2:00PM Water Cooler 7/25/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Farmers prefer Trump do trade deals than hand them cash” [Associated Press]. ” Many farmers remain critical of President Donald Trump’s tariffs and the damage done to commodity prices and markets but were appreciative Tuesday that he offered to provide some cash to help offset their losses… “This is a short-term solution to allow President Trump time to work on long-term trade deals to benefit agriculture and the entire U.S. economy,” said Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue. The money comes from the Commodity Credit Corporation, a USDA agency founded in 1933. It has authority to borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury at any one time to ‘stabilize, support, and protect farm income and prices.'” Some farmers expressed concern that few details have been released. The USDA said it planned to roll out some of those details around Labor Day and the program would begin to make payouts after the fall harvest.” • Just in time for the mid-terms! NOTE * Whaddaya know. The Executive Branch has a lot of power. I wish somebody had told Obama.

“Today’s Pickup: NAFTA talks set to resume as auto tariffs loom overhead” [Freight Waves]. “As the heat of the tariffs’ war subsides, the NAFTA talks are set to continue this week between the three countries after two months of subdued negotiations. The talks were stalled over the last month as Mexico went into its presidential election, and now the governments are getting back together to discuss key issues regarding the auto industry. This talk is also expected to highlight the aluminium and steel tariffs that the U.S. levied on its neighbors, which triggered a retaliation from those countries. Mexico and Canada have been hard hit by the tariffs as a huge part of their auto exports end up the U.S.”



Help me:

Here’s the survey, which I naturally filled out enthusiastically. Though the design of the survey, a thinly disguised scheme to separate die-hard Clinton supporters from their money, has that faintly hysterical yet relentlessly cheesy down-market direct mail feel — like so much of Democrat fundraising — it was distributed by a real organization, the National Democratic Training* Committee, supported by real Democrat insitutions like Democracy for America, ActBlue, etc. • Here again, what should be a core party function is outsourced. I don’t want to use the word “grifters,” but feel free to think it. NOTE * They offer wheels as a promotional premium!

“Inside Ozy Fest, the progressive alternate reality where the brands outshine the ideas” [WaPo]. “Ozy Fest is cheaper and more interactive than TED Talk conferences, and similar to Burning Man in the sense that Grover Norquist is here… Attendees are wearing T-shirts that say ‘I’m still with her’ and ‘The future is female’ and ‘Love trumps hate.’ They are getting their charts read by an astrologist wearing a feathered mohawk headdress. They are commissioning custom-made poetry from Brooklyn performer-artist Lynn Gentry, who sits behind a manual typewriter asking for a word or two of subject-matter inspiration… Clinton herself is here at Ozy Fest, in a flowing sky-blue caftan and white linen pants, looking like she was choppered in from East Hampton. For 45 minutes, she is the president of this little plot of Central Park, astride the ritziest Zip code in New York City, a bubble within a bubble within a bubble. Her interlocutor is billionaire philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, the sixth richest woman on the planet and a primary investor in Ozy Media, whose name comes from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem ‘Ozymandias’…” • Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley: “I met a traveller from an antique land, Who said—”Two vast and trunkless legs of stone / Stand in the desert….” Hidden by a caftan, it would seem.

“Fear and loathing at OZY Fest” [The Week]. “[OZY Fest] rolled into New York City’s Central Park this weekend, bringing with it thousands of attendees who had all voluntarily decided that the best way to spend their time and money was by going to something described favorably as ‘TED meets Coachella’… While it’s easy to dunk on the superbly mediocre lineup, in practice the event was the best argument I’ve seen yet for why the Democratic Party is in need of a radically new approach — because this lot sure has nothing to say…. OZY Fest is a strange, well-funded mutation of the #Resistance, organized and attended by people who are so out of touch and smugly self-congratulatory that ‘highlights’ of day one, which I attended, are limited to Hillary Clinton talking about Russia and DNC Chairman Tom Perez predicting the party will win ‘north of 23’ House seats and ‘plus two’ Senate seats come November. For a festival with the tagline ‘Think. Eat. Rock.’ … There wasn’t much of anything thought provoking; everything that was said had been said before…. Cynthia Nixon, who is running for governor of New York state on the appealing promise of not being Andrew Cuomo, gave a rote stump speech at the free bandshell stage outside the main gates, name-dropping the Occupy and Black Lives Matter movements, the Parkland shooting, and the Democratic Socialists of America. A couple behind me at her speech, sporting orange wristbands indicating they had paid at least $99 to be there, murmured ‘who is she?’ and ‘she’s totally crazy.'” • Sadly, we have no reader reports….


Readers asked, in the last midterms Worksheet I ran, for a table of upcoming primaries in the 80 districts in play that I have been tracking. Here it is:

Date District Party Incumbent Horserace PVI HRC Flipped City
2018-08-07 KS-02 R Jenkins Lean-R R+10 -18.40 Topeka
2018-08-07 KS-03 R Yoder Lean-R R+04 1.30 Kansas CityS
2018-08-07 MI-07 R Walberg Likely-R R+07 -17.00 pivot Ann ArborS
2018-08-07 WA-05 R McMorris Rodgers Likely-R R+08 -20.10 Spokane
2018-08-07 WA-08 R Reichert Toss-Up EVEN 3.00 Wenatchee
2018-08-14 MN-01 D Walz Toss-Up R+05 -14.90 pivot Rochester
2018-08-14 MN-02 R Lewis Toss-Up R+02 -1.20 pivot Eagan
2018-08-14 MN-03 R Paulsen Lean-R D+01 9.40 MinneapolisS
2018-08-14 MN-07 D Peterson Likely-D R+12 -30.80 pivot Moorhead
2018-08-14 MN-08 D Nolan Toss-Up R+04 -15.60 pivot Duluth
2018-08-14 WI-01 R Ryan Lean-R R+19 -10.30 pivot Kenosha
2018-08-27 MI-06 R Upton Likely-R R+04 -8.40 pivot Kalamazoo
2018-08-27 MI-08 R Bishop Lean-R R+04 -6.70 Lansing
2018-08-27 MI-11 R Trott Toss-Up R+04 -4.40 Livonia
2018-08-28 AZ-01 D O’Halleran Tilt-D R+02 -1.10 Flagstaff
2018-08-28 AZ-02 R McSally Tilt-D R+01 4.90 Tucson
2018-08-28 AZ-08 R VACANT Likely-R R+13 -21.10 PhoenixS
2018-08-28 FL-07 D Murphy Lean-D EVEN 7.30 Orlando
2018-08-28 FL-13 D Crist Safe-D D+02 3.20 pivot Saint Petersburg
2018-08-28 FL-26 R Curbelo Tilt-R D+06 16.30 pivot MiamiS
2018-08-28 FL-27 R Ros-Lehtinen Lean-D D+05 19.60 Miami
2018-09-11 NH-01 D Shea-Porter Tilt-D R+02 -1.60 pivot Manchester

This table includes two new columns that I have added to the database but not hitherto presented: “City,” and “Flipped.” City (like “Topeka”), is intended to give out-of-state readers a sense of the district that a bare “KS-02” does not; it names what I considered the main city for every district, generally the city with the largest population, though cities are often split by district lines. (The subscript S is for “Suburb.”) Flipped shows districts that flipped from Obama to Trump (that is, the districts that gave Trump his 2016 margin; see here and here). As you can see, these districts are critical in 2018, too.

“Why Trump Won’t Take a Political Hit From Summit Follies” [Charles Cook, Political Report]. The views of the two groups of partisans are already fixed. “The third group is independents. The bad news for Republicans is that Trump’s approval rating among independents was just between 40 and 45 percent and will likely drop a bit because of recent events. The better news for Republicans is that increasingly, independents read, watch, and listen to less news than partisans, so they are less likely to be much aware of what is going on [For some definition of “What is going on.” –lambert]. Many of them approach anything coming from the media with a more-than-healthy degree of skepticism, not so much because they see the media as too liberal or for that matter too corporatist, but just because they have heard a lot of bad things about the media and are mistrustful of everything. To the extent that they pay less attention to news, the volatility of their attitudes is lower, as they don’t live and breathe this stuff the way partisans and ideologues do.” • Lower volatility as a consequence of the press, as a class, acing itself out as it has with hysteria and bullshit, not to mention eagerly propagating mis-and disinformation campaigns (WMDs) is an interesting perception (and why I read these cigar-puffing walruses). Keynes’ metaphor of “pushing on a string” comes to mind. It would also be interesting to know how many independents are counter-suggestible, though I suspect the percentage is low.

