2:00PM Water Cooler 11/28/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“All eyes might be on Trump’s dinner meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, but the U.S. leader has other high-profile meetings that could have trade consequences” [Politico]. Trump is also scheduled to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin. White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said Trump’s meeting with Abe would also include Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi” [Politico]. • I would love to know who the sherpas are for those meetings. If there are any.

“Signs point to long haul on Trump’s China tariffs” [Axios]. “Trump believes to his core that tariffs work, both to create negotiating leverage and as instruments to improve the U.S. economy, though it’s hard to locate many economists who agree with Trump on the latter point. The bottom line: A former top trade official on Capitol Hill said after reading the interview: ‘My main takeaway is that maybe Wall Street needs to stop being so optimistic that Trump is going to negotiate away this China thing in the relatively near future. We are in for a long haul.'”

“Trump administration attempts to move global automotive supply chains to the U.S. could take an unexpected turn. Analysts expect General Motors Co. and other Western auto makers to build up production in China…, even as GM withstands a storm of criticism from the White House and workers over its decision to close several factories in the U.S. and Canada” [Wall Street Journal]. “Experts say auto makers need their factories to be close to customers to turn a profit, an economic calculation reinforced by the tariffs flying between the U.S. and China. The supply chain would be too long and logistics costs too high to export from the U.S. anything but the most expensive, low-volume vehicles.”


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51


“How Early Voting Could Turn the Democratic 2020 Race on Its Head” [Politico]. “[W]hen next year’s Democratic primary process gets started, it sure looks like the voting, and the all-important delegate counting, won’t actually, technically start in Iowa. Instead, because of early-voting rules, the increasing popularity of early voting, and a reshuffled primary calendar, a handful of huge, diverse states could see troves of ballots returned even before some of the traditional small and largely white early-voting states do — a shift that just might herald real changes to the way Democrats nominate their presidential pick, and quite possibly the nominee’s identity.” • Liberal Democrats really doubled down on identity politics, didn’t they?


“Congress’s incoming class is younger, bluer, and more diverse than ever” [Politico]. “At least 19 members of the incoming class have served in the military. Six served in the Army, 11 in the Navy, and two in the Air Force.” • Militarization: That’s the kind of diversity a centrist can get behind!

UPDATE No shame whatever:

UPDATE “Democrats overwhelmingly nominate Pelosi as Speaker amid rebellion” [The Hill]. “The much higher bar will come in the first week of January, when the full House meets to choose the Speaker in a public vote requiring a majority of the entire voting chamber. It’s there that the insurgents feel they can block Pelosi’s ascension, even as Pelosi and her allies have projected nothing but confidence that she’ll retake the gavel she lost following the red wave elections of 2010.” • If Pelosi had wanted Barbara Lee to be Caucus Chair, Barbara Lee would be Caucus Chair. Funny how identity politics is sometimes very important, and other times not important at all.

2018 Post Mortem

A nationalized election:

“2018 Senate: How the ‘Trump Ten’ Races Compared to 2016” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Last week, Republicans tried to knock off incumbent Democratic senators in 10 states won by President Trump in 2016. While some of these Republican challengers won, nine of the 10 ran well behind Donald Trump’s showing in 2016, perhaps not surprisingly given that all of the Democrats in these states had the power of incumbency and the political environment was generally pro-Democratic overall. The one exception where Trump’s performance wasn’t that much different from the 2018 GOP Senate showing was Florida, which is in the midst of a recount…. as we look ahead to 2020, Trump will need to replicate his 2016 performance — and not the performance of GOP Senate candidates — to carry key states that voted for him in 2016 such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. With presidential and downballot coalitions becoming increasingly similar, relative margin offers a way to measure a candidate’s unique geographic strengths and weaknesses.” • It’s remarkable that the Democrats were able to nationalize the mid-terms based on a purely negative approach; I struggle to think of a coherent party policy position from the first day of the campaign season to the last. I suppose we update the old saying that “You can’t beat something with nothing” to “You can beat something with less than nothing.” Which makes sense if you do the arithmentic, I suppose…

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Suburbs May Not Be As Progressive As Democrats Would Like — But They Could Be” [New York Magazine]. “For some suburban voters, Democratic candidates were clearly more palatable than progressive policies. It’s reasonable to ask whether suburban victories in the 2018 midterms will ultimately backfire for Democrats. But there is no singular answer, partly because the party itself is so fragmented…. The party’s left flank may face significant obstacles in the suburbs, but evidence suggests that these problems are not insurmountable. First, suburban voters aren’t totally responsible for the Democratic Party’s midterm success. Democrat Jared Golden flipped Maine’s heavily rural Second Congressional District with a platform that included Medicare for All. In other districts with significant rural populations, Democrats like Richard Ojeda lost while improving on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 performance. Leftward movement is not limited to neighborhoods with Panera Breads, and the party need not pin its hopes entirely to suburban voters.”

“Identifying and Estimating the Ideologies of Twitter Pundits” [Data for Progress]. “[W]e currently only have a general sense of how pundits relate to each other in ideological space. As in, it is clear [sic] that some pundits are more liberal and others are more conservative… From there, create matrix where each row is a followed user and each column is a pundit account; the cells are filled in with 1s if the pundit follows that account, and 0 otherwise.” • Sadly, the usefulness of the post is vitiated by its acceptance of the linear, left-right paradigm. Musical interlude:

(Lyrics.) Sadly, no D’Oyly Carte version.

Stats Watch

GDP, Q3 2018 (Preliminary): “Though consumer spending was strong in the third quarter, it was an outsized build in inventories that proved to be a decisive plus” [Econoday]. “In the end, however, consumer spending will be the fourth quarter’s most important input and will reflect the success or failure of the holiday shopping season.” And but: “Over 2 % of this 3.5% growth number is attributable to inventory growth (materials manufactured but not yet sold). I consider this a very weak report on GDP” [Econoday]. “I am not a fan of quarter-over-quarter exaggerated method of measuring GDP – but my year-over-year preferred method showed moderate acceleration from last quarter.”

International Trade in Goods, October 2018: “October’s data opens fourth-quarter net exports on a negative note following the third quarter when trade pulled down GDP pace by nearly 2 percentage points. Today’s results point to further downward pressure for the fourth quarter” [Econoday]. “Tariffs effects have been elusive in the nation’s economic data but may now be appearing in the trade data, and the initial results may be holding down GDP.” • Not again.

Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index, November 2018: “Manufacturing activity in the Fifth District expanded at a slightly slower than expected pace in November” [Econoday]. “Partly offsetting this weakness was stronger expansion in shipments….” Capital expenditures fell. And: “The important Richmond Fed subcategories growth were mixed – but all remain in expansion. This survey was about the same strength as last month” [Econintersect].

Corporate Profits, Q3 (Preliminary): “After-tax corporate profits… without inventory valuation and capital consumption adjustments. ” [Econoday]. “Taxes…. fell.”

Retail Inventories, October 2018 (Advance): Up sharply [Econoday]. “A solid October build will help keep shelves filled and may prove a plus for holiday spending.”

Wholesale Inventories, October 2018 (Advance): Rose [Econoday].

