2:00PM Water Cooler 12/27/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“The Battle Over NAFTA 2.0 Has Just Begun” [Lori Wallach, The Nation]. “On the upside, NAFTA’s outrageous investor privileges and ISDS tribunals are dramatically reined in under NAFTA 2.0… For Mexico, ISDS is replaced by a new approach: Whereas ISDS allows investors to skirt domestic courts, the new process requires investors to use such courts to resolve disputes with a government until the highest available domestic court rules, or until two and a half years pass with no resolution. In the latter case, an investor can seek compensation—but only for limited claims…. The five other investor protections in NAFTA that have resulted in almost all payouts so far are eliminated in the new agreement….. However, unless the final deal includes strong labor and environmental standards that are subject to swift and certain enforcement—which is not the case with the NAFTA 2.0 text—US firms will continue to outsource jobs, pay Mexican workers poverty wages, and dump toxins in Mexico. Absent a remedy to this fundamental failing, NAFTA 2.0 will face broad opposition.”

“China’s draft foreign investment law bans forced tech transfer, emphasizes reciprocity” [Reuters]. “China has proposed a ban on forced technology transfer and illegal government ‘interference’ in foreign business operations, practices that have come under the spotlight in a trade dispute with the United States. A draft foreign investment law, the full text of which was published by the top legislature on Wednesday, comes as China tries to resolve its protracted standoff with the United States, which accuses it of unfair trade practices including intellectual property (IP) theft and forced IP transfer.”

“China says it has made plans with the US for a face-to-face trade meeting in January” [CNBC]. “China and the United States have made plans for face-to-face consultations over trade in January, the Chinese commerce ministry said on Thursday, as the world’s two biggest economies advanced efforts to resolve a months-long trade war. Consultations through “intensive” telephone calls will continue in the meantime, Gao Feng, spokesman at the commerce ministry, told reporters, adding that talks have been steadily moving forward despite the Christmas break in the United States.”


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



“California moves up primary, wants bigger impact 2020 vote” [Associated Press]. “Early voting in California’s primary will overlap with the traditional early nominating contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina. That could force the sprawling field of Democrats to navigate those states as well as California’s notoriously complex landscape, where campaigning is done through paid political ads. Strategists estimate it could cost at least $5 million for a candidate to compete in California, an amount that could be prohibitive for all but the best-funded contenders. Nascent campaigns are asking themselves if they should gamble on California.” • So liberal Democrats are optimzing the primaries for the donor class. Oh.


“Stacey Abrams has joined the Center for American Progress’ board of directors” [Albany Herald]. “Former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, who ran unsuccessfully in November against Brian Kemp in a bid for the governor’s mansion, is joining the Center for American Progress’ board of directors, the organization announced last week… ‘The entire American Progress organization is thrilled to welcome Stacey Abrams to the Center for American Progress’ board of directors,’ Neera Tanden, president and CEO of CAP, said in a statement…. Abrams is also a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations ‘I am honored to be joining the board of Center for American Progress,’ Abrams said in a statement. ‘Led by the extraordinary Neera Tanden, CAP has been at the forefront of progressive policy development and activism for years. Together we will find and support bold solutions on health care access, voting rights, the economy, and other critical issues our nation faces.'” • [vomits]. It’s gonna be great, watching Neera deploy “listen to Black women” to advance whatever pissant solution she has in mind to prevent #MedicareForAll (the liberal Democrat leadership’s #1 policy goal). So much for Stacey Abrams, though in retrospect I suppose CFR membership would have been a tell.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What do the suburbs want?” [Vox]. “‘We are facing the prospect of realignment in your Rockefeller Republican districts,’ Rep. Ryan Costello, who retired rather than run for reelection again as a Republican in suburban Pennsylvania, told me. “That’s on the table.’…. ‘They view this literally as a crisis. The Trump presidency is a crisis to democracy, our values, our morality,’ Christine Matthews, a Republican pollster, said. ‘It is making women physically sick. That is the word they use all the time — the word is ‘nauseous.'” • This is a useful article, though it’s making me a little queasy, since liberal Democrats regard these Republicans as their future. More: “[S]uburban voters have what we might call middle-class economic anxiety. They worry about health care. Many of them have aging parents, making them more familiar with medicine’s rising costs. These are generally white-collar workers, but out-of-pocket costs for employer-sponsored insurance (which those workers typically have) have also gone up in recent years.” • Hilariously, economic anxiety is derided as a motivation for voters in the flyover states.

“Barack Obama Goes All In Politically to Fight Gerrymandering” [The Atlantic]. “On Thursday night, Obama announced a major shift in the politics of his post-presidency, folding his Organizing for Action group into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. The consolidation focuses and directs Obama’s political activity and fund-raising for a cause that has become a major focus since he left the White House: gerrymandering reform. It ends the six-year existence of OFA, formed out of the pieces of Obama’s reelection campaign, which at times struggled to find footing with a clear mission. The Chicago-based group will cease to exist….. [H]e recruited Eric Holder, his friend and former attorney general, to chair…. Holder, who will continue chairing the group as he considers whether to launch a 2020 campaign himself.” • From Obama’s mailer, the Executive Director will be Kelly Ward, Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. So, lots to parse here. First, Eric Holder. Wowsers. Second, the DCCC. Wowers. Third, Obama is not seeking to expand the Democrat base with voter registration (see above on suburban Republicans).

“Miguel Salazar Wants You to Think Marxism is Racist–But He Doesn’t Want to Own It” [Benjamin Studebaker]. Yet again on the DSA: “[L]et me tell you in layman’s terms what this debate is really about. Materialists–like Marx–think that conditions produce ideas. Idealists–like Hegel–think that ideas produce conditions. For materialists, racism came about because Europeans encountered people of colour and discovered that they could easily enslave and subjugate them. The Europeans wanted to explain why it was possible for them to do this and justify continuing to do it. Racism provides an apparent explanation and justification for European oppression. The Europeans can oppress people of colour because they are stronger, and they are stronger because of racial superiority. Notice how, for the materialist, the fact of oppression precedes the justifying ideology. The Europeans start oppressing people of colour before they come up with racism as the justifying explanation. So to get rid of racism, this oppression must first be eliminated, and to eliminate oppression it’s necessary to eliminate the disparity in wealth and power which makes it possible in the first place. In practice, this leads materialists to heavily prioritise redistribution. By contrast, an idealist will argue that the idea of racism precedes racist oppression. Therefore we need to change what people believe before we can change their behaviour. So for idealists, we have to educate people, raise awareness, have a ‘conversation’, and so on.”

Stats Watch

“Data and the #TrumpShutdown” [Calculated Risk]:

If the shutdown doesn’t end quickly – the one in January 2018 lasted just two days – several agencies will not release regular government reports. For the current week, the November new home sales report will be delayed.

Update: The BLS is fully funded, and the December employment report will be released on time.

Private data – like the pending home sales report this week – will still be released. All Federal Reserve data will continue to be released (separate funding).

Also, the DOL will continue to process unemployment claims and release the weekly initial unemployment claims report.

If the shutdown lasts through this week, we should see a spike in claims in the report released the following week.

Jobless Claims, week of December 22, 2018: “There has been no breakdown in the labor market this month based on jobless claims which remain low and favorable” [Economic Anxiety]. “Clouding today’s results, however, are an unusual number for state estimates including for California and Texas which raise the risk of sizable revisions in next week’s report.”

Consumer Confidence, December 2018: “n its least optimistic showing since July, the consumer confidence index fell” sharply [Econoday]. “The good news in the report is a further and sharp decline in those saying jobs are currently “hard to get”, down 1 percentage point to a very low 11.6 percent reading that, like this morning’s jobless claims data, should confirm expectations for strength in the December employment report…. The weakness in today’s confidence report is not in current conditions but, for a second straight month, in expectations where job prospects and the outlook for business conditions have been eroding.” And: “Consumer confidence has been on a multi-year upswing. The softening this month and last is predicted to be the beginning of a downtrend – and is showing a growing uncertainty by consumers” [Econintersect].

FHFA House Price Index, October 2018: “Moderation is the theme for home prices, both for yesterday’s Case-Shiller report and also for today’s FHFA house price index which managed a moderate but still solid monthly gain” [Econoday].

