2:00PM Water Cooler 7/16/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China files WTO challenge to US $200B tariff plan” [Associated Press]. “China announced it filed a World Trade Organization challenge Monday to President Donald Trump’s latest tariff threat, stepping up its diplomatic efforts to counter U.S. pressure in a spiraling technology dispute… The move is unusually swift, coming less than one week after the U.S. Trade Representative proposed 10 percent tariffs on a $200 billion list of Chinese goods. Those wouldn’t take effect until at least September…. China’s lopsided trade balance means it will run out of U.S. imports for penalty tariffs before Washington does. Beijing is trying to recruit support, so far in vain, from Europe, South Korea and other governments.”

“The Commerce Department has formally lifted a ban preventing U.S. companies from doing business with Chinese telecom giant ZTE after the company put $400 million escrow” [Politico]. “‘While we lifted the ban on ZTE, the Department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE’s actions to ensure compliance with all U.S. laws and regulations’ [Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross] said in a statement. The U.S. will draw on the money if ZTE violates a new, June agreement with Commerce. ZTE had said the April denial order would put it out of business. In May, Trump told Commerce to come up with another way to punish ZTE, which was found to be illegally selling to Iran and North Korea. That alternative approach included a $1 billion fine, a management shake-up and an embedded compliance team to ensure it abides by the agreement.”

“Unpacking Disingenuous GOP Complaints About Presidential Trade Authority” [Eyes on Trade]. “At midnight on June 30, Fast Track, which delegates Congress’ constitutional trade authority to the president, extended for another three years….. The GOP inaction on Fast Track disapproval made 100 percent clear what is really going on: Team Trade Status Quo is keen to eliminate presidential authority on trade matters that break with their pro-job-outsourcing trade agenda while remaining committed to the current iteration of Fast Track with a view to trying to use it to get more-of-the-same trade deals…. That dynamic makes the current NAFTA renegotiation a moment of truth. The U.S. Trade Representative, Robert Lighthizer, is using this delegation of Fast Track to negotiate a NAFTA replacement that actually has a chance of making things better for working people rather than expanding greater corporate control over our lives….. However, the revised NAFTA deal is not done yet. And the GOP’s decision not to act against Fast Track extension suggests that they still think they can get the terrible, TPP-style NAFTA deal that they want.”

“What Game Theory Says About Trump’s Trade Strategy” [Mohamed A. El-Erian, Bloomberg]. “Whether by accident or design, the U.S. is now playing in an uncooperative game that it is well placed to win in relative terms. For many reasons, trade tensions are less damaging for the U.S. than for China, whose growth model is still notably dependent on foreign markets. This relative advantage is already evident in the performance of the equity and currency markets of the two countries. While this advantage certainly isn’t protection against some absolute damage, it gives the U.S. a stronger hand to play….. The situation resembles the 1980s, when President Ronald Reagan embarked on a military spending race with the Soviet Union, a contest America was destined to win, albeit with costs and at considerable risk.” • Time for some game theory? Or not?

“Preparing for (Trade) War and an Uncertain Future” [Industry Week]. “[N]ew tariffs mean that companies are going to need to onboard new supply partners much faster than in the past, involving configuring partner profiles and connections to securely exchange order, invoicing, shipping and payment data. To truly enable a lean and agile supply chain, legacy systems and custom coding cannot support onboarding new customers in a timely and effective fashion, and such disparate technologies silo the critical data flows and hinder visibility into daily business processes. World-class supply chains have onboarding and visibility capabilities built into their systems, reducing the complexity and cost of partner onboarding and enabling holistic views into data….” • “World-class” causes my bogometer to twitch…

A handy chart:



UPDATE “Trump raises $90 million for his reelection bid and the Republican Party, with less going to legal fees” [WaPo]. “With the 2018 midterms underway, President Trump’s reelection campaign and two affiliated committees entered the third quarter with a massive fundraising haul of $90 million and a steep decline in attorneys’ fees, which have consumed his reelection expenses since he took office. … Unlike his predecessors, Trump began fundraising for 2020 soon after he won the presidency. He continues to energize small-dollar donors, FEC filings show. In the second quarter of 2018, 62 percent of the direct contributions to his campaign committee came from donations of $200 or less.” • It’s almost like this small-donor model isn’t so crazy….

“Ex-Bill Clinton lawyer would advise Hillary against running in 2020” [The Hill]. “Lanny Davis said on Wednesday he would advise Hillary Clinton against launching another presidential bid. …. Davis was hired to join the legal team of President Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, last week.”

“Pittsburgh feels the Bern as Bernie Sanders addresses national teachers conference” [News-Tribune]. “Pittsburgh felt the Bern on Sunday, but it wasn’t anything close to the torching that flamboyant U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders gave to the wealthiest Americans, Wall Street and President Donald Trump….. ‘[Trump] is in the most un-American way possible attempting to divide the people of our country up based on the color of our skin, our country of birth, our gender, our sexual orientation or our religion,’ Sanders said. ‘When Trump tries to bring back discrimination in this country, we tell him that this country has suffered for too many years from racism and sexism and homophobia and xenophobia. We are not going back. We are going forward.'” •  I agree with Senator Sanders that identity politics is very bad. And I wish the Sanders staff would get it together to release transcripts of Sanders speeches, because here’s what he said — I think; via NTK with clip, the only other venue Google’s miserably inadequate and untrustworthy algos returns when I search on bits of the quote — before the News-Tribune quote: “But not only has his economic policies benefit the very rich. The truth is his social policies are even worse.” So, we don’t get to hear about Sanders’ views on economics. Odd!

UPDATE “Bernie Sanders is hosting a town hall for workers. Their CEOs are invited.” [CNN]. “Letters addressed to Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Doug McMillon of Walmart, Steve Easterbrook of McDonald’s and Disney’s Bob Iger will be sent on Thursday. ‘My staff and I have spoken with Disney workers who are hungry, homeless, or struggling to make ends meet,’ Sanders writes to Iger in one of the invites. He then quotes an employee who says, ‘I currently don’t make enough to eat three times a day. I eat cans of tuna or celery sticks and carrots because that’s what I can afford.'” • That’s the stuff to give the troops!

UPDATE “No, Bernie 2020 Will Not Be The Same As 2016” [Niko House, Medium]. “There is a difference between picking the lesser of two evils and picking someone with flaws, understanding that they can (and likely will) put experienced progressives at the helm to cover down for his shortcomings or lack of experience in particular fields of politics. To surmise, it’s time for people to decide if we are going to continue attacking our allies for making one or two decisions we disagree with, or finally start removing our enemies on both sides of the political aisle who present a clear and present danger to the entire world. Hindsight is 2020.” • A rousing defense, though not all will be persuaded.

“Witness in Jane Sanders land deal probe says she was recently interviewed by FBI” [Fox]. “A key witness in the possible bank fraud case against Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane Sanders, was questioned by FBI agents just over a week ago, Fox News has learned…. [Coralee Holm, the former Burlington College dean of operations] said she was visited by agents two weeks ago and answered ‘some clarifying questions on materials.'”

UPDATE “Warren Is Preparing for 2020. So Are Biden, Booker, Harris and Sanders.” [New York Times]. “Altogether, [Warren’s] moves are among the most assertive steps taken by any Democrat to prepare for 2020.


“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Historic Win and the Future of the Democratic Party” [David Remnick, The New Yorker]. “After Sanders failed to overtake Clinton, some of his staff started an organization, called Brand New Congress, with the aim of recruiting candidates in the Bernie mold to run for the House and the Senate. For the B.N.C. activists, Sanders had shown that a non-corporate, ‘small dollar’ campaign based on a left-wing agenda could win, and not only in traditionally left-leaning districts…. In the weeks to come, by phone, by video chat, and in person, leaders of B.N.C. and another post-Bernie-2016 group, called Justice Democrats, gave Ocasio-Cortez media training and coached her on policy issues, Federal Election Commission filings, debate tactics, and social-media strategies. In a district where contested primaries were rare and turnout low, organization could win the day. In a year of campaigning, Ocasio-Cortez and her volunteers made a hundred and seventy thousand phone calls, knocked on a hundred and twenty thousand doors, and sent a hundred and twenty thousand text messages.” • Well worth a read, especially for the biographical material; Remnick, for once in his life, seem to be playing it reasonably straight. It feels to me like there’s a story here about disagreements within OR shortly after it’s founding, and a contrast between OR and JD/BNC, who certainly knew how to pick a winner, and at the national level.

“Brett Kavanaugh and the Midterm Effect” [Stuart Rothenberg, Inside Elections]. “The selection of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court will have less of an impact on November’s midterms than you think. Sure, depending how the confirmation process develops, it’s possible the nomination could affect a handful of races, but the most likely scenario will not change the overall trajectory of the November elections.” Three scenarios, concluding: “Most Democrats don’t like the Kavanaugh nomination and would like to see a more moderate nominee. But they are playing a very weak hand now, and there is little reason to believe that the next hand they are dealt will be any better. In fact, it might be worse.”

