2:00PM Water Cooler 6/22/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Tariff War With China Hits California Cotton Market” [California Apparel News]. “In the latest salvo in the tariff war between the United States and China, the U.S. cotton industry is expected to receive a direct hit as China piles on an additional 25 percent tariff on U.S. uncombed-cotton imports. The tariff, which goes into effect July 6, is already being felt in California—where farmers in the Central Valley region of the state cultivate highly prized long-staple American Pima cotton that is soft to the touch and durable. Most of the crop is exported to China and India…. about 95 percent of the American Pima crop is exported every year, and typically China imports about 40 percent of that crop.”

“EU Retaliation Tariffs Begin — Includes Apparel and Fashion” [Apparel]. “Beginning today, U.S. exports to the European Union will face an extra duty at their border. The duty will be levied against a range of products including agricultural goods and steel and aluminum, as well as many fashion and apparel articles, each of which will be assessed an additional 25 percent ad valorem tariff penalty… These duties come in response to tariffs imposed by President Trump on EU steel and aluminum on June 1. Europeans claim that breaks global trade rules.”

“Trump’s Metal Tariffs Have Yielded More Than $775 Million So Far” [Industry Week]. “Companies can win product exclusions from the metal tariffs after requests are posted online for 30 days for any objections if the needed raw material is not produced in the U.S. in a sufficient amount or quality, or for a specific national security reason…. As of Monday, there were 20,000 exclusion requests on steel duties with almost 1,800 objections posted, and 2,500 aluminum filings with about 50 objections posted. But more than 9,500 total requests and almost 2,000 objections are still pending for review, according to the Commerce Department.”



“A Night Among the Trump Believers Way Up North” [Ana Marie Cox, Rolling Stone]. “Look deeper than skin and you’ll find Duluth is a struggling post-manufacturing cipher with the highest drug overdose rate in the state. U.S. Steel closed its gigantic Morgan Park plant in 1981, causing a slow cascade of desolation that stilled the concrete and hardboard plants and emptied out the grain elevators. Today, the small city of 80,000 scrapes by on tourism and as a port. There’s a paper plant that has been on the verge of closing for 10 years. Duluth has a poverty rate (21 percent) that would rank it among the most desperate counties in West Virginia and per capita income just below that of Wheeling. Lake Superior’s merciless beauty crashes up against a town whose shoreside skyline is dominated by stolid, brutalist mid-century relics and precarious-seeming industrial shipping contraptions, rusty and mostly silent. Downtown, every surface is covered with a thin layer of grime. It is, in other words, potential Trump Country…. That’s the way the end of democracy sounds, I think: People so eager to join a chant they do it before they know all the words.” • “Post-manufacturing cipher” is doing rather a lot of work in that paragraph, no? And “chanting” hardly seems in short supply…


“What’s Fueling Trump’s Rise in the Polls” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “The Trump presidency has a plethora of unique attributes, but one of the most surprising to me is the lack of volatility of his poll numbers. Using the Gallup Organization’s weekly polling as a yardstick so that we are comparing apples and apples, his job-approval rating to date has averaged 39 percent, usually staying in the 36 to 42 percent range. There have been many weeks when developments seemed to go his way but his approval numbers didn’t go up much, if any. Other weeks, there was a lot of seemingly bad news but his approval numbers would go down very little, if at all. Spoiler alert: Korean summit developments and favorable economic news seem to be the magic elixirs for Trump, at least so far. When Trump’s Gallup numbers go much outside that window of 36 to 42 percent, it is worth noting.”

MO Senate: “McCaskill’s husband invested $1 million in hedge fund tied to Caymans” [Kansas City Star]. “As a U.S. senator, Claire McCaskill supports cracking down on offshore tax havens. But the Missouri Democrat’s husband has invested $1 million in a hedge fund tied to the Cayman Islands, one of the world’s most notorious tax havens. Joseph Shepard’s investment in Matrix Capital Management has earned him between $230,000 and $2.1 million in income since he first invested in 2013, according to McCaskill’s financial disclosure forms… Bloomberg Markets Magazine recognized Matrix Capital Management as the second best-performing hedge fund on its list of 100 top-performing hedge funds in 2013, the year Shepard invested.”

ME Senate: “Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Maine arrested near U.S-Mexico border” [Bangor Daily News]. “Ringelstein, a Yarmouth educator vying to unseat independent incumbent U.S. Sen. Angus King, traveled to Texas and attempted to access the facility for a tour and to deliver a truckload of toys, bedding and water to children he says are being held inside the facility after being detained for illegally crossing the U.S. border with their parents.” • A stunt by Zak Ringelstein, who also supports Medicare for All (uses “single payer,” so not faux liberal). So I’m going to have to give Ringelstein serious thought.

WV Senate: “Never Say Die Senate Candidates: Don Blankenship Lost His Primary but Plans to Run in November Anyway” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “[I]t remains to be seen if Blankenship will qualify for the general election ballot. Like most states, West Virginia’s election code has statutory elements that either expressly or effectively prevent candidates who lost a party primary from running as the nominee of another party or as an independent.”

NY Governor: “What is Serve America Movement? Obscure new party backs Stephanie Miner for governor” [Syracuse.com]. “Stephanie Miner’s foray into the governor’s race Monday came as little surprise. But she’s running with a barely known non-partisan outfit based in Denver that left many political observers scratching their heads, wondering, “what’s that?” Miner, a Democrat, will carry the torch of an obscure new political group called the Serve America Movement [here]– a group of former partisans founded in the wake of the 2016 presidential election. In ditching the Democrats, Miner angered local party leaders, who accused her of playing spoiler in the gubernatorial race this fall.”

UPDATE He’s a real Democrat!


* * *

UPDATE “Democrats look to gain in Southern California as outrage mounts over family separations” [Yahoo News]. “Due to diversifying demographics, declining GOP registration and Trump’s difficulties appealing to college-educated suburbanites, Democrats outperformed their 2016 primary results countywide: by 9 percentage points in CA-49, 6 percentage points in CA-48 and 11 percentage points in both CA-38 and CA-45. The expert handicappers at the Cook Political Report currently rate one of these races as Lean Republican (CA-45), two as tossups (CA-39, CA-48), and one as Lean Democratic (CA-49). Orange County is, in short, one of the most politically volatile environments in the country right now — and in recent days the forced-family-separation issue has detonated there like a bomb. All five Democratic candidates have spoken out forcefully against the administration’s approach.” • As I’ve been saying since this moral panic began…

“Trump’s Family Separation Scandal Has Revealed Every Species of Hypocrite” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. “The heated controversy over Trump’s awful family separation policy has been like one of those bug-zapping lights people stick next to pools – it’s attracted virtually every species of hypocrite in American public life. The most conspicuous and ridiculous of these are the hand-over-heart never-Trump Republicans who – after decades of pushing vicious anti-immigrant rhetoric themselves – are now coming out of the woodwork to talk about how mistreatment of the undocumented is contrary to ‘our principles and values.'” • Taibbi never mentions there’s a runner-up to the Never Trumpers…

“Confusion swirls on border after Trump reversal on families” [Associated Press]. “The federal public defender’s office for the region that covers El Paso to San Antonio said Thursday that federal prosecutors would be dismissing cases in which parents were charged with illegally entering the country and separated from their children. ‘Going forward, they will no longer bring criminal charges against a parent or parents entering the United States if they have their child with them,’ wrote Maureen Scott Franco, public defender for the Western District of Texas, in an email shown to the AP. In the Texas border city of McAllen, federal prosecutors unexpectedly did not pursue charges against 17 immigrants Thursday. A prosecutor cited Trump’s executive order Wednesday ending the practice of separating families. But the Justice Department denied ‘zero tolerance’ has been rolled back.”

“Trump to GOP: Stop ‘Wasting’ Time on Immigration” [Roll Call]. “That House immigration bill is merely a compromise among the chamber’s GOP leadership and its various conservative and moderate factions. It is not expected to get any Democratic support and appears to lack the GOP votes to pass — like a conservative measure that flopped on the floor Thursday. The president suggested Thursday in a tweet that his party should drop its efforts to pass any immigration bill, writing ‘what’s the purpose’ of even having votes if Senate Democrats oppose both House bills.”

“Border patrol agents arrest 1 at I-95 checkpoint about citizenship” [Bangor Daily News]. “‘If you want to continue down the road, then yes ma’am. We need to know what citizen — what country you’re a citizen of,” [a U.S. Customs and Border Protection] agent said Wednesday evening to two BDN reporters who went through the checkpoint. When questioned about what would happen if a driver declined to answer, he said the car would only be able to keep going if, after further questioning and upon the agent’s judgment, ‘the agent is pretty sure that you’re U.S. citizens.’… ” • “Pretty sure,” how? Maine seems somehow to have become more central than it is used to being…. It should be obvious to anyone that I-95 is an obvious choke-point for travel to and from Canada. (I remember in the landfill fight that the trucks bringing out-of-state trash into Maine would perform all sorts of tricks to avoid it, suggesting that the CBP is catching the amateurs.) Note that these border checks have been going on for some time:

I remember border patrol stops on Amtrak trains in upstate New York a few years ago. Pretty gross.

“EXCLUSIVE: ‘They’re together and safe’: Father of Honduran two-year-old who became the face of family separation crisis reveals daughter was never separated from her mother, but the image of her in tears at U.S. border control ‘broke his heart’” [Daily Mail]. • So the heart-tuggingly weaponized photo was fake tendentious, just as so many photos from Syria were. It’s almost like there’s a playbook for this stuff. Digital evidence is not evidence!

UPDATE “Defense Contractors Cashing In On Immigrant Kids’ Detention” [Daily Beast]. • Many of them in the Democrat donor class. The article is illustrated, perhaps not helpfully, with the photo discussed above.

UPDATE “The place to save desperate, crying kids isn’t the U.S. border. It’s Honduras and Guatemala” [Will Bunch, Philadelphia Daily News]. “One problem is that most experts note, correctly, that American meddling in Central American affairs has played such a critical role in leading to the region’s instability and violence in the first place.”

