2:00PM Water Cooler 10/16/2018

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“Will the U.S. Treasury’s Imminent Report to Congress on Trade Partners’ Currency Practices Once Again Fall Short of Its Mandate?” [Eyes on Trade]. “The Trump administration will release its latest report on trade partners’ currency practices imminently. Like its prior three iterations of this semi-annual report mandated by Congress to identify countries whose distortion of currency values to gain trade advantages must be addressed, it is unlikely any country will be listed. A new analysis by Public Citizen shows how the Trump Treasury Department’s decision to rely on reporting criteria created by the previous administration has ensured no action on the issue, despite then-candidate Donald Trump pledging to crack down on countries that gain trade advantages by distorting currency values.” • Not even China….



“Trump tops $100 million in fundraising for his own reelection” [WaPo]. “President Trump has topped $100 million in fundraising for his 2020 reelection bid — an enormous haul for a president barely two years into his first term, according to new Federal Election Commission filings…. No other president dating back to at least Ronald Reagan had raised any money at this point for his own campaign committee…. Trump continues to be buoyed by an avid small-donor base. FEC filings show 56 percent of the total raised by his committees from July through September came from donations of $200 or less.”

“1 big thing: 2020 crowd jumps the gun” [Axios]. “[V]eterans of past presidential campaigns say the 2020 groundwork is much more flagrant than is traditional or was expected.” “• Christmas carols in the stores before Halloween…

More on Warren’s identity:

“Tribal members bear the cost of ending blood quantum certificates” [High Country News (GF)]. “[Last month,] the BIA informed the tribes that the Bureau intended to abruptly end its issuance of Certificates of Indian Blood (CDIBs), saying a ‘tribe’s right to define… degrees of Indian blood is a central aspect of tribal sovereignty.'” • As the Cherokees urge above.

“Sanders weighs in on aggressiveness of Democratic protests: ‘I am not a great fan of being rude or disrupting activities'” [The Hill]. “‘I am very strongly in favor of mobilizing the American people to stand up and fight for economic justice and social justice and racial and environmental justice. And I think we have to mobilize people,’ Sanders said on CNN’s ‘State of the Union. ‘I am not a great fan of being rude or disrupting activities,’ he added.” • Especially when the disruption is anywhere but the workplace?

“CNN Poll: More see Trump win likely as Biden leads crowded Democratic field” [CNN]. • Please kill me now.

“Michael Bloomberg Can Buy Popularity, but Can He Buy the Presidency?” [The Atlantic]. “We’re at the stage of the Bloomberg-for-president bubble inflation when pretty much no one believes he’ll actually go through with it, but his small circle of media-fascination-stoking virtuosos are excelling at what he pays them hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to do.” • The Beltway loves “problem solving” centrists who can “reach across the aisle,” but frankly I think Joe Biden would eat Bloomberg’s lunch.


20 days until Election Day. 20 days is a long time in politics. And remember that October is the month of surprises!

“Pelosi details her plans for House majority” [Pelosi]. “Similar to 2007 — the first time Pelosi took the speaker’s gavel — House Democrats plan to introduce a package for campaign finance reform as their first bill of the 116th Congress… After that, Pelosi said, Democrats are looking at lowering drug prices and then will try to work with Republicans on a gun background check bill and protecting so-called Dreamers, undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. she would like Democrats to make sure there is integrity in the U.S. voting system and allow for standards to be put in place that states could implement.” • Small ball. What a hill to die on.

“A Tale of Two Increasingly Divergent Elections” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “It turns out that the bitter fight over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was what I call a color-enhancement event—it made the reds redder and the blues bluer…. While the natural “coming home” phenomenon for Republicans would be happening anyway, the fight over Kavanaugh’s nomination expedited and perhaps turbocharged that dynamic, possibly nixing the chances for any Senate Democrats who were counting on many Republican or GOP-leaning independents votes to win…. From January through August, in their national surveys for NBC News and The Wall Street Journal, Republican pollster Bill McInturff and Democratic pollster Fred Yang found that when they asked voters to rate their interest in the upcoming midterm elections, on a scale of 1 to 10, 63 percent of Democrats put themselves as 9s or 10s, extremely interested, while 51 percent of Republicans said the same. But going into the height of the Kavanaugh fight, their Sept. 16-19 poll found that Democrats went up just 2 more points to 65 percent, while Republicans rose 10 points to 61 percent. And that was before the nomination fight hit its crescendo. For Senate Democrats in red states seeking to swim up the partisan stream, the fallout from the Kavanaugh nomination opened up the floodgates, making their challenge exponentially more difficult.” • Whoops. Then again, if the Democrats don’t win the Senate, they don’t actually have to do anything. So all things work together for good.

California: “Century-Old Direct Democracy in California Now a ‘Pay-to-Play’ System” [Courthouse News]. “Intended as a way to circumvent inefficient lawmakers and ward off corruption, California’s direct democracy has been distorted from the version implemented by reformers in the early 20th century. Qualifying and passing a measure is no longer a romantic grassroots undertaking, but largely a pay-to-play process dominated by special interests and savvy politicians…. [Glen Gendzel, history professor at California State University] and other experts have documented how the progressives’ ploy to check the power of the wealthy has evolved into a weapon for California’s biggest corporations. It now costs backers millions just to collect enough signatures to qualify a statewide measure and millions more to spread their message across California’s 58 counties.”

California: “California agency, gas tax backers worked closely together” [Associated Press]. “As the political battle to overturn California’s gas tax increase intensified, the state transportation agency coordinated frequently with the public affairs firm working to block the repeal on behalf of unions, construction companies and local government groups, emails obtained by The Associated Press show….. Three ethics experts interviewed by the AP said the emails raise concerns that the agency’s relationship with the firm was too close, but none saw a clear violation of campaign laws, which prohibit the use of public resources for political campaigns.” • AP doing some public records requests. We like that.

