2:00PM Water Cooler 6/29/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this may seem forbiddingly long, but in fact most of it is a report from an alert reader on the New York primary. New York readers, dig in! –lambert


“Scoop: Trump’s private threat to upend global trade” [Axios]. [Trump’s threatened to withdraw] 100 times. It would totally [screw] us as a country,” said a source who’s discussed the subject with Trump. The source added that Trump has frequently told advisers, ‘We always get fucked by them [the WTO]. I don’t know why we’re in it. The WTO is designed by the rest of the world to screw the United States.’ …. Some aides have tried to explain to Trump that in their view, the U.S. does well at the WTO, given the U.S. has an army of trade lawyers and created the system.”

“Trump’s Trade Threats Hit China’s Stock Market and Currency” [New York Times]. “China’s stock market has now fallen close to levels not seen since a crash shocked global investors three years ago. An elite Chinese think tank affiliated with the government warned this week that the chances of a financial panic had risen significantly, shaking markets even more…. Chinese officials are trying to help factories deal with American tariffs by weakening the value of the country’s currency. That makes Chinese goods more competitive abroad, but it also gives investors inside and outside China a reason to take their money out of the country…. The president’s tariffs so far have been quite small in the grand scheme of things, but they add to China’s troubles. The next wave of tariffs, set at 25 percent, threatens to cover at least a tenth of China’s exports to the United States, and more could follow.”

“Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Steel Tariffs Statute” [Industry Week]. “The American Institute for International Steel and two of its members filed suit Wednesday in the U.S. Court of International Trade challenging the constitutionality of the statute by which President Donald Trump imposed a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports earlier this year…. The lawsuit alleges that Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 violates the constitutional prohibition against Congress delegating its legislative powers to the president because it lacks any ‘intelligible principle’ to limit the president’s discretion.” • Interesting argument with wider implications

“Southeast Missouri nail company gets hammered by Trump’s tariffs” [Missouri.net]. “President Trump’s tariff on steel imports that took effect June 1 has caused a southeast Missouri nail manufacturer to lose about 50% of its business in two weeks. Mid Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff – the remaining major nail producer in the country – has had to take drastic measures to make ends meet. The company employing 500 people earlier this month has laid off 60 temporary workers. It could slash 200 more jobs by the end of July and be out of business around Labor Day. During a Finance Committee hearing this week on Capitol Hill, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, sounded the alarm… ” • Oh. Sadly, combining tariff walls with an industrial policy — an industrial policy other than creating fancy bespoke weaponry, that is — is anethema to the political class, even though other Third World countries have used it successfully.

“A Cleveland Revival Must Include Manufacturing” [The American Conservative]. “If we are to again become a rich city, we must make more things…. The old cities were above all places where people worked. Can we bring it back? Of course we can. We industrialized this country under tariff protection and we can re-industrialize under tariff protection. When President Trump slapped tariffs on foreign steel, Cleveland cheered. In nearby Lorain, Ohio, another steel center, a steel company announced it would reopen a shuttered mill, hire hundreds of people, and was prepared to fill all domestic orders. We can make everything America needs in America—and much of it in Cleveland. China has a plan to make everything it needs by 2025. Why can’t America have the same plan? After all, we already did it once.”



“2020 Dems join anti-ICE stampede” [Politico]. “Jane Kleeb, chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party and a board member of the Sanders-backed group Our Revolution, said that a debate over ICE’s future promised to help Democrats start a useful conversation about immigration enforcement in the wake of the public outcry over family separations. ‘What I’m seeing in rural communities is that people are disgusted and ashamed that our president is separating families,’ Kleeb said in an interview this week. ‘And when people put proposals like ‘abolish ICE’ on the table, it’s more to shake things up and say ‘We have a real problem — the immigration system is absolutely broken — so how do we fix it?'” • Personally, I’m fine with abolishing ICE on civil liberties grounds alone. We got along perfectly well without it. Ditto DHS. However, that word “conversation” is a red flag: There are concrete material benefits for rural districts that OR and the left generally should be thinking through that have nothing to do with the border. Say, actual life and death matters like falling life expectancy among those for whom Maddow does not weep? These matters won’t be discussed, if the “conversation” so far is any guide. So everything’s going according to plan.


“Democratic strategists on fire off the shoulder of the Bronx. I watched four-color Crowley brochures glitter in the dark near the Götterdämmerung Gate. All that oppo will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” —Blade Runner NY-14

UPDATE “Obama expected to hit the campaign trail for Democrats with help from Pelosi and Schumer” [CNBC]. • That should do it.

NY: An alert reader throws the following exhaustive report on the NY primaries over the transom:

So Long Island/city went pretty left, and upstate NY Bernie dems ousted a DCCC candidate

While the biggest news is Crowley’s takedown, it’s worth noting that:

1) CD-1 at the most eastern end of Long Island (eastern Suffolk County) chose someone (Perry Gershon) who ran on Medicare for All and an assault weapons ban out of a field of five competitors, using lots of explicit TV ads and mailers that would make the positions hard to run from. Context: CD-1 voted overwhelmingly for Trump; it’s entirely within Suffolk County, which went 52% to 45% for Trump. The current Congressman, Lee Zeldin, is an R (Zeldin) who in many ways is a mini-Trump (his 538 Trump score is 86.9%, 0.4% above what 538 would predict for the district) https://projects.fiv ethirtyeight.com/congress-trum p-score/house/. He had Bannon headline a fundraiser.

Now, Gershon may run to the middle now, and suddenly start supporting Medicare buy-in or whatever–the problem with not being a politician is not having a policy record–but his ads were strong, and his first post primary email listed a series of “rallying cries”, the first of which was Medicare for All, so maybe he’s for real on it.

In winning the five-person primary, Gershon beat a more moderate female candidate (Kate Browning) from the denser, western part of the district (where 2/3 of the votes are) that had won election to the county legislature three times. Browning was understood to be the pick of the Suffolk County Democratic Party leader, though he officially stayed out of it; she was definitely perceived as the establishment choice. The other three candidates were purely grassroots efforts, and all three were at least as strong as Perry on Medicare for All and related issues. Their loyalists–the ones that made the grassroots campaigns happen–will generally find it easier to coalesce behind him than the more moderate D. People were explicit about this b/c of Browning’s moderateness. One of the grassroots candidates said on the record she would not work for Browning because Browning had once belonged to the Right to Life party (anti-choice; said her position had evolved) and a couple other things.

I don’t call Gershon a “grassroots” candidate because although he did have his loyalists who worked hard for him, he had the most money, in part because he’s a rich businessman who partly self-financed. Hence the TV ads and mailers that dwarfed everyone else in volume.

Perry’s pluses (in the political sense for this district): he’s a white male non-politician businessman with a veneer of job-creating successful businessman. He had the most money, did a good job organizing and building name recognition, and he ran a campaign on what he was for, not as the alternative to a demon. He has no problem raising money, and the incumbent is very well financed. He did not alienate the activist base so there are a lot of people willing to work for him to help him beat Zeldin even though they did not vote for him.

His minuses: he’s an NYC carpetbagger 2nd home Hamptons guy without the massive charisma that bridges the background difference, though he is actually very personable and casual, which will help. The being rich part cuts against him as part of the Hamptonite archetype. Congressman Zeldin is already trying to tag him as “Park Avenue Perry”, which, while not accurate, is close enough to the mark to have resonance.

In fact, I think in a Presidential year, when all the regulars vote, it might be enough to beat him. Because this is an off-year election, and it’s all about having your electorate shrink less than the other side’s (or miraculously matching/exceeding Presidential turnout), I don’t think it’s a killer. Dems here are very motivated to vote. Primary turnout spiked compared to 2016, which was also a hotly contested primary year (two candidates only). In 2016 turnout was 12k; this year it was 20k.

Another possible minus on the merits: he’s a rich guy who may or may not be more corporate friendly as a result; he’s certainly not focusing on a small-dollar strategy, though his fundraising emails start with a $5 ask. As a non-politician, he has no track record. My fear: while I think his belief in Medicare for all is real, I don’t know that he’s a fighter for issues and I have no idea if he’ll really be helpful for getting, e.g. Medicare for all done beyond delivering a vote if other people can make it happen.

Still, I think CD-1 might flip from Red to Blue in 2018. I know a lot of people motivated to work to get the vote out.

Elsewhere on the Island and upstate:

2) In CD-2 immediately to the west (part of Suffolk Cty, part Nassau, a young white woman won who also ran explicitly on Medicare for All. I didn’t follow this race very closely so I don’t know much about her/her opponent.

3) In CD-9 (Brooklyn) another giant was almost slain, with Adem almost beating a 10 year incumbent. Another explicit Medicare for All Democratic Primary:

Yvette Clarke* 14,804 51.9%
Adem Bunkeddeko 13,729 48.1
28,533 votes, 99% reporting (528 of 532 precincts)

4) in CD-24 (Syracuse) chose Dana Balter over the DCCC candidate. While I don’t know her, she was endorsed by the New York Progressive Action Network, which means local Bernie dems endorsed her, and she is explicitly pro-Medicare for All on her website, though the site features what she wants everyone to have in terms of care and then says Medicare for All is a way of doing that would save lots of money, which isn’t the way Gershon was running on it.

Some comments: If I worked for a month, I couldn’t duplicate this level of on-the-ground insight, so I encourage reports like this from other readers as the season proceeds (especially California and Pennsylvania). And if I weren’t so damned jaded and cynical, I’d see a lot of hope in this report! Everywhere, not just from AOC. #MedicareForAll seems to be everywhere! (And if it’s a non-reformist reform, so much the better.)

NY: “You can make the Brooklyn Democratic Party more democratic” [RepYourBlock]. “We all think of Brooklyn as overwhelmingly Democratic, yet decisions about the borough’s Democratic priorities and candidates are made by a few party insiders. It’s time to fix this by making sure everyone – in particular those traditionally excluded from the electoral process – can access County Committee and transform the Democratic Party. It’s time Brooklyn set the standard for inclusive and accountable local politics.” • Block captains! Everything old is new again!

NY-14: AOC and small donors:

I’d like the lowest number to be $27, not $200, but I don’t have time to figure out how to work the Open Secrets machine…

NY-14: “Politics Podcast: What Does Ocasio-Cortez’s Win Tell Us About The Democratic Party?” (podcast) [FiveThirtyEight]. • If you want to listen to liberal pundits unable to think outside the categories of identity politics, this is the podcast for you.

NY-14: “Where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Parts Ways With Bernie Sanders” [The Atlantic]. The article is far better than the editor’s horserace headline. “Then there is a deeper problem, namely that Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda is riven with contradictions. The most obvious is that in calling for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, an agency that has become a bogeyman on the left for its role in implementing the Trump administration’s polarizing deportation strategy, she is sending a clear signal that she favors more permissive immigration policies. At the same time, she favors a suite of other policies, such as Medicare for all, a universal guarantee of jobs paying a living wage, and tuition-free higher education, that would have the cumulative effect of sharply increasing redistribution* from the native-born nonpoor to low-income immigrant-headed households. For immigrants, working in the United States offers them a ‘place premium’—that is, doing the same exact job in the outer boroughs of New York City will yield a far higher hourly wage than in Port-au-Prince, and this arbitrage opportunity draws immigrants from all over the world.” • Confirms the “cheap labor” priors I’ve been shouting into what has felt like a lonely void for weeks now, but dammit, I think they’re good priors, and so far as I can tell nobody’s laid a glove on them. Of course, we have MMT to handle the redistribution aspect, but for now, open borders looks very much like a “Let’s not compensate the losers yet again, shall we?”-type scheme. That worked with deindustrialization, until it didn’t. If you want to put the working class first, and you define the working class as the international working class, then you’ve got to square this circle.

2016 Post Mortem

From The Department of I Don’t Doubt It:

UPDATE Sadly, this tweet has been deleted….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Democrats badly underestimated Trump” [CNN]. “Democrats have a history of underestimating Republican presidents. Ronald Reagan, numerous Democrats originally thought, was a lightweight Hollywood actor with charisma and television appeal but not much more. George H.W. Bush, according to his critics, was a well-meaning “wimp” whose leadership skills were lacking and who could never escape from the shadow of Reagan. In each case, however, the Democrats didn’t see what was coming…. Despite all of his chaotic and controversial decisions, his national approval ratings in some polls have even crept upward to the range of 45%. With a low rate of unemployment and a booming stock market, there is reason to believe that those numbers might hold fairly steady…. The Democrats’ “McConnell rule” rhetoric also expresses a sad and desperate yearning for a comity-based political order that is not coming back. The new rules are this: There will be no SCOTUS picks if the president’s party doesn’t hold the Senate. Period.” • The Norms Fairy? She’s dead, Jim

“Democrats are acting like a bunch of cowering dandies. They need to grow a spine and throw some punches” [David Faris, The Week]. “[T]he party’s strategy came into focus over the past day or so: They will argue that Republicans invented a new ‘no SCOTUS picks in an election year’ rule by refusing to hold hearings for Merrick Garland in 2016, and that Kennedy’s seat should be held open until after the midterm elections. Democrats are out there in force right now making this very case…. Do party leaders want their GOTV volunteers running around talking about something called the McConnell rule? How’s that conversation going to go? Wouldn’t it be better to put a message about real fairness and real reform out there, to convince Democratic voters that the Supreme Court is not some neutral, umpire-like entity but rather a nakedly political institution that must be treated as such? The base is desperate for hardball.”

