2:00PM Water Cooler 2/8/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“Oprah — again — says she’s not running for president” [CNN].


“Ratings Changes in 21 Districts” [Cook Political Report]. “Republican leaders believe they can save their majority with a four-pronged approach: emphasize strong economic fundamentals, a muscular national security posture, opposition research against untested first-time Democratic candidates and the possible return of Nancy Pelosi as speaker. But historically, it’s been difficult to frame midterms as anything other than referenda on the president and party in charge. This week, we’re shifting our ratings in 21 races towards Democrats. If anything, that still understates Democrats’ potential in individual races. If Democrats win the national House vote by six points (as today’s polls indicate), House control would be a coin flip. But according to our new ratings, if each party were to win an even number of Toss Up races, Democrats would only win 13 or 14 seats — ten shy of the 24 they need.”

UPDATE “February 7, 2018 – Economy Lifts Trump To Best Score In 7 Months, Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds; Immigration, Foreign Policy Keep Approval Down” [Quinnipiac]. “A total of 75 percent of American voters say their financial situation is ‘excellent’ or ‘good.'” And all the children are above average…..

UPDATE “For all the similarities, however, there is one huge difference between 2010 and 2018. It’s the difference between Obamacare and the Republican tax cut” [RealClearPolitics]. “After it passed, Obamacare never gained ground in the court of public opinion. There were no short-term benefits for voters but many unpleasant surprises…. In contrast, the tax cut has already seen a big jump in public approval because the results have pleasantly surprised voters. When the bill was being debated, nearly half expected their own taxes would go up. Now, 90 percent are finding more money in their paychecks because their taxes have gone down.” 2010 was also in the midst of a crash and the foreclosure crisis, about which Obama did squat, costing Democrats control of the Senate.

Minnesota: “GOP’s Jeff Johnson, DFL’s Tim Walz get wins in tests at Minnesota caucus meetings” [Star-Tribune]. “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. On the DFL side, turnout was on its way to 30,000, more than the 22,500 who turned out in 2010, the last time there was an open governor’s race.”

Health Care

“Can new bipartisan group break through divisions and build reform consensus?” [Modern HealthCare]. By Betteridge’s Law, lol no. The @USpfCare site’s front page says they’re going to “change the conversation.” Now this: “Starting this month, United States of Care plans to hold public listening events in Minnesota, North Carolina and Utah.” “Conversation.” “Listening tour.” The language seems strangely familiar…

Research challange:

Readers, I’ve looked for some evidence of Favreau’s advocacy, and I can’t find it anywhere. No Op-Eds, for example. Can you?

Timeless thread:

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Cash for Coalition Against Trump Going Into Consultants’ Pockets Instead” [The Daily Beast]. Well, that’s how the national party operates, so why wouldn’t everything run that way? It’s grifters all the way down…

UPDATE “Telling the stories of Dreamers, Nancy Pelosi gave the longest speech ever on the House floor” [Los Angeles Times]. A classic example of performative speech.

“‘It will be an intraparty war'” [Politico]. “Nancy Pelosi is betting everything on taking back the House in November, and most Democrats are confident they’ll pull it off. But what happens if they fail? A stealthy discussion is already underway within the Democratic Caucus, particularly among members whose only experience in Congress is in the minority.” I woudn’t be laying in the popcorn just yet, for any outcome. Nine months is a long time in politics.

“People’s veto effort meets initial requirements to restore ranked choice voting” [Ellsworth American (OregonCharles)]. “The people have spoken — again — on the issue of ranked choice voting (RCV). A people’s veto campaign gathered more than 80,000 signatures to restore the voting system that was originally approved in a statewide referendum in November 2016. Organizers submitted their documents to the Secretary of State’s office on Friday, meeting what they called ‘an almost impossible 88-day timeline.’ The signature total surpassed the 61,123 required by Friday’s deadline. Each signature will have to be certified by the Secretary’s office as a registered Maine voter. Last October, the Legislature voted to delay implementation and possibly repeal the RCV law. That triggered the launch of the people’s veto campaign in November.” This is very good news. Importantly: “Ranked choice voting is designed to work with paper ballots.”

“Chicago fines former Uber executive David Plouffe $90K for illegal lobbying” [USA Today]. Missed this at the time.

“Lobbyist Todd Howe’s hand in failed Syracuse stadium plan revealed in corruption trial” [Syracuse.com]. A savory instance of corruption in Upstate New York from alert reader Bob.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of February 2, 2018: “Initial jobless claims have posted four straight very favorable readings” [Econoday]. “There are no special factors in today’s report, one that follows last week’s strong payroll gain in January’s employment report and one that offers an early sign of strength for February’s report.” And but: “This marks 148 consecutive weeks of initial claims below 300,000, the longest streak since 1970. The general trend of the 4 week rolling average is a slowing rate of improvement year-over-year which historically suggests a slowing economy” [Econintersect]. Sounds like my “collapse in place” concept…

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February 4, 2018: “Last week’s 3.2 percent decline for the Dow didn’t make much dent in the consumer comfort index” [Econoday]. “The latest week, of course, excludes Monday’s 4.6 percent drop followed by the subsequent recovery.”

Commodities: “One of the world’s biggest miners is digging for new commodities. Rio Tinto PLC says it was hunting for acquisitions in new trade areas including lithium, as the company flexes newfound cash muscle that’s come with the global turnaround in commodities” [Wall Street Journal]. “Rio Tinto’s eyes are on lithium, a drivers in a metals markets rally that’s growing as auto makers ramp up use of lithium and cobalt—key ingredients in batteries that power electric vehicles. Rio Tinto owns one undeveloped lithium deposit, but it has the cash to dig deeper into the market.”

Supply Chain: “Procter & Gamble Co. is resetting its U.S. operations as consumer-goods giant moves to get goods to retailers faster. The company will cut jobs in Kansas and Iowa while shuttering factories and moving production of various products in its lineup to West Virginia” [Wall Street Journal]. “Speed-to-market has gotten more critical as e-commerce, changing consumer tastes and new entrants have put new pressure on established suppliers to get more nimble and efficient. The actions carry important weight in North American distribution channels: P&G ships more than $70 billion a year in products. The company is consolidating distribution into eight main facilities and six sites it calls mixing centers. The result will be a supply chain designed to get 80% of its U.S. production to stores within 24 hours.”

Mr. Market: “You didn’t have to be some dad with an E*Trade account or an ex-manager for Target Corp. shorting the VIX to get burned. The smart set took its lumps in the downdraft, too” [Bloomberg]. “Days before the S&P 500 Index’s biggest selloff since 2015, bullishness among hedge funds specializing in stocks surged to the highest in more than three years, according to client data compiled by JPMorgan Chase & Co. The bank looked at a value called net exposure, which subtracts short positions from longs.” Of course “some Dad” might have been dreaming of a better retirement instead of playing the ponies….

