2:00PM Water Cooler 9/21/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Canada on Thursday night without a NAFTA 2.0 breakthrough to announce as negotiators from the U.S. and Canada remain under pressure to reach a deal this month” [Politico]. “Freeland opted not to use the word ‘progress’ when discussing the status of the negotiations on Thursday afternoon. Asked why she has not used the word recently, she said: “I chose my words carefully. Today we discussed some tough issues. The conversation was constructive.’… U.S. access to Canadian dairy markets, Canada’s push to preserve the dispute settlement mechanism housed in Chapter 19 of the existing deal and U.S. efforts to reduce Canadian access to the U.S. government procurement market are still among the outstanding issues in the U.S.-Canada talks.”



UPDATE “Booker: It would be ‘irresponsible’ not to consider running for president” [The Hill]. “‘Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand] said to me, ‘If you want to talk about love and kindness and decency, talk about those things, because it’s where you are,” Booker said. ‘I feel like if I start poll-testing or shaping myself, where we start operating out of fear, I think that’s going to dim my light and my impact.'” • As a con artist, I don’t think Booker could carry Obama’s jock strap.

UPDATE “Bernie Sanders has received donations from more Amazon workers than Barack Obama over the past 14 years” [Business Insider]. But the headline is deceptive: “GovPredict found that 275 Amazon workers have provided funding for Sanders since 2004. Hillary Clinton is the only politician to have received more backing from Amazon staff, with 310 employees contributing to her cause. Barack Obama had support from 171 Amazon employees.”


45 days until Election Day. 45 days is a long time in politics.

“How Many Women Does the GOP Want to Lose?” [RealClearPolitics]. “A new political realignment caused by the flight of white, college-educated women from the GOP has loomed since President Trump was elected. And it became an electoral threat to Republicans well before anyone learned Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s name…. Recent polling confirms growing trends since last year showing large majorities of these women believe Trump doesn’t respect women as he does men, and they are embarrassed by his behavior… [Steve Bannon, the] president’s former chief strategist said that ‘the Republican college-educated woman is done. They’re gone. They were going to anyway at some point in time. Trump triggers them.'”

UPDATE “Ford’s attorneys, after being listed on fundraiser for Democrat, pull out of event” [CNN]. “Democratic Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s campaign listed Brett Kavanaugh accuser’s attorneys as headliners at a Washington fundraiser slated to take place next month, according to a copy of the invite obtained by CNN…. After CNN contacted the Baldwin campaign and the attorneys, Katz called CNN to say that the event was being canceled. The invite was sent Thursday morning, but a campaign spokesman called it an ‘old invite’ scheduled before Ford’s accusation became public.” * Of course, of course. Now, where’s the intern we can fire?

“The Ocasio-Cortez vs. Cynthia Nixon Paradox: Can Democrats Overcome Their Political Schizophrenia by November?” [Vanity Fair]. “What do Americans really want or care about? We seem to have barely a clue… The easy answer is that everything is local, as Nancy Pelosi has argued, and there’s truth to that…. All of this guarantees that the 2020 race will be an amazing spectacle, as each candidate tests out a different formula for the age.” And:

Is there anything Americans can still agree on across political lines, something that looks roughly the same to everyone? There have been a few surprising—or at least unexpected—moments that have been gratifying. We are apparently united in believing the following: 1) That the killing of Botham Jean, a young man shot in his own apartment by a Dallas cop who mistook him for an intruder, was a criminal act, made even more outrageous by subsequent leaks of irrelevant information about the victim possessing marijuana. 2) That Geoffrey Owens, formerly of The Cosby Show, should not have been shamed—if anything should have been applauded—for working at Trader Joe’s.

Well, that cops shouldn’t whack people randomly, and working people shouldn’t be shamed is a principled baseline a lot higher than either party is setting, yes?

FL-27: “Polls suggest a tough race for Donna Shalala for Miami congressional seat” [Miami Herald]. “[The Cook Report’s Dave Wasserman] cited a bad candidate match up, noting that Shalala, 77, would be the second-oldest House freshman in history and is seeking to represent an overwhelmingly Hispanic district, despite not speaking Spanish. Her Republican opponent, Maria Elvira Salazar, 56, is a well-known former Spanish language television reporter who has ‘been savvy in attracting free media.’ The downgrade follows two recent polls that suggested Shalala would have a tougher time than expected flipping the seat.” • Shalala bigfooted the primary and drove all the other candidates away; “her turn,” I suppose. And here we are!

TX: “The Trailer: How Texas Republicans beat the blue wave” [WaPo]. “In the final ballot test ahead of the midterm elections, there was no “blue wave” in sight — in other words, the outcome that [Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Tex.)] are hoping for in November. After a short campaign, Republican businessman Pete Flores defeated former Democratic congressman Pete Gallego in Texas’s 19th state senate district, which stretches from San Antonio to Big Bend National Park. Flores won by nearly 6 points — a major reversal of fortune for Democrats. Democrats, who have been sounding alarms all year about the difficulty of turning out Latino voters, felt their stomachs sink — especially because their candidate seemed to take the election for granted, failing to call in reinforcements.” • As I keep saying, it’s not a question of whether Democrats can catch a blue wave; it’s whether these Democrats can. The Flores seat “had voted reliably Democratic since the 19th century.” Oopsie.

“What Ohio’s ‘Deplorables’ Really Want” [The American Conservative]. “[F]or that blue wave to reach shore, a bunch of Republicans need to vote Democrat and the New Democratic Base, young people and a list of minorities longer than a CVS receipt, must vote in numbers never before seen. The second part of that plan has its own questions. But my recent travels make it pretty clear that depending on Republicans to vote Democrat because they no longer support Trump is out to sea. The idea today is that Trump’s boorishness will send them back to Democratic candidates. Or maybe not. The endless stream of Trump atrocities large and small talked about on Sunday morning TV is not what voters were talking about. Everybody knew about Stormy but nobody cared; they had processed Trump’s affairs in 2016 and that makes them old news even if they’re still on Rachel Maddow every night. In response to the daily bombings of hall monitor gossip, one person said, ‘I get it, I don’t like what he says all the time either, but let the man try and do his job. Enough already.'” • In other words, “it’s in the price.” More:

It is hard to overstate how deeply these Americans despise the Obama response to the 2008 financial crisis. Many saw the values of their homes, the largest investments they will ever make, dramatically decrease. They don’t own much stock outside of flaccid IRAs, and so they benefited little from a recovery that first bailed out Wall Street. Obama’s decisions still aren’t done with them 10 years later, because their retirements are dependent on home prices rising enough so downsizing sales can cover them late in life.

When people are excluded from the most important decisions affecting their basic livelihoods, they lose faith. That bitter lived experience fueled distrust and an ideological drift that manifested itself in electing Trump. And that distrust hasn’t dissipated enough for them to vote Democrat again. Many of the people of color I met felt the same way as their white neighbors.

Anecdotal, I know. And from a conservative’s milieu. Nevertheless…

UPDATE “Conservative Democrats Making Pitch to Win Back Rural Voters” [Bloomberg]. “The 18-member Blue Dog Coalition, which has been working to prevent a leftward shift in the Democrats’ House delegation, released Thursday what it calls a plan to address [tariffs, health care and the rural economy], along with infrastructure and veterans affairs, in rural areas…. Presented as a possible agenda regardless of whether Democrats win a House majority in the November elections, the five-part plan also gives Democratic candidates running in rural Republican strongholds the outline of a campaign platform.” • Of course, if the Democrat Party had a platform of its own, factions wouldn’t need to develop theirs. But what can you expect from a party that completely lacks core principles?