“Senate: Gaming Out Kavanaugh’s Confirmation” [Cook Political Report]. “The one consolation that Democratic Senators are getting is that the confirmation process is a boon for their fundraising. If my email is any indication, Democrats are stepping up fundraising requests. In the days following the Kavanaugh announcement, interest groups focused on the need to defeat him while Democratic Senate incumbents and challengers put their energy into raising money.”

NJ Senate: Pharma ‘greed’ emerges as a potent political issue in a raucous election year” [Endpoints]. “[Hugin’s campaign] just posted a new 30-second spot featuring the father of another cancer patient who says the pharma exec provided Revlimid when his insurance company wouldn’t cover it for his son. ‘It’s not the drugs,’ he says. ‘It’s not the profits. It’s a very personal thing for Bob Hugin.'” • So the PR will work or it won’t…

SD: “LISTEN: S.D. GOP could have made convention SNAFU worse for Democrats” [KELO]. “The Democrats will hold a do-over convention August 10 in Sioux Falls at the Icon Lounge.” • Odd.

NJ-10: “In Surprise Vote, Hudson County Renews Contract With ICE To Detain Immigrants” [WNYC]. “Officials in Hudson County, N.J., voted Thursday to renew a controversial contract to detain immigrants at the county jail in exchange for about $35 million a year from Immigration and Customs Enforcement…. Hudson County has a foreign-born population of more than 42 percent, according to the U.S. Census. It is overwhelmingly Democratic.” • They have no place to go…

UPDATE WI-01: “Bice: Ironworker Randy Bryce being paid undisclosed amount by Democratic firm” [Journal-Sentinel]. “In his latest personal financial disclosure form, Bryce reports earning more than $5,000 from Wavecrest Consulting and Analytics since the start of 2017. Wavecrest is owned and operated by former Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate. The firm works with political campaigns, private corporations and nonprofits…. What’s not clear from the records is how much Bryce was paid by Wavecrest.Bryce discloses that he made a little less than $19,000 from three metal fabricators between Jan. 1, 2017, and April 15. He also reports receiving at least $5,000 from Tate’s firm. [Julia Savel, communications director for Bryce] said Bryce doesn’t have to provide that figure to run for the U.S. House of Representatives.”

UPDATE Is Russia! Russia! Russia! a wining message?

Yes, on the Acela! And who else matters?

2016 Post Mortem

“Bourdain Confidential” [Popula]. Bourdain: “Bill Clinton, look, the bimbo eruptions—it was fucking monstrous. That would not have flown today. A piece of shit. Entitled, rapey, gropey, grabby, disgusting, and the way that he—and she—destroyed these women and the way that everyone went along, and, and are blind to this! Screamingly apparent hypocrisy and venality. How you can on the one hand howl at the moon about all these other predators. And not at least look back. OK, let’s say, well, it was all consensual: powerful men, starstruck women, okay fine, let’s accept it at its most charitable interpretation. Fine. He is a very charming man, I met him, he’s fucking magnetic…. As is she. When you’re in the room, you think wow, she’s really warm and nice and funny. But the way they efficiently dismantled, destroyed, and shamelessly discredited these women for speaking their truth… is unforgivable….. I would never under any circumstances vote for Bill Clinton today. But I think impeaching the guy over Lewinsky was ridiculous. Particularly given today. It was the shaming, discrediting, undermining the women that made both of them unsuitable for any future endeavors. I don’t think they should’ve pulled him from office.” • And yet liberal Democrats are still dragging The Big Dog’s raddled almost-corpse up to whatever podia they can find that will have him…

New Cold War

“Indictment of 12 Russians: Under the Shiny Wrapping, a Political Act” [Scott Ritter, TruthDig]. “There is one major problem with the indictment, however: It doesn’t prove that which it asserts. True, it provides a compelling narrative that reads like a spy novel, and there is no doubt in my mind that many of the technical details related to the timing and functioning of the malware described within are accurate. But the leap of logic that takes the reader from the inner workings of the servers of the Democratic Party to the offices of Russian intelligence officers in Moscow is not backed up by anything that demonstrates how these connections were made.” • Particularly when the DNC laundered those servers through CrowdStrike. More from Ritter:

The biggest clue that Mueller and Rosenstein have crafted a criminal espionage narrative from whole cloth comes from none other than the very intelligence agency whose work would preclude Rosenstein’s indictment from ever going to trial: the National Security Agency. In June 2017 the online investigative journal The Intercept referenced a highly classified document from the NSA titled “Spear-Phishing Campaign TTPs Used Against U.S. And Foreign Government Political Entities.” It’s a highly technical document, derived from collection sources and methods the NSA has classified at the Top Secret/SI (i.e., Special Intelligence) level. This document was meant for internal consumption, not public release. As such, the drafters could be honest about what they knew and what they didn’t know—unlike those in the Mueller investigation who drafted the aforementioned indictment.

A cursory comparison of the leaked NSA document and the indictment presented by Rosenstein suggests that the events described in Count 11 of the indictment pertaining to an effort to penetrate state and county election offices responsible for administering the 2016 U.S. presidential election are precisely the events captured in the NSA document. While the indictment links the identity of a named Russian intelligence officer, Anatoliy Sergeyevich Kovalev, to specific actions detailed therein, the NSA document is much more circumspect. In a diagram supporting the text report, the NSA document specifically states that the organizational ties between the unnamed operators involved in the actions described and an organizational entity, Unit 74455, affiliated with Russian military intelligence is a product of the judgment of an analyst and not fact.

If we take this piece of information to its logical conclusion, then the Mueller indictment has taken detailed data related to hacking operations directed against various American political entities and shoehorned it into what amounts to little more than the organizational chart of a military intelligence unit assessed—but not known—to have overseen the operations described. This is a far cry from the kind of incontrovertible proof that Mueller’s team suggests exists to support its indictment of the 12 named Russian intelligence officers.

The Blob Has Lost Its Mind

Honestly, I don’t know what else to call this category. I wish I did.

Oh, the incongruities:

The Iraq war wasn’t that long ago….

The frightening thing is that he may actually believe this:

(Haas is head of the Council on Foreign relations, the blobbiest blob blob blob blob of The Blob). Dude, as I just said, the Iraq war wasn’t that long ago. And the Norms Fairy died in the wreckage. Please move on to the Anger Stage. It’s been what, seven years?

Poor Larry waves his tiny fist and stamps his little feet:

Dude, I get it. I get that everybody who is anybody wants to go to war with Russia, a nuclear power. But how and where? And what does victory look like? And will you send your kids?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Planned Parenthood CEO Working with Trump Officials to Bust Healthcare Workers’ Union” [Gritpost]. “According to a letter circulated by the Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) bargaining team, PPRM CEO Vicki Cowart is actively opposed to the union her workers voted to form in December. Cowart reportedly organized against the unionization vote, and then appealed the vote after a majority of employees voted to unionize. This includes working with the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to appeal the union vote. The NLRB was, until April, chaired by Marvin Kaplan — whom President Trump appointed to the position in 2017.” • Remember the hysteria when Sanders called Planned Parenthood part of the “political establishment”? Good times…

UPDATE “‘Kiss my you know what’: Schumer hamstrung in SCOTUS fight” [Politico]. • Hardly. Schumer’s “hamstrung” by the last crop of reactionary Blue Dogs. And since the DCCC and DNC are busily working to elect more Blue Dogs this time round, he’ll be “hamstrung” again. If only the Democratic strategists knew!

Stats Watch

Retail Sales, June 2018: “Strong gains for the discretionary categories of autos and restaurants and a big upward revision to May highlight the June retail sales report” [Econoday]. “[U]nless services prove flat again, June — based on today’s report — should prove a very strong finish for the second-quarter economy.” And: “Retail Sales Growth Improves In June 2018” [Econintersect]. “The general feel from the data is that this was not as strong of report as last month.” • “General feel” is a bit squish for Econintersect. Odd.

Empire State Manufacturing Survey, July 2018: “[V]ery strong and right at expectations” [Econoday]. “[T]he fundamental strength of this report, that is new orders, continue to pour in…” But: “July 2018 Empire State Manufacturing Index Declined” [Econintersect]. “I am not a fan of surveys – and this survey jumps around erratically – but has been relatively steady for the last year. Key internals in the report declined. This report was weaker than last month.”

Business Inventories, May 2018: “Inventories are rising which is an immediate positive for GDP and they’re behind the strength in sales which is a future positive for both production and employment” [Econoday]. “Sales are very strong right now and businesses may be having trouble keeping up with the demand.” And: “May 2018 Headline Business Sales Improved” [Econintersect]. “Inventories remain elevated this month. Our primary monitoring tool – the 3 month rolling averages for sales – improved this month and remains in expansion.”

