2:00PM Water Cooler 3/27/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The Trump administration is keeping quiet about a deal struck with South Korea to amend a six-year-old free trade deal between the two countries. South Korea is not — it released information this week on the broad outcomes of the talks, noting concessions it made on autos, including by agreeing to tack on 20 years to the U.S. tariff phase-out for pickup truck exports and double to 50,000 the amount of vehicles per model that can enter the country without having to meet with South Korean safety standards” [Politico]. “Former Rep. Donald Manzullo, who now heads the Korea Economic Institute, praised the new agreement based on details released so far. He also breathed a sigh of relief that the Trump administration did not insist on major revisions, as Trump’s rhetoric often suggested, and expressed hope Seoul would not be asked to revisit the agreement again.”

“The White House may have provided a template for new trade agreements in the pact just struck with South Korea. The deal came in part because the two allies have a bigger common challenge ahead in disarming North Korea…, but it also sets a potential framework for other negotiations the U.S. has underway or may be coming in the future” [Wall Street Journal]. “One trade expert in Seoul says the new deal provides an ‘exemplary case’ for Canada and Mexico to follow, for instance, in renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Seoul officials say they made only ‘modest’ concessions, and the deal is unlikely to shift trans-Pacific trade flows much if at all.” Then again, they would say that.

“Trump’s recent decision to temporarily exempt the European Union and six other trading partners from new steel and aluminum tariffs may be a strategic move to force problems stemming from global excess capacity back onto China, Bill Reinsch, senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Morning Trade” [Politico]. “‘Basically they’re trying to bank shot. It’s a Chinese problem. Everybody agrees on that. Their overcapacity has flooded the world and the solution to the problem is to basically get everybody to gang up on them and force them to eat their surplus,’ Reinsch said. If that’s the aim, it might be relatively easy to get the EU and others on board, he added.” I don’t know if this is right or not. But it’s nice to read some commentary that isn’t hysterical yammering.


2018 Midterms

“AP-NORC Poll: Trump benefiting from economic policies” [Associated Press]. “A growing American economy and passage of a Republican tax overhaul appear to be helping President Donald Trump lift his approval ratings from historic lows, according to a new poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Trump remains unpopular with the majority of Americans, 58 percent. But 42 percent say they now approve of the job he’s doing as president, up seven points from a month ago.” Pretty volatile! “One of the GOP’s challenges, however, will be keeping the economy and tax overhaul in the spotlight through the fall given the crush of other matters roiling the White House and competing for Americans’ attention. At the White House Monday, the daily press briefing was dominated by questions about the president’s alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, a relationship he denies.” Yes, finally the Democrats have nailed Trump. For consensual sex.

“An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last week illustrated the point, finding that 59 percent of registered Republican voters said they consider themselves more a supporter of Trump than the Republican Party” [Washington Post].

“Study Finds Single Payer Viable in 2018 Elections” [Corporate Crime Reporter] (original). “The report finds that of the 561 Democratic candidates running for the House of Representatives in 2018, 271 of them support Medicare for All or single payer. That’s 48 percent. Of the 192 Democrats currently in the House, 121 have signed on to HR 676, the single payer bill in the House and 71 have not. That’s 63 percent. ‘People don’t want to be that person who is out on single payer island with something that is not politically viable, not popular,’ Panagiotopoulos told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. ‘I want to show that single payer is part of the mainstream. Two-thirds of the Democrats in the House already support it. You are pretty much on the minority side if you are not supporting Medicare for All at this point.'” This is good for the long haul, but in 2018, the Democrat leadership is busily suppporting Blue Dog candidates who oppose it; speculating freely, I’d say that making sure that #MedicareForAll is not a policy outcome of any 2016 “wave” is the Democrat leadership’s top policy priority. Oh, and I love the venue for this story. The health insurance industry is indeed a “corporate crime.”

#MedicareForAll supporters:

“After Stormy Daniels, Republicans Face a Referendum on Trump’s Conduct” [New York Times]. “While Republicans have been bracing for months for a punishing election in November, they are increasingly alarmed that their losses may be even worse than feared because the midterm campaign appears destined to turn more on the behavior of the man in the White House than any other in decades…. But in an illustration of how firm Mr. Trump’s grip is on the party base, the president’s past comments about groping women have become an issue in some races only because pro-Trump candidates are attacking Republican rivals for abandoning him over those infamous “Access Hollywood” remarks. Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette, is assailing his rival for the Republican nomination for governor, Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, because Mr. Calley backed away from Mr. Trump after the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape came out in 2016. Indeed, the party’s embrace of Mr. Trump is most striking in several Midwestern states where he triumphed in 2016, and where a large number of important Senate and governor’s races are underway.” So we’re going to nationalize the 2018 mid-terms on Russia and Stormy Daniels….

WI: “On Monday, attorneys for [Governor Scott] Walker asked that the judge give Walker until April 6 to call the special elections. That would improve his chances of getting lawmakers to approve the legislation that would cancel these special elections and end the requirement that governors promptly call special elections when vacancies occur in the Legislature” [Journal-Sentinel]. “The GOP leaders’ plan, Assembly Bill 947, would eliminate the requirement that Walker call elections promptly and give the governor wide latitude to decide whether and when to do so. It would also bar holding special elections after the spring election in the year the legislative seat would ordinarily be filled. This year’s spring election is next week, on April 3.” Classy!

AZ-08: “GOP scrambles to avert another election dumpster fire” [Politico]. “Two weeks after the party’s stunning defeat in a conservative district in southwestern Pennsylvania, Republicans are funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars into Arizona’s 8th District, which President Donald Trump won by more than 20 percentage points in 2016…. Republicans insist the efforts are precautionary and that they fully expect to prevail in an April 24 special election. Two senior party officials who’ve reviewed polling in recent days said [Debbie] Lesko held a double-digit lead.”

CA: “Progressives File Lawsuits Against California Democratic Party Over Endorsement Process” [Progressive Army]. “Stephen Jaffe faces an uphill battle in challenging Pelosi in California’s 12th Congressional District, but he managed to obtain 37 delegate signatures to challenge the California Democratic Party’s endorsement of Pelosi. Jaffe alleges that after he paid the petition fee of $350 and submitted his signatures, the party told him the 20 percent threshold required 38 signatures, and that one of his signatures was disqualified because their address didn’t match what they had on record. Jaffe claimed he was only provided a list of 182 eligible delegates by the party, only to be told there were 190 eligible delegates once his petition was completed.”

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE A special place in hell


From Parkland:

“Parkland students interview Bernie Sanders: ‘Your generation has the power to change America'” [Guardian]. This is well worth a read, both the student’s questions, and Sander’s answers.

UPDATE This is a good thread on guns in the context of militarized families and communities:

It is true that I have literally no idea what our — carceral? — schools are like these days. I mean, I used to ride my bike to school, and when school was out, my time was unscheduled ’til dinner. No metal detectors, no “resource officers.” My baseline assumptions about “school” come from those memories, which diverge from reality, somewhat in my small college town, wildly for many parts of the country.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Can Teenagers Save America? They’ve Done It Before” [Jon Grinspan, New York Times]. Here is the thesis:

But in the final years of the 19th century, a sudden burst of young people demanded new issues — their issues. Tired of, as one Coloradan put it, “rotten old hulks who monopolize the offices and dwell upon the past,” a generation of young men and women denounced their leaders and with them, partisanship. They demanded political reform, labor reform and social reform, and declared that they would withhold their votes from any party that didn’t respond. “The ratio of party feeling and self-interest is rapidly changing,” declared one sharp-tongued New Yorker in 1898, adding that “the younger generation hates both parties equally.”

Politicians saw the change and chased after those young voters. Soon, The Washington Post was begging: “Don’t sneer at them as ‘boys,’ when they drop into your ward meetings, don’t make them do all the work of the campaign.”

In the new century, young people’s “self interest” helped kill extreme polarization by forcing both parties to pursue the same set of demands. Youthful independent voters emerged as a decisive third force, with just enough influence to swing close elections. Politicians scrambled after them, beginning the Progressive Era, passing laws protecting workers, cleaning up cities and championing the young.

This sounds like a presentist — and centrist — fairy tale to me, but I don’t know the history. Can readers comment?

UPDATE Quite the contrast:

Still, if youth were the only, or even the dominant factor, #BlackLivesMatter would have gotten the instant traction that the Parkland* Kids got. So… NOTE * Median income: $126,905.

