2:00PM Water Cooler 12/5/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Lingering tariffs on steel and aluminum could are a huge obstacle for congressional passage of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement next year. Lawmakers on both sides have expressed displeasure that the duties remain in place despite a new NAFTA deal, with American industries and agriculture still taking hits from the two U.S. neighbors’ retaliatory tariffs on more than $15 billion worth of U.S. goods… Negotiations to lift the tariffs, and likely replace them with quotas, are expected to continue this week” [Politico].


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


“He’s running. She’s running. Everyone’s running.” [The Week]. “Well, if you thought the GOP’s 2016 clown car was too crowded, wait till you see the Democrats’ 2020 crew. By my count, no fewer than 30 people could end up running for the Democratic nomination in 2020. Maybe the early forums and debates can make use of risers — you know, the kind you see at choral concerts, with 10 or so candidates standing side-by-side three rows deep…. The 2020 race for the White House may turn out to be bewildering, but it’s exceedingly unlikely to be boring.” • As I keep saying, expect continued volatility…

“Camille Paglia: ‘Hillary wants Trump to win again'” [American Spectator]. Paglia: “If the economy continues strong, Trump will be reelected. The Democrats (my party) have been in chaos since the 2016 election and have no coherent message except Trump hatred… Screechy Elizabeth Warren has never had a snowball’s chance in hell to appeal beyond upper-middle-class professionals of her glossy stripe. Kirsten Gillibrand is a wobbly mediocrity. Cory Booker has all the gravitas of a cork. Andrew Cuomo is a yapping puppy with a long, muddy bullyboy tail. Both Bernie Sanders (for whom I voted in the 2016 primaries) and Joe Biden (who would have won the election had Obama not cut him off at the knees) are way too old and creaky…. Given how thoroughly she has already sabotaged the rising candidates by hogging the media spotlight, I suspect she wants Trump to win again. I don’t see our stumbling, hacking, shop-worn Evita yielding the spotlight willingly to any younger gal.” • Sometime Paglia rises above invecitive. And sometime she doesn’t.

“When Barack Met Beto” [New York Magazine]. “We’ll have to see if the flirtation of ObamaWorld with Beto O’Rourke waxes or wanes. But if it continues, you could definitely imagine early canvassers for the fluent Spanish-speaking Beto holding signs with United Farm Workers slogan adopted by Obama ’08: Si Se Puede!” • Forgotten nothing, learned nothing…


FL: “Confusion clouds restoration of Florida felons’ voting rights” [Tampa Bay Times]. “The passage of Amendment 4 by nearly two-thirds of voters ends a system implemented by Scott and Cabinet members in 2011 that required felons to wait five years after completing their sentences before they could apply for restoration of their civil rights, including the right to vote… In Florida, a person who’s convicted of a felony still loses the right to vote. The removal process involves a multitude of agencies from court clerks to the prison system to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the due process safeguards involved take more than four months. Counties wanted clear direction from the state. But the state’s position is that the Legislature should have a voice — the same Legislature that for decades refused to address the issue of felons’ voting rights, which prompted advocates to collect enough voters’ signatures to force a statewide referendum, bypassing the Legislature.” • Another example of pesky voters being ignored by the powers-that-be.

MI: “Lame-Duck Power Grabs Aren’t New, But Republicans in Wisconsin and Michigan Are ‘More Aggressive'” [Governing]. “The current bills are part of a recent trend. Legislatures largely controlled by Republicans have been attempting to assert their authority over other branches and aspects of the political process more aggressively in recent years. Legislators have launched attacks on judicial independence, expanding or contracting the size of courts. They’ve also moved to limit or even overturn laws approved by voters at the ballot. Last week, the Ohio Senate passed a bill that would limit the ways in which courts could interpret statutes. On Monday, Utah GOP Gov. Gary Herbert signed a bill to roll back provisions of a medical marijuana initiative approved by voters last month. On Tuesday, the Michigan House voted to weaken laws enacted in September to raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave — laws that were passed to stave off ballot initiatives. Legislators have justified their actions by noting that, because they represent relatively small districts, they make up the branch most representative of the public will.'” • Laboratories of democracy….

