By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
“Countries have already launched roughly 30 disputes at the World Trade Organization this year, the most since 2002, “putting more strain on a dispute settlement system which is already under threat,” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo said Tuesday in a speech to the Commonwealth group of nations of the former British empire” [Politico]. “About 20 of the cases stem from the tariffs President Donald Trump imposed on other WTO members to protect U.S. producers of solar energy products, washing machines, steel and aluminum, as well as the duties on China to pressure Beijing to make trade reforms. The increased caseload, which Azevedo said is a positive sign of faith in the system, comes at a time when the United States is blocking the new appointment of Appellate Body members, making it increasingly hard for the WTO dispute settlement system to function.” • Classic neoliberal play: Stress the system while denying it resources.
“Booker placing staffers in Iowa: report” [The Hill]. “Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) has sent four staffers to Iowa to help Democratic candidates campaigning in the state, multiple sources told The Guardian. The move may well be part of Booker’s groundwork for a 2020 presidential run, according to the news outlet, as the senator is widely speculated to be building up for such a campaign. The new report comes one day after the Iowa Democratic Party announced that Booker will be headlining a gala in Iowa next month.” • They have cameras in Iowa, I understand, so Booker should feel right at home.
“Iowans are health care voters” [Bleeding Heartland]. • Not one mention of #MedicareForAll. I sometimes criticize liberal Democrats for lousy messaging and a complete lack of principles, but when it comes to keeping the insurance companies in business, there’s no better party.
55 days until Election Day. 55 days is a long time in politics.
“There’s Never Been a President This Unpopular With an Economy This Good” [Bloomberg]. “‘There’s a huge disconnect,’ said Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow and public opinion polling expert at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington. ‘The economy doesn’t seem to be dominating in a way that it often does in elections.’ That’s a big problem for Republicans as they try to maintain control of Congress. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney acknowledged as much last week, telling Republican backers in a private meeting that they needed to get voters to focus on the economy and not on Trump in November, according to the New York Times.” • Part of this, no doubt, is that the war between liberals, #NeverTrumpers, and Trump has dominated every news cycle for two years. But it may also be a trust issue in an already low-trust society: Leaving aside 10%-ers (especially highly optimistic small business owners) I would speculate that most voters have come to define a “good economy” as one where disaster seems to be more than a month out, and some of the damage done in the last decade has been undone. But if there’s no trust that “the good times” will continue, and there’s no trust that hard work will lead to a raise or a better job, when you get screwed whenever you get involved with somebody who has a letterhead, and when life expectancy is dropping, how “good” is that? How much credit is there to give?
“This Election Is All About Trump – Not Obama” [Amy Walter, Cook Political Report]. “But, the more salient question for Democrats isn’t will Obama serve as a foil for Republicans, but will he do a better job at motivating his of voters to show up in this midterm election than he did in midterm elections during his presidency? Since 2009, Democrats have been unable to replicate Obama’s success with younger and non-white voters.” • That’s because “the Obama Coalition” was never a coalition!
NH: “NH Breaks Ground in Candidate Selection for November” [Courthouse News]. “New Hampshire Democrats rejected more progressive candidates in their U.S. House and governor races on Tuesday, while picks for the state’s 1st Congressional District from both parties represent historic firsts.”
Holy moley, wotta thread:
*** THREAD ***
AMERICA HAS WAITED LONG ENOUGH: THE REAL KILLERS ON 9/11
— Chris Nethery (@ToestringRd) September 11, 2018
Guess who…. It’s so hard to tell what’s a parody and what isn’t, these days…
The Liberals Have Lost Their Minds
“‘Anonymous’ Is Hiding in Plain Sight” [Thomas Friedman, New York Times]. Ten paragraphs to the real agenda: “In June, The Associated Press reported on the latest International Monetary Fund survey of the U.S. economy, which concluded that as a result of Trump’s “tax cuts and expected increases in defense and domestic programs, the federal budget deficit as a percentage of the total economy will exceed 4.5 percent of G.D.P. by next year — nearly double what it was just three years ago…. Faced with so much debt, which the country will not be able to grow out of, The A.P. story continued, paraphrasing the I.M.F. report, the U.S. “may need to take and imposing higher taxes on consumers. (We’ll probably also have to limit spending on new roads, bridges and research.) You might want to let your kids know that.” • Friedman is locked in the austerity box, and crocodile tears are leaking out of it…
“A hard look at America after 9/11” [Jane Harman, The Hill]. “What if? And what if, instead of close to two decades focused on counterterrorism, America’s agenda focused on transforming the nature of work, , curing cancer and exploring the heavens? What if we celebrated progress in those areas while also remembering the heroes who didn’t live to see it? What if?” • Incroyable! Harman has the same agenda as Friedman’s!
Realignment and Legitimacy
“Since dark money changed politics as we know it in the post-Citizens United era, the top 15 dark money groups have spent more than $600 million in secret money in our elections” [Issue One] (report).
“Former Economic Advisor to Ronald Reagan: ‘The GOP Needs to Die.'” [Grit Post]. “With the 2018 midterm elections just 8 weeks away, the GOP is projected to lose its majority in the House, and possibly the Senate. Bruce Bartlett — a former advisor to President Ronald Reagan and a Treasury official under President George H.W. Bush — thinks Republicans’ expected loss is long overdue. ‘I think the GOP needs to die,’ Bartlett told Grit Post in a Twitter direct message. ‘It’s[sic] has been a zombie party for at least 10 years–brain dead but somehow still alive.'” • Very true. Today’s GOP would never be able to invade Iraq. But Bush put together a bipartisan consensus!
“The Left’s Guide to Reclaiming the Constitution” [Jedidiah Purdy, New York Times]. “[R]ather than despairing or scheming for 1930s-style court packing, what progressives need most is a constitutional vision of their own, a vivid picture of what judges should do with the power of the courts. At a time when the left is on the offensive in ideas and policies, political struggles are providing a compass for progressive jurisprudence. Progressives should not just resist the erosion of important legal gains, but say — starting today — what they believe the courts should do, and what they believe the Constitution means.” • Reading this, I think that Purdy must really mean the left, because liberals haven’t done any of the things Purdy suggests, even when given the opportunity to do so.
