2:00PM Water Cooler 1/12/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“To millennials who think they have it tough: ‘Give me a break,’ Biden says” (video) [Los Angeles Times].

Oprah Boomlet

“Oprah 2020: Do we need another glitzy amateur in office?” [USA Today]. “If being a watchable TV personality selling fantasy qualifies one to be president, we might as well prepare ourselves for the Kardashian dynasty.”


“Had GOP primary voters not nominated such exotic candidates over the past eight years, they might well be sitting on a 57-seat Senate majority rather than the 51 seats they have today” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Democrats, meanwhile, could take a break from their schadenfreude and glance over at the GOP, wondering if the past decade’s developments on the opposing side could occur in their own party…. The contempt for Trump that has developed among liberals and Democrats resembles what happened in the GOP toward Obama. We could see a radicalization of a large element of the Democratic Party and a destabilization of a party establishment that already had been weakened—witness the Bernie Sanders challenge to Hillary Clinton in 2016. It is not implausible to see Democrats nominating their own exotic candidates, people who would appeal to the angry liberal base of the party but be less-than-optimal general-election candidates for Congress or even the presidency…. As some Democrats have visions of impeachment, invocation of the 25th Amendment, or passing single-payer health care dancing in their heads, they ought to be thinking about how not to make this election about them. Democrats ought to be projecting an image of a responsible party that would be an effective check on an erratic and unpopular president.” As opposed to a governing party, then?

“[W]hen a party wins independent voters by double digits that party has gone on to make significant House gains. For example, in 2006, Democrats carried independent voters by 18 points (57 percent to 39 percent) and gained 30 House seats. In 2010, Republicans took independents by 19 points (56 percent to 37 percent) and picked up a whopping 63 seats” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “Right now, Democrats have a double-digit lead on the generic ballot with independent voters. Polling taken at the end of 2017 found Democrats with leads ranging from 11 to 17 points among this group… So, over these next few months, pay close to attention to independent voters. How they move – or if they do – will tell us more about who will control Congress than simply watching the ebb and flow of GOP or Democratic enthusiasm.”

Arizona Senate: “Can Democrats Turn Arizona Blue?” [RealClearPolitics]. “Arizona may be ground zero for the battle within the Republican Party this year, with a three-way GOP primary to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake pitting controversial hard-liners against establishment forces aiming to halt the momentum of party outsiders…. [Democrat] hopes likely fall to Kyrsten Sinema, the three-term congresswoman from Tucson who was the party’s prized recruit of the election cycle…. [N]ot everyone is entirely sold. In particular, some progressives are wary of Sinema’s moderate, blue-dog background, unsure if they’d have a reliable ally in the Senate. Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona congressman who co-chairs the progressive caucus, has not yet endorsed her campaign, and she has also not won over some of the grassroots organizations that popped up last year to oppose Trump.” Arizona readers?

Maryland Governor: “The Most Important Election of 2018 Might Be Happening in Maryland” [Mother Jones]. “Jealous approaches this moment of reckoning from a different direction than many of his Democratic peers, one that almost sounds like optimism. Even after their strong showing in November, Democrats face steep odds of breaking Republicans’ grip on Congress, but Jealous’ race is emblematic of an opportunity outside Washington: In 2018, 13 states that Barack Obama carried twice have Republican governors who are retiring or up for reelection. Winning governors’ mansions, Jealous says, is ‘the only way to move our families forward.'” Of course, as 2016 made clear, Democrats don’t necessarily own Obama voters.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Apply to be a panelist at the Medicare for All Town Hall” [Bernie Sanders]. “Have you lived abroad and seen firsthand what universal health care looks like? Apply to be a panelist at the Medicare for All Town Hall in Washington on Jan. 23.”

“There’s a serious proposal to give babies born in the United States $20,000 (or more)” [WaPo]. “The whole point of Baby Bonds would be to dramatically lessen wealth inequality in the United States, according to the economists who came up with the idea, Darrick Hamilton of the New School and William Darity of Duke University.”

“Paul Krugman got the working class wrong. That had consequences” [Thomas Frank, Guardian]. “We have just come through an election in which underestimating working-class conservatism in northern states proved catastrophic for Democrats. Did the pundits’ repeated insistence that white working-class voters in the north were reliable Democrats play any part in this underestimation? Did the message Krugman and his colleagues hammered home for years help to distract their followers from the basic strategy of Trumpism? I ask because getting that point wrong was kind of a big deal in 2016. It was a blunder from which it will take the Democratic party years to recover. And we need to get to the bottom of it.” The liberal Democrat “they have no place to go” strategy worked. Until it didn’t (in just a key districts in just a few key states).

“I Started the Media Men List My name is Moira Donegan” [The Cut]. “I took the spreadsheet offline after about 12 hours.” I got the demographic right (the author is an editor at The New Republic), but if the article it to be believed — I do — I got the institutional aspect wrong; no list-driven cabal here, but the more organic workings of a class tendency, not even a faction. For once, I was too cynical! (Googling Donegan, I found this remembered article, “Outside Trump Tower, in the LRB).

“The document itself, crowdsourced and unvetted—an organic whisper network transformed, cell by cell, into a piece of media—was ad-hoc. It was messy. It was, in some of the worst ways, limited, and exclusive, and excluding. As Jenna Wortham, writing for The New York Times Magazine, put it: ‘The list was F.T.B.T.—for them, by them—meaning, by white women about their experiences with the white men who made up a majority of the names on it'” [The Atlantic]. “This failure, too, is part of Donegan’s own reckoning.” Of course, NC knows all about being crowd-sourced into documents produced by shadowy figures. So forgive my cynicism, please. And speaking of Google docs—

“Petition for Accountability for DSA’s Medicare for All Campaign” [Google Docs]. Oof.

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, December 2017: “Housing and medical care costs, which together make more than half of the CPI, firmed and fed a constructive 0.3 percent rise in the ex-food and ex-energy core rate for December” [Econoday]. “This report is mixed but the core is definitely going in the right direction. When some of the wage hikes that are being announced at companies like Wal-Mart begin to kick in, the nation’s inflation numbers could begin to improve.” And: “On a monthly basis, median CPI was at 3.5% annualized, trimmed-mean CPI was at 2.8% annualized, and core CPI was at 3.4% annualized. Using these measures, inflation picked up a little year-over-year in December. Overall, these measures are close, but still mostly below, the Fed’s 2% target (Median CPI is slightly above)” [Calculated Risk]. But: “The three month rolling averages of the unadjusted data marginally declined” [Econintersect]. “Our analysis says this month’s growth was near average for the growth seen in the last 12 months. The relationship between year-over-year growth in inflation adjusted retail sales and retail employment do not correlate.”

Retail Sales, December 2017: “It was a very good holiday shopping season but perhaps not a great one. Retail sales rose a solid 0.4 percent in December which is just shy of Econoday’s consensus” [Econoday]. “The consumer was alive during the holidays but not unrestrained. Likely gains underway in wages along with the enormous strength in confidence and in the labor market are positives going into the 2018 economy.”

Business Inventories, November 2017: “Inventories are rising but are not keeping pace with sales in what is very good news for the economy but not such good news for fourth-quarter GDP” [Econoday]. “Sales surged 1.2 percent in November and follow October’s 0.8 percent rise. These are very strong numbers that aren’t being matched by inventories which is reflected in the inventory-to-sales ratio which is down a notch to 1.33. This is very lean and points to the need for restocking, and restocking in turn points to the need for production increases and hiring. This is a very positive setup going into 2018.”

