2:00PM Water Cooler 5/17/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The big figure overhanging today’s meeting is the record $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China racked up during Trump’s first year in office. When the two sides met two weeks ago in Beijing, the United States pressed China to reduce that by $200 billion over the next year in exchange for tariff relief. An administration official told our colleague Andrew Restuccia that China has countered by proposing to buy $150 billion worth of U.S. goods, but also cautioned that talks were still very much in flux” [Politico].

“Higher wages for Mexican auto workers could provide the key to a new North American Free Trade Agreement. The latest White House plan to overhaul the trade pact would set minimum pay at car factories at roughly $16 an hour, about double what workers at Mexico’s auto assembly plants earn and some four times the wage at parts plants. …[T]he proposal comes as the U.S., Canada and Mexico resume talks in Washington this week, and as the Trump administration seeks more support to gain an agreement in the next few weeks. U.S. negotiators have struggled to write rules without granting special privileges to the U.S. or explicitly singling out Mexico. Its plans are gaining traction in Detroit, but some foreign auto makers say some rules would penalize their operations, including their plants in the U.S>” [Wall Street Journal]. Eliminating capital’s ability to arbitrage the price of labor power over international borders? Not the first proposal one would expect from a Republican administration. I’m sure there’s a catch. But what is it?



“A Boring Presidential Nominee? Bring It, Democrats” [Bloomberg]. On outsider candidates: “Trump won the nomination narrowly, by historical standards. He took advantage of dysfunction in the Republican Party that doesn’t appear to be present among Democrats. And he benefited from a Republican openness to non-politicians (or new politicians) that goes back a while, with presidential candidates such as Herman Cain, Steve Forbes, Pat Buchanan and others all running fairly serious races – something that’s happened far more rarely on the Democratic side. Could that openness spread to the Democrats? I’ve learned never to say never. Still, it seems unlikely to me that Democratic party actors, who universally have nothing but scorn for Trump, will decide to emulate the Republicans who nominated him. ”

“Burlington, Vermont, Says “No” to F-35s, Setting Off a Chain Reaction” [Truthout]. “Notwithstanding lockstep support by the Vermont political and commercial establishment, the plan to base the fighter bombers in Burlington was shaken up in March when citizens voted to cancel the basing. While the vote was a major step toward revoking the plan, a bit more than a democratic vote of the people may be needed in view of the enthusiasm for F-35 basing that Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, US Sen. Patrick Leahy and commercial real estate developers continue to display, notwithstanding the serious harm the basing will impose on thousands of families.” C’mon, Bernie. Get out front on this.


“The Democrats’ Drive for 25 in the House: An Update” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “This piece revisits a proposed path to a Democratic House majority we sketched out in early February. Overall, the Democrats’ odds in the districts mentioned have largely but not universally gotten a little better. The California primary on June 5 looms as the most important date in the battle for the House between now and the November election. The Democrats’ odds of retaking the House majority remain about 50-50.” If you like handicapping in a “paths to victory” format, which those of you who remember my 2016 coverage will remember that I do, this is well worth a read. Still, “a little better.” Only a little? By now?

PA: “PoliticsPA Playbook: Primary Election Results” [Politics PA]. “In a bad night for Allegheny County incumbents, Democratic state Reps. Dom Costa and Paul Costa, and Republican state Sen. Randy Vulakovich all lost to primary challengers. They were the only incumbents in PA to lose Tuesday night.” Not happy with this coverage in the slightest. The victors — the only candidates to defeat incumbents in PA, to reword Politics PA’s coverage slightly — were all DSA-backed, were all women, one black, and one of them wore a [family blogging] nose-ring. “DSA-backed” plus a trailing space is — let me break out my calculator, here — only 11 characters. Would it have killed PA Politics to add that potentially salient fact?

PA: “A Democratic-Socialist Landslide in Pennsylvania” [The New Yorker]. “One of the D.S.A.’s tactics has been to target small races in order to build local power, in a way that Republicans have traditionally done better than Democrats: deploying armies of volunteers to knock on tens of thousand of doors, over months rather than weeks; crunching numbers to forge specific goals; and breaking down demographic data to reach specific voters. These methods allowed three political unknowns to wage a remarkably sophisticated insurgency within their own party.” This is a must-read. Note, however — here my cynicism and paranoia kicks in 00 the bios; one might think of these candidates aspirational 10%-ers manqué. Then again, you can’t start anywhere except where you are….

New Cold War

“Trump Tower transcripts show how one reckless meeting led to probe” [Jonathan Turley, The Hill]. “The public will have to reach its own conclusions on the Trump Tower meeting but it is now more likely to find enlightenment in the writings of a 14th century Franciscan friar than from partisans in Congress. William of Ockham is famous as the source of “Ockham’s razor,” the principle that when presented with competing possible solutions to a problem, one should select the answer that makes the fewest assumptions. There is an obvious explanation for the Trump Tower meeting, and it is not conspiracy, but stupidity.” Linking to this because Turley is one of the few writing on this topic to have retained his sanity, unlike (say) Larry Tribe, who has disgraced himself.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Dangerous Side of Democrats Viewing Demography as Destiny” [National Review]. A conservative response to Damon Linker’s article in The Week. “[T]he Left [the author has liberals confused with the left] is simultaneously crowing about the decline of the white voter while scolding any white voter who racializes their politics. A message that essentially declares, “Ha! White people your time is over!” and “It’s racist for you to care” is unsustainable outside progressive academies or corporations. The answer isn’t for politics to strive to ignore race. To ignore the role of race and racism in American history (or the American present) is to ignore reality. But I can think of few developments more destructive than doubling-down on racial identity as the defining strategy for coalition-building. Given the fact that American demographics are hardly changing at the same rate in every community, this is a recipe for Balkanization and division far more than it’s a recipe for Democratic dominance…. The more I look at each party’s long-term strategy for political dominance, the more I’m convinced that they’re not just fatally-flawed, they depend on assumptions of voter behavior and interests that will further polarize and destabilize our politics. Linker writes that ‘liberals risk actively antagonizing (and hence galvanizing against them) what will remain for some significant time to come the single-largest demographic group in the United States.’ He calls that foolish. I choose a stronger word. It’s dangerous for the continued health of a united, multi-ethnic republic.” The author says “each party’s long-term strategy.” But only mentions one party.

“On Neoliberalism” [Stumbling and Mumbling]. “If neoliberalism is a system rather than an ideology, what role does ideology play? I suspect it’s that of post-fact justification…. I don’t, however, want to get hung up on words: I’d rather leave such pedantry to the worst sort of academic. What’s more important than language is the brute fact that productivity and hence real incomes for most of us have stagnated for years. In this sense, our existing economic system has failed the majority of people. And this is true whatever name you give it.”

