2:00PM Water Cooler 3/9/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I have to do a bit of pantry clearout on the midterms, so I’ll add more material in the next few minutes. –lambert UPDATE 2:32PM All one.


“North American Free Trade Agreement as a bargaining chip” [Logistics Management]. “According The U.S. Department of Commerce, Trump has formally offered to exclude the neighboring countries from the president’s planned tariffs on steel and aluminum if they can agree on a deal on a new North American Free Trade Agreement. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced at a press conference that the administration is examining the impact of imposing the tariffs on a ‘case-by-case’ basis…. Speculation that President Trump is using his threatened steel tariffs as a ploy to renegotiate NAFTA may not play well with shippers associations.”

“As U.S. President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday imposing 25 per cent tariffs on steel imports and 10 per cent for aluminium for almost every country but Mexico and Canada, other nations have expressed their desire to join the lucky duo” [Mining.com]. “European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said that the EU was a close ally of the United States and should also be exempt from metals tariffs.”

“The so-called metal-benders in American supply chains worry that new U.S. curbs on steel and aluminum imports could break them. While tariff supporters, including some steelmakers and unions, say U.S. prices have been weighed down by cheap imports, smaller metal-consuming manufacturers say the new levies may significantly increase their prices and trigger job cuts” [Wall Street Journal]. “[C]ompanies including Batesville Tool & Die Inc. and Allied Machine and Engineering Corp. are concerned about rising prices and whether supplies for specialty steel products will be available. M&B Metal Products Co. Inc. says the tariffs may call into question its plans to upgrade its Alabama factory that makes clothing hangers.”

“NOW COMES THE DEALMAKING: President Donald Trump signed a pair of proclamations on Thursday establishing a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariff on aluminum, but he gave some countries a potential escape clause if they can find a way to eliminate the national security threat their exports pose to the United States” [Politico].



UPDATE “Bernie Sanders To Hold Televised Town Hall On Economic Inequality” [HuffPo]. “The program will consist of a four-person panel: Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), filmmaker Michael Moore, and Darrick Hamilton, an economics and urban policy professor at The New School in New York City.” On Hamilton: “Professor Hamilton is a stratification economist, whose work focuses on the causes, consequences and remedies of racial and ethnic inequality in economic and health outcomes, which includes an examination of the intersection of identity, racism, colorism, and socioeconomic outcomes.” Hamilton also advocates a Jobs Guarantee. Oh, to get a JG ringer into the questioners…

Generic Ballot: “There is good news and bad news for Democrats in the newest Quinnipiac University survey. The bad: The favorable rating of the Democratic Party has hit an all-time low. Just 31 percent of Americans say they view the party favorably, while 52 percent view it unfavorably. That’s a far cry from the 55 percent favorable rating the party enjoyed when Barack Obama took office in 2009. The good? Despite the drop in favorability, Democrats still enjoy a healthy advantage over Republicans on the generic ballot question” [RealClearPolitics].

“Team Biden mulls far-out options to take on Trump in 2020” [Politico]. “On Tuesday, Biden kicked off what will be a heavy campaign schedule this year with two appearances for Conor Lamb, the Democrat running for a House seat in the Pennsylvania special election. It was as much about trying to put Lamb over the top as it was about signaling how much of his 2018 will be about promoting people he sees as ‘Biden Democrats,’ and cultivating the perception of him as the lone national Democrat who can campaign anywhere…. As he started speaking to House Democrats at their retreat last month, he was greeted with a few ‘Run, Joe, Run!’ cheers.” Doomed…


“Trump Gets More Positive Ad Cover Than Obama Did at This Point in 2014 Cycle” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “I spent some time watching a bunch of campaign ads for candidates running for Congress, Senate and Governor. Most were from early primary states like Texas and Illinois. President Trump plays a starring role in many, if not most of them. Democratic candidates pledge “to stop Donald Trump” while Republicans boast of their support for the president and/or identify with his cultural and policy proposals…. [M]ore than ten times as many pro-Trump ads have been aired in the last year than pro-Obama ads run during this same time period four years ago. In other words, Republicans are more willing to embrace the president in their advertising today than Democrats were back in 2013-14.”

TX: From alert reader Daniel:

Wanted to share some links thoughts from Texas #21 and the state.

First, I was surprised by Mary Wilson’s getting top votes in the primary. I thought it was going to be between Our Revolution endorsed Crowe and centrist Kopser. I preferred Crowe to Wilson because he added a job guarantee to his platform and she has some bad thoughts on marijuana. However, while I’m disappointed in Crowe’s showing, Wilson is overall a good candidate. She came to multiple Our Revolution meetings in my area. She supports Medicare for All. Kopser nominally does but his website is full of “interim solutions.” I will feel good about voting for her in the runoff, as I imagine many other Crowe supporters will do. She’s got a real shot.

Steve Kling winning the nomination for State Senate is great news. He’s very good. Took part in a Medicare for All march in downtown San Antonio and earned his Our Revolution endorsement.

Rick Trevino in district 23 is also very good, if he can make the runoff. As of now it’s too close to call.

As far as Tom Wakely, no one expected much from his campaign, least of all him. He wanted to get the message out but had no illusions about winning the nomination. I guess it’s fair to call it a loss for Berniecrats, but no one expected different.

Also, I did not expect Sema Hernandez to seriously challenge O’Rourke for Senate, but I was encouraged that she did better than I thought she would.

UPDATE: Trevino made the runoff. Also, I neglected to mention Chris Perri in #25. He’s very good. He started in #21 before moving to a less crowded primary. Had an extended discussion with him at one event about job guarantee and he was certainly receptive. Quite likely I would have voted for him if he’d stayed in my district.

UPDATE TX: “Primaries Turn Texas a Deeper Shade of Red” [Governing]. “‘The movement conservatives view this not as a single battle but as a war with a long time horizon,’ says Jones of Rice University. ‘They never expect to flip 12 or 15 seats in any given cycle. Instead, a net pickup of a few seats means an already weakened establishment is weaker in 2019. Over time, the movement conservative wing [will be] predominant in the House, just like it is now in the Senate.'” And conservatives are supposed to be stupid…..

Other Texas readers, thoughts? (I think these reports from the ground are useful. The more concrete detail to better.


TX-07: “Texas Progressive Laura Moser Is Beating Democratic Insiders” [The Nation]. “There’s a good case to be made that the DCCC helped Moser, whose grassroots fund-raising spiked after the attack. She also earned a late-in-the-race endorsement from Our Revolution, the group formed by Bernie Sanders backers that had established a strong presence in Texas—and when the results came in, Texas populist Jim Hightower, an Our Revolution Board member, said: ‘The voters of Texas showed they are the only deciders in the race to represent them in Congress.'”

UPDATE TX Senate: “Beto O’Rourke fell short of expectations in the Texas primary. Was it because of his name?” [Texas Tribune]. “In low-information Democratic primaries, name matters when voters are choosing a candidate based on cues like gender and surname, said Victoria De Francesco Soto, a political science lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin who has studied Hispanic voters.” Shorter: Hispanic voters are stupid. Which is what liberal Democrats always say when people don’t vote for their candidates. More on O’Rourke’s rivals: “O’Rourke won less than two-thirds of the statewide vote. Sema Hernandez, a 32-year-old Houston activist and self-described ‘Berniecrat,’ picked up a surprising 24 percent… His Democratic primary opponents mostly campaigned on social media and reported raising less than $10,000 combined.”

UPDATE TX Senate: O’Rourke’s opponent:

UPDATE PA-18: “Can Unions Push Conor Lamb to an Unlikely Victory in Pennsylvania?” [Roll Call]. “local unions, who have launched a coordinated ground game to support Lamb ahead of the March 13 special election in the 18th District.. Roughly two dozen unions are mobilizing workers like Sparks in the final days of the race to help Lamb do the improbable — win.” If the unions succeed in their efforts, they still won’t get anything for it from the Democrats; they never do.

UPDATE PA-18: “Republicans trash their candidate in Pa. special election” [Politico]. “Shortly after the new year, Rep. Steve Stivers, the House GOP campaign chief, delivered a stern message to Rick Saccone, the party’s special election candidate in Pennsylvania…. But if Saccone didn’t start upping his fundraising game and getting his sluggish campaign in order, he could lose a race that should be a gimme for the party. Saccone said he understood. But in the weeks to come, the National Republican Congressional Committee quietly dispatched a staffer to the district to walk Saccone, who lacked any donor infrastructure, through the basics of how to fundraise. Stivers had several more conversations with the candidate to try to prod him along.” I wonderful if the RNC’s Memorandum of Understanding on fundraising is as vile as the DNC’s? If so, this speaks well of Saccone….. More: “[Ivanka] Trump told colleagues she’d been impressed by the candidate, who she described as kind [(!!)] and intelligent. But she noted that Saccone seemed to lack the charisma of many politicians.”

Senate: Poll: Five Senate Dems would lose to GOP challenger if elections held today” [The Hill]. “New polls published Thursday morning in Axios show Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) would all lose reelection to GOP challengers if voters were heading to the polls this week.” Blue Dogs all. Why vote for a fake Republican when you can vote for a real one?

UPDATE Senate: “Sanders won’t endorse Feinstein” [The Hill] and “Sanders backs Ill. Dem primarying incumbent” [The Hill]. DCCC/DNC really shouldn’t have attacked Sanders’ candidates….