Manufacturing: “American manufacturing drives 35 percent of productivity growth, 60 percent of exports, and 70 percent of private sector R&D nationwide, the [Brookings Institute] study found. Manufacturers contribute $2.17 trillion to the United States economy, which is nearly 12.1 percent of the U.S. GDP” [Industry Week]. “‘Moreover, the gap in labor costs found in the United States in comparison to other countries has started to drop and likely will continue to drop as the cost of industrial robots falls,’ the study authors stated, with additive manufacturing, advanced robotics, the Internet of Things and Big Data driving this.” • Maybe I should have filed this under Class Warfare…

The Bezzle: “BlackRock begins exploration of bitcoin” [Financial News]. “The working group, which includes New York multi-asset investment strategist Terry Simpson, will examine whether BlackRock should invest in bitcoin futures, one of the people said…. [F]irms in the City are increasingly interested in getting into the asset class. Fidelity Investments, which manages $2.4tn in assets, has begun a hiring spree, while Goldman Sachs said in May that it is setting up a crypto trading desk…. Simon Taylor, the former Barclays executive behind Global Digital Finance, a trade body that has produced a code of conduct for users of crypto assets, said of BlackRock’s move: ‘We shouldn’t read too much into a working group being formed but rather what that working group might decide to do.’ He added: ‘I would venture that broadly collaboration between smaller funds and larger buyside firms is how institutional capital will enter the crypto space.'”

Five Horsemen: “In late morning trade, Seattle sluggers Amazon and Microsoft are at record highs” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 16 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Friday’s modest market rise lifted the mania-panic index one tick to 57 (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 13 2018

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 182.


“Chart of the day: In 2017, US had largest decline in CO2 emissions in the world for 9th time this century” [American Enterprise Institute]. “For that impressive “greening” of America, we can thank the underground oceans of America’s natural gas that are now accessible because of the revolutionary, advanced drilling and extraction technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal/directional drilling, and are increasingly displacing coal for the nation’s electricity generation.” • Oh.

Our Famously Free Press

“The Decline of the 20th Century Political Campaign” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “It’s still the case, especially with primaries and local politics, that mailings and activists on the ground are necessary. It’s still the case, especially with general elections and national politics, that TV allows campaigns to reach millions of offline or barely online voters who are otherwise unreachable. But we’re getting closer and closer to a time when it may be possible to run a successful campaign with a few kids manning laptops in a basement. The median CNN prime time viewer is now 59 years old. The median FOX viewer is 66. Traditional media has started to report on what goes on online, and this is the first step to a new world where politics happens more online than offline, where what we collectively post on Facebook and Twitter really does become the driving force in elections. This will make it even more important in the coming years to contest the unaccountable, absolute sovereignty Mark Zuckerberg exercises over the Facebook algorithms.” • Break the giant social media firms up. Optimize for personal campaigning by outlawing advertising on digital media. And so forth. From the article–

“Facebook’s First Wave of Funded News Shows Will Debut July 16, With More on the Way” [Variety]. “Starting on Monday, July 16, programming from CNN, Fox News Channel, Univision, ABC News and others will be featured in a dedicated news section in Facebook Watch, its recently launched video platform for episodic programming. The Watch news section will feature news videos from national and local news orgs, and users will see a personalized feed based on the publishers they follow and what their friends are watching. (Facebook users also can access the shows directly from their show pages.) The first lineup of previously announced shows from news publishers include those from ABC News, Advance Local, ATTN:, CNN, Fox News, Mic, Quartz, and Univision. Over the course of the next few months, Facebook will bring out additional news shows from ABC-owned stations, Bloomberg, BuzzFeed News, McClatchy, Group Nine Media’s NowThis and Tegna. For Facebook, the initiative is an effort to support journalism from established news groups after the company has been lambasted for its role in spreading “fake news” — including an effort by Russian operatives to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.” • Say, what do you think is going to happen to “news groups” that are not “established”? Oh, wait. Silly me. Burying the venues that are not established is for Google’s algos to handle. My bad.

Tech: “Bad Romance” [The Verge]. “The fight over #Cockygate, as it was branded online, emerged from the strange universe of Amazon Kindle Unlimited, where authors collaborate and compete to game Amazon’s algorithm. Trademark trolling is just the beginning: There are private chat groups, ebook exploits, conspiracies to seed hyperspecific trends like “Navy SEALs” and “mountain men,” and even a controversial sweepstakes in which a popular self-published author offered his readers a chance to win diamonds from Tiffany’s if they reviewed his new book. Much of what’s alleged is perfectly legal, and even technically within Amazon’s terms of service. But for authors and fans, the genre is also a community, and the idea that unethical marketing and algorithmic tricks are running rampant has embroiled their world in controversy. Some authors even believe that the financial incentives set up by Kindle Unlimited are reshaping the romance genre — possibly even making it more misogynistic…. [A]t stake are revenues sometimes amounting to a million dollars a year, with some authors easily netting six figures a month. The top authors can drop $50,000 on a single ad campaign that will keep them in the charts — and see a worthwhile return on that investment. In other words, self-published romance is no joke.”

The answer is “No”:

Actually, the answer is “No. Throw the guy off the train. While it’s moving.” (Honestly, though, can our Acela-riding elites be any more foolish? You might almost think they believe they live in a bubble where nobody can hear them…)

Class Warfare

“How States Are Making It Harder to Leave Unions” [Governing]. “Just over two weeks since the [Janus] decision, about a third of the affected states – most led by Democrats — have already taken actions meant to make it harder for people to leave unions and harder for anti-union advocates to persuade them to leave.”

News of The Wired

“The Unique Neurology of the Sports Fan’s Brain” [Nautilus]. “The fact that athletes experience a tidal rush of testosterone, a hormone associated not just with male sexuality but with self-esteem, upon winning a big game was well established. But there was a hypothesis floating around among social psychologists at the time that fans ride a similar hormonal high…. Again, a 20 percent increase in testosterone was observed among fans of the winning team, the Brazilians (along with a corresponding 20 percent drop for the Italians). ‘Statistically, the correlation is very strong,’ says [Paul Bernhardt, an aspiring young behavioral scientist at Georgia State University]. ‘The importance of [the experiment] was to show that testosterone isn’t just about a body getting pumped up; it’s not, for want of a better term, about being burly. It is about a sense of status, of seizing the moment.’ Testosterone is produced during moments of intense competition, even if the experience is purely psychological.” • Amazing to think what the World Cup did. Or, for that matter, The Mueller report.

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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 (KH):

KH: “So the bananas got too much rain in June and turned but didn’t rot. The family of yellow billed cardinals join us each day for feeding. The fledgelings get fed even though they’ve fledged and it’s quite a noisy scene, beachside.” I hope this shows up on-screen OK; I tinkered with the exposure a bit to solve the backlighting problem, because how often to you get to see yellow billed cardinals eating over-ripe bananas?

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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

    “Chart of the day: In 2017, US had largest decline in CO2 emissions in the world for 9th time this century” [American Enterprise Institute]. “For that impressive “greening” of America, we can thank the underground oceans of America’s natural gas that are now accessible because of the revolutionary, advanced drilling and extraction technologies of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal/directional drilling, and are increasingly displacing coal for the nation’s electricity generation.”

    “Flattery is all right as long as you don’t inhale.”

    Adlai Stevenson

    1. JohnnyGL

      I checked so you don’t have to.

      The word “methane” never makes an appearance. There’s ‘lying by omission’ and there’s what AEI just did.

      Imagine saying, “I’m not responsible for the house burning down, I didn’t dump any kersosene anywhere”. Leaving out the fact that you dumped gasoline and lit the match.

  2. Synoia


    Fine. He is a very charming man, I met him, he’s fucking magnetic…. As is she. When you’re in the room, you think wow, she’s really warm and nice and funny. But the way they efficiently dismantled, destroyed, and shamelessly discredited these women for speaking their truth… is unforgivable

    Isn’t that about a as clear a definition of psychopathy as is possible?

    1. foghorn longhorn

      “Drag a hundred dollar bill thru a trailer park…”
      James Carville
      This was in reference to Paula Jones, whom the big dog paid 850 large and lost his law license.
      L’affaire Lewinsky was revealed during that lawsuit and the impeachment resulted from lying about that.
      All would be history except for one blue dress…

      1. foghorn longhorn

        That lawsuit is also where they famous ” … depends on what the meaning of is is…” quote originated.
        Hmmm, is is
        Yes they laugh at us proles

        1. Alex morfesis

          Yup…and if one did not know too much about the background of the steep date clowns behind that amusing distraction… Would almost imagine he and $hill were not hoping for it…


          Guess you ain’t never been in the room when all the vote swapping and promises behind closed doors happens…

          And as soon as we get past the mid terms we can deliver what we promised…

          aw…gosh darn it…sorRry we got all tangled up with that there Monica thingee and had 2 give away all the dry powder…so….

          There ain’t lived a better snake oil pair than Bill and $helarry in the last century…

      2. The Rev Kev

        I wonder if that blue dress will ever go to the Smithsonian one day. After all this time you call call it a historic artifact.

      3. John k

        And gore woulda been pres, trashing bush forever, neatly avoiding Iraq and buildup of deep state.

    2. shinola

      Sociopath – defined by my psych. 101 prof. as “a psychopath with social skills.”

