2:00PM Water Cooler 4/20/2018

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been considering a combative strategy to compel Congress to approve a new NAFTA deal this year — withdrawing from the existing pact to force a vote on a new one, according to current and former administration officials” [Politico]. “The take-it-or-leave-it strategy has been under consideration internally for months. The thinking is that Congress will have to approve whatever terms are in the new deal quickly, lest the U.S. is left hanging without an agreement with two of its largest trading partners. The strategy is an attempt to get around a Congress that may not approve the new agreement if the choice were between the status quo and NAFTA 2.0.”

“Mexico Didn’t Hit the Jackpot With Nafta” [Bloomberg]. “Since 1993, the year before the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect, per capita gross domestic product in Mexico is up about 26 percent in real terms. That’s a lot better than the outright decline in per capita GDP that the country had experienced over the course of the 1980s. But it’s nowhere close to the 41 percent gains in real GDP per capita experienced by Canada and the U.S., the other signatories of Nafta, 1 not to mention China, where GDP per capita is up more than 600 percent since 1993.”

“China’s hidden shipbuilding subsidies and their impact on its industrial dominance” [Microeconomic Insights]. From 2017, still germane. “In 2006, China identified shipbuilding as a ‘strategic industry’ and introduced a plan for its development. In a short time, its market share had doubled from 25% to 50%, leaving Japan, South Korea and Europe trailing behind…. How does one gain an insight into the Chinese government’s support for firms when the measures applied are secret? My work uses techniques that combine data on firm choices and an economic model to detect the presence of subsidies. In particular, my approach aims at uncovering a ‘gap’ between the observed firm choices (in this case production) and the choices the model would imply.”

“A decades-old imbalance in car-trade could be a sticking point in U.S.-Japan trade talks. Japanese car exports to the U.S. are booming, lifted by the growing popularity of SUVs among American consumers. It’s a sore point for President Donald Trump…, and stakes are high for Japan, whose auto industry is far more important than its steel industry” [Wall Street Journal]. “While many Japanese cars sold in the U.S. are assembled at American plants, those factories are weighted heavily toward sedans. Toyota Motor Corp. is importing more RAV4s from Japanese plants, while Nissan Motor Co.’s exports to the U.S. rose by a third last year, led by its Rogue crossover SUV. The U.S. share of the Japanese car market remains tiny, partly because Japanese buyers prefer smaller, more fuel-efficient models.”



“Thomas Frank: Trump Could Win the 2020 Election” (interview) [Thomas Frank, The Nation]. Nice to see Thomas Frank finally breaking through in the U.S. market. The whole interview is worth a read, but here’s the key point: “But something else happened in the [Clinton era of the] late 1990s: Wages grew for the first and only time since the 1970s. Real wages for average workers grew, when adjusted for inflation. In the country that you and I grew up in, Jon, that used to be common. That happened every year. Nowadays, it never happens…. Wages will go up by themselves if unemployment gets low enough and stays low enough for long enough. If the economy runs hot, if it runs at maximum capacity for a couple years, wages will start to grow—because employers will be bidding for labor, bidding for workers. And here’s the thing: We’re almost there right now. There are lots of signs out there that wages are starting to grow. Unemployment has been low for quite a while. In one county in Wisconsin, unemployment is so low and the job market is so tight that employers are hiring people straight out of prison. Walmart has actually raised its starting wage—which is an incredible thing…. Trump is a buffoon and a scoundrel and a national embarrassment, but this is something he understands. We know he understands it because he talked about it all the time on the campaign trail—and because of the choices that he has made as president. For example, the guy that he appointed to chair of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell. This guy is not going to jack up interest rates like Paul Volcker back in the 1970s. It would be stupid to try to guess what the Federal Reserve is going to do, but my opinion is that he is probably going to let this thing roll. And Trump wants it to roll.” Liberal Democrats: “Wages lol.”

“Eric Holder headed to New Hampshire for high-profile event” [The Hill]. “Holder’s trip to the early primary state follows remarks from the former Obama administration official suggesting the possibility of a 2020 run in his future. The former attorney general told The New York Times in March that he would only run if he thought he could ‘unify’ the country against the Trump administration. In an interview with MSNBC’s ‘All In with Chris Hayes’ this week, he confirmed he was ‘thinking about’ a run.” Everybody’s measuring the drapes for the Oval Office, even those without a snowball’s chance of hell of getting there.

UPDATE Playing Christmas carols in the stores before Halloween. 2020 hasn’t started yet! Has it?

Apparently, liberal Democrats are all over this, and I’m glad they’re supporting sex workers (Stormy Daniels, too!) I just wish they could find it in their hearts to support all workers. Anyhow, I would need to have the story confirmed with dates and witnesses:

2018 Midterms

UPDATE “Challenger Democrats are outraising GOP incumbents in the race for the House” [Open Secrets]. “As Republicans prepare to defend a narrow majority in the House, 14 Democratic challengers have outraised GOP incumbents so far this cycle ahead of November’s midterms…. Two races considered toss-ups — California’s 48th and New York’s 19th — showcase six-figure deficits for Republican incumbents. Democrat Harley Rouda is outraising Dana Rohrabacher by almost $326,000 in California, and Antonio Delgado is outdoing John Faso in New York by $295,000.” We are tracking CA-48 and NY-19.

UPDATE TX: “Poll: Cruz, O’Rourke Are Neck and Neck in Texas” [RealClearPolitics]. “Cruz led O’Rourke, 47 percent-44 percent, which is within the margin of error, according to a survey from Quinnipiac. It’s the first major public poll of the race and is likely to fuel Democratic hopes that the little-known three-term El Paso congressman is in the running to unseat Cruz. Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate for three decades, but O’Rourke has drawn headlines for his fundraising — he brought in $6.7 million in the first quarter of this year and is nearly even with Cruz in cash on hand.”

UPDATE NY: Holy moley, does Cuomo think voters believe this?

Why not just say “working class,” and cover the waterfront? Oh, wait, right, no…

WI: “Democrats see Wisconsin as proving ground for party revival” [AP]. “The epicenter of the Republican resurgence of eight years ago, Wisconsin is now the proving ground for a Democratic revival. The work of Miller and activists like her could play an important role in the fight for control of the House and Senate in November’s midterm elections. But their goal is more broad. One knock at a time, Democrats are seeking to rebuild their hold on the Upper Midwest and with it their hopes of winning the White House in 2020…. Though Wisconsin Republicans lead Democrats in fundraising this year, the Democrats’ cause is attracting financial backing unseen in Wisconsin in recent years. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s group contributed more than $500,000 to the Democrats’ preferred Supreme Court candidate. California billionaire Tom Steyer has named Wisconsin one of the 10 states where he plans to spend some of the $30 million he’s committed to promoting Democrats, including $2.5 million to organize young voters, who can help drive up turnout in liberal hubs of Madison and Milwaukee.” Heaven forfend a Democrat revival be driven by small donors….

CA: “Billionaire Democratic activist Tom Steyer endorses Kevin de León in his insurgent bid against Sen. Dianne Feinstein” [Los Angeles Times]. It’s OK. He’s a good billionaire (to be fair, Steyer could be a Duc D’Orleans; class traitors are important. I have my doubts.)