“Veterans Running as Democrats Challenge GOP on Guns in Key Races” [Bloomberg]. “Recruiting veterans is a key part of Democrats’ strategy to gain House seats in this year’s elections, and there are at least 25 running in primaries. Most have been advocating new controls on guns, or beefed-up background checks, since the Feb. 14 shooting at a high school in Florida, often citing their own experience with firearms.”

Obama Legacy

“Obama in Talks to Provide Shows for Netflix” [New York Times]. “Mr. Obama does not intend to use his Netflix shows to directly respond to President Trump or conservative critics, according to people familiar with discussions about the programming. They said the Obamas had talked about producing shows that highlight inspirational stories. But the Netflix deal, while not a direct answer to Fox News or Breitbart.com, would give Mr. Obama an unfiltered method of communication with the public similar to the audiences he already reaches through social media, with 101 million Twitter followers and 55 million people who have liked his Facebook page.”

2016 Post Morterm

Groundhog Day comes late this year:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats Are Considering Dropping Superdelegates Altogether” [Buzzfeed]. “One DNC member from California, Bob Mulholland, circulated a memo late Wednesday night ahead of the meeting outlining his opposition to the idea. ‘I understand that one proposal before the DNC Rules Committee is to deny uncommitted Delegates (Members of Congress, DNC Members, Governors, former Presidents and DNC Chairs) the RIGHT TO VOTE in our presidential nominations at our National Conventions, on the first vote,’ the memo begins. ‘In other words, Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Carter would be told they cannot vote for our next President and they would be escorted to the nosebleed section of the arena.'” You say “escorted to the nosebleed section” like that’s a bad thing…

“Are congressional Democrats lying their way to riches?” [Center for Public Integrity]. Throwing a flag on the Betteridge’s Law violation, here… More: “‘I find the DCCC’s fundraising emails to be both annoying and pathetic — their hysterical pleas make the Democrats look like a no-good, lousy, one-party losing streak*,’ said Leo McDevitt, a copy writer and content manager from Escondido, California, who says he no longer donates to the DCCC because he’s put off by their solicitations. ‘I have repeatedly told the DCCC that all of my donations are staying local,’ said Linda Parsel of Texas, who avoids the DCCC and gives directly to Democratic candidates’ campaigns. So why would the DCCC risk further alienating supporters with irksome fundraising emails, especially at a time when the committee, overseen by Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, is already grappling with internal strife over how it supports candidates and involves itself in Democratic primaries? …Here’s one reason: The bait-and-switch ‘NOT asking for money’ messages appear to work — at least more than they don’t.” * Make up your own jokes…

UPDATE But what about [genuflects] unity?

Democrat loyalist experiences cognitive dissonance:

UPDATE “Petition approval puts Maine on track to use ranked-choice voting in June primaries” [Bangor Daily News]. “Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap said Monday that ranked-choice voting will be used in the June 12 primary after his office certified a people’s veto effort that thwarted the Legislature’s attempt to cancel the election system approved by voters in 2016. Dunlap deemed 66,687 of the approximately 77,000 submitted signatures to be valid… The people’s veto attempt certified Monday would nullify a law passed last year by legislators that at the time was seen as a death knell for ranked-choice voting.”

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, February 2018: “There’s still no wage inflation underway but the flashpoint may be sooner than later based on unusual strength in the February employment report” [Econoday]. “Strength in construction is a standout in the report as payrolls in the sector surged 61,000 in February following gains in the three prior gains that are all 40,000 and over. Manufacturing is also very strong, up 31,000 for a fifth straight strong gain. Retail, which has been uneven, added 50,000 as did professional & business services where the closely watched temporary help subcomponent spiked 27,000 in a tangible indication that employers are scrambling to fill positions. Government payrolls, which have been weak, added 26,000 to February’s nonfarm total…. Despite all this strength average hourly earnings actually came in below expectations, at only plus 0.1 percent with the year-on-year 3 tenths under the consensus at 2.6 percent. But given how strong demand is for labor, policy makers at the Federal Reserve may not want to risk runaway wage gains as employers try increasingly to attract candidates. The sheer strength of the hiring in this report would appear certain to raise expectations for four rate hikes this year as Fed policy makers may begin to grow impatient with their efforts to cool demand.” Lordie. The F. Scott Fitzgerald novel to read here is The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, not The Punchbowl the Size of a Thimble. And when you think about it, regulating the economy by throwing people out of work is barbaric, yet we take it for granted. And: “The headline jobs number at 313,000 for February was well above consensus expectations of 205 thousand, and the previously two months were revised up a combined 54 thousand. Overall this was a very strong employment report” [Calculated Risk]. “Even if weather boosted the NFP report by 80,000 jobs, this was still a strong report.” And: “The household and establishment surveys were not in sync BUT you have a choice between great and even better. This definitely was a good month with positive backward revisions – and it is very hard to point at any bad dynamic” [Econintersect].

Wholesale Trade, January 2018: “Inventories in the wholesale sector had not been keeping pace with sales which had been very strong and which helps to explain January’s large 0.8 percent build” [Econoday]. “[Y]ear-on-year inventories are still lean, up 4.8 percent for the sector vs a sales gain of 6.7 percent. And for January, today’s build together with a preliminary build of 0.8 percent build for retailers and a 0.3 percent build in durables at manufacturers points to a fast start for the inventory component of first-quarter GDP.”

Banks: “Did the Dodd-Frank Act End ‘Too Big to Fail’?” [Liberty Street Economics]. “Did the Dodd-Frank Act end ‘too big to fail’? In a pair of blog posts published in 2015, we argued that, at the time, bond and CDS markets and rating agencies did not agree on the answer to that question. The updated evidence in this post suggests that there remains a difference of opinion on the effectiveness of the SPOE*. It’s possible that investors are still skeptical about the new resolution tool since it has not yet been tested. It’s also possible that bond markets’ perceptions of risk differences between parent and subsidiary banks are concealed by the generally strong financial condition of the four institutions that we consider. Nonetheless, the absence of a market response is notable.” * “The FDIC has developed a ‘single point of entry’ (SPOE) strategy, under which healthy parent companies bear the losses of their failing subsidiaries.” Ratings agencies think that SPOE “has made the parent riskier” but bond investors do not agree.

Retail: Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. is no longer playing around. The troubled toy chain may liquidate all of its U.S. stores and abandon efforts to restructure through the bankruptcy process… The big-box retailer filed for chapter 11 protection in September with hopes of reorganizing its heavy debt load, revamping its stores and operations, and continuing as a mainstay toy busines” [Wall Street Journal]. “But now it is now evaluating bids to liquidate the rest of its U.S. locations, a plan that would effectively close off hopes of a rebound after a weak holiday season torpedoed plans to reorganize.

Retail: “The Slow Death of the Shopping Plaza” [The American Conservative]. “The anchor stores in [the Sully Place Shopping Center in Chantilly, Virginia] currently occupied, and there is none of the loitering or petty crime that tends to hasten the deaths of these places; this is no dead or dying mall. Yet the accompanying strips of smaller shops in between the anchors are one-third vacant. Of about 40 small storefronts, 13 are currently sitting empty (the number of vacancies has actually ticked up in the last several years). One or two stores that are occupied are “marginal” businesses, like the closeout warehouse stocked mostly with returned electronics and smashed cereal boxes. This is in one of the richest parts of one of the richest counties in the nation—the households within five miles of the mall sport a median household income of $110,000—during a supposedly thriving economy. That suggests that the high watermark of the massive shopping plaza is probably behind us, though whether greater blame belongs to e-commerce or to the defects of the sprawl model of development is up for debate. In any case, one wonders what the original builders were thinking in 1991 when the plaza was built.”

Shipping: “[Kroger] Chief Financial Officer John Michael Schlotman said in an earnings call that the company’s dedicated fleet keeps it ‘well protected’ as tight capacity boosts domestic shipping market prices. He says some of Kroger’s consumer-packaged goods supplies have seen freight disruptions but adds, ‘That’s their issue, not our issue…We agreed to pay a certain price for their product and their obligation is to get it to us for that price'” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Massive jury award against FedEx unit could re-set standard for damages in truck accident” [DC Velocity]. “Virtually all of the $165 million award, considered by several legal experts as an astounding figure in a case of this nature, compensates the Morgas for “non-economic” damages such as pain and suffering, physical impairment, and “loss of consortium.” The latter is roughly defined in tort law as depriving the survivors the means of carrying on a future relationship. Unlike “economic” damages, which cover such costs as medical claims and lost wages, and which can be calculated using established formulas, the amount of compensatory damages is, with a couple of exceptions, limited only by a jury’s discretion. For example, the size of the award cannot, in legal parlance, “shock the conscience.” Nor can a jury be influenced by passion, prejudice, the financial status of either party, or other elements that might conflict with a vetting of the evidence at hand. The jury did not award punitive damages in the case. The appellate court ruling upholds a 2015 federal district court decision affirming the verdict and denying FedEx Ground’s request either for a new trial or a reduction in the size of the award.” Hmm. Speaking of robot cars, the software companies have the deepest pockets of all….

