2:00PM Water Cooler 4/26/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“An upcoming Trump administration report on ‘the fragility of the U.S. defense industrial base’ shows a ‘quite alarming’ dependence on China for key materials, Ellen Lord, undersecretary of Defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, said Tuesday at an event on defense trade at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce” [Politico]. “‘We have an amazing amount of dependency on China, and we are sole sourced for rare earth minerals, energetics, different things,’ Lord said. ‘This is a problem for us as we move forward.’ Lord is a former CEO of Textron, a global aerospace, defense and security conglomerate.”

“In Advance of the Administration’s Expected Announcement of China 301 Investment Restrictions, Public Citizen Unveils Comprehensive Database of Chinese Investment in the U.S.” (PDF) [Public Citizen]. “With the Trump administration expected to announce new restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch is making available a new database that chronicles the magnitude of Chinese investment here… “This database reveals how the China government is recycling billions in U.S. trade deficit monies to buy up strategic U.S. assets,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “In his first year in office, President Trump failed to reduce the flood of Chinese imports or boost U.S. exports to China as promised and the trade deficit grew relative to the end of the Obama administration.” The new website, unlike other China investment databases that include a similar level of detail, is free to use. It spotlights how deeply vested China is in the U.S. economy.



CO-06 (one of the districts we’ve been tracking): “Secretly Taped Audio Reveals Democratic Leadership Pressuring Progressive to Leave Race” [The Intercept]. The establishment favorite is Crow; Tilleman — the #MedicareForAll supporter in the race — did the taping. “With Hoyer in Denver, Tillemann met the minority whip at the Hilton Denver Downtown to make the case that the party should stay neutral in the primary and that he had a more plausible path to victory than the same centrism that Coffman had already beaten repeatedly. Hoyer, however, had his own message he wanted to convey: Tillemann should drop out. In a frank and wide-ranging conversation, Hoyer laid down the law for Tillemann. The decision, Tillemann was told, had been made long ago. It wasn’t personal, Hoyer insisted, and there was nothing uniquely unfair being done to Tillemann, he explained: This is how the party does it everywhere. Tillemann had heard the argument before from D.C. insiders and local Democratic bigwigs, all of whom had discouraged him from challenging the establishment favorite. The only difference was that for this conversation, the candidate had his phone set to record.” Clearly — where legal, of course — every Democrat insurgent should set their phone to record with all Democrat establishment figures. More like this, please! Well worth a read, just in case there were any lingering doubts that election rigging is a thing of the past. I wonder if Tilleman will get a contributions boost, like Moser did?

AZ-08: “Arizona 8 is a good example of why GOP congressional candidates’ fundraising will be so important this cycle — national groups can’t bail out every district as red as this one this fall in this political environment” [Inside Elections].

“Harry Reid says Trump is damaging the country but warns against impeachment” [NBC]. “As some Democrats, most notably Silicon Valley billionaire Tom Steyer, are publicly pushing to remove the president from office, Reid has a message: ‘I say to everybody, stop it.’ ‘I’ve been through impeachment, and they’re not pleasant,” the Nevada Democrat said. “And the less we talk about impeachment, the better off we are.'” So, after two solid years of hysterial yammering from liberal Democrats, impeachment is “off the table.” Give credit: The Democrats are executing the 2006 playbook flawlessly!

“Measuring the Midterm Intensity Gap” [Cook Political Report]. “The takeaway from both [NBC News and ABC Post polls] (as well as other high-quality, reputable surveys from CBS News, CNN, and Fox News) is that Democrats are ahead, but the size of Democrats’ lead and intensity advantage have yet to be determined….. One finding in the NBC/WSJ poll that jumped out was that while Democrats had a 27-point lead among registered voters in House districts held by Democrats, Republicans had just a 10-point advantage in districts occupied by Republicans. That is consistent with what those of us who watch individual House races find: Democrats have very few districts in any jeopardy, while Republicans have a lot, which is the reverse of what existed in 2010 and 2014…. No prudent person who knows anything about congressional races believes either that Democrats have control of the House locked up or that the Republican majority is safe. The consensus is that the GOP majority is in danger. That is the conclusion from the macro approach, looking at national polls (which didn’t miss the national popular vote by much in 2016), and it’s also the finding using the district-by-district, micro approach. My bet right now is still a 60-65 percent chance of the House flipping, but we have a ways to go.”

“Raising the Ceiling, but Not the Floor, on Potential Democratic House Gains” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “The number of potentially vulnerable Republican seats is growing, and we’re adding an extra 10 GOP-held seats to the Likely Republican column this week. All of these members remain solid favorites for reelection, but at the same time, many seem likely to face better-funded challengers than they are used to. There are scenarios in which Democrats gain many more than the 23 net seats they need to win the House this year — perhaps double that or even more — but their overall odds to take control remain about 50-50.”

“The D.N.C.’s Lawsuit Against Russia and the Trump Campaign Isn’t a Bad Idea” [Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker]. “As far as fund-raising goes, the case is probably a good idea, considering the depleted state of the Party’s coffers.” Ka-ching. Anyhow, I read the complaint; my feeling is that with this lawsuit, the liberal Democrats have passed some sort of event horizon of self-involvement and -delusion. The DNC has trade secrets? Like the Coke formula? Really?

2016 Post Mortem

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in:

“The Democratic Party Is Paying Millions for Hillary Clinton’s Email List, FEC Documents Show” [The Intercept]. That seems odd; they wanted Sanders to give them his list for free.

Health Care

I get email blasts, this time on Merkely and Murphy’s “Medicare Option for All” bill:

As you can see, I’ve helpfully highlighted the bafflegab and obfuscation; for example, they don’t say “access,” but they do say “affordable,” and what that means is that their program is not free at the point of care, and therefore that the whole liberal apparatus of eligibility determination remains firmly fixed in place; some to HappyVille, others, randomly, to Pain City! I’ve also highlighted the brand confusion between “Medicare for All” and “Medicare Option for All”; this is the same play that “progressives,” together with the Obama administration, used to keep single payer off the table in 2009-2010 (give credit; liberal Democrats execute this sort of tactic flawlessly). Merkley staffers take note: “[T]he goal of Medicare for All took a big step forward” is sloppy and illiterate; goals aren’t personified. They don’t take steps. And then there’s “glide path” and “pathway.” I guess Americans are “in the driver’s seat” for the second, but not the pilot’s seat on the first. Who knows? Shows the seriousness behind the bill, exactly in the same way that this year’s CAP bait-and-switch operation showed its unseriousness — at least among liberals and conservatives — by not handling “pay for.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

Oh, Neera:

She’s probably hunting down those three sources right now…

“Fundraising for Favors? Linking Lobbyist-Hosted Fundraisers to Legislative Benefits” [SAGE Journals]. “Do legislators and lobbyists trade favors? This study uses uncommon data sources and plagiarism software to detect a rarely observed relationship between interest group lobbyists and sitting Members of Congress. Comparison of letters to a Senate committee written by lobby groups to legislative amendments introduced by committee members reveals similar and even identical language, providing compelling evidence that groups persuaded legislators to introduce amendments valued by the group. Moreover, the analysis suggests that these language matches are more likely when the requesting lobby group hosts a fundraising event for the senator.” Ka-ching.

