2:00PM Water Cooler 6/5/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


Trade news is unusually rich and varied today.

“Lobbyists on K Street have earned business over the past several months from major U.S. companies looking for relief from President Donald Trump’s waves of tariffs, but so far they have little to show for all that cash…. [S]ome of the biggest companies in the country are relying on large firms, trade associations and coalitions to try to help them change Trump’s mind on steel and aluminum tariffs as well as duties and other investment restrictions on China. Lobbying shops are also helping clients petition the Commerce Department for special exemptions from penalties on steel and aluminum products” [Politico]. “Rather than drain the swamp, as Trump promised on the campaign trail, the uncertainty surrounding his administration has provided new avenues for Beltway lobby shops to fill their coffers. But lobbyists are nonetheless struggling to sway White House decisions, or even predict them, and they again risked looking feckless when Trump announced late last week that he was expanding tariffs to hit even the U.S.’ closest allies.”

“Here we go again: it appears that the United States is once again at risk of sparking a trade war on multiple fronts. The US’s biggest trading partners, including Canada, Mexico, China, and the EU are all pushing back hard on the Trump administration’s protectionist policies by imposing tariffs of their own” [Freight Waves]. “Mexico unveiled tariffs on American steel as well as a range of agricultural products, from pork legs and cranberries to bourbon and Tennessee sippin’ whiskey. The European Union is levying tariffs on American yachts, cigarettes, and jeans. Canada published tables of American goods that it would subject to tariffs: steel products like rebar and pipeline tubes will be hit with a 25% duty while other commodities, ranging from ketchup, insecticide, plywood, postcards, and aluminum foil will get 10% tariffs.” Then again–

“China Offers to Buy Nearly $70 Billion of U.S. Products to Fend Off Trade Tariffs” [Wall Steet Journal]. “China offered to purchase nearly $70 billion of U.S. farm and energy products if the Trump administration abandons threatened tariffs, according to people briefed on the latest negotiations with American trade officials.”

“The China-backed plants like the one in Serbia along with sites in Indonesia, India, Brazil and other countries, add complications to the pitched debates over the Trump administration’s plans to impose tariffs on overseas producers, including steel exports from U.S. allies. By owning production at foreign plants in Europe, India, Brazil and even North America, Chinese steelmakers aim to gain largely unfettered access to global markets, including American buyers, without the constraints of big tariffs or even the usual market considerations of supply and demand” [Wall Street Journal].

“The U.S. Congress probably won’t have time to approve a new North American Free Trade Agreement this year, as Cabinet members from the three trading partners continue to negotiate changes to the pact, according to Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn” [Industry Week]. “Asked if the deadline for congressional approval of a new deal had run out, Cornyn said, ‘yeah, I think so.’ ‘It looks like they are kicking it over to 2019,’ he told reporters in Washington on Monday. “‘I wish it had been handled earlier.'”

“Koch brothers finance campaign to oppose Trump’s tariffs” [MarketWatch]. “Three organizations financed by conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch are launching a multimillion-dollar campaign against President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imports. The groups said Monday that the multiyear initiative will include advertising, education of activists, lobbying, policy analysis and ‘grass roots mobilization.’ The groups — Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity and The Libre Initiative — released a list of trade recommendations that focus on encouraging competitive markets and eliminating tariffs. The effort is an indication of the deep consternation among business groups — normally strong Republican allies — about the effect of the tariffs, which have angered foreign countries, rivals and allies alike. It also serves as a message to Republican lawmakers to hold their ground against tariffs.”

“ISM’s ‘special questions’ give manufacturing and non-manufacturing execs things to ponder” [Logistics Management]. “[O]ne question [docused] on tariffs and if they will raise the price of goods ISM member respondents, for manufacturing and non-manufacturing, produce and deliver to customers. On the manufacturing side, 73.9% of respondents said that they do believe tariffs will raise prices, with 26.1% saying they will not. Other tariff-related questions for manufacturing included: if you believe that tariffs will raise the price of your goods to your customers, by how much? The average increase was 5.4% with a median of 3.0%. And another one asked if tariffs will cause delays and disruptions in your supply chain? Nearly 60%-at 57.5%-said yes and 42.5% said no.”



“Patrick plans 2020 decision by end of the year” [Politico]. “Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is inching closer toward deciding on a 2020 presidential run. The former two-term Democrat plans to hit the campaign trail in a handful of races around the country this fall, which would ‘help him sort it out by the end of the year,’ said John Walsh, a close adviser who managed Patrick’s 2006 insurgent gubernatorial campaign and later headed up his leadership PAC.” Right now Patrick is parked at Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital. So the country would be in good hands with Patrick, obviously.

If you like your coffee burnt:

True, Zuckerberg does seem to be out of the running, so naturally some other squillionaire needs to step up, and no doubt Axelrod will be more than happy to service him.


“What Voter Surge?” [Governing]. “Those who are predicting, expecting — or simply hoping for — a surge of voter turnout, especially among younger citizens, in this year’s elections need to reflect on these sobering percentage figures: Oregon (34), Idaho (32), Illinois (25), West Virginia (24), Nebraska (24), Kentucky (23), Arkansas (22), Ohio (19), Georgia (19), Indiana (18), Texas (17), Pennsylvania (17) and North Carolina (14). These are the voter turnout rates for the 13 states that held party-nomination primary elections through May 22.” The proferred solution — or, to my mind, palliative — is vote-by-mail.

“8 States Have Primary Elections on Tuesday. Here’s What to Watch For.” [New York Times]. “Eight states are holding primaries on Tuesday: Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota. It will be the busiest primary day of the year so far, as voters choose the candidates who will face off on Nov. 6.” A district by district run-down.

CA: “Final California Primary Preview: High Stakes for House Democrats” [Cook Political Report]. “Democrats’ route to the House majority runs through California more than any other state. Nationally, they need to win 23 GOP seats to win the chamber, and in California alone, there are seven Republican incumbents sitting in seats Hillary Clinton carried in 2016. Four of those seven seats include at least a piece of Orange County, which in 2016 voted for a Democrat for president for the first time since 1936….” Another good district by district run-down.

CA: “Blue wave? California tops list as midterm matchups form” [Associated Press]. “California tops a list of eight states holding primary contests on Tuesday. Democrats and Republicans from Montana to Alabama and Mississippi to New Jersey will pick their nominees up and down the ballot to face off this November for the inaugural midterm elections of Donald Trump’s presidency. ‘The California suburbs are the center of gravity for voters rejecting Republicans in the era of Trump,’ said Democratic strategist Jesse Ferguson. ‘When you combine the Democratic energy with the suburban independent voters who want nothing to do with a Trump Republican, you create a toxic combination for a Republican member of Congress trying to get re-elected.'” That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

CA: “Today is crucial for Democrats in California’s House races” [Los Angeles Times]. “The most pressing concern for Democrats is whether their wide, boisterous field of candidates means the party will be locked out of multiple races thanks to the state’s top-two primary, which advances the two candidates with the most votes regardless of party…. Democrats have targeted 10 GOP-held seats here, including seven won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. California has as many potential pickup districts than the seven other states with primaries on Tuesday combined…. As of Monday evening, early mail ballots cast by voters were running behind levels at the same point in 2014 in nearly all of the targeted races, according to numbers provided by Political Data Inc., an election data firm. One exception was Issa’s district, where a tight-knit group of activists hosted weekly protests outside the congressman’s office and have spent months registering and talking to voters.” Why on earth would these best practices be an “exception“…

Handy map of how districts have flipped in the past:

New Cold War

“United States of America vs. Ron Rockwell Hansen” (PDF) [United States District Court, District of Utah]. I’ve always wanted a definition of “the intelligence community.” Here is the government’s. Interestingly, the FBI is part, which might seem obvious, but it’s good that it’s said:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Democratic Party is flying blind on economics” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. Well worth a read. “I interviewed multiple Democratic congressional candidates. I reached out to dozens, attempting to get a decently wide range of perspectives and regions. Ultimately, eight candidates agreed to be interviewed, and while the sampling method is clearly less than scientific, it provides an interesting sort of ersatz focus group containing a decent mix of left-wingers and centrists. Not being quite sure what I was going to find, I asked fairly basic questions about economic, social, and foreign policy, focusing on broad disputes between the economic populist-dovish wing of the party and the neoliberal-war hawk wing. My major conclusion is this: The Democratic Party has developed a strong consensus on social justice issues like gay marriage, transgender rights, and police brutality. On foreign policy, it seems somewhere in the middle — not exactly favoring imperialist wars of aggression, but not terribly interested in a new paradigm either. But the party as such makes virtually no attempt to put forward a consistent party line on economic issues. On political economy, what up-and-coming Democrats believe and say depends largely on forces outside the party, and the candidates who are the clearest thinkers are the ones who have done their own reading and research.” Additional commentary from Cooper here.

