2:00PM Water Cooler 5/18/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“US Dashes Hopes for Quick NAFTA Deal Amid ‘Gaping’ Differences” [Industry Week]. “President Donald Trump’s chief NAFTA negotiator said the U.S., Canada and Mexico are ‘nowhere near close to a deal’ to update the region’s 24-year-old free-trade pact as U.S. lawmakers warn that time is almost up to reach a agreement that can pass the current Congress. ‘There are gaping differences on intellectual property, agricultural market access, de minimis levels, energy, labor, rules of origin, geographical indications, and much more,’ U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Thursday in a statement e-mailed by his press office…. ‘We’re that close on autos,’ the [Canadian] ambassador said, showing a small gap between his index finger and thumb. Canada and Mexico expressed continued resistance Thursday to the U.S. proposal for a so-called sunset clause that would kill NAFTA after five years unless all parties agree to extend it. Trudeau said the idea is still a sticking point, while Guajardo said it was out of the question.”

“China Casts Doubt on Report of $200 Billion Trade Deficit Offer” [Bloomberg]. “The Chinese social media posts, made on accounts operated by the Xinhua News Agency and the People’s Daily, sought to reassure readers that no ‘unilateral concessions’ would be made, and that China will ‘never negotiate’ under conditions set by the U.S. In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang was pressed by reporters on the accuracy of the claim. ‘The question is about some US officials who said China will cut the deficit,’ Lu said. ‘This rumor is not true. This, I can confirm. I do not know about the offers made by either party. As we know the consultations are still underway. I am not getting ahead of that. The consultations themselves are constructive.'”



UPDATE “Could Bernie Sanders run against Elizabeth Warren in 2020 presidential race?” [ABC]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders is still considering a second run for president, according to his former campaign manager Jeff Weaver, and he may decide to enter the race even if it means running against another progressive powerhouse, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.”


“The Battle of Woodstock” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. This is an must-read article on the Democrats, focused on New York, but with national implications:

the Great Democratic Divide that opened last election and has been widening ever since, and which seems on the surface to be a clash of two strident and intractable cult-of-personality movements – Bernie Bros vs. Hillbots – has really very little to do with personality at all. It is, for sure, about ideology. But it is also a prosaic argument about money and tactics.

The core Sanders argument was always that Democrats could never effectively represent people against corporate power while continuing to be sponsored by it.

The counter to that has been that Democrats can get more done working with business than against it, and moreover, they can’t afford to cede the fundraising battle to Republicans (although the Democrats out-raised Trump nearly 2-to-1 in 2016, and still lost).

For example:

Woodstock high school history teacher Jeff Beals decided to run for Congress late last year. He set up a time to talk to national Democrats [i.e., the DCCC] about his run. The call was set for four in the afternoon, just after he finished classes.

Ten minutes before four, his cell rang. A local political operative with connections to the party was on the line.

“So,” the man said. “I hear you have a call at four. OK if I prep you?”

Beals, a bright-eyed, lean-framed ex-diplomat who’d been all over the world and seen some bizarre things in his relatively young life, was experiencing the first moments of a political career. Before anyone in politics even knew who he was, he was already being coached on what to say.

“OK,” he replied.

“They’re gonna ask you two questions,” the man said. “First, they’ll ask you how much you think you can raise in the first quarter. You want to know how to answer?”

A curious Beals answered in the affirmative.

“Tell them you can raise $300,000.”

“Three hundred thousand, OK.”

“Next,” the man said, “They’re gonna ask how much you think it will cost to win the whole race. You wanna know the answer to that also?”

A dizzy Beals again answered, “Yes.”

“Tell ’em it’ll cost between a million to $2 million to win. You got that?”

“I got it.”

The man hung up.

And then there’s the DCCC’s MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) which Taibbi also quotes. Allow me to hoist my own comment from the last worksheet:

I think the key passage, which I didn’t emphasize nearly enough — I seem to have suffered a sort of brainlock when I got close to the heart of the matter — is this:

In a 2013 PowerPoint slide, the DCCC famously told freshmen Democrats in Congress that they should plan on spending four hours a day raising money [my emphasis*] for their re-election campaigns.

This reminds me powerfully of the Hollywood casting couch. And although I deprecate comparisons of politics to prostitution (it’s insulting to prostitutes), I am reminded of the process whereby the pimp (the party) introduces a new member of his stable (the candidate) to clients (the donor class), after, naturally, first having tested the new member themselves personally (what they were willing to do in the primary).

* NOTE Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how to make BLINK work…

That is, I think that what for lack of a better word we’ll call the Sanders faction (I would say “the left”) need to do is characterize DCCC fundraising as not merely tactically incorrect, or ethically wrong, but taboo-violating, disgusting, like (say) eating scat. And the way to do it is to ask any DCCC-supported candidate whether they plan to comply with the DCCC MOU (“Do you really plan to spend four hours on the phone servicing donors?”).

Cuomo v. Nixon (1), the opportunity:

Cuomo v. Nixon (2), the opportunity seized:

Has it occured to anyone else that Cuomo gutting the New York Subway system and signing off on testing robot cars in Manhattan are connected?

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE “At DNC women’s forum, Hillary Clinton declares Democrats stand for truth, evidence and facts” [CBS]. “To the tunes of Tina Turner and Katy Perry, Democrats gathered four floors below ground, deep in the Washington D.C. Marriott Marquis to hear from a litany of Democrats and one ‘special guest’ whose name did not appear on any formal program [odd, that]. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took the stage to high octave cheers, addressing a female coalition at the DNC Women’s Leadership Forum she founded as First Lady alongside Tipper Gore, 25 years ago. ‘We stand for truth, for evidence and facts. What an incredible thing!’ Clinton exclaimed. ‘…We have kind of an affection for evidence. We think it should inform our policies [Clinton seems to have reverted to 2014 talking points; see NC here], because they’ll actually work better,’ she declared, prompting modest laughter from the female-dominated audience. With DNC Chair Tom Perez standing behind her and against a pink and blue backdrop emblazoned with a large ‘D,’ Clinton praised party leadership for running a staff whose leadership positions are filled by 44 percent people of color and 70 percent women. “And you know why that’s important? That is what America looks like.'” Clinton is right. In the same way that it’s a victory for all women when a woman torturer becomes head of the CIA, it’s a victory for all people of color and all women when the “coalition of the ascendant” can rig elections and service big donors.

UPDATE “How A Twitter Fight Over Bernie Sanders Revealed A Network Of Fake Accounts” [HuffPo]. Reposting from March, just to cast a little light on that truth and evidence thing.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A Wake-Up Call for Dems? 4 Women With Socialist Platforms Win PA Primary to Replace Male Incumbents” [Democracy Now]. “This is a huge wake-up call for the Democratic establishment. And one of the defeated Democrats even tried to hustle and run a write-in campaign to win the Republican nomination at the last minute, in southwestern Pennsylvania, because there were no Republicans running. It was an unopposed site. And so, he thought that, “Well, if I can get 10 votes or whatever, then I can get this nomination.” And that’s how desperate the establishment was here to cling to power, that they would do something so disgraceful to them, as these longtime Democratic partisans, as try to get the Republican ballot. That failed.”

“Is the United States Too Big to Govern?” [New York Times]. “There are clear economic and military advantages to being a large country. But when it comes to democracy, the benefits of largeness — defined by population or geographic area — are hard to find. Examining data on the world’s nations from the 19th century until today, the political scientists John Gerring and Wouter Veenendaal recently discovered that although size is correlated with electoral competition (in line with the Madisonian argument), there is no association between size and many other standard measures of democratic functioning, such as limits on executive power or the provision of human rights.” So who gets the nukes after the breakup?

