2:00PM Water Cooler 9/20/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“China Races to Get Toys and Car Parts to US Before Tariffs Hit” [Industry Week]. “At sea and in the sky, the U.S. president’s trade war with China has ignited a freight frenzy. Hyundai Merchant Marine Co.’s vessels leaving China for the U.S. are full, deliveries to California ports are surging, and cargo rates for journeys across the Pacific are at a four-year high. The levies that kick in Monday have amplified the busy pre-holiday season as Chinese manufacturers rush everything from toys to bikes to car parts into American stores before tariffs hit. At Air China Ltd., freight to the U.S. is booming…. Starting Monday, a 10% duty applies to $200 billion of Chinese imports — Trump’s biggest salvo yet in a trade war between the world’s largest economies that now directly hits U.S. consumers. After that, American importers have until the end of the year to stockpile Chinese products before the tariff leaps to 25%.”

“Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland will meet again with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer today as negotiators work around the clock to reach a three-way NAFTA 2.0 by the end of the month. But Canada says it will not be pressured into a deal by the Trump administration or GOP lawmakers” [Politico].

“The Trump administration’s latest round of tariffs is throwing into sharp relief the dominance of Chinese suppliers in automotive supply chains. Among the $200 million in imports subject to 10% tariffs beginning next week are a $10 billion in auto components from more than 1,000 Chinese companies, including crankshafts, spark plugs and windshield-wiper blades” [Wall Street Journal]. “There are few immediate and affordable alternatives for many of those parts for U.S. manufacturers, and the levies—which rise to 25% next year—will reverberate through the supply chain, affecting prices of new and used cars. Chinese suppliers are beginning to see the impact, with some receiving fewer orders from U.S. customers. U.S. suppliers, facing higher costs and customers that won’t take nicely to price increases, are caught in the middle.”



46 days until Election Day. 46 days is a long time in politics.

“Kavanaugh accuser’s lawyer: ‘Rush to a hearing is unnecessary'” [CNN]. “After coming forward on Sunday against Kavanaugh, Ford indicated through her attorney on Monday that she would be willing to testify before Congress. Grassley announced later that he would convene a hearing with both Ford and Kavanaugh, who has denied her allegations, on the coming Monday. Ford’s attorneys said Tuesday that she did not want to testify without an FBI investigation into the matter first, a call that Grassley rebuffed.”

“GOP pushing forward for Kavanaugh, accuser wants ‘fairness'” [Associated Press]. “‘If you have been assaulted or harassed by a powerful Republican man [***cough*** Bill Clinton ***cough***], you better not talk about it or you’re going to pay a price,” [Sen. Patty Murrays] said.” • The virtue signaling! It b-u-u-u-r-r-n-s-ssss! Anyhow, a good wrap-up of the state of play.

“What Kavanaugh deserves — and what we deserve from him” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “[N]one of us ought to be defined by the ugliest moments of our lives — and especially not our teenage lives. As I was once told by Bob Kerrey, the former senator who went through his own painful public reckoning over his actions as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam, we are not the worst things we’ve ever done. Kerrey’s fellow Democrats must believe this, too, by the way, because they stood by Bill Clinton through all the odious disclosures of his private behavior, and they still lionize the late Ted Kennedy, who was responsible for a woman’s death in Chappaquiddick. Neither was 17 years old at the time…. A Supreme Court justice doesn’t need to be a perfect person, or to have led an unfailingly exemplary life. None of us can say that. But, especially on a divided court in a divided nation, we deserve a justice who demonstrates a capacity for nuance, reflection and humility. Whatever else is true about him, Brett Kavanaugh doesn’t seem to be that guy.” • I’m not sure that guy — or, I suppose, gal — is on offer. The Beltway doesn’t seem to optimize for that sort of character.

“The Kavanaugh Charade” [Charles Blow, New York Times]. “If Trump was truly interested in finding out the truth of these allegations, he could have ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into their veracity as soon as he heard about them. That is precisely what George H.W. Bush did when he learned of Anita Hill’s accusation against Clarence Thomas in 1991.”

“Dems plot massive campaign if Kavanaugh falls” [Axios]. “If Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination sinks, Democrats would turn the midterms into a referendum not just on President Trump but also women’s rights, abortion and the future of the Supreme Court, sources tell Axios.” • In other words, Kavanaugh’s failure would create a gravy train for Democrat consultants, strategists, media types, etc. So those are the incentives. Ka-ching.

UPDATE “A survivor’s truth, hiding in plain sight” [Elizabeth Bruenig, WaPo]. • The survivor’s name is Amber Wyatt. If we as a society, assuming there is such a thing, wish to think about Kavanaugh (and #MeToo) seriously, we will have to begin with writing like Bruenig’s here, a long-form piece worth two cups of coffee. (As the URL — “/graphics/” — shows, it’s all crapped up with cell-phone friendly graphics, but never mind that.) Key paragraph for me:

Making sense of her ordeal meant tracing a web of failures, lies, abdications and predations, at the center of which was a node of power that, though anonymous and dispersed, was nonetheless tilted firmly against a young, vulnerable girl. Journalists, activists and advocates began to uncover that very same imbalance of power from Hollywood to Capitol Hill in the final year of this reporting, in an explosion of reporting and analysis we’ve come to call the #MeToo Movement. But the rot was always there — even in smaller and less remarkable places, where power takes mundane, suburban shapes.

(Rod Dreher at The American Conservative reacts, interestingly.) Also see here for the Kavanaugh milieu, where the “partying” seems similar to that in Wyatt’s Texas town. Now, I have a lot of priors about drinking, especially in school environments, and especially in all-male milieux like frats — or Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Preparatory. And because of my priors, I was taken in by Rolling Stone’s “A Rape on Campus” debacle. I’d prefer not to have the same thing happen on Kavanaugh; that’s not a service to readers, and it makes the blog look bad.

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“How Democratic Socialists Performed in State and Local Primaries” [Governing]. “DSA chapters endorsed 93 state and local candidates in 2018, according to the national group. Of those, 43 lost their primaries, but 50 are advancing to the general election after either winning or facing no competition in the primary season. They could win seats for school boards, city councils and legislatures in 20 states. (Of the 25 state and local candidates who also earned DSA’s national endorsement, eight lost their primaries.)” • This is, in fact , a very small number. But when Christian conservatives (so-called) started their long march to power, I’m sure their numbers were similarly small, and they two began at the local level. That said, it’s a little amazing to see a headline like that in a mainstream publication.

“Ratings Changes: House and Governors” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “A slew of new House polling, mostly from the New York Times and Siena College, contains bright spots for both parties but also suggests a Democratic edge in the race for the House…. By now, those who watch the House of Representatives are aware of the New York Times’ massive House polling project in conjunction with Siena College. They are in the field daily and will release dozens of House polls from now through the November election. They are providing House analysts (and the general public) with a treasure trove of nonpartisan data about the most competitive House races, many of which might not even have received a single nonpartisan survey were it not for this project. So this House analyst is grateful for the data they are providing. And while operatives on both sides complain about certain aspects of the polling — particularly that NYT/Siena is continually updating the progress of the polling, providing partial results that can be misleading even though the site features an admirable array of cautions and caveats — we have heard from several pros who are hitting “refresh” on their web browsers every night to keep track.” • So I guess I was right to focus on districts in the House in my Worksheets, lo these many moons ago. (Since my focus has been institutional, rather than the horserace, and the worksheets take a lot of time I have not had lately, I haven’t produced a new one in some time. But I haven’t forgottten the project, and now that the primaries have shaken out and the field is reduced, I can return to that project. Just remember that my goal — which is not the Times’ goal at all — is to produce an adequare account of the “Democrat” “Party” as an institution, which I’m still thinking about. My current trope is that the best way to think of the Democrats is as a criminal syndicate that controls access to the ballot, whether by candidates or voters (much as a street gang controls a territory). I don’t know anything about the sociology of criminal enterprises, however, so I may not be getting this right. This is not a easy problem; I know, because I’ve asked genuine experts. Reader thoughts welcome.)

“DNC chairman Tom Perez: ‘We’re fighting for our democracy'” [WaPo]. And when a liberal Democrat apparatchik says “our democracy,” they really do mean their democracy; see above on ballot access.

“New data: Democrats crushing Republicans in 2018 elections” [Axios]. “Riding a surge of enthusiasm in opposition to President Trump, more Democrats turned out in the primaries for House elections than Republicans this year — the first time that has happened since 2008…. David Brady, electoral politics expert and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, predicts around a 7% Democratic turnout advantage in November driven by women, and particularly Independent women.” • The Kavanaugh nomination might be seen as a sort of “test match” on these voters. If Kavanaugh goes down, and the Admiinstration nominates a reactionary woman, will everything be jake?

New Cold War

“The Plot to Subvert an Election” [New York Times]. I hate to cherry-pick, but eight paragraphs in: “[T]here is a plausible case that Mr. Putin succeeded in delivering the presidency to his admirer, Mr. Trump, though it cannot be proved or disproved.” • So after two solid years of RussiaRussiaRussia, this is where we are? I mean in terms to advancing the story, not in terms of clicks, network ratings, newspaper columns, and TV appearances, an effort so massive there’s a plausible case it’s made for the excellent GDP numbers we’ve been seeing. So what’s not to like?

“Trump’s declassification order is an obvious abuse of presidential power” [Editorial Board, WaPo]. “President Trump has demanded the immediate declassification of portions of an order allowing the surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page, text-message records from several of Mr. Trump’s chief whipping boys at the FBI and interview records with Bruce G. Ohr, a senior Justice Department official.” • Perhaps I’m too cynical about the intelligence community [***cough*** Bezos CIA AWS cloud contracts ***cough***], but I don’t see why its a bad thing to see tthe reality, if that’s the word I want, behind what all of WaPo’s anonymous sources were leaking. More like this, please.

