2:00PM Water Cooler 6/14/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“In her acceptance speech, [Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland] offered a bold defense of the global rules-based trading system and called on the United States to return to its traditional role leading and working to strengthen those multilateral institutions it helped build. She noted that many Americans are skeptical that the system still benefits them but said that while trade policies can be tweaked to address some issues — and pacts like NAFTA should be changed to include ‘labor standards with real teeth — the real way to fix systemic problems is through domestic policy'” [Politico]. “Freeland’s evening speech came after a day of meetings on the Hill. She met with members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who sought to counteract negative rhetoric spewed out of the White House toward Canada and shore up beleaguered relations with the U.S.’s closest ally.” Editorializing, much?



“Sanders gets best reception at early 2020 audition” [The Hill]. “The energy in the room was palpable throughout the entirety of Sanders’s speech. He received multiple standing ovations, and “Bernie!” cheers broke out when he walked on and off the stage.” Notice, however, the continuing success of liberal Democrat brand confusion between “universal health care” and #MedicareForAll. This crowd claimed that ObamaCare was universal long after it was obviously not, and they’ll push us into wasting another two or three election cycles on a markets-first solution, if we let them get away with it.

“Rob Reiner thinks Joe Biden could help save Democrats in 2020” [The Hill]. “Director Rob Reiner believes former Vice President Joe Biden would help ‘right the ship’ for the Democrats if he ran for president in 2020…. Reiner also named one relatively unknown potential candidate — former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu.” Help me.


“Trump administration now ripping nursing babies from their mothers” [Oliver Willis, ShareBlue]. (ShareBlue is a David Brock operation.) I’ll use this headline as a hook to discuss the #EndFamilySeparation, #FamiliesBelongTogether moral panic where Resistance liberals seem to be working themselves up to some kinda awful climax; the tone is remarkably similar to the pro-war propaganda about Syrian babies, though directed to a different object. First, and as usual, liberal Democrats have erased Obama’s own immigration record, which includes separating children from familes. As so often, the continuities between administrations are greater than the differences. Second, the empathy for which Willis and his cohort pride themselves consists primarily of call-out culture-style virtue-signalling, performative speech, and finger-wagging, satisfying for such as Willis, but empty calories for those Willis et al. purport to be helping. Perhaps in the Willisian hive mind, “caring” is connected to Democrat victory in the mid-terms, for which Latinx votes will be needed, especially in battleground state California. Should this pan out, of course and as usual, those voters — except for a few appropriately identifying charismatic spokespersons, who will be rewarded with media presence and funding — will be promptly abandoned after the election, exactly as Obama did with the black community in 2008 (foreclosures; unemployment). Third, what are the policy outcomes? Open borders, i.e., cheap labor? Good if you need your granite countertops cleaned regularly, I suppose. Finally, working class life expectancy is actually declining in many flyover states (see NC here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). You’d think that the Willises of this world, before they break for their mimosa-fuelled brunch, would be able to work up a little selective screechiness about that. (“One nation, indivisible, after all). You would be wrong.

“Analysis: The House Blue Wave Is Alive and Well” [Stuart Rothenberg, Roll Call]. “[T]here is an abundance of evidence that Democratic House prospects are as good as they have been for months and the House is still very likely to flip…. Well, the newest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll has the Democrats with a 10-point advantage in the generic ballot, Fox News has it at 9 points and Quinnipiac at 7 points — all very reasonable numbers and all generally consistent with my view that Democrats have a clear and consistent advantage in the generic somewhere in the mid- to upper-single digits. But even if [Trump approval numbers show that] voters are giving Trump some credit for the economy and North Korea, they could still prefer a Democratic Congress next year…. But the fundamentals remain very much with the Democrats, as they have been for more than a year. Midterms are almost always about the president. Twenty-three Republicans sit in districts carried by Hillary Clinton. And, voters see the midterms as an opportunity to “check” Trump. That’s a formula for substantial Democratic House gains and control of the chamber next year. The burden is still on Republicans and the White House to change the midterms’ dynamics” (Rothenberg is the proprietor of Inside Elections, on which our worksheet is based.) Rothenberg has an odd notion of “fundamentals.” The generic ballot and Presidential approval ratings are proxies for what is happening with the parties and in the districts. Those are the fundamentals. Control of the House could still flip, indeed, but I continue to insist that for these Democrats, it’s a heavy lift.

“Steve Bannon Is Right About the Midterms — Until He Isn’t” [Stuart Rothenberg (again!), Inside Elections]. “Bannon surely is correct that the November elections will largely be about Trump. The incumbent president and his administration’s performance have almost always been the single most important factor in midterm balloting…. Oddly, in a Washington Post column based on his CNN interview, Zakaria called Bannon’s recommendation to nationalize the midterms, apparently around immigration, “a brilliant electoral strategy,” since it has both economic and cultural appeal. Take a moment to imagine what Election Day 2018 would look like after Trump spent three or four months hammering away in tweets and at campaign rallies about “the wall,” NFL players, sanctuary cities and immigrant gang members… More importantly, it would almost certainly add to his growing problems with the key group of this year’s midterms: white, college-educated women, particularly those in the suburbs.” I dunno. “Dance with the one that brung ya.”

“Two Ways of Thinking About Election Predictions and What They Tell Us About 2018” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. Worth a read on polling. From the conclusion: “As we head into the heat of the summer of this 2018 midterm cycle pundits, politicos, and voters alike should take note of the past, present, and future differences between quantitative forecasting methods and the typical race-based handicapping. If the past holds true, the former will do well at producing precision probabilities for each U.S. House seat based on its individual characteristics, and the latter will do well at reducing large deviation from the forecast that typically arises from issues with candidate quality and rapidly changing districts.”

“How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump” [Frank Bruni, New York Times]. “I get that you’re angry. I’m angry, too. But anger isn’t a strategy…. The more noise, the less discernment. The more fury, the less focus…. Enough with Hitler, too. Has Trump shown fascistic tendencies? Yes. Is he the second coming of the Third Reich? No. Nor are the spineless Republicans who have enabled him Nazi collaborators, not on the evidence of what has and hasn’t happened so far.” For good or ill, however, the anti-Trump schtick is quite profitable for Samantha Bee, Maddow, MSNBC, etc. So expect it to continue, and to form part of the Democrat message in the Fall. Also, Clintonite voters deeply believe most of it, and will have to be catered to.

Bernie hops on board:

As he must do, but (see above) some contextualization would be useful.

“Nobody learned anything, there will be another crash and banksters will expect a bailout” [Alice Marshall]. “There is going to be another crash, and it is likely that the top level plutocrats already know this and are laying the groundwork for another bailout. So Wall Street and the political donor community are especially insistent that only Wall Street friendly Democrats win their primaries. Remember, bankster bailouts are centrist, single payer healthcare is lefty fringe.” Makes sense. They did learn something, though: How to get away with it!

NY: “Under Pressure From Progressives, Rep. Ro Khanna Endorses Both Democrats in Contentious New York Primary” [The Intercept]. “ON TUESDAY EVENING, New York Rep. Joe Crowley tweeted that he had won the support of progressive Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., in an increasingly heated primary in Queens and the Bronx. By Wednesday morning, following an outpouring of anger at Khanna, the endorsement had become a “dual endorsement” of both Crowley and his opponent, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” It’s going to take Khanna a long time to live that down.

New Cold War

“The Latest: Report faults Comey but finds no political bias” [Associated Press]. “The Justice Department’s watchdog faults former FBI Director James Comey for breaking with established protocol in his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. But it found that his decisions were not driven by political bias. The report also criticizes Comey for not keeping then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and other Justice Department superiors properly informed about his handling of the investigation….. The report’s findings are set to be made public later Thursday.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Milwaukee Minorities Didn’t Vote Hillary & Don’t Regret It” (video) [Jimmy Dore].

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Sens. Warren, Sanders Hear Directly From America’s Poor At U.S. Capitol” [HuffPo]. “At the congressional hearing, convened by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), members of the House and Senate listened to leaders of and participants in the Poor People’s Campaign, a new movement co-led by the Rev. William Barber against poverty and racism in America. About half a dozen lawmakers attended, including Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)…. Sanders responded after people’s testimonies, saying, ‘How did this happen?’ ‘I’ll tell you exactly,’ he continued. ‘Because most of the members here in Congress are not here to represent you all but to represent billionaires who fund their campaigns. That’s how.’ He added that those testifying about their experiences with poverty ― which he called ‘so difficult, so painful’ ― were ‘speaking with enormous courage’ and that more Americans should do so.” More like this, please. NOTE: I recurated my Twitter feed by adding every Poor People’s Campaign account I could find — click, click, click, click, click! I don’t think there are as many as DSA, for which I did the same thing, but there are an impressively large number of chapters.

“Liberals Are Criticizing the Korea Summit From the Right. Here’s Why They Have it All Wrong.” [In These Times]. Indeed. This:

Back to In These Times: “Yet, there is a yawning gap between the optimistic mood in South Korea and the response among liberal media circles in the United States, where many are reacting with a mix of sanctimony and scorn.” [Many links from the usual suspects omitted]. “[Christine Ahn, a South Korea-born, Hawaii-based peace activist] says she is frustrated and discouraged that many U.S. establishment liberals are deeply disconnected from the decades-long peace struggle led by South Koreans. Any peace deal must necessarily involve the United States, and unless U.S. progressives want to condemn the Korean people to another two to six years of military escalation, Trump will have to be involved in that process. Given Trump’s proven willingness to turn on a dime and engage in dangerous brinkmanship with North Korea, she argues, it is especially reckless for self-professed liberals to pressure the president to be more confrontational. ‘It is very dangerous to pressure Trump to be hardline,’ says Ahn. ‘We have to put all of our efforts into ensuring this goes well and is not undermined.'”

“Planned Parenthood chapter should back its workers, not side with Trump” [Guardian]. “Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is asking Donald Trump’s National Labor Relations Board for help in busting its staff union. Last December staff at the clinic voted to join the Service Employees International Union (SEIU); management is challenging that decision…. Unionized workers suffer less sex discrimination and sexual harassment than other workers, and when they do experience these things, unions offer grievance procedures to address them, as well as solidarity and guidance. By contrast, the neoliberal workplace – and the gig economy – offer women the opportunity to lean in and suck it up.” If you were under any illusion that the liberal Democrat version of feminism has anything to do with working class solidarity, this sordid episode should deal with the matter.

“David Brooks Has a Name for His Jewish and Christian Beliefs: ‘Religious Bisexuality'” [Haaretz]. No.

