2:00PM Water Cooler 1/23/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“President Donald Trump took his first major step toward fulfilling his promises to crack down on China and other countries to protect U.S. producers when he moved Monday to slap hefty tariffs on imports of solar panels and washing machines. The decision is being seen as a prelude to coming actions on steel and aluminum imports as well as on China’s intellectual property practices — and it gives Trump a hammer to swing when touting his “America First” worldview in Davos, Switzerland, later this week” [Politico]. “But the decision to impose the tariffs, while still a boon for U.S. manufacturers, were not as extreme as they could have been. Both actions hewed closely to the recommendations of the U.S. International Trade Commission… What the decision could do is embolden other U.S. manufacturing sectors, who have not yet had the spotlight under this administration, to petition for similar measures.”



“It’s a Blue House Wave, but Not Yet a Senate One” [Inside Elections]. “Even assuming Senate seats in both Arizona and Nevada fall to Democrats — not a certainty, but more likely than not — Republicans can maintain control of the Senate by swiping a Democratic seat in West Virginia, Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota or one of the half-dozen other states carried by Donald Trump in 2016. Republicans don’t need to win all those states or most of them or even some of them. They need only one, unless another GOP-held seat comes into play. While Democratic strategists are trying to flip the House by targeting districts Hillary Clinton carried and seats where minorities, younger voters and suburbanites are anti-Trump, Senate Democratic strategists must hold on to a handful of rural, religious, conservative and very white states to have any chance of flipping the Senate. That’s quite a challenge.”

“Republicans desperately need people to focus on the fact that their tax bill passed, and that with President Obama out of office and Congress is Republican hands, businesses no longer feel under siege. Instead, they feel confident enough to hire, expand, invest and compensate their employees better, and voters shouldn’t jeopardize that by electing a Democratic Congress. The past three quarters showed economic growth of about 3 percent, and if the economy continues on this pace through the midterm elections, it is plausible that enough voters—even those who may not like President Trump or approve of much of what he says, does, or tweets—will decide that they like where the economy is enough to give Republicans the benefit of the doubt” [Cook Political Report].

“To date, 390 women are planning to run for the House of Representatives, a figure that’s higher than at any point in American history. Twenty-two of them are non-incumbent black women — for scale, there are only 18 black women in the House right now. Meanwhile, 49 women are likely to be running for the Senate, more than 68 percent higher than the number who’d announced at the same point in 2014” [Rebecca Traister, New York Magazine]. “It’s certainly true that the policies that are enacted depend on which women run and win — the country is full of Sarah Palins, not just Elizabeth Warrens. According to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics, however, so far it’s the Warrens who are getting into the game. Of the 49 women currently planning to run for the Senate (including incumbents, challengers, and those running for open spots), 31 are Democrats. Well over half of the 79 women slated to campaign for governor are Dems, as are 80 percent of the women setting their sights on the House.” Not one word on policies these candidates support in the entire article. It would be nice if the cynic in me were wrong: “The future Blue Dog is female. The article lists many of the candidates. Can readers comment/

“Democrats, give moderate GOP voters a reason to lean your way” [Neil Baron, The Hill]. But read beyond the clickbait headline: “The Democratic National Committee wants to persuade Republicans to vote for Democrats. The party’s leaders have very little credibility with Republicans, yet they want to remain the party’s spokespersons and lead it to victory. That’s unlikely to work…. Luckily for Democrats, they will get help from outside the party. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a party outsider, and is running for the Senate as an Independent in 2018, though he called himself a Democrat in 2016. He’s currently the “Democrat” with the most credibility among Republicans…. Twelve percent of those who voted for him in the primaries voted for Trump in the presidential election. It follows that those voters are more likely to listen to Bernie than top Democratic leaders — or possibly any Democrat. He frequently appears on talk shows to promote his Senate candidacy, which will be helpful to the Democrats in 2018. They should watch and learn.”

This Austin Frerick (IA-3) guy is like Jon Ossoff’s good twin:

More on Frerick from Bleeding Heartland.


“Rick Saccone, the GOP nominee in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district, is a former intelligence support consultant for the U.S. Army at the infamous Abu Ghraib prison. He has written extensively in support of interrogation tactics widely condemned by human rights experts as torture” [The Intercept]. Last I checked, George W. Bush was Commander-in-Chief when Abu Ghraib happened. But liberal Democrats rehabilitated him. So what’s the issue, here?

“Why Democrats keep winning special elections” [The Hill]. “Republicans across the country were shaken this week when Democrat Patty Schachtner won a special election in a rural Wisconsin district that President Trump won by 17 points…. Pollsters routinely measure how enthusiastic voters are about upcoming elections. This year, those surveys have found a gap between an energized Democratic base and a comparatively demoralized Republican electorate.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 U.S. Election” [Twitter]. “As previously announced, we identified and suspended a number of accounts that were potentially connected to a propaganda effort by a Russian government-linked organization known as the Internet Research Agency (IRA). Consistent with our commitment to transparency, we are emailing notifications to 677,775 people in the United States who followed one of these accounts or retweeted or liked a Tweet from these accounts during the election period. Because we have already suspended these accounts, the relevant content on Twitter is no longer publicly available.” I never got my notification! Readers, did any of you?

Government Shutdown

“[House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told us the House doesn’t feel at all bound by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) agreement with Senate Democrats to consider immigration legislation by Feb. 8. ‘March is really the timeline. … The House wasn’t part of that deal.'” [Politico]. “We asked Scalise if Graham-Durbin — the bipartisan immigration deal du jour — stands a chance, and he said ‘not in the House.’ ‘It’s good for everybody to put their ideas on paper but ultimately there are things that can and cannot pass in the House. And we have to work through those details and we’re working through them.'”

“Democrats didn’t cave on the shutdown” [Ezra Klein, Vox]. Unexpectedly giving Ezra a hearing here: Six years of CHIP is not a bad deal, especially if DACA was not there to be had.

Obama’s 2012 National Latino Vote Deputy Director:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“ActBlue Fundraising Platform Strikes Gold — for Liberals” [RealClearPolitics]. “By ActBlue’s own most-recent figures, it has been hugely successful. For 2017, the amount of money it raised from more than 16 million clicks on ‘Contribute’ to 7,892 Democratic candidates and liberal advocacy and 501 (c)(3) nonprofit groups, totaled over $522 million. That staggering total is up from nearly $207 million in 2015 – itself an impressive amount — and more than $91 million in 2013. The average contribution size was a very-‘grassrootsy’ $31.95. More than half of all donors gave for the first time in 2017, and just over 40 percent of all contributions were made from a mobile device.” Leaving the party apparatus for the squillionaires, I suppose. And the press, of course.

“Florida Takes Big Step Toward Expanding Voting Rights To Over 1.5 Million People” [HuffPo]. “Floridians will get to decide in November whether they want to amend the state constitution to automatically restore voting rights to felons once they complete their sentences, a move that could significantly expand the franchise to over 1.5 million people. Florida election officials verified Tuesday that organizers had gathered enough petitions to put the referendum on the ballot this year. Just gathering those signatures was a herculean task for the grassroots effort…. Florida’s disenfranchisement policies have roots in the Jim Crow South. After the Civil War, Congress forced Florida and other southern states to ratify the 13th and 14th amendments and to write new state constitutions guaranteeing universal male suffrage. Florida lawmakers did so, but also created criminal codes targeting black voters and then stripped people convicted of certain crimes of their right to vote.”

