2:00PM Water Cooler 4/2/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I am in the midst of another Worksheet on the Democrat Party — this time categorizing candidates professionally and on #MedicareForAll suppport — and that always takes forever, even with an early start. So I’m going to finish that first, and then circle back here and add more more material. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert

P.S. I hope your Easter weekend was good. And I’m sorry Loyola of Chicago lost.

* * *

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, another cactus (EW):

EW writes: “A prickly pear cactus blooming in two colors in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.” That photo really does make you feel the desert sun, doesn’t it?

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the NC fundraiser. So do feel free to use the dropdown and click the hat to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!


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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. Ed

    It is remarkable how little press coverage or law enforcement attention has been paid to the fact that city governments in Atlanta and Baltimore, particularly their 911 systems, have been the focus for computer hacking and ransomware attacks.

    1. Louis Fyne

      presumably because the ransomware-malware was downloaded onto a system by an employee who was looking at porn during work. not by a genius russian.

      presumably the best practice is to have the core 911 functions isolated from the public internet.

      city hall doesn’t want to fess up to its own foibles

      1. makedoanmend

        Ah, but was it a genius Russian planted employee hand selected by Vlad Putin?

        I bet even the porn site was bogus. There’s no end to Boris’s & Natasha’s dastardly endeavours.

    2. ewmayer

      From a Reuters piece on the ransomware attack:

      “City officials have not disclosed the extent to which servers for backing up information on PCs were corrupted or what kind of information they think is unrecoverable without paying the ransom.”

      The concept of offsite backups appears novel to the folks running Atlanta’s IT infrastructure. Not one of those folks watches “Mr. Robot”?

  2. Tertium Squid

    Obama eases into post-presidential life

    Windsurfing and having fun and hanging with celebrities while the commonweal thrives would be one thing, but,

    Trump’s first year in office was focused on repealing Obama’s signature health-care law, and he has also sought to roll back his predecessor’s policies on global warming, immigration and financial reform.

    And crickets from Obama.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Yeah, you’d think that he’d be all up in arms or something.

      I mean, come on, Barack. You cashed in. But you don’t have to make it THIS obvious.

      1. cocomaan

        Trump also keeps insisting that Obama wiretapped him, which I think may have something to do with his silence.

        It would be a real Nixon move if true.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Trump is just Obama without the mask, I’m sure our mellifluous melanoderm Ex has a new kind of “Audacity of Hope”: the hope he can get a good table at North Pond, that the scientists really do find a way to clone him, that the mansion his book deal millions gets him will have a big sauna, and of course that his choom pipe be ever full

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            No . . . Trump is not Obama with the mask off. Obama was a power-money establishment agent moved into place over many years by patrons and handlers.

            Trump is a crude real-estate billionaire who crashed the political party. Not the same at all. Maybe not any better. But not the same.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It makes you wonder why Xi wants to be a life-time president, instead of cashing in.

        Perhaps his profit comes in a different form, not money per se, but more about power (which is worth more in some countries than others).

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The whole point of not having term limits was the trappings of being President were better than simply being wealthy. With term limits, one has to turn their attention to a post-Presidency. Two terms was a trend started by GW, but Presidents are usually pretty old and wear the country out after two terms anyway. In theory, a good President will continue to be re-elected, serving the electorate leaving only the twilight years where oodles of cash serve no point anyway.

          Look at Bill Clinton. Until Kerry lost and Hillary became viable, he was just Jeffrey Epstein’s wingman.

  3. JohnnyGL

    So, I’d like to drop a short anecdote here.

    I was visiting my dad for Easter and he had Fox News on, as he often does. We got to chatting about politics, as we often do. In the course of the conversation, my dad revealed who he voted for in the 2016 election.

    So get this, a guy with a 30+ year career in the defense industry who’s as conservative as anyone I can think of decided he couldn’t stomach Trump’s awfulness, even if he agreed with some of things he had to say. But, for my dad, voting for Clinton was untenable….so, he voted for….Jill Stein. Why? It was just a protest vote. Who says people can’t surprise you, sometimes???