“During the meeting in Richmond, city and county voter registrars spoke out about problems they’ve been seeing with online registration applications filed through the Department of Motor Vehicles” [Governing]. “The problems are marked in college communities, often targeted by voter-registration drives aimed at students. Many students prefer to vote where they go to school rather than in their parents’ city or county. But when students renew their drivers’ licenses, they tend to use their parents’ addresses. When that information is forwarded to registrars, it can appear as if they’ve moved. That was the problem that kept at least two dozen Christopher Newport University students from voting at a Newport News precinct in the 2016 election. It emerged again last year, when several others were only able to cast provisional ballots. Those ballots were generally not counted when city Electoral Board’s official review of vote totals found students were not registered in the city precinct where they thought they could vote.” A functional political party that actually cared about expanding its supposed youthful base would have addressed and fixed problems like this long ago. Why not a brochure in every incoming students information packet? And so forth.

“The 7,383-Seat Strategy” [The Nation]. “But as we head into the first national elections since Trump’s inauguration, Democrats are talking less about “the Trump effect” than they are about “the Virginia effect”—the unprecedented surge of women, minority, and millennial candidates running for seats in their state legislatures, many in deep-red districts long written off by the Democratic Party establishment. These candidates have been buoyed by a raft of outside and resistance groups, including Indivisible, Emily’s List, Run for Something, Forward Majority, Sister District, and BlackPAC, among many others. But party leaders have also taken note of this wave and are finally beginning to invest meaningfully and systematically in local candidates.” This is the worst sort of The Nation-style flaccidity. There is no possible way Indivisible, Emily’s List, or Run for Something can be classified as outside anything. If it’s “outside” you want–

Platform language:

Approved, amazingly enough. Can Colorado readers confim/contextualize?

UPDATE Concrete material benefits:

UPDATE “I Love Trolls” [Michael Graham]. This is an informal history of the 2016 Sanders campaign, and its aftermath, from a Sanders supporter.

“Worst Corruption Scandal in Each State” [MarketWatch]. Fascinating sign of the times that there’s a listicle for this. #5, California (2010): “City officials bilked the blue-collar town of Bell, California, out of $5.5 million in a scandal that broke in 2010. Robert Rizzo, the former city manager, received a 12-year prison sentence and was ordered to make restitution of $8.8 million. He pleaded no contest to 69 charges of fraud and misappropriation of public funds. Rizzo had drawn a salary of $800,000 in a city of about 40,000 where one-fourth of the residents live below the federal poverty level. Rizzo also was guilty of income tax evasion.” 2010? That along ago? Really? That’s the best we can do?

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, March 2018: “Manufacturing activity growth in the Fifth District slowed more than analysts expected in March” [Econoday]. “The deceleration was broad-based, with all but one (service expenditures, up 8 points to 18) of the business sector activity components registering declines within current conditions. Most of the largest declines were in the components driving the previous month’s accelerated growth… In contrast with their assessment of current conditions, manufacturing executives became more optimistic in February in almost every aspect of business, most of all the components leading the current conditions declines.” And: “Based on these regional surveys, it seems likely the ISM manufacturing index will be solid again in March, but probably lower than in February (to be released Monday, April 2nd)” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories significantly decelerated, The internals are much worse than last month” [Econintersect].

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, January 2016: “Home prices are bubbling a bit. First it was 3-1/2 year highs in last week’s FHFA data and today Case-Shiller beats the top estimate ” [Econoday]. “If there are bubbles forming it’s in the west. Seattle is out front…. The weakest price growth is in Chicago and Washington DC.” And but: “Many pundits believe home prices are back in a bubble. Maybe, but the falling inventory of homes for sale keeps home prices relatively high. I continue to see this a situation of supply and demand. It is the affordability of the homes which is becoming an issue for the lower segments of consumers” [Econintersect],

Consumer Confidence, March 2018: “The consumer confidence index, at 127.7, eased back slightly in March but remains very strong especially the assessment of the labor market where only 14.9 percent say jobs are hard to get” [Econoday]. “This year’s tax cut has been offsetting trouble in the stock market and continues to support confidence readings. Yet confidence in stocks is eroding with only 35.4 percent of the sample seeing year-ahead gains for the market vs 40.1 percent in February and a peak of 51.0 percent in January when the sell-off first hit…. Buying plans are soft especially for homes… Today’s report is less upbeat than prior months but not the assessment of the labor market which is a central positive that does overshadow the spots of softness.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, March 2018: “Global institutional investors continued to regain confidence and further increased their holdings of equities in March” [Econoday]. “The increase in global appetite for equities was broad-based and included all three of the main regions.”

Retail: “Newell Brands Inc., the maker of Sharpie markers and Paper Mate pens, has been fighting in the aisles with Office Depot Inc., contending the office-supply store wasn’t doing enough to showcase its products and even pulling back shipments to the retailer over the past year. ….[T]he impact hit Newell’s fourth-quarter sales, triggered a string of director resignations and drew interest from activist investors” [Wall Street Journal]. “Historically, retailers and manufacturers have worked together to bolster sales. But conflicts are growing as retailers lower prices to win back shoppers from Amazon and other online sellers.”

Shipping: “Box lines face extra $34bn for low-sulphur fuel if shipowners don’t install scrubbers” [The Loadstar]. “Within two years it will be illegal to power a ship with fuel having more than 0.5% sulphur content, unless the vessel is fitted with an exhaust clean gas system, known as a scrubber. However, according to a new white paper, released by Swedish financial services group SEB, fewer than 2,000 ships out of a world merchant fleet of some 60,000 – 3.3% – are expected to have scrubber systems installed by January 1 2020.”

The Bezzle: “Why Driverless Cars Could Be Travelling Under the Radar in Texas” [Governing]. “But finding the answer to another basic question — whether any such [robot car public street] testing currently is going on in Texas — remains elusive. That is due largely to a bill passed by the Legislature last year and signed into law in June by Gov. Greg Abbott. Senate Bill 2205 by Sen. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, does not require companies to tell the state of Texas or local governments when they are putting vehicles on streets or highways with no human in control…. ‘We haven’t been contacted,’ said Jason JonMichael, the city’s assistant director of smart mobility. ‘Some of those cars elsewhere are driving interstate miles. Could there be one on I-10 now, or in the near future? Yes.'” Contacted for the story, Uber, Toyota, and Ford said they had no programs in Texas. GM and Waymo declined to comment. So…

The Bezzle: “New Leadership Has Not Changed Uber” [New York Times]. “The problem with Uber was never that the chief executive had created a thuggish “Game of Thrones”-type culture, as Susan Fowler, an engineer, described it in a blog post. The problem was, and still is, Uber’s business model: Its modus operandi is to subsidize fares and flood streets with its cars to achieve a transportation monopoly. In city after city, this has led to huge increases in traffic congestion, increased carbon emissions and the undermining of public transportation…. .Ridership on public transportation is down in nearly every major American city, including New York City (which recorded its first ridership dip since 2009). This is hurting the revenue that public transportation needs to sustain itself.” So it’s an ill wind that blows no glibertarian. stupid money-heavy venture capitalist good, eh?

Honey for the Bears: Re: Durable Goods (from March 23): “Big downward revision. This is somewhat like how we’ve gotten ‘revised into recession’ in past cycles” [Mosler Economics]. The charts in Mosler’s story look like they come from Econintersect, so I went there to check. Oddly, “durable goods” at “site:www.econintersect.com” yields no results in Google or Bing on two browsers. Can readers confirm?

Honey for the Bears:

Mr. Market: “The 6 Most Shorted NYSE Stocks” [MarketWatch]. Pfizer, Rite Aid, General Electric, Chesapeake Energy, AT&T, and Weatherford. And “The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks” [MarketWatch]. Sirius XM, AMD, Intel, Apple, Micron, Mattel.

Mr. Market: “Wall Street’s beloved FANG stock quartet may be breaking up” [Reuters]. “”The FANG complex needs to go away,’ said Joel Kulina, senior vice president of institutional cash equities at Wedbush. “You can’t compare Facebook and Google to Amazon anymore because they’re going in different directions and disrupting different parts of the world.'” But if you look at Facebook Fracas today, you will see that Facebook and Google are intimately bound together at the business process level.

Five Horsemen: “Facebook carries on sinking as its peers bounce back” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Mar 26 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Mania-panic index rises to 25 (worry) on yesterday’s bounce” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index Mar 26 2018

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 184.

Facebook Fracas

“Full transcript: Recode’s Kurt Wagner answers Facebook-Cambridge Analytica questions on Too Embarrassed to Ask” (podcast) [Recode]. A podcast transcript, so discursive. A fun read with technical issues discussed in accessible language. Interesting for 1): “You like Mark. I like Mark,” and 2) discussion if the “cohesion” of the Facebook management team. Also, there’s more to come on the story… .