UPDATE More ES&S horror:

2016 Post Mortem

“As ‘Doonesbury’ characters turn 50, Garry Trudeau describes his journey from pummeling Nixon to tackling Trump” [WaPo].Trudeau: “My mistake was not in underestimating Trump — it was overestimating the electorate.” • Never change, Democrats! Never change! Idea: Restrict the franchise to those with a Masters and above?

New Cold War

“FBI Memos Raise Deep Questions About Russia/Trump Intel Assessment” [Sara Carter]. “In newly obtained emails, bureau officials noted there was not enough intelligence to support the January 2017 findings by the CIA which concluded Vladimir Putin meddled in the 2016 election to help Trump, according to a numerous documents and text messages obtained by SaraACarter.com.” • Oh.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“State Laws Governing Early Voting” [National Conference of State Legislatures]. • Readers will recall I loathe earliy voting; I think it rewards partisan identification, and it makes late-breaking campaign events irrelevant. Nevertheless, as a public service: “This page includes information on statutory requirements relating to the start and end of in-person early voting and to all-mail elections for the 37 states and the District of Columbia that offer these pre-Election Day options. When statutes address locations, days and hours, we have included this information as well. Information provided here is generally for statewide general elections. Early voting periods for municipal or primary elections may differ.”

“Facebook to drop on-site support for political campaigns” [Reuters]. “Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Thursday that it would no longer dispatch employees to the offices of political campaigns to offer support ahead of elections, as it did with U.S. President Donald Trump in the 2016 race….Google and Twitter did not immediately respond to requests to comment on whether they also would pull back support.”

“Voting at Home Will Help Save Our Democracy” [New York Times]. “[I]n six states, it’s already true that more than 12 million voters don’t need to traipse to polling places on Election Day or apply for absentee ballots. The U.S. Postal Service delivers our ballots automatically, several weeks before each election. Voters can mail their marked ballots — sometimes even postage paid — or take them to one of hundreds of official ballot collection sites. Since most voters choose the latter option, vote-at-home is a more accurate label than vote-by-mail…. Oregon rolled out its system in 1998 after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure…. Oregon and Washington weren’t battleground states in 2016. But even so, had every state matched our 80 percent turnout of active registered voters, 15 million more votes would have been cast nationwide. Vote-at-home shines even brighter in lower-turnout midterm and primary elections. Both Oregon and Colorado exceeded 70 percent turnout in 2014 among registered voters, compared with the national average of 48 percent.”

“How Democrats Should Talk to People in Farm Country” [New York Times]. “That’s what Deidre DeJear is doing on the campaign trail, talking about values and opportunity. Democrats might notice that this message can create opportunities in Midwestern states that the party is desperate to reclaim.” • Not a lot of detail of what those values might be, or how to operationalize them.

Stats Watch

Purchasing Managers’ Index Composite FLASH, September 2018: “Amid a backdrop of rising inflation pressures, sharp slowing in the service PMI sample pulled down September’s composite flash and masks a strong showing for manufacturing” [Econoday]. “Weakness in services is centered in the year-ahead outlook which fell to its lowest level of 2018 reflecting concerns over cost pressures as input prices rose sharply and selling prices surged to a record high…. The year-ahead outlook on the manufacturing side is also weak.”

Commodities: “Organized Crime Driving Collapse of South African Abalone” [Maritime Exectutive]. “Once abundant, the population of South African abalone Haliotis midae is now declining at unprecedented levels. On average two thousand tons of abalone are bagged annually by poachers – 20 times the legal take – in an illicit industry estimated to be worth at least $60 million a year… Driven by sophisticated transnational criminal networks and local gangs, the illegal abalone trade has been fueled by deeply entrenched socio-economic disparities in the Western Cape, bitterly contested fishing quotas, drugs and gang violence.”

Energy: “Big energy companies are trying to put economies of scale in the supply chain to build new frontiers in fracking. Chevron Corp. is setting up what it calls a “factory model” in Alberta, Canada, by building infrastructure and locking up labor and materials, effectively creating a single master plan for an entire region of small shale wells. …[O]il companies are trying to avoid the big logistical problems confronting drillers in the U.S. Permian Basin, where pipeline bottlenecks and trucking shortages have inflated distribution costs” [Wall Street Journal]. “But bigger operators are proving that sheer size can turn around the economics of drilling that have troubled smaller firms. In one instance in Alberta, Chevron built a single storage unit for sand that functions like a grain elevator so the company can drill continuously without having to wait for deliveries from dozens of trucks a day.”

Retail: “Coca-Cola Hints At Cannabis Product” [Safe Haven]. “On Monday, Coca-Cola issued a statement saying it is “closely watching” the growth of CBD—a non-psychoactive component in marijuana that could be a key ingredient in “functional wellness beverages” that could ease symptoms of inflammation, pain and nausea. Almost like the run on bitcoin last year, the cannabis space is evolving at breakneck speed… While the alcohol-maker deals are very different and much more ‘hands-on’ with the cannabis industry, there is some sentiment that Coke deal would lend an enormous amount of credibility to the new sector. Such a deal would also be likely to start a chain reaction among non-alcoholic beverage makers, leading to some very big partnerships.”

Retail: “Just say yes? Cannabis bubble expands as iconic Coke seeks a partner” [Freight Waves]. “Beverage companies are enormous consumers of commercial freight services, including trucking. Companies like Ab Inbev, Miller, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and their peers spend over $8 billion on truckload shipping beverages across the U.S… Producing the underlying agricultural commodities in a highly competitive business, is ultimately a low margin business. What is cannabis once its farming is legalized and widespread? An agricultural commodity. And what are companies like Aurora engaged in? In farming it. So what will happen when everybody can farm it and legalization spreads? Low margins, like all other agricultural industries.” • Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

Shipping: “Trucking Shows Strong But Slowing Growth In August 2018” [Econintersect]. “Headline data for truck shipments showed strong (but slower) growth in August 2018…. It should be pointed out that the trucking movements are improving YoY – and the likely reason is the shift from box stores to eRetailers. Econintersect tries to validate truck data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry employment levels rate of growth improved in July – which is consistent with both ATA and Cass. Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted (sometimes significantly).”

Shipping: “Warning to forwarders as appetite for fake goods will rise alongside trade war tariffs” [The Loadstar]. “The business of fakes is expected to get a boost from the next round of tariffs on $200bn-worth of Chinese goods, including handbags, leather and silk…. ‘A tariff on a genuine bag is a subsidy for a fake,’ Susan Scafidi, a New York fashion lawyer, told the Washington Post this week.”

Manufacturing: “In a World of Robots, Carmakers Are Hiring More Humans” [Industry Week]. “Of the 13 publicly traded automakers with at least 100,000 workers at the end of their most-recent fiscal year, 11 had more staff compared with year-end 2013, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Combined, they had 3.1 million employees, or 11% more than four years earlier, the data show…. In developed markets, tasks that can be handled by robots have already been automated years ago and automakers are now boosting hiring in research and development as the industry evolves. Auto companies are hiring more for software positions than hardware roles to prepare for a future in which more vehicles are communicating with each other and their surroundings….”

