2:00PM Water Cooler 10/23/2018

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Ford Says Tariffs Makes US Steel Costliest in the World” [Industry Week]. “Domestic hot-rolled coil — the benchmark price for American-made steel — has gained 28% in 2018 as the administration implemented tariffs on imports. The levies helped push the price to about $920 a metric ton earlier this year, the highest in a decade. U.S. steel currently costs about $150 more per metric ton than steel in China, the world’s biggest consumer, which accounts for more than half of global demand.”



“Congresswoman makes last-minute trip to Ottumwa” [KTVO]. • Missed this one…

“Sanders thanks Iowa voters for giving momentum to progressive agenda” [The Hill]. “‘Why it was important in terms of what Iowa did in that very first caucus, is that it showed the American people that the ideas that we were talking about were not radical ideas or extremist ideas or ideas that were outside of the mainstream,’ Sanders said at a rally at Iowa State University. ‘So it started off in Iowa and it went to New Hampshire and it went across the country. And ideas that just three years ago were perceived to be radical and extremist ideas are now ideas that are supported by the vast majority of the American people. Thank you Iowa,’ he added.” • Silly person. Politics is about personalities, not ideas.

Saying it with a sneer:

This is, in fact, effective and creative advance work by the Trump campaign (or whatever it is now). I would have thought 2016 was a teachable moment for liberal Democrats about underestimating the opposition, but apparently not.


13 days until Election Day. 13 days. That’s less than two weels, still a long time in politics, although with the pernicious spread of early voting — Election Day should be a national holiday — not so long as it used to be.

Lots of prognostications on the Blue Wave:

“Pelosi says Dems would ‘handily’ win House if election were held today” [The Hill]. “‘If the election were held today, the Democrats would handily win the House,’ Pelosi said during a CNN political forum. ‘I can only speak in the present tense, because you never know in another couple of weeks [as I keep saying….] . … I’m telling you what would happen today. But we fully intend to own the ground, not yield one grain of sand, and get out the vote,’ she added. ‘And that makes all the difference.'” • Pelosi measuring the drapes for the Speaker’s office? Not a good look.

“Bernie Sanders casts doubt on blue wave” [The Hill]. “‘I know a lot of people talk about this blue wave and all that stuff, but I don’t believe it,’ Sanders told Hill.TV’s ‘Rising’ co-host Krystal Ball during an interview that aired on Monday. Sanders said he believes that the outcome from Nov. 6 will be a ‘very, very close’ situation and predicts that only a ‘handful of votes’ will determine whether Democrats are able to regain control of the House or Senate. ‘We have an entity able to stand up to [President] Trump or we don’t,’ the former presidential candidate said.” • Sanders, unlike Pelosi, conveys the impression that your vote counts. Odd.

“Dems lower expectations for ‘blue wave'” [The Hill]. “Talk of a blue wave sends the signal that Democrats have races in the bag, and that voters don’t need to come to the polls on Nov. 6…. At the same time, there are real reasons for Democrats to fret over their chances given President Trump’s rising approval ratings, fallout from the fight over Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation fight and a strong economy the White House has taken credit for delivering.”

UPDATE “3 weeks out: Democrats lead but anything could happen” [Bleeding Heartland]. From last week, still germane: “A wave far larger than most anticipate is possible…. BUT…. There are 31 seats where the lead is less than 5 points. If a swing as small as 3 points were to take place between now and election day in these seats, the battle for control for the House would essentially become a dead heat. As I have noted before here, the generic ballot polling has been off by about 3 points in every mid-term election since 1998.

“Republicans outpacing Democrats in early voting in key states, NBC News finds” [NBC News]. “Republican-affiliated voters have outpaced Democratic-affiliated voters in early voting in seven closely watched states [AZ, FL, GA, IN, MT, MV, TN, and TX], according to data provided by TargetSmart and independently analyzed by the NBC News Data Analytics Lab…. Republicans typically dominate early voting by absentee ballots, while Democrats tend to have the advantage with in-person early voting.”

“Democratic candidates for Congress have raised a record-shattering $1 billion this election” [MSN]. “The $1.06 billion raised through the end of September surpasses the nearly $900 million collected by Republican candidates for Congress in 2012 — previously the largest haul registered by a single party by this point in the election cycle, according to a Washington Post analysis of Federal Election Commission records. And it is the first time since 2008 — when Democrats swept the White House and both chambers of Congress — that Democratic candidates for House and Senate have outraised Republicans in direct contributions to candidates’ committees.” • Now, if you want to talk about a green wave….. And not that kind of Green!

“Midterm elections: 5 hot races that could help decide House control” [USA Today]. “‘There is no weirder race in the country than in West Virginia’s 3rd District,’ [the Cook Political Report’s David] Wasserman said. [State Sen. Richard Ojeda] is running against state delegate Carol Miller, a bison farmer who wants to “cut the bull out of politics,” for the seat being vacated by GOP Rep. Evan Jenkins. Trump has Miller’s back in this southern West Virginia district that he won by nearly 50 percentage points. His campaign endorsed her as “pro-coal, pro-Second Amendment, and pro-Trump.” Ojeda, meanwhile, has strong support from teachers after helping organize this year’s teachers’ strike in the state. Ojeda is enjoying a fundraising advantage, but polls indicate a close race. In 2016, Ojeda won state Senate-District 7 with 59 percent of the vote while Trump won there with 77 percent of the vote. In fact, Ojeda was among those Trump voters, after supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., in the Democratic presidential primary over the nominee, Hillary Clinton. He voted for Trump to support coal miners.” • If Ojeda wins, we might be looking at a blue tsunami. This article is a good summary of the conventional wisdom.

“So, we asked our friends at the Wesleyan Media Project, which tracks and analyzes ad spending, to sort out which Senate and House races had seen the most ads this cycle” [Lisa Lerner, On Politics]. In the House:

1. Montana (at large) – 65,500

2. Georgia 6th – 33,962

3. New York 22nd – 29,903

4. Maine 2nd – 24,603

5. Kentucky 6th – 20,200

Damn. My bad. I wish I had known about the Wesleyan project, because I would have put it in my worksheet (though probablys endorsements are a good proxy).

AR-02: Quite a remarkable ad:

I don’t have enough of an ear to know whether a black voter would find this authentic (though presumably Republican consultants did their best). But yeah, justice for Emmett Till and #BelieveWomen would have been at odds in principle. Liberal Democrats can’t admit that, and now a Republican is saying it….

ME-02: “New poll shows Mills ahead of Moody and a 2nd District dead heat” [Bangor Daily News]. “This was the second recent survey showing Poliquin and Golden tied. Poliquin, a Republican, and Golden, a Democrat, were virtually tied in the Pan Atlantic survey of 251 likely voters in the 2nd District. The incumbent got 37 percent of support to the challenger’s 36.5 percent. Another 9 percent were backing one of the two independents — Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar — with 17.5 percent remaining undecided in the race.” • That’s a lot of undecideds!

ME-02: Because Democrats can do no wrong:

For many years, Maine’s Democrats have had nothing to say about deindustrialization or falling life expectancy. (To be fair, the corrupt Democrat in the Baldacci administration did use mill closures as an excuse to site a landfill near enough to the Penobscot so that when the liner fails, as all liners do, we’ll have to worry about polluted water. The profits of the private operator, naturally, go out of state. But at least we get the tipping fees!) At least when Trump came to ME-02, he mentioned the mills closing. Democrats persisted in running candidates with no visible accomplishments (Emily Cain, now having failed upward to Emily’s List, was beaten like a gong by Poliquin. Twice, because of course they ran her twice.) It’s also rational to worry about Medicaid, for all that its LePage opposing it, because Maine is a very poor state. What Maine really needs is Medicare for All, so we don’t have to pick up any of the tab with state taxes. Which Matty, being ignorant or tendentious, doesn’t mention. The last time I came back from my undisclosed location, first day for me and new tenants because of the semester change, guess what I found in the bathroom? On my very first night? A SYRINGE, that’s what.* So the opioid crisis finally reached the oasis of my little university town. And the Democrats have had nothing to say about that, either. For years. Golden, at least, is sound on Medicare for All and opioids, in addition to broadband. Maybe if the Democrats ran decent candidates with programs that spoke to the desperate needs of voters, it wouldn’t be so trivially easy for Republicans to deflect? Blindingly white, forsooth. NOTE * Also a big pink bottle of Caladryl. For the itching.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why Geography Makes It Difficult for Democrats to Get Along” [Election Law Blog]. “[A] Democrat with a relatively progressive platform might be able to facilitate high turnout and win the statewide popular vote. But an identical platform would be too far left for the pivotal districts that determine the make-up of the state’s congressional delegation or state legislature…. Democrats have been relatively concentrated in urban districts since the New Deal, and for decades, their geography made it necessary for them to field congressional candidates who could win on “Republican” turf in the suburbs and countryside. The Democrats achieved this not by nudging their platform to the left or right, but by avoiding a coherent platform altogether.” • Good piece, and I understand this argument; it’s conventional wisdom. However, I think the political class’s notion of “left” and “right,” at least with respect to policy, is greatly at odds with what actual voters are thinking and feeling. The discrepancy between what America is, and what we have been taught that it should be, is so great as to lead to a baseline sense of desperation in the 90% (although not, of course, in the 10%, whose salaries steadily increased since the crash, while those of the 90% remained flat or decreased). And I don’t think this is solely a white thing; think of the level of betrayal felt by the citizens of Flint, for example. That’s why a program of campaign finance reform, health care, and broadband would have appeal in rural areas across the board. How can the greatest nation on earth have broadband that sucks? And here is a second example:

