2:00PM Water Cooler 7/20/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I became engrossed in writing a mini-essay about William Gibson. I’ll pull a few more items off the shelves in short order. –lambert UPDATE 2:35PM All done!


“Trump Says He’s ‘Ready To Go’ With $500 Billion in Tariffs on All China Imports” [Bloomberg]. “President Donald Trump said he’s “ready to go” with tariffs on $500 billion of Chinese imports, saying the U.S. has been taken advantage of for too long. ‘I’m not doing this for politics. I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country,” Trump said in a CNBC interview aired Friday. ‘We are being taken advantage of and I don’t like it.’ The $500 billion figure is about the value of Chinese goods imported into the U.S. last year.” • If goods really are backed up on China’s docks, then they’re backed on on the factory loading docks too. Then come the layoffs. So perhaps “making China scream” will work, if the Chinese worker screams before the American consumer.

UPDATE “Amodei, chamber express concerns about Trump’s tariffs” [Nevada Independent]. “‘We’re willing to give the president a little bit of time to do whatever it is he’s doing, but…there is definitely some antsiness out there,’ [Rep. Mark Amodei] told a delegation from the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce visiting Washington, D.C…. Hugh Anderson, chairman of the chamber’s Government Affairs Committee and a managing director with investment firm HighTower Las Vegas, said the general concern is that there doesn’t seem to be a plan on tariffs. ‘Nobody seems to be very clear on what the strategy is. Is this just an attention-getting proposition? Is it going to be carried through?’ he said. ‘But the ramifications are already hitting, because businesses can’t plan.'” • The Nevada Independent is John Ralston’s venue — he of the fake chair-throwing story at the Nevada caucuses — so who knows, but presumably even Ralston would quote these sources correctly.



UPDATE “Eric Holder for President? Obama’s Former Attorney General ‘Seriously Considering’ Running in 2020” [HuffPo]. “Former Our President Barack Obama’s play cousin, Eric Holder, is reportedly strongly considering running for the White House in 2020.” • Don’t give up your day job, Eric. Though I suppose Biden/Holder might resonate with some.


“Three Republican Governors Face Increasingly Tough Election Contests” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Despite the bad news for the GOP in our ratings, we will add an important caveat to close: The RGA continues to have a substantial money edge on its rival, the Democratic Governors Association. Granted, the RGA is defending a lot of ground — Republicans already control 26 of the 36 governorships on the ballot this year — but the committee has the financial wherewithal to move the needle and potentially snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in some close races. The RGA’s deep pockets are always a factor to consider in close gubernatorial races.”

UPDATE KS-03: “But Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have more expansive aims than turning the 3rd blue. They want to prove their theory of the progressive case” [The Intercept]. “On Friday, [Sanders and AOC] will rally for Brent Welder, a former labor lawyer running on a platform of “Medicare for All,” a $15 an hour minimum wage, tuition-free public college, and reducing big money’s influence in politics. ‘Brent can win, he can win,’ Ocasio-Cortez said on The Dig, a podcast from Jacobin magazine…. Indeed, a February poll of the district gave Welder a 7-point lead against Yoder, with broad support for many of Welder’s ideas. ‘People say, ‘How can you win in Kansas on progressive policies?’’ Welder told The Intercept in an interview. ‘I’ve learned that the only way to win in Kansas is on progressive policies.'” • Or with oodles of outside money: “To make their case, however, they’ll have to get past EMILY’s List first. Last week, the group’s Super PAC Women Vote! dropped $400,000 on an ad to support Sharice Davids, a lesbian, Native American, amateur mixed martial arts fighter who was a fellow in the Obama administration.” Wowsers, Davids ticks a bunch of boxes doesn’t she? I especially like the way that “mixed martial arts fighter” ties in with the liberal Democrat “fighting for” trope…

New Cold War

“Lunatic Politics (Part 2) – It’s Becoming Impossible to Have a Conversation” [Liberty Blitzkreig]. ” Russiagate has morphed into a creepy D.C. establishment religion where merely demanding evidence for the wild claims being made gets you labeled a traitor or Putin agent. Ironically, average Americans don’t care about the issue [according to the Gallup poll cited]…. One of the more discouraging and sad parts of the current environment is watching many of Trump’s opponents, who define themselves by being ethical, completely toss this aside in their furor at Trump.” • That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.

“Americans have forgotten what ‘treason’ actually means — and how it can be abused” [NBC]. From February, still germane: “The Founders went out of their way to define treason narrowly because they knew how it had been repeatedly abused in the past…. For much of the pre-revolutionary period in England, the accusation was a means of suppressing political dissent and punishing political opponents for [trivial] crimes.” • Indeed.

Lambert here: Liberal Democrats seem to have invested the “intelligence community” with a sort of se majesté, no doubt appropriate for other nations but odd in our own. Unless you make the assumption that a ruling meritocracy and democracy are in some way incompatible, of course. One might speculate that liberals are in love with the complexity of “the secret world,” as Le Carré calls it, in the same way that, as Thomas Frank points out, they’re in love with the complexities of Dodd-Frank or ObamaCare. Liberal spy-humping would then be the fun-house mirror equivalent of conservative gun-humping. Of course, the militarism implicit in gun-humping can be rarified and commodified. William Gibson, in Zero History describes just that: “Young men who dress to feel they’ll be mistaken for having special capability… It’s an obsession with the idea not just of the right stuff, but of the special stuff. Equipment fetishism. The costume and semiotics of achingly elite police and military units. Intense desire to possess same, of course, and in turn to be associated with that world. With its competence, its cocksure exclusivity.” Revise as follows: “semiotics of achingly elite police and military intelligence units,” and you have a neat formula to explain the liberal elevation of “intelligence commmunity” apparatchiks like Clapper (perjurer), Brennan (torturer), and Mueller (entrapment artist) to the #Resistance pantheon; there are, no doubt, blogs devoted to “equipment” intel fetishism, and I would imagine that access journalists are especially vulnerable to being “turned” as assets. If you read Gibson’s Bigend Trilogy through this lens, you’ll see that spy-humping is pervasive, both in plot and theme. It’s not called out explicitly; Gibson’s readers, one speculates, would balk at self-identification as spy-humpers, even as they distance themselves from gun-humpers (“young men who dress to feel”). Gibson’s next novel will be an alternative future where Clinton won, so it will be interesting to see that play out in plot and theme terms.

“Here’s What Americans Made Of Trump’s Meeting With Putin, According To The Polls” [Ariel Edwards-Levy, HuffPo]. “Just over half the public currently says the Trump administration’s relationship with Russia is a legitimate issue… Opinions, as ever, are deeply politicized. In the HuffPost/YouGov poll, 83 percent of Trump voters approve of Trump’s performance in Helsinki, compared to the 9 percent approval he garners among voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Non-voters and third-party voters narrowly approve, 35 percent to 26 percent, with a 40 percent plurality undecided.” The story includes the following chart:

Kudos to Edwards-Levy for including a link to the data; alert reader Dan Kloke reworked the chart, with better colors, and bar heights that correspond to population (for 2016 voters):

Kloke comments:

The point is that although the polling universe’s respective group volume proportions (of self-reported HRC, DJT, Other, and non-voters in the 2016 Presidential) don’t exactly match the national demographics, they’re in the ball-park, and the lower self-reporting for DJT voters may suggest some buyer’s remorse or social shame [Hat tip: MyLessThanPrimeBeef, q.v.]. Also, it shows how much more extreme the differences in perception/position are between the HRC Dems and pretty much everybody else. Charts comparing in-group percentages with each other don’t show group proportions.

Naturally HuffPo would prefer to let its readers feel they are more mainstream, but maybe they’re closer to a fringe condition than they realize. A little self-awareness can go a long way especially during strategic/tactical planning.

I don’t think liberal Democrats are in their self-awareness space right now, unfortunately for everybody.

UPDATE Solid jab:

The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds

“God Bless the ‘Deep State'” [Eugene Robinson, WaPo]. “Before this hare-brained and reckless administration is history, the nation will have cause to celebrate the public servants derided by Trumpists as the supposed ‘deep state.'” The term itself is propaganda, intended to cast a sinister light upon men and women whom Trump and his minions find annoyingly knowledgeable and experienced. They are not participants in any kind of dark conspiracy. Rather, they are feared and loathed by the president and his wrecking crew of know-nothings because they have spent years, often decades, mastering the details of foreign and domestic policy. God bless them. With a supine Congress unwilling to play the role it is assigned by the Constitution, the ‘deep state’ stands between us and the abyss.” • I don’t want to sound like a nihilist, and I don’t accept the “deep state” as a tool for analysis; but this is an excellent example of spy-humping. I mean, these “Masters of Detail” are the ones who brought us Iraq, right? And Obama’s disposition matrix?

UPDATE #russiarussiarussia:

2016 Post Mortem

UPDATE Dear me:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Liberal Blind Spots Are Hiding the Truth About ‘Trump Country'” [Sarah Smarsh, New York Times] (Smarsh; she has the New Yorker imprimatur.) “Stories dispelling the persistent notion that bigotry is the sole province of ‘uneducated’ people in derided ‘flyover’ states are right before our eyes: A white man caught on camera assaulting a black man at a white-supremacist rally last August in Charlottesville, Va., was recently identified as a California engineer. This year, a white male lawyer berated restaurant workers for speaking Spanish in New York City. A white, female, Stanford-educated chemical engineer called the Oakland, Calif., police on a family for, it would appear, barbecuing while black…. To find a more accurate vision of these United States, we must resist pat narratives about any group — including the working class on whom our current political situation is most often pinned. The greatest con of 2016 was not persuading a white laborer to vote for a nasty billionaire with soft hands. Rather, it was persuading a watchdog press to cast every working-class American in the same mold” • Worth a read…

UPDATE “U.S. Treasury moves to protect identities of ‘dark money’ political donors” [Reuters]. “The U.S. Treasury said on Monday that it will no longer require certain tax-exempt organizations including politically active nonprofit groups, such as the National Rifle Association and Planned Parenthood, to identify their financial donors to U.S. tax authorities.” • Ka-ching.

Stats Watch

There are no official stats of note today.

UPDATE Employment Situation: “BLS: Unemployment Rates Lower in 9 states in June, Oregon at New Low” [Calculated Risk]. “At the worst of the employment recession, there were 11 states with an unemployment rate at or above 11%. Currently only one state, Alaska, has an unemployment rate at or above 7% (light blue); And only Alaska is above 6% (dark blue).”

Shipping: “Big truckers to provide 50,000 jobs over next five years, ATA pledges” [DC Velocity]. “The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said today that the trucking industry will create 50,000 jobs over the next five years as part of the Trump administration’s initiative to provide career opportunities for 500,000 Americans.”

The Bezzle: “Electric scooters on collision course with pedestrians and lawmakers” [CNBC]. “The problem is that pedestrians walk 3-4 miles per hour, or slower. This means scooters are traveling four times as fast. If there is a clear path, the riders are going at full speed, because that is where the fun and thrills are. But considering the speed, weight of the devices and weight of the rider (sometimes two riders), the result is a dangerous force. In a collision, the pedestrian will always be the loser. Putting these speeding motorized vehicles alongside pedestrians is a disaster waiting to happen.” • Another example of “permissionless innovation.” When will the glibertarian greedheads and morons in Silicon Valley realize that “it’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission” applies only inside the firm, and not in public spaces? Perhaps scooter riders should be forced to purchase collision insurance when they reserve a scooter on their phones.

