2:00PM Water Cooler 4/19/2018

Our mini-fundraiser for Water Cooler is on! As of this hour, 135 donors — our goal is 275 –have already invested to support Water Cooler, which provides both economic and political coverage, to help us all keep our footing in today’s torrent of propaganda and sheer bullsh*t. Independent funding is key to having an independent editorial point of view. Please join us and participate via Lambert’s Water Cooler Tip Jar, which shows how to give via check, credit card, debit card, PayPal, or even the US mail. To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount. Thanks to all!

So we are just at the half-way point, and I’m sure Yves wishes to return to regular programming as rapidly as possible. If you have not yet contributed to help keep Water Cooler as an independent voice, please do so now. A few quotes from contributors who left Notes in the PayPal form to help you make up your mind:

“Thank you so much for your efforts. I am grateful and somewhat in awe of your daily efforts to educate and inform.”

Well, I stand in awe of the way the Naked Capitalism commentariat educates and informs, too. It’s quite something.

Please keep it up!

I hope to!

Don’t go changing! :-D

I won’t (except for the better, of course).Thanks to all!

Readers have asked how to increase the donation amount from the default $25.00. On the contribution form, right above the hat, you will see $25.00 with arrowheads to the right. Click on the arrows, and a drop-down menu will appear with larger amounts. Another reader asks why the largest amount is only $100.00 and why don’t I change it? The largest amount is, apparently, too small because of my diffidence, which isn’t really a good reason, I suppose. I will gratefully accept more generous amounts! And I don’t change it because the PayPal interface for creating this form reminds me of a ticking package and I don’t want to screw it up, now of all times. This reader went ahead and contributed two times. I grant that’s a hassle. People can always send me mail at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will explain how to send a check for a larger amount.

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wrapped up their two-day summit in Mar-a-Lago on Wednesday evening with neither man having achieved the top trade goal he was aiming for: Trump received no commitment that Tokyo would be willing to launch negotiations for a bilateral free trade deal, while Abe failed to secure exemptions for Japanese exports from U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum” [Politico]. “What the two leaders did agree on was a commitment to begin talks on a set of “free, fair and reciprocal trade deals” aimed at promoting economic development in the Indo-Pacific, Abe said. It was not immediately clear what type of deals that would mean, but Trump did say he was interested in reducing the U.S. trade deficit with Japan — which stood at $69 billion last year — and said that the steel and aluminum tariffs could be part of the talks.”

“Renegotiating NAFTA: Threats to our Internet Freedom and Access” (PDF) [Public Citizen]. “Under the guise of “modernizing” the 24-year-old agreement, officials from United States, Canada and Mexico are developing terms that go even further than the extreme copyright rules that were included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Intense congressional opposition across the political spectrum meant the TPP could not be passed here. Nevertheless, those dangerous TPP rules and worse are back in the NAFTA negotiating objectives that the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) outlined when talks started. NAFTA’s IP terms should be one of the most controversial subjects in the renegotiations. But these Hollywood- friendly extreme copyright rules have received almost no public attention and have been moving quickly in the closed-door negotiations. This contrasts with the noisy attacks coming from the corporate lobby against U.S. government proposals that enjoy wide public support, like cutting NAFTA’s investor outsourcing protections and investor-state tribunals. Negotiations on these popular proposals have stalled, while the extreme copyright terms are being pushed to completion.”



“History Suggests Double Trouble for Incumbent Trump” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “To recap: Trump faces a double historical whammy: He’s a weak incumbent and a popular vote loser to boot. Predecessors in similar situations have largely failed to overcome such hurdles.” So the Democrats could run a ham sandwich like Kamala Harris in 2020. Or a turkey sandwich like Joe Biden.

2018 Midterms

“Don’t Get Mad, Get Elected: The Rise of the Revenge Candidate” [Governing]. The article gives many examples. Here’s one: “Perhaps no candidate this year is seeking revenge quite so directly as David Ermold. Ermold and his husband were among the couples denied marriage licenses in 2015 by Kim Davis, the county clerk in Rowan County, Ky., who became a folk hero among social conservatives after spending five days in jail for defying the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. Ermold is now running to unseat her — while also suing her. Ermold and his husband have a case pending against Davis. His lawyer is confident they will win, but Ermold hopes for a more certain taste of revenge — personally driving Davis from office.”

“Feehery: Don’t call the game before it’s over” [The Hill]. An extended Little League metaphor, from a Republican consultant. Some nuggets: “Sure, the party has been hit by some retirements, but most of those are in very safe Republican seats that the Democrats have no chance of winning… Here is my theory about this upcoming election: If the economy is perceived to be either strong or getting stronger by the majority of voters, Republicans will keep the House and expand their majority in the Senate. The reason has nothing to do about the efficacy of the Trump tax cuts. When the economy is strong, voters focus on cultural and social issues, which tend to cut better for the GOP. When the economy is weak, voters turn to the Democrats, because they figure they will find ways to spend money to take care of them.”

MI-11: “Former Treasury Department official Haley Stevens has received plenty of national attention, but don’t be surprised if former state House Minority Leader Tim Greimel surprises in the August 7 Democratic primary, according to a local source” [Inside Elections].

WI-01: “Dads For Office: Maybe we should start asking men about how they’ll balance work and family obligations considering Republican Scott Wagner (running for governor in Pennsylvania) and Democrat Randy Bryce (running for Paul Ryan’s open seat in Wisconsin’s 1st district) are taking heat for not paying child support” [Inside Elections].

Health Care

Now it’s “Medicare for Anyone,” as liberal Democrats work to confuse their latest iteration of the market-driven, so-called “public option” with Medicare for All:

As I keep saying, the #1 policy goal of the Democrat leadership is to prevent the wave (if it happens)s from leading to #MedicareForAll; this would also, not so coincidentally, make it harder for Sanders to run on that platform, if he does, in 2020. Hence all the diversionary tactics.

“Here Comes Another Democratic Proposal To Let More Americans Buy Into Medicare” [HuffPo]. “Merkley was among the 16 Democrats who co-sponsored the bill Sanders introduced this past September. ‘I am very supportive of the vision for Medicare-for-all and I want us to find a path to get there,” he said during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. Murphy, by contrast, did not co-sponsor the Sanders bill. He said on Tuesday that he preferred to make enrollment voluntary, although he fully expects a lot of volunteers. ‘I think this is a way for the market to decide whether a Medicare plan or private sector plans are better for businesses and families,’ Murphy said, adding that he expects most Americans ‘would choose to buy a Medicare plan’ in the end.” Again with the “path to” argument. Saying that a a buy-in plan is a path to #MedicareForAll is like saying you’ve got to go through a store on your way to church. Why not just go to church?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Approximately 300 veterans are running for Congress this year. In a switch from past cycles, more of them are running as Democrats than Republicans” [Governing]. Not sure how many of those candidates will want to decrease the militarization of American society; some of them, no doubt.

