2:00PM Water Cooler 5/1/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, sorry about the hiccup; my connection failed just before I needed to press submit. This Water Cooler is a bit light, because whenever I go to work on the primaries, it takes more time than I think, even when I budget more time than I think I will need. I’ll make it up to you tomorrow, I swear! –lambert


“Trump Administration Delays Most Tariffs On Steel, Aluminum” [NPR]. “A source familiar with the decision says the administration has reached an agreement in principle with Australia, Argentina and Brazil, which may avoid the need for tariffs against those countries altogether. Talks continue with Canada, Mexico and the EU.”



“Kamala Harris builds an online army” [Politico]. “In the first quarter of 2018 alone, Harris spent more than $600,000 on web advertising and digital campaign consulting, far surpassing spending in that area from other senators’ principal campaign accounts, including Sens. Sanders, Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). Roughly 20 months before the first 2020 primary contests, Harris is spending big on online ads and email list development — grooming potential supporters long before a campaign begins in earnest.”


I’m still struggling with the phrase “Bush ethics lawyer”:

But if liberal Democras rehabilitate the dude, there’s no reason that dude’s creatures shouldn’t run on their ticket. In fact, I assume that’s the goal (with the added frisson of kicking the left, since kicking the left is always good).

“Democrats should not expect a blue wave in mid-term elections” [The Hill]. “To win in the mid-terms, Democrats need to leave the anti-Trump bubble and conviction that a new majority of young, millennial, affluent, diverse and socially progressive voters will magically emerge in red states. Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama was a gift to the Democratic Party. He was discredited and lost. Nevertheless, Democrats should not expect many such gifts. …. Polling on the generic ballot, indicating which party voters would support in a congressional election, show the Democratic Party ahead by 4 percent. This is down from 12 percent and means a more difficult path for Democrats to overcome the advantage Republicans have in Congress…. With the exception of the reelection of Barak Obama in 2012, Democrats have done poorly over the last four election cycles. To break the pattern requires letting go of their flawed and often demeaning attitude about working-class and red state voters.” Lol no. To break the pattern means appealing to suburban Republicans. See above.

2016 Post Mortem

“A new Clinton wave is coming this spring” [Axios]. “Longtime Clinton supporters last week received an invitation offering access to the family (the green invitation features photos of Bill, Hillary and Chelsea) at a Clinton Foundation benefit on May 24 in New York, at prices ranging from $2,500 (‘Friend’) for cocktail party and dinner, up to $100,000 (‘Chair’) for ‘Leadership Reception for two, a premium table of ten, program recognition as Gala Chair and invitations to the Clinton Foundation Annual Briefing.'” “Access to the family…” Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.

UPDATE “Cognitive hysteresis” seems like a useful formuation:

From “Behind Human Error: Cognitive Systems, Computers and Hindsight” (PDF).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Hope Locally, Hate Globally” [Project Syndicate]. “In survey after survey, in rich and poor countries alike, people report feeling satisfied with their family lives, happy with the neighborhoods they live in, optimistic about their personal futures – and downright gloomy about their countries and the world. Why?”

“The Spy Who Came Home” [The New Yorker]. Former CIA dude (“Skinner”) comes home, becomes a good cop:

“We write these strategic white papers, saying things like ‘Get the local Sunni population on our side,’ ” Skinner said. “Cool. Got it. But, then, if I say, ‘Get the people who live at Thirty-eighth and Bulloch on our side,’ you realize, man, that’s fucking hard—and it’s just a city block. It sounds so stupid when you apply the rhetoric over here. Who’s the leader of the white community in Live Oak neighborhood? Or the poor community?” Skinner shook his head. ” ‘Leader of the Iraqi community.’ What the fuck does that mean?”

That’s a good quote. On the other hand, The New Yorker is legitimizing the extremely dubious role the intelligence community has placed for the past decade-and-a-half or so, as the spooks now, er, “embed” themselves in domestic institutions. Color me extremely skeptical.

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index, April 2018: “Of all the small sample surveys, the one that has consistently shown the least amount of exceptional strength has now joined the others” [Econoday]. “Looking for capacity stress? It’s here with both input costs and selling prices accelerating to the strongest pace since mid-2011. And the sample concedes that the pressure on prices, at least to an extent, is due to metal tariffs imposed in March. Another possible sign of stress is a softening in job creation which may indicate that the PMI’s sample is having a hard time finding new people.” And: “The ISM Manufacturing survey declined and remained in expansion. The key internals are in expansion. The Markit PMI manufacturing Index is in positive territory and insignificantly improved” [Econintersect].

