2:00PM Water Cooler 10/17/2018

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, this is a pantry clearout of political material, so I’m short on business news. I’ll add some in a bit. –lambert UPDATE 2:40PM All done. Be sure to read the story on the suit against Facebook for fraud. It’s grotesque, even by Silicon Valley standards.


“How Trump’s trade war is driving China nuts” [Politico]. “Xi reverting to the stimulus-at-all-costs playbook that got China into financial hot water is a worrisome bookend for the Deng revolution. Xi is ensuring that when China’s debt-excess reckoning comes, what economists call a “Minsky moment,” it will be bigger, more spectacular and more globally impactful. If you thought the “Lehman shock” of 2008 was scary, wait until the No. 2 economy with $14 trillion of annual output goes off the rails. Beijing is well aware of its plight — and the air of panic and paranoia is manifesting itself in bizarre ways.” • As readers know, I want to know what’s happening on the factory floor and in the villages. And I can’t find out!

“U.S. Announces Trade Talks With Allies Amid China Dispute” [Council on Foreign Relations]. “U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer notified Congress that the Trump administration seeks to open talks with Japan, the European Union, and the United Kingdom to “address both tariff and non-tariff barriers to achieve fairer, more balanced trade” (WaPo). The move appears to be part of a new phase in U.S. trade policy as the administration resolves disputes with allies while continuing a trade war with China (FT). Lighthizer said trade talks with Japan and the European Union could begin in three months. That would follow a mandatory ninety-day congressional review period. Negotiations with the United Kingdom could begin once it formally exits the European Union in March 2019 (Bloomberg).”



“The Trump Rally: A Play in Three Acts” [New York Times]. “Seats fill up quickly. Many of the president’s supporters are carrying the free tickets they printed out online, but not everyone will get in: Rallies are often advertised and then overbooked by the campaign to ensure that no seat goes unfilled — and that the president can marvel at the overflow crowd outside.” • This is excellent advance work.

“Trump’s approval rating is in the dumps, even though the economy is soaring. One reason is Trump himself” [Los Angeles Times]. “The disconnect between economic performance and political fallout is not wholly new. Strong growth, which hit a muscular 5.2% in the third quarter of 2014, was not enough to stave off electoral disaster for President Obama in that year’s midterm election, when Democrats lost the Senate. Perhaps because then, as now, not everyone shared equally in the prosperity. The tax cuts that Trump signed into law have been like rocket fuel for corporate profits and Wall Street investors. But Americans of lesser means have enjoyed considerably more modest benefits, which, by some calculations, have been largely offset by inflation, increased healthcare costs and higher gas prices.”

Dogs playing poker:

Hung in the White House, amazingly enough.

“2020 Democrats building ties to power brokers in key states” [Associated Press]. “Before he cut the $100,000 checks, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti brought the Democratic Party chairmen from Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada backstage to meet late night television host Jimmy Kimmel and superstar hip-hop producer DJ Khaled. Garcetti may not be the best-known 2020 presidential prospect, but he will not be forgotten by those who lead Democratic politics in the states most responsible for picking the party’s next presidential nominee.” • Democrats are more like they are now than they ever were before.

“U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris plans to stump in Iowa; is it a precursor to a presidential run?” [Des Moines Register]. “The former California attorney general, who has made endorsements and fundraising appeals on behalf of Iowa Democratic candidates this year, will speak [on October 24] at a public event organized by Polk County Democrats. She endorsed Iowa secretary of state candidate Deidre DeJear over the summer, sent out an emails on behalf of auditor candidate Rob Sand and secretary of agriculture Tim Gannon in October.”

“Elizabeth Warren Falls for Trump’s Trap—and Promotes Insidious Ideas About Race and DNA” [Masha Gessen, The New Yorker]. On Warren’s rollout video: “The senator’s video is carefully worded. Warren says that she is laying no claim to citizenship in a tribe. She frames her understanding of her ancestry in terms of experience, though this experience seems fairly well removed: the defining event in Warren’s family was her father’s family’s disapproval of his marriage to her future mother; Warren says that it was the Native American heritage that made her father’s family suspicious. Talking heads from the universities where Warren was employed assure the audience that she has never used her heritage to advance professionally. Visually and dramatically, though, the video suggests a different framing. We see Warren’s three brothers, who appear darker than she is. It seems that we might be seeing them not only because they are Republicans, as they say, but also because they look more like what we imagine Native Americans should look like. A female cousin is identified as a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. And the centerpiece of the clip is the DNA-test reveal: the professor confirms that the senator has Native American blood.” More: “Warren ended up providing one of the clearest examples yet of how Trumpian rhetoric shifts the political conversation. The woman who is hoping to become the most progressive Democratic nominee in generations is not merely letting herself get jerked around by a Trumpian taunt. She is also reinforcing one of the most insidious ways in which Americans talk about race: as though it were a measurable biological category, one that, in some cases, can be determined by a single drop of blood.” • The bottom line for me, “citizenship” vs “heritage” semantics aside, is that you’re not a Cherokee until the Cherokee nation says you are, which is the Cherokee nation’s position. I agree that it’s insane that oppo originally pushed by IIRC Howie Carr — Boston’s Minor League Rush Limbaugh — is still in circulation today, doing harm, but that’s where we are. As Gessen concludes: “Warren, meanwhile, has allowed herself to be dragged into a conversation based on an outdated, harmful concept of racial blood—one that promotes the pernicious idea of biological differences among people—and she has pulled her supporters right along with her.” • Not the best look for a Presidential candidate, especially a liberal Democrat, and if the work product is any indication, a Clintonian level of campaign dysfunction.

He’s running:


19 days until Election Day. 19 days is a long time in politics. And remember that October is the month of surprises!

“Men have done it since the founding fathers. Now female vets are hoping to parlay military service into politics” [Los Angeles Times]. “The nine candidates have the potential to more than double the number of female combat veterans on Capitol Hill, the first two of whom were elected only six years ago. And while six of the nine candidates are Democrats, their success or failure could serve as a trial run for both parties in future election cycles…. Three of the candidates are Republicans…. Six of the veterans are first-time Democratic candidates pursing House seats — half of them are poised to win their races or are keeping the polls tight a few weeks ahead of election day. The six women are reshaping what has traditionally been an area of strength for the GOP: military service.” • If they want the rest of us to have medical care provided free at the point of delivery by a national health service, as they did when in the military, great. Otherwise, why do I care? I mean, at least John Kerry, when young, threw his Vietnam medals away, and rightly. Have any of these women done the same? No sign of anything like that with these candidates.

They get mail:

Senate: “The Democrats’ hopes of retaking the Senate are dying” [The New Republic]. “North Dakota Democrat Heidi Heitkamp’s vote against Brett Kavanaugh may have been a recognition that her seat is already lost: Republican polling shows her losing by double-digits, while public polls show her losing by a slightly smaller margin. Democrat Phil Bredeson, who is challenging Republican Martha Blackburn in Tennessee, also is trailing by as many as eight points. He’s had a roller-coaster week. While an endorsement from Taylor Swift may bolster his chances, his stated support for Kavanaugh has upset the party’s base and caused campaign volunteers to quit. Missouri’s Claire McCaskill is struggling to hold onto her seat, while in Texas, it’s becoming clear that Congressman Beto O’Rourke is even more of a long shot than initially thought. A poll released on Wednesday shows him trailing Senator Ted Cruz by nine points. Even the bright spots aren’t particularly bright. Joe Manchin, the only Democrat to vote to confirm Kavanaugh, is likely to hold onto his West Virginia seat, though a recent internal GOP poll did show a tightening race.”

