2:00PM Water Cooler 7/2/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I had more trouble assembling the DNC graphic below, and politics just now is quite lively, so I’ll add a bit more material in a few minutes. –lambert UPDATE 2:38PM All done.


“Mexico’s victor reaches out to Trump, seeks NAFTA deal” [Associated Press]. “Lopez Obrador said he supports reaching a deal on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement with the United States and Canada. The talks have been stalled over the Trump administration demands for higher U.S. content and a ‘sunset clause’ in the 1994 trade agreement…. Lopez Obrador said he will propose that his own team of experts be included in the talks. The winning candidate said he will make that proposal in a meeting Tuesday with current President Enrique Pena Nieto… Lopez Obrador told Televisa that he will respect the current team of negotiators, and let them continue representing Mexico until he takes office Dec. 1.” More: “Lopez Obrador said individual and property rights would be guaranteed, promised respect for the autonomy of the central Bank of Mexico and said his government will maintain financial and fiscal discipline.” • Oh gawd. Please forgive me for allowing my cynicism kick in, but if Lopez Obrador turns out to be Mexico’s Obama, a lot of people are going to be very unhappy, and very willing to share their unhappiness with others. I know “he has to say that,” but we heard that with Obama, too. Readers?

“President Donald Trump on Sunday said he sees tariffs on foreign cars and auto parts as positive for the U.S. economy, even though Detroit-based automakers are unified in urging his administration to drop the effort, saying it would amount to a tax on consumers. ‘What’s really going to happen is there’s going to be no tax,’ Mr. Trump told Fox News in an interview broadcast Sunday. ‘You know why? They’re going to build their cars in America. They’re going to make them here'” [Politico].

“Trump isn’t going to change his mind on trade even if the stock market keeps falling: Wilbur Ross” [CNBC]. “‘There’s no bright line level of the stock market that’s going to change policy,’ Ross said … ‘The president is trying to fix long-term problems that should have been fixed a long time ago.’…. ‘You can’t deal with day-to-day stock market fluctuations,’ he said, adding that policy measures need to be crafted and pursued based on what’s fundamentally good for the economy.” • Big if true.



UPDATE “‘What is more uncivil and cruel than taking children away?’ Hillary blames Trump for explosion of coarseness – and compares herself to Churchill” [Daily Mail]. “[Clinton] was asked by the interviewer whether she had considered helping to heal the divides in U.S. life by leaving the public stage…. But clearly angered, she said: ‘I’m sure they said that about Churchill between the wars, didn’t they?'” • To answer the question, slaughtering Libyans by the truckload and rebooting the slave markets? But to Churchill, he was in the political wilderness between the wars. And then staged a comeback. “Just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark…”

UPDATE “DNC committee votes to limit power of superdelegates” [The Hill]. “The DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee approved a measure to bar superdelegates from voting on the first presidential nomination ballot in a contested convention… Wednesday’s vote sets the DNC up for a full vote on the measure at the committee meeting next month….’No candidate will be able to have an accumulated lead, whether it’s real or perceived, before a ballot has been cast,’ Perez said.” • Big if true.


“The uncertain political ramifications of Justice Kennedy’s exit” [Larrry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “[McConnell] doesn’t care all that much how Democratic senators end up voting on the justice-nominee so long as he can keep his own caucus together. Assuming a vote before the midterm — McConnell said the Senate will vote on a replacement ‘this fall’ — the majority leader will attempt to make each red state Democrat pay a dear price on Election Day whether they vote for or against the nominee. Meanwhile, Republican strength in the Senate is fragile: because of Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) absence due to poor health, the Senate is functionally just 50-49 Republican now. Will any GOP senators object to the nominee? It’s possible, albeit unlikely. (As usual, Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, and Rand Paul of Kentucky come to mind — though the blowback from a “no” vote would be severe from a huge majority of their own party’s people — who have been eagerly waiting for a Supreme Court takeover for years.)… Political questions — unanswerable now — abound. When will the vote be scheduled: before or after the midterm? Probably before, but maybe not. If the new justice is confirmed before the midterm, will it only juice turnout on the left because the right will be satisfied and the left outraged? Already, rank-and-file Democrats are tweeting that the most important midterm in their lifetime has become leagues more significant with the Kennedy vacancy. Or does this court vacancy help Republicans make up what seems to clearly be an enthusiasm deficit compared to Democrats?”

“Can Democrats get their base excited about a court fight?” [Washington Post]. “Brian Fallon, the Clinton campaign veteran now organizing liberal messaging against Trump nominees, suggested an argument for red state Democrats under pressure this fall: if a nominee did not consider the ACA to be settled law, it would “be an adequate basis to treat the vote on Trump’s nominee as a vote to uphold ACA.”

“If this November’s elections are about the state of the economy, Republicans will do quite well. Most of the economic indicators are good, and while things could change over the next few months, they are not likely to deteriorate dramatically” [Inside Elections]. “Republicans would likely keep the House and Senate if the midterms were only a referendum on the president’s handling of the economy. But the economy isn’t dominating voters’ attention these days. The June 1-4 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll asked registered voters about the ‘most important factor in deciding your vote’ and found five issues bunched together in the double digits: health care; economy and jobs; guns; taxes and spending; and immigration. In tough economic times (whether high unemployment or high inflation), the economy and jobs inevitably rank far ahead of other concerns because people think first about putting food on the table and paying the mortgage. But today, when jobs are relatively plentiful and Americans feel upbeat about the economy, people have time to think about other issues and problems — such as health care, gun control and how people should be treated.” • That would be ironic; Trump a victim of his own (perceived) success…. One poll, of course,

Realignment and Legitimacy

An alert reader throws this DNC fundraising mailer over the transom:

I don’t like this. First, note the (helpfully highlighted) identity politics fixation. Second, note that the DNC replaces AOC’s straightforward “working class” with its own (focus-grouped, noxious) “working families” formulation. Third, DNC money is dirty. “Progressives” should not take it.

UPDATE “Local Girl Makes Good” [Maureen Dowd, New York Times]. MoDo’s second para: “‘A sanitation truck pulled up,’ said the 28-year-old with the contagious smile and an energy that impressed even the dragon-energy president. ‘The driver reached out his arm to give me a high-five. What that moment tells me is what we did was right. We are touching the hearts of working people. Democrats should be getting high-fives from sanitation truck drivers — that is what should be happening in America.'” • Interesting read. AOC gives a good interview.

UPDATE “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Won Not Because Her Ideas Are Radical but Because They’re Good” [GQ]. “How could a young Democratic Socialist who spent about one-tenth as much money as her opponent have bested the man widely assumed to become the next Democratic leader in the House? The answer is as boring as it is important: Ocasio-Cortez’s radical socialist ideas aren’t radical anymore. They’re practical and popular, and she never apologized for any of them…. You can see this dynamic at work in Ocasio-Cortez’s position statements, which carefully pair grand ideas with numbers and facts… She isn’t just talking about student debt because it sounds cool, or because doing so is likely to get young people to show up and chant slogans long into the night. She does it because studies suggest that debt cancellation could boost this country’s real gross domestic product by somewhere between $860 billion and one trillion dollars over the next decade. In every case, she is making the argument.”

UPDATE “The Democratic Socialists of America show their muscle in New York congressional upset” [Yahoo News]. “[AOC] had a campaign machine of her own, an outside group known as the Democratic Socialists of America. In the avalanche of coverage of Ocasio-Cortez’s win, the logistical support and manpower she received from the DSA has drawn relatively little notice. But the group is poised to make its presence felt in the midterms. More than 100 volunteers from the DSA had flooded the streets of the 14th Congressional District, which includes parts of Queens and the Bronx, for months.” • Yahoo News has run several sane stories on this topic, oddly.

UPDATE Growing pains?

“Has the New America Foundation Lost its Way?” [The Washingtonian]. “According to a recording of the meeting, [Anne-Marie Slaughter] said that while she recognized that the standard in journalism was never to show sources what you were writing, New America’s ‘norm can’t be that. We’re an organization that develops relationships with funders. And you know, these are not just black boxes; they’re people. Google is a person, the Ford Foundation—these are people. . . . And particularly when they give you money, which is really a nice thing . . . basic courtesy I think requires—if you know something really bad, you say, ‘Here’s a heads-up.'” • I think Betteridge’s Law applies here; NAF has not lost its way at all. Servicing the donor class has always been its way. Same for CAP.

