2:00PM Water Cooler 9/27/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, as before, I had to stop midway and process Kavanaugh material. I’ll have more in a bit. –lambert UPDATE 3:30PM All done.


“Trump’s Tariffs May Hurt, but Quitting China Is Hard to Do” [New York Times]. “As tariffs begin to make China look more expensive, many companies are considering cheaper places to make their products, like Vietnam, Cambodia, Bangladesh and Ethiopia. Already, companies with significant American business like Steve Madden, the fashion designer, and Puma, the German sports brand, have said they will look to shift production out of China…. But China will be hard to quit. From zippers and rivets on jackets and jeans to the minerals used in iPhones, China makes or processes many of the ingredients that go into today’s consumer goods. It has a dependable source of workers who know how to hold down factory jobs. It has reliable roads and rail lines connecting suppliers to assembly plants to ports.”

“China to Cut Tariffs on Imports Including Machinery, Textiles” [Bloomberg]. “The decision was aimed at meeting the demand of companies to upgrade production and lower costs, and to help fulfill the public’s diversified consumption appetite, according to a statement. It follows on from similar moves earlier this year which were aimed at reducing prices of imports to stimulate consumption and is in line with China’s pledge to boost imports.”

“Japan’s Embrace of Bilateral Trade Talks With U.S. Spares It From Tariffs” [New York Times]. “[B]y agreeing to open the talks, Japan received a reprieve from the looming auto tariffs as long as the talks continue. And American officials also accepted Japan’s insistence that it would not go any further than its previous commitments in the multilateral trade deal — known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership — to open up its markets for agricultural and forestry imports from the United States. Some analysts suggested Japan had effectively performed a bit of diplomatic jiu-jitsu, giving the appearance of compromising while wrangling concessions from the U.S…. ‘I don’t think anybody is willing to say the coast is clear,’ said Kathy Matsui, chief Japan equity strategist at Goldman Sachs in Tokyo. Still, she said, ‘coming to the table and having a conversation is not ideal from Abe’s perspective, but it also avoids the worst case scenario for now.'”



“Hillary Clinton to join Andrew Gillum on campaign trail in October” [Tallahassee Democrat]. “‘I’m honored to have Secretary Clinton join me in Florida next month,’ Gillum stated in a news release. ‘Hillary knows just what’s at stake in this election — affordable healthcare, a brighter future for our children — and that the choice in this election could not be clearer.'” • I just threw up a little in my mouth.


39 days until Election Day. 39 days is a long time in politics (as we are seeing right now with Kavanaugh).

A collection of Kavanaugh live blogs:

“Live: Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh Testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee” [The Intercept]. “The hearing is in recess for lunch. Ford’s obvious credibility as a victim of sexual assault seems to be inflicting damage on the Republican willingness to press ahead with Kavanaugh’s nomination, according to Washington reporters.”

* “Brett Kavanaugh Hearing: Live Coverage” [FiveThirtyEight]. 1:58: “Well, I guess maybe part of Cory Booker’s strategy was to give Ford a break from talking in between her sessions of questioning from Mitchell, but uh, that was also a nice little moment for him to grandstand.” • Ouch! Note * For play-by-play analysis, I like this live blog the best, Inside Baseball though it may be. UPDATE “It’s still pretty strange to me that Mitchell isn’t asking more about the incident itself, and in particular, about the fact that other people Ford says were at the gathering don’t have a recollection of it.”

“Kavanaugh, Ford hearing live blog: Supreme Court nominee and professor testify on sexual assault accusations” [FOX]. • A surprisingly neutral recap, though if there had been any gotchas I imagine there would be a lot more noise.

“Live updates: Christine Blasey Ford describes sex assault in emotional testimony” [Los Angeles Times]. “In the committee room, senators have watched intently, the only noise has come from the faint sound of reporters typing away on keyboards as Ford and the questioners speak.” • I’ve seen this same sort of reaction elsewhere; Senators actually listening. Elbows on their desks.

“Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford Testify in High-Stakes Hearing—Live Coverage” [Wall Street Journal]. “Former Trump White House officials described Thursday’s hearing as a ‘disaster’ for Republicans that ramps up the pressure on Judge Kavanaugh’s testimony later in the day. One former official called the hearing ‘worse than any Republican could have expected,’ describing Dr. Ford as a ‘very credible witness’ and criticizing the performance of Rachel Mitchell, the prosecutor hired by Republicans. ‘Barring a big f—up by Ford, I don’t see how Kavanaugh has a chance to save his own ass in his testimony,’ the official said.” • Though I’m no expert on the Republican landscape, I believe a lot ot #NeverTrumpers are passionately pro-Kavanaugh, paving the way for another jack move by Trump. But who can tell?

* * *

“Mark Judge’s former girlfriend is ready to talk to FBI and Judiciary Committee, her lawyer says” [WaPo]. “It is not clear whether Kavanaugh would ultimately be implicated even if Rasor did testify, but her willingness to do so does highlight just how limited the hearing — at which only Ford and Kavanaugh are expected to testify — is shaping up to be.”

* * *

“Bethesda resident describes ‘Culture of Privilege’ leading to exploitation and abuse” [The Montgomery County Sentinel]. “Elizabeth said she infrequently saw Brett Kavanaugh during this time – often at house parties. “He was cute. He was always nice,” she said. One night she ran across an apparently inebriated Brett Kavanaugh and things went differently then. Previously, he had always been nice to her. ‘But not that night. He was drunk. He was obnoxious and crude. I had a friend with me and we left. His football buddies were laughing at us. Maybe they were laughing at him, but I didn’t take it that way and they didn’t do anything to keep him from being a jerk.” • Never good to be laughed at by the football team…

“‘I Was Ashamed’: After Ford’s Accusation, Holton-Arms Alumnae Wrestle with Their Own Truths—Together” [Vanity Fair]. “In interviews with more than a dozen alumni from area schools who graduated between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s, I repeatedly heard stories of parties spiraling into debauchery, with drunken, unsupervised teenagers coupling off with various degrees of privacy. Because the students came from a handful of schools, it was not uncommon for the party’s host to be a stranger. Indeed, many of the people I spoke with said they couldn’t necessarily pinpoint a particular house or give an address. ‘I remember my parents would say, ‘Whose party are you going to?’ And I’d say, ‘I have no idea,’ the Holton alumni who graduated in ’88 told me. “You’d just drive there and look for all the cars.” Another Holton alum, who was on the cheerleading squad with Ford, told me that the squad’s captains warned them not to go anywhere without two other people, and that if they were alone and drunk with local boys, the boys would say something had happened, whether it did or not. ‘This was like an organized sport,’ she recalled. ‘It was very clear that they would pick out a girl and start complimenting them.’ Many witnessed moments like the one Ford described, or heard about them, or experienced them firsthand. ‘When I first read the story on Sunday, I said, ‘Of course this happened,’ a woman who graduated from Holton in the early 2000s told me. ‘This happened so much that there was nothing difficult to believe about what she’s saying. How could anyone doubt this? It felt personal to a lot of us, because her story is so similar to a lot of ours, and so the attacks on her felt personal.’ (Kavanaugh has repeatedly denied the claims against him. ‘I have never sexually assaulted anyone—not in high school, not ever,’ he told Fox News on Monday. ‘I’ve always treated women with dignity and respect.’)’ • Fascinating process of elite formation….

2016 Post Mortem

“They Always Wanted Trump” [Politico]. Re-upping, from 2016: “So to take Bush down, Clinton’s team drew up a plan to pump Trump up. Shortly after her kickoff, top aides organized a strategy call, whose agenda included a memo to the Democratic National Committee: ‘This memo is intended to outline the strategy and goals a potential Hillary Clinton presidential campaign would have regarding the 2016 Republican presidential field,’ it read. ‘The variety of candidates is a positive here, and many of the lesser known can serve as a cudgel to move the more established candidates further to the right. In this scenario, we don’t want to marginalize the more extreme candidates, but make them more ‘Pied Piper’ candidates who actually represent the mainstream of the Republican Party,’ read the memo. We need to be elevating the Pied Piper candidates so that they are leaders of the pack and tell the press to [take] them seriously.'” Trump was on the list. More: ‘Eleven days after those comments about McCain, Clinton aides sought to push the plan even further: An agenda item for top aides’ message planning meeting read, “How do we prevent Bush from bettering himself/how do we maximize Trump and others?'” • You can’t always get what you want…

Stats Watch

GDP, Q2 2018 (Final): “Major readings in the third estimate of second-quarter GDP show only marginal change with the two key headlines unchanged from the second estimate, at a very strong 4.2 percent annualized growth overall and a standout 3.8 percent for consumer spending” [Econoday]. And: “There was minor changes between the second and this third GDP esitmate. I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed good acceleration from last quarter” [Econintersect].

Durable Goods Orders, August 2018: “A big swing higher for civilian aircraft skews August’s durable goods headline which jumped… But when excluding aircraft and other transportation equipment, durable goods orders inched only 0.1 percent higher” [Econoday]. “This is a widely mixed report but underlying it is general strength for manufacturing, a sector that is still getting a boost from capital goods and which the economy is depending on for year-end strength.”

International Trade in Goods, August 2018: “Amid the unfolding of tariff effects, exports are moving in the wrong direction and look to be a big negative for third-quarter GDP” [Econoday]. “Imports are also a negative for the trade balance.” And: “Defence and Civilian aircraft were the main tailwinds this month in the adjusted data. This series has wide swings monthly so our primary metric is the unadjusted three month rolling average which improved and is still growing faster than GDP. This was a stronger report than last month” [Econintersect].

Corporate Profits, Q2 2018: “After-tax corporate profits rose year-on-year” [Econoday].

Retail Inventories [Advance], August 2018: “Retail inventories, like those at wholesalers, will be strong positives for third-quarter GDP” [Econoday].

Wholesale Inventories [Advance], August 2018: “Wholesale inventories look to be a major plus for third-quarter GDP” [Econoday]. “[T]he build in this sector is constructive, reflecting efforts among wholesalers to keep up with demand.”

Jobless Claims, week September 22, 2018: “Initial claims were up sharply in the hurricane-hit Carolinas but overall still managed to remain very subdued” [Econoday].

Pending Home Sales Index, August 2018: “It’s hard to find good news in the housing sector and today’s pending sales index doesn’t offer any” [Econoday]. And: “The rolling averages remain in negative territory. The data is very noisy and must be averaged to make sense of the situation. There is no signs of a surge in home sales despite the headline growth, and the long term trends continue to be generally downward” [Econintersect].

Retail: “Special Report: Juul copycats flood e-cig market, despite FDA rule” [Reuters]. “The sleek Juul electronic cigarettes have become a phenomenon at U.S. high schools, vexing educators and drawing regulatory scrutiny over their sweet flavors and high nicotine content. Now, a new wave of lower-priced Juul knock-offs is showing up at convenience stores, vape shops and online – despite a U.S. Food and Drug Administration rule banning the sale of new e-cigarette products after August 2016 without regulatory approval. Start-ups and major tobacco firms have launched more than a dozen new high-nicotine devices with Juul-like designs since the FDA imposed the deadline.” • Start-ups used to be about “permissionless innovation” (i.e., regulatory arbitrage). Now it seems they’re about “forbidden innovation.” I suppose this could be a form of regulatory arbitrage too; a gamble on regulators being unable to enforce anything. No doubt this was explained to the investors. (E-cigs, I discover after a talk with my local convenience store manager, are super-nasty: Pure nicotine, without even tobacco leaf as an organic substrate. Like huffing bleach, or something. Ick.)

