2:00PM Water Cooler 6/12/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“[O]ther top officials in the Trump administration are taking steps to move past a raucous weekend and show [Candada, the] United States’ closest ally that business as usual is continuing between the two nations” [Politico]. “Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue on Friday heads to Canada, where he will meet with his counterpart, Lawrence MacAulay, and sit for a meeting and photo-op designed to showcase the strength of ongoing cooperation between the two countries on agriculture. The trip, which was announced Monday, has been in the planning stages for weeks, a USDA spokesperson noted. But the warm overtures between the two ag leaders stand in stark contrast to the rhetoric from the White House over the weekend. On trade, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland on Sunday discussed the ongoing NAFTA renegotiation in a phone call that her office characterized as ‘productive and cordial.'”

“The Canada outburst by Trump will make it harder for a final NAFTA deal to be struck, said Eric Miller, president of Rideau Potomac Strategy Group. And with the threat of tariffs on automobiles now hanging in the air, neither Canada nor Mexico are likely to be willing to make any compromises in the talks, he added” [Politico]. “‘We’re probably looking at a 75 percent chance that the NAFTA talks fall apart. I don’t know how much can be done in the short term to move this process forward,’ he said. Trump’s desire to hit auto imports with tariffs may be seen by Trump as a way to ‘make Canada and Mexico scream uncle,’ Miller said. But with Trudeau up for reelection by October 2019 and Mexican presidential front-runner Andrés Manuel López Obrador not wanting to begin his term bowing to Trump, the ‘political space is limited,’ he added.” Note that Rideau runs through Ottawa, so… Unmentioned is the sunset clause, which seems like a good idea to me, though five years — presumably the initial negotiating position? — is way too short. We’d be planning for the sunset negotiations while the ink was still wet on the deal!

“Billions in U.S. solar projects shelved after Trump panel tariff” [Reuters]. “President Donald Trump’s tariff on imported solar panels has led U.S. renewable energy companies to cancel or freeze investments of more than $2.5 billion in large installation projects, along with thousands of jobs, the developers told Reuters. That’s more than double the about $1 billion in new spending plans announced by firms building or expanding U.S. solar panel factories to take advantage of the tax on imports. The tariff’s bifurcated impact on the solar industry underscores how protectionist trade measures almost invariably hurt one or more domestic industries for every one they shield from foreign competition.”



“New York’s top ethics enforcement agency slammed as ‘toothless lapdog’ for exonerating ex-Cuomo aide” [NY Daily News]. At least they could put Teachout’s name in the headline….

UPDATE “Democratic donors push Mark Warner to enter 2020 race as moderate alternative to Warren, Sanders” [CNBC]. Normally I’m not a “worse is better” accelerationist, but this is very, very tempting….


“Numbers Show House GOP Still in Deep Trouble” [Cook Political Report]. “Republicans are 10 points behind Democrats on the closely-watched generic congressional ballot, while the president’s numbers—albeit improved — are still really bad and underwater. Democrats have a substantial advantage in intensity going into this midterm election, and respondents said, by a very wide margin, that they prefer voting for a candidate that would provide a check on Trump. In short, people see things as getting better, but Republicans — particularly in the House — are still in deep trouble…. Republicans are 10 points behind Democrats on the closely-watched generic congressional ballot, while the president’s numbers—albeit improved — are still really bad and underwater. Democrats have a substantial advantage in intensity going into this midterm election, and respondents said, by a very wide margin, that they prefer voting for a candidate that would provide a check on Trump. In short, people see things as getting better, but Republicans — particularly in the House — are still in deep trouble.”

UPDATE “Democrats test liberal messages in midterm House elections” [Associated Press]. “It’s not one size fits all, with every candidate checking every box wanted by the activists driving the opposition to President Donald Trump and the GOP Congress, and Democratic voters typically aren’t tapping the most liberal choices in targeted districts. But, taken together, the crop of nominees is trending more liberal than many of the “Blue Dog” Democrats swept away in Republicans’ 2010 midterm romp.” In other words, I’m to say that liberal Democrats don’t have core principles. They do. Messaging-testing. 146 days before an election.

UPDATE “Democrats turn to Hollywood for messaging help” [Politico]. “DNC Chairman Tom Perez, several House members and other top elected officials have already met with the group, formed by members of the entertainment industry in the wake of the 2016 election, that participants liken to a TV writers’ room, complete with producers of such programs as “Veep.” The existence of the group and details of the meetings have not been previously reported. The group has discussed targeted voter-registration programs with visiting Democrats, as well as the party’s framing of issues ranging from abortion rights to gun control…” In other words, voter registration is something you think about 146 days before an election. It’s not a core party function, because for reasons Thomas Frank gives in Listen, Liberal! the Democrat base in the 10% doesn’t want to expand the base. Hence the appeal to suburban Republicans.

UPDATE “California DNC Member Suggests Superdelegate Reform Is Part Of Russian Plot” [HuffPo]. Hoo boy. Hollywood could never come up with messaging like that!

UPDATE “Inside Obama’s secret meetings with 2020 contenders” [Politico]. “Barack Obama has in recent months met with at least nine prospective 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden and Deval Patrick, pulling them in for one-on-one sessions at his Washington office. All the meetings were arranged quietly, without even some close advisers to the people involved being told of the conversations, in part because of how much Obama bristles at his private meetings becoming public knowledge… On the road and over the phone, major donors and other panicked Democrats have been pushing him to take on a bigger public role in the fight against Trump. He has demurred on that — for now — keeping to his plan of waiting until the fall to begin making endorsements and campaign appearances. In private, it’s a different story. He’s urged donors to contribute to the Democratic National Committee. And he’s been eager to bring in many of the people he sees as key players in grappling with the crisis the party is in, as well as leading it to whatever comes next. His staff is building out his plan to start endorsing and hitting the campaign trail in the fall, with an emphasis on down-ballot races.” Blue Dogs take heart….

ME-02: “Democrats Look for a Mainer to Take on Poliquin” [Roll Call]. “For Democrats, winning in Maine is also about proving the party can reconnect with white, working-class voters who swung to President Donald Trump in 2016.” No it isn’t. Nobody is saying that. All white, working class voters are racist. Get with the program! “Democrats held the 2nd District in northern Maine for 20 years before Poliquin flipped the seat when it opened in 2014. Despite heavy spending against him, he won by an even bigger margin in 2016 when Trump picked off an electoral vote from the district. The former state treasurer faced the same candidate in both congressional races: former state Sen. Emily Cain, who’s now the executive director of EMILY’s List in Washington [failing upward]. Although Cain lived and worked in the district, and Democratic ads touted her as “one of us,” she wasn’t born in Maine and didn’t grow up there.” And she was also from Orono, a university town. …. “Democrats recruited state House Assistant Majority Leader Jared Golden, a Marine veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Leeds native, a former committee staffer to GOP Sen. Susan Collins, represents part of Lewiston-Auburn, an old mill town on the Androscoggin River that makes up the major population center of the district… Golden has raised the most money and has the backing of organized labor and local political leaders. He’s one of the young veterans running for office who’s been mentored by Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Seth Moulton. But St. Clair, despite not dipping into his own personal resources, is benefiting from late outside spending that could tip the race in his favor. But no matter who wins the primary, unseating Poliquin is still a tall order. No incumbent has lost the 2nd District since 1916. Golden and St. Clair both ended the pre-primary reporting period with about $100,000 — a drop in the bucket compared to Poliquin’s $2.4 million war chest.” So, we get a choice between a Blue Dog and a guy with a name like “Lucas St. Clair.”

