2:00PM Water Cooler 7/27/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Fool’s gold: Economists worry that Trump’s trade war sped up U.S. exports in the second quarter as China and other U.S. trading partners rushed to snap up American soybeans and other products ahead of the tariffs, meaning much of the growth could likely be reversed in the coming months” [Politico].



“Trump reportedly fears potential 2020 candidate Joe Biden most of all” [AOL]. No.


“Dems reverse course on White House parks plan” [The Hill]. “Three House Democrats joined Republicans Wednesday to introduce a bill, dubbed the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act, that endorses using the income from oil and gas drilling on public lands to fund construction projects for the National Park Service (NPS), Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Education. In total 25 Democrats and 25 Republicans signed onto the bill.” • So it’s bipartisan!

More policy idiocy:

But not to worry. I’m sure, like every other Democrat policy initiative, this will drop from sight shortly. Show of hands: Who remembers Schumer’s “Better Deal”?

“The Bottom Line in Republicans’ 42 Open Seats” [David Wasserman, Cook Political Report]. “Of Republicans’ 42 incumbent-less seats, eight are in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and an additional 13 are in districts where President Trump received less than 55 percent. History is working against the GOP in many of those seats: we found that since 1992, in situations when a president’s party was stuck defending an open seat two years after the president failed to carry it, that party has batted zero for 23 keeping it in their column…. The most immediate open seat test is the August 7 special election in Ohio’s 12th CD, north of Columbus… It’s in the Toss Up column, and if Democrat Danny O’Connor defeats Republican Troy Balderson in a seat Trump carried by 11 points in 2016 (R+7 PVI), it would be another piece of evidence that Democrats are pushing the House battleground deeper into Trump territory.” • Here’s Cook Political Report’s horserace chart. I think, in my copious free time, I’ll add this to me database, so we can compare the prognosticators. (As I’ve said, I use Inside Elections exactly because they’re more conservative, as an antidote to liberal Democrat triumphalism.

“Trump intervenes to save the House” [Politico]. “The president has signed off on plans for his reelection campaign to funnel contributions to 100 Republican candidates running in House and Senate races, the campaign said Thursday. The precise amount is unclear, but Trump is expected to send thousands of dollars to each contender….. Additionally, as part of the financial decision, the Republican National Committee, which Trump has been aggressively raising money for, will transfer $4 million apiece to the National Republican Congressional Committee and National Republican Senatorial Committee.” • The Air War has barely begun.

“Citing Trump, some Republican women to vote Democratic in Ohio election” [Reuters]. “In interviews with a dozen women, mostly Republicans, in the Midwestern state’s 12th Congressional District, several said they would buck their voting habits to support the Democratic candidate on Aug. 7, citing Trump as a major factor. Others said they disapproved of the president’s behavior but had yet to make up their minds about the congressional contest. Strategists say winning over white, educated, suburban women in dozens of Republican-leaning districts will be key to Democrats’ efforts to retake the U.S. House of Representatives in Nov. 6 congressional elections.” • That has been the liberal Democrat strategy since at least July 2016 (and see Puerto Rico, below, for what is not the Democrat strategy.)

“Can Republicans Bridge the Gender Gap?” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “However, GOP strategist Liesl Hickey says Republican incumbents, especially those in suburban districts, should not give up on women voters. Hickey, the former executive director of the NRCC knows a lot about running and winning in suburban districts. I first met Liesl in 2000, when she was working on Mark Kirk’s first campaign for the suburban Chicago’s 10th CD. Liesl helped him get re-elected in 2006; a particularly awful year for House GOP members. She now advises and produces advertising for GOP candidates in suburban districts across the country. This June, she conducted dozens of one-on-one interviews with independent and Republican-leaning women voters in suburban battleground counties. What she found was that ‘they can dislike Trump, but still vote for a Republican member of Congress.’ These women, says Hickey, are ‘open and willing to hear an argument’ from GOP candidates…. very few of these Republican-leaning and independent women believe that their dislike of Trump means that they can’t trust Republicans to be in charge in Washington…. What’s also helping suburban GOP candidates with independent and Republican-leaning women, notes Hickey, is the fact that these women are worried that a Democratic-controlled Congress will be too far out of the mainstream and will ‘go too far.'” • Sure, Hickey’s talking her book. And separating a candidate from a President is a standard tactic across the board. But I wonder if this is what Republican messaging will be? And speaking of “going too far”–

“Ocasio-Cortez, the GOP’s Midterm Boogeyman?” [RealClearPolitics]. “While the New York congressional candidate is an anomaly when it comes Democratic Socialists of America winning federal-level primaries thus far, energy within her party is mounting around policy ideas the movement espouses, including the abolishment of Immigration and Customs Enforcements, Medicare for All, a $15 an hour federal minimum wage, and tax increases for wealthy Americans. Republicans argue that the rise of Ocasio-Cortez and the way in which she is already campaigning for candidates nationwide — and causing some friction with establishment Democrats — provides opportunities for them to spotlight contrasts in congressional races and gin up their base against the prospect of a Democratic Congress. ‘She has a money operation and an earned-media operation. … We plan on using it as a wedge between her and other Democrats,’ says Matt Gorman, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. ‘She sows a lot of dissent in the Democratic Party, and her dipping her toe in some of these primaries could also help us.'” • So I imagine we will see liberal Democrats trying to pick up suburban Republican votes by trashing AOC as well. And more on going too far–

“Calls for open borders wind up closing doors for Democrats” [Douglas Schoen* , The Hill]. “In an interview just last week, Ellison suggested that because corporations ‘can go back and forth across the border seeking out the lowest wages,’ regular people should be able to ‘go back and forth across the border seeking out the highest wages.'” • Oof. Yes, I’ve always wanted to travel to Mexico looking for a good job at a good wage. More: “Indeed, these extreme statements not only convey a deeply troubling sentiment, but moreover, are strategically bad for Democrats. Rep. Tom Suozzi, a centrist Democrat representing New York’s 3rd district, was right when he recently lambasted the extremist immigration rhetoric coming from his own party. ‘Open borders is not a winning policy,’ Suozzi said. ‘I’m a strong supporter, as are most Democrats, of strong border security.'” • What a mess. I wonder what suburban Republican women think? NOTE * Bill Clinton pollster, FOX contributor.

GA Governor: “Stacey Abrams Could Become America’s First Black Female Governor—If She Can Turn Georgia Blue” [Time]. “On a Friday afternoon in May, the Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia is at a union hall in Augusta, telling a story about her father, a college-educated black man who was relegated by his race* to working at a shipyard in southern Mississippi in the 1970s. The family had one car, so Robert Abrams would sometimes hitchhike home in the middle of the night. When he didn’t come home one time, the rest of the family set out to pick him up and found him half-frozen by the side of the road, having given his coat to a homeless man. They asked why he, a poor man on a lonely road at night, would do such a thing. And Robert said, ‘Because I knew you were coming for me.’ You can hear scattered sniffles in the union hall as his daughter pauses. Then she roars: ‘I am coming for you, Georgia! Help me get there!'” • Holy moly. NOTE * Note lack of agency in “was relegated,” as well as the erasure of class in “by his race.” Come on.


Sadly, McBath is a “public option” supporter who also wants to lower Medicare eligibilty to age 55. Fine, but why not 54? Or 50? Or… 0?