“Majority of Republicans supports ‘Medicare for all,’ poll finds” [The Hill]. “The survey, conducted by Hill.TV and the HarrisX polling company, found that 52 percent of Republicans polled said they supported the option, while 48 percent said they opposed it. Twenty-five percent said they ‘strongly’ supported ‘Medicare for all,’ while 27 percent said they ‘somewhat’ supported it.” • So, only a minority of Republican voters support the pissant Heritage Foundation Rube Goldberg device — the Republican plan, road-tested by Mitt Romney — that Obama foisted upon us 2018 – 2010 = 8 years ago. Why? Because it sucks. That’s why. Now, I grant this survey isn’t granular to the district level. So attack those districts! What an opportunity! And if the Democrats aren’t careful, the next Trump, a Trump with the rough edges sanded off, is going to seize that issue and run with it, and lock in Republican power for another generation (as soon as they can figure out how to package Medicare for All as supporting the free market. Don’t laugh).

Stats Watch

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, October 2018: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District expanded at a slower than expected pace in October” [Econoday]. “Leading the slowdown to a level well below the consensus forecast was a sharp decline in shipments…, and a sizable decrease in new orders…. But the employment component continued to show strength, with the number of employees rising.” And: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories declined – but all remain in expansion. This was the weakest report since April 2018” [Econintersect].

The Bezzle: “Supplier bankruptcies renew suspicion that Tesla isn’t paying up” [Supply Chain Dive]. “In August a survey conducted by Original Equipment Suppliers Association, an automotive supplier organization, found Tesla’s suppliers are increasingly concerned they will not get paid. In September, Musk tweeted that he was in “delivery logistics hell,” struggling to get finished cars to their new owners. This prompted Musk to launch an initiative to manufacture roll-on, roll-off cargo trucks.” • Note however that the source is a short seller. Nothing wrong with that, but for the headline to be accurate there would need to be actual bankruptcies, and no suppliers are named.

The Bezzle: “For-profit college chain files (for receivership)” [Credit Slips]. “While I am generally not in favor of bankruptcy discrimination, the ineligibilty of bankrupt colleges for taxpayer funding is eminently sensible. Given the weakness of institutional gatekeeping and the political challenges to shutting down predatory schools, and the for-profit college business model in which taxpayer grants and loans are used to prepay tuitions for students who are frequently misled about career chances, we don’t need bankruptcy to give these failing schools a new lease on life.” • Ouch.

Tech: “iPhones are hard to use” [fawny.blog]. “Don Norman told us several times several years ago () that iPhones hide their functions. Apple never admits it makes mistakes. The next time you hear Tim Cook or somebody recounting a tale of a guy who crashed his car and was able to call a paramedic using his Apple Watch, think instead of millions of people who cannot use their phones for basic or truly serious needs…. The gold standard here is Undo. You have to shake your iPhone (or giant iPad Pro) to undo an action. You discover this by accident as you get up from a restaurant table with your phone in your hand, only to be greeted with an Undo Typing dialogue box. Unless you are an expert, you have no idea what just happened. If you really want and need the Undo feature, turn it on with AssistiveTouch. But AssistiveTouch itself has a diabolical user interface.” • This is an impressive polemic. iOS really is hosed. It’s hosed really bad. It’s like the company that invented the Human Interface Guidelines for the Mac decided not just to throw them out, but to sabotage and degrade every good UI/UX decision therein. Unfortunately, Android is no better. Then again, it’s thin!

Fodder for the Bulls: “The yield spread between long-term and short-term Treasury securities is known to be a good predictor of economic activity, particularly of looming recessions. One way to learn more is through a careful scrutiny of the historical variation of such yield spreads and how they relate to the current slope of the Treasury yield curve. The results suggest that the recent flattening of the yield curve implies only a slightly elevated risk of a recession in the near term relative to any other month” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco].

Health Care

“Is Medicare for All the Answer to Sky-High Administrative Costs?” [New York Times]. • Read on. The answer will surprise you! “Medicare’s direct administrative costs are not only low, but they also have been falling over the years, as a percent of total program spending. Yet the program’s total administrative costs — including those of the private plans — have been rising. ‘This reflects a shift toward more enrollment in private plans,” Mr. [Kip] Sullivan said. “The growth of those plans has raised, not lowered, overall Medicare administrative costs.'” • It is very gratifying to see a single payer stalwart like Kip Sullivan quoted as the authority he indeed is. And, contrary to the headline, it does look like Medicare has a bad neoliberal infestation that needs to be dealth with. “Free at the point of delivery” is a good starting point, because that strikes a deathblow at the complex eligibility determination process so beloved by markets-first liberals.


“Judge Slashes Punitive Damages in Roundup Cancer Case” [Courthouse News]. “Although she refused to overturn a jury verdict against Monsanto finding its weed killer Roundup caused a San Francisco Bay Area man’s terminal cancer, a California judge on Monday left open the possibility of a new trial if the man refuses a $211 million reduction in his punitive damages award. In a written ruling, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos denied Bayer-owned Monsanto’s motion to overturn the $289 million verdict, writing ‘there is no legal basis to disturb the jury’s determination that exposure to GBHs [glyphosate-based herbicides] was a substantial factor in causing his NHL [non-Hodgkin lymphoma].'”

“The Super Bowl of Beekeeping” [New York Times]. “Bees are central to an enormous agricultural industry — about one of every three mouthfuls of food we eat wouldn’t exist without bee pollination — and beekeepers’ custodianship of billions of these delicate animals is as much an art as it is a science. Beekeepers themselves, Solomon confided, are funny creatures: solitary in the field, trying to anticipate the needs of a finicky insect and, unlike that insect, social only once in a while. ‘We’re an odd bunch, very individualistic in nature,’ she said. ‘But we’re in trouble.'” • Any normally gregarious beekeepers in the commentariat? Or is that comment accurate? And how are your bees doing?

“Meet the Endoterrestrials” [The Atlantic]. “Geobiologist Alexis templeton] is one of a growing number of scientists who believe that the Earth’s deep subsurface is brimming with life. By some estimates, this unexplored biosphere may contain anywhere from a tenth to one-half of all living matter on Earth. Scientists have found microbes living in granite rocks 6,000 feet underground in the Rocky Mountains, and in seafloor sediment buried since the age of the dinosaurs. They have even found tiny animals—worms, shrimp-like arthropods, whiskered rotifers—among the gold deposits of South Africa, 11,000 feet below the surface. We humans tend to see the world as a solid rock coated with a thin layer of life. But to scientists like Templeton, the planet looks more like a wheel of cheese, one whose thick, leathery rind is perpetually gnawed and fermented by the microbes that inhabit its innards. Those creatures draw nourishment from sources that sound not only inedible, but also intangible: the atomic decay of radioactive elements, the pressure-cooking of rocks as they sink and melt into the Earth’s deep interior—and perhaps even earthquakes.” • Holy moley. I hope the smart ones don’t decide to come up to the surface and deal with the problem.

“Why Are Japan’s Cherry Blossom Trees Blooming in Fall?” [Smithsonian]. • For the same reason my forsythia blooms in September, I would think.

Class Warfare

“Mike Davis on the Crimes of Socialism and Capitalism” [Jacobin]. “For decades, one of the most popular methods of undermining socialists has been an appeal to the atrocities that occurred in Stalin’s Russia and Mao’s China. Horrifying episodes like the Great Chinese Famine and the Soviet famine under Stalin are brandished as proof that socialism can never work and is too dangerous to attempt, so we’re better off with capitalism. Mike Davis’s book Late Victorian Holocausts complicates that story significantly. Capitalism has an enormous death toll of its own. If famines are the yardstick we’re using to measure the suitability of a global economic system, then capitalists have a lot to answer for.” • More grim reading….