“Madeleine Albright: Trump ‘undemocratic,’ ‘un-American’ but not ‘a fascist'” [Washington Times]. “‘I don’t think he’s a fascist,’ she said, ‘I do think he’s the most undemocratic president in modern American history and that troubles me.’ Ms. Albright said the same thing about Mr. Trump during a podcast interview with The Economist, saying that leaders like North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan better fit that term. For her, a fascist leader is one that identifies with only one group and is a tribal-like leader.” • Two solid years of liberal Democrat messaging down the tubes…

“Era of resistance defines new generation of House Democrats” [Associated Press]. “[The top Democrat on the rules committee, Rep. Jim McGovern of Massachusetts] said it recently took him two hours to shop for groceries back home because so many constituents stopped to talk with him. Voters, he said, want Democrats ‘to stand up to Trump’s racism and his bigotry and all his hateful policies.’ But they also want them to make strides on Democratic priorities, he said [which would be….]. ‘What people are looking for is not just for us to be right on the issues,” he said. “They want to know what we’re going to do to fight for these issues.'” • Take this pudding away—it has no theme (Churchill). And there’s that “fight for” talking point. Always “fighting for,” never winning. That’s our Democrats!

“[I]t may take liberals by surprise to hear that a recent Reuters/Ipsos mega poll of 16,000 respondents, found that the Democrats are losing ground with millennials. While millennials still prefer the Democratic party over the Republicans, that support is tanking. In just two years, it dropped sharply from 55% to 46%. Meanwhile, their support for Republicans has remained roughly stable in the past two years, falling from 28% to 27%” [Guardian]. • One poll. Still, that’s a rather big drop. So much for the “coalition of the ascendant”….

Funny what people find funny:

That Putin and Trump are gay lovers is a well-known trope amongst Russia!Russia!Russia! liberal Democrats. Odd, for a political faction otherwise so tolerant.

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers Manufacturing Index, June 2018: “Strength has been noticeably upgraded in the manufacturing PMI sample” [Econoday]. “There’s usually not much change between the flash manufacturing PMI and the final manufacturing PMI and June’s results are unique for this series, implying a roughly 56 plus pace for the last half of the month. And for the quarter as whole, the PMI posted its strongest performance since third quarter of 2014. The final results for June seem to bely the report’s modest assessment.” And but: “Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate remain about the same as last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession” [Econintersect].

Institute For Supply Management Manufacturing Index, June 2018: “Topped Econoday’s consensus range and got a boost from long delays in supplier deliveries” [Econoday]. “Capacity stress, due to robust demand and also tariff disruptions, is a major concern for ISM’s manufacturing sample…. Yet the delays are not slowing production…. Despite all the stress, ISM’s sample continues to find available workers with employment steady…. Whatever hints there were of slowing in manufacturing…. June appears very likely to have been yet another month of acceleration for a factory sector that, tariffs or not, is taking a leading position in the 2018 economy.” And: “The ISM manufacturing index indicated expansion in June” [Calculated Risk]. ISM was above expectations, “and suggests manufacturing expanded at a faster pace in June than in May.”

Construction Spending, May 2018: “Strength in housing is leading the construction sector, making for a respectable” rise [Econoday]. “Spots of weakness aside, gains in housing and particularly single-family homes are major positives, pointing to strength for new home sales and also construction employment.” But: “This was below the consensus forecast of a 0.6% increase for May” [Calculated Risk]. But: “May 2018 Headline Construction Spending Up But Inflation Adjusted Growth In Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The rolling averages declined. Also note that inflation is grabbing hold, and that inflation adjustments bring this series into contraction. The employment gains currently year-over-year are near the same as the year-over-year growth in construction spending.”

Capital Investment: “13 Percent Upswing in Combined U.S. & Canadian Industrial Spending” [Industrial Reports]. “[C]ombined U.S. and Canadian planned capital spending increased 13 percent in June compared to May with $49.44 billion in spending for the two nations. May’s planned investment showed $43.65 billion. The research organization reported 241 planned U.S. and Canadian projects in June… Planned U.S. project spending improved by 12 percent in June with $40.54 billion in planned investment compared to the May total of $36.06 billion.”

Personal Income and Spending (May 31): “[A]s suggested by the far too low personal savings rate, consumption was revised down a bit and has come in lower this month. However, income was also revised lower, with wage income growth weak even with the reported employment growth, keeping the savings rate remains depressed. And with prices a bit higher it means real consumption and income are that much lower. Also, note how the inflation rates tend to move higher after Fed rate hikes” [Mosler Economics].

Commodities: “Is the world running out of sand? The truth behind stolen beaches and dredged islands” [Guardian]. ” Sand is second only to water as a natural material extracted by humans, and our society is built on it, quite literally. Global production has risen by a quarter in just five years, fuelled by the insatiable demands of China and India for housing and infrastructure…. Wind action in deserts results in rounded grains that are too smooth and too small to bind well in concrete…. Riverbed sand is prized, being of the correct gritty texture and purity, washed clean by running fresh water. Marine sand from the seabed is also used in increasing quantities, but it must be cleansed of salt to avoid metal corrosion in buildings. It all comes at a cost….. Sand accounted for 85% of the total weight of mined material in 2014, yet it is replenished by rock erosion only over thousands of years. Booming demand means scarcity, scarcity means money and money means criminality. Globally, sand extraction is estimated to be worth £50bn per year, a cubic metre of sand selling for as much as £62 in areas of high demand and scarce supply. This makes it vulnerable to illegal exploitation, particularly in the developing world. Why buy expensive sand, sourced from licensed mines, when you can anchor your dredger in some remote estuary, blast the sand out of the riverbed with a water jet and suck it up? Or steal a beach? Or dismantle an entire island? Or whole groups of islands? This is what the ‘sand mafias’ do.”

Shipping: “FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index tells a tough story for shippers” [Logistics Management]. “[Freight transportation consultancy FTR] describes the [Shippers Condition Index (SCI)] as an indicator that sums up all market influences that affect the transport environment for shippers, with a reading above zero being favorable and a reading below zero being unfavorable and a ‘less-than-ideal environment for shippers.’ For April, the most recent month for which data is available, the SCI came in at 13.4, which slipped further in negative territory over March’s -10.5 reading. FTR said this demonstrates how there has been a lack of capacity and rate relief for shippers in what continues to be a very strong freight environment.”

The Bezzle: “Hitachi Affiliate Discovers Data Fraud of 60,000 Batteries” [Industry Week]. “An affiliate of Japanese electronics giant Hitachi admitted Friday it had falsified data for 60,000 industrial batteries, the latest in a series of similar scandals that has battered the country’s reputation for quality… ‘So far no malfunction has been detected and we believe that there is no problem in the functioning and safety of the products,’ the company said in a statement.” • They “believe.” Do they know?

The Bezzle: “Tesla stock gains after hitting 5,000 Model 3 production target and shooting for 6,000” [MarketWatch]. “Shares of Tesla Inc. rose Monday, after the electric car maker confirmed that it hit its target of producing 5,000 Model 3 vehicles a week, and said it was shooting for 6,000 a week by the end of August.” • As a Tesla skeptic, I don’t think Tesla can “confirm” anything. In the coming days and weeks, we’ll find out how the stock-pumping target was actually reached.

The Bezzle: “Tesla Model 3 Production Feat Falls Short of Defeating Doubters” [Bloomberg]. “Output reached 5,031 Model 3s in the last week of the second quarter, exceeding a target that Tesla’s chief executive officer had said was crucial to generating cash and earning profit. About 20 percent of those cars came off a makeshift line that the company built last month underneath a tent outside its California assembly plant. The shares fell as the release failed to settle a debate over whether the production can be sustained.” • Really? I’d like to see the math on throughput from that tent…

The Bezzle: “Tesla reaches Model 3 production milestone and record 7,000-car week total production, says Elon Musk” [Electrek]. “While the employee celebration earlier today gave us a pretty good idea, this confirms it, but […] it’s important to know how Tesla came to that number and whether or not they can maintain it from now on. We should have a much better idea when Tesla releases its official Q2 production and delivery report later this week.”

