2:00PM Water Cooler 9/25/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“U.S. Braces For Price Pain As Trade War Escalates” [Safe Haven]. “The trade war just got real, with the official imposition of $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods just after midnight last night, followed by Beijing’s immediate retaliation of levies on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods. It means that a massive line-up of goods from China will see a 10-percent tariff staring today, which will increase to 25 percent by 1 January 2019…. The next phase in this trade war might see low-to-middle income voters (Trump’s key base) taking a major hit with higher consumer prices, translating into more potential defeat in November for Republicans.” • I 41 days?

“The biggest impact in the burgeoning trans-Pacific trade battle may come in the most obscure corners of supply chains. …. China’s role as a major supplier of industrial chemicals may play an important role in the outcome of the U.S.-China trade conflict. China is a critical supplier of fluorine salts and carbonate esters used in electric-car batteries, for instance” [Wall Street Journal]. “The chemicals are among nearly 300 that were given waivers from the latest round of 10% levies the U.S. imposed on some $200 billion in Chinese imports, highlighting how China has become an outsize global producer of obscure industrial commodities that American companies have come to rely on. Relief from the headaches of higher import costs has also gotten more expensive: China, it turns out, supplies 90% of the world’s ibuprofen.”



41 days until Election Day. 41 days is a long time in politics (as we are seeing right now with Kavanaugh and Rosenstein).

UPDATE WI-01: More family conflict (edmondo):

Bright college days:

Bottom line from Kavanaught’s roommate at Yale: “Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.” Now, if that’s the baseline, enforcing it would cut a wide swath through official Washington, not necessarily a bad thing. And who would step into the vacated positions? Well, the Clinton campaign and its associated networks, for one. Forgive my skepticism that much would change for the better on policy….

UPDATE “‘How’d you find me?’: Mark Judge has been holed up in a beach house in Delaware amid a media firestorm” [WaPo]. “On Monday, a Washington Post reporter found Judge holed up in the house of a longtime friend in Bethany Beach, nearly three hours away. A car in the driveway contained piles of clothing, a collection of Superman comics and a package addressed to Judge at the Potomac home where he lived three years ago. ‘How’d you find me?’ he said. The reporter gestured to the car packed with belongings. Judge declined to comment further.” • Eesh. There but for the grace of God

New Cold War

“Robert Mueller is playing a long game on the Russia investigation, and it’s paying off” [USA Today]. “President Donald Trump’s legal team appears to have won a victory. Special counsel Robert Mueller has agreed to let Trump provide answers in writing, instead of in a personal interview, to questions concerning his campaign’s contacts with Russia. But far from a defeat for Mueller, this is part of a carefully considered approach that has been repeatedly vindicated…. While the president’s revolving door of lawyers has been occupied protecting the president from himself, Mueller has been playing the long game. What Trump’s legal team considers a victory is a deliberate strategy by Mueller to continue kicking the can down the road and making sure the investigation — and his and Rosenstein’s jobs — survive the process.” • So, will Mueller finish up by 2020?

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “The Next Step for #MeToo Is Into the Gray Areas” [Jezebel]. A long form piece that contextualizes the Kavanaugh matter. Two passages caught my eye. First, “For the first time in history, it became, ostensibly, the mainstream inclination to believe the victims’ stories about sexual assault and harassment.” Of course, in some contexts, this claim is simply not true; the Emmett Till case was quite mainstream. Second: “The United States Government Office on Women’s Health defines sexual coercion as ‘unwanted sexual activity that happens when you are pressured, tricked, threatened, or forced in a nonphysical way. Coercion can make you think you owe sex to someone. It might be from someone who has power over you, like a teacher, landlord, or a boss. No person is ever required to have sex with someone else.'” (Let me say, in case it’s not clear, that one reason I loathe party culture is that it’s a vector for coercive sex.) #MeToo, so far as I can tell, seeks to regulate sexual activity within existing power structures by, among other methods, changing the evidentiary standards for coercion. Given that existing standards do not seem to have served women well, that could be a good thing (or not). Do note, however, that “inclination to believe the victims’ stories” inverts the hitherto usual burden of proof, and so if this new standard is codified, it will be interesting to see to what new areas of jurisprudence it migrates; not all will be progressive. Because #MeToo takes today’s power structure — “teacher, landlord, or a boss” — as a given, it’s a typically liberal approach. Among 9.9% — the professional classes among whom the Kavanaugh matter is playing out — it may be that the reputational damage #MeToo can inflict on (male, or not) elite malefactors will be sufficient to minimize coercive sex. I doubt very much that much will be done for the working class, because the power imbalance between worker and boss is so very great.

“The CIA Democrats and the US midterm elections” [WSWS (jo6pac)]. “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. With only two exceptions, the CIA Democrats are not drawn from among the rank-and-file soldiers who comprised the bulk of those sent as cannon fodder to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and came back, in many cases, damaged in mind and body, and hostile to the wars in which they fought. Thirteen had roles as intelligence agents, war planners or diplomatic apologists for war. Fifteen were officers in the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines—commanders, captains, majors, a lieutenant-colonel.” • Hard to believe that the DCCC could outdo its efforts with the Blue Dogs in 2006, but never underestimate the Democrats. I wonder if they’ll form a caucus?

“Brett Kavanaugh and the Supreme Court’s looming legitimacy crisis” [Vox]. “The American public has long had a deep and abiding faith in the Supreme Court as the last say in our public legal disputes. This faith survived controversial cases, like Roe v. Wade and Bush v. Gore; it survived divisive nomination processes, like the Senate’s rejection of Robert Bork and Anita Hill’s harassment allegations against Clarence Thomas.” • Unfortunately for the thesis of the article, it includes a chart that shows this claim is false. I’ve annotated it:

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, September 2018: “expanded at a more robust pace than expected” [Econoday]. “[E]mployment… deviated from usual strength exhibited in previous months by falling…. [C]apital expenditures rose.” And: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories significantly accelerated. This was a stronger report than last month” [Econintersect]. And: “So far the regional surveys for September have indicated solid growth” [Calculated Risk].

Consumer Confidence, September 2018: “Headline strength is spectacular in the consumer confidence report yet the details won’t be lifting expectations for the September employment report” [Econoday]. “[T]hose who say jobs are hard to get increased, not decreased.” And: “Consumer confidence has been on a multi-year upswing – and this upswing is roughly correlating with increases in consumer spending” [Econintersect].

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, July 2018: “Case-Shiller’s data continue to point to very soft price traction in home prices” [Econoday]. “[T]he clear trend — which is slowing growth. However strong the 2018 economy may be, it doesn’t include home prices which are a central source of household wealth.” And: “In real terms, prices are back to mid 2004 levels, and the price-to-rent ratio is back to late 2003, early 2004” [Calculated Risk].

FHFA House Price Index, July 2018: “Weakness in home prices is becoming a central negative for the 2018 economy” [Econoday]. “[W]eakness for a housing sector that increasingly appears to be a drag on overall economic growth.”

Retail: “How we became our own logistics managers” [Supply Chain Dive]. “Peeking at the shipment information not only confirms our ownership but allows us to shepherd our purchase until it hits the front door… [T]racking keeps us engaged in the shopping experience and offers an alternative to the instant gratification of making a purchase at the big box store. Online buying lacks the hands-on experience of traditional shopping. Tracking allows us to virtually bring our purchases home by knowing where they are at all times, compounding the psychological experience with the financial control we also seek.” • I’m sure this is true, a little recognized allure of e-commerce.