“The #Resistance Trump ignited will shape politics for a generation” [McClatchy]. “But the impact of the Resistance will be deeper and more significant than a single election cycle. The birth of millions of activists, many of them concentrated in cities, is remaking local elections — and will put urban politics on a new trajectory for the foreseeable future. It will reverberate, liberals say, for a generations, perhaps most of all in the leadership and approach of a Democratic Party that is now under almost as much scrutiny from the left as Trump himself.” Maybe. “Reverberate” is a neutral word with respect to policy (and class interest). And if Democrats already own the cities, what is doing to be “new” about the “trajectory”? Please forgive my skepticism; I would be very, very happy to be wrong! But this from yesterday’s Gods and Radicals haunts me: “Nearly every activist organization in the US is a Democratic front group. After all, even if they didn’t want to be, their commitment to ‘conventional activism’ demands it. When you spend your time waving signs and, perhaps, lobbying officials or supporting candidates, what’s your mechanism for enacting change? The only way you can bridge the gap between protest and power is through the support of Democratic politicians – and you can’t get that support if you won’t align with their Party. And, of course, activist groups don’t typically want to be independent in the first place. After all, their leaders and staffers are Democratic cadres. Their careers will take them across the whole extended Party structure.” Neera Tanden is a Resistance enforcer for a reason. That said, the analysis is a bit schematic; my landfill activist group spanned parties (although the “activist” groups parachuted in from out-of-state most definitely did not).

Here is a (self-reported) Google doc of Women’s March events and crowd totals [Jeremy Pressman and Erica Chenoweth].

Then again:

OK, just one tweet and two signs…

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, January 2018: “Growth of manufacturing activity in the Fifth District slowed more than analysts expected in January” [Econoday]. “Despite the moderation seen in current company conditions, manufacturing executives expressed continued optimism regarding stronger growth six months ahead.” And but: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories improved or remained the same, The internals are better than last month” [Econintersect].

Banks: “Europe’s central banks are starting to replace dollar reserves with the yuan” [Quartz]. I don’t know if I’d read too much into this; the amounts are small. More: “China still faces several hurdles in having a truly international currency. Capital controls and a lack of regulatory transparency make financial institutions reluctant to invest in Chinese assets. However, last week China showed signs that it was relaxing some of its rules used to control the currency. As the yuan gains more international clout, and value, Beijing might be emboldened to open up further.” Any currency mavens care to comment?

Commodities: “Russia to invest $250 million in uranium exploration, production in Argentina” [Mining.com]. “Russia and Argentina signed Tuesday a memorandum of understanding to advance uranium exploration and production in the South American country, which already generates 5% of its electricity with three heavy-water nuclear reactors.”

Commodities: “The owner of a pair of Philadelphia refineries has found itself cut out of the rapidly evolving global energy supply chain. Philadelphia Energy Solutions LLC affiliates filed for bankruptcy protection, blaming federal environmental regulations… But the refineries’ problems run much deeper than the cost of complying with ethanol blending rules. East Coast refineries, which mainly process oil imported from Russia, Nigeria and other foreign sources, have been undercut by competitors that have easy access to cheaper domestically produced crude. The lifting of a ban on U.S. oil exports further doomed the Philadelphia refineries” [Wall Street Journal]. I remember my first flight into Philly, back in the dot com era, coming down the Schuykill, seemingly about to brush the black and twisted pipes of the refineries with the landing gear, and seeing flames rising up from the flare stacks, and thinking “Oh. My. Lord. What have I come among?”

Retail: “Amazon says it’s trained the [Amazon Go] system to recognize subtle differences in packaging and shoppers’ unpredictable movements.The technology has the potential to accelerate a shift already underway in the retail world, where brick-and-mortar chains are shifting employees and resources from the storefront to warehouses. Still, former Amazon executives say the Amazon Go store concept would be difficult to scale up to a larger footprint” [Wall Street Journal].

Retail: “Amazon Go and the Future” [Stratechery]. Well worth a read. “In every case [of successful tech companies] a huge amount of fixed costs up front is overwhelmed by the ongoing ability to make money at scale; to put it another way, tech company combine fixed costs with marginal revenue opportunities, such that they make more money on additional customers without any corresponding rise in costs. This is clearly the goal with Amazon Go: to build out such a complex system for a single store would be foolhardy; Amazon expects the technology to be used broadly, unlocking additional revenue opportunities without any corresponding rise in fixed costs — of developing the software, that is; each new store will still require traditional fixed costs like shelving and refrigeration. That, though, is why this idea is so uniquely Amazonian.” And cashiers are marginal costs, not fixed costs.

Retail: “Amazon Would Boost the U.S. Economy by Choosing Toronto” [RealClearMarkets]. “[S]uch a move by Amazon would signal to a political class eager to control the inflow of goods, services and people that the only closed economy is the world economy. If politicians want a say about whom Amazon can recruit to work in the United States, then Amazon can reply by virtue of setting up shop outside the United States.”

Shipping: “Logistics giant DHL has introduced what it claims is an early indicator for the current state and future development of global trade” [Air Cargo News]. “The DHL Global Trade Barometer, published quarterly, is based on large amounts of logistics data from the deepsea container market that are evaluated with the help of artificial intelligence. The January 2018 barometer indicates that global trade will continue to grow within the next three months. On its initial release, the index scored 64, which is slightly below the values calculated for previous months. ‘That means that world trade is still considered to be in an expansive mode, but growth loses momentum,’ said a spokesperson for DHL.”

Shipping; “More carriers may pressure shipyards to postpone newbuild box ship deliveries” [The Loadstar]. “[ClipperMaritime consultant Neil Dekker] added that pushing back the ULCV deliveries would greatly improve the cashflow of the container lines, given that they would be able to defer their commitment to make final stage payments, which could be as much of 25% of the total cost, into the next financial year.”

Shipping: “Air freight capacity concerns prompt new forwarder strategies” [Lloyd’s Loading List]. “Reflecting concerns expressed by other freight forwarders, SEKO Logistics’ VP for marketing, Brian Bourke told Lloyd’s Loading List that despite infrastructure and cargo handling constraints at several airports recently in Europe and elsewhere, the biggest concern facing the industry was not accommodating higher volumes of air freight through the airports, where he argued there was sufficient ground handling provision in place, but a lack of aircraft capacity and lift.”

Shipping: “Federal regulators have granted the Truck Renting and Leasing Association a 90-day electronic logging device exemption for rentals not exceeding 30 days” [Transport Topics]. “The exemption took effect Jan. 19 and will last until April 19.” So not a loophole you can drive a truck through. At least not for long.

Shipping: “Tanzania suspends foreign ship registration” [Splash 247]. “Tanzanian president John Magufuli has issued an order to suspend the registration of foreign vessels in Tanzania after ships flying the Tanzanian flag were involved in drug trafficking… The country has started investigations into 470 vessels currently registered to the flag to check if their activities are above board.” Shocked, shocked!

The Bezzle: “If self-driving vehicles are to succeed, they must be able to work in all types of weather” [DC Velocity]. “Most of the current navigation systems for automated vehicles rely on road markings. Visual cameras and sensors “see” the lines to make sure the vehicles stay where they should. That might work well for trucks and cars in California, but what happens when the lines are obscured by ice and snow? For automated vehicles to be commercially viable, they must be able to travel in all kinds of weather—including the six inches of heavy white stuff we were shoveling from our driveway. Researchers in Finland understand this need and are now testing autonomous cars designed for severe weather conditions. Key to their research is linking self-driving vehicles to ‘smart roads.’ If you’re not familiar with smart roads, they are experimental roadways or sections of existing highways where sensors are either embedded in the pavement or arrayed alongside. The sensors pick up all sorts of information about the condition of the road and the traffic traveling on it.” There’s that word, “smart.” If your algo sucks, control your inputs…

Globalization: “Globalization’s decades-long winning streak appears to be over. Businesses cut back on overseas investments for a second consecutive year in 2017….. The United Nations report showed foreign direct investment, covering everything from new factories and international mergers, declined by 16% last year to $1.52 trillion” [Wall Street Journal]. “The drop is surprising in that it comes at a time when the world economy is growing, and may indicate that a backlash to globalization is having some tangible effects on where businesses choose to invest.