Transportation: “Self-driving trucks on I-5? Washington and Oregon is nation’s best place for them, report says” [‘Seattle Times]. “Of all the freeways in the U.S., the most productive corridor for self-driving trucks appears to be Interstate 5 through Washington and Oregon, says a report released this week by the Kirkland-based INRIX data company. First, I-5 carries a lot of freight…. Second, the highway is less congested… Third, the corridor is long — some 637 miles…. Finally, high incident rates throughout I-5 can cause sudden slowdowns. Autonomous trucks may be more valuable in avoiding secondary crashes if they can “see farther ahead” and reduce speed sooner than human drivers, said INRIX spokesman Mark Burfeind.”

Tech: “Former Google CEO predicts the internet will split in two by 2028 — and one part will be led by China” [CNBC]. Schmidt: “”I think the most likely scenario now is not a splintering, but rather a bifurcation into a Chinese-led internet and a non-Chinese internet led by America… Chinese Internet is a greater percentage of the GDP of China, which is a big number, than the same percentage of the US, which is also a big number…. Look at the way BRI works – their Belt and Road Initiative, which involves 60-ish countries – it’s perfectly possible those countries will begin to take on the infrastructure that China has with some loss of freedom.” • Maybe three: the US, the EU, and China. What a debacle.

The Bezzle: “Tesla Loses Supply Management Chief as Exodus Worsens” [Bloomberg]. According to anonymous sources, “Liam O’Connor, vice president of global supply management, has resigned…. O’Connor, who joined Tesla in March 2015 from Apple Inc., is at least the fifth senior executive to be parting ways with the carmaker within the span of a few weeks. The company has lost its chief accounting officer and heads of human resources and communications this month. Justin McAnear, the vice president of worldwide finance, is slated to leave in early October.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla’s Biggest Problem Isn’t Elon Musk” [New York Times]. “Tesla’s fundamental financial reality: It isn’t producing cars fast enough to meet demand, its operations are running at a loss, and it has huge debts coming due. The resulting pressure on the company’s cash balance cannot simply be wished away.” • “We’re losing money on every unit. Let’s make more!”


“Subways and Urban Air Pollution” (PDF) [Nicolas Gendron-Carrier, Marco Gonzalez-Navarro, Stefano Polloni, and Matthew A. Turner NBER]. From the abstract: “The data provides clear evidence of a structural break in an average city’s [Aerosol Optical Depth* (AOD)] level around the time that it opens its subway network and does not indicate a trend break at any time in our sampling frame. The magnitude of this break is about 4% and is about constant over 48 postsubway months. In fact, the 4% decrease in AOD is evident over all 96 post subway months we observe, although estimates over this longer horizon are less precise and less well identified.” • Which is good, because air pollution makes you stupid. NOTE * “A remotely sensed measure of particulates.”

Thread on carbon taxes:

“Florence’s Death Toll Includes Millions of Animals” [Bloomberg]. “An estimated 5,500 hogs and 3.4 million chickens and turkeys have already died as a result of Florence, which hit landfall Friday. Six days later, flooding remains a problem, with some roads still impassable and some rivers still near cresting. Many of the state’s 2,100 hog farms ‘are returning to normal,’ according to the North Carolina Pork Council. But about a dozen still remained unreachable as of Thursday morning…”

“Quebec hydro line will ruin Maine’s ‘golden egg’ — our beautiful forest” [Bangor Daily News]. “During a 32-year career with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension, I participated in county and regional nature-based tourism initiatives. Maine’s forested landscapes are full of lakes, streams, rivers and mountains. They are our natural golden eggs, drawing people to Maine’s remote regions and rural communities. Tourists are not coming here to view power lines and other industrial-scale intrusions. [Central Maine Power (CMP)]’s line will chop up a vast and beautiful forest landscape, eroding and degrading remote scenic viewsheds like Attean View, Coburn and Sally mountains, Greenlaw Cliffs, The Notch, and No. 5 and Tumbledown mountains, all in the Upper Moose River Basin. There will be similar impacts at the Kennebec Gorge and Lake Moxie, adjacent to Bald Mountain and the Appalachian Trail.” • Life in the colonies…..

Heatlh Care

“These Are the Economies With the Most (and Least) Efficient Health Care” [Bloomberg]. “The U.S. will cost you the most for treatment, both in absolute terms and relative to average incomes, while life expectancy of Americans — about 79 years — was exceeded by more than 25 countries and territories.”


Central Banker: Loanable Funds Theory Is False. Film at 11:

Guillotine Watch

“Meet the Men Marijuana Made Into Millionaires and Billionaires” [Bloomberg]. “A surge in the share prices of cannabis companies have made millionaires, and even billionaires, out of investors. The pot-stock boom is expanding across the industry, with the most extreme example, Tilray Inc., seeing its shares catapult about 13-fold in the months since its July initial public offering…. Background: Brendan Kennedy, 46, and his partners Michael Blue and Christian Groh, whose ages couldn’t immediately be confirmed, founded Seattle-based Privateer Holdings Inc. in May 2010. The firm later invested in Canadian pot firm Tilray Inc. The three have known one another for years. Kennedy and Blue are graduates of Yale School of Management’s MBA program. Kennedy and Groh had worked together at SVB Analytics, an affiliate of Silicon Valley Bank.” • While the people who created the industry rot in jail. Nice.

Class Warfare

“Washington Walkouts Win Teachers Big Raises” [Labor Notes]. “With a possible teacher strike on the horizon in Los Angeles this fall, we can expect this wave to continue to build. A recent national poll by PDK, which polls attitudes toward public schools, found that 73 percent of the public would support a strike by teachers in their area for higher pay.” • Lots of detail on Washington here, including the failure of the teachers unions to negotiate simultaneously state-wide.

“The Allocation of Economic Coordination Rights” [Law and Political Economy]. “Presently, both antitrust law and our dominant frame for economic policy more generally tend to favor top-down, hierarchical forms of coordination rounded in ownership rights, while viewing more democratic, horizontal forms of coordination with skepticism. This deep-seated preference, which itself precedes the contemporary concern with promoting competition, can be traced in part to antitrust’s (and the law’s) original preference for protecting property rights over workers’ freedom of association and contract – even as the pre-New Deal courts invoked the freedom of contract in other areas of economic and labor policy.”

“When Cities Rely on Fines and Fees, Everybody Loses” [Governing]. As in Freguson, and law enforcement for profit generally. From the article: “these revenue boosters carry economic costs that far outweigh the short-term revenue gains. Because the burden of these penalties falls disproportionately on people who can’t afford to pay, jurisdictions collect far less than expected and waste resources chasing down payments that won’t materialize…. States can further see net losses if driver’s licenses are suspended or residents are incarcerated for nonpayment…. “People can’t drive and go to work, which means they can’t pay the fines and fees or support their families,” says Joanna Weiss, co-director of the Fines and Fees Justice Center.”