“#MeToo Leader, Also a California Lawmaker, Disciplined for Sexual Harassment” [Governing]. “California Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia has been removed from all of her committee posts after facing accusations of sexual harassment, with the investigation into her conduct coming to a close Thursday…. The ex-staffer, Daniel Fierro, alleged that Garcia stroked his back and buttocks and reached for his groin at a charity softball game in 2014.” What if… power imbalace is gender fluid? And sexual harassment — as we are often told — is not about sex at all? But power?

“Democrats Have It Too Good to Shoot Themselves In the Foot” [Eugene Robinson, RealClearPolitics]. “The Democratic leadership is trying to squelch loose talk of impeachment, but Republicans are going to keep sounding the false alarm.” Liberal Democrats are trying to walk back what they’ve been yammering about for two years. If you work from their premises, Trump should be impeached; Clinton called Trump a “Russian puppet” in debate, and that’s treason; and if Clinton wasn’t lying, calling for Trump’s impeachment isn’t “loose talk” at all. Sadly, although impeaching Trump appeals to Clinton’s faction, it hasn’t resonated with the electorate as a whole. So now the Democrats are casting about for some other issue — income inequality, marijuana legalization, fake Medicare plans, even a Jobs Guarantee — all issues that they would have been hammering for the last two years if they really cared about them. It’s very difficult for a party with no core principles* to come up with them on the fly. Life can be unfair sometimes! NOTE * Except goodies for the 10%. To be fair.

Stats Watch

There are no official statistics of note today.

Debt: “Household Debt Continues Its Increase in the First Quarter of 2018” [Econintersect]. “The Center for Microeconomic Data’s latest Quarterly Report on Household Debt and Credit reveals that total household debt reached a new peak in the first quarter of 2018, rising $63 billion to reach $13.21 trillion. Balances climbed 0.6 percent on mortgages, 0.7 percent on auto loans, and 2.1 percent on student loans this past quarter, while they declined by 2.3 percent on credit cards.”

“Container Ponzi scheme becomes one of Germany’s largest investment scandals” [Splash 247]. “In Munich a fallen container leasing firm is unravelling to become one of Germany’s largest investment scandals in recent years. P&R Group, once one of the world’s largest container leasors, stands accused of operating a Ponzi scheme. Top management at the firm, which went bust in March, are now under investigation with prosecutors claiming P&R sold nearly one million more shipping containers than it owned. Based in Grünwald near Munich, P&R sold new and used containers to investors, rented them back and offered to repurchase them after five years for 65% of the original value. In total, P&R claimed it had sold some 1.6m containers to around 54,000 investors for a total EUR3.5bn euros ($4.12bn). But a tally made after its German units filed for insolvency earlier this year has shown that P&R only has a fleet of around 600,000 containers, administrator Michael Jaffe said in a statement.” $4 billion is real money, even today, but wake me when the credit markets get twitchy…

Shipping: “Workhorse now making residential deliveries with HorseFly drone” [Freight Waves]. “For some customers in the Cincinnati area, their packages are now being dropped on their doorsteps – literally. Workhorse, the FAA and city of Loveland, OH, are testing a pilot drone package delivery program. Workhorse Group’s HorseFly autonomous drone package delivery system is making deliveries to customers who have opted-in to a test program that utilizes the Workhorse Ares Drone Package Delivery App, which is integrated with existing online e-commerce platforms. ‘We feel this is a game-changing moment to innovate the way packages are delivered for many years to come,’ said Steve Burns, Workhorse CEO. ‘By not only reducing the expense of last mile delivery, but also providing the consumer with the ability to opt-in, visualize, and confirm their package delivery on their property, we have re-imagined home delivery.’ The HorseFly is an unmanned drone capable of delivering a 10-pound package and uses just 3 cents per mile to operate. Built with carbon fiber construction, the HorseFly is capable of flying at a max speed of 50 mph with a 30-minute flight time.” I’ve helpfully underlined the corporate bafflegab, but for all I know it works. Interestingly, the drones lift off from, and recharge at, a delivery truck, not the warehouse.

Shipping: “Don’t sleep on the inventory-to-sales ratio” [Logistics Management]. “But now the inventory outlook has improved significantly. Perhaps the best, and first, place to confirm this is by taking a look at the inventory-to-sales ratio data from the United States. The inventory-to-sales ratio is derived from dividing the number of sales compared to available inventory, with the higher the ratio meaning inventory levels are running too high…. Based on data issued today by the United States Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau, the total business inventories/sales ratio based on seasonally adjusted data at the end of March (the most recent month for which data was available) was 1.34, which marks a 0.04% annual gain. That is a pretty good number, especially when considering back in January 2016, which is really not all that long ago, the ratio was checking in a 1.41…. [ American Trucking Associations (ATA) Chief Economist Bob Costello] took the online sales impact a step further, noting that current inventory levels appear to be in the “zone” they will remain in for a while, with the rapid pace of online sales preventing inventory levels From getting down to all-time lows for some time. This is something he tells motor carrier fleets to keep an eye on, because is the ratio starts to head up, it could translate into a freight slowdown.”

Shipping: “ELDs hurting flatbed carriers more than other modes” [Freight Waves]. As the trucking industry continues to broadly install and learn to use the ELDs (electronic logging devices) required by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), there are beginning to be large disparities in the way the devices are impacting capacity via mode. Carrier size is a challenge to ELD adoption, with smaller carriers struggling more than larger carriers, but equipment type is proving to be a larger challenge than carrier size. Truckers that are pulling dry van trailers still face challenges as they learn to re-optimize asset utilization but they are proving to be the most successful of all the truckload modes. Reefers face larger challenges and are still struggling to adapt. Flatbed carriers are struggling and failing to adapt as solutions such as ‘drop and hook’ that are relatively easy for dry van and possible for reefer are difficult, if not impossible, for flatbed truckers.”

The Bezzle: “Uber chief product officer to leave in latest executive departure” [Reuters]. “Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] Chief Product Officer Jeff Holden is leaving the ride-hailing company, an Uber spokesman told Reuters on Thursday, the latest of more than a dozen senior executives to depart since last year. Holden oversaw Uber Elevate, the company’s flying car operation, which is now headed by Eric Allison, the spokesman said, but declined to elaborate on the reason for his departure.” How is it that the business press able to type phrases like “the company’s flying car operation” without breaking into hysterical laughter and being unable to continue?

The Bezzle: “Tesla Strikes Lithium Deal From Plant That’s Not Yet Built” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla Inc. struck a lithium hydroxide supply deal with a junior Australian miner that won’t start production until next decade, underlining the scramble for the raw materials needed to meet forecast demand for electric vehicles…. Car and battery manufacturers, including Elon Musk’s Tesla, are on a global hunt for sources of lithium, cobalt and other raw materials, with BMW AG forecasting in December that its requirement for the key metals will surge 10-fold by the middle of the next decade. Production of lithium alone probably needs to quadruple within a decade to meet demand for EVs, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. said last year. Tesla plans to announce the location of a new gigafactory in China as early as in the third quarter as it seeks to produce batteries and cars in the world’s biggest electric vehicle market.”

Tech: “The Big Disconnect: What happened to Google Fiber in Atlanta?” [Atlanta]. “From Alpharetta to Avondale Estates, College Park to Decatur, folks fed up with chronically unreliable internet connections, abysmal customer service, and expensive monthly bills lapped up Google Fiber’s promise to change all that. And there was an altruistic component, too: Google Fiber would help close the digital divide in part by extending discounted or free high-speed internet to low-income residents…. Atlanta isn’t the only city to see Google Fiber falter. In Nashville, big telecom operators sued and all but blocked Google Fiber from tapping half of the city’s 88,000 utility poles, which it needed to build out its fiber system. Nearly four years after the company announced it was coming to Nashville, Google Fiber finally reached 10 Nashville neighborhoods late last year…. Google Fiber has never given a definitive answer as to when it will complete its Atlanta rollout. A review of hundreds of emails, internal memos, and other correspondence shows Google Fiber was careful not to make such promises—even to top officials, and even as it expanded to new cities across the nation.” This is just a mess. There’s no smoking gun here, but the details add up to an opaque corporate behemoth signing non-disclosure agreements right and left, and then not living up to its public commitments, or respecting the regulatory process. In other words, Silicon Valley.