Coincident Index: “November 2018 Philly Fed Coincident Index Year-over-Year Rate of Growth Again Marginally Slows” [Econintersect]. “The year-over-year rate of growth relative to the previous month of the US Coincident Index declined… most of the economic indicators have moderate to significant backward revision – and this month they are generally showing slowing growth. Out of this group of coincident indicators discussed in this post, only ECRI and the Aruoba-Diebold-Scotti business conditions index have no backward revision – and both have a good track record of seeing the economy accurately in almost real time.” And: “In November, 45 states had increasing activity (including minor increases)” [Calculated Risk].

The Bezzle: “Grab is messing up the world’s largest mapping community’s data in Southeast Asia” [TechCrunch]. “Accurate maps are, of course, essential to a smooth ride-hailing experience for Grab’s 125 million registered users. Without accurate location details, ensuring that drivers and passengers can easily rendezvous becomes nearly impossible…. An India-based team from GlobalLogic, an outsourced software firm contracted by Grab, made dozens of edits in recent months that overwrote information created by OSM members, who voluntarily map streets by visiting them in person. Grab suspended work in Thailand by the GlobalLogic team after OSM members complained about numerous incorrect edits in OSM forum posts… Unlike the hobbyist mappers who collect data in person, the Grab contractors used satellite imagery to “correct” local map details in Thailand which, in fast-changing cities like Bangkok, meant that their work was incorrect because it relied on out-of-date sources.,,, Beyond making incorrect edits using a remote team, Grab — which is finalizing a $3 billion funding round from the likes [of] Toyota and SoftBank, and has raised $6.8 billion to date — appears to be using OSM data without proper attribution.” • “Grab.” Indeed.

Tech: “Exclusive: Foxconn to begin assembling top-end Apple iPhones in India in 2019 – source” [Street Insider]. “Apple Inc will begin assembling its top-end iPhones in India through the local unit of Foxconn as early as 2019, the first time the Taiwanese contract manufacturer will have made the product in the country, according to a source familiar with the matter. Importantly, Foxconn will be assembling the most expensive models, such as devices in the flagship iPhone X family, the source said, potentially taking Apple’s business in India to a new level. The work will take place at Foxconn’s plant in Sriperumbudur town in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, said the source, who is not authorized to speak to the media and so declined to be named.” • Not in Wisconsin, apparently. Looks like Apple decided betting its business on China wasn’t such a good idea.

Tech: “Emotionally-Sensitive AI-driven Android Interactions Improve Social Welfare Through Helping People Access Self-Transcendent States” (PDF) [32nd Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS 2018), Montréal, Canada]. From the abstract: “[A] novel use of humanoid robots, especially robots drawing on emotionally sensitive AI, is to use the context of what feels like a human relationship to help people practice reaching advanced stages in human development. At the peak of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and models of self-development is the state of self-transcendence, which includes expansive feelings of love. Although beings can have difficulty reaching this state, several lines of research have shown that even briefly accessing states of self-transcendence can improve physical and psychological well-being. In this paper we briefly present results of the first experiments of which we are aware in which AI-driven, audiovisual, interactive android technology is successfully used to support the experience of self-transcendence. Individuals had AI-driven conversations with emotionally responsive AI embedded in a humanoid robot, its audio-visual avatar, or audioalone avatar. These conversations were based on exercises reported to induce self-transcendence in humans. The results suggest that conversations between humans and a humanoid robot or its audiovisual avatar, controlled by emotionally responsive AI, are accompanied by self-transcendent emotions. Most importantly, objective correlates of those emotions are detectable by a deep learning network.” • That sounds like really valuable data. I wonder how much you could sell it for.

Tech: “What it’s like to watch an IBM AI successfully debate humans” [The Verge]. “The goal was for the AI to engage in a series of reasoned arguments according to some pretty standard rules of debate: no awareness of the debate topic ahead of time, no pre-canned responses. Each side gave a four-minute introductory speech, a four-minute rebuttal to the other’s arguments, and a two-minute closing statement. Project Debater held its own. Project Debater cited sources, pandered to the audience’s affinity for children and veterans, and did a passable job of cracking a relevant joke or two in the process.” • The next phase of online customer experience, I suppose. See here.

The Fed: “Don’t Know Nothing [Eschaton]. “One can’t always distinguish between the lies, the shifting incentives, and the ignorance. And Trump is right sometimes even when he’s wrong! He’s right about the Fed chair.” • Trump lays waste to another cherished institution, which was operating to an almost superhuman peak of perfection until the day after Trump was inaugurated.

Mr. Market: “Dow falls more than 400 points as stock market relinquishes chunk of historic surge” [MarketWatch]. • Mr. Market is having a psychotic episode.

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on financial unrest. “Many financial indexes are down more than 20% for the year” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing.

The 420

“Legal weed is everywhere — unless you’re a scientist” [Politico]. “Americans can legally buy high quality marijuana in most states, but when scientists want to study pot in a lab, they’re basically stuck with schwag. A little-known research facility at the University of Mississippi is the only place in the country that is authorized to grow and test marijuana for medical research purposes. But this effort is stymied by a slow process for certifying scientists, a lack of funding and according to pot experts, an inferior product compared to what the booming cannabis sector has rolled out in recent years.” • So we’ve legalized marijuana, put its production and distributions in the hands of corporations, and rendered ourselves incapable of regulating the product for health and safety. Everything’s going according to plan.


“The Farm Bureau: Big Oil’s Unnoticed Ally Fighting Climate Science and Policy” [Inside Climate News (DK)]. “For more than three decades, the Farm Bureau has aligned agriculture closely with the fossil fuel agenda. Though little noticed next to the influence of the fossil fuel industry, the farm lobby pulled in tandem with the energy lobby in a mutually reinforcing campaign to thwart the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, legislation like the Waxman-Markey economywide cap-and-trade plan, and regulations that would limit fossil fuel emissions…. Linda Prokopy and colleagues at Purdue and Iowa State universities found in surveys in 2011 and 2012 that while 66 percent of corn producers said they believed climate change was occurring, only 8 percent said human activities were the main cause. A quarter thought natural variations were at work, and a full 31 percent said there wasn’t enough information to show that global warming was underway.” • An excellent and revealing article, bearing directly on implementing a Green New Deal in rural areas.

“2 Michigan Regulators Take Plea Deals in Flint Water Case” [Courthouse Press]. “Two Michigan environmental regulators implicated in the Flint water scandal pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor Wednesday in exchange for more serious charges being dropped, bringing to six the number of officials who have agreed to such deals. Stephen Busch pleaded no contest to disturbing a public meeting, and Michael Prysby pleaded no contest to a count of violating Michigan’s Safe Drinking Water Act. They had been charged with felonies, but those charges and others were dismissed under the terms of their deals that also require them to testify against others, if needed.” • Can any readers from Michigan say whether this is likely to happen?

“How easy is it to love Iceland” [Condé Nast Traveller]. “As somebody from a rather big country (India) who grew up in a considerably big city (New York), I saw something magical in Iceland’s smallness and its position on the edge of the world. I was stunned that an actual country, replete with all the institutions of a high-functioning civil society—universities, research centres, businesses, TV networks, fractious political parties, newspapers, book publishers, sports teams, musicians and so on—could consist of so few people: Iceland’s entire population would barely make up a neighbourhood of a modern Indian city.” • So, life will go on after the Jackpot

Health Care

“Democratic left playing a long game to get ‘Medicare for All'” [Bloomberg Law]. “‘We don’t have the support that we need,’ said Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, who will co-chair the Progressive Caucus. She said that she’d favor modest expansions of Medicare or Medicaid eligibility as a step toward Medicare for All. ‘I am a big bold thinker; I’m also a good practical strategist,’ Jayapal said. ‘It’s why the Medicare for All Caucus was started, because we want to get information to our members so people feel comfortable talking about the attacks we know are going to come.'” • So many Democrat McClellans; so few Democrat Grants.

“Progressives set to push their agenda in Congress and on the campaign trail. The GOP can’t wait.” [NBC]. “While the party has moved left on health care, many Democrats seem more comfortable offering an option to buy into Medicare or a similar public plan rather than creating one single-payer plan that replaces private insurance and covers everyone. Progressives, led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and her Medicare For All PAC, plan to whip up support for the maximalist version and advance legislation in 2019.” • The “maximalist version” is exactly what Jayapal herself, quoted by Bloomberg, says she will not seek. Not sure whether this is Democrat cynicism, sloppy Democrat messaging, or poor reporting. Or all three!