“Marriott Workers Strike, Spanning Seven Time Zones” [Labor Notes]. “Seven thousand hotel workers across the U.S. are on strike against Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain. A strike that started with seven hotels in Boston quickly spread to San Francisco, San Diego, San Jose, Oakland, Detroit, and Hawaii…. UNITE HERE locals in different regions are negotiating separately, but rallying around a common slogan: “One Job Should Be Enough.” While local issues separate workers in different cities, the strikers have three core sets of demands: job security, an end to unsafe overwork, and better wages and benefits. Courtney Leonard, a server at the Westin Boston Waterfront, commutes 100 miles a day round trip from New Bedford. She’s originally from Boston, but can’t afford to live in the city.” • A 100 mile commute…

“Poll: Drug/opioid abuse and economic concerns cited as biggest problems facing rural communities” [Harvard School of Public Health]. “The poll of 1,300 adults living in the rural United States found that a majority of rural Americans (57%) say opioid addiction is a serious problem in their community… On economic issues, rural Americans largely hold negative views of their local economy, but nearly one-third have seen economic progress in recent years. A majority of rural Americans (55%) rate their local economy as only fair or poor, while over the past five years, 31% say their local economy has gotten better, and 21% say it has gotten worse.”

News of the Wired

Houses for introverts. Worth reading:

Remember when there were print advertisements with finely crafted prose? (“Only amateurs use short copy.” –David Ogilvy)

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes:

The well-tended landscaping at the Getty Villa in Malibu, California.

(Image recorded with 200 ISO [Safe to go with a low ISO that requires slower shutter speeds because there are no clouds diminishing the light and I’m not photographing anything that I’m concerned about precisely stopping action of—because I’m not using a tripod I won’t go any lower than this though], a shutter speed of 1/500th which should be quick enough for me to keep the camera still during the shot, and an aperture of f8. Most of the subject is greenery in full sun, but I want to see into the shadows a little, so I have to sacrifice the beautiful aqua of the pool, letting it wash-out.)

That’s a shame about the aqua. There’s nothing more splendidly Californian than an aqua pool. This from David Hockey:

I like hearing about the technical details of the shot, for those who are interested in that sort of thing. Cell phones still can’t do everything!

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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. Tvc15

    I apologize in advance to Lambert for adding this link to his terrific daily water cooler topics, but since Yves and NC were specifically mentioned I thought it would be interesting to share. The video is titled, “Should we trust MMT?” with Joe Bongiovanni. It is 48 minutes long and I only made it about 20 minutes after becoming too annoyed. Yves/NC are mentioned at 18 minutes and 40 seconds in. Joe says he was part of the NC commentariat for years, but was banned due to his thoughts that MMT proponents are misleading and don’t “tell the real truth”.


      1. Tvc15

        Not being an economist or comfortable enough with my understanding of MMT to know if what he was saying had merit. Plus the style and lack of preparation from the interviewer other than wanting her expert to debunk MMT for her right wing followers.

          1. JohnnyGL

            I’m 30 min in….skip ahead to that point to get to the meat of his discussion.

            He keeps repeating that he wants monetary “reform”, so that the money system ‘works for the people’. But he doesn’t say what that change is or why MMT gets it wrong in its understanding of how the system works.

            He says “govt doesn’t create money by spending”. Except, yes, it does. It then chooses to offset that spending later with bond auctions.

            He doesn’t make a distinction between public and private debt, doesn’t distinguish between currency users and issuers. No distinction between stocks and flows. No discussion of capacity constraints, inflation.

            He actually fear-mongers about the debt around the 38-39 min mark. Says there’s going to be tough times when we get austerity (in addition to environment collapsing).

            He talks a lot about how ‘the monetary system works’, but it’s clear to me he doesn’t get how the banking system works. I don’t think you can understand one without the other very well.

            MMT can offer a clear explanation of why:

            1) 30 yr treasury bond yields fell rapidly in the 1980s while deficits were exploding.
            2) 30 yr treasury bond yields rose in 2000, hitting 7% on the 30 yr at one point, when the government was running surpluses.
            3) Japan has a functional currency and economy with massive debts and deficits for many years.

            Conventional economics has NO explanation for the above phenomenon.

            1. ChristopherJ

              Cheers Johnny – he’s been here before and took umbrage to the NC crew saying that taxation for revenue is obsolete. Don’t make me go there.

              Said NC doesn’t like criticism and Yves had banned him… I’d be banned too if I thought that!!

              Got some trolls on Youtube worked up. I’ll go and finish them off after I do a little more digging on Joe and his Kettle Pond Institute for Debt Free Money.

              He had a go at Bill Mitchell on this post recently:


              IMO, Tvc, if you want some relevant stuff, look at how Jimmy Dore (a comedian turned activist) gets his head around MMT – Stephanie Kelton was good and has been linked here and also Chris Hedges

              People like JD are very influential and I can see a heightened awareness out there that we are not going to get anywhere now by being polite and civil.

              That’s how we got here in the first place

              1. Plenue

                “he’s been here before and took umbrage to the NC crew saying that taxation for revenue is obsolete.”

                It’s not just obsolete as in “we don’t need to do this anymore”. Instead it literally doesn’t happen at the federal level.

              2. Yves Smith

                I don’t remember the details, but he was banned for behavior. The problem that so often happens is that the people on losing sides of arguments here (as in not just the moderators but the commentariat does a good job of debunking their claims) is they don’t give up and start going into various forms of bad faith argumentation: broken record, straw manning, or just plain getting abusive. Then they try to claim they were banned due to their position, as opposed to how they started carrying on when they couldn’t make their case.

        1. chuck roast

          Holly Seeliger, the interviewer, was once and may still be, a member of the Portland Maine Green Party. A few years ago, just after the November election season, she ran for Green Party Chairperson of the Portland Greens. At the time she was a relatively high-profile Green having been elected to the Portland School Board. During the election season she took a position of supporting a Democrat for Mayor who was running against an Independent and a Green who was at the time Chairperson of the Green Party.

          The Green who was running for Mayor was a hard-working, well-spoken and respected member of the Green Party. Seeliger’s support of the Democrat during the race razed a few eye-brows, but one could argue that the Democrat was probably going to win (which he did), and she she would be a more effective member of the School Board if he viewed her as an ally.

          At the subsequent Green Party caucus and election of the new chairperson, it was pointed out to very disturbed Seeliger that while she was welcome to endorse anybody she wanted as a private citizen and a member of the Green Party, this course of action was inconsistent, contradictory and completely inappropriate for a leader of the party whose primary function was promotion of Green Party values and Green Party members. Seeliger argued that she should have it both ways. Seeliger was not elected Chairperson, but neither was her opponent who had her own issues.

          And they say that the Greens are just a dysfunctional club…

          1. Yves Smith

            The AMI people are a real problem, and the worst is that they use enough lingo that sounds MMT-like that they confuse people about MMT. They are also presumptuous as hell. I was part of an Occupy Wall Street group, Alternative Banking. Every week, a group came and kept trying to hijack the discussion to be about Positive Money. They got air time because that’s Occupy but everyone else regarded them as an annoyance.

            One Sunday, the president of AMI showed up in a suit, uninvited, and expected to be able to take over the group and lecture. The rules were everyone on stack got only 2 or 3 minutes each (I forget how long) and then had to cede the floor. Since everyone else was too polite, I was the one who had to shut him up by blowing up at him and telling him he was totally out of line and had no business abusing the group’s rules. That is the only time in my WASPy life I have carried on like that in a public setting. Broke up the meeting, which reconvened only after he left.

            1. ChrisAtRU

              #Yikes … I learned early on to avoid the #PositiveMoney trap, and this anecdote should convince others of the same.

        1. ChristopherJ

          Old news now, Tvc, but I did pen a long form comment on Youtube, which you can see by going back to the video.

          Don’t know how people like Joe get any airtime, part right, mostly wrong.

          Thank you

  2. Lambert Strether Post author

    One more:

    A new poll finds tight races in key House battleground districts Vox:

    With the 2018 midterm elections just two weeks away, it appears neither Democrats nor Republicans have much reason to breathe easy. A new poll of battleground House districts shows a tight race, with Democrats holding a small lead over Republicans that’s well within the margin of error.

    A Washington Post/Schar School poll published on Tuesday found that in 69 of the most contested House districts in the country, 50 percent of voters support Democratic candidates and 47 percent support Republicans. As the Post notes, it’s a notably small lead for Democrats given their hopes of taking back the House of Representatives.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      There is a story about one person’s #3 horse loses to the other person’s #1 horse, but have 2 wins by going with his #2 vs the other’s #3, and #1 vs. #2.

      So, 50% of those 69 district vs 47% does not really tell the story, in addition to perennial ‘margin of error.’ The key is that each district must be accounted for individually.

