2:00PM Water Cooler 6/1/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, today is a travel day for me, and so I am altogether unable to post. –lambert

Talk amongst yourselves! In politics, I’d be especially interested to hear about:

1) Election news in New York, especially how the Establishment weighed in on the sides of Rising Stars™ Cynthia Nixon and Zephyr Teachout

2) Election news in California. Did the Sanders forces really take over the state? Somehow I doubt it.

3) Is Republican-turned-Democrat Richard Painter — the Bush ethics counsel (!) — really going in win in Minnesota? And how about Michigan gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar?

And let’s not forget the “economy” part of “political economy.” Here’s a time exposure of a volanic eruption:

Lovely in itself, at least as in image but perhaps not if you’re from Hawaii, but I wonder if we visualized the economy….

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

KS: “Flower photos i took in the yard today.” I love columbines. They have a lovely, old-fashioned look, and they’re (at least moderately) invasive. I always have a new crop, and often the color of the flowers changes.

* * *

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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. HotFlash

      My dear Slim, alas, I cannot bicycle that far! I am in Toronto, but with you (you-all?) in spirit, and eagerly awaiting report of the event. If you gots wifi within the pixels of my typing, pls greet the Tucson meeter-uppers well from me.

  1. Jim Haygood

    Five Horsemen: for the first time today, Microsoft’s share price exceeds $100, as Amazon blows the top off yesterday’s chart.


    Mania-panic index: yesterday’s market decline sent the put-call ratio up to a panicky 1.13, knocking the mania-panic index down to 50 (worry). The value was 49.7 before rounding.


    Afternoon addendum: despite Facebook’s well-publicized troubles which knocked it down more than 20 percent from a Feb 1st high, today FB is trading at a new record high at 2 pm. Zuck is back … and he’s takin’ names.

    1. Craig H.

      Reddit has passed up facebook in the web rankings for the number three spot behind google and youtube.

      My favorite comment from the reaction thread over there: on reddit strangers amuse me and on facebook people I know piss me off.

          1. Kael Fischer

            Yeah. I asked because when I checked there this afternoon, FB was ahead again :-(

      1. Jim Haygood

        Interesting; thanks. Reddit is owned by Advance Publications, which started out 96 years ago as the Staten Island Advance newspaper.

        But the company is privately held, so there’s no share price to track. Its estimated annual revenue of $2.4 billion compares to Facebook’s $40 billion in 2017.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            I hate the abolition of local newspaper names. Whose bright idea was it to replace “Times-Picayune” with NOLA.com? Or the “Plain-Dealer” with “Cleveland.com”?

            Standing athwart history, yelling Stop! …

        1. Code Name D

          Lol, people over 50 never figured facebook out. Those VCR programing skills mean nothing.

          1. Wukchumni

            As if I ever really figured out to completely program my circa 1986 $400 VCR, ha!

            1. Wukchumni


              I wonder whatever became of my brother-in-law’s pride and joy, his 700 or so VHS tape collection?

              When they first came out in the early 80’s, I remember tapes costing upwards of $100 per.

              Anyhow, he could’ve thrown the money he laid out onto a busy street instead, and probably have had more fun watching people scramble for it.

              1. kareninca

                It’s really a shame that they don’t build VHS players anymore. There are loads of VHS tapes out there and they still work fine; we get tons of them where I volunteer. People who still have players get a great deal; they don’t have to pay $12 to stream an old movie. The “free” movies on Amazon and the like are awful, and the pay-movies are expensive. If I had a VHS player I’d use it.

  2. Clive

    Not just Lambert taking that afternoon off (hey, give him a break, he’s earned a day off) by Visa’s European authorisation host has concked out, too.


    Amazing how people now depend on card payments. And don’t take steps to lessen the chances of getting stuck. Everyone should have $100 cash (or local equivalent, say €60 or £50 or so) and a card from at least two networks (Mastercard and Visa). And have at least two card issuer’s cards (say one from Wells Fargo and one from Citi or whatever — making sure that it is genuinely a different issuer, not, say, like thinking that your MBNA card is an alternative to Bank of America, when they’re one and the same behind the scenes).