Globalization: “Richard Bistrong: My friend, the agent, blackmailed me” [FCPA Blog]. A cautionary tale, and a grooming process. One is reminded of how — back in the day, naturally — the price of an investment from a pension fund was a steak dinner.

Fodder for the Bulls: “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has bumped up its estimate for global gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2018 and 2019” [247 Wall Street]. The forecast did come with several warnings. The IMF’s warnings rely primarily on whether ‘we’ can set in place policies to ‘counter’ the next downturn. Since recessions are a normal, although periodic, part of the world’s economic cycle, any effort along those lines will be less than entirely successful.” I like that “we” in quotes. I thought I was the only one….

Honey for the Bears: “Economic Policy Uncertainty on the Rise” [Econbrowser]. See the post for implications. Handy chart:

Five Horsemen: “Amazon blows the top off the chart again, as Microsoft and Alphabet chase it in second and third place” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jan 23 2018

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 78 Extreme Greed (previous close: 79, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 66 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jan 23 at 11:50am.

Health Care

“Making Medicaid a Tool for Moral Education May Let Some Die” [Eduardo Porter, New York Times].”[Kentucky’s Medicaid] initiative is, of course, not about saving the state money by pushing poor people off the insurance rolls. It is providing moral education. In the words of Gov. Matt Bevin, the HEALTH plan will free Kentuckians from the “dead-end entitlement trap” and give them “a path forward and upward” so they can fend for themselves.” As do means-testing and eligibility requirements, much beloved of liberal Democrats. The way to avoid creating second-class citizens and letting them die is universal concrete material benefits. Since he doesn’t support them, Porter is shedding crococile tears.


A moment of sanity from Paul Krugman?

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Deaths of despair redux: a response to Christopher Ruhm” (PDF) [Anne Case and Angus Deaton]. Important, but and an oddlly limited view of “economics.”

Class Warfare

“The Advantages of Losing” [The Daily Yonder]. “They shared their pilgrimage story and I realized that not only had they been beaten up by the economy but also by their former big box mega-church. When the bottom fell out they made an appointment to meet with one of the church’s many pastors. After listening to their story, the pastor paused and concluded that they had not had enough faith. The next Sunday in church, a sharp, young preacher whose coolness Pam had always admired proclaimed that amidst the economic crisis, prayer would sustain the faithful because God wanted his own to be WINNERS not losers. That was the moment. That was it. Pam said that she wasn’t angry. She was done. She knew that they were big-time losers in the economic collapse, but she also knew that her material losses had stirred and awoken her faith in ways that she had never experienced. It was time for a change.” By a Presbyterian pastor… .

“There Are 2 Vacant Investor-Owned Homes for Every Homeless Person in America” [GritPost]. “According to [ATTOM Data Solutions, which publishes comprehensive housing data], 76 percent of all vacant homes in America are owned by investors — amounting to approximately 1.1 million vacant residential investment properties. Many of these vacant homes are in economically distressed Rust Belt cities with high poverty rates, like Detroit, Michigan, neighboring Flint, and Youngstown, Ohio. The states with the highest investment property vacancy rate also have high poverty rates. Michigan leads the pack with 10.3 percent vacancy, Indiana at 9.8 percent, Alabama at 6.9 percent, and Mississippi at 6.6 percent.”

“Unions reach $2.3m settlement on Bangladesh textile factory safety” [Guardian]. “The settlement was agreed after a two-year arbitration process under the legally binding Bangladesh Accord for Fire and Building Safety. The accord was set up in the wake of the fatal collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory complex in 2013, which killed 1,135 people in what is considered the world’s worst textile industrial disaster. Many of the world’s largest brands, including Adidas, H&M, Marks & Spencer, Tesco, Top Shop and Uniqlo are signatories to the accord. There is no evidence that any of these brands is the company involved in the settlement. The brand, which cannot be named under the terms of the settlement, has agreed to pay $2m to fix issues at more than 150 garment factories in Bangladesh.” Two million bucks? That’s petty cash!

“The bloody clash that changed Britain” [Guardian]. The Peterloo massacre. “If later estimates that 60,000 people gathered at St Peter’s Fields that day are correct, it means that practically half the population of Manchester and the surrounding towns (a crowd somewhat larger than that at Manchester City home matches today) had come to attend a meeting calling for parliamentary reform. Having the vote mattered, they believed; it would change everything and force politicians to listen to their views and needs – and respond…. The people were expecting speeches and a good day out. What they were not anticipating was violence, carried out by troops sent in to disperse them, so aggressively that 18 people would be killed and more than 650 injured in the bloodiest political clash in British history.”

News of the Wired

Patient readers, hopefully I haven’t messed up the markup today, and the Comments work!

My battery decided to charge!

The light on my WiFi hotspot isn’t solid red, as in stopped!

* * *

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 (Diptherio):

Rattlesnake Creek. It’s nice to see ice breaking up. At least I hope it’s breaking up.

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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. The Rev Kev

        Ha, I wondered if anybody else would pick up on that. I went looking for the original words and found them-

        “There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. We can roll the image, make it flutter. We can change the focus to a soft blur or sharpen it to crystal clarity. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. We repeat: there is nothing wrong with your television set. You are about to participate in a great adventure. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to – The Outer Limits.”

        And then it clicked. Hey, this reads something like the mission statement for both Facebook and Twitter!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I just had this vague little chunk of the zeitgeist floating about in the stew of my allusive brain, and you gave the full quote, which is amazing:

          We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical


    1. C.Hustle

      Hi Left in WI – Being that regular NC readers are looking for meetups, wondering if you are in the Madison area. I would love to organize one but looking to see if I’m the only badger around.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      Indeed. Lots to chew on.
      I’ve been worried for a long time…as a sort of side-project… about the lack of “fellow feeling” or solidarity or commonality in the post post modern age.My grandads, and everybody else in that generation, had the Depression, and then the War, to provide this.
      My parents, both born in 1942(so old/pre-boomers), had nothing of that.
      There must be some way to accommodate individual freedom with society,lol.(probably the meat of the nut, since at least the early Roman Republic(see: “Conflict of the Orders”)).
      What connects me with Bangladeshi canoe fishermen, with Turkish immigrants in Germany, with the mechanic in the small town Barrio, with the local Elite in their hillforts, and with Davos Man?
      It seems we universalise the wrong things, often without thought, and with considerable subliminal subversion.(Perhaps a Right to Exist, along with some way to Opt Out of the Machine, a la a Secular Monasticism/or Dreher’s “Benedict Option”, embedded in some form of hyposubsidiarity or SuperGranular Federalism)
      I am one of the “Losers” Streek mentions. So is just about everyone I know(along a continuum from my dad(upper middle?) to the Hill People out here).
      I shudder to think that “Loser” is all the rallying cry for Humanism we are allowed.

      It also occurs to me that I know no one IRL who has the time to read stuff like this, and to think about it…and no one who sees the need…and everyone I know who probably has the cognitive ability to understand these 20 or so pages, believes that they do not, in fact, possess such acumen.
      so i could pamphletise this brilliant exegesis and paper my small town with it, and it wouldn’t be read or discussed…save to find the radical subversive who did the pamphleteering and punish him for littering.

  1. Synoia

    Six years of CHIP is not a bad deal, especially if DACA was not there to be had.

    Yes, the D’s will attempt (and may succeed) to lock up the Hispanic vote with a DACA carrot.

    But would the D’s deliver, or would DACA be forever a carrot?