Or as a meme:

“How Bill Clinton cleared a path for Donald Trump” [Dana Milbank, WaPo]. “To see the former president — now promoting a mystery he co-wrote with novelist James Patterson — sit down with NBC’s Craig Melvin was to see how Clinton’s handling of the Monica Lewinsky affair was a precursor of the monstrosity we now have in the White House: dismissing unpleasant facts as ‘fake news,’ self-righteously claiming victimhood, attacking the press and cloaking personal misbehavior in claims to be upholding the Constitution…. My perspective changed because of the #MeToo movement but also because of what followed Clinton’s affair: He had only lied about sex, but the George W. Bush administration started a war under false pretense, and now Trump governs with utter disregard for truth.” Wait, what? George Bush is a hero of the Resistance. How could he possibly have “started a war under false pretense[s]”?

“Bernie Sanders—So 2016? His Support Does Little for Candidates in 2018” [Wall Street Journal]. Honestly, expecting Sanders to have coat-tails when he’s not even running for office is setting expectations pretty high. That said, most of the responses I’ve seen focus on the crowds Sanders drew, which is not the point: The point is what comes after Sanders the person, and nobody quite seems to have an answer to that.

“Conservative icon David Koch leaving business, politics” [Associated Press]. Koch, surveying smoking ruins: “My work here is done.”

Stats Watch

Institute For Supply Management Non-Manufacturing Index, May 2018: “Higher costs tied to tariffs and the shifting outlook for trade are central concerns of ISM’s non-manufacturing sample which once again shows month-to-month growth across all 18 sectors tracked” [Econoday]. “Rising backlogs are a consistent theme of all the small sample surveys including today’s ISM as are rising input costs, both showing strong acceleration at already unusually high levels. Inventories are also rising and business activity is up. With tariffs in effect and trade questions in the background, May was a very strong month for the U.S. economy based on the host of small-sample surveys.” And: “New orders, which are commonly referred to as the engine that drives manufacturing, saw a 2.5% increase to 63.7, with new orders now having shown growth for the 29th consecutive month. This increase stopped two months of sequential declines… Fifteen of 18 manufacturing sectors reported new orders growth in May” [Logistics Management].

Purchasing Managers’ Services Index, May 2018: “Rising backlogs and a complementary increase in hiring, both running near 3-year highs, gave a surprising lift to the services PMI” [Econoday]. “All indications from the small sample reports like this one are pointing to May as a month of unusual strength.” And: “Both services surveys are in expansion – and their intensity of growth and general trends match this month” [Econintersect].

JOLTS, April 2018: “For the first time in nearly 20 years of existing records, the number of job openings, at 6.698 million in April, is exceeding the number of unemployed actively looking for work” [Econoday]. “Today’s report is a standout milestone of full employment that will capture the attention of monetary hawks whose focus is the risk of wage inflation.” And: “Job openings are at the highest level since this series started, and quits are increasing year-over-year. This was a strong report” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “The headline seasonally adjusted view shows insignificant improvement in job openings. The unadjusted data analysis shows rate of growth decline. However, JOLTS non-adjusted job openings remain about average for what was seen in the last 3 years” [Econintersect].

Vehicles: “The BEA released their estimate of May vehicle sales this morning. The BEA estimated sales of 16.81 million SAAR in May 2018 (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Rate), down 1.8% from the April sales rate, and up slightly from May 2017” [Calculated Risk]. “This would make 2018 the sixth best year on record after 2016, 2015, 2000, 2017 and 2001.”

Energy: “Gazprom to lend $2.5B for TurkStream construction” [Kallanish Energy]. “Russian state gas company Gazprom said Monday it will loan €2.14 billion ($2.5 billion) to its subsidiary South Stream Transport B.V. for construction of the TurkStream gas pipeline… South Stream is responsible for building the offshore section of the pipeline which will connect Russian gas fields to Turkey, for deliveries also in Europe. The subsidiary began work on May 7, 2017. The TurkStream gas pipeline will transport 31.5 billion cubic meters (Bcm) of gas across the Black Sea, and then further on land to Turkey’s border with neighboring countries. The first string of the line will meet the Turkish demand, the second string will deliver gas to customers in southern and southeastern Europe.”

Retail: “The book publishing industry has a real mystery on its hands. Book sales are ticking upward, and promising new titles give publishers reason for optimism in the beleaguered trade. But a critical mass-market distribution outlet, Barnes & Noble Inc., faces bleak prospects…, casting a cloud over publishers trying to reach customers with books that may not gain traction on Amazon.com Inc. and other online marketplaces” [Wall Street Journal]. “The riddle for publishers is that bookstores don’t lend themselves easily to the nimble new omnichannel strategy that other retailers are touting.”

Shipping: “‘Paralysis by analysis does not exist in Greek shipping'” [Splash 247]. “A survey carried on the back page of this magazine shows readers overwhelmingly believe the Greeks are the best at reading shipping cycles. Among the top 10 shipowning nations, Greece garnered 64% of the votes. ‘It’s obvious — they actually are shipping professionals and not finance professionals — they know how to weather the storm better than most,’ one reader responded. So what is it that sets the Greeks apart – and has let them continue to have the largest commercial fleet in the world for so long? David Glass, the Athens-based editor of Newsfront Shipping Publications, says the ability to read cycles comes down to the fact that the Greeks tend to be family businesses that are generations old. ‘They don’t see shipping as a way to make a quick buck,’ Glass says. ‘They don’t look at the bottom line all the time, the majority are not listed, they just have to keep their mothers-in-law and uncles happy. A lot of decisions are taken around the family lunch table on a Sunday.'”

Shipping: “What is a ship registry or ship register..??” [Shipping & Freight Resource]. “In very simple terms, a ship register or ship registry gives a ship a nationality, a flag, an identity…. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) needed a method to enhance maritime safety, achieve pollution prevention and facilitate the prevention of maritime fraud.. Therefore in 1987, they adopted resolution A.600(15) which became mandatory on 1st January 1996. Under this resolution, each ship was assigned a permanent number (like a passport or ID document for people) for identification purposes. Irrespective of which flag the ship flies or trades under, this IMO number would remain unchanged and would be reflected on all the documents, certificates relating to the ship and will never be reassigned to another ship.”

* * *

Holy moly. Tesla insiders who know how the shop floor actually works are finally talking:

The Bezzle: “Internal documents reveal Tesla is blowing through an insane amount of raw material and cash to make Model 3s, and production is still a nightmare” [Business Insider]. “Internal documents reviewed by Business Insider show that the company expects that as much as 40% of the raw materials used to produce batteries and driving units manufactured at Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada need to be scrapped or reworked by employees before they are sent to Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, and assembled into Model 3s. The documents were dated in the first quarter…. Business Insider also reviewed dozens of pictures of scrap piled high inside the Gigafactory. Some of it is flammable material used to create lithium batteries. Our source said some of these batteries presented a hazard as they’re connected. Tesla said that was patently false, that all nonconforming materials are kept in a temperature-controlled room, and that they pose no safety threat.” And then there’s this:

Some machines in the Gigafactory have been turned off simply because they added more time to the manufacturing process than Musk liked when he observed them working on the Gigafactory floor.