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, May 2018: “The FOMC said yesterday that household spending has picked up and indeed it has. Retail sales jumped 0.8 percent in May which easily tops Econoday’s high estimate. And the results include an upward revision to April” [Econoday]. “The report shows balanced gains including a 1.3 percent jump at restaurants and a 0.5 percent increase for motor vehicles, both pointing to rising discretionary demand. … It was only a few weeks ago that the Fed’s Beige Book had downgraded consumer spending to “soft” which highlights the importance of today’s report.” And: “‘In a broader sense, the results today continue to support stronger economic growth in the second quarter,’ [Ibrahiim Bayaan, chief economist for FreightWaves] added” [Freight Waves]. “‘The first quarter of 2018 showed some loss in momentum and a good deal of that was due to poor results in consumer spending on goods. April and May results have both been strong now, so it’s looking pretty clear that the second quarter will be much improved over the first.'” And: “Retail sales were up according to US Census headline data. The unadjusted rolling averages rate of growth improved, and was well above forecasts… [S]till, our analysis says this months’ year-over-year growth was about average for the growth seen since the Great Recession” [Econintersect]. “The year-over-year growth rate in inflation adjusted retail sales and retail employment have diverged.”

Import and Export Prices, May 2018: “Import and export prices are both beginning to move higher” [Econoday]. “Year-on-year rates are rising notably… These are the hottest yearly readings since the easy comparisons early in the expansion, in 2011…. What’s not showing any pressure, and what is a reminder of the soft results in Tuesday’s consumer price report, are prices for finished goods, whether imports or exports. Today’s report is a memorable one for this series. Price data below the consumer level are showing sudden acceleration in what underscores yesterday’s FOMC rate hike and increased forecasts for rate hikes to come.” And: “There was a big surge in export and import prices this month lead by food and industrial supplies (which includes fuels)” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 10, 2018: “The consumer comfort index had been sagging a bit but popped back sharply” [Econoday].

Business Inventories, April 2018: “Business inventories rose an as-expected 0.3 percent. [Econoday]. “[T]otal inventories look lean compared to underlying sales which are up 6.7 percent in a mismatch that points to restocking and with it a benefit to GDP not to mention gains for production and employment as well. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said yesterday that the economy is in ‘great shape’ and inventories are part of the success story.” And but: “Inventories remain elevated this month. Our primary monitoring tool – the 3 month rolling averages for sales – marginally improved this month and remains in expansion. As the monthly data has significant variation, the 3 month averages are the way to view this series. Overall business sales are improving since the low point in 2015 – but the trend in the last 6 months shows little change in the rate of growth” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of June 9, 2018: “Jobless claims remain very low and are consistent with a low unemployment rate and strong job growth” [Econoday].

Shipping: “Another Day, Another Pay Hike for Drivers” [Transport Topics]. “With the annualized turnover rate at large truckload carriers soaring by the end of the first quarter, companies continued to open their checkbooks, giving pay raises to drivers as a way to keep them.” Quelle horreur!

Shipping: “When it comes to the truck driver shortage, ‘the struggle is (still) real'” [Logistics Management]. “When it comes to the state of the somewhat inexorable truck driver shortage, one thing clearly remains certain: not much has materially changed in terms of truly lowering the average turnover rate…. The ATA reported this week in its quarterly Trucking Activity Report that the annualized turnover rate for large truckload carriers or fleets with more than $30 million in annual revenue, increased 6% to 94% in the first quarter of 2018. This marks a 20% annual increase. The latter data point is pretty telling, especially when factoring in that unemployment is below 4% and many potential truck drive candidates prefer other options like construction, for example, which tends to pay better than driver jobs and comes with the benefit of being home every day after work, something which is not a given behind the wheel.”

Supply Chain: “Efficient worldwide supply chain flows facilitate competitiveness, experts say” [Logistics Management]. “‘We were talking about trade facilitation before it was cool,’ said Ralph Carter, FedEx Express vice president of international regulatory affairs. ‘If you want to be efficient, you have to have trade facilitation.’ Noting that ‘nothing is made in one country anymore,’ Carter said global supply chain efficiency through technology and other means are absolutely the ante for worldwide players to get in the game. ‘Trade facilitation produces the best return on development money of any kind of aid,’ he said. ‘When you invest in border efficiency, it has the ability to help U.S. exports. You are giving them more ability to export goods.'” “Trade facilitation.” That’s a new buzzword to me. Maybe Carter should pick up the phone and call Theresa May.

Transportation: “Elon Musk’s Boring Co. Wins Chicago Airport High-Speed Train Bid” [Bloomberg]. “The result gives the young company a big boost in legitimacy as it tries to get transportation projects underway in Los Angeles and Washington.” Thanks, Rahm! More: “It is unclear exactly what the Boring Co. high-speed airport link would involve, but last year Musk tweeted about his ideas for Chicago. ‘Electric pods for sure,’ he wrote. ‘Rails maybe, maybe not.’ The project is unusual in that no government funding is involved, forcing the winner to finance the entire construction cost itself.” I knew Atrios would have something to do, because he hates pods (and rightly). Here we are: “I will never be able to stop talking about this or thinking about it or wanting to explain just how stupid it is even though the stupidest is part is that it will never be built.”

The Bezzle: “The Downfall of Dubai’s Star Investor” [Bloomberg]. “Private equity is still a nascent industry in the region, so it’s a shame to see the biggest name falling apart.”

The Bezzle: “Tech-support scam against elderly costs Bay Area businessman $136,000” [Mercury News]. “A man who operated a couple of Hayward-based businesses must pay $136,000 in connection with a tech-support scam out of India, and can never offer tech support again. The Federal Trade Commission this week announced a settlement with Parmjit Singh Brar, who it accused of working with telemarketers to trick elderly Americans into buying fake tech-support services. The judgment was for $7.6 million, but it was partially suspended because of Brar’s inability to pay the full amount, according to the FTC…. ‘The cost to consumers ranged between several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars,’ the FTC said of the scam, which appeared to begin in 2015.”

Mr. Market: “MOOD BETAS AND SEASONALITIES IN STOCK RETURNS” (PDF) [NBER]. “We find that relative performance across stocks during past high or low mood months and weekdays tends to recur in future periods with congruent mood, and to reverse in periods with non-congruent mood. Stocks with higher sensitivities to aggregate mood swings—higher mood betas—earn higher expected returns during future high mood periods and lower expected returns during future low mood periods, including those induced by Daylight Saving Time changes, weather conditions and anticipation of major holidays.”

Mr. Market: “How the ‘big kahuna’ of central banks may bring reality crashing down on stocks” [MarketWatch]. “Here’s a bit more explanation from Helen Thomas, founder of macro-consulting group BlondeMoney. She says what the ECB has been doing — buying European government bonds and driving the euro lower with negative deposit rates — has forced capital out of that region and into U.S. bonds. That move has acted as an extra dose of QE for the U.S. bond markets, which has driven investors to look for better-yielding investments in equities and corporate bonds. ‘Therefore central banks taking away the punch bowl, particularly in Europe which turbocharged the process, is key for the future of all assets globally,’ says Thomas.” The punch bowl the size of a thimble, if you ask me, but what do I know?

The Fed: [Tim Duy’s FedWatch]. “Bottom Line: Pay attention to the interplay of the rate and economic forecasts and the flow of data. The pace of data will almost certainly not slow sufficiently to prevent the Fed from hiking in September and probably December. I would say September is essentially a lock at this point. I also think you need to pencil in rate hikes in March and June of 2019. Recognize though that by mid-2019 the data might reflect the lagged impact of past tightening and the yield curve is likely to be fairly flat; both factors would slow the pace of rate hikes. The Fed will face a more difficult choice if the data holds strong while the yield curve inverts.”

Five Horsemen: “Facebook and Amazon reached record highs in late morning trade” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 14 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “On yesterday’s market decline the mania-panic index ticked down to 68 (complacency)” [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 13 2018

Health Care

“When failure is really not an option” [DC Velocity]. “When they wheel you into the operating room (OR), the last thing on your mind is the state of the hospital’s supply closet. If there’s one thing we take for granted, it’s that the surgical ward—the epitome of a high-stakes work environment—will have the proper instruments, medications, and supplies on hand for the scheduled procedure. Unfortunately, you may need to worry about that. A recent survey of medical professionals revealed that OR supply chains are nowhere near the paragon of excellence we expect them to be. The study, which was conducted by healthcare giant Cardinal Health, found that a full 40 percent of respondents have actually canceled a procedure and 69 percent have delayed a case because of a lack of supplies. Furthermore, 27 percent have seen or heard of a recalled or expired product being used on a patient, and 23 percent have seen or heard of a patient being harmed due to missing supplies.” Holy moly!

“Association of Long-Term Risk of Respiratory, Allergic, and Infectious Diseases With Removal of Adenoids and Tonsils in Childhood” [JAMA]. “In this population-based cohort study of almost 1.2 million children, removal of adenoids or tonsils in childhood was associated with significantly increased relative risk of later respiratory, allergic, and infectious diseases. Increases in long-term absolute disease risks were considerably larger than changes in risk for the disorders these surgeries aim to treat.” Yikes. My parents, then, were wise to leave my tonsils alone….

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Beyond Books: How Libraries Are the Latest Front in the Opioid Fight” [Governing]. “Libraries in New Orleans, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Salt Lake County, Utah, among others, are also stocking the overdose reversal drug. When overdoses in libraries became a regular occurrence in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill authorizing them to carry naloxone; libraries in Suffolk County and Middletown have since started.”

Class Warfare

“Think Your State Is Ready for the Next Recession? Better Check This Fund First.” [Governing]. “States have done a lot over the past decade to be better financially prepared for the next recession. But one area many have ignored is — ironically — their unemployment insurance programs for laid-off workers. More than half of states’ unemployment insurance trust funds don’t have enough money in them to weather the next economic downturn, according to the most recent federal report on the funds. Of the 28 that don’t meet the minimum solvency level recommended by the U.S. Department of Labor, a whopping 11 have less than half of the funds needed to meet a downturn. The lack of recovery in many funds more than a decade after the last recession began is alarming given that many think time is running out on the current economic expansion.”

“Truckers in Argentina in strike threat over pay demand to parry galloping inflation” [The Loadstar]. “In the wake of Brazil and China, Argentina now appears to be preparing for a trucking strike as its drivers demand a 27% pay increase. Local media has reported that the pay demand is to offset an annual inflation rate of 20%, which is expected to grow further following a $50bn bailout package from the IMF. Opposition to the bailout saw trade unions march through Buenos Aires last week, with Argentine Truck Drivers Association head Pablo Moyano threatening further action.”