Realignment and Legitimacy

Strange bedfellows:

Stats Watch

Leading Indicators, August 2018: “Led by a surge in ISM manufacturing orders, the index of leading economic indicators posted a solid…. advance in August” [Econoday]. “[H]ousing aside, the LEI is pointing to a healthy finish for the 2018 economy.”

Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, September 2018: “Accelerating pressure on nearly everything but prices headliines a very strong Philly Fed report for September where the general business conditions index surged” [Econoday]. “The price data suggest that capacity and tariff issues are not, at least right now, creating significant dislocations. Six-month price data also moderated in the month. Today’s report is unusually favorable, belying the Federal Reserve’s assessment that growth in the nation’s manufacturing sector is no more than moderate.” And: “Consider this a much stronger report than last month as key elements significantly improved” [Econintersect].

Existing Home Sales, August 2018: “[T]he zero change marks an end to four prior months of slowing” [Econoday]. “However strong the economy and stock market are, the nation’s housing sector is not participating which is a negative for household wealth.” And but: “1) This is a reasonable level for existing home sales, and doesn’t suggest any significant weakness in housing or the economy. The key for the housing – and the overall economy – is new home sales, single family housing starts and overall residential investment” [Calculated Risk]. “2) Inventory is still very low.”

Jobless Claims, week of September 15, 2016: “In a milestone jobless claims report, all four key readings are at historic lows” [Econoday]. “These results will build expectations for strong payroll growth and downward pressure on the unemployment rate for September.”

Shipping: “Fears over future container terminal capacity as investors get cold feet” [The Loadstar]. “According to Neil Davidson, director of ports at analyst Drewry, while ebitda levels and margins for terminal operators have remained relatively resilient over the past decade, “average ROIC has declined from 8.3% in 2008 to 5.5% last year”… Mr Davidson told The Loadstar that it is the higher capital costs of building ports today, due to the need for larger cranes, deeper water and more land for yard and terminal space to cater for the larger ships that was causing the most pain.”

Shipping: “Diesel to power smaller share of U.S. truck orders by 2040, study says” [DC Velocity]. “About two-thirds of commercial motor vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2040 will be powered by diesel fuel, down from 80 percent today, as growth in shorter-haul transportation increases demand for alternative powertrains for medium-duty and heavy-duty trucks, according to a study released today by IHS Markit, a consultancy.”

Supply Chain: “Amazon reportedly plans 4-story warehouses” [Supply Chain Dive]. “Bisnow reports Amazon is planning four-story, 2.5 million-square-foot warehouses in Minnesota, California, Wisconsin and North Carolina. The e-commerce giant recently announced plans to open a second fulfillment center in Stockton, California, located about 70 miles east of San Francisco. … [U]rban and suburban areas often have limited real estate available, and the space that is available tends to be pricier….. Another solution to the lack of space: build vertically, not horizontally.” • I hope they put bathrooms on every floor.

Transportation: “Union Pacific will phase in precision scheduled railroading” [Supply Chain Dive]. “[By 2020,] the strategy will shift the company’s focus from moving trains to moving cars, minimize car dwell and improve utilization of crews and assets…. Union Pacific’s embrace of the precision scheduled railroading model may mark the first time such a model has been enacted at a railroad not led by the late Hunter Harrison… ving cars, not trains, was a hallmark of Harrison’s financial turnarounds of CSX, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific. The three railroads, under his leadership, decreased their operating ratio significantly.”

The Bezzle: “” [The New Food Economy]. “Renée McGhee didn’t realize she was embarking on a life of crime when she started selling homemade food to friends and neighbors through an Oakland, California-based web platform called Josephine. The food-sharing startup, which had raised more than $3 million in seed and angel funding, connected home cooks who wanted to sell their food to hungry neighbors who wanted to buy it…. Now, California’s Health and Safety Code will be amended to allow “Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations,” starting January 1, 2019….. The legislation limits home kitchens to $50,000 in sales a year, and 60 individual meals a week. Food must be prepared, cooked, and served on the same day and picked up by the customer or delivered within a safe time period, and home kitchen operators will be required to obtain food manager training and certification. No indirect sales are allowed—customers must pick up the food from the cook, or the cook must deliver it directly to the customers. Home cooks will bear the cost of required written applications and annual inspections, to the tune of about $300 a year. The total cost to legally launch a Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operation is estimated at $800 a year, which would cover training and permitting, as well as liability insurance, which is recommended but not required.” • I’m not sure whether this is an example of relatively benign “permissionless innovcation” or not. I vehemently support local food sovereignty. On the other hand, the presence of a Silicon Valley middleperson, whose business model necessarily depends on scale, gives me pause.

Tech: “Connecting the Apple Dots” [Above Avalon]. “Apple’s product strategy is based not on coming up with replacements for existing products, but on using personal technology to come up with alternatives to more powerful computers. By relying on new form factors in addition to new user inputs and outputs, Apple has seen much success in coming up with products that contain less in the way of barriers between the user and technology. Intuitiveness is used to harness technology’s potential. Apple’s goal with iPhone has been to give the product enough functionality to serve as a Mac and iPad alternative.” • That may work with consumers. It does not work for producers/creators, which is why the ongoing crapification of the Mac is a real concern. More: “Based on the most recent iPhone and Apple Watch updates, Apple’s longer-term ambition has become crystal clear. This is a company that believes Apple Watch will serve as a viable alternative to iPhone.” • If the iPhone turns into a dumb phone, maybe. I mean, I’m not gonna do a phone conversation with my wrist held up to my mouth.

Tech: “Google Says It Continues to Allow Apps to Scan Data From Gmail Accounts” [Wall Street Journal]. “In a letter to senators, a top Google official said the company allows app developers to scan Gmail accounts, even though Google itself stopped the practice for the purpose of ad targeting last year. The company also disclosed that app developers generally are free to share the data with others, as long as Google determines that their privacy policies adequately disclose potential uses…. Using software tools provided by Gmail and other email services, outside app developers can access information about what products people buy, where they travel and which friends and colleagues they interact with the most. In some cases, employees at these app companies have read people’s actual emails in order to improve their software algorithms.” • Oh.

Class Warfare

“This Labor Day, A Clean Slate for Reform” [Law and Political Economy]. Lots of suggestions. One such: “The number of significant strikes in the U.S. has fallen to almost none. That’s because the law puts up so many hurdles and obstacles – it severely limits where, when, and how workers can act together. Instead of maximizing power, the law diminishes it. We need to rewrite the law to allow workers to analyze power relationships and exercise collective power strategically. For example, when companies fissure their functions into separate firms connected by subcontracts, we could allow workers to treat those connected firms as one for the purpose of strikes, pickets and boycotts.” • I’ve gotta say, watching Hoffa trying to put two-tier in place at UPS, I’m starting to throw union national leadership into the same bucket as college administrators (that is, as rent-seeking parasites who should be extracted to restore the health of the host and restore it to its original function). A part of the problem that this article, which is well worth a read, does not address.

“The Craw Eternal” [Penny Arcade (Tertium Squid/Deschain)]. On YouTube content creation and “burnout videos”: “I feel like a sweatshop that the worker willingly enters constitutes a kind of labor market endgame… It’s true that these are choices people are making, ostensibly with the knowledge that this type of “employment” has none of the strictures commonly understood in a job, but after I saw my fifth or sixth burnout video – videos which slot ever-so-neatly into the same machine that caused the breakdowns in the first place… The beast, rendered here as a perpetually salivating squid crab, must be fed constantly. It is in desperate need of your youth and your authenticity because even in its green-black Authenticity Glands it cannot approximate who you and your friends are, just on your own.” • Do click through to the squid crab, which reminds me of a vampire squid. I can’t think why.

“Payday Loans Are Coming For Everyone” [Welcome to Hell World (DC Blogger)]. “After setting up an account on WorkMarket, the payment portal the Huffington Post uses — freelancing in 2018 means navigating dozens of such byzantine portals and handing over all of your sensitive banking information to systems of dubious security — I was notified a month later that my payment was finally ready to go through. There was just one catch: If I wanted any money right away I would have to pay them $52.50 for the privilege of getting paid…. WorkMarket, the third party service that the Huffington Post and all of the Oath properties — Yahoo!, AOL, TechCrunch and others — uses to manage its accounts payable, was providing me the option to get paid earlier than I would normally, through something called FastFunds. That would be after forfeiting an ~8% cut, or around 195% APR to be clear. While that’s not quite the typical 400% a payday lender might charge — where the cost of borrowing $100 is between $15-30 if you manage to pay it back on time — it’s not that far off.” • Note the two UPDATEs at the top.

“Wages Are Low and Workers Are Scarce. Wait, What?” [Annie Lowry, The Atlantic]. “The central paradox of the Trump economy is that widespread concerns about labor shortages coexist with widespread complaints about low wages. But economists do not see it as much of a paradox—instead seeing it as a sign of dimming business dynamism and diminished worker power…. Still, the tighter labor market should lead to widespread and stronger wage gains at some point, economists think, and hopefully soon. That is already true in communities and industries with very low unemployment rates. When companies cannot fill positions even after raising wages significantly—that will indicate real labor shortages. And for workers? It will feel like a very good thing.” • Until the Fed takes the punch bowl away, of course.

News of The Wired

“Legendary Punk John Lydon on Public Image Ltd, David Bowie and Being Called a Trump Supporter: ‘I’m Not Insane!'” [Newsweek]. • I don’t know about you, but I thought Metal Box was superb!