Guess the deeper story (1):

The deeper story is an agenda with time limits, more respectful of working people that Occupy’s open-ended General Assembly. Granted, Roberts Rules can be abused too, but until something better comes along….

Guess the deeper story (2):

The deeper story is that DSA has members they can count, and somebody is counting them. To be fair, the Democrats count the donor class, especially their contributions, but that’s not quite the same, is it?

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, May 2018: “Personal income and outlays is usually an easy report to forecast, but not May’s edition. The most important surprise is the core PCE price index which rose 0.2 percent on the month, which hits expectations, but jumped 2 tenths on the year to 2.0 percent. This hits the high end of Econoday’s consensus range and also hits the Federal Reserve price target — inflation is now where the Fed wants it and this means less need to stimulate the economy” [Econoday].

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, June 2018: “Small-sample reports on June’s economy have been mixed, showing slowing for manufacturing in the Philly and Markit reports but overall acceleration for Chicago” [Econoday]. “In special questions, nearly a quarter of the sample said trade issues are affecting purchasing decisions and nearly 40 percent said they are starting to raise wages. Business in Chicago’s sample is very good, perhaps too good which points to the risk of imbalances.”

Consumer Sentiment, June 2018 (Final): “Consumers were upbeat about June but turned less optimistic on the outlook” [Econoday]. “In an echo of this morning’s Chicago PMI, one quarter of the sentiment sample is citing the potential impact of tariffs as an issue. Whether or not tariffs become an increasing risk, the strength in the current assessment is an immediate plus for the economy.”

Retail: “Sale coming soon? H&M needs to offload $4 billion in unsold clothes” [CNN]. “The Swedish fashion company said Thursday that the value of its global unsold inventory ballooned in the most recent quarter to 36 billion Swedish kronor ($4 billion). That’s a 13% increase over the previous year. The mass of unsold clothes, which has grown over a period of years due to weaker than expected sales growth, helped drag down profits by 28% in the first half of 2018.” • That seems like rather a lot…

Retail: “What Retailers Are Doing That Some Consumers Find ‘Creepy'” [Footwear News]. “Experience personalization firm RichRelevance surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers last month on some of the most talked-about technologies today. Among the most notable takeaways: digitally savvy millennials (which RichRelevance defines as 18 to 29 years old) are significantly more open to new tech than the general population, describing innovations as ‘creepy’ in decidedly smaller numbers. Take Amazon’s Alexa [–please!], for example, and other voice assistants that can offer product recommendations and place orders for you*, queue up music and spit out weather reports with a simple voice command. Forty-one percent of consumers said they’re ‘creepy,’ compared with 32 percent of millennials.” • I can think of other phrases besides “digitally savvy,” like “primed and vulnerable.” NOTE * “You,” and everybody around you, who has to listen to you and your assistant perform the act of consumption. This is especially obnoxious when Alexa clearly doesn’t work very well, so “you” cram our ears with noxious verbal rephrasing to try to get the stupid software to work… Voice assistants are going to raise the same, er, civility issues as cell phones. Watch. Silence is a commons.

Retail: “The Big Highs and Deep Lows of Opening an Independent Bookstore” [Literary Hub]. “That leads to the next most common concern, WHAT ABOUT AMAZON?? This one is usually followed up with an admission that they shop on on Amazon all the time and everyone just buys books online. All booksellers are well versed in responding to this claim. We may be somewhat weary, but we soldier on in hopes of converting even a single Amazon devotee. We explain that while yes, Amazon will always be a threat to independent businesses, the general public has been realizing how much they enjoy having community spaces and businesses in their neighborhoods. We talk about the the shop local movement and the resurgence of the independent bookstore. We explain how we can offer lots of things that Amazon can’t: personal recommendations, discovery of something unexpected, a space to congregate. No, we will not be able to price match, but we are banking on the people who like what we offer and would rather see money go back into their community than into the pockets of Jeff Bezos. While Amazon is real concern, it is not in fact an obstacle to opening a bookstore in a town that wants a bookstore and does not have one.”

Retail: “Instagram star isn’t what she seems. But brands are buying in” [CNN]. • Speaking of creepy, robot influencers!

Manufacturing: “Steel Giant Plows $1 Billion Into US and More Will Follow” [Industry Week]. “India’s top steelmaker JSW Steel Ltd. says it’s scouting for more deals in the U.S. and Europe to expand its global footprint, betting that vibrant growth will underpin demand in overseas markets and complement a boom at home that’s seen the mill ramp up local output.”

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin Bloodbath Nears Dot-Com Levels as Many Tokens Go to Zero” [Bloomberg]. “Down 70 percent from its December high after sliding for a fourth straight day on Friday, Bitcoin is getting ever-closer to matching the Nasdaq Composite Index’s 78 percent peak-to-trough plunge after the U.S. dot-com bubble burst. Hundreds of other virtual coins have all but gone to zero — following the same path as Pets.com and other red-hot initial public offerings that flamed out in the early 2000s.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla is asking Model 3 reservation holders for another $2,500 to order their cars” [CNBC]. “Tesla is sending out e-mails to all Model 3 reservation holders in North America this week informing them that their electric sedans are ready to order and asking for an additional $2,500 to fulfill their orders.” • So that’s how they’re raising their capital, eh? Innnovative.

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk Is a Farting Unicorn Fan, but Blew Off Creator Tom Edwards” [WestWord]. “[Artist Tom] Edwards learned that his art had been lifted when a friend who’d bought a Tesla broke the news: Edwards’s magical, farting unicorn was being used to show off Tesla’s new sketch pad, embedded in every one of Musk’s electric cars…. Update: Soon after this story appeared, Elon Musk and Lisa Prank got into it on Twitter. “Your company has been using his creative property for a year without credit or compensation,” Tom Edwards’s daughter tweeted. “Don’t you think artists deserve to be paid for their work?” To which Musk replied: ‘Have asked my team to use a diff example going forward. He can sue for money if he wants, but that’s kinda lame. If anything, this attention increased his mug sales.'” • Ah, the old “work for the exposure” line. Musk really is a crook, isn’t he? One can only wonder what other intellectual property Tesla has stolen; Edwards’ unicorn was, after all, embedded in the code for the Tesla’s OS… Family fallout:

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk is reportedly sleeping under his desk and camping out at the office for days at a time as Tesla faces pressure to make 5,000 Model 3s per week” [Business Insider]. “On a chair next to him was a white caseless pillow that he used while sleeping on the floor under his desk.” • Idea: Make Elon sleep under the paint booth. Maybe then it won’t catch on fire.

The Bezzle: “How is Airbnb really being used in and affecting the neighbourhoods of your city?” [Inside AirBnB (DG)]. “Airbnb claims to be part of the “sharing economy” and disrupting the hotel industry. However, data shows that the majority of Airbnb listings in most cities are entire homes, many of which are rented all year round – disrupting housing and communities.” • Wait, what? I thought “disruption” always netted out positive for everyone!

The Bezzle: “Google Maps removes Uber integration” [Ars Technica]. “Despite the ride-sharing tab supporting 17 different services, Uber was the only one that let you pay for a ride and complete your trip all inside Google Maps. It’s not known why Google and Uber have decided to end the program. Maybe not enough people used the feature, maybe Uber decided it would rather have people use its own app, or maybe the tumultuous relationship between Uber and Google has manifested itself.” • Given Google’s dominance, I could have filed this under Concentration as well….

Concentration: “AT&T bumped a fee on most customers’ bills by $1.23, adding $800 million to revenue” [CNBC]. “After a costly acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T may have found a new source of revenue. The telecommunications carrier quietly bumped customers’ fees by about $1.23 each since April, which could mean an estimated $800 million in additional revenue per year for the company. The company booked $160.5 billion in revenue last year. BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk noticed on Wednesday that the telecommunications carrier had bumped its “administrative fee,” a tiny line item at the bottom of customers’ bills, from 76 cents to $1.99.” • Because they can.

Concentration: “AT&T removed HBO from an unlimited data plan after buying Time Warner” [Ars Technica]. “AT&T has been offering free HBO to its unlimited data customers since last year, and you might have expected that deal to continue unaltered now that AT&T owns HBO thanks to its acquisition of Time Warner Inc. But AT&T revamped its two unlimited mobile plans this week, and in the process it raised the price for the entry-level plan by $5 a month while removing the free HBO perk. The entry-level unlimited plan now starts at $70 instead of $65…. The old unlimited plans were called ‘Unlimited Plus Enhanced’ and ‘Unlimited Choice Enhanced.'” • I’m no expert in mobile plans, thank gawd, but how can the “unlimited” be “enhanced”? It’s like having the “Infinity Plan,” and then the “Moar Infinity Plan.” The complexity approaches the theological… .

Tech: “Google retires DoubleClick, AdWords brand names” [Reuters]. “[I]ts basic tool for buying ads now will be named Google Ads, with access to inventory on Google search, its YouTube video service, the Google Play app store and 3 million partner properties. The default interface for Google Ads will be simplified, executives said, with automation powering the design of ads and deciding where they should run….. Brian Wieser, a senior financial analyst following advertising companies for Pivotal Research, said Google’s services generate “a lot of confusion” among people not steeped in the industry. ‘It doesn’t help that Google … leaves us guessing on the relative size and trajectory of what are strategically important businesses,’ he said.” • Doesn’t help who?

Tech: “A.I. Has a Race Problem” [Bloomberg]. “[Kairos AR CEO Brian] Brackeen is black, but like most facial recognition developers, he’d trained his algorithms with a set of mostly white faces…. At Kairos AR Inc., his 40-person facial recognition company in Miami, Brackeen says he’s improved the software by adding more black and brown faces to his image sets, but the results are still imperfect. The same problem bedevils companies including Microsoft, IBM, and Amazon and their growing range of customers for similar services. Facial recognition is being used to help India’s government find missing children, and British news outlets spot celebrities at royal weddings. More controversially, it’s being used in a growing number of contexts by law enforcement agencies, which are often less than forthcoming about what they’re using it for and whether they’re doing enough about potential pitfalls. Brackeen believes the problem of racial bias is serious enough that law enforcement shouldn’t use facial recognition at all.” • Fascinating to see that the old saw, “They all look alike,” has been implemented by coders, even those with the best of intentions…

Mr. Market: “Most stockmarket returns come from a tiny fraction of shares” [The Economist]. “Since 1926, most stockmarket returns in America have come from a tiny fraction of shares. Just five stocks (Apple, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, GE and IBM) accounted for a tenth of all the wealth created for shareholders between 1926 and 2016. The top 50 stocks account for two-fifths of the total. More than half the 25,000 or so stocks listed in America in the past 90 years proved to be worse investments than Treasury bills. The sway that FAANG stocks have held recently is not out of the ordinary.”

Five Horsemen: “All of the Fab Five are bouncing today but none are at new highs” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 29 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “All of the Fab Five are bouncing today but none are at new highs” [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 28 2018


Translating “free stuff”, “ponies”, “socially liberal but fiscally conservative” and so forth:

Class Warfare

“Nurses at Johns Hopkins allege hospital is impeding their efforts to unionize” [Baltimore Sun]. “National Nurses United announced the [formal charge with the National Labor Relations Board] Monday, alleging that hospital management prevented nurses from discussing unionization by barring nurses on their days off from visiting their peers in other departments while they were on breaks.”

“California sues nation’s largest student loan servicer” [Wild About Trial]. “Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the state will sue Navient Corp. this week, contending the Delaware-based company financially harmed thousands of Californians. He said the firm systematically and illegally failed to properly service federal student loans by steering borrowers to more expensive repayment plans, failing to tell them how to switch to income-driven repayment plans or how those with disabilities could end their debts and misrepresenting how it handled payments.” • Hmm. “Good Servicers Gone Bad.” I think I’ve seen this movie before…

“The world’s most dangerous countries for women” [Reuters]. • United States enters the rankings for the first time at #10, so it’s good to see us makring progress in at least this area. #1: India. The methodology: “[A] global perception poll of experts in women’s issues.” Hmm.