New Cold War

“Fake Views? Page FISA Warrant Shows We’re Doomed” [RealClearPolitics]. • A good round-up, well worth a read. Even if it is the most high-level “he said/she said” you can imagine, and there’s no conclusion!

The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds

And hijacked Occupy’s branding, to boot:

Puerto Rico

“Senate Democrats Call for Cancellation of Puerto Rico’s $70 Billion in Debt” [GritPost]. “Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced the US Territorial Relief Act of 2018, joined by Senators Kamala Harris (D-California) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York).”

“The Daily 202: Puerto Ricans who fled to Florida after Hurricane Maria are not registering to vote” [WaPo]. “Because they’re already U.S. citizens, Puerto Ricans are eligible to vote as soon as they move to the mainland…. [M]ost of the Puerto Ricans who have come to Florida are not registering to vote or otherwise getting involved in politics. At least for now… There’s no denying that successful voter registration drives could mean the difference between winning and losing.” • Are these potential voters suburban Republicans, especially women? No? And speaking of voter registration–

As I keep asking: Sure, the Democrats would win 2018, even 2020. Can these Democrats? They are actively avoiding expanding their base, and instead are seeking existing Republican voters, mostly suburban, mostly women.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE Yes, the Acela Corridor really does exist:

“Whom Is the DSA Reaching? The Teens.” [The Nation]. “A large part of the DSA’s surge in membership can be attributed to young people—70 to 80 percent of the 24,000 who have joined DSA since November 2016 are under 35. According to Michelle Fisher, co-chair of DSA’s youth wing, Young Democratic Socialists of America, some of this new membership is still in high school: There are four official chartered chapters of the YDSA in high schools across America. Since Ocasio-Cortez’s win, Fisher says, members from 21 different high schools have expressed interest in organizing chapters at their schools. The 2016 presidential election was many high-school socialists’ political turning point; it certainly was the case for 17-year-old Josh Kuh, a junior at Garfield High School in Seattle who discovered DSA in late October 2016.” • Thank you, Bernie. More–

UPDATE “Socialist group moves closer to Nixon endorsement” [Politico]. “Cynthia Nixon inched closer to gaining the endorsement of the New York City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America after a third local branch recommended backing her insurgent campaign for governor. The Central Brooklyn branch approved the recommendation during a Wednesday night meeting, according to Danya Lagos, an official with the organization. Branches in South Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan already have recommended endorsing the “Sex and the City” actor’s Democratic primary bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But there still is simmering dissent. The chapter covering Upper Manhattan and the Bronx voted against recommending an endorsement at its Wednesday night meeting.” • I’ve gotta say, it’s extremely weird seeing DSA show up in horserace coverage. These are strange times….

Stats Watch

GDP, Q2 2018 (Advance): “[C]onsumer spending drove GDP significantly higher in the second quarter, to a 4.1 percent annualized rate” [Econoday]. After consumer spending came goods, then exports. “Overheating would appear to be a danger for the economy right now, consistent with the array of regional and private economic data where delivery delays, input costs and even price pass through are at or near record highs. Today’s report includes benchmark revisions including a 2 tenths upgrade to first-quarter GDP which now stands 2.2 percent. Also of note, the savings rate for 2017 is revised much higher to 6.7 percent from 3.4 percent.” And: “The consumer spending significantly improved. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate acceleration from last quarter” [Econintersect]. And: “US economy surges to 4.1 percent growth rate in Q2” [Associated Press]. “That’s the fastest pace since 2014, driven by consumers who began spending their tax cuts and exporters who rushed to get their products delivered ahead of retaliatory tariffs.” And: “U.S. Growth Hits 4.1%, Fastest Since 2014, in Win for Trump” [Bloomberg]. “Illustrating the volatility of some elements of GDP, net exports contributed 1.06 percentage point to the pace of growth, the most since 2013, partly on a surge in soybean shipments ahead of retaliatory tariffs. Inventories subtracted 1 point, the most since 2014, Commerce said, citing soybean stocks as well as those of drugs and sundries and petroleum and related products…. [But one] measure that economists look at for a better sense of underlying demand showed strength. Final sales to private domestic purchasers — which exclude trade, inventories and government outlays — grew at a 4.3 percent pace, the second- fastest since 2014.” And: “Fact checking Trump’s victory lap after the second-quarter GDP report” [MarketWatch]. “Trump: “Each point, by the way, means $3 trillion and 10 million jobs. Think of that. Each point. You go up one point, it doesn’t sound like much. It’s a lot.” POSSIBLY. This must be a projection over 10 years — a typical window used to budget forecasts.” • This last is fascinating, because as the much-maligned Maggie Habberman has pointed out, Trump doesn’t always lie.

Consumer Sentiment, July 2018 (Final): Down from June, but up from the mid-month flash [Econoday]. “This is good report pointing to a healthy consumer who, unlike Federal Reserve policy makers perhaps, is not concerned about inflation.”

Durable Goods: “The tax cuts helped the economy though they were relatively small and largely low multiple, but tariffs are tax increases and work to reduce real consumption if income doesn’t also adjust. Also, there could have been some front running ahead of the dates the tariffs go into effect. This adds volatility to the data” [Mosler Economics].

Advertising; “The death of Don Draper” [New Statesman]. “Rory Sutherland [vice-chairman of Ogilvy & Mather] argues that efficiency is overrated, and that excess and superfluity are weapons that marketers surrender at their peril. ;Knowing that the seller has faith in their product is a hugely valuable piece of information,’ he says. ‘In luxury goods, for instance, the ad says almost nothing; the cost of the ad almost everything.’ Biologists regard the peacock’s tail as an expensive and so unfakeable signal of fitness – a sexual status symbol. Similarly, an ad can emit a powerful signal about a brand, regardless of information content. Online ads are cheap and easy to make, but the problem is, they look it. ‘You don’t invite people to your wedding by email,’ says Sutherland.”

Capital Investment: “Orders for US Capital Equipment Rise for Third Straight Month” [Industry Week]. “Orders placed with U.S. factories for business equipment increased in June for a third straight month, a sign of investment momentum heading into the second half despite corporate concerns over tariffs…. The gain in business-equipment orders included increases in computers and electronic products, along with electrical equipment, appliances and components. Machinery and fabricated-metal products also showed smaller pickups, while orders for primary metals declined for a second month. The latest data signal business investment remains firm even as President Donald Trump widens a global trade war beyond steel and aluminum and into a growing range of products from China, as well as potential levies on autos.”

Commodities: “Russia Ditches U.S. Dollar For Gold As Tensions Rise” [Safe Haven]. “Russia‘s U.S. dollar reserves have shrunk from $96.1 billion in March to just $14.9 billion in May, according to the Russian Central Bank. Its governor, Elvira Nabiullina, says the decision will help protect the Russian economy and diversify the bank’s reserves…. Both political and economic reasons prompted the Russian central bank‘s decision. First, mindful of geopolitical tensions, the regulator has apprehensions that Russia-owned treasuries can be frozen. [Second,] In periods of global financial or political crises, gold is much more useful than securities or cash, although gold is also prone to price fluctuations.”

