2:00PM Water Cooler 4/9/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China Says US Trade Talks Currently ‘Impossible'” [Industry Week]. “‘Up to now, Chinese and U.S. officials have not held any negotiations on the trade dispute,’ foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters during a regular press briefing. ‘Under the current conditions, it is impossible for the two sides to have any negotiations on this issue,’ Geng added.”

“China’s Apparel and Textile Imports Jump 22.2% in February Amid Tariff Threats” [Sourcing Journal]. “Trade war or not, U.S. apparel and textile imports from China surged 22.2% in February to 2.54 billion square meters equivalent (SME) compared to a year earlier, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Textiles & Apparel…. With China still by far the top supplier of apparel and textiles to the U.S., all top 10 countries posted increases in imports except India, the second largest supplier for the category, which saw its shipments fall 0.8% to 404.7 million SME. Cambodia, the ninth largest supplier, posted a gain of 22.4% to 96.9 million SME, and the eighth largest supplier, South Korea—with which the U.S. just renegotiated a free trade agreement—saw imports increase 17.5% to 135.4 million SME.”

“The Trump administration is looking to use tougher environmental rules to erect new trade barriers. The White House is considering taking the action, known as a “nontariff barrier,” to stem imports of foreign-made cars…, to make the automobiles more expensive than U.S.-made cars” [Wall Street Journal]. “The idea is to have the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies laws like as the Clean Air Act to subject cars made overseas to strict emissions-standards testing and reviews when entering the U.S. The rules could effectively require more expensive technology on some foreign cars or subject those cars to more expensive hurdles that can be billed to the manufacturer or importer.”

“Farmers’ Anger at Trump Tariffs Puts Republican Candidates in a Bind” [New York Times]. “While the battle for control of the House will be waged in large part in the suburbs, rural districts in Southern Illinois, Iowa, Arkansas and Missouri could prove important. And control of the Senate could come down to Republican efforts to unseat Democrats in North Dakota, Indiana, Missouri and Montana — all states staring down the barrels of a trade war’s guns.”

“Intense seems to be the word of the moment in the NAFTA talks as trade negotiators from the U.S., Canada and Mexico continue work in coming weeks to try to reach a preliminary deal. But it’s looking less likely the three countries will be able to announce a deal in principle in time for the April 13-14 Summit of the Americas in Peru, which the leaders of the three NAFTA nations are set to attend” [Politico].



UPDATE “U.S Senator Bernie Sanders and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba Town Hall Meeting ‘Examining Economic Justice 50 Years Later’ (video) [News Missippi, Facebook]. So you can judge for yourselves. If there’s a transcript, I can’t find it. Sloppy!

UPDATE “Obama says Sanders’ supporters helped undermine Obamacare” [Reuters]. “‘In the ‘dissatisfied’ column are a whole bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters who wanted a single-payer plan,’ Obama said in the interview. ‘The problem is not that they think Obamacare is a failure. The problem is that they don’t think it went far enough and that it left too many people still uncovered,’ Obama said.” And this is a problem why, exactly?

2018 Midterms

“RBC recently sat down with political ad experts who made the case that, despite increased spending on digital, and to some extent cable as well, TV station spending is expected to increase more than 10% from the amount spent in the 2014 midterms” [247 Wall Street]. CBS, Comcast, Disney, Sinclair…

“The DCCC’s Long, Ugly History of Sabotaging Progressives” [In These Times]. “The DCCC’s funding structure incentivizes candidates who can cough up—or pull in—big sums. Much of the DCCC’s purse is filled by the dues Democratic House members pay every election cycle. A spreadsheet leaked to Buzzfeed in 2014 detailed some of these dues: $450,000 to $800,000 for House leadership and $200,000 to $500,000 for committee members and chief deputy whips. As a 2017 report from Issue One, an ethics watchdog group, put it, these dues act as “committee taxes,” forcing lawmakers to fundraise if they want to sit on or chair powerful committees, and making fundraising skills—not experience or knowledge—the most important qualification.” Seems rather like the sale of seats, to me.

“Running to the Middle Does Nothing”: Can the Bernies Catch the Blue Wave?” [Vanity Fair]. “”The Bernie crowd went all in against Ralph Northam last year in the Virginia governor Democratic primary—and lost,” says Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat. “And Northam, the more centrist candidate, went on to victory in the general in November, so it’s obvious the Democrats chose the most appropriate candidate. The progressive agenda should absolutely be respected as important to the future of our nation. But it remains to be seen how potent a force the left will be in primarying Democrats. And I think we’re close to being able to say that the swing to the left has been overhyped and is not electorally effective.”

“Notes on the State of Politics” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “On the Senate front, Democrats are defending 26 seats (including two independents who caucus with Democrats from Maine and Vermont) while the Republicans, even with the addition of a special election in Mississippi, are still only defending nine. In the gubernatorial races, it is the Republicans defending 26 seats while the Democrats are defending just nine. This imbalance, which disadvantages Democrats in the Senate and Republicans in the gubernatorial races, could lead to an election where Democrats make significant gains in governorships but struggle to make up any net ground in the Senate, where Republicans hold a razor-thin 51-49 majority.”

“Republicans Seize on Impeachment for Edge in 2018 Midterms” [New York Times]. “As Republican leaders scramble to stave off a Democratic wave or at least mitigate their party’s losses in November, a strategy is emerging on the right for how to energize conservatives and drive a wedge between the anti-Trump left and moderate voters: warn that Democrats will immediately move to impeach President Trump if they capture the House…. Democrats are divided on how to respond to the charge. Many top officials in the capital fear it is a political trap that would distract from their core message and possibly even boomerang to harm them in November. (Mr. Schumer himself has said he thinks impeachment is premature at the moment.) But other more progressive figures see impeachment as a rallying cry of their own to galvanize the left’s anti-Trump base.” Holy moly, this is breathtaking. The entire spectrum of liberal Democrat opinion got together behind the notion that Trump is a “Russian puppet” and yammered about it daily for a solid year. And if they’re right, Trump ought to be impeached. So, suddenly Democrats are saying that “Russia Russia Russia!” isn’t their “core message”? And the Times swallows that without a blink? (And note the persistent confusion between liberals and the left.)

WV-03: “West Va.’s 3rd District Is not a Simple ‘Trump Country’ Race” [Daily Yonder]. “A West Virginia congressional district that gave Donald Trump a 50-point margin of victory in 2016 seems an unlikely place for a competitive midterm race. But an open seat in the state’s rural Third District has generated a crowded primary ticket, with seven Republicans and four Democrats, including the immediate past chairman of the state Republican Party and a populist state senator who attracted national attention during the West Virginia teachers strike…. Four Democrats are also running, including charismatic populist Richard Ojeda, a U.S. Army veteran who unsuccessfully ran against Rahall in the 2014\ primary before winning election to the state Senate in 2016…. Ojeda’s no-holds-barred approach to politics, regular engagement on Facebook Live, outspoken support of teachers during the statewide #55strong strike and personal story have elevated his profile to the point where he’s been the focus of stories in national and international publications that include Politico Magazine, the Guardian, and the New Republic.” Hmm.

FL: “Florida Senate: Scott Announcement Puts Race in Toss Up Column” [Cook Political Report]. “In one of the most anticipated announcements of the cycle, Republican Gov. Rick Scott confirmed today that he will challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November. Scott’s decision puts the contest into the Toss Up column….. Scott does have a number of strengths, not the least of which is his personal money and his willingness to spend it. He spent roughly $75 million on his first race and an estimated $22 million on his re-election bid. There is little doubt that he will spend heavily on the Senate race. Scott’s other asset is his discipline. He stays relentlessly on message. …. Nelson was the last Democrat elected statewide when he was re-elected in 2012. It doesn’t help that Nelson hasn’t had a competitive race since 2000. He won this open seat in 2000 with 51 percent; he was re-elected in 2006 with 60 percent and in 2012 with 55 percent.”

FL: “Rating Change: Florida Senate Shifts to Toss-up” [Inside Elections]. “Of course Democrats are confident in Nelson’s re-election. But this will be a race unlike any other that the senator has faced. Scott, who is personally wealthy, could not only invest tens of millions of dollars of his own money into the campaign, but also utilize national fundraising contacts as former chairman of the Republican Governors Association…. Nelson is a part of a Democratic class which had the good fortune to run in 2006, a great Democratic year, and 2012, when President Barack Obama had his re-election machine running full throttle…. Democrats probably have to re-elect Nelson to have a realistic chance at the majority. Re-electing all of their own senators and taking over Arizona and Nevada is the most viable path. If Democrats end up losing Florida, then they’d have to compensate by winning a more Republican state such as Tennessee, Texas, or Mississippi.”

New Cold War

“The Case and Curiosity Of Roger Stone” [Jonathon Turley]. “Even if Stone received early word of the Wikileaks release, it would not necessarily be a crime for Trump, his campaign, or Stone himself.” A very funny column from an unexpected source.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Rallying Nation” [WaPo]. “One in five Americans have protested in the streets or participated in political rallies since the beginning of 2016. Of those, 19 percent said they had never before joined a march or a political gathering.”

