2:00PM Water Cooler 8/27/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I just noticed the Water Cooler odometer ticked over to 1001. Getting up there on the mileage! –lambert Adding, whoopsie, I got interested in reading a story and didn’t press Submit in time! Plus I had to do some household work in the midst of writing, so Politics is a bit sparse. I’ll add a bit more… UPDATE 2:45PM All done!


“Trump Says He’ll End Nafta After Reaching New Deal With Mexico” [Bloomberg]. “President Donald Trump said the U.S. is signing a new trade accord with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and called on Canada to join the deal soon or risk being left out. Trump announced the agreement with Mexico in a hastily arranged Oval Office event Monday with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto joining by conference call. Pena Nieto said he is “quite hopeful” Canada would soon be incorporated in the revised agreement, while Trump said that remains to be seen. The U.S. and Mexico agreed to increase regional automotive content to 75 percent from the current 62.5 percent in Nafta, with 40 percent to 45 percent of production by workers earning at least $16 an hour, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in an emailed statement. They agreed to review the deal after six years, softening a demand by the U.S. for a clause to kill the pact after five years unless it’s renewed by all parties. Duty-free access for agricultural products will remain in place, USTR said.” • As usual — see North Korea — we should wait for details.

“This NAFTA ‘Deal’ Is So Stupidly Complicated” [Jalopnik]. Headline refers to this article from April: “[Trump is] proposing a system that would require a certain proportion of auto parts to be made by workers earning certain wages…. If it sounds like an aggressively complicated proposal to you, our neighbor to the south and some unnamed auto executives agree.” • So we’ll see.

“Trump hails new trade deal with Mexico and discards Nafta name over ‘connotations'” [MarketWatch]. “President Donald Trump said Monday the U.S. has reached an agreement with Mexico to enter into a new trade deal, calling it the U.S.-Mexico trade agreement. Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump said he wanted to drop the name ‘North American Free Trade Agreement,’ but added ‘we’ll see if Canada can be part of [a] deal.’ He said that talks with Canada will begin soon. Details of the agreement were not immediately available.” • Rebranding? Public relations? Well, it worked for Obama, whose base is as “sticky” as Trump’s….

“The White House battle over U.S. Postal Service pricing is going international. President Trump is directing the agency to get rid of decades-old discounts on cross-border shipments that were established by the Universal Postal Union under the United Nations banner. The WSJ’s Heidi Vogt reports that Mr. Trump wrote in a memo that the system “distorts the flow of small packages” with its “artificially low” rates. Those discounts were set up years ago to help people in developing countries afford international mail. Now they mean a Chinese company may be able to ship an order to the U.S. for a fraction of the cost paid by a shipper in New York. The chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission says that’s become a problem as cross-border e-commerce has shifted the retail and distribution landscape” [Wall Street Journal].

“Sun Tzu and the art of fighting a trade war” [Pepe Escobar, Asia Times]. “So, how to fight a cage match with no referee? Enter Sun Tzu, China’s legendary military strategist who wrote The Art of War. The first rule is simple: “All warfare is based on deception.” As in Beijing gearing up to negotiate both as a partner and a threat.” And this: “Xi cannot possibly risk losing his de facto power base, which is not the Chinese proletariat, but the rising middle class on a frenetic consumption and global tourism binge. Add to that, the relentless working-class anger, already in full effect, according to the University of Utah’s Minqi Li. After all “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” is hardly Marx.” • So — projecting and speculating furiously — Xi’s base is China’s 10%. Too funny. Worth a read!



“Elizabeth Warren Could Make a Great Run for President as an Anti-Corruption Crusader” [The Nation]. “Campaigning against corruption is as honorable an American political tradition as you will find. Teddy Roosevelt ran more than a century ago as a fierce anti-corruption crusader…. If Elizabeth Warren does decide to run on an anti-corruption platform, that would be terrific.” • Warren is school-marmish, and the personification of the credentialed professional, so not necessarily an appealing political personality (exceot for those who make her such an enormously successful fundraiser). Nevertheless, if she manages to skin the hide of a banker, salt it, dry it, and nail it to the barn wall, I think her defects of personality would turn into virtues. Still, she’d need to do more than have a plan to skin the banker; she’d need to do it. Orange jumpsuit, perp walk, the whole deal. Not easy, but doable with adroit staffing and the right sort of moral panic.

UPDATE “Is capitalism losing or socialism gaining? Yes.” [CNN]. “Sen. Bernie Sanders calls himself a democratic socialist. Sen. Elizabeth Warren says she is a capitalist to her ‘bones.’ And yet, the pair are widely viewed to be competing for the same territory in a potential 2020 Democratic presidential primary. Not that anyone should be surprised. Both Sanders and Warren made their names railing at the excesses and failures of an increasing unequal economy — one that voters across the ideological spectrum routinely describe as unfair or, in many cases, ‘rigged.'” • Sort of amazing even to see such a headline.


70 days until Election Day. 70 days is a long time in politics.

“1 big thing … Scoop: Republicans secretly study their coming hell” [Axios]. “Axios has obtained a spreadsheet that’s circulated through Republican circles on and off Capitol Hill — including at least one leadership office — that meticulously previews the investigations Democrats will likely launch if they flip the House…. The spreadsheet — which I’m told originated in a senior House Republican office — catalogs more than 100 formal requests from House Democrats this Congress, spanning nearly every committee.” • It’s quite a grab-bag, most of it familiar. Oddly, or not, impeachment isn’t on the list. “Trump’s dealings with Russia,” however, is, suggesting, oddly, or not, that the matter is not resolved? Another item is “Hurricane response in Puerto Rico.” Not sure why this needs a House victory to become an issue, particulary given liberal Democrats professed affinity for Latinx people, PoC, migrants, etc.

“Steve Bannon’s message to Trump voters: It doesn’t matter if your congressman is a ‘RINO’ — vote for them, or else Trump gets impeached” [Business Insider]. “Bannon said the Trump base must acknowledge that the left is fired up and going to turn out this fall. ‘People can’t sit here and think that they’re not motivated because they are and they’re energized,’ he said. ‘And so that’s what we have to go up against. And for people to think that left is not energized to impeach Trump are kidding themselves. They are not out there to work with Trump post-November 6.”

“It Is the Era of Trump’: How the President Is Remaking the Republican Party” [Wall Street Journal]. “After more than two decades of tension within the GOP between a restive base and its traditional establishment, Trumpism, the archetypal grass-roots movement, is winning. With the 2018 primaries about to end, all but two of the 37 Republicans Mr. Trump has endorsed for House, Senate and governor during their primary campaigns have won. Mr. Trump has abandoned or undercut the party’s traditional commitment to free trade, fiscal conservatism and a hawkish foreign policy.” • Not so sure on the hawkish foreign policy. But on the rest: “Dance with the one that brung ya…”

NY Goveror: New York Spy claims another victim: “Ratface Andy”:

(For those who came in late, Spy successfully tagged Trump with “short-fingered vulgarian,” back when Trump was a boorish real estate developer from Queens.)

NY Governor: “The Country’s Top LGBT Group Is Campaigning Against A Queer Democratic Woman, And Some People Are Pissed” [Buzzfeed]. “[Human Rights Campaign’s] views reflect a more established faction of the LGBT movement, which has invested in career politicians who know how to pull the levers of power. This thinking tends to relegate more populist activism to the province of naive dreamers. Yet, this centrist approach to LGBT rights is tied to a dream of its own: that advocates will be able to rely on the Democratic Party’s moderate factions to deliver LGBT equality long-term.” • “Equality” for which members of the LGBT constituency? I mean, come on.

New Cold War

The rule of law:

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “What to do if you get push-polled or message-tested (2018 edition)” [Bleeding Heartland]. • Gather data! This is very informative, and, readers, if any of you are push-polled or message-tested, I’d love to hear about it.