“Pittsburgh Preparing for Riots In Case Trump Fires Mueller” [Governing]. “Pittsburgh police have no idea if President Trump plans to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but they want to be prepared in case he does. Officials have ordered detectives to arrive for work with their uniforms and riot gear in case of protests. The order is generating national news headlines.” It will be interesting if The Resistance, et al., get a taste of what the police, the National Guard, and the DHS did to Occupy and #BlackLivesMatter. Somehow, I doubt that will happen. OTOH, I’ve been thinking about The Resistance as the class consciousness of the 10% (or some fraction/factions of it). If indeed the 10% is willing to grasp the nettle of political violence, that would mark an interesting transition.

I’m so old I remember when liberal Democrats started arguing that Obama couldn’t do anything because the Presidency was a weak institution:

Now, of course, with Trump as President, the same crowd is saying — I won’t say “believes,” obviously — that the Presidency is an incredibly strong institution. Well done, all.

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, March 2018: “Held down by the job components of unemployment claims and the factory workweek, the index of leading economic indicators came in at what is a still respectable 0.3 percent gain” [Econoday]. “This follows unusually strong increases of 0.7 percent and 0.8 percent over the last 3 reports. Yet, as the report notes, the slowing in employment signals during March bears watching.”

Jobless Claims, week of April 19, 2018: “Initial jobless claims are favorable but increasingly less so” [Econoday]. “But it’s not how low unemployment claims are that matters in forecasting the April employment report, it’s the direction of claims and initial claims are no longer showing improvement. This uptick, following as it does the sharp downtick in payroll growth in March, will hold down expectations for April payrolls and also April’s unemployment rate. There are no special factors in today’s report.”

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, April 2018: “The headline for the Philly Fed index, which came in ahead of expectations, doesn’t tell April’s story which is one of slowing and price friction” [Econoday]. “The report’s text basically offers just numbers but indications of tariff effects are visible… The bottom line for this report is slowing order growth with tariff effects inflating price readings but only having a limited impact on optimism.” But: “Consider this a much weaker report than last month as key elements strongly declined” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, April 15, 2018: Edged higher [Econoday]. “This year’s tax cut has helped to underpin this year’s consumer confidence readings.”

Shipping: “Top-heavy growth in container tonnage sparks overcapacity concerns” [The Loadstar]. “According to Alphaliner, only 12 ships, equating to 21,778 teu, have been sold for demolition so far this year, compared with around 70 vessels for 230,000 teu at the same time last year.”

Shipping: “Are ELDs making our roads safer?” [Freight Waves]. “There is one aspect about [Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)] and the rigid Hours of Service (HOS) rules that you just can’t get around: how long the driver has been awake—or already driven—before getting into the truck. That part of the equation just can’t be reasonably measured. Remember the high profile case of Tracy Morgan’s entourage getting rear-ended by a Walmart truck a few years ago? That truck driver was within his legal driving hours, but he had commuted nearly eight hours just to get to work.” I would bet that as the gig economy eats trucking, this problem will become more and more common, if it is not common already.

Shipping: “FTR and Cass data indicate current trucking market conditions are as good as it gets” [Logistics Management]. “If you are in the trucking business, things are going pretty well of late, it seems, right? A few key monthly reports issued this week-FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI), and the Cass Freight Index-indicate that the answer to that question is a resounding ‘YES’ and truly drive home that there may be, at the moment, not a better time for the trucking industry.” Hmm. If this were a finance story, I’d read it as froth. But wake me when the credit markets are affected…

Shipping: “Driver pay jumps 15% in five years, but persistent shortages dog carriers” [Logistics Management]. “There has never been a more profitable time to be a truck driver—or a tougher time to be trying to hire one. By most accounts, the industry is about 50,000 qualified drivers short of what demand could handle…. For more than a decade, unionized carriers such as YRC and ABF Freight had a surplus of drivers, often several hundred or more on layoff status because of the soft economy of the past. That is no longer the case as less-than-truckload (LTL) carriers are joining their truckload brethren in the search for qualified, compliant drivers to replace those retiring or leaving the industry.” Hmm. Working conditions? Debt?

Transportation: “CSX Corp. is getting more profitable as it gets smaller. The freight railroad more than doubled its net profit in the first quarter to $695 million and showed big gains in service performance, only a few months after Chief Executive James Foote undertook an ‘apology tour’ to sell CSX’s shipping customers on the turnaround efforts” [Wall Street Journal]. “The results signal that CSX has its operations in order following snafus that came as the carrier implemented a plan by the late chief executive Hunter Harrison. CSX’s revenue inched up only slightly from a year ago in the first quarter as volumes declined. But the company slashed its operating ratio to 63.7% from 73.2%, and critical service measures for train velocity and dwell time showed big improvements. For now, at least, running fewer trains means smoother operations and bigger profits.” So maybe “Precision Railroading” wasn’t a crock?

Transportation: “Oil is backing up so much in the Permian basin that producers may have to look to trucks to get more of the crude moving. The West Texas and New Mexico region at the heart of the U.S. shale boom has become a top area globally for expanding oil production. [I]t now appears to be choking on its own growth” [Wall Street Journal]. “Permian producers are encountering congested pipelines and shortages of materials and workers, souring some energy executives on forecasts that production will climb by a third within two years. The bottlenecks highlight how investment in the oil fields has outpaced infrastructure development and overwhelmed pipelines. That’s threatening to hit financial returns as producers struggle to bring more equipment and workers into the region and even look to ship crude over the road.” Again, if this were a finance story, I’d read it as froth.

The Bezzle: “California Opens Investigation Into Tesla Workplace Conditions” [Industry Week]. “[California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health] ‘takes seriously reports of workplace hazards and allegations of employers’ underreporting recordable work-related injuries and illnesses” and ‘currently has an open inspection at Tesla,’ said Erika Monterroza, a spokeswoman for the state’s industrial relations department.”

The Bezzle: “‘I Fundamentally Believe That My Time at Reddit Made the World a Worse Place'” [New York Magazine]. “A conversation with former Reddit product head Dan McComas on the problems of growth as a metric and what Twitter is doing wrong.” From the interview:

[McCOMAS] I think there’s just a complete breakdown in the kind of thought process behind how your technology is going to affect the users that use it and the world at large, and the incentive structure that is behind Silicon Valley start-ups and how they’re formed.

What’s that incentive structure?

The incentive structure is simply growth at all costs. There was never, in any board meeting that I have ever attended, a conversation about the users, about things that were going on that were bad, about potential dangers, about decisions that might affect potential dangers. There was never a conversation about that stuff.