Tech: “What is atrial fibrillation, and why is your watch telling you about it?” [Ars Technica]. The last line: “Their first iteration of the [Apple Watch] hardware and software will be a public health experiment the size of which makes it exceptional.” Don’t medical experiments on humans require informed consent?

Tech: “Exclusive: WhatsApp Cofounder Brian Acton Gives The Inside Story On #DeleteFacebook And Why He Left $850 Million Behind” [Forbes]. “The warning signs emerged before the deal even closed that November. The deal needed to get past Europe’s famously strict antitrust officials, and Facebook prepared Acton to meet with around a dozen representatives of the European Competition Commission in a teleconference. ‘I was coached to explain that it would be really difficult to merge or blend data between the two systems,’ Acton says. He told the regulators as much, adding that he and [co-founder] Koum had no desire to do so. Later he learned that elsewhere in Facebook, there were ‘plans and technologies to blend data.’ Specifically, Facebook could use the 128-bit string of numbers assigned to each phone as a kind of bridge between accounts. The other method was phone-number matching, or pinpointing Facebook accounts with phone numbers and matching them to WhatsApp accounts with the same phone number. Within 18 months, a new WhatsApp terms of service linked the accounts and made Acton look like a liar. ‘I think everyone was gambling because they thought that the EU might have forgotten because enough time had passed.’ No such luck: Facebook wound up paying a $122 million fine for giving ‘incorrect or misleading information’ to the EU—a cost of doing business, as the deal got done and such linking continues today (though not yet in Europe). Linking these overlapping accounts was a crucial first step toward monetizing WhatsApp.” • Looks like Facebook and Uber are, ethically, equals.

Tech: “How Facebook could screw up Instagram” [Recode]. “Instagram is, in many parts of the world, the most culturally relevant technology since texting. And that has everything to do with its founders — Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger — and their teams, who have meticulously shaped it since creation, executing near-flawlessly with tight control…. Instagram is special because the most interesting people in the world, and in your life, are on Instagram, posting the most interesting things that are happening to them (or a mundane slice of reality, depending on the day)…. To the creative set, Instagram is just cool in a way that Facebook could never be cool. It’s why people treat it differently, and I think a big part of why they’ve continued to embrace it. They know Facebook owns it, but they let that slide because Instagram has continued to be cool. Facebook is Mark Zuckerberg standing in a theater of VR-headset-wearing zombies. Instagram is Kevin Systrom at the Met Ball. It’s not bad to be Facebook (minus the Trump-Russia thing, I guess), but it has been very, very good to be Instagram.”

Tech: “Hate-speech detection algorithms are trivial to fool” [Boing Boing]. “[a Finnish-Italian computer science research team] discusses several tactics of varying efficiency, but the most promising and easiest to implement was simply adding the word ‘love’ to a hateful message, while running the ‘hate’ words together in camel-case (e.g. ‘MartiansAreDisgustingAndShouldBeKilled love.'”

Tech: “Adversarial Attacks Against ASR Systems via Psychoacoustic Hiding” [Adversarial Attacks]. “Personal assistants such as Alexa, Siri, or Cortana are widely deployed these days. Such Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) systems can translate and even recognize spoken language and provide a written transcript of the spoken language….. In this work, we demonstrate how an adversary can attack speech recognition systems by generating an audio file that is recognized as a specific audio content by a human listener, but as a certain, possibly totally different, text by an ASR system.” • Yikes!

Tech: Wild Patterns: Ten Years After the Rise of Adversarial Machine Learning” [Pattern Recognition] (PDF). From the Introduction: “Security is an arms race, and the security of machine learning and pattern recognition systems is not an exception to this…. Automatic tools for designing novel variants of attacks have been developed, making large-scale automatization of stealthier attacks practical also for non-skilled attackers…. as we will see throughout this paper, machine learning and pattern recognition techniques turned out not to be the definitive answer to such threats. They introduce specific vulnerabilities that skilled attackers can exploit to compromise the whole system, i.e., machine learning itself can be the weakest link in the security chain.” • Bet you didn’t know you were getting into an arms race when you bought your robot car!

Tech: “Big Tech’s Business Model Is Broken, Report Says” [Wall Street Journal] (original). “The business models powering digital advertising platforms like Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google still undermine user privacy and incentivize disinformation campaigns despite recent efforts by tech companies to prevent abuse, says the report from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and New America, a left-leaning Washington-based think tank…. Among the specific recommendations is for tougher restrictions on tech-related mergers and acquisitions, particularly on those that allow the biggest companies to add to their vast stores of data about consumers. “If data is a source of primary value in the modern economy, then it should be a significant focus of merger review,” the authors write. They also call for more aggressive third-party auditing of algorithms underpinning these systems.”

Transportation: “U.S. airlines score win as Congress drops ‘reasonable fee’ rules” [Reuters]. “The U.S. airline industry scored a win on Saturday as bipartisan congressional legislation dropped plans to mandate ‘reasonable and proportional’ baggage and change fees, but included other new passenger protections.” However: “[The bill] will enshrine in law a prohibition on passengers making mobile phone calls while in flight.” • A welcome note of sanity!

Transportation: “GAO Reports by the Numbers: Physical Infrastructure” [WatchBlog]. “How much did airlines make in FY16 from the fees for checked baggage and the fees for changing or cancelling a reservation? ($7.1 billion).”

Honey for the Bears: “‘Great vampire squid’ no longer — Goldman Sachs has finally rehabbed its reputation, 10 years after the financial crisis” [Business Insider]. “Slightly more American adults would now feel “proud” to work for the Wall Street giant, as opposed to “embarrassed,” according to new data from YouGov’s Plan & Track, a research firm tracking brand awareness and perception… ‘We’re working hard to be more transparent and we are pleased that some of the work is gaining traction,’ a Goldman spokesman said.” • I think Goldman has always been transparent. Minsky moment, here we come!


“Get down and dirty with workers repairing Oroville Dam spillway in this night shift video” (video) [Sacramento Bee (GF)].


“Mosquitoes are eating plastic and spreading it to new food chains” [New Scientist] (original). • Unfortubately, they’re only eating it. They’re not digesting it.

“Cuba’s thriving honey business” [The Economist]. The deck: “Agricultural backwardness makes for healthy hives.” • Yeah, just wait ’til Monsanto gets in there….

“First Fully Automated Indoor Farm Being Built In Ohio” [Forbes (DL)]. “In an interview with iGrow, [Mike Zelkind, cofounder and chief executive officer of 80 Acres Farms,] explains, ’80 Acres grows products much faster than in the traditional outdoor environment or even in a greenhouse environment. We can control all the factors, like CO2 levels, and when and how much to deliberately stress the plant to get the right level of nutrition and flavor.'” • No icky soil!

UPDATE “Oil and Gas Keeps Pushing Denver Smog Levels to Dangerous Highs” [ClimateWest]. “According to the latest data from the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division, this past summer, 16 monitoring sites along the Front Range registered exceedances of federal limits on ground-level ozone…. The main reason for this unhealthy smog pollution? Increasing air pollution from ramped up fracking. In fact, the State of Colorado estimates that as of 2017, the oil and gas industry is responsible for 44% of all volatile organic compound emissions (more than all cars and trucks) and more than a quarter of all nitrogen oxide emissions in the Denver Metro Area.” • My image of Colorado was a little bit different…

“I saw Florence sending millions of gallons of animal poop flooding across North Carolina” [WaPo]. “I also saw how the industrial chicken production facilities had flooded. Water had gone over the chicken barns, washing the waste from their floors down our streams. I didn’t see the corpses of animals, though I knew they were inside. In the past, the facilities used to open the doors during storms to let the animals out, but the images we collected were so horrific that the practice ended.” • Ugh. I’m unlikely to become a vegetarian any time soon, but I’m not sure we need a lot of cheap meat this much…

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

“House to Vote on ‘Human Trafficking’ Bill That Strengthens PATRIOT Act Spying” [“>Reason]. USA PATRIOT Act continues to metastatize.

Neoliberal Epidemics

“How Erectile Dysfunction Pills Hooked Younger Guys” [Medium]. “Then, George read an article about the company Ro, a web-savvy startup selling affordable, generic forms of Viagra via an app, with a price tag closer to $6 per dose.”

Class Warfare

“Judge: Proof of Kingston coal ash workers exposure to toxins ‘legion,’ enough for trial” [Knox News]. “A federal judge says hundreds of blue-collar laborers who cleaned up the nation’s largest environmental disaster have amassed enough evidence to allow an East Tennessee jury to decide if the coal ash in which they toiled unprotected for years is killing them….. More than 30 workers are dead, and more than 200 are dying since the spill. The workers and their survivors say supervisors of the California government contractor TVA put in charge of the clean-up of the 5 million cubic yards of coal ash – loaded with toxins including arsenic and radium – lied to them, denied them protective gear and tampered, influenced and destroyed test results.”

“Truck driver salaries have fallen by as much as 50% since the 1970s — and experts say a little-known law explains why” [Business Insider]. “A Business Insider analysis showed that median wages for truck drivers have decreased 21% on average since 1980. In some areas, they’ve declined as much as 50%… Trucking is obviously resistant to outsourcing, and self-driving technology has yet to replace any drivers. Still, its pay, prestige, and working conditions have tumbled over the past several decades…. So, why are America’s 1.8 million truck drivers faring worse today than they did in the 1970s? The academics who study trucking point to one law: The Motor Carrier Act of 1980…. ‘This was a conscious decision to make the trucking industry a dog-eat-dog industry,’ Larry Mishel, a distinguished fellow at the Economic Policy Institute, told Business Insider. ‘The prices of trucking got cheaper, but the ability to make a living evaporated.’… Economists say that wage decline can be traced back to the ease with which a company could enter the trucking industry.” • Hmm.

“If Oxford shrugs” [Prospect].

House to Vote on ‘Human Trafficking’ Bill That Strengthens PATRIOT Act Spying Reason. USA PATRIOT Act continues to metastatize.

News of the Wired

“Do boring speakers really talk for longer?” [Nature]. • Yes!

“Do You Know Cobol? If So, There Might Be a Job for You.” [Wall Street Journal]. • I wonder if it’s too late to learn….

“It’s Over! Vancouver Has ‘Sorriest Bus Stop'” (photos) [StreetsBlog]. Runner up: Cincinnatti!

No, this is not a primaries reference:

* * *

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 (DS):

DS writes: “Patio garden, Bay Area.” That stonework looks like it would feel very nice against bare feet.

* * *

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?

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!

To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.


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

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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. JohnnyGL

    Just tossing this one out there for the commentariat to chew on….

    Hypothetical….if Blasey-Ford wasn’t an esteemed professor, but instead was a wal-mart cashier or bus driver or other working class occupation, would she be considered “credible”? Would she have even gotten in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee for hearings?

    FWIW, I did catch a little bit of her initial testimony and she was clear, precise, and very measured with her words. Kavanaugh’s probably toast….just a matter of time before Trump pulls him in order to save the Republican Party from having to go on record as yes/no votes.

