2:00PM Water Cooler 1/18/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“U.S. lawmakers are urging AT&T Inc, the No. 2 wireless carrier, to cut commercial ties to Chinese phone maker Huawei Technologies Co Ltd and oppose plans by telecom operator China Mobile Ltd to enter the U.S. market because of national security concerns, two congressional aides said” [Reuters].

“Imagining a World Without NAFTA” [Oxford Economics]. “Three main blocks of states rely upon exports to Canada and Mexico for a sizable share of their gross state products: Small border states, such as Vermont and North Dakota; Emerging Southern production nodes, such as South Carolina and Alabama; Traditional manufacturing hubs of the Midwest, such as Michigan and Ohio. Interestingly, two of the most notable states that swung for Trump, Michigan and Ohio, are among the top exporters to Canada and Mexico — with 8 percent of Michigan exports and 5 percent of Ohio’s being destined for these countries (mostly related to the automotive industry).” (CNN coverage here.)



“Wisconsin Upset Raises Hopes for Democrats in 2018 Races” [New York Times]. “A Wisconsin Democrat won a State Senate seat on Tuesday night that had been held by a Republican for 17 years, setting off a flurry of political predictions across a state that President Trump won…. ‘Everything is in play now,” Melanie Conklin, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said on Wednesday. ‘This is a district that has been a very red district for a long time, and the numbers last night were very blue.'” Hmm. What do readers say?

“Trump Tests His Political Capital in a Bellwether House Race” [Bloomberg]. “Trump will find his political capital tested when he visits the Pittsburgh suburb of North Fayette on Thursday after suffering an embarrassing defeat late last year in Alabama, where he backed two losing candidates and the state elected its first Democrat to the Senate in a quarter century…. The House Republican leadership has urged Trump to pay attention to the election in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, scheduled for March 13, to help bolster the profile of Republican candidate Rick Saccone, according to two people familiar with the matter. Democrats didn’t even field a candidate there in the last two elections, showing that Republicans and the White House acknowledge the 2018 stakes.”


“Hillary Clinton Could Still Become President if Russia Probe Finds Conspiracy Evidence” [Newsweek]. All over the map. Resurrects an October 2017 essay from Larry Lessig with an 11-dimensional chess scenario involving many “should”s, then quotes him now: “Since the essay was published, there hasn’t been ‘any evidence that’s come out that’s resolved the question, whether there was some conspiracy to steal the election,’ [Lessig] said. ‘I don’t feel that we’ve seen anything that increases that probability,’ he added.” And any evidence produced at this point would have to have very strong provenance.

Obama Legacy

“Protesters demanding Obama sign community benefits agreement make voices heard” [Chicago Sun-Times]. An antidote to the “I miss Obama” tweets you might see:

“We cannot take the president’s word on the fact that they’re not gonna push African-Americans out with the Obama Presidential Center. There is no history that says their word is worth anything,” [Jitu] Brown said.

“What we need is an in-writing community benefits agreement that says that people who live in those communities will benefit — not in a profiteering way, but jobs, investment in neighborhood elementary schools, transportation infrastructure. That is not a lot to ask. In the case of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, it kept people in their communities.”

Brown was asked why he is so convinced that promises made by the nation’s first African-American president won’t be kept.

“The situation will not be different because our African-American president endorsed school privatization — the closing of schools all across the United States. Our African-American aldermen have sat by while 50 schools closed in the city of Chicago. And it had a harmful effect on Chicago’s children,” Brown said.

New Cold War

“Twitter may alert users exposed to Russian propaganda” [USA Today]. ” Twitter says it’s exploring ways to notify millions of users if they were exposed to Russian propaganda. The social media service is working to identify and inform individuals who saw tweets from Kremlin-linked accounts spreading disinformation and divisive messages during the 2016 presidential election, Twitter’s director of public policy Carlos Monje told lawmakers Wednesday.” “Divisive messages.” Hold my pearls as I head to the fainting couch!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Schakowsky, Gutierrez endorsing Lipinski Democratic primary rival Marie Newman” [Chicago Sun-Times]. “In a rare break from the usual tradition of House incumbents either backing each other or staying neutral in a primary, Illinois Democratic Reps. Jan Schakowsky and Luis Gutierrez on Wednesday endorsed challenger Marie Newman over Rep. Dan Lipinski. ‘It’s not easy to endorse a challenger over a colleague in the House of Representatives,” Gutierrez said at a press conference on Capitol Hill with Newman and Schakowsky. Especially when that colleague is a member of your party. But I think this is a very special and at the same time a very dangerous time,’ he said. Said Schakowsky, “this is not personal,” with the split, she said, ‘based on issues.'” DNC: “Issues? What are these issues of which you speak?”

“A free-for-all destroyed the Republican Party. Could Democrats be next?” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “The lesson is this: When a field is divided 20 different ways among a bunch of candidates who cancel each other out, the candidate who makes a loud, emotional or even outrageous appeal can incite enough of a disenchanted plurality to win…. Leftists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are nowhere near Trump when it comes to sheer depravity and ignorance, but they are just as capable of offering simplistic and dated answers for modern problems.” My goodness!

How it’s done:

Stats Watch

Housing Starts, December 2017: “A surprising but perhaps one-time drop in single-family starts masks what is otherwise a very solid housing starts and permits report for December” [Econoday]. “The backlog behind future starts continues to build as permits came in very strong.”

Jobless Claims, week of January 13, 2018: “A rash of estimates in the January 13 week clouds an unusually steep decline in initial jobless claims” [Econoday]. “The estimates aside, the drop in the latest claims does speak to strength in the labor market and is underscored once again by how low the unemployment rate is for insured workers, holding steady in the week at 1.4 percent.”

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, January 2018: “The Philly Fed’s manufacturing index remains very strong though it did ease a bit in this month” [Econoday]. “This report was the first to take off this time last year in what correctly signaled a healthy 2017 for the factory sector.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of January 14, 2018: “The consumer comfort index rose 3 tenths in the January 14 week to a new 17-year high” [Econoday]. “This report has been showing increasing strength in contrast to the consumer sentiment where strength has been easing.”

Treasury International Capital, November 2017: “Foreign accounts, at $34.8 billion, were active buyers of long-term U.S. securities in November while U.S. accounts, at $22.7 billion, were active sellers of long-term foreign securities, together making for monthly asset inflow of $57.5 billion” [Econoday]. “Foreign demand for U.S. securities is a major plus for the economy, helping to offset the nation’s large trade gap and government deficit.”

Banks: “Wrecking ball swings through Russia’s private banks” [Financial Times]. “At the start of 2017, half the banks in Russia’s top 10 by assets were privately owned — no mean feat when the state sector makes up 70 per cent of gross domestic product. One year later, only Alfa-Bank, one of Russia’s oldest, has escaped rescue. Three of the four members of the “Moscow Garden Ring” of privately held banks that grew rapidly in recent years have been nationalised…. Central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina won praise for acting quickly to limit a developing crisis after the now nationalised banks revealed huge balance sheet holes.”

Banks: “JPMorgan’s Equity Traders Took a $143 Million Loss on a Single Client” [Bloomberg]. “The bank recognized a $143 million mark-to-market loss on a margin loan to a single customer in its stock-trading unit, the New York-based firm said Friday in a statement. Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake confirmed on a conference call with reporters that the writedown was tied to Steinhoff, the South African retailer engulfed in an accounting scandal.”

