2:00PM Water Cooler 6/20/2018

Patient readers, Again, I ended up writing a few mini-essays and not getting to everything else I wanted to do, so expect a bit more shortly, especially on immigration. –lambert UPDATE 3:02. All finished.

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Trump trade adviser says he has no knowledge of iPhone tariff exception” [The Hill]. “President Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro says that he doesn’t have any knowledge about conversations between Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook on allegedly exempting the iPhone from future U.S. tariffs…. Navarro said he had no information about the deal, signaling that Trump could have made the agreement with Apple without consulting his top trade advisers…. ‘With respect to Tim Cook and exceptions, I have no knowledge or comment about that,’ Navarro said. Apple’s iPhones are assembled in China from parts manufactured in China, the U.S., and other countries, a process that could bring the tech giant into the forefront of the Trump administration’s escalating trade actions against Beijing as well as China’s retaliatory measures.”

“The Apple iPhone shows that Trump is misreading trade deficits and what they mean” [CNBC]. “$70 billion of the U.S. trade deficit with China is from shipments of cellphones. But that $70 billion is not an accurate measure of the value China added to the cellphones it shipped to the U.S. That’s because the accounting used in the ‘official’ trade statistics hasn’t kept up with the growth of global supply chains, which source parts and raw materials from multiple countries to make a single product. ‘About two-thirds of world trade now is involved in value chains that cross borders during the production process,’ said David Dollar, a senior fellow at the John L. Thornton China Center, in a blog post. Each country that adds a link in the chain also adds a little value to the final product. But those intermediate contributions are rolled up into the final export value that tallied when the product reaches its final destination. As a result, much of that $70 billion U.S.-China cellphone trade deficit really comes from other U.S. trade partners, such as South Korea, Japan and Singapore.” Yes, to be fair, we didn’t deindustrialize the heartland only for China’s benefit….

“Time for a trade war to clear the air?” [Claude Barfield, American Enterprise Institute]. “As Politico argues, on China, Trump has decided to ‘go big or go home.’ In turn, China accused the US of blackmail and vowed to respond in kind with both quantitative and qualitative responses. At this point, the battle clearly transcends economic issues and has become a test of political will on both sides…. As an aside, the Trump administration is going big across the world on trade. Analysts have concluded that the Trump administration has now declared war on nations from which the US obtains more than two-thirds of its imports — $600 billion from Mexico and Canada, more than $500 billion from China, and $450 billion from the European Union… Last week, Megan Greene of The Financial Times pulled together results from a number of models predicting the impact on the world economy and some individual countries from Trump’s projected trade actions. Most found ‘an almost imperceptible shift in gross domestic product growth in the US, China and global economies.’… Similar effects are forecast regarding the potential collapse of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Although Mexico would suffer great losses, the US and Canada would barely notice changes in their growth patterns…. On the Chinese side, there is the calculation, openly touted by Chinese officials, that their authoritarian regime has greater discipline and leeway to withstand US economic attacks…. With both sides dug in, it may well be that only a trade war will settle the matter — and prove (or not) each side’s governing assumptions.” If ever a situation cried out for soft power, it’s this one…

“Trump Tariffs Slam Canada, EU—Not China” [Council on Foreign Relations]. “As we show in the graphic below, Canada is by far the hardest-hit by the tariffs, with over $12 billion of annual exports targeted. ­­­The EU is second, at just under $8 billion. China, a far more grievous transgressor of trade rules and norms, is way back there at under $3.5 billion.” Hmm; see above. Nevertheless, I don’t see why we don’t pivot from war with China to war with Canada; we’re gonna need that water for Vegas, so why not go get it now?



“Hillary Clinton: I Warned You Of Trump Separating Families, ‘People Being Rounded Up On Trains And Buses'” [RealClearPolitics]. Allow me to re-up this extremely important thread from yesterday. If you have not read it, you should:

Expect more of the Cassandra role-playing…

UPDATE “Eric Holder May Be Considering a Presidential Run. But Has His Time Passed?” [The Appeal]. Yes. This article is better than its headline: “According to a dataset made public by legal historian Jed Shugerman, who is writing a book on the rise of the prosecutor politician, our political class is saturated with crusading DAs. From 2007-17 in 38 states, his research shows that 38 percent of state attorneys general, 19 percent of governors, and 10 percent of U.S. senators have prosecutorial career backgrounds. The big presence of prosecutors in our politics goes a long way in explaining why our government has been so ready to see our collective problems (and even some non-problems) as criminal justice issues, always requiring the response of more police, prisons, and criminal law statutes. Have we reached peak prosecutor politician? It does seem like the bloom might be off the rose. Take Senator Kamala Harris…” please!


“Trump Policies Abroad Will Hurt at Home” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “It’s hard these days to meet with governmental and business leaders from around the world and not be struck by their growing feelings of anxiety, impatience, and resentment toward the United States…. So why is a political analyst who specializes in U.S. politics and elections writing about this? Because we know that midterm elections are referenda on the incumbent president. Everything that a president does is important and potentially decisive in a pivotal midterm election, one with the House teetering on a knife’s edge, majority status in the Senate likely to be decided by a fairly small number of votes in a half-dozen states, and the GOP having more exposure in terms of governorships and state legislative seats than either party has faced in many years. Indeed, as my friend, fellow political analyst Rhodes Cook (no relation) points out, Republicans hold more offices from top to bottom than they have since the 1920’s. So the risk in November for Republicans is enormous, and yet they seem to be sprinting along in a distinctly uncareful way — both at home and abroad.” Weirdly [er….] conservative post. Oh for the days of John McCloy!

“Wave elections (1918-2016)” [Ballotpedia]. “In this paper, we examine the results of the 50 election cycles that occurred between 1918 and 2016—spanning from President Woodrow Wilson’s (D) second midterm in 1918 to Trump’s first presidential election in 2016. We define wave elections as the 20 percent of elections in that period resulting in the greatest seat swings against the president’s party. We apply this definition to four different election groups: U.S. Senate, U.S. House, governorships and state legislatures. Applying this definition to the 2018 midterms yields specific numbers of seats that Republicans would need to lose in each group of elections for the term wave election to apply. Republicans would need to lose 48 U.S. House seats, seven U.S. Senate seats, seven gubernatorial seats, and 494 state legislative seats for each group of elections to qualify historically as a wave against the president’s party in November 2018.” I guess we’ll see!

“Latino voter expert: Trump has no support to lose” [McClatchy]. “Exit polls from the 2016 election showed Trump taking roughly a third of the Hispanic vote nationwide. Republican and Democratic strategists estimate Trump’s actual support was closer to the high teens, citing election eve polls and precinct level analysis.” Translating: The headline doesn’t match the body, and we don’t have any hard numbers. We do, however, have opinions from experts partisan strategists. Ka-ching.

* * *


Maddow wept…. It’s opportunistic, but at least Ocasio-Cortez has some skin in the game (being elected). And “I have full trust in our supporters to carry the campaign torch for 24-48h” is GENIUS!


UPDATE Lambert here: Since it’s not my role to wave pom poms, but to keep a cool head (and a cool heart) let me contextualize both Ocasio-Cortez’s visit and the DSA direct actions in terms of electoral politics. I’ll do that by asking this question: “For liberal Democrats, what does victory in the #KeepFamiliesTogether campaign look like?” (Let’s remember at the outset this moral panic is driven by the same combination of political actors and media venues — “Maddow wept” — who generated the Russia! Russia! Russia! panic, which allows us to simplify matters by factoring out considerations of morality, empathy, thematerial conditions of children everywhere, and so forth, at least in the political class, and not necessarily the good-hearted people at street level.)

1. First and foremost, victory looks like victory. Liberal Democrats need one badly. (See Jill Abramson below.)

2. Victory looks like victory in the midterms for Latinx-heavy districts in California.

3. Victory looks like victory for mobilizing citizens on issues vertically by identity, rather than horizontally by class. (In other words, it reinforces the worst tendencies of the “coalition of the ascendant” ideology that dominates the current Democrat Party.)

4. Victory looks like victory for activism that is neither consistent nor universal. After some thought, I would add “systematic,” by which I mean considering material conditions taken over time. In this instance, that would mean–

5. Victory looks like the erasure of liberal Democrats’ own role in creating today’s immigration system (see the Tweetstorm beginning “I shook President Obama’s hand…” above).

6. Victory looks like creaming off left leadership and re-incorporating it into the liberal Democrat project at the national level. Wait and see!

7. Victory looks like liberal Democrats regaining moral standing, so they can virtue signal from a position of strength.

You will notice that the DSA brakelight project is consistent, universal, and systematic. Making sure people do not get ground up in neoliberal law enforcement for profit schemes is consistent with DSA’s larger project. Ditto universal: Although black people, as targets, are most vulnerable, anyone can gain a concrete material benefit (fixed brakelights). And ditto systematic: America has a long, long history of this sort of scheme, which, albeit in a small way, DSA attempts to heal and reverse. The #KeepFamiliesTogether project is none of those things. It is not consistent; measure it against deaths of despair (see under Neoliberal Epidemics below). It is not universal (being only about children at the border, and not, say, about children in Flint, who also suffer in place under a regime structured by the state for profit). It is not systematic, again because of the erasure of liberal Democrats’ role in creating the problem in the first place. (This is especially important for critiques that use fascism as a frame). In short, whatever else it may be and whatever other benefits it may being, with #KeepFamiliesTogether liberal Democrats have served up a poisoned chalice for DSA, the IWW, and the left generally. It was a stroke of true genius that they have used the real suffering of real children to do this. Kudos!

Follow the money:

Dan Ragsdale, Flexian. (I need to do real research on the correction industry and privatization in this context, but this sure smells bad.

“Trump says he’ll be ‘signing something’ on detained children” [Associated Press]. “Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has drafted an executive action for President Donald Trump that would direct her department to keep families together after they are detained crossing the border illegally. She was at the White House where Trump told reporters he would be ‘signing something’ shortly. The effort to end what has become a major crisis for the Trump administration was outlined by two people familiar with Nielsen’s thinking who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the effort before its official announcement. It’s unclear exactly what the president might be supporting, but he said he would be signing something “in a little while.'” That’s quite a climbdown.

“The forced separation of families is Trump’s ‘Katrina moment'” [Jill Abramson, Guardian]. “… 2,000 migrant minors…” While tens of thousands die “of despair” in the flyover states. Can we, as alert reader MyLessThanPrimeBeef requests, have some consistency and universality here? (Nevertheless an excellent explication, however performative, of the electoral aspects of the moral panic.)