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, April 2018: “Clear signs of stress are the continuing signals from ISM’s manufacturing sample” [Econoday]. “It’s in the details where this is most apparent and less the composite index… Delivery times continue to lengthen, up 1/2 point to an unusual 61.1, and input costs continue to climb, up 1.2 points to 79.3. These are rare readings for this venerable survey… Orders keep pouring in… Metal tariffs, imposed in March, are disrupting business for at least some in the sample who are warning that business planning is being scrambled and that manpower is being dedicated to dealing with related issues and being shifted away from production. The nation’s factory sector appears to be gaining momentum in what, however, may be an uneven environment.” And: “below expectations… and suggests manufacturing expanded at a slower pace in April than in March” [Calculated Risk]. “Still a solid report.”

Construction Spending, March 2018: “Construction spending data are known for their volatility which should limit the surprise from a very unexpected 1.7 percent decline” [Econoday]. “Today’s data are a surprise for forecasters but are offset by a heavy upward revision to February.” But: “There continues to be significant backward revision to the data – this month was upward. The rolling averages were unchanged. Also note that inflation is grabbing hold – and the inflation adjusted numbers are barely positive” [Econintersect]. “Also note that this sector is on an improving trendline. The employment gains year-over-year are near the same than the year-over-year growth in construction spending.”

Banks: “TSB customers stopped from switching after it told banks to suspend transfers” [MoneySavingExpert.com]. Well, that’s one way to prevent a bank run…

Tech: “Apple Results to Show iPhone Growth Problem and Cook’s Plan to Fix It” [Bloomberg]. “The iPhone X’s parts cost $115 more than the iPhone 8’s, according to a November analysis. That made it difficult to price the product much below $999, without slicing Apple’s legendary profitability. The new, lower-cost iPhone will use an LCD display that’s about half the cost of the OLED screen in the iPhone X. It’s also likely to use an aluminum casing versus stainless steel. That could bring the price close to $700, a level that’s proven successful for many years…. While results on Tuesday will likely show slower Apple growth, this broader iPhone strategy could revive sales when the new devices come out toward the end of 2018. For most companies, one product facing growth headwinds wouldn’t be a concern. For Apple, the iPhone generates about two-thirds of sales, and the other third comes mostly from products and services best used with an iPhone.”

Tax: “US groups plough tax cash into capex ahead of investors” [Financial Times]. “A small group of technology and energy companies is driving a rebound in capital expenditure in the US, bucking expectations that boards would distribute most of the windfalls from recent tax legislation to shareholders…. The median S&P 500 company expanded its investment spending by a more modest 13 per cent year on year, according to Bank of America. Credit Suisse found that just 10 companies accounted for two-thirds of the first-quarter increase in capital spending, while broader surveys suggested many businesses remained more hesitant about investing.”

Tax: “Investment Boom From Trump’s Tax Cut Has Yet to Appear” [New York Times]. “[W]hile there are pockets of the economy where investment is picking up — among large tech companies and in shale oil business, for example — corporate spending on buying back stock is increasing at a far faster clip, prompting a debate about whether the law is returning money to the overall economy or just rewarding a small segment of investors… Data on the gross domestic product, released Friday, showed that business investment grew at a 6.1 percent annual clip during the first three months of 2018, down from 7.2 percent during the first quarter last year. Excluding oil and gas investment, which is particularly volatile, the investment pace grew slightly over the past year.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla is burning through billions, and it’s revealing an ugly reality about the company’s financial situation” [Business Insider]. “Some Tesla watchers have been focused on how many workers Tesla now has. Bloomberg reports nearly 40,000. But what has gotten auto-industry experts’ attention is how many employees Tesla has at its factory in Fremont, California. Automotive News noted that when Fremont was called NUMMI and was run as joint-venture between GM and Toyota, about 5,000 workers built 350,000 vehicles in 1997. Tesla, according to the publication, needed between 6,000 and 10,000 workers to make fewer than 100,000 vehicles in 2016. To increase the Model 3’s production ramp, Musk recently said that that the assembly line would run 24/7 and that the company would go on a hiring surge. So Tesla is losing money the old-fashioned way, but getting far less value out of its workers than other automakers.”