    I feel like Robbie Mook quietly shed a tear somewhere at having lost an educated, suburban Republican voter in a state that didn’t matter.

    Just thought I’d share. I hope someone else gets a laugh out of that one.

    1. Daryl

      I voted for Jill Stein in Texas, although in my case it’s probably not much of a surprise to people who know me. I was told I was “throwing my vote away” by people who were, two weeks later, experts on the electoral college and how it works…

      Certainly feels a lot better than I would have if I’d voted for HillDawg.

      1. Edward E

        Jill Stein got my vote I think, but that was after three Flying Monkey Ale ‘Hoptical Illusions’ and an aborted attempt to early vote as they just simply ignored me. They probably know I have voted independents ever since Henry Ross Perot.

        1. a different chris

          Like I keep saying to the people who rail about Trump and Hillary but don’t vote – how the heck does anybody know what you’re thinking if you don’t send some sort of signal?

            1. JohnnyGL

              Pols and consultants can’t tell the difference between you and someone who thinks everything is just peachy and that all the options are so wonderful that any of them would be just dandy.

              It speaks much louder if you at least bother to show up and do ANY of the following:

              1) Leave a blank ballot
              2) Write in a name
              3) Vote 3rd party, even if you don’t like them.
              4) Rip up the ballot in front of the poll workers and tell them you’ve ‘had enough’. They’ll probably be sympathetic.

              There’s a mathematical effect, here. If turnout were, say 80%, for the presidency, but the winner only won by 29%-26% in the popular vote (electoral college aside for a minute). I think that would speak volumes to politicians, pundits, writers, etc. that there’s a large constituency of active, unhappy voters who are making an effort to be involved in the process but don’t like what’s being presented to them as viable options. Getting non-voters to vote is hard. Getting voters who show up consistently to get behind you is an easier task.

              Again, no one is claiming this is some kind of magic bullet, but in my opinion, it’s basically the least you can do. I did it. My parents did it. I’d like others to join us.

              Consider this an invitation.

      2. Kokuanani

        Yesterday I received an e-mail from one of my Hillary-supporter friends in CA, railing me with a quote from Politico about how Hillary’s margin of loss in MI, WI and PA was equal to the number of votes Jill Stein got in each of those states.

        I voted for Stein in MD, since it was [at least in that election] a solidly blue state, but I frequently receive similar criticism from H-bots. [I clearly need a better class of friends.] I pointed out that perhaps at least a couple of reasons for Hillary’s loss in those areas were her failure to campaign/devote campaign resources there, her smug conviction that she was going to win so she needn’t bother with them or urge them to get out to vote, her decision to put her resources into running up the vote in CA [coupled with her extreme ignorance re the electoral college]. Oh, I could go on, but I quit at that.

        These folks just don’t want to know and have no interest in discovering. They just blame.

        1. zapster

          Not to mention that Jill Stein’s recount efforts revealed that in Detroit, at least, Hillary was winning. Leaving hundreds of thousands of votes uncounted cost her the election. Failing to support the recount looked to me like she wasn’t at all serious about winning.

        2. JohnnyGL

          You should ask why Stein voters should vote for a party that hates them so much?

          Or, ask who’s fault is it really that Trump got elected? A few thousand Stein voters? Or a large-scale coordinated effort with the media by the Clinton campaign to make Trump the nominee as part of the ‘Pied Piper’ strategy?

          Maybe throw in that old picture of the Clintons at Trump’s wedding and ask why it is they got along so well back then?

          The Dem elites CREATED President Trump by aiding and abetting him every step of the way….make them own him.

          Maybe tone it down a bit if you want to keep those friends :)

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          How would the hillabot respond if you told it that it was the DemParty’s fault that you voted for Stein instead of the DemParty nominee because the DemParty nominated Clinton? How would the hillabot respond if you told it that you would have voted DemParty if the DemParty had nominated Sanders?

