2:00PM Water Cooler 5/16/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Mexican negotiators don’t expect North American trade talks to wrap up this week after all. The likelihood that an early rewrite of the North American Free Trade Agreement won’t be done this week extends the uncertainty for companies with complex cross-border supply chains” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]he countries are divided over issues such as a U.S. demand for a minimum level of North American content to be sold without tariffs in the U.S. Mexican officials also are frustrated by U.S. demands for the pact to sunset in five years, which Mexico’s Economy minister says would add uncertainty for auto makers while asking that they ‘change their entire business model.'”



“Vice President Joe Biden’s 5 ideas for helping America’s middle class” [Brookings Institution]. A real yawner, except for the last idea: “Vice President Biden’s fifth theme address innovation and entrepreneurship, which he characterized as ‘at the heart of the American economy.’ But, ‘so many Americans are being left out’ because, among other reasons, three-quarters of venture capital goes to four U.S. cities. He proposed, for example, a race-to-the-top plan that would induce states more friendly to investors.” I dunno. Enterprise zones? Is that what this means?


Please check back in a few minutes for more on Pennsylvana. –lambert UPDATE 2:40PM Done!

“2018 House Overview: The Expanding Playing Field” [Inside Elections]. “With six months to go before Election Day and their national generic ballot lead slipping to 5 points in the Real Clear Politics average, Democrats are still likely to have a good night in the House. It’s less clear whether Democrats will have a great night or an historic one. One thing is clear: Democrats are on the offensive in the House. After our latest round of ratings changes, we have 68 Republican seats rated as vulnerable compared to just 10 vulnerable Democratic seats.” Here are the ratings; at a quick scan, it’s apparent that “vulnerable” isn’t the same as changing from, say, Tilt-R to Toss-up. I’ll have to update the worksheet…

“Democrats bet on net neutrality voters in 2018” [Axios]. Yesterday, it was the Better Deal (after we heard nothing about that for a year). Today, it’s net neutrality. Whatever.

First the numbers and the charts:

UPDATE ‘Pennsylvania Primary Election Results” [New York Times].

UPDATE “Primary election results: Pennsylvania, Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon” [Vox].

Now the identity politics headlines:

UPDATE PA “Women sweep to victory in House primaries” [Politico]. Let’s just hope they’re not Daughters of the Confederacy. A wrap-up (omitting Sanders-backed Greg Edwards, oddly, or not).

UPDATE PA-07 “Primary Results: Democratic Women Prevail In Pennsylvania Contests” [NPR]. “The messy Democratic primary [in PA-07] showcased the competing factions the party had to overcome as it tries to flip such districts. Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli attracted attention as the most conservative Democrat on the ballot. An immigration hard-liner who opposes abortion in most cases, Morganelli had deleted tweets slamming progressive groups and praising President Trump, CNN reported. EMILY’s List, which backed Wild, and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer’s NextGen America both went on the attack against Morganelli. The Rev. Greg Edwards had the backing of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and claimed the progressive mantle, but he finished in third place.”

Now the political economy headlines:

UPDATE PA “Socialist-backed candidates score primary victories across Pennsylvania” [FOX]. “Four candidates backed by the Democratic Socialists of America won primary races Tuesday night for Pennsylvania’s legislature, sparking supporters to declare the movement is on the rise… All four winners were female candidates running as Democrats for state House seats, including two from the Pittsburgh area, Summer Lee and Sara Innamorato. Lee and Innamorato defeated incumbent Democrats in the heavily Democratic districts southeast and north of Pittsburgh, respectively, and are running unopposed by Republicans in the November elections. The two other Democratic and DSA-backed winners in the Pennsylvania races Tuesday night were Elizabeth Fiedler and Kristin Seale in the Philadelphia area, another Democratic stronghold. Fiedler is also running unopposed, while Seale, who won by roughly 1 percentage point, faces Republican incumbent Rep. Christopher Quinn, according results from the Pennsylvania Department of State. All four women defeated male incumbents in the races.” Impressive.

UPDATE PA “Socialist-Backed Candidates Sweep Pennsylvania State House Primaries” [HuffPo]. “According to Arielle Cohen, co-chair of Pittsburgh DSA, it reflects a revival of the socialist-leaning economic left in the wake of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2016 presidential bid. ‘It feels like a monumental shift,’ Cohen said. ‘We won on popular demands that were deemed impossible. We won on health care for all; we won on free education. We’re turning the state the right shade of red tonight,’ she added.” Ouch! Sure, the seats are at the state level, but the left’s bench is stronger now. Two, three, many Pittsburghs.

UPDATE PA “Progressives Score Major Victories in Pennsylvania Primaries” [Daily Beast]. “John Fetterman, the burly, bearded mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania, won the primary for lieutenant governor, knocking off Democratic incumbent Mike Stack. Fetterman, who ran a strong Senate challenge in 2016, will now join Gov. Tom Wolf’s ticket in November. ‘I’m just coming at this in a low-key, overwhelmed, humbled place,’ Fetterman reportedly said as he accepted the nomination. ‘I just want to take our message of ‘All places matter,’ and I’m so honored by the people of Pennsylvania to be the nominee for lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania.” Recently, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) endorsed Fetterman and campaigned on his behalf.” “All places matter.” Ouch!

* * *

UPDATE “Interview with Levi Sanders: On Running for Congress and More” [Progressive Army]. Levi Sanders: “When three people own more wealth than half the rest of the country, we have a major problem!” Lead with that.

UPDATE “Why Democrats can’t win the ‘respect’ of Trump voters” [Paul Waldman, WaPo]. “But the mistake is to ignore where the belief in Democratic disrespect actually comes from and to assume that Democrats have it in their power to banish it… It’s more than an industry, actually; it’s an industry, plus a political movement. The right has a gigantic media apparatus that is devoted to convincing people that liberals disrespect them, plus a political party whose leaders all understand that that idea is key to their political project and so join in the chorus at every opportunity.” Waldman seems to consider “Trump voters” as an essentialist category, ignoring the fact that, at the margin, Obama voters who flipped to Trump cost Clinton the election. (Why not try to win them back?)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“In recent cycles, it’s been common around the country for more than 40 percent of seats to be left uncontested. This year is different. States where filing deadlines have passed have seen more Democratic candidates sign up than any time since at least 1982. “Thank you, Donald Trump,” says Andrea Dew Steele, president and founder of Emerge America, which recruits and trains Democratic women candidates” [Governing].