UPDATE “Outsourcing Our Struggle to Political Saviors” [Ghion Journal]. Well worth a read: “I woke way past midnight and realized that I left the little clothes that I had unattended. I rushed to the laundry room expecting my donated jeans and shirts to be strewn around the floor. To my greatest surprise, not only were my clothes not on the floor, someone had taken laundry out of the washer, put them in the dryer, neatly folded my clothes and put them in the corner with a note that read “God bless you” on top of them. This one solitary act of love did more for me than all the religious lectures I’ve been treated to in my life. To this day I don’t know who folded my clothes; an act of goodwill performed for the sake of the receiver instead soothing the ego of the giver changed the trajectory of my life. Change happens not in a big bang but in incremental acts that go unnoticed until a critical mass of people say enough to the status quo.” You lose until you win…

UPDATE Speaking of violating norms:

See also “On Mocking Dying Working Class White People.” I’m not used to hearing liberal Democrats openly call for the death of their opponents, but I suppose I’ll have to get used to it…

“The Perpetual Helldump” [Medium]. “Much less attention is paid to the “groundlings” of the process: the mixture of true believers and hard ideologues and enraged new converts and the bored and the NEETs and internet culture war veterans who actually do the retweeting, check the “new” section on subreddits for good material, and turn tricky political arguments into an easily digested tribal memes for the normies. Maybe some of these people are paid operatives, or Russian trolls, or what-have-you, but the process certainly doesn’t need them. Most will just be happy to be playing for the team.” Very interesting history of this important and little-known milieu.

“The Moscow Midterms” [FiveThirtyEight]. Deck: “How Russia could steal our next election.” Body: “While Americans are well-acquainted with Russian online trolls’ 2016 disinformation campaign, there’s a more insidious threat of Russian interference in the coming midterms. The Russians could hack our very election infrastructure, disenfranchising Americans and even altering the vote outcome in key states or districts. Election security experts have warned of it, but state election officials have largely played it down for fear of spooking the public. We still might not know the extent to which state election infrastructure was compromised in 2016, nor how compromised it will be in 2018.” There’s a very simple litmus test for good faith on in articles like this: Does the author support hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public? If they don’t, all you have is “security experts” talking their book. As here. Points for “Moscow Midterms,” though. That might even go viral [gags].

“Secretive Kansas Starts to Open Up” [Governing]. “It would be hard to find an American government more secretive than the one in Kansas. More than 90 percent of the bills that become law are introduced by anonymous sponsors, while administrative agencies, as a matter of policy, block many records from examination by the public or even lawmakers. Kansas is one of only four states that don’t require public notice of regular public meetings. It’s also one of two, along with Arkansas, that don’t require minutes to be kept at those meetings.” Amazing.

UPDATE More excellent PR from DSA:

Concrete material benefits…

Stats Watch

Employment Situation: “Weather Adjusted Employment” [Calculated Risk]. “After the employment report is released, the San Francisco Fed has a model that shows weather adjusted employment. See: Weather-Adjusted Employment Change…. The San Francisco Fed estimates weather reduced March employment by about 100,000 jobs.”

Employment Situation: “The March Jobs Numbers Show the Economy Is Sound, but Far From Invincible” [New York Times]. “This report wasn’t as bad as the headline numbers might suggest, but it does take a bit of the shine off the idea that the economy in 2018 is in some period of extraordinary growth. The soft numbers are evidence that the United States is not in some radically different economic position than it has been for the last several years. Rather, there has been gradual improvement underway for many years that continues apace.”

Commodities: “U.S. coal shipments, which have grown to account for some 16% of the global export market, had been tipped to fall in 2018 as Australian exports recovered. But Macquarie analysts now say cuts to Aurizon rail routes could push U.S. exports up to some 60 million tons, their highest in about six years” [Wall Street Journal].

Retail: “Questions over internet sales taxes have hovered in Washington for several years without congressional action. Amazon says it collects sales taxes on its own inventory in all 45 states that have this type of tax and has voluntarily started collecting taxes in some municipalities. Still, many small retailers on Amazon’s marketplace don’t collect sales taxes outside of the states where they are based. Any changes to the broader national rules on tax collections could be aimed at Amazon but also would hit those online sellers” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: “In Pennsylvania, drivers face criminal charges over unpaid toll bills” [Freight Waves]. Companies, not drivers. “In October 2016, PA turnpike published its list of two dozen companies that owe more than $20,000 each in unpaid tickets to the agency which alone accounts for over $1.5 million. This includes one company from New Jersey, which has racked up an astonishing $678,000 in unpaid bills on more than 7,600 trips on the Pennsylvania highways…. Along with these top offenders, a lot of other companies have repeatedly been violating the toll gates, consciously driving their vehicles past the turnpike’s cashless E-ZPass lanes without a transponder in place for payment. … This has led to a massive surge in unpaid bills, which over the past three years has stacked up to nearly $18 million in debt…. The authorities contend that going cashless helps drivers as it does not require them to stop or slow down at toll kiosks, but on the flip side, poses a problem of toll collection from serial offenders.”

Shipping: “Logistics companies are boosting payrolls almost as fast as companies are shipping goods. Truckers added 6,700 workers last month, giving the sector its strongest quarterly job growth since 2012” [Wall Street Journal]. “The payroll gains are part of broader moves by transportation operators to shore up capacity in line with growing shipping demand. The Cass Freight Index measuring U.S. domestic road and rail shipping jumped 11.4% in February and the index for freight spending grew at an even faster rate, signaling that companies are paying more to rush goods to markets. Broader national hiring wasn’t as strong, with just 103,000 jobs added in March. But that still signals a growing economy, and should be enough to keep shipments and transport payrolls growing this spring.”

Shipping: “The Robots are Coming to the Warehouse Dock” [Logistics Management]. “The dock presents some interesting complexities that aren’t necessarily present on the warehouse or DC floor, where automation has been around for years and only getting more advanced and prevalent every year. ‘The dock is a dynamic place that requires more than just a fulfillment robot that can traverse the [Distribution Center (DC)] floor,’ [John Santagate, IDC’s service robotics research director] points out. ‘On the dock, robots have to be able to pick up pallets, cases, or boxes and then put them on some sort of conveyance system that pulls them off the truck. That’s a lot more complex than other use cases.'” Hence, exoskeletons. ‘Made by companies like Sarcos Robotics, which plans to introduce a powered industrial exoskeleton suit in 2019, these advanced products will help reduce the number of workplace injuries and accidents that cost U.S. employers more than $60 billion annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).”

Infrastructure: “Pothole crushing invention is game-changer: What it teaches us” [Des Moines Register]. “Nuisances of epic proportion, potholes are a global problem. About $3 billion is wasted annually in the U.S. repairing pothole damage to vehicles. Great Britain estimates the cost to repair all potholes in the country would exceed $20 billion. More than 3,000 people are killed each year in India in pothole-related accidents. Despite the painful annoyance, gigantic costs, and even loss of life, pothole repair technology has been about as frustrating as the potholes themselves. Road crews toil away, pouring asphalt into broken concrete, which is an expensive and a temporary solution at best. Thankfully, an architecture and technology firm in Istanbul, Turkey, named Dahir Insaat has a far more innovative approach. Their invention is a fully contained pothole-crushing powerhouse. The large truck uses artificial intelligence, Internet-enabled sensors, machine learning and advanced robotics to stamp out potholes like garden flies.”

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “Bad Omen for Markets From First Signs of Yield Curve Inversion” [Bloomberg]. “The forward curve of a closely watched proxy for the Federal Reserve’s policy rate has slightly inverted, signaling investors are either pricing in a mistake from central bankers or end-of-cycle dynamics, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co. The inversion of the one-month U.S. overnight indexed swap rate implies some expectation of a lower Fed policy rate after the first quarter of 2020, the bank’s strategists including Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou, wrote in a note Friday.”

Five Horsemen: “All five horsemen are bouncing Monday morning after Friday’s shellacking” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (Haygood writes, Thursday evening: “Can’t update tomorrow, but here are Five Horsemen as of 7 pm tonight, along with the regular Mania-panic index based on today’s closing values”)

Five Horsemen Apr 9 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index backpedaled to 30 (worry) as stocks sank on Friday” [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 6 2018

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183.

Facebook Fracas

“Apple, Amazon and Google Also Are Bracing for Privacy Regulations” [Wall Street Journal]. These companies would far rather talk about privacy than concentration. “Monopoly” is such an ugly word…

“Facebook suspends another data analytics firm after CNBC discovers it was using tactics like Cambridge Analytica” [CNBC]. “Facebook is suspending a data analytics firm called CubeYou from the platform after CNBC notified the company that CubeYou was collecting information about users through quizzes. CubeYou misleadingly labeled its quizzes “for non-profit academic research,” then shared user information with marketers. The scenario is eerily similar to how Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized access to data from as many as 87 million Facebook user accounts to target political marketing.”

“Mark Zuckerberg Says He’s Not Resigning” [The Atlantic]. Check the picture: Zuckerberg is up there with Bill Clinton, in the Famous Lip-Biters rankings. “[Facebook] is also opening a new academic research program, as it searches for outside scrutiny from experts…. Under that program, the company will give a committee of steering academics unprecedented access to Facebook—sitting side by side with their data scientists, a spokesman told me—and identify major research questions about the social network…. Both the committee of academics and their research grants will be funded by a group of independent foundations, including the Hewlett Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Charles Koch Foundation.” The Charles Koch Foundation. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

“Mark Zuckerberg says the world is much more divided than he ever expected” [World Economic Forum]. Another photo of Zuckerberg biting his lip. “There are ‘lots of different issues and things that help bind people together,’ Zuckerberg said, including a well-functioning economy and the jobs it provides. To help boost economic opportunity around the world, he said, Facebook is working to spread the internet — and the opportunity for new jobs and connections it brings — to underserved communities. Of course, that would also lead to more new Facebook users.”

