2:00PM Water Cooler 1/8/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

“Today’s November trade data release shows the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico is 7.9 percent higher and with China is 5.1 percent higher during the first 11 months of the Trump administration compared to the same period in 2016, spotlighting the gap between President Donald Trump’s campaign pledges to speedily reduce the U.S. trade deficit and the lack of trade policy reforms achieved in his first year” (PDF) [Public Citizen]. “Trump launched the promised NAFTA renegotiation in August, but U.S. corporate interests have persuaded Canada and Mexico to not engage on U.S. proposals to transform NAFTA in ways that U.S. unions, small businesses and consumer groups have long argued would slow job outsourcing and downward pressure on U.S. wages. As a result, the January 23-28 Montreal round of NAFTA talks has become a pivot point. If Mexico and Canada do not engage, the prospect is heightened that Trump may give notice to withdraw from NAFTA. NAFTA entered its 24th year on Jan. 1, 2018.”

“President Donald Trump and top administration officials are preparing to unleash an aggressive trade crackdown in the coming weeks, three administration officials [said]” [Politico]. “The moves are expected to include new tariffs aimed at countering China’s and other economic competitors’ unfair trade practices. Trump is scheduled to begin finalizing decisions as soon as this week on trade actions involving imports of steel and solar panels as well as on China’s intellectual property practices.” One official: “[T]he president is ‘undecided and could come out any number of ways.'” Big if true, whatever it ends up being….

“Boeing’s Embraer Bid Is Anything But Highflying” [Bloomberg]. “Shareholders had every right to be more optimistic. Embraer is a crown jewel for Brazil. While Boeing is still negotiating with the government over what would happen with Embraer’s defense business and how much say politicians would have going forward, a hefty offer was assumed to be part of its argument. The regional-jet hole in Boeing’s lineup has been laid bare by its trade dispute with Bombardier over claims the Canadian company used low prices to unfairly compete for a Delta Air Lines Inc. order for which Boeing wasn’t even a contender. If Boeing is serious about catching up to the new Airbus-Bombardier union, it doesn’t have many other options that match the scale of Embraer. And yet Boeing’s offer values Embraer’s ADRs at a discount to the median multiple paid in major aerospace and defense deals over the past decade.”

Politics

Oprah Boomlet

“Oprah Winfrey is “actively thinking” about running for president, two of her close friends told CNN Monday” [CNN].

“Oprah 2020: Winfrey’s Golden Globes speech kicks off speculation about a White House run” [Vox]. A good round-up.

“Oprah’s powerful Golden Globes speech (transcript, video)” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution].

“Democrats’ best hope for 2020: Oprah” [New York Post]. From September 27, 2017: “If any figure in the United States bears watching over the next couple of years as our political culture continues the radical transformation that led to the election of Donald Trump, it’s Oprah. I believe she’s uniquely positioned, should she wish to commit herself, to seek the Democratic nomination for president and challenge Trump in 2020.”

This:

And this:

I’m with the General here.

2018

“Democrats have an 11-point advantage in the national generic ballot (according to the RealClearPolitics average) and President Donald Trump’s job approval rating remains low. Those are usually signs of a political wave” [Inside Elections].

But Republican strategists continue to find solace in the Senate map of competitive races that is more conservative than the country as a whole, including the 10 Democratic senators running for re-election in Trump states compared to just one Republican in a Hillary Clinton state. They believe the tax bill will be a net positive…

Wisconsin House: “How Wisconsin’s Progressive Revival Could Help Randy Bryce Unseat Paul Ryan” [In These Times]. “So who is Randy Bryce [“IronStache”], the man trying to unseat Ryan after the GOP leader’s nearly two decades representing the 1st District? For one, he’s no political novice. For nine years, Bryce served as the political coordinator for the Ironworkers Local 8. In the lead-up to Scott Walker’s election to the governor’s mansion, Bryce campaigned vigorously against him. As Walker moved to gut the state’s public sector unions with Act 10—a “right to work” bill—Bryce led one of the first protests against it in 2010, and became deeply involved in the historic occupation of the state capitol in Madison that followed.” This is a profile piece, so it might be churlish to ask for details on numbers, organization, and ground operations. But. I’d love it if the Capitol Occupations — which, let us remember, preceded Occupy proper — finally bore electoral fruit; too much, perhaps. Can Wisconsin readers comment?

Wisconsin Senate: “Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican machine he’s built in the state are formidable, as Democrats have seen from past elections and legislative fights. [Senator Tammy] Baldwin is one of the last standing Democrats serving statewide in Wisconsin, and the GOP desperately wants to topple her” [HuffPo]. “Walker is up for re-election in 2018, meaning he’ll help bring out Republican voters to the polls. A slew of Democrats seek their party’s nomination to defeat him, but there’s still no clear frontrunner and no one doubts that Walker is formidable.”

“Trump Takes McConnell’s Side in Republican Primaries” [Roll Call]. At Camp David: “I will be actually working for incumbents and anybody else that has my kind of thinking,’ Trump said. When a reporter followed up to ask the president if he might engage in challenges to incumbent GOP senators, Trump turned and looked toward McConnell as he said that he did not envision such a move. ‘I don’t see that happening. I don’t see that happening at this moment,’ he said.” I’ve helpfully underlined the outs that Trump left himself.

Trump Transition

Thread on Trump’s tweet storm in reaction to Wolff’s book:

(Kramer is a film critic at the New Yorker.) Stylistic clues indicate what should really be obvious: We can’t be sure that Trump personally wrote the Tweet. Hence, one might as well trash the reams of excited speculation.

“Trump delays ‘fake news’ awards” [Politico]. Dragging it out with the sure hand of a showman….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The decline and fall of neoliberalism in the Democratic Party” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. This is a good potted history. I’m dubious about Cooper’s claim that the Democrat neoliberal faction is the weakest of the Democrat factions — after all, five (5) of their strategists managed to take the donor class for a cool $700 million in 2016 — but we’ll see how the rest of the series plays out (this is the first of three).

“Did Trump Ever Have a Chance?” [Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo]. I rarely link to Marshall, but this is an interesting piece. This is the key point: ” By this I mean not simply someone who has broken the law. I mean someone who has no inherent respect for the law or great fear of its enforcement and breaks the law more or less casually when it is convenient and relatively safe to do so. Typically, such people see the trappings of the law as little more than a mask for the exercise of power. This is clearly Trump’s view of the world.” Josh, Josh, Josh. Only Trump?!

“I begin from the indisputable premise that anyone who wants to be President is insane or too close to insane to countenance” [Power of Narrative]. “I’ve discussed this issue here, and I will have more to say about it soon. For the moment, I merely emphasize that I don’t mean this fancifully, and I don’t express the point in these terms simply to be colorful. I mean it literally and clinically: anyone who wants this degree of power is extraordinarily dangerous, primarily because he/she is fundamentally disconnected from the realities of life, suffering and death on the ground.” I’m sorry Silber has the flu, but it’s always good to see him posting.