Housing: “San Francisco housing has entered into a new reality. Tech money and foreign cash continues to flood the market and pushing prices to astronomical levels. The typical San Francisco crap shack now will cost you $1.42 million, a new record high with condos going for $1.15 million. The city is entering into escape velocity of gentrification” [Dr. Housing Bubble]. “San Francisco is such an odd case study. A city that outwardly states it supports the poor but when you look at prices even making $100,000 a year makes you part of a new high income poor – at that income level a sizable amount of your net income is going to go to simply paying for housing unless you want to be part of the mega commuting culture that is now emerging in California. What is going on in San Francisco?… You have foreign money flooding the market and you also have dual income high tech households trying to buy up what little inventory exists.”

The Bezzle: “This Is What Happens When Bitcoin Miners Take Over Your Town” [Politico]. “The Mid-Columbia Basin isn’t the only location where the virtual realm of cryptocurrency is colliding with the real world of megawatts and real estate. In places like China, Venezuela and Iceland, cheap land and even cheaper electricity have resulted in bustling mining hubs. But the basin, by dint of its early start, has emerged as one of the biggest boomtowns….. Stories abound of bitcoin miners using hardball tactics to get their mines up and running. [Bitcoin miner David Carlson], for example, says some foreign miners tried to bribe building and safety inspectors to let them cut corners on construction. ‘They are bringing suitcases full of cash,’ Carlson says, adding that such ploys invariably backfire [Oh?]. Adds [real estate broker Lauren Miehe], ‘I mean, you know how they talk about the animal spirits—greed and fear? Well, right now, everyone is in full-greed mode.'” The miners remind me of “builders” in William Gibson’s The Peripheral, as does the rural milieu.

The Bezzle: “Driverless cars are so overhyped” [The Week]. “The thing about driverless cars is that few people speak about them with specificity. When you read articles about autonomous vehicles, two assumptions are almost always made: First, that driverless cars will lead to near-universal ride-sharing and a massive drop in private car ownership. Second, that driverless cars are always electric. Nearly all the benefits we associate with driverless cars — from faster commutes to cleaner air — actually depend on these two assumptions coming true. And it’s simply not clear they will.” Good read.

The Bezzle: “A company called Embark tested their autonomous truck on a trip from Los Angeles, CA to Jacksonville, FL. The vehicle did the 2400 mile trip in five days and followed a test run from Los Angeles to El Paso, TX. Embark believes that the trip from Los Angeles to Jacksonville can be whittled down to as little as two days, yet they highlighted that they are not out to replace drivers entirely. Drivers will be needed in the vehicle at all times and must handle the off-freeway drive times. Notably, the route Embark’s autonomous truck took completely missed the bad weather areas of the country, and it’s uncertain how these trucks will handle poor weather” [Truckstop].

The Bezzle: “Two Years On, A Father Is Still Fighting Tesla Over Autopilot And His Son’s Fatal Crash” [Jalopnik]. “He hopes the suit will bring more attention to the system’s limited capabilities and force Tesla to change the way it deploys the technology before it’s refined. (A federal lawsuit filed last year in the U.S. echoed that concern, alleging the automaker uses drivers as ‘beta testers of half-baked software that renders Tesla vehicles dangerous.’ Tesla called the suit ‘inaccurate’ and said it was a ‘disingenuous attempt to secure attorney’s fees posing as a legitimate legal action.'”

Tech: “Amazon splurges on Ring, hopes smart doorbells bolster in-home deliveries” [Ars Technica]. “Ring could help Amazon bolster customer confidence in Amazon Key: Ring’s smart video doorbell uses an embedded camera to let users see who’s at their door (via Ring’s mobile app) and a speaker/mic system to allow the user and the guest to communicate.”

Tech: “Comcast’s Xfinity internet customers have been reporting multiple websites, including PayPal, Steam, and TorrentFreak have been getting blocked by the ISP’s ‘protected browsing’ setting” [SlashDot]. Just spitballing here, but given that PayPal traffic is disportionately transactions from which PayPal takes a cut, it would only be natural that — in the absence of net neutrality — that Comcast would want a cut of the cut. Of course, Comcast would never do that.

Tech: “Oculus VR headsets knocked out by admin error” [BBC]. “Oculus failed to renew a security certificate for some software, meaning headsets would not run key code. Security certificates are often used to authenticate software, and many computers refuse to run code lacking valid credentials.” I’m sure that will never happen with robot cars.

Tech: “Trump Administration Backs Internet Taxes at U.S. Supreme Court” [Bloomberg]. “Taking the side of traditional retailers, the administration said Monday that the court should uphold a South Dakota law that would collect sales taxes from large Internet retailers even if they don’t have brick-and-mortar stores in the state. The government said the court might have to overturn a 1992 ruling that said states can’t force merchants to collect taxes unless they have a ‘physical presence’ there.” Sensible?!

Fodder for the Bulls: “The Economy Is Looking Awfully Strong” [New York Times]. “The economy is humming… The 313,000 jobs that the nation added in February are far more than are needed to keep up with population growth and continue a surprising burst of job creation to start the year. In the first two months of 2018, the economy has added an average of 276,000 jobs a month, a big step up from 182,000 on average in 2017. This is not the kind of data you expect in an expansion that is nine years old, or out of a labor market that is already at full employment. It suggests that employers are filling jobs not merely from people they’ve poached from competitors, but also from more people who have entered the work force. And other data in the latest report matches that idea.” (Not clear to me how “the economy” can be humming when average hourly earnings “came in below expectations.”) More: “Yes, it would be nice to see paychecks rise faster, but the saving grace of the fact that they aren’t is that it allows the Fed a little more room for patience.” Yes, wouldn’t it…

Five Horsemen: “Apple and Facebook duke it out for last place as juggernaut Amazon motors on into the Milky Way” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen March 9 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Mania-panic index advances to 45 (worry) on improvement in the put-call ratio, new highs vs new lows, and stocks’ 21-day rate of change” [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.)

Five Horsemen March 9 2018

Health Care

“The Medicaid Freeloader Fallacy” [US News]. “Proponents of work requirements claim people with disabilities will be exempt. But what they do not tell you, and may not even realize, is that people like me who are clearly disabled by any common-sense definition of the word are often not considered disabled by the government. That is because our government makes it deliberately difficult and time-consuming to qualify as disabled. The Washington Post recently reported that 10,000 people died in the past year while judges drown in the backlog of federal Social Security Disability cases. The states run Medicaid, and Colorado and others rely on Social Security for disability determinations.” And: “Work requirements solve a perception problem, not an actual problem. The majority of Medicaid recipients, both in Colorado and nationwide, already work. They are just so poorly paid that they still qualify for Medicaid.”

The NHS:

You can see why the Tories want to destroy it…


“What scientists found trapped in a diamond: a type of ice not known on Earth” [Los Angeles Times]. “Trapped in the rigid structure of diamonds formed deep in the Earth’s crust, scientists have discovered a form of water ice that was not previously known to occur naturally on our planet.” That’s wooder ice.

Class Warfare

“Man arrested after allegedly pulling gun on striking Frontier worker” [Charleston Gazette-Mail]. “A Georgia man slated to become a temporary worker for Frontier Communications during the ongoing workers strike allegedly pulled a gun on a picketing employee in Braxton County, according to an incident report filed with West Virginia State Police.”

“Income Distribution, Household Debt, and Aggregate Demand” (PDF) [Levy Institute]. ” I ask five questions: How much household borrowing finances consumption spending? How much has monetary consumption spending by households increased? How much of the rise in household debt-income ratios is attributable to increased borrowing? How is household debt distributed by income? And how has the distribution of consumption spending changed relative to the distribution of income? I conclude that the distribution-debt-demand story may have some validity if limited to the housing boom period of 2002–07, but does not fit the longer-term rise in household debt since 1980.

“The Socialist Origins of International Women’s Day” [Jacobin].

News of The Wired

“Now accepting submissions!” [HyperCard ZIne]. I loved HyperCard…

“How exercise in old age prevents the immune system from declining” [BBC]. “Doing lots of exercise in older age can prevent the immune system from declining and protect people against infections, scientists say. They followed 125 long-distance cyclists, some now in their 80s, and found they had the immune systems of 20-year-olds.”

“The Hammering In My Head” [Nina Illingworth]. I think all of us have had that hammering at one point or another…

“How Do You Solve a Problem Like a Giant Floating Bog?” [Atlas Obscura]. “Floating islands are common in Minnesota; it’s the size of this one that’s causing all the fuss. Sue Galatowitsch, a wetland ecologist at the University of Minnesota, says the island likely weighs at least 1,000 tons and could extend 30 feet below the water. Technically, it’s a floating bog. A natural assemblage of peat moss festooned with cattails and tamarack trees, the bog is more than four acres across—that’s about 64 tennis courts. ‘A bog that size,’ Galatowitsch says, ‘can kind of do whatever it wants.'” At one level, this an inspiring story of locals cooperating. Still, it would be easy to rewrite this story as a dystopian nightmare…

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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 (PS):

PS writes: “What better plant for Naked Capitalism than “Naked Ladies” (aka Amaryllis belladonna)?”

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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. perpetualWAR

    One has to wonder if the Obama Netflix show will be like the Clinton’s “House of Cards”?

    1. HopeLB

      As I mentioned earlier, I am rooting for a mini-series based on the movie, The Ruling Class. Obama starts off as the God of Love (Hope and Change) and is twisted into Jack the Ripper by the neolib/neocons Dems with an assist from the Republicans. Imagine how blame shifting (like Hillary’s Russia-gate) and cathartic it would be for Obama to star in such a subversive series! He might end it in the present and show how he is now being dogged by his four multimillion dollar homes’ mortgage payments and having to keep up post-Presidential appearances, (and the Library!) which just might garner him some forgiveness from us previous Obama voters, especially if it was funny in a black comedy kind of way.