“AP-NORC Poll: Few Democrats favor liberal cry to abolish ICE” [Associated Press]. “The rallying cry from some liberals to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement isn’t a likely winner this election year, as a new poll finds only a quarter of Democrats support eliminating the agency that carried out the Trump administration’s policy of separating immigrant children from their parents… But even as they don’t want to fully dismantle ICE, 57 percent of Democrats view the agency negatively, including nearly three-fourths of those who describe themselves as liberal, according to a poll released Monday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The findings demonstrate tension among Democrats about how to address the crisis at the border that intensified in June when the Trump administration instituted a family separation policy to deter illegal immigration. Some potential Democratic presidential contenders, such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, backed getting rid of ICE in response to the separations. Others, including Sen. Kamala Harris of California, urged a rethinking of the agency, but stopped short of calling for its abolition.” • So, and as usual, Democrats generate an enormous exercise in moral panic and virtue signaling, and then are institutionally unable to produce a coherent policy response. Then again, they did manage to get a good number of no doubt well-meaning DSA chapters to buy into global labor arbitrage as a good thing, so there’s a bright side.

Trump’s black support, according to the NAACP:

I don’t know who they are either!

“A record-breaking market doesn’t matter to most Americans” [WaPo]. • Purely speculative, but IMNSHO for most Americans (the 90%) a “good economy” means that disaster isn’t looming before next month’s rent check is due. Rather different from the 9.9% + 0.1%, for whom the economy is indeed good.

“Senators Demand Voting Machine Vendor Explain Why It Dismisses Researchers Prodding Its Devices” [Bleeping Computer]. “Four US senators, members of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, sent a letter on Wednesday to Election Systems and Software (ES&S), the largest voting machine vendor in the US, asking for clarifications on why the vendor is trying to discourage independent security reviews of its products.:” • And if hearings are ever held, you can bet that hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, won’t be on the agenda. Because both party establishments hate the idea. For some reason.

“‘Libtard’ in the Chinese style” [Popula]. “”Left” (左) in Chinese is a tricky word. Chinese will sometimes refer to themselves as ‘left’ when they mean ‘patriotic’ or ‘nationalistic’; someone might say, ‘I’ve been very leftist since I was a kid,’ when they actually mean ‘I’ve been very patriotic since I was a kid.’ More than one self-identified Chinese leftist will feel the need to clarify that ‘By leftist, I mean I identify with the Western left, not the Chinese left,’ to explain that they are not Chinese nationalists. ‘Baizuo’ (白左)—literally ‘White Left’—is one of the stranger insults arising on the Chinese internet over the last two years. Equivalent to something like ‘libtard,’ ‘leftard,’ or maybe even ‘Social Justice Warrior’ in English, it scoffs at those who are too concerned with the environment, rights for ethnic minorities, immigrants, or the LGBTQ community. As in the U.S., the insult indicates a too-narrow focus on ‘bleeding-heart’ issues, to the exclusion of larger, more salient questions, such as those of the nation-state.” • So, either the US political spectrum isn’t as portable as we mght think, or it’s moreso…

Stats Watch

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, August 2018: “Steady at a very high rate of growth is the ongoing message from the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing survey” [Econoday]. “Dallas is getting a fundamental boost from strength in the energy sector and its results for August contrast with slowing seen in both the Philadelphia Fed and Kansas City reports.” And: “This survey remains in positive territory with new orders improving and unfilled orders significantly declining – and both in positive territory.This was a slightly weaker report than last month” [Econintersect]. And: “Dallas Fed: “Robust Expansion in Texas Manufacturing Continues” [Calculated Risk]. “The regional surveys for August have mostly indicated somewhat slower growth as compared to July.”

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, July 2018: “The month of July proved less strong than expected” [Econoday]. “The slowing in production following a one-time spike in June is distorting the overall reading for July downward, yet the weakness in the personal consumption & housing component is a negative to watch.”

Housing: “Weakness abounds in the housing market as building, sales have stalled” [Freight Waves]. “A package of weak data on both housing starts and home purchases indicates that housing and construction remains one of the few areas of weakness in the economy in the 3rd quarter. This has put some downward pressure on freight demand, as the movement of building materials, furniture, and appliances is influenced by the strength of the housing market…. Activity in the housing market plays a key role in overall freight demand in the economy. Construction materials account for approximately 5% of all ton-miles in the economy, and the disappointing results from home building will reduce the demand for flatbed carriers and other modes of transporting construction materials.” • Worth a read; it’s a useful run-down of the housing market and its ills since the Crash.

Housing: New Home Sales: “Heading lower from already depressed levels” [Mosler Economics]. Existing Home Sales: “Housing is the one sector of the economy not showing any life.”

Shipping: “Executive Insights: FreightHub Co-Founder Michael Wax on online freight forwarding” (interview) [Shipping and Freight Resource]. FreightHub Co-Founder Michael Wax: “FreightHub is a full-service, vertically integrated freight forwarding platform. We see ourselves as a technology company offering logistics services. Our strong belief is that over the next years the freight forwarding market will see a strong consolidation leaving the market with companies that managed to successfully digitize their services….”

Shipping: “DDC pilots the drive for more drone delivery trials in Canada” [The Loadstar]. “Transport Canada gave the green light to Drone Delivery Canada (DDC) test flights ‘beyond visual line of sight’ in the province of Quebec…. Taking supplies to remote communities is a key element of the push for drone deliveries in Canada. Many of these communities currently receive supplies by airfreight or via winter roads, uusable during the summer months. There are about 1,000 such communities across the Canadian North.”

The Bezzle: “Airbnb Takes NYC to Court on Data Demand” [Courthouse News]. “Swinging back at a data demand it calls unprecedented, Airbnb claims in a federal complaint Friday that the New York City Council authorized warrantless searches of its private business records…. The city council passed the ordinance in question last month. In addition to mandating that Airbnb disclose the names and addresses of all its hosts in the Big Apple, the bill requires data on Airbnb’s users, like the rental listing URL, the number of days the unit is rented and how much the platform collects in fees.” • Since AirBnB is in the hotel business, it should be regulated like the hotels are. The flip side: Silicon Valley is in the regulatory arbitrarge business; a ruling that the State needs a warrant to collect ordinary business information for public benefit would certainly make that an even better business than it already is, besides inducing a Silicon Valley glibertarian squillionaire cuddle puddle

The Bezzle: “Could Airbnb Take To The Air?” [Safe Haven]. “After years of rapid growth and regulatory battles, Airbnb’s management announced recently that company will be ready to go public as soon as 2019 but not later than late 2020.”

The Bezzle: “Video: Airbnb’s European Boss on the Clash With Online Travel Giants” [Skift]. Jeroen Merchiers, Airbnb’s managing director for Europe, Middle East and Africa: “I think our community can help us solve overtourism by one allowing a broader range of the population to participate in the wealth that is being generated and also some of the decentralization that is happening and that… social connection that travel is missing a little bit, coming back to that.” • I can’t translate that, though I think what “over-tourism” means is millions of selfie-stick bearing tourists descending on a single location… But whether spreading the load to numerous locations is a good thing — good for the locals, I mean — I can’t say.

The Bezzle: “Intelligently developing and testing the AI safety case” [Automotive IQ]. “Illustrating the rapid progress, the clear leader in highly automated (Level 4) driverless vehicles, Waymo, is about to increase its number of self-driving Chrysler Pacificas from about 600 to 62,600!… Because interest in AVs is being driven in part by a desire to reach zero fatalities worldwide, automated driving must be safer than human driving if the technology is to reach critical mass. That’s a tough task…. The rapid development in machine learning and self-learning neural network AIs, in particular, is seen as way to improve functionality and cut development times in several key areas. However, there are growing concerns over the integration of human factors and software failures into the qualitative and quantitative risk assessments that underpin safety-critical systems development…. According to Phillip Koopman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University who works in the automotive industry “You can’t just assume this stuff is going to work.”* When designing the objective function for an AI system, the designer specifies the objective but not the exact steps for the system to follow. This allows the AI system to come up with novel and more effective strategies for achieving its objective**. But if the objective function is not well defined, the AI’s ability to develop its own strategies can lead to unintended, harmful side effects. Koopman is one of several researchers who believe that the nature of machine learning makes verifying that these autonomous vehicles will operate safely very challenging.” NOTE * You sure can if you’re a venture capitalist with squllions of dollars in stupid money and immunity from all consequences by virtue of having relocated to New Zealand, or Mars, or the umptieth floor of some bulletproof glass-walled Manhatttan pied de terre, as the scooters debacle proves. For pity’s sake. Why don’t engineers see this stuff? NOTE ** Who said driving had a single “objective function”? I’m sure if you told that to any marketer, they’d laugh.