“The liberal lurch left on immigration” [The Week]. “As President Trump steps back from the ledge on a mostly (though not entirely) self-inflicted political crisis at the border, liberals are shifting targets from migrant children being separated from their parents to families being detained at all… Where previous generations of liberals might have been worried about low-wage immigrants, legal or illegal, competing with similarly situated Americans, the dominant concern among contemporary progressives is the fact that immigrants are disproportionately people of color and thus any restrictions or enforcement will have a disparate impact on racial minorities.” And this:

But even many of the more sophisticated advocates for minimal immigration enforcement fail to reckon with the counterarguments: that there are costs to specific Americans even if there are (sometimes overstated) aggregate economic benefits; that those Americans are themselves disproportionately black and Latino; that the victims of MS-13 are frequently Hispanic; that upward mobility isn’t what it used to be; that unregulated immigration does not seem to be having a liberalizing effect either here or in other Western countries and is in fact coinciding with at least a partial resurgence of white racism.

Instead we are having an immigration debate that pits the specific and cruel against the well-intentioned but overly abstract, exaggerated fears against happy talk that ignores inconvenient truths. It’s no way to run a country, and certainly not a nation of immigrants.

I seem to remember another globalization experiment based on “aggregate economic benefits” that had a really nice ring to it: “Free trade.” Because “free” is good, right? Just like the “open” in “open borders” is good… That last experiment didn’t end well and in fact caused life expectancy in the working class to drop, after de-industrialization destroyed communities. Perhaps the open borders movie will have a happier ending. In the absence of a genuinely international working class movement that can prevent labor arbitrage, forgive my skepticism.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“1 big thing: Trump, Russia, the elections — again” [Axios]. As I never tire of repeating, the litmus test for those proposing solutions for the “mechanics of voting” is whether hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public are mentioned; if the system isn’t digital, hackers can’t hack it. (“The cheapest, fastest and most reliable components of a system are those that aren’t there.” –Gordon Bell.) No mention of that in the article. The fact that the intelligence community (“top officials”) is taking charge of the “integrity” of our election systems should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

Biding our time before ranked ballots are counted and the Maine Legislature returns” [Bangor Daily News]. “Good morning from Augusta, where we’re playing the waiting game. The Democratic gubernatorial primary is still locked in ranked-choice counting…” • The Maine political establishment, across the board, hates ranked choice voting, which is reason enough to impose it, as a majority of voters have, twice now. (Here’s a Republican operative’s assault; he notes that some Republican-leaning districts voted against it).

“Kris Kobach Instructs Kansas Election Officials to Violate Order from a Federal Judge” [GritPost]. “Bryan Caskey, who works for Kobach’s office as the elections director for the state, apparently told county clerks on a recent conference call to ignore a federal judge’s recent order to immediately cease its proof-of-citizenship requirement for voters. Kobach spokesperson Danedri Herbert told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the Secretary of State’s office needs more time to review the 118-page order (PDF link) issued by U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson earlier this week… Judge Robinson’s order specified that Kobach must ‘immediately’ inform local election administrators that they are not to require proof of citizenship. However, Herbert said Kobach’s refusal to comply was simply a difference in legal interpretation.”

* * *

UPDATE “States of Emergency” [The Nation]. “Climate change will be so central to human life and global politics in the coming years, [Geoff Mann and Joel Wainwrigh] argue [in their new work of political theory, Climate Leviathan that the response to it will shape the entire future world order.” More:

At the core of Climate Leviathan are four types of political formation that the authors believe are likely to emerge in response to climate change. “Climate Leviathan” would be a system of global capitalism governed by a planetary sovereign—not necessarily the individual ruler Hobbes imagined, but nevertheless a hegemonic power capable of taking drastic action; “Climate Mao,” an anti-capitalist system governed by sovereign power at the level of the nation-state or the planet; “Climate Behemoth,” a capitalist system within the autarchic confines of the nation-state; and “Climate X,” which rejects both capitalism and sovereignty for something yet to be determined. These four possible futures, Mann and Wainwright admit, are thus far inchoate. But as we blow past our carbon targets and the impacts of climate change become increasingly destructive, one of these is likely to emerge as the dominant mode of politics.

The most likely victor, the authors think, is Climate Leviathan.

Poor Peoples campaign:

It will be interesting to watch the coverage of the Poor People’s Campaign this weekend. If there is any.

More consistent messaging from a socialist organization:

Although their ridiculous f-a-a-a-m-ily v-a-a-a-lues tweet is still pinned….

UPDATE “Twitter, Trans Kids, Call-Out Culture, and a $10,000 Blunt” [The Stranger] “The idea that you must be a part of a demographic to write about it is contrary to the very nature of reporting: The job of the reporter is to listen to and relay other people’s stories, but it’s also to look for evidence, to dig into claims, to get at the truth. If you want all your stories to come directly from the source’s mouth, enjoy getting all of your news from social media. Besides, if people only wrote about populations they fit in, that would mean that I’m only allowed to write about 35-year-old lesbians from North Carolina and Jesse is only allowed to write about Boston Jews who love the Celtics and, sorry trans writers, but no more cis stories for you. Hope you don’t want to cover politics.” • Serious points made in a very funny post. Spoiler: She doesn’t smoke the blunt, so I can’t file this under Guillotine Watch.

Stats Watch

PMI Composite Flash, June 2018: “Early indications of factory slowing in June, likely related to tariffs, are beginning to appear” [Econoday]. “The PMI report cites a “clear loss of momentum” with new orders slipping and with export sales at a 2-year low. Production in this sample is also down though the slowing isn’t easing congestion in the supply chain as delivery times deteriorated the most in 11 years. A shortage of truckers tied to tighter regulations is cited. Optimism on the outlook is also sinking, down at year-and-a-half lows…. This report together with Philly offer the first hints of possible tariff effects, and they appear to be negative for growth and also inflationary. The Dallas and Richmond manufacturing reports will be out on Monday and Tuesday of next week respectively and will be closely watched for any new evidence.”

Shipping: “UPS, Teamsters reach agreement; more freight on the road, Sunday deliveries seen” [FreightWaves]. “The Teamsters late Thursday announced it had reached an agreement in principle with UPS for a new five-year deal, avoiding the possibilty of a strike….” • Detail in the post; nothing about two-tier wage structures, thank heavens. Readers?

Commodities: “Why One Island Grows 80% of the World’s Vanilla” [Atlas Obscura]. “Madagascar, where 80 percent of the world’s vanilla comes from, has been going through a rough patch. A perfect storm of drought and a pair of cyclones hit vanilla farmers hard. The rippling effects have disrupted everything from the supply chains of massive multinational companies to the flavoring in fudge…. The reason that Madagascar is still on top of the vanilla game is grim: According to The Financial Times, it’s one of the few regions with the right climate that is also poor enough to make laborious hand-pollination affordable.”

Finance: “Big-name macro brains pull away from hedge fund peers” [Financial News]. “A select group of global macro hedge funds have established clear leads over their rivals so far in 2018, profiting from the return of choppy market conditions that suit their high-octane trading styles. By contrast, many of the more conservative, diversified macro funds run by mainstream asset managers — which have pulled in billions from retail investors in recent years — have struggled. Big political and economic events, such as US President Donald Trump’s moves to reimpose sanctions on Iran and escalate trade tensions with China, or central banks’ moves to raise interest rates after several years of holding them down, are reckoned to benefit macro strategies because as they spook financial markets, they provide savvy investors with trading opportunities.” • So hedgies are volatility voters, too; at least the galaxy-brained ones.

Tech: “Personalisation is Asymmetric Psychological Warfare” [Terence Eden’s Blog]. “Another privacy nightmare. An airline wants its cabin crew to know your birthday and favourite drinks order, to better personalise its service to you. My first instinct is to recoil in horror. It sounds like every dystopian sci-fi epic. But why do I feel this way? Partly it is the lack of genuine personality behind the interaction. It is the Uncanny Valley of sincerity. When Facebook wishes you happy birthday, it is a purely mechanical response – not an outpouring of genuine feeling…. They are hijacking your emotions…. But in the airline example, there is a sinister asymmetry. They know everything about you – and you know nothing about them.”

Privatization: “Trump’s Fix for Postal Service: Privatize It” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Trump administration is proposing to restructure the U.S. Postal Service with an eye to taking it private, a step it said would cut costs and give the financially burdened agency greater flexibility in adjusting to the digital age.” • A long-term, and bipartisan project.

Five Horsemen: “Facebook is at a record high in pre-opening trade” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 22 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s market decline sank the mania-panic index back into the worry zone at 48” [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 21 2018

Police State Watch

“Opinion analysis: Court holds that police will generally need a warrant for cellphone location information” [SCOTUSblog]. “Over 40 years ago, the Supreme Court outlined what has come to be known as the ‘third-party doctrine’ – the idea that the Fourth Amendment does not protect records or information that someone voluntarily shares with someone or something else. Today the Supreme Court ruled that, despite this doctrine, police will generally need to get a warrant to obtain cell-site location information, a record of the cell towers (or other sites) with which a cellphone connected. In an opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts, the five-justice majority pointed to ‘seismic shifts in digital technology,’ which have allowed wireless carriers to collect ‘deeply revealing’ information about cellphone owners that should be protected by the Constitution. Roberts characterized the ruling as a narrow one, but it still drew criticism from the dissenting justices, who complained that it is likely to imperil, in the words of Justice Samuel Alito, ‘many legitimate and valuable investigative practices on which law enforcement has rightfully come to rely.'” • Some rare good news. Now how about defining everything we create, digitally, as being “papers and effects” — 21st Century paper is digital — so the Fourth Amendment really works the way an, er, originalist would think it should work?