GA Governor: “After Trump-Backed Candidate Wins Nomination, Georgia Governor’s Race Becomes Historic ‘Battle of the Bases'” [Governing]. “Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a self-described “unapologetic conservative,” rode an endorsement from President Trump to a come-from-behind victory in the Republican runoff on Tuesday. He now faces former state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, an unabashed progressive and the first black woman nominated for governor by a major party in any state…. Abrams has made the idea of appealing to minorities and other core Democratic voters an essential part of her strategy. Five years ago, she founded the New Georgia Project, which has registered tens of thousands of African-American voters.” • As I keep saying, if the Democrat Party wanted to expand its base, it would make voter registration a core party function, 24/7/365. Abrams had to do it herself, and good for her.

PA-17: “Rothfus vs. Lamb Clash Moves From Toss Up to Lean Democratic” [Cook Political Report]. “A Monmouth University poll shows newly elected Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb leading three-term GOP Rep. Keith Rothfus 51 percent to 39 percent. It corroborates data parties have seen privately, and we’re moving our rating from Toss Up to Lean Democratic. The new 17th CD is close to Lamb’s dream district. It unites almost all of suburban Allegheny County, including his home and political base of Mt. Lebanon, with Beaver County, which has a strong blue-collar Democratic heritage. On the whole, it’s much less Republican and more Pittsburgh-centric than either incumbent’s current seat. Both Lamb and Rothfus’s current seats voted for President Trump by around 20 points. But the new 17th CD voted for Trump by just two points, 49 percent to 47 percent (its PVI is R+3, versus R+11 in both the current 12th and 18th CDs). It also sports a double-digit Democratic voter registration advantage…. The combination of dramatically better district lines for Democrats, the candidate resume contrast and an anti-Trump national mood give Lamb the clear advantage. Rothfus becomes only the second GOP incumbent to join the Lean Democratic column.” • Good description of the district, but isn’t there a Rule about getting excited over one poll?

New Cold War

“Before her arrest as an alleged Russian agent, Maria Butina’s proud defense of her homeland drew notice at American University” [WaPo]. • Yes, we’re going hysterical over a Russian “agent” who communicated with her putative handler over Twitter DM. Have you noticed the common thread, here, and with the Mueller indictment, that the insanely devious and powerful Russkis also have terrible operational security? Flaw in the narrative, there, dudes. Anyhow, this poor woman’s real problem is that she didn’t go to work for the Saudis or the Israelites. Proudly defending slave powers and apartheid states is jake with the angels. Think, people!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Have Women Shifted Democratic during the Trump Era?” [Data for Progress]. “In sum, reviewing these three forms of political behavior [i.e., partisanship, general election vote choice, and midterm U.S. House race vote choice] across various data sources produces plenty of ambiguity and inconsistency in determining whether political differences between men and women are growing. This suggests claims of historically large gender gaps in the era of Trump in American politics seem a little overblown. At the same time, it’s important to acknowledge the evidence pointing to some recent change. The partisanship gender gap has gradually increased over the years in a few cases (GSS, Pew) and jumped substantially one year into Trump’s presidency in others (Gallup, CCES). Moreover, disaggregated data clarifies that women are driving these slightly increasing gender gaps (moving more Democratic and less Republican) more than men doing so. The general election vote choice gender gap did increase in 2016 but for the most part only barely. The upcoming midterm election offers the next compelling test of this question, but even then, current relevant evidence produces an uncertain answer.” • To summarize brutally, it’s not clear that The American Association of University Women is a good proxy for all women, including suburban Republican, and working class women.

Stats Watch

New Home Sales, June 2018: “New home sales unfortunately join the host of housing data showing weakness” [Econoday]. The Spring selling season was a poor one for the housing sector with both new sales and especially resales showing little life. Less-than-favorable mortgage rates are one reason for the slowing as are constraints on new building including scarcity of skilled construction labor as well as materials.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, July 20, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell a seasonally adjusted 1 percent” [Econoday].

Shipping: “Drewry shares a few insights on current state of ocean shipping” [Logistics Management]. “‘With the peak season now starting, other carrier consortia will likely not need to reduce capacity, at least until the peak season ends in about October,’ [Philip Damas, head of Drewry’s Supply Chain Advisors] said…. He was also critical about recent bunker fuel surcharges, observing that carriers announced nearly identical new fees. He said that some shippers regard this as “price signalling” – a term used to say that a competitor is communicating proposed price increases to other competitors, who can then respond even without direct discussions.” • Cartels, and their little ways…

The Bezzle: “Brookings survey finds only 21 percent willing to ride in a self-driving car” [Brookings Institute]. “Recent fatalities involving self-driving vehicles appear to be making people nervous about self-driving vehicles. When asked in a survey undertaken by researchers at the Brookings Institution how likely they are to ride in a self-driving car, only 21 percent of adult internet users said they are inclined to do so, compared to 61 percent who are not…. Recent fatalities involving self-driving vehicles appear to be making people nervous about self-driving vehicles. When asked in a survey undertaken by researchers at the Brookings Institution how likely they are to ride in a self-driving car, only 21 percent of adult internet users said they are inclined to do so, compared to 61 percent who are not.” • Shorter: “Sure, I’ll get in your algorithmic death trap. If you pay me!” Seems like Silicon Valley is having it’s own little legitimacy crisis?

The Bezzle: “Disney, Fox and Netflix” [West Coast Stat Views]. “One idea which is treated as credible by investors and the financial press while seen as completely absurd by anyone with knowledge of the business is the idea that the company can, in a relatively short period of time, create a content library that rivals that of the major studios in quantity and quality. It’s true that Netflix is spending a great deal of money producing new shows, but even if they were doing this in the smartest possible way and getting the greatest possible bang for their buck (which they aren’t) it would still be a tiny fraction of the investment they would need to make…. [A]ny analysis you’ve seen that defends Netflix’s skyhigh valuation and doesn’t address this issue should be ignored as worthless.”

Five Horsemen: “In early trade three of the five horsemen are at record highs” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen July 25 2018

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

Mania panic index July 24 2018

Our Famously Free Press

“Choose A Path” [Eschaton]. “Let me post stupid shit on my wall. If other people want to share it, who cares. The problem is that facebook specifically has had ever evolving ways of not just letting you do this, but actively encouraging “sharing” and the placement (purchase) of ads which push bullshit content, along with their own content curation. And that’s because they want to make money off of the bullshit. I mean, I only see bullshit on facebook, aside from the what trusted friends actually post. That’s where the money is. And there’s no such as a neutral “algorithm.” Again, they don’t need the damn algorithms. But that’s where the money is.” • This One Old-School Blogger’s Idea Could Destroy All Social Media: All I want, from all social media, is a list, chronologically arranged, curated by me. The accounts on my list shoud do the sharing, not some horrid algo. Maybe we should just outlaw the algorithmic arrangement of content, after we break up the social media monopolies. Why not?


“Capital Goods Makers Judged on How Well They Meet Paris Agreement” [Governing]. “‘Regulators and markets are demanding the decarbonization of high emitting sectors and the industrial corporations at the end of the chain are looking to their suppliers to find innovative new solutions and equipment,’ said Carole Ferguson, head of Investor Research, CDP. “The good news is that the capital goods sector is starting to meet this challenge.’… The CDP report assesses companies across four key areas aligned with the recommendations from Mark Carney’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). As the TCFD recommendations become mainstream, investors will increasingly expect capital goods companies to disclose how they are adjusting their business models to manage transition risks, while taking advantage of the opportunity to generate revenue from the global transition to a low-carbon economy…. The main transition risk for the sector is managing emissions down the value chain. Scope 3* accounts for over 90% of sector emissions, however corporate disclosure and management of these emissions are poor. Less than a third of the companies we analyzed have a scope 3 emissions reduction target.” NOTE * Undefined in the article, but: “For most sectors, the largest sources of a company’s emissions lie upstream and/or downstream of their core operations. For that reason, if scope 3 emissions represent more than 40 percent of a company’s overall emissions, the SBTi requires they set a target to cover this impact. There are different options for companies to set a scope 3 target.”

