2:00PM Water Cooler 3/2/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Madman Theory?

“President Donald Trump next week is set to finalize tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, setting the United States down an uncertain path in its relationship with trading partners” [Politico]. “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Trump’s decision ‘a blatant intervention to protect U.S. domestic industry’ under the guise of national security. He said he would submit a proposal in the next few days to hit back at the U.S…. The timing of the announcement also embarrassed Mexico and Canada, longtime allies and trading partners that are in the midst of the seventh round of talks with the U.S. to renegotiate NAFTA.”

“The tariffs Mr. Trump announced of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum mark some of the steepest protections the U.S. has imposed in years… Mr. Trump says they’re aimed at protecting national security and reviving American producers he says have been battered by years of unfair trade” [Wall Street Journal]. “The curbs could hit imports from countries including Canada, South Korea and Brazil. [T]hey’re likely to ripple across the U.S. economy, hitting manufacturers of goods from jets and cars to beer cans that already have been coping with higher commodity prices. Some countries already are warning of retaliation, but a bigger concern is that actions could fracture a global trading system built up over decades under the World Trade Organization.”

“Trump steel tariffs to hit these 8 countries the hardest — and China isn’t one of them” [MarketWatch]. “The U.S. already imports four times as much steel as it exports, and imports are on the rise again. While the U.S. imports steel from more than 100 countries, three-quarters come from just eight countries, according to the International Trade Organization. The top supplier to the U.S. in 2017 was Canada, followed by Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Russia. Other notables include Turkey, Japan and Taiwan.”

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?



“Bernie Sanders’ Single-Payer Message Won’t Fly” [RealClearPolitics]. A compendium of conservative talking points that liberals will no doubt find very useful.


“Trump, GOP Fall Back to Earth” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “Historic midterm voting patterns combined with national, state, and district-level polling data and off-year election results are combining to make a strong case for a classic midterm wave—obviously not what Republicans want to see. But district boundaries and natural population patterns provide at least some degree of protection for House Republicans. Similarly, in the upper chamber, the states that have Senate seats up tilt the playing field decidedly toward Republicans… There is no question that passage of the tax-cut bill in late December was a huge shot in the arm for Republicans…. The hope among Republican officials and strategists is that the enthusiasm among GOP voters for the tax measure would be contagious, and help among the 7 in 10 voters who identify as independents or Democrats. But polling over the past two weeks suggests that the boost for President Trump and Republicans was relatively contained and short-lived.”

TX: “The districts in Texas, and the women running in them, are relatively diverse. Gina Ortiz Jones, an Iraq veteran and former Obama administration official, is running in a perennial swing district that includes 800 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border. Lawyer Lizzie Pannill Fletcher and activist and journalist Laura Moser are running in the primary to face Rep. John Culberson in a district outside Houston that is considered a critical target for Democrats. Lillian Salerno, a small business owner, is running to challenge Rep. Pete Sessions in a north Dallas district. All of these women face crowded primaries and multiple other well-funded, credible candidates” [RealClearPolitics]. “Clinton won each of those districts narrowly, even though the Dallas and Houston districts are longtime Republican strongholds. Candidates and party strategists argue that to repeat that success, they’ll need to court independent and moderate voters, particularly women, who are opposed to Trump. ‘If we’re looking for a path to victory, it makes sense to get on the path that worked last time,’ Fletcher told RCP.” W-e-l-l-l. “the path that worked last time” would be the Clinton campaign of 2016, with a candidate who wasn’t awful, and an appeal to the ~70K working class voters in flyover states who flipped to Trump from Obama (“change versus more of the same”). That appeal would be simple: #MedicareForAll, or support for unions. That would be a simple and very conservative play. But the Democrats aren’t “repeating that success” at all. What they’re doing instead — with the help of the intelligence community and the liberal press, to the extent those are separate entities, at this point — is fomenting a Red Scare, fomenting a War Scare, doubling down on identity politics, kicking the left, and standing up Blue Dogs. They have also institutionalized nothing to expand the electorate, despite project onesies and twosies. This strategy deserves to fail so much it could very well succeed.

IL: “Nancy Pelosi Just Endorsed a Congressman Who Opposes Abortion and Gay Rights” [Mother Jones]. Calm down. How is Pelosi supposed to stop #MedicareForAll without the Blue Dogs?

2016 Post Mortem

“Accusation in a Mirror” [Kenneth L. Marcus, SSRN]. “Essentially, accusation in a mirror (AiM) is a common technique for inciting genocide by accusing one’s intended victims of precisely the crimes that one intends to commit against them. This article argues that the usage of this common genocidal technique should satisfy the directness requirement for incitement to genocide under international law.” Well, genocide is an extreme application. But that the psychological mechanism is named and arguably presentable in a court of law is interesting.

Obama Legacy

“Obama Foundation Scholars”:

“The program will build lasting relationships among emerging leaders who are committed to working together to solve the most pressing challenges of our time, creating a global network that reaches across issues and borders. After completing the program, Obama Foundation Scholars will return to their communities and continue the important work they started in the program by implementing their own personalized action plan. They will also have an opportunity to play a role in the Obama Foundation’s efforts to inspire, train, and connect rising leaders from around the globe.”

Weird that the first program isn’t for “emerging leaders” — what a Clinton-esque phrase — who aren’t in the United States. But what struck me is the use of Obama for America’s trade dress for an Obama Foundation program. I wonder how that was worked?

New Cold War

Hoho loses his mind:

From the original VT Digger story: “Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign will pay $14,500 as part of an agreement with the Federal Election Commission over allegations that the campaign wrongfully accepted in-kind donations from an Australian political party. The complaint centered on a group of seven Australians who volunteered for the Vermont independent’s 2016 presidential bid.” So, wait, not Russians, but Australians? Seven Australians? THIS MERITS ALL CAPS? [insert “Dean Scream” joke here]. And while we’re at it: “Lots Of British People Are In The US Campaigning For Hillary Clinton.” Too bad. I was rather looking forward to the March on Melbourne. Certainly better duty than the March on Moscow.

Puerto Rico

“Puerto Rico Governor Orders Review of Hurricane Death Count” [Insurance Journal]. “Puerto Rico’s governor has announced that a team of experts at George Washington University will lead an independent, in-depth review to determine the number of deaths caused by Hurricane Maria amid accusations that the U.S. territory has undercounted the toll. The team, led by the dean and an epidemiologist of the university’s school of public health, expects to have a preliminary report in three months and a final report in one year…. Goldman said the team will review all deaths from September until the end of February, relying on death certificates in addition to possible funeral home and hospital visits and interviews with family members and doctors. The team also will review mortality records from the past 10 years to calculate possible excess deaths and analyze the process that Puerto Rico used to count victims. She said the type of research her team will be doing could lead to an improved U.S. model for estimating deaths after a disaster.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Dark Money Basics” [Open Secrets].