Transportation: “New battery technology will be all-important in making these decisions. “Our analyses indicate that the majority of commercial vehicles can reach cost parity with diesel-powered trucks within the next 10 years, assuming we see continued improvements in battery cost and power density,” the report said. Battery packs are the key ingredient in pushing all-electric fleet purchases from theoretical to real” [Automotive IQ].

Manufacturing: “Tariffs Aside, a More Business-Friendly Presidency Is Good for Manufacturing” [Industry Week]. “The Trump administration’s easing of costly and onerous regulations is boosting companies’ interest in reshoring jobs to the U.S. At last count, some 22 regulations were repealed, cutting compliance costs to American companies by $8.1 billion—and fueled by the President’s mandate that federal agencies eliminate ‘at least’ two regulations for every new one ordered. The consulting clients my company works with in manufacturing are expressing a strong sense of optimism that is translating into pulling projects off the shelf that were in limbo during the past few years and moving forward with brick-and-mortar investments into new plants, equipment and factory upgrades. While they have appreciated the tax cuts engineered by the new administration—and some showing their appreciation in the form of $1,000 to $2,000 bonus checks to their employees—the regulatory pullback has brought an even greater sense of economic confidence.” • “My company,” so the guy is talking his book, but it could be a good book. I imagine the horror stories from the shop floor and the fracked and landfilled colonies will bubble up in a decade or so, but that’s, er, the norm, right?

Five Horsemen: “At late morning the Fab Five are mixed, with Apple, Microsoft and Facebook up; Alphabet and Amazon down” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Jul 2 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “After Friday’s relatively flat session, the mania-panic index lost another tick to 33 (worry), as the put-call ratio remained high at 1.24 and new lows exceeded 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 29 2018

Rapture Ready: Closes up 1 on Wild Weather. “A massive heat wave has hit the central US” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181.

Health Care

UPDATE Oh, Keith. No.

It’s like they’re all working together….

Gawande writes for The New Yorker. Nice person.

UPDATE “The ‘pleasant ambiguity’ of Medicare-for-all in 2018, explained” [Vox]. “But these days, other plans are falling under the Medicare-for-all umbrella. Some progressives, like [Adam Green, co-founder of the lefty Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC)], are even comfortable with the term being applied to the various proposals to allow all Americans buy into Medicare. Some of those plans used to be branded as a “public option”; they would not end private insurance that more than half of Americans get, usually through work, as a true single-payer would. But these plans would also not provide the same guarantee of universal coverage that a single-payer system does.” • Liberal wonks solemnly reflect on the brand confusion they themselves created.

Meanwhile, on Planet Earth (1):

Meanwhile, on Planet Earth (2):



“These Ancient Trees Have Stories to Tell” [National Geographic]. • 2016, but lovely photos….

Guillotine Watch

“JPMorgan Chase & Co. will buy as much as 555,000 square feet (52,000 square meters) of air rights from a landmarked Manhattan church as it prepares to build its new headquarters” [Bloomberg]. “JPMorgan announced in February it is knocking down its headquarters at 270 Park Ave. and replacing it with a 2.5-million-square-foot skyscraper that could be as much as 500 feet taller…. New York City last year implemented a rezoning plan for east Midtown, allowing for bigger buildings as a way of competing with other financial capitals around the world. Air rights can be transferred from one building to another, enabling a higher structure than zoning regulations would otherwise allow.” • Love the “transfer of air rights” part. Innovative. Meanwhile, retail at street level in Manhattan is dying. Empty storefront after empty storefront….

Class Warfare

“The Remaking of Class” (reviews three books) [Jedidiah Purdy, The New Republic]. “Griswold documents class without having to name it. Class is contaminated water, children with chronic pain and fatigue, and no money or extra time to address the fact that their grades are collapsing year by year. It is living downhill of the pond where fracking fluids are stored. It is being hurried through a signing session for a drilling lease on your small property, without a lawyer and without a chance to read documents written to confuse you. It is wondering whether you have time to meet with an environmental enforcement agent about your problems when the last one disappeared without communicating and every meeting means time away from your nursing job. It is lawyers and bureaucrats looking at their phones while they meet with you. It is a high-schooler adjusting his expectations from going to college to joining the Army to mowing lawns.” And: “I especially admire Eliza Griswold’s description of class–in which she doesn’t use the word–as a web of social and environmental vulnerabilities, ways the world is indifferent and dangerous to you. At the same time, I suggest we might also need to think about class from a different perspective: that of the bosses and owners. Their class consciousness is often arrestingly lucid, and in many ways they are the ones who make the world.” • Also, “class denialism.”

“There’s No City, State, or County Where a Minimum Wage Worker Can Rent a 2-Bedroom Home” [GritPost]. “According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) 2018 “Out of Reach” report, someone working a 40-hour week position earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour would be unable to afford a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the United States at fair market rent (usually the 40th percentile of gross rent in a given area, set annually by the Department of Housing and Urban Development). Even in Arkansas, a minimum wage worker would need to work 65 hours/week to earn enough to afford fair market rent for a two-bedroom home.” • Readers, your experience?

“Can Gentrification Be Illegal?” [Governing]. “Can gentrification be illegal? That’s the question at the heart of a recent lawsuit in Washington, D.C., which alleges that the city courted ‘creative-class’ millennials in recent years at the expense of longtime Washingtonians, particularly the city’s lower-income African-American residents. The city filed a motion to dismiss the $1 billion lawsuit, which was filed in April by a civil rights attorney on behalf of three D.C. residents and a local advocacy group. The city claims that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction to determine whether housing officials were discriminatory in their efforts to attract young, professional workers…. ‘The city is intentionally trying to lighten black neighborhoods, and the way they have primarily been doing it is through construction of high-density, luxury buildings that primarily only offer studios and one bedrooms,’ the suit reads. ‘Every city planning agency … conspired to make D.C. very welcoming for preferred residents and sought to displace residents inimical to the creative economy.’ …. ‘Developers are looking at areas in the city where they can buy low and sell high,’ Derek Hyra, an American University professor who has written about gentrification in Washington, told the newspaper. ‘Developers want to maximize their return. This is not a conspiracy. This is capitalism.'” Indeed! • Remember, back in frontier days when computers were steam-powered and ran on punch cards, how Medicare was rolled out in a year from a standing start? I’m not sure we want or need government to be “innovative” in the way that the “creative class” would like it to innovate, capitalism or no. So why do we need to attract them to The Nation’s Capital?

“Americans are working hard and getting nowhere” [MarketWatch]. “For many today, the panelists said, building wealth is a luxury that time and salaries don’t permit. And, they added, the effects are taking a toll. Wages have remained stagnant since the 1970s and four in 10 households experience more than a 30% fluctuation in income month to month due to unreliable employment, irregular hours or periods of unemployment, according to data from the JP Morgan Chase Institute cited in The Aspen Institute’s new report, Reconnecting Work & Wealth. Nearly half of households have little or no emergency funds, while one in five Americans has a zero or negative net worth. According to PwC’s 2017 Employee Wellness Financial Survey, money matters were a top source of stress for boomers as well as younger generations.” • No duh. The deck: “How can the labor market promote wealth accumulation for workers?

News of The Wired

“Email’s first real user was also the first person to compulsively check his inbox” [Quartz]. “In fact, email’s first real user was somewhat tethered to the invention. In the early 1970s, Stephen Lukasik was the head of the US government agency that is widely credited with creating the internet. In his book ‘Attention Merchants,’ Columbia professor Tim Wu describes how Lukasik would lug around a 30-pound terminal so that he could check his messages. ‘As such, Lukasik may have been history’s first true email addict,’ Wu writes.”

UPDATE “Study: The More Coffee You Drink, the Longer You Live” [MedPage]. But: “So I’m putting a marker down, mostly to see what people come up with as a counterargument – if one observes a benefit in a population associated with consuming a food or beverage, and the benefit is not mediated by the active ingredient in that food or beverage, the finding is likely due to unmeasured confounding. In other words, I think coffee is in the same camp as red wine: the observed benefits are likely due more to the type of person who drinks it than what’s actually in the drink.”

Spot the smoked ham. I can’t:

Documentary on “slow photography,” as Joel Meyerowitz photographs the Twin Towers site after 9/11. Reader reactions on the project?