House: “Democrats dominate Republicans in third-quarter fundraising and spending in tossup House races” [USA Today]. “In the 30 House races that experts consider tossups in the midterm election, Democrats outraised their Republican opponents in every one in the third quarter, often by wide margins. In several cases, the Democratic candidate’s fundraising in the three months from July 1 to Sept. 30 was two times or more what the GOP candidate raised, including 21 in which the Republican is an incumbent.”• Hoo boy.

House: “POLITICO Playbook: Will the House be decided on Election Day?” [Politico]. “members of both parties are becoming more and more concerned that control of the House will not be decided for a few weeks after the election, as recounts in key states like California drag on. If that’s the case, that could not only complicate plans for both parties to organize their internal leadership teams but also throw a wrench in legislative items like keeping the government open and funded.” • This could get very ugly very fast.

AZ Senate: “Kyrsten Sinema’s anti-war activist past under scrutiny as she runs for Senate” [CNN]. “the Democratic congresswoman also has an extensive past as a progressive activist. Her events and associations in opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and her early years as a Democratic lawmaker in Arizona — frequently brought her into contact with the left-wing fringe, a [CNN] KFile review finds…. As Sinema has made the jump to national politics, she has said that her views on the use of military force have shifted. In 2012, she told The Hill newspaper her views had evolved over the years. Sinema said she now favors aggressive diplomacy with military intervention as a last resort. She said she would have still opposed the war in Iraq, but supported the war in Afghanistan. Since joining Congress, Sinema has become consistently more hawkish. She voted against approving the Iran deal and, this past April, backed President Donald Trump’s decision to strike Syria. In 2015, she voted with Republicans to stop admitting Syrian and Iraqi refugees until the vetting process was strengthened.” • Interestingly, none of the organizaitons on the “left wing fringe” are identified. And today she supports the war in Afghanistan? Wow.

GA Governor: “White women voters are sticking — not just with Kemp, but Trump, too” [Political Insider]. “With a little more than three weeks to go, [Stacy Abrams] still runs neck-and-neck with Republican Brian Kemp in her bid to become the first black woman to become chief executive of a U.S. state. A surge of black and younger voters could, in fact, put her over the top on Nov. 6…. Despite a viral #MeToo movement that’s now a year old, despite last month’s gender-splitting U.S. Senate hearing on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, white female voters in Georgia are sticking with the Republican party.”

TX Senate: “Beto O’Rourke Fundraising Triples Ted Cruz’s In Texas Senate Race” [HuffPo]. “Rep. Beto O’Rourke, the Democrat challenging Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in next month’s Texas Senate election, raised $38.1 million for his campaign in the third quarter ― triple what Cruz’s team collected…. O’Rourke’s campaign said its fundraising for the three months that ended Sept. 30 was a record for a Senate race. The contributions came from 802,836 individuals, the majority from Texas, the campaign said in a statement.”

2016 Post Mortem

Why the 10% thinks everything’s jake with the angels:

“Democracy Lost: A Report on the Fatally Flawed 2016 Democratic Primaries” (PDF) [Election Justice]. “Election Justice USA has collected evidence indicating that multiple instances of voter suppression and election fraud have occurred throughout the 2016 presidential primaries. Democratic and Republican candidates have been affected, but demographics favoring Senator Bernie Sanders (e.g., younger voters, independent/unaffiliated voters) have been most heavily affected. This evidence falls into four categories: 1) voter suppression; 2) voter registration tampering (switching of a voter’s party affiliation without their knowledge or consent); 3) illegal voter registration purges; 4) evidence for erroneous or fraudulent voting machine counts. We have also discovered a number of credible reports of miscellaneous kinds of election fraud or potential election fraud that are particularly relevant to caucus states.” • I know we’ve linked to this 2016 report in the past, but if you think of voting systems as possessing phishing equilibria, it’s quite clear why neither party wants hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public.

Please Kill Me Now

“A Former Obama Operative Built a New Anti-Republican Attack Machine” [Bloomberg]. “Tanya, Genevieve, and Vadim have never met and probably never will. But they have two things in common: They’re members of the so-called Resistance, working to oust Republicans. And they’re being directed by a former J.P. Morgan banker named John Burton, who’s become a field general of sorts in the liberal opposition—and soon, he hopes, the cause of consternation and, ultimately, unemployment for dozens of Republican lawmakers in races from Maine to California… Burton’s project, dubbed Citizen Strong, has operated by stealth, waiting until just now to publicly declare its existence as a 501(c)4 “dark money” group with three affiliated political action committees..” • Nice to have the #Resistance cleared up….

“Hillary Clinton is coming to Miami to raise cash for Donna Shalala” [Miami Herald]. “Donna Shalala’s campaign announced Thursday that the former Secretary of State and presidential candidate will host a luncheon fundraiser for Shalala on October 24, though the time and location is to be determined. Shalala and Clinton are close. The former University of Miami president served as Bill Clinton’s Health and Human Services Secretary and led the Clinton Foundation from 2015-2017.” • Just what the party needs. Fresh blood.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Registration is a voter-suppression tool. Let’s finally end it.” [WaPo]. “The burden should be on the government — not individuals — to ensure the right to vote. And this wouldn’t be too difficult: Our government already records every American in various ways. Why can’t voting be automatic with Selective Service registration and expanded to include women? Or with a Social Security number? In other democracies such as Canada, Sweden and Argentina, governments automatically compile rolls using information from other federal agencies. These efforts can serve as a model for the United States to pursue.”

“What the Black Men Who Identify With Brett Kavanaugh Are Missing” [The Atlantic]. “On Tuesday night, I was in an auditorium with 100 black men in the city of Baltimore, when the subject pivoted to Brett Kavanaugh. I expected to hear frustration that the sexual-assault allegations against him had failed to derail his Supreme Court appointment. Instead, I encountered sympathy. One man stood up and asked, passionately, “What happened to due process?” He was met with a smattering of applause, and an array of head nods. If you think Kavanaugh receiving some measure of support from black men in inner-city Baltimore is as strange as Taylor Swift suddenly feeling the need to become a modern-day Fannie Lou Hamer, then brace yourself: The caping for Kavanaugh does make a twisted kind of sense. Countless times, black men have had to witness the careers and reputations of other black men ruthlessly destroyed because of unproved rape and sexual-assault accusations.” • As I’ve kept saying, in re #believewomen: Emmett Till.

Stats Watch

Housing Starts, September 2018: “However strong third-quarter GDP may prove, it likely won’t be getting any lift from residential investment” [Econoday]. “Building permits, which should be less affected by weather, fell… Looking at quarter-to-quarter comparisons, starts [are down], pointing to yet another quarter of trouble for residential investment — which is the weak link in the 2018 economy. Hurricane effects are a wildcard for housing data both for September and also for October when Michael hit the Florida panhandle but the ultimate impact on the nation’s statistics, judging by today’s results, may prove elusive.” But: “We consider this a slightly stronger report relative to last month – as the rolling averages improved (even if they are in negative territory). Over time, there is little difference between using permits or starts to compare to completions” [Econintersect]. And but: “Note the relatively low level of single family starts and completions. The “wide bottom” was what I was forecasting following the recession, and now I expect further of increases in single family starts and completions” [Calculated Risk].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of October 12, 2018: “The highest interest rates in over 7 years took their toll on mortgage activity” [Econoday].

Shipping: “September 2018 Sea Container Movements Improve But Rolling Averages Slow” [Econintersect]. “Simply looking at this month versus last month – export rate of growth improved whilst exports also improved. The three month rolling averages however are in negative territory for imports – and both export and import trends slowing. Even with this September improvement, it may be that we are seeing the impact of the trade wars.” • I trust container counts more than financial numbers because I believe that container counts are harder to game. So if container counts are falling, the trade war is in fact beginning to hit; and the “sugar high” of shipping pulled forward to beat the tarriff hikes has faded. Too close to the midterms to make a difference, though!


