2:00PM Water Cooler 10/12/2018

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.



“Trump and the End of Smugness” [War on the Rocks]. The conclusion: “This essay was an attempt to put concepts to Trump’s actions, to describe Trump in a new way. Critics may argue that in fact Trump is a narcissistic megalomaniac who likes strongmen, but no one can actually know what he is thinking. They should give up on the efforts at amateur psychoanalysis. If the political opposition wants to gain any ground, it needs to look for patterns in Trump’s actions and understand what it’s up against. Most of all, Trump’s opponents should stop their condescending attitude. Put up against Trump’s growing string of successes, such an attitude will ring increasingly hollow. For now at least, the era of smugness is over.” • Another refreshingly level-headed take, much like Ed Harrison’s of 2016 I linked to a couple of days ago.


24 days until Election Day. 24 days is a long time in politics. And remember that October is the month of surprises, as Mr. Market is showing!

“South Carolina Democrats are worried about Bernie Sanders’ visit. Sanders isn’t.” [McClatchy]. “Sanders was invited to the state by the South Carolina chapter of Our Revolution, a group born out of Sanders’ 2016 presidential bid. The organization is holding its annual issues conference in Columbia on Oct. 20. Sanders, who is said to be mulling a 2020 bid, will headline a rally focused on ‘health care inequality in the United States.’… [Sanders] didn’t, however, have a response for Democrats like former South Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Amanda Loveday, who believe Sanders’ appearance in the state will be ‘immensely unhelpful’ as the party takes pains to appeal to more moderate voters.” • Unity!

“Midterm Elections 2018” [Google]. • This is handy and fun: Google trends on a map of the states. Looks like Maine is a one-issue state:

(Yes, other states are multi-colored because they have more than one issue.)

“Two Cheers for Socialism: Why Liberals Need Enemies on the Left” [Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine]. “A recurring theme of socialist criticism of liberalism is its reliance on technocracy at the expense of ideology. A fascination with empiricism is held as the reason Democrats have allegedly abandoned the interests of the working class.” • Man, I dunno. I’d say the very last thing liberals are these days is empirical. Anyhow, Chait doesn’t mention my litmus test: If you’re on the left, you put the working class first as a matter of principle. If you’re a liberal (or a conservative) you put markets first.

“Time Is Running Out, So Why Aren’t Democrats Yelling About Climate Change?” [Vice]. “Unlike the economy and healthcare, climate change isn’t a policy space where the Democrats’ leading lights are striving to out-flank each other. Major potential candidates like senators Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders aren’t making global warming a focal point of their messaging, nor are they unveiling flashy legislation or policy positions that show off how progressive their solutions are.” • Which makes no sense. If you want a Jobs Guarantee and/or a national industrial policy, climate change is the obvious way to go (I mean, besides military Keynesianism).

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Bought for their Silence?” [The Chicago Crusader]. “Questions remain about eight silent Black aldermen who received thousands of dollars in campaign donations from Rahm Emanuel less than a month before they approved a $5 million settlement to the estate of Laquan McDonald.” • Read this for an excellent example of the Black Misleadership Class in action. How curious that Rahm Emanuel was Obama’s chief of staff, too….

Stats Watch

Consumer Sentiment, October 2018 (Preliminary): “Less favorable views of personal finances are pulling consumer sentiment slightly lower” [Econoday]. “A note going into the mid-term elections next month is that confidence in the government’s economic policies is at its highest level in 15 years reflecting strong confidence among Republicans and improving confidence among Democrats.” And: “Preliminary October 2018 Michigan Consumer Sentiment Down Slightly” [Econintersect]. “Most of the October gain was due to an upward adjustment by Democrats, although their evaluations were still well below the much more favorable evaluations of Republicans. When asked about the upcoming election and its potential impact on their own personal finances and on the overall economy, consumers more frequently cited Republicans than Democrats as having a positive effect, with margins of 35% versus 26% for the overall economy and 34% versus 24% for the their own personal finances. A substantial portion, however, replied that there was no difference for the overall economy (36%) or for their own personal finances (41%).”

Import and Export Prices, September 2018: “At plus 0.5 percent, the headline for September import prices would appear to show pressure but the details don’t” [Econoday]. “Total export prices were unchanged… Export prices of finished goods match those on the import side, all dead flat.” And: “Month-over-month price index for fuel imports increased (and non-fuel imports were unchanged) – and the price index for agricultural commodities declined” [Econintersect].

Commodities: “Here’s Where Tesla’s Supplier Says the Lithium Market Is Heading” [Ganfeng Lithium executive Wang Xiaoshen, Bloomberg]. “Not in the near term, but in the longer term there is still risk of a shortage. Especially 2023 and 2024 — that’s the period we’re a little bit concerned about. That will be the time when EV production will be ramping up quickly and that’s when most of the battery makers will be expanding their capacity. The OEMs want to secure long-term supply. They probably share the same view that come 2023-2024 there will be tight supply when everyone is ramping up the EV production. But in the short term we have to fasten our seat belts and be careful.” • I suppose the time will come when we have to send in the gunboats to protect the lithium…

Commodities: “The war on fake graphene” [Nature]. “Imagine a world in which antibiotics could be sold by anybody, and were not subject to quality standards and regulations. Many people would be afraid to use them because of the potential side effects, or because they had no faith that they would work, with potentially fatal consequences. For emerging nanomaterials such as graphene, a lack of standards is creating a situation that, although not deadly, is similarly unacceptable…. Writing in Advanced Materials, Kauling et al.1 report a systematic study of graphene from 60 producers, and find that many highly priced graphene products consist mostly of graphite powder.”

Retail: “Social Security increase is a boon for value retailers like Dollar General” [MarketWatch]. “The 2.8% Social Security increase announced this week is good news for value retailers like Big Lots Inc., Dollar Tree Inc., and Dollar General Corp., according to Raymond James analysts. The hike is the biggest since 2012. ‘As a reminder, the core customer for Dollar General and Family Dollar has an annual household income of $35K or less,’ analysts led by Dan Wewer wrote. ‘The marginal propensity to consume for low-income families is ~100%, therefore, some of the Social Security benefit increase should find its way into a value retailers’ store.’ • See Class Warfare below for more on Dollar General.

The Bezzle: “2. For safety, AVs must spend time in virtual world” [Axios]. “However, road tests are a cumbersome form of validation — the Rand Corporation estimates it would take hundreds of millions to hundreds of billions of miles (nearly a century of driving) to prove an AV drives safely…. Not all experience needs to come from road tests. Simulation platforms enable the AI brain powering an AV to run in a photorealistic world that mimics real-life traffic, exposing its deep-learning algorithms to scenarios and conditions as many times as necessary for the system to handle them perfectly…. While scripting the infinite number of potential traffic situations may be impossible, enabling diversity and spontaneity in simulation is a vital way to test a car’s reaction to unforeseen scenarios, validating AV technology without sacrificing safety.” • Oh.