Commodities: “Global miner Rio Tinto (ASX, LON:RIO) is said to have ditched plans to own a stake in Chile’s Chemical and Mining Society (SQM), the world’s largest lithium producer, due to a mix of tricky politics and the fact that such miner is currently the target of several claims” [Mining.com]. “Chilean authorities accuse SQM of underpaying royalties, environmental violations and illicit political financing, which have made the sale process complex, raising at the same time the specter of delays or a steep price discount, local paper Diario Financiero reports (in Spanish).”

Retail: “[Walmart is closing 63 of its Sam’s Club sites around the U.S. over the next few weeks…. and will covert about a dozen of the facilities into e-commerce fulfillment centers” [Wall Street Journal]. “The retailer is facing growing competition for low-wage workers in a tight labor market and likely expecting a windfall from the new tax law that will add billions to retailer profits. The moves at Sam’s Club are part of a bigger shift in the company’s underlying business. Wal-Mart’s overall online sales rose 50% in its most recent quarter, and the company’s big focus is getting more of those goods delivered to customers cheaper and faster.”

Manufacturing: “Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV is joining the push toward more automotive production in the U.S. The company will invest $1 billion to move production of profitable pickup trucks from Mexico to Michigan” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “Don’t Worry, Petrolheads. Driverless Cars Are Still Years Away” [Bloomberg]. A report from CES: “Truly driverless vehicles are years away, executives from auto giants Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co., mega supplier Robert Bosch GmbH and ride-hailing service Lyft Inc. said this week. While each of those companies showed off the progress they’re making in the form of concept models or Las Vegas test drives, they’re quick to admit that plenty of major hurdles remain. ‘It’s a mistake to say that the finish line is coming up very soon,’ said Gill Pratt, chief executive officer of Toyota Research Institute, the carmaker’s $1 billion unit working on artificial intelligence and robotics. ‘Things are changing rapidly, but this will be a long journey.’… “You’re going to need human drivers for a very long time,” [Raj Kapoor, Lyft’s chief strategy officer] said. ‘In the next 10 years there will be more drivers than there are today, because the demand for our service is growing so much, and only so many AVs are coming on line.'”

The Bezzle: “Uber Looks Great When the Police Barge In” [Bloomberg]. “Uber explicitly built a system to counter police raids… Everyone knows that if the police raid your offices it’s best if they can’t just look at all your sensitive documents. Other companies have crude haphazard innocent-looking procedures that happen to keep the cops from looking at those documents. Uber built a whole system and gave it a swaggering name [(Ripley, as in “Nuke the entire site from orbit”)]. It takes the procedure just one step further, but what a step.”

The Bezzle: “PwC barred from issuing audit opinions in India for two years” [MarketWatch]. “Ramalinga Raju, Satyam’s founder and major shareholder, admitted he had manipulated the results, including faking more than $1 billion in cash on the company’s balance sheet. In his unexpected resignation letter delivered to the board of directors of the company, Raju said that keeping up with the fraud was like ‘riding a tiger, not knowing how to get off without being eaten.’… The audit firm and its partners were accused of signing off on Satyam’s financial statements, issuing clean audit opinions, despite the fact that the company’s monthly bank statements didn’t match with the company’s daily bank statements and they had accepted confirmations of the balances form company executives instead of the bank itself, as the auditing standards require.”

The Bezzle: “Goldman Sachs Exec Says Concerns Growing that Compliance Officers Are Being Unfairly Targeted by Law Enforcement” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. “Goldman Sachs executive Court Golumbic is raising the red flag. Golumbic says a string of recent enforcement actions targeting financial sector compliance officers is ‘fueling concerns that they are being unfairly targeted.’ … Golumbic says that law enforcement officials have responded to these concerns of unfair targeting by stressing that ‘in the rare instances in which financial sector compliance officers have been held personally accountable, the majority had engaged in affirmative misconduct.'”

The Bezzle: “Facebook and Google’s Dirty Secret: They’re Really Junk Mail Empires” [Daily Beast]. “Underneath their moon shots and free services, the duopoloy’s core revenue stream is quite simply the targeted junk mail business of the ’90s reinvented and turbocharged for the 21st century. Google and Facebook clearly state in their SEC filings that their businesses are primarily funded by cost-effective, highly targeted advertising, and changes to data ownership policies are a significant risk to this business.” I don’t see why I don’t own my personal data, all of it. Google and Facebook should give me royalties for it. And reparations, if we want to be hard-nosed about it. This article is well worth a read, since it also focuses on antitrust policy.

The Bezzle: “One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent.” [Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook]. “[W]e’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.” No. No. No. No. No.

The Bezzle: “When I jokingly tweeted about ‘investing in Dogecoin’ in late 2013, I never imagined that the tongue-in-cheek cryptocurrency I had just brought into the world would still be around in the year 2018, let alone hit a $2 billion market cap like it just did over the weekend” [Vice]. And: “At the time of writing, it costs an average of $30 to send any amount of money using the Bitcoin network. At the same time, a token that touts itself as “the blockchain solution for the global dental industry” has just surpassed a $1 billion market cap. Something isn’t right here.

Tech: “Male sex robots with unstoppable bionic p*nises are coming this year” [Metro UK]. “David Levy, author of Love and Sex With Robots, says, ‘I’m sure women will find robots equally appealing as men.'”

Mr. Market: “ROSENBERG: The excesses in markets are practically unlike anything we’ve ever seen” (charts) [Business Insider]. “The question is how can this possibly be viewed as the most hated rally of all time when US household exposure to equities has rarely been as high as it is currently. And the thought is merely a piece of advice to heed Bob Farrell’s rule #4 – exponentially rising markets usually go further than you think, but they do not correct by going sideways.”

Honey for the Bears: “Economist James K. Galbraith isn’t celebrating Dow 25,000” [MarketWatch]. “I think there are really major changes in the structure of the economy going forward. The share of business investment has been quite low, share of construction has been very low, and that means the economy is being driven increasingly by the consumer. The consumer is dependent upon the access to debt, auto loans, consumer loans and student loans. Those things will build up over time until such time as there is a crack and households decide that they no longer wish to access the credit — at which point this phase of the expansion will end.”

Honey for the Bears: “There is a widening gap between consumer sentiment and the savings rate. In the past, this was a precursor to the end of an economic cycle” [Mosler Economics]. Handy chart:

A cloud no bigger than a man’s hand…

Five Horsemen: “Amazon blows the top off our chart for the third time in a week, as stocks warp on into the ionosphere” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jan 12 2018

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 75 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jan 12 at 11:44am. Finally, we kick over into Extreme Greed!

Crapification Watch

“Intel details performance hit for Meltdown fix on affected processors” [Tech Crunch]. “The most recent Kaby Lake processors, introduced late last year, generally see less than 5 percent performance loss in SYSmark14SE, and often none at all. (The margin of error is stated at +/- 3 percent.)” But from the user perspective, what’s hidden inside that average?

But the biggest hit for those CPUs, and in fact most of the others as well, is on “responsiveness,” which according to the benchmark app’s creators includes “application launches, file launches, web browsing with multiple tabs, multi-tasking, file copying, photo manipulation, file encryption + compression, and background application installation.” So, pretty much all the stuff most people need to do.

Oh good. A whole lot of new mini-taxes on time.

Hold my beer:

The 420

“First Nations entrepreneurs are asserting sovereignty and seizing the new cannabis economy” [CBC]. “Many currently involved in the First Nation cannabis trade see the opening moves by authorities as a replay of the beginning stages of what turned into a decades-long battle between government and First Nations over the tobacco trade.”


