2:00PM Water Cooler 9/24/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


The Chinese know about the Iowa primaries:



“Eyeing White House, Cory Booker introduces himself to Iowa” [Associated Press]. “Booker has secured the keynote speaker role at the marquee fall Democratic Party fundraising banquet in Des Moines on Oct. 6. He’ll also headline a Democratic fundraiser later in October in South Carolina, which holds the first primary in the South and is a key test of support among black voters. Adding to the intrigue surrounding Booker is his budding relationship with Des Moines lawyer Jerry Crawford, a party powerbroker helping the senator make connections in Iowa…. While many potentially top-tier prospects have fostered relationships in Iowa, Booker is the only one — for now — to be in the state ahead of the November midterm elections.”

Neera still doing enforcement:

“Bernie Sanders: Donald Trump and GOP want to cut Social Security. We should expand it instead.” [USA Today]. “If Trump actually cared about saving Social Security, he would support my bill to expand Social Security benefits and extend its solvency for the next 60 years by requiring the wealthiest Americans — those making over $250,000 a year — to pay their fair share of Social Security taxes…. A moral society does not give tax breaks to billionaires and large corporations, and then cut back support for struggling seniors or people with disabilities.Our job now is to rally the public to ensure that everyone in America can retire with dignity and everyone with a disability can live with security.” • You show Bernie the way out of the austerity box (MMT) but he just won’t take it….

“Bernie Sanders backs Scottish Government’s Amazon funding freeze in workers’ Living Wage battle” [Daily Record]. Our exclusive last week revealed that Amazon will have to pay workers the Living Wage of £8.75 an hour if they want to access public cash in the future. And Sanders, who ran for president in 2016, has now called on America to follow Scotland’s lead.”

UPDATE “Reviving The Mishandling Of Anita Hill’s Testimony Is Bad News For Biden 2020” [HuffPo]. Lots of detail for those who came in late. This caught my eye: “Biden also handed a major victory to Republicans in agreeing to let Thomas testify both before and after Hill ― most crucially, scheduling his response to her allegations for 9 p.m. on a Friday, when millions of people were tuned in for their prime-time broadcast.” • Prime time? Really?


42 days until Election Day. 42 days is a long time in politics (as we are seeing right now with Kavanaugh and Rosenstein).

“‘100 Kegs or Bust’: Kavanaugh friend, Mark Judge, has spent years writing about high school debauchery” [WaPo]. (Ford says Judge witnessed Kavaugh attacking her.) Interesting article on the Kavanaugh milieu: “Judge has written about his Prep years as a time of drunken debauchery. Beach Week, a summertime excursion with classmates, was a nonstop roller coaster of drinking, sexual encounters with girls from other prep schools, blackouts and more drinking. ‘It was impossible to stop until I was completely annihilated,’ he wrote. Such experiences filled weekends during the school year as well, and on Monday mornings during senior year, the boys would tell their Marriage and Sex teacher, Bernie Ward, about their excesses. ‘The drinking was unbelievable,’ said Ward, who later spent two decades as a radio talk-show host in San Francisco and served six years in federal prison for distributing child pornography. ‘It was part of the culture. A parent even bought the keg and threw one of the parties for the kids.'” So if you were asking “Where were the parents, there’s your answer. More: “Like Kavanaugh, Judge grew up in a Catholic Washington that formed its own social world, centered in the big old houses of Chevy Chase, Bethesda and Potomac, places today known as home to millionaires but through most of the second half of the 20th century communities where police officers, civil servants and teachers lived alongside lawyers and doctors. The big houses were perfect for large Catholic families, and the lives of kids and parents alike revolved around a core set of institutions — parishes such as Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac and Blessed Sacrament in upper Northwest Washington, and the private Catholic high schools within easy reach, such as St. John’s College, Georgetown Visitation, Stone Ridge and Georgetown Prep.” • My question is, why on earth didn’t the Federalist Society mavens who created the list of potential Justices see Kavanaugh’s association with Judge as a giant red flag, given Judge’s writing? After all, the Trump administration’s court nominations had been going like clockwork before Kavanaugh, so what changed?

“Senate Democrats Investigate a New Allegation of Sexual Misconduct, from the Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s College Years” [The New Yorker]. Here are two phrases that leap to a skeptical eye: “after several days of considering the matter carefully,” and “The New Yorker has not confirmed with other eyewitnesses that Kavanaugh was present at the party.”

UPDATE “Michael Avenatti Implicates Kavanaugh in Pattern of Teenage Sexual Assault” [New York Magazine]. • A different set of allegations. Presumably, Avenatti’s witnesses will at some point come forward. Given what we know of sexual mores in the Kavanaugh milieu, little would surprise me, but that’s not the same thing as saying that the allegations are true. The purpose of these house parties is to get drunk and have sex. Why is anyone surprised that an environment like that fosters assault? And what do we do about it? Given that “party culture” persists to this day? Aided and abetted by parents and schools, as the “100 Kegs or Bust” story makes clear?

* * *

“Is Winning Women Enough for Democrats to Win the House?” [Cook Political Report]. “Poll after poll have shown that white college-educated women, once a persuadable pool of voters, have abandoned the GOP. The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal survey found that these women support a Democrat for Congress by 22 points — 58 percent to 36 percent. In 2014, they preferred a Democratic Congress by just 2 points (46-44 percent). Republican strategists on the ground are seeing and feeling the same thing…. The defection of these women voters are the reason why traditionally GOP, upscale, overwhelmingly white districts in suburban Chicago (IL-06), Kansas City (KS-03), Dallas (TX-32), Houston (TX-07), New Jersey (NJ-07) and Minneapolis (MN-03), are in serious peril…. ”

“Polling in Real Time: The 2018 Midterm Elections” [New York Times]. “The Upshot has partnered with Siena College to conduct polls of dozens of the most competitive House and Senate races across the country. Our poll results are updated in real time, after every phone call. We hope to help you understand how polling works, and why it sometimes doesn’t.” • Interesting project, though the interface is confusing. The results are organized by state, but not alphabetized.

“Ratings Changes: House and Governors” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Affluent suburban seats looking dicier for GOP, but their numbers in the House are not all bad; Colorado, Michigan gubernatorial races shift to Democrats.”

TX Senate: “What 39,000 Words in 15 Profiles Didn’t Tell You About Beto O’Rourke” [Inside Elections]. “I read more than a dozen profiles, and they most often describe a young, sweaty candidate with Kennedy-esque looks and punk sensibilities as an accidental and almost reluctant challenger to Republican Sen. Ted Cruz. But O’Rourke was never going to be content with being on the El Paso City Council or playing bass for the band Foss.” • Basically, not reluctant at all; groomed for higher office by the local establishment, if anything. Which is fine!

AZ-04: Plot twist:

UPDATE CA-10: “A venture capitalist is running for Congress in farm country. And his opponent is turning those Silicon Valley years into an insult” [Recode]. Shouldn’t be hard…

2016 Post Mortem

“Majority of 2016 nonvoters wouldn’t vote again in hypothetical rematch” [The Hill]. “The survey, conducted by Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company found that 53 percent of those who did not vote said they would not vote again in a hypothetical rematch…. Eighty-three percent of voters said they were “not very likely” or “not at all likely” to vote in the midterms, according to an April Suffolk University/USA Today poll.”