The Bezzle: “People Are Now Taking Placebo Pills to Deal With Their Health Problems—And It’s Working” [Time]. “In a 2016 study published in the journal Pain, researchers including [Ted Kaptchuk, a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School]t randomly assigned 83 people with chronic low back pain at a hospital in Lisbon to either continue taking their pain medication as usual or start taking honest placebo pills with their typical treatment. Before the start of the study, the men and women filled out questionnaires about the intensity of their pain and how much disability it was causing them. After that, people treating their pain as usual continued to take their nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, while the people taking placebos were given bottles labeled placebo pills with instructions to take the pills twice a day. After three weeks, the people in the study rated their pain and disability levels again. The researchers found that, on average, the group taking painkillers reported a 9% reduction in usual pain, a 16% reduction in maximum pain and no reduction in disability. But the people knowingly taking placebos experienced a 30% reduction in both usual and maximum pain and a 29% drop in disability.” • So, we can gut Big Pharma, then? Worth a read, but — because? — the author doesn’t understand the placebo effect. Doctors don’t. I don’t. Nobody does! Readers?

Manufacturing: “The Real State of American Manufacturing” [Industry Week]. “In many ways, this is probably one of the most exciting, turbulent, and opportunity-rich times manufacturing has seen since the end of World War II. At the heart of it is a movement matching two equal-but-opposite forces simultaneously stymieing and bolstering the industry. On one side, we have innumerable headwinds ranging from skilled worker shortages to long overdue capital investments and digital overhauls, complicated further by new tariff threats, looming trade wars, and governmental uncertainty clouding everything. On the other side, we have an economy far healthier than any of us could have possibly imagined a decade ago when the auto industry was on life support and needed a government bailout. Now the Big 3, and the rest of U.S. manufacturing, is supplemented by a tax overhaul designed to prop up American businesses plus a deregulation streak intended to accelerate growth and investment.” • Worth a read for the speculation on political economy, despite the cheerleading tone.

Mr. Market: “Wall Street rallies as U.S.-Mexico reach trade deal” [Reuters]. “‘I think the question most people have is can the markets go higher? The answer is yes, earnings drive markets and this season has been an incredible one,’ said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade in Chicago. Also helping sentiment was Washington pressing the European Union to speed up trade negotiations.” • Talking his book…

The Fed: “Flattening Yield Curve in One Picture” [MishTalk] • More inversions than downturns, I would say.MR SUBLIMINAL You mean there’s hope?

The Fed: “What Has Happened to the Yield Curve Since Liftoff?” (video) [Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis]. “What has happened with the yield curve since the Federal Reserve started raising its policy rate from near zero in December 2015 (so-called liftoff)?” Quote: “Our main job… is inflation.”

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on Earthquakes. “There has been a huge spike in the number of large quakes” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181. Seems that 180 is a floor?


“The Bayou Bridge Pipeline’s Entangled Hierarchies of Power” [Counterpunch]. All pipeline politics is local. The whole piece is good, but I’m going to pull out one incident: “[The Louisiana House of Representatives] this past spring introduced and then passed legislation that criminalizes the activities of groups that protest the extraction, transport, and burning of oil and gas. This legislation they adopted specifically to quash [Bayou Bridge Pipeline (BBP)] resistance. Three anti-BBP activists have just been charged under this law. While protesting in Louisiana’s public waterways, they were “abducted” by ETP’s private security, which then turned the activists over to police. Lest the gravity of this isn’t clear: the company’s private security abducted citizens who were lawfully exercising their First Amendment rights in a public space. Rather than questioning the abduction, the police charged the activists with violating Louisiana’s new anti-First Amendment rights law. This abduction should remind us of the fact that ETP used TigerSwan, a private security firm, to oversee protection of the Dakota Access Pipeline.” • Yikes.

“How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters” [Inside Climate News]. “In at least 31 states, lawmakers and governors have introduced bills and orders since Standing Rock that target protests, particularly opposition to pipelines…. In addition to Oklahoma’s infrastructure bill and similar legislation enacted in two other states, these bills would expand definitions of rioting and terrorism, and even increase penalties for blocking traffic. At the same time, law enforcement and private companies have conducted surveillance on campaigners, while some federal and state officials have suggested pipeline protesters who break laws be charged as terrorists. Corporations have hit landowners and environmental groups with restraining orders and hundred-million-dollar lawsuits.”


“We already know climate change will make our crops less nutritious. Now we know how that will impact our health” [The New Food Economy]. “But a growing body of research is starting to show that, beyond the droughts and floods we already expect from climate change, we’re also in for a change in the nutrient content of the food crops we rely on every day. Increased levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will affect plant growth and suppress the levels of zinc, iron, and protein in staple crops…. [T[his nutrient decline will mean that, by 2050, an additional 175 million people worldwide will be deficient in zinc, and 122 million more won’t be eating enough protein. Worse, 1.4 billion women and children under the age of five, who are living in countries with increased rates of anemia, stand to lose an additional 4 percent of their dietary iron intake.”

“Mainers Look to Farms to Boost Scallops, a Wild Staple” [NECN]. “The Atlantic sea scallop is a New England mainstay, but unlike oysters and mussels, they’re almost exclusively harvested from the wild on the East Coast. A loose consortium of aquaculture businesses off the Maine coast is looking to change that by making scallop farming a viable option here. It’s one of the first serious attempts to farm Atlantic sea scallops in the United States.”


“Flood thy neighbor: Who stays dry and who decides?” [Reveal News]. “When rivers flood now in the United States, the first towns to get hit are the unprotected ones right by the river. The last to go, if they flood at all, are the privileged few behind strong levees. While levees mostly are associated with large, low-lying cities such as New Orleans, a majority of the nation’s Corps-managed levees protect much smaller communities, rural farm towns and suburbs… The Army Corps of Engineers has a huge, complex job – reducing flood risk across the nation’s rivers and coasts and a requirement to do it in a way that benefits the country economically. To prioritize its resources, the Corps uses cost-benefit calculations. In practice, those formulas determine who gets flooded and who gets saved. They’re intended to bring some dispassionate reason to a contentious process. But the calculations favor highly valued property over less-affluent communities.”

Health Care

“Complete care: Hospitals tackling social determinants set the course” [Modern Health Care]. “the concept of addressing social determinants of health sweeps the industry. Income, education, employment, food security, housing stability and violence are all targeted factors to help improve patient health… Individual behaviors are the largest contributors to premature death, accounting for 40%, according to a 2007 New England Journal of Medicine story, while healthcare made up just 10%… [T]he ultimate goal of social programs is to reform healthcare into well care that changes both the health and economic outlooks of an entire community for generations to come. That’s not a small or easy task.” • Challenging even accepting the assumption that elites are benevolent and wish for such changes to occur; perhaps I should have filed this under class warfare.

Class Warfare

“Why Missouri ‘Right to Work’ Went Down in Flames” [Labor Notes]. “Labor’s win in Missouri defies current wisdom about the decline of unions. We won with an even greater percentage of no votes than in the celebrated 1978 defeat of right to work in Missouri—despite the fact that union density has fallen by two-thirds since then. Amazingly, even if none of Missouri’s quarter-million union members had voted, right to work would still have been defeated. Given the number of ballots cast in the Republican primary, at least a third of the no votes must have come from Republicans. Only four counties favored Clinton over Trump in the last presidential election. Yet 100 of Missouri’s 115 counties voted no on right to work.” • That’s amazing. It’s almost like Missouri working class voters didn’t think Clinton was on their side. The temerity!