ME-02: “St. Clair’s monument work gives him edge in 2nd District Democratic primary” [Editorial Board, Bangor Daily News]. “The park plan was met with strong opposition; groups formed specifically to oppose it. St. Clair took over the job of working to convince Mainers that a national park was a good idea…. In August 2016, then-President Barack Obama declared more than 87,000 acres that the foundation had donated to the federal government as the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument. In its first year, the monument drew 30,000 visitors to the area near Patten and Millinocket, despite state and federal efforts to diminish the monument. Inns reported big increases in bookings, new businesses have opened and the region’s stagnant real estate market perked up. It was the biggest economic development boost the region had seen after several area mills shut down. St. Clair’s determination to see this project through, and willingness to meet face-to-face with staunch opponents and to hear and react to their concerns, are solid preparation for serving in Congress, where negotiation and compromise are needed more than ever.” So if jobs are your issue, St. Clair has actually created them, unlike Golden (or Cain). Odd.

ME-02: “Democratic primary: The fight for Bruce Poliquin’s seat” [Lewiston Sun-Journal]. “Democrats sense an opportunity to upend a Republican member of Congress in Maine’s sprawling, scrappy 2nd District, the poorest and least diverse east of the Mississippi River. With pockets of unemployment and a raging opioid problem, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s turf is rural, white and less educated than three-quarters of the districts in America — all characteristics of places where the GOP has done well in recent years. It’s the only district in New England that supported Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election…. A noteworthy aspect of their primary is that it will be the first congressional matchup in American history to rely on ranked-choice voting to determine the winner. What that means is that every Democratic voter in the 2nd District will have the option of selecting a first, second and third choice in the race.”

ME-02: “Effort to undermine Bruce Poliquin in Bangor is working, poll claims” [Lewiston Sun-Journal]. “A sustained advertising campaign in the Bangor area that battered Republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin for his votes in favor of the GOP’s tax cut plan and against the Affordable Care Act cut deeply into the two-term lawmaker’s favorability ratings. The case study on the potential impact of highlighting a swing district congressman’s votes took place over a 10-month period that began in August. Clarity Campaign Labs, hired by two groups aligned with Democrats, surveyed the Bangor media market before and after a prolonged, $620,000 campaign to zing Poliquin for his record on health care and taxes. … At the start of the experiment, the pollsters found that Poliquin got a thumbs down from 38 percent of voters in the Bangor media market — which makes up about half the voters in the sprawling 2nd District — while 28 percent approved of him. By the end of the publicity campaign that highlighted his votes on the ACA, sometimes called Obamacare, and his support for a $1.5 trillion tax cut, Poliquin had 25 percent approval and 45 percent disapproval.” Holy moly, $620,000! That’s real money in Maine!

NY-14: “Glenn Greenwald Interviews Democratic Primary Challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York” [The Intercept]. “[Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s] primary challenge against Crowley has sparked substantial excitement within her district and then media attention throughout the country. The 28-year-old educator, organizer for Bernie Sanders, and self-described democratic socialist of Puerto Rican heritage produced a video about her life and the reasons she’s running that went massively viral. Unseating an entrenched congressional incumbent is one of the hardest and rarest feats in U.S. politics — especially an incumbent with the funding and stature of Crowley.”

CO-06: “While Colorado’s 06 (Tilt-R) district is unlikely to flip D in 2018, I thought I’d forward this in case the special interest data is of use in your prognosticating. Good luck, and thanks for doing the heavy lifting with the worksheets” [NC commenter Meeks]. That’s a good link (though I’m not really prognosticating).

Readers, I welcome district reports like this one from NC commenter Meeks. Please send them to me in email — the more linky goodness, especially local linky goodness, the better — with the district (e.g., “CO-06”) first in the subject line so I am unlikely to miss it. From Figure 1, “The Path to 23,” in the latest primary worksheet:

Although I welcome all reports, including reports from states with colorful political traditions, like Pennsylvania, New York, and California, I’d especially welcome reports listed in this graphic, and especially from the districts numbered 18-31 in the figure, because it seem to me that those are the districts where the battle for the House will be one or lost.

Health Care

Savvy move from Pelosi:

Always “fighting for,” never winning… That’s our Democrats! Honestly, I can’t imagine who would think this constantly repeated “fighting for” verbiage is compelling, except perhaps a Democratic consultant looking for a jobs guarantee. Meanwhile, the Republicans are all about 1 Samuel 18:25.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Constitutional Crisis Is Now” [Robert Reich, The American Prospect]. “If [Trump] refuses to accept the results [the 2020] election, as he threatened to do if he lost the 2016 election, he will have to be forcefully removed from office.” This is lunacy. In 2016, liberal Democrats floated the idea that “faithless electors” in the Electoral College should not appoint Trump — based on information from the “intelligence community” that the public was not allowed to see. From that day to this, liberal Democrats haven’t accepted the results of 2016, which is what the “Clinton won the popular vote” amounts to. Is the inability to look in the mirror a 10%-er deformation professionnelle?

“The Democratic Party unraveling is not good for America” [Ed Rogers, WaPo]. “The Democratic Party is not functioning as an umbrella organization or even a coalition. Instead, activists from Tom Steyer to George Soros to Planned Parenthood are operating independently*, doing things a political party otherwise would. These independent actors are pushing pet causes. Traditional party building isn’t one of them. Campaign finance reform and communication technologies have empowered wealthy individuals and collateral groups while at the same time inhibiting parties and individual campaigns. I say this not to kick the Democratic Party while it is down but because I believe in the two-party system…. We need reforms that empower parties and candidates and diminish the influence of deep-pocketed plutocrats and narrowly focused interest groups.” Rogers is a veteran of the Reagan and Bush White Houses, but he’s not wrong. NOTE * Maybe. When you start thinking, it’s hard to know where the boundaries of the Democrat Party really are. For example, are journalists who propagate Brock talking points in the party, or not? My instinct is to say that they are, but how is an institution with fluid boundaries like that to be named and categorized? Or how about an organization like Emily’s List, ostensibly independent, but directing donors only to Democrats? (And Donna Shalala, but not Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Or Cynthia Nixon. Or Zephyr Teachout. Really, Emily’s List? Really?)

UPDATE “One-time Ohio congressional district candidate arrested while streaming incident live on Facebook” [WHIOTV-7]. This is Sam Ronan, who ran for DNC chair and had good things to say about election rigging. The odd thing about this story, and everything I’ve seen on the Twitter, is that he was arrested at his house, and nobody is saying why the cops were there in the first place. Readers?

UPDATE “Maine Supreme Judicial Court rules ranked-choice voting unconstitutional” [Bangor Daily News]. From May, still germane: “In a unanimous, 44-page opinion issued Tuesday, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court’s seven justices agreed with Attorney General Janet Mills, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap and Republican legislators that the system violates a provision of the Maine Constitution that allows elections to be won by pluralities — and not necessarily majorities — of votes.” The political establishment really, really hates RCV.

