2:00PM Water Cooler 2/7/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The apparently targeted killing of a Chinese shipping executive in Pakistan is sending shudders through China’s trade community and the broader shipping world. Counterterrorism police are investigating the murder of Cosco Shipping Lines Co. local managing director Chen Zhu, who was shot as he sat in a car in the port city of Karachi” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]he killing comes as Beijing invests more than $55 billion in infrastructure in Pakistan, a showcase country in China’s $1 trillion “one belt, one road” transport-and-logistics program…. There was no initial suspect, and no claim of responsibility. But rebels in the region have threatened to attack Chinese people, accusing them of grabbing resources.”

“Imports went for the gold in 2017 and set records in several major categories in the Commerce Department’s monthly trade report. Those included combined goods and services, which hit nearly $2.9 trillion; services by itself ($533.9 billion); food, feeds, and beverages ($127.8 billion); capital goods ($640.6 billion); automotive vehicles, parts, and engines ($359.0 billion); and consumer goods ($602.2 billion). The U.S. also had record imports from 47 countries in 2017 led by China ($505.6 billion), Mexico ($314 billion) and Italy ($50 billion)” [Politico]. “Everyone’s favorite underdog, exports, also had a good year. Combined goods and services were the second-highest on record at $2.4 trillion. They also increased 5.5 percent from 2016. Exports of services alone hit a record $777.9 billion. The United States also had record exports to 29 countries, led by Mexico ($243 billion), China ($130.4 billion), and the United Kingdom ($56.3 billion).”

“New U.S. trade figures could reverberate across the flow of goods on the Pacific. The U.S. trade deficit soared 12% last year to the highest level in nine years, as the imports that dominate trans-Pacific shipping jumped 6.7% to a record high. Goods imports were especially strong late in the year, growing 2.9% from November to December” [Wall Street Journal]. “The goods deficit with China alone rose 8% last year to a record $375.2 billion, or more than half the total U.S. trade gap. Broader trade expansion has been a boon to shipping companies, which have been helped by the strong growth in volumes in both directions. They’re anxious to keep that business growing, whether it’s balanced or not.”

“U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is headed to Capitol Hill this morning to give House Ways and Means members a rundown on NAFTA talks. The visit comes amid growing complaints from members and staff that Lighthizer is dropping the ball when it comes to keeping Congress up to speed on NAFTA negotiations” [Politico]. “The frustration over Lighthizer’s engagement, particularly with regard to KORUS, spans across partisan lines in both chambers.”



“Taking back the House will be harder than Democrats think” [WaPo]. “For an electoral wave to rise high enough to wash a majority-making two dozen House seats into the Democratic column, the party will have to take territory that Hillary Clinton could not.” And a nice metaphor: “One thing to remember about waves. Most of them break before they reach the shore.”

“GOP Slackers Endanger House Majority” [National Journal]. “There doesn’t need to be a Democratic tsunami to win some of these seats. All it takes are unprepared Republican members, overconfident about their reelection prospects and ideologically cocooned in their hard-right caucus. Here’s how vulnerable many of these members are: Of the 23 Republicans representing seats that The Cook Political Report rates as “likely Republican,” 12 were outraised by at least one Democratic challenger in the most recent fundraising quarter. By contrast, only one Democratic member in the same “likely Democratic” position was outraised by a GOP challenger. Many of these newly targeted Republicans posted unusually low fundraising numbers… The previous two wave elections in the House (2006, 2010) featured plenty of members who lost because they didn’t do much to help themselves.”

Pennsylvania: “PA-18 Special Election a Key Test for Dems’ Labor Support” [RealClearPolitics]. “Winning back support from working-class voters has been a central Democratic concern since many bucked the party to support Donald Trump, helping him secure the presidency.” In some Democrat factions, yes, not including the leadership. More: “Even though labor leaders backed Hillary Clinton and mobilized on her behalf, national exit polls showed she won 51 percent of union households, a seven-point drop from President Obama in 2012. Trump won 48 percent of union households, an eight-point uptick from Mitt Romney.” And: “PA-18 is in the heart of Trump country: It’s in the southwest corner of the state, covering a wide swath from the West Virginia border to the suburbs of Pittsburgh. It’s overwhelmingly white, heavily working-class, and the president carried it by nearly 20 percentage points in 2016. It’s a union-heavy area, with more than 87,000 union members or household members, from service employees to teachers to steelworkers and coal miners.” And: “National Democrats have tried to prioritize that economic message, but have struggled to break through Trump’s outsize control of the news cycle.” No, they haven’t. They prioritized other messages, including Russia and DACA. Now they are trying to pivot, or, more precisely, this writer’s sources are trying to give him the impression they are: I’m sticking with my story, which is that the key constituency Democrats are going after is college-educated suburbanites.

Missouri: “Democrats snag Missouri House seat, Republicans hang onto 3 others in special election” [St Louis Post Dispatch]. “Democrat Mike Revis snagged nearly 52 percent of the vote compared to Republican David Linton’s 48 percent… Revis, meanwhile, described himself as a centrist Democrat focused on education, expanded access to health care, and support for the labor community. He attributed the win to grass-roots organizing by his network of family, friends, fellow Democrats and the labor community.” Not sure how this race is differentiated from the other three.

2016 Post Mortem

“IG poised to reignite war over FBI’s Clinton case” [The Hill]. “[Michael Horowitz], the Department of Justice (DOJ) inspector general, is an increasingly critical player in the controversy surrounding the FBI, President Trump and the Russia investigation. With little fanfare, he has been conducting a sprawling probe of the FBI’s handling of the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. His full report, which could set off shockwaves, is expected by the early spring.”

Health Care

“Our broken health care politics are hurting instead of helping Americans” [Andy Slavitt, USA Today]. “Our new group, United States of Care, is looking for solutions that have the support to last — no matter which party is in charge of the government.” (Here is @USofCare’s “Board of Directors & Founder’s Council.”) Lambert here: Until @USofCare (1) discloses its funders, (2) puts some skin in the game on policy, and (3) includes just one single payer advocate on its Board of Directors*, it should be regarded as an AstroTurf organization, designed to — once again — head off #MedicareForAll in the event of a Democrat wave in 2016. (The DCCC and DSCC have been helping such an effort by crippling #MedicareForAll supporters whenever they can. They are, in other words, running the 2006 playbook all over again). I encourage readers to add @USofCare sightings in comments, for a future takedown. NOTE * By “advocate,” I don’t mean the newly converted Jon Favreau (!) but a subject matter expert from, say, PNHP. Somebody like Steffie Woolhandler would be nice.

