2:00PM Water Cooler 9/11/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“One of the electronics world’s bedrock supply chains is getting caught up in U.S.-China trade tensions. Apple Inc. warns proposed U.S. tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods would affect some of its signature products…, highlighting questions over the global manufacturing strategies that are central to consumer electronics” [Wall Street Journal]. “Apple’s alarm marks the first time the company has detailed specific damage the trade battle could inflict on its hardware lineup, and its potential impact on network of suppliers across its Asia-focused supply chain. President Trump has a simple solution for Apple, saying the company should move production to the U.S. from China, where it assembles most of its products.”

“Roughly two months after President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker established a temporary trade truce, the United States and European Union are pressing ahead with plans to reach both quick results on bilateral trade in areas like regulatory cooperation as well as longer-term initiatives that might require Congress’ participation” [Politico]. “U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström met for roughly three hours Monday morning in Brussels as part of the new Executive Working Group, which Trump and Juncker set up in July to tamp down escalating tensions stemming from the steel and aluminum tariffs. Afterward, the two leaders spoke of a ‘forward-looking’ and ‘constructive’ meeting in which they discussed ‘how to achieve concrete results in the short to medium term,’ as Malmström put it in a Twitter statement. Lighthizer added that ‘specifically, we hope for an early harvest in the area of technical barriers to trade.'” • Makes me wonder if Trump whacking Canada was an example of “kill a chicken to scare the monkeys.”

“The Trump administration remains hopeful that it’ll be able to close a three-way deal that includes Canada, White House officials said Monday. “We continue to have ongoing conversations with the Canadians and are still hopeful we’ll come to an agreement with them,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters” [Politico]. • FWIW!



UPDATE “Is the Left Ready to Handle National Security?” [Politico]. “One of the problems with the left’s principled foreign policy positions is that they resemble something the left has spent a lifetime rallying against: neoliberalism. For the left, the term ‘neoliberalism’ has often had a pejorative association with capitalist empire; a ruling class controlling the global means of production while the rest of us take out loans for our avocado toast. Yet neoliberal foreign policy—especially as understood in the field of international relations—reflects a commitment to democracy promotion, human rights, economic interdependence, multilateralism over unilateralism, the primacy of upholding international commitments and the legitimacy of international institutions like the United Nations. In other words, a neoliberal foreign policy looks strikingly similar to what the left repeatedly advocates. It should thus be unsurprising that some neoliberals are of the political left.” • “Reflects a commitment” is doing a lot of work, there. How did the Iraq War do any of those things? How did [genuflects] Obama’s drone strikes?


55 days until Election Day. 55 days is a long time in politics.

UPDATE “Establishment Democrats Are Pouring Millions Into Rhode Island to Save an Unpopular Governor From an Insurgent Challenge” [The Intercept]. “Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo is working to fend off a progressive, albeit underfunded, primary challenge from the left. Matt Brown, a former Rhode Island secretary of state, is running a grassroots campaign against Raimondo, who he describes as ‘the most extreme corporatist Democrat in the country.’ The Democratic Governors Association has pumped in $1 million to support Raimondo, money that won’t be available for Georgia, Florida, or Maryland.” • The article doesn’t mention how Raimondo is beholden to private equity, but it should have.

UPDATE “Their new mission? Foil Trump. Ex-intelligence officials run for Congress as Democrats.” [CNBC]. “Fed up with what they see as Trump’s disdain and distrust of the intelligence community — and his refusal to embrace fully the conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election — an unusually large number of former intelligence officers and operatives are campaigning for office as Democrats in this fall’s midterm elections, according to experts.” • WSWS posted on this back in March, which more people would know about, if Google didn’t suppress them.

Obama Legacy

“Obama, Trump, and the Golden Age of political hypocrisy” [Patrick Eddington, The Hill]. “But the fact of the matter is that Obama and key former senior officials who worked for him lack the moral authority and political credibility to go after Trump on the issues of “honesty and lawfulness” in government. Their past misdeeds and untruthfulness while in federal service render their attacks on Trump hypocritical and hollow. This is particularly true among that segment of the public that voted for Trump in 2016 but who might be persuaded to reconsider that decision in 2020, assuming Trump is not removed from office before then. That Trump is unfit—emotionally and temperamentally—to remain in office is manifest. That key Democratic “leaders” in the so-called “Resistance” are themselves ethically and politically bankrupt is also obvious.” • Eddington is from the Cato Institute….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Campaigns, Parties Can Accept Free Service From Microsoft, FEC Says” [Roll Call]. “Federal campaigns and national party committees can accept free security services from the Microsoft Corporation after a recent Federal Election Commission ruling…. The ruling, approved by a 4-0 vote at a commission hearing Thursday, noted the potentially ‘severe and long-term’ damage to the Microsoft brand if a campaign were breached by hackers, especially considering the, “public scrutiny regarding foreign attempts to influence U.S. elections…. Federal election law prohibits companies from providing free services to lawmakers. But the FEC would make an exception in this case, it ruled, because Microsoft would be acting out of business interests and not trying to curry favor. The decision also noted that Microsoft has promised to offer the services ‘on a non-partisan basis.'” • Huh? We’re rewriting the law because a corporate brand might be damaged? Who’s running the FEC these days? Lanny Breuer*? NOTE * See link at “you made a reference to losing sleep at night, worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution.”

“How Money Affects Elections” [FiveThirtyEight]. “Money is certainly strongly associated with political success. But, ‘I think where you have to change your thinking is that money causes winning,’ said Richard Lau, professor of political science at Rutgers. ‘I think it’s more that winning attracts money.'” • Hmm. Hard to imagine political scientists can’t take this into account.

“Rogue billionaires are giving the GOP and Democrats a migraine” [McClatchy]. “Republican Richard Uihlein and Democrat Tom Steyer have poured tens of millions of dollars into the 2018 campaign. And their political parties are irritated about it…. ‘Both parties have never been weaker than they are at this point in time,’ said Jim Manley, a longtime Democratic operative. ‘It allows vanity projects to dominate the process. These wealthy donors are taking over functions that have usually been left to the parties in years past.'” • Hmm. “It’s her turn” sounds an awful lot like a “vanity project” to me. As, to be fair, does the exclamation point in “Jeb!”

“AP Poll: Voters open to candidates who aren’t very religious” [Associated Press]. “Just 25 percent of Americans say it’s very or extremely important that a candidate has strong religious beliefs, according to the poll. Only 19 percent consider it very or extremely important that a candidate shares their own beliefs, and nearly half say that’s not very important or not important at all…. Still, most Americans see a role for religion in shaping public policy. A solid majority of Americans, 57 percent, want the influence of religion on government policy to extend beyond traditional culture war issues and into policies addressing poverty. Americans are more likely to say religion should have at least some influence on poverty than on abortion (45 percent) or LGBT issues (34 percent).” • Looks like the Poor People’s Campaign is more in the mainstream than one might think.

“State Supreme Courts Increasingly Face Partisan Impeachment Threats” [Governing]. “The current effort to impeach the entire West Virginia Supreme Court, while not unprecedented, is taking place against a backdrop of political attacks against judges elsewhere…. Still, in a time of intense partisan divisions, voters want to see their ‘team’ win more often. They’re less likely to worry about an assault on separation of powers or other concepts that they may hazily remember from civics class. After Senate Republicans kept a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court vacant for more than a year, GOP voters were a lot less interested in punishing them for violating a norm than they were in electing a president who would pick a justice they liked.” • The Norms Fairy makes an appearance…

“Wear gloves” [West Coast Stat Views].

More on blockchain under “The Bezzle,” below.

UPDATE “A Statement by R.L. Stephens Regarding the DSA Investigation” [Google Docs]. • I am not au courant with DSA’s internal politics. But no matter how you slice it, this doesn’t look good.