          Is there a way to say that which will make the hillabot so mad that it stops bothering you?

    2. Arizona Slim

      Reminds me of a story from the Arizona Slim file. Here goes:

      Back during the winter of 2006-07, Dad and I were headed out to the shooting range with our friend Lou. The deal was that Lou would do all the driving to and from (it was a 50-mile round trip) and supply the gunpowder (Lou was a Hercules retiree) as long as Dad loaded all the ammunition for us.

      As we got close to the range, Lou dropped a bombshell, and no it wasn’t loaded with the Hercules powder that Lou helped manufacture during his working days. Instead, the very Republican Lou told us that he was so disgusted with President Bush’s handling of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that he voted straight Democrat during the 2006 election.

      I darn near fell out of the car, I was that shocked. My Republican father sat in the front passenger seat, in stunned silence.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > he voted straight Democrat during the 2006 election.

        The last squandered wave. I remember how happy I was when the Democrats took control of the Senate. I took a picture of a bottle of champagne and posted it. Then Pelosi took impeachment off the table and buried the Mark “Can You Measure For Me?” scandal in the Ethics Committee. What a fool I was.

  4. Kael

    Lambert, thanks! A comprehensive tabulation is needed. FIY The UT-4 democrat Ben McAdams’s position is fix ACA, expand medicare, etc. No single payer. The Incumbent is Mia Love.

    1. Utah

      Another Utahn here? I love it! I am just commenting because it’s “presumed candidate.” We still have convention, and while I know that McAdams will win, it breaks my heart because he is a neoliberal Democrat who took corporate money as County Mayor and has lots of corporate PAC money donations via his FEC reports. I’ve not seen anything about expanding medicare, though, so that’s a step in the right direction, kind of, I guess. My guess is he gets 62% of the convention vote, just enough to avoid the primary. Folks in my circle aren’t fond of him. I also think he’ll lose to Mia Love because he has no message, thanks in large part to being a DCCC candidate.
      I know UT-2 isn’t a swing district, despite it being an R+16 vs UT-4 being R+13. But Shireen Ghorbani is an amazing candidate who is for medicare for all. Though, again, Utah hasn’t had convention (we’re a caucus state) yet, so she isn’t the candidate yet, either.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      You’re welcome, though the tabulation is getting pretty hard to do as a text file. I’d like the double the project in size to get further into Red territory — i.e., having a shot at covered all the 24 seats the Democrats need to take control of the House — but I’m thinking that although installing a SQL database and entering the data wouldn’t be that hard, writing the joins to create the “Dem Challengers” column might be pretty hard.

      Maybe a forms-driven database like FileMaker would be better. Does anybody know if there’s a free version out there, or a free equivalent? (On the Mac, please; I haven’t made the move to a *nix.)a

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        There was an old movie, and a Zen/Chan koan, called ‘Why Has Bodhidharma Left For the East?’

        Bodhidharma was an Indian prince from Madras, who went east to China, and was the first Chan Patriarch, more than 1,500 years ago.

        Today, gurus go west. It’s very hard to find them in say, Mali or Nigeria.

        “Why don’t (more) wise teachers go to Africa?”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That would be wise.

            “Rich Westerners deserve more spiritual help. They need yoga.”

          2. David Richard

            It was aggravating to see the Bhagwan hoovering up all that money simply to plow it into all those Rolls Royces.

            It seems to me if you’re going to do this commune thing right, you should set up your own currency. Free love and MMT baby!

            Or maybe that’s not where the Bhagwan’s head was at. For instance, did labor on the commune include a minimum wage? Or was it instead free room and board as long as you put in labor? If it was the latter, all currency was used for other types of transactions (in which case, the currency would have to be imported I think – from donors or purchasing of goods inside the commune). A good chunk would still be hoovered up at the top, in this case by the Bhagwan, but there wouldn’t be a need for him to recycle it back down into the commune if nobody was getting paid. So plow it into Rolls Royces instead?! Ultimately not very sustainable, which is what was mentioned in the program.