Slavitt calls Stoller a troll. That won’t end well:

That escalated quickly.

Fun fact: @USofCare board member Frist, when a medical student, obtained cats from shelters fraudulently, and dissected them.

UPDATE “Strange Bedfellows? Group Unites Old Foes in Hunt for Health Fix” [Bloomberg]. “The organization is trying to prepare for an eventual opening for bipartisan policy making, while heading off [Medicare for All] increasingly volatile swings in health policy when political fortunes shift in Washington. Already, potential Democratic contenders for the 2020 presidential election are signing on to Senator Bernie Sanders’ ‘Medicare for All’ bill, which has more than a dozen co-sponsors in the Senate.” And more on the 60 board members:

Among other health-care executives taking part are Bernard Tyson of Kaiser Permanente, David Torchiana of Partners Healthcare, Tony Tersigni of Ascension Health, Steve Safyer of Montefiore Medical Center, Judy Rich of Tucson Medical Center, BlueCross BlueShield North Carolina Chief Executive Officer Patrick Conway, Dignity Health’s Lloyd Dean, and Richard Gilfillan of Trinity Health. Rhonda Medows, an executive vice president at Providence St. Joseph, is also on the board.

I’m sure all these executives are just dying to tear up their meal tickets…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Missouri governor Eric Greitens, along with his staff, are the targets of a recently-filed public records-related lawsuit [PDF]. Two St. Louis County attorneys are accusing the governor of dodging public records laws with his use of Confide, an app that deletes text messages once they’re read and prevents users from saving, forwarding, printing, or taking screenshots of the messages” [TechDirt]. “The governor’s use of the app flies in the face of the presumption of openness.”

“I Feel Like We’re Replaying World War I’: A Conversation With Ben Katchor” [Pacific Standard]. “‘This is a crazy time, a mental age. You look at our politics and … well, I was shocked that Hillary [Clinton] was the best opponent that could be found to run against [Donald] Trump,’ Katchor says. ‘It’s obviously a business, a racket, and it’s controlled entirely by businessmen. How can you fail to address that in your art, even if only obliquely?'” Interview with the author of the classic comic strip, “Julius Knipl, Real Estate Photographer.”

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of February 2, 2018: “The volume of purchase applications for home mortgages remained unchanged on a seasonally adjusted basis” [Econoday]. “Mortgage rates continued to rise and accelerated their climb in the week.” And: “Still going nowhere” [Mosler Economics].

Debt: “Canceling $1.4 trillion in student debt could have major benefits for the economy” [MarketWatch]. “Wiping away the $1.4 trillion in outstanding loan debt for the 44 million Americans who carry it could boost GDP by between $86 billion and $108 billion per year, on average for the 10 years following the debt cancellation, according to a report published by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College…. Wiping away the $1.4 trillion in outstanding loan debt for the 44 million Americans who carry it could boost GDP by between $86 billion and $108 billion per year, on average for the 10 years following the debt cancellation, according to a report published by the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College.” Remarkable to see the Levy Institute and Kelton getting a respectful mention on Wall Street!

Shipping: “Should the Shipped on Board Date and Bill of Lading Date be the same..??” [Shipping and Freight Resource]. “Releasing a bill of lading without a date will put the carrier at risk as the client can put any date they want and the carrier may be exposed to all sorts of claims and other issues including shipping and freight fraud etc.” For shipping paperwork nerds. But also an implicit set of requirements for anybody seeking to automate the process.

Shipping: “Ohio’s Rickenbacker joins US airport scramble to capture online retail traffic” [The Loadstar]. “The drive to attract e-commerce streams hinges on rapid customs clearance. The airport authority recently obtained approval for an expedited customs clearance facility at Rickenbacker…. Many B2C shipments do not require clearance, as they do not exceed the de minimis threshold, but they still have to be declared and face possible scrutiny from customs. Any factor that adds a day to transit time seriously undermines e-commerce logistics ambitions, due to the ‘Amazon effect’ of customer expectations of short delivery cycles.”

Shipping: “Teamsters withdraw demands banning UPS use of drones, autonomous vehicles” [DC Velocity]. “Teamsters union negotiators have withdrawn a contract demand that UPS Inc. ban the use of drones and autonomous vehicles to carry out package delivery services, according to a dissident Teamster group. Denis Taylor, who heads the Teamsters’ package division responsible for labor relations between the Atlanta-based company and the approximately 256,000 union members who handle UPS’ main business line, pulled the proposal, according to a note published yesterday on the ‘Teamsters United’ website. Teamsters United was a slate formed prior to the union’s 2016 general election largely out of dissatisfaction with the mainstream Teamster leadership…. According to the site, UPS has also proposed to launch Sunday deliveries with the option of using part-time drivers operating their personal vehicles. The company has also requested all new employees deliver packages using their personal vehicles, Teamsters United said. The union opposes both proposals.”

Shipping: “Elon Musk’s Tesla overshot Mars’ orbit and is headed to the asteroid belt” [The Verge]. To be nice to Musk, the re-usable boosters are pretty keen.

Travel: “The fourth quarter of 2017 was not a normal one for the hotel industry with the lingering impacts of natural disasters artificially pumping up performance in some markets to the point that they buoyed overall performance numbers” [Hotel News Notes].

Housing: “The housing market continues to operate in a very lean environment. Home builders are building but are focusing their efforts on multi-family units to cater to a growing renting population. Builders are also shy about placing big bets given the recent memory of the previous housing bubble. Places where they can build freely like Arizona, Nevada, and Florida are known to pop as quickly as they go up in value. And in areas like California, where NIMBYism rules the day, people are now convinced that prices will never go down so the ratio of bulls to bears is extremely high” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “Inventory has been bouncing near the lows for almost six years now… What this means for house buyers is that you are going to encounter slim pickings, house lusting shoppers, and a market sentiment favoring sellers. If you are buying, you are not in the driver’s seat. If you are selling, you can command top dollar even for a shanty crap shack.”

Big Ag: “Archer Daniels Midland Co. is looking to grow, but the question is whether it will merely buy more grain or acquire a competitor. The food-products supplier wants to push deeper into South America and Asia to capitalize on expanding agriculture production and growing populations” [Wall Street Journal]. “ADM is also looking to jumpstart expansion by taking over smaller rival Bunge Ltd. as it seeks to bulk up crop trading and processing in regions where it has a light footprint. The potential consolidation would mark a new step in for global agriculture commodities operations following several tough years marked by steep oversupply and massive harvests that has sent crop prices lower and pressured profit margins.”