“Voting Rights for Felons Becoming a Key Issue for Democrats” [Governing]. “Florida remains the central battleground in the fight to restore voting rights for felons. The issue has been talked about for years by liberals and libertarians, but it’s gained new momentum lately and is close to becoming a default position for Democrats. It’s part of the party’s pushback against Republican voting measures, such as voter ID requirements, that Democrats believe are too restrictive or even suppressive.”

Stats Watch

Durable Goods Orders, March 2018: “Aircraft often skews the durable goods report and March is a fine example. New orders for civilian aircraft have been very strong and were once again so in March, at a monthly 44.5 percent gain on top of February’s 39.1 percent surge. These gains are what’s behind the strong overall headlines of the past two reports” [Econoday]. “Excluding transportation equipment, however, durable goods orders came in unchanged which is sizably below Econoday’s consensus for a 0.5 percent gain. Note that vehicle orders, which like aircraft are part of the transportation group, were flat and not a factor in the month. What is a key factor in the month is weakness in machinery which is at the heart of the capital goods sector and where new orders fell 1.7 percent. Orders for computers were also down while orders for electrical equipment were flat.” And: “Orders for Capital Equipment in March Ease Unexpectedly” [Industry Week]. “While the setback may simply represent a pause in investment, businesses may be somewhat hesitant to spend as they assess U.S. trade policy following the implementation of tariffs on steel and aluminum.” And: “Civilian aircraft were the main tailwind this month – and without aircraft, this would have been a soft report. This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the unadjusted three month rolling average which marginally declined. I consider this a weaker report than what is observed at first glance” [Econintersect].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, April 2018: “Business is very brisk in the Kansas City Fed’s manufacturing sample” [Econoday]. “New orders have absolutely surged this month….. with the business coming from domestic customers, not foreign ones as export orders came in barely over zero at only plus 1. Domestic or not, backlog orders are especially strong, up 15 points from last month to 29. Tariff effects, if any, are scant though raw material inventories are up 6 points to 17 and could reflect the stockpiling of metals.”

Coincident Indicators: “Generally the coincident indices are showing weak growth, and are generally trending towards slow growth rates” [Econintersect].

International Trade in Goods, March 2018: “A decline in imports eased the nation’s goods deficit in March which came in much better than expected” [Econoday]. “Imports fell 2.1 percent with declines nearly across the board including a sharp 3.1 percent drop for capital goods and a 2.3 percent dip for consumer goods. Tariffs on steel and aluminum were imposed in March but there’s no clear evidence of its effects in the initial data though imports of industrial supplies did fall 1.9 percent. Exports have been very solid.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of April 22, 2018: “{E]ased back… from a 17-year high” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of April 21, 2018: “Jobless claims had been inching higher but have now moved sharply lower” [Econoday]. “Employers are holding on to their employees in what is a telling sign of strength in the labor market.” Oh.

Retail Inventories [Advance], March 2018: Fell [Econoday].

Wholesale Inventories [Advance], March 2018: Rose [Econoday].

Debt: “Americans are hoarding money in their checking accounts — and that could be a problem” [MarketWatch]. “Moebs Services, an economic-research firm in Lake Bluff, Ill., analyzed over 12,000 depository call reports and compared them to the Federal Reserve monetary data for 2017. The average consumer checking balance has increased in 23 of the past 30 quarters…. ‘The consumer in banks, thrifts and credit unions by region, state, city and asset size keeps warehousing more checking dollars,’ said Michael Moebs, economist and Chief Executive of Moebs Services. ‘The average Joe and Jane still are very leery of the economy.’ … And yet credit-card debt hit $1 trillion, so what’s going on? “Wages have not increased,” Moebs said. “Jobs are still hard to find.” Full unemployment, including discouraged workers and those who work part-time for economic reasons, is high at 8% and interest rates are low, he added.” Hmm. Does this make sense? To put debt on your credit card when you’ve got money in your savings account? I suppose it does, if your savings account is your “rainy day” fund….

Commodities: “Alberta drillers signing deals with railroads to ease oil logjam” [Kallinish Energy]. “Alberta Province’s oil industry may get some relief from shipping bottlenecks in the second half of the year as producers ink deals with rail companies to move more crude. Oil producers and railroads have room to strike deals that will make economic sense for both parties, Cenovus Energy CEO Alex Pourbaix said. The rail providers already are hiring and training crews and pulling locomotives out of storage to help boost their crude-shipping capacity, said Keith Chiasson, head of the company’s downstream operations.”

Manufacturing: “Ford says only Mustang, Focus will live on in North America as it drops slow-selling sedans” [MarketWatch]. “By 2020, almost 90% of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles, the company said Wednesday when it reported its first-quarter earnings… U.S. drivers have gravitated to SUVs and pickup trucks for years, thanks in part to these vehicles’ relative fuel economy improvements and price drops. Many car buyers also report enjoying the high-riding seating position of an SUV or pickup truck.”

Shipping: “Trucking Growth Is Up or Down Year-over-Year In March 2018. Depends On What Data You Believe” [Econintersect]. ATA v. Cass. “I tend to put heavier weight on the CASS index which showed strong rate of growth improvement year-over-year. However, both indicies are showing strong YoY growth.”

The Bezzle: “Drew Cloud Is a Well-Known Expert on Student Loans. One Problem: He’s Not Real.” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. “Drew Cloud is everywhere. The self-described journalist who specializes in student-loan debt has been quoted in major news outlets, including The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and CNBC, and is a fixture in the smaller, specialized blogosphere of student debt…. But he’s a fiction, the invention of a student-loan refinancing company…. After The Chronicle spent more than a week trying to verify Cloud’s existence, the company that owns [Cloud’s blog] The Student Loan Report confirmed that Cloud was fake. ‘Drew Cloud is a pseudonym that a diverse group of authors at Student Loan Report, LLC use to share experiences and information related to the challenges college students face with funding their education,’ wrote Nate Matherson, CEO of LendEDU.” So, “drew cloud” instead of “ghost wrote”?

The Bezzle: “Tesla Teardown Shows Tech Prowess, Production Shortcomings” [Bloomberg]. “The latest knock against Tesla’s production credentials comes from Munro & Associates, a small Detroit-area firm that disassembles new cars and analyzes them down to the nuts and bolts. Founder Sandy Munro has picked apart a Model 3 sedan and praises its battery pack and electronics but pans much of the rest of the vehicle as costly, heavy and poorly built… The circuit boards in Tesla’s newest sedan also are on par in terms of complexity with those used in cell phones, high-end computers or military fighter jets*, Munro said. Other carmakers should take notice…. ”Mechanically, I don’t have much good to say,’ Munro said last week on ‘Autoline After Hours,’ a Metro Detroit local television show. ‘If it would have come out even decent, they’d have mopped the floor with everybody. But they didn’t.’… ‘They have a hard time with what I would classify as the dinosaur technologies, the mechanical stuff,’ Munro said. ‘There are hundreds of us in the field that could help them fix that. I hope they pick one.'” * Hopefully not the F-35?

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s Autopilot Chief Keller Steps Down After Two Years” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla Inc.’s Autopilot chief Jim Keller has left the company, the latest in a rash of executive departures at the electric-car maker led by Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk…. The team running Autopilot — Tesla’s assisted-driving system — has experienced turnover amid a fierce war for the engineering talent needed to develop autonomous vehicles. … The auto industry and its regulators are counting on assisted-driving technology to help reduce crashes that lead to tens of thousands of injuries and deaths in the U.S. every year.” That’s silly; if somebody has something other than than handwaving to back up those numbers, I’d very much like to see it. And whatever the real business case for robot cars is, I would bet it was very little to do with saving lives, and much more to do with moving from a sales model to a rental (extraction) model, plus data mining. I mean, come on.