Big Ag: “Countries comprising the former USSR harvested 18 percent of the global wheat crop in 2017, the most since 1980, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Russia is projected to become the biggest shipper by volume this year, overtaking the U.S., the agency estimates. America’s share of the global crop fell to 6 percent in 2017, the lowest based on records going back to 1960.” [Bloomberg].

Retail: “15 companies that are defying the retail meltdown by opening hundreds of new stores” [Business Insider]. “A large majority of the retailers that are opening new stores this year are discounters, including Dollar General, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, Aldi, Lidl, Five Below, and Hobby Lobby. Those retailers and others will collectively open more than 2,100 stores this year, according to a Business Insider analysis based on company data…. US shoppers started gravitating toward discount stores during the recession, and most never returned to shopping full-price…. This shift coincided with a seismic change in how Americans spend their money. Shoppers are now devoting a smaller share of their wallets to clothing and accessories and instead spending more on big-ticket items like cars and travel, as well as food, technology, and health care. Shoppers are also purchasing more online. At the same time, mall visits have dropped precipitously.”

Retail: “Whole Foods is facing a crush of food shortages in stores that’s leading to empty shelves, furious customers, and frustrated employees” [Business Insider]. “Whole Foods employees say the problems began before the acquisition. They blame the shortages on a buying system called order-to-shelf that Whole Foods implemented across its stores early last year… ‘On paper, things look good — our spoilage is in check, and I don’t have a lot of back stock,’ [the manager] said. ‘But I have never seen so many empty shelves in my store.'” The idea is to minimize inventory, but: “If a truck breaks down and you don’t get a delivery, then you have empty shelves,’ an assistant manager of a Chicago-area Whole Foods said.” What food shortages would look like, I suppose….

Supply Chain: “Amazon Chooses 20 Finalists for Second Headquarters” [New York Times (Katy)]. “The full list [here] of finalists leans toward locations in the Midwest and South and on the East Coast, and away from the tech-saturated hubs of the West Coast.

Supply Chain: “Amazon names top 20 finalists in second headquarters race” [USA Today]. “An interesting geographical anomaly is the D.C. area. Montgomery County, Md., Northern Virginia and Washington D.C. all made it to the second round. That means 15% of the possibilities are in or next to the federal government — presumably important because of Amazon’s increasing visibility in the national economy and need to keep Washington on its side.”

I seem to have accumulated a good deal of Bezzle material:

The Bezzle: “Price Manipulation in the Bitcoin Ecosystem” [ScienceDirect]. Highlights:

  • Suspicious trades on a Bitcoin currency exchange are linked to rises in the exchange rate.
  • A single actor likely drove the USD/BTC exchange rate from $150 to $1000 in 2 months.
  • Trading volume on all exchanges increased greatly on days with suspicious activity.
  • Unregulated cryptocurrency markets remain vulnerable to manipulation today.

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin rallies more than 30% to briefly top $12,000 in latest wild swing” [CNBC] (most recent as of this writing). “‘Large dips of 25 percent or greater are a feature of the global, super liquid, near-instant cryptocurrency trading environment,’ Nolan Bauerle, director of research at CoinDesk, said in an email. ‘There have been six such large sell-offs since the summer of 2016,’ Bauerle said. ‘The pattern is familiar: Bitcoin falls, finds a bottom and consolidates at previous all-time high. Traders who seek to increase their total bitcoin holdings take a fiat position, or move to another cryptocurrency, then buy back into bitcoin. This massive, global traffic pushes prices back up.'”

The Bezzle: “Can Hedge Funds Handle a Bitcoin Bust?” [Bloomberg]. “The allure of 1,000 percent returns in a market of unsophisticated punters who behave in herd-like ways is undeniable. But how long before crypto fund managers start having their own bedtime terrors?”

The Bezzle: “This week’s Bitcoin crash was all about fraud and regulation” [The Verge]. “However, this current bubble comes against a new backdrop: a global tide of regulation against the inchoate cryptocurrency industry. On one hand, these regulations may be scaring bitcoin investors into selling their coins now before the full impact of regulation makes itself felt. On the other, it may also be threatening suspect exchanges such as BitConnect, with its own token declining in value by 46 percent between December 17th and January 15th — the day before it announced its closure. In the United States, regulation has reared its head in the form of the SEC. Last month, its newly formed Cyber Unit pressed charges for the first time against PlexCorps, which was accused of defrauding investors through a questionable initial coin offering, or ICO.”

The Bezzle: “Next week the popular cryptocurrency event, The North American Bitcoin Conference (TNABC) will be hosted in downtown Miami at the James L Knight Center, January 18-19. However, bitcoin proponents got some unfortunate news this week as the event organizers have announced they have stopped accepting bitcoin payments for conference tickets due to network fees and congestion” [d].

The Bezzle: “One approach to pricing Bitcoin [and similar] has to been try to ask oneself what the fundamental value might be in terms of its enduring use and appeal to the community wishing to store value or make payments outside the reach of regulatory and tax authorities” [longandvariable]. “Bitcoin’s current high cost of individual payments make it unappealing for small and legal payments. For small payments, the payment fee is a large fraction or multiple of the actual payment, and so highly inefficient. For legal payments, there are cheaper alternatives and no obvious benefit, yet to using Bitcoin. However, for those seeking to keep their wealth hidden, and move it around without the knowledge of the authorities, or being taxed, Bitcoin may still be useful…. I think it’s a mistake to think of Bitcoin’s value, therefore, as underpinned by a reliable long term demand from badly behaved or private people; that community may be as fickle in coordinating on a currency as our own, and as responsive to what they think we will do as we are to them.”

The Bezzle: “Pop-Punk Bassist Made $27 Million From a Telemarketing Scam, Is Probably Going to Jail” [TrackRecord]. Former Ataris bassist Michael Davenport, whoever they are and whoever he is. “Davenport, along with fellow California resident Cynthia Rawlinson, operated a nationwide real estate telemarketing scam that cheated 100,000 people out of $27 million from 2009 to 2016…. Their plan was fairly simple: post ads on Craigslist for extremely affordable “pre-foreclosure” homes with limited information. After people responded to the ads, American Standard would then request a $199 fee to access the property information.” And you can guess how it goes from there. I like it, however, that bottom feeders were still taking advantage of the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis in 2016. Best economy ever!

The Arts: “Modern patronage offers artists a new way to earn a living” [Financial Times]. “Some creators have suggested that Patreon made the fee changes to increase its revenue after an injection of venture capital last year valued the company at $450m, but Mr Horowitz denies this, saying the changes were planned long before that round of investment. Regardless, the debacle revealed how, despite all the rhetoric about independence for this democratic form of funding, creators are always at the mercy of the platform.” If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business…

The Arts: “YouTube is trying to clean itself up by making it much harder for small video makers to make money” [Recode]. “YouTube’s new rules require anyone who wants to generate ad dollars on the platform to first generate 4,000 hours of “watchtime” over a 12-month period, and to attract at least 1,000 subscribers. That replaces a lower hurdle of 10,000 lifetime views, which the site instituted last spring, after a first wave of negative stories about rogue content. The rules are retroactive for existing YouTube ‘partners,’ who share ad revenue with the platform, which means that the site will kick some out of the rev-share program after a 30-day grace period.” 4,000 hours is a lot of sharecropping. If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business…

The Arts: “Exclusive: Amazon Studios to cut back on indie films in programming shift: sources” [Reuters]. “Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O), which has made waves in recent years buying art-house movies at the Sundance Film Festival, is heading to the prestigious event this week with a long-term change in the works: It plans to shift resources from independent films to more commercial projects, people familiar with the matter told Reuters.” If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business…

Five Horsemen: “Seattle sluggers Amazon and Microsoft continue to thrash their Silicon Valley counterparts” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jan 18 2018

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 72 Greed (previous close: 75, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 77 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jan 18 at 11:58am. Mr. Market worried about government shutdown?