Tech: “Twitter posts first profit sending shares up almost 30%” [Financial Times]. It was Trump wot did it… That said, I’m happy, because I want Twitter to survive. I know Twitter can be a rough neighborhood, and curation is a chore, but I communicate with people all over the world in a way that Facebook’s algos simply do not enable. More: “The company disclosed net income of $91m in the fourth quarter, compared with $167m of losses in the same period the year before, as advertisers responded enthusiastically to new ad formats in online videos and tweets.” I dunno, though. I very rarely see any ads….

The Bezzle: “Bank of America keen on packaging riskier Canadian mortgages into bonds” [Financial Post]. “Bank of America Corp. is looking at packaging riskier Canadian mortgages into bonds, as rules designed to cool the housing market may spur demand for the securities. The bank has met with Canadian lenders to assess their interest in supplying mortgages for the bonds, which would be backed by home loans that don’t have government guarantees, according to a person familiar with the matter. It was also considering discussing the sale of the securities with U.S. investors, according to a government memo from June obtained through a records request.”

The Bezzle: “Berkeley is turning to cryptocurrency as a possible hedge against Trump cutting off its funding” [Business Insider]. “Berkeley would become the first city in the US to hold an initial coin offering (ICO) — a type of crowdfunding campaign that’s become popular in the past year. The city would raise funds by selling digital assets called ‘tokens’ that are backed by municipal bonds, a type of security issued by the local government. Buyers might spend these tokens at shops and restaurants or even pay rent at apartment rentals that participate in Berkeley’s cryptocurrency ecosystem…. In the same way the dollar was once backed by gold, a token from Berkeley will be backed by a security called a municipal bond.”

Mr. Market: “Dow falls 500 points as volatility dominates trade” [MarketWatch]. “The recent correction in financial markets is healthy and is unlikely to hurt financial conditions or the broader U.S. economy, Dallas Federal Reserve President Robert Kaplan said early Thursday at an event in Germany. Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said the Federal Reserve is ‘a long way away‘ from having to raise interest rates due to higher inflation on the back of higher labor costs. Speaking at a moderated discussion in Pierre, South Dakota, Kashkari said the January jobs report, which was blamed for the stock market selloff, was actually only ‘mixed’ in terms of wage growth.”

Mr. Market: “‘Buy the Dip’ Goes Mainstream” [Bloomberg]. Sheep dip? Avocado dip? More: “Following the worst day for U.S. equities since 2011, on Wednesday the dip-buying phrase was mentioned more than any day since at least 2007. It breaks previous daily records set last year — when the smallest tremors were immediately met with buyers picking up the slack.”

Five Horsemen: “Big techs wobble in their firmament as market averages retest the lows.” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 16 Extreme Fear (previous close: 18, Extreme Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 61 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Feb 6 at 7:00pm. Still lagged!!!


“The Sanders Institute Talks: Student Loan Debt” [The Sanders Institute]. “Dr. Jane O’Meara Sanders sits down with Sanders Institute Founding Fellow and economist Dr. Stephanie Kelton to talk about Dr. Kelton’s new report on the macroeconomic effects of student loan debt cancellation in the United States.” Very encouraging to see some Sanders buy-in on MMT at last.

Net Neutrality

“Internet firms back congressional vote to restore net neutrality rules” [Reuters]. “The Internet Association, which also represents Amazon.com Inc., Microsoft Corp and many others, said in a letter Thursday to Senate leaders it backed the Senate effort to reverse [the FCC vote through a CRA], but also called for a legislative fix. “The internet industry urges Congress to legislate a permanent solution,” the group said in the letter reviewed by Reuters.” Good news, but fine words butter no parsnips. Let’s see what muscle the IA puts behind this. Here’s the letter:


“California plans to impede increased offshore drilling by denying pipeline permits” [Splash 247]. “In an e-mail statement, the state’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said: ‘I am resolved that not a single drop from Trump’s new oil plan ever makes landfall in California.'”

Our Famously Free Press

“After it stopped posting to Facebook, a Danish broadcaster saw its traffic stability improve” [Digiday]. “Unsurprisingly, the broadcaster saw a 27 percent drop in visitors to its site, a 20 percent drop in sessions and a 10 percent decline in pageviews. But the readers who remained averaged 42 percent more time within articles and read 12 percent more pages per session than they did prior to the test, according to the broadcaster. Readers also read more articles once fly-by Facebook traffic wasn’t part of the equation. For example, the broadcaster used to post nine to 16 articles or videos a day on Facebook, and usually it was one specific article that would catch fire on Facebook and cause traffic to spike. When it stopped posting to Facebook, traffic was more evenly distributed with each person reading around three to four stories…. There won’t be any big projects involving Facebook in the coming year. ‘It is like relying on a car that doesn’t always start — you would never make a business where you have such an unreliable factor, and I can’t spend money on sponsored posts. So it is not the platform for me,’ [Nadia Nikolajeva, head of digital at TV Midtvest] said.”

Class Warfare

“The House That Spied on Me” [Gizmodo]. “Ultimately, I’m not going to warn you against making everything in your home smart because of the privacy risks, although there are quite a few. I’m going to warn you against a smart home because living in it is annoying as hell.” Excellent, detailed read of the stupidity of it all.

“How the ‘Places That Don’t Matter’ Fueled Populism” [Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg]. [T]he geographic focus can lead to important insights. ‘Anywhere’ people, too, live somewhere, namely in cosmopolitan boomtowns such as London or New York; one often hears from them that they associate with the city much more than with the surrounding country. ‘Left behind/ is an expression with geographical roots: From one of the great urban centers, people living in ‘flyover country’ look like those who wanted to catch a plane somewhere better but missed it. But many of them, as Rodriguez-Pose points out, may be too emotionally attached to the places where they live to uproot themselves. That’s not about being ‘left behind’ — it’s about putting those cultural and community roots above economic interests….. Governments interested in reducing political division may need to focus on devising policies to counter the trend — without turning the poorer regions into permanently aid-dependent ones.” I believe Yglesias, of all people, had the idea of dispersing Federal Departments across the country. Maybe even Bangor could get one!

“The discreet terror of the American bourgeoisie” [Edward Luce, Financial Times]. “America’s elites have stored more wealth than they can consume. This creates three problems for everyone else. First, elites invest their surpluses in replicating their advantages. Kids raised in poorer neighbourhoods with mediocre schools stand little chance. Their parents cannot match the social capital of their wealthier peers. The drawbridge is rising. The gap between the self image of meritocratic openness and reality is wide. Psychologists call this “self-discrepancy”. Economists call it barriers to entry.” They don’t call it “the pink paper” for nothing, do they?

“A Progressive Experiment That’s Doomed to Fail” [American Spectator]. “Formerly bankrupt Stockton teams up with foundation to see what happens when some residents are given a ‘universal basic income.'” Normally, I wouldn’t like to R. Emmett Tyrrell’s horrid rag. But since they covered it, and it’s got links….

UPDATE “Suicide Rate Highest in Decades But Worst in Rural America” [Governing]. Not a word from liberal Democrats. The dark side of the “coalition of the ascendant,” I suppose.