“US Senators from a dozen coastal states call for offshore drilling waiver” [Splash 247]. After Interior Secretary Zinke grants Florida a waiver for offshore drilling: “A total of 22 senators from 12 states signed a letter claiming their states, too, had ‘vibrant coastal economies’ that could be put at risk by the increased drilling promoted by DOI for the next five years. The letter’s signatories were not only from east coast states but included Pacific ones, too…. Meanwhile energy industry spokespeople objected to the exemption on the grounds of it happening at all.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“[Society of Actuaries] finds slight dip in mortality rates overall” [Pensions & Investments]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data: “Overall, the mortality rate from all causes of death in the U.S. decreased by 0.6% in 2016 from the previous year. That follows a 1.2% increase in 2015. Over the most recent five-year period, mortality rates in the U.S. declined by an average of 0.3%. Persons between 15 and 44 experienced increases in mortality, with the sharpest increase — 10.5% — showing for those ages 25 to 34. The largest rate of improvement, 2.3%, over the previous year was for people ages 75 to 84.”

Health Care

“Single Payer Could Solve the Rural Hospital Crisis” [Jacobin]. This:

Rural hospitals have been struggling for years, largely due to changing demographics in rural areas. Right now, the most powerful predictor of closure is profitability, which is partially a function of the characteristics of the community a hospital serves. As the American populace has shifted to urban areas, the populations that remain in rural areas have gotten older, poorer, sicker, and less likely to be insured. In other words, providing their care is more costly. Rural hospitals have been dealing with the financial strain caused by these changing demographics for well over a decade.

But when the Affordable Care Act became law, the rate of rural hospital closures increased dramatically. One reason for this is that the ACA began penalizing hospitals with high readmission rates, a metric that represents the number of patients who return to the hospital after discharge. This was intended to push hospitals toward providing higher-quality care and is in line with an admirable trend in American health care toward value-based payments. But it is also an aspect of the law that disproportionately impacts hospitals that see a higher proportion of sicker patients, as rural hospitals do.

In addition, the ACA shifted money from providing reimbursements for rural hospitals to covering the cost of insuring people via the Medicaid expansion.

Class Warfare

“The Marriott Family’s Civil War” [Washingtonian]. One reason for highly progressive taxation is, paradoxically, to protect the children of the wealthy, who are often very unhappy.

“What the Culture Wars Did to Norma McCorvey” [Moira Donegan, The New Republic]. McCorvey was “Roe” in “Roe v. Wade.” This is from February, but I thought I’d run it because Donegan outed herself as the author of “the list.” Well worth a read.

“Why Baltimore Doesn’t Heat Its Schools” [Jacobin]. “Since political officials, city planners, and economic elites began developing Baltimore’s Inner Harbor in the 1970s — kicking off the modern wave of downtown tourist development — at least $3.7 billion in public money (in the form of direct subsidies, tax write-offs, PILOTS or payments in lieu of taxes, and TIFs or tax increment financing) has been used for downtown development….. In each of these cases, supporters argued that the public would reap the benefits through job growth and consumer spending. Rarely (if ever) did these trickle-down effects appear. Baltimore schoolchildren in particular suffered (or will suffer) in three main ways. First, money that went to these projects could not, by definition, go to Baltimore schools. Second, it may decrease state aid to Baltimore schools because the new developments (which pay little to no taxes) are now worth millions. Third, we know that poor funding is one of the drivers of the ‘school to prison pipeline.'”

News of the Wired

“Congress prepares to knock down barriers to broadband expansion in rural America” [USA Today]. “The main obstacle to broadband expansion into rural areas is cost, said Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle, the top Democrat on the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee. ‘It would require tens of billions of dollars to bring broadband to unserved and underserved parts of the country,’ he said. ‘The private sector hasn’t done it because they know they wouldn’t make a profit on it.’ Any rural broadband initiative without substantial new funding ‘would be nothing more than window dressing,’ Doyle said.”

“A new study out of Harvard once again makes it clear why incumbent ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are so terrified by the idea of communities building their own broadband networks” [Vice]. “According to the new study by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, community-owned broadband networks provide consumers with significantly lower rates than their private-sector counterparts.”

“Improving Ourselves to Death” [The New Yorker]. “If the ideal of the optimized self isn’t simply a fad, or even a preference, but an economic necessity, how can any of us choose to live otherwise? [British journalist Will Storr] insists that there is a way. ‘This isn’t a message of hopelessness,’ he writes. “On the contrary, what it actually leads us towards is a better way of finding happiness. Once you realize that it’s all just an act of coercion, that it’s your culture trying to turn you into someone you can’t really be, you can begin to free yourself from your demands.'”

“How to Think Like a Medieval Monk” [Lapham’s Quarterly]. “When they practiced inducing emotions through meditation, the monks were in fact drawing on the brain’s property of neuroplasticity—its ability to learn, adapt, and change itself based on its environment. Although doubtless they would have other philosophical disagreements, a medieval Cistercian and a modern neuroscientist would agree on the principle that certain feelings and emotions can be changed through meditative exercises.”

“‘Bat-nav’ reveals how the brain tracks other animals” [Nature]. “In a study published in Science on 11 January, neuroscientists in Israel pinpoint individual brain cells that seem specialized to track other animals or objects. These cells occur in the same region of the brain — the hippocampus — as cells that are known to map a bat’s own location. In a second paper, scientists in Japan report finding similar brain activity when rats watched other rats moving. The unexpected findings deepen insight into the mammalian brain’s complex navigation system. Bats and rats are social animals that, like people, need to know the locations of other members of their group so that they can interact, learn from each other and move around together.”

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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 (timotheus):

Timotheus writes: “This is a South American evergreens of the Puya family. Chagual is the local name for them in Chile, and apparently parts of the plant are edible though I never was served any to my knowledge in my years there. This isn’t my picture, but some Chilean friends put it up on Facebook a while back, and I thought it was weirdly cool. The landscape in the far south is very inhospitable (wet, windy, cold, dark), so it makes sense that the plant life would have evolved in unique ways.”

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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. Mo's Bike Shop

      Didn’t read, why not give every Merickan a $100,000 life insurance policy they can borrow against?

  1. Lee

    Oprah Boomlet

    “Oprah 2020: Do we need another glitzy amateur in office?” [USA Today]. “If being a watchable TV personality selling fantasy qualifies one to be president, we might as well prepare ourselves for the Kardashian dynasty.”

    Maybe the Republican answer to Oprah could be boxer, Floyd Mayweather Junior. He’s kind of a melanin enhanced Trump, who actually punches people, including women, instead just threatening them.

      1. Pespi

        Floyd’s reading has improved quite a bit in the last two years. He’s also one of few boxers who isn’t being fleeced by his management. He could spin any circumstance into a money making event for himself, so he is well fit for political office.

  2. Quentin

    Oprah Winfrey? The total bankruptcy of the polity in the US. Inextricably she looks like a drag queen, the way many of them get themselves up. What possesses the US to descend to the ridiculous as serious. My god, what a come down. I was born and lived there from 1945-1970. Shocking. Or am I just an old bag?

    1. taunger

      Bit of an old bag in some ways, others no. Oprah is ridiculous, but most younger folks would not find comparing her to a drag queen appropriate – insulting to our drag queen friends.

      1. Quentin

        taunger, Yes, I’ve lived with a drag queen so don’t get me wrong. Winfrey looks like a black guy who got himself him to go out to fool the world, to trick others into thinking his act is authentic. That’s Oprah Winfrey. And women like Sarah Silverstein and Lady Gaga see her as an improvement on Donald Trump. Right. We’re all gaga.

    2. Summer

      In entertainment, I’ve always thought fashion models are more likely to be trans in some way and it’s been that way for a lot longer than the 21st Century.