Stats Watch

No stats worthy of the name today. –lambert

Employment Situation: “The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index – which forecasts employment for the next 6 months improved with the author’s saying “The rapid improvement in the Employment Trends Index in recent months suggests that job growth is unlikely to slow down in the months ahead” [Econintersect].

GDP: “Q4 GDP Forecasts” [Calculated Risk]. From Merrill Lynch, the Altanta Fed’s GDPNow model, and the NY Fed Nowcasting Report. “This is a wide range of forecasts (from 2.3% to 4.0%).”

Commodities: “Peru’s environmental deregulation to spur more mining-related protests: analysts” [Mining.com]. “According to [Verisk Maplecrof], if 2017 saw several projects slowing down or stopping due to the 171 formally registered conflicts that took place throughout the country, the approval of the supreme decree 042-2017 in December, which relaxes the environmental permitting process for medium and large-scale mining schemes, will only exacerbate the problem.” Intererestingly, there is an Observatory of Mining Conflicts, a GIS site (in Spanish).

Debt: “Bank lending began to decelerate after oil related capital spending collapsed late in 2014, and then collapsed further about the time of the presidential election” (charts) [Mosler Economics]. “Real disposable personal income flattened and consumer spending slowed but not as much as income, and was instead supported by consumers ‘dipping into savings’…. With income and employment decelerating I can’t see the upside?”

Consumer Spending: “Housing and Consumer Spending Are Powering the Economy like Never Before” [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “The combination of weak overall GDP growth and strong contributions by both residential investment and consumer spending mark the defining characteristic of the current business cycle: Household-related spending is driving the economy like never before. Fully five-sixths, or 83 percent, of total growth since the economy began to recover in 2009 has been fueled by household spending. Hence, the continuation of the current expansion may depend largely on the strength of U.S. households.”

Retail: “Retail workers feel disruption from shifting shopper habits” [AP]. “Best Buy, meanwhile, has begun a free service in key markets where salespeople will sit with customers in their own homes and make recommendations on setting up a home office to designing a home theater system. Best Buy said shoppers spend more with a home visit than they do at the stores. The project follows Amazon, which reportedly has been testing a program that sends employees to shoppers’ houses for free “smart home” recommendations.” “A-B-C. A-always, B-be, C-closing. Always be closing! Always be closing!! A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, decision, action. Attention — do I have your attention?…”

Shipping: “Although the broader U.S. job market added a relatively weak 148,000 jobs, hiring in the construction and manufacturing sectors is surging, potentially promising more shipping in 2018” [Wall Street Journal]. “Trucking companies are showing more confidence in future freight demand than ever. North American fleets added 37,500 orders for new heavy-duty trucks in December, finishing off a robust year for truck manufacturers that saw order books for the full year grow 59% after a steep slump in sales in 2016…. Most of the new orders are from big operators looking to replace existing trucks rather than add capacity. But many older vehicles will move to the secondary used market, providing new rigs as long as companies can find drivers to take the wheel.”

Supply Chain: “Apple Inc.’s famously efficient world-wide supply chain is showing signs of fraying. The electronics giant has been missing delivery dates for new products in recent years, and the time between new product announcements and shipments has more than doubled in the six years since Tim Cook became chief executive, from 11 days to 23 days” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s a surprise for a business held as something of an icon in supply-chain circles for its close management of operations, from handling high-value components from multiple suppliers to distribution to consumers. Competition is raising stresses in the market, however, and Apple and its rivals are straining to match their design and marketing with the physical demands of supply chains.”

Concentration: “How to Curb Silicon Valley Power—Even With Weak Antitrust Laws” [Wired]. “[Silicon Valley] were allowed to grow unfettered in part because of a nearly-40-year-old interpretation of US antitrust law that views anticompetitive behavior primarily through the prism of the effect on consumers. In that light, the tech industry’s cheap products and free services fell somewhere between benign and benevolent.”

Concentration: “Maven CEO James Heckman knows the internet ad and content market, having previously served as the chief media strategist at Yahoo and chief strategy officer at Fox Interactive Media. He said that Maven’s goal is to build a publishing business that’s not beholden to the Google-Facebook duopoly. That requires acquiring premium content sites with a technology platform that allows advertisers to promote across the network” [CNBC].

The Bezzle: “Lawsuit says Eastside realtor and developer conspired to inflate home prices for foreign buyers” [Seattle Times]. “A local developer and prominent real estate agency conspired to prey on Chinese nationals and inflate luxury home prices on the Eastside for their own profit, according to a lawsuit filed in Seattle on Thursday. Two plaintiffs who bought adjacent newly built homes in Kirkland allege that their broker at Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty was actually working on behalf of the builder selling the homes.”

The Bezzle: “The cryptocurrency bubble is strangling innovation” [TechCrunch]. “Cryptocurrencies have now ascended to speculative values that actually preclude any non-speculative uses. They have become so expensive that they are preventing innovation… And as the price of ether has skyrocketed — to more than $1,000 as I write this — transaction fees have done so as well… So if you’re trying to build anything even remotely high-volume atop an Ethereum token — forget it. Your entire business model is catastrophically doomed at today’s prices. As a result, entire categories of cryptocurrency experimentation and innovation are on hold until the bubble bursts, or until / unless Ethereum finds a way to scale such that transaction fees plummet.” So, the author means “innovation” in cryptocurrency, not the way that cryptocurrency speculation sucks up stupid money that would (to be fair, no doubt stupidly) invested elsewhere.

The Bezzle: “[S]mall firms [have rebranded or reoriented] their businesses toward cryptocurrencies, marijuana or fintech in an effort to cash in on the torrid investor love affair with the new businesses. Microcaps previously involved in sports bras, fruit juices and teas have made the move and been rewarded with spikes in their share prices” [Bloomberg].

The Bezzle: “Tesla Model 3: The First Serious Review” [The Drive]. “I love this car, but Tesla cannot solve the Autopilot UI problem fast enough.”

Tech: “It gets worse: Microsoft’s Spectre-fixer bricks some AMD PCs” [The Register]. “Users report Athlon-powered machines in perfect working order before the patch just don’t work after it. The patch doesn’t create a recovery point, so rollback is little use and the machines emerge from a patch in a state from which rollback is sometimes not accessible. Some say that even re-installing Windows 10 doesn’t help matters. Others have been able to do so, only to have their machines quickly download and install the problematic patch all over again …” I love it when Windows randomly decides to update itself and takes over your machine for twenty or thirty minutes to do it….

Tech: “Intel was aware of the chip vulnerability when its CEO sold off $24 million in company stock” [Business Insider]. “Intel says the sale was preplanned — but that plan was put in place months after it learned of the chip vulnerability.”