New Cold War

“Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to meet Trump Thursday” [CNN]. Other coverage: Rosenstein is considering resigning, has resigned, is expected to be fired. • And it’s only Monday…

UPDATE “Donald Trump’s Rosenstein dilemma” [Mark Penn, The Hill]. From Clinton’s former pollster, of all people: “[A]s an outside observer, watching the unmasking of the actions of one official after another at the FBI, CIA and DOJ, I have come to accept that an unelected group of well-educated, experienced individuals running these departments became inebriated with their own power during the last election campaign and apparently came to believe they were on a mission to stop, defeat or remove President Trump and his associates for crimes they would find or, if necessary, manufacture.” • Worth a read.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “‘I am frustrated too’: Michelle Obama urges voters to register ahead of midterms” [Guardian]. “A star-studded voter registration drive launched by Michelle Obama kicked off its national week of action this weekend with events across the country, including a rally by the former first lady on Sunday at Chaparral high school in Las Vegas. The drive, When We All Vote, marks Obama’s return to the political stage, aiming to encourage voter participation and ‘spark a conversation about our rights and responsibilities in shaping our democracy.’ The effort aims to be nonpartisan and to combat ambivalence and cynicism in the electorate. Co-led by several former Obama White House advisers, it will stage rallies in cities such as Pittsburgh and Miami, where celebrities like Tom Hanks, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Janelle Monáe will promote civic engagement and the need to participate in voter outreach.” • 42 days before the election…

“How Connected Is Your Community to Everywhere Else in America?” [New York Times] • A neat interative map that makes the enormous scale of the country clear.

Stats Watch

Chicago Fed National Activity Index, August 2018: Solid rise to match July [Econoday]. “Despite the spots of weakness in today’s report, the 3-month average is showing acceleration… ” And: “[The three month moving average] suggests economic activity was slightly above the historical trend in August” [Calculated Risk].

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, September 2018: “Growth in the Dallas Fed’s manufacturing sample is less robust this month” [Econoday]. “Slowing in this report and the easing in capacity stress are positives given the risk that conditions in this region, benefiting from high energy prices, had been pointing to the risk of overheating.” And: “So far the regional surveys for September have indicated solid growth” [Calculated Risk].

Shipping: “Holiday hiring time has arrived for the transportation and logistics sector” [Logisitics Management]. UPS: 100,000. FedEx: 55,000.

Shipping: “Germany’s vital role in the global maritime world is starting to recede under the changing business of financing ships” [Wall Street Journal]. “Once the world’s predominant shipping lenders, most German banks have abandoned ship finance under the weight of around $100 billion in toxic debt and sold scores of vessels to foreign owners at knock-off prices. Before the financial crisis, some 26% of new ship orders book came from Germany. That has fallen to less than 2.3%, and hundreds of the small-investor groups commonly known as KGs have gone insolvent. Fleet ownership has shifted to Greece, China and Singapore, and the financial business is following in the ships’ wake.”

Supply Chain: “Employee guns down three at Maryland distribution hub before killing herself” [Japan Times]. • I’m surprised there aren’t more episodes of “Going Postal” in the supply chain.

Transportation: “Rolls-Royce Trent engine programme incurs more costs” [Financial Times]. From June, still worth noting: “Rolls-Royce is expected to incur further costs on its troublesome Trent 1000 engine programme, after discovering new issues with the latest variant of the turbine powering Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner… Turbine blades have been corroding and cracking on certain variants of the engine, prompting more frequent shop visits and a huge schedule of repairs…. All of the engine makers are facing difficulties. It seems it is very hard to make the new engines of the last decade meet the simultaneous requirements of emissions, economy and reliability,” [Nick Cunningham, aerospace analyst at Agency Partners] said.” • Emissions, economy and reliability, pick two of three?

The Bezzle: “Fire at U.S. Tesla’s factory in Nevada prompts evacuation” [ECNS]. “A Tesla’s factory building in the state of Nevada was evacuated late Saturday after a large oven used in the manufacturing process caught fire.” • This does keep happening, doesn’t it?

The Bezzle: “Instacart needs to treat its delivery workers ‘much, much better'” [Recode]. “One of the ways Instacart is trying to tackle the problem: It’s building a new support center in Atlanta to take calls from delivery people who run into issues on the job. Mehta says he plans to have 300 people working in the support center when it’s up. ‘When something goes wrong in the store, in the app, outside the customer’s door, they need support,’ he said. ‘They need to be able to call in and make sure there’s someone from Instacart there to help them.'” • Not sure how a support center helps when Instacart messes with tips….

Labor Market: “Army blames strong economy for missing recruiting goal” [ABC News]. “For the first time in thirteen years the Army has failed to meet its annual recruiting goal and Army officials believe the strong U.S. economy is partially to blame. The Army failed to meet its recruiting goal of 76,500 new recruits for fiscal year 2018, bringing in 70,000 recruits — an 8.5 percent shortfall from this year’s goal.” • So, thirteen years of stagnation, then? That seems about right.

Infrastructure: “Gas service could take ‘several months’ to restore in Merrimack Valley” [Boston Globe]. ” Columbia Gas said Thursday that restoration of gas service across the Merrimack Valley could take “several months,” a dark new prediction for local business owners and residents as frustrations continue to grow with the company amid uncertainty over the future.” • That’s nice. In the winter…

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged. [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Seems indeed that 180 is a floor.


“Treating protest as terrorism’: US plans crackdown on Keystone XL activists” [Guardian]. “The government has characterized pipeline opponents like [Angeline Cheek] as ‘extremists’ and violent criminals and warned of potential ‘terrorism’, according to recently released records.The documents suggested that police were organizing to launch an aggressive response to possible Keystone protests, echoing the actions against the Standing Rock movement in North Dakota. There, officers engaged in intense surveillance and faced widespread accusations of excessive force and brutality.”

Health Care

“Iowa Medicaid’s per-member cost increases nearly triple since privatization” [Des Moines Register]. “Since fiscal 2017, the first full year of privatization, the per-member cost of Iowa’s Medicaid program has risen an average of 4.4 percent per year, according to the non-partisan Legislative Services Agency. In the previous six years, the per-member cost rose an average of 1.5 percent per year, the agency said….. Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said in an interview Wednesday she remains confident in the promise of private Medicaid management, despite the new cost numbers. Reynolds said Department of Human Services administrators have assured her part of the explanation for the recent spike in per-member Medicaid costs was bills incurred in past years were being paid in the current budget year.” • No explanation for why this years’s budget would be different from past years’, however. Iowa readers?

Class Warfare

“It’s Down to the Wire in Tense Talks at Health Care Giant Kaiser” [Labor Notes]. “Bargaining between health care giant Kaiser Permanente and a new union alliance representing 38,000 of its employees has come down to the wire…. The unions that split from the Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions this year to form the Alliance of Health Care Unions have emphasized their commitment to continuing a friendly partnership with the employer. But Kaiser’s proposal to eliminate the defined-benefit pension for new hires, Enghouse said, would be a strike issue for OFNHP members. ‘It would be the demise of our union,’ she said. ‘Nope, we’re not falling for that.”” • Good. Two-tier should be opposed where found.

“Accounting for Incorporation: Part I” [Law and Political Economy]. In the early days of the American Republic: “Corporate privilege represented a profound departure from these longstanding background principles of moral and legal responsibility – a departure that only sovereigns or near-soereigns like US states could authorize, and only for reasons of extraordinary necessity. Hence the familiar ring, until relatively recently, of phrases like ‘the [state-conferred] corporate franchise,’ and adages like that pursuant to which corporations are observed to be ‘creatures of the state.’ The corporate privileges were also, again, meant solely to encourage the owners of scarce capital to organize and finance projects for the public good, during a time when capital was indeed scarce and reliable public revenue correspondingly hard to come by. For this very reason, the privileges were operative only insofar as the incorporated entity was actually pursuing such projects. They were, in other words, strictly conditional. And both the state’s Secretary of State and committees of interested citizens had to agree that the conditions were likely to be met before any firm’s corporate charter would be conferred or renewed.”