UPDATE “Facebook’s Targeting System Can Divide Us on More Than Just Advertising” [ACLU]. “Facebook had grouped users as white, Black, or Latino based on what they had clicked, and this targeting had allowed the movie ‘Straight Outta Compton’ to be marketed as two completely different films. For Black audiences, it was a deeply political biopic about the members of N.W.A. and their music, framed by contemporary reflections from Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. For white audiences, it was a scripted drama about gangsters, guns, and cops that barely mentioned the names of its real-life characters. From the perspective of Universal Pictures, this dual marketing had been wildly successful. ‘Straight Outta Compton’ earned over $160 million at the U.S. box office. When we saw this news in 2016, it immediately raised alarm bells about the effect of such categories on civil rights.”

Our Famously Free Press

“”Thank God you’re not in newspapers”: Local TV is doing way better than you’d think, a new report suggests” [Nieman Labs]. ” Television stations’ websites are the dominant local news source in many smaller markets, [The Knight Foundation] found: “Of the 22 markets initially analyzed (excluding New York City and Washington, DC with its three national newspapers), newspaper websites came out on top in 14 of the markets, and television websites came out on top in eight. Of the 37 smaller markets analyzed, numbers 25 to 205, television websites came out on top in 23, newspapers came out on top in 13, and radio came out first in one.”

“Why The New York Times Tesla Model 3 Review Is Nonsense” [The Drive]. “When the Times is foolish enough to conflate “driverless”, “self-driving”, “semi-autonomous” and “semi-driverless”, people who don’t know better might start believing Tesla Autopilot actually is an autonomous system. Despite a flurry of Twitter criticism, the New York Times didn’t resolve its total lack of automotive expertise, it doubled down with the most irresponsible and inaccurate Tesla Autopilot article yet from a mainstream publication, ‘With Tesla in a Danger Zone, Can Model 3 Carry It to Safety?'” The Tmies completely butchers Tesla’s so-called “Autopilot” feature…

Guillotine Watch

Welcome to Versailles:

Class Warfare

“West Virginia Teachers Learned from 1970s Miners” [Labor Notes]. “But the West Virginia labor history I remember was more recent: the decade-long wave of wildcat strikes in the 1970s and the victories of the Miners for Democracy. That’s part of the teachers’ heritage, too as near to some as a retired dad, if he survived the Black Lung. In fact, those no-holds-barred wildcats, against both the coal bosses and utterly corrupt—even murderous—union leaders were a big part of the reason Labor Notes was founded, in 1979. Through the 1970s miners kept on with thousands of wildcat strikes, spread through ‘stranger picketing.’ It was simple: if you went to work in the morning and there was a picket line of miners there, even folks you’d never met, you didn’t cross… .These strikes were often provoked by safety hazards—caused by mechanization and speedup—and miners didn’t have time to wait for the grievance procedure. In one big wildcat in 1975, half the UMW’s members were on strike. In 1977, wildcats added up to 2.5 million worker days.” Touchingly, Bill and Hillary crossed a picket line on their first date, in 1971.

“Outside Disneyland, a Reminder for Governments to Be Careful What They Wish for” [Governing]. “Every one-company town struggles with how to negotiate the needs and wants of the local economy’s 800-pound gorilla. In Anaheim, that struggle boils down to one simple question: Can a city built around the Magic Kingdom ever say no to the demands of the Mouse?”

“Cybernetic History in Das Netz” [Continental Drift]. “Das Netz provides a filmic approach to the “ontology of the enemy” that the historian of technology, Peter Galison, has identified at the origins of cybernetics.13 By focusing on the German bombers of the Battle of Britain and the response they elicited from Norbert Weiner, the film lets us see and feel how the victors of World War II internalized the aggressive science that informed the Nazi war machine. This rarely explored psychic drama could have been the subject of the entire documentary: the exchange of a deadly will to power between the two contenders for world hegemony.14 What both Dammbeck and Galison suggest is that the characteristic relations of this dialectical combat have been inscribed into the very circuits of cybernetic devices. But the film takes one step further than this, by analyzing the cultural and political articulations of postwar economic liberalism and thereby leading us onward to the more intricate and disorienting predicaments of the present. It shows how a command-and-control logic focused on the ontology of the enemy was transformed into its seeming opposite: the “open systems” of today’s supposedly borderless world society.” Dense, but very very interesting, especially for those of us who read Bateson back in the 70s.

News of The Wired

“The Crystals That May Have Helped Vikings Navigate Northern Seas” [New York Times]. “If the Vikings oriented their ship with calcite, cordierite or tourmaline at least every three hours, the model showed, they had a 92 to 100 percent chance of getting within sight of Greenland. These are “surprisingly large success rates” for navigating in overcast conditions, the authors noted. The key to sunstone navigation is polarization, a process that filters light rays so they can only move in one plane. Sunlight starts out oscillating in multiple planes, but atmospheric particles create concentric rings of polarized light around the sun, even on cloudy days. Though some animals, like ants and crickets, can detect these patterns, polarization is practically indiscernible to the naked human eye…. The study’s authors hope to settle the score with the ultimate test: a round-trip voyage between Norway and Greenland, navigated by sun compass and sunstones.”

“Hidden medical text read for the first time in a thousand years” [Phys.org]. “To recycle the limited material available for parchment, 11th-century scribes scrubbed and replaced the original text with layers of calcium, a rudimentary form of white-out, and then wrote a book of psalms on top of the original text. Earlier studies had revealed traces of the text beneath the hymns, but it was difficult to read the original translation of Galen – both texts were written in similar ink and the underlying text had been well-scrubbed.”

“For decades, Western culture touted self-esteem. It got the most important thing wrong” [Quartz]. “As research from Angela Duckworth suggests, struggling builds character. Failure breeds wisdom and maturity. We need to fail and experience discomfort, and over time, build a track record of demonstrated success. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can perform in front of a crowd or run a marathon or ask a person out on a date, it’s a lot easier to have confidence the next time you face a big challenge.”

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

LR writes: “Taken by my daughter in law at midday at the end of winter. The colors were quite remarkable and you can see the effect of the minimal snowpack in the Sierra mountain range.”

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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. Kokuanani

    Re Scott running for the Senate in FL: Lambert, it appears you too “stay relentlessly on message,” since you said the same thing twice in your write-up.

    Just a “hi” from one of your many fans.

  2. Summer

    Re: For decades, Western culture touted self-esteem. It got the most important thing wrong” [Quartz].

    Reminds me of this quote:

    “People pay to see others believe in themselves. The better and more convincing the performance, the more an audience can identify with the exterior involved in such an expenditure of energy. A performer… will be paid for being sexually uncontrolled, but will still be at the mercy of… the way the media shapes identity. How long can someone continue to exert intensity before it becomes mannered and dishonest?”

    – Kim Gordon, 1983

    1. Yves Smith

      Huh? That Quartz quote is barmy.

      Western culture is full of literature on hubris. Until recently, Western was also heavily influenced by Christianity. Pride is one of the seven deadly sins.

      When I was a kid, children were taught to be seen and not heard, to shut up at the table when adults were speaking, and were regularly spanked.

      This self esteem fetish is a creation of modern American parenting and is a generation to a generation and a half old. To describe it as a long-standing feature of Western culture reflects profound ignorance or worse, agnotology.

      1. Summer

        I have no idea how you thought the quote was a celebration of “hubris.”
        The quote wasn’t from Quartz (if that’s what you meant)…it was from an interview.
        And it is not promoting hubris. It’s posing doubt about the emphasis on confidence as the ultimate measure of performance.

        “How long can someone continue to exert intensity before it becomes mannered and dishonest?”

        1. Yves Smith

          Hubris is self esteem taken too far. I don’t see why that is hard to understand. Mythology and literature treat people with excessive ego harshly.

          Before the Industrial Revolution, your place in society was determined by birth. Aristos had no need for “self esteem” because they had a secure place.

          And please tell me where self esteem was ever encouraged in schooling or parenting save in America in the last 30 years?

          1. Summer

            I just don’t understand your interpretation of the quote from Gordon.
            It’s not about teaching kids self-esteem.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Re modern American parenting: Where did those millions of people who spawned little humans learn their “parenting” style, the one linked to the sh@t educator stuff that gives participation awards and self-esteem gold stars and markers to every single kid (except for the exceptions, up and down the scale of “exceptional” and yes, I know the whole thing is complicated and in significant measure the product of Bernays sauce and manufactured demand and consent shoved down our gluttonous throats by all the slicks and shysters and con artists and that tiny percentage of the planet’s population that owns darn near everything and wants, as posted recently, to dumb us all down, generation by generation, so we are “better fitted for serfdom”?)

        Just a run-on random question by one who still hopes that our species is not just a one-off, about to light the fuse on a fistful of dynamite sticks that we have so carefully developed and marketed and apparently are curious about what would happen if…

        1. Summer

          “Just a run-on random question by one who still hopes that our species is not just a one-off, about to light the fuse on a fistful of dynamite sticks that we have so carefully developed and marketed and apparently are curious about what would happen if…”

          True, we don’t have to do ourselves in.
          But I’ve never heard of a forever species.

            1. Summer

              Yes, but isn’t it evolution of a species, not evolution out of a species?
              Talking about species, not life in general.

                1. c_heale

                  Humans/apes didn’t evolve from monkeys. Both have a common ancestor. This common ancestor died out because humans/apes and monkeys both had better adaptations to the environment they lived in, than the common ancestor.

