2:00PM Water Cooler 10/4/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Interesting Map Showing The Importance of Canada-USA Trade By State/Province” [Merchant Marine]. “Given the relative populations and economic size, it’s not surprising that Canada probably needs the US more than the US needs Canada.” • Percentages are state (or province) GDP dependent on trade with the US (or Canada):



But he’s not even a Democrat:

(Source is a Facebook page, which at least exists.) Of course, it’s hard to top Booker running into a burning house. But not bad!


32 days until Election Day. 32 days is a long time in politics (as we are seeing right now with Kavanaugh. And where’s Rosenstein?).

“GOP, Dems battle over secret FBI report on Kavanaugh” [Associated Press]. “A high-stakes partisan row quickly broke out Thursday over a confidential FBI report about allegations that Brett Kavanaugh sexually abused women three decades ago, with Republicans claiming investigators found “no hint of misconduct” and Democrats accusing the White House of slapping crippling constraints on the probe.” • Waiting for the report to leak…

UPDATE “Here’s a list of people the FBI did NOT interview. Okay with this, Flake and Collins?” [WaPo]. “You’ll be shocked to hear that the White House has already pronounced the FBI report entirely exonerating for Kavanaugh, claiming that it is now “fully confident” Kavanaugh will be confirmed.” • It’s quite a list.

UPDATE “Key Republicans signal confidence in FBI report on Kavanaugh” [Politico]. “Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) told reporters that ‘we’ve seen no additional corroborating information’ about alleged sexual misconduct by Kavanaugh in high school and college, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said the investigation ‘appears to be a very thorough’ one. But Collins made clear that she remains undecided on Kavanaugh and wants to read more of it herself.” • I don’t think the FBI even took a whole week…

“The Kavanaugh curveball” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “We find it difficult to assess the importance of the Kavanaugh situation while his nomination remains in limbo. It does make some intuitive sense to suggest that the outcome, whatever it is, could have a limited and possibly contradictory electoral effect depending on the race. Suburban, college-educated women are both enraged at the president and likelier to be sympathetic to Ford; these voters are very important in some of the key House races, many of which are in newly-swingy territory covering affluent, highly-educated suburbs. Meanwhile, many of the key Senate races are in dark red states, where voters probably are more sympathetic to Kavanaugh and/or outraged that Democrats are trying to submarine the president’s Supreme Court pick. There are some signs that the Kavanaugh fight has stirred the GOP base, at least for the moment.”

“Is Kavanaugh Helping Republicans’ Midterm Chances?” [FiveThirtyEight]. “From a 35,000-foot view, the story in the generic ballot numbers is largely one of stability…. Republicans’ numbers have reverted back to where they were in early September, with around a 25 percent chance (1 in 4) of keeping the House. However, they’re somewhat better than than they were in mid-September… But there’s some pretty darn good news for Republicans in our Senate forecast: Republicans have been favored to keep the Senate all along. But their position has improved quite a bit over the last week in all three versions of our model.”

SCIF = “Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility”:

* * *

“Ratings Changes: House, Senate, and Governor” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “We have 11 House ratings changes, all in favor of Democrats” (CT-05, GA-07, KS-03, MN-02, NC-13, NJ-02, PA-06, PA-10, PA-16, TX-06, and TX-32.) “The Senate remains in stasis”

“After money surge, GOP frets Democrats can ‘buy rage in bulk'” [McClatchy]. “House Democratic candidates are raising money like never before in the run-up to Election Day — and their record-setting hauls are alarming already anxious Republicans who now worry that a difficult political environment is becoming even worse…. The sums — driven by small-dollar online fundraising — are unprecedented, sometimes exceeding even what many House candidates typically raise during an entire campaign. And strategists in both parties say they see this cash surge as a major inflection point in the campaign…. The Democratic donations have been driven by online contributions: ActBlue, which supplies the digital fundraising platform for nearly every candidate Democratic candidate, said this week it has processed $385 million in contributions during the third quarter to candidates and liberal causes. That was more than the group processed during the entire 2014 election cycle, it said.”

“Poll: Amid Kavanaugh Confirmation Battle, Democratic Enthusiasm Edge Evaporates” [NPR]. “Just over a month away from critical elections across the country, the wide Democratic enthusiasm advantage that has defined the 2018 campaign up to this point has disappeared, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. In July, there was a 10-point gap between the number of Democrats and Republicans saying the November elections were “very important.” Now, that is down to 2 points, a statistical tie.” • One poll….

2016 Post Mortem

“The Color of Economic Anxiety” [Current Affairs]. A visit to Milwaukee: “A few days before interviewing Mr. Royal, I spoke with Martha Love, an officer of the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County. She was confounded as to how Hillary lost the state and huge numbers of its black voters. Mr. Royal, on the other hand, was very clear in his assessment of the 2016 election. I asked him whether he considered Hillary Clinton’s campaign to be among the worst merely because of her ground-game missteps or if anything else factored in. ‘African Americans, especially African Americans in this city with [high rates of ] poverty, 50% black male unemployment for . . . years. That shows you the systemic racism that isn’t being addressed. And if you’re not going to speak to that, why would I be engaged?'” • A long read, well worth it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“A plea to end all partisan gerrymandering challenges” [Constitution Daily]. “The decades-long search for a way to judge the constitutionality of election maps that give one party’s candidates a clear advantage at the polls has been ‘an exercise in futility,’ [four state legislators from North Carolina] argued. The time has come to end that search altogether, according to the appeal in the case of Rucho v. Common Cause. The document has just become available publicly. If the Court were to do as asked, legislators with control of their chambers would have no limit on how far they could go to create for their party an enduring domination of seats in state legislatures and even in the U.S. House of Representatives.” • Yikes!

“Chelsea Clinton: ‘The horrors’ of Trump administration ‘won’t change my life'” [The Hill]. “‘I’m protected by the color of my skin, I’m protected by my privilege, I’m protected by the fact that I live in New York City, I’m protected by my immigration status,’ she told the child-filled crowd this week.” • And your class. And your hereditary status.

“Identity Politics Does Not Continue the Work of the Civil Rights Movements” [Areo]. “Universal liberalism focuses on individuality and shared humanity and seeks to achieve a society in which every individual is equally able to access every right, freedom, and opportunity that our shared societies provide. Identity politics focuses explicitly on group identity and seeks political empowerment by promoting that group as a monolithic, marginalized entity distinct from and polarized against another group depicted as a monolithic privileged entity.”

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, August 2018: “A monthly upswing for aircraft made for a 2.3 percent jump in August factory orders that masks, however, general weakness in the report” [Econoday]. “The major negatives in the report are in core capital goods… Unfilled orders are a major positive in the report…. August may have been a good month for transportation equipment but it really was a flat month for manufacturing as a whole.” And but: “The data in this series is noisy so I would rely on the unadjusted 3 month rolling averages which insignificantly improved. Remember the headline numbers are not inflation adjusted – and inflation is a big deal in this sector” [Econintersect].