The Bezzle: “According to Good Jobs First’s “Violation Tracker,” since 2000, HSBC has accrued $4.8 billion in penalties in 23 criminal and civil enforcement actions” [FCPA Blog]. “HSBC’s top offenses include banking violations, anti-money-laundering deficiencies, fraud, toxic security abuses, and mortgage abuses. While this total accounts for violations that occurred over nearly two decades, HSBC’s chronic recidivism appears to have gained momentum in recent years.”

The Bezzle: “Banks Cheer Return of Wild Markets” [Wall Street Journal]. “Banks have blamed placid markets for lackluster returns in their big trading operations. This week they’re cheering the big market swings, seeing hope for a boost in fees that dropped off a cliff last year. ‘Anything that brings back volatility would be good,‘ said Peter Tchir, macro-investing strategist at New York-based Academy Securities LLC. ‘Maybe we could see a return to better quarters’ for banks across their fixed-income trading businesses, from currencies to interest-rate hedging.”

The Bezzle: “Inside Airbnb’s Battle to Stay Private” [Bloomberg]. “The founders and early employees have little financial incentive to push for an IPO. They have cashed in about $350 million worth of equity, said people with knowledge of the matter. Chesky found an ally in Sequoia Capital, the largest outside shareholder with a 13 percent stake. The venture capital firm didn’t support a proposal to go public in 2018, one of the people said.”

The Bezzle: “After McGinn left Facebook, he founded a new market research firm named Honest Data. On January 27th, he posted the results of a poll he had conducted regarding opinions of Facebook. The poll, which surveyed 2,000 Americans using Google Consumer Surveys, asked respondents to evaluate a list of companies and mark which ones ‘are having a negative impact on society.’ Among tech companies, 32 percent of Americans said Facebook is harmful. A separate survey, which placed Facebook among other large brands including Walmart, McDonald’s, and Marlboro, found that 27 percent said it is harmful” [The Verge].

Mr. Market: “Was that a stock-market crash? Do the math, and check the yield curve” [MarketWatch]. “This selloff has occurred amid concerns that a sharp rise in interest rates will eventually choke off economic growth. But with very low unemployment, gross domestic product growing at a healthy pace and fourth-quarter S&P 500 SPX earnings rising in the double-digit range, there’s still no sign of a slowdown on the horizon…. Although the selloff could continue over the shorter term, without an inverted yield curve or an extended decline into bear-market territory, the selloff, [22-year market veteran James Norman, president and head of equity strategy at QS Investors LLC], said, still looks pretty ‘normal’ and ‘healthy.’ And based on conversations with clients, and with friends and family, for that matter, there are still no signs of anything more than a correction on the horizon. ‘We have not found that people are in any way panicked,’ Norman said. “People have asked what’s going on,” but they are not scared to the point of action, he said.”

Mr. Market: “Opinion: This is why the stock market is wrong to fear rising wages” [MarketWatch]. “One of the catalysts for the recent selloff in the stock market was the report last Friday that average hourly earnings (that would be wages) increased by 2.9% over the past year. This was the largest gain since the Great Recession, and it led to a lot of speculation that the Federal Reserve (just off Constitution Avenue in Washington, D.C.) would have to raise interest rates a little more than expected this year to make sure that wages (and inflation) don’t go too high… My question to investors and policy makers on this point would be: Have you been in the real world lately? Do workers have any bargaining power over companies to set wages? Do companies actually raise their prices in response to paying higher wages? It may have been plausible in the 1970s, when many workers’ pay was protected by automatic cost-of-living increases and when companies could easily raise prices, but the theory of wage-push inflation cannot be taken seriously in today’s world. Do higher wages led to higher inflation? No…. Investors and policy makers who worry about high wages have it exactly backwards. Higher wages are exactly what the economy needs to keep the expansion going. Higher wages would lure more would-be workers back into the labor force. Higher wages would give companies an incentive to invest more in capital goods and services, which would in turn boost productivity and living standards. Higher wages would let more families to reach their dreams. Isn’t that what the economy should do?”

Fodder for the Bulls: “Prime Working-Age Population At New Peak, First Time Since 2007” [Calculated Risk]. “The U.S. prime working age population peaked in 2007, and bottomed at the end of 2012. As of January 2018, according to the BLS, for the first time since 2007, there are now more people in the 25 to 54 age group than in 2007…. Changes in demographics are an important determinant of economic growth, and although most people focus on the aging of the “baby boomer” generation, the movement of younger cohorts into the prime working age is another key story…. The good news is the prime working age group should grow at 0.5% per year (depending on immigration policies), and this should boost economic activity.”

Five Horsemen: “After the first hour of trading Amazon is at a fresh record high” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Feb 7 2018

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 18 Extreme Fear (previous close: 17, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 62 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Feb 5 at 7:00pm. Lagged. The bots updating the index are too busy checking their portfolios?

Police State Watch

This story in Baltimore is finally getting some national press as shown in Links this morning. It’s unbelievably rancid, even for the city of The Wire:

“Convicted Baltimore police detective testifies that he stole money with slain Det. Sean Suiter” [Baltimore Sun]. “A convicted Baltimore police detective testified Monday in the Gun Trace Task Force trial that he used to steal money with Det. Sean Suiter, the city homicide detective whose fatal shooting in November — one day before he was to have testified before a federal grand jury in the case — remains unsolved.”

“How a Dirty Baltimore Cop’s Vendetta Derailed a Promising Rapper’s Career” [Noisey]. From 2017, still germane. “Moose should be reaping the rewards that come with his position as a trailblazer for the modern wave of Baltimore street rap. But he has been repeatedly held back by legal trouble, much of which can be traced straight to one Baltimore police officer who residents compare to Denzel Washington’s dirty cop in Training Day and who is currently under federal indictment for corruption.”

Class Warfare

“The Boss Recovery” [Jacobin]. “Stock markets have been swooning, in no small part because last Friday’s US employment report showed that average hourly earnings (AHE) — the average wage, excluding benefits, received by private sector workers — rose smartly in January. This prompted fears that inflationary pressures are mounting, wages will eat into profits, and the Federal Reserve might raise interest rates more aggressively than had been thought as recently as last Thursday. Or, as the New York Times put it in a headline, with its patented mix of dullness and alarm: “Powell Becoming Fed Chief as Economy Starts to Show Strain.” What these scaremongers aren’t telling you is that it’s only bosses that are getting the raises…. 80 percent of the workforce has seen no acceleration, on average, in wage growth — which, by the way, is barely ahead of inflation.”