UPDATE “How Democrats can shut down the Senate” [Vox]. In essence, quorum calls. Not even for DACA, not for #MedicareForAll, not for the Defense Budget, not for war powers and Yemen, and on and on and on. I guess this is a consequence of going to a “selective” school….

2016 Post Mortem

“Trump spent about half of what Clinton did on his way to the presidency” [CNBC]. “His campaign committee spent about $238.9 million through mid-October, compared with $450.6 million by Clinton’s. That equals about $859,538 spent per Trump electoral vote, versus about $1.97 million spent per Clinton electoral vote.” Let me help out the donor class here: A Democrat dollar is worth fifty cents. Depending on the candidate and their message, of course.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Demands are listed at the bottom, including #MedicareForAll

Stats Watch

No official statistics of note today.

Retail: “Starbucks Pumps the Brakes in Its Home Market” [Bloomberg]. “The coffee behemoth is retrenching in its home market as it contends with sales growth that Chief Executive Officer Kevin Johnson acknowledges isn’t fast enough. The cafe chain said Tuesday it expects comparable sales to rise just 1 percent globally for the current quarter—the worst performance in about nine years. That’s well below the 2.9 percent analysts were expecting, according to Consensus Metrix. Starbucks also plans to close about 150 company-operated stores in densely penetrated U.S. markets next fiscal year, three times the number it historically shuts down annually.”

Retail: “Jeff Bezos Announces Customers Can Delete All Of Alexa’s Stored Audio By Rappelling Into Amazon HQ, Navigating Laser Field, Uploading Nanovirus To Servers” [The Onion]. Does that include the Alexa stored audio from my hotel?

Debt: “General Electric gets booted from the Dow” [CNN Money]. “S&P Dow Jones Indices announced on Tuesday that the iconic maker of light bulbs and jet engines will be replaced in the 30-stock index by Walgreens Boots Alliance…. Being ousted from the Dow is the latest indignity for GE, which is dealing with a serious cash crisis caused by years of bad deals. GE has replaced its CEO, slashed thousands of jobs and cut its coveted stock dividend in half. Last year, GE was the worst-performing stock in the Dow, losing almost half of its value. GE is down by another 25% this year…. To pay down a mountain of debt, GE is selling off long-held businesses. Last month, GE agreed to sell its century-old railroad division. GE is also searching for a buyer for its struggling light bulb division.”

The Bezzle: “Big bank auditor KPMG was tipped off before regulatory inspections” [Francine McKenna, Financial News]. From the Department of Everything is Like CalPERS. Well worth a read to see the machinations.

The Bezzle: “The bigger cryptocurrencies get, the worse they perform: BIS” [Reuters]. “Cryptocurrencies are not scalable and are more likely to suffer a breakdown in trust and efficiency the greater the number of people using them, the Bank of International Settlements (BIS)said on Sunday in its latest warning about the rise of virtual currencies.”

The Bezzle: “SEC documents detail scores of fraud allegations against Coinbase” [Mashable]. “In 134 pages of complaints filed to the SEC and the California Department of Business Oversight obtained by Mashable following a five-month FOIA process, a picture emerges not of a responsible actor in the cryptocurrency space opening the market to new investors, but rather a company overwhelmed by and underprepared for its own success. … A recurring theme in the SEC complaint files Mashable obtained is the seeming disappearance of a would-be trader’s money, and what is portrayed as an aggressive nonchalance on the part of Coinbase in response to the loss.” “Aggressive nonchalance” is good…

The Bezzle: “With More Self-Driving Tech, Is Tesla Ruining What’s Best About the Model S?” [Bloomberg]. The Model S is actually fun to drive. (I wouldn’t know.) So turning it into a robot car seems paradoxical. “The juxtaposition of all those cars raised a conundrum I kept chewing over as I drove through New York. Tesla’s sales strategy—and its current pricing structure—is aimed squarely at attracting everyone besides people who love the act of driving: commuters, tech-nerds, first-adopters, wealthy Californians keeping up—anyone who might be the opposites of all you dear stick-shift diehards and track-fiends. Yet the Model S P100D still delivers an authentic, and powerful, driving experience sure to pump adrenaline through the veins of even the most discerning driver. The Tesla Model S is a true drivers’ car—for drivers who appreciate nice things. But as Tesla continues to add layers of autonomous and self-driving faculties to its products, it threatens to dull and eventually remove that thrill of being a driver—exactly what I’ve always found the car’s most pleasurable surprise. Is the comfort of technology taking care of things for you worth giving up the fun of an actual experience?” “[W]ho appreciate nice things.” Best euphemism for the 10% on up that I’ve heard yet!

The Bezzle: “Why Are There So Damn Many Ubers?” [Villlage Voice]. “[T]here’s the answer to how Uber got onto New York’s very regulated streets: It piggybacked onto an existing regulatory framework, presenting itself as an add-on to the service already offered by licensed livery car companies. Indeed, without livery cars to serve as the thin edge of the wedge, Uber couldn’t have launched at all.”

Five Horsemen: “Facebook, Amazon and — for the first time since January — Alphabet are at record highs in late morning trade.” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 20 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “The mania-panic index receded to 56 (complacency) as new lows exceeded new highs for the first time since May 29th” [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 19 2018

Facebook Fracas

“Facebook confirms that it tracks how you move mouse on the computer screen” [India Today]. “The social media giant in a 225-page document responding to a set of 2,000 questions by the US Senate Committee on Judiciary admitted that it collects information from and about computers, phones, and connected devices, including mouse, that users use with its various services and that it combines this information to give users a personalised content. Facebook said that it tracks mouse movements to help its algorithm distinguish between humans and bots. Tracking mouse movements also helps the social media giant, which has been under fire for its data privacy practices, to also determine if the window is foregrounded or backgrounded.”

Health Care

“Dr. Atul Gawande to lead Amazon, JPMorgan, Berkshire healthcare venture” [Modern Health Care]. “Dr. Atul Gawande will lead the Boston-based Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase healthcare venture, the companies announced Wednesday. Gawande practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and teaches at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is also the executive director of Ariadne Labs, a staff writer for The New Yorker and a best-selling author who is widely recognized for his contributions to the healthcare industry.” Gawande is, of course, a single payer opponent; see here and here.

“Surgeon Atul Gawande selected as CEO of new health care company from Amazon, partners” [Stat]. “Not much has been revealed about the new health care enterprise from the three corporate giants; in the release Wednesday, it doesn’t even have a name…. But in his note to friends, Gawande said that ‘this new health care organization represents one of the most promising opportunities to accelerate improvement of US health care delivery. The work will be difficult and take time, but it must be done.'” Hmm. It seems to me that quite a good deal has been revealed, no?

The 420

“Canada legalises recreational cannabis use” [BBC]. “Canada’s parliament has passed a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide… Canadians will be able to buy and consume cannabis legally as early as this September. The country is the second worldwide to legalise the drug’s recreational use…. The bill will likely receive Royal Assent this week, and the government will then choose an official date when the law will come into force.”

Police State Watch

“Police Misconduct Is Increasingly a Financial Issue” [Governing]. It always has been. Especially when law enforcement is used as a revenue raising device, a la Ferguson, and those targeted can’t pay the fines or make bail, and lose their jobs, or their homes, etc.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“How faking your feelings at work can be damaging” [BBC]. On “emotional labor, “a term first coined by sociologist Arlie Hochschild, it’s the work we do to regulate our emotions to create ‘a publicly visible facial and bodily display within the workplace.’ Simply put, it is the effort that goes into expressing something we don’t genuinely feel. It can go both ways – expressing positivity we don’t feel or suppressing our negative emotions.” This is an excellent and thought-provoking article — no, FOSTA-SESTA won’t solve the problem in the paradigmatic case — although it ends with a series of tips about what to do at the personal level. For example: “Rather than refuting specific, personal allegations, [Ruth Hargrove, a former trial lawyer based in California,] simply sends back a one-line email saying she disagrees. ‘Not rising to things is huge,’ she says. ‘It’s a disinclination to engage in the emotional battle that someone else wants you to engage in. I keep in sight the real work that needs to be done.'”

“New Study on Rising Suicide Rates Suggests Capitalism Is Quite Literally Killing Us” [GritPost]. The CDC study (see NC here). With handy map:

“The fact that more than half of these suicides were not attributed to any mental illness in a majority of states for at least one year of the period the CDC studied is remarkable, and begs the question of what other factors led to thousands of Americans taking their own lives. CDC researchers discovered that, outside of problems with intimate partners*, the prime causes of suicide for Americans with no known mental illnesses were primarily financial in nature.” Oddly, or not, there’s no moral panic about these thousands of deaths whatever. And yet the uneven distribution of casualties on the map would suggest there’s something systematic at play… NOTE * Not sure how that’s separated from finance, which often affects relationships.

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Trump says it’d be a ‘great idea’ if workers go on ‘really long strike’ at Washington Post” [FOX]. It would be even better if the tech workers who run The Cloud did….

“In a world of digital nomads, we will all be made homeless” [Guardian]. On WeWork and and “co-working”* spaces: “It is telling that this blurring of work and leisure, and the fading-out of any meaningful notion of home, is reflected at every level of the tech industry – from shared houses that double as start-up ‘incubators’ (see the hit HBO comedy Silicon Valley), through the co-working and co-living spaces springing up in urban China, to the factories in the same country where workers churning out iPhones sleep in dormitories. The erosion of any barrier between grafting and downtime is reflected in big tech’s innate insistence that we are ‘on’ at all times – checking our feeds, sending emails, messaging colleagues. You see the same things even more clearly among rising numbers of networked homeworkers – translators, CV writers, IT contractors, data inputters – whose lives are often a very modern mixture of supposed flexibility, and day-to-day insecurity…. Marx and Engels said that the bourgeoisie could not exist ‘without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society’; Tony Blair told us that the world of globalisation has ‘no custom or practice’, and gives rewards only to those ‘swift to adapt, slow to complain, open, willing and able to change’. And here, perhaps, is the ultimate proof. After a couple of centuries during which capitalism has recurrently tried to kill the inconvenient human need for domestic spaces where people can escape economic demands (witness such inventions as workers’ hostels and old-fashioned company towns), that same tendency is being newly dressed up as a matter of aspiration and personal freedom.” NOTE * As with the “sharing economy,” where’s the “co-“? Presumably all the workers are invoiced separately in these 21st Century rooming houses.