News of The Wired

“‘The Scale Is Just Unfathomable'” [Logic]. “At this scale, moderation techniques that might have fit smaller venues simply will not translate. For instance, the techniques of online community management are ill-suited to the scale of major social media platforms. Managing early online communities depended in part on community members knowing the webmaster, regulars knowing one another, and users sharing an accumulated history of interactions that provided the familiarity and trust necessary for a moderator to arbitrate when members disagreed. Tough cases could be debated collectively; policies could be weighed and changed by the community. The scale of the forum made self- government possible. But as these platforms have grown, traditional community management has become increasingly untenable.” So maybe if we broke up the ginormous social media monopolies, community moderation could re-appear? To put this another way, perhaps the test for “too big” should be scaling beyond community moderation. I wonder if anybody could reduce that concept to a legal theory.

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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 (GB):

GB writes: “Foxglove by the roadside on recently cleared woodland here in the Pacific Northwest.”

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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. a different chris

    Wow. Rob Rogers has been fired as an editorial cartoonist for the Post Gazette. The noose tightens on us all.

  2. dcblogger

    wow- children are being put into prisons, really concentration camps, and all lambert can think of is Obama is not getting his share of the blame. There is such a thing as being blinded by rage. Do you imagine those children, fleeing God knows what, care about the internal disputes within the Democratic party?

    I was going to go to the event here in Washington DC, accept I have transportation issues.

    How can you denigrate the motives of those of us organizing for these children as mere “virture” signaling. Is that solidarity? Why can these protests be written off as virtue signaling but the Poor People’s Campaign is somehow worthwhile? Isn’t at least possible that they are both part of an effort to turn America back from fascism.

    1. macnamichomhairle

      Because those efforts and most of the people currently hyper-ventilating about the problem exist in an ongoing context that has made it clear that these current efforts have much more to do with virtue-signaling and the quest for political power and advantage, than they do with the children. I find such to be morally questionable.

      Note that I am not saying that you yourself care more about those things than about the children, nor am I suggesting anything about your own morals.

      1. dcblogger

        Note that I am not saying that you yourself care more about those things than about the children, nor am I suggesting anything about your own morals.

        well gee wiz, thanks a bunch.

        how can you build a movement if every time someone tries to do something decent for a fellow human being their motives are called into question and actions dismissed as mere virtue signaling. I did not appreciate being called a racist Bernie Bro in 2016 and I don’t appreciate being accused of virtue signaling for no reason save that I am worried sick about the fate of immigrant children. Trump massively escalated the cruelty of Obama’s policies and it is only a question of time before he uses these tactics against the rest of us.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > how can you build a movement if every time someone tries to do something decent for a fellow human being their motives are called into question and actions dismissed as mere virtue signaling.

          If this had anything to do with being a movement there’d be policy solutions on offer by the people pushing it (as #MedicareForAll is a policy solution and #FightFor15 is a policy solution). That shows that isn’t about “[doing] something decent for a fellow human being,” because the doing involves policy, which is absent. At least the moral panic about Syrian children had a policy solution, even if the solution was war, hopefully with Russia. This moral panic doesn’t even have that.

          Is the solution abolishing ICE? Open borders? What?

          1. DJG

            Sorry, dcblogger, but the only successful way to build a movement is Everybody in, nobody left.

            What is going on now in the “resistance” is what happens from having a politics based on slogans like Kindness is Everything.

            The solution is going to upset everyone, which is why it is better to talk about babies and walls. You can do fundraising off babies and walls. A

            First: No to the endless wars in the Middle East and the endless meddling in Latin American, which have people trekking on foot to the United States and drowning in the Mediterranean.

            You can see how this policy solution is a problem for the bipartisan warheads.

            Then: No to open borders. No to an absurdly complicated immigration process that enriches lawyers and confuses applicants. No to thirty dozen different kinds of visas. No to the lawlessness of the government agents. No to private prisons. No to the U.S. policy of denying asylum to refugees caused by our own wars.

            You can see how these policy solutions present a problem for the bipartisan warheads.

            Yes to regularization of those here illegally.

            And yes to a recognition that the word “undocumented” doesn’t magically solve someone’s legal problem–but it is virtue signaling of one’s remarkable lack of prejudices! And that’s pretty much the “movement” in immigration these days in the U.S.A.

            So we all want to talk about babies? Let’s talk about U.S. culpability for the death of Alan Kurdi on that beach in Turkey.

        2. anonymous

          Do Liberal Democrats (#TheResistance) genuinely care about (undocumented) immigrants at the US border?

          Where was the outrage when the Obama regime deported people in large numbers?

          Where was the outrage when the Obama regime spent $1 Billion of taxpayers’ funds on private prison detention for immigrants?


          Separately, there are many millions of people from all over the world who want to emigrate to the US. Many are from regions decimated by US empire-building activities.

          Do we open the borders and grant everyone access? Is it fair to allow some people access by dint of geographic proximity?

          If we have open borders, what programs are in place to provide housing, employment, education, healthcare, etc.? Who funds the programs?

          1. Indrid Cold

            There was no outrage about Obama. Maybe Dennis Bernstein may have covered it. Or Amy Goodman. Democrats? Nope.
            So are Trumps Republican Guard throwing Mexican babies out of incubators onto the floor? When will the gruelpropaganda reach its peak?
            #McResistance is about maintaining the neoliberal status quo until the machinery of repression and surveillance is perfected.
            And who made Honduras a hellhole that political dissidents needed to flee? Hillary, that’s who.

            “Professional-class liberals aren’t really alarmed by oversized rewards for society’s winners; on the contrary, this seems natural to them — because they are society’s winners. The liberalism of professionals just does not extend to matters of inequality; this is the area where soft hearts abruptly turn hard.”-St Thomas Frank said that.
            And unless Bernie runs in2020, I’ll be voting for Trump. Again. “Dollar” Bill Clinton’s Wall Street friendly policies have ruined my life and I am not a forgiving person.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        It’s the implicit demand to join the moral panic that I find insufferable. King Lear:

        LEAR: How? Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.

        CORDELIA Unhappy that I am, I cannot heave My heart into my mouth.

        I’m with Cordelia on this. These engineered panics are vile at the best of times, and especially vile now.

      3. Big River Bandido

        Because those efforts and most of the people currently hyper-ventilating about the problem exist in an ongoing context that has made it clear that these current efforts have much more to do with virtue-signaling and the quest for political power and advantage, than they do with the children. I find such to be morally questionable.

        Where were all the Democrats when Berta Cáceres was assassinated in May 2016? Oh, right, they had to keep quiet about that…

    2. jsn

      Were you working on this during the Obama years or did it take Trump as front man to bring this into focus?

      Lambert has been commenting on this particular abuse of power for much longer than Trump has been in office and while I agree with you it is terrible, it was just as bad in 2015.

      In any case, that you are active in doing something about it is most important and I thank you, but don’t disparage allies for maintaining perspective.

    3. Carolinian

      It’s virtue signaling if the same thing was done under Obama and they didn’t rally against him. In fact, as mentioned here before, Hillary as Sec State supported a coup in Honduras that sent many of those children fleeing north from paramilitaries. I’m sure Hispanic citizens and non-citizens are quite sincere in their opposition to US immigration policies. But given their previous silence or relative silence, it is hardly out of line to wonder about the sincerity of other, more politically minded people. After all the Dems are depending on identity politics to somehow save them from having to abandon their neoliberal ways.

      As for “fascism,” I’d say the Dem party with their embrace of restrictions on free speech and desire for regime change in America exhibit that tendency more than Trump does. We are in a dangerous period with respect for democracy at a low ebb. But that is coming from all directions.

      1. Arizona Slim

        It certainly was done under Obama. Matter of fact, I live about a mile and a half away from a defunct hotel that had been turned into a holding facility. That was back in 2014.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        Late to this party so don’t know if anyone will see this, but here goes: the policy of detaining juveniles previously was applied to teenagers who arrived without their parents requesting asylum at the border.

        NOW when families arrive together, children as young as infants are being separated indefinitely from their mothers. This is a crucial difference in context. I think the alternative policy (and no, it doesn’t solve any of the systemic issues but it is still worth advocating for) people are calling for is not to separate families at the border.

        For an excellent backgrounder, listen to the Intercepted podcast titled White Fear.


        1. Spring Texan

          Thanks, ChiGal. Your point is apposite and although I detested Obama on immigration, this is NOT the same. And we need to pressure everyone to stop this NOW not after some election, appealing to Christian groups and so forth and so on. There can be opposition gathered even on the right to stop this even though it’s not going yet.

          Heard on the radio this morning that some Repubs are trying to get it in a bill to stop this and Dems are just saying why a bill Trump could just stop the policy but making points is not the deal they need to get on board with a bill if that’s what it takes.

        2. Carolinian

          Here’s what DHS says

          Homeland security officials said the agency does not separate families at the border for deterrence purposes. “As required by law, D.H.S. must protect the best interests of minor children crossing our borders, and occasionally this results in separating children from an adult they are traveling with if we cannot ascertain the parental relationship, or if we think the child is otherwise in danger,” a spokesman for the agency said in a statement.

          The Times story says that Trump had suggested routinely separating children as punishment and deterrent but that was never adopted as official policy (if you believe DHS). The news value of the NYT account is the figure of 700 children which would be a stretch re “occasionally.” But they are not separating all of them.

          And of course they are not taken “indefinitely” as that would be child slaver stuff. Presumably they are restored to their parents on deportation.


          1. marym

            That was in April. This was in May:

            On Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Thomas Homan announced that the Trump administration would adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward anyone caught crossing into the US by Border Patrol. All border crossers would be referred to the Department of Justice, and everyone referred would be prosecuted for the misdemeanor of illegal entry.

            Everyone means everyone — including people seeking asylum from persecution (which anyone is legally entitled to do), and including parents who have entered the US with their children. And when adults are transferred to criminal custody, their children get treated as “unaccompanied minors,” as if they’d crossed the border alone, split from their parents and sent into the care of a totally separate government department.

            It’s also not clear that there are systems in place to track where the children are or to reunite parents and children, but I’m sorry I don’t have links to what I’ve read in passing.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            It is mafia procedure to never write any major order down. Trump probably did enough bussiness with the mafia and in a mafia-dominated bussiness-cultural setting that he knows and follows mafia procedure at times of don’t write anything down.

            ICE people are probably just honoring suggestions from Da BAWSS. And since the suggestion to separate these families in all cases was never written down, it can be denied that it was ever policy.

            Where children under some cutoff-age are concerned, these adult-with-child groups can be all detained together in the same place. It can be made so as a strictly operational procedure-policy.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Let’s focus on protesting consistently (yesterday, today and tomorrow) and universally (here in this country where we can see, or the manipulators make sure you see, or elsewhere in the world as well, where our MSM cameras often choose not to see).