“Fairbnb, piattaforme cooperative vs piattaforme estrattive” [Openpolis (DG)]. The FairBnB site (in English). DG writes: “Diptherio may be a better judge of the effectiveness of Fairbnb. I’m going to keep it because the Greek member is very lively—typical of the new underground economy that is eking out a somewhat decent existence in Greece.”

News of The Wired

“Jane Bown, the English Cartier-Bresson” [The Economist]. I don’t know about that but the photos are lovely.

“JavaScript is for Girls” [Logic Magazine]. “Over time, web work professionalized. By the late 2000s, Ehmke says, the profession began to stratify, with developers who had computer science degrees (usually men) occupying the back-end roles, and self-taught coders and designers slotting into the front…. For many people who are teaching themselves to code, front-end work is the lowest-hanging fruit….. When programming professionalized, women got pushed out. Marie Hicks, a computing historian who’s looked closely at this phenomenon, explains that as programming came to be viewed as more important to national and corporate welfare, hiring managers began associating it with a specific set of skills. … The traits of a “good programmer” differed by country, but they were universally male-gendered.”

“Cuba has a hidden internet system based on trading USB sticks” [New Scientist]. “Cuba has a very special kind of internet. Few people have an internet connection at home because it’s so expensive. Instead a weekly collection of websites and entertainment is physically swapped on USB sticks and portable hard drives. Each week, millions of Cubans meet their nearest dealer armed with a storage device ready to download parts of El Paquete Semanal – the weekly package. It’s filled with the latest content, including films and TV shows, as well as websites, apps…” • Hmm…

“Neanderthals Hunted in Groups, One More Strike Against the Dumb Brute Myth” [Smithsonian]. “This new research is only the latest in a recent string of studies that indicate Neanderthals were our genetic and perhaps cultural cousins: complex, emphathetic hominins. Neanderthals have now been credited with creating symbolic art, producing geometric structures of broken stalagmites in underground caves and controlling fire to use on tools and food. Moreover, they successfully exploited whatever environment they happened to live in, be it the snowy tundra of Ice Age Europe, or heavily forested lakeshores during the interglacial periods. This is a sea-change from how anthropologists once viewed this group of hominins: as a species doomed to extinction. Such a view meant that researchers were always looking for what weaknesses had set Neanderthals up for failure, rather than the skills that allowed them to successfully survive for so long.” • Yes, the Neanderthals had their own Jackpot, and did pretty well for a long time…

“Boots on the ground in Africa’s ancient DNA ‘revolution’: archaeological perspectives on ethics and best practices” [Antiquity]. “Africa’s past makes the continent highly attractive to geneticists: sub-Saharan Africa boasts the greatest genetic diversity on the planet, and its centrality in human origins makes both modern and ancient genetic research especially illuminating. African aDNA studies are high-impact publications, thus raising the stakes of the research. Simultaneously, Africa’s underfunded archaeological research history—particularly for the Holocene—means that there are fewer skeletons available for study than elsewhere…. An analogy to the Scramble for Africa is regrettably apt.”

* * *

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 (BB):

BB writes: “Lovely harbingers of spring here in upstate New York.” I think the flowers themselves are a bit soft, but flowers are a tough subject because they are always in motion. I love Columbines because they are graceful and old-fashioned (and also self-seeding). And the moss is lovely too.

Yesterday, I asked for projects, so HF immediately sent this (and go thou and do likewise):

HF: “2018 Chiddam Blanc de Mars (soft white spring wheat) growing in my 400’ square foot urban garden in the heart of San Francisco.” Makes me think that’s the way to attack my quack grass issue. Yes, wheat is still grass, but it’s good grass. Too late this year, though.

* * *

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!

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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.

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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. Matthew G. Saroff

    I think that Trump doesn’t get a very basic fact of US trade policy: Lost jobs and depressed wages are a feature, and not a bug.

    Labor arbitrage is a specific goal of the VSPs when they negotiate these deals.

    It isn’t that the US doesn’t generally get what it wants, it’s that it does get what it wants/

    1. marku52

      Don’t forget the environmental, regulatory, and working conditions arbitrage as well. They are part of the whole happy neoliberal [package.

      1. John Buell

        Generous border policies and improved standards of living here need not be in contradiction. Bill Clinton promised during his first campaign he would add labor and environmental standards to NAFTA. He did so, but as a nonbinding protocal. And would Central America be such a hell hole were it not for US and IMF policies? Had social democratic revolutions flourished there, US multinationals might have been more reluctant to outsource. In any case workers on both sides of the border could receive compensation proportional to their productivity in a full employment economy. The Federal Reserve is at least as potent a force for working class distress as immigrant labor. Progressives ought to push for cross border labor collaboration on these issues. Capital wins as long as ethnic and national divisions within the working class prevail.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      It isn’t the “US” which gets what “it” wants.

      It is the Free Trade Conspirators who get what THEY want. THAT . . . is the feature.

    3. John k

      You don’t get to be a member of the elite unless you get it.
      But trump was willing to say it should be changed, which elected him, and he’s al least making trade war noises, which is just what those that voted for him want, explaining his rise in the polls.
      So the libs moan about how he’s upsetting our partners plus Russia russia plus babies. Not a winning formula.
      We’re getting no blue wave but a small progressive one. And the successes will encourage others.

  2. diptherio

    “The old cities were above all places where people worked.”

    Right, that’s what the enclosure movement was about.

      1. diptherio

        I’d prefer that, of course, but I don’t think everyone would have ended up in the cities to begin with if there hadn’t been a concerted effort to create a desperate labor force. If things had gone differently, I think most people would have preferred to stay home and practice cooperation with their neighbors in the village…but maybe that’s just me.

        1. Left in Wisconsin

          In Capital – the part on Primitive Accumulation – Marx makes a pretty compelling case that rural Englanders were basically driven from their homes to the cities against their wills by the destruction of their previous ways of life. No one preferred to work in the mills. Nor have their kids work there alongside them. Not to dissimilar from any number of places today, though the stage of primitive (i.e. initial) accumulation is past.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I love cities. I think they are a wondrous human achievement. (One can also make the argument that they are good for the environment, and the denser the better. Japanese cities of IIRC the Edo period were masterpieces of recycling, e.g.)

          There have been cities for many thousands of years. To connect them to the enclosure movement, which is a single historical episode in a particular political economy, strikes me as bizarre. You could make the argument that cities are a result of the agricultural revolution, hence “the fruit of the poisonous tree,” or grain, as it were. But you don’t make that argument, and in any case I don’t see why cities are impossible in a horticultural society. No reason edible forests can’t be in cities.

          1. ObjectiveFunction

            After spending a week in Venice (Airbnb) I concluded that if the Internet virus version of the Black Death were to take us all back to 1985 (twisted pair), the Venetians would simply shrug it off and revert to cash and chits. Minimal impact on their life and livelihood, other than loss of the markups from mass tourism. After 4 days in town even we foreigners were recognized and accepted at our local cafes and minimarts.

            The local mafia blocks immigrants from taking regular paying jobs; you will seek in vain for an African gondolier, or trashman, or paramedic. It’s street hawkers only. Racist as hell, sure, and probably illegal (locals just shrug). But with good social benefits you have a working class that lives, drinks and mates with the professional class. Upward and downward mobility are both easier than in the Anglosphere. People get far more out of far less materially, they shop and eat local. Artisans are honoured, though rarely wealthy.

            Southern European polities are jokes in the industrious Germano-Anglosphere, bywords for fecklessness, corruption and inefficiency. So how is it they have so much to teach us about living well?

            [and yes I know it ain’t that simple, small communities can be very petty, nasty places to those who transgress. But visiting a place where society works really puts me in mind of how much we have lost for the sake of cheap SUVs and big screen TVs.]

  3. diptherio

    FairBnB looks relatively legit. They’ve got a .coop address, which is always a good sign, as you have to prove your credentials to get that TLD. But I question whether they aren’t going to have the same legal problems AirBnB does. I’ll ask the folks on Mastodon about it.

    1. Charlie

      The more likely scenario is that the tweet was reported and the account suspended. Many Hillary criticisms on Twitter are lately. Sally Albright AI must be at work again. Pretty soon it will be nothing but establishment viewpoints or Nazi followers.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes, there have been two enormous eruptions on donut twitter: One right after AOC’s election, with vote shaming and Susan Sarondon-hate for themes, and the other on migrant justice.* Curious timing. I won’t say “funded,” but feel free to think it.

        * Does “Keep families together” apply to Russian billionaires purchasing bolt holes here? If not, why not?

  4. Jim Haygood

    “If [Tesla Model 3] reservation holders place an order they must pay an additional $2,500 — but they won’t get a delivery date.” — CNBC

    Oh my … Elon Mush promised earlier in 2018 that Tesla wouldn’t need to raise any more capital this year. Tesla reported $854 million of customer deposits on its 2017 balance sheet. Whacking them with a surprise demand for another $2,500 potentially could raise as much as another billion dollars.

    But the unpleasant resemblance to a Ponzi scheme — in which a company with negative working capital, already using customer deposits to pay its bills, now wants bigger deposits — is quite dangerous.

    You don’t need no CPA to sniff out that Tesla is on the edge of a cash crunch. When confidence evaporates, its collapse will be swift and sudden.

    *strolls over to have a smoke by the paint booth*

    1. Grizziz

      So, who sweeps in to buy Tesla? I don’t think the creditors are going to let Elon run it through bankruptcy.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      If Musk is this much of a swindler and a liar and a thief, one wonders just how much lying swindling thievery is secretly embodied within the technology of the Tesla itself . . . ready to reveal itself after it is too late for buyers to do anything about it.

      Would you buy a used car from this man?

      1. John k

        Lotta happy buyers…
        IMO because the cars are a great buy for the price, maybe too cheap to make a profit, though remains uncertain as volume rises. And

  5. Lee

    The [steel tariff] lawsuit alleges that Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 violates the constitutional prohibition against Congress delegating its legislative powers to the president because it lacks any ‘intelligible principle’ to limit the president’s discretion.” • Interesting argument with wider implications

    Didn’t Trump play the national security card, thus trumping the congressional authority bid? I don’t play bridge so I’m not sure of my terminology. I’m not a lawyer either, so I may have no idea of that which I speak. ; )

    1. John Zelnicker

      June 29, 2018 at 2:29 pm
      Yes, he did, by invoking that Section 232, which allows the President to impose tariffs of he determines that they are necessary for national security. It is the national security “card”.

      1. Lee

        It’s good for a country to keep the know-how for making essential stuff, particularly if that country has a penchant for making enemies abroad.

    2. Expat2uruguay

      But it sounds like the lawsuit alleges that that specific remedy of National security, applied in this manner is unconstitutional, yes?

  6. ChrisAtRU

    “The deeper story is that DSA has members they can count, and somebody is counting them. To be fair, the Democrats count the donor class, especially their contributions, but that’s not quite the same, is it?”

    “They have money, we have people” – Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

    1. TSD

      I loved Sean Hannity’s take on AOC, truly a laugh riot and comedy of the highest order. Recommended viewing.

  7. Bugs Bunny

    Re “Southeast Missouri nail company gets hammered by Trump’s tariffs” I suppose Lambert you put this up as an ironic riff on The Wealth of Nations. You can’t make this stuff up.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Fortunately, the Trump regime is on the case. When all that you have is a hammer….

  8. dcblogger

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!Thank you! to the person who wrote in about NY1. I would love to hear any report from the ground, but most especially Massachusetts and Michigan.

    1. ACF

      Re Gershon’s Medicare for All, the strong ads are important–campaigning explicitly on the issue is important–but the website confirms the he’ll vote for (even co-sponsor) but not lead the fight; he sees it as not the short term fight, and his short term stuff is precisely the stuff that gives me here jeebies; it’s like the last paragraph is classic DCCC:

      HEALTH CARE (https://www.perrygershon.com/issues/health-care/)

      We need universal healthcare that is both accessible and affordable to everyone. The best way to do this is under a Medicare for All system, such as HR 676, currently pending in the House. I would be a co-sponsor of this or a similar bill. Until we get such a system passed, we must also protect the gains made under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

      Access to health care is a basic right, but it is under attack by Donald Trump and Republicans like Lee Zeldin. Zeldin voted for a plan that would impose an effective age tax, unfairly discriminating against older Americans by charging them five times more than younger Americans. And the GOP repeal of the mandate endangers the successes achieved to date under the ACA.