Retail: “Walmart Inc.’s efforts to build up its blockchain initiative will go through the retailer’s produce aisles. The company is directing suppliers of lettuce, spinach and other greens to join its food-tracking blockchain by January 31…, and wants logistics providers, farmers and other participants in its food supply chain to join the blockchain by Sept. 30, 2019” [Wall Street Journal]. “The directive marks perhaps the strongest move yet to push blockchain technology into a broad, multi-user supply chain, and Walmart’s outsize role in grocery sales is likely to draw a broad range of suppliers and even retailing competitors into the effort….The idea is to improve food safety by more quickly and accurately pinpointing sources of contamination in supply chains, but that means getting suppliers to sign on.”

Shipping: “FTR reports highest Trucking Conditions Index reading since early 2004” [Logistics Management]. “Trucking conditions for the month of July represented the strongest for the sector going back to early 2004, according to the most recent edition of the Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) from freight transportation consultancy FTR… With the current level of the TCI, FTR said it is likely the index has peaked, with subsequent moderation likely over the rest of 2018.

Tech: “This Dumb Industry: Telltale Autopsy” [Twenty-Sided]. “[I]t sounds like Telltale… were dysfunctional in the traditional sense of making lousy business decisions, but they were also dysfunctional in the more specific sense of being run by one or more jerks.” Lessons learned: “Rapid growth harms the culture of creative endeavors. It’s one thing if you make lawn chairs or frozen pizzas. If you’re just churning out identical consumer goods then growth is as easy as opening another factory and hiring people to run the machinery. But if you make movies, television shows, comic books, or videogames, then your “product” is not a physical good. People don’t buy movies because they want a plastic disc. People don’t buy comic books because they need some cheap paper and a couple of staples. Your product is the creative output of your employees. You need to grow slowly so the sensibilities and techniques of your initial successful team can be absorbed by newcomers. If you double or triple the size of your team in the space of a couple of years, then you’re getting bigger at the expense of diluting your talent. This is particularly true in the case of writers because…. Writers are not interchangeable.”

Tech: “Why building your own Deep Learning Computer is 10x cheaper than AWS” [Medium]. “Building is 10x cheaper than renting on AWS / EC2 and is just as performant.” • You pay for convenience…

Honey for the Bears: “Global Kuehne + Nagel Indicators Signal Cooling Down of Global Economy” [Logistics Management]. “The gKNi World Trade Indicator registered 139.7 points at the end of August, 1.3% lower compared to the previous month and 7.5% higher than in August 2017. Analysts added that the data indicates that trade disputes are beginning to hit the real economy. Exports of the emerging markets are shrinking at a higher pace.”

Heatlh Care

“Pills for appendicitis? Surgery often not needed, study says” [Associated Press]. “The results from Finland contradict decades of thinking about the best way to treat an inflamed appendix. The condition has long been thought to be a medical emergency because of the risk for a burst appendix, which can be life-threatening. But advances in imaging tests make it easy to determine which patients face that danger. The study in 500 adults found that nearly two-thirds of patients treated with antibiotics fared well after five years. About one-third had another case of appendicitis and had surgery to take out their appendix.” • Sometimes, there actually is progress….

The 420

“Seattle judges throw out 15 years of marijuana convictions” [BBC]. “Judges in Seattle have decided to quash convictions for marijuana possession for anyone prosecuted in the city between 1996 and 2010. City Attorney Pete Homes asked the court to take the step ‘to right the injustices of a drug war that has primarily targeted people of colour.’ Possession of marijuana became legal in the state of Washington in 2012.” • Should be nation-wide.

Class Warfare

“No class action for unhappy Uber drivers: U.S. appeals court” [Reuters]. “Uber Technologies Inc won a legal victory on Tuesday as a federal appeals court said drivers seeking to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors must arbitrate their claims individually, and not pursue class-action lawsuits…. Uber’s defense got a boost after the U.S. Supreme Court, in Epic Systems Corp v Lewis, ruled 5-4 in May that companies could compel workers to waive their right to class actions and instead pursue arbitration for various workplace disputes. In Tuesday’s decision, Circuit Judge Richard Clifton said arbitration was necessary in light of the Epic ruling, as well a 9th Circuit ruling from 2016 in another case against Uber.”

“Do Female Officers Improve Law Enforcement Quality? Effects on Crime Reporting and Domestic Violence” [The Review of Economic Studies]. Abstract only, sadly: “Along these two key dimensions, we find that female officers improved police quality. Crime victimization data reveal that as female representation increases among officers in an area, violent crimes against women in that area, and especially domestic violence, are reported to the police at significantly higher rates. There are no such effects for violent crimes against men or from increases in the female share of civilian police employees. Furthermore, increases in female officer shares are followed by significant declines in rates of intimate partner homicide and non-fatal domestic abuse.”

“Linux devs threaten to pull contributions” [IT News]. “The nub of the issue is a new code of conduct the project adopted last week in the wake of founder Linus Torvalds standing down as overseer as the project. Torvalds and current kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartmann proposed the new Code of Conduct (CoC) after Torvalds admitted some of his behavior has damaged the kernel development community. He’s therefore stepped aside from his role as kernel maintainer for a time to seek assistance on how to better understand co-workers’ emotions. The new Code of Conduct adapts the widely-used Contributor Covenant and lists several examples of “unacceptable behavior” but has not gone down well with some in the kernel development community. Some developers, believing the new Code will inevitably see some people banned from kernel development, have even suggested that excluded developers should band together should rescind the grant of their code to the project under provisions of the Gnu Public License.” • Hoo boy.

“How to make a racist AI without really trying” [ConceptNet]. From 2017, still germane. Using a standard toolset in Python: “The system has associated wildly different sentiments with people’s names. You can look at these examples and many others and see that the sentiment is generally more positive for stereotypically-white names, and more negative for stereotypically-black names.” • Oopsie.

News of the Wired

“The metawars” [Science]. “Although the number of meta-analyses has exploded, many don’t bring clarity—whether it’s on the effect of ‘positive parenting,’ the relation between antidepressants and suicide, or the health benefits of organic produce. One reason is that, although the basic rules of the meta-analysis are simple, researchers must make many choices along the way, allowing conscious or unconscious biases to creep in. In the case of media violence, for instance, the groups dealt in different ways with the problem that many studies aren’t published, and they applied different quality criteria in choosing the studies to be included. ‘Meta-analyses were thought to be debate enders, but now we know they rarely are,’ [Christopher Ferguson of Texas A&M] says. ‘They should be regarded as an argument, not a fact.’ It’s a paradox, says Jacob Stegenga, a philosopher of science at University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom: ‘When the evidence points clearly in one direction, there is little need for a meta-analysis. When it doesn’t, a meta-analysis is unlikely to give the final answer.'”

“Turn Off Push Notifications” [Motherboard]. “As our attention is increasingly fragmented and split among dozens of apps, the apps have compensated by getting more demanding of your time. Notifications are no longer used to notify you of anything—they’re used by apps to scream over each other in hopes that you’ll click them. … I have a solution for this: Turn off your push notifications. Or most of them, anyway.”

“Manyverse” [Manyverse]. A product site, but still: “Manyverse is a social network mobile app with features you would expect: posts, threads, likes, profiles, etc. But it’s not running in the cloud owned by a company, instead, your friends’ posts and all your social data live entirely in your phone. This way, even when you’re offline, you can scroll, read anything, and even write posts and like content! When your phone is back online, it syncs the latest updates directly with your friends’ phones, through a shared local Wi-Fi or on the internet.”

I’m guessing bad news for the cat:

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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 (AM):

AM writes: “This picture isfrom a trip I took with my family this May, when it was unseasonably — and unexpectedly — warm and sunny in Ireland. We drove through the Burren (large rock formations) to the shore, where there was more rock and amazingly, flowers cropping up through the cracks. No idea what any of them are… but quite a variety all very close to each other.”