“Slavery and the American University” [New York Review of Books]. “From their very beginnings, the American university and American slavery have been intertwined, but only recently are we beginning to understand how deeply. In part, this can be attributed to an expansion of political will. Barely two decades ago, questions raised by a group of scholars and activists about Brown University’s historic connection to slavery were met with what its then-president, Ruth Simmons, saw as insufficient answers, and so she appointed the first major university investigation. Not long before that, one of the earliest scholars to independently look into his university’s ties to slavery, a law professor at the University of Alabama, began digging through the archives in part to dispel a local myth, he wrote, that “blacks were not present on the campus” before 1963, when “Vivian Malone and James Hood enrolled with the help of Nicholas Katzenbach and the National Guard.” He found, instead, that they preceded its earliest students, and one of the university’s first acts was the purchase of an enslaved man named Ben. In Virginia, a small consortium founded three years ago to share findings and methods has expanded to include nearly three dozen colleges and universities across North America and two in European port cities. Almost all of these projects trace their origins to protests or undergraduate classes, where a generation of students, faculty, archivists, activists, and librarians created forums for articulating their questions, and for finding one another.”

“Modern feminists aren’t a patch on the suffragettes” [The Spectator]. Backing the headine: “Of course, it is thanks to the efforts of the suffragettes that giving the vote to women was on the agenda at all. Over 1000 women were imprisoned, with many going on hunger strike during a sustained fight for suffrage. These brave women deserve all the commemorative concerts, plays, column inches and public debates. Today’s feminists might like to compare themselves to the suffragettes, but they don’t even come close.” But the article is much more interesting on the expansion of the franchise than the headline indicates.

News of the Wired

For train fans:

“In an Absolute State: Elevated Use of Absolutist Words Is a Marker Specific to Anxiety, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation” (PDF) [Clinical Psychological Science]. ” Words, phrases, and ideas that denote totality, either of magnitude or probability, are often referred to as ‘absolute.’ Absolutist thoughts are independent of context and unqualified by nuance… Absolutist and nonabsolutist words indicate magnitudes or probabilities; absolute words do so without nuance (i.e., always, totally, entire), whereas nonabsolute words indicate some degree of nuance (i.e., rather, somewhat, likely).” Here’s the list of absolutist words the authors developed:

If this study is valid, I’d like very much to throw the absolutist words against a sample of political discourse…

“A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates” [Amazon]. ZOMG, the reviews!

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please 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 (WB):

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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. Annotherone

      Yes, lovely photograph – the wall in the background reminds me of a Jackson Pollock painting.

          1. ambrit

            If it were mine, I’d settle for $57000 and let him or her hang it on their pavement if so desired.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I think it is a wall. The big particles in it look the same size from right next to the grass to farthest up the picture. If it were ground, highest-up-the-picture would be “farther away” and the big particles would look smaller the higher-up-the-picture you look.

          1. John Zelnicker

            @drumlin woodchuckles
            February 7, 2018 at 8:09 pm
            I believe the photo is taken from directly above the grass and pavement, looking down. The top is not far enough away from the grass for the effect you describe.

            And if you look near the left edge, it seems like you are looking straight down on the tops of the grass.


    The wording in the NYRB article is confusing, as at first I thought they were referring to the literal institute of higher learning know as American University and not the general concept of institutes of higher learning in America.

  2. Summer

    “The budget deal increases defense spending this year by $80 billion and domestic spending by $63 billion above strict budget caps, according to a summary of the deal obtained by POLITICO. Next year, defense spending will increase by $85 billion and domestic funding will be boosted by $68 billion beyond the caps. The deal also includes $140 billion for defense and $20 billion for domestic in emergency spending.”

    Degenerate war culture in action. Didn’t the Dream Act include provisions for providing cannon fodder?

    1. Jim Haygood

      Yep — mil service is an alternative to college for obtaining permanent residency under the Dream Act. With all of that ending in four weeks absent an extension, Nancy Pelosi has taken to the floor all day today:

      House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday staged a marathon speech on the floor of the House that was designed to protest the lack of progress on a deal for so-called Dreamers.

      Pelosi, using her powers for what’s called a “leadership minute,” staged what looked like a Senate-style filibuster, telling stories about those who entered the country as a child illegally. She started speaking shortly after 10 a.m. Eastern, meaning she has spoken for at least six consecutive hours, while sipping water on occasion.

      Shortly after 4 p.m. Eastern, she turned to lawmakers and said she would speak for another hour.


      Given the Congressional penchant for ignoring deadlines, Pelosi probably is correct in believing that only a high-stakes showdown will force the R party to reach a compromise that our openly europhile president could care less about.

      Having gotten a draft deferment himself, he vicariously enjoys seeing jackbooted, black-clad ICE troops bust into auto body shops, nail salons and taquerias brandishing automatic weapons and cart away everyone present who’s not blond-haired and blue-eyed.

      It’s good to be white,” as they say in the Casa Blanca. /sarc

      1. Wukchumni

        ‘People are not wanting to go to work.’ ICE checks at Central Valley firms spread fear.

        “At least 40 workers at Bee Sweet Citrus in Fowler lost their jobs after federal immigration agents began checking employee records last week, searching for people who are not legally allowed to work in the United States.

        The enforcement action is part of an ongoing effort by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to make sure employers aren’t knowingly hiring someone who is undocumented.”


        And almost immediately, 40 whites clamoring for citrus jobs, took their place…


        1. tegnost

          Oh come on, you know it’s all about the benjamins, I knew many apple pickers in my youth and would do it myself but for the same reason I can’t stay i southern california, you can’t compete with illegal immigrants. Not possible. In that atmosphere there are in fact probably not, as you say, 40 “white people” of suitable motivation immediately available, but it is not entirely the workers fault for not being in a place where one being competed with unfairly, as well as being in an environment where cultural views such as yours are the norm.

          1. Wukchumni

            You do realize these jobs are 4 days working, and then a lapse of a week until the next crop comes in and then a week of work, followed by 2 weeks of being laid off. Not many white folks, or Hispanic people for that matter, want piecemeal work.

            For what it’s worth, i’ve seen many thousands of field workers here in the Central Valley, and i’ve yet to see a non Hispanic in any capacity, working outside.

            There was a nice article on the Resnicks yesterday, and one thing struck home…

            Lynda Resnick said that a 20 year old field worker looks 20, a 30 year old field worker looks 40, and a 40 year old field worker looks 60.