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

TH writes: “One day, after dropping my husband off at work, off from work myself, I decided to drive out to San Marino (Los Angeles, CA) to visit the Huntington Library gardens. I arrived more than an hour early. The neighborhood was so pretty, I thought I’d walk around the perimeter. That was a MUCH longer walk than I’d expected—you can’t actually just walk around the perimeter—many of it’s borders are the backyards of the many residents, and the area is a rambling streets that meander through the hills. The homes and landscaping are all beautiful and quite photogenic. Slightly concerned that residents may have wondered at someone photographing their property, I didn’t linger long in any one place.” • As readers know, I support photography while wandering about. Masses of color, too. On another note, I saw my first hummingbird yesterday.

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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. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks. There’s suddenly a lot of oppo on AOC being dumped by the usual suspects…. Which reminds me, I’ve got to go back in link to MoDo’s editorial in the Sunday Times (now six bucks and a lot thinner, fer cryin’ out loud). But I’m trying to focus on the institutional factors rather than get caught up in the trolling. Apparently she grew up in a house, probably (like Bernie Sanders) owns a coat, and so on. Lordie.

      1. Enquiring Mind

        Newspapers have become so expensive that I can’t even afford to borrow them anymore! ;)

      2. RUKidding

        FWIW, Wonkette has an article about how the rightwing and assorted nutters are attacking AOC for having the temerity to grow up in – shriek! gasp! – a house. apparently the area in which she grew up also has – wait for it – MANSIONS (somewhere)!!1!

        It’s interesting to witness the slings and arrows being flung at AOC from both the right and the so-called “left.” So far, she seems to be handling it all quite well.

        Good luck to her!!

        1. J Sterling

          It’s crazy, working class people can grow up in houses. Working class people should grow up in houses. The alternative would be to define working class as poor. But poverty is not part of the definition of working class, just an unjust inequality suffered by too many of them.

          1. sleepy

            Cortez’s old two bedroom house in Yorktown Heights is certainly no mansion. Far from it. It looks exactly like the sort of house that a HS grad with a decent job could afford a few decades ago. No idea what it’s worth now, but most likely is beyond the reach of all but professionals.

            To me, that is the real story about the house–a small place like that is now unaffordable for all but the few, at least in places like suburban NYC. Folks that troll Cortez on her childhood house entirely miss the irony.

            1. Yves Smith

              To go to school in Yorktown, her family would have had to presented themselves as residents whether or not the lived in the house (much, at all). So her story could be true but that would mean her parents lied.

              Since the story incorrectly says she went to Brown when she went to Boston University, it gets poor marks on other aspects of its fact checking.

      3. JohnnyGL

        The headlines are still pretty positive, overall. Tons of media coverage.

        I think the political class is fine to build her up for awhile….but they’ll turn on a dime, especially if/when she’s seen to be confronting the democratic party establishment more directly. Watch out for when she puts fundraising in danger….then the knives come out.

        Remember….fundraising uber alles….that’s the dems!!!

      4. Big River Bandido

        Oh my Dog, that DNC fundraiser is gross, on so many levels — not least of which is that the DNC tried to block her way in the primary.

        Does this mean AOC approved this? Could she insist on her own framing (“working class“) if they’re using her image?

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Since the DNC has no ethics, it would have no ethics about stealing her image to use without her permission.

          Hopefully she declines all contact with any/everyone and/or any/everything tainted with any trace of DNC contamination. That way she can keep her support-infrastructure from being infected with Mainstream Clintobamacrat political HIV.

        2. Elizabeth Burton

          The same thing happened after the election in Virginia. Six progressives, one a vocal DSA member, won seats the Dems didn’t even bother going after, and suddenly those winners and the New Dem gubernatorial nominee were all alike.

          They’re smart enough to know they can’t ignore progressive winners, even if they do everything they can to prevent them from winning. If they do, especially while the enthusiasm is still high, they risk more of the dupes realizing just how corrupt they are. So, they pull stuff like this—taking credit for what they didn’t earn and trying to twist the message so it appears the candidates aren’t really who they claim to be. Can you imagine what will happen among those inspired by her true populist policies when (not if) the media starts expanding on the message AOC is really quite happy with the DNC.

          Divide and conquer.

      5. Massinissa

        The amazing thing to me, is that, the house isnt even a nice house. Its a pretty modest house at best. But apparently even this tiny house is ‘privilege’, or… Something.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Such “calling out” reminds me of the pleasure that junior high schoolers first learned to take at finding and calling out simple and superficial examples of “hypocrisy”. Those people using these superficial “call outs” are hoping to tap into the “junior high mind” of whoever still operates at a “junior high” level.

            1. ambrit

              Hey! Don’t go all elitist on us Lambert.
              Aren’t public ‘entertainments’ supposed to be pitched to a Third Grade intelligence level? If so, then “Junior High” is in the empyrean realms.
              My idea of a modern politico is a narcissist with disassociative identity disorder.

              1. Wukchumni

                A friend is in his mid 50’s and has taught 7th grade for about 25 years now. Imagine that every year you get a new crop of raging hormones and they’re barely only teenagers…

                …he’s a saint as far as i’m concerned

                1. ambrit

                  I wonder what his wife’s putting in his food.
                  Those preservatives can have some unexpected side effects.

              2. wilroncanada

                We’ve dropped a couple of grades since Frank Harris, newspaper editor at the end of the 19th century and writer of an autobiography full of his (probably imaginary) sexual exploits, said he aimed as editor first at those in fifth form but eventually downgraded to 5th grade in order to increase readership. Grade three sounds about right.

                1. ambrit

                  Oh good heavens! Frank Harris. I have his autobiography somewhere in the ‘library’ room. Probably next to my copy of the Grove Press edition of “The Pearl.”
                  However, I much prefer the Earl of Rochesters’ unseemly quips to Harris’ seeming chronicles.
                  It reminds me of the old joke about what constitutes the ‘Golden Age of Science Fiction.’ Someone or other said that Thirteen sounds about right.

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              You know . . . I really hope I don’t mean that. I didn’t think I meant that when I wrote it, but maybe I do.

              So this can be a litmus test: anyone who thinks candidate O-C is NOT a hypocrite for having grown up in a house has successfully matured beyond the junior and maybe even senior high school level. If we spot any such people in politics itself, we should advance them if they don’t support bad agendas.

              I think most of the MSM certainly function at that junior high school level. I suspect there are more grownups among the SSM ( ” Side Stream Media” . . . like McClatchy during the runup to Iraq War 2.0)

              Meanwhile . . . I think the “hypocrisy call-outers” were hoping to bias the mind of voting onlookers fast and hard against O-C in order to get her defeated in the election. Pray their effort fails. Let those who can do so work to see that this effort does fail.

              1. ambrit

                We can already see the outlines of an anti-AO-C shadow campaign. This is proving that the Establishment Dems would rather lose than change.

        1. drumllin woodchuckles

          No? Actually yes. Cesar Chavez was also against illegal immigration. It was a weapon to defeat the UFW organizing efforts.

  1. MC

    Regarding displacement in DC: I left the DMV 3 years ago to move to Cincinnati becaus I was pushed out because of sky rocketing rents. Its true that urban planners wanted to attract “creative class” types (a term I’ve always found imprecise and vacuous but whatever) to the detriment of working class families who are predominately black, they’ve succeeded but they aren’t doing a tremendous job of retaining those people year over year. One of the issues with DC is that it’s usually seen as a stop on ones great career tour: that’s where you do an internship or go to grad school or land your first big job for a very mobile population who can afford to pay in exorbitant rent for a basement of an animal hoarder (this actually happened to me), because this is not their forever home. This is a pit stop on to bigger and better things…even if it isn’t. People often languish in DC sometimes for a decade treading their wheeling, paying too much rent, drinking too many overpriced cocktails, eating the same 7 things from Trader Joe’s because they can’t afford to get out and have few options of moving on. It’s a major factor in how f’ed the entire housing market is there.
    The only people I know who still live in DC proper are either pulling well over 100k and live in microscopic 1 bedrooms or are so in far down the rabbit hole of debt that they’re they’ve become debt nihilists. Everyone else, including myself, has been pushed out. Honestly, even as a white collar professional I don’t know how I survived as long as I did.

    1. RUKidding

      My friends who’ve lived in Adams-Morgan for more than 3 decades bought in that long ago. Both have smallish but ok-sized one bedroom condos.