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, May 2018: “Consumer prices are moving incrementally higher in results for May that hit Econoday’s consensus across all four readings” [Econoday]. “Though the 2.2 percent yearly rate for the core is moderate, it is the highest rate since February last year.” And: “Energy prices and medical care commodities were the main driver for year-over-year inflation. Core inflation is now above 2.0 % year-over-year” [Econintersect]. And: “Overall, these measures are close to the Fed’s 2% target. This was at the consensus forecasthj” [Calculated Risk].

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, May 2018: “The Small Business Optimism Index rose 3 points in May to 107.8, the second highest level in the 45-year history of the survey which easily exceeded the range of analysts’ forecasts and the consensus” [Econoday]. “A result of the qualified labor shortages was higher worker compensation, where reports rose 2 points to a net 35 percent of all firms, a record for the 45 years of the survey…. Record levels of optimism by small business owners on several fronts and the highest inflation pressures in 10 years as owners raise price to offset higher compensation costs bolsters the case for a tighter monetary policy by the Fed.” And but: “Concerns about labor quality are second highest in history” [MarketWatch].

Consumer Expectations: “May 2018 Consumer Expectations: Consumers Slightly Less Optimistic about Household Finances” [Econintersect]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data released the May 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows short- and medium- term inflation expectations remained unchanged…. Households’ expectations about income, earnings and spending growth all declined, along with year-ahead expectations about household financial situations and credit availability.”

Commodities: “Commodities rallying, outperforming equities in 2018” [FreightWaves]. “After years in the doldrums, commodities are finally having their day. When equities markets underwent a correction in January, commodities escaped the worst of the pain, rallying on strong projections for global growth in demand: just because large corporations suddenly seemed overvalued compared to their earnings did not mean that people would stop using oil, copper, wheat, and nickel. Traditional havens like gold have also performed well against equities.”

Retail: “Smartphone sales are slowing and here are two key reasons why” [CNBC]. From February, still germane: “Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner pointed to the lengthening of the replacement cycle as one cause…. Consumers are also increasingly unimpressed with the frequency and diversity of new models. A lack of innovation and incremental benefits are failing to entice new buyers to the market, a better camera and better connection quality is no longer enough for potential purchasers to reach into their pocket.” And the dopamine cycle gets exhausting after awhile…..

Real Estate: “Landlords Are Practically Giving Malls Away” [Bloomberg]. “As they battle the rise of e-commerce, U.S. mall owners are trying to clear their books of fading centers so they can focus on the most-profitable ones. That’s proving difficult, with just a shallow pool of investors who are willing to take on a declining mall and even fewer who would pay what the landlords want. Only about $3 billion of retail real estate changed hands in April, a 27 percent drop from a year earlier. …. Landlords sitting on mediocre malls in hopes of getting a higher price at a later date may be missing their window, according to St. Juste. All indicators point to lower values in the future, he said.” The Bangor Mall is less than mediocre. Too bad we’ve essentially salted the earth with that enormous asphalt parking lot…

Shipping: “Descartes Datamyne sheds new light on U.S. port industry” [Logistics Management]. “[L]ogistics managers are basing many of their sourcing needs on the ever-shifting scenario of pending tariffs and duties…. The new report is designed to give shippers entering contract negotiations a window into where specific commodities are destined, and which ports are providing the best intermodal connections. NVOs and the carriers themselves are seeking the same information on their partners and competitiors. ‘Since ports are often a focus point of micro and macroeconomic changes, fluctuations in volume and commodities are a key indicator of industry developments,’ says [Brendan R. McCahill, Senior Vice President of Trade Data Content at Descartes Datamyne].”

Transportation: “How Drivers and Autonomous Trucks Could Work Together to Move Freight” [Transport Topics]. “Some autonomous truck developers, including Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, envision unmanned longhaul trucks stopping at transfer stations to exchange trailers with conventional trucks piloted by local and regional drivers.” We call it “a train.” But read on—

Transportation: “[T]he number of boxcars in North American operations has declined dramatically over the years, leaving fewer of the cars nearby for the shippers that still use them” [Wall Street Journal]. Railroad management would rather run enormous unit trains of hydrocarbons, grain, or containers. No boxcars needed for that! So maybe the robot trucks will eat their lunch after all!

Supply Chain: “Amazon.com Inc.’s year-old acquisition of Whole Foods is helping reshape food sales and distribution across the U.S. Food retailers, manufacturers and other suppliers are fundamentally changing their selling strategies, … leading grocery chains to accelerate planned investment in online delivery and pickup services” [Wall Street Journal]. “Whole Foods’ main distributor, United Natural Foods Inc., has seen a flood of business while dozens of supermarkets have struck deals with online delivery service Instacart Inc. Big chains including Kroger Co. and Walmart Inc. have slowed store growth to deploy capital toward technology. The enormous data grocery sales generate could lead to still-bigger changes. Don’t be surprised, says one expert, “if the milk and cereal just shows up at your door based on your usual eating habits.” So, the day that my tastes change, do I have to keep the food I don’t want? How is returning perishables going to work, anyhow?

The Fed: “Fed decision expected to drive bond market, overwhelming trade and North Korea” [MarketWatch]. “In a week marked by drama surrounding global trade and geopolitics, bond investors are focusing on the basics. They say the two-day Federal Reserve policy meeting that concludes Wednesday will be the focus for market participants, overshadowing President Donald Trump’s moves escalating tensions with trade partners and allies in the Group of Seven nations and his Tuesday summit meeting with North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.”

Five Horsemen: “Amazon is a fraction below a record high in late morning trade” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 12 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “On yesterday’s mild gain the mania-panic index drifted up to 69 (complacency), as the CBOE put-call ratio fell to a serene 0.74, its lowest level since January” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index June 11 2018


“As Storms Worsen, Many Coastal States Aren’t Prepared” [Governing]. “Eight out of the 18 hurricane-prone coastal states along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Coast are highly vulnerable, according to a new report from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS). The report, Rating the States: 2018, is the institute’s third in six years. It evaluates the states on 47 factors that include whether residential building codes are mandated statewide, whether states and localities enforce those codes, and whether licensing and education are required of building officials, contractors and subcontractors. … Overall, the institute found “a concerning lack of progress” in the adoption and enforcement of updated residential building code systems across most of the states examined. … No state achieved a perfect rating based on the 100-point scale. But Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and New Jersey all received 90 or more points. Meanwhile New York, Maine, New Hampshire, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama and Delaware received less than 70 points. None of these eight states mandate statewide building codes.”

“Solar Has Overtaken Gas and Wind as Biggest Source of New U.S. Power” [Bloomberg]. “Despite tariffs that President Trump imposed on imported panels, the U.S. installed more solar energy than any other source of electricity in the first quarter. Developers installed 2.5 gigawatts of solar in the first quarter, up 13 percent from a year earlier, according to a report Tuesday from the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. That accounted for 55 percent of all new generation, with solar panels beating new wind and natural gas turbines for a second straight quarter.”

“Trees That Have Lived for Millennia Are Suddenly Dying” [The Atlantic]. “Of the 13 oldest known baobabs in the world, four have completely died in the last dozen years, and another five are on the way, having lost their oldest stems. … It’s not just the baobabs, either. Around the world, the creaking deaths of ancient trees are testifying to the period of extraordinary environmental change that we are living through. ‘In Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, I’ve come across whole forests of trees that have died since 2001,’ says [ Erika Wise from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill]. ‘While they are not as old as the baobabs, they are 400 to 500 years old. The die-off has other immediate causes, like insects, but a 500-year-old tree has experienced a lot of insect outbreaks and lived through them. Something is pushing them over the brink this time around.'”