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Readers, I’m still running a bit short on plants. Probably a little soon for fall foliage, or wrapping up the garden, but I’m sure you can find something! How about a project you completed over the summer?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        If they won, how many talking heads on cable news will be able to get their tiny little brains around the idea that the Dems can’t be reasonably called weak on ‘National Security’ anymore? Forty years of buzz phrases down the drain.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I would say honest ones as the foreign policies pushed by these MIC Democrats are ultimately destined to unravel the American empire through over extension and decay of the domestic country and do nothing for defense.

          The Republicans will still say whatever comes to mind as demonstrated by Franken’s book noting Democratic support for insane MIC boondoggles (it was a positive in his book).

          The idea the Republicans have shame or will embrace the Democrats is absurd as demonstrated by the past several decades.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the Dems can’t be reasonably called weak on ‘National Security’ anymore

          Talking heads on cable are gonna say what they’re gonna say. For myself, I find the open alliance between the intelligence community and the Democrat Party concerning.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            What was the John Kerry 2004 slogan? Then of course the Republicans hailed Kerry for his military service if I recall…

    1. Carey

      One of the interesting aspects about the MILO candidates is that, looking at their
      fundraising, apparently the Blob now prefers to have a public face.

      1. Richard

        All the easier to sock them in the nose. With the fist of the people!
        Okay, I apologize for that bellicose 1930’s commie sentiment (would make a great art nouveau poster though).
        But I sincerely don’t mind the Blob getting obvious about things.

    2. clarky90

      What has happened to the Democratic Party of John and Jacqueline Kennedy, that many of us fell in love with, back in the day?

      How has the once kind, Democratic Party, devolved into the party of Joe Bidden and Nancy Pelosi?

      Entryism is a political strategy in which an organisation or state encourages its members or supporters to join another, usually larger, organisation in an attempt to expand influence and expand their ideas and program. In situations where the organization being “entered” is hostile to entryism, the entryists may engage in a degree of subterfuge and subversion to hide the fact that they are an organisation in their own right….”


      Lessons from the Struggle for the Fourth International ‘The French Turn’


      “The American Trotskyists (who had infiltrated The USAian Socialist Party and taken it over; the “French Turn”) emerged from the Socialist Party at the end of 1937 qualitatively transformed: they had more than doubled in size, and had won over the majority of the Socialist youth. They had also gained a substantial intellectual periphery, and built a basis for important trade-union fractions among auto and maritime workers. Moreover, by gutting the SP’s youth and left wing, they effectively sterilized the social democrats as a political competitor for a generation….”

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Is it true that before Nixon’s Southern Strategy, a period that would include FDR’s victories, the Deplorables voted Democrat?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I would say JFK was a myth, but Camelot was a better description of the period than realized as JFK wasn’t the only new arrival being elected. Being rich, he was ahead of the class, but that was a period where groups that had previously not been considered “white” won elections at all levels all across the country as the World War II veterans (not some random war) ran in the vacuum created not by defeats of the 1932 class but their withdrawal from public life due to age. A new equality where the WASPs had previously dominated. Then there was the rapid success of the Civil Rights movement which was a decades long effort which of course took two major set backs with the Depression and World War II as other issues took precedence.

          Kennedy’s religion is important. He was a President who happened to be Catholic as opposed to a Catholic President in an era where that was more threatening. Except for some questionable choices by the Clinton campaign in the South in black churches, no one really cared that Bernie Sanders might not believe Jesus had an English accent.

          Obviously the musical was important, but we shouldn’t dismiss the popularity of the comic Prince Valiant which features a foreigner and wandering knight in Valiant becoming such an important of the Round Table and how that whole imagery was used. Certainly Valiant is similar to Superman in the form of the Caucasian immigrant experience in the U.S. and then even representative of the U.S. within the larger world as the Cold War started (pretending we didn’t cause it. USA! USA!).

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              I listened to a couple of minutes, so its a sample. I would suggest this isn’t a skewering of Kennedy which matters. Yes, he has mannerisms, and putting the Presidential mannerisms in the family scene is funny. I’m reminded of an interview with John Cleese about a rejected early attempt at writing “Life of Brian” where they had a whole segment about the Last Supper and trying to make reservations. Eventually, Cleese of Graham Chapman said, “are we making a movie about Jesus or going to dinner?” Cleese said comedy is about punching up against the rigid, and he (an atheist) and Chapman (super Catholic) felt Jesus was the kind of guy who would slip on a banana peel and say, “who am I? The Son of God?” promoting a shared laughter.

              What I heard is an funny, but its just a Massachusetts accents on the ordering tables routine. Per Dana Carvery, 41 did a dead on impression of Dana Carvey’s 41 when they met that left Carvey speechless. Apparently, 41 was a huge fan.

              Trump did let that person pull his hair. He does have an image, and he is an entertainer. I imagine Trump might enjoy being part of the ordering tables process.

              The real question is did Bill Clinton like this:


              I unfortunately have been seen the same clip of Trevor Noah. Did you know Trump is stupid? I mean its the funniest damn thing because its the only joke he tells.

      2. Big River Bandido

        The JFK that so many people “fell in love with” was also a myth. In many ways, Kennedy was a proto-neoliberal who cut taxes, disliked deficits, gave social programs the back of his manicured Harvard hand, and accomplished little on civil rights outside the rhetorical plane.

        1. Procopius

          I have long felt that Kennedy’s tax cut may well have been the correct implementation of the Laffer curve. According to the diagram Laffer drew, on his curve there is only one global optimum. We don’t know what that optimum rate is, but there was a study (was it Rogoff and Piketty?) that decided 70% for the top bracket would be about right. Given a single optimum, then any increase above it will bring less revenue, but also any decrease below it will bring less revenue. I think every cut since Kennedy has been a mistake. Laffer, of course, must know about optimums (high school AP calculus), but he still demands more tax cuts.

    1. GF

      Traffic Lyrics
      “John Barleycorn (Must Die)”

      There were three men came out of the West
      Their fortunes for to try
      And these three men made a solemn vow
      John Barleycorn must die

      They’ve ploughed, they’ve sown, they’ve harrowed him in
      Threw clods upon his head
      And these three men made a solemn vow
      John Barleycorn was dead

      They’ve let him lie for a very long time
      Till the rains from heaven did fall
      And little Sir John sprung up his head
      And so amazed them all

      They’ve let him stand till midsummer’s day
      Till he looked both pale and wan
      And little Sir John’s grown a long, long beard
      And so become a man

      They’ve hired men with the scythes so sharp
      To cut him off at the knee
      They’ve rolled him and tied him by the waist
      Serving him most barbarously

      They’ve hired men with the sharp pitchforks
      Who pricked him to the heart
      And the loader he has served him worse than that
      For he’s bound him to the cart

      They’ve wheeled him around and around the field
      Till they came unto a barn
      And there they made a solemn oath
      On poor John Barleycorn

      They’ve hired men with the crab-tree sticks
      To cut him skin from bone
      And the miller he has served him worse than that
      For he’s ground him between two stones

      And little Sir John and the nut-brown bowl
      And he’s brandy in the glass
      And little Sir John and the nut-brown bowl
      Proved the strongest man at last

      The huntsman, he can’t hunt the fox
      Nor so loudly to blow his horn
      And the tinker he can’t mend kettle nor pot
      Without a little Barleycorn

  1. fresno dan

    “Turn Off Push Notifications” [Motherboard]. “As our attention is increasingly fragmented and split among dozens of apps, the apps have compensated by getting more demanding of your time. Notifications are no longer used to notify you of anything—they’re used by apps to scream over each other in hopes that you’ll click them. … I have a solution for this: Turn off your push notifications. Or most of them, anyway.”
    I don’t know who is responsible, although I suspect a consortium of Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, but now every e-mail, from ANY SOURCE, pops up while I’m on the computer to tell me that it has arrived. Just like the buttons at crosswalks don’t actually have any effect, the computer “commands” don’t do anything to block or reduce the number of these “notifications” which are more accurately described as annoying interruptions….

