2:00PM Water Cooler 5/14/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I am pushing and floundering through another analysis of the House races, so today’s post is the most open of open threads! –lambert

Here, at least, are Haygood’s charts:

Five Horsemen: “Microsoft is trading at a fresh record high” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 14 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index was flat at 66 (complacency) after Friday’s put-call ratio rose to 0.98, a negative for the indicator” [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 May 11 2018

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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 (KS):

KS writes: “This was taken a last month in Anghiari, Italy. The featured plant in the foreground is, I believe, a wild cherry tree.” Light breaking through the clouds is, hopefully, appropriate!

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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. drumlin woodchuckles

      If Sanders runs in the DemParty primaries, I will vote for Sanders. If he wins the DemNom, I will vote for Sanders in the election. Even if I “know” he will lose. Because he is what I would want.

      If he wins the DemNom in the teeth of conspiratorial opposition from the TTP Democrat Party Lords, they will conspire to throw the victory to Trump ( or whomever) just as they did against McGovern in 1972.
      Millions of Bitter Clinters and Goldman-Sachs Feminists will vote against a DemNominee Sanders in the election. If they feel that voting for Trump ( or whomever) is their only chance to defeat DemNom Sanders in the election, they will vote for Trump ( or whomever) in their millions.

      It will be, as they say, “clarifying”.

      1. tegnost

        yes clarifying in that it conforms my opinion that all reagan admiring dems are actually moderate republicans who can’t seem to get themselves to wear that identity. I too will be voting for what I want, not what I’m frightened of, and if the want to drive the country into a ditch, well they already did, didn’t they?

      2. John k

        Landslide. Biggest party is indies, 40%. Who they gonna vote for if sanders is an option? He gets 2/3 the dems, 3/4 indies, 1/6 reps, = 15+30+5=55%, and that’s both conservative and a landslide.
        I worry about his health, both on account of his age and all the powerful forces that would be very happy with an accident. No time to go against deep, trump bad mouthed them before even winning… better to wait until appointments are in place and stables swept… granted a Herculean task.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If he wins the DemNom in the teeth of conspiratorial opposition from the TTP Democrat Party Lords, they will conspire to throw the victory to Trump ( or whomever) just as they did against McGovern in 1972.

        They would like to. I think the correlation of forces in 2020 is different from that in 1972, though. I think the Democrat Establishment is simultaneously richer and more ruthless and less legitimate. They also face much more widespread, er, resistance across broader sectors of society, since whatever else they may have done, they have not delivered, which is why the country keeps throwing the bums out, no matter which party the bums are. The Liberal Democrats are simultaneously kneecapping the left, appealing to conservatives, installing Blue Dogs as blockers for any reforms, and kowtowing to the donor class on policy (e.g., Medicare Extra, Schumer on Jerusalem, etc. etc. etc.). They’re planning a straight replay of 2006 – 2008, and praying that whatever the outcome of 2018 is, they don’t have to govern. Reminds me of an episode in the early days of railroading, where a locomotive engineer tied off the safety valve because the hissing annoyed him, whereupon the engine blew up. Something like that is coming…

        I think the Bitter Clinters and G-S Feminists are strong in the party and strong in the political class. I don’t know how strong they are country-wide. They are also, to take a page from Ruy Teixeira, a demographic that’s aging out. College Deans representing all women, not… But running for office and doing the nuts and bolts of politics are skills. They have to be learned. It’s not enough to be right on policy. That’s what the left needs to be doing in 2018, which (IMNSHO) it is doing. OR is smart to be focusing on state and local races.

  1. JTMcPhee

    The problem with NC/WC as an addictive drug is that there is no other source of supply…

    1. DonCoyote

      Mark, non-Minnesota voters may be confused–I certainly am. Are you saying that Nick Leonard needs to drop out and endorse Tina Smith so that she can beat Painter in the primary and win the general?

      Your link was interesting, but does not seem directly related to this race, so maybe you could fill in a few blanks for us?