                2. Procopius

                  “If humans/apes evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?”

                  That’s easy. Humans/apes didn’t evolve from monkeys. Humans, apes, and monkeys evolved from a common ancestor, which no longer exists. Only ignorant people, demagogues, and charlatans say that people evolved from monkeys.

                3. blennylips

                  Thank you both, c_heale & Procopius, of course you are right.

                  After Summer’s specious species spiels, I thought a little reflection was in order. But my main point was about Categorical Thinking.

            2. Summer

              True, but I’ve never heard of evolving into another species either.
              Talking about species and not life in general.
              Can other life forms pop up that carry on? Absolutely.

              1. JBird

                (Some rambling coming up)

                This worrying about the future extinction of our species seems premature. Even pessimistic. :-)

                Our current civilization? Maybe not. Who knows?

                Evolving or extincting as a species? About that:

                We are more like a bush which sometimes merge rather than a tree. Humans have evolved into multiple species often living at the same time often also using tools and fire; tool use goes back several million years and fire at least a million plus. The last fellow (sub?)species the Neanderthals disappeared no further back than forty thousand years ago and very likely sooner.

                And let’s not get into the interbreeding that appears to have happened. Or that the Neanderthals probably buried their dead and did cave painting. This situation of single species of ours likely arose around 40-25 thousand years ago and for the past several million years at least there wasn’t. A single species that is.

      3. clinical wasteman

        self-esteem=consent to the conditions that compose the self, but only a relatively recent way of extorting that consent. Late-stage degraded theology. Even if ultimate purpose is similar in broadest sense, turn-of-the21st-century methods can’t be projected backawards

        Kim G. is speaking/writing in 1983 here, i.e. 5 years or so before anything like rockstardom (though at peak magnificence for Sonic Youth), so her comment is likely to be an unusually thoughtful answer to a music/artworld fanzine-type question, rather than the sort of generic profundity the Guardian et al occasionally ask her for today.

    2. Geo

      Sort of off topic but: Kim Gordon is a national treasure and a personal hero of mine.

      Back on topic: In a talk years ago about “The Death of the Avante Garde” William Deresewicz was discussing how the social media age and online consumer trends snuff out experimental and challenging art (something Gordon has been at the forefront of for decades). He summed it up by saying, “An artist by their nature is full of doubt and ends every thought with a question mark, whereas, a salesman by their nature is full of confidence and ends every thought with an exclamation point,” then asking, “When artists are made to be their own agents, their own salespersons, how can they still create art when it is the sale they are focused on?”

      To me, as an artist (filmmaker), that is something I grapple with often. I feel an artist that has become confident in their work should retire because it is when we doubt ourselves that we are driven to explore deeper, to improve, and to find new ways to communicate. Martin Scorsese replied when asked why he waited so long to make his recent film “Silence” by saying, “I wasn’t ready to make that film until now”. Even with his vast experience and accolades he doubts himself which is probably why at his age he still makes films that put the youngsters to shame. Compare his work to someone like Christopher Nolan who started off with a truly unique voice but has fallen in love with his own brand of filmmaking so much that his last many films have been more an exercise in narrative deconstruction on a grand scale than films with any memorable qualities beyond epic-ness. Or, in the case of musicians, the uncountable bands that had breakout albums then lost that sense of discovery and failed to find inspiring or vital ideas to follow up with and put out a number of forgettable albums after that.

      So, in short, learning to doubt, being willing to fail, and embracing uncertainty are essential to the creative spirit.

      1. Oregoncharles

        That’s what agents, galleries, and editors are for; but you still have to sell yourself to said agent, etc.

        In my limited experience, the two functions are inextricable; but then, I wasn’t very successful as an artist.

      2. Third Time Lucky

        And that’s why artistic / estetic individual have very limited roles in this society.

        Grit … Duckworth using West Point, particularly modern West Point, probably demonstrate psychopath who will do or say anything have greater success at getting out. That’s the kind of grit “western” capitalism selects for.

        1. Summer

          Individually, every role has it limits.
          But why should everyone be limited to one role in life?

  3. allan

    “The large truck uses artificial intelligence, Internet-enabled sensors, machine learning and advanced robotics to stamp out potholes like garden flies.”

    Big if true. Sadly, rather than a late April Fool’s joke, it appears to be garden-variety vaporware.

  4. dcblogger

    going to repeat what I said in this morning’s links because it is important to understand that the 2017 Virginia Gubernatorial race was a great victory for women’s reproductive rights:

    The Vanity Fair article has a quote to the effect that the Bernie people went all out against Ralph Northam and lost, thus showing a centrist candidate is stronger. I see it differently.
    Tom Perriello, the candidate Bernie endorsed, had 3 strikes against him, he was a one term congressman who lost reelection, he voted against banning assaut rifles, and he voted for the Stupak amendment (and extreme anti-abortion measure.)
    Northam was Lt Gov, so people knew that he was capable of winning a statewide race, they had doubts about Perriello. Perriello said that he regretted his votes on guns and the Stupak amendment and that he had learned his lesson, but many people did not believe him.
    Northam had taken the lead on defeating an anti-abortion bill while a state senator, and that made him a hero to many Virginia women. So I do not see that primary as who was a centrist. But that is just me.

    1. Fred1

      Sorry for reposting this comment, which I had initially posted in the Links comment thread at 2:11 PM.

      Re: Periello v. Northam

      Periello is 43 and his primary challenge against Northam was his first state-wide race. Further Sanders v. Clinton can be viewed as a proof of concept, as to how an Establishment D can be attacked from the Left. Sanders had more to do with Clinton’s defeat than any other cause, real or imagined.

      Periello worked very hard for Northam in the general election. He now has his own state-wide organization and a fair amount of good will from the Establishment Ds for being a team player during the general election. It wouldn’t have surprised me if he had primaried Kaine. But he didn’t.

      Warner is up for re-election in 2020, and barely beat Gillespie in 2014. So if Periello wants to run again, 2020 against Warner would be good opportunity to try out the Sanders v. Clinton proof of concept.

      That being said, we are in the current predicament as a result of at least 40 years of bi-partisan BS. It will take at least that long to unwind even some of the damage. If Sanders has won in 2016, nothing would have changed. It would be the same if he were to win in 2020. He would have no support from the congressional Ds and no support from the career bureaucracy. The only short-term benefit is that it might not get any worse. But a great long-term benefit would be that his policies, such as a genuine single payer, would be permanently thrust into the Overton Window, which can then be run on in the future by people such as Periello.

      The Establishment Ds absolutely want single payer and other universal concrete material benefits to be forgotten. Keeping them front and center is the public’s eye is the best that can be hoped for from any Sanders candidacy(s).

      Too many people expect candidates (and office holders) to change things immediately, and if they don’t or can’t, they are discarded as failures. Also opponents like to exploit this by pointing out the very small number of electoral successes of Sanders’ endorsed candidates. So what?

      The people responsible for the current state of affairs control all of the institutional levers of power, have gazillions of money, and the MSM will continue to support them. If giving up is not an option, then the only way forward is to view this as a decades long project

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        This mantra that Bernie Sanders had more to do with Clinton’s defeat than any other factor is the biggest piece of [family blog] ever produced, and it needs to be shot down every time someone resurrects it.

        FACT: 80% of the people who voted for Bernie in the primaries did as requested and voted for Clinton.

        FACT: Clinton chose to spend her time and money preaching to her choir, and had nothing to offer people who had just lived through another 8 years of being screwed over by New Democrat corporate employees other than “It’s my time.”

        FACT: the voters who stayed home and refused to choose the lesser of two evils were overwhelmingly the younger generations, most of whom do not identify as Democrat but rather as independent. They had been galvanized by Bernie Sanders, and when it was made public he had been deliberately sabotaged, they did what anyone with a sense of integrity might have chosen to do, which was to refuse to reward the perpetrator.

        I know all of this is known here, but again—if that nonsense that Clinton’s loss is all Bernie Sanders’s fault isn’t called out every time it rears its zombie head, it will not only continue to feed the delusions of the Clinton Cult but will take on the same kind of “truth” as “Russia! Russia! Russia!”

        Oh, and about the “potential Russian interference” in this year’s elections? Isn’t it interesting how none of those propaganda pieces ever mentions the actual, proven interference in the last one by both establishment parties? Interference which not only continues as we speak but is now under the “surveillance” of the Department of Homeland Security? Which last point also seems to go unmentioned?

        1. Jason Boxman

          I agree, it’s always worth challenging that nonsense. The Democrat Establishment likes to pretend that there’s a static box of votes, and no particular candidate could possibly expand that box. In that worldview, a third party candidate is always necessarily a spoiler, even if reality is completely different.

          I only wish I could get some of what they’re smoking. Living life in blissful ignorance, provided you’ve got a fat wallet, must be grand indeed.

          1. Robert Hahl

            Reminds me of how Ralph Nader supposedly cost Al Gore the election, even though Gore managed to loose his home state of TN. How bad a candidate do you have to be to do that? Has it ever happened before or since to a major party candidate? Trick question. It’s impossible to say what Hillary’s home state is.

            1. Geo

              Trump lost NY by a landslide if I’m not mistaken. Of course, Clinton was a NY rep for a number of years so that sort of cancels it out.

            2. Pat

              While she claimed a couple of states the fact that the Clintons’ home was in Westchester, NY and she had spent eight years as the Senator from NY pretty much made her from NY.

              So with both major candidates from NY barring a third party win one of them was going to lose their home state.