      1. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

        Amusing, but your premise assumes Obama was at some point a real Hope and Change ™ candidate, versus the silver tongue huckster I think he proved himself to be. Considering he was in office for less than a year before the financial crisis happened, and he did NOTHING but toady up to the banks, I’m more inclined to be cynical.

        “My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.”

        Screw him. I want his legacy to crash and burn.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          “I want his legacy to crash and burn.”

          And therefore you are lying about history. Very recent history no less. Obama was not “in office for less than a year before the financial crisis happened”. It had already developed, and gone obviously critical, before Obama was elected.

          The financial crisis of 2007-2009 was rooted in policy changes that were enacted during the Clinton administration, and the profligate self-dealing that blossomed during the very “Christian” Bush administration.

          It was the love child of Reagan Republicans and Third Way/Clinton Democrats. Obama did not effect any of the progressive changes this event should have allowed, possibly because he was slick and corrupt, and possibly because he had limited real power, given the overt and covert racism of our political and economic elites.

          It’s clear we will get a second chance at “Change”, however. It’s just a question of when. And whether there will be any “Hope” with it.

          1. witters

            “he [Obama] had limited real power, given the overt and covert racism of our political and economic elites.”

            Yeah, right.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              The liberal Democrat pivot in early 2009 from “hope and change” to “He’s only been President ___ months,” and “the President is not a dictator” — there were more talking points like this, but I’ve forgotten or repressed them — is in retrospect astoundingly nimble and brazen and seems like a case of “early onset rationalization” (assuming good faith) for the repetitious and vociferous excuses being made for Clinton today. Somewhere along the line “they needed 60 votes” came out of the insider’s email blast and that ended the process; there was then no baseline to decay beneath.

              1. Procopius

                I don’t remember much about 2009 except my shock and disappointment that he took the public option off the table. The real revelation came in the SOTU in January 2010, when he announced his turn to austerity. I think in 2009 most Democrats had not yet grasped that they did need 60 votes every damned time, and they didn’t have 60 until Minnesota finally certified Al Franken, and even then it depended on the corrupt Weepin’ Joe Lieverman.

          2. Di Modica's Dumb Steer

            Not lying. Just angry at Obama for his wasted chance. While the seeds for the crisis were laid long before Obama had any real political ambitions, he owned the crisis when he failed to prosecute. He could have done as Bill Black himself advocated – sending scores of Federal Agents to start flipping the lower level folks at the banks until they got higher up, and then started handing down jail sentences. Kind of like what happened during the S&L crisis. Instead, he bailed the banks out at great cost, and without extracting much from them, even though he was in the perfect position to do so…and with broad public support.

            I’m fine with laying this all on Third Way and neoliberalism, but he had a real shot. And he blew it, be it due to pressure, inexperience, or whatever. For all the suffering I witnessed during that time, he’ll never have any sympathy from me. Not to mention the insult to injury recently, when he essentially came out of retirement to foist Tom Perez on the DNC. No thanks. All those pretty words he speaks are empty.

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > The financial crisis of 2007-2009 was rooted in policy changes that were enacted during the Clinton administration, and the profligate self-dealing that blossomed during the very “Christian” Bush administration.

            That’s very true. Anybody who takes a serious look at the history of that period will see:

            1) How Obama’s threat of nationalization worked to rein the big banks in;

            2) How Obama’s Justice Department was even more ruthless than Bush (Enron) or Reagan (S&LC crisis) in prosecuting bank CEOs for accounting control fraud;

            3) How HAMP saved the homes of tens of thousands, and prevented the vaporization of a generation of black wealth;

            4) How Obama’s stimulus package put America back to work.

            Oh, wait… Wait, wait. Wait.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          Obama still has an audience, and he was happy to sell it to Netflix. It wasn’t even the first time. Hillary had first dibs.

          Speaking of the Clintons, was HoDo always a Clinton operator, even back in ’04? Just mess things around a little, test out some concepts and techniques, weaken other candidates so things were left open for HRC in ’08? If that’s the case, then who else in the ’04 stable of candidates was really there as a Clinton stand-in? For that matter, how did HoDo get to Vermont from NYC in the first place?

          I don’t know. Maybe I’m getting too far down the rabbit hole. Of course, with the Clintons, it’s more of a prairie dog town.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > was HoDo always a Clinton operator, even back in ’04?

            I don’t think so (though maybe Vermonters can correct me). Ho-ho — his proper nickname — grew up in a Wall Street family of the lower rank, and moved to Vermont, as a physician. If by Clintonite, we mean a member of the Clinton faction, I don’t think so. I view his 2004 campaign as being that of a genuine insurgent, somebody already concerned with the direction the Party was going in. The best evidence of this is the behavior of his enemies; the press and Dick Gephardt taking him down with the “Dean Scream”; the Democrats immediately turfing him out of his DNC chair after his 50-state strategy was successful in the 2006 wave, and then promptly dismantling said strategy. I view Ho-Ho’s behavior today as a mixture of curdled ambition and the corruption — “Oh, the hell with it, I’m cashing in, I’ve earned it” — that can overtake a party elder, along with the warmongering cray cray that’s currently infected those who control the Democrat Party.

            1. Henry Moon Pie

              You’re probably right. I was mainly having some fun on the way to the “prairie dog” line. ;)

          2. JohnnySacks

            Dennis Kucinich was around then, wasn’t he? I’ll always relate the DNC’s and media’s treatment of Sanders as the failure to successfully repeat what will forever be known in my mind as ‘Kucinich-ing’. It was as disgusting then as it was in 2016 and I hope Sanders forces them kicking and screaming to do it again in 2020.

        3. HopeLB

          All correct! This would be his chance to satirically and falsely rewrite history and show that he changed and became hopeless the moment the Pritzers entered the picture and began grooming him for the Senate and Presidency. We’d obviously need a younger man to play those parts! (Or maybe, better yet, Morgan Freeman, the God actor himself, could do it! So meta!) . Obama could narrate it up and until the point he plays himself. (I’m picturing an extreme close up for the beginning of his narration, (perhaps just one of his eye balls?) and as the youthful Obama story unfolds, the camera could slowly pan out. In the final episodes based on his youth when he was still the God of Love,Hope/Change, he would narrate from a large room in each of his four houses with a very wide camera angle, so he would be quite small on the screen. ) What a hit it would be! What cognitive dissonace it would engender!What fun!

            1. ambrit

              Snark alert/ “…Larry Summers, as himself.”
              Well, I’d say that that assumed facts not in evidence.
              /Snark off
              (Oh my. I just flashed on the character from the porn send up of “Flash Gordon,” “Flesh Gordon.” Dr. Flexi Jerkoff has become Dr. Flexian Snarkoff.” Now who, I ask trepidatiously, would be the Emperor Wang the Bent today?)

      2. perpetualWAR

        He will NEVER achieve my forgiveness, as I lost my home to unlawful foreclosure. He did nothing but wrongly tell us the bankers did nothing unlawful. HAH!

        1. HopeLB

          Maybe, the series could end with him being foreclosed upon himself, (shot of all of his belongings out on the lawn with him in a fine chair, filmed again with a very wide angle) because he has broken the elites’ #1 rule of exposing them and their agenda on his Must See TV mineseries!Then back to extreme closeup of his lips with him saying, “Just Joking With You Folks” and a final close-up of his grin with a fade to black of all but the grin still visible and then a serious announcement that he is writing and starring in a new show, called From Hamilton to Goldman, the Musical.

            1. ambrit

              Or, as I just linked to otherwhere, Brunhillary joins him in a real ‘Bonfire of the Vanities,’

        2. Procopius

          No, he said, “Most of what they did was not illegal,” neatly sliding over the implication that some of what they did was. Didn’t matter, he was not going to prosecute any rich banker.

    2. The Rev Kev

      At the moment, Trump pretty much has the field to himself when chatting with the American people via his twitter account. The Democrats have nothing like it to match him. Maybe this might be a counter by having Obama do a series of stories and try to shape the debate. Maybe Obama wants it to save something from his eight year Presidency (he has little good to show for it) as well.
      I think that it has the potential to blow up in his face though. Obama could do one of his “inspirational stories” and your Republicans could simply highlight another story – such as a black Chicago resident forced out of her home to make way for Obama’s palace library or an American worker forced out of his job and replaced by a Dreamer – you get the idea. I don’t think people want “inspiration” much anymore. They want results.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        My guess is the memoir isn’t turning out the way he wanted. I can’t imagine the part about holding a vote to decide if he should intervene in Libya comes off well. The Kool-Aid drinkers won’t care, but a vote decided by a doofus such as Hillary which resulted in tribal warfare and slave markets isn’t going to come off well. With a television show, he can film a few pictures, add a Sarah McLaughlin song, and add inspirational quotes taken out of context.