Honey for the Bears: “Sounding the Alarm: Now Is The Time to Be a Cockroach” [Erica.biz]. “Be a cockroach, right now, while everyone else is still getting wasted at the party. Warren Buffet famously said, ‘Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.’ Now is most certainly the time to rein in.” • Include this not as any sort of call — I am super unqualified for that — but because of the vivid metaphor, and because I too went through two tech downturns, and both of them did me a lot of damage (though I have ended up here in my garden, so there are positives, no matter how things might be considered to have netted out).

The Fed: “The New York Fed DSGE Model Forecast–July 2018” [The New York Federal Reserve]. “The model attributes the stronger growth in 2018 to a more buoyant environment for investment. The higher inflation is by and large attributed to price markup shocks.”

The Fed: “Fed Chair Jay Powell: We’re ‘independent of political considerations'” [MarketPlace].

Five Horsemen: “Among the Five Horsemen, Microsoft is at a record high today after a favorable earnings report. Facebook also is at a record high” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 20 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Among the Five Horsemen, Microsoft is at a record high today after a favorable earnings report. Facebook also is at a record high” [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 19 2018

Feduciary: “After a bounce last week, the Federal Reserve’s new short-term yield spread fell back to 0.81%, leaving room for three more rate hikes before inversion. At 0.26%, the traditional 2y10y yield spread allows but one more hike before inversion looms” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (Review of Fed Indicators, Thursday closing values.)

Federal reserve indicators July 19 2018

Class Warfare

“Uber drivers “employees” for unemployment purposes, NY labor board says” [Ars Technica]. “For years, Uber has fought tooth and nail against having its drivers be classified as employees, and not only in the United States—Uber lost a similar case in 2016 in the United Kingdom, and a major case on this exact issue is currently pending before the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. By having significantly fewer employees than it otherwise would, Uber likely saves millions of dollars each year by not paying for drivers’ health, retirement, unemployment, or other benefits that typically come with full-time employment.”

News of The Wired

“Wilde about Paris: the sex, drink and liberation of Oscar Wilde’s ‘lost’ years” [Prospect]. “‘The keynote of Wilde’s exile,’ writes [biographer Nicholas Frankel], was ‘laughter.’ Even if that’s overdoing it, he marshals some good evidence. Sources are dug up, accounts listed. Much of Wilde’s correspondence with his friend Ross was light-hearted and tongue-in-cheek; his letters are laced with bon mots: ‘Laughter is the primeval attitude towards life,’ he wrote, ‘a mode of approach that survives only in artists and criminals.’ Wilde, of course, was both. And what of the work? There was one piece of note in these years: The Ballad of Reading Gaol, which Frankel describes as ‘arguably the best and most important of Wilde’s poems.’ Wilde also prepared some other of his works for publication, but the prolific years of the early 1890s, during which he produced four plays and one novel, were a distant memory.” • Hmm. Is happiness more important than “the work”?

“DARPA Wants Your Insect-Scale Robots for a Micro-Olympics” [DARPA]. “Yesterday, DARPA announced a new program called SHRIMP: SHort-Range Independent Microrobotic Platforms. The goal is ‘to develop and demonstrate multi-functional micro-to-milli robotic platforms for use in natural and critical disaster scenarios.'” • Yeah, sure. Surveillance and targeted advertising, more likely, a la Philip K. Dick’s Theodorus Nitz. From The Simulacra:

Something sizzled to the right of him. A commercial, made by Theodorus Nitz, the worst house of all, had attached itself to his car.

“Get off,” he warned it. But the commercial, well-adhered, began to crawl, buffeted by the wind, toward the door and the entrance crack. It would soon have squeezed in and would be haranguing him in the cranky, garbagey fashion of the Nitz advertisements.

He could, as it came through the crack, kill it. It was alive, terribly mortal: the ad agencies, like nature, squandered hordes of them.

* * *

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 (AW):

AW writes: “From my yard in central ME this morning. I can’t identify, but if you feel its worthy to post, maybe you or one of your astute readers can. I found NC in approximately 2009 when I was looking for answers to the financial crisis and have been a loyal daily reader ever since. Love the site.” Thank you for the fungus, the query, and the kind words!

Holy moly, a wasp the size of a B-52 just circled round my desk; it went from flower to flower and then accelerated off into the distance, so perhaps they work a route for their nectar, like butterflies and hummingbirds do.

* * *

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Jim Haygood

    Yesterday the NYT published an epic article, “The Water Wars of Arizona,” which reads like a coda to Marc Reisner’s 1986 classic Cadillac Desert. It focuses on the Sulphur Springs Valley in southeastern Arizona, part of the Sonoran desert. Excerpts:

    Squeezed by drought and tightening regulations, large farms started to seek out lesser-known pockets of cheap water. In rural Arizona, where there are essentially no groundwater regulations governing irrigation, they found an ideal destination.

    In the valley, where land is a fraction of the price of California’s, the principal cost for nut farmers is water. One farming conglomerate, expanding from Minnesota, bought or drilled 293 wells, some pumping more than 2,000 gallons a minute.

    The groundwater had created, as local farmer Ted Haas put it, “a gold-rush mentality,” which in the next five years yielded a dozen new vineyards, as well as 20,000 acres of corn and wheat and 16 greenhouses for NatureSweet Tomatoes, the country’s largest producer.

    In 2017 alone, one farm pumped 22 billion gallons, nearly double the volume of bottled water sold in the United States annually.

    One resident later told his brother that he would never serve on a board again. “Would you rather arbitrate water use in the Sulphur Springs Valley or peace in Israel?” his brother asked me. Others simply felt there were too many forces already marshaled against them, including the state’s strong agriculture and ranching lobbies.

    This year only two rural groundwater bills have been introduced in the State House. Each proposed to lift regulations to make way for a 7,000-home and a 28,000-home development, respectively, just outside the Sulphur Springs Valley.


    The sinking aquifer in Sulphur Springs Valley is unrelated to looming shortages of Colorado River water, since the Central Arizona Project canal ends in Tucson. But agriculture is the dominant consumer of both ground and surface (river) water. Meanwhile locals beat the drum for more:

    The Sulphur Springs Valley is the most conducive area in the state of Arizona for growing wine grapes. Willcox sits right in the center of the valley. The elevation of 4300′ to 4500′ is ideal and the terroir (soils, temperatures and climate) is very similar to that of both the Rhone Valley in France and Mondoza [sic], Argentina. Warm sunny days and cool desert nights combine with the sandy loam red soils to grow Rhone varietals that impart the special Cochise County characteristics.

    Many more are planned or currently in development. Everyone is getting “vineyard fever”, even some of the locals are catching the bug and planting hobby vineyards.


    Yeehaw …

      1. Skip Intro

        I think you’re on to something: irrigating wine grapes with whiskey would save water and produce a truly distinctive vintage.

    1. Steve

      Having lived in Az for quite a while after college and seeing what was going on with water left me forever convinced that people at the DNA level lack the capacity to solve any of our most dire problems. We have also crossed the statistical bridge between percentages and fixed numbers in that there are enough people now who just don’t care about long term consequences that the perecentage of people who do no longer matters.

      1. Wukchumni

        …and risk potentially unfluoridated water mixing with our precious bodily fluids?

      2. Oregoncharles

        You think that’s a joke, but I don’t. That Canadian water flows down the Columbia. LA has had its hand out for that water, in various ways, for at least half a century – as long as I’ve lived out here.

        They can have our water when we’re done with it and it’s out in the Pacific.

        1. Ed Miller

          When I was a youngster in Boise they also tried to con Idaho into pumping Snake River water into Utah where it could “naturally” flow into the Colorado River collection points for California. They want it all, similar to banksters and money.

      3. AbateMagicThinking - but Not Money

        Re: Invade Canada (won’t be the first time):

        This option reminds me of the recent stuff about squillionaires looking for fixes to the situation they fear most. Their options are:

        1. Make it so that the societal ‘tits-up’ situation does not occur.

        2. Robots to do everything the absent servants and ruined economic system provides (including armed guards).

        3. Become totally self-sufficient. Actually grow their own food, man their own watch towers and do their own dentistry*etc.

        Number one seem like the best option to me, but hey, I got nothin’.


        *Now that reality show I would watch.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Thanks Jim – Top of the Pops comment to my complete flabergastization. How can we go on like this.

      1. RMO

        RE: Invade Canada – Not necessary. Our government (no matter whether the Liberals or the Tories are in power) and corporations will be quite happy to practically give it away if asked. If you think U.S. politicians are cheap, check out the sorts of donations that can buy many of our Canadian M.P.’s.

  2. Wukchumni

    A friend is visiting, and I took him to the Himalayans, er, blackberries that is. They’ll be ripening the next few weeks, and we vanquished the vanguard. Lots of people loathe them, as they love their lebensraum, and tend to take over, spreading like a prickly conquering army that enforces a no-go zone for any other aspiring rooted plants.

    One of the spots is right on Mineral King road for about a mile or so, and the key is if a car is coming, you have to act as if you aren’t harvesting, lest other predominantly white folks all of the sudden want to be fruit pickers. I always give the look of having dropped a nickel out of the car, and i’m on a lost & found mission.

    The ends of our thumbs and index fingers gave us the look of having voted in an Iraq election, and we figured we gleaned around $12 worth each, @ retail value.

    1. ambrit

      Those had better not be a Thibetan variety or the Federal Department of Trade Equalization will slap a tariff on them.

    2. Randy

      Since wild berries have at least 3 times the flavor of their domesticated cousins you need to value your pickings at much higher than $12.

      1. polecat

        Ever try a Loganberry …. they are scrumptious ! And you won’t find them in the stores as they don’t ship well, and thus relegated to home gardening. I’ve planted 2 patches I like them so ! The vines are thornless too.

    3. Kurt Sperry

      We give over a portion of the backyard to wild Rubus armeniacus. The berries on them are still green here. You know the season is on when the bird droppings begin to turn lilac purple.

  3. allan

    More babies may be dying in Congo due to Dodd-Frank law on ‘conflict minerals’ [Marketwatch]

    No, really:

    More than twice as many babies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo may be dying before their first birthday because of a U.S. bank law known as Dodd-Frank that tried to tame violence by armed gangs in the conflict-minerals trade but appears to have caused more lethal results.