The Bezzle: “Elon Musk’s summer of bad behavior hasn’t affected Tesla’s sales, but it has hurt its reputation” [Recode]. “Consumers’ impression of the brand — on a scale of 100 for “very positive” to -100 for “very negative” — has declined more than 80 percent this year, placing itself well below the auto industry at large. Tesla demand could lose steam as it fills its order backlog and its $7,500 federal tax credit expires, but for now the bad press hasn’t affected sales.”

The Bezzle: More shorts on the case. Thread:

More permissionless innovation…

Tech: “How an algorithm kicks small businesses out of the food stamps program on dubious fraud charges” [The New Food Economy]. “It’s impossible to pin down exactly how many retailers were banned from accepting SNAP dollars due to fraud charges that the government can’t actually prove. But court testimony by a USDA official indicates that, just last year, hundreds of retailers were permanently disqualified from the program based primarily on an algorithmic assessment of their transaction patterns… The USDA does not bother to justify or even explain the precise sales figures or thresholds that cause retailers to be flagged for investigation. In fact, officials appear not to know how they were developed in the first place. Douglas Edward Wilson, a USDA program analyst who has worked with the ALERT system for more than a decade, testified in a 2017 deposition that he had no idea who originally set the parameters for flagging fraudulent transactions.” • Awesome. I’m sure the same thing won’t happen with the AIs used for “safety testing” robot cars.

Tech: “Robot lawyer DoNotPay now lets you ‘sue anyone’ via an app” [The Verge]. “[DoNotPay, a free chatbot that offers AI-powered legal counsel] advertises that it can be used to ‘sue anyone by pressing a button,’ its focus is on suing corporations and navigating the complex bureaucracies that stand between people and their everyday rights. Previously, the service was only available directly through its website. The chatbot works by asking you a series of basic questions about your situation and who you’d like to sue. It will then draw up the documents that you’ll need to send to the courthouse to become a plaintiff, and will generate a script for you to read from if you need to attend in person.”

Tech: “Over nine million cameras and DVRs open to APTs, botnet herders, and voyeurs” [ZD Net]. “Millions of security cameras, DVRs, and NVRs contain vulnerabilities that can allow a remote attacker to take over devices with little effort, security researchers have revealed today. All vulnerable devices have been manufactured by Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co., Ltd. (Xiongmai hereinafter), a Chinese company based in the city of Hangzhou. But end users won’t be able to tell that they’re using a hackable device because the company doesn’t sell any products with its name on them, but ships all equipment as white label products on which other companies put their logo on top…. The source of all vulnerabilities is a feature found in all devices named the ‘XMEye P2P Cloud.’ … [A]ll new XMEye accounts use a default admin username of ‘admin’ with no password.” • Not even admin/admin? Wowsers.

Tech: “If Supermicro boards were so bug-ridden, why would hackers ever need implants?” [Ars Technica]. “[Steve Lord, a researcher specializing in hardware hacking and co-founder of UK conference 44CON] was one of several researchers who unearthed a variety of serious vulnerabilities and weaknesses in Supermicro motherboard firmware (PDF) in 2013 and 2014. This time frame closely aligns with the 2014 to 2015 hardware attacks Bloomberg reported. Chief among the Supermicro weaknesses, the firmware update process didn’t use digital signing to ensure only authorized versions were installed. The failure to offer such a basic safeguard would have made it easy for attackers to install malicious firmware on Supermicro motherboards that would have done the same things Bloomberg says the hardware implants did….. [F]or the past five years, it was trivial for people with physical access to the boards to flash them with custom firmware that has the same capabilities as the hardware implants reported by Bloomberg…. According to documents leaked by former NSA subcontractor Edward Snowden, the use of custom firmware was the method employees with the agency’s Tailored Access Operations unit used to backdoor Cisco networking gear before it shipped to targets of interest… Besides requiring considerably less engineering muscle than hardware implants, backdoored firmware would arguably be easier to seed into the supply chain.” • Hmm. AFAIK, we still haven’t seen any of those modified boards. All we have is, well, the word of anonymous officials from the intelligence community.

Tech: “Facebook will soon rely on Instagram for the majority of its ad revenue growth” [Recode]. “Last quarter, Instagram generated an estimated $2 billion, or about 15 percent, of Facebook’s $13 billion in ad revenue, according to estimates from Andy Hargreaves, a research analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets. Hargreaves expects Instagram to grow to about 30 percent of Facebook’s ad revenue in two years, as well as nearly 70 percent of the company’s new revenue by 2020 — driving the majority of Facebook’s growth.”

Gentlemen Prefer Bonds: “A $1 Trillion Powder Keg Threatens the Corporate Bond Market” [Bloomberg]. “Bloomberg News delved into 50 of the biggest corporate acquisitions over the last five years, and found: By one key measure, more than half of the acquiring companies pushed their leverage to levels typical of junk-rated peers. But those companies, which have almost $1 trillion of debt, have been allowed to maintain investment-grade ratings by Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings…. ‘The rating agencies are giving companies too much wiggle room,’ said Tom Murphy, a money manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments. ‘There’s been some pretty heroic assumptions around cost savings and debt repayments laid out by some borrowers involved in mergers.”” • Yikes!

The Fed: “Former Fed Chair Greenspan survives Twitter hoax” [Agence France Presse]. “Famed former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan is alive and well despite a brief Twitter hoax in which a Nobel-prize winning economist appeared to announce his death, Greenspan’s company said Tuesday. The Twitter account which had announced the news quickly claimed the misinformation was in fact the work of famed Italian hoax artist Tommasso Debenedetti, who frequently makes premature announcements of celebrity deaths…. US stocks tumbled in June of 2000 after the Federal Reserve hesitated before denying a rumor that Greenspan had been killed in a car crash.” • So now you know why Mr. Market was sad.

Mr. Market: “Stocks rebound, still remain on track for worst week since March” [MarketWatch]. “U.S. stocks rose on Friday, with equities rising broadly in a rebound from a multiday rout that slashed about 1,400 points from the Dow Jones Industrial Average and left the Nasdaq on the precipice of correction.” • But the day’s not over!


“A Hedge Fund Guy Lefties Can Love” [Bloomberg]. “He ran a hedge fund, lives in a Caribbean tax haven, and loves fast cars and yachts—not obvious qualifications for a left-wing guru. But that’s what Warren Mosler is rapidly becoming…. Several candidates in the midterm elections, and a few who have an eye on 2020, are coming out with plans that draw on his ideas—even if they’ve never heard of the man or the doctrine, known as Modern Monetary Theory, that he once promoted in early internet chat rooms. Its main argument is that governments with their own currencies can’t go broke. They have more room to spend than is usually supposed and don’t need to collect taxes (or even borrow) to pay for it. One thing they can, and should, spend money on is a jobs guarantee—offering work to anyone who wants it.” • Except one…. Except one….