New Home Sales, October 2018: “This year’s slump in new home sales extended into October. Sales in the month came in far below expectations” [Econoday]. Prices fell. Increased supply did not help sales… Housing is by far the biggest disappointment of the 2018 economy and based on this report not to mention the climb in mortgage rates, the sector doesn’t look to be finishing the year in a rally.” And: “This month the backward revisions were again downward. Because of weather and other factors, the rolling averages are the way to view this series. The rolling averages also significantly fell” [Econoday]. And: “A few Comments on October New Home Sales” [Calculated Risk]. • If I understand McBride correctly, he’s arguing that distressed sales of existing homes, post-2008, are cannibalizing sales of new homes (especially since builders are building expensive homes). Can housing mavens comment? It seems odd this pattern would persist for a decade. (My speculation was that people don’t want to buy new homes because they’re crapified, or at least too crapified to take on the financing. Too many styrofoam pediments, wood-grained plastic doors, poorly insulated walls, etc.)

State Street Investor Confidence Index, November 2018: “Global institutional investors continued to reduce their exposure to equities in November” [Econoday].

Employment: “The Labor Force Participation Rate Trend and Its Projections” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. “We find that the [Labor Force Participation (LFP)] rate is at its trend of 62.8% in 2018, suggesting that the labor market is at full employment. Our estimate is roughly consistent with the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates of the trend for 2018. Furthermore, we project that the trend will decline approximately 2.5 percentage points over the next decade.” • Time to at least dust off the punch bowl!

Commodities: “Pricing for the metal has remained largely opaque because lithium isn’t traded on exchanges…., leaving suppliers with an edge over buyers as auto makers, battery companies and smartphone makers as they try to lock down volumes from major producers” [Wall Street Journal]. “Questions over supplies and pricing have grown more pressing as lithium’s role as a key ingredient in rechargeable batteries has become more prominent in sectors like electric vehicles. The stakes upstream in supply chains are enormous, with buyers like Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. and Tesla Inc. expected to drive still greater demand.” • Holy moley. The metal critical to de-carbonizing transportation is priced like LIBOR used to be…

Shipping: ” A Wall Street Journal review of confidential documents and interviews with officials suggest that dozens of ships and companies linked to illegal North Korean trade have carried hundreds of millions of dollars-worth of fuel, coal and other products to the country. They do so through a shifting array of tactics, some as simple as repainting vessels to disguise their origins and others reaching deeper with phony customs manifests and false tracking signals from cargo ships” [Wall Street Journal]. “The sanctions are supposed to punish North Korea, but so far they’ve only shown the gaps in the ability to oversee seaborne trade flows.” • Hmm. I wonder if this technology scales, and if the North Koreans have exported it…

Shipping: “Renault drives into the future, sending cars across the Atlantic on sailing ships” [The Loadstar]. “Renault has signed a three-year deal with French developer Neoline to construct two wind-powered ro-ro vessels to operate on a transatlantic route from 2020… The ship design features a loading ramp at the rear to 1,700 linear metres of cargo space – equating to 478 vehicles.” • However, Car carrier ships haul “up to 8,500 vehicles in a layer cake of 13 decks.”

Shipping: “The world’s big operators are investing in feeder ships as they slow their expanded use of megaships that have boosted capacity on major trade lanes” [Wall Street Journal]. “Ship brokers say around 120 feeder ships have been ordered this year, and Maersk rival CMA CGM recently bought a European regional operator. The smaller ships have more flexibility and fit with broader efforts by shipping lines to offer more expansive end-to-end logistics services.”

Retail: “Economists paint rosy picture for retail supply chain sectors” [Logistics Management]. “According to IHS Markit Associate Director James Bohnaker’s updated Holiday Sales Outlook, ‘a roaring job market is the gift that keeps on giving.’… The 2018 calendar sets up nicely for retailers, as there are 32 shopping days (including five full weekends) between Thanksgiving and Christmas – the maximum possible. As a result, some consumers will have an extra paycheck to work with ahead of the holidays. However, shoppers are being more easily enticed to make purchases as early as October thanks to fierce price competition among retailers. This pulls sales forward into October and away from the traditional holiday retail season of November and December.”

Tech: “EU consumer groups hit Google with location tracking complaints” [Deutsche Welle]. “European consumer agencies on Tuesday said they will file complaints against Google for allegedly breaching the EU’s data protection law GDPR by tracking the movements of users without their consent through features such as ‘location history’ and ‘web and app activity.’ Consumer groups from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Greece, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Slovenia and Sweden said they will file complaints with their countries’ respective data protection authorities, which is basic procedure under GDPR.” • Horrid though Facebook is, Google should be spending a lot more time in the barrel than it is.

Tech: “Why Mark Zuckerberg’s ’empty chair’ policy is backfiring” [Politico]. “Politicians from nine countries — whose citizens on Facebook, collectively, total roughly 500 million, or around 200 million more than the population of the U.S. — are gathering in London Tuesday for a daylong gripe-fest aimed almost entirely at Zuckerberg and his failure to answer global fears that his social network now has too much clout beyond the U.S. border.”

Transportation: “How car sharing will impact US economy and what car makers can do about it” [Automotive IQ]. “In the last year, total revenue of car sharing business in the country has reached the point of $28.6 billion…. [T]ake a thorough look at the reasons making car borrowing undeniably popular. First, shared mobility is an exceptionally effective solution for the challenges associated with rapid urbanization…. The second reason[:] Affordability, as well as high maintenance costs, are enough for [Generation Z*] to dissuade from owning a vehicle and opt for a shared mobility alternative… The recent research highlights that more and more people in the United States are willing to share ride in a fully or partially autonomous vehicle… [S]hared vehicles are expected to be utilized more often compared to the private fleet cars. It means that the US car sharing providers will have to consistently renew their fleets.”

Infrastructure: “With New York Tunnel Project Stalled, Cuomo Will Meet With Trump” [Governing]. “The governor several weeks ago sent Trump a video of the current two aging and crumbling tunnels used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit that he says threatens commerce in the northeast corridor should it collapse…. ‘These tunnels are federally-owned by the Amtrak Corporation and must be replaced,’ Cuomo said in a statement later Thursday. ‘If only one of the two 100-year-old tunnels becomes unusable, it would pose a serious economic hardship for New York City and the entire Northeast corridor.'”

Ethics: “Only 1 in 10 companies report ethics KPIs” [Supply Chain Dive]. “Less than 10% of companies globally are reporting key performance indicators (KPIs) on business ethics, according to EcoVadis, which provides business sustainability ratings… Transportation, storage and manufacturing were among the industries scoring below the global average, signifying their high risk for corruption, bribery and fraud…. The enormity of malfeasance in the global economy might wear down even the most upstanding corporate citizen, creating a cynical environment that feeds on itself. The recent arrest of Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn for financial misconduct hardly created a ripple, all while Nissan holiday ads touting technology and family values flood nightly television.” • Not usual to see language like this in a business-focused publication.

Honey for the Bears/Fodder for the Bulls: “How to spot the next recession” (charts) [The Week]. “The longer a recovery goes on, the more people inevitably start wondering when the party will stop. Unfortunately, there’s no surefire way to predict the next crash. But there are some handy indicators and rules of thumb that might give us a hint…. While there are some modest reasons for concern, most of the economy’s indicators suggest the expansion will keep chugging along. Taken all together, it appears we can rest easy. For the moment, at least.”

The Fed: From Fed Chair Powell: “The Federal Reserve’s Framework for Monitoring Financial Stability” [Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System]. “My FOMC colleagues and I, as well as many private-sector economists, are forecasting continued solid growth, low unemployment, and inflation near 2 percent.”