Health Care

“The Health of the States” [Virginia Commonwealth University]. From the Summary Report (PDF): “In many cities, life expectancy varies by as much as 20 years between neighborhoods.”

“Call Gov. Matt Bevin’s Medicaid plan what it is: ‘Kentucky Death’ [Courier-Journal]. “Between 100,000 and half a million Kentuckians will lose health insurance in the next year because of Bevin’s new Medicaid program, which requires recipients to pay for Medicaid and for some of them to get jobs or work as volunteers. That will mean suffering and that will mean death.” The endowment effect, indeed…


“Peru’s alpine herders revive ancient technologies to face the future” [Reuters]. “With their alpine grasslands shrinking due to erratic rainfall and glacier retreat, herders in Peru’s central Andes have decided that the future lies in reviving the past. To improve access to water and save their livestock, indigenous communities in the villages of Canchayllo and Miraflores have restored abandoned dams, reservoirs and canals that date back over 3,000 years.”

“The latest cutting-edge technology changing our landscapes? Trees” [Guardian]. “Against all precedent, the Briggs planted rows of fruit trees at 21-metre gaps in their cereal fields to provide both windbreaks and alternate crops. “Our neighbours thought we were absolutely crazy,” says Stephen. His soil, however, began to stay put. They were helped in their plan by plant pathologist Martin Wolfe, who had devoted his retirement to experimenting with an innovative technique called agroforestry. The theory is fairly simple; trees are integrated into agricultural landscapes to create microclimates and shelter for animals or crops, also improving biodiversity and water and soil conservation. The trees also produce crops in their own right in the form of timber, coppicing or fruit.”

“Paul Fenn Wants to Give Your Electric Company the Boot” [Blomberg]. “Paul Fenn is a little-known consultant with an academic bent, but he may be the utility industry’s enemy No. 1. For more than 25 years he’s been pushing the idea that local communities ought to be able to set up their own power agencies to compete with established utilities. Local control, he says, can produce lower rates and greater use of renewable energy….. Fenn’s campaign is finally getting traction, especially in green-minded California. His efforts are another disruption to the nation’s once dominant utilities.”

“Black Death spread by humans, vindicating rats” [CNN]. “To understand the historic outbreak, scientists from the University of Oslo modeled the three transmission routes for the disease — rats, airborne and human fleas and lice — using mortality data for nine outbreaks that spanned the time period of the second pandemic. Their analysis found that human ectoparasites, such as fleas, reflected the death trends most accurately.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“As opioid crisis strains foster care, states aren’t tracking the damage” [Reveal News].

News of the Wired

Unintended consequences:

“Google’s art selfies aren’t available in Illinois. Here’s why.” [Chicago Tribune]. “The Google Arts & Culture app’s new feature seems to be everywhere as social media streams are flooded with photos of friends and the great works of art that resemble them — that is, nearly everywhere but Illinois. The state is one of two in the country where the Google app’s art selfie feature — which matches users’ uploaded selfies with portraits or faces depicted in works of art — is not available. Google won’t say why. But it’s likely because Illinois has one of the nation’s most strict laws on the use of biometrics, which include facial, fingerprint and iris scans.”

Yes, it is a joke:

The responses are pretty good, too.

“Map: Economic Might by U.S. Metro Area” [Visual Capitalist]. Interesting data here. Handy map:

* * *

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

Ribes aureum, Golden currant.

* * *

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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. Scott

    The EIA still publishes interesting articles (many of which are later reported by news organizations). Today’s article is about US fossil fuel production reaching an all-time times in 2018 and 2019.


    The increase of course began under Obama is is primarily related to fracking. Coal consumption appears to be at the same levels as in 1950, when it was still used for railroads and heating, as well as power.

  2. allan

    The Senate just passed S. 139 the Gut and Butcher the Fourth Amendment FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act
    by a vote of 65-34 (with McCain not present). Here is the roll call vote.
    And here is yesterday’s vote on cloture that allowed today’s vote to take place, pushed over the top by 18 #Resistxs.

    Finally, the Dems have a platform for 2018 and 2020: Total information awareness.
    Also too, A glide path to access to competitive health care market consumer experiences.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Feinstein and Schumer voted to support our spooks.

      After all the intel community has done to show they’re with her, one wonders about ingrate ‘nay’ Democrats such as Ron Wyden with their archaic notions of ‘civil liberties.’ /sarc

      We don’t need no constitution
      We don’t need no spy control

      1. allan

        An (undocumented) rumor that I saw on Twitter is that Kamala Harris, who voted Nay today,
        held off voting during Tuesday’s cloture vote until the last instant, just after Claire McCaskill
        provided the 60th vote to push it over the top.
        The implication being that Harris was being held holding herself
        in reserve just in case a Yay was needed for cloture,
        after which she would be free to signal her virtue in today’s vote.

        1. Jason Boxman

          I’ve always assumed that this behavior is pretty common, depending on who needs to signal virtue at any particular time. I consider the Democrat party as a whole entirely discredited and illegitimate.

        2. Jim Haygood

          So-called moderate [sic] Republican Susan Collins of Maine voted for the NSA Bill of Rights.

          So did Flake Jeff Flake — the upset little boy who’s leaving the Senate because Trump called him a flake — when he had no electoral reason for doing so.

          I know everything
          Everything you do, everywhere you go, everyone you know
          I know the dream that you’re dreaming of
          I know the word that you long to hear
          I know your deepest secret fear

          — The Doors, inspired by Anaïs Nin, A Spy in the House of Love

          1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

            “Where have you been?
            It’s all right, we know where you’ve been!”
            P. Floyd 1975

            1. RWood

              Good morning Mister Blue, we’ve got our eyes on you.
              The evidence is clear, that you’ve been scheming.

              Mr. Blue by Tom Paxton
              rendered by Clear Light

        3. grayslady

          That’s a classic Obama move. Those who thought Obama was a leftist could never figure out why Obama always had his finger to the wind on critical votes. This is a major tell for Harris’s politics.She’s just Obama in a skirt.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Boggles the mind, Democrat votes putting warrantless surveillance powers for Senile Hitler, the Russian Puppet, over the top. Thoughts that occur:

        1) Trump is not, as previously claimed, a fascist;

        2) Both Democrats and Trump are fascists;

        3) Democrats do whatever the intelligence community wants.

        Of course, there’s some overlap between #2 and #3. And one can only wonder what the intelligence community will do to return the favor.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I tried, twice, to post something about this on Salon yesterday, and my comment mysteriously never appeared. In particular, I was dinging them about not reporting it.

          Normally, if they remove something they leave a marker. This was just nothing, so I can’t honestly tell whether it was censorship or an all-day glitch that affected only me. TBF, their comment system is very glitchy indeed – it’s basically Facebook.

          1. hunkerdown

            Salon shadowbanned me during the 2016 primary season for professing disinterest in supplying free focus group testing for the Democrat party line. I’m gonna vote censorship.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Digby writes for Salon. Perhaps she taught the Salonians all about the joys of ghosting and shadowbanning.

