2:00PM Water Cooler 5/15/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I need to add some material on Pennsylvania, so please check back. –lambert UPDATE 2:44PM All done!

UPDATE Oopsie, wrong HTML file! Replaced….


“NAFTA math may not add up to more U.S. auto jobs” [Reuters]. “New math to determine what qualifies as vehicle content, what limits apply to allow tariff-free auto imports and how long companies would have to comply under a new NAFTA agreement will likely not move the needle for Detroit automakers in particular, industry executives and supply chain experts said. Automakers are unlikely to uproot billions of dollars of investments in plants and supply chains. And those that cannot comply with standards for passenger cars could simply pay tariffs of around $800 to $900 per vehicle and buy low-cost parts from Asia to offset the cost, industry experts said.”

“US Business Groups Bash Trump Tariffs as China Talks Intensify” [Industry Week]. “About 120 firms and industry groups are scheduled to testify at a hearing beginning Tuesday on the administration’s plan to impose tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods. So many groups signed up that the U.S. Trade Representative’s Office extended the hearing by two days until Thursday…. Companies including U.S. Steel Corp., Best Buy Co., and General Electric Co., as well as lobby groups such as the National Retail Federation, Consumer Technology Association and National Association of Manufacturers, are set to testify this week. While they’re generally supportive of U.S. action to level the playing field on trade and investment with China, many want the talks to focus on resolving differences rather than the pursuit of tariffs.” I’m not sure these companies are as nicey-nice when dealing with their suppliers….

“If Trump’s ZTE tweets are any indication, the administration seems to be moving toward short-term dealmaking with China. The Wall Street Journal reported that the two sides are closing in on a deal that would trade U.S. relief for ZTE with China promising to back off tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods” [Politico]. “An administration official familiar with Mnuchin’s thinking said the secretary, who has become Trump’s point person in the talks, may view a cumulative number of smaller deals that accomplish some of the bigger asks the U.S. laid out during a recent trip to Beijing as representing systemic reform. But that may do little to satisfy the hard liners that want to see Beijing take real reforms.”

“Exports from California Ports Surged in April on Trade Unease” [Wall Street Journal]. “Shipments from the biggest U.S. West Coast ports to Asia are picking up steam in a sign that companies are stepping up orders ahead of anticipated new trade restrictions. Loaded container exports from the neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach jumped 12% year-over-year in April from a year ago to 306,503 20-foot equivalent units, or TEUs, a shipping-industry measure of shipment volume. That made April the biggest month for exports at the largest seaport complex in North America since March 2017. ‘Anxiety is driving the export trade,’ said Jock O’Connell, an international trade economist based in California. China represents roughly half of the exports that move through Southern California’s ports, Mr. O’Connell said.”



“Joe Biden: the liberal everyman spoiling for a fight with Trump as 2020 looms” [Guardian]. “Biden may have to jostle for position with Kamala Harris, Sanders and other senators, former attorney general Eric Holder [BWA-HA-HA-HA, please kill me now], ex-Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, former New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu and Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti. Even so, Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist and senior adviser to past presidential campaigns, said: “The most likely person, in my view, is Joe Biden. He has the broadest support in the party. He can speak across the constituencies and he’s well liked. That’s important.'” EIght-time loser Bob Shurm gives Joe Biden the Kiss of Death. So awesome

“In wide-open 2020 presidential field, Democrats are road-testing messages — and trying to redefine their party” [WaPo]. This pudding has no theme. –Winston Churchill

“Every Democrat Should Support Bernie Sanders’s New Labor Bill” [New York Magazine]. Lol no.


“The Numbers Say Dems Still Have an Edge—But Not a Huge One” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “The bottom line is that Republicans are in a very challenging situation in terms of House control, uphill but hardly impossible. In the Senate, Republicans have their worries, but they still have a decent advantage in terms of maintaining their majority.” In other words, the polls are all over the place; this is a good review of them.

“Is the 2018 Democratic Wave Receding?” [Ed Kilgore, New York Magazine]. “There’s no universally accepted definition of a “wave election,” but every definition is usually characterized by party gains, not some arbitrary objective like control of one or both congressional chambers. The most frequently cited definition of a “wave” is from veteran election forecaster Stu Rothenberg: an election where there is a net gain or loss of 20 House seats. He doesn’t include Senate seats in his definition at all, for the very good reason that only a third of that chamber is at stake in any given election, which means the partisan landscape can vary enormously. The one for 2018 is so bad for Democrats that actual losses this year are entirely consistent with a national “wave” that delivers the House gavel to Nancy Pelosi, as David Wasserman recently pointed out.” (I use Rothenberg’s rankings from Inside Elections for my worksheets.)

UPDATE “Rothenberg’s Dangerous Dozen Open House Seats” [Stuart Rothenberg, Inside Elections]. “Yes, it’s time for another of my ‘dangerous dozen open House seats’ columns, which I have been writing since shortly after the establishment of the Jamestown Settlement (or so it seems).This cycle’s version has a plethora of seats to choose from, given the 38 Republican and 19 Democratic seats where an incumbent is not seeking re-election, either because he or she is retiring or running for a different office…. Here is my list, in descending order of vulnerability. The first 10 districts on the list look very likely to flip party control.” Only 10?

UPDATE PA: “5/15 PoliticsPA Playbook” [Politics PA]. Huge link round-up, useful for Pennsylvanians voting today.

UPDATE PA: “Five Pennsylvania primaries to watch on Tuesday” [The Hill]. PA-07, hol moly. Lots of outside money, including Emily’s List ($370,000), Tom Steyer ($100,000), “United Together” ($350,000),

UPDATE PA: Our Revolution endorsements:

PA: “Pennsylvania Voters May Hold Key to Democrats’ Hopes in November” [Bloomberg]. “Trump narrowly won Pennsylvania in 2016, but the state has two of the main ingredients that could benefit Democrats in this year’s closest House races: suburban swing districts and an abundance of female candidates in a year when women are showing unprecedented levels of political engagement. Nine of the state’s 18 House races are rated as competitive…. Twenty women, all but one of them a Democrat, are running in Pennsylvania’s primary, in some cases against each other, to break into what is now an all-male congressional delegation. Of the 10 Democrats vying for the nomination in the strongly Democratic 5th District near Philadelphia, six are women.” As I keep saying, the Daughters of the Confederacy instigated the myth of the lost cause.” It’s good that women are running, but gender, as Sanders says, is “not enough.”

New Cold War

UPDATE “Two Colleagues Contradict Brennan’s Denial of Reliance on Dossier” [RealClearInvestigations]. “

Former CIA Director John Brennan’s insistence that the salacious and unverified Steele dossier was not part of the official Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian interference in the 2016 election is being contradicted by two top former officials. Recently retired National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers stated in a classified letter to Congress that the Clinton campaign-funded memos did factor into the ICA. And James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Obama, conceded in a recent CNN interview that the assessment was based on ‘some of the substantive content of the dossier.’ Without elaborating, he maintained that ‘we were able to corroborate’ certain allegations. These accounts are at odds with Brennan’s May 2017 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee that the Steele dossier was ‘not in any way used as the basis for the intelligence community’s assessment’ that Russia interfered in the election to help elect Donald Trump. Brennan has repeated this claim numerous times, including in February on ‘Meet the Press.’

” Hmm. Factional infighting in the intelligence community?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Danger of Constant Impeachment Talk” [Larry Tribe, Wall Street Journal]. “The 2016 presidential election was the first campaign in American history marked by credible threats of impeachment against whoever won. This was partly because both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had long been shadowed by charges of corruption, criminality and conspiracy. But it also reflected a more unnerving development: the emergence of a permanent presidential impeachment campaign.” After two solid years of yammering “Russia! Russia! Russia!’ and “Impeach! Impeach! Impeach!” the Democrats have decided they need to pivot to… something, and so you see this story, and other stories about what exactly to pivot to. (Pelosi actually resurrected Schumer’s lomg-forgotten “Better Deal,” which is pretty amazing when you consider relations between Senate and House.

“Va. election officials assigned 26 voters to the wrong district. It might’ve cost Democrats a pivotal race.” [WaPo]. “Last year’s race for state delegate in Newport News went down in Virginia history for its razor-thin margin. Republican David E. Yancey won on Election Day by 10 votes; Democrat Shelly Simonds beat him by a single vote in a recount. Then, a judicial panel declared a tie, so officials picked a name out of a bowl to determine a winner, and it was Yancey. Now, a review of voter registration records and district maps by The Washington Post has found more than two dozen voters — enough to swing the outcome of that race — cast ballots in the wrong district, because of errors by local elections officials… The misassigned voters lived in a predominantly African American precinct that heavily favored Democrats in the fall, raising the possibility that they would have delivered the district to Simonds had they voted in the proper race.” Eesh. Where do these people think they are? Brooklyn?

“Democrats in a New York County Refuse to Pledge Loyalty to Candidates Just Because Party Endorses Them” [The Intercept]. “A county Democratic committee in New York voted down an extreme proposal on Tuesday night that would have required all members to pledge loyalty to candidates endorsed by the state, local, or national party.” Loyalty to what? Honestly, I’ve been taking a look at the Democrats institutionally in my worksheet series, and I’m damned if I can say what the “Democrat Party” really is.

UPDATE “The American Renaissance Is Already Happening” [David Brooks, New York Times]. “People who read this column know my political ideology: I’m a Whig. If progressives generally believe in expanding government to enhance equality, and libertarians try to reduce government to expand freedom, Whigs seek to use limited but energetic government to enhance social mobility…. There’s a promising effort called the Modern Whig Party trying to revive the movement, but until last week I was under the impression that there were basically only 24 of us left. And then I read James and Deborah Fallows’s book, ‘Our Towns.’ Now I realize that Whigs are the most important political force in America today. It’s just that the people who are Whigs don’t call themselves Whigs and they are all on the local level. Over the past five years, the Fallowses piloted their own small plane to dozens of cities, from Eastport, Me., to Redlands, Calif. They found that as the national political climate has deteriorated, small cities have revived. As the national scene has polarized, people in local communities are working effectively to get things done. Their book is a group portrait of 42 of these success stories. To anybody with a Whig mind-set, the tales have a familiar ring.” I wonder how Eastport is doing on life expectancy

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, April 2018: “Consumer spending was weak in the first quarter and the first look at the second quarter is no better than moderate” [Econoday]. “Details throughout the report are mixed: furniture, which offers a reading on housing demand, extended recent strength with a 0.8 percent gain but restaurants, and their indication on discretionary spending, fell 0.3 percent but following a sharp gain in February. Apparel sales, which have been mixed, surged 1.4 percent but sales at department stores, which have been very weak, managed only a 0.2 percent gain. Building materials rose 0.4 percent in another positive sign for residential investment while nonstore retailers, the report’s strongest component, posted a solid 0.6 percent gain.” And: “The increase in April was at expectations, and sales in February and March were revised up” “[Calculated Risk]. But: “The unadjusted data shows that this month’s softness wiped out last month’s improvement in the rate of growth” [Econintersect]. “The relationship between year-over-year growth in inflation adjusted retail sales and retail employment do not correlate.”

Business Inventories, March 2018: “Business inventories came in lower than expected in March, at no change which is just below Econoday’s low estimate” [Econoday]. “Today’s report will trim back inventory contribution to the second estimate of first-quarter GDP but will be offset by this morning’s upward revisions to March and February retail sales which will help improve the contribution from consumer spending. For the second quarter, today’s report points to healthy conditions for the nation’s inventories which are ready to rise to meet continued strength in underlying demand.”