      1. Procopius

        I remember some years ago reading that one of the top catwalk models in Europe was a trans-gender from Thailand. Here in Thailand they’re perfectly accepted, along with transvestites. In fact they’re a major part of the entertainment industry. Most every soap opera has at least one role for a person playing the stereotype of a trans person, and a number of prominent actors/actresses are openly trans. That’s why I find the Confederate States’ bathroom laws so ridiculous. Some of them are very beautiful, but I would rather not have them using the urinal next to me. Not because they’re trans, but because they look like women.

        1. Yves Smith

          I hate to seem like a jerk, but people who trans and haven’t had the surgery pose problems for straight people. I know a man to woman who did. And more to the point, there are way too many cases of the reverse, trans men to women who haven’t had the surgery, unlike Thais, are still pretty mannish even with all their efforts otherwise, and most important have male equipment, and want to use the women’s room. In the US, part of the reason is presumably not to run the risk of being beaten up by men, but for women, the idea of a cross dressing man with male genitalia going into a women’s room raises fears of rape (not me personally but I have had many women say that to me).

  3. Louis Fyne

    someone here or the daily links mentioned the Google bus/car/bridge captchas. It didn’t click that those may be related to Google’s self-driving program.

    for one website I log into for work–i spent a minute giving the Captcha garbage answers before eventually moving on.

    Now I don’t get those recaptchas. Could be a coincidence, a fluke or could be Google throwing out my responses to avoid spoiling its data. Go try it out if you’re a bit peeved at constantly clicking on fuzzy photos of storefronts

    1. Mel

      I think they would tell you that one captcha is to judge whether you’re a robot, the other(s) get your evaluation of new unknown images, no telling which one.
      Me, I would tell you that they just have more pictures to evaluate than they have people, and they have to up each person’s workload.
      How can we be sure it’s only training, not realtime. See this SMBC comic ..

    2. Croatoan

      I have noticed, and so have others, that the captchas with “signs” were the hardest to get through. Now that I read this I can see that there are many more signs that they would need to catalogue so they just keep telling you that your choices were wrong even though they were not. Gross.

    3. blennylips

      >Now I don’t get those recaptchas. Could be a coincidence, a fluke

      or capricious? The Goog is famous for A/B testing, hmmm, why not C/D/….Alphabet Testing!

      Back in my paranoid early 2010’s I was using a VPN that popped me out in random countries everytime I started it. The same google.com search resulted in very different layout of the “tools” options and results. These design spasms would come and go.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      I posted (yesterday?) about doing this when I got that at home. My solution was one beer’s worth of time devoted to ‘not even wrong’ clicking. (Much easier when the fridge is close). Worked for me.

      Probably more than needed, but I come from people who get irked by inanimate objects acting uppity.

  4. Bill

    oof indeed re DSA’s Medicare for All campaign

    To rank-and-file members, chapter leaders, and many working group leaders, this campaign has been developed in the dark. Basic questions about how the campaign will implement the provisions of the priorities resolution have gone unanswered. Even the membership of the committee developing the campaign has been kept secret. This gatekeeping of basic information prevents the membership at large from being able to verify that the provisions of the priority resolution fought for on the convention floor are in fact being implemented, and it is in conflict with DSA’s commitment to internal democracy.

    We were told that an email to the Disability Working Group went unanswered. The group had to change their email address after they lost access to the original. This excuse makes clear that the Medicare for All committee’s bar for what is considered intentional engagement is set woefully low, indicating that engagement with the Disability Working Group was not taken seriously. During this time, the Disability Working Group was meeting weekly with National staff, and the elected Working Group leaders all had contact information on file with National.

    It is in this context that a tweet from the Medicare for All committee announcing an imminent release of a campaign plan received a scathing response from disabled comrades. Amber A’lee Frost, a prominent DSA member involved with the campaign, responded to this critique on social media, threatening to cut out disabled comrades entirely and describing those who offer constructive criticism as “wreckers” and worse.

    1. Samuel Conner

      The mention of bringing a charge of “wrecking” raises my hackles. IIRC, that was a term used in the Soviet Union back in the Stalin era to describe people who failed to keep machinery in working order when they were deprived of the resources needed to do the job. To be charged with “wrecking” was a ticket to the Gulag. I suppose that the people left behind worked extra hard after that, sort of a “pour encourager les autres” effect.

      It’s bit spooky to find this language used among the DSA leadership. DSA has favorably impressed me based on coverage at NC of its local-scale events. I’ll need to look more deeply before forming an opinion.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I noticed that too. I also noticed the word “comrades” by the other side of the dispute. Those two words . . . “wreckers” and “comrades” . . . force-multiply eachother to give rise to a very deep revulsion within me.

        If DSA is just a Gulag Nostalgia group pretending to be something otherwise in order to trick people into joining and supporting, I will be very embittered against it.

  5. Pat

    I spent years working in the entertainment industry. After years of recognizing that I was a prude in a libertine environment and learning to accept that, I consider much of the industry’s outrage and response to be faux, hypocritical and self-serving. Yes I had to deal with a certain amount of discomfort regarding attitudes and jokes, but that is something to be dealt with AFTER we deal with the real harassment and disrespect that allowed women to be put in a position to have to decide between their professional ambitions and their personal boundaries, and sometimes not even being given that much choice. And for most of those yelling the loudest and beating the drums the most, recognizing that they actually had it better than women with no possibility of a million dollar paycheck that would mean they and their kids didn’t face homelessness and hunger.

    Add to this the clear evidence that whatever Oprah heard or was told was not important enough for to even turn down the Weinstein invites: and I say what a load of *family blog* that Oprah gets to interview a whole lot of very wealthy women who were increasingly powerful over the last decade about their late to the party sexual harassment initiative.


    1. Scott

      I think this court case regarding the writer’s room on Friends really summarizes that the industry as whole found itself exempt from normal workplace standards. The court agreed with them.


      When people across the industry have this public attitude towards sexual harassment, is it any wonder that they look the other way when it crosses the line into sexual assault and rape?

      1. Pat

        I’m going to be perverse here and say that the court probably had it right. There is a delicate flower aspect to going to work on a comedy that ridiculed sexual mores and get upset as the writers talked through things. For instance, there is no reason to discuss possible references to women’s breasts in most workplaces but there? Add that in comedy there is an aspect of pushing boundaries, and there would be some test runs that would never make it on air. They could easily say something or many things that the woman might find offensive and not be directing it to her at all.

        That said, having worked for a major network I can tell you that even those giving the sexual harassment seminars knew damn well that the company was not going to do anything about the big names who were well known to inappropriately touch, comment directly to women about their bodies, and even corner women. They would deflect a question with names attached so fast your head would spin.It was about money. It cost them little to reprimand below the line people for jokes environments, or actions, or even those newbie above the line personnel. But the top line producers, actors and directors…

        We didn’t hear about it when they were alive, see Zanuck. Or if we did Hollywood, including Oprah, closed ranks around them, see Schwarzenegger. They made too many people too much money.

    2. cocomaan

      Meanwhile, as Hollywood grapples with itself over pay equity and sexual harassment, we have some of the worst, most violent prisons in the world, and put our citizens through a meat grinder of rape, disease, and public-private partnership if they screw up.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Maybe we don’t want to confront it, but we’re not better than Haiti or El Salvador, are we?

        But what about the idea of bringing in people from some of the well-run countries, like New Zealand, Japan, Botswana? Or from Asia (though that’s a big continent that includes some not so well-run nations)?

