2:00PM Water Cooler 8/10/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“[Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo] on Thursday remained tight-lipped about the likelihood that NAFTA talks could wrap up by the end of the month, but said negotiators are ‘doing [their] best to do it as fast as possible.’ Top U.S. and Mexican officials have been aiming to finish up a deal this month in an effort to get a deal signed by Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto before he leaves office on Dec. 1” [Politico]. “President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Peña Nieto’s teams ‘are on the same page about wanting to wrap this up before AMLO takes office. No new administration wants to handle a major trade [deal] renegotiation in its first months,’ a source close to the talks told Morning Trade.”

“U.S. fisheries could get hooked and sunk by the Trump administration’s proposed new tariffs on a wide variety of fish imports from China. An estimated $900 million worth of fish and seafood on that list is caught in the U.S. and sent to China to be made into items like fish sticks and fillets” [Wall Street Journal]. “Sending fish to China to be breaded, seasoned, portioned or packaged has grown recently, as domestic seafood-processing plants faced high costs and labor shortages. That helped make China the top source of seafood imports to the U.S., with 1.3 billion pounds sent last year. Now U.S. companies fear they’ll get caught up in tariffs on those goods.” • I guess a labor arbitrage chant starting with “Gimme an L!” would be tediously long…

“China should cut its losses in the trade war by conceding defeat to Donald Trump” [Xu Yimiao, South China Morning Post]. “Some serious discussions are going on in China as the country faces an escalating trade war with the United States, slowing domestic growth and increasing investment restrictions in the US and Europe. There seems to be recognition that the previous playbook drafted by hardliners has not worked and Beijing needs to change its strategy. Beijing’s strategy of a tit-for-tat retaliation over tariffs has clearly failed. In fact, this strategy escalated the conflict. The direct retaliation after the US announced the first batch of 25 per cent tariffs on US$50 billion in Chinese goods (with the increase from US$34 billion just finalised and coming into effect on August 23) brought few benefits for China. If anything, it gave the US an excuse to plan for a new batch of tariffs covering US$200 billion in Chinese goods. To be fair, it is possible that the US would have escalated the conflict even if China had not retaliated, but whatever the case may be, China’s strategy did not work.” • I don’t know the Chinese press well enough to know if this is reporting, a trial balloon in the (Hong Kong-based) SCMP, or what. It makes me wonder about Xi. And it also makes me wonder about what’s going on i the interior of China, and what fragilities a trade war might reveal. For example, this thread:

The Chinese cops have impressive logistical skills. One might ask how and why they became so very good.



“Stormy Daniels’ lawyer in Iowa, says it’s not a stunt” [Associated Press]. “[Michael Avenatti,] the attorney who has spent months positioning himself as one of President Donald Trump’s leading critics insists this foray into Iowa — an early proving ground on the presidential campaign calendar — is not a stunt. For now, Avenatti has plenty of spotlight as the top 2020 presidential prospects stay away from Iowa. He has not made any formal moves toward a presidential run, but he toured the Iowa State Fair on Thursday and was set to appear at the Democratic Wing Ding in Clear Lake on Friday…. “Let’s put it this way: Tickets are selling, and we’re getting a lot of women buying tickets,” said Wing Ding chairman Randy Black, who said Avenatti reached out to say he was considering attending the event and they asked him if he would like to speak.” • Totally not a stunt, any more than those giant inflatable rats unions use against non-union contractors are a stunt.


“Commentary: Believe it or not, the GOP could keep the House” [Michael Graham, CBS]. “‘Republicans must re-elect almost all of their 36 incumbents whose districts are R+7 or less, put special effort into the eight open seats rated toss-ups or lean Republican…and go hard after the handful of open Democratic seats that lean Republican.’ ‘If they do this they might—just might—hold the House,’ Rove believes. And he’s not alone. ‘No, this election is not ‘baked,” says Stanford University political scientist Doug Rivers. In a podcast interview this week, Rivers and fellow Stanford academic David Brady argue that while the GOP numbers are bad, they might not be quite bad enough for Democrats to win the majority.” • Cheerleading, of course, but Rove isn’t dumb, whatever else he may be.

“US midterms: Ivanka Trump ‘to be dispatched to suburban districts’ where president’s hardline policies are turning off supporters” [Independent]. “A recent Marist poll found only 30 per cent of women approved of the president. It found that around sixty per cent of suburban women strongly disapproved of him and, as a result, the Democrats had a 30-point advantage with this demographic. Even most white women, a group that Mr Trump won two years ago, said they were more likely to vote Democratic rather than Republican.”

KS Governor: “Kansas governor’s aide: Kobach promise on count not enough” [Associated Press]. “In his letter, [Kansas Governor Jeff] Colyer suggested [that gubernatorial candidate and current Secretary of State Kris] Kobach’s guidance to county officials ‘may serve to suppress the vote.’ He added that circumstances obviously increase the likelihood that one of the candidates may seek a recount, or even the possibility of litigation.’ • So the AG is proffering advice on how to count the votes in his own race? Chutzpah! More: “Kobach told reporters Wednesday that he knew of no significant reports of irregularities in Tuesday’s primaries, outside of long delays in reporting results from the state’s most populous county. There, Johnson County in the Kansas City area, results were delayed by problems with uploading data from new voting machines.” • Move along, people, move along. There’s nothing to see here. (And, as readers know, problems “uploading data” go away with hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public. It’s almost like the two-party system is allergic to this solution for a reason….

GA-10: “Former congressional candidate charged with murder in Aiken” [Augusta Chronicle]. “[Kellie Lynn Collins] was a Democratic candidate for the 10th Congressional District seat in 2018, but withdrew from the race for personal reasons and wasn’t on the ballot. According to a file from the Federal Election Commission, [the victim was identified as Curt Cain] was Collins’ treasurer.” • It’s been quite a year so far… .

MN-01, MN-08: “Democrats’ hopes to take House could stumble in Minnesota” [Associated Press]. “Voters in the sprawling farm country south of Minneapolis and in the economically struggling Iron Range along the Canadian border give Republicans in those two congressional districts perhaps their best chance anywhere for flipping Democratic seats. Democrats need to pick up 23 seats in November to retake the House, but the odds grow long if they lose districts they currently hold… ‘Minnesota is going to be ground zero for control of the House,’ said Corry Bliss, director of the Conservative Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with House Speaker Paul Ryan…. Former U.S. Rep. Steve Israel of New York, who served four years as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, agreed.” • Steve Israel. Aaugh! Aaaugh!

OH-12: “The Table Is Set for Democrats to Take the House” [Eugene Robinson, RealClearPolitics]. “[OH-12], encompassing the northern suburbs and exurbs of Columbus, has been regarded as an impregnable GOP stronghold for more than three decades. Trump won it in 2016 by 11 points. Faced with polls showing a tight race, Trump staged a last-minute rally there Saturday in an attempt to drag Balderson across the finish line. By the slimmest of margins, he may have succeeded. But if Ohio-12 is competitive, if it’s not a safe Republican district anymore, then a host of similar districts across the nation are also up for grabs in November.” 100% of the vote is now counted (with provisionan ballots still to come in). The New York Times has a handy chart:

The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds

“There Are Better Ways to Mock Trump Than Joking That He’s Putin’s Gay Lover” [Mother Jones]. • Finally.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “Backlash and Stigma: Rethinking Restraint in the Age of Trump” [Duck of Minerva]. “[W]hat if stories like the decline of Ivanka’s clothing brand matter more than we think? In isolation, these kinds of stories appear as inconsequential distractions. Taken together, they form a broader genre of reporting focused on the rising personal costs of serving under Trump. This genre of reporting is important because it points to two crucial political processes occurring around the Trump administration right at this moment: backlash and stigmatization… In Goffman’s classic definition, a stigma is an attribute which is seen as ‘deeply discrediting’ by a community. In effect, a person becomes tainted with a ‘spoiled identity’ and becomes vulnerable to public ostracism and ridicule… [W]hereas shaming is widely treated as a rhetorical maneuver, Goffman was at pains to stress how a social stigma can be a crippling social, political, and economic liability. From being excluded from valuable networks of patronage, to being professionally blacklisted, the effects of a social stigma can be severe…. To an extent we can already see the dynamics of this stigma at play: the White House is struggling to fill positions and former staff are being shunned by prospective employers.” • This is an insightful article, well worth a read, though the scope is International Relations (not focus of this extract).

Two comments: First, we might see stigmatization insofar as it affects staffing for the Administration as an exercise of class power by the 9.9% who form the liberal Democrat base. (Such an exercise would obviously be carried out for a Sanders administration as well; “Bernie Bro” in the 2016 primary was liberal Democrat stigmatization, for example.) Second, it seems to me that liberal Democrats have essentially gone into the stigmatization business: the calling out, the shaming, the blaming. For example, their focus following the OH-12 results was… The Greens, who were addressed in such fingerwagging terms as “Do I get a cookie now?”, “Don’t tell me you care about the environment,” and (of course) “Russian meddling. Why else would anyone cast a protest vote in Ohio?” Stigmatization has its good points as a tactic, I suppose, but I’m not sure that liberal Democrats have the moral standing to do it, having, so far as I can tell, no fixed principles whatever. Their stigmatization of Putin and Trump as gay lovers is a fine example of this.

“Hackers at convention to ferret out election system bugs” [Reuters]. • I’m not even going to bother saying what you know I’m going to say.

“Automatic Voter Registration Gains Bipartisan Momentum” [Governing]. “Oregon was the first state, in 2015, to adopt an automatic voter registration (AVR) system. Since then, 12 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar laws, and 20 states this year have introduced automatic voting registration proposals, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. The Massachusetts House approved the bill 130-20 in June, and the state Senate unanimously passed it two weeks later.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, Juliy 2018: “Consumer prices slightly accelerated their creep higher in July” [Econoday]. “Accounting for almost 60 percent of the monthly increase for the overall index in July was the index for shelter…. Yesterday’s producer price report was slightly weaker than expected and calmed inflation fears but but today’s data on consumer prices shows core inflation reaching the highest level in nearly 10 years and may lead to more hawkishness at the Fed.” And: “Fuel oil and used cars were the main driver for year-over-year inflation. Core inflation is now above 2.0 % year-over-year” [Econintersect]. And: “Key Measures Show Inflation increased YoY in July” [Calculated Risk]. “Overall, these measures are mostly above the Fed’s 2% target (Core PCE is close).”

ECRI’s WLI Growth Index: “ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Index At 45 Week Low” [Econintersect]. “Even with the general downward trend in this index over the last 6 months, the forecast is for modest (approaching insignificant) growth six months from today.”

Commodities: “Saudi crude output discrepancy confuses oil market” [Kallanish Energy]. “Saudi Arabia has reportedly approached independent price reporting agencies and analysts to review their forecasts for the country’s monthly crude oil production, following huge discrepancies for July. Officials told OPEC delegates last weekend Saudi Arabia cut its July oil output by 200,000 barrels per day (Bpd), to 10.29 million barrels per day (Mmbpd), driving crude oil prices up on Monday. However, earlier estimates by secondary sources showed the kingdom boosted production instead. Certain discrepancies are somehow expected in data reported by countries and governments, but the fact OPEC’s de facto leader is pushing for changes on independent estimates is something new and for some, worrying. ‘The Saudis have been giving the impression they know what they are doing,’ John Hall, chairman of consultancy Alfa Energy, told the Wall Street Journal, but ‘they could lose credibility and it could increase (price) volatility.'” • Odd. I don’t follow the oil markets at all, because I assume they’re gamed top to bottom. (Maine has the winter highest heating oil usage in the country, and everybody believes that the market is rigged, down to the cashiers at the convenience stores.) Just a blooper, or something more important? Can readers comment?

