By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Patient readers, as usual when I assault another worksheet on the Democrat House races, I’m late with Water Cooler. I apologize to those of you who structure your days around it, but it can’t be helped. OTOH, when I return in an hour or so, I’ll have some happy news. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves! –lambert UPDATE 4:21PM All done!
“As Trump Tariffs Bite, Firms Dangle Cash Prizes in Lobbying Push” [Industry Week]. “The Commerce Department has been flooded with almost 19,000 requests so far to have products excluded from Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs.”
“The fury from Trump and his advisers seemed to be linked to Trudeau’s closing press conference on Saturday where he reiterated his commitment to retaliate against U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. He also repeated his position that Canada would never accept a sunset provision in NAFTA” [Politico]. “Trudeau made clear on Saturday that Canada would in no way agree to a sunset clause in NAFTA 2.0, which it believes is a back-door way for the U.S. to encourage business investment in America instead of in Canada….” Oh.
“The pointed and sometimes personal verbal missiles flying between the Canadian and U.S. won’t change formal policies in the near term. But Mr. Trudeau is pledging to impose retaliatory tariffs in response to new U.S. steel and aluminum levies, and the European Union also looks like its moving forward with new levies, making a peaceful conclusion to the verbal battle seem still more distant” [Wall Street Journal].
“China may be weaving a rebound in U.S. cotton despite trade tensions across the Pacific. After years of stockpiling the fiber, China is re-emerging as a major consumer of American cotton, buying up futures contracts covering more than 360,000 bales of U.S. cotton for 2019-2020” [Wall Street Journal]. “That’s enough to make 400 million T-shirts…, and more than China has booked in data going back some 20 years. China’s buying decision will likely drive up prices in a market where investors believe the country’s big cotton stockpiles have long capped pricing. It will also drive up the country’s import volumes as the Trump administration is calling for Beijing to buy more goods from the U.S.” That’s rather a lot of T-shirts.
“Donald Trump is wooing black voters and killing the Democratic party” [USA Today]. “You’re delusional if you think Donald Trump’s decisions to pardon boxer Jack Johnson and commute Alice Johnson’s sentence aren’t part of a greater plan…. In Detroit, and other urban areas – where we can’t get more than 14% to 20% of registered voters to turn out for a municipal election — and where many people still love Kanye West (though he thinks slavery was a choice) or R. Kelly (who is avoiding jail by inexplicable means) — Trump may be resonating…. [F]earing little, he’s now working on his re-election campaign. Oh, you missed that? Most people did. When Trump announced, it was barely a blip on the national radar. He announced it while being federally investigated and waving off charges that his family is benefiting from his being in office. He had raised $10 million by April. And the NAACP didn’t march. And the Urban League didn’t put out a statement. And in Detroit, no one said a word. While the Democratic Party is sleeping, focused on winning November’s midterms rather than uniting behind a single 2020 candidate to challenge Trump, the president is wooing black voters with the help of Kim Kardashian, who’s married to the Mad Rapper and has 60 million Twitter followers, many of whom are black.”
“Are There Clues About The 2020 Democratic Primary In 2018’s Contests?” [FiveThirtyEight]. Julia Azari: “The fact that the DCCC — rather than ideology or policy — has become a point of argument in Democratic circles and in stories about the primaries illustrates the legitimacy problems that parties now face. Who the f even knew what the DCCC was in 2006? (Full disclosure/self-promotion: I am writing a book about party weakness right now, which emphasizes very long-term and slow-moving processes, including the erosion of party legitimacy.)”
“Myth and Measurement — The Case of Medical Bankruptcies” (letter) [David U. Himmelstein, Steffie Woolhandler, and Elizabeth Warren [New England Journal of Medicine]. “Although they acknowledge the limitations of their analysis, the authors assert that their results ‘suggest that medical factors play a much smaller role in causing U.S. bankruptcies than has previously been claimed.’ Yet medical bills account for a majority of unpaid debts sent to collection, and many other studies confirm that illness often inflicts financial suffering. Debtors’ self-reports do have limitations. But hospitalization is only part of the story, and understanding medical bankruptcy requires multiple forms of empirical investigation, including asking debtors about their histories. Characterizing debtors’ self-reports as ‘myth’ is demeaning to people struggling with health care costs, and artificially narrowing the definition of medical bankruptcy does not improve understanding of its causes.” More here.
“House Ratings Changes: Democrats Breathe a California-Sized Sigh of Relief” [Charles Cook, Cook Politcal Report]. “Tuesday’s results don’t change our overall outlook of a Democratic gain between 20 and 40 House seats (they need 23 for control). But we are changing our ratings in five districts: three in Democrats’ direction and two towards Republicans.”
“Witnessing the Obama Presidency, from Start to Finish” [The New Yorker]. “More than any modern President, Obama had a keen sense of the limits of American power—and of his own. But , disasters possibly averted, hard realities accommodated. The story of what didn’t happen isn’t an easy one to tell.” No it’s not. For all its technical flaws, The Big Short was a fine narrative about how Obama never took the decision to send the crooks to jail.