Shipping: “Weekly van, reefer barometers pull back as seasonality strikes market” [Freight Waves]. “After setting one record high after another in the early weeks of 2018, the weekly DAT Dry Van and Reefer Barometers have pulled back (as small trucking companies began to learn how to use ELDs and added capacity back into the marketplace and as demand seasonally softened in July), but is still in a strong growth range.” • I hate it when reefer does that.

Shipping: “Cosco resorts to Yahoo and social media to stay in touch with clients in the Americas” [Splash 247]. “Cosco’s staff across the Americas have resorted to using Yahoo email addresses and social media to keep in touch with clients as the Chinese carrier grapples to get operations on track following a ransomware attack on Tuesday morning. Though banned in China, sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become vital client communication tools for Cosco’s American staff in recent days. The cyber attack is believed to have started at a customer service centre in Long Beach and spread across Cosco’s US network and then the entire Americas region.”

Transportation: “New battery systems must include vital changes” [Automotive IQ]. “As batteries for automobiles get lighter and stronger, they become not only more powerful but also more dangerous. The search for battery materials that mix power and longevity must also be a search for safety, such as less flammability and explosive power… As batteries for automobiles get lighter and stronger, they become not only more powerful but also more dangerous. The search for battery materials that mix power and longevity must also be a search for safety, such as less flammability and explosive power…. The great challenge in battery-operated self-driving vehicles (SDV) is the constant use of the vehicle by many riders, since it is generally accepted that the next few years will see testing in the transport of many people back and forth over a specific route. (2) These routes will include many stops and starts, and acceleration that will demand fast voltage changes and varied load demands on the battery…. For now, autonomous passenger busses will most likely be sent on routes that allow charging back at a central station, much like bus fleets today. The era of an Uber arriving to take us to the airport, then heading off to another call for a ride, is still a long way off. When it happens, one of the reasons will be that battery safety has risen to match the battery power that will be required.” • Well worth a read for EV and robot car mavens.

Transportation: “Ten years left to redesign lithium-ion batteries” [Nature]. “If nothing changes, demand [for the metals used in electrodes] will outstrip production within 20 years. We expect this to occur for cobalt by 2030 and for nickel by 2037 or sooner…. Several technological breakthroughs are needed to secure the future of affordable battery-powered transport….. Government agencies and leading car manufacturers should fund this research, which will require billion-dollar investments…. Lithium-ion battery manufacturers have already invested billions of dollars in dozens of ‘giga-factories’ to boost the electric-vehicle market. With co-ordination, thought and planning, these can be set on a new path to deliver the next generation of affordable batteries.” • As usual, the hard problems aren’t technical.

The Bezzle: “Pennsylvania Sues Alleged Mortgage Scammers” [Governing]. “The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office sued five mortgage foreclosure companies and their owners on Wednesday, alleging the firms scammed vulnerable homeowners into paying $280,000 for services they never received. The civil lawsuit claims companies owned by Mark Goldstein and Drew Alia tricked consumers into paying sometimes thousands of dollars for mortgage modifications or home loan audits they didn’t produce. The companies instructed homeowners not to contact their mortgage lenders or make any payments, and in some cases victims lost their homes or filed for bankruptcy, according to the complaint.” • The cancer still silently metastasizes. Thanks, Obama!

The Bezzle: “New York Could Become First Major U.S. City to Cap Uber and Similar Vehicles” [New York Times]. “New York City officials are moving to cap the number of vehicles driving for Uber and other ride-hailing services as part of an aggressive move to address mounting concerns that their explosive growth has led to worsening congestion and low driver wages.” • So how many cabbies had to commit suicide for this to happen?

The Bezzle: “A new study says services like UberPool are making traffic worse” [Los Angeles Times]. “The explosive growth of Uber and Lyft has created a new traffic problem for major U.S. cities and ride-sharing options such as UberPool and Lyft Line are exacerbating the issue by appealing directly to customers who would otherwise have taken transit, walked, biked or not used a ride-hailing service at all, according to a new study. The report by Bruce Schaller, author of the influential study “Unsustainable?” which found ride-hailing services were making traffic congestion in New York City worse, constructs a detailed profile of the typical ride-hail user and issues a stark warning to cities: Make efforts to counter the growth of ride-hailing services, or surrender city streets to fleets of private cars, creating a more hostile environment for pedestrians and cyclists and ultimately make urban cores less desirable places to live.”

The Bezzle: “IBM pitched its Watson supercomputer as a revolution in cancer care. It’s nowhere close” [STAT]. (This is from 2017, so the issue has been alive for some time.) “But three years after IBM began selling Watson to recommend the best cancer treatments to doctors around the world, a STAT investigation has found that the supercomputer isn’t living up to the lofty expectations IBM created for it. It is still struggling with the basic step of learning about different forms of cancer. Only a few dozen hospitals have adopted the system, which is a long way from IBM’s goal of establishing dominance in a multibillion-dollar market. And at foreign hospitals, physicians complained its advice is biased toward American patients and methods of care. STAT examined Watson for Oncology’s use, marketing, and performance in hospitals across the world, from South Korea to Slovakia to South Florida. Reporters interviewed dozens of doctors, IBM executives, artificial intelligence experts, and others familiar with the system’s underlying technology and rollout. The interviews suggest that IBM, in its rush to bolster flagging revenue, unleashed a product without fully assessing the challenges of deploying it in hospitals globally.” • So is IBM’s Watson AI bullshit, or is AI bullshit? Particularly important to know for the coming age of robot cars….

The Bezzle: “Hedge funds pay a steep price for Facebook love affair” [Finance News]. “If you think Mark Zuckerberg is the most miserable man on earth today, the hedge funds who have been bullish on Facebook as it blasted its way to records are not far behind…. it is not just hedge funds that are suffering. Facebook was also a favorite with exchange-traded funds and can be found as an underlying asset in many large ETFs along with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Alphabet, JPMorgan data from Blue Edge Capital shows.”

Private Equity: “Spiders, sewage and a flurry of fees – the other side of renting a house from Wall Street” [Reuters]. “First, [McKayla Ferreira] noticed water leaking through the bathroom and kitchen ceilings. Then she found a furry black mold spreading across the walls and raw sewage sluicing through the crawl space. Worst, to her, were the black widow spiders swarming her kitchen cupboards and linen closets. ‘Those spiders were so big you could hear them,’ Ferreira said. ‘They sounded like fingernails scraping a table.’ Ferreira called her landlord, Invitation Homes Inc, a creation of private equity giant Blackstone Group LP. The spiders were a ‘housekeeping issue,’ the company representative told her, and she should ‘clean the place up.’ Invitation Homes wasn’t enthusiastic about fixing the leaks, either. Two months passed before it sent someone to cut through the ceiling and fix the pipes, Ferreira said. Then the company took seven more months to patch it all up.” • Very had to see what private equity brings to the table other than the ability to screw tenants harder.

Honey for the Bears: “The U.S. Housing Market Looks Headed for Its Worst Slowdown in Years” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. housing market — particularly in cutthroat areas like Seattle, Silicon Valley and Austin, Texas — appears to be headed for the broadest slowdown in years. Buyers are getting squeezed by rising mortgage rates and by prices climbing about twice as fast as incomes, and there’s only so far they can stretch. ‘This could be the very beginning of a turning point,’ said Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist who is famed for warning of the dot-com and housing bubbles, in an interview. He stressed that he isn’t ready to make that call yet.”

