2:00PM Water Cooler 6/28/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Trump backs off investment restrictions on China” [The Hill]. “President Trump on Wednesday declined to impose executive actions to limit investments in American technology from foreign countries such as China, instead deferring to Congress to update the review process…. The stock market tumbled following the reports and administration officials rushed to deny that the actions would target China specifically. In particular, Trump put his backing behind the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act (FIRRMA), legislation that the administration had already signaled it supports.”

“Big U.S. seaports are getting anxious about the growing array of tariffs hitting American and foreign goods. Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka [says] that tariffs recently enacted or proposed by the U.S. and its trading partners would affect 15% of all cargo that moves through the nation’s largest container port. The impact on trade with China would be even greater, hitting more than half of the $284 billion in Chinese goods that flow through the port” [Wall Street Journal]. “Some of the heat over U.S.-China trade has diminished in recent days as President Donald Trump has pulled back from threats to immediately impose new restrictions on investment and goods. But new levies remain in the pipeline, and Mr. Seroka says higher prices for goods would cut into demand, hitting cargo flows and potentially triggering job losses downstream in supply chains.



“1 big thing: Trump takes over America” [Axios]. “President Trump, with his refusal to take advice or yield to experts, is the West Wing. Republicans who control both halves of Congress won’t lift a finger against him and fully support his every move…. If you’re a Democrat who now can’t digest breakfast….” • At which point Presidential historian Michael Beschloss presents a number of “Events, my dear boy, events” scenarios without a word about what Democrats might actually do. I guess we’ll just have to wait another four years until the Coalition of the Ascendant finally does its work…


“Midterm turnout surges for both parties” [The Hill]. “Almost 13.8 million people have voted in Democratic primary contests this year — 5 million more than the 8.7 million who had voted in the same states in the 2014 midterm elections, according to data maintained by state elections offices. On the other side, 12.3 million people have picked up a Republican ballot so far this year — 2 million more people than the 10.3 million who had cast ballots in a GOP primary in the same 30 states four years ago.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Did Anthony Kennedy Just Destroy His Own Legacy?” (roundtable discussion) [Politico]. • Since money is speech, through regulating campaign finance, Kennedy writes: “The government has muffled the voices that best represent the most significant segments of the economy.” A clearer claim that the United States is, and of right ought to be, an oligarchy is hard to imagine. And Ginsberg, I assume, imagined that Clinton was a lock. Oops.

“The day conservatives have been waiting for on the Supreme Court. Trump is poised to deliver” [McClatchy]. “Trump said the replacement process will ‘begin immediately’ before quickly saying he would choose from his earlier list of 25 contenders that two conservative groups, the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation, helped develop. ‘It will be somebody from that list,’ he said. ‘They will come from that list of 25 people.'” • Liberal Democrats probably voted for most of those contenders already, and so have no principled basis for opposing them, sadly.

“Analysis: GOP’s long-term Supreme Court strategy pays off” [Associated Press]. “The party’s long-term strategy to focus on the Supreme Court — highlighted by an audacious decision not to allow a vote in 2016 on President Barack Obama’s judicial pick — culminated this week with a series of conservative rulings and another vacancy. With Justice Anthony Kennedy set to retire at the end of next month, President Donald Trump is poised to appoint his second justice in as many years, giving conservatives a potential bulwark on the bench that could offset national demographic trends [the “Coalition of the Ascendant] that appear set to favor Democrats in the decades ahead. Though Trump, who has little fixed ideology, has been an unpredictable and at times frustrating governing partner for the Republican leadership, he has largely adhered to GOP orthodoxy when it comes to judicial appointments…” • Yes, the liberal Democrat strategy, if you can call it that, was waiting for demographic trends to hand them the votes they’re sure they’re owned. How’s that working out?

“Congrats, Trump voters. You’ve been vindicated.” [Marc Thiessen, WaPo]. “[T]hanks to the Democrats’ imprudent decisions to break precedent and change Senate rules to confirm lifetime appointments to the federal circuit court under President Barack Obama, and then to filibuster Gorsuch, Senate Republicans need only a simple majority to confirm Trump’s choice. So long as Republican senators stick together, Trump’s nominee will be confirmed.” • Of course, if the Democrats had deployed the nuclear option in 2009-2010 and used it to, oh, pass #MedicareForAll or a decent stimulus package, Martin O’Malley might be President today. But n-o-o-o-o-o…. Tactics deppoyed too little, too late, then boomeranging: That’s our Democrats! And speaking of the filibuster–

“According to a senior GOP senator who spoke on condition of anonymity, Schumer has privately reassured Republican senators in recent weeks that he would not change the rules and is committed to keeping the filibuster” [Politico]. “Schumer’s office declined to comment.” • Oh.

“California Abortion Ruling Puts Other States’ Laws in Doubt” [Governing]. “In a 5-4 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday that a California law that requires crisis pregnancy centers — which are often run by anti-abortion groups — to inform women of their rights to an abortion is ‘presumptively unconstitutional’…. The case, National Institute of Family and Life Advocates vs. Becerra, came about when religious liberty groups objected to the law. They argued that forcing these centers to advertise abortion services violated their freedom of speech and placed an undue burden on their operations.” • Waiting for somebody creative at The Bunny Ranch to rebrand as a temple to Aphrodite…

* * *

“After Crowley’s Defeat, Which Democrats Could Go Down Next?” [Roll Call]. • Cuomo and Pelosi, one would hope. This is a good round-up by district, and when you pick through all the indentity politics stuff, there’s a little material on policy.

Transcript of Pelosi’s comments on Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez:

So here is Pelosi’s perspective on the Democrat Party as an institution. “Each of our members is elected to be the independent representative of their district.”

“A Dozen Democrats Want To Help Banks Hide Racial Discrimination In Mortgages” [HuffPo]. • Yes, “the beauty is in the mix,” as Leader Pelosi remarks (above).

“What, me worry? Cuomo says comparisons to his primary and Ocasio-Cortez’s upset over Crowley are ‘apples and oranges'” [New York Daily News]. Cuomo: “What you saw in the Crowley race . . . (was) this was a minority community largely in this district that is afraid, that is angry, that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez did a very good job connecting with,’ Cuomo said.” • Note Cuomo’s instant resort to anger and few as the master key to voter behavior. This is hardly surprising, since those are the emotions Democrats have been engineering for two solid years. To complicatedly unpack Cuomo’s “apples” and “oranges” trope, if the essence of being a political fruit — besides being, for the left, low-hanging — is being a Dollar Dem*, then Crowley and Cuomo are indeed apples and oranges. NOTE * A corrupt machine pol who services the donor class at the expense of voters. (I would like to give a hat tip to the NC commenter who coined “Dollar Dem,” but neither Google nor WordPress’s backstage search is giving me the hit. Please take a bow in comments!)

“What Does Ocasio-Cortez’s Win Mean for Cynthia Nixon?” [New York Times]. “Within an hour of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s stunning upset of a fellow Democratic stalwart, Representative Joseph Crowley of Queens, staffers for Mr. Cuomo were contacting reporters calling her victory an anomaly borne out of the minority-majority demographics in the district.” • Liberal Democrats cannot display adaptability. They are going to go down on the identity politics ship; those are the only categories they can think with.

Apparently Sanders didn’t reach everybody:

Not identity politics (1):

Not identity politics (2):

Stats Watch

GDP, Q1 2018 (Final): ‘Inflation was a little bit warmer than thought in the first quarter, a factor that deflates the third estimate of first-quarter GDP more than expected” [Econoday]. “The first quarter was yet another strong one for business, with related investment perhaps getting a boost from this year’s corporate tax cut. But it was a soft one for the consumer as spending sputtered and residential investment, though revised higher in today’s report, still in reverse. And inflation also made a greater-than-expected appearance in the quarter… But for growth, the early outlook for the second quarter is extremely positive.” And: “The decline in GDP in this third estimate was primarily due to an consumer services spending and inventory change. The consumer spending declined from the previous quarter” [Econintersect].