“Four hundred and seventy-two women have entered the race for the House this year, which is a lot of women. Fifty-seven women have filed or are likely to file their candidacies for the Senate. A useful comparison is to 2012, which marked the last big wave of female candidates: two hundred and ninety-eight ran for the House, thirty-six for the Senate. The number of women likely running for governor this year, seventy-eight, is a record high. The majority of female candidates in 2018 are Democrats, so it seems safe to conclude that many of them are fuelled by frustration, not to say fury, with Donald Trump” [Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker]. After the discussion of the diversity of the candidates, I waited for a summation of policy, but — hold onto your hats here, folks — Talbot never went there. I’m glad that women are running, but as Sanders says, the fact of their womenhood is “not enough.” If Obama didn’t teach us that ascriptive identity doesn’t drive policy, what is it going to take? It’s worth remembering that the enomously destructive “Lost Cause” mythology — our own prefigurative version of the Dolchstoßlegende — was devised and propagated by women: The Daughters of the Confederacy.

New Cold War

“The Psychology of Russiagate” (interview) [Glenn Greenwald, Jacobin]. “In general I think we under-appreciate the extent to which the Trump victory was a traumatizing and disorienting event for most people, in part because all of us were assured by data experts that the chances were overwhelmingly high that Clinton was going to win and Trump was going to lose. It’s also obvious that Trump, in terms of how he comports himself, is at odds with the way the American presidency has been constructed in terms of image, and the way Americans have been taught to think about their presidents. So those two factors combined to make this an extremely confusing, disorienting event that dislodged people from the certainty that they feel about how the world works and their ability to understand it. And when events like that happen, you crave an explanation that makes sense and that lets you feel like the world is safe and understandable again. And that’s what religions, for centuries, have most successfully exploited — the desire for a hard to understand complicated world that lacks explanations that are digestible … to provide those.”

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE “‘They Were Never Going to Let Me Be President’” [Amy Chozik, New York Times]. Guess who.

Health Care

I get mail:

As I keep saying, preventing #MedicareForAll is the liberal Democrat leadership’s #1 goal; they can’t let the left leverage “the wave” for that purpose. Hence, bait-and-switch proposals like this one, accompanied by a chorus of adulation from the usual suspects.

Realignment and Legitimacy

The Democrats’ Gentrification Problem” [Thomas Edsall, New York Times]. “Last week, in an essay for CityLab, Richard Florida, a professor of urban planning at the University of Toronto, described how housing costs are driving the growing division between upwardly and downwardly mobile populations within Democratic ranks…. Allies on Election Day, the two wings of the Democratic Party are growing further estranged in other aspects of their lives, driven apart by the movement of advantaged and disadvantaged populations within and between cities. These demographic patterns exacerbate intraparty tensions.” An interesting way to slice the Democratic Party, for sure — and no doubt a handy hook for some liberal Democrat policy entrepreneur. Oddly, or not, Edsall doesn’t really have a coherent answer to why some Democrat voters are upwardly mobile, and others downwardly mobile, although he gestures vaguely toward de-unionization.

“Tote-Bag-Culture Etiquette” [The New Yorker]. I’m so old I remember when New Yorker cartoons used to be funny.

“The Dream of a Republican New Deal” [Geoffrey Kabaservice, New York Times]. “[T]he [Republican] party should approach the elections under the banner of an ambitious program to bring economic revival to the working class. The starting point for such a program would be Mr. Trump’s campaign-trail commitment to rebuild our decaying national infrastructure — including the roads, schools, hospitals and other civic assets that have been squeezed by conservative cutbacks. A Trump New Deal could also include other elements with strong appeal to working-class voters, such as vigorous support for universal entitlements like Social Security and Medicare (as opposed to means-tested programs that benefit only the poor), robust wage subsidies, a generous child care tax credit and apprenticeship programs linked to specific high-skilled jobs…. Political scientists who specialize in what’s called “realignment theory” point out that America’s two main political parties have flipped constituencies and ideologies in the past. Before the New Deal, the Democrats were predominantly a rural, socially conservative agrarian party allied with a number of urban political machines, while Republicans were advocates of powerful government and the party of intellectuals, African-Americans and the native-born working class.” Intriguing, but I’m thinking that what unites both parties is hatred of the working class, and fealty to their respective factions in the donor class. Na ga happen. Though I’ll keep a file open in The Department of Schadenfreude in case I’m wrong…

Joy Reid on the Bush administration:

Just because Obama voted to retroactively legalize Bush’s program of warrantless surveillance didn’t make it legal at the time. “Rule of law” my sweet Aunt Fanny. These people have lost their minds.

UPDATE “How Neoliberalism Worms Its Way Into Your Brain” [Nathan Robinson, Current Affairs]. “Neoliberalism, then, is the best existing term we have to capture the almost universal convergence around a particular set of values. We don’t have debates over whether the point of teaching is to enrich the student’s mind or prepare the student for employment, we have debates over how to prepare students for employment. Economic values become the water we swim in, and we don’t even notice them worming their way into our brains. The word is valuable insofar as it draws our attention to the ideological frameworks within which debates occur, and where the outer boundaries of those debates lie. The fact that everyone seems to agree that the purpose of education is ‘job skills,’ rather than say, ‘the flourishing of the human mind,’ shows the triumph of a certain new kind of liberalism, for which I can only think of one word.” Starts out hating on the word, ends up saying it’s the only one that does the job.

Stats Watch

No officials stats today.

Retail: “Consumer-goods companies are struggling to raise prices as shoppers hunt for bargains online. That has left companies like Procter & Gamble Co. struggling to pass along rising supply-chain costs as they try to pull in more revenue from consumers by selling more products” [Wall Street Journal]. “Many U.S. shoppers now buy household staples on the cheap from Amazon.com Inc. or from discount retailers, making it harder for companies to raise prices there. Surging transportation costs are also crimping margins for shippers, as strong demand and near-record spot-market prices give carriers leverage in freight contracts.”

Shipping: “Fuel prices are becoming an increasingly important factor in shipping costs. The average U.S. price of $3.104 per gallon hasn’t been as high since January 2015. And bunker prices for carriers are near highest levels of the past year, close to $400 per metric ton in Singapore” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “Container spot rates hold steady, but carrier hopes price rises will stick are fading” [The Loadstar]. “Container freight rates on the major headhaul trades from Asia stabilised this week, however, they remain significantly below the levels of a year ago.”

The Bezzle: “The ‘Terms and Conditions’ Reckoning Is Coming” [Bloomberg]. “The incomprehensibility of user agreements is poised to change as tech giants such as Uber Technologies Inc. and Facebook Inc. confront pushback for mishandling user information, and the European Union prepares to implement new privacy rules called the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The measure underscores “the requirement for clear and plain language when explaining consent,” British Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham wrote on her blog last year…. GDPR, which comes into force in Europe in May and calls for fines as high as 4 percent of a company’s global revenue for violations, will make it tougher to get away with book-length user agreements, says Eduardo Ustaran, co-director of the cybersecurity practice at law firm Hogan Lovells. He suggests that companies streamline their rules and make sure they’re written in plain English.” Finally, work for English majors! Oh, wait. You just know they’re going to try to auto-translate it all..

The Bezzle: “Just About Everyone with Bitcoin is Lying to the IRS” [Gizmodo]. ” According to a recent report, fewer than 100 people have reported bitcoin holdings so far. The figure, reported by CNBC, comes from Credit Karma, a popular financial app through which people can view their credit score and file taxes. Of the more than 250,000 people who have filed through Credit Karma this year, a whopping 0.0004 percent have claimed to have money in bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. This means one of two things: either the incredible rise and completely inevitably fall of the cryptocurrency market was all just a fever dream and no one actually put a single cent into the inherently risky concept because they all knew safe, reliable investment options were available… or a bunch of people are lying to the IRS.”