“#MeToo and McDonald’s” [Jacobin]. “Tuesday’s one-day strike was workers’ way of ratcheting up the pressure on McDonald’s to finally take action — not only in its corporate-owned restaurants but also in its franchises….. McDonald’s women’s committees are regularly meeting in the ten cities where the strike took place, and more are being organized in other parts of the country… #MeToo didn’t start in Hollywood. Women leaders in the Fight for 15 have been talking about sexual harassment since the movement began. Women farm workers in the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, hotel workers in UNITE HERE, and garment workers in the International Trade Union Federation have all been organizing around sexual violence and harassment in the workplace for years. They spoke out long before #MeToo became front page news and they are continuing to. What may make this time different is the moment we are in.” • While this article has a lot of good detail, there’s no real analysis of the “#MeToo movement” as one would expect from the left periodical: Nothing about class at all. For example, do the women’s committees formed by the workers have any relation at all to the “official#MeToo movement? If not, why?

News of The Wired

“People Like You More Than You Know” [Scientific American]. “A new research paper, published last week in Psychological Science, reports that the common concern that new people may not like us, or that they may not enjoy our company, is largely unfounded…. The data also revealed some of the potential reasons for the divide: we are often harsher with ourselves than with others, and our inner critic prevents us from appreciating how positively other people evaluate us.” • I wonder how much this varies by culture.

“Animal Drug Safety Communication: FDA Alerts Pet Owners and Veterinarians About Potential for Neurologic Adverse Events Associated with Certain Flea and Tick Products” [FDA]. “[S]ome animals receiving Bravecto, Nexgard or Simparica have experienced adverse events such as muscle tremors, ataxia, and seizures.”

“The Cat Meme Photographer from a Century Ago” [Saturday Evening Post]. “The rise of postcards at the turn of the century enabled Pennsylvanian Harry Whittier Frees to build a career out of photographing cute animals donning hats and britches. Frees’s work was unique at the time because his shots seemed to display an unlikely cooperation from his furry talent in assuming human poses.” • Oh noes!!!!!!

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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 (JB):

JB writes: “I once spotted what looked for all the world like milk crates, which someone had tossed in a ditch (while out riding my bike one morning). I returned for them with my truck and discovered they were far too lightly molded to serve as milk crates (probably why someone had tossed them). Anyway, I went ahead and gathered them up because I had the truck instead of leaving them on the side of the road (yes, I’m old enough to remember the anti-littering television commercial where the Indian chief sees roadside litter and sheds a tear – it affected my environmental outlook permanently). So once I got them home, and realizing they were generally worthless as milk-crates, e.g. suitable for toting fairly heavy thing, it struck me I could wire them together into a cube and thus, make a serviceable table of sorts. I use it for the entrance to my building and it’s where I can set things down to deal with the door when my hands are full. The point being, as I was leaving with packages yesterday and set them down, I noticed what I thought was an anthill, or maybe a wasp nest beneath it. But I could tell because it wasn’t clearly visible and the shadows made it impossible. So I lifted tilted it up and found some kind of mushroom. No, don’t ask me what kind because I’ve no clue. While I’ve named it the crate mushroom, the neatest thing about it is the striking pattern that neatly camouflages it with the shadow pattern. Moreover, it remains difficult for the eye to distinguish against the background. Anyway, I carefully eased my makeshift table back over it and left it alone. Life can be interesting, eh?” I like the playful green shoot at the right, too.

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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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If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.

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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. flora

    Well, that cops shouldn’t whack people randomly, and working people shouldn’t be shamed is a principled baseline a lot higher than either party is setting, yes?


    and, ouch!


  2. L

    “Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland returned to Canada on Thursday night without a NAFTA 2.0 breakthrough to announce as negotiators from the U.S. and Canada remain under pressure to reach a deal this month”

    That is interesting. It appears that the US negotiators are not the only ones who can try to game a country’s electoral cycle as part of their tactics.

  3. allan

    Dam breach at Duke plant; coal ash could spill [AP]

    Duke Energy said Friday that a dam containing a large lake at a Wilmington power plant has been breached by floodwaters from Florence, and it’s possible coal ash from an adjacent dump is flowing into the Cape Fear River.

    Duke spokeswoman Paige Sheehan said Friday that floodwaters continue to overtop an earthen dike at the north side of Sutton Lake, a 1,100-acre (445-hectare) reservoir at the L.V. Sutton Power Station. That water has caused several breaches in the dam on the south end of the lake, which is flowing back into the river. …

    Fortunately, this is being handled in a completely transparent manner … oh wait …

    … Security personnel for Duke blocked access Friday to Sutton Lake Road, which leads to a public dock on the reservoir, a popular local destination for boating and fishing.

    Duke denied a request for an Associated Press reporter at the scene Friday to pass the barricade, saying that the situation at the lake “continues to change” and is “not safe.” Aerial photos released by the company showed a wide breach in the earthen dam and the affected ash dump largely underwater. …

    1. Tomonthebeach

      Maybe we do live in a just world but don’t realize it.

      If the North Carolina legislature spent less time banning certain types of people from certain types of toilets, and more time reining in Big Agro polluters, the entire state might not be up to its neck in shit (human and animal).

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Its only the downstream semi-flat to flat part of North Carolina that is worst afflicted. And if some of the flooded areas are areas that sent non-Republicans to the North Carolina legislature, where’s the any-conceivable-justice in that?

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I am not getting the point. A linear literal explanation might help me, but if you don’t feel like having to explain it, that’s okay.

  4. L

    Apropos of : “What Ohio’s ‘Deplorables’ Really Want” [The American Conservative].

    The endless stream of Trump atrocities large and small talked about on Sunday morning TV is not what voters were talking about. Everybody knew about Stormy but nobody cared; they had processed Trump’s affairs in 2016 and that makes them old news even if they’re still on Rachel Maddow every night.

    When I read these I am reminded of all the Republicans I knew who were damn sure that impeaching Clinton was going to be a real vote-winner because they would finally show the true illegitimacy of the Dems, and that shutting down the government was a winner.

    Didn’t work out that way…

    1. fresno dan

      September 21, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      see what Vanity Fair thinks is important, but note what isn’t even mentioned. Indeed, it is NEVER mentioned
      “The Ocasio-Cortez vs. Cynthia Nixon Paradox: Can Democrats Overcome Their Political Schizophrenia by November?” [Vanity Fair].

      It is amazing how universal, affordable, available heath care really gets so little discussion. That there is in fact a great deal of carnage in this country. That Iraq was a disaster (is NOT pointing out how bad Iraq was because so many instigators of Iraq are now security state actors against Trump and Russia, and pointing this out would be considered pro Trump???)

      There is a LOT Americans agree on. The problem is, it is not what the 1% agrees on….

          1. Wukchumni

            Unfortunately the Democrats came down with C.A.I.D.S. (Clinton Acquired Intelligence Deficiency Syndrome) and there is no known cure, but at least they’re on equal mental footing with the white elephants now.

            1. fresno dan

              September 21, 2018 at 5:02 pm

              CAIDS – I never heard of that…but it so makes sense. Almost like there was a conspiracy to keep it under wraps…..
              and I will not mention how it is transmitted, because that depends on what the definition of is is…..
              Of course, if an epidemiological investigation found the index case in the oval office…

            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              Might it be simpler to call it C.A.S.S. ( Clinton Acquired Stupidity Syndrome)?
              Or C.A.D.S. ( Clinton Acquired Dumbness Syndrome)?

    2. Jen


      “Racism and pronouns matter, but only after figuring out how to pay for health care. Anything else stinks of indifference from those whose pensions didn’t disappear in the last merger. There is a sense that being black, brown, gay, Muslim, or female is not by itself a qualification for office.”

      Dude should be blogging for NC.