Mr. Market: “Yes. It’s a Bubble. So What?” [Research Affiliates]. “Our view is that the market constantly creates single-asset micro-bubbles, isolated examples of extreme mispricing which require severe right-tail outcomes to justify the asset’s price. Over the first quarter of 2018, Tesla has been an excellent example of a micro-bubble. Tesla’s current price is arguably fair if most cars are powered by electricity in 10 years, if most of these cars are made by Tesla, if Tesla can make those cars with sufficient margin and quality control and can service the cars properly, and if Tesla can raise additional capital sufficient to cover a $3 billion annual cash drain and another billion to service its debt. To us, that seems an unduly optimistic array of assumptions, especially given the magnitude of Tesla’s debt burden. Such an argument ignores the deep pockets of competitors and the common phenomenon of disruptors being themselves disrupted by newcomers. Absent the unfolding of this rosy scenario, Tesla’s current price would require remarkably aggressive assumptions to deliver a positive risk premium. For investors who agree with this assessment, Tesla constitutes a single-stock micro-bubble. This example also illustrates a key point about bubbles: Because the current price is acceptable to the marginal buyer and seller, there will always be a cohort that says, ‘This is no bubble!'”

Five Horsemen: “On the first-year anniversary of the Five Horsemen chart, Facebook is bouncing back with an 18.5% annual gain versus as 13.5% annual gain in the S&P 500 tracker” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Apr 26 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index remained at 48 (worry) as new lows have begun exceeding new highs again” [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 25 2018


“Group of Republican AGs File Brief Opposing Climate Liability Suits” [Climate Liabiilty News]. “More than a dozen Republican state attorneys general filed a brief urging a federal court to dismiss two California cities’ climate change liability suits…. Among the attorneys general signing the brief was Cynthia Coffman of Colorado, where the nation’s first inland climate liability cases were filed last week in state court. Coffman and the 14 other attorneys general are part of a group that has repeatedly sued the Environmental Protection Agency over enforcement and climate-related actions. That group included Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt until he became EPA chief last year. The other state AGs represent Indiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming… The AGs’ brief also asserts that the cities’ claims ‘jeopardize our national system of cooperative federalism.’ This echoes Pruitt’s reasoning for re-evaluating the waiver that allows California to set emissions standards that are tighter than federal limits. ‘Cooperative federalism doesn’t mean that one state can dictate standards for the rest of the country,’ Pruitt said in a statement this month.”

“Opinion: A zero-carbon economy is within reach, thanks to strong public policy” [Adair Turner, MarketWatch]. “Contrary to simplistic economic models, the pace of innovation and cost reduction is not an exogenous given; it is strongly determined by governments’ long-term objectives. On the cost curves economists use to rank carbon-reduction technologies, solar PV was, a mere 10 years ago, one of the most expensive options. On the latest cost curves, however, it shows up as one of the cheapest. Strong policy support drove it there.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“Announcing IoT Inspector: Studying Smart Home IoT Device Behavior” [Freedom to Tinker]. Four “findings” so far:

  1. Many IoT Devices Lack Basic Encryption & Authentication
  2. User Behavior Can Be Inferred from Encrypted IoT Device Traffic
  3. Many IoT Devices Contact a Large and Diverse Set of Third Parties
  4. Smart Home Device Traffic is Predictable, Facilitating Anomaly Detection

Everything’s going according to plan.

Police State Watch

“Chicago Police Won’t Return Seized Cash After Raiding Wrong Apartment, Woman Says” [NBC Chicago]. “‘We take this seriously and have (a) process to repair damaged dwellings if that’s what occurred,’ department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in an email.” No doubt!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Life’s little ironies:

“A Murky Heritage: the U.S. Army, the Civil War, and Memory” [Angry Staff Officer]. “It was during World War I that the old state units of the National Guard finally were subsumed into the larger entity that was the U.S. Army. State institutions – some of them dating back to before the founding of the nation itself – disappeared. In order to capture the history of these formations, the Army began notating the lineage of the units. Sadly, this is also when they caved to southern revisionists who were casting the war as a fight for state’s rights rather than slavery – the myth of the Lost Cause. It was then that National Guard units that had lineage dating back to militia elements that had elected to fight for the Confederacy were permitted to keep that legacy.”

Our Famously Free Press

“Joy Reid Cancels An Event Appearance Amid Claims That Anti-Gay Blog Posts Were A Result Of Hacking” [Buzzfeed]. “Reid was set to participate Thursday in a ‘Change Summit’ event in New York organized by former US attorney Preet Bharara and his media venture Cafe. Reid planned to moderate a panel with Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib; Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana; and Ravi Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.”

“The Evidence Is Not With Joy Reid” [The Atlantic]. “‘Nonetheless,’ [Old Dominion computer scientist Michael Nelson] wrote, ‘with multiple copies geographically and administratively dispersed throughout the globe, an adversary would have had to hack multiple web archives and alter their contents (cf. lockss.org), or have hacked the original site (blog.reidreport.com) approximately 12 years ago for adulterated pages to have been hosted at all the different web archives.’ As he notes, it is possible that someone did this, but ‘extraordinarily unlikely.’ Among the implausible factors is that for Reid’s story to be correct, someone would have had to hack her blog back in the ’00s, but no one, including Reid herself, noticed the invalid posts” [i.e., the homophophic posts Reid claims were hacked]. I don’t hear people baying for her dismissal, so I guess homophobia is OK if you’re a prominent liberal Democrat media figure. KInda… broey, no?

* * *

“Newspaper op-eds change minds” [Science Daily]. n = 3,567. “Through two randomized experiments, researchers found that op-ed pieces had large and long-lasting effects on people’s views among both the general public and policy experts. The study, published in the Quarterly Journal of Political Science, also found that Democrats and Republicans altered their views in the direction of the op-ed piece in roughly equal measure…. ‘The time and energy it takes to produce an op-ed pieces raises a question: Are people persuaded by op-eds?’ said Alexander Coppock, assistant professor of political science at Yale and the study’s lead author. ‘We found that op-ed pieces have a lasting effect on people’s views regardless of their political affiliation or their initial stance on an issue. People read an argument and were persuaded by it. It’s that simple.'”

Class Warfare

Royal babies:

This completes our royal babies coverage for the decade, indeed the century.

News of The Wired

“Drupal remote code execution vulnerability exploited widely (SA-CORE-2018-004) – Lax security makes a dent in enterprise adoption aspirations?” [Drupal Shell]. Drupal security: “The security team is aware that SA-CORE-2018-004, is being exploited in the wild. If you have not updated, please do so now.” Thanks, dude. I’ll set aside a few days.

“What I learned by living without artificial light” [BBC]. Self-medication with photons.

“100 Years of Brasseries: The Historical Evolution of the Bra” [RealClearLife]. Gotta brush up on my French slang!

* * *

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

TH writes: “Water Lily in a friend’s garden. (Rancho Palos Verdes, California).”

* * *

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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. Wukchumni

    My coming out party was $190 in 1961.