            3. Ed Miller

              Ross Perot in 1992 received 18.9% of the vote. Has everyone forgotten how Bill Clinton won?

              1. Biph

                There is nothing to support that Perot cost Bush the election.
                Bush would’ve needed something like a 20 point edge among all Perot voters to have beaten Clinton in the popular vote, the only numbers I have seen were from Gallup and showed 42% of Perot voters said they would’ve voted Bush, 36% would’ve voted Clinton and the rest would’ve voted 3rd party or not voted if Perot wasn’t running.

            4. chuck roast

              Speaking of Ralph…
              I believe that the Dupont Circle Address pictured by Washingtonian was Nader’s Raiders HQ for many years. It was gutted about 10-12 years ago and it famously filled many a dumpster with a torrent of manila folders.
              A few blocks west is a small marker where Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffett were blown up by Pinochet. And right across the street is the Riggs Bank where Pinochet hid his dumpster full of cash.
              See…it all connects!

            5. ambrit

              “It’s impossible to say what Hillarys’ home state is.”
              That might be so, but, her present ‘state’ looks eerily like denial.

        2. Fred1

          My observation that Sanders was the primary cause of Clinton’s defeat was a small part of my comment. Resistance Twitter seems to think so. They also think that his goal is to destroy the D party. Whether this is true or not is immaterial to my comment, which was that his candidacy demonstrated that candidates can effectively run from the left against an Establishment D and that someone like Periello can too.

          Sanders himself has never claimed this which I think is the correct decision regardless of what anyone else may think. But as a matter of political advocacy by his supporters, I see no reason why they should not claim this when directly discussing the party’s future direction with Establishment D supporters. It’s different if claimed by a Sanders supporter than if claimed by an Establishment D supporter, because it’s clarifying and leaves no doubt as to Sanders supporters’ future intentions.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That perception among Clinton supporters could be troublesome.

            If they perceive that Sanders caused her defeat, will they revenge her by causing his defeat in the future?

            Clinton sought to unite the party before losing to Trump. How united will it be the next time?

            1. nippersmom

              How exactly did Clinton seek to unite the Party? By ignoring areas that weren’t her preferred demographic (that is, that weren’t relatively affluent suburban or urban areas)? By continuing to denigrate the actual left and dismissing any and all policy goals important to us? The only attempts I saw to “unify” were of the TINA variety.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                She tried the old-fashioned way – she got Sanders to endorse her and to campaign for her.

            2. Fred1

              Uniting the party requires a good faith accommodation on policy. So far there has been no movement by Establishment Ds towards any universal concrete material benefits, unless Medicare X can be considered such. Reaching such an accommodation should be easy unless there is no intention to do so

              Sanders is talking past the D establishment directly to the voters.

              Yes the Establishment Ds may extract revenge. Buy if one views this as a decade long project so what? Moreover their doing so will be even further clarifying by demonstrating the need for turning the Ds into a rump party. Good riddance.

          2. RiverBoatGrambler

            Clinton voters are still very heavily invested in the narrative that Sanders single-handedly cost Clinton the race. As long as they can keep heaping blame on everyone else they’ll never have to admit that their chosen “inevitable” “pragmatic” “realistic” candidate lost the presidency to a racist game show host. Surely the pragmatic centrists are blameless, despite their track record of objective failures holding seats in 2010 and 2014. It was Sanders fault! And Russia! And everyone is racist.

            I comment on a couple other blogs with a decidedly “centrist” bent and something as mild as pointing out that the vast majority of Sanders voters came out for Clinton is absolutely intolerable to these people. I’ve been called all manner of schoolyard names, I’ve been told I’m a liar when I say I voted for Clinton in the general, I’ve been called a Russian stooge, all for pointing out a simple fact or (heaven forbid) claiming that Hillary’s own unforced errors played a significant role in her defeat.

            These people have learned nothing. They mock Republicans who believe that “conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed” but that is exactly the standard they hold their failed electoral strategies to.

          3. johnnygl

            Sanders didn’t cost Clinton the race.

            How Clinton chose to handle the Sanders challenge may very well have cost her the race.

            Clintonite-resistence type would be more convincing if they were more introspective and less bitter.

            There’s plenty of sanders supporters that critique bernie. Not so many clintonites that critique clinton.

          4. drumlin woodchuckles

            If the “Sanders was the principle cause of Clinton’s defeat” concept is accurate and reality-based, then we should go ahead and think it. If that concept is inaccurate and faith-based, then we should not go ahead and think it. Analysis should be reality-based.

            I myself don’t see any reason to think that Sanders’ fighting through the primaries was any cause at all for Clinton’s defeat. A major cause for Clinton losing some votes in several midwestern states was her promise to put Bill in charge of the “economic recovery” when she became President. People here have not forgotten Bill’s NAFTA, his WTO-Membership-For-America, or his MFN status for China. When Clinton made that promise, she was promising more Trade Treason Agreements. It is not a surprise that some Midwesterners turned against her as the Social Class Enemy of the Midwest which she clearly was.

        3. perpetualWAR

          The reason Clinton lost was because she is a [family blog].

        4. flora

          an aside:

          Oh, and about the “potential Russian interference” in this year’s elections?

          When the Dem estab has no policies on offer that would improve the economic condition of the 90% they resort to scaring us with “monsters”, er, russians russians russians.

    2. curlydan

      I changed a few words in Rep. Jeffries’ quote from the article:
      “The Bernie crowd went all in against _Hillary Clinton_ last year in the Democratic primary—and lost,” says Congressman Hakeem Jeffries, a New York Democrat. “And _Clinton_, the more centrist candidate, went on to _lose_ in the general in November, so it’s obvious the Democrats chose the most appropriate candidate.” Sometime ya win, and sometime ya lose.

  5. Carolinian

    The Russians could hack our very election infrastructure, disenfranchising Americans and even altering the vote outcome in key states or districts

    The assumption behind the scare headline seems to be that the US is full of Manchurian Candidate wannabes who are just waiting for Putin to hack the election so they can “play a little solitaire.” Given recent events perhaps we should be more worried about MI-6 hacking the election and then saying it was the Russians. See everybody can play that game. It would be irresponsible not to speculate as Noonan would say.

    1. Synoia

      The Russians could hack our very election infrastructure, disenfranchising Americans and even altering the vote outcome in key states or districts.

      Typo Alert:

      The Russians Republicans could hack our very election infrastructure, disenfranchising Americans and even altering the vote outcome in key states or districts

      1. Third Time Lucky

        The Russians Republicans could ….

        The one party state oligarchy already has

  6. clarky90

    Nasim Aghdam’s Motive Was Youtube Censorship


    What Google says and what Google does, are not the same. They are silencing the “Left” as well as the “Right”. The goal, IMO, is compliant MASS of docile serfs, irrespective of their World View (Conservative or Progressive).

    When the story of the YouTube shootings emerged, it was presented as the act of a white, male Nazi; then as a white woman shooting a faithless husband/lover; then…..

    Well, nothing. Silence. Who would want to know about an Iranian, woman, refugee, Vegan, animal rights campaigner whose YouTube channel had been demonetized?

    This is not an interesting story (sarc), so we will not speak of her.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And do you notice how little YouTube commentary there is on this incident?

      OTOH, here we are on this blog, where the commentariat can comment away. Thanks, Yves, Lambert, and Jeri-Lynn!

      1. clarky90

        Yes to that. I cherish the actual (not fake) diversity of opinion, life experience, age, circumstances and geography of the NC commentariat.

        The creators and maintainers of this site are stand-out, historic figures, imo.

        1. Procopius

          What I most cherish here is the lack of childish invective. I suppose that’s thanks to the labors of the moderators, for which I am most grateful, but maybe part of it is due to the maturity of the commenters. There are a couple of blogs I read regularly which I’m getting very weary of because of the number of first or second-grade level childish names called. Seriously, I am not shocked to see, “Well, you’re nothing but a big poopy-head.” I guess I really should be hunting for alternatives.

  7. Matthew G. Saroff

    The New York Times misses the point in their article on impeachment.

    It’s not about gaining a political or a fund raising advantage, it’s about goading Democratic leadership into unilaterally declaring impeachment is off the table, as Pelosi did in 2006.

    My guess is that it will work, because it’s hard to underestimate the cravenness of the Democratic leadership.

  8. Jim Haygood

    This is how we roll:

    The U.S. budget deficit will surpass $1 trillion by 2020, two years sooner than previously estimated, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Deficits were only set to surpass the trillion-dollar level in fiscal 2022 under CBO’s report last June

    The U.S. cumulative deficit — taking into account the new tax and spending legislation — will be $11.7 trillion from 2018 to 2027.


    A boldface asterisk applies to the “trillion dollar deficit by 2020” — namely, no recession. With the Treasury yield curve only half a percent from inversion, “no recession” is not a given. In fact, a recession is rather likely. And it would easily drive the annual deficit to $2.5 trillion.

    As for debt, add $11.7 trillion to the current $21 trillion and it equals $33 trillion by 2027 — again, assuming no recession. If we all pull together, can-do Americans could hit that target by 2024, three years early.

    Were he running for Congress (fat chance!), ol’ Jim would beard the R party all the livelong day for “selling our children down the river into medieval debt slavery with trillion dollar deficits forever,” banging his shoe on the podium like Khrushchev for emphasis. “Cut them deficits … ya hear me?