“Michigan State’s Endowment Is $2 Billion, Nassar Victims Will Get $500 Million” [247 Wall Street]. “Michigan State has settled suits that involved sex abuse by Larry Nassar, a sports doctor. The amount agreed upon to compensate approximately 300 women was $500 million. The university has an endowment of $2 billion, so the settlement is equivalent to a quarter of that. No one has stated publicly where the money will come from. Much of the university’s endowment is restricted, so it may not be available to cover payments. Much of the fund is devoted to research projects. Another portion is used for scholarships and incentives to hire and retain faculty. That does not leave much, if any money, for the $500 million settlement.” Puts a whole new set of connotations on #MeToo…

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, April 2018: “A rise in the factory workweek and a still favorable rate spread in the bond market (short rates lower than long rates) are the leading positives in April’s index of leading economic indicators” [Econoday]. “Though still solid, gains in the LEI have been easing back which the report notes lowers the chances that economic growth will accelerate later this year.” But: “Because of the significant backward revisions, I do not trust this index” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of May 12, 2018: “A strong May employment report is in the cards based on unemployment claims” [Econoday]. “Employers are holding onto their employees as never before in what is very convincing evidence that the labor market is at, or very near, full employment.” If the operational definition of “full employment” is what’s happening to the workers at Meridian’s magnesium plant (see below), then I think the definition of “full employment” needs to be rethought. Full of what? A question that answers itself, once asked…

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, May 2018: “A 45-year high for new orders tops a May Philly Fed report that is one of the strongest on record” [Econoday]. “Signs of overheating are easy to find especially selling prices which jumped nearly 7 points to a very hot 36.4 and the highest reading since May 1981. Input prices slipped back slightly but remain extremely elevated at 52.6. Another sign of stress comes from delivery times which, at 18.5, are among the very highest in the report’s 50 years of data. And the sample is hiring, at 30.2 which is up more than 3 points and the second highest on record…. The results from small sample surveys, such as the Philly Fed where a month’s responses may total no more than 100, have to be taken cautiously. But there is little question that overheating is a risk for Philly’s sample and by extension, perhaps, for the whole of the factory sector where order growth is nearing a 10 percent clip.” And: “Consider this a much stronger report than last month as key elements strongly improved” [Econintersect]. Remarkably unqualified for Econintersect.

E-Commerce Retail Sales, Q1 2018: “The pace of online shopping picked up in the first quarter” [Econoday]. “But year-on-year growth slowed slightly…. As a percentage of total retail sales, e-commerce rose 4 tenths to 9.5 percent.”

Debt: “NY Fed Q1 Report: “Total Household Debt Rises for 15th Straight Quarter, Led by Mortgages, Student Loans” (charts) [Calculated Risk]. “There is still a larger than normal percent of debt 90+ days delinquent [but] the overall delinquency rate decreased.”

Shipping: “Boeing 747s Are Back From the Dead” [Bloomberg]. “Demand is strongest for used 747s originally built as freighters, since they have hinged noses that flip open to load oversize cargo such as oil-drilling equipment. Lease rates have rebounded for the aircraft, while the number of stored models has shrunk to the point where almost every airworthy plane is spoken for, according to George Dimitroff, head of valuations for Flight Ascend Consultancy. The resurgence is even starting to extend to cargo-haulers converted from passenger jumbos, which are heavier and can load only via doors carved into the side. Once written off as dead, the converted 747 freighters have shown new life over the last nine months, Dimitroff said. While it’s not quite a comeback, lease rates have climbed for older models.”

Shipping: “Maersk sets course for cost-cutting programme after unveiling first-quarter losses” [The LoadStar]. Maersk Line will cull unprofitable services, cut capacity and reduce feedering in an urgent bid to stem losses caused by a toxic mix of low freight rates and soaring fuel costs. The refocused Maersk Group recorded an net loss of $239m in the first quarter across its Ocean, Logistics & Services, Terminals & Towage and Manufacturing & Others business divisions. Chief executive Soren Skou said the result was ‘unsatisfactory’ and that ‘a number of short-term initiatives are being implemented to improve profitability.’

Shipping: “Maersk revenue up 30% YOY in Q1; ocean volume lagging” [Freight Waves]. “Tellingly, the photograph on the cover of Maersk’s interim Q1 report (see above) depicted Maersk’s first block train, which left China’s Hubei Province on October 28, 2017, and arrived on time in northern France 20 days later, after a journey by rail of 6,720 miles. Maersk’s containers never touched a ship, and made the Eurasian journey in roughly the same transit time a ship would take from Shanghai to Rotterdam. The publicity photo on the cover of the report functions as a piece of visual rhetoric supporting Maersk’s new identity as an ‘integrated global container transport’ company and its determination to seek more growth and wider margins on inland logistics services.”

Shipping: “Maersk warns on trade risks as disappointing first quarter earnings hit share price” (interview) [Reuters]. Chief Executive Soren Skou: “We have to admit that the Americans have taken a number of initiatives recently that have caught us by surprise.”

Manufacturing: “Ford Resuming Output of F-Series After Supplier Fire” [Industry Week]. “Production of F-Series pickups will restart first at Ford’s Dearborn, Mich., factory on Friday, then at plants in Kentucky and Missouri on Monday. The automaker said all three factories will be at full production by Monday and it has rebuilt its supply chain for key magnesium parts used in the trucks and in sport utility vehicles including the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Explorer, according to a statement…. To get production up as quickly as possible, Ford airlifted an 87,000-pound die to a Meridian plant in the U.K. on a Russian-built Antonov An-124 Ruslan, one of the world’s largest cargo planes. The massive die, used for stamping parts, made the trip from Eaton Rapids to Nottingham, England, in 30 hours, with necessary import documents secured two hours before the plane touched down. Normally, it would take 10 days for such a move, according to the company.” Hmm. That’s not going to be so easy after Brexit. And I wonder if the (Chinese-owned) plant in Michigan is still a hellhole? Read on–

Manufacturing: “Michigan auto parts plant explosion highlights brutal conditions in supplier industry” [World Socialist Web Site]. “In recent years [Meridian] has been cited for more than half a dozen safety violations, including several incidents where workers suffered serious burns. Two more were injured during the explosions earlier this month. Workers report a hazardous environment in which untrained people are routinely assigned to dangerous jobs… With 400 employees, the factory is the largest employer in the town of 5,000 people. The work force has a high rate of turnover and poverty level pay. Thirty-six percent of workers have four years or less and another 45 percent have between five and nine years. An assembly line worker makes just $11.67 per hour, a fork lift driver $12.84 and an assembler gets a mere $13.74… The low wage regime confronting auto parts workers is the outcome of a long process in which the UAW has collaborated with the major car companies and auto parts suppliers to drive down wages.”

The Bezzle: “Too Clever By Half” [Epsilon]. “Every truly disruptive discovery or innovation in history is the work of coyotes. It’s always the non-domesticated schemers who come up with the Idea That Changes Things. We all know the type. Many of the readers of this note ARE the type…. Financial innovation is always and in all ways one of two things — a new way of securitizing something or a new way of leveraging something…. Finding new ways to trade things (securitization) or new ways to borrow money on things (leverage) is what financial innovation is all about, and there are vast riches awaiting the clever coyotes who can come up with a useful scheme on either…. The biggest market disasters happen when both leverage and securitization get mixed up with the same clever scheme, as when new ways of leveraging and securitizing U.S. residential mortgages were developed in 2001, resulting in the creation of a $10 trillion asset class that utterly collapsed during the Great Financial Crisis… Many of the coyotes involved with this classic example of financial innovation gone awry are (professionally) dead. At the very least careers were permanently derailed, and entire coyote institutions, like Bear Stearns, were taken out into the street and shot in the head by animal control officers were merged into healthier financial institutions by government regulators as an example to other coyote institutions as a necessary measure for systemic stability. I miss Bear Stearns. The world is a poorer place for Bear Stearns not being in it.” This is awfully funny, and talks about real coyotes and real racooons — in the Connecticut suburbs, naturally — and, also naturally, blockchain. I’d be interested to know what any non-domesticated schemers in the readership think of it.