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Supreme Court Rules That Ohio May Purge Voters From Registration Rolls” [Governing]. “The Supreme Court made it easier Monday for states to remove occasional voters from the rolls, upholding an Ohio law that drops voters who fail to cast a ballot and do not respond to several notices.” Sounds like legalized caging, to me. But–
“Judge blocks plan to purge Indiana voters before November election” [Indianapolis Star]. “A federal judge in Indianapolis has blocked state election officials’ plans to purge voters before the November election because they may be registered in another state…. “The court’s decision ensures that duly registered voters will not be improperly kicked off the rolls based on flawed Crosscheck data,” Sophia Lakin, attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Voting Rights Project, said in a statement…. The Indiana ruling may have been undercut Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Ohio did not violate federal laws by purging voters who haven’t voted and failed to return residency confirmation notices.”
“Why More White Americans Are Opposing Government Welfare Programs” (interview) [NPR]. “Americans generally tend to think of ‘racism’ as a stable characteristic of individuals, not something that can be prompted or change in response to changing circumstances or social trends. Since we’re highlighting the way that changing perceptions of the social world influence whites’ racial attitudes, we wanted to use a term [“racial resentment”] that emphasized that these attitudes can change over time, which feelings of resentment more clearly communicates.”
“Amid heated SF mayor contest, pressure mounts to repeal ranked-choice voting” [San Francisco Examiner]. Seems like Democrat moderates and consultants have issues with it. Probably worth keeping, then!
“Ranked choice’s role a wild card in primary” [Portland Press Herald]. “The big unknown is how voters’ use of ranked-choice voting could affect the outcomes of the Republican and Democratic primaries for governor. … Ranked-choice voting has already shifted the dynamics in the Democratic race, and created a buzz in the process. … Last week, two of the progressive Democratic competitors – Eves and Sweet – launched a joint video and canvassing effort in hopes of using the ranked-choice system to rise above the perceived front-runners, Janet Mills and Adam Cote.”
No official statistics from Econoday today.
Housing: “Tax Reform: Do Loan Application Data Show A Change In Demand?” [Econintersect]. “In the short run, taxes affect the economy primarily through their impact on demand by changes in disposable income and tax subsidies or penalties. To observe if there have been any effects on housing demand, we used CoreLogic Loan Application data through March 2018 in high-cost areas and compared the recent trend with the average of the prior four years (Figure 3a). We then did a similar comparison in the non-high-cost areas (Figure 3b). We didn’t observe any meaningful change in purchase loan application trends compared to earlier years in both high-cost and non-high-cost areas. Perhaps, it is too early to detect the impact.”
Retail: “Anyone looking for the toughest battleground in e-commerce these days should probably follow the money. The latest funding round for the payment business owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s chief Jack Ma shows enormous investor interest in the financial underpinnings of online transactions” [Wall Street Journal].
Manufacturing: “Rolls-Royce 787 Engine Woes Widen as Fault Found in Variant” [Industry Week]. “Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc’s engine-durability crisis worsened as the company revealed it has detected new issues that will require extra repair shop visits on a further batch of turbines that power Boeing Co.’s 787 airliner…. The engine maker is set to slash 4,000 jobs as part of the plan in a bid to cut costs and increase profits, the Sunday Times reported, without saying where it got the information. The cull could concern middle management and back-office staff.” That should help…
Shipping: “The hottest commodity in the Permian Basin, beyond the shale oil that is changing America’s energy landscape, may be truck drivers. Demand for drivers for the U.S. oil patch is soaring as pipelines fill up and companies pay heavily to get their goods to market” [Wall Street Journal]. “The surging transportation needs in the Permian come as the trucking industry nationwide is struggling to hire and retain drivers, and may be drawing some drivers away from conventional truckload services. One company says it has raised driver pay twice in the last three months, and equipment costs are also jumping. That’s undermining economic calculations for the crude, and some energy companies say the transport costs are starting to affect their production decisions.”
Shipping: “Murphy’s law of freight” [Splash 247]. “In shipping, digital schedule and excel charts matter, but other things matter more. Information is the very base of the process – it is what you begin with. And at this point, we appreciate all the helpful tools that tech-savvy influencers propose. But the deeper you get to logistics, the more you appreciate your human senses; ability to react spontaneously, experience enriched by many successes, and more importantly failures, your common sense, that helps you to make the right decisions under pressure. But the most important human factor is your relationships. Machines will not be able to possess it any soon, if ever. Because when your own perspective fails and your own knowledge is not enough, there are people around you. People who will support you with their creative ideas, with their various viewpoints, and with their simple preference based on your friendship. This is what logistics is, in the end.” Maybe. I can see an AI-driven support line working successfully to discourage retail customers from actually getting help (“Press H for Hell”, “Press W for Wait”) because what, after all, can one customer do? I’m not sure that scales to a shipping container.
Supply Chain: “Home Depot Sets $1.2 Billion Supply-Chain Overhaul” [Wall Street Journal]. “Home Depot Inc. plans to spend $1.2 billion over the next five years to speed up delivery of goods to homes and job sites as the rise of online shopping resets consumer expectations. The home improvement retailer will add 170 distribution facilities across the U.S. so that it can reach 90% of the U.S. population in one day or less…. Home Depot sales rose 4.2% in the first quarter, lower than analysts had expected. Gardening-supply sales took a hit from unseasonably cool weather in March and April [and May and June!], but the rest of the retailer’s business performed ahead of expectations during the quarter.”