        And if we can rob those countries of their best and brightest, is that fair or does it address the fundamental question of how to rid of the featured rent-extraction, among other deeds, that we have in the system? (I believe Americans are as good as all H1-B invitees).

        1. Lee

          Didn’t Trump ask why we can’t get more immigrants from countries like Norway? Hilarious! Why would they want to? Norway’s net emigration is in the low hundreds and most of them go to EU countries.

          1. Louis Fyne

            –Didn’t Trump ask why we can’t get more immigrants from countries like Norway?

            The Prime Minister of Norway met Trump that day (or the day prior).

            not defending Trump. just saying that’s presumably why Trump spit out Norway. If Trump wanted to be PC, he could’ve just as easily said Canada or Japan.

          2. Quentin

            The irony is why would a Norwegian would want to emigrate to a ‘shithole’ like the US! Trump could never wrap his head around that.

          3. mle detroit

            True. Likely the only reason he mentioned Norway was a dim memory of someone he’d met the day before. What no-one has bothered to say yet is that Norway’s ability to produce healthy, happy, well educated people is that Norway has oil wealth which has been, OMG, socialized!

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It’s a far better world when everyone, everywhere, can afford to say, ‘We like it where we are. My wife is not going to fly to a strange country just to have a baby.’

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’m feeling weird about living in a world where, apparently, no one has heard about the casting couch. Everyone here in prole-land knows about it. It’s not like TV is that good.

  6. allan

    Kentucky Gets OK To Require Work From Medicaid Recipients [NPR]

    Poor residents in Kentucky will have to work or do volunteer work if they want to keep their Medicaid benefits after the Trump administration on Friday approved the state’s request to add the requirements to its Medicaid program.

    The new requirements apply only to “able-bodied” adults who get their health insurance through Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor. People with disabilities, children, pregnant women and the elderly are exempt from the requirement. …

    Kentucky’s program was approved a day after the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced it would look favorably on proposals from state to require poor Medicaid beneficiaries to work, go to school, get job training or do volunteer work to earn health coverage. …

    Weirdly, there’s no work requirement for heirs getting the estate tax cut.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Today West Texas crude closed at $64.30/bbl, another 2-1/2 year high and a 4.7% gain for the week.

    The S&P 500 energy sector (XLE) is also having a big week, currently half a point short of likewise breaking out to a 2-1/2 year high.

    What you gonna do about it, what you gonna do?
    Gonna fight it, gonna fight it?

    — Rolling Stones, Ventilator Blues

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Never fight it when Nature can do the hard work.

      “What goes up, must come down.”

      Unless you escape into space….then, we are talking about gods.

      1. mk

        Yes, just ask the folks in Montecito who lost their homes and lives to fires and mudslides in the last couple of months. We’ll be forced to change because we refused to change.

  8. duffolonious

    “More recent Intel processors from the Skylake (6th-gen Core 6xxx series) era onward have a technology called PCID (Process-Context Identifiers) enabled and suffer less of a performance impact” (the real answer is: much less of a performance impact)

    Some people may be switching to AMD, but most will just be sure to clean our their older-than-Skylake-based computers (Skylake was released August 2015). Intel’s stock price has only fallen to where it was as of Nov 17′ (which btw, was when it spiked for some reason).

    Intel’s really crying on this one /s

  9. Darius

    Regarding Charles Cook, Michael Brooks of the Michael Brooks Show recently pointed out that blue collar workers aren’t thinking to themselves, “I’m looking for a pro choice moderate who’s going to ship my job to Mexico.”

    That was the problem with Hillary. Cook is recommending repeating that mistake.

  10. Left in Wisconsin

    From Vice on the Iron Stache:

    Some good:

    Years ago, Bryce dreamed of following his stepfather in a career in law enforcement, and he enlisted in the Army after high school. After three years, he returned home and landed a job as an outreach specialist for an organization focused on homeless black veterans. “I saw how we were treated by somebody like Reagan, about how we went from heroes to being zeroes,” he told me. “When I started working with homeless veterans, my eyes really opened up. When you look at society and you scratch that surface a little bit, you see what’s hidden under the dirt. That’s where my views started to develop.

    Some not so great:

    Bryce faces another hurdle by the name of Cathy Myers. She is a 55-year-old school board member from Janesville, Wisconsin, Paul Ryan’s hometown. She’s trailing Bryce both in terms of media attention and fundraising—she has raised less than $100,000 to his more than $1.4 million…

    To Myers, the rush to embrace Bryce and overlook her candidacy smells like the same Democratic “fix-is-in” affinity that many think propelled Clinton’s victory over Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary. Myers supported Clinton, but told me, “One of the problems that happened in the last election was that we didn’t have a fair primary.”

    Bryce aides told me Myers is to their candidate what Paul Nehlen and Nick Polce (Republican primary challengers to the speaker) are to Ryan: rivals who simply aren’t on his level. Bryce’s strategy is to ignore Myers. When I asked about her, he would not even say her name, but kept repeating: “I’m focused on Paul Ryan. That is my opponent.“

  11. Fool

    If any DSA comrades are reading, can someone fill me in on this Medicare for All drama re Amber? (Alas, I’m mostly committed to the IRL work and refrain from the Online stuff.) What prompted her defensive post? What was she responding to?

    1. FriarTuck

      After some sniffing around the detritus of Twitter and Reddit, it appears that the whole issue is resultant from an administrative blunder – the DSA Disability Working Group lost access to an email account that received regular general solicitations for input on the DSA Medicare for All Working Group, and thus claimed it was excluded from the upcoming release of the M4A handbook. The subtext of the complaint being that it was intentional on the part of M4A WG and DSA National executive members.

      Amber A’lee Frost was specifically called out for the exclusion and she responded in a hostile manner. It appears as though the hostility is a result of the complaint being issued publicly instead of through systemic channels, but I’m not entirely sure.

      Either way, the issue appears to have been blown way out of proportion. In any sort of established organized org, the error would have been reported through established channels, the email address updated, and everything moved on. Instead it has metastasized into a twitter brawl comprised of oversensitive people yelling at each other, assuming the worst of their supposed comrades.

      At least, that’s as much as I can gather.

  12. Kevin

    Even though I’m not wearing one, my hat’s off to you Lambert – I don’t know how you do it every day! another plethora of prime links.

  13. AdamCoppola

    Lambert, I cannot yet reliably detect sarcasm in your comments. Today’s example: “I don’t see why I don’t own my personal data, all of it. Google and Facebook should give me royalties for it.”

    Do you have any insights into have such a process could work?

    Could you receive an proportion of the the total value generated by the dataset of which you are a part? In my perception of data capital, there is no established way to evaluate the contribution of an indiviudal data point with respect to a body of data. Your personal information as a standalone isn’t all that valuable — the big bucks come from the models and algorithms (market segments and predictive ability) and, more concretely, access to a designated space on your screen.

    So instead could you receive a royalty every time you see an advertisement? This hardly equates to owning your own personal information, since in this case your personal information is rather consumption information, which is arguably equally generated by a company and an individual agreeing on a price.

    If anybody has references towards understanding personal data as capital, please share. I’m eager to understand this better.

    1. BobWhite

      Not trying to answer for Lambert, but I did not see it as sarcasm… Especially if you read the Daily Beast article.

      Some points of interest in the article, regarding a German court ruling: “…Facebook has abused its dominance to collect internet users’ browsing history and personal data.” and “This means that Google and Facebook will no longer be able to default to requiring consumers to allow nearly web-wide monitoring and selling of their personal activities as a condition of using Gmail or their social network.”

      As I see it, if FaceBorg and the Big G force users to give their data (via hidden language in their TOS), then make money on it, they should be forced to pay the users for the data. Think of it as a stock dividend…?