“Conflict and the Senses: A Review of The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege” [Southern Spaces]. “Sensory history is an exciting new approach to writing history. It offers a fresh take on past perceptions. Sensing between the lines of written sources, the sensory historian recasts history as sense-making activity, not merely a litany of dates and deeds…. Mark M. Smith is the doyen of sensory history in the US … Smith begins by evoking the antebellum sensorium offered in an 1852 essay, ‘The Cultivation of the Senses,’ published in Harper’s New Monthly Magazine that portrayed the senses as shapers of character and agents of civilization, provided they were exercised properly: “[the] eye should not be injured by resting on a vulgar confusion of colors, or clumsy, ill-proportioned forms; the ear should not be falsified by discordant sounds[1], and harsh, unloving voices; the nose should not be a receptacle for impure odors; each sense should be preserved in its purity’. This preoccupation with sensory order and decorum was particularly intense in a city such as Charleston, South Carolina, built on slavery, where every social relation exhibited gradations of command and obedience…. Smith’s [The Smell of Battle, the Taste of Siege: A Sensory History of the Civil War is structured around five events, each analyzed through a different sensory modality, while at the same time noting shifts in the salience of certain sensations as the event unfolded. The effect is captivating, and generative of many insights into, for example, military tactics, survival strategies, and commemorative practices.” NOTE * Like coffles… This review is from 2017, but it’s obviously germane beyond the world of civil war buffs, and I just put it on my summer reading list. For example, what does an Amazon warehouse smell like? Or, readers, your own workplace?

News of The Wired

“Hot or Not History” [Lapham’s Quarterly]. “In the centuries since the advent of the printing press, there have surely been myriad instances in which names like Ulysses S. Grant, Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, Julius Caesar, and William Henry Harrison were printed in considerable proximity to one another, and those, in turn, printed within striking distance of names like Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, Anton Chekhov, and Johannes Brahms. It is only in the present and recent past, however, that one might find all those names closely juxtaposed in a roster with a title like ‘Sexiest Guys We Studied in AP History Class, dot Tumblr dot com.'” I think this is great, I remember when the Internet used to be great, and I wish the [family blogging] monopolies and their [family blogging] algos would go away so the Internet could be great again.

“Language is more abstract than you think, or, why aren’t languages more iconic?” [Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B]. “Why isn’t language more iconic? Iconicity—a resemblance between the form of words and their meanings—can be immensely useful in language learning and communication. Languages could be much more iconic than they currently are. So why aren’t they? We suggest that one reason is that iconicity is inimical to abstraction because iconic forms are too connected to specific contexts and sensory depictions. Form–meaning arbitrariness may allow language to better convey abstract meanings.” Which leads directly to the proliferation of the ubiquitous emoji (not emoticon), and the question of whether they are dumbing us down or worse. What is emoji for emoji? A barber shaving himself?

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

TH: “Anemone Blue Poppy at Roger’s Gardens.” I’m a big fan of poppies, but they sure are hard to photograph; it’s as if their petals are designed to catch the slightest breeze. My poppies — not very many! — self-seeded themselves and are not blue, but orange.

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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. JCC

    Regarding the twitter link:

    19/ what I hope for us in this moment of critical mass, in this tipping point, is that we will collectively have the courage to hold our leaders accountable when they tell us putting families in for-profit cages to deter asylum-seeking is necessary to stop family separation.

    Nothing like profits to help drive policies… but after all, it is the American Way.

  2. Jim Haygood

    Big money:

    Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York City, has approved a plan to pour at least $80 million into the 2018 election, with the bulk of that money going to support Democratic congressional candidates.

    Mr. Bloomberg outlined his plans in a statement, denouncing the Republican Congress and urging a return to divided control of the federal government. His 2018 effort is to be overseen by Howard Wolfson, a close adviser who is a former executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee; Mr. Wolfson confirmed the scale of the spending envisioned.

    Calling Republican leaders in the House “absolutely feckless,” Mr. Bloomberg continued: “Republicans in Congress have had almost two years to prove they could govern responsibly. They failed.”

    He has repeatedly rebuked Mr. Trump since the inauguration, calling the Republican tax-cut law a “trillion-dollar blunder.”


    One can imagine feckless Republicans whimpering after their coming thrashing that “I voted for a trillion-dollar tax cut … and all I got was this lousy MAGA T-shirt.” House speaker Paul Ryan resigns, declares victory and goes home:


      1. a different chris

        He’s not throwing money away. He knows exactly what he wants. “Divided control”.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        He won’t be throwing it away. He will be investing it strategically. He won’t donate any money to Justice Democrats or New Deal Reactionaries or Sandernistas or such. He will donate money to Catfood Clintonites to try and create a pro-upper-class Blue Dog Wave in the House and maybe Senate if he has enough money.

        ( . . . has enough money, heh heh. Bloomberg may be rich, but he is no Koch).

    1. a different chris

      > and urging a return to divided control of the federal government

      Odd, very odd dontcha think that these movers and shakers, these billionaires, want “divided” control? In every other aspect of their lives they wanted, and got, complete control. But not here, given the ultimate prize. Hmmm.

  3. Arizona Slim

    The Guardian article about WeWork was quite an interesting read. Especially while I’m sitting in the only surviving coworking space in Tucson, Arizona.

    That’s one thing that these articles often seem to miss: While it is easy to start a coworking space, they’re devilishly hard to keep going. In less than six months, two of them have gone out of business. And I don’t see any new ones on the local horizon.

    As for co-living? I can tell you that, among my fellow coworkers, there would be zero interest in such an idea. We’re all for coming here to get work done — although the World Cup games on the common area TVs are making that a bit difficult — but when the day is done, we’re outta here. Time to go home. Which, in most cases, isn’t in or next to Downtown Tucson.

      1. Arizona Slim

        We’ve had a few digital nomads come through this place.

        As a general rule, they aren’t terribly social, and this place is very social. Not that we’re chatting while we’re working, but you’ll see a lot of conversation in the common spaces.

        The digital nomads tend to come in, fire up their laptops, then they go into the headphone zone. And stay there.

        After a few days, weeks, or months, they disappear, never to be seen again.

        1. ppp

          My turkish friend who graduated with some kind of computer science degree worked at some tech companies in san francisco for a few years, and he said the people who were the least social raked in the highest salary. This is because they would not talk to anyone, and essentially lived inside of their computers. It is interesting to think about, the less social a person is,(in that field at least) the more money they make. They are socially isolated to begin with, and the disparity in pay from their coworkers that accrues over their lifetime brings them into further isolation, I would imagine. Anti social feedback loop

          1. jrs

            then again considering most “socializing” at work is @$$ kissing BS … less social might not be that bad.

            I do mean the white collar workplace, I’m not sure blue collar is as bad.

          2. Cat Afficionado

            I respectfully disagree that less social = more pay, at least in this example, in that it might be conflating correlation with causation.

            The guys who show up and go off to a corner to do nothing but work are probably paid more because…they do more work. Maybe they really are way off on an extreme end of the Asperger’s scale, but I’d bet that they are just disciplined workers who have stuff that they want to do with family and friends outside of work so they power through their assignments. Soft-skills are also very, VERY important. By no means am I arguing that everyone should go off to a corner, ignore everyone and attack anyone who disturbs them. Being able to interact with coworkers in a calm, professional and courteous way is very important, particularly when problems arise on a project. Maybe the guys in the corner simply don’t have any work-related need to interact with the other folks in the office. They may be missing out on positive non-work social interaction, but it sounds like they get to cry all the way to the bank.

            It is all the rage right now to market “tech” jobs with posters showing pretty groups of people, dressed well, pointing decisively at pie charts and “making decisions of importance” in fancy conference rooms, all while smiling confidently. This is just marketing tripe to sell a vision of the work experience that largely does not exist. Real, actual engineering work is what a majority of people would solidly categorize as “drudgery.” By no means does it mean that one can’t socialize at work, and I certainly am glad that I do to a reasonable degree in between projects/tasks, but it is not why I am there. When it comes down to it, a working adult has a contract with their employer, maybe unwritten, that says that the employer will pay them in exchange for doing productive work. End of story. Frankly, if you work in a space where someone who does more work gets paid more, it sounds like a place that functions properly and fairly.

            Also, I know very little about WeWork and these “nomad worker” spaces since I am not a coder, nor do I have the option to work from the location of my choosing. So maybe I am completely missing something here.

    1. jsn

      In New York at least, WeWork is the mother of all maturity miss-matches: they have millions of square feet, building and acquiring more, on long term leases and debt finance while they’re nominally making their money on monthly rentals.

      I think they are the Uber of real estate, a giant stock market fraud burning the decadal QE froth until such time as reality intervenes. Is there a Hubert Horan for WeWork?

    2. The Rev Kev

      That article started to remind me of the old company town system. If you had to state their central philosophy as being practiced now, it would be that you live to work rather than work to live.

  4. cocomaan

    I thought Puerto Rico was Trump’s Katrina moment? You know, the actual storm? The one that killed some folks?

    Our press is so bankrupt of actual brains.

    1. cocomaan

      Waited too long to edit.

      This is being described as a “major crisis” but I’m sensing some real news fatigue, even on this. Most people at my job are on vacation. They probbaly aren’t reading about this. I’ve heard very few people talking about it here in PA. It’s just not on people’s minds. Maybe in the border regions its a bigger deal.

      Sure, if your job is to create news all day long, it’s big, but in the scheme of things, most people are probably checked out. Twitter is not the universe.

      1. Aumua

        Everyone seems totally outraged on FB, and on TV I guess, although I don’t really watch it. Newspapers, do those still exist? The people I see in my every day living don’t seem to be all that outraged though. It’s strange.

    2. RUKidding

      Oh Puerto Rico? That’s so last year. And it wasn’t really true, red-blooded Amurkin soil.

      Yes: /s

    3. 4corners

      In general dislike for Trump, it seems many have attributed to him an amazing scope of influence and personal responsibility. Let’s go ahead and blame him for continental drift while we’re at it.

      I’d argue that moderate Trump voters (the bloc we would hope to sway) have developed a pretty good filter for blanket Trump criticism. I wonder if we’d be better served by very focused arguments that undercut his sham populist platform. Just a thought.

      1. Big River Bandido

        The way to undercut his sham populist platform is with a real one. But the Democrats? Well, they just can’t bring themselves to do that.