    1. Carolinian

      Or to put it yet another way if the accused was a widely liked and respected Democratic nominee for the SC would many of the same who are now outraged dismiss it as a youthful mistake? Perhaps we should concede that this is also a power struggle and not just about a quest for justice. For that reason it’s highly unlikely that the truth–whatever it may be–is ever going to be known. It’s the “ends justify the means” attitude that makes some of us very uncomfortable. Attack Kavanaugh for what is known–his judicial views. Going to the character attack reinforces the notion that “good” people only make mistakes whereas “bad” people do evil.

      The WSWS has more


      1. pretzelattack

        people can judge credibility for themselves. i’m sure if the party of the president nominating this guy changed then the supporters would be democrats and the opponents republicans. the democrats, once upon a time, opposed (with varying degrees of conviction) republicans smearing everyone on the left as soviet agents or dupes; now the parties have to some extent changed places on this issue, but the great majority of those smeared were in fact not communists and certainly not soviet agents–the stance of the parties doesn’t determine whether something is a smear or not. imo, an example of “ends justify the means” would be using a source like bellingcat, as the democrats do, or curveball, as the republicans did in the runup to iraq 2 to lie–both of whom benefited greatly from being used this way. i don’t think that dr. ford is benefiting from this, and i see a very obvious cost to her reputation and her privacy.

        1. clarky90


          Scott Adams speaks of two people watching the same movie, but each perceiving, (see and hear), the diametrical opposite of, “the other’s” POV. (They are inhabiting “Mirror Worlds”)

          Here is a current example;
          Brett Kavanaugh’s SCARY Opening Statements
          posted by The Young Turks

          and then, the same 42 minute BK statement, but posted by Mark Dice
          Brett Kavanaugh’s Powerful Opening Statement

          Read the comments in both clips.
          Two different Worlds. Two different realities. Different forms of sentience.
          Super science fiction, happening right in front of us.

          Very disturbing to see this disconnection in a society.

          1. Oregoncharles

            POV matters a great deal. There’s a famous Japanese movie about exactly this. It even involves sex. Wish I could remember the title.

          2. Isotope_C14

            If our education system was designed to produce critical thinking skills instead of obedient capitalist cogs, I would agree with seeing this as disturbing.

            Even entertainment reinforces this. Imagine actually caring which team wins. I find that in-group, out-group sense of meaning signifies a deep pathology of capitalist brainwashing.

          3. Roger Smith

            I was watching these opposing realities in real time between PBS and Fox News stream commentary during the recesses. Even this morning as I was reading between BB and WaPo. From what I saw, I felt they were both emotionally appealing. That worries me about both of them because emotional appeal doesn’t necessarily lead to truth or justice. Ford is puzzling because she is a psychological professor who should know about the unreliability of polygraphs. She also would be seem to be a good candidate for someone best able to handle trauma like this given her subsequent area of expertise (not that it is a requirement). What really bothered me was how much her story of the assault sounded like a scene from a TV or film drama, especially with the fixation on the laughter. I felt like I could see the editing and “camera shots” throughout, not that this means anything, but it plays back into my reluctance to judge based on emotional appeals.

            Kavanaugh has every reason to deny as well and appeal emotionally regardless of the truth. I found it funny that Klobuchar was so fixated on getting him to reopen an investigation into his own alleged criminal acts. Who the heck would do that? Self-incrimination is the worst thing to do, especially if you are innocent. What is the onus on him for?

            This is an impossible situation and more evidence that the focus on sexual abuse should be empowering victims to come forward when such things are relevant to investigation and prosecution, instead of coming along decades later or at politically expedient times with this mindless mantra of “I believe you” sycophancy and haphazard protests.

            I also think this is impossible politically now as well. Trump et al. can’t give him, or the Democrats will use it as a scepter for votes in November, but he also can’t force him through and risk losing GOP votes. In the end I think the Democrats will end up getting this guy on the SCOTUS bench, whether he should be there (most likely not–but for issues of jurisprudence) or not.

            1. HotFlash

              She also would be seem to be a good candidate for someone best able to handle trauma like this given her subsequent area of expertise (not that it is a requirement).

              Prof Ford has mentioned her therapy previously. Possibly it is the trauma and subsequent therapy that led her to her area of study?

              While I’m here, another commenter (maybe on twitter?) suggested that she should have just ‘gotten on with her life’. Well, it appears that she did, until the guy who (allegedly, I totally grant) caused the trauma got nominated to the Supreme Court. Seems reasonable to me.

      2. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks for the link. I strongly agree that Kavanaugh should be attacked on the basis of his mendacity and ultra-right-wing decisions and politics. He is neither fit nor fitting to serve this country’s highest court. I believe his legal views are well apart from contemporary community standards of all but a very small community. I don’t believe he is even fit to serve on a jury.

        His alleged sexual activities should not be the basis for rejecting his nomination. We are in sorry times when unproven and unprovable accusations alone suffice to discredit a nominee for high office.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Elections and nominations aren’t in a vacuum. I’m being cyncial about that aspect, but #MeToo is a little too close and combined with what the HRC campaign did towards Sanders and his supporters, that hypothetical candidate would need to have a real hold on the Democratic electorate to not be nixed much like Hillary or Bill.

        Then given the state of the economy, what is the rate of sexual harassment between boss and employee versus ten or twenty years ago? The real economy has to be taken into account. The story about Kavanaugh only hiring a certain kind of female strikes me as potentially part of a wider problem.

        My guess is those people who are eager to defend Kavanaugh aren’t worried about freedom of expression or being misunderstood.

      4. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Just watched recently a lecture by Daileader (of William and Mary College, the Teaching Company DVD) on witchcraft in the late Middle Ages.

        A witch is defined as a combination of a heretic and a maleficient magician, as in an evil magician. A magician is someone with great mysterious, non-intuitive powers by performing specific rituals or techniques.

        So when we categorize, today, people with powers into good and evil, and those who agree with us and those who don’t, we get the same combination.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          And that combination was very unfortunate, the professor said.

          Before that, people were either heretics or magicians, who were treated badly enough. Then, it got worse, much worse…speaking of good and evil (forgot to mention that at the very top of my comment).

          1. LifelongLib

            It depended too on what type of magic. Until the end of the 17th century there was no clear distinction between science and things like astrology or alchemy, so those types of magic could be practiced more or less openly. On the other hand, putting a hex on your neighbor’s cow could get you executed.

            1. Wukchumni

              If you professed to not needing invisible means of support in the guise of dogma not so long ago, there was hell to pay.

        2. Alex V

          Can’t wait until this:

          “great mysterious, non-intuitive powers by performing specific rituals or techniques”

          applies to the Invisible Hand.

      5. Tom Bradford

        “Use every man after his desert, and who should ‘scape whipping?” – Hamlet.

        OK, he was young, foolish and just fitting into his social melieu. Had he been willing to admit that and honestly apologised to these women asking for their forgiveness perhaps I could have accepted his becoming a Supreme Court Justice.

        But as I side with the women in this matter, for to stand up to not only disclose their own part in this – getting drunk and going to ‘those’ sorts of parties in the first place – but to take the sort of stick they’re now getting just to stop this particular character being promoted doesn’t make any kind of sense, it’s the fact that Kavanaugh is not only lying but is dishonestly further ‘assaulting’ these women by calling them liars when he knows the truth, that totally disqualifies him from any kind of judicial position let alone the Supreme Court.

        1. Carolinian

          it’s the fact that Kavanaugh is not only lying but is dishonestly further ‘assaulting’ these women by calling them liars when he knows the truth

          A fact because you say so? You are entitled to your opinion, as are we all, but please call it that. There’s far too much unverified declaration of “facts” going around these days. If you think you have “proof,” the thing necessary for facts, then please explain.

      6. Octopii

        After today’s performance I can now attack him for his temperament under pressure. He’s clearly unfit for a seat on the SC.

    2. edmondo

      …if Blasey-Ford wasn’t an esteemed professor, but instead was a wal-mart cashier or bus driver or other working class occupation, would she be considered “credible”?

      We already know the answers to both Johnny and Carolinian’s questions:

      “If you drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find.”

    3. DJG

      The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labour of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge…[marks] the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power.

      –Theodor Adorno, Minima Moralia: Reflections from a Damaged Life

      {This is how we live now. The question is when and how things will start to give way.}

      1. Olga

        It seems they are already giving way. It may be imperceptible to many only because most people don’t think in terms of systems, deep causes and consequences, and don’t see the connections. I have lib’ral friends who despair over DT, but are perfectly content with the demise of the unions. It never occurs to them that this demise is directly connected to the losing numbers among the Dem party candidates. And there are many more examples… (the creaking seems of the borg (as confirmed even by Penn) is just another one. What the h*ll, DT’s election is also one.

        1. Jean

          “The confounding of truth and lies, making it almost impossible to maintain a distinction, and a labour of Sisyphus to hold on to the simplest piece of knowledge…[marks] the conversion of all questions of truth into questions of power.”

          Sounds like the manifesto for the beginning of the long march of
          Cultural Marxism through academe?

    4. ArcadiaMommy

      Well they would not be able to afford private security, attorneys, multiple alternate accommodations, time off work, childcare, etc.

      So logistics.

    5. Rosario

      True that, though I can’t be wholly dismissive of the affair even if it is largely politically motivated as far as the support for her being allowed to testify. It is significant that something like her testimony is even possible. Digging into US history I can’t see anything similar. A women being listened to about a sexual assault trauma, on its own merits, in a very public forum, without too much baggage behind it (as with Jim Crow racism in the Emmett Till case). I don’t think she would cause herself this much personal discomfort just to stick it to the Republicans.

      Even if there is some vast Democrat conspiracy behind it (as Kavanaugh himself seems to believe), they would be playing with fire. I sense there is some apprehension from Democrats for this very reason. I can off the top of my head think of about a dozen prominent Democrat men that have had sexual abuse allegations from at least one to several women. This also has the potential, if it is for real, real, to usher in a flood of stories from other women affecting men in both parties. Not exactly a safe bet to bring down Kavanaugh if it drags down half of the Democratic party’s own big men.

      So, the question is, if these stories and others like them eventually dampen the power of the good-ol boys club, does it, as Adolph Reed has put it WRT plural 1%, simply create a good-ol girls club, similar for other identities, minorities, etc.

      I still think there is a possibility for this to lead to universal benefits for all people. Time will tell.

    6. johnnygl

      Thanks to all who participated…the answer i was looking for was,

      “Don’t be silly Johnny! Poor people don’t get to party with Bret Kavanaugh’s crowd. They can’t even get close to wealthy people like him!!!”

    7. False Solace

      > just a matter of time before Trump pulls him in order to save the Republican Party from having to go on record

      That’s not really how I see Trump operating. Trump is all about the projection and perception of dominance. Gold plated shower heads, sculpted ex-wives, reality TV show where he portrayed the biggest of big shots. His communication style consists of demeaning insults, dumbed down vocab, vague statements with lots of repetition for channel flippers who don’t read. Withdrawing Kavanaugh would be evidence of weakness, Trump doesn’t do that. What he does is deals. If he withdraws Kavanaugh it’s in exchange for something. It looks like Rosenstein was pretty much explicitly on the table but we may never know exactly what gets traded.

      I can easily see the Republicans pushing Kavanaugh through. Mother Theresa could testify and it wouldn’t matter. They don’t GAF what liberals think. Dinosaur conservatives always blame the victim. Their base is with them.

      1. johnnygl

        You certainly have a point about how trump operates, but the health care bill went down in flames and he managed to lay the blame on congressional leadership.

        I think he’s more personally committed to kav’s nomination, though.