Our Famously Free Press

“A new study provides some dispiriting evidence for why people fall for stupid fake images online” [Nieman Labs]. “The researchers asked 3,476 participants on Mechanical Turk to evaluate the credibility of six fake images, some of which were allegedly from sources like BuzzFeed and The New York Times….. They found that ‘viewers’ skills and experience greatly impact their image credibility evaluations’— people who had a lot of experience on the internet and social media, and people who had some background in photography, were better at evaluating image credibility. But… seeing that an image was from BuzzFeed, NPR, or The New York Times didn’t make users more or less likely to judge them as credible.” ***cough*** Judy Miller ***cough***

Health Care

UPDATE “Trump lies about ‘Medicare for All’ and he’s made health care worse” [Bernie Sanders, USA Today]. “Trump claims that Medicare for All is not affordable. That is nonsense. What we cannot afford is to continue spending almost twice as much per capita on health care as any other country on Earth. We can’t afford the $28,000 it currently costs to provide health insurance for the average family of four. We can’t afford to have 30 million Americans with no health insurance and even more who are under-insured with high deductibles and high co-payments. We can’t afford to have millions of Americans get sicker than they should, and in some cases die, because they can’t afford to go to the doctor. Here is the bottom line: If every major country on earth can guarantee health care to all and achieve better health outcomes, while spending substantially less per capita than we do, it is absurd for anyone to suggest that the United States of America cannot do the same.” • Stephanie Kelton: “Pitch perfect.”

“Should We Let Our Kids Play Football?” [MedPage Today]. “The simple truth is that the head trauma experienced by young people playing football — even when it is never recognized contemporaneously — is likely to have important adverse consequences for brain health, years after our kids have stopped playing the game. Conceivably, for many players, even “minor” degrees of CTE could be clinically devastating 15 to 20 years later. School-aged participation in football could influence cognition and behavior in middle-aged men in ways that are never diagnosed by a physician.” • Football was a big part of elite formation in Kavanaugh’s milieu, IIRC….

Imperial Collapse Watch

Very imaginative;

Class Warfare

“Union Issues Debit Cards to Fight Trump Rule Choking Dues” [Bloomberg]. “Faced with a Trump administration proposal that could ban the government from deducting union dues from members’ pay, the largest U.S. home health-care union is trying an unusual workaround: It’s issuing workers debit cards they can use to access their paycheck—minus the dues…. Workers can authorize ADP to deposit their state paychecks onto the card so as to route their dues to SEIU. The union said the cards, which can also be used to store government benefits, pay bills and cash checks, will serve a useful purpose for members who lack bank accounts. ADP Vice President Anthony Should We Let Our Kids Play Football?

declined to provide details on the fees of the new cards, but said they are both low and avoidable.”

“Dollar General throws a lifeline to hard-pressed communities. Not all welcome it” [Los Angeles Times]. “‘Little-box’ stores like Dollar General — and its main competitor Dollar Tree — have taken over a gigantic segment of the American household economy in the last decade by expanding into small towns overlooked by larger operators. Dollar General alone now has more than 15,000 stores nationwide, slightly more than the total number of McDonald’s locations. Its annual sales exceed $6 billion…. The dollar store revolution has thrown a lifeline of food and capital to impoverished pockets in California and elsewhere, but it also raises a compelling question: How much quality is in that lifeline?… In a presentation to investors at a Nashville hotel in 2016, Dollar General Executive Vice President Jim Thorpe identified the American underclass as the company’s ‘best friends forever.’ The chief characteristics of the loyalists, he said, included ‘living paycheck to paycheck,’ and ‘relies on government assistance.’ Thorpe predicted the growing customer demographic — generally Caucasians with household income lower than $40,000 a year — would shortly expand to include large numbers of African Americans and millennials. The average Dollar General shopper is among the last ‘to feel the effects of improving economic conditions,’ the company said in a report to investors.” • Fascinating article. If Dollar General stores have pharmacy counters, I’m sure Naloxone would do very well.

“Uber drivers are staging their first multi-city strike, and it’s a sign their anger over ‘exploitation’ is getting harder to ignore” [Business Insider]. “Drivers across Birmingham, London, and Nottingham will take part in the first UK multi-city strike to hit the cab-hailing company. The action has been organised by a branch of the Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), a small but outspoken independent union that advocates for gig economy workers. The action is led by James Farrar, a former Uber driver who won a legal battle against the firm in 2016 over drivers’ employment status.”

News of the Wired


I loved the Newton so much I bought two. Thread:

* * *

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 (DC):

DC writes: “Here are a few pics of some giant swamp sunflowers in our bird sanctuary. This is just south of Birmingam, AL.” “Lush life,” as one of DC’s Instagram commenters remarks.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. Altandmain

    I’ve been thinking about the fact that 1 in 3 Democratic Party people choose a Republican over a Bernie type politician in the Ben Jealous election.


    As Lambert has noted, it is totally hypocritical for them to criticize Bernie Sanders voters who stayed home if Establishment Democrats would choose a Republican over the Berniecrat. They also have no grounds now for criticism of people who have voted Green or the so called “deplorable” voters, some of which were Obama Trump voters.

    However this has other implications. If Sanders or another left wing voter were to win against the Establishment neoliberal Democrat, and the Republicans nominated a “Jeb!” Bush type candidate the Clinton base would go for the Bush candidate.

    I think that it became clear that a lot of upper middle class professional voters were going to go Clinton because their class interests are aligned with Wall Street and the 1 percent. This Jacobin article discusses it.


    Sanders would have narrowed the income gap between the top 10 percent and the bottom 90 percent. The top 10 percent doesn’t like that and they voted accordingly, aligning their interest with the Wall Street elite in 2016. I suspect that if it were Sanders vs an Establishment Republican, they would do the same. Expect this in a future presidential election.

    That’s going to be a big barrier for any future Berniecrat or any left wing party. The top 10 percent base is economically very conservative….

    1. L

      I think it’s also important to note that everyone keeps trying to read the data to argue whether it’s Bernie or Hillary everywhere mostly on the basis of individual anecdotes. In the case of Ben Jealous he is facing a popular incumbent in a business-friendly state. The other anecdote is
      Conor Lamb Jr. who we must remember barely squeaked by despite all the advantages of incumbency (well known family name and deep connections) and none of its drawbacks (actual history).

      On the other hand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortes beat a well loathed incumbent in a very liberal district. Arguably what this really means is that what local voters want is the best predictor of performance not national labels.

      Go figure.

      1. a different chris

        Conor Lamb Jr. who we must remember barely squeaked by despite all the advantages of incumbency

        We must remember that? Even though/especially because it’s false? Ok, if you say so.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Yes, I tried to bring this up a few weeks ago after Cuomo won pretty strongly in his primary against Nixon. We’re going to have to admit/remind ourselves that 1) establishment dems have a base of support and 2) they can turn them out to the polls. And yes, per your point above, they’ll happliy defect to ‘moderate’ repubs when they see fit.

      Assuming the polls are accurate in MD gov race, I think a similar point has to be made. Dems DO have a base among wealthy suburbanites along the wealthy parts of the East Coast and in CA. Those voters are going to go for Charlie Baker in MA, Cuomo in NY, and Hogan in MD, and they may send Dianne Feinstein back to the senate in CA.

      It may be easier to win control of state and local party apparatus in states that Dems have basically abandoned. Bernie did much better across the Great Plains, Midwest, and Rocky Mountains.

      It’s also worth pointing out that it seems much harder to mount a challenge for a Senate seat than a House district (lots more doors to knock on). A lot of the new success that we’ve seen has been at state and local levels. Justice Democrats basically flopped in their attempt to take down Feinstein (though they’ve had good results elsewhere).

