2:00PM Water Cooler 3/30/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Senior Court of International Trade Judge Jane Restani indicated Thursday that she would quickly make a ruling on a foreign steel company’s request for a temporary restraining order against Trump’s new 25 percent tariff on steel, a source present at the proceedings said. She also expressed skepticism about the request, giving supporters of the tariffs some hope, the source said” [Politico]. “Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act allows the president to impose tariffs to deal with a threat to national security. But the case filed by the Swiss subsidiary of Russian steel company Severstal argues Trump’s public statements make clear the duties were imposed for political and economic reasons and ‘therefore exceeded the scope of Congress’ delegation of authority to the Executive Branch.'” World class troll stand-off, here.



UPDATE “Congress, Not Trump, Has the Authority Over War” [Bernie Sanders (!), Foreign Policy]. “Though a majority of our Senate colleagues voted to table our resolution — that is, they chose to avoid taking a vote on the issues it raised — I am more convinced than ever of the need to go forward aggressively on this matter. We must never forget that the two most significant foreign-policy disasters in the modern history of the United States, the war in Iraq and the war in Vietnam, occurred when Congress sat back and allowed two administrations, one Republican and one Democrat, to lie to the American people as they led us into conflicts with horrific consequences. We must never allow that to happen again…. If Congress supports U.S. participation in the war in Yemen, let them have the courage to vote for it. If they support an expanded role for U.S. troops in Syria or anywhere else, let them vote for it. But for the future of our country, the credibility of our commitments, and the well-being of our armed forces, Congress cannot continue to abdicate the constitutionally mandated war-making responsibilities which the founding fathers gave to them.” That’s not exactly ending the Empire. But then that’s a matter for the voters, isn’t it? Who are perhaps ready for it.

UPDATE “U.S. Recession May Come Just in Time for Trump’s Re-Election Bid” [Bloomberg]. “Hefty tax cuts, stepped-up government spending and robust global growth should help insulate the economy against a downturn over the next two years, in spite of last week’s stock-market swoon. That would allow the expansion that began in 2009 to become America’s longest ever. But after that, watch out, economists warn. Fading fiscal stimulus, higher and rising interest rates, and cresting world demand could leave the economy vulnerable to a contraction — just in time for the presidential campaign. ‘2020 is a real inflection point,’ said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics Inc., in West Chester, Pennsylvania.'” Whenever the coming recession hits, it’s going to have had the longest prequel ever.

2018 Midterms

“Is the Trump Bump Real?” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Even as Stormy swirls, the president seems to have found his footing. Reporting from the White House press corps is that after a year of on-the-job training, the president is feeling much more confident and eager to follow-through on his 2016 campaign promises. Since the beginning of the year, he’s cleaned house at the cabinet level, taken a harder line on tariffs, especially on Chinese products, and is planning a sit-down with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un. At the same time, Trump’s overall job approval ratings have been on the upswing…. While a five-point swing in Trump’s overall job rating isn’t all that remarkable, it is noteworthy that it’s coming at a time of personnel and personal chaos for the president. What’s remarkable about Trump’s approval ratings during the course of his presidency, is how volatile and totally stable they are at the same time. The Real Clear Politics tracking chart looks like an EKG read-out; there is a short spike, then a drop, a short spike, then a drop.” The campaign polling looked exactly the same way.

“Dems face difficult choices on resources in battle for Senate” [The Hill]. “Democratic challengers know they’re not going to get the same attention as incumbents who can plead their case directly to Schumer.”

MO: “Obama coming to California to raise money for an endangered Democratic senator” (McCaskill) [Los Angeles Times]. So, “[Obama’s] first post-presidential fundraiser for a candidate” is for a Blue Dog. Priorities!

UPDATE MO: “McCaskill asked black leaders to push back on criticism of her campaign. No one would” [McClatchy]. “African American leaders in Missouri are frustrated with what they see as Sen. Claire McCaskill’s lackluster engagement with minority voters. Frustrated enough that they refused to sign a letter pushing back against comments made last month by Bruce Franks, a prominent black activist and state legislator from St. Louis, who called on McCaskill to “show up” and earn the support of minority voters in her state. ‘I’m going to vote for Claire, but Claire is going to have to bring her ass to St. Louis,’ Franks said to applause at a town hall he hosted Feb. 17.. Franks said in an interview with The Star this week that it’s clear McCaskill’s campaign is not doing the same level of outreach in communities like his as it’s doing in rural Missouri. ‘I don’t think it’s even close to equal,’ said Franks, a Ferguson protester who toppled a political dynasty to win his seat in the Missouri House in 2016. He helped lead protests last year in St. Louis after a white police officer was found not guilty in the shooting death of a black suspect.”

UPDATE CA-45: “The bellwether district that could portend a 2018 Democratic wave” [Yahoo News]. “In three key ways, her reelection fight is typical of 2018 as a whole — and that’s why it could be telling. The first factor is Walters herself. Unlike Issa or Rohrabacher — or any Republican running in a Trump-era special election, over which Democrats have obsessed and in which they have overperformed — Walters has not been the focus of national controversy or the target of national Democratic hostility… The second “typical” factor at work in CA-45 is Walters’s Democratic opposition…. There are four Democrats angling to unseat the two-term congresswoman, and none of them are obvious unicorns. Instead, they make up a remarkably representative cross-section of the Democratic Party’s class of 2018, which is defined by its abundance of rookie candidates, many of them women and/or minorities, who have decided to run for office in order to “resist” Trump’s agenda…. Which brings us to the last “typical” aspect of the CA-45 contest: the district itself. Even though Clinton won there by more than 5 points — and even though Republicans have an 8-point registration advantage — its “partisan lean,” according to FiveThirtyEight, is actually tiny.”

2016 Post Mortem

“The 2016 Exit Polls Led Us to Misinterpret the 2016 Election” [Thomas Edsall, New York Times]. “Crucial disputes over Democratic strategy concerning economic distribution, race and immigration have in large part been based on Election Day exit polls that now appear to have been inaccurate in key ways. According to subsequent studies, those polls substantially underestimated the number of Democratic white working-class voters — many of whom are culturally conservative — and overestimated the white college-educated Democratic electorate, a far more culturally liberal constituency…. In sum, Pew’s more precise survey methods reveal that when Democrats are broken down by education, race and ethnicity, the white working class is the largest bloc of Democratic voters and substantially larger than the bloc of white college-educated Democratic voters.” Hilarity ensues.

UPDATE “From Trump to Russia to not shutting up, 10 big things Hillary Clinton said at Rutgers ” [Star-Ledger]. “[CLINTON:] I do worry that what’s happening to the Republican Party is that it’s being held captive. If you deviate from their stated requests they will fund someone to run against you in the Republican primary.” Too funny, since that’s exactly what Clinton’s faction of the Democrat Party, which still controls the DNC, is doing to left candidates.



New Cold War

UPDATE We should have sightings in less than nine months:

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “How the Bernie Wing Won the Democratic Primaries” [Politico]. “The party’s ascendant left is coming after everybody, regardless of the outcome in Lipinski’s race. Progressive energy is pulsing through the primaries, most notably in the proliferation of Trump-backlash grass-roots groups like Indivisible, Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress that are teeming with activists inspired by Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. There’s no comparable counterweight within the establishment.” Wowsers. Any writer who doesn’t mention Our Revolution, and thinks that Indivisible is inspired by Sanders (it isn’t; here’s their guide to talking to your Congresscritter during the Recess*, and Sanders issues do not appear in it, most notably #MedicareForAll) is at the very best slipshot and ignorant. NOTE * Great technique, though; others should copy it. Inspired by Congressional staffers, Indivisible is good on that terrain.