Tech: “The Great Attention Heist” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “The consequences of this vast gambit for our attention is that we have been drawn into a kind of mental slavery. Masters of profits and propaganda are farming our minds, doing cumulative damage that may go to the very core of our humanity. As a result, our attention is becoming locked into a low level of living and functioning…. As we would not throw a precious jewel into the trash, so we should not surrender our priceless and finite capacity for attention to the merchants for resale.”

Tech: “Google’s true origin partly lies in CIA and NSA research grants for mass surveillance” [Quartz]. Google’s origin story revised for historical accuracy…..

Tech: “Yes, Your Amazon Echo Is an Ad Machine” [Slashdot]. “Proctor & Gamble as well as Clorox are reportedly in talks for major advertising deals that would allow Alexa to suggest products for you to buy. CNBC uses the example of asking Alexa how to remove a stain, with Alexa in turn recommending a Clorox product. So far it’s unclear how Amazon would identify promoted responses from Alexa, if at all. Here’s the really wacky thing: Amazon has already been doing this sort of thing to some degree. Currently, paid promotions are built into Alexa responses, but maybe you just haven’t noticed it. CNBC uses this example: ‘There are already some sponsorships on Alexa that aren’t tied to a user’s history. If a shopper asks Alexa to buy toothpaste, one response is, ‘Okay, I can look for a brand, like Colgate. What would you like?'”

Tech: “[Amazon has] created a new division called Alexa Voice Services, which builds hardware and software with the aim of making it stupendously easy to add Alexa into whatever ceiling fan, lightbulb, refrigerator, or car someone might be working on. ‘You should be able to talk to Alexa no matter where you’re located or what device you’re talking to,’ says Priya Abani, Amazon’s director of AVS enablement. ‘We basically envision a [dystopian corporate hellscape] world where Alexa is everywhere'” [Wired]. And listening precedes talking, right?

Tech: “You Will No Longer Lease a Car. You Will Subscribe to It” [Slate]. “The biggest difference [between a lease and a subscription] is the time frame: Rather than being tied to a years’ long lease, subscriptions give you the ability to “own” a car on a month-to-month basis. You could theoretically not have a car for 10 months of the year when you’re working and using public transit and then get a car subscription for two months when you’ll be traveling more often…. Car subscriptions” appear to be a clear bid to garner favor with tech-savvy millennials in busy metropolitan areas….”

Mr. Market: “After Dow 25,000, the Party Has to End. But When?” [New York Times]. “There wasn’t a single day last year when the S.&P. 500 fluctuated more than 2 percent, a level of low volatility unseen since the mid-1960s, according to James Stack, a market historian and president of InvesTech Research…. ‘Most bull markets die by the sword of the Fed,’ Mr. Stack said.”

Honey for the Bears: “This is where we are.” [The Reformed Broker]. On Ripple: “To recap, someone wrote a piece of software code, called it a currency, and people invested hundreds of billions of dollars into it, making him one of the richest people on earth virtually overnight. The ‘currency’ is not currently in use as anything other than a tradable asset on unregulated exchanges, nor is it decentralized in the way that Bitcoin is – it is centrally owned and controlled by the software company that created it. So basically, it’s an American Express gift card with none of the reliability or utility and 10,000% the volatility…. You can shut your eyes and pretend that your fellow investors aren’t losing their minds, or you can be situationally aware and remember how periods like these have ended throughout market history.”

Honey for the Bears: “How a Secretive Conclave Decides When U.S. Recessions Happen” [Bloomberg]. Why do I need to know this?

Five Horseman: “Amazon blew the top off last week’s chart, as Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet chase it higher” [Hat tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jan 8

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 188.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 74 Greed (previous close: 75, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Jan 8 at 11:37am.

Imperial Collapse Watch

“Why Did New York’s JFK Airport Struggle to Cope With Its Flight Backlog After the Bomb Cyclone?” [Points Guy]. “JFK is a bit of an oddity in terms of terminal operations — the six passenger terminals all operate independently, with absolutely no cooperation of any sort. Essentially, each terminal at JFK is its own little fiefdom with separate operations, management and employees…. An airport cannot function properly when divided into six mini airports without even a modicum of cooperation. When it became clear that terminals were becoming overwhelmed, the Port Authority should have quickly stepped in to manage its airport, forcing terminal operators to work together and providing options for stranded passengers to get off aircraft in a reasonable time span. Unfortunately, it waited an entire day to take any action.”

Class Warfare

“How the Sausage Gets Made: The Hidden Work of Content” [A List Apart]. “I won an Emmy for keeping a website free of dick pics.” Moving data is hard. Surprise!

“All Worked Up and Nowhere to Go” [Amber A’Lee Frost, The Baffler]. Frost was involved in a Twitter dust-up, so I thought I’d l’d look at some of her work; this in analysis of the women’s “General Strike.”

“Wobblies of the World, Unite” [Jacobin]. “The IWW inspired activists in the Ghadr movement, which sought Indian independence from the British Empire. Its members interacted with Chinese republican revolutionaries led by Sun Yat-sen and the anarchists of the Partido Liberal Mexicano as well as its hero, Emiliano Zapata. Its ranks included everyone from socialist tribune Eugene Debs to Ghadr movement leader Pandurang Khankhoje to border-hopping migrant laborers in the American Southwest.”

“The Sioux City free speech fight, 1915” [libcom.org]. “[T]he immediate problem in Sioux City was unemployment relief. While the citizens of Sioux City debated the merits and disadvantages of various relief plans, the unemployed went hungry–especially after timid citizens withdrew their contributions to the IWW soup line. The IWW preached direct action, and it was time to practice what it preached. On January 5, a delegation of 150 of Sioux City’s hungry invaded the posh Commercial Club, much to the astonishment of the town’s businessmen, and demanded work.”

News of the Wired

“A Neuroscientist Explores the ‘Sanskrit Effect'” [Scientific American]. “India’s Vedic Sanskrit pandits train for years to orally memorize and exactly recite 3,000-year old oral texts ranging from 40,000 to over 100,000 words. We wanted to find out how such intense verbal memory training affects the physical structure of their brains.”

“Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases” [National Library of Medicine]. “Our list of 50 terms, grouped into the five aforementioned categories and presented in alphabetical order within each category, follows…. (1) A gene for(2) Antidepressant medication…. (3) Autism epidemic…. (50) Neurocognition….” Plenty of food for thought here!

“Albert Hofmann discovers the effects of LSD” [Lapham’s Quarterly]. The famous bicycle ride….

“Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?” [Guardian]. “The grief exception seemed to have blasted a hole in the claim that the causes of depression are sealed away in your skull. It suggested that there are causes out here, in the world, and they needed to be investigated and solved there. This was a debate that mainstream psychiatry (with some exceptions) did not want to have. So, they responded in a simple way – by whittling away the grief exception. With each new edition of the manual they reduced the period of grief that you were allowed before being labelled mentally ill – down to a few months and then, finally, to nothing at all. Now, if your baby dies at 10am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01am and start drugging you straight away.”