        I still think kav goes down in flames if it comes to a vote. His poll numbers are horrible.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          but the health care bill went down in flames

          How many of the Republicans in Congress expected a GOP President in 2017? The answer is 2, maybe 3. That whole lets repeal ACA every day act was a stunt. It worked great too. Obama passed the wet dream of Republican leadership and took the blame.

          Then came John McCain to be a maverick just in the nick of time.

          1. wilroncanada

            johnnygl & NotTimothyGeithner
            Just because DT has ‘skin in the game’ in the planned Kavanaugh coronation doesn’t mean that he is wedded to him, or indeed to any individual being advocate for any position. They are all, in his view, convenient tools to make him look good. Therefore, if the nomination of Kavanaugh becomes toxic to him, notwithstanding Republican Party preferences, he will arrange for that person’s disappearance in a way that, in his consideration, will not reflect on him. In other words, he will not fire him, but will get one of his confidants, likely Jared, to give him the bad/good news.
            It will be likely promoted as a ‘withdrawal in order to save his family from more pain. At least, that’s what will happen in the next few days (weeks?), if that is what shows up on Fox News a day or two earlier. Always watch Fox (I don’t) to determine what the President does next.
            And the twofer? He can blame it on the giant conspiracy of Democrats and news media against his highness.
            Never do yourself what you can get a minion, even one related to you, to do for you. The bully/coward’s creed.

      2. ChiGal in Carolina

        ding ding ding we have a winner! Kava came out swinging, they’ll push him though and pay for it in the midterms. What an ugly guy

    8. marym

      If Kavanaugh were an African American cashier or bus driver or other working class occupation, high school drinking would be portrayed as justification for a cop shooting him at a traffic stop years later.

    9. montanamaven

      My take on this is that Christine Ford, inspired by the Me Too movement to be a warrior in the Resistance, decided to try to warn the Senate Dems about Brett Cavanaugh when she discovered he was on the President’s short list. So DiFi, instead of bringing this information to the President at the time, decides to go all “House of Cards” and keep it secret in case Kavanaugh became the nominee. Then the Dems could derail the President’s nominee when they saw fit. So Lindsay Graham is totally right when he called them on their cynical use of Prof. Ford to try to win votes in November and derail the Trump administration’s agenda.

      1. allan

        Maybe we should believe the reporter who broke the story for The Intercept:

        Ryan Grim Verified account @ryangrim

        Feinstein’s staff did not leak the letter to The Intercept

          1. ChiGal in Carolina

            She said she told some friends. Word got out and the press started calling, that’s when she decided to get out in front of it

          2. allan

            Ryan Grim Verified account @ryangrim 2h2 hours ago

            Nor did she or her staff leak the existence of the letter to The Intercept. After our story, she turned it over to the FBI, which placed it in his background file, which meant that it became widely available and soon after it was leaked to CNN

            Thank you for asking.

    10. Bridget

      “FWIW, I did catch a little bit of her initial testimony and she was clear, precise, and very measured with her words.”

      Odd that. I perceived her to be childlike and fey, and judged her to be easily manipulated and suggestible.

  2. Mike

    Love those flowers! It’s overcast right now in Southern California where we also have them. The brilliant purple against the gray sky makes a vivid contrast.

  3. grayslady

    I just listened to Christine Ford’s opening remarks. I now understand why she hesitated to come forward. The poor woman, and her family (including her parents!), have received death threats, her email was hacked, and she was hounded by reporters while trying to teach her classes. She struck me as very credible.

    Like most young people, I, too, would have been afraid to admit to my parents that I had been somewhere I shouldn’t have been. Fortunately, my father was very strict about what time I was supposed to be home from a date–something that rescued me from unpleasant situations more than once. Also, I refused to attend parties where I didn’t know the host or where I knew the parents weren’t at home. That was just common sense to me, even if my date wasn’t very happy about my response; but I understand the pressure that young people feel to go along with a bad idea.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Like most young people, I, too, would have been afraid to admit to my parents that I had been somewhere I shouldn’t have been.

      And then to also have to admit that something bad, like “that,” had happened.

      The idea that “loving” parents, especially catholic ones (like mine), would have gone to the police to report the incident in an effort to obtain “justice” for their daughter is beyond absurd. The “church” was unambiguous–these things only “happen” to “bad girls.” And bad girls were the result of bad parents.

      A few days ago there was a link here from Sic Temper Tyrannis that said that the country club set remembered Dr. Ford, 36 years later, as a girl who “put the ‘crazy’ in ‘boy crazy.’ ”

      Not much appears to have changed.

    2. clarky90

      “Fortunately, my father was very strict…”

      I was a strict and omnipresent father to my two boys. They are both grown up now, and happily battling on, making their own lives. My oldest son and daughter-in-law are now, watching over their two children.

      My father (RIP Dad) was “asleep at the wheel”. His parental supervision was cursory; he was working, busy, depressed, politically correct, preoccupied with “important” issues…..As a result, his five children (me included) have struggled to thrive. No direction, no boundaries, no faith, no community. He was incredibly successful at everything that didn’t matter, and a hopeless failure at his most “important assignment”, being a good father.

      IMO, the sustained ridicule of good fathers and good families is societally, self-destructive. “I wonder what will happen if we start removing the foundations of this building? What purpose could these lumpy, ancient foundation blocks possibly serve? We are of The Woke Modernity now! Marching into a glorious self-visualized silicon future. Whoo Rhaaaa!”

        1. clarky90

          Hi LyonNightroad

          Your understanding is back-to-front. My wife was an on-call midwife, here in NZ. I was the house-husband/dad. We consciously raised our children. That is what we did for 20 years. They grew up, and both left home at age 17 yo. They are engineers. I dare not meddle in their lives now. They know what they are doing!

          Presently, I am approaching 70 yo. So I focus on God and good health.

          So, no “coincidence” here, but rather, experience and observation.

    3. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Seems to me there’s a question of *character* and then there’s a question of *beliefs*. I think a SC justice should be quizzed 95% on the latter and 5% on the former. As much as women’s complaints need to be heard, if Kavanaugh were to get in it’s very unlikely people would be further harmed by his character, but much more likely they’d be harmed by his implementing his beliefs.

      But that’s the Dem way. Avoid any discussion or debate on policy: because that will simply make it clear to people just exactly what disingenuous and two-faced liars they are. Focus on personalities, and slogans, and tweets, so the plebes will not clue in to their massive bait-and-switcheroo.

      Treating the polity like a two-bit circus is perfect way to make sure there’s no change and no hope, so instead of any substantive approach to our massive problems we get yelled at about what did or didn’t happen at a frat house party 35 years ago. Perfect, if you’re a Dem who just wants to war, spy, and steal while everybody’s looking the other way.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        If the Democratic Senators cared about Kavanaugh’s beliefs ( which they don’t), they would have made an issue of Kavanaugh’s beliefs ( which they won’t).

      2. Darthbobber

        Most of the Democratic questioning before these accusations was exactly about beliefs, record and views on matters guaranteed to come before the court. But it mostly bounced off. In a way that this has not.

  4. Summer

    “In interviews with more than a dozen alumni from area schools who graduated between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s, I repeatedly heard stories of parties spiraling into debauchery, with drunken, unsupervised teenagers coupling off with various degrees of privacy…”

    Well then…all this is making all pearl clutching about “millennial” hook up culture seem business as usual (maybe even tame) by comparison. It’s just that there is video and surveillence everywhere now, unlike the past.
    Should make for some interesting family dinner conversation.
    Culture starts in the home…

    1. Massinissa

      Studies are showing Millenials and whatever current teenagers are called having less sex due to more socializing being mediated electronically.

  5. rjs

    10% growth in RVs has led the recovery, so that’s not unusual, but seeing increased consumption of food as a significant contributor to GDP is pretty odd; here’s what i have:

    growth of real personal consumption expenditures (PCE), the largest component of GDP, remained the same as the 3.8% growth rate reported last month in this estimate…that growth rate figure was arrived at by deflating the 5.9% growth rate in the dollar amount of consumer spending with the PCE price index, which indicated that consumer inflation was at a 2.0% annual rate in the 2nd quarter, which was revised from the 1.9% PCE inflation rate reported a month ago…real (inflation adjusted) consumption of durable goods grew at a 8.6% annual rate, which was unrevised from the growth rate shown in the second estimate, and added 0.60 percentage points to GDP, as an increase in real consumption of recreational goods and vehicles at a 9.4% rate accounted for a third of the durables goods increase…real personal consumption of nondurable goods rose at a 4.0% annual rate, revised from the 3.7% rate shown in the 2nd estimate, and added 0.56 percentage points to 2nd quarter economic growth, as greater consumption of food at home accounted for 40% of the quarter’s non-durable growth, while there was a modest contraction in consumption of energy goods….meanwhile, real consumption of services rose at a 3.0% annual rate, revised from the 3.1% growth rate reported last month, and added 1.42 percentage points to the final GDP tally, as real consumption of food services and accommodations rose at a 8.1% rate and accounted for nearly a third of the 2nd quarter growth in services…

    services is usually led by housing or health care

    1. Wukchumni

      I keep seeing RV’s so gawldamned big, that they barely fit in traffic lanes, and the bigger they are, the more grandiose of a moniker. Saw one last week that went by the name of:


      There’s about 400,000 acres of backcountry in Sequoia/Kings NP, but i’ve never seen a vehicle there yet.

      RV’s plummet in value pretty quickly, but imagine instead of a housing bubble, there was an RV bubble?

      A 1991 Fleetwood with 93k miles would be worth $150k, instead of $10k.

      1. rjs

        for that to happen, the value of your currency would have to be falling pretty quickly…

        ie, part of what kicked off the 70s rise in housing prices was hedging against inflation…even though houses are worth less in real terms as they get older, when your underlying inflation rate is high enough, they appear to increase in value…that apparent appreciation brings in more and more buyers, and next thing you know you have a bubble…

      1. Wukchumni

        I’d guess that about 627 out of 712 RV’s-5th Wheels-Trailers i’ve seen on people’s driveways are never going on vacation, as somebody is living there now.

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          Aye. In my portion of the hinterlands, this is also the case. RV equals spare room for poor relations. Also, taxed as personal, rather than real, property.
          There’s been a noticeable proliferation of these in the last ten years or so…even in the more affluent local driveways/backyards

  6. Wukchumni

    “How Erectile Dysfunction Pills Hooked Younger Guys” [Medium]. “Then, George read an article about the company Ro, a web-savvy startup selling affordable, generic forms of Viagra via an app, with a price tag closer to $6 per dose.”

    I know somebody, whose drug cocktail is cocaine, viagra & meth, all in one serving. Last time I saw him he was wearing clothes a few sizes too big and looked the part of somebody that had just been let out of a concentration camp after systematically being starved for years.

    1. Unna

      Meth will do that to you, especially the concentration camp analogy. Has been noted by more than a few people. Very sad but very true.

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Zeuss beard! I joined FetLife.Com on day 4 of my meth binge in Denver. No sleep woohoo. I was so horny i even watched straight porn while my gay fried tried to stick a dildo in my butt. Lol. Needless to say i couldnt get off because im not gay apparently. I thin i wound up suckin some big girls titties in my hotel bathroom.

      But who needs viagra when ur on blow (coke)!!!! I used to f for weeks it seemed with my old sorority gf (Geaux Thetas!!!).

      Tbh weed takes away my libideaux.