“CIA Nominee Wins Panel Endorsement, Clearing Way for Confirmation” [Wall Street Journal]. #TheResistance, apparently, doesn’t extend to resisting torture. Good to know. To be fair, Haspel had to torture twice as many people as any man would have*. And plenty of liberal Democrats would love to have Assange tortured (or, since they’re liberals, have somebody else torture him). So there’s a bright side. NOTE * A member of the NC commentariat invented that one-liner, so hat tip to you, whoever you are!

UPDATE “Doug Jones to oppose Haspel as CIA chief” [The Hill]. BWA-HA-HA-HA!!!! This is the crassest example of “Revolving Hero” I’ve ever seen! Doug, sweetie, you’re doing amazing.

“Is There an American Center Anymore?” [RealClearPolitics]. “Seattle City Council unanimously passed a $275 ‘head tax’ for every employee of companies making over $20 million in the city. This tax is not the reason for my believing that political polarization can be reversed. The reaction to the tax from two companies widely recognized as to the left of America’s diminishing political center, Amazon and Starbucks [!!!], is the reason. Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener expressed the company’s disappointment by the ‘City Council decision to introduce a tax on jobs.’ Herdener went on to say that the city ‘does not have a revenue problem – it has a spending efficiency problem.’ Starbucks spokesperson John Kelly said the city ‘hasn’t been accountable enough to prove it can use the [additional tax] money wisely.’ ” Oddly, or not, both the Starbucks and Amazon spokesholes seem to believe that government should be accountable to them.

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, April 2018: “Unequivocal strength is the message from industrial production which rose” [Econoday]. “The standout gain in the manufacturing comes from business equipment where volumes rose 1.2 percent and which point to second-quarter strength for business investment. Production of consumer goods is right behind with a 0.9 percent gain. And the gains in manufacturing come despite a step back for vehicle production which fell 1.3 percent. Showing no tariff effects are construction supplies which rose 0.3 percent in the month…. Manufacturing in this report may finally be coming alive, joining the host of small sample surveys which have long been reporting strength and moving perhaps in line with acceleration underway in the factory orders report. Though tariff effects are a wildcard, manufacturing looks to be an outstanding contributor to this year’s economic growth.” And: “There was significant revision to the existing data over the last 6 months. Overall the year-over-year growth of the seasonally adjusted data was reduced by 1%. The best way to view this is the 3 month rolling averages which improved. Industrial production is in a long term upward trend” [Econintersect]. “Manufacturing employment rate of growth is accelerating year-over-year.” And: “Industrial production increased in April to 107.3. This is 23% above the recession low, and 2% above the pre-recession peak” [Calculated Risk].

Housing Starts, April 2018: “Despite headline declines, the housing starts and permits report for April is mostly positive” [Econoday]. “b[B]ehind all the volatility in the numbers is a housing sector that continues to climb at a solid rate, reflected in year-on-year change that shows total starts up 10.5 percent and permits up 7.7 percent.” And: “As I’ve been noting for a few years, the growth in multi-family starts is behind us – multi-family starts peaked in June 2015 (at 510 thousand SAAR)” [Calculated Risk]. “[N]ow I expect a few more years of increasing single family starts and completions.”

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, May 2018: “The jump higher in April did not hold in May as business inflation expectations fell back” [Econoday].

Shipping: “Shippers and consignees, small carriers and owner-operators, with ELD in place, are now able to ride the wave above of this detention-based focus and should actually be able to price properly, be paid properly, and get compensated when [plays] take place” [Logistics Management]. “The net effect should be based on shippers really understanding the value of the time, as opposed to mileage. The biggest thing ELD have brought to light in my opinion is that whether a truck is inside or outside of the dock, the minutes count the same. Those minutes are being managed efficiently now, but that has not always been the case. Now, exterior inefficiencies that affect the loading and unloading of truck drivers across America are given the same level of importance as interior inefficiencies affecting forklift drivers and warehouse workers, and that has been a long time coming. These things reflect the reality of freight….so nothing is able to be sub-priced below market or subsidized through activities outside of hours of service. It allows people to be paid fairly for the work they are doing, and I think that is a good thing for the job of the truck driver and a good thing for the industry.”

Shipping: “Italian shipping non-performing loans up for sale top $1bn” [Splash 247]. “As of today in Italy there are roughly $1bn of shipping-related non-performing loans (NPLs) up for sale, according to Fabrizio Vettosi, managing director of the private equity fund Venice Shipping & Logistics. Speaking at a conference in Italy, Vettosi added that banks have already dismissed some. Furthermore he added that “the banks has already dismissed some $1.6bn of NPLs in recent years, drastically transforming the landscape of the Italian shipowning scene. Key buyers to date have mainly been speculative financial investors such as Taconic Capital, Attestor Capital, Pillarstone, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and Bain Capital.”

Commodities: “Coal prices are climbing on strong demand from China, and boosting U.S. rail traffic. U.S. export prices for electricity-generating coal have soared 16% during what is usually a seasonal lull in the business… helped by rising demand in China and export restrictions from some global suppliers” [Wall Street Journal]. “Chinese thermal-coal imports were up more than 50% year-over-year in March, as power plants there burned more of the commodity despite Beijing’s efforts to support local miners by restricting suppliers from overseas. South Africa is among major producers that have limited exports because of high local demand, and prices for Australian thermal coal also are soaring. Demand is improving coal business at U.S. railroads, which saw coal carloads tick up 2.4% in April, when average weekly shipments reached the highest level since last October.”

Transportation: “Recreational vehicles are flying off the lots even as domestic auto sales sag. ” [Wall Street Journal]. “U.S. RV shipments jumped 17% last year and hit a new monthly record in March, shipping more than 50,000 units during a typically slow season for RV sales. The boom has pushed manufacturer Thor Industries Inc.’s backlog up 34% in the most recent quarter, one of its best ever. Rivals like Winnebago Industries Inc. also report strong growth even as investors raise concerns about inventory and the impact from steel and aluminum tariffs. The resurgence has led to labor shortages in manufacturing strongholds like Elkhart, Ind., where workers at RV assembly and parts plants can earn as much as $90,000 a year.” I wonder how many of those RVs are retirement homes.

Tech: “Connected Cars Hit the Brakes” [Bloomberg]. “Almost 6 million cars with embedded telematics were sold worldwide in the first quarter, just 1.5 percent more than in the year-earlier period. Some manufacturers may be hesitant to increase their offerings until they can gauge the effect of hostile trade rulings on suppliers and data-privacy regulations on consumers.”