Commodities: “Labor is proving to be one of the toughest commodities for mining companies to manage this year. Roughly 1,500 workers at Australian alumina refineries and bauxite mines owned by Alcoa Corp. are on strike…, following labor unrest at mines run by Glencore PLC in South Africa and BHP Billiton Ltd. in Chile” [Wall Street Journal]. “Such actions stoke volatility in global commodity markets, affecting the prices of a broad range of products. Alcoa’s refineries in Western Australia account for roughly 7% of global alumina supply, and a strike could drive up prices on products from cars to beer cans.” • Um, labor isn’t alienable. It’s labor power that’s the commodity.

Shipping: “White House postal reform plan should leave parcel pricing alone, group says” [DC Velocity]. “A newly formed group of parcel shippers has asked the Trump administration to avoid suggesting any reforms to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) business that could result in an increase in its shipping and package rates, saying USPS’ package operation is already profitable at current prices and only its private sector rivals would benefit from any upward rate adjustments. The group, which calls itself ‘The Package Coalition,’ said it is concerned that a White House task force review of USPS’ operations and pricing may ‘become an effort’ to force it to raise prices well beyond what is required to cover its parcel costs and to effectively compete with private-sector rivals.” • Whatever the White House reform efforts are, I doubt that they’ll include a Post Office Bank (once pushed by Elizabeth Warren, but she’s been silent for some years. Probably the donor class hates it, but I don’t see why we don’t hear about this from the left.

The Bezzle: “‘Buy bitcoin with credit card’ is on the rise on Google and sparking bubble fears” [CNBC]. “Google Trends says the search term ‘buy bitcoin with credit card’ is around its historic peak, notes Nick Colas, co-founder of Data Trek Research and the first Wall Street analyst to take the digital currency seriously…. While the phrase is only about 3 percent of all bitcoin searches, it is on the rise. The popularity and curiosity of using leverage to get in on the action come as bitcoin’s price continues to scale new heights.” • No more numbers than that. Interestingly, when I searched for the phrase, no Google ads came up, even though the first five hits were all companies selling that transaction.

The Bezzle: “Poll: Some Investors Use a Credit Card to Buy Bitcoin and Then Carry Over the Balance” [LendEdu]. From 2017: “LendEDU polled 672 active Bitcoin investors… ‘1. Which of the following best describes how you funded your account to purchase Bitcoin?: 18.15% of Bitcoin investors answered ‘I used a credit card to fund and purchase.'”

Mr. Market: “Dow tumbles more than 200 points as a currency crisis in Turkey rattles Wall Street” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. stock-index benchmarks slumped to start Friday trade, tracking a global equity retreat fueled by a mounting currency crisis in Turkey, which raised the alarm for possible contagion into other markets.”

Honey for the Bears: “Another stock market risk: GDP growth is slowing across the globe” [MarketWatch]. “A moderation of growth does not mean contraction, and it doesn’t mean that a recession is imminent. However, slowing growth — both in the U.S. and abroad — would likely be another headwind for an equity market that is trading near record levels. ‘Things are looking good in the U.S. in terms of earnings and data, but things aren’t as rosy if you look to China, emerging markets or Europe. Weakness in those regions could eventually become a headwind for the U.S.,’ said Suzanne Hutchins, senior portfolio manager of the $1.5 billion Dreyfus Global Real Return Fund, which is run out of the investment boutique Newton.”

Honey for the Bears: “The only economic discussion the Left needs is how to deal with the coming crisis” [Tax Research UK]. ” Labour is not going to face anything that looks remotely like being normal. It will inherit the most almight mess. And then some pretty radical thinking is actually going to be needed.” • Not just the UK!

Health Care

“Trump Administration Sinks Teeth Into Paring Down Drug Prices, On 5 Key Points” [Kaiser Health News]. “But experts who pay close attention to federal drug policy and Medicare rules say the administration is preparing to incrementally roll out a multipronged plan that tasks the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Food and Drug Administration with promoting competition, attacking the complicated drug rebate system and introducing tactics to lower what the government pays for drugs.” More: “Currently, Medicare pays the average sales price plus 6 percent to doctors or hospitals when they purchase drugs, a pricing mechanism that can benefit the providers if the drug costs go up. If there were a third party buying the drugs, it would ‘have a huge effect,’ Bach said.” • Which is why the biggest possible “third party” — we might call it…. a “single payer” — would have the greatest possible “effect.” Clever, Obama-like tactics of tinkering round the edges won’t work for Trump, either.

Our Famously Free Press

Bad news, good news:

The contradiction here is that Facebook really is private property; it presents itself as being for public purpose, but that’s just marketing (“You are the product,” and very much you shaped in certain ways, once with dark patterns and the dopamine loop, now overtly).

“Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes” [Steve Slick, Lawfare]. A review of Loch Johnson’s Spy Watching: Intelligence Accountability in the United States. This sentence leaped out: “[Johnson] concludes that the trigger for intensive investigation by these [Congressional Oversight] committees is sustained media attention, although Johnson acknowledges that leaks in recent years of electronic surveillance programs by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden fueled months of front-page reporting but generated only a modest legislative response.” • Slick treats the “intelligence community” and the media as if they were two separate institutions, such that the latter can check the former. But if there’s any lesson to be learned from the current RussiaRussiaRussia moral panic, it’s that the relationship between both institutions involves considerable overlap, not to say incestuous, albeit anonymized, relationships. (We might also give consideration to the idea that leaders in the intelligence community, as army generals before them, have discovered that it’s quite lucrative, personally, to become a talking head.) So Slick’s headline has more layers of irony than we might have thought at first reading.


“Costs of Extreme Heat Are Huge, But Hard to Quantify” [Climate Liability News]. “In terms of costs, heat-related climate impacts are likely to be in the billions of dollars, considering risks to health and mortality, economic disruption, and cooling expenses. Currently these costs are shouldered solely by taxpayers, but the climate liability lawsuits targeting the fossil fuel industry are trying to shift that burden. New York quantified its costs in its complaint against five major oil companies—recently dismissed by a federal judge but the city says it will appeal—as it faces skyrocketing costs related to heat. ‘Heat kills more New Yorkers than any other natural hazard and disproportionately impacts communities of color and the elderly, which is why the City is tackling this challenge with unprecedented investments in heat mitigation and adaptation programs,’ said Jainey Bavishi, director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. According to the city’s complaint, if emissions are not significantly reduced, scenarios project temperatures at or above 90 degrees F for 33 days per year by the 2020s, 57 days per year by the 2050s, and 87 days annually by the 2080s. In other words, ‘by the 2050s, today’s worst heat waves are expected to become ordinary summer days.'” • Somehow, I don’t think the insurance industry has priced any of this in… Readers?

Class Warfare

“Women’s group behind rebel memorials quietly battles on” [Associated Press]. “Most people might know the [United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC)] as that group of mainly older women who dress in widow’s weeds and gather on Confederate Memorial Day to lay wreaths of boxwood and holly and sing mournful renditions of “Dixie” in honor of the estimated 260,000 Confederate service members who died in the Civil War . Seeing them arrayed in their broad-brimmed hats and red-and-white sashes, it would be easy to dismiss the Daughters as a quaint anachronism. That would be a mistake. As memorials have toppled and Confederate place names have vanished in the year since the Charlottesville riots, the Daughters have fought back with lawsuits aimed at stopping the removal of rebel monuments from public spaces. Heidi Beirich of the Southern Poverty Law Center counts the group among the leading proponents of the “cult of the Lost Cause” — noting it has distributed literature that claims most African-Americans were ‘ready and willing’ to serve slave owners and that northern nullification of Southerners’ rights forced the War Between the States.” • The past is not dead…. What this article does make crystal clear is that ascriptive identity doesn’t provide a readout of political views. Women are no more likely to be progressive than Obama was progressive because he was black (something it took liberal Democrats a long time to get their heads around, and some still haven’t). Hence the idiocy of “record numbers of women” in 2018 horserace coverage. How many are Daughters of the Conderacy? Or, for that matter, Daughters of the Neoliberal Era?

“As Schools Struggle, West Virginia Governor Still Owes Kentucky $2.5 Million in Taxes” [Governing]. “The billionaire governor of West Virginia said Monday that coal companies linked to his family have paid all the delinquent taxes they owe the state of West Virginia and its counties, but records show the companies still owe millions in Eastern Kentucky… The unpaid taxes in Kentucky come from a time when the coal companies were owned and controlled by [Governor Jim] Justice, who was elected governor of West Virginia in 2016 as a Democrat. He has since switched his party affiliation to Republican.” • Jim Justice is a real Democrat!

“Imperial Pink? The Wing Gears Up to Go Global” [Vogue]. A co-working space for women only. Membership fees: $2,350–$2,700 a year. Well, some women. Quite an enjoyable read, in its own way.

“A Guide to the Evangelical Celebrities and Pastors Dominating Hollywood” [The Cut]. “There are several youth-focused, Pentecostal megachurches springing up across the country, and [Justin] Bieber has attended just about all of them.”

Where you stand depends…

News of The Wired

“A Stanford University psychologist’s elegant three-step method for creating new habits” [Quartz]. “To create a real lifelong habit, the focus should be on training your brain to succeed at a small adjustments, then gaining confidence from that success, [B.J. Fogg, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University] argues. To do that, one needs to design behavior changes that are both easy to do and can be seamlessly slipped into your existing routine. Aim for automaticity.”

“The Monarchy of Materialism: Understanding White Fragility” [Hampton Institute]. Weirdly interesting, and not the screed you might imagine from the title; I placed it between the links above and below for a reason.

“Probing the genetics of the mind” [Nature]. “Kandel’s attempt to biologize psychiatry is not for the sensitive; his focus is medication and compensating for faulty wiring, not gaining psychological insight into inner turbulence. At times, he proposes a less-than-convincing reframing: that because psychoanalysis is a learning process, which involves synaptic changes, the therapy is essentially a biological treatment. However, reading a book or watching a film will bring about synaptic changes, too — and we wouldn’t count either as primarily biological activities…. Bold propositions such as Kandel’s in The Disordered Mind blur the distinction between therapies involving medication or surgery and those that use behavioural and cognitive means.”

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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 (TH):

TH writes: “Terranea Resort’s Mar’sel Restaurant kitchen garden.” I sorta used to have a kitchen garden, but now I have random clumps of herbs and some garlic scapes here and there.

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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. Altandmain

    This article was posted a while back on NC.


    There needs to be a lot more scrutiny on the failings of the Obama Presidency and frankly, the outright betrayal.

    His legacy is Donald Trump. That’s something that the Liberal Democrats don’t want to acknowledge, preferring to pretend that Obama was largely perfect and that any criticism is due to his race. It is going to drive a lot of people away from the Democrats. It was a big part of the defeat of Clinton in 2016 as well.

    I suppose there is a class element here. For the upper 10 percent, he was ideal. The economy recovered for them and they got the majority of the capital gains. For most people real wages are stagnant or falling and they have barely enough to live, if even that, much less invest any excess money into stocks.

    The upper middle class with its credentials tends to look down on the working and declining middle class. The problem is that in America, that is more of a function of your family’s wealth than any hard work. The percentage of folks who go from bottom 10 percent to top 10 percent are few. America is a caste society. You may think I am talking about India, but look at America. High inequality and low social mobility. Fits the caste idea quite well. Working class folks are not as dumb as the upper middle class thinks they are and this resentment has backfired for them badly.

    After all this time, I find myself increasingly persuaded that the term, “out of touch Liberal elite” is fair, although it is a function of class more than anything.

    1. Wukchumni

      The Donkey Show denying that Obama was a failure, is right up there with the White Elephants ixnaying away climate change, nothing to see here folks-please move along.

    2. CitizenSissy

      Largely agree. I’m a middle-aged, college-educated suburbanite a generation removed from my Eastern European immigrant, working-class roots. Couple of things: Non-college educated family members in the skilled trades are doing VERY well. Same family members were on the Trump train because of his “business” (cough) acumen, guns (they’re hunters), and abortion. They weren’t focused on the suppliers and contractors the President stiffed throughout his career.