“Fear and Loathing in Cascadia” [The Baffler]. “Today, Cascadian iconography is deeply engrained in the Pacific Northwest’s liberal, hipster culture. Responsibly sourced coffee roasters and craft beers “brewed on site” incorporate Cascadia’s name, its flag’s insignia, and its devotion to all things locally sourced. The Cascadian flag is flown at gay pride parades, Occupy protests, and by Portland Timbers soccer fans. Yet this liberal spirit veils the Cascadia brand’s nationalistic undertones. In 2009, Hopworks beer released Secession Cascadian Dark Ale. As expected, the beer was organic, sustainable and handcrafted. Its label featured a map of Cascadia floating alone, superimposed over the Cascadian flag. The clear message, literally bottled up and presented as a hipster product, was that Cascadia could be its own country.”

“The Void Stares Back” [Jacobin]. “Rising abstention and alienation suggests that the political choices on offer are not enough to motivate people to pay attention and vote. As for anti-political hostility: ‘as Alexis de Tocqueville once observed in the case of the old French aristocracy, it is easy to breed contempt for those who continue to claim privileges on the basis of functions they no longer fulfill.’ Indifference or hostility to conventional politics is not confined to those outside the system, but expressed in the media, among technocrats, and by elected officials themselves. The predominant flavor is the centrist disdain for both partisanship and populism, where root problems are identified as dysfunctional pandering to ideological party bases and irresponsible promises to voters. Nowhere is this stronger than in the parties themselves, where electoral logics have thrown up centrist leaders who must resist their popular base as well as the opposition.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment, February 2018 (Final): “Consumer sentiment, at 99.7, ended February roughly at the mid-month reading and well above January’s 95.7” [Econintersect]. “The tax cut appears to be the driver of the optimism and was quantified in yesterday’s personal income & outlays report where personal taxes fell 3.3 percent in data for January…. Consumer confidence remains a standout feature of the economic data, in contrast to actual consumer spending which has been more moderate than robust.” Quel scandale, that “in contrast to actual.” And: “Final 2018 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Favorable” [Econintersect].

Personal Income and Outlays (yesterday): “About as expected, with a relatively small increase from the tax cuts, which are a one time event. And the weakness in consumption hints at those receiving the cuts having a low propensity to spend. Also, the still too low personal savings rate suggests continuing weakness” [Econoday].

Commodities: “SQM talks down lithium oversupply, says market to grow 80% a year” [Mining.com]. “Chile’s Chemical and Mining Society (SQM), one of the world’s largest lithium producer, said global demand for the white metal, a key ingredient in the making of batteries that power electric vehicles, will continue to grow at rate of roughly 80% annually in the next five years. According to chief executive officer Patricio de Solminihac, the world will need at least 50,000 tonnes of lithium a year until 2023 due to an expected increase in the use of electric vehicles and high tech devices, and the company wants to be ready to meet that demand…. ‘We truly believe in the lithium market, [which] will need more efficient projects to come on line to maintain the market equilibrium and support the development of the EVs and battery industries,’ he noted.”

Retail: “Amazon.com Inc. is starting to feel pain from a natural result of moving into the grocery business—spoilage” [Wall Street Journal]. “Investors looking at the company’s recent drive into the supermarket arena are pushing Amazon to explain how much of the food from its operations goes to waste. The demand from Green Century Capital Management, Inc. and other investors is through a request to the Securities and Exchange Commission…. and comes as Amazon is bulking up in a field where waste counts for a major cost.” Spoilage in the grocery business; who knew? More: “More investors are pushing companies to change food-waste and packaging practices that they see as a potential drag on profits in a low-margin business.” Amazon, however, has been exempt from worries about margins, no? Perhaps “the story is changing” (see below) here, too?

Retail: “KFC is topping off its supply-chain troubles in the U.K. with a new shortage crisis. The restaurant chain, which had to close many of its outlets in the country after the disastrous rollout of a new distribution contract with DHL, finally has the chickens mostly where they need to be. But the BBC reports KFC now is facing a nasty aftertaste with a shortage of gravy” [Wall Street Journal]. Dear me, what next? Rats? Kidding! More: “KFC, which has 900 restaurants in the U.K. and Ireland, last month switched its supplier contract from Bidvest Logistics to DHL, which worked with Quick Service Logistics to overhaul the company’s delivery network and consolidate much of the operation into a single distribution center. The troubled result provided a lesson in the gap between designing far-flung and fast-moving distribution networks and actually putting them into motion.”

Shipping: “Teamsters withdraw demands banning UPS use of drones, autonomous vehicles” [DC Velocity]. “Denis Taylor, who heads the Teamsters’ package division responsible for labor relations between the Atlanta-based company and the approximately 256,000 union members who handle UPS’ main business line, pulled the proposal, according to a note published yesterday on the ‘Teamsters United’ website. Teamsters United was a slate formed prior to the union’s 2016 general election largely out of dissatisfaction with the mainstream Teamster leadership…. Organized labor is typically suspicious of technological advancements for fear it will take jobs away from humans. UPS, which is moving aggressively to integrate technology across its entire operation, has made no secret of its interest in drones and has made drone testing available for public viewing. It has been more circumspect with regards to autonomous vehicles, sensitive to the direct impact their utilization would have on concerns over drivers’ job security.” Or maybe it’s not that UPS is “sensitive”; maybe it’s that robot cars don’t work.

The Bezzle: “Wells Fargo board investigates wealth and investment management unit” [Pensions & Investments]. “The board’s review, which [Wells Fargo’s 10-K filing Thursday] said is in its preliminary stages, is assessing ‘whether there have been inappropriate referrals or recommendations, including with respect to rollovers for 401(k) plan participants, certain alternative investments, or referrals of brokerage customers to the company’s investment and fiduciary services business,” the filing said.” This headline, like others, focus on “wealth and investment management,” which makes it sound like some kinda bespoke high-net-worth individual type thing. But in the text, a 401(k) rollover scam makes it sound like the little guy could be being screwed. I guess we’ll see!

The Bezzle: “Merck insider bought stock 14 minutes after no-trade warning” [The FCPA Blog]. “A former Merck & Co. executive bought shares in a company Merck was acquiring 14 minutes after a Merck lawyer warned him not to trade in the stock. Yang Xie was the director of a research unit at Merck. He settled the SEC’s charges by paying a penalty and disgorgement of about $9,000.” $9K isn’t very much, but wowsers. No conscience.

Honey for the Bears: “Sheila Bair Sees the Seeds of Another Financial Crisis” [Barron’s]. Interesting interview, well worth a read, especially on Dodd-Frank. This:

Where, then, do you see potential problems that could trigger the next crisis?

I’d keep an eye on credit-card debt. Subprime auto has been a problem for a couple years, and valuations on loans used to finance leveraged buyouts are high. Any type of secured lending backed by an asset that is overvalued should be a concern. That is what happened with housing. Corporate debt also has not gotten as much attention as it should. It is market-funded, rather than bank-funded, but the banks still have exposure. Then there’s cyber-risk. It took us so long to get around to the reforms post-crisis that we got a little behind on systemic cyber-risk, but regulators are very focused on it now.