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, May 2018: “Awkward imbalances are smoothing out this month for Empire State’s manufacturing sample” [Econoday]. “New orders have been very strong in this report and picked up the pace in May’s report with a 7-point gain to 16.0. Unfilled orders did…. The 6-month outlook rebounded nearly 13 points to 31.1 and, though it still remains 13 points below March, the gain suggests that the sample is adjusting to tariff disruptions, whether immediate or in their assessment of longer term effects. The factory sector was a main driver of the economy going into March’s tariffs on steel and aluminum and this leadership, based at least on this report, seems to remain in place.” And: “I am not a fan of surveys – and this survey jumps around erratically – but has been relatively steady for the last year. Key internals in the report improved” [Econintersect].

Housing Market Index, May 2018: “Sentiment among the nation’s home builders is strong and moving higher this month” [Econoday]. “Home-builder confidence has been leveling in contrast to new home sales and permits which are both accelerating.”

Consumer Expectations: “April 2018 Consumer Expectations: Rising Inflation” [Econintersect]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data released the April 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which finds modest increases in short- and medium-term inflation expectations. Households’ year-ahead expectations of spending and home price growth also increased.”

Consumer Debt: “Consumers Skip More High-Rate Auto Payments Than During Crisis” [Bloomberg]. “The delinquency rate for subprime auto loans more than 60 days past due reached the highest since 1996 at 5.8 percent, according to March data, the most recent available from Fitch. That compares with default rate of around 5 percent during the financial crisis in 2008…. However, the volume of bond sales backed by these loans are likely to remain the same because banks and credit unions, many of whom are more risk-averse, don’t turn most of their loans into securities.”

Commodities: “Shale-drilling supply chains are spreading out as oil prices rise. Transport bottlenecks at the Permian Basin in the U.S. are sending the fracking business to more far-flung oil fields in Oklahoma and North Dakota where land is cheaper and pipeline capacity has improved. The WSJ’s Rebecca Elliott reports that pipeline construction in the Permian hasn’t kept up with explosive growth, and labor and materials constraints are also weighing down profits. The expansion will push demand for tight transport operations to reach the new drilling sites. U.S. rail carloads of crushed stone, sand and gravel—much of which is frac sand—were up 8.6% in April and already are on pace for a record this year” [Wall Street Journal].

Retail: “The stores that have thrived amid the retail apocalypse” [MarketWatch]. “A record-breaking 12,000 retail stores are expected to close this year, according to data analysis firm Cushman & Wakefield, due to Americans’ love affair with the convenience of e-commerce… Despite the recent retail carnage, many mom-and-pop shops have found a way to thrive. These small retailers are maximizing new shopping trends to encourage strong sales and customer interactions by pairing websites and storefronts in complementary ways.” “Many.” No numbers in this story, heartwarming though it is.

Transportation: “Pedestrian Deaths Are Rising. One Big Reason? SUVs” [Governing‘]. “‘Pedestrians have a higher risk of death or serious injury when they are struck by an SUV compared to a car,’ says Jessica Cicchino, one of the authors of the IIHS report. ‘SUVs are higher off the ground than cars, they’re stiffer, and they have blunter geometry in the front compared with the more sloping front ends of cars. These features of SUVs can lead to more injuries of all types when a pedestrian is struck by an SUV, especially injuries to the chest and head.’… But it looks like SUVs will continue to gain popularity in the coming years. Ford Motors has announced plans to phase out U.S. sales of nearly all of its cars by 2020; the only models it will continue to sell are the Mustang and a soon-to-be-released Focus Active. In two years, the company predicted, almost 90 percent of the Ford portfolio in North America will be trucks, utilities and commercial vehicles. Other big automakers are making similar shifts.”

Transportation: “AAR about-face on longer trucks traced to short-line influence, shipper group says” [DC Velocity]. “The Association of American Railroads’ (AAR) recent move to oppose any legislation allowing longer twin-trailers to operate on the National Highway System was not influenced by its core membership of Class I railroads but by short-line and regional carriers that have fought changes to the 36-year-old law, an advocacy group supporting longer combination vehicles said today.”

Tech: “Apple hit with class action suit over MacBook, MacBook Pro butterfly switch keyboard failures” [Apple Insider]. “According to the filing, “thousands” of MacBook and MacBook Pro owners have experienced some type of failure with Apple’s butterfly keyboard, thus rendering the machine useless. Specifically, the suit claims the design is such that small amounts of dust or debris impede normal switch behavior, causing keystrokes to go unregistered…. The suit seek damages, legal fees and demands Apple not only publicly disclose the keyboard design flaw, but pay to remedy or replace defective units. The latter demand includes reimbursement for the purchase of replacement laptops.” I’d consider calling this suit frivolous, if I hadn’t heard repair technicians talk about how Apple has crapified its laptops’ innards over time.

The Bezzle: “Uber will no longer force victims of sexual assault into arbitration” [CNN]. “The rideshare company said Tuesday it will no longer force into arbitration passengers who allege that they have been sexually assaulted or harassed by drivers — something Uber says was previously required under its terms of service…. The change comes two weeks after CNN reported the results of its investigation, which found at least 103 Uber drivers in the United States who have been accused of sexually assaulting or abusing their passengers in the past four years. The drivers were arrested, are wanted by police, or have been named in civil suits related to the incidents. It was the first time that numbers have been put to the issue…. [T]he numbers suggest that there may be many more overall incidents of sexual assault than the 103 cases found in the investigation.”

The Bezzle: “Vomit, booze and nudity: Can you stop dodgy neighbourhood Airbnb rentals?” [ABC Australia]. “Neighbours of a luxury beachfront mansion-turned party house in Adelaide’s south say they are at tipping point after three cars were set on fire outside the property on Sunday morning.”

The Bezzle: “As A Rare Profitable Unicorn, Airbnb Appears To Be Worth At Least $38 Billion” [Forbes]. “Airbnb allows bookings at listings in more than 18,000 cities across 191 countries – a scale that it was able to achieve over just a few years because of its role as just an intermediary (or broker) connecting people looking to rent out a living space, and those looking for a place to stay. As Airbnb does not require investment in any real estate – unlike many hotel companies such as Hyatt – its growth is purely dependent on the number of hosts and guests it can attract on its platform. The company makes money by charging the host as well as the guest a percentage of the booking cost as a service fee. Currently, the company charges hosts a service fee of 3% of the booking amount, while the service fee for guests ranges from 0-20% of the booking amount. However, the biggest hurdle to Airbnb’s growth is restrictions imposed by legislative bodies, municipalities as well as communities on the use of lodgings in a particular locality for short-term rental purposes. Over recent years, though, Airbnb has done well to engage with a number of stakeholders to push regulations and rules which are aimed at making short-term renting easier. A key factor that separates Airbnb from a bulk of the multi-billion dollar startups (“unicorns”) is that it is now cash flow positive, and has seen a positive EBITDA figure for the past two years.” So they have deep pockets, then?

The Bezzle: “In a recent paper, we analyzed affiliate marketing on YouTube and Pinterest. We found that on both platforms, only about 10% of all content with affiliate links is disclosed to users as required by the FTC’s endorsement guidelines” [Freedom to Tinker]. “Amazon’s terms and conditions seem contradictory to their Program Policies. On the one hand, Amazon binds its participants to the FTC’s endorsement guidelines but on the other, Amazon severely constrains the disclosures content creators can make about their participation in the program. Further, researchers are still figuring out which types of disclosures are effective from a user perspective.”

The Bezzle: “To Understand the Future of Tesla, Look to the History of GM” [Harvard Business Review]. “In all of his companies, Elon Musk has used his compelling vision of a future transformed to capture the imagination of customers and, equally important, of Wall Street, raising the billions of dollars to make his vision a reality. Yet, as Durant’s story typifies, one of the challenges for visionary founders is that they often have a hard time staying focused on the present when the company needs to transition into relentless execution. Just as Durant had multiple interests, Musk is not only Tesla’s CEO and product architect, overseeing all product development, engineering, and design. At SpaceX (his rocket company) he’s CEO and lead designer overseeing the development and manufacturing of advanced rockets and spacecraft. He’s also the founder at Boring Company (the tunneling company) and cofounder and chair of OpenAI. All of these companies are doing groundbreaking innovation, but even Musk only has 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s Fundraising Options Get Thornier” [Wall Street Journal]. “The time for Tesla Inc. to raise cash is fast approaching, say many analysts and investors, but the company’s fundraising options are fraught with complications.”

The Bezzle: “Musk Fires Back Over ‘Super Messed Up’ Crash Coverage” [Industry Week]. “A woman in South Jordan, Utah inadvertently rammed her black Model S into a fire department truck stopped at a red light at a speed of 60 mph. The Autopilot system, which uses sensors to assist in detecting nearby objects, was engaged, though drivers are required to always pay attention. The 28-year-old woman later admitted that she was looking at her phone at the time of the crash.” “Are required”? How, exactly?

The Bezzle: “Tesla Is Seeing an Exodus of High-Profile Executives” [The Street]. “Matthew Schwall, who had been the director of field performance engineering at Tesla, has left the company to join rival Waymo… ‘”He [Schwall] joins a long list of Tesla Autopilot executives who have (mostly) gone to Google/Waymo…’ says auto industry analyst Anton Wahlman. Schwall’s departure comes hot on the heels of Tesla’s senior vice president of engineering Doug Field deciding to step away from the company to spend more time with his family [snicker]” [The Street]. “With Tesla trying to ramp production of its Model 3 in the hopes of reaching profitability later this year, the exits of top engineers should be a concern for investors…. Keep in mind, Tesla only has three executives on its management team. The last thing it needs to witness is what looks to be a talent exodus under that thin team.”

Concentration: “Pentagon used contracts that could suppress competition, watchdog finds” [Federal Times]. “Forty percent of Pentagon contracts were indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contracts, which potentially limit competition, a government watchdog agency reports. Of the contracts, three-quarters were made to a single contractor, rather than multiple contractors, according to a Government Accountability Office report published Friday. GAO relied on data from 2015 through 2017 for the report…. The report comes as Defense Department officials defend their decision to award a potentially multibillion-dollar cloud contract — Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure — to a single vendor. In this case, they pointed to the current state of the commercial marketplace, existing acquisition laws and battlefield requirements as critical components. Also last month, the U.S. Air Force selected Lockheed Martin to design and prototype a new hypersonic cruise missile, as part of a broad Pentagon push to kick-start America’s hypersonic arsenal — a single IDIQ contract worth as much as $928 million.”

Five Horsemen: “Amazon is down 2 percent in early trading as US retail sales weaken” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 15 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-pania index gained a tick to 67 (complacency) as new highs exceeded new lows yesterday and the put-call ratio receded to 0.88” [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 14 2018

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Let’s see if events in Jerusalem give this index a bump next week.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“This allegedly wasn’t the first time this white Yale student called the cops on a person of color” [CNN]. “This week’s incident at the Ivy League university in Connecticut is among several in recent weeks in which a white person has called police on people of color over seemingly harmless acts. The cases have happened at a Philadelphia Starbucks, a Nordstrom Rack in Missouri, Colorado State University, an LA Fitness in New Jersey, an Airbnb in California and a golf course in Pennsylvania.” Missed the golf course one….