Georgia Governor: “Civil rights groups may seek emergency relief in Georgia voter registration brawl” [ABC]. “A coalition of civil rights groups may seek emergency relief to block Georgia’s controversial ‘exact match’ voter registration rules in time for next month’s midterm elections, Bryan Sells, an attorney for the coalition, told ABC News on Monday…. Under the new law, even a missed hyphen or a nickname inconsistency can stall an application.” • Anybody who’s worked with real personal data knows that exact match is insane and can’t possibly be motivated by good faith. For example, as a good WASP, I have a personal name, a family name, and two (2) middle names. That’s what’s on my birth certificate, but it’s not in any electronic record, because the effing programmers of, like, all the databases in the world only allow for one middle name.

IA-04 “Seed, Pesticide, and Banking Monopolies — Not Immigrants — Are Destroying Farm Country. An Iowa Insurgent Hopes That Message Can Dethrone Steve King” [The Intercept]. “National Democrats have mostly focused on suburban, well-educated districts that have grown disenchanted with Donald Trump’s GOP. But flippable voters also exist in farm country — including in Amish country in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania — which Democrats have ignored for decades. In fact, rural America presents unique opportunities for populists.” • Scholten’s campaign looks pretty nifty! Worth a read.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Majority Leverage Against Minority Rule” [Law and Political Economy]. • I like this site a lot, but if you read the post, you’ll see that it encapsulates (and quite well) an emerging thesis in the liberal zeitgeist: Democrats, with their “coalition of the ascendant” have achieved a small (~3 million) majority in the popular vote, which doesn’t translate to political power because of structural barriers, especially with small rural states in the Senate, but also in the House, due to the geographic concentration of Democrat votes, again in non-rural areas. And therefore…. various structural remedies are discussed, from subconstituional changes like re-apportionment, through constitutional changes to the Senate (and all the way to disunion if it comes to that). Call me crazy… But isn’t this our old friend that Democrats will do anything rather than change? Rather than dick around with proposals for Constitutional changes they don’t have the power to make anyhow, why not try appealing to rural voters right now? Portrait of a Campaign, written by the organizer of the Great Slate, which I linked to last week, sbows the way forward. Make your issues campaign finance reform, health care, and Internet access. But no. And note, of course, that Pelosi isn’t intending to do the second and third items on this list, and if her campaign finance reform proposals are anything but a damp squib, I will be very surprised. Never change, Democrats! Never change!

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, September 2018: “Industrial production rose a solid 0.3 percent in September with manufacturing production up 0.2 percent” [Econoday]. “Mining production remains the standout component in the report…. The manufacturing component of this report, even when adding in inflation, has yet to show the double-digit strength of factory orders and shipments nor even a shadow of the strength of small sample surveys like Empire State and ISM. Yet the gains for vehicles, hi-tech and especially business equipment are pluses that do point to positive momentum.”

Housing Market Index, October 2018: “Optimism among the nation’s home builders has been flat but is picking up this month” [Econoday]. “New home sales have been flat this year but have been doing better than resales which have been edging lower.”

JOLTS, August 2018: “Job openings keep swelling” [Econoday]. “The comparison that’s most critical here is the number of unemployed actively looking for work… This gap between job openings and job seekers, which first opened up earlier this year, is hard evidence that labor is scarce… Jerome Powell concedes that it’s a mystery why wages haven’t been going up very much as demand for labor grows and the supply of labor declines. Yet sooner or later, the law of supply and demand is bound to assert itself, at least this is the risk that the Fed is guarding against in its rate-hike regime.” • [hollow groan].

“Fear Not, ETFs Control the Price of Gold” [Bloomberg]. “Gold isn’t like anything else on the market. Ancient, fundamental, eternal – it’s different from all those here-today, gone-tomorrow assets such as Snap Inc. shares and cryptocurrencies. Right? Wrong…. The driver isn’t so much time-honored fears about the value of money, but the behavior of exchange-traded funds.”

Shipping: “Why whacking your tire with a stick might be costing you money” [Freight Waves]. “Al Cohn, director of new market development and engineering support for Pressure Systems International (P.S.I.), says that the historical manual method of checking tire inflation is no longer sufficient if you want to run the most fuel-efficient operation possible…. During a presentation at the Meritor/P.S.I. Fleet Technology Event in San Antonio last week, Cohn noted that tires continue to be the number-one maintenance cost for fleets. If thumping a tire truly worked, that wouldn’t be the case. And that cost is expected to rise as tire prices are heading upward in 2019 due to a rubber shortage.”

Retail: “The high-risk, high-reward world of selling stuff on Amazon” [CNN]. “That’s when Kazmi received an email from Amazon’s seller support department saying her account had been suspended. Amazon didn’t explain why, saying the reason was ‘proprietary.'” • If your business depends on a platform….

Supply Chain: “Apparel companies eye nearshoring to cut lead times” [Supply Chain Dive]. “The fashion cycle, once embracing a six-month turnaround, today faces a time to market that is capped by approximately six weeks, according to McKinsey’s report. To accomplish this feat, companies now face the challenge of compressing those lead times. Transitioning from offshoring to countries such as China to near- and onshoring offers the opportunity to eliminate significant blocks of that time. The efficiencies once associated with Asian countries is on the decline as well, with comparative offshore labor costs moving closer to the cost of labor found in the U.S.”

Tech: Thread–

Honey for the Bears: “Three Colliding Problems Leading to a New Economic Disaster” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. • Taibbi is always interesting, but these problems are all financial in nature. They are not structural, like Brexit.

Rapture Index: Closes down one on Oil Supply/Price. “The oil prices decline with the stock market” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Seems indeed that 180 is a floor.d


“Dirty water, dirtier practices” [Le Monde Diplomatique]. “Medardo Shingre, a peasant farmer who has lived in Tarapoa for about 40 years, is one of Texaco’s 30,000 victims. He showed me how severely his land has been poisoned: over a wide area, push a stick about 20cm into the ground and crude oil bubbles up. At first sight, the soil looks compact and normal. But as the day warms up, it softens and clings to shoes. Nature has been affected: there are severely stunted adult banana trees, strangely shaped tubers, plants with colourless fruit and leaves.” • Thanks, Texaco! Both these articles are worth a read; water politics in Latin America is rarely covered.