Fodder for the Bulls: “ECRI’s WLI Growth Index Rate Marginally Slips” [Econintersect]. “Even with the general downward trend in this index over the last 6 months, the forecast is for modest growth six months from today.”

Five Horsemen: “The Fab Five are mixed today, with Apple and Microsoft the only gainers in late morning trade” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 18 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index ticked up to 64 (complacency) as the put-call ratio dropped to 0.83 yesterday” [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 17 2018

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

This is Reddit Hacker News. Nevertheless:

“The LAPD Has a New Surveillance Formula, Powered by Palantir” [Medium]. “These surveillance reports identify “probable offenders” in select neighborhoods, based on an LAPD point-based predictive policing formula….. Los Angeles police argue that targeting “chronic offenders” in this manner helps lower crime rates while being minimally invasive. But the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition, a community-based alliance that has advocated against increased LAPD surveillance efforts since 2012, paints a different picture of the Chronic Offender Bulletin program. The group calls it a “racist feedback loop” in which police surveil a set number of people based on data that’s generated by their own racially biased policing, creating more monitoring and thereby more arrests.” It’s a self-licking ice cream cone….

Class Warfare

Helpful advice:

News of The Wired

“Steve Wozniak Talks Disk ][” [Paleotronic]. This is really fun. Engineering!

“Securing DNS across all of my devices with Pi-Hole + DNS-over-HTTPS +” [Scott Helme]. “DNS queries are not secure, they’re sent in the clear, which means that others can see and manipulate the queries and responses. An attacker may change the IP address in a response to send you to a different server, ISPs can censor the web by blocking resolution of certain domains and they can even build a profile of the sites you visit by storing your DNS queries.”

“Banksy hoax caveman art to go back on display at British Museum” [BBC]. “A fake cave painting by Banksy is going back on display in the British Museum, 13 years after it was first placed there as a hoax. Peckham Rock, essentially a lump of concrete showing a supposed prehistoric figure pushing a shopping trolley, was smuggled into the venue in 2005. It stayed for three days before staff realised it didn’t belong there.”

“People crave silence, yet are unnerved by it” [The Economist].

“Have You Had a Psychedelic Trip Worth Telling?” [Michael Pollan, Medium (GF)]. “These aren’t just ‘weird drug experiences.’ Rather, they’re powerful stories about how a psychedelic trip changed someone’s life in a lasting way. There have been times when I felt like I was taking confession! People told me about trips that led to scientific insight, or recovery from psychological trauma, or freedom from addiction, or a vocation change. Many of these trips took place decades ago, but their ripples and implications are still being felt today. The culture has not offered much space or opportunity for sharing this kind of story.” Now Pollan does. There are submission guidelines and a form at the end of the story. Eat blotter, lots, never plants?

* * *

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

TH: “Aloe Vera flowers. (Rancho Palos Verdes, California).”

* * *

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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. Pat Morrison

    On the phone location data quote, the pedant in me has to say that’s not Reddit, that’s Hacker News. HN’s online comment section is an online comment section, but there are some experienced and knowledgable commenters.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Aw, darn. Lambert fixed the bold. What can we snark about now?

      Feeling deprived in Tucson …

      1. ambrit

        You feel deprived in Tuscon??? Try hanging out in the American Deep South for a while.
        Also, I’m sort of worried about this antipathy of Lamberts’.

  2. Wukchumni

    Any word on the Banksy caveman, as to when he became homeless?

    The absolute best shopping cart artiste was a nutter of a lady in Santa Monica, back when being without a domicile was considered somewhat novel, and not real life.

    Lipstick Mary applied said cosmetic to a broad spectrum of her face-earning her the moniker, and she ran herd on a dozen or more shopping carts-all full of nothing, which she dutifully pushed one at a time down Wilshire Blvd, going nowhere fast. It might’ve taken her an hour to go a block.

  3. Wukchumni

    Damn near every other country gets a salad dressing, but somehow American dressing never happened, but then there’s Catalina, and I don’t know about the rest of you, but when the whole shebang goes out without a whimper and it’s every county for themselves, i’m staking out the dressing’s namesake, with it’s tangy overtones of high fructose, and color that’s never been replicated in an actual nature setting.

    And i’ll have the Pacific as my bulwark/moat…


      1. Wukchumni

        It figures the Gulag Hockeypelagoans came up with it, and I heard until fairly recently that eating iceberg salad there meant that you had to go chip off some on a passing floe.

    1. Lee

      Italian dressing was invented in the U.S. according to Wikipedia, which also credits Ranch dressing as being developed by a plumber in Alaska.

        1. Sid Finster

          Caesar dressing was invented by a Mexican restauranteur in Tijuana, whose restaurant catered to prohibition-era San Diegoans.

          IIRC, some holiday was coming up and was forced to improvise when he ran out of fixins.

  4. hemeantwell

    What if… power imbalace is gender fluid? And sexual harassment — as we are often told — is not about sex at all? But power?

    Dichotomies delenda est. It would be more on the mark to say that sexual harassment of the type the dichotomizers are referring to is in fact largely driven by a power motive that is sexualized. Even if it made sense to think of a case of harassment as driven by a wish to dominate what one cannot have, the element of “having” will have an erotic aspect. It would only be at the extreme, in a case of a malignant sadist who carries out attacks against both the object and their own need for the object, that you can start thinking in strictly power terms. At that point you’ve entered into the hell of absolute counterdependency.

    Why the fretting? I think the dichotomizers are driven by a related worry, that a domineering jerk can claim he/she is acting out of love. They feel if they acknowledge that love in some form exists, the jerk can get a pass. A judicial attitude really gets in the way making sense of this.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Rape, and its sibling sexual harassment, have always been about the imposition of power over the subjugated. It was and remains a weapon of war. There is no “dichotomy”: that’s precisely the kind of deflection the media and those in power inevitably twist the narrative to make sure the real cause is never discussed.

      All one needs do is watch what happens every time the subject emerges in some new manner. Within no more than 24 hours, any effort to keep the attention on the expression of power is twisted so everything is about sex. That includes shooting down fast anyone who dares equate the rape and sexual harassment of men by powerful women with its opposite expression.

      Every incident I have ever read or experienced has not been remotely about sex. It was about ensuring I understood my role in the “relationship,” which was as a subordinate required to acquiesce to the demands of the one in power.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’m too lazy to find the link, but during the Harvey Weinstein episode, I remember a French commentator (I think it was) I linked to who pointed out how robotic his behavior was; it was joyless, repetitious, indeed one might say algorithmic (besides being horrible and degrading for everyone involved). “Who wants to be a robot?” she (I think) asked, and I think it’s a very good question. I’m reminded here also of the sort of chauvinist who has a method, and if it fails, “plenty of fish in the sea,” and on to the next. Repeat, repeat, repeat…

        1. hemeantwell

          Sure. But that sex for him has turned into something that’s repetition-dominated doesn’t mean that there are no erotic elements involved. That the media sets up kind of purist way of thinking about harassment and rape doesn’t mean we have to buy it. It’s really not that different from turning “evil” into a explanation for the behavior of whatever group or country you’re trying to understand.