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, June 2018: “Great strength at a steady rate is the signal from Kansas City’s manufacturing index which held nearly unchanged” [Econoday]. “Helping to limit immediate pressure on capacity is sharp slowing in backlog orders… New orders also slowed… Strength without increasing stress is the welcome indication from today’s report.” And: “Kansas City Fed manufacturing has been one of the more stable districts and their index remains very strong. Note that the key internals were strongly in expansion” [Econintersect].

Corporate Profits, Q1 2018 (Revised): “Pre-tax profits are revised sharply higher for the first quarter” [Econoday]. “When including inventory and capital adjustments, pretax profits were $2.252 trillion with after-tax profits at $1.920 trillion for 1.8 percent year-on-year growth and making for an annualized corporate income tax rate of $332.1 billion. This tax rate is up $3.9 billion from the first estimate and down substantially from $445.6 billion in the fourth quarter for the lowest rate of the expansion, since third-quarter 2009.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of June 24, 2018: “[G]ains suggest that tariffs and talk of trade wars are having no significant effect on the U.S. consumer in contrast, however, to both the consumer confidence and consumer sentiment reports which are showing a step back in expectations” [Econoday].

Jobless Claims, week of June 23, 2018: “Initial jobless claims rose more than expected in the June 23 week but remain very low” [Econoday].

Shipping: “Amazon.com Inc. is calling in smaller truckers and delivery companies to help the online retail giant build its own logistics network. Amazon is inviting entrepreneurs to form small delivery operations employing up to 100 drivers and leasing between 20 and 40 Amazon-emblazoned vans,… an initiative that pushes Amazon more squarely than ever onto the turf of shipping partners United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp” [Wall Street Journal]. “Amazon says the small businesses will carry the overflow from the growing volumes of packages it generates. Still, Amazon has taken broad steps in recent years to poach some of the most desirable deliveries from its partners and is on a collision course to one day compete directly with the shipping giants.” • Hopefully the Teamsters will make union literature available online, to be handed to the Amazon drivers by consumers. I know I’d far rather see a unionized UPS driver than any other kind.

Shipping: “Amazon claims it doesn’t want to take on UPS and FedEx. So why is it introducing tons of its own Amazon delivery vans?” [ReCode]. “The e-commerce giant is unveiling a program meant to fuel the creation of hundreds of new package-delivery businesses that can help Amazon handle the fast growth that its U.S. retail business continues to enjoy. Amazon says the program will offer new partnering delivery companies access to discounted rates on everything from fuel to vehicle insurance to delivery vans, as well as coaching from Amazon and an app to guide delivery people on which order should be dropped off when. As part of the launch, Amazon is also introducing its own Amazon-branded delivery vans that partner companies can lease, as well as uniforms that delivery partners can outfit their drivers with. Amazon claims that new partners can start up their business for as little as $10,000 — an amount that the company will reimburse to businesses founded by U.S. military veterans.” • Oh, great. More militarization.

Shipping: “The company estimates that an individual operating a 40-vehicle fleet could earn up to $300,000 per year under this new program. Amazon said that they hoped for hundred of new partners to sign up for the program in more than two dozen states over the next 18 months. If the program is successful, the company expects to roll it out into more states and other countries going forward” [Freight Waves].

Manufacturing: “Is It Time to Sell Your Manufacturing Company?” [Industry Week]. “owners of mid-sized manufacturing firms who want to sell all or part of their company in the next few years should consider speeding up the process while economic conditions remain favorable. A particularly ripe selling climate may only exist for another 12-18 months.” Hmm…

The Bezzle: “Safeguarding autonomous vehicles: The role of AI” [Automotive IQ]. “[M]eeting the physical demands of an autonomous platform is the easy part; the difficulty in today’s competitive marketplace is weaving together manufacturers’ patented platforms into a cohesive unit. Every system in every vehicle must be able to seamlessly receive and interpret signals from each other: ‘… the domain of systems architecting in the automotive world is still driven largely by qualitative aspects like legacy considerations, brand values, organizational and development processes, commitments to specific technology partners and so on,’ the report said.” • This sounds rather like the systems architecture of bank IT, as reported by Clive. So good luck with that, robot car fans. “Everything Is Like CalPERS,” except this time coded into training data and software that nobody can understand or maintain….

Five Horsemen: “All of the Fab Five fell in yesterday’s market rout, but only Apple has bounced enough today to exceed its close on Tuesday” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 28 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s vigorous selloff sent the mania-panic index plunging to 35 (worry) as VIX spiked to 17.91 and the put-call ratio to 1.08, both reflecting heightened fear” [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 27 2018


“Mathematics Shows How to Ensure Evolution” [Quanta]. Important! “Mathematical graphs are structures that represent the dynamic relations among sets of items: Individual items sit at the vertices of the structure; the lines, or edges, between every pair of items describe their connection. In evolutionary graph theory, individual organisms occupy every vertex. Over time, an individual has some probability of spawning an identical offspring, which can replace an individual on a neighboring vertex, but it also faces its own risks of being replaced by some individual from the next generation. Those probabilities are wired into the structure as “weights” and directions in the lines between the vertices. The right patterns of weighted connections can stand in for behaviors in living populations: For example, connections that make it more likely that lineages will become isolated from the rest of a population can represent migrations. With graphs, [Martin Nowak, the director of the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics at Harvard University] could depict diverse population structures as mathematical abstractions….. Those efforts led to a 2005 Nature paper [“Construction of arbitrarily strong amplifiers of natural selection using evolutionary graph theory“] in which Nowak and two colleagues showed how strongly certain population structures [as represented in the graph] can suppress or enhance the effects of natural selection. In populations that have “burst” and “path” structures, for example, individuals can never occupy positions in the graph that their ancestors held. Those structures stymie evolution by denying advantageous mutations any chance to take over a population.” • Holy moly. Those of a speculative turn of mind [ahem] will immediately remember Facebook’s “social graph” (or, for that matter, LinkedIn’s graph, or — no doubt — Google’s, etc.) and speculate that political structures in the general population, as represented and managed by graphs, that “stymie evolution” might be optimized for by, oh, people with lots and lots of money and control of the commanding heights of the media and the parties. Not that I’m foily.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Another Hurdle For Former Inmates: Their Teeth” [The Marshall Project]. “In 2016, 74 million Americans had no dental coverage, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. But poor oral health is a particularly nagging problem for many formerly incarcerated people, experts say. For recently released inmates already carrying the social burden of a criminal record, dental problems can exacerbate the daunting challenges involved with returning home, such as finding employment and housing. Severe teeth and gum problems can cause debilitating pain and are associated with a host of other illnesses, including cancer and cardiovascular disease. They also carry a heavy stigma.” • Filed here because mass incarceration is a neoliberal thing. Thanks, Bill! You played your part….

Class Warfare

“Supreme Court ruling on union fees could shift healthcare politics” [Modern Healthcare]. “Harvard’s [Theda Skocpol, a professor of government at Harvard University,] doubted the ruling will diminish unions’ political muscle in the November elections. Beyond that, she said it could force progressives to organize more effectively outside unions to advocate for healthcare and other public programs. ‘That could be a silver lining, because we could see a broader array of citizen movements taking some of the space of unions,’ she said.” • A “silver lining” only if unions focus on building power in the workplace, instead of through weak proxies like the Democrat Party.