      It has the appearance of virtue signaling (not that we know for sure), if or when we pick and choose.

      1. freedomny

        Can someone pls explain to me what virtue signaling is? There is all this new cultural lingo that is going right over my head. Is it akin to a kind of hypocrisy?

        “the anti-Trump schtick is quite profitable” – yes it is and the media is doing a disservice to the public. Solutions are not being offered – just more dumping fuel on the fire. The depth of the collective angst is astounding….

        1. todde

          in older days, it was the guy who went to the front of the church to pray…

          more self-aggrandizement then hypocrisy.

          1. Clive

            Or maybe an updated example, the sorts of people who go to Whole Foods and buy Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans… making a big thing of telling all their social circle that’s what they do and how grateful they should be for being allowed to drink it. And then load them up into the back of their Cadillac Escalade (14 mpg city / 18 mpg highway).

            1. Arizona Slim

              Virtue signaling reminds me of that car with the relentlessly honking horn. It followed me as I was carefully navigating a traffic circle, which meant that I wasn’t going at top speed on my bicycle.

              Well, wouldn’t you know it, the car finally gets a clear enough space to blast by me. And there’s a Bernie Sanders sticker on the back bumper.

              By the time I got to the traffic light, that car was already through the intersection. If it was still there, I would have reminded the driver about the senator’s home state, Vermont. A place that puts a high emphasis of good manners, on and off the road.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              My understanding of “virtue signaling” is doing something in public view to show how good one is . . . as long as that thing costs the person doing it absolutely zero.
              Zero time or zero money or zero anything else.

              So I would carefully and cautiously offer this adjustment to your example with the coffee. If someone signed a petition in favor of other people buying Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans, that would be virtue signalling. If someone their own self actually buys Rainforest Alliance Certified coffee beans, that would be private virtue practicing, because to actually buy the beans costs more money than to buy conventional beans. Not a lot, just a little. But still . . . a little. And that “little” is the “size” of the private virtue being privately practiced.
              And if one were to go bragging about the Rainforest Alliance Certified beans, that would be virtue horntooting.

              ( If the virtue horntooter in this case is an Escalade driver, then the horntooter is being a little hypocritical in the wider scope. But if the horntooter were to be driving a highly efficient little Chevrolet Cruize, then the virtue horntooter in question would be being merely annoying).

              You know what would be a pure display of virtue signalling? Taking a selfie-picture wearing a Pink Pussy Hat and posting it to one’s Wall Of Facebook, for all to see.

              Whereas if enough thousands or even milllions of people pay the more-money to buy the Raimforest coffee beans, they actually get some rainforest saved and maintained. And that is an eco-system benefit even if one has to endure the virtue-horntooting of the Rainforest bean buyers.

        2. jonhoops

          It is akin to Lip Service.

          From the Urban Dictionary:
          Virtue Signalling
          To take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else.

          Fred: I see George has changed his profile picture to show his support for refugees.
          Barbara: Has he donated money or time? Is he giving English lessons? Is he making a room available?
          Fred: No, no, he’s just virtue signalling.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          Wikipedia on virtue signaling (“the conspicuous expression of moral values”). Cf. Luke 18:11: “The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.”

          I believe the term was popularized by The Spectator:

          No one actually has to do anything. Virtue comes from mere words or even from silently held beliefs. There was a time in the distant past when people thought you could only be virtuous by doing things: by helping the blind man across the road; looking after your elderly parents instead of dumping them in a home; staying in a not-wholly-perfect marriage for the sake of the children. These things involve effort and self-sacrifice. That sounds hard!

          The author is on the right, as is the Spectator. But “Virtue signalling crosses the political divide.” Correct!

          1. Big River Bandido

            Hmm. Methinks the second definition in that link is a much closer fit to today’s Democrats:

            empty, or superficial support of certain political views

            This describes Democrats to a T, and no one more so than Hillary Clinton. It takes gall to lecture voters on race and “intersectionality” from the top of the party that implemented the monstrous carcaral state, and whose elected mayors and state/district attorneys (i.e., the only power base it has remaining) pursue racist, vicious policing and enforcement policies.

            Another obnoxious virtue-signaler is Andrew Cuomo, whose “free college” proposal is loaded up with all kinds of takebacks, clawbacks, conditions, penalties, exceptions, and post-graduation requirements. Oh, and Kirsten Gillebrand, holding hearings and singing verses from #MeToo …and then endorsing Cuomo and Crowley in their primaries against women — one of them Latina.

            Must virtue-signaling by definition be hypocritical? Or is hypocrisy just a common waste product?

        4. DJG

          freedomny: Virtue signaling is the use of symbols to feign a stance that is morally superior while doing nothing about the abuse.

          Here, we have Democrats, who didn’t want to deal with the abuses by Immigration during the massive deportations during the Obama years–often explaining away the deportations is something involving technical violations–conveniently discovering how horrible U.S. immigration policies are under Trump.

          Likewise, you have the pro-life people shrieking murder and holding up placards with bloody fetuses–but charging a woman with murder is distasteful. Better to claim that abortion is the end of the world and raise money on it. Except for Mike Pence, who truly does believe that women should be punished for miscarriages.

          Think of it this way: How many people do you know who think that “bilingual” means speaking U.S. English and Mexican Spanish and have that nice Latina nanny to teach the kids how to talk to the servants?

        5. The Rev Kev

          An example of Virtue signaling is when I well-off guy installs solar panels on his roof. When it is pointed out to him that they are facing on the wrong side to catch the sun, is informed that he has to have them on that side of the roof or nobody will be able to see them from the front of his street.

          1. johnnygl

            This might be the best example. It’s not about problem solving. It’s about being SEEN to be solving problems

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > focus on protesting consistently (yesterday, today and tomorrow) and universally

        Exactly, especially universally.

        When liberal Democrats no longer signal, by their silence and failure to focus, that it’s OK for working class families in the flyover states to be destroyed — which includes increased mortality for the young, something I would imagine comes under the heading of “family separation,” although at the border of life and death — I’ll take them seriously on this issue. As of now, they have no moral standing whatever.

    5. todde

      SOLIDARITY – when you need my help.

      TINA – when I need your help.

      It’s not going to work like that anymore. It’s time you realize that.

      Go get ’em. I’ll be smoking a boro.

    6. Katniss Everdeen

      While your’re “organizing” to “protect” these children, maybe you could spare a second to remember the 40 million american children who are “food insecure” in THIS country. You know, the ones sleeping in their cars and being rousted by leos, or swabbing elementary school floors to retire their “lunch debt.” Or the ones growing up in the gang infested, violent, abandoned areas of cities like Chicago and Baltimore, only to be incarcerated for large portions of their already miserable lives if they manage to exist long enough.

      Maybe you could reflect for a moment on your “organized” silence when the apostle hillary clinton, as secretary of state, turned her back on Hondurans and tacitly supported the brutal coup from which many of these “children” are fleeing.

      And if the idea of tent cities are your bitch, perhaps you could ponder, however fleetingly, the Jordanian tent cities in which Middle Easterners have lived for years after having their “human rights” defended for them by the paragons of virtue in washington, d.c.

      How on earth could this NOT be virtue-signaling????

      And what level of insanity is it that leads to the expectation that a country that so abjectly abuses its own children would treat those of another country any differently?

      These things have been going on for years. Donald Trump has laid it bare. There are no clinton or obama skirts to hide behind now. You reap what you sow. So “organize” away, but do it with the realization that the time to have put a stop to it was when the “good guys” were doing it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > While you’re “organizing” to “protect” these children, maybe you could spare a second to remember the 40 million american children who are “food insecure” in THIS country


      2. KB

        Thank you Katniss!…..
        It is so shocking to me how many have no outrage for our own citizens plight for so long. yet outrage at what is going on at the border…Thank you again…
        In my 66 years I could tell you how little support I got from my fellow Americans dealing with betrayal of our country…..
        Retired DC, wife of Vietnam Vet, mother of disabled son and survived a catastrophic work comp injury of husband…and more….Geesh
        What do we call this?….

      3. Filiform Radical

        These things have been going on for years. Donald Trump has laid it bare. There are no clinton or obama skirts to hide behind now. You reap what you sow. So “organize” away, but do it with the realization that the time to have put a stop to it was when the “good guys” were doing it.

        More than that, I think there has to be some sort of guarantee that people will keep organizing once the “good guys” are back in power. To me, this whole wave of outrage on the issue seems designed to support the narrative that Trump is somehow uniquely awful and to blame for all kinds of societal problems which predate him, and if we just vote some Democrats into office everything will be okay. Inasmuch as participating in these protests and getting up in arms about the issue now encourages people to buy into this, it may genuinely do more harm than good to the supposed beneficiaries.

    7. Lambert Strether Post author

      > wow- children are being put into prisons, really concentration camps, and all lambert can think of is Obama is not getting his share of the blame.

      Surely you must see that’s a wild distortion of my position. It’s really sad to see people lose their minds over this. That is, perhaps, the most vile aspect of campaigns like this; the professionals who organize them really ought to have millstones put round their necks and be thrown into the ocean.

      Pragmatically, I’m not a fan of this brand of Democrat politics, which is what this moral panic is, and all that it is. If I were an accelerationist, I’d recommend that Democrats double down on it.

      NOTE “There is such a thing as being blinded by rage.” How true. Since ad hominems are against site policy, I can hardly think this was directed at me personally.

    8. marym

      This is a general reply to the post and to several comments in the thread, not just points raised by dcblogger, with whom I’m mostly in agreement on this issue.

      For the Dem establishment the advantage of Russia!/Putin! is that it’s only about Trump. Once the focus turns to issues, there’s the need to confront (or avoid) the evils of Dem/Obama policy.

      Though anecdotal, on twitter there’s at least some acknowledgment of the history of deportations and detentions during the Obama administration. The ACLU project getting attention right now (link) addresses immigration issues from 2009-2014.

      It’s right to note the opportunism of the Dems, and the danger they pose of neutralizing any movement, but also not totally fair to say there was no activism during the Obama years. The Dreamers and the May Day marches in Chicago come to mind. There are many groups throughout the country that work on immigration issues. As with demonstrations around the Muslim ban, protest actions can happen quickly in multiple locations not just because indivisibles become visible, because there are already existing networks of long-time immigration and civil rights activists.

      There are differences though, with Trump and his appointees (that have also been bubbling around the among the Republicans for some time) that may result in different subset of people becoming aware or active.

      One is white supremacy as an explicit national agenda.