  3. allan

    Re: the Establishment weighing in putting its thumb on the scale:

    These Public Defenders Want to Fight Bias From the Bench
    [The Appeal]

    But their push to unseat judges is drawing backlash from a surprising [hahahaha] source—fellow Democrats.

    In early February, four longtime public defenders in San Francisco announced their plans to run for Superior Court judge, a position that would allow them to preside over the very same courtrooms where they had been defending indigent clients for years. The public defenders were targeting the seats of four judges who had been appointed by Republican governors, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, the type of judges who rarely face serious challenges from either party. But instead of being greeted by local Democratic politicians with enthusiasm and encouragement, the public defenders were instead criticized for daring to run.

    A week after the announcement, Assemblymember David Chiu, a Democrat from San Francisco, expressed a deep concern about the “politicization of the bench” speaking out with three local Democrats who defended the current judges (who have also described themselves as Democrats). …

    The four new candidates, all of whom are either Black or Latinx, hope to address the disproportionate impact of the criminal justice system on people of color in San Francisco, a famously “progressive” city. In 2016, the Department of Justice issued a 400-plus page report describing implicit bias against minorities in the San Francisco Police Department. According to a 2015 study, Black adults in San Francisco were more than seven times more likely than white adults to be arrested. …

    Yet more proof, as if any were needed, that identity is only used by Dems to validate Establishment candidates.

      1. AdamK

        Been to SF on memorial weekend and the situation there is dire. Not only the black population is more likely to be arrested, they’re more likely to be homeless too. Thousands of encampments under the bridges, parks and wherever they’re allowed to stay for a short period of time, dirt and neglect is visible everywhere in downtown area. I heard on the news that someone set on a needle at the BART and had to go through lots of blood tests, another one told me that they found a homeless person who broke into and was sleeping in their car.

      2. JTMcPhee

        Does it make any difference in getting copped in SF if you are black and gay and also drawing a high-six-figure paycheck from some SilVal startup or Big Player?

        1. Monica Bee

          I know we’re being funny and witty and tongue in cheek, but no. It doesn’t make a difference in dealings with the police. That’s the point and the terrifying, twisted problem of being Black in America.

          We do have an unprecedented issue with people experiencing major levels of housing insecurity in SF (please, never San Fran), including homelessness, and few of our “leaders” are taking it on. Most of us with jobs and houses are also in precarious positions where if one thing gives it likely means leaving our town, yet still forget we have more in common with every homeless person than with any billionaire.

          1. JBird

            Homelessness has been increasing for four decades in the City and that problem has also spread to the rest of the state. Anytime one of the newspapers actually dein to do a story, out comes the hatred with the posters just all blaming the tens of thousands, often employed, homelessness for being homeless. If the reporter responds, out comes the knives. To actually suggest building more housing, not public, or subsidized, just more and somehow the frothing hatred increases. I am reliable informed of the laziness, stupidity, drunken, drugged, filthy, any criminality of these moochers, who will bring down property values.

            Methinks, this last point is really the important issue to them.

    1. freedomny

      Randy Abreu, Esq.
      ‏ @AbreuForNYC
      1h1 hour ago

      Good friends who still work on Capitol Hill in #DC have confirmed that: “top staff and Crowley himself are losing sleep” over potential loss to @Ocasio2018.

      My reply as I took another sip of earl grey: “What. A. Time. To. Be. Alive.


    On Nixon: Surprisingly, the NY press has given her a lot of credit and is taking her campaign seriously, albeit with some reservations regarding the celebrity candidate thing (justified in my eyes). Part of this is driven by the fact that a minor miracle has occurred and the press and, to a lesser extent, the public have realized that the MTA is, in fact, a state authority and thus Cuomo is responsible for its woes and not DeBlasio. Which, in additional to a whole slew of other problems, is removing Cuomo’s veneer as Governor Who Gets Things Done and instead is looking more like Governor Who Gets His Name on Things Without Accepting Responsibility. Which makes Nixon looks good by comparison.