“A Trying Week for Washington” [Charles Cook, The Cook Report]. On Kavanaugh: “Senate Democrats know full well that Kavanaugh is going to be confirmed, and that it is mostly their own fault. One almost forgets that Democrats, led by then-Majority Leader Harry Reid and frustrated by GOP opposition to many of President Obama’s nominations, voted in 2013 to change Senate rules to lower from 60 to 51 the threshold number of votes required for confirming executive and judicial nominees below the Supreme Court. Had Democrats, in their infinite wisdom, not lowered that threshold then, it would have been more difficult and, I think, unlikely that current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republican majority would drop it last year for the high court as well.” • Or, conversely, if Obama’s Democrats had lowered the threshold to 51 in 2009 and passed #MedicareForAll and a decent stimulus package, Obama would probably be packing the Court today after we passed an Amendment to give him a third term. So you never know.
“The Civil War on America’s Horizon” [The American Conservative]. “Ultimately what is most disconcerting is that the divisiveness is not just about Trump: it’s deeply rooted in two diametrically opposed civic religions. America is no longer one country*. These two groups view their national story through different symbolic mythologies… This will not end well, I fear. Goodwill and moderation exist on neither side. It may be that a civil war looms on the horizon. All that’s required now is a spark because every cultural accelerant is now in place. That spark could come from the Mueller investigation, which is viewed by Trump and his supporters as a brazen attempt at a coup d’état by a thoroughly corrupt intelligence community and legal establishment. Impeachment over payments to paramours, for example, will be viewed as a phony pretext for the lawless removal of a duly elected president. Given the intemperance of Trump and the viciousness of his opponents, compromise seems unlikely. Most of the American media will blame any conflagration on Trump, and certainly he will deserve some of the fault. But American elites are the revolutionary children of the ’60s and ’70s, proud despoilers of their country’s history and tradition. Now comes the counter-revolution, led by a gargoyle promising to defend the old cathedral.” • What would victory in such a “Civil War” look like? In my view, it must include a geographical split, by definition. And I don’t see how that’s possible. NOTE * Was it ever?
Producer Price Index (Final Demand), August 2018: “Wages may have shown inflationary pressures in last week’s employment report but prices at the base of the supply chain remain very subdued” [Econoday]. “[Tarriff-affected] metals aside, this report is remarkably benign and includes outright retreats in the overall year-on-year rate, down 5 tenths overall to 2.8 percent and down 4 tenths less food and energy to 2.3 percent. Today’s results will not raise any concerns over tomorrow’s consumer price report…. Risks over inflation appear to be concentrated in the labor market and not the general economy, at least yet.”
Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, September 2018: “Inflation expectations among businesses moved higher in September” [Econoday]. “the highest reading since… April this year,”
MBA Mortgage Applications, week of September 7, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages rose” [Econoday]. “But applications for refinancing fell.”
Retail: “China and Russia are finding strategic common ground in e-commerce. Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. will take a 10% stake in one of Russia’s biggest tech players, Mail.Ru Group, the WSJ’s Anatoly Kurmanaev and Stu Woo report, to set the groundwork for what the companies say will be the biggest online-shopping platform in Russia. The investment worth about $484 million is relatively modest from Alibaba’s standpoint, but the pact marks a potentially significant step in expanding the reach of international digital commerce while building up Russia’s online market. The deal represents a high-profile commercial alliance between the separate internet operations that have grown up in China and Russia, largely apart from the West and tech giants like Amazon.com Inc” [Wall Street Journal].
Shipping: “Introduction to Trade Finance” [Shipping & Freight Resource]. “Trade financiers provide or identify sources of capital for firms seeking to invest in international trade and create structures for them to access it. They then operate as a third-party between international buyers and sellers to facilitate the subsequent transaction, reducing the impact of the issues identified above. Specifically, trade finance specialists’ experience of international trade ventures enables them to better scrutinise firm’s proposed investments and assess the true levels of operational risk to all parties.” • Slavers didn’t arrive on the beach with chests of gold; the financing was handled back in Liverpool. An interesting read.
Shipping: “Federal Maritime Commission finally addresses detention & demurrage practice” [Logistics Management]. “Ocean cargo shippers have been telling us for some time now that marine terminal demurrage* and carrier detention charges continue to be one of their major headaches…. In its interim report for Fact Finding 28, the FMC has published the observations made by Commissioner Rebecca Dye on its ongoing investigation… Commissioner Dye advised the Commission that she has identified six areas to be developed: Transparent, standardized language for demurrage, detention, and free time practices;
Clarity, simplification, and accessibility regarding demurrage and detention billing practices and dispute resolution processes; Explicit guidance regarding types of evidence relevant to resolving demurrage and detention disputes; Consistent notice to shippers of container availability;
An optional billing model wherein MTOs bill shippers directly for demurrage; and VOCCs bill shippers for detention; and An FMC Shipper Advisory or Innovation Team.” * NOTE Demurrage and detention defined: “Demurrage, is a charge levied by the shipping line to the importer in cases where they have not taken delivery of the full container and move it out of the port/terminal area for unpacking within the allowed free days…. Detention is a charge levied by the shipping line to the importer in cases where they have taken the full container for unpacking (let’s say within the free days) but have not returned the empty container to the nominated empty depot before the expiry of the free days allowed.” • Interestingly, a related post, “Causes of Demurrage and Detention,” is the most popular post at Shipping & Freight Resource. So it’s a pain point.
Shipping: “Dry bulk orders leap 60%, ultramaxes lead the charge” [Splash 247]. “The Baltic Dry Index has scaled highs this year not seen for four years and looking ahead Splash readers, in an ongoing poll, reckon dry bulk has the second best prospects behind LNG next year.”