      Another is that Trump and his appointees respond to nearly every issue with some combination of violence, cruelty, neglect, deprivation, and vengeance. They haven’t proposed a single constructive policy, that would be of material benefit to ordinary people, even the white ones, even just the dropping of crumbs.

      It’s important to acknowledge that in the demagoguery and the policy choices of Trumpworld there are specific dangers that must be specifically countered.

      Also, I wouldn’t call it “virtue signaling” but it’s also unfair to present the choice as between harsh, violent treatment of immigrants, snd low wages for non-recent-immigrant workers. Trump/Sessions/Miller have offered nothing to workers.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > It’s right to note the opportunism of the Dems, and the danger they pose of neutralizing any movement, but also not totally fair to say there was no activism during the Obama years.

        I don’t recall saying this.

        > They haven’t proposed a single constructive policy, that would be of material benefit to ordinary people, even the white ones, even just the dropping of crumbs.

        True. At least some Democrats are paying lip service to #MedicareForAll, I’ll grant you that. So that’s progress of a sort.

        I would also like to see some kind of policy outcome proposed by the factions engineering all this. Suppose we do what is needful to eliminate the bipartisan policy of separating children from their parents at the border. Technically, although perhaps not politically, that should be easy to do. Is that all there is? Do liberal Democrats want to abolish ICE? (I think that’s a good idea). Do liberal Democrats want open borders? I think that’s where their moral claims lead them, but so far as I can tell, they are not willing to be led there. So what do they want? A “path to citizenship”? Lots of devilish details there, and what is to be done with those who cannot go down that path? Do we deport them? So what happens when the yammering and guilt-tripping dies down? What’s the policy solution? The silence is notable, here and elsewhere.

        1. marym

          Sorry if the comment about Dems neutralizing movements seemed directed specifically at your post. It’s something discussed here at times, and seems a relevant factor sorting out who’s doing what in the current situation.

          I didn’t say the Democrats are for progress – but they do drop the occasional crumb. That allows their followers some room to defend them, but Trump followers don’t have that particular defense.

          Agree totally about the lack of policy proposals from the visible indivisibles. However, on this and other issues there are activists who do have policy proposals – about policing tactics, civil liberties, keeping families together, alternatives to incarceration, robust jobs programs, etc. that would address some of the issues posed by immigration.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > the comment about Dems neutralizing movements

            They have, with Black Lives Matter (though they took a different route with Occupy). And to be fair, I did strongly speculate they’d do it again.

            Yes, the activists will have policy solutions. And the fact that the solutions aren’t at the forefront of discussion shows who’s driving this, and it’s not them. To me, this raises again the question of what the Democrat Party is, institutionally.

            1. Eureka Springs

              Dems neutralizing movements

              A movement designed from the get-go to do no more than virtue signal is a way of neutralizing sincere movements. Sort of a self-kettling.

            2. JTMcPhee

              What the Dem party is, institutionally?

              A racket, as ought to be clear from all the bits posted here over the last many years.

              “Now kiss my ring, and you shall have your corruption “

      2. Fiery Hunt

        I like your answer, Mary but do have one quibble…

        The re-write of tax policy and the negation of the Obamacare Individual Mandate are the first 2 federal policies to benefit me personally in my entire adult life. As a self-employed middle aged guy, that means Trump (and the Repugs) have done more for me than the any president or Congress in the last 30 years.

        And I can’t stand the guy.
        But I can’t stand the other guys (and girls) either.

        1. Arizona Slim

          And this self-employed middle-ager agrees with you.

          Wanna know something else? My business is doing great these days! Better than it has been since, oh, 2009.

          Trump supporter? Nope. But I do admire his “take no shhhh off-a nobody” demeanor.

      3. dcblogger

        There are differences though, with Trump and his appointees (that have also been bubbling around the among the Republicans for some time) that may result in different subset of people becoming aware or active.

        One is white supremacy as an explicit national agenda.

        Another is that Trump and his appointees respond to nearly every issue with some combination of violence, cruelty, neglect, deprivation, and vengeance. They haven’t proposed a single constructive policy, that would be of material benefit to ordinary people, even the white ones, even just the dropping of crumbs.

        It’s important to acknowledge that in the demagoguery and the policy choices of Trumpworld there are specific dangers that must be specifically countered.

        Also, I wouldn’t call it “virtue signaling” but it’s also unfair to present the choice as between harsh, violent treatment of immigrants, snd low wages for non-recent-immigrant workers. Trump/Sessions/Miller have offered nothing to workers.

        said it better than I could ever hope to.

    9. Byron the Light Bulb

      What dcblogger says is so true, it stings doesn’t? Leveling up the cruelty of the Japanese internment camps is literal sadism orchestrated by an administration “en llamas” to perk-up a Commander in Chief contemplating what Leavenworth would be like in the throes of steep cognitive decline. I guess rainbows really are circular, the ends of the spectrum do meet, and this is the Alt-Left.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Well, I don’t feel stung, because after thirteen years of writing daily on politics I have a hide like a rhinoceros. But thanks for waving your pom-poms and sharing your content-free feelings!

      2. perpetualWAR

        Where were you and all the protesters when millions of US families (incl children) were thrown from their family home in last decade?
        You were NOWHERE.
        I guess immigrant children matter while US children don’t?

      3. Big River Bandido

        Leveling up the cruelty of the Japanese internment camps is literal sadism orchestrated by an administration “en llamas” to perk-up a Commander in Chief contemplating what Leavenworth would be like in the throes of steep cognitive decline. I guess rainbows really are circular…

        I have a hard time following this comment. Is it a quote from Mother of Us All?

  3. Jim Haygood

    “Justice” in Cuomo’s one-party peoples republic:

    President Donald Trump on Thursday was sued by New York’s attorney general for alleged unlawful political conduct and other allegedly illegal actions by his Trump Foundation.

    The lawsuit, which charges the president by name as well as his children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric, alleges “improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations or to implement even elementary corporate formalities required by law.”


    If it’s true, litigate. But where is New York’s suit against the hundred times larger Clinton Foundation, which raked in tens of millions from foreign governments currying favor with the expected next president [bribery], put daughter Chelsea on the payroll at an inflated six-figure salary [self-dealing], and wrote off Bill’s extensive booty runs international travel as a charitable expense [self-dealing; fraud]?

    Andrew “Scarface” Cuomo is deeply in bed with the Clintons in exchange for a campaign endorsement, so he’s not interested in their broad-daylight racketeering which constituted the largest case of influence peddling in US history, laundering some two billion [with a ‘b’] dollars total in a kind of tax-exempt, no-donation-limit, eight-year shadow campaign.

    1. Scott

      I’m in almost complete agreement. Didn’t the Clinton Foundation also accept money from foreign governments while paying supplemental income to Clinton’s aides while she was Secretary of State?

      I have a rule about foundations. If they are named after a person, we should not make any distinctions between the activities them. That is if the John Smith Foundation knowingly provides poisoned milk to impoverished children we should treat it the same as if John Smith provides it.

      1. Jim Haygood

        It was Huma Abedin, simultaneously working for State Dept, Clinton Foundation and Doug Band’s Teneo.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Andrew Cuomo’s deep indebtedness (or as you put it, in-bed-ed-ness) goes back a long, long way. He was nominated by Bill Clinton to be one of the assistant secretaries at HUD in 1993. At the time, many saw it as a way of the Clintons tamping down the antipathy from the Cuomos. 25 years later, that ploy seems to have worked. The younger Cuomo is the perfect sycophant.

    3. FreeMarketApologist

      The lawsuit was probably a work in progress under Eric Schneiderman, who was no friend of Cuomo’s, and who got a fair chunk of change out of banks for various wrongdoings. Following his recent booting for assault claims, Barbara Underwood has now been confirmed as AG, but has said she won’t run when her term is up, so will only serve out the remainder of 2018.

      It would be nice to see a matching suit filed against the Clinton Foundation. (And in fact, lots of these type of organizations should get put under the microscope. The opportunities for tax evasion and self dealing are abundant.)

      1. Kokuanani

        Where IS the Clinton Foundation these days? It was in the press non-stop before the election, and now, crickets.

        I know there’s no “influence” to be gained from contributing to it, since Hillary lost, but happened to all those big bucks and “initiatives”?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Probably biding its time while waiting to see if the Precious Golden Brat Chelsea can be elected to National Office and make selling influence lucrative again.

          Or if Hillary can become Queen Elder Stateswoman, Kingmaker and Maker of Kings . . . which could make the Foundation at least a little bit lucrative again.

  4. Mark Gisleson

    Re: Oliver Willis (who I remember as a cherub-faced prodigy introducted to the left side of the internet by Markos Moulitsas during his Great Orange Satan phase). I love Lambert’s take.

    Is there any kind of list of former/current bloggers/social media activists employed by David Brock?

    I’ve read everything I can on Brock’s work, but actual lists of who he’s coopted seem to be very hard to come by.

      1. jsn

        Amity Shlaes and Seth Lipsky, New York authors I know who in the 90s when the internet was new included in their online bios their association with AEI, Cato, Heartland and other Koch funded entities, in the early oughts scrubbed all of this from their online presence.

        Their specialization continues to be the production of counter histories of the New Deal where everything that went right for the US between 1932 and 1968 was despite Roosevelt and the New Deal, not because of it, but with the success of the Supreme Court coup de etat in 2000 and 18 years of pure bipartisan Neo-Liberalism they’ve become less shy about their associations, though the nefarious Heartland is still absent from their wiki pages.

        When you are paid for your views, maintaining the right appearances is more affordable and of course who is paying you is to gauche to mention.

        1. jonhoops

          Perhaps someone should add it to their Wiki pages. :-) I wonder how well they police their entries.

    1. Louis Fyne

      the City of Chicago essentially gave Elon the greenlight for a private toll road and sounds like gave away the land rights on the cheap.

      I think that the media hasn’t really thought through the implications. but i guess that’s the Chicago Way?

    2. Pavel

      This scheme is complete BS as anyone will realise after giving it 10 minutes thought. It is just more distraction from the P.T. Barnum of our age, Elon Musk.

      I watched the 60 second “demonstration video” that the Chicago Tribune linked to. It is just a rehash of what Boring is promising in LA to whisk people around underground. It wouldn’t work there and it is even sillier when applied to airport transit.

      The article states it would carry “up to 2000 people per hour in each direction.” For the sake of easier maths we’ll say 1800, i.e. 30 per minute (!). Those little pods in the video hold about 20 but let’s say 30. Thus every minute in both directions:

      –30 people will board each pod and somehow have a ticket checked and go through security (the latter is clearly essential).