News of the Wired

UPDATE Adding, I just picked up Chernow’s Grant — exciting! — so I’m anticipating learning something abotu Reconstruction.

“How well do you know your clichés?” [Oxford Dictionaries]. As well as it is possible to know them. Why?

Death metal version of John Cage’s 4’33” [Open Culture].

“John Perry Barlow, Internet Pioneer, 1947-2018” [Electronic Frontier Foundation]. “Barlow was sometimes held up as a straw man for a kind of naive techno-utopianism that believed that the Internet could solve all of humanity’s problems without causing any more. As someone who spent the past 27 years working with him at EFF, I can say that nothing could be further from the truth. Barlow knew that new technology could create and empower evil as much as it could create and empower good. He made a conscious decision to focus on the latter: “I knew it’s also true that a good way to invent the future is to predict it. So I predicted Utopia, hoping to give Liberty a running start before the laws of Moore and Metcalfe delivered up what Ed Snowden now correctly calls ‘turn-key totalitarianism.”” Barlow — oddly, the EFF doesn’t mention this — was the (main) lyricist for the Grateful Dead:

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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 (Jamie Hagan):

Another painterly image.

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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. Jim Haygood

    Dreamers fold:

    House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on Thursday reiterated her opposition to a sweeping two-year budget deal expected to hit the floor later in the day, but said she won’t be pushing rank-and-file Democrats to join her in voting against it.

    The decision not to whip against the package is sure to infuriate some immigrant rights advocates, including those in her own caucus.


    I’m fillin’ a need, yeah
    I’m pluggin’ a hole
    My mama’s so glad
    I ain’t on the dole

    When the whip comes down
    Yeah, when the whip comes down

    — Rolling Stones

      1. Jim Haygood

        Oh n-o-o-o-o-o …

        Reuters Politics

        BREAKING: Senate vote on budget deal delayed by objection to spending levels by Republican Senator Rand Paul – Sen. Cornyn
        2:02 PM – Feb 8, 2018

        Trillion dollah deficits — what’s not to like?

      2. JohnnyGL

        DREAMers, to their credit, have been organized. They’ve shut down a press conference of hers in the recent past.

        Don’t be surprised if they look to impose a price on her for her refusal to fight. I look forward to future Pelosi events with DREAMers crashing the party.

        The fact that Pelosi’s even bothering to fake it shows that she feels obligated to fake it.

        “Look at me, I’m fighting for you, I spoke for x hours and voted against the package”

    1. Roquentin

      It’s true that 9 months is along time, but this “blue wave” argument, at least to me, just sounds like the “inevitability” of Hillary Clinton again. They’re going to have a rude awakening in November, more than likely.

      Then again, who knows? Maybe Trump’s antics really have taken the wind out of the sails of his base.

      1. Pat

        I’m rapidly coming to the view that 2018 will be a low turn out election except in a few places that don’t matter (hello Manhattan, I’m looking at you). I think people are feeling the Trump outrage fatigue on one side and Trump disillusion on the other more and more.
        Kayfabe with the withholding rates might help out the Republicans, but I think there were too many *family blog* knee cap moments in the overall tax bill that are going to hit a lot of their natural supporters who aren’t upper upper middle class or outright wealthy. The jobs aren’t actually coming back, the trade deficit is rising, and the swamp still seems pretty deep and pervasive. Meanwhile the Dems seem determined to double down on the policies and attitudes that led to their losses over the last seven years. And no, anyone who really thinks that DACA is important was not fooled for a moment at Nancy talking for hours but not using her power to actually fight for legislation meant to help.

        Unless alternate beltway disapproved candidates are on the ballot, it is far too easy to look at the choices and go: “What choice, why bother?!?!”

        But then I may be giving the American public more credit than they deserve. Although the response to Bush 2 going ‘PUTIN! PUTIN! RUSSIA!!’ on yahoo was encouraging.

        1. dcblogger

          Democrats swept the 2017 elections, they are winning almost all the special elections, their challengers are out fundraising Republican incumbents, their nominating caucuses and primaries are attracting many more voters than the Republicans, there are record Republican retirements, and we are asked to believe that there isn’t a blue wave coming? The only question that remains is who will win the Democratic primaries because that will determine if there will be real change or we get the same old same old.

          1. voteforno6

            November is still a long ways off. Besides, never underestimate the ability of Democrats to lose elections.

            1. Elizabeth Burton

              These days, it’s vital to differentiate between “Democrats” and “progressive people running as Democrats.” It’s the latter who are doing the best, as was witnessed in Virginia. That the media immediately pretended the six people running as Democrats were just like the Democrat who won the governorship should tell everyone what to expect between now and November.

              The sources for information on the progressive people running as Democrats are the usual suspects: Our Revolution, Blue America, Justice Democrats, and Brand New Congress. What’s especially interesting is that BNC back candidates from all parties as long as the candidate embraces the basics of the People’s Platform. For them, neither establishment party is worth spit.

          2. Big River Bandido

            On the “who wins the primaries” question: the Democrat establishment has been working overtime to make sure that no electable alternatives even get on the ballot:


            Nine months in politics is an eternity. But if I had to put money on it now, I’d bet the Democrats will come up empty-handed in September. Too little (that is to say, zero) self-reflection since 2016, and absolutely no change whatsoever in their modus operandi. The DNC’s financial report that came out a few days ago pretty much tells the story.

            The voters have decisively rejected the 2016 Democrats; the party doesn’t have a chance without a complete about-face.

            1. Elizabeth Burton

              They’re hurting for money because all the small donors they’ve been conning for the last thirty years are giving their donations to the alternative candidates. The fact is the party establishment has become so arrogant they truly believe they can continue to fleece their traditional base in favor of their plutocratic employers without repercussions.

        2. Kokuanani

          I think there were too many *family blog* knee cap moments in the overall tax bill that are going to hit a lot of their natural supporters who aren’t upper upper middle class or outright wealthy.

          I agree, but I fear these effects will take some time to show up [i.e., after November 2018]. In the meantime, Trump’s IRS has “gerrymandered” the withholding tables to assure that workers get more in their paychecks. Some “news” sources are already touting this. [The larger paychecks, not the gerrymandering.]

          There will be a sad moment come April 2019 when workers realize their exemptions are COMPLETELY gone [hello families with 5+ kids; really going to be tough on you!], that the magic “increased standard deduction” really doesn’t get them more than they’d get by itemizing, especially now that the “caps” are in effect, and that they probably won’t get that late-April tax refund they’ve always counted on.

          But by then the Nov. 2018 ballots will have been counted.

          1. todde

            I don’t know. I am thinking for most middle class taxpayers tax will go down slightly.

            I haven’t had one increase in taxes yet in the calculations I have ran.

            1. Fiery Hunt

              I should save about $2,000 according to my CPA.

              Bet the tax bill is gonna knee-cap the wealthy who don’t think they’re “wealthy”….
              Looking at you, 6 figure salary, million dollar house, corporate middle-managers in SF Bay Area!