“Mittelstand guns: Made in Germany, fired in America” [Handelsblatt]. “Mowing down school kids, concertgoers and other innocent people is a quintessentially American homicidal tradition that annually devours more lives than terrorism. For many of the sick, angry assailants, the weapon of choice is a military-style, semi-automatic assault rifle, purchased over the counter and made in Germany, where such assault-type weapons are banned for civilian use. German gunmakers Heckler & Koch and Sig Sauer are major suppliers of semi-automatic assault rifles designed to rapidly fire ammunition that can kill or maim people. While their primary customers for these guns are armies, the firms have also tapped into lucrative markets in the civilian sector, especially in gun-obsessed America.”


“Extreme weather event attribution science and climate change litigation: an essential step in the causal chain?” [Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law]. From the abstract: “As climate-related loss and damage mount, there is growing interest in the role of law in dealing with the complex and multi-scalar problem of climate change… [This article] is an interdisciplinary and cross-jurisdictional analysis of the emerging science of extreme weather event attribution (which analyses the human impact on extreme weather events), and the implications this new science may have for the law, litigation and the scope of the duty of care of a range of actors. We suggest that the science of event attribution may become a driver of litigation, as it shifts understanding of what weather is expected and, relevantly for law, foreseeable. This may have an impact on the duties of government actors as well as private parties.”

“How earthquakes are induced” [Science]. “Both for fluid injection in the midwestern United States and for gas extraction at the Groningen field, a spectrum of evidence underscores the central role of preexisting faults and their stress level before subsurface human activities. Mitigation strategies to limit induced earthquakes that solely rely on operational parameters, such as the injected or produced volume, can be used as a first approximation, but much added value lies in subsurface characterization of fault populations and ambient stress. In the case of poor prior knowledge of the subsurface, continuous monitoring of seismicity can help illuminate unmapped faults. For this exercise, recent advances in artificial intelligence should be key to optimize real-time earthquake detection and location during operations. The state of stress along these preexisting faults can be defined by hydromechanical modeling, calibrated by measurements that are independent of operational parameters, as, for example, surface deformation derived from InSAR.”

Police State Watch

“Lawrence County, Tenn. sheriff and captain arrested, sheriff accused of using inmate labor for personal gain” [WHNT]. “[Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and investigators with the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury] say they uncovered evidence that from 2015 through 2017, Sheriff Brown allowed inmates to be used for labor by various county employees at their personal residence, or for personal business. Investigators say Sheriff Brown used his position to circumvent the bond process for some arrested individuals, releasing them from jail without requiring them to pay for the secured bond as ordered by a judge.”

Class Warfare

“The tyranny of optimization” [The Week]. “To say something like 30 seconds wasted in a day adds up to 125 misspent minutes over the course of a work year and to an untold number of weeks or even months of vanished productivity when multiplied across thousands of employees is nonsense. Human activity doesn’t work that way. One person’s action or inaction is not an undifferentiated input that combines coolly and mechanically with identical inputs from hundreds of others. We are all different people doing different things at different times. The fact that we are able to coordinate our actions in order to accomplish the infinite number of things our bizarre species gets up to is remarkable enough.” Capitalism: lol no.

“Puerto Rico: The Teacher Uprising the Media Is Ignoring” [Labor Notes]. “First they said 305 schools were to be closed, then they lowered that to 283, now it’s 266. There are 1,100 schools on the whole island. They want to shut down almost a third of the schools…. They want to convert 10 percent of the schools to charters in August. They will base those decisions on the standardized testing which begins on Monday.”

“Robots may be taking on more tasks, but researchers say that doesn’t necessarily include killing jobs. As companies automate more jobs…. the increased productivity is spurring demand for positions that rely on decidedly human attributes like creativity and judgment. Auto-parts manufacturer Robert Bosch GmbH is hiring more workers to test parts after it boosted output by moving one step—pulling hot parts from an oven—over to machines” [Wall Street Journal]. “The new jobs often require different skills, and overall gains in job creation may not help individuals like Asian garment and footwear workers whose jobs are threatened by sophisticated ‘sewbots.’ But in Europe, automated manufacturing has given rise to new job categories, including workers who test and repair assembly-line robots or design combined human-robot workflow like those used in a growing number of logistics facilities.”

News of The Wired

“The singularity is not near: The intellectual fraud of the “Singularitarians'” [Corey Pein].

“AI recreates activity patterns that brain cells use in navigation” [Nature]. “The collaboration with neuroscientists has inspired AI research, says DeepMind researcher and study co-author Andrea Banino. ‘But right now it is purely basic research into making intelligent algorithms, and not about applications,’ he says.” “Right now” is donig a lot of work, there…….

“A Chemist Shines Light on a Surprising Prime Number Pattern” [Quanta]. “in three new papers — one by Torquato, Zhang and the computational chemist Fausto Martelli that was published in the Journal of Physics A in February, and two others co-authored with de Courcy-Ireland that have not yet been peer-reviewed — the researchers report that the primes, like crystals and unlike liquids, produce a diffraction pattern…. The main advantage of the prime diffraction pattern, said Jonathan Keating of the University of Bristol, is that ‘it is evocative’ and ‘makes a connection with different ways of thinking.’ But the esteemed number theorist Andrew Granville of the University of Montreal called Torquato and company’s work ‘pretentious’ and ‘just a regurgitation of known ideas.'” Infinite are the arguments of mages….

“Time travellers welcome at Hawking’s memorial service” [Phys.org]. “The world-renowned cosmologist’s three children Robert, Lucy and Tim are offering up to 1,000 free tickets to the public through a ballot system, run by the Stephen Hawking Foundation. Applicants need to give their birth date—but eagle-eyed fans of the man who dedicated his life’s work to unravelling the mysteries of the universe spotted that it can be any day up to December 31, 2038. London travel blogger IanVisits was among those who noticed the quirk that allows people born more than 20 years into the future to apply. ‘Professor Hawking once threw a party for time travellers, to see if any would turn up if he posted the invite after the party,’ he wrote. ‘None did, but it seems perfect that the memorial website allows people born in the future to attend the service.'”

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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):

TH writes: “This Stinging Nettle is just one of the many weeds that popped up after the rains in the little Peppperwood Park next to Rancho Palos Verdes’ City Hall.” I had stinging nettles in my front garden, and at first I rather liked them, but they were too invasive even for me!

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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. kukuzel

    You can make delicious soup with stinging nettles. Use just as you would use spinach. You can dry it too and keep for many months over the winter. It’s really good for you.

    1. Edward E

      Thanks, I might try some of that for next crop rotation. We have two rocks to one dirt here in the Ozarks. Crop rotation involves flipping the rocks over and planting on the other side. But over in Arkiefornia they gave up. I see why they built towns there, the big flat rocks are just too big to flip over or plow.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Our neighbors grow them in their greenhouse, so they can eat them year round.

    3. Lee

      My first encounter with a stinging nettle was when taking a careless pee in the bushes on the side of a road in Oregon. Ouch!

    4. ArcadiaMommy

      Quelites, also known as purslane or lambs ears is also an amazing “weed”. The whole plant is edible. It drives my kids crazy when I make them eat weeds out of the yard.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Lamb’s quarters, Chenopodium album, is another really good, nutritious weed. Like spinach, but richer tasting. And red-root amaranth, which is blander. Both are common garden weeds.

    5. HotFlash

      Stinging Nettle acts a a coagulant for milk, for vegetarians who do not want to eat cheese that uses rennet (made from calves’ stomaches) . And weeds! Free food! I foraged some garlic mustard yesterday, it’s all cleaned and in the crisper now, will become pesto for our supper, any left over will just get tossed into the salad bowl. I got a couple of cups of dandelion blossoms today, I will hull and freeze them, get more tomorrow and make Dandelion Wine. Spring!!

      1. ambrit

        Mom says that her Dad made Dandelion Wine and his own beer. Craftspersonship!
        But, Spring?
        We went almost immediately from Winter to Summer here. It was in the sixties three weeks ago during the day. Now we’re seeing nineties during the day. Two days ago, my automobile thermometer, which I have checked for accuracy, it passed the test, read ninety-nine degrees Fahrenheit at three o’clock in the afternoon. Even for the urban heat sink that is our primary satellite shopping district, that is a bit much.
        Anyone else notice that the actual daily high temperature is exceeding the ‘predicted’ high temperature by five or six degrees consistently now? I’m thinking that the meteorological predictive algorithms are now out of date.

  2. Stephen V.

    Yes indeed they do tend to proliferate. I have had Farmers’ Market folk tell me they are eaten in the upper midwest, for example, in addition to their medicinal uses…

    1. laughingsong

      Yup, I’m an AFSCME member as is my husband, we both got mailers from the Freedom Foundation telling us we should not pay dues. Recycled them immediately.

    2. Arizona Slim

      I’m having the opposite problem — I’m trying to join a union. Have sent e-mails to both of the co-chairs of the local and …

      … crickets.

      I’ve tried contacting one of them before. Same result.

      1. Carey

        How about (he said naïvely) a citizen’s union, since our political parties will not advocate for the many?

        I was almost a union member, but Prop. 13 put paid to my job, and that chance.

        1. windsock

          Here in UK, Unite, a strong and militant union that is very pro-Corbyn, has community branches. Mine is very activist and we campaign on health, social security and housing as well as supporting industrial branch members in their disputes in our area.

      2. HotFlash

        Me too! I am self-employed, but the local Wobblies won’t have me — they say I need an employer, which I have, but it is me, not good enough they say. A major proportion of the IWW organization here is sex workers — so, do they have an employer? Cheesh!

    3. Huey Long

      Thanks for the link! I shared it with my brothers and sisters in the #countmein movement.

      I’m not surprised they’re going on a full court press immediately on the heels of Janus. There’s nothing the bosses fear more than organized workers and lately we’ve been making a lot of trouble from coast to coast.

    4. Big River Bandido

      I haven’t heard anything of such a campaign within the AFT. But if the upcoming Supreme Court decision allows it, I will have the national portion of my union dues diverted to my local chapter.

  3. Jim Haygood

    just 56% [of Airbnb listings] have carbon monoxide alarms

    For perspective,

    CPSC Commissioner Robert Adler said, “While about 95 percent of U.S. homes have at least one smoke alarm, only 42 percent have a working CO alarm.”


    Airbnb could counter that their average listing is way safer than the typical home. Just goes to show that statistics are slippery things in the hands of people with an agenda.

      1. Eureka Springs

        I judge airbnb against hotels. Well, thanks to airbnb, that is until I quit considering hotels at all. If I want to stay in a sardine can I’ll go get arrested or something.

        1. Summer

          I don’t know how important room size is when I travel. Unless the room is shared with someone I don’t want to sleep with.
          When I go somewhere, I judge the quality of the visit on how much time I don’t spend inside a room with the comforts of home. I could just stay at home for that. A bad hotel room is sometimes the kick in the pants needed to get OUT.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Cheap CO alarms may not work at all – my wife was badly poisoned, and the alarm never went off. Is there some sort of certification we should look for?

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Old CO detectors also don’t work well. Plus, a lot of people think that all smoke detectors have a CO detector, which they don’t. We went through a similar thing with a malfunctioning furnace, we were low grade sick for weeks and I had problems with memory and organization. We have a portable CO detector since we usually rent a VRBO place rather than stay in a hotel (kids, dogs and sports gear are not good in your average hotel, plus I hate eating out all the time). I have no faith that a hotel would be any better.