Health Care

UPDATE “Private equity’s thirst for health care providers” [Axios]. “KKR’s $10 billion deal to take Envision Healthcare private, along with Bloomberg’s deep dive on the billing tactics of air ambulances, exemplifies private equity firms’ appetite for buying health care providers that wield a lot of market power. The big picture: These companies are a leading source of surprise medical bills, which infuriate patients but are profitable for private equity owners. Emergency rooms and ambulances aren’t real marketplaces — consumers can’t stop and shop for the best price in the middle of an emergency.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“American toddlers are eating more sugar than the maximum amount recommended for adults” [Quartz]. “Sugar can affect our health at multiple stages in our development. Too much sugar during pregnancy adversely impacts child cognition, while excess sugar intake during adolescence has been associated with weight gain and cardiac risks, which include an increased risk of obesity and elevated blood pressure. Recent studies have also shown that excess sugar depresses the body’s immunity, making kids more vulnerable to diseases and infections.”

Class Warfare

“The Perfect Storm for the Manufacturing Workforce” [Industry Week].

Just as American manufacturing seems to be hitting its stride, the sector now faces the perfect storm when it comes to finding and developing the workforce of the future:

  • Baby boomers are retiring from all sectors at a rate of 10,000 a day in the United States, taking their institutional and technical knowledge with them into retirement.
  • The number of American youth with sufficient STEM education for a shop floor or R&D department is inadequate – and those who do have these skills typically do not entertain manufacturing as a career option, often favoring the tech sector.
  • In recent years, the opioid crisis has reached critical levels, and a new report by the MAPI Foundation shows an ominous geographic overlap between U.S. manufacturing-centric regions and opioid abuse.

So, whaddaya know, the elite deindustrializes the heartland, deaths of despair result, which has macro impact now that the elites want a rethink, after forty years. But they’re the ones in charge!

“Consider the labor market. The U.S. has added so many jobs in the past five years that the unemployment rate has fallen to an 18-year low of 3.8%. And there’s actually more job openings nationwide than the number of unemployed Americans looking for work” [MarketWatch]. “Great news for working Americans, but the tight labor market is forcing companies to increase pay even though employees are not much more productive at work. That’s a recipe for inflation.” So “great news for working Americans” is bad news to the Fed. That’s clarifying….

“Frustrations over rising fuel costs and bigger changes in domestic shipping markets are boiling over in China. Truckers blocked roads with their vehicles in spotty strikes across the country, driven by frustrations over higher fuel costs, falling freight rates and digital apps that are squeezing profits. …[T]he protests are the latest in trucking operations around the world, including Brazil and Iran, that have flared as rising oil prices have pushed up the cost of fuel” [Wall Street Journal]. It would certainly be interesting if international working class solidarity developed along the supply chain, since truckers everywhere seem to have the same problems (as they would!).

News of The Wired

“The [subscription-based circulating libraries], which were found in fashionable watering holes like Jane Austen’s fabled Bath, began as offshoots of bookselling. They became social gathering places that people subscribed to as soon as they got to their vacation destination. They weren’t just for books, either—they held raffles and social events, and the subscription record books were a good place to figure out who was in town. If you lived in a rural area, though, you were probably out of luck. No businessman would set one up in an area that couldn’t sustain it” [JSTOR]. “At the time, industrialization hadn’t yet made printing affordable, so only the richest could afford books. Erickson points out that the average three-volume novel cost the equivalent of $100 at the time, which makes Darcy’s extensive library even sexier. And since anyone with enough money for a subscription could use a circulating library, it became a way for women to gain knowledge without asking a man for permission to use his library or borrow his books.”

“The Story Behind Susan Kare’s Iconic Design Work for Apple” [Milanote]. Really great.

“The Lifespan of a Lie” [Medium]. “The [Stanford Prison Experiment] is often used to teach the lesson that our behavior is profoundly affected by the social roles and situations in which we find ourselves. But its deeper, more disturbing implication is that we all have a wellspring of potential sadism lurking within us, waiting to be tapped by circumstance. It has been invoked to explain the massacre at My Lai during the Vietnam War, the Armenian genocide, and the horrors of the Holocaust. And the ultimate symbol of the agony that man helplessly inflicts on his brother is [Douglas] Korpi’s famous breakdown, set off after only 36 hours by the cruelty of his peers. There’s just one problem: Korpi’s breakdown was a sham. ‘Anybody who is a clinician would know that I was faking,’ he told me last summer, in the first extensive interview he has granted in years. ‘If you listen to the tape, it’s not subtle. I’m not that good at acting. I mean, I think I do a fairly good job, but I’m more hysterical than psychotic.'”

“OpenStreetMap Should Be a Priority for the Open Source Community” [Linux Journal]. “Although undoubtedly difficult, creating high-quality map-based services is a challenge that must be tackled by the Open Source community if it wants to remain relevant in a world dominated by mobile computing. The bad news is that at the moment, millions of people are happily sending crucial geodata to proprietary services like Waze, as well as providing free bug-fixes for Google Maps. Far better if they could be working with equal enthusiasm and enjoyment on open projects, since the resulting datasets would be freely available to all, not turned into corporate property. The good news is that OpenStreetMap provides exactly the right foundation for creating those open map-based services, which is why supporting it must become a priority for the Open Source world.”

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “One of the many beautiful orchids found at Roger’s Gardens, a nursery in Newport Beach, California.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Carolinian

    There are more than a few Android apps that use Open Street Map–Osmand (open street map android) being one of the best. Supposedly Apple Maps had switched to osm sources but perhaps that’s not true.

    Osmand will do offline routing using downloaded vector maps so you are not dependent on a cell connection.

  2. L

    This should probably be included under “Class Warfare” Seattle reverses course on business tax after Amazon pressure.

    Long story short Seattle’s city council proposed a widely popular $500 per employee head tax on big businesses for the sole purpose of combating Seattle’s homelessness crisis. After an outcry from Amazon and construction unions they voted unanimously for a $275 tax on large corporations only. Now after public threats they will repeal it entirely citing “unfair pressure.”

    Clearly any tax is too much for some people. And Amazon was able to have their say in private. The glory of hosting Amazon comes with strings attached.

  3. marym

    Discover is offering its workers a new perk: A free college degree.

    Employees can choose from seven business or computer science-related bachelor’s degrees selected at three universities. Discover will cover the cost of tuition, fees and books and supplies needed to complete the program for however long it takes.

    A little more than half of companies subsidized a college degree for workers in 2017, according to a survey by the Society for Human Resource Management. Many offer up to $5,250 a year because anything more is taxed as income.

    But Discover, which is offering to pay the full cost of the degree, will pay the tax for the worker if their annual award exceeds that amount, [vice president of training and development Jon] Kaplan said.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      ‘When you are not paying, when it’s free, you’re the product.’

      Hopefully, it’s not true here*.

      *How can we tell, so we know when to take a freebie and when not to?

    2. a different chris

      >Many offer up to $5,250 a year because anything more is taxed as income.

      So what if it is “taxed as income”? Seriously, they don’t even try to come up with good excuses anymore.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Sooo….Trump instinctively gets MMT on some level? Just slam the gas pedal!!!