“The Meal-Based Artist Residency Program” [Half-Letter Press]. “If you’ve been following Public Collectors’ work for the last couple years, you’ve probably heard about the Joong Boo Residency Program. For that project Marc Fischer from Public Collectors invited out of town artists to apply for a residency that consisted of Fischer taking the artist resident to eat Korean food at Joong Boo Market in Chicago’s Avondale neighborhood, at no cost to the resident. After 38 of these residencies, the project has ended, but not before inspiring several similar residencies in other cities.” • I think this is a neat idea!

“American Weirdness: Observations From an Expat” [The Atlantic]. • I wish this article were more interesting and insightful than it is. Would expat readers care to comment?

Makes microdosing look staid:

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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 (CC in CO):

CC in CO writes: “This is a shot of some Russian (!) Sage with a honey bee, some wilting Echinacea purpurea behind it.”Everybody can take pictures of flowers with bees but me! Just a few more would greatly relieve my angst. Thank you!

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Readers, I’m still 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! How about a project you completed over the summer?

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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. Carolinian

    China Races to Get Toys and Car Parts to US Before Tariffs Hit

    The back parking lot of one of my local Walmarts is filling up with shipping containers–doubtless full of Christmas goods. Halloween sales are already underway. Walmart and others have supposedly urged Trump not to enact the latest tariffs which include things like Christmas lights and pet food. That latter may be a good thing. There was a scandal a few years back about adulterated Asian pet food.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The back parking lot of one of my local Walmarts is filling up with shipping containers

      That’s a very good real-world indicator! Thank you!

      Adding… I take it this doesn’t happen every year?

      1. Carolinian

        No, they do it every year although perhaps not this early. All of their Black Thursday/Friday sales are pre staged on cardboard displays and brought in from the containers on the big day. If you happen by there on Thanksgiving you are apt to see fork lifts in the parking lot shuttling stacks of flat screen televisions.

    2. Edward E

      Wal~Mart rents most of those shipping containers because they need more storage at this time of the year than what they have for a stockroom. You will probably see an owners registration somewhere. And if one should happen to get cleaned out because someone left it unlocked, in the past they used to polygraph test all the employees. Asking about anything they think they needed to know about, related or not.

      About that currency manipulating thing China has been accused of…

      Old-school monetarists have longed for a return to having gold as the real reserve currency.  So here is a fun quandary: suppose you’re a hard-core auriphile, longing for a return to gold being the world’s reserve currency.  Suppose you could get what you have longed for, but with a price: China gets to call the shots.  Do you accept the deal?

  2. Synoia

    Amazon reportedly plans 4-story warehouses

    Heated by the sweat of the employees, and cooled because the employees have to run at 10 MPH all day, which keeps the air moving.

    Amazon estimates it can eliminate the heating and cooling costs of the warehouse with well considered worker incentives.

    The incentives, whipping, will stop when the temperature inside the warehouses reached the optimum cosh flow for Bezos.

    1. Mark Gisleson

      Four stories because after employees carry inventory up the stairs, they’ll step onto platforms lowering them back to the first floor, generating energy to power the building as they do so. [https://www.wired.com/story/battery-built-from-concrete/]

    2. Craig H.

      There was a magazine article which I lost the link to which reported a max warehouse foot mileage in a shift of 15 miles.

      I don’t believe that number but when I ask google:

      what is the maximum fitbit mileage an amazon worker has accumulated in one shift?

      Nothing shows up on the first page. It seems like this would be easily gotten data. Anybody got a better idea for a search string?

      1. Carolinian

        I’ve seen that too although it may be “up to” 15 miles. If you figure 2 mph times 8 hrs then it is possibly true if they are kept constantly walking around picking orders.

        1. wilroncanada

          No need for washrooms either, except in the executive suite, which of course will have its own secure entrance and video screens to look down on the “employed’. As long as there are plastic bottles and jars available…

  3. BoyDownTheLane

    “… The beep and ping of devices triggers complicated emotions. In many homes, parents simultaneously castigate their offspring’s use of tech and are relieved by it: like some goblin babysitter, it squats in the corner of family life, whispering powerfully, turning children silent and glassy-eyed.

    The erratically applied adult phrases ‘That’s enough screen time!’ and ‘Give me that iPad!’ ring hopelessly around family homes, interspersed with squeals of refusal. Cannier parents have worked out that if they cannot contain the addiction they can manipulate it to their advantage: the threat of sudden iPad withdrawal is a behavioural corrective….”

  4. Brindle

    Seems like Kavanaugh was BMOC-type at Yale. Certainly a few yellow flags about this guy having a pre-disposition to treat women like s**t–or worse.

    @joycemaynard…..”In today’s Yale Daily News: what Brett Kavanaugh was up to back in his school days, when he belonged to a secret society known as “tit and clit”. Motto: No means yes. Yes means anal.”

      1. Bridget

        Ummm, there’s some really interesting stuff going on a twitter feed belonging to one Ed Whelan, friend of Kavanaugh, Harvard law grad, reputedly a very sober and cautious lawyer. If he’s right, it is possible to reconcile the stories of both Blasey Ford and Kavanaugh as being truthful. (Hint, mistaken identity, but with some well supported data). I’m sorry, I don’t know how to link a twitter feed but it’s easy to google up.

        I’m pretty sure there’s more to come. Blasey Ford named 4 other attendees at the party. Whelan’s twitter account is addressing all but the female classmate. I would bet $$ that Ed Whelan knows who the female classmate is, has spoken with her and will be endeavoring to administer the coup de gras with her story in the very near future.

        1. ocop

          Very “what if”, but given the: (1) specificity of his hypothetical, and (2) that he’s a lawyer dancing (presumably conciously) on the line of libel with respect to Chris Garret (unless he’s gone full Elon Musk), it makes you wonder.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I saw the Whelan thread. The responses were nearly all tribal and not especially edifying. I thought Whelan laying Ford’s fact set against the house plan was an actual contribution. But that she confused Kavanaugh with some other dude… Seems not plausible, especially if they knew each other socially. (The whole milieu of expensive all-male/all-female schools looks like a cesspit of drunkenness, so I’m not surprised if there are other stories.)

          It’s interesting to compare Bruenig’s excellent reporting with the reporting on Kavanaugh/Ford, or it would be, if actual reporting were being done. Instead, we have statements and posturing.

          1. Bridget

            I thought that the point about whose house were they in was also a contribution to the puzzle. Ford said she didn’t know whose house it was or how she got there. Having been to a few drunk teenage beer parties myself, I originally thought this was plausible. But if this was a very small group of people, all of whom were very well known to each other, it strains credulity to think that she didn’t know whose house she was in.
            Unless they were all squatting somewhere, the house must have belonged to one of the five people at the party.
            I would also add that she was 15 at the time and probably didn’t have a driver’s license. So how did she get to the party if she couldn’t drive herself?
            The plot certainly thickens.

        3. Bridget

          Whelp, the coup de grace has been administered. Not by Ed Whelan himself but by no less than former wife of Bob Beckel!(!?!?) The mind boggles.

          I hypothesize that Whelan, by pinpointing the address of the “female classmate” on his twitter feed, was cuing Blasey Ford that the identity of the “female classmate” was known, and There would be no aid and comfort coming from that direction. Too bad for Blasey Ford that her attorneys were far more interested in political gamesmanship than in protecting their client from this debacle.

          Ah well. Ford will no doubt end up with a cozy sinecure at some university somewhere and a book deal. Kavanaugh will be the newest Supreme, and I will never find out where the damn party was.

    1. cocomaan

      People shocked by this must have been real saints in college. Studious, never carousing, always on time for class.

      Calling an athletics club “tit and clit” is tame compared to some of the horrific things I said as a young man, aged 19.

      I’m not sure where it’s written down that all politicians and public figures act asexual, but the idea that Kavanaugh shouldn’t be a supreme court justice because of crude behavior in college is silly.

      1. cocomaan

        Also looked up a reference about this “secret society” (it was a club https://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/a23336402/brett-kavanaugh-female-clerks-certain-look-yale/) and found this gem:

        “‘What happened here is actually not unusual,’ said John Yoo, a senior Justice Department official under President George W. Bush. ‘The Judiciary Committee will often say to the Justice Department: “Can you send the agents back out and find out if this is true, find out what happened with this?” … The normal procedure for this would have been to send the FBI out,’ Yoo added.

        John Yoo the GWB torture advocate?!? Politico is really delving into the toilet!

      2. flora

        It ain’t what he said with the guys “in the locker room”; it’s an assault he’s reported to have committed on a young woman. That charge needs to be taken seriously and investigated objectively. If true, it crosses a line from ‘stupid youth’ to ‘predator’.

        1. cocomaan

          Brindle was posting about crude behavior.

          I’d be suspect of anyone who wasn’t crude at the age of 20.

          As for the charge, Sherlock Holmes would laugh if you told him to investigate an accusation of an event that nobody witnessed over thirty years ago that involves an accuser that can’t recall any specific information about the event.

          There’s about as much evidence about Kavanaugh as there was about Obama being born on Kenya. Obama said in speeches and written works that he was born in Kenya and that’s about where the evidence trail stopped. Why? Because it’s bull.

          There’s no law enforcement agency on the planet, except maybe one in some kind of dictatorship, that could muster enough evidence to make an actual call on what happened that night, if that night happened at all.

          1. clarky90

            Imo, this accusation against BK is two fold. (1) A political maneuver to delay the SCOTUS vote.

            (2) A cynical attack on #MeToo, by appropriating the “form” of the #MeToo statements, without ANY of the “substance” (that I know of) . Year, day, time, witnesses, place, confidants that comforted……

            I believe that this is a ploy, by Our Neo-Lib/Con Bosses, to trivialize and then discredit the actual, true, #MeToo Movement.