UPDATE “Report of Independent Investigation into Allegations of Sexual Assault, Harassment and Bullying” (PDF) [Cohen, Weiss, and Simon]. For background–

UPDATE “A Conversation with R.L. Stephens” [Philadelphia Partisan]. R.L. Stephens. “Let’s talk about the brake light program, for example. The brake light program is not something that I came up with. It started in New Orleans, where people are going and trying to replace tail lights on cars, having an articulation of how the police use these broken tail lights to pull people over. They conceived of it as a mutual aid program. There’s a variety of different ways that people are looking at this program: mutual aid or whether there’s going to be a campaign to actually attack the police relations that actually put people in danger […] There’s a lot of criticism. This got called ‘white saviorism’ in the organization which, again, in this context is a re-articulation of this brokerage thing: ‘Is Black emancipation just for Black people?’ And their answer is ‘Yes,’ because if you try to participate in it, then you’re a white savior. I think that pejorative was a disciplining mechanism to try to delegitimize the efforts of people in this organization to break out of this trickle-down, entitlement-based, mass politics. […] And, it wasn’t just a disciplining mechanism against the white people in the organization, because there were people of color doing it too, and they got called ‘white saviors’! And there was a conversation about ‘these people,’ the masses, are not our base. There was chatter around that!” • Hmmm…

Stats Watch

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, August 2018: “The Small Business Optimism Index rose 0.9 points in August to 108.8, a new record in the survey’s 45-year history” [Econoday]. “Featuring the highest reading in inventory investment plans since 2005 and the highest reading for capital spending plans since 2007, as well as historical records in job creation and job openings, the August survey shows small business owners shifting into high gear to realize their earlier less concrete optimistic expectations of better business conditions and the view that now is a good time to expand. Yet the survey results may be seen as indicative of overheating, supporting the need for further tightening by the Fed.” And: “The record-breaking figure is driven by small business owners executing on the plans they’ve put in place due to dramatic changes in the nation’s economic policy” [Econintersect]. And: “A record 25% of owners cited “quality of labor” as the single most important problem facing their company 34% said now is a good time to expand business, up two points from prior month” [Industry Week]. And: “Note: Usually small business owners complain about taxes and regulations. However, during the recession, “poor sales” was the top problem. Now the difficulty of finding qualified workers is the top problem” [Calculated Risk].

JOLTS, July 2018: “Job openings are absolutely surging while hiring is falling further behind” [Econoday]. “The number of openings, for the first time on record, moved past the number of people actively looking for work in March this year. This gap also keeps widening…. Another sign of pressure, one watched by Jerome Powell, is the quits rate in this report which, up 1 tenth to 2.4 percent, is on the rise and what points to increasing willingness of those with jobs to look for better work.” • One word, Jerome: “Monopsony.” Not to worry. And: “Job openings are at a record level, and quits are increasing year-over-year. This was a strong report” [Calculated Risk]. And but: “The headline seasonally adjusted view shows little change in job openings. The unadjusted data analysis shows rate of growth did not significantly change” [Econintersect].

Wholesale Trade, July 2018: “Wholesales inventories rose… in a welcome build that will not only help third-quarter GDP but will narrow the gap with underlying sales” [Econoday]. “Checking tariff effects, inventories of metals at the wholesale level are showing significant distortions.” • I dunno if I’d say “distortions,” because I don’t believe in The Equilibrium Fairy. Perhaps “the effects of new power relations?” And: “Overall, I believe the rolling averages tell the real story – and they improved this month. The short term trends are showing an improving cycle beginning in 2016” [Econintersect]. “Inventory levels this month are are the high side of normal – but not recessionary.”

Consumer Expecations: “July 2018 Consumer Expectations: Largely Unchanged” [Econintersect]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data released the August 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows a slight increase in the medium-term inflation expectations. Expectations about income and spending growth remained stable, while expectations about household financial situations improved… Median one-year ahead earnings growth expectations increased from 2.4% in July to 2.5% in August, tying its 12-month trailing average. The increase was most pronounced among lower educated (high school degree or less) respondents.”

Income: “Americans Haven’t Felt This Good About Income Growth Since 2001” [Transport Topics]. “Economists say the country is close to full employment, but pay gains for American workers have been flat since 2015. Even last week’s upward blip in wage growth could be wiped out by inflation. Yet Americans haven’t been this optimistic about future pay raises since the century began, according to the Conference Board’s monthly surveys. The question is why. Answers are elusive.”

Shipping: “Déjà vu all over again: kill the Jones Act now” [Freight Waves]. “Understanding the full implications of the Jones Act is complicated, as it reaches into a variety of sectors and interests. There are no less than 16 congressional committees and 6 federal agencies that have some form of oversight authority on the Jones Act. Nevertheless, the incumbent interests, regulators, and politicians inured to the privileges of a system that benefits a concentrated and well-organized few, persist…. While the world eyes the imminent devastation of Hurricane Florence, other storms such as Hurricane Isaac are also barreling headlong toward North American island communities…. It looks like [Puerto Rico] very well may get hit again. Among all the impediments standing in their way on the long road to recovery, the Jones Act won’t be going anywhere. It’s like a bad dream all over again.”

Shipping: “Air freight capacity concerns prompt new forwarder strategies” [Lloyd’s List]. “Reflecting concerns expressed by other freight forwarders, SEKO Logistics’ VP for marketing, Brian Bourke told Lloyd’s Loading List that despite infrastructure and cargo handling constraints at several airports recently in Europe and elsewhere, the biggest concern facing the industry was not accommodating higher volumes of air freight through the airports, where he argued there was sufficient ground handling provision in place, but a lack of aircraft capacity and lift.”

Transportation: “Is New Car Technology Leading to More Distracted Driving?” [Automotive IQ]. “These bells and whistles aren’t a terrible thing, but having too many toys in your car can be dangerous. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, just taking your eyes off the road for two seconds can more than double your risk for a car accident.” And here is a typology of driver distraction:

Types of Driver Distraction
Unfortunately, you can still be distracted even if you have your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road. There are three main types of driver distraction, which include:

1. Manual: You’ve taken your hands off the wheel for some reason, whether it’s to check your cell phone, adjust the AC or turn up the radio.
2. Visual: You’ve taken your eyes off the road.
3. Cognitive: You’ve taken your mind off the road.

If you pick up your cell phone to check a text message, you’re experiencing all three types of driver distraction. Even hands-free technology isn’t fully distraction-free. Telling your car to call someone and then having a conversation is a type of cognitive distraction, even if your hands are on the wheel and your eyes are on the road.

Texting and driving is directly responsible for one out of every four car accidents. According to experts, you’re six times more likely to be involved in a car accident while texting and driving than you are while driving under the influence. Remember how we mentioned that taking your eyes away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of a car accident? Answering a text takes roughly five seconds.

There were 37,461 fatal car accidents in the United States in 2016; one quarter of 37.461 is 9365, the price of convenience, you might say. And also the price of “permissionless innovation.” I imagine the application of the precautionary principle to cell phones would have saved those lives, but it’s hard to see how that would work out in practice, institutionally.

The Bezzle: “Nomura/Instinet Downgrades Tesla Motors (TSLA) to Neutral, Says Equity is ‘No Longer Investable'” [Street Insider]. Nomura/Instinet analyst Romit Shah: What Apple taught us is that, once brand recognition is established, consumer behavior can begin to deviate from traditional economics in ways that benefit the company immensely. With the launch of Model 3, we saw that consumers were willing to forego compelling alternatives despite extended wait times and a premium price point. That said, consumers are fickle and we suspect could become scared about buying a Tesla if they believe the company might not be around long term.” • Readers, I’m not sure how this source got on my list. If there are better alternatives, please suggest. Thanks!

