2:00PM Water Cooler 7/13/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Opinion: Surprised by how little Trump’s trade war matters to the economy? Just you wait” [MarketWatch]. “The mystery is why the economic and financial fallout from this escalation has been so limited. The U.S. economy is humming along. The purchasing managers’ index was up again in June. Wall Street has wobbled , but there has been nothing resembling its sharp negative reaction to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930. Emerging markets have suffered capital outflows and currency weakness, but this is more a consequence of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes than of any announcements emanating from the White House. There are three possible explanations. First, purchasing managers and stock market investors may be betting that sanity will yet prevail….. Second, the markets may be betting that Trump is right when he says that trade wars are easy to win… Third, it could be that the macroeconomic effects of even the full panoply of U.S. tariffs, together with foreign retaliation, are relatively small. Leading models of the U.S. economy, in particular, imply that a 10% increase in the cost of imported goods will lead to a one-time increase in inflation of at most 0.7%. This is simply the law of iterated fractions at work…..”

“Trade tensions are triggering turmoil in one of agriculture’s cornerstone supply chains. Soybean prices are at their lowest point in nearly a decade as Chinese buyers shift their purchasing to Brazil and businesses in other countries rush to U.S. suppliers for heavily discounted shipments. The shifting trade in a food-industry staple is the most visible sign yet of the tit-for-tat tariffs flying between the U.S. and China” [Wall Street Journal]. • China not being self-sufficient in soy sauce is about as nutty as us deindustrialized the heartland. Kidding! I think…

“Taking on the mantle of free-trade defender: Beijing is planning on pushing back against Trump by positioning itself as defender of the world trade order and bracing for what it is describing as an ‘economic cold war,’ in the words of a source close to decision-makers in Beijing” [Politico]. “The ministry statement comes amid a push by China to present the trade fight as a choice between upholding the multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization as Beijing is doing, or letting Trump’s unilateralism and protectionism prevail.”• Reminds me of this passage from Richard Morgan’s dystopian Altered Carbon:



“Novartis had ‘longer and more detailed’ relationship with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, Senate report finds” [MarketWatch]. “[Novartis] Chief Executive Joe Jimenez and Cohen communicated multiple times after that and over the course of 2017, including an email exchange in which Jimenez sent Cohen Novartis’ ‘ideas to lower drug costs in the U.S.,’ which were to be discussed with the Trump administration. Several of the ideas later appeared in Trump’s drug pricing plan, released earlier this year, the report found.” • Report prepared by Blumenthal, Murray, Warren, and Wyden. So corruption is the message now?

Hire the best:

I like “strategic advice.” “Strategic advice” is good.

* * *

UPDATE Working Families Party provides post-debacle clarity on Crowley:

So how did Crowley get on the WFP ballot line in the first place, for pity’s sake? (Incidentally, nobody who remembers how Obama’s mentor and Gore’s Vice Presidential nominee, Joe Lieberman — thanks for the DHS, Joe! — ran and won as an Independent after an insurgent Ned Lamont beat him in the primary can be sanguine about Crowley’s machinations here. Especially given Crowley’s history–

Teachout endorsement:

“The Team That Helped Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Its Next Mission: Lifting Kerri Harris Over Sen. Tom Carper” [The Intercept]. “Carper’s 2006 vote is particularly relevant now, as the three-term Democratic incumbent faces a primary challenge from Kerri Evelyn Harris, a U.S. Air Force veteran and community organizer whose campaign is based on the argument that Carper has served the corporate and militarized interests that have funded his campaigns over the people of Delaware. She would be a more progressive, less militaristic, and less corporatist senator than Carper.” • This is new, although I suppose Sanders team members traveling to the UK to help Momentum elect Corbyn is a precedent.

* * *

NJ-02: “New Jersey 2: GOP House Open Seat Shifts to Likely Democratic” [Inside Elections]. “The former Atlantic County Freeholder won the GOP nomination in New Jersey’s 2nd District on June 5, but the National Republican Congressional Committee disavowed him on Monday after multiple offensive statements came to light. “Bigotry has no place in society — let alone the U.S. House of Representatives,” said NRCC Chairman Steve Stivers of Ohio… It’s one of seven Republican districts rated as a takeover for Democrats, compared to just one Democratic seat where Republicans are currently favored to win. Democrats need a net gain of 23 seats for a House majority and Inside Elections currently projects Democrats gaining 20-30 seats.” • Inside Elections is the handicapper I’ve been using for the mid-terms worksheet

GA Governor: “‘My enemy is not a man’: Ex-gubernatorial candidate has ‘mission’ to damage Cagle” [McClatchy]. “‘This has nothing personal to do with Casey Cagle. I don’t like what he represents,’ [fourh-place Republican candidate Clay Tippins] said in an interview Wednesday. “My enemy is not a man — it’s what that man represents. It’s the leadership model … he represents the political model.”

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE “Vengeance Is Mine” [Jacobin]. From 2016, still germane: “The crisis of President Donald John Trump is the bill coming due on a four-decade social, political, and economic project that has succeeded in worsening, coarsening, and ending the lives of hundreds of millions of Americans. This disease permeates the air in America, crystallizing into a constellation of pain: loneliness, frustration, despair, as immutable as the stars in the night sky — distant, implacable, and hanging over every town in the country. Yet we don’t even have a name for it. Liberals rear back in horror at the insane climate denialism of their opposite numbers — but what then is the liberal reaction to the reality that our country is a cesspit for the vast majority of its inhabitants, an everyday gambit of fear and humiliation? That “America is already great,” or even more cloying and nonsensical, that “America is great because America is good” — is it any wonder the Democrats lost?” • What they call a “rollicking good read”…

New Cold War

“Mueller indicts 12 Russians for DNC hacking” (live feed) [CNN]. First post 10:35 AM (the announcement that Rosenstein’s presser was on the way. “The Department of Justice on Friday announced indictments in the Mueller investigation against 12 Russian nationals and accused of them of engaging in a ‘sustained effort to hack into the computer networks’ of the DCCC, the DNC and ‘the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and release that information on the internet under the names DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 and through another entity,’ it announced in a press release. All 12 defendants are members of the GRU, a Russian federation intelligence agency within the main intelligence directorate of the Russian military, who were acting in ‘their official capacities.'”

“12 Russian Intelligence Officers Indicted in Hacking Tied to the Clinton Campaign” [New York Times]. • Curious timing, thin story. There’s no timestamp, but the first comment is 12:37PM. Now somewhat less thin, but still with no time-stamp (the indictment).

“Justice Department Charges Russian Cyberspies With Attack On 2016 Election” [NPR].12:07 PM ET. “‘In my remarks, I have not identified the victims,’ Rosenstein said. ‘When we confront foreign interference in American elections, it is important for us to avoid thinking politically as Republicans or Democrats and instead to think patriotically as Americans. Our response must not depend on who was victimized.'” • Let me know how that works out…

“Mueller probe indicts 12 Russians for hacking Democrats in 2016” [WaPo]. 12:53 PM. “The 11-count indictment spells out in granular detail a carefully planned and executed attack on the information security of Democrats, implanting hundreds of malware files on Democrats’ computer systems, stealing information, and then laundering the pilfered material through fake personas and others to try to influence voters’ opinions.” • Hmm. I hate to seem curmudgeonly, but I need to know how we know about the malware files. Did the DNC turn over their servers or machine?

“Mueller indicts 12 Russians in 2016 DNC hack” [The Hill]. “The indictment also alleges that the Russians used an organization as a ‘passthrough’ to release documents — though that organization is not identified.” • Wikileaks? And therefore subsequent indictments coming?

“12 Russians accused of hacking Democrats in 2016 US election” [Associated Press]. 1:00PM. “The indictment also does not allege that any vote tallies were altered by hacking.”

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Trump and Putin: A Love Story” (Video) [ New York Times (OregonCharles)]. • Everything you would think, and more, including tongues entwined. I’ve always regarded “coming out” as a good thing, a tremendous victory, and I would have thought that liberal Democrat venues like the New York Times did, too. Now, the Times is using gay lovers as a trope for betrayal and treason, and also as a source of derision, for weakness. In service of warmongering, too! Frankly, I’m baffled. Imagine the liberal Democrat frothing and stamping if Fox had published a similar video of, say, Obama and Lloyd Blankfein during the bank bailouts! I can only conclude that the liberal factions in the political class have completely lost their minds, and with their minds, their moral compass. Their natural right to rule was rejected in 2016, and the collective trauma, the ego damage, was so great that they have never been able to recover from it. I’m not looking forward to a period when they regain power, either. We already know they’ll come for the left; but gay people, too?

UPDATE “The Secrets of Leonard Leo, the Man Behind Trump’s Supreme Court Pick” [The Daily Beast]. “When President Donald Trump nominates a justice to the Supreme Court on Monday night, he will be carrying out the agenda of a small, secretive network of extremely conservative Catholic activists already responsible for placing three justices (Alito, Roberts, and Gorsuch) on the high court. At the center of the network is Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society… Directly or through surrogates, [Leo] has placed dozens of life-tenure judges on the federal bench; effectively controls the Judicial Crisis Network, which led the opposition to President Obama’s high court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland; he heavily influences the Becket Fund law firm that represented Hobby Lobby in its successful challenge of contraception; and now supervises admissions and hires at the George Mason Law School, newly renamed in memory of Justice Antonin Scalia. ‘Leonard Leo was a visionary,’ said Tom Carter, who served as Leo’s media relations director when he was chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast. ‘He figured out twenty years ago that conservatives had lost the culture war. Abortion, gay rights, contraception—conservatives didn’t have a chance if public opinion prevailed. So they needed to stack the courts.’ Amazingly, said Carter, Leo has succeeded in this mission with few people taking notice.” • “Amazingly….”

UPDATE “‘White and Wealthy’ Colleagues Called Out in Letter to DCCC Demanding Intern Pay” [Roll Call]. “A group of current interns at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent a letter Thursday to Chairman Ben Ray Luján requesting pay…. ‘Most of our fellow interns, while undoubtedly bright, are white and wealthy and have no real understanding of the perspectives of everyday working Americans, nor do we have fellow interns with diverse backgrounds to discuss issues, ideas, or experiences with,’ the letter stated. ‘This disconnect is then reflected [in] policy positions, now and in the future.'”