      I think we’ve got to gather more strength before we can dream of storming the blue citadels of power and fundraising that the establishment dems hold so dear.

      1. dcblogger

        We will have to see when the returns come it, but many of the black women on my Twitter feed DO NOT like Ben Jealous. Anyone here from PG County or Baltimore? So I don’t know what happened in Maryland. Also, I will be interested to see if the Maryland Green party wins any of its legislative races. If they do, it may be time for a serious Demexit in Maryland.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > many of the black women on my Twitter feed DO NOT like Ben Jealous

          My understanding from the South Carolina “firewall” episode is that many older black women are in fact quite conservative. Also, the Black Misleadership class is deeply embedded in the Democrat Party (and vice versa). Perhaps they are simply protecting their machine.

      2. Altandmain

        They do have a base of support. Numerically the Democratic Establishment is not very popular, but their support is exceedingly loyal. Same with the Republicans.

        The Democratic base primarily consists of upper middle class professionals, who vote in large numbers. There are other interest groups, such as large numbers of the feminist movement who went for Hillary Clinton. For them, the status quo under neoliberalism has worked well enough.

        The Primaries tend to have turnout that is very low, making swings vulnerable to a certain group. Any strategy should involve turning out a moderate amount of young people. College towns might be a good place to start. Perhaps not where the elite universities like Harvard are, but everywhere else is a possibility.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > We’re going to have to admit/remind ourselves that 1) establishment dems have a base of support and 2) they can turn them out to the polls.

        And oddly, they don’t really want to bring non-voters into the system….

        1. Altandmain

          That would actually mean doing something to actually help their interests, instead of the donors.

          That’s not going to happen any time soon, unless they get voted out in primaries.

    3. Kokuanani

      Maryland Democrats are a lazy and unreliable bunch. How do you think we got the Republican Hogan as governor? Because MD Dems didn’t have their act together to put up a good candidate the first time Hogan ran. They just figured the state was “blue,” so why bother. Once he became the incumbant, he spent all his effort grooming himself for re-election, and now look.

      Demonstrating their wisdom [not], MD Dems have elected Ben Cardin senator, Steney Hoyer Congresscritter. Barbara Mikulski, repeated voted as the nastiest boss by senate staffers, only recently retired. The state is a mishmash of top 10% that live around DC, black voters in Prince George’s County & Baltimore, and rubes in the rural areas.

      We can have our own civil war right inside our borders.

    4. Oregoncharles

      The same thing happened in Florida in 2000 – vastly more Democrats voted for Bush than anyone voted for Nader.

      1. Richard

        r.e. Nader, It’s just so fun for dems to punch left. It’s how they’ve been impressing each other since HHH was a pup.

    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      Ahhh , but . . . if the non-rich part of Trump’s base beholds the spectacle of millions of Clintonites voting aGAINST the SanderSocial Democrat, they might possibly think that ” anyone the Pink Pussy Hat Clintonites hate that much might just deserve a second look on our part.”

      It could all be part of a longer-term re-alignment.

      Withal, it is no reason not to vote for the Bernieform candidate in the primaries. While winning would be nice, making the Clintobamazoid Filth reveal their true selves in public . . . in the election . . . would be very valuably clarifying.

      1. John k

        Lots of dems might prefer trump, but lots of reps might go for Bernie. But the main thing is what would the biggest party, the indies, do? By definition they dislike both parties, likely the vast majority go for Bernie. Plus he gets the young, those voting for the first time… he still fills stadiums. I see a landslide. And the more neolib dems running against him, the better. And indies don’t bother with msm, so their ignoring Bernie again will matter even less this time.

  2. Wukchumni

    Our little town is still Dollar General free, but how long can it last?

    The owner of our mercantile/hardware store has it up for sale, and I know that he was against DG, and he also owns the only location where a DG can be built and it’s right next to his business that would be in direct competition with him, but if he sold his business, things change.

    The 2 nearest cities close to us Exeter & Woodlake, have succumbed to their presence-both on the outskirts of town, not too far out but barely on the periphery. Neither needed DG, as there were competent grocery stores and other stores that all it did was replicate, for a few cents less.

    It’s as if DG is the final sweep in taking out anything the Big Box stores missed out on in the hinterlands.

    1. Chas

      It used to be that every little town had a locally owned coffee shop. Then the Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks came in to put them out of business. Then the dollar stores came to put out the general stores in the little towns. What next? What local businesses are left to be preyed upon? I’m thinking antique shops.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Very few independently owned pawn shops here in Tucson. And the thieves know it. Let’s just say that the chains provide a certain level of, ahem, anonymity.

  3. L

    Man, I dunno. I’d say the very last thing liberals are these days is empirical.

    I second that, In fact it reminds me of this statement from an article in The Intercept about the DCCC’s obsession with picking moderates with good fundraising prowess to lose again and again and again:

    Democratic party officials are not, by nature, moved to deep reflection by election losses. They have a plan and they’re sticking to it. The bad news for grassroots activists is that the Democratic Party’s leaders cannot be reasoned with. But they can be beaten.

    As they and others have noted the empirical evidence is definitely against them. But unfortunately, the monetary evidence, that is the ability of the DCCC to keep scaring up dollars to pay themselves and their crony consultants, still tells them (and people like Chait) what they want to hear.

    1. flora

      The leading “fundraising” para seems to be missing a ‘close italic’. Noticed the same on another post with this lead para.

  4. Wukchumni

    Dow Jonestown appears as if it’ll go in the drink again for a 7th day in a row, but the record is pretty safe @ 14 down days in a row in 1941.

    1. ChristopherJ

      Looks the like the ‘market’ is no longer what it was, Wuk.

      The moves all look staged from people with very deep pockets, which is not surprising I guess, when most of us don’t own any shares at all.

      1. a different chris

        Chase a lot of people out, which allows you to buy low and tighten your grip on, well, everything. Rinse and repeat.

  5. Mark Gisleson

    Dollar General pouring the foundation for a new store a block from me. Small town, one coop style grocery store. I’m doing my best to warn neighbors that they need the coop but not the Dollar General but it’s a Republican area that’s abandoned its Main Street merchants to shop at big box retailers instead.

  6. Carolinian

    Sorry about our SC Democrats. They are definitely “liberals,” not “of the left.” Perhaps if Nikki comes back they’ll get some fire in the belly. There is one rumor that Trump will replace Sessions with Lindsey (he was a JAG officer) and the delightful ex-gov and UN name taker could go for the Senate seat.

  7. Wukchumni

    When I was a kid, everybody played little league, and not so many boys were in Pop Warner-as MLB was the premier sport of the 60’s and early 70’s, and then by the time I went to high school, football games meant everything and had good attendance, but in comparison nobody went to school baseball games, and by that time the NFL was a force to be reckoned with.