The Bezzle: “Do VCs really add value? — Founders say sometimes.” [Hackernoon]. “One of the starkest contrasts [in our survey] is the way each group scored how impactful and helpful the VC has been for portfolio companies on a scale of one to ten. On a scale of 1 to 10, the average VC scored themselves a 7 while founders perceived them as a 5.3 — a 32% difference… In closing, VCs and portfolio founders generally have the same ambitions — to build an amazing company. Personal chemistry between the founder and VC matters the most, and the tangible value-add VCs think they provide is discounted by founders.” Amazing…
Five Horsemen: “In late morning trade, the Fab Five are mixed in a flat market” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].
NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index remained unchanged at 67 (complacency) after Friday’s mild market gain.” [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.)
Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on drought. “Drought conditions have declined with spring rains” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 180.
“Would a Single-Payer System Require Painful Sacrifices From Doctors?” [New York Times]. “Single-payer health care systems deliver better outcomes at much lower cost than those that rely primarily on private insurance, as we do in the United States…. In sum, although the switch to a single-payer system would entail lower payments to service providers like doctors, it would also affect their frames of reference and conditions of employment in offsetting ways. International happiness studies offer no reason to conclude that, once it has been fully implemented and absorbed, the switch would require truly significant sacrifices by most American health care providers.” Putting it less politely than the author does: “Doctors for whom greed outweighs the Hippocratic Oath would suffer.” Lambert: As they should, and as their
prey has patients have.
“Five Lessons from the History of Public Sector Unions” [Labor Notes]. “As public sector unions contemplate losing key rights under the law, it’s worth remembering that for much of their history, such unions organized with no rights at all. It wasn’t till 1958 that New York became the first city to authorize collective bargaining for city employees. Wisconsin did the same for state employees in 1959, and federal workers got bargaining rights in 1962. Yet as early as 1940, a book titled One Thousand Strikes of Government Employees described strikes dating back to the 1830s, when workers at U.S. Navy shipyards stopped work multiple times to press demands for better wages and conditions.”
“Don’t Let Them Eat Cake” [Boston Review]. “Is there a meaningful distinction between Jack Phillips, ‘an expert baker and devout Christian,’ as Justice Anthony M. Kennedy described him, and the company he owns, Masterpiece Cakeshop, a limited-liability company? The Supreme Court’s 7–2 ruling in Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission suggests not. … [I]n terms of the relationship between capital and labor, the decision was anything but narrow. The Court’s majority opinion, written by Kennedy, is remarkable for its uncanny and unproblematic conflation of Phillips, the baker, and his business, the bakery. By insisting that the key issues in the case are Phillips’s artistic expression and his religious liberty, the Court was silent on the question of how a company can possess these rights. It did so by assuming not only that corporations are people, but that the cakes made by Masterpiece Cakeshop are produced by Phillips alone, when in fact we know that the bakery has other workers.”
“UPS should risk short-term Teamsters strike to gain flexibility, analyst says” [DC Velocity]. “[Investment firm] Wolfe Research LLC, which has followed the transportation sector for years, said it’s unlikely the Teamsters will strike UPS. However, it added that the Atlanta-based company should not only prepare for it but perhaps embrace it as a means to an end. The Teamsters and UPS are negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement to replace the current five-year pact that expires July 31. Scott H. Group, Wolfe’s lead transport analyst, said in a note that ‘this is a really important labor contract for UPS to get right if it wants to start leveraging strong e-commerce growth.’ Group said that UPS ‘needs significantly more labor flexibility’ in the upcoming contract, and that taking a strike should be considered if it leads to ‘long-term labor flexibility and thus better operating leverage for shareholders.'”
“What It’s Like to Be Part of Bird’s Scooter-Charging Workforce In Atlanta” [MogulDom]. “One might think that to maintain a city-wide flock of Birds, the company must employ a full team in each city it launches in. But, in the age of gig jobs and on-demand work, they’ve figured out a different solution. The company employs a contract workforce, officially called “chargers” but also informally known as Bird ‘hunters,’ that seek out the scooters at night, capture them, bring them home to charge them and then drop them back off the next day. Bird pays $5-$20 per scooter…. Shahid has not experienced safety concerns as a charger, but he has had issues attempting to track down scooters that appeared on the app, but weren’t present when he showed up in real life. He suspects many are sitting in private apartments or yards. ‘This is the kind of messed up thing about it that really angers me — sometimes when I go to get one, probably like 25 percent of them are either in someone’s apartment or they’re just not there,’ he says. ‘I’m pretty sure they’re using the chargers to just verify that, yes, it’s not there.'”
“US Intergenerational Mobility: An International Perspective” [The Conversable Economist]. “[I]t seems plausible that in the US, higher education is acting in part as a way of passing economic success between generations. As a result, the US is not making full use of the talents of many of its citizens.”
News of The Wired
“This Thing For Which We Have No Name” (interview) [Edge] Rory Sutherland: “Math may be an obstacle to good thinking because it’s actually constraining. We have a perfectly good thing called words and grammar, which can describe very complex concepts. Regret, for example—maybe you can’t mathematically express it very easily but it patently affects human behavior. The fear of regret is clearly fairly influential in affecting how people behave. I would argue that from my advertising perspective, one of the reasons people pay a premium for brands isn’t because they’re objectively better, it’s because they’re less likely to be terrible.”
