2:00PM Water Cooler 3/6/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The price tag on new infrastructure projects is rising and could go still higher just as the U.S. is preparing to build more highways and bridges. President Donald Trump’s move to impose tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports could end up undermining the president’s agenda to rebuild American infrastructure” [Wall Street Journal]. “An improved global economic outlook has already raised demand, and prices, for building materials. One index of prices for a broad set of construction materials rose at its fastest pace in seven years in November, and was up 4.9% in January. Economists don’t expect proposed tariffs to have a big impact on the broader U.S. economy, but the construction business is a big consumer of steel and aluminum. Experts say new curbs on imports and rising domestic materials costs mean $1.5 trillion won’t buy as much as infrastructure as it used to.”



Now that the special elections are more or less past, I’ve changed this heading from “2018” to midterms.

“Dems Should Worry About Long-Term Direction, Not 2018 Message” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Midterm elections are never about a party that has no power. They never have and never will be about a party that doesn’t have the White House, majorities in the House or Senate, or for that matter, control of governorships or state legislative chambers. No offense, Democrats, but everything is not about you.” Ouch! More: “At a dinner the other night with former political directors of one of the Democratic campaign committees, none of us had a clue who would win their party’s presidential nomination, or even what frame of mind Democratic voters would be in as they make the choice.” Or, as they say in Hollywood, nobody knows anything. Cook concludes: “My hunch is that a November 2020 electorate might prefer a steady hand at the till….” Er… “You’re gonna have to learn your cliches.” It’s hand at the tiller, a horizontal bar fitted to the head of a boat’s rudder post and used as a lever for steering, not hand at the till, a cash register or drawer for money in a store, bank, or restaurant. Dr. Freud, courtesy phone!

“If there is a partisan shift in the suburbs in November, a couple of dozen House Republican seats should be among the first to feel the movement” [Inside Elections]. “Of course, all suburbs are not alike. In some places, closer-in suburbs tend to be older and more moderate, while suburban areas farther out tend to be newer and more conservative. Strongly conservative suburbs are less likely to be strongly anti-Trump, but even in those areas a shift to the Democrats could have a significant impact.”

“Donald Trump’s Short Congressional Coattails” [Larry Sabato]. “The only time Trump has had a chance to exhibit his coattail pull came on Nov. 8, 2016, when he was elected with a solid 304 electoral votes but only 46.1% of the popular vote — 2.1 percentage points behind Democrat Hillary Clinton. Of the 241 Republican House candidates elected at the same time, Trump outran just 24 of them — or put another way, one out of 10. It was the smallest demonstration of coattail pull by a presidential winner since 1992, when Bill Clinton’s 43% of the vote in a three-way race with President George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot enabled him to run ahead of just five House Democrats.”

TX: “How Much Can Primaries Predict the General Election?” [Nate Cohn, New York Times]. “A strong Democratic showing in a partisan primary in Texas would indicate that Republicans can’t count on vestigial partisan strength to insulate them from Mr. Trump’s distinct weakness among college-educated voters. Alone, a Democratic primary ballot victory won’t make the Democrats favorites in any of Texas’ Republican-held congressional districts, let alone statewide. But it would suggest that Republicans should not be optimistic about their chances to survive a wave election in Texas, and in well-educated, traditionally Republican suburbs elsewhere across the country.”

TX: “What to look for in tonight’s Texas primary” [CNN]. Wrap-up with names and districts with nothing else. Texas politics can be colorful…

PA-18: “A new poll from Emerson College shows Democrat Conor Lamb with 48% support and Republican Rick Saccone with 45%” [Politics PA].

PA-18: “The Lamb Surge: Democrat Looking Strong in Trump-Country Special Election” [New York Magazine]. “No, the outcome won’t have any literal impact on the balance of power in the House come 2019: The 18th is about to be reconfigured as part of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s remapping of the state’s House districts to reverse GOP partisan gerrymandering, and will probably be significantly less Republican than it appeared to be in 2016. But if Republicans can’t win this sort of district, the list of competitive contests for November may need to be expanded significantly.”

New Cold War

“In response to recent reports about the integrity of Reddit, I’d like to share our thinking.” [Reddit]. “When it comes to Russian influence on Reddit, there are three broad areas to discuss: ads, direct propaganda from Russians, indirect propaganda promoted by our users.” Oh. “Indirect propaganda.” Seems a rather… capacious concept. But useful for that very reason!

“The New Blacklist” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. “This Russians-are-in-our-precious-bodily-fluids insanity has progressed to the point where an anti-Russian documentary won the Oscar and host Jimmy Kimmel proudly declared, “At least we know Putin isn’t rigging this competition!” If you don’t think that the endgame to all of this lunacy is a world where every America-critical movement from Black Lives Matter to Our Revolution to the Green Party is ultimately swept up in the collusion narrative along with Donald Trump and his alt-right minions, you haven’t been paying attention.”

“It’s offensive to disrespect Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She’s 84, female and essential.” [Melinda Henneberger, USA Today]. “Before the 2016 election, Feinstein alerted the country to the danger of Russian interference (we didn’t listen, but she did tell us).” Henneberger is a member of USA Today’s Board of Contributors.

“Jailed Russian ‘sex coaches’ offer to trade election info for US asylum” [CNN]. Anything’s possible, but the last place I’d go for a straight story about anything would be the Pattaya, Thailand, and that very much includes any “Russian sex coaches” doing business there. I mean, yikes.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Stop Doing the Banks’ Bidding” [US News (!)]. “AT A TIME WHEN Democrats at the grassroots level are more fired up and ready to go then they’ve been in years – spoiling for a fight with President Donald Trump and his cronies in the GOP – a group of Senate Democrats is joining with Republicans to, if you’ll believe it, deregulate banks…. Democrats supporting this thing are making the case that it’s for the benefit of small, community banks, which are politically sympathetic and generally not the cause of global financial panics. Don’t buy it. While there are some bits of the bill that would reduce reporting requirements for small banks, it also includes big benefits for large financial institutions.”


Mar-a-lago as opposed to the Hamptons or the Vineyard, I suppose. I mean, come on.

“[There is] an increasingly important mutual aid pact among U.S. states and territories that is changing the way governments plan for major disasters. The Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) allows states to reach out to each other — instead of to the federal government — to get the resources they need. So when Puerto Rico needed police officers, it could see a list of all the states able to deliver them, how quickly they could get to the island and how much they would cost. Puerto Rico chose Massachusetts” [Governing].

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, January 2018: “Today’s factory orders report, down 1.4 percent at the headline level but showing life underneath, closes the book on what was a mixed to soft month of January for manufacturing” [Econoday]. “The split between the report’s two main components shows a 0.8 percent rise for nondurable goods — the new data in today’s report where strength is tied to petroleum and coal — and a 3.6 percent drop for durable orders which is 1 tenth less weak than last week’s advance report for this component…. This report is a reminder that not all the data on the factory sector are strong and underscores the second straight no change reading in the manufacturing component of the previously released industrial production report for January.” And but: “According to the seasonally adjusted data, it was aircraft which accounted for much of the decline. The data in this series is noisy so I would rely on the unadjusted 3 month rolling averages which improved” [Econintersect].

Capital Spending: “Research by Industrial Reports, Inc. shows combined U.S. and Canadian planned capital spending improved 27 percent in February compared to January. February spending for the two nations totaled $50.65 billion compared to January’s $39.76 billion. The research organization reported 252 planned U.S. and Canadian projects in February” [Industrial Reports]. Planned U.S. project spending increased by 35 percent in February with $42.44 billion in planned investment compared to the January total of $31.29 billion. Canadian planned investment dipped to $8.21 billion in February compared to $8.47 billion in January. Projects in both nations ranged in value from $500,000 to $6 billion….. Process projects led U.S. spending with $26.50 billion in planned investment, followed by manufacturing projects with $6.58 billion. Power and energy projects reported $6.43 billion in planned U.S. spending…. Texas was also the leader in U.S. project activity with 16 planned projects. New York reported 11 planned projects and Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina each had 10.”

Energy: “The world’s oil supply chains increasingly will run through the U.S. The International Energy Agency says the country will overtake Russia to become the world’s largest oil producer by 2023…, in a stark sign of how a U.S. oil and gas boom is overhauling global energy markets” [Wall Street Journal]. “The industry monitor says the growth in the U.S., which is expected to produce a record of 12.1 million barrels a day in five years, is part of a broader movement away from OPEC countries. The pace is getting the U.S. closer to producing enough crude to meet domestic demand, and it’s bringing greater influence in global markets. U.S. oil exports are forecast to more than double by 2023, putting more pressure to expand exporting capacity, including port terminals and shipping.”