UPDATE He can’t be a real Democrat:

UPDATE “The problem with identity politics” [New Humanist]. “When we are attacked and oppressed on the basis of particular categories, we often try to affirm those categories as part of our identities, to turn the relation of oppression around, to proudly reclaim whatever term has been used to oppress us. Thus questioning the cohesiveness of that category is very threatening to our sense of self, which has now taken on much more urgency because it is a response to our oppression. This is in many obvious ways a completely reasonable response. The problem is that it leads us to become attached to categories which are produced by the structure of oppression. While inverting that relation and reclaiming an identity may be a step in coming to consciousness of this structure, actually undermining the structure will also involve undermining the identity. It is not hard to see why people take this personally.” • Very thoughtful. Well worth a read.

UPDATE “The Capital of Kink” [Medium]. • Amid the relentless domestication, this sentence crept out: “She says the people at parties make the most incredible sounds. They cry out in pain, they groan and then they’ll start laughing. She says it’s sometimes hard to tell whether they are in pain or pleasure until there’s a sound that suddenly makes it clear the person is ‘having a great freaking time.'” • Good for them. I know government is not a household, and I certainly hope it’s not a dungeon either. I mean, I’d hate to think that deindustrialized America was some sort of “scene”…

Stats Watch

Import and Export Prices, June 2018: “Price weakness is the signal from June’s import price data” [Economic Calendar]. “Today’s report stands in contrast to Wednesday’s producer price report where pressures for energy and also tariff-related increases for metals were evident. But the import side of today’s report is consistent with yesterday’s report on consumer prices, that inflation right now is contained and, from the Federal Reserve’s perspective, with no major risk of overshoot evident.” And: “Month-over-month price index for fuel imports and food exports significantly declined” [Econintersect].

Consumer Sentiment, July 2018 (Preliminary): “Consumer sentiment is easing back so far this month” [Econoday]. “The weakness is in the assessment of current conditions… Expectations are steady… Trade war is in play, cited as a concern by 38 percent of the sample vs 21 percent in June and 15 percent in May. Yet levels in this report remain strong and continue to support expectations for solid summer growth in consumer spending.”

ECRI WLI Growth Rate: “Even with the general downward trend in this index over the last 6 months, the forecast is for modest growth six months from today” [Econintersect].

Consumer Price Index: “Still looks to me like the rate increases have offered some support for the economy and also pushed cpi higher? Interest income channels? Forward pricing channels? ;)” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “Tariffs not enough to derail trucking economy” [FreightWaves]. “‘The size of these tariffs and the goods they are being placed on are really not big enough to derail the [overall economy]; they really impact specific industries but [won’t significantly hurt] the broader macro economy,’ [FreightWaves’ Chief Economist Ibrahiim Bayaan] said during the inaugural FreightWaves’ Market Update webinar on Thursday. “What you do worry about is how these tariffs spill over into the rest of the economy. Just thinking about how the growth of the economy is, much of it is driven by how consumers feel about the economy, how businesses feel about the economy.” • Watching the breakneck purchase of ships, trucks, and warehouses — because shipping is a cyclical, sporty game — I’m reminded of Kevin Muir’s “I won’t because all of me wants to” post from Haygood, yesterday, and the ensuing thread. Oh Lord, make a bear. But not yet!

Shipping: “U.S. Warehouse Supply at Its Tightest in Two Decades” [Wall Street Journal]. “For U.S. retailers, manufacturers, importers and exporters, warehouse space is at its tightest since 2000, when the first dot-com boom was driving strong consumer spending and imports from China were beginning to surge…. Some distribution centers have added fulfillment operations. Other warehouses have converted to ‘cross-dock’ facilities to handle last-mile delivery of bulky items. And many brick-and-mortar retail locations have added e-commerce services, reducing the storefront footprint…. ‘You’re seeing a broad shift in the blurring of the line between retail and industrial space,’ [Tim Savage, senior managing economist for CBRE] said. ‘So something that may appear as a complete retail space does have an industrial component to it.'”

The Bezzle: “Digital Exile: How I Got Banned for Life from AirBnB” [Medium]. “I still can’t believe that leaving an offsite review was a bannable offense, but even more disturbing to me is the way AirBnB handled the situation with a one-sided, permanent, irreversible, closed book suspension. The part that’s especially poetic to me is that AirBnB touts a firm brand message of community and connectedness with their “Belong Anywhere” campaigns but the frightening reality is that any individual user is completely disposable, without a shred of appeal to due process. I’m really thankful that I wasn’t reliant on AirBnB income like so many of my friends.” • An interesting social trend, that. I wonder if it’s been measured, and how sensitive it will be to downturns?

The Bezzle: “Just how bad are New York drivers?” [DC Velocity]. “If you’re hearing a lot of complaints from delivery drivers about bad motorist behavior, don’t assume they’re just being cranky. Their gripes might be legitimate—particularly if those drivers work in and around New York City.” • GM’s doing robot car testing in Manhattan, so I wonder how that’s going? Assuming the algos are unfixable, how about we just make the human drivers liable for everything?

Mr. Market: “Goldman recommends cybersecurity stocks in anticipation of midterm-meddling fears” [MarketWatch]. “The investment bank wrote that cybersecurity stocks ‘present a tactical opportunity ahead of [the] midterm elections’ in November. Citing press reports that ‘suggest rising concerns about the possibility of meddling’ in the election, it wrote that a rise in security spending ‘in anticipation of potential threats would boost the top-line of cybersecurity stocks.'” • One more reason that hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, will “never, ever come to pass.”

Five Horsemen: “In a repeat of yesterday, four of the Fab Five (all but Apple) are at fresh record highs in late morning trade” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 13 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s market romp lifted the mania-panic index to 56 (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 July 12 2018

NEW Preview of Fed Indicators, Thursday closing values: “To the Fed’s delight, while underlying inflation carried on rising and the traditional 2y10y yield curve continued sinking, its new 1q6qfwd short-term yield spread kicked up to 0.99%, leaving room for four more rate hikes before inversion. Life is good” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Fed indicators July 12 2018


“Did Our Species Evolve in Subdivided Populations across Africa, and Why Does It Matter?” [Cell]. “The view that Homo sapiens evolved from a single region/population within Africa has been given primacy in studies of human evolution. However, developments across multiple fields show that relevant data are no longer consistent with this view. We argue instead that Homo sapiens evolved within a set of interlinked groups living across Africa, whose connectivity changed through time…. The starting point for most genetic studies of human origins has been to investigate the depth of present-day diversity between and within African populations. Most studies have used simple ‘tree-like’ demographic models to infer population split times, neglecting or simplifying population structure, even if sometimes considering a degree of gene flow between branches.” • Ha ha ha. I think it’s like a law that every real world entity we model as a tree (“branches”) is in fact a graph (“branches” + “flow between branches”). This could be a problem because programmers really like the tree data structure. Short trees! Anyhow, the article is dense, but really interesting. Well worth a read, my data structure hobby horses aside.


From the Department of This Seems Unncesssarily Complicated:

From the Department of This Is Necessarily Simple:

Militia Watch

“Pardoned by Trump, Oregon ranchers ride home in style on Pence ally’s private jet” [Los Angeles Times]. “A day earlier, ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond were prisoners at the minimum-security federal prison on Terminal Island in San Pedro, serving five-year sentences for arson. But on Wednesday, following a Tuesday pardon by President Trump, the father-and-son pair got to fly home in style to Burns, Ore., on an oil company’s private jet, riding alongside the company’s founder, Forrest Lucas — who used his relationship with Vice President Mike Pence to help secure the Hammonds’ release.” • Ugly. Bad.

Class Warfare

“Worker Surveillance and Class Power” [Law & Political Economy]. “A rational firm, when deciding which tasks to automate, would have reasons to target the specialized skills that give workers bargaining power. To illustrate: with GPS data from millions of trips across town, Uber may be able to predict the best path from point A to point B fairly well, accounting not just for map distance, but also for current traffic, weather, the time of day, etc. In other words, its algorithms can replicate drivers’ subtle, local knowledge. If that knowledge was once relatively rare, then Uber’s algorithms may enable it to push down wages and erode working conditions.”

“In Rural America, Violent Crime Reaches Highest Level in a Decade” [Governing]. “The violent crime rate in rural areas, meanwhile, has climbed above the national average for the first time in 10 years…. The explanations for this change are familiar ones. Not all rural areas are poor, but many have lost jobs as factories have closed and farming has become increasingly consolidated. Lack of employment has naturally led to increases in poverty, which is closely associated with crime. The opioid epidemic has hit rural America particularly hard, and methamphetamine remains a major problem in many small towns. While there’s more rural crime than in the past, there’s also a shortage of law enforcement. Dwindling tax bases mean fewer sheriff’s deputies doing the work.” • No babies, though, at least none that matter.

News of The Wired

“‘Find Your Passion’ Is Awful Advice” [The Atlantic]. “‘If passions are things found fully formed, and your job is to look around the world for your passion—it’s a crazy thought,’ [Stanford’s Greg] Walton told me. ‘It doesn’t reflect the way I or my students experience school, where you go to a class and have a lecture or a conversation, and you think, That’s interesting. It’s through a process of investment and development that you develop an abiding passion in a field.'” • More essentialist brain damage…

“‘Everything we’ve heard about global urbanization turns out to be wrong’ – researchers” [Place]. “The United Nations predicts the world’s urban population is expected to grow to 70 percent by 2050 from 55 percent at present after becoming majority urban for the first time around 2008. Not so, say researchers based at the European Commission. Using a definition made possible by advances in geospatial technology that uses high-resolution satellite images to determine the number of people living in a given area, they estimate 84 percent of the world’s population, or almost 6.4 billion people, live in urban areas. ‘Everything we’ve heard about global urbanization turns out to be wrong,’ said lead researcher Lewis Dijkstra. Asia and Africa, which are routinely cited as majority-rural continents that are rapidly urbanizing, turn out to be well ahead of figures in the U.N.’s latest estimates…. The reason for the past errors is simple, [European Commission lead researcher Lewis Dijkstra] said, because countries self-report their demographic statistics to the U.N. and they use widely different standards.” • Jackpot….

“Single subatomic particle illuminates mysterious origins of cosmic rays” [Nature]. “A single subatomic particle detected at the South Pole last September is helping to solve a major cosmic mystery: what creates electrically charged cosmic rays, the most energetic particles in nature. Follow-up studies by more than a dozen observatories suggest that researchers have, for the first time, identified a distant galaxy as a source of high-energy neutrinos.” • Science is popping…

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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 (LR):

LR: “Don’t be fooled by the marks on this pear. They are only skin deep. Underneath is the most delicious pear you ever tasted, if you like pears.” And who doesn’t love pears?