    How different is a pregnancy now, aside from C-sections being far more common?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Speaking to a retired OB/GYN, one of the big differences today is if the baby isn’t perfect, then there is often a multi-million dollar lawsuit to defend. In the good ‘ol days, most just accepted that nature isn’t always perfect, now it must be someone’s fault… Like most things, there’s probably a study somewhere that says this isn’t true, but the cost of malpractice insurance was something that pushed him to retire.

      1. paulmeli

        Sounds plausible, except for the fact that defense against lawsuits accounts for around 2% of healthcare costs.

        From where I sit, “practicing medicine” is a verb, and there should probably be more lawsuits against the many grifters that impersonate doctors (as in “do no harm”). Medicine is just as much a business as it is a profession. I’m not sure which is more prominent but It is pretty obvious which way it’s heading.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Hearsay evidence from a retired OB-GYN, eh wot?

        I recall when I was in college and thinking of trying for medical school and doing stuff like reading the Journal of the American Medical Association and getting a D in calculus and a C- in organic chemistry because I was reading too much history and literature, I came across an interesting exchange and subsequent article in JAMA. This would have been in 1965.

        It seems that the wife of OB-GYN “A” wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal, complaining that at the rates being paid then under I think it was “capitation,” her hubby just was not getting paid enough to support the lifestyle she thought they were entitled to. Two months later, a letter in reply from the wife or OB-GYN “B,” who said something to the effect that wife “A” should buck up and have her hubby perform a few more C-sections every week. And voila, she could have the fur and Mercedes and club memberships and backyard pool that wife “B” enjoyed, since OB-GYN “B” was good at getting anxious mothers to “save the strain on themselves and the baby” by getting that C-section delivery, instead of pushing that large mass out a tight channel with all that ick and pain and all. And of course “once a C-section patient, ALWAYS a C-section patient” (and yes, I know that is not true in many cases.) I should add that JAMA also published letters, as I recall, that were shall we say “critical” of the avarice of wife “A” and OB-GYN “B.”

        I have lots of anecdotes, personal and family, of what’s wrong and bad about Mechanical Medicine, and the endless game of “wallet biopsies” and such… And as a law student, in 1975, I learned that my school (BU LAw) was in danger of losing its accreditation the year before I graduated. Because the University was siphoning off 55 or 60% of my and my fellow students’ tuition money to dump into the general funds of the University. And that well over half that over half of my hard-earned tuition dollar was going to the MED SCHOOL. The joke was that after we graduated, we needed to get into medical malpractice litigation, “to get some of our own back.”

        “Can we… can we… can we .. all.. just get along?” Not when THERE’S MONEY TO BE GOTTEN. :<

      3. freedeomny

        My big sister – amazing obgyn doc – left the field she loved because of the malpractice insurance. She couldn’t do it on her own and refused to work for an HMO. She is now working part time for a private practice….but who knows how long it will be before that practice gets bought up…

      1. Edward E

        Mine was $250 hospital and doctor bill combined in 1960. My dad says he was delivered by a midwife in Nov 1935 but he doesn’t know if any money was involved, seems to think sacks of potatoes.

    2. kukuzel

      We had twins delivered with C-section a couple years ago, one baby stayed in the hospital in a baby incubator for 30 days, the other for 50 days, in the “top” natal hospital in one of the poorest members of the European Union – which by US standards might be considered average at best, especially the condition of the building. The two weeks before the C-section my wife was hospitalized with daily tests that are typically done 1-2 times during a normal pregnancy in the US, from what I understand.

      But it cost us under $1200 I think, and only because we chose a specific doctor which was about $700 of that. That would have been the cost to anyone in the country. For some people there $700-$1000 is a lot, but even for the poorest it is manageable – especially when you consider the lifesaving care that went on for weeks.

      Yes, we weren’t happy with everything (patient info privacy is really poor by US standards, building was very outdated, some nurses were old-school and very grumpy), but the kids were fine, and are fine.

      How much would have that cost in the US?? Seriously — Im curious about an estimate.

      1. BrianC

        80 days in a NICU? Probably at least 1 million in the US.

        Our twin boys were considered a high risk pregnancy. They were delivered by C Section after several hours of trying for a “normal” birth.

        While waiting for the C Section, I overheard the docs discussing a twins case with two babies that would probably each be in the NICU for between 30 to 60 days. Cost to the HMO was going to be about a million bucks. (This was 17 years ago.)

        All of a sudden those admonitions to “go to the hospital” anytime something was unusual made sense. Two or three visits per week at ~2k apiece compared to a million dollars? ($50 copay for us.) Suddenly the cost of the visits was insignficant. And we were in and out at least once a week in the last 3 months of pregnancy.

        In our case my wife’s OBGYN came in on his own time because he wanted to be there for the delivery. So they called him in at around 9:30pm for a midnight delivery. We had the on call staff HMO OBGYN resident assisting*. The HMO also had two fully staffed teams in adjacent rooms. One for each kid in case something went wrong. (Both were carried to term. One was 6 3/4 lbs and his brother was 7 lbs.) Things went well and both boys came through fine.

        Total out of pocket for us was under 1500 if I remember correctly. That included a 5 day stay in the hospital after delivery.

        This was in Portland OR. Delivery at St Vincent on the west side.

        * Total staff in the delivery room: 2 OBGYN, 1 aesthesiologist, 2 nurses. Plus standby teams of at least one doc and nurse and ? Each boy was handed off to a team after delivery.

  2. Seth A Miller

    If the Dems take the house, impeaching Trump is indeed a bad idea. But impeaching Pruitt, Mulvaney and DeVos would be an excellent idea. Unlike with Trump, those fights could not be labelled as an end run around the democratic process. In fact, it is obvious that Trump’s voters did not vote for the kinds of policies represented by these three clowns.

      1. Seth A Miller

        Exactly. Even if the Dems don’t have the votes in the Senate to convict, the Repubs in the Senate have no credible defense. This would not be anything like the overblown puffery around “Russia” or “collusion.” McConnell literally would not be able to change the subject.

    1. lambert strether

      That does sound like fun, although turnabout will be fair play. Perhaps if liberals and conservatives destroy each other’s ability to govern, the left can step into the breach…

      1. Seth A Miller

        Right, but I think the corporate Democrats have sabotaged their own ability to govern. Impeaching the three most corrupt cabinet officials would demonstrate a competence to govern that we haven’t seen from the Dems for basically my whole life. It would not be symbolism like a “sit in” on the House floor. It would be them actually doing their job, and removing officials who undermine and violate the law.

        As other comments point out, the people now in control of the party won’t do it. Which means that, if it gets done it will be the left that gets it done. IMHO it’s time the left remembered how to work the levers of power.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Impeaching the three most corrupt cabinet officials would demonstrate a competence to govern

          How? “Any fool can tear down a barn.”

          (And I don’t have a lot of confidence the whole effort wouldn’t be seen as gamed anyhow. The VA nominee certainly wasn’t the best person for the job, but the scandals that magically appeared, because Trump, when the guy had also served Bush and Obama…. Pure “any stick to beat a dog” stuff. I’m not sure the Democrats have standing here.)

    2. Sid Finster

      That sounds eminently sensible and therefore there is no way Team D will do anything of the sort.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      I doubt the Leadership Dems really oppose those people at all. Both groups serve the OverClass in each group’s own separate way.

      If the Dems retake the House, they can prove me wrong by seeking impeachments against all the Trump-appointed underminers and sabateurs and Trojan tapeworms.