UPDATE “My 72-Hour Safari in Clinton Country” [Politico]. I nearly cracked a tooth reading this; it is worth reading. Key sentence: “Everyone I met seemed to be financially well off, a sign of just how much money is still sloshing into pockets of Blue America.” Clinton’s remark at Rutgers — “‘I drank my share of Chardonnay,’ Clinton added to cheers and even more laughs” — hits the mark with this crowd perfectly. (Recall from the 2016 Post Mortem above: “[T]he white working class is the largest bloc of Democratic voters and substantially larger than the bloc of white college-educated Democratic voters.” The people the reporter speaks to — not a cabbie among them — are all from Thomas Frank’s 10-percent. They are in the latter block, not the former. This is the key contradiction in liberal base that both the left and conservatives are seeking to exploit, in their different ways.

UPDATE Collateral:

Readers will recall that one difficulty with Occupy’s General Assembly was that it didn’t — couldn’t — respect working people’s time. Roberts Rules are at least designed to enable that (and though running a meeting well is a skill, presumably propagating the meeting rules can only encourage that).

Stats Watch

The markets are closed today.

Housing: “What to Expect From the Housing Market This Spring” [New York Times]. “The housing market will depend on which opposing force proves more powerful: long-term fundamentals of supply and demand, or near-term ripples emanating from Washington and Wall Street. Most evidence suggests that fundamentals will prevail over time and push sales and prices higher, especially at the lower and middle tiers of the market. But the opposing forces could mean a period of uncertain dealmaking. Higher mortgage rates and a new tax law will affect several elements of home buying….. [A}s long as there are more families looking for a place to live than new homes in place to accommodate them, the pressure on prices and sales will be upward, no matter what happens as the market adjusts to higher mortgage rates and tax changes.”

The Bezzle: Tesla’s manufacturing issues thread, from a short. Start here:

The nut tweet:

Let me transcribe part of that last tweet:

[Tesla] has also tried to automate final assembly…. Tesla’s approach to automation rings alarm bells. If we look at the history of the auto industry, we can see that attempts to automate final assembly haven’t worked. Many OEMs have tried it in the past — such as Fiat, VW, and GM. They have all failed, often spectacularly. Anyone familiar with automobile assembly knows this…. .

[A]utomation is expensive — and usually proves far less effective, hihgly inflexible, and creates quality problems further down the line.

  • In welding, mistakes and inconsistences go unrecognized — but the machine powers on and builds cars with the wrong geometry or bad spot welds in key locations. These are only found later — when for instance the windscreen is inserted, or a door re-attached. Have you wondered why Tesla doors don’t align, or hoods don’t fit, or windscreens are prone to cracking? Now you have your answer.
  • In final assembly, robots can apply torque consistently — but they don’t detect and account for threads that aren’t straight, bolts that don’t quite fit, fasteners that don’t align, or seals that have a defect. Humans are really good at this. Have you wondered why Teslas have wind noise problems, squeaks and rattles, and bits of trim that fall off? Now you have your answer.

And apparently quite a bit of capital has been invested in that final assembly line..

The Bezzle: “Tesla Looked Like the Future. Now Some Ask if It Has One.” [New York Times]. “For years, Tesla has ridden a wave of enthusiastic support from its customers and a certain set of investors, even though it generated barely any profit in the 15 years since its founding. Company events to present new models tend to have the feel of a religious revival, with hundreds or thousands of owners cheering wildly at each new pronouncement from Mr. Musk… In November, before a screaming audience of several hundred guests….” Totally not a cult.

The Bezzle; “Former Uber Backup Driver: ‘We Saw This Coming'” [CityLab]. “Keeping an eye on the road for hours on end as a robot learns to drive is an exhausting job, according to the ex-employees. The solitude and monotony of the repeated routes made it difficult to maintain focus—more so than driving a long-distance truck or a taxi. ‘There’s no interaction with other humans,’ said [test driver Ryan Kelley]. ‘You could listen to music or sit in silence.’ Between that, sitting for long stretches in a single position, and the vehicles’ frequent hard braking, the daily grind of operating the vehicles wore down on his health, Kelley said… There were times when Kelley felt he didn’t trust himself in the car. Hours into his night shift, he said, he could feel his attention waning, his impulses relaxed by the most-of-the-time reliability of the self-driving technology. That bred a false sense of security. The other operator agreed. ‘Uber is essentially asking this operator to do what a robot would do,’ he said. ‘A robot can run loops and not get fatigued. But humans don’t do that.’ What’s more, many backup drivers work alone….. Both former operators also expressed surprise that Uber’s self-driving technology had failed, too. Something went deeply wrong here, they said—the cars were often super-sensitive to obstructions, even non-existent ones. ‘Sometimes the car would brake because of steam coming up from a pothole in the ground,’ the anonymous operator said. Self-driving experts are equally perplexed. ‘The LiDAR should have seen the [Tempe] pedestrian at quite some distance,’ Raj Rajkumar, who leads autonomous vehicle research at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote in an email. ‘All in all, this indicates pretty serious technical issues at the core of the Uber system.'”

Facebook Fracas

“Fake news, clickbait still doing well after Facebook algorithm change” [Columbia Journalism Review] (original). “In the report, “Navigating the Facebook Algorithm Change,” [media-monitoring firm NewsWhip] looks at the most widely shared articles since the algorithm change and finds that more than half of the top 100 were hard news stories or reporting on current events, such as the death of famed astrophysicist Stephen Hawking. But clearly false stories also show up fairly high in the rankings: Number 26 on the most-shared list is a report from a fake news site called Your Newswire that says the flu shot is causing a “disastrous flu outbreak.” That story got more than 850,000 engagements.”

“Here are the internal Facebook posts of employees discussing today’s leaked memo” [The Verge] (Facebook Vice President Andrew “Boz” Bosworth’s memo). “Dozens of employees criticized the unknown leakers at the company. ‘Leakers, please resign instead of sabotaging the company,’ one wrote in a comment under Bosworth’s post. Wrote another: ‘How fucking terrible that some irresponsible jerk decided he or she had some god complex that jeopardizes our inner culture and something that makes Facebook great?'” Totally not a cult-like corporate culture.

“Don’t Just Delete Facebook, Poison Your Data First” [Motherboard]. “If you’re savvy with code, you can employ a script that repeatedly alters your Facebook posts with nonsense, making it more difficult for the social media site to collect user data.” So far as I can tell, this approach doesn’t poision the social graph, which would be the key requirement.

Our Famously Free Press

“For two years, Julie Reynolds has cranked out stories about Alden Global Capital, the secretive New York hedge fund that controls Digital First Media, the nation’s second-largest newspaper chain” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “A recent lawsuit claims Alden sucked money out of the newspapers it owns in order to make risky investments in Greek sovereign debt and a troubled pharmaceutical chain, among other areas. News industry analyst Ken Doctor wrote that the suit “provides unusual visibility into the nest of secretive vultures.” Newsrooms in a few cities with DFM-owned newspapers took note. “Alden Global Capital has for years treated one of the biggest media companies in the country like a big ATM,” wrote a columnist for The Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Someday, it will run out of money.”

Net Neutrality

“Comcast supports ban on paid prioritization—with an exception” [Ars Technica], “‘There is a recognition that something might come along that is not anti-competitive, that is pro-consumer, that is a specialized service available not to every user of the Internet, [and] that would be in consumers’ interests and in the public interest,’ [Comcast Senior Executive VP David Cohen] said.” “Something might come along….”