    3. Daryl

      Those viagra analogues took over the advertising on every podcast I listen to about a month ago. Very strange, I think they’ve been around for a long time but not sure where the sudden push is coming from.

  7. Wukchumni

    B.K. has gone bankrupt, and is trying to blame the donkey show for his shit show, and has the look of a hostile witness.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          From the Middle Ages, Trial by Combat;

          Trial by combat (also wager of battle, trial by battle or judicial duel) was a method of Germanic law to settle accusations in the absence of witnesses or a confession in which two parties in dispute fought in single combat; the winner of the fight was proclaimed to be right.

          Today, it’s Trial by Verbal Combat.

          The winner, judged by TV viewers to some degrees, but really the senators are the deciding judges, will be proclaimed to be right.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      I’ve listened to everything so far…
      Ford was very credible, and Kavanagh is both in turns credible and evasive.

      But with no corroboration (or as Kavanagh put it “refutation by the “witnesses”)…

      I bet he’ll be confirmed tomorrow.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I didn’t have the time, so I have to ask those who have watched.

        How would you compare that with watching the film Rashomon?


        1. Fiery Hunt


          I wouldn’t be surprised if he did what Ford alleges but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s not accurate in her recollections either.

          We’re all such imperfect people.

        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          This, along with the delay however well-intentioned, is why people hate politicians. It was all about power for them, not the truth.

          And CBF gets caught in the meat grinder. K I’m not sorry for: he put up a fight so the RS will back him but he was totally partisan and came off as exactly the kind of belligerent character who would bully women.

      2. allan

        You might be right – the GOP are terrified of their base and their donors.
        Remember what Chris Collins said last Fall about the tax bill –
        “My donors are basically saying, ‘Get it done or don’t ever call me again.”
        You have to think the same thing is happening with Kavanaugh.

        In the meantime, the farce continues: from BK’s testimony to Wiki in real time:

        Jane C. Timm Verified account @janestreet

        A House of Reps IP address edits ‘Devil’s Triangle’ entry on Wikipedia to include
        Brett Kavanaugh’s claim that it’s a drinking game.

        1. Fiery Hunt

          Even my 72 year old Dyed-in-the-wool Democrat Trump Hater mother can’t stand DiFi right now.

          Help DiFI in November? …no freaking way. Particularly after she spent the afternoon being the punching bag (rightfully so).

          Will she be re-elected?

          Of course.

  8. DonCoyote

    Sometimes I feel like I am the only one that doesn’t care that much about the ongoing Kavanaugh saga (in part because it feels too much like Kabuki, with the outcome already predetermined).

    So…let’s talk about Lambert’s use of “jack move” (on the part of Trump). At first, I thought he was just dropping sly SF references–but the last time I thought he was doing that (Sacrifice Zones), they turned out to be a real thing.

    I’m not seeing that kind of evidence for “jack move” (Japanese RPG that could have been inspired by Gibson, or vice versa), and definition six in the Urban Dictionary is: “a wild, foolish, eccentric move or type of behaviour”. Which is fairly close to my memory of how it’s defined in Virtual Light (my copy is 900 miles away), the first time I encountered the term. But I am curious if other people recognize it, and if so, from what source or context.

    1. FFA

      I’ve only seen it in a William Gibson novel. That doesn’t mean much though, as I lead a sheltered life. But I thought it was one of the Blue Ant novels rather than Virtual Light ?

      I know I’ve seen the use of The Jackpot around these parts, Gibson hit the spot with that one :-(

      1. bassmule

        NWA “Straight Outta Compton” released 8/8/88 but I really don’t think this one was a Chinese conspiracy. Then again, I’ve led a very sheltered life:

        “So give it up smooth
        Ain’t no tellin when I’m down for a jack move
        Here’s a murder rap to keep ya dancin
        with a crime record like Charles Manson”

        I would link, but there’s just too much [Family blog].

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      “Jack move” comes from William Gibson’s Pattern Recognition. The heroine, Cayce, muses:

      (It’s icing on the cake that Cayce’s dim-witted, unintentionally funny, and “very beautiful” one-time boyfriend is named Donny, since the book was written in 2003. One reason I like Gibson more than I should, perhaps.

  9. George Phillies

    ” Fascinating process of elite formation…. ”

    Now we know one reason why our country is run by total losers without a clue.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I care about the Kavanaugh saga because it represents a disturbing breakdown in the processes to advice and consent in executive appointments to high office. I also care because the of volume of noise generated which covers other events and leaves me wondering … but what is the left hand doing?

      Like you I am mystified by Lambert reference to a “jack move”. However I am also mystified by many of the references commenters make to new words, phrases, and idioms, and I am especially mystified by some of the undefined acronyms — even common ones like ‘IMHO’. It takes me a minute or two to connect meaning with acronym. I had to deal with so many acronyms at work that when I retired I committed myself to actively forgetting them … only to find them bubbling up in common tongue and short writing.

      I am getting potty. This comment should go to DonCoyote … although it might also partly fit your comment. The fascinating process is a little too fascinating at this juncture. I hope this total loser [Kavanaugh] does not end up on our high court. Then there will be many total losers all around.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > IMHO

        In My Humble Opinion, often, and fairly, replaced by IMNSHO, In My Not So Humble Opinion.

        Those are good reasons to care about the Kavanaugh saga, and similar to my own. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity for study and learning about some serious issues. (That’s how I’m treating it, though I think I’m in a small minority).

        However, I don’t think that a Kavanaugh win for Democrats will make one iota of difference for women workers at Walmart, or McDonalds, or in hospitals, or anywhere else. There’s simply no reason to think that Bourgeois (“Third Wave”) Feminism will work out net positive for working class people of either (ok, any) gender. We know this, because we have seen it in action in the Clinton campaign. “Never, ever” basically applies to any material improvement for working class people. (And don’t @ me on Roe v Wade. If the Democrats had been “fighting” tooth and nail on judicial appointments, we wouldn’t have the Court that we have, and in any case, hanging “a woman’s right to her own body” on court decisions, though beloved of the professional classes that form the base of both the Democrat Party and Third Wave feminism, was a horrid strategic blunder — contrast the victories for gay marriage, which were organic and from the ground up — for which everybody is now paying. End rant.)

        On “jack move” see elsewhere on this thread.

  10. skippy

    Was watching a doco on computer gaming last night, key marketing phrases from start to currant – user friendly – has become – lifestyle [choice].

    Being that its suggested the *code is law* might I suggest the above supersedes the programing kind.

    Off to work on a remodel job that resembles Johnny Cash’s song ‘One Piece at a Time’ – Cadillac. Three weeks having morphed into all most three months of back and forth ending in repainting the entire house inside and out, new and old. Economics is strange thingy…..

  11. Pat

    Another in the signs I cannot ignore category:

    For the grift is going to the Dems this season, I give you Steve Schmidt (famed from the McCain/Palin campaign) announcing his first ever fundraiser for a Democratic candidate.
    For the Democratic Party is now largely the party for former Republicans, Steve Schmidt announcing his first ever fundraiser for a Democratic candidate.
    (Unfortunately I missed the name of the candidate.)

    1. Big River Bandido

      Steve Schmidt announcing his first ever fundraiser for a Democratic candidate. (Unfortunately I missed the name of the candidate.)

      It’s understandable. This cycle, it could be any one of dozens of “Democrats”.

    2. edmondo

      For the Democratic Party is now largely the party for former Republicans, Steve Schmidt announcing his first ever fundraiser for a Democratic candidate.

      Yep. And this is the party that progressives think Bernie Sanders is going to take over. LOL.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It could bet much harder in the near future, if all those ex-spies (or just spies) prevail in November.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t think progressives can take over the party (something I’ve changed my mind about, or at least abandoned the hope of), at least not this or next election cycle.

        However, I do think they can chew away at its guts from the inside and immobilize it, allowing forces outside it to emerge. This is ugly and thankless but important work. And lose a few, too, like Gillum. That was fast.

        1. dcrane

          “However, I do think they can chew away at its guts from the inside and immobilize it, allowing forces outside it to emerge.”

          There is something viscerally pleasing about that characterization.

          1. Amfortas the Hippie

            I, too, have abandoned what hope I had clung to that they could be changed from within. My own characterization is that the Vichydems have sewn themselves up into a rotting corpse, and that we should stop trying to gain entry into that bloated relic, and instead find some living,breathing alternative…in spite of the bipartisan barriers to entry.
            The all important Donors will cease support once the corpse party has no voters…so the whole exercise is futile in any case.
            “Consent of the Governed” ,lol.
            No legitimacy, anywhere.
            I seceded a longtime ago, in spirit, at least.

        2. HotFlash

          Progressives take over the party? About as likely as a third party winning any useful offices. But a pincer attack? Yeah, go for it, all of the above. You third partiers, stop ragging on the take-over-from-within people, and vice versa. One of you may be right, we don’t know which, and perhaps both will finally collapse that rotting carcass that is the Dem Party. Whatever finally does them in, we are allies.

  12. Big River Bandido

    If Andrew Gillum is acceptable to Hillary Clinton, he’s probably unacceptable to me.

    For the life of me, I can’t imagine why Gillum would make such a stupid move.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Telegraphing his real nature. But the alternative is a real piece of work too. I guess more Hopenchange is all we get — “Please sir, could I have a little more?”

      My local Dem party gang, all intersectional and flip charts and identity and coalitions and the rest, is just eating Gillum’s stuff up. But then they just love Debbie Wasserman Schultz, and also hate them some Russians… And look what the general FL secret club labeled “Democrat” serves up for candidates for high office — Charlie Crist, party switcher and tanned beach guy extraordinaire, and Alex Sink — an onomatopoetic name if ever there was one.

    2. Elizabeth Burton

      For the simple reason that if one running as a Democrat doesn’t give lip service to the Democrat establishment, that establishment will simply hand the election over to the Republican, with whom it will have decided it has more in common.

      I’m also less put off by the phrase “affordable health care” as others seem to be. It’s not the same as “access to affordable health care,” which is the terminology the hardcore New Dems use. After all, free at point of service is extremely affordable.

      People need to step down out of their principled ivory towers a bit and have a long look at reality. It may be—and I hope so—there will be a time when a candidate will be able to declare support of radical positions without fear of consequences, but to quote Aragorn, son of Arathorn, a man who knew how to bide his time, “today is not that day.”

      If we’re going to change anything, we first have to get people elected. That means pausing to remember that there are large numbers of voters who don’t understand MMT, who think Obama and his health care plan are wonderful, and who believe Hillary Clinton was a progressive and Bernie Sanders a spoilsport misogynist. The progressive candidates need their votes, and the only way they have time to get them is to at least appear to be chums with the establishment.

      Andrew Gillum is acceptable to Hillary Clinton right now because the Democrats want Florida, and he’s their way to get it. Whether their desire is based in part on the 2000 election debacle can only be speculated on. And once he’s elected, the best thing would him to remain in that office as long as possible. Which means he’s going to have to tread carefully between progressives, New Dems and Republicans. A smart progressive knows that, and also knows the more time they have in office the more time they have to convince the skeptics the progressive platform isn’t just a herd of ponies.

      1. Richard

        I see why they want him. The dem establishment is desperate for any kind of credibility they can latch onto. What I don’t get is why he wants them. I don’t see how it helps him at all; he’s already ahead in the polls. This is more a show of alliance, in my opinion, than a strategy to try to earn more votes.
        I think you’re dead wrong about the shift in language. It’s a clear tell; a rebuke to Sanders, who campaigned for Gillum in the primary, and meant as one.
        Or maybe I’m all mixed up and Gillum does think this will help him. In which case, good luck.