The Bezzle: “Breaking the blockchain: Major projects shelved as hype fades” [Financial News]. “many of the capital markets projects announced in recent years have been delayed, put in limbo or shelved altogether.” (Projects at the Australian Stock Exchange, Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation, and NEX Group.) More: “For much of finance, the fact that participants on the blockchain can see each others’ transactions has proven to be an obstacle. Faced with the prospect of overhauling their internal systems in order to participate in blockchain-related trials, banks have chosen instead to fall back on existing technology — calling the value of the trials into question…. Not connecting directly to the blockchain is less efficient, but given the alternative of potentially exposing transactions to the entire market, banks are treading lightly.” • Well worth a read for blockchain and banking IT buffs.

Our Famously Free Press

“How Faking Videos Became Easy and Why That’s So Scary” [Bloomberg]. “A minute-long video of Barack Obama has been seen more than 4.8 million times since April. It shows the former U.S. president seated, with the American flag in the background, speaking directly to the viewer and using an obscenity to refer to his successor, Donald Trump. Or rather, his lips move as the words are spoken. The video is actually a so-called deep fake made by actor-director Jordan Peele, who impersonated Obama’s voice. Peele created the video to illustrate the dangers of fabricated audio and video content depicting people saying or doing things they never actually said or did. Researchers at New York University describe deep fakes as a ‘menace on the horizon.'” • Not on the horizon at all. Suppose the big revea of RussiaRussiaRussia is digital. How on earth are we to trust the provenance, given the actors and the stakes?

UPDATAE “In choosing The New York Times to distribute the anonymous op-ed, ‘I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration,” the Republican writer reaffirmed what we’ve only seen reinforced in the last two years: The Times still stands for credible, accountable, agenda-setting news reporting and analysis. The right-wing pseudo press may decry it, but, day after day, they follow it. They remain reactive” [Nieman Labs]. • After Judy Miller’s really and truly fake WMDs story helped ignite the Iraq War, which the Times was all in for. After the Times suppressed James Risen’s story on warrantless surveillance until after Bush was safely elected to his second term. In fairness, these incidents do not speak to the factual claim that the Times is “credible, accountable, agenda-setting.” But one might ask why that remains so.


“California Mandate for 100% Clean Energy by 2045 Signed Into Law” [Courthouse News]. “The climate change mandate forces utilities to incrementally ditch fossil fuels in favor of renewable electricity and joins the Golden State with Hawaii as the only states wholly committed to a zero-carbon energy sector. [Governor Jerrry] Brown says Senate Bill 100 puts California in line with the goals of the United Nations Paris Agreement and prepares the state for the “existential threat” of climate change.” ª Kevin DeLeón, the author of the bill, is running for Senate (he supports Medicare for All).

“In Detroit, urban beekeepers partner with businesses to build a bee highway” [New Food Economy]. “People think of beekeeping as a rural pursuit, but honeybees can thrive in urban areas. Comprehensive studies on urban beekeeping are limited, but data in specific geographies from Boston to London suggest that bees actually do better in cities than in rural areas…. ‘The levels of pesticides and fertilizers is much higher in a rural setting because of people treating their crops or in suburban areas,’ Peterson-Roest says. ‘Everybody has to have the best-looking lawn, and they spray for those dandelions and want to make sure that their yard is weed-free. But nobody is spraying the abandoned lots and the organic gardens.’… Urban environments also provide diversity in food sources for bees,

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Meth Makes a Comeback as Opioid Epidemic Worsens in Colorado” [Governing]. “Meth’s resurgence comes as the opioid epidemic continues to worsen across Colorado. Statewide, 1,012 people died of accidental overdoses last year, 100 more than in 2016, state health department records show.” • These lives are not professional lives, so they don’t matter to liberal Democrats. Hence, there’s no party position or program.

Class Warfare

“Balloting materials to be mailed tomorrow on UPS-Teamster pacts” [DC Velocity]. “Balloting materials will be mailed out starting tomorrow for Teamsters union members to vote on proposed five-year contracts covering 256,000 workers at UPS Inc.’s small-package operations and 12,000 additional workers at the Atlanta-based company’s less-than-truckload (LTL) unit, according to Teamster dissident group Teamsters for a Democratic Union (TDU). For the first time in the long relationship between UPS and the Teamsters, contract voting will be conducted electronically. Each member will be given a personal identification number which they will use either to vote online or by telephone to a computer, TDU said..” • Yikes! This uses the same horrid architecture that CalPERS does, which leads to speculate that CalPERS management is using this technology due to, if not union pressure, a union’s weltanschauung. The question of why union leadership would advocate for an inherently insecure voting method being, at this point, open…

“data for politics #20: A #MeToo Effect? Attitudes About Gender Equality and Workplace Harassment” [Data for Progress]. “The #MeToo movement, and the discussion of #MeToo in the media may have led to the increased awareness of sexual harassment against women in the workplace. However, this data suggests that the movement may not be changing Americans’ views on other key issues that are connected to harassment: discrimination in the workplace, gender equality, and attitudes about women who speak out against harassment. Although the #MeToo movement may be talked about as a watershed moment for sex equality, its reach is not universal and many attitudes about equality, opportunity, and harassment aren’t yet moved.” • Concerning if you’re in the “raising awareness” business, as so many NGOs are. Also concerning if you’re in the closely allied stigmatization sector. Unless your business model is the self-licking ice cream cone, of course.

“The next financial crisis ‘will be more severe’ socially and politically, says billionaire investor Dalio” [MarketWatch]. • I’m not even going to quote Dalio’s views on macro, which are horrible. And I’m seeing this narrative everywhere, which is making me counter-suggestible; there’s some weird kind of normalization going on, and I don’t like it. And if the next crash comes from accounting control-fraud leverage, like the last one, where’s that happening?

“America moves closer to being a cashless society” [MarketWatch]. “Cashless commerce is popping up around the country, particularly in restaurants catering to a younger crowd, which is likely to leave home without any greenbacks, or even a wallet, and instead choose to live life with a smartphone and a few credit or debit cards attached. Businesses who’ve gone cashless rave about the results. Flatstick owner Sam Largent told me plastic-only reduces error rates during times of complex accounting, such as calculating tips when shifts change. Cash sure seems to be on the ropes. The dollar value of cash transactions sank 7% from 2010 to 2015, according to The Nilson Report, while credit and debit card payments rose nearly 50%. Meanwhile, ATMs, which had their 50th birthday last year, are disappearing around the block and around the world, signaling the decline of the “cash run.” • Some shelves were bare at the convenience store where I forage for snacks; the cashier explained that they were short-staffed, with some new hires out sick, and then attributed that to their having to handle germ-laden cash. Call me crazy, but this is a college town, and the students are back. I would bet their hacking and sneezing in our first cold snap has more to do with viral transmission than cash, so propaganda works…

News of The Wired

“Illusion of control: Why the world is full of buttons that don’t work” [CNN]. • This story seems to be broken at “Read more.” Still, I love the notion of a “placebo button”!

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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 (MG):

MG writes: “This is a Tartarian Cherry tree in our local city rose garden.” I love that twisted trunk, so at odds with the simple sphericity of the cherry. It’s hard to shoot into the sun, so I fiddled with the levels a bit. I hope this reproduces on-screen. Also “local rose garden”!

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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. John k

    Next crash coming from control fraud?
    In general, recessions happen when feds think unemployment too low, raise rates until economy can’t take it, recession arrives. So we can check off that bit.
    Every time has some different element. This time we get trade wars… granted the big importers not hurt as much as the big exporters, but still potentially serious. Apple already squealing re potential hit to profits from tariffs, and Apple profits are a big chunk of overall profits… some other internationals also vulnerable.
    IMO stocks are holding up the economy and vice versa. If either leg goes the other goes, too.
    And trump threatens to shut down gov while doing what he can to carry put past presidents efforts to get rid of the auto stabilizers. Meanwhile we start with far lower participation rate.