Commodities: “Manganese’s novel chemical state could create more efficient batteries” [Mining.com]. “According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, this new state enables a high-performance, low-cost sodium-ion battery that could quickly and efficiently store and distribute energy produced by solar panels and wind turbines across the electrical grid.”

Apparel: “‘Sewbots’: the hi-tech revolution with designs on fashion logistics” [The Loadstar]. “The retail supply chain could be “crushed” by new technology that would allow consumers to buy personalised apparel, locally made. While there has been much scepticism over 3D-printing and robotics in the logistics market, now that applications for the technologies are being found, the future is becoming easier to predict. And it involves shorter, cheaper supply chains for fashion logistics. Nike, famously, has already been using 3D printing for customised sport shoes. But perhaps most critically for the fast fashion industry, ‘Sewbots’ – something of a mixture of AI, robotics and 3D printing – could be a true game changer. According to Transport Intelligence’s latest report, Global E-commerce Logistics 2018, Chinese contract manufacturer Tianyuan Garments Company is building a plant in Little Rock, Arkansas, US, manned by sewbots. ‘These are robots that can manufacture clothing; in this case t-shirts for German company Adidas, incredibly fast,’ notes the report.” Lot of ironies in this story. The effect, if it scales up, will be to blight a lot of Southeast Asia. Working in a clothing factory and sending money back to the village isn’t the best existence, but it’s better than being in debt back on the farm.

Retail: “The Nordstrom family wants to take Nordstrom Inc. (NYSE: JWN) private for $50 a share, a very modest amount compared to where the company’s shares trade. This is after the family members who run the company have taken huge bonuses for years and dragged the retailer’s prospects down. An independent committee of the board of directors rejected the offer” [247 Wall Street].

Retail: “The stakes in store-pickup are big: one-third of Zara’s global online sales are picked up in stores—an increasingly popular fulfillment strategy for retailers. Under Zara’s automation plan, online customers will scan or enter a barcode at a store, triggering a behind-the-scenes robot to search for the package in a small warehouse, and deliver it quickly to a drop box” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Mergers and acquisitions activities for ocean cargo carriers are likely to slow down in 2018, say industry analyts, as trend is likely to “pivot” to freight forwarders” [Logistics Management]. “According to SeaIntelligence Consulting’s CEO, Lars Jensen, the limited number of supercarriers left make any further major consolidation efforts unlikely. ‘We’re now down to only seven supercarriers,’ he says. ‘I don’t think anything is going to happen up there anymore. There might be some that want to merge, but I’m not sure that the competition authorities are going to allow it,’ he adds.” Seven seems like rather a lot. Why not three? Or two?

Shipping: “Latest data from Alphaliner puts the idle fleet capacity at just 89 vessels in hot or cold lay-up, with just 10 containerships demolished so far this year against about 50 that had been scrapped by the same time in 2017” [The Loadstar].

Shipping: “Skinning the tight-capacity cat” [DC Velocity]. “The numbers and anecdotes tell the story. Truckload and logistics giant Werner Enterprises Inc. ran on some days in January at 145 percent of capacity. Celadon Group Inc., another large truckload carrier, had days when it was turning away 800 to 1,200 loads. Non-contract, or “spot,” rates for refrigerated truck capacity were quoted as high as $10.38 a mile in January. … The leverage of asset players in today’s ultra-tight-capacity environment may have been best summed up by a trucking executive who said, ‘Our negotiating strategy is indifference.'”

Shipping: “The production pace is picking up at heavy-duty truck assembly plants. North American fleet owners ordered 40,200 Class-8 trucks last month…, extending a rebound for manufacturers that has fleet operators racing to get slots on production lines. Analysts FTR boosted their forecast for truck production this year to 330,000 vehicles” [Wall Street Journal]. “The orders mark a big turnaround for a truck-making industry that was laying off workers less than two years ago but is now scaling up for what could be its biggest production year in more than a decade.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “What Are Indicators Saying about a Potential Recession?” [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “Forecasting recessions is notoriously difficult. Even so, knowing that a recession may be imminent enables consumers and businesses to make better strategic decisions.” Nevertheless:

What do these indicators say about a recession occurring in the near future? Most suggest that one is not imminent. For instance:

  1. The slope of the yield curve is positive.
  2. The most recent release of residential investment is consistent with its average since the end of the previous recession.
  3. The Index of Consumer Expectations remains at a relatively elevated level.

Barring so-called accidents like (say) the failure of Amtrak’s tunnel under the Hudson

Five Horsemen: “Juggernaut Amazon motors on blissfully into the empyrean as the Silicon Valley sisters huddle together for warmth” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Mar 6 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index rose to 33 on improvement in five of its seven component series” [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 5 2018

Police State Watch

“Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie And Brutally Beat People — And Still Keep Their Jobs” [Buzzfeed]. “Secret files obtained by BuzzFeed News reveal that from 2011 to 2015 at least 319 New York Police Department employees who committed offenses serious enough to merit firing were allowed to keep their jobs. Many of the officers lied, cheated, stole, or assaulted New York City residents. At least fifty employees lied on official reports, under oath, or during an internal affairs investigation. Thirty-eight were found guilty by a police tribunal of excessive force, getting into a fight, or firing their gun unnecessarily. Fifty-seven were guilty of driving under the influence. Seventy-one were guilty of ticket-fixing. One officer, Jarrett Dill, threatened to kill someone. Another, Roberson Tunis, sexually harassed and inappropriately touched a fellow officer. Some were guilty of lesser offenses, like mouthing off to a supervisor…. In every instance, the police commissioner, who has final authority in disciplinary decisions, assigned these officers to “dismissal probation,” a penalty with few practical consequences. The officer continues to do their job at their usual salary.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Yes, there’s a crisis of trust in journalism. But it’s inside newsrooms, too” [Columbia Journalism Review]. “[T]he undercurrent of much of the turmoil is jobs. It’s safe to say that job insecurity is the major cause of distrust between newsroom staffers and media executives. While newspaper ranks have been shrinking for years, a rising set of digital competitors promised to take up the slack. Instead, media companies saw digital media as an excuse to keep costs low, which ushered in a gig economy of permalancing and low-paid piece work in journalism. Now even the full-time digital media jobs are getting cut in industry-wide layoffs. The prospect of arbitrary firings and paltry severance encouraged digital newsrooms including Gawker to start unionizing in 2015.” And then of course there are the squillionaires with bright ideas: “he intensifying economic pressures on the media industry have caused executives to ping-pong among bright, new ideas—Branded content! Pivot to video! Newsletters!—with hopes that the latest strategy will be the messianic answer to the media industry’s ills. (Spoiler: none of them are, nor can be.) The head-swirling shifts in strategy—paired, usually, with restructuring and layoffs—have created deep rifts between reporters and newspaper management, a mutual wariness that’s appearing across the industry as unprecedented mistrust.” The sooner reporters become working stiffs with job security as opposed to Listen, Liberal!-stule professionals, the better, IMNSHO.


“Money, Power, and Monetary Regimes” (PDF) [Pavlina Tcherneva, Levy Institute]. Immediately preceding the heading “ON MONEY AND POWER”:

This paper presents a historically grounded analysis of the origins of money to illustrate that money predates markets. Not only is it not a “creature of the market,” but a strong case can be made that money is instead a “creature of the state,” however broadly defined. This proposition stands at the heart of the Chartalist (or Modern Money) approach to money. This paper extends an earlier analysis of Chartalism (Tcherneva 2006) and defines money as a power relationship of a specific kind, namely a social credit-debt relationship, that is codified by some authority or institution of power—be it an ancient religious authority, tribal chief, or an early administrative body, such as a Mesopotamian palace or a Greek polis, and later a monarchy, colonial power, or a modern nation state. Far from being a simple medium of benign exchange, the history of money as a creature of the state indicates that it is instead a means of distribution, a tool of transferring real resources from one party to another, subject to the power relationship of the specific historical context.

“Bernie’s Economist Explains Why We Can Actually Have Nice Things”

Kudos to Bernie for giving Stephanie Kelton a platform. Now only if he would escape the austerity trap by endorsing her ideas…

Class Warfare

“Philando Castile charity wipes out kids’ lunch debt in district where he worked” [CNN]. Why the heck is “school lunch debt” even a thing? Are we training them up to be debt slaves early, or what?