Guillotine Watch

“How Silicon Valley Has Disrupted Philanthropy” [The Atlantic]. “So Silicon Valley nonprofits are pivoting, to use a local term of art, like the Boys & Girls Club did. They’re taking their cues from The Giving Code, which recommends not talking about ‘charity’ and meeting immediate community needs, but instead focusing on ‘impact’ and getting at root causes of problems. It suggests using the language and mindsets of business, and focusing on metrics, data, and effectiveness, rather than the language of altruism and ethics. It says that Silicon Valley donors are interested in approaches to solving problems that use technology, and in causes to which they have a personal connection.” • As it was written, so shall it be: “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force. The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production, so that thereby, generally speaking, the ideas of those who lack the means of mental production are subject to it.” It is known….

Class Warfare

“Is Hiring Ex-Offenders a Good Idea?” [Governing]. • Works for bankers!

“The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 1” [Law and Political Economy]. “In today’s post, I’ll describe the limits of the mainstream economists’ answer, which lies at the foundation of “the robots will take all the jobs” and the legitimation of winner-take-all markets. Tomorrow’s post will outline the limits of the dominant left reaction, as well as the limits of Karl Polanyi’s approach, which has provided so much inspiration for the present resurgence of political economy. Finally, in the third post I’ll outline a view of the political economy of technology.” • Well worth a read. I’m just happy to see a good blog with “Political Economy” in its name.

“Calibrating scientific skepticism – a wider look at the field of transgenerational epigenetics” [Wiring the Brain]. • This is important if you view, as I do, epigenetics as one way class reproduces itself across generations.

“Food rioters and the American Revolution” [Barbara Clark Smith, libcom.org]. “On more than thirty occasions between 1776 and 1779, American men and women gathered in crowds to confront hoarding merchants, intimidate “unreasonable” storekeepers, and seize scarce commodities ranging from sugar to tea to bread…. Such food or price riots occurred in at least five northern states – New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as well as in Maryland and, according to one report, Virginia. Some towns, such as East Hartford, Connecticut, and Beverly, Massachusetts, seem to have witnessed only one incident; others, including Boston and Philadelphia, experienced deep, sustained conflict. A good-sized minority of the crowds we know about consisted largely of women; a few others may have included men and women alike.”

“A Sociologist Examines the “White Fragility” That Prevents White Americans from Confronting Racism” [The New Yorker]. “In a new book, White Fragility, DiAngelo attempts to explicate the phenomenon of white people’s paper-thin skin. She argues that our largely segregated society is set up to insulate whites from racial discomfort, so that they fall to pieces at the first application of stress—such as, for instance, when someone suggests that “flesh-toned” may not be an appropriate name for a beige crayon. Unused to unpleasantness (more than unused to it—racial hierarchies tell white people that they are entitled to peace and deference), they lack the ‘racial stamina’ to engage in difficult conversations. This leads them to respond to ‘racial triggers’—the show ‘Dear White People,’ the term ‘wypipo’—with ’emotions such as anger, fear and guilt,’ DiAngelo writes, ‘and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and withdrawal from the stress-inducing situation.'” • I’ve always thought “white fragility” was a little tendentious, not to say performative. After all, if their fragility was all that great, how do “wypipo,” so-called, simultaneously hold on to their imputed vast powers?

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

EL writes: “I wish I can say that the milkweed has attracted monarch butterflies but I’ve seen are some bugs flies.”

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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. Arizona Slim

    Quoting from the Econoday Economic Report:

    “The Spring selling season was a poor one for the housing sector with both new sales and especially resales showing little life. Less-than-favorable mortgage rates are one reason for the slowing as are constraints on new building including scarcity of skilled construction labor as well as materials.”

    To which I say:

    In my little nabe, I’m noticing an increase in failed sales. As in, properties that are rockin’ those real estate agent signs, and then those signs vanish.

    What’s going on? Well, the houses aren’t selling, and that’s because they’re overpriced.

    Oh, one more data point: One of my neighbors shares a house with his mama, and, oh, do they want to move. The neighbor’s sister recently moved to town, and mama wants to be closer to her.

    They found a house, and, since my neighbor is a Navy veteran, he qualified for a VA loan. The home inspection came back with a 25-page report on all the things that were wrong with that house. Things like a leaky roof (ka-ching!) and an air conditioner that was more than 40 years old (ka-ching!).


    Neighbor asked the sellers to make concessions. Nope, said the seller.

    The deal fell through.

    1. gearandgrit

      Here in Denver the real estate market went from red hot to thoroughly chilly seemingly overnight. I’ve seen housing prices sky rocketing for the past 8 years here and anything between $200k-$450k was selling for 5-10% over asking. Now I’m seeing stuff sit on market, prices dropping by 10+%, etc… I don’t like doom and gloom, but it sure feels like the excrement is heading toward the fan quickly.

      1. Keith Howard

        Also in (NW) Denver, I’ve noticed the slowdown, but an experienced friend thinks it’s the ‘summer slump.’ She expects a pickup the 2nd half of August into the fall. I guess we’ll see.

    2. Randy

      Where I am it appears houses are selling like hotcakes. Two in-laws sold their houses within two weeks of listing. Two years ago they tried and didn’t even get a nibble. I am perplexed because around here there are plenty of jobs now but wages are staying low so unless these buyers have been saving I don’t see how they can buy without going subprime.

    3. Wyoming

      I live in Prescott, AZ which is a small metro area of about 100,000 (4-5 small towns). Our sales have been very strong and there have been no signs to date of a slow down. Lots of retirees moving in as we are on some of the lists of best places in the US to retire to as well as being a hub for retired veterans due to our VA hospital. A house went on the market about a block away from us for $469K about 2 weeks ago. We thought it was way high – but it got 4 offers almost immediately and was gone in 2 days. Sales above $400K are many times as high as they were 4 years ago and there are a fair number of houses above $800K moving in the area also.

    4. RUKidding

      I feel like I’m seeing a slight slow down in Sacramento, but my viewpoint is strictly anecdotal and could be wrong.

      One acquaintance has had his house – in a very trendy area (and nicely remodeled) – on and off and back on the market for over 6 months now. Admittedly is priced too high, but it’s hard to imagine that someone hasn’t managed to make an offer that couldn’t be refused.

      OTOH, not too many properties going in my neighborhood, which is a popular area, so…

      1. Wyoming

        My son and daughter-in-law just bought a house in a trendy neighborhood in Sacramento. They spent months trying to successfully bid on one. If they took the time to go see the house with a realtor it was always gone by the time they got there. Then they turned to just driving by them and seeing what they looked like and trusting the listing pics on what the house looked like inside and then making a bid – and this did not work for a long time either. They finally hit a bid right where they were the top offer – well above asking price- and made it continent on the housing inspection.

        They got a very nice place in a great location – but insanely expensive. The price was right at $400/sq ft

    5. Lee

      My house in Alameda CA is currently worth twice as much as it was at the bottom of the crash when it was worth about 35% less than what I paid for it. For the moment, on paper I’m a millionaire! Even so, I drive a 20 year old car, a 15 year old motorcycle, wear clothes older than my adult children, will have to live to a hundred to pay off the mortgage, and just manage to make the monthly nut. That some 75% of my fellow citizens are less well off than me is horrifying. As for the billions of less fortunate in other countries, it doesn’t bear thinking about. Sometimes I feel that we are all living atop quicksand. Perhaps if I take a nap the feeling will pass.

      1. Tom Stone

        Here in Sonoma County the number of price reductions has exceeded the number of new listings several times this week, roughly a third of the deals are falling out of escrow due to condition issues or for not appraising and inventory is picking up.
        There were more than 50 homes on the Santa Rosa Tour yesterday, about twice what we saw last year.
        Sellers are always slow to read the memo.
        Disclosure, I am a Real Estate Broker.

        1. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

          To Tom Stone (with an antidote to real estate BS):

          Do you deal in hyperbole and If not what’s the best you’ve seen?

          Around 25 years ago I read of an estate agent in London who gave the absolute unvarnished truth. I can’t find a link but here is one about an agent from decades ago.