            The average age in the Ag business is 45 now. We’ll be fast approaching a stage where the fruit just rots on the tree, if ICE scares them all away.

          2. MoBee

            “I knew many apple pickers in my youth and would do it myself…”

            Well, tegnost, our neighbors are being rounded up and deported by the feds, so now is your chance to relive your halcyon apple picking days!

            If capital can move freely across borders, then workers should be able to as well.

            1. tegnost

              yeah well I can’t go anywhere so you may say I should be able to but I can’t. And as I said immediate replacements might not be available but if you raise the pay and wait a little I’m sure that void will be filled. That the illegal immigrants who were brought here in order to pound down the proud nail of the native worker (god forbid they unionize), their plight, while truly distressing, is not my problem, sounds like it may be yours though and no I have nothing against latin american workers, it’s the people who hire them that I have a problem with.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          ” Whites” is a bogus proxy for “American citizens and other legal residents”.
          Pay a high wage and force the growers to provide good conditions and you would get citizens and other legal residents taking those jobs. But you can’t pay a high wage until illegal immigrants are removed from the country and until every would-be illegal employer of illegal immigrants goes to America’s worst prisons and does America’s hardest time in America’s worst prisons for hiring illegal aliens at low wages and bad conditions.

          Of course that would force up the price of oranges. That would be the price of full and fair employment. People who are not willing to pay a fair-wages-and-conditions price for oranges do not deserve to have oranges. Or any other food either.

          1. zapster

            Or better still, it would cut into CEO bonuses and share payouts. We can refuse to pay the higher prices *and* insist on the same rights for all workers, legal or not. That would solve the entire problem. Billionaires are not necessary for a healthy economy.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Billionaires are not necessary for a healthy economy

              I’d put it more strong form: Billionaires are inimical to a healthy economy.

              The social function of capitalists under capitalism is to allocate capital. It’s hard to argue they’re doing a very good job of that, even in their own terms: There’s so much money sloshing about it’s going to fradulent enterprises like Uber.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > that would force up the price of oranges. That would be the price of full and fair employment.

            > would cut into CEO bonuses and share payouts

            Yes and double yes.

      2. Darthbobber

        A high-stakes showdown that her own party has already demonstrated its unwillingness to engage in for more than a symbolic period of time? Im sure that has the Trumpies quaking with terror.

        Could be wrong but I’m guessing this is the setup for “I did what I could. Even made the book of world records for you. Have a nice flight. We value your business.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      My god, why would she do all that stuff to her family. After reading it I was struck by something I read once from the 19th century. I was about servants at the time and it was said that dealing with servants all day long that you serve your servants as much as they serve you. From what she writes, nothing has changed with all her digital servants having to be constantly attended to.

  3. Jay

    On Absolutist Words: as an editor, I’m a bit more sensitive to how people use language than the average bear. I’ve noticed this uptick toward using these–I’ve informally called them “superlatives”–and for me at least, they have been for some time a “bullshit tell.” One important word missing from the list is “most,” as in “the most amazing, most beautiful wall you’ll ever see.” Another candidate, although not a word in itself, is the suffix “-est.” Ex: “The biggest Brooklyn Bridge I can offer you for sale today.” It would appear that this habit, or mindset, is geared toward gulling the less sophisticated among us, rather than as an indicator of anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation. I associate the use of “absolutes” or “superlatives” if you prefer, as indicators of deception; not only of the audience to such entreaties, but also perhaps self-deception of those who give such utterances. As a result, although I’m no psychologist, it seems more appropriate to put under the “sociopathy” section of the DSM. I can’t dredge up any youtube examples, but if your spidey senses start tingling when watching someone use these words and language constructions, you’ll often find exaggerated movement, wide eyes, and frequent smiling, some might say “duping delight.”

    1. Yves Smith

      See Listen, Liberal. Frank has a section in which he describes how members of the elite regularly high-five each other with these sort of excess to describe what they’ve done or how supposedly accomplished they are.

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Matt Stoller seems illuminative here:

      “The political crisis we are facing is simple. American commerce, law, finance, and politics is organized around cheating people.”

    3. Harold

      Hyperbole. But also a sign of what psychologists call “black-and-white thinking.” The quantification aspect may be new, but I don’t think the concept of its being associated with emotional issues is completely new.

    4. Tomonthebeach

      Case and Deaton (2015, 2017) and recently Deaton (NYT 2018) emphasize hopelessness whereas Al-Mosaiwi and Johnstone focus on depression. Although it is tempting to lump them together, hopelessness is an external attribution – as Dean Baker might say; the system is rigged, “I cannot change my situation.” whereas depression is more an internal attribution; “I am impotent to change my situation.”

      As their lit review wanders, and their study elides over dichotomous thinking in favor of a handful of absolutist terms, I think there is far more yet to learn. Nevertheless, Al-Mosaiwi and Johnstone seem to be pursuing an intriguing issue.

  4. Wukchumni

    Fun fact: @USofCare board member Frist, when a medical student, obtained cats from shelters fraudulently, and dissected them.

    Hippocatic Oath:

    Frist, do no harm.

  5. Croatoan

    On “In an Absolute State: Elevated Use of Absolutist Words Is a Marker Specific to Anxiety, Depression, and Suicidal Ideation”

    Make me wonder about our culture as a whole when one of the most profitable corporations sells devices with an “I” in the name of all it’s products.

    1. laughingsong

      I honestly think they may be onto something. I know little of psychology but have dealt with depression and have many friends who have had, well, rough times.

      But I would REALLY love to see Lambert use his wonderful analysis/synthesis skills to apply this verbiage to present-day rhetoric, and then others to compare with overseas. One of the things my Irish husband and I have talked about a lot since moving to the States from Ireland is how Americans always go directly up to 11 in a way that did not happen in Ireland (except of course in Leinster House but they take a lot of drugs, I hear :-D). As a matter of fact we are very nostalgic for the lovely Irish penchant for humorous understatement.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > wonderful analysis/synthesis skills

        [lambert blushes modestly]

        I wish I had software that would suck up a representative sample of elite discourse and then I could throw this list against it.

    2. hemeantwell

      Top o’ my head, but what about “none” and “only.” Ahh, but they needed to keep the list short. And then there was this: “Three words, anything, need, and needed” were moved from the absolute to the nonabsolute list. Good! But it’s fairly amazing that they would be moved to think of the word “need” as absolute. Seems like they are playing with a rather feckless notion of subjectivity.

      In any case, the differences between groups aren’t that great, though they’re statistically significant. I hope this doesn’t eventually inform some stripped down assessment protocol.