Health Care

“Thousands Mistakenly Enrolled in Medicaid During Expansion” [Governing]. “California signed up an estimated 450,000 people under Medicaid expansion who may not have been eligible for coverage, according to a report by the U.S. Health and Human Services’ chief watchdog” (n = 150, confidence level 95%). “During the audit period, 12 enrollees in the sample group [of 150] had incomes above 138 percent of the federal poverty line, making them ineligible financially for public assistance, according to the report.” So, at the very best, this is due to ObamaCare’s complex eligibility requirements (which shouldn’t exist in the first place). At the worst, those whose incomes were “on the bubble” were advised to do what it took in their income declarations to get on to Medicaid, if it was the better program (which it was), and that advice has now come back to bite the program (though hopefully not the recipients themselves, with clawbacks). Meanwhile, California is blaming computer upgrades.

“Bad ACA Rules Cost Low-Income Americans $2 Billion a Year” [People’s Policy Project], “What is inexcusable is that the vast majority of state governments have basically left billions of free federal money on the table because they didn’t prevent insurers from gaming the system in such a clear and simple way. That alone should destroy anyone’s belief that states can effectively regulate private health insurance markets.”

“A cross-sectional study of all clinicians’ conflict of interest disclosures to NHS hospital employers in England 2015-2016” [British Medical Journal]. “Overall, recording of employees’ conflicts of interest by NHS trusts is poor. None of the NHS Trusts in England met all transparency criteria. 19 did not respond to our FoIA requests, 51 did not provide a Gifts and Hospitality Register and only 31 of the registers provided contained enough information to assess employees’ conflicts of interest. Despite obligations on healthcare professionals to disclose conflicts of interest, and on organisations to record these, the current system for logging and tracking such disclosures is not functioning adequately.” The NHS Trusts were set up under Thatcher’s National Health Service and Community Care Act in 1990, which “introduced an internal market into the supply of healthcare, making the state an ‘enabler’ rather than a supplier of health and social care provision.” That makes it a neoliberal scam designed to destroy the NHS. The failure by NHS trusts to disclose conflicts of interest rings my phishing equilibrium spidey sense, and so I assume that the trusts are well on their way to achieving Thatcher’s goal. Perhaps UK readers can comment.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Has Hip-Hop Rediscovered Its Radical Spirit” [Rocket Radio]. “Hip-hop might not be the panacea it’s imagined to be by some purists, but it can’t merely be viewed solely as a cool urban culture that can be ‘pimped’ to benefit labels and A&Rs anymore. At the very least, looked at through the lens of industry ‘trends’, hip-hop is simultaneously more popular and more radical than it’s been in 30 years. And so while it’s debatable whether hip-hop is in itself the peak social movement in 2018 that it was once, there are many artists who are fighting to keep the voice and soundtrack to one.”

Class Warfare

“Teacher Protests and Strikes Are Winning Historic Tax Hikes” [Governing]. “Oklahoma this week joined a growing number of states in giving their teachers long-overdue pay raises. The national movement, prompted by teacher strikes and protests throughout the country, may represent a turning tide in places that have heavily cut public education dollars. On Wednesday, the Oklahoma legislature passed a historic tax increase — the state’s first in 28 years — to give teachers their first salary boost in more than a decade. The $450 million tax hike required a three-quarters majority, a barrier that has typically been unsurmountable in deeply conservative Oklahoma.”

“Legal Considerations When Using Big Data And Artificial Intelligence To Make Credit Decisions” [Lending Times]. “The use of big data raises particular concerns related to disparate impact. For example, the inputs—that is, the data itself—can lead to inadvertent disparate impact on protected classes. If, say, a lending decision is made in part by screening people in certain zip codes, the racial distribution of loans may be uneven since de facto residential segregation persists in the United States. The same could be true for decisions made based on connections on social media sites such as Facebook. While the data is not explicitly based on race, it may still have a racially disparate impact. Relatedly, the algorithms a lender uses may contribute to a disparate impact. The algorithm might rely on correlations between certain data points that end up affecting people of certain groups differently. And machine learning could exacerbate the problem. If a machine learns through patterns that credit risk is correlated to zip code, it could adjust the algorithm and sort consumers by race, even though the algorithm itself is racially neutral.”

“An Early Look at the State of U.S. CEO Pay” [Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation]. “Buoyed by a strong stock market (leading to higher annual incentive payments) and more generous stock awards, CEOs across every market capitalization range saw some of the strongest pay increases since the recovery years from the financial crisis” (although these are early disclosures, and more data will come in).

News of The Wired

“Facial recognition technology can now text jaywalkers a fine” [New York Post]. Not if I’m wearing my Richard Nixon mask and carrying a dumb phone. What a time to be alive!

“RIAA Reports Music Industry Is Making All The Money Just As New Study Says Piracy Has Never Been More Widespread” [TechDirt]. “The explanation for this isn’t difficult to understand. Those that pirate music also buy music, go to concerts, and support the bands and music industry through all kinds of other purchases. They also likely subscribe to streaming services and pirate what they can’t find there, or what they discover there. The point is that music pirates are often fans of music and may purchase along with pirating. In other words, the simplistic attack mantras from the RIAA don’t make a great deal of sense alongside the RIAA reporting that the music industry is making gobs of money, and increasingly so.”

“The Forgotten Drink That Caffeinated North America for Centuries” [Atlas Obscura]. “Cassina, or black drink, the caffeinated beverage of choice for indigenous North Americans, was brewed from a species of holly native to coastal areas from the Tidewater region of Virginia to the Gulf Coast of Texas. It was a valuable pre-Columbian commodity and widely traded…. William Aiton, an eminent British botanist and horticulturist, director of Kew Gardens, and ‘Gardener to His Majesty,’ is credited with giving cassina the scientific name it bears to this day: Ilex vomitoria. Ilex is the genus commonly known as holly. Vomitoria roughly translates to ‘makes you vomit.’ … As the royal gardener, Aiton knew some of the richest and most powerful people in the British Empire. One of the most profitable and influential forces in that empire was the East India Company, which held a virtual monopoly on the tea trade. Its officers may well have worried that cassina represented a potential replacement for a lucrative British commodity, especially as it grew abundantly within regions then under the control of Spain and France…. As the royal gardener, Aiton knew some of the richest and most powerful people in the British Empire. One of the most profitable and influential forces in that empire was the East India Company, which held a virtual monopoly on the tea trade. Its officers may well have worried that cassina represented a potential replacement for a lucrative British commodity, especially as it grew abundantly within regions then under the control of Spain and France.” “May well have,” I admit. But gaming the Linnean system: That’s impressive!

“Some Very Entertaining Plastic, Emulated at the Archive” [Internet Archive]. “This collection of emulated handheld games, tabletop machines, and even board games stretch from the 1970s well into the 1990s. They are attempts to make portable, digital versions of the LCD, VFD and LED-based machines that sold, often cheaply, at toy stores and booths over the decades.”

Whereof one cannot speak

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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 (TH):

TH: “Mickey Mouse …. I mean, Prickly Pear Cactus.” In honor of the Disney strikers?

* * *

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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. lyman alpha blob

    Several employees suggested Facebook attempt to screen employees for a high degree of “integrity” during the hiring process. “Although we all subconsciously look for signal on integrity in interviews, should we consider whether this needs to be formalized in the interview process?” one wrote.
    ” “This is so disappointing, wonder if there is a way to hire for integrity.””