    Data from the Property and Environment Research Center, which examined a region in central Africa where so-called conflict minerals are heavily mined, said the U.S. effort appears to be impacting the region’s most vulnerable population as their families suffer economically. …

    “The legislation had the unintended effect of more than doubling infant mortality in villages near eastern DRC mining sites,” the PERC research stated. “Moreover, it also appears to have increased militia violence against civilians, rather than curbing it.” …

    And what exactly is the Property and Environment Research Center? Thank you for asking:

    The Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), formerly the Political Economy Research Center, is a right wing 501(c)3 non profit “think tank” based in Bozeman, Montana. PERC is an associate member of the State Policy Network (SPN).[1] …

    The organization has published articles trivializing and denying the scientific consensus on climate change. PERC fellowship director and senior fellow Daniel K. Benjamin goes as far as arguing that global warming will be beneficial to mankind and improve agricultural output.[4] …

    Somehow reminiscent of that old National Lampoon cover. “If you don’t repeal this banking law … “

  4. Duck1

    Looks like a panther cap, Amanita pantherina, quite similar to the fly agaric but paler.

    1. jefemt

      Yep. Toxic. A. muscaria (fairy tale mushroom— red w/ white spots or scaley warts) was the drink of the Berzerkers.

      1. Oregoncharles

        A friend mistook pantherina for muscaria and wound up in a coma for at least a week. I didn’t hear anything good about the experience.

        Muscaria, also, has to be treated with great respect. It’s the classic fairy toadstool, orange with white spots. There’s a dried one on our mantle.

      2. SimonGirty

        I ate three Amanita Muscaria caps, fried in butter, circa 1977. I’d collected two 13 gallon garbage bags of them and was waiting for the Shannon-Library streetcar, in a VERY reactionary Pittsburgh suburb. A dear friend happened to get on with his new sweetheart. Neither of them made any mention of the bags full of giant orange-red mushroons, white specs flying everywhere. I guess I should mention, having slight but SCARY convulsions. Taking a hot bath to calm down and the chromed fixtures morphing into an alternate universe. Trying further to relax by tuning our tiny Sony B&W TV to Dick Cavett’s languid interview of Gore Vidal. When my girlfriend returned from work, she discovered me trying desperately to climb over a pencil. NEVER assume you know one Amanita from another without a spore print, microscope and recently updated guide. There are Parasol mushrooms that can destroy your liver, also psilocybe lookalikes. Please be careful, folks. Remember poor Claudius!

          1. SimonGirty

            Mmmm… BUTTER! We lived in a neighborhood, where elderly, mostly Italian & Lithuania ladies cautioned me to peel and blanch the mushrooms “to get the poison out” prior to frying & serving them to the kids. I just love the idea, we nerds were taking ethnographic literature so seriously, that somehow our reading and studying would protect us… at the time, these were all listed as “poisonous” period. No differentiation between liver dissolving and hallucinogenic fungi. Local dailies published articles that sent kids to the ER, trying ergot infected rye. Books espoused use of lethal nightshades & kids took whatever they were handed, to escape unacceptable consensus reality?

      3. Shane Mage

        A. Muscaria, also known as “fly-lord” (Baal Zevuv) was identified by R. Gordon Wasson as the “soma” of the Vedas and as being used for shamanic purposes wherever it was to be found (especially in birch groves). “Baal Zevuv” is mentioned in the gospels as a “demon” used by Y’shua bar Abbas (aka Jesus) to cure victims of “demonic possession.”

        1. Shane Mage

          Simon, you should have read Wasson. The “soma” mushroom needs to have its active ingredients extracted in liquid form, not suited like an ordinary mushroom. Wasson quotes the Vedas that the shaman himself was also a “soma press,” whose urine could be safely consumed as a psychedelic by members of a ceremony.

          1. Shane Mage

            This Apple program somehow turned “sauteed” into “suited.” It also has the charming habit (plaguing lots of other peoples’ postings as well) of turning “than” into “that.”

            1. SimonGirty

              Or, fed it dried to caribou, ate their livers and then passed the flagon with my tribe. Sorry, my replies (laden with hypertext links to free pdfs of Wasson, Ott, Huxley & Hoffmann are all disappearing) like tears… in the rain?

          2. SimonGirty

            https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=http://www.maps.org/images/pdf/books/eleusis.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjDxKnj8q7cAhXRVt8KHVEWDpcQFjAAegQIBBAB&usg=AOvVaw0rgdwt0EUG6zyyBZDa1YHc http://doorofperception.com/2015/04/r-gordon-wasson-seeking-the-magic-mushroom/ Thank you. I have! The Wassons. Ott, I’m simply on a tremendously bad motel wifi in Birmingham (more than half asleep). It was this couple, Johnathan Ott, Albert Hoffmann and Andrew Weil’s one professor buddy, who’s studies emboldened some of us to experiment with these substances. Well, that and a difficult to describe affinity with fungi.

  5. MC

    I work for my mother’s tiny ecommerce empire. She is a Trump supporting immigrant (she’s from the Filipino ruling class, they have a taste for authoritarianism and she likes the myth that she’s self made) but she’s getting really fidgety about the tariffs because we buy a lot of stuff wholesale from China. Our annual Asia trade show trip is still scheduled, but she’s been bickering with her husband (a run of the mill white collar bigot) about trade policy lately and it makes me want to rip off my own ears.

    You can imagine this is all very awkward for me but there’s no way of talking sense into either of them. Unfortunately, this is the only job I’ve found that pays me something close to a living wage since I’ve been transitioning out of the academy. Working for family is hell, trade wars make them worse.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Working for family is hell

      Oh yes. But if you survive, in future interacting with the with regular, degree-bearing, early-recruited schlubs will feel like teaching Art and Naps at an upscale daycare. :)

    2. Lee

      I worked in the family biz for awhile. I ended up fleeing to Berkeley in the 70s where I became a wild-eyed hippy radical activist. Don’t let you parents drive you crazy. It’s your job to do that to them. ; )

      1. RMO

        “Working for family is hell” It all depends on the family, doesn’t it? Working in my family business was actually pretty good (fortunately, because all my attempts at going to school and making a career of my own have failed – without that accident of birth I would probably be dead now)

  6. Jim A.

    Electric scooters….Don’t most localities have laws against operating motorized vehicles on sidewalks? A few weeks writing $200 tickets would have a salutary effect IMHO

    1. Lee

      In our business district, all things with wheels save wheelchairs, are banned on sidewalks.

      1. Yves Smith

        When I was a kid, bicycles on sidewalks (save when walking them) were clearly illegal (and this was in both small towns and suburbs). WTF happened?

        1. Scott

          On multiple occasions I’ve seen cyclists eschew using the dedicated bike lane on the road for riding on the sidewalk a few feet away. When I told them politely that they should use the lane, they swore at me.

          1. voteforno6

            Hmm, I’ve seen bicyclists riding on a busy highway, instead of the bike trail thirty feet away from them, running alongside said highway. I enjoy bicycling as much as the next person, but I can see how some of them really annoy the p*** out of drivers.

          1. SimonGirty

            Succinct synopsis. I keep awaiting the perfect photo opportunity of somebody texting, on an electric skateboard, while crossing W72nd against the light up Broadway. Entire families on normal aluminum scooters supplement oud pooped Chinese guys on 80lb electric bicycles, devoid of lights or reflectors, festooned with yuppie dinner bags, silently going against traffic at 35mph https://www.citylab.com/equity/2018/07/is-bike-infrastructure-enough/565271/?utm_source=feed Now, bring on the autonomous mid priced cars, taxis and delivery vehicles.

          2. JTMcPhee

            Any of the 9.9% keeping stats on the “Darwin effect” as manifested in injuries and deaths resulting from ScooterMania? Hey, it is analogous to several kinds of disease processes in the physiological world…

            Oh, wait! I see the problem has been added to the “tort of the week list” of the American Trial Lawyers Association: https://www.jrlawfirm.com/electric-scooter-accidents/ Help is on the way! Or at least a smidgen of “compensation” after the attorney deducts his 40%…

            But as all the Creative Destroyers and Innovators know, the real lootable world has even gone way beyond “It is better to ask forgiveness than permission,” straight to “permissionless…”

        2. Angie Neer

          Yves, thanks for the Seattle meetup! It was great to meet you.

          The city code in Seattle, and the nearby suburbs that I just checked, explicitly permit riding on the sidewalk as long as it done “in a safe and prudent manner,” which includes giving pedestrians the right of way and warning people when you’re overtaking them.

          I commute by bike, and while I much prefer to ride on the road and follow the same rules as cars, there are some places where there is no way to safely ride on the road, but there is a little-used sidewalk.

          Probably everybody has stories of clueless, entitled, beSpandexed cycling fanatics who believe the world should yield to them. I’ve had run-ins with them myself, and they drive me crazy. But if a sidewalk is the only safe way to use a bike for transportation, and I’m not endangering anybody, I’ll ride it.

          1. Chris

            clueless, entitled, beSpandexed cycling fanatics

            We call them MAMILs – middle-aged men in Lycra.

        3. Expat2uruguay

          bicycles are not allowed on the sidewalks in Uruguay. In the two years I’ve been here, I’ve never seen a bicycle on the sidewalk. the sidewalks here are full of people walking and waiting for buses, much different than Sacramento where I lived before.They ride in the road with the crazy drivers and hundreds of huge buses. In California I liked Urban cycling in the street with the cars but I have no interest in doing it here.

        4. Rostale

          If the area I live in is any guide, so few people walk that the sidewalks are nearly empty , so there’s no one to complain about scooters

      2. Altandmain

        As someone who does a lot of walking, I support that. I was once hit as a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk by a bicyclist from behind. It was an accident and apparently the person was new to cycling, but the incident reminded me that if you are walking on foot, and the other person is biking, then you are going to get the worst of it.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          The way things work these days when a Silicon Valley bright idea has arisen, laws will be passed requiring pedestrians wear collars with side mirrors to prevent them from being overrun.

    2. polecat

      It’s also even more risky when combined with weaving to and fro, to avoid those human dung piles.

    3. The Rev Kev

      Considering the sky-high costs of medical treatment in the US as well as the number of lawsuits annually, what happens if someone on a scooter hits and injures someone? And scooters? I was remarking to my wife the other day that when we were kids the only people to ride scooters were kids not old enough to get bicycles. And now they are electric? Years ago an American comedian joked that it was an American trait to put an engine on everything from a toothbrush to a skateboard. I guess that these people comfort themselves with the idea that they are some sort of pioneers in a new lifestyle. Maybe, but I am hearing of a lot about people on scooters who tend to think of themselves as ‘entitled’ somehow.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        One of the things I like about cycling is that I do not have to wait for people who are trying to get the closest parking spot.

        US culture sends a very clear message that using your own gumption to do something is declasse. That’s why you pay a gym membership so you can think about keeping fit.

        God save me from the all the drivers who think that all cyclists are deprived and that they therefore need to personally come up with special new on-the-spot road rules to ‘help me’. I’ll be home twenty minutes ahead of you if you don’t try to ‘give me your right-of-way’ in the middle of a five lane road, thankyouverymuch.

  7. flora

    re: I became engrossed in writing a mini-essay about William Gibson.

    Your mini-essays are always thought provoking. Glad to read them.

  8. Wukchumni

    Honey for the Bears: “Sounding the Alarm: Now Is The Time to Be a Cockroach” [Erica.biz].

    Cash, er Kafka is king?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      We need a Godwin’s Law type meme for when one Kafkas a thread. Or Kafkas an entire Department of Justice :)

  9. JohnnyGL

    Very interesting to take a look at the polling data, but not entirely surprising.