      They both have worked in Wash DC (both have completely different jobs) for that longer than that (ie, before they bought their respective condos). It’s working for both of them, but neither is in any sort of glamorous job or political job.

      There’s no way they could buy thoses condos now. I have no idea how much they’ll make whenever they decide to sell, but I’m sure they’ll make a bundle.

      Unfortunately as many know Adams-Morgan is super trendy and popular, and it’s consequently gotten super noisy there. I wouldn’t want to live there anymore, myself.

    2. flora

      they’ve succeeded but they aren’t doing a tremendous job of retaining those people year over year.

      I think the whole “creative class” come on is a sales pitch aimed at young people to get them to move into an area without first checking jobs, wages and benefits. It’s like they should be happy to live in a “vibrant” city with other “creative class” young people. It doesn’t take long to figure out that if average job pay and benefits are low and prices are high, that’s more important than the advertised cool factor of living in a designated “creative class” (TM) wildlife preserve, er, environment.

    3. roadrider

      Moved to Montgomery County MD 8 years ago. Just sweating out the 3 yrs until retirement now until I can leave this overpriced, overrated area. Rents expensive, buying is near impossible: scarce inventory and bubble conditions (outlandish prices, have to bid above market, waive any contingencies and make a snap decision). All blue county council won’t do anything to rein in landlords, new apartment construction has actually raised prices rather than lower them as promised. I think state law actually prohibits rent control. Yes the current administration is GOP but Dems were in control for a long time before that.

  2. fresno dan

    “If this November’s elections are about the state of the economy, Republicans will do quite well. Most of the economic indicators are good, and while things could change over the next few months, they are not likely to deteriorate dramatically” [Inside Elections]. ……But today, when jobs are relatively plentiful and Americans feel upbeat about the economy, people have time to think about other issues and problems — such as health care, gun control and how people should be treated.”
    Americans are working hard and getting nowhere” [MarketWatch]. “For many today, the panelists said, building wealth is a luxury that time and salaries don’t permit. And, they added, the effects are taking a toll. Wages have remained stagnant since the 1970s and four in 10 households experience more than a 30% fluctuation in income month to month due to unreliable employment, irregular hours or periods of unemployment, according to data from the JP Morgan Chase Institute cited in The Aspen Institute’s new report, Reconnecting Work & Wealth. Nearly half of households have little or no emergency funds, while one in five Americans has a zero or negative net worth. According to PwC’s 2017 Employee Wellness Financial Survey, money matters were a top source of stress for boomers as well as younger generations.”
    So both parties act like the economy is doing great. It really seemed Trump was the only one saying its all an illusion – remember the outrage about using the word “carnage?” Of course, now Trump thinks the economy is doing great….
    Its almost like there’s a two party conspiracy to act like the great majority of people are doing hunky-dory – that status quo is one powerful dude….

    1. Tony Wikrent

      Other readers, please chime in. What recovery I see is a small bump up in my book sales of about ten percent over last year. Sales are no where close to getting back to the pre-GFC level. My sales fell by half after the GFC. And, prices of everything except gas and hotels keep increasing. Breakfast that used to cost $5 is now $8 to $10. I used to expect to pay $30 for a nice dinner with drinks and desert; now I skip the drinks and desert and stoll pay $30. I am angry that media scribblers go along with calling this a “recovery.” And the internet connection AND cell phone have done wierd things since demise of net neutrality. Anyone else?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I used to expect to pay $30 for a nice dinner with drinks and desert; now I skip the drinks and desert and stoll pay $30.

        And the portions shrank.

      2. Elizabeth Burton

        Books are a luxury, unless you’re an addict like me; and yes, sales are down everywhere. It’s not as hard on the bigger publishers, whose main revenue stream is print, but for smaller presses the bulk of whose revenues came from ebook sales, the self-publishing industry is a killer. That’s not meant as a criticism of those who choose to do it, just the reality that the drop in our sales coincided directly with the huge growth in that arm of the industry at a time with more people’s disposable income disappeared. Given the choice of paying $5 for one book because the author shares with a publisher when there are slews of self-published ones at offer for $2-$3, a lot of people are going to hope for the best and go for the lower-priced ones.

    2. DonCoyote


      Yes, the problem with the (incredibly vague) InsideElections “Economy is good” is that it probably is looking no further than the stock market and unemployment rate. They are conflating “are you better off than you were x years ago?” with “is the economy (as defined by Y/Z global measures) better than it was x years ago?”. Most people (aka working class/90%) aren’t better off, and know it.

      And Trump now needs to claim that things are getting better. due to his changes. My gut is that, even since 2016, that is still not true, but we’ll see.

  3. Lee

    About 20 percent of those cars came off a makeshift line that the company built last month underneath a tent outside its California assembly plant. The shares fell as the release failed to settle a debate over whether the production can be sustained.” • Really? I’d like to see the math on throughput from that tent…

    Living in the chilly Northeast, your disdain for tents is understandable. But here in the weatherless, earthquake prone sf bay area, tents can make a lot of sense. If the big one knocks my house down, I’m going to replace it with a yurt.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Huh? We did a good deal of camping in my youth; I have great respect for tents. Focus on throughput:

  4. shinola

    ‘Trump a fascist? Probably not if you think in terms of Hitler. But, I think a case could be made for a Mussolini “wannabe”.

      1. .Darthbobber

        Oddly, few seem that familiar with the actual history of the Duce, or Italian fascism in general, beyond a Chaplin caricature level. Even my graduate classes on interwar Europe barely dealt with Italy, so I can imagine what made it into the more general consciousness.

        1. Wukchumni

          Il Duce was thought of as the epitome of a modern leader for quite awhile, and under his auspices, Italy probably peaked in 1933, in Chicago.

          One of the highlights of the fair occurred when Italian aviator Italo Balbo led a squadron of 24 Savoia-Marchetti SM.55X flying boats in a historic transatlantic flight from Rome to Chicago, landing on Lake Michigan near the fairgrounds.

          Italo Balbo was born in 1896. He served as an officer during World War I and, after the war, joined the Italian Fascist movement, quickly rising to a leadership position. In 1922, Balbo was one of the quadrumvirate instrumental in bringing Benito Mussolini to power. Mussolini first appointed Balbo as minister of the air force, the Regia Aeronautica, in 1926 despite the fact that Balbo had no previous flying experience. He learned quickly, however, and the flight from Italy to the Century of Progress fair was one of the crowning achievements of his career.

          Balbo and the squadron of sea-planes left Italy on June 30, 1933 and arrived in Chicago on July 15 after making several short stops in Canada and elsewhere along the way. Balbo even agreed to carry airmail on the flight, and letters carried on the trip still survive to this day. This airmail envelope, currently up for auction, was autographed by Balbo and includes a commemorative note reading, “Via Italian cruise of General Balbo � to Chicago.”


  5. Synoia

    Building Sand has to be sharp sand. I seem to remember river sand did not qualify, because the river action also produces round, not sharp sand grains.

    I also remember the salt in sea sand changes the “set” of concrete. That is makes it weaker.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, the article mentions all those things. I always identify “sand” with frack sand, but that is a small part of the market, apparently.

    2. The Rev Kev

      During the surge in the occupation of Iraq, the US needed a boat-load of concrete for making security barriers with. The sand in Iraq was not of the right type in terms of making solid concrete so the US had to import sand from I believe Saudi Arabia. That would have cost them.

  6. flora

    re: “Americans are working hard and getting nowhere” [MarketWatch]

    Maureen Conway, executive director for The Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Program, expressed the urgency of this initiative.

    The goal, she said, is to figure out “what are the institutions that will support workers in this new economy?”

    No mention in the article about raising the minimum wage. Lots of talk about more financial services (and associated fees). As Anatole France did not write:

    “The law, in its majestic equality, allows rich and poor alike to invest in the market, to buy financial services, and to clip coupons.”

  7. BoyDownTheLane

    “… “Once upon a time, I was a liberal. Well, to be honest, less than a year ago, I was still a liberal.
    “I reject a system which allows an ambitious, misinformed and dogmatic mob to suppress free speech, create false narratives, and apathetically steamroll over the truth.”

    And then this devastating line—the Rosa Parks moment of the video:
    “I reject hate.”