Hmm. Is that a “problem of growth as a metric,” as the author says, or a problem with capital allocation as such? Perhaps there are other ways of doing business than chugging a bottle of 151-proof Scale™-brand animal spirits?

Five Horsemen: “Juggernaut Amazon is back in the saddle after Jeff Bezos says Amazon Prime has a hundred million subscribers” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Apr 19 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index rose to 55 (complacency) after yesterday’s marginal gain the S&P 500 index.” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index Apr 18 2018

Facebook Fracas

“A flaw-by-flaw guide to Facebook’s new GDPR privacy changes [TechCrunch]. This is just awful; one dark pattern after another:

with a design that encourages rapidly hitting the “Agree” button, a lack of granular controls, a laughably cheatable parental consent request for teens and an aesthetic overhaul of Download Your Information that doesn’t make it any easier to switch social networks, Facebook shows it’s still hungry for your data.

More fundamentally, the design choices reveal Facebook’s determination to evade regulation and fail to comply. I hate to think that Facebook is an outlaw company like Uber, and with a culture that’s rotten from top to bottom, but their design choices aren’t helping me avoid that conclusion. Well worth a read (and other companies use the same tricks, so it’s not just Facebook).

“No boundaries for Facebook data: third-party trackers abuse Facebook Login” [Freedom to Tinker]. “Today we report yet another type of surreptitious data collection by third-party scripts that we discovered: the exfiltration of personal identifiers from websites through “login with Facebook” and other such social login APIs… Facebook Login and other social login systems simplify the account creation process for users by decreasing the number of passwords to remember…. We’ve uncovered an additional risk: when a user grants a website access to their social media profile, they are not only trusting that website, but also third parties embedded on that site.” Logging in to a site that is not Facebook with my Facebook password always struck me as demented, and I’ve never done it, not once. Now I know why.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“After recent police misconduct in Sacramento, Boston and Philadelphia, here’s how three Black police chiefs failed to do the right thing” [The Grio]. “Black police chiefs who adamantly defend what continues to be an unjust and racist system of policing are indeed a part of the problem. The way that several of them in command continue to cape for inexplicable instances of excessive police force shows that their blue blood is thicker than their Black one. At a time where videos are going viral with what appears to be solid evidence of foul play, Black commissioners, chiefs, and police officers seemingly continue to demonstrate an unshakable sense of loyalty to those who could do the same to them if not for a uniform and badge.” After Obama, this should not be unexpected….

Health Care

“MEDICARE FOR ALL ORGANIZING GUIDE” [Democratic Socialists for Medicare for All]. Good to see DSA producing collateral like this. But don’t stop with the brakelight clinics!

“Medicine’s secret ingredient — it’s in the timing” [Nature]. “More than four decades of studies describe how accounting for the body’s cycle of daily rhythms — its circadian clock — can influence responses to medications and procedures for everything from asthma to epileptic seizures. Research suggests that the majority of today’s best-selling drugs, including heartburn medications and treatments for erectile dysfunction, work better when taken at specific times of day. ‘When you give a medication, you always know the dose,’ says Lévi, who also now works at Warwick Medical School in Coventry, UK, where he leads a team associated with INSERM, the French national biomedical research agency. ‘We have found that the timing is sometimes more important than the dose.'”

Class Warfare

“Architecture, Aesthetic Moralism, and the Crisis of Urban Housing” [Common Edge]. “Because of this, alongside the historical weaponization of aesthetics by the ruling classes in the fight for social housing, it is imperative that left critiques of both the NIMBY homeowner-class and the market-driven YIMBY movement, avoid aesthetic posturing. While new-build architecture may be an easy target for both ironic internet memes and armchair criticism, the urban housing debate has people’s lives and futures at stake, and thus must be firmly rooted in the political struggle for the right to the city.” With excellent photographs.

News of The Wired

A public service announcement:

“Hip-hop takes a victory lap” [The Economist]. I like the combination of the headline, and the source. I wonder what the next new thing is? Something out of K-Pop?

Decision Tree for Cognitive Biases” [Breakdown Notes]. “On wikipedia there is a list of cognitive biases, or as they call it, “systematic patterns of deviations from norm or rationality in judgement. While interesting to read, it is not in a format that is easy to digest when judging what biases might effect you in a particular situation. For this reason, I made this decision tree. It groups the cognitive biases by situations in which they may arise most often.” Hmm. I’m trying to figure out whether a tree structure is really an appropriate data structure for this problem. Can’t we arrive at the same cognitive bias along different and interconnected paths? Still, interesting!

Moar memes (the punchline is great):

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant:

TH: “Wild sunflower. (Rancho Palos Verdes, California).” This looks like a ragged, end-of-season sunflower rather than a sunflower that’s just starting out. But the bokeh — is it — in the background is very nice.

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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. ArcadiaMommy

      I have done something similar on smaller scale. Kids’ birthday parties are always no gifts – bring a contribution of your choice for the food bank instead. Also have done holiday parties where we have a really simple dinner (lentil soup, cheese, bread and wine is a hit) and again contribution of your choice for the food bank. Contributions from one party provided 3700 meals for the food bank and inspired a lot of questions and interest. Have had little kids bring me coins and had one person give $200. But everyone loved the idea. And it is a nice break from the holiday overload.

  1. Roger Smith

    ‘I think this is a way for the market to decide whether a Medicare plan or private sector plans are better for businesses and families,’ Murphy said

    We humans are far too flawed to form our own values and goals… we must turn to the alter of the Market gods. A great Current Affairs piece on the (increasingly default) value systems of the Neoliberal world.

    Murphy was too busy likening Sanders to the Sandy Hook shooter to bother joining his initiatives. Pathetic worm.

    1. Jeff W

      We humans are far too flawed to form our own values and goals…

      Apparently, we’re also too flawed to look at data—like the (all-too-familiar, by now) far cheaper cost of single-payer/not-for-profit health care systems and the far better health outcomes.

      And that “path to” argument is always disingenuous. (I recall the same talking point with the ACA in 2009 with Democrats simultaneously arguing that it would lead and not lead to single payer.) Any health care system “reform” that leaves private, for-profit insurers in the picture for primary health care is designed in that way so that they are not cut out of the picture, not as a way to “ease them out.” (Recall that, with the so-called “public option” that would “keep insurance companies honest,” President Obama told Congress that it was anticipated that “less than 5%” of Americans would sign up and that was a selling point.)

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Far cheaper with single payer…

        That contrasts with the post from the other day about skipping the cost/how to fund it issue…that we just demand it.

        I think talking about its cheaper cost is to show its strength, as well as clarifying the nature of healthcare (educational too, because we can never stop learning and need not only learn from school).