    2. Peter Pan

      My younger brother rented an Airbnb house. Natural gas stove, oven & heating system. No CO detectors, no smoke detectors & the heating system vented out underneath the master bedroom window.

      The main electrical panel wasn’t covered & many of the electrical outlets weren’t covered. The very slick wooden stairs didn’t have a handrail. That’s only a sample of the deficiencies that violated the county building code.

    1. Jim Haygood

      This is deja vu:


      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I know i was in no hurry to buy one before, and I am pretty confident I will not be in a long while.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        That is probably an expression of the typical Silicon Yuppie contempt for the “old obsolete backwards people” and their “old obsolete backwards industries”.

        After all, the Silicon Priesthood are able to Digitize the Face of God Itself.
        And those Michiganders . . . up there in their snow and potholes . . . still think that bending metal is a skill which requires knowledge. Whatta laff! What would those dumm midwesterners know about making cars?

  4. bhamdan

    Lambert I could be mistaken but this water cooler seems like deja vu all over again.

  5. Seth A Miller

    The Hickey case is a classic example of the charade under which rent stabilized tenants are evicted for “profiteering”, only to bring about the deregulation of their apartments, so that the landlord can go back to the business of profiteering. Moskowitz pretends to “fume” about Hickey’s bad behavior, but it is more likely that he regards it as a gift from heaven, since without it he would have to continue charging a regulated rent for the apartment.

    1. Gary

      I understand Moskowitz point of view. He does actually OWN the apartment. I have no problem with rent control to provide housing to long time tenants. Those tenants should not game the system because it hurts the ones that rely on the regulations. SNAP is to provide food for children. When people sell those food stamps to buy liquor and cigarettes and get caught, it hurts the majority that relies on it. It provides an excuse to do away with it all.

  6. dcblogger

    I keep thinking aboutMark Gisleson’s comment about the Minnesota DFL and I begin to think that we may be seeing a crack up of the Democratic party like the crack up of the British Liberal party

    In the Democratic party there was the Howard Dean/John Kerry fight, which imploded after Iowa, but the Dean faction kept organized because they felt there was something larger at stake than who got nominated. Then there was the CT Senate Democratic primary and the effort to take down Lieberman, which took 6 years longer than expectations. we saw it again in 2008 with Obama conning everyone into thinking he stood for real change. We saw it big time in 2016 with people liking Bernie because he has stood for these things so long and has a clear record. But this is much bigger than what you of Bernie Sanders. So I do not know what to think. Conventional wisdom is wrong and has been so for years. The problem is that much of the Democratic base accepts conventional wisdom and calling them Hillbots is not calculated to win them over.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, that was a very good comment and I wish I could dig deeper into it, because my gut take is that the same fracturing is taking place in California.

      It will also be interesting to see if Edwards wins in PA (and OR candidates generally).

      1. Buck Eschaton

        Being from Minnesota I should be following this closer, but I can’t help feeling very depressed by the MN Democratic Senate candidates. Klobuchar and then Tina Smith and Richard Painter (???). It must be the MN dailies pushing Painter because for the life of me (besides the Russian lunacy) I can’t see what one would see in him, he appears to be a rabid neo-conservative. Then for my Representative I’ve got Betty McCollum, who in one of the most liberal districts, doesn’t even seem to be for Medicare-for-all.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Affiliation with both “major” parties is still falling. “Independents” – everybody else – are a huge plurality, well over 40%. Gee, I wonder why?

      We don’t really have “major” parties any more, but the remnants still control our politics.

      1. Arizona Slim

        ISTR reading that Arizona is an Independent-majority state. Meaning that there are more of us than there are members of the two “major” parties. I think that the same thing is true in California.

        1. ArcadiaMommy

          There is a cult of right wing nonsense in AZ tho. I have talked with friends who are teachers, doctors, cops, parents, etc. that have gone bananas trying to explain why they are “Republicans” even though they don’t really support anything on the right wing agenda. My guess is that the so called independent in AZ is really an emotional voter who will vote against their own interests as long as there is an “R” next to the candidate or issue.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Not necessarily. Some of us Indies parted ways with the Democrats. And we avoid the “R” cult like the plague.

          2. Big River Bandido

            an emotional voter who will vote against their own interests as long as there is an “R”…

            This comment, in a nutshell, contains just the type of condescension that so repels the Democrats’ essential voters. Thomas Frank explained the phenomenon more thoroughly, but this comment is so much more pithy.

            1. ArcadiaMommy

              Repels potential democratic voters? Condescension? Hell I support their causes more than they do. Several teachers, cops and nurses (forgot nurses in original comment) that I am either related to or close friends with identify as Republicans, vote r no matter what, vilify “liberals” or any sort of non-austerity agenda and yet they are hurt by the agenda they swear by. These groups are all supported by unions btw. From personal experience, I realize it is difficult to separate yourself from an ideology that you believed was right but came to know was wrong.

              1. Big River Bandido

                The language implies that the speaker knows the target’s interests better than they themselves do.

                  1. ArcadiaMommy

                    Thank you. I want us all to have the bare minimum, which to me is safe housing, food, decent education, meaningful work, clean air/water, time to spend with family and friends, healthcare, and probably other stuff I forgot. Maybe the big river bandido can give me some suggestions on how to communicate with people who don’t behave in ways that support these goals. I can’t have this stuff if they don’t. These are my neighbors, friends and family.

                  2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                    That brings us to Huizi or Hui Shi and his conversation with Chuang Tzu (or Zhuangzi).

                    From Wikipedia:

                    Chuang Tzu and Hui Tzu were strolling along the dam of the Hao River when Chuang Tzu said, “See how the minnows come out and dart around where they please! That’s what fish really enjoy!”

                    Hui Tzu said, “You’re not a fish – how do you know what fish enjoy?”

                    Chuang Tzu said, “You’re not I, so how do you know I don’t know what fish enjoy?”

                    Hui Tzu said, “I’m not you, so I certainly don’t know what you know. On the other hand, you’re certainly not a fish ‑ so that still proves you don’t know what fish enjoy!”

                    Chuang Tzu said, “Let’s go back to your original question, please. You asked me how I know what fish enjoy ‑ so you already knew I knew it when you asked the question. I know it by standing here beside the Hao.”
                    — Zhuangzi, 17, tr. Watson 1968:188-9

                    1. Lambert Strether Post author

                      “Yes it is.”

                      “No it isn’t.”

                      It seems to me that defining interests (the classic formulation is “you need to”) is something that parents do to (for) children, or social superiors do to social inferiors.

                      Last I checked, it wasn’t the “bitter”/”cling to” “deplorables” in the flyover states who crashed the economy in 2008, or profited from the foreclosure crisis, or benefit from the landfills (having externalized the trucks, the stench, and the risk to the water supply) or the pipelines (earthquakes) or the hog lagoons (giant lakes of sh*t).

                      So who is the social inferior, and who is the social superior?

                    2. ambrit

                      Lambert: “So who is the social superior and who is the social inferior?”
                      That would depend on the prevailing social ‘philosophy.’ Since the prevailing social ‘philosophy’ today in the West is Neoliberal Capitalism, then follow the money to find the ‘superior’ and ‘inferior’ classes.

                  3. Big River Bandido

                    No, that’s not a legitimate claim. Go around telling voters that you know their needs and their reality better than they themselves do? Is it *really* that hard to understand why rational people might find such language utterly insulting?

      2. Odysseus

        That 40% number is massively deceiving.

        The majority of people who identify as politically Independent nevertheless have a strongly straight-ticket partisan lean.

        Maybe 15% of voters regularly split tickets to any significant extent.

        So while it may be significant in some cultural way that people refuse to identify as a partisan, it doesn’t have much effect on actual elections.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Which part of the DemParty base accepts the conventional wisdom? The part that calls Sanderbackers ” bernie bros”? The part which is the social class Top Ten Percent ( TTP)?

      1. Big River Bandido

        Regarding your first question: the McGovern wing of the party, i.e., the faction which represents the so-called professional class that propelled McGovern to the nomination and ignominious defeat in 1972, not only accepts the so-called conventional wisdom but has created it. The long list of young organizers who cut their political teeth with that campaign went on to take over and transform the Democrat Party into the steaming pile that it is today. Their rhetoric and “positioning” — as well as the way they treat people — are taken straight out of George McGovern’s own playbook. This crowd still controls all the mechanics of that party. But they no longer dominate the electorate, their ideology lost its hold on the young a long time ago, and the Democrats are now a political party in name only (partly by the designs of the McGovernites).

        Those old McGovernites — the political followers of Gary Hart, Joe Biden, the Clintons, and many many more — know by now that their sun is setting, and they are starting to panic because the old tricks aren’t working any more. That’s why their rhetoric — and that of their sycophants in the corporate media — has become so shrill and strident toward anyone who challenges or even dares to criticize them.

        To more directly answer your second and third questions, yes and yes.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          About the McGovernators and their young volunteers straight-up BEing that Clintonite class of today . . . how true shouldwe consider that as really being?

          Its been years since I read Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail 72. But I remember it as saying that McGovern began by very much making a borderline-lower class appeal. And it was after getting the nomination that the McGovern forces immediately turned around and tried appeasing the Establishment Democrats they had just defeated.

          To what extent were disappointed and heartbroken Young McGovernites themselves the ancestors of the Clintonites of today? I know that some of them indeed were. The young Clintons themselves were involved in the McGovern campaign. I read that they were “hearbroken” by the defeat. Or at least Bill was. And I think that his Free Trade polices were partly motivated by revenge against the stable unionized working class Democrats who voted against his beloved McGovern in the general election. He supported NAFTA and etc. in order to destroy their industries in order to destroy their unions and their jobs and their lives. In revenge for them having voted against McGovern.

          But how many of the young volunteers was that true of? I hope someone will do a study on that.

          1. Big River Bandido

            I think it was true for the overwhelming majority of them. Look at how many of them reflexively supported Clinton in the 2016 primary. I have mostly only anecdotal evidence, which is admittedly not data. But a former supervisor of about age 60 got into an argument with me in 2016 about Clinton (whom she supported), even daring to use that tired old saw about how Sanders was so far left that he would lead the Democrats to a defeat “worse than McGovern”. Her comment made me laugh, but I did note how after 4 decades she was still scarred and haunted by 1972. And at the end of the 2016 campaign, I realized that with Clinton, her worst fears came true.

            Those descendants are motivated by hatred of unions and “Free Trade”, but I think the reasons go much deeper than simple revenge for McGovern’s defeat at the hands of that day’s “establishment” (in which the unions played a dominant role). Thomas Franks wrote perceptively about the “professional class” in Listen, Liberal, and the elitism within this group is strongly tied to class, education, and status as a “professional”. This explains their penchant for being “gatekeepers”, and their love of mechanisms that separate the “deserving” from the “undeserving”. Tellingly, their definition of “professionals” excludes teachers while including bankers. The key is that the professionals themselves — by virtue of their hard work and merit, of course — will be the ones who get to decide. And they defend those prerogatives jealously.

            I have been casting about for summer reading, and you have made me realize that Thompson’s book is one of those that I’ve always heard talked about but never actually read. I’m putting it on my list thanks to you.

            1. pretzelattack

              well maybe the aspiring politicos like clinton that worked on the campaign, but regular mcgovern supporters were more left wing from my memory. of course some of these people like the clintons have gotten rich off stabbing supporters in the back.