            #MeToo is potentially, regime-changing. “Must derail these revalations now! So unacceptable!”

            “Do you realize that the past, starting from yesterday, has been actually abolished? If it survives anywhere, it’s in a few solid objects with no words attached to them, like that lump of glass there. Already we know almost literally nothing about the Revolution and the years before the Revolution. Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book has been rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street and building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And that process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present….” 1984

            1. wilroncanada

              There are millions of us who had neither the money, the priveleged backing of “family” nor the moral indecency to act like a$$holes at college or university, nor at high school.
              That argument of “boys will be boys” is likely to be a right of passage argument from the religious right, that you can be an a$$hole six days a week as a young man as long as you’re BORN AGAIN every Sunday.

        2. Carolinian

          But what is there here that can be investigated? We have her version and his version. The witness, truthfully or not, will not corroborate. Certainly both parties could be put on television and viewers could decide for themselves who to believe but she has now declined to appear.

          I’m sure Kavanaugh will be very bad news on the SC. But maybe the Dems should have thought of that before running Mrs. Clinton as their candidate.

            1. cocomaan

              With the release of emails from the time when Kavanaugh served the Bush administration, Leahy said it is now evident that “there were numerous emails sent to him that made it very clear this was stolen information, including a draft letter from me.”

              Which emails are clearly stolen and then forwarded on to Kavanaugh? I don’t see a link.

              Willing to read about this but it’s light on details.

                1. cocomaan

                  Definitely colors my opinion on the guy.

                  Still I haven’t seen any of the emails in question, like Leahy’s draft. Just summaries. Does that exist some place to look at it?

                  And what is with the democrats and getting their IT hacked. They couldn’t keep a damn server secure to save their lives. Not Hillary’s in her bathroom, not this one, not the DNC ones “hacked by Russians”.

                  Kagan always creeped me out and I never wanted her confirmed. I haven’t really seen a SCOTUS justice that I do like so I’m pretty resigned to craptitude about any of the seats.

                  1. marym

                    Sorry, not following this closely enough to know what emails were released at the time or during the hearings.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > Kavanaugh will be very bad news on the SC.

            Since Kavanaugh advanced through the Court system with Democrat votes, exactly as the seven judges Schumer passed so the Senate could go on vacation, it seem churlish to dispute his fitness now. Where were the Democrats when something could actually have been done?

        1. cocomaan

          I think she genuinely believes she was hurt by Kavanaugh. Hence passing the lie detector test. That doesn’t mean it’s true.

          It must be old fashioned to ask for evidence before castigating someone.

        2. pretzelattack

          yeah but then he quotes a bunch of anonymous country club members, not my favorite or most trusted demographic, to the effect she was “boy crazy” etc. i don’t know who to believe, but i don’t care if the kavanaugh nomination is held up while they investigate whatever there is to investigate–i don’t think it does any damage to the country for this gridlock to occur, and i would like to see if anybody else comes forward.

      3. TheBellTolling

        That’s what they did in public. You don’t furnish that reputation and then hold bible study parties.

        Dude is a son of privilege and has never been held accountable in his life. I’m sure he’s done worse than what he’s accused of and will protect the wealthy while on the court.

        1. JBird

          I think he’s probably guilty of some bad stuff and should also not be on the Supreme Court; I also believe in fairness, justice, and the rule of law. Go after someone’s nomination because of their actions, words and even their beliefs only if they are backed with actual solid evidence and only if it is germane to the position. A person’s career and in some ways their life should not be publicly shanked by accusations, innuendo, and rumors without even the weakest facade of fairness just because some don’t like them.

          1. pretzelattack

            it’s a game he’s played before. he will be an awful justice, and i like gridlock. it makes less likely our political overlords will start world war 3 while concentrating on their factional struggles. i dont know who’s life got shanked, maybe it was ford’s. i’m waiting for more evidence. maybe an 8 justice court will be hampered somewhat in rendering bad decisions. it’s a nomination hearing, it is going to get political; i don’t think that threatens the rule of law.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I’m sure he’s done worse than what he’s accused of and will protect the wealthy while on the court.

          As will every other judge on the Federalist Society’s list. The whole thing reminds me of getting rid of Trump and getting Pence.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        People ridicule Christians for believing the earth is, what, 6,000 years old (or whatever the young age). Perhaps they are right, but I find whatever that can be useful (if Trump was right, he was right, and if he was wrong, he was wrong – saying he was right this time but many times he was wrong seems to me to be unnecessarily assigning weights to the statements) based on its own merits.

        Here is something positive about Christians, in this case, a heretical Christian, theologian John Wycliffe (or Wyclif), from prof. Daileader’s lectures on the Late Middle Ages (https://archive.org/stream/LearningCourses/Late%20Middle%20Ages/Late%20Middle%20Ages_djvu.txt):

        A. Wycliffe argued that those in a state of mortal sin were unworthy of
        serving as priests or bishops or holding secular office. In practice,
        Wycliffe robbed this idea of any revolutionary implication by
        maintaining that human beings could never truly know whether a
        secular or ecclesiastical official was in a state of mortal sin; therefore,
        no one had the right to refuse obedience on those grounds.

        Already, hundreds of years ago, a heretical Christian was already positing that to even hold a secular office, one had to be sin-free, or at least not in as state of mortal sin.

        That he did not realize its revolutionary implication was perhaps mitigated by practical considerations.

        Where do you find such men (not women, for those misogynists)?

        Like those Christians, or following those Christians, it is still a question we struggle with today (well, some of us).

        “Those who are not in a state of mortal sin (depending on your definition, I suppose), step forward.”

      5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The lecture after that is on Jan Hus. I have watched that.

        Then comes the one I am waiting to watch eagerly and that will be on Witchcraft and Witch Hunting.

      6. Earl Erland

        There is no fine line between acting asexual and physical restraint of another/attempting to remove another’s clothing. There is a chasm.

    2. prx

      Since the college rape culture apologists seem to think K’s behavior was limited to his time in college, I recommend checking out this piece: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/sep/20/brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court-yale-amy-chua

      And if you think he’s “just an asshole” keep in mind he’s particularly an asshole towards women and will likely preside over the destruction of women’s rights while in office. I think that–along with his mysterious gambling debts and apparent dishonesty during hearings–should disqualify him for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land.

      Lambert, the Serena Rubin Erdely comparison is totally off base; she went out looking for as sensational a story as possible and found no corroborating evidence, while Ford has (weak) corroborating evidence and didn’t go public in as spectacular a fashion as possible.

      1. Yves Smith

        I hate to tell you, this sort of thing is common in America. Several the top Wall Street firms in my day would only hire pretty women and even then of a certain type. First Boston (then one of the top 4) was the most specific, which preferred blondes who were athletic, as in skied or played tennis or both. Similarly, private equity firms regularly hire pretty Asian women for sales support positions, so much that it’s an industry joke.

        It’s even worse on the trading side of some firms. One barely fictionalized personal account (by a former Goldman CDO salesman who also had worked for Merrill and I think Lehman, he had to write it as easily decoded fiction to avoid libel suits in the UK, where he had worked and where the book was published), described how one firm had a secretary with a gorgeous body whose job was to wear tight clothes and high heels and walk around the trading floor a couple of times an hour.

        As demeaning as that is, it isn’t in the same category as attempted rape and you ought to know that.

        1. prx

          I’ve worked at a big bank, I understand how private industry works. This is public office though. The bar should be higher, and anyways my point was not to insinuate that behavior is as bad as rape but to point out that he’s a flawed character and it’s not some kind of “boys-will-be-boys” situation from his younger years

      2. cocomaan

        Hiring attractive interns is normal human behavior. Yves says its part of the industry but I’d argue it’s the nature of things. I don’t know why this would be shocking to anyone.
        Anyone who hasn’t made a hiring decision based on looks is being dishonest. If someone wanting to surround themselves with beautiful people is sexist it cheapens the concept of sexism altogether. If anything, it’s lookism (ala Ted Chiang’s short story).

        Above marym and flora posted actual articles of substance, which I assume you reference about him lying under oath. That’s so far the only substantive piece against him.

        The allegations of sexism and rape and crudeness is asking a lot of your elected officials. Especially when most of the criticism comes from a party that took money from Harvey Weinstein for YEARS.

    3. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      Im sorry to laugh, but this TIT N CLIT and ANAL talk reminds me of my ole college days at LSU. I briefly entertained the idea of Joining a fraternity (never frat). I rushed, bought khakis and polos and boat shoes and new balances, saw the Klan spirit at Kappa Alpha Order, etc. In the end they were all a little pathetic, albeit rich af like Kappa Sig and Delta Kappa Epsilon and Acacia. I always preferred workers.

      These people arent real in any sense.

      They dont contribute.

      They take everything.

      That being said, Kavanaughs appointment to the Supreme Court will only quicken a true populist revolution. And the SCs already Neoliberal ideologically.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      BMOC – Big Man On Campus…I didn’t know that. Glad to learn it.

      Googling BWOC, I got ‘BIll Wayne’s Oil Company’ (Wikipedia).

      In, at the minimum, an all female college, do they have Big Woman On Campus?

    1. Massinissa

      Sorry, but Penny Arcade is a renowned webcomic that was one of the internet’s earliest and most successful webcomics, and has been published continually since 1998, 20 years ago, and has millions of readers. It is the one of the longest continually running webcomics on the internet. Penny Arcade even had its own video game spinoff, among other things. If anything, the performance artist is less well known than the webcomic. Deriding it dismissively as clickbait is unfair.