“Water is getting scarcer. Is foreign investment making the problem worse?” [WaPo]. “Researchers have focused on how climate change accelerates the problems caused by water scarcity. My research points to an important additional factor: foreign investment…. Our statistical analyses show that more foreign investment into Indian states in a given year is associated with lower levels of potable water access in subsequent years, with the poorest areas hit the hardest. We find that investment in water-intensive manufacturing and highly polluting industries increases competition for a limited quantity of fresh water, while also affecting water quality. States with larger proportions of marginalized and poor populations see the greatest negative effects of foreign investment on water supplies.”

Class Warfare

From the daily bot of extracts from the diaries of Samuel Pepys:

There’s a lot going on there…

News of the Wired

“On entomologist Jean-Henri Fabre’s birthday, a list of insect inspired disruptive technology” [Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists] (December 22). “Insects, of course, are the most diverse organisms on Earth. The 900,000 or so species of insects represent about 80 percent of the world’s species, according to the Smithsonian Institution. They’re also, as it turns out, the inspiration behind several disruptive engineering and military technologies.” ¨• All the examples are military. What a failure of the imagination!

“Advice for Coping With Seasonal Depression, From 9 People Who Have It” [Medium]. • Some readers may find the tips useful (though I’m not keen on the product placement for “a light therapy machine that helps with cell regeneration.” In my experience, light and activity — any activity are key; just get moving, especially outside in the sun. And remember, we are now past the solstice, so the days are getting longer, even if imperceptibly.

And on the same subject, really:

Make some whoopee!

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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 (via):


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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. ambrit

      Loath am I to discommode the quietus qua quondam quintessant quiescence.
      “Tune in tomorrow at this same time for the next exciting episode of: “Space Cadets at the Lexi-Con!”‘

    2. JBird4049

      What’s life without my daily rant?


      Speaking of which…

      “2 Michigan Regulators Take Plea Deals in Flint Water Case”

      I think most people do not realize just how bad lead poisoning is in America as it only affects nonwhites and deplorables our “free” press ignores it. It is quite doable to fix, but getting profit out of it is the problem isn’t?

  1. Pat

    I just left a longwinded comment in the links comment regarding Obama’s latest.

    Like Perez, this is just getting in front of the problem, but not the problem that the voters and public think. It is all to make sure that nothing gets done on the issue of gerrymandering and voter suppression, Period.

    The excuses for the lack of outcomes will be fun to parse though.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      This is legacy polishing. Obama needs to justify losing 1000 legislative seats. Blaming gerrymandering which didn’t exist until 2009 is an easy way to do it. Everyone already knows gerrymandering is bad, so he risks nothing. If you already think Obama is coward and a vacuous personality, you aren’t going to change your mind, but for people who learned of the electoral college in November 2016 such as the Clinton campaign team, this is probably exciting.

      As for expanding the base, he doesn’t want Democratic majorities because with pressure they could pass decent legislation exposing what could have been.

      It also has the appeal of Biden’s Moonshot on Cancer. Obama can make bland appeals and not be expected to produce results. Its less insidious than Biden because Biden is an active proponent of fracking which of course releases cancer causing chemicals.

      1. Nick Stokes

        Then explain why Republicans lost hundreds of seats in 2018 alone(with a tough electorate in 2020 and even 2022 coming up)?

        Cycles cycle.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Ah, I see. Dismantling the 50 state strategy, not producing meaningful improvement in people’s lives had nothing to do with it. The 50 state strategy and getting the Clintons out of the DNC in 2005 had nothing to do with the wins.

          Perhaps, you missed the point, but the Democrats managed to win in 2006 in a bleak Senate map despite Republican gerrymandering (Republicans were in early on using computers to draw lines back in the 90’s).

          Noting gerrymandering didn’t exist until 2009 was a joke as gerrymandering is named Elbridge Gerry’s old Congressional district. And here is the beauty of the gerrymandering excuse, the loss of the House occurred in 2010. The new districts wouldn’t matter until 2012 because the Census was in 2010, too late to change for 2010.

          If its all cycles, its ludicrous Obama would even waste his time because “cycles.” Defending Obama requires one to largely confess they don’t believe political campaigns even matter. He should focus on his Ziggurat and what parks he wants to rip up next.

          1. Nick Stokes

            The problem is unlike 1933 large sections of the electorate just wanted more Republican economics to “deal” with the aftermath. That is the difference between a moderate recession(historically) and a collapse like the early 1930’s had when the British Empire and the de Rothschild dynasty finally collapsed. 40% didn’t want anything the Obama Administration came up with succeed. 40% wanted more than they could possible politically come up with and that left 20% to actually get something done. You see why the Democrats had to take losses. Even if Health Care, which was controversial in the party was nixed for more “stimulus”, Democrats look weak. Politically, Stimulus wasn’t that popular and “fiscal deficit” whiners were going to whine and there are a lot of them. Naked Capitalism ignores this reality instead, looking for esoteric fantasy. I would argue Democrats in 2009-10 looked for short term political gain by going with Health Care reform instead of slowly explaining the advantage of building public assets via stimulus, because the party was to split on Health Care to create a package that would satisfy enough people. Similar the Republican party, since Reagan had done the opposite, took short term political gain in 2016, which was a mistake, due to their Clinton hatred. Which is now backfiring and the business cycle is not in a kind spot going forward, which we knew was likely in 2016. So not only does “Republican fatigue” hurt in 2018, your on the political defensive for the next cycle. Short termism in politics is death.

            A 50 state strategy, or no 50 state strategy, it really doesn’t matter. Democrats were going to take losses. The key is, making sure the party is unified enough to run public policy courses.

            1. Carey

              One of our hosts once said- accurately IMO- that explaining is losing. You are explaining.

              “…public policy courses.”


            2. Chris

              Mr. Stokes (or David Brock I presume?),

              I truly don’t understand your point of view. I also don’t understand your claim that NC deals in fantasy.

              Your points make little sense in the face of what people wanted in 2016 that Obama could have delivered without interference from the Republicans. Things like anti-trust enforcement, SEC enforcement aka jailing the banksters, not going into Syria, not supporting the war in Yemen (remember he did both of those on his own without Congress), not making the Bush tax cuts permanent, not staying silent on union issues and actually wearing those oft mentioned comfortable shoes while walking a picket line, the list of what could have been done and that people supported goes on and on. None of which required approval from Congress.

              There’s even the bland procedural tactic of delaying the release of the Obamacare exchange premium price increases until after the election in 2016. He could have delayed that notice several months and saved Hillary a world of hurt at the polls. But he chose not to use the administrative tools at his disposal in that case. He also could have seen the writing on the wall with the multiple shut down threats and gotten ahead of it by asking Congress that if you are deemed an essential employee you will continue to be paid regardless of whether your department is funded during a shutdown. With 80% of Americans living paycheck to paycheck that would have been a huge deal.

              And speaking of the ACA, we know that Obama and others did whatever they could to kill single payer and replace it with Romneycare 1.5. The language in the bill and the controversy surrounding it show that no one thought this would give them a short term political advantage. If anything, the run up to the vote finally made enough citizens realize that they didn’t hate government insurance, they just hated insurance. And here were the Democrats and Obama, forcing people to buy expensive insurance.

              Obama took a huge organization that could have helped him barnstorm the country (OFA) just like what Bernie is doing now and killed it early in his first term. He had a mandate for change. He had a majorities in both houses. He had the perfect bully pulpit. He chose not to use any of it. He and others killed the support for local parties. The Democrats needed the JFA with Hillary because Obama had pretty much bankrupted the party in 2012. A commitment to all 50 states would have been huge and would have helped Hillary get on the ground where she needed to shore up support by a few thousand votes.

              Obama and the Democrats took losses from 2008 on because they promised to do what their constituents voted them in to do and then decided not to do it. By the time 2016 rolled around, there were estimates which placed 90% of the counties in the US as not having recovered from the disaster in 2007. Hillary ran on radical incrementalism aka the status quo. Who in their right mind could have supported the status quo in 2016?

              The Democrats lost seats at all levels of government because of their own incompetence, because of their cowardice, because of their lazy assumptions that people had nowhere else to go. So when record numbers of people didn’t vote they lost by slim margins in states long considered True Blue. There is nothing cyclical about any of that.