          To keep this from getting scholastic: What’s at stake is seeing that an erotic dimension that that could optimally lead to an intense reciprocity with his partner, one that telescopes infantile and adult ways of relating to the lover, is instead turned into something that likely is linked to a narcissistic payoff, having sex with yet another beautiful woman. The counterdependent aspect to this that I referred to above in the case of a malignant sadist is present but not as destructively. Memories of infantile dependent states and their current expression are warded off like the plague. There’s not much cuddling going on during these crimes.

          Nancy Chodorow’s work — particularly The Reproduction of Mothering — on the role of counterdependent strivings in the constitution of screwed up forms of masculinity is really helpful for making sense of the Harveys of the world.

    2. ambrit

      Wait a minute pardner. The complaint said that she was working down to his genitalia. I seem to remember that “having him by the b—s” was code for dominance. Johnson had a famous quip along this line attributed to him. “F— all this talk about Hearts and Minds. When you’ve got them by the b—s, their hearts and minds will come along.”
      Since this was a political ‘relationship,’ it would be appropriate to characterize the behaviour as a “Demarche of the Danglies.”
      I’ve ‘hung around’ this subject long enough.

  5. DonCoyote

    Thanks for the link to 2014 Evidence-based Clinton. I especially liked the 3rd footnote:

    NOTE *** To be fair, Clinton’s failing here could also be the result of the catastrophic lack of imagination and/or empathy common to our political class.

    So perhaps Fitzgerald should have written “Let me tell you about the political class. They are different from you and me.”

    Two more things that footnote jogged loose:

    I think you’re really going to like the Hillary Clinton my team and I have created for this debate. She warm, but strong; flawed, but perfect; relaxed, but racing full speed for the White House like the T-1000 from Terminator.

    And then there is the late, great Douglas Adams:

    “On its world, the people are people. The leaders are lizards. The people hate the lizards and the lizards rule the people.”
    “Odd,” said Arthur, “I thought you said it was a democracy.”
    “I did,” said Ford. “It is.”
    “So,” said Arthur, hoping he wasn’t sounding ridiculously obtuse, “why don’t people get rid of the lizards?”
    “It honestly doesn’t occur to them,” said Ford. “They’ve all got the vote, so they all pretty much assume that the government they’ve voted in more or less approximates to the government they want.”
    “You mean they actually vote for the lizards?”
    “Oh yes,” said Ford with a shrug, “of course.”
    “But,” said Arthur, going for the big one again, “why?”
    “Because if they didn’t vote for a lizard,” said Ford, “the wrong lizard might get in.”

    So,,,”catastrophic lack of imagination and/or empathy” = lizard?? Maybe.

      1. Jim Haygood

        ‘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.’

        Ha ha ha … gotcha. It’s the old shell game — more proof that the intended effect of every law is the exact opposite of its title.

        A similar approach applies to the Federal Reserve. It is prohibited from purchasing debt directly from the Treasury, because that’s the sort of open monetization of deficits that happens in banana republics.

        Instead, the Federal Reserve buys Treasuries from an exclusive club of 23 primary dealers, who in turn buy them from the Treasury. The net result is that the Federal Reserve still buys debt from the Treasury, but pays a handsome commission to an unnecessary middleman. Sweet!

  6. Wukchumni

    “Have You Had a Psychedelic Trip Worth Telling?” [Michael Pollan, Medium (GF)]. “These aren’t just ‘weird drug experiences.’ Rather, they’re powerful stories about how a psychedelic trip changed someone’s life in a lasting way.
    I profoundly remember my first course con funghi decades ago, and the door it opened to the world that was always there, but I just hadn’t noticed it heretofore. The implications of which i’m still happily dealing with.

    1. ambrit

      As an also acidified adult, I always caution young acolytes of ‘altered states’ to make sure that they have appropriate circumstances in which to make such psychic voyages and, if at all possible, to have a, or some, trusted shamanic figures available for guidance along The Way.
      There is nothing worse than a ‘bad trip.’
      Huxleys’ “The Doors of Perception” started the ball rolling for me. The integration of psychic and physical perceptions was always the neglected aspect of the phenomenon. Jung is also a good source for psychic orientation.
      I will let the adepts move on from there to such figures a Gurdjieff, Lang, etc.

    2. clarky90

      The Lucid Dreaming Experience Online Magazine (it’s free)


      “Did you have immediate success with lucid dreaming, or did it take
      a while? What happened in your first lucid dream?”

      “I suppose the fact that I had already had several lucid dreams as a child
      felt surprisingly natural to me when I turned lucid approximately a
      decade later. In that teenage dream of mine, I suddenly became lucid in
      a seemingly endless corridor of a hospital—“That’s a dream!” I
      exclaimed with 100 percent conviction. At that point, I did not know
      anything about reality tests, but deduced a suitable alternative from my
      thought: ‘Well, if this is a dream, then I can fly now.’
      Consequently, I rose into the air and floated in this sterile-white corridor
      with countless doors and opaque windows until I finally woke up….”


    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I passed through that door a couple of times. I spent my first experience in the dreary confines of my apartment yielding little of lasting insight. But the second experience changed my life. I had moved in with a girl friend for the first time. I was inexperienced with such emotions as wracked me at that time, and — it may be an unfortunate consequence of that first experience, perhaps combined with earlier experiences with womankind — I felt emotions, I never so strongly experienced again. Love loves not and never again as as with first love.

      For my second inner journey I enjoyed the company of the girl I lived with and deeply loved. We spent the weekend in a particularly beautiful little tourist town near the beautiful city we lived in. Before the trip I felt a strange and growing unquiet within and had for some time. At a conscious level I felt trapped in my job and much as I loved where I lived I felt I would never be able to move past where I was. I loved my girl very much but I was growing less and less tolerant of many small ways she disappointed me and seemed less and less a pleasant fit. I couldn’t identify any particular thing with which to fault her but more and more I felt she wasn’t the right one. At the same time I could not directly face these feelings and their implications. I am not a person who easily finds warm company with others and so I treasure any such company far beyond its true worth. I am not a brave person who could boldly sever so strong a tie as held me to this girl.

      The fungi I had was fresh, strong, and quite sufficient. My first impressions as its wonders waxed — I gradually noticed how very very green and brilliant the mountains were. I was fully aware that they looked exactly as they had the day before except now I saw their true colors and it wasn’t as though their colors were new — I was aware that they were always so bright and brilliant — but without help, I just ignored the beauty around me and pretended it wasn’t there while in truth I knew it was there all along. I looked around me and saw things I had seen a thousand times before but never looked at, never noticed thei wild and brilliant flux of beauty in their forms and colors around me. My girl and I went to a bakery I knew. but was new to my girl, and I bought my favorite pastry — one each for both of us. The touch, taste, and my enjoyment of that pastry multiplied many times in my mouth.

      Belatedly, I noticed my girl and read her face. She did not share the same wonders I did. We were walking along a crowded sidewalk to nowhere in particular. I began to notice and look into the faces and hearts of the people I passed by as we walked along and I nibbled on the marvelous pastry I so enjoyed. I looked into the faces of older people who long ago lost their love for life and for the person they walked with. They weren’t unhappy … but their souls were as dead as their eyes. I looked into the faces of people young and old that still held love. This heartened me. And then I looked to the face above the hand I held. I saw the horror in her greatly amplified perception of my ambivalence toward her and my growing unrest. I couldn’t see what she felt beyond her reflection of what she saw in me. But at that moment I saw she also knew we were not a good match. That greatly frightened her. The next moment I knew with certainty I must break off my relationship with her and move away, far away. I also knew I had to quit my job and move somewhere, almost anywhere else, to avoid becoming forever transfixed by the beauty and quiet predictability of my present job and locale. I hearkened to a memory of Odysseus in the land of the Lotas Eaters, an image and reference I received from a past friend now lost to my travels and the perfidy of my nature. I have left behind so many friends I miss terribly, friends forever lost in the randomly driven and chosen changes of my life. I had to leave my girl and did. [Actually she left me first, but I did not pursue her as she half hoped I might.]