        2. a different chris

          The intelligence community will continue to not expose their sad little lives.

          Interesting that Kevin Spacey was playing a Democrat.

        3. JTMcPhee

          Have we all forgotten that wonderful word, “kayfabe”? Isn’t that what so much of the pretense of “republic” comes down to these days? (I typed “republic” without the “l”, quickly corrected it, but maybe, given the flux of fevered attention to gro!n-ism that is the au courant manifestation of “democracy in action,” maybe it would have been wittier if left as drafted…

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Sometimes I forget that with “any stick to beat a dog” “any” means “any.” Supposedly serious topics like racism, sexism, fascism are all fair game. What a time to be alive.

  3. Wukchumni

    “The latest cutting-edge technology changing our landscapes? Trees” [Guardian].

    Over 3 billion trees were planted by the CCC in the 30’s & 40’s as windbreaks and also to keep the soil in place, as FDR was especially interested in forest conservation from an early age, and obviously expanded upon it greatly.

    Here on the all cats and no cattle ranch, my plan has been to replace native trees that expired on account of the drought with fruit trees in their stead-apples in particular, as they are the longest lasting fruit tree with lifespans longer than a human bean. After the new hires go in the ground next month, I think i’ll be up to 83, almost all of them different.

    1. Lee

      I’m assuming you’re familiar with the apple trees at Curry Village in Yosemite Valley. They’re about 150 years old now. A black bear chased me up one of them during my misspent youth. They persist in spite of being untended since long before I first set eyes on them in the 60s.

      1. Wukchumni

        Yes, i’m aware of the apple trees in Yosemite, some want to get rid of them as they are certainly a bear attraction, but they’re ‘historical’, so a no-go. Long may they live!

        1. Mel

          I was up one of those trees when a bear started up the same one. Possibly the most classic look of contempt ever…

      2. Lyle

        Or there is an orchard in Capital Reef National Park planted by settlers in the 1880s that is still going strong as well. It is now maintained by the park service, but probably was not maintained by anyone for a while.

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        …and rotting barns, barely roofed, awaiting their time to collapse in upon whomever braves their dangers to venture inside and collect the farmers forgotten detritus.

        Or, if noone dares, so shall they end in moss and mud and rusty flakes.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        And forsythia. I still remember driving along one afternoon and passing an abandoned farmhouse that was engulfed in a mass of sun-colored flowers.

    2. Mark Gisleson

      Always glad to see more tree planting but most grain producers simply need to switch to “covered” acres, i.e., abandoning their plows, discs and harrows and simply leaving everything but the grain in the field. New improved planters punch the seed into the ground through the clutter. Soil becomes less compacted and retains water much better than non-covered acres.

      In a drought year my brother still had 100-bushel corn while the neighbor across the road who farmed traditionally had 5-bushel corn (good yields nowadays are north of 200 bushels an acre).

      1. redleg

        My farming friends who do not till claim that switching to no-till cut their fuel costs by 80%, and tractor use by 50%. Being in the water industry, I have only heard about the soil, water, and chemical advantages of no-till farming. Not a peep about fuel, or reduced machinery maintenance expenses.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Farmers chained to Monsanto’s juggernaut wheels have discovered that the corn stubble from Big M’s modified Roundup-Ready product is costing them still more, in replacement tractor tires. The stubble is so “tough” that it rips ordinary tires to shreds: https://duckduckgo.com/l/?kh=-1&uddg=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.organicconsumers.org%2Fnews%2Fkevlar-finds-new-use-protecting-tractors-tires-gmo-cornstalks A boost for Kevlar sales, adds to GDP, Hooray! A real improvement from that particular “slow AI” creature, MonsantoBayer.

          Of course there were investment opportunities in the merger that made that Super Supranational: http://velociraptor.cc/blog/2017/03/06/merger-arbitrage-with-monsanto-mon-and-general-electric-put-ge/

  4. marym

    Indivisible vs …… Dems? Is this is a positive sign?

    The page includes a summary of the FISA “702” surveillance issues, links to House and Senate vote roll calls, and scripts to call Congress members to protest the Yes voters or commend the No’s. The former even has a weak reference to considering this as a factor voting for their re-election.

  5. mcdee

    “Twitter may alert users to Russian propaganda.” Sounds familiar. In 1950 a little book came out called “Red Channels” It’s purpose was to alert people to the extent of communist propaganda on radio and television. These days it’s social media instead of radio and tv but the hysteria is the same.

    1. Dikaios Logos

      If they can alert users to Russian propaganda, shouldn’t they be able to do the same with other forms of propaganda? I’d love to get alerted when I get DNC propaganda, RNC propaganda, and of course, pro-bank propaganda.

      1. Stephen Gardner

        Ah, but there is the rub. In the minds of our rulers there is no such thing as DNC, RNC, or pro-bank propaganda. These are, in their view, legitimate views that are shared with the good citizens through use of our propaganda nozzles like the NYT and the POST. The DNC and RNC are just different avatars of the same pro-bank, pro-war, anti-US-people party.

  6. Jim Haygood

    Another plank of our fictional bill of rights falls, as the US Senate votes 65 to 34 to reauthorize Section 702 FISA surveillance program through 2023; the bill now goes to Trump to sign. Judge Nap explains how bad this is:

    The FISA amendments purport to make bulk surveillance on all Americans lawful. At present, it is lawful only because the FISC has authorized it.

    These amendments would permit the FBI and any American prosecutor or law enforcement agency — federal, state or local — to sweep into the NSA’s databases, ostensibly looking for evidence of crime.

    Amendment IV, which guarantees privacy in our persons, houses, papers and effects, would be gutted by the very officeholders who swore an oath to preserve, protect and defend it.

    Elites in the federal government and the deep state — the parts of the government that are unauthorized by the constitution and that operate in the dark — have formed a consensus that marches the might of the government toward total Orwellian surveillance.

    This is a march that will be nearly impossible to stop. This is the permanent destruction of the right to privacy. This is the exaltation of safety over liberty, and it will lead to neither. This is the undoing of limited government, right before our eyes.


    Welcome to our stately panopticon, which makes the Cheka, Stasi and SAVAK look like fuzzy-cheeked boy scouts. Democrats: “And we helped!” [see allan’s roll-call vote posted above]

  7. Plenue

    >“Black Death spread by humans, vindicating rats” [CNN].

    I recall reading once about how, far from being filled with stinking, dirty peasants who never bathed, medieval Europe was big on continuing to use the communal baths the Romans left behind. It was the plague that broke this habit.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One of the worst pandemics in human history, the Black Death, along with a string of plague outbreaks that occurred during the 14th to 19th centuries, was spread by human fleas and body lice, a new study suggests.

      It’s a suggestion. Stronger than a guess, but still…

      To understand the historic outbreak, scientists from the University of Oslo modeled the three transmission routes for the disease — rats, airborne and human fleas and lice — using mortality data for nine outbreaks that spanned the time period of the second pandemic.

      The article doesn’t explain how they differentiate among the 3 routes from mortality data.

  8. Henry Moon Pie

    Re: “Kentucky Death,”

    Tell me why some collective action wouldn’t succeed in forcing Kentucky’s inhumane rulers to reverse this terrible policy, to wit: all Kentucky doctors go on strike except for emergency cases.