“A freshwater sea” [Le Monde Diplomatique]. “The Guaraní aquifer is one of the world’s largest underground water reserves in terms of surface area (1.2m sq km, as big as France, Spain and Portugal combined), volume of water available (55,000 cubic km) and above all annual renewal capacity, estimated at 160 cubic km.This precious resource is a major geostrategic asset for part of the Southern Cone. Four countries share it: Brazil (840,000 sq km), Argentina (225,000), Paraguay (71,700) and Uruguay (58,500).” • “Share,” uneasily.

Health Care

“Pennsylvania’s Deciders in Their Own Words” [Politico]. “Diane Wagner, 68, 58 years in Pennsylvania, Independent: “Government should have nothing to say about health care. Big government is no answer, it only makes things worse. … Medicare works good. I get Medicare. It’s something we paid for. It’s not an entitlement. Well, it’s an entitlement that we paid for. All through life in our checks when we worked, they took money out, and if you think it’s a little bit, it’s not. Medicare is something that we all paid for, we all paid into. Is it socialized medicine? It’s not really socialized medicine.” • Hmm.

“Mary Mayhew – Trump’s New Medicaid Chief – Helped Block Medicaid Expansion in Maine” [Gritpost]. “Mayhew dramatically slashed Maine’s Medicaid budgets and was responsible for dropping approximately 80,000 low-income Mainers from the program, reducing MaineCare’s enrollment by 37 percent. One of her more infamous legacies was imposing a work requirement for food stamp recipients… Mayhew said she was making ‘difficult decisions to prioritize limited resources so we could support the most vulnerable populations in our state.’ Her decisions, enthusiastically backed by Maine Governor Paul LePage (R), were successful in flattening out Maine’s Medicaid budget, which had been increasing every year.” • MaineCare was one reason I moved to Maine in 2006; I thought it was a sign of progress, and I felt that a universal, Federal program was on the way, because even the Democrats couldn’t screw that up. Well, we got ObamaCare, whose architecture permitted creatures like Mayhew to thrive and get promoted. And here we are.

Guillotine Watch

“As Luxury-Jet Sales Heat Up, Even Used Planes Get `Picked Over'” [Bloomberg]. “Buying a used business jet is getting harder — and that’s a sign of a long-awaited shift in the market for luxury planes. Only a dozen or so pre-owned Falcon 7X planes are on the market now, down from about 35 a year and a half ago.” • It might be a good thing if the 1% were forced to move round the world more slowly.

Class Warfare

“The Blindspot Revisited” [Verso]. • Continued polemic on Adolph Reed’s interventions on race and class.

“Theories of the Causes of Poverty” [David Brady, SocArxiv]. “Thirty years ago, in The Journal of Economic Literature, Sawhill (1988: 1085, 1113) decried the lack of theory in poverty research: ‘We are swamped with facts about people’s incomes and about the number and composition of people who inhabit the lower tail, but we don’t know very much about the process that generates these results…. From a more scientific perspective, we still understand very little about the basic causes of poverty… until more complete theories and models of the process by which income is generated and distributed are developed and tested, the answers to some of the questions raised in this article must remain partial and tentative.’ Thirty years later, poverty research continues to lack clear theory. There are few explicitly named ‘theories,’ and little explicit theoretical debate. If a theory of the causes of poverty is articulated, it is usually only compared against the null hypothesis of no effect. Studies rarely compare two or more theories against each other. Even more than other fields, poverty researchers often focus on descriptive or normative claims without explaining poverty’s causes (Desmond & Western 2018). It remains unclear if poverty is simply a subset of status attainment or if it can be explained by broader theories of the income distribution. Also inhibiting theoretical progress, poverty research is deeply fragmented.” • No recipe for success, oddly.

“Banishment of an acclaimed UC Irvine professor sparks debate over whether #MeToo can go too far” [Los Angeles Times]. • More issues of adjudication. “Believe women,” but if the women disagree?

“When Prisoners Say #MeToo” [Marshall Project]. From September, still germane.

“Police spies infiltrated UK leftwing groups for decades” [Guardian]. “The police spies infiltrated the Socialist Workers party (SWP) almost continuously between 1970 and 2007, often with more than one undercover officer embedded within the party. Four of them deceived women into sexual relationships while using their fake identities. One spy met one of his wives during his deployment and had a child with her.” • I dimly recall a study of police infiltration of U.S. left-wing groups. Sexist behavior was one technique they used to create division. Perhaps the saying “the first one to advocate violence is always the cop” needs an update.

“Armed protesters were on Portland rooftop in August, police now say” [Oregon Live]. “Members of the right-wing group Patriot Prayer stationed themselves on a downtown Portland rooftop with a cache of guns prior to a summer protest, city officials announced for the first time Monday – the same day Mayor Ted Wheeler learned about it, his aides said.” • Good to know, particularly in light of the above link. This is a recipe for an extremely ugly incident.

News of the Wired

“What Linguistics Can Tell Us about Talking to Aliens” (interview) [Scientific American]. “Do our bodies influence our cognition? [Sheri Wells-Jensen:] I can give you a bunch of minor examples—the word for ‘see’ also means ‘understand’ in some languages. Or we have words for ‘left’ and ‘right,’ ‘straight ahead’ and ‘back’—kind of in four directions, which is correlated with human body symmetry. But if we had three hands, would we have ‘left,’ ‘right’ and, uh, ‘the other hand’? • I know how Wells-Jensen feels…

‘The lost art of concentration: being distracted in a digital world” [Guardian]. “By adopting an always-on, anywhere, anytime, any place behaviour, we exist in a constant state of alertness that scans the world but never really gives our full attention to anything. In the short term, we adapt well to these demands, but in the long term the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol create a physiological hyper-alert state that is always scanning for stimuli, provoking a sense of addiction temporarily assuaged by checking in.” • And after the cortisol comes the dopamine?