Neoliberal Epidemics

“A Landmark Study on the Origins of Alcoholism” [The Atlantic]. “Eric Augier, who recently joined Heilig’s team, tried a different approach… After training rats to self-administer alcohol, he offered them some sugary water, too. This better mimics real life, in which drugs exist simultaneously with other pleasurable substances…. Consistently, 15 percent of them choose alcohol over sugar—the same number as the proportion of human drinkers who progress to alcoholism… Those alcohol-preferring rats showed other hallmarks of human addiction, too. They spend more effort to get a sip of alcohol than their sugar-preferring peers, and they kept on drinking even when their booze supply was spiked with an intensely bitter chemical or paired with an electric shock…. When Augier looked at the amygdala of alcoholic rats, he found signs of unusually low activity in several genes, all of which are linked to a chemical called GABA…. The consequences of this are unclear, but Heilig thinks that all this extra GABA hampers the rats’ ability to deal with fear and stress. They are naturally more anxious, which might explain their vulnerability to alcohol.” • These rats should have chosen to be born with better genes. And as for the human angle, nothing in our econonmy generates fear and stress, so we’re good.

Class Warfare

UPDATE “The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy” [The Atlantic]. “By any sociological or financial measure, it’s good to be us. It’s even better to be our kids. In our health, family life, friendship networks, and level of education, not to mention money, we are crushing the competition below. But we do have a blind spot, and it is located right in the center of the mirror: We seem to be the last to notice just how rapidly we’ve morphed, or what we’ve morphed into.” More:

In between the top 0.1 percent and the bottom 90 percent is a group that has been doing just fine. It has held on to its share of a growing pie decade after decade. And as a group, it owns substantially more wealth than do the other two combined. In the tale of three classes (see Figure 1), it is represented by the gold line floating high and steady while the other two duke it out. You’ll find the new aristocracy there. We are the 9.9 percent.

This is a must read (though it’s not like the 9.9% will listen). Amazingly, the author doesn’t cite to Thomas Frank… But it’s still very good.

“White Deaths Exceed Births in a Majority of U.S. States” [University of Wisconsin Applied Data Lab (KD)]. The growing incidence of this white natural decrease* has important implications for the nation’s demographic future.” • This is the study that gave rise to the depressing Twitter commentary I posted yesterday. You can bet that if the study had included income, the title and the headlines would be both less inflammatory and more accurate. And the commentary would have been better. NOTE * The decrease is “natural” — always watch that word — only if you factor out excess deaths “of despair” due to public policy: Deindustrializing the flyover states.

“Labor’s Pay Gap” [Inside Sources]. “If anything, the AFL-CIO’s flawed research changes the subject — from Big Labor’s own “income inequality crisis.” A review of union financial disclosures filed with the Labor Department found that dozens of union presidents make more than the average CEO. In fact, 146 union presidents earn a higher gross salary than the average CEO ($196,050). Three make more than $500,000 in base salary alone. And union officials can also expect much more than a salary, including paid-for travel expenses and other business disbursements. In 2017, 193 union presidents earned more than $196,050 in total compensation. Timothy Canoll, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, made nearly $793,000. Roger Robinson, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 876, raked in more than $663,000. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, whose labor group put out the Executive Paywatch report, earned more than $315,000 last year — far more than a typical CEO.” • Shockingly, a conservative venue deploys tu quoque. That said, I had discussion at the New York meetup with a reader in a position to know. I asked: “Why do unions suck?” (***cough*** CalPERS ***cough***) and his answer was to do the math how union dues translate into union executive salaries.

“Classless Utopia versus Class Compromise” [American Affairs]. “In academic and journalistic discourse, class is usually equated with an income or wealth category… Defining classes in terms of specialized social or economic functions is an improvement. Ancient Indo-European societies from South Asia to western Europe tended to share the idea that the community was divided among warriors, priests, and peasants, an idea which gave rise to the Indian caste system and the medieval European society of estates…. In modern industrial societies, Marx’s claim that the major division would be among capitalists who control the means of production and proletarians without productive assets other than their own labor has proven to be influential and useful…. Thus the best definition of a class, I would suggest, is this: a class is a group of families within a society whose members are disproportionately likely to work in certain vocations and also disproportionately likely to marry and have children with one another. This definition unites the functional and nepotistic aspects of class.” • Hmm. I dunno if I’d classify shelving canned goods at Walmart as a vocation. That said, since the family is the unit that reproduces labor power, it does make sense to include family in the set membership function that constitutes the working class. The family also introduces the time dimension, also sorely missing in, er, classical Marxist analysis. So, interesting.

“Thousands of Unfilled Jail Jobs, Millions in Overtime, ‘Zero Room for Error'” [Governing]. “The difficulty in hiring and keeping corrections officers has sent overtime costs soaring, and contributed to safety and security issues, all over the country… In Delaware’s case, an independent review came down hard on the use of excessive overtime as a factor that set the stage for the violent event. The report noted that ‘correction officers were described as being so exhausted that it was ‘chipping away at security and behavior.’… ‘It’s not a job that most people consider,’ says Chris Gautz, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections. “Growing up, people play cops and robbers, not convicts and corrections officers. You don’t grow up thinking ‘I want to be a corrections officer.'” • I’m sure privatization doesn’t help, and I wonder whether similar factors are at play in immigration facilities.

News of The Wired

“The Mysterious ‘Jumping Gene’ That Appears 500,000 Times in Human DNA” [The Atlantic]. “For years, Miguel Ramalho-Santos tried to convince researchers in his lab to study a segment of DNA he personally thought was quite extraordinary: LINE1… It might have had something to do with LINE1’s reputation. “People have called it junk DNA,” says Ramalho-Santos. … It might have had something to do with LINE1’s reputation. “People have called it junk DNA,” says Ramalho-Santos.” • Interesting sociology of science angle. The squillion-euro Large Hadron Collider looks like a dry hole; but junk DNA turns out to be gold. Science is has started to pop! Another example–

“Why the Medical Research Grant System Could Be Costing Us Great Ideas” [Incidental Economist]. “The medical research grant system in the United States, run through the National Institutes of Health, is intended to fund work that spurs innovation and fosters research careers. In many ways, it may be failing…. It has been getting harder for researchers to obtain grant support…. A recent study suggests the grant-making system may be unreliable in distinguishing between grants that are funded versus those that get nothing — its very purpose….. .The current system favors low-risk research. If you’re going to fund only a small percentage of proposals, you tend to favor the ones most likely to show positive results. You don’t want to have to defend null findings as a ‘waste of money.'”

“Finally, a Problem That Only Quantum Computers Will Ever Be Able to Solve” [Quanta]. “A basic task of theoretical computer science is to sort problems into complexity classes. A complexity class contains all problems that can be solved within a given resource budget, where the resource is something like time or memory…. The two most famous complexity classes are “P” and “NP.” P is all the problems that a classical computer can solve quickly. (“Is this number prime?” belongs to P.) NP is all the problems that classical computers can’t necessarily solve quickly, but for which they can quickly verify an answer if presented with one. (“What are its prime factors?” belongs to NP.) Computer scientists believe that P and NP are distinct classes, but actually proving that distinctness is the hardest and most important open problem in the field…. Even in a world where P equals NP — one where the traveling salesman problem is as simple as finding a best-fit line on a spreadsheet — [computer scientists Ran Raz and Avishay Tal’s] proof demonstrates that there would still be problems only quantum computers could solve…. ‘Even if P were equal to NP, even making that strong assumption,’ said [Lance Fortnow, a computer scientist at Georgia Tech], ‘that’s not going to be enough to capture quantum computing.'”

* * *

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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal: “The Carolina magnolia mimosa came out this month and is still at peak bloom.”

Readers, I added a bullet (“•”) as an abbreviation for “Lambert here,” partly so what’s quoted material and what’s me is more clear, and partly to make the page a little less grey. If it doesn’t work for you, I’ll stop.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!

To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.


If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. WobblyTelomeres

    re: 100-mile border diagram

    Why is Chicago considered “on the border”? If Chicago, why not St. Louis (via the Mississippi River)?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Because Chicago is 100 miles inland from the border. Those are the rules!

      Adding, I added few UPDATEs so please refresh. I got all tangled up in brain ‘sploding science…..

        1. allan

          Within 100 miles, as the crow (or drone) flies, of any port of entry. Including airports.
          O’Hare is an international airport, as is Denver.
          So, if they wanted to, ICE could set up a checkpoint at the top of Pike’s Peak.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Wow. Did not know that. Every international airport in the US? St. Louis it is then. And 100 miles around.

            I shall go dark now.

        2. Big River Bandido

          “Port of entry” means a real (that is, water-based) port. Chicago is an international port, located on Lake Michigan.

    2. HotFlash

      I read a lot of that twitter thread (if that is what they are called) and someone said that the ACLU was challenging that since Lake Michigan is entirely within the US and is *not* considered a boundary water. But you know, give ’em and inch and they’ll take 100 miles.

      Another point made by a couple of tweeters was that 100 miles around international airports was not the case, only within the international airport. But, I don’t grok twitter, not enough links for me.

      And a couple of tweeters pointed out that the US Constitution does not say “American citizens” when speaking of rights but “people” so they conclude that Constitutional rights apply to Non-US citizens. As they do in Guantanamo, of course.