        1. Jeff W

          I think talking about its cheaper cost is to show its strength…

          Yeah, I think so, too.

          I think that, if I were addressing a market/neoliberal argument such as Sen. Murphy’s, with its implicit assumptions that “the market” invariably leads to better outcomes at a lower cost, I would argue that, even within that frame, single payer/not-for-profit health care systems demonstrably leads to better outcomes at a lower cost than whatever it is we have now, although I do not necessarily endorse that frame. (It’s better, I think, even if you think the premises of someone’s argument are wrong, to defeat the argument within those premises, if possible, before addressing why the premises themselves are incorrect.)

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think the universal concrete material benefit — health care, reducing suffering and saving lives — should come first.

          Cheaper, also true, should come second.


          > this is a way for the market to decide

          I thought we lived in a democracy? Did I not get the memo?

          1. Roger Smith

            We’ve transcended democracy. Now we throw the goat carcass up on the alter and wait to see what happens.

            I agree with your approach. Forming the argument based solely on market terms (it’s cheaper!) or at least outright is playing the game of dehumanizing the action. Since when did people decide life was a bunch of suits standing around a view screen, observing life while apathetically muttering things like, “aha… mhmmm…. oooh…. yes, I see…. okay there….”, while taking notes?

            I think the argument should be focused on the fact that the market based perspective is inhumane and serves no human goal or purpose. I think my favorite explanatory graphic our society’s condition is this one. That should make everyone ask, “what the hell are we doing” or “what exactly our our goals here?” The United States is directionless, devoid of substance as far as it pertains to the citizenry.

            From my original rant when I commented on that image…:

            “I recognized this very early on during things like obligatory recitations of the Pledge of Allegiance that I hated. I knew my column had “Nones” all down it (scaled for younger comprehension). “My country never enters my life, at least in any recognizable sense for which I should display pride or thankfulness.”

            Currently, the goals and priorities here center around small groups of selfish, worthless, corrupt people looting from the troves of cash we could be using to promote citizens; establishing Game of Thrones power struggles that they can use to validate their meaningless existences. All they while, they distract people with shallow platitudes.

            They are fostering an environment predicated on nothing, lack of direction; glued together by semi-nostalgic, empty one liners about dreams and determination, and half of those people think you are dumb for following this nostalgia they themselves imbue. They foster disunion and distraction…”

      2. Summer

        Well, you also have to remember that talking about the “cost” of healthcare is the govt talking about their “cost” and the “cost” to business…not the “cost” individuals and families.

        The discussion about healthcare should be about the prices of care…not just about insurance. Insurance doesn’t equal care.

  2. Synapsid

    Lambert Strether,

    The lack of pipeline capacity in the Permian Basin is a real problem, for both oil and gas. Drawbacks are depressed prices for oil and for natural gas (local gluts do that) and flaring of NG because the production boom started long before infrastructure to export the stuff existed. We saw the same problems in the Bakken, especially the flaring (which royalty owners hate, by the way–that NG could be sold if got to market, though prices are low because of the overproduction.) I keep reading that production in the Permian Basin is becoming gassier, that is, the ratio of produced NG to produced oil is increasing.

    Construction of pipelines is not on a scale that will solve the problems anytime soon.

    1. Scott

      I’ve reached the conclusion that we simply need to ban flaring of natural gas, both in the U.S. and globally. There are alternatives, which are costly, but the environmental benefits are likely worth it (although I haven’t seen any studies on the subject).

    2. HotFlash

      Thank you or this, Synapsid. A question: can you explain to me your statement ‘especially the flaring (which royalty owners hate, by the way’? Are royalties not due on everything taken out of the ground, or only on that which is marketed? Or what?

    3. third time lucky

      Maybe flooding induced by GHG (greenhouse gas) will allow barge shipping to the soon to be much closer coastal areas. Keep spilling that extremely efficient GHG natural gas… For the win.

  3. DJG

    Medicare with Teeth: As we see again and again, both parties think that individual health care and public health are something to be resolved through the magic of markets. And here I thought that health care was one of the corporal works of mercy.

    So I am holding out for Medicare with Teeth. Dental care has to be covered. Further, because everything in the U S of A is so deliberately complicated, sub-sub-plans A, B, C, F, Z, and so on have to be eliminated.

    You get Medicare. It pays your medical bills (of all kinds) and for your prescriptions. How hard is it for our betters to understand this?

    I realize that I will put Fresno Dan out of a job, but he can sit around all day in his bunny slippers, eating pretzels and swigging Asti spumante rather than filling out paperwork.

    1. HotFlash

      I am pretty sure our esteemed Mr Dan is a volunteer ‘navigator’, so he could perhaps find another worthy cause? Or there’s always bunny slipper ranching.

      1. ambrit

        One problem with the ‘bunny slipper’ ranching concept is that these are Russian bunnies! So, he’ll need Siberian Huskys to herd them. He’ll have to hire graduates of the University of Washington Department of Animal Husbandry, a sub-department of the School of Agriculture, to manage those dogs. Since those graduates are going for big bucks to the ‘Save the Polar Bear’ campaign support organizations, cost will be prohibitive.
        All is not lost, however. Alibaba has posted an alternative product, in the “Bunny Slippers are Red” boutique shop. They should be able to supply Fresno with the alternative to Siberian Huskys, the Sharberian Husky. See: https://www.google.com/search?q=cghinese+siberian+husky+breed&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b-1-ab
        It’s a big world!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Also, “free at the point of care.” No more of this deductible nonsense. Putting a fee-collecting turnstyle at the entry point to the process justifies all the other eligibility determination crapola, and puts the infrastructure in place to do it, too. We’re gonna have to remove every single bit of the cancer…

  4. laughingsong

    Chris Murphy: “‘I think this is a way for the market to decide whether a Medicare plan or private sector plans are better for [NUMBER 1] businesses and [AFTERTHOUGHT] families. . .”

    Oh, just go away CT shill. Just take your ill-gotten gains and GO.

    Sorry, I am grumpy today and only had one nerve left when I got up this morning . . . and dang if this fella didn’t get right on it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Wait, what? I thought Chris Murphy was a Democrat from a Blue State? I’d just begun to genuflect when you mentioned his name, but you brought me up short…

  5. Angie Neer

    Re the oxygen mask photo. I think the intended reaction is “people are so stupid, they don’t follow instructions,” but to me it looks like a rational response to bad design. I’ve watched the pre-flight demo of those things about a million times, and I’ve always wondered why they don’t even try to shape them so they can go over someone’s nose.

    1. barefoot charley

      I’ll guess it’s one of the rare instances where one-size-fits-all works best. eg, would a toddler have to hold her nosepiece?