“Woman’s moving final letter goes viral after her death at age 27” [New.com (KW)]. Carpe diem

“Kevin Short, a towering figure in West Hollywood known as WeHo Jesus, dies at 57” [Los Angeles Times]. Just a sweet story….

“[VIDEO/PHOTOS] It’s International Silly Walk Day” [Punch]. “Over 250 people joined the march in Brno, Czech Republic, organised by Adam Jandora, Deputy of the Left Leg Department of the Ministry of Silly Walk; and Dan Masek, Secretary of the Government Committee for the National Silly Walk Integration.”

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

Winterberries from an ice storm, some years ago….

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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.

85 comments

    1. Lee

      I’m with the General here.

      This link took me to a Chevy commercial and then found below a great 4 minute video of a grizzly chasing bison for about 3 minutes. Then the bison got organized and started chasing the bear. Looked like Lamar Valley in Yellowstone, a place where I have seen such wonders firsthand and where I intend to have my ashes scattered. Not in the immediate future I hope ; )

      Grizzly chases then chased by bison.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hRUli8AKH5w

      Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, that is a great tweet, but see Mimi Kramer’s tweet storm for qualifications. Fun’s fun, but…

      Je repete: I saw the exact same tactics used against Bush. I did it myself! And Bush won two terms. So who’s really being p0wned here?

      Reply
  1. Synoia

    If a shopper asks Alexa to buy toothpaste, one response is, ‘Okay, I can look for a brand, like Colgate. What would you like?’”

    1. Buy an Alexa.
    2. Get a dog. Call dog Alexa.
    3. Refuse to pay for anything Alexa buys for you.

    Reply
  2. Jim Haygood

    time between new product announcements and shipments has more than doubled in the six years since Tim Cook became chief executive, from 11 days to 23 days’

    Short version: The Sorrows of Bigness

    When a work colleague is located nearly half a mile around the circumference of the Apple spaceship, you’re more likely to message them than meet in person.

    At least till Apple installs a mass transit system in its monumental white elephant.

    ‘So long, and thanks for the four miles of radiused hallways,” as Saint Steve might’ve said.

    Reply
  3. Damon A Harris

    Re: “Did Trump Ever Have a Chance?” I stopped reading TPM after it fully embraced the Muscovite Candidate theory but it still gives good insight into what passes for political thought among the Democratic laity and attendant blindspots. Reading TPM is a bit like eating Taco Bell off of fine china — you know it is somewhat absurd but at least it looks elevated.

    Marshall does a neat trick here: framing Trump and his family as crooks without ever describing the crime. I particularly liked the “doing things that are clearly illegal” and “intergenerational criminality.” He also neatly elides the much larger issue: that Trump has correctly recognized that the status quo is institutionalized criminogenic control fraud — that is using legal mechanisms (or lack thereof) to defraud. In fact, so much of what we fret over with Trump may indeed be perfectly legal –outside the bounds the consensus standard for “good behaviour” certainly, but legal nonetheless.

    This recognition/exploitation of the institutional environment is not unique to Trump or Republicans, as has been pointed out so many times here at NC, but this never registers with the Democratic party faithful. Marshall comes SOOOO close in analogizing “A Piece of the Action” — that the status quo is an interlocking system of scamming, skimming, and insider action.Skirting away from this, Marshall effortlessly falls back to making Trump’s behaviour a “bug” and not a feature of the status quo. I still can’t tell if this is willful blindness or if the Democratic base (bi-coastal, white collar workers) have drunk their own virtuous Kool-Aid.

    Reply
    1. Marco

      “…Reading TPM is a bit like eating Taco Bell off of fine china — you know it is somewhat absurd but at least it looks elevated.”

      +1000

      Reply
    2. Procopius

      I don’t know if it appears at TPM, I rarely read anything there, but another phrase I see among “those people” is, “There’s abundant evidence …” and they never cite any.

      Reply
  4. Matthew G. Saroff

    Oprah Winfrey Is The Kindest Bravest, Warmest, Most Wonderful Human Being I’ve Ever Known In My Life

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      That one always gets a laff.

      Lambert neglected to file the Oprah speculation under Just Shoot Me. After once declaring Obama “The One” Oprah can now declare herself The One. It’ll be the battle of the TV titans.

      Reply
  5. Tomonthebeach

    Oprah for POTUS. That should lock in votes for Trump from the misogynists and racists. Such an event would be a new hysterical – no, I mean – historical first: two entertainers vying to run the entire federal government. One has no experience in government whatsoever, while the other has proved himself highly incompetent at the job. Will the choice be like the Emmy’s? Who is best lead in a virtual reality drama? After all, Winfrey has competition. There is The Rock (Dwayne Johnson), Chris Rock, Katy Perry, Tom Hanks, Will Smith….

    I am a big fan of Winfrey. She is highly capable, rich, civil, caring, rich, liberal, rich, accomplished, and did I mention rich? I will not summarize Trump’s background, but aside from his uncivil narcissism, it is not so much different from Winfrey.

    Meanwhile people on the left like Warren and Sanders – people with real government experience and a coherent vision for change (and unchanging Trumps many harmful fiats) will sit on the sidelines with the rest of us eating popcorn and wondering when our government first became a reality TV show.

    Reply
      1. ambrit

        Yep. The ‘Kitchen Cabinet’ hired an old ‘B’ actor to portray the President, with an out of town tryout in California. 1981 was when the POTUS became a TV show. (Notice that I left out the ‘reality’ part.)
        I’d say that, like Imperial Administrations everywhere and everywhen, the government runs itself, for itself.

        Reply
    1. edmondo

      I am not automatically against Oprah running for president. In fact, if she adopts Bernie’s platform, I’ll even vote for her and donate $27 to get her there.

      I know who she is. WHAT does she stand for? is a much more important question.

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Just being sarcastic, what if as President she wants a jobs program and say to an audience in announcing it: “You’ve got a job! You’ve got a job! You’ve got a job! You’ve got a job! And you’ve got a job!

        Reply
          1. JTMcPhee

            At least he made jobs for a Special Ops and Reaper and Predator pilot/operators and “related occupations. And bankers of course…

            Reply
    2. Kurtismayfield

      This bumper sticker makes itself:

      “No fresh ideas.. just Oprah”

      “Oprah 2020, cause we got nothing else but a charismatic minority”

      “Oprah.. our billionaire neoliberal is better than theirs”

      Oh, and the whole “Women United and angry” thing from all these rich beautiful people really strikes me hollow. Start standing up for the average looking talented young woman first, then we will talk. The legacies doing it (Paltow, Jolie) makes it even more of an empty gesture.

      Reply
      1. perpetualWAR

        How about “Our billionaire is better than yours: Oprah”

        Or “Oprah: the ‘green’ candidate with the $50 million house”

        Or “I hate sexual predators in public, yet schmooze with Harvey in private: Oprah”

        Reply
    1. clinical wasteman

      I remember a lot of “President George Clinton” partisanship from 1992, before meme infrastructure even existed to support it. If only.
      Robbie Shakespeare and Tracy Pew are bass players on the same exalted level as Bootsy, but one is Jamaican and the other Australian and dead. Is is too late to crowdfund constitutional change?