      1. HotFlash

        Sorry, timed out on the edit. Lake Michigan/ACLU tweeting person was Debbie Hillman, she also said:

        Debbie Hillman
        ‏ @DLHillman
        Replying to @DLHillman @emptywheel

        Just to clarify: My understanding is that this map was not created by ACLU. It is the official CBP map. Yes Magazine had article in March (with map), but didn’t understand my point about Lake Michigan coastline not being a border. ACLU Michigan has FOIA’d CBP for interpretation.
        10:52 AM – 22 Jun 2018

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I, for one, am REALLY interested in this. The idea of having to reside 101+ miles from any international airport in CONUS just to keep my constitutional rights is driving me absolutely bonkers. As if it wasn’t bad enough that any C- student who attends police academy can blow me away by claiming s/he THOUGHT they saw a weapon.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            aye. it’s bothered me since the post911 freakout and dasheimatification.
            I’m in mason county, texas…and we generally think of ourselves as back of the beyond. 100+ miles by road to anywhere bigger than 35k.
            But as the crow flies, even my isolated place is within a 100 miles of 2, maybe 3, international airports.
            (just played around with rulers on google earth)
            if the Bill of Rights doesn’t apply in such a large portion of the country, I’d like to know.
            has this been asserted by a part of the government, outside of that bullet point on the border patrol web site?
            as in, in a courtroom?
            as in “no,yer honor, the search was not illegal, because the BoR didn’t apply”?
            I admit that i’m a little wary about calling heimat security to find out.

            edit to add:

            think i’ll go dark(er), myself

      2. Fraibert

        To the extent the Supreme Court has considered the meaning of “people” (e.g., specifically, the Fourth Amendment: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated . . .”), it means citizens and others who have developed a meaningful connection to the United States (e.g., legal permanent residents).

        The 1990 case of _United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez involved a foreign national (alleged drug dealer) held in the United States who objected to a searches of his residences in Mexico by American agents (authorized by the Mexican government). He had only been in the United States for a few days at the time of the search, and had been involuntarily transferred from Mexico to the United States by Mexican police. Under these facts, a majority found the searches in Mexico did not violate the Fourth Amendment.

        In concluding no Constitutional violation occurred, a five Justice majority specifically considered the meaning of “the people” in the Bill of Rights and found:

        “While this textual exegesis is by no means conclusive, it suggests that “the people” protected by the Fourth Amendment, and by the First and Second Amendments, and to whom rights and powers are reserved in the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, refers to a class of persons who are part of a national community or who have otherwise developed sufficient connection with this country to be considered part of that community.”

        To my knowledge, this “textual analysis” remains the Court’s only real statement about the meaning of “the people.”

        I would keep in mind, however, that _Verdugo-Orquidez_ concerned the search of foreign property held by a non-citizen. From a legal perspective, I think the better way of understanding the case is that it was “impracticable or anomalous” for a United States court to be issuing a warrant for search of foreign property. This synthesizes the case with _Boumedienne v. Bush_, where the Court found a noncitizen held at Guatanamo had the constitutional right to challenge his detention using habeas corpus (or an equivalent procedure) in light of American control over the base.

        This synthesis is bolstered by the fact that Justice Kennedy applied the “impracticable or anomalous” standard in both _Verdugo-Orquidez, where he filed a concurrence doing so in addition to joining the majority opinion, and in _Boumedienne_, where he wrote the opinion for the Court.

      3. Procopius

        The U.S. Constitution does not say “citizens,” but the Supreme Court does. I am not a lawyer, so I don’t know how to look up past decisions, but they have ruled several times that interpretations that apply to American citizens do not apply to non-citizens. I remember being particularly outraged at one of their decisions on this back during the Vietnam War. I don’t remember now what it was, but it convinced me that Scalia and the other justices who joined him in the decision were flaming hypocrites with their claims to “originalism” and reading it as plain language. It doesn’t matter any more, though. They’ve ruled that the Fourth and Fifth Amendments don’t mean what they say and the police have complete discretion. The only amendment that matters is the Second, and it doesn’t mean what it says.

  2. Synoia

    Five Horsemen of the Techocalypse….

    Look more like one winner and 4 also rans. Neck and Neck they are all not.

    1. Summer

      It’s almost like people don’t have anything else to invest in.
      Imagine a stock market with just five companies that have bought up all the other companies. Not really hard to imagine in this economy.

    1. Gary

      In Texas we calls those Mimosa trees. There used to be considerably more of them before the heat wave and drought in 1980.

      1. Tvc15

        Thanks Gary. Native Houstonian here and thought the picture looked very familiar. I remember them being everywhere as a child of the 70’s.

    2. ambrit

      True, not Magnolia. That is a Mimosa. We have some in the backyard. And ‘real’ Magnolias in the front.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Clarification on the plantidote and btw I don’t see no stinkin’ bullet!

        I was ChiGal originally and added “in Carolina” to my handle when I re!ocated temporarily to Chapel Hill to take care of my mom.

        Been sending in local pics of trees and flowers we don’t see in Chicago since fall of 2016; in fact I remember there was a debate about one tree I couldn’t identify. Luckily our resident botanist (who knew we had one of those?!) set us straight.

        For the record, this is the email I sent Lambert along with pics of both magnolias and mimosas (as usual, subject line plantidote from ChiGal):

        Or one could be an antidote if you count the critter cosying up to the magnolia.
        First the magnolia and then mimosa came out this month and are still at peak bloom.

        He sent me a reply: *in* Chicago? I replied back: in Carolina! since 2016

        Lambert has weightier matters on his mind so no harm no foul, just didn’t want anyone to be left with the impression I am an idiot who can’t tell a mimosa from a magnolia! Not ruling out that I might be an idiot, just not that kind.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          And oh yes, now I see the bullets. Thought you were referring to the plantidote still. Good idea, saves having to write out “Lambert here” over and over.

          But could it be a wee bit bigger and/or bolder?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Here in LA, we mark the month of May every year with their purple flowers.

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And speaking of which, I am also reminded of the tree called Jabuticaba or Jaboticaba and its berries (still looking to find out what they taste like).

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Whoops! Fixed. Not ChiGal’s fault; it’s an email thing where attachment order isn’t equal to email prose order, and I am not an expert in Southern plants!

      1. JohnnyGL

        Not sure it makes sense to classify as “Southern” :)

        Mimosa trees are hardy to Zone 6, and I can confirm they’re around Massachusetts here and there.

        Magnolias can hack it here, but they don’t/can’t pull off their display as well down south. Too many frosts and near frosts wreck the blooms too quickly. But, they do bloom.

        1. Lambert Strether

          To a Mainer, Massachusetts Southern.

          Seriously, though, surely the connotation is correct? One doesn’t picture Faneuil Hall hung with magnolia, after all.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Point taken with regard to magnolias being the iconic Southern tree. Is mimosa iconically Southern, also, just less famously?

            Although, climate change (as cited here, actually) seems to be making our pre-frost Autumn longer (stretching the growing season on the back end), it’s not making spring stick earlier much. Magnolias seem not to understand (like oaks and maples and even cherry blossoms) that you, as a tree, aren’t supposed to open up on the first warm days. You’ve gotta wait out the frost-thaw whipsaws in April before trying to bloom. Because magnolias don’t seem to ‘get’ that, they end up with partial, choppy blooms that wilt/decay rapidly and don’t really get as showy as down south.

          1. freedomny

            Really?! Hoping to move soon and have a proper garden. The thought of the gorgeous mimosa AND hummingbirds is swoon worthy :)

        2. Harold

          I had one in my back yard in Brooklyn, or rather, it was in the neighbor’s yard but was so huge it overhung mine. Its spent flowers would drop on my garden and turn into a horrible black slime covering everything. I was happy when he cut it down, or perhaps it just died, can’t remember, but whatever it was, it was a red letter day for me.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        oops sorry Lambert, just saw this after having made my comment above. I am now gathering that you ran the pic of the mimosas (sideways I am sorry to say) but labeled it magnolia, and the readers above kindly brought it to your attention.

        So indeed, an idiot of a different kind…

  3. BoyDownTheLane

    “… When this thing really blows, it’s gonna be like the Yellowstone Supervolcano blowing its top.  Nothing in American government or politics will remain unaffected.

    The naked collusion to commit treason, espionage, sedition, etc. against a POTUS and the American Republic is now apparent… and with hard evidence to boot…..”

    http://themillenniumreport.com/2018/06/the-fake-child-separation-issue-was-an-engineered-distraction-from-an-exploding-scandal/#more-65364 </a>

    1. Geo

      Sorry to say but that’s a pretty garbage article considering it cites ZeroHedge as sourcing and is written in a breathless (sensationalized) manner like the writer has just solved the DaVinci Code.

    2. Procopius

      I wish people would stop misusing the word “treason.” There is no treason where there is no war. We are not at war with Russia. They may be our adversaries, but technically they are not our “enemies.” Anyway, the if you want to charge treason you have to have eye-witnesses. Jeff Davis and Bobby Lee were guilty of treason. Trump is likely guilty of both crimes and wrong-doing that is not illegal, but you’re going to need extraordinary proof to convince me he’s guilty of treason.

  4. Matthew G. Saroff

    BTW, there is a Twitter thread in response to the white deaths survey.

    The announce is fairly ordinary, and then come the comments, which may be the most extraordinary sh%$ show in Twitter comments ever.

    Don’t say that I didn’t warn you.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I ran this yesterday, I believe, though there may have been multiple Tweets. Though the comments are awful enough to make me take emigration very seriously as an option.

          1. JBird

            I keep letting my hands go faster than my eyes or my brain faster than the hands. Sad thing is that I remember seeing the missing words on the screen/page.

  5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “Tariff War With China Hits California Cotton Market” [California Apparel News]. “In the latest salvo in the tariff war between the United States and China, the U.S. cotton industry is expected to receive a direct hit as China piles on an additional 25 percent tariff on U.S. uncombed-cotton imports. The tariff, which goes into effect July 6, is already being felt in California—where farmers in the Central Valley region of the state cultivate highly prized long-staple American Pima cotton that is soft to the touch and durable. Most of the crop is exported to China and India…. about 95 percent of the American Pima crop is exported every year, and typically China imports about 40 percent of that crop.”

    Why are American middle class workers not buying them (durable – that’s key to sustainability…keep a shirt on for a long time)?

    Are we only able to afford polyester?

    1. nippersmom

      I suspect the cotton is exported to China and India, where it is turned into clothing, which is then imported back into the US. The problem isn’t that Americans don’t/won’t buy cotton clothing; the problem is that the manufacturing capacity to turn cotton into consumer goods no long exists in this country.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Thanks…that sounds more plausible.

        Though, I’m surprised they don’t grow it local to the manufacturing plants.