  5. Darius

    Democrats, most notably Obama, like to lead with “values” because they don’t have an agenda, at least not one they can talk about in public. Their private agenda isn’t that different from the Republicans’.

  6. fresno dan


    The Fresno case began after Solorio disputed a bill he received for treatment of an injured wrist at the emergency department at Community Regional Medical Center on Sept. 22, 2015. Kramer said a couple of X-rays were taken and Solorio had a splint put on his wrist. Solorio got a bill for $7,812.03.
    Kramer said Solorio signed an admissions contract * agreeing to pay for the emergency room services he received in 2015 in “accordance with the regular rates and terms”** of the hospital, but the contract did not specify prices. “The problem is that the patient is given no information whatsoever and no way of finding out what kind of rate schedule he’s going to be paying on,” Kramer said.

    Patients with private insurance and those enrolled in government insurance programs, such as Medi-Cal and Medicare, pay negotiated rates. Patients without any insurance can end up paying “four to five times the cost of providing the services – or four to five times what others end up paying on the average,” ***Kramer said.
    As a HICAP volunteer, I have become familiar with the intricacies of these arcane, impenetrable, and esoteric technical terms, which I have noted with asterix, and I will translate gratis:
    * AKA: Gouging
    ** AKA: extraordinary gouging
    *** AKA: Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious gouging

    1. Wukchumni

      I finally got an MRI this morning on my knee, beating the scheduled date by 10 days, as they had an opening this a.m.

      This is a few weeks after I had x-rays taken. Imagine if it’d been an emergency?

      1. nippersmom

        But we can’t have Medicare for All or any other incarnation of “socialized” healthcare because then we’d all have to wait for routine procedures! /s

        1. Wukchumni

          By the way, what is with that cacophony of loud noises that comes with your neo iron lung experience?

          It starts off sounding like a pod of whales in heat-lusting loudly, and then eventually morphs into really bad Eisenhower era sci-fi movie spaceship sounds, before drifting into a noisome incessant pile driver assaulting your ear drums.

  7. Watt4Bob

    Many of the state’s 2,100 hog farms ‘are returning to normal,’ according to the North Carolina Pork Council. But about a dozen still remained unreachable as of Thursday morning…”

    So there are a dozen hog farms that are unreachable, and average hog farm has 8-10,000 hogs so we’re confident there are only 5,500 dead hogs floating belly-up in NC?

    I remember hearing that less that a hundred people died in Puerto Rico as a result of Maria.

    I also remember this; From NYT

    WASHINGTON — Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, met personally last year with J. Steven Hart, the lobbyist whose wife had rented him a $50-a-night Capitol Hill condo, a disclosure that contradicts earlier statements that E.P.A. lobbying by Mr. Hart had not occurred.

    The meeting was set up on behalf of an executive associated with Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. Previously, Mr. Hart and his lobbying firm, Williams & Jensen, had maintained that Mr. Hart never lobbied Mr. Pruitt in 2017, when Mr. Pruitt was living in a condo co-owned by Mr. Hart’s wife, or in the time since then.

    Smithfield’s farm in Tar Heel NC, the world’s largest, reportedly processes 32,000 pigs a day.

    I hope that farm isn’t 4 feet under water.

      1. Watt4Bob

        Their NC neighbors don’t.

        30,000 dead hogs is a massive disposal project, and I bet they don’t haul them far before burying them.

        1. redleg

          The cost of transport and “disposal” of farm animal casualties is 75% reimbursable under the Stafford Act in areas where a Disaster Declaration is in effect.
          Two problems with this:
          the “reimbursable” means the full cost must be borne by someone for an unspecified time; and
          the paperwork must be complete to get reimbursed even though the record keeping standards are unfamiliar and often the first thing to be disregarded in the first week following a disaster.

  8. Wukchumni

    Recent polling confirms growing trends since last year showing large majorities of these women believe Trump doesn’t respect women as he does men, and they are embarrassed by his behavior…
    How many of the 99 million or so women of voting age has Galligula scorned?

  9. Big River Bandido

    re: How Democrats Should Talk to People in Farm Country

    Another tone-deaf, self-justifying handwringer from the same outlet that taught you how to speak to your nanny. Oh, sorry, that article wasn’t meant for you.

    The New York Times doesn’t know jack about farm country, or the people in it. If they did, they wouldn’t have screwed up their coverage in the last election so badly.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Whatever happened to just opening your mouth and talking to people? Y’know, face to face, and you listen when the other person is speaking.

      Of course, the usual rules of etiquette apply.

      Sigh. I guess I’ll never be a New York Times writer.

    2. clarky90

      Re; “The business of fake handwringing”

      For years, I followed what seemed like Good Logical Medical Advice, and took one baby aspirin every day. Today I am told that, I was increasing my risk of Cancer and not helping my cardio-vascular system.

      When I was young, there was the intriguing subject of “counterfeit money”, Everything else seemed to be “real” . I was mistaken. All the history was fake, either as presented, or by the willful omissions that would have given some context.

      Today almost everything is blatantly “fake”. The Nag Champa Incense I bought, in spite of the shiny seals and labels of authenticity, is fake. I have bought vitamins and supplements on line, which were fake (probably poisonous in fact). I now, just assume that most things are fake. This promotes self-sufficiency.

      It is as if all of the liars have come out of the shadows, and are gleefully prancing around!

      Don’t get me started about fake news, fake algorithms that “call out” fake news….It is meta. Oh, and the fake emotions (fake love, fake concern, fake grief…..unreal).

      It is getting Biblical (Satanic) in its scope

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Everything (almost) is ‘fake’ today.

        Sadly, non-high-end collectibles are not wanted.

        They (the old things) are

        1. not fake, but authentic and better made, with natural materials more often.

        2. not made recently, requiring no additional recent energy consumption…Nature-saving, we are talking about here.

        Too bad people prefer new stuff over antiques

        1. Wukchumni

          Do you collect or deal in coins, currency, art, fossils, pottery, stamps, or old-world relics? Come to think of it, do you collect anything of moderate to significant monetary value? If so, caveat emptor “let the buyer beware!”

          These hobbies, and many more like them, are facing a formidable; if not insurmountable threat. And it’s one that may surprise you. It’s not time, the elements, inflation, scarcity, or development; it’s China! China and its flourishing counterfeiting industry crowded with factories pumping out “replicas” of just about anything imaginable. Yes – even fossils.

          Counterfeiting is as old as money itself – which dates to the minting of coinage in the Greek city of Lydia around 600 B.C. It’s so old; it’s been coined as the world’s second oldest profession. Second only to… well, you know. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Chinese counterfeiters have aggressively attacked the global coin market, pumping it full of fake bullion coins like the American Eagle.

          The flood of counterfeit coins into the U.S. market; and for that matter, world markets, has seemingly gone unchecked. For one, the Chinese government allows and promotes the counterfeiting industry to operate undeterred. Heck, China even had a museum filled with nothing but fakes! To exasperate the issue, counterfeiters no longer rely on large shipping containers to ship their fraudulent cargo, making it nearly impossible for Customs to intercept. So how does this stuff make its way into the US and other markets?


          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Thanks. I own two or three ancient bronze coins costing $20 or so each. That’s my exposure. They look authentic to me…the tactile feeling, the shape, the aging or patina, the Chinese characters on them, and lastly and often most importantly, the craftsmanship…people of different age see, view and perceive the world uniquely.