    My takeaway: This is a reminder that media freak-outs don’t persuade or alarm the public very much. They only trigger other libruls. “This is PEARL HARBOR or 9/11!!!!” doesn’t fool anyone that’s not already fooled or doesn’t want to be fooled.

    We should watch the trump approval ratings trackers on RCP to see if this kind of thing confirms the Huff Po data. I suspect Trump’s approval ratings might remain steady.

    The other point I’d make is there seem to be a lot of approvals among non-voters. Don’t rule out that Trump might convince some people who sat out 2016 because they thought he might have been too whacky. They might have a 2nd look and say, “This guy seems to be smoothing things out with Russia and with N. Korea. Maybe he’s not so bad”

    There’s a path open to a popular vote improvement and re-election for Trump.

    2020 watchers should be thinking about the prospects of a Sanders-Trump contest in which Trump’s got a track record of a decent economy and somewhat improved foreign relations, no new wars. A Sanders loss would be an unmitigated disaster for the left. Dollar dem narratives of “lefties can’t win” would be revitalized.

    We also need to be conscious of the fact that media freakouts and fealty to the intel community aren’t helping the brand of Team Dem, and that creates a poisonous environment for any Dem candidate in 2020, because the media’s going to repeatedly demand that all Dem pledge allegiance to intel world over and over again to the annoyance of the public.

    For those who would reply, “dollar dems won’t let sanders win nomination”, I’d invite you to consider the prospects that they’re actually laying a trap for Sanders where he can’t win because they know they can’t stop his winning the nomination.

    If you think I’m wrong about not being able to stop Sanders winning the nomination, you need to tell me who’s going to beat him. I need a specific name beyond “they won’t let him win”. Because no one else on Team Dem has name recognition besides Biden or Warren and they aren’t great campaigners. Biden is downright awful. Warren has limited appeal.

    Okay, rant over, thanks for reading! Hopefully, I’ve stirred up people on a Friday! Have a good weekend, NC readers!

    1. flora

      re: “This is PEARL HARBOR or 9/11!!!!”

      Meaning, of course, the entire Congress, in unified resolve, has offered and is going to pass a bill re-authorizing the military draft. It’s not? oh….

    2. Carey

      Very good comment, IMO. The Dems “letting” Sanders win the nomination,
      then making sure he loses, seems a likely scenario to me. Remember Tim
      Kaine saying, after the tax cut bill was passed, that “we’ll just have to live
      with it”? Corporate Dems have no problem with the tax cut; their donors
      benefit, and they can say to the Base “we have no money!” (despite MMT).
      Trump! is good in general for the donor class, both in policy,
      and as a nominal “enemy”, and assuming he runs in 2020, will probably
      be re-elected.

      1. roxy

        2016 was Bernie’s year. Dems blocked him. And here we are. What are the odds on hrc being on time to her appearance at ozyfest?

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        “At least he’s trying!”

        See, see? He has no appreciation of norms! Harumph.

    3. False Solace

      Mostly agree. The ground favors Trump for reelection right now. It’s difficult to think of events that might occur in the next two years that would tilt the playing field against him.

      1) Economy worsens: The economy is already crap for the working class. If it worsens in the next two years, all that happens is people who recently scraped themselves off the “not looking” rolls will slide back onto them. They already know how to survive, they don’t vote, they don’t pay attention to politics, and they know corporate Dems aren’t any better. Trump’s core fan club consists of elderly Fox watchers and upper middle class Republicans. They don’t care what CNN or the NYT think, but they do own stock.

      2) Economic crisis on the scale of 2008: Honestly, I doubt this would hurt Trump much since he would simply blame Obama.

      3) Another war: Obama waged war on 5 additional countries and managed to get reelected. Bombing innocents is pretty much status quo at this point. An optional war only hurts Trump if Sanders runs. A non-optional war (“9-11”) favors Trump.

      4) Katrina-style natural diasaster: Puerto Rico moldered and the nation yawned. It would have to involve a rich American city with lots of news footage.

      5) Pandemic: Hurts Trump but pretty unlikely.

      6) More Russia scandal: The neolib version of Benghazi. Nobody cares. Clinton was impeached and came out of it fine. There’s been a ton of heated rhetoric which could flare into some kind of violence, but that would tend to favor Trump.

      7) Trump health event: Hurts Trump and strikes me as the most likely of the possibilities so far.

      8) Gas prices spike: Hurts Trump which is probably why he tried to make good friends with the Saudis last year.

      I’m sure there are other things I’m not considering, but at this point I consider the worst possibilities for Trump to include a stock market crash (weakening his support among upper middle neolib conservatives) or a health event.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      “This guy seems to be smoothing things out with Russia and with N. Korea. Maybe he’s not so bad”

      Obama had overthrown Honduras by this point in his admin, I believe. If this Republican President does not start three new wars we will be better off. I am personally thrilled that people are beginning to think about how giving our entire manufacturing ecosystem, with tax breaks, to the next rising global power is not the best way to maintain leverage in the world. I’m loving the sound of the bubbles he has burst. I love the way that the Media can’t distinguish between him twittering and governing. At least all the shitty things Obama did are now toxic policies when Trump continues them.

      I remember hoping/wondering when Trump’s 15 minutes would be up in the late 80s. He still can’t FOAD soon enough for me. But then, I thought Bill and Al were nice at the time.

      It’s like when Mothra attacks, and who you gonna call?

      I can’t help but think about how my Father admitted actually voting for a Democrat, once, in 1932. Because nobody else had a clue.

  10. PKMKII

    On Neoliberal “spy humping”: Part of it is the love of complexity, but I think more of it has to do with the idea neoliberal democrats have in their mind of what success in politics means and is measured by. There was a column quoted on here many months back in which a neoliberal writer made an analogy of Hillary being the prepared student at the front of the class, always ready to have her hand up to answer a question, while Trump and Bernie were the troublemakers in the back of the class. Now, putting aside the irritating condescension involved, it begged a huge question: Who’s the teacher in this analogy? Neoliberal Democrats operate under the idea that winning in politics doesn’t mean delivering the goods for their constituents, but rather getting a good grade on some abstract notion of their level of civic and democrat procedure. It’s all a big mock UN class project to them.

    Of course, there is no real teacher in Washington, so they’re constantly looking for a surrogate one (remember how much they loved Obama’s professorial tone?). And that’s what Mueller and the intelligence “deep state” is to them. They see him as the teacher figure who’s going to say, “Trump cheated, that means his A is really and F and I’m expelling him. Which means, Hillary actually had the best grade.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > On Neoliberal “spy humping”

      I think it’s liberals doing this much more than conservatives, right now. And I don’t think that conservatives are in love with complexity (preferring “the free market” + handwaving, where all the complexity is shoved off into market interactions).

      > the teacher figure

      This is interesting. It reminds me of this passage from 2012 about Brennan:

      But to a young administration new to the secret details of national security threats and responsibilities, Brennan was a godsend.

      Some White House aides describe him as a nearly priest-like presence in their midst, with a moral depth leavened by a dry Irish wit.

      So Brennan, the priest, trains the young Obama in the details of statecraft….

      1. mle detroit

        I think your deduction may be exactly right. And then there were the even more complex mysteries of the financial system. Who better to be tutored by than the highly copacetic Tim Geithner?

      2. Steely Glint

        The teacher figure is certainly an interesting observation. I have to say that I’m somewhat discomforted with “spy humping” and lumping all the intelligence agencies together. Richard Clarke, National Security Council certainly was part of what many term the “deep state”, but was on the mark. The FBI agent that turned up on my door-step in reference to a neighbor’s application for security clearance was certainly no spy {while he talked to me with my garden boots covered with cow manure from digging it into garden boxes}. I guess I’ve not jumped on any band wagon, preferring to see where the investigation goes, and more importantly, if the evidence proves U.S. citizens aided Russia, how we deal with it. Will those people be frog-marched & doomed to be never heard from again, or will they rise to surface again like Oliver North?

    2. voteforno6

      Nah, I think it might be even dumber than that. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of these people developed their notions of how government should be run from watching The West Wing. They would never admit it, of course, since they seem to sincerely believe that they are just that smart and talented.

      That being said, I think one of the best movies to come out in the past year is The Death of Stalin. It certainly has fun portraying the historical figures in that film as being just as venal and stupid as everyone else. I think that it’s rather subversive; while some may see it as just an indictment of the USSR, one could also take the view that everyone in power is like that.

    3. nippersdad

      Couldn’t it just be as simple as a circling of the wagons? After forty plus years of globalist neoliberalism/neoconservatism practiced in both Parties, anyone seen to rock the boat must be pushed out of it and drowned lest the populist wave notice that their cabal hasn’t benefited the vast majority of the population.

      Pelosi regained her majorities running against Bush’s establishment, but then took all of that off the table once they were regained and then Obama spent his entire two terms shoring up and expanding upon Bush’s gains. There was, apparently, never any question that the system would have to be changed, but that isn’t necessarily the case now.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Re: the love of complexity

      I love complexity, but I score high on standardized tests and low on meritocracy.

      Perhaps the Joy of Thinking You Know the Answers to the Test Matrix* is more appropriate.

      *I got robot tested by der google trying to remember the exact name of the piece of the punched out paper that you lay over multiple choice tests. Hope I’m close.

  11. Tomonthebeach

    Lambert: One might speculate that liberals are in love with the complexity of “the secret world,” as Le Carré calls it…

    I see no distinction between Democrat or Republican with respect to “the secret world.” Both parties have used vile and illegal methods to assert influence on the American stage as well as globally. Who first hired Blackwater (not a liberal organization) to engage in sneaky dirty acts such as kidnappings and assassinations in US combat theaters of operation – often entirely independent of commanders in the field? A Republican.

    If I said what Trump said in the Putin press conference, I might have been justly ridiculed. It would not meat the standard for treason. When POTUS says it, it IS treason because it is a sign of reckless disregard for National Defense to assert, before the entire world, that US intelligence has no credibility in Trump’s mind. Put differently, real or potential enemies will be emboldened to commit more mischief, because it will be ignored even when discovered and reported.

    1. cm

      it IS treason because…

      Read the Constitution, which carefully defines “treason,” which requires that one be at war with the enemy.

      We are not at war with Russia.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        We ARE in a trade war with China.

        Are we looking for treasonous acts in that war?

          1. Shane Mage

            The Bush dynasty was actually convicted of trading with the (Nazi) “enemy.” It hampered them not at all.

              1. Heraclitus

                Lee was never charged. He was never even arrested. In fact, a New England newspaper tried to get him to run for President in 1868 against Grant.

        1. rps

          Actually its the other way around. There’s been an ongoing trade war between the US and China for a decade due to China’s tariffs being twice as high as USA. Its driven China’s trade imbalance with the US to ludicrous proportions. For every dollar the US exports to China, China exports three to the USA. This doesn’t include the fact that China steals hundreds of billions of dollars of intellectual property, IP technology, and counterfeit goods from the US every year. Its China who’s in a nearly one-way trade war with the USA. Trump is demanding fair trade not free one-way trade.