      Reply
      1. HotFlash

        Jamaican may be a problem, depending on where he was born, but dead — I think that is definitely a no-go.

        Reply
  6. Darius

    The Walter Shaub Twitter thread quickly devolves into proposals for prequalifying presidential candidates with sanity tests, upright personal finances and credentials, like advanced degrees. To which I say how about an agenda like Medicare for All and full employment?

    Reply
  7. Vikas Saini

    Re: Google’s origin story. That would make the coziness between Schmidt and folks in certain agencies in DC all the more natural.

    Reply
  8. diptherio

    Quoting your Josh Marshall quote

    “…someone who has no inherent respect for the law or great fear of its enforcement and breaks the law more or less casually when it is convenient and relatively safe to do so. Typically, such people see the trappings of the law as little more than a mask for the exercise of power. This is clearly Trump’s view of the world.”

    That is cleary my view of the world as well. Don’t most of us have this view of the law on some level? Doesn’t everybody jaywalk or fail to report some under-the-table revenue “when it is convenient and relatively safe to do so”? I thought we were supposed to have inherent respect for the dignity of others, and respect for the law insomuch as it defends the dignity of persons. I think Marshall has mistaken “right and wrong,” or some such concept, for “the law.”

    Reply
  9. Annotherone

    Re: Boomlet – “Oprah Winfrey is “actively thinking” about running for president” – GROAN!
    If she did run, then to dilute the crazy a little, I would fervently hope that Susan Sarandon would run too. She at least supported Bernie in 2016, and would show up Winfrey’s stances for what they are – pure Establishment Dem.

    Reply
    1. Dan Filliol

      So The Donald must be “actively thinking” of a new nickname for his newest rival, Oprah Winfrey. Methinks he should cease and desist.

      Reply
  10. Mark Gisleson

    I only lived in Paul Ryan’s CD from 2013-2017 but have spent my entire life in Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin so I do think I have a feel for the issues in this district.

    Doing research for a 2016 Democratic primary candidate, it didn’t take long to discover that unions are all but dead in this district. Party activists are exhausted, as much by the cluelessness of the state party as by their own history of losing election after election after election. Party hypocrisy is a big reason why.

    No one wanted to run against Ryan in 2016, so a citizen candidate-plumbing engineer stepped up after the 2014 election to run against him. A geek, Boy Scout, serious student of Ryan’s proposals, and a dead ringer for Ned Flanders’ older, nicer brother. No, not someone who could beat Ryan and the state party (acting, I believe, under the unbelievable constraints placed upon them by the DNC/Clinton campaign) pretty much ignored my guy. Then from out of nowhere another unknown candidate emerged and the official word was: This is a contested primary, the party will do nothing for either candidate and may the best one win. [My guy was then told to ditch the Bernie stuff or he’d hopelessly divide the CD. He did, I gave up and frankly, so did he. The other guy won the primary and Paul Ryan somehow scraped together a 69-30 win over this flat-tax hugging, abortion-only-to-save-the-life-of-the-mother, Navy vet and Mormon look-alike for Paul Ryan.]

    Contrast that with almost everyone (who doesn’t live in the CD) endorsing Randy Bryce early in this cycle despite his having a serious opponent, Cathy Myers. This just ‘happened.’ No official reversal of policy, no speeches or articles by leading WI Dems calling for a different strategy. Just simply a bunch of out-of-staters jumping into a contested primary for no reason other than they hate Paul Ryan. [Exactly like they did for Al Franken in MN in 2007, a full year before the DFL primary.]

    If you want Randy Bryce to win (I’ve donated to him but am since very undecided), you should be very alarmed by the national (read ‘fundraising’) nature of his campaign. That is not how you beat the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

    If you study Eric Cantor and Tom Foley’s losses and apply some common sense, it’s pretty obvious you only beat the big guys with unknowns by running low-profile campaigns based on local issues with lots and lots of volunteers on the ground in the district. That’s not what Bryce is doing, and thanks to Bryce sucking all the money out of the Democratic side of the race, Myers has little chance to build such an organization.

    Bryce is using an out-of-state team to run his campaign. Another huge mistake. I have no clue what they need all that money for other than to pay themselves. Ryan’s gerrymandered district is served by a highly fragmented media market and cannot be bought with TV/radio. Not unless you want to do serious buys in all of the following markets:

    Madison
    Milwaukee
    Racine/Kenosha
    Chicago (Chicago media competes directly with Milwaukee for eastern CD news)
    Janesville/Rockford (IL)

    Only a well organized grassroots campaign can beat Ryan in this CD. I personally suspect that while Bryce has raised a ton of money, Myers would be the tougher candidate for Ryan to beat, in part because she looks tough (grew up working in her dad’s I-80 truckstop in Iowa).

    While I’m pretty sure this is a proscribed word, I think Myers’ ‘battleaxe’ potential could be huge. Republicans respect battleaxes. There is this weird belief among many that Republicans fear strong women. Not at all, they just prefer a different kind of strong woman and they do not have to look like Fox News hosts. A tough, hard-nosed female candidate would run well against Ryan. More important, a battleaxe would make Ryan look weak in debates.

    But mostly I’d just like to say that you shouldn’t vote in CDs you don’t live in with your money. You may mean well, but Congressional races don’t work that way, at least not in the upper Midwest. Bryce is probably not the strongest candidate available this cycle, but the nomination is his thanks to non-Wisconsonian money. How he’s going to earn the CD’s trust with Gwen Moore’s endorsement, I can’t even begin to guess. If celebrity endorsements follow, he probably won’t even hit 40% in the general. It’s that kind of district.

    Reply
    1. Darius

      Let Bryce lose this one. Then perhaps Myers can pick up the pieces next time if DCCC doesn’t come in and suck out all the oxygen.

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Yah, keep that powder dry. Let us unlimber my old endless (until that magical November day in 2016) Cubs-fan mantra, “Wait til next year! We’re gonna take it all!”

        Reply
    2. Left in Wisconsin

      This sounds basically right to me (not my district either). Except I think you overestimate the logistical advertising issues. There are no Kenosha/Racine or Janesville TV markets – only radio and print – and there is no need to advertise on Chicago TV. Milwaukee, Madison and Rockford would do and the latter two are small markets and, though I don’t know for sure, presumably not too expensive.

      I’ve been suspicious of the Iron Stache since he appeared out of nowhere with that first, very polished ad. But I think he is so far doing a good job. Not sure he is the better of the two D candidates but he is going to outraise her by a mile and so far the media seems happy to pretend Myers doesn’t exist, so I think it will be hard for her to really challenge him.

      But I’ve said before and will say again, Ryan is not going to be beat. On the other hand, I could see him stepping down and I’m not sure the next Repub up (i.e. someone like House Speaker Robin Vos) is unbeatable.