Shipping: “It turns out the economies of scale at the heart of freight transport can come in handy in getting crabmeat and pork dumplings for lunch. A burgeoning business in New York City is putting industrial shipping strategies to work in food-delivery…. by using bulk-ordering to stretch the economics of moving meals from restaurants to customers. Called Yun Ban Bao—or ‘the bulletin board in the cloud’ in Chinese—the business uses digital tools to organize the delivery of thousands of orders every day to more than 20 locations in New York City and parts of New Jersey. The niche operation is part of the growing field of nimble, food-focused delivery services piggybacking on the growing comfort consumers have in ordering meals online. YBB has even solved the last-mile problem by having its customers come to pre-arranged pickup points” [Wall Street Journal]. • I wonder how long before the “pre-arranged pick-up points” sprout competing restaurants.
The Bezzle: “Scooter use is rising in major cities. So are trips to the emergency room.” [WaPo]. “They have been pouring into emergency rooms around the nation all summer, their bodies bearing a blend of injuries that doctors normally associate with victims of car wrecks — broken noses, wrists and shoulders, facial lacerations and fractures, as well as the kind of blunt head trauma that can leave brains permanently damaged. When doctors began asking patients to explain their injuries, many were surprised to learn that the surge of broken body parts stemmed from the latest urban transportation trend: shared electric scooters.” • Yay for “permissionless innovation”! It’s also nice to be able to see Silicon’s real attitude toward safety revealed so rapidly. Remember this episode whenever you read safety claims by Silicon Valley firms on robot cars, and AI generally.
The Bezzle: “U.S. Judge Says Initial Coin Offering Covered by Securities Law” [Bloomberg]. “A federal judge has ruled that U.S. securities laws may cover an initial coin offering, handing the government a legal victory in its effort to regulate billions of dollars in cybercurrency offerings much like stocks…. About $18.7 billion has been raised this year by so-called ICOs, according to data compiled by Coinschedule.com. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton has said the fundraising method should be regulated, adding that he believes the market has become rife with fraud as it quickly expanded with the popularity of digital currencies and blockchains.” • $18.7 billion isn’t very much in the great scheme of thing…
The Bezzle: “Tesla cuts number of stock colors to streamline production” [Bloomberg]. “Tesla is dropping two of the seven colors it had offered to customers as it tries to streamline production.” • So Elon hasn’t been able to make the paint booth work by sleeping under his desk?
Tech: “Amazon is stuffing its search results pages with ads” [Recode]. “See, for example, our search below for ‘cereal.’ The first three results, which take up the whole screen above the fold — everything visible before you scroll — are sponsored placements that appear as search results: Ads for Kellogg’s Special K, Quaker Life and Cap’n Crunch. (It’s similarly dramatic on mobile, where it takes up the entire first screen.) This is followed by a section featuring Amazon’s own brand, 365 Everyday Value…” • I wonder if “Everyday Value” is where the galaxy brains who ran the Clinton campaign got “everyday voter.”
Tech: “Facebook and Its Users Are Telling Different Stories” [Bloomberg]. “Americans have drastically cut back their use of Facebook, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. Yet the company’s reported results have held steady. Something is not right…. [Facebook’s] numbers should have reflected at least some reduction of user activity. That they don’t is almost certainly the result of the company’s continued inability to determine how many accounts belong to actual people and how many are fake. Investors and advertisers should take into account polls such as Pew’s along with Facebook’s user numbers. The combination could be a better indication of true activity levels than the company’s bot-distorted estimates.” • I don’t see why any sensible person would trust Facebook’s numbers on users, any more than a sensible person would trust a newspaper’s unaudited circulation figures.
“Some McDonald’s workers vote to strike over sex harassment” [Associated Press]. “Emboldened by the #MeToo movement, McDonald’s workers have voted to stage a one-day strike next week at restaurants in 10 cities in hopes of pressuring management to take stronger steps against on-the-job sexual harassment. Organizers say it will be the first multistate strike in the U.S. specifically targeting sexual harassment. Plans for the walkout — to start at lunchtime on Sept. 18 — have been approved in recent days by ‘women’s committees’ formed by employees at dozens of McDonald’s restaurants across the U.S. Lead organizers include several women who filed complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in May alleging pervasive harassment at some of McDonald’s franchise restaurants…. Organizers said the strike would target multiple restaurants — but not every local McDonald’s — in each of the 10 cities: Chicago; Durham, North Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; Los Angeles; Miami; Milwaukee; New Orleans; Orlando, Florida; San Francisco and St. Louis.” • Nice to see how hard liberal Democrats are pushing this. Oh, wait….
“Yes, it could happen again. The flaws of American capitalism invite cycles of booms and busts.” [Steven Pearlstein, WaPo]. “Could it happen again? To Hyman Minsky, a 20th-century economist as wise as he was overlooked, the answer was obvious: It could, and it would. According to Minsky’s ‘financial instability hypothesis,’ financial systems — and the free-market economies that rest on them — are by their nature unstable, tending toward what he called ‘Ponzi finance.’ In boom times, companies take on too much debt, which gets them into trouble when profits fall, as they inevitably do, forcing them to sell assets to pay interest on those debts, causing asset prices to fall and triggering even more forced selling and market panic….. Although Minsky’s theory found little resonance during the benign markets of the 1950s and ’60s, it seemed to perfectly describe the 2008 financial meltdown, whose anniversary we mark this month. With corporate credit at an ominous all-time high and the stock market enjoying a record-breaking bull run, it’s a fair guess the United States is on the verge of another ‘Minsky moment.'” • Here is Minsky (PDF from the Levy Institute). You should read this in full; it’s short, there’s not an equation in it, and the writing is insanely lucid. Pearlstein’s article is also worth a read, since it amounts to a wholesale rejection of the neoliberal economic model that’s dominated policy-making since the mid-70s. Quite odd to see this in The Bezos Daily Shopper!