“Exploitative Revenues, Law Enforcement, and the Quality of Government Service” [Urban Affairs Review]. “A growing body of evidence indicates that local police departments are being used to provide revenue for municipalities by imposing and collecting fees, fines, and asset forfeitures. We examine whether revenue collection activities compromise the criminal investigation functions of local police departments. We find that police departments in cities that collect a greater share of their revenue from fees solve violent and property crimes at significantly lower rates.” • Just as in Ferguson.

News of The Wired

“Disable Google Chrome Sign In and Sync” [IdeaSynthesis]. • Because Chrome 69 automatically logs you into the browser when you log into any Google programs (like Gmail). Google seems to have done this without announcing it, so thank heavens I don’t use any Google programs. The writer: “I can’t speak for anyone else but I personally don’t expect a routine software upgrade to suddenly start uploading passwords somewhere, or copying my passwords onto any random computer I happen to log into.” • Well, yes. More–

* * *

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 (MF):

MF writes: “Bluebells abide in Baker Fork Gorge. Highland County, Ohio, from Spring 2018.”

* * *

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. Another Scott

    So let me understand this correctly, when some Russians buy a few ads after an election on Facebook, it’s a direct attack on our democracy, but the Chinese government is allowed to buy ads six weeks before the midterms and 16 months before the Iowa caucuses directly aimed at changing American policy? Maybe if the Russian provided cheap labor to GE and Walmart, Putin would America’s best friend.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Double agent…reverse psychology…counter-intelligence.

      One of the operations available would be go after Russia, in the most inept ways possible by real Russian agents, in order to get sane people to defend her.

      That’s just standard in any playbook, not that it is in play here.

    2. Bill Smythe

      Exactly this! Chinese government buying ad space to tout Chinese interests with a giant “SPONSORED BY CHINA” on each page…

      … exactly the same as Russian people (not the Government, just some friendly activists), anonymously buying ad space to promote two sides of the same “Heart of Texas” protests.

      When will the lamestream media catch up?

      1. Duck1

        But surely Russia!Russia!Russia! composed and placed the ads (clearly authored by Putin). Who else is capable of being so nefarious and ingenious? Falls on fainting couch, clutching pearls.

      2. knowbuddhau

        What do you mean, “catch up”? Catapulting the propaganda is what they do. You don’t think they’re some sort of public service. do you?

        Also Operation Mockingbird was a thing. Don’t know what they’re calling it now. Hardly matters. From the Maine to Iraq WMD and now R3, the MO is still PSYOP the populace.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      Well, that was Facebook. The Des Moines Register is now owned by Gannett, and they would take ads from anyone so long as there was no nudity or profanity.

      I have never a read a newspaper (NYTimes included) so incredibly full of itself. They get played by politicians constantly yet never seem to have a shortage of political columnists waiting to get played (with the publisher’s approval if not encouragement).

      1. Another Scott

        That makes sense, I never thought of the paper that way, but given the importance created by the caucuses, I can understand how they developed that entitlement. I see some of it talking to people from New Hampshire about their primary, but this makes it even worse, it’s not just people, but the entire systems have that attitude.

        I should probably clarify that I don’t really have much of an issue with the paper running something that was paid for by the Chinese government (or a state-sponsored enterprise), but it really should appear in the opinion section rather than the news.

    4. Jorb

      To be fair, the Russians were allegedly doing this surreptitiously. I’m skeptical of the influence of either, but there is a major distinction in what Russia is alleged to have done.

  2. DonCoyote

    “Majority of 2016 nonvoters wouldn’t vote again in hypothetical rematch”.

    So I don’t know whether to heartened that Jill Stein got 1.5% of the hypothetical re-vote (only got 1.0% of the actual vote), or disheartened because Jill Stein was polling at 2.0% percent in November 2016 (although maybe that was 1.5% rounded up to 2 even then).

    And I have to question the methodology, since the Giant meteor was not on the ballot (see 2016 results below)

    If the choices for President were Democrat Hillary Clinton, Republican Donald Trump, and a Giant Meteor hitting the earth which would you choose?
    Hillary Clinton 43% …………………………………………..
    Donald Trump 38% ………………………………………….
    Giant Meteor hitting the earth 13% …………………….
    Not sure 7%

    1. Carey

      Jill Stein’s official voting tally from the 2016 election always seemed suspiciously low to me. I voted for her, and knew quite a few others who did, too. 1%…. Mmm.

      1. Isotope_C14

        Indeed. I know tons of people who voted green.

        I wonder what the guy who has to flip the votes thinks about “democracy”.

        Check out the Dane county numbers. They don’t even make logical sense. Johnson gets double Stein?

        1. Arizona Slim

          Count me as another Stein voter who knows a lot of other people who voted the same way. I’m not buying that 1% figure. Not for a nanosecond.

            1. Isotope_C14

              Well that sure is a valid critique…

              Green new deal?

              End continuous foreign intervention?

              Legalize the 420?

              End slavery prisons?

              Very “flaky”; whatever that means.

              These are precisely why the dollar dems will continue to lose. They are only visionaries for personal wealth gains. I will vote green or socialist until your ilk get right wing populists forever.

              Keep on flipping those votes. You’ll get the handmaids tale soon enough.

              The radical center, enabling the x-tian right since 1968.

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        Me too. Also, I know this sounds awful, but I haz crush on Dr Jill. Over 70 and youthful, babe even. MD and lifelong Green Party activist, knowing there was no way to cash out from that. Lives her ethics. A worthy leader. Anyone tell me I’m wrong on that?

        1. Carey

          Who benefits from the Greens being seen as “flaky”?

          I voted for Stein because I agreed with most of her platform, particularly the end to USA!’s Perma-Wars, and with the hope that they would reach the 5%
          threshold for Federal matching funds. It’s very hard to believe they did not, given the widespread antipathy to the two brand-name candidates.

          I think Emma Goldman was right.

  3. Carolinian

    This link is a better explanation of the Chrome 69 change.


    The beef is that logging into Gmail via your Chrome browser will now log the browser itself into the Google cloud and share your history etc. Logging out of Gmail will log out of Google syncing. The above link says

    There are three workarounds I can see:

    Open an incognito window every time you want to login to a Google service.
    Toggle the chrome://flags/#account-consistency flag (it’s not clear if this will always be an option).
    Use a different web browser (such as Firefox, Vivaldi, Opera, Pale Moon, Edge, or Safari

    And btw it is possible to use an Android smartphone without a Google account but all apps will have to be “sideloaded” (the .apk packages acquired by using a different Android device or from non Play store sources). You can even use a Chromebook–a very handy piece of hardware–without signing into Google if you dual boot Linux instead. Instructions for this are available on the web.

    1. Grebo

      but all apps will have to be “sideloaded”

      Once you install (from .apk ideally) F-Droid (for FOSS apps) and Yalp Store (for Play Store apps) you can install most other apps through them, no sideloading or Google login required.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Agreed. Much better than the nonstop “We can’t afford Martha McSally!” vs. “Kyrsten Sinema has the phony politician act down pat!” slugfest that I’m seeing on my YouTube.

      Matter of fact, their ads are such a turnoff that I’m planning to vote for None of the Above for Jeff Flake’s Senate replacement.

      1. skippy

        Wellie good to see things have not changed much since my Dobson ranch or pink castle broaching the hill top in Scottsdale days…..

        Funny aside… whilst all the Midwestern or east coasters were moving in I was shipped to finish HS in the sticks of Misery, first day on the school bus and was asked if I was a native American.

        All worth it I guess considering my days of youth on Oak Creek Canyon before it got the treatment.

    2. Wukchumni

      If the to the right of right of right Arizona politician had been named Paul Smith instead, would his siblings have cared as much, or was it guilt by association of having an unusual last name?