The Bezzle: “JPMorgan launches crypto strategy months after Dimon ‘fraud’ warning” [Financial News]. “The US bank has just moved Oliver Harris, the head of an in-house scheme to develop new financial technologies, into a role looking at the use of cryptocurrencies across its corporate and investment bank, according to people familiar with the matter. London-based Harris, who has been leading JPMorgan’s Fintech and In-Residence programme since 2015, moves at a time when large US investment banks are exploring the risks and rewards of digital monies and the distributed ledger — or blockchain — technologies that underpin them.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla May Need $10 Billion in Funding by 2020, Goldman Says” [Industry Week]. “Goldman joins a growing chorus of investors and analysts who see additional financing as not only wise, but vital. Moody’s Investors Service, which downgraded Tesla’s credit rating further into junk in March, expects Tesla will need to raise about $2 billion to offset cash burn this year and account for debt maturities through early 2019. CreditSights has a similar expectation, though that could be less if the company follows through on its production targets or borrows through its bank credit line.”

The Bezzle: “U.S. Army, Uber sign research agreement” [U.S. Army]. No, not the Duffel Blog. “The joint work statement focuses on research to create the first usable stacked co-rotating rotors or propellers; this is a concept for having two rotor systems placed on top of each other and rotating in the same direction.”

Tech: “Apple as a Service, Part 1: Entering a Period of Greater iPhone Visibility” [247 Wall Street]. Interesting series: Parts 2, 3, and 4. I want my [family bloggins] MagSafe connector back. That’s not a service.

Five Horsemen: “Yesterday Standard & Poors identified the top three performers in the Five Horsemen chart — Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple — as having contributed sixty percent of year-to-date return of the S&P 500 index” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. “Narrow leadership.” No problem there!

Five Horsemen May 17 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index bounced to 63 (complacency) as VIX dropped to 13.42 and the put-call ratio receded to 0.89” [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 16 2018

Health Care

“Medical Mystery: Something Happened to U.S. Health Spending After 1980” [New York Times]. One word: Neoliberalism. More: “For spending, many experts point to differences in public policy on health care financing. “Other countries have been able to put limits on health care prices and spending” with government policies, said Paul Starr, professor of sociology and public affairs at Princeton. The United States has relied more on market forces, which have been less effective.” And how a neoliberal translates that: “This willingness to pay more has in turn made the United States an attractive market for innovation in health care.” It’s true. Single payer is not “innovative.” It’s all been done before. It is only simple, rugged, and effective.

“Vermont becomes first state to permit drug imports from Canada” [Politico]. “Vermont Republican Gov. Phil Scott Wednesday signed legislation making his state the first to legalize importing prescription drugs from Canada, an idea President Donald Trump’s top health officials oppose that’s also drawn fierce opposition from the pharmaceutical industry…. Several steps remain before the Vermont program would take effect. The state would be required to submit a certification request to the federal government by July 2019.”


“Hurricane season is expected to bring at least 14 named storms in 2018” [MarketWatch]. “Colorado State University is forecasting 14 named storms, including seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes. North Carolina State University is forecasting 14 to 18 named storms, seven of which are expected to grow to hurricane strength, and three to five of which may become major hurricanes, defined as Category 3 or higher.”

Class Warfare

“The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy” [The Atlantic]. “So what kind of characters are we, the 9.9 percent? We are mostly not like those flamboyant political manipulators from the 0.1 percent. We’re a well-behaved, flannel-suited crowd of lawyers, doctors, dentists, mid-level investment bankers, M.B.A.s with opaque job titles, and assorted other professionals—the kind of people you might invite to dinner. In fact, we’re so self-effacing, we deny our own existence. We keep insisting that we’re ‘middle class.'” Yves linked to this, but let me throw in the additionals comments that (1) “the 10%” wasn’t a misnomer after all, (2) we also need a way to refer to the aspirational 10%-ers in the 90%, (3) yes, this is the Democrats’ base, and (4) we might consider thinking of of credentials, or the set of social relations and skills required to acquire credentials generationally, as a property interest.

“College May Not Be Worth It Anymore” [New York Times]. “They found that for Americans born into middle-class families, a college degree does appear to be a wise investment. Those in this group who received one earned 162 percent more over their careers than those who didn’t. But for those born into poverty, the results were far less impressive.” Note that these intergenerational effects are effects that class, at least with set membership functions as understood by Marx in Volume III, Chapter 52, of Capital — “the identity of revenues and sources of revenue” — does not offer an instantly obvious account of these intergenerational effects.

“Companies Can’t Hold the Line on U.S. Wages Much Longer” [Tim Duy, Bloomberg]. Ten years out from the last crash, and surely closer than ten years to the next crash, when a proper level of discipline will be restored. Anyhoo: “so-called real wage growth, which is what workers get after taking into account the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, decelerated to an estimated 0.6 percent rate in April… Using headline measures of the consumer price index, the news is even more disappointing, with average real wages up just 0.2 percent from a year ago… It is unlikely that companies can hold the line on wages – and depress real wage growth – when low unemployment encourages workers to quit their jobs in search of a higher salary. The Fed expects this as well, which is why faster wage growth alone will not prompt an acceleration in the pace of rate hikes. The surprise would be if wage growth didn’t accelerate. Such an outcome would call into question both the durability of consumer spending and the viability of the Fed’s expected rate path.” So the headline is deceptive…

“Almost Half Of US Families Can’t Afford Basics Like Rent And Food” [CBS]. “The economy may be chugging along, but many Americans are still struggling to afford a basic middle-class life. Nearly 51 million households don’t earn enough to afford a monthly budget that includes housing, food, childcare, healthcare, transportation and a cell phone, according to a study released Thursday by the United Way ALICE Project [here]. That’s 43% of households in the United States…. ‘Despite seemingly positive economic signs, the ALICE data shows that financial hardship is still a pervasive problem,’ said Stephanie Hoopes, the project’s director.” That’s not a bug…..

News of The Wired

“Mice With 3D-Printed Ovaries Successfully Give Birth” [Smithsonian]. “As Katherine Kornei at Science reports, the researchers used a 3D printer to build the scaffolding of the organs, weaving layers of gelatin to create tiny (15 x 15 millimeter) ovaries on glass slides. They then tested the scaffolds by embedding a follicle—the tiny sacs composed of hormone-secreting cells that contain the maturing eggs.”

“10 Things You Don’t Know about Yourself” [Scientific American]. “Psychological research shows that we do not have privileged access to who we are. When we try to assess ourselves accurately, we are really poking around in a fog. Princeton University psychologist Emily Pronin, who specializes in human self-perception and decision making, calls the mistaken belief in privileged access the ‘introspection illusion.’ The way we view ourselves is distorted, but we do not realize it. As a result, our self-image has surprisingly little to do with our actions.” AA: “Self-knowledge avails us nothing.” Because it’s not knowledge?