      Class is the unspoken 800-pound gorilla in American life. I submit the very happy, peppy feudalism the US rapidly evolves into will differ very little from medieval England’s.

      1. Altandmain

        At least in Europe, they admit that they have a very class based society.

        I wish that this would get more attention for us Canadians. Same with Australia and New Zealand. Inequality has led to deep class divisions.

        That said, social mobility is better in Canada still than the US and Canadian class differences are much smaller than American ones.

        It seems like Americans don’t want to admit the truth or perhaps the wealthy don’t want to draw attention to this.

    3. Skateman

      And yet, more wealthy people, on average, voted for Trump, which annihilates your entire premise. But I find the whole, “Trump is Obama’s fault” line frankly ridiculous. Presidents have very little impact on the economy and certainly not the large, secular changes that have heightened inequality (not just in the U.S., but worldwide). Obama was a decent, but not great President. What made him decent was that his every utterance wasn’t a complete embarrassment and stain on the reputation of the country.

      1. Lee

        What made him decent was that his every utterance wasn’t a complete embarrassment and stain on the reputation of the country.

        Deportment is a low bar for determining human decency. Too choose but one example that comes immediately to mind born of personal experience, the HAMP program was a grotesque obscenity that severely damaged millions. To my mind that was “a complete embarrassment and stain on the reputation of the country” that contributed to the electoral decimation suffered by Democrats during Obama’s tenure. As for “secular forces”, that is indeed a problem to be solved, if not by presidents, then decent democratic governance.

        1. pretzelattack

          also drone assassinations, appointing/retaining criminals from the bush administration, failing to prosecute said war criminals and the financial criminals that caused the meltdown, increasing drilling, taking single payer off the table–but hey he have great speeches and was always courteous. the folks he was good at killing may not have appreciated those qualities, however.

          1. todde

            come now, we must feel for all the people from prior Soviet client states that won’t get the distinction of being killed in a bombing campaign ran by “America’s 1st Woman President”.

            You just know they awaited their fate with eager anticipation

            1. Skateman

              Obama’s drone wars were indeed a stain on his legacy. Trump has expanded such wars so I’m not sure how voting for Trump as a response to Obama’s drone wars makes logical sense (it doesn’t).

              1. anon

                You left yourself wide open there. So, In other words (and I do agree):

                George W. Bush’s drone wars were indeed a stain on his legacy. Obama has expanded such wars so I’m not sure how voting for Obama as a response to George W. Bush’s drone wars makes logical sense (it doesn’t).

                A lottery would be better than what we are stuck with, at least we would stand a 50/50 chance of someone with an actual moral compass.

              2. pretzelattack

                trump is indecent. clinton is indecent. obama is indecent, for the reasons pointed out above. that’s one reason people distrusted clinton (she provided ample reasons on her own). people voted for a change, any change. some voted green, some people voted other 3d parties, some voted for trump. they’re going to keep voting for change, because both parties keep screwing the voters.

      2. Ur-Blintz

        It’s the people who had previously voted for Obama but didn’t vote in 2016 that gave the election to Trump, and they aren’t wealthy. They are the folks who got burned on the empty promise of “hope and change.” And as Yves points out in her fab interview w/ NYMag (see link below): “One point that is often lost is the Bush administration courteously left $75 billion in the TARP for the Obama administration to use to pay for mortgage modifications, which they never used. Obama had an opportunity when he came in. The country was desperate and frightened. He could’ve done an FDR. He could’ve done almost anything. And yet, the die was cast when he appointed Timothy Geithner as his Treasury secretary…. there were all these unnecessary foreclosures. There were 9 million foreclosures. Basically about a sixth of the houses with mortgages in the U.S. were foreclosed on. That’s just a stunning and disgraceful figure. And the reason it’s stunning and disgraceful is that before you had securitization, when a borrower got in trouble the mortgage borrower got in trouble.” So much for a president not being able to impact the economy. Indeed, Obama had a once in a lifetime opportunity to do just that and instead he saved the Wall Street banksters from prosecution, further enriching them in the process, while sticking it to Main Street. And just because Obama’s lies were prettier doesn’t mean they didn’t leave any stains.

        1. Skateman

          The votes weren’t there for an FDR type program or single payer. The blue dog democrats wouldn’t go along. I know. I’m in the investment industry (research) and followed along every single day. And foreclosures? People bit off more house than they could chew. They got foreclosed on. That’s capitalism. If Obama had gone in and saved all these people you’d be yelling about how he bailed out a bunch of good-for-nothings.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Then why is it that when the banks and financial institutes and car companies “bit off more than they could chew” they did not get foreclosed on? Why did they get to keep their bonuses instead of being issued prison orange suits? That is not real capitalism. That is crony capitalism. That is bailing out a “bunch of good-for-nothings”. Being in the investment industry you should know that there are a lot of companies that should have gone down the tubes or been reformed in order to clear the way for better and smarter businesses, which IS capitalism, but that that did not happen last time around.

              1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

                I give absolutely no quarter to Obama apologists. As someone who voted for McGovern, Humphrey, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama (once, infuriatingly) I know exactly what we lost by installing The Manchurian Placeholder: we lost an absolute moment when actual change was possible. The Bush Repubs were on their knees, a spent force, their economic, domestic, and foreign programs completely repudiated and indefensible and in tatters. But the fix was in: and instead of someone with a moral compass, with a sense of history, and with even a passing concern for everyday Americans we got a megalomaniacal narcissist who immediately sucked up to Big Wall St and Big War and Big Pharma and Big Spy all while prancing around pretending he was something different. Talk about buyers regret. Under the Cheney Administration you knew exactly what you were dealing with: a snarling corporo-fascist of the highest order. Under Saint O however you got the identical policies but with a mellifluous handsome liar to jive talk and hoodwink you into thinking he was something different. And it worked for so many people. But I knew the fix was in even before the inauguration: when he picked ‘Lil Timmy Geithner: the very man who was holding the reins on the criminal theft of $15 **trillion** (WSJs number, not mine).

                Shame. Shame. Shame. We’ll just get Trumps or worse until people and Dems wake up and own what they did in 2008: elected Black Bush.

            1. Skateman

              I didn’t answer immediately because I don’t spend all my damn time on the Internet! Many firms should have gone bankrupt. However, most of the bailouts, led by TARP, were in place before Obama. It should also be noted that a complete freezing of the financial system could have taken down many firms that should not have gone insolvent. So it was a difficult decision to be sure. But I can assure you that had the government done nothing and let the whole thing go to hell, you’d be a lot less happy than you are today.

              1. The Rev Kev

                Well that could have nationalized the banks that needed help, sent a team of accountants in to find the true status of each troubled bank, replaced the screw-up management and thrown into prison those guilty of criminal behavior (like during the S & L crisis), spun out the bad debts into a single entity to be liquidated over time to realize maximum value, recapitalized then the healthy banks to be sent out into the markets once more but with strict controls such as no exec bonuses until the government debt was repaid – stuff like that. Wall Street may have made a sad face but screw them if they can’t take a joke.

              2. drumlin woodchuckles

                Thanks for responding. And thanks for seeing if you could get away with changing the subject, in hopes that no one would notice. But it turns out that I noticed. Better luck next time.

                The subject was directly bailing out or otherwise saving the millions of people who were thrown into foreclosure for one reason or another. Directly bailing THEM out so that they could have served as a conduit to pass those funds along to the lenders ANYway . . . would have kept the lenders in bussiness AND the home-loosers in their homes. Doing that would not have been doing “nothing”. It would have been doing “something” very real and definite. And that “something” is the something you falsely claim upthread that we would have been “yelling” about.

                Since you had no answer to our responses, you try answering a faked-up response which none of us ever suggested, namely that our government do “nothing”.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            “And foreclosures? People bit off more house than they could chew. They got foreclosed on. That’s capitalism. If Obama had gone in and saved all these people you’d be yelling about how he bailed out a bunch of good-for-nothings.”

            We would? Actually, we wouldn’t. You would, though.

            The votes weren’t there for an FDR type program or single payer? Actually, Obama was very afraid that they were. That is why he very carefully worked the rackets to make sure the votes were never taken or called for. That is why he ( and Baucus) made very sure that single payer advocates were never permitted to speak in Congressional hearings on the subject. That is why he made very sure that no form of single payer would ever be voted on.

            Did you make money off the Obama years? You sure sound like someone who did.

            1. Skateman

              You seem to have amazing information about the inner workings of the Obama Administration. You must watch Fox News or something. They have all the answers and know everything, like you seem to. No, the votes weren’t there. The blue dogs were afraid of going along with anything remotely smelling of socialism. Why you think Obama wouldn’t have wanted single payer I have no idea. But nationalized Romney-care was the best he could do. And he had to use reconciliation just to pass that!

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                The workings of the Obama Administration weren’t “hidden” or “inner”.
                They were on notoriously adverse display for all to see.

                You know quite well why Obama didn’t want single payer. He wanted to prevent single payer in order to preserve the profit-yielding revenue streams going to Big Insura. And one of the reasons he wanted that , aside from his neo-liberal thatcher-reaganomics belief system, was to collect a big reward payday from Big Insura after leaving office, to go with the big payday ( “those big Tubmans” as he calls it) from Big Banka, Big IFTC, etc.

                Obama was Wall Street’s little lawn jockey.

                Oooh! Are you triggered yet?

                By the way, you think I watch Fox News. Hmmm . . . do I? Or don’t I? If you are correct, then you are on the way to crafting a robustly predictive theory of ” drumlin woodchuckles”. If you are incorrect, then your theory of “drumlin woodchuckles” will remain non-predictive. Which would be “not my problem”.

          3. Jim

            That’s not capitalism: that’s the failure of regulators to hold banks to the standards mandated by law, in this particular case limiting lending amounts to three times income and (if I recall correctly) at least 10% down. So if you were an honest bank (World Savings in Southern California, for example) who did not offer more than 3x income then you were simply starved for clients and you went away. Only the criminal survived.
            Re Obama: voted for TARP two weeks before the election despite large writing campaign against it. (Ditto McCain, which is why I didn’t vote for him either). NO ONE who voted FOR TARP and stood for re-election lost. It’s to the point where I really can’t blame the Corrupt for being the way they are anymore.

      3. Altandmain

        And yet, more wealthy people, on average, voted for Trump, which annihilates your entire premise.

        There was a huge shift from 2012 to 2016.

        More people with low income voted for Trump over Clinton compared to Obama vs Romney.


        That’s a substantial shift.

        I suppose that Clinton’s attempts to appeal to wealthy Republicans was partially successful.


        That can never make up though for the fact that she had alienated so many other people and accordingly she lost. Her failure to invest proper resources in the Midwest sealed it.

        As for the idea that Presidents have very little impact, I question that one too. Had Obama fought like a tiger for a New Deal on the scale that Roosevelt was able to pass, he would have had a HUGE impact on the economy.

        Obama was a decent, but not great President. What made him decent was that his every utterance wasn’t a complete embarrassment and stain on the reputation of the country.

        You seem to think that manners and speech giving skills count more than actual policy. Obama was a Wall Street owned politician. A very slick salesman no doubt, but still Wall Street owned.

        The fact that there wasn’t a New Deal, that we see the US still in many wars (indeed a few new wars), and the fact that the Wall Street executives are not in jail is what really matters. Not his speech giving skills.

        Trump may be a disaster, but that is due to his policies.

        1. Odysseus

          Had Obama fought like a tiger for a New Deal on the scale that Roosevelt was able to pass, he would have had a HUGE impact on the economy.

          I’m not so sure that he would have.