      1. integer

        Specifically, a cultural dysfunction that appears to be the result of a top-down driven process that has led to the Balkanization of Western culture. Divide and conquer.

  6. Greg

    I have been hearing a lot of noise from contacts in the logistics industry that the Chinese approach to OBOR developments is making locals in many countries very unhappy. Basically the “investment” is being executed entirely with imported Chinese labour, so the actual economic impact on the regions they’re “investing” in are small to negative. Pakistan specifically has problems with the sheer number of Chinese immigrants that are being brought into Karachi, which already had a fairly rambunctious population of local discontents without adding culture and economic clash into the mix.

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Let the record show that the “Communist” state is disliked for being too capitalist with its neighbors while the “Arsenal of Democracy” is hated around the world for its authoritrian militarism.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Basically the “investment” is being executed entirely with imported Chinese labour, so the actual economic impact on the regions they’re “investing” in are small to negative.

      Interesting. And that is how they’d do it. At the most basic level, that means the local compradors can’t buy off their own people with “good jobs and good wages.”

      1. ambrit

        Consistent with the Chinese policy in places like Tibet, Sinkiang, etc., those ‘temporary’ Chinese workers might stay on in the locales that they worked in to ethnically infiltrate Chinas’ bordering regions. This would be a serious problem for host countries. The Chinese can prove that Chauvinism is originally a Han Chinese word. /s

        1. Greg

          Sorry for the necro, but yes to both of those. Combine it with guanxi to keep the leaders of the inv(ad/est)ed country on side and you don’t have a lot of ways to stop it happening, given the weak state of populist opposition. Good way to build an empire, with the same sort of “not responsible for actual running costs” effect as the old pax americana had. Grab the resources and access where needed, don’t worry about the locals.

  7. Socal Rhino

    Love the Amazon comments re random digits. And maybe another person pointed this out (I only read a random sample of reviews), but you do realize that the “RAND” corporation labels itself with the first four characters in random. Coincidence?

    1. visitor

      The comment suggesting sorting the random numbers for easier reference, and the other recommending reading them with the book on “how to avoid huge ships” (whose entry in the Amazon catalog itself comes with reams of humorous appreciations) were top.

  8. XXYY

    Strange Bedfellows? Group Unites Old Foes in Hunt for Health Fix (Bloomberg)

    Another alarming bit from this piece:

    [US of Care] plans to start small, providing support for policy changes at the state level. The aim is to develop and test ideas that could eventually be applied in other states and nationwide. The Obama-era ACA law, which drew on a Massachusetts health-care overhaul under Republican Governor Mitt Romney, is a precedent for such an approach.

    So in other words, let’s get health insurance lobbyists to stealthily write more social program legislation at the state level, then leverage these “bipartisan” programs for the entire country.

    Sounds like a plan.

    1. ChrisPacific

      A quick bit of Googling revealed what Stoller is talking about:


      NEW YORK, NEW YORK – October 10, 2017 – General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm, announced today that Andy Slavitt, former Acting Administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the former Group Executive Vice President at Optum, will become a Special Advisor to General Atlantic. He will bring a special focus on healthcare investments in underserved populations.

      Curiously Slavitt does not mention this anywhere. Also curiously there seems to be no summary of current and recent efforts to improve US healthcare (other than ACA) such as Medicare For All.

  9. Paul Cardan

    The Pacific Standard headline caught my eye, because I like the WWI simile. I started thinking about the Great War again after having to suffer through the beginning of an audiobook by Richard N. Haass. Amidst fawning references to the scholarly achievements of Henry Kissinger, he claims that WWI is proof that leaders of great powers can act irrationally. In some sense, that’s true, but it’s also true that they all had their reasons. An Austrian colonel wanted to impress a woman, not his wife, and needed a war with Serbia to do it. Italian nationalists yearned for an Italy that would be something much more than a geographic category, and there’s nothing like a war for “lost territory” (Trento and Trieste) to unite a people. Russia couldn’t afford another affront to national honor, especially given the domestic situation, while the German military thought war with Russia both inevitable and better fought sooner than later (given demographic trends). The only path to victory passed through Belgium. France had to correct the record (of 1870), and Britain couldn’t stand alone. None of them could have known that the military technology of the day gave the defense a decisive advantage over any possible offense. Rational agents, one and all.

    That was then and this is now. There’s nothing like a war to distract from a domestic scandal, even if it, the scandal, is fake. Nothing like a scandal involving treasonous collusion with a foreign adversary to hamstring the enemy to the right while staving off the challenge from the left, even if the foreign adversary isn’t an adversary. The supposed traitor won high office by, among other things, saying whatever he had to say to make a sale with certain voters. He picked the right means for his end, unpleasant consequences for others be damned. The scandal mongers had to select a “more of the same” candidate in order to make a sale with a quite different group of people, people who badly wanted more of the same and were prepared to pay for the privilege. Again, means to an end. They all have their reasons. And here we are.

    1. Wukchumni

      I read Guns Of August eons ago and set me on a course to read all of Barbara Tuchman’s works, and the French were all about Élan, and made juicy targets wearing red pantaloons for a spell early in the festivities. If you haven’t read it yet, start with The Proud Tower, that sets everything in motion for countries to lose their minds.

      1. Summer

        2014 – lots of books came out, were re-issued, or moved to the front of the bookstore about WWI. I read 1913, The Proud Tower, and The War That Ended Peace.

        After reading the following article, this book on WWI is next:
        The Great Class War – by Jacques Pauwels

        “In 1887, Frederick Engels made a chilling prediction of the war that would come in 1914:

        The only war left for Prussia-Germany to wage will be a world war, a world war, moreover of an extent of violence hitherto unimagined. Eight to ten million soldiers will be at each other’s throats and in the process they will strip Europe barer than a swarm of locusts. The depredations of the Thirty Years’ War compressed into three to four years and extended over the entire continent; famine, disease, the universal lapse into barbarism.

        This prediction was not the result of second sight. It was a conclusion derived from the premise that “war is the daughter of capitalism,” first proposed by Engels with Marx in The Manifesto of the Communist Party of 1848. “The bourgeoisie is always in a struggle . . . against the bourgeoisie of all foreign states,” they wrote, and this struggle is so bitter as to lead inevitably to an “industrial war of annihilation among nations.”

        In his study, The Great Class War, Jacques Pauwels supports this thesis, focusing on those who suffered the most and on those who profited the most. Bu his study goes further. From Pauwels’ analysis, the war emerges as both a crime and a punishment—a crime perpetrated by the capitalist powers and a punishment for the betrayal of socialism, in which the working class of the whole world paid the highest price…..”