The Bezzle: “Facebook lured advertisers by inflating ad-watch times up to 900 percent: lawsuit” [San Jose Mercury News]. “Not only did Facebook inflate ad-watching metrics by up to 900 percent, it knew for more than a year that its average-viewership estimates were wrong and kept quiet about it, a new legal filing claims. A group of small advertisers suing the Menlo Park social media titan alleged in the filing that Facebook ‘induced’ advertisers to buy video ads on its platform because advertisers believed Facebook users were watching video ads for longer than they actually were. That ‘unethical, unscrupulous’ behavior by Facebook constituted fraud because it was ‘likely to deceive’ advertisers, the filing alleged.” ¨• Remember when a bunch of newspapers fired their reporters and gutted their newsrooms because the squillionaire with bright ideas in the corner office and the effing MBAs on the top floor wanted to “pivot to video”? Well, they believed the lies that crook, Zuckerberg, was peddling, which shows you how bright they really are. Will we ever be able to rebuild that capacity?

The Bezzle: “Facebook shareholders back proposal to remove Zuckerberg as chairman” [Reuters]. “Several public funds that hold shares in Facebook Inc on Wednesday backed a proposal to remove Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg as chairman, saying the social media giant mishandled several high-profile scandals. State treasurers from Illinois, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, co-filed the proposal. They joined hedge fund Trillium Asset Management, which bought it to the table in June.” • Zuckerberg didn’t “mishandle scandals.” He’s a crook, as bad as Travis Kalanick.

The Bezzle: “The Magic Leap Con” [Gizmodo]. • Why the heck would anybody want to wear goggles for any immersive experience other than scuba diving? Fun read.

Tech: “Five Ways to Redesign Cities for the Scooter Era” [Bloomberg]. • The scooter era? Really? Let’s go throw some more scooters up in trees, or set them on fire, or cover their sensors with… ketchup.

Tech: “Instagram Has a Massive Harassment Problem” [The Atlantic]. “In interviews, 22 users described painful, sustained, sometimes terrifying abuse on the platform—abuse they say Instagram has repeatedly failed to stem.” • This whole idea of connecting people… Did anybody ever think there might be a down-side?

But priorities:

I don’t know if we’ve ever had hatred as a commercial product — divorced from a party or factional context — before. Readers? I suppose, in a way, merchandising hatred is like selling porn; except no paid performers are needed, so it’s cheaper, so I assume more profitable.

Fodder for the Bulls: “Talk of a US recession in 2020 is a little premature” [CNBC]. “According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the average economic cycle since 1945 has lasted about 58 months. This latest cycle, which started in March 2009, has now been going on for 115 months, just five months shorter than the longest period of economic growth on record (1991 to 2001)…. TS Lombard analyst Dario Perkins has highlighted the four conditions for a recession to occur: 1) accelerating inflation 2) a squeeze on corporate profits 3) tight monetary policy and 4) macroeconomic imbalances such as asset bubbles…. Crucially however, the economy and companies’ revenues are still growing. The labor market is not showing signs of overheating.” • It’s interesting to watch elites talk themselves into a crash. Is there no limit to the powers of these wondrous people?

The 420

“Cannabis is legal in Canada — here’s what you need to know” [CBC]. “In most provinces and all the territories, people will be allowed to possess four marijuana plants per household. That’s the limit Ottawa imposed when it passed the Cannabis Act in June… There is one constant across the country: Online sales are available in all provinces and territories, whether via private retailers or through government-run websites. E-commerce giant Shopify, which will manage online sales for four provinces, is confident its system will be able to handle the volume.” • Buying weed on Shopify. That’s really cool.

Guillotine Watch

“Louis C.K. Jokes About ‘Weird Year’: ‘I Lost $35 Million in an Hour'” [New York Magazine]. “Louis C.K. Jokes About ‘Weird Year’: ‘I Lost $35 Million in an Hour'” [New York Magazine]. “Louis C.K.’s grand return to comedy is in full swing; following two mostly well-received sets at the Comedy Cellar, the comedian, who was accused of sexual misconduct last November (including masturbating in front of several women) has begun joking about his ‘weird year’ in the wake of the allegations. He reportedly told his audience at the West Side Comedy Club last week, ‘I lost $35 million in an hour.'” • I’m not sure Louis has regained his, er, touch. And I say that as somebody who has played (and cited to) a lot of Louis CK videos.

Class Warfare

“Ideas Have Consequences: The Impact of Law and Economics on American Justice” (PDF) [Elliott Ash, Daniel L. Chen, Suresh Naidu]. From the abstract: “Using the universe of published opinions in U.S. Circuit Courts and 1 million District Court criminal sentencing decisions linked to judge identity, we estimate the effect of attendance in the controversial Manne economics training program, an intensive two-week course attended by almost half of federal judges. After attending economics training, participating judges use more economics language, render more conservative verdicts in economics cases, rule against regulatory agencies more often, and render longer criminal sentences. These results are robust to adjusting for a wide variety of covariates that predict the timing of attendance. Comparing non-Manne and Manne judges prior to program start and exploiting variation in instructors further assuage selection concerns. Non-Manne judges randomly exposed to Manne peers on previous cases increase their use of economics language in subsequent opinions, suggesting economic ideas diffused throughout the judiciary. Variation in topic ordering finds that economic ideas were portable from regulatory to criminal cases.” • Yikes. This is important, and very bad.

“The Student Loan Debt Crisis Is About to Get Worse” [Bloomberg]. “Student loans have seen almost 157 percent in cumulative growth over the last 11 years. By comparison, auto loan debt has grown 52 percent while mortgage and credit-card debt actually fell by about 1 percent, according to a Bloomberg Global Data analysis of federal and private loans. All told, there’s a whopping $1.5 trillion in student loans out there (through the second quarter of 2018), marking the second-largest consumer debt segment in the country after mortgages.” • And with a mortgage, at least you get to imagine you own a home!

News of the Wired

“The American Circus in All Its Glory” [National Endowment for the Humanities]. “Through the twentieth century, accelerating into the twenty-first, every change brought about a normalizing of the circus, cutting into its uncanny core. Disneyland was built on this model, of course: opening in 1955 as, essentially, the old experience of the fairground and amusement park with all the seediness purged. But, as Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey discovered, Disney always proved best at doing Disneyland. The circus without its dodgy elements is no longer a circus. Even while the circus owners were trimming the circus to accommodate what they thought were changes in the culture, the culture was changing faster still. With OSHA laws and mandatory liability insurance, the culture demanded safety in a show whose business was the unsafe. With the sexual revolution and the rise of easy pornography, women in tights on horses ceased to seem transgressive. With the shrinking of the world, African animals no longer appeared exotic. With the information economy of the Internet, P. T. Barnum’s brand of outrageous hoaxes was too easily debunked. With the rise of animal rights activism, the parades of elephants and caged cats were increasingly banned.”

* * *

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 (RR):

RR writes: “A lone poppy. I planted an entire packet, many germinated, but they were all eaten as seedlings – except for this one! Flax in the foreground, unmowed lawn in the back.”

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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. Lambert Strether Post author

      Why am I going to take the time to watch a video, which won’t have a transcript, when somebody just dumps the link in a comment and gives me no reason to click through?