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Back in 1992, it was the first Bush who questioned what Clinton was doing in Moscow on a weekend in 1969.

      “Was he a KGB agent?” was the not-so-subtle message the campaign wanted to implant.

      Today, it’s ‘Is Trump Putin’s stooge?’

      1. foghorn longhorn

        That would have been after the ‘Hick from Hope’ was booted from the prestigious Oxford U. in England.
        Our boy sure got around.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Round and round…

          Most people would say, if Clinton were a KGB agent, he would be in a great, senior position to know, and pass the information on to Hillary, that Trump works for the FSK.

                  1. ambrit

                    If this keeps up, we’re all going to be accused of being Whitewaterboarding Supremacists.

      2. clarky90

        President Trump Press Conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin – July 16, 2018


        It was a struggle to find the complete press conference, with Putin’s remarks in English and audible. I am looking forward to watching, in full without a cabal of old white men, wearing suits and ties, short beards and “intellectual-inferring” horn rimmed glasses……(They would all be sucking on Meerschaum pipes, if they could get away with it!) Telling ME what to (how to) think! I can think for myself, thank you.

        I don’t consume edited “highlights”, that “prove” somebody’s point.

        I prefer my information to be organic, whole and unprocessed. It is easier to digest, and less likely to cause bloating and bowel distress.

        Informed, diverse and well seasoned commentary, fresh from the Commentariat, is what I look forward to!

    4. Plenue

      Hey now, neither Clinton is a crazed serial killer, murdering guests at their remote rural motel (as far as we know). So let’s call them sociopaths instead. I’m sure the Clinton’s have friends. Well, acquaintances. Well, assets that think they’re friends, but in fact are merely tools who can and will be dropped at the first politically convenient/necessary time.

      1. Pat

        Funny I think you can make a case for every President of the last 25 years and Hillary being serial killers, with the last three escalating the numbers almost astronomically. Undeclared wars, drone bombs, destabilization, supposedly targeted assassination which isn’t so targeted are serial killing.

        It may be long distance, but just consider Obama and Hillary’s reaction to Bin Laden and Gaddafi and you still get the sick elation.

        1. DonCoyote

          “Do you understand what I’m saying?” shouted Moist. “You can’t just go around killing people!”
          “Why Not? You Do.” The golem lowered his arm.
          “What?” snapped Moist. “I do not! Who told you that?”
          “I Worked It Out. You Have Killed Two Point Three Three Eight People,” said the golem calmly.
          “I have never laid a finger on anyone in my life, Mr Pump. I may be–– all the things you know I am, but I am not a killer! I have never so much as drawn a sword!”
          “No, You Have Not. But You Have Stolen, Embezzled, Defrauded And Swindled Without Discrimination, Mr Lipvig. You Have Ruined Businesses And Destroyed Jobs. When Banks Fail, It Is Seldom Bankers Who Starve. Your Actions Have Taken Money From Those Who Had Little Enough To Begin With. In A Myriad Small Ways You Have Hastened The Deaths Of Many. You Do Not Know Them. You Did Not See Them Bleed. But You Snatched Bread From Their Mouths And Tore Clothes From Their Backs.”

          –“Going Postal”, Terry Pratchett

          Neoliberals–killers with clean hands.

  3. Henry Moon Pie

    Another interesting post on Resilience.org about work, time and the environment:

    In Praise of Idleness–Revisited

    The title alludes to the Bertrand Russell essay “In Praise of Idleness,” Russell’s argument for a 4-hour workday and a worthwhile read in itself:

    The idea that the poor should have leisure has always been shocking to the rich. In England, in the early nineteenth century, fifteen hours was the ordinary day’s work for a man; children sometimes did as much, and very commonly did twelve hours a day. When meddlesome busybodies suggested that perhaps these hours were rather long, they were told that work kept adults from drink and children from mischief. When I was a child, shortly after urban working men had acquired the vote, certain public holidays were established by law, to the great indignation of the upper classes. I remember hearing an old Duchess say: ‘What do the poor want with holidays? They ought to work.’ People nowadays are less frank, but the sentiment persists, and is the source of much of our economic confusion.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve been idling for 13 years now from a making a living standpoint, but not from an everything else standpoint. Sometimes people will say things like “you’re too young to be retired” as if i’d given up on living and was just marking time until I checkout out of this motel called life.

      1. marieann

        I’ve been bone idle for 14 years now. I was just saying to someone today when they asked me about going to exercise class….I’m far too busy for that, it would use up all my mornings:)

        1. gepay

          As they say in Haiti.”if work was all that great, the rich would have stole it all a long time ago.”

          1. Wukchumni

            Or as a Kiwi remarked to me:

            “If work is so good for us, how come they have to pay us to show up?”

      2. Lee

        I have been idled for nearly that long due to chronic fatigue syndrome. Fortunately, while I have worked quite hard during various periods of my life, I have also had a penchant for doing nothing and goofing off. This skill has allowed me to chafe less against the limitations the illness imposes than I might otherwise. I have over the years learned how to allocate my limited resources of energy in ways that please me well enough. I am not living the life I had previously imagined. But who is? That’s part of the human condition. Not being destitute and having social support from family and friends helps too.

        1. Wukchumni

          I too enjoy goofing off as much as possible.

          I grew up reading the 1966 World Book encyclopedia from A-Z when I was a yout-mostly in the bathtub, and it set the trend for how my life be, by learning about aardvarks, the Azores and everything in between, setting up connections of people places and things like jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered just under my forehead.

          And i’m still mad about baths, preferably in a natural hot spring, but the jacuzzi is a lot easier to get to.

          1. tongorad

            Ava Gardner: “I don’t understand people who like to work and talk about it like it was some sort of familyblog duty. Doing nothing feels like floating on warm water to me. Delightful, perfect.”

    2. WobblyTelomeres

      People nowadays are less frank, but the sentiment persists, and is the source of much of our economic confusion.

      Blame John Calvin. I do.

      I read a bunch of Russell’s “penny essays” when I was young. The one that had the greatest impression upon me was, “Why I am not a Christian”. Text here.

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I’ve always liked that essay.

      It does make one want to sit quietly in a room.

      And that balances very nicely with the Zen rule by Baizhang (from Wikipedia):

      As the Zen monks farmed, it helped them to survive the Great Anti-Buddhist Persecution more than other sects which relied more on donations. These rules are still used today in many Zen monasteries. From this text comes the well-known saying “A day without work is a day without food” (一日不做一日不食 “One day not work, one day not eat”).

      Work everyday, but it’s OK to be idle, or don’t forget to be idle too.

    4. freedomny

      I’ve been “idle” for almost two years and I have to say, I never realized just how entertaining I am…to me.

      I did tell my mother the other day that I may go back to work. I’m thinking Trader Joes or dog walking.

      1. Lee

        I never realized just how entertaining I am…to me.

        Reminds me of a friend’s quip, “I am an endless source of amusement to myself.”

        I guy I know in his 70s that has been working at TJs for the last several years. He quite likes it. He’s been off for several months recovering from a motorcycle crackup and they were quite happy to accommodate his need for time off and are letting start back at half time until he feels fit enough for more hours.

    5. Summer

      The Russell essay is from 1932. And he was probably echoing sentiments from previous eras.

      Doesn’t bode well for wage workers. And thinking “local” about change didn’t help either. People in the past were closer to “local” than we are today.

  4. Tom Stone

    While I know quite a few people who are outraged at the alleged hacking of the DNC’s servers I don’t know anyone else who has bothered to read any of the emails.
    It’s all about who revealed the emails with NO discussions of their content.
    Odd, isn’t it?

    1. Anon

      Almost as if, thanks to authentication, the e-mails themselves can’t be refuted. Speaking of which, why hasn’t the FBI just barged in and grabbed the servers?

    2. Arizona Slim

      Preach it, Tom!

      I mean, come on. Did Putin make the emailers say what they did in those emails?

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Odd, but it shows we are dealing with a very powerful ‘competitor,’ who can shape-shift discussion topics.

    4. Amfortas the Hippie

      yeah. when i try to talk about the Content of the emails, even my mom thinks i’m a trumper.
      it’s like it never happened.
      the team blue koolaide sickness is very disturbing.

      so much so that i pretty much abandoned news and politics for a week(fell off the wagon for one day and wandered through my usual sources).
      msnbc, which is on all day at mom’s, on 2, sometimes 3 televisions, has become the centrist faux newts.
      I wander through, notice the hair on fire ism in full bloom, and bite my tongue. I know now that i can say nothing to counter the sickness.
      all the facts and figures and historical eidetic memory that I’ve stored up are of no use.
      I had thought that the Mindf^c% was bad prior to hillary losing the unlosable, but now team blue is talking about people like george will and max boot like they’re heroes of the resistance.

  5. Wukchumni

    Watched SBC’s show yesterday, and the first few segments were weak tea @ best, but the last one on arming toddlers to teenagers was pure comedy gold, in that those that fell for it were oh so willing to be taken in, and it showed.

    I think his ersatz Israeli character might be one of his best!