              People don’t have Republican fatigue. They don’t have Democrat fatigue. They simply don’t see the point in voting for people who won’t do what they’re voted in to do. The citizens of this country want change. They want higher wages and lower prices. They want less war. They want less government interference. They want their kids to grow up with more opportunities than they did. Obama and Hillary and all the rest of the Democrats stalking MSM cameras could have delivered on some of that but chose not to. And here we are. With President Trump. And even his broken clock gets something right twice a day, whereas Team Blue has a 50/50 chance of making the right decision and chooses wrong everytime.

              Please provide better examples of your points if you truly want to defend your argument.

              1. Carey

                What an outstandingly comprehensive recent history of
                Our dismal-by-design Democrats.

                My hat is off to you, Sir.

                1. Expat2uruguay

                  And, that often mentioned reason for voting for Democrats, the Supreme Court. Neither Obama nor the Democrats fought for their opportunity to put their person on the Supreme Court. Because of norms I guess. Which actually makes some sense because it broke norms. Because they simply don’t care

            3. Chris

              I truly don’t understand why you think any of that. Most mystifying is your claim that anyone thought ACA would provide short term political benefit?

              You know how Obamacare could have given Hillary a short term political gain? If Obama had directed HHS to delay releasing any premium increase notices until after the election.

              Otherwise, you’d have to support your argument a lot better. NC has the least fantastical commentary base of any website I’ve seen.

            4. Yves Smith

              This is complete and utter nonsense. Your calling depicting NC as “fantasy” is a textbook example of projection on your part.

              The country was terrified and demoralized when Obama took office. Go read the press in December 2008 and January 2009, since your memory is poor. He not only had window of opportunity to do an updated 100 days, the country would have welcomed. But he ignored it and the moment passed.

              Obama pushed heath care because that was what he had campaigned on and had a personal interest in it. He had no interest in banking and finance and was happy to let Geither run that show.

              As for stimulus, bullshit. Trump increased deficit spending with his tax cuts and no one cares much if at all. The concern re deficit spending was due to the fact that the Obama economic team was the Clinton (as in Bob Rubin) economics team, which fetishized balanced budgets or even worse, surpluses. We have explained long form that that stance was directly responsible for the rapid increase in unproductive household debt, most of all mortgage debt, which produced the crisis.

              We discussed it long form in 2010:


              Better trolls, please.

      2. FreeMarketApologist

        …folding his Organizing for Action group into the National Democratic Redistricting Committee. …It ends the six-year existence of OFA, formed out of the pieces of Obama’s reelection campaign,…

        And I wonder how much money got folded into the NDRC as well.

          1. marym

            Obama for America was his 2008 campaign organization. The naive among us thought it would remain an independent grassroots organization for what was supposed to be a “Change” agenda, but after the election Obama rolled it into the DNC as Organizing for America. Then it became Organizing for Action. Apparently he’s run out of uses for the acronym.

            1. Carey

              I’m a bit proud that I, unworldly rube that I am, didn’t buy what he was selling, ever. Great orator? Emptiness personified, if you
              ask me.

            2. Dan

              I was an OFA organizer in Ohio in 2008, and I spent a LOT of time promising newly-recruited activists in small towns that the election was just the beginning, the Obama administration would rely on them to generate the pressure to implement his agenda. It definitely was NOT going to be a bunch of college kids from California who parachuted in to win an election, who then disappeared!

              Of course, I wasn’t totally naive about Obama – I figured he meant about 50% of what he said. But the fact that it turned out to be 1% was a shock even to cynical me. OFA 1.0 – the 2008 incarnation – was one of the more beautiful things that has happened in American politics, and I will never forgive him for drowning it in the toilet.

      3. Richard

        Exactly. What many people don’t understand:
        The dems actually want to shrink their party, not expand it. Lower turnout, but hope for just enough true believers to disspiritedly block growing fascism. And that works so well. Which gives you some indication of how liberal dems really feel about fascism right now. As long as it doesn’t quite touch them (yet), it actually works great as a fundraising tool and is an endless opportunity for virtue signaling. So many lib dems, so little sense of urgency from them, of seizing the moment, of producing material change in people’s lives. Jayapal is my rep. I’ve emailed her with questions/objections before on her med4all “support”. She is hard to contact (constantly full phone message box, same barriers as other reps to electronic comment/contact), and when you get your response it is boilerplate. She rarely offers any details on policy, in any communication. She postures a great deal in regards to identity politics. I need to find out more, but right now it seems pretty depressing. This is a justice dem, or supposed to be. Everything I am hearing from her now (she also attended a private, no press allowed, function with big$ donors a few weeks ago) screams betrayal. As it stands now, she should be primaried.

        1. orlbucfan

          I’m a long time lurker and fan of Naked Capitalism. That said, I have a linguistical/personal bone to pick over the use of the word “liberal.” When I read “liberal Democratic,” it has a heavy negative connotation. I am a life-long liberal Futurist. I am not Third Way nor Democratic Leadership Council nor Clintonista. I abhor them. Please take this into consideration as I know I’m not the only one on here. Thank you for being a terrific cyber newspaper! Happy 2019!

      4. ex-PFC Chuck

        Like I tell my kids (and anyone else who will listen, a diminishing audience as they tune the strident old f**t out), “50 or 100 years from now and few people give a sh*t about the late US of A except a handful of historians, every president from Reagan through Obama, and perhaps Trump too, will be right down there fighting it out for last place at the bottom of the barrel in the presidential ratings. But Obama will win hands down because he had the last clear chance to get the FIRE sector under control and he totally blew it:

        “I’m the only thing standing between you and the pitchforks.”

        1. Carey

          Good comment. My main hope now is that Team USA!/West doesn’t blow up the biosphere on its way down. Really.

    2. ewmayer

      Rather funny, isn’t it? so, let’s see:

      Back when he actually held the reins of power, Barack Obama went all-in politically to assure Big Pharma profits; to legally-immunize and richly reward the Wall Street fraud cartels; to perpetuate and extend the domestic surveillance state and the project for global hegemony; and to pass a massive globalist and multinational-corp wet dream “free trade deal”.

      Now that he is a Bill-Clinton-esque legacy-burnishing money whore, Barack Obama goes all-in politically to ‘fight gerrymandering’. (For some definition of ‘fight’). At the same time his in-development towering hollow monument to his hollow-man self is busily gerrymandering some precious formerly public spaces in his political hometown, Chicago.

      Just so long as the flagrant hypocrisy is presented via soaring rhetoric™!

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > nothing gets done on the issue of gerrymandering and voter suppression, Period.

      Something will get done. But it won’t be for the public good. It will be to re-engineer the districts for the benefit of Democrats (who already gerrymander, when they have the power). Making a DCCC creature the executive director is the tell.

      1. Pat

        Fair enough. I may not entirely agree but can acknowledge they not only learned they didn’t want a true majority but also needed it to be close enough to be possible for fundraising purposes.

        How about I add “that increases voter turnout, participation and eventually representation.” I think we might agree that this group has no interest in advancing any form of that.

  2. diptherio

    Here’s a bright spot on the housing front. 60 unit limited-equity housing co-op in Davis, CA where the buy in is only $30,000. “…a family of four needed to earn only 59% of the area median income to afford a three-bedroom apartment at the co-op – down from 111% in 1985.” i.e. the housing has gotten cheaper over time! Whodathunkit? I wonder why this model isn’t more popular….

    Over time, families need less and less income to afford to live at Dos Pinos. The co-op requires people moving in to have a monthly household gross income that is equal to or greater than 2.5 times the monthly assessment. By this standard, a very-low-income family of four in Yolo County is eligible to move into the co-op. There is no other home ownership model in Yolo County affordable to that same family. Households moving in recently have been of mixed incomes: 12.5% very low income, 25% low income, and 25% moderate income.

    The co-op has received no subsidy at any time in its history. It bought the land at market value and erected the buildings at market value. Annually the co-op pays more than $30,000 in local property taxes, just like the market-rate apartment complex across the road.

    No co-op apartment at Dos Pinos has ever been foreclosed, and in 32 years, only one member has been evicted. The vacancy rate is always zero and the vacancy reserve is never used. Since 1986, there has always been a waiting list for apartments at the co-op.


    1. Unna

      Previously replied, Links:

      Thanks for these. When I was a kid I couldn’t get my head around Gould’s playing. Now, for some reason, after too many decades, what he did makes perfect sense. Whether that’s a good sign or a bad sign I’m not sure. Especially enjoyed the Byrd piece. A composor I’ll have to explore.