      2. polecat

        Peter Fonda stuck HIS twitter foot in his orifice today, courtesy of TDS .. or maybe it was just raw, hubristic stupidity … probably both !

        Honestly, people are really losing their sh!t ..
        … and I’ve never seen anything like it before in my life !

    4. Summer

      Maria was maybe more damaging as a storm than Katrina…splitting hairs maybe, but the levees that gave out well after the actual storm (or were sabotaged according to some) was the biggest disaster of Katrina.
      The disasters are the responses and relationship to the natural environment.

    1. Pavel

      Brings back memories of some advert on the NYC subway many decades ago.
      (Was it for a secretarial school?)

      Thanks, Lambert!

  5. bob mcmanus

    1) Re: “Dan Ragsdale, Flexian” — The Janine Wedel work on the Shadow Elite is excellent and recommended

    2) “We suggest that one reason is that iconicity is inimical to abstraction because iconic forms are too connected to specific contexts and sensory depictions.” Backwards

    Umm, as someone who looks at Japanese, I think iconicity is conducive to ambiguity, polysemy, poetry, contextual and interpersonal meaning, and abstraction tends toward a pseudo-specificity and overlaid pretense of scientific representation of reality. 500 types (taxonomy) of caterpillars is abstraction, as is the identifying of someone you are interacting with by the ID contents of their wallets (names).

    (Edit, that’s not very clear, sorry. Gotta think.)

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      In her book “the Telling” writer Ursula K. Le Guin suggests, correctly I believe, that iconicity in writing — as opposed to phonetic writing systems — tends to build in an ability to read literature written long ago — long after speech drift would make archaic language unintelligible.

      Japanese seems an especially difficult language to characterize given its mix of iconicity with numerous phonetic readings of various icon pairs [and triples?]. Is the ambiguity of Japanese a characteristic of the writing system — which I thought often served as means to clarify ambiguities of spoken speech — or is it a characteristic of the many homophones in Japanese speech which context alone cannot readily distinguish?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sorry — I have it as an audio book I’ve listened to several times so I lack a visual context I can recall from. I remember it coming in early in the book when Sutty is recalling her background and training for visiting Aka but I am not certain. It may have come up when she was reading the wall in herbalist’s shop or reading at the Mountain. However I distinctly recall hearing that suggestion from the Telling and giving special regard to its meaning.

          I have been playing with the idea that Venus was once inhabited before a little problem with global warming. I imagine someone creating a special library to preserve and share all that can be of what once was. But then comes the problem of creating a “Rosetta Stone” to make the language of the writing and content of the library accessible to intelligent aliens. Then I started wondering how one might build a meanings system in terms of plants and animals, and a way of thinking whose referents no longer exit in any form. Somehow ideograms came to mind together with Le Guin’s suggestion. And how might we communicate with another intelligent species with a verbal system outside our ability to distinguish its content — like some advanced dolphins or a new kind of crowven [crow crossed with raven].

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It may have come up when she was reading the wall in herbalist’s shop or reading at the Mountain.

            That’s possible, but the iconicity of the tree is deeply integrated into text (the McGuffin is a giant library, after all).

      1. John

        For the most part, phonetic characters in Japanese are used for conjugation. The root of the word remains in kanji. Another set of phonetic characters is used to represent foreign words or words adapted from foreign languages.

        1. Procopius

          That was what I understood. Japanese is very different from Chinese, which does not have tenses, cases, or plurals. In fact, I always thought Chinese was an incredibly easy language to learn. It’s hard to memorize vocabulary at first, because there are no similarities, no common roots, to help build associations, but once you’ve built a base to create memory assiciations, Bob’s your uncle. I never studied Japanese, but from what I read of their history they adopted the Chinese writing system in the 13th Century, and it’s really not suited to the Japanese language.

    2. Skip Intro

      Leonard Shlain in The Alphabet vs The Goddess describes a historical tension and oscillation between patriarchical literary impulses or cultural forces, and image based cultures. As far back as the alphabet-wielding Israelites vs the pictogram-carving Egyptians, it describes fundamentalist reactions against art and imagery. I find it ties in to the analysis of language in Snow Crash, and the rigorous process for copying ancient scriptures to assure informational hygiene.

  6. Tomonthebeach

    The Guardian Story on Work is pure fantasy dressed up to look like cultural meltdown. Suffice it to say that blurring the distinction between workplace and home is as old as peasant farming where people sure did live where they worked – and still do. Many contemporary white collar elites work from our home offices much of the time.

    Why are there so damned many Ubers? Because taxis are a rip-off. Case in point: We live a one-hour drive from the airport. There is zero public transport between our US house and the Orlando airports despite being minutes from Port Canaveral and an Air Force base. We commute to our house in Eastern EU for months at a time – long enough for the car battery to die at a pricey airport lot. Pre-Uber, the RT cost via limo was $340. Contrast that with $130 RT (40% of the limo price) using Uber.

    New Study on Rising Suicide Rates Suggests Capitalism Is Quite Literally Killing Us. I guess the author missed Case & Deaton’s 2015 paper in PNAS! It is so hard for writers to Google.

    The forced separation of families is Trump’s ‘Katrina moment’ I guess Jill Abramson overlooked Puerto Rico’s Irma moment – a real “Katrina moment” still playing out.

    1. a different chris

      >Because taxis are a rip-off.

      So is Uber. In this case the riders rip off the drivers who can’t do the basic cost-of-ownership math. Or who can but are desparate and, well will deal with tomorrow (and new brakes, tires, oil, that funny noise it started making pls god let it be under warranty?).

      And the drivers mebbe rip off taxpayers since the fuel tax is <50% of what we spend on roads… but there is a lot of complication in that particular calculation (Hey! truck do all the damage!! Hey, hardly see any trucks on my road and yet… Hey! everybody needs traffic lights and cops and so on…)

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Doesn’t something have to acutely and irreversibly embarrass the target in order to be a “Katrina moment”? What image-damage in mainstream America did Trump ever suffer due to Irma over Puerto Rico? Whereas strongarm-kidnapping illegal immigrant/ asylum seekers’ babies right here on the mainland on camera and everything could be Katrina-grade embarrassing.

      ( Obama knew that to prevent “Katrina” you prevent exposure and embargo information. That is why Obama had a near-militarized sealoff of the BP Blowout . . . so it would never become the “Obama’s Katrina moment” it should have become).

    3. Yves Smith

      On your comment re taxi drivers: Thanks for sharing your hatred of working people. I find your attitude to be despicable. Taxi drivers typically work 60 to 70 hours a week and make $12 to $15 an hour. Uber drivers make even less, the most recent work suggests ~ $10 an hour. But you’ll happily exploit their lack of understanding of their own economics.

      I would be embarrassed to admit I use Uber, but their genius has been to make the further exploitation of workers seem cool.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    I absolutely refuse to stand by and do nothing as infants are ripped away & thrown in cages.

    Ripped, thrown, cages.

    And rachel wept.

    Political hyperbole and media theatrics always make me suspicious, particularly when not accompanied by concrete, workable solutions, and crying and flying are not concrete solutions.

    If you’re angling for catch and release, the least you can do is own it.

    1. Darius

      The border policy, just rescinded due to the ensuing (family blog) storm, is one of several crimes against humanity this administration is committing. Another is Yemen. It’s true that Obama handed Trump the tools. But I would say Obama’s crimes are those of cowardice, callousness, and expedience. Trump, Pence, and the rest of the white boys are just into this stuff.

      1. Fiery Hunt

        Nice wave-off on Obama’s crimes…Trump’s got a looong way to go to catch the Killer Drone King and his 7 wars (including Yemen!)

        And why the drive-by “white boys” comment? Would referring to Obama, Holder and Lynch as the blackies be acceptable?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I believe there is a theory that states that gender is a social construct.

          A similar theory, if not already in existence, can be worked out for race as well.

          In that case, anyone can be white and anyone can be black, potentially.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Its considered “bold” and “transgressive” by some white-identified people to talk that way.

        3. DonCoyote

          To be fair to Obama, he did inherit two of those seven wars. And he was in office eight years. So that’s only .625 new wars per year.

      2. anonymous

        ““Children of immigrants are being held in cages, like dogs, at ICE detention centers, sleeping on the floor. It’s an abomination.”

        But there was one problem. The photos, it turned out, were from 2014, during the Obama administration’s second term….

        ….he Nogales, Texas, facility that held unaccompanied minors as clean and air-conditioned, but ultimately a “juvenile prison camp.” Many of the buildings that now house children separated from their parents were put to heavy use in the mid-2010s.

        There is also no question that Obama presided over an immigration apparatus that ballooned in size and power under his watch. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the post 9/11-born agency that many liberal activists now want to abolish, saw its budget skyrocket budget during the Obama years, as did U.S. Customs and Border Protection — all the way to a combined $20 billion in 2016.

        If President Trump really does implement mass deportations, it will be with the help of an enforcement machine Obama helped construct…”


        1. marym

          There was a photo of children in cages from the Obama years that circulated incorrectly as if current for a while. At least on twitter the correct designation has been pretty well noted by now. There were also photos in recent days of a Southwest Key shelter with beds, cafeteria and the like.

          However, there have been photos and video released to journalists by the government in recent days which show the chain link cages and mylar sleeping blankets on the floors.(Link) There are also photos of a “newly constructed tent city” in Texas. (Link)

          1. Katniss Everdeen

            And here’s a photo of the idyllic life that awaits these families once they become undocumented, shadow “americans,” eternally grateful, no doubt, for the efforts of those who have secured for them the opportunity to do the jobs that americans will not do. (With the extra added benefit of cheap, fresh vegetables and plenty of anti-oxidant berries for the idealistic, american-born saviors.)

            The caption:

            Maria Seferino packs her family’s belongings at the Sakuma Brothers Farms labor camp at the end of berry season. From June to October, she picked berries with her husband seven days a week and relied on day care for their children. As many as 14 people at a time lived in this cramped one-room cabin.

            Some cages don’t even have bars. Oh, and the road to hell is paved with good intentions.


            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Americans used to do these jobs. Americans might do these jobs now at American wages and American labor conditions. The purpose of importing illegal aliens is to destroy those wages and destroy those conditions.

            2. marym

              There are a lot of problems in the world. Even well-meaning people don’t have many good answers on where to start or how to proceed to address them.