            If the Bhagwan used that money instead to buy goods from the surrounding community, imagine how much good will that would have generated. Talk about squandered opportunities.

        1. John

          Africans can’t incinerate the planet with nukes? Africans aren’t gorging on and squandering the world’s resources? Africans aren’t wiping out the human econiche? Africans aren’t the source of much of the world’s suffering?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            The wisdom was needed 2,000, 3000 years ago.

            It can liberate all, and it asks not whether you were in the Manhattan project or how many credit cards you had.

            I think they could use those wise teachers in Africa today.

        2. Been There Done That

          “Why don’t (more) wise teachers go to Africa?”
          Mystical teachings, such as those Bhagwan was giving, usually don’t interest people until their material needs are well met. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and all that.
          Even within India, it was only Indians well off enough to be jaded with materialism who came to Bhagwan.

    1. Lee

      Wild, Wild Country is on my watch list. Have you watched Babylon Berlin? I went from watching that to reading Philip Kerr’s Berlin Noire Trilogy. Given my reading preferences, I was quite surprised that I’d not heard of him until his works were mentioned here at NC after his recent death.

      1. neo-realist

        Luuuv Babylon Berlin. Terrific acting, terrific writing, stark depiction of the haves and have nots, and astounding attention to period detail.

    2. Dita

      Wild Wild Country is a corker! I did have some questions at the end though – what of the money that was taken. Allegedly.

      1. Been There Done That

        My guess would be that nothing like that was taken. Hard to believe that enough came in for her to take that much and still spend as much as was visibly spent.

    3. VietnamVet

      I was blown away by “Halt and Catch Fire”. I watched all four seasons in a couple of weeks on Netflix. I lived through 80s/90s and was caught up in computer revolution too. Now Wintel PCs have been superseded like the Silicon Start-Ups in the show. Apple is developing their own CPU. Intel stock tanked. Windows 10 with each forced update is more crapified. Microsoft is going to the cloud for growth. It is sad that it is all over. Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl commercial was fiction. The future is smart TVs and phones with universal surveillance. Inequality, environmental degradation and perpetual war are unaddressed;

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      Perhaps we should start calling it Borgazon.

      ” I am Locutus of Borgazon” (picture of Jeff Bezos wearing those “Pickard Locutus of Borg” head-implants.)

  5. savedbyirony

    Loyola and Sister Jean lost but Notre Dame not only won the WNCAA championship but they beat Uconn (the Alabama of women’s collegiate basketball and then some) in an overtime semifinal to get there. It was an injury ridden underdog upset of a different variety. What a women’s final four this year. Anyone else watch the women’s games. They were terrific.

    (i wonder if they will make the trip to the White House, assuming they are invited.)

      1. PKMKII

        Well technically it wasn’t a buzzer beater as there was still 0.1 seconds left on the clock. Supremely clutch shot, regardless.

    1. Kevin

      Good one!
      they are pretty high…up there. “Unalaska, Alaska” always struck me as funny.

  6. steelhead

    I was hoping for Loyola-Chicago/Kansas final even though I haven’t been to Mass since July 1993…

    1. Arizona Slim

      Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING is going to stop me from cheering for my beloved Michigan Wolverines. Go Blue!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        We should still work to preserve and re-extend honeybees to get wax and honey.

      1. clarky90

        It is the same compilation, but now used to make the opposite point, that the “right media” (not the “left” media) are reading from a script.

        Life was simple in my youth. I believed everything I read in the papers or watched on tv. Ha, now, not so much.

        Maybe there is a lot of scripting going on?

  7. Catman

    thank you very much for working on pulling together the Dem standing on medicare for all – big project, but we’ll very much appreciate the effort.
    As a relatively new Seattle transplant, I’m continually astonished by folks like Patty Murray. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am.