Tech: “Facebook is not getting any bigger in the United States” [Recode]. “Pew data [shows that] Facebook growth in the U.S. has officially stalled. The good news for Facebook: Instagram is picking up some of the slack. Roughly 35 percent of U.S. adults now use Instagram, up from 28 percent in 2016.” Welp. “But oh, love’s day is short, if love decay. Love is a growing, or full constant light, And his first minute, after noon, is night.” –John Donne, A Lecture upon the Shadow

Mr. Market: “When the Story Changes, Be Alert” [Calculated Risk]. “There is an axiom in investing that when the story changes, pay attention. As an example, if a company changes their focus, reconsider your investment…. Over the last several years, the economic story has been consistent: Strong employment growth, steady economic growth (solid given demographics), low inflation, and an accommodative monetary policy – with no fiscal stimulus… But in 2018, the story is changing. We are seeing some economic tailwinds and some headwinds. Although the tax changes are poorly conceived, and mostly benefit high income earners, there should be some short term boost to economic growth. That might lead the Federal Reserve to raise rates a little quicker than anticipated…. And now the Trump administration is proposing tariffs and talking openly talking of a trade war. That is a downside risk to the economy. As economists at Nomura noted this morning: ‘A sharp deterioration in financial conditions and aggressive trade policies by the Trump administration present notable risks.’ I still think the economy will be fine in 2018, but the story is changing.”

The Fed: “Fed Changing Its Tune” [Tim Duy’s Fed Watch]. Parsing of Fedspeak, then: “Bottom Line: I don’t think this is just about three or four hikes. It strikes me as something bigger, a more fundamental change in the policy objective. I understand if you want to resist such an interpretation. We, myself included, all have a lot of ink spilled on gradualism, so there is a natural resistance to changing the story. But as I said Monday, it felt like policy expectations had been set adrift during the transition and I was looking for Powell to re-anchor those expectations. That’s what it looks like he is doing. But he is raising as many questions as he is answering. For instance, I think we need to give some extra weight to the view that 2 percent inflation is a ceiling, not a symmetric target. And now we will be talking about monetary offset. Should get interesting.”

Five Horsemen: “All five Horsemen continue outperforming the S&P 500 during the recent downdraft” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Mar 2 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s selloff drove the mania-panic index down to 31 (worry), below its Feb 9th low of 32” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. Readers will recall that I’ve been whinging about how CNN’s Fear and Greed Index is lagged, sometimes by as much as four days, and Haygood generously volunteered to create a similar index in chart form.

Mania panic index Mar 1 2018


“The man who bottled evolution” [Michigan State University Today]. “Thirty years ago, Michigan State University researcher Richard Lenski added his now-famous bacteria to 12 inaugural flasks, a process he and his team of lab technicians and students have been repeating daily ever since… That was the humble beginning of Lenski’s Long-Term Evolution Experiment—aka LTEE—which today ranks as one of the world’s longest-running science experiments…. Lenski’s bacteria grow more than six generations a day. It takes mice a year to do the same thing. On human terms, the LTEE generations span the equivalent of well more than a million years of human evolution. The long-term experiment demonstrates definitively—rather than theoretically—how new lineages arise and diverge. It confirms that evolution occurs, is ever-present and never stops. In other words, according to science writer Carl Zimmer, Lenski has done something Darwin never dreamed of: he has observed evolution in his own time.” Hmm. The gut is rather like a flask, is it not?


Uber for Health:

Class Warfare

The West Virginia wildcat teachers strike continues:

“WV Senate considers putting pay raise toward PEIA as teacher strike continues” [Charleston Gazette-Mail]. “On Thursday, one week into the statewide public school employee strike, which will continue Friday with public schools in all 55 counties closed, the West Virginia Senate pumped the brakes on a bill that would give teachers, school service personnel and the State Police a 5 percent raise. Instead, Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, sent the legislation (House Bill 4145) to the Senate Finance Committee to change it and create a long-term revenue source for Public Employees Insurance Agency health coverage.”

“Striking teachers go out of their way to make sure students have food” [Today]. “During the four-day strike, teachers throughout West Virginia went out of their way to provide students with food. Teachers and staff at Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston prepared bagged lunches to send home with their students before they hit the picket line. Others worked with local food pantries to drop food off at students’ homes.”

“‘I Live Paycheck to Paycheck’: A West Virginia Teacher Explains Why She’s on Strike” [New York Times]. Katie Endicott, 31, a high school English teacher from Gilbert, W.Va.:

What are the origins of the strike?

They told us that essentially if you weren’t a single person, if you had a family plan, your health insurance was going to rise substantially. As a West Virginia teacher — and I’ve been teaching 10 years — I only clear right under $1,300 every two weeks, and they’re wanting to take $300 more away for me. But they tell me it’s O.K., because we’re going to give you a 1 percent pay raise. That equals out to 88 cents every two days.

They implemented Go365, which is an app that I’m supposed to download on my phone, to track my steps, to earn points through this app. If I don’t earn enough points, and if I choose not to use the app, then I’m penalized $500 at the end of the year. People felt that was very invasive, to have to download that app and to be forced into turning over sensitive information.

Go365 was thrown out. Of course they decided to give a freeze [on insurance rates], and I think people thought that might be enough. But we understand that this is an election year. They can freeze it right now, but what happens after the election? The feeling is, we have to get this fixed, and we have to get it fixed now.

Maybe now there’s been a story in the Times, liberal Democrats will at least do some virtue signaling. We can but hope! The whole interview is worth a read, and dispels the image of West Virginia voters as toothless KKKers, squatting round a night-time fire, muttering: “If we’re gonna save this country, we gotta git us a Socialist Jew in the White House.”

Strike fund:

What I find fascinating is that this was pinned by a Twitter account from Montana. People are paying attention out in flyover country, even if not in the Acela Corridor.

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“Michigan schools suffer ‘critical’ bus driver shortage” [Detroit Free Press]. “Short hours, split shifts, loss of benefits. These are just some of the reasons school districts around Michigan are struggling to find bus drivers and keep them on staff, an issue that has been labeled a “critical shortage” by the Michigan Department of Education for the 2017-18 academic year.”

“What If We All Owned Tops?” [Daily Public]. “But what if, instead of just bailing Tops out, New York State purchased the foundering grocery chain outright and ran it as a public enterprise? Under public ownership, we could guarantee that union jobs at Tops are not abruptly eliminated or shipped out of the community. We could raise the minimum Tops wage to $15 per hour immediately, putting more money into the hands of local Tops workers and thus into our local economy. We could stock all the Tops stores with good food, the stuff that they usually only have at the suburban locations. While the idea of a publicly owned grocery store may sound radical at first, it is actually far more reasonable than other state-led economic development efforts in the area, with the potential for far greater public benefits.” Creative thinking from Western New York!