“Suffering, not just happiness, weighs in the utilitarian calculus” [Aeon]. “The utilitarian take on the problem of evil is half-right. Suffering ultimately outstrips our goals and beliefs. To claim otherwise is heartless. But it’s wrong to think that the problem of evil brushes aside God or the goodness of nature. When we refuse to accept a fundamental dimension of suffering, we suffer worse. There’s an immense mystery at the heart of being human: the paradox of opposing and accepting suffering. To abandon either side of the paradox is the real problem of evil.”
And now for the happy news:
Last year’s cat, Franklin, has re-appeared. In the winter, Franklin lives across the street, but takes up residence for the summer under the church porch behind my desk. Franklin is certainly fed already by one household, and what’s wrong with that?
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 (Carla):
It’s a Viburnum!
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Thanks for the hopeful teaser! Something to live for for the next few hours!
somebody needs to explain to Mayor Bowser that we can’t run the city without minimum wage earners
Rent strikes grow in popularity among tenants as gentrification drives up rents in cities like D.C.
It was wonderful of Bernie to meet with Disney workers and call attention to the greed of yuge corporations who could easily pay their workers a living wage but keep them in misery. It wasn’t till later that it dawned on the that it really showed up Kamala Harris who represents California and whose job it is to advocate for those workers.
Kamela Harris? Advocate for the proles?
Surely you jest!
Sanders and $15/hr (or more) minimum.
If someone is pay $7.25/hr now, and if the min. is raised to $15/hr, that would help a lot for the person (plus multiplier effect).
Here, we have a person doing the same job, but is getting $7.75/hr more (thanks to the long overdue raise in the min. wage).
Now, if a person is getting paid $0/hr, doing housework, and we say that with universal basic income, he or she will now get $7.75/hr for doing the same housework, would people who worried about the UBI being inflationary still think the same?
In both cases, no more work is doing, but people will be getting $7.75/hr more.
I haven’t seen too much about the recent change to the DNC Rules that will lock Sen. Sanders out of the nominating contest in 2020. If you can’t beat them, stop them from running in the first place
I’m not sure that’s correct. I think if the Vermont Democrats bless Sanders, he’s OK. Readers? Especially Vermont readers?
Does his vp have to run as a democrat? ;)
Aren’t we forgetting what was said as part of the defense case when the Dems were sued for not running the primary fairly and according to their own rules? You know, that as a private society they were not required to be fair and in fact could just decide who gets the nomination in a closed door meeting of a few powerful people regardless of what the voters do? If they were willing to do what they did to keep Sanders out (or even offer him the VP spot or for that matter treat the Sanders supporters with more respect and consideration than that usually given to malignant tumors) the first time when he took them by surprise, what makes you think they won’t go to any lengths to put him down the next time? I don’t think the left wing members of the party have yet managed to change things enough to wrest control from the “centrists.” I am however impressed with just how much they’ve accomplished so far.
Here’s some history about cooperatives, unions, and such in California to fill the gap:
I found this an interesting tidbit about self-help co-ops during the Depression:
interesting, fits in with the idea that fdr was saving the system but only to the end of maintaining the basic structure. lots of good ideas, here. we need to start developing these networks even as the system, collapsing slowly (i hope) resists. interesting times.
Thank you for sharing this. This is the kind of insightful reference I scan the comments at NC for.
Agree with pretzelattack about FDR – it appears he knew exactly what he was doing.
OK I wasn’t going to say this but since I’m sitting here with nothing much to read I might as well share. The Chozick-Obama anecdote was a total yawner.
Other than a little volunteer work for Bernie, the only presidential campaign I ever worked on was Kennedy in ’80 in Iowa. Everyone came. The Iowa Caucuses were sh*t hot and walking through Kennedy HQ in Des Moines had you rubbing elbows with old family friends, McGovernites, activists of all stripes and, of course, Kennedys.
Jokes like Obama joking about an FBI investigation of Chozick’s fiance would have been considered very PG. I was still working the graveyard shift at what was then the largest tire factory in the world where I had a 12-letter obscene nickname. By my standards chatter around national level campaign folks was filthy. One guy, John Sasso, became legendary for his off-color language. Same Sasso as got bounced from Dukakis’ campaign for feeding the media the Biden plagiarism video.
If you believe Jimmy Carter was our first neoliberal POTUS, I think it’s easy to argue that Kennedy was the ‘good’ candidate in 1980. I was there for part of it and the part I heard firsthand was X-rated and not just by today’s standards. But behind closed doors, I’m sure the language is still X-rated. At that level, words like ‘darn’ and ‘heck’ just don’t cover it. From the ‘good’ guys. [To be fair, I heard all the same words from local Carter people who were p*ssed at me for working for Ted.]
Sorry, Lambert, but Obama’s ‘joke’ was pretty inoffensive and any reporter who made a big deal out of it would have been mocked out of the press corps. And maybe a lot of this is B.S.: upper class swells using gutter language while rubbing elbows with labor types like me. But ‘bad’ language has been a constant on campaigns I’ve been around, and the jokes are the worst (usually told as something the Republicans are telling each other).