Tech: “One of the most jaw-dropping moments from its keynote this week was Google’s demonstration of a technology that lets its Assistant make appointments over the phone, mimicking real human speech to do so. It was genuinely impressive tech, as the AI chat bot responded to a real human in ways that seemed almost too fluid to be true — and indeed, Google later clarified that the Assistant only works for now in highly specialized encounters”* [The Week] “But the problem with the demo was clear: The Assistant tried to mimic human speech and thus represented an attempt to fool the person on the other end of the phone. Google even added in ‘uhhs’ and ‘umms’ into its speech patterns to make its voice assistant seem more believable. Yet conflating human and digital speech without clearly demarcating between the two raises a host of ethical questions — not least is the effect on real people whose job it will now be to talk to digital bots all day. This is to say nothing of the moral effects of a world in which humans and digital assistants are indistinguishable.” NOTE * The algo doesn’t work, so control the inputs.

Tech: “Exclusive: NSA encryption plan for ‘internet of things’ rejected by international body” [WikiTribune]. “An attempt by the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) to set two types of encryption as global standards suffered a major setback on Tuesday, after online security experts from countries including U.S. allies voted against the plan, for use on the ‘internet of things.’… source at an International Organization for Standardization (ISO) meeting of expert delegations in Wuhan, China, told WikiTribune that the U.S. delegation, including NSA officials, refused to provide the standard level of technical information to proceed. The vote is the latest setback for the NSA’s plan, which was pruned in September after ISO delegates expressed distrust and concerns that the U.S. agency could be promoting encryption technology it knew how to break, rather than the most secure.” Crazy talk!

Mr. Market: “Italy’s markets spooked as antiestablishment agenda fuels fears of ‘new crisis'” [MarketWatch]. “Italian bonds and stocks were sent sharply lower on Wednesday, with investors spooked by a draft proposal from Italy’s two main populist parties to radically change the country’s relationship with the rest of Europe. The 39-page draft, obtained by Huffington Post Italia and published late Tuesday, outlined plans by the 5 Star Movement and the League to ask the European Central Bank to forgive €250 billion ($294 billion) of Italian debt and renegotiate Italy’s contribution to the European Union’s budget. The proposal also included a suggestion for new rules within the eurozone to allow member states to leave the monetary union.”

Five Horsemen: “The Fab Five are mixed in early trade, with all remaining below their highs of last Friday” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 16 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index receded to 60 (complacency) as the put-call ratio soared to 1.11 in yesterday’s selloff, indicating a rush toward downside protection” [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 15 2018

Net Neutrality

UPDATE “Senate Democrats Poised for Small Victory on Net Neutrality” [Roll Call]. “So Wednesday’s expected win on a joint resolution that would upend the effort by the Federal Communications Commission to reverse Obama-era regulations on net neutrality will be cause for mild celebration. The Senate voted, 52-47, in favor of a motion to proceed to the measure under the expedited rules of the Congressional Review Act, with the chamber expected to pass the resolution mid-afternoon. With the measure facing certain opposition in the House, it will be little more than a symbolic victory for the Democrats. It could, however, be yet another issue to motivate their voters to head to the polls in November.” Yes, symbolic actions will do that [nods vigorously].

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“US cell carriers are selling access to your real-time phone location data” [ZD Net]. “Four of the largest cell giants in the US are selling your real-time location data to a company that you’ve probably never heard about before…. little is known about how LocationSmart obtained the real-time location data on millions of Americans, how the required consent from cell user owners was obtained, and who else has access to the data. Kevin Bankston, director of New America’s Open Technology Institute, explained in a phone call that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act only restricts telecom companies from disclosing data to the government. It doesn’t restrict disclosure to other companies, who then may disclose that same data to the government. He called that loophole ‘one of the biggest gaps in US privacy law.'”

Class Warfare

“Why Robots Won’t Inherit the Plant” [Industry Week]. “According to research from the Boston Consulting Group, robots perform about 10% of tasks in a typical factory. They expect that number to rise to 25% by 2025—a fast growth pace, but hardly enough to lead to human obsolescence in manufacturing. Human beings—good old flesh and blood—are the primary creator of value inside the factory, and will remain that way for many years. This despite the almost daily headlines that proclaim robots are extending their dominion over one facet of humanity or another. According to the headlines from April alone, humans are slated to be obsolete in retail, food delivery, assembling Ikea furniture, and student counseling. I no longer believe these predictions. I don’t expect the role of humans to materially change inside the factory any time soon.” “The primary creator of value inside the factory.” The Bearded One would approve. Well worth a read.

“Drone Pilots’ $2,000 Paydays Drop 90% in ‘Race to the Bottom’ [Bloomberg]. “Three years after federal regulators began allowing commercial drone flights, the fever to cash in has turned into a pitched battle for business. Prices for collecting airborne data have plummeted amid a flood of competition equipped with cheap, hi-tech aircraft that practically fly themselves. That’s pressuring operators, while handing customers new opportunities for affordable drone inspections, pictures and other services.”

News of The Wired

“How the Enlightenment Ends” [Henry Kissinger (!), The Atlantic]. “Users of the internet emphasize retrieving and manipulating information over contextualizing or conceptualizing its meaning. They rarely interrogate history or philosophy; as a rule, they demand information relevant to their immediate practical needs. In the process, search-engine algorithms acquire the capacity to predict the preferences of individual clients, enabling the algorithms to personalize results and make them available to other parties for political or commercial purposes. Truth becomes relative. Information threatens to overwhelm wisdom.” Oddly, or not, Kissinger overlooks the business inventives that cause search companies to “nudge” “users of the Internet” to act this way. Speaking for myself, I, as an Internet user, have always prioritized “contextualizing or conceptualizing,” which is why the crapification of search is a concern, even a grief, to me.

“Twitter Inc. is turning to greater automation in its battle against abuse on its platform, saying its software will start automatically demoting response posts that it determines are likely to disrupt or disturb users’ conversations” [MarketWatch]. “The change, which will roll out over the coming week, isn’t designed to deal with accounts or messages that violate Twitter’s content policies, which the company says it already takes action against. Instead, the new approach targets accounts that Twitter says exhibit signs of ‘troll-like behavior’ and that ‘distort and detract from the public conversation on Twitter.'” If this were a law, instead of an opaque algo on a for-profit platform that nominally functions as a public utility, it would be called “The Blue Check Protection Act of 2018.” And where the hell is the edit button users have been screaming for? Just give us three minutes to correct typos, @jack. That’s all we ask!

“Tales From The Loop — Review” [Gnome Stew]. For gamers or those who want insight into gaming, but this is Simon Stålenhag and I like his work a lot.

Too bad this is on paper:

I love the combination of maps and timelines.

Ow! My eyes!