The Bezzle: “Anonymous Owner, L.L.C.: Why It Has Become So Easy to Hide in the Housing Market” [New York Times]. “L.L.C.s have eroded that expectation. There is little good national data tracking the rise of L.L.C.s. But in 2015, according to the Rental Housing Finance Survey from the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, about 15 percent of all rental properties were owned by L.L.C.s, limited liability partnerships or limited partnerships. That represented one-third of all rental units, and that can include single-family houses or apartment buildings. Put another way: 92 percent of rental properties in America back in 1991 were held by individual owners whose names tenants could easily know. By 2015, that number had fallen to 74 percent, driven largely by the growth of L.L.C.s, although the market today includes other kinds of institutional investors as well.”

Five Horsemen: “Alphabet falls into last place after Apple’s modest bounce yesterday” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 1 2018

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

Mania panic index Apr 30 2018


“Pa. House advances bill to ease rules for conventional oil and gas drillers” [Post-Gazette]. “Conventional drilling trade groups say the bill is intended to turn back the clock — to before 2012, when environmental rules were strengthened to regulate the industrial-scale operations of drillers targeting the Marcellus Shale. They say small, traditional drillers who operate shallower wells were swept up in the changes… In at least one instance, the bill would roll back measures that were included in the first oil and gas law from 1984: It would erase a requirement that before issuing a drilling permit DEP must consider a well’s impact on public resources, like publicly owned parks and historical sites.”

Pipeline protests:

A very good question:

“Exterminating Sparrows: A Lesson From History” [Birding Beiing]. “The effectiveness of the [“Four Pests”] campaign [to eradicate rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows] was such that the Tree Sparrow population was decimated. And without the sparrows to curb the insect population, crops were being devastated in a way far worse than if birds had been spared. At least partly as a result, agricultural yields that year were disastrously low.”

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Just like the Telescreen™:

Class Warfare

“Calculating the Cost of a Jobs Guarantee” (interview) [Pavlina Tcherneva, Bloomberg].

News of The Wired

An interesting “matrix of emotions”:

I’m not sure how I feel about Disney doing the defining, though….

“Silicon Valley Can’t Be Trusted With Our History” [Evan Hill, Buzzfeed]. “Information ephemerality, and our lack of a model for noncorporate control of digital information, has been a blessing for governments looking to rewrite history and a curse for those trying to document the truth in environments where it is being contested every day.” I know there’s material on, say, campaign 2004 that can be found today on the Internet today only because I blogged about it contemporaneously, and quoted it. (It’s not a matter of search being crapified, though it is, or even of link rot; it’s that the pages have bee taken offline.) Yves has said the same about material from the financial crisis. Our historical memory, it seems, does not even extend decades into the past.

“Motherboard Made a Tool That Archives Websites on Demand” [Vice]. Should be handy for the next Joy Reid episode, assuming a clear chain of custody.

“IRS Warned Congress of “Catastrophic System Failure” Six Months Before Tax Day Outage” [IEEE]. “On 17 April 2018, the final day for U.S. citizens to file 2017 tax returns, the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) suffered a major system failure related to the hardware supporting its 58-year old, 20-million line Cobol-based Individual Master File system (pdf) which is still being used today to process the vast majority of individual tax returns. As a result of the failure, the IRS extended by a day the filing due date.” Makes the TBS episode look minor, potentially. (I think programmers conceptualize these problems as “technical debt.” I’ve always wondered about that metaphor,,,,)

“Spinal Tap’s Bassist Goes Solo… for Real” [Culture Sonar]. Excellent news! Favorite song-title: “Hell Toupee” [groans].

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

Here is another water lily, from a backyard fishpond. TH quotes: “Water Lily in a backyard fish pond: “The water lily has a special place in Sangam literature and Tamil poetics, where it is considered symbolic of the grief of separation…”

* * *

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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. Eduardo

    “…it takes more time than I think, even when I budget more time than I think I will need.”

    Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.

    — Douglas Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid

    1. Keith

      Esteemed Prof. Albert Hastorf had two such maxims:

      1. Conditions are never ideal.


      2. The facts will never all be in.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Add one from my favorite history prof, Jack Sproat:

        3. Nothing is ever what you think it is.

        1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

          Re Jack Sproat:

          Nothing is ever what you think it is.

          Two words that rule: Bounded Rationality.

          Pip Pip!