Five Horsemen: “Apple stumbles after Taiwan Semiconductor says iPhone chip orders are lower than expected” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Apr 20 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index eases to 54 (complacency) after yesterday’s mild market decline” [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 19 2018

The 420

“It’s 4/20 and Marijuana’s Prospects Have Never Looked Brighter” [247 Wall Street]. “One week ago today, Colorado Senator Cory Gardner, a Republican, extracted a commitment from President Trump that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s rescission of the Cole Memorandum will have no impact on Colorado’s legal marijuana industry. The president also committed to supporting federal legislation that would acknowledge states’ rights on legalization of marijuana. If Trump delivers, the federal prohibition on sales and use of marijuana will effectively be over.”

“Chuck Schumer will celebrate 4/20 by introducing marijuana decriminalization bill” [Daily Dot]. Nothing wrong with a little shameless pandering, but Schumer’s bill doesn’t include an amnesty. Cory Booker, bless his heart, has a better bill; Booker’s decriminalization is retroactive. Why are the pioneers who made the market in jail?

Happy days are here again:

For some people, anyhow:

“420′s long, strange trip to pot holiday began in California” [AP]. “Friday is April 20, or 4/20. That’s the numerical code for marijuana’s high holiday, a homage to pot’s enduring appeal and universal slang for smoking. Festivities are planned worldwide, culminating with a synchronized smoke at 4:20 p.m. [So you still have time.] … [David’ and his four buddies — Steve Capper, Larry Schwartz, Jeff Noel and Mark Gravich — were a stoner clique who hung out at a particular wall between classes at San Rafael High School. They dubbed themselves “The Waldos,” a term coined by comedian Buddy Hackett to describe odd people… The code remained confined to The Waldos’ social circle until they began hanging out backstage at Grateful Dead concerts. Reddix’s older brother was friends with band member Phil Lesh and that led to backstage passes and smoking sessions with the roadies and other crew members, who picked up the code.”

I can’t find a Grateful Dead song about this particular drug, so Fire on the Mountain, because Phil Lesh was my favorite Beatle:

The black-and-white film makes it really clear that the venue is filled with… some sort of smoke…

Facebook Fracas

“Facebook starts its facial recognition push to Europeans” [TechCrunch]. “But under impending changes to its [Terms and Conditions (T&Cs)] — ostensibly to comply with the EU’s incoming GDPR data protection standard — the company has crafted a manipulative consent flow that tries to sell people on giving it their data; including filling in its own facial recognition blanks by convincing Europeans to agree to it grabbing and using their biometric data after all. Users who choose not to switch on facial recognition still have to click through a ‘continue’ screen before they get to the off switch. On this screen Facebook attempts to convince them to turn it on — using manipulative examples of how the tech can ‘protect” them.'” Dark patterns. Facebook is starting to look worse than Uber: Uber is crooked, top to bottom, but they know they’re crooks. Facebook, I’m guessing, still thinks of themselves as “good guys.”

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“When Black Writers Were Public Enemy No. 1” [Politico]. “In the heart of the 20th century, beginning decades before the FBI’s campaign against Martin Luther King Jr., the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and, later, the Black Panthers, dozens of allegedly subversive African-American poets, novelists, essayists and playwrights were distinct targets of the agency, whose surveillance of this group was thorough, far-reaching and sometimes ruthless. The extensive scope of this surveillance is only now coming into focus, thanks to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).”

UPDATE For example: “Atlanta Activist Uses Russian-Backed Media To Spread Message” [NPR]. Atlanta’s NPR station, shocking. “Anoa Changa is a progressive activist and political commentator in Atlanta. When I met her recently, Changa was preparing to record a segment for her own podcast and YouTube channel ‘The Way with Anoa.’… Changa has interviewed a handful of Sanders-aligned congressional candidates on her show…. By agreeing to appear on two Sputnik programs, Changa gained something hard to find: a bigger platform to broadcast her political views. But Changa’s association with Sputnik may put her credibility at risk, while furthering Russia’s effort to create chaos in the U.S.” Chaos! Hold my pearls, I’m heading for the fainting couch!

Class Warfare

“Wanted: Policies to Encourage and Enable Work in Advanced Economies” [IMF Blog]. “[T]here are considerable differences in the evolution and composition of aggregate labor force participation rates—defined as the fraction of population, ages 15 and over, either working or looking for work—in advanced economies. For example, participation by women has increased dramatically since the mid-1980s. More recently, participation has picked up considerably among older workers, while it has fallen among the young. In almost all advanced economies, prime-age men, particularly those with lower educational attainment, have become increasingly detached from the labor force. The United States stands out among advanced economies having experienced a decline in both female and male prime-age labor force participation.” Just spitballing here, but maybe there’s something, er, exceptionally sucky about our labor market?

News of The Wired

“One Small Step for Preprints, One Giant Step Forward for Open Scientific Communications” [PLOS.org]. “Posting your work before formal peer review has significant advantages….”

“The illusion of time” [Nature]. “According to theoretical physicist Carlo Rovelli, time is an illusion: our naive perception of its flow doesn’t correspond to physical reality…. So what does Rovelli think is really going on? He posits that reality is just a complex network of events onto which we project sequences of past, present and future. The whole Universe obeys the laws of quantum mechanics and thermodynamics, out of which time emerges. … In the final section, “The Sources of Time”, Rovelli reconstructs how our illusions have arisen, from aspects of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics. He argues that our perception of time’s flow depends entirely on our inability to see the world in all its detail. Quantum uncertainty means we cannot know the positions and speeds of all the particles in the Universe. If we could, there would be no entropy, and no unravelling of time. Rovelli originated this ‘thermal time hypothesis‘ with French mathematician Alain Connes.” Wait. So we don’t get rounder as we go faster, because there’s no faster?

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“Mature cone of Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca.” Moar bokeh.

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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. Jim Haygood

    Happy 4/20 day … if you’re caucasian, that is:

    Some 86% of people who are arrested for possessing marijuana in New York City are black or Latino, according to New York’s City Council.

    The top five neighborhoods for marijuana arrests in New York are all in East Harlem and the South Bronx, areas that are some of the city’s least wealthy, and that are home to many people of color.


    When New York first criminalized cannabis in 1927, proponents’ hostile rhetoric was aimed at caricatures of minorities: “black jazz musicians” and “Mexican peon tomato pickers.”

    Ninety years on, New York’s war on drugs (which reached peak fanaticism with the lock-’em-up-for-life Rockefeller Drug Laws of the 1960s) is still delivering bountifully on its objective: feed the Gulag with people of color.

    “There are a lot of good reasons for legalizing marijuana, but for me, it comes down to this: We have to stop putting people of color in jail for something that white people do with impunity,” Cynthia Nixon said.

    Cuomo 420 2020! /sarc

    1. thepanzer

      I asked my H&R block rep when i filed this year if she’s seeing any crypto filing for taxes, expecting her to just blink at me and say “what’s crypto?” Instead she was very familiar with it, and said she has quite a bit of filers with it, specifically in the ebay user/business crowd.

      I was surprised to the say the least. So unless central Ohio is just a mecca for bitcoin tax filers I think the credit karma numbers are likely off.

    2. Stephen V.

      Help me peeps. IRS says BC is *property* –whatever. IRS doesn’t care about our wealth, only the income therefrom. But I haven’t seen the word *sale* mentioned. We are supposed to volunteer our income but are often motivated by little pieces of paper (F.1099 from brokerage ) in this case. Does such a thing exist in the BC world?
      In my 3 decades of observation, those pieces of paper can lead to IRS machine audits if you don’t report matching income info. –but only for self-employed / wage earners. Those who subsist on Partnership, capital gains, etc. Not so much! I’d venture to say the BC *investors* have little to worry about. At some point IRS only knows what you tell them.