“Opening Up the Climate Policy Envelope” [Issues in Science and Technology]. “For an aircraft to fly it must operate within a flight envelope, the combination of conditions such as airspeed, altitude, and flight angle necessary for successful operation. For a specific approach to climate action to succeed, it must operate within a policy envelope, the combination of policy design and political, economic, technological, and other conditions necessary for the approach to be effective. If aircraft designers sought to improve the performance of a poorly designed aircraft not by improving its design, but by rejiggering their claims about aerodynamics, or airfoil design, or jet fuel combustion thermodynamics, to match the aircraft performance they desire, it is obvious that the aircraft would still perform badly…. The failure of global climate policies to date suggests that new policy options should be explored—that we may need a significantly expanded policy envelope to begin to make satisfactory progress. But rather than exploring such options, we have instead been protecting the current policy envelope from critical scrutiny. One mechanism of such protection is via scenarios and assumptions that underlie the authoritative policy assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).” • Hoo boy. Gotta say, though, that it might make sense not to keep doing what doesn’t work…..

“Geoengineering as dispossession” [Monthly Review]. “Yet researchers examining the co-production between science and policy in the context of IAM modeling and identification of mitigation options have shown that the perception of model-based knowledge as ‘objective science’ lends significant authority to outcomes that might otherwise be more critically debated and contested, such as the large-scale use of bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS). Indeed, the emergence of BECCS as the go-to climate solution has been pinned to the IAM epistemic community, without serious engagement with social scientists, ecologists, or bioenergy experts. In contrast, including assumptions in models related to broader societal objectives, such as food security, are considered value judgments, which would risk undermining the purported scientific objectivity and hence political credibility of cost-optimization climate models.”

“Bent by the Sun” [Design Observer]. “Tsunekazu Nishioka, considered the last of the great Japanese temple carpenters, at whose workshop I studied for three years, was telling me how dismantling a 1300-year-old temple provided him the opportunity to study the ring structure of the old columns, which he estimated had been cut when they were 1000 years old. ‘So,’ I observed, ‘the tree was 1000 years old when the temple was built, and the temple is 1300 years old now, so in all we’re talking about a time span of 2300 years.…’ ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘And compared to that, a human lifespan is next to nothing.'”


“Trump Administration Ponies Up $449M for New California Dam” [Courthouse News]. “In an effort to boost California’s water infrastructure and alleviate the state’s perpetual drought worries, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said Tuesday his department will spend more than $449 million to help fund projects to increase the reliability and efficiency of the water supply across the state. Perdue joined Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, three Central Valley congressmen and others in making the announcement at the proposed Sites Reservoir. The $449 million would be used to build a pipeline connecting two canals that will eventually pipe runoff from the Sacramento River to fill the 1.8 million acre-foot reservoir. In addition to the money pledged by the Trump administration, California will pony up over $800 million in voter-approved bonds for the project…. The visit by Perdue and Zinke follows Trump’s creation of the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity in April 2017, which the president tasked with finding ways to promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities.” • Oh.

Health Care

“FDA’s Woodcock: ‘The clinical trial system is broken'” [Biopharma Dive]. “‘I believe the clinical trial system is broken,’ said Janet Woodcock, who has worked at the agency for more than three decades, at an industry panel on Nov. 14. ‘I do not believe it serves the interests of patients.’ Instead, the director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research pitched platform trials with master protocols, which she argued can more efficiently answer clinical questions… In July 2017, Woodcock made the argument for master protocols in a New England Journal of Medicine review article, which are overarching frameworks that can evaluate multiple treatments and diseases in the same trial…. “People have horror and anaphylaxis over this,” Woodcock said. “The statistical community believes this is a very valid statistical approach, but this isn’t how things have always been done.'” • Readers?

Class Warfare

“Who are “the People” in Criminal Procedure?” [Law & Political Economy]. “Calling an individual prosecutor “the People” sends a powerful message to courtrooms full of defendants and their supporters waiting for their cases to be called: a message that they are not part of “the People,” are not part of the public that matters. Even in jurisdictions in which the prosecution calls itself the ‘State,’ ‘Government’, or ‘Commonwealth,’ this idea—that the prosecutor is the People’s representative in the courtroom—pervades how we think and talk about prosecution and criminal procedure…. Thinking about ‘the people’ on both sides of a criminal case has implications for those who, taking a ‘Law and Political Economy’ approach to thinking about social and political change, pay special attention to relationships between power, inequality, and democracy. When we exclude from our idea of participation in the criminal process those who would bring the most radical visions for decarceration, we deepen political and structural inequalities even as we claim to be interested in ‘criminal justice reform.’ For despite widespread, though not universal, acknowledgement of the urgent need for large-scale criminal justice reform, mainstream reforms have yet to truly change the fundamental aspects of a system that arrests, prosecutes, and imprisons vast swaths of its population, with striking inequalities along lines of race, class, and gender. We cannot separate out the intractability of the carceral state from the relative powerlessness of those caught up in it.” • “Decarceration” is a word I haven’t heard before.

“In Iowa, Pioneering Undergrad Workers Union Keeps Growing” [Labor Notes]. “The 115 paradeucators in this small coastal city, just across the water from Canada, assist with everything from reading lessons to recess. Paraeducators play an essential role in today’s schools, offering extra attention and care to students who need it—especially those with disabilities. Teachers have refused to cross their picket lines, shutting down the district’s schools Thursday and Friday. Besides solidarity, another reason teachers were reluctant to cross the paras’ picket lines was ‘a lot of safety concerns,’ said Eric Pickens, president of the Port Angeles Education Association. ‘They’re trained to help out our most fragile students, students with special needs.’ The strikers are pushing the school district to grant wage increases they say they’re owed from state money.”

News of the Wired

“Is It Easier to Imagine the End of the World Than the End of the Internet?” [The Intercept]. Review of James Brindle’s New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future . “The chapter on ‘Climate’ discusses how our networked, high-tech society not only accelerates climate change, but actually destroys analog sources of knowledge (seed banks, archaeological remains stored in permafrost) in the process. ‘Complexity’ argues that computational technology in high finance distorts economic information and accelerates inequality. ‘Conspiracy’ shows how the algorithmic sorting of the internet channels ordinary people’s justified feelings of powerlessness and suspicion into siloed fringe groups, and ‘Concurrency’ zeroes in on YouTube, which, in its drive to maximize viewers’ screen time (and Google’s bottom line), abets the computer-generated production and autoplay of ultraviolent, hyper-disturbing children’s videos.”

“How Restaurants Got So Loud” [The Atlantic]. “According to Architectural Digest, mid-century modern and minimalism are both here to stay. That means sparse, modern decor; high, exposed ceilings; and almost no soft goods, such as curtains, upholstery, or carpets. These design features are a feast for the eyes, but a nightmare for the ears. No soft goods and tall ceilings mean nothing is absorbing sound energy, and a room full of hard surfaces serves as a big sonic mirror, reflecting sound around the room.” • Bring back the velvet curtains! Bring back the leatherette banquettes! Oh, but: “loud restaurants are more profitable. Constructing interiors out of hard surfaces makes them easier (and thus cheaper) to clean. Eschewing ornate decor, linens, table settings, and dishware makes for fewer items to wash or replace. Reducing table service means fewer employees and thus lower overhead. And as many writers have noted, loud restaurants also encourage profitable dining behavior. Noise encourages increased alcohol consumption and produces faster diner turnover. More people drinking more booze produces more revenue.”