              Welcome to the party!

        3. Utah

          I don’t know about your low turnout theory. Iowa saw huge turnout in their Dem caucuses, Minnesota huge turnout in their Dem caucuses with low GOP turnout. I think people who identify as Democrats are motivated. I tend to think that it matters when Dem enthusiasm is high and GOP low. Now, the GOP may use the court argument again and get people to the polls, but I don’t think many GOPers are super motivated right now.
          I am holding out hope in my own state that Mitt Romney’s coronation to US Senate keeps the GOP home because they don’t have to vote to keep Orrin Hatch in, who was sinking in the polls. They can be lazy and unmotivated if Romney is the nominee.

          1. dcblogger

            I think you are right. No matter how horrible the national Democrats are the Democrats on the ground in the countryside have taken matters into their own hands and are determined to win.

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > 2018 will be a low turn out election except in a few places that don’t matter

          That’s belied by turnout figures in Minnesota, presented today.

          My concern is more that turnout will be on the high-end, but mostly from liberal Democrats outraged that the country (bracket discussion of electoral college) rejected their leadership, and that the end result will be a squandered wave, exactly as in 2006. Why else are they AstroTurfing #MedicareForAll?

          High turnout isn’t good in and of itself when you don’t expand the electorate universally and especially to those who don’t vote, as Democrats resolutely refuse to do.

          1. Pat

            I think there is a big difference between caucuses and elections. I admit I envy those who can participate in caucuses.

            And in a way, I think we might each fear Democratic inertia. The selection of candidates will determine that turnout. And the system is still rigged to favor neoliberal approved worthless candidates, and overcoming that is a slow process even as the DNC struggles to fund its consultants.

            I don’t think there is any doubt they would squander a wave, if it happens. Hell, I don’t even believe you would get as much gridlock as you might want if they get one House, if the Democratic regulars candidate selection holds up. See the lack of real opposition shown in the last year, when it could largely be for show. And we agree gridlock is our friend, but how often in the last three decades have Democrats really been the driving force of it.

            There are bright spots out there, particularly in the local races. And I still have hopes for better down the road. But November will still find more Clintonian Doug Jones type Democrats* on the ballot than Democratic candidates who are interested in representing their constituents more than big donors.

            *see doubts about gridlock.

      2. PKMKII

        Honestly, I hope they don’t regain both houses, as I’m afraid they’ll waste all their political energy on impeachment, which will work out as well for them as did when Republicans tried it against Clinton 20 years ago.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m all for gridlock, so I’m happy if the Democrats win one chamber.

          I don’t want impeachment, mostly because I think it will tear the country apart in a very bad way, but partly because I just don’t see Democrats as having the moral standing to do it (and that’s aside from the warmongering aspect). If Pelosi had gone forward with impeachment in 2006 — and multiple felonies from Bush’s warrantless surveillance program were ample justification — we wouldn’t be where we are now. So they had their chance and lost it.

      3. Sid Finster

        Like Obama, Trump was elected to do two things: 1. bring back the jobs (as in “real jobs(tm)” that is, “jobs that pay health insurance”); and 2. end the stupid wars.

        If Trump can accomplish those things, his Twitter antics will not matter. In fact, Trump could perch on his border wall and take pot shots at orphans on both sides, and voters will shrug their shoulders sheepishly and say “well, it looks pretty bad but at least I have a job.”

  2. allan

    The United States of Care “conversation”:

    We’ve got the little single-payer people up here under the bus.

    1. Darius

      In his last tweet of the thread, Favreau gives away the game by using the BS tell “smart” to describe his BS group. He gets pwned.

      1. allan

        Foaming the runway for a glide path to imagining making health care skin in the game more accessible.

    2. jawbone

      Are there known links between the Amazon-Hathaway-JP Morgan Chase health and tech “plan” and United States of Care?

      Struck me at first read of the Bezos-Buffett-Dimon vaguely intro’d “plan” that it’s all part of shutting off MCM coverage of Sanders and Medicare for All. Baffle the voters with bullshit.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ve thought about that but havent seen anything.

        Then again, one of the tech people who saved Obama’s butt by making the ObamaCare front end work is on @USofCare’s board, and that at least conceptually connects to the “platform” theory of what the Bezos-Buffett-Dimon Triumvirate is up to.

        And then of course there’s Andy Slavitt’s private equity firm, which invests in health care. Ka-ching.

  3. dcblogger

    is there a website tracking Democratic incumbents with primary challenges? Because as interesting as the special elections are, the primaries will be far more indicative. If we start seeing incumbents going down to Medicare for All supporters, we will know that change really IS in the air.

    I would LUV to hear from NC readers who are living in such districts their impression of the challengers and their campaigns.

    1. Roger Smith

      A site like this would be very useful. The closest thing I know of is DownWithTyranny, who do regular reporting on the horrible DCCC.

    2. nick

      Unfortunately don’t have too much knowledge but here are some in my state. Wish I knew more!

      In MA-01 Tahirah Amatul-Wadud is challenging Richard Neal. She seems decent on the issues (better than him, but I don’t see M4A on her page), and I have heard repeatedly from people in that district that Neal is a DCer now and doesn’t do enough in the district.

      In MA-03 there is a wide open field bc the D is retiring. Like 12+ candidates. I’d say about half have at least one thing about them that sounds nice. There is at least one for whom I know single payer is central part of her campaign (Alexandra Chandler). A bit weird to figure because of the high number of candidates, also bc the one guy who is bringing in a ton of money (Koh) hasn’t been living there (ie moved to run).

      In MA-07 Ayanna Pressley is challenging Michael Capuano. They both seem decent on issues. 7th is the only majority minority district in the state so might be nice to see a change.

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      As noted above: Our Revolution, Brand New Congress/Justice Democrats (two organizations working together) and Blue America, which is run by Howie Klein of Down With Tyranny. Democratic Socialists of America also has an active program for supporting progressive candidates, mostly at the local and state levels.

  4. Expat2uruguay

    so many good articles today. Here, in the links post, and in the original post by Yves Smith. Unfortunately, it’s my last day at work, insert little dance, so I won’t have time to read these today. However, in a few days I will be spending 17 hours flying to Uruguay, so I’ll be able to catch up on all of this wonderful and not so wonderful information then. Good luck USA!

      1. Wukchumni

        I’d rather be hanging out in Punta del Este, than having to endure the generalissimos of our Junta del Este.

    1. polecat

      Here’s to wishing you well on your new journey !

      Are you bringing with you an income of some kind, or bootstraping it with skillz of one sort or another, or both ??

  5. JohnnyGL


    Cenk Uygur vs. Kyle Kulinski on the russia-gate debate. This is decent, but could be better.

    It ends up being a back-handed compliment to nakedcap, since I think nakedcap has had better info, analysis of this topic.

    The main topic they kind of skirt past that bothered me was ‘money-laundering’. They both agreed that trump was ‘probably guilty’ of it, but since neither have a solid grasp of the legal and financial aspects, they don’t know that BANKS are responsible, primarily, for the necessary compliance with treasury rules on this. It’s nearly impossible to get trump without getting a bank along with him.