    1. a different chris

      You don’t get collective action from the upper classes unless there is really something in it for them. (And collective action by anybody but said bourgeois almost never seems to work, But you already know that)

    2. edmondo

      I have a better question: Why do Kentuckians keep voting for these people?

      Blevin told them he was going to wipe out KYnectCare and he did exactly as he promised. Why did so many people who depended on it vote for him?

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      Because applying workfare to Medicaid is simply an extension of Bill Clinton’s “welfare reform,” which as we all know was necessary to ensure the “dignity” of people who needed the money and other support by giving them “meaningful work.” Politicians and neoliberals love that term “meaningful work.”

      1. redleg

        I suggest that those pushing for this policy be the ones who train and supervise these meaningful workers.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          They are: the $ instead of going to the neediest go to $40-60k jobs for the bureaucracy required to manage the program.

  9. Darius

    Just the knowledge that the Awesome Demigod is building his library in their neighborhood should be enough for Chicago south siders. Any impact they suffer is a small price to pay. Just ask Obama’s legion of devoted groupies.

  10. Left in Wisconsin

    “Imagining a World Without NAFTA” [Oxford Economics].

    I didn’t recognize the author of this piece but it is the same old disinformation – as if it was states that export as opposed to companies. The fact that states with manufacturing exports to Mexico are mostly manufacturing states (Midwest and South) confirms what we all know about NAFTA – manufacturing companies move whatever work they can to Mexico, which further integrates supply chains and shows up as more “exports” to Mexico – of intermediate parts that are included in products immediately exported back to the US, or elsewhere.

    More BS in this piece:

    The second myth emanates from a popular belief that free trade is a job killer and that it is the main factor behind the decimation of our traditional manufacturing employment base. Technology and automation are the true culprits disconnecting output and employment — not globalization.

    1. Summer

      It’s insulting BS. Desperate BS.
      Back in the days of newsrooms, if that trifling propagandist worked at one and the newsrooms all had moved overseas, he wouldn’t blame tech and automation.

    2. a different chris

      Bet the same (fill in your theory here*) person has or will write things claiming that automation doesn’t cost jobs either. And the statement itself is mind-boggling, as, you know, “technology” and “automation” predate our grandfathers. Still not sure that steam power wasn’t more disruptive than anything we’ve seen before or since.

      *could be a (family blog) head, or could be somebody desperate to please his masters no matter what he actually thinks, who can tell?

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I don’t know about North Dakota’s dependency on NAFTA [pipelines come to mind] but as for Vermont what does NAFTA do for Vermont? It didn’t help the Vermont maple syrup industry and I have no idea how it affected Cabot Cheese or hardwood lumber sales but it sure seemed to me that a lot of the Canadian support for Vermont was in the form of tourism. What are the NAFTA ties between Vermont and Canada? If concern for Vermont were high on somebody’s radar they might better re-open the International border for easier crossings and improve the AMTRAK lines between NYC, Burlington, and Montreal than worry about NAFTA. It was my impression that Vermont catered to a lot of Canadian tourists coming down to enjoy the cheaper beer and the fine restaurants and cuisine which often supported top caliber chefs from Montreal. Where doe NAFTA come into things? The Oxford Economics link seemed vague on that point as a did CNN.

      1. Stillfeelinthebern

        I sell a unique consumer product. Wholesale and retail. Sending it to Canada cost 3-4x what it cost to send it a comparable distance in the USA. It’s my understanding from my Canadian customers that this is all customs related. This is always a big issue for my customers. I’d have much more retail biz if this cost was more reasonable. If my wholesale customers are near the border, they have a US PO box and I send there.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          NAFTA is in effect now. I don’t know what unique product you sell but will the customs you pay be affected if NAFTA is rescinded? Also — if the product is unique how does it compete with Canadian products? Usually — at least to my imagination — tariffs are related to protecting existing or nurtured businesses — for example there is no tariff on cut gems coming into the U.S. because such gem cutting as we do here is on a very small scale.

          Out of curiosity — if Canadian customers represent a large part of your customer base — why don’t you have an outlet producing in Canada? With NAFTA you might be able to sell for less in the U.S. through your Canadian outlet. What’s the skinny — since in truth I do not know nor claim to know?

          1. cnchal

            On most products there are no tariffs or duties, if the product is made in Canada, the US or Mexico.

            The carriers charge for clearing customs, even though no duties are levied, for filing paperwork electronically with either CBP, Canada Customs or Mexican customs depending on which border is being crossed and which way the product is going.

            Canadian softwood lumber is always a sticking point, and there are limits to how much the US will allow in, and once the quota is reached some duties are due on the excess. These trade actions are brought by US lumber producers complaining about Canadian subsidies to the softwood lumber industries, but manufactured goods are mostly left alone, Bombardier jets excepted.

            NAFTA originally was between just the US and Canada, Mexico was added several years later, 1994 If memory serves me correctly. One of the selling points and a pure con jawb by the elites in retrospect, was that Mexican labor would see an increase in wages to roughly equal to everyone else in North America after an unspecified time period. This was used to mollify US and Canadian labor, and ram the agreement through.

            We know how that turned out after two plus decades. Juanita and Enrico live in a 10 X 15 foot cinder block box and work for the big conglomerates in a prison like work zone for a couple of bucks an hour. Total exploitation, and Mexican labor would get roughed up by their government, at the insistence of the big conglomerates, if they started demanding better pay and working conditions. So, some Mexicans have jawbs, but no money, nor a place to put anything they can’t buy anyhow, and American and Canadian labor lost those jawbs, and now have no money either.

            Globalization, no matter where one cares to look is a disaster.

        2. cnchal

          . . . Sending it to Canada cost 3-4x what it cost to send it a comparable distance in the USA.

          The reverse is even worse, and shipping within Canada is absurd.

  11. Fox Blew

    Hey Lambert!

    FYI – The Canadian labour movement is going through (another) crisis:


    But “this time it’s different”. Well, a little different. Unifor – especially their President
    Jerry Dias – has the ear of Canada’s NAFTA delegation. This makes sense as Unifor is
    made up of Canada’s auto workers, among others. AND the crisis appears to be coloured by nationalism, right or wrong. Either way, it will be a story to follow up here.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      That is very interesting. I wonder if Unifor is complaining about the Steelworkers (whose long-time president is Canadian ironically). More proof that globalization does not lead directly to international labor solidarity when existing union structures are, at least for now, irretrievably national.

      I came to the UAW in 1985, right after the Canadians had left. In the pre-globalization days (up to 1982) the UAW negotiated the exact same contract (at least with regard to wages – exactly the same nominal wages) with the Big 3 in Canada as in the US. By 1982, exchange rate differentials (and a sane health care system) had made Canada more competitive than the U.S. and the Japanese were beginning to blow the doors off, so the U.S.-dominated union was negotiating concessions (again) when the Canadians wanted wage increases. Same deal once more in 1984, so the Canadians left.

      Seems like not much has improved.

  12. Left in Wisconsin

    “Wisconsin Upset Raises Hopes for Democrats in 2018 Races” [New York Times].

    Hilariously, the election results yesterday in the local rag were buried in the back of Section B. Only when the national press perked up did the local press realize they had missed the story and brought it to page 1 today.

    I think it’s hard to read too much into a low-turnout special election, except that many Dems are hyper-motivated. Scott Walker sees this, so he has opted not to schedule special elections in the two other State Senate seats opened up by recent appointments to his cabinet, even though state law says you are supposed to. (We have a “strong governor” government here in Wisconsin.)