“How Melvyn Bragg made high culture highly popular” [Economist]. “Melvyn Bragg has had no truck with cultural self-flagellation. Every Thursday for the past 20 years (holidays aside) he has presented a programme called “In Our Time” on BBC Radio 4 that consists of high-minded conversations with three academics. A new book demonstrates the extraordinary range of subjects he has covered. There are the classic high-cultural subjects, such as George Eliot’s “Middlemarch”, but also plenty on the best that is being thought by scientists and mathematicians as well. Lord Bragg is a working-class boy who made good thanks to the power of education. His parents were factory workers who saved enough money to buy a pub. Young Melvyn went to university only because his history teacher, a Mr James, pestered his parents to let him stay on in the sixth form.” • I love “In Our Time,” now a podcast. I can’t find the commenter who turned me on to it, but a hat tip to you, whoever you are.

Dog story. 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 (MG):

MG: Japanese dogwood from a family yard.

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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. nippersmom

    I have to give some credit where it is due to the Georgia Democratic Party. They were organizing voter registration groups every Thursday and Friday at the local Kroger up until registration closed, and have also had a concerted “get out the vote” campaign. They’ve even sent numerous mailers and done calls “highlighting” Republican Brian Kemp’s record. For all the concerns I have about the acceptance Stacey Abrams is getting from the Establishment (and it does concern me) she is running a well-organized, issues-driven campaign.

  2. Robert McGregor

    “Biden would eat Bloomberg’s lunch” . . . Bloomberg’s supporters are a narrow, technocratic, NYC bunch. He cannot appeal to the enough of the majority, because he is too Jewish, too NYC, too Wall Street. Remember this is the guy who says we should be thankful for all the rich people in NYC, because of the taxes they pay! He’s got his good points–he’s smart, and a good manager. But his arrogance and pretentiousness is something to behold. He’s the “real deal” as a billionaire, but this is not appealing to most people. He’s not a good enough con-man to connect with the masses like Trump can.

    1. Skip Intro

      Let’s hope all those questions about his spying data gathering and front-running skillful trading using his eponymous terminals don’t start circulating again…

      1. roxy

        “Remember this is the guy who says we should be thankful for all the rich people in NYC, because of the taxes they pay!”

        In an episode of the original “Law & Order” the detective played by the great Jerry Orbach was haughtily told by a rich upper east side suspect that “my taxes pay your salary!” To which he replied, “Yes madame, and thank you for these new shoes.”

    2. jen

      Fun fact: no mayor of NYC has ever gone on to hold higher office, precisely, IMO for the reason you articulated above – that the characteristics that worked for them as mayor really don’t work anywhere else.

      1. UpstateNYer

        In fairness, I think Giuliani would’ve won the senate seat back when that was being considered.

        But yes, NYC has a curious mix of massive security statism, incredible wealth gaps, crippling expenses, coastal arrogance, and faux prog virtue signaling. Sounds like the Dem platform tbqh – odd that nationally it’s unpopular ;-)

  3. Wukchumni

    “Fear Not, ETFs Control the Price of Gold” [Bloomberg]

    Funny thing about what is the USA, in that it was one of the few places in the world where the natives didn’t exhibit the usual tendencies of most everybody else on this orb (same with Australia & NZ) to adore all that glitters.

    The idea that the powers that be on Wall*Street moving the Au market from a pretty much strictly physical market (there were always futures markets) for the average joe, to what seems like a contest regarding a virtual bug climbing up and down an imaginary wall-with scant exposure to the real deal, is nothing short of brilliant.

    Meanwhile, China et al are buying up all the physical inventories…

      1. Wukchumni

        About the only Americans en masse holding, are the evangelicals, and it’s because gold & silver are mentioned in the bible and you know how fruity they are in that regard.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Bad sign for the EU. Not in the Euro, but hoarding gold sounds like they’re preparing for something drastic.

  4. Skip Intro

    I thought it was pretty clear that the main cause of poverty is poverty itself. It is an inherited condition, just like wealth. Someone send those poverty ‘researchers’ a link to Piketty.

    1. Ted

      Hmm, that’s funny, I thought the main causes of poverty was a crappy wage structure, few worker protections, and poor infrastructural investments. I stand corrected. Good thing Pikkety has come along to set the record straight after over 100 years of poverty research. We can all get back to identity politics then.

      1. Procopius

        Hmmm. Funny, but reading your list, I found myself thinking, “These are all ‘structural’ causes. Should the IMF, World Bank, etc. be calling for ‘structural reform’ of these things?”

  5. Plenue

    Re: police spies.

    I wonder how common it is for the infiltrators to be converted to the group. “Hey, these people aren’t traitors; they’re actually making sense.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      Would it be too cheeky to point out that being a police spy is exactly how a certain Austrian ex-corporal got his start into politics? One of the groups that he was ordered to attend was only a bunch of rat-bags but he saw potential and promise in it so quite his day-job to go full bore into politics. The rest, as they say, is history.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I read once that a lot of revolutionaries got jobs as police informants. They desperately needed the money to eat, put them into a position to feed false information to the police, pushed suspicion away from them and also gave them an insight of how the police carried out their work.

    2. JBird4049

      I dimly recall a study of police infiltration of U.S. left-wing groups.

      Look up Cointelpro and also the Palmer Raids. Just to start. The Federal, State, and municipal governments sometimes together with private interests have had campaigns of spying on, black mailing, bribing, creating conflict, inciting and inflicting violence, and assassinations. A long rich history. Abolitionists, union organizers, suffragettes, family planning advocates, Socialists, Communists, civil right campaigns especially for Blacks and Native Americans, prison and police reformers, social reformers of any kind especially if Big Money felt threatened. This also includes many religious organizations as they often pushed for reforms like civil rights and being anti-war.

      The Ku Klux Klan, the John Birch Society, armed rightwing (as opposed to the armed leftist) militia groups, the Mafia until the mid 1960s, not really. The more conservative a group is, the less attention is paid to them. That’s a constant.

  6. SKG

    There are only about 12,000 business jets in the US

    Given 100M households, and 1M households in the top 1%, a business jet is a 0.1% or a 0.01% luxury, even counting the ones that are in use for mostly legitimate business purposes.

    And the 0.1% and the 0.01% are the ones who have benefited most from tax cuts, etc. which would push the business jet market.

  7. FreeMarketApologist

    Re: “How Melvyn Bragg made high culture highly popular

    In Our Time is an excellent podcast. I’ve been listening for a couple of years (slowly catching up). Smart people talking smartly about interesting things. Highly recommended.