          The major chance to affect any change was 2009-2010 when the Democrats controlled all of the Presidency, Senate, and House. Once the Republican takeover was in place, they reflexively and resolutely opposed literally everything he said and did. And I do think that it was important that Obama not appear as an “angry black man” which would have made everything he said easier to dismiss. The grace and poise with which he took their insults enraged them all the more.

          Could the congressional losses have been avoided? Again, I’m less sure. The Tea Party wasn’t founded on truth. Pelosi and Reid seem to have been just as blind sided by the justifiable anger at their ineffectiveness and the unjustifiable anger that a Black Man won the election.

          1. Altandmain

            Had he did so right after taking office, the defeat of 2010 may have been different.

            He should have used his political capital to mobilize right after taking office. Alas he was owned by Wall Street.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            The voting majority who voted to make a Black Man President together with the people who voted to put the Black Man President’s party in charge of the House and Senate . . . did not have any anger that a Black Man won the election.

            Obama and the Dems had the power to legislate some things and administrate some things to the American majority’s advantage. That Obama chose deliberately on purpose to collaborate with the Republicans under cover of “bipartisanship” to prevent these changes from being made is entirely Obama’s fault, and Obama’s double-crossing treachery. For which people like me will try to keep him and his evil deeds remembered so that his reputation will live in infamy.

            He can try getting away with ” the Republicans wouldn’t let him do it”. Those who remember who did what during those first two Golden Moment years will try to stop him from getting away with that deceitful pretense.

      4. VietnamVet

        Presidents have vast influence; especially on foreign policy – not only wars, but also sanctions and now tariffs. It is deep-sixed by corporate media but Barrack Obama has had a huge adverse impact on the best interests of America. Besides 7 million Americans who lost their homes to foreclosure, he overthrew Gaddafi, supported Jihadists in Syria; and drone bombed Muslims. He is directly responsible for the refugee influx that is ripping apart Europe. He supported the coup against the elected government of Ukraine that restarted the Cold War. The crash of Turkish lira today is an outcome of his failed coup against Recep Tayyip Erdogan that threw Turkey into the arms of Russia. Donald Trump was elected President because of Barrack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

        1. Skateman

          I’m stoked that Republicans are now against droning Muslims! It only took a Democratic president who doesn’t look like you to help you all see the light. Of course, voting for a guy who suggested killing their families was a strange way to protest your newfound pacifism.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I note that you call VietnamVet a Republican. I also note that you have no answer to any of the Obamaquestions he raised, so you use a diversionary insult and some changing-of-the-subject snark instead.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            “It only took a Democratic president who doesn’t look like you to help you all see the light.”

            I also note you playing the race card in hopes of shaming a challenger into silence. Of course, you don’t actually know what VietnamVet, or me, or any of the rest of us looks like.
            But such knowledge is not necessary when “race” is just a card to be played for rhetorical and diversionary subject-changing advantage.

            1. Skateman

              Let Vietnam Vet speak for himself, if he is so inclined. I’m fascinated that Republicans are now against droning Muslims! I’d love to know what changed their mind!

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Are there any Republicans who are against droning Muslims? Do you have their names? Can you offer us links to statements of theirs opposing droning Muslims?

                1. WobblyTelomeres

                  I had a discussion with one. He prefers napalm (he dropped napalm on Vietnam, 27 missions, F-104, quite proud of it).

                  Don’t think that is quite what you had in mind, though.

                  1. drumlin woodchuckles

                    No, that is not what I had in mind. I had in mind Skateman’s sarcastic not-really-believed-in claim that Republicans have decided that we should not drone Muslims or do anything else “death-from-above” to Muslims either.

                    So I decided to test the deceitful nature of skateman’s troll-claims by asking if he can name any specific Republicans who have indeed said we should not drone Muslims or death-from-above Muslims in any other way either.

        2. John k

          The first two, pelosi didn’t have much to do with it, but then her job is just to distribute donations to her deserving peers… and, of course, keep progressives from power.

      5. Mo's Bike Shop

        What made him decent was that his every utterance wasn’t a complete embarrassment and stain on the reputation of the country.


        Thank you for participating.

    4. PKMKII

      I don’t see the Trump presidency as Obama’s biggest stain on his legacy regarding electoral politics. That we got to the point where a Trump won the presidency is something that is the fault of many different individuals and institutions, including Obama but not mainly him.

      Rather, it’s the drastic fall in the number of senate, congressional, state and local positions held by Democrats. Ironically given his “one America” rhetoric, the DNC under his leadership stopped caring about running competitive elections in so-called flyover country and allowed the party and its associated institutions to become an incestous graft run by the DC consultants, for the DC consultants, with winning elections a secondary concern.

      1. Altandmain

        I would argue that had Obama passed a second version of the New Deal, the Republicans would never have made the gains in so many Congressional and State legislatures that they did.

        1. Darius

          Obama and the Democrats needed to make big headway on unemployment in 2009/2010. Instead, Obama focused on bank recovery and a corporate welfare health plan. The recession was inconvenient because it got in the way of privatizing Social Security and Medicare, and institutionalizing austerity.

          In this he was a failure on his own terms. Although he was great for billionaires.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            But he did immunize and impunify the FIRE sector perpetrators and the CheneyBush sector torturers and aggressive-war-starting criminals against humanity. And he did make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent. So those are two Obama successes in Obama’s own terms. And if he shall in the end be proven to have prevented Single Payer for several decades to come by so poisoning the well against any re-consideration of how we pay for medical care and health care and for whom; then that will have been an Obama success in Obama’s own terms too.

            The best measure of Obama’s success in Obama’s own terms will be the amount of money he is paid by his grateful owners and sponsors in the decades to come for his service to the Private Overclass.

    1. Olga

      Just looking at it – while it may seem like a tempting comparison, the reality is very different. USA is nothing like what USSR used to be – USA is much more brutal, violent, and predatory. (Although I do believe that “you become what you fear” is sometimes true.) Life was affordable in the USSR, even though consumer goods were often scarce (this got progressively worse). But people had food, places to live (no threat of bankruptcy, foreclosure, unemployment), free health care and education, and vacations. USSR was not a paradise, but tendentious articles like this one only pretend to offer serious analysis. They muddy the waters and do not really help to understand the situation either in the USSR or USA.

      1. Carey

        From reading your comments in the past, I think that you have more
        knowledge on this topic than I do, and your points are well taken.

      2. Bill Smith

        How many people do the Russians say died in Stalin purges? 2.9 million? How many people were exiled or went into the gulag? 21 million?

        I think the US has a little way to go in some of those areas you mention.

        1. pretzelattack

          how many people died during the vietnam war? iraq wars? how many people has the u.s. imprisoned? how many japanese went into internment camps? oh wait, it has to be americans my bad, our little foreign adventures don’t count.

        2. Chris

          I think the US has a little way to go in some of those areas you mention.

          Oh, I dunno. You USians managed a pretty comprehensive job with your First Nations folk. As did we Aussies with ours…

  2. L

    With respect to China there have been other concern signs of late such as their sudden, and relatively unremarked, decision to curtail foreign fund transfers. Previously travelers could take 50,000 RMB ($7,800) now they can only take 10,000 ($1,400) even for long-term travelers like students. They have also had some worrisome shifts in their business sector as party liners have gained control of some big private companies like Anbang.

    1. HotFlash

      Previously travelers could take 50,000 RMB

      Forgive stupid question, but this would be for travelers *out* of China?

      1. L

        Yeah my bad I should have specified. Their primary concern of course being capital flight. This flight being the latent explanation behind Canada and now Austrailia’s housing bubbles.

        1. Wukchumni

          When my mom sold her house in the SGV region of L.A., 3 years ago, we were talking to her realtor and I asked if the domicile would sell in the usual way, to a Chinese cash buyer?

          Every other house in the vicinity had sold in that fashion, as a Buddhist temple was less than a mile away. One neighbor was a Chinese movie star agent, to give you an idea of the popularity of the area.

          Our realtor told us, that was then-this is now. @ the time China had recently only allowed $50k U.S. out of the country per person, and if you had say 3 family members, maybe you could cough up $200k, but that doesn’t buy anything in SoCal, and as if a bank here would give a loan to a Chinese national, ha ha.

          The realtor related that his chief competition were a few one-trick-pony Chinese-American lady realtors, who using their lexicon & heritage connections, had previously been quite the challenge, but the PRC aced them out, as he cackled a bit.

          One thing about the Chinese, they are incrementalists, as evidenced by the recycling episode now playing out.

          The first step was the Green Fence Law in 2013, followed by an outright ban this January, a different sort of 5-Year-Plan, to be sure.

  3. flora

    Re: KS gov. Reuters report is confusing the state AG’s office with the SoS office. The AG’s office has been nominated as a neutral arbiter in this case.

    A bit more from Slate.

    And who can forget that Kobach has a history of promoting what can only be called ‘voter suppression’ laws. In KS he was ordered by a federal judge not enforce to proof-of-citizenship voter registration law while the court weighed its legality , and to pay the ACLU’s reasonable legal fees. He refused to obey the judge’s direct order; was found in contempt of court (April 2018) and ordered to pay a fine. Now Koback wants to use the state’s tax dollars pony up (using tax dollars) to pay his legal fees. *

    * https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/judge-holds-kris-kobach-contempt-court-disobeying-order-voting-rights-n867261

    1. flora

      adding: the WC’s ‘KS. Gov’ para has underlined words and phrases but they don’t have live links associated. Were they supposed to have news links? just curious.

    2. curlydan

      “In Johnson County in the Kansas City area, results were delayed by problems with uploading data from new voting machines”

      I used these machines. They are new and confusing (naturally) although they do have the one and possibly only virtue of having a voter verifiable paper ballot backup for each vote.

      On the other hand from what I’ve read, the electronic results are stored on a USB stick and then taken to the Board of Elections.

      These were also the machines that held up the results overnight of the KS-03 Democratic Primary aka Brent Welder (Bernie) vs Sharice Davids (Emily’s List, DCCC)

        1. katiebird

          That’s what I said to the Poll Worker as he explained it to me…. “I wish we could just put the paper in a ballot box after I’ve proofread it.” I got a glazed look in reply…

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            My experience in my last election was similar, at least the glazed eyes part. We had paper ballots (the ranked choice voting was really easy) but new scanners, and by each scanner was somebody from the town office to make sure we inserted the ballot properly! So much for the secrecy of the ballot…

            1. Aleric

              Strange, we also have the ballot scanners, but the ballots go in with the major election side facing down, and we are given a manila folder to carry it from the booth to the scanner.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                That sounds like a version of what we have. The helper-guy can make sure we are inserting it right without being able to see any of our marks.

              2. Octopii

                Sounds like my town just outside of DC. The poll workers are from the community and nice, but they know nothing. I once spotted a gentleman loading boxes of ballots into the trunk of a city car outside the board of elections office next to city hall. I started taking photos with my phone and asking what he was doing, and he got pretty indignant. Said he was transporting mail-in ballots to some other location, so I got in my car and followed for a few blocks as far as I could – he knew I was behind him and I figured he might call the cops so I bailed. One thing is certain, getting huffy about loading boxes of ballots in a trunk and driving off is never a good look.

            2. JTMcPhee

              I’d suggest a clause should be added to the mantra: paper ballots hand-marked in private in a public place…

            3. drumlin woodchuckles

              In Ann Arbor, Michigan, we make ink marks on paperboard ballots which are held in sleeves with the tip sticking out for insertion into the OptiScan machine. When inserted properly, the OptiScan grabs the ballot from out of its protectively cover-upping sleeve and sucks it into itself. The attendant can make sure we are inserting it correctly without being able to see any of our marks.

              Were your ballots rendered totally visible through the careful with-holding of any such vision-blocking sleeve?

              1. JTMcPhee

                And is that sleeve a guarantee of the sanctity of the ballot? Once it goes into the OptiScan, that is? Rhetorical question, of course.