Challenger Job-Cut Report, September 2018: “Inflated by long-term downsizing at Wells Fargo, layoff announcements shot higher in September” [Econoday]. And: “While the Financial sector announced the most cuts in September with 27,343, most of which are due to increased demand for online banking options, Retailers similarly continue to announce cuts as consumers pivot to online shopping, with Retail leading all sectors in job cuts” [Econintersect].

Jobless Claims, week of September 29, 2018: “Hurricane Florence and flooding in the Carolinas proved to have very limited impact on jobless claims” [Econoday]. “Jobless claims remain very low and very favorable and are consistent with downward pressure for tomorrow’s unemployment rate and for strength in payroll growth.” And: “This was lower than the the consensus forecast. The low level of claims suggest few layoffs” [Calculated Risk].

Real Estate: “How Many D.C. Suburban Office Parks Became Ghost Towns” [The American Conservative]. “While at the hotel [in Fair Lakes, Va.], I noticed something that seemed unusual in the adjacent lot: an entirely abandoned five-floor commercial building with a large parking area. As I’ve driven around the area since then, I’ve noticed a significant number of similarly vacant or mostly empty commercial buildings. This situation seems odd—Northern Virginia boasts five of the 13 richest counties in the country, and southern Maryland has two more of them. Why does one of the wealthiest areas of the United States possess such an abundance of vacant commercial real estate? …. [T]his increasingly seems to be a problem not limited to the D.C. area: 14 to 22 percent of national suburban office inventory has been assessed to be obsolete, while businesses across the country are moving back into the cities.” • Leaving out all the analysis on causality, since the author gets the subprime crisis wrong. Still, interesting anecdotal data. Readers?

Shipping: “Breakbulk: Call it a Comeback” [Logistics Management]. “As rates for container and handy-size bulk carriers have escalated, these operators have been discouraged from competing for breakbulk cargo. This is good news for breakbulk shippers and the network of domestic ports reliant on their business… [B]reakbulk does well when the global economy remains strong… While many of the nation’s largest container ports can accommodate breakbulk, a handful of smaller ocean cargo gateways are becoming competitive specialists in this niche. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, the Port of Portland is marketing its Terminal 6 as a premier breakbulk option, although it can also handle containerized cargo. Portland’s Terminal 2 is a pure-play breakbulk terminal capable of handling steel rail imports from Asia. The Port of Everett in Washington is also making a play to capture more “over-dimensional” freight with recent investments in its infrastructure. The Boeing Company, which ships aerospace parts for the new 777X is one particular beneficiary. ”

The Bezzle: “Banks in Estonia Handled $1 Trillion in Flows Dwarfing Danske” [Bloomberg]. “The sheer scale of international flows through a country whose 2017 GDP was just 23 billion euros raises serious questions about Estonia’s role in abetting Russian capital flight.”

The Bezzle: “Sotheby’s Accused of Abetting ‘Largest Art Fraud in History'” [Courthouse News]. “A Russian billionaire who allegedly overpaid to the tune of $1 billion for his collection of Picassos, da Vincis, Rothkos and Modiglianis ramped up his litigation efforts Tuesday with a suit against Sotheby’s…. Rybolovlev, who sold two Russian fertilizer producers for almost $7.5 billion in 2010 and 2011, claims that Swiss art dealer Yves Bouvier overcharged him on 38 artworks that he purchased for $2 billion between 2003 and 2015. A dozen of these masterpieces were sold through the Sotheby’s, and Rybolovlev says the auction house “was uniquely positioned to understand — and to facilitate — Bouvier’s breathtaking fraud…. Bouvier, who is linked to infamous high-profile forgers and also faces accusations of stealing famous paintings, was arrested in early 2015 in Monaco.” • Of course he was.

The Bezzle: “SEC Chairman Wants to Let More Main Street Investors In on Private Deals” [Wall Street Journal]. “The Securities and Exchange Commission wants to make it easier for individuals to invest in private companies, including some of the world’s hottest startups, the agency’s chairman said in an interview.” • Oh, good. “Hot startups.”

The Bezzle:

The Bezzle: “GM Cuts in Front of Waymo to Seal Self-Driving Deal With Honda” [Bloomberg], “Exactly how that potential deal [between Honda and Google] has unraveled isn’t clear. But Waymo’s lineage may not have helped matters. Even though it’s no longer part of Google, Waymo is still owned by Google parent Alphabet — and the concern is that it has retained some of Google’s tendency to act as a competitor even to its own partners.”

Tech: “Google is building a search engine for fact checks” [Poynter Institute]. “On Tuesday, the Google News Initiative launched the beta version [requires sign-in] of a tool that’s specifically for fact-checking content. The feature, which the company has been working on for months, uses the same signals as other Google products, such as Google News, to surface work from fact-checkers like Snopes and (Poynter-owned) PolitiFact.” • This just seems odd; the content is of such a small scale.

The Fed: “Sunny Skies for The US Economy” [Tim Duy’s Fed Watch]. “Recent data follows a familiar pattern of general strength. Household spending in August was up 3% compared to a year earlier, the fastest pace since 2016. The spending looks likely to continue on the back of solid job growth. Indeed, consumers appear quite pleased with the situation. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment measure rebounded in September while the Conference Board confidence number rose to an 18-year high…. That said, the disproportionate happiness of Republican respondents may render the confidence measures less useful as a guide to consumer spending. Since 2017, spending growth has consistently fallen short of forecasts based on confidence numbers – it is unusual to see persistent one-sided errors in the forecast. That said, even discounting the confidence numbers accordingly still leaves behind a solid pace of spending growth.” • Well, what’s wrong with being disproportionately happy? I wish I were!

Health Care

“Workers Pay Greater Share of Health Tab, Dwarfing Income Gains” [Industry Week]. “In 1999, the average total premium for a family health-insurance policy — taking in what workers and their employers paid — was about 14% of median household income. By last year, that was up to 31%. Workers’ contributions on average reached about 9% of household income.”

“Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman dies at 96” [Associated Press]. “His Nobel Prize sold for $765,000 in an auction in 2015 to help pay for medical bills and care.” • Tell me it’s not a great country!

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Dallas police, DA refuse to release Amber Guyger’s 911 call, other info in Botham Jean case” [St. Lucia News]. “First Assistant District Attorney Mike Snipes said Tuesday that the office hoped holding back information such as the 911 calls would cut back on pre-trial publicity. Snipes, the top prosecutor under District Attorney Faith Johnson, said the office wants to try the case in Dallas and not have a judge move it elsewhere in the state on grounds that jurors here have already made up their minds.”

“Chicago Could Blow if Laquan McDonald’s Killer Walks” [Truthdig]. “The city’s neoliberal mayor, Rahm Emanuel, has ‘made black neighborhoods unlivable,’ [Chicago anti-war and anti-racist activist Andy Thayer] says, by ‘starving them of public resources, closing public schools and mental health clinics.’ Could the city explode in racial violence again, on a larger, 1968-level, in response to police violence and repression? Yes, it could, thanks to how the case of Laquan McDonald and Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who killed him four years ago, is being handled by the authorities. Van Dyke is currently on trial for the shooting. But the Obama Museum is moving right along!