    Maybe in football crazy Texas (there’s a $70 million HS stadium there) they’ll not worry about the danger in the future the game brings, but you can see the NFL fan base leaving in droves already in a perfect storm accentuated by the kneeling issue (most NFL fans skew hard right) the CTE eventuality that is going to effect almost all players, the inability to set limits on how far the players can be hurtful to one another, the obvious tie-in with the military that’s going sour as the country is finally coming to grips with what a monster the MIC is, and bear in mind that a large percentage of QB’s are evangelicals (you can tell who they are, as when they do something good like a TD, afterwards they point a finger upwards towards the heavens, but conversely when they screw up, not a one points downwards to the devil) who should be perfect heroes for the cult of Christians that make up a good share of the audience.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, the community college recently announced that it was ending the football program that was launched with great fanfare back in 2000. The local reaction? A collective yawn.

      A local sports columnist’s take:


      Money quote:

      “My sad prediction: The demise of football at Pima will be the first in a series of football programs to die in Tucson. Ultimately, high school football programs in Southern Arizona will fall away, one by one. It might take 10 or 20 years to start, but the future of non-NCAA football programs and the numbers and money required to sustain them will become a common theme.”

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        The sons of some people I have known for 30 years played high school football in Phoenix. I was told they had to get up at 3am for football practice as it was simply too hot for them to practice at any other time of the day.

        I don’t doubt that (American) football will disappear in Arizona soon. It ain’t getting any cooler there.

    2. ChristopherJ

      Times change and so do tastes. Rugby (League and Union), Soccer, Cricket, Aussie Football, Netball and Basketball – these are the main players here and they’ve all had high points over my lifetime. I have played them all and attended games, watched live and on tv.

      My tastes have waxed and waned too but team sports have always been my favorite as you can sometimes witness a better team outplaying a team with better individuals. When that happens and you are there to witness it, well I don’t care what sport it is, I get emotional big-time, even if it’s not your team.

      This is one of my all time favs, but then I’m biased….



      I could look it up and have some idea, but the word evangelical comes up often in my readings – is to describe a nutty Christian or one who seeks to change other people? What is it’s origin and is it an American word?

      Our interim Prime Minister Scott Morrison (aka Scomo, Scummo, Scum, Scotty…) is a member of the Pentecostal Church here, iirc.

      He gets called a ‘happy clapper’ as a result. Is this similar to evangelical?

      thanks again

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > He gets called a ‘happy clapper’ as a result. Is this similar to evangelical?

        Subject to correction from states with more “Christians” than mine, yes. (I have terrible priors with “evangelicals” because they were a major faction* (“Missed you at Bible study“) in the Bush administration. (It always seemed to me that a just God would have leveled the Bush White House with a lightning strike, and I’m not kidding.)

        I’d welcome less jaundiced views from somebody who’s closer to, or the member of, the evangelical community….

        NOTE * With abuse problems a lot like the Catholic Church has been having, too.

        1. ChristopherJ

          Cheers Lambert.

          My Mum always said not to discuss politics or religion, so I am always on tenterhooks when I try to engage, well anyone really, on religion.

        2. Procopius

          According to Christianity Today the term is a little vague, but it seems to refer to people who rely on (a) the infallibility of the Bible and (b) their own consciences/feelings as the final arbiters of what God wants them to do. As used in the MSM it usually refers to hard right religious fanatics who believe in an Old Testament angry, vengeful, authoritarian God who somehow favors their own sect. There is an accepted strand of Catholicism called Evangelicism which apparently gives more weight to the Bible than traditional Catholic teaching prefers. Of course, I am not a Christian, so perhaps I’m misinterpreting what I see and hear.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            Happy clapper == born again. The most annoying of the evangelicals. Sorta like dealing with an ex-smoker or a vegan except jacked up to the nth degree (as your immortal soul is at risk, dontcha know).

  8. fresno dan


    When the cash price for a prescription is less than what you would pay using your insurance plan, pharmacists will no longer have to keep that a secret.
    At a hearing on the gag order ban, Collins said she watched a couple leave a Bangor, Maine, pharmacy without their prescription because they couldn’t afford the $111 copayment and the pharmacist did not advise them about saving money by paying directly for the medicine. When she asked him how often that happens, he said every day.
    When Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) went to a Michigan pharmacy to pick up a prescription recently, she was told it would cost $1,300. “After you peeled me off the ceiling, I called the doctor and screamed and talked to the pharmacist,” she recalled during a hearing last month. “I’m much more aggressive than many in asking questions,” she admitted, and ended up saving $1,260 after she learned she could get an equivalent drug for $40.
    People ASSUME that if insurance COVERS a medicine or procedure, it must be cheaper than paying for it yourself. I have seen so many examples where that is not true that I believe the medical insurance complex is totally devoted to extracting as much money from the suckers….er, patients as possible.

    AND, any time I see someone on top of the Chrysler building I get vertigo….there is a video of some guy in the ’30s who balanced on a ball on top of the building, and just typing about it makes me woozy…..

    1. polecat

      You know fresno dan, whenever I view those kinds of images, be they stills, or motion pictures containing said feats of ‘high’ action around ‘precipitous’ drops, I get really uncomfortable …the palms of my hands and the souls of my feet sweating up something fearsome !!
      But when I’m actually climbing up, swinging and traipsing around high places … no problemo ! Weird huh ?
      Must be a subconscious reflex of a sort .. control issue.

      1. HotFlash

        I get severely carsick, *unless* I am the driver — then, just fine, thank you. So I’d say, yes, it is a control issue. :)

  9. rd

    Google reports that health care is the number 1 search issue week in and week in. So why aren’t the Democrats crushing it?

    Instead, they are allowing the Republicans to paint them as socialists that will turn the US into Venezuela (actual quotes on Fox News). “Medicare-for-all” is essentially Canadian healthcare, not Venezuelan. Per capita expenditures on health care in Canada is HALF of the US’s. The US actually spends $4,197 of PUBLIC MONEY per capita (2013 $) compared to $3,047 in Canada on health care but with nothing like universal coverage to show for it. So the US is spending more public money on healthcare than the socialists. What is wrong with this picture?

    A fee for publicly funded health care is not a tax, it is an insurance premium like Social Security or the health care insurance premium. Companies barely even think about health care insurance in Canada, because they are only covering premium services, some pharmaceutical coverage, and dental/vision plans in a system where the total costs are a fraction of the US’s. So “Medicare-for-All” should mean a plunge in the healthcare insurance costs that are currently employer funded. Private health care funding in the US is more than 3X that of Canada’s – “Medicare-for-all” would be a massive “tax cut” to corporate America. The private sector (outside the healthcare industry) should be all over this and supporting the Democrats. Small business should be begging for it.

    The Democrat Party leadership is the most incompetent leadership publicly seen since the Germans on Hogan’s Heroes.

      1. Richard

        I agree! But they do also have Colonel Klinkish look to their failures, almost as if daring you to take them seriously.
        Of course, what was the last failure that crew ever admitted?

      1. Procopius

        It was Roberts who wrote the opinion, but I can’t be sure the idea didn’t come from Scalia. And now we’ve got four of them well to the right of Fat Tony and John Roberts.

    1. HotFlash

      Companies barely even think about health care insurance in Canada, because they are only covering premium services, some pharmaceutical coverage, and dental/vision plans in a system where the total costs are a fraction of the US’s.