      1. a different chris

        But it’s the one “size” that fits none. It’s perfectly round, so hth do you get it comfortably over your nose and mouth, even if you have one of those cutesy hi-fashion model versions? Let alone the rest of us.

        But per Robert below, it probably isn’t that important, and I suspect the best thing to do is just hold it a half-inch in front of your face and let the O2 enrich your local air.

        I suspect I will have a chance to try this, I hardly ever fly but with the crapification of everything this seems like it will become a regular occurance. And nobody will be able to explain why.

        1. Synoia

          Err No. Too many of the Moneyed class fly to have crapification of flight.

          The good news is those in first class, the Moneyed Class, cushion the fall for the proles in the back.

          1. Octopii

            The Moneyed Class flies sitting in front of the engines, so when they shred themselves only the plebs get caught in the shrapnel.

    2. Robert Hahl

      It probably just doesn’t matter very much how you use the mask or whether you use it at all. My impression is that people who passed out from high altitude generally wake up without ill effects, and a little extra oxygen helps a lot.

      1. Louis

        High-Altitude Pulmonary Edema (HAPE) and High-Altitude Cerebral Edema (HACE) are serious issues–either one is a medical emergency. I don’t know whether HACE or HAPE could set in matters of minutes like on a flight–it often takes at least a day or two to set in on high-altitude mountaineering expeditions–but even if it doesn’t happen that quickly, high altitude is nothing to sneer at.

    3. Kurtismayfield

      Is there a documented case of those O2 masks actually saving someone? I was always under the impression that they were safety theater.

      Tyler Durden said it best

    4. The Rev Kev

      I think that it should also be pointed out that those personal masks only have about enough air to last from 12 to 20 minutes – just long enough for a pilot to get down to lower altitudes for the passengers to breath. Breathing slow here sounds like a good idea. Found this bit out by reading about Helios Airways Flight 522 in 2005 where the crew and passengers ran out of air and they all passed out. The jet ran out of fuel eventually and crashed in Greece.

  6. upstater

    more on CSX, From Trains Magazine:

    “CSX spent more than twice as much on share buybacks ($836 million, a 224-percent increase) as it did on capital expenses ($368 million, a 17-percent decrease) during the quarter as it made progress on its goal to buy back $5 billion-worth of its stock during the next three years.”

    “CSX’s safety figures continued to deteriorate in the quarter, continuing a trend that has concerned the Federal Railroad Administration. CSX’s FRA personal injury frequency index rose 14 percent, while the train accident rate increased 19 percent. While the number of accidents and injuries held steady, the rates rose because CSX employs fewer people and is running fewer trains.”

    How about that US infrastructure… eating the seed corn. Dis-investment on a grand scale

    1. Hubert Horan

      Two separate issues at work at CSX–
      1. “precision railroading”, or operating freight trains to planned schedules, that are designed to balance the flows of equipment and crews, and reduce the risk that unplanned conflicting moves clog up operating flows, is a legitimate idea, although proponents (people working for the late Hunter Harrison) have overstated the benefits and the universal applicability of the concept.
      2. The outside investors that financed the hostile takeover of CSX (and had attempted the same at NS) were using Harrison and his concepts as the cover story for a typical scheme, as the references to stock buybacks implies.
      Harrison and his supporters never explained why operating approaches that yielded benefits at Canadian National would yield similar benefits at CSX, which has a very different network structure, much shorter hauls and a different commodity mix. The argument never went much beyond “railroad management teams are inbred and always resist new ideas” which has a kernel of truth, but doesn’t explain why the new idea is actually better, and ignores the hundreds of things that have to change in order to make the new operating strategy workable.
      The real strategy of CSX’s new owners isn’t to profit from more productive approaches, but to massively cut back the network, staffing and equipment to a smaller core with higher margins. Since the stock market only cares about simplistic, short term metrics, this could work from a financial engineering standpoint. But the history of railroading suggests it will eventually fail. A large scale RR network serves hundreds of different traffic flows, which are all volatile. If you eliminate all the bits that aren’t the most profitable this week, you’ve killed future growth. As CSX itself proved in the 80s, if you make draconian network cuts today, it will take a decade and many billions in capital to reverse course if demand strengthens, or new traffic sources appear. BNSF and UP painfully learned similar lessons more recently. And the service failures will drive away a lot of the traffic you thought was totally secure and dependable.

      1. tegnost

        sad that rail is used like this…

        The real strategy of CSX’s new owners isn’t to profit from more productive approaches, but to massively cut back the network, staffing and equipment to a smaller core with higher margins

        when it’s the most efficient way to transport goods

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > As CSX itself proved in the 80s, if you make draconian network cuts today, it will take a decade and many billions in capital to reverse course if demand strengthens, or new traffic sources appear.

        And Dr. Beeching is, I think, in the Ninth Circle of Hell?

  7. marym

    Medicare Advantage, Medicare Part D (prescription drug coverage) and Medicaid managed care are private insurance. Any proposal that includes these components (including the Sanders plan which retains Medicaid for long-term care) is retaining private for-profit insurance.

    1. Carla

      I believe the Physicians for a National Health Program (pnhp.org — consider joining — they want non-physician members too), who have been in the trenches for decades on this issue, are still trying to work with Sanders to improve his bill.

  8. allan

    In dramatic vote Senate confirms Bridenstine lead NASA
    [Science Mag]

    … The drama-filled vote, which prompted Vice President Mike Pence to attend as a potential tiebreaker and featured the first vote of Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) with her baby at her side, hinged on the vote of Senator Jeff Flake (R–AZ), who has sought leverage in addressing his non-NASA priorities with the Republican leadership. Flake’s vote, and Rubio’s decision to drop his opposition yesterday allowed confirmation. …

    Flake’s self-righteous #Resistance preening before the cameras and microphones can stop now.

    1. a different chris

      The Brutalism cartoon, so funny…. I’m not even sure what “the punchline” referred to because all three middle frams put tears in my eyes.

      Per Russia – I think the NC commentariat is not “mote in my (Russia) eye, beam in (your) Western eye”, it’s that Our Misleadership is so bad that in relative terms it’s hard to criticize Russia, not that Russia is so good.

      They seem to at least have a plan in Syria, for instance. End the warring. Sounds good to me.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The only way to end the war in Syria is to defeat the insurgencies. And that is what Russia is trying to help the legitimate government of Syria do.

        As long as any insurgent group survives, its outside friends and sponsors will keep supporting it to keep the war going in hopes of toppling Assad some day.

  9. Wukchumni

    “Architecture, Aesthetic Moralism, and the Crisis of Urban Housing” [Common Edge].
    All over the outskirts of oh so beautiful Prague, are Soviet era public housing that sticks out like a sore thumb. Ours are only marginally better looking, as the surrounding areas also tend to be not very aesthetically appealing, not as jarring of a juxtaposition.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Soviet era public housing

      I was in Prague for a bit years ago, and the city is very beautiful (and the Czechs seemed to be taking a lot of pleasure in restoring it and making it more beautiful).