    1. Charger01

      Team Blue mutant, with super seniority in the DNC pecking order. She raises money for her party and her state, that’s it

      1. Joe Renter

        I agree. I voted for her a long time ago. I hope we can get her out office soon, what a tool.

    2. neo-realist

      Murray’s notoriety as well as financial backing from big pharma, big aerospace, and big dot.com and a relatively healthy state economy appear to keep any opposition from the democratic side at bay. You shouldn’t be surprised.

  8. Jim Haygood

    Pretty tricky: today the S&P 500 index closed a fraction of a point above its Feb 8th “line in the sand” low of 2,581 even, thanks to a bold final-hour rescue.

    For bots and human chart-huggers awaiting a definitive break of the Feb 8th low, today’s close just barely averted a clear-cut sell signal.

    VIX — the volatiity index — reached 23.6, a level which signifies worry but hardly panic. VIX briefly spiked to 50 in the early February selloff, indicating real fear.

    Unfortunately until the MSM runs big, black STOCK BLOODBATH headlines, the market swoon probably is not over yet.

    Meanwhile, former wunderkind Amazon shed more than five percent today. When market leaders are being taken out and shot, there’s trouble afoot.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The world would not, in theory anyway, be in more trouble it was in, say, around Oct 2017, should the market return to that level.

      I mean, we weren’t screaming ‘end of the world’ more or louder during that month than we typically did, even though the stock world at that time was valued less than it would a month or two later.

    2. Clive

      Yes, only the FT doing any serious reporting (as you might expect given its target readership):

      Nasdaq falls sharply as Amazon and Tesla weigh on shares

      Tech-heavy index slumps into correction territory

      … currently the headline here from a U.K. IP address.

      Everyone else? Anything but.

      And merely an anecdotal, but my recent sojourn into retail-land revealed shocking levels of cost cutting and crapification. Even in middle class stalwarts. I know we’ve covered this topic ad nauseam but it’d reached a level I never thought possible. Amazon and the bricks-and-mortar survivors locked in a mutual death grip.

      1. Jim Haygood

        An ETF that tracks the S&P Retail index is off about 12 percent from the late January high. Chart:


        Amazon, by comparison, is off about 14 percent from its high.

        The broader message may be that US consumers are tapped out. Rising Libor is squeezing anyone exposed to variable-rate loans. Meanwhile petrol prices have popped rather viciously in our area.

        Running them monster trucks with fat off-road tires is becoming a real cash drain for mountain folk and citified wannabes. :-(

        1. ambrit

          Sometime last year, we were riding through Baton Rouge in the back seat of our daughters family SUV. A big, and I mean big, offroad tyred pickup truck tried to muscle its’ way in ahead of us on the Interstate arterial road, at about seventy miles an hour speed. Our daughter, who was driving was heard to mutter ‘sotto voice;’ “What, your d–k isn’t big enough? You have to take it out on your truck?” Phyllis didn’t know how to respond. I started laughing. Sasha, who is twelve years old looked like she didn’t know whether to laugh or appear outraged. Daughter said in response; “I didn’t say that. OK?” Everyone promptly shut up.
          But, as Comrade Haygoods comment pointed out, that weasel d—-d cowboy had a tiny wallet to go with his minuscule genitalia.

          1. Clive

            Yes, whenever I see one of those things (my best love-to-hate here is a Range Rover V8 5.0 CO₂ emissions g/km: 294, Urban Fuel Economy mpg: 15.7, Extra Urban Fuel Economy mpg: 28.5, Combined Fuel Economy mpg: 22.1) I can’t help but utter a rude word or two.

            These figures are for imperial gallons so slightly larger than US ones but gas prices here are currently an eye watering $7.60 / gallon (~ish). A chronic coke habit would be cheaper to run.