                And of course the choices we have, of candidates who get on the ballot by the “democratic” actions of our Free Country are just so well-chosen and honestly too…

                Sort of rotten, all the way down.

                1. drumlin woodchuckles

                  It is a guarantee against the poll-worker seeing your ballot choices right then and there, which was the narrow concern raised in the comment I answered.

                  It is no guarantee of anything after that. But the marked paperboard ballots would have to be overtly physically destroyed in order to erase their existence. Whereas a digifraudulent election leaves no traces to even be suspected of being preserved or destroyed to begin with.

                  The cleanest system would of course be analog marked physical ballots counted by hand by scrutineers.

            1. JTMcPhee

              Or too young to know what “ballot box stuffing” was? Just a reminder that in Chicago and many places, hand-marked paper ballots, even hand counted “in public,” do not an honest election make. Even aside from the process that puts candidates and issues on the ballot. A fun read:


              And for how it was done in the good old days, there’s this: “Chicago And Rigged Elections? The History Is Even Crazier Than You’ve Heard”


              “Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything.” Supposedly said by Joe Stalin.

        2. clarky90

          We have hand counted paper ballots in New Zealand. The election results are announced the night of election day, unless they are too close to call, recounts etc.

          I do not recall any controversy about the sanctity of the election results.

          The very best part; people accept the results and carry on with their lives, no matter how “bad” (not how I voted) the choice of my fellows. (We have had some absolute stinkers as our government!)

      1. flora

        adding: if you wonder why the civil service was created in the first place ….

        Kendall Marr, a spokesman for the governor, said he wasn’t comfortable putting the election in the hands of an at-will employee who could be fired by Kobach at any time.

        Kobach’s top assistant has already censured by the KS Supreme Court in 2010 (when he worked for then KS AG Phil Kline) for misleading it in an inquiry.

  4. L

    I have to say I was surprised to not see this Yves Smith on Why We Didn’t See the 2008 Crash Coming on the site. I liked the pointed insights: “The crisis itself was the greatest looting of the public purse in history.”

    The issue also includes an interview with Bannon Steve Bannon on How 2008 Planted the Seed for the Trump Presidency which also gets to his point: “So write down, the match got lit that led to November 9th at 2:30 in the morning when Donald Trump was named president of the United States.”

      1. Carey

        I thought there was a lot of meat to that Bannon interview, even if the
        interviewer was lobbing him softballs. After “the Wall Street stuff will
        come”, it was more Bannon talking his book, but still a lot there.
        Thanks for posting the link.

    1. False Solace

      The Bannon interview is incredible. Quotes:

      You have to understand something, shipmate: Progressive Democrats on Wall Street are not populists. They want to throw you a few bones on social issues, that I think are kind of marginal, to cover the economic issues. Just look at it.

      You’ve got to go for Wall Street hammer and tong. I’m a big believer in Glass-Steagall. I think you’ve gotta go up and break up these money-center banks.

      And of course:

      All blue-collar company guys, firemen, [family blog] like that. We’re just average people and they love Donald Trump. You know why? He’s the first guy to tell the Establishment to go [family blog] themselves. And we’re just in the beginning stages, and that’s why right-wing populism’s gonna win, because the left wing, you’re a bunch of [family bloggers].

      The real reason the right-wing populists win is because the rich always choose fascists over leftists.

      I’m trying to turn the Republican Party into a worker-based party. Because in a worker-based party, you can control the United States of America.

      1. David Carl Grimes

        Bannon also talked about a lot of stuff discussed in NC:

        1) Maximization of Shareholder Value:

        When I got to Harvard Business School in 1983, a bunch of professors were coming up with a radical idea that’s had a horrible negative consequence on this country and to the fabric of our society: the maximization of shareholder value; this was preached as High Church theology. The whole thing of the financialization of Wall Street, of looking at people as pure commodities and of outsourcing and globalization, came from the business schools and the financial community that had these radical ideas, and nobody kept them in check.

        2) Restructuring of Wall Street

        We go into Goldman Sachs, everybody, every partner, every guy — zero. You’re wiped out. Just like we’d do any deal at Goldman Sachs. I wipe out all the equity. I’m getting rid of Lloyd Blankfein and Gary Cohn. But the guys that follow them, they can make beaucoup dollar after my money’s paid back and the company’s successful, just like every transaction we do. You should have done that across corporate America and every bank.

        3) No Prosecutions of Wall Street

        Of all the criminal referrals that came out of the thing, where are the fucking guilty? Where’s the accountability of the 200 criminal referrals made by Eric Holder’s Justice Department? Now Holder works for Covington & Burling. The biggest white-collar criminals, they’re all Burling clients. It’s a scam. It’s a total scam.

        It’s almost as if he reads NC on a daily basis.

  5. Arizona Slim

    Okay, so I’m a coworker. I’ll get that out of the way right now. Looked at two coworking spaces before settling on this one. Oh, yeah, one minor detail: The other two places went out of business.

    So, today we have an article on coworking spaces for women. Here’s a sample paragraph:

    Then there are the questions around the way the club markets its quippy brand of Instagrammable feminism: Wing merch currently includes a pale-pink “internet herstory” baseball cap and a “no-man-icure” and “sharpen your claws” emery-board set. “I think a lot of women have been skeptical of the Wing, like ‘What is this millennial-pink feminism actually going to do for us?’ ” says actress Hari Nef, also a founding member. “But if you look closely at who is showing up, it puts those anxieties to rest.” She means people like Valerie Jarrett and the feminist writer Jessica Valenti, who speaks to me from the Wing Dumbo. “I feel like feminism is the only social-justice movement where the aesthetic of it comes into question,” she says. “Can you imagine someone in the environmental movement being like ‘This is too green’?”

    To which I say:

    I don’t think I’d fit in at that place. I mean, come on. Where are the TVs that are tuned to ESPN and Fox Sports? Those are a fixture around here.

    Oh, yes, Yours Truly loves sports. Hey, did I ever mention that my father’s father was a sportswriter? And that I used the World Cup coverage as an opportunity to practice Russian?

    Here’s another deal breaker: No beer tap. What fun is that? Yes, I know. The beer dispensing system here isn’t working right now, and we beer nerds are really sad about that, but we’ll survive.

    Finally, the truth: Most of the membership is male, but that’s another reason why I like this place. I like how guys take action and get things done. They don’t just sit around and talk-talk-talk like so many women I know.

    1. curlydan

      That Vogue article was a light read for the most part, but watch out for the occasional minefield. One minute you’re breezing along Paris streets with fashionable young ladies, the next comes a name dropped mind-exploder complete with approving quote….Cecile Richards (Wing member!), Tina Brown (hell yes a Wing member), Valerie Jarrett (Wing member!). And diversity consultants added to the mix.

      Luckily, we’re at the Water Cooler and not the morning coffee.

  6. Watt4Bob

    Minnesota’s DFL might as well be the capital of Pantsuit Nation, and that is embarrassing, considering the historic roots of the DFL brand, (democratic Farmer-Labor Party)

    They’ve lost the Farmers, (MN-01) and Labor (MN-08) and seem oblivious to the opportunity clearly presenting itself, to retake those constituencies.

    Republicans have had made ever increasing gains by reinforcing the perception, (true, or not) that the DFL has ignored out-state Minnesotans, and focuses only on folks in the Twin Cities, and by that they mean minorities, gays and women.

    Listening to farmers interviewed at Minnesota’s Farm-Fest this week on MPR, seems to indicate that our out-state/rural population is willing to exercise a lot of patience with Trump’s policies, and considering how little the democrats have delivered, I can’t blame them.

    Just wait until the minorities, gays, and women come to realize how little the DFL is doing for them other than spouting platitudes, and the Republicans will figure out how to steal their support too.

    1. Fellow Minnesotan

      Just waiting for the Republicans to realize how much businesses and corporations would save under a single payer healthcare system…they do that and even the Twin Cities are theirs.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s it. The Republicans just need to run a candidate who isn’t a boor and do one, smart, populist thing and the country is theirs. Same with the Democrats, replacing “boor” with the characteristic of your choice.

        1. BoyDownTheLane

          It would be interesting to see a video or text-based discussion of this issue featuring Charlie Baker, Republican Governor of Massachusetts and a top-level representative from Tufts Health Plan. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charlie_Baker “… In 1991, he became Massachusetts undersecretary of health and human services under Governor Bill Weld. In 1992, he was appointed secretary of health and human services of Massachusetts…. After working in government for eight years, Baker left to become CEO of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates and later Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, a non-profit health benefits company.”



        2. Richard

          All they need to do is just give us something. Anything, really. Of course the problems with that are:
          Republicans are neoliberals too.
          If government starts working in any meaningful way we might have hope break out, which leads to democracy, and we can’t have that can we?

      2. Watt4Bob


        So, if the democrats can’t see the opportunity, they should at least understand the threat.

  7. Summer

    Re: China/Trade
    “China is still far from prepared for an economic confrontation with the US because China is much more dependent on US demand than the other way round, and it would only hurt itself if it were to take a hardline stance. Instead, China should be more focused on its own development and reforming the domestic economy.”

    Fascinating that 1 billion + Chinese can’t pick up the hyper-consumer slack .
    In the realm of consumerism, Americans may be truly exceptional.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There may be hundreds of millions of Daodejing and Art of War readers in China who understand water, being soft, wears away rock.

      They may want to dump Xi, unless Xi becomes less hardened.

      The original mistake – don’t make yourself a target (with grandiose proclamations of One Belt One Road, and Made in China 2025) – it is too late to say he shouldn’t have done so.

      1. Summer

        That all may be part of it. I haven’t read any political polling in China.

        But just think: With all the numbers about China’s economic growth and China is the majority of economic growth among developing countries, they can’t pick up the consumer slack from a trade war that really barely started.

      2. John k

        deng Advocated just that, and his advice held as the successors he picked came and went. Xi thinks China is in a strong enough position to win a trade war, doesn’t know the importer can’t lose, the exporter runs out of tits for tat, as we see.
        But hard to make switch to boost household sector, it means slashing subsidies to soe’s… not only do you gore party controlled oxen, it means pushing millions into the streets… and these long term workers think they’ve got iron rice bowls, won’t go quietly like those working for smaller private factories that anyway don’t have the right to live where they’ve been working.
        No country has made this switch without deep recession. And that would cost Xi his job, and maybe neck.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        One Belt to rule them all
        One Road to find them
        One Dream to bring them all
        And in the Darkness bind them.

  8. Whoa Molly!

    > “A Stanford University psychologist’s elegant three-step method for creating new habits”

    Fogg’s method really works. I learned it, and use it all the time.

    Fogg teaches it for free online as part of his research at Stanford.

    You can learn how to create new habits online here:

  9. Wukchumni

    Greeting from greater Fuegofornia…

    Took my 11 & 13 year old nephews on their 1st backpack trip to beautiful White Chief Canyon in Mineral King, and everything went so perfect from first step to last, there was a herd of perhaps 15-20 deer including several young fawns hanging around our camp there, snowball fights in August, spelunking in the myriad of caves and the mine, going from being too warm outside-to being on the chilly side, inside.

    Best of all, no smoke in the higher climes, as the Central Valley is being choked with it, down under.


  10. Carolinian

    Sending fish to China to be breaded, seasoned, portioned or packaged has grown recently, as domestic seafood-processing plants faced high costs and labor shortages.

    So if I buy some Alaska origin fish fillets they get sent off to China for additional melamine seasoning? That’s just great.

    Not that this would be unusual (kidding–??–about the melamine). I believe most microwave popcorn packets are now processed in China. And most Tilapia frozen fillets are openly labeled as China fish farm origin. Plus who knows how many of our drugs now come from China.

    Still I wonder how many consumers know that we are lately eating Chinese food–literally.