      2. Eureka Springs

        Good lord, I would rather sift larvae ridden trash at the dump than get up and go vote for what your selling.

        If we’re going to change anything, we first have to get people elected

        That’s soooo 2006. My advice to this way of thinking is please learn from mistakes. Whether yours or others, especially when so patently obvious.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If we’re going to change anything, we first have to get people elected.

        Which we’ve been hearing for 30 years. How’s that working out?

        Incidentally, Gillum was fine getting elected giving a misleading impression on #MedicareForAll. I agree, that was in the primary. So who’s he going to throw under the bus after the general, now that we’ve established his pattern of behavior?

        1. Elizabeth Burton

          So, what’s your solution? Armed rebellion? Because all I see y’all doing is b****ing and moaning about how this candidate or that candidate who ran on a reasonably progressive platform has obviously sold out.

          How about we hear some alternatives to voting people into office in hopes of making changes? Other than moving to another country or some other equally stupid sell-out solution. When was the last time everyone snarking about Gillum or whomever got off their duff and joined the nearest Poor People’s Campaign protest? Here’s another thought: if y’all hate the current crop of candidates, what’s stopping you from taking up the challenge, eh?

          Lead, follow, or get out of the way—inaction while complaining about how awful things are is what got things so awful.

    3. Richard

      I don’t see how it helps him at all. Either he considers himself unassailable or he’s totally clueless. Do you remember who lost florida Andrew? It wasn’t Trump, I’ll tell ya.
      You’ve been flipping off the people who nominated you a lot lately. Don’t forget to shame them when you lose.

  13. Wukchumni

    Kavanaugh keeps on saying that he drank beer all the time in high school, but he was only 17 years old when the alleged sexual encounter took place.

    Why is nobody bringing this up?

        1. Eureka Springs


          Back when Bill ‘didn’t inhale” I said I’m not sure I want a Pres of his generation who lacked the curiosity to even try it. I’ll say that even moreso of a kid who didn’t sneak a bit of (far more socially acceptable – even expected in many circles) booze.

          1. Edward E

            Hey neighbor, what was that stuff about unimattrix 0 about? That caused me recall a nightmare I had about old country doctors out here in the boondocks trying to revive bloodletting thinking that it really worked… and haven’t even got around to MMT yet

    1. montanamaven

      If he doesn’t get the position on SCOTUS, he definitely can make a ton more money as spokesman for Anehauser Busch. “I embrace drinking beer.”

    2. Todde

      Kind of a big step down from gangrape.and.sexual assault to underage drinking.

      But not be the smoking gun youre looking for

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Kind of a big step down from gangrape.and.sexual assault to underage drinking.

        Agreed. Though if I’m not mistaken, Kavanaugh did perjure himself yesterday on blackouts.

  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Evolution of Hokusai’s “Great Wave”.
    1. When he was 33 (1792).
    2. When he was 44 (1803).
    3. When he was 46 (1805).
    4. When he was 72 (1831).

    12:28 PM – Sep 26, 2018

    In comparison, waves on Yuan dynasty blue and white:


    And waves on Ming dynasty blue and white:


    Here, they are more one-on-top-of-another.

    That is one key dating clue and as a Yuan blue and white could be $10,000,000, and a Ming one is likely to be $1,000,000 or less, it is a handy bit of information to have.

    You never know what you might see in a flea market…

    1. Wukchumni

      My favorite story along those lines…

      Garage-sale hunters are always on the lookout for finds. Carl Rice spotted a gold mine.

      In 1996, Mr. Rice, an ambulance-service manager with no formal art education, bought two flower paintings at a Tucson, Ariz., tag sale for $60. Shortly afterward, he resold them at auction for $1.1 million. When the grandson of the woman who had owned the paintings found out, he sued for the full amount — and, last month, the grandson lost.

      How could this happen? It’s a story that will inspire second-hand shoppers everywhere — and send a chill up the spine of every baby boomer who faces clearing out a relative’s attic in coming years.

      In the early 1990s, Mr. Rice started buying artworks at estate sales, tag sales and the like, hoping to pick up something valuable. He had little success. When he sent photographs of his finds to major auction houses, asking them to identify and sell them, he racked up a stack of some 80 rejection letters. After three years, the largest profit Mr. Rice had made was $50 — on an artwork he bought for $35, and later resold for its frame.

      In January, in a lawsuit reported by the Maine Antique Digest, Mr. Newman and Edward Franz, a family friend who represented the estate, charged that Mr. Rice “fraudulently misled” them and that his actions were “unconscionable.”

      The estate asked the Pima County Superior Court to rescind the sale of the painting, since it was “a mutual mistake.” The estate asked for the total amount the paintings fetched at Christie’s.

      But last month, a Tucson judge ruled the Rices don’t have to pay a dime. “There was no mistake as to what was being exchanged,” ruled Judge Deborah Bernini of Pima County Superior Court. “The only mistake was as to their value. … Plaintiffs named a price for each painting, and defendants paid the asked-for price.”


  15. urblintz

    wow…some of those senators on both sides of the aisle look like mummies

    and kavanaugh is a total doughboy…

    may the god I don’t believe in save us from the lot…

    and now lindsey graham…


    just omg…

      1. Lee

        Zombie apocalypse now!

        I am once again reminded of a description of the death throes of a marriage being like watching two dinosaurs stuck in a swamp gnawing away at each others flesh. From D.H. Lawrence, IIRC. Thus it is with our duopoly.

        1. pretzelattack

          or for a more current example, the photos of dead alligators bursting from the bellies of dead pythons.

    1. Edward E

      It is remarkable how poor a judge of character the pretend zillionaire really is. Hires felon lawyers, felon campaign chair, felon foreign policy adviser, felon deputy campaign manager, felon National Security Adviser, allegedly two time wife beater Staff Secretary, most corrupt EPA Administrator in history, and now Starr’s young staff attorney is about to make good, unless …

  16. Wukchumni

    Wow, the utterly useless SEC is going after Elon Musk.

    I thought for sure they’d swallowed the official’s whistle about a dozen years ago, and only when flatulence was expelled, did it ever make a shrill sound.

  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    About it being hard to quit China, and those few doing any quitting are finding even cheaper more abusive places to be able to work the differential costs arbitrage rackets even harder . . .
    it took several decades of Forced Free Trade to destroy most of America’s thingmaking capacity. It would take several decades of Rigid Protectionist Exclusionism to restore any substantial part of America’s largely-destroyed thingmaking capacity.

    Until an overwhelming majority of US citizens can force such a policy goal upon an unwilling political class, ordinary people will have to preserve what traditional thingmaking and thingfixing skills and knowledge they may have in their own basement and garage hobby workshops. US citizens really should buy what things they have to buy from US makers if any such makers exist. US citizens really should have whatever broken things repaired by US thingfixers who know how to repair them in order to keep that minimal level of skill and knowledge alive. That can be a stub to build out from when an overwhelming majority of US inhabitants can torture and terrorise the political classes into permitting the restoration of American production for American consumption.

    1. JTMcPhee

      On the road to something closer to a modified, possibly “sustainable” autarky, less vulnerable to looting and trade and supply chains and arbitrage, here is a place to start looking for stuff that is actually made by US of A American Workers: “Products Made in the USA Directory,” https://americansworking.com/

      1. JTMcPhee

        And maybe it’s too good to be true, but here’s what the AmericansWorking site people say about themselves and their aims:

        Americans Working site was created to provide consumers with an easy to use and highly accessible means of finding products made in America. Our directory is constantly being updated as we add new companies every day after being thoroughly researched and accredited. We strive to make a difference in not only the quality and safety of products available to consumers, but also for the American worker as standards for safety and quality far exceed that of oversees manufacturing. Most of the companies listed on our site are small to mid-size companies and take great pride in delivering incredible products and services while employing fellow Americans. Help the American economy by demanding American Made Products.

        The vast majority of the companies listed on our directory have been listed at no charge and there is no financial relationship between us. We do accept paid advertising and operate placed advertising from Google.

        There are a few important items that we would like to convey to our visitors who are interested. First and foremost we have no political affiliation, our goal is for fellow Americans to join our grass-roots efforts to buy American Made items. We believe that if enough people create a demand for American products that businesses will respond and start to fill that need. The second
        most important aspect of our ideas is that we are not protectionist. We have no goals of restrictions on imports. Lastly we would want to make certain visitors realize we are not anti anyone, the people that are being taken advantage of overseas are trying to find work and feed themselves and their family. We don’t like corrupt governments but that is different from the workers of the world.

        Our goal is to empower Americans with a tool to help them find goods made here in the United States. The companies that are still making items here are fighting an uphill battle against cheap labor because of unfair trade agreements. Over and over polls and surveys have continued to find the majority of Americans do not support NAFTA or other trade agreements like it. Politicians lobbied by big business are trying to create even more generous trade deals to allow them to import even cheaper goods. We can stop this trend and get more Americans working! Visit our section about why you should buy American made products and how it helps our country.

        Some good ideas in there, some very good ways of thinking.

        1. marym

          For the past 7 years or so I’ve purchased nearly everything (clothing, accessories, home furnishings, greeting cards) made in USA. It’s been a while since I consulted aggregator sites like Americans Working since I have my own list of regulars. On some shopping sites (Container Store is one) there’s a menu choice or you can try the general site search bar to search for Made in USA. Most of what I buy is in a moderate price range, though a few finds are quite inexpensive, and I’m fortunate to be able to pay a little more in other cases.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Had to sell my motorcycles because of Dupuytren’s contracture (my orthopod said it was that or the knife). With the proceeds, I bought a 10 year old Toyota that was built in Kentucky, so, there’s that.

            1. wilroncanada

              Have you tried an elasticized cotton glove, worn at night? Medical supply stores, and even larger pharmacies carry them. My wife found it a tremendous help. Now your case may be more severe, meaning the likelihood of having to cut some tendons in the future. It’s also often called Viking disease. Though my wife’s background is mostly in England and Wales, there must have been some mixing from one or other of the many invasions, particularly in the northeast of England.
              A Viking ailment named after a French doctor.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Until an overwhelming majority of US citizens can force such a policy goal upon an unwilling political class, ordinary people will have to preserve what traditional thingmaking and thingfixing skills and knowledge they may have in their own basement and garage hobby workshops

      The Maker “movement” is the shiny version of this, but I imagine there’s plenty of “grassroots” activity.

  18. drumlin woodchuckles

    Could ” jack move” mean something like ” off-the-wall whipsaw-jerkaround from out of left field” . . . ?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > ganking

          What a great word! Is it simply stealing, or is it also ganging up to steal? The first is Urban Dictionary’s top definition, but the second is there too, and more interesting (both as social relations*, and as having its source in video gaming, which I should understand better).

          NOTE * Like is it a coincidence that “gank” rhymes with “bank”? I think not!

          1. UserFriendly

            Ganking is always done by one person, it can be intentional or by accident but always without anyone noticing. And it can be for more than drugs like ” Ha, I just Ganked John’s lighter” (5 min after leaving John).

            I always assumed Jack move was the less explicit form of Jerk move or jack-off move.

  19. JTMcPhee

    Speaking of memory holes, for anyone who has not reached “maximum sense of futility:”

    I’m sitting at the splendid building of the Singapore National Library, in a semi-dark room, microfilm inserted into a high-tech machine. I’m watching and then filming and photographing several old Malaysian newspapers dating back from October 1965.