    Wrote another: “This is so disappointing, wonder if there is a way to hire for integrity. We are probably focusing on the intelligence part and getting smart people here who lack a moral compass and loyalty.”

    To paraphrase Inigo Montoya –

    You keep using that word integrity. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I thought I was reading something about elite college admissions offices.

      “We should take him, who was voted his high school’s Mr. Congeniality.”

    2. Big River Bandido

      That sentence floored me as well. No corporate culture will generate integrity when it’s lacking at the top. Indeed, the whistleblower is the one with the integrity here.

      1. JerryDenim

        “Integrity” = ‘Hear no, see no, speak no evil’

        The real reason Corporate America loves hiring Ivy grads. The legacies have been indoctrinated with this ethos from birth and the other members of this select club who have been admitted based upon “merit” not class have learned to ruthlessly police their thoughts, feelings and words from an early age to ingratiate themselves with their superiors. Milgram experiment outliers need not apply. If one somehow slips through the cracks, not to worry, the elite culture of positivity, peer-group consensus seeking (above all) , and ass-kissing will weed them out.

        Skin in the game indeed. It must be worse than training for the Olympics. Minimum of 21 years of soul crushing sacrifice and discipline.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      They have been telling themselves that people were freely giving up this data for a long, long time. Even though they were using it in ways that the people logged on to trade pictures of their favorite meals and kids dressed up in cute outfits never even considered. Of course they thought they were being ethical!

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      “wonder if there is a way to hire for integrity”

      Ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.

      Makes me feel more hopeful about small is beautiful.

  2. DJG

    Why does the news of the implosion of Facebook, the fatal flaws of Tesla, and the meltdown of Uber seem like a glimpse of a viable future beyond the current P.T. Barnum extravaganza? Why do the travails of red-baiting Claire McCaskill make me think that there is a dim light beckoning on the other side of the firmament?

    I am reminded of the Flammarion engraving:

    As to messing with your FB data, I find that putting in nonsensical responses to adverts has a deterrent effect at Facebook. Mayonnaise? Click the button that it’s pornographic. Small hotel? Seen the ad too many times. Facebook ad? Why, it’s spam. Consider it the March Hare Strategy for Dealing without Foofaraws with Intrusive Marketing.

    Best wishes to all as we enter these holy days of the mysterious appearance of chocolate bunnies. Lay off the Peeps.

    1. Summer

      “implosion of Facebook, the fatal flaws of Tesla, and the meltdown of Uber…”

      Of the three, Tesla looks to be in the most trouble.
      Enough users still haven’t thought through Uber’s impact.
      Marketers, corporations, and the national security state are carrying on expecting and making projections based on all the Facebook data and metrics collected on users.

      1. Synoia

        Enough users still haven’t thought through Uber’s impact.

        Too true. Better below:

        Enough users still haven’t felt Uber’s impact.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        I’d been under the impression that despite some of the manufacturing screwups Musk has made with Tesla, the cars themselves were fairly decent.

        Lately though it sounding like Musk and the Tesla may eventually be remembered in the same way as Howard Hughes and the Spruce Goose.

        1. John k

          I doubt it. We don’t fly around in wood airplanes.
          We will be driving cars that are a lot like Tesla’s, even if the T might be missing.
          Granted, in that case a lot of rich investors might have substantial writeoffs.

          1. bob

            He’s a visionary!

            “I doubt it. We don’t fly around in wood airplanes.
            We will be driving cars that are a lot like Tesla’s”

            Cars that are also a lot like they are and have been for…..60 years? 100 years to the birth of the first electric car.

            He can’t even manage incremental improvement in his little luxury niche. Incremental as in- can sell the car without taking a loss. It’s not his loss, mind you. That’s not Visionary either, he’s just following the bankers, as he did with paypal….

    2. Summer

      Also, I’m inclined to believe the stock performance is more overdue market corrections that was just waiting for something to blame the fall on other than over-hype.
      As far as I can tell, they are all still doing business as usual: Tesla: over-automated, Uber: over-indulged, FB: over-surveilled. The PR and punditry is just different.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Union busting and self-promotion way beyond the demands of normal commercial puffery may have something to do with it, perhaps?

          I’m agnostic on EVs. For example, if we need to have our empire for rare earths and lithium, as opposed to petroleum, we may not be reducing our carbon footprint as much as we imagined we would.

    3. Huey Long

      Lay off the Peeps.

      The manufacturer of peeps is suing for the right to shirk their $60 million pension obligation to the union workers who make peeps, so PLEASE! Lay off those peeps!


    1. Synoia

      Watch the Series on Netflix “The Midwife,” especially the early episodes, about condition in the East End of London immediately after WW II.

      It’s as realistic as I remember. My Aunty Peg was a district nurse, and her husband Uncle Mike, a policemen.

  3. fresno dan

    The 2016 Exit Polls Led Us to Misinterpret the 2016 Election” [Thomas Edsall, New York Times].

    I just don’t believe that the dems are reality based OR if they do accept that the working class is bigger than the college educated cohort, they don’t care. They want to – pardon me, they aspire to represent the meritocracy. Getting elected to implement polices that would IN ANY WAY hinder the rich or thwart market based solutions are no longer in their DNA.

      1. flora

        I think seeing 20-30% of your net worth vanish over a 10 year period had more to do with the voting pattern than any reported ‘cultural conservatism’.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I think your first hypothesis is actually the correct one. The Democrats in Congress and in the institution are acting rather like the British government in 1777, when confronted with a catastrophic policy failure in America. They assumed the policy failed not because it was wrong or unpopular, but because it had not been properly applied. So they continued to follow the same policy, each time vowing to “get it right this time”.
      Willful or not, it was substantive blindness.

      1. Synoia

        That’s actually the popular view of the Tories.

        So they continued to follow the same policy, each time vowing to “get it right this time”.

        It is also consistent with “The whipping will continue until morale improves” style of management.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Yes, and at the time American supporters of the Crown were labelled with the epithet “Tory”. Plus ça change

    2. Procopius

      … they aspire to represent the meritocracy.

      I think that’s made clear in Al From’s The NEW Democratic Party and the Return to Power. I don’t think Al From realized what he was revealing, though, and I’m surprised somebody didn’t grab him by the neck and whisper in his ear. All the Democrats who joined the DLC and now control the Party hated the New Deal and wanted the big money.

  4. Sid Finster

    ““The 2016 Exit Polls Led Us to Misinterpret the 2016 Election” [Thomas Edsall, New York Times]. “Crucial disputes over Democratic strategy concerning economic distribution, race and immigration have in large part been based on Election Day exit polls that now appear to have been inaccurate in key ways. According to subsequent studies, those polls substantially underestimated the number of Democratic white working-class voters — many of whom are culturally conservative — and overestimated the white college-educated Democratic electorate, a far more culturally liberal constituency…. In sum, Pew’s more precise survey methods reveal that when Democrats are broken down by education, race and ethnicity, the white working class is the largest bloc of Democratic voters and substantially larger than the bloc of white college-educated Democratic voters.” Hilarity ensues.

    Please tell me that was intentional.

    1. Big River Bandido

      The hilarity I noticed was that the article inferred that the way to appeal to these so-called “working class whites” was to blow racist dog-whistles (particularly about jobs and immigration).

      They really are *that* out of touch.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, that’s a given; after all, Democrats hate their base, so it is natural they would attribute hateful motives to them. But the demographics themselves are interesting

      2. RudyM

        Is this being out of touch? Do you think proposed immigration restrictionism was not part of Trump’s appeal to the white working class?