        2. stefan

          My favorite is from my old anthropology professor Wyatt MacGaffey: “There are two types of data: the data that fits the theory, and the data that doesn’t. The data fits the theory, you keep. And the data that doesn’t fit the theory, you throw away.”

    2. Robert Hahl

      Chemists sometimes project how long a project will take by making a reasonable guess, multiplying the number by two and increasing the units by one; e.g., a two hour project takes four days, a one week project takes two months, and a three month project takes six years. This is why most PH.D. projects could theoretically be done in less than three months.

      1. Jen

        As a friend said when her husband remodeled their house: it takes three years and 2 hours.

  2. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “Anonymous Owner, L.L.C.: Why It Has Become So Easy to Hide in the Housing Market”

    I’ve seen this in my town repeatedly. You see some land use that doesn’t look quite legal and look up the owner in the public records only to find it’s an anonymous LLC. It’s then very difficult to find out who registered the LLC. Many of the property owners use a different LLC for each property.

    I’ve found a lot of the illegal lodging establishments (aka Airbnb) in our area hide behind LLCs. Turns out a good way to find out who owns those is to ban them and heavily fine the offenders – then the owners come scurrying out of the woodwork and show up at public meetings!

    And thanks for that last link. I expect to see NC turned up to 11 all the time Lambert ;)

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, there are quite a few landlords hiding behind LLCs. And let’s just say that many of their properties are not what one would call neighborhood assets.

      But we neighbors have some fun tools at our disposal. Like the city’s code enforcement reporting form. Link:


      And the county assessor’s office. Especially useful if you’re dealing with single family residences that are listed as owner occupied in the public records, but they’re actually rentals. Link:


      Since a lot of LLC landlords aren’t too picky about who they rent to, well, you’d better get used to dialing 911.

      If it’s not an emergency incident, but an ongoing problem, you can make crime pay — for you. Here’s our local crimestoppers website, complete with information on the rewards program:


    2. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

      LLC ( another example to stir me in my acronyms gripe):

      Sounds like a subdivision Absentee Landlordism to me – maybe it should be in the list of NC topics.

      Stock and Shares seem to be the ultimate maniacal form of absentee landlordism (shareholders own the firm but are entitled to sue it due to their own bad stewardship).


    3. Yves Smith

      I will be a bit of a nay-sayer. I think in a lot of cases the reasons are much simpler: LLC are for liability reduction, which you would not have as a landlord renting in your own name. C-corps are a nuisance. I’m not a RE owner, so they could have achieved the same liability shield with an S-corp, but with an LLC, you can also have up to 35 owners.

      I rent from an LLC and I know who the owner is. My old landlord (who owned a monster office building midtown, his residential buildings are rounding error) IIRC moved this building into an LLC early on. He died. The shares in this and other LLCs are in a trust which is managed on behalf of his schizophrenic son.

      And how much of this change is actually due to PE firms hoovering up single family homes post crisis? They are institutional investors and so would always hold property in some sort of corporate form.

      1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

        Liability Reduction:

        In the moral economy how far can the convenient shirking of responsibility go? At what point does a real economy collapse when weight of the inverted pyramid of liability reduction bury the consumer or break a nation? Has anyone modelled that?

        I suppose that in the US (from what I hear) the many pot-holes are evidence that the pillars of the community are crumbling.

        Pip Pip!

        * usually after heavy rain here in Australia

  3. Duke De Guise

    Well, sorry to be so juvenile, but my favorite Spinal Tap tune is “Big Bottom:”

    “Big Bottom,
    Big, big bottom,
    Big mudflaps,
    My girl’s got ’em…”

  4. LaRuse

    Oh that lily. With that image, you have made my afternoon, Lambert. Many thanks.

  5. Buck Eschaton

    Being from Minnesota the Richard Painter Senate candidacy is just plain weird. The comments in that Twitter thread, I don’t even know where those people are coming from. “Bush ethics lawyer”??? Really??? From the few YouTube clips I’ve seen of him he sounds like a raving, lunatic neoconservative. Is he another intelligence community candidate???

    I gotta say I’m thoroughly uninspired by the MN Democratic Senate candidates.

    Great Minnesota meet-up again this weekend!!! Thanks everybody.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Uh-oh, Minneapolis leads the NC commentariat-organized meetup count! It’s Minneapolis 2 and Tucson 1!

      But don’t get too complacent, Minneapolis, because a second Tucson meetup is in the works.