        As for as people desiring results over “inspiration,” I’m reminded of the flurry of articles about how Barack needed to get his groove back and pining for the inspirational Obama of old. It was strange how the authors never seemed to quote Obama.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A famous Chinese period drama (from Wikipedia):

      A Dream of Red Mansions (Chinese: 红楼梦) is a Chinese serial feature film produced by Beijing Film Studio, released in 6 parts (8 episodes) between 1988 and 1989. Directed by Xie Tieli (谢铁骊) and Zhao Yuan (赵元),[1] it is a cinematic adaptation of the 18th-century Chinese novel of the same name.[2] The film took two years to prepare and three years to shoot,[3] and remains, at 765 minutes, the longest ever made in the People’s Republic of China.[4]

      That compares with the 431 minute 1966-1967 USSR film adaptation (in 4 installments) of the War and Peace novel.

      I think I tried to watch it in a theater on University Ave, in Berkeley, way back then, and fell asleep. I can’t remember.

      1. Carolinian

        My book says a mere 373 minutes if you are referring to the Bondarchuk version. Then there’s Hollywood’s War and Peace at a zippy 208 minutes with Omaha’s Henry Fonda improbably cast as Pierre and Audrey Hepburn as Natasha. While some of us would gladly watch Hepburn floss and she’s even European (Belgium) she was too old at the time to play a young girl.

        Obama might actually make a pretty good actor. It’s what he was doing for 8 years.

        1. maria gostrey

          i am watching the bondarchuk version on filmstruck & when i just now added it up it comes to 423 minutes.

          its really a wonderful production on this splendid novel, with the exception of the woman cast as countess bezukhova.

          BTW, filmstruck has several tarkovsky films including сталкер ( i think i got that right – i am trying to learn russian)

          1. Carolinian

            Apparently there are multiple versions. IMDB:

            Runtime: 401 min (video) | 414 min (4 parts) | 263 min (2 parts) | 453 min (4 parts) | 403 min (Québec)

            I seem to recall that it was shown in episodes on PBS a long long time ago.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Then, there is this one (from Wikipedia, again):

      The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple is a Chinese silent film serial directed by Zhang Shichuan. The film is adapted from the novel The Tale of the Extraordinary Swordsman.

      The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple, in 16 parts, is among the longest films ever produced and the longest major release, running 27 hours in total. The Mingxing Film Company production was released in 19 feature-length parts between 1928 and 1931. No copies have survived.

      Was made before the People’s Republic was proclaimed.

      It’s too bad no copies have survived to challenged modern endurance contestants.

    3. Lee

      An interesting episode in the long, bloody history of European tribal warfare. The Dutch kicking Brit butt! The Irish part of me quite liked it.

    4. ewmayer

      I loves my Korean-TV historic dramas – current one is Guam Heo-Jun, about a lowborn fellow who overcomes great adversity (and many beatings) to educate himself and eventually become a top royal physician. Jeebus, the Confucian bureacrats with their dual loves of personal corruption and severe punishments for anyone challenging the status quo are something else.

  2. Jim Haygood

    A Mish Shedlock post today includes a surprising chart showing that nonbank mortgage lenders (e.g. Quicken, newamerican, loandepot and lenda) now underwrite more mortgages than banks. Chart:


    What troubles Mish is that nonbanks are not entitled to the emergency lending from Mommy Fed that TBTF banks get. In a credit crunch, nonbanks could fold like a cheap suit, drastically cutting the availability of mortgage finance at the worst possible time. Remember that scary movie from ten years ago?

    In drastic contrast to stocks’ runaway rally, REITs (mainly focused on commercial property) have fared poorly since Trump’s election. Vanguard’s real estate ETF, to mention one example, is lower today than it was in Nov 2016.

    REITs becalmed while personal residences are chugging uphill 5-6% annually as if running on rails? Though the two markets are quite distinct, it’s a glaring divergence.

    With the Fed aggressively raising rates and mortgage rates going up in tandem, how much longer can houses deliver a no-brainer “sit back and enjoy the ride” windfall for leveraged speculators? Not that much longer, says worry-wart Mish. I concur.

    1. Rates

      Not sure why he is troubled. It’s obvious where this thing is headed.

      “No lender left behind”. Powered by MMT.

      Utopia is almost here.

      1. ebbflows

        Sorry but MMT is not a feature of neoliberalism, the ideology proceeds the application of the monetary system.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        A house is an investment in the sense that burying cash in coffee cans in the backyard is an investment. But that’s about it.

        A home, of course, is not an investment by definition.

      2. Jen

        It’s the gift that keeps on taking, but I wasn’t looking for an investment, I was looking to buy a home.

    2. Lee

      It was the relationship between personal income and housing prices that made me twitchy a year or so before the ’08 crash, even though my understanding of the underlying credit structures was at that time practically non-existent. That lack of understanding was one of the reasons I started coming to this site. Now, I’m getting twitchy again and wondering if that’s warranted. Is the larger economy adequately insulated from the housing market to avoid being taken down by it?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Funny you mention it … this chart of net worth vs personal income — derived from the Fed’s quarterly flow of funds report — was published at WSJ today:


        Net worth includes financial assets too. But property is a big chunk of it. The mean-reverting series perfectly captures Bubbles I, II and III (the biggest ever).

        You know how the story ends.

  3. drumlin woodchuckles

    ” The only way to stop them ( the DCCC) is to defeat Pelosi.”

    Well, the only way to defeat Pelosi is if enough Bitter Berners in her district vote FOR her Republican opponent to overcome her huge advantage among her fanatically devoted Latte’ Limousine Liberal base.

    1. Buttinsky

      In a recent exchange upon a rare visit to Facebook, I made passing reference to the “vile creature” that is Nancy Pelosi. An outraged fellow San Franciscan jumped the thread to chastise me. I fear I then compounded my calumny by presenting Exhibit A against Congresswoman Pelosi, her complicity in the Bush-Cheney-CIA torture regime. That was entirely too much for my “friend,” who promptly unfriended me.

      I arrive, here, at that point where one might routinely suggest that Pelosi could torture puppies on live TV and still be re-elected. However, of course, puppies are puppies after all, whereas human beings… well, suffice it to say, especially in the ever-so-progressive Bay Area, that she was lucky she kept to her own species.

      1. John k

        Fine. Then when Stephen loses, vote repub.
        Get rid of the dem blue dogs, then take over the shell.

  4. j84ustin

    I can’t stomach going to the Dr. Housing Bubble blog anymore (I did not visit the link today, so I don’t know if it is better or worse than usual). The commenters are cruel, not to mention they definitely skew hardcore rightwing libertarian (one and the same?). I just get angry every time I visit.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Goes with the territory.

      Yours Truly used the same moniker on The Housing Bubble Blog and somehow managed to avoid the flame wars. And, oh, those things were hot. As in, surface-of-the-sun hot.

      After six years of steadily rising temperatures among the commentariat, I left the HBB for …

      … Faceborg.

      Yes, I know. The place that so many of us are escaping from now.

      But, at the time, I thought that the tone of Faceborg was so much more positive than the HBB. Let’s just say that Election 2016 — and its aftermath — changed my mind.

      Oh, as mentioned earlier this week, I have decided to give up Faceborg for Lent. You know what? It feels GREAT!

      You’ll also be pleased to know that I just shared the wonder that is Naked Capitalism with a friend. The gateway drug? One of Hubert Horan’s stories about Uber.

      1. Anon

        Good on you, buddy! If there was one definitive article (or set of articles) that I would call a gateway drug, it’s Lambert’s writing on either Obamacare (all six parts), or the two-parter on Clinton’s 2016 campaign.

        Continue to spread the word and good luck with finishing Lent!

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Sadly No! here. (I mean the website, and a comment section that left you smarter for the effort) Although The Poor Man deserves honorable mention, just didn’t last long enough to get me hooked.

    2. Sutter Cane

      I used to frequent both Dr. Housing Bubble and The Housing Bubble Blog years ago. The Housing Bubble Blog deteriorated first, it devolved into the same posters spewing deranged bile endlessly, and never recovered.

      Dr. Housing Bubble was readable far longer but of late has degenerated into two camps – the “this time is different, buy now because it is only going up forever” camp, vs. “a crash is inevitable”. They both both go back and forth mocking one another with no new insight being created. The Dr.’s posts seem to tread the same ground over and over, which is understandable since there hasn’t been any big shakeup in the market and things remain in stasis, but it doesn’t make for compelling reading anymore.

      If anyone can recommend a good real estate analysis website, I’m open to suggestions.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The Dr.’s posts seem to tread the same ground over and over

        That’s true, and actually interesting, no? It is to me. The paralysis, the statis. However–

        “If something cannot continue forever, it will stop.”

        But timing, now…

  5. Jim Haygood

    “Onward Together Founding Meeting with Hillary Clinton and Howard Dean”

    New faces! … NOT


    1. PeterVE

      By getting the same graphic designer as the “I’m wither”ed campaign, they’re being accurate in their logo: the arrow is pointing right!

    2. WheresOurTeddy

      Spend an ungodly amount and lose: The Clinton Brand

      Also entitlement to the victory that never comes

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      “Onward Together” “I with her” “What Happwnd” Every slogan feels like it was decided at the end of a three hour meeting — that started at one on a Thursday, and the HVAC starts heating the room, even though it’s hotter than grandma’s house already, and you have to get to your root canal appointment.

      Give me a noun already. It’s like verbs are too much commitment for Hillary.

  6. Rates

    The state of the economy seems to be in the eyes of the beholders. Yesterday this website posted http://mam.econoday.com/byshoweventfull.asp?fid=485134&cust=mam&year=2018&lid=0&prev=/byweek.asp#top which said that retail sales is weak.