          1. bebe rebozo

            Trump is not necessarily “wrong” about China or Russia for that matter. The problem is Trump is as unhinged and war like as the “deep state” foes he loves to rail against. My conservative friends want nothing more than to demolish liberal democracy. I can’t help but think that Trump and the “deep state” are digging the same tunnel from opposite directions.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It is “in love with” that is the key phrase. And perhaps I should be more clear: I’m talking about “the base,” voters, not administration officials (who are indeed much more alike than different no matter which party controls the executive branch.

      > When POTUS says it, it IS treason because it is a sign of reckless disregard for National Defense to assert, before the entire world, that US intelligence has no credibility in Trump’s mind. Put differently, real or potential enemies will be emboldened to commit more mischief, because it will be ignored even when discovered and reported.

      Stuff and nonsense. First, Constitutional definition of treason is narrowly tailored; see the link provided above. One might even imagine that the Founders, in their wisdom, envisioned 21st century hyperventilating cable hosts. Second, any serious adversary would be emboldened not by Trump’s words, but by a careful study of our actual intelligence capabilities. And it’s perfectly rational to believe that those capabilities are gawdawful, after the Iraq WMD fiasco. Should this be true — I believe it is true — why is it wrong for Trump to say it?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It could be the Art of War performance to fool our enemies into deluding themselves that our intelligence has no credibility.

        Let them get too cocky and under-estimate us. Then, they will become sloppy.

        And anyone undermining that, in that case, is committing treason.

        That’s one possibility. Any patriot must work our all scenarios. It’s a sacred duty.

        1. RMO

          Even if it’s not perfectly rational to believe that U.S. intelligence capabilities are “gawdawful” (though that does seem likely) the manner in which the cloudcuckooland DC elite make the intelligence fit their preconceptions and agendas renders them functionally gawdawful anyways.

          Let us go back to 2001 for example… anyone remember a massive failure in intelligence and the application thereof back then?

          1. JTMcPhee

            No, no, the excuses have been made and the paperwork was all in order! So no massive failure at all! Especially since nobody knows what-all actually and really happened, and that is the ideal outcome in a world where the operating system is based on that language called FUD — fear, uncertainty, doubt (and deceit, depression, defalcation and a bunch of other words that start with “d” and “s”…)

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Is there a difference between

      A. US intelligence is wrong in this one instance
      B. US intelligence is always wrong.

      If we believe the possibility of A is 0 (zero), it would imply infallibility, divinity and, well, a new religion, perhaps.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Put differently, real or potential enemies will be emboldened to commit more mischief, because it will be ignored even when discovered and reported.

      Have you found the WMD, yet? The Russians already understand that we are not agreement capable. They are figuring out now that we can’t tell what a joke is.

      Name an enemy of the US. A country, not a meme. Countries who would just like us to quit pissing in their boots while we tell them it is raining do not count.

  12. shinola

    The Bird scooters have come to my area (Kansas City). I’ve seen a few TV news reports & read several articles about them. None have addressed a rather important aspect – liability for injuries or property damage.

    I spent a few decades in the insurance biz. A standard personal auto policy does not extend coverage for injuries/property caused by a rider on a scooter. Nor does a homeowners or renters policy.

    Does the scooter co. provide coverage? Or is a rider “going naked” (risking having to pay for injuries/damages out of pocket)?

    1. curlydan

      I saw the same scooters in downtown KC that prompted me to look them up. In LA when Bird came in, it says you need a helmet, 18+, and a valid drivers license. I suspect about 5% or less of riders will have a helmet.

    2. Randy

      We won’t have any of these problems when everybody is on a scooter and the scooters are autonomous.

  13. Matthew G. Saroff

    I think that this comment about the intelligence community bears repeating:

    It is not the story of men and women who have a better and deeper understanding of the world than we do. In fact in many cases it is the story of weirdos who have created a completely mad version of the world that they then impose on the rest of us.

    1. AbateMagicThinking - but Not Money

      Saroff, wierdos & lack of understanding,

      Recently I’ve been ploughing through ‘The Defence of the Realm – The Authorized History of MI5’ by Christopher Andrew (2009). There is a lot on the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. From my reading I concluded that MI5 had absolutely nothing to say about changing the political situation in the province for the better.

      It is hard to believe that all those supposedly intelligent operatives had nothing to say to the politicians – but then horses* for courses. Seemingly MI5 was not even as good as a dog. A dog might bark when the house is on fire.


      *I do not wish to impugned horses in any way.

    2. voteforno6

      Daniel Ellsberg’s book Secrets is instructive in this regard. He discusses the attachment that people in government have towards intelligence. It’s not so much that it’s accurate all the time, it’s that this intelligence is, well, secret. A large majority of the information that they actually gather, Ellsberg remarked, can be gleaned from public sources. The real value comes from the analysis. It doesn’t take an intelligence agent to provide that – just someone who’s well-read, and has critical thinking skills.

      1. AbateMagicThinking - but Not Money

        Re Voteforno6 & secrecy.

        The secrets fetish is fascinating and it is a layered thing. Like you I have been reading Ellesberg but for me it is (The Doomesday Machine – confessions of a nuclear war planner) and I conclude that secrets are an elemental part of legitimacy, and one of the reasons for secrets at the highest level, is the avoidance of measured scrutiny. If it is secret, it cannot be in anyway criticised, and like the Popes of old, the holder of the secret will attain an element of infallibility.

        Check out the ‘Spy Catcher – Peter Wright’ affair. There are numerous other examples of the cat being well and truly out of the bag and governments still unable to reveal the truth to their own people.

        Paranoia rules. From the outside paranoia is hilarious.


    3. Carolinian

      @Saroff–that Adam Curtis is a GREAT link. Perhaps one problem is that the entertainment industry has brainwashed the current generation with shows like Homeland and The Americans whereas the reality of the Cold War spy era was more Max Smart with his shoe phone and the CIA trying to do in Castro with poisoned cigars. As Curtis points out, one big reason for all the secrecy was to keep people from finding out how incompetent those agencies were. People are always goofing on Trump’s appearance but can you look at someone like Clapper or Brennan and not conclude they’re a boob? And more recently when Trump told Putin he had some dummies working for him we know who he meant.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Yeah, everyone who thinks there’s another film of Dealey Plaza miss out on that. Check out Tim Leary’s ‘imprisonment’. Most professionals are amateurs.

  14. dcblogger

    That Sabato is comparing the RGA with the DGA tells how out of touch he is. The DGA has no relevance to the Ben Jealous campaign or others I suspect

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Technically its one of his lackeys, and I’m pretty certain Sabato probably hasn’t invested much effort since around 2010 when he was between stronger lackeys than the current crop. He’s just been on autopilot since then.

  15. Rojo

    Gillebrand. That will be the establishment pick. That way they can say “doesn’t matter who, they just hate women”.

    I don’t get the Brian Wilson thing.

      1. witters

        During a lecture the Oxford linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin made the claim that although a double negative in English implies a positive meaning, there is no language in which a double positive implies a negative. To which Sidney Morgenbesser responded in a dismissive tone, “Yeah, yeah.”

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The establishment isn’t a monolith, and she’s been better than I would have thought. A Republican I know swore I wouldn’t hate her and noted she was a weather vane for her district, not a Conservative Democrat.

      The “hooray for women” aspect of the 2016 campaign was simply something that could be said about Hillary versus bringing up her record. I don’t think they are that creative. I somewhat expect a relative free for all. The media will pimp the Lindsey Graham equivalents because they love them that, but people in Iowa, NH, and even SC and Nevada are going to be impressed by actual campaigns. Obama and Hillary were celebrity candidates or the incumbents in every nominating process since 2007. I expect a veritable clown car of candidates, but they won’t be sheep dogging because there isn’t a natural successor to HRC or Obama in the lot. Biden, but he’s a clown who has never impressed the denizens of Iowa and NH before.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        For all of the “women who don’t support other women…” arguments, Gillenbrand’s own efforts on sex assault in the military haven’t been celebrated by a certain crowd despite the break out success of #metoo. I suspect she’s deemed to be too much of a loose cannon.

      2. Mark Gisleson

        Iowans love candidates in small rooms, the smaller the better. If they show to an event and only a dozen people are there, they don’t think ‘loser,’ they think ‘ground floor.’

        Anyone can win the Iowa caucuses and has.

        Historical Note: McGovern was credited with a win in ’72, but more careful math showed Undecideds actually won. The state party then destroyed their notes and decided McGovern won. I doubt this is the only time a math error was covered up.

  16. CalypsoFacto

    William Gibson, in Zero History describes just that: “Young men who dress to feel they’ll be mistaken for having special capability… It’s an obsession with the idea not just of the right stuff, but of the special stuff. Equipment fetishism. The costume and semiotics of achingly elite police and military units. Intense desire to possess same, of course, and in turn to be associated with that world. With its competence, its cocksure exclusivity.” Revise as follows…

    I have a layman’s experience with personality disorders in family members, and this tendency to transfer the items and behaviors of others onto the self is an aspect of narcissism, of seeing the world as one wishes it was, not as it is. We are taught that narcissism is stuff like grandiosity and greed but it’s really just using trappings like stuff you wear or which news programs you watch and reference to others and what totemic symbols you pull out to defend your perspective when it is challenged. And in a healthy society it’s probably ok, but in an unhealthy society where everyone is maxed out on stress, those trappings and totems become proxies for critical thinking.

    We’ve talked about TDS being an anguished, unmanaged scream of Id from the political elite class that recognized that it ‘lost’ starting in 2016, but still doesn’t understand why. I have this theory that narcissism is at near-pandemic levels in America, and that western society in general but America in specific encourages and amplifies the spread, maybe social media plays a big part, but I feel like it was starting before that. The unhinged rage when questions of identity are challenged, the immediate escalation instead of discussion within a dispute, bad faith, incompetence under pressure, inability to self-reflect and self-soothe… all of these things are endemic in the west now. All are narcissistic behaviors. I’m not a psychiatrist, I’m not interested in diagnosing and excusing people so I’ll just call them ‘behaviors’ and leave it there.

    I don’t know the answer but I know from decades of managing family members’ narcissistic rages, it’s not curable, people don’t spontaneously wake up and become capable of rational or even just sane discourse and actions. The only thing that keeps me from extreme despair about the future is that larger blocs of the younger generations have, by necessity, demonstrated that they have the capability for cooperative interaction and discourse. And the capacity (and desire) for change.

  17. flora

    re: Gibson

    “Young men who dress to feel they’ll be mistaken for having special capability… It’s an obsession with the idea not just of the right stuff, but of the special stuff. .

    aka, poseurs. Yes, that’s as good a description of the Dem estab liberals as anything. Poseurs.

  18. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Kloke comments:

    The point is that although the polling universe’s respective group volume proportions (of self-reported HRC, DJT, Other, and non-voters in the 2016 Presidential) don’t exactly match the national demographics, they’re in the ball-park, and the lower self-reporting for DJT voters may suggest some buyer’s remorse or social shame. Also, it shows how much more extreme the differences in perception/position are between the HRC Dems and pretty much everybody else. Charts comparing in-group percentages with each other don’t show group proportions.</blockquote

    Are we talking about (numbers from the chart above the quoted passage) 257 over (257 + 269) = 48.8593% versus the 2016 popular votes, which are

    Trump 62,980,160
    Clinton 65,845,063

    in which case, Trump's percentage is 62,980,160 over (62,980,160 + 65,845,063) = 48.8881%

    And we can talk about buyer's remorse or social shame, from that difference?