        Do you not think that the Democrat’s doubling down on open borders and lawlessness where immigration is concerned, even going so far as to wage a phony shutdown of the government for the sake of “dreamers,” is not, at least, precisely the wrong direction to move in, if the Democrats want to win votes like mine?

        I am a while male with two degrees and what might be considered a middle class income in my state, but I “identify” (as you folks like to say) as working class more at this point, given that circumstances outside of my control have forced my salary down pretty drastically over the last decade. I guess it’s not surprising that I am also voting like a white working class man, as well.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The text itself is in English, though the Cyrillic in the sidebar is certainly odd. (“Expert with tangibles” is a quote from LeGuin’s Lathe of Heaven, to which the link goes.)

    1. marku52

      My first experience with robots in manufacturing was at an oscilloscope company. They bought a robot to insert a transformer into a circuit board. Unfortunately, the robot was not able to pick up the transformers out of the shipping carton in the correct orientation.

      So the engineer assigned to the robot had to pick the transformers up by hand and load them into a special orientation fixture so that the robot could pick it up and put it in the circuit board.

      Of course, they could have just had an assembler put the transformers right into the circuit board, and skip the robot step, but Hey! we’ve got automation!

      Reminds me of a later scene where it took 2 firmware engineers to oversee the work of an outsource engineer that could have easily been done by one of the overseeing engineers.

      But Hey! We moved a cost around on the P&L statement!

    2. fresno dan

      Lambert Strether
      March 30, 2018 at 2:55 pm

      So, not exactly on point, but close I think.
      So, my volunteer job I guess was closed because “Good Friday”? So I have a hankering for a philly cheese steak. I seldom eat carbs or lunch, but I just have a craving.
      So Garmin (the little screen that gives traffic directions while you are in your car) tells me how to get to a nearby sub shop. It wants me to go to an intersection of Pinedale and Blackstone (in Fresno) and make a left onto Blackstone. Anyone familiar with Fresno knows that to make a left onto Blackstone WITHOUT the benefit of a traffic lighted intersection other than between 3 and 5 am is nuts.
      1. There is no light at this intersection
      2. Blackstone is a divided major road at this point – you cannot make a left there.
      3. Even if Blackstone was not divided at this point, it is 3 lanes south and 3 lanes north. At 12:30 on Friday, it is a continuous river of cars, and unless you are suicidal, it would be impossible to make a left onto this thoroughfare.

      I have gotten instructions similar but at least it WAS POSSIBLE to make a left, just not smart or prudent.
      Or its ridiculous notion at 5 pm to get onto a major commuter rush hour freeway that is crawling to go 6 blocks, instead of using the deserted surface streets…..

    3. PKMKII

      I’ll throw in my perspective from contracts payment: payment structures for contracts are highly bespoke things. They may be simple things, or they can be a complex set of interacting factors, that vary depending on which portion of the contract they apply to.

      Problem is that programmers tend to come from the hyperlogical view that, everything is quantifiable so everything can be reduced to matriced metrics so everything can be reduced to formulas so it can all be reduced to code and we can shave down all those messy variables to a platonic ideal state with ideal formulas. Which leads to problematic assumptions like, all your contracts can just be expressed as a unit price times quantity, or that we don’t need to keep unique spreadsheets for each contract if we have a central database. And when you voice concerns or point out shortcomings, they either dismiss it as noise or insist that you find a convoluted workaround rather than bypass their system or automation. Even to the point of saying you should delay expedited payments by a day, rather than skipping the automated process and doing it manually. The insanity of which should be blatantly obvious to anyone who’s worked with time-sensitive finances.

      So at some point you have to cede the digital/automated process to the human input. Which a mechanical engineer would understand clearly, but, despite the insistence of the disciples of Rocket Jesus otherwise, Musk is not one. He comes out of the programming end, so he treats those chaotic particulars of threading angles as trivialities before the Almighty Algorithm.

    4. cnchal

      The key point is that Elon wants to automate assembly completely, because having people on the assembly line limits speed, and Elon being a visionary knows that for example, tripling the speed of the assembly line with total automation results in a car coming off the line every 20 seconds, instead of a minute. Those robots will need a few extra grease nipples.

      I wonder if Elon has heard and understands the saying, “haste makes waste”?

      Uber Killer car. From today’s links.

      Toyota North America Chief Executive Jim Lentz said the company expects to “soon” resume testing of self-driving vehicles, while warning that the ongoing risks will affect the industry’s progress.

      “There will be mistakes from vehicles, from systems, and a hundred or 500 or a thousand people could lose their lives in accidents like we’ve seen in Arizona,” Lentz said Thursday at a Reuters Newsmakers event connected with the New York auto show.

      “The big question for government is: How much risk are they willing to take? If you can save net 34,000 lives, are you willing to potentially have 10 or 100 or 500 or 1,000 people die?” he said. “And I think the answer to that today is they are not willing to take that risk – and that’s going to really slow down the adoption of autonomous driving.”

      I see no evidence that AV cars will be all that safe, ever. The engineering complexity is so daunting that many mistakes will be made and one should hope to not be the unlucky random victim of live testing.

      Currently, AV cars “look” no more than 3 seconds down the road. They also “learn” as they go, which to my mind means they can develop spooky non predictable motion and when the inevitable happens there is no way to determine exactly why because of the hidden layers and connections within the AI device interpreting the incoming data.

      So far, there has been silence from the investigators into this tragedy, and it’s likely that they will never know the actual reason the “vision” systems failed to detect a pedestrian pushing a bicycle across it’s path. I am hoping the results will be made public and the don’t get buried under the cloak of IP.

      The engineers are attempting to give sight to a car, which makes decisions on it’s own to get from where it is to where it’s directed to go. Were that car given an eye test like every other driver on the road, it’s license would be pulled, instead of it driving around like Mr Magoo.

      1. Procopius

        If the engineers don’t yet know exactly what went wrong, than they are not running a “test” program. They are doing the equivalent of playing with model trains. It looks from the video as if the car did not see the pedestrian. At all.

  5. Elizabeth Burton

    The national movement, prompted by teacher strikes and protests throughout the country, may represent a turning tide in places that have heavily cut public education dollars.

    And with reference to this, I add the following for those who don’t use Facebook, detest the idea of its existence, and see no reason why its disappearance will make any difference.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being more indifferent than detesing, I think life after Facebook is possible, for many, though we are not there yet.

      As for the End of Facebook, there is a lot those run can do to prevent that and save it, though users will ultimately decide.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Me again. Lent’s almost over, and my Faceborg fast is still going strong. Matter of fact, I plan to continue it after Lent.

        Coming soon: Slim asks the commentariat how to delete a FB account.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If no time at Facebook for you means more time of you here, that would be great!!!

        2. Craig H.

          Congratulations AZ Slim!

          Are you on twitter? James Corbett had an embarrassing falling out with one of his proteges in independent journalism, Sibel Edmonds, and did an agonizing video which I dis-recommend, but at the end there was one shining moment. This may not be an exact quote, but he said: The medium is the message and the message of twitter is “I hate you”. And he deleted his twitter account.

          1. RudyM

            It’s not just about Corbett vs. Edmonds. It’s about Edmonds’ attack on Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett, and others (pretty much anyone who dares defend them).

            And it’s well worth watching the video. Not sure why it would be “dis-recommended.”

            More expose on Edmonds’ here, from people who worked with her directly:


            Corbett had little choice but to distance himself from someone with who he has worked so closely, given that she has gone so far off the deep end at this point.