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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. Wukchumni

    “Pardoned by Trump, Oregon ranchers ride home in style on Pence ally’s private jet” [Los Angeles Times]. “A day earlier, ranchers Dwight and Steven Hammond were prisoners at the minimum-security federal prison on Terminal Island in San Pedro, serving five-year sentences for arson. But on Wednesday, following a Tuesday pardon by President Trump, the father-and-son pair got to fly home in style to Burns, Ore., on an oil company’s private jet, riding alongside the company’s founder, Forrest Lucas — who used his relationship with Vice President Mike Pence to help secure the Hammonds’ release.” • Ugly. Bad.
    Maybe the reign of error can pardon John Orr, if he’s intent on pardoning arsonists…

    John Leonard Orr is a former fire captain and arson investigator for the Glendale Fire Department in Southern California and novelist who was indicted and later convicted for serial arson and four counts of murder. Orr had originally wanted to be a police officer, but had failed his entrance exam; instead he became a dedicated fire investigator and career fire officer. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s Los Angeles was plagued by a series of fires that cost millions of dollars in damages and claimed four lives. John Orr was found to be the cause of most of those fires. During his arson spree, Orr was given the nickname The Pillow Pyro by arson investigators.


    1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

      Howdy pardoner:

      Sounds like a presidential invitation to shoot first. There can be no pardon after that. Another on the pile of tipping points?


    1. Roger Smith

      Does it matter? I doubt these clowns know the difference anymore either. It is all about the PR response. The stage play 12 Boys in Thailand is over. Primaries are starting. A year and a half later some two bit hack is still investigating thin air.

      1. Roger Smith

        Oh, it totally slipped my mind, but the upcoming Trump-Putin summit. That’s the ticket here.

        1. Richard

          Of course. It almost seems too obvious! But I think we’re entering a less subtle age.

            1. Christopher Fay

              Peter Strzok avoided answering questions due to advice from FBI counsel about a continuing investigation.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          msnbs, which seems to be a platform from which trial balloons are launched, has been suggesting since this announcement that Trump must cancel, or at least postpone, the Putin meeting.

          The possibility of detente has, apparently, produced something of a panic.

          1. sleepy

            I’ll just leave this here without further ado:

            Chris Hayes
            ‏Verified account @chrislhayes

            Keep thinking about this line: “Given all this, it seems increasingly likely that the Russians have pulled off the most consequential covert action operation since Germany put Lenin on a train back to Petrograd in 1917.”

            1. voteforno6

              If these hacks were really that consequential, are they saying that the release of those (legitimate) emails did impact the election? If that’s the case, then what was in those emails that swung the election? Evidence of corruption on the part of the Clintons? Proof that the DNC intervened in the primaries on behalf of Clinton? I’m not sure if the people pushing this “scandal” have really thought this through. If this all happened as they have alleged, then they’re just as guilty.

              1. sleepy

                The ultimate tragedy in all of this is that assuming this is a hoax perpetrated by the powers that be, the scam will never see the light of day and there will be no consequences to the “journalists” and government agencies involved since it would absolutely call into question the legitimacy of the state.

                The fact that those entities would go this far shows a level of fear and desperation on their part.

    2. ambrit

      More interestingly, will Russia extradite the charged?
      If this isn’t an example of ‘showboating,’ then what is?

        1. Code Name D

          Indeed. But if they did, the JD would have to actually present their evidence. Never happen of course, but its kind of fun to speculate.

          So no legislation to harden are election system from further tampering though.

      1. Wukchumni

        Why not a bakers dozen worth of indictments on Friday the 13th?

        The Twelve Chairs is a classic satirical novel by the Odessan Soviet authors Ilf and Petrov, released in 1928. Its plot follows characters attempting to obtain jewelry hidden in a chair.


      2. The Rev Kev

        Apparently the Russian Constitution forbids their citizens from being extradited to foreign jurisdictions so Mueller drawing up this list of Russians is a safe bet as they will never tell their side in a Washington court – unlike his last fiasco. Mysteriously Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale not on the latest list.

        1. ambrit

          I am curious about Comrades Badanov and Fatale not being indicted. They are core element of ‘Usual Suspects Division.’
          So far, no guidance from Red Bunny Slippers Network.
          You are right. This being Friday 13th, perfect time for Muller to inaugurate ‘Red Scare.’ “Boo!”

    3. armchair

      Given that Mulligan President had a week to prepare a response, I would have expected something less flaccid than the WH’s response, today. My speculation is that Mueller is flooding the basement with what seem to be innocuous indictments. WH does not appear concerned about tying Guccifer 2.0 directly to GRU. My speculation is that Mulligan President tightly controls the WH message, and does not grasp subtlety. This is going to have some bite, especially if it goes unchallenged. In my dreams, the WH will be carried off its foundations, in a flood of hooker pee.

    4. voteforno6

      I think so – from what I remember, the previous indictments were related to the operations of troll farms. These concern the DNC and Podesta hacks.

  2. Bill Smith

    The new indictment…

    The Russians thought Trump had only a 25% chance of beating Hillary. (page 18.)

    Did Google turn over the search terms that the GRU used to search the internet for information or was that information retrieved by the US in another way? One much can assume the US might have the IPs of a lot of GRU computers…? The GRU did a lot of internet searching for information on how to do things… Just like the rest of us?

    1. UserFriendly

      Yeah, that is what I want to know. And whoever the wikileaks contact aka ‘Organization 1’ is, why are they so stupid to not use pgp for all email conversations? or did the pgp bug get exploited here? or did the NSA just crack it with brute force?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Or — surprise surprise! — all the tools being pushed by the crypto community (especially including Tor and Bitcoin) had backdoors installed from the very beginning. And surely the Russians, whose intelligence services do tend to have trust issues, would assume this?

        1. Jeffrey Radice

          Lambert, this is perhaps not far from the truth. It is a very astute comment to call out the trust issues of Russian intelligence services. Of course one might argue that TLAs the world over have trust issues.

          From my own experience, U.S. DoD certification process for digital communications devices involves reams of paperwork, meeting tab upon tab of excel-sheeted requirements in the form of SRGs, disclosures, information assurance testing, interoperability testing, more paperwork, remediation plans, updates. It’s a lucrative business to sell to DoD, but they extract their pound of flesh in exchange. Of course that limits the competition to companies who can navigate the process.

          Conversely, Russia MoD certification process for similar products involves stripping all crypto* and then submitting to a form of code audit where they insert markers in the system. Think of it in terms of barium into the blood stream. My presumption is they are testing for potential backdoors among other things. For one product, FSB requested a feature (I fancy the thought for Putin’s personal hardware) which would basically factory reset a device after a call ends. Wipe on hangup. It’s certainly a different form of paranoia.

          *Exporting encryption or devices with cryptographic elements is particularly fraught, from the U.S. to Russia. Importing into Russia is equally difficult. So the safest course is to strip any iffy cryptographic elements out and let the Russians put them in either with bulk encryptors or they have their own GOST certified algorithms, ciphers and libraries.

          1. Jeffrey Radice

            Poor metaphor, barium in the blood stream, what I meant was Iodine-131 in the bloodstream, to test the thyroid.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Yeah, I know. It’s ZeroHedge. But the last graf made me laugh. Here ya go:

        However, Clinton’s difficulty in accepting blame for her defeat – blame which she has continued to deflect on unproven “Russian meddling,” James Comey, misogyny and a host of other factors – suggests that the woman who has come the closest to becoming an American president still feels that she is as electable as ever, despite popular sentiment to the contrary. Whether another embarrassing defeat for Clinton would be necessary to permanently dislodge her presidential ambitions is anyone’s guess.

        1. ambrit

          My question is, how long will she live? Her medical history is not too promising on the longevity front.
          Maybe we will see a Borg Queen in the White House!
          “Prepare to be assimilated. #Resistanceisfutile.”

        2. Cat Afficionado

          Rule #1 of Zerohedge, you do not read the comments on Zerohedge.

          Rule #2 of Zerohedge, you do not read the comments on Zerohedge.

          Other than that, I have found that it provides a reasonable variety of contra-talking-heads viewpoints on global financial trends and events. They do not dish out quite as much criticism of the GOP as they used to, and that trend toward alignment with right-wing ideas is a little annoying, but I’ll still take it over CNN/MSNBC/Fox/Breitbart any day. As far as one-stop-shops for morning financial news updates on the toilet, ZH is still my go-to lol.

          1. Yves Smith

            We don’t link to ZeroHedge.

            1. 40% to 50% of their posts are wrong, and the percentage is higher for ones on banking and the Fed. This is not just my opinion. This view is widely shared among money managers who nevertheless feel they have to read ZH because it also has hedgie gossip.

            2. Worse, ZH does not give a rat’s ass about accuracy.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I read the indictment.

      Perhaps this is standard operating procedure, but so far as I can tell — more technical readers please correct em — there’s no evidence whatever. I see quoted material, but no indication of the provenance of the material. Presumably the “intelligence community”?

      Hence, I maintain my posture that until we have evidence that the public can see and assess, we’re looking at something on a spectrum that runs from zero information to disinformation.

      Although I imagine donut twitter is going nuts….

      1. todde

        indictment is the charge. that is all it is. Part of due process

        A lawyer can explain it better

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          So, lawyers. Suppose none of the Russians indicted show up to contest the case. What is the status of the claims made in the case, for the purpose of other cases? (If that’s the right question to ask).

          1. Carl

            An indictment is a charging document which explains, as briefly as possible, how the particular facts fit the statutory elements of the offense (e.g., on such and such date, defendant committed the offense of assault, by striking the complainant X in the face with his hand). Don’t expect a lot of expansion beyond that, as prosecutors are bound to prove the allegations in the indictment.

        2. voteforno6

          That’s my understanding as well – they’re not actually required to show all their evidence for the indictment. That being said, the best evidence that has been publicly presented is, in my opinion, rather flimsy. If they haven anything more substantive than they presented in that intelligence report early last year, it would to come from sources of rather, umm, sketchy provenance. So, my guess is that they’re not actually expecting to go to trial – this was done for show. The timing (Friday afternoon, upcoming Trump / Putin meeting) would certainly lend credence to that hypothesis as well. If Putin really felt like messing around with them, he could put one or more of the indicted people on a plane to the U.S.