    1. dk

      Yes, I’m sorry, you’re absolutely correct. The “lower self-reporting…” conjecture came from my discussion of a different chart where I was overlooking a filter (Women) that distorted the count, making the Trump voters seem significantly smaller.

      But my apologies for sloppy work and an unfounded conjecture. And hat tip to your keen eye.

        1. dk

          I was playing with a filtered chart and thought it was the full universe. Sent Lambert an incorrect chart, where the Trump cohort was significantly lower than the HRC, so in that context my comment seemed to make some sense.

          This was a last minute thing and I sprung changes on Lambert minutes before post time. He caught the basic mistake (chart was filtered, numbers were off) and I fixed the chart but didn’t revise my comment text. This is totally on me.

  19. none

    “But Ocasio-Cortez and Sanders have more expansive aims than turning the 3rd blue. They want to prove their theory of the progressive case”

    Before Crowley proves her theory about the progressive case in Kansas, I’d like to know if she’s prepared for a competitive race in her own district in New York, against Crowley pulling a Joe Lieberman to her Ned Lamont, running against her on the WFP line (idiot WFP endorsed Crowley and gave him the ballot line). I posted about this last night but I don’t see much about it anywhere else after AOC’s tweet a couple weeks ago. I hope Bernie can campaign with her in the Bronx if/when the Crowley comeback is on.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I agree. There’s plenty of time for the Democrat establishment to turn this around, and Crowley leaving his name on the ballot line is a sure sign of that. I think in the beginning, the Democrat establishment was trying to love bomb her, and also could not help but see her through the identity politics lens (since that is the only lens they have) and therefore were at least considering letting her into the fold (hence the good press coverage). She is undeceiving them (despite this or that kerfuffle, e.g. on the Palestinians). Now she is showing her true colors, and they will regard her, as they regard Sanders, as a traitor. So expect oppo, dirty tricks on the ballot line, covert support for her opponents, and every one of the usual plays they run.

      FWIW, I think AOC should be back in the district constantly, still knocking on doors, and especially taking the message to precincts that voted for Crowley. It ain’t over ’til its over, and acting like you’ve already picked out the drapes for your office is a very bad thing. The left is so hungry for victory that premature triumphalism is a grave danger.*

      NOTE * For example, lots of triumphalism about Sanders/AOC needing a bigger hall in Kansas. But you should always hire a hall that’s too small!!! That way, the event looks crowded, you have photogenic people waiting in the street, etc. Calm down!

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        Try to avoid becoming another Dewey or Hillary.

        Also, instead of a universal theory, don’t forget that all politics is local. It’s the case more than just once in a while.

      2. Code Name D


        Thank goodness. For a moment, I thought my tinfoil hat was on too tight for thinking that Cortex could still lose in the general. Of course, all the data I have seen still suggests it will be a shut-out, but not having the endorsement from the establishment probably alters the landscape significantly.

        Could coming to Kansas hurt Cortez? I can’t imagine how, so long as she doesn’t too it too often. Given the current media landscape, her best chance at any media coverage, good or bad, may mean attending media events like this.

        Even so, this is still a huge shot in the arm for Thompson who is desperate for any attention at all. Unlike Cortez, Thompson’s primary bid is virtually assured. He does have a primary challenger, and some of my collogues things she is a Clinton plant. (She maybe a Clintonite, but so far, I haven’t seen any money trails suggesting she is establishment.) But the assumption is that Democrats lose in the general any way, so why waste the money. But the national visibility is absolutely essential for Thompson to have a chance in the coming general election.

      3. Nick

        LMAO! If the machine Dems ratfook AOC by electing Crowley with Republican votes then prepare to see DSA hit 100k members and Our Revolution enthusiasts start to join the third party movement.

        But such a strategy could be so easily spun as antiwoman and antiHispanic that I can’t see any actual Dems or Dem money (lol Joe Lieberman) going for it. Crowley himself looks resigned to cashing in on lobbying.

      4. HotFlash

        FWIW, I think AOC should be back in the district constantly, still knocking on doors, and especially taking the message to precincts that voted for Crowley.

        Totally! AOC knocking your door then was maybe nice and would sway your vote, *Superstar* AOC knocking on your door now would be (as they say) *SLAM-DUNK*!!

        Please, Ma’am, don’t get distracted.

    2. curlydan

      I suspect AOC is a bit worried as well as evidenced by her about face on some Israel/Gaza comments lately.

      BTW, I live in KS-03, and as I drove around last night in my hood, I saw lots of Jay Sidie signs (the lukewarm Dem who ran against Yoder 2 years ago). No Sharice Davis signs, and maybe 1-2 Welder signs. Sidie has the best name recognition. I’m still getting junk e-mail from the guy from 2 years ago.

      Yoder, the scummy R incumbent in KS-03, has a primary challenger. I see a lot of signs opposing him as well although I live in a more moderate Republican part of town.

      1. curlydan

        I went to the KS-03 Bernie/Alexandra/Brent rally in Kansas City, KS tonight. It was held in that city’s convention center (the KS side of Kansas City being a fair bit smaller). It was probably 85-90 degrees in the room that held I’m guessing 1,000-1,500 people. My son and I decided it was too hot and crowded, so we left. In Wichita, they had to change venues to a 5,000 arena…they should have done the same in Kansas City.

        Kansas Democrat event planners aren’t used to crowds. In the D caucus a couple years ago, I waited about 2-3 hours in line to vote for Bernie.

    3. Hamford

      A conspiracist may ponder, considering Crowley and his ilk’s control over the Democrat “Queens Machine” and perhaps the machines too, that the DNC “let” AOC win, only to “prove” later, after a Crowley win in the general, that class-based progressives are “unelectable in the general” or are “too extreme”. This manufactured tale would surely create great fodder for the MSM to punch left for years to come.

      1. HotFlash

        Or they could let just her go on to the House and render her powerless there. Personally, I think that would be more devastating to progressives and a more useful message in the long run — for them. That might be the way they think. Five years ago, they would have Liebermanned her, like they did Ned Lamont, but since Bernie and Trump it has changed.

        Bernie nearly won (except for the rigging), and Trump actually did, so I don’t think they will be so confident this time. I predict the terrified (and realistic) among them will want to cut her off at the knees if they can. HRC stalwarts will be categorically sure that AOC cannot win. I expect from them we will see only entitled huffing and puffing from the heights, but the pragmatists (that is, the ones who have jobs on the line) will try to unobtrusively slam the door shut ASAP. Should be most interesting to watch, esp as they will have internal fights about how to deal. I’ll see if we can send Ms Ocasio Cortes a few more bucks.

        1. John k

          Make no mistake, the more progressive winners, the closer progressives are to taking control. And the neolib dems know this, would be slamming her now except she fits the group they say they want to lift up, which disarms them.
          Bernie knows, too, great for both of them to campaign for other progressives.

    4. Hamford

      For the life of me, I cannot find the link to the AOC Crowley pre-election debate after searching youtube and all the search engines. Perhaps it has been nefariously taken down or masked due to search engine crapification which only displays “top” stories.

      The debate exposes Crowley as being horribly duplicitous. Each candidate was offered a chance to ask their opponent a question. Crowley asks AOC – if she loses, would she support him. He pledges his support to her should she win. If anybody has a link to the debate, that would be awesome.

      1. Shane

        I don’t have the link myself, but I think I might be able to point you in the direction of where you can find it: check some of the early Intercept articles about her candidacy (especially before the primary). There were at least a handful, and if IIRC, they linked to the debate in at least one of those.

        If you do find it, please share! Because you’re right, that would be extremely valuable to disseminate widely (more in accentuating his hypocrisy than actually having him bow out, but still).

        1. Hamford

          Yes those original versions were taken down. Found the below version- watch it while it is up!

  20. GlobalMisanthrope

    To every woman who threw up on election night, who sobbed on the bathroom floor, who dry heaved trying to imagine how to tell her kids what had happened, who couldn’t stop physically shaking, who felt the horror of what was to come,

    I say this:

    You new?

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I shudder to consider the mental, educational and emotional health of the children of any woman who acted like this on election night.

  21. Summer

    Lambert here: Liberal Democrats seem to have invested the “intelligence community” with a sort of lèse majesté, no doubt appropriate for other nations but odd in our own.

    And with a populace primed for belief by Hollywood.
    Take a scroll through TV and movie listings for a wide variety of national security state heroes.

    A couple of fave narratives, oddly, is the agent(s) that risks all to save a family member or personal revenge – personalizing the narratives as much as possible keep the majority of them encouraging too much of an examination of systems.

      1. Darius

        Three things.

        Democrats are still humiliated over losing to Trump, so it has to be because of some external factor like Putin.

        After seventy years of enduring McCarthyism attacks, Democrats can’t resist attacking Trump from the right.

        They got nothing else despite the riches in issues they could run on.

        1. FluffytheObeseCat

          “Democrats are still humiliated over losing to Trump, so it has to be because of some external factor like Putin.”

          Yes, this smacks of truth.

          Their attempts at attacking Trump from the right however, have more to do with their disconnect from reality than history. The tactic is based in their contempt for the average American, and the gated community/doorman building lives they’ve generally led.

          With respect to the issues……the elite political class cannot pay off the mortgages on their Potomac homes by flogging a livable minimum wage, Medicare-for-all, or anything else of real value.

  22. Jim Haygood

    More on tech giant Microsoft which held on (barely) to a record high today:

    Microsoft reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings that surpassed Wall Street’s expectations Thursday, and annual revenue topped $110 billion.

    Microsoft reported 17 percent overall revenue growth. Office consumer products were up 8%. The star again was its Azure cloud business, continuing its tear with revenue growth surging 89% in the quarter.

    There was even a debate Thursday on CNBC about whether Microsoft is a “growth stock” that should be included with the so-called FAANG stocks Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google parent company Alphabet.


    Maybe it’s a growth stock. Or maybe the last hurrah of Bubble III is just making it look that way.

    They’ll tear my Windows 7 and non-SaaS Office 2007 from my cold, dead hands. Microsoft don’t make a penny from ol’ Jim.

    1. grayslady

      I have continually been mystified by the MSFT stock price I see on your excellent charts. Windows 10 (and especially Edge) have been a disaster. Windows 7 usage is up substantially over Windows 10, with many users believing that Windows 7 was the last and best of the traditional Windows OS. December, 2017 was the most recent acceptable group of patches for Windows 7; and as of July, 2018, Woody Leonhard, an acknowledged Windows guru, has recommended that no one patch any of the Windows versions, since the patches solve no known problems and actually create numerous new problems. Apparently, Microsoft has admitted it is aware of the issues but has no plans to issue amended patches to solve the problems. Why anyone would be buying or holding MSFT stock is beyond me.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        Wow, I didn’t know this. I run Windows 7 and they sent me “important” patches just this week.