            1. gepay

              I agree. Corbett’s reports with Sibel Edmonds on Gladio B were enlightening to me; I donated to help start Newsbud. Sibel was easy on my eyes but her voice,,,, Then I saw her take down of Real News Network . Fox news CNN most of the rest of MSM. yes but Real News Network is very good as far as it goes. There are places anybody that wants to be mentioned in the mainstream can’t go. Robert Parry was an example (he lost his place in mainstream journalism by reporting on the CIA the contras and cocaine + the October surprise but stopped there) – William Blum – Noam Chomsky – all have good things to say even the intercept but they won’t go to 9/11 the JFK, RFK, MLK assassinations etc. – rabbit holes that the CIA has spent 10s of millions or more to obfuscate. One will never get document grade proof of a smoking gun. The CIA has been completely successful in making “conspiracy theory” an instant dismissal of any fact pointing to ‘The Powers That Be’ complicity. Corbitt did an excellent job of illuminating how specious Newsbud’s “Syria Under Siege: Guarding Against Wolves in Sheep Clothing” was with the facts. Since Sibel’s interviews with Corbitt showing the change from the old Gladio using fascists to the newer Gladio B using jihadis I have not noticed any important revelations from Sibel. Corbitt on the other hand is getting better and better at going past the places the left gatekeepers stop at. Because as Kevin Barrett says, If I hadn’t been taken aback at the numerous inconsistencies in the official 9/11 conspiracy theory (and spoke out about it) I would probably still be teaching about Sufis to college students.

              1. JBird

                One has to be careful not to become a crazed conspiricist. It gives support to the counter propaganda of the “conspiracy nut.

                “There is plenty of evil, hidden conspiracies to not invent them. Of course, there being so many is a problem enough.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      Isn’t the plan for the people voting for these salary increases via taxing as follows:

      #1. Give the teachers what they want while paying for it with tax increases.
      #2. Running against those same tax increases in their next election, demonizing public school teachers in the process.

      I am sorry if I am being cynical but this all looks like it is coming about way to easily without much of a fight in these statehouses.

    3. Big River Bandido

      Before there was Facebook, there was MySpace. Before there was MySpace, there was Meetup.com. Before there was Meetup, there was the email chain. Before there was email, there was the phone tree.

      The death of Facebook is not going to be the end of political mobilization. Facebook is actually very limited in its ability to function as a political tool, not least because of its algorithms and the potential for censorship. In fact, the death of Facebook would be a net positive for human interactions, and as a result, society as a whole.

      Something else will take its place. Or users will simply revert to an earlier organizing method.

      1. Huey Long


        Rest assured Facebook WILL BE compromised if it is ever effectively wielded against the 1%ers in let’s say an Occupy revival, Seattle WTO scale protest, or general strike.

        Zuckerfamilyblog is not our friend.

    4. Daryl

      Social media enabling such rapid organizing is great.

      I am concerned about what happens when Facebook (the company, not the platform) is enlisted in order to suppress these things. Is it then impossible to organize because we no longer have the sort of institutions/level of local organization that would have previously been responsible? Can we make the internet work like it’s intended to (decentralized) again? Time will tell, I guess.

    1. fresno dan

      March 30, 2018 at 4:08 pm

      Yesterday’s NC
      Killed for brandishing a shoehorn. John Wrana, a 95-year-old World War II veteran, lived in an assisted living center, used a walker to get around, and was shot and killed by police who mistook the shoehorn in his hand for a 2-foot-long machete and fired multiple beanbag rounds from a shotgun at close range.
      I looked it up – officer was acquitted because he “feared for his life”
      Kinda thinking these guys will be acquitted because they also “feared for their lives”
      Uh….um, maybe its just me, but if the police are terrified of 95 year olds with shoe horns and people with cell phones, where in the world do we get the idea that the police have the stones to run into a building to confront someone with an AR-15???

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I imagine they would fear also to check if you have illegal guns.

        Too scared to enforce gun ban?

      2. The Rev Kev

        We already had an example of what happens when police/sheriffs are confronted with a school shooter and are armed. Some of them hunker down and stay put rather than go in and confront someone with an AR-15. Probably because they “feared for their lives”.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It’s as if the message is ‘We fear for our lives. You’re on your own.’

          On your own, like how? Get a gun?

    2. tongorad

      I’m not much of a Michael Moore fan, but I think Bowling For Columbine was a singular triumph for trying to connect the dots between our war machine and our propensity for mega-violence.
      There’s more to these shootings than racism or bad cops.

  6. Summer

    FB Memo:
    “We connect people.”

    Yeah, but just not only to people that people want to be connected with.

    1. Huey Long

      I’ve actually been on Facebook a ton lately; my labor union has an active group there and I’ve been posting a ton of links from Links & Watercooler.

      The #countmein movement in NYC also uses Facebook to communicate with each other and organize rallies.

      That’s all I use it for these days. Arguing about memes, cat videos, and the newsfeed are part of my Faceborg past.

      1. Harold

        I wonder if the powers that be don’t like this aspect of social media. What happens to the “thought leaders” and “gate keepers” when people can contact each other directly?

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      We’re probably not democratic enough to set up an open source networking for us citizens.

      I guess.

  7. Peter VE

    Congress may have the authority over war, but as long as 10 Democrats vote to table the Senate resolution introduced by Sanders, they won’t use it.
    I wrote both of my Senators (Reed & Whitehouse) after they voted to table the resolution. Their staff is usually pretty quick to respond to letters, since RI is a small state and they don’t have to deal with thousands of responses. This time…. crickets.
    It’s not unusual to run into either one at public events, especially Whitehouse since he’s running this year. I hope to have the opportunity to ask why I should vote for a Democrat if he does no more than a garden variety Republican.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From above and so peculiar I quote it here hoping for clarification:

      If Congress supports U.S. participation in the war in Yemen, let them have the courage to vote for it. If they support an expanded role for U.S. troops in Syria or anywhere else, let them vote for it.

      The problem in Yemen is US participation.

      The problem in Syria is for an expanded role. But not a problem is it is not expanded?

      Is that why we want to end involvement in the former, but nothing about the latter?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think Sanders’ point is that we are said to live in a democratic system. If the voters vote for war, then presumably that’s an answer* to the question of whether we should go to war or not. And I think Sanders is betting that voters would not vote for either Syria or Yemen, which is why those two (of our many) wars are his point of attack.

        * OK, propaganda, as with the current Russia war scare. These are wicked problems.

        1. johnnygl

          Also, let’s not underestimate the value of getting congress-critters on record. Many politicians are quite happy to stay silent on the issue. I’d love to see who our allies really are on the anti-war front.

          And i’d love to know who needs to be targeted for collaborating with saudi monarchs.

          Since sanders intends to govern in 2021, assuming all goes well, perhaps he’d like to know who his friends and enemies are, too??!!?

    1. jrs

      And aren’t middle age women exactly the demographic that who would have school age kids? So the charge even if true is: mothers are worried about their children being shot. Only in a misogynistic country would this be seen as a bad thing.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I think the issue is the question of fact: What’s the composition of the marchers.

        Frankly, if it’s just another incarnation of the demographic described in “My 72-Hour Safari in Clinton Country,” I’m a lot less impressed by the numbers than I would be if it attendance were dominated by kids.

        As for Pool, if he doesn’t make stuff up, I’m not all that concerned with his affiliation (and I file “alt-right,” a la Brietbart et all, under the category of “make stuff up,” which is why I don’t like to them, along with CAP, etc.)

  8. Big River Bandido

    “Facial recognition technology can now text jaywalkers a fine” [New York Post].