  5. Plenue

    Hopefully I can save people some time: the Dreher reaction piece is just a long-winded way of saying “even if he did something bad, hasn’t it been long enough to forgive him?”.

    Apart from that, this part really stood out to me, and not in a good way:

    Marla got it far worse than anybody else. She was thin, and came from a social background that made her vulnerable. Her parents were working class religious folks. Nothing wrong with them at all, but they weren’t socially prominent; they were on the margins, and so was she.

    As someone who was raised in a bogstandard American Christian family, the constant whinging from this socially dominant group that they’re somehow a persecuted minority is utterly insufferable. These people are completely delusional.

      1. Mel

        We’re back to the privilege-checking threads. All society gets flattened down to two levels: privilege/no-privilege.

  6. shinola

    Lambert: “…I’m not gonna do a phone conversation with my wrist held up to my mouth.”

    I dunno – I thought Dick Tracy was pretty cool.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I’ve done it a time or two on my Gear S2 when the phone was out of reach, which made it clear it’s not something I’d want to do on a regular basis. They can’t hear me, I can’t hear them. Texting, now, is a different story, although after a few OS updates I now no longer get the notification chime on the watch. Not a big deal as long as the phone’s within earshot.

      I swore I had absolutely no need for a smartwatch, but got a deal on a refurb and now hate to be without it for one major thing—2-step authentication. Being able to read the code without having to juggle the phone is very nice, not to mention when the phone is in another room. Not for those with extremely poor eyesight, but it works for me, and there are days when I get a lot of codes.

      I also get bank alerts and other useful stuff on it, and the simply truth is the watch is a lot easier to tote around than the phone. Samsung also makes it easy to check heart rate and such stuff with both watch and phone. It’s one of those things that, if you have need of it, can be very useful.

  7. Anon

    Re: Kavanaugh, Thomas, & Hill

    Isn’t the chief difference between Thomas/Kavanaugh is that the accusation from Hill had more weight and required the investigation was because they were both federal employees, timing of the allegations notwithstanding?

    1. Yves Smith

      Yes, I didn’t listen to the hearing because I was away that week at a place with no TV, but I caught up on the stories afterwards. My recollection is that Hill described multiple offensive incidents, like Thomas talking about his favorite porn movies and an incident involving pubic hair and a Coke can. It was at least big time hostile work environment. I assume he hit on her in more direct ways, but the parts that stuck were the gross heavily sexualized discussions he liked to have with her.

    2. pretzelattack

      why would hill’s accusation have more weight? to me a sexual assault has more weight, and hill was smeared as being a “little bit nutty” and a “little bit slutty”, the same accusations ford is facing. if the president requests the fbi to investigate, they can investigate, and so can the state of maryland, where the alleged offense supposedly took place.

      1. Yves Smith

        I dont mean to sound like a nay-sayer, but there is nothing to investigate. All you have are extremely stale memories and memory is notoriously unreliable over time. That is one of the reasons that dragging a trial out greatly increases the odds that a plaintiff or prosecutor loses. Even over a timeframe as short as two years, witness memories become sufficiently hazy as to be not specific enough to be helpful, or to be able to be picked enough at by the other side as to render them not convincing.

  8. Michael Fiorillo

    According to The Paper of Record, Russiagate “… cannot be proved or disproved.” Yet, everything else in this collection of articles assumes and/or states that it has been proven.

    This is a fallacy that I constantly encounter among people suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, who will latch on to anything, no matter how self-serving and deluded, in their hopes of getting Trump out. Namely, Russiagate skeptics are under no obligation whatsoever to prove a negative, that Russian influence didn’t happen and/or didn’t affect the election.

    Instead, the Rachel Maddows of the world have an affirmative obligation to prove, with actual evidence, that it did occur. If they can’t do that, then it’s time to let it lay, and educate, organize and mobilize for things (such as policies that help the working class) which will defeat Trumpismo, if indeed that’s really what they want.

  9. Darius

    A country that has suppressed the right to strike no longer is a free country. Thanks Ronald Reagan, and every president and Congress, Democrat and Republican, since him.

    1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Right to strike, lack of:

      Sounds like Soviet spectrum to me. And when you tie that to the widespread conviction that life in other countries cannot be better, bingo! I suppose the difference being the Soviet population didn’t swallow the lie hook, line and sinker with a sanctimonious slurp.


      1. sinbad66

        I suppose the difference being the Soviet population didn’t swallow the lie hook, line and sinker with a sanctimonious slurp.
        Reminds me of this: “I have the greatest admiration for your propaganda. Propaganda in the West is carried out by experts who have had the best training in the world – in the field of advertising – and have mastered the techniques with exceptional proficiency … Yours are subtle and persuasive; ours are crude and obvious … I think that the fundamental difference between our worlds, with respect to propaganda, is quite simple. You tend to believe yours … and we tend to disbelieve ours.”

        – Soviet correspondent based five years in the U.S.

    1. flora

      It worked for me. I may not have used up my “limited free access” to WaPo yet.

      Thanks, Lambert, for posting the Liz Bruenig WP article.

  10. bhamDan

    Lambert: “…I’m not gonna do a phone conversation with my wrist held up to my mouth.”

    Of course not; that would be barbaric. You’ll converse via your $159 bluetooth connected Airpods. cha-ching!

    1. HotFlash

      Call me old fashioned, but I am uncomfortable with the idea of putting anything called “Bluetooth” into my ears.

  11. Jen

    Oh FFS. Just got the following email from our IT department.

    Subject line: The KGB Wants You!


    Be careful what you click, be suspicious when asked for private information, and NEVER provide your login credentials! Here’s why: In 2015, several [college] faculty were victims of phishing email sent by the Russian FSB (formerly known as the KGB). In 2017, Iranian attackers gained the login credentials of several [college] accounts (the Iranian operatives were identified by FBI and charged in federal court in NY). [College] was one of over 100 colleges targeted.

    Fortunately, in both of these cases, the attackers did not penetrate [college] systems.

    The media has been covering Russian government meddling in our elections, as well as cyber attacks by Iran, China, and North Korea. As international tensions continue, and domestic political strife reaches a boiling point approaching the November mid-term elections, the [college] community needs to be alert to phishing attacks. If you’re thinking that no one would be interested in your information, think again. Regardless of your role at [college], access to your account has a lot of value to attackers, even if only as an opening to other [college] users/systems or other colleges, and the federal government.

    Phishing is a low-tech attack. During the 2016 presidential election the “hacking” of DNC email of Clinton campaign chair John Podesta was nothing more than a simple phishing email which tricked Mr. Podesta into providing his email username and password. That low-tech attack provided thousands of confidential email messages to the Russian attackers. Our email system is bombarded daily by thousands of spam messages, including phishing email.
    Fortunately, Microsoft Advance Threat Protection catches most, but some do get through.

    Be alert! When in doubt, or if you believe you may have clicked on something malicious or fraudulent, contact us for help.

    Just another fabulous day at Neoliberal U.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Phishing, schmishing. I just deleted one of those emails yesterday. Someone I’ve never heard of was sending me an invoice for August work. The giveaway: The return email address wasn’t anything close to what was included in the email body.

      That message died a quick death beneath my delete key.

      As for the KGB, it no longer exists. Just like the Soviet Union.

      1. Jen

        The irony is that our IT dept has done such an excellent job of instilling paranoia about phishing attacks without blaming the russians, that 2 years ago when our office of institutional research sent out a survey using an external service, they got almost no responses because everyone thought it was a scam.

      2. Yves Smith

        You cannot imagine how much spam I get. New creative variants of the Nigerian scam (Jamie Dimon, Janet Yellen, the Treasury Department, the IRS and other luminaries have offered me $), tons of bogus invoices or requests for quotations, DHL or Fedex packages of value supposedly held up: huge Amazon or Best Buy or other charges where they want you to panic and click through to contest them; PayPay, bank, and e-mail account closure notices….and recently, I got on some list that has resulted in my getting tons of porn gifs. But no Russians :-)

    2. The Rev Kev

      And don’t forget. Don’t hide your money under your bed – that’s where the commies are hiding!

    3. petal

      Oh my god, Jen, thank you for posting this!! I was going to send it to Lambert when I got home tonight! Glad I checked comments before sending it. Couldn’t believe it when it rolled in!

  12. James

    If they were smart they’d market these jobs as a Fitness / Weight Loss Club of some sort and then discount the wages even further. Follow that up with Amazon sponsored televised warehouse fitness events, a la Crossfit and the like. And since Bezos is evidently quite the workout warrior himself, it would be only natural that he take part as well, possibly in the role of Chief Tormentor, or similar. Opportunities, opportunities!

    1. Arizona Slim

      Last month, I met a fellow who worked day labor for a while. As he recalled the experience, he said he was getting paid to exercise.

  13. Hameloose Cannon

    One cannot fail to confirm nominee Kavanaugh based on a holding of unjust beliefs when he holds no beliefs at all. Just ritual and dark superstition. Just try and vanquish a vampire whose weary corporeal form is woven from turkey gristle, an unloved and immortal feeder judge, doting over the mummified Ancien Regime remains displayed in the judicial ossuary. Try necromancy. Nope? Forces of domination needn’t justify themselves with candor, the desire for control is self-evident truth, and thus, any old platitude can rationalize ascendance. And man-o-man, can June-bug sneer or can June-bug sneer? So, if Kavanaugh belonged to a suburban Cult of Hecate, so what?

  14. BoyDownTheLane

    Christine Blasey Ford’s yearbooks are not relevant to her accusation of high school behavior? Do you routinely threw out information because of one source (among many others cited)? None of the relationaships of others surrounding her to political fund-raising, intelligence agencies and their actions, etc. are irrelvant? When the behavior of females in that school system is openly addmitted to be of a nature of sexual predation?