News of The Wired

“Twitter is asking the public to help measure how toxic it is” [The Verge]. “‘We’re committing to helping increase the collective health, openness, and civility of public conversation around the world, and to hold ourselves publicly accountable toward progress,’ the company said in its blog post today. ‘By measuring our contribution to the overall health of the public conversation, we believe we can more holistically approach and measure our impact on the world for years to come.'” So far as I’m concerned, the best thing Twitter could do is get rid of Correct the Record’s paid trolls. I think even better than that would be doing nothing. Some Twitter neighborhoods are nice; some aren’t. Don’t go to the bad neighborhoods unless you know what to expect!

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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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “It’s February, go figure!!”

Readers, thanks for all the photos! So, whether you’re from the tropics or merely anticipating mud season, we’d like to see what you’ve taken — especially if you’ve never contributed anything before!

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Arizona Slim

      And then you checked into Naked Capitalism, the blog where we learn how to weaponize our critical thinking skills!

  1. Conrad

    The Trump doctrine is simply an extension of his penchant for stiffing contractors into the realm of international trade.

    1. Arizona Slim

      One of my Tucson friends sells office supplies. A few years ago, when he was living in New York, he had the opportunity to do business with the Trump organization, but he decided not to pursue it.

      Good decision on his part, but others in his company took the Trump bait. And my friend’s company was stiffed to the tune of $60k.

  2. marku52

    The lesson of Smoot Hawley is pretty straight forward: Don’t start a trade war if you are running a trade surplus.

    Since the US hasn’t had a surplus in 30 years, I think a trade war might be in order. 30 years ago would have been better, but what the hey.

    One of the few positive outcomes of the last election cycle is that some things are just too blindingly false for a politician to say anymore.

    One is “The US has the best healthcare system in the world.”

    The other is “This free trade pact will bring good paying jobs to this community.”

    1. Scott

      Smoot Hawley also had average tariffs more than twice as high as Trump is proposing for steel.

      On a different note, there’s a lack of any actual evidence by opponents of Trump’s actions.

    2. John k

      Yes, importer in drivers seat. GD was terrible for big exporter, that was us, not as bad for European importers.
      China doesn’t mind weaker dollar so much, they export less but get more dollars. A tariff is another matter, they export less and get fewer dollars… treasury makes profits.
      They will threaten to buy airbus, response is tariff on all imports.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The message is clear and many elites will not like it.

        And this is the message – free trade is not all good.

        But no one can ever defame, ever say anything bad at all about free trade, not even the slightest, not even any negative hints.

        Usually any threat is wiped out preemptively.

        And should it come to this stage or phase, massive retaliation with massive destruction power, can be expected, so that no one dares to whisper it again.

    3. djrichard

      Technically, it wasn’t so much a trade surplus as it was balanced trade during the 1930s. But I think your point applies regardless. At the time, Smoot Hawley resulted in less imports, meaning less US currency going out the door to buy foreign goods. That means less US currency to be repatriated back to buy US goods and services. Ta dah, less exports by the US. Our trading partners didn’t even need to counter with a tariff for this to happen; it happens naturally, to maintain the equilibrium.

      But the equilibrium now isn’t the same as back then. Our trading partners haven’t been repatriating all our currency back to the US for goods and services for awhile. That which isn’t repatriated into goods and services is instead repatriated into bonds and equity (foreign direct investment). So if we reduce imports, that still means there’s less currency that needs to be repatriated. But the trading partners have a choice:
      – do they reduce repatriation into US goods and services?
      – or do they reduce repatriation into US equity and bonds?

      1. marku52

        Yes, it was an odd but actually useful feature of the gold backed currency days that you simply could not run a trade deficit for long. So much gold would leave the country that the value of the deficit currency would adjust down until trade balanced again. Running a deficit for 30 years like the US has done (or running a surplus for 30 years, as other countries have) was completely impossible.

        But now with fiat currencies, and exchange rate rigging with bond purchases, it is possible for a mercantilist country to steal the industry of a country dumb enough to believe that “This is such a deal–we send them paper and they send us products…”

        As some moron in the Reagan Commerce department once said “Who cares if you make computer chips or potato chips?’.

        What an idiot.

        1. djrichard

          Yes, definitely. But I’m beginning to think there was a key difference back then as well, which is that nobody was willing to use their trade surplus to buy stocks and bonds in another country. Basically, it was all about goods and services and not much else. And as you point out, it all worked because the gold-interexchange standard forced the equilibrium.

          But now the genie is out of the bottle I think. In that the “winners” in other countries (institutions and individuals) are more than comfortable holding assets in the US. So even if we went back to a gold-interexchange standard, I’m not sure if it would fundamentally change this new equilibrium.

          So now I’m wondering if we need to think of the US differently. Rather than thinking of the US as being a country that is a pump for goods and services, we need to think of the US as being a country that is a pump for stocks and bonds (debt). Because it’s that pump that is balancing out our trade and making the US attractive to our trading partners. Problem is that pumping out stocks and bonds doesn’t contribute to GDP. But that doesn’t mean somebody isn’t benefiting.

          1. marku52

            I think it would. Simply because the outflow of gold wold force the deficit currency down, making imports more expensive, and exports cheap.

            It is the manipulation of currencies through bond purchases that has broken that feedback loop. After running a deficit for 30 years, the USD should depreciate.

            But it doesn’t. I can’t see how to fix it except for tariffs..

            Your country runs a persistent deficit with the US, we implement a countervailing tariff until the deficit balances.

            Go ahead, buy bonds. Wont’ matter.

        2. djrichard

          Or maybe another way to think of it is that back then they were willing to use their trade surplus to buy assets in another country, except only one asset: gold. Nowadays, winners are willing to buy any asset. It’s just that you can’t export that asset out like you could gold. But what does it matter when there’s little to no currency risk in swapping between assets in one country for assets in another, to move your wealth around as needed. Especially with respect to having assets in the US, given practically all other countries are pegged (soft or hard) to the US dollar.

          And the US is willing to sell the winners in foreign countries as much assets as they can consume. A win/win as they say. And the US will keep pumping out more assets. So like I said, I think we need to think of US corporations differently. Such that their side biz is to pump out goods and services. And their primary biz is to pump out assets (stock and debt). Same with people, such that their side benefit is the labor they provide (in pumping out goods and services for corporations) and their primary benefit is debt they take on (which are converted to assets to be consumed by others).

    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

      Forget gun control, regulate the militia!

      Seems to me that every pistol-packing mama is a member of the militia by default. Kahki is sooo now!

      Why is the militia, and its regulation seemingly never mentioned in polemics regarding the second amendment to the constitution?

      There seems to be egregious de-coupling from the clearly stated intentions, or are large parts of the constitution a lot of old woffle that everyone can ignore with impunity?

      Pip-Pip (Ratta-Tat-Tat)!