    The other problem is that they seem to assume russian oligarchs are all aligned with Putin. That’s another mistake. All Russians aren’t on the same team. The big real estate deal was from an oligarch who was going through a messy divorce and arguably was trying to ESCAPE Putin’s reach. That’s why you buy a bolthole abroad. You need to have a little place to hide out if political winds turn against you. It would NOT be an indication that Trump owes anyone anything. He’s just a beneficiary of silly money criminal capital flight out of Russia which makes him more or less the same as any luxury real estate developer.

    Anyway, other than those points, the discussion is pretty solid.

    1. Sid Finster

      As pointed out elsewhere, an aggressive prosecutor can always find an excuse to bring charges against anyone, especially if “someone” is engaged in high level business or politics. That said, if Trump is guilty of “money laundering”, then so is *every* developer of high end New York/Florida residential real estate, as all of them sell properties to dubious Russians and people from other parts of the former Soviet Union.

      As you note, RESPA makes money laundering compliance the responsibility of the banks and title companies, not sellers. In other words, when you sell your house, you don’t need to ask the buyer where he gets his money from.

      That said, Team D will be happy to give some bank somewhere a slap on the wrist, if doing so will get them Trump. Even though this is the equivalent of giving the croupier in an illegal casino a life sentence, and at the same time giving the owner of the joint nothing more than a stern warning, the croupier is the one that the authorities are after.

      I can hear the pearls being clutched already. “ZOMG! MONEY LAUNDERTING! RUSSIA! TRUMP! ZOMG!”

  6. ?‍♂️

    ROBERT HUNTER!— was the (main) lyricist for the Grateful Dead
    Barlow mostly wrote bad bobby songs


        1. Laughingsong

          Half hunter (the Jerry half) & half Barlow (the Bob half). They would do a Jerry/Hunter string of songs, then the next night would be C&W night with Bob/Barlow stuff.

          Barlow was instrumental in creating the Well in the. Late 80’s, the first online bulletin board I ever joined.


          I was never able to replace Dead shows in my life after Jerry passed. Friends went to Phish, or String Cheese, or Other Ones, etc., but I never could.

          Listen to the river sing sweet songs to rock my soul.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Also, Going Down the Road Feeling Bad is a traditional blues song and those are the traditional lyrics, not written by anybody associated with the Dead.

      Robert Hunter is an amazing poet, really, but Not Fade Away/Going Down the Road off Skull & Roses is just about my favorite Dead track ever.

  7. allan

    University of Illinois graduate student workers set Feb. 26 strike date [Chicago Tribune]

    Graduate student workers at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign set a strike date for later this month, following months of negotiations that have failed to produce a new contract, union members announced Thursday morning. …

    A primary point of contention is the role of tuition waivers for graduate students. …

    Students contend that waiver protections allow most students to pursue graduate-level studies. In a statement released Thursday, they accused administrators of proposing a “Hunger Games” arrangement that would essentially force students to compete over that benefit. …

    Shouldn’t the university be congratulated for including a “Hunger Games” simulation in the graduate curriculum
    as preparation for the job market? /s

  8. Wukchumni

    If Dow Jonestown was a Vincent Black Shadow, I sure wouldn’t want to be ensconced in the saddle now en route to a rude awakening, with that high speed front wheel wobble jerking the market up, down & sideways, adding to a general lack of stability.

    1. Jim Haygood

      I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome
      Swooping down from heaven to carry me home
      And he gave her one last kiss and died
      And he gave her his Vincent to ride

      — Richard Thompson, 1952 Vincent Black Lightning

      Stocks got whacko’d bad today — Dow minus a thou, VIX thirty-something, etc

      But it ain’t over till the 4:15 witching hour, when inverse volatility funds once more must buy back massive quantities of VIX futures with TAS (Trade at Settlement) orders in a Soros-style reflexive process which may yet blow them to kingdom come.

      They ain’t much money in the old-time mandolin
      So I cash my check & I trade till I’m on my ass again

      — Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Cumberland Gap

      1. Wukchumni

        I was thinking of another Thompson-as in Hunter S., of which he related that said 2 wheeled conveyance was no good for turning, but could outrun a F-111 until takeoff.

        Meanwhile, fear and loathing of what the various 3-Letter-Montes will do in the next trading session looms large.

        1. Jim Haygood

          We can’t stop here, this is bat country!

          ― Hunter S. Thompson, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

          1. Wukchumni

            I don’t own any stocks, but if I did, this would be the clearest message to GTFO ASAP, if not sooner.

            @EricTrump: “The market’s going to continue to look incredibly, incredibly strong. I think actually, right now, is probably a great period to buy.”

            2:39 PM – Feb 8, 2018

            1. Jim Haygood

              Fiscal discipline:

              Sen Rand Paul is demanding a vote on an amendment to keep budget caps in place. If he doesn’t get it, he’s signaling he’ll delay a procedural vote until after the midnight deadline and into early Friday morning.

              “What you’re seeing is recklessness trying to be passed off as bipartisanship.[Leadership is] holding hands, and there’s only one bad guy standing in the way. One guy that’s going to keep up here until three in the morning,” Paul said during a more than hour-long floor speech.


              A gov shutdown that applies the brakes to the borrow-and-spend mainstream GOP’s gratuitous fiscal stim would be monster raving bullish.

              Bubble III might have stumbled, but she ain’t never fell.

  9. JohnMinMN

    Lambert – while Weir and Barlow were a formidable song writing team, Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia were the team behind most of the Deads’ classics (IMO), including the song you provided video for.

      1. Craig H.

        Going Down The Road Feelin’ Bad, also known as the Lonesome Road Blues, is an American traditional song, “a white blues of universal appeal and uncertain origin” (Ralph Rinzler, quoted on Erbsen 2003, p. 118). It was recorded by many artists through the years; the first known is Henry Whitter in 1924 as “Lonesome Road Blues”. Others who made recorded it include Cliff Carlisle (also as “Down In The Jail On My Knees”), Woody Guthrie (also as “Blowin’ Down This Road” or “I Ain’t Gonna Be Treated This Way”), Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Roy Hall, Elizabeth Cotten and the Grateful Dead, Canned Heat.

        link here

        1. Harold

          To me, it is fascinating, and certainly one of the most memorable American folk songs. On Mudcat cafe they disagree with Rinsler that it was a “white” blues, and say that it was known to blacks in the 19th c. I think someone references this comment on Youtube — or it may be the same commenter, Joseph Scott, quoted below. I looked up Mudcat earlier today and now can’t remember — or find it. It is wonderful to think that Handy recorded a similar song, “Joe Turner” that anyone can now hear on Youtube.

          Someone also says (on Mudcat) that they have a recording by Burl Ives, which means that Alan Lomax probably recorded it in the field, since he was the manager for Ives early in Ives’s career.