    1. voteforno6

      DACA didn’t seem like the best reason for the Democrats to push a shutdown – a lot of people are in favor of it in isolation, but not as a reason to shut down the government. The ads practically wrote themselves – the Democrats were in favor of hurting citizens, in order to get something for people who aren’t technically citizens. Thankfully, the Democrats folded (a specialty of theirs) before the shutdown could do too much damage.

      1. xp

        Wow, does anyone on the dem/liberal side know that the original resolution included a 6-year extension of CHIP, courtesy of Paul Ryan, and this was voted down by dems?

        The dems reversed as fast as they figured out that an ad something like this “DACA for 800,000 illegals is more important to dems than a 6-year extension of CHIP for 9 million children” would not help their cause.

        Does anyone think that this would have helped the dems electorally? Now Dems are running around crowing about CHIP. Hmmmm, I wonder if the repubs are just going to let this slide.

        1. Summer

          I see the duopoly moving toward something like DACA in exchange for unemployment insurance cuts or Social Security cuts.
          See how they both could serve big business that way?

          1. Jen

            I see the same argument about CHIP thrown back at them. My congresscritters’ faceborg feeds were filled with opponents railing against putting immigrants before Americans, and those few who didn’t express this sentiment stated, more or less, that DACA was not a hill they were willing to die on.

          2. xp


            And how would such an exchange benefit either party?

            Again, it would be the 800,000 ( or 3 million, by some accounts) illegals against millions of citizens.

            I know that congress is owned by the wealthy, but I would bet an exchange like this would cost some politicians on both sides their seats.

        2. Darthbobber

          That is indeed a flaw in the framing. They already had the 6 years of chip due to the unilateral republican insertion of that in the house bill. The republicans always saw themselves as more vulnerable on that than on daca and were happy to surrender that dangerous hostage.

          Left out of the piece was Schumer’s egregious wall gambit. He can now go on all day about that now being off the table. But the people across the table wont believe him.

          And sure they can bluff again in 3 weeks and again in three more for as long as the can can be kicked. But precisely why would their threat be more credible then?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Aren’t they mad at the ‘complicit’ Ds for surrendering that carrot?

      Will they attempt? They should never bring it up.

  2. WobblyTelomeres

    re: autonomous vehicles: “but what happens when the lines are obscured by ice and snow?”

    FWIW, my wife’s prius has the a lane departure detection warning system (no idea what the acronym is but it beeps and shimmies the steering wheel when you start to drift out of your lane). The thing has a surprisingly sensitive edge detector. During a recent holidays trip through the midwest snowscape, it never missed a beat. If there is enough of the road visible to show a lane marker every few feet, it picks it up. It was doing a better job at picking out the lane markers than I was.

    1. XXYY

      I just bought a new truck that has a lot of these “driver assist” features. While I can admire the engineering that went into them, I have to say they are largely failures in practice.

      Firstly, 95% or more of the alerts I get from these systems are false alarms. Any alarm system that has a high false alarm rate is useless because you quickly learn to ignore the alarms. E.g., the neighbor whose car alarm keeps going off, or the shoplifting alarm at retail stores. They’re just a nuisance, nothing more. A system that can’t distinguish between a sleeping driver veering off the road and normal driving events is not ready for production.

      Secondly, they don’t meet real-time requirements. The way my truck tells me something is wrong is to put up a display dialog box on the dashboard display saying something like “steering required” [!]. In order to react to this, I have to (a) take my eyes off the road, (b) read the message, (c) figure out how it relates to what is happening, (d) move my eyes back to to road and get oriented again, and (e) provide the proper control inputs. This can all take several seconds, much longer than it takes the vehicle to crash. This mechanism is not only completely useless in a genuine emergency, but actually distracting.

      All these things really show is that integrating humans and machines effectively is really, really difficult.

        1. XXYY

          It’s a 2018 Honda Ridgeline. Really an outstanding truck in every way; I didn’t mean to bag on it in particular, I think it’s implementation of these features is pretty standard in the industry.

          The aircraft industry has probably done the best and most work on human/machine control interface in safety-critical situations. They probably have the most to teach the auto industry. I don’t know if the latter is learning from them. Aircraft manufacturers have the advantage of being able to count on highly trained operators who are type certified on the aircraft, whereas anyone can get in a car or truck and just drive off in it. So in a technical sense, car manufacturers have a much steeper hill to climb when designing their safety systems. They have to be very intuitive.

      1. RMO

        It varies from company to company. I’ve driven several cars lately with these features (Subaru and Honda) and those ones worked quite well. The Honda lane departure warning gave a handful of false warnings but much less than a Honda I tried a few years back so they’re improving. The Subarus gave no false warnings during my drives. Naturally I didn’t make a point of testing the autonomous emergency braking feature though:-) Oddly, despite liking the features I ended up with a car that didn’t even have adaptive cruise control or a rear view camera (though I added the camera as a factory accessory) – we humans are a frequently irrational bunch…

    2. rd

      We have a stretch of road that is under serious construction with a major lane shift and concrete barricades at the edge of the two driving lanes. Old lines criss-cross semi-randomly. The temporary lane markings got nuked by snow and ice removal. So you are driving through a two-lane bobsled run without a center line and random lines wandering around in front of you. Any camera-based system would be totally baffled, especially when snow is packed up against the concrete barriers. It would require a radar system computing lane widths between the concrete barriers and staying within that geometric box, which is what we humans are essentially doing.

      I have a Honda camera-based frontal crash avoidance system (only visual/audio warning). It is fairly good, but I have noticed that it reads sudden changes in light as an object and the system triggers a warning. This commonly happens when entering under a bridge with a sudden light-dark contrast.

      The lane wandering warnings are pretty good, but in our bobsled run they don’t go off, presumably the lines that are there are so random and illogical.

    3. Altandmain

      Presumably the Silicon Valley types living in the Valley never thought of that.

      I’ll be blunt, I have more faith in the traditional automakers for that. GM for example is based in Michigan and is considered to be the leader in this field. Michigan, although not as cold as Canada from my experience, is still snowy enough that they’d have to think about this.

      Ironically Tesla is right now ranked as dead last on self driving cars now and GM on top:

      Likewise, companies like Toyota and Hyundai have to sell cars all over the world – so they have to consider matters like this.

      I’m skeptical though what this self-driving feature can do in the near future. Maybe in the long term we could see 100% autonomous driving, but for now, it’s a good bet you’ll need a steering wheel, even if it is only when your self-driving doesn’t work.

  3. allan

    Kimberly-Clark using tax savings to help pay for job cuts, shareholder returns [Marketwatch]

    In the no-good-deed-goes-unpunished category, Kimberly-Clark Corp. said it will use the money it saves from tax-reform legislation to help cover the charges resulting from the thousands of jobs it plans to cut, and to pay out more cash to its investors.

    The Kleenex tissues and Huggies diapers maker said Tuesday it will cut between 5,000 and 5,500 jobs, or 12% to 13% of its workforce, and close or sell 10 manufacturing facilities, as part of a restructuring program aimed at saving $500 million to $550 million a year by 2021. …

    But at the same time, the company said it was raising its quarterly dividend to $1.00 a share from 97 cents a share … The company also said it planned to spend between $700 million and $900 million to buy back its stock this year, after repurchasing $900 million worth of shares in 2017. …

    So how will the company pay for all this, when “market conditions will remain challenging in the near term,” and after the company missed sales expectations for a sixth-straight quarter, according to FactSet data? …

    “We also anticipate ongoing annual cash flow benefits from tax reform,” said Chief Financial Officer Maria Henry in the post-earnings conference call with Wall Street analysts … “That provides us flexibility to continue to allocate significant capital to shareholders, while we also fund increased capital spending and our restructuring program over the next few years.” …

    The good news is that those 5,500 will be able to see the effect of the tax cut in their bigger paychecks
    for a few months before being laid off. /s

  4. Mark Gisleson

    A friend got the advisory from Twitter because he’s a lifelong russophile and has an extensive library of Soviet history. His Russian news sources got his account flagged.