      To me this sounds like more “lesser evil”-ism (we need more D’s, doesn’t matter where they are on the issues). Painter doesn’t seem like someone I would vote for, but I would definitely vote for Leonard over Smith in a primary, and don’t know if I would vote for her in the general (She seems all-in on the Russian narrative, for starters)

      Russia is a hostile foreign govt that interfered in the’16 presidential election w/ the goal of undermining our democracy. No serious person disputes that fact. On top of that, members of the Trump campaign & Trump admin knew abt Russia’s meddling & welcomed offers of assistance.

      I believe that many people on this site have very serious doubts about this narrative and the people pushing it.

      1. ambrit

        Yep. No ‘serious person’ for some definition of “serious person.” With messaging like that, the Dems deserve to lose, and lose catastrophically.
        It’s about time for an American Sex Pistols version of “Anarchy in the U.S.”
        From the pseudo album: “Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Homeland Securities.”
        Hear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbmWs6Jf5dc
        Not safe for status quos. (NSFSQ)

      2. Mark Gisleson

        I have no idea what’s going to happen. The seat is at risk only because Franken got hounded into resigning by the exact same DFLers who were thrilled to see him carpetbag a razor thin win over Norm Coleman.

        I left MN in 2013 and only recently moved back. After just a few years and despite living in Paul Ryan’s polarized CD, I can hardly believe the levels of acrimony in MN. Both parties treat the other side like they were Satan, and increasingly I think they’re both right.

        Big healthcare bucks here (UnitedHealthGroup, Mayo Clinic, Hazelden). Constipated medical marijuana law that just bankrupted a supplier (per Gov. Dayton whose rich friends have pothead kids who didn’t need easier access so to hell with the opioid addicts looking for respite).

        Now we learn that Paul Wellstone’s sons have been booted from the Wellstone Action board over issues that sound a lot like identity politics with the sons upset that the problems of the rural poor are being ignored. Add to that a whiff of this unionizing political campaigns crapola and I think we’re going to see a Democratic party going down in flames. The neolibs are destroying the party to save it.


        MN’s a big sloppy mess and I wouldn’t try to call any elections this year. D infighting was inevitable. When the losers refuse to step aside, chaos results and apathy rules. In 40 years of political activism in the upper Midwest, I have never seen such a massive disconnect between rank and file and the party.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I saw this astonishing story.

      So the identitarians hijacked the Wellstone brand and threw the actual Wellstones off the board? What could go wrong?

      I think the Wellstones should sue, arguing they retain rights to the name.

    1. crittermom

      Good news to hear of the investor’s letter, but will their money speak louder than the ‘promise’ of even more money if the drilling is allowed?

      “However, Alaska’s congressional representatives, who are all Republican, strongly support the drilling plan, suggesting it could bring in $1bn to state and federal governments in the next decade. When the plan to open the ANWR for oil and gas exploitation was announced, Senator Lisa Murkowski said it was “the single-most important step we can take to strengthen our long-term energy security and create new wealth.(my emphasis)

      The thought of drilling there horrifies me. I desperately hope the letter has the impact it’s intended to & no drilling will be done.
      Thanks for that link.

    1. John Zelnicker

      May 14, 2018 at 2:42 pm
      Thanks for the link.

      One of the criticisms of Bernie that I have been unable to disagree with has been his weakness as regards foreign policy. However, in this essay he pushes for peace and negotiation. Hopefully, he feels that way about all of the wars in which we are involved, known and unknown.

      1. JohnnyGL

        “I think Brennan did a good job” — ugh…..my stomach turned at hearing that. Brennan is a criminal that belongs in jail for torture, supporting terrorism, specifially Al Qaeda, and it seems he was pulling the strings to gaslight the American public with regard to Russia-gate.

        Bernie has pushed things in the right direction, overall, but we’ve got a long way to go. That might be the worst thing I’ve heard from him.

        1. Eureka Springs

          This is stomach turning as well.

          To be clear, Iran is engaged in a lot of bad behavior, including backing dictator Bashar al-Assad’s war against the Syrian people, support for violent extremist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, and human rights abuses inside Iran

          Who advises Sanders on these matters? And how could he possibly believe this?

          1. Synoia

            Yes, those violent extremists, who are not grateful for all the kind and generous events to which they were invited by the latest foreigners in the region.

            They should be thankful they have such benevolent partners locally there.

          2. johnnygl

            That actually doesn’t bother me that much, even though i would prefer he didn’t include that language.