“A Red State Raises Its Workers’ Minimum Wage to $15” [Governing]. “In one of the most surprising legislative twists in state government this year, North Carolina became the first state to implement — and the first red state to approve — an increase in the minimum wage for state workers to $15 an hour, or $31,200 a year. California, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania have passed legislation that puts them on a path to reach a $15 minimum wage for state employees, but none have reached that goal yet. Deepening the intrigue, the state’s Republican-controlled legislature achieved this practically-overnight minimum-wage hike with no formal testimony or hearings, and with little support from Democratic legislators or the state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, who opposed other aspects of the budget in which it appeared…. [Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger] stresses that the $15 wage doesn’t betray conservative beliefs because it doesn’t impose on the private sector.” • Sounds like we should to directly to NHS and make all health care workers government employees, then. I mean, if we want the support of principled conservatives. That said, never underestimate how flexible, feral, and effective conservatives are….

“A bride has absolutely LOST IT at her wedding guests in the greatest rant of all time.” [MamaMia]. • Funny and sad; I was unsure where to file this, but it seems to fit into the “Aspirational” bucket, and the increasing distance between aspirations — ideologically governed does not imply a lack of deep feeling, and in fact the two may overlap — and, well, reality.

News of The Wired

My messy office:

“Platform capitalism” (1):

“Platform capitalism” (2): Entertaining thread:

It’s almost as if… As if the forces of production have come into conflict with the relations of production, isn’t it?

A multidimensional snowclone spotted in the wild (Twitter is very good at this):

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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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Not native wildflowers sadly, but a pretty cool beastie: a hummingbird moth.”

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Wukchumni

    We’re in a temblorary status here on the left coast, bottom corner pocket. For those of you scoring @ home, this year is the sesquicentennial of the Hayward Quake, and it’s a cool word that might not fit on a scrabble board and/or cause the other players to all quit if it fits.

    It was only a 6.3-6.7 in intensity, and if the same e/q happened today, the jury rigged system of the California Delta, in which freshwater is kept away from seawater, would be compromised, and the ability to move water from the north to south also challenged.


  2. JTMcPhee

    Trade war and Sun Tzu: Why is it that everyone jumps over the first part of Sun Tzu’s wise discourses on “war,” the ones that counsel rulers to think very carefully about whether “war” is not a stupid exercise, a threat to the country, and destructive of the very political economy that the “war ruler” is supposedly the steward of?

    I. Laying Plans

    1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.

    2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.

    3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one’s deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.

    4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.

    5,6. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

    7. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.

    8. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.

    9. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.

    10. By method and discipline are to be understood the marshaling of the army in its proper subdivisions, the graduations of rank among the officers, the maintenance of roads by which supplies may reach the army, and the control of military expenditure.

    11. These five heads should be familiar to every general: he who knows them will be victorious; he who knows them not will fail.

    12. Therefore, in your deliberations, when seeking to determine the military conditions, let them be made the basis of a comparison, in this wise:–

    13. (1) Which of the two sovereigns is imbued with the Moral law? (2) Which of the two generals has most ability? (3) With whom lie the advantages derived from Heaven and Earth? (4) On which side is discipline most rigorously enforced? (5) Which army is stronger? (6) On which side are officers and men more highly trained? (7) In which army is there the greater constancy both in reward and punishment?…

    II. Waging War

    1. Sun Tzu said: In the operations of war, where there are in the field a thousand swift chariots, as many heavy chariots, and a hundred thousand mail-clad soldiers, with provisions enough to carry them a thousand li, the expenditure at home and at the front, including entertainment of guests, small items such as glue and paint, and sums spent on chariots and armor, will reach the total of a thousand ounces of silver per day. Such is the cost of raising an army of 100,000 men.

    2. When you engage in actual fighting, if victory is long in coming, then men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

    3. Again, if the campaign is protracted, the resources of the State will not be equal to the strain.

    4. Now, when your weapons are dulled, your ardor damped, your strength exhausted and your treasure spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

    5. Thus, though we have heard of stupid haste in war, cleverness has never been seen associated with long delays.

    6. There is no instance of a country having benefited from prolonged warfare. [Modulo the part of the Empire that profits from endless imperial adventures.] ….

    12. When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.

    13,14. With this loss of substance and exhaustion of strength, the homes of the people will be stripped bare, and three-tenths of their income will be dissipated; while government expenses for broken chariots, worn-out horses, breast-plates and helmets, bows and arrows, spears and shields, protective mantles, draught-oxen and heavy wagons, will amount to four-tenths of its total revenue.


    So just jump to the “cleverness” parts of Sun Tzu’s advice, as our rulers almost always do (shaping the intelligence to fit the plan), and what happens to the peasants and the nation?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      For the Chinese communists, after years of (civil) warring, and the Long March, it was liberation for the peasants.

      They likely would say the Chinese peasants don’t need to be liberated again…they just need to migrate to the cities and become proletariat factory workers, and with hard work, capitalists.

      1. JTMcPhee

        That’s a very interesting take on the history of the Chinese Revolution and its sequelae for the peasants crushed by all the players in the game of “Who Gets To Be Emperor Now?”

        And maybe the Party funds its corruption and militarization and expansionist “war by other means” or whatever it is they are doing to the world using MMT yuan, but the “peasants,” including the ones who felt compelled to jump off the roofs of those Apple iBuildings and suchlike, are as Sun Tzu observed, “afflicted by heavy exactions.” Of course a few of them have the smarts to catch the Gravy Train that’s running up and down the Belt and Road…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Unless Marx was right and Mao wrong – you can’t skip the industrial proletariat stage, and when you get peasants to rise up, you eventually have Deng Xiaoping and the many exploited factory workers now.

    2. John k

      We will occupy (Afghanistan, Syria’s, or fill in the blank) forever.
      Apparently failed to check with Sun Tzu.

  3. Gary

    I thought the first rule of placebos, just like Fight Club, is you don’t talk about placebos…

      1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

        Those were the days when bees were bountiful and the Simpson were consistently funny.


    1. Yasha

      I see placebos as the mythic element in medicine. They make no sense to the conscious mind because they’re meant to speak to the unconscious. A friend of mine swears by a certain brand of OTC homeopathic cold tablets. On the conscious level, she knows they’re just pricey sugar pills, but perhaps the story they tell makes sense to the part of her mind that interfaces with bodily processes.

      In that way, I liken placebos to prayer. There’s no reason to really believe in God as long as there are components in your unconscious that like to play that role and to be spoken to that way. I think the unseen parts of the brain are where most of the heavy lifting is going on.

    2. a different chris

      Yeah I’m… I’m… speechless. The whole thought around placebos was that they were supposed to ferret out people’s imaginings. But if you freaking know it’s a placebo… I’m starting to wonder if Americans have gotten so illiterate (it was Americans, wasn’t it?) that they just nodded when told “this is a placebo” and really had no idea what that meant.

    3. eduardo

      If you put someone in a medical test and give them something labeled placebo you now have the reverse placebo effect. “They want me to think they are placebos, they must really be some new superdrug!”

    4. Elizabeth Burton

      One of the basic problems with Western medical science is that it persists on conflating mind and brain, i.e., that thought processes are just neurochemical reactions acting on specific neurons. The concept that the mind is in charge of the body rather than simply another organ in it permeates the entire treatment concept, and so the regular efficacy of placebos in a fairly similar percentage of the treated is ignored. So is the possibility that emotional stresses and attitudes might have a physical effect on the body that, if it goes on long enough, will result in actual damage.

      And yet consider how many phrases in just the English language suggest that very thing. Like the constantly sour curmudgeon who “can’t stomach” anyone who develops cancer of the stomach and/or pancreas,. Or the person who “doesn’t give a s***” about anyone who doesn’t conform to their defined criteria of the acceptable and gets colon cancer. The woman who nurtures everyone at the expense of herself who gets breast cancer.

      That kind of mind-body synergy is dismissed by Western science, so no one has ever actually done the kind of study that would prove or disprove it. It’s become a little more acceptable now to say “stress makes you sick,” but general statements are rarely useful.