    Can’t wait for the next episode, but having no choice in the matter, i’ll just have to bide my time.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      His Israeli cross with the SNL pump you up guys was easily his worst character. What it showed wasn’t that these guys eager to be fooled. They wanted permission to say the crazy stuff they believe but don’t share. Borat, Bruno, ad Ali G were way more realistic than that bizarre Jewish Arnold Schwarzenegger routine.

      This might be his best show, but its by far his worst character. His other characters could at least lead to humor as people tripped over themselves to be polite.

      1. Wukchumni

        I dunno about that. You know how horny the pachyderm party is for anything Israeli, and the character came off as a Mav Krag instructor, somewhat saddle sore for some reason, with a swagger.

  6. stefan

    Quote of the day, from Vladimir Putin: “You ask about who to believe, who not to believe, what to believe. You can’t believe anyone.”

    1. Montanamaven

      And another thing. Even if the Russians did hack the DNC and Podesta, the information was not fake that was released. On the other hand, the “Steele Dossier” was commissioned by the DNC and Hilary and was fake.
      We live in absolutely crazy times where the Fat Cat News and it’s viewers have put aside any remnants of critical thinking.

      1. polecat

        Are You, or anyone You know, suffering from Neuronal Criticality Meltdown Syndrome ?
        If You, or your formerly informed loved-ones are suffering from NCMS, Please, See your Doctored today ! … and while your/they are seated in the waiting room, trying to keep from contracting a nasty cold war, make sure you spend some reading TIME faking it.

      2. Tom Denman

        Exactly. Where was the outrage when it emerged that the Democratic National Committee rigged the 2016 presidential nomination for a blatantly corrupt warmonger?

        Today, on CBS, the pundits were rounding on Trump for publicly disagreeing with the putative consensus of the U.S. “intelligence community” that Russian GRU hacked the DNC’s servers. They were on the verge of tears. From the sound of their voices one would have thought they had just witnessed the President of the United States bludgeoning an infant on the White House lawn in front of the entire press corps.

        We might not know what intel analysts presently working for the government think. But there’s reason to doubt there’s that there is such a consensus. [1]

        Great fun to watch the political class hyperventilate over Trump when one knows that it is their own rotten system that they really are afraid of.

        [1] https://consortiumnews.com/2018/07/15/memo-to-the-president-ahead-of-mondays-summit/

  7. Wukchumni

    The median CNN prime time viewer is now 59 years old. The median FOX viewer is 66.
    Was watching the World Series and there were a number of commercials for AARP, as the average age of an MLB fan is in the same league as CNN & Fox, @ 57.

    All 3 pursuits seem like so much toten hosen, irrelevant.

    1. fresno dan

      July 16, 2018 at 3:22 pm

      All those crazy young’uns – no wonder the world is all screwed up! I don’t know how many times I’ve had to chase Rachel Maddow and Sean Hannity off my LAWN!!!

      1. Wukchumni

        I keep threatening to go to a minor league baseball game in Visalia, and as long as my demands aren’t met, i’ll just go on threatening.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Personally, I think the Scott Ritter in TruthDig (see above) is a far bigger story. But what would I know?

      * * *

      Which gives me an opportunity to speculate that the press “knows” — by which I mean “believes” all the claims in Mueller’s indictment are true, because that’s what all their sources in the intelligence community have been saying for months, on background. Access journalism at its finest. And we saw exactly the same thing with WMDs.

      We are still where we are when this shitshow began: We have to take the intelligence community’s assessments on faith, because dull normals like us will never be permitted to see the evidence. You do see that allowing that to happen means that we’ve handed over control of the Presidential selection process to a secret vetting process run by the three letter agencies? As has been, I have contended, their goal from the beginning? If power is lying in the street, are they the ones we want picking it up? The stakes are much larger than Trump or not-Trump.

      Accepting claims from interested parties with no evidence…. Pas si bete

      1. Montanamaven

        I am listening to Fox News and MSNBC. I listen for what they both agree on. The rest is kayfabe. Both of them use a phrase that annoys me. “Putin, a former KGB agent, __________________.” Fill in the blank with things like “knows how to lie.,,Knows how to get dirt on people…. Is shifty… must be in charge of all this meddling….”
        Can we add everytime one of these pressitutes says this, “Remind me about what President George H.W. Bush was before he was president?”
        That drives me crazy and anything that Richard Haas says.

          1. ambrit

            Seeing how Haass is involved with the CFR, and State, I’d say that he was one of the Guacamole Dips.

            1. Wukchumni

              Please, I beg you not to inform the MIC et al about the potential of ‘cado warfare’ in that if there is a shortage of fresh guac on account of it being utilized for weaponry, heads will roll.

              1. ambrit

                Don’t knock it. ‘Cado’ warfare is the new ‘Green’ to die for.
                The other ‘Green’ involves Venal Vegans, and maybe some Zeta Reticulans too, but there we’re getting into some Grey areas.

      2. Carolinian

        Hey no need to get snarky. The Ritter–which I had already seen–nails it.

        And if intelligence agencies are going to start trying to pick our presidents then we need to at least question their first premises–things that are not “top secret.”

        To wit, we are not at war with Russia of even in any sort of strategic conflict, at least not one that has been declared. Unless the Russians somehow hacked and changed the presidential voting it’s hard to see how this whole row is a story at all except insofar as the Dems and the press want it to be. Putin today declared that he did in fact want Trump to win. So what? At least he didn’t call Hillary Hitler which is what she called him.

        But if the CIA and the FBI are going to turn partisan then perhaps it’s time to question why we need them at all. Some of us have been asking this for a long time….

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Everyone turning Republican?

          1. abolish ICE
          2. abolish CIA
          3. abolish FBI
          4. abolish IRS
          5. abolish TSA

          Pretty soon, ours will be a smaller government.

          1. JBird

            I like government. I believe in government. I want bureaucracies. It is (somewhat) hyperbolic to demand the destruction of the these agencies, and really plenty of the workers are decent but ensnared.

            However, the bureaucracy of theses agencies as a whole especially its leadership are corrupt, dysfunctional, rent seeking, hives of scum and villainy, and so what is the use of careful reform? One’s politics doesn’t matter if all these government does is serve the rich, powerful, and connected in some form of society wide form of burn and pillage with the security apparatus being used to keep the proles from even protesting, and forget about protecting themselves.

            Sometimes people feel like burning it all down and rebuilding over the burnt smoldering ruins.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Nothing coordinated though.

              On one side, you have ‘abolish ICE.’

              On the other side, you hear ‘abolish IRS.’

              Somewhere else, you have the ‘abolish TSA’ people.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Larger than Trump or not-Trump?

        Since his initial ‘investigate Russia,’ Sanders hasn’t said much when it has becomes more and more apparent to be larger than Trump or not-Trump.

        If this comes down to handing over the control of the Presidential selection process, he should definitely speak up and side with Trump.

        No more ‘keeping the powder dry.’

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We also need to remember that for creative geniuses, it’s but a short jump from ‘Medicare-for-All’ to the USSR.

        2. Xihuitl

          “While U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir declared during a joint press conference on Monday that their one-on-one discussion was “successful and useful,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) denounced the two leaders’ public appearance as “an embarrassing spectacle” and ripped Trump in particular for failing to “make clear that interference in our elections is unacceptable.”‘

          Common Dreams, July 16, 2018

          1. djrichard

            Two big dogs: one obedient. The other a hound dog who won’t be disciplined. Gotta go with the hound dog. Even if it’s straying over into that Russian neighbor’s yard …

          2. djrichard

            Well withstanding my previous comment, here’s the top comment (at this time) on this article, https://www.yahoo.com/news/latest-ryan-says-no-russia-interfered-175635647–politics.html

            Rand Paul and Bernie Sanders did not vote for Russian sanctions.

            So points to Bernie for understanding that his enemy is behind him. Advantage to Trump in a way in that for him at least that enemy is an enemy that’s in front of him instead of behind him. So in a way, he can act more liberated (and less obedient) and deal with that enemy head on. OK, maybe not entirely in front of him, but still more direct than what Bernie is dealing with.

            That said, Bernie does have the option to go full gonzo and follow in Trump’s lead. LoL, can you imagine?

      4. John

        The Ritter piece is pretty thin. He complains that the indictment provided no evidence then he provides no conclusive evidence. The best he has is a report from June 2017 to refute an inducement from July 2018. You think a year of intense investigation couldn’t turn up more information? Sounds like click bait to me.

        At the press conference Putin was asked if he had compromising information about Trump. He hemmed and hawed and changed the subject. Neither man said “No.”

        I look forward to Trump and the rest of his cabal being sent to prison. That includes Pence who is in this right up to his albino eyebrows.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We have some powerful people talking treasonous conduct already.

          Fortunately, nothing unconstitutional, such as the Business Plot.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > The Ritter piece is pretty thin. He complains that the indictment provided no evidence then he provides no conclusive evidence.

          The burden of proof is on the accuser. Just saying.