      2. DJG

        Lambert: The last set of indictments and this set of indictments are of un-extraditable Russians in Russia. So Mueller like Palin can see Russia from afar. Yet any American jurisdiction can indict anyone that the local grandstanders please–how about the Pope? But if you can’t extradite the perp, you don’t have much of a case.

        Nevertheless, I see people crowing on my Facetobook page–these indictments are proof of the coup!

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          So far as I can tell, then, we’re still at square one as far as evidence goes. (It may exist, but we haven’t seen it).

          We don’t have the DNC servers (and is there even a chain of custody for them?)

          We don’t have provenance for the logs and the email and the other quoted material in the indictment either. Some of it is quite detailed. Where on earth did it come from? And attribution is hard, always has been. The presence or absence of an indictment doesn’t change that.

          From the supposed 17 agencies signing off on the original report to the public faces of the intelligence community — Brennan (a torturer), Clapper (a perjurer), and Mueller (an entrapment artist) — there’s every reason to be cautious; especially when you consider that the essence of the matter is what it has been since November 2016: The intelligence community is attempting to exercise veto power over both the selection of a President and (considering the timing of this indictment) his foreign policy. That’s a lot of power to leave lying in the street…

          1. Byron the Light Bulb

            Aren’t you being a little obtuse? Attribution is not hard when you are monitoring traffic and a GRU officer forgets to use his VPN and proxy server when pretending to be Guccifer 2.0 from Khoroshovskoye Shosse 80.

            As for digital forensics protocol, see the DOJ’s manual, “Searching and Seizing Computers and Obtaining Electronic Evidence in Criminal Investigations Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section Criminal Division” page 78: “In many cases, rather than seize an entire computer for off-site review, agents can instead create a digital copy of the hard drive that is identical to the original in every relevant respect. This copy is called an “image copy”—a copy that “duplicates every bit and byte on the target drive including all files, the slack space, Master File Table, and metadata in exactly the order they appear on the original.” United States v. Vilar, 2007 WL 1075041, *35 n.22 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 4, 2007), quoting Orin S. Kerr, Searches and Seizures in a Digital World, 119 Harv. L. Rev. 531 (2005); see also United States v. Stierhoff, 477 F. Supp. 2d 423, 439 & n.8 (D.R.I. 2007). An image copy cannot be created by simply dragging and dropping icons or running conventional backup programs; the process of making one usually involves opening the computer case and connecting the investigator’s own hardware directly to the hard drive. In some cases, investigators will make the image copy on-site; in others, investigators will seize the computer hardware from the premises and make the image copy off-site.”

            1. Todde

              When I worked for general dynamics the feds had to seize a couple of servers because NK was hacking into our system.

              The imaged the hard drive, sealed the computers and had our z IT dept head sign a form stating that nothing was tampered with by the investigators.

              Doesn’t seem like that happened in this case.

              However, if you don’t want to be investigated for colluding with Russians, don’t meet with Russians talking about hills emails.

              It doesn’t have to be true, just credible

            2. Yves Smith

              Attribution is hard. Any pro will tell you that.

              The idea that members of the GRU, or for that matter, any competent hacker, would leave bread crumbs that lead right back to them is pretty dubious.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                For example:

                More than 95 percent of the malicious links used for the hackers’ phishing attempts were generated during Moscow office hours — between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday to Friday.

                A clue* that points right at the Russians!!!!!!

                * Sadly, the HTML blink tag has been deprecated….

      3. sleepy

        Though I recognize none of these indictments will lead to a trial due to the defendants’ absence, if they did, the defendants could demand full access to those DNC computers, full access to any testing results, the right to test those computers themselves, and most importantly, the right to demand a proper chain of custody for those computers–in other words, who had custody and control of those computers from the date of the hacking to the presentation of those hacked computers in court as evidence.

        Think Mueller’s whiz kids didn’t pass evidence 101? This was never going to be an actual case heard in court. Talk about prosecution as propaganda.

  3. Richard

    It does say all 12 are members of the GRU, and were also involved in planting malware and stealing data. These are not the phish farm type activities at the heart of the earlier indictment. I mean, is that (phish farming) what the GRU does? Talk about nothing job (calling David Graeber!)
    Either Mueller has a bunch of new evidence (from the actual hardware) or he’s concocting a story, like the practiced, state liar he is.

    1. Romancing The Loan

      Since it is even more unlikely that these guys show up to respond than it was for the last set (one of whom did – I wonder whether theirs has been withdrawn or dismissed already) it could all be based on hearsay from the DNC and we’ll never find out.

    2. Peter VE

      Mueller got a shock when the attorneys for the Internet Research Agency showed up in court with a discovery request. Ooopppps. He’s busy trying to delay the response. Now he has to find the evidence he based the indictment on.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      How do we know the source, or even the existence, of the malware? Unknown.

      Presumably, this will all come out at trial, but since the Russians won’t show up, the trial won’t be adversarial, and hence the intelligence community will be able to say whatever it likes.

      1. todde

        they would never get a conviction in a fair trial.

        The chain of evidence has been corrupted.

        1. Plenue

          Assuming there was ever any evidence to begin with. These indictments are PR; they’re a flaccid attempt to show the investigation is On To Something™, without ever having to be in a position to actually substantiate any claims made.

          I kind of wish even just one of these Russians would walk into a US courtroom: “Okay. Prove it.”

      2. Byron the Light Bulb

        That reminds me, “FRCP 6(e)(4) Sealed Indictment. The magistrate judge to whom an indictment is returned may direct that the indictment be kept secret until the defendant is in custody or has been released pending trial. The clerk must then seal the indictment, and no person may disclose the indictment’s existence except as necessary to issue or execute a warrant or summons.”

        The not-sealed indictment mentions XTunnel malware, the nature of which is not state-of-the-art, but rather uses open source technology developed circa 2004 to aid VoIP communication. Therefore, XTunnel relied on obscurity in that the software prophylactics weren’t looking for it, and exfiltration of data is of less concern that the initial infiltration. The other malware, XAgent, appears to be standard cybercrime malware originally purposed for the iPhone, retooled for the Dem networks.

        Another interesting facet, only GRU employees are [publicly] indicted, the GRU organization being departmental, compartmental, and military in nature, thus the employees acting under [presumably lawful orders, at least in Russia, not the US]. What is missing is the involvement of the FSB, a stand-alone Federal institution under the direct authority of the President, and the ultimate customer of the data exfiltrated. Thus privy to the full scope of the operation and goals it sought to achieve.

        1. Plenue

          Someone over at Moon of Alabama pointed out the GRU is military intelligence. So battlefield recon, spies behind enemy lines, that sort of thing. You wouldn’t use them for any kind of election interference op anyway.

          Why do I get the feeling some DC internet just grabbed the first Russian intelligence agency they could find an acronym for?

          1. Bill Smith

            That’s not true. The Soviet Union had a long history of the GRU / Naval GRU and the KGB squabbling for control of the spying in the US.

            Read for example “Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America” by John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev


    Regarding violence in rural America: I can’t help but think that the catalyst for turning the economic stagnation and opioid crisis into violence is just how many guns there are in rural America, especially in combination with the toxic “good guy with a gun” mentality of American gun culture.

    1. Duke of Prunes

      Have you spent much time in rural America? It’s always had a lot of guns. When I was in high school (late 70s/early 80s), kids even brought their guns to school to show them off or go hunting after school. I don’t recall any shootings. No, something else has changed – because the guns haven’t.

      1. Wukchumni

        Where we live is pretty rural, and I hear 10-15 gun shots a week in the vicinity on average i’d say. Crime is pretty much nonexistent here, and the last murder was in 1914, until a melee with Norteños & Sureños (Mexican gangs) on the river left 2 gangbangers dead 5 years ago. Nobody in town knew either of the deceased as they weren’t from the area.

        Now as far as suicides go, we’ve had 6 or 7 in the past couple of years-all males, about half of which were on account of a hand cannon.

      2. JBird

        No, something else has changed – because the guns haven’t.

        Many do not want to acknowledge that because that would mean they would have to acknowledge the very real, very healthy, growing dsytopia is explained by something other than the Deplorables and their Gunz narrative, which is at least incomplete, if not just wrong; not acknowledging it means the easy, comfortable acceptance of the narrative lie, whereas the latter requires the painful work of rethinking, exploration, and change.

      3. voteforno6

        I don’t know – having grown up in a rural-adjacent area, I don’t recall people accumulating stockpiles like they are now. It seems like gun owners are more intense about their ownership than they were in the past.

        1. polecat

          After all, our government is sooo benign and benevolent-like .. right ?

          Ya better watch out, as there’s a brick wall behind that curtain.

      4. sleepy

        I live in Iowa and while there doesn’t seem to be much violence in rural areas. I would say that virtually all farmers have some sort of weapon at home generally a shotgun, and lots of folks are hunters. I don’t seem to hear much at all about handguns though. I have lived in a town of 27,000 for 20 yrs now which has had something on the order of 5 murders in that time and I believe all but 1 were with knives.

        I’ve been all over Canada as well and hunting rifles and shotguns are common, just not many gun murders.

  5. Rojo

    The indictment also claims the hackers scammed $95K for hardware.

    Putin can’t find $95K to subvert democracy and undermine The West?

  6. Jim Haygood

    Official panic sets in:

    The Trump administration is actively considering tapping into the nation’s emergency supply of crude oil as political pressure grows to rein in rising gasoline prices before congressional elections in November.

    No decision has been made to release crude from the 660-million-barrel Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but options under review range from a 5 million barrel test sale to a larger release of 30 million barrels.

    Congress has already mandated the sale of 11 million barrels starting as soon as Oct. 1.


    No word yet on setting up a Strategic Soybean Reserve to bail out midwestern farmers burnt by retaliatory tariffs.

    I wish the price of oil would just stop hassling me.” — Donald Hoover-Trump

    1. allan

      As our Trump’s friend and ally Saudi Crown Prince and Modernizer™ MBS likes to put it,
      That’s a nice two-chamber congressional majority you have there.
      It would be a shame if anything happened to it.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Speaking of granaries, the Chinese have been preparing for this trade war since the Sui dynasty:


      State granaries at Liyang and Huiluo.

      If it is (or was) good for China, it’s good enough for America.

    3. Carolinian

      Don’t those farmers get quite a lot of US subsidy already?