“How Facebook was able to siphon off phone call and text logs” [AP]. “The news that Facebook’s Android app has been collecting call and text histories is yet another black eye for the social media giant. But just why was Facebook able to siphon off records of who its users were contacting — and when — in the first place? The short answer: Because Google let it. The longer answer: Well, it’s complicated…. There’s a reason Facebook’s actions were restricted to Android phones. Apple locks down app permissions tightly, which offers more privacy protection to iPhone users. “Apple’s fundamental approach is to collect the minimum amount of information to keep the service running, and keep customers in control of the information,” said Rich Mogull, CEO of the security firm Securosis. But Android has long been more indulgent. Until recently, in fact, Google let app developers gain access to a phone’s call and text logs. All they needed was an app that required access to user contacts. Once users agreed, Android would then also grant access to those communication histories.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“The Librarian at the Nexus of the Harlem Renaissance” [Atlas Obscura]. “You might not know about Regina Anderson, but you’ve probably heard of many of her friends. On a typical day in 1923 or 1924, Anderson might leave her desk at the 135th Street Branch of the New York Public Library and drop a letter to W.E.B. Du Bois in the mailbox. She may go home to her apartment on St. Nicholas Avenue to check up on her couchsurfer, Zora Neale Hurston. Or she might hit the town with Countee Cullen, and then finish out the night cooking bacon and eggs for Langston Hughes…. Throughout, Anderson kept focused on her job. She would later write that she saw ‘the use of books as our strongest means of promoting intercultural understanding.'”

Class Warfare

“Private Equity? It’s More Like Pirate Equity” [Bloomberg (!)]. “There will surely be more bankruptcies by all types of PE-backed companies, and the debate will intensify around what constitutes an appropriate level of debt. That’s another way of saying people will become very angry as mounting bankruptcies lead to job losses. Then, it will only be a matter of time before popular opinion turns against the world of PE and its extremely well-compensated executives…. The U.S. consumer may have deleveraged after the financial crisis, but the corporate sector releveraged, and is probably in an equally precarious financial position as consumers were 10 years ago.”

“Is It Time to Stop Saying ‘the Safety Net’?” [Governing]. Yes. I’ve been saying this for years. Why should life be like a tightrope act? More: “Dropping the term safety net is part of the human services groups’ broader strategy to get the public and policymakers to think of human services as investments in the community that boost the economy, reduce crime and improve public health. For example, child participation in the food stamps program has been linked to better health in adulthood, such as reduced incidence of obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. And some evidence suggests that Head Start reduces the likelihood that children will be arrested or charged with a crime as adults.” Can’t things be good in themselves without being “investments”?

“Labour groups file OECD complaint against BHP and Vale over dam-burst disaster” [Mining.com]. “Geneva-based IndustriALL, a global union federation that says it represents more than 50 million workers in 140 countries, joined forces with Building and Wood Workers’ International to file a complaint against BHP Billiton (NYSE:BHP) and Vale (NYSE:VALE) under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises…. The indictment is related to the consequences of the collapse of the Fundão Dam in the Brazilian state Minas Gerais on November 5, 2015. The facility used to store millions of litres of waste from the Germano iron-ore complex, which is operated by Samarco Mineração S.A., a joint venture between BHP Billiton and Vale S.A. When it breached, the disaster killed 19 people, left hundreds homeless and unemployed and caused sludge to wash downstream into the neighbouring state of Espírito Santo through remote mountain valleys reaching the Atlantic ocean 600 kilometres away.”

UPDATE Happy Anniversary:

I wonder what the conditions on the ground had to be for that general strike to take place. A sclerotic regime [check]….

News of The Wired

“Poisoned by East Germany” [Die Zeit (Nippersmom)]. “Often unbeknownst to them, East German athletes were frequently given anabolic steroids, sex and growth hormones and extreme doses of pain medication. For many of those affected, severe health consequences have been the result, some of which are only now making themselves felt.” Katja Hofmann: “I enjoy life, but I know that I won’t grow to be very old.”

“Newly-discovered human organ may help explain how cancer spreads” [New Scientist] (incredibly, not paywalled). “A newly discovered network of fluid-filled channels in the human body may be a previously-unknown organ, and it seems to help transport cancer cells around the body… Theise reckons that every tissue in the body may be surrounded by a network of these channels, which essentially form an organ. The team estimate that the organ contains around a fifth of the total fluid volume of the human body. “We think they act as shock absorbers,” says [Neil Theise, a pathologist at New York University School of Medicine]. This organ was likely never seen before because standard approaches for processing and visualising human tissue causes the channels to drain, and the collagen fibres that give the network its structure to collapse in on themselves. This would have made the channels appear like a hard wall of dense protective tissue, instead of a fluid-filled cushion.” Science is great, but a whole new human organ? We really don’t know anything, do we?

“The Mind-Expanding Ideas of Andy Clark” [The New Yorker]. “Andy Clark, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at the University of Edinburgh, believes that there is no important difference between Inga and Otto, memory and notebook. He believes that the mind extends into the world and is regularly entangled with a whole range of devices. But this isn’t really a factual claim; clearly, you can make a case either way. No, it’s more a way of thinking about what sort of creature a human is. Clark rejects the idea that a person is complete in himself, shut in against the outside, in no need of help…. Without the stimulus of the world, an infant could not learn to hear or see, and a brain develops and rewires itself in response to its environment throughout its life. Any human who uses language to think with has already incorporated an external device into his most intimate self, and the connections only proliferate from there.” We then learn Clark was a Google Glass fan. I dunno….

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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 (PM):

Mazatlan flower.

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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. LD

    Democrats want just enough people to vote to elect Hillary, but not so many as to elect Bernie. And they’d rather err on the side of electing Trump.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Hillary lost, Pelosi and Feinstein have the injustice of watching the estate tax trimmed and pass-through entities getting windfalls.

      Will something please think of Feinstein’s husband and Nancy Pelosi’s children!

      1. none

        Pelosi and Feinstein have the injustice of watching the estate tax trimmed

        What injustice, from their point of view? They’re both bazillionaires so of course they want to eliminate the estate tax.

    2. LifelongLib

      I went to college across the state from where I grew up, but kept my hometown voter registration because my mom was involved in politics there and I wanted to be able to vote for her (although she lost anyway). Plus I didn’t really have any understanding of the politics in my college town. Of course this was the 70s and I always felt like I was just visiting when I was at college, never intended to live in the area afterward, and didn’t.

    3. John k

      And the problem of encouraging young people to vote is that they trend progressive, and the neocon dems are barely keeping control of the dem party as it is. All they have is Corp donor money to throw at other neolib wannabes, aka blue dog dems, or reps that think their best bet is to run as a dem.
      Granted the wave of dems changing to indie is flushing progressives… must keep indies from voting in primaries…
      So they’re stuck with the 10% plus ageing hillaries…
      And they think demographics favor themselves?

    4. Richard

      You have nailed the nature of their relationship with the public. Their main motivation, the Dem leadership, in all they do, is not to win elections, but to always retain control the party, which is a source of corrupt privilege for them. It allows them to create, strengthen, and support monopolies, to create networks of corrupt privilege from which they always benefit, majority or minority.
      Trump could have been attacked more on issues, like tax fairness, DACA and immigration, the bloated Pentagon budget, re-deregulating Wall Street, but all that risks making the Dems too popular. A popular party would cease to be a vehicle for corrupt privilege, at least to anything approaching the same degree. So why Russia, why this madness? A way to attack an unpopular president wihout becoming popular yourself!
      That’s why the dems hate supermajorities, and do everything they can to derail them when one shows up. Obama of course with no jailed bankers, bankers still writing laws, FIRE portion of the economy leaching even MORE wealth, 2008 never happened, 2 wars to 7 or whatever the hell it is now. But also think Johnson after ’64 sending ground troops into Vietnam, Roosevelt with his unpopular and ridiculous court packing scheme after the 36′ landslide.
      This is kind of an open secret in Democratic politics: the enemy isn’t the republicans, its your own base. That’s who you lie to, deceive, and fear.

      1. Procopius

        Roosevelt with his unpopular and ridiculous court packing scheme after the 36′ landslide.

        OK, I’m shaky on the details, I’ve forgotten so much, and I can’t remember if there were several retirements and new appointments, or if the justices realized there are lamp posts outside the Supreme Court, but Roosevelt’s “ridiculous” scheme did seem to change the court’s interpretation of the Constitution’s intent on contracts. Clearly we’re going to have to do something like that in a few years.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s nice to have a careful reader. I work in an outliner and I keep a do-list in it. Accidentally, I published the list. These are topics I’ve been mulling that aren’t post-worthy, but are worth a paragraph or two to stimulate discussion. But in the rush to channel the news flow, I keep not getting to them. I suppose I should buckle down and write them up, since I’ve accidentally teased them. Maybe this Friday, since the Friday news stories tend to break after I’ve published.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m still using Opal on my unupgradeable-without-thirteen-hours-of-invested-time MacBook Air.