      Oh, and to Lambert’s question about the Act 10 protests finally bearing fruit, I don’t think so. There are many, like the Stache (who I don’t personally recall having any presence at the protests), who still try to hitch themselves to the protests. But any effort to build off the protests died years ago, as mainstream Dems never really knew what to do next and various “left entrepeneurs” tried to set up different and competing organizations to build off (or at least fundraise off) the protests.

      This is where we are at: the mainstream Dems are still completely clueless and the various leftish orgs/ops/movements (OR Wisconsin, Wisconsin WF, etc.) all seem to be controlled by the same people, whose track record over the last 20 years is not good.

      Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Contrast that with almost everyone (who doesn’t live in the CD) endorsing Randy Bryce early in this cycle despite his having a serious opponent, Cathy Myers. This just ‘happened.’ No official reversal of policy, no speeches or articles by leading WI Dems calling for a different strategy. Just simply a bunch of out-of-staters jumping into a contested primary for no reason other than they hate Paul Ryan. [Exactly like they did for Al Franken in MN in 2007, a full year before the DFL primary.]

      Thanks. This is a really great comment. This too:

      > Bryce is using an out-of-state team to run his campaign.

      Please kill me now.

      > Ryan’s gerrymandered district is served by a highly fragmented media market and cannot be bought with TV/radio.

      That’s a fascinating use case for gerrymandering not covered in the usual scenarios. (I suppose you could defeat it by blanketing the entire state, but that’s expensive… and can’t target the fragments.)

      Reply
  11. Kevin

    “I begin from the indisputable premise that anyone who wants to be President is insane or too close to insane to countenance”

    I have felt similar for some time – really look forward to your elaborating this.

    There’s the school of thought that those with empathy and a desire to help are ones who are also reluctant to step into limelight and glare of celebrity (which the office now seems to require)

    Reply
    1. DonCoyote

      The major problem—one of the major problems, for there are several—one of the many major problems with governing people is that of whom you get to do it; or rather of who manages to get people to let them do it to them.
      To summarize: it is a well-known fact that those people who must want to rule people are, ipso facto, those least suited to do it.
      To summarize the summary: anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job.
      To summarize the summary of the summary: people are a problem.

      Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Douglas Adams

      …the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
      “Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”
      “I did,” said Ford. “It is.”
      “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
      “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
      “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
      “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
      “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
      “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in.”

      So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish, Douglas Adams

      Reply
  12. Jim Haygood

    After Dow 25,000, the Party Has to End. But When?

    Nine years into Bubble III, the MSM remains skeptical, reminding oblivious revelers that the party must end. True enough. But the historical record shows that in a bubble’s final run for the roses, the MSM shifts to “blue skies ahead” mode, telling punters what they want to hear: that they can’t lose.

    When stocks blast off during the first five days of January, an up year results about 70 percent of the time. People who ignored stocks at Dow 20,000 now have caught a bad case of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) at Dow 25,000. “Take my money, please!” they shout at their brokers.

    All that’s missing to put a cherry on top of Bubble III is for the illustrious James K Glassman to issue an updated edition of his 1999 classic, Dow 36,000. Glassman’s co-author was Kevin Hassett, formerly an economist at the Federal Reserve — the quasi-governmental cabal which manufactures the monetary rocket fuel to launch these destructive asset inflations.

    And wouldn’t you know — as of Sep 13, 2017, the very same Kevin Hassett is now chairman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors. Buy now before prices go up! /sarc

    Reply
    1. Summer

      It’s all about CONfidence.
      No way can they let economic realism hit at the same time as a political cluster f – – -.

      Reply
  13. djrichard

    WaPo doing its duty and carrying water with respect to trade imbalances

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/amphtml/news/fact-checker/wp/2018/01/08/trumps-repeated-claim-that-we-dont-have-a-surplus-with-anybody/

    The CRS report notes that some policymakers see the large deficit with certain countries as the “unfair,” result of foreign trade policies. But while changes to those policies may have some effect on the trade balance, they would not bring down the overall U.S. trade deficit, because it “is largely a reflection of the level of U.S. savings.” Without changes to U.S. consumption and savings, the researches note, “an increase in U.S. exports would likely result in an increased demand for imports, and the overall U.S. trade deficit would likely remain relatively unchanged.”

    And

    The borrowing allows Americans to “enjoy a higher rate of economic growth than would be obtained if the United States had to rely sole[ly] on domestic savings,” which “boosts U.S. consumption and the demand for imports, producing a trade deficit.”

    Nothing about currency pegging and US allowing for repatriation of currency through asset purchases instead of purchases of goods and services. Oh well can you blame the CRS? Apparently the CRS is funded by the legislative branch; looks like they know what their audience wants to hear.

    Anyways, had to laugh at this in the report as well

    The CRS researchers point out that the trade deficit creates a “dual problem for the economy” — it generates debt that must be paid back in the long run; and current generations must pay interest on that debt.

    The Chinese central bank just loves collecting interest on those bonds, lol.

    Now in theory, China’s central bank could simply let the treasuries it has in hand mature and retire the debt that way. But then they’re left holding a lot of US dollars and what are they going to do with that? Buy goods and services from the US? As if. If anything they use the US dollars to purchase yuan when the yaun needs to be strengthened in the face of capital flight out of China. And ignoring that, their central bank will just swap the US dollars for more bonds again. That’s what the hoarders of surplus do.

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      P.S. I would take this fight onto the comments pages of WaPo itself, but they now require having a subscription to do that. I refuse to subscribe to the WaPo.

      Reply
    2. johnnygl

      WaPoo and CRS,

      Please repeat after me, domestic investment and consumption is NOT, NOT, NOT financed by domestic savings.

      Banks lend first, then go figure out how to fund that loan book. There is no bank in the country that is sitting around waiting for your payroll deposit to clear so they can fund a loan. The bank borrows from somewhere else to fund it. Banks may be capital constrained, but aren’t liquidity constrained unless it’s a crisis. They shouldn’t be capital constrained unless it’s a crisis, either.

      Trying to put on my MMT hat and channel my inner Randy Wray. Please help me out if i’m not doing so correctly.

      Reply
  14. allan

    Cuomo’s Plan to Sue Feds Over Tax Bill Faces Big Hurdles, Legal Experts Say [New York Law Journal]

    … Last week, Cuomo, a Democrat, laid out a litigious agenda for the year arguing that the federal government was punishing blue states, such as New York, with it’s recently passed tax overhaul legislation. During his annual address to the state Legislature, Cuomo said his administration believed that the GOP tax plan signed by President Donald Trump in December was “illegal” and that the state would “challenge it in court as unconstitutional.”

    Law experts queried by the New York Law Journal doubted the likelihood of success of such a legal challenge …

    Darien Shanske, a University of California, Davis tax law professor, said Cuomo’s plan to sue the federal government over the tax overhaul is “not particularly likely to succeed” in court, especially since the 16th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1913, allows Congress to collect taxes on incomes.