“Academic Capitalism and Regional Planning: A Review of Shadows of a Sunbelt City” [Southern Spaces]. From February, still germane: “As national and global priorities began to trumpet high technology in the 1970s and 1980s, Austin was in a prime position to prosper. Tretter explains this process using David Harvey’s ‘tertiary circuit of capital,’ [see footnote 4] in which ‘the growing significance of technological and knowledge-rent seeking’ increasingly drives economic growth in the developed world (18).3 To Tretter, ‘cities of knowledge such as Austin, and their growth coalitions, strongly supported by federal policy, succeed because they are able to switch capital into the tertiary circuit and expand infrastructure that supports knowledge-rent taking.’ Research universities, with their wealth of knowledge labor, scientific infrastructure, and public-supported capital, are central to this process, generating private wealth through patenting, technology transfer, and spinoff companies.” • Anybody remember Richard Florida’s “creative class”?

“Eight Theses on the ‘Revolutionary Left’ – Outrages and Interludes” [John Halle]. On the “tankies”: “Their decision to abstain from participation [in 2016] was, they claimed, based on a principled objection to ‘collaborating with capitalist politicians.’ But this principle was somewhat flexible… [N]ot so long before, many of them were collaborating with neoliberal Democrats in helping to undermine the candidacy of the declared socialist, Bernie Sanders. Smears manufactured by the Democratic Party leadership in its successful effort to beat back a challenge to its hegemony would be routinely forwarded by left revolutionaries. These included Sanders supposed ‘problems with black voters’, the ‘casual racism’ and even white supremacist tendencies of his Berniebro or ‘Sandernista‘ supporters. That these emanated from both the far left and neoliberal Clintonite center was indicative of a shared recognition that a viable left insurgency constituted a threat to the organizational existence of both.” • The DSA “big tent” may have its problems….

News of The Wired

Sadly, I am not wired today. You?

* * *

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 (Samuel Conner):

These are Korean melons, and I bet they’re a lot farther along now. Korea is having a very good year, isn’t it? First, K-Pop boy band BTS tops the U.S. Billboard 200, and now this! Samuel Conner writes:

First food planting of the season, desperately late but not as desperately late as last year. The deep tuber weed grass is still a problem, which is forcing me to double dig again, which is best for the plants and also seems to be doing my aching back some good. I got quite flabby and a bit stiff in the joints over the cold months; really need to start much earlier in 2019.

This is “chamoe”, a Korean melon that has a flavor reminiscent IMO of pear. An elderly Korean friend can no longer afford to purchase these — they are rather dear — and has too little space to grow them. The plant spreads aggressively and will cover this cage and probably take over the surrounding ground if not aggressively pruned. I expect this plant to produce around 30 fruits weighing perhaps 60 pounds total. Given what these sell for in the market, that might be a side income-generating gig.

The seeds (for last year’s plants) came from an Amazon “marketplace partner”; this year’s plantings are from seeds saved from last year’s output. Open-pollinated varieties are wonderful (I think this is open-pollinated; will know in a few weeks. The seed package probably stated whether it was hybrid or open-poll, but it was written in Korean). The cage is a Tractor Supply 4’x8′ “Handy Panel” with the sides folded up 2/3 of the way to perpendicular to the back. Last year I folded these cages all the way to a “U” shape but the interior was too cramped for the massive plant growth I got in the double-dug beds. I lost a lot of fruit because I could not reach it; the plants were so dense I couldn’t see inside very well and I was reluctant to damage or contaminate them with wilt or mildew by reaching in. These somewhat more open cages are still pretty stiff front to back and should improve the accessibility of the fruit and air flow through the vines.

For readers who may be interested in making these cages, get 10′ long piece of 2″x8″ or 2×10 lumber to use as the bending form. I marked the metal bars 16.75 inches in from the sides and bent on those marks; adjust as desired for the width and depth wanted. One person can easily bend these into shape, taking it slowly. Don’t hurt your back. I suspect that if the sides are bent upward less than 45 degrees the structure may be very floppy and prone to bending in wind when covered with a viny plant. Additional vertical reinforcement might be needed in that case. When installing, I have found that burying the lowest 1-1/2 of the horizontal spaces gives adequate purchase in the soil (2 sets of horizontals are below ground, much more secure than a conventional “cone” cage with only a few verticals contacted to soil) and results in a very tall cage. If you have quack or bermuda grass that comes back (not that I hope you do), that will attach them to the soil even more securely. First food planting of the season, desperately late but not as desperately late as last year. The deep tuber weed grass is still a problem, which is forcing me to double dig again, which is best for the plants and also seems to be doing my aching back some good. I got quite flabby and a bit stiff in the joints over the cold months; really need to start much earlier in 2019.

I have really bad quack grass. I’m thinking of covering it in concrete — kidding! — but even that might not do it. Readers, how are your projects coming? Send pix!

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. anon2

    Looks like Minnesota regulators will approve Enbridge’s Line 3:

    Elizabeth Dunbar (link)
    “For those following #Line3 decision, here’s where we are. MN PUC is on a lunch break, but ALL FIVE members have indicated they will vote to approve Enbridge’s new Line 3 project certificate of need. But there are a lot of details regarding which conditions will be placed on it.”

    Photos from Evan Frost: Opponents and Supporters

  2. Arizona Slim

    Q: Anybody remember Richard Florida’s “creative class”?

    A: I do. At one point in Florida’s book, The Rise of the Creative Class, he said that it was time for the creative class to grow up. As in, look beyond those designer kitchens that they bought with their high salaries, and, gasp, take an interest in their community.

    1. flora

      Ah, the “creative class”: subsidized by state and federal supports,…. can’t wait to hear again how state and federal supports are anti-market and anti-growth… heh.

  3. roadrider

    Martin O’Malley might be President today.

    As a MD resident I’m actually kind of happy that O’Malley never became president.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Although it would most likely be a Congressman than a governor, a dynamic 2009 and 2010 besides protecting Democratic majorities would have created the conditions where virtually any Democrat could have stumbled into the White House. The GOP was dead and half their supporters were going on about teabagging each other. They called themselves “teabaggers” for like six months.

  4. Jim Haygood

    Were NCers recently talking about a summer of open partisan warfare? Why yes … yes, I believe we were:

    The House on Thursday approved a non-binding resolution insisting the Justice Department comply with committee subpoenas for documents related to the Russia investigation by July 6.

    The party line vote was 226-183 with one member, Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., voting present.

    House Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows, R-N.C., has said he wants the House to either hold Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in contempt of Congress or impeach Rosenstein if the Justice Department fails to meet the July 6 deadline.


    Time is running short for the R party. If there’s a smoking gun buried in those subpoenaed documents, it has to be unearthed now before members start spending most of their time on re-election.

    Although today’s was a non-binding resolution, it demonstrates that a contempt of Congress resolution might pass by a similar margin.

    Did you ever see a solon when he really got mad
    When he really got trouble like a Comey gone bad
    It gets real hot down in Foggy Bottom

    The attorney better move it or he’s gonna get spilled
    He’s gonna have to get it or a shotgun will
    It ain’t no time for lengthy speeches
    There ain’t no time for lengthy speeches

    — Emmylou Harris, Leaving Louisiana in the Broad Daylight

      1. Jim Haygood

        Federal judge T S Ellis smells the stench and publicly holds his nose:

        “Given the investigation’s focus on President Trump’s campaign, even a blind person can see that the true target of the Special Counsel’s investigation is President Trump, not defendant, and that defendant’s prosecution is part of that larger plan,” he wrote.

        “Specifically, the charges against defendant are intended to induce defendant to cooperate with the Special Counsel by providing evidence against the President or other members of the campaign. Although these kinds of high-pressure prosecutorial tactics are neither uncommon nor illegal, they are distasteful.”


        Mere dicta,’ the Muellerites scoff. But something’s rotten in Foggy Bottom. Arm the Congress!