An example: In May, Gigafactory employees turned off the “criticality” of the “genealogy” on a specific component in the Tesla battery pack, according to an internal email viewed by Business Insider.

In layman’s terms, that means they bypassed putting a tracking system on that specific part (the bandolier) in that stage of the manufacturing process to speed things up.

It’s common practice for automakers to create a genealogy for every part in a car. That way, if something goes wrong, the part’s source manufacturer, production time, serial number, lot number, expiration date, and more can all be traced. It follows the part through its entire life in the manufacturing process before it gets to your car. This is especially important during recalls because it ensures that companies can locate potentially defective parts.

Now that’s no longer the case for at least one part in the Gigafactory-made batteries. Tesla said they were being tracked by lot number because laser-etching the parts individually was causing them to be scrapped. The company did not provide Business Insider the number of parts in a lot or explain why that was the case. It said that while it would not get into internal procedures, any modifications it made to the genealogy were to make the process better.

“Make the process better” [lambert nods head vigorously]. But wait! There’s more!

“Tesla’s ‘Hell’: Fires, Accidents, Delays” [Daily Beast]. “The size of the Fremont workforce combined with the frantic pace of work and production has led to weaknesses in the plant’s maintenance operation, two sources said. They described shutdowns and snafus that regularly cost valuable production time caused by lack of maintenance. Most dramatically, it has resulted in fires. Two former employees who worked in the paint shop told The Daily Beast that at least three fires have broken out at Fremont’s paint operations since 2016. Lack of maintenance led to paint building up on paint-spraying machines and grounding straps, the sources said, and in at least one instance sparks ignited the paint and practically turned the paint sprayer into a flamethrower.” A paint shop fire is just really, really bad. And then there’s this:

One former employee who regularly worked in the paint shop also said that lack of maintenance caused paint buildup on a conveyor, resulting in a Model S body falling into a dip tank. The accident caused an 8-hour shutdown of the paint line and required the draining of 80,000 gallons of coating in order to recover, the source said.

And some kind soul provided a picture of the Model S body upside down in the dip tank. I’d love to hear the conversations round the kitchen table when Fremont workers come home. “Hi, honey, how was your day?”

* * *

The Bezzle: About cash:

Mr. Market: “Transports, on a tear, could be flashing the all-clear sign for stocks” [CNBC]. “Transports’ bullish behavior is bullish for the market, said Chris Verrone, head of technical analysis at Strategas Research Partners. ‘In what has been an otherwise challenging market, the transports are still leaders here,’ Verrone said Thursday on CNBC’s ‘Trading Nation.’ He cited the group’s ability to hold its 200-day moving average this year even when the broader market has faltered. Indeed, the Dow transport index hasn’t breached its 200-day moving average to the downside since August.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “A new economic indicator is saying there’s no sign of a U.S. recession” [MarketWatch]. “We found Implied Relative Risk Aversion outperforms existing economic indicators once it is used in conjunction with them. A decrease in IRRA predicts an increase in economic growth because investors boost investments when they become less risk averse. Conversely, an increase in risk aversion points to a slowdown in growth because investors lower investments when they become more risk averse…. Implied Relative Risk Aversion is currently quite low, at 3.6 for May, after readings of 3.7 in April and March, implying that traders in the S&P 500 options market anticipate an increase in U.S. economic growth…. In contrast to other economic predictors, IRRA manages to forecast the future state of the U.S. economy more accurately because it is constructed by index option market prices. Option markets tend to attract more sophisticated investors than other markets on which the standard economic indicators rely because they offer leverage and they often enjoy smaller transaction costs. As a result, index option prices reflect the expectations of informed investors first before other markets’ prices do, and hence they are more informative about the future state of the economy.” Readers?

Fodder for the Bulls: “America Inc. Has a Record $2.5 Trillion Gift for Stock Investors” [Bloomberg]. “Between buybacks, dividends, and merger activities, companies are poised to plow $2.5 trillion into the stock market this year, according to UBS Group AG. The buying spree is equivalent to 10 percent of the S&P 500’s market capitalization, easily outstripping prior records. The projection helps revive the bull case for stocks, which have flat-lined so far in 2018 amid trade tensions and higher bond yields. And it’s no wonder U.S. equity leadership has remained so narrow*: the corporate flow comes largely from momentum shares such as technology companies, which have enjoyed the largest gains over the past year.” NOTE * As Haygood as been relentlessly pointing out.

Honey for the Bears: “If the economy is so great, why are 78 million hustling for dimes?” [MarketWatch]. “For millions of Americans, the security and income of a steady 9-to-5 job is as far out of reach as it was during the worst of the Great Recession. Some, of course, have simply given up on finding any job, discouraged about their employment prospects after so many years out of work. Many others have resorted to scrambling for a buck here and a buck there, cobbling together a patchwork of irregular hours and side hustles.” Yeah, so what’s wrong with working on your personal branding? Handy chart:

Five Horsemen: “Apple, Microsoft and Amazon are motoring to fresh records in late morning trade, as juggernaut Amazon once again blows the top off yesterday’s chart” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 5 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Six of seven components in the mania-panic index improved on yesterday’s market rise, raising the index to 63 (complacency)” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index June 4 2018

Health Care

“Court orders Maine governor to expand Medicaid” [Politico]. “Gov. Paul LePage’s administration must file paperwork by next week to the federal government to adopt Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Maine, a state Superior Court judge said Monday in a decision rebuking the defiant Republican governor. Obamacare supporters in April sued the LePage administration to force it to comply with the results of a November ballot initiative ordering the state to expand coverage to tens of thousands of low-income adults under the 2010 health care law. But LePage has insisted he won’t adopt Medicaid expansion unless state lawmakers meet his conditions for funding the program.”

Class Warfare

An interesting thread by Stoller that could be filed under Trade, but also under geopolitics, but I’m filing it under Class Warfare, for obvious reasons. CCP is “Chinese Communist Party”:

The whole thread is well worth a read, agree or no (though I’m surprised at Stoller’s use of the sloppy
“middle class.” Most professionals have done very well for themselves from these policies — see Listen Liberal!.

“Where Evictions Are Most Common” [Governing]. “Nationally, Eviction Lab estimates suggest 2.3 percent of renters experienced a court-ordered eviction in 2016. But that’s a significant undercount. More than twice as many evictions were filed that never led to a judgment. Other instances when tenants left after receiving notice or were paid to do so also aren’t captured in court records. Desmond’s research has found such informal evictions accounted for nearly half the total in Milwaukee.” WIth handy map:

“Gold Diggers and White Niggers” [The Bollard]. “What does it mean when a white man calls another white man a ‘nigger’? If the man yelling the slur is Jeffrey Carmine D’Amico, director of sales for Maine Media Collective, it means the other guy files a police report claiming you’ve violated the protection-from-abuse order imposed after you assaulted, terrorized and threatened his daughter. Or, as happened on another occasion, it means your landlord promptly evicts you from the room you’re renting on Munjoy Hill. We’ll return to these allegations, which D’Amico denies, later. More broadly, the use of that slur against another white man is an attempt to declare oneself socially superior and to wield the power that accompanies membership in the master class. The same can be said, in less vulgar terms, for Maine Media Collective’s magazines (Maine, Maine Home + Design, Old Port) and the events it produces, like the Kennebunkport Festival. The publications and parties exist to provide opportunities for the wealthy to make business and personal connections with each other, and to declare, by one’s presence, that you belong among the economic elite, the ‘upper crust of Maine society,’ as Portland Press Herald columnist Bill Nemitz recently described them.” Well, some kinda crust, anyhow.

“Embattled Hoffa Offers Two-Tier, UPSers Push for a Better Deal” [Labor Notes] (from May 24, still germane). “In negotiations over the nation’s largest union contract, a three-way battle is raging. UPS is demanding new givebacks, top Teamsters are offering them up, and rank and filers are organizing a grassroots network to push for better—and getting ready to vote down a bad deal, if necessary.” Good! Two-tier is the worst; old codgers like me visibly pulling the ladder up after them.