    1. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      In Our Time: not just high culture…

      If you are going to listen, it is well worth continuing with the extra minutes* at the end.

      Another, shorter, BBC Radio Four podcast I always download is “Point of View”.


  8. Carolinian

    I can’t find the commenter who turned me on to it

    It may have been me. I’ve been listening to “Melvin and his guests” for years and mentioned this excellent podcast in a comment.

    I’m looking forward to Thursday’s download which is the second part of a discussion of the topic: Is Shakespeare History–this time the Roman plays.


    1. voteforno6

      Hmm, if that actually happened, I might have to jump into options trading on that one. You could make a killing on the put options.

      1. Duck1

        But but but according to teh goog, Alilaba is the biggest IPO so far, just shy 22 billion. Somebody wearin’ a darned fancy ass hat.

  9. Wukchumni

    I’m at a McDonalds in Visalia, and presented a $5 banknote to the cashier, who gave it the once over, and that was my moment to pounce…

    I asked her how often she gets altered or counterfeit banknotes, and her response was-every day.

    She also volunteered that if she took bogus notes when she was cashiering, was grounds for dismissal.

    How are the other reporters on here doing out there?, please ask a similar question when they put the pen to the banknote you are presenting to a retail cashier.

      1. Wukchumni

        To give you an idea, the Mickey D’s cashier put dollar bills to the pen with other customers, as I was waiting for my ice cream cone.

        1. ChristopherJ

          You have lost it, Wuk, when you no longer have trust in the nation’s bank notes.
          You could extend that decline into the trust in a nation’s currency, no?

          I take it they were dollar notes??

          Our $5 notes have just had their last makeover. Coin soon, just like the $1 and $2 before it. 5c are still legal, but I’m sure they’re gonna be consigned to the dust bin soon too.

          Australia’s latest polymer bank notes have multiple features, including holograms, see through windows, plus a number of images that appear and disappear as you move the note through light.

          The $50 note, or the pineapple as some of us affectionately call it was top dog until the $100 was introduced in the 80s (about the time that casinos took off in Australia). It’s had several makeovers, but the latest do should make it near impossible to forge.


          Haven’t seen a paper note for years here. Long live the pineapple!

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > the Mickey D’s cashier put dollar bills to the pen

          “How do I determine if a banknote is genuine? What should I do if I think I have a counterfeit note?”
          [Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System]:

          The best way to determine whether a note is genuine is to rely on the security features, such as the watermark and security thread. Counterfeit detection pens are not always accurate and may give you false results. To learn about these and other security features in genuine Federal Reserve notes, visit the U.S. Currency Education Program website.

          It is important to know what the security features are in genuine currency, because if you end up with a counterfeit note, you will lose that money. A counterfeit note cannot be exchanged for a genuine one, and it is illegal to knowingly pass counterfeit currency.

          So, McDonald’s would rather do security theatre with a pen than train its cashiers to see and understand the real fraud prevention features embedded in the bills themselves. Yeah, I guess we do need to get rid of physical cash, joke, ha ha.

          1. ChristopherJ

            Ah, the ‘pen’. Was thinking ballpoint…

            Thanks LS. But still, having money where cashiers need to spend more than ten seconds how much they have and whether its the real deal???

            tks for comment

            When’s the Cairns Meetup?

          2. Wukchumni

            These counterfeits that are very prevalent typically use the wrong paper, but if you were to bleach out a dollar banknote and copy a $20 onto it, the work of art would pass the pen test.

            It’s a story with legs, and yet no ever talks about how common bogus money is in this age of easy duplication.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Or was that in itself, dun, dun, dun, a canned answer?

      That idea is probably pretty far out there though, if I think about it. My supermarket has conditioned the cashiers to ask if you found everything that you were looking for. They are obviously not given any instructions on how to respond to ‘no’. Low dimensional Machiavellis.

    2. JBird4049

      Some counterfeit bills are not that easy to spot and if you spend the time checking those bills during lunch hours that’s probably also grounds for dismissal.

  10. Indrid Cold

    I would say, regarding Taibbi’s article and dire warnings of impending doom: The financial issues are baked in the structural cake. Brexit is just more obviously a train wreck. Even the people who crusaded for it can’t seem to articulate just what sort o tarrif/travel regime was supposed to take its place.

  11. BoyDownTheLane

    Both CNN and NBC reported this morning (circa 5 hours ago) that Trump had amassed a campaign war chest of over $100 million. Given the disastrous DNC performance over Kavanaugh, the laughable kerfuffle over Warren’s status as a woman of color in the midst of identity politics, and Biden’s penchant for being touchy-feely creepy around women, it’s no wonder so many are promoting incivility, violence and assassination as the answer to their own political incompetence.

  12. Left in Wisconsin

    “Theories of the Causes of Poverty” [David Brady, SocArxiv].

    I thought this was a good paper. And it’s not too jargon-heavy so it is readable by an ordinary literate person. My one complaint is that the core argument is couched in academic nice-ness, so perhaps the central claims aren’t immediately obvious.

    He argues that there are three approaches to studying poverty – behavioral, structural, political – and that all have weaknesses and blindspots. This is in line with a positive recent trend in social science, which is trying to take causality seriously. He tears apart the behavioral arguments (the poor are poor because they do things that make them poor) because a) they do not show which is cause and which is effect and b) they are not supported by cross-national research (e.g. in generous welfare states, single parenthood is not associated with poverty). But he is also critical of the other two approaches for being not very rigorous.

    I view the lack of (poverty) policy prescription in the paper as a good thing. Way too much work in social science ends with a policy section that is unsupported by the evidence and nakedly political (not in a good way) while refusing to admit such.

  13. DonCoyote

    Wells-Jensen needs to read more SF, or at least allow that other people have thought about this before her:

    Moties (from Wikipedia): Moties are described as bipeds, about 1.3 meters tall, covered with fur whose color depends on the subspecies. Their most obvious feature is the asymmetric arrangement of arms, with two dexterous right arms and one heavily muscled left arm whose musculature attaches to the head, so that Moties have no left ear to match the large, membrane-like right ear. The backbone is jointed rather than flexible and the entire upper body swivels to turn the head. The face is simple and incapable of expression. Gestures replace facial expression.