“I still miss my headphone jack, and I want it back” [Fast Company]. “My daily 3.5 mm grind continues in the car, where I have both USB-C dongles and Lightning dongles, because iPhones and Android phones have different ports. In these moments as I search for the right adapter among dehydrated McDonald’s fries and other unmentionables in the console of my car, I find myself wishing–if only there was one universal audio port they both could use . . . like . . . I don’t know . . . some time-honored plug that’s been around for more than a century . . . that’s probably in a trillion cords worldwide . . . that would play Spotify through my mid-tier car stereo just as well as this newfangled stuff. What a world that would be!” • Apple didn’t used to be about crapification. Now it is.

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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 (JU):

JU writes: “It was a colorful fall in Mineral King Valley, along the Cold Springs Nature Trail, which winds through the hues. These are from a few weeks ago.”

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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. Off The Street

    Loud restaurants represent an opportunity to probe customer demand curves.

    I’m Torquemada and I’ll be your server. Say, would you pay extra to sit in one of our special atmosphere booths? It also has more legroom.’

    The airlines were ahead of that curve compared to simple food service places. Imagine the possibilities!

    1. Dave

      True, but I don’t have any other time-efficient way to travel distances more than a couple hundred miles, so I’m forced to deal with the airlines occasionally. I have a pretty inexpensive, efficient, and enjoyable method of eating regularly called a “kitchen” and so restaurants can only push that curve too far before I just give up on them.

  2. XFR

    OpenWorm is a project to emulate an embodied Caenorhabditis elegans (a microscopic roundworm) nervous system.

    A video of a test run of the worm body with an artificial muscle stimulus, misunderstood by many in the media to be an actual working simulation, a sizable flurry of coverage some years ago.

    Since then development has been all but stalled, just shy of completion, as the nervous system and body simulations are only connected in one direction–the nervous system can stimulate muscle contractions but cannot in turn be stimulated by physical interaction contact with its simulated environment.

    That is the subject of the following issue:


    Despite, by the project leader’s own count, hundreds of volunteers having offered their skills over the years, none as far as I can tell were directed to this task, and even though this is ostensibly the objective that the entire project has been working towards from the beginning, it was only formally opened as an issue a few months ago. Not a great deal activity since then, either.

    And notably issue 144’s first milestone, which has already been completed, is the only one which requires a detailed understanding of the simulation algorithms, and the last comment on the issue tracker links a recent paper on C. elegans nerve response to touch. OpenWorm is indeed a fully open project, and in principle anyone with some C++ and OpenCL experience and a rudimentary knowledge of neurology could download the sources and complete the simulation–and thereby presumably making history of a sort, whether the fully connected simulation works out of the gate or not, though obviously a fully working simulation would be more historic.

    (A very limited test of the worm’s head-tap reflex using brute stimulation of the nerves did produce results that matched numerical observations of the real worm quite well, though this reflex only involves a handful of neurons and the same results had been obtained by Japanese researchers many years ago. A complete worm simulation would obviously be another matter entirely.)

    Any takers?

    1. XFR

      Oof, “misunderstood by many in the media to be an actual working simulation, generated a flurry of coverage”.

  3. XFR

    Loud offices, loud libraries, loud restaurants… the business centre I’m posting this message from has piped in music at a deafening volume.

    Always some excuse for it all that sounds kind of plausible but still seems dodgy somehow.

    Yet commuter trains now have designated “quiet cars” where you can’t take phone calls.

    I can really only conclude that 1984 had it right and our culture is run by sadists.

      1. Jason Boxman

        Me too. I carry some cheap rubber ones from CVS on my keychain. Can’t sleep in them though. For that I highly recommend Flents Quiet Please. They don’t irritate when left in all night.

        1. Roland

          What’s been driving me nuts is all the telescreens everywhere. That situtation is getting like Nineteen Eighty-Four.

          In Vancouver, it seems like nobody knows how to run a restaurant without loud music, which makes it impossible for anybody to talk.

          A restaurant with reasonable quiet and a little bit of privacy isn’t necessarily hard to clean. The cheap highwayside restaurant where I used to work had soft vinyl seats in booths.

          Flent’s “Quiet Please” PVC earplugs are the best for prolonged use, but here in Canada they are becoming almost impossible to find in stores.

          1. XFR

            I’ve gotten into the habit of referring to CP24* as “CP84”.

            *Toronto’s cable news channel, always on in every ****ing venue whether you like it or not.

  4. Wukchumni

    The timing is interesting on the dam, and look at who it benefits:

    Under the program, communities with fewer than 5,000 people and with a median income at 60 percent of the state nonmetropolitan median household income will see 75 percent of a project’s tab picked up by the government. As population and median income rises, the grant money available decreases.

    Only communities with fewer than 20,000 people are eligible for the program.

    What it’s all about, is Ag had a race to the bottom in the Central Valley, especially around these parts where it was the worst affected in the drought.

    Million dollar wells were being drilled deeper, as the ones they thought were plenty deep previously and had served them well heretofore were all tapping out.

    To have to go deeper into hock and rock in drilling even further fathoms is unfathomable financially.

    Nunes & McCarthy win big for their Agstituency in the future, oh as long as there is water to fill the new dam.

    1. barefoot charley

      Colusa county is in the Sacramento valley, well north of the water hogs that this infrastructure will serve. Every drop of water stored here from the Sacramento’s high winter flows will flow far south every summer, where it will water more nuts for China, adding nothing to anyone’s employment, and having nothing to do with Colusa county. But I have to pay $1000 a year to store water from my own spring on my own property, to take less from fish in the summer. If only I were a corporate pecan orchard, things would be different around here!

  5. Wukchumni

    It’s very quiet here, tranquil even.

    I find that when I go to big metropolises and i’m eating @ a restaurant, close my eyes & listen, it sounds like an army of oversized insects chomping away-their words blending into a cacophony never to be confused with a symphony.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      it’s the same, here…no sound but the tinnitus.
      at least in winter.
      being habituated to this makes the sound levels in the city more acute.

      That said, I thought I’d seen everything. Last night, just as i’m drifting off, a great racket erupts on the front porch.
      Geese are out there, but they were silent(for once). I open the door and the porch and little yard and the gully are filled with blurs of fighting raccoons, racing around, screaming…just a mad frenzy of 20 or so high speed fuzzballs chasing each other.
      Before I could comprehend what was going on, 3(?) of them made a bee-line for me…fast.
      I spoke a Power Word and retreated for the nearest firearm(ancient saddle ringed 4440) and fired in the general direction of a large specimen….and they all instantly vanished.
      pretty crazy.
      Apparently, rival mobs will do this sometimes…fighting over resources…in this case, a compost pile.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i was buck nekkid, too.
          and not quite awake.
          so not really prepared for all that.
          I’ve seen many strange and wonderful things, but this is a new one.

        2. Sandra Lawrence

          As I recall, about 3-4 years back, five raccoons attacked a San Antonio, Texas woman in her back yard when she tried to shoo them away. They went for her legs and she was down. Fortunately, neighbors saw her fall and rushed to assist. She was taken to hospital. Tried to find link to this, could not, but there are several links to raccoon attacks of people and here’s one to similar story as San Antonio account: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/33175101/ns/us_news-life/t/pack-raccoons-mauls–year-old-woman/#.XAGg7ydRfOQ … Except they got more than her legs before help arrived. Raccoons can be vicious, especially the dominant males of the group (or gaze, if you’re picky & proper.)