        1. nippersdad

          The textile mills that were moved South from the Northeast due to labor arbitrage were then uprooted and sent to China a couple of decades ago for the same reasons. Now with labor costs rising in China they are looking to do the same thing, again.


          Ironically, many of the plants may be coming back to the US., but in doing so they are going to have to compete with Bangladesh and other low wage countries.

      2. JBird

        the problem is that the manufacturing capacity to turn cotton into consumer goods no long exists in this country.

        We have some left, but yes, it is much reduced.

        America made clothing made from American grown cotton cost more than China made clothing, not only because of the cheaper Chinese labor, but also because buying all American is popular among those who are willing to pay a premium for that.

        Americans are having a hard time buying quality, but more expensive, clothing because of such things as clothing manufacturing being sent overseas to places like China.

        There is a demand now for completely American made clothes as was very available forty years ago; but the very process that makes such items rare is the same that makes mass producing high quality fairly affordable clothing almost impossible even if there were a large class of people both willing and able to purchase such.

        I think current American “fashions” are so bad because there is no longer a large middle class able to buy quality clothing. Even decent work clothing, forget fashionable, is getting harder to buy no matter where it is made, and the costs are not going down as much as wages are.

        Levi jeans made today are of poorer quality than Levi jeans made thirty years ago although the prices have not dropped. The same is true for clothing made specially for heavy physical work. So you pay the same price for crappy clothing that does not last as long. Also note that the sizes available are reduced. Forty years ago you could get socks made in one size increments, but not anymore. It is more profitable to make small, medium, and large with extra stretch.

        It reminds me of people being blamed for not being able to find work, let alone work that pays to live. The availability of such is disappearing just like the availability to find decent clothing. The stuff not only does not last, or fit well, it is harder to modify or repair even if you are both frugal and have the skills to do so.

        So this something else to blame the neoliberal free market capitalistic insanity for.

        Though, I’m surprised they don’t grow it local to the manufacturing plants.

        It is more profitable for manufacturers to ship American cotton across the Pacific to Chinese factories, and then ship the clothing to where the money is, and that often is not in America. Also, I don’t think that the climate, soil, and labor is as good for growing cotton in China. For example, much more wine grown in Northern California than in New York although both produce it. Chardonnay versus Riesling. The United States, especially the South, has been a major cotton producer for centuries. Britain was its first big overseas buyer during the first Industrial Revolution.

        1. Procopius

          I just noticed the other day that by 1863 the British had found substitute sources for the cotton they needed, so the pressure was off them to intervene on the Confederate side. I think Egypt was the main source.

    2. Wukchumni

      If anybody is interested, the tome: “The King Of California” is all about JG Boswell’s Ag empire, which started when the boll weevil was laying waste to cotton around 1900 in the deep south, and JG figured out that you could grow the finest quality cotton in California, just as the U.S. Army Air Corps needed that for fabric for WW1 airplanes, and a dynasty was born.

      Boswell only managed to gain the control of the output of 5 rivers that flow out of the Sierra Nevada on the west side, not too shabby!

      The Chinese tariff is largely aimed @ JG Boswell, as nobody grows more cotton in the Golden State.

      1. jo6pac

        That doesn’t bother me the lest as a native Calli and not a fan of the big b. To others the big b ranches are so big crop supervisors are in planes talking to people on the ground.

      2. Eclair

        Cotton plants grown in the Central Valley (well, just about anything grown in the CV) require irrigation. Lots of it. Compared to, say, flax, hemp or tencel (which I thought was some kind of petroleum-based fiber, but, no, it’s made from eucalyptus trees), cotton needs more water.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          I wonder if the Central Valley can be America’s silk-producing source (with support from the government under an American industrial policy)…in case we get cut off by China.

          1. Eclair

            White mulberry trees, the only thing silk worms will eat, need warm, moist conditions. CV not particularly moist without irrigation. Connecticut was a hotbed of mulberry tree cultivation and silk-making in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Paterson, NJ was known as ‘silk city’ because of the silk mills there, thanks to Alexander Hamilton’s forethought in identifying it as a hub for domestic industry, because of the Great Falls of the Passaic River. Check out the Silk Strike of 1913 there. Uppity workers, unions, etc., probably led to the labor intensive silk industry being left to China and India.

            Hemp will grow in dryer conditions and makes useful cloth. Unfortunately it’s illegal, due, I guess to concerns that people will start smoking their clothing. Or, maybe JG Boswell has political influence and doesn’t want the competition. Although, last I heard, hemp was being experimentally grown in Colorado, on the dry Eastern Plains. Trying to give the disappearing Ogalalla Aquifer a break.

      3. JP

        Ha Ha, Most of California’s cotton is grown in the districts of Kevin Mccarthy and Devin Nunes.

  6. flora

    re:NY Governor: “What is Serve America Movement? Obscure new party backs Stephanie Miner for governor”

    From the article on S.A.M. (they aren’t Dems and they don’t sound like independents, imo):

    SAM’s leadership includes at least three people who worked for President George W. Bush and an executive at Morgan Stanley, one of the nation’s largest banks.

    CEO and Director Sarah Lenti worked for National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice under Bush. Chairman Scott Muller is former general counsel for the CIA. Chief Strategist Reed Galen worked in Bush’s administration and consulted on campaigns for Bush, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger.


    So the Dems, instead of successfully courting affluent Rep voters dismayed by the current GOP, have created an environment where several rich/ affluent and disaffected GOP voters have started their own party.

    1. grayslady

      That’s how SAM struck me. Actually, more Libertarian, but definitely not a home for anyone who is an FDR Dem.

      1. audrey jr

        “Serve America.”
        Sounds a whole lot like that Twilight Zone episode, “To Serve Man,” which I have saved to my DVR.
        You know, the one in which Lloyd Bochner discovers that the Kanamit’s book, which Earthlings believe is a survival guide, is actually a cookbook.
        Potluck for supper, anyone?

      2. Ellery O'Farrell

        Love this! Let’s call ourselves the FDRs. Or even the FDR party!

        Which would I suppose generate a lot of opposition from the enemies whose hatred FDR welcomed. But it’s a clear encapsulation of what we’re talking about, and could attract voters. Especially with a little explanation of the history.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > So the Dems, instead of successfully courting affluent Rep voters dismayed by the current GOP, have created an environment where several rich/ affluent and disaffected GOP voters have started their own party.

      Which makes sense, if you’re a Republican who wants a functional party.

      Typically, “Lucy and the Football” is not a self-own, but perhaps the Democrats are exceptional in that regard.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I remember the Serve American Movement. It’s a party of super tall, super intelligent aliens. Their manifesto — which had to be translated — is a cookbook.

  7. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Now is the time for massive nonviolent direct action to interrupt the policy violence of Trump & his enablers in Congress. #PoorPeoplesCampaign http://www.msnbc.com/morning-joe/watch/faith-leaders-react-to-border-policy-say-us-is-at-critical-moment-1260839491818

    Enabling – that is the word I was looking for this morning, when I thought of movie stars or football/baseball/hockey/basketball/etc stars losing everything they had – are we enabling more (self) destruction by patronizing their entertainment?

    I would stop watching their movies and games.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s a great link, and connects neatly to Chris Arnade’s notion of “volatility voters.” (Few things more volatile than a ticked off Hells Angel, no?) From the article:

      We parents tell our children that when you know you’ve lost an argument or a race, the right thing to do is to be a good sport and to “get ’em next time.” But if there is no next time, or you know that every next time you are going to be in the loser’s lane again, what’s the use of being a good sport? It would make you look even more ignorant, and more like a loser, to pretend like you think you have a chance. The game has been rigged against you. Why not piss on the field before you storm off? Why not stick up your finger at the whole goddamned game?

      Therein lies the ethic of total retaliation. The Angels, rather than gracefully accepting their place as losers in an increasingly technical, intellectual, global, inclusive, progressive American society, stuck up their fingers at the whole enterprise.

      They’re not alone…

      1. clarky90

        The article is about The Hill’s Angels Gang?

        “The (Hill’s) Angels, rather than gracefully accepting their place as losers…”

      2. kgw

        It is a cool reminder of HT, but it is also a down-the-nose look at other beings who live here by the Nation writer. He tries to soften it, but to those with the eye to look, he fails. I don’t particularly blame him, anymore than I blame the Hell’s Angels, or the “deplorables.” From my own experience, it is really all too complicated for most of the beings who think, ie, discriminate. They always fail because they start from their history rather than their actual being. C’est la vie…

      3. Procopius

        Interesting. That’s the mental image Michael Moore used when he warned that Trump was going to win. I have an animus against Moore because of a particularly disgusting thing he wrote about in one of his earlier books and his general tendentious arguing, but I have to agree with many of his values, goals, and opinions.

    2. marym

      Just imagine what would have happened if African-Americans, after finding the system “rigged against” them in the form of slavery, the failures of Reconstruction, lynchings, Jim Crow, red lining, mass incarceration, voter suppression, and hostile policing, had responded with “the ethic of total retaliation,” and tried to line up behind a lying demagogue offering to ban, deport, incarcerate, or disenfranchise everyone not like them!

      Trumpists need to focus on class and universal benefits rather than aggrieved identity.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Do patriotic fans drinking Russian beer over there have to worry about becoming, unwittingly, of course, Russia’s Manchurian candidates when they go home?

      I mean, they seem to be very smart in chemistry…(due to free college, I believe)

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe I re-watch that movie next weekend.

          This weekend, I am re-watching Tampopo, getting mental ready for some good ramen.

  8. Oregoncharles

    1) That certainly isn’t a magnolia; I THINK it’s albizzia, “Silk Tree,” also called mimosa. It’s fairly hardy and common here; makes a big, spreading tree.

    2) “I seem to remember another globalization experiment based on “aggregate economic benefits” that had a really nice ring to it: “Free trade.” Because “free” is good, right? Just like the “open” in “open borders” is good… Thats last experiment didn’t end well and in fact caused life expectancy in the working class to drop, after de-industrialization destroyed communities. Perhaps the open borders movie will have a happier ending. In the absence of a genuinely international working class movement that can prevent labor arbitrage, forgive my skepticism.”