          When the time comes to change, I can shift to Workflowy on linux (thanks to the reader who suggested it). It doesn’t have the excellence of the classic Mac interface that conforms to the Human Interface Guidelines, and I really don’t like having to log in, but it works the way I want to work and it doesn’t make me scream in agony and frustration.

          Now if only Huawei would figure out that the MateBook should have a Magsafe connector and be half the price, not comparably priced, they could take Apple’s laptop business away from them, which Apple doesn’t really want anyhow, as their behavior shows. Then I’d buy one or, given my needs for redundancy, two.

  2. PDB

    From the article on single payer: “People don’t want to be that person who is out on single payer island with something that is not politically viable, not popular”

    Then [family blogging] do your job and make it popular! This is why so many people have lost respect for the Dems. They want to wait until enough popular support exists to come out in favor of a proposal. Meanwhile, the Repubs force the conversation and pound away on a message until people start believing it (e.g. tax cuts lead to trickle down effects, deregulating the economy will help the average worker, etc.)

    1. marku52

      Furthermore, the idea has to be popular with their donors. Otherwise they work to strangle it in the cradle.

      Remember single payer advocates were arrested the last time they tried to testify before a Democratic congress.

    2. willf

      But Single payer already has popular support, and that support is growing.

      The only ones who don’t like the idea of going to single payer are those who make money off of the current system. “Single payer island” is a crowded place unless you are looking for handouts from big insurance.

    3. Fraibert

      From what I can tell, the elite Democrats think they have have the best of both worlds, from their perspective. They believe they can retain sufficient electoral support, while also continuing the grift as is.

      I analogize the Democrats’ behavior to that of a rational monopolist. A rational monopolist attempts to maximize profits not by crudely jacking up the price, but by finding that point on the supply-demand curve where overall profit is maximized. This is a balancing act where price is elevated over a theoretically competitive market but is still manageable for a reasonable number of customers.

      Here, the Democrats are trying to maximize grift (instead of profit). Donor money is a function of satisfying donor demands, while also retaining some minimum requisite political power. (No one would give to a party that had no power.) So, the Democrats attempt to (maintain the appearance of) being responsive to their base (preserving political power), while also pursuing donor interests (to get donor money), just like the monopolist plays the supply-demand curve to maximize overall profit.

      Insofar as this right, this tells you is that the Democrats are trying to optimize money over political support. It also implies the party has concluded that political support from a broad base of people will not result in donations. Strange for a political party, no?

      1. Fraibert

        The above also fits in with the Democrats’ current political messaging that amounts to “THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE.” Pure monopolist type behavior.

        Also, I realize the analogy only works insofar as the base and donor interests are opposed (as they clearly are). If base and donors were on the same side, then optimizing donations would be the same thing as optimizing political support.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > If base and donors were on the same side, then optimizing donations would be the same thing as optimizing political support.

          Which would explain why Sanders’ alternative funding model was such a success, and also why it has been totally erased from history by the political class. (The Democrats dealt with the Dean insurgency in the same way, though less ruthlessly.)

          1. Big River Bandido

            Dean himself proved much easier to co-opt. His erstwhile supporters…not so much.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            But the Sanders alternative funding model has not been erased from history. It has been erased from MSM and Depublicratic discussion and awareness. But under the MSM-Depublicrat Cone Of Silence, the Berners are all aware of it. The people who sent repeat small donations are aware of it. (Colonel Lang at Sic Semper Tyrannis wrote in a comment during that period that he was sending several repeat small donations to the Sanders campaign. He is still aware of it).

            The several million people who remain aware of its presence in their history may very well launch such an effort again. Perhaps over and over again. Perhaps Mainstream Democrats like Pelosi and Hoyer can be used as a negative organizing principle. Perhaps people who view Pelosi and Hoyer with distaste can be told that those two might feel some vicarious pain if their creatures are bypassed or even outdone in the Funding Races by many millions of repeat-small-donors who target their donations towards particular desired individuals and away from DemParty money organs.

    4. Procopius

      I believed at the time, and still believe, that a big reason for the wave of 2010 was that not one Democrat incumbent that I know about went out to his/her constituents and tried to sell the ACA. Instead they either went, “Who, me? No, no, it was some other guy,” or managed to ignore it completely. Second most important reason was Rahm and Obama eviscerating the Party organization to root out any Dean sympathizers and appoint incompetents like Tim Kaine and, later, Steve Israel, but that’s covered in the posts above.

  3. Steve H.

    > Newly-discovered human organ may help explain how cancer spreads

    is a parallel source from Nature, with more detail.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From the end of the abstract:

      In sum, we describe the anatomy and histology of a previously unrecognized, though widespread, macroscopic, fluid-filled space within and between tissues, a novel expansion and specification of the concept of the human interstitium.

      If this were Tweeted, I think they would have included a GIF of a fireworks display. It’s quite something, isn’t it?


      In sum, while typical descriptions of the interstitium suggest spaces between cells, we describe macroscopically visible spaces within tissues – dynamically compressible and distensible sinuses through which interstitial fluid flows around the body. Our findings necessitate reconsideration of many of the normal functional activities of different organs and of disordered fluid dynamics in the setting of disease, including fibrosis and metastasis. A submucosa subjected to directional, peristaltic flow is not the previously envisaged wall of dense connective tissue, but a potential conduit for movement of injurious agents, pro-fibrogenic signaling molecules, and tumor cells. This raises the possibility that direct sampling of the interstitial fluid could be a diagnostic tool.


      Finally, our study demonstrates the power of in vivo microscopy to generate fresh insights into the anatomy and physiology of normal and diseased tissues.

      A victory observation, too.

      1. Lee

        Great! Another system that we can monitor for malfunction. We are but battlegrounds for our contending systems. If the disease don’t getcha the immune system will. My tongue loves what clogs my arteries and gives me diabetes. My brain wants things that can stop my heart, or can become convinced that I can soar from the tops of tall buildings, and so on. Sorry. I just got my tax bill. I’m in a bad mood.

    2. DJG

      Steve and Lambert: This “new” organ sounds a lot like the meridians and channels in Chinese medicine, which some chiropractors also deal with and treat. So I’m wondering if it is a complete new discovery–my massage therapist sometimes “drains” me. Skeptical that it is a means of getting cancer to move around the body, though.

      1. rcv4usa2sos

        This is an intriguing possibility. Can anyone with experience in eastern/western medicine comment on this?

        All I can provide are anecdotes (I, too, would prefer data, or barring that, the opinion of an expert): My mom has suffered migraines most of her adult life, and after pharmaceuticals mostly failed her, she’s begun acupuncture for the first time, and it’s truly helping. And since I was a kid, we have used a pressure point deep in the webbing between your thumb and forefinger to remove headaches. I wonder if this interconnectedness of the body could be partially explained through this new organ. Are these meridians and channels you speak of associated with acupuncture at all too?

        In any case, truly remarkable!

      2. Steve H

        Noticed that too. Qi is written about as moving through the connective tissue, and can feel like bubbles.

        However, another friend who’s a medical professional, exercise physiologist and martial artist told me the meridians are probably built up on a primary scaffolding for the nervous system.

        “We really don’t know anything, do we?”

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > This “new” organ sounds a lot like the meridians and channels in Chinese medicine, which some chiropractors also deal with and treat

        Wow. That I’m going to have to think about. (Adding, I read, cynically I am sad to say, the cancer point as a veiled plea for funding and productization; such are the times we live in. To me, the point was the beauty of the discovery; and if, as you point out, this new organ would unify Eastern and Western medicine, it is beautiful indeed. “Silent upon a peak in Darien.”)

  4. Rob P

    But 42 percent say they now approve of the job he’s doing as president, up seven points from a month ago.” Pretty volatile! “One of the GOP’s challenges, however, will be keeping the economy and tax overhaul in the spotlight through the fall given the crush of other matters roiling the White House and competing for Americans’ attention. At the White House Monday, the daily press briefing was dominated by questions about the president’s alleged affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels, a relationship he denies.

    Maybe the 24/7 coverage of Trump sleeping with porn stars is helping him. One of Trump’s greatest strengths as a politician is to drive his opponents so crazy with rage that they attack him in ineffective and counterproductive ways. You know what’s way more unpopular than sleeping with porn stars? Republican economic policies. Would we be seeing the same poll #’s if the news was covering that instead?