Autre temps, autre merde:
for fun i'm reading a schlocky book about being a crime reporter in Japan ("Tokyo Vice") and when the narrator describes how the Yakuza made its money in 2003 it's like… basically normal stuff for an American investment firm. the author puts it, "Goldman Sachs with guns"
— kill ? tim ? faust (@crulge) September 12, 2018
News of The Wired
“A single gene mutation may have helped humans become optimal long-distance runners” [Phys.org]. • Being able to run fast is, I would say, adaptive…
“Apple website suggests new iPhones to be named XS, XS Max, Xr” [Reuters]. “Wretched excess,” amiright?
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 (CC):
CC writes: “A pretty little yellow butterfly along with a honey bee on the sedum. Forage for the nectar drinkers is becoming scarce this time of year, and they’re all over the sedum which just came into bloom this week.”
Readers, I’m running a bit short on plants. Probably a little soon for fall foliage, or wrapping up the garden, but I’m sure you can find something!
Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!
To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.
If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.
A few days ago someone here mentioned a hummingbird getting up very close to them
and hovering there… I just had that happen, too! “Mmm, you seem to be
OK, I guess you can stick around, for now” was the message I got. Made a few quiet
and high-pitched chirps while doing so, which gave the impression of mutual communication. Very cool.
A short story from the mid-30s (?) by E.B. White that’s been in my mind lately; maybe
someone else will find something in it: http://www.classicshorts.com/stories/door.html
Be glad he liked you, they’re obnoxious little buggars because they know you’re too slow to hurt them.
Not surprised one little bit to hear the Yakuza and Wall Street share the same methods.
I’m thinking organized crime has more self control than the banks …
https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/12/warren-buffett-on-why-the-next-financial-crisis-is-unavoidable-greed.html – Banks to Warren, “who are we to deny these new entrants their opportunity at creative destruction?”
“Mob marries Wall Street” = feudalism. None of that inconvenient due process, “off with their heads!”…or “you’re fired!”
…compleat with priests who tell them God has an invisible hand!
Heck, it’s already happened
When I lived in NYC people would talk about the days when the mafia ran the streets and there were drug dealers on every corner. I would look around and see a pharmacy on every corner and a bank every few blocks and realized the city didn’t get rid of the criminals, it just legalized the crimes.
Gibson Dunn’s Ted Olson Registers as Foreign Agent for Saudi Arabia [National Law Journal]
Wowsers. Would it be breaking some norm to point out how he lost his spouse?
For some reason this reminds me of that old Matt Taibbi description of Tom Daschle.
@allan, that was the first thing that came to my mind.
Oh, well. At least the news report ran on September 12.
He clearly doesn’t bear a grudge.
The two parties make me think of the biblical story where they built and worshipped a gold idol. Money isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.
Maybe this is how the Saudis are buying him off.
…was payment in the amount of 30 shekels?
I am seldom speechless anymore…but this is chilling. They truly are Satan on earth.
I am seldom speechless anymore…but this is chilling. They truly are Satan on earth.
“Amazon is stuffing its search results pages with ads”… And doing a bad job of it.
Last night I did a search for “cooler” in the CPU fans section of Electronics, hoping to get more heat pipe assemblies and fewer bare fans. What I got was a full page of ads for the styrofoam-based ice coolers that you’d use to hold your beer. Needless to say, this was deeply annoying, and the engineer got even grumpier.
Optimist says the glass is half full.
Pessimist says the glass is half empty.
Engineer says the glass is too big.
And why are we shopping on Amazon?
Amazon aside I’ve noticed that general web searches (Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo – the last being my go to) are returning more and more ads. The truly ridiculous thing is that the first few results are usually ads even when I’m searching specifically for a company website and the ads are both much less useful for me than the actual company website AND much less likely to result in my purchasing something! I noticed this when car shopping last year. I want to see, let’s say Honda Canada’s website to spec and price a car and the search results are full of useless ads! It’s even happened when looking for a company which does online sales where their own website would have me buying what I need within minutes – the search engines try to direct me towards ad pages instead.
You can have any color you like, as long as it’s Black – Attributed I believe to Henry Ford.
Plus sa change…
Well, the Black Model T Ford was reliable, versatile, and affordable for most people whereas the Teslas are not.
It’s kinda sad seeing pictures of the original Ford assembly line and then looking at the current efforts by Tesla.
Let’s see… 1910 Model T price was $950 and I’ve come across figures for the average worker’s yearly income being anything from $200 to $400. A Model 3 (considering only the versions they’re actually making not the low price they hyped earlier) is about $55,000 and I’ve seen average or median yearly income as around $45,000 now. The T dropped as low as $295 later in it’s production run and wages did increase but it still remained a big purchase relative to income.
If you’ve never driven a T, endeavor to get a chance. They’re remarkably different not just from modern cars but even from some contemporaries… and the Model A too. By sheer force of numbers though that now strange control scheme was the de facto automobile standard for years.
The U.S. is now the world’s largest producer of crude oil.
I would have hoped that this shift would at least lead to change in US policy regarding Saudi Arabia, but the blob has instead taken the opportunity to go after Russia.
Except that we also remain the world’s largest consumer of same. And remain net importers by a large margin. Unlike Saudi Arabia or Russia, whose production is vastly higher than their own needs.
Given the money is entering the economy, the tax cuts would appear to be following MMT and boosting the private sector.
Noting like having a model of the economy which is wrong, to produce dire predictions. Bit like the Southern saying “There ain’t no fixin’ stupid.”
Funnily enough I think if they had put sensible restrictions on many of those tax cuts, like an immediate tax penalty for NOT putting the money into wages, research and improving facilities in the US, I think there actually might have been some real growth in the economy.
What I don’t see mentioned in that list of suggestions for repairing the mess. An Immediate tax hike for the top ten percent equal to or exceeding the tax cut they got, a surcharge for both employer and employee for all bonuses valued above one million dollars. This would also include an immediate 50% ‘death tax’ with an allowed delay in payment until business is sold for family owned farms and businesses with real controls on what constitutes ‘family owned’. And don’t forget the immediate removal of the Social Security cap, AND a tax surcharge for businesses “profits’ listed as being from foreign operations in tax shelters, without a large commercial presence and/or extensive manufacturing. But that is just me….