“Shades of Violence: Jim Crow Justice and Black Resistance in the Depression-Era South” [Southern Spaces]. • The NAACP and the International Labor Defense (ILD) duking it out….

The Black Misleadership Class 2.0:

Now that Deray is hanging out with Obama’s speechwriter making podcasts…


“Toxic Algae Bloom Spreading North in Florida” [Governing]. “Dead fish were reported along the entire coastline of Palm Beach County, which first showed signs of red tide on Saturday… After forming in the Gulf of Mexico, red tide can reach the Atlantic coast by riding the Gulf’s Loop current, which threads the Florida Straits and forms the Gulf Stream, the current that skims the Atlantic coast. Palm Beach County, where it was first detected, is at higher risk because that’s where the Gulf Stream passes closest to land. The toxic algae has driven away swimmers and littered west coast beaches with dead fish for months.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

“A staggering number of troops are fat and tired, report says” [Military Times]. “[A 2018 RAND report], featuring roughly 18,000 randomly selected participants across each of the service branches, showed that almost 66 percent of service members are considered to be either overweight or obese, based on the military’s use of body mass index as a measuring standard.” • Rather like the F-35, although at least the troops aren’t spontaneously combusting. So there’s that.

Class Warfare

“Food firms aren’t doing enough to end forced labor, report finds” [Supply Chain Dive]. “[KnowTheChain’s] second report since 2016 analyzed 38 global food and beverage companies against seven benchmark themes: commitment and governance; traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practices; recruitment; worker voice; monitoring; and remedy. Unilever again scored the highest (69 of a possible 100), followed by Kellogg, which took the second place position with a 66 score. Then came Coca-Cola, Tesco, Nestlé, Walmart and PepsiCo. Near the bottom were Monster Beverage, with a 4 ranking, Hormel Foods with 10, Tyson Foods with 12 and Conagra Brands with 18.”

News of the Wired

“The first “social network” of brains lets three people transmit thoughts to each other’s heads” [Technology Review]. “The proof-of-principle network connects three people: two senders and one person able to receive and transmit, all in separate rooms and unable to communicate conventionally. The group together has to solve a Tetris-like game in which a falling block has to be rotated so that it fits into a space at the bottom of the screen. The two senders, wearing EEGs, can both see the full screen. The game is designed so the shape of the descending block fits in the bottom row either if it is rotated by 180 degrees or if it is not rotated. The senders have to decide which and broadcast the information to the third member of the group. To do this, they vary the signal their brains produce. If the EEG picks up a 15 Hz signal from their brains, it moves a cursor toward the right-hand side of the screen. When the cursor reaches the right-hand side, the device sends a signal to the receiver to rotate the block.”

“Standing desk recommendations based on weak science” [CNN]. “A 2016 meta-analysis of 20 studies, conducted by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health and including more than 2,000 participants, found little evidence that standing or treadmill desks have any health benefits. Even the best studies they found were poorly designed, with small sample sizes and little to no followup to see whether standing desks had any real long-term effects. The researchers concluded that buying a standing desk may reduce your sitting time by as little as 32 minutes a day.” • Glad I never talked myself into one, then.

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Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (MG):

Oooh, another ruin! Trim Castle Hill of Skryne, County Meath, Ireland.

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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. Wukchumni

    “Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman dies at 96” [Associated Press]. “His Nobel Prize sold for $765,000 in an auction in 2015 to help pay for medical bills and care.” • Tell me it’s not a great country!
    I knew somebody that bought a Nobel Prize medal in 1976 for $15k, talk about appreciation, yikes!

    Quite a hefty medal by the way, and not cheapened, as they were struck in 23k gold, not the chintzy 18k ones they give out now.


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In contrast:

      The Confucius Peace Prize (simplified Chinese: 孔子和平奖; traditional Chinese: 孔子和平獎; pinyin: Kǒngzǐ Hépíngjiǎng) is a Chinese alternative to the Nobel Peace Prize established in 2010 by the Association of Chinese Indigenous Arts[2] in the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in response to a proposal by business person Liu Zhiqin on November 17, 2010. The chairman of the committee said that the award existed to “promote world peace from an Eastern perspective”, and Confucian peace specifically.[1] The winner purportedly receives a cash prize of ¥100,000 RMB (US$15,000).[3] Despite an attempt by China’s Ministry of Culture to ban the prize[4][5][6] in September 2011, the original organizers re-established in Hong Kong as the “China International Peace Research Center”, awarding the prize to Vladimir Putin in November 2011,[7][8][9] to Kofi Annan and Yuan Longping in 2012,[10] to Fidel Castro in 2014[11], to Robert Mugabe in 2015[12] and Hun Sen in 2017. The Chinese government has denied having any connections with the prize.[13]

      The RMB has been trading lower against the dollar recently, I believe.

      The winners should thinking about converting to silver right away, maybe.

      1. Wukchumni


        Boy, they were really trying to make inroads into Zimbabwe, Africa’s basket case.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Maybe he had a lot of Peace Dollars…a big collector in the face of hyper-inflation.

          1. Wukchumni

            My sister was there in the early 1980’s and the Zim $ was worth a US $ or close to it.

            I keep a $100 Trillion Zimbabwe banknote in my wallet, as a reminder that yes, shit happens.

    2. Jeotsu

      This news saddens m on many levels.

      I got the chance to meet Leon Lederman in ~1990, when we had to borrow his nobel prize medallion for a scavenger hunt at UofC. Had a good sense of humour, he did. I also noted that the two Nobel medallion scored for that particular event came from physicists (Cronin loaned out his, too).

      I give great credit to our 20 year old team-mate, Mary, who cold-called 10 laureates in a row that evening seeking to borrow their prizes. The economists had the worst sense of humour of the lot. No surprise, I guess.

      1. ewmayer

        Perhaps the econ laureates were grumpy at being reminded that theirs are not in fact real Nobel prizes, but rather a central-bank-bestowed award which arrogates Nobel’s name. Or maybe at being reminded that calling their field ‘science’ is a sick joke.

  2. Pavel

    Re: military obesity

    This is extremely anecdotal but I spend a fair amount of time in US airports and train stations (mainly Penn Station in NYC) and also in French ones. To put it bluntly, the US troops (at Penn Sta usefully decked out in desert camouflage :) look like they’ve had a few too many Dunkin’ Donuts and generally look lethargic.

    The French troops I’ve seen are to a man (and occasional woman) very fit and look like something out of a recruiting film.

    Of course the USA ranks near the very top of the global obesity index and France near the bottom, just under Japan IIRC. Vive la France!

    DISCLAIMER: this is not to excuse past or present French military outrages and mistakes.

    1. Wukchumni

      Was watching From Here To Eternity, and Ernest Borgnine’s character is named Fatso, and he’s not that hefty by today’s standards, but in the 50’s, yeah.

    2. Geo

      usefully decked out in desert camouflage

      Always found that amusing too. Odd how camouflage can make someone stand out so much.