              1. Big River Bandido

                Remember that McGovern’s support was generational — almost entirely the young. They reaped the benefits of the postwar economic expansion, including a vast growth in the numbers of them that went to college and then graduate and professional schools, an experience which conditioned them to think of themselves as a meritocracy.

              2. Oregoncharles

                I can’t claim to have been a McGovern volunteer, because I wasn’t very politically active then, but I was certainly young a supporter. 1972 was almost as formative an experience as ’68. And I think you’re right – McGovern supporters were almost entirely anti-war and anti-establishment. That might be why he lost.

                Certainly some of them flipped later, like the Clintons, but I think Bandido is basically wrong. In my experience, the same people are still marching, against the war and for justice. A bunch of them are my friends. They’re mostly just older. And a LOT of them were Bernie supporters.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              if almost all the Young McGoverners of 1972 feel the way you describe for the reasons you give, the problem may be a problem of mis-analysis on their part. Perhaps they themselves never really READ Hunter S. Thompson’s book.

              Ohhh . . . they “read” it in serialized articles in the Rolling Stone in part for a feeling of vicarious liberation gained from marinating in Thompson’s transgressive language and Steadman’s transgressive cartoons. But it they never read the last two chapters of the book itself . . . ( and if those last two chapters never ran in Rolling Stone then they likely never read them) . . . then they have missed the analysis about how McGovern was torn down by visibly appeasing the Democratic Elite which he had just defeated . . . thereby losing the interest of many disaffected and distressed people who had voted for him all through the primaries. On top of which, the Elite Democrats all convinced their loyal followers to work for Nixon and vote for Nixon, to get revenge on McGovern and to “take their Party back”. And the third thing seems to be that McGovern switched from a pragmatic appeal to people based on their being cheated by the system-lords . . . to a moralistic appeal based on telling people to vote for him out of atonement for their American sinfulness. Case-in-point, during the campaign he laid out the pragmatic case for why the Vietnam War was a bad deal for Americans, including most of all the Americans who were supposed to fight in it.
              During the campaign itself ( according to my residual memory) he switched over to a moralistic appeal about how “wrong” the Vietnam War was, implying that people fighting in it or supporting it were sinful immoralists and that voting for McGovern against the war for Moral Reasons was a declaration of moral superioritude. But that was only a secondary contribution to his defeat on top of the primary reasons of appeasing the defeated DemParty enemies, and being doublecrossed by those enemies anyway.

              If today’s ex-young people from the McGovern time mistakenly feel that McGovern lead himself down to defeat all by himself, then they will live in a misplaced fear of “losing bigly with another McGovern”. One hopes all these ex-young people sit down and really REEEEAAAD Thompson’s book. Especially most of all the last 2 or 3 chapters.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > McGovern was torn down by visibly appeasing the Democratic Elite which he had just defeated . . . thereby losing the interest of many disaffected and distressed people who had voted for him all through the primaries. On top of which, the Elite Democrats all convinced their loyal followers to work for Nixon and vote for Nixon, to get revenge on McGovern and to “take their Party back”.

                Yes. IIRC, they did the same to Carter.

                1. Dallas Galvin

                  I don’t think you can discuss McGovern, his defeat, or the fatuousness of his followers without the context: the murder of Bobby Kennedy, most graphically. RFK (a stretch but perhaps useful as analogy) was Malcolm to McGovern’s MLK, and both were fighting against terrible odds within and outside the party. Death was the reward for one, would have been for the other — as it was for Fred Hampton and countless serious reformers. I never much cared for the McGovern types, but most of us who wanted to stop the war, to “help bring back the America we thought we knew” (yes, naive), believed that we were “right” to stay within the Democratic Party structure. That’s not a misreading of Hunter Thompson or a reliance on Rolling Stone to the exclusion of other information, that’s what the terrorism of that old elite power structure of military and money did achieve: fear. Coming out of WWII, structure seemed correct and that’s what we were taught: read the old newspapers, even from the far left. It was those who had authority (LBJ et al.) who had gone astray… Subsequent history (and maturity) showed our folly. But the continuing potential for assassination should he veer from the script loomed over Clinton and Obama in the earliest days in their presidencies, too — and neither was either brave or moral, much less radical. As a reporter, I dealt with both of them.
                  As for the “blame the boomers” commentators, I would simply say, Where were you these past 20 years? Did you hit the streets? Where were the millennials, the Gen X,Y,Zs? Iraq was and is far more of a travesty than Vietnam. Beyond texting, where’s the protest? the concerted action? the music, the poetry, the essays that might spark real action? Boomers are fat and old now, but they put their lives, their careers, and their precious youth on the line to fight against the travesty that was not only Vietnam, but America’s destruction of multiple democratically-elected governments (and the murder of union leaders, presidents, etc.) in Latin America, Africa, even Greece and Cyprus. Agree with dcblogger

          2. dcblogger

            I am not equal to writing a proper response to this, but I don’t think you can hold McGovern responsible for the smash up of the Democratic party. Most of McGovern’s supporters were military age voters or the parents of military age men. To them Viet Nam was everything, and they were right. I would say it was Tip O’Neil and the Versailles Democrats who destroyed the Democratic party

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              This piece of writing from Karp’s work seems to run somewhat in parallel with the last few chapters of Thompson’s book. McGovern’s enemies and Carter’s enemies seem to have been somewhat partly the same people, for all the same goals and reasons.

              Whatever the descent of the DemParty Elite Sh*t-Lords of today, this all goes to show why they need to be purged, burned and exterminated out of the Democratic Party if the Democratic Party is to be a useful tire-iron on the battlefield of political combat. And it may be necessary to purge, burn and exterminate the Clintonites and Obamazoids from the party in such a way that their tens of millions of bacterial cancerous cult worshippers follow them out.

              Let them all join or create the David Brooks Whig 2.0 Party. Let the Democratic Party be Real Democrats again.

            2. Amfortas the Hippie

              I was 3 years old at the time, but I’ve gleaned that it was those Versailles Democrats, too.
              The party bosses, and the big union bosses. The Gary Hart shenanigans afterwards did much to make sure that some “outsider” would never get in the door.
              The documentary”one bright shining moment” was my introduction to McGovern…being in Texas my whole life, I had never really heard of him,lol…outside of Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail.
              since then, watching the vids of him arguing with Wm F Buckley won me over, and I find that I’d rather vote for a McGovern any day, than any of the shills and nagging pearl clutchers on offer, today.
              I am currently being lambasted in a “progressive” space for insisting that rural Texas contains more than merely hood wearing white morons.
              This is the predictable result of what Hart, et alia, did, back then.
              as for the Clintons: Downal wyth Bluddy Behg Hid!

        2. Jessica

          When I went to my caucus in 2016, it was mostly folks of the generation that supported McGovern in 1972. My precinct went 32-2 for Bernie and we were not the most pro-Bernie precinct.
          Yes, the high-paid minions who happened to have started out in that campaign are pro-establishment but don’t tar the rest of us with the brush.

  7. John B

    This is very much like the May 11 watercooler. A commentary on the timelessness of the human experience?

      1. Jim Haygood

        Did you ever wake up to find
        A day that broke up your mind
        Destroyed your notion of circular time
        It’s just that demon life has got you in its sway

        –Rolling Stones, Sway

      2. False Solace

        People assume that time is a strict progression of cause to effect, but actually, from a nonlinear, non-subjective viewpoint, it’s more like a big ball of wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey… stuff.

  8. Jason Boxman

    With the proliferation of non-compete clauses, I’m curious how all these execs are able to decamp to Waymo? Interesting.

    1. Huey Long

      Non-competes are null and void in the Great State of California where Tesla is based out of.

      I wouldn’t be shocked if Tesla packs up shop and moves their operation to somewhere in the southeast where non-competes are enforceable and labor laws (not to mention the labor movement) are non-existent.


  9. Jim Haygood

    Haspel recants:

    Gina Haspel wrote in a letter released Tuesday that the post-9/11 program aimed at extracting intelligence from terrorism suspects “ultimately did damage to our officers and our standing in the world.”

    “With the benefit of hindsight and my experience as a senior agency leader, the enhanced interrogation program is not one the CIA should have undertaken,” Ms. Haspel wrote in a letter to Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    “The United States must be an example to the rest of the world, and I support that,” she added.


    ‘Example to the rest of the world’ … here’s today’s example, which I am not making up:

    Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, applauded Israeli forces on Wednesday for what she called their “restraint” in the face of protests in Gaza a day earlier that left at least 60 dead.

    “No country in this chamber would act with more restraint than Israel has,” Haley said at a U.N. Security Council meeting. “In fact, the record of several countries here today suggest that they would be less restrained.”


    The US certainly is an example to the world … of Soviet-style occupation, militarism, and colonialism.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      How it was:

      Gina Haspel wrote in a letter released Tuesday…

      How it should have been:

      Gina Haspel wrote in a letter from her cell released Tuesday…

      UPDATE Two Democrats, Warner and Heitkamp, just came out for Haspel, putting a torturer at the head of the CIA and handing Trump a victory. So I take it we can put that silly notion of #Resistance to bed, now? (To be fair, liberal Democrats might want to “torture some folks” themselves, some day. So it’s good to preserve the option.)

      1. Sid Finster

        Were I consulted, Bloody Gina would not be writing letters from her cell or from anywhere else, unless her ghost takes up ink and pen.

        1. nippersdad

          I had a bumper sticker on my car for years that read “Send Bush to Baghdad.”

          My opinion of these people hasn’t changed. Send ’em all to Baghdad and see how fast they can run.

            1. nippersdad


              That would be a (maybe not so sporting) sporting event that I would pay to watch.

              1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                I believe betting that sporting event online is OK now, according to the wise people on the Supreme Court.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        What the #Resistance is resisting is the Sander-backers. That’s who the Clintonite filth which calls itself the #Resistance really hates. And that’s who they will really seek to destroy.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yes. That’s why the left needs a bench.

          IMNSHO the left should not take losses too hard this cycle; politics really is a skill, and I hate to deploy “learning experience” but there it is.

          (There’s also the issue of where power actually lies: I’d say the workplace, not electoral politics, but I’m not sure how much overlap there is between the two at the level of skills (as opposed to ideology). That’s why I think Janus could be a blessing in disguise; IMNSHO the unions shouldn’t give a penny to parties and candidates; it should all go to workplace organizing. Yes, the law is important, but as the abolitionists showed in their response to the Fugitive Slave Act, the law is not everything.

      3. Summer

        “How it should have been:

        Gina Haspel wrote in a letter from her cell released Tuesday…”

        Exactly. That’s why we need to start looking at this as not dealing with “terrorist” threats, but a systemic terrorizing of all people.
        It’s blatantly saying, “This is what we can get away with if you don’t keep submitting to all variations of BS.”

      4. drumlin woodchuckles

        I believe I remember Obama saying that he would immunize and impunitize the Big Criminals . . . Bush, Cheney, Yoo, Addington, all those. And if he was going to let those ones go free, it would be unfair to prosecute the little fish like Haspel for what the Big Sharks ordered them to do.

        Or in the case of Pelosi and some of the other “Cheney Democrats”, supported ordering them to do.

  10. Sid Finster

    My (very black, very far right) friend has commented that he never goes running without a form of ID, lest his (very white, very liberal) Iowa City neighbors call the cops, having spotted a black man fleeing the premises carrying an invisible TV set.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Yeah, but those liberals probably voted for Obama (twice!) and would’ve voted for him a third time if they could.