    1. Carey

      Thanks for the link to this *outstanding* article:

      “…The clearest demonstration of the political trajectory of the Democratic Party is the array of former CIA agents, military commanders and State Department officials who are its candidates in the congressional districts that the Democrats aim to capture from the Republicans. As an analysis posted Friday on the World Socialist Web Site detailed, in the 115 seats which the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has designated as competitive, 30 are national-security operatives, the largest single group…”

  4. Olga

    Infrastructure: “Gas service could take ‘several months’ to restore in Merrimack Valley” [Boston Globe]. And it keeps happening: there was an explosion in SF, for which Pacific Gas & Electric was let off; Dallas has its issues with Atmos (https://www.dallasnews.com/news/dallas/2018/03/09/atmos-investigated-gas-leaks-night-before-fatal-explosion-didnt-cut-service-evacuate)
    and now Boston… I guess some VIP’s residence will have to get accidentally blown up before any action is taken. Our lives are not safe and no one cares

    1. JohnnySacks

      And our hero governor takes the mess away from Columbia and hands it all over to Eversource, thanks Charlie, I feel better now, that’ll fix it. More profit stripping always works, right? But oh happy day, I picked up my delux 2 burner Black and Decker hot plate to cook on. But not sure I want to let some opportunistic schmuck evaluate my house for the space heater giveaway but I need at least 2 24 amp monsters to plug into 230v dryer plugs, and another 1500 watt heater to plug into every circuit that’s not running 80 year old rubber and fabric insulated cable. The locust contractors are gathering – letting no good disaster go to waste, offering to hook up $600 retail worth of hot water heater, wire, and breakers for the tidy sum of $1800 in homes with gas heaters. I’ve already jumped ours from the tenant’s electric for about $40 and an hour and a half.

      Sigh, rant over, we’ll get past it and in the meantime get a minor taste of the Carolina’s massively worse situation.

      But any terrorist with more brains than it takes to count past 10 with their shoes on must be using this as a teaching moment. Wait for the first cold snap and take out a half dozen switching stations to seal the deal.

  5. Jonathan Holland Becnel

    Re 100 Kegs or Bust

    Ive been to a couple of these Keg parties thrown by prominent local elites for their High School kids. Im from a working class background, didnt drink, and felt like a fish out of water.

    Nevertheless i find myself reframing the Keg parties in light of similarities with Georgetown Prep. My HS n Georgetown Prep are both Jesuit schools.

    As much as i valued my education, i hated my peers as they relentlessly bullied me.

    I hope every Jesuit HS and all these so called elites get called out and forced to confront their behavior.

    Jesuit HS Class of 2002

    1. Wukchumni

      We were never so brave as a kegger-a couple of 6 packs would do, but there was this one liquor store that would sell to anybody as long as they had a pulse, I remember going in one time on roller skates to test the theory, no problemo!

      This was in the late 70’s though, before MADD, and Kavanaugh was almost a teenager.

    2. Ted

      Sooo…. since Lambert brought it up, not sure if folks like Lambert were around as young adults in the early to mid-80s prior to the AIDS epidemic. I was and pretty much the entire college going middle class was attending kegger ragers and having all kinds of sex. I know, I was there. Looking back through the eyes of the “new puritanism” (TM) of the last decade simply mischaracterizes an era of freer sex and more cosmopolitan sexual values that had been relatively normal since the py were rip roaring in the 70s. I have no idea what Kavenaugh was up to as a teenager, neither do you. But I do get what a political weapon any kind of hetero sexuality is in the US today. Given that, just a wee little skepticism might be refreshing.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I was around at that time, well before “party” became a verb, but not in a milieu like Kavanaugh’s. Not that was abstemious; I wasn’t.

        I don’t see a new puritanism at all, or, if so, it’s limited to particular strata in society. Party culture is very much alive and well, and as disgusting and abusive as ever.

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      Both Pat Buchanan and my own inlaws were part of this special corner of the Greater DC swamp. This was the lace curtain Irish Catholic Georgetown establishment who joined the WASP-Germans and the Jews in the postwar civil service/MIC and climbed the ladders of power in both parties.

      Hard headed, hard working, hard drinking and, by the post-Vietnam 1970s malaise, hard bitten and cynical. That generation retired, burnt out, in the ’80s, but their kids, now thoroughly in the local aristo, partied on.

  6. DJG

    “My question is, why on earth didn’t the Federalist Society mavens who created the list of potential Justices see Kavanaugh’s association with Judge as a giant red flag, given Judge’s writing? After all, the Trump administration’s court nominations had been going like clockwork before Kavanaugh, so what changed?”

    Giant question, Lambert. First, let me point out that the Democrats have already allowed dozens of lousy candidates through, largely it seems because no one is suppose to pay attention (that is, none of us groundlings) to the U.S. district court judges. You know, those addle-pates who cannot figure out that the FISA courts are illegal and unconstitutional, or that ICE and TSA engage in cruel and unusual punishment of U.S. citizens (and U.S. citizens have been caught up). But I quibble.

    The answer has to be: Whoever sponsored Kavanaugh and talked ole Brett up to the Donald must have had a reason. I suspect that it may be that Kavanaugh was going to be the vote to overturn Roe. Ironically, of course, it is Kavanaugh the drunken oaf whom the ladies will now do in (although not for all the noble reasons being bruited about). But Kavanaugh, who is so obviously unqualified and such a mistake waiting to upchuck all over everything, must have seemed like the lock on something. And Roe is in greater jeopardy than, say, Citizens United, McDonald v Chicago (guns! lots of ’em!), or any number of anti-labor, anti-union decisions.

    Of course, the despicable Sammy Alito also seemed like a lock on something. Now he mainly seems to be a symbol of our collective stagnation.

    Events have surpassed even the treasured logic of the Federalist Society.

    Or it could be that our elites truly are the bag of knuckleheads that we are pretty sure that they are. And it is likely that when white boys go out looking for other white boys to do a dirty deed, they somehow think that no one can figure them out. Hey, Anthony Kennedy, watch these fancy moves.

    1. dunning kroger

      I love this whole Roe V Wade subject voters are all worked up about . Do voters really believe that politicians who run as democrats care if poor people have access to abortions , or birth control ? If abortion was suddenly made illegal nationwide does anyone think that if some 1%’er got knocked up they would have to give birth if they didn’t feel like it?

      1. JohnnySacks

        Have to differ on that take. Roe v Wade if anything is one thing the majority of Dems are United in support of. It’s a red meat culture war issue gift which keeps on giving which frees them from having to govern on the really big issues.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Except, the GOP has been quite successful in outlawing abortion clinics and largely destroying access to abortion for much of the country. The so called allies have thrown their weight on the White House and “but the Supreme Court” arguments while zoning laws have been used to shut down choice.

        2. Big River Bandido

          Roe v Wade if anything is one thing the majority of Dems are United in support of.

          If Democrats are truly so united in support of abortion rights, it sure is curious how all progress on that front has been going in full reverse — for over 40 years now.

        3. dunning kroger

          sure democrat voters I agree , but the politicians they vote for don’t care about it unless someone hands them money. .

      2. Brooklin Bridge

        does anyone think that if some 1%’er got knocked up they would have to give birth if they didn’t feel like it?

        Back in the ’50s (and this is purely from memory and so subject to considerable error) it was a two or three week trip to Switzerland for “much needed relaxation” or for Asthma or to learn French or German or whatever and yes, it was only the well to do who could afford it (cruse lines were still the predominant means of travel to Europe). Of course everyone knew what the trip was for and even Republicans felt the hypocrisy was stifling. Before abortion was legal, it was less of a partisan thing and more of a class thing, though I could be wrong; I was too young to be aware of much except the wink wink and tittering of my classmates when it was found out that someone’s older sister would be absent for a few weeks.