The Fed: “Former Banker: The Fed is NOT Run By Private Shareholders” [YouTube]. The “former banker” being Warren Mosler:

The YouTube following, on Roman coins in Pompeii, is also interesting.

Our Famously Free Press

“Financing Dies in Darkness? The Impact of Newspaper Closures on Public Finance” (PDF) [Pengjie Gao, Chang Lee, Dermot Murphy, Brookings Institute]. From the abstract:

Local newspapers hold their governments accountable. We examine the effect of local newspaper closures on public finance for local governments. Following a newspaper closure, we find municipal borrowing costs increase by 5 to 11 basis points in the long run. Identification tests illustrate that these results are not being driven by deteriorating local economic conditions. The loss of monitoring that results from newspaper closures is associated with increased government inefficiencies, including higher likelihoods of costly advance refundings and negotiated issues, and higher government wages, employees, and tax revenues.

So now we know why private equity is buying up local newspapers and destroying them!

Health Care

“Top Trump Official Dims Hopes for Single-Payer Health Care” [Governing]. “Speaking Wednesday at the Commonwealth Club here, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said she supports granting states flexibility on health care but indicated she would not give California the leeway it would need to spend federal money on a single-payer system. ‘I think a lot of the analysis has shown it’s unaffordable,’ Verma said during a question-and-answer session following her speech. “It doesn’t make sense for us to waste time on something that’s not going to work.’ During her speech, Verma issued a broader warning to advocates pushing for a Medicare-for-all program nationally. She said that ‘socialized’ approach to medicine would endanger the program and the health care it provides for millions of older Americans. ‘We don’t want to divert the purpose and focus away from our seniors,’ Verma said in the address before more than 200 people. ‘In essence, Medicare for all would become Medicare for none.'” • Of course, liberal Democrats like Andy Slavitt are saying the same things in nicer words. However, I don’t think #MedicareForAll makes sense at the state level anyhow. California — at least so far — is not a currency issuer, so funding would be gleefully slashed as an austerity measure during the first downturn. And that would be that.

Class Warfare

“The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 3” [Law and Political Economy]. “Technology (practical knowledge embedded in material culture; I’ll come back to this later) creates affordances and impose constraints on what we can do practically, such that some ways of doing things are harder, and others easier. These affordances and constraints can affect patterns of production, participation, and reproduction in the main, while leaving substantial room for sustained divergence based on interaction with the institutional ecology of the society that develops and adopts the technology. Bartholomew Watson’s fascinating Barcode Empires underscores the extent to which introducing barcodes and optical readers gave large scale retailers sufficiently large advantages over smaller-scale grocers that retail chains grew dramatically across a wide range of diverse market societies.” • For “affordance,” see discussion here.

“Drones Are Taking Oil Jobs” [Safe Haven]. “The drones are coming to oil and gas and they may soon be intelligent enough to replace humans in on-site inspections. That’s what the latest experiments carried out by drone makers in the oil field suggest, with the drone makers boasting much shorter inspection times and comparable inspection accuracy… Another company, aerial intelligence supplier Measure, recently gauged the accuracy of drone inspections on a solar power facility compared to the accuracy of human inspections. The result was a near tie at 99 percent accuracy for both humans and UAVs. There was one big difference, however. The human inspection took two days. The drone inspection took just two hours… Drone use is on the rise in pipeline inspections as well.”

Guillotine Watch

“The Cosmic Radiation Forecast Could Be Bad for a Human Mars Mission” [Bloomberg]. • Dang. And I was so hoping Elon Musk and his friends could escape, hopefully into some sort of Lord of the Flies situation.

News of The Wired

“I’m a librarian. The last thing we need is Silicon Valley ‘disruption'” [Vox]. “As someone who has worked in libraries for seven years, the suggestion that Amazon could be a better provider than a library is unfathomable. Amazon charges people who want access to art and entertainment. By offering anybody free access to a massive collection of books, music, and movies, libraries fundamentally advance the idea that culture is a public good that everybody has a right to enjoy, regardless of their income. For anyone who believes in the power of art to change and enhance our lives, the idea that it should only be available to people who can pay for it is horrifying.” • It’s amazing the political clout that public libraries have. But read the whole article for the public library’s complete missions. (Makes me wonder if charging for library access might catch on as a way to keep out the riff-raff. Or Uber for Books.

* * *

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 (SC):

SC writes: “Some amusement on the chamoe front. The plant has been in the ground 17 days and is already producing fruits; the recent heat may be helping. They are about 1/4″ wide at the moment, smaller than kidney beans. I think they will mature in less than 3 weeks. This one plant will produce more than my Korean friend can eat, and I have several others waiting for their planting spaces to be double dug! The local food panty will have exotic fresh fruits this Summer.”

And here is a chamoe:

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!

To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.


If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. JohnnyGL


    Very interesting interview, especially the first part where they discuss Russia-gate, Magnitsky Act, Bill Browder (hedge fund tax fraudster who jacked Russia for $230M) and the recent Putin interview on Fox.

    The explanation about the Trump Tower meeting with Veselnitskaya is covered.

    1. Wyoming

      Here is another AZ fun one I saw on the news the other night here in AZ.

      A state republican legislator has been stopped for speeding 6 times and uses some obscure law that says that legislators traveling to and from the sessions cannot be ticketed due to immunity He was going 97 last time and openly told the cop (via body cam) that he sometimes goes as fast as 140mph.

      I’m sure he is a standard AZ law and order type……


  2. Summer

    “I hate the overused centrist jokes as much as anyone but the democrats literally proposed “make exactly half of college free” https://t.co/K5ztinGpsr

    — frank furtschoo

    Always appealing to the lowest common denominator sucker.
    The old trick (half off!) …after a 100% markup.

    Next Democratic Party plan might be buy one diploma get one free. Or buy one diploma get the other at half-off…

    Financial hucksterism as public policy.

    1. Synoia

      Yes , they proposed making the left half on the loan free. The part after the decimal point.

      1. 4corners

        Ha. Love decimal jokes. I had a physics professor that filled up his shopping cart with an item just to make a point about a sign that mistakenly advertised “Now only .50 cents!”

  3. flora

    re: “Calls for open borders wind up closing doors for Democrats” [Douglas Schoen* , The Hill]. “In an interview just last week, Ellison suggested that because corporations ‘can go back and forth across the border seeking out the lowest wages,’ regular people should be able to ‘go back and forth across the border seeking out the highest wages.’” •

    Hint to Ellison: A. France was on to something here.

    “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal their bread.”

    ― Anatole France

    1. djrichard

      Is Ellison taking his cues from the anti-Brexiters (i.e. remainers) in Britain? Not only are they anti-anti-immigrant, but they’re also open borders (a la Schengen). So therefore the same must apply to the US? Hard to understand where he’s getting his kool-aid from.

      Anyways, I always thought the US corporations would love this type of solution. “Let’s export our surplus labor to Mexico. Even better, let’s export them to China!”

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The obvious answer is to stop businesses from crossing borders to seek the lowest wage. The border should be closed to human crossing and bussiness crossing and capital crossing.