“A New World’s Extraordinary Orbit Points to Planet Nine” [Quanta]. Pluto having been demoted. “[David Gerdes, an astronomer at the University of Michigan] and his colleagues spotted the new object in data from the Dark Energy Survey, a project that probes the acceleration in the expansion of the universe by surveying a region well above the plane of the solar system. This makes it an unlikely tool for finding objects inside the solar system, since they mostly orbit within the plane. But that is exactly what makes the new object unique: Its orbit is tilted 54 degrees with respect to the plane of the solar system. It’s something Gerdes did not expect to see. [Konstantin Batygin and Michael Brown, the astronomers at the California Institute of Technology], however, predicted it…. Batygin notes that the new object fits so perfectly with their model that it almost looks like one of the data points in their simulations. “A good theory reproduces data — but a great theory predicts new data,’ he said.” No false modesty there!

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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 (PM):

PM First mail: “Papaya in the backyard.” Second mail: “Neglected to add that the backyard is in Mazatlan.”

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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. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Are we talking about this – “Higher wages for Mexican auto workers could provide the key to a new North American Free Trade Agreement. ??

      If so, it bears repeating: “Higher wages for Mexican auto workers could provide the key to a new North American Free Trade Agreement.

      As to why, the link suggests workers in America and Mexico paid Trump millions, as a bribe, to get the above. I don’t think we want to deduce that from the link.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Quite the opposite, actually. I was suggesting that the Trump Organization is waiting for the auto manufacturers that have extensive factory investments in Mexico to throw something in the pot before the demand for higher wages is retracted.

        And, yes, I wondered if he could be that openly corrupt and decided that, yes, yes I believe he could.

                  1. ambrit

                    Would partially prepared be acceptable?
                    But then, it would be like a Chinese restaurant menu.
                    One from Column A.
                    One from Column B.
                    One from Column C.
                    Etc. etc.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  I’m not in that business; otherwise, I would have liked Trump to include that on the list of demands for China – buy more American pies.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Maybe I should have written ‘are you trying to have your pi and eat it too?’

  1. Steve H.

    Mx 3.52: “wages, profit and ground-rent.”

    Looks like a local/global distinction. Capital can flow quicker than wage-earners, which impacts the ground-rent that landowners can charge, since the wage-earners aren’t so much.

    Unless they’re getting rent from outside capital, which is what happens regularly in college towns. We have 3000 students from China supporting our local economy. However, outside capital has now fueled a building boom, and pht there go the local landowner incomes. The intergenerational effect is tied to where the capital is accumulating, and the elite competition for it is global.

    Which goes to the credentialing comment as well. Sheri Tepper had a definition along the lines of: “College: where young adults of like circumstances seek mates.” Give enough scholarships to talented individuals to push the pool toward success in the sense Freeman Dyson was referring to. So it’s not just credentials, nor the ‘learning how to learn’ doctrination, but a set of cohort relationships which is being purchased.

    If lucky, enter or retain 10% status. If not, misery loves company. And small groups of dedicated individuals cause change.

  2. Mark Gisleson

    Current pay for auto workers is right in line with the pay I got for piecework when I worked in a tire factory. I suspect, however, that my paycheck went a little further in 1981 than it would now.

  3. Wukchumni

    Remember a few months ago when you called it fraud & sly
    Sign up Jamie Dimon.
    Now there’s a look in your eyes, like a blockchain in the sky.
    Sign up Jamie Dimon.
    You were caught in the crossfire of hypocrisy and profit,
    Ethics sway with the breeze.
    Come on you target for faraway laughter,
    Come on you stranger, you legend, you martyr, and shine!

    You protested too soon, you cried as prices went to the moon.
    Sign up Jamie Dimon.
    Threatened by FOMO right?,
    And exposed in a bad light.
    Sign up Jamie Dimon.
    Well you threw out your welcome
    With random precision,
    Rode in on the ICO breeze.
    Come on you raver, you seer of visions,
    Come on you painter, you piper, you prisoner, and shine!


    1. The Rev Kev

      One of the all-time great albums that. Try this sometime. You know the first four minutes or so of that album? On a really dark night, go outside when there is going to be a full moon and start playing it just before the moonrise itself.

    2. JCC

      I recognized the tune in my head of your new lyrics before the end of the second line. Very good!

      And Kev, you are so right, I’ve done it… and it works very well. :-)

      1. crittermom

        Ditto! When living near a lake I longed to show him the real meaning of ‘underwater’.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Thanks. I’ve seen a few episodes and a lot of the fun is spotting your favorite Brit actors ‘way back when.’

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is that something to be concerned about that we get all these all English fairy tales, fables, legends and stories, but not many from say, Germany, or the Navajo tribe/nation?

        I mean, we have series like the Tudors, the White Queen, The White Princess, etc, and movies about Arthur, Avalon, Merlin, Harry Potter, King Charles III, etc. Beyond these, we might get something like the History of Ireland and the History of Scotland from the BBC, but not much beyond those two.

        I tried to get from the library something similar, like the History of Italy, but couldn’t find anything.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I remember watching the film, Alexander Nevsky.

            Other than Youtube, I wonder if it will be shown on our cable TV any time soon. That would be too friendly with the Russians.

            1. ambrit

              I had a VHS tape copy of Eisensteins’ “Alexandr Nevsky” at one time. Quite a good film. Lots of symbolism.
              I too despair of any ‘foreign’ films showing up on cable or Nutflix any time soon.
              I remember going to the Friends of the Library Thursday Night at the Movies back where we lived in Louisiana. Lots of good foreign films reeled there. There was, and might still be, a Public Television station out of, I believe Baton Rouge, that would show French films late on Saturday night, like “Les Diaboliques”, “The Wages of Fear,” “The Four Hundred Blows,” “The Pretty Young Things,” and such wonderful rarities as the 1934 Fritz Lang version of “Liliom,” with Charles Boyer as the carnival roustabout. I remember making the kids stay up one Saturday night to watch with Phyl and me “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.”

              1. Carolinian

                There’s a streaming channel now called Filmstruck that can be watched on Hulu. I think it’s like five bucks a month (don’t have it myself). It unites the Criterion Collection (basically Janus films if you remember them) with the Turner library. They play lots of foreign films.

                1. ambrit

                  That might actually be a good expenditure of resources.
                  Have you seen the prices asked for the Criterion films at retailers today?

              2. polecat

                I selected, from Netflix about 6 months ago, ‘KWAIDAN’ *.. a 1964 film comprised of a quartet of ‘ghost stories’ adapted from Japanese lore, by the director Masaki Kobayashi .. don’t know if it’s still available .. but it was Fantastic !!! . And will purchase if found … not sure, but it might be on the Janus Film list. The sets alone made the film worth watching, but of course the actors were superb as well.
                Nothing comparable in US film from that time that I’m aware of.
                *subtitled in english

                1. PlutoniumKun

                  Kobayashi was a marvellous film director. His three part film about the war in Manchuria ‘The Human Condition’ is a shattering watch, among the finest war films ever made (he was a veteran so he knew all about it).