      Yes! Can you think about how this might encourage entrepreneurship? Perhaps that is why Big Corps are so against it? That, and the ball-and-chain that health benefits provides for them.

  10. clarky90

    Re; “accounts use a default admin username of ‘admin’ with no password”

    A metaphor; If I have left my keys in my car, it does not matter how feverishly or methodically I search my house for those lost keys. They are in the CAR, not the HOUSE! We are losing OUR Freedom of Speech. We are losing OUR Democracy. Let us look in the correct places (China….?) and not waste time and energy looking fruitlessly (Russia?).

    Feinstein’s Close China Ties Under Scrutiny After Chinese Spy Discovery


    “News of a Chinese spy working for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein broke recently, revealing the spy was employed by Feinstein for 20 years.”

    China’s Dystopian Social Credit system


    These two expats have lived in China for years. They speak the language and are married to Chinese women. I find their thoughts creditable and entertaining.

    “China has implemented a social credit system that rates it’s citizens. People receive a score depending on what they say online, their behavior, and political factors. If someone has too low of a score, they cannot move up in society, travel, and is limited to what they can do in society.”

  11. dcblogger

    I meant to comment yesterday of lambert mindboggling link about the Democrats being in trouble with Hispanics because 35% of Hispanics support Republicans. What this means is that if you went did voter registration in an Hispanic precinct for every 4 Republicans you registered you would have 6 Democrats, for a net gain of 2. 2 voters per precinct and Democrats would own the country.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Unless the 6 Democrats are not too excited about their D candidate and decide to not vote, and the 4 Republican are and do.

      In that case, the score would be 4-0, or 0-4.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > if you went did voter registration in an Hispanic precinct for every 4 Republicans you registered you would have 6 Democrats

      Kinda makes you wonder why they don’t do that…

  12. Craig H.

    > Should We Let Our Kids Play Football?

    It probably is not as bad as smoking cigarettes. On the other hand, they will not be allowed on the team if you do not sign the liability waiver so it is trivial to disallow it. It’s not like you have to spy on your kid to keep them off the football team.

    1. Wukchumni

      Any good reason why we couldn’t combine a number of known bad things together, and yeah a huddle is only like 45 seconds, but you could always put your butt out before running the next play?

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      No. It’s bad. Unless you are happy with having a crippled child, don’t let your kids do it. If you do not believe me, watch a practice. I was recruited, ‘whimped out’, and looking back that was a more intelligent decision than any adult around me was willing to make.

      There is no concern about potential injury. Geeze.

    3. ChristopherJ

      Attacking the head in any football sport is banned and has been for years. Well known now what happens when people receive repeated blunt force impacts to the head.

      In USA footballers seem to be encouraged to use their helmeted head like a weapon. Also known for yonks, when you have a helmet on, you have a false sense of protection.

    4. Yves Smith

      I beg to differ. Three concussions = serious cognitive impairment in a decade or two. The evidence on this is undeniable, which is why the sport is in a panic trying to find remedies. And you can get a concussion via a garden variety accident, so one should probably assume one “shit happens” concussion for everyone, leaving only one to be had in playing football before you fuck your brain up.

    5. skippy

      My wife as a paramedic has responded to numerous occasions where a kid under 10 was riding a bike or scooter in the drive way and had an fall and had serious brain trauma. Hence completely disadvantages them to future prospects and saddles the family with a care taker occupation.

      1. tegnost

        the first thing the paramedics said to me when they scraped me up off the street (some number of years ago) was “thanks for wearing a helmet”. Nowadays when I go to seattle I see unhelmeted lime bike and scooter riders all over with no helmets and I think this is a very bad idea.

        1. Wukchumni

          Back when I started skiing in the 70’s, there wasn’t a helmet to be seen on the slopes, nada.

          Fast forward to a Kennedy & then Sonny Bono dying via running into trees, and all of the sudden everybody starts wearing helmets, to the point now where 85% of those @ Mammoth (where I ply my traits) are wearing one.

          I went helmetless for 35+ years, and finally figured i’d been cheating fate for a long time (backcountry skiing in Sequoia NP involves skiing through trees on some steeper slopes when say you’re going out to the Pear Lake ski hut) and now wear headgear.

  13. dcblogger

    An estimated 93% of eligible voters in Travis County are registered to vote – a modern-day record, says Travis County Tax Assessor-Collector/Voter Registrar Bruce Elfant. Roughly 70,000 new voters have registered, with about 1,500 new applicants a day, making it seem closer to a presidential year turnout rather than a midterm…


    election day is going to be epic, all across the country

  14. Hameloose Cannon

    Silicon Valley is in the middle of an existential crisis: how can they keep their infernal machines lubricated for fifteen to twenty more years, squeezing and concentrating value out of markets buttressed by employees, such as Uber drivers, without the whole the system grinding to a halt? Then from the great start-up in the sky, the hedge fund angels bring us MMT to mint our Universal Basic Incomes. Private equity can continue to reap the benefits of digital indentured servitude while tapping those ETF accounts to bridge the ever-widening short fall. Without changing the cash flow infrastructure of IP and digital licensing, the UBI is just an extra ledger column in the continued impoverishment of everyone else. MMT coupled with UBI is still capital market rule by other means, the masses will just live UBI paycheck-to-paycheck.

    If neoliberalism is a conspiracy to suppress wages and export jobs, wouldn’t MMT and UBI just be another method to keep on suppressing wages and eliminating jobs beyond the zero by deferring the social upheaval, corporate extinction, another generation? Just so that guys like Warren Mossler can mummify the rest of his years stress free in St. Croix or Charlotte Amalie, or whatever extra-judicial fairy kingdom is fashionable in which to dodge real equitable reform.

      1. skippy

        I have to agree with Lambert JTM. Your non supported statement wrt to the comment above does not avail itself of whatever ideological bias supports it.

        Firstly the commenter does not even understand neoliberalism and equates it to a CT FFS….. not that they completely misconstrue MMT as its administered due to ideological dominance and not MMT per se.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Engels, IIRC, owned a factory in Manchester. When the ancien regime is decadent enough, the splits go all the way to the top. See the Duc D’Orleans, Warren Mosler, even FDR (no Grand Bargains from him! He remained a class traitor to the end.)

      > Then from the great start-up in the sky, the hedge fund angels bring us MMT to mint our Universal Basic Incomes.

      This is an idiotic statement for two reasons. Trivially, UBI isn’t an MMT thing; the JG is. More importantly, MMT is already the way things work. It has already been “brought.” Do some reading before spouting off; you’ll find it helpful.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Actually, I’m going to revise my opinion upward, strongly, now that I’m further into it.

      -Criticism of Israel and Saudi Arabia
      -cannot go back to the status quo because march to the right is a PRODUCT of the status quo
      -critcism, by name, of Sheldon Adelson, Mercer family, Cambridge Analytica
      -criticism of $21trn stashed in tax havens around the world by oligarchs

      Really, classic Sanders at his best, here. Pointing the finger at the oligarchs and condemning their undue influence on the political process.

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        I am currently reading Treasure Islands. Your mention of the “$21trn stashed in tax havens around the world by oligarchs” rings very true. It has me wondering about how this impacts MMT, specifically the part about how taxes drive currency demand.