    On Teachout: Not much of a reaction so far. I suspect that if Preet enters the race, the press will treat him as the de facto winner.

    1. Huey Long

      Cynthia Nixon is despised by most building trades union members in NYC after a foot-in-mouth incident back in March:


      Cuomo has capitalized on this and appeared at the union building trades’ last big rally at Union Square in May:


      I’m not sure how this is all going to shake out in the end, but in terms of labor union support in the primary I think Cuomo is going to clean her clock.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Who outnumbers whom in the City? Union members against Nixon or Subway riders against Cuomo?

        1. Huey Long

          In the 2014 Democratic primary 594,287 votes were cast. There are currently 5,792,497 registered Democrats statewide. Assuming turnout is low again this year, I’d say my fellow union members have the edge as we’re the more organized group. We vote in higher numbers and are invaluable in the ground game (GOTV, rides to the poll, lit drops, etc).

          Besides, how many angry subway riders have been successfully fooled into thinking that the NYC Subway system is really DeBlasio’s problem and will vote for Cuomo in spite of his culpability for the MTA’s poor performance?

          Ms. Nixon, a union member herself, made a huge mistake when she whipped out the tired old “union workers make too much money” trope to explain the MTA’s runaway construction costs and we’re going to hold her accountable for it come September 13th.

          I really wish I was going to be able to pull the lever for a progressive female fellow union member and friend to labor this year but I can’t do so in good conscience given Ms. Nixon’s clear disdain for my fellow workers and I.

          1. Octopii

            Ya know, it’s interesting that a building costs 20-25% more if union labor is used. It’s also interesting to watch our own local DC transit agency be forced by the union to keep or re-hire workers who falsified inspection reports and the like, causing fatalities. It was interesting for me back in my postal equipment days to see the sorting workers walk away from the machine at break time, leaving it to continue running and soon jam, every break, every day. I’ve enjoyed working with union electricians – their skill level seems to be somewhat higher than non-union, but for every hotshot fire alarm tech there’s a “Re-do Ray” screwing things up for others to fix but making the same wage.

            I can’t comment on how much union workers make, whether it’s too much or not enough. But what I have seen over years working in the field makes me think unions are broken in this country. The relationship between unions and industry is symbiotic, and unions have the power to kill the host. Some are not utilizing their power for the true good of their members, nor the benefit of their industry’s position in society. When union policies prevent people whose negligence caused passenger deaths from being fired, something is wrong.

            1. Huey Long

              Ya know, it’s interesting that a building costs 20-25% more if union labor is used.

              Better trained workers who work safer and enjoy health benefits and a pension plan cost more, plain and simple. Unfortunately, that 20-25% cost savings is coming from not paying benefits/pension but also from outright wage theft and fraud.


              It’s also interesting to watch our own local DC transit agency be forced by the union to keep or re-hire workers who falsified inspection reports and the like, causing fatalities.

              Shame on the arbitrator who failed to uphold the discharge of this employee!

              It was interesting for me back in my postal equipment days to see the sorting workers walk away from the machine at break time, leaving it to continue running and soon jam, every break, every day.

              Why wasn’t management documenting these incidents, issuing written discipline, and putting a stop to this? What arbitrator at a disciplinary hearing is going to side with the worker here?

              I’ve enjoyed working with union electricians – their skill level seems to be somewhat higher than non-union,

              What can I say? That truly is a journeyman’s trade.

              but for every hotshot fire alarm tech there’s a “Re-do Ray” screwing things up for others to fix but making the same wage.

              Skill-level differences between workers making the same wage is a problem on every job, both union and non union. I deal with it every day at my job and sometimes it burns my butt.

              My problem with any kind of merit pay scheme is that it opens the door to management favoritism, and I’m just not comfortable with that. Seniority, for all its flaws, is at least fair insofar as it can’t be faked.

              I can’t comment on how much union workers make, whether it’s too much or not enough. But what I have seen over years working in the field makes me think unions are broken in this country.