    1. Summer

      “Everytime has some different element.”

      But what remains the same?
      1)Pump and dump is eternal
      2) Each crash will produce fewer people that are able to participate in any “recovery:

    2. Skateman

      Interest rate hikes also cause the dollar to rise hitting emerging markets, which in turn could hit the European financial institutions/exporters, which in turn would finally come back and hit the U.S.

      1. Bugs Bunny

        I watch the INR – rupee – closely and the hot money has only slightly pulled out, very much lately. I think it’s uncertainty around the coming elections more than an eventual crisis. J-LS probably watches the rate closer than I do and I’d appreciate her view.

        Since India has become much more transparent than any other developing country around its current accounts and has a secure banking system (look at local interest rates!), I’d flag it as a bellwether.

    3. Wukchumni

      Let’s say Galligula manages to shut down the government for want of wall, and Wall*Street tanks under 20k in a matter of days in the aftermath, and guess what?

      He’s taken credit for all of the gains, so the powers that be play pin the tale on the donkey, and he owns the loss, of which oh so many individual 401k votes, might be highly influenced when cast in November.

      Trying to link him to Russia, or the idea that he’s an out of control-out of his element narcissist hasn’t borne much result so far, why not go for the jugular?

      1. dunning kroger

        Or just leave him alone and stop talking about him 24/7? The dems want Pence to be president? If that happens and it gets exposed they planned it that way then there will be no democrats left to vote in a primary . Progressive moderate whatever good luck selling them on the churchy jesus whackjob.

        Sanders is done , he wound up being a headfake , the Israel problem , he’s OK with the wars , anyway the parroting of the phony Russia Russia Russia bullshit makes him look as retarded as the rest of them , and even if he wasn’t the deep state wouldn’t want him any more than Trump.

        Narcissist ? Like the last guy? Since when is that a problem in political circles?

        Some of you all might be more comfy if you float on a puffy cloud over to the Angry Kos , just kidding there is a moat around the place , pretty sure you need a few sponsors just to be allowed a first post. Theres the Daily Bear , you can post a few times then you get the word racist screamed at you by the 10 jobless posters who’s day consists of that and hitting refresh

    4. djrichard

      I’m not a fan of Warren Buffet, but I do like this quote of his, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked”.

      So like all past recessions, the next recession will expose the players who exposed themselves to debt levels that aren’t sustainable. If they exposed themselves that way, is that fraud? If so, are they the only ones culpable?

  2. Odysseus

    Remember how we mentioned that taking your eyes away from the road for just two seconds doubles your risk of a car accident?

    I’d prefer to see a graph of initial following distance included with this statement. Because the jerks who keep tailgating me are pretty high risk to begin with.

    1. Kevin

      Tailgating seems to be gaining in popularity here in Chicagoland. I’d love to install a paint gun that shoots from my trunk – pink paintballs…

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        The hot tip for dealing with tailgaters when I rode motorcycles on west coast (late 70s/early 80s) was to keep some ball bearings in a tank bag…

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It was around that time when something similar* occurred to me while driving a car, southbound on the 101, just south of San Francisco. I sped up, only to find out later it was highway patrol and was given a speeding ticket.

          *I did not immediately recall how close it was, though I remembered, even then, stepping on the gas pedal due to that car coming up from behind.

          1. Julia Versau

            That was entrapment. Which happens a lot now, especially since so many municipalities and counties are relying on tickets to augment depleted budgets.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        We have millions of mobile phones on the road. We only have a thousand or so robot cars on the road.

    2. Enquiring Mind

      One vivid memory from Driver Ed class in high school was about the film showing just how far a car traveled per second at different speeds, with extra distance for the reaction time to begin braking. Remember that you are moving at 88 feet per second when driving 60 mph, then add a second and a half or so reaction time, then the braking time? Those all add up shockingly fast, especially if tailgating!

      Some factoids stay with a person, perhaps due to a cleaner slate during adolescent learning and excitement at eventual freedom of driving.

      1. John k

        Nobody drives at 60 in Ca… 80 is routine. Speed up 1/3 but energy up 16/9, and stopping distance nearly up the latter.
        Imo we could save 20k lives per year by enforcing 50 mph. And gas, top.

          1. Mo's Bike Shop

            Links? Let’s set it at 50 next time then so everyone actually averages 55.

            Automobiles as the primary means of interstate travel is what I would humbly posit as idiotic. If cars were just for local 55 tops speeds –like a Beetle, Morris, or a 3VC — driving could actually be fun.

            Since the aughts the SUVs remind me so much of the automotive innovations that arose in the latter days of Rhodesia.

            1. cnchal

              National Maximum Speed Law

              The National Maximum Speed Law (NMSL) in the United States was a provision of the Federal 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act that prohibited speed limits higher than 55 miles per hour (90 km/h). It was drafted in response to oil price spikes and supply disruptions during the 1973 oil crisis.

              While Federal officials hoped gasoline consumption would fall by 2.2%, actual savings were estimated at between 0.5% and 1%.

              The law was widely disregarded by motorists nationwide, and some states opposed the law,[1][2] but many jurisdictions discovered it to be a major source of revenue. Actions ranged from proposing deals for an exemption to de-emphasizing speed limit enforcement. The NMSL was modified in 1987 and 1988 to allow up to 65 mph (105 km/h) limits on certain limited-access rural roads. Congress repealed the NMSL in 1995, fully returning speed limit-setting authority to the individual states.

              The law’s safety benefit is disputed as research found conflicting results.

              One of the main effects was to bring the law into disrepute. No normal driver could actually drive 55 using a gas pedal, it was just too damn slow, and people started to see the government and it’s enforcers as an enemy, which continues today although for different reasons. It really got started with the double nickel.

              It also brought on the radar detector wars. The state would gladly buy the latest new “enforcement tool” from the suppliers always at the ready to sell the hanging rope for a profit, and the detector companies would respond with new defenses, which one was obliged to buy to save your insurance rate from screaming higher from tickets for going “ten over”.

              So, when driving, jawb one was looking out for the cops, and paying attention to the driving burger eaters and book readers was secondary.

              As for using highways to go places being idiotic, how else are you going to get there with passengers or/and a little cargo in a reasonable amount of time in private? Any distance below 1000 miles can be covered in a day of driving, which I admit might be too far for some, but I do 500 miles no problem in roughly eight to nine hours with breaks, and enjoy it. I detest flying as it’s done today, would take the train if I had nothing to carry except a suitcase and it didn’t take three times as long as a car.

              I am with you on SUVs. Those things are costumes. I prefer sedans and wagons, unassuming ones that are invisible to the cops.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’ve been primarily bicycle commuting for so long that I’ve lost track of the stress toll of driving the dang car from dawn till dusk. I just drive like Grandma when I rent one. It’s all for distance.

      I commute in a pre-fifties area with plenty of grid streets and alleys. I’m in light-exertion la-la land for most of my time at the wheel. I only have to perk up when there are cars about. I suppose the joyful release of 4 or 5 seconds without looking up from the wheel is a part of the ratchet* with Self Driving Cars.

      *How many ratchets in a self-licking ice cream cone?

      And to be totally foily, if the auto industry created the Jay-Walking meme, why couldn’t they put a few bucks into a best distance to stop behind a car at a light meme? People will honk at you for arranging to get out of their way faster.

  3. Summer

    In choosing The New York Times to distribute the anonymous op-ed, ‘I am part of the resistance inside the Trump administration,” the Republican writer reaffirmed what we’ve only seen reinforced in the last two years: The Times still stands for credible, accountable, agenda-setting news reporting and analysis. The right-wing pseudo press may decry it, but, day after day, they follow it. They remain reactive” [Nieman ]

    It’s more like a bubble where the two wings of the corporate elite and servants react to each other…reality be damned.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The anonymous editorial and the Woodward book are establishment psychological-operation efforts to shape the mass-mind brainwar-battlespace in favor of a plan to “article 25” President Trump and make Pence the President. They may also be intended to make Trump paranoid and crazy-acting. Certainly the anonymous editorial would be intended to make Trump act paranoid and crazy in public. Why else would Anonymous blow its own cover as a part of the Resistance Within The White House?