      “In my rare optimistic moments, I imagine an alliance of Bernie Sanders, Jeremy Corbyn and our Democracy in Europe Movement, DiEM25, giving the Nationalist International led by Trump a run for its money. ” — So Euro-centric….why not throw in AMLO, Lula, and Petro from Colombia????

      Interesting observations from Varoufakis, though.

      1. Catman

        I like that phrase, “Trump instinctively gets (insert anything) on some level” – and that’s a big question mark of the Trump presidency for me. Who knows?

        1. False Solace

          Sanders also said this:

          “To the degree that Mr. Trump is serious about pursuing policies that improve the lives of working families in this country, I and other progressives are prepared to work with him,” Sanders said. (source)

          Not that Trump has demonstrated anything of the kind.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            From today’s links:

            Trump’s unlikely allies on North Korea talks — progressive Democrats McClatchy

            That’s one area for progressives. And Sanders has just said it’s ‘a positive step.’ When neoconservatives mount their counter attacks in the coming days, weeks and months, he can’t be ‘keeping his powder dry’ now, in order to be ready for 2020.

            And by the way, he can do better than saying ‘working families.’ That’s twice in like a week.

  4. ultrapope

    That medium post (“The Lifespan of a Lie”) is well worth the read. I am so happy people are beginning to rip apart the Stanford Prison Experiment. The whole thing was a failure scientifically and ethically. I am so sick of hearing the fictional story of Zimbardo and his experimenters researchers who just happened to do some unethical things because they got too wrapped up in their experiment. The experiment was so incredibly confounded by Zimbardo’s incessant need to get the results he wanted and to make them as sensational as he could. Zimbardo didn’t have a momentary lapse of ethical judgement, he just didn’t (and apparently still doesn’t) care.

  5. Reify99

    IMNSHO Trump’s tariff on solar panels is not so much about protecting “domestic” solar panel manufacturers as it is about tapping the brakes on the renewable energy build out in general.
    With enough uncertainty introduced into the equation, talent will look elsewhere, either to build an industry or to find reliable work.

    1. a different chris

      I can argue equally succinctly that talent will then develop here. I won’t, because who the (family blog) knows what will happen. Industrial policy is far from cut-and-dried, which allowed a whole school of economics to arise based solely on avoiding any attempt to deal with it.

      But it seems to have worked for the not-so-far East.

  6. flora

    re: The Constitutional Crisis Is Now” [Robert Reich, The American Prospect].

    Since the Dem DNC has become a wholly owned subsidiary of the Clintons (see Donna Brazile’s book *), I have to assume any statement coming from an estab Dem like Reich has been pre-vetted in substance if not specifics by team Clinton.

    After reading the CalPERS serialized saga of PE investing, reading the following about the Clinton’s essentially buying out the DNC and controlling its use and funds going forward make the Clintons start to look, imo, like general partners in a PE leveraged buyout of the DNC; using their financial position suck out all the financial resources and good will for their own personal benefit, including backstage message creation.

    *with a hat tip to Jeremy Grimm.

    ‘The Intercept. November 4: [https://theintercept.com/2017/11/03/dnc-donna-brazile-hillary-clinton-barack-obama/] — a couple quotes strung together to sketch its content:
    “By August 2015, the DNC was becoming unable to make payroll and approaching the equivalent of bankruptcy, according to a former senior party official, who requested anonymity. …” — “And so the DNC, to save itself, sold everything to the only bidder. The Clinton campaign bailed out the DNC and, in exchange, effectively took it over, according to Donna Brazile, who served as the organization’s acting chairperson from July 2016 to February 2017.” ‘

    1. a different chris

      I thought Reich was the “on the outs” Robert and Rubin was the Clintonian?

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Yes, actually Reich has been cranking out explainer videos at quite a clip showing for example how Trump’s tax plan was a scam and how Medicare For All would work.

        I think he did kinda support Hillary, but he’s definitely on the inequality bandwagon now, though he claims to believe capitalism with the right goals can be made to work for the people.

        There is an excellent documentary of his on Netflix too, well worth watching and surprisingly uplifting. There’s a delightful bit at the end if you watch it all the way through :-)

  7. Jim Haygood

    More from legendary Paul Tudor Jones’s interview with CNBC this morning:

    We’ve got buybacks right now that are kind of, speaking of Arnold Schwarzenegger – they’re like the Terminator, they don’t stop. And we’re retiring equity as a percentage of total market cap and at an unprecedented rate this year.

    Rates have got to go up enough to either shut the economy down and overwhelm — from real money selling like we had in ’07 – those buybacks, or to make it economically less compelling for companies to issue debt and buy back stock. This is real simple.

    Quite so. And when stocks with shrunken equity do enter a downdraft, they will fall farther owing to their high leverage than they otherwise would have done. Equity prices go down in a bear market, but the ball-and-chain of debt stays the same.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Terminator, they don’t stop.

      But they do.

      When though?

      To be or not to be (in equities), that is the question.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Paul Tudor Jones on Republican flake-o-nomics:

        We’ve got 3.8% unemployment and negative real rates. And we have a 5 percent on the way to a 7 percent budget deficit.

        The last time that we had the unemployment rate where it is now was 2000. And we were running a budget surplus at that time of 2.5%. We were talking about [Treasury] bond scarcity [due to budget surpluses].

        We’ve got fiscal policy that literally came from another galaxy and we have monetary laxity. And that brew is what has got the stock market so jacked up.

        Crackpot fiscal stim, comrades: it’s a toxic alien import from a distant malevolent galaxy which has hijacked the brains of formerly responsible Republicans, turning them into soulless, sabotaging replicants in human form.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Some people think that 3.5% unemployment is a crackpot stat, and he’s citing it?

          1. polecat

            That’s because it IS a crackpot stat …
            Jonh Williams ‘Shadow Stats’ is a much better indicator of what the real state of unemployment truly is … and even HE might be missing the mark somewhat !
            The wholly unofficial polecat unemployment index is at 40% ..

  8. Left in Wisconsin

    These 2 rightly categorized as Class Warfare rather than Statistics. Industry Week is usually better than this but the “press” do make it harder and harder to discern what is data from what is Conventional Wisdom. Neither one of these stories offers any evidence of the central thesis. I guess they don’t have to because the Truth is Obvious.
    “The Perfect Storm for the Manufacturing Workforce” [Industry Week].

    Just as American manufacturing seems to be hitting its stride, the sector now faces the perfect storm when it comes to finding and developing the workforce of the future:

    Baby boomers are retiring from all sectors at a rate of 10,000 a day in the United States, taking their institutional and technical knowledge with them into retirement.
    The number of American youth with sufficient STEM education for a shop floor or R&D department is inadequate – and those who do have these skills typically do not entertain manufacturing as a career option, often favoring the tech sector.
    In recent years, the opioid crisis has reached critical levels, and a new report by the MAPI Foundation shows an ominous geographic overlap between U.S. manufacturing-centric regions and opioid abuse.

    “Consider the labor market. The U.S. has added so many jobs in the past five years that the unemployment rate has fallen to an 18-year low of 3.8%. And there’s actually more job openings nationwide than the number of unemployed Americans looking for work” [MarketWatch]. “Great news for working Americans, but the tight labor market is forcing companies to increase pay even though employees are not much more productive at work. That’s a recipe for inflation.”