    I clicked on this story, fully expecting it to be in reference to those “LinkNYC” eyesores New York City has installed every few blocks on main streets, under the guise of being wi-fi hubs.

    Who in their right mind thought it would be a good idea to install giant teevees at the side of the streets? Did they think that drivers needed to be able to watch them instead of the road?

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “Facial recognition technology can now text jaywalkers a fine” [New York Post]. Not if I’m wearing my Richard Nixon mask and carrying a dumb phone. What a time to be alive!

    To stay alive, don’t forget to watch out for traffic in both directions (even if it’s a one way street…you never know).

  10. Big River Bandido

    “How the Bernie Wing Won the Democratic Primaries” [Politico].

    Slipshod and ignorant, indeed. I would love it if this article turns out to be true, but it gives the reader only a storyline with absolutely no evidence or substance in support. Its entire methodology is suspect.

    A challenger is determined to be “progressive” by a candidate’s self-identification, which is an absolutely meaningless metric. To most mainstream Democrats, the word “progressive” is nothing but a branding exercise. Fully half of the Congressional “Progressive” Caucus voted for austerity in 2011 (the bill colloquially known as the [family blog] sandwich), and the party’s spectacular failure in 2016 was headed by a neoliberal candidate who actually tried to pass herself off as “a progressive with results” while opposing a $15/hour minimum wage.

    Further, Politico based its “research” on a similarly shallow article produced by two fellows at the Brookings Institution’s “Primaries Project”. And even those writers admit that the primaries won’t be completed until September, that only two states have had primaries yet, and that those two states just happen to be the two most notoriously corrupt Democrat Party organizations in the country.

    Which leaves us with a whole lotta nothing — just a bunch of dull writers trying to crank out their copy by the deadline. It almost makes me wonder if Politico hopes to put Berniecrats to sleep.

  11. perpetualWAR

    Can I say that I am watching the Conservatives go after the high school gun control kids with such vitriol that I am getting sick to my stomach.

    And these disgusting older conservatives with guns are out to destroy them. Disgusting.

    1. Huey Long

      Shoot, the conservatives been tarring and feathering labor for years. Check the comments section of any article dealing with labor on any MSM news outlet’so website and read the hate and vitriol spewed our way.

      I’m not surprised at all to see these truly pathetic people punching down on a bunch of kids.

      Makes me sick!

      1. DJG

        Huey Long: Indeed. Much of American history turns out to be about solving the servant problem and de-valuing labor: Slavery? “Minimum” wage? Workplace authoritarianism? At-will employment?

        And there is almost no coverage in the press of something that most of us do every day: Go to work.

  12. Steely Glint

    Why on earth am I seeing a podcast from Tim Pool? I listened to two children from Parkland describe the wonderful support they have received from their community after seeing the faces of their friends blown off and having to step over their dead bodies just to get out of the school. I doubt very much that the majority of Americans have ever had to experience that trauma. The students were also dismayed that the national debate has now taken the turn to “legalize” of the second amendment, instead of the sheer trauma of seeing someone blown apart by an AR-15. After seeing the crowds at the March for Our Lives, I was astounded at the magnitude of what it takes just to get a certain, killing, commodity off the market, just because of campaign $$$ from the NRA. I would so like this terrible event to be taken up to a larger protest against money in politics, but I WILL respect the students, and those who marched to show their respect & empathy.
    This from Tim Pool, indeed:
    The boycott by @davidhogg111 against @IngrahamAngle is not about the gun debate.
    Hogg has launched a campaign against Ingraham because he was personally insulted.
    Hogg is directing his 660,000 followers to brigade her advertisers over an insult.

    As if Hogg is more of a public figure than Ingraham with 2.17 Million followers on Twitter. Give me a break

    1. marym

      I didn’t listen to the Tim Poole video. From comments on twitter and youtube, it sounds as if he may be saying (or commenters are interpreting him as saying) that the presence of other demographics at the march is somehow invalidating something (the MSM interpretation of the march maybe?).

      Here are links to the referenced WaPo article, and a Vox interview with Dana R. Fisher, the sociologist who gathered the information. She’s been doing this for a number of protests. She has a twitter account and a Wikipedia entry for starters, if anyone cares to look into her process, viewpoint, credentials, etc.

      On methodology (as used at previous protests)

      By snaking through the crowd and sampling every fifth person at designated increments within the staging area, we are able to gather a field approximation of a random sample. So far, the data set includes surveys collected from 1,745 protest participants.

      During the March for Our Lives, my team sampled 256 people who were randomly selected. [WaPo]

      Fisher noted a few caveats: A lot of teens were concentrated in a single area near the stage, and the survey ended at 1 pm, potentially undercounting the number of teens and kids by a small amount. Many of the children also may have attended the event with parents, slightly inflating the true level of adult interest. [Vox]

      She seems to draw positive conclusions – not that it was really an adult event wrongly portrayed as a youth movement; but more that young people inspired a broader demographic movement, and one that drew people concerned with multiple issues.

      …Thus, in some respects the March for Our Lives mobilized a broader group, including many new protesters and more moderates, than some previous marches. [WaPo]

      Still, the results are surprising. The media describes the new anti-gun energy as a youth movement. But it’s really a youth-led movement that’s captivated a more general audience. [Vox]

      As with the Women’s March, IMO it’s important to distinguish between what happens in DC, events in other big cities (where local activists have an impact on turnout and focus), and the hundreds of events (>800 for March for Our Lives) outside the big cities.

      Here’s a twitter thread, and many further replies to the thread, of other March for Our Lives events.

      There’s a danger of co-opting by Democrats/#Resistance(TM), but there’s also a danger in attributing all action to that, and overlooking the real concerns people have and their expression of those concerns in a way that has at least the potential for generating a broader and deeper solidarity.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > There’s a danger of co-opting by Democrats/#Resistance(TM), but there’s also a danger in attributing all action to that, and overlooking the real concerns people have and their expression of those concerns in a way that has at least the potential for generating a broader and deeper solidarity.

        Yes, that’s my concern. When we look at how efficiently liberal Democrats decapitated and co-opted Black Lives Matter — one thing they’re really good at — we need to be concerned what they’ll do with this “youth movement.” That, to me, implies being careful to look at what the base of the movement is, and that to me implies (given the march tactics) looking at how many actual youth they can put on the streets. Hence a study of the crowd is welcome.

        I agree that there’s a big disconnect between the national and the local, and I’d argue that the decapitation/co-optation takes place at the national level (in the political class and the press). However, even if you have local action and then national reaction (in the sense of being reactionary), the effect is to render it impossible for the local efforts to connect with each other, rendering them powerless. That keeps “broader and deeper solidarity” at the level of feelings, when the goal is to give solidarity power.

        NOTE Adding, from my armchair at 30,000 feet, that it’s really unfortunate that a march replaced a strike, which is how the action was originally framed (at least as I heard of it). I think shutting down school systems would have sent a more powerful message…

        1. marym

          We need a certain level of solidarity built before a strike, for strike support. The WVa teachers working with day care centers and food banks to provide meals for kids dependent on school lunches was a good example. For students there would need to be some level of parental support. Legal aid, strike funds, boycotts to support a worker strike, etc. for other kinds of strike – students, teachers, other workers, student loan debtors, etc.

          If we expect the young people to carry a big part of the load, then older people showing that they have their backs would be an important step.

  13. Wukchumni

    ‘The LiDAR should have seen the [Tempe] pedestrian at quite some distance,’ Raj Rajkumar, who leads autonomous vehicle research at Carnegie Mellon University, wrote in an email. ‘All in all, this indicates pretty serious technical issues at the core of the Uber system.’”