      Just askin’.

      And a bit of panic here in SC over the tariff implications for BMW and the various other foreign transplants and parts suppliers. Senator Lindsey says we should give Trump some space for his big poker bluff.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Incredibly BMW is America’s largest vehicle exporter. The US is the land of the F-150 and the home of the Silverado, while BMW don’t even make a pickup. Sadly, foreigners don’t seem keen on our macho-styled pickup land yachts with their billowing yards of sheet metal:

        When it comes to full-size pickup trucks, this is largely a North American market, on a global basis. Yes, you see full-size pickup trucks (RAM 1500, for example) in Sweden, but that is one of the rarest exceptions. The global pickup truck market is midsize (and smaller), such as the Toyota Hilux, Nissan Navara, Volkswagen Amarok, Mitsubishi L200, and Ford Ranger.

        Those pickup trucks tend to be manufactured in various local places, such as Thailand, and sold in the Asian, African, European, and South American geographies.



        You’d think our moderate rebels would be required to Buy American …


        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          America could be a bigger market for BMW if it could make (green) cars the 90% could afford.

          Then, it doesn’t have to rely on exporting (from here) so much.

          A starting price of $30,000 is a bit too high.

        2. Oregoncharles

          There haven’t been compact, fuel-efficient pickups available in the US since the 90’s. I’d like to replace my truck – which I practically live in – but all the options are at least 30 years old. We were looking at a 1977 Chevy Luv. 4 wheel drive!

          1. Inode_buddha

            Dunno, my Colorado gets ~26 on the highway, I think thats amazingly good for a small truck. Its the most basic work truck model, manual *everything* with the 4-cyl 5-speed stick shift. Quite happy with it, it even takes a half ton in the bed and knowing me I’ll use all of it on work.

    4. voteforno6

      So, what’s the emergency – that they could lose Congress? Well, the refreshing thing about the Trump Interregnum is that at least the corruption is out in the open.

  7. Wukchumni

    I don’t what it is, but I really don’t like the texture and taste of pears.

    Am I the only one that feels this way?

    1. Lee

      Me too. Also, I cannot abide an avocado that many would consider to be at the peak of ripeness. Before then they’re ok.

    2. Carey

      Regarding the NYT Trump-Putin “Love Story”: Words fail me, other than the thought that to be a member of the 9.9% apparently now requires believing more than six impossible things before breakfast. Remember the “Reality-based community”? That really wasn’t so long ago…

      1. roxy

        Not long ago the puerile Stephen Colbert said that Trump’s mouth was Putin’s “c— holster”. It’s okay cuz, um, cuz we wuz robbed!

      2. Richard

        I know. That Bush era remark inspired the last stupid reason to vote democrat that I ever took seriously: “Well, at least they can acknowledge reality. I mean, Obama’s a smart man, right?”

      1. Larry Y

        Asian apple pears (Japanese/Korean/Chinese) have a nice crispness and coolness to them.

        Need more people to try them, though.

    3. Stillfeelinthebern

      One of the few fruits I do not like! Because of the gritty texture. Have 2 trees and I gave a box to a neighbor about 10 years ago. She brought back dehydrated slices and those were delicious and not so gritty. I now like them dehydrated. Try it, they are naturally very sweet.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Yes! But you have to peel them, so there’s considerable labor involved.

        I finally realized I could get flat slices that dry evenly by quartering the fruit, then slicing it parallel with one of the cut faces. (Clearer once you try it.) All different sizes, but flat. Maybe everybody else already does it that way.

    4. Oregoncharles

      I love ’em, because I like soft fruits, for the luxury; but pears have a grit in them that few other fruits have. I once tried making pear butter; bad idea. It concentrated the grit and was almost inedible.

      Might be the combination of softness and grit you don’t like – but I can’t explain Lee’s aversion to ripe avocados.

  8. John B

    Re The Bezzle: “Digital Exile: How I Got Banned for Life from AirBnB” [Medium].

    Retaliation for bad reviews is a sinister practice — and more sinister coming from a platform as large as AirBnB. In 2016, Congress passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, which prohibits the enforcement of form contracts that prohibit or impose penalties for reviews. So AirBnB presumably doesn’t say anything about that in its contract — or at least, AirBnB can’t sue you under its contract for writing an off-site review. But does the law allow AirBnB to go ahead and impose penalties anyway? That seems to make the law meaningless. The law is supposed to be enforced by the FTC. Might be worth a complaint to them. Assuming the FTC still exists?

    1. lyman alpha blob

      I find it hard to sympathize with the guy, especially after nuggets like this one:

      Imagine waking up one day and no longer being able to check your Gmail, buy things on Amazon, or book an Uber.

      Why, yes in fact I can imagine it. Like most people over the age of 25-30, which I imagine is still the majority of people on the planet, I spent most of my life doing that and continue to deliberately avoid all three of those companies today. It really isn’t hard and I still manage to eat, travel, communicate with friends and relatives and stay extremely well informed.

      These people who depend on apps so much really need to get a life. It’s not like Airbnb is preventing him from renting a room somewhere. There are other companies who perform a similar service of facilitating the same often illegal lodging that Airbnb does, and of course he could always stay in a traditional lodging establishment. I hear most towns have things called hotels and motels nowadays. And if he lifts his arm and waves his hand a little bit, something called a taxi may even pick him up and deliver him to exactly where he wants to go.

    1. UserFriendly

      If you saw this already check it again. I followed it up with 2 more tweets. Additionally, your worksheet has PA-8 as currently R while IE has it as currently D.
      The simplest way to fix your worksheet would be to update PA-8 as current D (even though current PA-8 is somewhere else and is actually an R), and to Swap PA-17 so that it is a D and Lamb as the incumbent.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I periodically update the worksheet. It’s not a “living document,” hence does not need “fixing.” That’s why the post title and the table title are dated.

        1. UserFriendly

          Well, fine. Then on your next update I’d at least change the incumbent party on PA-8 so that it matches Inside Elections.

          Even though whatever they did with PA it has nothing to do with reality because of the redistricting. The current districts held by democrats are 1, 2, 13, 14, 17, 18.
          After the election if they win everything at least tilt D they will have:
          2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 18.
          17 – Toss up
          1- Tilt R
          10 – Likely R

          IE has Dems currently in I’ve Bolded what isn’t reality.
          R’s in
          1, 5, 6, 7, 10, 17
          So they lied a net of 1 seat to the R’s and don’t cover:
          Seats that are R and will be D
          3, 4
          Seats that are D and will be R
          13, 14

  9. BoulderMike

    I wonder if you could stop publishing “The Five Horseman of the Techpocalypse”. Not sure if I am the only one, but I don’t find it clever, amusing, or constructive. IMHO the “tech” companies are literally printing money, and far more than the government. I think people need to recognize that the billionaires are literally printing money out of thin air, and that it is a literal wealth transfer from ordinary citizens to the wealthiest .1%. How is it done, IMHO, here is what I think: Say the “real” value of our economy based on productivity is $20,000. This is shared amongst all participants in the economy. Now the wealthiest members of society, the billionaires, inflate the value of their stock causing the value of the economy to rise to $50,000. The $30,000 increase is not “real”, but just pumped up stock value. Now, during this increase the billionaires gradually sell off their stock, all while giving themselves more stock through options, etc. They take their “winnings” as Jeff Bezos refers to his wealth and invest in private equity funds. The private equity funds, or “the billionaires club”, or “the shadow people” quietly gobble up all the existing assets in society. Eventually the chickens come home to roost and something causes the real economic value to drop back down to $20,000. The billionaires have more than $20,000 in real assets through selling off stock and acquiring assets, and the rest of us have lost money through drops in mutual funds, etc. So, in the end there will be ~$20,000 in real economic value but rather than being shared across all members of society it is primarily owned by the wealthiest. Of course if the market never drops, great, but it is hard to believe the large increase in the stock market which is not backed by true productivity gains can be sustained. I just can’t understand why stocks like Amazon would go up everyday. Seems that they should be priced at their perceived value and absent a new event or new information should remain relatively constant or stable.
    Anyway, just believe that this massive wealth transfer from ordinary people to the wealthiest people is a very bad and dangerous thing, and prefer not to be reminded of it every day. If others like this chart and I am in the minority, OK.
    As to how is, for example, Jeff Bezos manipulating Amazon stock. Here is an example of what I think he is doing:

    $144,500,000,000.00 85000000.0000 $1,700.0000
    $1,725,000,000.00 1000000.0000 $1,725.0000
    $148,350,000,000.00 86000000.0000 $1,725.0000

    Basically if you say he owns 85 million shares at say $1,700 a share it is worth $144.5 billion. If he uses his other money to buy 1 million additional shares at $1,725, thus inflating the value of the stock by $25 per share, he now owns 86 million shares at $1,75 per share. He spent $1.725 billion of his own money but he gained $3.85 billion in overall stock value for a net gain of $2.125 billion. I imagine in today’s corrupt world what he is doing is legal but it certainly seems like manipulation, and as I say above, like he is literally printing money. Of course this all assumes that the institutional investors who buy Amazon shares for mutual funds, etf’s, etc. follow his lead. It appears that they are doing just that.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Good point on what this chart is actually tracking. But that does seem to be part of the NC core mission.

      Watch the lines climb higher and higher and see the shadow corollary that is your own meager wages, savings, etc. dissolving drip by drip.

      1. BoulderMike

        Exactly, I agree. I just don’t find being reminded to be a positive experience. And, to Lambert yes I do try to skip it but it is hard to miss sometimes. Anyway, good work otherwise, I just have a great fear of what the rise of the “techs” means for us peons.

    2. Dugh

      Great explanation of what is happening. The incredible acceleration of unearned wealth concentration, due to QE and other mechanisms, will have long-term, multi-generational deleterious effects. As Richard Fisher explained in his 2014 LSE lecture, “QE enabled the rich and the quick” and was “a massive gift”.
      Richard Fisher/London School of Economics

  10. Lee

    China not being self-sufficient in soy sauce is about as nutty as us deindustrialized the heartland. Kidding! I think…

    It appears, admittedly based on one source linked below, that China is in terms of calories, food self sufficient. The main thing a shortage of soy beans would produce in China would be to curtail their eating higher on the hog, as it were.

    Is China imposing tariffs on Smithfield Foods products? If so, that also seems nutty.

  11. DJG

    Leonard Leo and the Catholic lock on the Court.