      1. Eureka Springs

        Steny Hoyer is out there with so many others making sure there is not now nor will there be a Dem-stinction worth a difference.

        And if history demonstrates anything, Dems taking back the House means only major league baseball (or some other small targets to be picked on and or grifted) should be worried.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          Forgive the inevitable formatting lost in the C&P:

          Steny H Hoyer D-MD

          Industry Total
          Electric Utilities $218,000
          Insurance $203,800
          Health Professionals $202,720
          Securities & Investment $195,540
          Lawyers/Law Firms $183,900
          Real Estate $180,660
          Pharmaceuticals/Health Products $146,450
          Public Sector Unions $138,000
          Pro-Israel $125,450
          Commercial Banks $84,250
          by Greenhouse | data OpenSecrets.org

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I doubt the Leadership Dems really oppose those people at all.

        Since Pompeo just got confirmed as SoS, with Democrat votes, of course they don’t. #TheDesistance

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          There will be some people who treat support by Hoyer as the kiss of death. They will vote against anyone who receives Hoyer’s support.

          What if all the several millions Bernies were to all agree to treat support by Hoyer as a kiss of death to any candidate at any level which is supported by the Hoyer? What if such Bernies in a close election situation were willing to vote Republican for strictly strategic and tactical reasons . . . to MAKE the Hoyer-approved candidate lose? And what if such Bernies were to do it again and again and again, until the disease of Hoyeritis were rigidly quarantined within Hoyer’s own district?

          That is how the DNC can slowly be driven out of whole regions of the country and the party.

    4. John k

      Dems voted for all of them. Just as they joined reps in voting them into office then, they won’t vote to impeach now. Gotta be consistent.

  3. Wukchumni

    My first car was a puke green 1974 Pinto that had served my siblings previously. A truly awful car that dissuaded me from ever buying another Ford.

    Anybody think this move is just subterfuge, so as to get rid of American production, in favor of much cheaper Chinese & Mexican rates of pay, not to mention bright and shiny new state of the art factories, sans unions?

    1. TheMog

      I don’t think so – GM has also reduced the number of car models it is selling. There was an article on Wolf Street in the last couple of days that basically suggested that car sales keep falling while truck/SUV sales increase.

      Ford had been fairly adventurous lately with decisions like bringing in the Focus RS from Europe, but like most cars that were aimed at enthusiasts, the dealer network saw them mainly as an opportunity to add ‘market value adjustments’ and that didn’t do much for demand.

    2. judy sixbey

      Thanks for the memories. Our first car was also a puke green ford pinto station wagon. We used to call it the fire wagon on account of its propensity to explode in rear end collisions. It took us from Little Rock to Baltimore and finally died in Chapel Hill, NC. The thing would barely climb a low hill in first gear. A total piece of junk. Its been pretty much Honda and Toyota ever since. Ford taught us a valuable lesson.

      1. Eureka Springs

        The puke green Pinto was the only thing which made a lime green Gremlin look good. I remember my folks trading in the Gremlin for a new Volare wagon with fake wood panels (must have been the last U.S. auto with wood look along the sides?). They left the Gremlin running in the parking lot as we drove quickly away in the Volare. We knew the Gremlin once turned off would never start again.

        1. cnchal

          . . . the last U.S. auto with wood look along the sides?

          That honor goes to the 96 Buick Roadmaster Estate wagon where they came standard with the woodgrain vinyl side and the only way to get one without it was a woodgrain delete option. They seat eight in a pinch and going for a ride in the rear facing seats in the back is a blast. Especially with the LT1 pulling hard.

          I think wagons make a lot more sense than the current crop of ugly SUVs and pick up trucks. I am expecting evil looking gargoyles to be molded into the front and rear fascias of these new cars and trucks to match the strip lighting.

          Speaking of Gremlins, I had a used Levis edition with a 200 cu inch six and three on the floor that could barely get out of it’s own way. Drove it a few years and sold it to a friend for $125 bucks and he drove it for a few more until it finally broke down on the highway. He abandoned it on the spot and ended up with a ticket for littering the highway.

          1. Eureka Springs

            How could I forget the Buick wagon. Loved those land yachts. Much larger and they could have added an intercom system.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > expecting evil looking gargoyles to be molded into the front and rear fascias

            Yes, I find the bloated and predatory look of current automobile styling extremely disturbing and a perfect expression of the current zeitgeist.

    3. Kilgore Trout

      Growing up, ours was a Ford family. They still made nice cars in the 50’s and 60’s, we had consecutively: a ’57 beige wagon, a ’63 Galaxie wagon, and then a ’68 wagon with fake wood trim and that lovely olive green color. We did a 3 weeks camping trip across the country in ’63. Hitting Yellowstone, Glacier, then Banff, and on home. My dad was a WW2 vet and a union tool and die maker (UAW), and this year was, in hindsight, a high-water mark for blue-collar middle class Americans: husband, wife, and 3 kids, “seeing the USA in their [not] Chevrolet.”

      It’s a testament to the company’s decline, and the short-sightedness and stupidity of the US auto industry. I give Ford 10 years before it’s out of business entirely.

      1. Wukchumni

        We had a 1966 blue Ford station wagon that saw many a trip to Sequoia/Kings Canyon and Yosemite NP’s…

        Almost 50 years later, I can still feel the intensely hot vinyl seats on any exposed body parts, after the car had sat for hours in the hot California Sun, ha!

        1. Otis B Driftwood

          Hah hah hah. I had completely forgotten about vinyl seat burn. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. ;)

    4. marieann

      We have always driven Ford….mostly because we can get the A plan. Our present Fusion is 3 years old, we drive our cars into the ground so I guess we won’t be able to replace this one in 15 years.
      My husband says he’s sure there will be a nice Japanese company that will sell him a little car.

    5. Lost in OR

      Ah yes, what memories. How about clinging to the hard steel wheel well of a Willy’s jeep. I can hear the rattles, squeaks, and squeals now. Treetops passing by. Adventure ahead!

      Who knew about safety? And how could you care about what you didn’t know about?

      1. wilroncanada

        I remember two family vehicles.
        The first was a red pickup truck (don’t recall the brand or model because I didn’t pay attention to that at the time. On the back, my father had home-made a box, with very good doors, and benches along both sides. That’s where the four of us kids would ride, down Highway 6 from Hamilton to Lake Erie, or to Niagara Falls.
        Then we had a Rambler (about 1955) in which the front bench seat folded down to make a bed. Took my first driving lessons, with dad shouting all the way, on it. Great times with the bed/seat at the drive-in…NOT. I was a good boy, ha ha ha.

  4. Off The Street

    Love the natural light article. I applied a variation on the techniques when in college, focusing on daylight time uses. A professor had mentioned that many students approach college as a type of job, and one of his protégés had followed that scrupulously. That successful student committed time to classes, papers, studying and exams only from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. His example led me to ask if I might try a variation on that to free up more time for, well, life. My then-girlfriend supported the efforts. ;)

    That relates to the light article via a realization that time spent with all that flickering fluorescent lighting, then almost the only type on campus, led to headaches. I searched out the few study areas with incandescent lighting and noticed an immediate improvement. Then I tapered off any artificial lights. I was fortunate enough to be able to apply that natural light approach on many jobs, requesting a window seat when possible. That was a different era and I had desired skills, so the bosses humored my requests. I’m glad that current workers might on occasion have more lighting options, and grieve for those forced to work in cave-like conditions.