              Government took 2000 kids from their parents in the last few weeks, has been shipping them all over the country, with, we now see, no process of tracking them, because there was no intention of returning them ever.

              How horrifying that we’re at a point when a plausible case can be made that there are worse problems, and a plausible case that this an escalation of state violence that needs immediate attention.

              At what point does virtue signaling about people possibly addressing the wrong problem in the wrong way become virtue signaling?

              /meta-virtue signaling

              1. marym

                Grammar edit: At what point does dismissing as “virtue signaling” people who may be addressing the wrong horrific problem in the wrong way also become virtue signaling?

                /meta-virtue signaling

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I haven’t heard any mentions of the industry involved in getting people across.

          I am thinking of the coyotes and those further the border-crossers along to their eventual destinations.

          Some are there to help; and not a few are there to make money. The latter – do they drag children along for a purpose?

        3. jrs

          yes it may be an abomination

          And meanwhile there are around 5k some homeless minors just in los angeles alone. Abomination? Or don’t give a family blog?

          The thing is they expect a people that KNOW they AND their children could end up homeless to be super charitable. It may not happen.

    2. marym

      Based on these statistics for 2006-2017 I would own “angling for catch and release” with the included “concrete, workable solution” of providing legal counsel.

      Link to screen shot using selection criteria Current Status+Percent+Immigration Court/All+Represented+Absentia
      Link to interactive charts

      Immigration activist organizations have raised a great deal of money in recent days, which should help to ensure adequate legal counsel.

      1. David

        Thanks for the links.

        What should these women do while waiting for their hearing, which could take years? Get a job? Put the kids in school?

        According to the data, even with representation, they have about a 28% chance of staying in the country.

        So they get to have their lives disrupted twice? Is this humane?

        1. marym

          I ran the chart with Current Status+Percent+Outcome/All+Represented+Grant Relief and the outcome was really high. Changed to outcome of Removal Order and numbers were low, but it didn’t all hang together. Where did you get your number?

          This link says it takes an average of 6 months. This one says percentages granted depend on the judge.

          As far as what they do in the meantime, there used to be a program.

          The Family Case Management Program that is being shuttered had 630 families enrolled as of April 19. Essentially a counseling service, it has operated in Chicago, Miami, New York, Los Angeles, and Baltimore/Washington, D.C., since January 2016. Social workers help participants find lawyers, navigate the overburdened immigration court system, get housing and health care, and enroll the kids in school.

          Trump admin shut it down. (Link)

          1. David

            Using your filter, the chance of staying moves up to 36%. Of the 30,889 represented cases resolved; over half, 18,085, resulted in removal orders. The graph doesn’t really help with this type of analysis.

            As far a case duration, try Current Status+Number+Outcome/Pending+Fiscal Year Case Began. Of the 92,154 cases pending, only 13,760 began in fiscal year 2017. The rest are 2016 and earlier. IIRC, that is more than 6 mo.

            The article you’ve linked for 6 mo. duration appears to be using data for affirmative asylum requests, not defensive asylum court cases.

            Maybe if the lawyers coaching these people would explain that, by crossing the border to request asylum, they’re looking at several years of limbo vs. six months if they apply and receive asylum before entering the country.

            I suspect the DOJ will move to replace the more lenient judges.

            1. marym

              Thanks for the additional perspective. Don’t know if you’ll return to this thread, but here are some additional points for getting a better picture:

              Link to analysis of effectiveness of detention alternatives on people showing up for court or deportation (old study from 2000 though).

              Link to twitter thread discussing the new exec order that includes detention not just until the initial hearing but until the case is decided. As you point out, that can take years.

    3. False Solace

      Completely agree with your and Lambert’s comments. I oppose human suffering in all forms, but compared to all the other terrible things the US is doing this very instant I feel frustrated by how this one got catapulted to the top of the list. Why is it we only get media freakouts when there’s a tiny number of people affected and the circumstances literally don’t apply to anybody who can vote?

      Between DACA and border crossings, it’s clear the Democrat playbook is to find a cute poster child and do nothing meaningful to help them while their donors have their way with workers and sick people. I mean, good on everybody who protests cruelty to migrants — but the amount of good that will come out of changing this one policy is so minuscule in real terms that I feel rather repulsed. The loudest people crying about it have zero effective empathy for the working class or US foreign policy victims as whole.

      1. polecat

        Tis one huuuuge mobius loop of “Squirrel” by the feckess, and cynical, credentialed ‘liberal club’ to keep the heat off of the collusion between the unTelligence agencies, certain Big Media outlets and their flacks, and the Clinton camp, the principles of which should be frog-marched into uh .. detention .. maybe behind chainlink, with their own mylar sleepy gear, to be put before trial for conspiracy, fraud, and treason against the American public !

      2. a different chris

        >when there’s a tiny number of people affected

        Your answer is built right into your question.

      3. jrs

        If they started covering the war machine, well they wouldn’t do that. If they started covering the lives of people living here, that poor people’s campaign would catch fire.

    4. Big Tap

      Did Rachel Maddow care about children in America having their parents lose jobs and homes during the Great Recession? I seem to remember her covering that story mainly as a political one not as a desperate time for many. Don’t remember her crying then. Maddow is famous for calling insincere actions or misdirections ‘performance art’. The crying is Maddow’s attempt at it. I give her an A. Art yes; sincerity no.

  8. Code Name D

    The “news fatigue” as you put it, is a bit like Disney’s “Star Wars fatigue.” People are not “tired” of content, they are tired of shitty content.

    Most of the “news” I have seen on Puerto Rico isn’t really news at all in that it attempts to inform you of what is really happening and why. But rather its anti-Trump propaganda. Only the parts that make Trump look bad are covered, and even then only from within the lens of liberalism. So the privatization and gouging of the power grid is not properly covered, and when it is, its covered as how government dropped the ball and how the free market can save the day.

    If you got the mad-on for Trump, this is exactly what you want to hear. But if you have any curiosity or concern for Puerto Rico, this kind of exposure is more frustrating than informative.

  9. Jane

    Nevertheless, I don’t see why we don’t pivot from war with China to war with Canada; we’re gonna need that water for Vegas, so why not go get it now?

    Please don’t say that even as joke ?

    1. JEHR

      Water is a serious business and

      Nestles is making hay with our water right now:

      “In 2005, the former CEO of Nestle, Peter Brabeck was quoted as saying that water should not be considered a human right and be instead treated as a “foodstuff commodity.” That video was leaked and went viral in 2013—the same year that Nestle was in the middle of another dispute with the town of Hillsburgh, Ontario, near Guelph. Nestle withdraws as much as 1.1 million litres of water daily from a well in Hillsburgh, which has suffered three major droughts since 2007.” (from linked article)

        1. The Rev Kev

          Because that would be called a “terrorist” incident and then you would have the full fury and wrath of Homeland security come down on those who trashed the wells and giving them 500 year sentences in solitary confinement.

          1. RMO

            There’s no need for war with Canada, the government (either Liberal or Conservative) will be quite happy to pretty much give the water away to U.S. corporations if asked. Right now when I fly a glider out of Hope and head over the town to Mount Ogilvie I can look at the Nestle owned water bottling plant that is basically being given free water so they can put it in plastic bottles and sell it to us at a huge markup.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Cannabis needs about one gallon per day of water per pound of yield …

      Recreational marijuana will officially become legal in Canada on Oct. 17, 2018, the prime minister announced on Wednesday afternoon.

      Justin Trudeau confirmed the long-awaited start date during Question Period in Ottawa, ending months of speculation surrounding when, precisely, Canadians will be able to purchase and consume the drug legally.

      The Liberals had initially aimed for July 1, Canada Day, but procedural issues and delays prevented them from reaching that target.


      Kick their ass and take their grass. [sorry, just kidding]

    1. JTMcPhee

      Or the body dump outside the field hospital in Chu Lai during Tet… or the aroma of human poop being burned, sort of, with diesel or jet fuel in those half 55-gallon drums under the holes in the latrine seats… or the wonderful redolence of smokeless gunpowder…

        1. polecat

          At least the horse manure procured from the armies of Romania did Some good, nourishing as it were, Caesar’s asparagus !
          …. a waste to have burned it .. but we’re just an ersatz empire !

  10. Roland Chrisjohn

    With regard to the spate of articles about suicide and capitalism, both here and on other black-listed sites, I wrote a book with a colleague back in 2014 (available for free here: https://www.academia.edu/30608503/DYING_TO_PLEASE_YOU_Indigenous_Suicide_in_Contemporary_Canada_by_Chrisjohn_and_McKay?auto=download) on how capitalism has led to the present-day suicide crisis of Native peoples in Canada, as well as, of course, to deaths of others as well. The “mechanism” was all elaborated by Karl Marx back in 1844, and in his 1845 translation of Peuchet’s memoir (translated into English by Plaut & Anderson in 1999). The analysis was re-discovered (and suppressed) by Durkheim in his own supposedly ground-breaking work in 1897. “The Marginalized” and “The Disposable” are different names for the same peoples. Oppression kills.

    1. Petter

      Reading your commentt this came to mind: From Robert Sapolsky’s Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst
      Humans committed themselves to a unique trajectory when we invented socioeconomic status. In terms of it’s caustic, scarring impact on minds and bodies, nothing in the history of animals being crappy to one another about status differences comes within light-years of our invention of poverty.

  11. Lambert Strether Post author

    Maine’s ranked-choice ballot count runs into technical problems Bangor Daily News. What a surprise:

    Technical problems added another day to the week-long wait for the next round of ranked-choice ballot counting in Augusta.

    Elections officials had expected to run the tabulations on Tuesday, but problems scanning electronic records of ballots from some communities forced them to delay the count until Wednesday. They now say to expect results of the computer retabulation sometime Wednesday.

    Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn announced Tuesday morning that the ballots submitted on thumb drives from five communities — Gray, Ellsworth, Lewiston, Orland and Westbrook — are not clear scans.

    Thus, elections officials sent back state police back to those municipalities to retrieve the physical ballots.

    So, thumb drives (no security) and everything done from central location (no necessity). Note that hand-marked, hand-counted paper ballots have none of these problems.

    The political class in Maine hates RCV, and the latest “technical problems” look to a cynical observer more like the outcome of a process that’s broken by design.