    We have very similar interests but I don’t subscribe to Russian sources (I let him filter them for me). Despite liking many of his RTs, that wasn’t enough to get me a warning.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And here I am, studying the Russian language. Totally ignored by Twitter, I was.

      Twitter, yer disappointin’ me!

    2. ambrit

      “His Russian news sources got his account flagged.”
      There are so many things wrong with this that it boggles the mind.

  5. Hana M

    The article from Gods and Radicals is a must read IMO. Sofia Burns convinced me of her thesis that “On paper, the Democratic Party is a broad coalition. In practice, it is a cadre party.”

    Two concepts undergird this analysis. The first, drawn from Marxist-Leninist theory, is the cadre party. High school civics is wrong. Neither major US party is actually a heterogenous coalition. The tight-knit Leninist vanguard model describes them much more usefully.

    The second concept here is the social and political base. Now, journalists often say “Democratic base” when they mean “Democratic voters.” However, a base is both more specific and more expansive than that. It isn’t simply the individuals who happen to support something. A base is a durable, organized community, capable of directing itself in a coordinated way. It’s brought into being by the set of social institutions whose day-to-day activities structure their constituents’ collective life.

    Oddly she doesn’t mention one very solid and genuine base that the Democrats used to control: unions. Yet it was Democrats and Bill Clinton, who dealt union power in America a near fatal blow via NAFTA.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Oddly she doesn’t mention one very solid and genuine base that the Democrats used to control: unions

      Excellent point. And see Thomas Frank, Listen, Liberal! for why….

  6. Kevin

    Austin Frerick ad is awesome – if we could only see more of the same!

    I baled hay throughout college for local farmers. It earned me some pocket change and kept me in shape for football season. Quite a wake up call to work alongside 60-70 year-old-farmers as they run circles ’round you…they were in better shape than I was.

  7. Steve H.

    > “The world is moving apart in trust. In previous years, country-level trust has moved largely in lockstep, but for the first time ever there is now a distinct split between extreme trust gainers and losers. No country saw steeper declines than the United States, with a 37-point aggregate drop in trust across all institutions. At the opposite end of the spectrum, China experienced a 27-point gain, more than any other country” [2018 Edelman trust Barometer]

    Quote from yesterday’s Cooler reminded me of something:

    “First envisioned in the mid-1990s, China’s social-credit system would assign a ranking to each of the country’s almost 1.4 billion people. Unlike a Western rating based on financial creditworthiness, China’s social-credit backers want their system to be all-encompassing, to evaluate not just financial matters but anything that might speak to a person’s trustworthiness. In modern China, “trust-keeping is insufficiently rewarded, the costs of breaking trust tend to be low,” a 2014 Chinese government document describing the government’s plans notes.”

    “It is the most ambitious attempt by any government in modern history to fuse technology with behavioural control, placing China at the forefront of a new kind of authoritarianism, one that can mine a person’s digital existence – shopping habits, friends, criminal records, political views – and judge them according to the state’s standard of reliability.”

    John Robb has been following some of the consequences of Chinese integration of social networks and credit ratings. Point being, that ‘trust’ is not well-translated if deferential behavior, ‘showing face’, is an explicit metric of Chinese culture.

  8. L

    Two lines of this jumped out at me which I think are interesting:

    “Republicans desperately need people to focus on the fact that their tax bill passed, and that with President Obama out of office and Congress is Republican hands, businesses no longer feel under siege. [Cook Political]

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is a party outsider, and is running for the Senate as an Independent in 2018, though he called himself a Democrat in 2016. He’s currently the “Democrat” with the most credibility among Republicans…. Twelve percent of those who voted for him in the primaries voted for Trump in the presidential election. It follows that those voters are more likely to listen to Bernie than top Democratic leaders — or possibly any Democrat.

    So the sound advice from the expert politics watchers is that Republicans need to play up their pro-business strategy and note that businesses are no longer “under siege” while the Republican voters tell pollsters they trust an avowed socialist liberal. I find those hard to reconcile, until I remind myself that Hillary Clinton campaigned on being “Pro-Business” while Donald Trump promised to “Stick it to Wall Street.”

  9. willf

    Cook Political Report: “Republicans desperately need people to focus on the fact that their tax bill passed, and that with President Obama out of office and Congress is Republican hands, businesses no longer feel under siege” (my emphasis)

    What the family blog?

    Obama was one of the most pro-business presidents to ever hold office. Corporations made out like bandits under his administration. Is the Cook political report reiterating conservative talking points under the rubric of neutral analysis?

    1. L

      I think that at times the Cook report falls into what Hunter S. Thomson decried as the neutral sports view of politics. They are so close to the game for so long that they comment on the strategy and tactics almost like plays in a football game divorced from whether or not the game means a family blog to real people.

      My thought when reading that comment was to wonder “which businesses?”

      Obama was certainly pro-Wall Street (he did protect them from the Torches and Pitchforks as well as the perp walks, and extended Bush’s upper-income tax cuts), he was much less friendly to exractive industries like Oil and Coal, and he left small businesses to sink fend for themselves. Hillary campaigned on continuing that. Trump campaigned on changing that, and he did. Now Wall Street is getting a massive tax cut, the oil and coal barons are getting love from Zinke, and main street is … fending for itself.

      Some people have argued that the tax bill is a windfall for them but not as much as it is for the likes of Amazon and Goldman.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Cook Political Report is a guardian of the establishment narrative. I know one of the people over there pretty well, and this person is a good liberal on most issues. He has a reflexive support of the traditional political narrative. Tax and spend Democrats the Republicans harp on about exist in his world even though he knows every individual Democrat and what crummy people they are. Getting to the next step would undermine his general sense of the political world too much.

        Barack Obama might be seen as a crummy crusader for Wall Street, but the Democratic President from 2009 to 2017 has to have an enemy of business because of this small c conservative view of the world.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        It’s an education problem, I think. Small-business owners like to think they may one day be the next Walmart, so they figure anything that’s good for Walmart is good for them. Naturally, the neoliberals in both parties are happy to encourage that false belief, which is why so many small-business owners continue to vote for neoliberals.

        As for Obama, he’s had the massive support of the corporate media to ensure his lousy record for anyone not of the top 10% is buried under glowing reports of economic recovery and vanishing unemployment, all the while comparing his polite polished demeanor to that of the current prez never sees daylight.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          This small business owner refuses to vote for either of these corrupt parties.

          That said, the recently enacted tax bill is the FIRST Federal policy in my adult life to actually benefit me. If I was less informed, I’d be inclined to vote for the party that enacted it just because of that.

  10. cryptocontrarian

    Krugman is simply pushing the Central Banks’ party line. Fiat currencies have the same problems as crypto-currencies. And that’s a problem for crypto’s because it highlights that they haven’t really brought anything new to the table that is not already been done by the current mainstream or shadow financial systems. Even the ‘secrecy’ pitch is a bit of a dud. There are heaps of tricks for cross-border money laundering – you don’t need cryptos to do that. Blockchain is simply a new piece of technology applied to old processes – which at this stage I’m not convinced provides a (even potentially) productive advantage over current financial processes. It’s just a libertarian techie toy.