      5. clarky90

        Joe Rogan Experience #1139 – Jordan Peterson
        2,597,039 views, Jul 2, 2018


        Joe Rogan and Jordan Peterson, among many things, discuss the appetite of their audiences, for long form, detailed discussions. This episode (#1139) is 3 hours and 20 minutes long.

        Jordan Peterson’s 15 Bible Series Lectures, total about 40 hours, and have been viewed by millions of people. He intends to carry on…. He is only up to Joseph’s Coat of Many Colours.


        The point is not Joe Rogan or Jordan Peterson, BUT

        The internet has been a revolutionary change in the way we communicate outwardly, and receive information. Someone with a laptop in their kitchen (for instance, Mark Dice) can reach more people than CNN. The bandwidth and technology constraints have dropped. People ARE, really, really smart! (We are supposed to be stupid and docile) And, people love the long form of visual and audio information and discussion. Who would have ever guessed?

        The Political Priests and the “The Persistent State” Clergy are losing control of the Gospel of “Love, not Hate”. “uh oh, my income stream from Indulgences!”

        It is akin to the invention of printing press. The Renaissance (rebirth)

        This is a simple explanation of why we are seeing the Power Elite gnawing furiously on their own tails (autophagy). Ordinary People are realizing that processed, bite sized, “junk wisdom” does not nourish their minds or souls!

        They want to feast on, and discuss, Human Wisdom, and all of the points of view. I am glad.

  8. rjs

    as i’ve been saying…

    Natural Gas Is Not Filling Storage Quickly Enough Before Winter — Natural gas is not making any progress in whittling down its significant storage deficit. This will not be a big issue if the upcoming winter is warmer than normal, or even normal. However, if the upcoming winter is much colder than normal, then parts of the country will run out of natural gas in storage and shortages will occur before the winter is over. This could cause a large rally in natural gas prices before the end of winter, if the winter is much colder than normal. At this point in time it is too early to know what the temperatures will be for the upcoming winter.

    you all gotta understand, there is no one responsible for seeing that we have adequate natural gas supplies going into the winter, and that US gas producers have a greater incentive to liquefy and export gas at three times the domestic price than to store it here, since any gas shortages that develop will only cause the price to rise, making their remaining gas output that much more profitable for them…

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Some good news, for one day (today), as crude is down almost $3.00/barrel.

    2. ambrit

      You have made a good argument for nationalizing American natural gas supplies as a matter of national security.

      1. rjs

        trouble is Mr Trump thinks we can export more than we have…

        the time will come when even our shale reserves are depleted, and we will again be importing gas at 10 times what we’re getting for exporting it today…

      2. JohnnyGL

        Don’t forget about 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt backed the coal miner’s strike and threatened to NATIONALIZE the coal mines for precisely those reasons.

        More immediately, those rotten utilities want their pipeline running through residential areas of Eastern MA and they aren’t stopping until they get it!

        1. Wukchumni

          “We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields and obstructing navigation.”

          Teddy Roosevelt

    3. Ed Miller

      I respectfully disagree that we should be concerned at this time. Seeking Alpha articles are frequently pushing an agenda, as I’ve learned reading them for years. I have cut way back on even glancing at them as a result.

      I don’t have 20 year data on natural gas storage but I have followed that market, on and off, since the 1990’s. We have been in worse shape in the past and there has always been enough gas to meet critical demand, which means keeping homes heated. If the available gas flow is insufficient to meet all demand then certain commercial gas demand will be curtailed. This article makes me think of Chicken Little and “The sky is falling”. I don’t mean any disrespect for anyone here at NC but that is my reaction.

      At the link below you can see the patterns for the last 5 years. They only show 5 years so one can’t get a longer term view without having data going back further. The important point is that storage swings wildly on a seasonal basis, which those who follow energy markets know. If there is a real chance of problems then the price of natural gas will rise. Rising price will eventually curtail commercial demand during the most severe winter months. I don’t see the price rising, but instead I see price noise below $3 per mmbtu.


      Note: If this link comes up at the home page, click on Gas Storage (in the left column), then on View Graph (in the upper right) to see the seasonal trends and the year-to-year variation in graphical form, which is my preference.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Nice one from @VisualCap – a history of US trade wars. An illustration that anti-globalism is always countertrend and short-lived. http://www.visualcapitalist.com/history-u-s-trade-wars/

    The other way to phrase the same occurrence: Localism peace = trade war and localism-under-attack = trade peace.

    Or something like that.

    The point is most people want to avoid war. That means warring on localism, without, of course, saying it.

    1. Lee

      Also, I suppose one can safely assume that the calculations indicating a reduction in trade costs treat the environment and social dislocation as externalities.

    1. Andrew Watts

      Let’s skip right to the entertaining stuff.

      By February 1671, John Churchill was back in London and duelling with Sir John Fenwick.[26] Churchill’s handsome features and manner – described by Lord Chesterfield as “irresistible to either man or woman” – had soon attracted the ravenous attentions of one of the King’s most noteworthy mistresses, Barbara Villiers, Duchess of Cleveland.[27] But his liaisons with the insatiable temptress were indeed dangerous. One account has it that upon the King’s appearance Churchill leapt out of his lover’s bed and hid in the cupboard, but the King, himself wily in such matters, soon discovered young Churchill, who promptly fell to his knees. “You are a rascal”, said Charles, “but I forgive you because you do it to get your bread”.Wikipedia

      This peculiar event will repeatedly be encountered if you read books about the Duke of Marlborough, the rise of British military power, pre-Napoleonic warfare, and/or the pivotal battle of Blenheim. The Duchess of Cleveland is credited by historians as having secured Churchill’s first military commission as a lieutenant and his subsequent rise through the ranks. Although it wouldn’t be the last time a Churchill had to hide in a closet or escape through a window to avoid an unfortunate circumstance.

      The moral of the story is that behind every “great” man is an even smarter woman. The other lesson is that sometimes you gotta sleep with the King’s mistress to better serve said King and country… or something.

    2. jawbone

      dcblogger — Huge thank you for posting this. I’ve often wondered why it hasn’t been rebroadcast. Probably bcz the Beeb feels it needs to have shorter drama segments to keep those with shortened attention spans tuned in?

      I remember watching this with great enjoyment.

  10. fresno dan

    ChiGal in Caroline & Flora

    You two seem to know quite a bit about Medicare
    A question that I have is with regards to Medicare Supplement insurance (typically know as “Medigap”)
    One can delay signing up for Part B if one has health insurance, and Part D if one has “creditable coverage” and not be penalized.
    but what about delaying Medigap coverage??? Unlike the other two points, I haven’t anything that specifically addresses it.
    Medigap has “guraranteed coverage” (you can’t be denied Medigap coverage and you get the best rate if you get Medigap at your 65 open enrollment period)
    But do you guys know if you can DELAY Medigap coverage like you can for Part B and Part D?

    Also, people who get a Medicare advantage plan can leave such plans and return to “original” medicare if they so choose. It seems to me that that would mean that there has to be a guarantee that Medigap insurance MUST be available to such people, (I can see it not applying to the medigap rate) else wise the option of leaving a medicare advantage plan rings hollow.

    Any comment or references would be much appreciated.

    1. katiebird

      (jumping in) When I met with the volunteers to learn about Medicare and Medigap the volunteer told me that we can sign up for Medigap ANYTIME — not just the initial open enrollment and not just the annual open enrollments — but that we can be required to fill out forms for a health evaluation (I can’t remember the exact term for that). She never mentioned a penalty.

      1. fresno dan

        July 16, 2018 at 5:26 pm

        Well, what she said is TRUE enough…but as you note, INCOMPLETE. You can (?will?) pay a penalty if you miss the open enrollment.

        Medigap policies are sold by private insurers. There are a bunch (type A, B, C, D, F and so on) they differ in relatively minor ways. Each type is required by law to cover the exact same thing. They only differ in price which is caused by the insurance company selling them.

        In most cases, Medigap insurance companies can sell you only a “standardized”
        Medigap policy. All Medigap policies must have specific benefits, so you can
        compare them easily. If you live in Massachusetts, Minnesota, or Wisconsin, see
        pages 42–44.

        Any standardized Medigap policy is guaranteed renewable even if you have
        health problems. This means the insurance company can’t cancel your Medigap
        policy as long as you stay enrolled and pay the premium.
        • Different insurance companies may charge different premiums for the same
        exact policy. As you shop for a policy, be sure you’re comparing the same policy
        (for example, compare Plan A from one company with Plan A from another

        see page 11

        Medigap Open Enrollment Period—A
        6-month period when federal law
        allows you to buy any Medigap policy you want
        that’s sold in your state. It starts in the first month
        that you’re covered under Medicare Part B, and
        you’re 65 or older. During this period, you can’t be
        denied a Medigap policy or charged more due to
        past or present health problems. Some states may
        have additional Open Enrollment rights under
        state law.