I’d share but I think some of you might be amazed at how truly offensive they were. Intelligent people swear. A lot. Or at least they used to and no, I heard very little swearing hanging out with Bernie folks so this is probably just a geezer story and everyone is much nicer now.
i dont believe ted was the good candidate, too many rape stories out of the kennedy compound, too much of a right wing history in the kennedy family. i think robert was the only good one, don’t know for sure if his conversion was real, but we never got the chance to find out. people who challenge the class structure have bad things happen to them, like mlk.
If Truman Capote was to be believed in Answered Prayers the senior Kennedy was a veritable Weinstein. And Jack and Robert reputedly shared Marilyn. Given the cloud of hagiography and the Kennedy worship among Catholics we may never know the full truth of what they were about. The negative accounts could be exaggerated as well.
JFK was the neoliberal prototype for today’s crew:
“Best and the brightest….”
Tax cuts after the Eisenhower years while increasing military spending…
Off-the-cuff….comes to mind
I think the mind-set that equates gutter language with putting the intelligence community at the service of a private individual is interesting. It’s also odd that Chozick would even write up what you regard as a non-story. Sorry you were bored!
I was probably too anecdotal. My point was that the humor gets pretty rough. It’s a very weird world they live in. Obama’s joke is more like barracks humor than a threat to casually abuse power (which he did in many ways).
What always fascinated me was how artificial public politics are. The language is scripted and sanitized, bad jokes (mostly) aren’t made, behavior is cleaned up. And the media only shows us that side. Even though they see some of what goes on behind closed doors: the fanny pinching, boozing, adultery, drugs, etc. Which they never mention except after the fact and then usually only if someone’s been disgraced or is safely dead.
I used to think the end justified the means, but somehow however mean we were, the promised end was never delivered. Yes, swearing’s the least of it, but it speaks to the two worlds our leaders live in: the one they work in, and the one they pretend to work in.
Chozick gave you a glimpse behind the curtain. I’m just surprised you were surprised.
I don’t agree that JC was or is a neo-liberal, but neither was he a New Deal type dem like Kennedy (and yes, there once were quite a few more of them!). I think he came more from the wave of 70’s dem candidates concerned with party reform and open government, in response to the 68′ convention, and to Nixon.
Not a New Dealer, but a man who did represent a genuine populist groundswell, Carter was the last candidate the Dems nominated before superdelegates. He and McGovern were also the first two candidates nominated after the reign of local party bosses. In other words, voters in primaries would actually decide who the delegates would vote for. In many areas of the country, this had never happened before.
So I always have a very soft spot for Jimmy, as he is arguably the most democratically chosen president we’ve ever had.
I was aware that the destruction of the economy started in the Carter years, but I hadn’t thought of him as the first neoliberal president. A good summary of how things (started going) went South is https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/21/the-missing-link-to-the-democratic-partys-pivot-to-wall-street/
Some excellent grooves here.
Indonesian gamelan medley from Java, Sunda and Bali
Me’Shell Ndegéocello – The Way
The PB UnderGround – Stand Up
Senor Soul – Don’t Lay Your Funky Trip On Me
This group became War.
And here’s Deejay Slim, live from Tucson in the AZ, with your Monday afternoon motivator! Let’s get this thing going with Jocelyn Brown …
Insiders Pocket Gains on Buybacks, Vexing Regulator [WSJ]
Surely we can crowdfund a paper from Mercatus or Hoover proving simultaneously that
1. This doesn’t happen.
2. Even if it did, it would be good for shareholders.
3. Even if it were bad for shareholders, it would be good for society.
Selling personally-held shares into your own company’s bid from the accountant down the hall, with whom you can chat face-to-face and leave no paper trail: that’s so diabolical I’m ashamed not to have thought of it myself.
Shares buybacks increase leverage. On the right-hand side of the balance sheet, liabilities stay the same, but the equity cushion shrinks. This is less than ideal [/understatement] for riding out a recession.
One fears that our stately Boomer cruise ship may break up on the shoals if a storm hits, with the tribute band playing Stairway to Heaven as we discover that the pneumatic lifeboats won’t inflate.
Wolf Richter has a – not paywalled, unlike WSJ – piece on this today. Interesting to have a Trump SEC appointee finally state the obvious about this form of legalized stock market manipulation, after 8 years of silence under Obama.
“…aren’t trading illegally.”
It’s like some Fortune 500 corporations that don’t pay living wages and their employees have to rely on welfare.
“Not illegal,” only unacceptable.
The same with the Amazon shipping with the USPS. It’s not costing the USPS, but it’s unacceptable that this shipping model, along with its Chinese manufacturing suppliers and their working conditions, is putting many stores out of business.
Jon Stewart asks Dems to beat Trump….in an election….with ideas…
A sign the tide is turning on this story?
Don’t give a $#%& about Russia? Well, I sure do! Because I’m learning how to conjugate Russian verbs and it is going well, if I may say so myself!
Spasibo, Democrats. You inspired this slender Arizonan.
Well, I don’t blame you. The Dems seem to be very much like the Rus. Both speak to ‘inferiors’ in a Command Tense.