    1. Summer

      Just think of the insanity of it! Much of it is because in the early days of email, too little too late was done about the inflow of junk mail.
      So all the redesigns and remarketing for chat rooms and emails popped up.
      Social media is all email and chat room redesigns and marketing.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Email notifications can be turned off. And in my experience, they only happen if the email app is open on the desktop. YMMV

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Isnt there an option to turn off all email notifications except the ones you mark as important/star?

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            My answer is to not (really) have email.
            Same with face org and the rest.
            I’ve been using my wife’s school provided iPad for two weeks…and literally everything is turned on and chattering and dinging constantly…and autocorrect!!, lol.
            Wandering the smoking area( the sidewalk around the perimeter) as well as the endless hallways, literally everyone is looking attentively at their device, while walking…as if they are encased in cellophane…when I consider that all their apps and automata are likely to be engaged as well, it’s a wonder there are so few collisions, and that folks can arrive at wherever their going.
            I question the actual utility of all this.
            Of note, perhaps:I am the only person I’ve seen around here with a book in his or her pocket/hand.

        2. Big River Bandido

          fresno dan — are you using Mac or Windows?

          If you’re using a Mac, you should be able to turn off notifications by going to the System Preferences (under the apple menu) and clicking on Notifications. That should bring up a window with a list of all your applications, and some checkboxes that should allow you to adjust settings as you see fit.

          I am Windows-ignorant, but there’s probably a similar procedure there, too.

    3. Lee

      I’d like to be able to control the screen resolution of my computer and thus the data usage of sites that stream content.

      I just learned the hard way that if you pay for more speed, streaming sites by default increase the image resolution, thus using more data, adding more cost. This can be adjusted on some sites such as Netflix, but not all. Is it not possible to build this into one’s devices? I’ve to several people more tech savvy than am I, and none were aware of this being an existing app or device capability. I watch movies for the stories. I don’t need to count the nose hairs on the characters.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I just learned the hard way that if you pay for more speed, streaming sites by default increase the image resolution, thus using more data, adding more cost.

        These guys are so smart about using tech to do the wrong thing.

    1. GF

      Arizona, Watch the debate tonight in Tucson (not sure where to watch on TV) between Dem. Garcia and the Rep. Gov. We watched the Arizona Horizon (Phoenix PBS station: https://azpbs.org/news/horizon/ – the debate may not be up yet.) version last night which included the Green candidate Torres – who will be absent tonight. Torres was the only sane one and he is very knowledgeable of Arizona issues and has solutions to the big problems so he will get my vote.

      1. ArcadiaMommy

        Oh come on. AZ has its problems and whacko politicians but I wouldn’t live in any southern state. Or most states for that matter. We can drive to the mountains, ski in UT and CO, drive to CA and also drive to the sea of Cortez. Our airport is great (tho I have come to hate getting on a plane).

    2. polecat

      So that means the state can discombobulate BACK to a territory .. right ??
      ..” hey everybody .. lets just leapfrog over secession and go straight to un-sovereignty “

  2. anonymous

    One risk of the Linux CoC controversy is that it may be a pretext to push Linus Torvalds aside and bring in an administration that is more amenable to a backdoor. If you are a user of any software, ask yourself how comfortable you are knowing that any and all of it may have been compromised without public disclosure. The backdoor effort at Linux has been pitched and fended off numerous times over the past dozen or so years.

    When combined with the push to digital cash, what if you could not get access to your accounts due to some backdoor operation, whether friend or foe, on whatever platform, or found that they had been seized? Consider that a supply chain risk that few people would want.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      cf the Handmaid’s Tale way back in the 80s. What will retain its value? Gold? More likely weapons and water, easily regulated by the government…

      1. Wukchumni

        None of the Persians that fled Iran in the late 1970’s probably had weapons, but I feel sure they had a glass of water or 2 on the 747 en route to getting the hell out of dodge.

        A most interesting diaspora, upper-middle class in Tehran and they segued into upper-middle class in L.A.

        Same thing fleeing Vietnamese did in 1975, although they started on much lower rungs when they got to SoCal. The taels they could tell, no doubt.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          There were a few items from a member of the Vietnamese royal family being auctioned off last year, in Southern California.

          Some were said to be given by the Ming or Qing emperors (part of China’s tribute system, I guess – you sent desirable products or, in the case of Korea, young maidens and in return, you got the finest products, like silk, porcelain and tea, from the Middle Kingdom).

          1. Wukchumni

            That’s all well and nice, but i’m talking about the one item that just about every Vietnamese fleeing the country had.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I like well-cut synthetic gems as a candidate for currency. They’re pretty, and small, and virtually indestructible. Besides these values, synthetic gems are intrinsically valuable — not for their scarcity but for their beauty and durability alone.

    2. In the Land of Farmers

      Time for me to head to the Apple platform. Google wants to suck all my data, Linus is a sociopath which led to this disaster which will end Linux as we know it, and yes, probably back doors and more kernel panics. Apple seems to sit somewhere between the two.

      Linus, in case you want to know, does not care about people, he cares about technology:

      1. Grebo

        Apple seems to sit somewhere between the two.

        Yes, Apple is a sociopath that wants to suck all your data.

        If you submit something that would screw up the kernel you might get shouted at by Linus. And you would deserve it. What happens to people who try to sabotage your life’s work?

        Enjoy your gilded cage.

        1. In the Land of Farmers

          Hey Grebo, you think I don’t know that? Not all of us have homes and a lot of money so we can lug around a laptop with Linux because those idiots could not stop acting like babies long enough to figure out how to make an linux tablet that the whole world was screaming for.

          And Linus did not shout at people, he demeaned them. “Please just kill yourself now. The world will be a better place,” He was an authoritarian jackass who had a fetish his dominance over the kernel. His life’s work? Sorry, it was Stallman’s more than his.

          My gilded cage…live my life before you throw around assumptions.

          1. Grebo

            My laptop for work and home cost me $140 and I’m quite happy with it.

            Kernel hackers have nothing to do with making tablets. I had a (tiny) Linux tablet in 2006 made by Nokia.

            Linus has a sense of humour which leans to the hyperbolic. His over-the-top insults are usually aimed at people he knows and has worked with for some time. They get it. I haven’t heard anyone who’s received one complain.

            Stallman has nothing to do with the Linux kernel.

            Apple’s ‘ecosystem’ is a gilded cage.

            1. In the Land of Farmers

              “There is no system but GNU, and Linux is one of its kernels.”

              -Richard Stallman

              If you are talking about the Nokia N900 I had one as well.

              Android Oreo is still on the 3.18 Kernel and probably only moving to 4.4 to “increase security”, so yes, working on the kernel matters with the hardware available for tablets. Google’s kernel security is weak.

      2. hunkerdown

        This has to be bait. “MILO are people too”? It seems, in this case, that someone who cares uncompromisingly about the technology and doesn’t care to give pushy people the time of day is more likely to create a product without the sort of loopholes that the IC can drive their trucks through. There are no people in a compiled kernel.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > One risk of the Linux CoC controversy is that it may be a pretext to push Linus Torvalds aside and bring in an administration that is more amenable to a backdoor. I

      Excellent point.

    4. Clive

      Or even kill it through Balkanisation. Such as the fate which befell Unix http://www.brainstormmag.co.za/features/12213-the-linux-wars — this isn’t a new risk, but only because, up until now, the Linux community has been coherent and loyal enough to resist.

      I think this is more of a threat than the creation of backdoors. Bsckdoors help the security services industrial complex but that isn’t a big money-spinner outside of some US-government favoured players. Dividing Linux then conquering through the re-emergence of a single, consistent and unified O/S which doesn’t have the newly-created “problems” which Linux gets saddled with would benefit the usual suspects (IBM, Microsoft).