                  Interestingly, Kwaidan was based on stories written by the American-Greek-Irish writer Lafcadio Hearne. He is almost forgotten in the west (except for a beautiful little Japanese garden in Tramore in Ireland in his honour), but the Japanese all respect him for making folklore respectable literature for everyone. There are numerous great Japanese films based on folklore tales, the best known of course being Studio Ghibli films like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. They even worked their way indirectly to the Western. Kurosawa’s great samurai film Yojimbo was based on the notion of no name spirits (marebito) who would arrive in towns to test peoples goodness. When remade as a Western the spirit became Clint Eastwoods The Man With No Name in a Fistful of Dollars, setting up an archetype for western film makers.

                  1. ambrit

                    Lafcadio Hearn is remembered in New Orleans where he worked on the local newspaper at the turn of the nineteenth century.
                    Kurosawa-sama also made the quintessential “Japanese Western”, “The Seven Samurai,” which became, in true full circle fashion, “The Magnificent Seven.”

    2. ewmayer

      For folks whose cable package includes the Decades network, a 30-min episode plays every night a bit after midnight. Fun stuff!

  4. tooearly

    “10 Things You Don’t Know about Yourself”

    Oh would someone the gift to gee us to see ourselves as others see us
    Robert Burns

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That brings back an early discussion.

      “You are not me, how do you know what I think.”

      “I am me, and I don’t know what I think ten times a day.”

        1. ambrit

          I’ve looked at the geezer who lives in out bathroom mirror and asked him: “And who the H– do you thing you are?”

  5. FreeMarketApologist

    So Uber gets the Army to co-fund part of the cost of a piece of the technology that may get their flying cars idea off the ground. (so the citizens have paid for that co-funding). And I’m sure it comes with the contacts and connections to yet another money dispenser that can be relied upon if they burn through the rest of the cash. Successes will only go to Uber’s original investors, and if the research ultimately fails, the citizens will have paid.

    Well played, I suppose.

  6. Optic7

    I had a realization the other day. We often hear these stories about the US spending a ton of money on healthcare and education and not getting as good results as nations that spend less. What they never seem to mention is that the US (as far as I know) allocates that ton of money very unevenly, so that we see things like some public schools having the latest and greatest facilities, technology, and services, while other schools are limping by with old or not enough books for every student, no AC or heating, etc. Is it any wonder that a ton of money is not bringing good average results if the bulk of the money is going to a minority of people?

    Same thing with healthcare, although healthcare seems even more subject to this effect and in a more twisted way. The fact that we have perhaps the most advanced (read: expensive) medical technology in the world works against our average outcomes per dollar spent, especially when combined with the perverse multiplier of uneven insurance coverage, even among people who are lucky enough to have insurance. I would imagine that super-high-tech radiation, genetic, etc treatments suck a lot of money out of the system (hundreds of thousands of $ a pop) that could otherwise go to cover a lot more instances of mundane healthcare needs (hundreds of $ a pop)?

    1. HotFlash

      Hmmn, maybe it’s just an American thing? For instance, I see similar results from US spending on their military. Would be interesting to see figures, for, say, water treatment, roads, or housing. Or even clothing and food.

    2. Tim

      excellent observation. Mean vs average skewing the data. Definitely could a mechanism for certain broad inefficiencies.

      Some of it is just over development of concepts and ideas in the pursuit of perfection of our humanity.

      Better can become the enemy of good enough on a long enough time horizon.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Ding ding, we have a winner! Where the market is king, healthcare is not provided based on need but on ability to pay. In those comparisons, the things most often cited are infant mortality rates and life expectancy. With the exception of obesity, caused by a combination of cultural and economic factors, chances are those impacted don’t get the high-tech bells & whistles. Think of all those uninsured women going without prenatal care! It’s shocking, really.

  7. Watt4Bob

    “What’s more important than language is the brute fact that productivity and hence real incomes for most of us have stagnated for years.”

    This sounds to me like just more of that mythological ‘skills mismatch‘ thing.

    Actually ‘our’ productivity has grown remarkably while ‘our’ wages that have gone nowhere.

    Once, when I mentioned how much our company’s employee’s productivity had grown due to the deployment of PCs, one of our anointed neoliberal gatekeepers piped-up that;

    “Productivity only means who can we fire.”

    That statement was delivered as if it was the word of God, and you better believe there were nodding heads all around.

    The neoliberal religion has articles of faith just like any religion, the first is that wages are always too high, the second is that the government must never interfere with anyone’s efforts to lower wages.

    Somewhere in the list is “Go along to get along” which has been widely interpreted as “Kiss up, and kick down.”

  8. Jim Haygood

    A report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the DOJ’s handling of the Clinton email probe is nearing release, reports the WSJ. Those invited to read it under nondisclosure agreements will be given several days to review and respond to it before the final version is released, said the WSJ.

    Meanwhile, commentator Paul Sperry is making some sensational claims in advance of the report’s release:

    Paul Sperry

    BREAKING: IG Horowitz has found “reasonable grounds” for believing there has been a violation of federal criminal law in the FBI/DOJ’s handling of the Clinton investigation/s and has referred his findings of potential criminal misconduct to Huber for possible criminal prosecution

    1:18 PM – May 17, 2018

    BREAKING: Comey/Yates targeted Gen. Flynn in C.I. investigation a yr BEFORE he communicated w Russian ambassador in Dec 2016 as a transition official–and the trigger was Flynn sitting at same table w Putin at Dec 2015 Moscow event, even tho Green Party’s Jill Stein also at table

    1:34 PM – May 17, 2018

    As the IG prepares to release his next report, Sally Yates is suddenly animated & agitated. She is tweet-storming against Trump, giving speeches bashing Trump, and spinning her role in the investigations in the New York Times. Yates appears worried about something ahead of report

    2:11 PM – May 17, 2018

    Well ain’t that a kick in the head. Can anyone possibly be surprised? Just to pick one factoid at random, some classified emails in Hillary’s custody ended up on the laptop of [now] convicted pedophile Anthony Weiner while he was sexting a 15-year-old.

    Contrary to Comey’s claim, “any reasonable prosecutor” would come down on this over-the-top egregious violation of federal law like a ton of bricks. And now they probably will.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s new, though not entirely surprising – targeting general Flynn one year earlier than previously reported?

      Will there a modern day general Smedley Butler tol expose this plot?

    2. Carey

      I would like to agree with your last two sentences, but will believe it when I see it.

      1. Jim Haygood

        It’s tempting to assert that “a long process is ahead of us” — but is it?

        Between the DOJ and FBI investigations, and the subsequent Congressional and Inspector General investigations of the investigations, a vast trove of primary evidence and documentation of internal decision making has been unearthed and studied in minute detail.

        Should prosecutor Huber decide to proceed, he could empanel a grand jury and start issuing subpoenas next month. When “little people” get indicted, this process proceeds quite briskly.

        Needless to say, partisan conflict would quickly escalate to the nuclear level. Democrats would scream “coup d’etat,” Republicans would holler “justice at last” — and voters, likely aggravated by the resulting popcorn shortage, would respond in November.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          If the circuses are less enjoyable due to popcorn shortage in November, perhaps soy bread (no Chinese buying) will be cheap.