          An extract:

          “Wanted: Someone with taste, means and a stomach strong enough to buy this erstwhile house of ill-repute in Pimlico. It is untouched by the 20th century as far as conveniences for even the basic human decencies are concerned. Although it reeks of damp or worse, the plaster is coming off the walls and daylight peeps through a hole in the roof, it is still habitable judging by the bed of rags, fag ends and empty bottles in one corner. Plenty of scope for the socially aspiring to express their decorative taste and get their abode in The Glossy, and nothing to stop them putting Westminster on their notepaper. Comprises 10 rather unpleasant rooms with slimy back yard, 4,650 Freehold. Tarted up, these houses make 15,000.”

          Locally here in Brisbane “Hamptons” is currently a popular word used in the ads for relatively small residences.


            1. AbateMagicThinking - but Not Money

              Chris & Wick:

              Cockney ryhming slang to me as well, but I think they mean somewhere US old money millionaires built huge mansions which they called ‘cottages’ (maybe to annoy the poor) on Long Island.


      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        again, a caveat about my little county(pop4500) not being representative of anything.
        a few new for sale signs…lots of old, weathered, even leaning over or hail damaged, for sale signs.
        number of realtors back to normal, down from the top of the market(08) when we had 50(!) or so.
        in my irregularly timed drives around the dirt roads, I notice a couple of new Compound looking Gates, very elaborate, no house in sight…unless it’s that one on that hill back there. These, I am informed, are rich folks from Houston or Dallas, who don’t live here, but want their own Texas New Zealand to retreat to when SHTF.(this is, apparently, a thing in Texas. it’s been happening out here since Bush2)
        so, no booming real estate out here…but, in solidarity with Lee, those Rich Folks and their Doomsteads have given the Property Tax people a stiffy, and “appraisals” are up as a result.
        Mine, not so much…the Rich Folks are elsewhere in the county…but I expect that the number of “challenges” will be way up, again.(interestingly, many of these doomsteads weren’t listed locally, so no signage.just suddenly with the earth moving equipment)
        The formulas the tax people use are an esoteric mystery, to me. I’ve heard tell that Google Earth is involved. What I do know, is that if some minor oil baron pays a fortune for the patch of rock and thorn next door, your trailer house will suddenly appreciate.

        1. Lee

          We’ve got proposition 13 in CA, so no reassessment unless property is sold. It may even pass between generations in a family without reassessment. Even so, I pay $5K a year in property taxes. New purchasers take it in the neck. See:

          Landlords and Heirs: Why Prop 13 isn’t just unfair, it’s un-American

          If I keep the house til the bitter end, I’m leaving to one of my kids who is cursed with a love for working with his hands and thus will probably not be able afford to live in the neighborhood in which he was raised. The 9.9 percenters who are buying everything around here will need someone who knows how to keep an old house standing and in good functional order.

          As for the doomsteaders. In the event of general collapse, aren’t they painting targets on their backs? I’ve already got my eye on some of my better off neighbors. ; )

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I wish Texas had sensible things, sometimes.
            All I want for the rest of my sojourn, here, is to make a homestead for the boys(and my brother’s bunch) to come home to. Coming darkness, and all…
            as for the targets and backs…I don’t know.
            I’ve only ever seen/met one of those folks…in the feedstore, pressed jeans, ostrich boots, pristine 10 gallon, bragging…he was an ass, as near as I could tell. “all hat…”
            a pretend rancher with probable “performance issues”.
            very large, brand new dually, too…all shiny, with shiny expensive rifle and scope in the rack…which was impractically located wa-a-ay in the back window(double and a half cab, of course). He’d hafta get out, then climb in to get it if there was a coyote or something.
            Faux redneck that gives the real one’s a bad name.
            But like I said, those folks don’t really live here…and I don’t go among the mundane enough to run into them when they do.
            Prolly learned about this particular backwater back when we used to have a hunting season(pre-911)

    6. Freethinker

      Chicago prices continue to ramp up to ridiculous midwestern ranges…even as sales have markedly slowed in the waning midsummer days. With growing frequency, properties that have sat for weeks or months are being relisted on MLS to make them appear as though brand new listings. Given the high number of buyers looking, albeit far less enthusiastically as time passes, this sneaky approach to avoiding price reductions doesn’t seem to have resulted in increased interest from prospective buyers. These overpriced, vampire homes continue to be ignored, listing after relisting. Also, noticeably increasing equivocation from prospective buyers as more MLS property listings rapidly changed from CTG to RACT. Another observation: agents seem to be raising prices on new entries (not listed previously this season) in the hopes that aging, less pricey properties for sale appear more attractive. However, buyers continue to shy away from props that have been on the market for more than 15 days. As a wrap, the local trends over the past few weeks show inventory swelling while the real estate industry players pour themselves more margaritas, don Hollywood shades, and repeat, “the future’s so bright. “

  2. Jean

    Hilarious image;

    “No No…It’s Mine…I’m president.”

    Hillary in a straitjacket, surrounded by matrons

    “The Russians stole my presidency!”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From Rolling Stone:

      We dosed ourselves with LSD before embarking on this pilgrimage Saturday afternoon so as to better absorb the event’s energy.

      Not sure these guys can could carry Hunter Thompson’s jock strap, but reading on:

      The theme of the sermon was Russia. Specifically: How Russia staged a coup against our rightful Queen in favor of a crude (and legitimately worse) interloper. “It was a very broad and a very successful cyber attack on our electoral system,” Clinton said. “The attack goes to the heart of our democracy. The great mystery is why the president has not spoken up for our country.”

      “There are some tech experts in Silicon Valley whom I have met who say that maybe what they will do this time is really disrupt the actual election,” she continued. “We are still very vulnerable.” Her repeating leitmotif of a solution: “The best way to deal with them is to vote in November.” Perhaps starting to wrap their minds around the catch-22 presented, the cheering women began to slouch.

      So, punch telegraphed, which is good reporting. No, these guys are not in HST’s league, but the article does contain an amazing inventory of class and cultural markers for liberal Democrats. And to be fair, the Las Vegas casino, the Circus Circus, that Thompson visited (with his lawyer, of course) was probably orders of magnitude less crazed and delusional than OzyFest. So the subject matter here was more challenging.

      1. Jim Haygood

        Hard to imagine a less congenial setting for mind expansion than a partisan event in Central Park.

        Having witnessed a human stampede at an outdoor concert there — we took shelter behind a large tree as panicked thousands charged past in blind fear of getting trampled — I wouldn’t even consider being on hallucinogens in a sweaty, edgy summer crowd in NYC.

        Dosing for Hillary means going deep retro: barbiturates (Seconal, Nembutal) should do the trick for numbing the horror.


      2. Darthbobber

        They seem to think that this is the answer to their perceived problem with the younguns. Which says something about a certain mindset, I suppose.

        Remember the hilariously short-lived official dem effort To”reach out” to those involved or semi-involved with Occupy? Hacks arriving with briefcases and scripts striving most man and womanfuly to convince the audience that Dem rightist politics were the way to go, and that Obama and Pelosi were the Kropotkin and Emma Goldman for the new era.

        As Clapton said in a song
        “It didn’t last long,
        It didn’t go far. “

      3. ChrisPacific

        On regaining the trust of Millennials, an increasingly aggressive Bash got him [Perez] to admit he sees it as a problem of “perception” rather than any deeper issues with the Party’s structure or message.

        Haha. Of course he does. Ask not what your country can do for you etc.

        1. Duke of Prunes

          Have the establishment Dems identified any problem which is not one of “perception”? It’s all seems to boil down to marketing.

      4. The Rev Kev

        If Ozy Media’s name comes from the Percy Bysshe Shelley poem ‘Ozymandias’…”, then I am sure that some remember the line from that poem that says-

        Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

        After reading those two articles, that seemed kind of fitting.

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          I had the same thought. No surprise, though, that the irony of the poem was totally lost on the highly educated organizers. Assuming they even bothered to read it.

          If your goal is to make a point of how strong and resilient you are, “Ozymandias” isn’t exactly a good choice.

          1. ambrit

            I’m expecting next a Hillary Fundraiser special staging of that neo rendition of “Aida.” Better yet, use ‘AIDA’ as the logo. More ‘contemporary.’

        2. Skip Intro

          I was kind of shocked. I suspect someone punked them. Here is the work, for convenience:

          I met a traveller from an antique land,
          Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
          Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
          Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
          And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
          Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

          Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
          The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
          And on the pedestal, these words appear:
          My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
          Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
          Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
          Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
          The lone and level sands stretch far away

          I mean, jeez…

      5. ObjectiveFunction

        “There are some tech experts in Silicon Valley whom I have met who say that maybe what they will do this time is really disrupt the actual election,” she continued.