      1. AdamCoppola

        I can see how personal data is valuable when it is in the form of created content, like music, posts, emails (google), or an identity (facebook). From there it’s not a far jump to say that the content you contribute deserves dividends. Like redleg comments below, a royalty would surely consider some equation of points depending on your data generation.

        However, in my experience, the ads I am shown are more tied to my search and browsing history than content I’ve generated. So, I suppose I intend to trouble the limits of what counts as “your [valuable] data” — with the primary example of browsing history. I don’t know for sure but I assume Google Analytics is the major data collection tool here. Being about site interactions, the Google Analytics reports on any given website might be more reasonably considered their data (data on product effectiveness) than mine (personal data).

        If a photographer legally takes your photograph in a public space, the photographer holds rights to photo use.

        There are at least two issues here. The first is protection from web-wide monitoring. Futile. Not only does every participant in the chain record activity (ISPs, domains, sites, browsers), but these observations work on many levels — personal, family, local, regional…If we assume there’s no way to make data tracking opt-in, despite what the Daily Beast hopes, then royalties may be the only model of fairness.

        The second issue, then, is who profits from the internet. For issues where the user is a spectator (clicking, streaming, swiping, scrolling), we only give up our agency, and i see no grounds for us to demand compensation.

    2. redleg

      Performing Rights Organizations (PROs) such as BMI, ASCAP, etc. have formulas for this already in use for music.
      The rate is negotiated between the platform (such as Pixar, Comcast, Disney, NFL, Spotify, etc.) and the PRO. This establishes the royalty pool.

      Next, each member of the PRO essentially gets points based on the use of their songs, how that song was used and for how long, whether or not lyrics were used, when the song was played, the ratings of the media in which it was used, etc. The master recording and the writing are considered two separate things, each assessed independently. BMI, for example, publishes the massive equation with notes for their members.

      Each artist tallies their points and divide that by the total number of points. That is their % cut of the royalty pool.

      This model could be readily adapted for use for social media.

      1. Rhondda

        Re Performing Rights Organizations as a model for personal data compensation. Thank you, redleg! This is a very valuable observation.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      The people who take something of value from you have to give you compensation. The Anglo Saxons had this down.

      1. AdamCoppola

        In the interaction of tracked web browsing, what is taken from you? Google Analytics does not need you to fill out any forms. It codes your actions and generates data and models of their own.

        Another way of looking at this: all Google needs to do is code similar products, so that when you search for one, you may see adjacent items. The space of product similarity, of course, isn’t defined according to how you interpret products, but instead how the mass of customers acts (Amazon’s “people also searched for…”). Browsing data is not personal data and it is not yours.

        Reading these comments and the article has led me to the temporary stance that a royalty for data use would be like incentivized product feedback surveys, Google Analytics being like outsourced market research. However, since there is no intervention or risk associated with data collection, this isn’t human subjects research and we still have no grounds to request compensation.

  14. Code Name D

    Something about this absurd Oprah 202 thing just doesn’t track. Of course, a celebrity having delusions of grandeur is nothing new. But how do you go from the current DLC darling Kamala Harris (who may have already been anointed the golden child for 2020) to Oprah? (Berny who?) What gets you golden child status is the ability to raise money from corporations and other wealthy donors. So, does Oprah have a DLC fundraising machine we don’t know about?

    Far more likely is another calculous entirely. One possibility may be an ideological shift to a more feministic ideology. To better “wo” female voters (issues, we don’t need no stinking issues?). I tend to not put a lot of currency in this idea, but I can’t seem to get away from it either. Another possibility I like more is that Oprah is intended to be the Berny Sanders substitute. See, she can fill stadiums too, she is an outsider, just less of that fattening Democratic Socialism that you will have to run off later. As long as Oprah is on the field, you can be sure Sanders will not get the time of day. It will also go a long way to insure news about the further rigging of the Democratic primary will not get a single inch of mention.

  15. PKMKII

    The problem with the #MeToo campaign and the larger social shift behind it, and the SMM list is a perfect example, is that it’s really several movements and tactics with different goals, but end up converging on each other in sometimes ugly ways. You’ve got your, just “#MeToo” facebook and twitter posts, no time, place, or victimizer attached to it, just as a way to spread awareness of how common the problem is. You have public accusations, not intended as part of criminal or civil litigation, but as to create a larger culture of women speaking out. They can’t prove it, but given the nature of the law, can’t be sued for slander either. You have public accusations that are intended to go to trial. And then you have things like the SMM list, semi-public warnings, less intended for larger social change, more for safety of women in particular environments. It doesn’t reach the standard of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, but rather the standard for, which guys should I avoid being alone with in my professional and social circles? Something that would have been purely word-of-mouth in a pre-Google Docs era.

    However, with the way media work these days, it quickly goes from one to the other. A co-worker sees the social media post, and immediately knows who they’re talking about. The accusation without trial leads to others speaking out against the same person and going to trial, and now that original accusation is part of “character evidence.” And the SMM list, like anything posted to the Internet, gets disseminated past its intended audience in record time and becomes full public. Original intentions mean nothing.

    Question is, where is the balance here? False accusations can wreck lives, but by the same token telling women they can’t speak out in any fashion unless they have legally bulletproof evidence is tantamount to giving men free reign to sexually assault, as the vast majority of these cases come down to he said, she said. And a bit of a tangent here, but with regards to the women who work in media specifically, where are the writers’ unions and SAG in all this? Aren’t they supposed to, you know, be working for the welfare and workplace safety of their members?

    1. Oregoncharles

      SAG, at least, is guilty of malign neglect. It’s probably as male-dominated as the industry, as well as corrupted.

      A more fundamental problem in film is that the competition is notoriously cut-throat; there are movies about it. This makes solidarity difficult, and in this respect the show at the Golden Globes and “Time’s UP” are very good signs.

      I believe the music industry has similar problems, bu tso far no exposes that I’v eheard of.

  16. Kevin

    “Improving Ourselves to Death”

    I see this as neoliberalism’s effect on the human being.

    Push forward! Always push forward .
    Because you are not sufficient, you must make your self better?
    and run over the weak if you have to…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Gotta get another degree.”

      “No one is going to laugh at me for having only three.”

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      It’s not about what you are. It’s about your growth, implying your improvement. Except…

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      “Since I learned that low agreeableness and high neuroticism are relatively stable facets of my personality, rather than signs of some shameful psychological impurity, I’ve stopped berating myself so frequently,” he writes.

      The key to a contented life, in one sentence.

    4. ewmayer

      “I see this as neoliberalism’s effect on the human being.” — Bingo. To borrow a term of art from hereabouts, it’s the “personal groaf” industry.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        back in the day, I refused to wear penny loafers.
        I also eschewed oversized “choose life” tshirts when they had their moment.I’ve worn a tie twice in my life.
        In their times, each of these things were thought of as necessary and important. The neoliberal maximalisation of one’s brand is no different.
        at some point…rather some continuum of points of folks having such epiphanies…people will wake up to the fact that all such things are ridiculous and “vexations of spirit”, that they are being used to harvest one’s money and time, and that it is within their power to stop.
        Zarathustra sez: “—’For happiness, how little sufficeth for happiness!’ Thus spake I once and thought myself wise. But it was a blasphemy: THAT have I now learned. Wise fools speak better.
        The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a whisk, an eye-glance—LITTLE maketh up the BEST happiness. Hush!”