“The Economic Colonization of Rural America” [Daily Yonder]. This is a must read:

Economic colonization is a term typically used in reference to neoliberal economic development in nations previously colonized politically. Rather than being colonized by national governments, most economic colonization today is carried out by multinational corporations, which is the case in rural America. Much like colonial empires of the past, transnational corporations have been extending their economic power to dominate people in rural places all around the globe. Rural people are losing their sovereignty, as corporations use their economic power over local economies to gain control of local governments. Irreplaceable precious rural resources, including rural people and cultures, are being exploited – not to benefit rural people but to increase the wealth of corporate investors. These corporations are purely economic entities with no capacity for caring or commitment to the future of rural communities. Their only interest is in extracting the economic wealth from rural areas. This is classic economic colonialism.

The business of America has been largely and without apology the plundering of rural America, from which everything of value—minerals, timber, farm animals, farm crops, and “labor”—has been taken at the lowest possible price. As apparently none of the enlightened ones has seen in flying over or bypassing on the interstate highways, its too-large fields are toxic and eroding, its streams and rivers poisoned, its forests mangled, its towns dying or dead along with their locally owned small businesses, its children leaving after high school and not coming back. Too many of the children are not working at anything, too many are transfixed by the various screens, too many are on drugs, too many are dying.”

“Are Intersectionalism Or Afro-Pessimism Paths To Power? Probably Not. Part 3 of 3” [Bruce Dixon, Black Agenda Report (Judith)]. Dixon lucid as always:

“While patriarchy, white supremacy and the other concerns of honest left intersectionalists are vitally important, context is everything. In the real world men wield actual power over women, white Americans enjoy privileges inherited from the settler-colonial heritage of the US, and cis het people often viciously oppress even the queers in their own families. But more than half of white women voters cast their ballots for Trump. There are tens of millions of unemployed and underemployed white people whose “privilege” is pretty much confined to the insides of their heads. We just had eight years of a black president, who surrounded himself at the Democratic convention with almost two dozen black generals and admirals. Black mayors in scores of US cities are gentrifying and privatizing and administering austerity more effectively than any white mayrs could. And Condoleezza Rice has always been black, queer and a woman – for a time, with a Chevron oil tanker named after her. The most reliable marker we have for delineating who has power, and over whom this power is enforced has for generations been economic class – a class analysis.”

Follow the money.

News of The Wired

“Surprise graphene discovery could unlock secrets of superconductivity” [Nature]. “A sandwich of two graphene layers can conduct electrons without resistance if they are twisted at a ‘magic angle’, physicists have discovered. The finding could prove to be a significant step in the decades-long search for room-temperature superconductors…. ‘We can expect a frenzy of experimental activity over the next few months to fill in the missing parts of the picture,’ says Robert Laughlin, a physicist and Nobel laureate at Stanford University in California.”

“The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters” [Brain Pickings]. Do them a favor!

“Why I’m not on board with quiet carriages” [The Spectator]. “The quiet carriage, when you think of it, is akin to the idea of a safe space. Just as in a quiet carriage the rules are set by the single most neurotic person on the train, in a ‘safe space’, the terms of acceptable discourse are set by the thinnest-skinned 0.01 per cent of the population. And like the quiet carriage, this simply does not work.” It works fine. Now, get off your cellphone before I call the conductor.

“THIS IS SERIOUS, and a Proposal” [Power of Narrative]. Silber is one of the old-school bloggers, still in there punching, and always worth a read.

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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 (Carla):

Lovely aconite, but do readers hate so-called bark mulch as much as I do?

Readers, thanks for all the photos! I think I’m all set for now (though do feel free to send more, especially if you’ve never sent in a plant photo before).

* * *

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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. WheresOurTeddy

    “It’s offensive to disrespect Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She’s 84, female and essential.”

    And hates the first Amendment, loves war, and is in the .001%.

    Doesn’t sound very essential to anything worth preserving.

    DE LEON ’18

    1. L

      I like how running against what she has done is now “disrespect” almost as if calling out support for the war in Syria was a sign of being “anti-feminist”.

    2. edmondo


      Ms. Melinda Henneberger has been an Editor-In-Chief and Vice President at CQ – Roll Call, Inc. since November 2015. Ms. Henneberger joined Roll Call from Bloomberg Politics, where she covered the 2016 presidential campaign as a senior writer. As Founder and Editor-In-Chief of AOL’s Politics Daily, she conceptualized the site, worked with designers on its look, and developed a talent team of writers and editors whose work attracted 8 million monthly unique visitors. At The Washington Post, she launched, managed and edited the paper’s opinion blog of women writers, She the People, and wrote a reported column. Previously, she spent a decade at The New York Times, as a metro reporter, Washington correspondent and Bureau Chief in Rome. She served as a Staff Writer for New York Newsday and the Dallas Morning News and her work has appeared in Commonweal, GQ, Time, Newsweek and Reader’s Digest. In the course of her career, she has covered everything from the Dallas police beat, poverty in suburban New York City to the bureaucratic machinations of the Vatican. She was a 2013 Fellow at the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard’s Kennedy School, serves on the board of the National Press Foundation, and is a visiting fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies.

      Not exactly someone who you would expect to see on the ramparts when the revolution comes around. Can you say upper 10%? Looks like the current Democratic Party to me.


    3. RUKidding


      This is as bad, or maybe worse, that known War Criminal with stated interest in killing brown children, Madeline Albright (D-War, Inc) saying: “”there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other.”

      Gimme a break. I’m more than willing to see more women in Congress and breaking the glass ceiling elsewhere, but noted War-Loving, Steal the Post Offices to make my hubby rich, worthless “Democrat” Senator DiFi is long, long, long past her sell-by date.

      For heaven’s sake, hasn’t she and her pillaging husband grifted enough $$$ for several generations of their family to come?

      If women, like DiFi, want a place in the House, the Senate, the Whitehouse and the CEO corner office, then they need to stop expecting & demanding special treatment because they’re women. Equal? Absolutely. But “special”? No. Just stop it.


      De Leon ’18.

    4. Jeff W

      It’s offensive to conflate age and gender with policy, actually, and expect people not to notice.

  2. DJG

    “It’s offensive to disrespect Sen. Dianne Feinstein. She’s 84, female and essential.” [Melinda Henneberger, USA Today].

    Ahh, yes, is it time for the national conversation about old-girls’ networks, where people say things Hennebergerr says just as people said the same things about Herbert Hoover? Or, I suppose, Robert E. Lee? (He was essential for a brief moment of history, too.)

    This is exactly the kind of class-self-reinforcement through identity-conformity that Adolph Reed and Bruce Dixon have been writing about.

    Note to Dianne: I will be more respectful when you release the U.S. Senate full torture report.

    1. Summer

      “This is exactly the kind of class-self-reinforcement through identity-conformity that Adolph Reed and Bruce Dixon have been writing about.”
      Or as I put it, privileging certain types of lifestyles absorbs diversity. Example: specific types of consumer lifestyles

  3. Rob P

    >“Jailed Russian ‘sex coaches’ offer to trade election info for US asylum” [CNN]. Anything’s possible, but the last place I’d go for a straight story about anything would be the Pattaya, Thailand, and that very much includes any “Russian sex coaches” doing business there. I mean, yikes.

    Saying ‘I have information on Trump-Russia’ is becoming an easy scam for Russian crooks. This hacker tried that trick to get out of jail last year (unsuccessfully, it seems), but another Russian managed to get $100,000 for his Trump dirt. These ‘sex coaches’ should try contacting Tom Steyer, or some other Trump-hating billionaire–I think there’s a good chance they’d find someone willing to bail them out.

    1. HideNwatch

      make something sensational up about Trump to sell to the press

      watch them throw it against the wall to see if it sticks

      it doesn’t stick


    2. RUKidding

      LOL. Yeah, just who I’d trust: a sex coach in Pattaya, Thailand. If you’ve ever been there, you’ll know what I mean.

      Is that a joke?

      1. diptherio

        Thank you. The context was “Terf is to feminist as ancap* is to anarchist” How is this a thing? There are enough radical feminists who don’t like trans people that they get their own term?

        On a related note, I was recently referred to as a SNAG** for the first time, and had to ask what that was, too.

        *Anarchist Capitalist
        **Sensitive New Age Guy

        1. Oregoncharles

          “Anarchist Capitalist:” see “The Stone Canal,” by Ken McLeod. Great stuff, but read “Cassini Division,” too. That’s the anarcho-socialist one.