    1. JCC

      The old Seneca Army Depot is now a nice park with access to Seneca Lake and still the home of the what I believe is the only herd of white deer in the entire country (and well protected behind the old Army chain link/barbed wire)

      Seneca white deer

      Seneca County is also home to the largest landfill in all New York State (about 20 miles north of the Seneca Army Depot) and smells to high heaven in the summer time for many miles around.

      One is enough, they need a garbage incinerator in this very nice area (and the center of NY Wine Country) like they need a hole in the head.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Oh, you have landfills too! How nice. And, I see from Google Maps, near the lake and the river, too [pounds head on desk].

        I hope particulate matter from the incinerator doesn’t drift onto the grapes and get in the wine. But I’m sure the permitting process as exposed any little problems like that.

        Life in the colonies!

  11. bassmule

    Mnuchin’s thinking said the secretary, who has become Trump’s point person in the talks, may view a cumulative number of smaller deals that accomplish some of the bigger asks the U.S. laid out during a recent trip to Beijing as representing systemic reform. But that may do little to satisfy the hard liners that want to see Beijing take real reforms.”

    “Smaller deals.” Hmmm. Like this one?

    Trump will profit from Indonesian resort project that will get $500 million in Chinese loans in a deal sealed days before before his tweet ordering help for ZTE.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Such an honest crook! Right out in the open.

      But there was no Putin or porn, so the rest of the media will snooze. Congressional reps won’t even make statements.

      1. Summer

        The “investigation” isn’t about stopping crooks. The entire political system would come to a stop if that were to happen. It’s about controlling the crooks to tow the same tired policies.

  12. Edward E

    Are electric cars worse for the environment?

    They’re definitely worse for people who are not wealthy. Plus, for example, with windmills. The building and transporting of them, clearing land, dumping magic gas producing reinforced cement produces a lot of carbon. Then it all has to be backed up with something that emits magic gas. Rant over/in dog beers ? I’ve only had one

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      If we see more of those fiery crashes, it’d be definitely very bad for the environment, as we get extra CO2 released from all those burning cars.

    2. a different chris

      >That might sound counterintuitive

      Oh god another revealer of unspoken truths. Hey, I don’t really know but
      1) “they fail to consider just how clean and efficient new internal combustion vehicles are” Yeah, and the threat of electric vehicles to the engineers livelihood (45 year old engineers know that they aren’t going to retrain into windmill designers) didn’t have anything to do with that? And how clean and efficient (cough, VW, literally cough) are these new cars? You sure?
      2) “Today’s vehicles emit only about 1% of the pollution than they did in the 1960s,” I have a collection of 1960’s vehicles. I swear 1% of that crap will still kill ya. In fact I, after surprising people with my curious combination of old iron collection and environmental-nazi-ism, often ask people to stand behind one of my treasures at idle. They “get” the EPA, suddenly.
      3) “the EIA projects that the nation’s electric generating mix will be just 30% renewable by 2030” Yeah and their projections about renewable electricity have been so dead on.
      4)… sigh, I can’ t go on…

      The whole thing is a bunch of warmed-over claptrap. We need to drive everything less, not build so much new stuff (cars of any propulsion types, highways, McMansions) &etc.

      But this article is just whiny crap. “Oh the world is changing, please stop!”.

      Oh wait, one more:

      >Wealthy consumers who have purchased ….. Chevy Bolts

      Hahahahahahaha yeah the Bolt is such a status symbol. Jesus.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Here’s the methodology:

        To answer that question, I used the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s most recent long-term forecasts for the number of new electric vehicles through 2050, estimated how much electricity they’d use, and then figured out how much pollution that electricity would generate, looking at three key pollutants regulated under the U.S. Clean Air Act—sulfur dioxide (SO2), oxides of nitrogen (NOX), and particulates—as well as CO2 emissions. I compared them to the emissions of new gasoline-powered vehicles, using the EIA’s “real world” miles-per-gallon forecast, rather than the higher CAFE standard values.

        Perhaps you could give consideration to assaulting the substance instead of stringing together ad homs?

        For example, unless we’re going to be taking old ICE vehicles off the road, it makes sense to compare new EVs to new ICEs, yes?

        Our society seems to have serious problems with capital allocation (just go back through the crashes, or think of the unicorns in Silicon Valley). We are currently ramping up for massive capital allocation to EVs (and robot cars). Maybe it makes sense to examine assumptions?

    3. Barmitt O'Bamney

      Yeah but we get to pay for the subsidies richer folk enjoy on their electric cars, so you can’t say we don’t get to participate at all. Makes me proud and choked up just thinking about it .

  13. ambrit

    Re. the Bezzle about being required to pay attention all the time while driving on autopilot.
    I don’t know how appropriate this is, but, when Phyl had a crash way back when, in which fog was a major factor, the State law was to the effect that the limitation of vision caused by fog was not a defense since the law required drivers whose vision was impaired by fog to pull over to the side of the road and wait for the fog to lift. The absence of signage to warn of an impending intersection was legally immaterial.
    Something like this might be at play with the autopilot issue.

    1. Carolinian

      Are you disagreeing with that law?

      Out west New Mexico has lots of signs warning that in case of blinding dust storms one should pull off the interstate, take your foot off the brakes and turn off their lights (apparently to prevent other drivers from plowing into parked cars). Perhaps Tesla needs a sign over their dashboard. This might kill the chic.

    2. a different chris

      There is a new Subaru in the extended family with those weird bug eyes up on the windshield. It stops itself no problem. Smart cruise control is marvelous. Steers itself a little awkwardly, and really needs a clean highway for that, but it does steer if you don’t. Anyway, not sure what Tesla’s issue is.

      And I am no fan of automated cars.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m probably disqualified because I don’t drive, at all, but what’s the appeal of cruise control and/or autopilot? You still have to watch, but now in a state of tension in case you have to seize back control. So why not just drive?

        1. Pat

          Probably telling more than I should, but for long interstate highway drives I found cruise control invaluable. First because it meant I could flex my legs rather than remaining in driving position, something that eased aches in my knees and hips. Secondly, because it would keep speed steady my lead foot was less of an issue. But it isn’t something I would use in any real traffic,short trips, or on routes with lots of curves and terrain changes.

        2. ambrit

          I don’t know about autopilot but, cruise control, which I once had on a truck, is good for highway driving where muscle cramps in the foot and lower leg become an issue over the time spent driving. It also, strangely enough, acts as an inducement to not speed since the essence of speeding is the watching out for enforcement actions by the police. If attention is purposely reduced, the logic is to reduce exposure to ‘unsafe’ behaviours in general.
          When speeding along, say, a highway, one major indication of speeding police look for is the sudden usage of brakes, indicated by brake light initiation, of vehicles entering visual contact range of police cars or uniformed personnel. The primary way most cruise controls are disconnected is through application of the brake pedal. So, to disengage speeding while using cruise control requires the use of a clear indicator of possible illegal activity. I personally, (Legal Disclaimer Here), let the vehicle slow down mechanically without initiating the brakes. Most cars will slow down from ‘speeding’ conditions to ‘normal’ ones quite quickly. Mechanical friction being what it is, Physics is your friend here.

        3. Jen

          I’ve no use for autopilot personally, but I do like cruise control, if for no other reason than to keep my speed demon tendencies under control.

          My 85 year old dad has a subaru with that will slow down on its own if you get too close to another vehicle and beeps if you start to drift into another lane. He’s been a tailgater and somewhat distracted driver all of his driving life. These features have much improved his driving.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “If Trump’s ZTE tweets are any indication, the administration seems to be moving toward short-term dealmaking with China. The Wall Street Journal reported that the two sides are closing in on a deal that would trade U.S. relief for ZTE with China promising to back off tariffs on U.S. agricultural goods” [Politico].

    ZTE promised once, before doubling down with bonuses to their managers. Then, they were caught and hopefully, are doing what they promised.

    And now, we see China is doing the promising.

    1. L

      To be fair that is consistent with how Republicans and Democrats have always treated boardroom misbehavior, verbal threats followed by a quick cave in exchange for a promise not be be naughty (or get caught) in the future.

  15. Tim

    Regarding the Black injustice tipping point articles, those are explicitly stereotyping issues. Cognitive biases.

    I think it’s worth differentiating that from acts of hate, and discrimination of opportunity because of race, because the solutions may be very different for each. Stereotyping can be addressed via taught and practiced empathy and critical thinking, the same way most cognitive biases can be addressed.

    If everybody screams “racist” at these people that are stereotyping it won’t accomplish anything other than starting a food fight.

    1. Dita

      I’m torn whether the act of calling cops on black people going about the ordinary business of life doesn’t also belong under Police State Watch. It seems to me the Yale caller wanted to incite the police to harm her neighbor, to trigger a reaction. That’s a lot more than a food fight

    2. marym

      It’s not that useful a distinction. There can be racist, sexist, etc. stereotypes. Seeing a person sitting in a coffeeshop without buying something, or napping in dorm amidst their books and computers as evidence that all people in that demographic are lazy or rude, would be at best a racist stereotype.

      Thinking one has a right to prevent other people from sharing a public space, calling the cops on someone not committing a crime while knowing what cops do with impunity to black and other vulnerable people, considering that one has the right call the cops for one’s personal comfort if one is discomforted by the “other”, confidence that one will not be held accountable for being wrong or evil intentioned in calling the cops – all of this isn’t “stereotyping.” It’s using the institutions of the state to harm people based on their race.

      Look at those examples: a graduate dorm at a major university, a golf course, Starbucks, Nordstroms. White people with enough status and privilege to be there don’t need empathy classes. They need to accept responsibility for acknowledging other people’s civil rights and their right to live their lives.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I agree there’s a spectrum, but it seems that the Yale caller and the BBQ woman had a history; they’d both done this before.

      Cognitive bias is one thing; making a career of cognitive bias is another.

    1. a different chris

      Full autopilot is one thing. A far off thing. But if you have the technology that supposedly will keep you from hitting something head on – you know, like a firetruck for (family blog)s sake – it should not deactivate under any circumstances.

      And if you allow the driver to disengage it because you think it will stop in the middle of the road for no apparent reason, like a flaky horse, then you need to hold off production.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Old joke, maybe au courant vis-a-vis MN mess:

        Lots of Scandinavian males migrated to MN to find land for farming, as the Indians were being extirpated, late 19th century. Not so many women found fulfillment in being sod-busters and living in dugouts and such. Men want women, so the farmers in one area pooled some dollars and advertised in the East Coast newspapers for mail-order brides. Even paid their train fare to “Go West.” So when the train pulled in, the sorting began, and there was a stern Lutheran pastor on the spot to conduct the awkward weddings.

        One fellow, Sven, quite the taciturn guy, found his intended, but just nodded instead of saying “I do.” He walked off toward his wagon, the anxious bride following, lugging her trunk. He did help her pitch it up onto the wagon bed, but let her, in her long skirts, make her way up to the seat. When she sat, he flicked the gaunt horse with his whip and off they went. In silence.

        A mile or so down the road, the horse stopped. “That’s vun,” said Sven, and whipped the horse into motion again. Same thing happened another mile or two along. “That’s two,” said Sven. Again the whip, and off they lumbered. As the road began to climb more steeply, the horse sighed, and stopped again. “That’s tree,” said Sven, and pulled out his Colt pistol and shot the horse dead.

        His new wife, aghast, asked “What on earth did you do that for?”