      Repealing the ACA won’t help Americans, it won’t save lives, and it won’t make health care any cheaper. The ACA is imperfect, but we need to build on its strengths and address its weaknesses – not strip health insurance from millions. The only way to fix our country’s health care problems is by working across the aisle.

      In Congress, I will fight to stabilize insurance exchanges through bipartisan reforms so that we’re able to increase the number of people with health insurance and lower premiums for all Americans. And I will fight to establish a Medicare for All or similar system as soon as practically achievable. In the short-term, I’ll prioritize maintaining the subsidies to stabilize the system and keep healthy people enrolled. And a public option is the only real, long-term fix for the ACA to make sure that Americans have affordable, universal health care at the lowest possible total cost to the country.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        What is this “lowest possible cost” b*******? I never hear that asked about defense dollars. Or legislative perks.

      2. ambrit

        Too right! (Pun intended.)
        The dreaded ‘Public Option’ rears it’s ugly head yet again.
        Too much caving in to the ‘establishment’ deflection tool known as ‘incrementalism’ will wreck any ‘bold’ proposal.
        In the second paragraph, the sentence; “We need universal healthcare that is both accessible and affordable to everyone.” just cries out for deconstruction. Really. If something is “Universal” the ‘affordable and accessible’ part will come along, kicking and screaming mayhaps, but come along it shall.
        The despicable ACA is venerated as if it were a ‘Holy Relic’ of the Sainted Obama. (Hand me the barf bag, will you dear?)
        Sadly, my take away from this document is that the candidate putting it out is trying to cover all bases at once. If this is what passes for ‘Standing On Your Principles’ today, then we are well and truly f—-d! Not only that but, what is being offered for lube is a tin of GoJo Orange Pumice Hand Cleaner.

  9. Lee

    HF: “2018 Chiddam Blanc de Mars (soft white spring wheat) growing in my 400’ square foot urban garden in the heart of San Francisco.” Makes me think that’s the way to attack my quack grass issue

    Over here on the sunny side of SF bay I used to aggressively weed Oxalis. But then I noticed it keeps the Bermuda grass down. It’s also rather pretty. Now I only weed it when I intend to plant something else.

  10. rjs

    to clarify my comment on the GDP revision in yesterday’s cooler…

    the reason GDP was revised lower was that the overall GDP deflator was revised higher, from 1.9% to 2.2%, thus reducing real GDP from the nominal amounts by a greater amount…that happened as the PCE deflator, which should be most heavily weighted, was revised down from 2.6% to 2.5%, the gross investment deflator was revised down from 2.9% to 2.8%, the exports deflator was unchanged, the imports deflator was revised down from 9.0% to 7.2%, while the government deflator was revised up from 3.2% to 3.4%…

    so why was the GDP deflator revised higher when most of its components were revised lower? the large upward revision to GDP prices reflects the big downward revision to import prices, notably petroleum, based on newly updated International Transactions data…since oil prices were revised lower, that means we imported more of it…and since imports are a subtraction from GDP, any change in their price has an opposite effect on the GDP deflator…thus it was the large downward revision in the price of imported oil which cause the overall GDP inflation adjustment to rise, and hence cause reported GDP to fall, despite the slight upward revision to current dollar GDP…

  11. Jim Haygood

    One clear day you can’t see General Motors:

    (Reuters) – General Motors warned on Friday that expansive U.S. tariffs on imported vehicles being considered by the Trump administration could lead to a “a smaller GM” and risks isolating U.S. businesses from the global market.

    The largest U.S. automaker said in comments filed on Friday with the U.S. Commerce Department that overly broad tariffs could “lead to a smaller GM, a reduced presence at home and abroad for this iconic American company, and risk less [sic] — not more — U.S. jobs.”


    Trump’s charlatan remedies of steel, aluminum and auto tariffs are nothing but bad news for heavily indebted GM and Ford. The next recession could bankrupt one or both of them, which would be BK #2 for GM.

    Like Guns n Roses, Trump has an appetite for destruction. He probably don’t know the difference between less and fewer either.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s surprising Trump is not going after Telsa harder than GM.

      His Chinese solar panel tariffs were said to be good for coal miners.

    2. ewmayer

      You clearly skipped yesterday’s “Wolf Richter: Beyond the Hysteria About Auto Tariffmageddon” piece – good for you, it was chock-full of the ultra-dangerous “information potentially contrary to the Haygood dogma” heresies. Ugly, ugly stuff.

      1. Jim Haygood

        So did you, or you would have seen this post there:

        Jim Haygood
        June 28, 2018 at 1:21 pm

        An alternate, equally plausible outcome is that Herbert Hoover Trump achieves the remarkable feat of pushing General Motors into a second bankruptcy, just as his Republican namesake sealed the fate of Stutz, Duesenberg and Pierce-Arrow by 1932.

        You heard it here first.

        *dons goggles for a spin in the Bearcat*

        1. ewmayer

          I read the post the previous evening on Wolf Street – I was the one (or one of the ones) who fwded the link to Yves.

          And by way of some cursory fact-checking, just looking at the first automaker on your list: Stutz shuttered in 1935, not 1932, and Hoover and his (mis)handling of the GD had little to do with that, except perhaps to speed the end a bit:

          During the close of the 1920’s, the Stutz company was riddled with lawsuits, including ‘breach-of-contract’ over engine building. James Scripps-Booth entered a lawsuit about the low-slung worm drive design Stutz had been using. The Stutz Company was beginning to fall on hard times.

          The demise on the race track would slowly transcend to the market place. For all of 1930, there were less than 1500 cars produced. Sales declined even more in the following years and in 1934, after only six Stutz cars produced, the factory closed its doors. This is not to suggest the racing results were solely responsible for the company’s woes. The Great Depression crippled and destroyed many auto manufacturers at this time. Competition in design and technology was ever present and the dependable, mass-produced, low-cost automobile manufacturers were in the best positions to come out on top.

          But hey, don’t facts get in the way of your pet Trump-is-Hoover-the-2nd-and-will-cause-the-demise-of-the-everything-market-bubble-which-would-otherwise-go-on-forever narrative.

  12. Jim Haygood

    Short version of a disappeared (?) comment — Tesla’s attempt to raise another billion in customer deposits bears a close resemblance to the final stage of a Ponzi scheme. It urgently needs those dollars to pay for materials and labor, since it isn’t meeting sales targets and is losing money on each sale to boot. Cue tearful ending …

    1. John k

      Production is far higher than when they first made their deposit, plus thousands delivered, so everybody in the q is closer to the top than previously.
      And haven’t heard predictions they go under before 2019, in which case likely 100k+ Additional customers will receive their car.
      Not unreasonable to require increased deposit as buyers get closer to receiving product.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Not unreasonable to require increased deposit as buyers get closer to receiving product.

        That depends on whatever contract the members of Tesla’s fan base signed, right?

        To me, it comes perilously near extortion: “You want the car you already put money down on? Fork over more money.” I’d like a legitimate commercial precedent for this sort of thing. (If the example stems from startup culture, a la KickStarter, startup culture is full of regulatory arbitrage crooked at hell; see Uber, AirBnB, etc.)

  13. Lee

    Short version of a disappeared (?) comment

    Having a similar problem. One showed up after awhile on the meet up page.

  14. Oregoncharles

    Thank you so much for the Jane Bown link. She’s new to me, even though I was learning and practicing photography about that time. Yes, they’re beautiful, and moving.

    The comparison to Cartier-Bresson makes sense to me, although the style is somewhat different (HCB was more reserved and formal, somehow) and I don’t think he did so many portraits – he was a free-lance, she worked for a paper. Incidentally, photographing for a newspaper has its own technical requirements, because the reproduction is so poor. The high contrast in the portrait of Beckett might reflect that.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      HCB has that insanely sharp, tense geometry in his compositions; I don’t see that in Jane Brown. OTOH, I may be missing the geometry that is there. Readers?

      1. Oregoncharles

        “Sharp, tense geometry” is a good description of what I meant by “reserved and formal.” Their subjects and working methods were quite similar, reflecting their era. Imposing visual beauty on the chaos of real life is quite an achievement, especially under deadlines.

  15. Summer

    Just five stocks (Apple, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, GE and IBM) accounted for a tenth of all the wealth created for shareholders between 1926 and 2016. The top 50 stocks account for two-fifths of the total. More than half the 25,000 or so stocks listed in America in the past 90 years proved to be worse investments than Treasury bills. The sway that FAANG stocks have held recently is not out of the ordinary…

    The only one of all those mentioned that’s not a military/defense contractor is (I think) Netflix.

  16. SimonGirty

    I watched Jindal Steel/ SAW Pipes Baytown kill three of their employees in a single week. The one manager was pissed off we couldn’t move the one employee, to get production running again. I went to see three of my coworkers, maybe 300’away. They were running full-tilt. TX OSHA did NOTHING, OSHA did NOTHING. They later bought PSL/ BSL (another Indian owned, mill, MS pretty built for them, right where Katrina wiped out Pearlington, MS). Fuor of the large diameter (API Monogram) pipe mills are Indian owned, at LEAST seven others are owned by Russian oligarchs. This is where most of our pipelines come from. Good LUCK finding whistle-blowers actually going into these places, folks!

        1. SimonGirty

          Jeez, I HOPE so! There just couldn’t be two? I’d been concerned that Jindal Steel was buying that YOOJ old mill in Lorain, OH or The Sheet and Tube, LTV or Koppel (which I believe is still Rooski oligarch owned (TMK NSG, L.L.C. https://www.tmk-group.com/ ) spooky shit, if they’re going to be moving fracked wet-gas all up and down the Alleghenies to Shell’s ethane cracker or storing it right beneath Ohio farms? Oh, well… everybody loves SOMEBODY, sometime?

          1. Carolinian

            Sounds like we have the same Dean. I only know this because Jerry Lewis talked about it in his book Dean and Me: (A Love Story).

    1. ambrit

      I lived in Pearlington and did some work in the Port Bienville Industrial Park. That a low cost, dangerous place to work like Jindal Tubular set up there is no surprise at all. The east side of the Industrial Park is Mulatto Bayou. This body of water has been the final resting place for drums of unwanted wastes and half empty cans of chemicals for decades. After Katrina, the sludge that washed over the town of Pearlington during the storm tide dried out and turned out to be acidic enough to burn the skin when mixed with sweat. It also held arsenic levels off of the EPA charts. (So did the sludge in two other places along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. They were associated with industrial facilities. Dupont Paint at the head of the Bay of Saint Louis and Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula.)
      We’ve been through Baytown Texas. All I can say is that it is in the running for being named “That Place Where Women Who Do Not Support Hillary Go.”

  17. Roady

    “Democratic strategists on fire off the shoulder of the Bronx. I watched four-color Crowley brochures glitter in the dark near the Götterdämmerung Gate. All that oppo will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.” —Blade Runner NY-14

    Well-done! Is the AOC victory the Voight-Kampf test of the 2018 mid-terms?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > the Voight-Kampf test of the 2018 mid-terms

      I’ll have to work on that. Obviously “baby jails” is intended by some to be, but I’m not so sure. One aspect to consider is the good faith of those administering the test and whether that bleeds over to affect the results*, (as, for the genuinely empathetic subject, I imagine it would).

      NOTE * This is Schmoop. I actually love Schmoop because underneath the breezy informal prose, its critical judgment is often acute.

  18. funemployed

    I’m pretty sure in NYC dollars, $200 is roughly the equivalent of $27 where I live. (My rent is about $300/mo, and I actually live pretty comfortably).

    1. funemployed

      Also, that 207K is the sum total of donations less than or equal to $200, so $200 isn’t an average. I’d be very curious if anyone actually has data on the mean and median of those, given that $200 is the upper bound of that particular curve.

      1. Shane

        The campaign definitely does, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all for them to trot it out, just like Bernie’s $27, when the general gets underway. Though, since this is a resolutely Democratic district, there may not be quite the need for it at that point.

  19. Jim Haygood

    James Howard Kunstler surveys the Call of Cthulhu scenes that unfolded at the Republicans’ last stand against the swamp creatures:

    The fabulous Coen Brothers of Hollywood couldn’t come up with a wackier Deep State than the one depicted on cable news this week. Thursday’s House Judiciary Committee hearing had Congressman Jim Jordan (R- Ohio) in the role of “The Dude” from The Big Lebowski doing battle with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as “Osborne Cox” in Burn After Reading. Rosenstein was sure burning, or at least smoldering in his seat, as Jordan badgered him about threatening House staffers by subpoenaing their emails and phone calls.