      Personally I always wondered exactly what Microsoft was up to when it suddenly started embracing Open Source. I didn’t imagine it was anything good. But I couldn’t, until now, work out exactly what the bad could be.

      1. blennylips

        > But I couldn’t, until now, work out exactly what the bad could be.

        You have good instincts, Clive.

        Embrace, extend, and extinguish

        “Embrace, extend, and extinguish”,[1] also known as “Embrace, extend, and exterminate”,[2] is a phrase that the U.S. Department of Justice found[3] was used internally by Microsoft[4] to describe its strategy for entering product categories involving widely used standards, extending those standards with proprietary capabilities, and then using those differences to strongly disadvantage its competitors.

  3. Roger Smith

    Either the Atlantic or the Washington Post published some disgraceful psy-op piece this morning about “What Kids Say About Kavanaugh” (one piggy backed off the other’s “What Woman Think…” article from the day prior). This entire thing is completely out of control and pathetic. All so some other criminals can have their own way and run the rotten courts. Whose to say every potential candidate from here on out won’t be targeted as a sexual assailant upon nomination? “Democratic
    President Erma Merone SCOTUS candidate accuser reveals all!”

  4. kael

    Confidence in the Supreme Court. The 1987-1991 confidence dip (larger that the one that Lambet highlighted), spans the time between the Bork and the Thomas nominations. It seems the Bork-related legitimacy crisis that the right is always on about shows a little recovery with Thomas getting confirmed. Then the court seems to have lost the left. with Shrub vs Gore.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Indeed, the court hasn’t had any legitimacy for decades. Unfortunately liberals are too in love with their norms to simply ignore court rulings that are insane and unjust, like Citizens United.

      1. Another Scott

        I don’t think liberals are too upset with Citizens United or any of the pro-big business, anti-labor rulings that the Roberts Court has made. The left on the other hand, should be outraged by them and organize around getting good judges appointed

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        How would a liberal, or anyone else, simply ignore the Court ruling known as Citizens United? Pretending it does not exist does not prevent it from existing. “Ignoring” Citizens United is like “ignoring” gravity.

        Unless/until we can somehow override or undermine or “mootify-by-Ammendment” the Citizens United ruling, it is part of the political gravity-well we all thrash around in.

    2. dcrane

      Having grown up around social conservatives, I think it’s a questionable claim to state that the court’s legitimacy survived Roe V. Wade – at least within that faction of American society.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        If Movement Conservatives did not think it was a legitimate institution, they would not have put so much effort into packing it.

    3. sleepy

      For the Supreme Court’s legitimacy, or lack thereof at least among a fairly large segment of the population, I’d go back to the late 50s and 60s with the “Impeach Earl Warren” movement, and subsequent pro-defendant criminal rulings which is the time period I first heard the term “liberal judges”. In the South one could even take it back to ’54 with the Brown v. Topeka desegregation ruling.

  5. Jason Boxman

    The liberal NYTimes is from another universe with a story claiming the liberal Democrat plan is to stop the Supreme Court nomination, win the Senate, and then stop further court picks… ignoring that Democrats preferred to go home for Labor Day rather than fight Trump court picks. Fact free reporting!

  6. Jim A.

    “Based on my time with Brett, I believe that he and his social circle were capable of the actions that Debbie described.”

    Not exactly a stunning character reference.

    1. Carey

      I’m maybe band-wagoning a bit here, but when I saw his HS yearbook photo I had
      an instant, visceral reaction. I remember the guys who presented that way, all too well.
      Probably doesn’t matter, though; if not him, another one just like him.

      1. Swamp Yankee

        Very much the same reaction here. The hair on the back of your neck stands up — warning me of the presence of my natural enemy. It’s something at an animal level.

      2. ArcadiaMommy

        Could not agree more. Looks just like the creeps I had to deal with, just 15 years older. I am glad I got married young.

    2. edmondo

      Not exactly a confirmation that the event happened either. I guess I am thankful no one ever nominated me for a slot on the court. I had a rather “vibrant” high school and early college life.

      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Back then a threat was, this will go down on your permanent record. Though no hellion, I’m glad I didn’t sweat that. Turns out they don’t need no stinkin’ permanent records.

        This guy has so much on his permanent record that should disqualify him in the court of public opinion, about, like, his views on the law. I’ve decided to focus on why no one will go there.

    1. edmondo

      Does anyone care that he penned parts of the Patriot Act?

      You mean the same Patriot Act that these same senators just voted to re-new? One would think Senator Feinstein would be quite enamored with the author of her favorite piece of legislation.

      1. polecat

        That kinda segues, in my mind, into Lambert’s link above regarding those various C•I•A candidates the Demorat HighHonchos are sponsoring for the CONgressional seats up for grabs .. “lets make it officially legal & just .. for OUR team to be the bad guys ! .. the plebs will love it, and throw flowers at our feet ..”

        sigh !

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Certainly not the Democrats, on either issue, which is why they’re so eager to push the sex angle. If they tried to go after him on policy, it might focus light on how they either directly supported or supported by omission all of the stuff he should be considered unacceptable.

      1. Richard

        Exactly. Which is also why they only attack Trump from the right (more war! traitor!) rather than risk popularity by attacking from the left. K. Kulinsky the other day covered some comments Trump made about Med4all which were such obvious lies, with reasoning that would literally shame a kindergartner. It was shockingly stupid. Man, you could bury him on something like this.
        But the dems would rather attack with an entirely unproven conspiracy theory. And other ideas about who they think trump is. They never touch him for what he actually does, judge appointments, the tax bill, supporting genocide in Yemen. Because they effing agree withall that!
        And then they pretend like they don’t know why they aren’t popular.
        You’re not popular because you don’t represent the people. And you’re scared to death of them. We have one party with two wings: one wing hates the people, the other fears them.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Remember a week or so ago when Gaius Publius wrote that the Judiciary Committee DemSenators had that whole pack of Kavanaugh Papers and could release them all at once for the “distributed internet beavers” to get busy chewing on them and find the hidden hand grenades? Am I wrong or did not one of those Judiciary Committee DemSenators release so much as one of those papers?

        If they did and I just missed it, shame on me for not noticing. If they did NOT, then that means my prediction about them was correct.. . that the Dem Senators all support appointing Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court and they all lie to the contrary. This concern about sexual whatever is just a “self-embarrassment” trap set for Republicans to step in and hopefully enrage more people into voting Democratic in the coming election.

    3. RUKidding

      Oh sure. I think Democratic politicians care a GREAT deal that Kavanaugh penned parts of the Patriot Act. That’s why – after their usual vapid dog ‘n pony show of pretending to kinda sorta ask K some “hard ball” questions – they were are all quite happily prepared to vote in favor of him getting onto the SC.

      Too bad Dr. Ford had to step forward with her allegations that apparently DiFi was doing her best to Deep Six.

      Next question.

    4. Heliopause

      No, the HMS Things That Actually Matter has sailed. Since they couldn’t defeat Kavanaugh on the merits we’re now just going through the Manhattan phone book and taking everybody’s character testimonial. Since both Kavanaugh and his accusers have already submitted glowing character references a mile long I have no idea what anybody expects to accomplish here.

    1. Terry Humphrey

      Listening to top of the hour CBS radio news, they cited Trump’s inspired Laughter, both times. Ten minutes later, Fox Radio News lead with Trump’s speech but failed to mention response.

    2. Paineintheass

      Listening to top of the hour CBS radio news, they cited Trump’s inspired Laughter, both times. Ten minutes later, Fox Radio News lead with Trump’s speech but failed to mention response.

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      In that clip he handles it so well, gotta wonder if it’s deliberate, using his clown persona to disarm people. Dunno if there’s more and he loses his cool later but here he seems to be relaxed and enjoying himself, totally using it to his advantage.