        Sven said, “That’s vun…”

  16. lyman alpha blob

    RE: 2020

    We are kept well informed of potential Democrat party challengers but what about Republican ones? Is there seriously nobody from the Republican party thinking about taking on Trump? Even given that the presidency is largely a figurehead position, don’t the RNC types want somebody who won’t make the entire party look like complete fools?

    And as I was typing that last question, I remembered George W and realized the answer was they mostly just don’t give a [family blog] as long as the gravy train keeps rolling.

    But I still do find it a little odd that we really haven’t heard a peep about potential Republican challengers. I get that it isn’t considered honorable to challenge a sitting president or some such nonsense – the last one I remember was Teddy Kennedy running against Carter in 1980 – but this is Trump we’re talking about here. Nobody from the party establishment wants him gone bad enough to run against him????

    1. nippersdad

      They prolly remember the meat grinder that Trump put their huge field through in his presidential primary. That and potential backlash from those who like him, and apparently there are a lot of them, pose huge deterrents.

      And, anyway, they are getting everything they wanted while the press concentrates on his tweets. Like Bush jr., they can’t afford to replace him with someone that would probably, ultimately, be less effective at getting their agenda through.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Trump’s opposition has been quite clear that it’s not about actually challenging the power of the presidency or the policies pursued….it’s about cranking out salacious books as quickly as possible and boosting ratings at TV networks.

      Because THAT is how you #resist!!!

    3. a different chris

      I’m not sure, and I bet they are not sure, that Trump won’t just get bored and not run for a second term. So that’s one extra confounding factor among the many that come with challenging a sitting President from your own party. Why not just wait a while?

    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Trump destroyed the GOP party establishment. When the ET tape came out, Trump was denounced by elected Republicans on Friday, and by Monday, they were kissing his ring.

      With the Presidency, there is the President and everyone else. Hillary because of our slavish devotion to celebrity as a society and her original “co-president” claim (a pretty cool move) was an odd duck in our political landscape, but no one has the stature to challenge the sitting President. Teddy was also an odd animal given his status in the North East, family legacy, and Carter’s Southern roots given the changing nature of the Democratic Party.

      I believe the isolation of Versailles has created a situation where the otherness of Trump is an affront to DC and parts of New York, but the primary designation for how Trump is viewed and will cause people to react is that he is the sitting GOP President.

    5. Elizabeth Burton

      It is being pondered that Koch brothers employee Mike Pence may be gearing up to resign as Veep and run against Trump in ’20. Given Charlie and Dave pretty much own the GOP, along with the Mercers and the Waltons et al., I don’t think it’s outside the realm of possibility.

      Adelson gave Trump $25 million to help him win; the Kochtopus can outspend him to put Mikie over the top. It’s not like they care who’s in the chair, as long as he follows orders and gets the job done. And now they’ve gotten a good solid start on their agenda to gut the government, they don’t need Donnie as a distraction—and the Democrats have given them that nice Russian collusion thing to play with.

      The number of sufferers from Trump Derangement Syndrome who are willing to embrace Pence is terrifying, which makes it not infeasible his running could keep Democrat Party voters whose sole goal is getting rid of Trump home on the basis that even if Pence wins he won’t be as bad as his predecessor.

      Both sides of the political aisle and the media have done a bang-up job of ensuring most of the voting public is totally focused on personalities, and on the myth that what’s happening right now is only because Trump is in the Oval Office. It’s a perfect setup for an upset, if you’ll pardon the wordplay.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      Trump is showing the Presidency to be not just a figurehead position.

      But and also, on what basis would any Republicans challenge Trump? What would they offer? Back to more-of-the-former same?

  17. L

    I apologize in advance for venting but…

    Can someone please remind me why we are supposed to care about David Brooks’ musings? I mean why does the fact that he read a book blurb even matter to American political discourse.

    I mean I actually do believe that he is a Whig, or whatever he thinks one is. His shallow description of them is consistent with his views. And he is right they did support “public-private partnerships” of course in England these took the form of privatizing public lands and forcing otherwise sustainable small rural communities out which in turn created short-term profits for the wealthy and produced an urban poor that then staffed factories. So in that respect it is consistent with his views.

    But why oh why NY Times, are we supposed to care? At this point his views are limited to the “24 of us left” (yes that is how he put it). And even Bari Weiss is talking about more topical, albeit unhinged, things. Moreover his primary prescription seems to be that we should read a travelogue by some rich people who took a plane trip rather than say a systematic discussion of poverty and inequality (say by Piketty) or serious proposals to address these same problems his pilot-friends found (say by Sanders).

    If the NY Times would like to retain some relevance to the modern world perhaps they should find some commentators who live in it.

    1. a different chris

      >If the NY Times would like to retain some relevance to the modern world perhaps they should find some commentators who live in it.

      Oh man could somebody put that on a coffee cup? That is awesome.

  18. anonn

    Re: Brooks, I live in Redlands, CA and the notion that it’s “revitalizing” is preposterous. This city and this county are circling the drain. Economically, it’s dying a bit slower than the nearby towns without a university, but that’s all.

    The middle of the city is blighted by a mall that’s been empty for years. The City killed it when they offered a sweetheart deal to build a new, gargantuan strip mall just outside of town – the capitalists get the police and fire but don’t have to pay to support it. Even that brand new mall is half empty.

    This town is loaded with retired Boomers on pensions. While they’re basically the worst people in the history of the world, every time one dies that’s $5k or $10k a month to local businesses that’s gone forever. Nobody, and I mean nobody, under the age of 60 can afford the bullshit lifestyle that towns like this are created to cater to.

    This Sunday a group of old jerks got on their Harleys and circled around town from 7 am to about 4 pm, speeding up and down the perfectly straight suburban streets at 200 decibels and 50+ mph. What a perfect metaphor for that whole generation – cosplaying the 1950s while burning gas for no reason, ruining the peace and quiet for no reason, and endangering other people’s live for no reason.

    I joined a faceb**k group for locals and probably 90% of the posts are complaints about homeless people. We call them names so bad they don’t bear repeating. Calls for rounding them up and calls for purges are commonplace. All these good Christians and not one ounce of empathy to be found.

    This is a city where every local election is a referendum on whose blind support for the cops is the deepest. Every interaction I’ve had with my neighbors has been about their complaints that I’m not watering my grass enough or cutting down trees fast enough. This is a very dry climate and we’ve been in a drought for years.

    I cannot imagine the level of myopia needed to look at a corpse like this town and not see it for what it is. There’s no community, no culture. This place isn’t revitalizing. It’s just a very expensive waiting room at the funeral home.

    1. David May

      Thank you for that very interesting front line report. It chimes with what Morris Berman (Why America Failed) has being saying for years: America is toast because no community, no culture, lack of empathy.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I bought and looked into Why America Failed, but was a little put off by the Old South being held up as an example of community, culture, empathy…

    2. Isotope_C14

      I understand completely.


      Did you by chance get to see the Jimmy Dore 5-part interview here?

      They discuss that component, the empathy component as well. I have many boomer-aged relatives that are identical.

      I get to hear from them “why don’t you do it this way” (although it would make me miserable)

      Or, “just get a job doing X” (While someone their age, and wealth will also not listen to me)

      I have absloutely never been listened to, perhaps heard, and then ignored, by every single wealthy boomer. It’s like the sounds my mouth makes can’t be processed.

      The poor boomers aren’t so depraved. I think if you actively demand yourself to feel empathy, you can prevent this somewhat, but I am convinced that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The more money you have the lower empathy you feel, scientifically proven.

      Now how do we implement a system as above to prevent someone having absolute power over absolutely everyone else?

      How do we make the system listen to everyone equally, instead of just the rich and powerful?

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Christians are not that special when it comes to lacking empathy.

      In Shinto and Zen Buddhism Japan, you find homeless people too.

      And in Liberty, Fraternity and Equality atheist France, you find them too.

      They are also there in ‘I left my heart in San Francisco.’

      Perhaps the University of Redlands can do something – I remember seeing the campus as huge, with lots of open areas, and if Starbucks can do it, perhaps something can be worked out to let the less fortunate use campus bathrooms.

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      Every time someone rants about “Boomers” I find it interesting that they seem to equate that with “well-off old people.” I can assure you, as a Boomer, they are no more representative of the entire generation than any other generational stereotype. Indeed, both commentors who agreed on that stereotype made it clear they were talking about people “who can afford to live here.”

      There are, according to the stats I could find, between 71 and 76 million of us living in poverty, despite the fact Social Security was supposed to prevent that. What you’re describing isn’t a generation problem, it’s a class problem. How many of those homeless people are 65 and older?

      This isn’t about which generation is better or worse than the others; that’s just another weapon the PTBs use to try to keep us divided. It is first and foremost a class problem, but as long as no one mentions that poverty statistic we can pretend all the old people read AARP magazine to find out where they’re going to take their next cruise to.

      1. anonn

        I suppose it’s easier to focus on the problem of selfish, wealthy old people who are ruining the country and the world because we all know lots of them. I don’t know any Rockefellers. I wouldn’t blame every individual in a generation for the sins of the whole generation. I certainly agree that, to some extent, the whole generation thing is there to get us to ignore class and inequality.

        I was trying to describe the city I live in, one that Brooks and his ilk believe is in a renaissance despite a complete lack of evidence for this proposition. Redlands is run by a particularly loathsome type of middle-class So. Cal boomer, now living off a fixed-income pension but denying everyone that came after them that benefit, paying zilch in property taxes while continually raising ours, and constantly whining about Mexicans except when they need their lawn mowed for slave wages.

        This is the generation that went to the University of California system effectively for free and immediately yanked that ladder away. Meanwhile, I will have paid close to a half million dollars for the privilege of joining the middle class, thanks to compound interest.

        Maybe I’m just mad since I haven’t had a raise or taken a vacation in 15 years.

        1. Wukchumni

          Maybe a vacation would do you some good?

          Doesn’t have to cost you much, and it’d be better than spending 2 weeks (you do get a vacation, i’ll assume) @ home, caterwauling about generational angst.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I wouldn’t blame every individual in a generation for the sins of the whole generation.

          You wouldn’t?!* You could have fooled me:

          > This town is loaded with retired Boomers on pensions. While they’re basically the worst people in the history of the world…

          Then again, I’m an old codger, so perhaps there’s some subtlety in your remarks that my failing brain was unable to detect. Although you could be simply shifting position because bullshit was properly called on your initial remarks. Hard to know.

          NOTE * A classic case of what I call the Beltway Subjunctive: Treating “I would not” and “I did not” as equivalent. They are not.

          1. anonn

            That’s fair. Sarcasm comes off poorly on the internet. I apologize. Brooks’ argument seemed to rest a lot on hoping that wealthy elderly people would provide services for free which probably should be provided by the community or the government. This is nonsense for lots of reasons. One of those reasons is that the social contract which allowed some white, middle-class people to retire early and wealthy has been yanked away from the rest of us, so the supply of wealthy retired folks is only going down.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        The whole generations thing is not only idiotic and hateful, it’s disempowering.

        At bottom, their idea is that an 87-year-old Walmart greeter who goes home to a trailer and has one boiled egg for dinner has more in common with Warren Buffet, because they’re the same age, than they have with a 24-year-old Walmart shelver.

        Although “idea” isn’t the word I want; far too dignified. and not nearly creepy enough.