    1. Wukchumni

      When we’re out on a backpack trip, typically the only lighting we have is a 100 lumens headlamp, oh also the Moon and the Sun. As my friend likes to say, there are only 2 times in the backcountry-day and night.

      Walking @ night during a full moon takes a little getting used to, but it’s surprising just how much light it gives off.

      1. KevinD

        Winter camped several times up in Ontario – when the moon is out and there is snow on the ground – you can pert ‘near read a newspaper!

    2. The Rev Kev

      In his book “At Home”, Bill Bryson devotes a chapter to the history of lighting in homes and how unnerving incandescent lights were when they first came out. They took a lot of getting use to. One unexpected result was how they lit up a room with an intense light. Earlier lights like candles, gas, etc. were like pools of light but incandescent lights lit up every part of a room which would show up any marks, grime, etc that weaker lights tended to hide. Much hard cleaning had to follow the introduction of these light.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Much hard cleaning had to follow the introduction of these light

        It would be interesting to see a history of technology timeline connecting the spread of the incandescent lightbulb with the invention and marketing of the vacuum cleaner.

        Makes me wonder if current technologies have impacted domestic labor in any way. Like, does Alexa make you clean more? Or must all rooms in your dwelling be “selfie-ready”? (No and no, for me, but others may differ.)

    1. JohnnyGL

      And NONE of these leaders has since lost their job. Except Harry Reid, who retired, but still likes to pull the strings now and again.

      Everything in the party is just as it was a decade ago.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Makes you wonder what business they’re in.

      In particular, that $700 million that went to five (5) consultants in 2016… Did any of that go as kickbacks to “the electeds” like Hoyer? Through indirect and circuitous routes, of course, with middlemen taking rake-offs, Hoyer being a liberal Democrat.

  5. Andrew Watts

    RE: Merkley & Medicare Option for All bill

    The bill is called ‘Choose Medicare Act’ and would make Medicare Part E available for purchase on all state and federal health care exchanges. It doesn’t have anything to do with any single-player plan. Nor would it stop the ongoing crapficiation of Medicare. It’s weak tea.

    Additionally, Merkley is exploring the possibility of a presidential run in 2020. I am severely underwhelmed by that prospect. He only endorsed Sanders due to the pressure he was facing from the left throughout his career at the federal level. Wyden is virtually untouchable since he will become Chairman of the powerful Finance Committee if the Democrats can gain control of the Senate,

    1. Oregoncharles

      Wyden is untouchable because he was re-elected in 2016. (Just thinking about Wyden makes me angry.) I think Merkley is up in 2020, though. He’s popular because he’s pretty liberal, especially compared to Wyden, and much less visibly arrogant. I’m always surprised when Wyden actually answers a question, but Merkley does the aw-shucks downhome boy routine very well.

      Powerful Congressmen have lost elections before. The problem here is that the Republicans are so weak they can’t or won’t run serious contenders in statewide elections, so even a spoiler campaign (which we attempted against Wyden) isn’t effective.

  6. hunkerdown

    You might start with “brasserie”, which Anglophones might call a “brewpub”. Their connection to undergarments is evident, yet thin.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      when I was 14 I went with my grandparents to Toronto (as a “member of the board”), and when bidness was done(soundtraps at the airport,iirc), I was allowed to drive to Montreal and on to Quebec.
      The brasseries in Montreal were cool to my eyes, then…lots of shiny brass, as you might expect, and sexy waitresses… My grandad kept calling them “Brassiers”, and all the french canadiens would look at us askance…Texas hillbillies invading their fair environs.
      I was the translator on the whole trip, micro robert in hand, mangling the Language of Love. The locals were more tolerant with me.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          one of his inventions. air intake for the hacv, at a noisy place like that. so we built essentially duct sections with an inner surface that was perforated metal, and a bunch of insulation stuffed between outer and inner.
          that duct section also made a weird turn, to allow the sound to get lost in the insulation, but allow air through.
          I stuffed insulation into hundreds of the damned things as my first job.
          Houston intercontinental has them, too…and others I can’t remember.

          and as far as the etymology of “brasserie”, that’s the spelling and pronounciation I remember, and I am almost certain it referred to the abundant brass fixtures.

  7. allan

    So much negativity at NC, while lots of good things are happening:

    Ivanka Trump talks skills training legislation with senators, CEOs [The Hill]

    White House senior adviser and first daughter Ivanka Trump discussed legislation to boost skills training for tech careers with senators and corporate executives on Wednesday night, according to a source familiar with the event.

    Trump specifically talked with lawmakers and business leaders about reauthorizing the Perkins Act, a bill aimed at bolstering workforce education training, during a dinner she and husband Jared Kushner hosted at their home in northwest Washington, D.C.

    The bill has been a priority for some major technology companies like IBM, whose CEO Ginni Rometty attended the dinner Wednesday night. The source [rhymes with Jaranka] noted though that discussing the Perkins Act was a “priority topic” for Trump during the dinner. …

    IBM, IBM … hasn’t that name has been in the news recently …

    IBMers report layoffs across several groups, including Watson, analytics, cloud

    Watson, analytics, cloud … aren’t those the cutting edge of the cutting edge? Oh, wait

    …Some of the people laid off were perplexed, given their positions with the tech giant.

    “Hi. 20 year IBM’er working on Watson was just told I was laid off. Over 40, woman,” posted one worker….

    Over 40, woman … it’s almost as if there were a pattern here … 40 is the new 60.

    1. Summer

      And that’s not good for anyone.
      If one was to finally get a foothold into a career at 30-35 (not uncommon), they’ve got 10 years max.

    2. wilroncanada

      In some occupations, 40 is the new 60…Right.
      A few years ago, my son-in-law resigned from an engineering job with a large (by Canadian standards) company owned by a European expat at the time. It occupied a campus, so-called, with bicycles to drive around on, a dining area that served only nutritious food, along with some other perks. But it also mysteriously disappeared most of its engineers by the age of 40.
      Unfortunately, Ivankacare shills training wasn’t available at the time.

  8. visitor

    I think it is “brassière” not “brasserie” — which in French means a brewery.

    I would not mind an article on the evolution of breweries, though.

  9. DonCoyote

    That Inside Elections piece is so neolib/DNC it’s scary.

    1) “It should not be forgotten that there will be an additional woman in the House of Representatives with Lesko, bringing the total to 84 women out of 435 seats, according to the Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics. So it’s…progress.”

    Because, in identity politics. the R doesn’t matter, only the W(oman). (And would it be progress if the retiring politician was a minority male?)

    2) “Tipirneni ran a general election campaign as a moderate Democrat from the start, even when she had a progressive primary opponent.”

    “Good” Democrats only move to the right, not to the left, even in primaries. Free healthcare is for froo-froo Europeans–Americans are tough and America is already great. For every progressive we lose we will pick up two conservatives. TINA. Or something like that.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > That Inside Elections piece is so neolib/DNC it’s scary.

      Yes, that’s why I like them. As I keep saying, the “Lost Cause” mythology was propagated by the glass-ceiling-smashers of their day, the Daughters of the Confederacy (and the Lost Cause reminds me a lot of Russia! Russia! Russia! as the Clintonite explanation for 2016. I really think if unchecked, that’s going to do a lot of permanent damage).

  10. DonCoyote

    Hillary selling the DNC her list–HRC has a long and honorable history of doing this before.