        But even then I did feel a sort of general non political “mood” against abortion being illegal – a resentment against old attitudes in a modern medical age, or at the very least a generalized sense of resentment that some who preached the virtues of being Lilly white spotless in all things, were sending their daughters off to be fixed up Lilly white again, while those left behind with the same problem had to face a barbaric alternative or child birth and incredibly intense shaming followed by a permanent and nasty stigma, not to mention all the issues of a child raising a child (sometimes mercifully in the more enlightened families). The relatively unprocessed memory of these complex sentiments became more understandable to me as I grew up but now the two have merged.

        I would imagine the fire and brimstone that came more and more to attend abortion after the 70’s could be directly sourced to the Televangelists and their brain washing partnership with the Republicans.

        1. John Zelnicker

          @Brooklin Bridge
          September 24, 2018 at 7:21 pm

          I can confirm your memories.

          There were also some enlightened doctors who would perform a D&C (dilation & curettage) for some of their patients and their daughters.

          It was indeed the Republicans who realized that by using the abortion issue, as well as other social issues, they could manipulate the rubes into voting against their own best economic interests.

        2. Carla

          As a married woman with one child, my late mother-in-law had an abortion in the 1930’s in Cleveland. It was a quietly accepted medical procedure performed by doctors for women (and families) who simply could not afford to raise another child during the Depression. When the war came, with its associated economic boom, she became pregnant and the family happily welcomed another child.

      3. John Zelnicker

        @dunning kroger
        September 24, 2018 at 4:44 pm

        If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade that would not make abortion illegal nationwide. The regulation of abortion would devolve to the states, which is still a horrible result. There would be no appeal for the absurd regulations that conservative states have passed to try to drive abortion providers from their states.

        So, you are correct that the 1% would have no problems, but some women living in more liberally inclined states may be okay, too.

    2. John Zelnicker

      September 24, 2018 at 3:43 pm

      Kavanaugh wrote in 2009 that the President is immune from criminal investigation or prosecution while in office.

      It seems certain to me that any attempt by Mueller to compel an interview with Trump will be challenged by his lawyers all the way to the Supreme Court, a la Nixon.

      If Kavanaugh is on the bench by then, he will just as certainly argue and vote against any attempt to subpoena Trump.

      To me, this is the most obvious reason for Kavanaugh’s nomination and the intense fight to push it through regardless of the credible accusations of sexual assault.

      1. edmondo

        Obama put Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court for the same reason: Her deference to the power of the presidency and Executive power. I am not that confident That Kavenaugh’s vote is that critical if Kagan would vote the same way.

        1. a different chris

          Yes it is. It is not a court case. It is a job application. In the business world, nobody would think twice about deep-sixing a resume if the applicant raised this kind of chatter.

  7. dcblogger

    Amnesty International USA today called on a halt to a vote on President Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States unless and until any information relevant to Kavanaugh’s possible involvement in human rights violations—including in relation to the U.S. government’s use of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, such as during the CIA detention program—is declassified and made public.
    another shot through the hull of an already sinking ship

  8. fresno dan

    “Exploitative Revenues, Law Enforcement, and the Quality of Government Service” [Urban Affairs Review]. “A growing body of evidence indicates that local police departments are being used to provide revenue for municipalities by imposing and collecting fees, fines, and asset forfeitures. We examine whether revenue collection activities compromise the criminal investigation functions of local police departments. We find that police departments in cities that collect a greater share of their revenue from fees solve violent and property crimes at significantly lower rates.” • Just as in Ferguson.
    We find that police departments in cities that collect a greater share of their revenue from fees solve violent and property crimes at significantly lower rates.” LAW AND ORDER…any relationship to justice is purely coincidental OK, my cynicism is not keeping up. Its DESIGNED to be unjust. If justice happens it means somebody f*cked up

    1. JBird4049

      For just the same reason as the rate of autopsies has been declining for over thirty years, effective criminal investigations, arrests, prosecutions, and convictions of actual criminals have been declining for decades, even before and without the added impetus of “law” enforcement for profit, or civil asset forfeitures, as it cost money more. Money best raised through increases in taxes.

      There are a “small” number of serial killers running around in the United States whose existence has been discovered through data crunching by researchers. Most of these murderers are hunting in poorer areas that have the standard underfunded, often corrupt although not always, government and police. In fairness, some murders are hard to solve especially if it is an unidentified person somewhere unconnected to them, who died often weeks, months, or years and done by someone not connected to the victim. The police have to be able to start somewhere. A single or even a handful will not be solved. Only after some thread or pattern that the police can use are some solvable. Serial murders are usually just that that. Once enough bodies are found enough evidence is collected for that thread.

      Some researchers have done, and it’s more than once as I remember, have done just that. Collecting murders from across states and found hundreds of probable victims (it is a number of murderers, over a number of states, done over decades). The various police departments ignored them for the simple reasons of the victims being some combination of one to all of poor, female(usually) nonwhite, addicts/prostitutes, and convicts. As many don’t they are people, and it often cost serious money to investigate serial murders, they think why bother? Just some more trash.

      Also, the lack of funding for enough police, of autopsies, of fully funded competent, uncorrupt crime labs, which mirrors the police, stops the police even when they really want to. A poor town or county in west nowheresville, usually depends on the overworked state or regional labs to do the work, when they can or do feel doing like it. “Hey sheriff we will do a good job on that rush and you should see the results in month. Or two. Trust us.” As much as I dislike the police, sometimes they really are unfairly blamed for what they cannot control.

      Anyways, It’s awfulness like this that makes me annoyed when the War on a Tactic, the War on Some Drugs, even school shootings are brought up. If our nation really gave a Darn about poor Americans we wouldn’t have underfunded police departments stealing billions from them every year, as well as the enthusiastic shootings, beatings, and false arrests, charges, and convictions by the police and the “justice” system while ignoring the many homicides done to them. Or the systemic lead poisoning of poor people and children especially here in the dark heart of our American Empire. Or…


      1. Summer

        If anything, most murders will be discovered to have been committed by a relative (or someone known to the victim).
        Also? there was an article about murder being the 3rd leading cause of death in the workplace with fraud (rather the covering up of fraud) not being tracked as much as disgruntled worker or romantic rejection as culprits.

        1. JBird4049

          Most is the right word. The problem becomes when it is not the routine family, friend, or boss. Or if the police either refuse to do a properly thorough investigation or are not given the resources to do so.

          When something like half, yes half, of murders are never cleared and of far too many of the convicted are innocent, we really have a problem. Homicides have been going down for decades as has the clearance rate and yet as a nation we spend so much money on supposedly keeping us safe. Yet, the Bad People are gonna get us, somewhere, somewhen, and in someway. When can’t tell you, but they willllll! Give us more money! Does anyone feel safe or have any confidence of anything in whole police/Homeland Security theatre? In this shtick?

  9. paulmeli

    No explanation for why this years’s budget would be different from past years’, however.

    Accounting magic from prior budgets coming home to roost would be my guess.

    The way virtually every privatization scam ends up.

    1. Procopius

      What I learned from maintaining computers: If the computer stops working, the first thing to do is find out what changed. In this story it seems clear that what changed was privatization. The increases were 1.4%, and when the administration was privatized the increases became 3.3%? Yes, it could be accounting magic going away, but how Branstadt cam believe a profit-making entity with higher overhead is going to be cheaper is puzzling.

  10. Pavel

    Is that Michelle Obama urging people to vote the same person who hugged war criminal and torturer George W. Bush, previously attacked by Dems as one of the worst presidents in history? Just asking.