Right, interestingly those tax cuts are always premised on the idea that people who receive the cuts will do those things but they never do. And any call to make them do it is politically toxic because we “can’t direct the free market!”
I am disturbed by your lack of faith in the Free Market.
The Market is good. All hail the Invisible Hand. Amen.
Elon, I AM your father…
Since Friedman is so worried about the deficit here’s suggesting we double his taxes immediately. He is apparently quite wealthy from marrying a shopping mall heiress.
“The Civil War on America’s Horizon”
In the past month I’ve ran into the “Impending Second Civil War” trope a couple of times, almost always from conservative acquaintances or publications. It seems like an extension of the bereavement people have over the supposed loss of “civility and bipartisanship” in our country after Trumps election. My guess is that the folks on the right weren’t taking to the “politics is becoming a lot less like the West Wing” approach popular with liberals so they had to make it sexier with the threat of Civil War.
And yet rarely in our or anybody else’s history has so much social and political unrest been attended by less actual violence. Perhaps a rhetorical civil war?
Or wishful thinking…
I recall one particular experience with this kind of discussion (during the Obama years) which went down the “we can’t get along a civil war may be coming” path through to “we’ll get our guns and take our own country back.”
At the start of the conversation it sounded like he was genuinely concerned but by the end I realized that he, like some millenial evangelicals, was not trying to stave off armageddon but bring it on.
my guess is that it will happen in the voting booth after some large natural disaster peurto ricos some portion of the country. Uncivil behavior will be imperiously squashed. It’s a standard maneuver to discredit movements, and surveillance tech is ubiquitous now.
How would a civil war go, with the internet being a constant presence behind and in front of the main lines?
I’d be geographically deep behind the Mason-Dixon line here in the Central Valley Bible Belt, if festivities were to occur.
It won’t be like 1860, more like Russia circa 1919. There won’t be 2 sides, but more like 20,000 with constantly shifting alliances.
I still think that the electoral college is actually working as designed, preventing a sort of tyranny of the majority or groupthink that is countervailed by a diverse population in a large multi regional geographic area. the countervailing forces have the momentum currently, and momentum doesn’t change until something is done to change it, so somehow,some way…but blunt force v. the state is not likely to succeed…as an esteemed u president once advised me, paraphrasing, if you want to move the queen mary, you can’t stand down on the dock with a toothpick, you’ve got to get into the wheelhouse.
Which dogma creed has finally wormed their way into the wheelhouse, er white house?
why,private equity, of course!
adding that it wasn’t an ideology that took over the white house, it was the repudiation of an ideology, and I truly do not think the current residents have an ideology unless it is money, moar. They are there because voters. Voters who elected D Trump. Who have you got to displace them? If it’s no one, then they won’t be displaced, if you have no change in mind, they won’t be displaced…one of the secret goals of defunding education and creating student loan debtors was of course too many educated people with too little to do (see audrey jr below, now she’s busy, so can’t keep up, although she does have nc to summarize, luckily)
If you think it can’t get worse, think again.
Speaking of U presidents, some good thoughts here. Until the Baby Boomers, American society held mechanics, both professional (Edison, Whitney) and amateur (Franklin, Jefferson), in the highest esteem. Popular Mechanics was a top selling postwar magazine.
But outside the Latino community, tradesmen have now been thoroughly ‘Mopefied’
While as Taibbi put it so well, the elites ‘earn a cushy living pushing words around, while needing to call AAA to change a tire.’
Also, a trenchant quote: Americans are “the most self-conscious people in the world,” wrote Henry James in 1872, “and the most addicted to the belief that the other nations of the earth are in a conspiracy to undervalue them.”
Also, re E-scooter injuries, isn’t the motto of the Sillycon Valley crowd to “move fast and break things?” (rimshot)
The late 60s to early 70s attempts to create a violent revolution in the United States failed because of the lack of support by the general population. Wannabe terrorist/resistance groups had nowhere to hide or get support. Most Americans really didn’t want violent conflict especially as the political and economic system still worked for most and peaceful reform efforts like the Civil Rights Movement still (somewhat) succeeded.
The effects of the Powell Memorandum and the efforts of reactionary families, organizations, and institutions had not yet succeeded in destroying unions and other broadly based, usually leftist or at least center-left. Now unions are mostly gone and what is left of any center-left civic organizations have been monetized, defanged, and become neoliberalized sinecures. Just look at the American Red Cross or the official leadership of many teachers’ unions.
About the only thing Americans in the lower 90% agree on is just how rigged the whole system is, and that some major reforms need to happen now, but it’s all Russia! Russia! Russia!, Deplorables, the Terrorists, and Austerity; the 9.9% doesn’t want see the problems, nor hear the demands, and certainly not solve them. Unless it is to monetize a solution with a gendarmerie and the American Stasi. (Just what do think Homeland Security is?). I do not really think that it will be a clear left/right Second Civil War. It’s more likely to develop into a general 90% vs 9.9% with multiple factions in each. Starting with a cycle of large protests crushed by an overreacting law enforcement with larger counter protests with even greater over reaction. What really gets protesters going is the use of militarized police violence by people wearing faceless stormtrooper attire. The protest loses its original, usually peaceful, focus and becomes a more forceful protest against the police facing them.
I see fun times ahead.
1968. Only the police weren’t militarized then, so protests are likely to escalate very quickly. The country is thick with weapons.
I usually put the inflection point at 1973, which is when we see the divergence between wages and productivity. Of course the cause may have been earlier. The economists tried to explain the discrepancy between their causes and what they claimed were the effects by claiming “long and variable lags.” I seem to recall the Powell memo was delivered in 1973, and I believe it’s connected to the current dystopia I don’t see how it could have caused or even affected the stagnation of wages.
I also suspect wishful thinking is behind this trope. Either due to lack of imagination as far as a healthy outcome, or inability to deal with the social anxiety due to what feels like an impending major change of some kind.