    And yet Wolfstreet which is sometimes featured here disagrees.

    “In Q4, total retail sales – e-commerce and brick-and-mortar combined, but excluding sales at restaurants and bars – jumped 5.7% year-over-year.”

    “In January, retail sales rose 5.1% year-over-year.”

    It just seems to me that customers are increasing their purchases regardless.

    Muricans are put on Earth to do one thing: spend. And they are doing a great job. The God of Consumerism no doubt has prepared a Heaven to accomodate them in the afterlife.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Chain store sales at the econoday link are 10% of total retail sales, it says. Hard to interpret when chain stores are losing market share.

      Wolfstreet apparently quotes total retail sales, but their 5.1% yoy figure does not match the 3.6% yoy gain of the government’s series posted here:


      Finally, the government’s retail sales series is not inflation adjusted. REAL retail sales are up 1.5% yoy. Below zero is bad, suggesting recession.


      Data from the original source is less likely to be contaminated with errors and editorializing. :-)

      1. Rates

        I don’t think Wolfstreet is one of those “Everything is Awesome” website.

        The deficit data agrees with what Wolfstreet has posted though. Why would retailers restock big time if holiday shopping is as bad as suggested?

        1. Jim Haygood

          Didn’t mean to imply Wolfstreet was editorializing; sorry.

          What happened is that Wolfstreet is using NSA (not seasonally adjusted) figures. The series I linked is seasonally adjusted.

          Since the seasonally adjusted yoy rise is lower, it would be a more conservative figure to use if you want an early warning of potential weakness.

  7. mle detroit

    Q: “How Do You Solve a Problem Like a Giant Floating Bog?” [Atlas Obscura].
    A: You put it into your novel “The Life of Pi.”

  8. Roger Smith

    What’s the best way to instantly discredit your even to half of the population? Invite fanatic Michael Moore!

    Whose bright idea was this?

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      Indeed, the choir will sing along but not sure how many new converts you get with MM present.

      I still think it was classless for him to harangue a declining Charlton Heston in “Bowling”. “Where to Invade Next” was better than most of his stuff (though still very *him*), but “Sicko” is the best thing he’s ever done.

      Bernie, Liz, a policy wonk, and Michael Moore…which one of these things is not like the other?

      1. Lou Anton

        Moore made the film Sicko in 2007, highlighting the absurdity of the current system. The climax of the film showed him taking 9/11 first responders on a boat to Cuba for nationalized health care for which they were rejected or could not afford in the US. The man is credible when it comes to Medicare for All.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        I felt the bathos there as well. But my first thought was that if this show gets any traction, the first complaints will laser in on the ‘lack of balance’: “Where’s the obligatory suit to say ‘welfare cheats, etc.? *You did not respect the BINARY CHOICE!!11!!*”

        Although, there is Warren, we’ll see. /shrug

  9. drumlin woodchuckles

    That article about San Frisco mega-commutes goes well with the article about the hammering in our heads. How much gas are those San Friscopoids burning with each drive into work and each drive back home? How much carbon are they skydumping?

    To solve that isolated little problem in its own terms, the California legal and environmental establishment could either permit the building of millions of Hong Kong style hamster cages for all the exiled-to-suburbia workers to live in next to their work, or they could get every one of those commuters into a hybrid electric car, or they could build a network of commuter railroad lines serving all those suburban exile commuters to get them all from their homes to their jobs and back again.

    A first step towards focusing the rage and hate of all those commuters towards politically actionable understanding might be to start referring to San Francisco as NorCal’s social class Johannesburg and to all the sububan exile neighborhoods as social class Sowetos.

    1. Tim

      This is all rich with irony, because the bay area still has significant amounts of land, you just can’t build on any of it because of how it was zoned by the environmentalists in the government.

      1. Craig H.

        I thought the open spaces preservation was a cover story to constrict supply on land that could be sold for development. Those laws are written to maximize money for power people. The deer and raccoons and mountain lions and eagles and skunks love it but that was not the intended consequence.

        1. Arizona Slim

          If the skunks love it, so do I. To the point where I’d rather not have a home anywhere near *their* neighborhood.

        2. JBird

          Not quite. It’s really beautiful and without the parks we would be like LA. There was massive development already planned which would have destroyed much of the remaining forest. A bigger problem is the lack of dense housing. Even moderately sized apartments along with more public transportation would help. It wouldn’t be that hard. But too many don’t want the unwashed living anywhere near them and the expansion of public transportation like BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) for the same reason. They’re selfish, short-sighted narcissists who have done much harm.

        3. John Wright

          In the area I live in, Sonoma County, north of SF, the voters approved an additional sales tax that is used to buy up land for preservation.

          These voters liked the idea of preserving open space and were willing to pay for this.

          If one looks at LA county, most was of it was developed with little open space land preservation and prices/rents eventually went high anyway.

          But it was not always so.

          There is a 1971 Neil Diamond song with the lyrics featuring low rents in LA

          “L.A.’s fine, the sun shines most the time
          And the feeling is “lay back”
          Palm trees grow and rents are low
          But you know I keep thinkin’ about
          Making my way back”

          The CA housing market has people advocating contradictory goals: one, housing is a good investment that should increase in price YOY, two, affordable housing is a desired societal goal and three, high density housing is good for other people, but a single family home is “the American dream”.

          One can wonder if CA already has too many people to be supported by the environment long term as Mother nature recently has thrown droughts and wildfires against the state.

          There is one way that recently made CA housing more affordable for a period, as shown about 10 years ago, a recession.

          In fact, yesterday I chatted with a realtor who stated that she is waiting for the next recession to make housing more affordable for her.

    2. perpetualWAR

      This is exactly like the Puget Sound, where the majority of workers endure 1+ hour commutes.

      Thankfully, I’m leaving soon….but not soon enough.

    3. cnchal

      . . . How much carbon are they skydumping?

      Twenty pounds per gallon of gasoline burned. So about eighty to a hundred pounds of CO2 per day per car.

      1. tegnost

        twenty pounds per gallon…holy crap I had no idea…seems like it may defy some physical laws, isn’t a gallon +/- 8lbs (don’t know if gas and water weigh the same)

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              You are correct. Every molecule of carbon dioxide contains two oxygen atoms attached to the one carbon atom. That is why they call it carbon DIoxide.

              I say “carbon skydumping” because it is easiest to say and most evocative of the reality. And everyone knows you can’t spell “carbon dioxide” without “carbon”.

        1. JeffC

          The last time I tried to work it out, I came to roughly a ton of CO2 per 100 gallons of gasoline. Your mileage may vary.

          I find it useful to think of a hydrocarbon chain in gasoline as a stack of layers, each comprising a carbon atom and a pair of attached hydrogen atoms, in my fevered imagination sticking out to the left and right from the carbon. There are also extra hydrogen atoms at the top and bottom of the stack, but let’s ignore those. In combustion each of those left/right hydrogen atoms gets replaced with an oxygen atom to make each layer into a CO2 molecule. (The hydrogen atoms in pairs hook up with oxygen to make water.) Oxygen is way heavier than hydrogen, so the total CO2 output is heavier than the original gasoline. The total carbon, however, is not, as all the emitted carbon was in the gasoline to start with.

          Not a chemistry major, so this is the high-school handwavy version at best!

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            The funny thing is, that we should all be boggling about how effectively it absorbs infrared. But that hasn’t been cool since the early 1800s.

            Perhaps we should put some thought into getting people to think about what the temperature at the equator would be without our current CO2 load?

        2. Kurtismayfield

          You have to remember that the source of the O2 in CO2 is the air.. so out of the 9.1 kg (sorry prefer to discuss mass not weight) of CO2 73% of the mass is from the O2 in the air. So it’s really adding 5.4 lbs of Carbon for every gallon. Which is still nothing to sneeze at.

  10. Tim

    I think the Ring thing is really dangerous. Not only to be able to have your own door hacked but…

    FYI I noticed a massive abandoned Sony plant in an upscale job shop area near my work that is now an Amazon warehouse/hub.

    The only way to tell is a small sign in the grass for the Amazon new hires.

    The back lot is full of unmarked white vans, well some say “Enterprise” (the rental car company) on them. There are even a few vans that still have Amazon on them but they are older.

    The really interesting part is the way these drivers drive. These aren’t careful UPS drivers, they are redlight running, 10 miles over the speed limit flying around drivers who apparently have a different incentive structure than the UPS and USPS drivers. And the numbers are growing exponentially.

    I think it is a gig economy style deal for the workers.

    So we are supposed to let people who apparently have no accountability to the company for the way they drive to also walk right into your house when your not there or even worse, when you are?

    And Amazon clearly doesn’t want any publicity about their delivery methods which are adding significantly to existing congestion with unsafe drivers.

    It’s only a matter of time before it reaches critical mass and everybody notices and gets angry about it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The back lot is full of unmarked white vans, well some say “Enterprise” (the rental car company) on them. There are even a few vans that still have Amazon on them but they are older.

      > The really interesting part is the way these drivers drive. These aren’t careful UPS drivers, they are redlight running, 10 miles over the speed limit flying around drivers who apparently have a different incentive structure than the UPS and USPS drivers. And the numbers are growing exponentially.

      That’s an excellent data point. Can you say what city you’re in?