          A marauding gang came down my chimney one night shortly after I moved into a house in the Texas hill country. They woke me breaking into doors to a buffet where I kept bags of cat food. Three of them were huge and enormously fat. I opened the front door, ran back to the bedroom to watch behind the door, and they went out. Next day I had a chimney cap installed and, for good measure, a wind vane atop to discourage a repeat. They looked big enough to maul a lone chimney cap.

      1. ambrit

        A saddle ringed 44/40. Don’t let any of the hospital people know you have it. They are going for insane prices on Gunbroker. If it’s an old one, a grand, easy.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          it’s my step-dad’s, and just happens to be over here, due to recent hunting.
          i know little about guns, except that this one is a good varmint gun, but not powerful enough for a clean kill of a deer.
          Looks all Longmirey, too.
          ammo is hard to find.

          1. ambrit

            I had to look up the Longmire reference. I hope it’s on YouTube, cause I ain’t got no steenkin Netflix since the daughter went on an economy campaign. (We were piggybacking on her subscription.)
            The 44/40 was both a carbine round and a handgun round back then. So, not too high powered, but adequate for general use.
            Check the manufacturer and model number, and look it up. I wasn’t kidding about the prices. Your stepdad could probably unload the 44/40, buy a 30/30, and still pay off the taxes on Tara.
            Now, about the definition of varmints pardner….

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              he’s a winchester fanatic…which is one of the many causes of my continuing tractorlessness,lol.
              this one’s a model 92.
              he’s T-5 paraplegic, Viet Nam, ’68…so we more or less forgive him such vices.
              I guess.

              “varmints” in Amfortasworld (Monsalvaat?lol) are “critters that need thinning”, per “management”.
              Boys just noticed that there’s a bobcat back on the place(I’ve known about it for some time).
              I forbade them molesting him/her. They don’t need thinning by any account…and are no threat to geese, or adult barbadoes.
              Coyotes are another matter…as are feral hogs.
              I’m thinking, given the frelling riot last night, that the coon population might be getting out of bounds again.(when I arrived, 25 years ago, there were a couple of hundred, in 2 great mobs. very destructive, and an unnatural population level. think deer of plum island)

              1. ambrit

                Oh my. It does become something of an ailment.
                I get your concept of “varminthood.” I fear that certain dark powers consider us as such. (Lambert and his Cassandra like warnings about the ‘Jackpot.’)

      2. a different chris

        >and fired in the general direction of a large specimen…

        ????? Couldn’t you just have, um, closed the door ?????

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yep. but they’re very destructive on a good day. such behaviour, over–apparently—a compost pile, indicates overpopulation…..exceeding the available resources in the woods.
          there’s a light pecan harvest this year, and few acorns for whatever reason…which are important to them.
          if too many make it through winter….due to my inadvertent largesse…I’ll be fighting them out of the fruit trees and grape vines and gardens, as well as fixing whatever they break.
          of course, these considerations at that moment were background noise.
          I was thoroughly in the Dao, as it were.
          (“…spoke a Power Word”=” yelled incoherently”)

      3. polecat

        Were those critter seen to be .. out of curiosity, touching a partially buried upright black monolith out in the back-forty somewhere recently ?? When you start noticing the alphas picking up a sun-bleached tapir femor, with those dexterous little ‘hands’, full of bad intent … well then … it’s time to up your game !

  6. Mark Gisleson

    Typo on the undergrad union story headline: It’s in Washington state, not Iowa. (Pull quote about coastal cities across from Canada confused this former Hawkeye.)

  7. RUKidding

    Vis noise levels and current minimalist restaurant design:

    Agree that some look good, and I get it that they’re easier to maintain/clean, etc. However, many of these newer establishments are combo Breweries + Sports bars. Add numerous giant screen tvs perched all around the restaurant loudly broadcasting a variety of sports ball games and OOF! What a noisy (and unappealing) place.

    Was visiting Encinitas, CA this past weekend. What used to be one of the epicenters of Hippy Heaven has now turned into Hipster Heaven. I think there’s at least 10 newer Brewery/restaurant/sports bars on Highway 101. They all look pretty much the same. They all feature many, many large screen tvs blaring out a variety of sports ball games, and they’re all super noisy. Don’t know if the menus are equally all the same, or if there’s any sort of variety in the food.

    Heaved a sigh of relief to find a lone veggie Thai restaurant that was super quiet playing low-key jazz. Food was fresh & yummy and not too expensive. Hooray for that remnant of the golden hippy age.

    I don’t know how all of those other restaurants can stay in business, since they all seem to be made from the same cookie cutter; they all look the same to me. Go figure. But they were mostly all pretty full on a Saturday night.

    1. Robert McGregor

      Alvin Toffler–a hundred years ago, okay 38 years ago–coined in his book, “The Third Wave” the phrase, “High Tech/High Touch.” Then, certain people would seek their “High Tech/High Touch” in discos. Discos are gone, but “Sports Bars” have replaced them.

      1. Robert McGregor

        “all pretty full on a Saturday night.”

        Like an old-fashioned Disco, a “Sports Bar” is “aiming higher on the sexual meter.” It is more like a Singles Bars than a low-key romantic restaurant. A “Sports Bar” in Atlanta (actually Norcross) actually has a strategy of hiring waitresses from the Strip Club down the highway.

  8. Robert McGregor

    Car-sharing: “Affordability, as well as high maintenance costs, are enough for [Generation Z*] to dissuade from owning a vehicle and opt for a shared mobility alternative”

    Strange economics to owning a car: Is an owned car’s real purpose to be a “tax donkey,” “interest donkey,” and “insurance premium donkey?”

  9. Wukchumni

    Ever notice noise levels of the people of different countries?

    Americans are loud, Germans not as much, but more than other Europeans.

    Anybody care to dare make a pecking order of countries in the developed world from decibels?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not countries, but music taste categories.

      From Googling ‘Loudest Rock Band On Record:

      “Guinness will no longer recognize records in this category due to potential hearing damage so there are a few estimates in this lot.
      Sleazy Joe. In 2008 the Swedish rockers reportedly hit 143.2dB in Hassleholm, Sweden.
      Manowar. …
      Leftfield. …
      Kiss. …
      Gallows. …
      Motorhead. …
      ACDC. …
      Led Zeppelin.

      The thing is noise can be lethal.

      And while we blame ocean plastic trash for everything, many tiny creatures could be killed during a rock concert.

  10. kareninca

    Re the earlier article re CPAP machines: here is some survival info. There is a charity that does not inquire concerning income (the American Sleep Apnea Association) that provides near-free CPAPs: https://www.sleepapnea.org/community/cpap-assistance-program/need-a-cpap-machine/. You need to have a prescription, and to send $100 to cover their costs. I have not used it but it certainly looks reputable. I nearly needed to apply through it on behalf of a relative who desperately needed one right away, but she was dealing with a dire family crisis and so didn’t have time to go through the usual route (it was not a cost problem). But we were lucky; our neighbors (the Evangelical Christian ones – yes, the ones who recently visited Noah’s Ark) came through for us; they had a CPAP that they were no longer using. The husband is an electrical engineer, so it was well stored and in good shape. I actually don’t know what we would have done if they had not helped; even the charity above would have taken too long in that situation.