When I try to envision this inevitable civil war from the point we are at today, I really don’t see enough people taking up arms or getting violent to kick off what we commonly think of as a revolution. We’ve already had mass protests, they do nothing but dissipate the anger and anxiety, but they don’t effect any change. Those protests have even gotten violent, and unless its happened in a minority enclave, they’ve served the same dissipating effect. The white supremacists and militia element are disconcerting, especially in some regions where they appear to be more-or-less allied with police and right wing politicians. But will enough of them fight for Trump (or Cotton, or whichever of their twitter luminaries)? So far the shaming and counterprotesting against that has been extremely effective. I don’t see a big or cohesive bloc of politicians that would enable political air cover for real war acts. I don’t even see real planning for an alternate government structure like we saw in the first civil war!
The call is coming from inside the house. There isn’t going to be a civil war, because we’ve already sacrificed (domestic) millions to neoliberalism in the form of deaths of despair and opioids, and the remaining who haven’t succumbed are checked out with gaming and weed and binge drinking and consumerism. The only people who actively care enough about any political ideal are the socialists and Bernie faction, and they are building a bench to effect real change at the voting booth.
When I grew up in the 60’s and early 70’s, protest was rampant, but as of late protest has been stifled and shunted off in a corner, if not rousted away.
There is a pressure-cooker environment now, with the action being on here, the internet. There is no shortage of long distance hate going to and fro, and we’ve become accustomed to it online, why would we look askance when it’s in our face?
the answer is that Obama’s influence will be marginal. The story of 2018 is the spontaneous energy of the grassroots. It is groups like Indivisible, Let America Vote, Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, DSA, et al that are driving this election cycle. Versailles pundits STILL have not caught on to what is happening on the ground.
I hope you’re correct. I am seeing good energy at the grass roots and hope it’s not squelched by BigD. Speaking for myself, I’d prefer to see Obama nowhere in sight. My concern is that he’ll just support the usual DNC status quo candidates of the ilk of Corey Booker and the dog help us Eric Holder. Unfortunately, many voters are low information and may be easily misled into believing candidates like Booker and Holder are worthwhile if Obama’s backing them.
Under “The Death of Local News” a minor media conglomerate (Lee Enterprises) bought the Missoula Independent (a progressive paper) in 2017 in a promise to “save” the paper. It already owned the other major city paper, The Missoulian, by the way. The Indy workers unionized, the owners threatened them with staff cuts, and a few days ago they shut the paper down and laid everyone off with no notice.
21st Century union busting suppoered by cheap fed money.
First, I cannot believe people buy the BS when corporation say they will “save the company by buying it.” But I have been calling for a boycott of all the other publications owned by Lee Enterprises but everyone is quiet. I also contacted the reporters who were fired about starting a Coop paper but they are essentially saying it is “too hard”.
I guess it has to get much worse before people act.
Here in Tucson, the Arizona Daily Star is owned by Lee. Let’s just say that the Star has not improved under Lee’s ownership.
There was a big protest out side the Missoulian offices yesterday.
I’m sad to hear they think starting a co-op would be “too hard.” Maybe I should email one of my contacts there and put him in touch with some co-op media outlets (there are a few around) and funders/developers.
Yes, I was there. :)
Gothamist had a similar situation. They voted to unionize and were shut down by the owner a week later. Public radio stations including donors brought it back. Of course large cities have greater access to money so that helped. https://www.kqed.org/news/11651981/gothamist-news-sites-brought-back-to-life-by-public-radio
I recently spent 24+ hrs stranded (thanks American) in the DFW airport. I did not see a single newspaper being read or abandoned during that time. I suspect that people are not buying what passes as news these days. Except, CNN was ubiquitous and unavoidable throughout all five terminals. Fun times!!
Will someone please tell me the name of the last Supreme Court nominee who wasn’t removed from the process before the vote who DID NOT make it onto the bench?
After Clarence Thomas I would think it would be clear that the Democrats would vote a babbling idiot who likes to punch people onto the court.
Bork. But the evangelicals wanted to exert control and demanded a performative vote.
Nope it is Bork. That was a trick question, everyone who has been nominated and actually gotten a Senate vote has become a Supreme Court justice. Miers, while nominated, got such blowback that Bush withdrew her nomination.
Yeah, my Senator Maria Cantwell, a virtuous fighting D, flunked the money vote on debate cloture paving the way for Alito then made a virtue signal vote against him knowing votes were there to assure confirmation. Those Washington Generals have nothin’ compared to the fighting D’s!
sadly cantwell is our better senator on matters of the flesh and not metal and rivets, I guess it’s carbon fiber and epoxy now…but they could both use the crisis of the orcas to put themselves in alignment with the average josephine. Get rid of the net pens and continue to support, and expand, salmon recovery in cooperation with the indian tribes, who happen to be the salmon’s best friend.
this is a great place to see what’s going on right now in one microcosm, and yeah that’s a significant job source for the guarantee, just as the CCC…
Ha!…..they already have trimmed Social Security benefits…In the last 10 years we have had 2 years with ZERO COLA increases and the other 8 years of far less than the average 2.5 percent annual COLA……that, with increases in Medicare deductibles and premiums amounting to going backwards for 10 years….
I know the average COLA before 10 years ago, as that number was used for a Work comp wage loss settlement when settling on a lump sum..IE….work comp carriers only pay wage loss for 2 years and then VOILA the tax payers pick up the rest…
So in essence we settled a present day value lump sum based on the average Social Security payment of 2.5 percent per year up to age 81…..no going back to fix that one…
Wonder when disabled and seniors are going to rise up?..esp. with property taxes for gentrification pushing many long time homeowners out. My council person stated to take that up with the FEDS!….ha, not his problem.
About the 10th article I’ve seen blaming Reed lowering the voting threshold for Obama’s 2nd term judicial nominees for the GOP’s antics now. Because if democrats took the norm fairy more seriously then, Republicans would never dare cross him or her now. In spite of the clear evidence that they do this sort of thing in a heartbeat.