  3. taunger

    Green Century Capital Management, Inc is likely acting as activist investor in this instance, because, they are run as subsidiary of Public Interest Network, a large activist organization with a mixed bag of characteristics.

    Spoliage is bad for bottom line, but also carbon emissions and agriculture in general. The picture they are looking at is bigger than bottom line.

  4. Raffler

    Trump’s tariff action seemed precipitous. Folly, or foily?
    Is it merely somewhat coincidental that the set of impacted countries overlaps significantly with the countries that were the Kushner manipulators? Given Trump’s past tit-for-tat or other juvenile behaviour, that does not seem to be out of the realm of possibility.

  5. dcblogger

    Cook is missing the story of the 2018 midterms, which is the Democratic primaries, given that the Democrats will control the House in 2019, who wins the primaries is the most important story. If the Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, Justice Democrats et al win their primaries there will be real change and Schumer/Pelosi will not be able to stop it.

    1. John k

      For real change we gotta get rid of both of them, Perez too.
      They’re the point of the spear protecting status quo.

      1. dcblogger

        who is we? have you any idea how difficult it is to get a 3rd party candidate on the ballot, never mind elect them?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Well . . . . in the meantime we ( bitter berners and happy sanderistas) would vote for the anti-bluedog challenger in every primary. And if the Clintobama Perez choice still won its DemParty nomination, we could vote Republican to make sure the BlueDog was defeated. And we could just keep defeating every Blue Dog in every election by voting for its Republican opponent every single time.

          In that way, we could degrade and attrit the Blue Dog DemParty establishment. We could weaken it enough to where we could exterminate it and inherit the withered husk of the Democratic Party. Then we could see if that withered husk contained parts and pieces that we could use.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I’m game.
            altho I loathe voting for goptea.
            Here, the sheriff, DA, etc are all decided in the goptea primary…have been for decades. I felt compelled a couple of three times to vote in their primary against a particularly monstrous candidate. It felt icky…and got me on the goptea’s list….decades of mail, to my mailbox and into the woodstove, because they thought I was one of theirs.
            I still get a glossy 5×9 of George and Laura every year(one only has room for so many dart boards)

            The demparty just keeps doubling down…surely there must be a bottom there, somewhere, and surely they will eventually locate it.
            an added feature of your idea is that, at some point, a threshold would be reached, and the Donors would hafta do a cost-benefit analysis. If the dems run off their base, would the Donors stick around?
            Interestingly, the last lib/prog place I hang out online has seen a dramatic rise in impassioned talk about third party, abandoning the dems, and lambasting the dnc…and the couple of CTR type trolls that I’ve seen were definitely subpar…maybe 5th string…compared with a year ago, when we were thick with them, and they had their flip-books in order.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              I agree. Voting for the GOPteas is a bitter cup of pus to have to swallow. But if we really . . . I mean REAAAALY . . . wish to exterminate the Blue Dog Clintobama DemParty from existence and wipe if off the face of the earth; then we will have to drink from the cup of pus for many years to come. We will have to walk the Road of Broken Glass all the way to its Bitter End if we hope to really truly exterminate the Blue Dog Clintobamacrats from existence.

              And until the Blue Dog Clintobamacrats are so thoroughly exterminated that they can never rise again, they will make progress impossible. They will even make survival impossible in the long run. They will have to be exterminated from public life if we hope to make any progress at all.

              And that will mean voting for GOPteas in every single election with a Blue Dog Clintobama running Democratic, until there is not one Clintobama Blue Dog left to run.

              Of course, that is just a theory. Other people will have other theories. Every person should act on the theory heeshee likes best, because that is the theory for which heeshee will do herm’s best work.

              1. pretzelattack

                we have to get rid of both parties (as presently constituted). they are ramping up the class war on the rest of us in a truly bipartisan fashion, not to mention not doing nearly enough about climate change, and fomenting wars.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If the Our Revolution, Democratic Socialists of America, Justice Democrats et al win their primaries there will be real change

      Directionally, for sure.

      Which is why the establishment/liberal Democrats are doing everything they can to stop OR et al.

      1. taunger

        I’ve been to meetings in both camps. I wish I could say I felt confident the establishment Dems will be the losing side.

          1. lambert strether

            That is indeed the $64,000 question.

            And I agree with taunger. One thing the liberal Democrsts are good at — perhaps the only thing they’re good at — is retaining control over the party machinery

    3. edmondo

      …given that the Democrats will control the House in 2019,

      I’ll take that bet. The Dems will not take the House. They are fighting last year’s wars. They are concentrating on districts carried by Ms. Clinton. However in 2016 Clinton was the safe status quo choice, not Trump. Since the election Trump has turned into the definition of conservative Republican, tax cuts for the wealthy, more MIC spending and less regulation. He’s W on steroids.

      If the Dems really want to win (Ha, Ha, I jest.) they ought to be focusing on the districts Trump carried since these are the ones most in need of the change that didn’t happen after “populist” Trump won the White House. Of course, the Dems have nothing to offer these people either.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But the Bernies may. Which is why one hopes the Bernies primary every Blue Dog Dem in every Trump district. And one hopes further ( or at least I hope further), that in those particular Districts, that if the Blue Dog wins, that the Bernies all vote Republican to MAKE the Blue Dog lose. Because you may be sure that if the Bernie wins the primary, the Blue Dog Dems WILL vote Republican to MAKE the Bernie lose.

        Some time back in the past our hosts offered the fictional case of Willie Stark asking his supporters to vote a counter-intuitive way in a particular election, in order to achieve the longer goal of exterminating the political Far Enemy. I cannot quote the relevant Willie Stark speech from memory.

        1. dcblogger

          voting Republican is always wrong, always. if the Berniecrat does not win the primary you can vote for the Green, Independent, Socialist Alternative, or whatever 3rd party is on the ballot. Or write in your own name.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, that’s a theory. And those who believe in it should act on it.

            It depends on what one believes is MOST important. If one believes that exterminating the Clintobamacrat Party is the MOST important thing, one will do anything – – including voting Republican – – to MAKE the Clintobamcrat party die step by step.

            ( Though even the Die Clintocrat Scum maximizer would make an exception for Roy Moore, I suspect. Better a Blue Dog than a Roy Moore in the Senate. But it would take a Roy Moore to get me to think that. . . . until the Clintobamas have been so nearly exterminated that a Blue Dog in the Senate would be helpless to advance its Clintocratic-Republican agenda.)

  6. Steve H.

    > Michigan schools suffer ‘critical’ bus driver shortage

    Just a couple of days ago Janet and I drove by the school district offices in our Indiana town and a sign was saying that they finally had enough bus drivers. A public-private partnership went very sour, kids waiting hours, routes not getting run… The hours are not full time, and there’s not enough time between to and fro to get another job. And the loyal grinders who still did the work knew full well they’d been sold out.

    How did they get enough drivers? They increased the pay. Who knew?