      1. Carey

        …and thanks for your comment, Unna. Gould’s “secco-legato” is not to everyone’s
        taste, for sure, but I think it works very well in the Byrd piece, and his control of
        time is a touchstone for me. His disc of Brahms Intermezzi ain’t bad, either. ;)

    2. ewmayer

      I’m a big fan of Gould myself, despite the obvious quirks – whatever one thinks of his style, it’s never dull. E.g. the one of the Goldberg Variations (forget the numer just now) which Gould plays unbelievably slowly, and equally unbelievably, “it works”. That recording was used in the title sequence of Looking for mr. Goodbar.

      Movie recommendation for fellow GG fans: Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), starring the excellent actor Colm Feore. From the imdb.com page for the film, the storyline:

      “As the title suggests, this dramatised documentary about the eccentric Canadian pianist Glenn Gould is broken up into thirty-two short films (mirroring the thirty-two part structure of Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’, the recording that Gould made famous), each giving us an insight into some aspect of Gould’s life and career. Out of respect for the music lead actor Colm Feore is never seen playing the piano, merely reacting to Gould’s own recordings, which are extensively featured.”

  3. shinola

    I would recommend the Benjamin Studebaker article (“Miguel Salazar Wants You to Think Marxism is Racist…) as a must, or at least a should, read.

    I believe that most NC readers will agree with his “materialist” (Do something!) vs. “idealist” (purity of thought/motivation) POV.

    1. nick

      I would recommend not reading the article. It strains reality in order to dig at the concept of “PC” and the archetype of the grating activist.

      It misreads the article and the situation–running with Salazar’s original, inaccurate portrayal of two DSA chapter leadership groups as Marxist and adding new spin by casting the people annoyed by those people as idealists, when in fact that second group is the one most strongly pushing things like brake light clinics and material benefit programs. The racial justice work often proposed would fall in this area as well–as nearly all I’ve seen relates to criminal justice reform/prison abolition and so is unequivocally materialist.

          1. flora

            Ha! Well, I don’t think myself fooled in this instance. Thanks.
            I thought this line from Mr. Studebaker particularly relevant:

            “It shouldn’t surprise us that Salazar is discourse policing. If you are an idealist, you have to police the discourse because you think that the discourse becomes material reality.”

            Indeed. And the word ‘policing’ is, imo, well chosen.

            I will say Mr. Studebaker compliments his reading audience by assuming they understand some terms that aren’t in common usage, and makes some jumps from that assumption. But I think I got the gist of it. (Had to look up wiki definition of ‘historical materialism’ vs ‘great man’ theory of history. …the things I learn from reading NC… cheers.)

          2. flora

            adding: Mr. Studebaker may well have used the original article as a springboard for broader ideas, as you suggest in your critique that he ‘misreads’ the original. The broader ideas are worth examining, I think, even as a segue from another article. my 2¢.

            1. Jeff W

              I think Benjamin Studebaker uses Miguel Salazar’s article as a springboard for broader ideas but he also is calling out and exposing a subtext of Salazar’s piece.

              I “get” the materialist vs. idealist distinction that Studebaker makes and it’s helpful in a sense (e.g., as I commented weeks ago, it helps illuminate the loginess and impenetrability that I find characterizes Henry Giroux’s writing). It’s not that “idealism” doesn’t work—it does (this blog changes people’s “ideas” all the time in a sense)—it’s that, among other things, “material” things and real-life consequences usually (but not always) exert more powerful control than “ideas” about things and consequences. An actual piece of chocolate cake probably exerts more behavioral control than the “idea” of extra calories and extra pounds.

              1. Carey

                Your mention of Henry Giroux in this context is interesting, and I’m wondering if you can say, more-or-less, when your previous comment regarding him was made, or what the gist
                of it was? Impenetrability- sheer, unenlightening density, by design or not, seems a big part of what he does, and I’m curious as to why that’s so, and to whose benefit…

                Sorry for all the commas, heh.

                1. Jeff W

                  Here’s my comment regarding Henry Giroux. (I’m not knocking his positions or him as a person—I just find his writings, all of it that I’ve read, which, admittedly, isn’t much—difficult to get through.)

                  My own theory as to his writing style is that it’s part of the “idealistic” (mentalistic) style sometimes found in education writing (or maybe was common half a century ago)—e. g., “convey to students the commutative property” (an idea) rather than “have students show they know that a + b = b + a” (behavior). I think people who write that way think it’s clear and don’t realize how obfuscatory it is. (I was very influenced by B. F. Skinner who would frequently translate mentalistic phrasing into behavioral teams, always, I thought, for the better.)

                2. Amfortas the hippie

                  I find Giroux brilliant, but overly fond of esoteric words….a whole bunch of them, mounded high, so that it’s sometimes hard to find a point that can be articulated simply and clearly.
                  I can read and understand him….as could everyone here…but he’s hardly made for the feedstore.

                  as for studebaker….i think it’s a useful distinction, except that doesn’t focus enough on the hypocrisy of the so-called Idealists: identitarians, Team Blue,performative grievance artists, Brockian Trolls…whatever,lol.
                  we need an updated language for all this.
                  That they appear to be deliberately behaving that way in order to confuse and castrate the Left is an important part of the picture….and the part that I’m most weary of. It’s also the hardest part to counter effectively…. strawmen gish-galloping down myriad branching distraction-trails. I see it as another iteration of what the Righty Mindf&%k has been doing all along, but this time, from within the Demparty, itself.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        From the 30,000 foot level, this sort of infighting has a long history on the left and isn’t necessarily harmful. Momentum was democratically elected, after all, which means that two large chapters think their program has merit. OTOH, I’d speculate that Momentum is rejecting the brake lights clinics because they originated from the “wrong” faction (genetic fallacy), but the brakelights clinics are brilliant, not least because they brings the (mostly middle not upwardly-mobile professional class) DSA membership into contact with actual working class people.

        The only way out is through. But I will venture to speculate that if identitarian factions win control, the DSA leadership will be at the podia with Neera Tanden in less than a decade. Wearing lanyards.

        1. nick

          I agree with you that the infighting is a given and ideally is productive. Elections are kind of an issue… IIRC Philly hasn’t had an election since 2017, holds very infrequent meetings, and has no internal means of communication. Clearly a bad structure in many respects, and they don’t have a lot to show for it. A great thing about the looseness of DSA is the flexibility to try and consider a lot of different approaches, but a trusty means to course-correcting has not emerged.

          Ha that’s a good descriptor of class dynamics, but the material conditions of most of our our membership, as well as their relationship to the means of production, varied little from those we helped at brake light clinics. Because of location, we ended up talking with a lot of homeless people and we started to buy like twice the amount of lunch food we needed so as to share the love.

          And back to the articles–a core problem with them is that there is no credible identitarian faction within DSA. Those who don’t dismiss “race” advocate intervention in the areas where it has been weaponized in the service of profit and inequality, e.g. mass incarceration to include immigration detention. This is why the “material” vs “ideal” binary is dumb, all of the different factions and persuasions are driven by/toward different sets of both.

        2. ambrit

          Lanyards are also used to secure pistols to the persons of those of the ‘order keeping’ class, such a military and police functionaries. So, the image is doubleplus good.
          “We have always been at war with Eastcoasters.”

    2. Summer

      Here’s a mind-bending musing for you:
      What if racism intertwined in the global economy operates more like a technology or tool than any kind of idea?

    3. liam

      That was an excellent, and quite satisfying, read. Gave a nice framework in which to understand the approach of a lot of people, who either 1. are unaware of their own idealism, and/or 2. are actively working to subvert/block positive material outcomes. Very clearly stated.

    4. knowbuddhau

      Count me out, thanks. More of a cognitive behavioralist myself: I think we can walk and think (about not-walking) at the same time. Where’s the evidence that it’s either-or?

      This gets to a fundamental question: Where does reality come from? Let me be more specific: see these words? Where are they coming from? Are my material conditions *forcing me to type thoughts of their own? Are you *nothing but matter, being *forced to read these words? To the right of each of these words, as I’m typing, is

      Quite clearly, my intentions are materializing both poles of this shared reality. I’m here, typing this, from within. Are you there? Or are you a Cartesian automaton?

      I believe the NC commentariat will be surprised to learn of the resolution to the Catholic/Descartes vs. Protestant/(Nicodemite heretic) Newton debate.