    And they wonder why people don’t vote.

    1. Plenue

      Part of me is disappointed to see Janelle Monae taking part in this nonsense.

      Not at all surprised to see Lin-Manuel Miranda carrying water for the Dems though. That guy is a real piece of work.

      1. Summer

        Lin-Manuel Marinda’s next musical…”Wilson”…celebrating the icing on the cake bankstanomics of Woodrow Wilson.

    2. Big River Bandido

      combat ambivalence and cynicism in the electorate.

      Ah yes…cynicism and ambivalence. As if there were no real cause for either one. Jesus, these people are tone-deaf. (Yes, the songwriter, too.)

      1. Carey

        They know. It’s the Few having some fun trolling us, again.

        Vote™ CIA Democrats 2018 for a better life!


  11. John Beech

    In reference to Senator Bernie Sanders and the USA Today article there was a snippet of text at the end, which states . . . “You show Bernie the way out of the austerity box (MMT) but he just won’t take it…. ”

    Presuming MMT stands for Modern Monetary Theory, I am perplexed. Look, I’m a long-time Republican voter and I fail to see anything wrong with his proposal for eliminating the earnings cap on Social Security taxes. Frankly, it’s my opinion . . . for a guy like Jeff Bezos to be paying about the same in SS taxes as a guy earning $128,400 is not just unfair, it nuts! Hell, it’s immoral. Here’s how it works right now;

    For 2018, the social security tax rate works out to 12.4% – split evenly between you and your employer. Thus, you pay 6.2% and your employer pays 6.2%. However, in their wisdom, Congress gave those earning more than $128.400 a break and ‘capped’ their rate and thus;

    Citizen A earns $32,100 and pays 12.4% into SS (split equally between him and his employer) meaning he kicks in $1990.20 and his company kicks in $1990.20 for a total of 12.4% = $3980.40.

    Citizen B earns twice as much – $64,200 – and pays the same 12.4% into SS. Thus, he and his employer both kick in the same 6.2% ($3980.40 each) for a total of 12.4% = $7960.80 . . . or twice as much.

    Citizen C earns $128,400 (4X as much as Citizen A) and pays 4X as much in tax, e.g. $15,921.60

    But Congress has been bought and Citizen D gets special treatment. He makes 400X as much as Citizen A or $128,000,000/year ($128M) and his purchase of a Congressman entitles him a break called a ‘cap’. What it means is he only pays the same $15,921.60 as the guy who made $128,400 . . . go figure!

    Thus, it’s my view Senator Sander’s argument holds water for the same reason you, me, and Jeff Bazos pay the same 7% sales tax when we buy a pair of socks! Either we’re all equal under the law, or we’re not!

    I said it wasn’t fair, and I said it wasn’t morals. First, you tell me what’s fair about a guy $32K, $64K, and $128K paying in 12.4% while a guy making $128M only pays in 0.000124%? Riddle me that!

    And it’s not moral when there are old folks trying to get by on a lousy $13,000/year when eliminating the cap would instantly put them at $26,000/year . . . which still isn’t the lap of luxury but at least means you won’t see 80 y/o women pulling a full shift standing on their feet working as cashiers at Walmart!

    And we already recognize this is the tax code because income is taxed on a progressive scale. E.g. the more you earn, the higher the percentage you pay. SS taxes shouldn’t be capped. Heck, maybe they shouldn’t be a straight line of 12.4% but beyond $128,400 they should be progressively higher also.

    1. JBird4049

      All this is true, and to most people regardless of their politics would at least respect, if not agree with it. But many at the top don’t care about and do not want a fair system. They just want as much as they can take regardless of the results. If it means that the world burns, why should they care? Too many don’t even seem to care for their own families.

    2. voteforno6

      Your argument is sound, as far as basic issues of fairness, though. The problem with Sanders’ approach, I think, is that it’s being pitched, at least in part, as a way to “shore up” the finances of Social Security. From an MMT perspective, that’s not even an issue. The most logical solution would be for Congress to eliminate the requirement that Social Security is only “paid for” out of payroll taxes.

      1. Elizabeth Burton

        How many people in the US have even heard of MMT, much less know what it means and how it works? It seems to me too many fall into the trap of the over-educated, but which I mean they reach a point of knowledge on a subject where they come to view everything from the perspective of that level of knowledge.

        Bernie’s proposal will make sense to the vast majority of voters who still think the government has to make enough tax revenue before it can pay for stuff. They aren’t interested in economic theories and will go glassy-eyed, for the most part, if one tries to make them listen to any. We’re also talking about generations of people beaten constantly about the heads and shoulders with the double bludgeons of “national debt!!!” and “national deficit!!”.

        And then there’s the whole psychological point of making people pay their fair share, which will resonate all the way down to the ground with most people. After all, isn’t that the line the neoliberals use to keep getting re-elected—that immigrants and poor people are getting more than they’re giving?

        We don’t have time right now to re-educate the entire US public. We have 42 days to convince enough people to vote to at least put some brakes on the downward slide, because corporate Dems do have a reputation to uphold. They mostly don’t deserve it, but they and their high-paid consultants are starting to get the message they need to at least make progressive-sounding noises if the want to beat the other guys.

        1. John Merryman

          I think MMT is still a bit of a black box, an attempt to reverse engineer the concept of money.

          Logically money originated as forms of voucher systems, as societies grew to large for organic reciprocity to function. Michael Hudson has offered examples of this, such as clay tablets as receipts for grain in the community granary, being traded around. Which makes money a contract holding large societies together, that individuals experience as a commodity in and of itself.
          I think if we better understand the nature and function of money as a contract, given it is largely assumed to be a commodity to be mined from society, it would go a long ways toward solving some economic issues.
          For one thing, by saving it, we do pull it from circulation and that enables the powers that be to just add more notes, with no real value backing them and then the entire economy devolves into a casino, as we all try to collect and leverage these notes, irrespective of how much damage it does to society and the environment.
          Econ 101 teaches us that money is a medium of exchange, store of value and price setting mechanism. In reality a medium and a store are two seriously different things. For instance, in your body, blood is the medium and fat is the store. Or for cars, roads are the medium and parking lots are the store. Can you sense why mixing them up might cause problems?
          Given we all mostly save for the same general reasons, from raising children and housing to healthcare and retirement, if these could be invested in as community assets and not trying to save for them individually, with a bank account as our economic umbilical cord, we would take a lot of power back from the financial system and focus more on healthy societies and the environments they require.

          1. Heraclitus

            My view is that the payroll tax is too high. Startup businesses have to make a lot quickly, because the payroll tax, in combination with regressive state income taxes, can easily take 25% of the first dollar of taxable income.

        2. Plenue

          Sanders biggest campaign mistake in my view was not using the opportunity to put MMT in front of the American people. Throw it out there and let the ‘fact-checkers’ choke and sputter. He was well aware of it then, and he is now. He had Stephanie Kelton advising him.

          He helped to force other issues, chiefly Medicare for All, out of the fringe and into mainstream discussion. He could have, and should have, done the same for MMT. Just getting it out there and in the popular imagination would go a long way towards countering the insipid ‘but how ya gonna pay for it??’ arguments against any proposal like Medicare for All.

          As is he’s still talking about taxes as if they pay for anything, and we have to listen to Jimmy Dore talk about the ‘petro-dollar’ and Tulsi Gabbard talk about how we shouldn’t spend trillions on wars because we should spend that ‘tax-payer money’ on domestic needs. Which we should, but there isn’t some giant pile of money we can only spend on one thing or the other that we’re just shoving at the Pentagon.

          What a waste Sanders, what a waste.

        3. Brooklin Bridge

          ++: The best short description of what the average person would feel (right now) about MMT that I have read.