    If Democratic strategists were still able to watch the rest of the video without suffering a nervous breakdown, they’d see that it quickly got worse.
    “These are the reasons why I became a liberal. And these are the same reasons why I am now walking away.”

    video and more at https://www.theepochtimes.com/viral-walk-away-videos-highlight-growing-movement-of-democrats-leaving-the-party_2578446.html

    1. JCC

      Another example of someone vilifying the Dems (deservedly) for their Identity Politics and Political Correctness gone bad, but constantly throughout the video conflating the Dems with the Left (which helps to explain why he announced that he’s been asked on to the Sean Hannity Show).

      The Democrat Party isn’t the Left, despite what this well-meaning, but mis-informed individual says. He sounds like a typical “educated” Republican. Luckily, so far, only 5000 or so have signed on.

      Unfortunately the Left has all but disappeared and the Dems have co-opted the label with full Republican support.

    2. Big River Bandido

      I read the article with the summary/transcription — something about it smells phony.

    3. Massinissa

      It sort of smells like a Republican article so Im not sure I trust it. Seems to be trying to force a narrative that these people walking away are going to be new Republicans or something. Because Duopoly. I’m not sure that’s accurate.

  8. Matthew G. Saroff

    I agree with Hillary’s characterization of herself as like Churchill.

    Churchill’s record in government, with the exception of perhaps his first 6 months as PM, was characterized by abject failure followed by advancement.

    Whether it was Gallipoli, advocating the use of gas in Iraq, the disastrous Norway campaign (which is actually what got Chamberlain to resign and made him PM), managed Britain’s disastrous return to the gold standard in the 20s, and (of course) cheered on the Bengal famine as PM. (there are more, but time is limited)

    I think that Churchill (or Rudy Giuliani) is a perfect analogue for Hillary Clinton.
    Comparing Hillary to Churchill is completely appropriate.

    1. Big River Bandido

      I don’t think so at all. I think this is further proof of her delusions of grandeur.

      1. RUKidding

        Yes, it definitely is delusions of granduer. Can’t argue. But an argument can be made that she is comparing herself to someone who was actually quite racist and not all that great.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          He had a crucial effect on Great Britain at a crucial keypoint time.

          1. Plenue

            No, he made some nice speeches.

            What caused Britain to not succumb was Hitler’s obsessive focus on city bombing instead of just targeting military infrastructure, and the reality that Germany almost certainly couldn’t have launched a successful cross channel invasion in any event.

            Churchill was much the same blithering military idiot in the second world war that he was in the first. He was just lucky to be facing an even more idiotic opponent.

            1. Katsue

              I don’t know if I would characterise Hitler as an idiot. Certainly, he appears to have been a far better strategist than the German General Staff. Basically, he embarked on a series of long-shot gambles because his strategic position was weak. Eventually, one of his gambles didn’t pay off. However, in light of how difficult to achieve his vile objectives were, I don’t think there was necessarily another strategy that would have worked better.

    2. RUKidding

      Confess that I’m pretty ignorant about Churchill other than the standard stuff that one knows esp re his speeches during WWII.

      That said, I recently watched the first series of The Crown. I KNOW it’s largely fictionalized, but there are factual things presented in it. Although it’s alleged that Queen Elizabeth acknowledges Churchill as either the “best” or her “favorite” PM (I forget which), the series didn’t actually paint Churchill in the best light (which may mean that it was truthful/factual??).

      I found that part interesting, and it led me to look up many “things” to learn more.

      I am somewhat inclined to agree that HRC’s comparison of herself to Churchill, while still self-absorbed and wrong-headed, may actually be more apt than not.

      1. Big River Bandido

        No, I got it. But the “comeback” notion only reinforces the ugly analogy and the sense that Clinton has an outsized view of her own importance.

        Churchill, after all, held the highest office and then later came back to it. How is she supposed to be “coming back” to an office she’s never held?

        1. Massinissa

          Duh, its because it’s ‘her turn’. She is just a ‘temporarily dispossessed president’, because those ‘nasty Russkies’ illegally ‘stole the election’ from her… Somehow…

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      Didn’t Churchill’s Ministry of the Navy come up with the first military tank in World War I?

      Hillary’s characterization of herself as like Churchill reminds me of the quip Lloyd Bentsen made in a debate with Dan Quayle — something to the effect “You’re no John Kennedy.”

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Churchill came up with the Gallipoli invasion and was on the Western Front 10 months before tanks were deployed.

    4. Sid Finster

      Throughout his pre-WWII career, Churchill also was a particularly shameless political opportunist. The man made BoJo look almost principled by comparison.

      That included sucking up to Hitler, before Churchill decided that there could be more political return in being an anti-Nazi.

    5. Carolinian

      Presumably the part she had in mind was “comeback.”


      And those 6 months were a pretty important 6 months. He did become a symbol for the British–one they quickly discarded when the war was over.

  9. JCC

    I know San Diego is an outlier, but I just happened to have talked with a friend two days ago who is going to spend her week’s vacation going down to San Diego to help her sophomore college-student daughter find new digs. The daughter is sharing a 2 bedroom apt with two other girls and they are paying $2900.00/mnth for their living quarters. Two of the girls share the bigger bedroom and each pay about $150 less than the girl that has the single bedroom.

    One of the girls is cramming courses into every semester so she can graduate a little early… because she is living solely on college loans and credit cards. Poor girl, she is doesn’t know it yet, but she is financially screwed for the next decade (or two).

    1. RUKidding

      San Diego has gone through the roof in terms of housing costs, whether rental or to purchase, especially around any of the major universities. If you can live somewhere towards the far north, east or southern part of the county, one can still find semi-afforable housing, but then you’re stuck with horrific commutes unless you are working locally or from home.

      I just sold out of a home that I co-owned down there with a friend. Somewhat sad not to have one “root” in San Diego, as it is wonderful in many ways. But I got sick of the traffic (I would still work part-time when I went down there 9 or 10 times per year, and the traffic just got worse and worse and…), plus the overall higher cost of living.

      I lived in Oceanside, which still maintained a bit of Ye Olde Time working class beach town vibe, but sadly, it’s presently being gentrified to within an inch of its life and is losing some of its former appeal (for me at least). No doubt rental rates are skyrocketing up there accordingly.

      San Diego: nice place to visit; not worth living there anymore, imo.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Do you remember when San Diego was a city of around 500,000 and you could drive almost anywhere in the country in less than an hour? I do.

        1. RUKidding

          I moved there over 20 years ago. I’m sure that the county had way more than 500,000 residents, and I’m 99.9% certain that the city of SD did as well.

          Yet and still, it was quite easy to drive around the county almost any time of the day. I used to live in Hillcrest (near downtown SD), and I thought nothing of heading up to Escondido to go to events at their Arts Center on week day or weekend evenings.

          It was only just starting to get to be a pain to drive up to LA at that point. IOW even Orange County wasn’t that busy in terms of traffic. And it was nothing, back then, to drive up the I-15 to go hiking on the Angeles Crest or San Berdo Mtns or San Jacinto.

          Now?? Fahgedaboudit. Traffic is a nightmare almost all of the time.

          1. Wukchumni

            When I was a kid, San Diegans were quite vocal about their disdain for Angelenos, and then a funny thing happened since, SD turned into LA.

      2. Wukchumni

        Say 30 years ago, SD homes were about 2/3rds of the value of ones in LA, but that was then and this is now. What’d your abode fetch?

    1. Alex V

      Umm, I’m sure these repurposed military facilities will be less than pleasant, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to call them “concentration camps” which involved incarceration and punishment for thought crimes. We can debate the ethics of how immigration should occur but these are materially different forms of “criminality”. Defaulting to the terminology of World War II and the Cold War doesn’t add much to that conversation.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Trump is building concentration camps, it does not get anymore fascist than that.

      I believe that concentration camps were invented by the British in the Boer War. While not a big fan of empire, I don’t see the British Empire and fascism as identical.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Probable damage = (probability of failure) x (damage caused by failure).

        The cost (or damage) of failing to spot a fascist is so high, that even though the probability of failure is low (this person or that person is unlikely to be one), that when someone makes such a claim, many math-gifted people instinctively go with the safer option.

        The same with claims of concentration camps.

        “Just to be safe…”

        And people with different opinions become more cautious.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I believe this is Taleb’s idea of (if I have this right) you should never make a bet that you cannot afford to lose (don’t bet the house in other words).