            I feel like overt praise for Brennan is something else, entirely.

          3. Carolinian

            Should he become Pres he could hire Hillary as Sec State since that’s basically her line.

            As we are finding out with Trump foreign policy is the only area where the President has real power and autonomy.

            1. John k

              Pres can jail bankers, file antitrust, and put good people and good policies into place, the reverse of trump. Granted he might not be able to get new laws passed, but doing what he can do would be very popular, making the more difficult things possible.

              1. Procopius

                Actually, he can’t do either of the first two things. He can advise his Attorney General that he thinks those would be excellent goals to pursue, but if the AG declines, there’s nothing he can do about it. Just as Trump cannot do anything to force Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III to fire Mueller, for which I am grateful.

          4. neo-realist

            The only rationale I can think of for such praise for a disreputable member of the intelligence community is that if he intends to run and get elected, he doesn’t want to alienate it and have it stab him in back while he tries to put his policies in place. To paraphrase Truman, “they’re bastards, but they’re our bastards.”

            1. pretzelattack

              they’re going to stab him in the back anyway, unless he goes along with the torture and warmongering, and if he goes along with that he will likely turn into obama.

          5. Edward E

            Because he’s a tool, honestly I can’t believe you all are not more skeptical around here

          6. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Bashar al-Assad’s war against the Syrian people

            I don’t think the Assads are nice people. There aren’t necessarily good guys to be had.

            To me, it’s a question of realpolitik. Except for arms dealers, mercs, the military’s officer class, and The Blob, there is IMNHSO no good to be had from our Middle East involvement in toto. It is all a sunk cost, and we should get out.

        2. John Zelnicker

          May 14, 2018 at 5:21 pm
          I can’t disagree with you either. Or several of the other comments in this thread criticizing Bernie for his foreign policy and related positions (Brennan). I just hope he can be educated and brought around to a more peace-oriented position.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I would like to see Sanders raising these arguments in Town Halls in the flyover states what supply the troops, and sooner rather than later. I think people would be very surprised at the support he gets.

  2. Huey Long

    In labor news, Spectrum is going full scorched earth in its year plus battle with striking technicians in NYC. They have gotten 30% of the employees in the bargaining unit to sign de-certification cards and there will be a de-certification election held by the NLRB as a consequence.

    Hopefully the members, represented by IBEW Local 3, are able to garner a majority of the votes cast but things are looking bleak.

    (NOTE: This hasn’t hit the media yet but I did see a copy of a letter from Spectrum dated from today stating this)

  3. Timmy

    Starting today, for the first time ever, retail buyers of municipal bonds will find out how much they paid their broker on their buy or sell trades in muni bonds. This amount will be disclosed on trade confirmations sent to the investors. The Municipal Standards Rule-making Board (MSRB) the self-regulatory organization made up of muni broker dealers that governs much of the municipal finance business, was formed in 1975 by an act of Congress. Since then and up to about 2010 (45 years), the SEC explicitly asked the MSRB to provide disclosure of bond “markups” at least 6 times. In about 1993, SEC Chair Arthur Levitt threw a tantrum that (eventually) lead to the first creation of an electronic database of muni bond trades (the database known as EMMA, developed in the early 2000’s) but the disclosure of trade markups was still avoided until now. The opacity of muni bond market during this period meant that retail investors could only depend on their broker to find out what their bond was worth (at least before the creation of EMMA) and this likely transferred many billions from the pocket of the retail investors to their brokers.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I suspect Saban would still not support a guy like Sanders if Sanders joined the IDF today. He might have one issue that he likes, but I suspect he has more.

      As far as “The Onion,” I thought the consensus was Saban has shockingly become disinterested after Hillary lost, and the new union might be giving the writers more freedom of expression than in recent years.