    One hand, other hand, Gripping Hand (they named the US sequel after it; UK got a different title).

    In the progression that starts “On the one hand…” and continues “On the other hand…” mainstream English may add “on the third hand…” even though most people don’t have three hands. Among hackers, it is just as likely to be “on the gripping hand”. This metaphor supplied the title of Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle’s 1993 SF novel “The Gripping Hand” which involved a species of hostile aliens with three arms (the same species, in fact, referenced in juggling eggs).

    And many other (Carl Sagan and other said it would be mathematics; Ted Chiang (In Story of Your Life, made into the movie Arrival) had heptapodal (seven limbed) aliens with divergent spoken and written language (semasiographic, if you want a fancy word) and a linguist as a narrator and protagonist:

    The idea of thinking in a linguistic yet non-phonological mode always intrigued
    me. I had a friend born of deaf parents; he grew up using American Sign Language,
    and he told me that he often thought in ASL instead of English. I used to wonder
    what it was like to have one’s thoughts be manually coded, to reason using an inner pair
    of hands instead of an inner voice. With Heptapod B, I was experiencing something
    just as foreign: my thoughts were becoming graphically coded. There were trance-like
    moments during the day when my thoughts weren’t expressed with my internal voice;
    instead, I saw semagrams with my mind’s eye, sprouting like frost on a windowpane.

    A lovely image…

    1. knowbuddhau

      Beautiful and evocative, thanks. That’s kinda my default mode. You don’t have to narrate every single second of your life, you know. Just let it be.

    2. Jeff W

      Ted Chiang’s anarthrously-titled, brilliantly philosophical novella, “Story of Your Life,” is one of my all-time favorite works of literature—and I’m not a big fan of science fiction. I highly recommend it.

      1. BoyDownTheLane

        I concur. It was made into the movie “Arrival”. I saw the movie, then read the book of short stories by Chiang, then bought the movie. Both are stupendously good.

  14. dcblogger

    The Democrats are going to retake the House and the conversation will change. First of all Pelosi will have to fight to keep her speakership, I assume that she will win because the challenges are coming from the right.

    Election night will be a repeat of Virginia 2017, as in lots of surprises when candidates who had no chance to win actually win. Members of congress will come in who owe zero to Pelosi, the DCCC, or the donor class, that will change things. There is even a remote chance that we could be getting one or two Green candidates from California, and that will really change things, because suddenly people will realize that Greens CAN be a governing party, which shake up 2020 quite a bit, at least at the House level.

    There is a remote possibility that Esby and Beto could win their races while Manchin and Bredesen could lose their races which would be as funny as dammit.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      I’m gonna go on the record here saying the Demos will not take the house. So Cal will vote Republican reps as it always does.

    2. cocomaan

      It’s an uphill battle to change the Democrats.

      All signs point to a 2020 Hillary run. The Clintons still control the party. Obama has faded into obscurity, probably because of the Spygate accusations.

      Prepare yourselves for 2016 v2.

      1. Carey

        I would say it’s an *impossible* battle to change the Democrats.

        HRC 2020: giving us a third (and final?) chance to Get it Right.

        oh dear

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe also because Obama has applied himself to making those big tubmans? And not spending very much time or energy on politics anymore?

        He’ll probably have a happier old age than she will. He will be counting his money while she will be toothgrinding about the coronation which never quite happened for her.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The Democrats are going to retake the House and the conversation will change. First of all Pelosi will have to fight to keep her speakership, I assume that she will win because the challenges are coming from the right.

      I’m fine with the Democrats taking the House because, in the absence of a party that wants to convey universal concrete material benefits to voters, gridlock is our friend. That said, the article said Pelosi won’t be challenged (mostly, because like Marcie Frost, she handed out jobs to potential opponents). And I think it’s useless to expect these Democrats to do anything meaningful on policy; Pelosi has signaled that she’ll, er, resist that. More left candidates will win seats, but my guess is that they’ll be overwhelmed by MILOs and pink pussy-hated Clintonites. The most we will be able to expect from the left is that they will help immobilize the Democrats by chewing on their vitals from the inside. That’s a good thing, because immobilizing liberals is better than being assaulted by them, as under Obama. Now, if Sanders 2020 were combined with a workplace revolt, we’d be cooking with gas. But this is the political equivalent of market timing.

    1. Big Tap

      This poll is fishy indeed. You’re telling me in the identity politics Democratic party the leader of the poll is the white male? Biden must be up due to name recognition and people ‘know’ Sanders (thanks Hillary) isn’t really a Democrat. Sanders has been trashed by her and it’s having an effect.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I don’t know how unique American political parties are, where one simply declares one to be a member, whereas, say in some other countries, at various times, you have to study, be recommended and then accepted.

      With that in mind, practically speaking, what is the difference between all the independents registering as Democrats in order to take over the D party, and registering as Republicans in order to take over the R party?

      Is the latter much harder?

      1. flora

        imo, much easier to require all parties to have open primaries. Then independents could vote in primaries for the candidate of any party who most appeals to them,(but can only vote in one party’s primary, no double voting).

        Political parties (both R and D and others) in most states used to have open primaries. That was before neoliberalism increased its hold on the system; afterward the R’s went bat-sh** and the D’s became useless. Open primaries would immensely improve the quality of candidates and their interest in representing the average voter’s interests. My opinion.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


          Given the existing situation, Sanders tried to take over the D party. Is it easier than to take over the R party, going forward?

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              The R party had a genuine legitimate small-d-democratic primary process. The D part had the opposite.

              The R party process was designed to let the most effective campaigner win. The D party process was pre-engineered to coronate Clinton as the nominee.

    2. Synoia

      I am not a great fan of being rude or disrupting activities

      I am, when good policies have been ignored (Medicare for All), etc. I wonder what the Good Bernie believe a “strike” is? Only a baseball term?