    1. JerryB

      A while back I watched a documentary called Of The Sea: Fisherman, Seafood, and Sustainability. It is available on Amazon online or on Roku. It was very informative. Towards the end of the film they mention a few examples of fish being caught on the Pacific Coast of the US, frozen, and shipped to China for processing, etc., and then shipped back here again. Call me naive but I could not believe what I heard. It seemed very inefficient and environmentally harmful with all the shipping involved. I recommend watching the film as it showed the issues facing the fishing industry and the impacts of supply chains.

      They also mentioned that some cheap fish that were caught were shipped to Europe for processing and packaging and shipped back here to be sold as chopped Cod in a can. It wasn’t Cod but just passed off as cod.

      It would be interesting if someone did a series of investigative journalism on the extent of the global supply chain from planes and freighters to ground transport just to expose the waste and multiple back and forths of the supply chain logistics.

      1. Carolinian

        Thanks for the tip. Of course US food processors have plenty of problems with bacterial contamination and other issues but China has a known history of food adulteration that is concerning. There really was a past scandal involving melamine plastic and, I believe, farmed fish. Recent stories say that the Chinese president is now under attack due to a company selling fake vaccines.

        1. blennylips

          > US food processors have plenty of problems with bacterial contamination .. China has a known history of food adulteration

          And then there is Indonesia:

          Four of Indonesia’s rivers rank among the 20 most polluted in the world.

          This means the country is the second-largest contributor to marine plastic pollution after China

          Millions in Indonesia are eating fibres from used DIAPERS: Plastics from nappies dumped in the River Brantas are being passed up the food chain from fish to humans, warn scientists

          80% of fish examined were found to have ingested plastic fibres from diapers

          These included a number of keting and rengking fish, which are eaten by locals

          Half a metric ton of diapers are dumped into Indonesia’s River Brantas each year

          Nappies break down in the sun into microscopic pieces that are easily swallowed

          Any wonder I gave up all food from the sea a few years ago?

    2. HotFlash

      Buy ’em fresh, bread ’em yourself. I buy frozen (unbreaded — naked?) from First Nations fisheries, a good option if you have it.

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Check out the jarred, chopped garlic at your local grocer, guarantee it came from China.
        Another example is a motorcycle carburetor from the Japanese manufacturer goes for 150-200 plus shipping, a Chinese knockoff 50 with free shipping.
        Seems the material alone would be that much, let alone manufacturing, machining and shipping.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And it will be, once the Chinese predatory pricers can exterminate the Japanese manufacturer by selling Chinese knockoffs for $50 with free shipping. Once the Japanese manufacturer has been exterminated, then the Chinese knockoff maker can raise the price of its knock-offs to 150-200 plus shipping. And they will still be Chinese knockoffs. That’s the plan, anyway.

          Can you get the Chinese knockoff on Amazon? How very appropriate if you can.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        That’s why the US should withdraw from WTO. So that it wouldn’t be against the Law to say where a food item came from.

    3. Whoa Molly!

      Pacific Seafood is a west coast company that sells frozen fish direct to consumers.


      They run a refrigerated truck up and down the coast of California. (Didnt ask about Oregon to British Columbia)

      It parks in front of grocery stores on the route for a few days at each store. customers walk through the refrigerated truck and choose from a dozen or so varieties and cuts of fish.

      I saw their truck in parking lot of my local IGA grocery store. Bought some very nice cod, squid and halibut at good price. Their website doesnt appear to advertise this rolling service, but its been in operation for several years.

      1. Whoa Molly!

        As I remember, the guy selling me fish told me that they are a collective of fishermen. Fish is flash frozen and sold direct through their trucks.

        None of the fish I saw looked like it had been processed ‘post catch’. Might be why prices were so reasonable for pretty good cuts.

        I only mention this ‘relatively local’ company because–if the story is accurate–it seemed like a novel way to get west coast (CA, Oregon, Washington, BC) catch direct to consumers.

    4. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the fish is caught “here”, it should be breaded and seasoned “here”. Not “somewhere else”.

      The American fish-food-product sellers fear they would get “hooked and sunk”? No. They fear the loss of their differential costs arbitrage rackets. Let the price of processed fish-food-product go up, The upness-part will be paid to fish-food-product processing workers HERE, as it was in the old days. Those workers HERE will then have money to spend HERE on other goods and services made HERE by other people who work HERE.

      Race-neutral and eth-neutral Trumpism without the racism and culturism and nastiness could be a real winner. What would it look like? Kind of like SanderSocial Democracy in One Country.

  11. fresno dan

    So I see a documentary last night
    Abacus, Small Enough to Jail
    It is about the only bank prosecuted for mortgage fraud stemming from the 2008 unpleasantness…

    So, knowing that there is always a point of view, and it is just human nature to paint one side as the bad guys and the other side as the good, I tried very hard to understand the point of the view of the prosecutor, Cyrus Vance Jr. Sure, I guffawed when he said that if someone steals 5$ and than puts it back in your pocket, it is still a crime.
    A good portion of the crime were attributed to falsifying loan applications, and that appears valid. The film did make the point of distinguishing between lying to get a loan and REALLY paying it off to have a house, VERSUS lying to get a loan to run a scam.
    But when I learned that 9 loans had defaulted out of 3,000 – that’s when I got curious. First, the documentarian should have made a much bigger deal out of that. What is the normal rate of default on home loans? What is the rate of home loan defaults backed by Countrywide?
    This was a lot more difficult to find out (well, I saw the movie last night) As far as I could find out

    So round off the 9 defaults to 10 by Abacus out of 3,000 – that is 1 in 300 or about 0.3%
    A low default rate is, depending on how you define default versus delinquent apparently is about 3%
    And than listening to Cyrus Vance Jr. made me apoplectic. Cause not only was the coward to cowardly to go after the big banks, Vance went after a tiny bank….to what end? To make himself look like someone concerned with bank fraud?
    Swamps of New York….

    1. JohnnyGL


      And…irony of ironies…Abacus was the name of a program of CDOs that Goldman used to short (and help clients short) the housing market.

      Of course, Yves has covered all this in her book from quite a few years ago!

      Oh, and to answer your question….some of the subprime slime mortgages has default rates north of 40%! Bill Black has also written extensively on the fraud by mortgage lenders, underwriters, ratings agencies, and other major players in the industry.

      1. fresno dan

        August 10, 2018 at 4:12 pm

        Oh, and to answer your question….some of the subprime slime mortgages has default rates north of 40%!

        Thanks for that! Oh, and somehow, no crimes could be found at the big banks….well, actually, some government officials were out front about it – we don’t prosecute the rich.
        It still makes my blood boil. And I bet NOBODY has gotten over it.

        1. johnnygl

          If you look at those numbers from the post the other day on wealth position of the bottom 50%, you’ll see that there’s lots of company with you. The way the crisis was handled caused a massive upward transfer of wealth. The income numbers alone don’t really show the whole story.

        2. polecat

          Yes, and lo and behold, several of those ‘government officials’ want us to choose one of them for our vote in 2020 …
          !@$#&%* scum !!

    2. foghorn longhorn

      His father was SoS under Carter.
      At least he didn’t have a private email server to avoid the FOIA.

      1. pretzelattack

        the father seemed like a pretty good sos. opponent of brzezinski and scoop jackson, negotiated the panama canal treaty, urged reform on the shah of iran.

        1. Richard

          Probably the best SoS we’ve ever had, at least measured by sanity and genuine concern for humanity. Granted, I’m not exactly an expert of SoSs :^, but seriously, who was better? Was George Marshall SoS? Maybe him.

  12. BoyDownTheLane

    In re: “Slick treats the “intelligence community” and the media as if they were two separate institutions“, any lengthy book read* on the Kennedy Assassinations will demonstrate that the intel community and the media are joined at the hip, then as now. Then, it was the Luce media empire and the use of “Fortune” magazine at the height of the steel crisis; today, it is the high-tech media’s un-personing or avox-ing of InfoWars and Jones. Then, the Luce media empire, the Dulles brothers, many in the Kennedy administration and others, were linked through the Skull and Bones cabal. Today, Microsoft, Apple and others can be seen as extensions of the NSA and our surveillance world; Amazon is a prime contractor of the intel community, and WaPo (formerly the major pipe in the Mighty Wurlitzer) is now owned by Bezos. The parallels between the power of Dulles and the intel community and what they did to Kennedy and the power of the current Justice/intel coimmunity and what they hope to do to Trump are there for you to see. The forces behind them that so demonstrably show that neither the POTUS nor the people run this country can discerned by reading these and similar books*:

    “JFK and the Unspeakable”, James Douglass
    “The Devil’s Chessboard”, David Talbot
    “Perfectibilists”, Terry Melanson
    “Fleshing Out Skull and Bones”, ed. by Kris Millegan (paying special attention, with fine-line Scripto and thin highliter in hand, to the appenxix that lsits all the members and their short biographies after graduation)

  13. Linden S.

    I have never read anything on the insurance industry starting to price in the cost of heatwaves. If they hadn’t already been researching it, I would guess that research will start in earnest with the heatwaves out West and across Europe this summer.

    One interesting line of insurance/climate research is on increasing hail damage. Here is a pretty good, short article on it. There is no climate signal for increasing hailstorms, but increasing numbers of houses, houses in dangerous locations, and the costs of re-roofing have made hail damages increase quickly. It is likely that severe weather (particularly hail + high winds) will increase in frequency and severity going into the future, particularly in the Central U.S., so eventually there will be a climate signal on top of the expanded-housing signal.

    1. Wukchumni

      Caves are very effective @ cooling, and basements make for a good ersatz example of one, and here in California there might be 37 basements in the entire state-as it’s an East Coast thing, we wouldn’t understand, I suppose.

      I’d mandate that to beat climate change when it hurls the high heat and the grid goes down too often as a consequence, that all new dwellings built here, have a basement.

      1. Carolinian

        There are probably quite a few earth sheltered houses, a popular idea back in hippie times. Constructing cave like insulation around your house does create dampness issues so as with geodesic domes there are practical disadvantages.

      2. audrey jr

        I used to be the proud owner of one of those 37 basements present in California.
        Had a home in Hesperia in the “good” part of town there known as “The Mesa.”
        It was a lovely 1960 custom built home just south of the Country Club/Golf Course there.
        Got priced out of the homeowner market when I sold.
        Sure do wish I had made the decision to not sell. I really miss that home on 1.5 acres.

      3. Lemmy Caution

        The ancient Persians had their Yakhchāls — evaporative coolers that could make ice and store food in the desert. Many that were built hundreds of years ago remain standing. In present-day Iran, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, the term yakhchāl is also used to refer to modern household (and commercial) refrigerators.

      4. fresno dan

        August 10, 2018 at 4:04 pm


        This guy started this in the 1900’s, LONG before any kind of air conditioning. Yet it never caught on. I find it astounding that people would rather be above ground in the heat, instead of being a few feet underground to escape Fresno heat. Perplexing…
        Even sleeping outside isn’t much of an escape – it doesn’t get into the 70’s until well, well past midnight

  14. Clive

    Re: “Buy Bitcoin With a Credit Card”

    (or not…)

    A lot of mainstream card issuers have excluded Bitcoin merchants from the list of those which they’ll accept payment acquiring from.

    Link here https://www.express.co.uk/finance/city/914623/Bitcoin-price-why-BTC-falling-today-cryptocurrency-news-value-crash-latest-blockchain (sorry, yes, it’s the Express, apologies, best I could find without faffing around delocalising search, but there is a not-bad fact-to-blather ratio; confirms the position, anyway).

  15. anon

    Re: “A Guide to the Evangelical Celebrities and Pastors Dominating Hollywood”

    Hopefully they’ll do a second piece on the evangelist – Rick Warren’s [Free Markets!] Purpose Driven Life™ styled — church ‘planting/seeding’ in Silicon Valley, which has been going on for over ten years now, and even seems to have infected San Francisco in recent years.