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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 (BLCKDGRD):

BLCKDGRD: “Green’s back!” And a wonderful feeling it is!

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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. DJG

    More reasons and not-reasons for the Italian jitters.

    President Mattarella seems to have put the kibosh on any referendum about remaining in the euro. So I’m not sure that a renegotiation will come to pass.

    The 5Stars and the Lega keep proposing the Flat Tax instead of a progressive income tax, now in place. My contention is that the Lega’s goal is to make Italy the world’s largest Austria, a semi-retired nation living on its past. Now it looks as though the coalition will want to make Italy the world’s largest Latvia, living on bad tax policy, bad government decisions, and forced emigration. What’s not to like?

    Salvini wants to be in charge of the Interior ministry: Justice + immigration. What could possibly go wrong?

    And yet the food in Italy is still better than anywhere else in Europe. (Although Greece surprised me recently.) We just don’t seem yet to have emerged from Lent and early spring, when the Torinese make “bugie.” Lies. (That is, crullers with powdered sugar.)

  2. allan

    Did Henry K contextualize Cambodia and conceptualize Laos, or vice versa?

    One reason to have life sentences for war criminals is to prevent them from spending their dotage
    burrowing their way back into respectable society by spouting cr*p like that.

    1. Cat Burglar

      I know. Contextualize a firebombing run on a village of bamboo huts — eliminating a threat to freedom? Or the richest nation in the world destroying the lives of some of the poorest people on the planet?

      Still, here he is moved to write in a magazine for upper-middle class readers, making a move on the public chessboard. He might not be AI himself, but it likely behooves us to parse his ruling-class pidgeon for what really concerns him.

      His stuff about the Enlightenment and free-thinking individuals probably can’t be taken seriously. If so, then C. Wright Mills was way ahead of him when he wrote, “More rationality does not necessarily wise up the individual.” My guess is that Kissinger is concerned about the political legitimacy of AI and the results of using it — that’s why he spends so much space considering the ability (or not) of AI to explain its actions. They’ll have to be justified, or maybe the serfs will pull the plug!

      He is unhappy that AI will have the power to prevail in any situation, even if it is failing in terms of its results for the objects (aka, us) of its actions, with no explanation provided. Kind of like trying to settle an unpaid medical bill with your insurer through their automated phone system. Perhaps Kissinger has not had to do this himself.

      My guess is that HK might have been moved to write because he has heard of some as-yet-secret-to-the-rest-of-us technology that bothered him. (It is reassuring that he hints that the internet has provided enough information to the serfs that we may need some kind of controls to keep people from providing the wrong context — he seems to feel that free thought is a great tradition, but that there must be limits other than what facts and logic would provide.)

      Over the years, I have found it very useful to try to guess what Delphic pronouncements from ruling-class decision-makers really mean. They need to make sure the professional foot-soldiers know enough to help out — that’s why articles like this one are published. But you can’t tip your hand enough to let the serfs wise up to the next swindle or war — so theses types have to write in pidgin.

      Learning to read this stuff takes some time. I remember hearing in high school that advanced thinkers were considering the likelihood that nation states might become obsolete — as an adult I discovered they meant free global capital circulation, deindustrialization, and war to create failed nation-states, not world peace. By the time the internet came around, you could see far enough ahead that when Snowden spilled the beans it was just confirmation of what most of us had already guessed. So I think HK’s article deserves some time and attention to interpret what it really means, and get a head start on how we’ll mess with the inputs.

      1. Summer

        All the ways AI can back-fire on the staus quo are his concern.
        How it screws over the “little people” won’t merit concern.

      2. djrichard

        They need to make sure the professional foot-soldiers know enough to help out — that’s why articles like this one are published. But you can’t tip your hand enough to let the serfs wise up to the next swindle or war — so theses types have to write in pidgin.

        The media always has its antennae up, looking for the next great marketing campaign, for which the media itself can be the vehicle of dissemination. “Let us be of service.” I don’t think it even matters if the serfs wise up. The media will simply drown them out. Unless of course there’s competing media with a counter campaign. And there are ways to deal with competing media. Besides, musn’t have too much dissent – it’s bad for business don’t you know.

        And as GWB showed us, a great marketing campaign can be built on the flimsiest of pidgin.

  3. marym

    North Carolina teachers strike

    Thousands of North Carolina teachers poured into downtown Raleigh and marched to the state’s General Assembly on Wednesday morning in the latest in a series of red-state public school teacher uprisings across the country.

    The demonstration was believed to be the largest teacher protest in North Carolina’s history, with educators creating a sea of red on Fayetteville Street and inside the assembly galleries as they demanded more public school funding and better salaries for school staffers.


    1. dcblogger

      thank you for this link, so great to see teachers standing up for themselves and the rest of us.

  4. funemployed

    Thanks for the gaming link. I’m not sure if you non-gamers know this, but video games have turned into a bonafide art form. Some of the most trenchant, subtle, and insightful social commentary can be found in them for those with the time to play them (and the ability to pick the right ones). Grand Theft Auto 5 is, IMO, one of the best satires of capitalism and american culture that I’ve seen in some time. Those who have decided it’s just a glorification of violence and crime have clearly not played the game. It is clearly intended as satire (not to mention being disturbingly fun). (I recommend the PS4 remastered version).

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      the Metal Gear Solid series is pretty in-your-face about privatization of military operations and the blurring of corporate and government roles, as well as unlimited warfare and unlimited budgets for it.

      My nephew played them when he lived with me. Sometimes I’d watch. The cutscenes are like movies with gameplay interspersed in the storyline.

    2. Massinissa

      As far as political commentary in video games go, Bioshock is easily my favorite. It’s a full on satire of Ayn Rand’s Objectivism, and the dystopian underwater art deco atmosphere is still gorgeous.

    3. False Solace

      On the other hand, people with a really strong viewpoint are great at reading satire into places it doesn’t exist. There were plenty of conservatives who took The Colbert Report at its word. Kind of like Schroedinger’s d-bag, who tells you he was joking after you take offense, the game devs spend tens of millions on a title that glorifies violence and misogyny then try to collect points for being ironic about it. And if you take seriously the message it proclaims at the top of its lungs, you’re the one with no sense of humor.

      1. Milton

        I can name other satire pieces that were lost on the followers of such: All in the Family, Springsteen’s Born in the USA, Woody’s This Land is Your Land, Roseanne and perhaps Banksy.

    4. ChrisPacific

      I haven’t done any RPG gaming of the non-video variety for a long time. I always thought that it was essentially a form of interactive storytelling. Some games make this more explicit than others (Amber Diceless Roleplaying was one that went very light on the algorithmic aspects and focused almost exclusively on how to progress the story) but all have it to some degree.