    3. voteforno6

      Who is Paul Sperry? Is he a reliable source for this type of information? I still remember the Clinton Wars – Bill & Hillary were certainly involved in some shady things, but there were all sorts of crazy stories flying around as well. It doesn’t hurt to be skeptical of any claims concerning them.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        My question with respect to Paul Sperry is, did he sign a non-disclosure agreement?

      2. Nick

        Thanks, I would have posted this myself.

        What a stupid comment above, that cites NEWSPAPER COMMENTS as worth discussing. This tripe should be moderated out.

  9. Darius

    How would credentials and connections be considered property if they can’t be bought or sold?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some properties are so expensive they can’t be bought.

      Like the Mona Lisa (La Gioconda). It’s can’t be bought or sold.

      On the other hand, ‘love’ is bought and sold all the time.

      1. c_heale

        I don’t understand what, “Love is bought and sold all the time.” means. If love means a kind of affection and companionship without conditions, then it cannot by definition be bought and sold..

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I meant to differentiate between love and ‘love.’

          Here, I was referring to ‘love,’ and not love.

    2. jsn

      But they can be bought and sold, that’s the sole reason for the existence of all those old East Coast prep schools and Ivy league colleges, they’re privilege brokerages.

      Not only do these institutions dote on “legacies” but they require either wealth or suitable behaviors towards it for access and participation.

      Like intellectual property has become with it’s infinite time extensions, they are a set of self sustaining social agreements that concentrate certain benefits and transfer them across generations within the elite.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I recently read about something called the Core Club.

        One spends money to get in to acquire connections there, I hear.

      2. a different chris

        I think the question was “I can buy an Ivy League degree, but I can’t sell it to somebody else and go live on the proceeds”.

        That is, your Ivy League degree (which you did buy) allows you to sell yourself as an “Ivy League graduate”, but the degree itself is now non-marketable (you cannot sell it). If you buy a race car, when you decide you’re done racing and want a bass boat now you can sell the car.

  10. Byron the Light Bulb

    “Trump Tower […] ‘Ockham’s razor,’ […] not conspiracy, but stupidity.”
    –Why can’t it be both? And more? In medicine, there is the apocryphal Doc Hickam’s dictum, “A man can have as many diseases as he damn well pleases.”

    In other words, sure, a single common disease is more likely to be found in a patient, than a single rare disease, but likelier still, is that the patient’s symptoms are caused by more than one condition. Which does not exclude the possibility that the patient is suffering from an exotic affliction in conjunction with assorted run of the mill maladies. [Let’s have look…gout, bloody flux, apostem of the mouth… St. Anthony’s fire, iliac passion, hemorrhoids, and palsy brought on by drink.]

    1. ewmayer

      “Why can’t it be both?” — It most assuredly can, but the essence of Occam/Ockham’s razor amounts to “if you are faced wuth multiple possibilities and have no a priori reason to assign to one a higher plausibility than the rest, start with one(s) to which are the simplest to prove or disprove, because that will allow you to progress most quickly in your search for the truth.” IOW, let’s say I have limited time and resources – as do we all – and 2 possible explanations for something, one of which is fast and cheap to check, the other slow and expensive. Which to check first?

      But in the current context we are actually talking about Hanlon’s razor, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity”, sometimes alternatively stated as

      “Any sufficiently advanced form of stupidity is indistinguishable from malice.”

      But note there are other variants which caution to not rule out malice too quickly (especially when dealing with people known for such), and in fact one might also logically surmise that a malicious actor, knowing of the above bromide, would strive to satisfy the following kind of converse:

      “Any sufficiently advanced form of malice will attempt to cloak itself so as to be dismissible as mere stupidity and human-foibledom.”

  11. clarky90

    Re, “Almost Half Of US Families Can’t Afford Basics Like Rent And Food”

    Vladmir Putin became president of Russia in the year 2000. 18 years later, Putin has either exiled or tamed the Russian Oligarchs .

    “Subjective well-being”
    Average levels of life satisfaction (In the Russian Federation) have increased from 5.1 (on a 0 to 10
    scale) to 6.0 over the past decade.”


    IMO, President Trump also plans to tame the USAian Oligarchs and increase the well-being of the ordinary USA citizen. This explains the absolute, unrelenting horror expressed by The Democratic Party (the creature of Big Money) of Trump. They would murder him if they could.

    This also explains the MSM’s (the creature of Big Money) obsession with Russian subversion. There is an unfolding problem in the USA and it isn’t Russia! (“Almost Half Of US Families Can’t Afford Basics Like Rent And Food”?)

    We live in a time of Widdershins. Every explanation is upside down, inside out, moving in the opposite direction to the sun. Too complex for anyone to ever understand…..

    Think of the revelations we have recieved in the last couple of years. (The “metoo” movement being just one.) Trump is causing an emotional meltdown by the Elite. Their “loving, concern” mask is slipping.

    My expectation is that Trump will be President for his full eight years. President Ivanka Trump will succeed her dad for another eight years. This is a total of 16 years, about the same amount of time that Putin has been in power in the Russian Federation

    Considering that Trump is up against the United Big Money of the so called “left” and the so called “right”, I believe that he is doing splendidly. There is no direct way forward for Trump, so he is using his Improvisational Theatre, Clown Warrior Powers. The Eternal (and powerful) Fool.

    Out of this will grow a viable Progressive “Loyal Opposition” political movement. The neo-liberals and neo-conservatives are finished

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The basic humans needs are food, shelter and clothing.

      College education is not that basic.

      I believe free food and free shelter should come before free college, or at least the same time, every time the latter is mentioned.

      And if the former two are not more widely discussed/understood*, they need to be going forward.

      *But not being able to afford food or rent is widely felt (almost 50% of US families)

    2. dcblogger

      IMO, President Trump also plans to tame the USAian Oligarchs and increase the well-being of the ordinary USA citizen.

      so far Trump has cut taxes for the rich, and relaxed already inadequate environmental protections. He has filled with his cabinet with oligarchs. He is raising the rent for public housing tenants and cutting foods stamps. So I don’t see much reason to hope that he will do anything for the 99%.

      1. clarky90

        Donald Trump was sworn in as POTUS (only) 16 months ago. He is clearly NOT a Republican or a Democrat or a Green or a Libertarian.

        Who will be on his side? Not the ensconced, Washington apparatchiks (professional functionaries). Certainly not the Beltway Political Commissars. There has been concerted attacks on him, from every quarter (left/right/up/down), but still he stands, his orange hair waving in the breeze.

        There are similarities between Putin’s first term and Trump’s first term. The situations of their respective nations (2000 Russia/2017 USA) are hauntingly similar. Both nations hollowed out by frenzied greed.

        IMO, we have to give President Trump more time; Hercules was given 12 years to perform his labours.

        “…During Vladimir Putin’s first term as president, he took actions that indicated he could be an effective and cooperative leader and possibly reset the relations between Russia and the West. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, Putin pledged Russia’s support in combating terrorism. In 2002, he and U.S. President George W. Bush signed a treaty to reduce strategic nuclear weapons. In 2003, Putin brought the Chechen rebellion under control with a new constitution that established a semi-autonomous Chechnya as part of the Russian Federation. In more recent years, Putin has played a key role in reducing Syria’s chemical weapons and in eliminating nuclear materials in Iran, which helped facilitate the Iran nuclear agreement.