  5. sleepy

    About 5 or so years ago I tilled up my smallish front yard, removed the sod and seeded it with native Iowa wildflowers–early sunflowers, cone flowers of all description, bee balm, brown-eyed susans, milkweed, anise hyssop, and varieties I’ve forgotten the names of. It’s been beautiful for years and will send some pics when it’s in full bloom a couple weeks from now.

    There is a local ordinance about lawns–which I may or may not be in violation of–but I can guarantee that I wouldn’t be able to get away with it if I lived in the town’s upscale hoods where lawns are only suitable if they look like a putting green. But in my working class area I just give flowers away to all comers and everyone likes it.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        My patch is organized on principles just like this.

        No lawn. Now if only I could get rid of the patches of quack grass…

        Adding, this in correspondence with Samuel Connor:

        As you noted recently (I think in a comment regarding Ocasio-Cortez’s JG policy intentions), there is an unlimited amount of useful work to be done, and enormous reserves of under-utilized labor power. We could turn the planet into a flourishing garden if we really wanted to.

        Horticulture is the anti-jackpot…

        1. clarky90

          My local council were clearing dangerous trees, bushes under power lines etc, in my neighborhood. I asked the guys and gals doing the work to dump the wood chips on my back driveway. I got three small truck loads! (They did not ask, but I gratefully gave them boxes of beer).

          Dense scrub that had not been cleared for years revealed humus, leaf mold and rotted wood after the power-line gangs had left. I have dug up many wheelbarrow loads, and have dumped on spots for new gardens around the section of my rented house. (I have been here for 16 years and the landlord likes me). I am getting older, and I believe that a good organic garden is my Best Private Health Insurance. I share and swap with neighbors.

          I have couch grass (like quack grass?) My experience is that it is a pioneer species. Mine has mostly disappeared and been replaced by red clover.

          Wood chip gardening appeals to me, because it mimics the forest floor. Nice to walk on. I have made crazy, meandering pathways around my section. They are like animal tracks.

          Woodchips are easy to move around. (use a garden fork to get it into the wheel barrow). Dump the wood chips on top of the undisturbed soil. Plant the plants through (not in) the wood chips and into the soil. (Back To Eden Gardening). There are plenty of youtubes; for, maybe, modified and against, this. Interesting topic. And it is basically free. We help the council by giving them a convenient, quick, local place to empty their trucks. Four of my near neighbors are doing this too.

        2. Lee

          No lawn. Now if only I could get rid of the patches of quack grass…

          If you are averse to chemical herbicides you might try pouring boiling water on it and if feasible, deny it sunlight. Or maybe burn it with fire using a propane torch. If eradication is impossible, settle for management. That’s our approach to our Bermuda grass problem.

    1. Lee

      We got our first bloom in our sunflower patch today. We also have a newer part of town where a homeowners association has rules enforcing sterile uniformity. Here in the old part of town we murder our lawns with impunity.

        1. 4corners

          My sunflowers have already fed the birds here in AZ. When the giant seed heads turned down, it was fun to watch the birds perch on the edges and peck at the seeds, upside down. (I was going to use the word “inverted” and unfortunately, it conjured memories of a cocksure Tom Cruise and an incredulous Kelly McGillis. Leave it to me to ruin a nice nature scene.)

      1. hemeantwell

        We had some incredible sunflowers come up this year by the bird feeder. Instead of watching the squirrels knock them down trying to reach the feeder I moved it over to the house >>> 8 foot stalks, multiple blooms. Who knew?

      2. sleepy

        It’s true isn’t it that less-than-prime parts of town are way easier to get along in than the ritzy sections? I’m not talking at all about poverty stricken ghettos which is another ball game, but just areas like mine in a small Iowa city which have seen better days. Rather than call the cops for violations of “decorum” folks will come over and have a chat instead which is the way a community should operate.

        In the wealthier areas people seem unable to navigate daily life without resort to authority.

        1. JamesN

          By the way, if the place above is yours, I grew up right up the street from there, so I’ve got a lot of history in that neighborhood. First real girlfriend lived in the house right next door. The entire neighborhood looks great too, much better than it did back in the early 70’s for sure. Those older houses will still be standing strong long (and looking wonderful!) after the current wave of McMansions have bankrupted a few owners and disintegrated back into the dust from which they came.

          My apologies for posting the original GoogleMaps link either way.

        2. polecat

          Just remember, the new-age visgoths will most likely look upon you in great favor, while the uptight tony ritzoids with sticks up their posteriors will be sleeping on those formerly manicured lawns .. after the mob torched their digs , should push come to shove

    2. anonymous

      Los Angeles County had a massive program to pay residents to rip up their lawn and replace it with
      native plants or something water-wise. They doled out $239 Million to homeowners.

      The program is back, but apparently only covers front yards now.

      “last time MWD’s program was so popular, it lasted just 17 months before the board shut it down in July 2015. By then, the agency had paid out $239 million in rebates to more than 46,000 people and ripped out over 100 million square feet of grass – almost 4 square miles.”


  6. Lee

    (I would like to give a hat tip to the NC commenter who coined “Dollar Dem,” but neither Google nor WordPress’s backstage search is giving me the hit. Please take a bow in comments!)

    Got this from duckduckgo. NC didn’t come up but here’s some other hits. This is a great term that should routinely used.

    November 11, 2016
    The Long Death March of the Dismal Dollar Democrats

    December 1, 2017
    Dasvidaniya, Donna Brazile, the Dismal Dollar Democrat

    And this: Peter Mathews & Thom Hartmann from 11/13/2015

    1. grayslady

      “Dollar Dems” was offered up by reader “cripes” on NC yesterday during discussion of Ocasio-Cortez’s victory.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Thank you, but the example I have in mind was much earlier (I remember highlighting it) and, if backstage search works, not by cripes, though kudos to cripes for propagating excellence.

        1. grayslady

          Thanks for clarifying. The earliest reference I could find was a May, 2015 article by Paul Street, from his own website, entitled “Left Radicals, Radical Republicans, and Dismal Dollar Dems”. Street does strike me as the kind of writer who, indeed, may have coined the term.

  7. Carolinian

    So is the Amazon van service an admission that their dopey drone delivery idea is never going to fly? Looks like they will continue to pound the square peg into the round hole the old fashioned way–with gig labor. In London there were complaints about Amazon driver exploitation.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Gee. If we broke up Amazon and spun off AWS, that would mean that the remaining part should be valued like a shipping company, not a tech company. Or more like it.

    2. Arizona Slim

      In many parts of these United States, drone delivery presents another opportunity for target practice.

    1. Jeff W

      I think lambert might be thinking of this earlier 2016 comment by Pavel, quoting Paul Street (“The main fault will lay with the Clintons and other deplorable dollar Democrats…”).

  8. John D.

    It’s truly amazing that liberal Dems and the self-appointed ‘centrist’ crowd still have the nerve to squawk about the Supreme Court after the way Obama handed the last nomination to the Rethugs, gift-wrapped and on a silver platter. With a smile, a nod and a wink, grinning from ear to ear, eyes twinkling with benign approval as he did so.

    But of course, to actually have fought the GOP on that would have been…uncivil. [Betty Boop voice] And we can’t have that! [/Betty Boop voice]

    After that disgusting little display, you’d think the “We haff ta vote for Dems because Supreme Court!” talking point would have been rendered unusable for good. Apparently not.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      What else do they have?

      The economy? Obama was the GOP wet dream. Save the rich, starve the poor.
      Culture wars? What exactly did “centrists” ever do? They can’t really point to their history of activism.
      Political wins? All Hail President Trump.
      The West Wing? Wil Wheaton? They have Wesley Crusher who at least isn’t Neelix or any human from Voyager
      Nostalgia? They literally ran the wife of a former President who dropped “Rodham” to be more appealing.
      The Browning of the electorate? It looks like “The Emerging Democratic Majority” actually required some kind of effort of the part of Team Blue.