      –they may check heavier baggage before the pod but will have their carry-on luggage to cope with. Anyone who has been to an airport in the last decade knows what that looks like and how it slows things down

      –Musk will need the software and track logistics to deliver the pods to different terminals

      –the video shows the pods automagically descending and ascending into the tubes, which will add more time

      –all this for a quoted price of “$1 billion” which is absolutely ludicrous. Musk can’t even produce a $35K car for a profit

      Am I being stupid here or is this just a complete non-starter?

      1. RMO

        If only there was a city center airport in Chicago that could potentially handle regional flights in small airliners and take some of the traffic load that currently requires a long commute just to get to the airport.

        Oh, right…

        1. Jeff Fisher

          It is idiotic to build airports in city centers. Ohare and Midway are both 45 minutes away from downtown by train, which is about the correct distance.

    1. Jim Haygood

      More off-the-record emails:

      The inspector general’s report said there were “numerous instances in which Comey used a personal email account to conduct unclassified FBI business.”

      “Stop it,” tweeted Jennifer Palmieri, who was director of communications for Clinton’s 2016 White House campaign. She also applauded a tweet that read “E-male. It’s fine for them. Not for us.”


      The logic thing rather eludes young Jennifer. The IG is criticizing Comey’s infraction, which broke the same rules that Hillary broke. It’s too late to fire Hillary, though. :-(

      Now if we can just ferret out Comey’s address — I’m guessing something like manlyweasel@gmail.com

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Epic battle for the soul of America. Some awaited the release of the IG report as if something, anything, would result. Nope. Congress, in other words you and I, are not even allowed to see what’s been going on, let alone do anything about it. Cuomo prosecutes the Trump charity while Hilary’s CBMOLIPS (Couldn’t Be More Obvious Lawbreaking In Plain Sight) has a permanent Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card. Destruction of evidence? No problem. Mishandling of Top Secret information? Don’t worry, her maid in Chappaqua didn’t read the docs she printed out. Illegal siphoning of campaign funds? Pfft. Counterfeiting to a FISA court to cancel an election result? Hey it was Her Turn.

        Screw an election for president, elections were designed to select the people that run the country. Let’s have elections for the FBI instead, these other fools (presidents, Senators, Congressmen) are just powerless figureheads.

        Q: What do you have if your country has no rule of law?
        A: Nothing.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Prolly nothing. Just like the “insurance policy” thingy.

      I’d imagine in a day or two we’ll find out that that kind of talk is just some sort of me-tarzan-you-jane, extramarital fbi mating ritual.

  5. Jim Haygood

    More on the Argentine truckers strike today:

    The deputy secretary of the truckers’ union, Pablo Moyano, confirmed today that workers in the sector will carry out a new 48-hour strike on June 26 and 27 if they do not obtain a salary increase of 27%.

    That strike will be in the two days following the general strike called by the CGT for June 25th, so cargo transport would be paralyzed for 72 hours, which could generate shortages in some areas.

    Moyano asked the Government of Mauricio Macri to grant “freedom of action” to employers represented by a federation of cargo transporters to improve their salary offer of 15%.

    According to the trade union leader, it’s the government that won’t allow employers to improve their offer, given that it imposed a “ceiling” of 15% for all unions in order to lower inflation expectations, which the financial market places at 27.1% for 2018.


    Moyano is likely correct in his perception that heels are dug in at the Casa Rosada. Under Argentina’s syndicalist system, modeled on the Italian economy of the 1940s, labor and management reach industry-wide pay deals under the government’s macroeconomic guidance and approval.

    Strangely the conservative press (La Nación, Clarín) is silent on the trucker’s strike, perhaps on the theory that ignoring it will make it go away.

  6. dcblogger

    To understand the blue tsunmai you have to look at Virginia 2017, where Democrats won a net gain of 15 House of Delegate seats (in a chamber with a total of 100). The energy for that did not come from Washington, DC or even Richmond, it was totally ground up. It was Indivisible, Our Revolution, DSA, Competitive Commonwealth, Progressive Democrats of America, and a bunch of others. In the 2018 we are seeing same thing, only on a national scale, and with new players like Let America Vote, dedicated to fighting voter suppression.

    Looking to Rothenberg and Cook on the 2018 midterms is like asking Guizot and Metternich for the inside scoop on 1848. They are the poeple getting overthrown.

    1. Carey

      If this “blue tsunami” comes this November, would it be a good thing, and if so, for whom?

      1. dcblogger

        It would a dramatic demonstration that in your face racism and sexism are not, in fact, socially acceptable. It would demonstrate that 2016 was a fluke of the Electoral College and you cannot insult your way to power. That would be a check on on the trolls that have been empowered by Trump and relief for those who have been the targets of their cruelty.

        It would put the fear of God into Republicans and it would set the stage for passing Medicare for All and a bunch of other goodies in 2020.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          No. It wouldn’t.

          If even some of the Blue Wavers are merely Clintonite 2.0 Catfood Democrats, the lesson the Republicans will learn is to find a kinder gentler Trump who won’t insult people, who will use clever guard-lowering language like “compassionate conservatism” or “hope and change” or “change we can believe in” or something like that.

        2. Carey

          What I’ve consistently noticed is that the Democrats’ anti-racism and
          anti-sexism is a *substitute* for policy that might ever benefit the many.

          Let me know when they combine said advocacy with full-blooded
          support for H.R.676 Medicare for All, and for a decent living wage
          for all Americans.

        3. Lambert Strether Post author

          I think it’s a mistake to conflate socialists who didn’t take DCCC money like Lee Carter in VA (or radical reformers like Larry Krasner in Philadelphia) with Indivisible candidates, given that Indivisible (for example) opposes #MedicareForAll. Liberal and left are not a continuum. They are, in fact, diametrically opposed, those their uneasy co-habitation in the Democrat Party conceals this. (How I wish “They have no place to go” applied to Joe Manchin.

          > Looking to Rothenberg and Cook on the 2018 midterms is like asking Guizot and Metternich for the inside scoop on 1848. They are the poeple getting overthrown.

          This is silly. The candidates on the ballots are who they are. The OR/DSA types are the closest we have to revolutionaries running for office, there aren’t enough of them, and there aren’t enough of them tough enough. Maybe 2020.

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > It would a dramatic demonstration that in your face racism and sexism are not, in fact, socially acceptable.

          If you believe that liberal Democrats do not, in fact, reinforce systemic racism, and if you’re comfortable with the brand of professional feminism they espouse. I think “in your face” is doing rather a lot of work in that sentence.

          1. JohnnyGL

            > It would a dramatic demonstration that in your face racism and sexism are not, in fact, socially acceptable.

            That’s the preferred narrative of CNN’s pundit crew.

            We Americans prefer the subtle racism of untreated sewage causing hookworm outbreaks in low-income areas in Lownes County Alabama….or maybe the elevated lead levels in more than a dozen cities scattered across the nations!!!

            That’s the kind of racism we’re comfortable with…not this ‘in your face’ stuff with people calling countries ‘$h!tholes’. But bombing those countries to make them $h!tholes is absolutely fine!!! Just don’t add insult to injury. Injury is fine, though. Lots….and lots of injuries are fine.

    2. SufferinSuccotash

      And it was Guizot who allegedly said in response to demands for a wider suffrage, “get rich, then you can vote.”
      Good times!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Maybe. Note that Our Revolution + DSA and Indivisible are diametrically opposed on policy, so if the outcome is as you say, the resulting conflict should be interesting.

      1. dcblogger

        remember when Democrats took back the house and Senate in 2006 and lefty blogosphere fell apart? this will be worse. So Sanders big problem will be responding to that.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          My guess would be that Sanders has bigger issues to deal with than responding to catfights at dailykos and huffpo.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            It was more important than that. The dream of the blogosphere circa 2003 – 2004 was to replace the media, not to get bought out by it. It should have happened then, it should happen now…

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > lefty blogosphere fell apart

          It didn’t fall apart, it was destroyed. Some were bought out (like our good friend and Brock hireling Oliver Willis, to whom I linked for his views on immigration) and some were not.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        The Democrat establishment ignores non-federal elections for the most part. As a result, progressive groups are able to get their choices through the primaries. It’s only when you’re talking Congress critters the DNC/DCCC/DSCC triumvirate rears its plutocrat-loving head and starts shoving ex-Republicans and Blue Dog/New Dems down the voters’ craws.

        The one hopeful possibility is that (a) the Dems will flip the House and (b) enough of those elected will be of the progressive persuasion they can swing things in the correct direction, even if only a little. They will still have a problem if the Senate remains in Libertarian, er, Republican hands, but a foothold is better than hanging by your fingertips.

        I also think people are so caught up in how the media paints Trump they aren’t aware that one of the best ways to get him to do something you want done is to make him think it was his idea. The other is to tell him he can’t do it. Frankly, I suspect that’s why we have at least the start of a decent arrangement with the DPRK—all those Democrats and pundits screaming at him was all but perfectly designed to make Trump do exactly what he did. If we can get them to keep it up, we may actually finally end the Korean War.

  7. Jim Haygood

    “In addition to being on Mrs. Clinton’s personal payroll [at the State Department], Ms. Abedin received money from the Clinton Foundation and Teneo, a consulting firm co-founded by Douglas J. Band, a former senior aide to Mr. Clinton.”


    “Higher-level officials in the executive branch may not have outside earned income which exceeds 15% of the official salary earned by a level II on the Executive Schedule.”


    Any reasonable prosecutor …” etc.

    1. Pavel

      Huma was so clearly at the heart of the Clinton Foundation pay-for-play operation — how on earth could it be ethical for her to work those three jobs at the same time?

      The consolation is that it was her decision to stand by her sexual predator husband (as HRC did her own) after his first sexting scandal [see the fly-on-the-wall documentary about his doomed NYC mayoral campaign] and then the discovery by the FBI of the Weiner laptop emails that probably doomed Hillary’s campaign in the final week.

      May they all burn in hell. Greed, corruption, dishonesty, hypocrisy. And the Clinton Sludge Foundation was at the core.

  8. Code Name D

    Rest asured, Berny will not be aloud to run in 2020. Last week, while the rule committee contiues to sit on reducing super deligates, they passed a rule that only “Democrats” can run for the nomination. (And taking Bernee-crats by suprise).

    It didn’t take long for the rule to be walked back, with clames being made it’s part of a comprmize for eliminating super deligates. But this appeared to be news to Berni-crats though, adding to the reak of the rules change.

    So its looking like the dems will rig the system to block Berne from running at all, thinking this pave the way for Kama Harris, or dare I say it, a second Clintion run.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      It’ll be Joe “#MeToo” Biden versus Mike “Rapture-Man” Pence.