      With few exceptions I have never experienced such wonder and transcendence … with the sole exception of the moment I watched the birth of my first child, my daughter, and heard the magical beauty of her first cry.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        As I grow toward an end I feel strongly the need for a resurgence of my perception and appreciation for the numinous and magical in life. I want to freely see the glowing brilliance around the edges of a leaf or a beetle in my hand, or person I’m with … especially a female person.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Hrmm. I prefer the Psychedelic Experiences that tell me that I am right here, right now.

      It can’t be a competition.

  7. Lee

    The Bezzle

    When it comes to tax-deductible charitable giving, donating to a so-called donor advised fund garners a higher tax write off than other types of funds. But when a foundation receives a gift via a donor advised fund it is under no legal obligation to spend the money on charitable projects – ever. These funds are gaining in popularity, especially in Silicon Valley where they can help offset capital gains taxes and stock appreciation. For example, over the past 10 years the Silicon Valley Community Foundation has grown by 800 percent, attaining assets of $13.5 billion. Yet the money the foundation actually passed on to local projects and organizations went down by 46 percent in 2017. We’ll hear about the growth of donor advised funds and why some critics are calling for their regulation. https://www.kqed.org/forum/2010101865306/critics-call-for-regulation-of-no-strings-attached-donations-as-foundations-nest-eggs-grow

    Indeed, the perverse incentive for the fund managers to not disburse funds as their compensation is based on a percentage of the total fund balance. Robert Reich conducted a little experiment. He donated $5,000 and checked on his balance a year later to find that although none of it was disbursed to a charity, the balance had gone down.

    This is an interview with Alana Semuels, staff writer at The Atlantic; author, “The ‘Black Hole’ That Sucks Up Silicon Valley’s Money”.

  8. Wukchumni

    “People crave silence, yet are unnerved by it” [The Economist].

    When i’m working in the yard on the many splendored acres here, it’s quiet as a woodpecker, or perhaps a few of the resident deer will give away their position by rushing through tall weeds, or an unmistakable rattle emanating from the end of a snake.


    1. Edward E

      We now have ‘homing peckers’ a cross between homing pigeons and woodpeckers. They’re awesome, when they arrive home they be knocking on the door. Marty Robbins came over here racing a stock car a few times.

      1. Wukchumni

        Saw an unusual salamander today, an Ensatina

        A visual:


        When I was a kid we went to Knott’s Berry Farm about every other weekend for chicken lunch and they had a theater there called the “Round Up” and it had a circle of covered wagons around the upper periphery with bench seating down towards the stage, and I saw Marty Robbins many times when I was a kid. He seemed to be a fixture there, once upon a time.


        1. Edward E

          That looks like a rubber fishing lure in my tackle box, honestly. Marty came to Poteau/Ft Smith Tri-State Speedway for an ASA race if I’m not mistaken. Might be mistaken, I’ll have to ask my brother since my high school girlfriend always had me distracted. Elvis actually sang to a church down the road.

          I’ve got to deal with this hawgzilla tonight or sometime this weekend, dreading this man I mean to tell ya.

        1. Edward E

          I remember when he had a Dick Trickle in tow at Nashville. He was driving the pace car and Dick Trickle rolled from the front row, went up and bumped Marty. They hooked bumpers or something and had a tug of war for a little bit… I’m not making this up!

          Those sure were the good ol’ days, when folks could afford to travel and follow their favorite stock car drivers. The dollar went a lot farther.

    2. Amfortas the Hippie

      when you can hear a beetle of some description wallowing in the leaves at 15 feet, it’s quiet.
      But it’s hardly ever silent.
      HS buddy (city boy) came up a few years ago during february, when we were still in town, and I brought him out here at night.
      not even wind.
      he was visibly shaken.
      …and he’d never seen the stars that way.
      You forget sometimes how rare an experience living way out there is, today.

      1. tegnost

        same here in the san juan islands, quiet means quiet, like the ringing in your ears is all you hear punctuated by bird society.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      You seem to have provided yourself with a most beautiful situation — I truly hope that is so. It makes it easier to hope I too might find the same for myself. The quiet might unnerve readers of the Economist but I find warm solace in quiet. If need be I can easily fill the quiet with my manifold thoughts and dreams.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      I have experienced what I would call silence only twice, in Boston, once in Cambridge 02138, and once in the suburbs of Wellesley, both bedroom communities, during the afternoon. Big homes, quiet homes. It was eerie. You can see why the cops would arrest or at least question pedestrians; they would be totally out of place, and there would be no good reason for them to be there.

  9. Geof

    The reason you couldn’t get blink to work is that the tag was phased out a few years ago.

    A shame, in my opinion: I certainly never liked it, but I’m not sure standards committees should be so concerned about dictating taste, and in its use on old sites it was a piece of living Internet history.

  10. Wukchumni

    How much would getting plonked on the noggin with a 10 pound package from an errant drone, be worth to the recipient?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Not to mention that, unless one is home or has made arrangements with an at-home neighbor, one’s drone-dropped package is likely to have vanished before one gets to take it inside.

    2. ambrit

      Depending on ones physical well being, it could be worth your life. Someone hasn’t thought this idea all the way through yet. When human lives are an acceptable price to pay for the beta testing of anything, one has to assume that the rest of the project is similarly slipshod in nature.

      1. Lee

        Someone hasn’t thought this idea all the way through yet

        Lot of that going around these days among the “best and brightest.”

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Ready, Fire. Aim is really the operative idea. See bike rentals, scooter rentals, or any other regulatory arbitrage.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What if you have a human-friendly dog loose in the yard at home?

      Or will your cat think it’s a bird, a deliciously fat bird?

      1. Sid Finster

        My cats have learned that it’s not much fun hunting my helicopters and drones. They won’t bother cats, but you don’t necessarily want to catch one, as it may smart.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      What happens when people game the drones? Or shoot them down and take the packages? Risky, I suppose… Unless you’ve hacked the packing list of the UPS van….

  11. Jim Haygood

    We’ve talked about how social mood darkens as a bubble collapses, often well before the onset of recession and financial crisis. More realistic, terrifying horror films are one obvious tell, as we approach four months since Bubble III (apparently) ended on Jan 26th. But what about the special case of dark comedy?

    Brian Henson — son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson — is back behind the camera in a new puppet-centric film, The Happytime Murders.

    Unlike Henson’s previous endeavors, Happytime Murders certainly isn’t kid-friendly — and the NSFW debut trailer proves that.

    Melissa McCarthy plays the lead detective in a world where humans and puppets coexist. When the puppet castmembers of a beloved puppet TV show, The Happytime Gang, begin turning up dead, she’s forced to team up with a sex-crazed, alcoholic puppet.

    Throughout the red-band trailer, McCarthy’s character encounters puppets doing everything from propositioning sex to forcing her to snort ecstasy. “That is good shit!” she yells after seemingly coming back from the dead.


    We’ve stepped through the looking glass, as Jim Henson’s son films depraved puppets mouthing snarky obscenities as scenes of sex, drugs and violence unfold.

    It’s probably not bullish …

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Henson started out doing adult oriented puppetry. Kudos to his progeny for grabbing that torch from long ago.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Cool; didn’t know that. Evidently, something about today’s zeitgeist makes the release of Happytime Murders propitious now, when it wasn’t for all these years.