    5. Utah

      I think it is more than not talking about placebos for them to have an effect.
      I think that our society doesn’t know how to deal with pain, so by taking an anti-inflammatory and the pain not going away, they feel like they are in more pain than when they take nothing at all. Hence the sugar pill working- they realize that they can actually handle the pain and therefore it is not as intense.
      Other western societies are not dealing with the opioid crisis as significantly as we are because the doctors don’t prescribe opioids as frequently as ours do (among other reasons why America has a drug problem).

    6. Chris

      There was a faith healer of Deal
      Who said “Although pain is not real
      When I sit on a pin
      And it punctures my skin
      I dislike what I fancy I feel”.

  4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “Trump hails new trade deal with Mexico and discards Nafta name over ‘connotations’” [MarketWatch]. “President Donald Trump said Monday the U.S. has reached an agreement with Mexico to enter into a new trade deal, calling it the U.S.-Mexico trade agreement. Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump said he wanted to drop the name ‘North American Free Trade Agreement,’ but added ‘we’ll see if Canada can be part of [a] deal.’ He said that talks with Canada will begin soon. Details of the agreement were not immediately available.” • Rebranding? Public relations? Well, it worked for Obama, whose base is as “sticky” as Trump’s….


    With Canada, a name to avoid would the Tripartite (Trade) Pact.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Enchilada – is that native food or another import from Spain that needs to return to the Old World?

        “Go back to England. Take your wheat with you from this place we don’t call Australia. That’s your name. And you can take that back too!”

  5. cm

    Some clarity:

    Governor Kate Brown (D) on Sunday ordered all flags at Oregon public institutions be flown at half-staff immediately until sunset on Monday in honor of Arizona Senator John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee who passed away Saturday.

    “Yesterday, we lost an American hero,” Brown said in a statement.


    Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., also took to Twitter and remarked: “A lion of the US Senate, a patriot, a true American hero, a father, husband, son – rest in peace, Senator McCain, you’ve completed your last tour of duty.”

    Fellow Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., issued this statement:

    “I am deeply saddened to learn of John McCain’s passing. He led a courageous and remarkable life, made tremendous sacrifices, and carried a deep love for our nation. He was a true American hero, and it was an honor to serve with him in the Senate. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

    Bomb, bomb Iran… I just lost a lot of respect for Wyden…

    1. Oregoncharles

      I don’t think Brown reads her “statements” before issuing them, based on a national “Governors’ Letter” she signed and won’t unsign calling a significant portion o fher constituents anti-semites.

      You had respect for Wyden?

      Merkley is far better, in general, indicating that these pronouncements are boiler plate, a potpourri of cliches turned out by staffers.

    2. Arizona Slim

      As for me, I’m keeping my flag in the closet that’s right behind me. I won’t be displaying it outdoors until Veterans Day.

  6. ChrisAtRU

    Congrats on 1K+!!!

    RE: Phone Calls

    Yes, it’s almost as if forces that be want to keep up using the descendant of an archaic switching infrastructure. I’ve often wondered why we use “phone numbers” at all, and the answer to me is “because phone companies”. I’m waiting for a world that’s gone full IP (or some future derivative thereof) where my personal device doesn’t need a SIM Card and I can just ride the ether full time as a ‘net only entity.

    1. voteforno6

      It might take a while. The IP infrastructure still hasn’t reached the level of reliability as the POTS.

      1. fajensen

        The telephone networks have been IP-based since the mid 1990’s. The POTS part is today provisioned by a small box called a DSLAM (digital subscriber line access module). This handles the last 2-10 km of wiring; above it is all IP.

        They still use the old SS7 protocols inside the networks, with IP as the transport layer, which is one of several reasons that it is so easy for scammers to lie about their phone numbers, send fake SMS and many other shenanigans. SS7 assumes that only proper traffic runs on the SS7 networks, SS7 routing is hard-coded into the messages (unlike IP, where routing is a separate function), so, encryption breaks SS7.

        The SIM card (amongst other things) identifies a terminal to the network with a very long number, an IMEI, supposed to be globally unique. The device is registered in a database, the Home Location Register, and tracked because the network needs to know the physical location to route and connect the traffic. IP doesn’t have the capability to allow devices to roam seamlessly between networks because the IP addresses are assigned by the network. For seamless roaming (traffic doesn’t drop when going to another network) IP has to do the same stunt as the phone network; Have a “naming and routing layer” above the IP level and an GUID that labels the device – A.K.A an IMEI – the human-readable tag for an IMEI being the phone number. :).

        The IETF are still working on this problem. I have in a previous life demonstrated early versions of IP roaming via HIP and it is very cool: https://tools.ietf.org/html/rfc7401

        Eventually, when the phone networks are upgraded, they will probably go all-IP. For now they have all this paid-for services and infrastructure which works well enough and in general is very energy efficient since it is all coded for ancient computers – a basement of “stuff” goes into one blade server today!

  7. Kevin

    “A record-breaking market doesn’t matter to most Americans”

    Let me fix that for you;

    “A record-breaking “fixed” market doesn’t matter to most Americans”

    nor should it

    1. Pat

      I’m actually beyond amused that McCain, and or his family, has requested eulogies from Obama and George W. Bush. Yes, I get that they were Presidents and thus there is some fancy pants reputation show off aspect there, but then I remember the Bush underhanded attacks on McCain during the primaries leading up to 2000. I remember that McCain was largely treated as a useful idiot by the Obama administration.

      Frankly, Trump unlike the other two made a frontal attack. And hasn’t changed because of circumstance and hypocritical politeness. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Bushes and the Clintons go to the funeral, act all respectful and then bad mouthing McCain in private. They might even include the Obamas in the fun.

    2. RUKidding

      I don’t understand why anyone – at this point – would expect Trump to behave differently. What is it that they’re not “getting”??

      I think Trump’s behavior is boorish, even though I’m not a McCain fan. But so what?

      Trump acts like Trump. News at 11.

      1. Pat

        I’ve always referred to my family as trailer park trash. While affectionate hyperbole, it does recognize that we are not the best at structured civility. The brief period in my life where I encountered Trump regularly made me realize that my family had the manners of the royal family by comparison.

        Most of these people, including the media, have been around him far more and far longer than I was. I guess when they wanted his money, they kept their blinders on. Or do we have manufactured outrage for the win.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Lyndon Baines Johnson was at least as trashy as Trump. But he was a Democrat, after a fashion. And did push through a few good things, but of course the Vietnam war and other excrescences were on is curriculum vitae too. Did Johnson get the same trashing that Trump is getting? (I know, the world was a very different place back then.)

          And to the commenter who thinks this place is rife with Trump lovers, yes, he is a bad man with bad “manners” and is helping spoil the nation and big parts of the world by playing his part in the Spoils System.

          Who LBJ was:

          “LBJ: The President Who Marked His Territory”


          1. Oregoncharles

            I remember some awful stuff about LBJ. My father heard from friends (friends who would know) in Texas that he was an outright crook; then there was the lifting-beagles-by-the-ears moment. He was also known for talking with visitors and, especially, staff while on the throne.

            While it wasn’t played up as much as Trump’s vulgarities, I think his crudity was part of his political persona – sort of a Democratic George II. Texas, after all.

            OTOH, I consider him the most liberal President. His “Great society” programs carried the New Deal approach to its high-water mark. But imperialism, and thus the Vietnam War, was part of the ideology, and ultimately destroyed his presidency. With some justice. Unfortunately, it’s been all downhill since.

          2. pretzelattack

            yeah lbj got loads of trash, but not nearly as much from the media, or any from the intelligence services. but the protestors got to him, i think. “hey hey lbj how many kids did you kill today”– which distinguishes him from later democrats like clintons 1&2(&3?), and “pretty good at killing folks” obama.

      2. Musicismath

        I remember the kind of snarky social media memes devised by Democrat supporters aimed at McCain and Palin in 2008. To say that they were dripping with ageism and misogyny would be an understatement.

        Of course, this was par for the course in 2008 and only seems jarring now, after Dems have reinvented themselves as the Most Moral People in History (other than, perhaps, perpetually shocked late-Victorian liberals).