            The guy — and it is, invariably, a guy — is, ah-hem definitely going to be suffering from shall we say a bit of a shortage at the pumps.

            1. ambrit

              Ouch! $7.60 per, even for Imperial Gallons!
              Not trying to be cruel but, we’re paying $2.35 a U.S. Gallon right now.
              Would I be too far out of line to think that England has much more in the way of public transport services per citizen or per mile than America? If gasoline went up to the English prices, a large part of the populace here would be reduced to shanks mare. All sorts of knock on deleterious effects would result. Less shopping for one thing, since access to shopping centeres here is heavily car dependent. The old style traditional downtown shopping districts, which people could take the bus to and from are now all but gone. Most shops are now in satellite shopping zones, often without public transport regional connecting arteries.
              Then, let us not even consider how a tripling of motor fuel prices would effect all those internet sales deliveries.
              Considering the Alchemists’ Credo; “As above, so below,” it follows that our Big Truck Guy would suffer a diminished moral and intellectual capacity to go along with his ‘challenged’ generative facilities.

    3. Tim

      As a technical guy who’s been through many bubble blow offs, it looks like the entire market made one in late January.

      It’s most obvious looking at a 10 year chart from 10 feet away for the S&P and NASDAQ.

      Seeing the market leaders getting taken to the woodshed 1 by one over a very short period of time following a failed attempt at new all time highs is all we need to know. The reasons in the news are just excuses to sell.

      P/E compression here we come!

      Oh, and because the stock market leads the economy my 6-9 months, recession must be in the cards for Q4.

      Put that into your 2018 democrat wave election probability calculations..

      1. Jim Haygood

        As the yield on the 10-year Treasury note falls (meaning that its price is going up on safe haven buying) the 2-year yield rises ever closer to the 10-year yield.

        Today the 2-year yield is 2.24% and the 10-year is 2.73%, making a gap of 49 basis points. Thus two more Fed rate hikes potentially could push the 2-year yield above the 10-year, inverting the yield curve.

        Inverted yield curves reliably signal coming recessions, with a variable lag of a year or two. A recession in 2020 probably would make Trump a one-term president like Jimmy Carter, who got punished for an election year recession in 1980 (preceded by an inverted yield curve).

        A Q4 2018 recession, should it occur, wouldn’t be validated by the official arbiter (NBER) until mid-2019 or later. This would give Republicans welcome deniability. But if Americans are paying over $3.00 a gallon for gas come November, a lot of Trump-Pence stickers are gonna get ripped off of Silverado and Ram and F150 rear bumpers. Don’t tax mah truck, bro.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Just wait till Trump voters have to pay gas with the Chinese Yuan.

          “Twenty yuan for one gallon of gas?”

          1. ambrit

            At the present exchange rate, twenty yuan for a gallon of gasoline sounds about right for the near future. (Of note will be the rise and state suppression of the energy flow philosophy of Galoon Gong, or “Energy Wheel Fluid.”)
            More interestingly is the prospect of photovoltaic output being indirectly priced in Yuan.
            He who controls the sources of the raw materials sets the price. No wonder the Chinese are investing in Africa.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The Africans might come to enjoy their new Chinese overlords more than they enjoyed their old European overlords. At least the Africans will get to decide.

              And the Africans can always console themselves with the thought . . . ” oh well, at least the Chinese aren’t white.”

    4. Ed Miller

      Stock Market: With the synchronized fake news scare on Sinclair broadcasting stations and the growing discontent and strikes by teachers I am beginning to think that things might finally becoming unglued for the powers that be. Teachers strikes and public awakening of MSM propaganda could be a powerful force, especially because 2018 elections aren’t really that far away. Can the discontent be suppressed by fall?

      Teachers might be the force that turns the public away from the status quo. Next up? Nurses for M4A gaining traction?

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > For bots and human chart-huggers awaiting a definitive break of the Feb 8th low, today’s close just barely averted a clear-cut sell signal.