  11. marku52

    Dean Baker gets darned close to MMT….After a bit of snark!
    “We all know about the skills shortage. Many employers can’t find workers with the necessary skills. For example, the NYT can’t find columnists who understand economics, so they had to hire Bret Stephens instead…..
    The reason the government taxes is to reduce demand in the economy. The purpose is to prevent the economy from overheating and experiencing inflation. When the economy is near full employment we face the standard story where we have to tax to finance spending. In other words, if we want additional spending we have to pull demand out of the economy to open the space. However, when we are below full employment, the government is not constrained by its tax revenue.”

    Got that? “Not constrained by tax revenue”. Getting closer!

  12. Duck1

    Considering the intelligence driving the capitalist flower, artificial intelligence shouldn’t be much of a problem.

  13. XXYY


    Vox: Democrats didn’t cave on the shutdown

    This is interesting:

    McConnell’s word hasn’t been worth much this year. Just ask Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Jeff Flake (AZ), fellow Republicans who were promised health and immigration policies in return for their tax votes. In this case, though, if McConnell reneges on the deal, Democrats simply shut down the government in three weeks. They haven’t lost that leverage.

    There has been a lot of press regarding the fact that no one trusts McConnell to follow through on anything he says. I’m wondering how government can even function in the presence of such actors. In the legal world, people who don’t trust each other can form binding agreements enforced by a 3rd party (the courts) who have the power to impose sanctions if the terms are abrogated. There is also the presence of a professional class, lawyers, who have long term interests to protect and licenses to lose in cases of bad faith, and who are therefore at least somewhat trusted by other lawyers regardless of what’s happening with the plaintiffs.

    Agreements between politicians and legislators don’t have these things available, and at the end of the day there have to exist verbal agreements that the participants trust will be carried out at a later date. To assume otherwise is not only to make compromise with the other party impossible, but (as noted above) to make agreements within one’s own party impossible.

    Hard to imagine a functioning government where the default assumption is that everyone is lying.

    1. marku52

      I hadn’t noticed that we have a functioning government. A functioning government would respond to a crisis like life spans decreasing. Ours, not so much.

      So I think you are on to something…..

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s where the 11 dimensional chess game comes in.

      You trust change is coming and hope politicians keep their promises….in that 11 dimensional world.

      That fact has been in existence since at least 2007.

      It’s not a new question.

    3. L

      To be clear all that Mitch McConnell has done is promise to permit debate on something that the President, Elected representatives, and a strong majority of Americans say that they want. In a functioning government it would not require hostage taking to make him do his job. Just as a complete budget should come before other activities but that is not where we are.

      And to judge from voting patterns, that is not what people really want or what they can get.

      1. Darthbobber

        But there is no corresponding promise from the house leadership. In fact I read Ryan as basically saying no way. So Mitch can quite safely keep his word on this.

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Political agreements requires sides to have a concept of both what they want both in the long and short term as well as a relatively homogeneous support. Chuck Shumer, the beacon of Wall Street, can’t be the guy fighting for the Democrats. Their is one court, the court of public opinion. Any deal that is presented to the public without clear and concise terms can be dismissed.

      The Civil Rights activists of yesteryear didn’t win the prize on day one, but they didn’t take their eye off the ball after small wins. Its important to remember the leadership was very much aligned with their street level supporters. The Democrats in Congress, and the people who are the usual Democratic voters have nothing in common anymore.

      There is a court system: the electorate. Unfortunately, the “good guys” are led by Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. Unlike successful coalition leaders of the past, their prize is not the same as the street level coalition members. As far as their personal credibility goes, do they have any? Chuck was Harry “Keep the Powder Dry” Reid’s right hand man, and Pelosi demonstrated she was a waste of space. “Arble Garble Putin” really doesn’t work outside of trying to silence critics in rooms of devoted partisans as a strategy. Its all the Democrats have, and they never fixed anything. Winning a few special elections and holding serve or winning a Governorship in NJ which they should never have lost to Christie in the first place is not that big of a deal especially when the national party was often not part of those elections.

      Ultimately, the Democrats would need to present a people’s budget and hammer the Republicans on it at all times, going after the likes of Collins, none of this reasonable Republican crap. Tell the voters in those states what is being denied in exchange for weapons systems that don’t work, bases we don’t need, scam tax incentives to wealthy so called “American” corporations. Sanders can do this. Schumer can’t.

      This is important: DACA matters more to some people than others. You can’t die on a hill of only DACA. At the same time, it needs to be fought for. One problem is the Democrats punted on 2008 promises made to Dreamers and such basically to hold it over their heads for future elections. It wasn’t just random, unnamed Democrats who are out of office such Harry Reid. It was Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi. They aren’t credible. They can’t lead anymore. If they were credible, they could maybe do this which is why Sanders has high ratings among Republicans despite being a pinko according to every msm commentator.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        And as far as “but the Republicans” excuse Democratic tribal types love to trot out, the Republicans have been heinous since a production of “Our American Cousin” with a couple of exceptions here and there. Amazingly enough, good government can and did happen.

      2. Jay M

        Well, we are keeping our powder dry, while waiting for the money that is on the sidelines to enter the game, or maybe it needs to go back to the sidelines, but all options are on the table, though impeachment is off the table (Pelosi) while the R’s play hardball and hurt the D’s fee-fees while the D’s swing wildly at the T-ball but can’t connect.

    5. rd

      CHIP is done now.

      DACA/Dreamers is now on the table on the Democratic side, military spending restructuring and/or additions on the Republican side, and Trump is focused on visa lottery/chain immigration and getting money for the wall until Mexico pays for it.

      In a rational world, all of these would get serious play. In the current world, we won’t know what we have even when we get it.

    6. VietnamVet

      There are no longer any functional sovereign western governments. It isn’t really lying (which requires knowing the truth) but believing their own propaganda while making money by any means possible. The favorite ways today are forever wars, resource extraction, drugs, gambling, monopolies and rents. Lost in the melee is the “public interest”. Consent of the governed is gone. Donald Trump was elected President. Britain is exiting the EU. Democrats shut down the federal government for three days.

  14. Don

    You did notice that the Business Insider piece on the DNC/Brock retreat and the Women’s March is from last year’s march, I hope? Dated 1/24/17. Not that it’s not meaningful, but just pointing it out in view of the more recent March to note that it’s not connected to this one.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks for pointing this out. I had it in my mind to connect this to the ephemerality of Brock (Correct the Record has been dead since 2016) but ran out of time. So I zapped it.

    1. Jim Haygood

      As for stocks, though the gov shutdown included only one trading day, it was monster raving bullish as expected. The S&P 500 rose 0.8% yesterday before the shutdown ended, and another 0.2% today as the illusion of normalcy returned.

      With Sen Chuck Schumer having withdrawn his offer to accept some border wall funding, prospects are brightening for another bullish gov shutdown on Feb 8th.

    2. marku52

      “If the dollar keeps sinking, old-school commodity price inflation will make an unwelcome comeback”

      You mean like in 2014, at which level it has a ways to go to get to? Looks more like a correction from an overshoot than anything to get hyperbolic about. Before it falls too far, the Asian mercantilists will get panicked and drive it back up……

  15. RMO

    Krugman has been skeptical of Bitcoin for quite a while for pretty good reasons – basically that it combines bad points of fiat currency with bad points of precious metals then adds some new poison to the mix to create a truly nasty concoction. Before he went completely nuts during the last election I read his stuff regularly.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Yes, superb. And enormously detailed – more than I actually read, but useful if you’re interested in DP politics. My lesson:

      A plague on both their houses.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Thanks for this. Good stuff. Lots of jaw-dropping quotes.

      Glad to see my old rep, Stephen Lynch, being quoted. Decent guy. He’s a bit conservative at times, but you can count on him to do the right thing on big votes.

    3. allan

      The Memorandum of Understanding, linked to in the sentence

      A memo the party committee sent to candidates in December lays out some of the demands the DCCC made around spending.

      towards the end of the story, is horrific.