    It is very, very important to use a CPAP if you need one. A close relative of mine just died of heart failure; he too was too stubborn to go for a sleep study until just a few months before his death. Naturally he was found to have severe sleep apnea. It was likely a large factor in the progression of his heart failure. As you lie there snoring and gagging, your heart is starving for oxygen.

    1. JTMcPhee

      My father snored violently and had all the other signs of apnea — at one point he “lost consciousness” on the toilet, pitched forward and nearly knocked himself out on the edge of the bathtub. The paramedics took him to “the best local hospital,” where the Reeeealy Smart Doctors decided he was having grand mal epileptic seizures — starting somehow at age 75, this disorder that just about only appears in early life.

      So they were going to dope him up with the heavy meds like Dilantin that they prescribe for epilepsy, when at one office visit I sat waiting with him for the doctor to appear, and noticed he sure looked like he was falling asleep repeatedly — not having some kind of absence seizure. Off to the sleep clinic, where he was not there half an hour before the tech stopped the test and called in the prescribing doctor, and got him fitted up with a BiPAP that assists both inspiration and expiration. Surprise, surprise, he almost stopped snoring and started sleeping well.

      He at this point was into the early to mid stages of congestive heart failure, with no doubt that it was brought on or at least vastly exacerbated by the many minutes of complete apnea he was having when trying to sleep. Said sleep being fragmentary and not restorative due to the constant gasping arousals.

      He had other issues, including eventually diabetes maybe contributed to by the apnea, and died 8 years later, from heart failure (it had swelled to the size of a work boot) but he regained a whole lot of his get-up-and-go after starting the BiPAP therapy. It was a pain in the butt, the cleaning routine and setup every night with the older devices, but it significantly improved and prolonged his life.

      Add one anecdote to the pile.

  11. clarky90

    Re; “Geoengineering as dispossession”

    Our “Wise Thought Leaders” have decided to assume the role of “Master Physicians” for doddering, clueless, Mother Earth. “She has a fever! What shall we (Know-it-Alls) prescribe? She is utterly helpless and witless. She requires our urgent, thoughtful ministration, to save Her! She is slipping away! OMG, omg….”

    “I know, let’s look at some costly, unproven, innovative Geo-Pharmaceuticals! That will help, for sure…..We could mechanically remove CO2 to decrease temperatures (for the ski season), and release Chlorofluorocarbons if we want to increase temperature (say, for important get-togethers at the sea-side). It is as easy as driving one of Elon Musk’s Tesla Roadsters! Brake, accelerator, brake, accelerator….”

    The article opines; “…sequestering carbon in soils by protecting permanent grasslands, adding organic material such as compost, or reducing the frequency of tilling…” , which is exactly what enormous herds of ruminants (bison, buffalo…, herded by wolves) had been doing, sans the “innovations” of brilliant post-grad students, for hundreds of thousands of years.

    I am (personally) a Deep Ecologist. This ecosystem has been around for billions of years. (Maybe longer if Life arrived via meteor showers from outer space). We humans are only making fools of ourselves.

    Anybody, who actually wants to help (imo), will live as simply as possible, and grow a big organic garden. Also, plant many trees; on waste land, road sides or land you own. I have a couple of acres of land, and it has turned into a mixed forest, merely by my inaction (no clearing or mowing), for 25 years. Sit back, and let Mother Earth work her magic.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Amazon Indian Nations who terraformed the Amazon before European Contact did not just sit back and let Mother Earth work the magic. They stood up and co-worked the magic along with Mother Earth.
      The North American Indian Nations mainTAINED huge areas as fruit, nut and meat-yielding fire gardens the size of whole lanscapes and territories.

      Gabe Brown, Mark Shephard, Bill Mollison and others are showing that informed aware intelligent people can be a functional part of the nature they live in. They may even achieve more carbon capture working with the land they know than if they simply abandon the land to “do its best”.

      Mere abandonment may not be enough. Active co-restoration may be necessary.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        One of the resources we amazingly Enlightened humans have trashed over the last couple of centuries is aboriginal knowledge. “That’s all obsolete now,” we exulted. “We are Enlightened, driven by reason not superstition. Whatever we need to know, we can discover with our test tubes and computers.”

        Sadly, much of the knowledge accumulated by many cultures over millennia, knowledge that would be a great help in these times when life itself is under threat, has been lost.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The North American Indian Nations mainTAINED huge areas as fruit, nut and meat-yielding fire gardens the size of whole lanscapes and territories.

        From 2015:

        Perhaps idiosyncratically, I believe that horticulture (as opposed to agriculture; see Jared Diamond, “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race”) is an activity that’s intrinsically worthwhile; considered rightly, even one of the arts, like painting, or music, or poetry. 1491‘s author, Charles Mann, says that some anthropologists consider Amazonia — very large portions of which are an edible forest — “a cultural artifact,” perhaps the world’s largest. And indeed, a garden may share many characteristics with art: Beauty, survival for more than one generation,

  12. Amfortas the hippie

    re: courthouse news thing on a dam.
    they mention something called the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity, which i had never heard of(yay, MSM!), so I went awanderin’.
    just in case one of trumps pseudo-fdr funny bones had been tingling.
    sadly, it looks like it could have been cobbled together by a booker-rorbacher tag team…standard govspeak…with a focus on broadband.
    …which focus leads to my question: rural issues are one of my main things…why is the focus always on broadband?
    they specify in this case things like job training and education(for what jobs?) and “access to markets”(so we can compete with cargill?…or become tenants for them?)…but don’t we all know that it will merely further the fall into facebook bliss and netflix?
    I just don’t understand how this is supposed to fix any of the things that ail Out Here.
    some help for local ag, access to local and regional markets for things we can produce? not mentioned. help for small manufacturing? nada.
    just give them better streaming and they’ll forget all about it?

    1. marku52

      It wont’ hurt. My wife was looking into getting a cert as a tax preparer. Out where we lived at the tail end of Crappy Century Stink DSL, there was no way to stream the training videos for the test.

      Also, small manufacturing needs good internet to transfer design files.

      Rural America needs all kinds of help, decent internet is one piece. kind of like electricity was in the FDR era.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I get that aspect (like rural electrification), but it always seem to be at the top of the list for these commissions/initiatives…often to the exclusion of numerous other things.
        wife took some of her classes online(crappy and expensive satellite, which replaced crappier but cheap dialup)

        my mind always goes to the cartelization of ag…and the laser focus on a few commodities that are wholly controlled by giants. milk cartels, egg cartels. barriers to entry for anything else we could grow. same is trying to happen with the infant wine industry.
        and the cartelization goes deeper than ag.
        a spanish conglomerate bought up the nursing home(and closed it), the clinic(part time doctor), and both home health companies(appearance of competition)…here and in every little town for a hundred miles.
        yesterday, I learned that both propane companies…as well as their peers for a hundred miles around…were bought by a giant holding company.
        there’s still the appearance of small business, so nobody is really aware that the people who once were proprietors are edging down towards McEmployees.
        there are huge, systemic disconnects between rhetoric and reality…most of it having to do with certain syllogisms: AMD=Farmer is my least favorite

        1. ambrit

          Reminds me of stories I’ve read about the later Roman Empire period and the centralization of everything. That did not end well. Neither will this.

  13. Ranger Rick

    Re: imagining the Internet after the apocalypse

    This has been a long-running theme in the study of digital ephemera: very little of what we have now will survive even twenty years. The entire panoply of human expression is increasingly being stored in ones and zeroes on media believed to be long-lived but in practice rarely preserves intact data beyond a few years. The end result is an eternal game of “hot potato” as data must be shuffled between storage locations in order to keep it intact.