    The gotcha moment: “You can’t subpoena a phone call,” Rosenstein answered, trying to suppress his mirthful smirk … as in, Listen to me, you dim, Rotarian, Buckeye clod, with your worthless JD from the most obscure law school in the darkest corner of your meth-and-Vicodin-addled state… you can’t subpoena a phone call, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Had Mr. Jordan been a little more nimble of mind in his Dude role, he might have come back smartly at Mr. Rosenstein with a simple, “…Yes, but you can subpoena the records of phone calls, can’t you?” Schwing. Only the poor clod muffed it, and Rosenstein’s praetorian guard of attorneys in the seats behind him joined in the mirthful smirkery — grand fellows of the Deep State are we; we eat Buckeyes for breakfast!

    Rosenstein’s boss is Mr. Jeff Sessions, an elusive figure for months now in the malarial DC backwaters, like that Louisiana Swamp Thang that turns up in the fake Bigfoot documentaries, looming hairily through the night-vision goggles in a cypress slough. Maybe three or four people have laid eyes on him since sometime back in April. Better check his office, make sure he isn’t hunched over face-down in a take-out order of tonkatsu ramen.

    The figures most hidden these days go by the names Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, James Comey, Loretta Lynch, Huma Abedin, and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. If or when the dark, tangled, matrix of “matters” at the FBI ever manage to get unraveled, these characters will come tumbling out with the yarn, dropping into the harsh daylight like little squirming larvae of Tineola bisselliella, the common wool moth.

    I can’t imagine that the mighty mischief at DOJ and the FBI the past two years was not initially approved before 1/20/17 in some fashion by Mr. Obama and with his explicit knowledge.


    Why of course it was. As in Watergate, directed straight out of Nixon’s office, the Steelegate plotters weren’t going to launch a bold, radically illegal plan to hijack an election without some cover from the one person who could pardon them if they got caught. Chicago values will out.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      When it’s mischief at the DOJ and the FBI is under Mr. Trump, it will be BIG NEWS, covered as if he invented it.

      “When people are not under-estimating him, they give him too much credit.”

    2. Synoia

      “You can’t subpoena a phone call”

      Me Rosenstein, are you trying to be funny? This is serious proceeding, and no place for infantile jokes, which could be understood to hold this committee, and congress, in contempt.

      Would you like to make a more productive answer to this question?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Appalling, if true. Legalistic parsing on the order of “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is'” is.”

          IIRC, the Big Dog, being a smart lawyer, was correct, and dodged a clumsily framed question. But that didn’t mean he wasn’t crooked as all get out, because he was.

  20. boz

    That JavaScript is for Girls article…

    Well worth a read. The ending note sends the arrow straight to heart of the issue around privilege and club behaviour:

    And learning to code, no matter how good they get at it, won’t gain them entrance to a club run by people who don’t look like them.

    It’s remarkable how “girl’s jobs” end up paying [fanily blog]: nursing, teaching, front end developers…

    Methodology is everything of course. Can it possibly be the case though that every single woman ends up working part time or decides management isn’t for them and so (conveniently, and intrinsically) drives the gender gap into eternity? /sarc

    It basically sounds like misogyny still needs to be dragged out of the programming industry, kicking and screaming. We see with AI malgorithms why diversity is even more important in tech these days.

    1. ChrisPacific

      Yes, it was a good article. The idea that back end jobs are still more prestigious is a bit ironic considering that the front end is where a lot of the innovation in the last decade has been taking place. Anecdotally I would also say that there are a lot more bad back-end developers out there than bad front-end developers. I think this might be because the front-end devs are closer to end users, and if they screw up they generally hear about it pretty quickly. Back end developers in contrast can build a career out of being the spider at the center of a web of technical debt, protected by entrenched processes, ossified standards, and political power structures from any serious change.

    2. XXYY

      As someone who’s been a software engineer for many decades in firms large and small, I (a) agree that most software developers are men, and (b) have seen zero evidence of any discrimination or disinclination to hire women for open positions anywhere I have worked. The idea that there’s some silent conspiracy not to hire women sw engineers has absolutely no basis in fact in my experience. On the contrary, most workers I know would enthusiastically welcome a better gender balance on their teams and projects.

      The only explanation I can think of is that that there are actually very few women applying for work in the field compared to the number of men. As a hiring manager I have many times asked HR to send me 100 resumes meeting certain criteria (basically a keyword search); usually 85 or 90 of the resumes coming back are men.

      So, if women want to see more women in the software field, they should (a) have a genuine interest in this complex and interesting subject, (b) do well in high school, (c) get admitted to a good engineering college, (d) graduate, and (e) apply for jobs. I don’t mean this in an insensitive way, I’m just saying that AFAIK there are no other obstacles to being a working sw engineer than this (admittedly somewhat difficult and time consuming) one.

      Note that there are also many fields that are overwhelmingly women, e.g., human resources, real estate agents, nursing, elementary school teaching. I’m not saying this is good or bad, but it does seem to be a fact that many fields are not gender-balanced. This fact does not (and certainly should not) keep determined people, men or women, from entering their chosen field.

  21. steelhead

    At least AT&T only raised most customer’s “administrative fee” from $.76 to $1.99. Mine went from $0.00 to $3.99. It’s time for an antitrust revolution… (LOL).

    1. Carolinian

      I have an ATT copper line that just went up over 10 percent. Clearly they are trying to shove customers onto newly installed fiber.

      Guess I could switch to that alternate company offering copper line phone. Oh wait…

      Since Lily Tomlin is still around she should revive her famous spoof of the Bell Tel phone operator. Monopoly humor is back.

  22. djrichard

    If you haven’t seen it yet, recommend the movie “The Death of Stalin”. It might still be in some theaters, but it’s coming out now on streaming services (which is how I had to catch it as my spouse doesn’t like political humor movies).

    Anyways, can’t recommend enough. It’s very dark humor a la Dr. Strangelove, but in a way, more serious in what it’s communicating. There’s a point in the movie where Khrushchev asks Beria (his nemesis), “are you making this up as you go along?”. The movie is showing what happens when reality is up for grabs. Who will end up grabbing the brass ring? Of course we know the answer: Khrushchev. High marks to all involved that the movie is able to make it enjoyable to see how this plays out. Enjoyable and yet dispiriting.

    1. Michael

      Heartily agree. Watched on Iberia Air coming home from Madrid. much chuckling and 2 thumbs up!

      1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

        Re: Death of Stalin movie:

        I enjoyed it very much but those who ignore or are unaware of the nature of power and the eminent possibilities don’t like it much. If they are aware of history, they seem not be able to mentally ‘go there’ – much more convenient to kow-tow to whoever.

        For me the lesson from the movie is that the military is the arbiter and legitimacy of last resort, and at some point always steps up. Let us hope that they are really deep when they do.

        Pip Pip!

  23. dk

    I’d like the lowest number to be $27, not $200, but I don’t have time to figure out how to work the Open Secrets machine…

    You can’t because FEC doesn’t break out contributions under $200. A ≤$200 donation is effectively anonymous. The campaign probably knows though, certainly if they processed it in-house. I don’t know for sure that ActBlue passes amount with email address/contact info but they probably do. But that info is not part of FEC disclosure, and might be considered “valuable” in terms of campaign data. Which means that when swapping lists with other orgs/campaigns, comparable/equal value must be received for the swap to be a no-cost exchange. These are in-kind contributions and must be declared for compliance.

    Aside: It is explicitly illegal to raise money directly off of FEC data.

    The Restriction
    Reports and statements filed by political committees may be inspected and copied by anyone. The names and addresses of individual contributors, however, may not be sold or used for any commercial purpose or to solicit any type of contribution or donation, such as political or charitable contributions. 2 U.S.C. §438(a)(4) [PDF]; 11 CFR 104.15. This restriction applies to Federal reports and statements filed in Washington, as well as in each state. Any person who violates this restriction is subject to the penalties of 2 U.S.C. §437g [PDF].

    Congress created this restriction to protect the privacy of individual contributors (Advisory Opinions (AOs) 1981-38 [PDF], 1980-101 [PDF] and 1980-78 [PDF]).

    Note: This restriction applies only to the use of individual contributor information, not to the use of names and addresses of political committees. Commercial vendors may compile and sell the names of political committees. AO 1980-101 [PDF].


    Of course exceptions have been carved out over time,see page. But this can be circumvented by list matching: I have a list of people in hand, it’s okay to look them up on the FEC list to see how much they gave and to whom, and fundraise from the results. Note also the exception for academic research:

    The use of individual contributor information for “bona fide” academic research projects that do not involve the sale or use of that information for a commercial purpose or for soliciting contributions. AO 1986-25 [PDF].

    This creates a gray area for researchers to make aggregate profiles which can be so narrow that they are effectively specific.

    Shady donor and voter list swapping (and purchase for nominal price) and retention is a big deal in US politics, there is little oversight (more variously overseas but the UK Brexit election scandals include improper list transfers). Many a career has been made on the leverage of possessing old campaign lists. The passing-around of Cambridge Analytics data for instance, can be assumed to be a “favor” from possessors to interested groups. I’ll bet anything the NRA has it CA data through back channels. But heavy use of an unauthorized list can attract attention, even before the 2016 aftermath, people have been prosecuted and seen prison time for it. It comes under the category of finance, since the lists have real dollar value, although what that value is in a specific case can vary widely.

    1. Utah

      I read in a “The Nation” article about her that the average contribution to AOC is $18.

      Also, actblue sends campaigns everything but the credit card number. Name, address, occupation, etc. You need that info to file your paperwork, depending on where you are. I run a PAC in my state for small dollar donors and use actblue (luckily my paperwork is easier than FEC paperwork). They probably also have an average contribution report button, but I don’t know for sure, I’ve never looked.

  24. clinical wasteman

    “If you want to put the working class first, and you define the working class as the international working class, then you’ve got to square this circle.”
    Yes, squaring this circle is the whole point, & the point of the point, & so on. Insistence on the “iinternational” part is not just a matter of moral principle (though it is that too), & least of all anything to do with news-cycle piety about selected “caged innocents” (as opposed to all those caged or worse at other times, elsewhere, &/or while “less innocent”).
    Nor is it just the gut reaction of a two-time immigrant, but this experience does lead indirectly to the real reason. Namely: capital is international (which nohow means it looks the same everywhere) from the outset, more so than ever today, & unlikely ever to become less so. (If some near-extinction throws the world back to village, feudal or national-autarkicic political economy with capital somehow intact, I hope I don’t survive to see it.)
    So that: although it may not look that way so obviously from the US, China or India, it’s clear from spending a lifetime in three “rich” but still petty & peripheral statelets (NZ, Quebec/Canada & UK) that a fixation on a “national working class” = accepting trivial & hopeless stakes in advance. Perhaps that national class could strike some sort of a deal with an equally parochial “national” capital, but where does that exist? How could it exist? And why would international capital bestow those favors again?
    Or else it implies national working-class “prosperity” secured “competitively”/violently at the expense of the working class elsewhere, i.e. 1. a fool’s errand (see above), & 2. yes, morally/politically obnoxious.
    lt’s a “circle to be squared” because: 1. the human damage – & weakening of the working class – wrought by devaluation of labor anywhere (incl. in so-called “rich countries”) is catastrophic & underestimated by the political left, & 2. it calls for a kind of worldwide “intersectional” solidarity (not altruism but imaginative pragmatism) that has been glimpsed before but never seen in full.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      The circle that needs to be squared is how to (re)organize the working class on an international scale while at the same time providing concrete material benefits to those workers when there are no global political institutions that represent working people. Lots of issues still to be worked out TSTL.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I’ll have more to say about these two comments when I have more time. Let me briefly say, however, that if anything like this were on the horizon, we would have seen in the supply chain, where U.S., Brazilian, and Chinese truckers all have the same problems — and occupy, as Kim Moody points out, a key choke point — and yet if an international effort bas been made, it hasn’t shown up anywhere I have seen. [Adding: This is something I’d love to be wrong on!]

        So as a result we have factions within the DSA calling for the abolition of the nation-state and all borders, and other factions calling for #MedicareForAll, presumably to be implemented by the nation-state, and if not, then by whom? And how is that going to work electorally, if that is a goal of DSA per se? I don’t think it is going to work, and instead of getting both, we’ll get neither.

        I think also that one thing we often forget — I do, not having any hostages to fortune — is that most working class people have families. So it’s not simply a matter of “I have 100, so I will give up 20 in solidarity with the international working class,” it’s also “I have 100, so after giving up 5 of my own small luxuries I will take 15 away from my children in solidarity with the international working class” (assuming most budgets are pretty tight, which I think is fair). It’s a moral question too, and babies are involved whereever you look.

