Sempra Energy – a significant conflict of interest that the governor’s office has apparently taken no steps to manage.

    In 2015, when PAI released a report on this issue, Kathleen Brown’s total compensation from the company stood at $456,245 from 2013-2014. Since then, her compensation from the company over the course of her tenure has increased to over $1.1 million in the form of cash, stock, and other benefits.

    Since the leak, the governor and his staff have dismissed any concerns about this million dollar conflict as off-base, while taking no steps to provide a legal rationale or manage the conflict.


    There are also pieces at the Consumer Watchdog site worth reading on the subject.

  26. Stuart Weir

    on “The Politics of Sexual Harassment:”

    This is fun: the full 1981 issue of Radical America (pdf link in article) opens with a poem by Ann Newman entitled “Let’s Make America Great Again.”

  27. EGrise

    I used to enjoy reading Umair Haque, but since he put his stuff behind Medium’s paywall I have to admit I’ve dropped him. In fact, I’ve stopped reading Medium entirely. I get that they want to make money, but since when have paywalls been a way to do that?

    But now that I go and read the linked article (I apparently get three free each month, hooray!) I realize that I’m not really missing all that much.

  28. edmondo

    Can someone explain to me why Bernie Sanders thinks he needs the Democratic Party? It seems to me, the reverse is way more true.

    Unless, it’s to sheep-herd us into voting for Kamala Harris after they anoint her Hillary II.

    1. Lord Koos

      Its difficult to get on the ballot in all 50 states if you’re not in one of the major parties, at least that’s the excuse I most often hear when people talk about third parties. Personally, I think that the time has never been more ripe to blow up the two-party system.

      1. edmondo

        And yet Ross Perot did it – twice! So did John Anderson (RIP) in 1980.

        If you think gathering signatures is an exciting and effective organizing tactic, knock yourself out.
        If you think voting for corporatist Dems is effective strategy to moving left, you knock yourself out.

  29. allan

    Companies Push to Repeal AMT After Senate’s Last-Minute Move to Keep It Alive [WSJ]

    Technology, banking and other industries mounted a new round of lobbying Monday to save a wide range of tax breaks following the last-minute switch in the federal tax overhaul by the U.S. Senate.

    The Senate on Saturday decided to keep a corporate alternative minimum tax, or AMT, a move that gave the senators $40 billion over a decade to use on other priorities, according to the official estimate.

    The move blindsided CEOs and business groups, who acted quickly on Monday to try to persuade legislators to kill or modify the provision …

    The U.S. House’s tax-overhaul bill, passed Nov. 16, would eliminate the corporate AMT. Earlier drafts of the Senate bill would have as well, but changes to the version adopted in the early hours of Saturday morning preserved it. …

    The corporate AMT’s effects are also worrying banks that hold municipal bonds, said Neil Barr, head of the tax department at Davis, Polk & Wardwell LLP in New York. The interest on that debt, normally tax-free, would effectively become taxable. …

    Shades of “We had to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.”
    Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi – separated at birth?

    The good news is that any losses will be booked in 2018, allowing for a healthy bonus season on Wall Street.

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