      Judging from the review it sounds like games have recognized this and become more sophisticated about addressing it (the six principles to keep in mind section was great).

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Stålenhag’s involvement makes this old codger file his game under “art” (like a novel) rather than “game” (like Monopoly). So I need to take account of the “new” (new to me) medium.

    5. steve

      Apropos to the gaming discussion I think the following vid would be of interest to most all here. The link starts you at the point I think you may find most interesting but I recommend viewing the whole thing if you are interested in a peek into a circa 2000 video game.

      Ross’s Game Dungeon: Deus Ex

    6. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t play computer games myself — I quickly found out they were an enormous time sink when I had my Mac 512KE — but I’d like to post more about them, because clearly they are an enormous phenomenon.

      Is there a Bernie avatar or game, I wonder?

  5. Sid_finster

    Re: the internet of Kissinger. This is why I don’t see lawyers replaced by slgos any time soon.
    Contemplate the meanings, shades and contexts of the word “deal”.

  6. Timmy

    “US cell carriers are selling access to your real-time phone location data”

    So how long will it be before a crime occurs and cell phone data is used to identify all the phones that were in some close proximity to the crime? It will be justified in order to “speak with potential witnesses”.

    Now I want to turn my phone off if I’m traveling…

    1. Clive

      ApplePay and the Android me-too version of the same rat you out to the card issuer, the acquirer, the card network and whoever else left a couple of twenties on their nightstands. Avoid, unless you want to sacrifice what little smidges of privacy we still have left. How hard is it to get a bit of cash out your wallet, for pity’s sake.

      Do I sound tetchy today? Perhaps it’s because I’m still smarting over being snubbed at Harry and Megan’s nuptials. I’m sure my invite got lost in the post. I’d have asked Lambert to accompany me as my S.O. He loves all that monarchist stuff, the pageantry, the class consciousness. I’m sure he’s as disappointed as I am.

      1. Carolinian

        I wonder what you British think of the TV series The Crown–being shown here on Netflix. I’ve just finished season two and think it is a terrific show.

          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘But we do sometimes struggle to tell the difference between the reality of the Royal Family and the fictional Game of Thrones.’
            I can help out here. Game of Thrones is the ones with the boobs and dragons in it. Otherwise not much difference as both grew out of the War of the Roses. Oh, and the Lanisters don’t call themselves the Firm. Not a fan of royalty myself.

        1. False Solace

          I’m personally really bored of the numerous series and films that glorify living and recently deceased members of the Royal family (The Queen spent its time imagining HRH’s reaction to Diana’s death, The King’s Speech won all sorts of awards). They’re all heavily airbrushed. I get that the Queen is popular over there, but can the hand of propaganda be any heavier?

          1. Carolinian

            Actually popular entertainment’s take on the modern royals seems quite irreverent. This especially goes for The Crown where the only admirable character turns out to be Elizabeth herself. (If the show is to be believed she never wanted to be queen and was saddled with the job–not that one should feel sorry for England’s richest woman). The stage play King Charles III imagines Charles finally taking the throne and turning out to be bonkers.

            That said, Victoria has been getting a bit of an image burnishing at the flix. See the wonderfully acted if heavily fictional Victoria and Abdul.

        2. Lunker Walleye

          We are watching The Crown again, this time with the subtitles turned on. Certainly missed a good deal of dialogue the first time through. Elizabeth is a fairly sympathetic character except she continually shat on her sister because of tradition, if one is to believe that is an accurate portrayal of the history. The costuming, sets and music are all terrific.

        1. Clive

          And yet people say that life outside the EU will be the ruin of us. Having seen the quality of that memorabilia I cannot see anyone claiming our export-led future is not soundly assured. What has, say, Germany, got apart from precision engineering and cars with electrical systems that connect all the bits together properly?

          And for all those precious metal fans who sully this blog with their presence, we’ve got that covered too with these fine collectibles:


          Don’t tell that PlutoniumKun, but I reckon after a couple of years of those sales, we’ll be able to make an all-cash offer to buy that pesky Republic out. Lock stock and barrel. No border issues for us then!

          Maybe Venezuela should get a monarchy.

          1. ambrit

            Oh good heavens man! Whitworth threads were good enough for great grandad!
            As for Ireland. Another round of mercantilism?

          2. voteforno6

            Maybe the UK could export some more pasty-skinned, emaciated-looking guitarists. We haven’t had a good one in a while…

        1. ambrit

          Since the Colonies have an ‘entertainment’ industry that holds no scruple against stealing the plots entire of English popular culture without financial recompense, how about a reimagining of the ‘Pirates of Penzance’ as “Pirates of the Potomac?”
          Who would be best considered for singing “I Am The Very Model of a Modern K Street Lobbyist?”

            1. ambrit

              Ye gads!
              “..wobbliest..” An Ivy League alum goes undercover as an IWW ‘organizer’ to get the goods on a corrupt ‘working class’ Regulator. Including the rousing send off song: “Hail. Hail. The Corporate Personhood’s All Here!”
              “..knobbiest..” The quaint tale of ‘Blustery Richard’, intrepid thing Regulator as it tries to detumesce a bout of rampant inflation in the wages category. With the wallet tugging duet between ‘Blustery’ and self engorged consumer advocate ‘Donnie Cheeto:’ “The Wages of Sin.” (In French in the original staged play.) Segues into “Are You Just Happy? (To See Me.)”
              “..hobbiest..” Too many possible avenues for satire here to adequately map out. Some memorable songs from this hallowed entertainment. “If I Knew What I Was Doing, I’d Have Baked The Books.” “You Don’t Know (The Class I’m In.)” “House Of The Rising Son.” (With slight reprise.)
              “..Globalist..” The Illuminiatiing story of “The Men Behind the Curtain.”

  7. Jim Haygood

    Well there they go again … those European oil traders, pushing Brent crude up to $79.10/bbl as I type. That’s another 3-1/2 year high. Chart:


    Seems like just a couple of weeks ago that West Texas Intermediate was doing the “battle of the round number” at 70 (it won). Now Brent crude, which sells at a premium to WTI, is about to take a run at 80.

    Cut off an important oil producer (Iran) from access to payments, and bad sh*t happens to ordinary Americans driving to work. We know who did this.