    1. ewmayer

      Yes, and if the school district (or some regional consortium thereof, for economy of scale) ran the bus service itself, it could take the money skimmed off by the for-profit ‘partner’ in the PPP and instead use it to pay the drivers a living wage, maybe offer some halfway-decent benefits, etc. Radical ‘socialist’ stuff, I know. (rolls eyes)

      1. jo6pac

        obomber shoes for today have those little spikey things on the soles;-) as he raise kickbacks for his lie-berry.

      2. pretzelattack

        he’s walking round his library, picking out the decorative scheme, but he is wearing comfortable shoes.

    1. hemeantwell

      Thanks for the strike coverage, Lambert. And you’re right to tag the slant the Times took with the interview. I was surprised, it resonated pretty well with Jacobin’s interview

      I’ve been very impressed at how 1. the teachers have local organization that is independent of the union leadership and has been strong enough to both lead in the formation of the strike and to reject the initial settlement terms 2. the teachers have been willing to include other public employees in the process. For example, in the initial strike referendum, bus drivers and school support staff got to vote. Looks like industrial unionism instead of craft unionism, and that goes back to the CIO vs. the AFL. In addition they are well-oriented to community concerns, e.g. food for the children. This is the way a union movement should operate, it’s right out of the playbook Jane McAlevey has been arguing for.

      1. bob

        The ‘hicks’ from WV are better informed, and better at speaking the truth on national issues-

        The teachers, minus their leadership, are taking HC policy to the assholes in charge.

        Before that, we had a local WV reporter run the numbers that answered the national policy question “where are the opioids coming from?” He got a Pulitzer for it.


        Lets push for the rest of the US to catch up with WV.

    2. The Rev Kev

      The way that those West Virginia teachers are being treated is nothing short of disgusting. They are supposed to be professionals – not somebody else’s ATM machines. I wish them the best. Maybe it is time for a change in tactics. I will set the scene for you. It is at the next negotiating session and the head of the teacher’s delegations enters the room. And then he says:
      “Ladies and gentlemen. It is obvious that you are not taking our concerns seriously. However, after watching Putin’s State of the Union speech we say “Now you will listen.” You want teachers armed against school shooters? Fine! May I present our new negotiating team. That is Sally with her M-16 to your left, Mike with his FN SCAR, Mary-Ann with her OTs-14 Groza of course, Mohammed with his Heckler & Koch UMP9 and you have met me before but you have not met my new friend the Steyr AUG. Now, shall we start negotiations with hopefully no extreme prejudices? Mike? Lock the door if you could be so kind.”

        1. marym

          This was what happened in California in 1967 when the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense asserted its right to open carry (then legal under state law) for the defense of their communities. The legislature passed a bill making open carry illegal, Reagan as governor signed it, and the NRA supported it.


            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              If so many Mississippi black people secretly planned to gun up in quiet stealth and then a million or more of them all Open Carry at once, in a peaceably law abiding manner; they may be so many that it will not be possible to outlaw the practice, or mass-slaughter the practitioners.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                In fact, I wonder what would happen if 10 million Black Southerners spent the next few years quietly buying AR-15s and joining the NRA. Would policing practices begin to change?

                1. JTMcPhee

                  Black cops kill civilians too. The category is “ cop with gun,” not “black in police uniform.”

            2. Oregoncharles

              Ever heard of the Deacons? Armed self-defense movement, black, in Mississippi the end of the 60s. Pretty successful – hunting is something everybody does in Miss. Open carry still legal in Mississippi.

              They didn’t flaunt it in the state Capitol, though.

              1. marym

                It would be interesting to have some examples of how legal open carry is met by the pubic and police depending on the who’s carrying and under what circumstances. Ohio is an open carry state and Tamir Rice, a child with a toy gun, was killed.

                As far as California and the Panthers, the Capitol protest was in response to a bill that was already before the legislature.

                1. ambrit

                  Here in semi-rural Mississippi, the main population of ‘Open Carry’ seen in the wild is Agents of the State. Saner people I’ve spoken with consider open carry as an invitation to a gunfight. Concealed carry, both legal and illegal, is more vexing an issue. Look for that curious bulge dead centre of the back about waist height. That and an ankle carry. Since few people still wear suits with any regularity now, shoulder holsters are now generally a form of open carry.
                  “Extremists” of all sorts and sizes are gunned up. You name it, it probably has an “Armed Struggle Cadre” attached to it today.
                  Luckily for us here, America doesn’t have too many home grown martyrs, yet.

          1. Parker Dooley

            Yes, they open-carried right into the state Capitol! (They looked like a well-regulated militia, I thought. Nobody got shot — that was later.)

            1. bob

              I’m not familiar with CA gun laws, let alone old ones.


              ‘open carry’ normally refers to handguns, not long guns. Most laws draw distinctions between the two. It’s very hard to conceal a shotgun, which would make bird hunting very difficult.

              I’d support the third leg law. If you want to carry any gun in public, you need to have a third, bright red leg sewed into your pants.

              1. bob

                Now, after finding the wiki on open carry laws, CA didn’t outlaw open carry, they made gun racism legal-


                Open carry legal in rural counties with local ordinances allowing open carry. Some of these counties issue a permit for open carry. Additionally, a person may also open carry if he or she “reasonably believes that any person or the property of any person is in immediate, grave danger and that the carrying of the weapon is necessary for the preservation of that person or property.”[17] One can expect to be detained and questioned by law enforcement in most urban areas if using the latter rationale as the basis for openly carrying a firearm in public.”

                Holding Regan up as some gun control hero? No way. Dog whistle legislation-

                ” *white* person reasonably believes that any *white* person or the property of any *white* person is in immediate, grave danger and that the carrying of the weapon is necessary for the preservation of that *white* person or property”

                1. marym

                  Thanks, I didn’t know that part of the story. Your link references a 2016 ruling. This link seems to describe the original Mulford Act (I’m not really sure, no expertise here).

                  The Mulford Act prohibited personal possession (i.e., carry) of a loaded firearm in incorporated areas (such as inside city limits) or prohibited areas of unincorporated territory without a license to carry or other exemption provided for by law.

                  At any rate, even the limitation to “incorporated areas” would seem to provide room for some discrimination as you indicate.

                  I’ll include a little more caution about how the law would be interpreted in future references to this topic.

  7. Oregoncharles

    ” The clear message, literally bottled up and presented as a hipster product, was that Cascadia could be its own country.””
    This has a long history: “Ecotopia” and, possibly even more to the point, the prequel, “Ecotopia Rising.”

    From Wikipedia: “Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston is a seminal utopian novel by Ernest Callenbach, published in 1975. The society described in the book is one of the first ecological utopias and was influential on the counterculture and the green movement in the 1970s and thereafter. The author himself claimed that the society he depicted in the book is not a true utopia (in the sense of a perfect society), but, while guided by societal intentions and values, was imperfect and in-process.[1]

    Callenbach said of the story, in relation to Americans: “It is so hard to imagine anything fundamentally different from what we have now. But without these alternate visions, we get stuck on dead center. And we’d better get ready. We need to know where we’d like to go.””