    As a bad Catholic and a bad Buddhist, I can assure you that these people aren’t Catholics, unless you consider Francisco Franco a good Catholic.

    And there’s this, accidentally mentioned in the middle:
    The documents released as part of the FOIA request show Leo intervening multiple times on behalf of conservative student and faculty candidates, and promoting curricula on “Law and Economics,” which predominantly favors conservative legal positions by evaluating issues in terms of financial efficiency rather than justice.

    Financial efficiency? Try laying that one on Saint Francis of Assisi.

    They are just the usual grifters, cheaters, and looters, this time with a holy-water font in the dining room and a large extra-gruesome crucifix over the biblical-matrimonial bed. Anyone who is Catholic has seen these types more than once.

    1. allan

      Pruitt’s Dinner With Cardinal Accused of Abuse Was Kept Off Public Schedule [NYT]

      Scott Pruitt, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, dined last year in Rome with Cardinal George Pell, a prominent climate-science denialist and Vatican leader who was also facing sexual abuse allegations. The E.P.A. later released official descriptions of the dinner that intentionally did not mention the cardinal’s presence, according to three current and former E.P.A. officials.

      Kevin Chmielewski, Mr. Pruitt’s former deputy chief of staff for operations, said in an interview that top political appointees at the agency feared that the meeting would reflect poorly on Mr. Pruitt if it were made public. Twenty days after the dinner, authorities in Australia charged Cardinal Pell with sexual assault; he has denied the charges. …

      The dinner Cardinal Pell attended ultimately took place June 9 at La Terrazza, a restaurant in the five-star Hotel Eden overlooking Rome. …

      At the dinner, Mr. Pruitt and Cardinal Pell discussed a plan of Mr. Pruitt’s to stage public debates challenging the established science of climate change, the email shows.

      The emails also show that much of Mr. Pruitt’s time in Rome was spent attending events recommended or arranged by Leonard A. Leo, executive vice president of the Federalist Society, a conservative organization that promotes limits on federal regulations. The May emails suggest that Mr. Leo was involved in planning for a dinner. …

      Just the sort of guy you want vetting SCOTUS nominees.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      “Try laying that one on Saint Francis of Assisi.”

      Pope Innocent the III was pretty Catholic before he met Francis and was moved. The Catholic Church has always been torn between its status as the imperial religion, scripture, and the conflict between Peter (James) and Saul (guess who I support!).

      Yes, there is a particularly regressive Catholic group in the Supreme Court that would receive nothing more than a lightly worded admonishment in a very indirect way from the Popes I remember. Perhaps, Francis on his good days might give a more direct, lightly worded admonishment.

      Denying their Catholic status because they aren’t “good Catholics” absolves consistent institutional problems and part of a very real tradition and maybe not what attracted the ilk of Scalia and his progeny but definitely how they think or what conclusions they will draw.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Leonard Leo and his Supremes certainly reflect a very strong strain in the Catholic church, despite the rhetoric. One that seems especially strong in the Us, in defiance of the typical attitudes of American Catholics.

  12. Left in Wisconsin

    On Truman: He also vetoed Taft-Hartley, the famous “slave labor act” that, in retrospect, was the first and most important act leading to the crippling of unions in the country.

    In case you are wondering, support for TH was bi-partisan. On the vote to override:

    The result was the Taft-Hartley Act, and it was passed by politicians from both of the bosses’ parties. The House vote was 331-83, with Democrats voting 106-71 in favor of the measure. The Senate passed it by a 68-to-25 margin, with 20 Democrats voting to override the veto and 22 voting to uphold it.

    I couldn’t find a list of the actual vote(rs) but according to Alex Cockburn it was not just southern Dems who voted to override.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Yes, he was no raging socialist TSTL. To me, the point is how far to the right our political discourse has shifted.

        1. pretzelattack

          our political discourse in 1952 was framed by joe mccarthy. i’m not clear on how truman’s veto reflected the contemporary political discourse; by your own figures a majority of democrats favored the act, as well as republicans. appreciate it if you could frame your arguments without sarcasm and insults, tia tstl.

          1. pretzelattack

            of course, this was aided by joseph kennedy and mccarthy’s long friendship with the kennedy family, who solidly supported mccarthy’s smears of leftists till it eventually became politically unpopular. to me, the point is how right wing the democrats since ww2 have been. the late 60’s were an aberration, but that would be a more relevant starting point if you want to make a point about the “discourse” shifting.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Oh Lord, make a bear. But not yet!” — Lambert S

    A chart from Dr Ed Yardeni shows that the bull/bear ratio in the Investors Intelligence [oxymoron alert!] sentiment survey is 2.83 — on the high side, but well down from its crazed spike above 5 in early January:


    Likewise the AAII sentiment survey, focused on individual investors, has receded to 1.47 after a wild pop to nearly 4 in early January.


    As market commentator Kevin Muir might say, “Show me the exuberance.

    Meanwhile, all of the Five Horsemen rose today, with four setting record highs:

    Amazon ….. +0.91% [record high]
    Microsoft …. +1.19% [record high]
    Alphabet ….. +0.36% [record high]
    Facebook … +0.19% [record high]
    Apple …….. +0.16% [1.4% below record high]

    The generals are on a roll, but the troops are still acting tired.

    1. Tom_Doak

      Hasn’t the market peak ALREADY HAPPENED, at the peak of exuberance months ago? Does it really have to be exuberant all the way down?

  14. Left in Wisconsin

    Uber may be able to predict the best path from point A to point B fairly well, accounting not just for map distance, but also for current traffic, weather, the time of day, etc. In other words, its algorithms can replicate drivers’ subtle, local knowledge. If that knowledge was once relatively rare, then Uber’s algorithms may enable it to push down wages and erode working conditions.”

    This sounds to me, as with much “leftist” teeth-gnashing, that the writer has no specific knowledge of the occupation he is trying to write about. First of all, he sounds like he has a customer’s, rather than a driver’s, sense of “best path.” And for that matter, a cab customer’s rather than Uber customer’s (which I guess is a good thing), since doesn’t Uber negotiate fares (and thus driver compensation) in advance and so regardless of route? What, for Uber, does “best path” even mean?

    Second, the notion that anyone with a GPS and Uber Siri will be able to replicate a knowledgeable urban driver is ludicrous. Much more likely is that Uber will drive all of the knowledgeable cab drivers out of the business and then it will be only old folks who remember there ever was such a thing as a locally-knowledgeable driver for hire.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > he sounds like he has a customer’s, rather than a driver’s, sense of “best path.”


      > anyone with a GPS and Uber Siri will be able to replicate a knowledgeable urban driver is ludicrous.

      I think the real way to address this is to say that the Traveling Salesman problem is NP-hard (which I should have said). I don’t know what would happen, though, if you fed an enormous data set of routes to an AI.

      However, I think the real point of the article is that automation will be used to take away any unique knowledge that worker’s have (removing, I suppose, their arbitrage). That seems reasonable me, any flubs re: Uber aside.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        If you are the cab driver, the best path is some combination of quickest time and longest distance. If you are the customer, the best path is a combination of quickest time and shortest distance, and often customers prioritize one over the other. (If you are Uber, the best path is presumably the one that yield Uber the most revenue, which may be none of the above.)

        These concerns are irrelevant for a very high percentage of cab trips. But that gets to the point that this technology seems very far down the list of the things making the life of an Uber driver hell.

      2. Left in Wisconsin

        Lambert: Just an FYI – I have posted three things today (before this). Each disappeared as soon as I hit “post comment,” but the first two emerged on the site in short order and I have no reason to think the third won’t either. But, as someone who frequently revises comments during that 5 minute window, losing that functionality is (modestly) unsettling.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          The same thing has happened to me recently–I rather liked it, it’s magical to type something and have it immediately appear!

  15. djrichard

    “‘Find Your Passion’ Is Awful Advice” [The Atlantic].

    Wait, what does this mean for the elf who was befriended by Rudolph, who wanted to be a dentist? “Not happy in my work I guess.” If he only gave it time, he might have grown to be more passionate about toy making?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’m pretty certain he was the exception. The elves appeared to be in poor health. Did you see their stature and pallid skin? Regular dentist visits can catch diseases in early preventable states. There really is nothing more important for your health. After all, Santa has reindeer that look like White Tale deer and one had a glowing nose. I suspect the elves were being exposed to toxic chemicals.

  16. fresno dan

    HICAP (Health Insurance Couseling and Advocacy Program) update
    So what better day than Friday the 13th to relate a little anecdote about dealing with medicare and the travails people in said system face.
    So a gentlemen (30 minutes early, which was good – we would need every minute) comes in. He has been on disability since a severe auto accident when he was a young man (the massive scars on his head and legs attest to what he has been through).
    So this individual has full Medi-Cal which means it pays whatever medicare does not pay….copays, coninsurance, deductibles, EXCEPT Medi-cal will not pay if medicare determines the treatment is not medically necessary From old hands at HICAP, this (surgery at a hospital) that medicare finds a problem with and that Medi-Cal than won’t reimburse appears to be something uncommon.
    So this gentlemen is getting these bills from the hospital.
    So as is our policy, I call the hospital billing department and I get confirmation that the hospital is charging the gentleman for a procedure (venipuncture AND blood draw – two charges) and that Medi-Cal is not paying because medicare says the procedure is not medically necessary Well, blood tests before surgery is ALWAYS done. And that entails venipuncture and blood draws.
    Now, the blood draw was necessary because the gentlemen is diabetic, and foot problems had to be dealt with by surgery as determined by physicians licensed to practice medicine in the state of CA.
    The old hands say I should call up hospital billing again and ask them to reevaluate the coding (coding is a numerical code that equates a number in the medicare coding manual to a specific medical procedure).
    The hospital billing department says that only the doctor (that ordered the surgery) can make that request.

    So we call the gentlemen’s doctor, and the doctor’s office calls the hospital. The doctor’s office call us back and relates that the hospital says that because of HIPAA (patient privacy) regulations, unless the patient is at the doctor’s office giving the doctor permission to release the patient’s information (i.e., the patient’s name and account number) the hospital cannot discuss the matter. Is that correct? I don’t know, but there is no one who enforces misinterpretation of HIPAA regulations when someone misinterprets those regulations and that causes stress, inconvenience, or costs to the patient or anyone else….