      It is commonly believed that Newton showed that the world is a machine, following mechanical principles, and that we can therefore dismiss “the ghost in the machine,” the mind, with appropriate ridicule. The facts are the opposite: Newton exorcised the machine, leaving the ghost intact. The mind-body problem in its scientific form did indeed vanish as unformulable, because one of its terms, body, does not exist in any intelligible form. Newton knew this very well, and so did his great contemporaries. https://chomsky.info/201401__/

      Take that, Materialists. Quantum physics, too, tells us that matter isn’t there. It’s all patterns of energy. We take the more stable of it to be “solid,” but that’s from our perspective at our scale in spacetime (see also Kant and aesthetic forms of sensibility).

      Still, here we are. And we suffer. Got any ideas about what we can do about it? DSA does. And they enact them. What Materialist-Idealist problem? What mind-brain problem?

      See how this is working? Thought–>action no problem, seamless bc arising mutually from same ineffable source.

  4. michael hudson

    Many speculators must have lost a fortune on yesterday’s 1,000 point runup. I looked over the timing of the market run-up, and it looks like a classic short-squeeze. The plunge-protection team may have started the turnaround — to punish the short sellers from continuing the downturn – but as the day neared the end, shorts ran to cover their position — and lost their shirts.
    The market returned back to normal today. The PP team figured that the historic run-up would be what most people remember, and softened them up to leave their savings in the market, figuring it’s all a zigzag, not the end of the bull market.
    I see downward movement tomorrow and in January.

    1. Lou Anton

      Thank you Mr. Hudson!

      Guess the PP got called in around 3pm EST again today. So now they’re figuring on a narrative of strength (yesterday) and then erasure of gloom before it could set in again (today).

      These past few weeks have had that ’08-09 feel to them. Wild swings, more so down than up, but no sense of what the day will bring.

      1. wilroncanada

        I would also add that some people, certainly not most ordinary investors, make money at both ends. Plunge Protection Team = Manipulation? / Market Rigging?

  5. Judith

    Wonderful photo of aspens (?). Reminds me of Eliot Porter’s work. And it looks like a woods where one could have a transcendent walk. Though I would find a conversation with an AI avatar the opposite of transcendent, which is to say, alienating.

    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Agree. Nothing in my life experience suggests to me that artifice can improve on nature in terms of transcendence. What a misguided project.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a conversation with an AI avatar the opposite of transcendent

      Or people who find it transcendent are about as alienated as it’s possible to be.

      That the — I need to coin a horrid piece of marketroid-speak for this, let me try — “transcendentally-rich data” can be taken and sold is also alienation in senses 3 and 4.

  6. JBird4049

    In my experience, light and activity — any activity are key; just get moving, especially outside in the sun.

    Yes, very much so. However, even in California the weather can make getting out a problem and a light box can help greatly on those rare occasions.

    1. RUKidding


      I was a skeptic, myself, until recently. I live in N Central CA, and it does get grey and gloomy a bit in winter, albeit nothing like being on the east coast or PNW. I am also outside a lot, mostly walking or hiking but sometimes skiing and such.

      However, the past couple of winters I got very very tired and lethargic. Fortunately do not suffer from depression, but a doctor and a nurse, plus some friends, all recommended trying a light box. Maybe it’s psychological, but it seems to have made a big difference. I sleep better and have much better energy.

      Wasn’t that expensive, either, plus pretty non-invasive.

  7. Nick Stokes

    Looks like a moderate industrial recession in 2019-20. Overcapacity in mining,auto and tech needs to work off.

    1. Alex Morfesis

      Is there really such a thing as a recession ? Is it not really a capital strike or a refusal to provide reasonable credit ? Do people stop wanting things due to some estimate conjured up by the fifth attempt/version of a survey “finally” revealing the answer that looks like a perfect nail for that hammer called “recession” sitting in your hand ?

      Most of the world still needs functional and steady electricity…most people would prefer more space to live in…most would prefer the opportunity to travel…to see new places or spend time with old friends, family or just take a walk down memory lane…to get a better car…maybe more fuel efficient… Maybe a little zippier…to get a better stove…to grow a garden of their own food…to hold a real book in their hands and eventually watch it gather dust on a shelf…to convert their home or energy use to solar, wind or hydro…

      Sorry…at the end of the day…recessions are manufactured…

      By chance, circumstance, coincidence, conspiracy, stupidity, greed or fear…

      or maybe a little of all of them…

      but in the end they are man made…there is nothing natural about a recession…

      Perhaps if the congress were to make a tax rule that only allowed corporate bonuses and stock buy backs to be maxed out at 25% of r&d spending…recessions might join the dustbins of history…

        1. Alex morfesis

          Queen bee…perhaps my vociferous meandering 2¢ did not allow for clean perception of what I was looking to convey…

          not us govt r & d…

          private corporate r & d…

          4:1 ratio…

          to get 10 billion in bonuses and share buybacks, the enterprise would have needed to spend 40 billion in private r&d…

          Depending on how & who is tabulating the numbers to talk their book…

          us govt r&d was at about 500 billion…

          globally all major corps spent only 700 billion on r&d

          while about 1 trillion was thrown into Corp buybacks…

          Yes…your King corbyn piece is correct ish…

          But govt expenditures visavis GDP in France is over 50%…

          Germany about 45%+ if landesbanks are honestly tabulated…

          UK about 42 %…

          with USA only at between 32-36%…

          And we (us-istan) don’t have a parliamentary system with non dominant parties needing to worry about keeping the pitchforks happy this week to avoid calling an election…

          Was not suggesting lowering govt r&d…nor corporate r&d…

          simply to force large enterprises to invest in r&d significantly more than finacializationeering…

          4:1 ratio

  8. a different chris

    >China has proposed a ban on forced technology transfer and illegal government ‘interference’ in foreign business operations

    Sounds like China forsees the end of useful US technology…. they don’t care about our patent protection if our patents are stupid. One click, anybody? In about 10 years we will all be painfully paying for Chinese patents.

    They play the long game.

  9. Carey

    Interesting stuff on Stacey Abrams. Lambert’s thought that everything is like CalPERS
    seems truer and truer; all is inbred and self-referential.

    It’s probably hard to see that one is in a dark age, at the time.

    1. KLG

      As a Georgian who went all in for Stacey Abrams, this is disappointing. It probably sounds good to Ms. Abrams, but hanging with Neera Tanden won’t help her next time around.

    2. Eureka Springs

      I sometimes hear the sound of Paul Harvey’s voice when reading Lambert’s commentary throughout links and cooler.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            That’s really funny, to think there’s an actual history or tradition of snark. But I bet there is! You could probably find a Patient Zero for today’s version c. 2003 — Media Whores Online? — and then look to their own influences. Standing on the shoulders of giants…

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Interesting stuff on Stacey Abrams

      I just what to underline this:

      [ABRAMS} …bold solutions on health care access

      Bold. If you have to say it is, it isn’t. (“Bold” is also an ego-boost for the “bold” policymaker, but it does not focus on benefits to voters, so I remain baffled why there’s a strain of liberal thinking that regards this locution as effective.)

      Access. As readers know, “access” means gatekeeping, like fees and co-pays, and definitely does not mean free at the point of delivery. So, right out of the box, she’s signaling opposition to #MedicareForAll (no doubt a requirement for being a board member at CAP).

      So this is really sad. I liked Abram’s gubernatorial campaign because she campaigned everywhere. Oh well.

  10. shinola

    From the Eschaton article The Fed “Don’t know nothing”:

    “Trump is right that rate increases are dumb.”

    That statement, presented flat out with no qualification, is dumb. Was the article written by a Wall Streeter?

    Ultra-low interest rates punish savers & promote over-borrowing, gambling & asset bubbles (which, of course, Wall St. loves).

    Yes, there can be interest rates that are too high but we are nowhere near that level yet.

      1. Quentin

        He was/is an ‘economist’, if I remember correctly. Once a university teacher? When I regularly read his blog back in the day he never seemed to have a lack of money.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Atrios has a Ph.D in economics from Brown (and not the University of Chicago). Back before the political blogosphere was broken up for parts by the Democrats, in the period 2003-2006, it was possible to blog and not lack money (though “blog and grow rich” never did quite work out, except for characters like Ezra Klein).

          Atrios is a great simplifier and a good index for leading opinion, If he says Trump is right about the Fed, that’s something to note. (Disclosure that Atrios gave me my start as a blogger as a summer fill-in, for which I remain grateful.)

    1. jrs

      the rate increases might be so that there is more room to lower them later in a real recession, of course this might over gauge the laughable “strength” of this economy presently at least in terms of the real economy (it’s not a strong labor market for sure, I know so many educated and/or skilled people unemployed for over 6 months AT LEAST) but they don’t have much room to move especially if the government refuses to do real stimulus when TSHTF.