    1. visitor

      Only temporarily, while they “fine-tune” the robot to work faster.

      Strike that, they are actually fine-tuning the environment, that is, the human workers:

      Cali Burger said it was also working with staff to show them the best way to prepare and place the raw patties and other ingredients in its burgers to ensure Flippy works as fast as possible.

      Anthony Lomelino, head of technology at Cali Burger, told USA Today that kitchen staff needed to learn to “choreograph” their movements around the motions of the mobile, spatula-fitted arm which Flippy uses to cook.

      Not that surprising historically. For all the bombastic forecasts about “intelligent servants”, from speech-driven “home pods” through cooking robots to self-driving cars, it is the human beings who must adapt their way of working to the mechanical contraptions — not the other way around.

      This being said, one of the advantages of robots is not necessarily that they are faster than human beings, but that they are much more consistent (they do not tire, get distracted or stop for breaks), which makes it easier to organize a work flow thanks to a stable throughput.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I have adapted myself to my computers, online experiences, self-service gas stations, etc.

        I live in constant fear that if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be fit, and I wouldn’t survive.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > “choreograph” their movements around the motions of the mobile, spatula-fitted arm which Flippy uses to cook.

        Holy moley. So, mechanical metal arms flying through the air that you’ve got to dodge? This is 1840’s British “dark satanic mills” stuff. “Just make sure you don’t get any loose pieces of clothing caught in the giant turning iron gears, and you’ll be fine.” Safety last!

  11. FreeMarketApologist

    Re autonomous trucks/cars: “and it’s uncertain how these trucks will handle poor weather”

    Is nobody doing a small-scale small-scope low-speed test by putting one out in a light rain on a test track? The results might be abysmal, but at least there would be a data point. (abysmal results may also completely crash the hype market as well. This would be a bad thing?)

    1. Tim

      Of all the knocks against self driving vehicles I don’t see the driving of the cars in bad weather as the issue, as in the software and mechanicals. They will perform far better than any human could (ABS, stability control systems).

      The real issue is sensor maintenance, and visibility, which will require redundancy and integrated environmental control systems to keep them functional in all weather.

      I think the one area that will take the longest for self driving cars to work in is the scenario of getting from downtown NYC to Kennedy Airport. You can’t do it without reading driver habits, facial expressions, give and take, aka significant social interaction to claim your space one interchange at a time. Self driving cars that put conservative safety first would just park at the first interchange and never move again.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        “You can’t do it without reading driver habits, facial expressions, give and take, aka significant social interaction to claim your space one interchange at a time.”

        This is another one of those areas that may be much harder to address than it first appears.

        For example, you’re a pedestrian wanting to cross the street at a four-way stop intersection. An approaching robot car stops in front of you and you wonder, Does it see me? Does it realize I want to cross? If I step in front of it to cross is it going to wait?

        The answer seems easy enough. Program the robot car to comunicate that is is safe to cross. But how? Flash its lights, honk its horn? Perhaps the best solution would be to outfit robot cars with an exterior sign that could illuminate a message such as “Safe to Cross.” But even that isn’t an easy answer, as described in the article Making Driverless Cars Safe for Pedestrians on phys.org:

        “The appearance of these signs is also important. If a message like “safe to cross” is to be read clearly at 100 feet – the standard for our current stationary crossing signals – the letters will need to be at least six inches high. That would require putting them on a screen nearly four feet wide. If they’re on moving vehicles, the messages would likely need to be even larger.”

        I guess the ultimate answer would be to tell the pedestrian to get off his or feet and call and Uber robot car.

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        Sensors. Mud Season. Southerners may notice that three foot high gray patina on everything near the road more than the locals.

  12. JohnnyGL

    That quote from above (reprinted below) is remarkable. Mr. Mulholland of the DNC since 1992 is HORRIFIED at the idea of the concept of EQUALITY actually being implemented. This is what we’re up against. It’s gonna be a long fight, but we must win it.

    One DNC member from California, Bob Mulholland, circulated a memo late Wednesday night ahead of the meeting outlining his opposition to the idea. “I understand that one proposal before the DNC Rules Committee is to deny uncommitted Delegates (Members of Congress, DNC Members, Governors, former Presidents and DNC Chairs) the RIGHT TO VOTE in our presidential nominations at our National Conventions, on the first vote,” the memo begins. “In other words, Presidents Obama, Clinton, and Carter would be told they cannot vote for our next President and they would be escorted to the nosebleed section of the arena.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It reveals itself as a corporation, and corporations usually give more votes to those who own more shares, and not one-person-one-vote. That’s a feature, not a bug.

      What this says is that the party must be re-organized (or re-chartered…lawyers can help here), so it’s no longer a corporation, but a co-op.

    2. WobblyTelomeres

      Someone needs to suggest to Mr. Mulholland that if Messieurs Obama, Clinton, and Carter want their “RIGHT TO VOTE”, that they should first exercise their “RIGHT TO RUN” for a delegate position. Harrumph.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will Mr. Mulholland of California do enough to have a street named after him?

        1. Ed Miller

          Taken by one of his ancestors. Mulholland Drive. Not knowing better, I am assuming you are not familiar with LA. Apologies if I am wrong and it’s snark.

  13. jmkiru

    with respect to @downwithtyranny, I suspect there’s no learning to be done here. To quote Steve Martin from Leap of Faith:

    Look, I run a show here. It’s a lot of smoke and noise and it’s strictly for the suckers. I’ve been pulling one kind of scam or another since I was your age, and if there’s one thing I know it’s how to spot the genuine article because that’s what you’ve got to watch out for. Not the cops, you can always get around the cops. But the one thing you can never, ever get around is the genuine article, and you, kid, are the genuine article.

    Replace Cops with Voters, and you get the idea. On some level, they know what they’re doing. Actual Progressives (genuine articles) getting elected will bring an end to the long con.

  14. Jen

    On Warren dissing the bailout caucus Dems. This, among the replies on the twitter:

    “A lot of those red state Dems went along with a shutdown over DACA. That was a tough vote for them b/c they have no DACA constituency and their states are more aligned w/Trump’s immigration views. If you show them up, they won’t show up the next time we need their vote.”


    When have they ever showed up?
    And boy, they really stuck to their guns on that government shutdown, didn’t they.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Why on earth would I respect a politician for following the direction of the party leadership over his/her constituents? That’s a “tough vote”?

      If the citizens of whatever state don’t want their reps to vote for DACA, they probably shouldn’t vote for DACA. If pols did what voters wanted most of the time, it’d solve a lot of the problems that this country is in. That’s kind of how democracy is supposed to work.

  15. dcblogger

    Hernandez was a big supporter of single payer health care, O’Rourke has not co-sponsored HR676 Medicare for All. Politicians and pundits keep underestimating the appeal of single payer.

    1. edmondo

      Laura Moser didn’t support it either and she got an endorsement from Our Revolution because her husband collected checks from Bernie 2016, Things are starting to stink a bit with Senator Sanders.

  16. Lee

    M&B Metal Products Co. Inc. says the tariffs may call into question its plans to upgrade its Alabama factory that makes clothing hangers.”

    I’m 110% for more U.S. manufacturing jobs but wire hangers wreck your clothes. Such hard won wisdom results from most of my clothing being about the same age as my adult children

  17. ewmayer

    When AIs, coupled with auto-correct engines, write the news (or it may have been an RS, a “real stupid”, coupled with an ACE) … had a gander at the BTC summary page over on Yahoo Finance just now, lead article in the the news section opens with “The viscous selloff in bitcoin has even the biggest bulls scratching their heads.” (Which is stupid on multiple levels, since the “biggest bulls” are by definition the folks least execting a selloff.)

    Q: What’s the difference between a vicious and a viscous rumor?
    A: Both are nasty, but the latter ted to spread more slowly.

  18. lyman alpha blob

    Interesting to see how new words enter the language. I don’t think there is any love lost between Jim Hightower and the Bush family, but do note this –

    …Jim Hightower, an Our Revolution Board member, said: ‘The voters of Texas showed they are the only deciders in the race to represent them in Congress.’

    I hesitate to call ‘decider’ a neologism as that implies intent to create something new and W spit that one out as part of his regular bafflegab, but I do recall that at the time he was widely mocked for being grammatically challenged upon its first utterance. Now it’s become part of the vernacular, even among his fiercest critics (although Hightower may have used it deliberately, tongue in cheek). I’ll admit to catching myself saying it on more than one occasion…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Perhaps the point he is making is Bush and the DCCC/DNC share some similarities (makes sense, given that liberal Democrats are peddling Bush nostalgia to appeal to suburban Republicans).

  19. Hank in Propane

    TX 32 Runoff in Dallas County a field of 7 to oust Pete Sessions
    Collin Allred 38% $542,000 $35 per vote
    Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of General Counsel

    Lillian Salerno 18% $431,000 $58 per vote
    Deputy Undersecretary for Rural Development in the Obama administration

    Ed Meier 13% $900,000 for 5400 votes $148 per vote to come in 4th
    Senior Advisor in the U.S. Department of State in the Obama Administration and the Director of Policy Outreach for Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign

    The per vote count assumes they spent the money they had on hand in February

    I went to a forum with the 5 of the candidates a few weeks a ago didn’t learn a thing, seemed like they were all the same person though Salerno said a few things under her breath a couple of times disparaging big business, I was leaning toward her because of a few things I read about her and antitrust issues

    I spied that writer Michael Lewis made a contribution to Salerno, something about that guy he’s too interesting and I don’t like interesting people, but he has a knack for good subjects. Salarno also had a few professors contributing, Allred’s had more lawyers of the two in the runoff

    TX Senate District 8 Republican
    2 candidate spent 9 million for 60,000 votes so $150 per vote in Collin Co ,North DFW for a damn state senate seat, I think they are in session for like 7 months every 2 years

  20. PKMKII

    Very zen update there.