“Union presence could benefit all workers at Boeing’s North Charleston campus, experts say” [Post and Courier]. “South Carolina’s right-to-work law guarantees employees don’t have to join a union to keep their jobs, but Thursday’s vote at Boeing Co.’s North Charleston campus will likely be felt throughout the workplace. Flight-line workers voted 104 to 65 in favor of having the International Association of Machinists represent them in collective bargaining. Employers typically raise wages and benefits for all workers — not just those covered by union contracts — whenever a labor union is successful in organizing part, but not all, of a business, a labor expert said.” The MBAs at Boeing must be ticked, because moving the plant to South Carolina was a union-busting move.

News of The Wired

“Bringing iPhone apps to the Mac won’t stop its slow march to the grave — the future is the smartphone” [Business Insider]. Not sure how I’m going to compose long-form pieces on the iPhone screen — or even the iPad — or how I’m going to edit a photograph. But who cares about content creators, anyhow? We have Disney for that!

“Ask HN: How did you transition from Mac to Linux?” [Hacker News].

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

KS wrote: “These are just some flower photos I took in the yard today.” It’s 48° and rainy. The heat was on last night. There’s nothing like this in my yard at all (though there might me, when I rip out the unwanted plants). Last year at this time, there were blooming, six-foot sunflowers in my yard. This year, though they did self-seed, they’re less than a foot tall (and of course no flowers). Snarl.

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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. Jim Haygood

    Congress probably won’t have time to approve a new North American Free Trade Agreement this year.

    But wait … senators just gained a fabulous extra month of productivity, thanks to Senator Mitch McConnell canceling the traditional August recess.


    It’s like one of those legendary contests in which first prize is a week in Washington DC during August … and second prize is two weeks. :-)

    1. Wukchumni

      Humordor tried to kill me one time in August. I mistakenly thought I could walk a few blocks to the Smithsonian and was shedding so much water that Nestle hit me up, asking if they could bottle it and sell it to rubes for a few bucks a bottle.

    2. Jim Haygood

      This would make 2018 the sixth best year on record [for auto sales] after 2016, 2015, 2000, 2017 and 2001.

      That’s all in our dusty rear view mirror now, as tariff-driven price hikes collide with Fed-induced rate hikes and rising gasoline prices to likely make 2019 a bloodbath for the oversupplied US auto market.

      On the brighter side, this will create some lucrative job opportunities in the booming repo market for candidates with drive, hustle and a concealed carry permit.

        1. Wukchumni

          A great film indeed!

          I’m very closely related to Jack Lemmon, for what it’s worth.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Fully agree. A really great scene that and is what prompted me to put that comment in about the steak knives. Funny thing about that scene was where Alec Baldwin was demonstrating to that sales guy that his watch was worth more than the car that the sales guy drove. I understand that big business executives don’t wear watches like that these days but use their mobiles instead for the time but don’t know how true that is.

            1. Carolinian

              Sadly Mamet has started batting for the other team in his later years.

              Since May 2005 he has been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post, drawing satirical cartoons with themes including political strife in Israel.[18] In a 2008 essay at The Village Voice titled Why I Am No Longer a ‘Brain-Dead Liberal'[19] he revealed that he had gradually rejected political correctness and progressivism and embraced conservatism. Mamet has spoken in interviews of changes in his views,[20] highlighting his agreement with free market theorists such as Friedrich Hayek[21] the historian Paul Johnson, and economist Thomas Sowell, whom Mamet called “one of our greatest minds”.


              Supposedly he is currently working on a film about Harvey Weinstein–perhaps an attack on “political correctness.”

              1. Wukchumni

                Loved the early work, House of Games being his 1st film, with such a serpentine plot leading you every which way, a mind teaser’s teaser.

                Kind of lost track of his work after the turn of the century (is it enough distance now to utter that?) and sounds as if he’s a different breed of cat now, to each their own device.

          1. Sid_finster

            Even in 1989 or whenever that film was set, a cheap Timex kept time better than any handcrafted Swiss timepiece.

          2. Geo

            Was doing a video shoot at some rich kid’s house (mid20’s living in Westchester and working at daddy’s finance firm) and overheard he and his buddies comparing whose watch was more expensive. On guy had a $46K watch.

            This was just a few years ago. They may not need the functionality but opulent status never goes out of style.

  2. Arizona Slim

    Did I just see MarketWatch saying negative things about the oh-so-cool Gig Economy? Yeesh, what’s this world coming to?

    Next thing you know, they’ll be promoting a jobs guarantee. With livable wages and fringe benefits.

    1. Summer

      What do you expect in the economy of 3rd World service and goods at 1st World Prices.

      (Your reply is very important, please hold)
      (elevator music)

    2. John Wright

      Uber is running a $2100 guarantee on SF radio.

      The guarantee is if you don’t make $2100 for the first 200 of your trips, they will make up the difference.

      Wow, $10.50/ride and the driver puts in time, gas and wear/tear on their car.

      If this campaign is at all successful in SF, it is a sign that the vaulted Bay Area employment picture is not good after all.

      From the website:

      “This offer is for driver-partners only who clicked on an ad advertising this guarantee and signed up with the corresponding landing page. The guarantee is for $2,100 in total earnings (not including fees, incentives, or tips) for your first 200 trips as a new driver-partner. To qualify for the guarantee, driver-partners must sign up in San Francisco and complete 200 trips with unique riders within 90 days of signing up. If the total earnings of your trips are under $2,100 for the first 200 trips, Uber will pay you the difference of your guarantee and total earnings. Cancelled trips do not count as completed trips. Uber Eats trips are not eligible for this promotion. We reserve the right to withhold or deduct payments that we determine or believe were in error, fraudulent, illegal, or in violation of driver terms or these terms. Guarantee available for a limited time only. Terms subject to change. “

  3. dcblogger

    Dana Milbank blaming Clinton for the lies he and his newspaper told about Iraq WMD is outside of enough. Bob Somerby built an entire blog around lies told by the celebrity press corps

        1. pretzelattack

          possibly, i never knew who the principal was, but understand they quit to work in politics in some capacity. most of the left wing blogs then were taking an anti clinton impeachment line, which of course was a farce on the republican side, but were too favorable to clinton–i mean mwo, somersby, bartcop, buzzflash. probably not counterpunch.

  4. Wukchumni

    “Patrick plans 2020 decision by end of the year” [Politico]. “Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is inching closer toward deciding on a 2020 presidential run. The former two-term Democrat plans to hit the campaign trail in a handful of races around the country this fall, which would ‘help him sort it out by the end of the year,’ said John Walsh, a close adviser who managed Patrick’s 2006 insurgent gubernatorial campaign and later headed up his leadership PAC.” Right now Patrick is parked at Mitt Romney’s private equity firm, Bain Capital. So the country would be in good hands with Patrick, obviously.

    As usual the Deval is in the details, but i’m guessing a private equity takeover of the United States, which then declares bankruptcy a few years later, and 27 people get fabulously rich, while 307,999,983 suffer the consequences.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yes indeed, roxy! He was a Governor for the affluent* inhabitants of the Rt. 128 belt, and nothing more.

          I’ll be looking forward to the Town Halls in New Hampshire where people can ask him why his Administration lost track of hundreds of children in state care, several of whom died.

          The lack of self-awareness in this one is strong….

          *And only the affluent, as the Olympics scheme made clear. Yes, we’re going to shut Dorchester and Roxbury and Mattapan out from having any contact with the sea — but just think of the start-ups!

          I remember in ’08, back when I was in the midst of Obama-Beatlemania, a friend of a friend saying — I like the guy (Obama), but my concern is he’ll be like Patrick — do-nothing, ineffective, governor for the rich. He was more right than I was, that’s for sure!