  15. FreeMarketApologist

    The legislation limits home kitchens to $50,000 in sales a year, and 60 individual meals a week.

    vs. “the presence of a Silicon Valley middleperson, whose business model necessarily depends on scale,”

    I don’t know how you make a living wage on $50k/yr sales, let alone after middle-man fees, training, and insurance. Why not a sales ceiling that has a hope of providing a living wage for a small family? Without a more practical ceiling, doesn’t this just reinforce the gig economy?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      In a two income house hold, that might be reasonable depending on the amount of time. One issue would be regularity of the service. If Kitchen X is out one week, the other Kitchens would possibly be able to pick up the slack, but if you aren’t reliable, its back to McDonalds.

      I think about old style rooming houses. They had multiple services including food. I’ve thought people in urban areas could be better served if a coordinated commissary could be established instead of 300 families having different kitchens and so forth. The biggest problem is the fatties are getting thirds and peanut allergies. If you could get the right people to run it, I think it could work. Its just the “employee/partners” have to recognize what they want from it and whether its worth their time.

      Keeping it at manageable levels might work. The other problem would be matching clients and cooks. With the right platform, it might work. Relative anonymity would be preferable. I don’t want give my neighbors food poisoning.

      You mention the gig economy. One problem with the gig economy is the regularity of meals and the prep time. Could this be an alternative to McDonalds?

    1. Duck1

      But this is agriculture, you know farms. Rainbows and skittles. So little control on the externalities, commonly known as pollution.

  16. Kurtismayfield

    John Hancock stops Traditional life insurance, only interactive life insurance from now on

    So instead of the government forcing you to be healthy, capitalism will!

    John Hancock, one of the oldest and largest North American life insurers, will stop underwriting traditional life insurance and instead sell only interactive policies that track fitness and health data through wearable devices and smartphones, the company said on Wednesday.

    Wonderful.. be tracked or no life insurance. I am sure everything is secure, and they will never use your data against you in other ways. The sci fine novels I read in my youth were really written by prophets, and my corporate dystopia is reaching Gibsonian levels.

    1. False Solace

      They’re selecting for rich people who can afford expensive smart devices and keep them on constantly. Rich people live longer than poors, so it works.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Life insurance companies, theoretically*, are incentivized to be open to the idea of Medicare for All, so that people can live healthier, and likely longer and they don’t have to pay out as early.

      *Theoretically. I can’t say I know much about that arcane industry.

  17. Jason Boxman

    That WorkMarket thing reminds me of the Trump approach to paying contractors: Don’t pay all that’s owed and if that’s a problem, the contractor is free to sue and get tied up in court forever.

    1. Arizona Slim

      That very thing happened to the company that employs one of my friends. Said company was stiffed to the tune of $60,000.

    2. False Solace

      I work in the legal industry. The biggest firms are the worst at it. You can either take it late or they’ll take their business elsewhere, and they constantly try to stiff you 10-15% as if you wouldn’t notice. Then there’s the incessant demand for discounts for situations they themselves created.

      1. audrey jr

        Thanks for that, False Solace.
        Although I am a certificated paralegal I have never practiced and never will.
        My best pal was once a freelance paralegal.
        She could never get the attorney’s to pay her for her finished work product.
        FWIW, the worst “professionals,” as regards accounts payable, are doctors and attorneys.
        My best friend now works as a paralegal for an HOA.
        You guys don’t even wanna know some of the horror stories involved with working for those guys.
        But at least she gets paid.

    1. DonCoyote

      Donna Shalala is not a good candidate (too much baggage), so I am skeptical that her struggling spells the death knell of the “blue wave”. I heard or read someone recently say that every race in 2018 is a referendum on Trump, and I disagree strongly. Candidates matter, and in non national election years they matter even more.

      Of course, I have been and am skeptical of the “blue wave”, too. The Democrats have mostly ignored the lessons of 2016. But I don’t think Donna Shalala’s results are indicative of “the size of the surge”.

      1. DonCoyote

        Listening to Thomas Frank now (Rendevous With Oblivion) and he is waxing lyrical on 2016 and the lessons not learned:

        They don’t know what to make of Trump and his supporters, so violently does Trumpism transgress the professional norms to which they’re accustomed. It is distasteful to them that they should be required to learn anything from a clown like the current president, that they should have to change in any way to accommodate his preposterous views. And so they cast about for leaders who would allow them to prevail without doing anything differently: a celebrity who might communicate better, a politician who might turn out the base more effectively. They devour articles about Trump voters who have had a change of heart , who now beg forgiveness for their sins. They scold liberals they regard as insufficiently enthusiastic about the Democratic party. Above all, they dream of a deus ex machina, a super-prosecutor who brings down justice like fire and reverses the unfortunate results of 2016 without anyone having to change their talking points in the slightest. The price of going down this path is that it encourages passivity and delusions of righteousness.

          1. MichaelSF

            I have to take it in short bursts. Otherwise, it’s just too depressing.

            That’s the way I’m having to read Zinn’s “People’s History”.

          2. DonCoyote

            Finished “Rendevous With Oblivion” and moved on to “America: The Farewell Tour” (Chris Hedges). The biggest difference so far: the person reading. Thomas Frank read his own book (and he knows how to speak as well as write), whereas Chris Hedges’ book is read by Fred Sanders, who I would have to describe (so far) as soporific (or maybe it’s because I’m listening while working, but that is the same for both books).

            Frank picked Marceline, Missouri (late in the book) as a case study in the hollowing out of American towns. Hedges starts Chapter One with Scranton, Pennsylvania. Frank is more about the people; Hedges more about the “nuts and bolts”. A difference in style, but both are very good.

  18. clarky90

    Re “Our Democrats”

    Between 1939 and 1991, the three Baltic State (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia) transitioned from (1) independent States, to (2) occupied by the USSR, to (3) occupied by Nazi Germany, to (4) occupied again by the USSR to, finally,(5) independent states. The ensuing death and destruction is unimaginable.

    These successive occupations are rarely mentioned (why the silence?).

    Speaking of the USA Democratic Party, I see them using many of the tactics used initially by the USSR in 1939-1940.

    The Three Occupations of Latvia 1940–1991



    “Already on 27 September 1939, Stalin informed Ribbentrop about his plans
    in Estonia and Latvia, in accord with the agreement of 23 August, to begin a
    “slow penetration.””…..

    “…..Creating a “Revolutionary Situation.” Along with the Soviet Red
    Army, thousands of communist provocateurs arrived in Latvia from the USSR.
    They organised demonstrations to demand that Ulmanis be removed as
    President and that the Constitution, which he had suspended, be reinstated.

    ….Mass rallies were carefully planned and strictly supervised. The occupation power organised militia units of armed trustworthy citizens, who partly took over police functions. …..

    Under the guise of restoring democracy and seemingly responding to “people’s demands,” the occupation power announced elections of the Saeima (parliament),…

    …The list of candidates of the Latvian Working People’s Block, approved by the
    occupation power, was declared as the only one “conforming to all requirements
    of the law.” Efforts to present alternate lists were suppressed and their
    leaders jailed. The election of the Saeima took place on 14 and 15 July, under
    strict control of the occupation authorities and the Red Army. Moscow
    announced that 97.6% had voted for the only possible list….”

    1. clarky90

      Hi Duck1

      It is history.

      All people are presented with a “narrative” (The story of “you”) at birth, by their parents; then their community and finally, the society that they are born into. Facts, or interpretations of those facts, become invisible or even “damned! lies” if they do not fit into the particular “story line”. Much fury and gnashing of teeth, ensues. Millions of people literally die (or waste their lives) defending some crap construct of existence.

      I have spent my life trying to figure out a truthful story of my life. Mostly the story of my family. 1939 til 1941 is an example of missing information. The unsaid. That which is never spoken of? why?

      I would be surprised if your greater family was not devastated, one way or another, by the events of those three years.

      My present concern is for the Junior Woodchuck Revolutionaries, who are agitating to overthrow the USAian Government. What can they be thinking?

      Latvia lost one third of it’s population (Left, Right and inbetween) during the three occupations.

      The USSR murdered most of the conservative leadership. (PTA presidents, civic leaders, sports coaches, mayors, fire chiefs…..Anybody who was respected by the community.)

      Class based “liquidation”

      The Nazis, in turn, murdered the leftists, communists, socialists, Jews, gypsies…..anybody who had assisted the previous regime.

      Race based “liquidation”

      Can you imagine how impossibly difficult it would be, to be both the correct “Class” (1940-1941, 1944-1991) and the correct “race” (1941-1944) and thus, possibly survive?

      A revolution is not an action movie that can be watched on the Black Mirror while eating popcorn.

      1. pretzelattack

        the u.s. has killed its fair share. our present government seems on course to risk killing more than any regime in history by starting world war 3, not to mention the small matter of doing f all
        to address climate change, which will possibly kill even more. that’s not an action movie, either.

    2. makedoanmend

      I’m lead to believe that history started before 7 November 1917 and that previously many innocent people were somehow killed in wars; died of starvation because of government policies; were denied fundamental rights by domestic governments; persecuted for their beliefs; and (and I need to verify this) that Imperialism resulting in undemocratic control of foreign societies, resources and economies occurred that resulted in misery on massive scales.

      I don’t want to conflate the emergence of communism with fascism as they are two different responses to some shared historical phenomena, but I do note that the foreign power that still has military bases in Europe is neither of Russian nor German origin. Come to think of it, I don’t ever remember having a formal and democratic vote on whether or not we want a foreign country to continuously have a military presence and influence that affect domestic issues.