Forgotten is the standoff over judicial nominees in the Bush II administration, when the Republican Senate leadership threatened exactly this. Leading to endless patter about the “nuclear option” and norms, etc. That standoff was resolved by the Dems agreeing to allow votes on a set number of judges in order to maintain the from then on hollow pretense that the norm was still normative.
“Put that knife away and we’ll cut our own throats. ” What a cunning plan.
All this crap points in the direction of demanding that dems restore this formerly sacred principle along with others like Paygo should they contrive to obtain the majority. After all, the best deterrence to sicker punches is the preemptive tying of one’s own hands.
Re “The Civil War on America’s Horizon”, Lambert writes, “What would victory in such a “Civil War” look like? In my view, it must include a geographical split, by definition. And I don’t see how that’s possible.”
For models, we can look to Cambodia (urban/rural split), Rwanda (ethnic), or perhaps Spain. Though given who controls most of the weapons, public and private, “pogrom” might be a better word for it.
Perhaps a civil war is something a strategizing art-of-war Russia could brutally take advantage of…an opportunity for meddling, when we are vulnerable.
An assumption that victory is the end-goal is debatable.
Re-watching Burns’ ‘Vietnam’ makes clear that several presidents knew the war wasn’t winnable, but they wouldn’t win re-election if they admitted it. ‘Cui bono, cui malo’ may be the better guiding assumption.
Turchin only says his model parameters break down after going asymptotic in 2020. Wars with conventional fronts haven’t been the rule for a half-century. Which means ‘Demolition Man’ provides as much guidance as anything by McPherson.
” the austerity box”
We could also eliminate the wars on Africa, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, not to mention less mentioned wars in Nepal, the Philippines, Columbia, Venezuela, et tedious cetera, and reduce the size of the military by 2/3, for a saving of ca. 500 billion dollars. Eliminating the F-35 program and letting our allies build the F-22 at their expense would also be good. Ending the war on some drugs except when consumed by the children of Congressmen and releasing all the drug convicts from prison and ending the war on drugs would save tens of billions a year.
Cutting the military by 2/3 and bringing most troops would also lead to a major cut in the Department of Education, because they supply the education for military dependents overseas.
Beat me to it.
Elites pump out Tina and austerity because the Koch donors want that.
But if there’s no trust that “the good times” will continue, and there’s no trust that hard work will lead to a raise or a better job, when you get screwed whenever you get involved with somebody who has a letterhead, and when life expectancy is dropping, how “good” is that? How much credit is there to give?
Very well said.
I might also note that you highlight the essential distinction at work here just as in the Obama years. The economy is good by the numbers but those numbers only mean something to large-scale investors. The actual lived experience has not functionally improved and the public reaction shows this. 10, 20 years ago when this historical data was collected the numbers and the experience were not so far off, now they are. That I think is the salient fact that undergirds all of the “there’s never been an X” thinkpieces.
What good economy? Even when there is work it is gig work and the like. I’d liken the economy to one of the better years during the Great Depression. Not the worst it’s been, as that was a few years ago, but we’re still in a depression. Some years during the Great Depression were worse than others.
And they are not, so there is no depression.
True dat. 1931 was truly horrific. There was actual starvation in the land.
On the “good” Trump economy not producing polling results for Republicans: Most of the metrics that Trump and his sycophants are touting as being signs of a healthy economy, are the exact same metrics that candidate Trump decried as being inaccurate and masking over the true economic pain of main street America. So if that argument resonated with the public enough to get him elected, then it only makes sense that they’re not going to suddenly buy the argument that those metrics are real
There is a lot of nonsense being put forth about the great economy and how wages are up. Wages rose less than inflation and if you look at the percentiles only the rich people gained. The middle group stayed even and the poor lost ground. I figure this is a lot of hype being pumped out to affect the election. After November these claims will subside.
The economy is better than it was in 2008, but it’s not much better than it was around 2015/2016. With the present tax scam, I expect that many voters will be in my shoes, which is that: my taxes went up, while I witness Gazillionaires getting a huge tax cut/break. Wow. That just makes we want to vote GOP… NOT.
I agree that one of Trump’s big campaign rally cries was how bad the economy was back then, especially for his “economically anxious” base in what’s called the Rust Belt or Flyover Country. From what I hear, things have not gotten much better in those areas of the country, which were mostly hardest hit by the recession and a host of other issues, like off-shoring jobs, etc. I could be wrong, but I think it’s only on the coasts where some improvements may be seen by those who are “just” middle class or somewhat (but only somewhat) lower than that.
It’s risible to suggest that the economy’s so great under the GOP, but it’s no more than what I’d expect the campaign propaganda to be. I guess we’ll see what the voters think come November.
I prefer Fentanyland as a moniker for the midwest.
Probably some improvement can be seen on the coasts for those who are “just” middle class, however we were actually incredibly hard hit by the recession as well. Unemployment in California was about the second highest in the nation during the recession. I remember it well, thinking that moving anywhere else at the time might be better.
However, in some ways things seem harder now, because the lesson learned from the recession that had not fully sunk in initially is: employers hold ALL THE CARDS. But it’s sunk in deeply now. So the whole relationship between employers and current or potential employees has changed.
I wasn’t sure if that was snark about Jane Harman and The Moustache of Hackitude sharing the same agenda…but it’s basically true. Harman’s Career in Congress and her chair her tenure on Intelligence and Homeland Security committees was absolutely odious.
Re: “$18.7 billion isn’t very much in the great scheme of thing…”
I think we all know that depends on the scheme. Try spending it on helping people directly and it becomes a huge and unaffordable amount.
$18.7 billion would create new infrastructure, roads, bridges, trails, and upkeep of all of our National Parks. which would go over the $12 billion needed now, budgeting for 50% more just in case.
I only partially read that insane Twitter rant, because I could feel my brains starting to leak out of my eye sockets, but I gather he’s claiming 9/11 and/or the conspiracy theories about it were all an elaborate Russian plot? Also at one points he asserts that Qatar has been a Russian client state since the early 1990s.