    1. Lee

      Bingo! Putting aside the evanescent mass interest in the salacious,I’m guessing the general public is much more focused on their health care, incomes, kids’ education, neighborhood safety, etc., than the sexploits of the politicos. As Dorothy Sayers wrote

      As I grow older and older,
      And totter toward the tomb,
      I find that I care less and less,
      Who goes to bed with whom.

      And then there’s this, also from DS.

      I always have a quotation for everything – it saves original thinking.

      ; )

    2. Louis Fyne

      Trump owes Mr. Rodham Clinton a beer. After Bill got his happy ending in the Oval Office, Stormy Daniels, assuming it’s true, looks like nothing.

      Trump Derangement Syndrome has turned CNN into 17th century Puritans. I need to clutch my pearls

      1. Carolinian

        Time was CBS 60 Minutes and Mike Wallace were the terror of corporate boardrooms. Now the same show goes with stuff you’d expect to find in National Enquirer. Meanwhile the actual National Enquirer is a staunch Trump ally.

        We are living in upside down world for sure.

        1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

          Careless coupling is the pre-eminent prerogative of power*. What the powerful really hate is when the hoy-polloi is getting it and any other pleasures included their remit; hence the moral outrage against the pop-stars (as they used to be called).

          Where are all the groupies for air-guitarists? Answer: At the behest of power-politicians, military muscle, would-be business moguls and the leaders of religious cults. Sad.

          As to the porn-star presidency, let us put it down to transparency – a good thing surely?


          *Check out the Ottomans’ top dogs or Katherine the Great of Russia.

          1. Carolinian

            Or Henry VIII, Charles II, Edward VII. Just sayin’.

            I’m currently reading a book about Queen Victoria that says she wasn’t really the prude history makes her out to be. That would have been Albert. Meanwhile her other German relatives were all philanderers and her brother in law had Syphilis.

            I’m not sure how all this relates to the Stormy revelations since I’ve been ignoring them completely.

            1. J Sterling

              Edward VII officially invited his mistresses to his coronation in 1901, all sat together in a row in Westminster Abbey.

      2. rd

        It was amusing last night watching Fox News at the gym last night as they were commenting on how CNN is going full Stormy Daniels Derangement Syndrome.

        Just like 20 years ago when FoxNews went full Monica Lewinsky all day, all the time for months: https://www.vox.com/first-person/2017/5/23/15677330/fox-news-roger-ailes-monica-lewinsky-bill-clinton

        That was the true Puritanical times when interns and porn stars would not be considered acceptable family values by evangelicals.

      3. Edward E

        Somehow with Bubba, I didn’t feel like we were all getting screwed and it reminded him of Chelsea.

          1. Edward E

            We’ve been getting screwed over ever since they took World Reserve Currency Status. That is why China doesn’t want RCS if/when they eventually get the opportunity to do a version of Pax Romana. The largest economic power historically gets to set rules. The Chinese are pushing UN Agenda 2030 pretty hard with multilateral monetary system. The reserve basket all other currencies peg to. Which might be awesome while uncorruptible, which is a pretty tall order.

            My takeaway is that, unless you’re a Republican, it’s a tall order to make a problem go away by yelling, ‘fake news’!

    3. lyman alpha blob

      No kidding.

      Despite the hysteria of the corporate media, I don’t think anyone is surprised to find that someone like Trump is screwing porn stars.

      The surprising thing would be if he weren’t.

        1. blennylips

          If you think about it, the “www” prefix is useless.

          So, the construct I gave will match any (or no) prefix, eg video.blah.com as well as http://www.blah.com. So, you can narrow as needed. In this case, all the search results lack the www, so I’d say the bug is that they do not rewrite the url at the server level to automagically strip out any www.

          T’is odd…load a tab at econintersect.com and another at http://www.econintersect.com in Pale Moon they are differently laid out — identical under Chrome.

  5. dcblogger

    Anyone here from Indiana or North Carolina? Those are the next primaries coming up. I would so like to hear about the elections from NC readers in those states. Also, anyone from Ohio? I am following the Democratic gubernatorial primary and would enjoy hearing from anyone in Ohio as to how they see it.

    1. doug

      The Koch bros are heavy into primarying a NC republican , Walter Jones, who is long serving and independent thinker,anti war, and pro military families. He has been primaried on the right for the last few times.
      This year, the TV ads are already running. They show he doesn’t vote with Trump very much. So the gambit is the other guy is a TRUMP man. We will see if it works. Walter also doesn’t support Israel enough for the Kochs.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Why would the Kochs care about supporting Israel? What does that have to do with their Private Overclass Propertarian agenda?

        ( I could see them pretending to care . . . as a weapon against Jones . . . if they think it could work).

        1. blennylips

          Why would the Kochs care about supporting Israel?

          The evangelical “Red Heifer” brigade maybe?

    2. Carla

      Re: Ohio — a new poll shows Dennis Kucinich and Richard Cordray tied in the Democrat primary:

      The same poll also indicates neither could beat Republican front-runner Mike DeWine. However, it’s very early days …

      Cordray is just as compelling as Hillary, but admittedly, not as toxic.

      We saw Dennis at the March for Our Lives in Cleveland last Saturday, eclipsed as always by his stunning young redheaded wife Elizabeth. He was explaining to young people the white button on his lapel with a large red “F” on it — the NRA grade he is proud to display.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        As Ohio AG, according to WikiPedia, Cordray sued both BoA and AIG. The latter was settled with no admission of guilt, and but the former is all written in the present tense and there’s no indication that the case was settled.

        Is Cordray a Schneiderman?

  6. Fraibert

    Regarding voting by college students at the location of their school, I’m not clear some students are being well advised. It could get some of them in serious trouble, too.

    Let me explain.

    Generally speaking, my understanding is that you can only register to vote in the single state where you have established a legal domicile. Domicile (frankly an obsolete concept) means the state where you have established physical presence and to which you intend to return, regardless of how long your absence is.

    Sometimes domicile and what people think of as “residency” overlap. If I live in New York and work in New York, etc., then I’m a “New York resident” and a “New York domiciliary.” Now suppose I retire and buy a winter house in Florida, while retaining my old home in New York. I might be a New York domiciliary or I might be a Florida domiciliary depending on my intent. (As readers can imagine, this starts getting really important for state tax purposes, because a state’s domiciliary is invariably a full-year tax resident.)

    There are also a few additional important rules. First, a person must be physically present in a state to claim that state as domicile. A New Yorker retiring permanently to Florida cannot claim Florida as her domicile until she’s flown down there. It does not matter if the New Yorker has already sent all her possessions to a new Florida home and sold her New York home.

    Second, until you establish a new domicile, you are stuck with your old one. Suppose instead of retiring to Florida after a long career, our New Yorker decided to travel the world for 5 years. For those 5 years, she would retain her New York domicile.

    So how do you prove that your domicile? Objective facts, such as the state of driver’s license, voting registration, professional licenses, job location, where mail is received, etc., are used to demonstrate your intent to remain in a particular location.

    This is where the alarm bell rings, and perhaps larger reform is needed.

    A student with a driver’s license and official address on school records at the parent’s house does not look like a domiciliary residing near the school. It isn’t so bad at least if the parent’s house is still in the same state as the school. Still, there is definitely contradictory information out there, and it’s not a great situation to have.

    But for the out-of-state student, this is a bigger risk. Remember: A person cannot have two domiciles. If the evidence generally indicates a parent’s out-of-state home as a student’s domicile and the student attempts to register to vote in the state of the school’s location, that’s something that could be framed as voter registration fraud. Moreover, if the out-of-state student is implying that they’re a domiciliary by attempting to register to vote, then the student might be in trouble for state taxes (remember: state domicilliaries are usually full-year tax residents), failing to change driver’s licenses (so, maybe they aren’t driving on any valid license at all), etc.

    I’ve long thought a better solution for students needed to exist. The whole domicile concept is a bit outdated (Europe has switched to “habitual residence”), but it’s what we’re stuck with for now.

    1. Fraibert

      Someone might think I’m making a bigger deal out of this than needs be. Perhaps. But, I look at the current world, and I see the use for “gotchas” by the elite.

      Our intrepid out-of-state college student graduates and starts making trouble for the elite. BAM! Turns out the student’s a tax fraud, etc.

      I hate my own cynicism.

      1. ambrit

        Good Sir or Madam, embrace your inner cynic. He or she will not steer you too far off of the beaten track in these decadent times.

      2. Eudora Welty

        I also wonder how all this intersects with the fact that college-age people can still be on their parents’ health-care policies, but those policies only have provider-lists in their state, so again you are screwed.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Voting by absent ballot is available to address problems like this, no?

      Wherever one cares enough to say that is one’s domicile, one would want to vote on issues relevant to that location, I would think.