      Funny old thing history. Time is linear. History is not.

  19. paulmeli

    “an effort so massive there’s a plausible case it’s made for the excellent GDP numbers we’ve been seeing”

    Maybe not that plausible.

    We’ve had one quarter of 4.2% annualized GDP growth (year-on-year) under Trump so far, which is yet to be revised (maybe down) and the trend number is still looking like 2.5% growth which is what we’ve had for years. It’s the trend that we should focus on not the ticks.

    Obama had 4 quarters with higher readings, Q4 2009 (4.5%), Q4 2011(4.7%), Q2 2014 (5.1%), and Q3 2014 (4.9%) after final revisions. The economy still sucked then.

    The folks that report these numbers surely must believe that expectations drive an economy as opposed to actual spending. It’s pretty hard to spend what you don’t have.

    Total Debt (ASTDSL) has increased $2.4T since Trump was elected so it looks like whatever expansion we’ve had has been debt-fueled. What could go wrong?

  20. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    re: Tariffs: It’d just be a cryin’ shame if we couldn’t load up on cheap plastic crap from China anymore. Here in Portland OR, homeless people push aroun little stolen prams and shopping carts full of cast of plastic – stuff. I keep asking people if our civilization is any better.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A small ray of hope (hopefully this is not some Star Wars stuff):

      1. Beijing refuses to take in our plastic waste
      2. (and this is new): They are not shipping us, or we are not loading up on cheap plastic crap from them.

      The cycle is eliminated – no shipping out, no shipping in.

    2. paddlingwithoutboats

      I wonder why you say “stolen prams”. When I still lived in the US, there was so much consumer surplus crap that prams were left on lawns, in parking lots, parks, road sides, malls (even the ones still respirating).

      The programming seeps deep inside, yes?

  21. Hameloose Cannon

    In re the matter of “Plot or not?”, aka “Hail Hydra”, the issue is: Did Trump conspire with foreign nationals to defraud the US people of a fair election by way of coordinating criminal actions [computer intrusion, exfiltration of his political opponents’ campaign strategy, and dissemination of this information] and then try to prevent these actions from being discovered? Can the investigation be both phony and, yet, continue to reveal new transactions between campaign personnel and foreign nationals? Gee, I don’t know. Who else doesn’t know? Trump’s legal counsel. This is a problem. Rational exculpatory explanations exist, but the President has yet to formulate one. Trump doesn’t truly know if he conspired because he is incapable of self-reflection, his actions are high frequency transactions of impetuousness, and the willful ignorance of a malignant persona is a rally cry, but not a defense. The answer to “Plot or not?” is without consequence because, at this moment, the President is unable to uphold the Rule of Law and will never achieve anything beyond being a dark footnote in American history.

  22. ewmayer

    Re. “The Kavanaugh Charade” [Charles Blow, New York Times]. “If Trump was truly interested in finding out the truth of these allegations, he could have ordered the Federal Bureau of Investigation to look into their veracity as soon as he heard about them. That is precisely what George H.W. Bush did when he learned of Anita Hill’s accusation against Clarence Thomas in 1991.” — LOL, yes, maybe Bob Mueller can pull some agents off the RussiaRussiaRussia Red Scare Team and retask them to a high-powered investigation of these conflicting 30-plus-year-old he-said/she-said ‘memories’ of a drunken High School party. Or maybe agents Mulder and Scully, erm, I mean Strzok and Page, would be be willing to lend their time and expertise?

    1. Wukchumni

      For score and about 37 years ago, an allegation brought forth, on this continent, a new notion, conceived in perceived lack of liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all me-too incidents are created equal.

    2. fresno dan

      September 20, 2018 at 6:04 pm

      Astounding! Its like….he doesn’t know that the FBI investigation did nothing for Anita Hill???

  23. todde

    WaPo goes from “Democracy Dies In Darkness” to “Trump’s release of documents an abuse of power”.

    Hard to reconcile those two statements.

    1. fresno dan

      September 20, 2018 at 6:18 pm

      Only absolute naked arguments that advance a particular agenda happen now a days. No principle, no honor, no adherence to a code of openness and public accountability, no more “sunlight is the best disinfectant.”
      I have in my Netflix queue The Post – a film about publishing the Pentagon papers, back in the days when the Washington Post wanted to reveal what was going on in the deep recesses of the government at some risk to itself. Now it wants the secret workings of the “slam dunk” CIA and intelligent services to remain devoid of scrutiny. Other than keeping this secret because it could expose that Trump is correct about the establishment being after him, what possible reason would there be for a newspaper arguing that the public should know less?
      History repeats itself as farce.

      1. flora

        From a Pilger article in Consortium News:

        “So much of the mainstream has descended to this level. Subjectivism is all; slogans and outrage are proof enough. What matters is the “perception.”

        When he was U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus declared what he called “a war of perception… conducted continuously using the news media.” What really mattered was not the facts but the way the story played in the United States. The undeclared enemy was, as always, an informed and critical public at home.”


        1. John Wright

          Has it not always been this way?

          “Remember the Maine” –> Spanish-American war

          Gulf of Tonkin resolution –> Vietnam escalation

          Saddam has weapons of mass destruction (just like China, Russia, North Korea, India, Israel, Pakistan) that must be removed with force.–> Iraq war.

          There was NO golden age of USA journalism, the media’s method has been to “support what the powerful want to do, and if it doesn’t work out, have a retrospective on how our newspaper got it wrong”.(maybe orchestrated by the NYTimes Bill Keller).

          Maybe the “Darkness” mentioned in the WAPO’s “Democracy dies in darkess” slogan IS the Washington Post.itself.

      1. Eureka Springs

        WAPO, along with so many others, is perpetuating the illusion the we ever had democracy. What better way to keep us divided than maintaining false arguments, false battles?

  24. Roland

    Re: labour shortages

    In central British Columbia this summer, I did see signs of actual labour demand exceeding labour supply.

    Canadian National Railways has spent over a year trying to hire enough train conductors. They even offered me a position, when I tossed in an application, as a lark. n.b. I’m a middle-aged man with a BA, lacking any sort of experience in the transportation sector. I am talking about a unionized job that starts at about $60 K USD, and goes up to about $90 K USD in a good year. It also offers full benefits, a DB pension (!), and possible advancement. The employer provides all training, and pays you a salary while you get trained.

    I turned down the offer because at my stage in life, and with no dependents, I just didn’t want to do that much work and make that much money. But if they had offered me less work for less money, I might well have changed careers.

    In one town in central BC, there was an advertisement in the local paper (among many other ordinary Help Wanteds) that caught my eye. A firm was seeking, “anyone interested in a career in commercial refrigeration.” Employer was willing to provide all training, paid, with trade certification to follow.

    In British Columbia nowadays I hear ads on radio looking for workers, there are billboards on the roadside looking for workers, and there are liveried commercial trucks going around with ads for workers. Even sales receipts at the drugstore and supermarket have footers asking for job applicants.

    In central BC there are stores and restaurants cutting their opening hours because they can’t find enough staff.

    I am not making this stuff up. This situation, which marks quite a change from the labour market experience of the past generation, is not the result of a sudden boom. It started at the bottom end of the labour market and has worked its way up, now to the point where employers feel a need to advertise to fill good positions.

    Indeed, part of the weirdness of this labour market is explained by the ongoing distortion of housing prices. We have a scenario in which many retail businesses can’t make enough money to pay the workers enough so that they can afford a place to live. And people’s income is so eaten up by the housing monster that they support local businesses. i.e. as usual, we can blame finance capital for causing market failure.

    1. RMO

      When they offer higher pay AND to provide and/or pay for training that’s when you can be fairly sure there really IS a shortage of workers. Especially if they’re also willing to take on people older than 30 without a background in a related field.

      The one real drawback I’ve heard about with the railroad job from people who have been conductors is that the hours are hellishly long and irregular and it’s very hard to get any time off for the first decade or so of your career.

    1. UserFriendly

      My ‘Question’ to NYT reporters:

      The only evidence in the public domain is what Reality Winner leaked, and that document states that Russian attribution is the judgment of an analyst. Absolutely everything else is just assertions from the EXACT same people who told us about Iraq’s WMD. So no, I will not take anyone’s guarantees when it comes to provoking a possible nuclear holocaust. The degree to which the media has overblown this is unforgivable.

      Even if it were true there is absolutely no sense of proportion; the list of countries where we haven’t toppled governments to install right wing dictators or drug loards who savagely murder their citizens is much shorter than the list of countries we have. And that doesn’t even get to every day vote rigging.

      The press overreaction is just you digging your own grave. The whole effort coming unanimously from the newspapers that unanimously endorsed Clinton comes across as you trying to make excuses for why she lost and to delegitimize the first president in decades that noticed both parties have treated most of this country like crap to the point that more people killed themselves on opiates last year than died in WWII; a problem that gets minimal coverage and absolutely no digging into the economic failures that cause it. But I suppose it would be too much to have newspapers that covered things that are actually important to the lives of the rest of the country. The amount of oxygen you have given this has turned practically every democratic centrist into a jingoistic moron calling for war with Russia and claiming that anyone that disagrees with them on anything is a Russian bot.

      This country is downright evil the way it treats its own citizens, graciously enabled by the courtesans in the press who refuse to point out which politicians are owned by which donors and detailing when that relationship comes before the one with their constituents. You have long since given up any credibility to be a check on power, trading it in for access to the ‘important’ people and this country is much the worse because of it. The slow decay of political reporting into US Weekly is the inevitable result of for profit news and the never-ending push towards more neoliberalism.