    1. Oregoncharles

      The trouble was that, instead of producing a political party, the book inspired a magazine. Literature to literature. So it had little political impact – but there’s a “Cascadia” political movement now.

      1. Paul Cardan

        A political movement? The only evidence I’ve seen of such a movement is one of those Joy Division mash-up T shirts: based on the album cover for Unknown Pleasures, it reads “Cascadia.” A good symbol, I think, since the movement is probably confined to cities in the I-5 corridor; in Oregon, mainly Portland. That city is in fact a rather weird place, an alternate reality where fans of underground music circa 1988 somehow wound up ruling the world. Want to get a haircut to the sweet sounds of Surfer Rosa (which was, let’s be honest, their only good work) while enjoying a complimentary PBR (assuming that’s possible)? PDX is the place for you, provided, of course, that you’re not put off by the abject misery on display in the city’s many, large, ever-shifting homeless encampments. All of which is my way of saying that whatever this movement currently amounts to, it’ll amount to nothing. Life just outside the cities in the PNW is very different than life within. As a matter of fact, things are quite different in smaller, suburban cities, such as Vancouver, WA, home of the arsonist mentioned in the article and a place Portlanders like to call “Vantucky.” Besides, Portlanders themselves just aren’t the types to bring off a long-term, risky project like secession. They’re much too busy with strip clubs, polyamory, and brunch to trifle with politics.

        1. marku52

          Yup. Down where we live (Medford) there is this nutso movement for the State of Jackson, where all the counties that have almost no GDP generating activities will bond together and secede.

          Dumb. There are a lot of tax revenue transfers from the economic engine of Portland/Willamette valley that keep most of the rural areas afloat.

          A lot like Alabama VS NY state.

          1. Ed Miller

            You mean State of Jefferson. I realize that Jackson County down there makes confusion easy. I am north of you near Portland. There are signs just across the California border along I-5.


            “The State of Jefferson is a proposed U.S. state that would span the contiguous, mostly rural area of southern Oregon and northern California, where several attempts to separate from Oregon and California, respectively, have taken place.”

            1. WheresOurTeddy

              NorCal here, about 2 hrs from the OR border. The State of Jefferson coming to pass would be sweet sweet justice on the reactionary conservatives that run this part of the state.

              A whole hell of a lot more money goes UP I-5 from Sacramento than goes the other direction in taxes.

              Jefferson would be one of the poorest, least employed, and most drug-addicted states in America. There’s a reason it’s called Calabama.

    2. Jen

      Maybe it would be different here in the US of A, but after all I’ve read here on NC about Greece and their inability to Grexit, whenever I read of any state or region’s aspirations to secede, my first thought is “yeah, but what will you do for currency?”

      Am I wrong to ask that question?

  8. FreeMarketApologist

    The Bezzle: Merck insider trading guy: Yup, no conscience.

    And yes, $9k isn’t much (to some, perhaps), but his profit on the trade was only $2,300, (which he had to hand over) and then he paid almost $6,700 as an additional penalty. Is a penalty of 3x profits sufficient? Discuss amongst yourselves.

    I’d like to see the same sort of penalties applied to cases like the Wells Fargo overcharges: They should repay them, and for every dollar they can’t (or don’t) repay within a limited time period, they should be charged $5 to $10 as penalty. Incentive to promptly repay the people who were harmed, and a significant disincentive to delaying payment.

    Meanwhile, “wealth and investment management” is indeed meant to sound like a special thing for the wealthy, but these days its marketed to everybody in the wrapper of “You’re special. You can be a client of our wealth and investment management group.” By associative reasoning, the client then thinks they’re wealthy, which distracts them from the fleecing they’re getting.

    1. Arizona Slim

      It is indeed a fleecing. That’s why you see so many wealthy people on discussion boards like Bogleheads. Great place to learn how to manage one’s own investments. Without the fleecing by “financial advisors.”

  9. hemeantwell

    Accusation in a mirror. But that the psychological mechanism is named and arguably presentable in a court of law is interesting.

    Ack. It’s also called projective identification, wherein instead of projecting an impulse out and losing track of it, the projecting agent — a person, a propagandizing organization — continues to be quite aware of the impulse and maintains contact with it, although it is now disowned. This is not only relevant to genocide. It is a standard component of foreign policy rationalization. It is at the heart of American Exceptionalism, right along with a self-righteous certainty that America Knows Best. We see it utilized by rags like the NYTimes every day, guided by the maxim that America is incapable of aggression, its actions are only defensive. It’s why Russia becomes a bear, to serve as an everyready, cartoonish bad guy.

    1. blennylips

      How useful that projection is, hemeantwell.

      Wanna know what our “17 agencies” are up to? Just read their accusations! Election rigging? Rooskies did it! etc, etc, etc…

  10. allan

    When I put the Obama Foundation Scholars word salad into the wordclouds.com word cloud generator,
    it came back in the shape of a dollar sign. As far as I’m concerned, their algo passed the Turing test.

  11. Chauncey Gardiner

    Re: …”Too bad . I was rather looking forward to the March on Melbourne. Certainly better duty than the March on Moscow.” —Lambert

    OMG!… The Best… Absolutely THE Best! My only concern about the former march relates to a potentially high attrition rate among the marchers, as “The March on Melbourne” will presumably be sometime during the harsh Australian winter and ‘the troops’ will likely be lured into Australians’ backyards and pubs for some “Shrimp on the barby” and a spot of Foster’s. As a result of this factor alone, I rather suspect Edward Tufte’s future graphic of the “March on Melbourne” might end up resembling Napoleon’s March on Moscow, where I presume our trusty neocon “Real Men” policy warriors will be deployed.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Just to help you guys, when you go asking the way to Melbourne, we pronounce it Mel-b’n. And for those that way inclined (to watch parades), Sydney has their annual Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade tonight which is massive. If you want to watch some spectacular fire works, just ask a bunch of blokes which is the best beer to drink – and then step back to watch the fun.

  12. Chauncey Gardiner

    WRT Trump’s tariffs, I’m sure the deep thinkers in Mnuchin’s Treasury Department have analyzed whether a current account deficit is necessary for a nation’s currency to be a global reserve currency.

  13. Lee

    “What If We All Owned Tops?” [Daily Public]. “But what if, instead of just bailing Tops out, New York State purchased the foundering grocery chain outright and ran it as a public enterprise? ….


    This group prohibits the sale of liquor in private stores, limiting it to government-owned outlets only:
    New Hampshire (sold tax-free, attracting many out-of-state customers)
    North Carolina (stores are run by individual counties and cities)

    Why not grocery stores?

    1. Aleric

      Several Minnesota cities also have only municipal-owned liquor stores, and at least one runs a profitable restaurant alongside it.