    These reports were published right after the horrible 1965 military coup in Indonesia, which basically overthrew the progressive President Sukarno and liquidated then the third largest Communist party on Earth, PKI (Partai Komunis Indonesia). Between one and three million Indonesian people lost their lives in some of the most horrifying massacres of the 20th century. From a socialist (and soon to be Communist) country, Indonesia descended into the present pits of turbo-capitalist, as well as religious and extreme right-wing gaga.

    The United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Holland and several other Western nations, directly sponsored the coup, while directing both the pro-Western treasonous factions in the military, as well as the religious leaders who stood, from the start, at the forefront of the genocide.

    All this information is, of course, widely available in the de-classified archives of both the CIA and U.S. State Department. It can be accessed, analyzed and reproduced. I personally made a film about the events, and so have several other directors.

    But it isn’t part of the memory of humanity. In Southeast Asia, it is known only to a handful of intellectuals….

    This from Andre Vltchek, the rest is here, in offGuardian: “Syria or Southeast Asia — The West Lied, Lies and Always Will,” https://off-guardian.org/2018/09/27/syria-or-souteast-asia-the-west-lied-lies-and-always-will/. Of course the Narrative on this regime change lays out a very different story, and story it is: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transition_to_the_New_Order

    “Plus ça change…” as we watch the great drama surrounding the futility theater relating to the Kavanaugh thing…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Read the link, which addresses your question specifically. You get points for reading the links and commenting from a basis of knowledge. This isn’t Facebook or a board.

  20. JTMcPhee

    I started college at Brown University in the early ‘60s — completely the wrong choice for a midwestern Presbyterian teetotaler still tasting the Dial soap from mouth washings for swearing.

    Freshman initiation was a mandatory panty raid on the dorms at Pembroke College up the hill, where the women dumped cups of urine on the thundering males chanting “WE WANT SEX! WE WANT SEX! A pair of upperclassmen, members of the Outing Club (outdoor sports, not the other thing) scaled the fire escape, ducked inside the third floor of I think Metcalf Hall, and reappeared in moments with a laundry basket of ladies’ undergarments. Which they proceeded to strew like chum into the storm of testosterone jittering below. Fights ensued over possession of the items — I recall one soon-to-be-Phi Gam thug rising up out of the melee, right hand extended up, yelling “I GOT THE CROTCH!” All while the females sneered and tittered and distributed their urine, and the disciplinary deans circulated below, to see that “order was kept…”

    That first weekend there was a “party” in the “party room” of Archibald House. This room was painted flat black, and the only light was a 20-watt red bulb in the middle of the room. Couches and overstuffed chairs, a bar, and a liquor room with massive locks on the door and much evidence of efforts to break into it. Stereo blasting heavy rock music of course. Again, all us newbies with our beanies were expected to attend. I was (that word) gobsmacked by all this — never seen anything like it. Copulation promiscuously in the dark corners (“parietal rules” at the time barred females in male rooms and vice versa, how times change). As the “festivities” wound down, it appeared that one young lady, stripped of her lower garments and passed-out drunk, was still lying on one of the couches. She was “out past the curfew,” which per the Puritanical-hypocritical mores there was unpardonable. Someone dressed her a bit, and I (big strong fella then) carried her back up th hill to the Pembroke dorms, where a couple of her classmates managed to sneak her into the building without apparent detection. Gave real insight into the word “Bacchanalia,” that. (Pembroke girl got pregnant — complete no-no, leading then to mandatory expulsion — and her ‘sisters’ sent her off with a mock party at which they ‘gifted’ her with a full set of 10-piece settings of chipped and cracked Pembroke-monogrammed dishes and flatware…

    I migrated to a different dormitory, that happened to be a “buffer house” (like Belgium and the Netherlands) of non-frat-rats between I think Phi Kappa Psi and Phi Delta Theta, Which conducted “vomit wars” on the drunken weekends, loading up garbage cans with the stuff and swilling it down the hallways of the “enemy house,” spilling lots on the hallway through our dorm that joined the two frats. And one of my dorm-mates got accepted as a pledge to some frat by virtue of urinating off the frat house balcony onto women congregated on the porch below.

    Humans are such interesting creatures. Got to love the Ruling Class, they been at this kind of stuff pretty much forever.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Here is a thought. Lots of talk about these teenage kids and heavy drinking arising over the past coupla days due to the Kavanagh hearings. My thought is this. What about those who got themselves wiped out in car accidents due to heavy drinking and driving? It must have happened and it must have been in the hundreds overall. Maybe in the social setting of these elite universities that they were soon forgotten and I would not be surprised if this was so.

      1. HotFlash

        Happened in my little high school, kids joy-riding on a frozen patch of road, one guy flew out and left the top of his head on the top of the door opening. These weren’t the ‘dumb kids’ either, cream of the crop for status and brains.

        My state college was too big to remember incidents like that. But when a comedian named Wm Cosby came to campus, my football team connected boyfriend said that word was out, “Do not leave your woman alone with this man *ever*.” That was half a century ago.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I went to Brown in the early 70s. By that time, panty raids were gone, and Pembroke was gone.

      On the vomiting and pissing: Sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids….

      It still goes on, though. I remember a pseudo-scandal about Dartmouth that involved those same fluids in the last decade or so; some alums got upset about it. Seems like a constant, somehow. More elite formation….

  21. Wukchumni

    I remember years ago, an NFL player was asked what it was like playing in the league, and he related that it was akin to getting in a bad car wreck every weekend for 16 weeks…

    This story is of NFL player who played a couple years, but my gawd, what a mess, complete with CTE.
    A Football Player’s Descent Into Pain and Paranoia

    As Daniel Te’o-Nesheim’s sister picked through her brother’s belongings after the former N.F.L. defensive lineman died last year, she came across a plastic container filled with several pages from a journal he kept during his days in pro football — a scrawled catalog of his seemingly endless injuries and attempted treatments.

    The entries are a sad coda to a life cut tragically short.

    A standout at the University of Washington who played four years with the Philadelphia Eagles and Tampa Bay Buccaneers until 2013, Te’o-Nesheim was 30 when he was found dead in a friend’s house last October with a mix of alcohol and painkillers in his body. Neuroscientists later found chronic traumatic encephalopathy — the degenerative disease linked to repeated blows to the head — in his brain.

    What friends and colleagues didn’t know is that Te’o-Nesheim had reached out for help. Earlier in 2017, he contacted Sam Katz, a lawyer at ATHLAW, a firm in Beverly Hills that helps former players obtain disability benefits.

    After gathering Te’o-Nesheim’s medical records, Katz filed an application in July 2017 for “line of duty” benefits given to players whose injuries are a direct result of football. Administrators with the benefits plan scheduled an appointment with a league-approved orthopedist, Dr. Saenz, in San Antonio for October 2.

    The doctor told Te’o-Nesheim that he had one of the worst cases of degenerative arthritis in his ankles that he had ever seen. He also found damaged knees and shoulders, pinched nerves in his neck, and a tendon tear in his biceps.


    1. tegnost

      Sad. I thought i recognized the name. I took a fall on the bus 5 weeks ago, didn’t get a concussion back whacked my head pretty good, no bounce, just a smash that wrenched my neck, and hyper extended two fingers. Since it’s the beginning of football season I’ve been thinking about how that was ONE PLAY in football, and I’m still messed up 5 weeks later. Junior Seau really was the wake up call for me. By the way, I attended fredonia state where the bills practiced in the 80’s, and jerry butler was dating my friends roommate, he was an awesome guy whose future plan was to help players make their post career as good as possible. I hope he did.

      1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

        I used to destroy people on both the Football field and Rugby pitch.

        I would lean with the crown of my head too.

        But im glad i drunkenly injured myself. I might have CTE/TBI at this point.

        I miss the competition.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > I miss the competition.

          It seems that somehow “the adults in the room” have set up a sort of tournament, persisting over many generation, where elite men compete for advancement by “counting coup,” as it were, for assaulting women.

          It would be nice if men could be brought to compete under a different set of rules. (University administrators who are simultaneously doing “no means no” training and enabling party culture are making matters worse, too, not better, since they are setting all the participants, of both (ok, all) genders for failure.

          The other thought that springs to mind here is how bad all the sex must be, even that which is not coerced.

  22. dcblogger

    Florida’s youth are registering to vote. How will that affect the midterm election?
    Data released by the Florida Division of Elections show that post-primary voter registration is up in comparison to the 2014 midterms, and preliminary primary turnout among the youngest of voters — the group that overwhelmingly makes up the bulk of the newly registered — at least nearly doubled. It’s too soon to know exactly how high turnout rose among young voters, as most population-dense counties, including Miami-Dade, had yet to report full information on who voted into the state’s most recent voter file.

    1. edmondo

      Good. It’s time for them to be disillusioned like the rest of us. I can’t wait to see how Andrew Gillum backtracks in the general election on everything he campaigned for in the primary. Shuckin’ and jivin’ won’t be just an Obama thing after Gillum gets done.

    2. tegnost

      this is my hope, an invigorated electorate that changes the legislative scope so the supremes have less to do. The supremes in a sick way are the manifestation of the past, the council of elders…who better to send them on their way?

  23. The Rev Kev

    “How Facebook could screw up Instagram”

    Well of course they are going to screw up Instagram. They can’t help themselves and are not content to leave well enough alone. Probably they will want to monetize it more and the next thing you know, people will just move on like so many young people have with Facebook itself.

  24. ewmayer

    “Truck driver salaries have fallen by as much as 50% since the 1970s — and experts say a little-known law explains why” [Business Insider] … So, why are America’s 1.8 million truck drivers faring worse today than they did in the 1970s? The academics who study trucking point to one law: The Motor Carrier Act of 1980…”

    How about we name some names? From the Wikipedia entry on the act:

    Motor carrier deregulation was a part of a sweeping reduction in price controls, entry controls, and collective vendor price setting in United States transportation, begun in 1970-71 with initiatives in the Richard Nixon Administration, carried out through the Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter Administrations, and continued into the 1980s, collectively seen as a part of deregulation in the United States.

    Since the passage of the Interstate Commerce Act of 1887, the federal government had regulated various transportation modes, starting with the railroad industry, and later the trucking and airline industries. Increasing public interest in deregulation led to a series of federal laws beginning in 1976 with the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act. The deregulation of the trucking industry began with the Motor Carrier Act of 1980, which was signed into law by President Carter on July 1, 1980.

    Studies of the legislative process leading up to passage of the MCA indicate that the Act resulted from a concert of action by the Carter Administration, Congressional leaders, including Senator Ted Kennedy, an extensive coalition of “civil society” organizations which was a follow-on to coalitions created for rail and air transport regulatory reforms, and Interstate Commerce Commissioners appointed by Presidents Nixon and Carter who supported the pro-competition objectives of the legislative initiatives of 1971 to 1980 (notably A. Daniel O’Neal and Darius Gaskins).

    Once again we present for your amusement Jimmy Carter, the first neoliberal president. Reagan just hugely ramped up the program which was by then already well underway.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’m glad I was only a teenager in the 70’s, if i’d been an adult cognizant of what was going on-it would have looked like now, but with a heck of a lot slower download speed.