    The churches feature: recently arrived from another state; handsome (always, not a ‘blemish’ to be found!); freshly scrubbed; white married couples in their twenties. The male is always the sole pastor, the couple have at least one — but usually at least two — babies, and they miraculously afford to rent 2 bedroom —or more — apartments in Silicon Valley, on a very young pastor’s salary.

  16. Big River Bandido

    From Michael Graham of CBS: “Yes, Democrats are +6, but there’s still a third of races where we don’t yet know candidates,” Brady said. Once there’s a candidate, there will be a target—and that will likely tighten up the polls…”

    The same holds true on the Democrat side of the aisle. The “party’s” chances in November are related to the nominations battle playing out in the primaries. The more the DCCC choses the candidates, the less likely a “blue wave” in the fall. The same monotone neoliberal platitudes will never again be able to rouse working people to the polls — too many are wise to that game.

  17. clarky90

    Re- Our Famously Free Press

    The beginnings of a “Blue Purge” of the traditional Left AND Right Wing Press.

    “The Take Down of Alex Jones- Why This Is a Big Issue”

    More from the Talking Cat

    My 23 yo son thinks that “free speech” is conditional. It is not. Young people have been methodically indoctrinated.

    Decree on Suppression of Hostile Newspapers
    “General Rules on the Press.
    1. The following organs of the press shall be subject to be closed: (a) those inciting to open resistance or disobedience towards the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government; (b) those sowing confusion by means of an obviously calumniatory perversion of facts; (c) those inciting to acts of a criminal character punishable by the penal laws…..”


  18. Big River Bandido

    Wow, that story on the West Virginia House impeaching the remaining 4 justices of its Supreme Court is ree-ricious! It’s a quick must-read!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This seems to be the latest from a local source:

      Farrell sworn into WV Supreme Court; justices dissent appointment to impeachment Charleston Gazette-Mail

      Workman, Davis, Walker and Loughry are the subjects of articles of impeachment that were adopted Monday by the West Virginia House of Delegates Judiciary Committee.

      The articles accuse all four justices of failing to uphold their oaths of office by failing to establish and maintain policies to prevent the abuse of state resources, including money, vehicles, furniture and computers.


      Delegate Mike Pushkin, D-Kanawha, also suggested the nature of grouping all of the justices into one set of articles of impeachment appeared to be an attempt to allow Republican Gov. Jim Justice an opportunity to appoint four of the five Supreme Court justices for at least two years on the bench.

      Pushkin originally drafted a resolution to initiate impeachment proceedings in February. At the time, Senate President Mitch Carmichael said it was a political stunt, and the resolution didn’t gain traction.

      “Now, I see an effort to capitalize on this entire affair by taking out an entire branch of government and replacing it through appointments,” Pushkin said.

      And NPR:

      The full House is slated to vote on the impeachment articles next Monday; if approved, they would then move to the Senate. The next step would be for the Senate to hold a trial.

      As for how the bench would be filled if any justices are removed or resign, Dave Mistich of West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports that next Tuesday, Aug. 14, is the deadline for arranging a special election for November. After that, it would fall to the governor to appoint any new justices.

      Because Ketchum retired well before the deadline, his seat is up for a special election this fall.

      The timing of Tuesday’s vote to approve the impeachment articles — after a month of hearings, and one week before the Aug. 14 deadline — was quickly criticized by Democrats.

      “It’s a coup,” said Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, a Democrat who is the judiciary committee’s minority chair. She added, “They dragged this out all summer long, and suddenly they put this on the agenda.”

    2. flora

      This is very interesting because in KS there used to be “3” parties: conservative Reps, moderate Reps, and Dems. In the last 8-10 years there seems to be “4” parties: conservative Reps, moderate Reps, Dems, and far right Reps (including, imo, Brownback, Kobach, Kline, and other local notables). The big difference between the traditional conservative Reps and the far right Reps, imo, is the far right has been attacking the KS Supreme Court directly: threatening to defund the court unless it gets decisions the far right approves, changing the way the SC nominees are selected (less independent and impartial ABA input); various state elected officers censured and fined for lying to the Court, for misleading the court, for presenting false documents to the court.

      With the W.Va news I begin to wonder if the far right attacks on the state Courts is something co-ordinated, if only by philosophy. That’s an alarming thought.

      What’s happening with the state officials’ interactions with Supreme Courts in Wisc? Mich? and other states ?

  19. noonespecial

    Climate Liability News – Insurance and climate change

    A while back I recall reading something about insurance companies looking into offering products for homeowners that take into account a region’s climate.

    This article provides some info re the use of data models by insurance companies:

    “But we now see insurers exploiting geographically refined data to more precisely estimate land parcel risk. Aviva Insurance uses detailed topographical data to assess varying flood risks for coastal houses, such as those at the tops of hills versus houses at lower elevations. As insurers such as Aviva engage in price differentiation for property insurance, holdouts in the industry will face a choice: embrace individualized insurance or lose out on the low-risk insurance seekers. Low-risk customers will seek insurers that recognize their risk levels and lower their premiums. And as more and more insurers appropriately price climate risk using more fine-grained data, individuals will face clear incentives to consider those risks when deciding where to live.”

    Location still matters, but given the pace of change on our planet home purchase calculus seems to require solving another equation.

  20. RUKidding

    There Are Better Ways to Mock Trump Than Joking That He’s Putin’s Gay Lover

    I agree: finally! And thanks to Mother Jones for saying it, but WHY does this even need to be said?

    Fortunately I’ve only seen a couple of examples of Trump-Putin are gay lovers junk online (not in person). I find it very offensive and gratuitously obnoxious. So what if Trump and/or Putin happened to be gay? This type of gay-shaming is beyond the pale and unworthy.

    Frankly give up “mocking” Trump on any level. How ’bout focusing on all of the egregious stuff he’s doing (or approving), like the EPA approving using asbestos again?? That’s much worse than talking to Putin about anything.


    More crappy idenity politics meant to distract hapless Democrats from focusing on anything that’s real. Talk about propaganda and being brainwashed.

    1. John k

      Elite dems have a problem… they can’t attack trump for corruption, they’re all the same. And they can’t attack him for awful appointments, they all get elite dem votes because many like the appointments. And ditto the policies… remember he only became presidential for Zakaria when he bombed that airport.
      What’s left? The monster, Putin… course, can’t talk about the monsters in saudi… or tha ally that cannot be named…

  21. Synoia

    No new administration wants to handle a major trade [deal] renegotiation in its first months,’ a source close to the talks told Morning Trade.

    Yes, no one want the peasants angry with them from day one.

  22. BoyDownTheLane

    “… Assume, for the sake of argument, that powerful, connected people in the intelligence community and in politics worried that a wildcard Trump presidency, unlike another Clinton or Bush, might expose a decade-plus of questionable practices. Disrupt long-established money channels. Reveal secret machinations that could arguably land some people in prison.

    What exactly might an “insurance policy” against Donald Trump look like?
    He would have to be marginalized at every turn. Strategies would encompass politics, the courts, opposition research and the media. He’d have to become mired in lawsuits, distracted by allegations, riddled with calls for impeachment, hounded by investigations. His election must be portrayed as the illegitimate result of a criminal or un-American conspiracy.
    To accomplish this, bad actors in the intel community could step up use of surveillance tools as a weapon to look for dirt on Trump before his inauguration. They could rely on dubious political opposition research to secretly argue for wiretaps, plant one or more spies in the Trump campaign, then leak to the press a mix of true and false stories to create a sense of chaos.
    Once Trump is in office, a good insurance policy would call for neutralizing the advisers seen as most threatening, including his attorney general. The reigning FBI director could privately send the implicit message that as long as Trump minds his own business, he won’t be named as a target. When the president asks the FBI director to lift the cloud and tell the public their president isn’t under investigation, the FBI director could demur and allow a storm of innuendo to build. Idle chatter benefits the plot. There would be rampant media leaks, both true and false, but none of them would benefit Trump.
    All would be well unless the president removes the FBI director. Then, a rider on the insurance policy would kick in. After months of assuring Trump he’s not under investigation, he must now become a focus to keep him away from the Justice Department and the FBI; once an investigation opens, all of Trump’s attempts to affect policy or to dig into allegations against the intelligence community could be portrayed as obstruction of justice…..”



  23. dcblogger

    I for one am delighted that Trump’s team is being shunned. Nazis cannot succeed without collaborators. The idea of Stephen Miller as some sort of working class hero is truly face-palm.

    Trumpers are a pack of privileged fascists who cannot go to a restaurant without the worker bees of greater Washington publicly shaming them. I hope the same thing happens to ICE.

    Our customary way of dealing with Nazis is to come in at 80,000 feet, so this is mild.

    1. KB

      Wow!….I am not a fascist…..nor a Nazi….nor do I hope something bad happens to ICE…live where I live, and you wouldn’t say such things…..

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Not sure what that being shunned is referring to, but as far as Nazis go, it has been written that genocide was involved in how the (American) west was won.

        Of course, the British ran concentration camps in South Africa during the Boers War.

        Lest we forget, droning happened before 2017.

    2. nippersmom

      Were you equally eager to shun Victoria Nuland and her mentor, Hillary Clinton? They collaborated with actual Nazis in Ukraine. And do you paint all of their supporters with the same broad brush you use for “Trumpers” ?

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I for one am delighted that Trump’s team is being shunned.

      Sadly, it’s not about your feelings.

      Do you think it’s a good sign that Thomas Frank has been stigmatized and shunned?* Because it’s the same people and the same mentality.

      You’re also missing the point of the comment: Liberal Democrats have no standing whatever to be in the stigmatizing business, considering (a) how much they did to make Trump President (Pied Piper memo; choice of candidate, for starters) and (b) how comfortable they are with their own fascists, whether voted by them into office (Gina Haspel), or put on the national stage as Heroes of the Resistance: Brennan (torturer), Clapper (perjurer), and Mueller (entrapment artist). Liberal Democrats have no principles whatever; it’s worse than useless to think of them as a defense against fascism; it’s actively harmful, because could lead the unwary to think the Democrats will protect them.

      NOTE * Goffman writes: “social stigma can be a crippling social, political, and economic liability,” in Frank’s case loss of all his income as a journalist.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Seymour Hersh has been stigmatized and shunned by the same people too. Stigmatized and shunned into unpublishability in his own country’s press.

  24. clarky90

    Re, “Petitioners rounded up, shipped off inside. The SCALE..!” (The inspirational friends of Our Democracy, Communist China)

    The Take Down of Alex Jones- Why This Is a Big Issue


    A “Blue Purge” of the opposition media, BOTH left and right

    Decree on Suppression of Hostile Newspapers

    “1. The following organs of the press shall be subject to be closed: (a) those inciting to open resistance or disobedience towards the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government; (b) those sowing confusion by means of an obviously calumniatory perversion of facts; (c) those inciting to acts of a criminal character punishable by the penal laws….”


    I have noticed that the NYT and WaPo are both organs of “The Party Line”. Ditto, CNN, MSNBC…

    During a Totalitarian take-over, all dissenting ideas are shut down. Political, religious, philosophical, community, philanthropic, spiritual….

    The goal is the complete control of the “conversation”.

  25. Kurt Sperry

    The contradiction here is that Facebook really is private property; it presents itself as being for public purpose, but that’s just marketing

    The large, ubiquitous social media and google with billions of users are essentially utilities now. They need to be extremely tightly regulated as such. If you sell it as a digital commons, invite everybody, and millions of people camp there, it is no longer an entirely private property, it becomes the commons you teased. Think of a private telephone company that censored what you said or would deny service based purely on political speech grounds. People wouldn’t accept it.

  26. Jeff W

    Kandel’s attempt to biologize psychiatry…

    I never really cared for Eric Kandel for just that reason—it seemed like he was analyzing things at the wrong level.