        So I’m better off not installing them?

        1. grayslady

          Yes. You should only be installing “critical” patches anyway, not “important”.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I wouldn’t recommend my habits as standard practice for anyone….but way back with Windows 98SE(still my fave), I noticed from my luddism that the “patches” such creatures were always sending me most often made everything worse.
            so i stopped doing them altogether…at least from people like bill gates and mcaffee, etc. and on the latter, I ditched him and all the rest of the high and mighty antivirus, firewall, etc…and went with a handful of free stuff I use to this day. Those(spybot, CCleaner, etc) I update regularly.
            Of course, I do nothing of import on the magic box of intertubes, so there’s nothing to protect.(and a wifi router in a birdhouse on a fence post on a dead end dirt road is excellent security…nobody can get close to it without a gaggle of geese or an armed half naked hippie guy coming to see what’s up)
            the microsoft mothership lost me forever with the Win10 hijacking itself into mom’s computer. That smacked of authoritarianism and I went immediately to find a little line of code some other, less luddite, angry person had put out for free to prevent Win 7 from “updating” to Win10.
            Fie! to all of them.
            Mom’s machine…like a john deere tractor…is not hers…but belongs to mysterious corporate fictions with godlike powers.
            still waiting for enough free time to play with the ubuntu on one of my air gapped extra machines…. perhaps in the august doldrums…

    2. The Rev Kev

      I use Windows 7 as, after that iteration, Windows moved off in directions that I wanted nothing to do with. Windows 7 is basically a tool that you use but after that, the newer versions of Windows were all about making you the ‘product’.

      1. Ook

        Honestly, it depends on what you’re doing with your computer. I have a 55 inch 4k monitor. Every day I thank *** for Windows 10 because no other OS comes anywhere near in handling the challenge. Compatibility is improving noticeably with every upgrade.
        Not to ignore the serious problems of Windows 10, of course. My non-4k laptop is a Linux.

  23. tokyodamage

    re: Trump and China tariffs. I’m not a trained economist and don’t know a good trade-war strategy from a bad one. But shouldn’t we be rebuilding our factories or finding other sources of raw materials *before* we start antagonizing China like this?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Rome was not built in a day.

      It has taken decades to get to this situation.

      A president can only count on 4 years…sometimes less. Trump was busy with health care and the tax cut. Was there enough time to rebuild factories in the last 16 months or find other sources of raw materials? The person in the White House in 2021 may be tacking a different course.

    2. Shane Mage

      “So perhaps “making China scream” will work, if the Chinese worker screams before the American consumer.” When the Chinese workers start screaming it will be to denounce their government–for being much too soft on the imperialist barbarians. And the CCP will make sure its government responds to that sort of public opinion.

  24. Code Name D

    Greetings everyone. I just got back from the James Thompson Rally. As promised, I will now share with you what I observed. Unfortunately, because I wasn’t a member of the press, they didn’t let me take my camera into the venue. I got a bunch of outside crowd shots, but nothing inside. According to the numbers I received, just over 3,000 people attended. This apparently blew away all expatiations from organizers. To contrast this, only two people showed up to counter-protest.

    Cortez was up first. Who lit up the room when she spent a few moments to invoke Kansas history in choosing to be a free state. She gave a rousing speech covering the basics; Medicare for all, 15$ minimum wage, free education, student debt relief. Something that she said however is rather important. She said that if centrism was the way to go, then Clinton would have won Kansas.

    Kansas is a lot more progressive then a lot of people suspect. This was a point I made to a reporter in a lobby, that Kansas isn’t really a so called “Red state” is really a progressive state largely abandoned by Democrats. And if Thompson wins in the general, it would burry the notion once and for all that you need to be a “centrist” or “moderate” in order to compete in “red states.” While Cortez didn’t say as much on the podium, that is the theme she worked with.

    Thompson was next, and he was unapologetically progressive. He was also unapologetically green, and his lack of preparation was apparent. He was probably not use to speaking before such a large crowed. But he learned how to read the crowed rather quickly. It was still mostly his standard stump speech. He talked about his background; growing up in poverty, in the military, and his tenure as a civil right attorney. He also covered the basic topics.

    Sanders was last. And the crowed went wild. He also covered the basic issues. But also brought up another theme I have seen him used before, the commonality of issues all Americans (save the 1%) have to deal with every day. Directly challenging the typical Democratic mantra that “all politics are local.” If you talk about these issues, you win elections.

    And of course, damning Bernie, you had to mention Russians. (Trump didn’t stand up to Putin, apparently). And the audience ate it up. I still have reservations of course, but I won’t rehash them here.

    I did get the sense that KS-04 is going to play a much larger role in Sander’s strategy. And I think it may be more than just having Thompson win his congressional seat. While I think he has a strong chance, this isn’t a sure bet. However, inroads still need to be made into “red state territory” if Sanders is to be more competitive in 2020, or if his progressive push is to gain any traction.

    1. johnnygl

      I floated the idea awhile back that sanders might be able to swing the Great Plains region in a general election. He did really well during primaries there.

      Trump had the foresight to try to expand the map and it paid off quite well for him. No reason dems can’t do the same.

      1. Code Name D

        Actually, swinging the planes (or any other red-state territory) isn’t really the point here. When Howard Dean was head of the DNC, he had his 50 State Strategy which made huge investments in Kansas. Not for the sake of electoral politics, but for the sake of local elections and local issues. Getting Democrats elected to the State House or other down-ticket positions are just as important. And it was working, we were actually making huge progress. Progress which Obama stomped on once he was elected.

        Sanders appears to be using a similar approach. Rather than having candidates run in isolation, they run together using a common platform. Make the campaign about the issues – not about the candidate.

        This strategy actually helps address some of my overall concerns regarding Sander’s strategy. Getting progressives elected to office is actually the easy part. Getting progressives any clout or longevity in congress is going to be the real trick.

          1. Code Name D

            And that is why the last “blue wave”, with Barak Obama at it’s crest, failed to deliver any meaningful change. It’s isn’t just simple numbers, which is why I fear Bernie’s strategy will ultimately fail and worse, may even end up rehabilitating the establishment Democrat’s image and allowing them to maintain their death grip over the party.

            First, not all congressmen are created equal. Those who are there longer are vested with more authority and more power. Freshmen often spend most of their time dialing for dollars. They aren’t even given time to speak on the floor. It also maters which caucus you are part of. The “establishment caucus” controls the committee assignments and schedules of the freshmen. The sad reality is that even if Cortez and Thompson win, they will have zero clout in congress. And they will continue to have zero clout until the establishment caucus is dismantled.

            Second, congress itself, while having the power to author and enact legislation, is still just one tooth in a much larger political machine. You also have the media, the many corporate funded think tanks, the corporate authority, lobbyists, and even the political machinery at work inside the Democratic Party itself, all shaping the political landscape in some very important ways.

            This is a complicated battle fields, with lots of moving parts and lots of inner workings. It is a system that has learned to put down similar “wave elections” in the past, even using it to its own advantage. Even if Sanders managed to get a hundred Justice Democrats elected, it’s naïve to think that is all you need to do to effect change.

            Thompson and Cortez will need a lot more support from the outside. Funds will have to be raised for them to free them from the dialing-for-dollars booths that the establishment will try to box them into. They will need strong outside lines of communications to that they aren’t slowly corrupted by the Washington bubble’s omnipresent influence. They will need leadership so that they can continue working on a common platform. They will need an alternative media system to continue to communicate with voters, and this system will have to learn how to function asymmetrically against the big networks.

            While the rally was fun. It’s still an example of inside-the-box thinking that was on display in 2008.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              > Funds will have to be raised for them to free them from the dialing-for-dollars booths that the establishment will try to box them into.

              I think “knock on doors” is the answer to a lot of this (and even in rural areas). Though the “visit” part should be distinct from the request for $27-part.

              It seems to me that with their reliance on TV dollars, both parties are trying to win the Air War. But while the Air War can keep a population cowed, it cannot conquer and hold territory. Only the Ground War can do that. And where do you get the troops? First step is to give them something to fight for. Hence, the importance of a consistent long-term platform of concrete material benefits.

              That said, I agree completely that we’re looking at a case of “defense in depth” here.

            2. Elizabeth Burton

              This is precisely the argument used by those in power to both discourage anyone from challenging the status quo and persuade the voters not to take a chance on anyone new. In my opinion, it’s just another version of “Obama couldn’t do anything because the Republicans wouldn’t let him.”

              Yes, the newcomers to Congress will face major challenges, including resisting the demand by the established they waste hours of every day kissing plutocrat derriere to fill the coffers. Acting as though that’s just something that has to be accepted perpetuates the corruption. And those who are supporting the newcomers and helping them win are also developing precisely the kind of outside network you say they’ll need.

              I know of at least one longtime member of the House who will likely embrace any and all of them without reservation, and there is, after all, a Progressive Caucus that would benefit from an influx of new members. Not all of those in it are powerless against the status quo.

              No one with any sense thinks this election is going to result in a huge turnaround of the mess. However, it’s a start, a foot in the door. Perhaps more important, it will, if it succeeds, put paid to the New Democrat mantra that true FDR Democrats can’t win. That strikes me as a hugely important thing.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Rather than having candidates run in isolation, they run together using a common platform. Make the campaign about the issues – not about the candidate.

          No duh.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              I think it’s time we stopped worrying about what the other side(s) is(are) going to do. All that does is let them in our OODA loop.

              I mean, really. You plan to win elections by keeping your platform secret? Seems odd.

            2. Code Name D

              As Lambert observed, risk is a major part of the game. The reason why the Republicans are in control is because Democrats refuse to engage them in the debate. And the reason why that happens is because corporate Democrats fundamentally do not disagree with the neo-conservative ideology.

              But when you understand the nature of political rhetoric, the “risks” start to take on a more nuanced relevance.

              For a while, opposition research can be damaging yes. But over time, the opposition gets locked into the same talking points. After all, they are convincing to the people making the arguments, they should convince others. But once those talking points lose favor with the public, the arguments themselves become less effective. Also, over time our side learns how to engage those talking points, where to direct research, and educating the general public about how the opposition points have been debunked.

              But there is a benefit here too. What if the opposition research – is right? We can’t assume conservatives will be wrong all the time. They will make valid points now and then. And we need to have the integrity to embrace those points when they are made and modify or reject our platform accordingly. The end result is a stronger platform, not a weaker one.

              Case in point. One common criticism against Sanders is that he is a “socialist”. (The was the main point made by the counter demonstrators at the rally.) But the attack is no longer effective because the common perception of socialism, and even of capitalism, has changed. But the opposition is doomed to repeat this talking point – because they have no other arguments.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Rather than having candidates run in isolation, they run together using a common platform. Make the campaign about the issues – not about the candidate.