    1. mcdee

      The political class…hates RCV. Here in Santa Fe we had our first RCV election (mayor, city council) last March. The voters approved it for city elections in 2010. The city establishment dragged their feet, found obstacle after obstacle and it finally took a lawsuit to get the city to implement the RCV which had been oked 8 years earlier. The big complaint afterwards was it took too long to count the votes. Winners weren’t announced til after midnight. A prominent local columnist called for the city clerk to be fired.
      The most interesting thing about it for me was that it was probably the most issue oriented and cleanest campaign I’ve seen and I’ve been voting since 1968. If you sling mud at your opponents there is the chance their supporters will not make you their 2nd choice or 3rd, etc. Might not include you at all.
      There was one thing about the election that Was quite normal. The one that spent the most money, Alan Webber, won the election.

  12. KB

    Re: immigration.
    This is so exhausting…the hyperbole by the left is down right scary….My own experience in “fly over land” and I am as progressive (past Democrat, now Independent I guess) as they come.

    Just today on my city community facebook page a “block captain” announced she was quitting, as the pre-National Night Out meeting would include a PR person from Homeland Security. She totally over exaggerated their intentions and all Heck broke loose to the point that the city police dept. dropped their speaker who was intending to explain their priorities…..OMG..I can’t handle this anymore.
    Meanwhile, I can’t speak about my next door neighbor who has harbored 10 illegal men in her basement. 2 police calls for burglary, 3 Sheriffs calls for ?..and a US Marshall to my door to ask about her after a previously deported sexual predator caught drunk driving lived downstairs..in just 4 years.
    This is so crazy….can’t get the city to do a thing as we are a sanctuary city and the mayor told me they are afraid of being sued for discrimination. Meanwhile after ruining the property next to me, not to mention my new lifestyle dealing with public urination etc. and no mowing etc….I have to watch my neighbors on facebook say National Night Out CANNOT bring a Homeland Security person here as there are too many people who might feel intimidated!….

    As the stats show thousands of citizens are dying of despair, my own twin committed suicide for same reason (John Deere) and we are supposed to stay quiet!….

    What are we supposed to do?….just feel hopeless?

    1. Arizona Slim

      I hope that your fellow Facebookers never become crime victims. Because if they do, they will have a very different perspective on the police.

      I know I do.

      After my last vacation, I came home to a house that had been ransacked. My first call was to 911, and it took six and a half hours for the police to show up. Not the most impressive response.

      That was the worst of it.

      When the three officers did show up, they did a pretty thorough investigation of my crime scene, and that included DNA swabs. Lucky me, I’m now in the police department DNA database. They got my DNA from a computer cable that had been connected to one of the many pieces of equipment that had been stolen.

      Then came the hurry up and wait phase, which included my providing a list of all the things that were stolen, and that led to the recovery of some of my stuff. It had been taken to a pawn shop, but the police didn’t have enough evidence to arrest the lady who had pawned it. Oh, well.

      I have neighbors like KB’s and I and some of my other, more reputable neighbors suspect that there was nefarious neighbor involvement in my burglary. But the police don’t have enough evidence to execute search warrants or arrest anyone. Oh, well.

      What gives me hope is what my detective recently told me: “There will be a slip-up.” The cops count on crooks being stupid, which they often are. Just watch those dumb criminal videos on YouTube and you’ll see plenty of examples.

      Nowadays, whenever I leave home, I set my alarm system with my middle finger. It’s my salute to the people who broke into my place and turned my life upside down.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        From Wikipedia, Crime in Mexico.

        The year there is data to compare to that of the US is 2004.

        For total crimes per 100,000,

        Mexico: 425.98 USA: 4118.76

        That seems counter-intuitive (many think Mexico is not as safe), but at least in this case, Mexico is safer than America.

        I think the biggest difference is due to theft;

        Mexico: 112.47 USA: 2445.80

        Perhaps people are underselling Mexico, in an effort to profit from smuggling more into America to be exploited.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      What are we supposed to do?….just feel hopeless?

      Short answer: yes. Much if not most of what bombards us on a daily basis is intended to ensure we remain convinced all is lost, this is how things have to be, and we are powerless to do anything about it. It’s also why so many people can’t see the corrupt capitalist forest for the fake trees they have been trained to react to after generations of mind manipulation and carefully constructed “news.”

      In far too many places in these United States, the socialization level is stalled at about a 9th-grade level. Think about that for a moment then apply it to the incidents you cited. I begin to think we as a nation have been artificially kept at an adolescent level to ensure we react to figures of authority in the proper, childlike manner.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        9th Grade? If the intent is to ensure we react to figures of authority in the proper manner I would guess there will be efforts to push the level of socialization down by a few grades to an elementary school level.

  13. BoyDownTheLane

    “… Undocumented immigrants from five countries were arrested during a checkpoint over the weekend on Interstate 93 in Woodstock.

    During the three-day operation, Border Patrol agents from the Swanton Sector arrested five people from Brazil, China, Ecuador, El Salvador and Mexico. They were transferred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody, officials said.

    Officials said the Swanton Sector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for securing the northern land borders between ports of entry in New Hampshire, Vermont and New York…..”

    * * * *

    Movie recommendation of the week: “Arrival” with Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner

    1. DonCoyote

      Arrival is very good. IMO, it’s not quite as good as the SF story it’s based on, Story of Your Life, but still very good.

      {Spoiler alert}

      Humans had developed a sequential mode of awareness, while heptapods had developed a simultaneous mode of awareness. We experienced events in an order,and perceived their relationship as cause and effect. They experienced all events at once,and perceived a purpose underlying them all.
      Freedom isn’t an illusion;it’s perfectly real in the context of sequential consciousness. Within the context of simultaneous consciousness, freedom is not meaningful,but neither is coercion; it’s simply a different context, no more or less valid than the other.

      I was taught predestination in the context of religion; the story (and, to a lesser extent, the movie) teaches predestination in the context of consciousness.

  14. PKMKII

    It feels gross to be even considering what the electoral ramifications are from the fight to prevent asylum-seeking families from being separated. Toddlers wailing for their parents are being put in cages, that stopping is more important to me than whatever slight effect it has on the liberal vs. progressive battle. And I’m sure DSA, IWW, etc., are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time; you can fight for the asylum-seekers and undocumented (typically working class themselves) while also fighting to alleviate the economic situations that lead to deaths of despair writ large.

    1. KB

      Not when liberals don’t let you speak and if you do you are a racist…..
      Can’t even tell my neighbors what is going on in my neighborhood, how is that enlightening?
      Plus how many immigrants, foster kids, special needs kids. adopted kids have you housed in your house?….
      Of course you can chew gum and walk at the same time….but, are we?

      1. pretzelattack

        what liberals stopped you from speaking? who is stopping you from talking to your neighbors?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It feels gross to be even considering what the electoral ramifications are

      You can be 100% sure that’s exactly what the professionals are doing right now. It doesn’t feel gross to them.

      > And I’m sure DSA, IWW, etc., are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time;

      Decapitation is a time-honored tactic. Perhaps this time it’s different

      > also fighting to alleviate the economic situations that lead to deaths of despair writ large.

      Do you see this in the coverage? I’m not, which is why I keep raising the issue.

      Sorry you feel gross. There’s a lot of that going about.

    3. dcblogger

      stopping is more important to me than whatever slight effect it has on the liberal vs. progressive battle. And I’m sure DSA, IWW, etc., are capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time;

      so good, it had to be repeated.
      it was glorious that DSA forced Sec Neilsen from that restaurant. this is just the beginning. Not just ICE, but all their contractors will come under immense pressure. And then all the institutional investors on those contractors.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        The ripple upward to the investors is a systematic effect, a perspective the commenter does not share.

        I don’t see “for profit prisons” in the messaging anywhere, sadly, so we’ll hope the ripple upward to investors happens later and isn’t wishful thinking here. (I think the Intercept is sniffing round that aspect of the story, so that may help, but one would think that message would be catnip for the left, who should be following the money if anyone does.)

        For me, the ideal outcome would be that families are, indeed, kept together, and that the Democrats get no credit for the outcome (as indeed they should not). It’s amazing that this simple concept seems so hard to grasp.

        UPDATE Adding, I forgot to point out how much work the question begging “slight effect” is doing. The effect may be slight in the event, but the liberal Democrats certainly aren’t acting like they believe that. They’ve thrown all the media resources they have into the fray, and they’ve also got Republicans like Laura Bush weighing in — fitting neatly into the Democrat strategy of appealing to them (as opposed to expanding the base). Of course, cheap maids and yardmen are a bipartisan concern; both Democrat and Republican 10%-ers require them (and, to be fair, have empathy for them). Maybe this finally signals the pivot from Russia Russia Russia.

    4. 4corners

      I agree it’s gross. These are real people and real tears. But the narrative itself is politics. Who knows whether all these asylum claims are authentic. It’s all so sensational. And let’s keep in mind that these would-be immigrants had a major part in creating their dilemma at the border. I certainly don’t fault their motives or condone the separations, but to characterize these immigrants as the hapless victims of Trump’s jackbooted ICE seems simplistic.

      I tend to like people who want to “fight for undocumented and asylum-seekers”. Those are the people I like to have beers with on Friday. But I have yet to hear any of these sketch out exactly what this means when it comes to immigration policy. If we don’t allow everyone, then it becomes a question of who and how many. To me, fairness and equal opportunity are more important than supporting a self-selected group at the southern border.

      1. curlydan

        The crux of the matter to me is that prosecution does not equal persecution. Too many fall into that trap on a daily basis, and Miller, Trump, and Neilsen all took a step way over the line in this case.

    5. marym

      It is definitely a very good thing that this process has been stopped for now.

      Journalists have been saying on twitter that DOJ and HHS have no protocols in place to reunite families and no special effort is planned for this. One is currently quoting “HHS” as saying the children will not be re-united with their parents (Link). Great damage has already been done to children due to the separation, and to being in facilities not prepared to care for them. Their fate continues to be uncertain. Not adding to the numbers is important, while advocacy and legal groups can get involved to help.

      The goal of the executive order seems now to be indefinite detention for children and parents, though this would require getting a legal agreement overturned that limits detention of minors to 20 days (Link).

      I don’t disagree with the critique of the motives and the inadequacy of the response of establishment Democrats. One can only hope (and contribute where possible) for a continuing grassroots consciousness of the issues at hand, and the connections to other issues, past and present, that have gotten us here.

    6. Matt

      The DSA protestors were chanting for no borders and allowing unrestricted immigration. How would that “alleviate the economic situations that lead to deaths of despair writ large.”?