    1. JTMcPhee

      I have it on very good authority that “Deficits don’t matter.” https://crooksandliars.com/jon-perr/reagan-proved-deficits-dont-matter And of course from all the discussion of MMT here, which makes it clear that for a sovereign nation with its own currency, the political and financial elites can “spend” until all the extractable resources that “money” and “wealth” are built and leveraged upon are exhausted. Or until, say, a nuclear exchange of any significant magnitude, or all the ice sliding off Greenland and the Antarctic continent in a marvelous-to-behold-from-a-satellite-viewpoint rush…

      1. Synoia

        And of course from all the discussion of MMT here, which makes it clear that for a sovereign nation with its own currency, the political and financial elites can “spend” until all the extractable resources that “money” and “wealth” are built and leveraged upon are exhausted.

        True if and only if is all you “debt” is denominated in your own currency. For example, If you are South Africa or Costa Rica good luck denominating your debt in Rand or Local $.

        Then the country is forced to manage its trade debt by borrowing USD, or letting Mr Market set the value of its money (aka Inflation or hyperinflation).

        The other alternative, which currently has no world wide unified plan, is for all countries to become exporters and run an export balance of trade surplus.

        That is: 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 … = 0:

        Perhaps we could get Mr Hudson, in a guest appearance, to explain how any country but the US could implement MMT.

    2. Synoia

      If we cut the biggest welfare recipient on the planet, the US Military, we’d hit a depression in seconds.

      The US is already Live testing MMT. The problem is there is a Chip of China in the US’ soup bowl.

      1. bob


        MMT isn’t prescriptive. It is descriptive, Nothing has to be implemented to ‘use’ it.

        It’s not ‘new’ either-


        Nothing gets monetarists screaming HYPERINFLATION! faster than suggesting that money isn’t divined from the Holy, Natural Law, and that the people who use it might have some say over how it is used.

        “HERESY! Burn him at the stake before HYPERINFLATION gets our daughters pregnant and burns our villages to the ground!”

        1. Wukchumni

          You can’t have hyperinflation without a physical host, what we’re experiencing now is cyberinflation, something nobody’s ever seen, so they don’t know what to look for.

  9. John k

    Russians could hack the midterms…
    just thinking out loud here… russians wouldn’t be much interested in medterms, right? Presidential, sure, anybody but let’s confront Russia in Ukraine Hillary, but midterms?
    But wait… who is interested? Corps, of course, they’re already spending megabucks to keep progressives from power. Mic wants to keep peaceniks from power. Dsa wants to continue collecting and misusing data on us all.
    But Russia? Just how dumb do you think we are?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It worked on some people.

      From a few days ago (Sputnik International, April 5, 2018):

      False alarm triggers ‘Russians are coming’ war panic in northern Norway.

    2. Synoia

      Much less expensive to ship over a few thousand doses of Novochick, as complementary garnish on our prospective leaders’ massages, or salads.

  10. Anon

    Re: Russia Could Steal the Election

    You know, it’s baseless hogwash like this that really makes you appreciate how nuanced English can be. Could is the maybe of doing.

  11. Jason Boxman

    Nelson’s a hack. I’ll be writing in Grayson’s name. I can’t bring myself to vote for criminal Scott. He’s a control fraudster from before it was the hot ticket on Wall Street even.

  12. Summer


    Re: Facebook’s Other Critics: It’s Viral Stars (NY Times)
    “They say that the company’s recent decision to emphasize stories shared by friends and family as well as trusted news outlets — part of the company’s response to an epidemic of sensationalized clickbait and false news, and an attempt to foster what Mr. Zuckerberg has called “meaningful social interaction” — has hidden them from view. They argue that Facebook owes much of its growth to the kinds of entertainment they offer, and that users will spend less time on the social network if it’s not shown to them.”

    Why aren’t Facebook users able to sign up and have nothing prioritized for them by default? Why can’t they choose and adjust their feeds and flows as they see fit? And if they can, why don’t they? Is the function not transparently available and easy to access at a click?

  13. Geo

    “For decades, Western culture touted self-esteem. It got the most important thing wrong”

    My favorite way I’ve heard this issue explained was by Sir Kenneth Robinson when explaining why standardized testing and self-esteem based grading were detrimental to child development: “If you’re afraid to be wrong you’ll never have an original idea”.

  14. Lee

    See also “On Mocking Dying Working Class White People.” I’m not used to hearing liberal Democrats openly call for the death of their opponents, but I suppose I’ll have to get used to it…

    Lest we forget, from Daily Kos founder, Markos Moulitsas, after Trump victory:

    Be happy for coal miners losing their health insurance. They’re getting exactly what they voted for

    1. Geo

      After years of defending neoliberal policies at home and neocon wars abroad is it any wonder liberals have lost their grasp on any semblance of humanity? They defended the escalation/expansion of the Bush Doctrine under Obama, the rejection of child refugees from Honduras, and so many other abhorrent policies enacted under Obama (that they feigned outrage over under Bush) that they are now open about having no value for the lives of foreigners or their own fellow citizens as long as those people are obsticals to their own ideological supremacy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I don’t think they have ever valued the lives of foreigner Russians, for example, not even when Stalin told FDR how much they were helping the Allies.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        “own ideological supremacy.”

        Given their shifting values based on the villain of the day, can the modern “liberal” be accused of having an ideology beyond tribalism?

    2. flora

      The listed quotes read a lot like the rile-up-and-divide-the-voters play that then SoS Clinton ran in Haiti to invalidate a vote outcome that ran counter to D.C.s preferences. The Dem estab must be mighty worried about Sanders’ economic message taking hold. imo.

    3. ewmayer

      And let’s not forget the MSM and social-media outrage over candidate Trump making some typically inane Trumpian comment about gunz which the Clintonites took as “calling for his supporters to shoot Hillary.” So now we have Dem IdPol dream candidate Harris laughing about ‘joking about killing Trump’ in her best Hillaryesque “we came, we saw, he died” style, and the outrage would seem to be rather more muted, one might say. Move along, folks, no double standard to see here!

    4. Swamp Yankee

      I have noticed a real uptick in a liberal [sic?] rhetoric of dehumanization, even to the extent of seeing people on Zuckerberg’s Panopticon who seem to have quite literally gone mad — or maybe it’s just more apparent now — in the last three or so years. One that struck me was an affluent web developer I know (knew), graduate of an elite US university, of Cuban-American background (and would be thought of as “white” by most Latin Americans, as any conversation with someone from the Iberian world would reveal), denouncing “white people” tout court as excrement and “animals.” I’ve also seen terms like “insect”, which is very Rwanda, 1994, but also occurs in Hermann Hesse’s great novel Steppenwolf as something the protagonist, a hunted intellectual in Weimar Germany, is called, indeed, by a respected an highly “civilized” colleague. That book doesn’t get old!

      At any rate, our Web Developer evidently didn’t study much history at that college; or philosophy, theology, literature, art, oh, you know, any kind of approach that would put up internal barriers against speaking of people as “animals” and excrement. Don’t we see where that road goes down?

      Now, this guy is an extreme example. But it does follow from much of the Democrat-liberal nomenklatura’s decision to forego actual politics in favor of social-media bloviation. They really don’t care about winning elections. Imagine if the early Abolitionists, during the 1830s and 1840s, took the point of view that they simply wouldn’t talk to anyone who did not agree with them — would they have made any inroads? Of course not! Instead, they pushed their message even to hostile audiences, sometimes, indeed often, persuading them by the end of the conversation.

      This is because ultimately, for these liberals of Facebook, Trump is more an aesthetic phenomenon than a political one; he is just so — ugh! — icky! They are already sitting pretty, and if he is re-elected, as their behavior makes far more likely, they’ve already got their’s. Indeed, they have aestheticized politics, which, as historian Modris Ecksteins has noted, is actually far more a precondition for fascism than it is for liberalism, which, for all its faults, admits, in its decent form, of the possibility of difference and disagreement that is legitimate.

      I do think that, ultimately, many of today’s “liberals” do not fully accept the full humanity of their political foes. In this, they are simply the mirror of the white supremacist alt-right.

      What is needed, rather, is a politics that, whether its provenance is in Christian theories of the just state or Enlightenment rationalism, or anything else under the sun, argues for a thorough-going, loving, and kind-hearted universalism.

      This is the very antithesis of what motivates today’s Democratic elites.

      Yet the news is not all bad, for I sense that, outside of a few gentrifiers of Brooklyn and people in the academic rat race, i.e., about 12 actual voters, Web Developer Supra’s overt hatred was receivedwith something like revulsion and disgust by most people. They are aging out, the liberal IdPol crew, and wearing out their welcome, and their power is slipping away before them; this is why they have become increasingly vicious and wild in their rhetoric.

      We must remember: the people broadly speaking are with us, and against them. I have good evidence of this, which I can adduce in additional comments. Sorry to go on so extensively!

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Comments offering evidence and hope for what you say would be welcome cheer.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Hi Drumlin! I’m glad to elaborate. The evidence is, admittedly anecdotal, but I think it’s fairly strong:

          I teach history and government at a community college about 50 miles from Boston, where the countryside and the metro- region blend into one another. Thus, the school draws people from a wide array of communities: some from the inner suburbs of Boston that have effectively been urbanized, and where the former inhabitants of what we used to call “the inner city” have been driven into by the gentrification of their homes; others come from quite rural and/or Summer Tourist areas, from the Worcester Hills and Cape Cod through the interior forests and wetlands and cranberry bogs of Southeastern Massachusetts.