        Disrupt? Like, with a cloth?

        1. Charlie

          That quote begged a question for Hillary.

          Wait, you mean they didn’t “disrupt” last time out? Then what are you complaining about the Russians for? You lost on your own.

      6. FluffytheObeseCat

        Do not under-estimate the kray-kray of Vegas casino culture circa 1972. We did not get here by accident.

      7. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

        Re Rolling stone link:

        I could’t get the link to work, but if there was no Ralph Steadman style illustration it would just not gel.


    2. Annieb

      Ozyfest: sounds like a pricy day care center for Hilary fans complete with monotone story readers at nap time. Why do some Americans like to be led about by the nose? Fed bland pablum by their political “leaders”? They won’t do any research on the issues except read or listen to MSM talking heads. Heaven forbid they listen to what the other side has to say or even worse turn on RT, just out of curiosity. Oh no! It (whatever) might be catching and then it would be all down hill like political Ebola.

      1. Carolinian

        $99 is chump change for a Hillary event. That’s probably why she didn’t bother to dress up.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Oo. There may be more than a shade of truth in that sartorial critique.

          But to me, $99 isn’t cheap. That amount buys maybe enough groceries to get Mr. BRB and I through one week. Not in style, but through the week. If we eat light. Of course, none of the “festival” attendees have any clue what that means for the millions who are in the same boat as me. For most of them, the silliness in the park was the only reason to skip the Hamptons or the Vineyard — for this weekend.

          1. polecat

            but she can afford to dress down .. somewhat tastefully

            Oh silly me, I forgot … her Empressness Wears No Clothes !

              1. polecat

                Ha ! I ain’t goin there, ambrit ..as I’d feel compelled into buy eyebleach stocks to infinity, if that were the case !!
                But no, I was making reference to a parable, a moral , a fair yea tail. Only the sexes have been changed to curse the wretched. ‘;]

  3. Fried

    Oh, no, I interfered with the US election by filling out the Hillary questionnaire. Unfortunately the page where you pay didn’t work for me.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        Ja. I wasn’t surprised.
        “give us money, or we don’t care what you think”
        I was surprised that NoScript didn’t overheat like as usual on such things…2 little scripts running. not 45.
        I did use one of my alter-emails, though. Let them send their tsunami of begging to oblivion.

    1. cm

      I found it interesting that the front page asks about Hillary, but the deeper survey, which lists possible D Presidential candidates (including Warren & Sanders!) omits her!

      What’s the issue w/ submitting an e-mail address? BozoCandidate@Whitehouse.gov works just fine….

      When they were asking for how much money I wished to donate I was disappointed to discover you can’t enter a negative number……..

      1. Phillip Allen

        I noticed the interesting array of choices, sans HRC, too. I wonder if they were really looking for a threat ranking without her confounding the field.

        I thought it telling as well that when I chose an ‘other’ option, the survey asks no further information. It’s almost like they don’t care what I think.

      2. The Rev Kev

        Don’t suppose in the part where you can donate money, you can put in ‘thoughts and prayers’?

    2. Arizona Slim

      Me? I filled it out, all right. Oh, yes I did. Answered every single question on that survey.

      And I used an e-mail address from many, many, MANY years ago. Which means that all of those HRC fundraising missives are going to bounce. Awwww …

  4. nippersmom

    No way I am giving the DNC my email address by filling out the Hillary questionnaire. Bad enough I still seem to get emails from people who must have gotten my information from ActBlue (I donated via them to Sanders’ campaign- I won’t make that mistake again). I’m not voluntarily making it any easier for these charlatans to harass me.

      1. nippersmom

        No, I never felt the need for one until very recently. I’ve decided that I just won’t participate in “opportunities” that would prompt me to use one.

        1. Lee

          Also note that the “yes” response is capitalized with an exclamation point (YES!) while the alternative responses are in lower case. Is that what’s called a nudge?

      2. polecat

        Don’t ya just love it !
        Not ‘pick one’
        Not ‘check the appropriate box’ even

        No .. we have to SUBMIT !!
        … in deference to the Blueglazed Moo moo of Malcontent …

        Uhg ! Would someone kindly point me towards the vomitoria ..

      1. JCC

        That is one issue where I’ll give gmail some credit.

        When you mark a message as spam, it both puts further emails from them in the spam folder to be deleted automatically, and sends the unsubscribe notice for you. Two “F offs” with one click :-)

        1. Arizona Slim

          I just used that Gmail function. For a message that’s unrelated to the topic of this thread.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Step #1: Create throwaway email address. Make it obvious, like Vladisatmypad@gmail.

      Step #2: Fill out every political questionnaire with it.

      Step #3: Never log in to read the email. Ever!

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        aye. I’ve still got a boat load of burners from my big field study of the Rightyverse. (for to be Jane Goodall in a Duck Blind in RW cesspits online)
        Never checked any of them, which I’m sure are chock full of campaign materials and pleas for cash.
        I don’t even remember the passwords.
        so i just use those for this sort of thing…answering surveys and whatnot.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Sharklasers.com is good for throwaway e-mail addresses.

      Don’t make the mistake of using a real one and thinking unsubscribe will protect you. Does anyone seriously think the DNC aren’t raising a bit of extra cash on the side by shopping your info to spammers?

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        It’s the DCCC and DSCC that will ignore any and all attempts to unsubscribe from their screaming, hysterical demands for money. I eventually had to use the Gmail “Unsub and report” to get rid of them.

        ActBlue I get the occasional email from but not often enough I’ve felt the need to unsub yet. They seem to do a good job of helping get money to candidates.

  5. Dave

    We can outlaw algorithms as part of the larger jobs-creation program of the Butlerian Jihad.
    Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.

  6. hemeantwell

    I’ve always thought “white fragility” was a little tendentious, not to say performative.

    Yes. It’s not that whites, or blacks, are fragile, social bonds are. Most everyone has a varyingly accurate appreciation of the fact that racism pervades social relations here and that the potential for conflict and violence is always present, even if everyone is smiling. The way the sociologist seems to define “confronting racism” makes it sound something like a sincere apology and even a promise to do better would be enough, when the problem is so structurally baked in and injurious that people know individual-level corrections are only superficial. It would be very worthwhile to know what sorts of breakdown scenarios whites carry in the backs of their minds. Nat Turner? Late 60s ghetto explosions? Films and tv are so awash in apocalypse these days that it’s all too easy to formulate breakdown images and scenarios.

  7. Summer

    Re: Inside OzyFest…

    “They are getting their charts read by an astrologist wearing a feathered mohawk headdress.”

    Any Contrarians?

        1. Plenue

          As I recall, Warren herself started that. She made some claim to Native heritage, while having a whole 1/16th or similar in her blood. People were mocking her for it long before Trump jumped on board.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            Tempest in a teapot, there.
            I’m 1/8 Cherokee, but it’s the East Texas Band, which apparently doesn’t count with the Official Bunch.
            Never mattered to my grandad(1/2) who taught me woodcraft and such. There are no records for that whole side of the family anyway…dirt floors and buckboards and the whole swamp people coonass lifestyle and all.
            So it’s all anecdotal…and that’s OK.
            Blood quanta is rather illiberal anyway, no?

          2. EricT

            No, she filled out a census questionnaire in 2000 and checked the box for American Indian, since the directions had specified check all that apply. It was the right wing media background research that exposed it, and started implying that she lied to get an advantage over others claiming she was part of a minority group. My feeling is it doesn’t matter and if it matters to another person, they probably won’t vote for her anyway and they probably don’t follow the same issues I do.

    1. Partyless Poster

      Wouldn’t that be “cultural appropriation”?
      I guess its ok if Democrats do it

      1. Lee

        I wonder what the anticulturalappropriationists have to say about someone like Yo-Yo Ma? I mean, should the guy even be allowed to play Bach?

  8. dcblogger

    Clinton herself is here at Ozy Fest, in a flowing sky-blue caftan and white linen pants, looking like she was choppered in from East Hampton.

    definitely NOT the look of anyone contemplating a future White House run. Fundraising is pure grift. Also, Gore handled his EC loss much better.

    1. curlydan

      Dang. The WaPo can sure turn lemons into lemondade. I was thinking something along the lines of “a desultory, draping mu mu on a Woodstock wannabe far from the flower of youth”

    2. John D.

      definitely NOT the look of anyone contemplating a future White House run.