      1. John Zelnicker

        @Stephen V.
        April 20, 2018 at 3:38 pm
        The IRS does not require reporting of Bitcoin “holdings”, only the income derived from transactions involving it, just like stock, bonds, or real estate. AFAIK, there are no requirements for any third party to report Bitcoin transactions, like a stock broker is. So, if people don’t report it, they can get away with it until they are audited. If the income not reported causes a large increase in taxes due, the penalties can reach 40% of the entire tax bill for that year (not just the increase).

        Small correction: Partnership, capital gains, and other investment income is now being included in the IRS matching program (machine audit) so the wealthy will get caught if they don’t report it.

        Also, every single return goes through the matching program, and any returns kicked out by the computer are reviewed by a human who decides if it’s worthwhile to refer it to an examiner.

    1. Expat2uruguay

      Thanks! This is from a commenter on that article

      For an insider’s account of the Rajneesh movement and a step-by-step narrative reconstruction of what was happening in the community from 1971 to 1986, read “The Promise of Paradise” by Satya Franklin, one of Bhagwan’s first Western disciples. It’s available on Amazon and Ebay –

  2. lyman alpha blob

    Since we’re recognizing 4/20 day, here’s an oldie that I just discovered recently that you might like better than a Dead tune for this occasion.

    John Prine – Illegal Smile

    Some ’em if you got ’em!

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Uh, that was supposed to be “smoke ’em” and no, the typos aren’t due having done so. Yet.

      1. Edward E

        I last smoked pot almost 30 years ago and I’m happy to say that any langering affer effects haf finally worn off. Also, I last smoked pot almost 30 years ago and I’m happy to say that any langering affer effects haft finally worn off.

    2. Henry Moon Pie

      And don’t forget a classic from just a little earlier:

      Brewer & Shipley: “One Toke Over the Line

      Another B & S tune, “Oh Mommy,” includes these pertinent lyrics:

      Mr. Nixon
      I ain’t a fixin’
      To speak Spanish on a plane or polish off the Liberty Bell.
      I just want to sit here on the shelf
      And watch you finish off the place by yourself.
      Please let me do what I wanna:
      Just lay around the house and smoke Marijuana.

      Oh Mommy (I Ain’t no Commie)

      The fellas are still performing, BTW. I saw them a couple of years ago, and they were a blast.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      And even better, a newer one from a couple of old farts.

      Willie and Merle look like they had a lot of fun doing this video – It’s All Going to Pot

      Some of the lyrics which touch on themes dear to NC –

      It’s all going to pot
      Whether we like it or not
      As far as I can tell
      The world’s gone to hell
      And we’re sure gonna miss it a lot

      All the whiskey in Lynchburg, Tennessee
      Just doesn’t hit the spot
      I gotta hundred dollar bill
      You can keep your pills, friend
      Cause it’s all going to pot

      That cackle-bobble-head-in-a-box
      Must think I’m dumb as a rock
      Readin’ the daily news
      While I’m kickin’ off my shoes
      It’s scarin’ me outta my socks

    4. WheresOurTeddy

      it’s not an expressly pot song, but “Given To Fly” by Pearl Jam has always seemed like a nod toward the positive properties of pot

  3. Jim Haygood

    Danish architects BIG design leaning towers of pizza [sic] on Manhattan’s west side. Rendering:


    One-bedrooms will start at $2.8 million, two-bedrooms at $3.9 million, three-bedrooms at $6.5 million, four-bedrooms at $9 million and half-floor penthouses at $25 million, says the NYT.

    Comments are scathing. San Francisco’s listing Millennium Tower is a mistake, not a design inspiration.

    1. Edward E

      Did you know marijuana was first discovered in Siberia and Mongolia? That used to be the only continent that had it. Back then people had a choice of continents. “Toking or Non-Toking” this day should be dedicated to Jeff Sessions

    1. Arizona Slim

      Just saw it march past the coworking space in Downtown Tucson. And Slim’s big mouth was out on the balcony yelling “SOLIDARITY!” I also added my raised fist.

  4. laughingsong

    “A Trump New Deal could also include other elements with strong appeal to working-class voters”

    The way both parties do this nowadays is create legislation and give it some happy-face name like “Worker Restoration And New Great Life Enhancement act (WRANGLE)” . . . Then put in a bunch of fluffy preamble about how it’s to help the working poor – but all it contains is tax cuts and subsidies for the wealthy. Hey, it’ll all trickle down! Here’s Sports!

    And now, here is my contribution to the 420 — every 10,000 points indeed:


  5. JBird

    . But Changa’s association with Sputnik may put her credibility at risk, while furthering Russia’s effort to create chaos in the U.S.”

    So a couple of interviews(don’t journalist do that?) by a single youtube journalist is going to both damage her reputation and endanger a two hundred plus year republic? Juuuust when I think it’s safe to read the news again we get this and now the DNC lawsuit against Russia, Wikileaks, Trump, and the Space Elves.

    As some older family and friends would say…stop the world, I want to off.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It is an experimental effort by NPR to see if Democrat McCarthyism has been sufficiently weaponised to where anyone can deploy it against a target. NPR wants to see if it can practice some successful Totebag Liberal McCarthyism.

    2. Tom Denman

      Does the Democratic National Committee’s lawsuit against the Trump campaign, Wikileaks and “the Russians” mean that the Committee is formally acknowledging the authenticity of e-mails showing that the DNC stole the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination from Sanders?

      And, if they prove their claim that they suffered damages resulting from the adverse (and accurate) publicity for rigging the presidential nomination, the DNC would only compound the Democratic Party’s disgrace.

      1. JBird

        Dear Mr. Denman,

        we have recently received information that suggests that you may be suffering from the discomfort of thinking Bad Thoughts and speaking an Unapproved Narrative. Do not despair! This condition is easily treatable. The Agency of Mental Hygiene have created TheGoodThoughts! program to help people who suffer from this unfortunate condition.

        Please call us at 1-800-555-OBEY to schedule an immediate appointment or if you wish just type your current address during your next post and someone will be visiting you very shortly.

        1. Tom Denman

          It’s good to know that the thought police are working hard to ensure that Americans’ minds are kept healthy and clean.

  6. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Losing the Zen vote?

    Andrew Cuomo

    As a New Yorker, I am a Muslim. I am a Jew. I am Black. I am gay. I am a woman seeking to control her body. We are one New York​. pic.twitter.com/peOL9x2ltl

    Does he not meditate sometimes?

  7. Jim Haygood

    Setback for Sheriff Joe Arpiao, whose criminal conviction was pardoned by president Trump:

    WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court Tuesday approved the hiring of a special prosecutor to challenge former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s claim that his contempt of court conviction should be vacated after his presidential pardon.

    The procedural ruling by a divided three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes after the federal government said it would not defend a lower court’s refusal to wipe the slate clean, with the Justice Department agreeing with Arpaio that his conviction should be vacated.

    David Shapiro, an attorney at the MacArthur Justice Center at the Northwestern School of Law, was shocked that federal prosecutors agreed with the “disgraced lawman.”

    “The decision by the Department of Justice to not try and defend a guilty verdict that its own prosecutors obtained is extraordinary,” said Shapiro, who joined six other legal teams pushing for the special prosecutor.

    While Shapiro said he is “very, very pleased with the Ninth Circuit’s decision to uphold the rule of law and appoint a private attorney,” an attorney for Arpaio called the court’s decision “disturbing.”


    Arpaio is polling last place in his bid to take over retiring Jeff Flake’s US Senate seat. With his hope dashed of having his conviction promptly vacated, Arpaio can forget about becoming a senator. He’s just a ghost from the past, shuffling off into the saguaros.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, I haven’t heard a thing about his campaign. Which is hard to believe, because Arpaio excels at calling attention to himself.