    1. jrs

      After THIRTY YEARS or more of productivity increases with no real pay increases, wouldn’t there be some slack to you know give a real raise? Doubtful any raises will happen though as there may be more job openings nationwide than unemployed (and how are they defining unemployed here? Dubious figures indeed) but the jobs are not where the people are.

  9. ambrit

    I know from my ‘encounters’ with a Bigg Boxx store that the store dumpsterizes all returned perishables. I made light of the practice to a CSM for WM, who retorted that; “The insurance company won’t let us do anything else.” When I asked point blank about the disposition of the returned food, I was told that the store couldn’t ( the exact word used,) even give it away to pig farmers.

    1. a different chris

      The great thing is that it will wind up in a sealed dump where it won’t even do anything as useful as rot.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        What it will do is “decay” anaerobically, yielding methane gas. Maybe to be pumped up and burned as a conservation gesture. Maybe to seep up and reach the air, therein to disperse.

    2. Randy

      Years ago small pig producers around here got a lot of feed from restaurants and grocery stores. They were mostly dairy farmers who had land and a pen and who could take a little smell. You had to know them or somebody who knew them to get in on the deal. The dairy CAFOs drove them out of farming. The lower supply of local pork was a side effect of that. That’s a shame because a varied diet makes for delicious pork, same with chicken. My local pork source just quit raising them and I can’t find anybody to replace him. After being spoiled on home raised pork for most of my life I am lost. Grocery store meat just does not compare to the local home raised stuff.

      Thankfully I can raise my own chickens. If it wasn’t for that I would have to go look for a Lone Star tick to bite me so I could obtain an allergy to meat.

      1. Stephen V.

        I’ll be interested if your Lone star Crack has wide resonance in the Commentariat. It sure does here in nw AR. I’ve seen the process from patient zero ? 5 years ago ? To now everyone knows someone with this *problem*. Personally I think the Beyond Meat product is a better way to go. (The miracle of pea protein!)

        1. Buckeye

          I am still learning, to quote Michelangelo. Apparently Lone Star ticks have made their way into central Ohio. As if a crap-load of lyme disease wasn’t bad enough. I wonder if there is a Moron tick, that gives you an allergic reaction to the presence of idiots? Might be useful at parties!

  10. Jim Haygood

    Paul Tudor Jones on Republican flake-o-nomics:

    We’ve got 3.8% unemployment and negative real rates. And we have a 5 percent on the way to a 7 percent budget deficit.

    The last time that we had the unemployment rate where it is now was 2000. And we were running a budget surplus at that time of 2.5%. We were talking about [Treasury] bond scarcity [due to budget surpluses].

    We’ve got fiscal policy that literally came from another galaxy and we have monetary laxity. And that brew is what has got the stock market so jacked up.

    Crackpot fiscal stim, comrades: it’s a toxic alien import from a distant malevolent galaxy which has hijacked the brains of formerly responsible Republicans, turning them into soulless, sabotaging replicants in human form.

  11. Scott

    This is a perfect example of our failed anti-trust laws. Short version: Westrock bought three plants and promptly shut two down and sold one for scrap under the condition that it won’t be used for papermaking.


    Much of the harm in the industries has been blamed on China, but perhaps something else was at work. It looks like the Obama Justice Department approved the acquisition, did they even review it for anti-trust or just give a rubber stamp?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Today Trump receives a setback in his anti-trust suit against AT&T.

      I would like to see more progressives run on breaking up Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Rubber stamp.

      Our antitrust laws are fine. The problem is that the last 8 presidents (or more) haven’t enforced the laws.

  12. nothing but the truth

    i got my solar panels (10 kw) installed a few years ago.

    the panels cost 11k. The total job was 45k,

    34k for installation is not cheap.

    To claim panels rising a few k will kill them makes no sense.

    The real reason for installing panels is the tax credit and rapid depreciation schedule.

  13. nothing but the truth

    Ref high job openings.

    I am in the IT sector, “in between jobs”. THis sector is like the economics profession. It has a completely different view presented to outsiders, and on the inside it is nothing but politics and buzzword manufacturing.

    I would say some 75-80% of “job openings” in this sector are fraudulent. Almost no one responds to applications.

    If you ask the people who are in the know, they’ll tell you they just hire internally.

    1. Summer

      And data miners gotta data mine…

      If job posting websites don’t post something, how are they going to get your info and views?

    2. jrs

      yea it’s tough out there, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to say 75-80% are fake as it doesn’t seem that bad, but employers are being SUPER picky it seems, looking for the purple squirrel. Would endless purple squirrel hunts like this happen in a job market that was ACTUALLY good? I mean maybe it’s not the worst It’s been in the last decade but that is not the same as good. More and more things do seem like you almost have to know someone to get in. It’s not just what you know, but who you know. Although part of the problem here may be that Los Angeles has never recovered economically much IMO.

  14. dcblogger

    damaging the solar industry is a feature not a bug for Trump & Co. It is all about owning the libs, nothing else matters, and much of their base is the same way.

    1. RUKidding

      Agree. Trump’s base has been carefully taught to hate Solar just because Libs allegedly “like” it. Therefore, it’s unAmerican.

      Also: as payback to BigOil.

      And probably Pruitt said it was Commie rubbish or something.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . why don’t the libs do some conservation lifestyling to own the cons in return? Too inconvenient?

      If a hundred million libs were ready to keep their houses at 76 degrees instead of 72 degrees in the summer, how much money would they be withholding from Big Koch and Coal?

  15. marym

    Trump looking to erect tent cities to house unaccompanied children

    The Department of Health and Human Services will visit Fort Bliss, a sprawling Army base near El Paso in the coming weeks to look at a parcel of land where the administration is considering building a tent city to hold between 1,000 and 5,000 children, according to U.S. officials and other sources familiar with the plans.

    The number of migrant children held in U.S. government custody without their parents has increased more than 20 percent as Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen rolled out the administration’s new policy zero tolerance policy that separates children from their parents who now face prosecution.

    More than 10,000 migrant children are being held at HHS shelters, which are now 95 percent full.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It seems like if you can make it to this country, your problem is worthy of people’s compassion.

        But you are a kid starving in another continent, even as an immediate victim of our imperial adventures, we don’t hear you and you’re not a problem.

        In fact, there are millions of suffering kids worldwide.

        1. RUKidding

          Indeed you’re correct.

          Appears that Trump Admin is closing the circle in that they are training US citizens not to give rat’s patoot about children everywhere, including here.

          What’s that saying? That kids should be not seen & not heard or something?

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            On the contrary, we should care about children everywhere, more so those far away we can’t see in front of us.

          2. marym

            Yes, we’re running through some “…then they came for” categories pretty rapidly.

              1. marym

                Mexicans account for a very small percentage of asylum seekers. (Link).

                The net flow of migration from Mexico,legal and illegal, has been declining since 2012 and is negative. (Link)

                Snatching these children from their parents and sending them to internment camps shocks the conscience and violates the 14th amendment, regardless of what other terrible things are done in the world.

                1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

                  Those coming from further south seeking safety can get it better in Mexico than the US.

                  Despite propaganda, it’s safer south of the border.

              2. David

                Safer from what?