    3. DJG

      Pavel: As you know, the camouflage is so that the troops can go through “pre-boarding” and be thanked for their service.

      What is even stranger is that camouflage is now common among U.S. civilians, who have to make their way through shelling to get to the Starbucks.

      1. Wukchumni

        When on occasion, some yahoo in the backcountry is attired in camo, I always say something to them along the lines of “I almost didn’t see you, as you blended so well into the scenery” (yeah, right. They stick out like a sore thumb)

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        I ended up walking with, sitting with, and once helping cross a street, quite a few older military veterans when i was down in san antone for three weeks.
        in maybe 75% of these instances: 1. some person passing by says loudly,”THANK YOU FOR YOU’RE SERVICE”..
        2 Veteran in question mumbles wearily, “Uhm-hmm”
        3 I realise that I hadn’t even noticed the aircraft carrier hat, the tiny little airborn pin, or the belt buckle indicating a marine unit…or whatever.
        From these observations, I postulate that this phenomenon is more about the person saying it, than about the actual veterans. Like a Righty version of virtue signalling.

      3. ArcadiaMommy

        I do not understand the camo leisure wear. I have seen lululemon camo yoga outfits and just saw a camo tennis bag. It just makes you cringe.

    4. WobblyTelomeres

      If you have been on a US military base recently, it will be obvious why the troops are obese. The bases are filled with McDonald’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Popeye’s. The mess halls have been contracted out, with the usual cost cutting measures (lots of carbs and breaded meat-like-substances). The 18-22 year olds who enlisted to escape poverty are surrounded by bad choices.

      Having seen Michael Moore’s movie, Where to Invade Next, it is no wonder the French appear fitter.

      1. OIFVet

        Don’t get me started on fast food chains in all but the remotest war zone outposts. In Iraq, my smallish base had a Subway, McDonalds, Hardees, a pizza place (not a chain), Baskin Robbins, and a Starbucks. The fare at the chow hall wasn’t much healthier. I actually gained 15 pounds, at war. Dog forbid we fight a war without bringing Americana with us.

        1. Pavel

          Thanks to Wobbly Telomeres and you OIFVet… interesting and valuable real reporting. I had no idea the fast food chains were actually in the mess halls. Though I shouldn’t be surprised…

          This should be a documentary in itself.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Those businesses were not there to feed the troops but were there to make profits to their parent corporations. The did not care if the troops got fat or not. If prisoners in jails had money you would find the same stores in prisons as well.

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            It gets worse.

            One of my sons was in Afghanistan after Deepwater Horizon. They had all the shrimp they could eat. In the desert.

    5. mcdee

      Recently my wife was trying to find someone who spoke English in a small railway station in Italy. She looked around for the most overweight person there and, sure enough,it was an American.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I traveled extensively in Europe in the 80’s and 90’s, the easy way to tell if somebody was an American, was whether they were wearing all white tennis shoes.

    6. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Pavel’s French military outrages and mistakes:

      I suppose you include giving aid to the American revolutionaries back in the day, the expense of which, led to Madame Guillotine and Bonaparte, etc, etc.


    7. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      The BMI ranking is Bullshit. They wanted me at 189lbs for my height 6 1

      Fat Fucking Chance!

      And Regular Army is mostly lean n mean whereas the National Guard aka Nasty Girls aka WEEKEND WARRIORS dgaf and are fat af

  3. Todde

    When i got the text alert yesterday I thought it was about to go down like it did in the movie ‘the Kingsman’.

      1. Tvc15

        My wife thought of the Kingsman movie too. I haven’t seen it, but just finished rereading 1984 and thought of the telescreens.

    1. jo6pac

      I love that article the Chinese have used their own back door around the nsa and others back doors. To funny.

      I’m sure tonight’s late twits for the trumpster will be an announcement of more sanctions on China while he’s at it Russia and Iran.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Every nation has to do what is best for her.

        We shouldn’t expect anything more, or anything less.

        And the safest course is to not take anything for granted…no such a thing as a kinder and gentler hegemon.

        1. Hameloose Cannon

          “Bloomberg LP has been a Supermicro customer. […] The company has found no evidence to suggest that it has been affected by the hardware issues […].” — You would tell your sources that wouldn’t you, Bloomberg. But how long have you been chasing this story down? *Sources. They’re all dead men, boys. Make them count.*

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              As it so happens often, it could be reverse psychology at work here.

              In any case, don’t let your guard down.

              1. Edward E

                Would the latest from the White House of Horrors Halloween party mood have anything to do with it?


                Remarks delivered by President Mike Pence on the administration’s policy towards China at Hudson Institute on October 4, 2018:

                “Within our own hemisphere, Beijing has extended a lifeline to the corrupt and incompetent Maduro regime in Venezuela, pledging $5 billion in questionable loans that can be repaid with oil. China is also that country’s single largest creditor, saddling the Venezuelan people with more than $50 billion in debt. Beijing is also corrupting some nations’ politics by providing direct support to parties and candidates who promise to accommodate China’s strategic objectives…”

                “The Chinese Communist Party is rewarding or coercing American businesses, movie studios, universities, think tanks, scholars, journalists, and local, state, and federal officials.

                Worst of all, China has initiated an unprecedented effort to influence American public opinion, the 2018 elections, and the environment leading into the 2020 presidential elections…”

              2. Edward E

                My thinkolator has been under a tremendously huge strain all year b/c dad, dementia and struggling with the VA. Espionage has always been widespread, tptb make a federal case out of it when they need to build a case for waaarrrr

    2. JerryDenim

      I was about to post the same link. An excellent companion to the Reuters article in Links section today.

      Trump is a fool for instigating a trade war with the Chinese, our dear friends, but we should all be losing sleep worrying about nefarious Russian hackers. Ha!

      Chinese tech espionage has been a known problem since the Clinton administration, yet here we are in 2018 trusting them to make hardware for the US military and and spy agencies. Thanks to offshoring we’ve lost our ability and our will to manufacture anything more complicated than backyard handicrafts to be sold on Etsy. So shocked to find out the Chinese, a rising, rival super-power with ambitions of world domination haven’t changed their ways?!?

  4. Die Europe Die

    “Russian capital flight.” – wasnt this a part of the plan all the time? To bleed Russia to death?
    First literally: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_Russia#/media/File:Russian_male_and_female_life_expectancy.PNG

    It is really beyond me how these spineless European politicians and business leaders are just accepting whatever stupidities that the US . The financial warfare with Russia is done on European soil – attacking a Danish bank and now Estonian bank.
    The weapon warfare will be on European soil too. How nice for every European!

  5. Wukchumni

    Challenger: Go for throttle op!
    Challenger Job-Cut Report, September 2018: “Inflated by long-term downsizing at Wells Fargo, layoff announcements shot higher in September” [Econoday]. And: “While the Financial sector announced the most cuts in September with 27,343, most of which are due to increased demand for online banking options, Retailers similarly continue to announce cuts as consumers pivot to online shopping, with Retail leading all sectors in job cuts”

  6. Geo

    The Bezzle: “SEC Chairman Wants to Let More Main Street Investors In on Private Deals”

    When they open the doors to the serfs you know it’s time to head for the exits.