  14. Tomonthebeach

    What I found most unnerving about Markus’ treatise on AiM (accusation in a mirror) is that our current despotic ruler had continually used AiM to demonize Mexicans.

    In addition, the NRA uses AiM to alarm its members that the government intends to take away their guns, thereby justifying shoutouts with Federal law enforcement (which appear from time to time). Recall Heston’s “cold, dead, hand” admonishment – how could it be interpreted in any other way but to threaten civil war in reaction to gun control?

    1. Tom Stone

      I dunno about that, DiFi has made it clear that she’ll spend every ounce of political capital she has to “Get AR-15’s off the streets”.
      The current hysteria and near universal virtue signaling by “Liberals” on the subject is simply bizarre.
      Calling an AR-15 an assault rifle doesn’t make it one any more than calling ketchup a vegetable makes it one.
      Is also a big concern.
      In regard to a matter much less important to the average American she also made it clear that single payer is not on the table and never will be.
      This is NOT class warfare disguised as a moral issue.
      Trust me, I’m a Realtor

      1. Kilgore Trout

        The only difference between the military and civilian versions of the AR-15 is the presence of a “full- auto” switch. Assault-style weapons, whether civilian or military–were designed for one purpose only: to kill other humans. The muzzle velocity of a bullet from an AR-15 is 2–3 times that fired from a pistol or .22 rifle. Once the bullet hits flesh, it begins to tumble, and then fragment, shattering bones, destroying organ tissue. An exit wound can be the size of an orange. While it should have gone without saying that the damage an AR-15 and similar guns can inflict is far more severe than from a pistol or .22, I think the gun lobby knowingly underplayed the lethality of these weapons from the get-go. Because market$.

        1. Paul Cardan

          Yeah. The AR 15 is very similar in some respects to the first assault rifle, the StG 44. The latter was designed with a full auto option, but operators were instructed to avoid using it in that mode. It was, in practice, a heavier, less accurate AR 15.

          I believe the purpose of the assault rifle is a bit more complicated than killing lots of other people. In accordance with new tactics developed toward the end of the First World War, shock troops were taught to shoot in order to facilitate movement. High volume, accurate fire is ideal for this purpose. At the beginning of the Second World War, there were no weapons on hand well-suited to this task. That changed by the end. The Germans had them.

          Unfortunately, the same characteristics that make for a good assault rifle also make for a very efficient instrument of civilian mass murder. All the murderer need do is locate large numbers of people in a confined space with few escape routes. So, schools. Night clubs work too. If light machine guns were legal, we’d probably see them used in the same way – though less often, because they’re rather unwieldy, difficult to conceal, and impractical to use on the go. In a world where light machine guns were legal, prospective school shooters might still prefer the AR 15. But, of course, light machine guns aren’t legal because that would be crazy.

      2. MK

        It’s the pistol grip that makes people flip out. That and the styling.

        The next mass shooter could use an ordinary hunting rifle without the pistol grip to prove the inanity of an assault rifle ban.

        1. bob

          Hunting rifle?

          The normal use of that term is for a bolt action rifle with a few rounds in the gun, no removable clip.


          “The Remington Model 700 is a series of bolt-action rifles manufactured by Remington Arms since 1962.[1][2] All are based on the same centerfire bolt action.[3] They often come with a 3-, 4- or 5-round internal magazine depending on caliber”

          Both of those things would have changed the outcome of the Florida shooting a lot.

          Cycling the bolt and reloading would at least half the number of bullets flying, and therefore the potential number of victims.

        2. Parker Dooley

          Not if the “hunting rifle” had to be loaded by placing single bullets into an internal magazine, rather than with a clip. It is the ability to fire many rounds rapidly, and to reload rapidly that distinguishes these weapons, not the esthetics of their design.

  15. ewmayer

    “The man who bottled evolution” [Michigan State University Today]…. In other words, according to science writer Carl Zimmer, Lenski has done something Darwin never dreamed of: he has observed evolution in his own time.”

    Actually, Darwin derived crucial inspiration for his breakthrough synthesis from observation of human breeding practices in the animal and plant realms. While the generational time scales there are still much longer than for Lenski’s bacteria, they are short enough to discern significant changes over the course of a human lifetime.

  16. Kim Kaufman

    Interview with Nancy Maclean (Democracy in Chains) from Capital & Main:

    Labor & Economy
    Historian: Why Economic Libertarianism Is an Overwhelmingly White Cause

    “While the eyes of most journalists and citizens have been fixed on Washington and Donald Trump, a Duke University professor warns, Charles Koch-funded groups and politicians are quietly lining up the state authorizations needed for a new constitutional convention.”

    The “days of silos are over,” says MacLean. Whereas the left has been focused on discrete campaigns and issues, the extreme right, she warns, has undertaken “an audacious bid that has been six decades in the making to fundamentally change the relationship between the government and the people — and to do so permanently.”

    * * *

    “The wicked genius of Buchanan’s approach to binding popular self-government was that he did it with detailed rules that made most people’s eyes glaze over. In the boring fine print, he understood transformations can be achieved by increments that few will notice, because most people have no patience for minutiae,” she writes.

    That passage refers to the advice he gave Pinochet’s government, which she argues has hampered Chile’s current president, Michelle Bachelet, from enacting social programs in spite of a strong popular mandate.

    Now MacLean is warning progressive activists that the Republican tax bill and its projected $1.5 trillion deficit could help fuel a growing right-wing clamor for a state-led constitutional convention, whose first order of business would be a balanced budget amendment to curtail future government spending.

    Maybe we should be focusing on governors’ races more?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      hmmm . . . . Do the Clintobamacrats support silo-ism because they secretly support the Buchanan Libertarian agenda?

    2. UserFriendly

      Governors are irrelevant to that process. They just need to have both chambers of a state legislature to pass a resolution. They are 6 states shy and have control of enough chambers to push it through now if they wanted, but I doubt they will after the election this year. Dems can also rescind the resolution if they take both chambers and the convention hasn’t started.

  17. Homina

    Hoho lost his damn mind when he joined Rudy Giuliani, Tom Ridge, Wesley Clark, Alan Dershowitz, Ed Rendell, and others to decide to commit an egregious federal crime by advocating for, and/or being paid by the Foreign Terrorist Organization Mujahedin-e khalq.

    Thank goodness President Obama charged them all with material support of an FTO and they’re all currently serving prison terms…..oh….

    ….so considering that, maybe not lost mind so much as amoral mind, or get-my-money mind, or something.

    ….and considering that, he’d still be 10 times better than Tom Perez or DWS. Is funding terrorism against innocent Iranians the price to pay for a winning Democratic Party strategy? Who knows? The rule of law apparently doesn’t matter. Maybe Tom Perez should advocate the nuclear annihilation of Bolivia, and then importing charred human meat to be eaten by eager voters. Good winning strat for the Dems? I can’t really tell. Will have to wait until Wells Fargo and Lockheed Martin weigh in. Clearly fighting for poor people and against a bloated MIC is a non-starter.


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