        At home, Putin consolidated his authority by ending the power struggle with Russian oligarchs and allowing them to maintain their economic influence in exchange for their unequivocal support. Uncooperative challengers were neutralized with relentless investigations and prosecutions and political opponents were intimidated to toe the line or face consequences….”


        I could easily be wrong about Trump. I thought that Nobel Peace Prize winning, President Obama was the Second Coming. No, I was mistaken.

      2. WheresOurTeddy

        The ability of a plutocrat to run as a populist, then govern as a plutocrat while some of his supporters delude themselves that he was ever a populist at any point rather than a charlatan who took them for their vote, is a skill. It has worked on a truly astonishing number of people. The first half (plutocrat running as populist) is standard fare; pulling off the 2nd leg is the hard part.

        Obama did a hell of a job. Bush’s PR team not nearly as strong.

        And they all govern the same way on the big ticket items that aren’t up for debate.

      3. relstprof

        Also,Trump nominating Gorsuch, lapdog to the ownership and managerial classes, shows his own knee-bowing to the Monied Establishment.

        As to 2020, it depends on who runs, and who runs smart.

    3. WheresOurTeddy

      “My expectation is that Trump will be President for his full eight years. President Ivanka Trump will succeed her dad for another eight years.”

      I’ll give you any odds you want on any amount of money you want that this does not come to pass.

      The last party to hold the presidency for 16 straight years was the Democrats from 1933-1953 with FDR and Truman, and the first of those two men actually did something to help working people not in the top 10%.

      When Trump gives his speech against the “Economic Royalists” and “Money Masters” instead of cutting their taxes, wake me.

      1. clarky90

        Did you bet on the last election? The odds were 99/1 that Hillary Clinton would win. ooops

        Give Trump a break. He has only been the president for 16 months. All the “cool kids” hate his guts and won’t let him sit at their lunch table. They talk behind his back. And are trying to get him expelled from school. But us deplorables think he is OK.

        Back in 1933, parents struggled to feed and shelter their families. They voted for FDR.

        In the 2020 elections, voters will again decide, based on their life experiences.

        Who will be your champion (your Goliath) to face off against Ivanka Trump in 2024? Good luck finding a suitable contender.

      1. Optic7

        The “rollsistance”?

        Seriously now, Gina Haspel being confirmed is the most outrageous news I’ve seen in a long time. Like, historic proportions outrageous, for the textbooks.

        1. pretzelattack

          maybe they can claim they were playing 11 dimensional chess. i haven’t heard that one for awhile.
          they brought the same energy and passion to fighting haspel that they brought to opposing the invasion of iraq.

    1. Craig H.

      The CIA wanted her.

      The CIA has dirt on every single one of those guys voting. This vote was pretty much a forgone conclusion, sad to say.

      I recently read MI6 by Stephen Dorril. It’s very long but reads pretty quick if you just skip over 70% of the names nobody really cares about and focus on what happens. The very best part (at least 10X better than the second best part):

      On 9 September 1946 a grenade thrown onto the balcony of his house killed the Area Security Officer and senior MI6 officer in Tel Aviv, Maj. Desmond Doran, while two colleagues managed to escape injury. According to Nigel West, “his death is thought to be the only active service casualty MI6 has suffered in the post-war era.” *

      * This would appear to be true and runs counter to the public perception that intelligence work is dangerous and violent.

      p. 544

  12. Jim Haygood

    Senate confirms Gina Haspel in a 54-45 vote as the next head of the CIA.

    Republican Senators Rand Paul (Ky.) and Jeff Flake (Ariz.) opposed Haspel. Sen. John McCain also opposed her nomination but was not present to vote.

    Democratic Senators Mark Warner (Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) supported the nominee.

    American values, comrades: any questions?

    1. polecat

      She’s the granny a with wry smerk and a waterboard —- I mean washboard … who lives in that decrepit ol’ mansion at the end of Langley Street, wanting to coax you inside with some ‘cookies’ laced with who knows what, intent upon things not spoken of.

      …. metaphorically speaking, of course.

    2. Jen

      Make me proud, Jeanne Shaheen. Her comment on faceborg:

      “Let me be perfectly clear: I believe torture is inconsistent with our nation’s values and its use has harmed America’s standing in the world. I also believe it is important to hold Gina Haspel’s nomination to a similar standard as previous nominees for this position, particularly in regards to responsibility for the CIA’s use of torture following the 9/11 attacks. Over the last few weeks, I’ve reviewed the relevant classified information regarding Gina Haspel’s career at the CIA and have spoken with previous directors of the agency and other colleagues. I have been impressed by the strong support for her nomination within the agency and the respect she has earned from her many years of service. Today, I had the opportunity to meet with her in my office and welcomed her recognition that the CIA’s so-called ‘enhanced interrogation program’ harmed our nation’s moral leadership and her pledge that it will never be used again. Gina Haspel’s extensive career and experience at the CIA have well prepared her to lead the agency at this critical time and I will vote to confirm her nomination. – J.S.”

      Because you are, and always have been a tool.

      1. WheresOurTeddy

        One would that that with their record over the last 70 years “strong support for her nomination within the agency” would be a disqualifying factor

    3. perpetualWAR

      The Gina Torturer Haskel was confirmed because the US believes they will get Assange.

      When they get Assange, the pitchforks better appear, People.

  13. Tim

    “Vermont becomes first state to permit drug imports from Canada”

    #1 I thought this was illegal at the federal level, and that US customs won’t allow it?
    #2 Is it possible to “sanitize” the imports, such that they can be sourced from Vermont for delivery to other states? If so Vermont is going to get so rich they won’t know what to do with all that cash. Maybe spend it on Bernie’s presidential campaign?

  14. Kurtismayfield

    Gig temp jobs in DC restaurants

    This story made me sick. This is a company called Snag Work which hooks up independent contractors with gigs.

    The company touts that it offers workers more than the minimum wage — starting pay is $13.34 in D.C. — and simplifies the job-hunting process. Snaggers don’t need to endure an onslaught of interviews or scan potentially dodgy listings on Craigslist. The service doesn’t show employers any demographic information about workers, either — just their qualifications, which can reduce hiring discrimination.

    “My heart bleeds for these hourly workers,” Harrison says. “What we’re trying to do is make it easier to find work that’s close at hand, that works for you, that’s around your schedule as opposed to the other way around.”

    That was the company spokespersons line. Of course it bleeds for them Of course would you provide them with anything??

    Companies are using these independent contractors … to basically lower labor costs,” says Houseman, vice president of the nonpartisan Upjohn Institute For Employment Research. “They are not eligible for any benefits that the company pays. They’re not covered by workers’ compensation or unemployment insurance. They’re not covered by a whole host of legal employment protections that have been put in place, such as wage and hours laws.”

    Oh so they are independent contractors, who have to pay their own insurance. So I am sure you are compensating them well for them taking on all this risk.