    3. Elizabeth Burton

      I find it entertaining that the same people who are constantly screaming TRUMP!!! is a liar are now screaming because he refuses to lie and pretend he had any respect for McCain. In case anyone still had a sliver of doubt just what a contrived mess the whole anti-Trump BS is.

    4. VietnamVet

      As part of their memorial, the Washington Post has an article on how John McCain was the mentored by Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson. Neo-conservatives named their society after him. An easy way to identify a globalist warmonger is if the eulogy praises Senator McCain without including his support of Syrian rebels. Washington Post labels the right-wing Euro/Trump opposition “White Nationalists”. This is black propaganda. There is no room for realist anti-war Americans.

      Leaders from Turkey, Russia, and Iran will meet next week to discuss the ongoing war in Syria and how to respond to radical Islamic groups. If there is no agreement for Turkey to withdraw from Idlib Province, when Syria launches its attack to reclaim it with Russia’s aid, this very unstable conflict between nuclear powers will escalate once more. Russia, Iran and China cannot back down. Without a peace treaty, a nuclear war is inevitable.

      1. fajensen

        Maybe Turkey in reality is angry at the US because the Turks US-assigned role in the escalation of the war was “provider of the blood on the carpet”!

        Get some Turks bombed by Russians. Attack on NATO, screeching about Consequences, vassals like Denmark happily jumping into the fray ‘cause it stings that Donald Trump doesn’t care about us one little bit.

        Turkey knows very well that they, and their regional ambition, are screwed in case of a wider conflict.

  8. Pat

    I realize the real devil is in the details, but my first thought upon reading the description is that all the new trade agreement will do is slightly raise the cost of the components and autos built in Mexico, but keeping the wages below unionized American wages thus sticking it to the UAW. But with the free movement of agricultural products it is largely doing nothing for the workers of America. Nothing there seems to benefit the very people who wanted NAFTA ended.

    Barring big revelations I don’t expect, such as corporate protections being abolished, this is could really be just lipstick on the same old pig.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I’ve been wondering what became of the Scripals and their case. Apparently Murray is, too.

      If things go well for Westminster, we’ll never know.

      Anyway, a goodone to keep track of.

    1. anon

      Thank you for that. It’s an uncommon and fascinating read, which hints at the chilling brutality of Silicon Valley — and looking at a bit of the author’s background, that was just via a fairly young, likely non California born, non journalist outsider’s connections, inquiry, and knowledge since mid 2008, or later.

      Perhaps one day soon, we’ll be reading more and more actual testimony from once ‘insiders,’ as Silicon Valley™ increasingly eats itself, along with thousands of innocent residents, alive. Personally, as someone who’s lived and worked here for decades, I’d like to read more about the over half a century long Publically subsidized DOD connection, along with the backdoor dealings and obfuscations of: scandalous Federal, State and Local Politicians; Academia (e.g. Stanford, and the University of California System); Business Groups (e.g. The Bay Area Council, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Chambers of Commerce, etcetera); Old and New, Ill Gotten California Wealth; and Local VIP Newspaper Editors and ‘Columnists’ — without which cheerleaders, Silicon Valley, would never be the cesspool it is today.

      From the author:

      That’s the funny part of the tech industry’s narrative about itself. For tech, failure is always assumed to be temporary; for everyone else, it’s terminal.

      1. prx

        I’d like to read more about the over half a century long Publically subsidized DOD connection, along with the backdoor dealings and obfuscations of: scandalous Federal, State and Local Politicians; Academia (e.g. Stanford, and the University of California System); Business Groups (e.g. The Bay Area Council, the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, Chambers of Commerce, etcetera); Old and New, Ill Gotten California Wealth; and Local VIP Newspaper Editors and ‘Columnists’

        Follow Yasha Levine on Twitter and read his book, Surveillance Valley.

        1. anon

          I do frequently read Yasha’s twitter feed, I particularly appreciated his comments a few years ago, regarding not using Gmail, unfortunately, I’ve yet to see anyone else take up that banner.

          But, I was referring to insider’s experiences as regards the DOD and Silicon Valley, from Lockheed and prior, to Oracle, Palantir, Google, Facebook, Uber, etcetera.

  9. Wukchumni

    My mom subscribed to Mad, so that was my 1st magazine in that genre, followed by Cracked, National Lampoon, and then Private Eye in the UK, and I think Spy was the last of it’s type, all leading to the delinquent of a smart alec.

  10. fresno dan


    The hospital charged $164,941 for his surgery and four days in the hospital. Aetna, which administers health benefits for the Austin Independent School District, paid the hospital $55,840, records show. Despite the difference of more than $100,000, with the hospital’s prior assurance, Calver believed he would not bear much, if any, out-of-pocket payment for his life-threatening emergency and the surgery that saved him.

    And then the bills came.

    The hospital’s billing company sent a notice June 26, urging him to take advantage of this “FINAL opportunity to settle your balance.”

    This case “illustrates the dangers that even insured people face,” said Carol Lucas, an attorney in Los Angeles with experience in health care payment disputes. “The unfairness is especially acute when there is an emergency and the patient, who might ordinarily be completely compliant, has no say about the facility he winds up in.”
    American health “care” and American capitalism – screwing you so you learn about orifices you didn’t even know you had….

    1. Pat

      Considering the argument we have about ‘unlimited’ on other threads, I think we now need to start pointing out that the fine print in insurance contradicts the description of the coverage regularly. But insurance is more of a protected class, I believe.

    2. marym


      Monday, shortly after publication and broadcast of this story by Kaiser Health News and NPR, St. David’s said it was now willing to accept $782.29 to resolve the $108,951 balance because Drew Calver qualifies for its “financial assistance discount.” In a statement, the hospital said this offer was contingent on Calver submitting his application for a discount based on his household finances. Calver disputed that he owes any additional money to St. David’s and said this situation should have been resolved long before now.

  11. Tomonthebeach

    Few Democrats favor liberal cry to abolish ICE

    I do not want to abolish ICE either. We need border protection of some sort. That’s a no-brainer. However, our current ICE is a broken organization. Too many of its enforcement agents behave like ruthless storm troopers. Too many ICE agents go way beyond their job responsibilities and seem to delight in tormenting “suspected” illegals.

    Ripping babies from the arms of immigrant mothers and grandmothers because POTUS read some crap from QAnon, or some other fringe conspiracy-nut website, that all women accompanied by children were part of a smuggling ring that sells infants and children to pedophiles is reprehensible. Misplacing those children is contemptible.

    What we need is a change of organizational culture in ICE , a new agency name, and strictly supervised and enforced guidelines that treat people with dignity – even if there is irrefutable evidence of guilt. Democratic candidates who called for abolishing ICE are reflecting a lack of maturity and common sense. These are the same traits were would like to eliminate from Congress – regardless of party affiliation. It is difficult to see such change happening in a Republican-controlled administration

    1. dcblogger

      we have had border protection anytime since 1789. ICE dates from 2003. We don’t need child abduction to protect us. The need to go. An agency that far gone cannot be reformed.

      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        The Pre-911 La Migra wasn’t exactly a bunch of professional and enlightened Knights of the Round Table.
        Like with trump and ugly dysfunction, the difference now is that the mask has fallen away.
        Border Patrol used to roll through my part of the country every couple of years and “clean out” the Old Barrio…likely due to a call from the sheriff, or some other “concerned” person who likes action(sic).
        I’d be alerted early saturday morning that something was afoot by the scanner coming alive(now it’s all encrypted):
        They’d come with helicopters and a platoon and “sweep”…going door to door….taking mom’s and dad’s in their nightclothes(my MIL was one of the one’s who took it upon themselves to look after the abandoned kids)
        Usually in wintertime, so as not to interfere with harvest time(back when we had a harvest time).
        By spring, most of the abducted people would be back, ready for planting and calving and shearing and whatnot.
        It was theater.
        Pretty much like now….but worse, because there’s a movie studio in everyone’s pocket and we are likely desensitized to more mundane exhibitions of imperial force.
        I am not in any way confident that even abolishing ICE(“cold, hard”–not an accidental moniker) would somehow engender an humanitarian epiphany.