          The tune also reminds me a lot of “I wish I was a mole in the ground /Kippy let your hair hang down” (sung by Bascom Lamar Lunsford). I guess one could say that the song and the tune are “well traveled”. I have that book Long Steel Rail“. I should give it a look and see what else is included in the the ‘tune family’.

          From James Scott (on Youtube):

          The melody (and some of the lyrics) of “Going Down The Road Feeling Bad” probably date to the 1890s. W.C. Handy, born in the 1870s, pointed out that it was (basically) the same melody as “Joe Turner,” and Handy’s performance of “Joe Turner” on vocal and guitar is currently on youtube and bears that out. Mary Wheeler’s book Steamboatin’ Days contains her important research on the many black roustabout songs of about the 1890s that were similar to this one (years before singing about having “the blues” became popular among anyone — black Southern folk musicians — in about 1907). Norm Cohen’s book Long Steel Rail puts Wheeler’s work in context comparing it to early recorded versions of the song family,


          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Thanks for the references. I have heard many versions of this song over the years, and there is something so essential and spirited about its lament. But that’s the blues for you, that feel-good celebration of feeling bad.

            Aren’t we all going down the road? And feeling bad too.

            1. Harold

              Indeed, it is a quintessentially American feeling – going down the road, missing one’s parents, one’s sweetheart, one’s dog, and hoping, by starting over, to re-invent one’s life.

          2. Darthbobber

            I get the impression that there was a lot more crossfertilization between “white” and “black” blues (and old-time subgenres generally) than is often thought. One minor ex: A buddy of Mississippi John Hurt listened to Jimmy Rodgers doing “All Around the Water Tank”, and thought Hurt could do something with the tune. He modified the tune a bit, threw a different batch of lyrics at it, and “Let the Mermaids Flirt With Me” was born, which later travelled further, onto the old-time circuit, when banjo pickers discovered that there was a nice pattern they could do with it instead of it needing to be a guitar blues.

            1. Jim Haygood

              ‘There was a lot more crossfertilization between “white” and “black” blues (and old-time subgenres generally) than is often thought’

              Oh hell yeah. Prolly nowhere more than Muscle Shoals, Alabama. Dan Penn, who wrote many hits for soul groups in the 1960s, said it all ended when MLK was murdered in 1968.

              Dan wrote this white soul song “It Tears Me Up,” performed by the late Chris Gaffney of Tucson:


  10. Craig H.

    > Barlow — oddly, the EFF doesn’t mention this — was the (main) lyricist for the Grateful Dead:

    This is actually not true. He referred to himself as the “junior varsity” lyricist. His last great contribution was Estimated Prophet in 1977. Robert Hunter was the main GD lyricist.

    The Declaration of Independence of Cyberspace was a wonderful, if wonderfully naive, document. I used to contribute to Electronic Frontier Foundation but I am afraid now there isn’t any point to it. Pretty sure the irresistible force of corruption will snag them eventually if it hasn’t already.

    The EFF and Google: Too Close for Comfort?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, I don’t know what came over me. With the Dead, there’s always redundancy….

      I don’t mind the Utopianism… I certainly bought into it, as did many. I think he grew out of it (as the link, I think, shows).

  11. Left in Wisconsin

    “Lobbyist Todd Howe’s hand in failed Syracuse stadium plan revealed in corruption trial” [Syracuse.com]. A savory instance of corruption in Upstate New York from alert reader Bob. BAD LINK. Here is good one:

    Relatedly (because Syracuse is absolutely a place that doesn’t matter anymore), I thought this piece was excellent:
    “How the ‘Places That Don’t Matter’ Fueled Populism” [Leonid Bershidsky, Bloomberg].

    Finally, someone recognizing that not wanting to uproot from friends and family is a legitimate point of view. The closer:

    If regional inequality is the heart of the problem, then focusing on the prosperous areas that attract the most achievement-focused people from everywhere else and hoping their tide will lift all boats is fundamentally wrong, especially in countries where regional voting patterns are important — such as the U.S. …

    Fixing populism means smarter regional development policies. Rodriguez-Pose and … colleagues … proposed some ideas for them in a 2017 paper, but most of them are in the “easier said than done” category: Improving government quality and eradicating corruption, investing more in infrastructure, overhauling educational systems, cutting red tape to stimulate business growth… And populist governments aren’t really interested in fixing the regional disparities because big city envy is an easy resource to tap.

    The current phase of global economic development is about the growth and outsized influence of major cities, but politically and practically it makes no sense to have them make all the big decisions. Governments interested in reducing political division may need to focus on devising policies to counter the trend — without turning the poorer regions into permanently aid-dependent ones.

    From my reading, the main strategy of contemporary U.S. “progressives” is precisely this – liberating the big cities from the rightwing rubes that run state gov’ts while telling everyone else to GTH. That said, the recommendations made above – quality, uncorrupted government, good schools, solid infrastructure – were precisely the program of the “sewer socialists” and real Progressives that made Wisconsin (once) a desirable place to live (even though it is very cold for many months of the year). And yet Dems make no headway pointing out how Walker and cronies have weakened each one.

  12. Annotherone

    “Another painterly image” – ’tis too! Worthy of an Old Master – but it’s by that Old Mistress, our Mother Earth, and she’s the best painter of all. :)

  13. Kim Kaufman

    ““Ranked choice voting is designed to work with paper ballots.””

    Sure, you can vote on paper ballots. But you need a computer program and a math degree in order to count the votes.

    1. Oregoncharles

      No, just some patience. If I can do it….

      We do demonstrations all the time, and use it for internal voting in the Green Party.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I have no idea what you are talking about. Here in Oz I have worked on plenty of polling stations. Sure they probably have computers scanning them along the line but when the polling shuts at 6, we dumped the contents of the one or two voting boxes on a table.
      From there we did a rough sorting into political parties voted for or invalid (blank for example) votes. Then we went over them with a fine tooth comb to get a final tally when counting – with scrutineers from different parties watching like hawks. Votes issued had to tally with votes counted as near as possible. Results were phoned in and the votes bagged & tagged and dropped of to be vetted.
      Only took an hour or two to do the counting and you didn’t need a rocket scientist to do it. Proof of this lies in the fact that I did it many times on a local, State and Federal level. Ask the old-timers in your area how voting was done pre-computers and if hacking was a problem with them.

      1. Kim Kaufman

        I guess the question I would ask is: how many candidates were there? That could make a difference in ease. All I know is I have not been able to figure it out with all the fractions of votes and all that.

        1. Oregoncharles

          What fractions of votes? I think you have it confused with another system.

          Votes are indeed transferable, but not divisible; the total would not change – aside from invalid votes, of course, which would still be accounted for.

          1. Chris

            Correct. Australia has proportional representation, rather than ranked choice voting.

            Proportional representation is far more complicated mathematically, particularly for the Senate, where multiple members are elected from each state and territory.

            I think The Rev is describing the ‘first pass’ counting for the lower house on election night (always a Saturday). This usually gives us an accurate picture of the composition of the lower house (and who’s won government) by 11 pm or so.