    2. dcblogger

      unfortunately in places like Georgia, Florida, and Kansas, Democrats need to win this by theft proof margin.

      1. flora

        Interesting thing in Kansas: big name non-right-wing GOP pols and former pols are coming out publicly against the right-wing pols running for Gov and 2nd Dist. congressional race. Some have publicly announced support for the moderate Dem candidate. Earlier post today asked if people could get over their partisan divide to join in effort to promote what they agree on. In Kansas, at least, there’s agreement on both sides of the isle (though not by all) that the extreme right-wing experiment in Kansas has failed.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        That’s very true, but if you play on a muddy field, you still have to win.

        And as I’ve said a million times, the solution is for the Democrats to expand their base. Make that a core party function. So, they could dry the field out…. but choose not to.

  3. elissa3

    It would seem that “shake-to-undo” discriminates against epileptics and (some) people with Parkinson’s. . .

      1. Eureka Springs

        Yes but will it undo the disappearance of the stereo mini out – headphone jack? Friend of mine told me she can no longer listen to audio from her phone to the car stereo and charge at the same time without it. Plus it’s a definite loss in terms of fidelity crapified. Last of all, for 500 to 1000 bucks a unit it would seem a customer could order a little customization if they wanted.

        And bring back Clarisworks. /s

      2. Partyless Poster

        That was always a beef I had with apple, they never tell you how to do anything on it, your just supposed to know. (i had a iPhone for several years and hadn’t heard of the shaking trick.
        I recently switched to a Samsung and the difference in approach is amazing,
        instead of eliminating the headphone jack to force you to buy wireless headphones that no one asked for, they keep it and supply really high quality headphones with it. (not the cheap piece of s**t white buds from apple).
        From what I’ve read my next laptop wont be a Mac either.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Back in the day, I’d pick up original macs that I found curbside, resolder the video boards, and set them up for my friends’ toddlers. In the mid-90s these friends were all PC users if anything at all. I gave one friend a mac-compatible HP inkjet I’d found. I told him he could install it himself, “Plug it in. Go to the Apple menu, select add printer”. He did, and he had to tell me what a weird experience it was: “Is that it?”

          And the macs lasted a long time, and your hard drive did not sound like a blender after two years. And they had easter eggs of practicality. Like still working back in the flatlands of Moore’s Law when when only a toddler could find a ten-year-old computer to be interesting. And you could fix a computer with solder. SE/30s were recycled into servers back when you couldn’t just carry a screen around. (Probably cut into their new user base.) I realized my 09 mini (fourth Mac I bought new, starting with Mac Classic) has an optical out in its jack, so it will be around for TV and music until it ceases. My Mom’s 2007 laptop is just sitting there with a new $20 battery and an SSD and Ubuntu. But its optical out is on the fritz. Back then the ‘Mac Premium’ was like saying ‘Kenmore costs more’. What does one you do when both sides of your syllogism fall apart?

          Now I shop for Linux-compatible. It’s not like Early Mac. At all. But its bone-headed stupidities are not the product of billionaire, middle-aged hipsters. The weirdos (I could do this, I can’t imagine wanting to) developing this are on our planet mostly. And when you’ve stopped screaming at the keyboard you don’t have to do anything again for five years.

      3. Angie Neer

        There simply is no room in the interface. The fundamental problem is a gross overestimation of how much function can be crammed onto a tiny screen with no physical controls. It is not possible to make a device like that substitute for a real computer. But apparently, a great many people decided that doing stuffing RIGHT NOW WITH THIS COOL-LOOKING THING is more important than doing stuff well.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          And I helped a journal move to PageMaker (Aldus :)) publication using a home screen of 512×342. A full 640 color at work. What happened?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Back in the day, I did a ton of work in PageMaker on the black and white (2-bit) 512s. It was insanely efficient. Of course, I 2 megs of RAM and a Bernoulli drive, so I was a power user!

            1. JBird4049

              They decided to stop using stylishly cool functional design to using coolly hip and wow to dictate their dysfunctional design by because being cool is so more important than being good.

              Steve Jobs was an ass, but he was an obsessive ass on the best functional design. Using good design often creates beautiful design, but beautiful looking design does not always create good design.

  4. edmondo

    …the next Trump, a Trump with the rough edges sanded off, is going to seize that issue and run with it, and lock in Republican power for another generation (as soon as they can figure out how to package Medicare for All as supporting the free market. Don’t laugh).

    The Republicans will sell this to America as making American business more competitive oin world commerce by lowering costs. Healthcare costs have to be eat up a huge portion of American companies employee costs. By dumping these costs onto the government, American business becomes more cost competitive around the world. (Not believing most of this myself, but it’s the argument the GOP will make.)

    I never understood why Bernie never made this appeal to the US Chamber of Commerce.

    1. Monty

      Because the chamber of commerce likes the fact that workers will take more crap, and work for less, if they know their family will lose access to heathcare if they dont. It creates a servile, frightened workforce. Just the way the oligarchs like it.

      1. Summer

        Kind of like holding the family hostage.
        Only thing missing is a clandestine drop every other Friday to pick up your paycheck…no police, come alone.

  5. Indrid Cold

    Chris Hedges adnThomas Frank have both written entire books on that Democrat urban sophisto vs rural or exurban working stiff.

      1. katiebird

        Those were nice! I grew up in an Eichler a few miles north of San Rafael. The cold floors in non-Eichlers were always a shock.

        1. barrisj

          Eichlers in Palo Alto were selling for $60-70K when we lived there…now up to $2 mil with a little upgrading…yikes!

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      Back when my literary preference was pretty much Mad Magazine, I would always stop for a VW magazine ad. Good read. Like Archie. The copy on the twitter image just pulled me along until the sell. Awesome.

      At this point my brain just won’t let me see a headline with the word “this” in it. How the shills have fallen.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      I didn’t know this about Eichler:

      One of his stated aims was to construct inclusive and diverse planned communities, ideally featuring integrated parks and community centers. Eichler established a non-discrimination policy and offered homes for sale to anyone of any religion or race. In 1958, he resigned from the National Association of Home Builders when they refused to support a non-discrimination policy.

  6. Mark Gisleson

    Ottumwa is notable because of a Hormel plant that fired half its workforce for walking out in support of the mid-1980s P-9 strike against Hormel in Austin, MN.

    “On January 25th the Hormel plant at Ottumwa, Iowa was shut down by a march of hundreds of pickets to the gates. Hormel retaliated by firing 478 workers who refused to cross the picket lines. The plant normally employs 800 workers.” https://www.iww.org/about/how-iww-differs-business-unions/TWetzel1

    I attended a rally and saw four different socialist workers parties engaged in recruitment (four of them crashed at my place, pretty sure two of them were on the ballot for statewide office in Michigan).

    This is the rural Midwest the Democrats keep writing off. No, liberalism doesn’t sell well in the heartland, but socialism sure does.

    1. Observer

      I was there too, when Local P-9 called for supporters! I still have photos. Striking families who put us up were very poor. We stayed at a home whose refrigerator was empty except for a small glass saucer of scrambled egg left over from our breakfast. Most strikers were middle-age men with families and teenagers, and out there in the farmlands, no other jobs in sight. At night, tho spirits were high! And the dancing at night carries me through the years. Midwest men can DANCE! the best dancers ever. And the best music.

    2. Jeff W

      No, liberalism doesn’t sell well in the heartland, but socialism sure does.

      People forget—or don’t know—that in the early 20th century, the heartland was a hotbed of socialism. The simplistic view of states (and regions) as immutable, “from time immemorial” ideological monoliths, perpetuated by the media—”red states”/”blue states,” conservative or liberal—is ahistorical at best.

  7. Tomonthebeach

    I wonder if all the dampening rhetoric about the fizzling blue wave will

    a) make more of Trump’s base skip voting
    b) make Trump’s base want to vote to CRUSH the libtards once and for all
    c) make more Dems skip voting
    d) encourage more Dems to vote out of fear it won’t happen

    Whose idea was this anyway?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      On the theory that

      1. the D’s have been energized since Nov. 2016 (some 23 or 24 months ago)
      2. the R’s have been energized since last month, as we see the races tightening

      It’s possibly, even likely, that the marathon runners tire out before the 100 yd dashers, unless the former are somehow inherently healthier or fitter.

      1. Synoia

        BECAUSE TRUMP RALLIES WEREN’T ENOUGH LIKE SPORTING EVENTS: The TRUMP campaign announces a tailgate party in the parking lot of the Toyota Center before…

        This is, in fact, effective and creative advance work by the Trump campaign (or whatever it is now). I would have thought 2016 was a teachable moment for liberal Democrats about underestimating the opposition, but apparently not.