    2. John k

      It’s been a really weak economy with far higher unemployment than claimed, and with the usual big tickets autos and housing held up with low rates. Higher rates are turning down big ticket demand fast, layoffs coming there soon. Only borrowing allowed public to maintain spending this season, but public already over indebted and banks tightening credit. Recession baked in imo.
      Market reversals on account of ins rebalancing into stocks because stocks have fallen, not good move if correction continues… evicting shorts just brings forward their eventual buybacks.

  11. polecat

    You could’ve post that antidote sans everything else, including comments, and I would’ve been completely good with it. Quite the aspenirational image !

  12. allan

    Just received an email from BernieSanders.com:

    … Let me take this opportunity to wish you a very happy holiday season and a wonderful new year.

    Whenever I am asked about running for president in 2020, I answer that if I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump, then I will probably run. That is the truth.

    If that happens, the political, financial and media elite of this country will stop at nothing to defeat us. You know that. We’ve lived through it together once before. Our ideas terrify them. So what they will do is try to divide us up with attacks — some old, some new — and our political opponents will spend obscene sums of money on ads to defeat us.

    I just did not expect the attack ads to begin before I even made a decision. But they have…

    Right now, a group of Wall Street Democrats known as the Third Way is running ads in early primary states — Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada — calling me out by name and saying our ideas, like Medicare for all, are a path to defeat in 2020. [emphasis added]

    They not only want to discourage or defeat a Sanders candidacy, they want to make sure that the progressive agenda is not advanced by anyone. They want us to go back to their failed corporate approach which has led to a massive level of income and wealth inequality, a bloated military budget and a failure to address the crises of climate change, a broken criminal justice system and inhumane immigration policies. …

    Has anybody seen one of these ads? Weirdly, or not, there are no links on ThirdWay.org.

          1. JohnnyGL

            Check out the top-comments on that one. Pretty funny. Someone wandered over to the article after November and dropped a Thomas Frank remark about Krugman’s smugness, saying it described him to a T.

            Another one dropped a comparison of the Nixon-McGovern polls juxtaposed to the Sanders vs. other top GOP contenders at the time and pointed out they weren’t even remotely close.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Then the third comment down:

              Mikko Mäkelä Finland February 18, 2016
              Greetings from Europe!
              Sometimes it is easier to see what is happening in some country from outside of it. This happened to me with Italy and Turkey and now it really seems to happen with USA. None of these “political scientists” predicted Trump becoming republican frontrunner before it was a fact – that is because they are like economists, working inside their model. Once the model doesn’t work any more, they are lost. It is easy to see that people have started to respect honesty and this one reason will probably lead to Trump winning – Clinton has been too many times in court, involved in scandals etc. for her to win. Bernie would be the best candidate to win against Trump, but democratic party is not ready to nominate him, even though the majority of people would. Does somebody want to bet with me on this?

              Pretty good call for February 18, 2016.

        1. JohnnyGL

          “claiming that the 2018 midterm elections “proved conclusively” that Sanders “fail[ed] that test.”

          I love that remark. 3rd way types have had an entire generation to fail repeatedly and leave the American voting public stuck with voting for President Trump in order to get a different direction.

          Sanders’-style upstarts get a 2-year mid-term cycle and already the DC insiders are making pronouncements like this. They’re seriously convinced that they’ve got their groove back! Pay no mind to the multi-decade track record of failure! They’ve got those suburban, college-educated women who’ll carry them to victory! Just don’t ask what the plan is when the Repubs find candidates who aren’t so overtly offensive to the eyes and ears.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      Having recently re-upped my presence on Twitter, it’s been clear from day one the anti-Bernie campaigns are well-funded and eager to attack. Sadly for them, there are many dedicated to Bernie and/or his platform there who know the facts and are prepared to counter the rubbish.

      That said, some are using the insidious method of pretending to support Bernie and violently attacking people, especially women, who express any support for Hillary Clinton or another of the establishment options. And by violently, I mean several were told they were being put on a “rape list.” I hope my assurances these were, in fact, trolls who have nothing to do with Sanders or any other progressive stemmed at least some of the damage.

      And then there was poor David Sirota having to spend his Christmas defending himself instead of playing with his kids.

  13. Carey

    “Emotionally-Sensitive AI-driven Android Interactions Improve Social Welfare Through Helping People Access Self-Transcendent States”

    Just though that needed to be said again.


  14. lee

    Mr. Market: “Dow falls more than 400 points as stock market relinquishes chunk of historic surge” [MarketWatch]. • Mr. Market is having a psychotic episode.

    That was an hour ago. Now it’s up 260. I’m investing in lithium futures.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Too bad you can’t invest in the algos that appear to be driving all this Golden Crumb-generating, high-speed-trading churning, those chunks of code, being taught, and now no doubt “Deep Learning” to play Monopoly and RISK! as they strive to achieve some ‘gain” in their version of the Game of Life. (All ™, of course.) WOPR is just a fiction, created by anxious humans who see where this is heading and hoped to offer a warning that might forestall the most likely endgame.

      Will these nearly sentient bots or whatever they are that some of us, really “smart” somes of us, are thinking up and actuating, thank us for being the midwife species that births them? Don’t think the sh!ts that are golly-gee-whizzing and looking for Alpha in all this terminal flood of code have much of the milk of human kindness in them, thus unlikely that any such thing will appear in the manifestation, whatever it may be.

      But then, of course, various other species have become the discarded ladders on which “we special humans,” with our altruism (that turns out to be mostly selfishness) and honor (joking) and generosity and persistence and other civic virtues, have scaled the heights of “progress” and “dominion…”

      I’ve read stuff by Tech Lovers and other unromantics where the writers are applauding what they think of as “the inevitable and wonderful future.” Quite something, to get to live in such times of ascent toward some inchoate and hypnotically chaotic perfection…

      Humans to become irrelevant in four, three, two, one…?

      Oh well, tomorrow I’ll mulch the plantings and prune the rose bushes. The weather bot promises it will be a beautiful day!

  15. lee

    “Advice for Coping With Seasonal Depression, From 9 People Who Have It” [Medium]. • Some readers may find the tips useful (though I’m not keen on the product placement for “a light therapy machine that helps with cell regeneration.” In my experience, light and activity — any activity are key; just get moving, especially outside in the sun. And remember, we are now past the solstice, so the days are getting longer, even if imperceptibly.

    IIRC, in the book, The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, the most depressed population studied were the Inuit of Greenland. The long dark winter was of course a factor as well as high mortality rates for their hunters combined with a suck it up and don’t talk about your pain culture. One thing that I recall that helped were that some local women activists introduced and normalized talking therapy. The other was the introduction of TVs, which I guess is a form of light therapy. I wonder what they watch. Smilla’s Sense of Snow perhaps? Nordic Noir? The Lion in Winter? Probably not.

    1. Carolinian

      Nanook of the North.

      Where I live we are fifty percent above normal rainfall totals for the year and the winter has added cold and sunless days to the perpetual drenching. So getting out in the sun in is increasingly less of an option in this corner of the “sunbelt.”.

      1. ambrit

        Caribou Landing? Silence of the North? Due South? Wallander?
        We’re having a rain day here, and have had 4.56 inches of rain since noon, with more on the way. The streets are flooded. The raccoons and possums are up in the trees.

          1. ambrit

            Oooooh! The Vickers Ferris Wheel!
            Plus, why didn’t Arty Clarke do a walk on, say as a customer at the Howard Johnsons Wheel House?
            I just re-watched “Star Trek The Movie” and realized how much they “stole” from the Psychedelic Day Trip sequence when they depicted the approach to V’ger.
            That book would be the perfect companion piece to a book on how Kubrick “faked” the moon landing.
            The movie has aged well, despite the passing of Pan Am, and the Soviet Union, and the Howard Johnson ‘Earthlight Room.’ I guess that the good old U.S.A. will be the next to go.

        1. ambrit

          Weather update. The second line of thunderstorms has arrived. So far, up to 4.84 inches of rain since noon.

              1. ambrit

                Final update for the night. Still raining with a ‘train’ of storms stretching down to the Gulf moving this way.
                Rainfall total as of 12:00 AM is 5.45 inches. Almost all of it falling between Noon and Midnight.
                Sweet dreams cozy critters!