                From UNODC (United Nations Organisation of Drugs and Crime)
                2015 Data – Rate per 100,000 population

                Homicides ; U.S. – 4.88 ; Mexico – 16.35
                Theft; U.S. – 1,773.40 ; Mexico – 114.16
                Burglary ; U.S. – 490.88 ; Mexico – 126.13
                Rape ; U.S. – 38.55 ; Mexico – 12.55
                Sexual Violence ; U.S. – No Data ; Mexico – 31.78
                Robbery ; U.S. – 101.74 ; Mexico – 129.17 (Down from 622.28 in 2010)
                Assault ; U.S. – 237.50 ; Mexico – 35.78 (Down from 227.55 in 2004)

                Total Persons Prosecuted (all crimes) ; U.S. – 24.81; Mexico – 1,526.14
                Total Persons Convicted (all crimes); U.S. – 22.73; Mexico – 39.41 (!!)

                Safer from conviction perhaps.

    1. JohnnySacks

      I think the term you’re looking for is concentration camps, pure and simple. When a sitting senator can’t even get past the front door of one to the point of being ridiculed, we have a problem.

      1. JBird

        Lucky for Ronan he didn’t get whacked.

        It is sad that the is not whether his arrest was right, but that has not killed; it seems that his actions were done to prevent said whacking while his arrest was essentially for doing those actions.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s quite moving.

      Does it allow the US to move troops from South Korea to Taiwan? This is the calculating part, versus the moving heart part above.

      Will this make Bolton and his friends happy?

    2. Arizona Slim

      Hey, if ping-pong diplomacy helped lead to Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, why not try a little basketball diplomacy with North Korea?

    3. JohnnySacks

      The US keeping it’s word? Especially in the era of Trump? He really can’t be that laughably stupid, he’s just messing with the doofus Rodman.

  16. a different chris

    I am curious how Ms. Kare decided that the paper in the “printer” icon would have that very distingushing fold. You wouldn’t want the paper to be kinked like that, but I can’t imagine that simple image *without* it.

    Difference between us normals and genius, I guess.

  17. DonCoyote

    Re: Sam Ronan being arrested for “nothing” at his appartment complex

    Strange things are/have been afoot in OH-01 (one of Lambert’s battleground districts). So there was this rabbi running for Team-D, Robert Barr. He had gotten a lot of signatures and raised a lot of money. The Daily Kos liked him, saying he would be “a great representative”. And he would have been the first rabbi elected to congress, which would have been nice for Team-D diversity etc. But for unspecified reasons, the DCCC didn’t like him. So they beat the bushes for someone, anyone else. Finally they came up with “their” red-to-blue candidate, Afteb Pureval, who has been the Hamilton County Clerk of Courts for a year. And like a good soldier, Parr drops out and endorses Pureval.

    Meanwhile, Sam Ronan, who was a candidate for DNC chair at the beginning of last year, switched to run as a Republican in OH-01 (he lost in the Republican primary to the incumbent). He was arrested but not told the reason. He filmed the arrest and posted it to his Facebook account, but his girlfriend took both video and account down 1-2 days ago. Supposedly the charge was a 5th degree felony, but all the actual charges (Failing to Comply with Order or Signal of Police, Obstructing Official Business and Obstructing Justice) seem to stem from the arrest. And all have $60K bonds, which seems high (I am not a lawyer).

    Given that he is not in the current election, it’s unclear to me why he would be targeted, but I’m not from there. Anyone have a better context?

  18. marym

    KFF: Implications of Work Requirements in Medicaid: What Does the Data Say?

    As of June 2018, four states have approved waivers to implement Medicaid work requirements, seven states have waiver requests pending with CMS, and other states are considering or developing work requirement programs.

    Most Medicaid enrollees who can work are already working but could face barriers in complying with reporting requirements…since one in three Medicaid adults never use a computer or the internet and four in ten do not use email, many enrollees would face barriers in complying with work reporting requirements to maintain coverage.

  19. Darthbobber

    The hysteria factory has really ramped up. In just the past couple of days we have reich’s version of a constitutional crisis, though there seem to be no attributes of what usually merits that description.

    Josh Marshall has upgraded his reds under trump’s bed approach to the scary “the plot against America.”

    And Krugman upped the ante yesterday with his declaration that “no rational person” can doubt that Trump is a literal Quisling.

    1. Byron the Light Bulb

      Machinating with a government conducting the first invasion of a sovereign European nation since World War II [Ukraine] while behaving “unstable and undisciplined”, or whose self-justifications were “intellectually sterile”, as Vidkun Quisling’s was described, proves the comparison to be quite accurate.

      1. todde

        The 1st invasion of a sovereign European nation since WWII…

        well except for Yugoslavia…

      2. pretzelattack

        you mean the government on their border in which we helped engineer a coup in contravention of our agreement with gorbachev? morever, one with a large russian population that wanted help?

          1. pretzelattack

            thanks for bringing up the nazi traditions of the government we helped install via coup. don’t remember the coup the u.s. backed in austria, though?

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        What makes Trump a Quisling is his calling off military exercises, to our militant intellectuals.

  20. Jim Haygood

    Embrace the suck:

    U.S. District Court Judge Richard “Rubber Stamp” Leon has approved AT&T’s proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, a corporate combination that promises to unleash even more megamergers in the fast-changing media business.

    The judge’s opinion permits the merger to go forward with no conditions, according to CNBC and Reuters. The Trump administration had opposed the merger, which promises to join one of the country’s biggest telecom providers with a media giant.

    Beyond the impact on the companies, the merger is expected to spur frantic dealmaking in the rapidly consolidating media sector.


    As of Sep 28th, three remaining telcos in the S&P 500 (including AT&T) will be combined with media (e.g. Disney; Time Warner), cable (e.g. Comcast), search engine (e.g. Alphabet), and social media (e.g. Facebook) companies into a new Communications Services sector.

    Currently Communications Services has 27 members. AT&T’s merger with Time Warner will reduce its members to 26, a total which may shrink to 20 in a couple of years.

    Communications Disservices — which I call the Lies, Theft & Disinfo sector — is the new Axis of Evil: feeding us propaganda; jacking our connection costs; and filching our personal info. Smash the MSM … and the government that’s letting it metastasize.

    1. flora

      If the goal of the neoliberal project is moving the business economy beyond electoral democracy and political “interference” then fewer and bigger monopolies are a step in that direction. Politicians follow the money; Citizens United green-lighted corporate funding of politicians; so, the fewer and bigger the monopolies, the more control those few monopolies have over the politicians. imo.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s at least one issue dictator Trump did not get it to go his way.

      Not a totally bad day at all.

  21. ewmayer

    “Consider the labor market. The U.S. has added so many jobs in the past five years that the unemployment rate has fallen to an 18-year low of 3.8%. And there’s actually more job openings nationwide than the number of unemployed Americans looking for work” [MarketWatch] —

    Recent Counterpunch piece on this topic puts the lie to this kind of happytalk jobs-market propaganda (bolds mine):

    Hiding the Real Number of Unemployed

    “A better indication of how many people have found work is the “civilian labor force participation rate.” By this measure, which includes all people age 16 or older who are not in prison or a mental institution, only 62.7 percent of the potential U.S. workforce was actually in the workforce in May, and that was slightly lower than the previous month. This is just about equal to the lowest this statistic has been since the breakdown of Keynesianism in the 1970s, and down significantly from the peak of 67.3 percent in May 2000. You have to go back to the mid-1970s to find a time when U.S. labor participation was lower. This number was consistently lower in the 1950s and 1960s, but in those days one income was sufficient to support a family. Now everybody works and still can’t make ends meet.