    Hannah Bedwell says Snag Work has helped her pay rent while she attends Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. A full-time student studying bioarchaeology, she’s worked as a dishwasher, a food runner and a prep cook, earning $10 an hour through Snag. She says the service isn’t exploitive — it’s empowering.

    “I mean, I’m not only paying my rent,” Bedwell says. “Instead of the cheapest groceries, I’m now getting organic groceries.”

    Sure you are.. in the DC area. While covering SSI and your health insurance. Oh wait you are a student you don’t care.

    1. neo-realist

      I’ve read that Richmond VA is rather affordable as opposed to DC. If Hannah has a roommate or mates, I could see how she could support herself. I’m not justifying the poverty wages, but rather understanding how she could cover her bills.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        She isn’t covering the bills.. legally. There is no way she could be payed $10 an hour as a contractor and be able to cover taxes, insurance, workman’s comp, etc. And still make the rent and “eat organic”.

        She is in college, so her Health insurance is paid for. But she is basically working as a service industry workers without any SSI, unemployment, workers comp… For $10 an hour. It’s ludicrous that this company can get away with this.

        1. neo-realist

          Parents helping out?

          And I don’t disagree with the injustice, but in that neck of the woods, the company probably does it because if there are a lack of options, it can.

          1. pretzelattack

            companies do that in any neck of the woods, because the regulatory apparatus is weak by design, and they bribe legislators to keep it that way, and deregulate further.

    2. HotFlash

      Wow, gosh, it’s like, it’s like getting a payday loan at 59.9%! Not making this up, rate from MoneyMart(tm)’s website.

    1. Big River Bandido

      You have a link for the accusation against Stacey Abrams?

      From what I know of the two “Staceys” who are running for the Democrat nomination, Abrams is a far better choice than Evans.

      1. edmondo

        From what I know of the two “Staceys” who are running for the Democrat nomination, Abrams is a far better choice than Evans.

        Depends on what the words “far better” mean I guess.

        Regarding your earlier question: Read it and be amazed at how “progressive” Ms. Abrams really is: I guess Bernie really wants some African-American votes in those Southern primaries in 2020 so it’s just eleventy -dimensional chess.


    2. Massinissa

      I cant find that info on Abrams anywhere. Are you sure you aren’t getting Abrams and Evans confused? Theyre both named Stacey.

      I voted for Abrams this morning. Better her than that neoliberal Evans.

  15. freedeomny

    That Bloomberg article on the Dems in 2020 was kind of lackluster. The journalist obviously doesn’t get what happened : “But Trump won the nomination narrowly, by historical standards. He took advantage of dysfunction in the Republican Party that doesn’t appear to be present among Democrats.” And then he gives a whole bunch of names of people in the Dem party that I’ve barely heard about…

    The gig is up. Unless there is a Dem Progressive willing to put single pay, student debt forgiveness/free college on their platform…..

  16. Wukchumni

    Rex Tillerson to graduating cadets at VMI:

    “If our leaders seek to conceal the truth, or we as people become accepting of alternative realities that are no long grounded in facts, then we as American citizens are on a pathway to relinquishing our freedom.”

    Rex, where was your voice when you were in a position where you could have stood up and be counted, and it would have meant something?

  17. Elizabeth Burton

    Would it have killed PA Politics to add that potentially salient fact?

    Short answer: yes.

    The ongoing effort to conflate DSA-supported candidates’ successes with the #Resistance is one of the ways the DNC/DCCC are trying to ensure they control the narrative. Because these candidates run as Democrats, the party that is actively trying to keep them out of primaries and undermining them as if they were Republicans if they refuse to cooperate, any mention of progressive platform or non-establishment support is carefully omitted when celebrating their successes. Thus, the ill-informed public will continue to be unable to distinguish between them and the Republican-Lite types the party runs.

    Yes, I know—we need a third party. Frankly, I think DSA is in the process of building one. However, we can’t wait another ten years while that happens, so for now it’s going to be the Democrats with a few outliers like Tim Canova and Bernie Sanders who can buck the system and run Independent. And let us not forget the party stalwarts who still roundly condemn Sanders for daring to run as a Democrat and expecting party support.

  18. VietnamVet

    Humans are self-aware – conscious. This is a quite a recent development. The earliest undisputed evidence of an international burial is 130,000 years ago. Our brains do not like physical or psychic pain. One can acknowledge that they may have no charisma but ‘repulsive” is a step too far. I am way too old for social media but a small screen displaying all your faults 24/7 is too much at any age. It will affect you adversely.

    As a member of the lowest rung of the Credentialed Class; I am willing to agree that we are quite similar and think alike. Yes, we are only 9.9% of the population but we think ourselves as the best of a middle class America. The striking success of the neo-liberal counter revolt that commenced in 1980 is that the credentialed class (the haute bourgeoisie) are unaware of themselves and could care less that 80% of Americans, the blue-collar middle class and the poor, were thrown under the bus.

    I think this is the basis of the Trump Derangement Syndrome. The know-nothings, the science deniers have seized power. Worse, they are running around DC flashing lights, sirens wailing, like they are the Elite.

  19. c_heale

    I don’t understand what, “Love is bought and sold all the time.” means. If love means a kind of affection and companionship without conditions, then it cannot by definition be bought and sold..

  20. The Rev Kev

    “I want my [family bloggins] MagSafe connector back. That’s not a service.”

    I wonder what would happen if Apple made the MagSafe connector a separate service that you had to pay for to get? [family blog] them is what I say.

  21. MayM

    Re: “Com’n Bernie. Get out front on this.”
    It would be hard for him to get out front on this when he supports the basing decision and has done for years as the article you linked to pointed out.

    200 homes in working-class and lower-middle class neighborhoods in South Burlington have already been demolished and another 1000 will be exposed to noise levels deemed unsuitable for residential health.

    The noise maps indicate that children in at least four schools and numerous child care centers will also be exposed to noise high enough to cause learning problems.

    This is a well-documented public health threat to thousands of his constituents and the fact that Bernie continues to support it is incredibly disappointing.

    However, I will point out that Bernie’s support appears to be more passive than Pat Leahy who actively pushed to base the F35s in Burlington despite promising not to influence the process and over the objections of the Airforce. If there was any justice, he would be drummed out of office over this.


  22. The Rev Kev

    I like to try to connect data points and here are two that just came together. Here are two sentences from different sites-

    “…until November 4, which is the date of reimposition of sanctions on Iran”

    “The 2018 United States elections will mostly be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018”

    I am not a believer in coincidences myself. Something for Trump and the GOP to boast of going into the polls?

  23. WheresOurTeddy

    “This willingness to pay more lack of choice due to cartelization has in turn made the United States an attractive market for innovation in health care the easiest populace to loot due to desperation.”

    Fixed it

  24. Bernard

    so far money has bought everyone who can stop the endless looting of our country. any lawmaker can be bought, or enough can, it appears. Lesser of Evils only, no Elliot Ness’s anywhere. the American Dream?. At least no one goes to jail ,that is, the group of thieves continue to steal via Congress, their “lobbying” doing its’ magic.

    the Empire in all its glory!

  25. sd

    Gavin Newsom is starting to look like the next Governor of California. No, that’s not a good thing…

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