        He also sez; “Blessed be moderate poverty”

        the world has been in a fever for a long time.
        used to be called keeping up with the joneses, but I glean that it’s gotten both more acute and much more widespread…it works it’s magick even on the church moms at the soccer match…and is imposed from on high in the form of the testing fiasco in education, the language used when arguing about poor people, and in the now 40 year history of some kid getting beaten for a pair of shoes.
        we could choose a better way, but first, perhaps, we’ll hafta choose Not to do it That way.
        I decided long ago that i didn’t really want to work for someone who would make decisions based on my shoes or what sort of sheepskin i could manage to beg borrow or steal.
        Such ephemera are not the true measure of a human being.
        The word “choice” is bandied about by many of the high and mighty, along with “freedom”.
        are we not free to choose to be a human being, rather than an “enterprise” or a “consumer”?
        Is that most fundamental Identity to be denied us?

        these sorts of articles make me both hopeful and sad.
        That so many are gulled and herded into things they hate is sad.
        That many seem to be jettisoning their complex sets of unexamined assumptions(see both D’s and R’s) is hopeful, and indicates that we may be growing out of whatever stage of development our species is currently in.
        I’m interested to see what comes next.

        from Marcus Aurelius: “How much time he gains who does not look to see what his neighbor says or does or thinks, but only at what he does himself, to make it just and holy.”

        (…the first neitzsche quote is from “at noontide” in ‘Thus spake…’: http://www.philosophy-index.com/nietzsche/thus-spake-zarathurstra/lxx.php )

  17. DJG

    From Moira Donegan’s article, something that I wish she had thought through but that she did not, because she’s 27 years old and living in a culture with no privacy and no sense of urgency to defend one’s privacy:

    “In contrast, the value of the spreadsheet was that it had no enforcement mechanisms: Without legal authority or professional power, it offered an impartial, rather than adversarial, tool to those who used it. It was intended specifically not to inflict consequences, not to be a weapon — and yet, once it became public, many people immediately saw it as exactly that.”

    It is a spreadsheet. It is one step away from the algorithms that Facebook uses to track us. It was being passed around at a time when the FBI and CIA are vacuuming up everyone’s communications. It could never be any of the things that she wanted. I hesitate to get all generational, but is it time for the National Conversation on How Really to Defend Yourself? About how “devised theater” means the decline of the individual and of our individuality?

    And I do not want to carp. It is obvious that she is a talented writer with a good eye. Lambert’s link leads to her other blog posts. This one is gorgeous and unnerving:


    But it is her pen that is defending her, not her spreadsheet.

  18. Wyoming


    Re: Kyrsten Sinema in AZ

    I live in AZ and was a strong Bernie supporter (refused to vote Clinton) so that is my bias.

    I agree that Sinema’s positions are far from progressive. That being said compared to most of the rightwing extremists found here in AZ she is a breath of fresh air. Ward and Arpiao? Yikes!

    I think she has an excellent chance and it would actually be to her benefit if the real progressives do not come out and endorse her as having folks like me openly campaigning for her would likely cost quite a few independent votes. There are a LOT of folks here pretty fed up with the extreme right but who still find real socialist policy smacking of being a communist or something. Sinema, in my opinion, is in the drivers seat at this point and has a better than even chance of winning. A lesser evil choice?

    Arpaio was stomped in his last election in a pretty conservative county. If left to his own he stands a good chance of his mouth leading him to defeat. With him in the race Ward pretty much does not stand a chance. But the third Republican, McSally, who announced today, is much less extreme and may get the nod via Arpaio and Ward splitting to some extent the far right vote. McSally is the greatest threat to Sinema being the most moderate of the 3 R’s so I am sure that Sinema will be focusing on making Arpaio the thrust of any direct attacks as that energizes his supporters the most and thus might defang McSally. If Ward or Arpaio win their primary I am predicting that Sinema is the next Senator.

    What is really needed here is not happening. Voter registration. If everyone here was registered and voted AZ would be at least 50% in the Democratic pocket. But as usual the Democrats don’t have an in place effort to register voters. Brain dead.

  19. UserFriendly

    Seriously? Family Blog Joe Biden. You had 1 war, we have like 8.
    Your generation did jack about the environment and we will be paying for it.
    You had super cheap College, and YOU made me a debt slave.
    I hope he gets brain cancer.

    1. Katy

      I know, right? (Though I wouldn’t wish brain cancer on anyone.)

      “The younger generation now tells me how tough things are. Give me a break. No, no, I have no empathy for it. Give me a break. Because here’s the deal guys, we decided we were gonna change the world. And we did. We did. We finished the civil rights movement in the first stage. The women’s movement came to be.

      So my message is, get involved. There’s no place to hide. You can go and you can make all the money in the world, but you can’t build a wall high enough to keep the pollution out. You can’t live where—you can’t not be diminished when your sister can’t marry the man or woman, or the woman she loves. You can’t—when you have a good friend being profiled, you can’t escape this stuff.

      And so, there’s an old expression my philosophy professor would always use from Plato, ‘The penalty people face for not being involved in politics is being governed by people worse than themselves.‘ It’s wide open. Go out and change it.”

      Yes, Uncle Joe. When the Millennials (born 1982-2004) were loafing around being under age 18, they should have been politically active by voting and running for office. It’s all our fault. Thanks for changing the world into a neoliberal paradise.

      1. JohnnyGL

        I suspect Biden just had his “basket of deplorables” moment. Lefty internet sites already don’t like him much. Now he just gave them a rallying cry and motivated his opponent’s demographic base of support to show up to stop him.

      2. Darthbobber

        Presumably Biden is hiding behind that “we”, because his personal contribution to the feminist or civil rights movement frankly evades me. His contribution on gay rights consisted largely in seeing that support for gay marriage had actually become a political plus rather than a risk. As to the activism that helped change that calculus fron the one to the other, that work was done by people he generally wouldbt give the time of day to.

    2. Whoa Molly!

      Bidens comment sounds to me like a Sister Soulja moment. Telling suburban Republican women he’s reliably conservative, not like those scary Bernie lefties. The failed Clinton playbook, again.

  20. Oregoncharles

    “I Started the Media Men List My name is Moira Donegan”
    this sort of thing used to be written on bathroom walls. “Those were the days, my friend…”

    Among other things, it reflected a failure to grasp the nature of the Internet. Of COURSE it got away from her.

  21. edmondo

    Charles Cook is Nate Silver with a subscription model instead of free. If you want to know what the Inside-the-Beltway consensus is, read Charlie Cook.

    As some Democrats have visions of impeachment, invocation of the 25th Amendment, or passing single-payer health care dancing in their heads, they ought to be thinking about how not to make this election about them. Democrats ought to be projecting an image of a responsible party…
    Yes, because single payor health care is some radical idea that is only supported by 60% of the American people. Can’t have the Democrats running on something that appeals to too many voters, they might win!

    RE: Arizona Senate race
    Kyrsten Sinema is a Blue Dog POS – think of a Dianne Feinstein who sleeps with women (she is openly bisexual). In ordinary times, I wouldn’t vote for her if she was running unopposed. She is from Maricopa County near Phoenix, not Tucson.

    Unfortunately, her most likely opponent will be Martha McSally, who is the MIC poster girl for unlimited military budgets and no accountability. She was Paul Ryan’s go-to-girl to repeal Obamacare in the House, even though she represents a poor, hugely Hispanic district in Southern Arizona. As odious as Sinema is, McSally is even worse. She’s John McCain in a dress. The last thing we need here is another Senator from Raytheon.

    It’s a horrible choice but I will vote for Sinema over McSally just because McSally is exactly the kind of person who could end up in the Senate from Arizona for the next 40 years. (Even if she loses, she will be named McCain’s replacement when his time comes.)