    They’re actually the same thing, essentially labor arbitrage. The effects of open borders are less severe, for various reasons, but they’re the same. Both are “production factors,” so allowing them to move freely across borders CANCELS “comparative advantage.” Herman Daly lined out the logic many years ago. Basically, under modern conditions comparative advantage is largely imaginary. Ricardo “assumed” that neither capital nor labor moved freely, meaning closed borders are required.

    In general, and as Lambert implies, immigration poses a dilemma for the left, especially when they’re essentially refugees. On the one hand, it’s a humanitarian and human liberty issue; OTOH, large-scale immigration is a “cheap labor policy.” Normal, unstressed migration rates aren’t much of a problem because people are generally reluctant to change countries; but refugees can come in huge numbers and be highly destabilizing – as Germany discovered.

    The real solution is to avoid creating refugees; all too many are direct results of US policy. That’s getting pretty idealistic, though.

    1. 4corners

      I’m curious why you would say “effects of open borders are less severe”. Obviously a lot of production has moved off-shore in terms of internationally traded goods in order to exploit low labor costs. But there are certain goods and services that seem closely tied to local labor markets. And in these cases, the impact of open borders could be severe. I’m also thinking about externalized costs that would be borne by local communities through a mass influx of lower-education, lower-skilled workers. What would happen to public schools, hospitals, housing markets, etc? Also interesting to think about the potential mass influx of educated, skilled workers. In short, I can’t imagine open borders being anything short of cataclysmic. I’m not challenging your statement in any way but just wanting to explore this concept.

      1. anonymous

        “What would happen to public schools? (given open borders)

        Maybe LAUSD, which is 74% Latino, provides an answer. Many non-immigrant parents of school-age children in Los Angeles send the child to private school. With the exception of some magnet schools scattered here and there (with long commute times, assuming the child is accepted), many LAUSD classrooms have many first generation students who (through no fault of their own) have below grade-level skills.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I see a lot of plastic fabric seats and not too many passengers from the Third World.

      This will only get our patriotic Democrats more upset.

  9. dcblogger

    talk about the 9% strikes me as a new attempt to divert attention from the .001%, the plutocrats who are really the source of our problems. One day it i boomers, greedy geezers who want their social security, the next day it is immigrants, or public employees, anyone but the people with $ and power.

    1. marku52

      Yeah but go to a site like Drum’s and try to get a sane discussion going on how free trade has hurt the middle class or how illegal immigration hurts low skilled workers.

      Lordy, the screaming. Cause the 9.9% has benefited massively from policies that have caused others harm, and they won’t look themselves in the mirror to see it.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > talk about the 9% strikes me as a new attempt to divert attention from the .001%,

      Not when the (let me round up) 10% runs the Democrat Party and forms their base, it isn’t. The .001% have a system of defense in depth, which very much includes the 10%. No point shaking your fist at the banners waving on the Tower when you can’t storm the walls.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Totally agree. I saved that article the first time NC ran it when it first came out. You will never flip the .001ers but the 10% need to be called out and made to realize that their lesser comforts too come at the expense of the 90% (that is, most everybody else in the country).

        We have met the enemy and they are us…

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        Unfortunately, the 10% is both the problem and the solution. There is no way to turn the ship unless we have some among us that know how to turn a ship.

        1. JBird

          The people to run things are still around.

          At the Federal level much of the bureaucracy that supported a functioning government has been eliminated. Agencies like Social Security or the IRS and Congress itself no longer have enough people to function well. The Congressional Idiots have reduced funding to show that they are cutting back the government. Also it is political as when some supporting agency does not give the “right” report or responses it gets its funding cut or it’s eliminated.

          More former ship turners are unemployed daily; there are a lot of well educated, trained, or just experienced people that have been made into unto unprofitable surplus. Most of them still live and still want to work. The destruction of much of the various industries and government agencies has happened during a fairly short period.

          It is not the lack of the people (although I think we’re close to hitting some walls) it is the neoliberal/MBA/short-termism/stupidity slash-and-burn profits over all things thinking that caused the apparent absence of the now slowly moldering workforce and its leadership.

          1. Left in Wisconsin

            Absolutely. My glib point was that a large number of the people that make this country work – to the extent it still works – are in the 10% and aren’t the enemy. There is a lot of talent out there and lots of work that needs to be done.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              And if you can figure out a way to split the 10% into (say) 20% irredeemables and 80% functional, that would be great. I don’t know what the wedge issue is (besides more of them thrown out of the 10% in the next crash, whenever it is).

            2. J Sterling

              We try to distinguish American class structures from the British ones, get it confused, then end up coming back round to the British system with with all the labels switched. No way was the middle class ever the majority–“middle class” in British terms means “a minority privileged by elite education, who make up a medium between the .1% rich property owners and the 90% working class”.

              By calling the working class 90% the “middle class”, we left ourselves with no coherent label for the 10%, so we end up with absurd labels like “the new aristocracy”. The aristocracy are the 0.1%, not the 9.9%.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > There is no way to turn the ship unless we have some among us that know how to turn a ship.

          Thanks for raising this point. Now that I think of it, provincial lawyers played a huge part in the French revolution. A Distinguished Provincial at Paris, and all that….

          Somewhere Thomas Frank makes the point of comparing the brilliant people in the Obama administration, the best and the brightest in the Kennedy administration, and the brains trust under FDR. The disasters of the Obama administration and the debacle of Vietnam under JFK were perpetrated by Harvard men and Yalies. The FDR administration had people from Iowa State, or people with no degrees at all, and obviously they did very well.

          I think there’s an enormous reservoir of talent in this country. We need some class traitors outside the Acela corridor, that’s all.

          And some sans culottes in DC…

          1. JBird

            You are so right. The Cult of the Pre-Approved Meritocracy I would call it. A person must be meritorious enough to be in the ruling Credentialed Class, if they graduated from the Approved universities Harvard, Yale, and maybe a few backwaters like Stanford.

            Any failure must be because of a simple mistake. A mere lapse in judgment that anyone can make. If you come from those schools.

      3. John k

        Dems are still at 30%.
        Even if the entire 9% are dems, 2/3 of the dem party are somewhere below.
        But actually maybe half the 10% are reps.
        So the elite dems must be hugely outnumbered, say 6:1, by dems in lower classes… for example, lots of poor ethnicities are loyal dems, even as poor whites went to trump in desperation.
        Dem party is a dictatorship of a minority that continuously sells itself to donors, aided and abetted by conglomerate owned msm that likes war. So just like traditional gop.

        1. Procopius

          I’m confused. If “poor whites” went to Trump, how is it that his voters’ median income was $70,000 a year, well above the median income of the nation as a whole? And remember, “median” means half of them made more than that. The 10% and soccer mom’s in the suburbs are Trumps real base. The image of the meth mouth inbred hillbillies is a distraction promulgated by the six guys who own the corporations that own the media.

      4. Laughingsong

        I like the way you think. It reminds me a bit of Bill Black talking about going after the lower-level managers (the 10%) to flip them to help get the big fish (.001%)

        Although I have to say that when it comes to the ones I would really love to see face the music, the low level have been pretty loyal – I’m thinking of the ilk of Judith Miller and Scooter Libby.

    3. Carolinian

      That’s a good article but predictably weak in suggestions about how to reverse the trend. Cutler suggests the 10 percenters will eventually realize it’s in their own best interest to change their ways. However history suggests that this never happens short of revolution or some other social disaster. Even rich people are often generous when it comes to giving away money. But status? Never.

      The message of Gatsby was that all the money in the world couldn’t get Jay Gatsby a buy in with the snobs. Fitzgerald saw this as some sort of American tragedy. But there’s no reason we have to play their game. It could be time to give all that status a good healthy Bronx cheer–less The Great Gatsby, more the Marx brothers.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Probably including government agencies and departments like FBI and the Justice Dept.

      In their case, it’s more like self-inflicted damage.

  10. dcblogger

    Last night it occurred to me that we are really dangerous point in our country, far more dangerous than anything in my lifetime. If you look at the Poor People’s Campaign, the opposition to immigrant baby prisons, and the Parkland kids campaign for gun control what all of them have in common is completely by passing traditional politics. Politics abhors a vacuum, and since the Democrats have abdicated their role as the people’s advocates others have been pulled into the role by the force of events. The top level Democrats look truly pathetic in light of recent events.

    Trump is already constructing more concentration camps

    anyone who thinks that only migrants are going to wind up in such places is not paying attention. It is only a question of time before Trump starts declaring his opposition as national security threats. Those chants of LOCK HER UP are aimed at all of us.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      We have been in dangerous over the past 15 or so years, with what has been done to the Constitution, which is a shaky document written bad, faulty men.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > If you look at the Poor People’s Campaign, the opposition to immigrant baby prisons, and the Parkland kids campaign for gun control what all of them have in common is completely by passing traditional politics.

      Plus the state house occupations, Occupy proper, and #BlackLivesMatter. (I’m not sure about the Parkland kids, who remind me of Indivisible, not on your list (along with the ludicrous Resistance). There are doors that open as soon as you push on them, and doors that seem stuck. (The Parkland kids got instant and favorable media play, and the black Parkland kids were not at all enthusiastic about more cops in the schools, for good reason.) DSA stands to the side, as an endorser of some traditional politicians and polices.

      If you want to use the triple litmus test of (1) consistent, (2) universal, and (3) systematic I’d throw Occupy, PPC, and the pre-decapitation #BlackLivesMatter into the same bucket. “Opposition to immigrant baby prisons” and the Parkland kids most definitely not, on all three criteria.

      The elites are really playing whack-a-mole. Take another downturn and combine with simultaneous and compatible movements rising, then sprinkle with an event, and see what happens.

      In danger, opportunity. The dangers have been rising for some time. Trump is a catalyst for it all, good and bad, in a way that Clinton would never have been.