    2. Summer

      They will approve who Trump appoints and use that to run on in the next coming decades. The duopoly’s go to campaign strategy is fear.

      Then, I think it was Schumer, said it would be the height of hypocrisy if they attempted an appointment before the mid-terms because of what happened toward the end of the Obama administration.
      Really, Schumer???? Fear of hypocrisy has the potential to stop Beltway shenanigans???
      And Trump is the “clown”?

      1. RUKidding

        Gag me with a spoon.

        So much for Schmuck Chumer (D, Isreal). Won’t some bright, interested, energetic younger person please come forward and primary this bastard outta his cushy jawb? Not snark.

        1. Summer

          I was listening to the radio in the car. You could hear the smirk in his voice. I almost expected to hear him say “suckers” under his breath at the end.

    3. RUKidding

      Tell me about it. The hand wringing happening at some blogs is incredible, AS IF the Dems woulda “saved” us or something… more like shafted us, which is what happened under Obama (but, see also, Clinton & Carter).

      We voted in Obama to DO HIS JOB in terms of the SCOTUS, and what did we get? Why, civility, of course. And how’d that work out for us now? But please all you Libtards, don’t rock the boat because it might make Trump’s voters cling harder to Trump.

      Dems have voted for all of the rightwing NeoLib NeoCon Jurists on the SCOTUS. Uncle Joe Biden, lately proclaimed our new Savior, was All In on creepy sexually harassing Clarence Thomas (replete with grifting GOP wife).

      Some blogs are, thankfully, blaming the Dems for this fine pickle, but some are so blinded by their heavily propagandized rage at Repbulicans that they cannot see the beam in Democratic eyes.

      And so it goes…

      1. todde

        I’ve been using the Disaster girl meme with the caption: ‘You were told Bernie or Bust… Next time listen.’

    4. anonymous

      At one point during the campaign, Hillary Clinton or a surrogate had floated the name of someone on her supposed short list for SCOTUS. It was not a progresssive (understatement). Can’t remember who it was, now.

      MSNBC’s Scarborough seems to be turning against Hillary Clinton:



      1. Jen

        From the article:

        “When Hillary Clinton didn’t visit Wisconsin and didn’t visit Michigan enough, and when we saw a young woman yesterday with a campaign message that was more inspiring in three minutes than what Hillary Clinton gave us in two years,” Scarborough said, “They can complain about Internet this and that and the press did this and they should have done that, but the fact is, Hillary never had a message.”

        “She ran a horrible campaign, and this is the consequence of it, is it not?” he concluded.”

        So wait…it wasn’t Russia?

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    So it sounds like Cuomo is borrowing from the Clinton 2008 play book after South Carolina. One thing centrists aren’t is creative by any stretch of the imagination.


    Clinton cited an Associated Press poll “that found how Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.”

    “There’s a pattern emerging here,” she said.

    Reading this, I’m starting to suspect Hillary is just ticked at the “deplorables” from her 2008 misadventure. Bill destroyed much of the Mid West by creating so many “deplorables.” Its their fault for not supporting Mother in sufficient numbers.

    I wonder what kind of reaction Pelosi and others are getting from donors who have been throwing money away over the years to see Trump’s numbers relatively up and an unknown bartender defeat the Democratic leadership. Despite the all hands on deck need given the state of the Democratic Party, youthful energy is clearly being directed at opposing the people who led the Democratic Party into the ground.

    1. Carolinian

      The Dem leadership is a waxworks. With Crowley out is Hoyer really next in line? Can Strom Thurmond be somehow resurrected to make them all look younger? Even Sanders, doing his best, is just way too old.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Sanders is not too “old” to continue to serve young people as a model and guide toward figuring out how to articulate and maybe even effectively act to achieve whatever kind of political economy they might get together and agree on.

        But let us not step on the operative meme that old people and that subset that includes the Boomers “needs to get on the ice floe…” Lots of power generated by taking that tack…

        1. Jim Haygood

          One dreads the day the young ones come after the silver hairs … for the protein.

          Boomer burgers — it’s what’s for dinner. :-0

          1. ambrit

            Comrade Jim. A well run, rational cannibalism prefers the younger and fitter ‘prey humans’ for lunch. Old and stringy and maybe insidiously infectious eldsters are at best, back up supplies.

          2. JTMcPhee

            And the demon face appears… All this talk about how we gonna make the world a better place (or at least make opportunities for 10 Baggers, for those with the talent to play in the Casino) and just beneath the surface, the atavistic usual reality… passed off as a gag…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > an unknown bartender

      Hyperbole (though I’m waiting for the politically charged “And the bartender says… ” jokes. Get on this, DSA, before somebody else does).

      If you look at AOC’s bio (link to be found here) you will see that she is a star. How many bartenders have comets named after them? That is not to slam her as inauthentic, not in the slightest; she is clearly very talented, very smart, everything that, in a society that is not stagnant along class lines, would mean that she would contributing in ways more commensurate to her talents. However, it’s clear that the 10%’s so-called meritocracy did not attempt to integrate her (“Young lady, your place is up here”). Napoleon’s slogan, la carrière est ouverte aux talents (“a career open to talents”), very different from the stagnant and corrupt society of the Bourbons, comes to mind here. For AOC, it turned out, the way forward and upward was politics, with DSA and other socialist-inflected support. In other words, we don’t have to say “More like this, please.” It’s going to happen, and the most talented (in Napoleon’s sense) will make it happen. This should make our latter-day Bourbons tremble in their trendy kicks, but that’s rather unlikely….

        1. Yves Smith

          No, no no. She grew up in the Bronx. Her whole extended family scraped to buy a teeny house in Yorktown so she could go to school there. She commuted 30 minutes each way every day to go there.

          See this TYT interview, starting at 0:50, which the part about schooling starting at 2:00:


          Please get your facts right if you are going to comment. Agnotology is a violation of our written site Policies.

      1. 4corners

        I’m not sure the 10% is interested in R&D outside its ranks. But they’d surely try to appropriate someone useful. It will be interesting to watch her trajectory. Her genius might be to accessorize with identity politics (to wit: “Women like me…”) but actually push a broad, progressive agenda. But as soon as I see her Shepard Fairey poster, I’m out.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          What if her long-term enemies commission a false-flag “Shepard Fairey” poster which is expertly forged to look like the “real thing”? Will you take the time to ask ” is it real? or is it Memorex?” before you are out?

      2. Hamford

        I like Howard Zinn’s “the guard” in lieu of the 10% / 20% / Professional Class. The elite cannot flourish without “the guard”. From the looks of it, the intelligent AOC could have been part of the guard protecting elite interests, instead (fingers crossed) will divert from “the guard” to represent worker interests.

        Do we have a “coming revolt of the guard”?


        1. Summer

          Possibly, if there is a stock market crash and they aren’t convinced it’s somehow poor people’s fault (who give no advice or do trading).
          That’s why the banksters keep floating the fantasy.

      3. Left in Wisconsin

        However, it’s clear that the 10%’s so-called meritocracy did not attempt to integrate her (“Young lady, your place is up here”).

        Perhaps I’m over-interpreting but I think this notion of the 10% as a monolithic class of privilege is wrong-headed. Yes, the meritocracy is a class but it operates on different principles, or perhaps a more complex combination of principles, than traditional elites (the 1%).

        Using the baseball metaphor, it was commonly said that GWB was born on 3rd base. I think that is not correct. He was born on home plate. There is virtually nothing he could have done that would have dropped him out of the elite. As I recall, in a number of ways, he took the challenge.