        There ain’t no fixing stupid!
        One cannot fix mendacious, either!

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Keeping it looking like the decision between Pelosi Pepsi and Koch Coke is a very close call will probably discourage the bitter enders from thinking there is any alternative.

  8. MikeW_CA

    You could “package Medicare for All as supporting the free market” by pointing out that it would allow small businesses to compete with big ones by eliminating their need to arrange for health insurance for their employees — something that is much easier and more cost effective for big businesses.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      This case has been made by many. Watch the free movie Fix It online made by an American businessman re what providing even crappy insurance to his employees affects his bottom line.

    2. ambrit

      Also frame it as equalizing the cost of doing business internationally. Any kind of National Health scheme is a subsidy for that nations business class. How much of the “lower labour costs” touted in support of ‘outsourcing’ American jobs is paid for by the other countries government’s assumption of their domestic medical funding?
      This brings up the question of which business group has more ‘influence’ on the political parties and thus government, international trade or domestic production?

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Done properly (HR 676), it allows patients to choose whatever provider they want. It does not artificially constrain them with narrow networks.

      That is free market. OTOH, Medicare Advantage plans use networks.

    4. Lynne

      And Medicare for All is single payer, not single provider, right? Which means that there will be competition among hospital conglomerates and less room for under-the-table deals like the one here where the biggest hospital company bought the biggest insurance company in the state, and nobody could do anything about the fact that the insurance company suddenly would not pay for any doctor other than their own because the ACA had an antitrust waiver for medical insurance companies.

    5. Mo's Bike Shop

      it would allow small businesses to compete with big ones

      ?? This is why we don’t have single payer/MFA. Nobody wants new players entering the game.

  9. Amfortas the hippie

    That Jacobin article was good. Stalin as Thermidoran.

    so, like with Cuba,or the ongoing Honduran sh&tstorm, the “Ruling Classes” had a bit of Blowback…
    Stalinism was either Mihopped or Lihopped by the very people who rode to power and wealth to oppose it. Muck up a place that opposes your chosen zeitgeist, then make bank resisting(sic) the muckedupness.
    Fits with what happened to the Post Office, Pensions, too…

    (see next door,too, another Jacobin article that’s well worth the time:https://jacobinmag.com/2018/10/ruling-class-elites-conspiracies-antisemitism-marxism)

    1. Olga

      “Mike Davis on the Crimes of Socialism and Capitalism” [Jacobin].
      I would argue it is all a matter of perspective.
      As any elite member would tell you, elites do not give up power easily. The French revolutionaries found that out – as well as Russian and Chinese. Unfortunately – when one desires the overthrow of the established order – too often, violence may be needed. Most do not condone it – but how exactly is Chris Hedges imagining that change would come to this USA?
      The famine in the USSR (early 1930s) occurred for reasons that had little to do with Stalin – but who bothers to check the facts?
      There was a famine in India, too – and it is well documented that Churchill still shipped tons of food out of the sub-continent. Millions died – but how many in the west know about it?
      Exactly – all a matter of perspective.
      If we were to add up deaths (human, never mind the animal kingdom) directly caused by the capitalist system – and this includes the two WWs – there’d be no comparison to the (short-lived) socialist system. And the reason very little of it is put in a proper perspective is PROPAGANDA – which the west has mastered to a much better extent than the meager left.

    2. Summer

      What upset the elite the most about the Reds was not the millions of people that died under Stalin or the “socialism.” Authoritarianism can co-opt any system.
      The Reds killed royalty and elite people.

  10. taunger

    Lambert, not sure why you exhibit antipathy toward early voting. Don’t we have enough time during the incessant campaign cycle to make a decision? I don’t disagree voting day should be a national holiday, but I’m not sure that disparaging early voting helps.

    1. Fiery Hunt

      Early voting encourages “tribal” voting a la straight D or R tickets. Last minute changes in the campaigns can’t be reflected in early votes. It also has the depress the vote effect i.e. Hillary’s superdelegates meant she’d already won. It affects the media coverage and the election-day voters’ agency. Lambert may vary but that’s why I don’t like em.

      1. Arizona Slim

        I voted early in AZ. Didn’t vote straight D or R. Matter of fact, I voted all over the political map.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Don’t we have enough time during the incessant campaign cycle to make a decision?

      I think early voting encourages voting for the party, and not for the candidate, let alone the candidate’s policies, because the candidate can reveal themselves, for good or ill, up until Election Day (“Events, dear boy, events”). But if all one cares about is the brand, then by all means tick the box at the first opportunity.

      In any case, at some point the strategists will adjust, and if early voting becomes dominant, and (say) it happens in October, there will be September surprises instead. Making the stretch run more or less irrelevant. So that should be interesting.

  11. boz

    The Saker has the transcript of Putin’s comments at a recent plenary in Sochi, small snippets of which have already appeared in the media.


    About 15-20 minutes to get through (the facilitator seems like a bit of a wet blanket), but fascinating to read, if like me, most of what you hear about Putin has been filtered through the MSM.

    A couple of reflections:

    Putin does detail. He is courteous and patient. He is highly pragmatic and appears to be widely (and, for my money, effectively) briefed.

    1. Olga

      For those of us lucky enough to follow VVP in his native language – it is indeed a delight. (And – mind you – it was only after I took the time to follow him in his native language that I was able to appreciate this person and his leadership abilities. If one follows him through NYT – no chance that would give one an accurate picture.)
      He is erudite, informed, and has a wicked sense of humour, as shown in this clip:

  12. clarky90

    This could explain why, people are not flocking to the Democrats for the midterms? (disclosure, “I am not a doctor! I am only posting this for informational purposes.)

    “Sluggish schizophrenia”


    The “Psychiatric diagnosis of “sluggish schizophrenia” in political dissidents in the USSR, was used for political purposes. It was was most prominently used in cases of dissidents. According to … Robert van Voren, the political abuse of psychiatry in the USSR arose from the conception that people who opposed the Soviet regime were mentally sick since there was no other logical rationale why one would oppose the sociopolitical system considered the best in the world….”

    1. Summer

      Abuses of psychiatry have been around as long as psychiatry and used by bad actors of a variety of political beliefs.

      The Democrats struggle with their “flock” because they can’t keep large enough numbers of them on the voter rolls in key places. All that big money influence and it never influences that major problem. You’d think they’d cut the polling survey budgets and throw it all at voter registration and turnout. They don’t try to win, they are more concerned with maintaining the ideological “balance of power.”

      But whatever happens in any election, that major problem becomes a footnote compared to the much broader discussion on personalities and “messaging.”

  13. cm

    Interesting twitter post from our great friends & ally, the Saudis – where Khashoggi’s son shakes the hand of his father’s murderer.

  14. Tom67

    Re your quote: “And if the Democrats aren’t careful, the next Trump, a Trump with the rough edges sanded off, is going to seize that issue and run with it, and lock in Republican power for another generation (as soon as they can figure out how to package Medicre for All as supporting the free market. Don’t laugh).”
    Just for reference:in the very first Republican debate when Fox TV tried to bury Trump they accused him of having advocated single payer in the past. Check this out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zFRjExsfTk
    Trump cooly waved this away by saying the time hasn´t come yet.
    A Russian friend of mine is staying with an American friend in NYC right now. My American friend (I am German) is a true Democrat and liberal. By profession he is a very well off theatrical entrepreneur. My Russian friend wondered how Trump had ever become president because he never met somebody in this circle who had voted for the current president. One day my American friend took the Russian to show him Republican voters. Very simple: they drove to New Jersey to a McDonalds where the average person is about twice the weight of a good NYC liberal. It is class, class, class. Just like Thomas Frank is saying.
    Honestly Sanders is the only politician who gets all that. I fervently hope that he or somebody like him will pull through. Otherwise we will really get some Trump with single payer.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      I fear this, too…that the demparty leaves the healthcare birdnest on the ground, and some otherwise evil buffoon picks it up and runs with it. I could even envision some Buzz Windrip analog doing UBI under the auspices of the earned income tax credit(milton friedmann).
      I haven’t worked out how they would fit such universalism into their tribal othering habits, however.
      Ive mentioned before that there’s a right wing crazy person on the city council in our one town who ran on a city/county owned solar farm(sewer socialism, now tied up with opportunism from the former tax appraiser, wanting to lease land for the project,lol)
      Perhaps the arrival of post-ideology we sometimes hear lamented looks just like this.
      woe to the former party of Jefferson if so. I’ll also note that in the last election, it sure looked like the frelling GOP contained more actual democracy than the party of that name.
      and I seem to remember the Texas GOP platform containing relatively non-weasel words regarding legalising weed(and hemp).
      I’m all for a kinder, gentler and less frothing republican party and base…I just worry that this is naked opportunism, without any real substance, and wonder what ugliness the men behind the mind%&ck intend to keep.