    2. nick

      “a change in organizational culture” is going to fix a group of “ruthless storm troopers” that “rip babies from the arms of immigrant mothers”??!?!

      Lmao just going by quotes this post is the farthest thing from common sense.

      Are those migrants human or are they not? If the answer is yes, we need to figure out a system that treats them as such and that sure as sit isn’t a rebranded ICE.

      1. Tomonthebeach

        Culture change means far more than rebranding. Culture change is something that has been in my job description most of my caree. It means offloading toxic employees from the top on down. Culture change means changing reward structures and creating disincentives for undesirable behaviors. It means intense training in the ways of doing one’s job that drives home and instills new organizational norms for behavior by linking those norms to consequences.

        Culture change is not easy, and too often, top leaders undermine the changes they want. A great example is the FAA. After the PATCO strike I was involved in helping the Administrator change a toxic culture. I did not succeed despite 7 years of effort because Reagan fired the wrong people. He fired the aggrieved controllers and kept the management team in place that created the toxic culture which triggered the strike. Within 2 years, top managers had ensured that the same toxic culture prevailed by promoting the jerks and driving out more-enlightened leaders. The FAA remains a union shop with the same grievances as always. We did get some positive organizational change (no strikes since then), but efforts fell far short of culture change. ICE needs culture change.

  12. Steely Glint


    Words that Lakota developed for words they never had: yul’aya wayázaŋsú (cancer seed) for carcinogen; ziŋtkála bubúke (clumsy bird) for puffin; yapȟápȟapi othí, (place where they snack quickly) for delicatessen

    Among the Umatilla of Washington, there is a story of a black cloud that hovers over the coyote, foiling the coyote’s schemes by given away his location. Smartphone in Umatilla is thus “the black cloud that is always following.”

  13. Wukchumni

    The majority of avocados we eat come from Mexico and if things get dire in terms of trade deals and resultant lack of guacamole, would it be possible to rip out single family housing where vast orchards of them were in my youth, and grow them here again?

    1. Lee

      I feel likewise about the fruit and veg bowl that was the Santa Clara valley of my youth. Some 400 square miles of the richest agricultural land on the face of the earth have been paved over where we used drive for miles through vast orchards in bloom on our way to Santa Cruz. To paraphrase:

      Where plowman once tilled the earth
      Where they grew the vine
      None of them along the line
      Know what they lost was worth.

  14. clarky90

    Re; “never underestimate how flexible, feral, and effective conservatives are….”

    “Rape, The Projects, Rejecting Victimhood, Leaving the Left.” #WalkAway


    I watched this walkaway testimony last night. It is of a young, white, gay guy who was raped. It is a compelling vignette of a brutal life.

    AND, the comments are uniformly welcoming, positive and supportive. Even, loving. There are a few anti-gay commentators, who are shouted down and accused of being Paid Provocateurs.

  15. Plenue

    I define ‘Left’ as based firmly in material issues of class and ownership. This includes the environment. Everything else are secondary issues layered on top of that foundation. They may genuinely matter, but they matter a lot less than basic needs like clean water and not being homeless.

    That many Chinese consider the environment to be some sort of SJW, virtue signaling issue is fascinating, and extremely worrying. Putting aside the issue of climate change (maybe many Chinese are like many Russians and consider it some western propaganda lie meant to undermine their economy), you would think the simple fact of air pollution visibly rendering major Chinese cities deadly would show that the issue matters.

  16. Pavel

    I’m old enough to remember reading SPY magazine in NYC back in the day and enjoying it immensely.

    I’m also thus old enough to remember Mario Cuomo’s various campaigns. I admired him at the time but his son has turned out to be an abomination.

    Separately, and bitterly, Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are now dead to me after their disgraceful “tributes” to evil corrupt warmonger John McCain. Forgive me for being so sensitive.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are still just as alive as ever to me. Forgive me for being so coolly and sensibly pragmatic.

  17. clarky90

    I encountered this idea on RT’s, The Keiser Report.

    Keiser said that the “News” from the MSM, is in fact not real news…

    BUT, the subconscious musings of the .01%.

    Suddenly, what I see on TV and read in the NYT, WaPo becomes a fascinating, Hero’s journey into the inner, subterranean world of our panicking, Ruling Classes!

    1. clarky90

      Perhaps an explanation of the strident wailing accompanying the death of John McCain in the MSM? TPTB are truly bereft. They have lost one of their heroes.

    2. clarky90

      This just occurred to me;

      The MSM’s unending panic/dread of Vladimir Putin, and Orthodox Christian Russia, is genuine!

      Previously, I had assumed that “Russia. Russia, Russia Russia” was a clumsy subterfuge. “A dog ate my homework” ruse.

      However, I now suspect that the USAian Oligarchs are filled with heart-felt fear. They have seen how Putin has tamed (or imprisoned) the Russian Oligarchy.

      And…….Obama and HRC have left the field of action

      1. Richard

        “tamed” is the right word for it
        kept from tearing Russia to bloody pieces, as they have done once and would do again
        But also kept as partners, for what is Putin himself?

  18. Anon

    Re: Trump’s Black Support

    It’s slow going, but he does seem to be ever so slightly winning them over. Coincidentally, just as the Rasmussen poll showed Trump at around 30%-ish black support was the same day that the whole N-word tape came out as well. I think I look rather awful in tinfoil, but the timing is just too good.

    1. barrisj

      Well, he’s got Tiger Woods in his corner…who sez, “Respect the office”, as he does another round of golf with Orange-utan.

      1. Hamford

        >My guess is it could be as simple as Kanye West.

        Oh c’mon. That seems pretty presumptuous and uninformed… your assertion is based on what?

        Do you presume the Black community is so homogenous and vacillitating that their support can be summoned because of one popular culture figure? Seriously? That’s akin to saying whites like Trump because Tom Brady likes Trump.

        1. Anon

          Do you presume the Black community is so homogenous and vacillitating that their support can be summoned because of one popular culture figure? Seriously?

          Didn’t someone else think like this? That person even had a free concert with a popular rapper and R&B singer because the belief was that strong! Who could that have been, I’m drawing a blank here…

  19. PKMKII

    Part of the problem with the ICE issue, and the way the AP article frames it highlights this, is that there’s a conflation of ICE (the people who arrest your local pizza deliveryman for overstaying his visa) and border patrol (the people who put people crossing the border seeking asylum in cages). As if handling the undocumented already here as an administrative, bureaucratic function instead of an law enforcement one must automatically mean a particular position towards how we handle people crossing the border. So there’s a lot of guilt by association and even people thinking that one does a function actually done by the other, which gives us the current incoherence.

    Regarding the black support for Trump: My wife has a subordinate, young black man. He said that a lot of his also young black male friends either sat out the 2016 election, or voted for Trump, because they didn’t trust a woman in the White House. Which is another problem with liberal idpol, it falsely assumes automatic solidarity among PoC/Women/LGBTQ.

  20. allan

    Four Democratic congressional candidates buck party leaders to oppose California’s gas-tax increase [LA Times]

    …The defections could bolster Proposition 6, a Republican-led initiative on the November ballot that would repeal a 2017 law that increased the state’s gas tax and vehicle fees to fix roads and improve mass transit. Six Republican congressional candidates helped fund the ballot measure in hopes of boosting conservative voter turnout and changing the outcome in some close races.

    Now, the gas tax increase is also opposed by Democratic congressional candidates Katie Porter of Irvine, Josh Harder of Turlock, Jessica Morse of Pollock Pines and Ammar Campa-Najjar of east San Diego County, according to a survey of contenders by The Times.

    “I support Proposition 6, which repeals the gas tax,” said Harder, a venture capitalist who is challenging Central Valley GOP Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock in a district that Hillary Clinton won two years ago.

    “We all agree that we need to fix our roads and bridges, especially here in the valley, but it should be through a thoughtful, cost-effective national plan, not through another tax we can’t afford like a gas tax that hurts working families,” Harder said. …

    Feel the Blue Wave™. Who among us is not a VC thoughtfully fighting for working families?