    1. Big River Bandido

      Won’t exactly be awaiting that announcement with baited breath. It hardly matters, Patrick isn’t going anywhere. Bain or no Bain, Massachusetts state government is a political step to nowhere.

    1. Arizona Slim

      The final three grafs are a killer:

      As Tesla tries to move into the mass market by delivering the estimated 450,000 Model 3s it has on order, and beyond, it’s almost certain the company’s sales staff will play an integral role in the effort to grow the automaker from a boutique outfit into a mainstream behemoth, all the while staving off financial uncertainty. Once the Model 3 backlog’s cleared, the launch of Tesla’s Model Y crossover—another revolution in waiting, according to Musk—is around the corner.

      For anyone who might be interested in pursuing that opportunity, they wouldn’t find an endorsement from one the former owner advisors who spoke to Jalopnik:

      “Anybody who asks,” they said, “tell them don’t work for Tesla.”

      1. Jim Haygood

        Especially not in Accounts Payable:

        Information from [Tesla’s] own charts suggests that refunds outstripped new reservations for the first four months of the year, reportedly returning customers’ $1,000 deposits at twice the rate it receives them.


        … also known as a “run on the bank.” Oops, there went the rest of the negative working capital!

  5. grayslady

    Regarding sunflower volunteers from the previous year’s planting: Most sunflowers today are hybrids–they will not come true from volunteers or from saved seed. Also, like most annuals, perennials and vegetables, they prefer a slightly alkaline soil. Maine soil is primarily acidic, which means huge, healthy rhododendrons–like the one in KS’s photo–that appreciate acidic soil, or else you amend the acidic soil with plenty of gypsum to provide a more neutral to alkaline soil for growing flowers and vegetables.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Lime or dolomite would be more effective than gypsum, which is neutral. It’s used precisely to add calcium without changing the pH.

      Rhododendrons and related plants are allergic to lime in the soil, so be careful. That includes blueberries.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Seed Savers Exchange has a seed catalog from which members of the general public ( I believe) as well as members of the organization can buy seeds. In their catalog they have several kinds of sunflower seeds for sale. While I don’t know for a fact which of their offerings are true varieties and which are hybrids, since their stated mission as an organization is to foster the saving of true variety seed by individual gardeners as well as by the Seed Savers Exchange itself, at least SOME of these types just HAVE to be true varieties.

      Here is the link to SSE’s catalog listing of sunflowers.

  6. Jim Haygood

    ‘Transports’ bullish behavior is bullish for the market, said the head of technical analysis at Strategas Research Partners.’

    In fact, the Dow Transports have not set a new high since Jan 26th, nor have the Dow Industrials. For “bullish behavior,” check out the Russell 2000 index of smaller companies, which benefit from rising prices and more pricing power. It’s been setting records highs since mid-May. Chart:


    If one were to update the century-old Dow Theory, one might look for confirming highs in both the broad S&P 500 index and the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100, in which our Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse comprise almost 44% of the market cap.

    But such confirmation is not forthcoming yet. With the Nasdaq 100 index hitting a record high yesterday, and on track for another record today, the S&P 500 index remains more than four percent below its last record set on Jan 26th.

    The market’s narrowing leadership (with five giant stocks doing the heavy lifting) suggests that this may be the final crack-up boom before flake-o-nomics returns us to life by torchlight, roasting wild game on willow shish kabobs as the womenfolk admire our leopard-spotted loincloths.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Bayer may well try to “disappear” the evil name of Monsanto, while rebranding every Monsanto product as “Bayer” and still selling them regardless.

          Perhaps a movement-load of people will have to figure out how to “Dox” and expose every Monsanto product re- misbranded as “Bayer”.

    1. Darius

      Except the wild game is all gone, or not accessible to most of us. Catching rats is going to have to do.

    2. Tim

      Looking at RSI and MACD on the weekly and monthly charts it’s easy to visualize a scenario of a retest of the January highs, possibly marginal new highs over the summer with divergent MACD and RSI, providing technical confirmation the bull is over.

      I think September and October will live up to their grim seasonality from years past this year.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Anticipation of a Democratic House majority could bring about your scenario of marginal new highs on the S&P 500 this summer.

        After 160 years of uninterrupted rule by an illegitimate duopoly, even the meager change of substituting the Tweedledum party for the Tweedledee party provokes wild excitement and anticipation among the populace, who may yet bid up shares on the unlikely prospect of receiving ‘material benefits’ from the new political dispensation.

        Good times … for the Tech Lords of Silicon Valley and Seattle.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Difficult to reconcile “Conservative icon David Koch leaving business, politics” [Associated Press] with that, or with this extract from the AP article: “Their network has promised to spend $400 million to shape the 2018 midterm elections.”

      Must have been a fairly sudden decision, but one which I am not unhappy he has made given the current political and economic context. Although I disagree with many of the policies he has supported, I wish him well regarding his personal health.

  7. PeterVE

    On February 17th, I posted this on TimeSuck:
    “All you Starbucks lovers out there: Great news! Howard Schultz is thinking about running for President in 2020 as a “reasonable moderate”. We have one “businessman” learning how to be President, I’m sure we can withstand another who decides to learn on the job. ”
    I had just spent 10 minutes on the phone with a pollster, and by halfway thru I knew another clueless rich guy wanted to be President. I offered to give him some really useful advice for only $100,000, but the pollster obviously didn’t forward my offer.

  8. 3.14e-9

    Zephyr Teachout formally declared her campaign for NY state attorney general at noon EDT in front of Trump Tower. Here’s the text of her speech:


    Because I contributed to her congressional campaign, I’ve been receiving her fundraising emails. I’ve replied to every one of them saying that I will not donate to her campaign or vote for her as long as her priority is going after Trump. Albany has serious problems that must be addressed. I’ve also pointed out that Upstate New York is geographically red and that the attorney general’s job is to fight for ALL of the people of the state. Of course, there has been no response.

    Her Twitter feed is mostly full of fawning “Go Zephyr” tweets. But there are a few who feel more or less as I do.

    1. Pat

      Of everyone running and/or considered to be running who do you think will address the serious Albany problems? I’m hoping I’ve missed something, but I don’t see anyone truly addressing anything remotely close to the issues in Albany. Preet has already proved that he will only go after the approved targets. So whom would you suggest?

      Even if I end up thinking Teachout is the best option currently offered, that does not mean I think you should donate if you find her goals inadequate. Nope totally agree with that position regardless of the office or candidate running.

      1. 3.14e-9

        Of everyone running and/or considered to be running who do you think will address the serious Albany problems?

        I guess that depends on which of Albany’s problems we’re talking about. So many NYS politicians have been caught with their hands in the cookie jar that it almost doesn’t matter whom you go after first, or if you go after any of them at all. There are lots of small steps an AG could take that wouldn’t make splashy headlines but that could reduce the kinds of corruption that make life even harder for people struggling to survive.

        An example that comes immediately to mind is nursing home Medicaid fraud and resident abuse. A friend recently told me about her mother being battered in a substandard nursing home. In doing some research for her, I found that dozens of facilities are worse. The state inspection system is a joke. Penalties are rare and usually amount to a little slap on the wrist. The AG’s office has a Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, which also investigates neglect and abuse in nursing homes. Depending on what they find, the AG can (and does) file criminal charges. That’s just one small example — “small,” unless it’s your mother who’s covered in fist-size bruises.

        Anyway, I haven’t done enough research on all the candidates, including the Republican no one’s ever heard of, to know which I would be most likely to vote for.

  9. Jim Haygood

    Ugly Americans … they’re back:

    BERLIN (AFP) – Leading German politicians on Tuesday called for the US ambassador to be expelled, after the staunch ally of Donald Trump was accused of meddling in domestic politics.

    Richard Grenell had taken up his diplomatic posting in Berlin on May 8, and immediately irked Germany when he tweeted on the same day that German companies should stop doing business with Iran.

    He stoked further outrage over the weekend with reported comments to far-right website Breitbart of his ambition to “empower other conservatives throughout Europe, other leaders.”