          This approach should be generalized across the party. This “Big Tent” horseshit has to end.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      I could easily see progressives punching well above their weight in red states by pitching to volatility voters. Hammer the point that the embedded incumbents must be made accountable and put forth an alternative offering concrete material benefits. Any overt enmity by the DNC targeting those insurgent campaigns could even make them more easily identified with and attractive to volatility voters and help the sell. You *know* the DNC dirty playbook, we all do. It’s worn out from repetitive use. When was the last time the DP actually surprised you by doing something you weren’t expecting? They’re essentially flying on autopilot. A foe who is this utterly predictable is thus extremely vulnerable to set piece traps and pre-planned attacks.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        As I keep saying, every candidate that takes DCCC money should be asked:

        “Your agreement with the DCCC says that you’ll spend four hours a day on the phone servicing big donors. Will you stick to that agreement?”

        Then watch them squirm. Ask the same question. Over and over.

        * * *

        And a follow-up:

        DCCC CANDIDATE: “My agreement with the DCCC says no such thing. As a [mom/Marine/cop/intelligence officer] I will always keep you, my beloved constituents, first in my heart.”

        CHALLENGER: “Good to hear. Will you make your DCCC agreement public?”

  25. fresno dan

    Wild, wacky, wonderful world of HICAP follies

    So, a woman walks into my HICAP office with a billing complaint. Believe it or not, a lot of times beneficiaries don’t actually know there are things such as co-pays, deductibles, and co-insurance (Medicare is the FIRST health insurance a LOT of people have ever had) OR have no idea how expensive health procedures are so that when they actually have to pay a percentage of what something costs (they are appalled….)
    But this case was different, because her insurer had paid claims from this DME and would pay (some, part, or all) of the disputed the insurance claims – the problem was that the DME (durable medical equipment) supplier was not submitting ALL the claims to the insurer.

    I called asked her former insurer how would he even know how many insurance claims should be submitted or if any HADN’T been submitted. (how do you prove a negative). He replied that he had copies of some collection agency letters (the beneficiary had been diligent in complaining to everyone) to the beneficiary and that the dates, amounts, and items that were not paid – and that that information did not match claims from this DME for this beneficiary (claims had been submitted and paid, but this stuff that was the subject of the collection agency had not been submitted). By the way, the DME was for a CPAP.
    Calling the DME resulted in a drone telling me that the database showed that the beneficiary was responsible for any outstanding charges. He was unable/unwilling to comprehend that the claims apparently had not even been submitted (or was fraudulent or incompetent double billing or just random bills sent off). Likewise, his supervisor.
    I called and talked to medicare (I forgot to call the special medicare HICAP telephone number, but the public line wasn’t any slower than the HICAP line. I did get to WHIP IT OUT….my special HICAP SHIP number that entitled me as a HICAP VOLUNTEER to special medicare advice…which is apparently exactly the same as anybody else gets…(no wonder I an not picking up any old ladies at the 4 pm early bird at the Olive Garden when I whip out my laminated SHIP/HICAP card…). SHIP is state health insurance program.

    A complaint had been filed against the provider on behalf of the beneficiary back in April, but unfortunately the beneficiary had changed her MA provider in January, and this problem dated back 2 years ago when she had another provider, but the counselor didn’t catch that the beneficiary had changed insurers. Therefore, according to medicare the situation was resolved (because her current insurer had nothing to do with this situation).
    So we refiled a medicare complaint.
    Now, what got the woman going was that she had paid a few hundred dollars but that she was continually getting bills. She had asked if this was covered by her insurance and had been assured it was (see above paragraph about co-pays, deductibles, etc.) She had also asked how much the CPAP cost and was told that the DME did not know – only her insurer knew. (and of course, the insurer did not know UNTIL they were billed by the DME….)

    If you want patients to have SKIN IN THE GAME, and you want a market, than you NEED TRANSPARENT PRICING. But I suspect most people get collection letters and pay up. After all, how are you even suppose to dispute what price you are paying when YOU DON”T KNOW THE PRICE…and getting the price entails going down, down, DOWN the rabbit hole. Do you want the red pill, that causes a slow agonizing death, or do you want the blue pill, that causes an agonizingly slow death….
    Also, I don’t know if medicare has sanctions against DME’s for improper claims or billing. What I do know is that the grievance procedures I am familiar with deal with all complaints by going after the insurance plan.

  26. Steely Glint

    In addition to voters not turning up to the polls for midterms;
    “More people are being purged now than at any time in the past decade. Between the federal elections of 2006 and 2008, boards of election collectively removed 12 million voters from their rolls. In the two years ending with the presidential election of 2016, that number grew to 16 million — an increase of 33 percent.”
    Thank you Crosscheck & Supreme Court

    1. Darius

      Reading the Smersh piece, it occurred to me that Democrats want to tailor the electorate as much as Republicans. The Democrats want just enough voters to put them one vote over the finish line, but keep Bernie type voters away from the polls. Dollar Democrats want low turnout, lest they lose control of the party.

      1. Richard

        Yes, +10. Controlling the party is what they are all about. It’s what Russiarussiarussia is about: “We didn’t actually lose! We’re aren’t historically unpopular! Nothing to re-examine (or even just examine) here”!

  27. Summer

    Re: NY Times article
    “Stories dispelling the persistent notion that bigotry is the sole province of ‘uneducated’ people in derided ‘flyover’ states are right before our eyes: A white man caught on camera assaulting a black man at a white-supremacist rally last August in Charlottesville, Va., was recently identified as a California engineer. This year, a white male lawyer berated restaurant workers for speaking Spanish in New York City. A white, female, Stanford-educated chemical engineer called the Oakland, Calif., police on a family for, it would appear, barbecuing while black…. To find a more accurate vision of these United States, we must resist pat narratives about any group — including the working class on whom our current political situation is most often pinned. The greatest con of 2016 was not persuading a white laborer to vote for a nasty billionaire with soft hands. Rather, it was persuading a watchdog press to cast every working-class American in the same mold”

    You mean the liberal class isn’t mistaking the black family for remarkable citizens from Wakanda?
    Funny how all that representation in the media and entertainment in front of the camera of blacks as lawyers, doctors, Presidents, law officers, scientists, etc doesn’t translate to mistaking black people in real life for the “positive” images – even when in uniforms.
    Long way to go or maybe it will take centuries to get out of mindsets that have programmed and passed down through institutions for centuries..

  28. The Rev Kev

    “God Bless the ‘Deep State'”

    I must be getting more prejudiced as I get older. I start to read this and find it the usual dreck so as I do these days, check who wrote the thing. Someone called Eugene Robinson. So I did a bit of searching and found what I call the standard tick-boxes, thus-

    Is a Washington Post columnist? – Check!
    Is Harvard educated? – Check!

    At this point my prejudices kick in as I feel I know all that I need to know about the author and the article that he wrote and who he really represents.

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    The Indian Nations people of Arizona had solved these problems for themselves in a stable way from long ago.

    The lack of self control on the part of people from a particular endless-frontier/ bonanza/ digging for buried treasure civilization are not necessarily a reflection on other people who are far outside that civilization.

    1. Richard

      Oops, well some kind soul who knows about linking might be able to set me straight. I copied the url from the show, and pasted it in the thing, and did ok.
      Someday, I will link.

      1. kgw

        I have better luck just pasting the link directly in…The link tool in the comment window mucks up the actual url with some hypertext .

      2. HotFlash

        Hi Richard, you were *soooo close*! With a few nips and tucks, I came up with this. What you wanted?

        Tips: copy the entire url from the page you want to link to
        go back to your post and highlight the words you want the link to appear in
        click on the ‘link’ function in the edit menu (above the post box)
        paste over the ‘http:”| that appears in the link box, so that the URl you copied is the only thing in the box, then hit enter.

        Viola! You should have then linked!

        That should work every time.

        1. Richard

          Ah ha! I thought it had something to do with linking the link to some words in your text. Thanks guys!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s not linking because the URL looks like this:


      when it should look like this:


  30. Alex morfesis

    Most politicians are groundskeepers for the influential… Keeping the Greens cut to make el patron and la donya looking like geniuses when they show up to play…sycophants waiting for some crumbs to fall off the table…thankfully golf ain’t what it used to be…

  31. djrichard

    The Fed: “Fed Chair Jay Powell: We’re ‘independent of political considerations’” [MarketPlace].

    Independent you say?

    Part of the independence that we have is to stick to our lane, stick to our knitting, so really wouldn’t want to comment on fiscal policy really, or trade policy.

    Longer term, it is widely understood that the United States is on an unsustainable fiscal path, largely due to the the the interaction between an aging population and a health care system that delivers pretty average health care at a cost that is much higher than that of any other advanced economy.

    So much for sticking to knitting. He weighs in on trade too, but I thought the more interesting comment was the above comment on fiscal policy. When previous Fed Reserve presidents (e.g. Yellen, Bernanke, etc) have weighed in on fiscal policy, usually it’s to say that the national debt is unsustainable. Full stop. So this statement seems to be more calibrated. But it wasn’t clear to me what his message was about. At first I was thinking he was trying to bring attention to medicare in particular, but then I don’t think it’s medicare that has the exposure of being costly compared to the rest of the world, rather it’s our private health care that has that exposure. What would that have to do with fiscal policy? Unless he’s anticipating medicare-for-all and what that would do to the national debt. Maybe?

  32. ChrisAtRU


    I had the same idea, Lambert. But on a grander scale:

    ? It's 999 business days (excluding weekends and holidays) from 11/9/2016 to 11/3/2020 (next election) … someone needs to stitch together her saying "Russia" 999 times until #Election2020— ChrisAtRU (@ChrisAtRU) January 25, 2018

  33. XXYY

    The Nevada Independent is John Ralston’s venue — he of the fake chair-throwing story at the Nevada caucuses — so who knows, but presumably even Ralston would quote these sources correctly.

    Note: It was later revised to be “chair brandishing” when video sadly showed no chairs being thrown.

    Probably the only use of that excellent phrase in recorded human history.

  34. Parker Dooley

    Best laugh of the week.

    “A kind of official urinal in which ministers and intelligence and defence chiefs could stand patiently leaking.”

    And gerbils, even!

  35. crittermom

    What began as a relatively good morning for me (if I ignore a severe neck pain I’m now in day 7 of), first turned sour when I visited my local dispensary & was told the govt would no longer allow discounts for us cancer patients, increasing my cost of living. (I previously received a 25% discount, which still made it more expensive than the neighboring state I was forced to move from).

    I return to find I must give up my parking space I have cherished for the year I’ve been stuck here.

    I’d finally relented & ordered a free govt cell phone 3 weeks ago since my 32 y/o car is beginning to show signs of illness as I travel 85 miles each way to my Drs appts & I must concede I may one day need a way to call for the towing I pay for. So I once again checked the status of my order.

    It’s a govt program but I found out (by asking) that while the main ofc is in Florida, the employees are from the Philippines.
    Am I wrong to have a problem with the govt outsourcing a govt program when there are plenty of folks here–especially rural–that could easily fill those positions via the internet? (It just dawned on me that my neck probably went out from shaking my head over the doings of our govt this past week)

    Then I bring up NC only to read that Eric Holder is seriously considering running in 2020.
    Aww, hell no!

    I shall, however, remain confident tomorrow will be a much better day, as I now write this one off & enjoy my overpriced ‘goods’ obtained earlier & hope for a feel-good critter story here to begin tomorrow with, maybe? *hint, hint*

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