He’s right of course but the Dems wouldn’t be going on about Russia if they had better arguments they were willing to deploy. They would rather lose than turn left.
So in the Stewart/Trump feud, or mock feud, Trump may have had the last laugh–being president and all. At least he was willing to pretend to be a populist.
I see one problem. Stewart is actually a bright and introspective guy. These aren’t attributes of the Team Blue elites at all levels. He isn’t perfect, but Stewart would be an outlier Democrat if he held elected office. Stewart’s views on Trump in 2016 made headlines, but at the same time, he described the Clinton campaign. It was pretty damning. #Resistance types will just label Stewart as another Sarandon trying to bring women down!
> He isn’t perfect, but Stewart would be an outlier Democrat if he held elected office.
I doubt it. Stewart’s shtick on TDS boiled down to whining “Why can’t we all just get along?” while playing clips from Fox News and CNN. He was popular when his show was one of the few outlets on corporate media willing to call out the Bush admin. Remember the rally he did with Colbert? The Rally to Restore Sanity And/Or Fear? He seemed to believe that getting everyone to agree on a course of action while talking with their indoor voices was equivalent to pushing legislation through Congress.
Progressive positions like infrastructure spending and single payer already have majority support. The reason they don’t happen is because the owners don’t want them to happen. That’s something Stewart never seemed willing to admit, maybe because he lived in NYC among the glitterati and his brother is a well-connected Wall Street banker. Stewart and his comedy are the carefully packaged “safe” brand of liberalism that feels comfortable mocking protesters in Zuccotti Park while pretending the only problem with the country is George W. Bush and Rupert Murdoch. He strikes me as Franken level at best.
In the plus side, Colbert was a gateway for my mother, a lifelong Republican, to realize what her party had become and turn toward the left. This past election she was a Sanders supporter and currently finds both parties to be run by deplorables.
While Stewart and Colbert were/are very “middle” they were an important voice for left-leaning ideas that were all but buried in the media for so long. I feel that is an essential service. We need voices that can reach that moderate middle and change minds (Stewart & Colbert) as well as those who can inspire action once those minds have been primed (Lee Camp, Jimmy Dore).
I tried that with my own little indie film: made an anti-war film that pro-war people would watch. It’s a small film so it’s reach isn’t comparable to any of those I listed above but in its own small way it worked. I still get emails and online comments from viewers who say it made them look at our wars differently. If I’d made an openly anti war film few, if any, of those people would have ever watched it.
Thank you for your service.
I’m glad you distinguish between “moderate middle” and “centrist.” “Centrists,” or Moderate Republicans, seem to have control of the Democratic Party now.
Righteous. And not untrue.
But he was funny most of the time and his pretensions of being the wise man mostly kept under wraps. That said, once George W. Bush had left–surely someone who should be mocked–I found the show a lot less appealing. It was clear that there were certain sacred cows that were never to be touched.
Looking to comedians for political leadership didn’t work so well under Bush, sadly, or Obama. Although Stewart and Colbert got a good deal of favorable coverage at the time.
You have to go back to Pat Paulsen to get that: Pat Paulsen To America : Shut Up And Get Off Your Butt !
Probably a gateway to my following politics.
Well, leadership may be to much to expect, but traditionally the only person at court permitted to tell the truth was the jester. BTW, did you ever wonder how Yorick died?
Given the NC interest in Brexit, I am going just drop this here:
Interesting, although I’m not sure much of the media would want to make themselves look bad by doing a 180 degree turn. I think we are still in the stage where everyone is composing their alibi. But I have been wondering what the backlash will be from those very large sections of the business establishment who will suffer from Brexit, especially those who held back from going for the exits thinking there was some sort of plan, and are now realising there wasn’t, and its too late to change course.
It also raises the interesting question about whether there genuinely was Russian interference, or whether this is all a backwash from the Trump hysteria. There are all sorts of odd links between the shadier side of the UK money establishment and various Russian billionaires, I doubt we know 1% of what really goes on.
Well there is your answer right there. After everything falls over May and her team will blame Russia for it all. The Salisbury incident was just setting the stage to public perceptions.
Wondering if I had missed a discussion of the Yanis Varoufakis book ” Adults in the Room”. Did a search and it came up empty.
Guardian review of Adults in the Room.
And this in Salon which I was sure I saw on NC but could not find again Is the global economy just a giant debt scam? What the financial elite doesn’t want you to know
Thank you Molly. I have read the Salon article and will check out the other. Thought it might have been a topic of. Discussion here also.
I reserved a copy at our local library. The system has two copies. There are a dozen reservations ahead of me. I don’t expect see it for a month or two.
The burgeoning debt and the impossibility of paying it off when the western laboring class is in a depression is within corporate media’s cone of silence. Along with the fact that the technocrats know this. It means there is no solution other than writing off the debt or an apocalypse to restart civilization; if there are any survivors.
To me this explains the Quebec G-7 meeting. Oligarchs are fighting over who will come out on top; nationalists or globalists. The only oligarch at the meeting, the President of the USA, attacked Canada’s globalist poodle PM. Couldn’t help himself. Tribal myths are more powerful than the unpalatable truth.
At least, the growing inequality can still be discussed here.