    “For the federalism claim, because the definition of income is broad and it’s up to Congress to define it … Congress can make rational distinctions if it wants to,” Shanske said. …

    Thomas Brennan, a tax professor at Harvard Law School, said Cuomo’s plan to sue the federal government over the tax plan would be “difficult.”

    “My own thought is it would be a challenging thing to challenge this law on constitutionality, at least the SALT (state and local taxes) restriction,” Brennan said of the proposed Cuomo administration lawsuit. …

    “Not particularly likely to succeed” and “Difficult” are diplomatic legal language for “You and what army?”
    Cuomo is a former attorney general of New York undoubtedly knows that his public posturing is a fraud.

    Reply
  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Collusion with Mexico and Canada?

    “Trump launched the promised NAFTA renegotiation in August, but U.S. corporate interests have persuaded Canada and Mexico to not engage on U.S. proposals to transform NAFTA in ways that U.S. unions, small businesses and consumer groups have long argued would slow job outsourcing and downward pressure on U.S. wages. As a result, the January 23-28 Montreal round of NAFTA talks has become a pivot point. If Mexico and Canada do not engage, the prospect is heightened that Trump may give notice to withdraw from NAFTA. NAFTA entered its 24th year on Jan. 1, 2018.”

    But Mexico or Canada is not Russia.

    Reply
  16. diptherio

    Re: Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

    I was surprised to see that they had gotten rid of the grief exception in the DSM. I was taught that you couldn’t be diagnosed with depression if you’d recently moved, lost a job, ended a relationship, or had someone close die. Seems crazy that they would remove that, and crazy that people keep using the DSM, quite frankly.

    Hari discusses the Whitehall study, which I also referenced in an article that is directly related to Hari’s:

    http://www.geo.coop/story/health-and-hierarchy

    What many cooperators have known intuitively for a long time, now turns out to have empirical, scientific grounding: hierarchy is bad for your health (unless you happen to be on the top).

    Actually, that formulation might be a little too broad.

    It’s not hierarchy per se that seems to lead to stressed-out, unhealthy individuals – it’s the felt lack of control over one’s life and environment that generally accompanies having a low position in the hierarchy. The more stratified and rigid the hierarchy one finds oneself in, the more stress that results from not feeling in control of one’s situation, and the worse one’s overall health and life expectancy [1]. Stress by itself can actually be invigorating – like the stress of exercise or of watching a scary movie – but when combined with a feeling of helplessness, it becomes an overwhelmingly negative experience.

    And, of course, in rigid hierarchies, powerlessness is not just a feeling – it is a reality. Many of us who do not work in the cooperative field are familiar with suffering the consequences of decisions in which we have had no say, and of not having control over the results of our efforts and ideas. The very structure of our non-cooperative workplaces all but guarantees the majority of us will suffer the same negative health effects documented by doctors Sapolsky and Marmot.

    In order to avoid these deleterious effects, our hierarchies – if we’re going to have them at all – need to be relatively flat and provide a maximum of voice and agency for the individuals involved. In short, they need to be a organized like a co-op.

    Reply
    1. 3.14e-9

      The thread about depression on this morning’s links included some commentary on the Guardian article, the best being Craig H’s link to Scott Alexander’s blog (superb, thank you!) and Basil Pesto’s lucid response. My history is similar, other than the privileged upbringing. In addition, I had an experience parallel to perpetualWAR’s, only there was a physical injury involved, so that I was laid out flat on my back for two years, the depression compounded by excruciating physical pain.

      I agree with OregonCharles that Pesto’s opinion of the Guardian article was exceptionally restrained. I don’t feel any need to refrain from calling it utter BS. The only thing I can add to the discussion is that Hari is absolutely wrong about the bereavement exclusion in the latest edition of the DSM, DSM-5. It was not removed, but refined.

      The reasoning was that people who are in bereavement, be it due to the loss of a loved one, physical assault, or one of many other stressors, might also be clinically depressed. The new edition differentiates between major depressive disorder and the normal consequences of bereavement, and adds criteria for telling them apart – specifically so that bereavement will not be diagnosed as mental illness and treated as such, while a patient with underlying depression will be recognized as more vulnerable to severe depression, which could have dire consequences if left untreated.

      Hari’s claim, “Now, if your baby dies at 10am, your doctor can diagnose you with a mental illness at 10.01am and start drugging you straight away,” is preposterous, whether through ignorance or deliberate dishonesty. Either way, it blows his credibility. But some of us already knew that.

      Reply
    2. Daryl

      One thing the article hinted at but didn’t address is the fact that, so long as our society continues functioning the way it does, a lot of people are going to be stuck doing jobs where they have little control over things. Debt compounds the issue by making it much harder to switch jobs or bail entirely.

      Psychology/psychiatry, whatever their validity, only get the chance to address this after it becomes a problem.

      Reply
    3. The Rev Kev

      The fact that the causes of depression and its treatment are so misunderstood is bizarre. It’s not like we have never had this condition before. Here is a short list of life stresses-

      The death of a loved one
      Divorce
      Loss of a job
      Increase in financial obligations
      Getting married
      Moving to a new home
      Chronic illness or injury
      Emotional problems (depression, anxiety, anger, grief, guilt, low self-esteem)
      Taking care of an elderly or sick family member
      Traumatic event, such as a natural disaster, theft, rape, or violence against you or a loved one

      I would say that the death of a baby would rank pretty high here but the idea that chemical medication will fix all the resulting depression is wrong on so many levels. If nothing else, people must encounter stress and problems and s*** situations in their lives so that they can cope and grow and change. They need a friend or counselor – not a pill. Life is change and the most that pills can do for depression is to mellow out the reaction of people to it to give time to resolve it but resolve it is a must lest it fester. Meanwhile the prices on the stock market for the pharma industry continue their climb…

      Reply
  17. clinical wasteman

    the twitter dust-up involving Amber A’Lee Frost seems grim & often solipsistic on most sides. Wouldn’t rule out that she might be plain/offensively wrong about something/anything, but her writing for the Baffler is admirable throughout as far as I can see.
    Not sure whether the events that caused her sometime co-writer Sam Kriss unilaterally to erase himself are related (& possible seriousness nohow downplayed here), but disappearance of one & vilification of the other = unhappy news whether necessary or not in either case or both. It’s not like there’s such an abundance of human sympathy+avenging wit out there that much can be spared.

    Reply
  18. Isotope_C14

    I donated Lambert, to the water cooler.

    When ya’ll have a Berlin meetup, I got a spare room too. I can get an extra air-mattress and make it good for 2 if ya’ll need to save on lodging. I’m not too bad a cook, and am willing to cook non-vegan for guests.

    I’m super not rich, and in fact part of the 63%. So if ya’ll can donate and match the tip jar, I’d be pretty impressed with an impromptu matching campaign. I forgot to do it for the Real News Network too :/, but i didn’t know what I would have in the bank after the last paycheck.