          I think it really does matter if the question is whether Trump is a fascist, or whether the entire political class has been sliding toward fascism since at least The USA Patriot Act. If only the first is true, then there is a good choice and a bad choice. If the latter is true, then there are many bad choices, though many are seemingly opposed, and a few good ones (IMNSHO).

          For example, does anybody seriously think that PropOrNot, or something like it, would have been actively deployed against the left under a Clinton Presidency? Is that Fascist? How about if that’s combined with Clinton’s known views on family separation?

          1. Andrew Watts

            For example, does anybody seriously think that PropOrNot, or something like it, would have been actively deployed against the left under a Clinton Presidency?

            Yes, I do. The presidential election had little to do with the deployment of PropOrNot / Hamilton 874568435413564984. It’s popularity among the Hillary crowd is merely being used to absolve themselves of their incompetent performance. The people behind the smear campaign were already anti-Russia and pro-intervention in Ukraine and Syria.

            The NATO crowd and the Atlantic Council which underwrites it politically lack a raison d’etat for existing without a Russian threat. While people Michael Weiss and others like Charles Lister were repeatedly dunked on by reality and social media accounts during both conflicts. Weiss kinda seems like a petty minded mediocrity so I’m guessing he’s doing this for revenge against his social media enemies as much as anything else. Somebody like Clint Watts easily falls under the “useful idiot” category. In an interview with NPR he stated that he originally became aware of the Russian threat by a White House.gov petition that was along the lines of ceding Alaska back to Russia or something. That petition as well as other funny ones like the Death Star petition happened in the midst of the Obama administration.

            Clint Watts originally came to my attention when he got an American who joined Al Qaeda executed. It isn’t going to end well when a former member of the FBI is openly communicating with an Al Qaeda jihadist, It’s pretty annoying that Watts pretends that his intentions were innocent like he was trying to do the jihadist a favor. I’d actually think higher of him if he purposefully intended to get that jihadist executed and openly gloated about it instead. Maybe useful idiot should be downgraded to just an idiot. Given his RUSSIARUSSIARUSSIA! credentials he recently received a book deal about that specific incident which happened years ago.

            The left-wing / anti-war websites were targeted because they were a focus point of opposition against the wars and are always against military spending. None of that specifically has to do with the presidential election and everything to do with NATO, the wars in Ukraine/Syria, and the amount of bull—- that social media generates.

          2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some think it’s the first, some the latter, and many not quite sure, but keeping both as possible.

            When dealing with the first case, if a person is claimed to be a fascist, labeled as one, it impacts the participants in the conversation.

          3. Big River Bandido

            I thought PropOrNot reared its f’ugly head after the election but before the Inauguration…

        2. Darius

          Trump is the symptom, not the disease, but he’s a whale of an indicator of how deeply screwed up this country is. Whether or not you want to call it fascism, we are in deep trouble. It’s been coming on for years with both parties helping it along. The only reason to be lackadaisical is if you think America has always sucked and there’s nothing to be done. Maybe you’re right.

          1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

            Darius and the turn of the screw:

            The tipping points do seem to be piling up. For me as an outsider, the tipping point of tipping points was when anyone in the US would seriously consider arming teachers.

            If you watch Australian TV you can see a programme called ‘Planet America’ which is at its heart a black-comedy based on presenting events in the USA. Depressingly funny! When the US is as funny in black-comedy terms as the Soviet Union you’ve gotta wonder about the nuclear umbrella you are living under.

            Pip Pip!

            1. cnchal

              The other day on national news was a story, with video, of a guy using his Ram pickup truck to smash through the front doors of a Walmart and go down an aisle running into stuff, in an attempt to run over his girlfriend, I shit you not. Wait till that gets on Planet America. Oh yeah, he missed and no one got hurt, so, a good news story.

              One tipping point after another.

  10. clarky90

    Some “regime-change” rhymes from 78 years ago

    The History of the Jews of Latvia
    During Soviet Rule (1940 – 1941)

    by Dov Levin


    General Background

    “Soviet aspirations to include Latvia within its sphere of influence became a reality with the signing of the Ribbentrop – Molotov pact on 23 August 1939. Less than a year later, in the wake of a Soviet ultimatum of 16 June 1940, several divisions of infantry and tanks of the Red Army entered Latvia. Under the orchestration of Andrei Vishinsky, the deputy peoples’ commissar for foreign relations, a new pro-Soviet government headed by Prof. August Kirchenstein was set up immediately, but not one communist participated in this government. The activity of the communist party, which had about 1,000 members, was legally permitted, and its members were given control of various institutions and organizations. At this stage, both the leaders of the party and Vishinsky himself, objected to isolated calls within the party and leftist circles to declare Latvia as a fully fledge Soviet republic. The regime also forbade the seizure of factories, as had occurred previously at the time of the revolution in Russia.

    For the time being, the government went no further…….”

  11. marym

    Definitions of fascism aside, (and who Albright thinks is or isn’t, also aside) in what way would Trump not fit her description as “identifies with only one group and is a tribal-like leader” ?

    For example, here’s the quote and video from an interview yesterday that’s making the twitter rounds today.

    Asked how he can bring the country together amid all this anti-Trump incivility, Trump says “there’s probably never been a base in the history of politics” like the Trump base, and he adds, “I hope the other side realizes, they better just take it easy.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think it matters what Trump says; much of it falls under the time-honored heading of “owning the libs” and a good deal more of it is chaff.

      What matters is the reality of it, and Trump’s base is wealthy suburban Republicans, while his margin is working class flyover. Even if you accept tribes as a category (I don’t*) that’s two, not one.

      NOTE * Except for “The Tribes,” like the Penobscots.

  12. Summer

    Re: The deck: “How can the labor market promote wealth accumulation for workers?”

    The current conventional economics model is that any wage increase for workers who are not high in the management chain, no matter how minor, should be accompanied by price increases.
    The giant extraction machine….

    1. djrichard

      Yes, “all your surplus are belong to us.”

      I supposed that could be interdicted, e.g. by reducing wallet share to the rentiers (FIRE sectors). Of course, once people get extra money in their wallet, the first thing they’ll think of is … wealth accumulation? LoL, not holding my breath.

      That said there is merit to reducing wallet share to rentiers.

      And separately if I remember Michael Hudson correctly, his prescription is to tax the surplus: the surplus should go to the state, at least the surplus that would otherwise be pledged to the F and RE sector. I’m too lazy to go look on whether he had similar opinion on other forms of surplus as well. And if I remember right, this was enjoined with thinking that the state was responsible for wealth “accumulation” for the labor class. Or rather, the state used its common wealth to pay for the retirement of the working class.

  13. clinical wasteman

    Apologies if already posted & for lack translation (less a matter of time than of moribund computer’s cursor mayhem), but this La Jornada column usefully summarizes what might be made to go wrong for AMLO during the extra-long July-December “lame duck” interval & afterwards.
    Avoids getting dragged into the question of whether the president-elect is actually “left-wing” at all – wisely, when the whole point is that “state & non-state actors” will sabotage regardless, with most of the destruction way below presidential level.
    (Any better-informed thoughts – Rabid Gandhi? – on the gubernatorial/muni vote and the presence/absence of anything like a coherent social movement would be much appreciated.)

  14. DJG

    Yes, the thin surface of tolerance in the U.S. of A.:

    That Putin and Trump are gay lovers is a well-known trope amongst Russia!Russia!Russia! liberal Democrats. Odd, for a political faction otherwise so tolerant.

    Nina Illingworth wrote a long salty blog post about this a while back. The question is: Is it wrong for a man to have a man as a lover? Or are Democrats worried about what goes on on the down low? Or is there an esthetic reason? Middle-aged men aren’t scenic enough? Or does it turn out that the evolution in the Democratic Party was mainly an evolution toward using the Human Rights Campaign as an ATM?

    And Bette Midler should know better.

    This is one of the reasons that there is considerable skepticism among gayfolk of the left about marriage equality, which smacks of desperate accommodationism that will come to little. You’ll have a bunch of equality-married M.B.A.s, eagerly climbing up the corporate ladder on Wall Street, though.

    If you read the article about haredi on the airlines that Yves Smith posted this morning, the answer is obvious. Let’s put an end to the monotheistic religions and their “certainties.”