    1. John k

      Ah, but a nice little hot war might do more… if I was Iran under attack I would do my damnedest to take out th e saudi oil fields.
      And this would be bound to affect at least the Kuwait Iraqi oil flowing thru Hormuz. Might cut 15 mil b/d…
      We net import over half our consumption. A lot from Canada and mex, but hello 300/b Brent. All producers outside Persian gulf celebrate.
      And maybe that’s the point of the exercise…
      Saudi doesn’t seem worried…

  8. allan

    Counterterrorism Spending: Protecting America while Promoting Efficiencies and Accountability [Stimson Center]

    … Stimson’s research suggests that total spending that has been characterized as CT-related – including expenditures for governmentwide homeland security efforts, international programs, and the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria – totaled $2.8 trillion during fiscal years 2002 through 2017. …

    With this growth, CT spending has become a substantial component of total discretionary spending for programs across a wide range of areas, including defense, education, and medical research. Of $18 trillion in discretionary spending between fiscal years 2002-2017, CT spending made up nearly 16 percent of the whole. …

    The Stimson study group found a variety of weaknesses in definitions, tracking, and consistencies that limit accuracy and contribute to a lack of transparency regarding the current data on CT spending. These weaknesses make it difficult to evaluate whether CT spending has been effective at enhancing security at home or overseas. …

    If it’s difficult for a think tank to evaluate whether CT spending has been effective at enhancing security at home or overseas, surely it’s also difficult for The Bad Guys™ to evaluate. So, rather than whining about the lack of transparency, shouldn’t Stimson be congratulating the War on Terror Industrial Complex for its superb tradecraft
    that keeps both friend and foe in the dark?

    Cost-plus, single bid, no oversight contract them over there
    so we don’t have to cost-plus, single bid, no oversight contract them over here.

  9. Carolinian

    So is Henry Kissinger saying that before the Internet ordinary people sat around “interrogating history”? I think not. Of course academics did this and produced people like….Henry Kissinger (a former prof).

    What ordinary people did before the Internet was watch television–hardly a more enlightening activity. For the scholarly it’s hard to see this new electronic Gutenberg as anything other than a benefit.

    1. Summer

      His points about AI/internet are good, but he’s longing for the days of a different type of elite control of messaging to the masses.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes no leaks allowed else one must have “plumbers.” We all know how that turned out.

  10. Darius

    If Democrats can’t stand up for net neutrality, they really should just go home. It’s an essential, but small element of an actionable program. A given interior wall may be essential to a house design but doesn’t a whole house make!

    BTW, what’s with the House? They have the CRA too. Is Pelosi not into it? Or publicly for it but privately putting the screws to it? That’s her signature.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If Democrats can’t stand up for net neutrality

      Hidden assumption: The Democrats stand for (and have stood up for) anything. It’s hard to make a case for that. Sorry, liberal Democrats, but there are plenty of revolving heroes, plenty of “fighting for,” but not a lot of, er, universal concrete material benefits. And constant nonsensical inconsistencies and self-owns like “Listen to black women!!But never Nina Turner!!!!!! I mean, greatest crisis in generations in 2008 — which means greatest opportunity in generations — and all we get is this lousy ObamaCare? WTF?

  11. Oregoncharles

    ” Amazon Vice President Drew Herdener expressed the company’s disappointment by the ‘City Council decision to introduce a tax on jobs.’ ”

    Ironically, I agree. Payroll taxes, which this is, penalize desirable behavior – hiring people, in this case. Granted, a city may have too many jobs. Mine does: about half of those who work here live somewhere else, causing nasty traffic problems. We need more housing, not more jobs. Seattle may well be in the same fix. But that’s an unusual situation.

    Basic political economy: try to tax bads, not goods. Or something that has a relatively neutral impact and is proportional to ability to pay: income tax. In the Seattle case, that would be a corporate income tax, which the companies wouldn’t like any better. Taxes are social engineering; on the federal level, they’re PRIMARILY social engineering, so it’s important to pay attention to the impact.

    I assume they went with a payroll tax because it’s easy to administer. There is also a lefty delusion that they come out of the company. Only profit taxes do that.

    PS: this comes up in Oregon because we’re THAT close to passing state-level single-payer. The next question is how to pay for it; most people come out ahead, but there’s a large transfer from insurance payments to the state budget. The Oregon Green Party is involved in the campaign, so my chapter was asked for our opinion on the best approach. Sales taxes are political poison here, and as above, I object to payroll taxes for non-employment-related purposes. We more or less concluded the best bet would be a surtax on the state income tax, which is substantial. The biggest advantage is that it would be dedicated funding, so the purpose is clear and it doesn’t just disappear into the state’s coffers.

  12. dcblogger

    as lambert says, Bernie’s real threat to the Versailles Democrats is the small donor model. This the significance of this tweet from Act Blue:
    As of last night, grassroots donors have raised more this election cycle than in the ENTIRE 2016 cycle. Small-dollar donors gave $781M in all of 2015 & 2016. But since Jan 2017, we’ve handled $783M for thousands of groups — with six months to go until Election Day! #BlueWave2018

    1. junez

      Here is the Washington Post’s take on this:
      “The far left is winning the Democratic civil war,” by James Hohmann “THE BIG IDEA: Tuesday was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day for Democratic moderates. The success of very liberal candidates in primaries across four states is causing a new bout of heartburn among party strategists in Washington, who worry about unelectable activists thwarting their drive for the House majority. But it also reflects a broader leftward lurch among Democrats across the country since President Trump took office.– In Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, where GOP Rep. Charlie Dent’s retirement created a winnable open seat for Democrats, early front-runner John Morganelli – a district attorney who has been locally prominent for decades – lost the primary to attorney Susan Wild, who ran at him from the left. Morganelli, who opposes abortion rights and “sanctuary cities,” was attacked relentlessly on the airwaves for speaking positively about Trump and tweeting that he was open to taking a job in the administration during the transition.” When they could have had another Republican!

      1. dcblogger

        early front-runner John Morganelli – a district attorney who has been locally prominent for decades – lost the primary to attorney Susan Wild, who ran at him from the left. Morganelli, who opposes abortion rights and “sanctuary cities,” was attacked relentlessly on the airwaves for speaking positively about Trump and tweeting that he was open to taking a job in the administration during the transition.”

        thank you Susan Wild for saving us from this

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      $783M vs. $781M with six months to go.

      That would be about 25-30%, including the next half year.

      After adjusting for inflation, it could be less, not 25-30% more.

      Inflation – what type of inflation? That is the key. The inflation in medical care is a lot higher than general inflation. And wage inflation, if exisis, is less. Some say wage is in deflation. So, we have to look at the specific type of inflation here, namely, campaign spending inflation.

      Two considerations:

      1. 25%-30% more than 2 years ago is probably low, considering how much more money has been poured into elections.