        Well, there it is – what I was looking for. You get ONLY one buy of the apple as far as guaranteed rate and issue.
        Thanks NC commenters!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2. flora

      This elderlaw site has pretty good information.
      See the info in the section on Medigap policies:

      One tricky bit is people will sometimes enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan (not traditional Medicare) and then be talked into buying a Medigap plan as well by an insurance agent. The two plans do not mix, and enrolling in both can cause problems.
      See marym’s comment and Medicare plan booklet pages referenced below.

      Aside from that confusing bit – Medicare Advantage vs traditional Medicare + Medigap – which catches a lot of people by surprise, I do not believe there is a penalty for delaying purchase of Medigap insurance.

      1. fresno dan

        July 16, 2018 at 7:57 pm

        page 82

        ■ If you have a Medicare Advantage Plan (like an HMO or PPO), it’s
        illegal for anyone to sell you a Medigap policy unless you’re switching
        back to Original Medicare. If you’re not planning to leave your
        Medicare Advantage Plan, and someone tries to sell you a Medigap
        policy, report it to your State Insurance Department.

        Thanks for the link to the elder law site.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Sorry, just now seeing this. Looks like you have already been pointed in the right direction.

      But I was under the impression that the privatization of Medicare being well underway, it isn’t possible any more for people to get “traditional” Medicare like my 88yo mother has. I would want to double and triple check that if you go the Medicare Advantage route, you can still opt in to a supplemental policy that would be identical to what you could have gotten at the start. That physical exam, for instance, sounds fishy.

      Major props btw for getting out of the house to help folks out, what with the need to devote sufficient time to hanging out in the basement in your bunny slippers and all ;-)

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Fishy indeed; from Flora’s link:

        The best time to buy a Medigap policy is during your Medigap Open Enrollment Period, which is a six-month period that begins on the first day of the month in which you’re 65 or older and are enrolled in Part B. (Some states have additional Open Enrollment Periods.) After this enrollment period, you may not be able to buy a Medigap policy, and if you’re able to buy one, it may cost you more.

        Also, your eligibility for a Medigap plan could be jeopardized if you join a Medicare Advantage plan when you first become eligible for Medicare or you decide to return to original Medicare from a Medicare Advantage plan. Those in Medicare Advantage plans generally don’t need Medigap policies, which can’t be used to pay Medicare Advantage plan copayments, deductibles, and premiums. If you joined a Medicare Advantage plan when you were first eligible for Medicare and decide you want to return to original Medicare, you can choose from any Medigap policy within the first year of joining the Advantage plan.

        If you had a Medigap plan
        but switched to Medicare Advantage, you have the right to go back to the same Medigap policy you had before you joined the Medicare Advantage plan, if the same insurance company you had before still sells it. If the policy is no longer available, you have a guaranteed right to buy a Medigap policy designated A, B, C, F, K or L that is sold in your state by any insurance company as long as you had Medicare Advantage for less than a year. In these cases the insurers cannot refuse you coverage as long as you apply for the Medigap policy no later than 63 days after coverage from your Medicare Advantage plan terminates. The insurance company is required by law to sell or offer you a Medigap policy even if you have health problems (called “pre-existing conditions”). If you had Medicaid Advantage for a year or more or wait longer than 63 days, you can apply but you aren’t guaranteed acceptance.

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            It’s a great formulation isn’t it, with doubtless many applications; the best time to:
            use protection…
            avoid driving while Black…

        1. fresno dan

          ChiGal in Carolina
          July 16, 2018 at 11:48 pm

          ■ If you have a Medigap policy and join a Medicare Advantage Plan,
          you may want to drop your Medigap policy. Your Medigap policy
          can’t be used to pay your Medicare Advantage Plan copayments,
          deductibles, and premiums. If you want to cancel your Medigap
          policy, contact your insurance company. In most cases, if you drop
          your Medigap policy to join a Medicare Advantage Plan, you won’t
          be able to get it back.

          Your are absolutely correct!!!! Me bad, or me lazy. It was right there in the handbook. I will say this in my defense, that I know somewhere in all the training that I got that medicare says that you can drop your medicare advantage plan and go back to “original medicare”
          But if you can’t get medigap insurance, you would be putting yourself at a tremendous risk by just having original medicare Part A and Part B. The deductibles, co-pays and “co-insurance” can add up to a FORTUNE.

          I don’t even know how to draw an analogy ….maybe like having your tallywacker (if your a male) amputated but saying you could still have sex…if sex just consisted of kissing.

          Medicare without medigap insurance is scarcely insurance at all….

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            Yup, the system is NOT your friend. It’s kinda like HR, there not for the employees but for the management.

            You can never be too skeptical of bland assurances.

    1. Annieb

      Kudos for posting this! Hurrah for Caitlin Johnson! Down with assholes and morons who support the new Cold War rhetoric.

  11. Andrew Watts

    US citizens who work with a foreign power to “levy war against the United States” are guilty of Treason (Article III, US Constitution.) It was the Russian *military* that levied the cyberattack charged in the grand jury indictment obtained by Mueller today. “War” or not? Hmmm. .

    — Laurence Tribe (@tribelaw) July 14, 2018

    What does it say about Tribe, or Harvard, that this esteemed professor of constitutional law seems to be unaware that treason under the Constitution is only applicable in cases where two witness testimonies are provided under oath and/or where there’s a confession in open court? It’s like these vile secessionists who betrayed their rightful sovereign King wanted to make treason a crime that is almost legally impossible to convict somebody of.

    Those upstart Colonists will suffer from want of a King. They shall worship their so-called “President” as a demi-god or devil in man’s clothing depending on their allegiance to faction. Long live King George the Third!

    Dude, I get it. I get that everybody who is anybody wants to go to war with Russia, a nuclear power. But how and where? And what does victory look like? And will you send your kids?

    That’s what the disposable class of deplorables are for. Under non-democratic systems of government and Third World countries the military is the only means of class mobility and socioeconomic advancement.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Bernie: “I don’t want to be too radical here, but what would it mean for you to have 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave available.”

        This is followed by stories of workers going to work sick and spreading the germs.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          or sending their sick kids to school because they can’t get off work and there is no affordable childcare and grandma is either on the other side of the country or warehoused somewheres out of sight.
          the result: my kids catch whatever nasty is going around.

          (and, a related long term peeve of mine: why is it that every public restroom door opens inward? so you wash yer hands like a good amurkin and then have to grasp the nasty door handle(touched moments ago by a bad person who didn’t wash their hands) in order to get out of the restroom. I’ve even spoken to(somehow!, lol) the epidemiology guy at the nearest hospital about this.glazed eyes, all around)

          1. foghorn longhorn

            While I get your point about germs and such, the reason egress doors open inward is to prevent them from being wedged shut.
            Check it out in your house, outer doors, bedroom and bathroom doors open inward, closet and pantry doors outward.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              I understand. fire safety and all.
              still, it has bothered me for some time…especially since I’ve had kids in school.
              mine are well trained in germ avoidance, and even quarantine procedure,lol…I’m not so sure about all the other kids.(i’ve been in the banos up at the school. may as well keep pigs in there)

              I’ve noticed the surgeons kicking the kick plate when entering the theater, and the doors that go both ways in a million commercial kitchens.
              surely some balance could be found, after careful study to determine if my intuition is accurate, and this is a source of spreading contagion….
              especially given the declining utility of antibiotics and the rise of superbugs

    1. flora

      It is widely believed that CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC to respond to the hack, gave an identical image of some of the servers to the FBI, which experts I’ve spoken to say would be more useful than giving the FBI a physical server itself.

      Telling me the writer of the article spoke to “experts” who don’t know much about digital forensics, or about shadow tracks often left by magnetic change-of-state on hard drives, among other things. An “Identical” image is always second best for forensic examination. Chain of custody authentication of the original hard drive is crucially important. Questionable chain of custody can make any “exact” image open to doubt about changes that may have been made before the image was created. etc.

      1. flora

        I’ll add that I do not know what happened. I do not buy reasons put forward to accept questionable evidence and definitive.
        Questionable in terms of the digital forensics recovering information from secondaryu sources instead of the primary source with good chain of custody. (I had the same rigorous objections to the claims made by Theranos about their supposed digital wizardry.)

  12. Wukchumni

    Climbing Fatality in Kings Canyon National Park

    KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARK, Calif. July 16, 2018 – On Thursday, July 12 at about four in the afternoon the parks received a satellite device SOS call from the John Muir Trail/Pacific Crest Trail near Center Peak in Kings Canyon National Park, just north of Forester Pass. A hiker reported someone calling for help about halfway up the peak on the northwest side, regarding a possible fall. The hiker was unable to make direct contact with this person due to terrain and monsoon-type weather.

    A park ranger responded on foot, and a helicopter was requested. Another park ranger was short-hauled in via helicopter and evacuated the 37 year old male who was uninjured, but unable to ascend or descend from his location. At about 6:30 in the evening the park ranger confirmed the nearby partner, 30 year old male, was deceased. The next day a recovery operation was completed at 12,000 feet elevation and the body was transferred to the Tulare County Coroner’s Office.