      Why on earth is hitting some random close considered a “signal”? Because everybody else thinks it’s a signal? Why not just buy an amulet? Or, er, play the numbers?

      1. ambrit

        Chart reading IS playing the numbers.
        Humans have this propensity to search out patterns in nature. Now, for how ‘natural’ the human economy is, I’ll plead the fifth.

  9. Anonymized

    Is anyone else a reader of the Tom the Dancing Bug comic strip?


    I usually enjoy it but it’s become increasingly clear that the creator has insider Democrat loyalties. There’s no other explanation for him not skewering Hilary’s electoral disaster and going along with the Russiagate nonsense. Somebody please tell me I’m wrong.

    1. Aleric

      I used to be a fan of Tom the Dancing Bug, but it’s been unreadable since Trump was elected. Same deal with McSweeny’s Trump-related bits – the counterbalancing series on “Life among the Liberal Elite” also feel strained. Maybe I’ve just lost my sense of humor due to too much time reading Naked Cap.

    2. flora

      Methinks R.B. is, uh, mindful of his syndicated outlet editors’ political opinions – WaPo and LATimes, among others. Gotta pay the rent, as they say. Getting booted from high-paying outlets and watching his syndication outlets shrink won’t feed his family. Not that this is what’s happening. But cartooning like most art is a business, if you want to make a living at it.

      1. flora

        adding: the LATimes treatment of one of its now-former cartoonists – Ted Rall – is instructive.

        1. flora

          adding adding: imagine what NC would look like if it were syndicated to WaPo and LATimes and other MSM. One shudders to think…

    3. flora

      One more comment, then I’ll stop.
      The cartoon you linked to and earlier Dancing Bug cartoons seem to me more like “filler” than “content”, as if the artist must produce something that does not offend the patrons but also does not reflect the artist’s real or deeper thoughts. imo. See for example the Spanish painter Goya’s painting of the Spanish royal family – so different in the thoughts-of-the-observer approach from his paintings and etchings of the Spanish civil war. The lack of content is itself a form of content.

      1. Anonymized

        That’s a great analogy! You’re probably right that the artist doesn’t want to alienate his patrons. He could switch over to webcomics but that’s not an easy racket. I think I read a while back that he actually has a regular job in the finance industry but I don’t know if that’s still the case.

  10. allan

    Rep. Esty won’t run for reelection after mishandling harassment allegations [Politico]

    Tragic news for the New Democrat Coalition. From 2014:

    Why she’s proud to be a New Dem:

    “We need to set a thoughtful course to long-term job growth by investing in research and development, rewarding innovation, and ensuring small businesses and manufacturers have the support they need to grow and compete. The New Democrat Coalition recognizes opportunities to promote sustainable economic growth. I’m proud to be a part of the New Democrat Coalition, and I look forward to continuing to work with my New Dem colleagues to help our businesses in Connecticut and around the country innovate, hire, and thrive.”

    Her pragmatic, problem-solving experience:

    As a state representative and on her local town council, Elizabeth made her mark as an advocate for responsible budgeting and job creation. She worked to balance the budget while providing property tax relief to seniors and ensuring strong funding for public schools. …

    Elizabeth’s innovative policy entrepreneurship:

    In Congress, Elizabeth has worked tirelessly to provide manufacturers and small businesses with the certainty they need to grow and create good-paying jobs. …

    Spoken like a true Republican.

  11. DonCoyote

    Any New Jersey/East Coast NC’ers know anything about Lindsay Brown, NJ-07? According to Cook’s, it’s a tossup (others have it Lean R), and was on the DCCC “Targeted Republican seat” list they released in early 2017 (as were 68 others, so that’s a lot of targets).

    She’s running in the primary as a Republican (Republican incumbent), but as a self-described “progressive activist” and a reasonably progressive platform: single payer, paid family leave, fair trade (including tariffs), criminal justice reform. That would put her to the left of the majority of Democrats, of which there are three in the primary, one of whom is also a self-described “progressive activist” (and is a Justice Democrat with an even more progressive platform).