      But I stayed in a hotel near one of those projects, and there was something slightly odd its verticality. The ceiling height seemed to have been designed to make somebody of my height walk slightly hunched over. A subtle form of repression?

      1. Wukchumni

        That’s interesting…

        When I first went about 25 years ago, food and booze were @ near giveaway prices as far as I was concerned (25 cents for a 1/2 liter of good Czech beer, ha!) but the hotels were really pricey.

  10. Jim Haygood

    So it goes, as ol’ Kurt Vonnegut used to say:

    The Justice Department’s inspector general referred its finding that ex-FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe repeatedly misled investigators who were scrutinizing leaks to the media to the US Attorney’s office in Washington, arguing that he should be prosecuted, multiple reports said Thursday.

    The criminal referral was made after the inspector general determined that McCabe lied to investigators or then-FBI Director James Comey four times, three of them while under oath, The Washington Post reported.

    It wasn’t immediately clear whether the federal prosecutors believe criminal charges are warranted, and a referral to the feds does not in and of itself mean McCabe will be charged with a crime, the paper reported.


    Tick-tock, Andy.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Related news:

      Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told President Donald Trump last week that he isn’t a target of any part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

      Rosenstein, who brought up the Mueller probe himself, offered the assurance during a meeting with Trump at the White House last Thursday, a development that helped tamp down the president’s desire to remove Rosenstein or Mueller, the people said.

      After the meeting, Trump told some of his closest advisers that it’s not the right time to remove either man since he’s not a target of the probe. One person said Trump doesn’t want to take any action that would drag out the investigation.


      Wall Street thinks this is good news. But not so fast: what if Mueller has learnt that the treasure trove seized from Michael Cohen gives the New York federal prosecutors all the ammo they need to indict both Cohen and Trump?

      If that’s the case, then the Russian collusion yarn can be quietly retired, as it’s no longer needed.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        Not being a target should, in theory, allow Trump to fire Mueller objectively.

        “No conflict of interest here. I let him go because I didn’t like his after-shave….at my pleasure he served.”

        And the assurance Trump needs is something else – that Mueller will not go anywhere beyond Russia. Thus, not going anywhere near private non-disclosure agreements.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Just one more thing:

      (CNN) The Justice Department is expected to make the James Comey memos available to Congress on Thursday, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

      The fired FBI director wrote the memos memorializing his conversations with President Donald Trump.

      It was not immediately clear whether the memos would be provided in redacted form, unredacted in a classified setting, or some combination.


      Let’s hope for Comey’s sake that his memos don’t contradict his book. That might be bad for sales. :-(

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Since The Resistance did a very successful GoFundMe for McCabe’s pension, presumably they’ll do the same to get him a lawyer? He’ll need somebody good, i.e. expensive…

  11. Louis Fyne

    -“Because of this, alongside the historical weaponization of aesthetics by the ruling classes in the fight for social housing, –

    LeCorbusier-inspired urban design/architecture was a neutron bomb on American (and some European) cities.

    LeCorbusier’s personal habits are fascinating. He sounded like a fastidious, obsessive-compulsive authoritarian.

    And 60’s Brutalism was just plain awful—what’s worse are architecture academics pushing for protected status for those hulks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preston_bus_station

    your mileage will vary.

    1. Darius

      A big reason for gentrification concentrated in prewar neighborhoods is that the development process is entirely geared toward building postwar suburbs. With some exceptions, no more traditional towns are being built. Therefore, the demand for them far outstrips supply. Thus, skyrocketing prices and gentrification.

      The legal, regulatory and financial system forbids traditional towns. Banks don’t even have the codes for this type of building. So if someone wanted to run a store and live above it, even if they found a way to overcome municipal bureaucracy, they wouldn’t be able to get a loan.

      So ugly, shoddy postwar garden apartment for you, with acres of parking and a dying big box next door.

      1. a different chris

        A big box that, pretending for a moment that it was constructed decently, could not be repurposed for housing just because.

        1. Synoia

          The legal, regulatory and financial system forbids traditional towns.

          Very true. And the case is parking. Under current codes local cities here, SoCal, have a requirement for roughly 8 parking spaces per car in a city.

          Which means acres of parking, and the city is never walk-able.

        2. jsn

          Not “just because”. Because it’s a radically different building type with radically different infrastructure.

          Housing requires natural light and ventilation for good, humane reasons. As a result, the surface area to floor area of residential buildings tends to be high compared to almost all other building types.

          Because “habitable rooms” in a home need sunlight and air, deep, long span spaces with very high ceilings simply don’t exist in residential construction: these are the defining characteristics of “big box” retail. There’s also a plumbing issue along the same lines: what waste plumbing a big box is provided with would support maybe 3 or 4 homes, which in the US says something like 7,000 to 10,000sf of residential space, but big boxes tend to be closer to 100,000sf.

          People can inhabit anything, we’re pretty adaptable, but the density at which people can inhabit a big box in a healthy manner is so low that it makes little sense. Eventually these buildings will all be scavenged, but the massive subsidies to fossil fuels we still have mean the incentives for sane resource allocation are still so deeply perverted these buildings will likely just sit there until Amazon takes them over as transshipment hubs.

      2. Dr. Roberts

        On the contrary New Urbanism has had a significant influence on many urban planners, and a lot of the construction in gentrifying urban areas is now mixed-use. On the other hand you still have people building following the post-war suburban sprawl model as well. High construction costs mean we aren’t seeing this kind of New Urbanist construction at anywhere near a high enough level to stem the tide of rising prices.

        1. Jim Haygood

          One example would be Simon Property Group’s The Domain in Austin, which purports to be a “second downtown.” Some of the retail stores have several floors of condos above them. But for the most part they aren’t local, small-scale stores, rather high-end national chains such as Nordstrom, Restoration Hardware, Apple, etc. all clustered together.

          My verdict: “retail Disneyland.”

          1. ambrit

            We have one of those near Hammond Louisiana. Looks and feels like a Hollywood back lot. I really one hot day felt like checking to see if there were real buildings behind those facades. If I were a cynic, (perish the thought!,) I would suspect that the 10% were being conditioned to believe in a Fantasyland existence.
            When the ‘Aliens’ come to save some remnant of humanity, what part of the social matrix would they chose to carry away?

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Restoration Hardware

            I went to a Restoration Hardware in Alexandria once because I need to buy picture hooks.

            The twee was so overwhelming it was almost psychedelic. I got out as fast as I could.

    2. Craig H.

      Have you seen Wurster Hall?