      Once the border is firmly locked and welded shut, then we may discuss very careful permission of this and that to pass across the border under great scrutiny and control.

  4. Brindle

    Kind of a mobius strip—Dems go after the historically GOP voting suburban soccer mom—they lose but the big donors love the focus on suburban soccer mom so the money still flows with defeat in hand. Rinse and repeat.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think of the Mobius Strip as a place where there is only one side.

      There is no ‘my side is here, and your side is the other side.’

      Just one side.

      1. djrichard

        Well that one side does tolerate a lot of the disenfranchised, even though they run amok claiming to #occupy that side.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        There was once an interesting Scientific American article about Mobius Strips as an example of Twisted Prisms . . . and about Twisted Prisms in general.

        In the technical-literal sense, a Mobius Strip has two sides. The wide flat face is one side, and the thin edge is the other side.

        What’s big, white and has only one side? Moby Strip.

    2. Big River Bandido

      The donors will hedge their bets, always, and support each of the corporate candidates with gusto. For them, politicians are cheap dates. As long as the donors give enough and spread the wealth around, they know that the “leadership” of both Republicans and Democrats will support them, regardless of anything else that gets said.

  5. Carolinian

    They even celebrated the FBI’s birthday.

    Well it was Dem Woody Wilson who started the FBI as well as making actual war against Russia. The Dems are just coming home.

    And will Stacey Abrams turn Georgia blue? Uh, no. Even when Georgia had Dem governors like Zell Miller or Jimmy Carter in his neoliberal phase they were practically Republicans. Politically the rest of Georgia is not at all like Atlanta and Atlanta isn’t that liberal either.

    Happy to be wrong…..

    1. Big River Bandido

      The agency which became the FBI was founded in 1908, in the last year of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency.

      1. Carolinian

        Sloppy me…thanks for the correction. However I believe Wilson did give us Hoover.

        1. Adam Eran

          …and Wilson gave us U.S. participation in World War I, prohibition, and some Red scares too…not to mention his racism.

        2. polecat

          and the privately detatched ‘Federal Reserve’, making you dollars worth fractionally LESS year after year after year !!, the simultaneous creation of the Infinitely•Retched•Scumfunnels, and a yuuuuge p.r. platform for ole Eddie Bernays and Co. to tinker with, much to everyone’s demise, due, ever since, to his cynical version of planned obsolescence through subliminal controls, and ….

          1. Procopius

            I hate to tell you this, but before we had the Federal Reserve we had the Gold Standard, which was what created the need for the Federal Reserve by creating regular depressions and financial “panics.”

  6. Synoia

    The Cosmic Radiation Forecast Could Be Bad for a Human Mars Mission” [Bloomberg]. • Dang. And I was so hoping Elon Musk and his friends could escape, hopefully into some sort of Lord of the Flies situation.

    I was hoping for:

    Yo Ho Ho and Bottle of Rum
    16 Men on Dead Man’s Chest

    Dead Man’s Chest is a island in the BVIs, where recalcitrant pirates were marooned. The Island is water-less.

  7. flora

    re: ‘ It’s amazing the political clout that public libraries have. ‘

    Unsung heros – librarians. You do not want to mess with librarians sense of community obligation and civic duty. (invisible in normal times, though it may be.)

    see from 2005:

    and from 2016:

    I can’t imagine that Amazon run “libraries” would try this hard to protect users’ right to read without goverment intrusion or surveillance. Heck, Amazon might keep the data on the same cloud server the CIA uses. /half a snark

  8. Lee

    This caught my ear on Science Friday: Adapt Or Die In The Urban Jungle

    Biologists asking this question are coming back with answers from urban areas all over the world—observing sexual selection gone awry, catfish learning to eat pigeons [video link below], an emerging new species of blackbird, birds singing louder and in a higher pitch, lizards with stickier feet, and toxin-tolerant flowers. Even Darwin’s famous finches seem to be evolving in response to human activity in the Galapagos.

    Evolutionary biologist Menno Schilthuizen, author of Darwin Comes to Town, tells tales from the front lines of urban evolution research.


  9. Lambert Strether Post author

    Just for grins, I added the Cook Political Reports horserace ratings to the database. Here are the upcoming primaries (revised from the last worksheet:

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

    It would be hilarious if Trump is pursuing the same strategy as Clinton, knowing that Biden would be the worst possible candidate the Democrat Party could put up… assuming it wants to win, which is never a given.

      1. JohnnyGL

        It makes a lot of sense…

        1) id pol claims neutralized
        2) Biden’s got his own patchy record with women
        3) He’s got that one son who was on the board of directors of that Ukrainian electricity company.

        Lots of oppo to work with, no doubt.

        1. polecat

          THAT one son is/was purportedly a cocaine user, to the extent he got booted out of the military ! (can’t remember which branch of the mic tree) .. but hey, he’ll be fabulous, Simply Fabulous ! .. as a principle in that Ukraine, uh, ‘utility’ company. Anyone below the biden-my-time class would be servicing mr. Bigfoot in a pound-me-in-the-@** ‘correctional facility’ !!

          Hunter Biden is his name .. a fortunate son indeed !

        2. Jean

          Every person in America with onerous student loans should know that Biden is responsible for them never, ever being able to discharge those debts in a bankruptcy, unlike a corporation that can discharge their debts and then screw their pensioners and suppliers.

          Gee, I wonder how many people have outstanding student loans and would vote for Biden knowing that?



    1. Daryl

      I think that Clinton is the worst possible candidate the democratic party could put up.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Or, the best.
        Depends what outcome you’re looking for. If you want a funnel of Big Pharma Big Tech Big Prison Big Military Big Wall St cash, so you can keep the sweet consulting, media, thinktank, and Party gears grinding, she’s amazing.
        If you want to actually get elected to make positive change for the 99%, of course, she’s a disaster.

  11. Lambert Strether Post author

    Of the 22 districts above, 10 are rated differently. As you can see, Cook Report is a bit toward the Democrat side:

    Date District Party Incumbent Inside Elections Cook Report PVI HRC Flipped City
    2018-08-07 WA-05 R McMorris Rodgers Likely-R Lean-R R+08 -20.10 Spokane
    2018-08-14 MN-03 R Paulsen Lean-R Toss-Up D+01 9.40 MinneapolisS
    2018-08-27 MI-08 R Bishop Lean-R Toss-Up R+04 -6.70 Lansing
    2018-08-28 AZ-01 D O’Halleran Likely-D R+02 -1.10 Flagstaff
    2018-08-28 AZ-02 R McSally Tilt-D Lean-D R+01 4.90 Tucson
    2018-08-28 AZ-08 R VACANT Likely-R Toss-Up R+13 -21.10 PhoenixS
    2018-08-28 FL-07 D Murphy Lean-D Likely-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 Toss-Up D+06 16.30 pivot MiamiS
    2018-09-11 NH-01 D Shea-Porter Tilt-D Lean-D R+02 -1.60 pivot Manchester

    At this point, I should note that Cook has about 100 entries, where Inside Elections (which I am using) has about 80. So Cook thinks the field is broader, in keeping with the wave thesis.