      I don’t know about that. This is the infamous muu-muu, right? It occurs to me she might have been wearing the stupid thing as part of the faux-hippie theme they appeared to be going for at Ozy Fest. The usual packaging to make neoliberalism look like it’s something else. So it was another attempt at branding Herself as something she’s not instead of being a sign that she’s given up.

    3. John D.

      Also, Gore handled his EC loss much better.

      I agree with this, though. And at the time, I was enraged at Gore for rolling over and playing dead while Bush Junior stole the election in the light of open day without the least pretense that he was doing anything else. And I still think that.

      It’s astonishing that HRC’s performance overall has been so dismal that she actually makes Gore’s incompetence and cowardice circa 2000 look good in retrospect. Yikes.

  9. Byron the Light Bulb

    Look on the bright side. Ms. Butina is not being played back [probably]; she doesn’t appear to be cooperating, hence the indictment. She’s holding her head high while being shamed. If she had used encrypted comms, that certainly would have been a red flag. And tradecraft instruction wouldn’t be wasted on someone openly advocating for foreign interests. Butina is more of a stalking horse. The DOJ wouldn’t have much of a case but for her deception that she was incredulously advocating for post-Putin relationships while talking to OFAC’d individuals, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, defrauding the US. Had she not spoken to Torshin and was upfront about her loyalties there would almost nil on which to charge her. BTW, Israel is counterintelligence enemy number one for the Feds. I’m more curious to understand progressive sympathy for a white nationalist autocracy with one political party suppressing modern-day Gogol’s and Bulgakov’s.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > progressive sympathy for a white nationalist autocracy

      Let’s not be passive-aggressive. Is that your considered judgment on the bulleted material following the Butina link? If not, who, exactly, are these progressives?

      1. The Rev Kev

        And the fun and games with the law have started with this case. I read this morning the following-

        “Assistant US attorney Thomas Saunders refused to issue discovery to defense attorney Robert Driscoll until a protective order is secured on it, thereby gagging Driscoll on its subjects.”

        If this was another country, Butina would be called a political prisoner. The people that she met seems to be indicating someone on the make rather than being a spook. Anyway, more on this weird story at-


        1. Elizabeth Burton

          Saunders is also, apparently, working to have some if not all of the evidence classified, which will allow the media to continue spinning all kinds of disinformation about the case prior to trial. After all, his reason for not giving over the discovery was because Driscoll was making an effort to counter stuff CNN et al. were making up.

      1. The Rev Kev

        We’ve seen examples of a new wave of crimes like ‘driving while black’ and ‘running away while black’. Maybe we are seeing the evolution of a whole new category of crimes like ‘talking to officials while Russian’.

  10. Adam1

    “…is that increasingly, independents read, watch, and listen to less news than partisans…”

    Is it because these voters have realized that so much of the “new” is just propaganda that it’s not worth paying attention to? I only keep my registration as NY is a closed primary state, but otherwise I am an independent and I stopped watching, reading and listening to mainstream news years ago. That said I find I am far more informed (in no small part to NakedCapitalism either) than the average partisan junky I run into.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Is it because these voters have realized that so much of the “new” is just propaganda that it’s not worth paying attention to?

      I think that’s part of it. In general, teevee watching is plunging, and the nature of propaganda is adapting to fit its new media.

  11. Summer

    “Less-than-favorable mortgage rates are one reason for the slowing as are constraints on new building including scarcity of skilled construction labor as well as materials.”

    Somewhere, construction workers are receiving on the job training from the current workers, without outnumbering them.
    I was pretty sure that had a lot to do with how we got the preceding construction workers.

  12. Darthbobber

    Media and lower volatility. I tend to share your take on how the “setters of the national agenda” squandered much of their influence. There’s an upper limit to how ham handed you can be and for how long, before people start to call buckshot. As an example of how far we’ve gone, try to imagine any talking head having an impact equivalent to Cronkite pronouncing the Vietnam War a failure, or any press story hitting as hard as the Watergate coverage or even the MyLai story. (Even when the revelations are equally scandalous).

    Marc Bloch, in his marvelous (unfinished, since Klaus Barbie interrupted him), book the historian’s craft, talks about the impact that overwhelming govt control of all information reaching the troops, with rigid press censorship and the redaction of large chunks of letters from home had on the culture at the front.

    As he described it, the men would give credence to almost anything, provided that it was not printed. He opined that the governments had effectively changed the culture into a pre-Gutenberg one, with various points where units met each other in the trench network, or people sent rearward met supply convoys, functioning as medieval fairs and for the spreading of gossip.

    He also mentions that baseless rumors actually were given more credence under these conditions than anything arriving through what are normally thought of as reputable channels.

    1. Carey

      Interesting stuff; thank you. My thought is that the corporatist Explaining Class themselves
      could or will experience real fatigue and its consequences over time, from having to continually gaslight the many. That in combination with the deteriorating objective
      facts of the Situation could make for some interesting outcomes.

      Mmm, I didn’t say that very well, but it’ll have to do for now.

  13. fresno dan


    TRUMP: “It was classified to cover up misconduct by the FBI and the Justice Department in misleading the Court by using this Dossier in a dishonest way to gain a warrant to target the Trump Team. This is a Clinton Campaign document. It was a fraud and a hoax designed to target Trump ….”
    (AP Fact Check): It’s also not correct to call the Steele dossier a “Clinton Campaign document.” Steele was hired by Fusion GPS, a private research firm that in turn was hired by a law firm that represented the Democratic campaign. But Clinton’s closest aides said they didn’t learn about the research until after the election, which is probable considering they never raised the allegations publicly.
    To say that the Steele dossier is not an ACTUAL Clinton campaign document (if you define a Clinton campaign document as written BY the Clinton campaign) is I think correct. I think it leaves out relevant background, but as a succinct statement of fact it is correct. If left at that I think it is debatable interpretation of fact, but defensible. I think the most correct and clarifying thing to have said is the Steele document exists because of research initiated and funded by the Clinton campaign.

    But than to rationalize that it IS NOT a defacto Clinton campaign document due to all the middle men, and than to say this astounding thing: …was hired by a law firm that represented the Democratic campaign !!!!!
    Who the hell was the democratic campaign if not Clinton??? It may not be a “Clinton campaign document” but it certainly is “a document bought for use by the democratic (Clinton) campaign” and I think it is a distinction without a difference to distinguish between “democratic” and “Clinton” and does more to obfuscate than clarify. And for a “fact check” organization, the whole speculation about whether Clinton aides knew about the Steele dossier before the election is not relevant – so why bring it up? Seems too much effort to “prove” that the Steele dossier is not tied to the Clinton campaign.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Via Sic Semper today:

      The Washington Post reported in October 2016 that:

      Marc Elias, a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC, retained Fusion GPS, a Washington, D.C., firm, to conduct the research. Fusion GPS hired dossier author Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer with ties to the FBI and the U.S. intelligence community.

      Elias and his law firm, Seattle-based Perkins Coie, retained the firm in April 2016 on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Before that agreement, Fusion GPS’ research into Trump was funded by a still unknown Republican client during the GOP primary.

      The Clinton campaign and the DNC, through the law firm, continued to fund Fusion GPS’ research through the end of October 2016, days before Election Day.

  14. JohnnyGL

    “Farmers prefer Trump do trade deals than hand them cash” [Associated Press]. ”

    Sounds to me like Farmers wants a Job Guarantee instead of a Universal Basic Income! People want to work and contribute!

    Neoliberalism says rational self-interest rules everything, which means you should LOVE getting something for nothing! But I guess that just ain’t so!?!?!

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      I wish things like this would define “farmer” once in a while.
      I don’t think it means what we think it means.
      are we talking AMD?
      or the actual farmer who just showed up on a fourwheeler at my back door wanting me and the boys to cut up a big oak that fell down 3/4 of a mile to the north?
      Not sure AP understands the difference.
      (he knows we heat with wood, and would hafta pay someone to deal with it otherwise)

  15. polecat

    So I open up my voters ballot to find not one, not five, even .. but 29 other named contestants vieing for Maria Canwell’s (D Boeing) WA. $enate $eat.

    The sharks – they be circling ..
    In ever greater numbers !

      1. polecat

        I’m not familiar with any of her challengers, so I guess it is time to construct an impromptu ‘Senatorial dartboard’ … and try to miss her !