      Gentlemen prefer blonds and Democrats Prefer Pence. The Democratic officeholders will all support removing Trump and making Pence the President if the psychological operations against Trump are successful enough. Its a Big Club. And Pence is in the Big Club.

  4. remmer

    “How Money Affects Elections”
    This is a good article, which summarizes years of political science research. But while it’s true that winning attracts money rather than the other way around, it’s also true that the winners who attract that money tend to be the kinds of candidates who were able to attract enough money to get their first win, the one that started their political career. The kinds who have the right political and financial connections and don’t have policy ideas that would offend those connections. Winning attracts money because winners tend to be the kind of people who attract the monied.

    1. dcrane

      It took way too long for that essay to get to the most important role of money in elections, which is giving unknown candidates access to a race to begin with:

      Another example of where money might matter: Determining who is capable of running for elected office to begin with. Ongoing research from Alexander Fouirnaies, professor of public policy at the University of Chicago, suggests that, as it becomes normal for campaigns to spend higher and higher amounts, fewer people run and more of those who do are independently wealthy. In other words, the arms race of unnecessary campaign spending could help to enshrine power among the well-known and privileged.

      “That may be the biggest effect of money in politics,” West wrote to me in an email.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        I’m going to be all profound and suggest that the biggest effect of money in politics is that money is now our only universal public virtue. Don’t torture? Build for the future? Work for some end? That’s all identity stuff.

        Where did power reside and rise from when we were living in a multi-virtue world?

  5. Darthbobber

    Expectations about income growth. Optimism about FUTURE raises is what we’re speaking of here. I see little mystery, as the wondrousness of the economy is being almost universally touted by every media source the man/woman on the street might check in with.

    If the expectations aren’t translated into reality fairly soon, expect this propaganda to hit it’s upper limit and suffer declining efficacy.

    See this recent weapon piece (yes, they sometimes do reporting still) on the Ames, ia economy for some anecdotal evidence of the rising tide failing to lift boats even with 1.5% unemployment.


    I’ve lived through actual sellers’markets for labor power, and this isn’t one.

  6. DonCoyote

    Is it deliberate design that the CNN story about placebo buttons has a placebo “Read More” button? If so, delicious. If not (and I suspect not), a crapification button (supposed to work but doesn’t, stripping control away) which is far more common than a placebo button.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      None of my berg’s walk lights have placebo buttons. If you don’t press it, you will not get a walk sign. And everyone in the right hand lane is a stochastic watchman of how orange is your walk sign. Imagine how many germs would not be shared if that extra bit of tech had never been developed.

  7. Carolinian

    Re Politico’s Hallmark card version of neoliberal foreign policy–Hillary couldn’t have said it any better herself although she probably would have added “muscular.” Of course the problem has always been that declared intentions seem to have little to do with observed reality. Perhaps the remarkable thing is how little these rationalizations by “the field of international relations” have changed over the years. The same pitch would have been heard during the Vietnam era while thousands of US and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese died. But like all rackets war needs its PR con men and sites like Politico to put across their guff.

  8. John Zelnicker

    Lambert – Good job with the photo. Looks like it was quite a challenge.

    I’ve also been wondering about the increasing number of pundits talking about the next crash. They may be trying to cover themselves since the current, very modest, expansion is getting a little long in the tooth. There are also the misguided worrywarts who conflate Treasury securities with all other forms of debt who think the federal debt “burden” will slow investment. Maybe this time a crash will be intentionally engineered. But, you’re right, it is very weird.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I’ve had some anecdotal experience in recent days, and I sense the house poor situation is catching up. The economy wasn’t exactly gang busters in 2007, housing prices and crazed loans, but the 2007 economy produced President Barack Hussein Obama, not steady hand John Smith III.

      With the rise of Amazon, issues I saw before the 2008 crash outside of housing might not be as noticeable.

      I’m going to suggest the next generation necessary to take on things like houses and businesses at the desired rate doesn’t exist.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        It’s easy to argue that America — so fond of Social Darwinism, but not the Real Thing — is terrible at creating stable social elites. I mean, reproducing the means of production would just be a commie thing, right?

  9. Kurtismayfield

    RE: “Campaigns, Parties Can Accept Free Service From Microsoft, FEC Says”

    If Microsoft was concert about its brand, they would be offering those “Enhanced security tools and services” to everyone. This is for buying influence.

    It just gives me another reason to install mint. Anyone have experience with having a Linux install look like windows enough that the spouse will consider the transition seamless?

    1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Linux distro that looks/behaves like Windoze:

      Windows can go stupider (and visually different) but as long as the big brand controls the ads, you are going to have a hard time convincing anyone to change.

      Your only hope is to convince the stuckist that Windoze has changed its name to Ubuntu, Solus or whatever. Good luck with that.

      I’m currently trying out Knoppix, but usually revert to Puppy Linux although Barry’s last release was some years ago.


      1. Kurtismayfield

        Quite frankly I need a browser, email client, word processor, and something to play video and music contant and I think that I can keep the SO happy. I will go do some homework on that and your distro suggestion thanks!

        1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

          My Linux homework always ends as suck-it-&-see and consumes more of my time than anything that I ever did at school. For me the attraction of Linux is in the fact that there are skinny “live” distros (versions) which can be set up to boot from a cd/dvd ROM for the purposes of banking online – a one-off boot, and therefore an “installation” into the computer’s memory which I do not save on switching off.

          You can do this with the larger distros but they take quite a long time to start up.

          it helps if you are directly connected to the internet by wired connection (no need for wireless passwords, and perhaps more secure anyway)

          Knoppix can boot as read only ( Puppy Linux, ditto) and from my brief experience is OK as I managed to get it to print with my oldish HP laser printer through CUPS and scan through an old inkjet printer/scanner. It has Libre Office and Freecell (in Aisleriot) and more bells and whistles than you can shake a stick at. It can run from an 8gb usb stick.

          nb On newer machines you have to set them to boot with Legacy Bios instead of UEFI. I’ve read that you can do this through Windows itself but have not tried it yet.

          If you don’t want a thumb drive sticking out of a laptop, some skinny Linux operating systems can be installed onto an SD card (nb the old Lenovo I’m writing this on won’t boot from its SD slot)

          Horses for courses:
          I try not to connect to the internet with Windoze, but if it comes to watching a dvd it is the easy option.

          Once you get into it the possibilities are head-spinning and if you are going to dabble, be prepared to read a lot of help on the internet and effectively become you own help-desk.

          I am currently in the process of experimentation with a few other distros which are new to me including Manjaro. I think it all depends on the peripherals you have. The best looking distro is no use if it won’t work with your current printer – which is where we can find ourselves with the latest from Microsoft!


          1. Carolinian

            Edward Snowden carried around his Linux operating system on a thumb drive….taught Greenwald how to use it. Allegedly most hackers, who know what they are dealing with, use Linux.

          2. JCC

            When I’m feeling paranoid, knoppix on a thumb drive works just fine for basics. My primary server/workstation is Fedora with outside repositories designed to work with fedora. Between them all I run a pretty tight and secure system that does everything that I need from playing CDs, DVDs, reading and writing most MS Office files. And, when considering cost, has much better qualty/user friendly pdf reading applications, podcast applications, and photo manipulation applications. In fact my primary entertainment system is the fedora workstation running through a decent Onkyo Reciever with HDMI inputs/outputs into my TV/monitor.