        1. Matt

          No, this was in a separate article I was reading about what the protestors were demanding. I’ll see if I can find it

      1. Nick

        Um, the OP posited these as two different things that could be done simultaneously.

        And anyway anti-facism is a precursor to the kind of solutions sought by DSA. I mean who wants to nationalize industry if that means it’s going to be administered by Trump and company?

        1. Matt

          Again, how? Does unrestricted immigration make a job guarantee, guaranteed housing, and free healthcare more or less likely?

    7. anonymous

      Haven’t had time to research this but there seems to be an increased influx of families at the US border.

      Dems are going to milk this fiasco right up until the mid-terms.

      Rachel’s performance was sickening. Her war mongering suggests she’d be fine with 30 million Koreans getting vaporized so her concern for these migrant children seems transparently fake.

    8. VietnamVet

      The border reporting is media virtual signaling; something to blame Trump for and to rile up the liberal women and Latino identity wedges. The thing is that the border crisis is for real. The migration of millions is directly caused by war, destabilization, and neo-liberal smart money seeking cheap investments. With climate change, there will be millions more humans on the move trying to survive.

      The Trump spokespersons were a little befuddled because the duopoly forces 20,000 US kids into foster-care every year in order to fill “for profit” prisons with their parents without one whimper. Not to mention, the enthusiastic support for the forever Muslim Holy War that is destroying families across Africa and the Middle East.

  15. Synoia

    why aren’t languages more iconic?

    I’m feeling stupid. What does that question mean?

    Some Examples?

    1. Jim Haygood

      One worries that the infamous Lindsay and Boyle are at it again:

      “Assuming the pen names ‘Jamie Lindsay’ and ‘Peter Boyle,’ we wrote an absurd paper loosely composed in the style of post-structuralist discursive gender theory.

      “We assumed that if we were merely clear in our moral implications that maleness is intrinsically bad and that the penis is somehow at the root of it, we could get the paper published in a respectable journal,” they explained.

      In the paper, the duo argued that the “conceptual penis” and “hypermasculine dominance” cause climate change — a conclusion the likely progressive academic reviewers probably applauded.

      Indeed, according to the academics, the editors of the journal loved their conclusion that penises “are not best understood as the male sexual organ” but rather as a “social construct that is both damaging and problematic for society and future generations.”

      “Cogent Social Sciences happily swallowed the pill. It left utter nonsense easy to disguise,” they explained.


      It is left to us to pen the sequel, “Iconicity of the Conceptual Phallus as a Sociolinguistic Construction.”

    2. bob mcmanus

      Japanese, Chinese…Korean not so sure, got rationalized

      Google “traditional kanji radicals” and yes the Japanese use them to guess the meaning of complicated characters

      囚 (1353: prisoner) person in a box

      Other than that, Egyptian hieroglyphics? Can’t say I read the paper

      1. bob mcmanus

        Oh, I apparently have this mostly wrong. Anyone interested can start with “iconicity” at Wikipedia, which doesn’t mention Japanese

        An example on the page from Roman Jakobson is “long longer longest” Shrug.

        I am interested in cinema and “visual language,” but Christian Metz (structuralist semiotics applied to film) is way out of fashion.

        I think it is a field because if what we might want nextgen artifical intelligence to be able to do in interpreting images. But I am way over my head.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Chinese is based on ideograms. I have no idea what iconicity means outside the context of the link — which I didn’t read. Chinese ideograms derive from an ancient picture writing system, where pictures reduced to simple images, later reduced to strokes (as in brush or now pen strokes) represent words and concepts.

          Japanese uses a subset of Chinese ideograms for their formal writing — of Japanese words — but they assign a plurality of phonetic readings to various combinations of ideograms and just for fun they added a phonetic script called hiragana to spell out the phonetics of Japanese word endings which have no equivalent in Chinese grammar. I believe — but don’t know for sure — the meanings of various combinations of Japanese ideograms correspond with varying degrees of matching similar combinations of ideograms in Chinese. In addition to the Chinese ideograms — kanji — and the Japanese script for Japanese word endings — hiragana — the Japanese constructed a special phonetic script called katakana for writing foreign words adopted into the Japanese language, but as welcome to the Japanese as Gaijin. The hiragana is used to write books in what the Japanese deprecate as women’s writing. Just to make things interesting the Japanese have another phonetic script called furigana which shows up in a large number of the Japanese manga. It usually rides somewhere below the kanji writing to help with pronunciation of the language in the manga speech bubbles.

          Modern Korean uses a largely phonetic script called Hangul. I believe Hangul is much more phonetic than English, but with some occasional complications in pronunciation rules. Occasionally some Chinese ideograms may be used.

          I have only visited Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea and would gladly defer to correction or elaboration to anyone more intimate with these countries and languages.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Japanese uses a subset of Chinese ideograms for their formal writing — of Japanese words — but they assign a plurality of phonetic readings to various combinations of ideograms

            I understand the reason for the plurality of phonetic readings is something like the following.

            Say, first, for thousands of years, the Japanese Yamato natives called mountain ‘yama.’

            Then the monks brought the Chinese character for it back from China and told them to write it as 山, with a brush pen.

            And they also taught them to say the word 山 as ‘san,’ depending on when and where the monks learn to pronounce it in China. A lot of the Chinese words were learned by Japanese monks during the Song dynasty (thus did not retain the more ancient sounds that might be preserved, even today, in the Min Nan dialect of Fujianese), and mostly from Zhejiang province around Hangzhou.

            (Today, the Putonghua pronunciation for it is ‘Shan’ )

            Now, you have two ways of saying ‘mountain.’

            1. Jeremy Grimm

              I was thinking about how Japanese word processors work. You type in hiragana and get a selection of various combinations of kanji characters representing each of the many concepts the same Japanese spoken word can intend. The underlying problem is a very large number of homophones in Japanese — words pronounced the same way but written very differently according to the concept the speaker intends. As far as I know a single kanji ideogram like yama (not sure this is true for yama specifically) might have several different pronunciations depending on what other ideograms it is combined with. I think that is one of the reasons the furigana are added in manga.

              1. blennylips

                The ever dependable Language Log has long had an interest in Japanese word processing.

                Japanese survey on forgetting how to write kanji

                From comments there:

                There a few reasons why kanji are necessary. One is legibility–Japanese written entirely in hiragana is almost impossible to read. You can try to get around this by putting spaces between the words, but then you have to force there to be a clear distinction between words that sometimes doesn’t really exist. (Japanese is often written with spaces *between “phrases”*, particularly for providing clarity when representing a spoken style of Japanese, but that’s something very different.)

          2. Dwight

            Good summary of Japanese writing. Quibbles – hiragana was used by women authors many centuries ago, but not now. Children’s books are written in hiragana. Furigana is not a different script – it’s hiragana used to show pronunciation of Chinese characters.

  16. hemeantwell

    Re the sensory history angle, I dunno. It starts off well enough with the idea that a repressive social situation would manifest itself in a demand for sensual orderliness. But then he wobbles:

    In “The Sounds of Secession,” Smith invites readers to listen in to transformations in the Charleston soundscape from the first murmurs of dissension sparked by Abraham Lincoln’s election through the “storm of cheers” that greeted the signing of the Ordinance of Secession in November 1860 to the deafening bombardment of the Union stronghold at Fort Sumter in April 1861. Thousands of Charlestonians exited their homes to witness the conflagration in the harbor: “Unused as their ears were to the appalling sounds, or the vivid flashes from the batteries, they stood for hours fascinated with horror” (33).

    How about “unused as they were to witnessing the military consequences of secession and the onset of civil war”?

    To try to tease out a form of trauma horror based on novel, powerful sense impressions from fear induced by impending war reminds me of the kind of psychosurgery that cognitive psychologists often try to pull off. As an example, a while back an article on why we can get a tune stuck in our head was linked here. The explanation offered was that we need to complete the tune, a kind of closure demand. This kind of psychic economy notion ignores the fact that people often get a tune going whose lyrics bear some relation to current experience. E.g., “Hey, you’ve got to hide your love away” murmuring away in your head can be soothing to someone who’s just undergone a breakup. In terms of this example, it is strikingly narrow-minded, and sorta magical, really, to think that just listening to the entire song would relieve the press for respite from sadness. So, I’m wary of a potential for wrong-headed abstraction here.

      1. tegnost

        well, history disciplines you by repeatedly bludgeoning your familiar failings, while psychology calls you insane for letting it happen over and over again?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I prefer the historians because I prefer their method. I find Richard J. Evans’s interrogation of Luise Solmitz’ diaries more illuminating than treatises on Nazi toilet training. Although anybody who wants to recommend a real good book on the psychology of fascism, feel free (but not the authoritarian followers guy).

          1. The Rev Kev

            Historians are the bane of modern institutions as they have a long-term memory as demonstrated here-

            Economist: What if we…
            Historian: Nope. Already been done in Germany. You do that and it will cause hyperinflation.

            Politician: What if I create a new law to…
            Historian: Nope. They tried that in France and the government imploded within two weeks.

            Psychologist: What if we use social pressure to get people to…
            Historian: Nope. Already been done and it fragmented a whole generation for decades.

            See. They can be real party-poopers for a whole bunch of Larry Lightbulbs.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      If find humming a few bars of The Elephant Walk will clear away any other tune. If I get stuck with Elephant walk in my head, I probably need a nap or something anyway.

      1. polecat

        I’ve had Grand Funk Railroad’s “American Band” on an intermitten loop in my head for almost 2 weeks now. I don’t even like GFR !
        Why couldn’t be something from the likes of Steely Dan .. now THAT I could live with ..

  17. DJG

    What we don’t talk about when we talk about immigrants.


    What we owe to the Native Americans, whose children were taken away to be “civilized.” Ever hear of the Carlisle Indian School, one of twenty six? And the other programs mentioned by Linda LeGarde Grover?

    And this is why the pipeline protests meant so much–and the government response was so despicable.

  18. DJG

    Who was hot in history? I think that many of these sites and essays and speculations come from our desire to know the past, from the WWW’s ability to transmit images, and from the accessibility of the past. (Ironically, the article writer thinks much is due to Hamilton, who was almost as enigmatic as his nemesis Aaron Burr. Hmmm. She must have a taste for difficult dates.)

    Museums and galleries are responsible, too: I recall standing in front of a monumental nude statue of Antoninus Pius in Rome. Strapping A.P. managed the empire well, reigned long and not-too-eventfully, was pious (an important virtue among the Romans), and was good looking. Somehow, his good looks emanate “handsome is as handsome does,” which is part of the appeal of many of these historic figures.