        That 21 trillion isn’t taxed (duh, it is stashed in tax havens) and is not regulated by anything approaching fractional reserve requirements. That is, from what I’ve read, all of that money is moved about, loaned out, invested, without regard for any reserve requirement placed on it by the Federal Reserve. The only limit, then, to the money supply (dollars in existence) is demand. Someone wants 10 trillion dollars and is willing to pay the interest on it, poof, it exists.

        I’ve also read of the concern in the Federal Reserve that they have lost control of the money supply; all Friedman advocated is now meaningless. All they have left to fiddle with is the interest rate.

        While I agree with the intellectual framework of MMT, I wonder if all the offshore tax havens haven’t rendered it meaningless.

        1. johnnygl

          A quick clarification…i didn’t mention the $21 trn, sanders did! ;)

          From an MMT standpoint, if there are deadweight (as in not circulating) private assets stashed in accounts, it’s reflected as an outstanding liability to the feds. It doesn’t really impact the flow of goods and services until someone decides to spend it. Then, once spent, it exerts pull on real goods and services.

          You mentioned not controlling quantity of money…but if you control quantity, then interest rates start to bounce around, causing uncertainty for business and consumer borrowing costs.

          Also, don’t forget to count velocity of money. All the idle cash parked abroad shows up as higher quantity, but slower velocity (because rich people don’t spend as much, money circulation slows down).

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            it’s reflected as an outstanding liability to the feds

            That’s a very big problem, no? (offshore banks are able to lend trillions of dollars, creating virtually infinite uncontrolled liabilities for the feds as there is no fractional reserve requirement). $100 in deposits, loan out $100. Poof, $200 exists.

            All the idle cash parked abroad shows up as higher quantity, but slower velocity (because rich people don’t spend as much, money
            circulation slows down).

            The money is in banks, which turn around and loan it out. They don’t make money sitting on deposits, do they?

            1. tegnost

              one of my fave crisis words, rehypothecation
              FTwiki… “Before the Lehman collapse, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculated that US banks were receiving over $4 trillion worth of funding by rehypothecation, much of it sourced from the UK where there are no statutory limits governing the reuse of a client’s collateral. It is estimated that only $1 trillion of original collateral was being used, meaning that collateral was being rehypothecated several times over, with an estimated churn factor of 4”
              What changes have been made since then and how will this be affected by the brexit?

            2. John k

              No, but they don’t need deposits to make loans. What they do need is qualified borrowers, and when they have that they loan all that is desired by said qualified borrowers.

        2. JTMcPhee

          And how about those quadrillions of “notional dollars” that have been breathed into existence by the sly dogs from MIT and elsewhere who have gifted the world with an enormous overhang of “derivatives?” And I guess it is obvious to most people why this “market” exists, but I seen nothing of actual utility in it — just arbitrage and avoidance. And it looks to me, and I would be happy to have some wiser person explain to me why I am wrong, that notional dollars, like the $21 trillion Wobbly remarks on, are counterfeit money, https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfeit_money, in the worst way — debasing and inflating the money supply with tokens of money that are false and fraudulent in their very essence, yet still empower the makers and holders and passers of these counterfeit tokens to “live large” on gas and promises.

          I guess the Secret Service guys and gals, the FBI and “Justice” Department, are too busy keeping the Elites, past and present, from getting strung up by the disaffected and dispossessed to be bothered about the potential that their paychecks in ‘dollars’ might suddenly become worthless, the power of MMT notwithstanding…

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Aren’t and weren’t the Secret Service and etc. only ever concerned about physical counterfeiting of traditional-legal physical currency? If the SS and etc. have no legal basis or permission to prevent meta-counterfeiting of meta-money, then they can’t be blamed for not doing it.

            Perhaps a ray of hope exists for us little people in that the OverClasses have invested so much belief as well as effort in all their hidden meta-money that if/when it collapses they will be shocked and we who have a few physical bills and coins can still do survival bussiness with eachother in traditionally valuated traditional money.

          2. skippy

            Derivatives were always post Born about leverage wrt borrowing costs to facilitate what Hudson bangs on about w/ a side of metaphysical self serving PR.

            I would offer that you have a bad case of elites shopping around for creative writers that forward a socioeconomic narrative that ensconces their apparent – right – to rule. Not unlike the elites embracement of certain esoteric mindsets in history which ensconced their bio-political dominance over the unwashed. This begs the question that the elites have by seeking continuity in established meritocracy due to expectations of lineage have ultimately brainwashed themselves against that aim because of the inherent anti social outcomes e.g. its baked in….

          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            “Debased currency” and “counterfeit money” are pretty shopworn tropes, if you ask me. That’s why you can’t do serious work using them, as drumlin woodchuckles’s question instantly shows. Just saying.

        3. VietnamVet

          The $21 trillion offshored by American citizens and corporations should be taxed and brought home to do something productive like ameliorating climate change or increasing longevity. I see the argument that this is virtual digital money. But, doesn’t taxing it, make the rest good as gold (real commodities and/or labor) in the USA? If the billionaires don’t have the money to pay the taxes, then the virtual money is worthless.

        4. Oregoncharles

          Yes, I wondered about that, too.

          It seems to me that, since that money retains its value, it calls into question the theory that taxes sustain monetary value. It COULD be used to pay taxes, once repatriated, but for the most part, it isn’t. As you say, that’s the point of “tax havens.” The same applies to the vast amounts of dollars residing in foreign banks. They can, however, still be used to pay for stuff. Maybe that’s more important. As I’ve suggested before, the ability to pay taxes is really just a special case of extinguishing debts, the original sense of “fiat currency.” It’s the case the government has direct control over.

      2. Richard

        Does it strike anyone as odd that the $21 trillion figure is exactly the same as the unaccounted for Pentagon $? Or was that part of Sanders point somehow? I haven’t watched the lecture (yet).

  15. marym

    Trump DOJ Will Move To Block Chicago Police Reform, Jeff Sessions Says

    The Trump administration will attempt to block an agreement between the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois to reform the long-troubled Chicago Police Department, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Tuesday.

    The Justice Department has backed away from police reform in various contexts, but this will be the first time it’s actively attempted to intervene to prevent reform from moving forward.

    Last week, a jury convicted Chicago officer Jason Van Dyke for the 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Days later, President Donald Trump urged the city of Chicago to embrace “stop-and-frisk” policing, inaccurately calling it an effective approach.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      If the city of Chicago and the state of Illinois really value their effort at CPD reform, they will sue every relevant Federal Obstructer and every relevant Federal Saboteur against their CPD reform. If they don’t really care all that much, they will accept whatever the TrumpAdmin “decrees” and say ” the Trump made us do it”.

      They could also task their best brain-war warfighters to napalm and incinerate Jeff Sessions’ so-called “belief” in “States Rights” if he ever stated such beliefs in the past. They could also do something similar with Trump. If they really cared . . .

  16. cocomaan

    The End of Smugness article GETS IT. The North Korea stuff is some of the biggest advances in diplomacy in the last thirty years.