        In all seriousness, there are only 2 candidates I’m voting for .. both local.
        The rest can pound obsidian for all I care ..

        .. gonna write in ‘mr. Not Sure’ and the other characters from ‘IDIOCRACY’ for all the rest. THAT’S how cynical & ambivalent I’ve become, that I no longer care what happens. All that is left is for Chaos to come calling !

  16. Jim Haygood

    Seems like just last week that Fortune was out with a jeremiad titled “The End Is Near,” enumerating the ghastly woes that threaten the market.

    So what did stocks do in response? Ripped higher, bien sur. Today’s S&P 500 close of 2,846 is but one percent below its Jan 26th record high.

    ALL FIVE of the Five Horsemen of the Techpocalypse hit record highs today, a first since we began monitoring them in April 2017.

    Take financial advice from Fortune, and pretty soon you won’t have no fortune.

  17. Synoia

    Attendees are wearing T-shirts that say ‘I’m still with her’ and ‘The future is female’ and ‘Love trumps hate

    I’m still with her! = Ocasio-Cortez
    The Future is Female = Ocasio-Cortez
    Love Trumps hate – (does that include Russians?) = Ocasio-Cortez trumps Clinton!!

    1. polecat

      Is the ‘Future’ also wide open borders ???

      If so, let me know how That’s supposed to help us mopes !

  18. Carolinian

    more-than-healthy degree of skepticism

    So we should be skeptical but not too skeptical? Is he trying to say that press lies are being kept to a reasonable level and therefore one doesn’t want to go overboard with the disbelief? I’m not sure there is such a thing as a “degree of skepticism.” If someone is lying to you then you pretty much aren’t going to trust anything they say. Which is why our parents told us as small children that lying is a bad thing.

    Cronkite said the only thing the news media have to sell is their credibility. He’s been gone for a long time.

      1. ambrit

        Yes. I’m sure that all those Hollerith cards are stored somewhere in IBMs European Headquarters. Maybe in a vault in Zurich.

        1. Lunker Walleye

          No, my sister-in-law turned them all into Christmas wreaths and spray painted them gold in 1968.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      According to the National Holocaust Museum, the estimated total death toll for WW II is about 60 million, including combatants and “collateral damage.” That includes Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

      I recommend one pause and consider that for a moment in light of the kinds of weapons now available to anyone with the money to buy them. I intend to use that number as a talking point in my efforts to support replacing the current crop of miscreants at all levels of government.

  19. rd

    Re: Brookings survey finds only 21 percent willing to ride in a self-driving car”

    Most of the testing so far has been in places like Palo Alto and Arizona. I am looking forward to see what real-world testing in places like Pittsburgh that gets rain, snow, fog etc. works out.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      The company that designed the self-driving golf cart is developing a line of SD shuttles they plan to begin launching in various urban areas shortly. They ran a test in, if memory serves, NYC that was reviewed by one of the tech mags. The opinion was they’re more suited for low-traffic areas like campuses and airports, if only because the top speed is 20 mph or so.

      I wonder if all the tech monopolies working on cars for the open road will be watching.

  20. rd

    Re: Milkweed and monarch butterflies

    Monarch butterflies are non-selective on flow usage, so they may come to the milkweed flowers, but they are just as likely to go to other flowers.

    The real relationship between milkweed and monarch butterflies is that milkweed is the larval food. The butterflies lay their eggs on the leaves and the larvae eat the leaves and then pupate into butterflies. So look to see if the milkweeds have holes in the leaves. Holes in the leaves indicate that larvae have used it for food and made a new butterfly.

    1. Lee

      I love the fact that one regularly encounters knowledgeable nature lovers on a blog primarily devoted to political economy.

      So, why is a butterfly not called a flutterby? I was introduced to the latter term by a 4 year old who preferred it as a more felicitously accurate descriptor.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      In the last two or three years I have seen several monarchs, both caterpillars and butterflies, after seeing none at all for a very long time.

      I’ve seen them on Cape Cod the last three years. First it was just a couple butterflies but the last two years I have seen both adults and caterpillars at the main ranger station for the Cape Cod national seashore. I saw a few just last week and took a picture of a caterpillar chowing down which I’ll try to submit one of these days.

      I’ve also seen them in Maine the last couple years with some caterpillars masticating the milkweed near the beach. And right after we returned from the Cape last week my daughter spotted one flying right through our yard!

      On a related encouraging note, the seal population on the Cape has been increasing rapidly in recent years and we saw ~ 100 of them milling around on a sandbar. And while we visited the national seashore, we also saw several whales – too far away to tell what kind they were but they were one of the larger species.

      If anyone happens to be on the Cape this summer, I highly recommend visiting the national seashore in the Truro/Provincetown area. Very nice to see some wildlife making a comeback. Just watch out for Jaws…

  21. Zachary Smith

    Should Hillary Clinton run for President in 2020?

    An early prediction: Donald Trump cannot possibly win reelection in 2020 unless the Democrats are on board and force his reelection. At the present time they’re doing precisely that.

    Regarding the “poll”, the software there wouldn’t accept $0 as a donation, so at that point I clicked out. :D

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        yeah. it’s not like they’re poor, or anything.
        (although..the Mu-Mu has me flashing way back to East Texas penury)

  22. Darthbobber

    Random thoughts on the New Yorker piece on Robin DiAngelo and “white fragility. ”
    1) Headline is wrong. She is not a sociologist. Doctorate is in multicultural education (a field which normally resides within the colleges of education.) Her academic gig is in a combination of that and the recently branded “field” of whiteness studies.

    2) she draws her experience from dealing with a peculiar subset of honkies, based on 20 years of “conducting diversity and cultural competency workshops for companies.” Not precisely representative of white people, but probably pretty representative of a particular subset of middle-class, college educated professional and pseudoprofessional whites.

    3) The above grouping is probably the exact one most likely to show some of the symptomology of the invented syndrome.

    4) The parts of this that have some validity would have validity for about any social grouping that has members. Are there commonly groups, classes, subcultures of any kind in a society that don’t share a flattering image of themselves, a less flattering image of other groups, and a selective screening of reality to accomplish this? I’m not aware of the existence of such a thing.

    5) The group she deals with most often is highly predisposed to act this way, because they’re in a double bind. Many of the jobs they hold for the very companies that send them to these workshops require them to police, enforce and implement aspects of an order partly stratified in race and gender terms, and heavily stratified in class terms. (en passant, this is all apparently fine if done with the requisite sensitivity and cultural competence.)

    6) I really coughed on the line “rarely is a white person on the street reduced to a stereotype. ” Either someone missed the relentless portrayals of both the tea parties and the Trumpies as white trash, or they contrive to see this as somehow not stereotyping. At the pop culture level, this has been a root trope at least since the Honeymooners and it’s reimagined liberal cousin, All in the Family. Oh, but those weren’t generic whites, they were blue collar whites, and from the less prestigious part of that. they’ve always been fair game.

    The one time I recall white people being all butthurt about being on the receiving end of an unflattering stereotype, it was those poor souls who suffered bitterly from having the term “yuppie” applied to them. Professional middle class was very much not used to being on the receiving end. Lots of aggrieved pouting.

    7) Maybe she should just have her classes play the ancient Starpower simulation.

    1. Musicismath

      The problem with anti-racism is that, like other exercises in pure negation, it absorbs and carries over the categories and hierarchies in the formation it opposes. It just reverses the moral valency.

      So all the assumptions of traditional racism are to some extent baked in and implicit. “White fragility”? This is just a variant on the old 18th- and 19th-century assumption that black bodies were more “resilient” than white ones and therefore more fitted for manual labour (ie slavery). In other words, it has assumptions about what whiteness is, exactly—“sensitive” and fragile as opposed to “resilient”—that it inherits from the racism it affects to oppose.