            (As to what I collect most, its mostly porcelain and stoneware. Here, there are 10 to 20 things I look at besides whatever turns up in additional research. Again, craftsmanship is crucial. )

            As for fakes, in China, they are distinguished from imitations, which had been done for centuries, by emperors no less Qianlong is particularly well known for that. That is a proud tradition, a way to honoring the past, or complimenting in the most sincere form.

            In the Palace Museum in Taibei, fakes and imitations both exist, not known to the museum in some cases until someone raises questions.

            1. Wukchumni

              The Chinese faking 1 ounce gold coins by making then out of tungsten and then gold plating them, sold online for a hundred bucks, 1/12th of it’s value if it was the real thing…

              ….pays homage to the proud tradition of greed

            2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              Actually, historical imitations for sure, at the Palace Museum. Not sure about fakes there, but at other meseums perhaps.

          2. wilroncanada

            Counterfeiting isn’t the world’s second oldest profession, stationery is.
            Adam & Eve invented the loose leaf system.

      2. Richard

        “It is as if all of the liars have come out of the shadows, and are gleefully prancing around.”
        I love the image; it makes me think of De Goya.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      Suburb types are one thing, but I can’t help but notice Sanders is the Senator from Vermont. When a major metropolitan area is Brattleboro, its rural.

  10. Wukchumni

    So what will happen when everybody can farm it and legalization spreads? Low margins, like all other agricultural industries.” • Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.
    Dude, I can score pot marjoram og for less than a buck per ounce now, how much lower can it go?

    1. Edward E

      If you hear of somebody ‘Smoking Pot’ in the Ozarks it means an outhouse caught fire. Anybody can farm it, n’getting caught is the mother of invention. When we were still teenagers a friend and I had a nice patch, went to harvest it and all there was left was a Polaroid photo of it on a tree… true story

      MMT Bank of the Ozarks, we’ve been wanting to open a bank that creates cabbage from thin air, but couldn’t get the dynamite.

      Dad has been at the VA medical foster care home for five hours and they haven’t brought him back… fangers crossed, I hope they can ease his worries

      1. Wukchumni

        Citrus has gotten pricey lately, a couple years ago a 30 pound box of either Navels or Valencias was $10 @ a roadside stand, now has gone up 80%, to $18.

        @ full market retail end user value, if that 30 pounds was dried marijuana instead, it’d be worth north of $180k

        1. gepay

          The way that federal legalization of marijuana could help the family farm is with a program similar to the tobacco allottment system.- it kept many family farms going for decades in the past. Otherwise big ag willl just dominate the market. 5 and 10 acre allottments would bring in multiple 10s of thousands per year with not much effort and like was said – there’s a reason its called weed. – But it will never happen with the Congress we have today.

    1. Summer

      I told that story to my amazed co-workers the other day.
      And Heroin was introduced to the masses by Bayer. I believe they once promoted it as less addictive than morphine – kind of like Oxy was promoted as being less addictive.

      1. polecat

        I found, some time ago .. while working at a jobsite at the edge of the Sacramento City Dump, an intact bottle with the label “Mrs. Whippley’s Soothing Syrup” impressed into the glass .. with the sub heading describing how it “was good for what ails ya” .. including chillblains, and fussy infants. All used up apparently, some hundred or so years ago ..
        Damn !

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          I believe I remember reading that “heroin” was a German name . . . for feeling “heroic” which was how the heroin was supposed to make you feel.

      2. Lee

        Benzedrine pills, colloquially referred to as bennies, is the brand name of the first pharmaceutical drug that contained amphetamine. The drug contained the racemic mixture of amphetamine, which is an equal parts mixture of levoamphetamine and dextroamphetamine. It was first marketed in 1933 as a decongestant in the United States by Smith, Kline & French in the form of Benzedrine inhalers.[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Benzedrine

        The benny boom took off during and after WW2, as it was used too keep the troops and workers awake. And then for recreation too.

      3. hemeantwell

        Re The Cat Meme Photographer from a Century Ago”, if you click through you’ll see some kittens that must have been posed using carefully dosed amounts of the drugs that were OTC back then. Our cat would be aiming for our eyes if we tried that.

    2. audrey jr

      Yep, that’s right, Carolinian!
      My mom’s family is from Granite Falls, NC. The first thing that Grandma Brady would ask when we’d show up at her house was, “Y’all wanna dope?”
      She meant a Coca Cola, of course.
      That’s what the folks who grew up in late 19th and early 20th Centuries called Coke.
      My brother and I would roar with laughter when she’d ask us that.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        More recently than that, even. I lived in East Tennessee till age 15 and some of the other kids my age were calling a Coke a “dope” even yet.

  11. Plenue

    >FBI Memos Raise Deep Questions About Russia/Trump Intel Assessment

    I think the single most ludicrous part of ‘Russiagate’ is the assertation that Putin himself personally authorized or oversaw some part of the operation. That’s a very bold and specific claim, one with even less evidence to back it up than the idea of any kind of Russian government ‘interference’ at all. Will be interesting to watch what happens to that claim in the near future. It’ll probably just be flushed down the memory hole.

  12. FreeMarketApologist

    Self-driving trucks on I-5? Washington and Oregon is nation’s best place for them,… …First, I-5 carries a lot of freight…. Second, the highway is less congested…

    Absolutely no disagreement with the first assertion, but the second? Really?
    Ever drive regularly between Portland and Seattle, particularly Tacoma to Seattle? At least there are wide, and many, lanes.

    Headline should say “I-5 will be one of the best tests of self-driving truck capabilities, particularly in winter, though it may come with significant collateral damage for others”.

    Once they master that, they can do I-95 between New York and New Haven between 3 and 7pm. In the sleet. On the Friday before a holiday weekend.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Regarding self-driving vehicles, is it safer to go with the flow, or observe the speed limit strictly?

      The question is asked because, if I understand correctly, one major cause is the differences in travelling speed among the vehicles on the freeway.

    2. JohnnySacks

      The human driver at least has skin in the game. Soon to he replaced with a self preservation algorithm cobbled together from software APIs. Will it have a ‘pull over and wait for road crews’ fork during sleet and snow? Sorry Frank, I can’t do that.

  13. Phemfrog

    As far as Texas goes, I was listening to local coverage on KERA this morning about Cruz vs. O’Rourke. The part that stood out to me was in an interview with a local reporter, Ashley Lopez. She basically said what Lambert is always saying, that if the Dems want the ‘Demographics is Destiny’ thing to come true, then they have to invest heavily in things like voter registration…and she has NOT seen those kinds of investments yet. Very telling…

    Here is the link to the interview with Morning Edition (with transcript):

    Here is a story she wrote about the topic:


    My on the ground experience here in the burbs of Dallas…I have seen a lot of Beto stickers and yard signs; unusual in an area where you never see Democrats make their registration status public.

  14. todde

    Banks create money out of past earnings(secured loan) or future earnings(unsecured loan).

    Never saw a bank create money to pay payroll…

    1. Grebo

      Banks make profits out of loans. They make loans by creating money. To pay payroll out of loans to themselves would not be profitable. Loaning money to themselves to speculate on asset prices or derivatives could be highly profitable, and risky.

  15. Michael Fiorillo

    “As a con artist, I don’t think Booker could carry Obama’s jockstrap.”