    ASAIK, nothing about this election suggests the state Democratic Party has improved in any way. Others closer to the scene many know better.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Democrats deserve more future wins without having to improve in any way…because it’s ‘their turn.’

      Before this, similarly, we were told of the prophecy ‘it’s her turn.’

    2. Mark Gisleson

      In SE MN now, but I try to follow Wisconsin politics. It’s not easy given the crappy in-state media coverage. Even Madison.com (liberal compared to the Milwaukee JS) doesn’t mention Schachtner’s name until the FIFTH paragraph [http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/democratic-senate-race-win-in-northwest-wisconsin-sends-political-shock/article_d8a0aa97-ad29-5172-bf63-619661cfd5ea.html]. To be fair, she is mentioned in a picture caption but it’s hardly 5Ws journalism.

      A mom won her son’s seat back. That’s a dynamic that works in rural areas which are not anti-woman in any respect right up until you try to ‘educate’ them on why they’re bad, sexist people. Patty Schachtner ran a smart campaign, which is to say that she didn’t insult her constituents or engage in name calling.

      Randy Bryce would do well to learn from Schachtner. His twitterstream is loaded with cheap shots and insults which do not age well with economically stressed out SE Wisconsonians. (Essentially he’s telling them how bad Ryan is in ways that implicitly suggest they were morons for having previously voted for him, a good strategy for eliciting ‘My candidate, right or wrong!’ responses.)

    3. Reify99

      What it may indicate is that the people are seeing something. The Democrats can remain
      legends in their own minds…….
      Our strongest congress members Pocan and Tammy Baldwin are really purple.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        I think Pocan is about as good as it gets in Congress, not remotely purple, but then he gets virtually nothing done. Baldwin has many good positions but her early support for HRC suggests a lot of that (i.e. single payer) is just posturing. Hey, she got us those F-35s!

  13. dan

    Re: AT&T being urged to cut commercial ties to Huawei

    now that’s something not likely to invoke a little tit-for-tat backlash…

  14. Swamp Yankee

    Matt Bai is what happens when you take a bland careerist non-entity, stew for decades in a broth of Both Siderism (a la’ Broder) with a strong helping of servile Markt Uber Alles ideology, and add a twist of credentialed 10%er clueslessness and solipsism.

    Bai I suppose thinks that Social Security and the GI Bill are “dated and simplistic” — when of course, it is the neoliberal Rube Goldberg fail-schemes that are actually dated, today, in 2018; and my goodness! wonky “complexity” has made Obamacare such an overnight success…..

    Reading our liberal media elites through the lens of their naked personal and class self-interest is the simplest explanation, I’m afraid.

    1. Darius

      Another Jonathan Chait. I’m sure Bai would take that as a compliment. A professional-class darling.

    2. Daryl

      It’s telling that “simplistic” is an insult to these people. As Lambert & NC commentators often observe, complexity is a mechanism they use for grifting.

      I recently was listening to FDR’s first “fireside chat” (maybe it was posted here, maybe elsewhere). First thing he did was to outline, in about ten minutes, how the banking system operated, how it lead to bank runs, and how they were fixing it. Mainstream Democrats cannot offer something equivalent because they are beholden to corporate donors, thus they fall back on deriding simple solutions as “simplistic” or even, god forbid, Populist.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Complexity is the best all-around cover a con man ever had.

        ” New and Improved! Now with 5% more blockchain!”

  15. Summer

    “The Arts: If your business depends on a platform, you don’t have a business.”

    Looking through those stories on The Arts: YouTube, the bassist, Patreon….it looks like the business of the artist is no longer their art – it’s promoting platforms. Also, a good reason the platforms aren’t all they are cracked up to be is that they take all hobbyists. The platform that says “NO!” to more “artists” than it accepts may also be needed, but the online cons are about making as much money off as many deluded suckers as fast as they can.

  16. Arizona Slim

    Yes, foreclosures are still happening in this, the best economy evah.

    One of my real estate agent friends specializes in foreclosed properties. Business is brisk.

    1. Summer

      I was curious about all the public records screwed up by MERS. Or was that just thrown in the buyer beware column?

      I also remember it being said that banks held empty foreclosures off the market. How deep does that still go?

      The AmeriCON Dream?
      (best econony ever…)

  17. Lee

    “Wisconsin Upset Raises Hopes for Democrats in 2018 Races” [New York Times]….

    I’m guessing some voters will keep voting against incumbents and their hand-picked successors of either major party until somebody they elect gets it right. Who knows? Maybe it will work at some point.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      The Dems seem more than a little hysterical here. One statehouse seat that was Democrat less than a generation ago swings back to the Dems and it’s cause for national headlines?

      As the sports veterans say to those youngsters who celebrate touchdowns when their team is down by 35 points – act like you’ve been there before.

    1. Summer

      It’s insulting BS. Desperate BS.
      Back in the days of newsrooms, if that trifling propagandist worked at one and the newsrooms all had moved overseas, he wouldn’t blame tech and automation.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A really forward looking technology giant would probably want a 2nd HQ on, say, Mars.

        If not, it might just expose them as technologically incompetent.

        1. Summer

          How much would that cost the nation?
          Not like they are going to spend their trillions in profits on a long term plan without being subsidized.
          I know you don’t buy the “risk taker” Kool-Aid.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Well, if they locate themselves on, say, Haley’s Comet, then we will only have to see them once every 75 to 76 years.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Also, a curious person might ask, shouldn’t the federal government also have a 2nd HQ?

        1. Summer

          I’m going with my gut and saying the other planets aren’t inhabited yet.
          That would be a new one…going somewhere without killing the living beings already there.

  18. John

    If our government gets to spy on us, why not the Chinese? ATT could sell itself to the Chinese. And then just skim money for branding rights. The ultimate neoliberal dream…get paid for not providing any service. We could even outsource FIOS to the Chinese. Rural Merikan sh*tholes could then get broadband. And the skim would probably be less than with Verizon and the other Bezzle Telescams.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps the Chinese are not interested in spying on us, but spying on our government.

  19. lyman alpha blob

    Leftists like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are nowhere near Trump when it comes to sheer depravity and ignorance, but they are just as capable of offering simplistic and dated answers for modern problems.

    But it was OK when statusquObama offered vague platitudes like hope and change? And then when Clinton simultaneously tried to attach herself to Barry’s ‘legacy’ while telling us not to get our hopes up as incremental improvements were the best we deplorables should expect?

    And yet they wonder why the Democrat party’s approval ratings are in the toilet.

    Vote Democrat – it’s the American Standard!

  20. Jim Haygood

    Thanks to a run-up in crude oil that began in December, our RuSI (Russia Saudi Iran) index, despite being nearly bereft of tech stocks, is holding its own against America’s euphoric S&P 500. Chart:


    Petrolistan is on a roll.

  21. Oregoncharles

    Let me sing the praises of Golden Currant:

    Those flowers smell, strongly, of clove. Heavenly.

    It produces excellent black currants.

    The leaves turn spectacular shades of red and purple in the fall.

    The recommended variety (a selection) is called Crandall odorata. Seedlings are good, but not as good.

    The shrub grows 3 or 4 feet tall, spreads slowly in the ground. Probably appreciates drainage, but if it’ll grow in our heavy clay, it’ll grow most places. Very hardy; from the Great Plains.

    I recommend it highly.