    I’ve never seen a wrongful death settlement reached so quickly by the corp’se, that says a lot right there.

  14. kareninca

    A guy I volunteer with, who is about 60 y.o., has been covered by Covered California for years. He thinks the care is pretty good, although admittedly he has never had any real health problems. But – he is very afraid of ever not doing exactly what he is told to do by one of their doctors. Since then he feels he would be labeled an noncompliant patient and booted out of the program – and he has absolutely no other options other than the rapidly dwindling local free clinics (which aren’t good for something like cancer or the Parkinson’s that runs in his family). I don’t know how realistic his fear is – he is well-educated and not mentally ill – but he certainly has that fear.

  15. Michael Fiorillo

    Interesting about Cassina, or Black Drink, which I’d never heard of.

    The closest South American analogue might be yerba mate, the drink of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Southern Brazil.

    Yerba mate is also part of the holly family (Ilex Paraguensis) and is also roasted before consumption (but otherwise prepared far differently from Black Drink), and was an important part of native Guarani culture for centuries before the arrival of Europeans.

    I replaced my coffee fix with yerba mate a few years ago (the real thing, sold in bulk in supermarkets, not the ridiculously overpriced stuff sold in health food stores) and, as much as I loved and needed coffee, it’s an improvement. While I won’t try to convince you it tastes better than coffee, it gives you a calm, even, clear-headed, non-jittery caffeine buzz, with none of coffee’s grating-on-the-system side effects.

    It also has theobromine, an active ingredient in dark chocolate, so it has a very mild euphoric effect, as well.

    It doesn’t keep you awake if consumed in the evening, stronger and higher in caffeine than green tea, and with higher in anti-oxidents and nutrients, especially calcium.

    Really great stuff once you develop a taste for it (which most people have to do, since it tastes of grass, wood, leather and tobacco) and prepare it correctly.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is the name descriptive, ‘Ilex vomitoria. Ilex is the genus commonly known as holly. Vomitoria roughly translates to ‘makes you vomit?’

      Was it due to the British East India Company or was it the product itself?

      I can’t imagine it would be easy to market. The way to know is, I suppose, to try it.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “My 72-Hour Safari in Clinton Country”

    I took my time reading this piece as it was quite good. There is one thought that is nagging at me and that is what happens in these places if they hit the same kind of economic conditions as the rest of the country. If I was there if that happened I would be very, very afraid. I think that they would lose it totally and turn on each other. There were hints already in that story of what happens when you don’t fit the right profile. It would be scary regions to try and live in if bad times hit.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I think that they would lose it totally and turn on each other.

      If a complete inability to self-reflect and accept accountability for a political loss is any indication, yes.

  17. pretzelattack

    can anybody recommend some good sources on how clinton (if she was) was instrumental in selling or faciilitating the sale of uranium to ukraine? tia.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s been a long time and I can’t do more than cursory research (and of course there’s an enormous amount of tendentious material from the usual suspects). I skimmed a bunch of stuff, including Snopes, and this looks like the best summary:


      As usual, everybody gives millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation out of the sheer goodness of their hearts….

    2. The Rev Kev

      You were asking about uranium, Clinton and the Ukraine. As you are no doubt aware, there is a ton of stuff about Clinton, uranium and Russia but not the Ukraine. However, there is one data point that I should mention if you are still asking about the Ukraine.
      About two years ago, when Clinton was still Secretary of State, Australia quietly announced that it was going to be shipping uranium to the Ukraine. A country in the middle of a civil war. That has actual neo-Nazis as part of its government. That has said that they should once again have a nuclear arsenal like they did when part of the USSR. That Ukraine.
      This was so bizarre when compared to Australia’s history of uranium exports that it stood out like a neon light. And I had to learn that it was happening not from Australian media but RT. So, veering into tinfoil-hat territory here, could it be that either the US and/or Clinton pressured Australia to OK shipments of uranium to the Ukraine? Something to think about.

  18. Oregoncharles

    Caffeine source: ” cassina the scientific name it bears to this day: Ilex vomitoria. Ilex is the genus commonly known as holly. Vomitoria roughly translates to ‘makes you vomit.’ ” Common name: yaupon. Often used as an ornamental, but not very available here. It probably tastes a lot like Yerba Matte, a S. American holly. It lacks spines on the leaves; I think I was looking at it today, but have no way to be sure.

    The explanation I’ve seen for the common name was that “black drink” was a mixture, and something else in it caused vomiting. However, tea will make me vomit if I drink it on an empty stomach, a mistake I’ve made several times, so it’s possible it was a matter of strength and the way it was used. I’d never seen the propagandistic explanation of the name before, but it makes sense.

    Has anyone out there tried it? I never have. Matte is readily available – and potent, much stronger than Camellia sinensis. Makes my heart race.

    1. Oregoncharles

      It wasn’t easy, but I found a zone rating for it: 7b through 9. Otherwise very versatile and easy to grow.

  19. Dr. Robert

    *wraps self in tinfoil* Suppose executives at Uber figured a deadly accident was inevitable, and in order to secure a favorable judicial precedent, they picked a jurisdiction they liked and had one of their cars kill a pedestrian there. *rips open tinfoil and steps out* Might be a fun plot for a black mirror episode or something.

  20. meeps

    Thanks for embedding ending the Empire to contrast with Bernie’s bit in the FP. It raises more questions than it answers, but a well-articulated alternative policy is a necessary prerequisite to the cessation of ad infinitum war.

    The destructive habits which characterize US foreign and domestic policy are so entwined with US institutions that it won’t be enough to simply elect ‘better people’ to office (although gaining that capacity would be a welcome breakthrough) because the best of intentions will be ground- up in the gears. Bernie is a decent person and, by US standards (admittedly abysmal) he’s a fine politician. Still, he asks only for congress to legitimize one of its current wars. If the US citizenry elected him president, and elected more in his mold to office, what total program must be insisted for this wretched machine to start generating something other than rubble?

    At a minimum, congress should put the ‘defense industry’ on notice (and please define whom/what is being defended and how) that it will no longer receive gargantuan budgets with zero accounting. Expenditures should be earmarked for purposes A, B and C; no more money for X, Y and Z, with oversight, regular evaluation and revision. Retool manufacturing to defend quality of life at home and abroad. Implement serious campaign finance reform, including the demise of Citizens’ United, so politicians are no longer beholden to the death lobbies for their livelihood. And so forth…

    Bernie’s domestic policy proposals are good but incomplete without a complementary foreign policy vision. I do think people the world over are ready. I know I am.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Still, he asks only for congress to legitimize one of its current wars.

      I think putting at least one war under Constitutional control is the prerequisite for doing anything else; Sanders has selected an appropriate opening wedge. I think voters are ready for an “end the wars” platform too. But you’ve got to start somewhere.

    1. Anonymized

      I figured it out. The way to keep something from reverting back to capitalism once you turn something else into its post-capitalist equivalent is to first reveal the external connections between the two by right-clicking then dragging and dropping one on the other, followed by clicking repeatedly on the new icon produced. That’s a pretty meta way to show the breaking of capitalist connections.

  21. Loblolly

    That would allow the expansion that began in 2009 to become America’s longest ever.

    I hope a Chinese space station falls on your head for uttering nonsense like this. 2008 to 2016 were economic warfare against middle america utilizing financial and policy tools that seemed designed to screw them over.

    America was looted. There was no growth, only transfer seeking, middleman skimming and the stuffing of offshore accounts.

    Are you complicit or can you not see this at all?

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