            Those initial counts, and the Senate votes, are re-counted and confirmed by salaried employees of the Australian Electoral Commission over the next couple of weeks.

  14. Kim Kaufman

    Modern “Liberals” Are 1950s Authoritarians

    In the hit 1970s sitcom All in the Family, Rob Reiner played Michael Stivic, whose progressive countercultural 1960s sensibilities made him a perfect foil for his bigoted, conservative father-in-law Archie Bunker’s struggles to adapt to a rapidly changing world.

    Now a celebrated advocate of the Democratic party, Reiner’s great artistic achievement in 2017 was collaborating with neoconservatives and intelligence community insiders to produce a jarring propaganda video featuring Morgan Freeman warning that “we are at war” with Russia. So far his masterpiece of 2018 is a tweet declaring that if you “libel” Russophobic eugenicist James Clapper and CIA torture facilitator-turned-MSNBC pundit John Brennan you are libeling America.


    1. RMO

      University of Manitoba (retired now) psychology professor Bob Altermeyer published a free .pdf book on his research into authoritarian followers and leaders that is quite interesting. One thing he found was that when people are frightened their thinking becomes more authoritarian. I wonder if the Trump victory and the ginned-up Russia demonizing is frightening enough that this would account for the sudden blind faith in “law-and-order” institutions in the belief that they can fix things. I can easily see why Dem politicians and elites would cynically take on this very dangerous tactic but the way in which people who only a short time ago seemed sane now are apparently willing to forget all the oppressive, anti-democratic past actions of these agencies and give them effective control over their government makes me feel like I’ve gone down the rabbit hole and through a looking glass at the same time.

      I’ll leave the link to the book out because links seem to cause moderation problems for me, just search the Bob Altermeyer The Authoritarians if you want to read it. It’s about ten years old so ti doesn’t address any current events but it’s still quite interesting.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “A Progressive Experiment That’s Doomed to Fail”

    Didn’t they try this in some place in Canada decades ago? And before it was wound up, it was found that it was starting to put a lot of professional class people out of work? People such as social workers as demand for their services dropped off? Makes you wonder.

    1. EricT

      Actually the experiment was stopped because a conservative government came to power in Canada. It was around the time Maggie and Ronnie were taking over in the US and UK. The Canadian government discarded the records, but were salvaged by a local.

  16. Lee

    Our Famously Free Press

    The lead story on the Google Finance page:

    College student says she flushed her emotional support hamster down the toilet …

    Really? OTOH, if the Goog is being responsive to my preferences, does this say more about me than them? Come to think of it, maybe I do care more about hamsters than I do market gyrations. If I do ever fly again, I’m bringing my emotional support pit bull.

  17. allan

    Review of Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data by Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge [Science]

    Summary: In Reinventing Capitalism in the Age of Big Data, Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Thomas Ramge argue that big data will transform our economies on a fundamental level. Money will become obsolete, they argue, replaced by metadata. Instead of a single market price for each commodity, sophisticated matching algorithms will use a bundle of specifications and personal preferences to select just the right product for you. Artificial intelligence powered by machine-learning techniques will relentlessly negotiate the best possible transaction on your behalf. Capital will still be important, they concede, but increasingly just for its signaling content. “Venture informers” might even replace venture capitalists.

    “relentlessly negotiate the best possible transaction on your behalf”

    Stop it, you’re killing me …

      1. hunkerdown

        At long last they’ve come for the Turing Test.

        “If the algorithm fails, constrain its inputs.”

  18. Oregoncharles

    ““People’s veto effort” – it should be clarified that that is Maine news. Apparently the “people’s veto” applies once enough signatures are turned in, pending a vote.

    My own county in Oregon also passed RCV (Oregon uses only paper ballots, though they do use machines to read them, with automatic auditing provisions), but it’s pending funding from the state ($200,000 for the transition). I wondered about that provision – Benton County can afford that much, but it was a selling point.

    Amazing amount of resistance to the idea from the status quo.

  19. Oregoncharles

    ““California plans to impede increased offshore drilling by denying pipeline permits” [Splash 247]. “In an e-mail statement, the state’s Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said: ‘I am resolved that not a single drop from Trump’s new oil plan ever makes landfall in California.’””

    Yes, they already did that, with the effect of foisting a project meant to benefit California on the unfortunate citizens of Coos Bay, Oregon (beautiful, but too far from anywhere else). Now it’s to be an export terminal, instead, and we’re still fighting it.

    Thanks, California!

  20. allan

    Getting Your Product on Shelves at Whole Foods Just Got Harder [WSJ]

    Whole Foods is asking suppliers for more fees and deeper discounts to enhance profits

    Whole Foods, which cut prices last year to make it cheaper to shop there, now is making it more expensive for suppliers to get their products onto shelves. …

    The chain also is asking suppliers to offer bigger discounts on their products to earn the space. A high-visibility nationwide promotion at Whole Foods now often requires companies to cut product prices by at least 25%. Previously, large suppliers could more often do regional promotions that didn’t require prices to be cut so sharply. …

    According to a letter Whole Foods sent to some suppliers in December, vendors selling an annual $300,000 in products in stores will be required to pay a fee each time their products are reorganized on shelves or added to new stores, starting in April. Grocery suppliers will pay a fee of 3% of the cost of goods delivered, and beauty suppliers will pay 5%.

    Whole Foods has hired an outside company to stock shelves “to provide a much more effective result,” the letter said. “To successfully run this program, we need your financial support.” …

    “To successfully run this program, we need your financial support.”
    Michael Corleone would approve.

  21. djrichard

    “Berkeley is turning to cryptocurrency as a possible hedge against Trump cutting off its funding”

    Sounds simply like a conventional bond offering with some blockchain pizzazz added on top.

    If Berkeley truly wanted to decouple from the Fed Gov, they need to become a tax authority. And then tax their cryptocurrency out of existence. And then “re-” issue it as part of spending. That would blow a few brain cells in both the Fed Gov and the Fed Reserve. And Berkeley can say it’s bond-backed, asset-backed, whatever, to throw the anti-fiat propagandists off their trail.

    Edit: apparently they are tax authority, but it appears to be just for a sales tax. If they were doing like I described above, that means a lot of their currency would end up as dead money in the hands of whoever hoovers it up, i.e. the local businesses. Berkeley would have to up their game and either tax those sons-of-guns directly, or sell them bonds to hoard so they can recycle their currency back into the economy.

    1. djrichard

      ^sell them bonds to hoard … bonds which are denominated in their new fan-dangled cryptocurrency and which yield an interest in said currency.

  22. djrichard

    2010 was also in the midst of a crash and the foreclosure crisis, about which Obama did squat, costing Democrats control of the Senate.