      It may be different for a soldier deployed in, say, Syria, though. He or she might want to establish domicile there, and vote on the local issues there, but it’s not possible unless it is part of our country. So, he or she may want the domicile be one that will allow him or her to vote on, for example, whether to pay more taxes for his/her children’s school district, and reject the Syrian domicile (for example).

      1. Fraibert

        Right–absentee ballot is for people who are physically outside their domicile but want to put in votes. That would include out-of-state college students who haven’t changed their domicile.

        Soldiers have special rules under federal law that lets them keep their legal domicile at the start of service throughout their entire service, if desired.

        My concern is really just with college students, and the potential traps here when registering at the location of the school. I’ve seen the issue come up enough recently, that I gather it’s something that a decent number of students try to do.

        (There’s also a corollary. For out-of-state students that attend a state school and attempt to establish residence in the new state to get the lower tuition, they have to make all the changes reflective of domicile, and can only vote in the state where their school is located.)

    3. sleepy

      In Iowa, at least in 2008 when I was a pollwatcher, out of state students were able to claim their dorms or apartments as their domicile for voting purposes and register and vote in local elections.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’m not clear some students are being well advised.

      Again, something a functional party would be expected to do (for some definition of functional).

  7. dcblogger

    The Trump administration is like a Tom Sharpe novel, in which everything implodes. Trump destroys everything he touches. It is not impossible that he will bring down Facebook, Cambridge Analytics, the Mercers and who knows what else. Of course he could also destroy the US as we implode into Article V. Revolutions usually do not have happy endings.

    1. Skip Intro

      Where by ‘Trump’ you mean the inchoate and undirected rage of the Clinton machine and their their shambling mob of military and media bots. It is richly ironic that they are now turning on Facebook… unless you consider Zuck a threat to the Hillary2020 jugger-not.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps those of us who want Facebook turned upon and brought down might consider going to various blogs where some Hillary supporters are known to be, and keep suggesting that if the #TheResistance really wants to Resist something, it can work to tear down Facebook and destroy it from within the borders of the US.

  8. DJG

    On the revenge of the Access Hollywood tapes: I still would like to know which genius in the Democratic Party thought that it would be a great idea to release the tape. The tape sure has been effective in ending Bill Clinton’s career. The law of unintended boomerangs, I guess.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Why would it have to be a Democratic genius? Why couldn’t it be a Bushite genius hoping to clear the way for Jebbie-poo?

  9. djrichard

    Still, if youth were the only, or even the dominant factor, #BlackLivesMatter would have gotten the instant traction that the Parkland* Kids got. So… NOTE * Median income: $126,905.

    Sandy Hook, CT median (HH) income: $105K.

    In my mind there’s a bigger distinction: before Trump and after Trump. Trump was our 9/11, requiring the media (and therefore us) to look at “evil doers” with a new lens.

    1. JBird

      This. This explains my anger over the gun debate. There are so, so many problems, so many ways that lives are snuffed out in our country. Whatever one’s position on guns are, however important it might be, if the victims are not at least (upper) middle class, it does not matter.

      The murder rate has been dropping for at least twenty years, but it is still very high at about 16-17 thousand with police killing about 1,100 yearly with about 250 of those completely unarmed, and many of the rest with things like rocks and golf clubs. Most of the deaths occur in poor, often black, communities so it really does not matter. One, two, or three at a time, often with illegally owned handguns just usually not at schools, or of telegenic middle class (white) children.

      Yes, the 20-40 mass school shootings among the ~120,000 primary and secondary schools are important, but it’s like a 0.00034 chance yearly of a shooting at a school, and the tens of millions of people suffering with lead poisoning from the environment including water, paint, and sometimes even the food they grow, they do not count, not really. So rather than focusing on lead poisoning, or gang/community violence (often caused by fear, rage, or a need for revenge/justice.) it’s lets scream at the evil gunz, and change the Constitution, or something.


      The Neo-liberal American Security State thanks you.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Tell me about it. I live just a few steps away from a park where a black man was gunned down in June 2018. Still an unsolved crime.

        I saw the guy’s body, laying on the ground behind police tape, for several hours. Sort of like Ferguson, after Michael Brown’s death, even though that one didn’t happen until 2014.

        Biggie was his nickname, and he wasn’t from this neighborhood. But his family still deserves to know why his life was taken.

      2. jrs

        I don’t think the Security State cares vastly. It’s possible if it lead to enough incarceration for having guns the prison industrial complex will be thankful. But yes it’s almost certainly true that if we had a functioning society the number of guns might not matter. We don’t have a functioning society nor any prospects of one on the horizon really.

        1. JBird

          TPTB care in that the people of both sides can be turned into useful idiots when the rhetoric, especially of the red shirt type, is used to vaporize peoples’ intelligence, compassion, and common sense.

          Even when two sides of an issue cannot ever agree on an issue, like guns or abortion, very often they can agree on side issues dealing with the deadlocked main issue. It might even reduce the problem greatly.

          For example, gun violence in poor communities can be very cheaply, easily, and quickly, and greatly, be reduced starting with soft drinks, pizza, and gift cards in regular meetings between gang members, police, social workers, preachers, etc. Carrots and sticks like community services, or whatever the gang leaders say their communities need, dialogue between gangs, and the promise of hammering the first gang to break the truce. Most people do not like murdering others, never mind being murdered. Once grievances and desputes could peacefully be done at a neutral place, bye bye with regular shootings. There have even been cases where gangs have called the police on new gangs being violent.

          This is not being “tough on crime” and it does cost some money, so whenever so law and order idiots get elected or something must be cut, these programs are the first to go. Really, pizza for thugs! Then surprise, murders go way up.

          So people might be unable to agree on guns, but at partial solutions can be found. Take an issue, almost any issue and as long as there is a good faith effort including trying to see the other people’s views, something(s) can be done to ameliorate; this does reduce the political establishment ability to manipulate the people. That’s bad for (political) business.

      3. marym

        We probably don’t have a good sense of the people who are fighting lead poisoning, community violence, etc. because there’s no media coverage, or negative coverage (as for Black Lives Matter). The MSD students have reached out to their activist counterparts in other demographics, and looking through twitter, there were community activists at the marches in other locations.


        Indeed, speeches from Stoneman Douglas students during the march were generally followed immediately by speeches from minorities hailing from communities like the South Side of Chicago, South Central Los Angeles and the rougher neighborhoods of the nation’s capital—places where shootings are a daily reality. Edna Chavez, a student from Los Angeles whose brother was gunned down outside her home in 2007, was among those who spoke about the need to address poverty and disinvestment in minority communities as part of efforts to combat gun violence and warned additionally against turning to policing as a solution.

        “It is normal to see flowers honoring the lives of black and brown youth that have lost their lives to a bullet. How can we cope with it when our school district has its own police department? Instead of making black and brown students feel safe, they continue to profile and criminalize us […] We need to tackle the root causes of the issues we face and come to an understanding on how to resolve them.

        I am here to honor the Florida students that lost their lives and to stand with the Parkland students. I am here today to honor Ricardo. I am here today to honor Stephon Clark. I am here today to uplift my South LA community.”

    1. none

      social support system?

      Support “those people”(tm)? Good luck with that. I think you want something like “Strengthen America” if they didn’t use that for something already.

  10. ewmayer

    Sorry to be a grumpus, but 2 of the 3 items in News of The Wired score really high on the lame-o-meter:

    “Poisoned by East Germany” [Die Zeit] — neither news (it’s been well-known for decades), nor “wired”.

    “The Mind-Expanding Ideas of Andy Clark” [The New Yorker] — In what way are someone’s ‘ideas’ based on the head-slappingly-obvious fact that our interactions with the world around us are fundamental to our development and lives “mind expanding”? Oh, look, but he used the quantum-physics buzz-term “entangled” – how very novel! So the contemporary crapified New Yorker can’t seem to find room for, say, “mind expanding” investigative pieces by its former staffer Sy Hersh, but this kind of puff drivel makes the the cut? Gotcha.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > our interactions with the world around us are fundamental to our development

      That’s not what Clark is saying. He’s saying that what we call “mind” is not bounded by the skull or the body. That’s not new in some religious or spiritual worldviews, certainly, but it’s new in the scientific milieu that Clark inhabits (and new, I would think, to most “folk” worldviews in the United States). I find it refreshing, speaking as it does to embodiment.

      As for Die Zeit, the introduction to the article explains why Die Zeit thinks their series is “news.” Adding, that for me, the use of people’s bodies for experimentation without informed consent has contemporary resonance.