        1. JBird

          I have to ask why some are so excited about about abolishing borders and the nation-state? What little large scale influences most people as a group have is as nationals in their state. The lower your class level is, the more accurate that last sentence is. Capitalists want to move labor freely so that its value can be decreased and people immiserated.

          Both of our political parties have been enabling illegal immigration of refugees from countries the United States has devastated, often at the behest of wealthy interests; the Parties then cry false tears and faux outrage all while tut-tutting Americans for either being so mean to the refugees increasing unemployment, decreasing wages, increasing housing costs, overwhelming the various government services, or for not competing directly with people who have driven wages so low one cannot survive, and that’s if the “lazy”’American is hired.

          What I just said is pretty obvious. I am also personally enraged that getting angry at the poor immigrants, who should not be here at all, who are being used to destroy jobs, unions and wages is not right. If they could live in their country, they would not have done the often deadly trip to the United States. It’s another means of dividing and conquering just with enslaved blacks and poor whites in the past.

        2. Left in Wisconsin

          Apologies if I sound like a broken record on this. There are only two ways unions succeed. One is when workers have labor market power, typically by having specialized skills that capital needs. This often results in craft unions, which can but don’t have to be selfish. But there have been many cases of skilled workers expressing solidarity by using their leverage to help workers outside the craft (sympathy strikes/secondary boycotts, skilled workers in industrial unions, etc.) But I have never heard of a case in which this solidarity extended beyond the nation state.

          The second case is when unions are able to gain some measure of market control by organizing a substantial fraction of a particular labor market. Then the ability to strike is much more powerful. Again, I am not aware of a situation in which this labor market control extends beyond a single nation state.

          All of the evidence on trans-national unionism, at least until now, suggests that it does not work in cases where members in different countries face different circumstances (which, from the perspective of capital, is the whole point of labor arbitrage). European works councils have been around for more than 20 years now and have had basically zero impact in promoting transnational labor solidarity – because in each country unions feel under pressure and their only leverage is at the nation-state level. The clearest example of straight transnational unionism that I know of was in the UAW, when Big Three contracts were virtually identical for US and Canadian workers – nominal wage equality. This relationship fell apart in the early 1980s when the US side felt compelled to give concessions to maintain jobs and the Canadian side – much weaker currency, cheaper health care due to single payer – did not accept those constraints and broke away.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > All of the evidence on trans-national unionism, at least until now, suggests that it does not work in cases where members in different countries face different circumstances (which, from the perspective of capital, is the whole point of labor arbitrage).

            Counter-example from an open borders proponent?

  25. Fraibert

    Regarding the steel tariff lawsuit, I doubt that will go anywhere. The suit is trying to invoke the “nondelegation doctrine,” which holds that each branch of government has certain duties that it cannot delegate. For example, in the case of the legislature, it cannot delegate to the executive the duty of making new law.

    The doctrine is essentially dead in connection with the Congress’ legislative duties. In _Mistretta v. United States_, the Supreme Court summarized the rule as follows:

    “Accordingly, this Court has deemed it ‘constitutionally sufficient’ if Congress clearly delineates the general policy, the public agency which is to apply it, and the boundaries of this delegated authority.”

    It’s true that the doctrine could be revived with teeth (and there are serious arguments to do so), but I doubt that the courts would do so in a case involving international trade, where Congress would be seen as rightfully giving the President broad latitude. Furthermore, I doubt that liberals/progressives/etc. would really want that–a real nondelegation doctrine could effectively shut down agencies that heavily proceed by rulemaking, such as the EPA, because many rules are so substantive and detailed that it’s hard not to view them as assuming true legislative powers.

  26. Jim Haygood

    Well, there they go again — that determined cabal of sellers who keep stepping on the market in the final hour, when the big boys trade.

    Today they knocked down the Nasdaq 100 glamour index (where our Five Horsemen trade) from a 50-point-plus gain at 3 pm to a paltry 9 point rise at the close.

    Even on the market’s good days, symptoms of underlying illness manifest.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Not to detract from the luster of what’s being polished here in terms of the stock indexes and the relatively few names driving them, but real bull markets also don’t require trillions of dollars in central bank liquidity infusions, negative real interest rates, centrally organized buying of financial securities, price manipulation through high frequency trading algorithms, and trillions of dollars in corporate stock buybacks. Just sayin’…


    2. cnchal

      > . . . that determined cabal of sellers who keep stepping on the market in the final hour, when the big boys trade.

      The plunge team?

  27. RMO

    So now Elon has his own entry on forexposure.txt. Way to go man. Right in there with the 12 year old art theives and people stealing off of deviantart who get enraged when called out or given a copyright strike. Classy company!

  28. cocomaan

    The new conspiracy theory about Kennedy is that Trump has been arranging the entire SCOTUS turnover for the past 18 months. The appointment of Gorsuch, a former Kennedy clerk, was just part of the equation:


    As I said to someone I know, I don’t think Trump can be both demented and the purveyor of a complex conspiracy theory. As the one article says above, the Democrats radically underestimate their opponents on a regular basis. Trump is no exception. The guy isn’t a genius but he has a sense of cunning that the Democrats don’t recognize.

    1. Carolinian

      The danger for the Dems has always been that he’s smarter than they think he is. Not that there’s too much evidence of that so far.

      But whatever he is he’s surely not what the Dems think he is (the new Hitler, Putin’s Manchurian Candidate etc).

      1. Quentin

        Cocomaan, Of course Kennedy cooperated with Trump to resign before the midterms. The conservative Justice with a veneer of liberalism/progressivism (same-sex marriage?).

        1. Expat2uruguay

          Or perhaps someone who thinks they can manipulate president Trump used their significant influence, AKA dollars, to influence Kennedy into retirement? Trump doesn’t have to be the Mastermind, just in-on-it guy number 2.
          I put a lot of stock in the theory that Trump creates chaos so that he can receive direct bribes for political favors. This is not only beneficial for him, but also for those who are able to easily manipulate him.

          It is exactly as Bernie Sanders said, the game is rigged. But much more so now. Bernie Sanders: truth-teller and prophet.

        2. cocomaan

          We say “of course”, but I didn’t see a single person who called this one. Nobody saw it coming.

          And sure, he may not be the mastermind, but the 18 month timeline is something else!

      2. RUKidding

        Agree. I cannot stand Trump. He’s just an awful awful person. But I’ve been aware of him for decades. He’s a Carny barker, for sure, but he’s managed to do better than one would think. He’s a sociopath with a certain amount of rat cunning, plus mobbed up with the right connections.

        Yes, underestimate Trump at your peril. I surely didn’t vote for him, but I called the election for him in August of 2016 bc I could see how much the Clinton juggernaut underestimated Trump.

        And the beat goes on…

      3. johnnygl

        Trump understands that he has to hit the fiscal accelerator, and he did it with low multiplier things like defense spending and tax cuts, but the numbers are big enough to have some effects.

        I’m also thinking he understands not to start any major conflicts, but to ramp things up like he is ABOUT to start them.

        An incumbent prez with the best economy in a decade (not good enough to improve people’s lives, of course) and no new wars is going to be hard to beat in 2020, especially against an opposition that resolutely refusing to offer a program of any change.

        1. cocomaan

          I’m a little worried about this 2020 election, it’s going to be gross. Grosser than 2016, possibly.

          Hillary is going to try and run, almost certainly.

          1. Carey

            Go, Hillary! Go, Smilin’ Joe!

            I want to see them fall flat on their faces. Their support is virtually all
            in the explaining/fellating 10%.

            Jane and Joe Sixpack, however, are wising up.

  29. Shane

    I’d like the lowest number to be $27, not $200, but I don’t have time to figure out how to work the Open Secrets machine…

    I think Open Secrets’ $200 cutoff for small donations is based on the same cutoff for FEC classifications (below which it is also acceptable to donate anonymously). (Not an expert, but basing this on my experience in the early days of the Bernie campaign, before the checks being sent to headquarters were redirected to a processing facility in TN, and they had volunteers such as myself sorting them according to amount, with one of the few staff members at that time following up on the problematic ones — anything from a business, PAC, or anonymous over that $200 threshold — or very rarely, any individual donation exceeding $2700.)

    My bet is the reason they use that as their cutoff is that it’s a top-line number published in FEC reports. You could find the number of <$27 donations, but you'd have to dig into the reports themselves (which is outside the capacity for Open Secrets in providing this info for every state and federal race in the country, but (probably? Depends on the format it's released in) not particularly difficult if you're just interested in that info for a single race like 2018 NY-14 Dem primary).

  30. Quentin

    President Trump and the Republicans have all their ducks in a row, for instance Jerusalem as capitol of Israel, tax deductions, chaos and pain afflicting immigrants from the south, Muslim ban and now the juicy cherry of a US Supreme Court justice with a second one on the horizon. The Democrats have no sense of purpose or even strategy. They get themselves stymied again and again. Someone commented here yesterday that when the Democrats had control of the three legislative branches in 2009 Bader-Ginzberg could have convinced to retire at the respectable age of 78 to allow Barack Obama to appoint a Justice. Now let him come out and face the situation for which he is in part responsible. The death of Scalia ? was a fluke which he could also have taken advantage of. LBJ had gone to Congress with fire to demand Garland’s acceptance. Nancy Pelosi needs to be exposed for the money grubber she is, political fraud without a grain of courage, even less purpose except the donor class. The Democrats need to go into therapy to shake off their Stockholm syndrome—that is, if the even want to.

    1. RUKidding

      Yes, exactly, esp RBG stepping down, so Obama could have appointed someone younger. But: noooo.

      I see other blogs adjuring me to get out on the streets and “fight” for Republicans to appoint someone “decent” (whatever that means) to the SCOTUS.

      I thought: Sheesh, I thought that’s why Obama got elected. To appoint “decent” judges to the SCOTUS. However, the Barackstar found it tobe just too too incivil to fight for Merrick Garland to be appointed. And now, so, here we are. And for some reason I’m supposed to “do something” to make Republicans appoint a better SCOTUS judge.

      I’m truly sorry about this mess, but I’m fed up beyond all reasoning with dutiful Democratic DUPES running around flapping and twirling about Republicans, whilst dutifully praising the feckless wonders in their own party.

      Cry me a river….

    2. Synoia

      We have to hope the current generation of Gerontic Democratic leadership die faster, to make way for the younger generation.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        But if this “younger generation” are all younger Pelosis and Hoyers carefully chosen and groomed and guided into successor position by the “Gerontic Democratic leadership” , then what will have been the point?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I don’t know. I hope not. But you just know the Pelosi-Hoyerats have been doing their darndest to “make it so”.

            Are there “lists of tells” , charts , diagrams, ways to tell if the young political hopeful in question is a secret Clintonite agent or not? I hope so. Because if there are, then every young Secret Obamazoid can be purged and burned out of politics nice and early by a determined movement devoted to voting and contributing and otherwise acting against them at every opportunity.

            1. JTMcPhee

              From whence cometh this “determined movement”?Though I can hope that some such thing will materialize, and escape being suborned by The Usual Suspects…

  31. Expat2uruguay

    Re: Airbnb. When I first came to Uruguay in 2016 to check out the country, the culture, and the people I used Airbnb to live all around the city. (I didn’t want to fall in love with a neighborhood and then find out that it wasn’t representative.) I was able to sample about 30 residences in about 20 different neighborhoods over a course of 8 months. Sometimes I stayed a month, sometimes a week sometimes only a few days. Only once did I rent an entire place, when my son and his girlfriend were visiting. One other time I rented a room in a two-bedroom non-owner-occupied apartment. Every other time I rented a room from the owner / renter who lived on site. Sometimes these were arranged as hostels, but generally people were renting one room in their house. So I would say the Airbnb Market here in Montevideo is doing more to help poor people than it is to remove housing stock from available Supply. Even in parts of Uruguay that have a lot of whole apartment rentals, they are seasonal in nature, being at the beach towns like Punta Del Este and Atlantida. Most of the housing stock in such locations is already utilizes as vacation houses, so converting them to airbnb’s doesn’t take away a lot of affordable housing stock for primary residences.

    My use of Airbnb created many advantages, especially as I looked to buy and furnish a home of my own later. Not only did I get to personally experience different neighborhoods in the city, I also got to see the generally poor quality of furniture available here (due to poor local wood supply or cheap Chinese junk) and learn the typical problems that occur to homes.