        1. ambrit

          Yeah. The original seasons of “Sesame Street” were full of very subtle ‘adult’ humour. Henson Pere had a big hand, no pun intended, of course, in the production of the early “Sesame Street.” Cookie Monster was genuinely scary at the beginning.
          Also, though I’m not certain how much of it was ‘purged’ by Lorne Michaels, Hensons’ Muppets were a part of the scene in the first season of “Saturday Night Live.” I remember the banter between the Muppet Wall and a hesitant Jill St. John one episode. It did Henson no good to mess with the guest star, in ‘public’ no less.

      2. ewmayer

        [Brian] Henson & Co. were behind the animatronic puppets in the great 2000-ish Oz-filmed SciFi series Farscape.

    2. Biph

      I’m more surprised he didn’t do this before, as the “adult” puppet thing was done by Peter Jackson of LOTR fame and The Hobbit infamy in one of his early films Meet the Feebles and later on the short lived Fox TV show Greg the Bunny. The latter was limited by what they could get away with on network TV, but still very adult.

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t do horror films and vampire flicks, er no.

        That said, I couldn’t get enough of What We Do In The Shadows, by Jermaine Clement, of Flight Of The Concords. He’s a very talented Kiwi~

        Oh so funny…

  12. Jim Haygood

    We stand for truth, for evidence and facts. What an incredible thing!’ Clinton exclaimed.

    The curmudgeonly James Howard Kunstler modestly suggests that the next big dose of truth, evidence and facts is not going to be much to HRC’s liking:

    When historians of the future finish their meal of rat à la moutarde at the campfire and pass around the battered plastic jug of wild raisin wine, they will kick back and hear the griot sing of John Brennan, the fabled chief of an ancient order called the CIA, and how he started the monkey business aimed at bringing down the wicked Golden Golem of Greatness, chief of chiefs in the land once known as America.

    Alas, the hero’s journey of Brennan ends in a jail cell at the storied Allenwood Federal Penitentiary, where he slowly pined away between games of ping-pong and knock-hockey, dreaming of a cable network retirement package that never was …

    Those not driven insane by Trumpophobia are probably unsatisfied with the story of what Attorney General Loretta Lynch was doing, exactly, with former President Bill Clinton during that Phoenix airport tête-à-tête a few days before FBI Director Jim Comey exonerated Mr. Clinton’s wife in the email server “matter.”

    One can see where this tangled tale is tending: to the sacred chamber known as the grand jury. Probably several grand juries. That will lead to years of entertaining courtroom antics at the same time that the USA’s financial condition fatefully unravels.

    That event might finally produce the effect that all the exertions of the so-called Deep State have failed to achieve so far: the discrediting of Donald Trump. Alas, the literal discrediting of the USA and its hallowed institutions — including the US dollar — may be a much more momentous thing than the Fall of Trump.


    Arguably Jimmy Carter (1980) and George H W Bush (1992) were the sole post-WW II elected one-termers owing to recessions which occurred during their incumbency. Even more dramatically, Nixon was obliged to resign during his second term, as political scandal coincided with the gut punch of oil crisis and economic meltdown.

    One-term Trump has enjoyed clear sailing on the economic front till now. Accumulated momentum may yet enable the economy to coast through 2018 and into 2019 without an overt breakdown. But making it unscathed into Nov 2020 is far less likely. By then, the blowback from flake-o-nomics will have become impossible to ignore.

    1. Plenue

      “Alas, the literal discrediting of the USA and its hallowed institutions — including the US dollar”

      Any day now, I’m sure. /sarcasm.

        1. John k

          Something that costs nothing to produce and which many find useful lasts at least until something better comes along.
          Nobody credible, certainly neither exporters chins or Germany, want to print and export reserves.

  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “China Casts Doubt on Report of $200 Billion Trade Deficit Offer” [Bloomberg].

    It’s going to be tricky, as any outcome will be judged, in China, against the Twenty One Demands and Unequal Treaties from recent Chinese history.

    From Wikipedia:

    Unequal treaty is the name given by the Chinese to a series of treaties signed with Western powers during the 19th and early 20th centuries by Qing dynasty China after suffering military defeat by the West or when there was a threat of military action by those powers. The term was later applied to treaties signed with Tokugawa Japan and to treaties imposed on Joseon Korea by the post-Meiji Restoration Empire of Japan.

    Also Wikipedia:

    The Twenty-One Demands (Japanese: 対華21ヶ条要求, Taika Nijūikkajō Yōkyū, simplified Chinese: 二十一条; traditional Chinese: 二十一條; pinyin: Èrshíyī tiáo) were a set of demands made during the First World War by the Empire of Japan under Prime Minister Ōkuma Shigenobu sent to the government of the Republic of China on January 8, 1915.[1] The demands would greatly extend Japanese control of Manchuria and of the Chinese economy, and were opposed by Britain and the United States. In the final settlement Japan gained a little but lost a great deal of prestige and trust in Britain and the US.

    1. Lee

      The tiger is woke.

      A nation of 1.4 billion, ethnically nearly homogeneous, no destabilizing internal political divisions or dissident mass movements, militarily and economically strong, with a long history both as hegemon and humiliated victim of other powers. I recall reading somewhere, sometime that the entirety of U.S. history will end up as a footnote in a Chinese history book.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Chinese histories, not just one history book.

        From Wikipedia, Twenty Four Histories:

        he Twenty-Four Histories (Chinese: 二十四史; pinyin: Èrshísì Shǐ; Wade–Giles: Erh-shih-szu shih), also known as the Orthodox Histories (Chinese: 正史; pinyin: Zhèngshǐ) are the Chinese official historical books covering a period from 3000 BC to the Ming dynasty in the 17th century. The Han dynasty official Sima Qian established many of the conventions of the genre, but the form was not fixed until much later. Starting with the Tang dynasty, each dynasty established an official office to write the history of its predecessor using official court records. As fixed and edited in the Qing dynasty, the whole set contains 3213 volumes and about 40 million words. It is considered one of the most important sources on Chinese history and culture.[1]

        The title “Twenty-Four Histories” dates from 1775 which was the 40th year in the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. This was when the last volume, the History of Ming was reworked and a complete set of the histories produced.

        From 3,000 BC to at least the 17th century, versus from the 18th century to now, is like a footnote in a book, or maybe a chapter in a book.

        1. Plenue

          The 3,000 BC number is kind of BS. It’s arrived at by figuring the Three Sovereigns and Five Emperors were a. actually real, and b. can meaningfully be described as Chinese. It’s not even clear if the following Xia dynasty, which would push the number down to 2000 BC, actually existed. The Shang dynasty is the first one that we have any firm evidence for, which puts the number at 1700 BC.

          Chinese like to brag that they’re the oldest civilization on the planet, but it’s dubious to what extent any of these, or even the following, much better documented dynasties, can be said to have continuity with modern Han Chinese. The people living in China today are their descendents, but claiming these past civilizations were ‘Chinese’ is rather like saying modern Iraqis have meaningful continuity with Sumerians.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            That’s a good point about the debatable existence of the first dynasty, the Xia dynasty.

            From Wikipedia,

            Archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs that point to the possible existence of the Xia dynasty at locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts. There exists a debate as to whether or not the Erlitou culture was the site of the Xia dynasty. Radiocarbon dating places the site at c. 2100 to 1800 BC, providing physical evidence of the existence of a state contemporaneous with and possibly equivalent to the Xia dynasty as described in Chinese historical works.[17] In 1959, a site located in the city of Yanshi was excavated containing large palaces that some archaeologists have attributed to capital of the Xia dynasty. Through the 1960s and 1970s, archaeologists have uncovered urban sites, bronze implements, and tombs in the same locations cited in ancient Chinese historical texts regarding Xia;[18] at a minimum, the era traditionally denoted as the Xia dynasty marked an evolutionary stage between the late Neolithic cultures and the urban civilization of the Shang dynasty.[18]

            In 2011, Chinese archaeologists uncovered the remains of an imperial sized palace—dated to about 1700 BC—at Erlitou in Henan, further fueling the discussions about the existence of the dynasty.[19]

            Some evidence at Erlitou for Xia dynasty.