          From a class perspective, very few of these students are what we would call top 10%ers. There are some from families that might be described in Marxist terms as petite bourgeois — the children of contractors or roofers who, though they may have a certain level of material comfort, are certainly quite culturally removed from the world of the 10%ers. But on the whole, the vast majority are from working-class backgrounds, with some of them living in, and coming from, conditions of real, desperate poverty. Many are homeless, believe it or not, and another significant portion struggle with the substance abuse epidemic — opioid, yes, but also alcohol and other substances — that has swept over this region and the country. Almost all work, many more than one job. Some of these jobs are critically important, e.g., one EMT was describing to me how, yeah, last weekend was hard because she was holding a man’s brains inside his skull who had been shot in a running gang battle in the once-proud factory town of Brockton, Mass. A good number of them either have children, often as single parents; another good portion have to care for their elders who may be infirm. A very high proportion are veterans of the Forever Wars, many of them seeing real combat and bearing the physical and psychic wounds of the war. Many are first-generation immigrants. Others are out LGBTQ people.

          The point is, this is a struggling population, one representative of the United States as a whole, certainly more than the elite colleges where I was a scholarship kid. And on the whole, these students respond very positively to the New Deal and the Great Society. There is widespread enthusiasm for Sanders, especially among the younger ones. Many, while politically conservative (esp. the petit-bourgeois and the veterans), are open to the idea of universal material benefits and a government that works for the people.

          There is very little truck with identity politics per se; there is widespread agreement that black people are unfairly killed by cops, that gay people should have the right to live how they please. But the kind of scholastic, how many angels fit on the head of a pin? type Identity Politics that I see from my former classmates, many of whom now have remunerative and prestigious positions at fancy private colleges as kinds of Diversity Czars, or from people I went to school with trying to get that next post-doc or law school teaching position, is just absent. The students get along well, from my observation — the children of Vietnamese farmers and of Sicilian-American construction workers, of all different backgrounds, really, are fast friends.

          This doesn’t mean there aren’t tensions, or problems. There are, as in any place. But the vast majority simply don’t care what the NYT or Atlantic’s line is on any given issue. They want jobs, they want food, they want roofs over their heads, they want freedom from fear. And I think that there are far more of these people in this country, than there are bitter Clintonite capitalist-identitarians a la’ Jennifer Palmieri.

          So, in short, the students at this school give me hope. They would vote for FDR in heartbeat, and I think they will support Sanders in either a majority or strong plurality next time around.

          Again, anecdotal, and just one man’s observations, but I do think there are grounds for hope.

  15. sleepy

    “On Mocking Dying Working Class White People” by Stoller.

    The comments that Stoller referenced are full of the untruth that those working class white people are somehow Trump’s base.

    90% of Trump voters also voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. The median household income of Trump voters was higher than the same income level for Clinton voters.

    Trump’s base is actually the Republican middle and upper middle class suburbs of large cities, particularly in the South. Places the dems see as flippable–like suburban Atlanta. The status quo/elite narrative about Trump’s base is nothing more than an effort to dismiss the economic concerns of the working class, and to identify those people as beyond the pale socially and culturally. To put it bluntly–a bunch of dumb rednecks to be cast out of any serious political discussion.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The basic problem is the modern Democratic Party is run by people who are essentially Republicans who can’t stomach pretending to like NASCAR. They identify the Democratic Party as the party of liberal college professors who would be okay if they were just more pro-war and pro-corporate monopoly. Given that Republicans are fairly dense, its no surprise their like minded colleagues in Team Blue would be incapable of basic reasoning beyond a few pre-conceived notions.

    2. Peter L.

      In reply to Sleepy’s comment: I immediately thought of Paul Street’s remarks about this issue. Street writes, “The image of poor and working-class whites flocking to Trump is a media myth. Like fascist and other right-nationalist political movements of the past, Trump has drawn his main support from the more reactionary segments of the middle class and petite bourgeoisie.”

      Street’s comments are based on analysis of surveys of Trump voters, and I’m sure are reliable in a way that impressionistic reasoning about working class voters is not.


      Street also refers to Anthony DiMaggio’s work: “Support for Trump, as seen in previous polls, is largely concentrated among more affluent Americans. Trump voters were significantly more likely to be older, white, Republican conservatives – a group that has been quite privileged historically speaking. Trump voters were not more likely to be unemployed, compared to non-Trump voters.”


      I wonder how prevalent the views that Stoller highlights really are.

  16. Quanka

    Re: Obama whining about Bernie supporters. Let’s correct the record: We DO think Obamacare is a failure, precisely because of some of the key features pushed by Obama (removing public option from legislation, using the IRS in place of “central payer” model, forced private consumption, lack of real teeth for regulators of insurance plans). Is he so insulated that he doesn’t understand the criticisms, or is he just lying (er using a sleight of hand)?

    1. Arizona Slim

      I’m on an Obamacare policy right now. Company’s called Ambetter (a misnomer if there ever was one) and have had trouble with changing my payment information via their website. Happened twice, and on both occasions, I complained to my congressman’s office.

      Well, long story short, things got straightened out, but now the Ambetter survey posse is after me. I received two mailings of an 8-page survey (talk about a tax on time) and I tossed both. Now their telephone hounds at Edison Research are on the Slim trail. So far this month, three calls. And I just blocked their number.

      1. ambrit

        Who knows who your number has been sold to by General Dynamics.
        Wait for those calls about your winning 3.25 million dollars and the ‘minimal’ fee needed to transfer all that money into your bank account! (I have been toying with the idea of asking the local cops if I could give the scammers a ‘honey pot’ bank routing number.)

    2. nippersmom

      It’s the typical Obama (and Party) annoyance that we plebes aren’t sufficiently grateful for whatever small crumbs our betters deign to let fall from the table.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      He is just lying. If Obama gets replaced by Single Payer CanadaCare, he may not collect all the payoffs he is expecting over the decades to come. He is defending his future revenue stream.

  17. Jim Haygood

    Well, there they go again — the mysterious cabal of final-hour sellers, I mean, who today managed to drive the S&P 500 index to close below its opening price.

    Today’s last-hour selloff, which took the S&P down about 30 points between 3 and 4 pm, is a classic bear market pattern.

    All is not well in the financial markets, comrades. :-(

    1. Summer

      “the mysterious cabal of final-hour sellers”

      Which begs the question: why do they have to be mysterious? Outside the light?

    2. cnchal

      . . . the mysterious cabal of final-hour sellers . . .

      May the greediest AI trader bot win.

  18. allan

    Stephanie Miner: ‘I’m seriously considering running for [NY] governor’ [Rochester D&C]

    Don’t tell Stephanie Miner the race for the Democratic nomination for governor is already too crowded.

    The former Syracuse mayor on Monday modified her campaign account to allow her to raise money for a potential run for [NY] governor and said she is still actively considering entering the race.

    Miner, the Syracuse mayor from 2010 through 2017, would enter a formidable field.

    Gov. Andrew Cuomo is seeking a third term with $30 million in his campaign warchest, while Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon entered the race last month, turning it into a nationally watched race. …

    And Miner said she won’t let who is in the race change her own deliberations. …

    As Syracuse mayor, Miner oversaw the crackdown on Occupy.
    So, Alex, I’ll take Centrist Sheepdogs for $200.

  19. relstprof

    “Self-esteem” psych and “grit” psych are both water-downed popularizations of aspects to healthy adulthood discussed in Object Relations neo-Freudianism. The “grit” stuff is newer and pretends to be more scientific since it references studies (or cherry-picks them, and ignores the reduplication crisis in the psychological scientific world). What’s pop about them is they almost never consider the wider socio-economic dimensions that might allow families to raise creative, empathetic, and resilient human beings (cf. Winnicott and Kohut). In the vacuum of wider political concerns, the focus narrows to the individual child and/or the child’s luck in having 1) economic security, and 2) good-enough parents. The problem with this is that the social need is not at the level of the individual. These pop theories also find comfortable niches in our reigning neoliberal ideology.

    At its best, Object Relations suggested large-scale economic investment in early childhood, social security, and thicker social bonds across all strata of society. Think of the family policies in the Scandinavian countries. Or, Mark Blyth: “I am the product of social welfare policies” (that’s not all of it, to be sure, but it’s not nothing).

  20. Oregoncharles

    “Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can perform in front of a crowd or run a marathon or ask a person out on a date, it’s a lot easier to have confidence the next time you face a big challenge.”

    There’s a very significant gender difference in the examples mentioned. Taking them in order, I’d say girls do plenty of performing; significantly less of facing major athletic challenges (women do run marathons; what are the proportions?); and hardly ever ask “a person” out on a date, at least unless they’re asking a girl. Since the last is the most personal, I wonder what the impact on attitudes and life experience is. According to this report, it would be substantial.

    Has anyone thought about that big cultural gender difference in terms of its effect on character?

  21. Synoia

    And I think we’re close to being able to say that the swing to the left has been overhyped and is not electorally effective.”

    One swallow does not a summer make.

    1. flora

      Reminds me of the way Ben Bernanke was assuring all in 2007 there was no problem in the markets. He couldn’t see the big change coming. :

      March 28, 2007

      “At this juncture, however, the impact on the broader economy and financial markets of the problems in the subprime market seems likely to be contained. In particular, mortgages to prime borrowers and fixed-rate mortgages to all classes of borrowers continue to perform well, with low rates of delinquency.”

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I used to watch Bernanke on CSPAN. I think he did see something very big and very bad coming. Every time he addressed Congress, his voice was trembling with ill-contained fear. And he wasn’t afraid of any Congressman. I remember feeling at the time that ” he sees something. He doesn’t know what it is, but he sees something.”