      2. If you can try to get to 100%, instead of 25-30% more, so that we know we do have more even after adjusting for inflation, it’s likely Big Money (with their stock gains over the last 24 months – Amazon, for one example, has more than doubled from May 2016 to now) will up their game, and spending even more, relatively to the small donors. Here, we have an endlessly escalating arms race in campaign spending.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I am thinking that the answer is the small donor network plus (and this is what I have thought for years) a fixed platform that will take a few decades to play out (“elections come and go,” but this would be something to teach children about…).

      The spectacle of liberal Democrats fighting among themselves about what they’re going to stand for this year is not edifying.

      And small donors in and of themselves are not good. What if the small donors are all Daughters of the Confederacy?

      But couple a fixed platform with a firm commitment to small donors and an organization of national scope to handle the donations and you might have something.

  13. Jim Haygood

    A new psychological malady has emerged in San Francisco — zuckophobia:

    Former and current nurses at the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital on Saturday protested for the facility to be renamed after recent news about the Facebook data leak earlier this year.

    Protesting nurses say some patients are reportedly fearful that their own privacy may be in jeopardy since the 147-year-old hospital is named after Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, and his wife Priscilla Chan. The couple donated $75 million to the hospital in 2015.

    A stipulation of accepting Zuckerberg’s hefty donation was that the hospital be renamed — which was approved by the city’s Board of Supervisors. Some are now questioning the decision.

    Saturday’s demonstration was led by Sasha Cuttler, a nurse who covered Zuckerberg’s name on a sign at the entrance of the hospital, the Times reported.

    One nurse who works at the hospital told the paper that the Zuckerberg name “scares” patients.


    One is reminded of the former Brendan Byrne Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. It was named for former governor Byrne, father of the NJ income tax.

    In 1996 — hungry for cash as always — the state rudely tore off the Byrne designation and renamed it Continental Airlines Arena.

    The Byrne family was miffed and said so. But taxophobes (guess who) cheered wildly.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s probably easier to put his name in a stadium, but it will cost more.

      U.S. Bank Stadium, in Minnesota, for example, cost $200 million.

  14. Lee

    News of the Wireless

    Went to a Peets coffee shop (much, much better than Starbucks) in San Francisco yesterday. I hadn’t been there for a couple of months and was treated to their brand new handle-free bathroom experience.

    First, the push button code key pad allowing entry has been replaced by a bar code ticket reader. Toilet and faucets now respond to hand waves. The faucet, which resembles the head of a hammerhead shark, also serves as a powerful air hand dryer. Evidently they didn’t read the recent study about how these dryers pick up and aerosolize fecal matter and other microscopic goodies. Paper hand towels were not on offer.

    There was good old fashioned toilet paper however, and I was a bit surprised that a hand-wave operated bidet or butt wiper was not and option. I wonder what happens in the event of a power failure. I guess you’ll be SOL.

    1. Kevin

      In case of power outage: Maybe the seats are glow-in-the-dark! (hey, I should patent that!)

      1. polecat

        Yeah .. but if the seats incorporated jellyfish genes in order to glow .. would you want to sit on one ??

    2. Wukchumni

      I’m glad that erstwhile public crappers needn’t the service of a bouncer yet @ the door that decides who gets to go in.

      1. Edward E

        I once put some money into toilet paper and revolving doors. Got wiped out before I could turn around…

    3. dcrane

      Can’t stand touchless faucets and towel dispensers. 50% of the time they don’t notice me. Give me a normal faucet handle any day. Just setting up the bathroom door so that you “push” to exit pretty much makes my day.

      1. Kokuanani

        I can’t stand the “air” hand-dryers. Tell me how much energy is wasted to power those things. Give me some paper towels.

  15. Sid_finster

    Re: shooting in Palestine.

    How the United States would react if Russia were doing the shootings is left as an exercise for the reader.

    1. The Rev Kev

      It would be more awkward if Trump adopted the same methods for those South Americans trying to approach and climb the US-Mexican wall.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Out of sight, out of mind:

      Along with Congressmen Hank Johnson Jr (D-GA) and Dan Kildee (D-MI), Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Mark Pocan (D-WI) recently called on the the Israeli government to permit them to enter the Palestinian region.

      The three congressmen visited Israel in 2016 but were denied the opportunity to cross into the Gaza Strip by the Israeli Coordination and Liaison Administration.

      Noting that the past denial of entry had “obstructed” them in their “obligation to exercise oversight over US tax dollars,” Pocan and his colleagues concluded their letter [to the Israeli ambassador] with a clear ask.

      “Given the current situation in Gaza, our attention is required now more than ever,” they wrote. “We can think of no reason to deny us access to Gaza again, short of making sure that outside officials not see the worsening conditions. With that, we respectfully request that the Israeli government expedite and approve our request to enter the Gaza Strip for the purpose of observing and evaluating the U.S.-financed humanitarian work.”

      Pocan told The Nation on Monday that he and his colleagues had yet to receive a response.


      Pretty cheeky for a rich country that sucks nearly $4 billion a year out the US budget to deny travel privileges to members of Congress. But their request violates the cardinal principle of Congressional junkets to Israel: a totally one-sided presentation in which the “not supposed to be here” Palestinians remain invisible.

  16. Darthbobber

    Amazon and Starbucks piece from the retired Auto exec editorialist at RCP.
    It is amazing, really, that someone can see the fact that large corporations don’t much care for paying taxes if they can help it and view local governments as their subordinates as a sign of anything other than continuity.

    Good to see someone other than a liberal taking these firms branding of a nebulous wokeness as reflecting some sort of serious political commitment. The delusion is apparently bipartisan then.

    1. cnchal

      I am going to do my part by reaching out to Drew Herdener and John Kelly to see if Jeff Bezos and Howard Schultz would begin a dialogue with two conservative business leaders I have in mind to find America’s center.

      When Amazon, the biggest tax suck this side of the military finds the American center, it will be a giant neon sign flashing the word “greed”.

  17. Darthbobber

    NSA encryption proposal for the internet of things:

    So the other nations are, alas, not totally blind. The probability that NSA is promoting an encryption tech it can already defeat is probably near unity.

    They now represent “us” at the ISO on such matters? Good to know.