      1. Ted

        That was a genuine response I think and it again reveals something about Trump that Pearl clutcher’s and friends of the 25th amendment don’t get. “Hey folks, we all know this is bullsh*!, but this is what the organ grinder wants, so we do it. I know, I am an organ grinder.” wink, wink.

    4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I wonder if Trump had Krushchev’s shoe-banging incident at the UN in mind, and sought to be the opposite of being too serious.

    1. John Zelnicker

      September 25, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      Yes, it is honeysuckle. The blooms have only recently come out and only a very few have opened.

      It’s a vine, but I have one in my yard I’v trained into a bush. They are delicious.

  7. jawbone

    My nightmares about Kavanaugh tend toward seeing him undercut and then gut entirely such landmark legislation as…oh, let’s start with Social Security? TR’s legislative achievements?

    Has anyone asked him where he stands on SocSec? Medicare?

    And I see him decision by decision depriving more and more people of the right to vote. And more and more wealth going to the .01%ers.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      You know, as a practical matter the congress can write legislation to get around just about anything the Supreme Court rules. Just need a majority. (and yes, just about anything, so be careful out there)

  8. Pat

    Difficulty with and/or distraction from reality signs:

    1. Small car seen parked in Manhattan, with Obama/Biden and Clinton/Kaine bumperstickers in pristine condition, its license plate read ‘Tardis’.
    2. Radio interview with Al D’Amato who had to say twice that America couldn’t take all the world’s refugees, ignoring that is not the only immigration issue, that America has been instrumental with creating refugees, and last but certainly not least that America takes far less refugees than most of the Western World.

    Sometimes being aware of bigger pictures causes a fair amount of dissonance.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Sometimes being aware of bigger pictures causes a fair amount of dissonance.

      Screws up your ability to enjoy what passes for entertainment these days, too. I’ve stopped reading a thriller series I used to love after rereading it from book 1 in preparation for a new episode revealed the appalling level of misinformation in it. That is, I realized just what blatant pro-Israel-can-do-no-wrong propaganda the books are, even given the subject matter.

      I was also not surprised to learn the US Navy had/has a heavy hand in CBS’s new Hawaii Five-O, the last episode of last season I didn’t even bother watching. I wait to see if the slide into crude propaganda continues, because otherwise it’s not bad brain candy.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        Exactly. As an Army vet im appalled.

        I used to love Jack Ryan type shows but now if its some sort law and order/CIA/FBI crap i see it for the Propaganda it is.

        Where are all the Populist/Working Class Filmmakers?

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            Yeah seriously. Jerry Orbach was my grandpas favorite. He used to watch that and PBS NewsHour and CNNs Crossfire.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Ive been thinking about immigration alot. I think the starting point should be talking about how the Establishment/Capitalists/Bourgeouis uses immigrant waves to stoke Nativist outrage for political gain. Like the Irish and Cubans and Mexicans.

      1. Wukchumni

        After the Cubans messed up things politically in Florida by arriving en masse in the early 60’s, Big Gov went out of their way to make sure the Vietnamese refugees were sent to hither and yon and all spots in between.

      2. KB

        What does Nativist outrage for political gain mean to you?…that the outrage does not deserve merit?..I am sure it is for political gain but also think the real outrage in Middle America and elsewhere is worthy of attention…No?

        Sorry, but am so tired of what I see in my direct neighborhood (Midwest) is a complete lack of empathy for a blue collar neighborhood that is quickly being changed by a mostly illegal immigrant influx..Increased property taxes, a wipe out of pensions for formerly blue collar workers, a total disrespect for 40-60 yr. homeowners who built this community in favor of high density apartment buildings tearing down homes for low income renters etc. etc..Sanctuary policies that allow criminals (5 Sheriff show ups nextdoor), cause local PD won’t address cause it’s too political per Mayor.

        Daily I read “social justice warriors” call posters racists on my community facebook page, and they have positions on community advisory committees that make city policy, yet they have no care about the same Party being the “War Caucus”……

        Yes, this needs a legitimate honest intelligent fix….and for me, at least to include people who are directly affected and not some abstract theory.

        1. JBird4049

          That is two, or three, separate issues there.

          1) The absolute contempt of the Deplorables for not acknowledging the fundamental superiority and gloriousness of Neoliberal Free Market Capitalism and then just go die so as not to bother anyone.

          2) The failures of not accepting both the creation of the refugees because of the actions of the American government via wars, coups, assassinations, and deliberate general economic destabilization of a number of countries; this was done for the economic elites business’ cheap resource extraction, manufacturing, and in the victimized countries, which includes the victimized bottom 90% of Americans.

          3) The deliberate strategy of pitting of desperate refugees and desperate Americans so as to prevent united action against the various despotic and parasitic elites which also strengthens the innate nativist racism of Americans.

          4) The use of demonizing Americans’ desperation as well as deliberately stirring up and up and focusing only on their racism and on suffering of the refugees while refusing to see the increasing oppression and impoverishment of Americans by the political and economic elites.

          5) The political leadership does not want to look at your suffering cause by economic destruction, but instead yammers on (Some) social issues because it is against the desires of the elites.

          6) Neither the neoliberal Democrats or the conservative Republicans represent or support most Americans never mind America itself. Or the refugees.

  9. edmondo

    I just got my New Jersey Mail-in ballot for the November election! The only problem is that I moved out of the state in May 2017.

    Can anyone explain why the county would mail a New Jersey ballot to my home address in Arizona? Of course, it being New Jersey, just because I don’t return the ballot doesn’t mean I won’t be voting in November’s election. I now understand why Cory Booker and Bob Menendez are the state’s senators. WINK. WINK. NOD. NOD.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      New Jersey is infallible. Do not worry. Your vote will be counted or not as legally and New Jersey ‘legal’ as fitting. In New Jersey everything is for the best. Do not panic all is well. And remember once a New jerseysian always a New jerseysian.

  10. cnchal

    > Tech: “Why building your own Deep Learning Computer is 10x cheaper than AWS” [Medium]. “Building is 10x cheaper than renting on AWS / EC2 and is just as performant.” • You pay for convenience…

    Quick. Someone clue in the military before they throw $10 billion into Amazon’s black hole. A bonus would be an alternative potential employer for those now tied to the Amazon whipping post.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      I’m retired, but there was a time when I used to design systems that scaled from 1 to 100s to 10s of thousands of threads then dropped back to 1 depending upon the processing task to be done. For research projects like those I did, services like AWS are perfect, especially since the high-load periods can pass in minutes. Lucky for me, someone else was paying the bills, too.

  11. Fred1

    A justice is 1 of 9. They vote and then the Chief Justice assigns one of the justices, which can be the Chief Justice, to write the opinion. This provisional opinion is then circulated among the other justices, who can suggest revisions. Only when the final draft is acceptable to at least 5 justices, who may not be the 5 who were originally the majority, is the decision announced. This can result in concurring opinions in the result only with or without an explanation, concurring in part and dissenting in part opinions, and completely dissenting opinions.

    The actual give and take among the justices throughout this process is completely opaque.

    It may be several years before a new justice whose jurisprudence is outside the mainstream is assigned to author an opinion, who will have to persuade at least 4 other justices to agree with him either on the front end or back end or both. Obviously there already may be 4 justices on the court whose jurisprudence is outside the mainstream or who are itching to decide a particular issue in a particular way.

  12. curlydan

    eHealth’s 2018 Health Enrollment Price Index Report (for unsubsidized buyers). Even though eHealth leans right, I consider this a good measure of unsubsidized health care costs:

    “$1,168 was the average monthly premium for a family health plan, a 17 percent increase from 2017 and a 75 percent jump from 2014.
    • $1,376 was the average monthly premium for a four-person family, or about $16,500 annually.
    • Deductible costs also rose in 2018. The average individual deductible increased by 3 percent from 2017 to $4,578, while the average family deductible increased by 7 percent from 2017 to $8,803.”