    The gentleman walks with a cane, but is actually more mobile than many of our clients. Never the less, one can see what an inconvenience this would be. And I suspect, the hospital could say that voice verification is not enough….after all, I do a pretty good vocal Trump impersonation……can I call up CNN and tell them I confess to EVERYTHING? (or at least tell them I’m Alec Baldwin)


    NOW, let us just think for a moment. In point of fact, the patient doesn’t know what the correct code is. The doctor probably doesn’t know the correct code either. It is in all likihood the hospitals job to submit the paperwork and code it correctly. But if one peruses the above document on medicare coding, it is beyond dispute that no individual even knows a fraction of the codes or the criteria that medicare uses to decide if some procedure is not medically necessary OR IS medically necessary. Was the correct code submitted and Medicare is wrong???

    So to cover our tracks, a medicare appeal form has been filled out and is being sent by the gentlemen, with a handwritten note from his doctor, that the venipuncture was done for an upcoming surgery.

    The case I had Monday is actually more heartbreaking than the above, but I might explode if I think anymore about this stuff.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      It’s not correct. He could sign a release of information with you as a witness permitting exchange between the doc and hospital and that could be faxed to both.

      BUT for purposes of billing, the doc and hospital probably ALREADY have permission to share info. That is the real purpose of HIPAA–it quite precisely eliminated the need for patients to authorize specific communications with a generic form we now all sign “to protect our privacy” when in fact it is to facilitate “portability”–partly continuity of care, which is good, but mostly to facilitate billing aka the stranglehold insurance has on care.

    2. flora

      Disclaimer: I’m not a Medicare or Medical expert or a lawyer. That said…

      Your client can request an audit of his billed hospital charges and request that the audit be mailed to him in printed-on-paper form. If, in consultation with his doctor, he and his doctor finds it looks wrong he can request a correction. Failing a correction, he can alert Medicare to apparent medical billing fraud at said hospital.


      adding: bless you, FD , for helping those in need. Must be those red bunny slippers and coded messages from Boris and Natasha that guide you. :)

      1. fresno dan

        July 13, 2018 at 7:03 pm

        And irony of ironies, the couple I helped after this gentleman, the woman was originally from Germany, so I got an earful about how lousy the US medical insurance system is. I had to disagree – it is MUCH, MUCH, MUCH worse than she thinks…..

  17. Darthbobber

    Trump-Putin homophobia. Interestingly, none of the heavyweights among gay political organizations have had a mumbling word to say about any of this.

    Putting on and putting aside the wokeness mask as convenient is of course an established practice by now. (still remember when the kids over in kos-land thought they were being innovative.

    During the long, tedious death spiral of occupy philadelphia, I noticed the highly selective deployment of calling out all the “isms”, particularly among the West Philly anarchists and their allies. If a speaker was on their side in one of the numerous factional disputes, they could transgress wokie “norms” with impunity. If they were on another side, anything that could be conceivably interpreted as nonsaintly brought about the detonation of the meeting amidst an organized “4 legs good, 2legs bad” chorus from the claque.

  18. Lost in OR

    Regarding trade war fallout.

    I rep for a hydraulic fittings manufacturer. Some fittings have become hard to find with significant back orders and lead times. Rumor has it that the Chinese are slowing shipments at the dock.
    It’s a matter of time until big-dollar items can’t be completed for lack of two dollar fittings.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Chinese also have slowed up Ag deliveries from the USA, draping them in festive red tape, i’d imagine.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I remember — too lazy to find it — another data point about shipments slowing down at the docks in China.

          The beauty part is that “missing $2.00 parts” probably won’t make even a blip in the aggregate numbers. So it’s like a stealth attack…

        2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          it might bankrupt that (Chinese?) trader in Shandong if the goods are already paid for.

          Luckily for Xi, protests at Tiananmen is no longer allowed.

          In another age, freedom loving America would have sanctioned a totalitarian regime like that.

      1. Angie Neer

        No idea whether this has to do with the trade war, but supplies of capacitors (a component used in great numbers in virtually all electronics) have recently become very tight.

        1. Tony F

          For what it’s worth, my boss, who is the director for planning for a semiconductor company, told me about the long lead times for capacitors a couple years ago. I am not sure if it got better, or companies just adapted. I am sure the trade war won’t help.

          I work as the logistics manager for the company and I have had more questions about tariffs in the last week, than I have had in the previous 12 years. Companies seem keen to try to get ahead of it.

          My impression is that they are going to hedge by moving some capacity out of China, but this will cause even more supply chain shortages and long lead times, even for parts not made in China. Like capacitors.

      2. Wukchumni

        Trade wars are easy, dept:
        Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue attended a breakfast in Richland, Wash., on July 3 with many area agricultural leaders, including Fryhover.

        Topics discussed at the breakfast included immigration and farm labor, food safety regulations and, of course, the retaliatory tariffs.

        Perdue didn’t have a lot of direct answers about how the tariff situation will be resolved, Fryhover said.

        “If he had a message to us, it was, ‘Farmers are patriots, and we understand you are taking a hit,’” he said.

        Thurlby said exporters are cautious that the tariff increase may
        also be accompanied by delays in product clearing customs in China, which occurred to oranges and California cherries when the first round of tariffs were imposed.


        Patriots, eh?

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Beijing exists on the legend/myth of the Long March.

          To defend, protect and revive American manufacturing, American workers and peasants, a Longer March will be needed.

    2. voteforno6

      I hate to ask, but are these items that could easily be manufactured in the U.S., as I’m sure they were at some point?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Depends if the machinery that was used to make them was shipped off to another country or not or if they were simply scrapped. Then, as Yves has pointed out previously, there is the matter of all that expertise that was to be had for manufacturing said items that is no longer in existence. People have moved on, retired, died and you may no longer have people with the know-how on how to make those items again. Those people were thrown on the scrap heap as well. If sure that the Chinese are looking this particular aspect over when drawing up their trade targeting list.

      2. Kurtismayfield

        Yes, but they might cost $3.00 instead of $2.00, and we can’t have that happen can we?

        This whole episode sounds like the strategy of the Allied powers bombing campaign in WWII. If you eliminate ball bearings you win the war. Meanwhile the war was already lost years earlier when Operation Barbarrossa started. Our trade war was lost when the factories left.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Yep. And just who, again is the enemy in the trade war? Let us recall that the captains of industry who sent America the Producer overseas for quarterly profits are part of the Global State of Supranational Corporatization, and don’t give a sh@t about what happens to “nations” that they are so vigorously trying to extirpate.

          Who the hell knows what is in Trump’s mind, the propaganda image of him is totally obscure and bent on taking him down as a Black Swan or Mule, but from what I can see he does not seem to much care for said captains and colonels and generals of looting. Probably just wishful thinking, of course.

      3. Lost in OR

        I love where this discussion is going.

        There is no reason fittings can’t be manufactured domestically. The $2 foreign-made fitting costing $3 for a domestic-made fitting may not be far from reality. The crucial difference, I think, is not the dollar difference but the margin difference. That is, a $20 fitting will cost $30. I believe existing margins are higher, but that might change with the application of “market forces “. Something every buyer wants to know is if our products are US made.

        I’ve wondered how we would exit the globalization paradigm. How do you back out of a trade treaty? Transportation costs could naturally and casually strangle long distance shipping. Or increased competition for scarce resources could strain alliances. I’d never considered irredeemables hiring a saboteur. How ingenious.

        Regardless of what happens, there will be winners and losers. And the losers will scream. Especially if they’re used to smooth sailing. We could be seeing the destruction of the existing order. I’m ok with that. I’ve been waiting for that. This could be an opportunity for something. Who knows?

        More popcorn please.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      A protectionized economy would be free and permitted to make its own two dollar fittings.

  19. Wukchumni

    The Marmot Cong have only disabled one car this year @ the trailhead parking lots in Mineral King in Sequoia NP, a radiator hose being the object of their desire.

    Something interesting is happening this year, in that marms previously were not seen below around 7,500 feet, but now they’ve been seen @ 7,000. In theory climate change is supposed to move them up, as they hibernate for about 8 months a year, usually in snow dens, but they’re doing just the opposite.

    Perhaps they didn’t get the memo?

    1. Lee

      Perhaps their hibernation habits are flexible, depending on food resources. For example, because of year round availability of food, coastal California grizzlies did not hibernate.

      1. Wukchumni

        500 feet in elevation may not seem like a lot, but we’re talking moving nearly 4 miles from where they’ve always been, a profound change in locale. I’m not sure the hibernation pattern of a yellow-bellied one, but once the snow falls, food gets pretty non existent, which is why they slumber so long.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Really, why doesn’t someone think of building marmot feeders the size and shape of cars and full of all the loose car parts which marmots like the most?

  20. Steely Glint

    Re: The problem with identity politics.
    Another piece by Tim Wise takes on the same problem, but he emphasizes reciprocity & in my mind lays in on the line:
    “Which is to say that if one doesn’t like identity politics, there is a rather obvious way to stop them: put an end to the subordination of people on the basis of identity.” and;
    ” Until and unless we commit to a politics of equity and justice — and until we see a fundamental erasure of the persistent structural inequities that currently plague our society — a politics of identity will remain a necessary force. To confuse the symptom for the disease is to ensure the perpetuation of the very disparities that the marginalized, of all identities, are seeking to eradicate.
    The movements against racism, sexism, and heterosexism are not the problems: racism, sexism, and heterosexism are. Eradicate the latter, and the former will take care of themselves.”
    Even goes into the opioid crises. Succinct & worth a read.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The retort would be: No, they will not take care of themselves, because capital grows by creating and reproducing differences (I should have this idea stated more crisply, but that is the gist).

      1. Steely Glint

        Exactly. While facing the same anxiety symptoms of losing a job (sleepless nights, lack of self-esteem, etc,) due to losing a job, the debilitating symptoms are judged on a class system, ie; you have more resources. The degree may differ, but the soul crushing experience is the same. Reciprocity.

    2. todde

      So we’re going to end Affirmative Action and replace it with an income/wealth based program?

      I’ve noticed that the wealthy always seem to get into the schools they want(prodigy) and always get the best jobs at the best corporations (because their family owns them.)

      O wait, I’m sup[posed to wait until the ‘class’ system I guess magically disappears.

      I’ve got a feeling a know which class of white people will bear the burden of fighting the disease.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      I liked the Humanist piece and it seems to be making the same point as that tweet from the Black Socialists a while back and several other pieces about the futility of focusing on what has been used to divide us, “identity,” separately from that which binds us: class.