      1. Eclair

        And, how about Mni Wiconi, the Water is Life campaign at Standing Rock. It was about more than one pipeline affecting one small Native American tribe.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I forgot Standing Rock! (I bet I forgot more, too; there’s been quite a lot of ferment.)

          And of course there are also myriad fights of this nature going on through the permitting process.

      2. False Solace

        I’d add the teacher strikes to that list. Mass strikes in states where teachers don’t even have collective bargaining rights, or strikes without the union’s approval. And it was widespread. How did that happen? The standard playbook says it can’t.

    3. clarky90

      If information is presented dispassionately, and truthfully, then it is possible for all (a myriad, not just two) points of view to put in their “2 cents”. The present cacophony is annoying and does not help.

      This is about the little girl on the cover of Time Magazine

      “EXCLUSIVE: ‘They’re together and safe’: Father of Honduran two-year-old who became the face of family separation crisis reveals daughter was never separated from her mother, but the image of her in tears at U.S. border control ‘broke his heart’”


    4. ChiGal in Carolina

      The thing I am wondering about the PPC, although I participated in a related healthcare action, is how effective in the current age an appeal on moral grounds will be. I have come to feel that having the moral outrage meter set on high all the time is only effective when preaching to the choir on M4A. I much prefer what I call the infrastructure argument, which I got from an exchange between commenters here at NC.

      The first noted that whether healthcare is a right or a privilege is a philosophical debate that could go on forever. The second agreed, adding that nobody debates whether having roads is a right or a privilege: we just build them to facilitate necessary transportation.

      Rather than shaming those with different values (the lowest level on the pyramid of argumentation Lambert included in WC a while back), we can make pragmatic arguments about the cost and risks to society of not investing in one of our most basic resources, people.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s the nice thing about universal concrete material benefits? Is a policy proposal all of those things? If so, why aren’t we doing it? Since we surely have the resources to. Never mind rights.

        I like the road argument. We don’t, for example, need to decide whether one has a right not to be hit by a car when crossing the road before building a crosswalk.

  11. junez

    On union presidents’ salaries: the AFL-CIO report on executive compensation should obviously use median rather than mean salaries. And I agree that highly compensated union presidents undermine unions, by limiting their ability to identify with the problems of their members. However, comparing these presidents with all ceo’s, including those of small groceries or coffee shops with one or two employees, is not so sensible either. Why not compare them with others of similar responsibility?

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Better question is “How many golf courses does the union own?” The answer might surprise you.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Support for golf is crucial. The really important decisions between union presidents and company CEOs are made over golf and at the 19th hole.

  12. Oregoncharles

    ” The decrease is “natural” — always watch that word — only if you factor out excess deaths “of despair” ”

    You’re focusing on the death rate to the exclusion of the birth rate. Births are going down because they should be – a cultural effect. But also because many millennials, at this point the fertile generation, can’t afford to start a family. Disruptions in relations between the sexes (I’m still hoping that’s a transition effect, but we seem to have started over) are probably a smaller factor. Adolescent birth rates have been falling, a good thing. Any of those could be enough to drive births below deaths, even without help from opioids.

      1. makedoanmend

        ‘Pure’ class analysis being such a constraint – maybe. Class, as an a priori entry into social analysis on a broad scale, I haven’t found delimiting but rather often, but not always, illuminating. I’m sure there are socialist writers, given the large universe of such writers, who’ve devoted time to demographic studies, but there is still a much larger constellation of writers who’ve delved into the affects of capital on demographics and made some insightful comments.

        For example, is there an economic connection between the expensive decision to have children juxtaposed against the current developments of commodification and marketisation of human relationships that seem to occur in modern capitalist societies? Or is there just a simple economic trade off between having children who may take care of you in old age or instead opting to forgo children by reckoning that your retirement savings will perform that function and you can therefore spend your youth on other pursuits? The former implies a socialist analysis (I would argue), whilst the later stands as an economic event in its own right, but both need further data and context to confirm their validity (and both may hold up to scrutiny).

        Imo Class (arguably established by those who control the means of production and reproduction) and class based analysis, which underpins much of socialist thought, need not necessarily be a limiting factor.

        Having said that, there is great merit in just perusing demographic data as its own pursuit. It’s then up to others, including socialists, to provide context. While many socialist writers on the subject merely rely on simple and isolated cause and effect models to try and make sense of trends or patterns, I find that the core socialist tendency to try and understand the entirety of dynamical relationships in ever changing environments to be useful (but always having to remind myself that there are other methods of useful analysis and even modified dialectics has its own internal limits.)

        In short, Marxism & its cousin socialism are starting points but not the end all, be all. However, we are social animals living in social spaces, so I image that social considerations may provide some amelioration for the human predicament – and probably more importantly for our entire ecosystem (which is neither political or economic but reaps the whirlwind of Homo sapiens).

  13. bob mcmanus

    Just some absolutely terrific links today, thank you so much.

    The links cite books, and I can’t be satisfied with summaries. So no time to comment. :(

  14. Carolinian

    They have those check stations both east and west of El Paso on I-10. All traffic is routed through the inspection sheds and you are asked if you are an American citizen while the sniffer dogs give your car the once over.

    On a recent trip I took a two lane out of El Paso and they had a check station there as well. Clearly there’s no leaving El Paso without being checked. ICE must consider Juarez to be a major immigrant transit point.

  15. Byron the Light Bulb

    Another day, another dumb riff from the incoherent Un-Indicted Co-Conspirator in Chief daydreaming himself in and out of fictions, speaking perhaps in the invented universe of “Duluth” featured in the Gore Vidal novel, “Duluth”, set in a corrupt town named “Duluth” where a mayoral candidate seeks electoral victory through exploitation of Duluth’s barrio’s. Residents of Vidal’s Duluth, upon death, find themselves characters in a television cop show titled “Duluth”, where all of life’s menace becomes hackneyed script… So, the universe finally collapsed in on itself, didn’t it? Duluth! Love it or loathe it, you can never leave it or lose it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t know what came over me, I missed a Firesign Theatre reference. “How Can You Be In Two Places At Once When You’re Not Anywhere At All?”:

      SOUND: FM radio turned on.

      FM ANNOUNCER: … so hop in your wife and head in any direction on the freeway of your choice, and we’ll see you in a couple of hours, here at Ralph Spoilsport Motors, the World’s Biggest, here in the City of Fine Music. Thanks for the insurrection, and now back to our morning concert of afternoon showtime favorites-the Magic Bowl movement from Symphony in C Minus by Johannn Amadeus Matetsky.

      SOUND: Music on the FM.

      BABE: Hey, Ralph! That’s great fidelity on that FM! Nice tone!

      RALPH: You haven’t heard nothing yet. I’ve got right here in this car, for your trans-Atlantic driving pleasure, this fully hallicrafted Sea-Master short-wave radio in this non-returnable, non-disposable zinc-lined carrying case!

      BABE: Can I get Duluth on it?

      RALPH: Duluth, bucko! You can get Tierra Del Fuego!

      SOUND: Short-wave radio turned on.

      LATIN ANNOUNCER: !Hola, amigos Latinos! Aqui a Ralph’s Used Motors, tres-cientos Nort’ Hoover, a la esquina de 42nd Place, tenemos milliones de automoviles. . . [fading under]

  16. ewmayer

    “A Night Among the Trump Believers Way Up North” [Ana Marie Cox, Rolling Stone] — I love how these articles have titles in the “Margaret Mead amongst the primitive yet fascinating savages” mold. “Whilst interacting with the natives during my first foray into the wilds, it was only after nearly being dismembered by wild-eyed tribesmen that I learnt that for a woman to tug at a Papuan man’s decorative penis gourd, even if done out of innocently curious fascination as in my case, was considered an affront … a charming tradition despite its context of savage virility.”

    1. Carolinian

      Margaret Mead meets Wonkette. Lucky us.

      Here in SC we are thinking of getting up an expedition of Baptists to explore the wilds of NYC. It is said the natives have a strange custom of eating soft pretzels.

    2. False Solace

      I thought it was charming and quaint the way the author described the entire city of Duluth as covered in “grime” and said the arena smelled “musty”. Since the elites dismantled the factories and the town receives an ungodly amount of lake effect precipitation, one wonders about the source of the grime. I guess the poor are always dirty and violent and smell bad, right? Isn’t that the same template Victorian writers followed when discussing their own underclass? I guess smug hasn’t changed much in a hundred years.

      1. Byron the Light Bulb

        Elites didn’t dismantle the “factories”. When the first steel works went up in 1907 to meet a demand for railroad rails for the Western states, a demand that was already waning by then, the facilities constructed were just about obsolete before the US entered WWI. Why smelt at all? Because the facilities were constructed to secure a tax exemption for iron ore extracted from Minnesota. Most of the ore went unprocessed by ship to Chicago and Detroit.

        This became an ongoing pattern through the post-war period. US Steel threatening to pull up stakes lest the tax exemption expire. Little investment ever went to expanding or modernizing the smelting plants. Therefore, when global demand for steel spiked in the early 90’s, US Steel couldn’t even use the Duluth plant even if it wanted. And by then, the tax climate was already as favorable as it ever was, so…

        1. ewmayer

          But, the kind of value-added-manufacturing cultivated by modern industrial nations which have not suffered industrial gutting due to policies favoring neoliberal offshoring could certainly have (and still could, with the needed long-term vision and government support) made a difference in places like Duluth. The problem is that the exceptional U.S. has, outside of wartime, never had a national industrial policy, at least not in the post-WW2 era.

          One of the Big Lies the neoliberal economists and policymakers like to tell is that gutting of ‘dirty industries’ to be replaced by money-shuffling-and-upward-wealth-funneling financialization is some kind of ineluctable ‘law of economic evolution’. It is of course complete BS, and note that now that the Deplorables are realizing that in large numbers, the same BS-peddlers are switching to the next iteration of the Big Lie, “OK, so there were some downsides (*cough* for the knuckle-dragging primitives unwilling to ‘agilely adapt to the new economic paradigm’ *cough*), but it’s way to late to do anything about it now.”