        2. Chris

          At least they didn’t mistake you for a Wall St LOMBARD (loads of money, but a real d***head)

    1. LovesCats

      “Terf” is a slur, used as a term of disparagement for people (almost always women) who question or challenge certain tenets of transactivist ideology. Feminists who do not ascribe to the identity model of gender are called terfs; women who center female reproductive issues are called terfs; people who question socially-imposed rigid gender roles for males and females are called terfs; lesbians who choose not to have romantic relationships with transwomen are called terfs; women who belive in the existense of women-only spaces are called terfs; etc…

      “Terf” is increasingly being used as a form of hate speech to intimidate and threaten individuals. It is not a neutral or descriptive term. Do a search for “i punch terfs” or “terfs die in a fire” to see examples.

      1. LovesCats

        “Deborah Cameron, a feminist linguist and professor in language and communication at Oxford, explains that there are key questions we must ask to determine whether a term constitutes a slur, such as:

        –Has the term been imposed or has it been adopted voluntarily by the group the term has been applied to?
        –Is the word commonly understood to convey hatred or contempt?
        –Does the word have a neutral counterpart which denotes the same group without conveying hatred/contempt?
        –Do the people the word is applied to regard it as a slur?

        “Considering the answers to these questions — that, yes, the term has been imposed on feminists, it is always understood as pejorative, it does have a neutral counterpart (i.e. one could just use the term “feminist”), and feminists have consistently stated that the term is a slur — “TERF” is undoubtedly that. Considering that women are the primary target of this slur and that it is commonly attached to threats of (and, as of late, real-life) violence, there is something more we must now contend with.”


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The term ‘billionaire’ or ‘elite’ vs. neutral substitute like ‘successful business person.’

          1. Both imposed and accepted voluntarily.
          2. Commonly understood to be a slur among those I call friends.
          3. There are neutral counterparts (see above).’
          4. The billionaires regard it as a slur, when surrounded by pitchfork people.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Ah, so the same way that the west has billionaires while countries like Russia have oligarchs. Yes, big difference that.

          2. pretzelattack

            indeed, the billionaires pretend to be one of the pitchfork people in that eventuality. didn’t work in the french revolution. i still hope to sell my tumbril app, but the idea needs to marinate.

        2. savedbyirony

          Thanks for the above two posts. Very well said.

          I would add that the word “terfs” has also been used to help justify actual physical damage and abuse to property and people. The property damage, theft and emotional abuses that occurred at the long running Michigan Womyn’s Music festival attest to this. (A feminist week long camping/music festival intending for women -i.e. adult females- and girls only which was forced out of business.).

          If people want an example of a word that has been captured to the detriment of people’s rights and lives, they need look no further than “woman”. Many in this society would have it that there is simply NO word in the language which specifically and exclusively identifies adult females, or recognizes their unique needs/qualities, especially as it applies to their reproductive lives and biology.

          1. Oregoncharles

            Maybe we should set up a music festival just for men, see what the transactional feminists say about it.

            1. savedbyirony

              Well they do not have much to say about the male only golf course that exists right down the road from me. (In who’s club house Congressman and would be Senator Jim Renacci not too long ago hosted a males only political fundraiser.)

              They’re not trespassing on to the property of the golf course (which functions year round if one takes into account the uses of the club house.) They are not stealing by playing rounds for free or eating for free in the club house. They are not destroying water lines, spray painting on business structures nor visitors cars, harassing people both on the property and attempting to enter the courses grounds to play, nor physically exposing themselves in public. Nor are they issuing death threats to the golf course’s owner! All of which I suspect the owners of the local males only golf course would quickly get police assistance in trying to stop and prosecute the perpetrators. Yet all this was allowed to go on for years at the festival; and as said above, justified because these were females looking for their own space to associate and organize on their own on private property (for a week). And this festival started back in the mid seventies not primarily to be female exclusive but as an answer to the inability for women to get jobs in the music production fields and better billing/appreciation for certain types of “women’s” music. It was not about keeping males out. It was not meant to be about males at all. That is the point. It was about giving females one week a year, if they wanted, to camp out in an environment without the stresses and social conditions of a coed environment.

          2. CalypsoFacto

            another outcome of the dynamic if not explicitly the slur is how it has contributed to the end of lesbian/women-only bars and dance clubs. this article is a good overview of how it happened in Portland, but the same dynamic has played out across the country.

            1. Skip Intro

              I think it is a step in the right direction, that guys now need their junk cut off before threy can bully women while virtue signalling.

              1. savedbyirony

                No, by the rules of the misogynist branch of the transgender movement, all one has to do is say he “feels” female or that he is a woman. Does not matter on the biology, does not require any surgery and/or hormone use, does not matter on sexuality and does not matter on how one is living his life in society. I have plenty of sympathy and a fair amount of solidarity for people who either feel they were born into the wrong biological body (transsexuals) and/or people who want to cast off and cross social stereotypes which are based one people’s biological sex (transgenders), but plenty of what passes for male transgenders’ rights is just more of the same old misogynistic attacks on females – their minds, rights, ability to associate/organize with who they choose, and bodies – and the promotion of sexual stereotypes used to keep females down and exploited in society.

      2. Summer

        I’ve always thought the real trans discussion won’t begin until we start seeing more female to male trans people on tv and in magazines telling men what “masculinity” is.

        1. barefoot charley

          Just so. My trans cousin–who also recently converted to Judaism, my wife says not enough people must have hated him–surprised me with sympathy for these terfs. He said when you change sex you don’t change your defining life experiences, nor instantly acquire new cultural baggage. Post-op (wo)men still mansplain, dominate women’s gatherings, insist menstruation isn’t important, etc. He is still studying how to be more of an aggro, steroidal boy (though pushing 30 he’s a testosterone teen). The side-effects of freedom to be whatever we feel like today are crazy-making. I’m really glad for his explanation, and grateful I’m too old to wonder what sex I am.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > grateful I’m too old to wonder what sex I am

            As a reactionary old codger, I can’t help but envision the marketing possibilities implicit in gender fluidity, and wonder whether that accounts for the recent prominence of that topic in the press, especially from opinion shapers in the fashion industry a la Teen Vogue. (I have no problem with the concept — Thailand, it is said, has 15 or 18 genders, especially in, but not limited to, Pattaya — but context is everything (in our case context being optimization for capital, which so often creates suffering in order to peddle a remedy).

      3. polecat

        So virtually everyone who doesn’t abide to all TRANSformer demands are to be “terfed-out” ??
        Alrighty ! ……….. ‘sigh’

        This country has gone undeniably, certifiably cray-cray !

    2. a different chris


      “”What we wanted to say is, if you’re a straight dude, don’t come to this event,” she says. “Everyone else was fine.”

      Ok, I don’t know if that’s actually progress. Hard to feel sorry for these people.

  4. Clive

    Bark mulch, how I loath thee.

    When I had my garden landscaped, the contractor insisted on using the stuff. I wasn’t that keen, but thought it wouldn’t do any harm. And maybe reduce the weeding a little. Well, what a mistake that was. 8 years later, I’m still tidying the little hard unattractive brown shards off my lawn, drive, prostrate conifers (or geraniums or out the hellebores or a load of other unwanted places). I try periodically digging some of it in, but the earthworms, having, it seems, good taste, perhaps rightly send it back to the surface.

    Also, I’ve never seen bark mulch anywhere in a natural environment. It’s not like trees are like cats and shed their outer layers.

    1. L

      Well I think that depends upon the breed. Some pines do regularly scale off bits of the bark as to birch trees although never in the thick chips that they use for mulch. And in any case that shedding is always dwarfed by the needles.

      But if you think that stuff is bad let them talk you into treated shavings. Those things can actually release pulpy bits under the right conditions that will stick to siding.

    2. RUKidding

      Certain conifers and evergreens in the high Sierras definitely shed a lot of bark that ends up looking like mulch for gardens (and may be where some of it comes from).

      Depends on what your landscaping is like. Some bark mulch can be ok, but it just depends on what the rest of the landscaping looks like.

    3. Oregoncharles

      The fir bark around here seems better behaved. I’ve applied plenty of it, but prefer other mulches.

      My favorite is composted yard wastes. It’s about as rich in nutrients as steer manure, but contains enough wood to act as a mulch. The worms systematically bury it; after a few years, you can see the black layer going deeper and deeper. Chief disadvantage is that it’s really black, sticky, and easy to track into the house. Oh – and don’t let a pile of it get soaked; it’ll go anaerobic and smell worse than manure.

      But it’s black gold for the garden. I use it as lawn fertilizer, too.

      At home, my usual mulch is grass clippings or fallen leaves.