            (Even my alarm clock is an old Asus eeepc, given to me, running ubuntu, works like a charm – but a $20 raspberry Pi would probably work better :)

            I’ve used Brother, HP, and Xerox laser printers/scanners and HP inkjet printers/scanners, with zero problems over the last 12 years or so.

            It’s gotten very easy to upgrade over the years and has saved me a small fortune in not buying software I need only occasionally.

            There is a small learning curve but not nearly as large as it used to be. It’s no worse that booting into your very first MS Windows or Mac system.

            For those who want something that looks and feels more like a Mac, Ubuntu/Mint is as good or better depending on use.

            All these distributions are far more secure than MS for those who want, or need, to spend a little extra time learning about computer security.

            And you don’t have to spend an hour or more updating and rebooting every week or so to stay secure. Updates take about 5 minutes, at your convenience and reboots can be executed at your convenience, not Microsoft’s. Nag screens are practically non-existent.

            For those new to the whole linux thing, your best bet is to have someone available (readily available at first) to get you started, but just like ms windows, once you get used to the basic UNIX philosophy of how Op Systems should operate, it’s much easier to deal with than any windows system.

            One other thing I like about it is that, depending on personal use and capability of the hardware, there are multiple different “desktops” available that can be customized just about any way you like. There are plenty of “light weight” distros that run fine an an old laptop wasting away in the closet that can be used as an initial learning platform.

            * I say this as both a certified MS and Red Hat IT professional that owns a Mac laptop – used 3 or 4 times a month, a windows laptop – used 3 or 4 times a year not including update time, and a few different linux distros on laptops and workstations.

    2. knowbuddhau

      Running Mint Cinnamon 18.3. It’s way faster than any windows system I’ve ever used. You won’t believe this, but when I click “shut down,” it does.

      A bit of getting used to, mostly navigating file management. Nothing simple practice from use doesn’t fix.

    3. Mo's Bike Shop

      Best to approach it like a voyage across a large body of water. The objective is in site, but you will be changed by the journey. Not like ‘enlightened changed’, just more ‘people live like this?’

      Does Mint have a built-in screen-saver/slide show? Ubuntu does not seem to understand that I don’t want a 48 inch black hole on my wall when I’m not writing scripts :)

      But yeah, 2-3 years until I have to do more than click minor updates. Occasional restarts.

    4. Mark Alexander

      I’m late to this thread, but I’ll repeat what I’ve said earlier in similar threads: Linux Mint is a great choice for getting Windows users away from Microsoft. I have installed the “Mate” edition for my mother, my spouse, and the office manager in a small local business. It looks vaguely like Windows XP so the learning curve is not huge. There were the usual questions during the getting-familiar process, but things have gone well. Most users, in my experience, only need a browser, an email client, and some word processing, plus maybe a scanning program, and Linux has all of these. I could go on and on about other advantages, like the ability to use old hardware that can’t run modern Windows, a unified software management system, increased speed, freedom from anti-virus slowdowns, no license fees, etc.

      The one former Mac user (spouse) really misses Spotlight, and I can understand why. But I find Recoll (a desktop finder) works pretty well as a not-quite-replacement.

  10. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    “California Mandate for 100% Clean Energy by 2045 Signed Into Law” [Courthouse News].

    That’s a big refutation to those who say it’s too late, and it re-affirms the world, or energy consuming humans, will still be around in approximately 3 decades.

  11. Wukchumni

    “Meth Makes a Comeback as Opioid Epidemic Worsens in Colorado” [Governing]. “Meth’s resurgence comes as the opioid epidemic continues to worsen across Colorado. Statewide, 1,012 people died of accidental overdoses last year, 100 more than in 2016, state health department records show.”
    I don’t know any opioid users, and the few meth-odd actors i’ve known turned into human cancers, caroming off of everybody they knew, spreading misery until you could take no more, and cut your losses, getting away from the ‘contact high’ of being anywhere near them.

    Perhaps the word has spread among addicts that opioids are so deadly, that meth is ok now?

    You’ll hear numbers sprouted that 58% of Americans are for the legalization of marijuana, but for some reason they never give the approval number for meth…

  12. Angie Neer

    Placebo buttons:
    1. Famous session bassist Leland Sklar talks about the “producer switch” he puts on his basses. It doesn’t do anything, but when a record producer asks for some undefinable change to the sound, Sklar flips that switch and the producer goes away happy. link. This is also a popular trick among sound board operators. The performer says, “hey, my voice needs to be higher in the mix” and the sound guy makes a knob-adjusting motion without changing anything, and the performer says “yeah, that’s better.”
    2. I don’t have a fact-check for this, but a friend who used to work at a big maker of pickup trucks described how some pickups come with an oil pressure gauge, largely because some people who drive pickups like the idea that they’re master of a complicated machine with gauges on it. But some would think that if the needle wasn’t straight up on the gauge, there was something wrong, and they’d take it to the dealer demanding they fix the oil pressure problem. So the company switched to a faux gauge where the needle only has two positions, straight up and zero, and it only goes to zero when the engine is off.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Were the higher frequency sound waves there all along, but the performer, expecting yet not hearing them (perhaps distracted or stressed over something), but could once he/she relaxed?

      That contrasts with the higher frequency sound waves were not there before, and are still not there now, but the performer imagines to be there now.

      It would be similar to someone encouraging you by telling you that ‘I believe in you. You can do,’ and thus fortified, you are able to do it.

      Here, it is not placebo, but something physical (or chemically in the brain) actually is occurring.

    2. bassmule

      Thanks for the Lee Sklar link. My career as a studio player is pretty much over, but dang, I wish I’d thought of that!

    3. Big River Bandido

      A vibraphonist of my acquaintance designed his instrument’s equivalent. Normally the mallets are wrapped in blue yarn. He had several sets (of the same mallet type as the one he used for his signature sound) wrapped in different colored yarns; when a producer asked for a “harder” or “softer” mallet, he would switch to a different colored pair — of the same mallets.

      Worked every time. Every time.

    4. tommy strange

      Thanks angie! I’ve been occasionally doing underground records in studios since the 80’s. And always heard some variation of this very true fact!. It works, for band members just complaining, and not really listening. Never worked for me! har!

  13. Pavel

    Re: Apple and China. I suppose $1000 iPhones (Chinese labour costs are probably $10 or less per phone) aren’t quite the same thing as T-shirts and Nike sneakers, but I recommend Jeffrey St Clair’s piece in Counterpunch regarding sweatshops, just posted:

    Excerpts from Counterpunch: Nike’s Bad Air

    “It’s hard and painful work,” says Wendy Diaz, a sixteen-year-old Honduran girl who worked at the Global Fashions factory, making pants for sale at Wal-Mart under the “Kathie Lee Gifford” line. “I started work there at thirteen. The managers were cruel. They would yell at us all the time. They would lock the bathrooms all day long. When we got tired or talked to each other, they would beat us to keep us on schedule.” Diaz’s family couldn’t afford to let her stay in school past the fifth grade. So she worked sixty-five hours a week, every week of the year.

    This dire situation is hardly confined to Latin American countries or the garment industry. “Sweatshops are absolutely not limited to apparel,” says Charles Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee in New York City. “Sporting goods, electronics, shoes, sneakers, agricultural products, coffee, bananas—you name it—it’s made under some pretty rough conditions—in factories in Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia.”


    Despite airy promises of tough standards on working conditions and environmental protection, international trade agreements passed in the early 1990s, such as NAFTA and GATT, have merely exacerbated the problem, according to Sarah Anderson, a researcher at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. US companies, such as General Electric, Louisiana Pacific, and Alcoa, have flocked to the Mexico to take advantage of the country’s meager environmental provisions. The toxic legacy of this migration is already showing up. Alcoa, which has been hit with some of the largest criminal fines for hazardous waste violations in US history, opened a plant in Ciudad Acuña in 1993. Within a year, a series of poisonous gas leaks sent 226 workers to the hospital. When workers at GE’s Ciudad Juárez plant talked to reporters about the deadly chemicals used at the factory, they were fired.