    1. perpetualWAR

      Out of that posting, this is particularly funny:

      “Hello, we’re TSB, and we’re different from other banks.”

      They forgot to add: “Because we won’t allow access to your MONEY!”

    2. ChrisPacific

      That’s a Head of Infrastructure role (mid-senior) within the CIO ‘function.’

      We’re the first technical point of contact for people in TSB who want to speak to the CIO function.

      I’m not sure I’ve ever spoken to a CIO function myself. I wonder what it would be like?

      It’s unclear from the job description whether there is any actual infrastructure to manage, or whether it’s all outsourced to suppliers (supplier management features prominently in the description, and there’s no mention of operational or support responsibilities).

      It was also posted 5 days ago (i.e., after everything blew up) but makes no mention of it. Definitely one would candidates would want to come armed with suitable questions.

  6. Tim

    Regarding Tesla’s production inefficiencies, it’s even worse when you consider part count per vehicle, which is significantly less for a Model 3 than any other vehicle. Less parts should mean less assembly line work to be done, and fewer defects per vehicle.

    Tesla must be blowing the numerator out of the water in terms of defects per part/assembly and the impact to the vehicle.

    1. Huey Long

      “Good pay or bum work”

      -Vintage IWW Poster

      Remember, the plant currently occupied by Tesla used to be a GM-Toyota JV staffed by union workers.

      I wonder how many of the current workers are friends, relatives, descendants of the former UAW employees or even former UAW members themselves?

      You know, the kind of people who know how bad they’re getting screwed and how to screw the boss back.

    2. Altandmain

      The issue I think is that Silicon Valley has a certain sense of arrogance where they think that they are better than everyone else. They see themselves as the so called disruptor. So too do many liberals who think that it is a low skill job that should be outsourced to low wage nations.

      The problem is that they underestimated the challenges involved in mass producing a vehicle. They have, in a rather strange manner, repeated many of the mistakes the American car makers made in the 1970s and 1980s.

      The brutal reality is that manufacturing is very difficult. Getting the ppm rate down is very challenging, even for existing automotive companies, especially when the price needs to be competitive.

      Now they are throwing new hires at the problem.


      The problem is that any new hires take time to get up to speed

      Full disclosure on my part, I have worked for one of the big 3 US automotive companies and work still at a major supplier.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The problem is that any new hires take time to get up to speed

        Tech types should know this. Fred Brooks, in The Mythical Man Month shows that putting more people on a late project makes it later, for exactly the reason you give: Communication complexity increases as the new hires are “brought up to speed.”

        Looks like Musk is utterly detached from the production process, no matter in what field.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I’ve read that “Moody’s has warned that Tesla will need an additional $2 billion to make it through the year, and its $1.2 billion of existing debt will come due by 2019.” They never got their production process right and are at the moment trying to throw people and dollars at it trying to make it all go away. My guess is that they are toast.

  7. Solidarity, brother!

    May 1st. Aren’t we supposed to not work today? What happened with worker solidarity?

    1. Gary

      I know it’s wrong but I am weak. I’m hooked on those three squares a day, brother.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Had that as a kid in coastal Maine up till about ’71. Then it disappeared. I learned how to weave construction paper.

    2. Huey Long

      Solidarity is alive and well in New York, where my fellow building trades workers and I are raising hell via the #countmein movement:


      We rally twice a week at 34th and 10th, Tuesdays at 3pm and Thursdays at 6am. Yesterday we rallied at One Bryant Park to protest non-union labor on a project by the Durst Org. and on Tuesday May 8th at 3:30pm in Union Square we’re expecting a crowd of 40,000 workers from all trades to join together and send a message to New York’s billionaire developers that NYC is a Union Town and open shop WILL NOT be tolerated here.

      All NCers are cordially invited to attend any of our rallies and stand in solidarity with us.

      Can I count NC in?

      1. Crush the crushers

        Raise hell my friend and manage the union-busting companies and politicians by carpe scrotum.

        This is highly unsettling and self-defeating though:
        ”Developers and Donald Trump “want to dismantle unions”

        You should know by now that both Democrats and Republicans want to kill unions. Don’t make the mistake of being a partisan campaign. Must be for everybody and against all union-crushers.

    3. Procopius

      I was quite surprised to see a remark somewhere that Congress had made the day “special.” In fact, in most other countries it is a holiday, but the United States explicitly refused to accept it because of the Wobblies. That’s why our Labor Day is the first Monday in September. I think Samuel Gompers was influential in that charade. Here in Thailand May Day (Labor Day) seems to be a holiday mostly for government employees, maybe the banks, too.