      1. ewmayer

        Re. Clark: Point taken. But you and I having this interaction is prima facie evidence of one sort of ‘minds interacting at a distance’, and if you really want to get quantum mechanical, the whole reason the notion of ‘an external observer’ is important in getting an indeterminate quantum state to collapse into a well-defined one is that the act of observation is fundamentally one in which the observer becomes entangled with the observed, in a way which can be made physically precise. Which is not to say that couching philosophical/metaphysical arguments about nonlocality of mind in this kind of scientific verbiage ain’t a great way to get teh babez at the philosophy-department mixers, but without more-precise physics to back it up, Clark’s work sounds like hifalutin flummery, at least to this curmudgeon. :)

  11. J Bookly

    “Can’t things be good in themselves without being “investments?” Yes, but only if you believe there is such a thing as a public good. I think the “investment” language is an attempt to communicate with people who don’t believe in the public good because their philosophy, ideology, religion, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t include that concept. It’s hard to discuss astronomy with a member of the Flat Earth Society.

  12. Jeff W

    “Andy Clark, a philosopher and cognitive scientist at the University of Edinburgh, believes that there is no important difference between Inga and Otto, memory and notebook. He believes that the mind extends into the world and is regularly entangled with a whole range of devices..…Any human who uses language to think with has already incorporated an external device into his most intimate self, and the connections only proliferate from there.”

    Ugh, I read the ideas of Andy Clark and other “externalists” like Riccardo Manzotti and, while they get lots of stuff right, they manage to muddy up quite a bit as well. Sure, certain aspects of the environment support certain types of behavior—it’s awfully hard to revise a manuscript or go through the steps of a complex mathematical proof, for example, entirely in one’s head—but to call that some kind of “extended mind” is a bit of a stretch. The “mind” doesn’t “extend into the world” and get “entangled with…devices,” the person uses something in the environment (e.g., a notebook, a blackboard, a computer) to support the behavior he or she wants to execute. Why? Because that environment support is more stable and reliable than the person’s behavior alone—that’s why we have shopping lists, notebooks and all sorts of other environmental support. That’s not surprising or particularly new—any behaviorist would have told you that half a century ago and in ways that are a whole lot clearer than what Clark is saying.

    A person who is using language to think hasn’t “incorporated an external device into his most intimate self”—he or she is speaking to him- or herself, that is, performing verbal behavior covertly. A person might remember an ATM PIN by executing the finger movements in the absence of a keypad—again, that person isn’t “incorporating an external device into his or her most intimate self”—he or she is doing the behavior in the absence of what would usually support it. None of that means that the “mind” is “extended” or “expanded” or “externalized” or any of the other terms that these cognitive scientists like to frame this situation as—it just means that environmental support helps a person behave in certain ways and a person might act as if environmental support is present, even if it isn’t.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it just means that environmental support helps a person behave in certain ways and a person might act as if environmental support is present, even if it isn’t.

      I think “as if” is carrying a heavy load in that sentence. For example, the ubiquity of Google search makes some (me, certainly) more likely to remember where to find information than the information itself. Now suppose that Google search has been crapified (in fact, we don’t need to suppose). Will I be able to return to my old habits, and recover all the information I expected to have retained, “as if” Google had never existed? I don’t think so. (This is also reminiscent of McLuhan’s concept of amputation vs. extension, though I don’t think McLuhan shares Clark’s theory of mind.)

    2. a different chris

      >A person who is using language to think hasn’t “incorporated an external device into his most intimate self”—he or she is speaking to him- or herself,

      You’re not convincing me (and I am one who suspects Clark is pretty lame myself). I work with people from other countries who have come here – they speak about when their internal thoughts start changing from their original language to the local one. How does your argument address this behavior?

      1. Jeff W

        Huh? That is what I am talking about. Someone who learns another language might begin to think in that language, also—they are doing covertly (inside their heads) that which they can do when actually speaking out loud. People might make that shift or they might not—it probably depends on how much they are using and hearing that second language.

        I guess I was responding, not too clearly, to the phrase “incorporated an external device” (which might have been The New Yorker writer’s and not Clark’s). That unnecessarily complicates matters—that phrase turns behavior into a thing that is “incorporated” into the person. The person is just doing covertly what he or she could do overtly (that is, by speaking).

  13. allan

    “The 6 Most Shorted Nasdaq Stocks” [MarketWatch]. Sirius XM, AMD, Intel, Apple, Micron, Mattel.

    On the basis of their insanely frantic emails stinking up the old Inbox with their desperation,
    both Sirius XM and Expedia (owner of a slew of travel sites) look like toast. Not that I’m short.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Speaking of burnt toast, Facebook’s chart is a thing of beauty for those of us who’d like to see surveillance capitalism flushed down the toilet of history:


      As of today Facebook entered a bear market, having dropped 21 percent from its Feb 1st high.

      Cult stock Tesla is also crumbling like the FIU pedestrian bridge, off 27 percent from last September’s high after Moody’s downgraded its debt to B3 (deep junk) on liquidity concerns.

      When speculative favorites such as Facebook and Tesla smack the wall, it is worth considering the proposition that Bubble III may have ended on Jan 26, 2018 — until proven otherwise by new highs.

      And he shall be Elon
      And he shall be a GOOD man
      And he shall be Elon
      In tradition with the family plan, woo

      — Elton John, Levon

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The other day, the misery was due to Trump’s tariffs. But it seems that misunderstanding was over now, and this new misfortune can be traced to

        1. Spying on their own customers, where ‘the customer is always ripe for eavesdropping.’

        2. Self-driving cars are self-driving to accidents.

      2. ewmayer

        TSLA: The price drop means a lower P/E … oh wait, since TSLA has a negative P/E, it’s actually higher now, but its absolute value (or was that the complex modulus? After all, imaginary earnings, right?) is lower, or something. Long story short – d00d, back up the (self-driving) truck!

  14. Elizabeth Burton

    DSA is currently in the market for a developmental director, which to me suggests they are confident they can crack the walls. My sense is they are slowly building a third political party base while using the available tool of the Democrats to help make the bricks.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Many have called for a third (or a genuine second) party here for some time now.

      Perhaps the idea was not realistic. But if there is an ongoing effort at that, more people should be informed so they can contribute…unless, their knowing (or our knowing) is detrimental.

      Hopefully it’s not ‘We’re building a people’s party, but you don’t need to know just now.’

  15. gerry

    >Can’t things be good in themselves without being “investments”?

    We can only discuss means, not ends. The means is the new ends.

  16. Summer

    Re: Can teenagers save the world?

    Look at the differences in the quality of education among them…then be honest with ourselves.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “They’ve done it before….”

      Do we have to go that far back? What about the sixties? Some of their key issues: Peace, Big Brother, legalize weed, etc.

      1. Peace…that is always a cause available to teenagers. Factors contributing war are just as strong.

      2. Big Brother. Maybe those young people were wrong. Big Brother can spend as much it wants…on anything. Unless their current position is, yes, Big Brother can spend, but we must watch the spending carefully…must supervise Him. Knowing Human Nature, those teenagers can not be too comfortable with just ‘it can spend as much as it wants.’

      3. Weed. There’s substantial progressive in many states on this front, after 50 years or so, because those teens have kept up their struggle well into their Golden Years. The moral lesson from this single victory – be persistent and it takes a village of teenagers and seniors.

  17. Homina

    I’m getting pretty sick of lauding and appreciating the power of the youths when the elephant in the room is ignored. Namely, that they can’t vote, for arbitrary, stupid reasons. This is never, ever brought up as something that also needs to be addressed.

    Maybe if some school shooting victims had had that right they wouldn’t now be in the ground….

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In the Wikipedia article, Voting Age, it says that in some places some can vote as young as 17 or 16.

      If someone has to be home by 10 on weekend nights, can he or she be allowed to vote? Or conversely, if he or she has no freedom over where to live, where to study, when to go to bed, can he or she be free to vote?

      From a website called mwl-law:

      Almost every state has some sort of parental responsibility law that holds parents or legal guardians responsible … children. Parental responsibility laws are …

      Should parents be held liable, or required to supervise how their children vote, if the definition of adult is not lowered to match the voting age as well?

      “For your junior and senior years, you have to leave this house. Congratulations, you’re an adult now. Hope you’ll graduate in two years.”

      1. Homina

        Parental responsibility? Haven’t heard that one before…

        Should parents be held liable, or required to supervise how their children vote, if the definition of adult is not lowered to match the voting age as well?

        Irrelevant and also arbitrary. Definition of “adult” and right-to-vote are entirely different things. Or at least they should be. There shouldn’t be any tests of intelligence, wisdom, adulthood, brain activity, being a member of a cult, being white, being male, being a landowner, living under someone else’s roof test. And if there should be one, than that “justifies” any and all of the others, with the only variable being the mores of the time.