        Continuing with said metaphor, the meritocracy is a mix of people born at various places on the base paths from home plate to halfway down the 3rd base line toward home. Via a mix of privilege, effort, and luck (different mixes in different cases), they get to home plate. Many are oblivious to their own advantages but almost all are keenly aware of the advantages of those who started ahead of them on the base paths, and aware of how many people who started where they started ever get there (the further away, the fewer). This is why 1) they provide their own children with every advantage they can, 2) the most important value they try to instill in their own children is hard work (of a particular sort, not always socially productive), and 3) they measure achievement in terms of the existing state of things, which makes them extremely resistant to dramatic or fundamental change.

        So far, all of this makes the meritocracy as a class contemptible, even if a handful are class traitors. If this class had offered AOC membership, I hope she would have declined it. But there is also considerable overlap between the meritocracy (defined as the top 10-20%) and competence. Not that competence is absent from the 90%, far from it. But a lot of people who succeed in life are good at what they do, and to me the political objective is to split the class between those who contribute to operating the machinery of society (for example, those who make the public sector work in places where it does, as opposed to those who try to make it not work or try to profit at its expense via contracting or PPPs) and those who merely prop up the existing power elite. Unfortunately, this is not a bright line.

        If the left political project calls for replacing the entire meritocracy rather than purging it – I understand all this is pipe dream at this point but there is “eyes on the prize” value in understanding the long-term objective – the task becomes that much more difficult.

  10. Jim Haygood

    Quarter-end crunch time, Enron Elon-style:

    Three line workers told Reuters that 210 Model 3s were completed during the first of two 12-hour shifts on Wednesday. On one of two Monday shifts, the company produced 305 vehicles.

    “Paint can’t handle the load right now because they have the Model S and X that they normally do and now they have all these Model 3s,” the worker told Reuters. “The paint department just can’t keep up.”

    “Basically we have been in a long endurance race, and now the coach is yelling at us for a 4-mile finishing kick,” said one employee at the company’s Gigafactory near Reno.

    On Wednesday, factory supervisors announced to workers that everyone is to come in on Saturday. The tented line is only producing a few cars so far. Often, those cars have to be reworked. “It’s a makeshift area,” the worker said.


    Tesla victims customers are gonna love the quality of vehicles built this week — like those fabled Monday-morning Chevys built by sleepy, hangovered workers.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Sounds like, for Tesla, every morning is Monday morning.

      Let’s hope Elon lets maintenance in the paint shop happen. Otherwise, there’s gonna be another fire…

      Adding, Audemars Piguet produces 40,000 watches per year. That would be [breaks out calculator] 158 watches per day (in Switzerland’s 252 working days a year), comparable to Musk’s 210 cars. It is true that Musk’s cars are more expensive than entry-level A-P watches. However, the two products are indeed comparable, as the Tesla involves a good deal of hand assembly, as does the A-P watch. So there’s that.

      1. John k

        To me, AP doesn’t lead the way to any new paradigm, or potentially help save the planet regardless of the source of electricity.
        Maybe better to compare Tesla to other car companies, and the billions they’re spending to follow in tesla’s Footsteps, and/or those that are not. And my guess is that the Chevy volt did not generate the feverish interest in auto companies around the world that Tesla has. Certainly not the enthusiasm owners have.
        I don’t own one, have never been an investor, and recognize it may flop, certainly musk spreads himself too thin and has made big mistakes. But I’m proud that a us company is leading the way towards a future we have to have if we want to save Antarctica’s ice from extinction.
        Comments here make me think the writers hope it fails. Is it because they are concerned for rich investors that might lose money that they invested because musk has been too optimistic re his prospects? Or that the us might have wasted subsidies in trying to move the needle away from fossil? Concern for workers who, after all, can quit if they prefer the job didn’t exist? Anyway, seems odd.

        1. Hamford

          Move the needle away from fossil?

          Your local Tesla is likely propelled by your local Coal power plant!

          A while ago I saw a Telsa with a custom license plate that read “Zero E”…. Well except for the local power plant. The hubris…

          The next week, went jogging in a wealthy neighborhood. One notable driveway- an H3, Porsche, Range Rover, … and … a Tesla. I am sure that elite is doing great things for sustainability with their automobile quiver.

          Adding a “clean coal powered” diet coke to an already unhealthy Ameican diet of fossil fuels does little for sustainability.

          1. John k

            Solar has a temp problem with short term storage, in Ca more solar is generated than can be used, sometimes pays other states to take it. But storage is coming fast, latest contracts include some storage along with util size generating solar fields.
            Change coming fast, combined gen storage common by 2020, storage a forgotten problem by 2025. Solar will take over most gen in the Southwest very soon, spreading as costs continue a long term decline.
            Solar cost / watt declined 12%/yr from in the 49 years to 2015, and 8%yr since. Coal gen is dead, solar now about par with Nat gas and nuke existing plants. They’re dying, too. Lots of stranded assets.
            Tesla May fail, but ev time has come.

            1. FrankZappasGuitar

              The claim that global solar production of energy is on par with global natural gas production is interesting, John K. What’s your evidence?

        2. Jim Haygood

          ‘concerned for rich investors?’

          Rich investors can take care of themselves. It’s the would-be customers who have put up $854 million in deposits who may not see what’s coming.

          As unsecured creditors, they’ll be last in line at the bankruptcy settlement. :-(

        3. Detroit Dan

          John k,

          From my perspective, Musk is a blowhard a la Trump. He has no credibility. Those enthusiastic people who bought into his vision are being screwed. So he’s ultimately worse than nothing, in my opinion.

          (Examples of Tesla’s blowhardness abound and come daily. Just today he told the WSJ that Ford “looks like a morgue”. Trumpian, no?)

        4. Lambert Strether Post author

          > AP doesn’t lead the way to any new paradigm, or potentially help save the planet regardless of the source of electricity.

          A grifter who can’t organize a manufacturing plant and abuses his workers can’t do that either. Just saying.

  11. Harold

    Are these Korean melons the same as Chinese winter melons? My recently immigrated Chinese neighbors on both sides of me are currently growing these. They grow a mile-a-minute and cover the entire yards, trying relentlessly to enter mine and deposit their melons there. My neighbors, actually, reproach me for wasting space on old roses when I could be growing valuable melons which last all winter and bring health and prosperity. I tried one that was given to me as a gift and was not thrilled with the taste — or lack thereof. But perhaps I didn’t know how to prepare it.

    I had not been aware they were expensive, but have you ever tried to purchase a bouquet of flowers? “Too many flowers!” one of my neighbors tut-tutted when looking at my yard. (My Chinese-American neighbors like the flowers, though).

    1. 4corners

      On local public radio someone from the Chinese community was lamenting how heirloom melons weren’t being embraced by the younger generation. Maybe for good reason. At the very least, bitter melons have an image problem. Anyway, maybe you could trade your flowers across the fence for some other veggie. My garden is overrun with luffa sponges, which at least offer some utility.

      1. Harold

        The melons are not bitter just watery.

        My plot (urban cat run) of land is way too small to grow vegetables, except a few tomatoes. On the other hand it is a good size for herbs, flowers, and a few berry bushes. The flowers have tremendous utility to me – they raise my spirits.

      1. Harold

        I am saving the recipe in case another melon wanders into my yard this August or Sept. and will give it another try. The broth sounds fantastic, with or without melon and I should have no trouble finding the dried oysters on nearby Eighth Ave in Brooklyn. Thanks, also for Edward Thomas, a favorite of mine.