    Also, the spectrum for Inside Elections is:

    Likely-D, Lean-D, Tilt-D, Toss-Up, Tilt-R, Lean-R, Likely-R

    (to which I added Safe-D and Safe-R, for districts that moved out of play).

    where the spectrum for Cook Report is:

    Likely-D, Lean-D, Toss-Up (D), Toss-Up (R), Lean-R, Likely-R

    So the two taxonomies have a bit of a mismatch. I figured I could throw the D and the R Toss-ups into the same Toss-Up bucket, I imagine both are the same as the Likelies, and as for the fine distinctions between Lean and Tilt… Who knows?

  12. Left in Wisconsin

    On DSA and youth:
    Kids watched everything their parents worked for their whole lives disappear in the Wall St crash and then watched as only the banks who did it got bailed out. They LIVED the reality of predatory capitalism and made a decision.

    Not saying this is impossible but I strongly suspect the growth of youth interest in socialism is much more a function of the “lefting” of the children of the meritocracy. The HS my kids went/go to here in Madison – 2/3 children of meritocracy (though not all white), 1/3 poor minorities – is full of self-declared socialists. This is not because their families are are suffering – though no doubt some are and are hiding it.

    We need more self-declared socialists from all walks of life so I am not critical of them in the least. But in line with some of what Lambert has reported about DSA, many of these same kids are unbelievably intolerant of violations of identity social norms. I get the sense that, when push comes to shove, identity politics will trump socialism. They all loved Bernie but they had no real problem with HRC.

    I’ll be more impressed when I see socialists from the struggling parts of the state.

    1. Andrew Watts

      I don’t really understand anything about high school students these days. Everything that was considered lame and uncool when I went to school is now popular. That definitely includes being interested in politics and self-identifying as a socialist. Although I do believe that the constant threat of downward mobility has the power to genuinely change some attitudes among the affluent.

      The obsession with identity politics among the contemporary left is a betrayal of the radical aspiration that was best expressed in the Internationale. It undermines the unity of diverse people in favor of arbitrary biological differences.

      So come brothers and sisters,
      For the struggle carries on.
      The Internationale
      Unites the world in song.
      So comrades, come rally,
      For this is the time and place!
      The international ideal
      Unites the human race.

      It also serves as a class signifier to further reinforce hierarchical distinctions.

  13. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “The local food panty will have exotic fresh fruits this Summer.”

    When you drop off the exotica to the food pantry, please include some handouts for the recipients that explain what it is, and how it can be prepared or eaten. My neighbor, who works at our local food pantry (and 20+ years of social services prior to that), says that most donations of anything outside of ‘routine’ food often go to waste, as the majority of the pantry’s customers do not cook much beyond opening a can and heating the contents or very simple recipes. When offered unfamiliar items, they generally decline them.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      To which I would add donating foodstuffs that require complicated preparation and/or the addition of numerous spices and seasonings will have the same result.

      When you get home after working your tuchus off all day, you’re tired, and the last thing you want to do is spend another few hours cooking up something fancy. And then the kids likely won’t eat it. Just my opinion, but nothing shows class privilege quite like donating to a food pantry not what those who use it want to eat but what you think they should eat to begin with. When that donation is something strange, it just aggravates the situation.

  14. mle detroit

    “NOTE * Note lack of agency in “was relegated,” as well as the erasure of class in “by his race.” Come on”
    (re Stacey Abrams’ story about her father)

    Come on, Lambert.

    1) The whole point of systemic discrimination is precisely to achieve “lack of agency.”

    2) “by his race” was all that was needed back then – class did not matter.

    True story, told to me in the early 80s by a white professor at UMichigan about his black father-in-law. The FIL had gotten an engineering degree – could not get any job offers. He supported himself as a touring musician. So he went to law school, intending to hang out a shingle. But the market for black lawyers, being co-extensive with the black community, was saturated. Infant daughters arrived and the man and his wife decided to relocate from the south to Seattle, where he got a steady, home-every-night blue-collar job on the line at Boeing. Then came 1964 and equal employment opportunity. The first to be leaned on by the Feds were their own contractors, like Boeing. Under pressure to comply, the company looked first at its own employees. When this story was told to me in the 80s, the white professor’s black father-in-law was – a vice president of Boeing.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Let me help you out with an edit:

      1) The whole point of systemic discrimination is precisely to achieve perceived “lack of agency.”

      > class did not matter.

      All I can tell you is that whenever I’ve looked at post-worthy depth into issues presented as primarily those of race — Ferguson, immigration, the Democrat Party — economic factors (i.e., class) were always an integral part. One hand grasps, the other manipulates. The one hand was money; the other, race. They are inseparable. You’re also saying that “follow the money” doesn’t work as a methodology for understanding “back then.” I don’t believe it for a minute. It certainly wasn’t true for the Civil War, where the Confederacy’s loss also meant the vaporization of billions in capital, which the Slave Power had invested in human beings they thought they would be able to continue to buy and sell.

      1. JohnnyGL

        To helpfully (or not) confuse matters more.

        – Lots of sharecroppers were white
        – Lots of whites were disenfranchised under Jim Crow voting restrictions
        – The black reporter who investigated lynchings found that the victims were often successful business and community leaders. Lynchings were often conducted by or lead by local white elites to ‘maintain discipline’.

        Of course race is used as a vehicle for the old divide-and-conquer strategy by the elites, but class often rears its head just below the surface, if you look at things a little more closely.

        1. 4corners

          I’m still trying to appreciate the difference between the lack of agency v. perceived lack of agency. In the case of the lawyer and the engineer, I suppose both could’ve gone ahead and hung shingles for their chosen professions. But that would have proved quixotic with no clients. So it seems class was determined and reinforced by race. The engineer was relegated by race to work in the shipyards. In contrast, a poor white engineer or lawyer could’ve used that ability to climb.

      2. marym

        I’m increasingly drawn to focus on the opposite, at least as far as the Trump phenomena, where issues presented primarily as economic – Trump’s support among “working people” – where race isn’t presented as an integral part. It’s very troubling to see “working people” and “populist” applied to the current political alignment.

  15. audrey jr

    I am nothing if not a cynic and I believe that, knowing what I know about our nation and the extremely successful deep psychological conditioning each of us has received growing up here, that the recent giddiness over the AOC primary win is far too naive.
    Over at the Ghion Journal Teodrose Fikre seems to be taking her win with a grain of salt as well. He notes that AOC has taken monies from J.P. Morgan – JP Morgue, as I call them – and appears to be backing off from her public criticism of Israel.
    Not a good look for her IMNSHO but we shall see what we shall see.
    I would love for socialism to make a breakthrough here but I tells ya I just don’t see it happening.

    1. Big River Bandido

      appears to be backing off from her public criticism of Israel

      AIPAC has an absolute stranglehold on Democrat foreign policy and the party apparatus in Washington. They are ruthless and crossed-eyed. That lobby owns all the key members of the House and Senate, and is completely intertwined with the neocon and neoliberal policy organs.

      If they are powerful enough to force Bernie Sanders — a Jew, no less — to back off on his own rightful criticisms of Israel, I can forgive AOC the for the same thing, and any other leftist trying to overturn the thugs. I don’t think most of us really have any clue of the viciousness of the cabal that controls the Democrat Party. They may well be the last bastion of the current order to remain standing after the destruction. It would be better not to be forced to fight them *first*.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      The donations from Morgan AOC received could have been from individual employees who chose to make it as a group rather than individually. And if anyone truly believes she’ll be “bought” for the small amount of that donation, they want to believe she’s selling out. We don’t need that kind of negativism right now, thanks.