    Here’s the short version: After dropping out of the Democratic primary in June 2008, HRC reactivated her “leadership” PAC, Hill PAC. Hill PAC collected $3.9 million in donations but gave just $421 thousand, 11%, to 2008 candidates (average for leadership PACs was just under 50%). When confronted with this, they claimed they ran an extensive e-mail campaign which (they claimed) raised $750 thousand in direct donations to candidates. But where did they get the e-mail list? They rented (not bought) it from the Hillary campaign for $822 thousand. Several other groups paid the Hillary campaign $274 thousand for a one-time rental, including the Clinton Foundation the DCCC, and the DNC Federal Fund.

    There is much more in that story (including the possibility that the Hillary campaign sold the list but continued to rent it out), but my takeaways are 1) Hillary rented this list to herself (campaign to PAC and campaign to Foundation) multiple times, paying with other people’s money, and 2) that the Hillary PAC spent more money renting the list than they claimed they got as donations from it.

    1. Harold

      How long will it take the people she has bamboozled to wake up and see her and her husband for what they are? Or will they ever?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank you for this summary. Is there a link, especially to this part:

      Hillary rented this list to herself (campaign to PAC and campaign to Foundation) multiple times, paying with other people’s money

      I don’t spend a lot of time trying to think like that. But it’s beautiful, in its own way.

      1. The Rev Kev

        “I’m reminded of something the elder Vanderbilt’s lawyer said to the old man under similar circumstances: ‘It’s beautiful the way it is; why spoil it by making it legal?’

        from “The Man Who Sold the Moon” by Robert A. Heinlein

      2. DonCoyote

        Sorry, I was “off the grid” (as Jesse Ventura says) for a long weekend.

        Here’s the source (The Intercept, two years ago, and here are the relevant quotes, from which I fashioned that summary:

        “Hill PAC paid $822,492 to the Clinton campaign to rent its list of supporters and their contact information. That alone was nearly twice the amount Hill PAC contributed to down-ballot candidates.”

        “Merrill insisted that Hill PAC “was always operated with the highest of ethical standards, and implications to the contrary from those with partisan motives is wholly without merit.”

        He said the list rental price, at approximately $600 per 1,000 names, represented the “fair market value” for a multiple-use rental. He said “pricing validation from commercial vendors was used, along with the most recent past presidential campaign at the time, which was Kerry ’04.”

        Around the same time, the Clinton Foundation, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the DNC Federal Fund, the Presidential Inaugural Committee, and the American Democracy Institute paid $274,297, which Merrill said was the rate for a one-time rental. Other groups paid less.”

        The only client that paid the Clinton campaign more for its list of supporters was Friends of Hillary, Clinton’s Senate campaign committee. That transaction, for over $2.5 million, was listed as a “sale of assets” and “purchase of assets” on FEC reports filed by the campaign and Hill PAC, respectively, rather than a list rental.

        But records show the campaign accepted payments for its list for years after the sale to Friends of Hillary — earning it millions more. Obama’s re-election campaign, for instance, paid $62,782 to use the Clinton list. The campaign earned $25,000 in “list rental income” as recently as January 2013 — four years after the sale.

        So “Hillary rented the list to herself, multiple times” is my summary, not verbiage actually used in the article. But it does have the detail, from FEC.gov , on income to the Hillary for President 2008 campaign for list rental (amounts and from which organizations).

  11. DJG

    Not that I doubt thee, Lambert Strether, but I had to go back to the original Buzzfeed article to see if this sentence is there:

    “Reid planned to moderate a panel with Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib; Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana; and Ravi Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.”

    Wowsers, I thought. Regardless of Reid’s problems with gayfolk, which most likely are not so uncommon among the Democratic upper crust, I must translate the sentence by this Perlberg guy into its original Freudian:

    “Reid planned to moderate a panel with Washington Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib; Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and, lo, the seal was broken and the Buttigieg was revealed to be the beast with four horns who will have angry sulfurous smoke arising from his genitals; and Ravi Bhalla, the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey.”

    Just another daily adventure in writing of the “nice, clean Negro” style.

  12. audrey jr

    Hey, Lambert, have I got a book for you. While I was teaching myself French I found a wonderful French slang book at a local used bookstore. The book is called “The Complete Merde,” by Genevieve.
    It is a real hoot and very helpful for those of us who watch a lot of French cinema and wonder why, although fluent in French, we cannot understand the dialogue used in the movies we watch.
    This is a must have for French language students, IMHO.

  13. zagonostra

    You can see just how mendacious and lurid the DNC legal shenanigans of suing Wikileaks and Russia for 2016 election meddling are when viewed from the Intercept piece on Hoyer being recorded urging Tilleman (Medicare-for-all platform) to step aside.

    Why would anybody reasonably believe that the Democrats or Republican party has any intentions of making substantive changes to a system that lines they’re pockets with the filthy lucre of lobbyist and the toil of the masses?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’m wondering if integrating the DNC’s lawsuit, if lawsuit is the word I want, and the Hoyer tapes would be instructive, in terms of the Democrats claims about themselves as a party.

  14. SKG

    On the value proposition of driverless cars, just looking at insurance payouts on automobile policies, we’re talking about $160B / year in the US.


    If you can eliminate half of that, it’s $80B / year, or $360 / driver / year. Or a worthwhile $3000 – $5000 option on a car.

    And that doesn’t include any damage related to collisions not paid by insurance companies, or other secondary costs.

    Throw in improved mobility for disabled people, possibly improved traffic flow and utilization of roads (i.e. fewer wrecks causing traffic jams), etc. and there’s a case for them without extra Bezzle.

    1. curlydan

      there’s 1 fatality currently in the US per 86 million miles driven. To become twice as safe and cut insurance rates in half, driverless cars might need one fatality per 172 million miles driven.


      “I asked the captain what his name was
      And how come he didn’t drive a truck
      He said his name was Columbus
      I just said, ‘Good luck.’ ”

      Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream

      1. Edward E

        We should just go back to the horse and buggy. Less wrecks and emissions back then because the drivers didn’t depend on their own intelligence.

        1. JTMcPhee

          …but that’s the whole idea of “autonomous vehicles,” isn’t it? What’s the Electric Cowboys equivalent of horse hockeys?

          1. Edward E

            Strip mine chuck holes all over the earth to get the rare metals?
            Or I should have said they didn’t wholly depend on their own intelligence.

    2. bob

      “possibly improved traffic flow and utilization of roads”

      That’s toward the end of your masturbation. You seem to be applying that “possible” assumption being true when you also assume that $80B will be saved by insurance. At the top.

      “If you can eliminate half of that, it’s $80B / year, or $360 / driver / year.”

      This is what is known as a circular argument. It’s a bad one too. You contradict yourself.

      You are correct in saying it’s *possible*. But, it’s also possible we’ll be invaded by aliens who will be flawless drivers and will volunteer to be our chauffeurs. Where is the evidence that even ONE “driverless” car can mobilize itself without causing damage? Not only are we supposed to believe that this is indeed possible, after a decade of well funded R&D (at least), but the bullshit is piled higher and deeper with the other implied assumption-

      “We can’t figure out how to handle one, but when we do we’ll surely be able to handle them all. Better™!”