      1. Wukchumni

        I apologize for my transgression, and the video in question is a Chinese house of cards, where the staff seems content with doing hands on work, 52/24.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s always tricky linking videos. Citing the relevant segment(s) (time-wise) would help, though it’s hard to quote from there for others following the thread.

        Linking a long article, a book or an entire encyclopedia set would be even trickier. (“I am sure your response is in there somewhere. Do I look under the ‘W’ or ‘H’ volume? I suppose I have no answers to your points, then. I have been…silenced.”)

    2. L

      From my, admittedly unscientific, reading and contacts, the villages are still quite empty. The cities are increasingly expensive. Chinese manufacturing companies have begun investing in both automation and in offshoring which is creating unemployment. And some of the larger materials companies (e.g. foundaries) are facing oversupply. China is still building at a furious rate but it doe have the hallmarks of a bubble, albeit a government driven one.

      As an anecdote one of the fastest growing businesses for a while was online peer to peer lending which skipped banks. Those have imploded at a high rate: https://money.cnn.com/2018/08/08/news/economy/china-p2p-lending/index.html

      This is not to say that they are ready for immediate collapse but there are strains. How fundamental they are is not clear.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      I can’t give first (or even second) hand reports on whats happening ‘on the ground’ in China, but I do have a number of Chinese friends who keep a close eye on things. There does seem to be increasing nervousness among Chinese with a little assets – I’m not talking about the rich, just people with some savings and property. The combination of crackdowns on political activity and in particular, restrictions on moving capital have made them suspect the worst. A friend who has a small business helping Chinese to relocate says she’s been getting a lot of queries.

      Its much harder to get a feel for whats going on among working class Chinese and rural people. The Party policy has long been to allow a certain amount of dissent to allow people to blow off steam. I’ve witnessed (very polite) street protests in public areas, with no police interest or interference (this is in ‘deep’ China, if this happened in fringe areas like Tibet the police presence would be very oppressive). But the whispers seem to be that even quite benign protests are being shut down, and this is making people feel there is something unpleasant in the wind. Clampdowns on social media have been very heavy-handed, and this has upset the young in particular. Having said that, Xi is still unquestionably popular (although probably less so than even just a year ago), and money is still flowing through the economy.

      There is no question however but that the economy is starting to creak. The debt load – in particular ‘hidden’ depts in the shadow banking sector, the informal economy (which is huge), and possibly even worse, in the local government sector, is enormous.

      Most of the ‘China bears’ that I’ve read – such as Michael Pettis – have suggested that while a big implosion is possible, any Minsky Moment event is more likely to be a Japanese style long slow recession – i.e. a semi controlled deflation. But even Pettis in his more recent writings seems to think that there may be too much pressure building up in the system.

      1. blennylips

        > Its much harder to get a feel for whats going on among working class Chinese and rural people.

        Winston Sterzel is reporting on that:

        …a South African born vlogger and video producer located in Shenzhen in the Guangdong province of China. His videos cover a variety of topics relating to life in China from a Westerner’s perspective.

        Sterzel is of British heritage; he was born and grew up in South Africa. He has called his father, Frederick Sterzel, “the South African version of Steve Irwin”. He moved to China in his mid-twenties after first visiting on business in 2005. In 2015 he was one of twelve South Africans in China profiled by China Radio International. A medical training manager, he now lives with his Chinese wife in Shenzhen; he started uploading videos in China in 2007 and became a full-time vlogger in 2016

        Latest from his ADVChina vlog: China’s Mental Health Crisis

  1. flora

    re: Trade and China. My 2 cents: From 1990 (at least) through 2016, China was dealing with US in a nationalist vs globalist frame. Since 2016, China is dealing with the US in a nationalist vs. nationalist frame. Interesting times.

  2. Wukchumni

    Here’s how you make voting work, with each ballot, the voter receives a lottery ticket in which there are many thousand $10,000 winners throughout the country.

    For laying out only $30 million everybody wants to be in to win.

    1. edmondo

      How about if the winners get automatic Canadian citizenship instead of $10,000? Free healthcare would motivate me more than 6 months of crappy healthcare insurance. The bonus is you never have to vote in an American election again! Go big or go home.

          1. Oregoncharles

            You may get Glenn Greenwald. He can’t really stay in Brazil if Bolsonaro wins, and I don’t think he’s comfortable in the US. Or there’s Iceland – either one would be quite a change from Brazil.

  3. Summer

    Re: Student loans

    “And with a mortgage, at least you get to imagine you own a home!”

    Maybe we should take a closer look at the papers the homeless use for warmth. Used to be newspapers, now it could be student loan documents.

      1. Wukchumni

        Sanders while a better open field runner in airports, had nothing on OJ, who was known to cut & slice through aerodromes.

      1. Eclair

        I had watched this interview with Hedges yesterday and loved it! Usually he is sooo dour that I prefer reading him, but here he is relaxed and funny, especially when he tells the tale of how he decided to become a foreign correspondent.

      2. John k

        His ideal seems to be Nader rather than Bernie.
        It’s Bernie that’s moving the needle. Dealt a weak hand, he’s playing his cards like a maestro. Amazon at 15, m4a talk everywhere…

  4. dcblogger

    Elizabeth Warren and her supporters seem oblivious to the fact that Native Americans are a key Democratic constituency, and you cannot win without their votes. Who cares what Trump thinks.

    This is what happens when you feed the trolls.

    1. a different chris

      You all seem oblivious to the fact that every Native American that would vote for a D is going to vote for a D,* regardless of how they feel about this. And their intensity of feelings I suspect falls way, way short of either the concern trolling by the Righttards or the worse pearl-clutching by the identitarians – “You used identity in an unapproved way!!”.

      She kicked him in the balls is what most people see. He said “Pocahontas”, she proved “Pocahontas”, now he’s weaseling about what exactly he said and what he meant by “proof”. Not a good look for an Alpha Male. I don’t know why you all are “oblivious” to that.

      *And the Native American population has yet to turn a Red State blue, so sorry if I’m coming across as un-sensitive, but “I don’t care, do u?”. I care, like I suspect they do, about what the D’s can do for them compared to the R’s.

      1. dcrane

        I get the point about fighting back, but to me EW has been losing on this and continues to do so. If she had been really savvy, she would have (1) recognized at the beginning that every day spent on this terrain (identity-based preferences) is bad for her in a national election, (2) done some sort of quick mea culpa early on, and then (3) dismissed the issue as “yesterday” from that point on while always pivoting to new attacks, mainly on real issues but also hopefully some on terrain that is a lot less comfortable for Trumpie’s Ego. I’ll bet Trump loves fighting with her over her “1/1,024th probability”. Proving to the average voter that she is “technically correct” gets her little if anything. She needed to convince the average voter that this issue was not important to begin with, and she has undermined that.

      2. Spring Texan

        I respect that she wants to fight, I think she needed to, and I think the response — including at Naked Capitalism and from the Cherokee Nation — has been abominable.

        When we tear up a good person over stuff like this (or Obama over wearing a tan suit – although of course there were plenty of GOOD reasons to object to Obama), we self-destruct and shoot ourselves in the foot. We should be defending her just as much as Bernie against the “Bernie has 3 houses and his wife is a crook” crap. Refusing to fight is to do a John Kerry over swift-boating, and where did that get him?

        Hurray for Warren!

        1. dcrane

          Fwiw my criticism of Warren is about her political strategy and whether I think it is a winning one, not her as a person. And overall I think that she has brought one of the more important issues to the fore (corporate personhood/governance).