      Those asking the question “how will it ever be conceivable to have a worse U.S. president than we have now?” will have their answer

      1. Code Name D

        Gasp!!!!! Those darn Russians!! They must have helpped Obama win the primary! How else can the most qualified canidate lose three tumes in a row!

    2. dcblogger

      it will not be within their power to stop him. that is what makes a revolution a revolution.

        1. Code Name D

          The dont have to “stop him”, they just have to make him appear “unelectable”. And not having DNC suppert might do that.

          The can also cripple him in other ways, such as denying him the VAN data.

        2. Tony Wright

          Times may be with him.
          Many financial pundits are tipping the mother of all financial crashes due to the end of the much patched and artificially overinflated “everything bubble” which constitutes global debt-fuelled financial markets of nearly every colour nowadays. Let alone the vast array of highly leveraged financial derivatives which have proliferated further since the last financial crisis. 2019 or2020 seems the consensus average estimated time of crisis arrival
          “Screw the System, it isn’t working” will become an even more compelling argument in 2020 than it was in 2016, which resulted in Trump.
          This should make any well organised social revolutionary electorally attractive; even the 5star movement got elected in Italy, so anything is possible.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the Sanderistas fight back every day in every way, they can at least force the Catfood Democrats to defend this Rigging 2.0 in the broad light of day. It may result in the Catfood Democrats being even more deeply hated by even more people.

      The Sanderistas can then make a point of endorsing Real Democrats only, and letting Catfood Democrats flounder along with their Catfood Clintonite base supporters. The Sanderistas can keep building their movement till it is so big and has so many non-compromising officeholders . . . ” Red Gingriches” if you will . . . that they will have to find a broader, less personalized name for their movement than Sanderistas. Sanders wouldn’t mind that at all.

      ( I have decided, or maybe just realized, that Catfood Democrat is a better name for all various flavor of DLC Clintocreep than ” Fake Democrat”).

  9. ppp

    “Association of Long-Term Risk of Respiratory, Allergic, and Infectious Diseases With Removal of Adenoids and Tonsils in Childhood”
    My father had his tonsils removed as a kid, (1950’s) I think he said they ‘treated’ him with radiation after, which probably gave him the thyroid cancer he developed later on life. At least he got to eat a ton of ice cream after the surgery, hey.

    1. Elizabeth

      I had both my tonsils and adenoids removed as a kid, for no reason other than having a lot of sore throats. My mother always suspected the surgery had something to do with my respiratory issues that started soon after and continued throughout my life. It was the “surgery du jour” at the time, but I’m glad the docs have finally figured this out – it was the over-treatment of the day. Not much has changed, since the U.S. medical system over-treats people today.

      Also, regarding the supply lines for hospitals today – I’m not shocked about that with everything else that goes on in hospitals. A relative and I were comparing notes about hospitals, and I told her I thought the hosp. I was in was short-staffed on nurses. My relative (an RN) stated that if they tell patients they’re short-staffed, they are immediately terminated. It’s anecdotal, but I wonder how many hospitals have this policy. . My advice – stay away if you can..

  10. dcblogger

    New York Assembly PASSES Single Payer New York Health Act 86-42 (self.Political_Revolution)

    submitted an hour ago by shastapete

    This is the 4th year in a row for the Assembly to pass this bill. Each year it has died in the Republican controlled State Senate.


    One of many reasons the donor community wants Cuomo to continue to insure that Republicans continue to control the Senate. If Cyntha Nixon wins NY will get single payer.

  11. Lambert Strether Post author

    > My relative (an RN) stated that if they tell patients they’re short-staffed, they are immediately terminated. It’s anecdotal, but I wonder how many hospitals have this policy.


    1. Synoia

      They should all say it, repeatedly, in Unison, in Harmony and Antiphonally!

      With apologies to Queen:

      Is this the real life?
      Is this just fantasy?
      Caught in a nightmare,
      No escape from tyranny.

      Open your eyes,
      Look up to managers and see,
      I’m just overworked, boy, I see austerity,
      Because I’m easy come, easy go,
      Overworked, little low,
      Any way the wind blows kills those who matter to me, to me.

  12. allan

    Yellowstone superintendent officially learned of dismissal through press release [The Hill]

    Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk found out he was officially being replaced by the Trump administration when he saw a press release announcing the news.

    A little later Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke tweeted photos of the man replacing him, Cameron Sholly, meeting with members of Congress.

    In an interview with The Hill on Wednesday, Wenk said he still hasn’t had his calls returned by Interior or National Park Service management about when his last day will be, or when Sholly will take over. …

    Of course, posting the link is virtue signalling on my part,
    since NPS superintendents were fired this way all the time during the Obama administration … oh, wait …

  13. Darthbobber

    Good of Schmidt to start his tweet with “Once upon a time”. Speeds up genre identification

    1. Synoia

      One upon a time
      there was a family of evil
      underhanded trolls,
      who wanted nohting
      more than
      Dont! Do Evil!

      And Evil the did
      all over the land.

      Snippets here and
      snippets there,
      sold to the king,
      without any care

  14. Synoia

    Control of the House could still flip, indeed, but I continue to insist that for these Democrats, it’s a heavy lift.

    We trued, we tried!! We fought for you, we fought really hard for you. But…..

    Yes fought against Trump, and for the status quo. Or should I write $tatus quo?

    1. edmondo

      Twenty-three Republicans sit in districts carried by Hillary Clinton.

      That’s because Hillary Clinton in 2016 was the embodiment of the status quo. Trump was the de facto “outsider”. By 2018, Trump had become the standard Republican president – pro-tax cuts, anti-regulations and pro-MIC – in two years he’s turned his image 180 degrees.

      Targeting districts where Hillary did well is exactly the wrong approach and is going to result in another two years of Minority Leader Pelosi. If the Democrats REALLY wanted to win they would be targeting the districts where Trump did best in 2016 and remind these people that Trump hasn’t drained the swamp, he’s become a standard swamp creature.

  15. Jeff W

    “Liberals Are Criticizing the Korea Summit From the Right. Here’s Why They Have it All Wrong.” [In These Times]

    Here’s the link.

  16. ewmayer

    Re. Transportation: “Elon Musk’s Boring Co. Wins Chicago Airport High-Speed Train Bid” [Bloomberg]

    “The project is unusual in that no government funding is involved” … yet. Give it a couple of years of actual construction work in which Mr. Musk will likely learn a similar “this stuff is harder in reality than it was in my mind” lesson as he is experiencing with respect to mass production of high-quality automobiles on a tight schedule and for reasonable cost, and I expect those cost estimates to soar.

    Rahm and Elon … from one GrifterBro to another!

    Tangential: Elon Musk buys $25 million in Tesla stock amid layoffs | MarketWatch

    So now we know what’s been goosing the shares in the last couple of weeks.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “How to Lose the Midterms and Re-elect Trump”

    Liked that article. It was like a clear, cool splash of reality – and it appeared in the New York Times of all places!

  18. JohnnyGL


    Republican donor wants their cheap labor and will throw a fit until they get it!!! Do note where he’s taking his money!

    Corporate Dems: Welcome aboard! And a very special welcome to the checks that you’re cutting.

    Left: Wait a sec, what’s going on here?

    Trump Swing Voters: Yes! This is why we pushed Trump to victory over the Repub establishment.

  19. Synoia

    Tough cases could be debated collectively; policies could be weighed and changed by the community. The scale of the forum made self- government possible. But as these platforms have grown, traditional community management has become increasingly untenable.”

    So maybe if we broke up the ginormous social media monopolies, community moderation could re-appear? To put this another way, perhaps the test for “too big” should be scaling beyond community moderation. I wonder if anybody could reduce that concept to a legal theory.

    Yes absolutely. The applicable Legal Theory is Governance of the Commons aka Elected Government.

    This time with safeguards by funding elections form and by the commons.

    That is one person one vote, not one dollar one vote.

  20. Summer

    Re: Unemployment state funds

    No worry. If the unemployment funds are 0, then nobody applies and the “experts” can write over and over again how great the economy is because the unemployment rate is 0%. Where would be without the “experts” and their “official” stats?

  21. Jeff W

    This crowd claimed that ObamaCare was universal long after it was obviously not…

    Well, the whole frame of ObamaCare was exactly that: to muddy up the “universal” issue, to confuse “guaranteed issue”—where health insurance was “universally” available to anyone—really, anyone who could pay the premium—without regard to health status—with actual health care, which is pretty much what people in every other advanced country can expect to get.

    1. Eureka Springs

      We’ll have to pass the bill to see what’s in it. – Speaker Pelosi on PPACA

  22. chuck roast

    So, I’m a little old and a little slow. Maybe, you can help me here.
    Yves has a post about how the SEC has awaken from it’s prolonged slumber and determined that corporate share buy-backs (which used to be illegal) are now a probable concern because of potential manipulation. Richter, in his usual fabulously fun breathless manner informs us that the FANGMAN stocks, as he calls them, Facebook, Amazon and the usual suspects “…are massive share buyback queens” and are distorting the market.
    My question is, what is the purpose of the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse line chart. Is it what we used to call back in the day ‘a goof’? Simple, irrational nonsense?
    I’m willing to be the good-humored butt of the joke here.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      “Simple, irrational nonsense”?

      Why yes, yes it is…but not on Naked Capitalism’s part.

      The line chart is those stocks daily quotes.

      Think of it as an observational illustration of both a) the absolute frenzy of institutions and investors to chase the gold and b) of the growing power of these monopolistic corporations.

  23. Jessica

    Lambert: “Do liberal Democrats want open borders? I think that’s where their moral claims lead them, but so far as I can tell, they are not willing to be led there.”
    I think that there is a profound moral conundrum here. Unless one is a nationalist or religionist or the like, there is no moral basis for not keeping people out. On the other hand, any first world country that opened its borders completely would receive much higher levels of immigration than it could conceivably handle, on the order of hundreds of millions of people or more.
    I don’t see that there is any good solution here and I don’t fully trust any discussion or policy that doesn’t acknowledge both sides of this conundrum.

    1. Jessica

      there is no moral basis for not keeping people out. ->
      there is no moral basis for keeping people out.

      Sorry about the editing mistake.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        We don’t need a moral basis for keeping people out. A material basis is good enough and we have the material basis.

        ” We got a good thing going and we don’t need no more people to come in here and muscle in on our racket, see?”

        Now . . . American Indians have always been considered avatars of pure morality. And the Indian Nations tried to keep White Settlers out of their Indian National Lands. What was their “moral basis”? Well . . . it was Their Land. They didn’t cause the Europeans to have a bad life in Europe and the Indians had no obligation to solve the Europeans’ problems at Indian expense.