    So an unsubsidized family of 4 must pay on average $25K a year before insurance starts to pay out. So much for the land of entrepreneurship..

    See the pdf in the attached PR release:

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      We were looking at just under $1800 per month last year with $13k deductible.

      My boys and I are eligible for IHS so we use that. Just can’t imagine how people afford this. Lucky that we are so healthy.

  13. ChiGal in Carolina

    I believe her can’t be the standard, however repugnant kavanaugh is.

    In historical context, since women have been categorically dismissed for so long, something needs to be said.

    How about: I don’t automatically believe or DISbelieve anyone before I hear what they have to say. Let her speak, we will listen.

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      The problem is these antics are so very believable and have been perpetrated on so many people. I have been up the last few nights with anxiety and feelings of dread going over things that happened to me. The idea that no one is going to do anything about this type of flagrant behavior is really difficult.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I believe her can’t be the standard,

      I think that’s exactly the standard #MeToo wants; see the first Jezebel extract. But when you think about it, it’s absurd. Emmett Till was lynched on the word of a white woman. She was believed, alright!

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Iceland “found another way”?

      Um, what “way” is that precisely: you mean the way where the law of the land is actually enforced? That way?

      Of course Bloomberg carries the water for their overlords in trying to characterize that as something odd or foreign or unusual.

  14. Wukchumni

    FHFA House Price Index, July 2018: “Weakness in home prices is becoming a central negative for the 2018 economy” [Econoday]. “[W]eakness for a housing sector that increasingly appears to be a drag on overall economic growth.”

    It’s pretty obvious that housing bubble part deux, has run out of steam. Everything I read has the usual “I listed it in July confident that it’d sell, and i’ve lowered it twice since then, but no dice” feel to it, as homes become add hock kryptonite.

    Will the slowdown manifest itself in the election in November, and in what sort of fashion on both sides of the aisle politically?

  15. Wukchumni

    Washington (CNN)The US Marine Corps’ stealth F-35B Lightning fighter jet could fly its first combat mission within days, according to several US defense officials, who told CNN that the fifth-generation aircraft are currently aboard the USS Essex amphibious assault ship and should soon be in a position to conduct airstrikes over Afghanistan.

    The F-35 has been a favorite of President Donald Trump who has lauded the aircraft several times for being ‘invisible.” The aircraft has reduced capability to be seen by adversary radars but is not invisible.

    A week ago or so, a lone F-35 was for some reason circling over our house @ around 10,000-15,000 feet for about 10-15 minutes, and in theory my wife was sleeping, but the damned thing woke her up, it’s so loud.

    I would guess that the Taliban will know it’s coming from quite a distance away, and it can’t be one of their planes, as they don’t have any.

  16. Rosario

    RE: #MeToo & Kavanaugh

    IMO the success of the recent highlighting of sexual abuse will ultimately require that:

    1) Women (and anyone) have free access to proper legal recourse and investigation through an array of non-police organizations after an abuse takes place. These may be through a place of employment (required by law) or through state/federal organizations. These organizations act as an intermediary between the victim and the legal structures that can protect them (something essential when considering the shame and potential danger involved being an outspoken victim). Police may serve a role through enforcement, but as it is this being the sole (or typical) avenue of support after a sexual crime is lacking to say the least (see above). Ideally these organizations have some level of pluralism and 50% female employment.

    2) Equally important (or more important IMO), there is a system wide checking and regulation of the power that lends itself to sexual and all other forms of abuse. This is why cops are a problem. This is why the priesthood is a problem. Same for CEOs, senators, presidents, etc.

    As much as I can see value in “bringing the abuse to light” as a lead in for broader policy discussions I don’t see much mainstream consideration of my above conditions for a long term progress in dealing with sexual abuse, and as Lambert pointed out, without access to recourse for all members of society (this is where the power checking really becomes important) what value will the call out model be for a working class female employee? I’m willing to bet neither 1) or 2) are on the list of potential options because they completely conflict with the prevalent Zeitgeist among the political elite.

    A strong Twitter/media voice and/or access to powerful lawyers/persons is not a luxury all women share.

    1. edmondo

      Another possibility is that – to avoid the possibility of these types of charges in the future – only women can hire women and only males will report to males. Looking a little too Saudi Arabia to me.

      1. Big River Bandido

        Aside from the part about women being in a position to hire, 19th-century America was also structured in such a way.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > 1) Women (and anyone) have free access to proper legal recourse and investigation through an array of non-police organizations after an abuse takes place.

      (That “and anyone” is important for things like male prison rape.) I’m trying to imagine what an “array of non-police organizations” would look like. Is it simply a feeder to the legal system? Is it about nurturing victims? Holding abusers accountable?

      I go back to the power relations. It’s my strong personal view that a Federal Jobs Guarantee + a Post Office bank would empower more women, more effectively, than mitigation programs, at least as far as domestic abuse goes (let alone call out culture).

      1. Rosario

        No argument there. I agree that my #2 is more important than my #1, or better, #1 is a component of #2

        As far as the role of the proposed organizations. I think feeder into the legal system would be a simple way to look at it but yes, something like that. A part of these organizations would also include victim support, but the police/legal system would serve the role of enforcement (i.e. holding the abusers accountable). The key purpose of the organization would be dealing with sexual crime (also/maybe domestic violence as I see these dovetailing). So, ideally, it would be better able to address the problem relative to traditional police organizations that, are typically male dominated (props to women in police force article), and, with all due respect, have a pile of power and accountability problems of their own that don’t often lend themselves well to supporting victims (the meek) of any kind. I have personal experience of this as a child with my mother being a victim of domestic abuse. I’ll just say, by her and my recollection, that the police were not all that helpful.

        I think the unique nature of sexual crime is the only reason why this type of infrastructure should exist. If we had a culture with a more mature view of sexuality and its ubiquity in the human experience (good or bad) I would feel more confident that we could treat and deal with sexual crime in a way more in line with murder, assault, and other crimes where the first reaction of everyone isn’t to view it through a thick lens of politics and personal opinion.

        All the above being said, I do think more than anything, sexual crime is an exposition of power on the part of the perp. If we can shunt that power we will absolutely see a reduction in sexual crime.

    3. ape

      You know, we can play whack-a-mole with every kind of abuse, every variety of sexual, physical, psychological, economic, political, financial abuse — again a series of hacks…

      Or we can attack inequality at the root.

      We can treat symptoms or diseases.

  17. ewmayer

    Re. the “China trade war means skyrocketing consumers prices!” scaremongering, such articles invariably assume one or both of 2 falsehoods:

    1. Companies will have no choice but to pass the tariff-increased costs onto consumers. As Wolf Richter noted in a Sunday piece, this is largely false (bolds mine):

    Corporate America has never passed tax cuts on to consumers or workers. The massive tax cut it received this year is getting passed on to top executives and shareholders. Why doesn’t it pass this tax cut, or at least some of it, on to consumers in form of lower prices? Because it doesn’t have to.

    A similar logic, but in reverse, applies to tax increases. Walmart, which specializes in selling China-made goods, will always charge the maximum the market will bear, given its sales goals. Other retailers are the same. The auto industry’s supply chain goes all over the world, and tariffs are changing the equation of where it goes, and they’re changing cost structures – but prices in the US are set by market forces.

    Tariffs squeeze corporate profit margins. That’s why Corporate America hates them.