    2. Samuel Conner

      Here’s the melon that I am growing (or trying to, on the assumption that the seeds I saved will reproduce all the qualities of the parent plant — I’ll report when I submit a followup in a couple of months):


      Definitely not Chinese winter melon, though the vines do sprawl. Already, about 2 weeks after planting, there are 4 branches, from the original 2, and I can see that I am going to have difficulty containing it within the cage without pruning. I may control more of it with cross-members laid on the cage horizontals at front, which could give more climbing supports.

      The fleshy wall is rather thin and the seed cavity large, so these are about $4/pound of edible food at the prices in the nearest Korean market. Too much if one is getting by on SS. I have a growing appreciation of the problematic character of land enclosure and private ownership of this most fundamental means of survival.

      These are very easy to grow and the seeds are surprisingly cheap given the — for US — unusual character of the plant.


      I had about 85% germination rate when I started the seeds in damp folded paper towel. Starting in trays with a peat-moss based starting mix was much less effective, about 50-60%.

      One possible concern is that the commercial seeds are coated with a pink-colored substance. This might be an antifungal treatment, but it might be a neo-nic pesticide, or a combination. There are already too few bees in my yard. That of course is not a problem with saved seeds.

      The fruit has a pleasing taste, the rind is so thin one can eat it (less waste), and the plants produce prolifically.

      1. Harold

        I bet you could save the seeds of the ones you grow and thereby avoid the coating problem in future year.

        This summer I will take some photos of melon flowers in people’s front yards on a walk through Sunset Park. I think I took some last summer, too, if I can find them.

  12. Summer

    “Nowak and two colleagues showed how strongly certain population structures [as represented in the graph] can suppress or enhance the effects of natural selection.”

    Social Darwinists call it anything but “artificial selection”…they act like Darwin never mentioned it at all.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s not the point. The point is: What kind of population structures are the 1% getting the 10% to optimize for them? Will they permit adaptation, especially political adaptation? Now we have an abstraction to represent this. That is the point.

      1. Summer

        Whatever happens, they will try to say it happened “naturally.” And I don’t think of nature as asking for or needing permission.

        Conformist population structures are whay they prize.

  13. nippersmom

    Liberal Democrats probably voted for most of those contenders already, and so have no principled basis for opposing them, sadly.

    When has the lack of a principled basis for their actions ever stopped Liberal Democrats?

  14. rjs

    re: GDP, Q1 2018 (Final): ‘Inflation was a little bit warmer than thought in the first quarter, a factor that deflates the third estimate of first-quarter GDP more than expected”

    The upward revision to GDP prices reflects the downward revision to import prices, notably petroleum, based on updated International Transactions data. since imports subtract from GDP, lower oil prices than previously estimated pushed the GDP deflator higher…current dollar GDP was actually greater than in the 2nd estimate.

  15. cnchal

    >. . . Amazon is also introducing its own Amazon-branded delivery vans that partner companies can lease, as well as uniforms that delivery partners can outfit their drivers with. Amazon claims that new partners can start up their business for as little as $10,000 . . .

    >. . . “The company estimates that an individual operating a 40-vehicle fleet could earn up to $300,000 per year under this new program . . .


    1. Arizona Slim

      Scam alert is right.

      I’m assuming that $300,000 per year is the gross revenue for this fleet. That would work out to $7,500 per year for each of the 40 vehicles. Or $625 a month per vehicle.


      1. JCC

        Actually, according to this article “Amazon estimates successful fleet owners with a full complement of 40 Amazon-branded delivery vehicles can earn up to $300,000 in annual profit.”

        Even using Amazon’s “upbeat numbers” of 40 vehicles and $300K net, this is a $1/2M investment just to get started, not including the yearly operating costs of the vehicles (fleet maintenance including labor, garage, gas, insurance, etc), along with their estimated drivers’ wages of at least $18.00/hr would be at least another $2M to $2.5M during your first year of operations.

        Picking this one apart is too easy with a simple back-of-the-napkin estimate. Just figuring out the area to operate and the supposed net profit vs. cost of living for the area where you choose to operate pretty well eliminates large chunks of the country, I think. And anything less than 25 to 30 vehicles to start would be a guaranteed money loser.

        For most, cnchal is right, this has SCAM ALERT written all over it for most budding entrepreneurs, even if they could afford it. Bottom line, who wants to invest $3M to make $300K? This is McDonalds Franchise level stuff, except with greater risk, and really only for those already in large trucking/delivery operations that know their way around these types of businesses.

  16. Jim Haygood

    Desperate for good news, Trump cites the Atlanta Fed’s over-the-top GDP nowcast:

    Wow! 4.5% is awesome. I remember when the “Experts” laughed when @realDonaldTrump said we could get there. They said we couldn’t even hit 3%. I don’t think Obama ever broke 2%. DJT’s policies are working overtime for America.


    Likely the president is unaware that the Atlanta Fed’s nowcast consistently errs to the high side. The New York Fed’s nowcast is at 2.9%, a respectable value that’s actually more favorable. Growth at a torrid 4.5% probably would prompt the Fed to tighten more aggressively to “stop the overheating.”

    Contrary to popular (and POTUS) belief, extremely high GDP growth is not bullish and not sustainable.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        And if she’s not happy, we are.

        If something ( politically speaking) makes her sad, that makes me happy.

  17. DJG

    A “silver lining” only if unions focus on building power in the workplace, instead of through weak proxies like the Democrat Party.

    Well, Lambert, we are seeing two major breaks happening. The Republicans for years have tried to destroy the labor movement because it offends their principles. The Democrats once supported unionization, but then they discovered that the unions could be ATMs. I don’t see the silver lining, unless we get massive strikes: In a system in which people aren’t being paid and have crappy benefits, the answer is to withhold one’s labor.

    The second break has happened, long ago, in fact, but it has taken liberals and moderates a long time to figure this one out: The main purpose of the Supreme Court is to protect property. This is the court that brought us Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson, after all, and despite all protestations that Justice Powell only knew pornography when he saw it. Yet the Democratic Party and many liberals want the Supreme Court to enact their policies for them. It isn’t going to happen. Pretending that Anthony Kennedy is some civil rights and civil liberties hero is a sign of laziness and cluelessness.

    But I’m not seeing the silver linings yet in either break.

    1. Allentown

      “but then they discovered that the unions could be ATMs”

      Here in Lehigh County PA, we have about 2000 employees working for the county government of which maybe 2/3 belong to various unions. 500 people just quit their unions according to this article. So the local unions are looking at maybe a ~30% loss of membership.


      Obviously this means there are a lot of unhappy union members.

      Looking at the picture in the article, I don’t recognize a single county employee in the protest. Look closely at the signs, and you can see signs relating to DACA, living wages, and two “respect and dignity” (in Spanish) t-shirts which presumably are immigration related.

      That right there is the problem. The unions have branched out into various Democratic issues and lost their focus on workplace issues.

  18. Louis Fyne

    –“The company estimates that an individual operating a 40-vehicle fleet could earn up to $300,000 per year under this new program.—

    SEMANTICS ALERT: presumably “earned” = take in as gross revenue.

    Amazon is not giving away “up to $300,000” in net profit to you or your neighbors

    Then of course subtract payroll taxes, fuel, lease payments for the vans, health care costs, business registration fees, slippage as not every driver will show up for work 365 days a year, recruiting costs, unemployment insurance, etc, etc., etc.

    I hope most people aren’t gullible enough to take Amazon’s PR at 100% hunky-dory face value.

    Amazon wants to shift as many costs as it can to subcontractors.

  19. ewmayer

    Re. Cuomo’s “angry and afraid” comment, what a difference a day makes, eh?

    Yesterday: “As a New Yorker, I am a Muslim. I am a Jew. I am Black. I am gay. I am a woman seeking to control her body. We are one New York​.”

    Today: “What you saw in the Crowley race . . . (was) this was a minority community largely in this district that is afraid, that is angry, that Ms. Ocasio-Cortez did a very good job connecting with.”