    Grenell also raised eyebrows with his plan to host Austria’s arch-conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz — who the US envoy describes as a “rock star” — for lunch on June 13.

    “I hope that Kurz’s visit will lead Mr Grenell’s tenure as ambassador in Germany to be short,” said Martin Schulz, former chief of the Social Democratic Party, playing on the German word for short, kurz.

    Schulz had earlier tweeted that the US envoy did not behave like a diplomat but like “a far-right colonial officer.


    Britain had 34,000 soldiers in colonial India in 1857. Today the United States has approximately the same number in occupied Germany.

    Fetch me a pink gin, Hans …

  10. Wukchumni

    A few years ago I was down in L.A. taking a walk in Topanga state park, and ahead of me on the trail was 3 black gents whose conversation was peppered with n-this and n-that as they talked among themselves, the unmentionable in question being uttered about every 8th word. They certainly weren’t being niggardly in it’s usage.

    Is there any other word so forbidden to be said by most of the American population, while it ain’t no big deal within the black community?

    1. Lee

      I don’t know about that but I’d like to understand what’s up with pronouncing “ask” as “ax”. Now we have Yamiche Alcindor, PBS white house correspondent, regularly mispronouncing the word on the PBS Newshour. I guess no one there dares to correct her for fear of being deemed politically incorrect.

      Come to think of it, I’ve heard the term “motherphkr” used in banter among friends of various races, including honkies like me.

      1. Matt

        “Now we have Yamiche Alcindor, PBS white house correspondent, regularly mispronouncing the word on the PBS Newshour.”

        On what basis do you deem it a mispronunciation? When Americans say “bayzil” when pronouncing “basil,” is that a mispronunciation?

        1. grayslady

          “Ask” is one word and “ax” is an entirely different word with a different meaning. Yes, it is mispronunciation, assuming Alcindor means “ask”. As for the word “basil”, the appropriate pronunciation actually should be “bayzil” since a vowel-consonant-vowel typically commands the long vowel sound for the first vowel. Basil is one of those words where common usage–probably due to pronunciation of the British first name, Basil–has led to an exception. Language is not always a class marker, but it is an education and social marker, like it or not.

        2. Ook

          “Ax” isn’t a mispronunciation, it’s a class shibboleth, like “new-kuh-luhr” and ”ek-set-er-uh”.

      2. blennylips

        As with many problems these days, Obama got there first;)

        Language Log explicates a New Yorker article:

        Decoding Limbaugh [NewYorker]
        Obama seems to pronounce the word I’ve boldfaced as “ax.” Limbaugh, after saying “Did you catch that?” and playing the sound bite a second time, sneers, “Obama can turn on that black dialect when he wants to and turn it off.” Then he suggests that the incorrect pronunciation was purposely spelled that way on the teleprompter. (Very funny.) Then he speculates that the President was trying to “reach out” to “the Reverend Jackson.” (Ho ho, if I may be permitted a bit of “black dialect.”)
        Aksking again [LL]

  11. Katy

    UGH. Just came here to notify some people that Minnesota’s 2018 elections now officially classify as a dumpster fire.

    “Front runner” and NRA-beloved congressman Tim Walz failed to receive the Democrat endorsement. Instead, the endorsement went to Erin Murphy, the [actual] progressive candidate who is a former nurse and a #MedicareForAll supporter. Rebecca Otto, who cried up and down the halls about how she was the most progressive progressive, fell out of the endorsement running in the second ballot.

    We will now be subjected to a primary between Walz and Murphy.

    On the Attorney General front, Lori Swanson, the current MN attorney general, failed to receive the endorsement from the Democrats. Instead the endorsement went to Matthew Pelikan, who wants to put antitrust law on the front burner (yay!).

    Enter Keith Ellison. Attorney General candidate. What. the. family blog.

    Fortunately, I don’t watch TV. I would not want to see all the political ads this season.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      And just across the border in Wisco, we have ten “top-tier” D candidates running against Scott Walker. Leader in the polls has 18% (State Education Secretary Tony Evers, the only one who has run statewide but does not have a high profile) with no one else above 10% and with 40+% undecided. Virtually no TV advertising as yet so not sure how people are going to decide. Definitely possible that the winner will get less than 25% of vote. Primary day is in August.

  12. ACF

    Re the map of congressional districts by voting in the 2008-16 Presidentials, I think it’s interesting that

    20 districts went Obama Obama Trump (13 outside of NYS+Il, which aren’t purple at the Pres level) hard to tell from the map precisely where all were/how they correlated to the electoral college margin, but seems to correlate at least some to my eye. change-change-change voters

    8 went McCain Romney Clinton and 5 went Obama Romney Clinton (Only 4 of the 13 outside of CA+TX+ IL, states not going purple at the Pres level), no apparent correlation to the electoral college margin. Seem to be the kind of moderate/corporate R Clinton/Dem establishment wants, but why?

    23 went Obama Romney Trump. Lots of them in the midwest, essentially none on either coast. Who are they?

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      The map pulls Iowa and Minnesota apart but there is a cluster of purple – Obama, Obama, Trump – in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. And a good portion of the orange – Obama, Romney, Trump – is Wisconsin and Michigan. These two groups are basically the same voters – rural or small town residents of dying places that had a long good run during the 20th century as places with high quality of life, and they are watching that quality of life go down the toilet. These places mostly lean Republican but are open to candidates that can make a good argument. The more religious among them (esp western Michigan) were more comfortable with Romney – that’s the only real difference between purple and orange.

    2. Big River Bandido

      Two of the purple districts (Obama-Obama-Trump) are IA-01 and IA-02, which I know quite a lot about having grown up there. With the exception of Iowa City, a university town, the largest cities in these districts were once heavy manufacturing and transportation centers — farm implements, auto, railroads, concrete, flour mills, cereal, animal feed, meatpacking, assembling tanks at the U.S. Arsenal in Rock Island, etc. Over the last 40 years the economies of these cities have been hollowed-out by neoliberal policy.

      These districts in particular are the ones that propel successful Democrats to statewide victory in Iowa — without racking up the margins in the eastern towns along the Cedar, Iowa, and Mississippi Rivers, no Democrat has a prayer of winning the statewide count. The purple color of those districts in this map explains the red color of Iowa on the electoral map of 2016.

      1. Sid_finster

        Where in Iowa did you grow up?

        Muscatine, here, speaking of towns that have been hollowed out.

  13. diptherio

    What’s with the weird past tense in the government’s definition of our IC? “The DOD was…”, “The FBI was…”, etc. Was? Did this document come from the future?

  14. Jim Haygood

    Seymour Hersh, in an interview with Columbia Journalism Review:

    I always thought my business as a reporter was to take a dispute and resolve it. I mentioned in the introduction about treating things as the tip [of the iceberg]. The first story the New York Times wrote on [Hillary Clinton’s] email — that was off-the-top, flimsy, one or two days after they had it. They had no idea what a good story it was.

    In the book I’m writing, I can segue into this stuff; I’m writing a lot about what was going on in the FBI. There was a lot going on that was counter-Trump, I will tell you that. I’m telling you, it’s the missed story of all time.


    As ol’ William Faulkner used to quip, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

    Today FBI Counterintelligence chief Bill Priestap — who was Peter Strzok’s boss — is testifying before a closed-door hearing of the Senate Judiciary committee.

    Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz is also expected to testify before congressional committees in connection with his reports on the FBI’s Hillary Clinton investigation and the counterintelligence wiretapping of the Trump campaign.

    In other words, it’s gonna be a long hot Watergate summer, with partisan tensions at the boil. Got leaks?

    1. Carolinian

      Great stuff! Thanks for the link. Example:

      Kissinger was beloved by reporters because he was accessible. Not much has changed; folks like Paul Ryan and John McCain still get glowing coverage just because they talk to reporters.