    I think Dave Barry captured the sentiment almost perfectly in his year-end review for 2010, http://www.miamiherald.com/living/liv-columns-blogs/dave-barry/article1937561.html


    …which begins grimly, with the pesky unemployment rate remaining high. Every poll shows that the major concerns of the American people are federal spending, the exploding deficit, and — above all — jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs: This is what the public is worried about. In a word, the big issue is: jobs. So the Obama administration, displaying the keen awareness that has become its trademark, decides to focus like a laser on: health-care reform. The centerpiece of this effort is a historic bill that will either (a) guarantee everybody excellent free health care, or (b) permit federal bureaucrats to club old people to death. Nobody knows which, because nobody has read the bill, which in printed form has the same mass as a UPS truck.

    The first indication that the health-care bill is not wildly popular comes when Republican Scott Brown, who opposes the bill, is elected to the U.S. Senate by Massachusetts voters, who in normal times would elect a crustacean before they would vote Republican. The vote shocks the Obama administration, which — recognizing that it is perceived as having its priorities wrong — decides that the president will make a series of high-profile speeches on the urgent need for: health-care reform.

    Now I don’t think the antipathy towards Obamacare was as great as what Dave portrays here. And I don’t think it actually required the oxygen in the room to be sucked up on that topic at the expense of everything else. But it did appear that Obama did want it to play that way, that other things would have to wait until healthcare made its way through the pipeline. The problem was, people could see what he was and was not burning his political capital on, and it wasn’t “jobs, jobs, jobs” as Dave so eloquently put it. And by that time, it was too late, the tide had turned.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      No no no no no no no NO!!!!!

      Ferguson has the goods on this. Democrats lost the Massachusetts Senate seat in 2010 not because of ObamaCare*, but Obama butchering the response to the Crash:

      Voter Turnout First of all, a pattern of one sided abstention in voting is very obvious. Put simply, in 2004, 2006, and 2008, lower income Massachusetts towns produced substantially heavier majorities for Democrats than richer areas. But in 2010, patterns of voter turnout shifted dramatically: Voters did not turn out in poorer communities that normally give Democrats disproportionately heavy shares of the vote. The finding is consistent with the claim put forward by the chief pollster of the Democratic campaign, that the Obama administration’s unwillingness to face down the banks and slowness in dealing with the recession have demoralized the party’s electoral base.

      Secondly, our results suggest that, that among those who did turn out, two factors were particularly important in driving them to embrace the Republicans. One is perhaps predictable: that for each 1% unemployment rose in towns, the Democratic share of the vote fell by about a quarter of 1% from 2008. That may not sound like much, but the average rise in unemployment was about 4% across the state as a whole, with many towns hit much harder, including some that experienced double digit rises.

      The second factor is more striking. Declines in single family house prices also depressed the Democratic share of the vote. For each 1% prices dropped, the Democratic share of the vote fell off by about a fifth of a percent from 2008. Many towns saw price drops of 5% to 9%, with values in one town falling 14%.

      NOTE * This is a self-serving myth invented by liberal Democrats, who can tell themselves “We did the right thing, and got punished for it.”

  23. ewmayer

    o The Bezzle: “Bank of America keen on packaging riskier Canadian mortgages into bonds” [Financial Post] — Maybe they can have unindicted GFC crook, erm I mean ‘hero investor who made a mint shorting the late, great housing bubble’ John Paulson help them handpick the most-likely-to-fail debt tranches and market them to the rubes as “high-yield AAA CDOs – you’ll love ’em!” investments while secretly shorting the crap out of same, just like he did in the run-up to the GFC.

    o [California] Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom said: ‘I am resolved that not a single drop from Trump’s new oil plan ever makes landfall in California.’” — Given how much oil CA imports, good luck segregating the “good oil” from the “evil oil”, Gavin. Jeebus, what an inane bit of blather. But he’s a very attractive and well-spoken man with great hair! What was it we talking about again?

    o “Suicide Rate Highest in Decades But Worst in Rural America” [Governing]. Not a word from liberal Democrats — Who cares? It’s only a bunch of loseroid racist white Deplorables doing the gene pool a favor by removing themselves from it, right? Mass die-offs are only concerning when it’s happening to Dem-voting progressives, IdPol-darling-groups like gays and trans-whatevers, and those pro-democracy heroes, the Syrian moderate rebels.

    o “How well do you know your clichés?” [Oxford Dictionaries] — Like the back of my hand, obviously.

  24. Fred

    Since you brought it up–no, Barlow wasn’t the main lyricist for the Dead, that would be Robert Hunter. He and Jerry Garcia wrote song and lyrics for most of the Dead signature songs (Truckin’, Casey Jones, Shakedown Street, Touch of Grey, Dark Star and on and on, including the song you linked to, Goin’ Down the Road). Barlow wrote lyrics for a few songs with Bob Weir, most often played being I Need a Miracle and Mexicali Blues.

  25. mcarson

    Kelton worked on Sanders campaign. I think she’s also on his Senate staff, or she used to be. I think he doesn’t talk MMT because he only says about 4 sentences, no matter what the question.

    1. Isotope_C14

      I think the vast majority of people do not understand the workings of how money is created.

      I too believed wrongly that governmental budgets function more like a household budget, and Yves, Lambert, and Blyth have cured me of that notion.

      It is incredibly difficult to explain this to people, you need to read a heck of a lot of articles on this, so it is a very astute political move to simply stick to a few points, all popular, while deeper analysts around here see some of the levers behind the curtain.

      That should give a bit of hope with a Sanders 2020 reboot – if we make it that far.

      Now that they put Brennan on NBC/MSNBC the scent of war is now on the short-term horizon. I guess the MIC is going to get their proxy war with Russia in Iran.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sanders is extremely disciplined about messaging. I think when, as it were, the sale is ready to be made, Sanders will close it. We’re coming closer and closer, IMNSHO.

    1. Darthbobber

      Looks like unless someone goes off-script this one could be done and dusted by the time most federal workers get out of bed. Paul’s mike grandstand ends at 2 with vote expected by 3. (Sanders taking a risk-free no vote, btw) Then over to the house where we see if Pelosi’s unwhipped dems provide the numbers needed to make up the numbers lost to the freedom caucus hissy fit. Id bet on pretty much the exact number of dems needed voting aye, with the unneeded ones all saying “nay, because dreamers.” If that fails, then ryan changes a couple words of his meaningless daca vote promise, to bring it in line with Pelosi’s preferred formula and they vote again. (Actually step 2 would normally get negotiated while the vote count on step one was still open. Easier on the leaders that way.)

  26. HopeLB

    See the map;


    See the graph;

    See this;

    and possibly (probably?) true because the MSM ignores them;



    and on a non-up note;


    No, I can’t do that;


  27. Koldmilk

    America’s elites have stored more wealth than they can consume.

    Hoarders. They are hoarders. Instead of celebrating this behavior we should call it out as the pathological mental illness it is.

    1. Adam Eran

      In the ancient world, the population respected madmen as those with access to the hidden, sacral realm. Julius Caesar, for one example, had epilepsy. We’ve just updated our respect for madness, now looking to hoarders for those sacred insights… The fact that they worship money is really not that new. The superstition remains pretty similar

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