    In Uruguay, construction is largely reinforced concrete, and there is a lot of humidity year-round. This leads to paint that delaminates from the wall over the bottom couple of feet and mold and mildew problems in bathrooms, kitchens, and anywhere there’s a leak. And there appear to be a lot of leaks.
    I bought my very small 3 bedroom apartment in a good neighborhood for $95,000. I’ve spent $10,000 repairing damp damage and painting, and replacing the kitchen and part of the bathroom. It turned out beautifully and I’m very happy with the results.
    I was very lucky. It’s extremely difficult here to find good people in the construction trades. Most definitely expecially rare is a handyman type that speaks English. I think any competent handyman could make a successful living here in Uruguay, but of course there would be a learning curve to understand local materials and methods… Wow, I really rambled all over the place, I blame the legal weed.

    1. RUKidding

      Thanks for your interesting story about your expriences in Uruguay. It provides some insight… speaking as one who often contemplates becoming an Expat.

      Good luck with your new digs. Sounds great.

    2. Synoia

      In Uruguay, construction is largely reinforced concrete, and there is a lot of humidity year-round. This leads to paint that delaminates from the wall over the bottom couple of feet and mold and mildew problems in bathrooms

      paint that delaminates from the wall over the bottom couple of feet

      1. Paint peeling is a hydro-static pressure problem in the concrete. Relive the pressure. Either don’t paint the bottom 2 feet, or
      2. Drill weep holes at the bottom of the wall, 1/2″ spaced, half the wall thickness, 1 ft apart 3″ above soil level
      3. Put nylon screen (its somewhat opaque opaque) in the bathroom windows. Keep the bathroom windows open 7 x 24.
      4. Screen the bedroom windows, and keep the windows open.
      5. Lose the a/c.

      I’ve lived in the tropics. The key is air flow, and not to hermetically seal the dwelling. Or as the zen masters say “be one with nature,” and live with the lizards etc.

      Our home’s second floor, bedroom floor, was screened front & back, and the house designed so that the was no direct sunlight on any window.

      1. Expat2uruguay

        A lovely informative reply, and thank you. I think the concept of hydro static pressure and not painting the bottom two feet might be an interesting Avenue to pursue. What might I use to cover the blank concrete there? Ceramic tile is the most obvious answer.

        Uruguay is not in the tropics. It’s actually quite near the southern cone, located between Argentina and Brazil. The latitude is approximately equi distant from the equator as is Atlanta Georgia. The summertime temperatures range between 80 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and the winter time temperatures range between 40 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit. But because of the humidity, and the cold winter winds, the temperatures feel more hot and cold then you would guess.
        So it is in the winter time that I close my house up. Even worse, the most economical heating available to me is using portable gas stoves. These have the unpleasant consequences of a buildup of carbon monoxide, gas fumes and increased humidity.

        But still, for some reason there’s a lot of leaks inside the concrete walls of residential buildings. Like I said, competent construction workers are in very short supply here.

        1. skippy

          Apart from weep holes you can also apply a product called Bondcrete: http://www.bondall.com/concrete-additives/bondcrete/

          Or a similar product before putting any kind of decorative paint on walls. Completely agree that air flow is critical in managing moister in walls both absorption or wicking. The whole thing revolves around dew point, ambient temp, structural temp, and in concretes case moister content. Had to wait three months for an industrial slab to wick dry I.E. water in concrete moves like up a candle wick in cycles, dry one day and then wet another. You need about 5 to 7 days of consecutive dry readings to confirm moister content is low enough to apply many coatings.

          This is why, as noted above, the aircon problem WRT metrics I point out, it actually creates conditions that promote water retention and coating failures.

          For all your protective and decorative coating needs…. just remember to ping skippy.

          1. Lunker Walleye

            Terrific to know you are out there, Skippy. Gaining knowledge about materials and processes — right up my alley.

            1. skippy

              Funny thing, its a great product for loose – flaking ceilings et al. Scrape delaminated coatings off and then roll on a one coat to bind whats left. That way when applying secondary coats you don’t get further delamination or blisters due to introduction of permeating liquids. Propensity to chemically induce failure due to past application faults or environmental events.

          2. La Peruse

            Bondcrete is a sealant. Will probably make a hydrostatic problem worse. A traditional lime render would be better, lets the wall breathe.

            1. skippy

              That is the idea after its reached a low moisture content, now pipes is another drama and needs sorting. If the pipes are leaking the concrete and pipes both are aging outside norms. This is why I noted the slab needing 3 months to dry. That was in Texas for Ashland chemical, slab was poured in the monsoon season and was still sopping wet at the final stage of construction.

              Used to do concrete prep and coatings nationally in the U.S. for rather large distribution centers and chemical exposed storage – work areas. Our work had to stand up to forklift traffic and constant floor maintenance or chemical exposure.

              One would be surprised at the difference in concrete from state to state due to mix and environmental issues. Then the discovery process as you take off a few microns off the top to give it a clean profile and increase the surface area to maximize adhesion.

              Never had any application fail due to hydro-static pressure because we always insured prep was done to a high standard. Although I have had to fix entire previous works due to poor prep and application.

        2. clarky90

          Portable gas stoves are bad news. The burning gas releases water into the air. Also, deadly carbon monoxide is released into the room!

          Get electric dehumidifiers. (more than one). They suck the moisture out of the air, the furniture, carpets and the concrete walls. When the moisture condenses, heat is released. The room becomes a few degrees warmer. And the dry air is so much more comfortable to be in!

          Tightly close up a living room, with the dehumidifier running. Go away for a few hours or more. On your re-entry, to the room, you will feel and smell a huge improvement.

          I have three, second hand dehumidifiers in my house.

          Warm hats and socks and coats are good. Also, hot water bottles in the bottom of the bed.

          I live at 45* South

          Thanks for posting. I am interested in Uruguay, and The Tango.

    3. BenLA

      Thanks for the anecdote. I have spent a lot of time in Argentina and am always contemplating an escape from
      the USA.

  32. robert mutch

    I’d like the lowest number to be $27, not $200, but I don’t have time to figure out how to work the Open Secrets machine…

    ≥$200 has become the de facto definition of a “small” contribution, but only because it is the limit for public disclosure of donors. It was set at ≥$100 in 1910, when the first disclosure law was passed, and raised to ≥$200 in the 1979 FECA amendments. The idea is that people who make contributions too small to buy access to a legislator need not be publicly identified. The problem is where to draw the line. Some states have limits as low as $10. dk is right that you can’t tell who or how many people made contributions of $27 or less because their identities are protected by law.

  33. The Rev Kev

    “Idea: Make Elon sleep under the paint booth. Maybe then it won’t catch on fire.”

    What makes you think that he has not already done so? Where do you think that he got the idea to make those personal flamethrowers from? Yeah, those flame throwing paint sprayers. Only thing is that based on some of the stuff he has been up to, he may have spent a tad too long amidst all those paint fumes.

  34. marym

    U.S. agency asks military to house up to 12,000 immigrants

    The U.S. military has been asked by the Department of Homeland Security to house and care for immigrant families totaling up to 12,000 people…

    If facilities were not available, semi-separate, soft-sided camp facilities capable of sheltering up to 4,000 people were to be constructed at three separate locations, the Pentagon said.

    …soft-sided camp facilities…

    ka-ching!!’ Immigration Policy

    The Department of Homeland Security is considering adding space for 15,000 additional people in family detention centers, about five times current capacity, even as the number of border crossings declines.

    Trump admin ran ‘pilot program’ for separating migrant families in 2017

    The numbers show the government was separating migrant kids from their parents back in 2016 and 2017.

    The government was separating migrant parents from their kids for months prior to the official introduction of zero tolerance, running what a U.S. official called a “pilot program” for widespread prosecutions in Texas, but apparently did not create a clear system for parents to track or reunite with their kids.

    As far as dates, another NBC reporter tweets “On top of 2,342 kids separated by “zero tolerance” we know 1,768 were separated before, between 10/16 and 2/18. DHS won’t give month-by-month data so we can’t say if any were under Obama.”

    HHS creates task force to reunify migrant families

    “Secretary [Alex] Azar is bringing to bear all the relevant resources of the department in order to assist in the reunification or placement of unaccompanied alien children and teenagers with a parent or appropriate sponsor,” HHS spokesperson Evelyn Stauffer told POLITICO on Friday night. She said the preparedness and response office will apply its “operational and logistical expertise in addressing this complex effort…”

    According to the post HHS still not answering whether “the refugee office has been keeping a master list of children separated from their parents.”

    Immigrant toddlers ordered to appear in court alone

    As the White House faces court orders to reunite families separated at the border, immigrant children as young as three years old are being ordered into court for their own deportation proceedings, according to attorneys in Texas, California and Washington, D.C.

    “The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,” [executive director of Immigrant Defenders Law Center in Los Angeles Lindsay] Toczylowski said.

    1. marym

      Indefinite detention

      49 mins ago
      Trump administration to keep migrant families detained together long term

      The Justice Department filed a notice of compliance Friday evening explaining their interpretation of the recent court order forbidding the separation of migrant families, which they say allows Homeland Security to legally keep children in detention with their parents longer than 20 days, despite no change to the Flores Settlement.

      Per links in original comment: On military bases, in “soft-sided camp facilities” until for-profit “detention centers” are available, if they can figure out where the children are.

  35. Karl Kolchak

    Regarding the Johns Hopkins story–I spent 35 days there after major cancer surgery that saved my life. With only a couple of exceptions, the nurses were fantastic. They work their tails off and keep things together at what (from a patient’s standpoint) is NOT a terribly well run institution.

    No wonder JHH management is spending time trying to screw the nurses–easier than having to fix the hospital’s poor administrative functions, lousy communication, horrid food and outdated IT systems.

  36. Elizabeth Burton

    …she is sending a clear signal that she favors more permissive immigration policies.

    See what they did there? Easiest way to undermine a progressive is to conflate a position on one issue with something the data-collectors know will annoy people who are triggered by the idea of “more permissive immigration policies.” At which point they stop listening to anything else the candidate says, however, much it would benefit them, because too many people in the US are trained to be single-issue voters.

    And most of them are utterly unaware of just how dangerous DHS is.

    Getting rid of an agency that is increasingly shown to employ thugs with a modicum of “law enforcement” training is in no way or form the equivalent of doing away with immigration enforcement, but I’m willing to wager that’s how any candidate who supports it will have their position framed. Any takers?

  37. JTMcPhee

    So, Lambert and Yves, I nominate you for the “Tiresias and Cassandra Lifetime Achievement Award.”

    But maybe the peoples of Thebes and Troy will listen, this time?

  38. Steely Glint

    RE Jane Kleeb: However, that word “conversation” is a red flag: There are concrete material benefits for rural districts that OR and the left generally should be thinking through that have nothing to do with the border. Say, actual life and death matters like falling life expectancy among those for whom Maddow does not weep? These matters won’t be discussed, if the “conversation” so far is any guide. So everything’s going according to plan.

    Having grown up in fly-over country & living here, walk carefully here. It amazed me that Jane Kleeb was able to muster more than a “conversation” in regards to the successful pipe-line “protest”. What people do not understand, this is Murdoch land where the “force” is very strong and “family values” is the term du jour. I know Charlie Pierce is suspect among NC readers, but he actually does attend does those fly-over campaigns, and here it was. “The Secretary of Agriculture and Land Stewardship of Iowa doesn’t have anything to do with abortion or gun control, unless somebody finds a way to plant a crop of newborns or raise a stand of AK’s. https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a21577227/iowa-trump-china-soybean-tariffs/
    People in the “flyover”( how I hate that term) blanch at the term “socialism” although they are living it every day. Jane understands that & she can have more than one “conversation” at a time.

  39. skippy

    I don’t understand what is confusing about a Wharton RE graduate with experience in Casinos and Golf clubs or Gentrification Highrises finds global economic trade flows and stocks confusing.

    I mean all you need is to be tall, boisterous, and a speed dial to the right fixers…. that and the ability to say your fired I.E. I called you, you failed, your fired….

  40. ewmayer

    o Axios “upend global trade” article: “Some aides have tried to explain to Trump that in their view, the U.S. does well at the WTO, given the U.S. has an army of trade lawyers and created the system.” — For some definition of “the U.S.” that is surely true … hint, it involves a definition based on viewing the nation as a collection of worker-screwing multinational megacorporations.

    o “Lawsuit Challenges Constitutionality of Steel Tariffs Statute” [Industry Week]. “ … The lawsuit alleges that Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 violates the constitutional prohibition against Congress delegating its legislative powers to the president because it lacks any ‘intelligible principle’ to limit the president’s discretion.” • Interesting argument with wider implications — like say, Congress delegating its legislative powers for making war?

    o “The Bezzle: “Elon Musk Is a Farting Unicorn Fan, but Blew Off Creator Tom Edwards” [WestWord]” — The strangest part of this stoy for me is that Edwards says he’s a big Musk fanboi – aside from the flagrant-copyright-infringement, that is – but his farting-unicorn creation seems to be openly mocking the “green” claims of E-car boosters: how else could one plausibly read “Electric cars are good for the environment because electricity comes from magic”?