      Same thing with the classist castigation of “deplorables.” This resembles the old language of “degeneration” common in racist and eugenicist circles up until WWII so closely I’m surprised no one ever seems to comment on it. There’s also a weird crossover from East Coast WASP nativism about it. Go back a few decades and see how “problematic” (ie non-Anglo) white populations in the Midwest were being discussed. The resemblance with the way elite coastal “anti-racists” talk about Trump voters is quite uncanny. Whiteness within racist discourse was always a hierarchy, never an egalitarian mass, with certain parts of the “white tribe” (Poles, Russians, Irish, Southern Europeans in general) regarded with suspicion and the communities and neighbourhoods they congregated in treated with suspicion and contempt. Whiteness within “anti-racist” discourse is the same. The coastal WASP elite gets to define wokeness and whiteness and everyone else is fair game for “critique” (ie dehumanisation) because they’re implicitly lower in the hierarchy. And oddly enough it’s often those same communities (poor Midwestern whites) that were mocked and identified as “degenerate” and inferior in the 1910s and 1920s that are attacked now.

      The problem with elite white “anti-racists” is that they’re so lacking in historical awareness that they simply don’t realise how much of their “critique” is, uh, familiar.

  23. Lee

    At the pop culture level, this has been a root trope at least since the Honeymooners and it’s reimagined liberal cousin, All in the Family. Oh, but those weren’t generic whites, they were blue collar whites, and from the less prestigious part of that. they’ve always been fair game.

    For an earlier version see the 1936 film The Trail of Lonesome Pine.

  24. noonespecial

    How Silicon Valley Has Disrupted Philanthropy
    – Based on work experience with the no-profit work in Cali, the required data collection to feed outcome-focussed funders usually means that a funded group’s budget is sure to dedicate at least 10% of grant money to at the very least: identify progress re (mostly) pre-selected indicators and pay the person who complies the report (in-house, our outsourced). Fine if it is a well-heeled family resource center; however, I know of grants from the CA Prop 10 Tobacco Tax that were handed out to parent groups and they too had to be “oriented” as to the importance of data collection. For parent-led groups receiving $1,500 to increase home-based child care educational programming, the granular detail and time consumed seemed as a deterrent to some. Oh well, what you don’t measure you can’t (___?___).

  25. JerryDenim

    “Whaddaya know. The Executive Branch has a lot of power. I wish somebody had told Obama.”

    My feelings exactly Lambert. One of the most fun things about the Trump administration is he has exposed Obama’s “I want to help you guys like I promised, but, but, but- I can’t! My hands are tied” lie that he told over and over for eight years.

    I wonder if a 13 billion dollar fund to assist underwater homeowners who were victims of appraisal fraud in 2008 would have taken a little bit of the sting out of the Wall Street bailout?

    Nice to see a Republican executive make heads explode by actually using the government to deliver a tangible material benefit for regular citizens. Who knew? The government can make your life better?!?

    1. Freethinker

      I’ve been likewise opportunistic about mentioning such evidence to Obamaphiles in relation to Trump’s significantly-impactful Exec Orders, particularly those that have drastically eroded democratic processes, barriers to discrimination, and dignity among federal workers. The pause-to-reflect expressions on faces, before and after defensive reactions, have been interesting, even hopeful, to witness.

  26. Maury

    Lambert says:
    I’ve always thought “white fragility” was a little tendentious, not to say performative. After all, if their fragility was all that great, how do “wypipo,” so-called, simultaneously hold on to their imputed vast powers?

    It’s not tendentious in the list. If anything, “white fragility” is an understatement. How do they keep hold of what they grasp after? Through gang violence, bending the rules, reneging on agreements, and rewriting history.

    Some examples;
    – Treaties with natives ripped up on a whim
    – Renege on 40 acres and a mule
    – Perpetual yawns and non action in the face of state and vigilante violence against the blacks
    – Collective freak out whenever reparations to the only citizens to involuntarily immigrate to US
    – Continuously claiming “It’s about class” to avoid dealing with pernicious issues of racism in this society
    – Reflexive hugging of Uncle Tom negroes like Adolph Reed who have nothing to contribute besides assuaging white guilt

    1. JBird

      Some examples;
      – Treaties with natives ripped up on a whim
      – Renege on 40 acres and a mule
      – Perpetual yawns and non action in the face of state and vigilante violence against the blacks
      – Collective freak out whenever reparations to the only citizens to involuntarily immigrate to US
      – Continuously claiming “It’s about class” to avoid dealing with pernicious issues of racism in this society
      – Reflexive hugging of Uncle Tom negroes like Adolph Reed who have nothing to contribute besides assuaging white guilt

      I was gonna go down this list and do some explaining on the nonsense of using generally accurate but irrelevant historical facts to support tendentious propagandistic arguments about how the majority of the unemployed, or homeless, or living in poverty, quite l often extreme, or disenfranchised, or over ⅓ of the imprisoned are somehow all fucking powerful white whining babies.

      If you want to talk about the large element, Heck the very large subterranean sea of racism, the near genocide of Native Americans, the government’s complete feckless and criminal breaking of almost all treaties and agreements during the Indian Wars, slavery, Jim Crow, or of the effective re-enslavement of blacks using the prison system starting in the Jim Crow South, I am right there.

      No denying the shame of much of our past and present and it just as true that Blacks, Hispanics, and Indians (who btw have the highest poverty, police homicides, suicides, alcoholism, and rapes often by non-Indians, rates in America).

      Why should any of that mean anything to those who have nothing. I have often walked and driven by encampments and small groups of homeless whites. There are thousands of them in the Bay Area. There are tens of thousands of homeless encampments of all types of people of all races, education, and experience. I would guess that most Bay Areans spend more than ⅓ of there wages on housing. I spend more than that. The one thing we all share is the struggle to just survive. And I understand the situation is worse in Southern California. The richest State in the richest country in history and all the state and municipal governments can do is nothing. The monied class especially those Silicon Valley “entrepreneurs” with their fancy new wonder tech don’t care to do anything. It takes effort not to see just how important class is in America.

      White advantage my big rear. Just keep on harping on white privilege because the ruling elites, including the Black Misleadership Class, will be happy for the help in dividing and conquering.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      Of course there are three centuries of a whole country full of BS in the attitudes of American white people. But while I haven’t seen the book, based on a few descriptions I see the author making a different point – what in the old days we would call a social fact, one that has nothing to do with deservingness or appropriateness or even performativity but simply a what is. What the author seems to be claiming is that many white people and communities of white people – despite their relatively advantaged social position – nonetheless react poorly when confronted with radicalized situations. And this leads them to construct their lives in such a way that they have even less (multi)racial interaction. Which is a bad thing.

      The reason I make this distinction is that the argument that white people should simply suck it up – and thus there is no need to think about “engineering” society in an effort to try to achieve a different outcome – ignores the point the author is making, which is that they don’t have to suck it up, and won’t, because they can simply escape into their whiteness. And my guess is, to the extent this behavior has “costs,” they are not borne by the white people but the others.

    1. The Rev Kev

      So what this article suggest is that we are not living so much under capitalism as much as CATipalism.

    2. AbateMagicThinking but Not Money

      Anonymized & this explains a lot:

      Some decades ago I read that exuberant French driving habits* are suspected to be due to the parasite involved. The French like their steak rare (see antidote below) and If I order it in France, to obtain my prefered medium-to-well I compensate by asking for bien-bien cuite (well-well cooked), knowing that the chef could not stand to cook it how I ordered.

      Rambling on, that reminds me of yours truly standing in a kitchen in Thailand and urging the cook to apply enough heat to a slice of sugary bread to transform it into the toast I had ordered from the farang breakfast menu. More, more; More!


      * In France it seem to be common to speed through red lights. ‘Bruler un feu’ is common parlance – translated (unsympathetically) word for word it means ‘to burn a fire’.

      Antidote: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6QqSxmpRMM

  27. JJ139

    “Think. Eat. Rock”

    Not done that since I used to go to Blackpool for the day as a child. From my mid teens on, not so much.

  28. Roland Chrisjohn

    I’m very happy for the link to “Calibrating scientific skepticism…” For one reason or another the Indian Residential School issue has come up here several times in the past months. Now the very contemporary, materially-based horrors of Native life in Canada are being explained away as “intergenerational trauma” in another blame-the-victim tactic. Some of this healthy skepticism would be good to spread around in what passes as “Native scholarship.”

  29. Victoria Else

    “Farmers prefer Trump do trade deals than hand them cash”

    Farmers need long lead times to plan their investment in seeds, drainage, and so on for the year. (Mother Nature doesn’t work on a fiscal year schedule.) So playing around with the general idea of support won’t be very helpful. Should they plant? how much? who will they sell their products to, and at what price? They literally ride around in those huge computerized machines connected to the Internet making ongoing changes to their commodity contracts.

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