            The three sovereigns are likely mythical or from the Near East. Nuwa had been linked to Eve and personally, Yandi, the rival of Huangdi the Yellow Emperor, seems to me to be some Fire God from the Caucuses who worshipped a god of thunder or fire/volcano.

            This is not to say, as far as Chinese bragging goes, that the bronze technology, among others, did not come from Central Asia and beyond.

        2. Sid Finster

          One of the things that was expected of a Han Chinese dynasty was to write the official history of the previous dynasty, part of proving that the new dynasty had really made it.

      2. Ook

        I’ve been visiting China almost annually since 1988: reading the phrase “ethnically nearly homogeneous” made me spit out my morning coffee. Just look at the bank notes, which are written in Mandarin, Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur and Zhuang. With the possible exceptions of Mandarin and Tibetan, 99% of Americans wouldn’t even be able to recognize these scripts, let alone talk about why they’re important enough politically to be on the currency.
        Ethnically homogenous, perhaps only in the sense that Americans see a mass of vaguely brown-looking people and that’s where the curiosity ends.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Ethnically homogenous yes. The other ethnic groups you mention are mainly the native peoples of conquered areas . . . . something like Great Han China’s ” American Indians” and subject to China’s own ongoing “Indian Wars” complete with Lebensraumist settlement.

      3. ObjectiveFunction

        … So you, for one, welcome our new wise, all-seeing Middle Kingdom overlords?

        Clearly Lee, in spite of your handle, you haven’t spent much time in China, or done business with actual Chinese, or hung out with any Chinese conscript soldiers.

        Go stay around the edges of any random mainland city and you will see a society that has come a long way materially, but is now just as atomized, dog-eat-dog and unhappy as our own. (also, notice how your eyes sting and your nose is running?) Go visit the hinterland minority areas, or visit China’s immediate neighbors, and hear just how well loved those woke homogeneous Han are (jeez, just listen to yourself).

        You won’t find de Tocqueville stuff here, it’s passed directly to Upton Sinclair.

        China’s current stafe of development is best described as the “machine gunning herds of bison from trains” phase, in terms of fencing, deeding and devouring what’s left of the planetary commons. There is no subtle thousand year plan, at home or abroad. It’s full late Victorian steam era smash and grab.

        Don’t take my word for it, leave fortress USA, and go spend some time with our supposed new overlords. Especially if you are in a situation that involves them giving you money, not taking it from you.

        And I say all the above as a lifelong admirer of Chinese civilization. (However, it’s also clear to me that the true heirs to that civilization rule in Taipei and Singapore, not in Beijing). China is a full citizen now on our tipsy global liferaft, and welcome; but whether peak oil, ponzi or pandemic, they must either sink or swim with the rest of us. Our wise and inscrutable future rulers they are not.


        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I think “woke” in the comment up above was meant to mean “awakened” as from a deep sleep.

          Napoleon is said to have said . . . ” China is a sleeping giant. Let her sleep, for when she awakens, she will shake the world.”

  14. Carolinian

    Re Taibbi. While Taibbi pooh poohs the Counterpunch slam of his profile-ee he does provide a link which yields this tidbit

    However, conveniently missing from that response is the fact that Beals’ campaign has been, and continues to be, directly managed in nearly every respect by Bennett Ratcliff, a longtime friend and ally of Hillary Clinton. Ratcliff is not mentioned in any publicly available documents as a campaign manager, though the most recent FEC filings show that as of April 1, 2018, Ratcliff was still on the payroll of the Beals campaign. And in the video of Beals’ campaign kickoff rally, Ratcliff introduces Beals, while only being described as a member of the Onteora School Board in Ulster County. This is sort of like referring to Donald Trump as an avid golfer.[…]

    One of Ratcliff’s most infamous, and indefensible, acts of fealty to the Clinton machine came in 2009 when he and longtime Clinton attorney and lobbyist, Lanny Davis, stumped around Washington to garner support for the illegal right-wing coup in Honduras, which ousted the democratically elected President Manuel Zelaya in favor of the right-wing oligarchs who control the country today.


    Taibbi may say no biggie to this sort of background–after all Rolling Stone endorsed HRC–but it’s hardly clear that true lefties should be so indifferent. Perhaps the better path to reaching those red district “deplorables” would be to drop the ex CIA meritocrat altogether and go with that long time district resident Clegg, the one with the Capra-esque appeal. What the Dems really have is not a message problem or a money problem but an authenticity problem. In Mr. Smith Goes to Washington they would definitely be Claude Rains.

    1. PKMKII

      Well to be fair, the article acknowledges that Beals has only been living in the district for two years, and that a lot of these rural districts end up getting represented by carpetbaggers from the nearest city who’ve got the money to burn.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > What the Dems really have is not a message problem or a money problem but an authenticity problem

      I disagree. The money problem is the message problem is the authenticity problem.

      Or, to put this another way, that DCCC Democrats spend four hours a day on the phone servicing rich donors is the message, and is who they authentically are.

      1. Carolinian

        Yes but they don’t get up on the stump and say “if elected I will spend four hours a day servicing donors.” They present themselves as something they aren’t including perhaps even the name. It’s dubious whether people like HRC care that much about democracy (especially for the people of Honduras).

        Here’s suggesting it’s Sanders’ personality that young people responded to as much as his message. Politicians can say they are for anything. Voters need to believe them.

        1. JTMcPhee

          “Elizabeth Warren, progressive powerhouse”??? Must be kismet, that this appeared in the links above, in a thread that includes lots of discussion of consciousness-altering drugs… Several have noted stuff today that induced a reflex to spit their coffee. Got to say that bit about Liz being a “progressive powerhouse,” in the league of a Bernie Sanders (not pure progressive either, by some definitions) made me spit my coffee. “Oh c’cmon,” some will say, “she’s not as bad as some of the others…” Damning indeed with faint praise.

  15. Summer

    Re: Class Warfare..helpful advice

    This may be related to “layoffs,” but by age 35 you should have worked at at least one company that folded. While credit scrutiny of applicants is institutionalized, the credit info about the companies people apply to isn’t transpatently given or required.

    Also, add to that you may have worked for at least one company close to being a criminal enterprise in order ti “feed your family.”5

  16. Oregoncharles

    “And sexual harassment — as we are often told — is not about sex at all? But power?”

    That’s backwards. Power is about sex and the chance to reproduce. The most obvious example is combat mating – the familiar lion, stallion, or stag with his harem, constantly challenged by other males and fighting to stay in control. Crucial clue: those alpha males seldom live very long. They exhaust themselves or die of their wounds. Why would any creature do that.

    Clue 2: larger males are an indication of combat mating, at least in the past. Truth is people do this, even though we disapprove; war is one extension of it.

    Kissinger’s “power is sexy” is a statement of basic biology, from which we are not exempt. Apparently he was in a position to notice.

    1. Lee

      Agreed that there is at work in the beady little brains of most of us a biological imperative to pass on at least half of one’s genes through mating. But there are other forces at work as well.

      For example, there is the role of female choice to consider, which has been often overlooked in past studies of animal behavior. Evidence of this has been more recently observed in more comprehensive studies of animal interactions and by genetic evidence that offspring of species previously assumed to be either monogamous or organized in harems under a single dominant male that are the result of matings with non-pair member and/or non-dominant males.