      3. The Rev Kev

        Warren made the stupid tactical mistake by fighting Trump on his grounds and by his rules. Now she may have blown her chances at a Presidency because of that. Stupid mistake that. At least people aren’t demanding that Trump submit a DNA test or that could become a new norm. And what would have happened if his DNA test showed that he was more North American Indian than she was? Nope. Not worth going there. Meanwhile, the Duffle Blog is always ready to put the ammunition boot into topics like this-


        1. Eudora Welty

          I feel like “Pocahantas” isn’t actually derogatory, and now she’s given this evidence … it’s the best put-down nickname since “Governor Moonbeam”: generally-well-read people know who is being talked about, it describes an attribute about them, and it doesn’t offer an actual sting. “Obamacare” would be in that same category. “I take their scorn as a badge of honor.” This may all have been said before and is derivative, but I haven’t followed the Pocahantas controversy at all until now because it seemed like a big hoo-haw to me.

      4. Jimmy the Greek

        “She kicked him in the balls is what most people see.”

        That is definitely not what I saw. I saw a desperate move to address a pretty egregious misappropriation of another’s culture for professional advancement that blew up in her face. Trump is not cowed, the Cherokee Nation called her out, and, because she released the results, this will definitely be an issue if she runs.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That seems a bit defensive.

      In a world of ideal voters, it would be ‘She came from being down 20 points to win, all for voting against Kavanaugh.”

    2. voteforno6

      It still boggles the mind that she could lose to someone as openly and brazenly corrupt as Kevin Cramer.

      1. neo-realist

        My take on such voting behavior from the republican base is that it votes in large measure against the cultural representation the democratic party represents—feminism, BLM, social welfare, LGBTQ, etc; so much so that it will vote for corrupt, incompetent, even racist candidates over a good candidate from the opposition party that represents values that it hates.

    3. todde

      it’s almost like they’re trying to lose…

      at some point in time we will have to realize that the people running the show are absolute worthless turds of human excrement.

      that’s why I say assault them wherever they are, democrat and repub alike.

  5. Oregoncharles

    ” “The burden should be on the government — not individuals — to ensure the right to vote.”

    Oregon now has a “motor-voter” law; that is, anyone obtaining a driver’s license is automatically registered to vote. That isn’t universal (I know several adults who don’t drive or started driving years after they started voting), but it’s a sizable expansion.

    Incidentally, the fact that states administer elections is a major barrier to any universal reform. The laws are different in every state.

    Motor voter raised some interesting difficulties, especially for “minor” parties, because people are registered without party affiliation and expected to specify a party later. Oregon has closed primaries, and minor parties need a certain percentage of registrations to qualify for the ballot; those laws weren’t changed even while the number of registrations was enlarged. The Sec. of State is presently working on new rules or legislation to fix some of that.

    So I’d say we’re about half way there.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Has there been a system, any where, in history, where the default, if a voter does not vote, is negative, on all ‘yes or no’ votes, like, for example, ‘Should we go to war with Mars?’

      1. Oregoncharles

        Not that I know of, but there are referendum requirements (in Oregon, now, on tax increases) requiring a certain level of turnout before the measure can take effect. That has a similar effect – non-voters can defeat the measure. Among other things, it means that such measures have to be in elections with high turnout – not such a bad requirement. Oregon holds a lot of elections.

        That’s quite an example you offer; don’t think I’ve seen anything like that on the ballot.

      2. Expat2uruguay

        Uruguay has National referendums subject to yes or no vote, but voting is compulsory, although blank votes are allowed.

  6. DJG

    I don’t know if we’ve ever had hatred as a commercial product — divorced from a party or factional context — before. Readers? I suppose, in a way, merchandising hatred is like selling porn; except no paid performers are needed, so it’s cheaper, so I assume more profitable.

    Let’s not give porn a bad name. I gave up on Catherine MacKinnon and her sexual authoritarianism a long time ago.

    So what gives? Just as my neighborhood is under a layer of upper-middle-class debris–Starbucks cups, restaurant “boxes,” artisanal beer bottles, the WWW has released action from consequence, very much the way that Starbucks, that factory for trash, has removed service of food from disposal of waste. Starbucks is bad food and “socialized” waste.

    The irony is that the WWW is best at pornography (no one cares who you are), shopping (they can trace your card), and Wikipedia and dictionaries (teach yourself Lithuanian!). It is a great place to shop for pornography in Basque.

    Yet we saw the same difficulty with e-mail. The anonymity drove resentments and hatreds. Flame wars. We see it in the comment sections of most on-line periodicals–people are too daffy to realize that they are making ludicrous comments under their own names.

    Human beings are analogue. When we go digital, we end up in a swap of resentment, snark, hatreds, and prejudices–oh, Twitter. Maybe there is something to that poor, tattered distinction between public and private.

    Finally, I’m just not sure why anyone would post a gallery on line if that person has an unusual condition–and as much as I hate to blame the kid, didn’t he expect drive-bys?

    1. prx

      Finally, I’m just not sure why anyone would post a gallery on line if that person has an unusual condition–and as much as I hate to blame the kid, didn’t he expect drive-bys?

      I assume you’re talking about the Atlantic article on harassment. Fortunately, this question was addressed in the story’s lede: “he wanted to use the photo-sharing site to educate people about his condition…to ‘show people a glimpse into [his] life and inspire people.'”

      Hard for me to imagine reading that and blaming the kid, even begrudgingly.

    2. Expat2uruguay

      Lambert asked for thoughts on the merchandising of hate. I can see the connection that Lambert made to porm, because there is a titillation to it. I’d also compare it to gambling for the same reason.

      But to me, when I read merchandising of hate, I immediately thought of how women are sold Beauty products, through self-hate. It caused an epidemic of anorexia, so there was definite harm. But advertisements were allowed to continue that line of merchandising even given the self-harm, so I don’t see this as much different. Even though I recognize that this is more of a societal level harm with the modern version.

  7. Carey

    After reading the ‘Magic Leap’ and the one about the “need” to redesign cities to make
    them scooter-friendly (roundabouts!!! yeah, that’ll work), it does seem like we’re in
    the terminal stage of something, though I don’t know what to call it yet.

  8. clarky90

    Gulag – BBC Documentary (3 hours duration)


    “The Gulag was an economic venture”– Archivist in the Gulag section of the Russian State Archives at 1 hour, 44 minutes

    I had not realized that the Soviet Union’s network of concentration camps (The Gulag), was first and foremost, an early iteration of “disruptive, economics”. I had imagined that it was a grotesque attempt at punishing/killing “The Enemies of the People” (wreckers). Not so. The Gulag was just “business”, (like slavery}.

    The prisoners were seen as an inexpensive and inexhaustible economic resource. They were unpaid, and on starvation rations. The State took no responsibility for their well-being. When they died, they were quickly replaced. The prisoners had no names, only identifying numbers on their backs.

    There was a special scientific Institute in Moscow that designed every detail of the Gulag camps; the railway lines, the water towers, the infrastructure, the routines….(1 hour 42 minutes)

    “Once it has been established that commentary is not going to encumber the pictures, they develop stronger meanings of their own. Cutaways, those non-specific shots which cover the edits in an interview, become in themselves rich and ambiguous comments on the people we meet. The ship passing through a canal lock becomes a focus for horror when it follows a woman who describes how she saw the bodies of dead workers thrown into the concrete during construction of the Dmitrov canal. The frequent shots of water become the cleansing and distorting medium of Tarkovsky’s great symbolic film, Mirror. The protracted shot overflying a city in dull grey sleet which introduces a visit to the prisoner-built city of Norilsk becomes an image of hell by way of the surface of the planet Solaris. Its effect is to make us concentrate on the sequence to come. Purely visual breaks have become invitations to think…..”


  9. todde

    poor women(white and black) are worried more about sex trafficking than harassment.