    2. divadab

      It would be unwise to count Sheriff Joe out. He is very popular among the lawnorder crowd and there are a lot of them in AZ.

      1. Wyoming

        As a transplanted Arizonan these days I have to say that what goes for the lawnorder crowd here in AZ is more along the lines of the outlaws looking out for themselves.

        Laws are widely ignored by everyone.

        The ‘lawnorder’ they are looking for is more for those whom they are not ideologically in line with, have slightly different shades to them, or are not from around here.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        but the demographic that voted for him for sheriff is dying a little more each day

        this country just isn’t what it used to be for racist old white reactionaries

  8. lyman alpha blob

    Thanks for the link to the Nature article on Rovelli. I’ll have to add his book to my pile of books about time which I intend to read someday – when I have the time.

    Sounds like Rovelli’s theories are similar to Julian Barbour’s who also posits that time is an illusion in his book The End of Time written about 20 years ago. I’ve read the first third of that one about three times but haven’t managed to finish it yet. Interesting thing about Barbour is that he has never held a university position and lives on a farm doing translations. He doesn’t have a job to lose for being an iconoclast.

    Also interesting that Rovelli is a champion of the loop quantum gravity theory because fellow loop quantum gravity proponent and string theory skeptic Lee Smolin has also recently written a book about time (which I did find the time to read in full!) – Time Reborn – and he advocates the opposite position that time is real and fundamental.

    I haven’t the slightest idea who might be correct or whether the entire discussion is of the angels on the head of a pin type, but it’s a lot more entertaining than most of the news we get these days.

    1. Paul O

      Yes, thank you for highlighting this new book. Will be my next audio book (just finished Max Tegmark that someone here pointed me to recently) . I found “Reality is not what it seems” to be excellent.

      I think I posted this link once before. Here is Carlo Rovelli on UK Radio 4 Desert Island Discs.


  9. LarryB

    Lambert, you posted the “5 Horsemen” chart twice, and no “Fear and Loathing” (I know can’t remember it’s name and I’m too lazy to scroll up).

      1. Jonhoops

        Still think it should be named the Manic-Panic Index as suggested by someone when you debuted it.

  10. dcblogger

    Someone, anyone, explain to Thomas Frank that revolutions do not happen while times are bad, but in the upturn just after times have been really bad. Anyone who looks at the teacher strikes in AZ, WV, and KY and thinks that is a path to reeelction for Trump is not paying attention. And it is not just teacher strikes, it is pipeline protests, Strike for $15/hr, ant–gun activism, and so much more. Dunno what is going to happen in 2020, but it ain’t going to be Trump’s reelection. Assuming the neo-cons don’t give us a nuclear holocaust first.

    1. John k

      Imo trumps just the symptom. The problem is both Corp partie.
      My lotto ticket has Bernie stamped on it; everybody else is more of the same.

    2. hemeantwell

      Someone, anyone, explain to Thomas Frank that revolutions do not happen while times are bad, but in the upturn just after times have been really bad

      You’re referring to Davies “J curve” theory of revolution and it is very questionable in its lunge at a covering law, one size fits all, theory. For example, his take on the Russian Revolution is to put it in the context of decades of development, and then to emphasize declining living standards brought on by the war. Lenin and most of the rest of us might focus more closely on an exhausting war, rations for the masses/caviar for the elites, and the ongoing anti-democratic intransigence of a laughably sclerotic regime. At the time of the February phase the Russian masses were most definitely not experiencing an upturn in living standards. The only upturn was in hope brought about by recognition that generalized despair had finally gotten to the army. They would not be gunning down protesters.

      1. Oregoncharles

        “The sceptre was rolling in the gutter” is a better explanation for many modern revolutions, notably Russian and French. That is, the government collapsed, then somebody moved into the vacuum. Less true of the Iranian revolution, to my knowledge, but there must have been some obvious weakness there.

        Realistically, every event is different.

      2. Jessica

        The Russian Revolution was caused more by the failure to resolve the issues around the end of serfdom, which left the ex-serfs bad off like the ex-slaves in the US but with far more of them, and the loss of legitimacy due to the failure of the sclerotic regime to modernize the country (empire). The failure of modernization was made undeniable by the collapse of the Tsarist military in WW1.
        It also shows that when necessary change is successfully put off (successfully from the perspective of the old regime), when change does come, it is more thorough-going. The suppressed revolution in Russia in 1905 sets things up for 1917. The failure (in part due to Western aid) of the Taiping Revolution in the 1860s sets things up for the Chinese Communist Revolution. Japan modernized successfully by following the program that the Taiping Revolutionaries did not get the chance to carry out (Meiji Restoration).
        The ‘success” of the current regime in the West at suppressing any change after the big financial meltdown means that change will have to come at a deeper level.

    3. Swamp Yankee

      As hemeantwell says below, the Davies theory of revolutions is exactly the kind of thing political scientists rightly take heat for from historians. Revolutions happen under all kinds of conditions. And what do we mean by “Revolution”? Was the Jacquerie a Revolution? What about Dorr’s Rebellion? The Secessio Plebis in the early (Roman) republic? It seems difficult if not impossible to me to fit all of these under one law a la’ the physical sciences. This isn’t to say Davies’ observations don’t have a certain amount of merit, but they aren’t Gravity or Germ Theory.

      As for your confidence that Trump won’t win reelection, I’m sorry, but I just don’t see the basis for that. People were just as confident he wouldn’t win in 2016. Yes, there is an enormous amount of social unrest in the country at this point; but if the Democrats continue their de facto program of “Russia! Russia! Russia!”; the CIA/FBI Are Your Friends; and Bankers Are Woke but Social Democracy is Racist/Sexist/Transphobic/Putinite Stooges — a politics we might rightly label The New Yorker magazine’s Inner Life (such as it is) — then why shouldn’t they get their clocks cleaned again? If Trump talks infrastructure and the Dems say, as they did in 2016, no, we are going to have balanced budgets! — why is it axiomatic he won’t, as he did in 2016, capture enough discontent to put him over the top?

      None of which is to say that Trump is not a liar and a bullshit artist — he is. But something beats nothing. As in 2016.

      I actually don’t think the Dem elites in places like DC and NYC and SF and Boston really care if they beat Trump. They do at the level of aesthetics, but it doesn’t matter to them the way it does to a Muslim immigrant or a worker at the edge of starvation (excuse me, “food insecurity”) for whom these are matters of life and death. After all, they get to keep their think tank and MSNBC gigs and guest editorships, while the rest of us suffer through a second Trump Administration.

      Actions are louder than words, and the 10%ers in charge of the Democratic Party proved in 2016, as they continue to today, that they hate and fear social democracy far more than they do Trump.

      That is why the only solution is their utter discrediting and defeat, a la’ the “Guilty Men” of 1940 in Britain. Until the Money Power is removed from the party, Democrats can neither be sure of electoral victory, nor pass tests of basic morality.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well . . . if the Democrats nominate Kamala Harris or Eric Holder or Joe Biden, I will certainly vote for Trump again.

        I don’t know which other DemParty nominee could get me to vote for Trump, but I have complete confidence that the DemParty will be able to find and nominate someone who will make me vote for Trump. Perhaps they will nominate Cuomo if they can’t find anyone else to make me vote for Trump.

        Now . . . if the Repuglans nominate one of their usual suspects, then I am not sure what I will do. Maybe vote for DSA or Working Families Party or something.