      1. Jeff W

        With bad policy as to health care, student loans, home foreclosures, financial crises, in fact nearly everywhere, and four decades of rising inequality leading to the “economics of despair” and the deaths of countless Americans—and everyday people having nearly no influence in affecting that policy—at least we’re just talking about rudeness and “disruption” and not, y’know, guillotines.

  15. Craig H.

    Re: Morgan Knutson

    Is it not standard in the tech industry that it is unanimously and unambiguously considered unprofessional to bad mouth your former employer?

    If I worked for Chainsaw Al (thanks be to the Big Model Railroader up in the Sky this did not happen) even, I would not say boo about the man on twitter. I would say generational change maybe, but Knutson’s little icon does not look like he is any spring chicken.

  16. Stanley Dundee

    Theories of the Causes of Poverty

    Well, there’s the Pelagians, from around 400 AD, writing in the marvellous essay On Riches:

    Get rid of the rich man, and you will not be able to find a poor one. Let no man have more than he really needs, and everyone will have as much as they need, since the few who are rich are the reason for the many who are poor. (p. 194)

    Modernity doesn’t seem to have improved much upon that.
    PS: donated just now using my real world identity. Many, many thanks to all the Naked Capitalism staff and commenters! Best of the internet.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Four hundred years or so before, there was that puzzling statement: “The poor you will always have with you.”

      Does one read it esoterically somehow?

    2. knowbuddhau

      Pelagius is a personal hero of mine, astounded to see Pelagians mentioned. You’ve made my day.

      That’s right, they enrich themselves by impoverishing us. They’re rich *because we’re poor. Not “and.” If no one had the disgraceful arrogance, the shameful hubris, to think that they deserve to live like royalty by impoverishing the vast majority, our work here would be done, and we could go out and play like dignified human beings.

      Not holding my breath.

    3. Steve H.

      Gloucester: So distribution should undo excess,
      And each man have enough.

      : The Historie of King Lear

  17. pretzelattack

    the comments to the cherokee nation link are pretty good, seems to be pushback against the nation taking a stance on this.

    1. cocomaan

      Gotta love white Twitterati lecturing the survivors of native genocide on how a woman who claimed she was a descendant of the murdered race in question needs defending.




      You can’t make this crap up.

      This is the state of academia and it’s absolutely shameful.

      Also ironic that this is going on at the same time that Harvard is being sued by Asians for discrimination.

      1. pretzelattack

        i suspect a bunch of the white twitterati are also claiming that warren is applying for tribal status. did she do that? i’m not a warren supporter, she’s a dino as far as i’m concerned, but i don’t see that she claimed to be a member of the tribe, or that she benefited in her career from this. as one poster mentioned, trump is far more offensive. and you can’t always tell if somebody has a
        native american great grandfather by looking at them; did the poster identify themselves as caucasian?

  18. sleepy

    When Iowa redistricted my resolutely dem county a few years back, I ended up in King’s IA-4. J. D. Scholten certainly has my vote. The Winnebago pictured in the article was parked on my block over the weekend and Scholten was out banging on doors. Lots of yard signs up locally. Didn’t meet him but he’s putting in the work. I particularly like his position on structural problems in agriculture.

    King never responded to my one email from me, a constituent, when I asked him to oppose any efforts to attack Syria in 2013. Not that I would have supported him if he had, but I didn’t appreciate the brush off.

  19. GERMO

    Patriot Prayer stationed themselves on a downtown Portland rooftop with a cache of guns prior to a summer protest, city officials announced for the first time Monday – the same day Mayor Ted Wheeler learned about it,

    I mean, what’s the mayor going to say, ‘yeah I knew all along they’d been up there with guns but I didn’t want to tell you all’ ? I think not.
    In Portland he’s also the police commissioner so, I don’t know, this all is not entirely credible.

  20. Wukchumni

    On the centenary of the end of First World War, Academy Award-winner Peter Jackson presents the World Premiere of an extraordinary new work showing the Great War as you have never seen it.

    Peter Jackson’s World War I film has been met with five star reviews after premiering in London today.

    They Shall Not Grow Old sees Jackson, who is both producer and director, transform 100-year-old footage from World War I into colour.

    The three-time Oscar-winning film-maker has taken 100-year-old footage from London’s Imperial War Museum archives and carefully re-mastered it for the first time to mark the centenary of the conflict between 1914 and 1918.


    1. fresno dan

      October 16, 2018 at 7:47 pm

      What is the point of even claiming to be Native American in America? If I said I had Finnish heritage, would even one NC commentator give a rat’s behind? Dutch? Belgian? Norwegian? Liechtensteiner? Paraguayo?

      1. Yves Smith

        Ahem. Did you miss that Native Americans were rounded up and put on reservations, which if you have ever been to one, are typically on terrible land, to make space for your Finnish ancestors to get free land? And that Native American now suffer from high levels of poverty and alcoholism compared to white Europeans?

        1. fresno dan

          Yves Smith
          October 17, 2018 at 2:24 am

          I am talking about Warren – it is obvious that she was using her Indian ancestry as political grandstanding.

          Lambert Strether
          October 17, 2018 at 4:48 am

      2. JacobiteInTraining

        “…If I said I had Finnish heritage, would even one NC commentator give a rat’s behind?…”

        Why yes,yes one would. I would then immediately interrogate you on the proper pronunciation of the word ‘sauna’. :)

  21. Oregoncharles

    “A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship…”
    IIRC, Warren didn’t claim “citizenship,” but only ancestry, and DNA is relevant to that.

    A lot of Americans claim Native ancestry; some even look it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Warren seems to have butchered this badly (some might not be unhappy about that, because it clears the field for Sanders).

      1) The DNA test is a terrible approach. As the Cherokees say, DNA can say nothing about whether you’re part of a tribe or not, so methodologically it’s just wrong. Worse, Warren is in essence saying heritage is a matter of blood. That way of thinking has a very bad history, and I’m very surprised to see a liberal making it. And as the Cherokees say, tribal membership is civic, not by blood.