      1. Matthew

        Free healthcare for citizens, no healthcare for immigrants? Or something to that effect. Go as far as you can. Make it dependent on other racialist or nativist tradeoffs. Get support for those by using healthcare as a carrot.

  15. ambrit

    That they will rise from the depths to brush aside the vermin inhabiting the surface of their world is scary, but comprehensible.
    Occult Masters have warned us.
    Colin Wilson’s “The Mind Parasites.”
    The Hammer film “”X” the Unknown.”
    Conan Doyle’s “When the World Screamed.”
    C. S. Lewis’ Perelandria Cycle treats Worlds as being Entities. (Out of the Silent Planet.)
    I could go on, but They might not like that. Sort of like politics.

  16. Widowson

    Re: Marriott Workers Strike, Spanning Seven Time Zones, I attended the DeviceTalks Boston event a few weeks ago and noticed that a ring of marching picketers w/ megaphone-toting chant coxswain had set up shop right outside one of the banks of glass doors on the northeast corner of The Westin Boston Waterfront hotel. I was there early– before 8:00AM– and the picketers were already drawing Westin security to that corner of the building that seemed to be nervously reporting on their efforts from the inside; either hotel or show staff ultimately set-up some curtains to block show attendees from seeing what the ruckus was all about and preventing an exit through those doors. I attend a UU church in New Hampshire and am no stranger to pickets, but I will say the Marriott Workers had one HUGE advantage that I suggest all other marchers of conscious should employ: they were rhythmically beating on an ENORMOUS drum that reverberated throughout the hotel and I bet a good portion of Boston’s Seaport District. There was no concealing it, and I suspect it drew legions of curious onlookers. If you want to be noticed, I suggest that you bang on your drum(s)!

  17. Eureka Springs

    Well I’m just a white native Arkansan. But I can say I laughed and appreciated the radio ad. Republicans and Democrats deserve each other and this type of ad. It’s superbly representative of who they are. And I don’t know how many people listen to the radio anymore, but it will make many, not just blacks who do hear it say, that’s right.

    As for the rest of us, the super plurality, they better not give us an alternative.

      1. Eureka Springs

        The more I think about it the more I think it could be effective in the extreme. You probably recall the article you recently linked to from the man in Little Rock who video recorded the explosive police invasion of his home? And what he had to do – leave town. Those who were there already and who remain have so many layers of experience like that. There is no justice, no decency. The only thing surprising about that story was the fact he had a camera going, it wasn’t confiscated and that he got out of town without being incarcerated or killed. To think that ad wont resonate, that somehow people are going to pretend the D party is not racist, even more so, think that party is for justice is just crazy.

        I grew up on both sides of the track in LR. Attended LR Central High Kindergarten, 1970. On occasion attended the same church as the Clinton’s while he was Gov.. In the 90’s I returned for a decade with a small business which did surprisingly well and attracted people from both sides of the tracks which astonished us all. Except for the mall few of us had ever seen this happen in LR.

        I heard more bullets fly in LR in the 90’s than I did when in SF/ Oakland 80’s thru 90’s. While out walking in LR we used to run up onto strangers porches in order to avoid the raining lead at night. Stop and listen, wait at couple of minutes to make sure the bullets were no longer flying. Sometimes that took a while. In Oakland you had to learn to duck. In LR you had to do both.

        So no, there is no justice from Democrats. Certainly no innocent until proven guilty. Drug war, mandated private insurance of any kind (fills courts and impoverishes), class war is the ball and chain now. At best this ad will rightfully suppress the turnout. That’s probably the goal of the ad. If so, it’s a winner.

        1. vidimi

          the ad is most offensive because it pretends that black americans currently do enjoy a presumption of innocence when that has never been the case. if anything, it should infuriate the target audience to support measures that would finally strip the presumption of innocence from wealthy white men.

  18. ChiGal in Carolina

    The Barometer article claiming a majority of Rs support M4A is at least on its face pretty thin stuff.

    All they asked is if people would support “expanding Medicare to every American.”

    No drilling down into copays and premiums vs taxes to pay for it (that is, whether it should be free at the POS or not). No mention of whether it would be optional or mandated, whether people could keep their employer insurance if they liked, etc.

    M4A means really different things to people depending on how it is framed.

  19. skippy


    Then some forget the whole alcohol ban on election day, with pubs -bars being closed, being that’s where the men went to vote in the first place. Yet still some waffle on about Milgram wrt freedoms…. sigh….

  20. ChrisPacific

    The iPhone rant was good, although as a parent of a child on the spectrum I didn’t like the use of ‘autism/autist’ as a slur (it’s very common, unfortunately).

    Usability tends to lag new developments in technology to a significant extent. If it’s a relatively open playing field then eventually somebody notices it, realizes that they can differentiate themselves by offering a usability improvement (like Dell did for task-oriented Web sites in the 2000s) and everyone else is forced to match them or fall behind. In a closed ecosystem dominated by two big players (maybe 2.1 if you include Microsoft) there is less pressure to perform.

  21. noonespecial

    Re: How can the greatest nation on earth have broadband that sucks?

    Part of the explanation may have been provided at a recent Senate Hearing:

    Note that the issue of expanding access to broadband receives support from both D/R senators present at this hearing.

    a. At 28m through 33m19sec a rep from Apache Telecom begins his testimony. Part of his testimony provides the following detail for the record: “The recent broadband reporting acknowledges that only 41.6% of rural areas in the lower 48 states have access to broadband services.”

    b. At 1h10min to 1h13min – An exchange between Senator Moran (Kansas) and a panelist from the telecomm industry speak to the weaknesses of the FCC’s own model for determining coverage and how the FCC allows for a 20% margin of error in drafting models of coverage. The industry rep comments at around 1h13min on the state of affairs. He notes that the margin of error in some tests is in the 30-40% range.

  22. cocomaan

    The democrats do not understand the electorate. Trump had 100k people come out to a rally. People had fun. They ate food and got to know other people.

    The idea that such an event is somehow “base” or not appropriate, even offensive, or ineffective, or whatever, is so blindingly stupid that it boggles the mind.

    Creating a festive atmosphere in order to get people to do things politically is a GOOD MOVE. It’s a HIGHLY EFFECTIVE STRATEGY.

    1. a different chris

      Hold the family blog on. The Toyota Center holds 18043 people. Why are you buying the 100K people BS.

      I do admire Trump apparently managing to sell 100k tickets for a 18k – yeah, google it for chrissake – venue. Idiots. Or, as I suspect, a bunch of zillionaires buying 1000 at a pop and handing them out. If he got 50k that would be a miracle, and he’s in Houston – population 2.3 million and the heart of the worst of the Republican party.

      Trum had the biggest inauguration evah, also, just ask him.

      Oh, don’t listen to just me


      Again: The Dems are going to win, win big, and that will do family blog all for us. That disappointment is what you need to be gloomy about, if you have to be gloomy right this moment instead of waiting for the actual election.

      1. cocomaan

        Thanks for the reality check, numbers are hype, you’re right. The tailgating was big, though, and outside the arena. How big? Who knows, we don’t know how many people were in the Peloponnesian War either.

        The funny part is that if he sold 100k tickets to people who never came, that’s a fundraising device.

        Compare this to Obama’s rally in Nevada of 2000 people.

        What was clear to me after watching clips of that Trump rally is that people were having a good time! Hoocouldanode that having a good time and enjoying yourself might be a good strategy?

      2. clarky90

        “Trump rally tickets are free”

        About 18,000 people were inside the Toyota Stadium. The other 82,000 were outside at a celebration. POTUS’s speech was broadcast on big screens for the people who had not arrived early enough to get into the rally.

    2. a different chris

      Ugh I forgot to mention. This I agree with completely:

      The democrats do not understand the electorate……. People had fun. They ate food and got to know other people.

      The idea that such an event is somehow “base” or not appropriate, even offensive, or ineffective, or whatever, is so blindingly stupid that it boggles the mind.

      Creating a festive atmosphere in order to get people to do things politically is a GOOD MOVE. It’s a HIGHLY EFFECTIVE STRATEGY.

    3. clarky90

      The Liberals put on their Anthropologist’s Khakis, broad brimmed hats and desert boots. Then they tentatively venture into “The Heart of Darkness” (flyover country). What on Earth will they discover?

      Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

      “What is the logical explanation for this phenomenon? Must take notes. Must get illustrative photos. Rush back to civilization (LA, NYC) and report to my department! Who could ever imagine…..”

      1. cocomaan

        Hah, yeah. It’s an imperial exercise. Savages toiling in the agricultural colonies of the interior fuel the excesses of the urbane.