      Why would anybody ever knowingly donate to a candidate who signs this?

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s really, really good. The candidate the Democrat establishment deep-sixed:

      The decision stung, King said. “I’ve consistently supported full funding for women’s health, including contraception, and safe abortion as a last resort. I’m the only candidate running on Medicare For All and debt-free public college, policies that would hugely benefit women and working moms who struggle to make ends meet as insurance premiums and college tuition go up.”

      Obviously, the Democrat establishment doesn’t support those things. Or “working moms.” So…

      * * *

      I’ve been struggling for language to encapsulate what the article describes, and the best I’ve been able to come up with is “national” vs. “local” and I don’t think that’s good enough. It seems that the number of people willing to engage with electoral politics is larger than the capacity of institutions to absorb them; these institutions are both thin on the ground and fragmented by “cause,” and so people end up engaging with whatever institution is available to them, be it anything on the range from the Sierra Club to Indivisible to DSA. Meanwhile, what I as an omnivorous reader see is the “national” (wrong word) perspective, which to some extent I can discount properly, but only really granular reporting like this Intercept article gives the right kind of insight (“all politics is local [wrong word]”).

      1. Steve H.

        I believe ‘local’ is accurate:

        “Local government exists for one reason and one reason only: to decide how land gets used. Everything, and I mean everything, that local government does deconstructs to a decision about which landowners will win, and which will lose.
        Who gets rich, and who doesn’t.”
        > Gregory Travis (link decayed)

        I’ll suggest ‘global’ for the other pole, and frame in terms of elites.

        Global elites have their power base in the dollar as the world reserve currency. This results in exporting jobs overseas in what looks like a good deal, we give them magic fiat dollars and they give us tangible stuff. This exacerbates the class split between those who make their money from their labor (which needs jobs) and those who gain from investment. Couple this with nirp and zirp, push that into asset inflation, and the investment class gains and is invested in the status quo. The ROI on finance bubbles swamps that of productive industry. (Corollary: loss of productive identity increases despair, McKesson makes a killing.)

        Not only do local jobs decay, local elites can become prey to frothy megabucks upsetting the local ecosystem. They may or may not benefit from inflated dollars pouring in, but it’s an invasive force that must be responded to.

        A prime case might be the DNC and Clintons use of donations. Local elites contributed to the DNC but it did not benefit their own power structure, as most of the money was siphoned off to the campaign with the global agenda.

      2. ChrisPacific

        That looks like the one linked a day or two ago, which was indeed very good, if depressing.

        My biggest impression was how mechanistic the whole thing seemed. The DCCC comes across as a giant machine that has become optimized for hoovering up money from whatever sources it can. Not once was there any discussion of how to connect with voters, find out what issues mattered to them, or convince more of them to vote for you. It’s just assumed that if you have enough money, it will buy promotion which will translate to votes for your candidate.

        That has probably worked quite well for some time, but now (as Sanders and Trump prove) we are at the point where both major parties have become sufficiently disconnected from the needs of the voters that the cracks are starting to show. Establishment candidates are starting to find that no matter how much money they raise, it’s not enough to convince people to vote for them. Meanwhile grassroots candidates with next to no money end up doing way better than expected. Some of the people in power are starting to notice this and are trying to adjust for it, but the problem is that candidates who perform well on modest budgets are flagged as pathogenic by the machine. It has been designed from the ground up to capture and control as much money as possible, and grassroots candidates are poor performers by that metric, so they are rejected by the system.

        The only way to break out of this is to recognize that money doesn’t translate to votes if the candidates don’t represent the interests of the public, and then to dismantle the machine and build a new one. Sanders was able to do this already because he consciously chose to separate himself from it, but to people who have spent their whole political careers as a cog in the mechanism, it’s terrifying. To them it’s like ripping out the internal combustion engine from your car and replacing it with something new and untested, three years before you have to win a big race.

  16. fresno dan

    “The Advantages of Losing” [The Daily Yonder]. “They shared their pilgrimage story and I realized that not only had they been beaten up by the economy but also by their former big box mega-church. When the bottom fell out they made an appointment to meet with one of the church’s many pastors. After listening to their story, the pastor paused and concluded that they had not had enough faith. The next Sunday in church, a sharp, young preacher whose coolness Pam had always admired proclaimed that amidst the economic crisis, prayer would sustain the faithful because God wanted his own to be WINNERS not losers. That was the moment. That was it. Pam said that she wasn’t angry. She was done. She knew that they were big-time losers in the economic collapse, but she also knew that her material losses had stirred and awoken her faith in ways that she had never experienced. It was time for a change.” By a Presbyterian pastor… .
    Words fail me….
    well, maybe Saint Trump….

    1. The Rev Kev

      Oh, I don’t know. That young preacher’s words would probably met with approval by another Minister – Norman Vincent Peale. Maybe that young preacher thought too that it is all a matter of positive thinking.

    2. ambrit

      It also brings to mind stories from the Chinese ‘Great Leap Forward’ where faith in the ‘Words of Chairman Mao’ were expected to overcome all obstacles. Tens of millions of Chinese are believed to have died during those days. Faith not only moves mountains, it also creates mountains, of the dead.
      Are we ready for our own “Cultural Revolution” yet?

  17. Oregoncharles

    ” Twelve percent of those who voted for [Bernie] in the primaries voted for Trump in the presidential election.”

    Holy Moley.

    Revenge. A lot of it.

    I doubt the bitterness has gone away.

    1. HideNwatch

      Run another sham primary and force a neoliberal like Harris or Booker or Biden on us and see what happens.

      None of it has gone away. It has grown.

    2. sd

      Personally, I like to take my grudges out and polish them up so they are ready when needed. I’m sure I’m not alone in this particular feeling.

    3. Darthbobber

      Thats actually lower than the percentage of clinton primary voters who supported mccain in 08. And in both cases its PARTLY an artifact of the gop contest wrapping up much sooner, leaving a lot of republicans voting in later dem primaries. + a significant chunk of republicans actually liked Sanders.

  18. Tim

    Amazon says it’s trained the [Amazon Go] system to recognize subtle differences in packaging and shoppers’ unpredictable movements.The technology has the potential to accelerate a shift already underway in the retail world

    So once a potential shoplifter is identified by the “system”, then what happens? Does Amazon still have an employee that works at the entrance of the store as an armed goalie? THat sounds to expensive. MAybe they will ensure a donut shop is adjacent to every store if you catch my drift.

    What about mitigation of false positives (accusing somebody that didn’t steal anything)? A few false positives would absolutely doom the store in the eyes of the public.

    And since the system is going to be tuned to the n-th degree, it will likely stereotype significantly. This stuff has a long ways to go.

    1. HideNwatch

      One imagines younger persons making sport of our benevolent machine friends by deliberately engaging in behaviors which not only would not optimize the shopping experience for themselves or others but may indeed create unforseen detrimental effects to overall sales volume and efficiency!

      Lord Bezos will be most angry! Even more than when the tech buses started getting attacked by angry peasants and had to be re-routed! The nerve of some people!

  19. Brandon

    12% of people that would have otherwise voted Democrat flipped to Republican simply to avoid having to vote for Hillary Clinton. That’s a lot of defection. We meant it when we said “Bernie or Bust!”. Want to test us again in 2020?

  20. The Rev Kev

    “Update on Twitter’s Review of the 2016 U.S. Election”

    Yeah, Jimmy Dore did a show on this a coupla days ago (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fnbzg5qeaeE) and the whole message seems to be one of intimidation, as in. ‘We are watching you. We know when you are looking at dissident views that we do not approve of. Keep it up and you will find yourself banned from Twitter.’
    Damn fools even sent the same message to Russia Insider and they went to town on it (http://russia-insider.com/en/twitter-has-now-contacted-victims-russian-trolls/ri22277). NC is right. Never let Silicon Valley billionaires have control of what you do or don’t see.