>. . . Tribal myths are more powerful than the unpalatable truth
Trudeau had it coming. He is taller, prettier and better dressed, and it’s totally his fault. How dare he dim Trump’s spotlight by even one candela.
Don’t know, but I ordered a (lightly used) copy the other day. Looking forward to it.
That’s the reason I have to use Amazon — the used books. I used to be surprised to find people selling books I seriously wanted for $0.01, plus $3.99 shipping. When I was a kid a paperback book was 25¢ (later 35¢ for a small one, 50¢ for one over 500 pages).Hardcover from Modern Library were 99¢ and $1.99. I can’t stand paying $25 for a book I’m going to read at most once. I am horrified that textbooks now cost $300.
Trump administration moves to block victims of gang violence, domestic abuse from claiming asylum
Welcome back, Franklin!
Franklin would thank you, if he weren’t so busy head-butting me and getting hair all over my keyboard.
I Tawt I Taw a Puddy Tat!
Franklin is a handsome fellow!
Sessions and Co close the door to asylum seekers because of domestic violence:
This is going to lead directly to untold deaths of many, many women, men and transpeople who must escape their countries. Directly.
Re the Obama era and failure to prosecute, this is a great Matt Stoller article about the way the ABA/Ivy League culture has made justice much more a plaything of the elite. White collar criminals skate not only because of the clubby atmosphere among corporate lawyers but also because the prosecutors are afraid losing cases will make them look bad.
It happens every business cycle:
Developers have no off switch. They just keep building until the bottom falls out, and for a couple of years afterward. Often the project financing is non-recourse, so they forfeit potential profits on failed projects, but avoid losses by just mailing the keys to the bank.
When the original World Trade Center complex came online in the 1970s, it exacerbated a vast glut of office space in downtown New York which took years to be absorbed.
Is it deja vu all over again? Stay tuned for the great log flume ride of the 2020s … but buckle your seat belts and keep hands and arms safely inside the log.
The good old Skyscraper Index at work, always the sign of the top of the market.
However, the article itself is dubious about your claim (“always the sign of the top”).
In my town they’re building all over low-lying landfill at the edge of SF bay. A couple of feet of sea level rise or the next inevitable shudder of one of our several major earthquake faults and these not particularly well-made homes will be sinking in quicksand.
Pricey homes built just 25 years ago on a portion of our island’s vast landfill additions are already sinking. A homeowner there told me recently that they had to spend $40K sinking concrete pillars beneath their house to stop it from descending into the mire. Great school district though! They should probably name their school team the Mud Puppies.
I can’t believe that USA Today was dumb enough to imagine that Trump’s token gestures will have any effect upon the African American vote. I do not pretend to have any special insight into my African American neighbors (my neighborhood is 97% African American), but this is so clear only the willfully dumb could miss it. Trump is hated, truly hated, even more than Bush43 was, and Bush was hated. I mean hated. The Republican brand is radioactive in the African American community. You cannot run a voter suppression operation and fool African Americans that you care about their issues.
The only question is that will organizations like Let America Vote (because Democrats will not make that a core party function) be able to push back against voter suppression. If they are successful the Republicans are toast.
lambert’s only excuse for running that item is that he lives in Maine and does not have the day to day experience of African Americans complete and total contempt for Trump and all of his works.
Otherwise known as “Busted Flats?”
How many of them vote their contempt?
See the Detroit examples in the article (Kanye; Kardashian, both of whom seem to be doing quite well for themselves). I don’t imagine the Republicans think they can peel off many, but they might peel off a few (or get more to stay home) and every little bit helps. And you can’t blame them for trying.
Trump tweeted about today’s SCOTUS voter purge decision – a big win, and “Great News.”
Not such a convincing “wooing” approach.
Regarding the George Packer article from the New Yorker on the Obama Presidency, this paragraph struck me:
“At the heart of Obama’s narrative was a belief that progress, in the larger scheme of things, was inevitable, and this belief underscored his position on every issue from marriage equality to climate change. His idea of progress was neither the rigid millennial faith of Woodrow Wilson nor Bush’s shallow God-blessed optimism. It was human-scale and incremental. Temperamentally the opposite of zealous, he always acknowledged our human imperfection—his Nobel Peace Prize lecture was a Niebuhrian meditation on the tragic necessity of force in affairs of state. But, whatever the setbacks of the moment, he had faith that the future belonged to his expansive vision and not to the narrow, backward-pointing lens of his opponents.”
This is the problem when you believe that “progress” (whatever that is) in inevitable. You decide to do nothing at all in the belief that things will just “happen”.
“This is the problem when you believe that “progress” (whatever that is) in inevitable. You decide to do nothing at all in the belief that things will just “happen”.
Indeed. What claptrap! where’s the agency? where’s the leadership?
Obama is just smarm personified.
I don’t know how anyone who has read any history can feel that progress “just happens”. History is cyclical at best and the progress is mired in long periods of tragically oppressive times. Just looking at the history of women’s rights in ancient Egypt, Rome, and here/now there are brief rises and long falls.
Unless people like Obama are confusing technological progress with human progress. Otherwise, it’s clear we’re in an upswing of human progress but it’s fragile and debatable whether it’s still rising or already peaked and is on a downswing.