Bush Hagiography

“Alan Simpson cried while writing George H.W. Bush’s eulogy — so he wouldn’t cry while giving it” [WaPo]. • No.

“Furloughed Willie Horton Pays Respects At George H.W. Bush Funeral” [The Onion]. • That’s more like it.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Democrats’ Hispanic Problem” [Politico (RH)]. “Parra, the Democratic strategist who used to work for Harry Reid, says his party ‘always expects demography to float our boat,’ instead of making a real effort to engage Hispanics on issues they care about…. The good news for Republicans in 2018 was that they improved on their performance from 2016 in all kinds of Hispanic communities. At the Bob Graham Education Center in Miami Lakes, named for the white Democratic icon whose family built that heavily Cuban and Republican city, Trump won the precinct by 30 points. But DeSantis and Scott each won it by 40. At Felix Varela High School west of Miami in the heavily Colombian neighborhood of The Hammocks, Scott lost by 25 points and DeSantis lost by 26 points, but Trump had lost by 34 points. The potentially bad news for Republicans in 2020 is that Trump will be back on the ballot, and it’s not clear how much of their improvement in 2018 was a result of his absence.”

“Jeffrey Epstein and the Decline of the American Experiment” [Vanity Fair]. Concluding paragraph: “All of this is enough to turn some of us into tricoteuses, eagerly picturing a tumbrel of Davos panelists on its way to the Place de la Concorde. But history has some harsh lessons for revolutionaries. It also has only bad reviews for drain-the-swamp movements or Maoist-stye “anti-corruption drives,” because governing by campaigns rather than law makes things even worse. (If #MeToo has a vulnerability, it is that its nature as a mass movement has supplanted the formation of something consistent and systematic.) It’s mighty unsatisfying to say, but steady, boring structural amelioration, plus insistence on equality under the law, is probably our best hope. We could start by making sure rich crooks go to jail when they commit crimes. If we felt more ambitious, we could also make a habit of examining all our policymaking, whether in education or immigration or regulation, with an eye to its effects on social trust—so hard won, so easily lost. It might allow us to produce elites worthier of their positions, and tomorrow’s Americans could regain some of what today’s have squandered. But, boy, have we left them a lot to clean up.”

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of November 30, 2018: “Driven by the third consecutive weekly drop in interest rates, mortgage activity increased” [Econoday].

Commodities: “Congo declares cobalt ‘strategic’, nearly tripling royalty rate:” [Reuters]. “Democratic Republic of Congo has declared cobalt a “strategic” substance, a government decree showed on Monday, nearly tripling the royalty rate miners will pay on the key component in electric batteries to 10 percent…. Before they were designated “strategic”, the minerals were all subject to a royalty rate of 3.5 percent. That was already an increase over the 2 percent rate in Congo’s previous mining code, which was in effect until June. Congo is Africa’s top copper producer and mines more than 60 percent of the world’s cobalt.” • Love the photo of the “artisanal miner.”

Tech: “Does ‘don’t be evil’ still apply, Google?” [Editorial Board, WaPo]. “The Intercept reported last week that leaders at Google tried to push Project Dragonfly, the company’s development of a censored search engine for the Chinese market, while keeping it as quiet as possible — and that they tried to sideline the typical privacy review process to do it. Days before the Intercept published its reporting, hundreds of employees publicly signed on to a letter calling on Google to drop Dragonfly. Now, staffers have raised more than $200,000 in pledges to fund a possible strike… By protesting a closed-off effort to bolster a closed-off system, employees are proving they remain committed to their company’s animating principles. Executives should show they are committed, too.” • I confused my ginormous monopolies there, reading the headline, and for a moment I thought the worms on WaPo’s Editorial Board had turned; but no. But does the board really think that Google and Amazon have different “aniimating principles”? Big if true.