      If not you might be interested to know it is the architecture school at University of California. Some say (I say) it is by far the ugliest building on the campus. Christopher Alexander (the Timeless Way of Building guy) was a professor there and complained the inside was even more horrible than the outside. His book is about the virtues of dinky European villages though so it maybe shouldn’t count for too much.

      1. jsn

        Those dinky European villages were sustainable, these massive, industrial era constructions likely are not.

        We inhabit the weird moment in “overshoot” when our demographics and resource use continue as we have become familiar with them in the last 60 years despite the increasingly obvious reality that that resource use is literally killing the world, precipitating an “extinction event” not seen since a meteor created the Gulf of Mexico.

        Alexander was on to something. On the other hand, Pei’s National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Boulder Colorado, in brutalist concrete is a wonderful little building to be in. So it’s hard to generalize!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The University of Montreal has what I think are a number of brutalist buildings (concrete, heavy). Subject to correction to locals, they seemed fine to me. The concrete blended well with the site (rocky outcroppings on the mountain).

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        See NC on Christopher Alexander here.

        I don’t think his books are so much about “dinky European villages” but on building to a human scale. I wonder, if Alexander were to be commissioned a large complex (the NC article is about a Japanese school on a multi-acre site with several buildings) what it would look like?

        1. Craig H.

          1. thank you very much for that link which I had missed and is excellent.

          2. perhaps dinky was not the best word choice but I was going for quick and short and presumed that no Alexander readers would even see it and non-Alexander readers wouldn’t care. I love his books. To cite only one example, he seems to be maybe the only other living human who appreciates the radical difference between a north window and a south window. Light from the north is one of my essential nutrients which I rate up there with water.

          Also his book A Pattern Language (5*’s!) is on hundreds of Computer Programmer’s Recommended Reading lists and I have never met a programmer who has actually read it. I am surprised when I look at the Amazon page that you can’t find a used copy for two bucks.

          The last time I shopped to buy a house ten years ago there were zero Alexander-influenced properties on the market. Every agent in the zip code where I was looking was big on curb-appeal and every renovation had granite counter tops in the kitchen. In my current zip code there seem to be no Alexander-influenced single-family residences on the market although I have only briefly browsed; the city planners here have certainly read the books which is great. We don’t have any real bike lanes but if you run over a pedestrian with your car here I am pretty sure you can forget ever getting promoted again if you work for the city.

    3. Octopii

      I see your brutalist hulk, and raise you the UCSD Geisel Library and Charles de Gaulle Terminal 1. Both are masterpieces but for different reasons. For every FBI HQ there is something interesting, like the Breuer API Building that became condos. What a shame.

    1. begob

      The article doesn’t mention reports last week the Israelis faked out Syrian air defence, I guess by interfering with Russian radar that then identified a phantom attack.

  12. a different chris

    re Architecture, Moralism et al, I think the writer has the tail of a tiger and doesn’t know what to do with it:

    To give an example, aesthetic moralism is trenchant in the conservative idea that “traditional” or historicist architecture is inherently better than modernist architecture because historicist architecture represents a time when “men were men” and “people cared about craftsmanship” and that architecture was rooted in the greatness of old (nationalist) empires.

    Dude is putting words in other people’s mouths, without justification. *I* think it is worth holding on to because it gives a context to the world as it was when historical events occurred (do you ever think, when in London, “how small is this so famous place, wow”). *I* think those places are worth holding on to because “talented men were near slaves of very rich men” – even the architects to a point – and I do not want that situation repeated. But they did create great beauty under that awful rule* and I want that fact preserved, because it is awe-inspiring that they did that. I am an atheist, and you can’t even repurpose an English Catherdral, but it sometimes took multiple-lifetimes to finish one and I think we should keep the darn thing standing if just to gape at, and center ourself.

    So I think great old architecture is just a touchable lesson, maybe about how humanity thought and worked and the good and bad of every great thing we ever did. Everybody wishes they had a recording of Mozart, you cannot convince them that we have somebody who plays exactly like him. In this particular case, we can preserve.

    Oh, but despite that, um clanging chord, I don’t entirely disagree with the author’s overall direction of thought. There is one thing that got completely skipped, that I wish he would try to think about: those buildings were ugly methinks, but that’s an opinion. What needs investigating is a determainable fact: was the problem really what looked like warehousing of the poor, or was it the freaking lead the pipes were held together with that was the real problem with these complexes?

    *think about jazz music, if the only way to reproduce something as good as the classics was to go back to the second-class status of the black musician… well then no way. But you don’t destroy what they did, either.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve often thought that Europeans living cheek by jowl near aged architecture had an interesting bearing on them from a historical perspective, that few in America could appreciate, as we tend to tear stuff down when it gets just a little tired.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that you are right here. I remember my first year in Europe when I came across an ordinary building in the city of Bern, Switzerland. It had on it as a matter of course the date that it was built and it predated Europeans in America! With a large margin to spare! It was still in use and businesses were being conducted within it but the shock at understanding its age gave me an attack of humbleness that lasted nearly the whole day.

        1. Octopii

          Or my week in Rome walking around and noting an interesting highly modern building that happened to have one wall made partially with something from Roman times. They understand history over there, and they build it into the new.

  13. g

    Are there any good resources about the debates around brutalism? I usually hate the buildings, but I’ve heard there are good arguments in favour of it.

    1. jsn

      In my opinion, it’s all about scale. The Charthouse in Jacksonville Florida is a wonderful little brutalist building. It’s made with the same love A Different Chris is addressing above. The food’s ok, but it’s by leaps and bounds the best place to have a drink in North Florida!

      1. jsn

        Additionally, Carlos Scarpa’s Brion Vega Cemetery is a brutalist masterpiece. So I stick with the scale argument: when you make it at the human scale with the skill, craft and love those gothic masons applied to the great cathedrals, the beton brut is a beautiful thing and a nurturing human habitat.

        1. jsn

          On the opposite end of the “scale” problem, Myron Goldsmith got a Bond villain named after himself for blocking Ian Flemings view with this!

  14. clarky90

    Lambert; “Now, of course, with Trump as President, the same crowd is saying — I won’t say “believes,” obviously — that the Presidency is an incredibly strong institution. Well done, all.”

    People, often, shut their eyes and rationalize reality. They worship the “creative” power of their own (or collective) words and thoughts. But (imo), they are pissing away their lives with verbal BS and, convoluted abstract arguments. I blame the Devil, Mr Clevver!

    “Chapter 6: The Eusa Story

    (pp. 30-36)
    1. Wen Mr Clevver wuz Big Man uv Inland thay had evere thing clevver. Thay had boats in the ayr & picters on the win & evere thing lyk that. Eusa wuz a noing man vere qwik he cud tern his han tu enne thing. He wuz werkin for Mr Clevver wen thayr cum enemes aul roun & maykin Warr. Eusa sed tu Mr Clevver, Now wewl nead masheans uv Warr. Wewl nead boats that go on the water & boats that go in the ayr as wel & wewl nead Berstin Fyr.