  16. Pat

    Regarding the political ads. Cuomo’s have started. He is a thrifty man. While it could be because of his upcoming primary with Nixon, it feels much more like an ad for higher office. It is all about how Cuomo has led NY to progressive victories and his support of the usual national causes as a protector. That it is all smoke and mirrors and neoliberal approved, well… I’m pretty sure they are planning to just change some logos in about a year.

    And is there some reason the Dems seem to have pivoted to Puerto Rico? Cuomo has barely gotten back from a trip there and sends 2 million dollars of NY State funds to PR. Meanwhile all of sudden, Dems who should have been trying to change the whole debt status of the island for years (before the hurricane even) are NOW working to get PR debt relief. Gillibrand is right in the middle of that one as well. How did this become the latest distraction?

    1. roxy

      feels much more like an ad for higher office.

      At his state of the state address there was an accompanying slide show, and the last image was of the empty oval office.

  17. marku52

    Good article over at TAC (again. I’m always pleasantly surprised when they frequently rail against the war in Yemen. That never gets mentioned in the “liberal media”).

    Called “Trump’s Working Class, Conservative, Populist Realignment”, a book review of “The revolt-Inside the populist coalition reshaping American politics”

    “The poll showed widespread sentiment that the American political system isn’t working. Some 89 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that Republicans and Democrats in Washington were both guilty of leading the country down the wrong track. Some 86 percent agreed that Trump “stands up for the working people against powerful corporate interests.” And 72 percent agreed that large corporations don’t care when their decisions hurt working people. “

  18. Summer

    “But read the whole article for the public library’s complete missions. (Makes me wonder if charging for library access might catch on as a way to keep out the riff-raff. Or Uber for Books.”

    Keep your books instead of tossing them. They’ll be worth their weight like gold in the future.

    I’ve stopped tossing older music recordings in non-streaming format.

  19. dcrane

    “In an interview just last week, Ellison suggested that because corporations ‘can go back and forth across the border seeking out the lowest wages,’ regular people should be able to ‘go back and forth across the border seeking out the highest wages.’” • Oof. Yes, I’ve always wanted to travel to Mexico looking for a good job at a good wage.

    A better worker-class analogue to globalism’s benefits for the 1% would be purchasing goods at offshore (e.g., developing world) prices, tariff free, with the power of American dollars earned at American wage levels.

    (Or, for that matter, medicines purchased tariff-free at Canadian prices…)

    1. marku52

      Or how ’bout ’cause the wages aren’t the same across the border, no goods can cross without an equivalent adjustment. What a concept.

      OMG. I just had the same idea as DJT.

      1. John k

        Yes. Tariffs can equalize, plus the exporters’ former profits go to us taxes, hopefully reducing the urge to cut entitlements. And, reduced/higher priced imports mean stuff gets made here, pushing up wages. A three-fer.
        Who knew? The orange comedian figured this out, while a generation of pols and journalists couldn’t? Or did they have some kind of hidden hand incentive?
        Bull in China closet breaking the world order… upsetting allies… about time.
        Such a pity he’s such a jerk domestically.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          We haven’t heard much about import quotas.

          Will we see them if some countries continue to drive their currencies lower?

      2. HotFlash

        no goods can cross without an equivalent adjustment.

        Why yes, that makes total sense. Question: who gets the money, US workers?

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think we have to pressure Switzerland to let Americans – all hundreds of millions of us – go there to find work anytime we want.

    3. djrichard

      purchasing goods at offshore (e.g., developing world) prices, tariff free, with the power of American dollars earned at American wage levels.

      In a way you can already do that. Just buy direct from allibaba.com or the likes. Or for that matter, a lot of goods on Amazon and ebay are direct to market from China through some locally hosted store front, so there’s minimal markup. In contrast with domestic brands which rebranding the chinese goods and simply adding their profit margin on top.

      By the way, on the topic of US brands simply wanting to making a profit on Chinese goods: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-congress-trade/u-s-senate-quietly-votes-to-cut-tariffs-on-hundreds-of-chinese-goods-idUSKBN1KG35R

      There’s no way these US brands can compete against the direct-to-market from China. I get the sense that there’s so much cut throat competition between the store fronts fronting direct-to-market from China, that basically it’s minimal profit margin. Certainly as far as we in the US are concerned.

      Anyways, live by the sword, die by the sword say I. If US brands want to outsource the supply chain to China, then let them compete against the Chinese store fronts (the top of the value chain) as well.

      1. dcrane

        Interesting point. After reading your comment I was amused to run across this story on Pinduoduo from this morning’s Links.

  20. pete

    When I hear about these free college proposals I always wonder will I be excluded from this because I am already a victim of a worthless degree.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think you’re fortunate in that you can at least try to ask for a refund.

      With free college, you can’t.

  21. anonymous

    Re: open borders

    If there were to be open borders, it seems it would it be necessary to admit all of the 150 Million people who want to emigrate to the US (according to polling). It would probably be discriminatory to only admit people from Mexico and Central America when US imperialist actions have also impacted people from many other regions of the world.

    The 2017 total population of the US was 325.7 million. So, adding another 150 Million brings the total US population to 475.7 Million, which is almost half a billion.

    Even if MMT means everyone can have healthcare, housing, jobs, education, etc., existing US infrastructure will need to absorb the population increase. Here in Los Angeles, many streets and freeways are gridlocked for several hours per day even though new infrastructure projects have been underway for years, including freeway widening, etc.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Even at 40%, that would be 60 million new votes to the party for doing just that, without promising anything else, which would be tempting to do (the ‘without doing anything else’ part).

      The virtuous will act differently – they will make sure all the new Americans live in a progressive, socialist society where everyone, including the new ones, lives a happier life than what today’s Americans do.

      The pessimistic people will, of course, see only negative projections.

  22. Tomonthebeach

    “make exactly half of college free”

    YES, by raising the cost of the other two years due to the damage this policy will do to the US educational system.

    1. The 1st two years of college have been free for 50 years! It’s called junior college, and nearly every city has them. Thus, this policy would undermine our junior college system (no longer a low-cost alternative to 4-year schools).

    2. Over 50% of college students drop/flunk out within the 1st two years. Thus, this bill is unlikely to increase the number of college graduates.

    1. tegnost

      “2. Over 50% of college students drop/flunk out within the 1st two years.”
      so… your thoughts on student loans and no bankruptcy provision?

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        I guess it comes down to what you think the purpose of government is. Whether it’s to see that the population is educated, or whether that’s not as important as incinerating a Yemeni grandmother in the desert with a laser-guided drone missile.

  23. dcblogger

    charging to keep out the riff raff would be acceptable to at least some library patrons. Many urban libraries are defacto homeless daycare centers. Libraries offer shelter from the elements, have books, computers, and all manner of things to keep you occupied.

    1. todde

      I remember when we almost started a riot when the police came to kick out a homeless man at the library.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Turn “we almost started” to “we started” and then we’ll be getting somewhere

  24. lyman alpha blob

    Good news – every so often the little guys can actually defeat the squillionaires!!