          MMT and general public acceptance is a long term investment. Agreed that Sanders and others should introduce the concept as part of a larger initiative, but not tie it to their specific policy recommendations.

          Also, that is something they might do rather than tie down to their platform until the reality of it is stronger than the deeply rooted prejudices you enumerate so well.

  12. clarky90

    Re “…watching the unmasking of the actions of one official after another at the FBI, CIA and DOJ…”

    The Degeneration of the Soviet Secret Police; From Guardians to Executioners


    For history buffs. This article is from the POV of the Trotskyites. I was watching a YouTube that said that Joseph Stalin took over the USSR by gaining control of the Secret Police, and then having them round up and murder the Soviet 0.01%. The Secret Police also randomly murdered millions of citizens, just to be certain that they hadn’t missed killing or enslaving one solitary, dangerous “wrecker”.

    This is the best article I could find at short notice. I disagree that the CHEKA were ever “guardians”. IMO, they were murderous/psychopathic thugs from the outset.

    “Dzerzhinsky’s successor, Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, was not originally part of Stalin’s faction. During the civil war he had visited Trotsky at the front and warned him that Stalin was conducting ‘‘a very complicated intrigue’’ against him…… he (Menzhinsky) was a machine man who lacked the political authority of Dzerzhinsky, and often acquiesced to Stalin’s intrigues.

    Under Menzhinsky, in the fall of 1927, the GPU (CHEKA, NKVD, KGB- The Soviet Secret Police) began to play a larger role in the internal factional disputes in the party. When Stalin wanted Trotsky and Zinoviev expelled from the Central Committee in October 1927, Menzhinsky obligingly produced a report implicating them in a non-existent military plot involving a White officer who was, in fact, a GPU operative. ……

    With Menzhinsky gone, effective control of the GPU was in the hands of his deputy, Henrikh Yagoda. Yagoda, who had originally supported Bukharin in the intra-party faction fight, was a crude, unsophisticated careerist. However, he was also efficient, energetic, and ambitious; and he would—within limits—do what he was told….

    The Kirov Assasination and the Great Purge Trials

    The assassination of Sergei Kirov on 1 December 1934 provided a pretext for unleashing a wave of purges in which millions of Soviet citizens perished. …. Kirov, an Old Bolshevik who had supported Stalin in the factional struggles of the 1920s, was considered a liberal within the bureaucracy…..

    A large section of the party tops were worried that Stalin had concentrated too much power in his own hands….”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I am reminded of the novel Master and Margarita, written between 1928 and 1940, when Stalin reigned, and how characters in it suddenly began to disappear.

  13. Heraclitus

    I am a graduate of St. John’s College. It is non-denominational, and is a college, not a prep school.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Here is the full paragraph from WaPo:

      The big houses were perfect for large Catholic families, and the lives of kids and parents alike revolved around a core set of institutions — parishes such as Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac and Blessed Sacrament in upper Northwest Washington, and the private Catholic high schools within easy reach, such as St. John’s College, Georgetown Visitation, Stone Ridge and Georgetown Prep.”

      There is a St. John’s College High School in Washington, DC, to which the article doubtless refers.

    2. Democrita

      Hi Heraclitus! I went to SJC too. The question is, which one? There are actually a few in the US and worldwide. I assume you mean the Annapolis/Santa Fe Great Books school, recently featured in a Frank Bruni column. Ta kala!

  14. Big River Bandido

    Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds said in an interview Wednesday she remains confident in the promise of private Medicaid management, despite the new cost numbers. Reynolds said Department of Human Services administrators have assured her part of the explanation for the recent spike in per-member Medicaid costs was bills incurred in past years were being paid in the current budget year.” • No explanation for why this years’s budget would be different from past years’, however. Iowa readers?

    Something there doesn’t sound right. The Iowa constitution forbids the state from running a budget deficit.

  15. Andrew Watts

    RE: Donald Trump’s Rosenstein dilemma

    Can anybody tell me what the difference between the deep state and the state? Anytime somebody attempts to explain what exactly the deep state is they merely end up defining the state. The bureaucracies typically listed are merely manifestations and representatives of state power. I don’t want to nerd out on political philosophy but I’m happy to see the pluralist view of the state debunked in this specific instance.

    The pluralist philosophers view the state as a neutral body that enacts the will of the party who is usually the winner of the electoral process. These state institutions exist and are organized to assist and implement policy. Most Marxists view the state as the prime suppressor of the class struggle. If you consider the election of Trump as a sociopolitical change that deviates away from the neoliberal consensus then the Marxist view is the correct one. It just isn’t a class struggle between the bourgeois and proles.

    It’s a bourgeois civil war.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      In the case of the “deep state” or at least the “deep state” I perceive, the state is three branches, the laws, the regulatory structure, etc, but the “deep state” is a bit different and represents the individuals especially the more senior individuals who either hoped to cash out or get a cool promotion on the way to a political career.

      November 2016 was a huge deal. The entire “deep state” along with their compatriots and other industries very publicly supported HRC. Despite Trump even being denounced by his own party leadership after the ET tape, Trump became President.

      The structures are heavily dominated by the Democratic and Republican parties who are dominated by the Clinton Family and the Bush family along with Newt’s Young Turks. They’ve assisted in promotions through all kinds of sectors. The most marketable asset a career civil servant might have is a connections to a President or the notion they have some kind control over the electorate that they can sell. When we compare the dearth of youth support for Hillary through two primaries and the GOP’s standing among young people well before Trump, these politicos, strategists, high level bureaucrats, and so forth hold less sway and importance than was previously thought. Again, these people couldn’t beat Trump and often seemed disconnected from the demands of average Americans.

      Nepotism is the next part. Instead of promoting meritocracy, we get Presidential elections which feature the son of a President and the son of a Senator, who happened to win in both father’s old seats. This might always be the case, but the relative homogenization and rapid ability to cross the country has created a homogenized elite. There won’t be a chance for an FDR to develop and incubate.

      In short, the deep state is the groups of individuals who hold their positions and hoped for pay offs based on perceived electoral appeal which is what donors want. In the case of neocons, its policy payoffs. They want people who would be amenable to implementing their agenda versus necessary talent or new ideas. After all, Bill Kristol has all the insane ideas already.

      If Trump can’t be defeated by them, the big donors who aren’t paying that much attention might start to look at their results. Does Paul Krugman bring readers to the NYT or does the column space give Krugman readers? The leaker of the ET tape was a Bush cousin.

      1. Carolinian

        The so-called Deep State is the ruling class. Since most of them attend the ivy league they think alike and perhaps that is the point of the ivy league (our “playing fields of Eaton”–training for Empire). This is a gross generalization of course, but probably less so than it once was. The increasing emphasis on meritocracy–success within the system–is a way of filtering out the misfits.

        So “classless” America is becoming more of a class society like Britain. Indeed the upper class of both countries seem joined at the hip. Perhaps we should just adopt them–take that Revolutionary War thing full circle.

        Democracy is the enemy of this arrangement as it is for the Corbyn hating English deep state. Unfortunately for the aristocrats history doesn’t seem to be on their side. What will follow is a big mystery.

    2. ChrisPacific

      Here is my attempt at defining it from a few weeks back: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2018/09/200pm-water-cooler-9-6-2018.html#comment-3022258

      In brief, it’s people across government acting in similar/correlated ways out of a strong set of shared (and largely unconscious) beliefs, that collectively gives the impression that there is some kind of shadowy cabal or conspiracy directing their actions.