      Of course. That’s what it’s all about. Trump does, too. The secret to Trump, I think, is he wants to be loved by The New York Times as much as by Fox News. He talks to them a lot, more than they tell you. He waits outside—apparently there’s a corridor from the press room to the bathroom, and he’s hanging around that corridor. He likes to yap.

      Do you think the Times’s desire to keep Trump talking makes them pull their punches?

      No, I don’t think they’re pulling punches. I think they’re overpunching. I mean, what are they going to do if they don’t indict him? What are they going to do?

      They’re probably going to pretend the whole thing never happened, just like the Iraq WMD false stories.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Hopefully Trump can hang in there long enough for certain worms to start turning and certain rocks to start rolling.

  15. Isotope_C14

    “The Bezzle: About cash:”

    Try to go out to “real” bars in Chicago, and you will figure out real quick that the majority don’t take credit cards.

    When I say “real” bars, I mean outside of the loop, where real people go, and don’t spend $500 on a friday night.

    Great point on the tweet, perhaps it could be expanded to every single other belief the trendy journalists and thinkers have.

    Though, it is insightful that people in an echo chamber really know nothing.

  16. Sid Finster

    In which Janwaar Bibi blows up The American Conservative.


    “Dear TAC staff,
    Let me see if I can help you figure this out.

    ‘We debate endlessly how the government could have been so wrong about Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.’

    Your government lied to you.

    ‘But he [Bush] also hailed the great good works America would perform through his invasion. The humanitarian impulse was on full display in the war’s runup.’

    The Japanese Empire slaughtered millions of people all over Asia in the name of building the “Greater Asia Co-prosperity Sphere.” Hitler claimed that his attack on Poland in 1939 was a purely defensive measure to protect Germans against Polish attacks in Danzig.

    Every scoundrel, thug and mass murderer in history has always claimed to be motivated by humanitarian impulses. The scoundrels, thugs and war criminals who rule America are not an exception (see General Smedley Butler).

    ‘Americans see agonizing video of struggling children following chemical weapons attacks, and the nation’s anguished leadership rushes to a military response before there’s been any chance of determining even provisionally who actually perpetrated the atrocity.’

    Yes, that’s what comes to mind when one contemplates Trump and his neocon cronies: “anguished leaders moved by suffering children.”

    Just like George Bush the Elder and his cronies were moved by stories of Iraqi soldiers killing premature babies in Kuwaiti hospitals and stealing their incubators. Turned out the story was invented by a Capitol Hill lobbying firm, Hill and Knowlton, and it was promoted in Congress by the arch-Zionist congressman Tom Lantos, who knew it was a lie.


    ‘good intentions got 19 U.S. servicemen killed in the dusty streets of Mogadishu in 1993 for a failed mission.’

    And about 1000 Somalis, many of them civilians caught in the crossfire. But let’s not mention them – non-American lives do not matter.


    ‘Good intentions led to Libya’s destabilization, with dire consequences for the region and America’s fight against Islamist radicalism.’

    No, it was part of the neocon plan to liquidate Arab governments opposed to Israel. See William Clarke’s video from 2013:


    ‘Good intentions contributed to the overthrow of an elected president in Ukraine and a subsequent civil war that could draw the United States and Russia into an ominous confrontation.’

    No, it was an attempt to undermine Russian influence in Eastern Europe.


    The only silly cliche missing from your absurd article is the famous “That was when America lost its innocence.”

    Look, you guys can put on this air of innocence and claim that your attacks all over the world are motivated by humanitarian reasons, but it does not fool people in other countries. It’s time to stop the act.

    [FAMILY BLOG], it doesn’t fool this American, either.

    1. Jim Haygood

      In the same vein, here’s our right-wing colonial officer ambassador in Israel:

      U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Monday accused the media of major bias against Israel in its coverage of the recent violence on the Gaza border, telling reporters to “keep your mouths shut until you figure it out.”

      Friedman claimed that most journalists covering the clashes in recent weeks had never bothered investigating whether Israel had other viable alternatives for defending its border besides using live fire.

      Friedman said that after investigating the issue himself – “speaking to people in the military in the State of Israel, the United States and other countries whose confidentiality I’ll maintain” – he was convinced that Israel could not have used “less lethal means” to defend itself.


      In Friedman’s view, the recent bloodshed in Gaza was like Omdurman — when the natives get uppity, they must be slaughtered with a firm resolve … including the little terrorists children.

  17. JBird

    The eviction lab map is better seen at its site. There are some missing details there and some more ways to filter the data at the site.

  18. John k

    Great map.
    So if dems get all of those that went Clinton, plus half of those that went twice Obama but flipped trump, dems get 217.
    Split decision. And there’s always recounts, maybe more than usual this time. Could be a while…
    Imagine dems win 218…
    Will the few progressives deny the wicked witch of the west, as speculated? Or might some blue dogs switch to rep? Could be popcorn shortage.

  19. Wukchumni

    Irony isn’t worth a bucket of warm spit, dept.:

    The reign of error decides to have the U.S. Marine band and chorale play & sing God Bless America to spite the Philadelphia Eagles, and he joins in @ first, but it becomes obvious he doesn’t know the words.


    Kate Smith 2020!

      1. Wukchumni

        Doctor Johnson famously wrote that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”, and the reign of error has used an oversized old glory vaingloriously as a prop previously, it’s what he does.

        Turning onto scenic Palos Verdes Drive South, one encounters breathtaking grandeur: the vast ocean, an infinite horizon. And then there is Donald Trump’s 70-foot flagpole flying a nearly 400-square-foot flag.

        The flagpole that Trump illegally erected at his Rancho Palos Verdes golf club over a year ago is at the center of a simmering controversy between the billionaire and the California Coastal Commission. The conflict is the latest in a series for Trump, who has long had a do-it-without-permission approach to his real estate holdings.

        After getting retroactive approval for the flagpole from the Rancho Palos Verdes City Council, Trump is refusing to pay a $10,000 filing fee for the commission’s evaluation of the flagpole and its effect on the coast.

        “The flag’s still flying while we sit here in limbo,” said Gabriel Buhr, a coastal programs analyst for the commission’s South Coast district office. “It’s frustrating that the application hasn’t been completed, so we can’t move forward.”

        But Trump maintains that no one should need a permit to fly a U.S. flag, no matter the size.

        “Since when do you have to pay to put up the American flag?” said Trump, who argued that the flagpole was commensurate with the 300-acre site.

        He made a similar argument last year for keeping a row of ficus trees planted along his golf course without authorization to hide homes he deemed unsightly, angering residents who said their views were blocked.

        “Do we need permission to plant bushes?” Trump said.

        He eventually lost that battle when the council ordered the trees, some as tall as 12 feet, removed.

        Meanwhile, a flag the size of a studio apartment continues to fly on the oceanfront, towering 54 feet over the city’s 16-foot limit on “accessory structures.” On a recent windy afternoon, the 25-by-15-foot flag was flapping at its full length, emitting a propeller-like sound that echoed off clubhouse walls.


          1. Wukchumni

            The golf course in question suffered one hell of a bogey when the 17th & 18th holes collapsed into the ocean, pre what’s his name, in 1999.

            If you want to see the earth move under your feet in L.A., nearby Portuguese Bend along the coast is the cat’s meow, as it’s way unstable and you’ll see pipes running above ground, too risky to bury them, yeah, that unstable. The whole Palos Verdes Coast is unstable all the way to San Pedro, of which his golf course is smack dab in the middle of.

            On the Palos Verdes peninsula, engineers try to hold back the forces of nature as the ground shifts beneath their feet
            In the rainy early morning hours of Nov. 20, Palos Verdes residents received a menacing reminder that they live on a bed of geologic activity far beyond their control.

            A 600-foot section of Paseo Del Mar in San Pedro below the White Point Nature Preserve suddenly dropped down the cliffside. It was the most damaging landslide on the Peninsula since the 17th and 18th holes fell to the beach in 1999 from what’s now Trump National Golf Club.