  23. Olga

    Alastair Crooke on the JK murder:
    “When a single additional, undifferentiated, snowflake can touch off a huge slide whose mass is entirely disproportionate to the single grain that triggers it. Was Khashoggi’s killing just such a trigger? Quite possibly yes – because there are several unstable accumulations of political mass in the region where even a small event might set off a significant slide. These dynamics constitute a complex nexus of shifting dynamics.”

    1. polecat

      When I saw that image, all I could see were writhing blue lampreys .. moving in the same direction ..
      Liberally/progressively on the attack ??
      And who is it that we don’t see in the deep end … deplorables grasping at a deflated red pool noodle ?

  24. tomk

    The Maine 2nd race will be ranked choice, and which could work to Jared Golden’s advantage. It’s not unlikely that Poliquin would get the plurality of votes in the first round but end up losing, Is it possible that control of Congress could end up decided by the Supreme Court if Poliquin contests such a result in court? Should we vote for Golden even if we prefer one of the independent candidates to ensure that Poliquin loses his seat?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Excellent point! To think control of the House might rest with what the second choice of Tiffany Bond and Will Hoar voters might be:

      Will Hoar: “Will Hoar is committed to serving Maine and the communities that are the heart and soul of the second district. Will has worked in Special Education within the Maine Public School System and is involved with several community and environmentally focused organizations.” The website is a “lorem ipsum”-level debacle, but perhaps that doesn’t matter.

      Tiffany Bond. This is clever: “This site has limited graphics because there are still areas of Maine’s 2nd Congressional District with dial-up internet…let’s put that on the list of things to fix for Maine.” So is this: “What am I doing here? I’m a family law attorney, working in courts from Springvale to Millinocket. I’m also a nerd. I love to read proposed federal law. It’s a habit I picked up in college…. I would really enjoy having a full time job where I get to dig through thousands of pages of proposed legislation each month. (Really, not a stitch of sarcasm) Let’s do this. Hire me to devote my work week to turn nonsense into common sense.”

      Bond on health care:

      I have a passionate dislike for the ACA. It is deeply flawed legislation. I find it reprehensible to be mandated to purchase for-profit, horrific coverage that covers not much of anything at all and that many, including me, cannot afford to use. However, it should *only* be replaced or modified with improvements. Leaving millions to flounder, decimating people with pre-existing conditions, and limiting options for those with addiction and mental health issues are not acceptable outcomes. There must be a better solution, but it will require collaboration, out of the box thinking, and hard work to get there. The process will likely have a series of incremental steps and thousands of language fixes. There is no quick fix here. Any politician who tells you there is, well they are telling you want you want to hear, not what actually exists.

      I don’t see Medicare for All as “out of the box thinking.” Now, a National Health Service…

  25. BDBlue

    Sorry, but this is going to be a long one. Because I’ve become increasingly frustrated by the little asides in Water Cooler related to MeToo. So buckle up, buttercup.

    Justice for Emmett Till and #Believewomen are only in conflict if you want to pit groups of victims against each other. I’m not surprised to see a GOPer do it, but I’m disappointed it’s going on here. What Emmett Till and women of sexual assault (and men and children of sexual assault) have in common is that there is no justice for them. This idea that we need “due process” for the MeToo stuff is all well and good, but where exactly is it supposed to come from? What #Believewomen and #MeToo (which includes men and boys, see, e.g. Terry Crews for a famous example) are really about are holding the powerful accountable and telling the world that the current system does not work for women (or anyone else who has been sexually assaulted). How is that a bad thing? Unless you want to read #Believewomen as meaning that you should literally never doubt a woman, regardless of any other facts. That’s like saying Black Lives Matter doesn’t care about non-black lives, when everyone knows that’s right-wing crap. BLM focuses on a failing of the system. MeToo focuses on a failing system. As for due process — Larry Nassar, the largest known pedophile in sports history (that we know of) — was repeatedly reported to the authorities. At one point, a police department made a victim sit down with him so he could explain how she had “misinterpreted” his treatment for abuse. It literally took a victim of his growing up, becoming a lawyer and studying how to prove sexual assault cases, then building evidence and turning it over to the Indianapolis Star to get anyone to do anything. And in the meantime, hundreds of women and girls were assaulted, including most of the last two women’s Olympic teams. That’s not due process, it is a system that protects the powerful at the expense of the powerless. Not exactly an unknown or rare phenomenon limited to women.

    So if people really care about “due process”* for MeToo, then it would be nice to see as much time spent on discussing what that process might look like than just taking potshots at people, many of whom are sexual assault victims, who are demanding society listen to them and believe them instead of naturally lining up to defend the person in power. And that’s what #Believewomen really means – the word of the powerless should have as much credibility as the powerful. Nothing about that would not deny justice to Emmett Till. A movement is not defined by its twitter hashtag.

    * Spoiler alert, they don’t. Or, rather, I think lambert does, but most do not. It’s just another way to avoid accountability. After all, most of the more notable MeToo allegations are employment or similar situations, where due process does not apply in any other context, but now suddenly bosses want to invoke it for themselves. Please don’t try to invoke it when they fire you because you won’t work a last-minute Saturday shift. Because you can’t. But report the boss for sexual harassment and be prepared for a lot of process. So much process, you may never get through it all. Which is the other joke, companies have tons of process re sexual harassment complaints, almost all of which is designed to protect the harasser.

    Which brings me to class. I’ve seen a lot of picking at #MeToo for being focused on women (“identity”) instead of class. This confuses me since, while any woman can be a victim, poor and working class women (and men) have even fewer options of redress (I won’t even get into incarcerated men and women). See the recent McDonalds’ strike over sexual harassment, a labor action which shouldn’t be surprising since as many as 40% of women in the fast food industry experience sexual harassment. Moreover, institutional sexism — like racism — has roots in capital accumulation and labor exploitation. For an interesting read on this, see The Caliban and the Witch. Which is not to say it’s all about class, it isn’t. Racism and sexism exist, they exist for everyone regardless of class, but the effects of them are greatly exacerbated by poor and working class people’s material conditions and they are tied directly to the system that creates those conditions. To the extent people want to discuss due process, it should be about creating systems that hold the powerful accountable for their abuse of power, a challenge that extends across society.

    1. Oregoncharles

      “And that’s what #Believewomen really means – the word of the powerless should have as much credibility as the powerful.”

      It is wise, when starting a movement, to say what you “really mean.” As it stands, #Believewomen MEANS convicting defendants on the sole word of one person – the victim. If we really start doing that, women will be among the victims, along with other powerless people.

      “… only in conflict if you want to pit groups of victims against each other.” What do you mean, “want”? That’s a classic straw man. The slogan you’re defending pits them against each other – that’s Lambert’s point.

      You also say that enforcement against either assault or sexual harassment is nightmarish and often ineffective. That I’ll believe, and it’s a necessary point. Actually, law enforcement and “justice” generally are pretty nightmarish. Tangle sex up in that and it only gets worse. The point of #Metoo was to convince us that we have a problem, and it accomplished that. Slogans that mean what you don’t mean only detract from the accomplishment.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I like #MeToo as a slogan. It reminds me of the coming out process — I’m sure I’m going to radically foreshorten the history here — where amazingly courageous gay people came out to their families, their co-workers, their social networks, etc., and as a result of this collective endeavor individually acted, norms and ultimately the law were changed (and I would urge for the better). As you point out, however, coming out didn’t raise issues of subsequent adjudication, though, or if it did, I missed it.

    2. Yves Smith

      It is simply disingenuous to say that #MeToo has taken up the cause of lower class women. The restaurant industry is one of the biggest employers in America and harassment of women is pervasive. How many #MeToo luminaries have talked up the problems they face? An article IIRC in the Nation by a restaurant worker specifically discussed how #MeToo had ignored waitresses and there was no change in behavior.

      And that protest was NOT promoted by the loose #MeToo movement. See this from USA Today:

      Hundreds of McDonald’s employees, emboldened by the #MeToo movement, demonstrated outside company headquarters in Chicago on Tuesday to draw attention to alleged sexual harassment at work


      McDonald’s employees only. No show of solidarity by other women. As a result, look how small the protest was. I rest my case.

      1. vidimi

        the MeToo movement did take down that creep batali, fwiw

        and you do have to give it credit for the mcdonalds strikes, ignored though they were

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Most of my thoughts (which are evolving) on #MeToo are summed up in this post on the McDonalds strikers: I think the movement, for both ethical and pragmatic reasons, should and must center working class women. I’m not seeing that. I would be very happy indeed to see it.