              I can’t argue with you here.

              The relationship between unions and industry is symbiotic, and unions have the power to kill the host.

              The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. (I’m a wobbly at heart!)

              Some are not utilizing their power for the true good of their members, nor the benefit of their industry’s position in society. When union policies prevent people whose negligence caused passenger deaths from being fired, something is wrong.

              I couldn’t agree with you more!

              1. bob

                Cuomo isn’t a friend of labor either. Did you watch the trial of his buddy? A lot of it had to do with how COR wanted to go around a PLA. They did walk completely around it. No story there.

            2. bob

              Just add some Oh-So-Obvious sarcasm to age old labor bashing and it’s brand new! Be hip, be cool, be anti-union!

              “I can’t comment on how much union workers make, whether it’s too much or not enough. ”

              Who are you trying to fool? You’re commenting on EXACTLY that.

              Listen to your boss, unions are bad. We’ll even let you call that view “radical” these days. Lining up with and advocating for capital has always been a radical position. I’d bet you are a Shareholder, the new real radicals.

            3. sierra7

              Apparently you have never been on the negative end of wage theft or forced overtime issues. Or other circumstances that necessitate a co-operative effort by the many to defend the few. Most Americans (even those unionized) are totally brain dead ignorant on organized labor history. It was the efforts of organized labor that helped build the middle class in this country. It wasn’t the “independent” workers or the CEO’s of corporations that spearpointed those efforts. For all the “benefits” that still exist today in the organized labor crushing policies they were won because individuals, organized she their blood and died in the streets of this country (and other parts of the world). Global corporations have been pretty successful in crushing organized labor over the past decades (since pointedly the 1980’s) and globalization without labor invited to that table has accelerated the move downwards. Those who are ignorant of history will not have the knowledge on how to react; those who are not will attempt to rebuild.

          2. Ny policy

            Teachout got 37 percent even with low name recognition, Cuomo having full union support and ground game, the endorsement of progressives like WFP of Cuomo, etc. She was also less organized. Nixon has apparently been organizing behind the scenes for the last 3 months to build a ground game around the state. It certainly doesn’t help that the establishment has been telling their base this is over.

            There are a lot of factors. Eg If you do a breakdown, there were 120-30,000 WFP cast in the general. However the party membership is only 40,000.

            No one is sure how many of the 80,000 are Democrats.

            One of the more powerful unions is the teachers union. Nixon is well known in those circles and frankly Cuomo has to do a lot of arm twisting and back peddling.

            This is arguably a worst year for Cuimo even if the above dynamics were not different from the last time.

            The problem Cuomo faces is a lot of those Democrats are in NYC and must take the MTA, which people are starting to blame him for.

            I agree with Sam Seder that this race is likely to end with at best a 10 point spread. But I can see enough wiggle room where Cuomo could lose, union or not.

            Not even Cuimo believes this will be a cake walk. If the machine were as confident of the outcome , Clinton and Biden would have been unnecessary.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      “Which makes Nixon look good by comparison”

      I Love this, and that is why I should never be asked to design campaign bumper stickers.

    3. Big Tap

      If Preet runs Teachout can mention this. He’s not what he appears to be. https://www.truthdig.com/articles/when-it-comes-to-prosecuting-wall-street-preet-bharara-is-no-hero/

      “Bharara missed an opportunity by not bringing any significant criminal charges against individuals in the wake of the collapses of Lehman, investment bank Merrill Lynch, the insurer AIG, the mortgage securities and collateralized debt obligation businesses, or the myriad public misrepresentations from bank CEOs about their finances.”

  5. Roger Smith

    Here is my state’s outlook as far as the Democrat ticket goes… It is either Shri or an Insurance Industry Goon. At face value, I fail to see how strategizing on which ticket to run for the best chance at exercising a platform is a “bad” thing. That doesn’t mean I am holding my breath that Shri isn’t a big faker like the rest.