      1. Edward E

        A nice layer of compost can’t be beat, it makes for super healthy plants and suppresses weeds. This is a controversial subject in gardening but pine bark and needles may make soils more acidic over time. Sometimes there are bare spots in the yard underneath pine trees, so I occasionally throw some lime. There’s some lime in the barn right now that needs places to go, glad you reminded me.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      You must not live near pileated woodpeckers. Scroll down a bit at this link to take a look at their leftovers. They are pretty good landscapers ;)

    5. laughingsong

      Hate’s a bit strong but yeah. I am fortunate to live in a town that does two neighborhood leaf pickups – one in November and one in December – and you can request that they deliver the leaves to you for free. You do have to keep an eye out for a few bits of rubbish as you spread them, but there wasn’t much, and I got 7 yards of leaves for free and was able to sheet mulch the entire front yard, the blueberry bushes (10), the raspberry bushes (2 8 ft. rows), my raised beds (3), my long iris bed, behind the berm where the clematis and passion flower vines are, and an extra deep bit behind the shed to keep the weeds down.

    6. polecat

      Finely shreaded firbark is what I use, as it breaks down farely quicky (couple of years) thus adding to the humus layer, which benefit the plants and microbiota within the polecat surrounds . As for those hard, nobby walk-on-bark chips .. no, hell no !

  5. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “Jailed Russian ‘sex coaches’ offer to trade election info for US asylum” [CNN]. Anything’s possible, but the last place I’d go for a straight story about anything would be the Pattaya, Thailand, and that very much includes any “Russian sex coaches” doing business there. I mean, yikes.

    This story reminds me of the one that I believe was linked to here about the pole dancer offering investment advice on cryptocurrency. It occurred to me that that probably wasn’t the smart money talking and it was a good sign that maybe we’d reached peak bitcoin. Shortly after that piece came out, bitcoin’s price took a dive.

    If we’re now looking for jailed sex coaches to bring down Trump, perhaps we’ve also reached peak whack-a-cossack. One can only hope…

  6. L

    It is interesting that Cook is sounding the alarm about the Democrats’ lack of a message. Just a month or so ago he was predicting tidal waves and urging them to stay the course with bland “centrism.” What changed? Or do we just need to fill our inches?

    1. lambert strether

      The headline isn’t that accurate. In essence, Cook urges that focusing on message amounts to violating the precept to never interrupt your enemy when they’re in the process of making a mistake. Depends on what you think a party is for, I guess

      Incidentally, I don’t think in terms of inches….

  7. Jim Haygood

    Why the heck is “school lunch debt” even a thing?

    And why is it not securitized yet? One might expect an investment grade rating since kids are too young to file bankruptcy … and easy for debt collectors to locate at school. Repo their bicycles!

    You eat sixteen tons, what do you get?
    Another day older and deeper in debt
    Saint Peter don’t you call me ’cause I can’t go
    I owe my soul to the lunchroom store

    — Tennessee Ernie Ford

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And unfortunately it is a thing everywhere. We tried having our kid bring in cash to pay for her lunch on days when she doesn’t bring her own but it apparently was a big hassle for the staff. They thought it would be better if we pre-funded an account for the kid and the school would keep a tab. Then we would get letters saying we owed the school money all the time because your average 6 year old isn’t all that adept at using credit properly. So back to cash it is.

      I wonder what cost is greater for the school – having someone take the time to count and deposit the lunchroom cash every day (with the inherent risk of a little bezzle from the lunch ladies) or the cost of sending out incessant letters that somebody’s kid took an extra couple banana and now owes $1.57?

      1. Summer

        “They thought it would be better if we pre-funded an account for the kid and the school would keep a tab. Then we would get letters saying we owed the school money all the time because your average 6 year old isn’t all that adept at using credit properly.”

        Why should we be surprised? Is the average 18 year old ready to make the decision about taking on decades of debt with the expectation they know exactly what to do with the rest of their lives that will pay it back? They have access to the current economic hype when making these decisions and the graduation speakers’ exaltations that this time they definitely will be the generation to change everything.

      2. JBird

        It’s so heartwarming to read stories of children either being denied food (to the point were the school throws out the unpaid for good food) or sometimes gives them bagged snacks of maybe a banana and cheese and crackers. We should teach 8 year olds that they deserve to go hungry for not paying for their lunches.

        Yes, I am being sarcastic and echoing some of what I read in both the stories and their comments.

        When I was growing up, a pettifactoring Scrooge like these people would have been shamed for this. Now these school administrators say unashamedly to the news that this the right thing to do.

        God help us.

      3. Bugs Bunny

        Today I learned from CNN (via NC, bien entendu) that there are Russian sex coaches and American school lunch debt. There has to be a connection.

  8. clarky90

    Re “If you don’t think that the endgame to all of this lunacy is a world where every America-critical movement from Black Lives Matter to Our Revolution to the Green Party is ultimately swept up in the collusion narrative along with Donald Trump….”

    Fighting the counter revolution back in 1938.


    Bukharin: ….Inside the country our actual program – this I think must be said with all emphasis – was a lapse into bourgeois-democratic freedom, coalition, because from the bloc with the Mensheviks, Socialist-Revolutionaries, and the like, it follows that there would be freedom of parties, freedom of coalition, and follows quite logically from the combination of forces for struggle, because if allies are chosen for overthrowing the government, on the day after the possible victory they would be partners in power. A lapse not only into the ways of bourgeois-democratic freedom, but in the political sense into ways where there are undoubtedly elements of Caesarism.

    VYSHINSKY: Say fascism simply.

    Bukharin: Since in the circles of the “bloc of Rights and Trotskyites” there wasan ideological orientation towards the kulaks and at the same time an orientation towards a “palace revolution” and a coup d’état, towards a military conspiracy and a praetorian guard of counter-revolutionaries, this is nothing other than elements of fascism.

    Since the features of state capitalism about which I spoke operate in the sphere of economics…

    VYSHINSKY: In short, you lapsed into outright rabid fascism.

    Bukharin: Yes, that is correct, although we did not dot all the “i’s.” That is the formulation characterizing us as conspirators, restorers of capitalism, true from all points of view. And quite naturally, this was accompanied by a disintegration and degeneration of the whole ideology, our entire practice and methods of struggle.

    Now permit me to go straight on with an account of my criminal activity.

    VYSHINSKY: Perhaps as a preliminary I might ask you two or three questions of a biographical nature.

    Bukharin: By all means.

    VYSHINSKY: Have you lived in Austria?….”

    1. clarky90

      Rykov and Bukharin Trial Russia Soviet Union 1938

      Six minutes of original film of the trial


      Prosecutor Vyshinsky praises the investigative work of Nikolai Yezhov, chief of the NKVD.

      In the “Letter of an Old Bolshevik” (1936), written by Boris Nicolaevsky, there is this contemporary description of Yezhov:

      “In the whole of my long life, I have never met a more repellent personality than Yezhov’s. When I look at him I am reminded irresistibly of the wicked urchins of the courts in Rasterayeva Street, whose favorite occupation was to tie a piece of paper dipped in kerosene to a cat’s tail, set fire to it, and then watch with delight how the terrified animal would tear down the street, trying desperately but in vain to escape the approaching flames. I do not doubt that in his childhood Yezhov amused himself in just such a manner and that he is now continuing to do so in different forms.”


      1. barefoot charley

        Wow. The Democrats do have a lot to learn from the Russians. “Childish social worker! You are backsliding from pure neoliberal faith in virtue-signaling to . . . what is that, virtue?”

  9. Montanamaven

    I was very dismayed to see “Icarus” (Russian doping) win the Oscar, as Dimitry Orlov says this is yet another lie and another example of Hollywood rewarding Russia and Syria bathers. Last year “White Helmets” won for Best Short Feature. Ugh. Here’s what Dimitry says in a piece called “Competitive Lying” about the Russian doping scandal.

    2. A certain character by the name of Rodchenkov once ran Russia’s anti-doping agency—until he and his sister got caught selling forbidden drugs to athletes. He avoided jail because he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and had attempted suicide. Later he ran away to the US and became an FBI informant, spinning a tall tale about a Russian state-sponsored doping program. Based on his “evidence,” numerous Russian athletes were (temporarily) stripped of their Olympic medals and (temporarily) banned for life from participating in the Olympics. These decisions were overturned due to lack of evidence. The International Olympic Committee chairman Thomas Bach then publicly deplored this decision—because lack of evidence is not a good reason to overturn a decision? Another IOC representative then gave an interview in which he defended the decision to not allow Russian athletes who are known to be clean to compete in the Winter Olympics in South Korea by saying that lack of proof of their guilt does not mean that they are innocent; they may still be suspect, he said—because they are Russian? In the old world where the rules of evidence apply, such developments would be devastatingly embarrassing to the IOC, disqualifying many officials from holding their positions. But in the new world of competitive lying the “Russian doping” narrative still commands a considerable mindshare (among the most heavily doped population on the planet, one might add) and is being kept alive.