      My 2015 post on the wonderful Caliban and the Witch is here. I concluded:

      However, if one takes the view that “Now is the time” — however defined — in the present day, it also behooves one to do the math; it has always seemed to me that a bare majority, 50% plus one, as sought by the legacy parties, is insufficient to do much but perpetuate, among other things, the legacy parties. It also seems to me that sintering together demographics based on identity politics — Christian, Black, White, Hispanic, Young, Old, Male, Female, Rural, Urban — can only produce these bare majorities. It also seems to me that a focus on “economic class” can’t give an account of the sort of events that Federici describes here. Hence, to bend history’s arc, some sort of grand unified field theory that goes beyond 50%, to 80%, is needed (along with the proposed provision of concrete material benefits[1]). Work like Federici’s is a step toward such a theory, and so I applaud it.

      Setting aside the lack of a unified field theory, it seems to me that without centering working class women, #MeToo remains very much in 50% plus one territory.

      Let me address your conclusion:

      To the extent people want to discuss due process, it should be about creating systems that hold the powerful accountable for their abuse of power, a challenge that extends across society.

      I think that’s exactly what due process is for, or at least should be for:

      Fundamental to all civilised systems of criminal law is the doctrine nulla poena sine lege—no punishment without a law. There are hundreds of offenses on the criminal statute books. Assault, sexual assault and indecent assault are serious criminal offenses, attracting heavy sentences upon a conviction.

      “Inappropriate behavior,” is not a category of conduct known to the criminal law. Nor, for that matter, is making a person feel uncomfortable. Awkward advances without a guilty mind is also not a criminal offense.

      Due process rights were hard won over many centuries. If we are to abandon, even with the best of intentions, nulla poena sine lege for one set of behaviors, we’d best believe it will be abandoned for other behaviors, and for purposes less benevolent. Have we thought that through?

      That said, if we think back to the Dred Scott case and its fate, it’s clear that movements can change law; we will have to see what happens with #MeToo. Feminist legal scholar Catherine MacKinnon urges[2]:

      Sexual harassment law can grow with #MeToo. Taking #MeToo’s changing norms into the law could — and predictably will — transform the law as well. Some practical steps could help capture this moment. Institutional or statutory changes could include prohibitions or limits on various forms of secrecy and nontransparency that hide the extent of sexual abuse and enforce survivor isolation, such as forced arbitration, silencing nondisclosure agreements even in cases of physical attacks and multiple perpetration, and confidential settlements. A realistic statute of limitations for all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment, is essential. Being able to sue individual perpetrators and their enablers, jointly with institutions, could shift perceived incentives for this behavior.

      However, it’s clear that the criminal justice system in which due process rights are embedded isn’t a justice system at all for this category of offenses. I wrote: “…[W]e as a society have no way of adjudicating sexual assault claims that treats the assaulted with a level of dignity sufficient for them to come forward at the time…” (The backlog of unprocessed rape kits pointed to by Tarana Burke shows this clearly, even if nothing else did.) I’m personally acquainted both with someone who was sexually assaulted, and someone who was falsely accused of “inappropriate behavior,” and I’ve wracked my brains trying to imagine a system of adjudication under which either could have received justice — the first never did, the second was ultimately cleared — but without success. I can’t see how MacKinnon’s fixes would have helped either one.

      I’d certainly welcome different and parallel forms of adjudication that would have achieved justice for my friends; nobody said “due process” had to be achieved only through the court sytem, after all. For example, although this is a limited solution that applies to neither of my friends, an alternative adjudication system that puts the burden of proof on the male if the other party is female and both are drunk would probably brake a lot of bad behavior on campus; this of course speaks to my priors, since I loathe party culture, exactly because it encourages assault.


      [1] For example, a Jobs Guarantee would make it easier for a woman to leave an abusive workplace. A Post Office Bank, by giving every woman her own checking account as a matter of right, would make it easier for women to leave abusive relationships. Sometimes it’s more effective to be indirect.

      [2] One way to redress power imbalances in the workplace — building union power, say through card check — does not appear on MacKinnon’s list of legal transformations. A second way also does not appear: Wages for restaurant workers such that they don’t have to depend on potentially abusive customers for tips. A third way also does not appear: Encouraging cooperatives. So the question of whose and which norms are to be transformed remains salient.

      UPDATE You write:

      And that’s what #Believewomen really means – the word of the powerless should have as much credibility as the powerful. Nothing about that would not deny justice to Emmett Till. A movement is not defined by its twitter hashtag.

      If that’s what it really means, that’s not what it really says. The hash tag isn’t #BelieveThePowerless, after all. I think it’s simpler to take the movement at its word. If the organizers wish to change the slogan because it’s sending the wrong message, then they will. If they don’t, then the hash tag is sending the message they want.

      I agree that movements don’t totally define themselves by the choices they make with their slogans. But those choices matter. The Bolsheviks won the day under the slogan “Peace, Land, Bread.” “Less War, Gentler Serfdom, Access to Bread” just wouldn’t have had the same impact.

    4. Democrita

      I have to voice some support for BD. It was bothering me too.

      ‘Black Lives Matter’ doesn’t mean other lives don’t. Rather it points out that in actuality, black lives don’t matter. ‘Believe women’ responds to the existing fact that women are mostly NOT believed. I’m on my phone in transit or I would supply links, but there are acres of research on this.

      Specifically in courts of law, women witnesses are seen as less credible and even the women attorneys are seen as less credible. By juries, by judges, by their fellow attorneys.

      Emmett Till’s accuser wasn’t believed because she was a woman, but because she was white. And because she said what a bunch of white men wanted to believe.

      I promise you, if judge k had been a Democrat and Ford a Republican, GOP senators would have been howling for blood. Would Gillibrand have joined in? Hmmmmm (I have a rant brewing on Gillibrand; talk about your feckless twits…)

      I acknowledge that, unlike with the BLM slogan, the two sides aren’t so compatible specificallywith regard to sex assault. Black lives mattering doesn’t negate white lives mattering in the same way that, in these cases, believing one might require disbelieving the other. So yeah, maybe it’s not ideal as a slogan, but it captures a certain reality.

      Women are, across the board, regularly, and at all levels of society, disbelieved, disregarded, and in general just plain dissed. That’s how our ideas get openly stolen in meetings.

      Like with our paychecks, I think our thoughts and words get on average maybe 70%-80% of the male equivalent in respect.

  26. VietnamVet

    The Blue Wave seems to be receding. The reason; Democrats rule for the Elite 10%. They are globalists rich from transnational world trade. They expect to cycle back into power. However, there is no bull pen. They work against policies that would mitigate the neoliberal winner takes all society and preserve the middle class. The Cold War restarted. Republican Corporatists, nationalists or not, are no alternative. The Western political-economic system, with no feedback corrections from democracy, is tearing itself into pieces. Even though, corporate media continues to say how great things are.

  27. Chris

    Any thoughts or opinions in the commentariat about the latest “Migrant Caravan”? I see Frum has an article on it in The Atlantic today. I wonder if this is the October surprise that cancels out all other surprises. Because even elite Democrats don’t really want open borders. And Republicans really don’t want open borders. So how many people will just vote R because Team Blue refuses to address the complications of the situation in a way that helps their voters?

    1. The Rev Kev

      I hope that when that caravan reaches the US-Mexican border, that the US border forces do not treat them the same way that the Israelis treat the Palestinians approaching their borders.

  28. Andrew Thomas

    To Chris: I suppose it would be bad form for “team blue” to suggest that the neo-liberal human and environmental catastrophes that are Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador are the creations of our corporate state, which received bi-partisan support in its efforts, and that letting 7,500 victims of our own savagery into “our” country-indeed, welcoming them- would be a tiny, if welcome, beginning of atonement.
    Re: the bankrupt suppliers of Tesla; they have either filed or haven’t. If they have, the Tesla receivables are assets and would be listed as assets. No names mentioned equals bs from a short seller. Tesla may well be doomed, and Musk may well crater it and take suppliers with him. But that eventuality won’t make the short seller any less of a liar.

  29. Past Time

    Tip o the Hat to Kip Sullivan!
    If you have not yet read his work, by all means dont wait. No better nor smarter person out there for all things pertaining to health care administration

  30. JTMcPhee

    It’s just a piece in SST, but gee, could the whole BS about RussiaRussiaRussia and the “hleak” of HRC’s emails start coming at;art, just like the “world order” might seem to be starting to with the butterfly wingbeat of the Kashoggi murder? “DNC Emails–A Seth Attack Not a Russian Hack by Publius Tacitus,” https://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2018/10/dnc-emails-a-seth-attack-not-a-russian-hack-by-publius-tacitus.html#more

    Although the Bernays-sauced Narrative is indeed a massive chunk of horseflesh to rein in and redirect toward paths of even truthiness…

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