    1. Wukchumni

      Why anybody would entrust your money to Wall*Street, is a question that nobody asks, but why?

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I’ve often wondered the same thing, but go further.
        Why continue to bank at giant national(or international, even ) banks?
        For that matter,shop at walmart?
        It’s not like the adverse effects of these things are still a secret…
        Aren’t we long overdue for giant boycotts? Isn’t that what the Randians say should have happened already, to punish bad behaviour?
        We just keep forking it over….signing up…logging in.
        Is it that we are all so embedded in it all?
        Tangled inextricably into the web?
        Or that the web, itself, has metastasized into every orifice and niche?
        Beyond mere monopoly or monopsy… what do you call this phenomenon of being necessarily entwined into the fabric of this edifice of hypercontrol?
        Is it totalitarian, yet?
        Did you know that you can’t get a fleabag motel room without a credit card?

        1. Wukchumni

          We use Amazon (here come the brickbats) as it’s damned handy and we live in the hinterlands, so it’s tailor-made for people like us. The idea that it’s essentially G.U.M. is hilarious, another way we’re turning into the Soviet Union, in a Bizarro World way.

          I’m sure a few will castigate me for shopping @ a monopoly, but the alternatives right down the line on a retail basis are all also monopolies, so there’s no getting away from it, really.

          You can be the master of your own destiny financially w/o Wall*Street being involved, and it takes a bit of effort to divorce yourself from their wicked game, but it’s worth it.

    2. Procopius

      I remember reading that in 1929 John D. Rockefeller pulled out of the stock market and put all his money into treasury bonds when his shoe shine man gave him a tip on the market.

  7. laughingsong

    I made a mistake on the picture, Lambert. This ruin is on the Hill of Skryne, still Co. Meath. My fella and I lived a bit down the road from it at Macetown.

    Trim Castle is kept in much better nick. I believe it was used in Braveheart?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I’m glad you said that, I was thinking ‘Thats not Trim Castle!’ Indeed Trim Castle was used in Braveheart, most of it is in a semi-restored state.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      At this moment, a complete, total defeat will ensure a new birth…the saplings might have room to grow.

      I feel what we are focusing on is just the last straw.

  8. Wukchumni

    How long did it take for the military to run out of Johnny Got His Gun types, you know the guy whose Grandfather stormed the beaches on D-Day +9, and his father almost got fragged by his own troops in Vietnam?

    We must’ve run out of true believers last decade, no?

    1. Duke of Prunes

      I’m sure there are still some true believers. Some kids will believe anything. From those I know, however, it’s economic hardship / lack of economic opportunities that is turning young people to “the services”. A know a couple guys in their mid-twenties who enlisted recently because they were soon to be too old to stay on their parent’s health insurance, and had not been able to find any other job with benefits – and who wants to spend all their take-home on a crappy “ObamaCare” policy. It’s not just security, it’s a jobs program. USA! USA! USA!

      1. GF

        Now you know why wages have been kept so low all these years. Gotta feed the corporate military machine in order to protect corporate “interests”.

  9. a different chris

    >Northern Virginia boasts five of the 13 richest counties in the country, and southern Maryland has two more of them. Why does one of the wealthiest areas of the United States possess such an abundance of vacant commercial real estate?

    That’s easy, why do rich people have 5k sq ft homes? It’s just excess crap that seemed like a good idea at the time but hey nobody who invested it was going to wind up in the soup line regardless of the outcome.

    NoVa could use a lot less asphalt for sure but that ship has already sailed.

    1. Summer

      I think every home, especially with children, should have no less than 4 bedrooms. Too bad that is so expensive.

    2. Kokuanani

      I live in nearby suburban [to DC] Maryland. Marriott is in the process of abandoning its headquarters here and moving to downtown Bethesda. The stated reason is that employees [millennials] want to be near Metro + exciting urban lunch and after-work spots. Bethesda has plenty of both; Marriott’s suburban location had neither.

      One nearby mall, White Flint, gained notariety as a “ghost mall” and was featured with all its abandoned wonderness in numerous videos and stills. [Google “White Flint Mall abandoned”.] Now the pols are begging Amazon to locate HQ #2 here. [The barren site does have good Metro access, but the many smart lunch spots and food court have been demolished.] Having raised kids in this area, I recall when White Flint was a high class attraction. I don’t think Amazon’s HQ#2 will compare.

      Most local residents do NOT want Amazon to locate there. Our housing prices are already ridiculous, and Amazon will make them worse. Traffic is impossible, and talk among candidates for County Executive is about how to re-draw school boundaries or otherwise deal with over-crowding.

      A short answer to your original question is that locations close to Metro are quite attractive, and the abandoned malls and business places I see locally did not have that feature.

      Another bad result of this “urbanization” is that all the new housing is being built near this expanding urban area AND it is ultra-expensive and loaded with “features” [pool, exercise rooms, concierge service, etc.] More than one proponent of these changes has spoken approvingly of the “Manhattanization” of Bethesda.

      May I not live that long.

  10. Craig H.

    > “A staggering number of troops are fat and tired, report says” [Military Times].

    The 2018 Rand Report is pretty skimpy if you ask me.

    In particular I was curious about obesity by rank as I was anticipating a bunch of fat generals but they don’t have that data in the report they provide for free.

    61% of the Marines are overweight.

    Are you allowed to eat jelly donuts Private Pyle?

    1. Procopius

      When I was on active duty the story behind the weight control program was that one day while General Westmoreland was escorting some visiting Soviet Generals around one of our bases, one of them burst out laughing. You have to remember, Westmoreland was of slender build, and I think pretty keen on troop physical fitness. The Sov General explained he had just seen an extremely obese sergeant, and, “In Soviet Army sergeants are skinny and generals are fat.” Westmoreland was furious.

  11. Harold

    They would get more exercise if they had to peel potatoes and wash the fryers, like they used to.

  12. Summer

    I don’t think the Kav nomination is in limbo or ever was.

    I don’t think anyone protesting it was taken seriously. Listened to like children before being told why the status quo will be maintained.

    So the question remains, do you now cooperate?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think we’re close to the nadir, but there are still a lot of resisters to change, hoping for better via tinkering.

      1. Summer

        Already there with corpo-right wing takeover of Supreme Court.
        Already there with perpetual war.
        Already there with a trashed bill of rights…

        So whether 5 years or 10, the alternatives to concentrate on gathering support – withdrawing any support for anything that is politics as usual.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          It has taken a long time to sink this low, and unfortunately, unless something good happens (and don’t give up), it will take time to reverse it.

          And on another optimistic note, it’s human nature to over-reach. And there will be opportunities.

          Hopefully we don’t waste them on a mere ‘hope and change’ slogan.

            1. blowncue

              There is so much to unpack. It’s been a horrible two weeks. But shame as a silencing force has been absolutely decimated.