    Here in Illinois, there have been endless fights over a daguerreotype that may or may not be a slyly sexy young Abraham Lincoln as well as Lincoln’s sleeping arrangements with Joshua Fry Speed. Somehow, Lincoln remains one of our most human and humane presidents–someone charismatic–with enough allure to maintain the Republic and have his own line of cologne. (And check out the photo in the article of Ulysses S. Grant–with looks like that, of course the Union was destined to win.)

    Let’s just say that compared to these guys, Bill Clinton has looked like a puffy neo-liberal all along.

    Therefore, and for good historical, practical, and sentimental reasons, on Clark Street and Peterson in Chicago, there is the statue of young Lincoln widely known as Abe the Babe.

    And for you true history buffs, Bangable Dudes uses pie charts to quantify attractiveness. How historical can one get?


    The word history means story, and that’s what it is.

  19. Summer

    Interesting how “deport them” became “hold them in privatized jails for as long as possible, guarded by as many of the most abject among us that can be found.”

    Still not much about the foreign policies amd trade policies that cause FORCED migration.

    1. 4corners

      While I agree that US policies have wreaked a lot of havoc, I’m not sure “Forced” is a useful standard. I suspect most of the folks at the border are probably somewhere between wants and wishes, desperation and aspiration.

      Yes, shady profit motives always seek to lurk beneath public administration.

      I’ve recently chatted with some ICE employees in line to get coffee. They struck me as blue collar locals with names that end in “z”. So, I have a hard time ascribing nefarious motives to any rank-and-file employee.

      1. Summer

        The profit motive isn’t lurking, it’s on full blast.
        On Huffpo, there’s an article about the psyche drugs the children are being dosed with…
        So that’s the pharma cut of the action.

  20. ewmayer

    “Hillary Clinton: I Warned You Of Trump Separating Families, ‘People Being Rounded Up On Trains And Buses’” [RealClearPolitics]

    Lest we forget, some numbers on total deportations under the last three 2-term presidents from the most-recent friday Roaming Charges article by Counterpunch‘s Jeff St. Clair:

    As with most vile policies over the last 25 years, when it comes to deportations it was Clinton who led the way:

    Total Deportations:

    o Clinton: 12.3 Million
    o GW Bush: 10.3 Million
    o Obama: 5.2 million

  21. flora

    Thanks for the 2020 and 2018 links and comments.

    The poor peoples’ campaign is ignored by the MSM. The ‘law enforcement for profit’ grift is ignored by the MSM, unless a temporary partisan political angle can be found. These are stories about people the MSM apparently thinks aren’t worth reporting because the elite bubble thinks of them as “those people”; more and more of us are regarded as “those people” by the neoliberal grifters and their MSM.

    So many abuses have grown up in the MSM’s silence and looking away: the fraudulent foreclosures, rising homelessness, law enforcement for profit, deaths from despair, opiod epidemic, grifting insurance companies, it’s a long list. People caught in these nets are pretty much dismissed as “those people” and not worth reporting by the MSM.

    Oh, for an Ed Murrow or Eric Sevareid. Absent MSM reporting NC fills the breach. Thanks.

  22. Big River Bandido

    Starbucks also plans to close about 150 company-operated stores in densely penetrated U.S. markets next fiscal year, three times the number it historically shuts down annually.”

    “Densely-penetrated markets.” Would those be the markets where, for example, if you don’t like the Starbucks location right in front of you, you could walk two blocks in any direction and choose a different one? Somehow, I think that’s what this means. And somehow, I feel like 150 fewer of those Starbucks stores would be a good thing.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I drank instant organic coffee.

      Somehow, I doubt I would be less sleepy with something more expensive….I feel like napping now.

    2. 4corners

      Haha. In Chicago it’s more like one block. I’m not necessarily anti-Starbucks (until someone on this site tells me to be). But let’s face it, they’re really in the milk business. And when I think of cows I think of methane.

      1. Old Jake

        But let’s face it, they’re really in the milk business.

        Perhaps not milk so much as sugar.

      2. Big River Bandido

        I have always felt that the ubiquitous chain stores — the Starbucks, McDonalds, and Dunkin’ Donuts of the world — were primarily in the real-estate business, at least in the sense that their business model is completely dependent on the acquisition of properties.

        1. 4corners

          Interesting to think of coffee and burgers as interim uses for massive real estate plays. If only that had worked out for Sears.

        1. polecat

          1.) Grind whole beans coarsely, while adding to the grind …
          2.) Whole cloves, ceylon cinnamon, .. and some grated nutmeg, then transfer to a …
          3.) French press, adding boiling water to fill, press away, and …
          4.) Add milk, cream, soy, whatever .. and Enjoy !

          What’s not to like … besides not overpaying for some over-rated corporate brand … and takes about the same time (or less) between ordering and pickup !

          1. jrs

            having no excuse to leave one’s apartment maybe? That and the caffeine shot have to be the main motives for visiting a sbux. Though I still don’t see the appeal of the drive thrus.

        2. jrs

          it’s a caffeine delivery system, taste is way down there in importance. Just like clove cigarettes and raspberry flavored vape may add novelty, but it’s a nicotine delivery system.

      3. ChrisAtRU

        They’re not the only ones afflicted, I’m afraid. Although to be honest, their whole “Venti” concept has perhaps poisoned the waters more than they would have otherwise been (had, say, Starbucks not come into existence). The perfect size for any (single shot espresso-based) coffee drink to which milk is added is eight ounces IMO. When the scale starts at 12 oz – a Starbucks “Tall” – you really are drinking coffee-flavored milk.

    3. a different chris

      I agree with “less Starbucks is better” all the way down to zero.

      But I think the interesting thing is that they aren’t losing money. Instead, the God of Groaf has them by the short hairs as they are only growing 1%. People are getting paid (not so well but whatever), people are getting coffee (not so good but whatever), and other people (construction, rental, repairs) are also getting some economic activity.

      Not enough, though. Need Groaf!!

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Time for a trade war to clear the air?”

    Hey, that would be a great idea that. I remember how Washington was having all sorts of trade difficulties with Japan back in ’41 with embargoes and the like but the Japanese managed to clear the air in the run up to Christmas of that year.

  24. John k

    Tesla 5% from all time high reached a year ago.
    But Zh says all heavily shorted stocks are being squeezed higher… and that this happens prior to major market corrections.
    Death of this market has been expected for years. Maybe this time, trade spats are growing.
    And Brexit looks to be a shock regardless whether better or not over the long term. Greece not significant, and they stayed in. Brit much larger, bound to affect Eu growth. What will Germany do with all those right hand drive autos? And Spain does without Brit tourists…

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    I saw a good article in a physical copy of the New York Times today. It is titled: Kochs Finance High Tech War Against Transit. It is by Horiko Tabuchi. Since I am paywalled for this month, I can only call up the URL online and offer it to people who might not be paywalled. It offers many lessons on how to run an effective movement if you have the money to spend on committed volunteers who like to spend time on movements like this and just need to be weaponised.

    Perhaps it can offer clues to pro-transit groups for how to activise and mobilise people. Perhaps it can offer clues for an effective and properly targetted counter-Koch movement as well.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Open an incognito window in Chrome or other browsers and use it till you hit your article limit. Then close it and open another one. Starve the MSM. :-)

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Thanks. But I am so analog I am not sure I even understood what you wrote. But I will try finding a computerate younger person to help me with it.

        And even if I don’t, others who are under the three article per month free-limit for NyTimes might still want to read this article.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        And now, as I have read backward in time a little deeper into the piling-up posts, I see that this article had already been linked-to in a prior post. So my mentioning it again could have been merely redundant, except that your reply showing how to get around the paywall could open that article up to anyone else who has also hit that paywall.

        I would like for the McKibben 350 group and other such groups to read the article and really really study the Koch-Family-Of-ThinkTanks-and-DoTanks to learn how this is really done, done successfully and done for keeps. The McKibbies should learn and use all the weapons that the Kochies know and use. Since the McKibbies will never have the money the Kochies have, the McKibbies will have to rely on even more people, spending their time as effectively as the devoted Fans-Of-Koch are spending their time.

        And since the building or preventing of energy-efficient mass transit systems in mid-range mid-rank cities all over America seems to be a battlefield very important to the Kochies . . . in terms of preventing energy conservation from ever happening . . . perhaps the McKibbies should adopt the same level of kill-or-die commitment to the war FOR mass transit systems, and wage that war town by town and city by city, wherever such systems are sensibly proposed.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          There are two things that the Kochs have that the 350.org’s don’t have:
          1. Billions of dollars to spend creating political infrastructure and hiring political activists
          2. A presence on the ground in these communities.

          In theory, money could solve both problems. In reality, the continual search for funding always leads NGOs to tailor their agendas to suit their funders. But even if Tom Steyer were willing to fund 350 to do AfP-style outreach, the Big Sort (progs really like to live among other progs) leaves the 350’s having to parachute into communities in which they are not otherwise present.

  26. freedomny

    “Dr. Atul Gawande to lead Amazon, JPMorgan, Berkshire healthcare venture”

    Not sure how this makes me feel – especially since I loved his book.

    1. a different chris

      Well I didn’t read his book, so I hope you are right that he’s a good guy. But this is ridiculous:

      Gawande to lead Amazon, JPMorgan, Berkshire healthcare venture” [Modern Health Care]. … Gawande practices general and endocrine surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and teaches at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School. He is also the executive director of Ariadne Labs, a staff writer for The New Yorker and a best-selling author

      No. Just no. You are not practicing surgery on a loved one of mine with one ear pressed against your cell phone. Nobody is that good, sorry. You can’t convince me that your whole life is wrapped up in “endocrine surgery” when you seem to want to be a CEO also. You can’t be a CEO if you want to be alone for the kind of time that it takes to write well.

      He needs to learn how to say “No”, mostly to himself.

  27. ChrisAtRU


    Also a great album by PM Dawn!!

    As for Maddow’s weeping … the tweet Lambert has re-upped is testament to the cognitive dissonance of the liberal media class, their minders and their minions.

  28. liam

    A simple question? What would be the ethical and political implications of just giving each potential elector the more or less $1.2 million dollars spent to try get them to vote for each respective candidate?

    As it currently is it really does strike me as just money laundering of the most sordid kind.

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