      2) The DNA test rollout has a positively Clintonite level of tin-eared-ness. Who organized it, Robbie Mook? Check this out from Dana Milbank:

      Among the many unfortunate results of Warren’s recent DNA test suggesting she’s somewhere between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American by ethnicity: It inevitably draws attention to her contribution to the ’80s cookbook, “Pow Wow Chow: A Collection of Recipes from Families of the Five Civilized Tribes.” Under “Elizabeth Warren, Cherokee,” it lists five recipes, three of which were apparently cribbed from the New York Times and Better Homes and Gardens.

      Worse, one of the recipes she submitted: “Crab with Tomato Mayonnaise Dressing.” A traditional Cherokee dish with mayonnaise, a 19th-century condiment imported by settlers? A crab dish from landlocked Oklahoma? This can mean only one thing: canned crab.

      Holy moley. Mayonaise? And “Pow Wow Chow” should have been cringe-worthy, even in the 80s. In terms of the rollout, however, Milbank clearly was not primed.

      3) I realize the Warren has a difficult road to walk, here, because “heritage” is a fuzzy term. She’s got to balance the family stories with the box she checked at Harvard with today’s sensibilities, and all under assault by political enemies. But I don’t see how the DNA test did anything but exacerbate the difficulties.

      4) Of course, if Warren had wanted to, she could have been way out front on DAPL, both winning over the tribes, who have national interests at stake, and getting in front of global warming as an issue. But she didn’t. So to all of the problems above, I’d add that I think her instincts are bad. We might contrast the way she and Sanders supported Clinton in 2016: Sanders didn’t deviate from his usual talking points, but repurposed them. Warren, on the other hand, adopted all the Clinton tropes (which ended up doing very badly, as we know). Being a good scholar, or a good legislator, or an effective department head is not the same as running for President. Unfair, but there it is.

      NOTE I should add that I don’t mind Warren’s persona at all; I like the way she asks questions. Others may find her tone grating, but if she eviscerates a banker with it, I think most people will be on board. But YouTube clips are not enough; the banker would have to suffer real world consequences.

  22. Wukchumni

    Say a century ago…

    It was a thing to be ashamed of, having Indian blood or worse yet, having lived with them, the horror!

    An excellent book by local historian Frank Latta: “Tailholt Tales”, tells the story of “Uncle Jeff”, who lived with the Indians into adulthood, and was coaxed into telling his story to Latta shortly before he passed away.

    Thomas Jefferson Mayfield (1843–1928) led a remarkable double life in the early decades of California statehood, living his boyhood as an adopted member of the Choinumni (Choinumne) branch of the Yokuts tribe in the San Joaquin Valley, then rejoining the dominant Anglo-American community throughout his long adulthood.

    Thomas Jefferson Mayfield was born in 1843, in Brazos County, Texas, the youngest of the three sons of William Mayfield and his first wife, Terissa Faller, of Hardeman County, Tennessee. By 1848, his mother had died and his father was remarried, to Maria or Mary Ann Curd. When he was six, his family came to California by voyage round Cape Horn because violence between Texas settlers and Apaches made the San Antonio-El Paso Road land route too dangerous. From San Francisco, they made their way by horse and mule pack south through San Jose and over the Pacheco Pass into the Central Valley. Maria Curd Mayfield died shortly after December 1850. William Mayfield went to herd cattle with Jeff’s two older brothers and left young Jeff, as he was known, with local Choinumni, Kings River Yokuts Indians who had befriended the family. For the following decade, Jeff, lived in a village across from his families home at the mouth of Sycamore Creek, on Kings River (now under Pine Flat Lake). He had almost no contact with whites and fully assimilated to their native language and culture. Around the age of eighteen, Mayfield rejoined his family and after 1862 surrendered any sustained ties to the Choinumni.


  23. RMO

    RE: The Taibbi piece – this in particular:

    “Trump agrees. He’s ripping the Fed for raising interest rates, as in, why do we have to come back to Earth now?
    “I don’t want to slow it down even a little bit, especially when we don’t have the problem of inflation,” Trump said last week.””

    I’ve been unable to read Paul Krugman much since the “clarifying” year of 2016 so if anyone has been doing so recently – has he reacted to the current Commode In Chief sharing his opinions about interest rates, spending and debt in a still poor economy with low official inflation? Has he ignored it or has his beard blown off?

    1. fresno dan

      October 16, 2018 at 11:04 pm

      The politicians Trump has goaded have tried to keep an air of decorum – even though it is now apparent that it gives no advantage, at least with the republican base. Astounding to me what somewhat like Cruz, not one to be demure, would put up with.
      What if Stormy decides to discuss …..um, er, …. things …..that have never been discussed before?
      Could Trump find himself in a position (heh, heh) of not being able to be too explicit about certain attributes?
      You reap what you sow

      1. JCC

        It couldn’t happen to a nicer guy :)

        The “Bring it on, Tiny” challenge was perfect. He’ll have a tough time resisting that. With luck, she’ll continue to give better than she got.

        It’s a helluva thing that American politics have been reduced to a game of street-level “cousins” on twitter, but he has asked for it repeatedly and deserves a solid and embarrassing loss. I hope he rises to the bait and ends up on a well-barbed hook.

  24. John Zelnicker

    Lambert – “I have a personal name, a family name, and two (2) middle names.”

    My adopted daughter also has 2 middle names as her mother, whom I married, didn’t want to give up the middle name her daughter already had, or her own last name.

    Interestingly, the Alabama Dept. of Motor Vehicles insists on using all 4 names on her driver license since they are on her adoption papers. I have no idea how their IT system handles this. It’s the only place I have seen that uses all of her names.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      Can’t speak to 2 middles…but unusual names run in my family.
      “Josef” is me, and I remember the registrar for 3rd grade insisting to my angry mom that we were spelling it wrong.
      And officialdom has difficulties, too…depending on jurisdiction/agency/etc, I am variously “joseph”,”Jose f.”,”Josie f.”,””Josiah”,etc.
      this has been happening all my life, soAI can’t be to blame….data entry people, all the way down to the cop scribbling on the ticket, are unconscious editors.
      My boys’ middle names are mountain and Ulysses, and I look forward to hearing about similar state provided aliases.( could be worse, I wanted to name our eldest D’Artagnian)

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