  4. Robert Hahl

    Strumin’ and pickin’

    Kate Wolf – Green Eyes

    James Taylor – Sweet Baby James (Live 1971)

    Jorma Kaukonen and Ruthie Foster – Long Time Gone – Live at Fur Peace Ranch

    The Broken Circle Breakdown Ending Scene – Sand Mountain

    Doc Watson – CyprusGrove

    Chris Smither – Train Home

    Richard Thompson – 1000 years of popular music

      1. ambrit

        I almost forgot. If it’s banjo we’re looking for, besides the likes of John Hartford, Tony Trishka or Bela Fleck, there’s always the Led Zeppelin version of “Gallows Pole.”
        Hear, from when giants played amongst us: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSZca1Q9IWA
        Now, if it’s flat pickin you need, Almost anything from Robert Fripp, especially the ‘Discilpline’ period.
        Oh well. There is so much good music floating about in the ether.

      2. audrey jr

        Thanks so much for that flashback, ambrit. I really love “London Homesick Blues” and “Up Against the Wall.” I have them on vinyl and you just reminded me how I need to quickly get a turntable back into my life. Good ol’ Jerry Jeff..

        1. ambrit

          Yep, Jerry Jeff and Gary P Nunn, and Kinky Friedman and his Texas Jewboys and The Outlaws and Townes VanZandt and Gram Parsons, Michael Martin Murphy, and, and, and….
          Oh H—! New Riders of the Purple Sage, Pure Prairie League, Commander Cody, Bob Wills even!
          There are some really good turntables available now. Check the thrift stores too, especially the lesser known and religious run places for older good turntables. I got a very nice Fischer turntable with separate amplifier and receiver modules at a Homes of Grace thrift store for $20.00 USD, the lot.

          1. Edward E

            She could do so much with a piano. I play the ? like lightning, never strike the same place twice

  5. JohnnyGL


    Still fighting the fight on superdelegates. This one is really amazing (but not surprising) to me and really shows us who the Democratic Party is. There’s no intellectually honest defense of superdelegates other than, “the party leadership would like to maintain a veto option in a somewhat close presidential primary rate”.

    On another level, it shows that the party has little confidence, right now, in its ability to ‘manufacture consent’ among its base. It barely pulled off the trick in 2016 and that required a combination of media blackouts and/or overt advocacy, some chicanery at the state level with voter registrations in a closed-primary context, and even closing polling places. They had to drive down the turnout to maintain a comfortable lead as there were doubts about how the race might have turned out if Bernie ever got within touching distance.

    (The pledged delegate result was around 54-46 for HRC, I suspect the trickery might have padded the lead from maybe 52-48 or so. But even that was uncomfortably close. Keep in mind, momentum was consistently, but unevenly, with Sanders. The party didn’t want to have to push the ‘eject’ button, but I think they’d have done it. Sanders had so little party support, it was remarkable.)

    2020 is going to be a different story.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The question for 2020 is whether Hillary’s selfish supporters will act selfishly and stay home when they don’t get their way, or go for another party’s candidate, and take the ‘low information voters’ (they are not) who vote straight ticket (and are often taken for granted) with them.

      That would be selfishly destructive.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Wasn’t the estimate that 25% of Hillary’s primary supporters voted for Saint McCain in 2008? We know who the Clinton people are when they aren’t just dyed in the wool Democratic party loyalists.

      2. johnnygl

        I think the big factors going into either 2018 midterms or 2020 presidential could/will be…

        1) recession and/or stock market crash. A lot of savvy market watchers think we’ve peaked. Fed is getting rather bloody-minded about rates. They see wages rising and don’t like it…even if landlords are eating it up, not workers.

        2) another bad hurricane season might get large numbers of people to break on climate change. It might get insurance companies to rethink their policies, too, especially if financial markets take a tumble.

        3) russia-gate and/or DOJ-FBI investigations. This could swing either way, and likely not the way pundits think it will. It could also fizzle out.

        4) korea negotiation. Trump supporters have gotten way ahead of themselves praising trump’s negotiating skills. I can’t see n. Korea giving up nukes and i can’t see usa pulling out troops.

        4) i can’t see a mideast flare-up swinging things either way since both parties are in agreement.

        1. neo-realist

          4) If the winner of the democratic presidential primary comes out in favor of the abrogated Iran nuclear deal (supported by Dems and much of the MIC) and we somehow get into a shooting or bombing war with Iran and we incur numerous casualties, that may have the potential of blowing back on the GOP.