    My favorite Doc was “Faces/Places” about the great Agnes Varda and the young photographer artist JR. An ode to working class France.

    1. voteforno6

      Kobe Bryant won an Oscar, and Agnes Varda didn’t? I’m still trying to fathom that one.

      1. audrey jr

        Actually, Agnes Varda, of who I am a huge fan, did win a lifetime achievement Oscar at the Board of Governors fete.
        Too bad her husband, Jacques Demy was not alive to see sa femme so honored.
        She is a real treasure.

      2. RUKidding

        Yeah. Go figure Kobe’s award v Agnes Varda.

        That’s entertainment (or so they say).

        1. Montanamaven

          Kobe Bryant’s animated short won instead of the always awesome Pixar’s “Lou” about school bullying. I do recommend the other animated shorts, but they probably were too dark to win.
          I mean really really dark.
          Oh, and I didn’t recheck after spell check. It’s Russian “bashers” not Russian bathers. But you knew that.
          At least “The Last Man Out of Aleppo” didn’t beat Varda’s film. Hollywood still hasn’t caught on. I think George Clooney is still thinking of making a movie about the White Helmets. And look for somebody to play the good Dr. Rodchenkov for next year.

    2. Carolinian

      Varda was favored to win but the Russkie hate by AMPAS members was too strong. The dubious Netflix documentary also beat out Small Enough to Jail, the excellent Abacus Bank doc that appeared on PBS.

    3. Craig H.

      Russia Today has a decent documentary, two parts, 50 minutes total, on the tradition of cooperation between Hollywood movie studios and the CIA, FBI, Army, Navy, Air Force. Sean Stone narrates it. About ten minutes are him interviewing his dad Oliver. It is an inexpensive production but (for now) we can watch it for free on youtube.

      Link to Hollywood D. C. Part I (1st 25 minutes)

      1. perpetualWAR

        Thank you, Caroline!
        That was a very good read!
        Yes, we were soundly and globally put in our place.

    4. witters

      For Montanamaven, way back:

      ‘But in the new world of competitive lying the “Russian doping” narrative still commands a considerable mindshare (among the most heavily doped population on the planet, one might add) and is being kept alive.’

      The Russian Narrative… It is still there in the Taibbi piece.

      At the very end (last para): “Parts of the Russiagate story may be real. Sleazeballs like Paul Manafort and Trump are, like Putin himself, capable of anything.”

      So Putin is a sleazeball?

      And he is (uniquely?) “capable of anything”?

      PDS spreads…

      1. witters

        … and now to Jacobin and Branko Marsetic: “The National Endowment for Democracy is a vehicle for Putin-style foreign meddling.”

  10. JohnnyGL


    So, as it turns out, we used germ warfare on the N. Koreans after all….

    On a related note, I’d recommend the series ‘Woomwood’ on Netflix. It’s too long, but it’s an interesting story. Sy Hersh is involved, too, for added fun.

    Shorter version for those who are time-pressed: There’s strong evidence the CIA killed one of the key scientists working on a biological weapons program that was implemented in the Korean War in order to prevent him from blowing the whistle on them. First, they called it a suicide….then two decades later, they called it the death an ‘accident’ from experiments with LSD gone wrong. Looks more like they just killed him to shut him up before he spilled the beans.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      “Wormwood” for those of you who don’t keep an eye peeled for the word ‘wormwood’. See also Gin and Apocalypse. Also may fall slower than other stuff.

  11. Rob P

    West Virginia lawmakers reach deal to give striking teachers pay raise

    >West Virginia lawmakers reached a deal Tuesday that gives a 5% pay raise to all state employees, including striking teachers and school staff.

    Not all good news though:

    >There will be no tax increase to offset the raise, and Blair said the government will see a $20 million reduction in spending to come out of cuts to general services and Medicaid.

    And the health insurance issue remains unresolved:

    >Separately, the governor agreed to set up a task force to address the state health insurance program on March 13.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Did the union say yes to this? I thought the entire strike was about health care. If they don’t get a health insurance concession I don’t know how you call this a win.

      And dipping into the Medicaid fun to pay for it looks awful.

        1. Oregoncharles

          They said that before, at 4%. This is a wildcat strike; the unions are largely irrelevant.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not good news.

      They are setting it up as ‘Your program is being cut for his pay raise.’

      Not quite 11 dimensional, but certainly not straight (1 D) or plain (i.e. plane, 2D).

    3. marym

      From Jacobin: The cuts aren’t in the bill.

      Tweet that includes link to the bill

      Jacobin interview with 2 teachers talking about progress and next steps on PEIA, and response to possible funding cuts to pay for the raise:

      If they try to fund this through cuts, we know what our message has to be. From day one, we’ve said we want corporate welfare reversed and a tax raise on natural gas — but they keep trying to ignore this demand. We’ve been out here across the state making sure our students are fed, while they’re trying to cut SNAP benefits.

      The public knows all of this, we have to keep reminding them to join this fight with us. But that will happen after we go back to school.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        They would be right to fight any cut to SNAP benefits.

        We’ll see what the lawmakers will do to prevail on the PR front.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          The lawmakers cannot let the union look like it’s getting a win. So they will cut one program that hurts the poor to pay the teachers.. divide and conquer.

          They have to set a precedent now or else most of the south might try the same thing.

          1. pretzelattack

            they keep setting precedents like this, most of everywhere will be trying the same thing. the class war is ramping up, and we are getting routed.

  12. Ranger Rick

    They made a mistake assuming what the $1.5 trillion is for. It certainly isn’t for buying infrastructure. It’s for buying the infrastructure to make that infrastructure. While we haven’t seen anything concrete from this administration with regards to economic policy, it’s starting to look like the rhetoric is very pointedly about bringing back autarky.

    1. Synoia

      While we haven’t seen anything concrete from this administration

      Appropriate when discussing infrastructure.

  13. bob

    The Bezzle-

    “Judge tells Percoco jury to resume deliberations after deadlock note”


    Hard not to sympathize with the jury after a 7 week trial, that will probably result in no one going to jail, and no one in any real postion of power going anywhere.

    To review, the last two large corruption trials in NYS-

    Sheldon Silver, long time head of the NYS assembly. Tried. convicted. Hasn’t spent one day in jail.

    Joe Bruno, long time head of the NYS Senate. Tried. Convicted. Hasn’t spent one day in jail.

    So now we’ve got a bunch of wannabe gangstas, who are at best bagmen, on trial for corrupting the system that can’t put Cuomo on trial.

    According to the estimable federal judge, the jury is being lazy for not wanting to sit around and stare at this shitshow for another day. Back to work


  14. audrey jr

    And I will be more respectful when AIPAC registers as a foreign agent. I’m sure that Ms. Feinstein will get right on that. After, of course, she gets to the bottom of the Imran Awan blackmail/spy scandal.
    I am beyond disgusted with my former party of 40 – wasted – years.
    That being said, I am not bloody likely to vote for Xavier Beccera, either.
    Help, help, Giant Meteor!

    1. GF

      …when AIPAC registers as a foreign agent.”

      About as like to happen as the NRA being deemed a terrorist organization.

  15. Oregoncharles

    ““The Economic Colonization of Rural America””
    This is the root of Maoism. There are Maoist rebellions ongoing in both India and the Philippines.

    It Can’t Happen Here?

  16. Gary

    Texas politics can be colorful…

    Yeah. Not only do the dead vote, they can do it in alphabetical order!

  17. DJG

    The Ikerd article about plundering agriculture and rural America is indeed a must-read. At the start of the article, he deftly debunks a number of oh-so-important thinkers, which is refreshing.

    The quote (the second paragraph that Lambert features above) is from the highly esteemed Wendell Berry. (Who not so long ago wrote an essay on how a smallish farm can still be run using horses rather than machines, something the Amish exemplify.)