  8. Harold

    Re the CIA running candidates for office with the aim to “Get them on our side” — A) whose side, exactly, the MIC? and B) Isn’t that the job of propaganda? What happened to “represent their interests in the legislature”?

    This seems to be a tactic of desperation. After all, how well did “winning hearts and minds” work in Vietnam?

    1. JTMcPhee

      In Vietnam, “the people” were easily distinguishable from the ‘winners,” Shorter, olive or light khaki skin, epicanthic folds, mostly black hair. The “Winners” even in mufti were so very obviously “different,” almost all of them, except a few Latinos I knew who could “pass.” White folk in Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma, even Mississippi and Idaho? Who could tell if they were agents provocateur or overthrow-and-dominate missions from Langley? So the chances of “winning hearts and minds” in the well-prepared mind soil of the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave is patently one heck of an easier task.

  9. hemeantwell

    Cognitive hysteresis? There’s only a page there, but so far they don’t mention the possibility of motivation. One form of CH that psychoanalysts are familiar with is transference, and the most useful way to think about transference is not that it represents only a cognitive template used to interpret contemporary figures in light of past figures, but it also represents an emotionally charged, wishful template. And it is not just that the wish involved is one of psychic economy, trying to avoid the effort that attribute revision involves. The contemporary figure is also viewed as a source of security, love, a past failed challenge that can be perhaps won this time around, etc.

    And consider this about social models. To claim that, for example, the national economy is not like a family economy, that money can be freely printed for useful investments and that one just needs to watch out for inflation, is not only to make an cognitive claim. It directly challenges key understandings of what constitutes “fairness,” “living within proper limits,” and a bunch of other notions that get drummed into our heads when we grow up and serve as very significant conflict moderators and value orientations. When you start to question those, the social fabric can be heard tearing. To think of this purely cognitively is itself a kind of wishful thinking. And to think of a remedial process as simply cognitive is simply blind. The whole idea of a “community of scientists” is about establishing a socially grounded conscience that regulates our thinking. Sure, in the process we acquire “cognitive tools” for assessing reality. But our motivations to use them are pretty damn complex.

    People who do this kind of Kahneman and Tversky stuff should really get out into their neighboring social science departments more often.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …and I wondered where Ronald Reagan found all that credulity and credibility and credulousness…

      1. epynonymous

        Ronald Reagan used to fictionalize sports broadcasts, turning spare tele-types into radio presentations… and much else besides.

        Later in life, he settled down and got his news on the Tv.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Wasn’t the pre-Chris Matthews Tip O’Neil story that the Speaker had to explain Reagan didn’t play President Garfield in a movie?

  10. zagonostra

    Thanks for info on the “Mountain Valley Pipeline”…the useless MSM neglected to tell me that my world is being raped and plundered, they have more important navel gazing business to attend to suppose.

  11. Lee

    “Exterminating Sparrows: A Lesson From History” [Birding Beiing]. “The effectiveness of the [“Four Pests”] campaign [to eradicate rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows] was such that the Tree Sparrow population was decimated. And without the sparrows to curb the insect population, crops were being devastated in a way far worse than if birds had been spared. At least partly as a result, agricultural yields that year were disastrously low.”

    Spent some time along the beautiful Li river running amidst beautiful trees and dramatically carved limestone peaks that since antiquity have been depicted in Chinese art. One day I asked our minder tour guide about the absence of birds. Herons and other riparian birds were typically a feature seen in the art not to mention most rivers I’ve seen. “Pesticides”, she said. Adding “People must eat.” This was some years ago. Hopefully things have improved.

  12. allan

    NY Times is renaming its business section [TBN.com]

    … “[NYT] `Business Day’ was introduced in 1978 and it reflects the nine-to-five-day people worked at that time and we want something modern,’ said Ellen Pollock, editor of Business Day. Pollock stopped short of revealing the new name.

    “It will also redesign its Sunday Business section later this year to have a more magazine feel and will introduce a weekly business newsletter that looks back at the week. …

    In the last few months I’ve basically stopped looking at the NYT online business section – the decontenting has become painfully obvious. Worthwhile subsections of yesteryear, like Economix or
    Dealbook’s Revolving Door Law and Regulation, are long gone.
    When you’re reduced to rebranding, time to give up.