    Kavanaugh might be the topic of discussion on campus, but in my little interaction with the hood, nobody cares one bit about what happened at prep school

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      I work with poor working class people. Most of us know its political theatre for elites.

      We are all quietly waiting for the next Huey P Long or Bernie…

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, hunger and thirst would have to be satiated before issues even like safety.

        So, it’s not surprising many people are reacting like that.

        1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

          Sure. Like Lenin said about Revolutions happening not in years but in hours.

          Its important in preppin our fellow comrades about the way shit works and that workers can do this on our own. Theres no need for this bullshit American Aristocracy. The internet is THE tool of Democracy.

          The Great Awakening 2

          Id say for starters we should all run for office simultaneously. Wake all these motherfuckers up.

  10. dcrane

    Re: Trump approval

    Just looked yesterday, and Trump is around 43% in the Gallup poll of registered voters and over 50% in Rasmussen (which leans GOP I think due to its likely voter model). These are both close to all time highs for him (discounting the post-election honeymoon period when all presidents have high numbers). Hardly “in the dumps”.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The Deplorables fooled the Democrats once.
      Shame, shame, shame…on those Deplorables.

      Will they fool the Ds twice?

  11. hamstak

    It is unfortunate that one of Miguel Calderón’s works wasn’t displayed in the White House rather than the Republican luminary circle painting.

    “Bad Route” (right image in the linked page, featured in the Royal Tenenbaums) or the other one (can’t locate the title — perhaps “The Khashoggi Incident” works) would have made for quite the entertaining tweetstorm!

  12. Wukchumni


    I was as surprised as the next Mexican when the order came in for a wall adornment, my first thought being, on which side?

    Once we got things sorted out and I started painting for the oval office wall, there was only one precondition, ixnay on Hoover, eh?

  13. Tomonthebeach

    Elizabeth Warren has so many great ideas that would improve the lives of so many of the other 90%. It is a shame that as a politician she exhibits serial stupid moves. That is not POTUS material in my book. Nevertheless, she might be a good VEEP candidate to Bern, and she would be awesome as Treasury.

    On the other hand, I now have visions of the entire Cherokee nation dressed in MAGA hats doing the Pocahontas dance while Trump cuts all their Medicaid and other welfare benefits. Tribal Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 KJV

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From time to time, the ‘character’ issue becomes popular or relevant…like recently…’did he lie or worse, perjure himself?’

      Has she ever been given a spot or a job over others who, whether they are unaware or aware, have more minority DNA, percentage-wise?

      That would not be policy-related, but a character issue.

    2. mle detroit

      Most of the hot takes I read yesterday accuse her of falling into Trump’s trap. They opine from on high that she should have ignored him and risen above the fray. How well did that work out for Barack Obama?

      1. dcrane

        It’s a heck of a lot easier to ignore sideshow stuff like this from your opponent when voters see you attacking on real issues that they care about. (And when they believe you’re really on their side.)

      2. lyman alpha blob

        It’s not that she shouldn’t fight back. It’s that she shouldn’t hand her opponent a huge box of .50 ammo first and then show up packing a cap pistol.

        Rather than serving up the weak tea she offered as ‘proof’ to Trump, she could have simply retorted that the only reason Trump is even a US citizen is because his grandfather emigrated to the US illegally and when he tried to return to Germany the authorities wouldn’t let him back in. And then get back to talking policy that will provide concrete material benefits.

        The above also has the added benefit of being true. For the life of me I don’t understand why the Democrat party hasn’t thrown this in his face every time he opens his yap about immigration. You’d think the scion of a Bavarian reject wouldn’t have much of a leg to stand on trying to criticize the quality of immigrants today, but far be it from the Democrats to bring it up. It would be so uncivil.

  14. Expat2uruguay

    Okay, I’m going to Second a request I saw by another commenter a couple of weeks ago. It’s the use of “please kill me now”. The links post today also had a similar sentiment, though not the exact words.
    Your posting stories about the opiate crisis & we all know there’s deaths of despair. I myself am having a hard time dealing with the latest IIPC report regarding climate change. Can you guys come up with something else to say that doesn’t suggest suicide? Por favor?
    I find it disturbing and jarring every time I read these wordst, especially coming from a website where there’s so much bad news published everyday…

    1. Bugs Bunny


      I’m not triggered but I am thinking it’s a little bit harsh since I’ve been through some real “God please kill me now” moments lately.

    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      This is a standard expression and has nothing to do with suicide.


      just shoot me
      An utterance of defeated frustration and exasperation. Often used in overly one-sided argument by someone who is too tired to fight, or is in a hopeless bind.
      Look, I KNOW the horse is out the gate, I left it open, he’s gone. I KNOW. I’m gonna go look for him… why you still beating on me? Get it over with and just shoot me already. Christ on a bike.

  15. 23andnotme

    I don’t think most otherwise well-meaning folk quite get why Warren has been out of bounds for decades. On the basis of family lore (lore that is common among whites like my kin who live near Indians) she claimed to be American Indian, specifically Cherokee, on official lists for about a decade. She did so from just before she left podunk Univ. of Houston for U Penn (a HUGE promotion for an academic) and then dropped is after getting an endowed professorship at Harvard (an even HUGER promotion) This is a matter of public record, not crazy right wing conspiracy.

    When people looked into her actual geneology, no record of anything Indian showed up, but there is clear evidence of her kin showing up in Indian country just before Oklahoma became a state. Her own mother’s parents were migrans from the midwest (not exactly Cherokee country), who had come to Oklahoma just before the territory became a state. The husband of a cousin at the time tried to claim Indian tribal status and was denied. Apparently, poor whites saw this as a strategy to get free Indian land to farm. Is it possible that Warren’s kin were part of a late stage recolonization of the territory Indians had been forcibly moved to a few decades earlier (speculation to be sure, but there is a literature for this more generally)?

    Now, Warren is playing cutesy with DNA tests and her clueless supporters cheer her on while she and they undermine further Indian sovereignty, setting a very public precident for claiming “Indianess” for every white yahoo with a 23 and me report. This is nothing other than an early 21st century recolonization attempt that will destroy what is left of Indian rights in the US. It is frankly horrifying in moral terms, and in my view disqualifies Warren from any role in the public and, quite possibly, as a human being.

  16. Oregoncharles

    From the link on Elizabeth Warren: ““Warren, meanwhile, has allowed herself to be dragged into a conversation based on an outdated, harmful concept of racial blood—one that promotes the pernicious idea of biological differences among people.”

    This is an alarming de-physicalization of human beings, an attempt to deny that we’re evolved animals, adapted to our ancestors’ surroundings. It’s especially dangerous in the context of a collapsing natural world.

    I would agree that Warren made a mistake by responding to Trump’s taunts. But the rest is anti-science and anti-nature. It matters who your ancestors were and where they lived. Not only skin tones or facial features, but blood types and hemoglobin levels reflect your background; so do genetic diseases like sickle cell anemia – or the resistance to malaria that’s associated with it. And if you’re unfortunate enough to need a bone-marrow donor, your ethnic background will suddenly matter a great deal. I know of one person who died because his ethnic combination was so unusual that no donor could be found.

    Obviously, there are a lot of ways that ethnic background doesn’t matter, but that doesn’t mean it has no effect. Nor do I think Americans’ habit of talking about their ethnic roots, extra points for Native ancestry, is harmful. That’s what Warren was doing, initially. She wasn’t claiming Cherokee membership, any more than I claim to belong to either of the Scottish clans in my ancestry – both through female links. All the DNA means is that “See, I wasn’t lying.”

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      She might nonetheless want to explicitly distance herself from the pernicious use of the one-drop rule in this nation’s history.