    Sounds like an interesting race. According to this story, she: “…changed her party affiliation to vote against Trump in the primary and has been open about her strategy of running as a Republican in a gerrymandered red district.” So while the Democrats attack Trump on the right (more spying, more war), she attacks on the left.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      If the DCCC/DSCC can recruit Republicans to run in Democratic districts, I don’t see why a Republican who’s sick of what the Libertarian Koch brothers et al. have done to their party can’t run on a progressive platform in districts so heavily Republican a Democrat likely doesn’t have a snowball’s chance.

      More important, someone like that is driving a wedge into the solidified idea that it’s about which party you vote for instead of which candidate; and isn’t that the real problem? I’m not the only one who’s compared what passes for election campaigning these days as just another sporting event where who’s playing and how doesn’t matter, that it’s all about which team wins.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “By any means necessary”

        There’s no reason oligarchs should have a lock on any party at all, really. Why not?

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Brand New Congress is supporting at least one progressive Republican—I don’t know if it’s that one or another. Maybe we should just start referring to the GOP as what it’s become—the Libertarian Party. That way, real Republicans might be willing to step out of the shadows.

          1. DonCoyote

            Yes, a handful of candidates are consciously doing this:

            A story on this from last November mentions Lindsay Brown, Rob Ryerse (AK-03), and Sam Ronan (OH-01).

            Here’s a youtube link for Brown, and a lengthy justification from Ronan, who ran for DNC chair last year.

            Brown says “the Democratic brand is toxic to progressives”, and that she is “planning to reframe progressive policies in the language that conservatives speak”. So a few Republican primaries to potentially watch…

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Are there any such Republicans left who still bear the Republican label? Didn’t they all become Clintonites?

  12. Pogonip

    What we thought was a Xmas cactus is blooming like crazy. Maybe it’s Jewish.

    It did bloom in December, but instead of going dormant as the days lengthened as it should have it just continued blooming more and more.

    1. swangeese

      Maybe it is an Easter cactus?

      I have a small army of Christmas and Easter cacti that I grow under lights. They didn’t bloom because I kept forgetting to cover them to shorten the light period. Oops!

      I grow other plants that need the lights so I can’t just switch them off.

    2. ambrit

      s/ It’s probably reacting to the fluctuating terrestrial magnetic fields leading up to the pole reversal. /s

    3. Phillip Allen

      Winter and early spring-blooming cacti commonly called Christmas Cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, and similar are all in the genus Schlumbergera and are widely hybridized and selected. Small differences of temperature, light and moisture can all contribute to variations in blooming season and time in the same plant. I have seen some plants stay in bloom for almost 6 months. Schlumbergera are a rewarding group of plants well-suited to indoor cultuvation without a greenhouse. They are rain forest epiphytes in nature, but surprisingly willing to grow well in almost any potting medium. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlumbergera

  13. Altandmain

    Well, if you want a chart of tax breaks by income bracket with the GOP tax law:

    Rather depressing, but the brutal truth.

    On the note of Tesla
    Someone reproduced a similar incident to that Autopilot death:


    This one was shot in Indiana, but the point is that it seems quite similar, only at lower speeds of course.

    There are quite a few videos all over Youtube of errors made by the Autopilot system.


    Bottom line is, don’t rely on this Autopilot system!

    1. ambrit

      If I were a cynic I’d suspect that Corbyn is trying to whipsaw the UK MSM by displaying a politically ‘balanced’ set of behaviours. He can neuter a lot of that MSMs’ attack ‘journalism’ against him and his ‘side’ by making ‘them’ take increasingly extreme positions in opposition to themselves. Just like breaking a wire through frictional heating; as one bends something back and forth, it eventually breaks as a result of the internally occurring heat from frictions.
      This man didn’t get to be head of his Party by being a fool.

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