    Be well.

    Reply
  19. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Is everything you think you know about depression wrong?

    So can we do away with the term ‘social science’ yet?

    Reply
  20. Montanamaven

    I would like to thank you, Lambert, for linking to Arthur Silber. Because he is often sick, I was worried he had finally left us. But he’s alive and still operating on all cylinders. I couldn’t agree with him more. I have this conversation weekly. “But Clinton would have been better than Trump.” And I just look at them and say, “She was really crazy and would have started WWIII.” And they stare at me as if I’m just the crazy aunt.

    Reply
    1. human

      To them I say, “You will never convince me that she has a kind bone in her body.”

      And to everyone, send what you are able to to Arthur.

      Reply
  21. RWood

    The recent, sharp, startling echo in my culvert of “slave” and “slavery”, the waning of humaneness:

    In those times, there was no such thing as a “humane” way of killing the noxii. On the contrary, their suffering was supposed to be an example – the more they suffered, the better. They were tortured, beaten, flogged, crucified, tortured, chocked, dismembered, burned, and more. It seems that they could even be killed also for theater plays: when the plot involved the death of a character, the actor playing it could be replaced with a noxius who would be killed for real for the edification of the audience. (Tertullian reports this, although it is not clear how common it was)
    http://cassandralegacy.blogspot.it/2018/01/the-romans-and-us-why-state-violence-is.html
    et
    Tech: “The Great Attention Heist” [Los Angeles Review of Books]. “The consequences of this vast gambit for our attention is that we have been drawn into a kind of mental slavery. Masters of profits and propaganda are farming our minds, doing cumulative damage that may go to the very core of our humanity. As a result, our attention is becoming locked into a low level of living and functioning…. As we would not throw a precious jewel into the trash, so we should not surrender our priceless and finite capacity for attention to the merchants for resale.”

    Reply
  22. Wukchumni

    PARIS (Reuters) – Iraq has reported an outbreak of highly pathogenic H5N8 bird flu in Diyala in the center of the country, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said on Monday.

    The virus was found on Dec. 27 at a farm of 43,000 birds and killed 7,250 of them, the OIE said in a report posted on its website, citing the Iraqi ministry of agriculture.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-birdflu-iraq/iraq-reports-outbreak-of-highly-pathogenic-h5n8-bird-flu-oie-idUSKBN1EX1PS
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    A new mutation first found in late 2016, something new to obsess over.

    Reply
  23. ewmayer

    o “Oprah’s powerful Golden Globes speech (transcript, video)” [Atlanta Journal-Constitution] — I suppose even after 8 years of Obama it was too much to expect the digital-ink-stained wretches toiling away at the nation’s corporate-MSM propaganda outlets to ratchet back even a smidgen of their credulity when it comes to falling for Soaring Rhetoric™ not backed up by – or outright conflicting with – actual concrete, detailed, policy proposals, but I for one have had more than a lifetime’s fill of ‘powerful’ speechifying signifying nothing, or even worse, of the deliberately false-narrative variety. “Well all know the press is under siege”, Oprah? Well, maybe the corrupt, dismal, lying !%&$@^ press deserves to be under siege, has that possibility even occurred to you? But hey, since unlike the likes of the Zuckerbergian squillionaire class Oprah is only a single-figures-billionaire, I’m sure she keenly feels the pain and plight of the bipartisan-neoliberal project’s victims.

    o “Maven CEO James Heckman knows the internet ad and content market…” [CNBC]. — Isn’t Maven the platform that Mike Shedlock switched to a few months back? The one so profoundly crapified that Mish links from NC readers are now a once-every-few-months-rare occurrence? I had one look at the new layout, couldn’t find any content not needing multiple clicks to even preview, haven’t been back since. Thanks for giving me more time to spend on NC and Wolf Street, guys!

    o “The Bezzle: “The cryptocurrency bubble is strangling innovation” ” — But the craziness has been a boon for darkly-humorous blogging, cf. Wolf Richter’s recent Wolf Street Changes Name to Wolf Blockchain, Shares Soar 2,000%, Company & Founder Sell 10 Million Shares.

    o “Tech: “You Will No Longer Lease a Car. You Will Subscribe to It” [Slate]” — Replace the PR-buzzword “subscription” with “rental” to better appreciate the level of “disruptive innovation” in play here. “Let’s see, we’ve got lease-by-the year on the one hand, and rent-by-the-day-or-week on the other … I’ve got it! How about something in between those two extremes? Genius! Nothing like this has ever been thought of before!!”

    o “The Sioux City free speech fight, 1915” [libcom.org]. “[T]he immediate problem in Sioux City was unemployment relief. While the citizens of Sioux City debated the merits and disadvantages of various relief plans, the unemployed went hungry–especially after timid citizens withdrew their contributions to the IWW soup line. The IWW preached direct action, and it was time to practice what it preached. On January 5, a delegation of 150 of Sioux City’s hungry invaded the posh Commercial Club, much to the astonishment of the town’s businessmen, and demanded work.” — Now see, if the posh Commercial Club had only had a posh Commercial Icon like Oprah Winfree to stand up and give a powerful speech putting those greedy hordes of Deplorables in their places…

    Reply
    1. 3.14e-9

      “Well all know the press is under siege”, Oprah?

      This seems to be a Hollywood parrot phrase. Meryl Streep said the same thing, almost word for word, during an interview on one the morning talk shows. She was there with Tom Hanks promoting the new Spielberg film, “The Post,” about The Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers in 1971. We’ll be reading a lot more about how “timely” it is, given the current attack on freedom of the press, our very Democracy!

      The interview included Bob Odenkirk, who plays Ben Bagdikian, a senior editor and driving force behind the Post’s decision. When I was in journalism school in the early eighties, Bagdikian was more of a role model than Woodward and Bernstein. All I could think of during Streep’s idiotic commentary was Bagdikian’s warning about the decline of journalistic integrity. In today’s corporate media environment, his famous admonishment to his journalism students seems quaint:

      Never forget that your obligation is to the people. It is not, at heart, to those who pay you, or to your editor, or to your sources, or to your friends, or to the advancement of your career. It is to the public.

      I had to wonder whether it was lost on Odenkirk, who sat there next to Hanks and barely said a word.

      https://www.thenation.com/article/ben-bagdikian-knew-that-journalism-must-serve-the-people-not-the-powerful/

      Reply
      1. ewmayer

        Yes, I had intended to “post” something over the weekend on the forthcoming latest-Hollywood-hagiography-of-the-heroic-WaPo but it fell through the cracks, thanks for doing it.

        Re. Odenkirk, maybe he’s so grateful/overawed at recently being promoted to the Hollywood A list as a result of his (wonderful) Better Call Saul character that the idea that many (if not the overwhelming majority) of the H’wood establishment are rich, famous but ultimately utterly and even destructively clueless twits hasn’t yet crossed his mind. That’s life inside the hermetically sealed celebrity bubble.

        Reply

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