      1. philnc

        So not “junk science”, but “junk ethics”.

        The only way to get a significant number of those who stay home on election day out to vote is to have candidates with more integrity than that. Once you get past ubiquitous voter suppression, the main reason most of them don’t vote is that they have no respect for the system (not surprising since the system clearly has no respect for them).

  17. Dan

    I’m fascinated by the painting of the Republican presidents hanging out. My eye keeps being drawn to the figure at the upper right, who looks like ‘Hard Times’ Hoover (or maybe a mashup of Hoover with ‘Silent Cal’ Coolidge?). He looks a little sour and tentative, like he wants to join the party but doesn’t quite feel welcome. Did Trump talk trash about him? Is the Hoover ‘brand’ still so toxic that Saint Ronnie won’t party with him? What gives?

    1. Big Tap

      Reagan should invite him to the table. If I remember correctly Calvin Coolidge was one of his favorite presidents. Also Republicans never had a Hoover problem but a FDR one.

    2. Phil in KC

      I see Grant, McKinley, and Taft in the background, along with Hoover and Silent Cal, but cannot locate Rutherford Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, or Benjamin Harrison. And where the heck is Warren Harding?

  18. grayslady

    Regarding China: An acquaintance of mine sells custom engineered machinery to the Chinese. He is due to make a marketing call in China within the next couple of weeks, but has already been advised that the government spigot for purchase money is running dry. Trump is the reason mentioned repeatedly. However, my acquaintance also says that the Chinese have been busy copying his custom designs for production lines. He says that right now those designs and the materials used are significantly inferior to what his company produces, but he believes that the Chinese will catch up within another three years.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      From Wikipedia on Predatory Pricing:

      Predatory pricing, also known as undercutting, is a pricing strategy in which a product or service is set at a very low price with the intention to achieve new customers (Loss leader), or driving competitors out of the market or to create barriers to entry for potential new competitors.

      It says ‘very low price’ not ‘price below cost.’

      But, but, but the consuming buyer benefits.

      So what?

      We therefore deduce that it’s not always the case that lowering prices is good (see above).

      Second question – what about going after competitors with equal or better products, but with the intention of driving them out of the market (this time, not with pricing, but with quality)?

      In the last few decades, a lot of businesses have been driven out of the market due to 1) price or 2) quality differences…deliberately predatorily.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      And yet he wants to sell them more of his custom machines? Even though, as-you-say, he knows very well they will steal those designs like they have stolen every design he sold them up to now? Why does he do it, then? For the same reason the International Free Trade Conspiracy in general shipped so much of our industry to China? To feather his own nest and Death To Our Descendants?

        1. grayslady

          He says that manufacturing in the U.S. is pretty much dead. When he finds qualified engineers to hire, they end up accepting jobs at Google for much more than he can afford to pay.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Bringing manufacturing back to life in the US would be a 5-7 decade project. It would need rigid protectionism to create the conditions to make it possible at all. The end goal would have to be at the very least a semi-self-contained semi-autarkich political-economy
            operating at some kind of eco-bio-tolerable steady-state level.

    3. Oregoncharles

      Isn’t that an example of the technology “theft” Trump was complaining about?

      Of course, it’s a survival skill for countries like China.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Is it “theft”? Or is it “giving away”?

        The “only game in town” point is a good point, however. If the International Free Trade Conspiracy destroyed every customer this man had or would have had within the US or any other non-China country, then China is indeed the last and only country left to sell these machines to. However, I don’t know if that is the case. Only he can know if that is the case.

  19. clarky90

    Re “Stats Watch”



    “Skidmore got involved last spring when he heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, refer to a report which indicated the Army had $6.5 trillion in unsupported adjustments, or spending, in fiscal 2015. Given the Army’s $122 billion budget, that meant unsupported adjustments were 54 times spending authorized by Congress. Typically, such adjustments in public budgets are only a small fraction of authorized spending.

    Skidmore thought Fitts had made a mistake……..” (she hadn’t)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It will not be the first Pentagon audit. It may be the first one that succeeds, if it is permitted to succeed. There was a prior attempt made and under way during the early Bush Junior Administration. Bunches of auditors were auditing right in the exact part of the Pentagon that the 9/11 plane was flown into. Here is a link.


    1. neo-realist

      I don’t believe Trump would sign off on such massive cuts prior to a re-election campaign. The Scrooge baggage would be hard to run on, unless the dems are stupid enough to nominate Biden; He’d be ok with such cuts imo. If Trump wins re-election he’ll sign off on them

      1. j7915

        The Dems are that stupid. Monica Lewinsky deserves a freedom medal for distracting Billie from making a “grand Bargain”, and turtle hated Obama so much he failed to see the offer.
        The trade wars damaging the stock market maybe our savior. The Trumps are not into stocks, and IIrc there was an article that explained that Trump’s buildings were never really AA grade so he could afford lower income because he had acquired them cheaper. However Wall Street lives on paper wealth, they have to reign the GOP in from the trade wars, that will be a distraction, I hope.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Grid lock is our friend.

      I’d still be worried, though, given the level of collusion. I think the duopoly parties are rivals for rich people’s money, but not on much else.

  20. ML

    On the online marketing of hate I highly recommend Italian writer (and bandmate of Italo Calvino!) Georgio de Maria’s novel 20 Days of Turin, recently translated into English by Roman Glazov. Though written in 1977 it eerily predicts the hate storm of social media

  21. Unna

    Ms Gessen is right in her criticism of Warren’s DNA race test fiasco. The problem is the promotion through this test of the notion that race, culture,and genetics are functions of one another. They are not.

    So let’s all go the the top of the class for this sort of thing: The claim that culture is a result of “race” (whatever that means from narrative to narrative), and that race is a result of genetics is, in fact, the most basic tenant of Nazi race theory. It was the beginning of that long slow tragedy for Jewish Germans that began with the ripping away from them of their German cultural and national identity.

    The basic mistake of 19th century German and European race theory was to confuse language relationships (Indo-European language groups) with race and genetic derivation rather than to understand them as correlated language relationships among loosely associated cultural groups due to various historical processes of migration, cultural integration, cultural adaptation, and so on. This along with the appropriation of the word ‘Aryan” from it’s original meaning of the Indo-Aryan, or Indo-Iranian tribal groups active in South Western Asia 3,500 or so years ago into the now pop culture trope of a blond SS officer.

    Not to belabor this, but the Cherokees, and other North American “First Nations Peoples”, as the Canadians prefer saying – and I like that term – are exactly right to be upset with Warren. Identity with any First Nation (or any other nation) is primarily a lived cultural experience based on up bringing,cultural beliefs, way of life, food, ceremony, maybe language, religion, day to day association with family, relatives, elders, community members, and so on. And sure, a “white” kid raised by a First Nations family in a First Nations community would indeed be a legitimate member of that community, no DNA test needed, and despite whether the government recognizes that or not.

    Warren has demonstrated herself to be a bit of a fool. She could have said that there was a family story of their having had a tribal ancestor at some point in history, but who knows, and have left it at that. Instead, she claimed a tribal “heritage” which she absolutely in no way has, and then tried to “prove” it with a DNA test. And that was her mistake. And if she makes these kinds of “social” mistakes as well as political mistakes, why should anybody trust her to be president? “Worst than a crime, it was a mistake.” My god, now we have Sen Graham saying he’s going to take a DNA test and share it with the world and he’s betting he has more “Indian blood” than Warren. And why not?

    Besides, now that Warren’s out of the way, the runway is foamed a bit more for Bernie.