    So is Cuomo saying that as a muslim/jewish gay black woman seeking to control her body he is afraid and angry and that AOC did a very good job connecting with his concerns, or has the whole “wir alle sind Neu Yorker” sentiment already fizzled out with him? I’m so confused!

    1. Jim Haygood

      Indeed he does — Zarif is a multi-degreed (four of them) graduate of San Francisco State and University of Denver.

      Poor thick Pompeo shouldn’t get into shouting matches with guys who speak English better than he does (and run circles around him intellectually whilst hopping on one foot).

  20. ambrit

    While I was shambling through the internet today I was struck with the thought that we are still being hounded by the ghost of Hillary Clintons’ abysmal 2016 campaign. Little if anything about platforms or programs, and all about demons and ogres. This feels like a case of a “cold dead hand” on the wheel. Pundits speak of ‘Zombie Banks.’ Now it’s time to admit to having ‘Zombie Politics.’

    1. John k

      She still has great power among the dem elites, maybe the foundation slush fund hasn’t run dry. She will never give up the desperate need to sit in the oval, so of course she cannot be blamed by any elite writer, excepting, I suppose, those that have never dined on her crumbs. Granted, cracks are appearing in the aged facade.
      And bill will always be on board because he still craves the power. Oh, if he could only have run for a third term, instead of that useless veep… or if only he had been in charge of her campaign…
      Come to think of it, the fact that he didn’t implies he wouldn’t have had that much say in her presidency…

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        When she said that “when” elected she would put Bill in charge of the “Economic Recovery Plan”, that said to me that she supported Forced Trade just like he did … that she supported all the NAFTAs, WTOs, MFNs for China, all the TPPs, etc. It sounded to me like she WOULD have given him a MAjor role in her Administration.

        That was what convinced me that I could never vote for her, no matter who the Republicans offered.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “Trump backs off investment restrictions on China”

    Maybe someone tapped him on the shoulder and pointed out that if he wanted to rebuild America’s infrastructure, that it is going to require a boat-load of cash in investments – which the Chinese have. They won’t give him any if he is attacking them on other investments. Not sure what would happen if the Chinese invested in America’s infrastructure but funded it by using the $1.2 trillion in US treasuries that they own.

    1. Jim Haygood

      Then there’s the Rest of World. China’s investment in developing countries’ infrastructure — a challenge the US can’t manage even at home, much less overseas — hands down beats posting camo-clad special forces to shoot up rebellious villages in hit-and run attacks.

      Improving living standards in client nations vs occupying them militarily: it’s not even a contest when it comes to winning hearts and minds. China wins hands down. The yankee puritan mentality of punishing foreigners with drone strikes and sanctions when they fail to see the superiority of the American way of life has reached its sell-by date.

      US imperialism: a force for global goofs.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The greener grass on the other side?

        Your comment contrasts with this from Links:

        June 28, 2018 at 4:49 pm
        I broadly agree with b from MOA on his China/IMF comparison but I think it is also important to note that China requires that Chinese firms and Chinese workers are the ones hired to build the infrastructure which ends up doing very little for the local economy. IMO it’s a lose lose preposition, with the loans from the IMF being the much worse option.

  22. Alex morfesis

    Bezos wall Street math thrown at main Street precariatz…you could end up with as much as 20 buxxx per day profit by running a 40 unit slave fleet…

    that is up to…

    up to 20 hole buxx per vehicle per day…

    less than one dollar per hour…

    up to…for each iron horse slave vessel

    As long as you are willing to let us offbook the expenses onto your personal fico score…


    1. ambrit

      That sounds like the ‘Battle of the Kaiju Karriers!’
      Gigistan versus Gigacorp!
      There are ‘ads’ running on craigslist in my region to drive for Amazon Flex even as we type. Those ‘ads’ are in competition with ‘Drive for Lyft’ ads.
      I’m not surprised. When I delivered mail as a Rural Sub back in the ’80s, the mileage given, we had to supply our own vehicles, was less than the actual cost to run per mile. This rot goes a ways back.

  23. Plenue

    Regarding tankies carrying water for the Dems; I’m not sure if this surprises me. On the one hand I would expect tankies to keep to themselves and refuse to engage with anything less than 100% their authoritarian vision. On the other hand, I’m not shocked to see them working to sabotage ‘incrementalists’ who don’t meet their ideological standard.

    As for the tent being too big, the left traditionally has a problem with fragmentation, and generally speaking I would say that’s a bad thing (let’s not make the perfect the enemy of the good and refuse to support things that would objectively make things better for real people just because they don’t go far enough). But Stalinists and their worldview aren’t good. And calling them that isn’t a hyperbolic smear either. That’s literally what they are, and they’ll freely admit it. These people have subreddits where they openly talk about how everything bad about Stalin is propaganda lies and oh, also yeah, we totally do need reeducation camps. Tankies are scary, and I have zero problem kicking them out of the tent and into the political wilderness.

  24. Chris

    Serious question for the commentariat here. In your varied and considerate opinions, what is the best way to share the general thrust of argument on this site? Specifically when it comes to the failure of the Democrats to do anything useful for their constituents? Asking for a friend in DC who knows too many shell shocked Democrats right now…

    It seems like too many people are so spun up about “Trump/Russia/OMG Kennedy is retiring/babies in cages” that they have no mental or emotional capacity left to examine how we got here and how we can get to someplace better. Pointing out any relationship that the status quo bears to the actions of Obama or Clinton is met with stony resistance. Bringing up evidence of past failures from “approved” sources just seems to cause them pain. It just can’t be true…

    So, while I hold to the old journalistic standard of comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, how do we move forward when so many don’t understand how we got here and can’t bring themselves to accept that they need to change to solve the problems we have?

    1. Grebo

      You might try a Socratic approach. Ask them questions, perhaps about the economy, then ask questions about their answers. Eventually you will hit a contradiction in their thinking. This will make some people really think. Others will never see the problem even if you explain it. Some will get so angry they will make you drink hemlock, try to spot them early.

    2. Plenue

      Perhaps direct them to summary histories of the Late Roman Republic or the French Ancien Regime. Status quos that refuse to change end in elite corpses and shattered status quos. I don’t particularly expect predictions of hellfire will meet any less stony resistance, but maybe it will shock someone into paying attention.

      For the others who roll their eyes and say you’re exaggerating, ask them how, exactly. Rampant private debt, forty years of no wage increases, endless war, life expectancy actually declining. Looks pretty dire to me.

      I assume some of these people are genuinely scared of a new fascism. Try to make the point that Trump isn’t a fascist. He isn’t even a Sulla. If nothing changes what they’re afraid of may really come, and it will be much, much worse than the orange clown. No one will be laughing and mocking, for one thing.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      First, ask them what they believe IN and are FOR. If they support things like NAFTA, WTO membership for America, MFN for China, etc.; then they are a lost cause. Because they have been supporting the Catfood Clintonites who actively made life worse for most Americans on purpose. And they won’t be interested in considering why most Americans would reject Catfood Clintonism if they themselves support Catfood Clintonism because it was so good for their own material interest.

      That thought occurs to me because you mentioned that your friend is in DC and knows a lot of “DC” Democrats. A lot of “DC” Democrats made a fortune off their country’s misfortune. Or at least made a very good living off it.

  25. Procopius

    I don’t quite get the warnings that Anthony Kennedy is endangering his “legacy.” His legacy is fine. The right wing welfare machine will make sure he and his children (who are also conservative activists) will never suffer deprivation. I can understand why the centrists are whimpering, they denied that he is very conservative, but anybody who claims progressive leanings should have recognized a long time ago that he was a reliable vote for the conservative bloc and a very, very unreliable occasional swing vote for decency and the rule of law.

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