      One complex problem is hard. Millions of them, together? In real time? Let’s go ahead and assume no.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If you can eliminate half of that

      What I’m questioning. For example, does eliminating that half depend on Level 5 robot cars? If so, we’ll be waiting a long time. Or, how much of robot car safety will be attributed fixing their broken algos by changing their inputs, and improving the environment so they can understand it, as with better signage, better lane markings, more lights, etc.? Well, those infrastructural improvements would save lives regardless, robot cars or no. So what’s the net? Finally, here is a map from City Labs showing the geographic distribution of car deaths:

      As City Labs says, the map shows:

      America’s Car Death Belt, made up of two distinct parts: the Deep South and the Great Plains states.

      Does anybody believe robot cars will be deployed first in those areas, as opposed (say) to Blue Cities?

  15. Summer

    Well, the Bill Cosby conviction accomplished something major: it sucked up all the air around 24 hr Trump for a momemnt.
    It’s hard to believe he got away with it for so long.

    I don’t know how much #Metoo had to do with it, but it’s odd that it seems the stories were already written with #MeToo in the headlines and copy.
    Usually anti-establisment movements don’t get much play or credit at all. Just seems strange.

    1. Wukchumni

      Interesting how 2 of our most beloved comedians ended up, Robin offing himself, and Bill going to the all bar motel for the rest of his life, more than likely.

      1. mle detroit

        Not really a parallel, since Williams knew he had Lewy Body Dementia (related to Parkinson’s). It’s a horrible runaway train on a steep downhill track with only one destination. His gutsy decision was a gift to himself and his family.

        1. Wukchumni

          Hanging yourself with a belt, and having somebody find your corpse in such a fashion, isn’t my definition of gutsy, sorry.

        2. Ed Miller

          A young lady with incurable cancer moved to Oregon just so she could end her life on her terms here. Also, a very dear lady librarian I knew (Oregon native) was able to go on her terms when ALS was getting the best of her instead of horrible suffering for another year or more. She went with class.

          He could have moved to Oregon, done something similar, and left us on better terms.

      2. Randy

        I will be very surprised if Bill spends any time behind bars, he has too much money, too little time left.

  16. ewmayer

    o Re. Bernie’s tweet about the cost of delivering the royal incubus, he’s simply ignoring an obvious opportunity for marketing spin: “In America, every baby is treated like royalty.” Take that, ya pinko – USA! USA!

    o “100 Years of Brasseries: The Historical Evolution of the Bra” [RealClearLife]. Gotta brush up on my French slang! – And the RealClearLife author needs to brush up on his spelling, unless said author is claiming that all those small French restaurant/brewpubs were somehow key in the evolution of ladies support undergarments. (The confusion of those 2 terms brings to mind the lyrics of the Frank Zappa song Wet T-shirt Night.)

    Possible useful mnemonic: The brassier of the feminist ladies made a show of burning their brassieres in the brasserie’s brazier.

    1. JTMcPhee

      I personally like Bette Midler’s elucidation of the history of the device from the movie “Beaches,” which even made me cry, way back when—

      “”This next story is a true story.
      It concerns two of my favorite subjects:
      industrial theft . . . and-a t-ts!
      Mmm, what a combo! This is the story:”


  17. ProNewerDeal

    I was alive way back in 2003.

    It seemed in 2003 that at least half of the 2018 McResistance like Coward Dean & Rachel “Hannity” Maddow were correctly labeling Bush43 a War Criminal for the Unconstitutional non-UN approved Iraq War.

    Now in 2018 Trump is similarly bombing Syria sans US Congress or UN approval, but the McResistance is not protesting it, only criticizing Dotard D0n for not attacking MORE vigorously.

    1 IMHO the 2018 Syrian attack is worse than the 2003 Iraq War, in that former is the only one that carries a risk of nuclear war given that Russian military is heavily in their client Syria’s territory.

    2 It appears the McResistance in 2018 have become the Bush43-style neocon warmongerers they hated in 2003

    Am I missing something here? I welcome your thoughts/feedback on the prior 2 points.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      we slipped through the membrane into bizarro universe, right around the time Bernie made his entry into the race.
      I used to like rachel, chris, etc(still am fond of kieth). but i pretty much stopped watching them online for 3 years when i was building this house…and when I came back, they were all crazy.
      I mean it’s not like they were reporting on the human suits worn by our reptilian sovereigns back then, but at least i didn’t think they were wearing one themselves.
      Now, I’m not so sure….

    2. Pat

      It is always worth remembering that during the build up to the Iraq war MSNBC cancelled their highest rated show and about the only one making an effective case AGAINST it. Or it’s history with Ed Schultz. If any of their left appealing programming is actually influencing their audience to really demand changes antithetical to the neoliberal norm that programming will be kneecapped or fully cancelled.

      Maddow lost me when she was embedded with the army for the faux ceremonial troops leaving Iraq side show.

  18. Wukchumni

    50,000 to 75,000 protesters marched in the 100 degree heat of Phoenix today, that’s an impressive turnout.

    1. Summer

      It’s hard for them to understand how bad it is for workers with all the forced cheer, unexpressed emotions, and sucking up. It’s called believing your own hype.

  19. Dita

    Re: James Shaw, who disarmed the Waffle House terrorist – Thank the gods Shaw had the presence of mind to toss the rifle over the counter and away from the shooter. Can you imagine what the cops would have done if they’d rolled up onto the scene and seen Shaw, possibly with the rifle in his hands? They’d have shot first, then covered it up.

  20. Wukchumni

    Fresno only exists so Bakersfield won’t get an inferiority complex, or was it the other way around?

    “Fresno ranks No. 2 in the nation for cities with the highest rates of extreme poverty, a new study shows.

    The research by Wall St. 24/7, published this week in USA Today, used census data to rank 20 cities throughout the U.S. by growth rate of extreme poverty growth from 2010 to 2016.

    The city to beat out Fresno for the No. 1 spot is just a short drive down Highway 99 — Bakersfield.”


  21. ewmayer

    The two Korean TV affiliates in my area are currently airing continuous coverage of the Two Koreas Summit, which is of course a huge deal on the Korean peninsula. (Note the rather unjournalistically barbed choice of words in the Asia Times article: “In a photo-op that looks certain to become iconic, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will waddle across the inter-Korean border in the iconic truce village of Panmunjom at 9:30am on Friday for the third-ever inter-Korean summit…”) The body language of the 2 leaders at their face-to-face meeting was very friendly, and undiplomatic though it may be, “waddle” is an accurate description of the portly Kim Jong-un’s gait. Important as this event is, if they pre-empt my regular Korean evening dramas – tonight would normally be Queen of Mystery 2 followed by Let’s Watch the Sunset – for it, I’m gonna be pissed. :)

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It would be highly cool if the two of them just made up, opened the border, and got down to the happy business of reunification…leaving the two behemoth puppet-master empire nations behind them fuming about how they got left out of the party

  22. Oregoncharles

    ” Does this make sense? To put debt on your credit card when you’ve got money in your savings account?”

    Why do you think it’s the same people? I’d guess those who do have some savings just aren’t bothering to put it in a savings account because interest rates are risible.

  23. JCC

    A comment on the Neera Tanden “Inside A Divisive Fight…” article:

    “Several women in the War Room were told by managers not to associate with her anymore inside or outside of the office after she filed the complaint, six former staffers confirmed in interviews.”

    Why would anyone follow their managers’ advice in a situation like this? My immediate reaction would have been to invite the harassee to cup of coffee with all my co-workers in the nearest available public area. That’s how you send a message to management.

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