    And there is this brilliant set of observations:
    This is a matter of community necessity for those who care about the future of their communities. Margaret Wheatley, a leading thinker on institutional and cultural change recently identified three major trends in American society:
    1) “A growing sense of impotence and dread about the state of the nation.”
    2) “The realization that information doesn’t change minds anymore.”
    3) “The clarity that the world changes through local communities taking action—that there is no greater power for change than a community taking its future into its own hands.”
    I agree with Wheatley. First, as I have suggested, I believe the prevailing mood in rural America today is one of “impotence and dread.” Second, I agree that information no longer changes minds. We now have more than 50 years of “sound science” and the real-world experience of people in rural communities confirming the negative environmental, social, and economic impact of industrial agriculture. The agribusiness corporations have responded with a multimillion dollar a year public relations campaign to “greenwash” industrial agriculture by creating a set of “alternative facts.” Many public officials continue to promote CAFOs. The general public doesn’t know who to believe.

    I don’t know Margaret Wheatley’s work. Advice?

    1. JBird

      Information can change minds, it just that the corporations, and rich individuals, spend ungodly amounts of money twisting, distorting, hiding or just flat out lie to prevent the truth tellers from being heard. One person has his mouth, and the other has a stadium speaker setup. Who’s gonna be heard?

    2. JCC

      The ikerd article is as good as they get regarding how we all live today. I’ve been explaining to friends since the late nineties that the Red Eye Of Sauron has turned inward. Some of them have finally started to listen.

    3. Amfortas the Hippie

      “colonisation” is a good word for what’s been happening out here in the sticks. I’m sort of surprised I hadn’t thought about it, it seems so obvious. I’ve been yammering about just this kind of thing for years, too.
      I’ll be sending this art. to some of the local thinkers and thought leaders(yes, we have those,lol…more effective than me, because of lingering prejudices: it angers hicks when crazy hippie dudes turn out to be right)
      as I’ve been saying forever, we have a balance of trade problem in the sticks…we import everything we need and want, and export cash and whatever wealth(from frac sand to pensions to our kids).
      in my area, Peanuts and angora goats were the economic engines…until the subsidies went away, late 90’s.
      then it was hunting leases and even catering to the wives of hunters with little shops and boutiques(911 apparently permanently damaged that)…now it’s Wine. I’ve been pushing to 1. somehow arrange things so that the smaller vineyards can stay in the game, to resist the tendency towards giantism. 2. broaden the ancillary activities that go with wine: vinegar, brandy, ouzo,(for the inevitable “bad crops” that don’t pass muster with the rather elitist wine sipping classes) even oak plantations for the barrels. with the former 3, the laws and regs get in the way(altho this has been slowly changing in Texas).
      The birth and growth of the wine sector has been a boon…small, so far, but growing. City folks come and stay in B&B’s and take “wine tours”.
      college kids come home for the harvest/pressing and the pruning season.
      It’s big, but it ain’t enough.
      It occurred to me long ago, driving past 10,000 sheep to buy lamb chops from Australia that it’s policy, the regulatory regime, and “industry standards”…as well as a heavy dose of Mythology regarding “economic reality”…that drives the evisceration of rural America.
      Such things as Argentinian Beef, or Mexican Tomatoes are thought of as effects of a Natural Phenomenon…”The Economy”…like a thunderstorm or gravity…when it’s really about choice.
      “Efficiency” is used to justify the offshoring and the exploitation.
      But it’s only “efficient” if one ignores a big hunk of the actual effects.
      End Ramble: thanks for linking this…and for paying attention long term to the plight of Country People.

    4. Eclair

      I sent the Ikerd article to my husband’s cousin, who farms in Pennsylvania, and about whom I have written here before. You know, the one who is an hereditary Republican and who held his nose and voted for Trump. The one who worries that people in his economically depressed area can’t really afford to buy his produce, beef, pork and eggs. Walmart sells them cheaper. He wants to keep producing real food; well, the hilly region where his farm is located is useless for huge fields of GMO feed corn and soy, harvested mechanically. And ‘a growing sense of impotence and dread about the state of the nation,’ perfectly describes our regular Sunday night phone conversations.

  18. dcblogger

    On Twitter the Senators who voted to roll back Dodd-Frank are being called the #BailOutCaucus, I think it is great!

    1. perpetualWAR

      The only #BailOutCaucus member whose aides were polite and respectful on the phone were from Senator Tester’s office. All other Senator’s aides were extremely rude. I hope the phones are ringing off the hook!

  19. RUKidding

    Cook concludes: “My hunch is that a November 2020 electorate might prefer a steady hand at the till….”

    Did he mean: a steady hand IN the till??

    1. edmondo

      Did he mean: a steady hand IN the till??

      Didn’t we do that with the Clinton Global Initiative in 2016? Maybe she’s running again?

      Biden/Feinstein 2020. Old, useless and a steady hand in the till.

    2. JCC

      He either meant “a steady hand at the tiller” or an “unsteady hand at the till”… hard to tell.

  20. Simon Girty

    The single plausible argument against our tag team kleptocracy conspiracy theory (Mook, Podesta & Debbie using the election to launder a couple billion through their K & C Street pals) is… they’ve actually been pretty damn successful, unlike Democrats… well, ever are? When Brock’s CTR trolls we’re turning lefty blog aggregators into corporate cut & paste click-bait echo-chambers (many corporate sockpuppets using their same avatars, banning or silencing us BernieBro® Eco-terrorists™) just how many actual journalists were dumped, blacklisted? How many whistleblowers exposed, editors sacked? How many blogs disappeared, papers bought up, shut down or switched sides?

  21. allan

    “If poor people knew how rich rich people are, there would be riots in the streets”
    [Real-World Economics Review Blog]

    … But, as it turns out, even the experts underestimate the degree of inequality in the United States. The usual numbers that are produced and disseminated indicate that, in 2014 (the last year for which data are available), the top 1 percent of Americans owned one third (35 percent) of total household wealth while the bottom 90 percent had less than half (45.3 percent) of the wealth.

    According to my calculations, illustrated in the chart at the top of the post, the situation in the United States is much worse. In 2014, the top 1 percent (red line) owned almost two thirds of the financial or business wealth, while the bottom 90 percent (blue line) had only six percent. That represents an enormous change from the already-unequal situation in 1978, when the shares were much closer (28.6 percent for the top 1 percent and 23.2 percent for the bottom 90 percent).

    Why the large difference between my numbers and theirs? It all depends on how wealth is defined. …

    But, but … smart phones and flat screen TVs!

  22. GF

    Shipping: “Non-contract, or “spot,” rates for refrigerated truck capacity were quoted as high as $10.38 a mile in January. … Last I heard the drivers may get $0.40 per mile. Somebody may be making some money here.

    1. Edward E

      Do you think that they’d ease off on running people into the ground for a while? Well, guess they can’t really do so much of that anymore, the ELD’s are like putting the brakes on that. No help for the twuckn industry from the yacking Yam.

      In other news, Gary Cohn is leaving the White House, hmm, what a game changer? Same gamer, game samer… same ol game

      Also the Belt Road Initiative had a big, huge impact at the World Economic Forum. Ah wondering if that might be why they’re trying to resurrect the TPP? But don’t listen to wrongheaded Ed. ttyl

  23. Tomonthebeach

    The New Blacklist story reminds us about the dynamics of the paranoid mind.

    Essential to global(ist) conspiracies is (1) that humans are capable of successfully coordinating change on a massive scale. [Right, and whom do you see to get more than one replacement toner cartridge for that damned printer that is always running out of ink?]; and (2) that all empirical evidence that refutes my conspiracy theory is invalid/false/proof of a conspiracy [i.e., an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

    As a psychologist, I fail to see the benefit of preoccupation with conspiracies like those postulated by Alex Jones and other true believers in the “Deep State.” Perhaps this substitutes for a life? Anyway, in my quest for clarity, I engaged one of them in the comments section until I realized my exchanges were being used to build a case for – you guessed it – a Globalist Conspiracy! I am readily amused by ironic humor.

  24. JBird

    Secret NYPD Files: Officers Can Lie And Brutally Beat People — And Still Keep Their Jobs”

    In the story, the police officers who reported other officers doing evil stuff were given harsher punishments for anything than the ones doing the beatings, sexual assaults, lying, framing, etc.

    Beat someone near to death and lie about it. Maybe something happens. Report on the cop who did it and probably lose your job. At least we know where the NYPD’s priorities are.

    1. JBird

      Guns nuts are truly horrible people
      Pair arrested after harassing pastor in Sutherland Springs

      Okay, I’ll bite.

      Just how is conflating two unpleasant conspiracy theorists with gun owners everywhere cool? It’ not even fair to the couple. However it is an excellent example of guilt by association combined the use of absurdity. Argue on the merits, not by smearing.

      It’s like when I complain about capitalism and suggest some form of socialism and then I am accused of being a Stalinist who supports mass murder and poverty.