        Would you have been in favor of disallowing black people or women to vote? Something about slave owners being liable for how their slaves voted?? I’m trying to respond meaningfully but your objection or…response is nearly incomprehensible to me.

        “Voting should be an inalienable right to all citizens” — nothing to argue further. It’s universal from personhood and can’t be removed.

        “Voting should not be an inalienable right” — thousands of different arguments from black people being a different species to women’s hysterics to apparently the legal definition of an adult… arbitrary illogical prejudice.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Whatever age we lower it to is arbitrary.

          High school students can vote, but junior high students can’t

          ?I’m getting pretty sick of lauding and appreciating the power of the youths when the elephant in the room is ignored. Namely, that they can’t vote, for arbitrary, stupid reasons. This is never, ever brought up as something that also needs to be addressed.

          Maybe if some school shooting victims had had that right they wouldn’t now be in the ground….

          1. Homina

            Whatever age we lower it to is arbitrary.

            Uh, yes, agreed, my point even. As such there should be no age minimum at all so not a factor. Do you agree with me?

            Or…no need to answer that. You and everyone else reading this apparently believes that the right to vote isn’t inalienable from being a citizen of a Democracy.

            Tests, ages, felonies….blackness, monies to pay for an ID….

            1. Homina

              I mean honestly, this is a great site and those in charge and commentators, but I just have to be in contempt of all of you who ignore 25% of Americans who are denied a right to vote and if or if not some end up with their brains on a floor, with no opportunity prior to their lack of life to vote from someone who might curtail firearms.

              Show up holding signs and marching by millions…useless. You teens are so stupid or naive or something that you can’t even vote.

              Yves, Lambert…I hold you in contempt. Particularly via a recent article about denying right-to-vote to adult mentally-disabled and perhaps non-aware as if that’s a novel concern. Missing everything.

              Voting should be an absolute right. If disabled can’t vote it would be because once entering into the booth they literally can’t. Or they can and randomly hit something. Same for toddlers. Stop judging voters as if worthy physically or mentally. Stop forming TESTS, for goodness’ sake.


  18. allan

    The economic development situation has developed not necessarily to Andrew Cuomo’s advantage:

    Del Lago casino, struggling with revenue, seeks state bailout
    [Rochester D&C]

    The del Lago casino in the Finger Lakes is seeking a better tax deal from the state to address its struggling revenue — slightly over a year since it opened.

    Tom Wilmot, the principal owner of the casino, told USA TODAY Network’s Albany Bureau on Tuesday outside the Capitol that he hoped state leaders would assist the casino. …

    The $440 million casino in Tyre, Seneca County, opened in February 2017 with high hopes that it would be an economic boon for the region and build on the tourism industry in the Finger Lakes.

    But the casino, one of four upstate casinos to open over the past year, entered a highly competitive upstate gambling market and ended its first year well behind projections.

    Del Lago ended its first year at about $147 million in revenue — about 44 percent lower than projections, the largest discrepancy among the three upstate casinos that opened a year ago, the Albany Bureau reported last month. …

    44% – is that a lot? Who knew that pinning upstate economic revival on overoversaturating
    an already oversaturated gambling market might not work out?

  19. Where did it all go?

    Shipping: “Box lines face extra $34bn for low-sulphur fuel if shipowners don’t install scrubbers” [The Loadstar]. “Within two years it will be illegal to power a ship with fuel having more than 0.5% sulphur content, unless the vessel is fitted with an exhaust clean gas system, known as a scrubber.

    and every one of those scrubbers is accompanied by a by-pass valve which will operate mostly in the open position. The world’s environment will be better off if the fuel is cleaned up rather than depending on non-functioning equipment used as an excuse to keep burning the dregs of the refinery distillation column bottom pot. China, (unlike the USA, Canada, and much of the EU) outlawed and removed by-pass valves on all their coal fired power plants. Unrestrained capitalism should not be trusted, as Volkswagen emissions scandal over similar scrubber technology cheating showed.

    BTW, The original article would have been clearer if they had written should have been exhaust “gas clean-up” system, not exhaust “clean gas” system. All the scrubber does is remove sulphur, it does little to nothing to reduce other emissions from burning marine bunker diesel , many mutagenic, carcinogenic or just plain toxic.

    1. a different chris

      Thanks. I didn’t even know about the bypass valve and I thought it was stupid to keep making dirty fuel and expect the end-user to clean it up.

  20. Oregoncharles

    Parkland students: I went to the local “walkout” event, and was deeply impressed with the ceremony they pulled off. I came away thinking “the kids are alright,” and the comic book store account leaves me with the same feeling. As well as incipient tears.

    It’s easy to underestimate high school students.

    1. Yves Smith

      Look, this is all well and good, but this sentiment is not going to change anything. You may be moved, but you were already on their side. The gun owners are not moved. They know kids are dying and their remedy is more guns in schools.

      1. Skip Intro

        Are gun owners’ opinions relevant? The dynamic seems, to me, to be about addressing the power of an industry lobby.

      2. JBird

        …and their remedy is more guns in schools.

        I realize that I might be overly sensitive. This demonizing of everyone over everything along with the oversimplification of all things disturbs me.

        I have had the misfortune of listening to “conservative” talk radio/television while commuting, or at the gym with their descriptions of liberals and Democrats, or I read/listen to too many formally sane Democrats who have go insane and blame all the deplorables, the berniebros, and Russia. But not all, maybe not even a majority. Just the fanatics, the true believers.

        So which gun owners? If it is in reference to the NRA, well yes those fanatics/lobbyists are suggesting that. They do have to keep the donations flowing. However, that’s not a position of a majority of gun users/owners. Although some do think that’s a good idea. It’s certainly not mine. Then again too many people think Saddam Hussein had WMDs, that taking my shoes off for the TSA is a good idea, and Clinton lost because of Russia.

        1. Big River Bandido

          However, that’s not a position of a majority of gun users/owners.

          Do you have evidence to support that?

          1. JBird

            Let’s turn that around.

            That’s a very serious statement so do you have any evidence that a majority of the ⅓ of Americans who own guns do?

            This feels like the same when I was a rare one one supporting gay rights and somebody would retort with homosexuals are child molestors. So I’d have to go from saying gays have rights, or at least should, as any human being to saying that they don’t rape children.

            Or someone says liberals hate America and they’re all traitors! So instead of critiquing ideas, throw manure at the individuals.

            Neat trick.

      3. a different chris

        >The gun owners are not moved

        But: There may actually be a (no-longer) “silent majority” on this. What I always read (may be Demo party pablum, admittedly) was that a large majority of people didn’t care about the 2nd Amendment bs, it just was way down on their list of importantance, right or left. And if you were rightward then you had this additional $$$/issue stick to get the guys you want in office. This was especially useful for the classic “suburban Republican” whose legislative wants were about as completely opposite from the rural Republicans as you could get.

        Now guns are important. They shot up one too many wealthy enclaves. Old rules may well be just that, old.

    2. ambrit

      Is it just me, or did this last weekends “Walk” have a distinct resemblance to the “Pink P—y Hat” march of recent memory? Big time virtue signalling without any ‘nuts and bolts’ political organizing.
      In the interest of full disclosure: my youngest sister and her family, four in all, know some of the Parkland students involved, that school being just five miles away from where they live. They all jetted on up to DC for the rally. Mum was left at home. I can’t imagine having that much disposable income any more.
      So, when “rich” people demonstrate, it makes the ‘feel good’ news. When “poor” people demonstrate, it makes ‘feel bad’ news.
      There should be a lesson there for me but I’m distracted by trying to figure out how being a “porn star” became socially acceptable. That and the cleavage.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The people who meet eachother at these marches can always begin organizing among themselves.

  21. Oregoncharles

    “DSA Denver is petitioning delegates at County Assembly to add the following language to the Denver Democratic Party Platform”

    County Assemblies are not the party, and Denver is not Colorado. Where I am, local Dems are genuinely progressive, for the most part. And even the state convention supports policies, like IRV/RCV, that the state elected officials systematically block. Look at member support for Medicare for All, vs. the party’s position as shown by actions.

    That’s quite a firewall; I kind of wonder how they do it.

  22. Tooearly

    “Can’t things be good in themselves without being “investments”?”


    Apparently not …

  23. Kill kill kill

    “50,000 the amount of vehicles per model that can enter the country without having to meet with South Korean safety standards”

    No limits to the evil: if US can’t bomb your country they will send you unsafe cars to kill you in traffic instead.

    Ford cars in Mexico are also of less safety standards than in other countries

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      An Ohio Honda is more American than a Mexico Ford. I will remember that if I ever go to buy a car.

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