    Finally, a good article on Trump. One that gets his weaknesses and his strengths.

    Thanks for this. Was thinking of skipping the fundraiser because of a lack of funds but I’m hitting you up tomorrow!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t mean to imply that Trump is a good President; he isn’t. (True, he hasn’t started a $4 trillion losing war or nuked the Fourth Amendment, like — the fortunately now rehabilitated; he gave Michelle candy! — George W. Bush, but George W. Bush set a very low baseline.)

      But it’s more important to be clear-eyed than it is to express rage or use the first tactic that comes to hand (“Any stick to beat a dog”). Quoting that old war horse:

      … Know the enemy and know yourself…

      I don’t think that the liberal Democrats are very good on either point. In fact, I think they’re outright delusional on both points (see under “Frank, Thomas, Exile and Shunning of”). Now, if the Democrats do well in the mid-terms, we will see the insane and destructive degradation of discourse and institutions perpetrated after 2016 by the Clintonites and their allies in the press, the intelligence, community, and the non-profit sector* retrospectively justified. (“Just win, baby!” as the Raiders’ Al Davis famously said.) However, I think that when all is said and done, they will have self-crippled themselves in terms of being able to deliver on policies that I consider good.

      A “blue wave” isn’t good in and of itself, of course (unless you’re pom pom-waving loyalist); it’s good, as it were, only insofar as what it leaves washed up on shore after it recedes is good. If what’s left on shore is boxes of treasure, well and good! If what’s left on shore is dead kelp, driftwood, and assorted flotsam and jetsam, then I think one might be justified in asking what all the excitement was about. Of course, one can always make a nice lamp for the den out of the driftwood….

      NOTE * Not to imply there’s no overlap among these three classes.

      1. a different chris

        Or, to use another wave analogy, it could be good if it just destroys everything, both sides. Clears all the development off the beach when it recedes.

        If there is a blue wave, the force behind it is still arguably mostly negative and that can break up what is but doesn’t really establish what will be, except again in the negative (“it won’t be the ones that just got wiped out”) sense.

      2. Edward E

        The Chinese had 300,000 troops on the border with NK and at least DT was smart enough to eventually do what they suggested.

  17. ewmayer

    Re. “If Supermicro boards were so bug-ridden, why would hackers ever need implants? | Ars Technica” — Let’s see if we can come up with a plausible rationale for a would-be-surveiller with the needed supply-chain access (i.e. China) to prefer a hardware implant to simply fiddling the firmware. I’ve seen the (alleged) hardware-implant hack described as “a shot across the bow of the NSA” by the Chinese, and per Snowden, the NSA, lacking China’s manufacturing-supply-chain access, relies bigly on firmware backdooring, coupled with selected-target-of-interest shipment-interdiction for purposes of hardware implantation. Speculating freely, say you’re the Chinese spooks – you know it’s not unlikely that at some point the NSA is gonna firmware-flash the same export gear you are interested in backdooring. With firmware, he who flashes last wins, so doing a custom backdooring-flash at the factory in Guangzhou is of little use if the NSA overwrites your backdoored firmware with their own after the shipment arrives stateside. A hardware implant would presumably be immune to such nullification-via-overwriting.

    But yes, we really do need to see some actual hardware-implanted gear made available for public inspection – if not from e.g. Apple, which denies the existence of such a thing, then from one of the other end users allegedly targeted by implant-laden hardware – in order for the the Bloomberg claims to move from merely possible/plausible to genuinely believable.

  18. Stillfeelinthebern

    In Wisconsin, the Guv, yes, THAT guy, is taking credit for lowering insurance premiums for 2019.


    From Charles Gaba. “Walker is actually just using Obamacare to improve Obamacare.”


    Dems are clueless on messaging on this.

    Not a peep that I have seen from them to push back on the Guv repairing what the feds created with their mandate repeal. Guv is out there making himself look good on what he knows is a top issue. He pulled ahead this week in one of the polls.

  19. allan

    Wilbur Ross Changes Story on Discussions of Citizenship Question for Census [NYT]

    Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has shifted his explanation for adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, saying he now recalls discussing it with Stephen K. Bannon, President Trump’s former chief strategist, according to court documents filed Thursday.

    Mr. Ross, who faces a court order to provide a deposition to the plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to strip the question from the questionnaire, told a congressional committee earlier this year that he had only talked about the question with Justice Department officials to determine its legality.

    Mr. Ross now says Mr. Bannon suggested that he contact Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state whom Mr. Trump appointed to a commission to investigate his unsubstantiated claims that millions of illegal immigrants cast ballots …

    A spokesman for Mr. Ross said he did not change his version of events but was quoted out of context in coverage about his testimony in March.

    “Secretary Ross was responding to a question about an R.N.C. campaign email, not a direct question about the citizenship question,” said the spokesman, Kevin Manning.

    But the transcript of the exchange indicates unambiguously that Mr. Ross was asked specifically about the “citizenship question. …

    … on Tuesday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg granted a temporary stay of the depositions of Mr. Ross and John Gore, a Justice Department official. The Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether the depositions should proceed.

    Surely, after hunkering down in the White House for two weeks to plot anti-Christine Blasey Ford strategy,
    our newest Associate Justice will recuse himself from the case, amirite?

  20. polecat

    Yeah, epic …

    I predict a Trumpian impact of epic Chicxulub proportions .. such that the Blue Wave Tsunami will inadvertently wipe any prior advantage the left had .. by scouring both coasts of the U.S. of their phony 10% credentialed hyperbolic TDS/RUSS ‘OMG’ melodrama ..

    Hopefully, in the process of deposition, will the Clintons, the DNC, DCCC, et. al. be subducted back into the primordial muck from whence they came … maybe to be converted back into oil, or coal ..Ha ! ..What an irony That would be, no ?
    Only then will opportunities arise to play hardball with the fossil elephants !

  21. RudyM

    If Dollar General stores have pharmacy counters, I’m sure Naloxone would do very well.

    Cheaper to get it at the public library.

  22. RMO

    The Chrysler building shot reminds me of the video The The did for their cover of Hank Williams I Saw The Light. Matt Johnson stood out on the same spot and sung. Gives me the cold sweats watching it as I’m afraid of heights.

  23. lyman alpha blob

    RE: “Robot lawyer DoNotPay now lets you ‘sue anyone’ via an app”

    Similar top the Jackpot, we’ve already begun to experience Accelerando. Get ready to say hello to your autonomous amoral corporate/legal AI overlords.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I believe, though I can’t find the quote, that “Death to the machines that think like men [sic]!” was the slogan of the Butlerian jihaad in Frank Herbert’s Dune. Something to be said for that.

    1. lambert strether

      At the the time I was a high-priced consultant and billed by the hour. The Newton had the best time-billing software ever, and I could do entries instantly without have to break out the laptop or remembering to do them later, ha ha. Both Newtons more than paid for themselves because I fully billed for my time.

      The handwriting recognition never did quite work, but I wonder if it would have worked better if I’d consciously restructured my cursive, as I in fact did with the Apple pencil, to such a degree that I can’t really write my old signature….

      Apple really is, or was, good at engineering a sense of intimacy into its platforms.

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