  22. Altandmain

    Does anyone else feel a strong amount of anger towards Obama over this?

    The reason why Obamacare is unpopular is due to the total explosion of costs:


    Obama has completely gas-lighted this issue.

    Then there is the matter that he sold out to Wall Street. When people voted for him, they wanted the next Franklin Roosevelt. Someone who would take on the banks and restore the middle class. He sold out.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      He’s always been like this.


      I would say Obama was elected on the backs of strategy shift after the Clinton years. One might note, the Democrats actually held both houses in Congress from 2006 when the Senate map didn’t do Team Blue any favors. Dynamic candidates such as Jim Webb (the man who ran for President recently had to be an imposter. He was simply TOO charismatic) managed to win seats largely on the back of large scale organizing. Then of course, HRC, McCain, and Trump aren’t exactly a dream team of Presidential candidates. We need to be thankful for Obama though.

      1. Duck1

        we need to have a thread on gas lighting even though I have referenced it (looked it up), I still don’t understand what we are supposed to make of the term sorry an idiot i guess

          1. Procopius

            “The Bezzle” is very clear to me. “Gaslighting” is not. I understand the concept of “gaslighting” better, as I feel more and more disoriented by the gusher of lies coming from the Democratic Centrists and the lowering of discourse to first and second-grade playground levels in comment sections (not here).

    2. Eureka Springs

      Okay that time link is from Oct. 2016. And the Reuters Obama Sanders link in today’s water cooler is from Jan. 2017.

      Jus sayin’.

      1. ambrit

        Everything that was old is new again. Sort of like the Alchemists’ Creed: “As above, so below.”

    3. Procopius

      Yes, I feel a large amount of anger, too. Much the same as I did when he abandoned Organizing for America. Looking back on it, I was so naive. I actually felt hope for the first time in years. His turn around on the telecom amnesty bill should have been all I needed to know.

  23. allan

    Thread: Shaun King @ShaunKing:

    1. Immigration & customs officers at JFK Airport in NYC just pulled me and my whole family out of the middle of the passport line.

    We just returned from Cairo.

    The officer literally called us by name, knew about our trip, and took us away for questioning.

    2. The customs officer specifically brought up my role as a leader in the #BlackLivesMatter Movement
    and wanted to know why I traveled to Egypt. …

    File under Big Brother is Watching You Watch the Class Warfare.

    And the not so gentle liquid warming of the frogs continues apace.

  24. none

    FBI raided Trump’s lawyer’s office, wtf. It’s all over the newz. Came here looking for comments, maybe some will arrive.

  25. McWatt

    Absolutely all internet sales should be taxed in the city they are delivered to. Internet sales are devastating local tax bases. It is completely unfair to everyone that a select few large operators skate on sales tax.

    1. cnchal

      You haven’t though that through. Most internet sellers are tiny specks of capitalism gasping for air, and on top of state sales taxes municipalities have a smorgasbord of varying sales tax rates.

      Anyhow, lack of sales tax revenue isn’t why municipal tax bases are devastated.

    2. none

      Sales taxes are regressive as hell and corrupt politicians are always trying to increase them to shift more tax burden to working people so the Koch brothers can contine skating.

      If untaxed internet sales are helping keep sales taxes at bay, then that’s great. If sales taxes are making local businesses uncompetitive, the obvious thing to do is eliminate the sales taxes. Stop taxing toilet paper and tax hedge funds instead.

  26. Expat2uruguay

    I usually read this website on my phone with color inversion. It makes the text White on a black background. This not only makes it easier for me to read, but also reduces battery usage. Anyway, today’s antidote is absolutely Sublime in “color inversion” mode.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “The Robots are Coming to the Warehouse Dock”

    It took thirty year but it looks like this article is talking about these starting to be fully developed. Only thing is that the ones they are talking about lifting 200lbs/90 kgs does not seem a really great amount-

  28. ChrisPacific

    We still might not know the extent to which state election infrastructure was compromised in 2016, nor how compromised it will be in 2018.

    Haha. We know the answer to the first one at least: it wasn’t. Or at least, there is zero evidence that it was, and that is in spite of a lot of effort searching for it.

    My source? The joint statement on election security that was touted by Hillary.

    The whole reason the debate moved in the direction of the e-mail hack and Facebook trolls is because they couldn’t find any evidence of infrastructure being compromised and abandoned that line of attack as hopeless. Anybody who has been paying attention knows this. This whole thing is just an effort to ramp up the hysteria to the point where obvious lies sound plausible enough to pass for truth.

    That’s not to say that there aren’t issues with security of election infrastructure in some places. But remote, Internet-based attack vectors from nefarious Russian hackers are among the easiest to defend against. Americans are at far more risk of having their election infrastructure hacked by domestic parties than by Russians.

    1. Procopius

      That’s really odd, when you think about it. Lack of evidence doesn’t seem to reduce their hysteria about Russian hacking or “interference.” Although now that I think about it, I don’t see as much about either as I did a few months ago. I guess more people are realizing how absurd the assertions were, although the ones that still bleat about it are shriller than ever.

  29. Wukchumni

    “struggling builds character. Failure breeds wisdom and maturity. We need to fail and experience discomfort, and over time, build a track record of demonstrated success. Once you’ve proven to yourself that you can perform in front of a crowd or run a marathon or ask a person out on a date, it’s a lot easier to have confidence the next time you face a big challenge.”

    Failing sets a low benchmark for the future.

    I made lots of mistakes in business, and learned from each and every one of them, and never repeated the majority of my miscues. It wasn’t so much a confidence builder, but more of a what not to do in the future, lesson.

    1. Yves Smith

      Failure is overrated. I Even when you know you did something wrong, it is often harder than you think not to do it again. And many people are destroyed by failure and become bitter and even crooked.

      try to make a point of learning from other people’s mistakes whenever possible.

      1. Wukchumni

        My failures were no big deal in the scheme of things, and seldom did it effect me in any way other than a reappraisal of why it was so.

        Most of them didn’t involve arbitrage which was what I made a living doing, it was people.

  30. Craig H.

    > Cybernetic History in Das Netz

    Tried to read this and ended up having to skim very light. It is a can of worms which would require a long well-written book to make a sensible argument that a reader could follow.

    Das Netz is on youtube. The interview with Brockman which ends when the interviewer brings up the unabomber is over by the 12:18 mark. Link to the movie.

  31. The Rev Kev

    I saw that Arizona is sending their National Guard to the border. I did a few calculations about that border and the question of sending the Guard there and this is what I came up with. The US-Mexican border is about 3,145 kilometers in length. Now let us say that you station a National Guardsman every 100 meters (about 330 feet) to cover it. That would mean that you would need about 31,450 Guardsmen to cover the entire length of this border. But this would be only one shift. Assuming three shifts per day, that would work out to a total of 94,350 National Guardsmen needed. Then you have to work out that you will need replacements for those Guardsmen sick, on leave, detached for other duty and the like and, using a conservative figure of 10%, that gives you a grand total of of 103,785 National Guardsmen. Sounds reasonable.

    1. a different chris

      And you haven’t even gotten to logistical support. From food to latrines. Anybody know what rule-of-thumb the Army types use for that? I bet it’s more than 1:1, and that’s before KBR and suchlike blew it all up to awe-inspiring levels of grift.

      1. Procopius

        The Army’s tooth-to-tail ratio (the ratio of actual fighting forces to absolutely essential, irreducible, support troops) used to be 1:3. That’s over the long term, and was one of the justifications for diverting money to contractors, which costs two to three times as much, and results in much less satisfactory results.

  32. Code Name D

    The problem is not that they think Obamacare is a failure. The problem is that they don’t think it went far enough and that it left too many people still uncovered,’ Obama said.

    Obamacare IS a failure! By its own standards.

    It was supposed to bring down cost. Cost for providers, insurance, and pharmaceuticals have continued to climb since Obamacare was fully implemented.

    It was supposed to improve competition – insurance providers have actually fled markets, leaving many with only one insurance provider, a defecto monopoly. Hell, there are even a few markets with ZERO providers. Now what?

    It was supposed to expand access. It did – to insurance markets, but high deductibles discourage people from going for even routine issues. And healthcare deserts with no hospitals or small clinics continue to expand across much of rural America. And if you think and ambulance is expensive – try a medical helicopter. And even the number of Americans who now have insurance, while it did expand, still fell short of its original CBO projections.

    It was supposed to be simple, like shopping for shoes on line. Its not. Navigating the system has gotten so bad that many have resorted to paid experts to manage the applications. Those who can’t afford expert help, encounter new tax-on-time demands dealing with persistent errors. And then there are the enrolment windows that put time pressures on navigating this system.

    The benefits are also not evenly shared, with some seeing improvements under Obamacare while others go to pain city. The fact that it helps some people dose not dismiss the fact that it sacrifices others. That, in my book, is also a FAIL.

    How about medical bankruptcies. I still haven’t seen any data here, one way or the other. But if medical bankruptcies had gone down under Obamacare, I am sure they would have bragged about it by now. So, I suspect medical bankruptcies are still a real problem.

    Am and sick and tired of being made to genuflect in front of this feather in Obama’s cap. Free-market healthcare has over 30 years of failure behind it. And Obamacare is no exception. And I resent Obama shoving words into my mouth that “Obamacare is great with just a few exceptions” nonsense.

    I also resent that this is some kind of “Bernybroe” talking point.

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