    On vulnerable Blue Dog senators: Who in their right mind would hold up Donnelly as any sort of example for how to win a Senate seat? He completely lucked out into his win, as his opponent’s rape comments went beyond the pale even for Hoosiers. Although I suppose that makes him emblematic of the Democratic strategy of the times, depending on Republicans putting up people just too kooky and winning on the resulting disgust.

  21. PeterVE

    They found Ice VII inside a diamond? We’re getting into Cat’s Cradle territory here.

  22. Darthbobber

    Sanders is on pretty safe ground with the Feinstein nonendorsement (state democratic convention didn’t endorse her) and the Illinois primary intervention (Gillibrand and other libs/feminists had already piled on against the incumbent).

    The Illinois race is one where even the tpm “pragmatic” Blue Dog apologists see a primary challenge as in order, since the district has a huge democratic tilt and the sole GOP candidate is a white supremacist fruitcake.

  23. Darthbobber

    If the turnout figures in the tweet the Intercept links to on tx 7th district are accurate, the measure of DCCC toxicity is pretty high. Apparently Fletcher beat Moser by 19 points in absentee voting and 7 in early voting but they were about dead even in election day voting. Westin led Moser by 5 percent in the absentees but she beat him overall by 5.

    If the Texas Labor Fed now comes in hard for Moser, that gives the DCCC an interesting choice to make. Hope Moser has good wiper blades. I’d say there’s mud in the forecast. Will be amusing to see them formally make it explicit that some nebulously progressive rhetoric plus an our revolution endorsement suffices to make a candidate persona non grata in their ideal of the party, but a literal career as a professional union-busting attorney does not.

    Have they considered going to a Bolshevik central committee model coupled with a ban on organized factions other than the cc majority itself? They can call it people’s democracy.

    1. edmondo

      Can someone tell me how Laura Moser became a hero to the progressive left? Her positions – excuse me, “values” – read like gibberish Ready for Hillary 2016 all over again.

      1. Darthbobber

        As far as I can see, the dccc did it for her. Though she may well sound more forthright in person. She wouldn’t be the first or the hundredth candidate I’ve seen whose website and printed literature was unbelievably squishy but who was actually considerably less so than that. I have difficulty seeing how her “official” positions would render her “unelectable” by dccc standards, so I suspect it was the Our Revolution connection. Of course now that its down to a two donkey race the mere fact that Moser did not choose to make her career as a professional union-busting shyster would make her the less objectionable candidate to me.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          If we could just cudgel the the DCCC into swatting the candidates we like, and endorsing those we don’t.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes, her site is pretty awful.* Perhaps there is something like “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” going on. (Which is crazy, because the enemy of my enemy can still be my enemy.)

        That said, I don’t really know what “a hero to the progressive left” means. I’m perfectly happy to have somebody slightly less awful than Fletcher nobble the DCCC and the Emily’s List crowd. I think most on the left are perfectly capable of distinguishing real heroes from candidates like Moser.

        * Nothing on issues, as the DNC recommends. All bio and values.

        1. ambrit

          The question in my mind here is who assumes the mantle of ‘Thought Leader’ or ‘Vanguard’ for all those ‘low information’ voters who can swing an election, either way. If “Real Left” mouthpieces can present a coherent and likeable narrative to the public, then ‘change you can believe in’ is truly possible. If the nomenklatura get to control the narrative, expect more of the same, with eventual displays of “a thousand points of light,” coming from the torchlight gleaming off of polished pitchfork tines as the mob rushes in.
          My flutter in guillotine futures is looking better and better since the steel tariff will raise the price of the finished product, steel being the ‘cutting edge’ innovation of guillotines, and demand looks to be riding one of those ‘hockey stick’ shaped demand curves. Of course, timing is everything.

          1. Wukchumni

            For what it’s worth dept:

            On a population basis, more came undone in the smaller cities, versus Paris.

            1. Lambert Strether

              I believe that the Jacobin base was provincial lawyers who came to Paris. Then they went back home…

    2. Lambert Strether

      > If the turnout figures in the tweet the Intercept links to on tx 7th district are accurate, the measure of DCCC toxicity is pretty high. Apparently Fletcher beat Moser by 19 points in absentee voting and 7 in early voting but they were about dead even in election day voting.

      That’s a very interesting point; far more interesting, being based on data and focusing on institutions, that the question below of how Moser came to be a “hero” of the left, if indeed she did.

  24. Lee


    Texas Waitress Who Cut Food for Diner Gets $16K Scholarship
    U.S. News & World Report
    . An unfortunate headline. She did not reduce the elderly man’s portion but cut his ham for him as he was unable to do so.


    Gunman takes 3 hostage at Yountville veterans home
    SFGate 3m ago.

    Current reports have it that the gunman is a veteran suffering from PTSD who was denied services. Reminds one of a bumper sticker one rarely sees lately for some odd reason that reads: “Support Mental Health or I’ll Kill You”.

  25. Amfortas the Hippie

    on the usnews medicaid article:
    Yes. It is hardly easy to “get on medicaid”.
    or “on disability”.
    They make it all but impossible.
    It took me six and a half years, with every doctor(even their own) saying..”yup…you’re disabled”, and going through the whole disability process 4 times(all the way to the TV Judge), until they told me I was no longer eligible because my credits had withered away because i had been out of work for six years because I was frelling disabled.
    I gave up at this point, and SSI caught me in it’s tattered net out of the blue…but I still had too many assets(broken down trailer house in a pasture that the local taxman said was worth $16K, had to pretend to sell it at that price)>
    Add in that the default assumption whenever one attempts to access these Social Insurance Programs(that we pay into with every pay check) is Suspicion, contempt and the belief that you must be some kind of criminal…and the whole thing is Fubar…by design, no less.
    and while I am grateful to finally get a hip replacement, medicaid sucks so bad that specialists dropped it in droves…I got in under the wire with the Hip Guy.
    I’ll just have to learn to live with the ennervated bag of gravel(ankle) and the knees and the back, because no relevant specialists in Texas accept my “insurance”,lol.(Yes, I cold called all ankle guys in Texas).
    I understand that these programs save many lives, and make many lives better(mine is, after the hip), but does it really hafta be so cruel and unusual? so Kafkaesque? and so crappy and complicated for the doctors?
    I fear that trump and the gop(with dem help, of course) will add many more flaming hoops to jump through, and that I’ll end up with no healthcare(like my wife), and that will be that.
    This is not the sort of civilisation I wanted to leave my boys.

    1. JBird

      Amfortas, I can understand. Three years here. Oh, I had such good times. Five offices, four cities, and two states my case files wandered about. My doctors, their doctors. Tests in three different counties. My decades of records. All in agreement. My health was wonderfully not helped. Maybe “they” thought it would? However, I was approved! This is after all, the Blue state of California, which is one of the better states, and not Texas that wretched Red state.

  26. Daryl

    > UPDATE TX: “Primaries Turn Texas a Deeper Shade of Red”

    This is why I’m pretty lukewarm on all the Democratic primaries. We’re missing the part where lots of incumbents get primaried. Of course the so called “Tea Party” has always had massive corporate backing, which leftists don’t.

  27. XXYY

    Re. https://www.buzzfeed.com/rubycramer/democrats-are-weighing-a-proposal-to-eliminate?utm_term=.fxmMrrNnb#.er0xzz9Rq

    “Thus, the proponents of this absurd and undemocratic idea are deliberately trying to mislead people,” Mulholland writes. “This proposal means that every Democrat, whether a member of Congress or a DNC member or a governor, would be physically blocked from voting for a presidential nominee.”

    So giving one person the same number of votes as the population of an entire congressional district is “democratic” and giving them one vote like their fellow citizens is “undemocratic.” Great Newspeak.

    Another “reform” (if I may be so bold) would be to prohibit unbound superdelegates from declaring who they are going to vote for until after they actually vote at the convention. This was a big part of the damage from the system in 2016: the votes of “committed” superdelegates were conflated ahead of time in the media with the totals of popularly elected delegates, creating a sense of inevitability and discouraging voters from coming out (the whole idea, of course). This would also put pressure on the superdelegates to support the popular candidate at the convention since it would take a lot of balls to overthrow the popular choice.

  28. XXYY

    “Amazon splurges on Ring, hopes smart doorbells bolster in-home deliveries” [Ars Technica]. “Ring could help Amazon bolster customer confidence in Amazon Key: Ring’s smart video doorbell uses an embedded camera to let users see who’s at their door (via Ring’s mobile app) and a speaker/mic system to allow the user and the guest to communicate.”

    Security alert! Let’s hack into this data stream somewhere so the “user” sees a nice Avon lady or UPS driver “guest” and then obligingly opens the door to a friendly crew of burglars. For that matter, the burglar can just wear a UPS driver shirt and hat and win unattended access to the house.

    I am providing this skilled analysis at no charge to Amazon.

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