  22. Lobsterman

    For the record, that gif of Bernie running is from a couple years ago, him shuttling from meeting to meeting, doing his goddamn job.

  23. bruce wilder

    It’s interesting to watch elites talk themselves into a crash. Is there no limit to the powers of these wondrous people?


    finance and economics, as presented in mass media, borrow a lot from the rhetoric of sports journalism and sports talk (i.e. what players and coaches say to sports journalists), much of which is similar explanatory nonsense mixed with groundless speculation peppered with narrative superstition.

    things that actually matter — a policy decision to invert the yield curve, for example, which almost always induces a recession — are treated with suspicion and skepticism as to the nature of causality. it is almost as if the powers that be want you to believe that the economy is like the weather: unpredictable acts of the god of luck that no one controls, rather than what it is: almost completely artifactual.

  24. bob k

    the man between bush and nixon is that supposed to be lincoln? if so, he doesn’t belong in that thing as he was a radical republican when the Republicans were a radical party.

    1. Alfred

      Harding may be visible almost directly above Lincoln’s head, silhouetted against the golden arches. I believe Hoover, McKinley (painted from the portrait on Wikipedia?), and Coolidge appear in the upper right background. Grant shows up in the left background. A very tiny Hayes (unless it’s Garfield?) may be to the left of “the woman” who strides forward — but only to arrive in a world of men. Elsewhere here, bob k has objected to the presence of Lincoln, on the grounds that he was a Radical Republican. That comment is pertinent to my observation that in this picture, Lincoln is the only president seen from the back. For he is, indeed, no longer the face of “his” party. His successors confront him rather than follow his lead. The most central face is that of Eisenhower, whose Presidential Library sits in the central state of Kansas and who now is remembered as a kind of centrist. However, he _leans right_ (as does Ford, Nixon’s pardoner and hence apologist) in contrast to Reagan who _leans left_ (in order to captivate independent voters?).
      Significantly, I suppose, Trump occupies a (political) space to Eisenhower’s _right_. Trump’s red tie is portrayed in a way that suggests it draws its color, as through a straw, from Nixon’s cup of (poisoned?) wine. Bush II and Nixon appear in profile — the view that supposedly is most revealing of a person’s true character (!). The only three hands prominent in the picture are those of Nixon, Bush II, and Trump. This coincidence suggests that the artist intended these three men to be seen as forming a triumvirate. We are not dealing here with an innocent image produced merely for marketing to DC’s tourist trade. Instead we find a complex allegory of shifting power, not all of it honorably acquired or admirably wielded.

      1. marym

        Here’s a similar painting of Dem presidents.

        Interview with the artist. Re: The woman in both paintings:

        “That will be the first Republican female president and the first Democratic female president,” he explained…That’s the kind of woman that will be our first woman president; she’ll walk right up to that table.”

  25. Summer

    How can anyone on Facebook stand election season? If there was a time to suspend your account, elections should trigger it. It’s manipulation overdrive (if social media companies have any gear but manipulation overdrive).

  26. Synoia

    Strong growth, which hit a muscular 5.2% in the third quarter of 2014, was not enough to stave off electoral disaster for President Obama in that year’s midterm election, when Democrats lost the Senate.

    Perhaps because then, as now, not everyone shared equally in the prosperity.

    Perhaps there was Obamacare, a crappy solution with no near term benefits, Obama not visible on single player, not leading the democratic party, with no visible new programs, and Obama clearly visible in the Bright Lights as an empty suit.

  27. Craig H.

    > Facebook shareholders back proposal to remove Zuckerberg as chairman

    Doesn’t he still have like 60% of the effective voting shares?

    I don’t understand the point of this at all.

  28. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris plans to stump in Iowa; is it a precursor to a presidential run?”

    I have a scenario involving Harris. What if she says that yes, she wants to be President and is going to make her run for 2020. Meanwhile, Michelle Obama who has been having her own thought about her own run, pipes up and says “Oh no she doesn’t!” and then announces her own Presidential run. For the democrats they now have two candidates that are great on the identity politics level in that they are both black and women. They wouldn’t be even talking about what experience they could bring to the game but that would not be important to them. So, who gets the nod then and who gets the back-room mafia like talk that it has been decided that they are not running?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, one could be nominated for PrezNominee, and the other could be nominated for VP Nominee.

      ” Its race cards and woman cards all the way down.”

  29. Olga

    Lambert, a good link for tomorrow:
    So, as usual, it could be all about money:
    “The dissident Saudi journalist who disappeared after entering his nation’s consulate in Istanbul may have run afoul of the Saudi leadership over family business dealings rather than his public criticism of the kingdom, sources have told The Independent.”

    1. JCC

      And then there is this:

      Western media coverage of Khashoggi’s career (by people who don’t know Arabic) presents a picture far from reality. They portray a courageous investigative journalist upsetting the Saudi regime. Nothing is further from the truth: there is no journalism in Saudi Arabia; there is only crude and naked propaganda.

      Editors are trusted individuals who have demonstrated long-time loyalty. Khashoggi admitted to an Arab reporter last year in an interview from Istanbul that in Saudi Arabia he had been both editor and censor. Editors of Saudi regime papers (mouthpieces of princes and kings) enforce government rules and eliminate objectionable material.

      Khashoggi was the go-to man for Western journalists covering the kingdom, appointed to do so by the regime. He may have been pleasant in conversation with reporters but he never questioned the royal legitimacy. And that goes for his brief one-year stint in Washington writing for the Post.

      There’s more, and considering how MBS has handled others within the Saudi Regime, family business dealings make more sense than anything else.

      I also watched the Jimmy Dore interview videos with Chris Hedges last night and I was a little surprised to hear him mention Mr. Khashoggi as a close friend, and praise him as a reporter.

      None of what I read in the news regarding the Saudis and the U.S. makes any sense to me at all anymore.

  30. drumlin woodchuckles

    About our Trade Negotiators negotiating with Britain, EUrope, etc. over “non-tariff barriers to trade” . . .
    “non-tariff barriers to trade” is code for “higher safety standards, better regulations, etc.”

    Big Agra wants to tear down EUrope’s food safety standards so Big Agra can forcibly sell-inject its GMO-Petrochemical sh*t corn, sh*t soy, etc. Chlorinated chicken, feedlot sh*t beef and so forth. And assuming the Lords of EUrope give in and surrender, the door will be kicked open for the forcible sale into EUrope of Chinese melamine-milk, lead-paint flower, fecal-antibiotic honey, lead-paint herbs and spices and so forth.

    Then again, assuming the Lords of EUrope give in on this, those countries of EUrope whose citizens are overwhelmingly against toxichemical GMO sh*t food may well drop out of the EU in such force and numbers that the Lords of EUrope won’t be able to keep the EU in existence at all.

  31. kareninca

    re black men empathizing with Kavanaugh: I chatted yesterday with an acquaintance who is white and in his early 60s. He lives here in Silicon Valley – he grew up here – and he lives in his van and ekes out a living as a gardener. He is in terrible shape due to joint problems and expects to go on disability fairly soon. He’s an ex hippy, although not really ex, and hates Feinstein for not protecting old growth forests. He voted for Bernie twice; in the primary and as a write-in for the election.

    But – he told me that he will vote for Trump in 2020. Because of the Kavanaugh hearings. He said that he could not believe that something someone did as a teenager was being held against him 30+ years later. He picked up a book and flipped to the section on McCarthy (we were at a free book event) and pointed and said that that was where we were again.

    Just an anecdote, but I found it interesting.

  32. Conrad

    I’m surprised the Facebook ad fraud suit isn’t getting blanket coverage from every old media outlet in the world. I’m not surprised about the suit itself though.

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