RussiaGate literally makes people dumber.
Oh, that reminds me of something. I need to do more practice with that Russian language lesson I’ve been stuck on for the past week. It’s a real butt-kicker.
Wait, Qatar became a Russian client state as soon as they got rid of Communism? That was fast.
Would have made more sense if it was early 2000s.
Thanks for the summary. That’s more or less what I got out it, as well.
Thing about Qatar did somehow stand out, didn’t it? As in: WTF?
I believe Lambert said something like: it’s hard to tell what’s parody and what’s real these days.
I, too, could only skim it and then had to escape before my eyes melted or something.
Wow. If it’s satire, then I give it a thumbs up, I guess. Sadly I’m afraid it’s sincere.
I made it about as far as you did.
Personally I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. I bet if we looked hard enough we would find Putin’s fingerprints all over the American Civil War.
Before I quit reading I learned of this gift from the Russians for the first time.
Meh. McConnell wouldn’t let a filibuster rule stop him getting a 5/4 supreme court for the rich, any more than he allowed hearings on Obama’s SC nominee, or stuck with the blue slips for judges, or any other rule preventing the rich from further dominating the courts.
The only difference removing the filibuster on lower judges and not is that the Republican’s couldn’t hold as many lower court seats open so they could fill them under current conditions.
Exclusive: Three-quarters of the secret money in recent elections came from 15 groups
Compared to most critters we’re pretty slow. We, like wolves, can lope or even walk down much faster prey who lack our stamina over distance. The trick is to pick one animal and stick with it until it’s exhausted. At least that used to be the case. Now we injure ourselves falling out of bed while reaching for pizza.
Pizza Put 2,300 Americans in the Hospital in 2017
You’re right there. We are not the fastest species, we don’t have claws and fangs, we don’t do camouflage much but we can run and run and run after a wounded animal until it was exhausted and collapsed making it an easy target. Early humans were relentless in the long game and that is what counted for us. We were so good that we had to invent pizza to slow us down some.
Apparently our ability to sweat has something to do with our long distance advantage over other animals.
Humans are almost freakish with it comes to long distance running/jogging compared to other animals. Wolves(dogs) are also another rare species that sometimes hunts using long distance running.
The article got it wrong, but… sweat is not about cooling. We cool by making steam in our lungs and breathing it out. This leaves us with too much salt, so we dump that out by emitting it on our skin.
Humans and horses have a really huge version of the tendons that connect the upper back to the head. Other animals sway their heads from side to side when running because they can’t hold their heads in place.
“A single gene” …
Scott Alexander intrigues again:
The Omnigenic Model As Metaphor For Life [Slate Star Codex]
Feinstein determined to strike in US:
Dianne Feinstein Withholding Brett Kavanaugh Document From Fellow Judiciary Committee Democrats
[Ryan Grim @ Intercept]
Perhaps someone in the Administration threatened hubbie’s USPS real estate privatization scheme.
The Whitening – 09/12/2018
Despite Trump’s promise to protect them, Christian refugees struggle to enter U.S.
Detention of Migrant Children Has Skyrocketed to Highest Levels Ever
Trump administration to triple size of Texas tent camp for migrant children
Steve King Retweets Open White Nationalist, Just Months After Retweeting Neo-Nazi
Allan, try to show our reptilian overlords the respect they have earned.
Especially DiFi and Nancy Pelosi.
Or Madeleine Albright might talk to her buddy Satan and reserve you a special place in Hell.
Every time I call Feinstein’s office I mention the privatization efforts of USPS by her husband.
The person on the other end of the phone always says that there is no truth to these stories of Blum’s attempt to privatize the federal p.o. – I can see their eyes rolling each time I mention it – and I’m sure they hate that I do call them when I have something to discuss with them.
She’s gonna have a hard time hanging onto that U.S. Senate seat this time around, I believe.
That said, this is just my personal opinion. Now that I’m gainfully employed I no longer have time to find out what the “man on the street” is thinking regarding the dual – and dueling – Dem’s Senate race in November.
I like neither of the choices.
May have to write in “Giant Meteor” again.
Her opponent is the lesser evil. Even if they were equal we should evict Feinstein Bch the replacement would have less clout, plus the P.O. scheme would likely die.
I will do my best in nov.
“Obama would probably be packing the Court today after we passed an Amendment to give him a third term.”
Yeah, no. I would never have voted Obama a third time. I didn’t vote for him a second time.
This would have been “Mirror Mirror” universe Obama though – the one who came from that alternate universe to campaign as a moderately leftist candidate but was caught and forced to go home leaving us with the Obama we all knew as President.
What makes you think that we are not the ones that are living “In a Mirror, Darkly”?
Tax Change Helps Executives Afford Pricier Planes [WSJ]
This is not the 9.9%. This is the .01%.
Sadly, not exactly a job creator, except for accountants:
Makes the Forever War seem like a wise use of tax dollars.
Sign of the times:
The three stooges foaming the runway again.
Just heard that Jamie Presidential Cufflinks Dimon walked back his boast that he could beat Trump for POTUS bc he’s smarter & tougher than Trump. Apparently he folded like a cheap deck chair less than an hour after his braggadocio.
Wonder why? I mean it’s a dumb boast. But why walk it back so fast. Who got to him??
Cuomo seems worried about Nixon. Lots of reports that he is visiting of impromptu, closed door campaign events in the NYC area this evening.
The machine is humming! I hope if they’re selling out, they ask for cash upfront.
Is he not trusting the public polling too? Not mutually exclusive- Does he have other poll numbers?
Primary polling in NY has been bad for a while and recently seems to be getting much worse. It almost always puts the candidate with more money well ahead of the insurgent. Flips of 30-40 points have been seen this year, polls vs results.
At WFP rally tonight – Cynthia Nixon ends it with…”Elect the Homo Not the Cuomo”…
This is the kind of s* I live for….
That’s great! :-)
To describe ‘Tokyo Vice’ as shlocky is supremely uncharitable. I found it fascinating.