    1. Duck1

      Why does the twits commitment to transparency remind me of Zamyatin’s dystopia
      We or Bentham’s panopticon?

  21. Carolinian

    Cutting to the chase re the Stratechery article:

    the leverage gained by adding ever more esoteric features that both meet market needs and create lock-in

    So is there really a “market need” for a robot store where you must have an Amazon account to shop and whose principal esoteric feature is the ability to completely avoid human interaction? After all the convenience factor is limited since you still have to drive to the store to shop there.

    The author spins a rosy scenario that ignores the many instances where Bezos’ commitment to futurism and innovation is just plain goofy. If Bezos is such a genius shouldn’t we be seeing delivery drones whizzing across our urban skies? Meanwhile worker reports from the warehouses suggest those Kiva robots need considerable debugging.

    Later in the article the author hits upon the real reason for Amazon’s market dominance–unlimited stock market capital being poured into the company’s every fanciful idea. Here’s betting that Amazon’s brick and mortar venture–up against the cutthroat world of retail competition–will be a flop because it’s just a gimmick, not a breakthrough. But the Panglossian pr from the company’s admirers will continue unabated–until the bubble finally bursts.

    1. cnchal

      Later in the article the author hits upon the real reason for Amazon’s market dominance–unlimited stock market capital being poured into the company’s every fanciful idea. . .

      I didn’t read it that way. The money used to buy and sell Amazon shares on the stawk market is separate from the money used to fund the fanciful ideas. Amazon makes a minimum profit deliberately so that it can fund the fanciful ideas.

      I agree that the Amazon Go stores would be a place I would avoid. Being monitored by the cold calculating AI eye gives me the creeps, and giving Bezos your buying preferences in real time is even creepier.

      To understand the economics of tech companies one must understand the difference between fixed and marginal costs, and for this Amazon Go provides a perfect example.

      A cashier — and forgive the bloodless language for what is flesh and blood — is a marginal cost. That is, for a convenience store to sell one more item requires some amount of time on the part of a cashier, and that time costs the convenience store operator money. To sell 100 more items requires even more time — costs increase in line with revenue.

      This sounds like nonsense. A cashier is a fixed cost in that they stand at the register whether they have a customer or not. The time spent by the cashier is not directly related to the number of customers served. The food preparation labor is a marginal cost in that they are expected to produce so many sandwiches per hour and if sales justify it, more are hired to meet demand.

      The example of property taxes as a fixed cost is beside the point when talking about Amazon. Do they pay any property taxes anywhere? Their competitors certainly do and from what I understand Amazon extorts billions from state and local governments to put warehouse in their locales and on top of that pays no property taxes for a decade or more. It begs the question, will Amazon pack up from those locations when the agreements are set to expire or extort another few decades of free rides from local taxpayers?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > After all the convenience factor is limited since you still have to drive to the store to shop there.

      No smelly proles; it’s the same with Uber. (The Uber driver isn’t a prole, but a tech-savvy contractor. Like you!)

  22. Lee


    An interesting profile of sheriff in Volusia county FL. If Trump were a progressive he’d probably be like this guy.

    How a pro-Trump county elected a pro-immigrant reformer as sheriff

    How did Chitwood gain endorsements from both the National Rifle Association and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and decisively defeat both the favorite of the “good-ol’-boy” network and the darling of the deputies union?


  23. Carolinian

    How the Streep/Hanks/Spielberg The Post misrepresents history.


    For the once and future warmongers at the WaPo the publication of the Papers was more about NY Times envy than speaking truth to power. Graham in particular was not the babe in the woods depicted by Streep.

    Of course veteran Streep watchers know that she bends over backwards to find the sympathetic side of even villainous or bizarre characters. When she doesn’t engage in this brand management she can be pretty good.

    1. Lee

      One of the The Post writers, Liz Hannah, on PBS Newshour some truly barf worthy insights:

      This was the first Fortune 500 CEO who is a woman, and she had been told her whole life that she wasn’t good enough. And then she was put in this position where she had to make this choice and she had to find her voice.

      And there is something very universal about that. There’s something about that, to me, that is very relatable. I have spent many times in a room where I’m the only woman or I’m the odd man out. And that’s the story I think that we need now, is the story of people finding their voices.

      Katherine Graham herself: “I went to work because I found that I owned the controlling shares of the company….”

      Also, Spielberg ain’t all that IMHO. Too often too schmaltzy by half if not more.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks. I’ve been rereading her. (LeGuin is sometimes put into the box of earth-crunchy gauzy fabulism, but I think she’s a master of “hard science fiction,” that is, building a world and working it out rigorously from first premises; this is even true for the Wizard of Earthsea series. Her writing is so beautiful one forgets this.)

  24. Kim Kaufman

    I’m a little behind and not sure if anyone’s posted this:

    Who Owns the Women’s March?

    A number of marches across the United States have received letters from Women’s March Inc., protesting their use of the term “women’s march.” As the New York Times reported earlier this week, Amber Selman-Lynn, a Mobile, Alabama-based organizer, received a letter from Women’s March, Inc. requesting the name be removed from materials promoting the march. The letter said that while the group was “supportive of any efforts to build our collective power as women,” they would prefer Selman-Lynn “not advertise your event as a ‘Women’s March’ action.” At issue was Selman-Lynn’s use of the slogan, “March on the Polls,” created by another group with a similar agenda, March On, in her material. (She removed the name and had them re-printed.)


    The future of protest marching is being corporatized. Unbelievable.

    1. Isotope_C14

      I’m wondering if Sarsour is an actor. Not a BDS post in her recent timeline, no free Ahed. Seems like a suspicious account being from a supposed Palestinian.

  25. Kim Kaufman

    Good twitter thread


    and link to article (which I haven’t read)

    How the Right’s War on Unions Is Killing the Democratic Party

    “Right-to-work” laws have a measurable effect on voting patterns.

    By Sean McElwee

    As pointed out on these pages multiple times, Dems don’t seem to want these voters anyways. And apparently not enough suburban Republican-lites to replace them yet.

  26. Lambert Strether Post author

    Oh, did anybody read Alida Garcia’s bio? Guess who she’s working for now:

    On the Gods and Radicals post, quoting again:

    The only way you can bridge the gap between protest and power is through the support of Democratic politicians – and you can’t get that support if you won’t align with their Party. And, of course, activist groups don’t typically want to be independent in the first place. After all, their leaders and staffers are Democratic cadres.

    IOW, the cadres are Flexians; as exemplified by Garcia. The door doesn’t revolve in the way we are used to think of it, but revolve it does.

  27. Darthbobber

    Because of the faux shutdown coverage is mainly about the dems daca problem. But its at least as much of a problem for the gop and I suspect they know that. If they cant persuade team donkey to hand them a bunch of unrelated concessions, and they also cant see their way clear to allowing a stand alone vote on it in both houses, then either the trumpalump steps in with a new executive order by somwetime in march or a wave of highly publciized deportations of people that even a huge chunk of the otherwise xenophobic base thinks of as the “right kind” of immigrants begins. Coupled in town after town with the kind of tearjerker human interest stories that practically write themselves and are positively irresistible to local media. And by no means confined to big cities or democratic strongholds. Potentially dragging on for many months.

    1. integer

      Never underestimate the stupidity of the D party. Say what you want about the R party, but they know how to play the game. Also, and this is just my opinion, the R party as a whole is significantly more honest than the D party. There are some individual exceptions (e.g. Nina Turner), but taken as a whole the D party pretty much defines hypocrisy imo.

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