    4. Andrew Watts

      We can have an empire, or a democratic republic, but we’re probably going to lose them both. After Trump was elected this quote from a biography on Howard Hughes was floating around Twitter.

      As the polity becomes more and more conscious of the moral nullity at the center of American life, there will develop not the revolutionary situation dreamed of in certain radical circles but, rather, a deep contempt for the nation and it’s institutions, an apathy bound to be exploited by clever human engineers. In the name of saving the environment and restoring virtue, they will continue the dismantling of an unloved and unhonored republic. But then republics are social anomalies, as Thomas Jefferson must have suspected when he claimed to see, off there in the distance, no larger than a Federalist’s head, the minatory shape of the despot’s crown. -The New York Review of Books, April 20th.1972

      Political movements for various causes will not restore the credibility of our socio-political institutions. In fact the political causes which are being championed will only be impeded, or diminished, by the institutions which claim to work for the common good. The building frustration among people who witness this process unfold numerous times over a long period of time will enable an autocrat to rise. I’m not saying this is inevitable only that it isn’t the most likely outcome.

      A non-violent revolution will require the radical reformation and transformation of our present institutions. Until I see some indication that’s actually happening I will dismiss the notion that America is on the verge of a revolution and the idea that political movements are an indicator of one.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        There may be velvet virtual stealth secessions as various parts of the country try to tiptoe out one or another door . . . or silently ooze out through a cracked-open window.

    5. Darius

      The connection between rising wages and electoral success for the party in power is pretty well supported. Trump, apparently, gets this. It’s not bipartisan agreement and people coming together, as Obama always prattled on about. Nobody actually cares about that stuff, even if they say they do. People feel good if things are going well for them. And no amount of Obama good-guy or cool-guy propaganda can override that. In this way Trump is smarter than Obama. Obama’s failure to understand this is why the Democrats lost 1,000 seats and Trump is president.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Why should I believe Obama didn’t understand this? Why shouldn’t I think Obama’s secret mission was to prevent this from happening on purpose, in order to destroy the DemParty presence in elected offices on purpose?

        Why shouldn’t I believe that ” why the Democratis lost 1,000 seats and Trump is president” isn’t part of what Obama expects to be paid hundreds of millions of dollars for?

    6. Big River Bandido

      Anyone who looks at the teacher strikes in AZ, WV, and KY and thinks that is a path to reelction for Trump is not paying attention. And it is not just teacher strikes, it is pipeline protests, Strike for $15/hr, ant–gun activism, and so much more. Dunno what is going to happen in 2020, but it ain’t going to be Trump’s reelection. Assuming the neo-cons don’t give us a nuclear holocaust first.

      All of this assumes the Democrats put up an authentic opponent in 2020 — they only have one possibility and they are trying to keep him off the ticket at all costs.

      Also, the neocons (and for that matter, the neoliberals, too) consist of Republicans and Democrats, working together to screw average Americans and people the world over.

    7. Robert McGregor

      You’re so confident that Trump is not going to win. Were you the same in 2016? Many were. If you’re so certain that Trump will lose in 2020, then which Democrat will win? Biden?

  11. Ed

    On the Criminal Referral of Comey, Clinton et al: Will the Constitution Hold and the Media Continue to Suppress the Story?
    Ray McGovern reports on a major development in the Russia-gate story that has been ignored by corporate media: a criminal referral to the DOJ against Hillary Clinton, James Comey and others, exposing yet again how established media suppresses news it doesn’t like–about as egregious an example of unethical journalism as there is.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      They ignore it for now.

      The more biting question is whether the DOJ will or will not ignore it.

  12. ambrit

    I send out a happy birthday greeting to our son today. Fun when you learn that he’s about as ‘straight’ about drugs as a gay man can be. Love you son!

    1. Clive

      And to my Dad tomorrow! I hope you remembered to send a card, but I’m sure you did. I did, sort of, but posted in the nick of time so I am keeping my fingers crossed it gets delivered on the day. Otherwise I’ll have to lie and say I sent it on Wednesday in plenty of time, the postal service must have messed up. The only drugs he knows about are statins.

      1. ambrit

        Happy Birthday to your Dad, Clive. He’s on the hard stuff, (statins) is he? I’ve got a statin mankey on my back, because I have some stents in cardiac arteries myself. (As Clouseau would say it; “A statin minkey!.”)
        I used to send home made cards until I figured out that he made much better ones than I did.
        I also used to twit him about his birthday, until I looked into his eyes once when I did. Disgust mixed with forbearance has a peculiar look all its’ own.
        By the way, any idea how Brexit will effect the Royal Mails? I buy stuff from the UK through e-bay from time to time. An extra layer of regulations to surmount? Somehow I don’t see the mails becoming any less complicated as a result of Brexit.

  13. JTMcPhee

    From NC’s links on 4/18, the article on “Restaurant Industry not happy with its leaked survey on raising the minimum wage,” https://theintercept.com/2018/04/17/the-restaurant-industry-ran-a-private-poll-on-the-minimum-wage-it-did-not-go-well-for-them/ :

    Interesting that the NRA ?(!) (National Restaruant Association) pays for a “secret” survey that shows that not only are members of the general public and restaurant-goers strongly supportive of minimum wage hikes to living levels, even most of the member business owners of the NRA are also in favor of increasing the minimum wage. And most folks favor not taxing tip income, and are willing to pay more for food and service in restaurants to support that increase in minimum wage.

    And the bottom line, of course, is that the National Organization of Highly Paid Hot Shots proves, once again, that power says “A fig for your preferences” before shooting the message and the messengers between the eyes… Consistent with the point, made repeatedly here, that Power in the Empire is completely in the hands of a very few at what we choose to call “the top,” and what the mopes want and know and prefer “ne compte rien, eh quoi?”

    Here’s hoping that maybe teacher walkouts and nationwide student actions and such portend a sea change…? If only the mopery could all get together and defenestration the Ruler bunch… Requires, of course, organization, and a strong organizing principle. Something more than “MOAR”?

  14. Adrienne

    Re: “They Were Never Going to Let Me Be President”

    As if we need any more proof how privileged and out of touch HRC is…

    Honey, “They” ain’t gonna “let” you do anything. You gotta go out there and kick a** and fight for your power. If you were actually a feminist you’d know this already.

    1. JBird

      I do not think it had to do with how much effort she put in that mattered. Had she every articulated some reasons, heck, any honest reason, that her election would be good for the people as a whole, she almost certainly would be President; it’s like with Jeb(mentum!) Bush. Remember him? During his entire run I did not hear any good reasons to vote for him. It might have gotten him the Republican nomination. Vote for me because “I’m due,” or “you should,” is not very persuasive.

    2. Sid_finster

      She lost the closest thing to a rigged race imaginable in a putative democracy, and lost it to Donald Trump no less, but it’s still everyone’s fault but her own.

  15. neighbor7

    I’ve always thought that time is consciousness. Time is whatever it feels like to us, not what “physics” sez it is…

  16. Jim Haygood

    The curmudgeonly James Howard Kunstler offers his traditional Friday evening benediction:

    It begins to look like The USA will litigate itself into Civil War Two with the first battle being half the lawyers in the Department of Justice prosecuting the other half until Anthropogenic Global Warming puts the DC Swamp completely underwater and all parties concerned scuttle off into the deep blue sea.

    Meanwhile, the Republic actually whirls around the drain. There is nothing left in Flyover-land. I drove through part of it yesterday on a book-reporting chore: the “quiet corner” of northeastern Connecticut south of Worcester, Mass, a valley of decrepitating mill towns and opiate addiction.