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        Yes, the one thing that come through loud and clear in that piece is that the author could not wait to get out of Duluth. Which is incredibly telling because Duluth is an excellent place to visit – both pretty and really interesting history.

        1. sleepy

          Yeah, Duluth is certainly an interesting city, rich in history and architecture and natural beauty I live about 5 hrs south in northern Iowa and everytime I go up there I get the instant feeling that I’ve left the midwest–at least the prim and proper corn and soybean portion–and arrived at some forgotten old port city on the coast of Oregon or Maine.

          I like to visit in winter and snowshoe on the great trails. There is also a Lake Superior Surf club which actually surfs in winter when the waves can get huge–thick, thick wetsuits with gloves and hoodies of course and vaseline for any exposed parts.

          1. Swamp Yankee

            When I lived in Michigan, I very well noted the difference you refer to. In fact, a little bit north of Bay City, MI, on I-75, there is a spot where it is as though you’ve crossed a line, leaving the corn-fields and farm roads of what I called Greater Ohio, and heading into the land of forests, swamps, northern lakes, dunes, and stony cliffs above wild breakers.

            It’s one of the most remarkably stark geographic divides I’ve ever experienced.

            As a New Englander, northern Michigan felt very much like home, and I am always thrilled to be there.

      3. Swamp Yankee

        I’ve been meaning to get to Duluth for a long time now. I fell in love with the Upper Peninsula and Lake Superior when I lived in Michigan, and go back every opportunity I get; I’ve always intended to see Duluth and Minnesota’s wild Lake Superior shore.

        To sneer at some of the most beautiful country on God’s green Earth — a veritable freshwater northern sea! — is proof that Cox is a narrow-minded snob — but that we already knew.

        1. DLinDuluth

          I’m from Duluth (I live across the bridge in Superior [WI] now). Speaking as a native: we’d love to have all of you.

          Let me assure you: the grime she referenced is because we have construction projects happening downtown. We’re a very clean city, otherwise. And despite the tone of the article, you will rarely if ever have Dickensian urchins hitting you up for alms.

    3. ewmayer

      p.s.: My use of ‘whilst’ in the fake Mead quote was not meant to imply that I think her to be British – I am fully aware of her ‘Murican-ness. Rather, she occupied the same kind of elite academic circles whose members ofttimes affect Britishisms in their speech in order to better convey their snootiness to lesser mortals.

      1. Harold

        Margaret Mead was an excellent, hard-hitting writer who pulled no punches. And very American. American and British academics could take lessons from her.

        1. ewmayer

          I freely admit to being a tad harsh on MM personally, but the hubris embodied in the concept of “study of primitive societies” gets my hackles up, whether it be western ethnographers studying the natives in far-flung non-industrial (the academic wonks would say ‘pre-industrial’, connoting the inevitability of ‘progress’ via industrialization and its concomitant, financialization) corners of the globe, or is the article I parodied, bicoastal elites studying the curious jungles and of elite-policy-deindustrialized flyover-country and its inhabitants.

    4. The Rev Kev

      Just reread that article. I think that Cox missed the whole point of the exercise in that a sitting President could actually give a stuff and visit Duluth at all. If you had had a President Clinton, she would have only ever visited New York and California in all likelihood. Or maybe only Martha’s Vinyard and the Hamptons most times.
      Saw something else that snapped my interest. Cox asked about the border (“Won’t somebody think of the children!”) and was answered: “Trauma is trauma”. I am taking that as the woman was saying; “Yeah, there is a lot of trauma at the border. But there has been ongoing trauma here in Duluth for decades that people like you (Cox) couldn’t care about less about. Is our trauma worth any less than theirs?”
      Of course I may be simply reading too much into that simple statement.

  17. dcrane

    Hoo boy.

    “ICE has strayed so far from its mission,” Nixon says in the video below, recorded during her appearance. “It’s supposed to be here to keep Americans safe, but what it’s turned into is frankly a terrorist organization of its own that is terrorizing people who are coming to this country.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The TSA can give ICE a good run for their run, making up what they may lack in ‘quality’ with quantity.

      1. JBird

        Nothing like seeing aged relatives being treated as possible terrorists by the TSA. Or missing your flight because they are understaffed!

        But the big bad terrorists might hurt us! Baloney. TSA is a sick, cruel joke that could easily be replaced by the screening system we had before 9/11. Ain’t nobody going to allow some box-cutters cause any problems and the cockpit door is now locked and bulletproof.

        1. Procopius

          I think it’s kinda like the “War On Drugs.” It’s a jobs program and completely useless, even counterproductive, but some people are making very good livings from it, so it’s not going to go away.

  18. Summer

    Why di I get the feeling they are going to find people who have been detained since the Obama, maybe even Bush administrations?

    The USA’s growth industry is incarceration – the one thing not outsourced, except for some cases of torture.

  19. Summer

    Re:”The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy” [The Atlantic]. By any sociological or financial measure, it’s good to be us. It’s even better to be our kids. In our health, family life, friendship networks, and level of education, not to mention money, we are crushing the competition below…”

    “I believe some children are the future
    Kill the rest and let them lead the way
    Show them all the beauty they can buy
    Give them a sense of entitlement
    To make it easier….”


    “The Greatest Love of All”…revised

  20. stefan

    Perhaps household would be a better word than family, where a household is defined as a group of people who coalesce around a breadwinner.

  21. Jeremy Grimm

    RE: “States of Emergency” [The Nation] — That was a most disheartening read. The left, at least what’s left at the Nation seems stuck in a time warp — “climate justice”, “class struggle”, “indigenous approaches to sovereignty” — strike my nose as a little stale as concepts for figuring out what might happen and what are the “types of political formation … likely to emerge in response to climate change.” And of the types of political formation described the only type markedly different from political formations already existent was “Climate X.” I couldn’t grasp what dynamic drives the evolution of the four existent political formations of global or national “anti-capitalist system”, or “capitalist system”, and I wasn’t sure whether the reviewed book filled in that little detail. As for the “Climate X” political formation I got the impression the reviewer — after reading the book — wasn’t any surer what that might be than I am from reading the review.

    I do have to agree with the link’s assertion near its end, “… the threat posed by climate change requires political action of a different order and magnitude than anything currently on offer: Business as usual will not suffice.” I didn’t feel comfortable that the books reviewed had much to offer beyond what’s currently on offer. Instead I look out at things as they are and seem to be evolving and recall a quote from 2007 from Citigroup’s Chuck Prince: “When the music stops, … things will be complicated. But as long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance. We’re still dancing.”

  22. Synoia

    The most likely victor, the authors think, is Climate Leviathan.

    They Missed:

    Climate Chaos
    Climate Feudalism.
    Climate Extinction

    What could possibly be done with a single world Government, with few energy resources?

  23. VietnamVet

    The Climate Leviathan winner will result from the evolution of the corporate global plutocracy that now supersedes nation-states. The world governments below are divided into democracies, one party states and tyrannies.

    In the USA, there is fight for control between nationalists and globalists. Indeed, one side denies science and climate change. What makes the future uncertain is smart money neo-liberals who uses crises to buy up cheap portfolios at fire sales. In the nuclear age, this and war profiteers threaten human survival.

    Once billions of people are on the move, the only civilizations that will survive will have strong borders, geographical barriers, armed forces to defend them and avoid being nuked. If the present is any guide to the future, global in-time logistics will strangle itself as energy runs out. The survivalists will be in nation states with one party rule or pure democracy.

    Donald Trump proved that a democratic Duopoly is incapable of governing for the good of the people when society’s only goal is getting richer. Brexit proved that the Parliament has withered on the vine.

    1. Procopius

      Avoiding being nuked will not be sufficient. I saw one article that claimed only 20 nuclear devices of the puny Hiroshima size would drive so much radioactive dust into the stratosphere that it would cause a nuclear winter for at least three years, leading to the destruction of civilization and death by starvation of at least a couple billion people (probably many more). This over the whole planet. Of course since this is purely theoretical, based on only a couple of tests with very different ground conditions, this may not be realistic. I do not want to take the risk. Besides, I don’t think that under any kind of stress the United States would act in a way to avoid being nuked.

  24. Laughingsong

    “Climate Leviathan” would be a system of global capitalism governed by a planetary sovereign—not necessarily the individual ruler Hobbes imagined, but nevertheless a hegemonic power capable of taking drastic action”

    Anyone as big a fan of the movie “Wall-E” as I am?

  25. mmukluk

    Regarding DSA and ICE protests, I think this link from DSA – San Francisco provides an budding answer to Lambert’s universality question:


    The creation of large government forces that specifically target working class people with imprisonment, that redistribute government funds in mass to private prison corporations, and that consistently violate the constitutional rights of individuals — how is that not a universal concern for everyone in this country?

    1. newcatty

      I was struck by the Duluth woman who said: Trauma is trauma. As this narrative of the spotlight on the border and the cruel and inhumane incarceration of “illegal immigrants ” who do not go through ports of entry, to include any seeking refuge, as well as the conditions for those who are in detention centers awaiting resolution of their status in any case; I start to wonder about the divide and conquer strategy of our PTB. We have an existing large number of poor, homeless, incarcerated, hungry, exploited peoples who suffer from external degradation. This degradation is at their expense whether it be in places like Alabama with houses with open, running sewers at their doors ;many cities and towns with polluted municipal potable water systems, people living by noxious and huge livestock “farms” that pollute air, soil and waters; children suffering from respiratory illnesses from living by freeways and industrial behemoths ( its become seen as just another thing kids go through, like getting colds). Its no secret that many Americans (you know, those legal citizens) live in third world conditions, as characterized by the United Nations and World Health Organizations, etc. Now we have concentration camps for desperate migrants and we have the above living conditions for our despaired citizens. What will come? This a “universal concern for everyone in this country “, indeed.

Comments are closed.