    And that’s before we even get to the apocalyptic scenarios, which would throw the whole operation into chaos. Some of the more hardcore archivists are looking into storing digital information in physical media for just such an occasion.

  14. DonCoyote

    RE: Apple’s missing headphone jack

    Hey, that’s not crapification, it’s courage. Apple went MAGA. Because it’s courage to want people to use your (sold separately) $160 wireless headphones.

    But what did Apple actually do with that space in the IPhone 7?

    Apparently adding all the waterproofing to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus meant that it was more of a sealed box, and so to be able to have an accurate and working barometer, Apple used that space. The barometer is the thing that allows a phone to measure altitude, and Apple points out that on the iPhone 7 it can measure even minor changes like climbing a flight of stairs.

    So they made it easier to track your Z-axis. How courageous.

  15. Summer

    Re: Is Easier To Imagine The End of the World than the Internet?
    “What is needed is not new technology,” Bridle writes in the opening pages, “but new metaphors.” In contrast to computational thinking, which falsely thinks it can behold and comprehend every fact about the world…”

    Boom. Drop mic…

    1. John

      Nancy Pelosi will be a great speaker. The conservative rump is wrong to go after her. It’s her job to get things done, others can be cheer leaders pushing for one policy or another.

      1. todde

        it’s going to be great.

        It is amazing that the Republicans are Nazis, but once a Dem has an inkling of some power, the Repubs suddenly become ‘someone we can work with’.

      2. ambrit

        Ahem. Uh, sir, it is the progressive rump that should be going after her. She is as neo-liberal as it gets. FDR would have welcomed her hate.
        Me, I’m beginning to like the formulation: Vichy Dems. Pelosi is the Petain of Democrat governance.

        1. Roland

          At least Petain had been a skilled and victorious general, before his contempt for the Third Republic led him into collaborating with the Germans.

          1. ambrit

            Yes. Pelosi, can get things done. Just not what old style Democrats want. I’m saying she’s caved in too often. Getting along has failed the rank and file of the party for too long.
            Petain caved in to the Germans, and tried to get along. Sit through Marcel Ophuls’ “The Sorrow and the Pity,” a French documentary about what really went on in France during WW2. The price of “getting along.”
            TSATP: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sorrow_and_the_Pity
            DeGaulle, for all his faults, knew what was needed, and did it. The Allied Powers considered him a pain in the a—, but necessary to rally France when the invasion of the Continent finally got underway.

        2. divadab

          She voted against the Iraq war resolution which redeems a lot of she does that’s required to be successful in a corrupt system.

          She’s a bout as good as a corporatist can be. Not a total lying grifter like a certain presidential candidate.

          1. ambrit

            “..about as good as a corporatist can be.” Damning with faint praise here.
            So she voted against the Irak war resolution. What has she done for us lately, if anything?
            I’d say that what’s “required to be successful in a corrupt system” is essentially, corruption itself. Thus, she has become one of “them” as far as the rank and file of the Democrat Party is concerned. As an example; if the people need a bridge built to facilitate the two halves of a city to cooperate and thrive, and the politicos build instead, a big modern yacht club for the donor class, do you expect the grateful yacht owners to give free ferry rides across the river?
            If she had any integrity at all, she would chose a signature old style Democrat Party policy and champion it.
            The Onion piece about Occasio-Cortes and her poverty stricken lapel pin flag was with another piece where a holographic Pelosi is elected House Speaker in 2078. The Onion should have made that, holograph elected in 2018.
            Speaking of Occasio-Cortes; now that she has kissed the ring, what committee assignments will she get? How the Democrat nomenklatura treat her and the other newly elected ‘non-standard’ Democrat Representatives will be an educational spectacle worthy of gourmet popcorn.

            1. Pat

              You know when I still thought the public option was a nod to single payer and a means to help force that along (more fool I), I used to give Pelosi credit for it making it through the House. But I am older and wiser and now recognize that a hard balling Pelosi could have forced the issue in reconciliation as well. Nice front for we wanted to do it, but…Losing that, I have tried to think of one thing that Pelosi has actually accomplished as Speaker, or even Minority leader, that has truly been old school Democratic Party policy. I’ve got nothing.

              I will give her, that she is subtler about the outright complicity than Schumer who just doesn’t even bother beyond mouthing some platitudes anymore. But that is also damning with faint praise.

              That said, I’ve been trying to think who should be Speaker, and very honestly I cannot think of anyone who is more old school Democratic Party who has the organizational/rules of order chops for the job. I would still dump her, but I’m pretty damn sure her successor would probably be incompetent and ineffectual at best or complicit and even more “bipartisan” than Schumer.

              They never seem to be better than the last.

          2. John Wright

            Given where Pelosi hails from (San Francisco) voting against the Iraq war was not going to hurt her standing with the voters who elect her.

            Presidential aspirants Sens HRC, Kerry, and Biden may have thought that they needed to appeal to wider national base, which may have been why they voted for the Iraq war.

            Remember Pelosi’s machinations on TPP?

            Reports had her working behind the scenes to get TPP passed with enough votes so she could vote against it as her SF district was opposed.

            Now if the Iraq war resolution required a single vote to pass and Pelosi then voted against it, that would state a lot.

            But that wasn’t the case.

            The elite got their war and Pelosi got to garner good publicity, in her district, by voting against it.

  16. JohnnyGL


    Cenk and Ana are really embarassing themselves on Russia-gate. Lots of dis-proven stories recycled.

    Cenk keeps saying Trump did money-laundering. BANKS ARE RESPONSIBLE for Anti-Money Laundering law compliance. Not property sellers.

    Also, way too much love for Mueller, aka the Deep State’s janitor.

    1. pjay

      Yes, Cenk has a real problem with the Russkies. I have my suspicions as to why, but I’m not sure, so… It seems like almost every “alt” lefty who wants to be seen as “legitimate” (perhaps with the exception of Greenwald) has to pay homage to the anti-Russia meme.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “With New York Tunnel Project Stalled, Cuomo Will Meet With Trump”

    With two aging and crumbling tunnels used by Amtrak and New Jersey Transit I thought that the solution would be obvious. Trump promise to do one tunnel while Cuomo gets to do the other. Then you get a bit of competition going who can do a better job and put both men’s ego on the line. To seal the deal, tell them that when finished, each tunnel will bear the name of that man which would ensure that it would not be a crap job.

  18. Amfortas the hippie

    I’m pleased that you turned me on to the Law and Political Economy blog.
    lots to chew on, there…and different from the run of the mill.
    as far as prosecutors being high and mighty, and often having delusions of grandeur…we hafta ask how they got that way. Turns out, it’s been in a relative vacuum: http://gideonat50.org/the-issue/
    ie: one side of the adversarial system we supposedly have is all but missing, for a lot of defendants.
    I never, ever see the state of Public Defense mentioned on either the local or the national tv news. It’s invisible until you need it.

    1. Jason Boxman

      It was mentioned in a season two episode of Boston Legal. Been watching it lately, because Boston. The talk of climate change is all the more disturbing because nothing has happened in 15 years.

  19. Anon

    Re: Politico Early Voting

    I didn’t see it in the comments, but there is no link to that article there.