Tesla stock rallies after Elon Musk promises ‘full-self-driving features,’ rocket-powered Roadster | CNBC
The stupid, it burns!
What the heck does “full self-driving features” even mean?
Ah, I think that I can answer that one-
I know you weren’t expecting an answer, but perhaps it’s whatever you want it to be, and not anything that they actually have?
From the early days of Microsoft we get the term, “vaporware.” Announce a wonderful new product so the market will not buy your competitor’s product but wait for yours to come online. It never actually does, but it’s a great marketing tactic. I’m always amazed at how successful it is.
Rocket-powered roadster? Don’t get behind one.
And if the rocket-exhaust hot-gas blasts set fires all over the drought-stricken West, will Tesla be the people who get sued?
USA today op ed on Trump pardons stealing the black firewall. If a couple of (long overdue) pardons, and some babbling about Ali will actually suffice to make the (portrayed as unbelievably shallow and naive) African American population love the Donald and forget all the wonderful things team donkey does for them, that would speak volumes. But no actual polling to reflect this surge of Trump love.
Note that the solution is seen having the donkies “unite behind a single candidate” NOW, and somehow dispense with all that inconvenient folderol of having the electorate involved in that process. How? And does the author seriously think that an effort to do this would have a positive impact among any group? Please.
> no actual polling to reflect this surge of Trump love.
No, of course not, it’s a stunt. It’s also a stunt it’s hard to imagine any other Republican performing. McConnnell? Ryan? Cruz? Rubio?
It also occurs to me that it gives Republicans a (crude and simplistic to be sure) response to charges of racism in the primaries. (“No, look, we pardoned ______.”)
I noticed that “must unify NOW behind a candidate for 2020” item as well. That would be the Fake Democrat Party’s way of saying that no Real Democrat should even be allowed to get any exposure in any primaries. The Inner-Party Fake Democrat leaders would like to pre-nominate another “black” Obama 2.0 type figure if possible. Preferably female, for the Goldman Sachs feminist vote. Meaning that Warren would not be permitted, because of her efforts to mix sharp sand into the runway foam.
You keep saying “fake Democrat”. They are all fakes – even if you like some of them. Heck, Bernie supremely fake among them in his own way when he registers or runs as one. There is nothing binding anyone of them to a platform or policy. There is no membership. Certainly no representation, except of, by, and for the rich donors.
At best, The FD term avoids substance. All Democrats thank you for that.
I see we still have sporadic protests that Obama’s comments are only jokes; well, he was constitutionally incapable of honesty–pretty much everything the clown said was a joke, but that’s besides the point.
“Joke” or not, it is another pebble tossed in the growing shitpile of O’bummers “legacy.” Another small example of the puerile, cowardly, pompous, elitist, narcissistic arrogance of a striving courtier posing as president.
The signature of his creepy humor is personal use of presidential power for petty reasons and contempt for democracy, the constitution and the deplorable mob.
Why anyone thinks his barf-worthy “jokes” about drone-bombing, being good at killing, “little single-payers,” etc, etc is normal beats me.
Heroes like Chelsea Manning risk their lives exposing murderers.
Zeros like Obama get erections from authorizing drone pilots sitting in Kansas to murder people in the Middle East. And little tingles reminding sycophants how powerful and important he is.
Oh, and I’m pretty sure, like Hoover and Johnson and Nixon before, he would and did when he felt like it. Please.
I was prepared to hate-read the interview with Rory Sutherland after being annoyed by the pull quote. (Thought it would be an anti-math know-nothing marketer, grumble, grumble…) and ended up liking it (despite the Cass Sunstein references). Interesting discussion of the unknown swirl of practice and theory in the gulf connecting social science academics and commercial marketers.
If we do elect Bernie in 2020 The Powers That Be will NOT take it lying down
I’ll be writing him in!
It has been expected, all along, that the second time will be much harder.
“You opponent may be evil, but don’t under-estimate and think that they are stupid.” – from the missing chapter of the Art of War, or maybe I am just imagining it.
Great link. Very interesting. Thanks!
Of other note, today is historical.
The Trumpet Master is currently meeting with Kim of N. Korea.
Net Neutrality ended. Now we are supposed to see ‘higher internet speeds at lower costs’. Yeah, right. Ha, ha.
For those living in govt subsidized housing, the rent will be increasing so, essentially, the govt will be taking back the COLA recently given to those on SS living in that housing.
I remember when ATM’s were first introduced we were told they would make banking faster and cheaper. That was a good joke too.
Bernie Sanders could be made president today and little would change. Team D (and the Deep State) would make sure of it.
It would be the return of Jimmy Carter.
Something for Franklin:
That’s very kind:
Good that article called “Murphy’s law of freight”. I’d like to see them try to replace these people with a Silicon Valley algorithm. The fireworks would be spectacular. Can you successfully reboot a transport hub? Or pause logistics while you do a system software upgrade?
What the Heck? I guess if you ignore the chains, beatings, whippings, attack dogs, guns, and slave patrols, one had a choice of not being a slave if death was considered an option.
Kanye probably thought Django Unchained was a documentary.
Well, Dennis Rodman just wept live on CNN in one of the most bizarre interviews I’ve ever seen.
Can’t say the times we live in aren’t interesting…