  15. Summer

    agree with the mission of United States of Care: let’s ensure that every single American has access to quality, affordable health care regardless of health status, social need, or income.

    — Rep. Keith Ellison (@keithellison) June 30, 2018

    I have “access” to the lotto, too…

  16. kareninca

    There was discussion in in the links section re the use of essential oils. I think people assume that they are safe, since they are used topically. But it is not clear that they are all entirely safe:

    “A suspected link between abnormal breast growth in young boys and the use of lavender and tea tree oils has been given new weight, after a study found eight chemicals contained in the oils interfere with hormones. Gynaecomastia is rare, and there is often no obvious cause. But there have been a number of cases linked to use of these essential oils.” . . . “A growing number of reported cases of male gynaecomastia have coincided with topical exposure to the oils. After they stopped using the products, the symptoms subsided.” . . . “Lead researcher J. Tyler Ramsey from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), in North Carolina, suggested caution when using the oils.
    “Our society deems essential oils as safe. However, they possess a diverse amount of chemicals and should be used with caution because some of these chemicals are potential endocrine disruptors.””
    (https://www.bbc.com/news/health-43429933)(I presume the BBC is not an alarmist rag).

    I was using tea tree oil for dental issues, but really it wasn’t so effective that it is worth any risk at all. It will be interesting to see what future studies show. So far the NIEHS deems them as “safe” (per above), so conclude what you will.

  17. David May

    Trump is nowhere near being a fascist. Anyone who thinks that, doesn’t have a clue what they are talking about and needs to join a library and start reading. Fascists believed in something. Trump is just the überamerican hustler. He does not care about anything except boosting his own ego.

  18. John Zelnicker

    @Lambert – The only place in that Carrot Ducks on a Pea-Green Sea for the lean ham is underneath the peas, if it wasn’t actually left out. Or, it is meant to be served separately. It is certainly not visible in the photo. I don’t see any onion, either.

    1. nippersdad

      If the peas were cooked with the ham and onions then they would have taken on the brown color of the cooked peas. Maybe they are just hard to see in this photo?

      1. John Zelnicker

        July 2, 2018 at 6:47 pm
        That’s true, but I’m not sure the peas were cooked as they appear to be the green color normally associated with canned peas. There is no mention of cooking and canned peas and carrots can usually be served out of the can.

        I’m not sure either one of us has the right answer. Anyone else?

  19. ewmayer

    Re. The Bezzle: “Tesla stock gains after hitting 5,000 Model 3 production target and shooting for 6,000” [MarketWatch] — Note TSLA shares slid relentlessly after the opening 5% pop and finished the session over 2% down. Looks like an appreciable number of shareholders decided to avoid the risk of becoming bagholders and sold into the pop.

    And I would *love* to hear if there is any way of tracking the life histories of the 5000+ cars in that specific stock-pumping batch which does not require TSLA’s cooperation.

    1. ocop

      IIRC, the way analysts track/proxy shipments of Teslas is via reported registrations (because Tesla does not report the data). If there are VINs associated it should be possible to track June or July (assuming a delay) registrations?

    1. nycTerrierist

      This is beyond obscene. More public shaming please! of predators like Geithner:

      “Is Geithner’s firm ashamed of its investment in and management of this vile business? Of course not. Warburg Pincus told the Post that “Mariner Finance delivers a valuable service to hundreds of thousands of Americans who have limited access to consumer credit.” Worse still, Mariner representatives described the company as fulfilling a “social need.”

          1. Darius

            I remember reading a WaPo article about how Tim Geithner was Obama’s favorite Cabinet member and they were so simpatico. Revolting.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              As I was reading the article, I was thinking to myself . . . Geithner really is Obama’s kind of guy.

      1. perpetualWAR

        I was emailed this article. My first thought was how much back door money was made by Geithner, Obama and Holder for throwing us under the financial services bus to be disgorged?

        1. polecat

          They are but amongst GODS !
          .. trapped in moneybound cocoons ..
          All bow in supplication

          … It eats the damned tinned peas or It gets the stick again ! .. sans the carrots … and the ham.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Obama planned to collect his money in the decades after leaving office. So he wouldn’t have been given any traceable “back door” money while still President.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve been meaning to post this image for some time; it’s the “Fact Check” box, to the right on Google’s execrable news page:

      Polygraph is “literally,” as kidz these days say, a propaganda organ for the United States government, run as it is by the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe. It’s ludicrous enough to have the New York Times — ***cough*** Judy Miller ***cough*** — doing fact checking, but real-life censorship by state organs? Really, Google?

      1. Sid_finster

        As long as those fact checkers reach the preordained results, the Deep State has no problem with being its own fact checker.

      2. ambrit

        When I start up Firefox on my desktop computer, the first tiny banner that scrolls at the bottom of the screen is a check in with ‘oath.com.’ There’s your locus of censorship.
        Oath: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_Inc.
        By mentioning this, I posit that advertising relies on the censorship of ones’ world view. The basic harms of advertising are the opportunity costs of wasted time and attention. “Brain cells were sacrificed so that we can bring you this message from our sponsors! Don’t allow those departed brain cells to have been sacrificed in vain! Buy something!”

  20. Sid_finster

    Re superdelegates.

    We know now that the DNC is confident that it no longer needs superdelegates in order to rig its presidential nomination successfully.

  21. Alex morfesis

    Minimum wage workers have Never been able to afford a 2 bedroom house…ever…never ever…that astroturf NFP does a great job shilling for corporate tax credit buyers but lets slide how bundling of hud funds and grants and low income tax credits has reduced the number of affordable units available with much of the money now being diverted to senior low income housing tax credits instead of working families…

    It is what it is but did trees have to die for this fake and shake report ?

      1. alex morfesis

        now one ever on a minimum wage job could ever afford to rent a 2 bedroom home…anywhere ever…to suggest it is somehow something new in the history of this country is just a sad excuse for a press release…and the organization lives to help lobby for corporate control of low income tax credits…it is not a community based / main street organization…

        good luck trying to pry loose some low income tax credits if you are “not invited” or having some honest organization trying to do affordable housing with the tax credits being allowed to step away from “the syndicate”…kahpish…

        loop de loop fake and shake use of low income tax credits to double dip for CRA lending credits…just another racket…

  22. marym

    Slate: Why Did the Rhode Island Democratic Party Endorse an Alt-Right Supporter Over a Progressive Incumbent?

    Moira Jayne Walsh, a 27-year-old former waitress and labor organizer, captured a bit of national attention after she won a seat in the Rhode Island House in 2016…

    Walsh has since been a progressive voice in the legislature and supports increasing the minimum wage and marijuana legalization. She also caused a stir in March when she said in a radio interview that there was an “insane amount of drinking” among legislators at the statehouse. All this might go some way towards explaining why the state Democratic Party has endorsed her opponent in the upcoming primaries—a man who appears to have once been a vocal supporter of Donald Trump and alt-right figures.

    Providence Journal: Rep. Walsh ‘furious’ to lose endorsement to ex-Republican

    [The state party’s executive director T. Kevin Olasanoye] only concedes this point: the party could have done a better job “vetting” Earnheart before the chairman agreed to endorse him. At the point Earnheart made his case for why he should get the endorsement, Olasanoye said he appeared to be just the kind of “Trump Democrat” the state party knows it needs to woo back into the mainstream of the party.

    But Walsh was not the only progressive woman legislator in the Rhode Island legislature who lost their party’s endorsement…

    1. Big River Bandido

      I hope this comes back to bite the state party in the family blog. Do you live in RI? This is exactly the kind of fight that’s worth having. I wouldn’t put it past Walsh and the other candidates to mount a powerful backlash from voters…this is the kind of thing that can energize core supporters.

      1. marym

        Just happened to see this, don’t live there or know anything about RI politics. Endorsing this “former” Trump supporter is a new low for Dems.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      One of the ideas that Democrat regulars can’t get through their tiny little minds is that universal concrete material benefits have universal appeal. So we get nonsense like this.

  23. Darthbobber

    Just ranhttps://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/jul/02/uk-ministers-to-fund-saatchi-campaign-for-tunisian-government into this over at the Guardian:
    Apparently still okey-dokey to openly intervene in the domestic politics of other countries, as long as it’s for a good cause like promoting austerity.

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