    It’s like some place out of H.P. Lovecraft’s demon-haunted imagination, where the sun comes up twenty minutes later than anywhere else and a dwindling population of malevolent diseased imbeciles shriek their lonesome agonies of failure and destitution to a God that never returned from lunch break one day in 1985. Their parting shot to an unjust world was voting for Donald Trump. Next time, they won’t even be around.

    Anyway, Trump may emerge briefly from his triumph over the Swamp-led coup-d’etat only to find himself in his fated other role as designated bag-holder for the next crack-up of the banking system. At least he’ll be in his natural element: bankruptcy, presiding over the biggest ruined casino the world has ever seen. Who will bail America out then?


    Grim! Today’s the day the DC kabuki show degenerated into a melee, with punches being thrown and footlights kicked out as the audience fled through the emergency exits. Nobody’s in charge — so investors are hunkering down in alarm as the lights blink out one by one.

  17. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “China’s hidden shipbuilding subsidies and their impact on its industrial dominance” [Microeconomic Insights]. From 2017, still germane. “In 2006, China identified shipbuilding as a ‘strategic industry’ and introduced a plan for its development. In a short time, its market share had doubled from 25% to 50%, leaving Japan, South Korea and Europe trailing behind….

    Is this one example of China cheating?

    US corporations are not involved here.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Only losers whine about cheating. They played by the rules when it suited them and broke them when it didn’t. By subsidizing their shipbuilding industry they found another domestic outlet for their excess steel production. The rest of their surplus was dumped on world markets below the cost of production for market share because the production of low profit-margin commodities wasn’t ever the end goal.

      The only remaining question I have is how quickly will they dominate the car industry and market for consumer electronics. How very stupid and shortsighted our capitalists are.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What do referees or umpires do about cheating?

        Do they not call it out?

        And should people cheat, so that they don’t to have whine?

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    The U.S. share of the Japanese car market remains tiny, partly because Japanese buyers prefer smaller, more fuel-efficient models.”

    Not always.

    They like their Sumo wrestlers big.

    Also big, strong baseball players.

  19. giantsquid

    Re: “The illusion of time”

    Is this genius or madness? Certainly Rovelli is not the only highly regarded physicist who believes this. MIT physicist Max Tegmark uses an analogy to explain the concept of time as an illusion.

    “”So life is like a movie, and space-time is like the DVD,” he added; “there’s nothing about the DVD itself that is changing in any way, even though there’s all this drama unfolding in the movie. We have the illusion, at any given moment, that the past already happened and the future doesn’t yet exist, and that things are changing. But all I’m ever aware of is my brain state right now. The only reason I feel like I have a past is that my brain contains memories.””


    I suppose that in Tegmark might say that consciousness serves as the DVD player here. But Daniel Dennett, and others, have suggested that consciousness itself is an illusion.

    And then there are those who believe that the universe is a holograph…

    Really it’s just turtles all the way down.

    1. HotFlash

      I think it’s just a matter of truly knowing where you are, like having an in-your-gut understanding that the earth goes around the sun, despite daily observance that is most easily construed otherwise. OTOH, for most of our purposes, it really doesn’t really matter.

    2. Grebo

      The General Theory of Relativity implies that the whole of space-time is laid out ‘already’. Since we cannot see through time as we can through space we experience time as series of ‘nows’ as our consciousness travels along a timeline. I believe this picture is quite orthodox amongst physicists.

      Quantum Mechanics, on the other hand, describes a world in which events unfold randomly, constrained by probability functions, and even after they happen we cannot say with certainty exactly what happened or why. There are several interpretations of what this means for time, consciousness, free-will, reality, etc.

      One that is quietly gaining ground is the Many Worlds interpretation in which all the quantum possibilities are fulfilled, each in a parallel universe created by the event itself. But where can all these universes possibly be?

      I reckon they are sideways in time. With more time dimensions we can lay out a Quantum space-time just like the ‘static’ Relativity space-time. We only see our universe because we cannot see sideways through time any more than we can forwards or backwards.

  20. Synoia

    to be fair, Steyer could be a Duc D’Orleans; class traitors are important. I have my doubts.

    Pigs might fly, too.

    1. hemeantwell

      It is quite possible that we’ll see class paragons become attracted to economic theories, e.g. a mix of MMT and low growth environmentalism, that will put them at odds with the neoliberalist system currently dominant. But in this they would not be betraying the class system itself.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Environmental destruction is the one issue that consistently brings people out in large numbers, especially young people. We do need a place to live, water to drink and air to breathe. Steyer might be smart enough to understand that he can’t really buy himself out of that.

      How far he’ll go with that insight is another matter, but it easily could be real.

  21. John k

    They were never gonna…
    No, they weren’t.
    Turns out the deciders were all in flyover… and they’re not happy… hugoodanode?
    That it works better if people are happy when your platform is more of the same?

  22. allan

    NYS right wing noise machine gears up a petition to oppose restoring voting rights to felons:

    Say NO to Allowing Parolees Who Committed Felonies to Vote
    [hosted on a NYS server – hmmm]

    Two weeks ago, Governor Cuomo’s parole board approved the release from prison of convicted terrorist & murderer Herman Bell. Making matters worse, the Governor has just signed an Executive Order that allows cop-killers like Bell, as well as convicted murderers, rapists and thousands of other parolees, to vote for him in the coming election.

    I’m going to stand up & fight back on this insulting attack on our electoral system & the rule of law. …

    No mention of drug felons. Weird.

  23. JohnnyGL

    Let me fix that NPR headline on Anoa Changa…

    “US Govt backed media dislikes Russian Govt backed media platform and smears Americans who appear on it by implicitly accusing them of being traitors even though US media freezes them out.”

    1. Marco

      Via Twitter it appears that her real crime was calling out Stacey Evans (Dem candidate running for GA gov) for her anti-BDS views. I think white media liberals don’t like black activists touching BDS.

    1. voteforno6

      What are the chances that the law firm is closely connected to one or more senior people in the DNC?

    2. Oregoncharles

      Could be good news, since there’s nothing like a court case to reveal your lack of evidence.

      1. Charlie

        Agree on that. There is the possibility of asking for the DNC server during the discovery phase.

  24. freedeomny

    UPDATE NY: Holy moley, does Cuomo think voters believe this?

    As a New Yorker, I am a Muslim. I am a Jew. I am Black. I am gay. I am a woman seeking to control her body. We are one New York​. pic.twitter.com/peOL9x2ltl

    — Andrew Cuomo (@NYGovCuomo) January 29, 2017

    This is horrifying, on so many levels. …

    1. Jim Haygood

      Just as Bill Clinton was America’s first black president, Andrew Cuomo is New York’s first gay female governor … although New York’s next gay female governor is hot on his heels. ;-)

    2. ewmayer

      Cuomo’s statement is about as ridiculous as if the cold war Berlin airlift had instead happened in (Soviet-occupied until 1955) Vienna and Jonh Fitzgerald Cuomo had gone there and given a big speech expressing his solidarity with “Ich bin ein Wiener.”

  25. PKMKII

    File under class warfare:
    It’s not that MLB owners can’t afford to pay their minor leaguers a living wage. No, it’s just that they don’t want to.

    It would take a trivial amount of money from MLB to make a life-changing difference for minor leaguers, most of whom play for a pittance… While MLB is squeezing every last dime out of 20-year-old pro athletes who sleep in closets and live on PB&J, the NBA is giving its minor leaguers a raise. Next season, G League players will earn $35,000 per year, plus benefits, constituting a raise of 84 percent for some players. (NBA teams pay the salaries of players on their G League affiliates.) You won’t get rich making $35,000 per year, and it’s still not a great look for a league that pulls in $8 billion a season, but you can live on $35,000, as opposed to the $6,000 or so most minor league baseball players will make each season.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The neoliberal way is for the owners to call those minor league teams ‘baseball colleges,’ and instead of paying, they can charge the players ‘tuition,’ and reward scholarships, like many public colleges do with their athletes.