    File under All the Rearranging of the Deckchairs That’s Fit to Print.

  13. Jean

    Kamala Harris;

    *”I worked tirelessly to choose my parents so as to be your first African-American-Indian senator.”

    *”Under color of diversity I can represent Wall Street’s interests. Even Steven Mnuchin donated money to me!”

    “Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) is defending a decision she made as California’s attorney general not to charge President-elect Donald Trump’sTreasury secretary nominee with violating state foreclosure laws.

    Steven Mnuchin, from 2009 to 2015, ran OneWest, a California-based bank, where he oversaw more than 36,000 foreclosures. Harris was California’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017, when she joined the Senate.

    A 2013 internal memo from the California attorney general’s office, first published by The Intercept,
    alleged Mnuchin violated state foreclosure laws and recommended filing charges against him. The memo, the result of a yearlong investigation, claims Mnuchin violated notice and waiting period laws, manipulated legal documents and rigged foreclosure auctions, but Harris declined to charge him.”

    He even gave her a nice tip, which she gratefully accepted:

    1. JBird

      Happy, happy. Joy, joy.

      Kamal Harris and Gavin Newsom are smooth talking beautiful San Franciscans who say all the right words at all the right photo ops; they want to all serve the people like any good politician should they shout, nay chant loudly, but look at their deeds and they are true heirs to those neoliberals Pelosi and Feinstein.

      People seem to want to give San Francisco a pass as a quaint wacky uber liberal tourist trap, which it is, now; it is also a corrupt city, and always has been, that has been reduced to that quaint shell and so has much of the rest of the Bay Area.

      One must be careful on blaming any single thing for when something goes bad. However, I think this neoliberal long con is the principle cause of the gentrification of nine counties. (It’s a trip thinking not of neighborhoods, nor cities, but whole counties as being gentrified.)

  14. Darthbobber

    The Joy Reid fiasco as it stands. Seems someone at MSNBC has belatedly lowered the cones of silence in an effort to halt the further digging of the hole.

    The cybersecurity “expert” has gone no-comment. The lawyer who assisted in the rollout and made the statement that the FBI was now investigating now says he’s not authorized to talk to people.

    And Reid herself is now in the land of subjective reality (aka alternative facts). She now “believes” she didn’t write the stuff in question, but acknowledges that her alleged experts can’t prove such a thing, and allows as how she understands why some people might not believe her. Golly, that’s big of her. No mention now of hoping the FBI gets to the bottom of it. Surprise.

    None of this has lowered Reid’s stature in my estimation, since she always did seem like a straightforward party hack in the role of hatchet person, who never lets the width of a razorblade separate her from the favored narratives of those who control team donkey in the beltway.

    But it is mildly amusing to see people twistiing their own minds into pretzels to reconcile this with their preferred mythology.

    1. Sid Finster

      Cognitive dissonance. For some, the struggle is real.

      Seriously, nothing will come of this. The news cycle will turn and the matter (including any FBI investigation) will be quietly dropped, all forgiven.

      Joy Reid is sufficiently highly placed in the Team D hierarchy as to be practically untouchable.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I disagree. The cultists for Joy Ann Reid might be Clinton cultists, but not all Clinton cultists are Reid cultists. When the object of their devotion isn’t at risk, people’s professed values do return. In my estimation, MSDNC is circling the wagons because they do have in what I would consider the circle of scandal. Many presenters claimed ignorance over Matt Lauer. If Brokaw is more than a one time case, his defenders will be in a dilemma from when they defended Lauer. They can claim ignorance once, but its the second time that gets you.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Naw, she will be forgiven. Take a look at what Elizabeth Warren said once-

          “After dinner, Larry [Summers] leaned back in his chair and offered me some advice. I had a choice. I could be an insider or I could be an outsider. Outsiders can say whatever they want. But people on the inside don’t listen to them. Insiders, however, get lots of access and a chance to push their ideas. People — powerful people — listen to what they have to say. But insiders also understand one unbreakable rule: they don’t criticize other insiders.”

          Joy Reid is an insider so will be protected. That is why people who are outstandingly wrong about everything that they talk about and predict are never given the boot. The same people that told us all that invading Iraq would be such a great idea are now telling us that attacking Syria and Iran would be a brilliant idea. It’s all about solidarity, bro!

          1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

            Re Larry Summers and insiders/outsiders.