              I consider that in 2016, the Democrats overlooked that those that were labeled as clinging to God and guns, as deplorable, could vote. Dismiss the needs of a constituency, and it’s a matter of time before someone else comes along promising to meet them.

              If 1 in 6 women (source – RAINN) are victims of attempted sexual assault, then 167 million women x 17% is roughly 27.8 million victims. This is very rough and imperfect math – I don’t know how many US females are voting eligible. If even 5% of them are as engaged as, and align in thinking with, the protesters in DC, that’s 1.39 million voters. Assuming we continue to split down the middle, that could be a powerful voting bloc.

              Yes, survivors could think it futile to pursue prosecution, never mind the trauma they have no desire to undergo by doing so. And because of that, I expect many more outings via social media. When, out of an average of 170 women, only 6 see their perpetrators incarcerated, the 164 are not going to give a damn about principles of innocent until proven guilty. Especially when all they know is guilty and gets away with it.

              Every man on social media is shitting bricks right now, doing an inventory of every crime, and every unkindness committed. When Al Pacino was asked how he was able to find the character of Roy Cohn (Angels in America), he said that it wasn’t hard. “Who wouldn’t like to be able to fuck somebody with one phone call?” Women might enjoy watching men watching what they say, what they do, how they dress, how much they drink. They might enjoy watching men tiptoe through the minefield every day.

              I’ve seen posts on NC threads from some saying “she should have told someone, should not have waited, should have known better than to put herself at risk.” Basically, all women should accept the reality of predatory men as a given, and prepare themselves according. And if raped, respond to that rape appropriately. In other words, it’s a woman’s responsibility to avoid rape, and a women’s responsibility to pursue justice when raped in an appropriate and effective manner. Oh, and don’t get hysterical. Withstand all invalidation and follow-on trauma. Accept that prosecuting rape is just really, really hard, but thank you for paying the necessary price for a fair system of justice.

              Uh, huh.

              I’m surprised D.C. isn’t literally burning at this point, but this unfolds the way it unfolds. Although one could argue that there is a bonfire consuming respectability politics w/r/t #MeToo.

              Did you see Lindsey Graham walking away from a survivor, saying “call the cops” dismissively? Did you see Orrin Hatch telling a survivor to “grow up” then waving his hand dismissively as provocation? If they had done that to one of my friends or relatives who are survivors, and I had been there, I would have knocked them clear across the Potomac. But that’s what happens with direct action.

              This will make many women realize they have zero leverage working within systems. Others will say #MeToo has gone too far. I don’t see guillotines operating 24/7 or drownings in the Potomac just yet, so I’ve think there’s room to run.

              1. Lambert Strether Post author

                > If even 5% of them are as engaged as, and align in thinking with, the protesters in DC, that’s 1.39 million voters. Assuming we continue to split down the middle, that could be a powerful voting bloc.

                I think you’re leaving out the class angle. I would like to understand how a gaggle of Yalies shaming each other will help workers at Amazon or Walmart. There’s also the assumption, I think, that in some way the Democrats are the party of women, for women. The Democrats are the party of a slice of women: Liberal professional women (who are, indeed, very angry that a candidate they identify with lost election 2016). To be fair, it’s great to see the Democrats pounding so hard on the McDonalds strike, which was self-organized by women workers to address exactly these issues, Oh, wait….

  13. Left in Wisconsin

    “The Color of Economic Anxiety” [Current Affairs]

    The article does a nice job in demonstrating the kind of campaigning it takes to get decent turnout in places like the north side of Milwaukee – authentic, local, retail. The exact opposite of the HRC campaign. I think Obama used the churches heavily.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I think Obama used the churches heavily.

      This was a topic in in 2008. Obama specifically kind of rejecting the worship of the local big man in traditional Democratic Party relative to African American organizing. Obama didn’t have a coalition. He grew the base through ROI. How many voters are there? How canvassers are there? He largely made use of the same 50 state strategy as Dean helped put in place, and in the primary, his campaign did devote resources to where they could win the most delegate. There was outreach, but Obama’s campaign was less church involved than other Democratic campaigns I’ve seen.

      I saw ministers and other local level members of the black misleadership class who weren’t sold on Obama’s efforts and have heard similar stories. Take that for what its worth, but I would say black leaders especially after South Carolina rumors and efforts by the Clinton campaign had to get on board or lose their position.

      The black church is like any other religious institution which generally serve as supporters of conservative power. King and Abernathy were the exceptions. If you read between the lines, MLK made a few coded threats to come to town and preach against the local black ministers. Unlike the Catholic Church with its institutional frame work, the threat of a charismatic preacher throwing down the hammer on another minister is a real threat especially when the minister drives a nice car. Obama did a similar thing when he came to town. Getting podium and face time with the Senator wasn’t so easy for the usual suspects.

      “Hope and Change” spoke to something wrong with America. In many ways, HRC 2008 was a better candidate than Obama or HRC 2016, but she didn’t reject her husband’s Presidency which was a disaster for inner city/black America despite Bill being our first black President (snark). Even though Obama was vapid, his basic chant was still about rejecting what I would call the politics of cynicism which is centrism or anything spouted by the DLC and Team Clinton.

    2. Kokuanani

      I really liked the article & will forward it to my millennial Hillary-loving daughter who’s just unable to see any faults in Her Highness.

      I always try to respond to the “first woman president” moanings by asking if they’d really be as ecstatic over Pres Michelle Bachman or Pres Sarah Palin.

      Really, these young-uns need a few more years of education; they do not, as yet, “know everything.”

    3. Summer

      Well, it would be interesting to see Hillary run again under the shadow of Bill’s past after the tension around the Kav’s past…if anyone with hair wouldn’t pull it all out by the time the election was over.

  14. A Small Part Of The Pantomime

    The FBI has done such a poor job of investigating Kavanaugh – I wonder whether that is deliberate? To possibly derail the whole process and NO ONE can get confirmed until after the midterm elections, at the soonest?/adjusts tin hat

    1. GF

      Rosenstein made a deal with Trump in order to keep his job!! The nomination will go through. Film at 11.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Why do people continue to belieeeeeve that the FBI is some kind of actual bunch of Good Cops who will Do Their Jobs and Hold The Bad Guys To Account? People forget all about J. Edgar Hoover? And his threatening blackmail letters to MLK, and his dossiers on everyone with power and prestige in the Imperial Capital? Do a little search (not in GGL) on “history of corruption in the FBI” and you come across the submerged stories of how the Fibbies actually operate. Here’s one fun read, among many: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140904183703-29817943-history-of-corrupt-culture-in-the-fbi-doj. I’d offer my own experiences as a mope enforcement attorney with the US EPA trying to get the Department of Justice, and FBI investigators, interested in criminal prosecutions of corporate types who thumbed their noses at health and the environment. Do not succumb to the Efrem Zymbalist mythology of “The FBI” tv series and all the crap that’s been poured out of the big pot of Bernays sauce they keep on low heat, ready to ladle out. And to think, or want so very much to belieeeeve, that as an agency there is some high standard of competence and honesty? Not paying attention, people.