    1. FreeMarketApologist

      Ribes odoratum ‘Crandall’. Gotta have a boy and a girl plant if you want fruit, and may be banned in your area as it harbors white pine blister rust. But yes, very attractive plant.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Crandall is a single clone, and fruits. I don’t think they’re gendered.

        We don’t have white pines, so wouldn’t worry about that. Probably not a problem in its native range, the Great Plains, either.

      1. Harold

        They used to say it was a vector for white pine blister rust and shouldn’t be planted. Don’t know it that still holds.

        1. Oregoncharles

          You’d have to check locally, but I think they decided that Ribes aureum is not a vector. I wouldn’t know – no white pines.

  22. Kevin

    Regarding Gov. Bevins; “..placing restrictions will give recipients dignity and self-respect”

    Once again, the George Constanza principle comes into play. Whatever our ruling class says – take it as the exact opposite.

    1. Summer

      Yeah, but the people of Kentucky are going to have to find a way to track the deaths and get the word out. Or many will die.

    2. Wukchumni

      Kentucky has quite a lead in the race to the bottom, but I feel there’ll be other states that contest their lack of empathy for their citizenry, by even more draconian actions.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        States with better standards and approaches will have to insist on multi-year residency requirements for immigrants from race-to-the-bottom states to qualify for those better-state standards and approaches, or else be drowned by floods of race-to-the-bottom exiles and refugees who will sink the better states down to the same bottom.

  23. winstonsmith

    Reports of Ponzi schemes and manipulations may actually encourage bitheads and obscure the fundamental scam: you can put dollars in but you can’t get dollars out. In other words, they don’t mind if you think it’s shady and you can only make money if you are sufficiently early to the party or deep in the pump and dump loop (because you will believe you are), but the truth is that even if you win, converting your winnings in bitcoin (or whatever) into US dollars that you can put in the bank in large amounts is a very iffy proposition. The exchanges don’t want to let go of the money and banks (because of anti-money laundering regulations) don’t want to take it.

  24. Wukchumni

    “Peru’s alpine herders revive ancient technologies to face the future” [Reuters]. “With their alpine grasslands shrinking due to erratic rainfall and glacier retreat, herders in Peru’s central Andes have decided that the future lies in reviving the past. To improve access to water and save their livestock, indigenous communities in the villages of Canchayllo and Miraflores have restored abandoned dams, reservoirs and canals that date back over 3,000 years.”

    We could do the same thing with Phoenix, if they hadn’t paved it over.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Sources…to (family blog) hell with sources…we aint got no sources…in fact, we don’t need any sources…i dont have to have any stinken sources you (family blog) (family blog) y (family blog) tu madre…

      Here we come…walkin down the street…we’re the funniest…

  25. Jim Haygood

    California prepares for invasion by black-clad federal troops:

    Just hours after the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to end any cooperation with agents from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Mayor Libby Schaaf said Wednesday she would go to jail if needed in her opposition to ICE raids.

    “It is no surprise that the bully in chief is continuing to try to intimidate our most vulnerable residents,” said Schaaf, referring to President Donald Trump.

    Schaaf’s remarks came on a day when rumors were swirling that ICE planned to launch a series of Bay Area raids — arresting as many as 1,500 illegal aliens — because California has become a sanctuary state.

    When asked if she were willing to go to jail to defend those policies, Schaaf answered emphatically “Yes!”


    Confronting California on its sanctuary state policy is an excellent way to escalate secessionist sentiment.

    California libre!

  26. dcblogger

    reminder that Al From gave us the government shut down:

    The first was the Budget Act, which created the modern way that Congress spends money. Prior to the Budget Act, the Appropriations Committees simply spent a bunch of money, and the revenue committees (Ways and Means in the House, Finance in the Senate) brought in a bunch of tax revenue, with no overall planning to match up the two numbers or set priorities. The Budget Act created a Budget Committee, which forced the two committees to work together under broad government-wide caps. This institutional change made it harder to spend money on social programs, and has been used to implemented austerity policies for decades. Muskie reformed the process by which the government spent money, and in doing so, plugged up the mechanism that had been used by liberals to finance their government programs. It was a straight anti-New Deal institutional innovation.


  27. fresno dan

    Porn Hub and the Hawaii missile alert traffic.

    So….impending nuclear annihilation has an adverse impact upon porn viewership – who’d have thunk it? If anything, I would have thought…that viewership immediately preceding a nuclear attack would have…uh, swelled and stiffened…..its not like you can go anywhere
    But once the all clear sounded, it looked like people celebrated by immediately checking porn and launching their own mini minute men missiles…..

    1. fresno dan

      I don’t know how many times skynet delays my comments about medicare or economic variables with not a jot or tittle of naughty innuendo, but talk about porn gets posted at light speed…….go figure

  28. Big River Bandido

    Wow, so many excellent nuggets today…

    The Twit from the socialist fixing the neighbor’s frozen pipes, coupled with the piece on CCAs, are a great couplet on positive action directed at companies and institutions which have engendered great hostility among the public. The CCA strikes me as particularly potent: first, it uses a powerful, concrete issue — utility bills — to build not only a democratically-controlled alternative, but a lasting politics. These types of initiatives depend on building a broad bases of support in local communities. A community that can build such an agency could tackle other, even bigger problems. Second, the choice of bogeyman is so perfect: gas and electric companies. Because who really loves their electric company, after all? What if this strategy could be applied to, say, broadband access? Insurance companies? Airlines? Banks? Because people *love* their banks so much. /s

    So, the telemarketing scammer was apprehended at the Bill and Hillary Clinton Airport? Cosmic poetry.

    Lastly, about the story of Gutierrez and Schakowsky endorsing Marie Newman…this is the first I’d heard that Lipinski had a primary challenge. This is a good thing, but based on this article (caveat: it’s the only thing I’ve read on the race) I’d say it won’t amount to much. Perhaps it’s more the bias of the writer or the outlet rather than the incompetency of the candidate and her associates, but I noted painfully that economics and class were only mentioned once in the article — and it was Lipinski who brought them up. There’s plenty of economic rope that could be used to hang Lipinski. If that’s really how Newman is going to play, I’d give Lipinski 4:1 odds.

  29. The Rev Kev

    “Hillary Clinton Could Still Become President if Russia Probe Finds Conspiracy Evidence”

    After mature reflection and consideration of the facts that this article is based on, I have only one comment – Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

    1. DJG

      The Rev Kev: and this paragaph is especially likely:
      –Given that there is “no mechanism in American law for a new election,” nor “a mechanism for correcting the criminal results of the previous election,” Ryan ought to nominate “the person defeated by the treason of his own party, and then step aside, and let her become President,” Lessig went on to say.–

      I know that you aren’t a U.S. citizen, but will you believe me if I tell you that the U.S. doesn’t haven’t pageant rules so that if Mister Universe is incapacitated Miss Ever Runner Up gets the tiara?

      Whether or not the Constitution of the United States contributed to this crisis, it would sure help if Lessig knew something about the U.S. Constitution.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Naw! Lessig is just confusing his fantasies with the real world and we all of us know how well that works out. Consider this. For that scenario to work out, several top Republicans would have to step up and admit to charges of espionage and treason against the United States.
        Then, instead of how the past year of having all these collusion charges based on no evidence at all, the fantasy would be that Democrats would be holding treason trials against Republicans for the next several years which would turn them toxic at the voting booths.
        Sigh! I sometimes think that it would be easier to tell people like Lessig that they are right and that they are going to have a re-do of the 2016 elections. And that this re-do is scheduled for 2020.