    2. Mr Clevver sed tu Eusa, Thayr ar tu menne agenst us this tym…”

    “Riddley Walker”
    by Russel Hoban


  15. John

    Question: Are the extreme copyright provisions sliding through NAFTA 2.0 the rules that will allow drug companies block generics

    1. ambrit

      If that comes true, then expect “terrorist incidents” to proliferate at Big Pharma sites.
      People who are dying unnecessarily have nothing to lose.

      1. Wukchumni

        Slide effects include: jibbering, jabbering, and potential gambling addiction in order to pay for your medicine. Some patients have experienced suicidal thoughts and a few went through with it.

  16. Wukchumni

    WI-01: “Dads For Office: Maybe we should start asking men about how they’ll balance work and family obligations considering Republican Scott Wagner (running for governor in Pennsylvania) and Democrat Randy Bryce (running for Paul Ryan’s open seat in Wisconsin’s 1st district) are taking heat for not paying child support”
    Deadbeat dads running for political office…

    Wouldn’t that have been pretty much a no-go say 20 years ago?

  17. Henry Moon Pie

    I did not know that the Market gods had been altered. Sounds like a good idea to me. Keep ’em from breeding.

  18. Wukchumni

    Orwells Fargo slapped with a billion dollar fine, but no jail time.

    That’s 2x+ good for those at the top of the food chain~

  19. KurtisMayfield

    Re: NAFTA 2.0 Copyright changes

    But these Hollywood- friendly extreme copyright rules have received almost no public attention and have been moving quickly in the closed-door negotiations.

    Can we just change Hollywood to Disney? This is again about the cartoon mouse, and they won’t let up until they protect it forever.. I guess they figure they will not be able to get the Sonny Bono Bill through Congress again without it looking like a complete giveaway.

    I wonder what we will have to give away to Canada to quell their pushback against these IP laws The EFF might have to take this to the Supreme Court if they get copyright extension passed again. How many lifetimes of protection does the cartoon mouse need?

    1. Wukchumni

      There’s a lawyer we ski with, and we always joke that he should never do pro-Bono work on the slopes, ha!

      In all seriousness, when Sonny & a Kennedy checked out in the space of a year or so, it went from nobody wearing a helmet skiing, to probably 90% donning one nowadays.

  20. allan

    Heidi Heitkamp achieves a quadfecta – voting with the GOP on gunz, taxes, bank deform
    and now for the objectively anti-Congressional-oversight-of-the-executive-branch Mike Pompeo.
    Feel the Blue Wave – go Team DSCC!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Heitkamp said that she would “hold Mr. Pompeo accountable to make sure he advances our country’s leadership in the world.”

      Basically a restatement of Commander-in-Chief Obama’s “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”

      Or “kick their ass and take their gas” in the vernacular.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Wouldn’t it be a hoot if North Dakota’s northern neighbour occupied the Bakken Shale to give Senator Heitkamp a taste of “advancing Canada’s leadership in the world”?

  21. Wukchumni

    “Stewart M. Brandborg, a conservation activist and Wilderness Society leader who helped draft and advocate for passage of the landmark Wilderness Act of 1964 that set aside millions of acres of land for protection from human development, died April 14 at his home in Hamilton, Mont. He was 93.”


    Without the Wilderness Act denying Big Oil & Big Mining of nearly 110 million acres to exploit, think of what the likes of Zinke et al would be trying to pull off?

    As far as i’m concerned, the best piece of legislation passed in my lifetime~

    There’s quite a feeling you get traipsing over land that’s the same as it ever was and will be always, in a world bent on change,

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Though of course a climate in runaway heat-death climate d’chaos decay will change all that wilderness land in strange new ways, too.

      1. Wukchumni

        We’re already seeing it, on the last storm the snow levels were up to 13k, which is crazy, but welcome to the new normal.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          snow levels up to 13k . . . . What does “k” mean in this context? What is “13k”?

  22. allan

    Southwest Airlines mechanics union warned of too much outsourcing of maintenance work [NY Post]

    Weeks before the engine failure caused a passenger death, Southwest Airlines mechanics union warned of a “ostrich-like head-in-the-sand approach” regarding problems with the company’s aircraft maintenance program, according to a report.

    In a Feb. 26 email, Bret Oestreich, the national director of the Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association, cautioned Southwest Airlines Chief Operating Officer Mike van de Ven that there was too much outsourcing of maintenance work. …

    Southwest Airlines also opposed a recommendation last year to inspect fan blades like the one that caused an engine failure, leaving one passenger dead Tuesday.

    Engine-maker CFM had proposed safety checks on its engines last June after a fan blade separated from a Southwest engine in August 2016, federal documents show.

    That plane also made an emergency landing after debris from the engine tore a foot-long hole above the plane’s left wing.

    Investigators found that the fan blades showed signs of metal fatigue.

    The FAA proposed making CFM’s recommendation mandatory in August but never issued a directive.

    The Dallas-based carrier pushed back on the recommendation, saying it needed more time to complete the checks.

    “SWA does NOT support the CFM comment on reducing compliance time to 12 months,” Southwest Airlines wrote in a comment about the proposed rule. …

    That worked out well.

  23. GF

    Shipping: “Driver pay jumps 15% in five years, but persistent shortages dog carriers” [Logistics Management].

    What a bunch of BS. The article conflates LTL, mostly union, with truckload driver owner operated to come up with the inflated 15% increase in wages since 2013. For the real story read “The Big Rig” by Steve Viscelli:

    It is an eye opener.

  24. archnj

    On CSX – I think the key words in the quote are “volumes declined”. All that cutting looks good when you are not trying to achieve the same throughput. And of course right now there are big savings to be had over pre-Harrison days from payroll cuts and less equipment on the road, which will boost the bottom line. But once traffic picks up again, I would expect to see CSX back in the soup post haste. Underlying problems like poor maintenance are almost certainly not being addressed. But Hilal will get his nickel.

  25. allan

    Wet noodle lashing incoming:

    Barclays chief Staley survives whistleblowing inquiry with fines

    Barclays said Jes Staley will be fined by British regulators for attempting to unmask a whistleblower, but will be able to keep his job as the bank’s chief executive. …

    Staley’s case is the first big test of Britain’s “senior managers regime” (SMR), aimed at making top banking officials personally accountable for their actions after few were punished for their roles in bank collapses during the financial crisis. …

    Legal experts question whether a light sanction for Staley could send a signal to other potential bank whistleblowers that they risk unmasking if they speak out. …

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