    I first heard about this proposed development in VT from someone on NC and it’s been talked about a little bit here over the last couple years. Some flatlander rich guy decided to buy up a bunch of land in rural VT to construct some kind of planned community utopia and the locals didn’t care much for it. And now they’ve won! Apologies if this has been mentioned here already since it’s month-old news, but I just heard about it a few days ago: https://vtdigger.org/2018/06/27/newvistas-developer-says-hes-abandoning-project-selling-property-in-vermon/

    “The recent designation of the area as a watch by national historic (preservationists) was a genius move by those who oppose my purchases,” Hall said via email. “I admit that I am worn down by the drama and have decided to give in and get out of Vermont.”

    Hall’s long-term plan to bring 20,000 people to a 5,000-acre sustainable community — he’s putting $100 million of his own money into creating a global chain of high-tech, eco-friendly communities — drew strong opposition in Vermont.

    For those unfamilar with the area, Tunbridge VT was also the home of Fred Tuttle , an old farmer who starred as a politician in a fake documentary and then went on to defeat another flatlander squillionaire in the real life US senate Republican primary about 20 years ago. After winning the primary, he promptly quit the race saying he never wanted to go to DC to begin with and everyone should vote for his Democrat opponent. So there is some precedent in the area for running rich as$%les right out of town.

    All I can say to Mr. Hall on the way out is don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya!!!

  25. djrichard

    “Fake Views? Page FISA Warrant Shows We’re Doomed” [RealClearPolitics]. • A good round-up, well worth a read. Even if it is the most high-level “he said/she said” you can imagine, and there’s no conclusion!

    Yet another modern day Rashomon. Seeing a lot of that nowadays.

  26. Harold

    I didn’t know it was called a “chamoe”, but we have been buying them in Korea Town as “Korean melons” and they truly are delicious! The remind me a bit of pears. Yum.

  27. Carolinian

    Obviously Brexit is pretty thoroughly covered here at NC but I thought this was good.


    The key point to make about the Brexit referendum is that it would never have been called if there had been any genuine belief (or fear) within Britain’s political class that it would result in a vote for Britain to leave the EU.[…]

    The immediate result [of the referendum] was the political establishment went through the political equivalent of a nervous breakdown.

    Corbyn, Mercouris says, is the solution but

    The difficulty is that though Corbyn’s social democratic programme does indeed offer an alternative to the Thatcherite settlement, which in Britain represents the status quo, and is a conceivable programme around which to prepare Britain for life outside the EU, it is also one which is completely unacceptable to Britain’s establishment.

    Which is to say the nervous breakdown is all about Corbyn and that “Thatcherite settlement.” Meanwhile here in the US the establishment also seems to also be having a nervous breakdown. over threats to what might be called the Reaganite settlement. So far the Republicans are holding the line domestically but the would-be revival of the evil empire is under threat–causing great angst. The diff is that whereas the US elites crave regime change in Britain

    An establishment which senses itself challenged and which is no longer sure of its support in the country is afraid to risk the traditional method in Britain of resolving a political crisis, which is another general election. Indeed it is now so insecure about its position that it is nervous of taking any step at all

    Mercouris concludes

    What is beyond doubt however is that a Corbyn government must be tried. The alternative is that the crisis becomes entrenched and deepens, in which case other, altogether more alarming forces might start to emerge. Already what looks like the early signs of this are there.

  28. Zachary Smith

    Ellison suggested that because corporations “can go back and forth across the border seeking out the lowest wages,” regular people should be able to “go back and forth across the border seeking out the highest wages.”

    I knew virtually nothing about this guy except that he was a Democrat and Muslim. After reading that quote, I can add another note to that small mental file: the guy is either an idiot or a bought-and-paid-for corporate hack.

  29. Kevin C Smith

    ~1/3 women, regardless of demographic, have had an abortion; and ~all women know someone who has had an abortion.
    Trump et al should consider that before they mouth off about abortion and birth control.

    1. RUKidding

      Hypocrisy is rife amongst the Forced Birthers.

      I worked in a law firm that had a lot of conservative “Christian” male lawyers. Years ago the American Bar Association passed some motion in support of Roe v Wade. These phony-pious guys all lined up & ritually burned their ABA membership cards. Not joking.

      Yet nearly every single one had engaged in one or more very well known affairs several of which ended in the mistress getting an abortion.

      Could go on. Had friends who worked at Planned Parenthood. Not unusual for some right wing fundie woman to be out front one day w their ugly signs screaming abuse at anyone going inside.

      The next day they’re sneaking in the back door to get an abortion for themselves or their daughter or sister.

      Abortion is solely & only about domination over women esp poor minority women. It’s about who’s in charge of you & how they have the ability to eff you up.

      Even if it’s irrefutably proven that several of Trumps mistresses had abortions it won’t matter. The Talebangelicals will manufacture an excuse and wax lyrical about how “God” has changed Trump & he’s now the anointed one. Bank on it.

      Besides: IOKIYAR.
      ITs especially Ok if you’re rich & white.

  30. Conrad

    As there is no Nobel prize in Economics I’ve started to use this a personal indicator to discount any source that tries to say otherwise. If they can’t get such a basic, easily verifiable fact correct I have no faith in anything else they have to say.

  31. The Rev Kev

    “And I was so hoping Elon Musk and his friends could escape, hopefully into some sort of Lord of the Flies situation.”

    Oh I’m sure that it would be more entertaining for them to be put into a Battle Royale situation. I wonder if Musk picked up one of his handy-dandy flamethrowers that he would realize the disadvantages of a weapon with a ten foot range?

  32. Conrad

    said Robert Shiller, a Nobel Prize-winning economist

    As there is no Nobel Prize in Economics I’ve started to use false claims to the contrary as a personal indicator of the reliability of sources. Any source that can’t get such a basic, easily verifiable, fact correct can’t be trusted for anything else.

    I’m interested in hearing what other such indicators the commentariat here uses.

    1. Mildred Montana

      1. Admittedly, I know nothing about Brexit. However, if the bankers are agin’ it, I’m for it. They’re an indicator for me to go the other way on any issue I don’t understand.


      2. Avoid any heavily advertised product. It’s definitely overpriced and might even be inferior to boot. Think “Swiffer”, for one. Saturation advertising of a particular good is a clear indicator not to buy it, and a cheaper, even better alternative can usually be had.

      Hope I’ve helped to simplify your life somewhat…..

      1. Conrad

        #2 is a very good idea. Fortunately I don’t have much personal investment in Brexit.

  33. bob


    New York acts to boot Spectrum cable out of the state

    strange story. Why the friday PM news dump? It should be a wildly popular move. Why do it on a friday?

    I doubt it will amount to much, but it already has the lobbiests and PR people working into the weekend on the news forum above.

    advance LLC aka newhouse LLC, aka conde nast, aka a whole lot of media owns 15% of Charter

    I don’t have cable TV, but I’d really like to hear what Spectrum news has to say about all this. Spectrum (charter) runs a 24×7 upstate NY news channel.

  34. Jean

    “Help me get there!’” • Holy moly. NOTE * Note lack of agency in “was relegated,” as well as the erasure of class in “by his race.” Come on.”

    And a very well paid unionized job in the Ingalls shipyard?

Comments are closed.