      It is like playing the master’s game.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Also this, from the old Jacobin piece Vengeance is Mine (marvelous rant):

        No more of this narrow view of either wooing or abandoning “the white working class,” either. The zero-sum, emotionally bankrupt thinking on race that has dominated this country — one in which African-Americans see their voting rights stolen, while white Americans are incited against “welfare cheats” and other euphemistic scapegoats while further immiserated themselves — must be smashed. It is time to defend and support the entire working class — the black working class, the Latino working class, indigenous Americans, and the white working class.

        There is no need to pick and choose between helping one group to the detriment of another; an alternative vision will answer Trump’s bigotry with an abiding antiracism, a radical compassion capable of freeing all Americans from the indignities of life today in this country.

  21. BDBlue

    “The Team That Helped Elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Has Its Next Mission: Lifting Kerri Harris Over Sen. Tom Carper” [The Intercept]. “Carper’s 2006 vote is particularly relevant now, as the three-term Democratic incumbent faces a primary challenge from Kerri Evelyn Harris, a U.S. Air Force veteran and community organizer whose campaign is based on the argument that Carper has served the corporate and militarized interests that have funded his campaigns over the people of Delaware. She would be a more progressive, less militaristic, and less corporatist senator than Carper.” • This is new, although I suppose Sanders team members traveling to the UK to help Momentum elect Corbyn is a precedent.

    Kerri Harris and her team traveled to NY-14 to help Ocasio-Cortez get out the vote for her primary — here

    1. BDBlue

      Also, Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez are heading to Kansas together to campaign for two candidates (Welder and Thompson) — here. Both are endorsed by Justice Democrats, one of the main early backers of Ocasio-Cortez (along with Brand New Congress), helping convincing her to run and providing some key early campaign support.

        1. BDBlue


          If you haven’t yet, I would highly recommend listening to these interviews of AOC –

          Katie Halper – here at around 31:00 minutes (this is before the primary)
          Daniel Denvir, the Dig – here (this is after the primary)

          Very interesting in how she got into the campaign with Justice Dems and Brand New Congress and the technical support they provided (Halper interview) and how her campaign was organized on the ground and how weak the Dem machine is (the Dig).

          1. BDBlue

            Meant to add, I found her discussion of caucuses in The Dig episode to be particularly interesting —

            Looking ahead to you entering Congress (I’m feeling fairly confident about November but don’t want to jinx you), the Right has successfully used groups like the House Freedom Caucus to push their agenda. Do you think that the Progressive Caucus, which has been much lower profile for a long time but is significant, can do the same for the Left?


            There’s potential. It all depends on how unified that caucus is. The thing that gives the Freedom Caucus power is not their size but their cohesion. Right now the Progressive Caucus is bigger than the Freedom Caucus, actually. But sometimes they vote together, sometimes they don’t.

            The thing that gives a caucus power is that they can operate as a bloc vote to get things done. Even if you can carve out a sub-caucus of the Progressive Caucus, a smaller bloc but one that operates as a bloc, then you can generate real power.

            I think with that, it’s just really about, “We’ll see.” As unapologetic and strong as I am in my messaging and my belief, my personal style is as a consensus builder. I like to think that I’m persuasive. I’m usually able to make the pragmatic case for doing really ambitious things. Not to say that I can carry a caucus on my back or anything, but I think that there’s a willingness right now. We’ll see if that willingness is still there in January. I think that if you can even carve out a caucus of ten, thirty people, it does not take a lot if you operate as a bloc vote to really make strong demands on things.

            From the (shortened, edited) transcript in Jacobin.

      1. flora

        BD, thanks for the info. Local media have been rather silent on both races. This info confirms me in my decision (to be exersized in the KS primary on Aug. 7th.)

        Most amazing and, really, encouraging thing to me is that AOC’s message appears to have coattails. (I’m, well, old now. You have no idea how hard that is for me to write.) Life isn’t a sprint. It’s a relay race. The kids are alright. :)

  22. flora

    Random comments:

    Re: Crowley
    “ (Incidentally, nobody who remembers how Obama’s mentor and Gore’s Vice Presidential nominee, Joe Lieberman — thanks for the DHS, Joe! — ran and won as an Independent after an insurgent Ned Lamont beat him in the primary can be sanguine about Crowley’s machinations here Crowley’s machinations here….)”

    I agree. I remember very well that once Lieberman got on the general election ticket as an “independent” the Dem machine rushed to Connecticut to campaign for him, ignoring the Connecticut Dem primary winner Ned Lamont, (and the primary voters who elected him.) I also remember Lieberman blaming computer server “issues” and a supposed server “DoS” attack for his loss.. (What is it with the old Dem 3rd Way neoliberal machine and blaming computers? Geez… it’s like their all-purpose excuse. ‘The computer ate my homework.’) The machine supports the machine.


    Re: GA Governor: “‘My enemy is not a man….’
    I think in general that’s a pretty good summation of how democracy is supposed to work. The battle is between/ among competing ideas. The individual is the idea’s standard bearer.


    Re: Vengeance Is Mine.
    Thanks for this link.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Sam Kriss, now sadly in literary purgatory (no-one to blame but himself, though), penned a similarly pungent rant at about the same time:

      There’s no coherent left-wing movement actively endangering capitalism; the crisis facing the liberal-capitalist order is entirely internal. It’s grinding against its own contradictions, circling the globe to turn back against itself, smashing through its biological and ecological limits and finding nothing on the other side. This is the death spasm.

  23. Jim Haygood

    USPS protects an innocent public from peddlers of the demon weed:

    A small Alaska newspaper is scrambling to distribute papers after the U.S. Postal Service refused shipment over a marijuana ad.

    A new marijuana business took out the ad in the Chilkat Valley News in Haines. The paper didn’t realize it would be problematic until it was contacted by the Postal Service. Marijuana is legal in Alaska but illegal on the federal level.

    The ad, at the bottom of a page, was being cut out of papers bound for out-of-town subscribers. Those in town were invited to pick theirs up.


    Meanwhile on a sultry Friday night the rarely seen attorney general Jeff Sessions, clad in a tattered old bathrobe he bought in 1985 and pink bunny slippers, is huddled in his seedy studio apartment littered with dirty dishes and discarded pizza boxes, obsessively watching the only DVD he owns: Reefer Madness.

    1. ambrit

      “…tattered old bathrobe…and pink bunny slippers…”
      Lenin Be Praised! Ol Massa Jeff is a fellow traveller!
      Now all Vlad Vladimirovitch need do is send one of the GRU indictees on over to fight the case, and Marse Jeff can put the perp in witness protection, in the Crimea!
      Almost time for a New International!

      1. Dugh

        Thought crossed my mind as well that Don might make a deal with Vlad next week to send an indictee over to blow up justice department.

  24. ewmayer

    I’m not sure if it was so intended, but I find Kelton’s description of government finance more that a bit disingenous. Let’s review:

    When the govt “borrows,” it turns green paper ($ in fed accounts it already spent) into yellow paper ($ in different fed accounts aka ‘treasury bonds’). At maturity, the yellow paper is transformed back into green paper by shifting those $ back to the fed accounts they came from.

    Note the language seems carefully chosen to make it sound like a thermodynamic “energy is never created or destroyed, merely transformed among various forms” conservation law. The crucial “the government can ex-nihilo create as much ‘green paper’ as it likes without ever cycling it into ‘yellow paper’ or later destroying it” is missing. Similarly, the net outstanding amount of ‘yellow paper’ can increase without limit. Most importantly is one must never, ever forget or try to obscure that said fiat can be created at will but represents a claim on the finite production and labors of the people, and that net-inflationary (i.e. cost of living exceeding increase in wages) monetary policies represent a devaluation of the fruits of the people’s labor. This “exorbitant privilege” of money creation must never be taken lightly, and one must always ask, “how is this newly created money benefiting the people upon whose labors it represents a claim?”

    This, in a nutshell, is my longstanding question of the MMT crowd – why should we believe that a political class which for at least the past 40 years has used government finance and deficit spending almost entirely to vastly enrich a tiny elite sliver of the populace, were said class to suddenly ’embrace the MMT way’ and abandon the government-as-a-household financing fiction, would suddenly start giving a rat’s patootie about the needs of hoi polloi?

    1. voteforno6

      I don’t think anyone really believes that – we just need to replace the existing political class with one that will embrace MMT.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        We already have a political class that believes in MMT. No one in DC did diddily squat to balance the budget down after the last round of tax cuts. Instead they increased spending. They know that this money is being printed. So either they already believe in MMT, or they really don’t care.

    2. Oregoncharles

      I keep wondering how you know when you’re reaching an inflationary level, without just waiting for inflation to happe? That would create a long-term ratchet effect, which of course is exactly what we see.

      Is “too much” calculable? It seems unlikely. It’s a chaotic system.

  25. ewmayer

    “Pardoned by Trump, Oregon ranchers ride home in style on Pence ally’s private jet [Los Angeles Times]” — Inquiring minds want to know: did they discuss yoga and the grandkids on the flight, and were Bill Clinton or Loretta Lynch anywhere to be seen around the airport tarmac? I actually find the nakedness of the influence-peddling here refreshing, in a perverse kind of way. This gets back to a key theme, whether one prefers one’s elite venality and evil out in plain sight or carefully disguising itself as something else, often as its exact opposite. It also illustrates the rank hypocrisy of the liberal/MSM “norms fairy invokers” [h/t Lambert] – what they are really saying is not “don’t be evil” but “please allow us to convince first ourselves and then the proles that you are in fact good.” It’s also why a lot of longstanding evil is suddenly found to be objectionable under Trump – that online journo that tweeted the (as it turns out fake) pic-that-ate-the-internet of the child allegedly separated from its undocumented-migrant parents at the border and locked wailing in cage is a perfect example. In his own words: ‘[Jose Antonio] Vargas explained that he shared the photo because when he was detained by ICE in McAllen, Texas in 2014, he encountered children who were locked up there. “It wasn’t okay then; it’s not okay now,” he wrote, adding that he’s been outraged about the incident for years.’ So where was the social media outrage-fest then?

    To me, well-disguised evil hiding behind a friendly, folksy mask and soaring rhetoric is the more dangerous variety precisely because the smooth-talking is designed disarm one’s critical-thinking skills. A good analogy is a pathogenc infection – the most dangerous pathogens are ones which can ‘hide’ in the body and thus evade the immune system, or which compromise the immune system itself.

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