    2. visitor

      None of them could have known that the military technology of the day gave the defense a decisive advantage over any possible offense.

      Odd, since the fairly recent experience in the Russo-Japanese war should have taught them the proper lessons.

      1. ambrit

        There were plenty of forewarnings, but no one of “consequence” could raise the requisite countervailing power to stop the marching morons. The concept of ‘Fate’ comes into play.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Those warnings go back even earlier. It was during the later stages of the US Civil war that showed how a strong defense with the use of trenches made attacking them prohibitively costly to attack. I believe that the rule of thumb is that for every soldier defending a position, you need to send three soldiers against him to take his position. There were plenty of European officers attached as observers to each army but it seems that they never took that hard earned lesson back with them.

        1. visitor

          Well, yes, the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-1878 and the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871 are relevant as well regarding the kind of damage entrenched defenders could inflict on attackers.

          However, it was the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-1905 that combined the systematic recourse to trenches and other fortifications with the large-scale usage of modern repeating rifles, machine guns, and rapid firing field artillery into the kind of daunting defensive positions that would dominate WWI — and the corresponding artillery barrage with frontal infantry attacks typical of offensive operations during that war.

          The surprising thing is that the Russo-Japanese war was a major topic of debate and analysis at that time, and its conclusion a bit shocking for people imbued with the idea of the superiority of Western armies. Thus, ten years before WWI, the lessons of how modern wars between relevant, modern, sizable military powers were there to be drawn — blatantly so.

          1. JTMcPhee

            And the lessons were that “War is good business,” and “only mopes do all the dying.” And if one looks a little deeper and from great height, one also learns that our “warlike species has a death wish.” Cuz we sure do like us our war…

            Anyone care to offer a different view of what the central organizing principle of our global political economy is? I mean, not the squishy ones provided by our smarmy “spiritual leaders…” with the possible exception of MLK?

            1. integer

              Not exactly an answer to your question perhaps, but one might hope for, and work towards achieving, a global political economy based on an organizing principle that ensures individuals who obtain power that is significantly disproportionate to their indisputable status as merely one of approximately 8 billion people, will only be tolerated if said power is wielded with the commensurate amount of responsibility to those who stand in the shadow of that power. No small task, but not impossible either.

        2. Sid Finster

          IIRC, the European observers were dismissive of the armies on both sides of the Civil War.

          The outcome of the Spanish-American War was also shocking in Europe.

    3. Sid Finster

      Britain was also worried that it would no longer be able to compete with German industrial might.

      France was worried about German industry and demographics. For her part, German planners were terrified that Russia’s size and demographic growth combined with industrialization would make Russia an unstoppable juggernaut.

  10. Adrienne

    Re: “Elon Musk’s Tesla overshot Mars’ orbit and is headed to the asteroid belt”

    Interesting… just two days ago, commenter Mark P. talked about the real purpose of Musk and Bezos’ space exploration: Asteroid mining. So is it really a “mistake” that Musk’s Tesla isn’t going to Mars after all? Or am I just feeling really tinfoily to-day?

    P.S. LOL love the link’s entry under “Shipping” category :-D

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      I’m certain I ain’t the first to note Mr Musk’s true identity as a teenage geek

      as a Nasa Kid, I’m excited.
      I mean, sure…I wish it wasn’t a bunch of billionaires finally taking further steps off planet…but if it’s the best we can do…
      next, they’ll be sending robots to mine, and fabricate habitat and further manufacturing capability. almost everything needed for a colony/ship building facility is already out there…including a lot of water for fuel and environmental.
      now, if we could get Eagleworks a new espresso machine, we’d be in business

  11. Wukchumni

    I read Guns Of August eons ago and set me on a course to read all of Barbara Tuchman’s works, and the French were all about Élan, and made juicy targets wearing red pantaloons for a spell early in the festivities. If you haven’t read it yet, start with The Proud Tower, that sets everything in motion for countries to lose their minds.

  12. Expat2uruguay

    I really appreciated today’s link to the article in The Hill about Michael Horowitz. It’s nice to get some background information on someone who’s getting ready to upset the apple cart. I was also intrigued to learn that within his first 6 months on the job he was involved with the Fast and Furious gun-running operation at the southern border.
    “He is best remembered in his current role for coming down hard on regional officials at Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the infamous “Fast and Furious” operation in which officials allowed the illegal sale of firearms in a botched effort to track Mexican drug cartels.”

    here’s the link again for those who are interested,

    1. cm

      Sorry if I’m missing sarcasm on your part, but “coming down hard” is far far short of criminal prosecution of corrupt government law enforcement officials…

  13. Carolinian

    There was an excellent PBS American Experience last night about The Gilded Age and the rise of populism. These are often available for streaming depending on local station policy. The show posits that the 1896 election was the turning point in the country’s journey from agrarian small business and farmer democracy to a politics controlled by big business plutocrats. The plutocrats won with the solid support of the industrial northeast and the money McKinley raised from all those tycoons. In short the show was in the wheelhouse of themes discussed around here. You also get to see the houses and costumes favored by these famous Gilded Age characters. They seem to be remarkably ugly–all that exploitation so they could make foolish spectacles of themselves.

  14. allan

    The president pro tempore of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body™:

    … Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, one of Porter’s previous employers, told the Daily Mail that the allegations against Porter came from “character assassins.”

    “It’s incredibly discouraging to see such a vile attack on such a decent man,” Hatch said. “Shame on any publication that would print this — and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man’s good name.” …

    1. Kokuanani

      I don’t normally watch Lawrence O’Donnell [MSNBC] – avoid it like the plague, actually – but last night my husband tuned in to see what was being said on Porter. O’Donnell totally took apart Hatch & Kelly re their support for Porter. It was done in his usual over-the-top bambastic way, but it was good. Probably available somewhere on-line.

    1. audrey jr

      Thanks for that, Left in Wisconsin. When I read about Newsweek firings I didn’t know that IBT owned them now.
      My first thought was of David Sirota, whose articles are generally credible, as far as I can tell.
      Not surprised to hear he’s out over there, given what’s going on at IBT.
      He probably let them “have it” verbally and they just couldn’t take it.
      Helluva cover-up going on over at that org. or so it would seem.
      Here’s hoping Sirota lands on his feet and soon. I miss his reporting.