    And that brings us to the topic of wages. After reaching a peak of 52 percent in 1969, the percentage of the U.S. gross domestic product going to wages has fallen to 43 percent, according to research by the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve. The amount of GDP going to wages during the past five years has been the lowest it has been since 1929,according to a New York Times report. And within the inequality of wages that don’t keep up with inflation or productivity gains, the worse-off are doing worse.”

  22. Jim Haygood

    A very High IQ individual urges a less gifted mind to smarten up:

    Donald J Trump

    Robert De Niro, a very Low IQ individual, has received to [sic] many shots to the head by real boxers in movies. I watched him last night and truly believe he may be “punch-drunk.” I guess he doesn’t realize the economy is the best it’s ever been with employment being at an all time high, and many companies pouring back into our country. Wake up Punchy!

    4:53 PM – Jun 12, 2018

    Don’t we miss the good old days before Jan 26, 2018, when Trump would brag almost daily about stock indexes reaching record highs.

    That’s all gone quiet, after fiscal flake-o-nomics and trade wars spoiled the party.

    Sell, Punchy, sell!

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It worked with calling Kim the Rocket Man…not sure if his will bring peace between them after De Niro’s viral comments earlier.

      But you never know…they could be hugging each other in Singapore in no time.

      In general, the world has gotten more vulgar, check that, freer, in the sense we have freed ourselves of bourgeois sensibilities…becoming some sort of uebermenschen.

    2. ewmayer

      Indeed, the S&P500 and Dow30 are both off a massive 3-4% from their all-time highs, while only the Nasdaq soldiers on to ever-greater bubbliciousness. Clearly the trade wars are to blame for the yuuuuuuuge pullback.

      Seriously, Jim, if you think a mere 3-4% pullback in the Everything Bubble amounts to “spoiling the party”, can’t wait to hear your pissing and moaning when the inevitable real-deal correction arrives. Meanwhile, I think I can just hear the faint strains of the world’s tiniest violin playing for you “the markets are the be-all and the end-all or everything” types and your having to suffer such precipitous several-percent plunges in your beloved stawk indices.

      1. Jim Haygood

        A few years from now, the crest of Bubble III will be identified as the highest level reached by the S&P 500 in this business cycle.

        A working hypothesis is that Jan 26, 2018 may have been that high point. If the S&P 500 can rise another 3.1 percent from today’s close — in line with Paul Tudor Jones’s comments — then this hypothesis is voided.

        Completely agree that a 3-4% pullback is of no economic significance. But when bull market durations are tabulated, the end date is critical.

        1. ewmayer

          And, hey, Tesla shares have shot back up to within ~10% of their ATH in the past few days, after the Great Helmsman chattered excitedly about a rocket-powered roadster. I’m gonna use TSLA as my canary in the Greater-Fool coal mine for the Everything Bubble. When Musk’s latest batch of wild-eyed promises from Mars fail to goose the shares, the party will be officially over in my book.

  23. dcblogger

    I truly hope that Mark Warner runs for president. It will create an open Senate seat and there is a distinct possibility that he will be replaced with someone who is if not good, at least significantly better. Warner’s will swiftly be confined to the clown car as he discovers it is not 1992 anymore and nobody cares about moderate southerners.

  24. Synoia

    in part because of how much Obama bristles at his private meetings becoming public knowledge

    Mendacious shit. He was ever thus.

  25. Summer

    Smartphone sales are slowing and here are two key reasons why” [CNBC]

    Oh, people got hip that redesigning and moving around icons, making batteries non-replaceabe, and changing the power chord adapter and other outputs each year isn’t “innovation.”

  26. Big River Bandido

    Lambert, what are you referencing when you say “worse is better accelerationist? Inquiring in reference to the ThirdWay/DLC/BlueDog caucus trial ballooning a Mark Warner run for president.)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Accelerationism is the attitude that the time has come to fly the plane into the side of the mountain. Who is most likely to do it soonest and most comprehensively? Make him the pilot!

  27. edmondo

    So, we get a choice between a Blue Dog and a guy with a name like “Lucas St. Clair.”

    You are closer to this situation than I am so you probably know better but at least your Blue Dog supports M4A and that’s a thousand times better than anything I get to vote for. If he loses, could you send him to AZ. He would be a Che Guevera lefty down here.


  28. marym

    Trump’s health chief suggests ‘massive’ drug price cuts not imminent

    President Donald Trump’s top health care official is lowering expectations that drug companies will soon announce huge price cuts, undercutting Trump’s recent claims that his drug pricing plan would produce immediate results.

    Trump on May 30 said some of the largest pharmaceutical companies would announce “voluntary massive drops in prices” within two weeks in response to his drug pricing plan released in mid-May.

    Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said during the hearing that she and Sen. Tina Smith (D-Wis.) sent letters surveying the top 10 drug manufacturers on the day Trump made his remarks. No company said they had lowered prices, and no company indicated that they plan to do so, Warren said. One of the companies said that its prices will go up later this year, she said.

  29. David


    Unmentioned is the sunset clause, which seems like a good idea to me, though five years — presumably the initial negotiating position? — is way too short. We’d be planning for the sunset negotiations while the ink was still wet on the deal!

    The shortened agreement cycle should reduce the need for ISDS and other opaque dispute systems. Disputes can be addressed in the next treaty by the permanent, publicly-appointed Treaty negotiation team. It should also be easier to incorporate new laws and remove ineffective requirements with an ongoing negotiation, rather than trying to change a twenty year old agreement.

  30. ewmayer

    Not that this will be news to anyone here, but the western MSM are such abject, shameless, lying liars … caught a brief [~2-minute] snip of ABC World News Tonight just now, latest from the Trump-Kim summit. Watch the magician’s hands very carefully: reporter mentions Kim stating his commitment to denuclearization of the Korean peninsula – so far, so good, basic factual statement there. In the next words out of the reporter’s mouth, that has magically morphed into – bolds mine – “…Trump and Kim gave no specific timeline for elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons…”, at which point I clicked the TV off with my now-usual disgust.

  31. JBird

    California DNC Member Suggests Superdelegate Reform Is Part Of Russian Plot”

    The DNC member, Bob Mulholland, also said somebody from the Green Party, which is about the most ineffective, feckless, pseudo leftist, national party we have, and maybe some stranger(s) he saw. That’s his supposed supporting “evidence.” I don’t agree with the superdelegate system, but one can make reasonable arguments for it without enlisting the ghost of the Soviet Union.

    Well as the joke says, the Golden State is supposed to have all the fruits, flakes, and nuts although the flakes are predominant now and the granola has bland. There are still plenty of nutz around here, so it’s possible that they actually believe that Putin cares(?!?) about the superdelegates; the crazy has been getting ever stronger and weed is legal here with some potent stuff being sold. Maybe he’s smoking some.

    I could probably use some right now but a more mild variety in some fudge brownies. :-)

  32. Jessica

    Lambert: Is the inability to look in the mirror a 10%-er deformation professionnelle?
    Lambert, as you often say, this is a feature not a bug. I’ll go further: it is THE feature. The main task of the 10% is to spread not-knowing and to be most effective, they have to be sincere.

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