    Another cabin owner & I skedaddled up to Farewell Gap (10,587) on Thursday, the same day of the fatality, and when the remnants of Mexican monsoons come north, the typically gentle High Sierra summer becomes as unpredictable as any mere mortal mountain range usually is…

    Truth be said, it’s usually bomber blue skies overhead and a not quite blistering sun in the Sierra on most any day, so it was a nice change of pace and maybe a bit foolhardy being out and about like that, but so what, we didn’t make the news.

    We got rained on, and the clouds overhead became ever more violent in their intentions and the view looking down from whence we came @ the Disney Parking Lot in Mineral King Valley, it appeared like the set from a horror film all done in CGI on account of it looking so unbelievably dark and gothic in this one 10 minute stretch of our sojourn.

    The Marmot Cong were merciful on our ride when we got back to the trailhead, no damage to report.

  13. Wukchumni

    An NPS friend told me that Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep have been seen on the Chagoopa Plateau (don’t miss Moraine Lake if you go) on the Western Sierra, which is part of the Mt Williamson herd that has grown to sufficient size, so as to allow transplanting via helo in 2014, in the Big Arroyo.

    The Mt Williamson herd is on the opposite side of the Kern river and up on high in the Eastern Sierra, and there’s about 7,000 of down and then about a like amount up between flocks, in case they get homesick, it’s not an easy get, especially with only one bridge over the Kern.

    The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep was once common as say bears are now, and then came the scourge of the many summers of sheep thrills in the High Sierra. Not only did the lambs have their way eating everything living on the ground, they also trampled meadows and shit all over the place, and sadly for the SNBC, they had scabies, which was tantamount to what took down the Wukchumni and all other Yokut sub-tribes on the west flanks of the Sierra, when measles killed 90% of all clans in the same time frame in 1868-69, extending all the way over to the east side where the Paiutes also had similar awful totals.

    They reckon there’s 600 of them out there, and one of the ways they raise money to move em” around, is by auctioning off the tag that allows you to hunt one.

    It’s the ne plus ultra of hunting trophies if you’re into that thing, and said tag costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    About a decade ago we were at a party, and there’s a local guide here that will take the lucky check writer off into the back of beyond in the Highest Sierra, & he knows his stuff, and we had heavily marinated SNBS as part of a pot luck dinner, as his client only wanted the head, to be mounted on a wall somewhere.

    No amount of marinade could hide the gaminess of it.

  14. VietnamVet

    The media and the Democrats have jumped the shark. “Donald Trump is an incompetent traitor for wanting to normalize relations with Russia.” They have no sense of history or of the risks of a nuclear war from the new Cold War. Russia has had a naval base in Crimea since 1783. The drive to replace Iranian and Russians governments is in order to greenlight exploitation there by multinational corporations. Propaganda and hybrid proxy wars were deployed. But, the schemes are falling flat on their face. When halted and the only wealth left to exploit is here, the chaos that has already forced 70 million refugees from their homes will blow across the West.

    1. skippy

      Bill Browder — who is the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management — once ran Russia’s most successful investment fund, but in 2005 he was declared an enemy of the state for his part in exposing massive corruption to the tune of more than $300 million.

      Now Mr Browder — who is a lobbyist for the Magnitsky Act, a law that punishes Russian human rights violators — has found himself at the centre of negotiations between Mr Trump and Vladimir Putin at their Helsinki summit.
      Browder wants Australia to sign up

      British-American businessman Bill Browder, who has had extensive dealings with Russia, is urging Australia to adopt legislation to crackdown on Russian criminals looking to use Australia as a safe haven.

      Mr Trump said Mr Putin privately made an “incredible offer” to help American investigators in their prosecution of 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking crimes during the 2016 presidential election season.

      In return, the Russian President said he expected the US to help with investigations into Mr Browder.

      “There is a well-known case of Hermitage Capital. According to our investigation, Browder’s partners have illegally made more than $1.5 billion in Russia,” Mr Putin said.

      “They have paid no taxes in Russia and the United States but they transferred this money to the United States, 400 million [dollars] has been channelled into [Hillary] Clinton’s pre-election campaign.”

      Mr Browder, who has written a book on his fight for justice and how he routinely deals with Russian attempts to have him arrested through Interpol, spoke to the ABC’s The World program ahead of the Trump-Putin summit.

      Speaking on condition his location wasn’t revealed, Mr Browder explained why the Helsinki meeting gave credibility to Mr Putin, among other issues.


      1. integer

        Agent William F. Browder: The Smoking Gun Russia Insider

        The common conclusion of my two encounters with Bill Browder was that his intensity and the time he was devoting now to putting in place anti-Russian sanctions in Europe was in no way comparable to the behavior of a top level international businessman. It was clear to me that some other game was in play.

        The Untouchable Mr. Browder? Unz Review

        Who is this extremely influential man? A businessman, a politician, a spy? The American-born Jewish tycoon William Browder, says The Jewish Chronicle, considers himself Putin’s Number One enemy. For him, Putin is “no friend of the Jews”, “cold-blooded killer” and even “criminal dictator who is not too different from Hitler, Mussolini or Gadhafi”. More to a point, Browder is the man who contributed most to the new cold war between the West and Russia. The roots were there, still he made them blossom. If the US and Russia haven’t yet exchanged nuclear salvos, do not blame Browder: he tried. For a valid reason, too: he was hit by cruel Hitler-like Mr Putin into his most susceptible spot, namely his pocket. Or was there even a better reason?

        Here’s hoping Browder gets what he so richly deserves.

      2. ambrit

        Well, if Pat Lang over at SST is right, it was the Chinese all along.
        Read: http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/07/editorial-china-hacked-clintons-e-mail.html
        The well known Trump Derangement Syndrome strikes again: https://www.yahoo.com/news/vladimir-putin-just-humiliated-donald-175200872.html
        As for Browder, does he mention that a lot of the corruption plaguing Russia after the break up of the Soviet Union was the result of implementation of Chicago School economic ‘reforms?’
        The Big Lie in action.

        1. skippy

          Old NC territory with Ames et al… seems some other stomping grounds are feeling the love too…

    2. flora

      Oh, plenty of Republicans have jumped the same shark: John McCain, Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, and others. In fact, the near full bipartisan political shark jumping on this one makes me think they’re all worried some of their biggest gravy trains are at risk. There are only 2 times I see politicians really go crazy: when their relections look doubtful and when their gravy trains are threatened. imo.

      1. flora

        adding: if I were being really snarky I’d suggest this new cold war is a war between the US and the Russian oligarchs and energy companies, carried out by their financially dependent politicans… on both sides of the Atlantic. But that would too cynical and too snarky to say… ;)

  15. Roger Smith

    Bourdain’s interview is a good illustration of a illusion I see many decent minded Democrat leaning people fall into. This group of people can honestly assess the Clinton as the scourge they are (to at least some degree) but when it comes to Obama it is always that “he was a real person, he made mistakes, but gosh darn it, he was really trying.” Are people watching the same guy as I am? Obama is an insecure 7th grader who wants to do whatever he can to be one of the cool kids. He is extremely vain, calculating, boring when he doesn’t care, and treacherous when he does. He is a snake.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      They are, but to paraphrase the apocryphal Mark Twain quote, its easier to swindle a person than it is to convince them they have been swindled.

      Since Obama really didn’t do much besides rather dull emotional appeals, the con was largely self initiated. People wanted to be conned and follow a strong man leader when Obama was clearly just a puppet of the very serious people, whoever he deemed those to be at the time (I don’t think hes necessarily in hock to bankers as much as is a devoted servant to ideas of expertise, but that’s easily arguable). He offered easy answers. Prayers and less fussing can solve all our problems was his pitch. “Turn off the TV, Michelle’s dad had a great job.” Wow! His “race” speech was total garbage.

      Like Bill and Hillary, Obama is such an obvious crummy human being who embraced his mentor Joe Lieberman and continued and expanded Bush excesses. It boils down to how can such smart and sophisticated people have been conned. The answer is they can’t, so there must be a credible explanation. “Obama was trying.” “OMG Russia.” So there solutions to the failures of Obama versus their perception of Obama fall into category of “can’t be quantified.”

      Its kind of like how Republicans and libertarians whine about the “national debt” when pressed on their hideous ideas. They aren’t so much hideous people so much as wedded to a tribal signifier (the libertarians might be bad people), but they resort to a hideously large number as a means of disrupting the argument because the national debt is going to muddy any conversation, the number is so much more than we are use to dealing with that we have a hard time discussing it rationally.

  16. ewmayer

    o “BlackRock begins exploration of bitcoin” [Financial News] … [F]irms in the City are increasingly interested in getting into the asset class in on the scam.” — Fixed it for you.

    o “The Unique Neurology of the Sports Fan’s Brain” [Nautilus] … there was a hypothesis floating around among social psychologists at the time that fans ride a similar hormonal high…” — a.k.a. the “No shit, Sherlock” story of the day. Akin to the kind of drivel we often see from ivory-tower econ types: “there was a hypothesis floating around among macroeconomists that high private debt levels might be associated with a reduction in discretionary spending…”

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