  25. drugstoreblonde

    RE: Atlantic Expat Article

    I’ll admit in advance that I’m a bit of an oddity. I grew up in SLC, UT in a Mormon family, left the Church (and to some extent, my family) in my teens, later after University tried (and failed) to make a life in NYC and then San Francisco, and have for the last 5 years lived (quite happily) in Berlin.

    Although the article’s connective tissue was essentially a series of clichés, there were some (perhaps accidental) observations about the cost of living / quality of life available in the coastal cities we as Americans hold in such high esteem relative to certain EU countries that were somewhat germane.

    My own experiences of visiting SLC could be added to the author’s with regards to the expense. To wit: SLC, a provincial city by all means, is far more expensive than Berlin! In comparison to SF or NYC, it’s practically South America. And the notion of how we (mis)appropriate time for socialization and leisure is all-too-apparent to me each time I visit the States or encounter American visitors.

    Here in Berlin, I am accustomed to meeting up with friends and spending a minimum of six hours (almost a minimum) over the course of a park, a restaurant, a café, a bar, or some combination of the above. But, just like the author of the, in my opinion, fairly banal Atlantic article (is there any other kind?), I’m having a hard time communicating what exactly that means.

    To be honest, I feel like I work just as hard–if not harder–in Germany as I did in the US. I simply think that here my earnings, free time, sick leave, insurance, etc, provide me substantially more. I am, in effect, a wealthier person here, despite earning, when factoring in FX, quite a bit less than I did at my high point in the States.

    Meeting times, dining times, etc might be cultural, but what seems conspicuously absent from the article is the role of the political. I have no idea what an SLC (let alone an entire US) would look like with a similar quality of life that I have, but I imagine that evenings among friends would also be drawn out, lunches, too, would linger, and a sense of humanity would return to the place in some shape or form.

    At any rate, apologies for the rambling.

    1. fresno dan

      September 20, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      don’t apologize – wonderful comment.
      To paraphrase Galbraith (talking about the US): Private wealth, social squalor

    2. HotFlash

      My dear Fraulein ‘Blonde, thanks so much for this. Stats are one thing, but you have conveyed a sense of the *quality of life* that Americans, and too many Canadians, as well, are missing.

      I have friends now living in Berlin, manhy of them musicians, and hear similar from them about that quality — I would call it ‘civilized’.

  26. audrey jr

    Good for you, drugstoreblonde.
    If I were a younger woman I would move away from the good ol’ USofA in a heartbeat.
    I spent a bit of time in Europe; mostly Netherlands, UK and Belgium (before the EU.)
    I found the work/social life balance I observed there far superior to the dredging work lives of USian’s.
    Stay in Germany, if you are able, and never look back.

  27. Larry Goldsmith

    Re: “American Weirdness: Observations From an Expat”

    Why are some people called “expats” and others “immigrants”? I’m originally from the U.S. I don’t live in Paris but in Mexico City. I don’t consider myself an “expat.” I’ve been here for eleven years and make a modest middle-class living as an adjunct professor and freelance editor and translator. As it happens, I’ve just returned from a trip to Walmart to buy toothpaste.

    We have just as many types of toothpaste (and junk food) in Mexico as anywhere in the U.S., because nearly all of our supermarkets have been replaced or bought by Walmart, and nearly all of our drugstores are now large national chains (though this sector remains entirely Mexican). We do still have a lot of small family businesses, many in the informal economy, conducted in the street–if my aging teeth didn’t require a fancy specialized toothpaste, I could buy that in the street. But new multinational chains and malls are showing up everywhere–it is astonishing how many malls have been built in Mexico City in the past ten years. There is also an interesting phenomenon where decidedly lowbrow brands from the U.S. are being reinvented here as upscale, cosmopolitan, and expensive–the Olive Garden, believe it not, is one of these.

    The biggest difference I notice when I visit the U.S. is that people there talk very loud, project an enormous sense of confidence and entitlement, and take up a lot of space (and I’m not referring just to physical space). Also, the portions served in restaurants are colossal–and even though people eat a lot, much of it goes to waste.

    The thing I notice most when I return from the U.S. is that people in Mexico spend a lot of time with their children (many parents take them to and from school), have real conversations with them, rarely use strollers, and show a lot more spontaneous mutual affection than you see in the U.S. The other thing I notice is that working-class people here work incredibly hard, with very long hours, for very little money, and somehow manage to maintain their humanity and good humor. The people who pick up the garbage, the people who sell things in the street for twelve hours at a stretch seem to have neither the (understandable) resentment and rage that often gets taken out on customers in the U.S. (the notable exception here being government clerks), nor the scripted corporate courtesy that is imposed to cover it up (the notable exception in this case being customer service workers in banks–which are mostly foreign mega-banks).

    This probably isn’t much more interesting or insightful than the article. But the reaction I had to it is that it’s not only about culture, it’s also about class, about economic position in the world economy, and about whether you’re an “expat” or an “immigrant.”

  28. dcrane

    Re: Dems hoping to make the November election about the Supreme Court, by somehow derailing this nomination:

    Far as I’m concerned, the Republicans deserve to be borked straight to family blog for stealing Obama’s last court seat. But the Dems should be careful what they wish for. Their core voters are already motivated to come out in November. Do we really want to make all of the religious right abortion voters get off their bums and vote too?

  29. Chris

    Some anec-data from Ohio regarding a few topics that have been covered on the blog and comments over the past few days: rental prices, debtor’s revolt, and real estate crashing (again). I wonder if anyone else here is seeing similar things.

    On the rental price front, we have a rental property in NE Ohio we are in the process of selling. 2500 sf, 1.5 bath, 4 bedrooms, all appliances provided (washer, dryer, oven, microwave, dishwasher, deep freezer, fridge), central air, fireplace, hardwood floors, fenced in backyard, single family house, pets allowed – $1300 per month. We cover all repairs, yard maintenance, and give a discount on utilities. Better to help with keeping the heat on than paying for replacing burst pipes in the winter. It’s an old house that has needed a lot of care over the last several years. We bought it in hopes of restoring the built-ins and depression era wood work to their full glory, but, life intervened and we had to move soon after buying it. There’s a local property manager we pay to provide 24/7 coverage. We’ve rented the place for the past 3 years. We haven’t increased rates in the last 3 years. We lose money on it every month, but a tenant helps keep the costs down to being not too painful.

    Which brings me to the debtor’s revolt. Our current tenant is giving us huge problems. The rent is too high for her. And that’s our fault I guess. The property manager told us they thought she’d be a good tenant even though she couldn’t pass the typical credit checks and we went with our manager’s gut instead of data. We signed the lease so it’s our responsibility. She’s now decided that she doesn’t have to pay rent. Because we need her cooperation to sell the place, and the time frame for eviction would exceed when we want to close on the sale, we’re sending her polite letters and waiting for her to vacate. We will get the security deposit, which should help with the damage she did to the house. And then I guess we’ll have to send her account to collections. She’s told us she can’t afford to pay rent, make deposits for the next place, and help pay for a family wedding. I remember us being a poor young family making nothing in deep SW Virginia and we never would have told our landlord that we wouldn’t pay rent. The tenant hasn’t said that she couldn’t or can’t pay rent. She just won’t. I guess this tenant learned from our elite citizens and is cramming her frustrations down our throats. Oh well.

    We overpaid for the place initially. We were coming from a much more expensive real estate market and the price our agent told us seemed fine. But it was about 30k$ more than we should have paid. Over several years, lots of work on the house, and the market “healing” aka all the foreclosures from 2007 – 2011 were finally bought up by the end of 2016, we can sell the place and pretty much break even on the mortgage. Houses aren’t moving quickly in the area around our rental, so we were happy to get a good offer we could accept and get rid of the place. We are realizing a loss of money from the sale. Most of the land lords we know in the area are also losing money on their rentals and when they go to sale. If we wanted to spend another 20k$ to redo the kitchen, we could probably sell it for more…but why throw good money after bad, right? We were able to rent it because no one around us could get a mortgage but they still needed a place to live. I had attributed this terrible situation to Ohio. Not the best state to live in without the hard times in flyover land. Since 2007 it’s been real hard in most of the state. I would have kept thinking it’s just Ohio – be glad you left! – but I’ve heard people start saying the same things in Virginia. In Maryland. In New Jersey. Landlords having issues. People can’t sell their house for what they need or want. The buyers can’t afford it anymore. The renters can’t either. It feels like a crash is coming soon. It wouldn’t surprise me if things start to fall apart right after Christmas 2018. I’m glad we’re selling now.

  30. relstprof

    Really quite entertaining to see all the Trumpsters go all-in for the LITERAL Georgetown Elite! Especially of the full-blown-reactionary variety.

    Kavanaugh wouldn’t cross the street to shake these people’s hands. But the Trumpsters show the slowness of their minds. They’d rather support the man who would cement a Roberts Court hell-bent on destroying the rights of labor for corporate control than let the Dems ‘win’.

    Class warfare? A lot of people are taking note…..A lot of people who will outlive them.

  31. dk

    But when Christian conservatives (so-called) started their long march to power, I’m sure their numbers were similarly small, and they too began at the local level.

    Starting around the Reagan campaign, those so-called CC’s also recruited from among sitting representatives and appointed officials. Numerically this would probably be a lot tougher for the DSA, what with socialism being a swear word for generations. On the other hand the rates for allegiance (re)alignment, target identification, and political impact, are much faster now than in the 1980’s.

  32. Alex V

    The opening of the expat article resonated with me. I’ve lived in Sweden for 10 years after most of my life in the US. Supermarkets here are easier on the soul, as you don’t have to pay near as much of a tax in time on endless choices for consumer goods as in the US. The overwhelming selection is primarily designed to obscure the fact that most of what is on offer is s**t.

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