    The Intercept hit pieces (all by the same author, Zaid Jilani) seem less than objective when you look at the writer’s last bogus publication.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The Intercept is kind of weird….lots of good stuff, and some real whoppers. I can’t read anything they write on Syria.

      If the guy, Shri, has had a genuine change of heart, then great! If not, throw the bum out next term!

      1. Roger Smith

        Yea, downright awful sometimes.

        My thoughts exactly. I will take the unknown. If it works out, it works out. If not, there’s next term.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Do you have the recall? Should be used more, IMHO. Allows the voters to take chances.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Like recalling Scott Walker in WI? Worked great, there… And of course in FL there is no recall, so that’s why we have been hag-ridden by that non-human carpetbagger Sick Rott, oops, Rick Scott, for governator since 2010. Two terms, thanks to the Dem Party fielding loser candidates (BiznessMs. Alex, can you believe the optics, SINK, and Charlie “Permanent Tan, Party Switcher” Crist.)

            There’s dang little investigative reporting on what goes on in that far northwest corner of our boomerang-shaped state, other than the lates excrescences of the NRA in “freeing up the Gunn people — but it’s pretty clear that Scott and a gerrymandered Rep dominated legislature have been running policy based on input from the Kochs’ ALEC monster: https://fcir.org/2013/11/14/koch-brothers-florida/

            The only reasons Scott is heading off are term limits for governor, and his ambitions to purchase higher offices — next step, to oust Bill “Soft Shoe” Nelson, astronaut god and total nebbish. Scott is pallid, mechanical and ready to show what robots and aliens can do when they have the “legitimizing power of the State” behind them. And he has grown the some $300 million he took on departing from HCA where he operated a Medicare/Medicaid fraud machine of epic scope, thanks to all the counterfavors he gets from the people he services. Some decent detail in Wiki: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Scott

            Srlsy, I do not believe he is human. But that’s just me…

    1. DJG

      JohnnyGL: I believe that the inventor of the meme (before there were memes), DLC = Democrats for the Leisure Class, was Jesse Jackson.

        1. JohnnyGL


          The interwebs seem to agree that Jackson dropped that one (weaver’s tone sort of suggested that he knew he was repeating the joke, not making it up for the first time). Great line from him. I hadn’t heard that before.

          1. 3.14e-9

            Just finished watching the interview. Good stuff! Thanks for the link, Johnny.

            As I mentioned in an earlier comment, there’s a good possibility that Weaver heard the line straight from the reverend’s mouth — possibly before it was quoted in the press. It’s understandable, though, that he wouldn’t mention Jackson in the interview, considering that Bernie went out on a limb to support him in 1988, and then Jackson turned around and endorsed Hillary — after saying he would stay neutral. That had to have stung someone who had been with Bernie for nearly 30 years.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Bernie Sanders endorsed Jesse Jackson in the 1988 Democratic primary and campaigned for him in Vermont. Weaver, still in his early 20s, had been Bernie’s driver for a couple of years by then and might well have heard it from Jackson himself — whether or not the remark had been quoted yet in the press.

  6. Summer

    Re: California election.

    All I know is that I’m not voting for anyone even remotely out of Silicon Valley.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Charge of the real estate lemmings:

    A majority of U.S. adults (64%) continue to believe home prices in their local area will increase over the next year, a recent survey released by polling firm Gallup concluded.

    The level of optimism is edging closer to the 70% of adults in 2005 who said prices would continue rising. That, of course, was less than one year before the peak of the housing market bubble in early 2006.

    By 2009 only 22% of Americans believed house prices would rise.


    Just got a dose of this attitude last night from a neighbor who, besides his primary residence, owns two VRBO rental houses in our small second-home and vacation-oriented town. He’s about to pull the trigger on another purchase — a one-bedroom, one-bath house whose only logical use is renting to short-stay couples. So he has NO geographic diversification if the local market collapses, as it did during 2007-2011.

    “Hal” is by no means naive. He spent years negotiating commercial leases for a nationwide retailer. But to quote his outlook: “It might go up, but it’s definitely not going down.”