  26. Darius

    Effing NPR. I hate those mortar forkers. Anoa’s not even the most left, but I’ll probably donate now. Used to be an NPR totebagger. Years ago. Can’t stand that corporate liberal BS now. To Hades with them, I say. Yes! Hades! Posthaste!

  27. FluffytheObeseCat

    Greenwald, from the Jacobin article:

    The favorite figures of liberals, the ones they cite the most, the ones for whom they cheer most enthusiastically, are either people who have worked inside the […] penal state […] or people who are guilty of the worst abuses of the war on terror […].

    These are all the heroes of the resistance. […] generally speaking, [a] resistance does not revere the heads of the agencies of the security state. That’s not normally how resistance works. But that’s the nature of it and it is reshaping the actual political values of an entire generation of Democrats and even liberals in a way that will endure long after Trump is gone.

    This is one of the few clear statements I’ve seen in print media about the impact of this endless, stagey breast-beating. Much of the “resistance” is a scam, run by consultants and doyens of the creative class, who make bank or garner a name for themselves by stirring endless shit. However, their game is immensely damaging.

    Large numbers of ordinary Democrats are on board with the resistance ideal, and are vulnerable to this manipulation.

    1. Oregoncharles

      According to polls, Dems are now down to 27%, Reps even lower. Independents are approaching a majority. So it isn’t without penalty.

      The worst feature of our electoral system(s) is that we forfeit control to a couple of “major” parties that lack a majority of support BETWEEN THEM. At some point, something has to give, and we’ll see a complete overturn, hopefully without violence (but increasingly, I doubt it.)

    2. Byron the Light Bulb

      ‘Ya think, during the 2016 POTUS election, if the American security apparatus did the things of which the Russian security apparatus is accused, releasing hacked material, etcetera, Greenwald would be banging out a different tune?

      Washington spent a lot of gelt so that European monarchs, Barbary privateers, petro-kleptocrats, and two-bit democidal bureaucrats don’t get a say in what happens in Lagos on the Chesapeake. And the reverse is true, the Kremlin works long hours, smoking a lot of Belomors, so that Okies aren’t traipsing around Kharkiv with the second-coming of the Cossack Hetmanate. But, ah, there’s the rub. That rubber-joint-standoff-duck.

  28. Utah

    I want to disagree on the Bold Progressives Medicare-option-for-all. While I see your point, Lambert, I tend to think that this is the incremental change that we should be working towards in order to get medicare for all. I know that “incremental change” is a Clintonian construct, but this is actual policy and an actual bill unlike the GOPs 50-something votes to repeal the ACA without having anything to replace it with. The Progressive Dems are saying “hey, we have something to replace the ACA with, and it’s something you already know and pay for, and this is a moderate compromise while we work towards Medicare-with-teeth.” But that is just my opinion, so take that for whatever it’s worth.
    However, PCCC (Bold Progressives) did partner with Indivisible and Our Revolution at their last candidate training, so maybe I’m delusional. Maybe they are the moderate progressives.

    1. Grebo

      If you ask for an increment that’s all you will get. Ever. There is an infinite number of increments in the whole.
      You demand more than you actually want. That is basic.
      They have an actual bill do they. And who pays their bills?

  29. The Rev Kev

    “A porn star says Bernie Sanders once disrespected her mom”

    The poor girl. I am sure that she is mistaken however. Considering Sander’s age, I am sure that she means that he disrespected her grandma. That’s the trouble with being a porn star. It’s such grinding work.

    1. Edward E

      Ha! Bernie actually wrote a bit of porn in the seventies. But claims he didn’t know, “TURNS OUT CORN DOGS ARE NOT WHAT YOU THINK”

  30. Craig H.

    Intercept had a pretty decent Class War entry today:


    Also: you can pay for groceries at Amazon soon with SNAP debits which is getting onto the border of company scrip if you aren’t wearing your reading glasses.

    LATER THIS YEAR, Amazon will begin accepting grocery orders from customers using the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the federal anti-poverty program formerly known as food stamps.

  31. ewmayer

    Re. 4/20: Interesting that the date of the annual global Pot Luck coincides with the birthday of Der Führer. Sieg high und pass die Geburtstagstüte!

    [Is it just another freaky coincidence that ‘Kraut’ – usually but not always prefixed with ‘Un-‘ is the German word for weed? Legendary pot-heads, those Krauts.]

  32. allan

    There are four Democrats running to replace the late Louise Slaughter in NY-25.
    Three of them have issue pages. Here’s what they have to say about healthcare:


    Protecting access to healthcare has been one of X’s top priorities throughout his career in public service. He has fought to expand access to healthcare for millions of previously uninsured, sponsored landmark autism health insurance law requiring carriers to cover the cost of autism screening and treatment, and was instrumental in passing legislation to address the scourge of opioid abuse plaguing our neighborhoods.

    #2. Healthcare for Everyone

    Health care is a human right.
    Y supports Medicare for All.
    We must defend and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare.
    We have to control prices in the health care industry, particularly for prescription drugs.
    Insurance companies that pay huge salaries to executives, refuse to participate in the ACA markets and find coverage loopholes to burden families must be held accountable.
    Fight for resources to combat the opioid epidemic and make sure the FDA monitors drug companies.

    #3. Healthcare for All

    Guaranteed healthcare for all is a cornerstone of social justice. We will support and advocate for the implementation of comprehensive, high-quality, universal healthcare at the local, state, and federal levels, and we will oppose policies that limit healthcare access for any particular groups or individuals.

    The first two are the usual Dem word salad, the third might actually be good but the meaning is unclear.
    The GOP opponent will be a right wing neurosurgeon, so so depressing.

  33. The Rev Kev

    “How Neoliberalism Worms Its Way Into Your Brain”

    Great article that and very perceptive. Was just reading about Bryan Caplan in it and his ideas “that the public school system is a waste of time and money and should be destroyed” as used as an example by the author. Turns out after a quick bit of researching that Bryan Caplan was a fan-boy of Ayn Rand which I think shows the true roots of neoliberalism. At this stage, I am ready to believe that neoliberals, at heart, just hate people not like themselves. People that do not relentlessly pursue self-interest. That may explain why they hate the idea of “society” and “community” so much. Just like Trump – and just like Thatcher before him.

    1. Ham

      Very poor article on neoliberalism. Doesnt even go into the ideology properly or the concept of human capital, where it comes from, its development ,its effects on society, its main drivers/supporters and its role in today’s society.

  34. Oregoncharles

    I’ve lived with Douglas Firs for 50 years now, have one in the yard (not a good idea, incidentally, but it’s the tower for our internet dish), and I’ve never seen a cone like that. The needles are right, though, so maybe it’s the variety (glauca). Beautiful, and rather strange.

  35. Whoa Molly!

    re: “Thomas Frank: Trump Could Win the 2020 Election” Thomas Frank, The Nation.

    The Frank article is great. Everything he’s saying about the state of the country is clearly visible in my part of the world. I too, believe Trump has a very good chance of winning in 2020.

    Until the Clinton/Obama cadre is overwhelmingly and decisively defeated the Dems will not change. As much as I hate to say it, Dem success in the upcoming midterms may be the worst thing that could happen to the party and the country.

  36. stukuls

    I live in NY 19th district and the only signs for any one running are the “Where’s Faso?” signs that have been up for over a year.

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