  25. Enquiring Mind

    One filter I use for any Trump actions is to consider them as opening salvos or moves to stake out some negotiating position. He makes some aggressive move, without regard to any social mores, to put others off balance, and then refines his flexible positioning as needed or seemingly at whim. I fully expect some tariff changes, where the direction is hinted at but the magnitude is unknown. At the risk of being wildly optimistic, that gambit could result in some movement on the North Korean matter. Hope springs eternal.

    He reminds me of a kid yelling out “Cannonball” as he jumps into a swimming pool, seeking attention without regard to splashing any and all, or perhaps with perverse delight in said splashing as long as the cameras are rolling.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump is the President, and as President, he sets the conversation regardless of topic which is part of the reason all the #resistance can say is “Russia.” They lack the coherence (an alliance of Gingrich Republicans such as Joe Scarborough and Clintonistas can’t work). Donald sets the agenda regardless of his ramblings, so it may seem like a master plan but its about the status of POTUS. Gun control fell off the radar when Obama moved onto other things or decided not to press the issue. People acted like we left Iraq under 44 because he said we “ended combat operations.”

      The only way to counter the President, any President, is with a coherent alternative which an alliance of the nominal center left and Republicans who basically spent the last 25 years attacking Bill Clinton as Lenin can’t ever achieve. Trump can be incredulous and rambling, but he will wield power that alliance can’t.

    2. Louis Fyne

      the skill of Trump (whether by blind luck or intuition or foresight) is he figured out that, given all the entrenched interest groups in the US, the only way to affect change is by flipping over the poker table and setting the agenda as everyone scrambles to grab their chips.

      pushing for incremental change in today’s political climate gets you nuttin. see 2009 to 2017.

      go big or go home. and I don’t see a center-left change-maker in the wings and NH-IA ain’t that far away.

  26. djrichard

    The slope of the yield curve is positive.

    Currently the 13 week treasury yield is at 1.64%. And is increasing at roughly 25 basis points every 2 months. Currently the 10Y yield is at 2.88% and the trend is less clear there. Let’s just assume it stays at 2.88%. That means we only need the 13 week treasury to increase by 125 basis points to catch up to the 10Y and invert the yield curve. Which gives a 10 month horizon.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Some of us gravitated to the 2-yr vs 10-yr yield curve during the dark days of ZIRP, when the yield on 2-year Treasury notes fell into the teens (as in 0.19%).

      Only a skinny 62 basis points is needed to hike the 2-yr yield over the 10-yr, a configuration which has led to recession every time with a lag of a year or two.

      1. djrichard

        I hear you Jim. I just like using the 13W because it tracks almost exactly with the Fed Funds rate.

  27. Adam Eran

    Gah! The neoclassical economists are clueless, but have eloquent writers like Krugman. Stephanie Kelton could explain national debt *so* much more clearly!

    If you have a checking account, that’s your asset, but the bank’s liability. Writing a check assigns the bank’s liability to the payee. Currency is checks in fixed amounts, payable to cash, the holder’s asset, but the central bank’s liability.

    People do *not* understand this stuff! And shoot themselves in the foot as a consequence. It’s bank debt, not household debt.

    Randall Wray’s article is a little clearer.

  28. Jim Haygood

    Let’s be evil:

    Google has partnered with the United States Department of Defense to help the agency develop artificial intelligence for analyzing drone footage, a move that set off a firestorm among employees of the technology giant when they learned of Google’s involvement.

    Some Google employees were outraged that the company would offer resources to the military for surveillance technology involved in drone operations, sources said, while others argued that the project raised important ethical questions about the development and use of machine learning.

    Google’s Eric Schmidt summed up the tech industry’s concerns about collaborating with the Pentagon at a talk last fall. “There’s a general concern in the tech community of somehow the military-industrial complex using their stuff to kill people incorrectly,” he said.


    Malibu mindfulness insight: it’s important to kill [brown] people correctly. :-)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > using their stuff to kill people incorrectly

      Conservative: Let’s kill people!

      The left: Let’s not kill people!

      Liberal: Let’s kill people correctly!*

      * By putting the matter into the hands of credentialed professionals, who will design the proper gatekeeping/targeting prototocols

  29. allan

    Danny Glover get shouted down as chaos erupts at Airbnb rally in Albany [Rochester D&C]

    Actor Danny Glover was shouted down Tuesday at the state Capitol as a rally in support of Airbnb descended into chaos after it was infiltrated by hotel workers.

    Airbnb, the online home-rental marketplace, brought the Lethal Weapon actor to Albany to speak at a rally in support of a bill that would allow and regulate short-term rentals in New York City.

    But unbeknownst to Glover and Airbnb, at least a dozen workers from the Hotel Trades Council had blended in among the Airbnb supporters standing behind the actor at the rally.

    They began shouting at Glover seconds after the actor began speaking, questioning why he’s supporting Airbnb when the company is in a pitched battle with the hotel industry and its union.

    “Mr. Glover, you may not understand how hard it is for working families,” shouted a man who later said he was a member of the hotel union. “You used to march on behalf of hotel workers all the time. You used to be on the side of working families.” …

    The actor — a paid adviser for the company — was ultimately escorted away from the Capitol’s Million Dollar Staircase to the Senate lobby, where he later spoke to reporters.

    “I came in support of the work that Airbnb is doing in terms of building communities and the relationships that I’ve found when I’ve traveled to communities … where there are just ordinary citizens who are trying to find a way to get through to the next moment to pay taxes, get kids through school, go on with life,” Glover said. …

    Building communities. The misleadership class is strong in this one.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Ugh. People were buying up rows of houses in our town to rent out to tourists through Airbnb, destroying the actual communities already in existence. Some elderly person dies, and the Airbnb vultures swoop in and snatch up the house. Our city council recently banned them in order to preserve the communities Airbnb was destroying.

  30. The Rev Kev

    “Why I’m not on board with quiet carriages”

    I wonder what the late Alfred Hitchcock would make of a quiet carriage. He was know for entering an elevator with a friend and then telling a story to his friend of finding his wife together with her naked lover (which got everybody’s attention in the elevator) and as the doors opened, he would said that of course he had to blow the lover’s head off as, after all, what choice did he have? just as the doors closed on the horrified people behind.

  31. CalypsoFacto

    regarding the Sewbots article… I am not convinced this is much, yet. There aren’t a lot of details about what the sewbots actually are:

    Chinese contract manufacturer Tianyuan Garments Company is building a plant in Little Rock, Arkansas, US, manned by sewbots.

    “These are robots that can manufacture clothing; in this case t-shirts for German company Adidas, incredibly fast,” notes the report.

    “The bots can cut and sew a new shirt every 22 seconds from very soft and flexible fabric. This was something that was impossible to conceive a few years ago. The designs can also be changed very swiftly according to market demand.”

    Later they note that batch sizes can be as small as 1. Are the sewbots knitting or weaving the fabric prior to the cut/sew? If not, this will very likely be a wasteful process compared to the existing manual process that wastes something like 15% of the fabric input.

    They seem to envision a closed loop, bespoke sizing per unit, vertical manufacturing process. The sad part is that 3-5 people with the right skills and less than $10,000 worth of equipment and inputs could do all of that except for scale up to X units on demand, provided that buyers were willing to pay more upfront and expected a delay from initial purchase to receipt.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > except for scale up to X units on demand

      In terms of fast fashion, I did wonder how fast the robots could be, because I would bet there’s a lot of prep time needed to do materials-handling properly. If the task is well-defined, like a t-shirt in a particular pattern, I would bet robots could do it. If the task is not well-defined — like whatever you see on Harajuku — then not. Worth noting that small batch production by humans can be quite profitable; my undestanding is that the Italian equivalent of the German mittelstand does a lot of it.

      Still, this is what they would do, right? So very much worth watching.

      1. CalypsoFacto

        oh, it’s so enraging even after sleeping on it, I agree! as you point out there will be setup costs incurred, and for what, a trillion more tshirts? ten thousand of the same simple, sh!!ty, ill-fitting but on-trend skirt that is worn three times max and then tossed in the trash? All to shave down the labor costs and get to market faster in the trend cycle. I think it was Matt Stoller who said something like ‘economies of scale are the biggest scam in the history of industrialization’ or similar and it’s DEFINITELY true in the garment manufacturing space.

  32. One Time Only

    “The Benjamin Franklin Effect: The Surprising Psychology of How to Handle Haters” [Brain Pickings]. Do them a favor!

    Actually Franklin advised asking them for help, and in particular, soliciting their advise. Ie: recognize someone as your equal, or better, if you want to gain their support.

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