Tech: “Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian issued an ominous warning for Facebook: ‘We’ve hit peak social'” [Business Insider]. “When asked whether he was referring to Twitter, Ohanian said: “All of them. Social media as we know it, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, all these.””

Finance: “Hedge Fund Dream Job Is Vanishing [Bloomberg]. “Analysts as young as 30 are facing what they might call ‘headwinds’ in a changing Wall Street. Automated trading, a world awash in data and passive investing have made stock pickers less influential. Hedge fund fees are down, making analysts targets for cuts. European regulations have put researchers out of work. And in a 10-year bull market juiced by the Federal Reserve’s low rates and bond buying, insights more expensive than ‘buy the dip’ cost too much.” • What a shame.

Honey for the Bears: “October 2018 Leading Index Review: Generally A Slowing Rate of Growth” [Econintersect]. “At this point, Econintersect continues to see NO particular dynamic at this time which will deliver noticeably better growth in the foreseeable future – and the majority of the [Philadelphia Fed’s Leading Index and all major leading indicators] are forecasting slowing rate of growth.”


“Oakland Faces Lawsuit Over Obstruction of Coal Shipping” [Courthouse News]. “[Oakland Bulk & Oversized Terminal (OBOT)] developers – including Phil Tagami, a friend of Gov. Jerry Brown – want to haul coal by train from nearly 1,000 miles away in Utah and ship it to Asia through the $250 million facility. The terminal is being built next to the Port of Oakland and would be capable of exporting up to 10 million tons of coal annually, making it the largest coal export terminal on the West Coast. But in June 2016, the Oakland City Council passed two measures prohibiting the storage and handling of coal and petroleum coke at any bulk-materials facility in the city after multiple studies found coal dust blowing off trains can cause asthma or cancer, and that emissions from the terminal would worsen air quality in West Oakland, a community primarily composed of low-income people of color that already suffers from some of the worst air quality in California due to its proximity to major freeways and the port. The new regulations brought the project to a halt…. OBOT’s developers have invested more than $30 million in the project and will suffer more than $100 million in damages if they can’t complete it. They want court orders forbidding Oakland from interfering with the project and requiring it to fulfill its obligations under the contract.” • More like this please. (Note that the OBOT opponents lost the first case because they got the arithmetic wrong on a science issue. If you’re an activist, you’ve got to get the science — and the law — right. You’ve got to be better than the corporations and the State; unfair, but so is life. Fortunately, ordinary people have done this again and again.)


On a post-card:

Health Care

“Why Do Hospitals Hate Sleep So Much?” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones]. “The whole point of hospitals is to care for sick people, and getting adequate sleep is a critical part of recovery. So why would every part of every hospital be designed without the slightest consideration of sleep?… solutions aren’t hard to fathom. In fact, they’re trivially easy to figure out. This is why hospital routines strike me as deliberate negligence: they could only be put in place by administrators who literally don’t care about anything except the convenience of doctors.” • Or, possibly… profit?

“Medicare for All Is Even Better Than You Thought” [Jacobin] (original). “Previous estimates suggested that Medicare for All would save $2 trillion. But it’s even better: a new study finds that Bernie Sanders’s bill would save $5.1 trillion — while providing universal, comprehensive coverage.”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“Lawler: US Death Rate Up, Life Expectancy Down in 2017” [Calculated Risk]. “What is especially striking about this table is the sharp increase in death rates among 25-44 year old over the last five years.” • I don’t want to be cranky about this, but could McBride at least have mentioned income and education, proxies for class? Demographics isn’t the magic key that unlocks every door! That said, demographics are important, and McBride has this to say on the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) data:

First, there is obvious “mistake” in the Census 2017 projections for “infant” deaths. Second, the Census 2017 death projections for 15-84 year olds for calendar year 2017 (approximated in the above table) were a whopping 170,424 below actual deaths for this broad age group. The Census 2017 death projections for subsequent years have the same “issues,” overstating infant, child, and 85+ deaths and significantly understating likely deaths for all other age groups. These “issues” make the Census 2017 population projections of little use for those who use population projections to forecast key economic variables such as labor force growth, household growth, etc.