    I agree, though it astonishes me that more people don’t instantly see through him. I find that gushing, insipid tone of his to be not just insufferable, but transparently false. Having watched him come up politically, I don’t believe a word he says, ever.

    At least Obama, quick change artist and chameleon that he is, could be “admired” for his chops as a con man, and had the advantage of being the first of his type. Booker is a cheap derivative.

    Nevertheless, the man is dangerous: just look at what he did to the Newark public schools as Mayor, allying with Governor Christie in a vicious campaign to privatize as much of the school system as possible. That’s the real Cory Booker.

    1. Lee

      I agree, though it astonishes me that more people don’t instantly see through him.

      Enough people probably do see through him to prevent him from winning the presidency. Alas, mainstream Dems see him for what he is and like what they see.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Booker . . . Holder . . . Cuomo . . . Chelsea Clinton . . . there’s 4 possible DemPrez Nominees who could get me to vote for Trump all over again.

      Oh , and . . . Biden too.

    3. Pat

      I wish I could write Booker off, but like Trump, the man can read and work an audience. I have seen it in person. Where they differ is Trump sells you can be me and Booker sells he loves you. People walk away from a Booker encounter or event thinking he is a best friend. He talks a lot of bull but because of that friend thing people think the crap was not a sell out but despite him (like Obama).

      Trump is an obvious con as well, but Booker using that playbook DOES have a shot.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Facebook to drop on-site support for political campaigns”

    I did read though that Facebook is setting up a command center to fight Russians trying to influence the next election. No, seriously. I am going with the theory that this will actually be a deconfliction center. What I mean is that when some Facebook techie shouts “We have Russians!” that it can be checked out first. Imagine the following conversation in 2020 at this Facebook Command Center-

    “Hey, I found Russian influence!”
    “No, that is an NSA operation”.
    “Well what about that activity in Idaho?”
    “Naw, that is just the CIA”.
    “And those votes going from Ohio to those servers in Chicago?”
    “Forget it. That is just normal Republican traffic”
    “Then why are we here?”
    “So that we don’t blow the whistle on Russian meddling and get embarrassed by it just being domestic meddling”.

  17. ewmayer

    Re. “What Ohio’s ‘Deplorables’ Really Want [The American Conservative] … When people are excluded from the most important decisions affecting their basic livelihoods, they lose faith. That bitter lived experience fueled distrust and an ideological drift that manifested itself in electing Trump. And that distrust hasn’t dissipated enough for them to vote Democrat again. Many of the people of color I met felt the same way as their white neighbors.”

    [Channeling my inner highly-paid Dem strategist/consultant/data-wanker] So basically, they’re yuuuge racists – the deplorables of color mentioned above are simply self-hating ones. Ya know, it becomes ever more clear that HRH HRC was right not to waste her precious time and energy campaigning in these states. On the Blue Wave, my friends!

    1. jrs

      It’s an odd way of thinking, you have to admit, that doesn’t see people’s control of their basic livelihoods primarily being about work and working conditions etc.. (of which really all real solutions are leftist as far as I can tell).

  18. upstater

    Remote-control train runs away in Australia
    September 21, 2018

    DEVONPORT, Tasmania — A remote-control shuttle train ran away from its operator Friday, traveling a dozen miles through several towns on the Australian island state before it was intentionally derailed. Two passersby were injured.

    According to a report by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the train was loading cement, with the operator on the ground using a control unit, when it ran away. The TasRail train, consisting of a dozen covered cement hoppers with a locomotive pushing, accelerated to more than 30 mph. Police, alerted to the runaway, raced alongside the train with all lights flashing and sirens blaring to warn motorists and pedestrians.

    TasRail was able to shunt the train into a siding and derail it, damaging several of the cement hoppers. Two people on an adjacent walking trail were struck by portions of the fence separating the trail from the active track. Both were treated and released from the hospital.

    Police said the entire drama was over in less than 10 minutes.

    TasRail has operated the shuttle train for 20 years without incident. The train has a locomotive on one end and a control car on the other end. The operator reportedly uses a remote unit as he observes the loading and unloading of the cars from the ground.

  19. fresno dan


    Immigration is the focus of fierce political and policy debate in the United States. Among the most contentious issues is how the country should address undocumented immigrants. Like a tornado that won’t dissipate, arguments have spun around and around for years. At the center lies a fairly stable and largely unquestioned number: 11.3 million undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. But a paper by three Yale-affiliated researchers suggests all the perceptions and arguments based on that number may have a faulty foundation; the actual population of undocumented immigrants residing in the country is much larger than that, perhaps twice as high, and has been underestimated for decades.
    why would anyone purposefully underestimate the number of illegal immigrants in the US

    1. marku52

      Because they benefit Yugely from this source of workers they can cheat, maybe?

      And yes, it is a bipartisan thingy.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      It takes an awful lot of illegal employERS to hire that many illegal aliens. Each and every one of the alleged illegal employERS should be arrested, charged and tried. And if convicted, they should all be mass incarcerated. That way, the prisondustrial complex could be kept full with people who actually deserve to be in it.

  20. dcblogger

    I just saw the new Michael Moore film, highly recommended. Devastating to Trump and not kind to the Clintons or Obama. One thing I learned, it seems our military actually bombed Flint as a training exercise. IF I got the chronology correct, it happened during Obama’s watch.

    1. fresno dan

      September 21, 2018 at 8:42 pm

      I saw that! Makes you wonder how many were saying it should be a live fire exercise.
      In the movie Fail Sail, wasn’t it proposed we go all out war and nuke ’em as much as possible since we had already started?
      As we were already attacking Flint, why not every inner city….and might as well get the liberals on the coasts as well…..

  21. Jason Boxman

    I laughed at the CVS receipt joke… if you haven’t seen them, it’s easily 2 feet long and almost all ads. I carefully rip off the relevant position for my records and leave the rest of the receipt on the self checkout register.

  22. Richard

    I have a question about MMT and the concept of “fiat currency”. My understanding, possibly wrong, is that this is due to the petrodollar. Here’s my question: Would the US still have this ability to “create money” without the petrodollar? If so, what other factors are giving the US this advantage?
    Please forgive me if this question is ignorant: I haven’t actually read MMT theory, just pieced together 2nd hand reports. I have avoided the homework, though I know I shouldn’t.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Manifest Destiny wasn’t entirely about stealing land from the locals. It means a true independence. Besides defense, complete control of huge continent which is what we have means we do not need to send negotiators to Beijing to buy Tulaberries or self stealing stem bolts. We either have access to what we need or can make it in a fashion. From the perspective of an international venture (government or private), why shop in 50 countries when you can shop in one? Dealing with one political culture. If you have to buy sprockets from a culture where you have to haggle or one where you have to pay off the right people and grease the palms of every one along the way, or do everything in different languages, and then hope your neighbors don’t throw up embargoes because of trade disputes, custom inspections at every border, and on and on it goes.

      The U.S. is as big as the Roman Empire, and the only wall we really discuss is on a desert. We are so wealthy and well defended by natural borders as a country that we can waste money on the F-35 and it doesn’t even work.

    2. John k

      Foreign savers, and export minded countries content to hold, or save, dollars in exchange for goods, drives up the price of dollars, thereby driving our trade deficit.
      Reserve currency status ends when savers decide to save something else. So far chinese yuan, Russian rubles, and neither Saudi or Venezuela currency so far appeals, and there is no sign any of them will soon.
      Neither nukes or oil is involved.