      We are ‘“surprised and disappointed” that the “investigation” of the limited bits of the larger situation regarding corrupt and venal judges does not extend further into the soup? And we give the FBI a pass, because it is the White House that supposedly has, and has used, the power to set the very narrow parameters that the field agents (and their bosses, with all their “linkages”) are to be “pitied” and consoled, rather than excoriated, for failing to do what we are dumb enough to believe is “their duty?”

      1. Procopius

        This. There’s so much to remember. I think a lot about The Old Queen. Back in the day he was feared as much as Senator McCarthy. The joke was if all the FBI informants stopped paying their dues the American Communist Party would be bankrupt in a week. COINTELPRO. The strange death of that friend of the Boston Bombers (I really should look that one up, it involved Massachusets State Troopers, too.). Comey, Strzok, the clique in the NY field office. The way they inflate their statistics by framing mentally challenged peopIe for “providing material assistance to a terrorist organization. I went through high school in a suburb of Detroit in the McCarthy years, and my teachers passed along some of the oral history, biased toward the working class. That still shapes my attitude.

      2. A Small Part Of The Pantomime

        My tinfoil notion is that by making it painfully obvious that its investigation of Kav is rigged, accomplishes 3 things: it helps undermine the legitimacy of the SC itself and *both* parties. It turns the process inside out, so that all the seams are on public display. It use leads the momentum of current social turmoil to bring the whole edifice down, martial arts style. /shines tinfoil hat to a gleam

  15. DJG

    For GM, its close work with Honda on battery and hydrogen fuel-cell technology as part of a years-long partnership contributed to the two companies comfort with working together on autonomy, President Dan Ammann said Wednesday.

    I think this is the operative paragraph in the article about GM and Honda. Having had a Honda, one single almost indestructible Civic for twenty-one years, and still preferring Hondas when I use my car-share service, I think that Honda has remained serious about cars. My Civic had only one exterior mirror because Honda interiors were so well designed that there were no blind spots. So Honda probably figured out the scam artists fairly quickly. GM was famous for engineering (the Cadillac line of obese sedans and puffy SUVs notwithstanding), so Honda fits better with GM.

    1. RMO

      It had one outside mirror because that was all that was required and it was cheaper. JDM version of the same car would have had two outside mirrors because of regulations. Higher end versions in the NA market would have as well. My previous two cars were Hondas but the company has gone downhill over the last decade or so in both trivial and significant ways when compared to the competition. You can still get good cars from them but it’s not as much of a given as it used to be that Honda would have something best in class. Try out the touch-screen only volume control on many new Hondas for an example of the trivial but frustrating. One good thing compared to the 70’s and 80’s though is that the car structure doesn’t turn into a pile of iron oxide if you so much as have a tear well up in your eye when you’re nearby.

  16. Rojo

    As bad as lots of sitting might be, standing never struck me as a good alternative. Both are relatively unnatural. Standing maybe more so. Carl Caveman probably walked a lot, lied around a lot, sat and ran some. But standing? No.

    1. Grebo

      Standing kills my back. If I have to wait for a bus or something I stroll up and down. I can do that for ages no problem.

      1. el_tel

        I had a standing desk for a few months at a previous employer. It only helped if I moved around for 10 minutes every hour (same advice as given to those sitting at desks). Also I had to ensure I wore my foot orthotic so my legs were at equal length otherwise it was total waste of time and just caused my slipped disc to give me pain.

  17. DJG

    I notice that several links include the abbreviation, FBI, you know, those incorruptible Comey-clones who are apolitical and are always running down the truth (in several senses of the expression). Our friendses the “intelligence community.”

    I wonder how long the panicked liberals are going to keep up the pretense that the FBI, CIA, NSA, and so on, are valuable allies in the fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Way? (Forever, I suppose.) And Hillary Clinton, Zombie Candidate Endlessly Seeking Revenge, will make jokes about her “e-mails.”

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

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

    1. Procopius

      Speaking of seeking revenge, I believe the Democrats ought to be pounding Kavanaugh’s dry drunk outburst and how he swore he’s going to make the Democrats suffer. Do we really want a justice who has sworn blood feud against a group? I’m sure there are some Trumpists who haven’t thought it through, but that statement from him should horrify any thinking person.

    1. Jonathan T McPhee

      And the Poynter “truth tool,” “Politihahahfacts,” is notoriously and often laughably corrupt and misleading. https://duckduckgo.com/l/?kh=-1&uddg=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.forbes.com%2Fsites%2Ftheapothecary%2F2013%2F12%2F27%2Fin-2008-politifacts-2013-lie-of-the-year-that-you-could-keep-your-health-plan-under-obamacare-it-rated-true%2F

      But the folks there are really subtle, selectively picking the bits they choose to “rate” and assigning what to me are fraudulent attributes and slants to their sneaky, seemingly random walks toward those final judgments that so many of us closet authoritarians just want to belieeeve are the Last Word.

      1. Carolinian

        There may not be anything wrong with these sorts of sites for people who care to consult them. But it’s very wrong for Google or Facebook to be giving their seal of approval to dubious “final word” news checkers. Google in particular should stick to the algo robots and not sign up humans to curate the web. Machines are predictable–their great virtue. Humans not so much.

  18. FreeMarketApologist

    RE: “Chelsea Clinton: ‘The horrors’ of Trump administration ‘won’t change my life’”

    I hope that quote, in fact, the entire article, is never forgotten, so that it comes back to bite her if she ever considers a public office greater than dog catcher.

    What could be more privileged and disconnected from reality than talking to children at Sidwell Friends.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I Resisted. I wasn’t late for brunch. I won’t let Trump Trump me!.” -Chelsea in 2024

      1. RMO

        The horrors of her father’s administration and the horrors of her mother’s time as Secretary of State also didn’t touch her life because of her privilege either. Oh, and the horrors of the Bush administration too. That’s got to be worth pointing out.

    2. Darthbobber

      And the fact that this is true for her says something about any strategy designed solely to appeal to those Republicans of whom it is equally true.

  19. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thanks for the link under “The Bezzle” to the article from Bloomberg about the activities of Danske Bank through its Estonia operations dating back many years. As others have noted, Danske Bank Estonia couldn’t do this by itself. Much of the money was paid in U.S. dollars, and for that, it needed help from other banks:


    Not to diminish the seriousness of the problem, but the trajectory and relatively recent regulatory and media attention to this conduit suggest to me that it’s difficult to know when and where the laundromat begins and ends, and sanctions enforcement began.

  20. Darius

    I would think gerrymandering is a pretty straight up denial of due process prohibited by the 14th Amendment. Expecting the Kav court, however, to eagerly take up the legitimizing of all gerrymandering. Further normalizing the abuse of power. Abandon all hope, ye who continue to live.

    1. MapMaker

      If gerrymandering wasn’t in the interest of all the vested interests, it would with modern computer power be pretty simple to fix.

  21. dk

    32 days is a long time in politics …

    It’s true that a lot of things can still change on some fronts.