    It’s the same thing with that Facebook/dopamine loop trope. Framing what Facebook does in biological terms makes it sound even more sinister than it is—the inference is that the company is hijacking your neurochemistry and turning you a “dopamine addict”—which might why former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya framed it like that (in a sense, Palihapitiya is messing with your dopamine level, too, in that case)—but these are behavioral strategies, not biological ones. (All strategies that affect behavior have biological effects. Behavioral properties supervene on biological properties.)

    That doesn’t mean that what Facebook does isn’t powerful—carefully constructed behavioral environments can exert the powerful effects that those constructing them want and that those affected by them can underestimate (see, for example, casinos)—but the design of Facebook is working at the behavioral level, not the biological or neurochemical level.

  27. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Local content requirements.

    Local, as in from the downtown stores and corner markets.

    That will reverse the trend to shop online.

    Shipping: “White House postal reform plan should leave parcel pricing alone, group says” [DC Velocity]. “A newly formed group of parcel shippers has asked the Trump administration to avoid suggesting any reforms to the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) business that could result in an increase in its shipping and package rates, saying USPS’ package operation is already profitable at current prices and only its private sector rivals would benefit from any upward rate adjustments. The group, which calls itself ‘The Package Coalition,’ said it is concerned that a White House task force review of USPS’ operations and pricing may ‘become an effort’ to force it to raise prices well beyond what is required to cover its parcel costs and to effectively compete with private-sector rivals.

    All those parcel delivery services, including the USPS, will have less deliveries of parcels packed with bubble wraps.

    Perhaps bad for them, but good for the environment.

  28. pretzelattack

    i keep losing my connection to nc (your connection has been reset) , probably my isp; hope it’s not anything else that is making reading this site more difficult (takes off tinfoil hat).

    1. HotFlash

      Running fine here except when the microwave is on. Perhaps your very nice hat is blocking reception?

  29. Wukchumni

    Looking @ inciweb, the entire US west is ablaze to some extent, northern California incredibly so.

    In lieu of an utterly useless squadron of F-35’s @ Lemoore Naval Air Station locally, sure wish the money had been spent on vast fleets of proven retardant/water drop fixed wing aircraft instead.

    1. fresno dan

      August 10, 2018 at 6:40 pm

      the horror, the terror – my worst nightmares come true. I cannot un-see it!!!!!!!

  30. Darthbobber

    This. Thing. From Marcy Wheeler

    So-a rather long syllogistic chain of weak conditionals attempting to get to the idea that the Steele dossier was itself largely a Russian disinformation effort. Because apparently back in the summer of 16 “the” Russians knew that there’d be this big investigation and they wanted to feed it a bunch of bullshit and scuttlebutt in order to use that as a lever to discredit the whole thing.
    She hasn’t quite turned into Rachel Maddow, so she isn’t able to make herself assert weak conditionals as facts, and as one can see in the comments a number of the faithful find it difficult to buy this.

    There was nothing posted on Emptywheel between the 6th and the 9th, so the mountain was probably engaged in a lot of labor giving birth to this particular mouse, though some of that time was doubtlessly spent prepping for the interview with Josh Marshall which he went up with in advance of the posting.

    Not going to start cutting and pasting chunks, but I encourage people to read it and to note:
    a) How long the chain of conditionals is, and
    b) How weak many (most?) of the conditionals are.
    (The chain is long enough that even if you assigned each link an 80% probability of accuracy, which is more than generous, the probability of the whole chain being true would be–err— not exactly high.)

    One link in the chain relies on no more than “Grassley seems to thnk” combined with “If true, then this would make sense”. Near the end, we also use inside knowledge from Deripaksa as the explanation for Manafort suggesting around inauguration time that the flaws in the dossier and the govts use of it could be central to a pushback. Why Manafort or anybody else would by then have needed info from Deripaksa or anybody else to tell them the thing was full of a lot of garbage is really unclear, since months before that it was widely known to be-cough-problemmatic, and people (Gates and Trump among them), would have known for a fact that some items were flatly untrue.

    As I write this, I’ve seen no sign that Democratic or spook amplifiers have picked this up as a thing worth flogging.

    1. pretzelattack

      of the many bodysnatchings by the alien pods of previously rational human beings, wheeler is one of the most perplexing. i still don’t get her why she thinks her justification that she saw some evidence, shown to her by somebody, of the russian hack taking place in real time, whatever that means, which she can’t reveal because reasons, should convince anybody. dear aliens please give us back the rational marcy wheeler.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        The complete hack-ization of the majority of original Netroots bloggers is a bit amazing in its scope.

        Maybe they were all always just aching to have Clintonism forever, and didn’t ever particularly care about the fundamental wrongs they covered and protested against back in c. 2006. Maybe they live in a moribund echo chamber. They seem stuck in some earlier time, or alternate reality. One where Silicon Valley is still full of bright young things devoted to the precept of “don’t be evil”.

  31. BobWhite

    > For example, their focus following the OH-12 results was… The Greens, who were addressed in such fingerwagging terms as “Do I get a cookie now?”, “Don’t tell me you care about the environment,” and (of course) “Russian meddling. Why else would anyone cast a protest vote in Ohio?” <

    Great article by Caitlin Johnstone about voting Green:
    Ten Things That Are More Selfish, Stupid And Privileged Than Voting Green Party

    Also, the idea of voting Green being a “protest vote” is ridiculous, as they run registered candidates. (spare me the argument about not being able to win)
    A real “protest vote” would be a write-in vote for Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mantle, …or even Mickey Dolenz.

    Obviously, there are far more than 10 things, so how about a comment thread with more ideas?

  32. The Rev Kev

    “China should cut its losses in the trade war by conceding defeat to Donald Trump”

    Well of course China should back down and concede defeat to Trump. Giving into blackmailers always works out. Its not like they ever come back with more demands. If I recall right, they only have to give in to Trump’s demands by opening up China’s companies to Wall Street, cutting back on research and development so that America does not have competition from China through its made in China 2025 program, limit technology sharing with US companies operating in China. You know, the little stuff. Maybe they might have to pull out of the South China Seas though that demand has not been given yet. Maybe give up on the one road program. Maybe get out of Africa. Stop buying Iran’s oil which would cut back the Chinese economy unfortunately. Whatever Washington can come up with in the next set of demands.

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        What the charts show (data is apparently from DB) is that trade between US MNCs and Chinese MNCs is roughly balanced, because US MNCs that make stuff in China (Apple, GM) sell a lot more in China than Chinese MNCs that manufacture in the US sell in the US.

        Your implication is that, if we upset the Chinese with a trade war, they will find ways to make it harder or impossible for Apple or GM to sell in China. But, if they did that, it would just up the ante. I don’t see why it guarantees US doom.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I am not concerned with “American” companies selling more to China. I am concerned with China selling less to America. And I am concerned with making “American” companies in China stop shipping anything from China into America. I am concerned with forcing every “American” company that wants to sell it HERE . . . to make it HERE.

          It would take decades to achieve that if we ever got a movement into power devoted to pursuing that goal. But it is a good goal.

  33. a different chris

    Read this snippet, and tell my why the Dems have a problem with deplorables:

    >and disproportionately impacts communities of color and the elderly, which is why the City is tackling

    If it just affected everybody equally regardless of color, then they wouldn’t do anything, is that what I’m reading? Yeah it’s a snippet and I really don’t think they meant that, but you know it doesn’t help the fight against Trump to keep reframing non-racial problems – like the fact that all us frogs are slowly boiling – as racial ones.

    Anyway, no worries, as the City “is tackling” which is pretty much the same as “fighting for” methinks.

  34. fresno dan

    “Women’s group behind rebel memorials quietly battles on” [Associated Press]. “Most people might know the [United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC)] as that group of mainly older women who dress in widow’s weeds and gather on Confederate Memorial Day to lay wreaths of boxwood and holly and sing mournful renditions of “Dixie” in honor of the estimated 260,000 Confederate service members who died in the Civil War ……
    So I am watching MSNBC (yes, I admit it!!!). And there is a segment about the 1 year anniversary of Charlotte.
    And to me its the standard questions of the old recalcitrant defender of the “rebels” (funny how the word “rebel” is used to designate someone who was trying to uphold the status quo) with the same old answers – the south was invaded and they were fighting for their homes.
    I wish one of these guys would be simply asked, “Do you think slavery should have ended?”
    And asked after some rapport is established so they truly feel that they are being listened to – so that we can see into the heart of such people of what they truly believe. If they say that slavery should have ended, they should be asked when and how. Should America have had slaves in 1870? 1880? 1890? 1900? 1930? (how many Americans think there should be slavery today?)

  35. a different chris

    OMG so cluelessly entitled that they don’t even realize it:


    Dentist Pieter Heemstra, … was among the residents who turned out Wednesday evening at a Jefferson Hills Borough council meeting to praise UPMC and support construction of a new hospital in the community — just not in a residential area.

    I also wonder about putting a big public purpose buildings smack in a residential area, especially one that is open 24/7. Access is not good. UPMC is one of the worst companies in human history, to boot, not sure why you would praise them but OK they aren’t building bombs anyway. So please continue, Dr. Heemstra…

    “It’s the worst place you could possibly put it,” said Dr. Heemstra, the father of four young children who worried about the increased traffic the new hospital would draw.

    Yeah, any Pittsburgher from anywhere other than the South Hills finds the South Hills road system to be interesting, to say the least. Messed-up traffic + ambulances is not a good combination.

    “You don’t buy a $1 million home and expect to hear helicopters.”

    Wait, WHAT? You think your $1 million home should be excluded from, you know, the activities of civilization? THAT’S the problem? Hey Mr Dentist Heemstra, can you go (family blog) yourself? Thanks.

  36. anon

    Roundup IS cancerous, jury declares – Groundsman, 46, is awarded $289M by jury in historic trial that ruled weedkiller Roundup DID cause his terminal lymphoma – and company ‘acted with fraud and malice’ by claiming it was harmless

    The liable verdict means the case could open the door to hundreds of additional lawsuits against the company recently acquired by German-based pharmaceutical and chemical group Bayer.

    The first-of-its-kind verdict was delayed as jurors spent hours analyzing the timeline of Johnson’s symptoms, the validity of his expert witness’s testimony, and the discrepancies between Monsanto’s medical findings and that of their critics.

    The jury also found Monsanto ‘acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct,’ Judge Suzanne Ramos Bolanos announced in court in San Francisco.

    Reacting to the verdict, co-lead trial counsel Brent Wisner said it was a result of newly-revealed, confidential company documents.

    ‘We were finally able to show the jury the secret, internal Monsanto documents proving that Monsanto has known for decades that glyphosate and specifically Roundup could cause cancer,’ Wisner said.

    ‘Despite the Environmental Protection Agency’s failure to require labeling, we are proud that an independent jury followed the evidence and used its voice to send a message to Monsanto that its years of deception regarding Roundup is over and that they should put consumer safety first over profits.’

    fingers crossed, as, of course, an impossibly unaffordable for victims, [Multinational Corporate] Appeal™ has been worked on since day one of the victim’s call for justice for decades, in preparation for such an event.

    Corporations are not human, and Capitalism has always been venal.

  37. Dwight

    A quarter century since the climate treaty, and New York City and New York State have done little to lower greenhouse gas emissions from automobiles, despite the high population density in metropolitan New York. New York State by 2009 executive order has a climate change plan with a goal of lowering emissions 80% from the 1990 level . . . by 2050. Blue state with a highly educated populace, waiting 17 years after the climate treaty to set a long-term goal. Did oil company propaganda cause this continuing inaction?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The City is NOT the State. The City is a big blue island, part of the Clinton Archipelago. The State is a huge red ocean, part of the Great Sea of Trump. The State will NEVER sign on to ANY de-carbonization agenda. The City will have to pursue ” De-carbonization in One City” as best as it can.

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