  41. JTMcPhee

    The 25% Revolution—How Big Does a Minority Have to Be to Reshape Society?

    A committed few can influence the many and sweep away social conventions, new research shows.”

    It’s from Scientific American, so maybe it has some validity? Though I’m sure trolls and naysayers can poke holes in the results…

    Hey, change fans! Maybe some clues and cues on how to grow the kind of political economy you might actually want (and your kids might actually want) to live in!

    It seems to have worked for the 0.1 and assisting 10%, Astroturf and all…


  42. John k

    Squaring local vs international workers circle…
    We’ve been squaring this circle for 70 years, with both parties enthusiastically helping.
    The Marshall plan to get Europe back on its feet.
    Opening trade with a billion people in China. Allowing them into world trade groups even though they did not then, and do not now, meet the rules.
    Lower tariffs on auto exports from many other countries than on our cars to them. Not minding non tariff barriers in japan even though they are a huge competitor. And not insisting on any change even after GR, even though gm and Chrysler went into bk, taking factories and workers with them.
    I don’t recall the hordes cheering globalization and low prices ever asking those in flyover what they think about our policies that transfer jobs from our working class to somebody else’s.
    Well, not until trump. But I would bet they would say, fuggedaboudid squaring circles, and don’t moan to me about your moral concerns, reduce trade until demand for our services returns.
    Dem policies are losing elections.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Squaring local vs international workers circle…

      Let me try. There are two programs to consider extending to non-citizens as well as citizens:

      1) #MedicareForAll. Why? To prevent mass epidemics

      2) #JobsGuarantee. Why? Because there’s an enormous amount of work to be done.

      What’s left for citizens? The vote (and a passport). In a democratic society, the vote would mean determining where the money (resources) go a la #MMT; that’s no small thing. In a democratic socialist society, that would mean control over capital allocation, an even less small thing.

      I don’t believe in open borders per se (which operationally means the end of the nation state), because I’m not an anarchist — the DSA’s tent is too big if it includes them — but I don’t see a reason why immigration couldn’t be greatly increased under those terms.

      But as things are — and note both programs, and MMT itself, are anathema to liberals parading around post-brunch with their “Justice For Everybody But” signage — it all boils down to labor arbitrage aimed at US working class citizens and I’m not buying that package, even for some notional international working class solidarity, which I don’t see happening any time soon. (And if you want to label the above “MMT in one country,” do feel free.)

  43. SimonGirty

    In the department of “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up”

    Mind you, these are the 2006 DEMOCRATS, whore simply watering down slickwater fracking waste and returning it to the streams, spraying it on snow or dusty gravel po’ folks’ roads or simply DUMPING it. Then hiring Israeli anti-terrorist companies to roust protesters, replace reporters with corporate interns & unleash K Street shills, directly from Harrisburg to Energy In Depth. Same as it evah wuz


  44. JerryDenim

    “Then there is a deeper problem, namely that Ocasio-Cortez’s agenda is riven with contradictions.”

    Ha. Tell me about it. “Riven” might be overdoing it though. More like one gigantic contradiction with the ability to negate the rest of her platform would be more accurate. This has been my problem with DSA all along. DSA email header from my inbox this week: “Stand with Labor! Abolish ICE!” A closer reading revealed the email was promoting two separate protest events, but still the blatantly obvious contradictions contained inside of the DSA political tent are enough to confuse anyone who chooses to see the world objectively through a Marxist lens. If the DSA ever wants to recruit regular working class *citizens* (I’ve actually been told that word is racist and should not be used by polite, “woke” people) as opposed to under-employed, over-educated millennials from liberal arts backgrounds, they are going to have to come to terms with reality. Either you can have a nice little socialist club also known as a sovereign country, where membership confers lots of nice things – you know- labor protections, environment protections, free college, free healthcare, paid paternity leave, nice public transit, national parks, social security, etc. that kind of thing, or you can have open borders with a gigantic surplus labor supply that eagerly helps capitalists undercut and circumvent any type of nice thing labor and progressive activists may be able to win at the ballot box, the negotiating table or in the courts.

    However, if ‘abolish ICE’ is Ocasio-Cortez’s only betrayal to her socialist working class idealogy, I can live with it for now. Maybe that’s the price for bending the Overton window towards Single-Payer and a Jobs Guarantee. It’s not like either major party has shown any interest in acutually crimping off Capital’s supply of cheap, black market labor. Also, I don’t particularly want to see the United States become any more militarized or Gestapo-like than it already is. MMT can solve some of the free-loader problems inherent with large numbers of people dodging taxes, but there’s no getting around the problems posed to progressive, democratic socialism by large pools of undocumented, black-market labor. As long as these labor reserves exist, any legitimate working class citizen who demands minimum wage laws be honored, or workplace safety rules be observed will find themselves replaced by a more compliant and cheaper immigrant. This game is as old as commerce itself. Hopefully the Latino open borders wing of the DSA and the MFA’ed millennials looking to find work in the knowledge economy will realize this contradiction and lock arms with their native and naturalized working class citizens in a way that is humane and fair to all. I’m not holding my breath though. One tribe is clueless and lacking empathy for the unskilled native born, and the other is picking tribe over both country and idealogy.

    1. Louis Fyne

      ….. Either you can have a nice little socialist club also known as a sovereign country, where membership confers lots of nice things – you know- labor protections, environment protections, free college, free healthcare, paid paternity leave, nice public transit, national parks, social security, etc. that kind of thing, or you can have open borders with a gigantic surplus labor supply that eagerly helps capitalists undercut and circumvent any type of nice thing….

      I’ve given up trying to even discuss this with *woke* people. Hopeless. It’s become dogma that border enforcement, national sovereignty = bad. near Nazi levels of bad.

      1. Odysseus

        It’s become dogma that border enforcement, national sovereignty = bad. near Nazi levels of bad.

        That nations have the right to control their borders gets very selectively used. It’s not used, for instance, to keep multinational corporations out. Feel free to come into our country and harm our citizens.

        So why should Labor be more restricted in movement than Capital?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          The other question, the earlier question, is, why should capital be less restricted in movement than labor?

          Many people in the world would like to keep multinational corporations out of their countries.

        2. flora

          Why should labor be more restricted than Capital?

          Because super cheap labor with no rights is *very* attractive to big corporations. Super cheap labor with no rights will work for peanuts, undermine union-won wages, benefits, and safety conditions in places like,eg, meat packing plants – which once had good middle-class wages for people right out of high school, with medical benefits, and safety rules about things like line speed. The meat packers ran illegal migrant worker transportation networks to get cheap, powerless workers. By the mid-80s that was putting the unionized, higher wage, good benefits packing plants out of business.

          In May 2002 a federal lawsuit was filed against Iowa Beef Packers (IBP), Inc. :

          “BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) – A federal lawsuit accuses IBP Inc. of using an underground network of recruiters to bring illegal immigrants into the United States to work in its beef packing plant in Joslin, Ill.

          “The lawsuit says the practice violates racketeering laws and keeps wages at unnaturally low levels.

          “The class-action lawsuit, filed earlier this month in Rock Island, Ill., on behalf of IBP’s legal workers, seeks three times the difference in IBP wages compared to industry standards. No hearing date has been set.”


          You can have decent wages and benefits for manual labor/non-degreed work, or you can have open borders, but you can’t have both.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Thank you, flora. The (rhetorical) question also displays a classic neoliberal assumption: That capital and labor come together in the marketplace on equal footing, with no power imbalance.

            1. flora

              Welcome. Agree about the neoliberal assumption.
              It’s also interesting that the open borders issue (separate from the current prison horror at the border) arises almost at the same time the business press has new articles fretting that wages for workers may have to rise, since, they say, the US is at near full-employment.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      >Either you can have a nice little socialist club also known as a sovereign country, where membership confers lots of nice things – you know- labor protections, environment protections, free college, free healthcare, paid paternity leave, nice public transit, national parks, social security, etc. that kind of thing, or you can have open borders with a gigantic surplus labor supply that eagerly helps capitalists undercut and circumvent any type of nice thing labor and progressive activists may be able to win at the ballot box, the negotiating table or in the courts.


      > However, if ‘abolish ICE’* is Ocasio-Cortez’s only betrayal to her socialist working class idealogy, I can live with it for now.

      This too.

      NOTE * You can be for abolishing ICE on civil liberties grounds (Democrat Joe Lieberman’s DHS, too); I am. But that’s not the argument being made, oddly, or not.

  45. Darthbobber

    On the Atlantic article on Ocasio-Cortez and Immigration, among other things.
    The most important thing I learned from this piece is that its author, Reihan Salam, who is executive editor of National Revies, is also a contributing editor for the Atlantic. Which shows even further slippage to the right on the Atlantic’s part than I had been aware of.

    Note that he has to infer an entire assumed Open Borders agenda from the single fact of her opposition to ICE. Because he can’t find any explicit statements from her to indicate such a view. This inferring an entirer 3 piece tweed suit from a buttonhole.

    Much made of how treating things like education and healthcare as publicly funded public goods “creates a large redistribution from the native non-poor to the non-native poor.” Apparently we have no native poor, and publicly funded post-secondary education and healthcare would presumably fail to benefit the native poor and the majority of the native non-poor at all. Just another variation on the standard refrain of evil or feckless Libruls, socialists, Bolsheviks soakin’ the job creators to benefit the undeserving.

    Also drags in entitlement reform and making everything even more “contributions based” as a thing “sophisticated” immigration advocates see as part of the solution. Cites the f-ing Cato Institute as an example of such sophistication. Cato Institute loses no opportunity to flog entitlement “reform” as the solution to everything that tax cuts fail to solve.

    Quarrels with the idea that Ocasio-Cortez regards housing as a human right. He sees such folderol as akin to Bolshevism, it seems.

    Has to infer the parting of company with Sanders, since his brilliant summation of their differences rests entirely on contrasting an inferred position of the one with silences of the other. Doubt if Ocasio-Cortez would have liked the expansion of the rebranded Bracero program any better than Sanders did.

    Key to reform of any kind would be improving the structure of the legal immigration process and making that easier, since workers here lawfully don’t generate nearly the downward pressure on wages that those forced into the shadows do.

    1. relstprof

      Thank you. Yes, never any discussion of legalizing workers and punishing the (family blog starts with F ends with K) outta companies that hire undocumented workers. As if that’s not even an option.

      Legalize workers.

      This requires political courage to enact regulations on businesses and enforce them. Legal workers then must unionize. (Too bad SCOTUS ruled for a version of so-called “right-to-work” that does nothing but empower unregulated corporations.Thanks Trump/Obama/Bush/Clinton/Bush/Reagan!)

      If legal workers can’t find work, and businesses can’t pay them, then workers go elsewhere and businesses fold.

      But you know what’s not working? Free-for-all businesses, lax corporate tax policies, and ineffective hair-brained (and inhumane) “deterrence” policies toward undocumented workers at the borders.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > But you know what’s not working? Free-for-all businesses, lax corporate tax policies, and ineffective hair-brained (and inhumane) “deterrence” policies toward undocumented workers at the borders.

        It’s working fine for some people, eh?

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > he has to infer an entire assumed Open Borders agenda

      The problem here is that when I look at all the liberal Democrat and “woke” talking points, I can’t see any logical reason to stop short of that as a demand, and I already see (anarchist?) DSA-branded signage making that demand.

      So what am I to think? Granted, from the liberal Democrat establishment standpoint, this is all about picking up Latinx voters with very short memories in the midterms, and nothing serious will come of it, but splitting the DSA and wrecking the socialist brand is a definite win*. So it’s all good.

      NOTE * And, of course, taking the focus from #MedicareForAll. It’s almost as if the moral panic didn’t exist, liberals would have to invent it.

  46. Odysseus

    At the same time, she favors a suite of other policies, such as Medicare for all, a universal guarantee of jobs paying a living wage, and tuition-free higher education, that would have the cumulative effect of sharply increasing redistribution* from the native-born nonpoor to low-income immigrant-headed households.

    … and the problem with this is … ?

    Damn, nationalism is evil.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      So the whole migrant justice thing amounts to a redistribution among the 90% and not the 9.9% and the 1%? Color me not shocked.

      And I will await with interest the results of any electoral campaign based on that platform. Because we tried a similar redistribution in the 80s when we deindustrialized the heartland, and the results are as you see.

      I love me some liberal shame tactics, though. They’re always done in good faith, and always lead to thoughtful discussions on policy.

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