  30. allan

    Mulvaney requests ‘zero’ money for CFPB [American Banker]

    Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Mick Mulvaney has requested “zero” funding from the Federal Reserve in the second quarter and instead will use reserves to fund the agency.

    Mulvaney sent a letter Wednesday to Fed Chair Janet Yellen stating that the CFPB already has $177 million in reserve, enough to cover its $145 million second-quarter budget, and therefore it does not need any funding. …

    Mulvaney’s move is the third significant decision in as many days. He announced Tuesday he would reopen the payday lending rule and on Wednesday said he would open up all activities of the bureau to public comment. [which he will treat as seriously as Ryan Zinke treats public comments at Interior.]

    As hard as it is to believe, all four comments at American Banker support Mulvaney’s action.

    Grover Norquist approves of this message. As do Rent2Own, GetUrRefundNow.com and Wells Fargo.

  31. Steely Glint

    Perhaps off topic, but since it is tax filing time again, a warning. In my opinion, nothing to do with tax collection should be privatized as I have fielded too many calls from bogus “tax collectors” (much as Lambert’s call for paper ballots, instead of privatized ballot count). When we talk about guaranteed income, perhaps we should talk about a job for the IRS.

    1. Steely Glint

      Since Lambert mentioned Philip K. Dicks recently, may I introduce the late, great, Iain Banks, and his wonderful AI ships, of which Steely Glint is just one. If you want a giggle just google Iain Banks, culture names, ships. If you are new to Banks, start with Player of Games, or Consider Phlebos

  32. allan

    Trouble in SEALand:

    1. Trump appointee Carl Higbie resigns as public face of agency that runs AmeriCorps after KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments on the radio [CNN]

    Trump administration appointee Carl Higbie resigned Thursday as chief of external affairs for the federal government’s volunteer service organization after a CNN KFile review of racist, sexist, anti-Muslim and anti-LGBT comments he made on the radio. …

    Higbie, a former Navy SEAL and conservative media personality, was a surrogate for Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign …

    2. Missouri governor, former Navy SEAL fighting for political life after affair [Stars and Stripes]

    [redacted because family blog]

    3. Founding a sleazy sleazy 501-c-(4) GOP front group to accuse Obama of taking too much credit for offing OBL,
    when everybody knows that Sean Hannity was point.

    4. Ryan Zinke doesn’t even know how to fish.

    Rather than worrying about sailors not knowing how to steer and navigate,
    shouldn’t the Navy be asking what’s in the water at Coronado?

  33. Stillfeelinthebern


    A good article on the #10 Senate race in Wisconsin. Many interesting points, like AFP endorsement and participation, all which should favor the Rep. Low turnout elections in WI always favor Reps, they turn out their voters. So the Dems did good on that one. Since last summer, the state Dem party has had organizers on the ground, surely this also helped, when the race came up quickly, there were experienced bodies to help. This district is called the “northern” Waukesha, which is the reddist area in the Milwaukee metro area. The swing from the 2016 election was 27%. That’s impressive.

    Also there was a second election in Washington County, another deep red area. The Dem candidate there got 43%. That was a 25% swing from 2016. There is some significance to all of this.

    My take? I spent the summer talking to voters. Their number one frustration is all the partisanship and name calling and nothing getting done. Most of these voters called themselves independents. Was an interesting experience listening to them. I believe Patty ran a positive campaign about what matters to people. If Wis Dems can keep that up, we might have a wave. Unfortunately, the state party can’t do a release without mentioning the Guv. All they do is rag on him, not very inspiring.

    The next race to watch will be the Supreme Court primary. Two good progressive candidates and one conservative. On Feb 20, one person gets eliminated. A real shake up would be if that is the conservative candidate. Since it is the only race on the statewide ballot and there are very few local primaries, turn out will be low. If Dems wanted to get out and push for the two progressives, they could cause some real turmoil. Check out Tim Burns, Burnsforwisconsin.com. On Twitter @burns4wi. Would be a real progressive victory if he wins.

  34. Alex Morfesis

    Obama legacy and the mister brown quoted by the sun-times…4242 cottage grove…hmmm…headquarters of koco…of blackstone rangers fame…who helped push out the last of the Japanese community that koco attempts to claim was always historically black…

    Mister lucas of koco (when with CORE)…who purposely helped old man daley wipe his private parts with the 1966 agreement mlk had actually worked out in his Chicago campaign, but lucas chose to help trash it by ignoring it and loudly marched thru Cicero, making mlk appear unable to have his purported associates follow thru on an agreement where the ink had not even dried yet…

    To the victor go the history books..

  35. ChrisPacific

    I love the TCP/IP joke.

    For the uninitiated, TCP/IP is a guaranteed protocol (unlike UDP, which is much simpler but where you never know for sure whether the recipient got what you sent). The way this is implemented means that TCP/IP conversations are ‘chattier’ than UDP, and a lot of effort is devoted to signalling to ensure that both sides are on the same page and eliminate possible error scenarios in which one side thought the message was successfully delivered while the other didn’t (there are many ways in which this can happen, some of which are not obvious at first glance). As you can see, this process comes at some cost to efficiency.

  36. ChrisPacific

    I’m not sure why the Newsweek piece was published, especially since Lessig (in typical academic style) qualifies his statement to the point of uselessness. It’s also theoretically possible that all members of Congress and Senate might devote the next three years to learning to play the bassoon and eventually form the largest bipartisan bassoon ensemble in the world, but I don’t see a lot of point in teasing out the implications.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      delightful analogy–if only!

      yeah, Lessig is pretty dismissive of the likelihood; seems that came to him for a quote

  37. Tom Stone

    The Rule of Law was put in place to protect the wealthy and powerful from the whims of the King ( Or Tyrant).
    The fact that it protected some of the middle and lower classes as well was an unfortunate necessity.
    It’s gone.
    Which means that whoever holds the Emperors whip can take whatever they want from whomever they want and there is no recourse.
    It is going to get very ugly and very brutal indeed.
    The people who chose this path clearly haven’t read either “The Prince” or “The Discourses”.
    Insert Pastor Niemoller quote…

  38. ebbflows

    Some interesting tidbits from TJN.

    PwC Banned from India

    Professional Negligence

    The bad news for PwC doesn’t end there. On New Year’s Eve, a Federal Judge in Alabama found PwC guilty of professional negligence in their audit of Colonial Bank. During the trial PwC admitted that its audits were not designed to detect fraud – and the judge ruled that this was in breach of auditing standards.

    Doing Business – Badly

    A shock revelation from the World Bank where the Chief Economist, Paul Romer, has sugested that the institution’s flagship ‘Doing Business’ report might have been politically manipulated.
    The Doing Business report seeks to understand how easy it is to set up and maintain a business in any one given country. The bank and other institutions use the metrics to press countries for reforms. This is particularly relevant to developing countries which rely on funds from the World Bank.

    Mr Romer has said that a number of new metrics added to the report – including a metric on tax – had given a misleading picture, and their inclusion appeared to be politically motivated. The issue appears to have been particularly important to Chile, who saw their ranking decline significantly when a left-wing government took over. Their change in ranking was based entirely on the addition of new criteria.

    Who was responsible for the section of the Doing Business report on tax (called “Paying Tax”)? Our friends at PwC of course!

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