    3. Grebo

      Anyone can create money. The trick is getting other people to accept it.

      Governments can get their own people to accept their money by demanding they pay their taxes with it. Foreigners will accept it if they think it is at least as useful or reliable as their own. The US has many advantages there, but they are not required for simply issuing money.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      MMT has nothing to do with petrodollars. Here is Warren Mosler’s excellent video on “turning litter into money.” It’s an excellent discussion of fiat currency, and explains the role of taxes clearly. You only have to listen to the first 2:58:

      Transcript here.

        1. Richard

          Okay, after watching a few videos, I have a better understanding, but also a niggeling concern. What about the folks outside the room, who don’t need the “don’t shoot me bucks”? What happens when we need to buy something from them?
          I’m pretty sure I have the answer: that it would then depend on other factors that might possibly make my “don’t shoot me bucks” more valuable than theirs. Not that I’d have any idea what those factors are, or how to weigh them.
          Although, if one of those factors is overwhelming military and financial might, couldn’t that complicate things a bit? I mean between the New Deal spenders and the anti-imperialists?

          1. jsn

            The relationship between money and power is a tight one that can be abused on either pole. If the US happened to be a functioning popular democracy, based on the consistent values polls show most Americans hold, the issues of power/dollars external to the US system would be no where near as fraught as they’ve become.

            People external to the system want to get the systems money either to get something from the system, an export they’ll need to use the systems money to purchase, or to use their own sales into that system for benefits external to that system, to maintain domestic employment by importing demand from the US in the case of China and Germany.

            Because the US system has not been a functional popular democracy at least since the 80s, if it was even before that (to my mind between 68 and 80 was the high water mark of US popular democracy), our elites have sat back and watched actors external to the system use it to make themselves stronger to such a degree that our elite is now suddenly surprised to see those external actors attempt to usurp the hard power outside of the relationship and are desperately trying to use the money pole of the money power relationship to prevent it.

    5. HotFlash

      Would the US still have this ability to “create money” without the petrodollar?

      The ability of the US, or any other money sovereign, to create money has *nothing* to do with the petrodollar. The (US) gov just pays domestic people and companies for stuff (services, salaries, ICBMs, whatever) with their Dollars (or pounds or Euros or yen). The money has value (!!, ie, people/companies will take it as payment) because these people and companies need to pay taxes and (mostly) only the country’s currency is the only thingamabob that will do that job. Yes, you can grow your own or barter for food, clothing, shelter and undertaker services, but not taxes.

      The petrodollar is an *external* thing, it is a matter of making *other* countries accept your currency. And you can’t really charge them taxes. But you can (with the help of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler “Smedley Butler and his successors” ) make them pay *your* currency for oil, a thing that is needed world-wide. That is perhaps an important point, but neither the main point nor the main mechanism of MMT.

        1. jsn

          One of the last things President Roosevelt did before he died was a three day meeting with Ibn Saud during which it was agreed all the oil produced in the Kingdom would be sold abroad for dollars, no other currency.

          This agreement was the birth of the petrodollar which was unimportant until 1971 when Nixon took the US off of gold, at which point the Kings heirs no longer received gold at the end of the year in exchange for their trade surplus with the US.

          Since then, Germany and China in particular have been running a kind of accidental Marshall Plan where by purchasing slightly more US Treasuries (which by congressional mandate back the dollars Germany and China accumulate by selling goods to the US in excess of goods they import from the US) than they need to balance accounts, manage with elite US support to maintain a “strong dollar” which allows them to import manufacturing demand from the US and maintain popular employment there as well as local elite income.

          This system, which has hollowed out the US middle class and destroyed our domestic manufacturing base, looks to be near breaking down.

  23. Wukchumni

    Rosenstein is Rosencrantz, but who’s Guildenstern?

    Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are characters in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. They are childhood friends of Hamlet, summoned by King Claudius to distract the prince from his apparent madness and if possible to ascertain the cause of it.

    When Hamlet kills Polonius, Claudius recruits Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to escort Hamlet to England, providing them with a letter for the King of England instructing him to have Hamlet killed. (They are apparently unaware of what is in the letter, though Shakespeare never explicitly says so.) Along the journey, the distrustful Hamlet finds and rewrites the letter, instructing the executioner to kill Rosencrantz and Guildenstern instead. When their ship is attacked by pirates, Hamlet returns to Denmark, leaving Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to die; he comments in Act V, Scene 2 that “They are not near my conscience; their defeat / Does by their own insinuation grow”. Ambassadors returning later report that “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead.”


  24. dcrane

    “Voting at Home Will Help Save Our Democracy”

    In New Zealand, which has allowed postal voting for some time, councils are using the “inevitable” decline of the postal mail system to argue for online voting despite the obvious major risks. For some reason, going back to voting in-person isn’t seriously considered.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Oregon has used home voting for years. You can mail in your ballot, if you trust the mail, but you don’t have to: my county, and I assume the rest, has multiple drop boxes (repurposed from the post office, so quite secure) spread around the county. They’re especially helpful if you wait till the last minute, as I always do. And so do a lot of others – I see them when I drop my ballot on election day. It’s a regular Procrastinator’s Club.

  25. Socrates Pythagoras

    Who are these Amazon employees who can afford to make political campaign donations? Clearly, they are overpaid. Has anyone alerted Bezos?!?!?

  26. Oregoncharles

    “[F]or that blue wave to reach shore, a bunch of Republicans need to vote Democrat and…”

    Not so. It depends on the district, of course, but nationally, Dems and Reps are each around 30% and independents of various flavors greatly outweigh them. Unless the district is very lopsided, it’s generally independents that settle elections.

  27. Oregoncharles

    ““Voting at Home Will Help Save Our Democracy””
    The NYT is a bit late to the party. However, I will vouch for the point they’re making: voting from home is wonderful, and it does produce a hand-marked paper ballot – which, in Oregon, is saved for years, in case they need to go back to them. Machines may still be involved inthe counting, though.

    Granted, it does allow early voting, since the ballots go out a couple of weeks before the election. I don’t vote early, personally, and I see a stream of people dropping their ballots on election day, but that’s because I’m a procrastinator. And so are they, apparently.

  28. Kit

    Without some form of early voting, whether by mail or in person, the processing of would-be voters and physical act of making ballot selections takes enough time that there aren’t enough hours in the day between quitting time and polls closing for most working voters to be able to vote.

    When I have waited until voting day to vote, I’ve waited on line for hours because the lines are so long, and even though the poll workers stay very late to process the people already on line when the polls close, I’ve seen dozens of voters, maybe as many as a hundred or more show up to vote shortly after the deadline and winding up getting turned away.

    Early voting helps prevent logistical disenfranchisement by increasing the opportunities to vote by an order of magnitude.

  29. Procopius

    “What Ohio’s Deplorables Really Want”, I just gotta say I don’t think The American Conservative is conservative in the sense that Republicans call themselves conservative. I’ve found most of its articles sensible, to my surprise. Maybe that means I’m not as progressive as I thought, or the Democratic Party is a lotfarther to the right than I had understood. I already believed that the Democrats are the party of the center-right, while the Republicans are the party of the bat-shit crazy, but I don’t understand why a magazine that’s routinely to the left of Obama call itself conservative?

    By the way, I must recommend the article explaining dude process.

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