    When people reach this stage of true belief, repeating the tired old slogans of 2005, it is pointless to confront them with facts. I’ll wait for some distress-sale bargains in the early 2020s … cabins for nothin’, land for free.

    1. Summer

      And bigger, longer term picture….even if the asset inflation fantasy continues eventualky you have to be able to sell or rent at fantasy prices in a landscape where wages and job security for prospective renters or owners are continualky cut for the majority.
      How many houses can the 10% flip to each other in a bizarre futuristic ponzi-like scheme?
      It’s als a bit of “the grass is green in my yard so it must be everywhere” delusion.

    2. Tertium Squid

      I dunno. There’s so much cash out there, and more being created all the time to prop up assets, that I wonder if the next real estate crash cannot come before a major currency collapse.

      1. Wukchumni

        There appears to be no cash coming to save the CANZ, as each formerly red hot housing bubble in Canada, Australia & New Zealand is tanking hard.

    3. Tom Stone

      My office in Santa Rosa closed 8 deals last week, 2 for the list price and 6 2% to 5% below asking.
      All were priced below $800K.
      Despite the dearth of inventory prices are coming down.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Was just talking to the realtor next to my shop…Got 4 offers, all for cash, all over asking price, for a $600,000 listing in Richmond, CA ….accepted $710,000.

        And it wasn’t the highest bid.

        In Richmond??!!
        (Think Detroit but with refineries…)

        Santa Rosa may be suffering from the terrible commute into the Bay Area….

        1. sd

          I think people have gone cuckoo again – it reminds me of 2006. There’s a certain hysteria in the air.

        2. John

          In San Mateo, near SF, a nearby home went for about 2M, and it was $600k over the asking price.

  8. Wukchumni

    If you’ve never been to Chaco Canyon in NM, I urge a visit.

    The Anasazi were a lot like us, the .01% amassing luxury items that were mostly hidden away in the Great Houses, and then climate change came calling…

    Dungan and other archaeologists believe that Chaco culture was a form of religion, but it was also highly political. In the 700s, small villages in Chaco Canyon blossomed into much larger settlements centered around great houses with multiple kivas. Great-house residents accumulated wealth on an unprecedented scale, with storage bins full of turquoise, cacao and other luxuries imported from Mexico. Their kivas were roofed with enormous pine timbers that laborers carried more than 60 miles from the Zuni mountains.

    As the population grew, people cleared nearby forests to plant corn. It seemed like a good idea until Chacoans belatedly realized that the forests were home to the deer whose meat and hides they prized. Just as the deer supply began to dwindle, a drought hit in the 1100s, devastating crops. For the next couple of generations, we see skeletal remains marked by violent death throughout the Pueblo world. Bones show signs of blunt-force trauma, mutilation and burning, while mass graves suggest that there were massacres.


  9. Wukchumni

    Heading up to our cabin in the National Park for a spell, and hope to see the mountain lion that’s been hanging around the ‘hood.

    NPS has posted this online and on flyers on signposts:

    “Do not hike alone.

    Be extra cautious in times around dawn and dusk.

    Keep children close to you.

    Don’t let children run ahead of you on the trail.

    Keep pets on leashes and close to you.

    If you see a mountain lion:

    •Stay calm. Hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright.

    •Do not approach a lion. Never approach a mountain lion especially one that is feeding or with kittens. Most mountain lions will try to avoid a confrontation. Give them a way to escape.

    •Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If you have small children with you, pick them up if possible so they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.

    •Do not crouch down or bend over. Biologists surmise mountain lions don’t recognize standing humans as prey.

    If the mountain lion moves in your direction or acts aggressively:

    •Do all you can to appear intimidating.

    •Make yourself appear to be bigger by raising arms, jackets, backpacks, etc. If looking bigger doesn’t scare the mountain lion off, start throwing stones, branches, or whatever you can reach in its direction without crouching or turning your back.

    If the mountain lion continues to move in your direction:

    •Start throwing things at it.