  20. Summer

    Re: The Bezzle…Cash

    With a hack, hack here,
    And a hack, hack there,
    Here a hack
    There a hack
    Everywhere a hack, hack
    I’m using cash as much as possible

    I watched a clerk closely examine a stack of 20s I handed her. Glad to put the worry and risk our of my hands.

    Not too mention just tired of accepting that businesses are entitled to as much od your personal information as possible.

  21. Daryl

    Somewhat of interest: Matt Taibbi and a YC startup doing an AMA on Hacker News about a “new business model for journalism.”


    It is unfortunate that it seems like he had a bit of a falling out with the eXile crowd as they tried one approach with NSFWCorp and seem to have hit on something sustainable with the War Nerd podcast. Doubt it will be brought up in the AMA.

  22. djrichard

    “The Democratic Party is flying blind on economics” [Ryan Cooper, The Week]. … the party as such makes virtually no attempt to put forward a consistent party line on economic issues.

    The GOP party line is simple: the deficit is an issue. [Except of course for when it’s not an issue, like when cutting taxes.] There is little to no risk to the GOP party in adopting that position.

    In contrast, there’s a lot of risk to the dems in adopting the opposite side of that as their platform, i.e. the deficit is not an issue. So they need safe harbor. Is MMT going to provide them that safe harbor? I think MMT needs a lot more work in connecting the dots for the lay man to provide that safe harbor.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Tesla’s ‘Hell’: Fires, Accidents, Delays”

    I have a theory here. When Musk decided to go into car production, he took along his Silicon Valley attitudes to workers. Thus he said something like: ‘Get me the lease on a disused car production factory. Then hire me 10,000 car workers, 2,000 supervisors and 1,000 managers. Also order in as many robots as possible to get rid of these jerk workers eventually. Have them report to me on this day and then they can start working.
    No real thought to training, to establishing doctrine, etc. Just expecting workers to be like spare parts you just plug in and use until you can discard them. And now we have the results in of how well that works in the real world. The world may regard him as Business Jesus at the moment, as show by Wall Street not willing to take him down, but expect the Tesla car chapter to figure prominently in future business textbooks.

  24. Wukchumni

    Went to vote and there are so many people running for governor in the Golden State, it might be easier to pick the winning numbers for the lottery.

    Must admit I knew nothing about most of them, and a Green party guy named Carlson-a puppeteer by trade, seemed like an apt choice.

    This was all the info I found on him on the one web site I went to regarding the candidates:

    “Teach your children calculus And keep the planet safe Or feathered stones and empty bowls Will also be their fate.”

    Christopher N. Carlson

    1. jrs

      Ha yea I read that, the guy with the poem as his candidate statement, and what the heck are feathered stones anyway?

      But if Greens are too sell out by all means vote Peace and Freedom as it’s a real socialist (if entirely powerless) party. Sometimes gotta say I just vote Dem though, when I can find one I can tolerate (granted they tend not to win either). The Dems that win are often the one’s that make you throw up a little in your mouth.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “What is a ship registry or ship register..??”

    Very interesting article this to find out how registration is carried out with the world’s commercial fleets. Ship have had something like this for at least two centuries under Lloyds Register of Ships. That IMO Number mentioned in the article, for example, was once a number and year of construction carved into one of the internal beams of a wooden ship. The 19th century was a fascinating period for shipping and you learn that Canada was once a ship-building power house for much of it.
    For those interested, you can find historical Lloyd’s Register of Ships Year Books online at http://www.lrfoundation.org.uk/public_education/reference-library/register-of-ships-online/ and at the near beginning of each year’s book, you will find a Key which explains the descriptions provided for each ship. They may be just names, numbers and codes but for those of us in North America or Australasia or other assorted places, they were once the ships that transported our ancestors.

  26. Oregoncharles

    “The proferred solution — or, to my mind, palliative — is vote-by-mail.” Oregon, the state with full-on vote-by-mail, had the highest turnout, even though our primaries were profoundly boring. There were some ballot measures to vote on, too. Actually, our election will likely be boring, too.

    Nonetheless, on Sunday the Pacific Green Party nominated candidates for Governor and most US House races, plus one county commissioner and one Oregon House seat. Some of those were even contested nominations.

  27. bruce wilder

    Re: Ryan Cooper, “Flying Blind on Economic Policy”

    Politics — in a democracy or otherwise — is inevitably going to be an on-going dispute about who gets what, where, when as well as a series of questions about what the state should do to solve problems. It is not possible to separate out questions of the distribution of power from the exercise of power: politics negotiates both, together.

    There are many good reasons to think that political institutions that force the participants in politics to deliberate publicly and try to reach agreement on principles and principled rules from which public policy can be derived or elaborated can realize results superior to other political arrangements, such as, say, gossip and intrigue among favorites at court.

    I do not regard “a grand debate about the proper size and scope of the Federal Government” as anything more than the pretence for someone who wishes to promote reprehensible policies of upward re-distribution of income, wealth and power. If there is fault to find, I would find it in left-neoliberals who pretend to take this seriously, as if someone like Ryan is capable of philosophy let alone policy analysis. It is not commitment to an ideology that makes Ryan difficult to convince of anything sensible; it is the total domination of politics by giant corporations and the extremely wealthy.

    A critical element in New Deal politics was the sudden weakening of great wealth in politics by the economic collapse and dysfunction of the Great Depression. And, the politics that the New Deal built was a politics of contention, in which opposed interests freed Congress critters to be arbiters of those opposed interest. When Congress in the 1950s and 1960s consider financial sector policy, lobbyists swarmed as they do now, but the swarming lobbyists represented opposed interests: the big commercial banks wanted one thing, the savings and loans and credit unions something else and the insurance companies and stock brokers and investment banks and local commercial banks all had their own ideas. A politician who could play one group against another — because there were multiple groups — could exercise political power. Ideas really mattered, because only effective argument about policy could gain sufficient agreement among parties not otherwise organized to act together.

    We do not live in that world anymore. Congress critters have little individual freedom to act. When they consider financial sector policy, to continue the example, they are confronted by the lobbyists representing a relative handful of universal banks, who have brought under central strategic control, previously opposed economic entities: stock brokers, insurance companies, commercial banks and other entities all owned together by a holding company. The labor unions are largely gone. The savings and loans are gone. The credit unions are mostly gone. Five or six major banking corporations control the landscape.

    In the New Deal era, I dare guess that most newspapers, owned by wealthy families, opposed FDR on their editorial pages, even if the poorly paid journalists, union workers all, who worked for those newspapers felt otherwise. But, even those newspaper owners were mostly local powers in their respective communities, typically with real estate interests that made them town boosters in a long American tradition of promoting economic development. Today, the most prominent journalists seen by millions on teevee are themselves multi-millionaire celebrities. The kind of media outlets that invest in political advocacy and criticism are owned by billionaires: the Atlantic is controlled by Mrs. Steve Jobs, the largest stockholder at the N.Y. Times is Carlos Slim though the Ochs-Sulzberger family continues in control, the Post is owned by Jeff Bezos; Pierre Omidyar bankrolls the Intercept, and so on. Meanwhile, the dominant media outlets are controlled by giant media corporations: in a pattern similar to the bank holding companies, they own and control television, radio, movies, book publishing, magazine publishing and so on, and exercise coordinated strategic control of all. And, worst of all are Facebook and Google (Alphabet) sucking up data on everyone’s everything.

    A politician like Paul Ryan wants to get re-elected for a while, and then he looks forward to a more lucrative career. You can think he’s an ideologue, as fanatic as a 17th century Catholic or Presbyterian, but I doubt he cares that deeply about anything. If he is hard to persuade, it is because 1.) he knows who will pay and 2.) there really isn’t much he could decide differently, even if he did choose to think about issues instead of just reading the scripts handed to him in his role as a spokesmodel politician.

    Someone else buys our politics for us and distributes it free of charge. No one should be surprised that it comes packaged with an ideology of neoliberalism no one could possible believe in and results in popular public opinion barely worthy of an idiocracy.

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