    5. cnchal

      > While they’re basically the worst people in the history of the world, every time one dies that’s $5k or $10k a month to local businesses that’s gone forever.

      Look at the bright side. That’s $5k or $10k a month that the government pensions feeding the Harley rider doesn’t have to pay.

    6. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Boomers were children during the 1950s. The Greatest Generationers were the people who invented the 1950s and based it on burning gas for no reason. The Greatests invented the world for their Boomer children to grow up and made very sure that the Boomers would know nothing else.

      Those old Boomers you don’t like are doing just exactly what their Greatest Generation parents raised and instructed them to do. Perhaps antiBoomeritic antiBoomerite bigotry blinds you to the Greatest Generation roots and blame for all these problems?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Your comment doesn’t deal with the real issue, which is: Generations don’t have agency.

        The so-called Greatest Generation is a useful fiction, exactly as Boomers is a useful fiction. It’s useful for market segmentation (though real market segmentation is a lot less crude) but not for politics. In fact, taking generations seriously as political entities should be an automatic disqualifer for serious thought. It’s exactly the same conflation of ascriptive identity with politics that lead the stupider variety of liberal to conclude that Obama was liberal, because of his skin color.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This town is loaded with retired Boomers on pensions. While they’re basically the worst people in the history of the world

      Thank you for sharing your Boomer hate! And my I suggest that if you wish to join a community, even a community as inadequately communitarian as an online commentariat, a handle like “anonn” is perhaps not the best way to go about it?

  19. allan

    ‘why we are supposed to care about David Brooks’ musings’

    Well, this man certainly did: Obama Dines With Conservative Columnists [NYT (2009)]

    President-elect Barack Obama spent Tuesday evening at a dinner party with several prominent conservative columnists, including William Kristol and David Brooks of The New York Times …

    If one’s idea of deep thinking on public policy is namedropping Reinhold Niebuhr and Bernard-Henri Lévy,
    then Bobo is essential reading.

  20. Marco

    Pleased to see Cynthia Nixon graciously accept the Our Revolution endorsement. Somewhat dismayed by the Hillary deadenders and Albright bots attacking her on Twitter. Which confirms she is doing the right thing.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If Nixon gets the DemParty nomination against Cuomo, all the filthy Clintonite scum in New York will vote for her Republican opponent to MAKE her lose. That is my conditional prediction.

  21. PKMKII

    Related to the crapification of web interfacing: I Don’t Know How to Waste Time on the Internet Anymore

    What happened is that the internet stopped being something you went to in order to separate from the real world — from your job and your work and your obligations and responsibilities. It’s not the place you seek to waste time, but the place you go to so that you’ll someday have time to waste. The internet is a utility world for me now. It is efficient and all-encompassing. It is not very much fun.

    1. Oregoncharles

      You haven’t been watching cat videos? Weasels and dogs are very entertaining, too, and the well is bottomless.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Searches are more useful: “Funny cats.” “Funny dogs.” “Weasels” – look for “the desk weasel,” a baby least weasel about as long as the guy’s thumb, but utterly fearless. Weasels usually amusing, including ferrets. If you look up “weasel” in other languages, you’ll find yet more.

          1. ambrit

            I particularly like ‘K’ Street Weasel.
            When you Google that phrase, google gives you back the essence of ‘bs’ internet.
            I think someone linked to “Ozzie” the Desk Weasel here a while back. Cute little critter, but I keep thinking of the Warner Brothers cartoon weasel usually paired with Foghorn Leghorn.
            Not the best quality technically, but, you’ll get the idea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p-44EvysVzw

  22. Carolinian

    Nearby Greenville, SC is one of the towns highlighted by the flying Fallowses. While it’s encouraging to see downtown areas like that one (and mine) revive themselves, it’s obnoxious that the annoying Brooks is trying to take some kind of credit. And this new Whig-dom may only last until the next financial downturn as much of it is based on real estate speculation–the government input being, no doubt, cheap credit.

    Meanwhile the poorer areas of Greenville (and my own burg) have changed very little.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > this new Whig-dom may only last until the next financial downturn as much of it is based on real estate speculation–the government input being, no doubt, cheap credit.

      Good point. And, of course, the creation of a comprador class to direct the “input” and take a cut.

    1. PKMKII

      Over the near 20 year timeframe, that’s $1.235 trillion per year. Bernie’s tuition-free college plan is estimated to cost $75 billion a year, or 6% of the amount of spending the DoD can’t/won’t explain or account for.

      1. Isotope_C14

        All that money is well locked away in Halliburton and Blackwater coffers, and probably plenty in the Clinton and now Obama foundation coffers as well.

        It is “bipartisan”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Perhaps it’s wise, at the time, to not talk about auditing the CIA.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      Interestingly enough, a just-such-an-audit actually was being conducted right in the Pentagon building . . . right in the very part of the building which the 9/11 plane flew into. What an amazing coincidence . . . for a plane to hit just-the-right PART of the Pentagon at just-the-right-time . . . when the auditors were right in mid-audit.

      Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition wrote a blogpost about it, called Flight Of Capital.

      1. voteforno6

        The never-ending 9/11 conspiracy theories…at least you didn’t talk about a missile hitting the Pentagon (which is my personal favorite, for how utterly ludicrous it is).

        1. ambrit

          Cavail all you want about ‘911 conspiracy theories’, the end result, irregardless, is the same: A legally codified police state.

          1. JBird

            Never let a crisis go to waste. It wasn’t a conspiracy, it was just using the opportunity.

  23. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

    re Elon’s rodents & vessel in distress

    I know what the euphemism ‘family blog’ means but what does ‘family (snicker)’ stand for?

    I hope that you are not casting aspersions on a much loved sugary confectionary packed with peanuts (formerly called Marathon in the UK) in the same way that another sugary confectionary bar has acreted unfortunate allusions.


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I wrote:

      spend more time with his family [snicker]”

      You ask:

      what does ‘family (snicker)’ stand for?

      Square brackets, not parentheses, indicating an interjection from me (snicker: “to laugh in a half-suppressed, indecorous or disrespectful manner”).

      I’m snickering because “spend more time with the family” is well-known code for saying that you’ve defenestrating somebody.

  24. tooearly

    ““Are required”? How, exactly?”

    Apparently by large relatively immobile objects like Firetrucks…

  25. Darthbobber

    Wow. Larry Tribe and David Brooks on the same day.
    Tribe: NOW he sees the endless impeachment/conspiracy blather as a problem? Has he finally had his meds adjusted? In the immortal words of Don King: “He done run with the hare, now he wants to hunt with the hounds.”

    Brooks: Away wi’ yet whiggery, Mon. He can do a joint tour with the equally one-trick Gopnik promoting the Whig theory of history. Basically a derivitave of Goldilocks with the Whigs always getting the soup just right. This is about the twentieth American Renaissance he’s breathlessly discovered. None of them ever merit a follow up from him for some reason, being inevitably forgotten in time for the next one.

    If Friedman affects to learn everything from taxi drivers, Brooks prefers his insights from friends who buzz around in their private planes taking the nation’s pulse as a hobby.

    “So tremble false Whigs, in the midst of your Glee,
    For ye no seen the last o my bonnets and me.”

  26. Big River Bandido

    The Guardian, on the zombie candidacy of Joe Biden:

    Thank you for posting that. I haven’t laughed so hard since the last time I watched Clerks. And to think they saved the Bob Shrum quote until the very end. That was a coup de grace.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some would argue that border patrols are not special, not exceptional, and that since the Patriot Act, the whole nation has been living in that zone.

      All of us are in the same boat; no one is more special…according to those people (I am loyal).

      Or maybe the writer at citylab is more special…or that zone is freer, not just free.

  27. John k

    What the dem party stands for…
    We all know they stand exactly where their donors stand. And they instruct wannabe campaigners to raise gobs of money, meaning finding some donors and memorizing their new lines/positions.

  28. pretzelattack

    the guardian launches a new assault against the reputation of julian assange, with 4 articles plastered across the top of the front page.

  29. Summer

    Anybody else NOT surprised it would be Virginia establishment Democrats that are ok with anything the CIA does?

  30. allan

    John Cochrane, who used his perch at Chicago Booth to preach for austerity and against stimulus
    after the GFC, and now hangs his hat at both Hoover and Cato, goes to the DMV and
    hilarity ensues discovers that years of disinvestment in government have taken their toll.

  31. Wukchumni

    Just got a press release from Sequoia NP that 2 people have died in the National Park in the past week in separate instances from falls while mountaineering & hiking, and in both cases snow & ice were the reasons for the fatalities-the victims falling thousands of feet to their demise. Water is almost always the cause of a dozen to 20 deaths a year here, frozen water in the winter, and rushing water in the summer.

  32. Wukchumni

    An article in the LA Times described 3 gents that all died from o/d’ing on fentanyl laced cocaine, an unusual occurrence heretofore…

    I learned a little something about heroin that I didn’t know, which helps explain why a good many of the overdoses are back east, and not so many out west, in comparison.

    And keep in mind that fentanyl is a mere plaything compared to carfentanyl, which is 100x as potent.

    “Black tar heroin is sold west of the Mississippi, whereas the kind most commonly sold in the East is a white powder. Black tar heroin is harder to mix with fentanyl and therefore less likely to cause overdoses and deaths, experts say, but that advantage could fade as fentanyl shows up in other substances.

    Officials suspect that three men who died in downtown Los Angeles late last month had snorted cocaine laced with fentanyl, an incident that has further galvanized fentanyl fears.

    “We don’t know whether this is an anomaly, or whether it’s a bellwether of something that’s about to hit,” said UCLA professor Steve Shoptaw, who studies substance abuse.”


  33. VietnamVet

    The UK still sees itself as part of the Empire – the supranational neoliberal globalist enterprise headquartered at Wall Street and the City of London. The one that has been at war for 17 years and is commencing a new war with Russia and Iran. Donald Trump and Brexit may seem like irritations to the mighty but keeping the Iran Nuclear Deal going and Euro corporate bypassing of US sanctions will rattle cages. Western Deplorables matter not a whit except as expendables and voters. But, energy from Iran and Russia and the economic might of the second largest economy in the world, China, will force an ocean hard border around Europe as the Atlantic Alliance splinters apart.

  34. marym

    Clint Hendler Verified account @clinthendler

    Two millennial women, both members of Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, just triumphed in their bids to unseat longstanding moderate Democratic state representatives. The city machine is on notice.

    @innamo and @SummerForPA in the Our Revolution list posted above.


      1. Jessica

        Good news and thanks for posting it here.
        Might be good to post it again in the morning.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This is good, although — taking the idiotic comments about Boomers above into account — that “millennial” is placed before DSA, which makes no sense especially if you are the “S” that DSA stands for.

  35. J Sterling

    “Robots may be taking on more tasks, but researchers say that doesn’t necessarily include killing jobs. As companies automate more jobs…. the increased productivity is spurring demand for positions that rely on decidedly human attributes”

    They keep beating the stuffing out of a straw man. Of course there is always going to be, on average, approximately as much employment as there are people to be employed. Even the Highland Clearances eventually shook out so that some crofters found a new life in America, some found employment in Scottish and English cities, and some found a place in the remainder of the Highlands economy. The question is whether there was a human cost from the disruption (yes) and what effect did this have on long term wealth inequality (it increased it, and the landlords’ heirs still benefit from it today after all these centuries)?

    And yet talk about today’s wage stagnation and increasing wealth inequality, and they scratch their heads and declare it a mystery.

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