      Also there is the role of cultural evolution to take into account so far as humans are concerned. Through it we bend, amplify or soften the notes to the tunes that physical evolution has bequeathed us. Now, among many human societies female choice in all matters sexual and otherwise is recognized as a right if not yet fully realized then as an ideal worth supporting.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Sexual selection = female choice, usually. Even in combat mating – the males wouldn’t go through all that if it didn’t get them mates. As you say, individual cheating is also pervasive.

        The exception to that first sentence is top-of-the-food-chain animals that have to restrict their population – like guess who. Then it becomes more two-way, and may tip back and forth depending on circumstances, as it has in human history. As you say, for humans all of this is carried out through cultural evolution. I like to emphasize the biology because it’s much overlooked, and humbling.

        Also; I don’t know what Lambert means by “gender fluid,” but it’s already clear that men and women are corrupted by power in very similar ways. Big surprise.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I don’t know what Lambert means by “gender fluid”

          Places like Teen Vogue would, IMSHO, like gender to be fluid because they can monetize all the accoutrements and signifiers for every phase of “transition.” Plus “transgressive” always sells.

          While gender is clearly not binary, and also clearly not an, er, straight-forward readout of biological sex, the idea that it’s also simply an individual(ized) choice, arbitrary choice seems crazed to me. Just because an identity as ascriptive doesn’t make it easy to change or adopt.

        2. HotFlash

          Even in combat mating – the males wouldn’t go through all that if it didn’t get them mates.

          Well, I think they would do whatever their hormones pushed them to do. I doubt that the two battling caribou or whatever reason it out that far, “If I beat him, I’ll get all of them.”
          And Nature tends to value diversity, cause you never know what traits may come in handy in the future.

  17. Andrew Watts

    By age 35 you should have:
    Sold at least one bodily fluid for cash
    Been laid off from at least 4 jobs
    Cashed out at least one 401(k)
    Missed at least 1 rent payment to pay medical bills
    Sold all of your belongings at least once
    Become a socialist

    — Kameron Hurley (@KameronHurley) May 16, 2018

    Why isn’t eviction or homelessness on the list? I’m on the road to winning this race just missing a one or two from it. I had my sperm labeled as “evil genius” in case anybody wants it. The peculiar naming was to make sure that no white liberal bourgeoisie lady would frivolously make use of it.

    1. Wukchumni

      By age 35 you should have:
      Sold at least one bodily fluid for cash

      In NZ, a hooker is a position in rugby, not a proposition.

  18. Andrew Watts

    Good morning! Have some dystopia. https://t.co/PsZakwadHc pic.twitter.com/3aEl5cFdw4

    — Zack Whittaker (@zackwhittaker) May 16, 2018

    Why is anybody surprised or unaware about this? When cell phones first became prevalent the whole “a cell phone is a device used to track you that also makes phone calls” saying became popular. It was a genuine warning about the world we were heading into.

    How is this not considered a violation of wiretapping laws anyway? These people aren’t the government and they’re the only people who should be illegally spying on us and then getting laws passed to legalize it.

    1. Ed Miller

      Perhaps one must consider the fact that today there are laws but there is no law enforcement except to keep the rich and powerful safe. Who will save us from the rich and powerful? LOL

      There are wolves and sheep, but no wolves who will protect the sheep.

  19. Wukchumni

    It’s funny, the idea of people paying for their own electronic leashes…

    DIY Stasi

    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

      Wukchumni and leash

      That reminds me of those dogs who carry the end of their leash In their mouths.

      If it is the company leash I get paid.

      It is all about the convenience/freedom trade off. The wealthier the country, the more freedom is constrained (especially for politicians).

  20. David Carl Grimes

    Re Taibbi piece on the Democrats. Someone in this forum called the Corporate Democrats as “Versailles” Democrats. I like that. It connotes that guys like Obama, Clinton, Biden, Schumer, and Pelosi are slated for the guillotine at the next revolution.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Major Major Major Majordomos of the donkey show strike me as more “Versace®” Democrats.

    1. JCC

      Interesting article. Kern County is the the county I live in now on the east side of the Sierras about two hours from the County Seat of Bakersfield. I’m just outside the city border so technically covered by sheriffs and not city police.

      Last year there was a multiple stabbing incident 3 doors west of my house in the county, none of those involved were latino or black.

      So, I doubt that this guy’s statement that Kern County Sheriffs are stupid is even close to true, but the reporter’s statement that that they are short-handed with limited resources is definitely true.

      When the stabbing happened, around 2:00 AM on a Saturday night/Sunday morning, (one kid was killed on the spot) the city cops showed up but with no jurisdiction. They called the county sheriff department but the nearest sheriff was about 80 miles away and couldn’t come pick up the perpetrator. They have also closed the county jail here and the city, I’ve been told, doesn’t have a jail facility. No money in the town or Kern County to maintain one full-time from what I was told. So they hauled the other two victims to the hospital and sent the stabber home! (I was told by the stabber’s peers that the kid wasn’t smart enough to handle running out, but I’ve never heard the final results).

      No cop wanted to drive the 2 hours to Bakersfield, fill out all the paperwork, then drive 2 hours back home, or at least the overtime apparently wasn’t granted to do so.

      Lots of rough trade in Kern County, and in Tulare County. Most people don’t realize that most of CA is still the Wild West with numerous isolated communities and, other than traffic ticket revenue, resources seem pretty stretched.

  21. ewmayer

    “NOTE Sadly, I couldn’t figure out how to make BLINK work…”

    Lambert, you’ll be pleased to know that it’s blinking just fine for me in my antique FF v22 browser. (I have PaleMoon and a newer FF version around, too, for sites where I need more advanced crypo than FF v22 supports, but v22 still works great for general ‘low https level’ surfing.)

    So I encourage you to keep including such “no longer supported by the latest-great-tech” browser ‘easter eggs’ in your 2PMWCs, for the amusement of us “Luddites of the world, untie!”-ers.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “US Dashes Hopes for Quick NAFTA Deal Amid ‘Gaping’ Differences”

    I see that a stumbling point is a demand by Trump for a sunset clause that would kill NAFTA after 5 years unless all parties agree to extend it. Apart from the fact that you can’t do business planning if you think that the bottom might fall out from under your business instantaneously, wouldn’t that 5 years run out in the lead up to the US 2024 Presidential election?

  23. The Rev Kev

    “A Wake-Up Call for Dems?” :’…one of the defeated Democrats even tried to hustle and run a write-in campaign to win the Republican nomination at the last minute’

    Fortunately he never had to change any of his policies or positions.

  24. ef

    to get a BLINK element working, try using a “CSS animation”.
    Wikipedia has the history of that “ancient” element.
    Have a look here.

  25. Lambert Strether Post author

    Thanks. I tried text-decoration: blink, so perhaps the next time I’ll see about JavaScript (ugh, but for the purposes of DCCC delenda est I’m willing to go quite a distance….

  26. XXYY

    “Workhorse now making residential deliveries with HorseFly drone”

    I have never understood this idea. So many things don’t make sense: the limited flight time (30 min in this case), the slow flying speed, the limited payload (10 lbs in this case), the need for a place to drop the payload (in a field? on the roof of the apartment building? on the sidewalk?), the ability to operate only in daytime in good weather, the ease for someone else to spot and hijack the delivery, the need for a skilled human pilot who could just as well be driving a truck, vandals shooting down or stealing the expensive drone, or the inability of a drone to interact with the customer in any way (are they home? is this the right place? need a signature?). We can probably think of a lot more things in 5 minutes.

    Is there really a business here? Seems like a gimmick, and not even a good gimmick!

  27. Thussprach

    Based on the info in this post re: Pi-Hole, I installed it on a Raspberry Pi Zero that I had laying around. Works perfectly. I don’t have to run ad blockers now and browsing the web is much faster.

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