    Polls can detect changes in public opinion in matters of days. Unforeseen events IRL can always have a huge impact or everything from opinions to the stakes in a contest to the infrastructure of an election. But the durability of a particular opinion, the impact of an event, its relative weight among other considerations, these are not constant either.

    But in terms of politics and particularly election strategy, some horizons have already arrived and passed, and the rest are approaching fast. There is only so much one can do in a day or a week.

    The election is already starting to end, or at least the beginning has come. Early voting and absentee ballots have already started in some states, and about to start in others; the ballot collection stage is ongoing. Ballots in the “mail-only” states WA, OR and CO will be hitting mailboxes in a couple of weeks (eta 18th-20th), and some of those ballots will be turned around quickly. These early votes can’t be changed by any subsequent events.

    For campaigns, the planning stages are over. Final schedules are coming together, the last round of planned ad buys is being placed. New idea for a mailer? Better hustle. If there’s a policy point to be squeezed out in the final weeks, it has to be vetted right now. There is barely time to conceive and complete a targeted field program, with impact diminishing every day. Last minute endorsements aren’t worth as much (not that anybody would refuse them). The field operations have their final targets. The basic GOTV strategy should be known, even if the teams are still in formation.

    A lot can happen in a day, that doesn’t make it a long time (although it can feel like one). But 30 days is not really that long of a time in politics, in terms of strategies and intentions. The windows are closing.

    Thanks for the coverage!

  22. pretzelattack

    maybe the fbi just sucks at investigating. they do seem to be good in setting up cognitively challenged individuals in fake terrorism stings.

  23. Andrew Watts

    RE: GOP, Dems battle over secret FBI report on Kavanaugh

    I find it kinda disturbing that the conclusions of a secret FBI report will be used by a few Senators to attempt to avoid any democratic accountability for their vote. I also wonder if the FBI ever gets tired of being used as a political football to be kicked around… when they’re not trying to referee the whole game themselves.

    1. flora

      Director of the FBI serves as the pleasure of the President. The FBI falls under the DoJ, part of the Executive Branch. So having the FBI investigate the candidate and allegations is like having Trump investigate his own nominee. What could go wrong. Much better if the Senate – the Legislative Branch – would make the investigation. checks and balances, etc. (quaint idea).

      Senators attempting to avoid any democratic accountability for their votes is the point, I think. And as far as Dem Senators go, they’ll go along with whatever the GOP Sens want.

      But why the rush on this nominee’s vote? Any juicy ‘unitary executive’ (by proxy) cases coming up?


      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Because just in case the Senate goes majority Dem, the Overclass wants its FedSoc justice safely already confirmed and cemented into place.

        1. Todde

          Exactly. The Republicans will be bappy to temporarily lose the senate to gain the court.

          Its obviously a slimy say anything do anything partisan slimeball.

          Perfect tool

    2. HotFlash

      Footballs? Don’t think that is likely. The FBI knows where *all* the bodies are buried. The FBI not only decides whether there is enough evidence to prosecute, but provides that evidence. Do you not think that gives them some power? For instance, there is Evans-Pritchard’s story. Quid, you know, pro quo. As in, it’s his turn.


  24. Matthew G. Saroff

    The vacant offices are because landlords cannot lower rents.

    If the lower rents, then the building values fall.

    If the building value falls, then when the 5 year rollover for a loan happens, the bank does not re-issue, and forecloses.

    It actually makes financial sense to keep a building empty over lowering rent.

    1. Oregoncharles

      An excellent example of the way purely financial considerations can distort business decisions.

    2. VietnamVet

      The reason for not lowering rents makes sense. As a Marylander, who used to work in North Virginia, on the surface everything looks the same. I read a few years ago that the office vacancy rate was 21%. The bank branch near to where I worked closed. My Periodontist who used to rotate through young female dental hygienists; is now just him, his wife and an assistant. I heard that the cubicles that were full when I retired are now half empty. There’s been a hard smack in the National Capital Area to retail and office space due to the draw down in civilian agencies and the rise of e-commerce. Nobody talks about it. I think that the empty office buildings in the suburbs are due to this or else losing a Pentagon, Security or Intelligence Community contract. All that is being built is inner city high end apartments. This is truly a distorted economy.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        and aren’t those land values all tied up into various exotic financial instruments?
        I’ve often thought that the reason(or one reason) for the denial campaign about global warming.
        Future underwaterness sucks for the sale price….no buyers, prices fall, tax revenues fall, and whatever such valuations(derivatives, cdo’s or whatever) or future rents, etc are tied into those property deeds falls right along…
        Were I a member of the eyes wide shut set, that might be something I’d want to curtail.

  25. Wukchumni

    This bank in Estonia that pushed a trillion dollars in questionable funds through it, kind of amazes me.

    I’d have a similar bewilderment if a bank in Idaho were to do the same thing, how is that possible?

  26. Kim Kaufman

    re Kavanaugh: How much Dark Money is being spent on advertising for him in red states and elsewhere?

    1. Wukchumni

      Who needs advertising, when your proxies on Fox are spreading the gospel about what a great man he is, and what a shrew Ford is.

      A friend works with a dozen hard right folks, and when they were watching Dr. Ford testify, they were quite vocal about her looks, as that was the primary factor they were interested in.

      If the doctor looked like Christie Brinkley currently, they would’ve been in quite the quandary over what to castigate her on.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      One doesn’t engage in a fight when the circumstances are not favorable – the Art of War.

      One is better off waiting for another opportunity, and one might ask, why do we have these unfavorable circumstances?

      And they are unfavorable in this case, because the progressives have liberal mercenaries doing the fighting. And we might ask, why are they in there?

      As in some movies, after the opening mayhem, the narrator would say, ‘ to understand this, I will have to tell the story from another time…’

      Mr. All-Eyes-on-You Kavanaugh – he is the final straw on the Donkey’s back, and we can beat it mercilessly all we want, but we should not forget the other straws.

      Even in regular, non-11-dimensional chess, there are often impossible-to-end end-of-the-game situations. We can try as hard as we want, but we are better off, and it’s more productive, to study the earlier events or moves.

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      This one is too meta to ignore.
      So the “newspaper for liberals” (WaPo), which is actually the blog of a right-wing MIC tax-dodging monopolist (Bezos), is reporting that the GOP (far right Big Pharma enablers) are saying that Dems (center-right Big Pharma enablers) support a Sanders plan that is actually good for people. But that is “bad” in the GOP view, because “good for people” is the opposite of “good for Big Pharma”?

  27. Roland

    Excellent map, Lambert. It captures, in one glance, why Trudeau surrendered to Trump so quickly.

    Ontario, and a Canadian federal election coming in 2019.

  28. Elizabeth Burton

    Household spending in August was up 3% compared to a year earlier,

    Ah, August, when all the parents and teachers are getting ready for the school year and some states have sales tax holidays for the purpose. I love how those reporting organizations go all “happy-happy-joy-joy” and start declaiming how it’s clear the economy is all bright and sunny whenever there’s a spending spike that happens to have a perfectly reasonable explanation having nothing to do with the overall economy.

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