    Again, your safety is more important than the mountain lion’s.”

    er, maybe i’d like to see it through a window from the inside of our cabin, yeah, that’s the ticket.

    1. John

      We live in lion country. The other thing to do is talk loudly. A study found that lions strongly avoided the human voice.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Real estate depends on mortgage credit. Here is one Achilles heel to watch:

    Independent mortgage companies are making almost half of new home loans in the U.S., mirroring lending practices from the subprime crisis.

    Nonbanks, more loosely regulated than large banks such as JPMorgan Chase, dominate the market for providing loans to borrowers with weak credit and lower incomes, Bloomberg reported.

    Lenders use lines of credit to fund the loans, which are packaged into securities.


    Unlike banks, which can create loans with keystrokes, nonbanks can only lend money they first borrowed — often from big banks which want to keep riskier mortgage lending off their own books.

    If big banks fall into crisis and cut off their credit lines, nonbank lenders will turn off the taps overnight, erasing half the supply of new mortgages.

    Stories about hard-hustling mortgage bankers making millions and driving Lambos are so 2005 all over again. It’s not over yet, but we’re just passing the big yellow “freeway ends 1 mile ahead” sign.

    1. cnchal

      Unlike banks, which can create loans with keystrokes, nonbanks can only lend money they first borrowed — often from big banks which want to keep riskier mortgage lending off their own books.

      So, nonbanks lend money that was keystroked into existence by the big bank. Who is the bag holder? The borrower, the non bank, the big bank or many someones that had nothing to do with any of the transactions?

  11. Stephen Tynan

    Golden State elections.
    I overheard some Dem steering committee bigwigs narrating the following gameplan:
    ‘Feinstein reelected, will step down after a year, (Gov) Gavin Newsom will appoint Adam Schiff to replace her for the rest of her term. He can then represent the IC in the Senate well into his 80’s.’
    Anyone like this scenario?

    1. Tom Stone

      No, Mr Tynan, I do not like it at all.
      However it doesn’t seem unlikely to anyone familiar with CA politics.
      The assertion that Sanders supporter have taken over the Democratic Party in California is bizarre.
      I wish it were otherwise.

      1. John Wright

        Yes, indeed.

        For somewhat of a sampling, here is Newsom’s take on income inequality in CA, summarized as early intervention, then wait about 20 years for results….

        from: https://www.bohemian.com/northbay/the-gav-guv/Content?oid=5252432

        “The Bohemian: Bay Area cities are ground zero for income inequality. How do you think we arrived at this point of extreme poverty in the shadow of plenty, and what steps would you take as governor to alleviate those problems—both on a structural level and in the short-term?

        Newsom: The only substantive way we’re going to address this issue is you’ve got to begin at the beginning. Our interventions come too late. We’re playing catch-up, we’re triaging it. At the end of the day, if we don’t focus on the first few precious years of a child’s life, we are making a huge mistake—and we’ve been doing that for a generation. The science is in, it’s overwhelming: billions and billions of neurons exploding at the same time; 85 percent of that brain is developed by the age of three. If you don’t capture a kid by the age of three, we’re going to be spending extraordinary amounts of money playing catch-up.

        So we have a huge focus on prenatal care, on nurse home visits, early intervention and those first three precious years. Obviously as mayor, I did universal preschool—fully implemented it. That’s profoundly important from a foundational perspective. But that’s, to me, my focus: the readiness gap, and not waiting for it to become an achievement gap.”

  12. Utah

    I know this isn’t the political commentary that you asked for, but a friend is thinking about running for Utah Democrat Committeewoman in 2020- this is the position that the state Democrats elect as our representatives to the DNC. This made me remember that in 2016, my state sent two Hillary supporters to the DNC as our committee-people. (I voted for the Berniecrat! But both lost). One has been pretty decent and is at least trying to find common ground. The other is a true blue dog and is impossible to get in touch with.
    So, *we* (the proverbial we) need more not-blue-dog-dems *hopefully berniecrats or at least left of center folks* in every state to run for committee-person. My little red state gets 2, I don’t know how many other states get. This is the only way the DNC is ever going to change.
    That’s all I got on the political front. Utah is a boring red state with a Bernie-crat as our state party chair, and we can’t get the DNC to pay attention to us or help us in any meaningful way. So much for a 50-state strategy.