    There’s a simple reason companies like Nike have continued to turn a blind eye to these abuses: skyrocketing corporate profits. In Vietnam, it costs Nike only $1.50 to manufacture a pair of basketball shoes that can be sold for $150 in the US. The production costs are low largely because the average pay of a Nike worker in Vietnam is only $42 a month or about $500 a year. Compare this tiny sum to the $20 million a year Nike lavished on Michael Jordan to pitch its basketball shoes, shorts, and hats. Jordan’s salary amounts to nearly twice the annual payroll of the entire workforce of Nike contractors in Vietnam. The disparity with Nike CEO Phil Knight’s annual take is even more grotesque. Knight, who owns 100 million shares of Nike stock, pulls in roughly $80 million in dividend payments each fiscal quarter. At that pace, a Vietnamese worker would need to toil for nearly 4,000 years to equal Knight’s annual income.

    I don’t agree with Trump on most (read: 95%) issues but perhaps he is right: these overseas jobs should come back to the US and pay decent wages and be responsible with regards to the environment (let’s not forget how toxic all those factories are in China). If Tim Cook’s Apple has to take a hit and/or the users pay a bit more, so be it.

    And note Clinton et al’s famous NAFTA and similar agreements only made matters worse.

    1. Wukchumni

      As long as there’s a new low bidder, they’ll just keep moving the action around in a race to the bottom wages.

      For what it’s worth, when I was in South Korea in the early 1980’s, you could buy most brands of athletic shoes (Reebok, etc.) manufactured there for $3 to $5 a pair.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        Trade agreements allow for this. I have no doubt that NAFTA 2.0 is a [family blog] sandwich.. but we don’t know because it isn’t public. The solution is true political pressure, but the Trumpians will take whatever The Great Orange one says as truth.. they will claim mission accomplished and move on happily eating the sandwich.

        We need an actual industrial and trade policy that doesn’t treat the majority of us like colonials.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          We would need to organize ourselves and our desire for that outcome into a hardy perennial political party overtly dedicated to practicing the actual industrial and trade policy you call for. Either a Lower Class Majority Party or a Sandersocial Democrat Party of something.

          Perhaps we could exterminate the Clintonites and Obamacrats from out of the Democratic Party and staff it totally and only with Sandersocial Democrats. Perhaps we would have to create our own such political party with a name designed to make its goals clear.

  14. Wukchumni

    Came around a corner on Mineral King road last afternoon, and a couple of adorable cubs each about the size of a medium microwave were about 100 feet apart, and I slowed to a crawl as the duo clambered up a tree adjacent to the road-a dozen feet or so, eyeing me with caution as I did a wraparound look to see where mama was, but never saw hide nor hair of her.

    #8 & #9 on the year.

    I feel certain i’ll make it into double digits in terms of bear sightings for the first time in 3 years. Year after year, i’ve averaged 30-35 for decades, before the ravages of the drought cut their numbers way back.

  15. Synoia

    Ex-intelligence officials run for Congress as Democrats..

    Fair enough. They appear well practiced in spin, decent, toadyism, DC swamp experienced, and lies. They will certainly make good politicians.

    Will they make Representatives, in the strict meaning of the word?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Here, we can trace it to Putin, who was himself a former (no life time iron rice bowl?) KGB officer.

      So, even if indirectly, he is meddling.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that the Russians stole this idea from America. Remember how George H. W. Bush was one-time head of the CIA? Anybody heard if Gina Haspel has pretensions of one day making a Presidential run? Or maybe she will go the Cheney route and go for Vice-President. I can see it now. ‘Vote for Haspel – a woman prepared to make the hard decisions!’

  16. clarky90

    Re “‘End of days’: Birth of red heifer in Israel signals coming of Messiah claim Hebrew scholars RT. Um, why should the Messiah respond to gaming the prophecy?” from links

    The Second Temple period ended with the First Jewish–Roman War and the Roman destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The sects of (1) Pharisees, (2) Sadducees, (3) Essenes, (4) Zealots and (5) Nazarenes (Jews who believed that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Torah) were formed during this period.

    The early Nazarenes (Christians) considered themselves to be THE true Jewish sect. Some Nazarenes continued worshiping in the Synagogues, with fellow Jews, for as long as the next two or three hundred years.

    There were many shared beliefs between the Nazarenes and the Essenes.


    The Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots disappeared, leaving only the Pharisees (modern Judaism) and the Nazarenes (modern Christianity).

    “From the point of view of the Pharisees, the Sadducees wished to change the Jewish understanding of the Torah, to a Greek understanding of the Torah. The Pharisees preserved the Pharisaical oral law in the form of the Talmud. They would become the foundation of Rabbinic Judaism.”

    “Pharisee” is derived from Ancient Greek, Pharisaios and from Aramaic, Pərīšā, meaning “set apart, separated”.

    Modern Christianity is a big tent (non-exclusive) and Modern Judaism is a small tent (exclusive).

    IMO, much of what we are witnessing, today, is a clash between those who have accepted Jesus as the fulfillment of the Biblical Prophesy, and those who have not, and are still waiting for the Messiah.

    “The Prophecy” can not be gamed by science, will or argument.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Is the trade war with China part of a “clash between those who have accepted Jesus as the fulfillment of the Biblical Prophesy, and those who have not, and are still waiting for the Messiah.” ?

      Is global warming a part of that clash?

      1. clarky90

        Thanks for asking Drumlin W. In a word, “yes.” (IMO)

        The Jewish State of Israel is still waiting for the Messiah. The Orthodox Christian State of the Russian Federation, has accepted Jesus as the prophesied Messiah.

        Communist China follows Karl Marx. Communism is a wholly materialistic, anti religious, POV. (Marxism is virulently anti-Jewish (most people don’t realize this!))

        “The Yevsektsiya was the collective name of the Jewish sections of the Communist Soviet Union’s, Information and Propaganda Department. It terrorized Jews between 5678/1918 and 5690/1930“…..



        “The stated mission of the Yevsektsiya was the “destruction of traditional Jewish life, the Zionist movement, and Hebrew culture”


        For “The Global Warming” part of your question, possibly; refer to the Rapture Index? I personally, don’t know.

        It is complicated……….

        1. clarky90

          The USSR was the single most, anti-Jewish State on Earth, from 1918 until 1935.

          In 1935, Nazi Germany brought in the Nuremberg Laws and became even more virulently anti-Jewish than the USSR.

          Secular (non religious, Marxist, younger generation) Jewish people prospered in the USSR until the mid 1930s. They were safe, and protected by law.

          However, life for traditional, practicing Jews (the older generation) was Hell. Rabbis were murdered or deported. Synagogues were looted, destroyed, turned into community halls, store rooms. Sacred books were hunted out and burned. Observant Jews and their families were terrorized and shipped, often by cattle car, to the Gulags.


          Then, Stalin turned against the secular, Marxist Jews, as well, during the mid 1930s.

          The Great Terror

          (Many, many, many innocent, non-Jewish people, were also murdered/imprisoned during this time)

          The Great Purge or the Great Terror (1936 to 1938) immediately preceded the

          Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

          Signed August 23, 1939; 79 years ago
          Location Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
          Expiration August 23, 1949 (planned)
          June 22, 1941 (effectively)


          So much history is never discussed. No movies, no TV shows….

  17. J

    I’m seeing this narrative everywhere, which is making me counter-suggestible; there’s some weird kind of normalization going on, and I don’t like it. And if the next crash comes from accounting control-fraud leverage, like the last one, where’s that happening?