  20. ewmayer

    o “Trump Administration Ponies Up $449M for New California Dam” [Courthouse News] — It is useful to compare that outlay to CA’s pet progressive-visionary-state boondoggle, the high-speed-rail-to-nowhere project, which is currently burning $3.1 million per day with no end in sight – they’re saying they need roughly 10x that burn rate just to really get started. Wonder how much of the current outlay is going to high-priced-consultancy grift… Oddly, said project almost never makes the news. Maybe Trump needs to start flame-tweeting about it just to get it back on the MSM radar.

    o “FDA’s Woodcock: ‘The clinical trial system is broken’” [Biopharma Dive] … Readers? — I would suggest deploying an EpiPen to counter the “horror and anaphylaxis” Ms. Woodcock cites, but who can afford one?

  21. Sparkling

    Honestly, I’m just glad I won’t have to watch Iowa get fetishized for over a month. Candidates might start campaigning in other states too.

  22. Big River Bandido

    This from Nov. 16 — not sure how I missed it but since I did, I’m assuming it wasn’t on NC. This News In Brief (and it’s *really* brief) is revealing — AOC has, at least, conquered The Onion.

    1. ambrit

      This is quintessential Onion. Multiple meanings. Taking the mickey of politics.
      Fun. The picture is great too. Notice the photoshopped lapel pin.

  23. charles 2

    And no human’s life is measurably better since Apple had the “courage” to remove the 3.5 mm jack.

    Mine definitely is. Waterproofing the phone has been a big plus for me, and it required the 3.5mm jack to go, to avoid water intake and to make room to the haptic home button, which is much better than the mechanical one that was always the first part to fail on my preceding phones. Waterproof also meant that only a much smaller case, only focused of amortising shocks on the corners, was needed. Also, the battery argument (jacked headphone don’t need battery) is moot because it still has to be powered, and that power comes from the phone, which consumes its battery faster…

    I admit that the author is right when he says that bluetooth headphones suck, but I would add “until the AirPods came”. What was really evil from Apple was to remove the jack years before AirPods were delivered. Personally, I fought that by upgrading my phone to jackless only after AirPods emerged.

    Similarly, I think FaceID to unlock the phone sucks, and I won’t upgrade until Apple delivers a better solution (My suggestion to Apple is to port MacOS auto unlock with Apple Watch to iOS)

    1. Carolinian

      Seems like Sony had water resistant music players that somehow managed to include a 3.5mm jack. You couldn’t take them skin diving but then you probably don’t do that with your iPhone either. The wire to the headphone also served as an antenna for the included FM radio and Android phones now have these radios too–more for safety purposes (emergency broadcasts) than for music listening these days.

      Apple, somewhat controversially, declined to include a radio app when govt agencies suggested it. They’d have to give in on their jack phobia

      1. RMO

        I’ve been using a waterproof phone that also has a 3.5mm jack for years. Apparently this is beyond Apple’s capability. AirPods give me a splitting headache – many earphones manage to sit right on some sort of pressure points in my ears and start hurting quickly. I’m thankful that the really cheap Sony in-ear headphones are comfortable for me. The first in-ears I had were Etymotic. Great sound and very comfortable but also very expensive. I’m happy with the Sony’s for casual listening and around-the-ear Sennheisers for more immersive use.

        I’m not happy with Apple’s direction of late. I’ve been an Apple customer for a long time but they’ve lost me at this point.

  24. allan

    Hard as it is to believe, the obsession of the GOP and their camp followers among the pundit class
    with freedom of speech is a fraud, trotted out or discarded depending on who’s speaking:

    UW System president reprimands UW-La Crosse chancellor for ‘poor judgment’ in inviting porn star to speak

    [Journal Sentinel]

    The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse chancellor who invited a porn star to campus to talk about the adult entertainment industry as part of free speech week has been reprimanded “for exercising poor judgment.”

    And it may cost him more than the $5,000 he already paid from his own pocket to cover her speaking fee after a backlash drew international attention. …

    In a letter of reprimand placed in Gow’s personnel file and obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, UW System President Ray Cross told the chancellor: “This will impact your salary adjustment … ”

    Additionally, Cross said he will call for a four-year, retroactive audit of the sources and uses of Gow’s office discretionary fund, which the chancellor initially used to pay the speaking fee for 59-year-old adult film actress Nina Hartley …

    Hartley wrote a guest opinion piece for the La Crosse Tribune, defending her appearance on campus. She said she’s a registered nurse “who happens to be a ‘porn star,’ ” and that she is “trained to effectively address human pain, both physical and psychic.” …

    UW System Regent Bob Atwell’s guest opinion piece in the La Crosse Tribune pointedly criticized Gow’s judgment and took a shot at Hartley.

    “I suspect she is fantasizing about negotiating with the reality of life as a porn star too old to be much in demand,” Atwell said of Hartley. …

    Classy. Needless to say, both Cross and Atwell are Scott Walker appointees.

  25. djrichard

    Employment: “The Labor Force Participation Rate Trend and Its Projections” [Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco]. “We find that the [Labor Force Participation (LFP)] rate is at its trend of 62.8% in 2018, suggesting that the labor market is at full employment.

    Shorter: This is the new normal. And after it goes down even more so (e.g. after the next recession), well we’ll then call that the new normal.

  26. dcblogger

    Great news! Today we ended our recount lawsuit in the state of Pennsylvania with a settlement guaranteeing that Pennsylvania will provide new voting systems using paper ballots by 2020, followed in 2022 by automatic audits after every election to confirm the accuracy of the vote before results are certified.
    everyone who donated to Jill Stein’s recount bid can take a bow.

  27. djrichard

    Who are “the People” in Criminal Procedure?” [Law & Political Economy]. … this idea—that the prosecutor is the People’s representative in the courtroom—pervades how we think and talk about prosecution and criminal procedure….

    From my perspective, the idea is to validate authority. And nothing validates authority like “evil doers” being cast out.

    Which by the way is why I think the dems have focused all their attention on the suburban voters. That’s their target audience (an audience that wants to validate authority) for adjudicating “The People” vs Trump.

  28. Unna

    A criminal prosecution is brought by the Sovereign. In the United States the People is sovereign so prosecutions are brought in the name of “the People,” i.e., for an alleged offense against “the peace and dignity of the People of the State of…”

    By contrast, in Canada a prosecution is brought by “the Crown”. I admit I prefer the concept of the People being sovereign and bringing prosecutions as a free People in its own name as opposed to some hereditary monarch bringing a prosecution in her own name.

    Having said that, a deep moral responsibility rests upon any “People” which has assumed to itself political sovereignty to monitor and supervise through the political system the prosecutors, judges, and police forces it uses to secure its “peace and dignity”. Also let’s not forget the role of the jury in a criminal trial as the immediate representative of the People which judges criminal guilt as peers of the accused. There is no honour in avoiding jury duty which is perhaps the closest an ordinary citizen ever comes to governing by judging.

    The silliness of NY’s referring to the prosecutor as “the People” aside, it seems to me a good thing that in the courtroom it remains clear who is doing what: the People as Sovereign is engaged in the very serious business of bringing a criminal accusation against one of its members with the possibility of incarceration or even death.

    The problem for me is more that in mass anonymous societies or in societies of great social and economic inequality, too many do not regard others as their peers nor do they take much interest in supervising how the law is enforced or administered leading to assembly line class based race imbalanced “justice” which in the United States has resulted in the incarceration of 25% of the imprisoned population of the entire world which is quite the accomplishment. I doubt whether changing the names of he players will affect any of this.

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