      Everyone tends to have a different idea of what it is, but they are mostly trying to answer the same question: how is it that the executive branch can appear to be broadly and consistently acting against the interests of the President, when they are all part of the hierarchy and theoretically exist to carry out his instructions? (And could even be fired for not doing so, in many cases). The fact that this seems to happen so consistently leads many to believe there must be some kind of conspirators orchestrating it all. While this may be true, I argue that it’s not a necessary condition for this kind of thing to exist.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Everyone tends to have a different idea of what it is,

        That’s why it’s so viral. “Deep” sounds profound, and the very lack of clear definition allows it to proliferate widely, since it can be used for any purpose.

    3. VietnamVet

      There needs to be more discussion of class and money in America. The top 10% are treading water with 1% paddling ahead. The oligarchs are raking it in, hand over foot. 90% are taking a dive. Donald Trump is an oligarch but with only his family and hanger-ons who were fingered for investigation. There is no deep state as such. It is the best of the 10% climbing upwards by networking with ruling Oligarchs. This is the only way of getting ahead in today’s corrupt off-shored financialized new world order. They have to believe the propaganda. Donald Trump revulsion results from the denial that they are toadies to the rich, ugly and powerful.

    4. Massinissa

      The problem with the term ‘deep state’ is that not only do people argue whether or not it exists, people also argue what the term even means. Maybe we should stick to things we know about without having to blindly speculate, or at least stick to well defined terms

    5. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Can anybody tell me what the difference between the deep state and the state?

      The “deep state” is an incredibly sloppy concept that should never be used (see here and here). I kinda threw in the towel on policing usage after Glenn Greenwald used it, but I’ve never changed my view.

      I think “ruling class” will do just fine.

      1. gepay

        While the deep state is an ill defined term – deep politics from Peter Dale Scott can be easily seen. Look at Chicago where Obama came from: Ovid Demaris ‘Captive City’

        From the moment of its incorporation as a city in 1837, Chicago has been systematically seduced, looted, and pilloried by an aeonian horde of venal politicians, mercenary businessmen, and sadistic gangsters. Nothing has changed in more than a century and a half. The same illustrious triumvirate performs the same heinous disservices and the same dedicated newspapers bleat the same inanities. If there has been any change at all, it has been within the triumvirate itself.
        In the beginning, the dominant member was the business tycoon, whether it be in land speculation, railroads, hotels, meat packing, or public utilities, Pirates like Potter Palmer, Phillip Armour, George Pullman, Charles T. Yerkes, and Samuel Insull fed the city with one hand and bled it dry with the other.
        Around the turn of the century, with the population explosion out of control, the politician gained the upper hand over his partners in the coalition. It remained for the gangster to complete the circle in 1933 following the murder of Mayor Cermak. Today it is nearly impossible to differentiate among the partners – the businessman is a politician – the politician is a gangster – the gangster is a businessman.
        Not too much different at the national level and then on to the international level.
        Lambert is quite right that the Powers That Be are pluralistic. There is no small group like the “Illuminati” running the world. Or the small national state of Israel running things as outlined in “The Protocols of Zion”. There certainly was a British Empire that ran a large portion of the world. It was run mainly for a small number of aristocrat families (with British citizens getting the door prizes just like American workers used to get when there was a Soviet Union). It is true that the banksters (where it is true that among the richest and powerful are outproportionally from their small population size – Jewish) these days have the biggest scam going in plain site. And there certainly is an industrial military complex now with the intelligence agencies added running American foreign policy and making the US military their bitch enforcer for the elites. We can easily see there was a portion of the elites allied around using the the Clinton- Bush families as fronts who got beaten by the billionaires behind Trump. They are not happy. If we pay attention, we can learn some things as they fight.
        It’s a big world so there are many power centers. Technology and fossil fuels have made the pie bigger so their are layers and layers of macroparasites feeding on the body of the regular people who do the real work and create the real wealth. Queen Elizabeth is still one of the richest women in the world as a member of the oldest layer in this cycle.

  16. Summer

    Given that “party culture” persists to this day? Aided and abetted by parents and schools, as the “100 Kegs or Bust” story makes clear?”

    That’s why those “hook-up culture” articles of the past few years left me wondering what world the writers thought we lived in…as if it was new because youth hooked via a different method.

  17. Carla

    “Accounting for Incorporation: Part I” [Law and Political Economy]. In the early days of the American Republic: “Corporate privilege represented a profound departure from these longstanding background principles of moral and legal responsibility – a departure that only sovereigns or near-sovereigns like US states could authorize, and only for reasons of extraordinary necessity.”

    Thank you for posting this, Lambert! More Americans need to know this vital history.

    1. JTMcPhee

      What was it the corporate rule said? “History is bunk!”

      What counts, and rules, is what the power and “legitimacy” and immortality of corporate tructures have become.

      Good luck putting that evil genie back in the bottle.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Army blames strong economy for missing recruiting goal”

    Those recruits taking their oaths at half-time in a football game. Is that a common thing to happen?

  19. Harold

    Isn’t St. John’s a small liberal arts college whose curriculum is based entirely on reading and discussion of “Great Books”? Not seemingly a likely “party school”.

    1. teri

      Yes, St. John’s College is a liberal arts college in Annapolis using what they call the Great Books curriculum. It has no religious affiliation whatsoever. Founded in 1696 under the name “King William’s School” and changed the name with their charter in 1784. They have a second campus in Santa Fe, opened in 1964, which offers a grad program.

      The kids do not pick a major, they all study the same curriculum, which is based on the books that established the disciplines of math, history, law, economics, literature, music, etc. All the kids study Greek and French so that past masters who wrote in these languages can be read in the original.

      The WaPo article that Lambert links to in today’s Water Cooler is no doubt referring to St. John’s College High School in Washington DC. This is a private Catholic high school and has no connection to St. John’s College; the author of the WaPo article should have used the full name of the high school.

      1. a different chris

        So Saint John’s College has no religious affiliation whatsoever… and St John’s College High School has no connection to any college.

        No wonder our elites come out so (family blog)’d up. :D

  20. Kim Kaufman

    “My question is, why on earth didn’t the Federalist Society mavens who created the list of potential Justices see Kavanaugh’s association with Judge as a giant red flag, given Judge’s writing? After all, the Trump administration’s court nominations had been going like clockwork before Kavanaugh, so what changed?”

    My understanding is that McConnell didn’t want to go with Kavanaugh because he saw the problems. Trump wanted him.

  21. Roland


    The dislike of most of the 1% for Trump is sort of like the split in the Roman Republic’s elite between the boni and the populares.

    Trump is one of the populares–a member of the elite whose makes his bid for political power by appealing to the growing numbers of downwardly mobile citizens. Naturally, the boni can’t stand the guy.

    Even though they’re members of the same elite, their factional rivalries can become murderous.

    1. Conrad

      Ohhh I like this. Trump as Clodius or Marius? The Kennedies were the brothers Gracchi. Who will play Sulla or Caesar?

  22. Procopius

    My question is, why on earth didn’t the Federalist Society mavens who created the list of potential Justices see Kavanaugh’s association with Judge as a giant red flag, given Judge’s writing?

    I would swear I have seen comments that Leonard Leo, the founder and current head of the Federalist Society is good friends with Judge and Kavanaugh. Maybe he felt that things had been going so well that it was time for him to get a reward by doing something for his friends. I’ve also seen a comment that Judge’s lawyers announced to the press that he’s a recovering alcoholic and please be gentle with him. Now I know what the phrase “recovering alcoholic” means and my guess is that his “bottom” must have been very bad. I wish him the best of luck in continuing his sobriety, if this story is true. Has anybody inquired about Kavanaugh’s current drinking practices? From the anecdotes being turned up it appears that in high school and college he displayed a marked character change when he drank, which is often a symptom of alcoholism (definitely NOT dispositive, at most suggestive).

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