    2. Once offshored, industrial sectors can never ever return to the US, because it’s simply cost ineffective and/or the needed human expertise is lost forever. As Wolf’s comment above notes, the whole idea of tariffs is to change the “cost effectiveness” calculus to favor reshoring. Also, for products for which the cost of human labor is a minor part of the retail price (e.g. automobiles), even a major increase in the labor cost will not translate into a massive hike in the overall manufacturing cost. Yes, these adjustments can take time and the adjustment period can and will involve some pain. American manufacturing wasn’t destroyed overnight, and only a fool or corporate PR flack would believe that if reversing the process cna’t be done quickly and easily, the attempt shouldn’t be made at all.

    With regard to some specific examples of areas China has come to dominate: The US once had thriving industries in production of rare earths and industrial chemicals – no reason these couldn’t be revived, if the incentives are there to do so. One hopes that with modern know-how we could also do so in more environmentally friendly fashion than in the former domestic incarnations of both these sectors (think infamous chemical pollution episodes like Love Canal), but I’ve no doubt we would be doing so much more cleanly than the toxic nightmare ongoing in China, and it is important to note that if we are consuming something domestically, we have no right to offshore the associated production pollution to begin with. For companies engaging in the practice, offshoring is all about environmental and labor-law arbitrage, a classic race to the bottom. That must stop, and if higher prices are the unavoidable result, so be it. The only way to disincentivize consumption of something whose use carries large negative externalities, is to halt the mispricing-by-way-of-offshoring of said externalities.

    1. John Wright

      I still work in the electronics industry in Northern California.

      It seems unbelievable that I started in the late 1970’s working in the manufacturing of components in Palo Alto, CA.

      Giving up manufacturing loses the connection to the manufacturing process and the possibility of inventing new products to be used in manufacturing, as these will be developed overseas

      Giving up manufacturing hurts future USA innovation, especially as the USA has trained its future competition as methods/IP are handed off overseas.

      The USA traded manufacturing, which did provide some good wages for non-college degree holders, for “finance”, whose job should be to efficiently allocate society’s capital.

      After watching mergers/acquisitions/divestitures/stock buybacks/unmaintained USA infrastructure/internet bubble/housing bubble, it seems to me, the financial industry has very poorly served the USA (and the world) as it has grabbed wealth for the financial industry elite.

      The USA financial industry can’t even make accurate financial cost projections for the various and very costly wars the USA advocates..

      Yet Finance is the industry that MUST be preserved by the elite at all costs.

      But try to bring back manufacturing, it took 25-30 years to move it overseas, it may take a similar number of years to move it back,

      1. Left in Wisconsin

        The missing link is the corporations. They have to re-shore the manufacturing (unless we take them over, which I think Trump is opposed to). Why should they? They sent the work offshore in the first place for the cost savings – if not China they will simply move it to some other low cost location.

        I’m not convinced Trump is serious about re-shoring manufacturing – that seems way too long-run for him. But if he is, he needs some corporate allies. I don’t see any.

    2. Darthbobber

      But nobody is going to sink new capital to “revive” an industry that’s only viable in the short to medium term with substantial tariffs unless they are confident that said tariffs are semi-permanent, and not just a Gambit to be abandoned if other concessions (intellectual property rights, elimination of local partnership requirements) are forthcoming.

      Immediate gains will be confined to industries able to increase production from existing plant without substantial outlays on new fixed capital.

      Also worth noting, some of “our” key demands vis a vis China are over policies (like the above) that are actually obstacles to further transfer of production capacity abroad.

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      I would respectfully dispute the premise that once gone these industries can never come back, although surely not in the vertically integrated form they had when they left.

      The globalist toothpaste won’t go back in the tube, barring some reversion to 19th century conditions of Imperial rivalry.

      Large geographically colocated industrial combines are largely going away, save in the area of resource processing (e.g. ethylene plants springing up in Rust Belt fracking country).

      But that doesn’t mean an American mittelstand can’t compete and thrive in high value high margin chunks of the global web. But as we all know small-medium enterprises are challenged in America right now.

  18. ewmayer

    Re. “Robert Mueller is playing a long game on the Russia investigation, and it’s paying off [USA Today]” — A less charitable take is that Mueller is hoping to entice Trump into a classic perjury trap, a device Mueller et al are expert in, which will lead to impeachment without Mueller having to ever provide a shred of evidence for the initial claim of Russian collusion/meddling, which was the raison d’être for the whole fishing expedition. Ain’t it cool being a thug-cop (in this case, the federal version thereof)? You obtain an essentially unlimited-in-breadth search warrant on a bogus pretext (Putin did it and Trump was doing his bidding!), during execution of which you find some other totally unrelated stuff (Manafort beltway-influence-peddler grifting) and ensnare the main suspect in some inconsistency in testimony taken at different times. Voila! Lock ’em up and throw away the key, and who cares about the falsity of the original pretext?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Mueller is hoping to entice Trump into a classic perjury trap, a device Mueller et al are expert in

      No doubt. Such traps are probably easier to avoid on paper, however.

  19. Wukchumni

    Beware of the Car-Eating Rodents

    Rodents tried to eat my engine while camping—learn from his $4,500 misfortune.

    Marmots will eat your car. Well, not all of your car, but your radiator hoses. Some types of wiring. Brake lines and hood insulation too. If you’ve ever done much hiking in the Mineral King area of Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, you’ve maybe used a tarp to seal off your car’s delicious underbody or walked past cars parked at the trailhead and wondered why they were wrapped up like big Christmas presents. I’ve seen cars disabled by the side of the road there, felled by a chomped wiring harness, and once returned to my pickup to scatter a small phalanx of marmots gathered at the front of the truck, no doubt plotting a strategy to get past my flimsy tarp defense to feast upon the Michelin-starred radiator hoses inside. The Mineral King marmots are particularly enthusiastic about the delicious rubber and plastic bits of your engine, but most any marmot population has an insatiable craving for the most sensitive, chewy of car parts.


    The Marmot Cong is mostly gone from Mineral King now, they’ve got a long hibernation period of 8 months before they return to battle.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Again I say: why not open marmot feeding stations full of all the radiator hoses, tasty wiring, delicious brake lines and yummy hood insulation material that marmots would ever want?

      Or do marmots prefer the challenge of “hunting the wild parked car”?

  20. Anon

    RE: Plant in the Burren landscape

    My guess is: mimulus spp. (Somehow related to the monkeyflower; although it appears to be a perennial, not an annual plant.)

  21. Darthbobber

    But nobody is going to sink new capital to “revive” an industry that’s only viable in the short to medium term with substantial tariffs unless they are confident that said tariffs are semi-permanent, and not just a Gambit to be abandoned if other concessions (intellectual property rights, elimination of local partnership requirements) are forthcoming.

    Immediate gains will be confined to industries able to increase production from existing plant without substantial outlays on new fixed capital.

    Also worth noting, some of “our” key demands vis a vis China are over policies (like the above) that are actually obstacles to further transfer of production capacity abroad.

  22. Oregoncharles

    In case no one else got to it, the flowers are honeysuckle; look like the species I’ve got growing as an ornamental vine. Fragrant, too, if you get the right one. The local native honeysuckles aren’t.

  23. Oregoncharles

    Just a caveat on all those intelligence and military political candidates:

    The most dedicated peace activists I know are former Navy Lt. Commanders, at least one in Intelligence. They’re a couple; she’s been president of Veterans for Peace, he’s been VP. Locally, they’re indispensable. I haven’t had much luck getting them to run for office, though.

  24. witters

    From the NYT. What am I missing?

    “Correction: September 25, 2018

    An earlier version of this article misspelled the name of a former French politician. He is Dominique Strauss-Kahn, not Dominique Strauss-Khan.”

  25. pretzelattack

    maybe all the military/intel professionals could form the new praetorian party, but i guess they had the same idea as some progressives, it’s a heck of a lot easier to just use one of the existing parties as a vehicle.

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