  21. cybrestrike

    “Where do they find these people?”

    I know three black Trump supporters.

    One is an acquaintance who I occasionally have a drink with. He’s former military, like myself, but he gulped up the right wing authoritarian tendencies and is pro-cop, pro-Republican everything, anti-immigrant, etc. His Facebook feed reads like your typical 50-something year old white guy–except he’s black. Dresses like he’s post punk, but acts like Thatcher.

    The second is my uncle. He’s in his sixties, and he’s always been right wing. I remember my late grandfather and him arguing late after family gatherings. My grandfather was a staunch leftist (it’s where my politics come from). But my uncle loves Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, InfoWars, supports everything Trump does, and is basically impossible to argue with–even though he has a hilariously superficial understanding about policy in general. The man is a brick wall a mile high and a mile thick.

    The third is my cousin. He’s about a month and a half older than me, and we always had a tough time getting along as children. Basically came down to his authoritarian nature versus my rebellious nature. We had a huge falling out after I called him out in front of everyone when we were 17 (we’re in our 40’s now), and it took us years to somewhat reconcile. He voted for Trump, has always been virulently homophobic (to the point of using anti-LGBT slurs in the open–which I have called him out on repeatedly), and he is extremely religious.

    Black Trump supporters are out there. And they’re closer than any of us actually think. They just do a good job of hiding it.

    1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Re The Wedding:

      File it under: ‘Egregious Sense of Entitlement’

      I’m not saying it isn’t real, but … and after all, some people really go bat-excrement crazy over weddings. Great stuff either way.

      If it is real, I’d like to be a fly on the wall when she encounters her friends or former friends.


  22. Richard

    Congratulations Lambert! After 1000 more Water Coolers you will throw a stick at an obelisk, work with a homicidal computer, and turn into a baby.
    Just kidding. After 1000 more Water Coolers we’ll be in a better place, I just know it. Certainly far better than without 1000 more Water Coolers. I love this place, with so many wise friends to listen to and talk with, including Lambert, who I need to read every day now. I need to know I’m not experiencing this alone, or I think I would be in serious distress. Maybe some others feel like me. Being here feels important, not an idle choice.
    So congratulations and thanks Lambert, for sharing this space with all of us, for the benefit of the many. And thanks to everyone else, just for being here.

  23. Darthbobber

    Krugman up with a nicely unhinged piece today. Apparently, should the blue wave fall short in the house we will inevitably become either Poland or Hungary. All seems to be down to “White nationalism run wild.”

    Economics? “And don’t talk to me about ‘economic anxiety’.” Can’t even use the phrase without scare quotes.

    Seems “studies show” that Trump support was all down to racial resentment. (Hmm, we read different studies, or we read studies differently.)

    And Poland experienced steady (aggregate) growth post financial crisis. Can he really still not see that aggregate growth is perfectly compatible with widespread economic insecurity among a large chunk of the population? Why does he think so many University educated Poles “choose” to take fairly menial jobs in the UK? Preference for English weather, perhaps?

    It’s right there. Under his nose. And he. Just. Can’t. See. It.

    1. Plenue

      I’ve encountered the ‘studies show’ claim myself. How exactly one can prove that people voted for Trump because they’re just scared racist cavemen, I don’t know (and indeed the study I’ve been most directed to https://www.prri.org/research/white-working-class-attitudes-economy-trade-immigration-election-donald-trump/ proves nothing of the sort).

      The fact that we have extensive documentation and audiovisual evidence of actually going to places that voted for Trump and asking people why they did, and the answer frequently being economic is dismissed as ‘anecdotal’.

      And the reality that 200+ counties that previously voted twice for Obama flipped to Trump? Silence is the only response I’ve ever gotten on that one.

      1. Darthbobber

        I’ve since put myself through the bother of following the Krugster’s link to the VOx summation of “studies show”, and of course none of them use a methodology as prosaic as ASKING people the reasons for their vote. Nor do any of them break out Trump support specifically from supporters of the Republican Party generally, in spite of the fairly clear fact that about 95% of Trump voters were the same folks who support GOP candidates generally.

        Most of them rely on a battery of questions designed to determine racism and sexism by indirect methods, and apparently none of them require a person to believe in the inherent inferiority of a race or a gender in order to be unambiguously assigned a racist or sexist position on a bipolar scale according to which one either “is” or “is not.”

        I actually read one study which took the indirection a step further by sounding out voters about whether the 1950s were better or worse than the present, and assuming that if you affected a nostalgia for the society of the 50s it just MUST be the gender and racial hierarchy of the era that appealed. (Leaving aside the fact that if you’re younger than 65+ you have no meaningful memory of the 50s, there WERE a few other differences.)

        All in all, the choice of methodologies leads me to think that the desired conclusion was formulated first. Something along the line of “basket of deplorables.”

      2. marym

        One prominent interviewer of Trump supporters is being questioned on Twitter, with documentation (a bit diffuse, but links here, and here).

        Trump and his administration haven’t put forth any policies or programs to provide material benefits to ordinary people, and many that will do harm. His rally speeches and tweets make job-related claims about “clean coal” and “steel plants” that aren’t substantiated; and claims about the economy that represent somewhat positive trends, like unemployment numbers, that have been on-going for several years, and are no better, or, in the short term a little worse, than in the Obama years, with no substantive policy changes to account for the differences.

        On the other hand, these speeches, tweets, and policies have a lot of racial/ethnic animosity. For example, when he talks about immigration, it’s not about low wages, but about crime, as if the latter were the real threat.

        So we’ll see, eventually, if a lack of either policy or rhetoric to addresses material conditions provides a lasting foundation for his support. We’ll also see, in the meantime, how much further harm his actual policies and rhetoric can do to our civic life.

        It would be interesting to know, as far as districts that went from Obama to Trump, whether there are comparisons as to whether they went from Bush to Obama – possibly people with economic grievances looking for any possibility of change. I lack the facts or skills to address that perspective.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            numbers from memory:
            in my county of 4500 souls, about 1200 people voted in the repub primary(cruz was the fave, trump was third, IIRC)…and half that voted R in the general.
            The poor and the brown and the precarious didn’t vote at all, as usual.
            The gop turnout in the primary was greater than the norm(dem turnout in primary was down…and most of those voted for Herself)…and much less than norm in the general.
            (dem general turnout was also lower than normal).
            This indicates to me that there was little enthusiasm for trump…and even less for Herself…in my corner of the Imperium….and that the people who took the time to vote were pretty much the same one’s who always take the time to vote.
            Apathy/Disgust/Despair is the true winner, here.
            I’d like to see Pew or whomever go around in the hinterlands and ask questions about the actual majority in the electorate.
            I wouldn’t be surprised if the shape of it out here also obtains elsewhere.

  24. ColdHeartedLiberal

    “The U.S. and Mexico agreed to increase regional automotive content to 75 percent from the current 62.5 percent in Nafta, with 40 percent to 45 percent of production by workers earning at least $16 an hour . . . ”

    I wonder what the current percentage of production at $16 or more an hour is. Combined with the increased regional production, who knows if this would actually increase moving production to Canada and/or Mexico.

  25. Victoria Else

    “How placebos work is still not quite understood, but it involves a complex neurobiological reaction that includes everything from increases in feel-good neurotransmitters, like endorphins and dopamine, to greater activity in certain brain regions linked to moods, emotional reactions, and self-awareness. All of it can have therapeutic benefit.” https://www.health.harvard.edu/mental-health/the-power-of-the-placebo-effect

    My take: anything that would work using biofeedback should also work with placebo treatments. E.g., immune system, nervous system, stress reactions, hormonal systems can be triggered or stopped, and these effects can be maintained, using biofeedback. That’s because many “autonomic” systems can actually be made consciously manipulable, as yogis have done for centuries. Richard Kulinski (aka the Ice Man), under strict scientific monitoring, is actually able to consciously fight off serious bacterial infections and has trained others to be able to do the same thing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUQwFZ_xFdM

    In short, many things we currently treat with pills could actually be managed in this manner–but it takes training. I wouldn’t expect the placebo effect to work that well with pills alone.

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