  15. Cowsock

    On the “In an Absolute State” article:

    Key note in reading through this is the topic-self-selection done by taking text from topic-dedicated forums. This more than likely takes care of the messy (read: human) labor of parsing through layers of irony, wit, understatement, detachment, quotation etc. Control your inputs if the algo doesn’t work.

    Forum data used was only from original posts (multiple posts from same user concatenated together). Anyone out there know of studies that utilize replies in a coherent way? Seems like especially when dealing with mental health issues a lot of good stuff would come up later on in discussions.

    In general, interesting stuff for (discussed in paper) possible implications for therapy programs (in a general research sense, not by sifting through patients online activity). Bad news if picked up as a screening metric by techies.

  16. upstater

    Thanks for the last steam in China link. Great photos and video, too.
    Dignity of the working class.

  17. ewmayer

    o Re. The Bezzle: “Banks Cheer Return of Wild Markets” [Wall Street Journal] — Call me foily, but it’s almost as if they have an incentive to create mini-crashes now and again. But they wouldn’t deliberately create super-speculative volatility-based ‘retail’ investment vehicles designed to blow up under the right conditions and in doing so create a self-reinforcing volatility feedback loop now, would they? [*cough* XIV *cough*]

    o Re. the Calculated Risk piece: “The good news is the prime working age group should grow at 0.5% per year (depending on immigration policies), and this should boost economic activity.” — Not without accompanying gains in prime working age jobs which pay decent wages and provide decent security in terms of benefits, it won’t.

    o “Slavery and the American University” [New York Review of Books] … “one of the university’s first acts was the purchase of an enslaved man named Ben.” — Today they simply hire adjuncts to fill those roles.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > With all precincts reporting, almost 11,000 Republicans had participated in the caucus, barely more than half the 20,000 who showed up 2010 and well less than the 14,000 in 2014.

      So maybe the Democrat scheme to pick up those Republicans isn’t so demented, from a purely party perspective. Unless you care about policy, of course. Which would explain why these organizations to derail #MedicareForAll are popping up (Slavitt, today; Buffet, et al.) We wouldn’t want the fruits of victory to fall into the hands of the wrong sort of people.

      1. Darthbobber

        Otoh, they had an intraparty civil war going on in 2010. Enthusiasm is one thing that drives caucus turnout. Internal contests with both sides doing turnout work is another.

  18. jaxbeau

    Regarding Housing

    I have a mid-30’s niece who relocated to Seattle last fall for a job with the University of Washington. She’s management, so they offered her $68K to start.

    Last week the Seattle Times came out with the latest “Seattle is the hottest market ever” piece. The increases year over year are mind-boggling. A 20% gain in value in King County from a year ago, and something like 16% last year, making the median price for a single family home $757,000. A cool quarter of a million will buy a crap shack one-bedroom condo [with condo fees from $400 a month and up.]

    This is a hardworking, security minded single young woman who ‘may’ be able to get help with financing from the City of Seattle when she’s ready, but who is scared to death to take on that kind of long term debt. Meanwhile a one-bedroom apartment here will put you out close to $2K on average.

    How does this continue to be sustainable at any level?

    Marvin Gaye ” … makes me wanna holler, throw up both my hands.”

    1. Joe Renter

      It really is out of hand. I have been in Seattle for 35 years. I owned a house at one point with the ex. That was some time ago, now a renter. We have Amazon to thank for this as well as the rich from China. That might be over simplified perhaps. I lot of people I know are trying to leave if they are renters and as feed up with the changes this city is going through. I fantasize of moving to Chile.

  19. audrey jr

    Great stuff today, Lambert.
    I wouldn’t spend the money on the powder it would take to blow Bill f(family blog)g Frist to hell.
    He is a dominionist – crazy Christian sect – and an all around bad guy. Remember the Terry Schiavo telediagnosis?
    Couldn’t get the link provided in Water Cooler to open but I know all I need to know about that blankety blank.
    Yves turned me on to PNHP a decade or more ago. Haven’t looked back since.

  20. kareninca

    If you want to read something that is funny in a grim way, take a look at the comment section to the WSJ article by Rachel Thomas and Stacy Brown Philpot that urges men: “Don’t Avoid Women, Mentor Them.” https://www.wsj.com/articles/dont-avoid-women-mentor-them-1517776842#comments_sector. Since there is a paywall, I’ll paste a representative comment:

    “Ms. Thomas and Brown-Philpot obviously have no experience whatsoever with actual risk and actual HR investigatory practices. In more than 20 years’ experience (both in-house and private counsel), while I have seen valid claims of harassment, I have also seen a number of cases where women made unsupported (and unbelievable) claims of harassment against their male supervisors–and I saw those men punished, with one man’s career entirely derailed over truly trivial claims (allegedly he once made a remark about a secretary’s shoes being “unprofessional” in the office environment, which was then interpreted as a sign of sexual deviancy (I am not joking)). Under the current “all women must be believed” rubric, there is no way a man can be “safe” from false attacks other than adopt the Pence approach. ”

    I don’t think they got the comments they were hoping to get. They are pretty blistering comments.

  21. audrey jr

    Just looked at the Members of the Board of USofcare. OMG.
    The real name of this group of grifters is: USofWeDon’tCare.org.
    There, fixed it for ya!

  22. Stillfeelinthebern


    Eric Holder says he will get involved in the Wisconsin Supreme court election. Feb 20 is the primary, 3 candidates. One is Guv Scotty’s conservative buddy. The other two are progressive, with Tim Burns flatly stating that the Guv controls the court and it has to be taken back.


    Nice local article with a summary on the race. Just an additional note. R. Dallet contributed to the race of the current conservative chief justice. Kind of pollutes her cred with me and lots of progressives. Burns is endorsed by the state Our Revolution. Dallet REFUSED to do their questionnaire.

    A really smart move would be to knock Scotty’s bud out in the primary. Should be easy, very low turnout. Talked to my local clerk tonight, expected turnout is 6% With very little work, could have a massive upset in Wisconsin. Think Dems could be that smart?

  23. George Phillies

    Dems Win Missouri HD 97.

    There is no wave here. Almost no one showed up to vote. The 2016 election was between a Republican (ca 11,500 votes) and a *Libertarian* (not quite 4000 votes). (People saying the 2016 election was uncontested are, well, wrong.)

    In the special election the total vote of both candidates was less than the *Libertarian* vote in 2016.

    Undoubtedly after the 2018 general election, no matter what happens, everyone can point at this contest and say it provided omens.

    There were three other special elections the same day. The Republicans won all of them. Someone should examine whether this election showed traces or a wave, or if something was wrong with the Republican candidate, e.g., failed to campaign.

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