                1. ambrit

                  24hour update: (Well, actually 22 hour update): 1.76 inches of rain since midnight. Sky’s clearing a bit. No more rain until Saturday. Total rainfall for this episode: 7.21 inches in roughly twenty hours.
                  Welcome to the ‘New World Weather Order!’

          1. Lee

            Don’t hate me but it’s sunny and in the 50s during the day and 40s at night. Next week the temperature is forecast to plummet for one night to 32 degrees, which verges on being catastrophically cold for we sf bay area weather wimps.

            1. ambrit

              You Infernal Fiends and your Mediterranean climate!
              Update #2: Second storm line moved on out, another moving on up towards us. Rainfall since noon, 5.13 inches.

            2. Chris51

              In southern Oz it’s 23 here at present (20:45), heading for a low of 19 overnight. That’s 73, heading for 66 for you old school Fahrenheiters.

              Could do with a spot of rain, though…

    2. Carey

      I remember reading that claim about talk therapy helping the Inuit Greenlanders. Maybe.
      A big, provisional maybe to that claim. Movement, as said here, the more vigorous (virtually without limit!), the better. There is decent background in Ratey and Manning’s book ‘Go Wild!’, but if movement isn’t helping, move *harder and faster*, and I do not
      say this glibly. Depression is a MFer, and has to be fought on equal terms.

      No YMMV this time.

      1. ambrit

        How does one conduct ‘talk therapy’ in a language with about twenty two words for snow and ice? There are sharp disputes about the structures and vocabularies of the associated Inuit and Eskimo tongues, much less a therapeutic functionality of fluency in the main branches. The northern tribes traveled all around the Arctic. Hunter gatherers generally do not respect the concept of national borders. Hunting territories would be more their style.
        A fascinating culture group that will in all probability be replicated out in the Asteroid Belt in the next few centuries. (How many words will they have for Delta-V?)

    3. Carey

      I’ll take another chance on this one. If one looks closely, what actually works, or not,
      in “talk therapy”, is the bond that forms, *or not*, between therapist and patient (those
      words used with care, I think.); CBT, DBT, all that stuff is close to meaningless, for
      the afflicted. There is no place at all in this for capital/ism, except as an exterminatory agent.

      Why any of this might be a surprise, to anyone, is yet to be determined.

  16. Summer

    Legal weed is everywhere — unless you’re a scientist” [Politico]. “Americans can legally buy high quality marijuana in most states, but when scientists want to study pot in a lab, they’re basically stuck with schwag.”

    What if thousands of scientists just smoke it, in states where it is legal, and test themselves?

      1. Carey

        It’s all so strong! Way too strong for me. Hell, weed in the 70s was often too strong for me, which is too bad, because one-in-seven or so highs were emotionally
        revelatory. Weaker weed, now!!! heh

  17. Rosario

    RE: “Miguel Salazar Wants You to Think Marxism is Racist–But He Doesn’t Want to Own It”

    Maybe it is just my take on the text, but I never got the impression that Marx didn’t get the psychological/social/cultural (metaphysical?) component of capitalist hierarchy (Capital Vol.1 chapter 1 section 4 comes to mind). Plenty have expanded on the psycho-social elements of capitalist hierarchy since (Gramsci, Fanon, Luxemburg, Althusser, on-and-on). Idealism and Materialism are heavily intertwined in Marxist thought. Marx was a scholar of Hegel after all.

    The rub seems to be that Marxism (appears to) leave little room for individual sovereignty, no matter whether that sovereignty is expressed in the best or worst way. I think this is why Conservatives hate it (often Romantics by nature) and why many leftists have been conditioned to mistrust it (children of consumer centered, pseudo-individualistic capitalist culture). At first it seems to be a valid complaint, but IMO, it could be circumvented by simply allocating the proper social and political space for the individual to behave at their best (or worst) without material conditions being a valid excuse for their behavior. I’m absolutely not the first to make this point (again, Gramsci, Fanon, etc.). The idea is, people never really behave as truly autonomous individuals in a capitalist system (possibly any hierachical system), therefore any attempt to parse out what is innate to the human condition (a tendency to create racial hierarchies or similar) would be impossible without controlling for the material inequalities forced upon us by an existing hierarchical social and political order. This is an idealist argument wrapped in materialism.

    I don’t know if the theory is necessarily true, or if any universalist, egalitarian state can exist, but the idea is obviously compelling enough for people to dwell on it for generations. I suppose my issue with the Idealist position, however much I may empathize with the romantic sentiment, is that little can be done to remedy the problem, and most Idealist positions on the human condition end up becoming tautological. Figuring out how to successfully bind Idealism and Materialism has been the cutting edge of philosophy and spirituality for the past 200 years.

    1. Duck1

      Wierd that Marx is being discussed. Really, we all read under the covers with flashlights. Think the anti have been sharpening the knives for ever.
      Find the appropriate camouflage

      1. WJ

        Ha. What you call “alienated labor” others call “The Right to Work.” Individual Sovereignty as Self-Enslavement.

        1. JBird4049

          “They are casting their problems at society. And, you know, there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbours.”

          —–Margaret Thatcher

          The more I read about eugenics or study Neoliberalism and modern economic thought in class, the more such ideologies like them and ideas like racism, eugenics, Social Darwinism, and identity politics noticeable similarities in denying humanity its existence especially just how interconnected as well as different we all are.

          But that is true of much of 20th century thought. Consider everyone as mass produced individual units to be judge all alone and separate from the past, the future, each other, and certainly life in all its weirdness and complexity. Or do it the other way, by not considering the individual’s humanity, but only of the group as some soulless herd to be molded, manipulated, and led.

          Riffing off this, I have thought of the phrase Arbeit macht frei as some precursor slogan for the formative elements of the ideology of neoliberalism, which after all had its beginnings in the 1940s. Not the ideas as they have been around for centuries, but the twisting of classical liberalism into the modern bastardized form. Using the ideas of freeing oneself from an oppressive feudal society, religious oppression, or mercantilistic economy into a justification for theft, murder, slavery, genocide, and ecocide, even to ultimately denying the rule of law and democracy is quite the trick. But then the Stalin himself, and to fair others, twisted communism into a justification to destroy society in order to improve it, but really was just a means to gain power over others with something labeled “communism” just an excuse. Make no mistake as it seems to be across the Left-Right spectrum.

          To end this long winded observation, or perhaps polemic, I see much of the current “thought’ as weaponized post-modernistic BS that is not even skeptical but more like Nihilism masquerading as some kind of Dadaism. People being paid to dissolve not just civilization, but society as well, with caustic words just so some empty souls can fool themselves into believing that They are Important People.

          But what do I know? I’m just a fool over-aged college student bloviating on my keyboard.

  18. noonespecial

    Empire Files:
    Disabled Veterans and Federal Student Loan Debt

    “Nearly 42,000 disabled veterans are eligible to have their federal student loan debt dismissed…But only about 18 percent of them have gotten their loans dismissed…around 25,000 disabled veterans have already defaulted on their student loans.”

    The article quotes a Dept. of Ed. official that tries to explain that loan forgiveness is not “quite that simple”.

    “’The Department recognizes the sacrifices veterans and their families have made for our country, which is why we’ve streamlined the TPD discharge process through the data matching process with the VA,” Liz Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, said in an email. ‘The last thing we want to do is cause unintended consequences — like impact future federal student aid or create a state or local tax liability — for men and women who have given so much.’”

    No worries though, since Boeing has its man nominated to the top position and Lockheed and the rest keep receiving contracts. /s/

  19. Tomonthebeach

    “The Farm Bureau: Big Oil’s Unnoticed Ally Fighting Climate Science and Policy”

    Amazing how adding a little corn to something can make a farmer your friend for life.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Many years ago I read the first pre-updated edition of the book Unforgiven by Charles Walters junior. A small part of the book discussed how a thing called the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture became important in the 1920s-1940s in farmer uplift, farm policy, farming interests political advancement, etc. He also wrote about how sometime during that period a group of predasitic bussiness interests and opponents of fairness-for-farmers set up a false-flag fake farmlobby organization called Farm Bureau.

      If Farm Bureau still is what it was created to be when it was invented to blunt and divert the advance of NASDA and other pro-farmer/ pro-farming organizations some decades ago, it should be no surprise that Farm Bureau would support the Carbon Skydumping Conspiracy.

      Here is a link to the more recently updated version of Unforgiven.

      And here is a link to a little wiki about the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

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