    I’ve noticed the same thing, but I think I might have figured out where that over-leveraging is happening. It’s all in structured equity — specifically, non-principal-protected structured notes.*

    They way the notes often work as that they are tied to some sort of asset. They pay a coupon rate, and at the end you get your principal back — unless something bad happens to the asset. If the asset falls below a certain threshold, you get a predefined amount of the asset back in place of your principle. Terms vary wildly, and are generally opaque.

    Its hard to find numbers for banking industry, but in Germany, these unprotected structured amount to 40 billion dollars, representing roughly 60% of the structured product market. Globally, it’s easy to extrapolate the number to a trillion or two.

    So what is backing these notes? A little less than 40% is tied to interest rates, i.e. the first thing that will get thrown off in another recession. The rest is split between equities and indices, the bulk of which is tied to the stock/debt/junk bond bubble.

    When price of said equities dip below a certain threshold, there will suddenly be a lot of investors holding onto deprecating assets that they weren’t expecting to have. They’ll desperately want to be rid of said equities, so they can get some of their principals back. this will drive prices down further. Easy to see this leading to a liquidity crisis.

    At the same time, banks would be struggling to pay back the principals of the notes that were principal-protected. Since there is no government insurance on these notes, they can easily default, tying up another trillion or two. This, along side some other factors, should be sufficient to turn a 20% stock crash into a 50% stock crash, if not more.

    *In the US, partial or conditional principal protection is often just called principal protected. This is misleading, as in practice, you can lose your whole principle.

    1. JTMcPhee

      All the people involved in these shenanigans lost ALL their “principles” a long time ago. At least, “principles” as I, as a mope, would define the term.

  18. Lee

    UPDATE “A Conversation with R.L. Stephens” [Philadelphia Partisan]. R.L. Stephens. …There’s a lot of criticism [of the brake light program]. This got called ‘white saviorism’ … ‘Is Black emancipation just for Black people?’ And their answer is ‘Yes,’ because if you try to participate in it, then you’re a white savior. I think that pejorative was a disciplining mechanism to try to delegitimize the efforts of people in this organization to break out of this trickle-down, entitlement-based, mass politics. […] And, it wasn’t just a disciplining mechanism against the white people in the organization, because there were people of color doing it too, and they got called ‘white saviors’! And there was a conversation about ‘these people,’ the masses, are not our base. There was chatter around that!” • Hmmm…

    I guess the brake light program is just another example of “no good deed goes unpunished.”

    As for the exclusion of whites from attempts to engage in common cause with PoC against racism: good luck with that in a country that is still close to 70% white. Aren’t we supposed to be trying to get beyond the whole melanin is identity thing? Not in my lifetime, I guess.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      As near as I can tell, the accusation of “white saviorism” is another weapon manufactured by the establishment to continue the divisions that have kept its denizens in power. From what I can tell, it’s mostly members of the Professional Class who trot it out whenever some successful interracial cooperative venture shows considerable success.

  19. freedomny

    “How Faking Videos Became Easy and Why That’s So Scary” –

    I think this could be a really big deal. Will it be an issue on MSM? Maybe/probably not, but those entities agenda is more propaganda, not “information”. But it will be an issue on social media platforms.

    Wish someone/group would start a type of “Citizen Journalism Network”. Or, is that out there already and I just don’t know about it…?

    1. ej

      You are right. The ultimate solution IS citizen or boots on the ground reporting.
      And here’s why: Anybody with a powerful video card on their computer can create 1) a 3-D image in the likeness of your target politician or military commander; 2) have him mouth something like, “The Ruskies are on the border! They just broke across that wild stretch across the New Mexico border. (Where is that wall now that we need it!)”; 3) play this across Youtube, hack into a couple of military networks, send off a couple of tweets.
      Then wait for the chaos. Wait for MSM?? They’re waiting for “adults in the room”.

  20. remmer

    “Rogue billionaires are giving the GOP and Democrats a migraine”

    Manley is talking about a division of labor between billionaires and parties that went back to the first Gilded Age — billionaires provided the money, the parties provided the candidates and ran the campaigns. Super PACs put an end to that by allowing billionaires to become political entrepreneurs on their own. Sheldon Adelson and other GOP billionaires bucked their party in the 2012 presidential primaries by financing the candidacies of Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum long after a string of primary defeats had left them broke and with no chance of winning the nomination. I wonder what the Dem moneymen will do in 2020?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      One hopes the Russians can also send in some of the “Very most Special Forces they have” . . . in case they are able to find out in advance just exactly who is planning the false flag chemical attack, who is working on it, etc. And if they could find that out, they could perhaps exterminate every single person involved in planning that attack so that the attack never happens.

      That would be the ideal outcome.

  21. Steve H.

    Looks like 9-11 is in the rearview.

    CNN page, only one reference, and that’s criticizing a Trump fist-pump.

    Foxnews, 5 mentions: the dirty jobs guy talking about Nike, an eagle sitting on a billboard, and three headlines with these words: inspiration, thankful, beautiful.

    Only mention of ‘Saudi’ is a man arrested for having breakfast with a woman.

    btw, a nice symmetry, $1.5 trillion spent on war since then, and student loan debt at $1.5 trillion.

    1. Steve H.

      whoops, missed a CNN box: 4 headlines, 2 about Trump speech, one about firemen w ‘honor’ and one of footage.

      Still, curiously muted. Bismark claimed foreign policy was just a branch of domestic policy, and 9/10 of these stories are deliberately trivial. I’m re-watching Ken Burns ‘Vietnam’ and the scenes of smoke plumes behind the White House caught me. Not there yet.

    2. Wukchumni

      17 years ago today, I was still a day away from hearing about 9-11.

      We were on a hut to hut hike in the French Alps near the Italian border, walking back to where we’d started in Pralognan, and my first indication was a color French tabloid newspaper I spied from afar, with the 2nd plane about to hit on the cover, yikes!

      If you were thinking you were going to fly in the next couple of weeks, it was probably a hassle, but we weren’t going back until late in the month, so our vacation went on mostly as planned, and we kept running into ad hoc street memorials all over, and once the accent spilled out of my mouth signifying me as a California Yankee, everybody we met expressed sympathy to our shared plight, and I thought for once the 1st world was on the same page…

      …when we landed @ LAX late that month, the first thing I saw on the 405 freeway, was every other car en route had a plastic old glory waving furiously from the back window jamb where the owner had patriotically placed it

      Today, my 12 & 14 year old nephews have known nothing other than being in a perpetual state of war since the day they were born.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I remember that time well. Whole countries stood up and announced their support for America including many of its so-called enemies like China, Russia, Iran, Iraq. There was the chance to revitalize the United Nations and establish a world wide consensus on so many things. There was so much sympathy for Americans and what they had suffered.
        And then the neocons took charge and America is now more hated than ever.

  22. barrisj

    Wikchumni, your last paragraph is most germane to the whole “9-11” cultism…in fact, every day recapitulates 9-11, in that the US and its military are locked into perpetual war throughout the Middle East, South Asia, and latterly Africa…and, seemingly there is in fact no end in sight. The Donald has well and truly been captured by the neocon consensus, the usual suspects back in charge, and each NFL stadium tries to outdo the others in spreading out the biggest flag ever during the pregame “national anthem” absurdity…beyond pathetic.

  23. Peter

    Thank you for sharing the Politico article on the Left’s foreign policy – it’s a fantastic teaching tool! I teach global political economy, where I discuss neoliberalism as an economic ideology and neo/liberalism as a theory of international relations. I feel a bit of professional sympathy for the guy who wrote the article, since he just advertised his ignorance of the difference between the two. I complain to my students that English has far too many meanings for “neo/liberal” – from a weak social democratic political ideology in the states, to a very different economic ideology of free market awesomeness, to theories in international relations and global political economy. That article started off poorly, and continued in the same timbre throughout.

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