    2. JTMcPhee

      “increasing public interest in deregulation”? Whaat? Maybe in the sense of ‘manufactured consent,” with a solid swoosh of sauce Bernays, and a whole lot of Mockingbird-type help. I lived through all that. Maybe it was the people I associated with, but other than that spasm of “we gotcha” viciousness that Reagan got away with, firing all the air traffic controllers (which I thought Reagan should have been defenestrated for, speaking as a budding private pilot and former aviation guy who got to fly around in helicopters in Vietnam during the year PATCO was formed, 1968), “deregulation’ in my circles was seen for what it was — a death knell for stuff like the ‘precautionary principle,” and for restraints on the worst impulses of humankind. And I got to live through the deregulation nightmare, including stuff like the “savings and loan crisis gigantic fraud and looting, while working as an enforcement attorney for the US EPA, 1978-1990.

      And take a swipe at Carter, but at least EPA was still doing actual substantive enforcement of the primary environmental and human health protective laws, including putting corporate execs in jail. until the Reaganauts kicked down the door. At least Carter has sort of made some atonement for his sins (maybe not the one involving “lusting in his heart,” but that internal deviance is better I think than what’s on display today in DC, and of course there’s this wonderful perspective on David Cameron’s “Pig-Gate,” where among other perversions and peccadillos it was said that he “placed his non-parliamentary member inside the mouth of a dead pig” at one of many “debauched parties” in his college days.

      “Boys will be boys,” I guess. And then they get to join the Upper Crust. In extracting pure metals from ores by smelting, an upper crust of debased slag forms on the “melt,” as I recall, to be skimmed off and toxically discarded on the “slag piles.” Does not seem to work that way for political-economic smelters, of course. “Sh!t floats.”

    1. JTMcPhee

      Of course the heroine to Albert Brooks’ schmuck was Meryl Streep. I wonder if she would be interested in playing the good female in the docu-drama version of this sh!tshow Kabuki “World’s Greatest Deliberative Body” idiocy?

      1. polecat

        I don’t know .. after Meryl made a spectacle of goin all in with HER in 2016, I’ve developed a chronic case of ‘Streep Throat’ ..
        Antihillarybiotics don’t seem to help.

  25. blowncue

    After Dr. Ford concluded, I thought, as did many, Kavanaugh was in serious trouble. During his opening statement, I didn’t know from one moment to the next whether we would get a dramatic admission or at least an excited utterance. As it went on I thought I was watching Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men. I wondered if someone should have gone for broke as did Tom Cruise.

    Rage, extreme pressure, bafflement at the process – and then Lindsey Graham dresses down Durbin and the Democrats with a performance that rivals Adlai Stevenson taking apart Zorin. I think the Democrats blew it – they kept pounding on the lack of an FBI investigation while ignoring their Achilles’ heel of Feinstein’s failure to divulge knowledge of Dr. Ford’s letter, and failure to ask Kavanaugh questions. Defend Kavanaugh by attacking Feinstein. And Blumenthal: “Do you believe Anita Hill?” Seriously?

    The Democrats should have ceded all time to Cory Booker and Kamala Harris. Booker was the most successful at attenuating Kavanaugh’s filibustering. Feinstein looked absolutely confused and ineffectual: “I just asked them.” She just asked them?

    Perhaps the four swing votes will view Kavanaugh’s belligerence as evidencing the belligerence described by witnesses, but I am not sanguine.

    1. Wukchumni

      I thought we had Ali in his prime going up against some palooka in the opening rounds, but then got tongue weary when it was turned over to the donkey show, as if pleading nine various ways to Sunday that if only he’d submit to the FBI was ever gonna work, but no way was failure going to stop them from trying.

  26. Wukchumni

    Got my MRI results and everything is ok on my knee, except for a bone bruise, which was new to me, not realizing you could do that to yourself. Not sure how I did that, still a bit painful.

    I’m doing physical therapy and it’s doing wonders, my therapists are a
    Yemeni-American, born in the Central Valley in 1984, after his parents immigrated here in 1982, and Hmong-American born in the CV in 1992, after her parents came in 1990.

    They’ve got interesting tales, She told me that in the oh so very poor village where her parents grew up, they & everybody else ate meat only once a year, and the way it worked was there would be this village pig that everybody fattened up as much as possible, as it was going to be dinner on Hmong New Years.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Good to know that your MRI results came out OK. Time to take it easy for awhile so that your knee can heal itself.

      1. Wukchumni

        I always wanted to be a stand-up comedian, but i’m a better sit-down comedian, and online hecklers are all silent as church mice, which is nice.

        1. Edward E

          Gawt dis ideer, what if you and I were to somehow meet with Yakov Smirnoff and maybe he’d let us do some shows at his theatre in Branson while he’s out on tour. Maybe he’d think we’re funny enough to join, he’s getting old, you never know…

        2. pretzelattack

          virtual fruit isn’t as messy as the other kind, but otoh you can’t eat it. glad to know your knee is ok.

          1. Wukchumni

            Yeah, it was really messing with my mind, as i’d self diagnosed myself into needing surgery, as it put the hurt on me in a way i’d never experienced heretofore.

        3. Edward E

          Yeah, I learned quickly not to do outdoor shows especially on the Buffalo River. Some folks can’t get a jokes, get insulted and throw rocks! So I understand not wanting to have to wear kevlar hanging out with hillbillies… ?

          See y’all tomorrow maybe, I’m headed up to Springfield, MO to see Ross Perot’s famous brother Bass Perot (Pro)

  27. RobertCvn

    E-cigs, I discover after a talk with my local convenience store manager, are super-nasty: Pure nicotine, without even tobacco leaf as an organic substrate. Like huffing bleach, or something. Ick.

    Whoa there! Nothing like pure nicotine. That would probably be deadly.

    Juul is 59mg/ml or about 6 percent. I vape on 24mg and it is strong enough for me to not want cigs.

    The Brits did a study and found it to be 95% less damaging than smoking, no links, sorry. $16 for a two month supply from a large online retailer compared to 2 packs a day. A large savings!

    Do not berate it until you learn the benefits, if only with respect to smoking the leaf.

    And please heap some scorn on the blatant “think of the children” trope! Screw them, think of the adults trying to quit the noxious weed….

    1. pretzelattack

      i am fond of the non noxious (well, relatively) weed, and nominate whoever invented vaping for some nobel prize or other (peace?).

  28. Grebo

    Pure nicotine, without even tobacco leaf as an organic substrate. Like huffing bleach, or something.

    As an e-cig user who mixes his own juice I can correct the record here. A strong juice will have 20 to 25mg per gram of (pure) nicotine. Most of the rest will usually be vegetable glycerine. There will be some propylene glycol and some food-grade flavouring which often has a high alcohol content.

    So, apart from the nicotine, all ingredients you can find in the baking aisle of your local convenience store.

    I have to laugh at these scare stories about kids graduating from e-cigs to the real thing. I tried smoking tobacco once since I started vaping and it was absolutely disgusting. When an e-cig starts tasting burnt it is time to change the coil.

    1. Duck1

      Slight quibble, which may not be informed about the e cig market, most food additive flavorings use propylene glycol as the solvent, unless organic where alcohol is necessary. So PG may in part be flavoring. Wonder who is supplying this market. (Worked with flavoring in food, so not informed about e cig, though guessing it is parallel). This is USA experience.

    1. ChrisAtRU

      Recall #TheAssistance, so #NeverTrump that they fawn over George W. Bush (especially given his fascination with Michelle Obama).

      Well folks, it’s time to come get ya boy Dubya …??

      Nugget in this WaPo story: George W. Bush is making calls trying to push Kavanaugh over the finish line https://t.co/RMlpbc1gPX— Avi Asher-Schapiro (@AASchapiro) September 28, 2018

  29. Wukchumni

    Who will indeed this hunger still?
    Who can this wolfish belly fill?
    What would suffice for a people and town,
    This beast, by itself, can swallow it down,
    Forever crying out for fodder,
    Whatever it gets, it still wants more.
    It’s like the great mouth of the sea,
    A gluttonous snake, a devouring dragon.
    Whoever wants riches without disgrace,
    Let him drive ill-gotten gain away from the land.

    From a contemporary German broadsheet, 1622.

  30. Procopius

    Lambert, I think you need to stop holding yourself to an excessively tight deadline. You should not need to apologize Every. Damned. Day. Change your deadline to 3:30, or even 4:00. Get real. Cut yourself some slack. Your column is immensely valuable. You need to shield yourself from unnecessary stress. Just sayin’.

    1. pretzelattack

      yeah, i’m just glad it’s there. a daily grind is tough enough by itself, especially on something volatile like politics.

  31. Wukchumni

    UFC # 100

    Classy Christine Blasey versus Brett (the law) Kavanaugh

    Two go into the ring, only won comes out

    $49.99 PPV
    $59.99 HD PPV

    1. fresno dan

      September 27, 2018 at 11:57 pm

      The reconfiguring of American society into an oligarchy and the collapse of our democratic institutions have left most of the population disempowered. The elites, predatory by nature, have discarded all restraint. “The state of disorganization, or anomie, is thus reinforced by the fact that passions are less disciplined at the very time when they need stronger discipline,” Durkheim noted of the avarice of the rich.

  32. JCC

    I talked with a friend down in Venice FL today and, as usual, kicked off the discussion with “How’s the weather in Florida nowadays?” “Hotter than it normally is and muggy, and this year the Red Tide has been exceptionally bad.” “Global Warming, you think?”, I asked. She answered, “Who knows? Probably a little of that and other things.”

    Later when checking my email I came across one from Walter Hang, one of the people taking the lead against fracking and water pollution in Upstate NY, and it seems that we’re setting the same sorts of records New York State. HABs, otherwise known as Harmful Algae Blooms, reached record highs this year in the numerous fresh water lakes and other waterways.

    Last week a total of 98 Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) was reported in New York. This is a huge increase over the 65 HABs reported the same week in 2017. According to state data, this is the largest number of HABs ever reported during a single week by New York regulatory authorities.

    2018 Reported New York State Harmful Algal Blooms Map

    The Finger Lakes don’t look particularly good, and Lake Champlain looks awful

    Algae Blooms in September, until recently, are unheard of. Between exceptionally warm and wet weather there as well as the “other things” like the excessive fertilizer runoff, things just keep getting rougher and rougher on more fronts than just D.C. politics.

  33. Starry Gordon

    Not about Kav!


    “Mosquitoes are eating plastic and spreading it to new food chains” [New Scientist] (original). • Unfortubately, they’re only eating it. They’re not digesting it.’

    That may not be correct. According to Quanta (https://www.quantamagazine.org/on-waste-plastics-at-sea-maria-luiza-pedrotti-finds-unique-microbial-multitudes-20180913/) bacteria and other microorganisms are colonizing microplastics in the ocean. Some of them are eating the plastic in order to gain energy (mostly to reproduce). Some are busily exchanging genetic material, so new kinds of organisms with new talents can be expected to appear. Assuming there are vectors to carry the material out of the oceans onto land, we should soon be making their intimate acquaintance soon. They will certainly be able to eat plastics; they may be able to eat other things, including us.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Anadromous fish, like salmon, are a major ocean-to-land vector. Also spray, though it usually doesn’t go as far, and seabirds that nest on land.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think it’s correct as far as mosquitos not digesting plastic. As for other micro-organisms, yes, surely it’s only a matter of time. Now, whether they migrate out of the ocean, onto the land, and turn our plastic civilization into grey goo, well, that’s probably something I won’t have to worry about.

Comments are closed.