  22. JP

    $20,000 to have a child? Let’s see, there isn’t an environmental problem that wouldn’t be mitigated by a decrease in population so let’s make more humans.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Not to mention every college/university would cut financial aid and/or raise tuition by roughly that amount.

    1. ewmayer

      Not to in any way defend Apple, but MacOS has – as far as I can tell – *always* been wide open in terms of allowing anyone with physical access to the system gain administrative control in a matter of a couple minutes – this website details the procedure, but briefly:

      0. Enter Single User Mode: Reboot the Mac and hold down Command+S at boot to enter into the command line.
      1. Mount the root filesystem as writable, allowing you to make changes to the filesystem: ‘mount -uw /’

      Now you can reset any user’s password, login and create an admin account for yourself, etc. A skilled hacker can surely slightly modify the above access procedure to turn the frontdooring into backdooring, by covering their tracks.

      Feel free to try the above on your own Mac if you don’t believe me. I used it on the refurbished Mac I am typing this on, which I bought cheap as backup unit a couple years ago, did a brief yep-it-works check on and put into storage, then pulled out last summer when my old Macbook died, only to realize the seller had not included a post-it with the admin password.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Uber Looks Great When the Police Barge In”

    Corporations may think themselves smart doing stuff like this until one day, in response, law enforcement teams up with the NSA to tap their communications and computers direct. For every challenge, there is always a response.

  24. drumlin woodchuckles

    Biden to millenials: ” Give me a break”.


    Let us hope that Hopeless Joe has just set his own nomination chances on fire with that sneering expression of Upper Class Privilege.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      All we need now is a statement of the like “If my son could do it, you can too.”.. he probably would think that by bringing up the dead it would shut down any argument, but he would make the statement oblivious to the fact that his son was the offspring of a senator with all the privilege and connections that come with it.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I checked his Wikipedia entry. Joe turned 18 in the year 1960 – a different time, eh? When he entered Syracuse University College of Law, he received a half-scholarship based on financial need with some additional assistance based on academics. No mention of any college debt that would have hung over his life in the 1970s and 1980s like nowadays. Even got a deferment from the draft so never had to go to ‘Nam.
      You read about his early life and I would suggest that he was constantly being given a whole series of ‘breaks’ – even when he was caught plagiarizing. He has just forgotten that part of his life. Yeah, he worked hard to get where he is but could never have done it if he had been born is say 1992 instead of 1942. If I had to make a judgement about his life, I would have to say: “You didn’t build that!”

  25. Whoa Molly!

    Anyone else noticing NC loading very slowly last few days? I am on Verizon in Northern CA. As a test I also loaded Drudge Report—it came up in a flash. Throttling?

    1. knowbuddhau

      No, not NC, not even across 3 devices.

      But I haven’t been able to bring up CorrenteWire.com for weeks. “Server not found.”

      Not in Win 7 Pro, not in Linux Mint 17.3 (Cinnamon 2.8.8), not on either of 2 Android devices. Using the latest Firefoxes (incl. 57.0.3 in Linux until the Meltdown & Spectre updates yesterday), Chrome, and Android’s built-in Internet app.

      On Comcast/Xfinity here. Haven’t tried it on a different network.

    2. Mel

      I just spent 30 seconds waiting for twitter.com to do something to see your comment. Some of the big ad services seem horribly overextended, and it’s not just recent.

  26. ewmayer

    o Econ-propaganda alert [bolds mine]: “Consumer Price Index, December 2017: “Housing and medical care costs, which together make more than half of the CPI, firmed and fed a constructive 0.3 percent rise in the ex-food and ex-energy core rate for December” [Econoday].” — So housing and medical care getting even *more* wildly unaffordable is spun as a positive via suggestive descriptors such as ‘formed’ and ‘constructive’? Gotcha.

    o Tech: “Male sex robots with unstoppable bionic p*nises are coming this year” [Metro UK]. “David Levy, author of Love and Sex With Robots, says, ‘I’m sure women will find robots equally appealing as men.’” — So, your JackHammer Everlasting Bonerbot™ will take out the trash and change the oil in your car, too? Sweet!

  27. ewmayer

    o “Mr. Market: “ROSENBERG: The excesses in markets are practically unlike anything we’ve ever seen” (charts) [Business Insider]. “The question is how can this possibly be viewed as the most hated rally of all time when US household exposure to equities has rarely been as high as it is currently.” — Perhaps because the rampant asset-price inflation represented by the now-nearly-9-years-old rally includes assets like housing and rents, which hit everyone, whether they own equities or not? Just a thought there, dear market pundits.

    o “Congress prepares to knock down barriers to broadband expansion in rural America” [USA Today]. “The main obstacle to broadband expansion into rural areas is cost, said Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle, the top Democrat on the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee. — The bolded statement is a Big Lie – as Rep. Doyle surely knows well, cost is never an issue when it comes to funding Big War and bailing out the crooked banking cartels. No, the main obstacle to broadband expansion into rural areas is willingness to spend such monies on the Deplorables. Same reason we already have MMT for the aforementioned rackets, but never for hoi polloi. Hoi Polloi has no power-suited army of shmoozing, cajoling, bribe-offering lobbyists representing it in the halls of power.

    1. cnchal

      There is some truly good unintentional humor in the article.

      By late 2015, a few months after Mr. Trump announced his campaign for president, he started his Twitter broadsides against Mr. Bezos, which often coincided with critical coverage of the candidate in The Washington Post.

      “The @washingtonpost loses money (a deduction) and gives owner @JeffBezos power to screw public on low taxation of @Amazon!” he tweeted in December that year. “Big tax shelter.”

      Mr. Bezos responded by offering to launch the future president of the United States into space on a Blue Origin rocket.

      Trump is right about the losses. How far into the future can those losses be deducted? Amazon will never pay a penny of income tax.

      The picture with Bezos beside his rocket is also a parody. It matches the shape of his head, and looks like a carnival ride.

      It’s tough to make a psychopath look good.

  28. drumlin woodchuckles

    Well . . . I just watch-listened to the little Biden video snippet featuring “give me a break”.

    Rather than seeming mean and nasty, he seemed profoundly stupidly ignorant of the difference between the world of “then” and the world of “now”. An insensitive unteachable unreachable clod and a half-bright dolt. He seemed to be the very model of lucid senility.

    How many parents of college debt-slave children would think of voting for him? Surely not any who understand him as the Senator from Big Credit and Big Bank.

  29. integer

    CIA friends’ asked Moby to spread word of Trump-Russia collusion on social media

    In a recent interview, Moby said his friends at the CIA asked him to take advantage of a greater “social media following” to spread rumors about President Donald Trump’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign…

    “They said like, look you have more of a social media following than any of us do, can you please post some of these things, just in a way to sort of put it out there,” Moby said.

    Moby said his friends based their information, in part, on the Fusion GPS report that was published by BuzzFeed last January…

    Moby went on to make some ominous predictions about Trump, saying things are “going to get quite a lot darker.”

    “Like the depth of the Trump family and business, their involvement with organized crime sponsors of terrorism, Russian oligarchs – like it’s really, really dark.”

    However, Moby said he is hopeful that his “friend and neighbor,” Rep. Adam Schiff (D-California), will win in 2018 and take over as head of the House Judiciary Committee.

    Here’s the interview, cued up to the relevant part: https://youtu.be/SHI6LfICx6k?t=480

    FWIW he refers to friends in the intelligence community rather than the CIA specifically. He also says his dream is for Michelle 0bama to run for President. Stupid celebrities.

  30. Barbara Kurth

    I finally finished reading Water Cooler and all the comments. It took 3 hours. I guess Lambert is my Facebook.

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