    In other news, Perez wants Birmingham to bid for the 2020 convention.

  13. freedomny

    I have a terrace that faces west and gets the most unbelievable sunsets. However, for the past several months – I haven’t seen many, which is really odd since I’ve lived here for 12 years. I realized that it had to do with the cloud formation, or lack thereof. So started doing some researching and came across Naomi Wolf’s twitter where she alludes to geoengineering cloud experiments that are apparently happening now. Then came across this site: http://www.geoengineeringmonitor.org. OMG – scared the bejesus out of me. Experiments being funded by billionaires to slow global warming??? Has anyone heard of this? I have to say, as a species we really manage to f*ck things up…..

    1. Lunker Walleye

      Yes, I have heard of it and wondered if there was any hard evidence. One woman I followed on Twitter who discussed this topic has recently had her account suspended.

  14. Wukchumni

    How many dead trees are kicking around in the High Sierra?

    129 million is the number bandied about, this 200 cords being tantamount to a toothpick in the scheme of things

    NPS is offering up to 6 cords free per family, some disassembly required

    KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Calif. (May 31, 2018) – Surplus wood in Kings Canyon National Park will be made available by permit to the public beginning Thursday, May 31, 2018. Firewood permits are free, and must be obtained before wood can be removed. There is a limit of six cords per family per year. Approximately 200 cords (50 cords in Grant Grove and 150 cords in Cedar Grove) will be available on a first-come first-served basis until the supply is gone.

    And this wood is merely from dead trees too close to campgrounds, trails, anywhere the public might conceivably be, etc.

    1. Angie Neer

      Excellent choice! And consistent with the Water Cooler’s recurring theme of gardening, Gladiolus is one of many Joplin rags named after flowers. The other day I impressed somebody by knowing that the Heliotrope is a flower, but the only reason I know that is because of the Joplin/Chauvin rag “Heliotrope Bouquet,” one of my favorites. I don’t really care for Rifkin’s dirge-like performance of that one, though.

    1. blennylips

      1) “The case for quarantining extremist ideas”

      2) “The means for quarantining extremist ideas”

      Mandatory upload filters in the EU?
      by Janos Pasztor • published Mar 20, 2018 • Law

      A new EU proposal would mandate all online platforms to institute upload filters. Let’s talk about that.

      3) Profit!

      First I’ve run across EU Article 13.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Guardian consistently erases my not very provocative comments and won’t open any comments on anything related to the Skripal Affair.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I’ve been wondering why the still quasi-reasonable press like the Guardian et al are so entirely bought into OMG Evil Russia.
        The straight line from death merchant war profits to their advertizing sponsors perhaps.
        But perhaps it’s because any critical examination of the Cold War Redux madness would result in the complete de-legitimizing of the entire fabric of the GIC (Government-Industrial Complex). Which I guess would be even worse for ad revenues.
        Looks like it’s up to us. With the measly tool of the ballot box.

    1. Adam Eran

      Also recommended: The chart in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Government_spending that’s entitled: List of Countries as a % of GDP. This compares both spending and taxes as a percent of GDP. Notice that clicking the headers sorts the column ascending/descending.

      Notice also that the U.S. government ranks 68th in spending as a % of GDP, below Russia…Heck, below Namibia! If you correct for egregious military spending (I figure about 11% of the spending is excess military), then the U.S. is closer to profligates like Botswana and Uruguay.

      Gee! I wonder why U.S. infrastructure is third world quality!

      The sources listed for this chart are such tree huggers as the Wall St. Journal and the Heritage Foundation. Looks like they’ve added some government sources, but still…not tree huggers.

      The chart below is social spending. The U.S. ranks 24th, behind Slovakia! Woo hoo! We’re #24! (See Bill Maher’s ranking here.)

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