            Larry seems to repeat the same advice – I wonder how often. I don’t think he is wrong in his analysis.

            I read a very similar anecdote in Yanis Varoufakis’ book on how he got shafted by the troika and the Greek elite.

            The perogatives of power include being absolutely monstrously wrong with absolutely no consequent shame. See: Tony Blair – Middle East peace thingy (former).

  15. Sid Finster

    With all due respect, Team D is not pulling the Clinton Cabal back in, as the Clintons refuse to leave and fight tooth and nail at any attempt to diminish their influence and authority. Hell, they’ve reduced Team D to their own personal vanity project.

    Lady Macbeth gonna Lady Macbeth.

    1. Jean

      Only in the Democratic Party can Sir Lance-a-lot meet Lady Macbeth.

      Vainglorious? You ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen the Brylcream Beauty, pretty boy Gavin Newsom who is running for Governor of California. The Anointed One is so sure he’ll win that he didn’t even bother to show up for the debate.

      Where’s Salome when you need her?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Lady Macbeth gonna Lady Macbeth.”

      Guessing personal feelings is always tough, but my mom always thought Hillary LOVED Bill. The issue isn’t HRC as much as Bill not letting go. Remember he had the arrogance to run for President (not a mindless “yeah maybe I’ll run approach), and he was relatively young and a former Caesar (the President is Caesar incarnate for all intents and purposes).

      What was his Presidency? Claiming credit for infrastructure investments in the 80’s shepherded by his VP when the VP was a Senator, a couple of wag the dog moments, and ushering in the permanent GOP majorities. My gut is that the “campaign didn’t listen to Bill’s brilliant advice” stories were planted by Bill. Despite the unparalleled political brilliance of the man, he didn’t manage to stop Robbie Mook and friends from losing to Donald Tump.

      1. ambrit

        Does the Clinton Cabal still hold the purse strings of Team D?
        The ‘Golden Rule.’
        Notice that Chelsea is being given prominence. The lineaments of the scheme are showing.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When those six cops were asking for entry into his apartment, I was shouting in my mind: ‘Don’t do it! That is writing them a blank cheque for them to body slam you down to the ground, cuff you and have a peek around your apartment!’ Smart man that. At least one of them didn’t shout: ‘Watch out! He has a mobile in his hand!’ I think that the only “large tool” that was mentioned in this story is the neighbour that called the police on him in the first place.

  16. ChrisPacific

    RE: TSB customers stopped from switching

    I wonder if customers calling to move their accounts are placed on a hold queue playing ‘Hotel California’ on loop.

  17. dcblogger

    New Bipartisan Bill Could Give Any President the Power to Imprison U.S. Citizens in Military Detention Forever

    But now, incredibly enough, a bipartisan group of six lawmakers, led by Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Tim Kaine, D-Va., is proposing a new AUMF that would greatly expand who the president can place in indefinite military detention, all in the name of restricting presidential power. If the Corker-Kaine bill becomes law as currently written, any president, including Donald Trump, could plausibly claim extraordinarily broad power to order the military to imprison any U.S. citizen, captured in America or not, and hold them without charges essentially forever.


  18. Carolinian

    Inside Out–a great movie and probably over the heads of most tykes. Think Pixar, not Disney even though the mouse factory now owns Pixar.

    1. JBird

      Well, just because the governmental kidnapper, torturers, and murderers will probably prevent the American legal system from prosecuting them, does not mean that the someone like the Europeans can’t send them to the ICJ at The Hague. I look forward to seeing someone like “Bloody Gina” Haspel on the court’s docket and in the dock.

  19. Procopius

    Reference “The Spy Who Came Home,” I thought he did a pretty good job of showing (a) how inept the field agents are and (b) how out of touch with reality the people in Langley become as they adapt to the headquarters culture. When I first heard the story, several years ago, it was said that Jennifer Matthews demanded the group meeting with al-Balawi, because “assets” needed to be reassured how valuable they were and how much their work was appreciated. She did not seem to be aware that the G.I.D had tortured the guy for three days. It did not seem to occur to her that he might harbor some resentment for that. I wonder about the contractors and other high ranking CIA officials in the group. You know, when I was in the Army, we were constantly exhorted during tactical training, “Spread out, spread out, don’t bunch up so a single round can get a bunch of you.” I wonder if they were like a bunch of celebrity fans wanting to just bask in the presence of their star.

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