    2. sleepy

      Many of those 1st world nations have substantially contributed to the immigration and/or refugee problems. Nafta helped destroy Mexican agriculture. The population dislocation caused by wars in Libya and Syria constitute the bulk of immigration to Europe. The wars and coups that the US has facilitated in Central America have accelerated movement to the US. The list could go on.

      I agree with you that nations cannot afford unlimited immigration and that immigration presents moral issues. However if the 1st world were serious about immigration and alleviating human misery it would address those root causes. Many would rather address the immediate problems of families being torn apart, etc.–which is certainly to be condemned–instead of looking in the mirror at the real causes which might be more challenging on a personal and political level.

      For example, it is hypocritical to solely condemn Trump’s immigration policies while failing to condemn Nafta.

      1. Jessica

        You are correct that some of the immigration problem has been caused by the First World, for example US violence in Central America and the invasion of Iraq and destruction of the Libyan state, Soviet, US, Indian, and Pakistani interventions in Afghanistan.
        However, even without those, there would still be a huge number of 3rd world people in enough misery that migrating to the 1st world is appealing.
        Dealing with the root causes is beyond the capacity of current 1st world regimes and any capitalist replacements. We will need to be far more politically and morally mature to start getting at the root causes.

    3. VietnamVet

      The free movement of people, goods, services and capital is the basic ideology of Empire (the new world order). It unifies globalists. It benefits the top 10% greatly. It stopped the 1970’s wage inflation dead. If a concern fits within their ideology and makes the credentialed feel better, it becomes virtual signaling with each other.

      The conundrum is that humans evolved in warring tribes. Humans have empathy for the extended family but not outsiders, the others. The homeless are the cost of the success of globalism. They are ignored by the successful. Children torn from nursing mothers becomes a cause but the coups, gangs, overpopulation and exploitation that ignited the migration in the first place are disregarded.

      1. ewmayer

        Well said, VV, but I would insert

        “The free movement of people, goods, services in service of capital…”

      2. Jessica

        You are right that the main motivation for renewed higher levels of immigration in the US (and in Europe) was to benefit the elites and to hurt the working classes.
        Humans did evolve with a limited range of compassion. However, that range has expanded a great deal over the course of cultural evolution. From small band to tribe to broader regional coalitions. The last clear expansion was the emergence of nationalism, which extended the sense of “Us” over a broader range than the regionalisms it replaced. Eventually, we need to expand again so that our sense of “Us” includes everyone.
        Some parts of the global elite like to pretend that what they are doing is this broader inclusiveness. Of course, that Chinese elites and American elites can work together to exploit ordinary Chinese and Americans is not a step forward, but to some extent they are able to cloak this narrow elite alliance in the virtue that would belong to a genuine global inclusiveness. At least in their own eyes and at least as long as they control the means of intellectual production.

      3. John Wright

        In a sense, a USA citizen worker crossing a union picket line to work has a similar effect of dampening wages (in this case union wages) that a newly arrived immigrant worker could for a non-union job.

        But that citizen worker crossing the union picket line is a scab, someone not viewed favorably by union workers, while the new non-union immigrant is simply “seeking a better life”.

        Both the scab and the immigrant could be viewed as “seeking a better life”.

        Here is one attempt at estimating how many people (138 million) would immigrate to the USA from the ROW


        It appears that at least some of these are economic immigrants.

        As far as the USA causing the immigration flows, it is the elite who push the wars and trade agreements but the immigrants are unlikely to reside in their neighborhoods or attend their children’s schools.

        And then the elite, who caused the immigration flows, benefit by having lower labor costs for their companies.

        Those that claim the USA immigration system is broken are not viewing from the perspective of those (the elite) who find it working just fine.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Unless one is a nationalist or religionist or the like, there is no moral basis for not keeping people out.

      If we lived in a world where there was truly an international working class movement to counterbalance (at the very least) globalist capital, then open borders might work. But we don’t live in that world, as the failure* of truckers in the US, Argentina, Brazil, and China to unify in jamming the supply chain shows. (They all have the same problems! Who could have known!)

      Therefore, we live in a world of nation states. Sadly, a nation-state curbed by the working class to deliver universal concrete material benefits a la the New Deal may be the best we can get. (A “better deal” would be a co-operative-driven nation state, where the working class really did control a big chunk of the means of production.)

      A corollary to accepting the necessity of a nation-state is that the nation-state gets to control its borders. (That’s true even you don’t go all sphincter-control obsessive on the topic, like many conservatives do.) This should be obvious, especially to the passport-possessing, international travelling professional classes who are the Democrat Party’s base. If I want Canadian health care, I don’t just get to waltz across the border and take advantage of it. If I just up and retire to Mexico, or any other country, without a visa, immigration, if they caught me, would put me on the next plane back, and so they should. (You can argue that we created refugees from Latin America through our own policies, and should take them as a matter of public policy, but the case discussed here is general immigration policy.) Why should the United States be exceptional in this regard? One might suspect, if one were cynical, that some sort of interest were at stake…

      In particular, a nation state that has been curbed to consider the interests of its own working class citizens should protect them against labor arbitrage. I think that’s moral. I understand that professionals in those famously productive and dynamic blue cities need maids to take care of their children and polish their granite counter-tops, and yardmen, too, and I understand that hog farmers, almond growers, and the construction industry want cheap labor also, but my concern is the working class (sadly) in this nation-state, and not the needs of our 10% or the globalizing 1%. Again, I think that’s moral. I understand that liberal Democrats are not concerned with the working class in this country — we are talking, at the very least, malign neglect (see Thomas Frank) — and that’s my main problem with them. Other people’s mileage may, and does, vary.

      NOTE * My labor sources aren’t that good. If readers have better information on this, please share

    5. marym

      The Sessions policy to detain all who show themselves at the boarder, separate babies and young children from their parents, put them in internment camps unprepared to care for them, with no plans or resources to expedite legal proceedings for parents or children, or for reunite families or even for let parents know where there kids are isn’t because he cares about US non-recent-immigrant workers.

      We also shouldn’t trust any discussion that doesn’t acknowledge the authoritarian and white supremacist side of the conundrum, that manifests itself in increasingly militant and cruel policies of banning, deportation, incarceration, disenfranchisement, and extreme policing tactics.

  24. Jessica

    Thank you for intelligently and correctly fixing my incorrect writing.
    “a nation state that has been curbed to consider the interests of its own working class citizens should protect them against labor arbitrage.”
    That protection would have to include banning outsourcing for the sake of tapping into low wages and less environmental protection. You know that. I am just putting this on the table.
    I do think there is a real moral quandary here, that is an ornery and scary one, and that the failure to face it, even if just to acknowledge its insolubility, is what makes much pro-immigration policy unwise and also infuriates those who want less immigration. Those who have want they see as a valid moral reason for restricting immigration, be that nationalism or whatever, are able to face this quandary. Because for them is not a quandary.
    “If we lived in a world where there was truly an international working class movement to counterbalance (at the very least) globalist capital, then open borders might work.”
    I doubt that even that would be enough. An international working class movement _in power_ could tackle the issue. Though it would still be hard.
    And you are correct to imply that it is our current capitalist order that is at the root of this moral quandary.

    1. jrs

      The moral quandary is probably ultimately that the U.S. uses way disproportionately more of the world’s resources than it has in population or anything else (as probably does most of the global north). But that’s not national class politics, a politics of interest and the working class should care about it’s interest – the wealthy damn sure do, at that point at all.

  25. JI

    I appreciate the wide ranging discussion regarding the root causes of, and possible solutions to, the issue of children being separated from their families at our borders.
    It goes without saying that the policy is beyond reprehensible and must be stopped for moral and humanitarian reasons.
    The discussion on virtue signaling befuddles me. The border/ immigration issue needs good policy, but the individual child simply needs relief. He/she needs relief today. If that relief can be effected by the voices of a host of hypocrites and virtual signalers, then I say, more power to them. The individual child and family doesn’t care. Some of the comments here bring to mind the church that remains empty as only the virtuous may sit in the pews and only the angels may sing in the choir.

    1. Yves Smith

      I don’t want to sound harsh, but the reason much of the outrage smacks of hypocrisy is that the US has done vastly worse things and many people who are up in arms over the separation of immigrant families did not even take notice. And as Lambert has pointed out, they are unwilling to engage in a serious way with remedies, let alone solutions. That means this looks like the outrage is to a significant degree about Trump, and not genuine humanitarianism.

      How many of the people who are up in arms about this episode said anything about how many children the US has killed and maimed and turned into orphans in the Middle East? Hint: it is at least two and probably more like three orders of magnitude more than the numbers here.


      In 2015, Greece ALONE took in over 800,000 immigrants. Most of them were held in camps that were no better and often worse than the conditions in which these immigrants are being held. The camps were typically outdoors. When the women weren’t separated, they were at risk of rape. There were often food shortages. And many children were unaccompanied…

      Here’s one story:

      The EU’s Moria refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos has been left in a ‘state of filth and fear – and one migrant said “we’ve gone from one hell to another.”

      Uniformed aid workers go home at sunset, leaving vulnerable refugees at the mercy of their campmates – and rape and violence is reportedly rife.

      Moria is one of Europe’s largest camps, with 5000 people now living there.

      The Sunday Times gained access to both the camp and refugees and the picture shames the EU.

      A refugee called Celine, 22, said: “The men come and they bother me.

      “They don’t leave me alone.

      “I’m scared here. It’s not safe.”

      A third of people at the camp are children, many crammed in tents and shipping containers, surrounded by barbed wire.

      There are only 120 lavatories and 75 showers for the refugees to share – and many women so fear being raped that they cannot use them.

      Hasna, from Northern Syria, said: “I never go to the toilet at night.

      “I shower with some water my son brings me…

      Camp residents have dug their own lavatories and the stench of sewage is thick.


      Another factoid: 16,524, or 72% of the children arriving in Europe as migrants in the first half of 2017 were unaccompanied or separated:


      In other words, way bigger than the number at the border…and the US is highly culpable thanks to our nation breaking all over the Middle East.

      And are any of the people who are upset offering to take these migrants into their homes? How about a practical and cheaper solution of putting ankle tracking tags on the migrants and having concerned people volunteer to take children and families in? Or offering to help out at a church that might harbor them? After Occupy was broken up in NYC, some churches did take the homeless who’d been staying there for a while….and some were men who acted as guards overnight to make sure the men staying there didn’t prey on women.

      Maybe there are some concrete proposals, but one of Lambert’s points is that the people who are upset seem to be more invested in being upset than doing anything, even in coming up with workable proposals.

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