  6. Lee

    Big Brother is Watching Your Slingshot:

    Bought replacement bands for a wrist rocket slingshot today. Haven’t used the thing in years and decided to do some plinking with the grand-kids. I was shocked to discover that I had to present ID and have my details collected by state of CA to buy this item costing $4.99 and consisting of a few inches of surgical tubing and a patch of fake leather. This is the kind of nanny state pettiness that makes me want to join the NRA, vote for Trump and buy an assault rifle. Just kidding….sort of.

    1. Kurt Sperry

      Half inch ball bearings in a wrist rocket plus a few dozen hours of practice can make a pretty serious combination.

      Not that I’m OK with the nanny state BS.

    2. ambrit

      Yes. It’s the defining down of deviancy. Assault rifles are for mass armies and fake badasses. Your real social deviant goes for a bolt action. As the telephone ad said; “Reach out and touch somebody.”

    3. HotFlash

      Hmm. Leather for sure and maybe even surgical tubing are still available without ID, neh?

  7. crittermom

    What?! You had to show ID to buy slingshot supplies? Good grief.

    I was an ace with the homemade kind as a kid. I’ve never had any luck with the wrist rockets, tho’. I seem to injure myself, instead.
    I’ve been seriously wanting to put one together using a deer antler instead of a limb, & begin practicing.
    I saw some for sale several years back & have wanted one ever since.

    I suspect they don’t have those laws in NM, but who knows?
    I would’ve never thought they had such a law in CA!
    I must now wonder if it requires ID to purchase a pitchfork, too?

    So much is seriously warped in our country currently…

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      boys have been into “injuns” and such since they were little(I’ve Cherokee ancestry, so it’s ok, no?lol)
      we’ve made atlatls and brush shelters and bow-drills and I recently made a Bolo, with some waxed cord and 3-3/4″ nuts.
      youngest is a natural. I hit myself in the head.
      and did you see the slings the Palestinians were using to fling rocks and return the tear gas?
      Perhaps the West won’t be won with a registered slingshot.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      starting in 2003, and the invasion of iraq, I began an 8 year research frenzy into the American Right…all the source material, and lurking in various duckblinds(ala Jane Goodall) in many Righty web spaces.All to answer the question: “who the hell are these people?!”( i had to read all the canonical “Liberal/Left/Progressive” stuff, too, for balance…and learned it’s all convoluted and incestuous and that hypocrisy reigns, see: cold war)
      The last enclave I studied was Moldbug(and by extension, De Maistre and Hoppe).
      CEO as Monarch, Dark Enlightenment, Hestia Society, etc.
      That’s a scary bunch, right there…and as you indicate, hard to slog through, given the logorrheah.
      I’m not too worried about powerful people adopting the full bore Moldbug Project(save for Thiel), but I worry about those sorts of antienlightenment ideas being in the air at silicon valley soirees and cuddle puddles, where the general flavor seeps into the minds of sundry power players.
      It’s hard enough to have discourse and dialog and argument with Randians and Hillarybots(let alone Teabillies and Christofascists)…with these folks, it’s nigh impossible: following Moldbug’s example, they have taken the Gish Gallop to it;s illogical extreme.
      Fie! Fie!

    2. Harold

      It’s not a real critique, though. Very disappointing, though the author is a better writer and more knowledgeable than Moldbug, at least from my cursory impression of Moldbug’s barely readable rantings.

  8. The Rev Kev

    Today’s story – Trump’s Family Applauds Zionist Massacre Of Palestinians In Gaza at


    Apparently that wasn’t enough fuel for all the fires so Netanyahu added in his speech a bit about an Undivided Jerusalem. As in, kick out the Palestinians eventually. Maybe isolate Al-Aqsa Mosque and some time down the track, if the Ultra-Orthodox have their way, demolish it to make way for the rebuilding of the original Temple. Not so unlikely that last bit. They have already made all the paraphernalia to go into the rebuilt Temple.

    1. Edward E

      Such small hands for such a large amount of blood… how about we move his Fouke’ n White House over there.

  9. Wukchumni

    Saw our first black bear of the year yesterday up in the higher climes of the National Park, a 8 month old tan-brown cub that passed the road in front of us. It took until mid September to see the 1st of 6 last year.

    Before the drought i’d see 30-35 a year like clockwork, I hope we’ll get back to something along the lines of that.

Comments are closed.