      1. Montanamaven

        She was my friend. She was a fierce and tireless activist as well as a stunningly good actress. She was the best thing to happen to Montana politics and we will sorely miss her. She helped form a group in 2004 called “Montana Women For”. It advocated for womens rights and issures. We had a “Diversity” march before it was chic. She talked me into going to a Washington peace march in 2005 after having avoided them all my life. Over 300,000 people marched against the war. But nobody covered it. I began to retreat from party politics but Margie kept going. Her last huge resistance was joining the Native Americans at Standing Rock. She and her dog made several trips there. She was with Cindy Sheehan at Camp Casey. In the 1970s she was always on the front lines of the anti Nuke movement. What a force of nature. Thank you for the Pygmalion DC. I didn’t know about that one. I hope her memoir will be published. Montana is sad and much the worse for her no longer being here. She had the biggest heart and the sharpest mind of anyone I had ever met. It was a privilege to be a fan and a friend.

          1. Montanamaven

            Margot Kidder was from Yellowknife, Canada near the Artic Circle. Dad was a miner and former OSS. After Hollywood she moved to Montana in the 1990s to be near her daughter. She became a US citizen in 2005 in order to protest the Iraq war i.e. not get deported and have to leave daughter and grandchildren. Her Facebook page was amazing. Also for NCers, remember she did a piece on Counterpunch about what people called the money laundering activity of the Hilary Victory Fund. She called up local Montana Democratic State Party officials who didn’t seem to know much about it. Buying State Parties Loyalty
            They broke the mold with her.

  18. Koldmilk

    The NSA is now completely distrusted by security standards committees as they have been caught too often introducing deliberate weaknesses into crypto standards. Most famously, the mathematical backdoor found in the NSA’s proposal for an elliptic curve based random generator.

    Most comments on the NSA’s IoT proposals (eg on Bruce Schneier’s blog) are that it’s obvious attempt to replace trusted algorithms with their own for “reasons” — that the NSA can’t reveal but “trust us”. And unnecessary, the cipher is such a small part of the transmission overhead that a faster version is no help. The real security flaws are in the protocols and implementations.

    It’s also a tactic they have used many times previously: complicate a simple standard with so many options that it can’t be completely analyzed and implementations end up flawed in unknown ways.

  19. fresno dan


    Kaitlin Bennett didn’t like the rules that kept her from carrying a gun on campus.

    So the day after she received her bachelor’s degree in biology from Kent State University on Saturday – no longer bound by those rules – she put on a summery white dress, flung an AR-10 rifle over her back and posed for photos around campus.

    She accessorized with her mortar board, decorated with a picture of a rifle and the words, “Come and Take It.”
    Bennett told the school she planned to take the photos on Sunday, university spokesman Eric Mansfield told Fox 8 in Cleveland. Once she graduated, she was “no longer restricted under the policy as a student.”
    If it is her right to carry, why did she inform the college in advance? Why not just show up with an AR-10?
    And shouldn’t political conventions, especially republican conventions, allow open carry – to show support of the 2nd amendment?
    One of my HICAP appointments cancelled this afternoon, leaving me free to make mischief….. flying fingers on internet keyboards spread the devil’s gospel….or sumthin’

    1. JBird

      If it is her right to carry, why did she inform the college in advance? Why not just show up with an AR-10?

      On paper, she has that right. In the law, she has that right.

      The law and her rights be damned.

      If she did not:

      1) tell them in advance,
      2) show up at broad daylight,
      3) be young,
      4) be good looking,
      5) a graduate of that college,
      6) be female
      and oh yeah,
      7) be white,

      what might have happened to her if she had not done, or been, all seven of those things?

      Police killing people because somebody twitching, or not hearing the police, or being confused, or tired, or drunk, or naked, “made them fear for their safety” is something you can see on YouTube. For extra sickness, look for the puppycide killings.

      We have the right not to have our money stolen by the police. Yet they do. They are supposed to have a warrant before searches. Often they don’t. People are routinely abused for doing legal things that annoy a police officer. Heck the Border Patrol can stop, question, and search you within a hundred miles of the border realistically for any reason they choose.

      Anyways, it is the campus where the National Guard killed four students and wounded nine in 1970 for reasons that were never clear.

      1. JBird

        Excellent point! Young, good looking, blonde, and a woman seems to be among FOX’s requirements. It’s like the Stepford Commentariat.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Three of the Five Horsemen contributed nearly 60 percent of the S&P 500 index’s total return year to date, says S&P. Contribution to YTD gains:

    Amazon ….. 25.5%
    Apple …….. 18.2%
    Microsoft … 15.5%
    TOTAL ……. 59.2%

    By sector, Information Technology — which includes four of the Five Horsemen, but not Amazon — contributed 97% of the YTD return. Consumer Discretionary (Amazon’s sector) held second place with a 28.8% contribution. Six other sectors actually subtracted from returns, led by the meltdown in Consumer Staples which sucked 36.2% out of the index.


    Info Tech ringing up 97% of the return — and a mere three stocks generating 60% of the index return — is called narrow leadership. It’s very reminiscent of 1999, when Info Tech was the only game in town and the other sectors were dead in the water. And we remember what happened a few months later: Mar 24, 2000 marked the end of Bubble I.

    1. fresno dan

      Jim Haygood
      May 16, 2018 at 6:15 pm

      Considering the three have all the money in the world, it seems the ROE isn’t really all that special….

  21. fresno dan


    Despite resigning in disgrace after the Parkland school shooting, former Broward Sheriff’s Office deputy Scot Peterson is receiving a generous state pension that will pay him more than he made in his last year on the force.

    Peterson’s monthly pension, which began in April, clocks in at $8,702.35, according to a report from the South Florida Sun Sentinel published Tuesday evening. That’s $104,428.20 per year in pension payments, compared to the $101,879.03 he was paid last year, the Sun Sentinel reports.
    I would say that is an excessive pension for almost any occupation. I think most regular NC readers know police work is not a particularly dangerous profession:

    and he’s 55

    1. Octopii

      Even $101k in FL must go pretty far. How does a sheriff deputy with the job title of school security guard get to $101k anyway?

    1. allan

      Which will inoculate them against GOP attack ads. Totally. /s

      While torture is a completely valid issue on which to oppose Haspel,
      something which hardly gets mentioned is the larger issue of the IC’s contempt for congressional oversight.
      Destruction of evidence, lying under oath, spying on Senate staffers
      and even making fraudulent criminal referrals of the staffers to DOJ,
      all of which you would think would be of concern to members of The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body,
      somehow fall by the wayside when the votes are needed.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Destruction of evidence, lying under oath, spying on Senate staffers
        and even making fraudulent criminal referrals of the staffers to DOJ,
        all of which you would think would be of concern to members of The World’s Greatest Deliberative Body,
        somehow fall by the wayside when the votes are needed.

        Are you crazy? Democrats will need all this stuff when they take back the Presidency. I mean, that’s why Obama didn’t do anything about it, right?

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