Couldn’t those “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward” places get to work on this? I mean, what sort of monsters preside over a population where falling life expectancy has become the, er, norm?

Class Warfare

“Nation’s First Charter School Strike Halts Classes for 7,500 Chicago Students” [Governing]. “Hundreds of educators at Chicago’s Acero charter schools walked off the job Tuesday morning, halting classes for 7,500 predominantly Latino students and launching the nation’s first strike over a contract at the independently operated campuses…. The CTU has said key issues include reduced class sizes, maternity and paternity leave, a revamped teacher evaluation system and better pay. The union said they were also unable to secure commitments on special education services and guaranteed protections for undocumented students and families.”

“Venture Capitalists Are Taking $18-an-Hour Jobs to Understand the Gig Economy” [Bloomberg]. “As startups that rely on contract staffers reach ever higher valuations, VCs and bankers alike are trying their hand at the workers’ side of companies’ apps—running errands, shuttling cargo, and the like. The benefits of afternoons spent sorting other peoples’ laundry, say acolytes of the strategy, can mean the difference between cinching the deal and losing it, or understanding the way the business works and getting it wrong.” • Can’t they hire this done?

News of the Wired

“Are There Bacteria in Your Brain?” [Nautilus]. “What do we know about gut-brain behavior? You can manipulate behavior and cognition and even structure with the microbiome. If you take germ-free mice, which have no microbiome, and colonize them with regular mice feces using a fecal transplant, a lot of their behavioral symptoms will become ameliorated. And if you put H. pylori bacteria into mice, they develop new cognitive and behavioral problems. The fecal microbiota (which is the gut microbiota obtained from feces) is different in people with different illnesses. People with Parkinson ‘s have a different microbiota than people who don’t have it.” • I’m seeing real commercial possibilities here…

“Tumblr’s anti-porn algorithm is flagging basically everything as NSFW” [Daily Dot]. “Tumblr and Twitter are already full of screencaps showing random posts mislabeled as explicit material. In some cases, you can kind of see how the mistake happened (for instance, art with partial but non-sexual nudity, or images that a bot might mistake for a human body), but there’s also a ton of content that appears to have been flagged at random. Some are G-rated or abstract art, which suggests an immediate problem for the many illustrators who use Tumblr as a portfolio site. Others are everyday photos like this person’s gallery of dinosaur pics. There are also examples of potentially NSFW content that escaped the algorithm, while family-friendly posts got flagged on the same blogs. For instance, artist Erika Moen (who is known for her sex education comic Oh Joy Sex Toy) noticed that her fully-clothed selfies had been flagged as explicit, but her photos of dildos had not…. Meanwhile, the site’s contingent of Nazi bloggers remains relatively unscathed.” • Sounds legit.

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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 (PlutoniumKun):

A tapestry of the forest floor.

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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. a different chris

    >Sometime Paglia rises above invecitive. And sometime she doesn’t.

    And sometimes invective is exactly what the subject deserves. No more.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Sanders doesn’t seem old and “creaky” to me. He seems old and “fit” to me.

      Paglia always did prefer style over substance in her political analysis. It may be that style is all she knows.

    2. John D.

      That may be true, but let’s not kid ourselves: Paglia’s nothing but invective.

      And watching her call other women “screechy” is not unlike observing a grotesquely obese man shriek fat shaming abuse at other people who are slightly overweight.

    3. Big Tap

      “Cory Booker has all the gravatas of a cork”. Perfect. Unlike Booker at least a cork serves a purpose.

    4. openandshut

      I don’t see our stumbling, hacking, shop-worn Evita yielding the spotlight willingly to any younger gal.

      Paglia describing herself here.

  2. DonCoyote

    Well, Deval Patrick and Michael Avenatti claim they’re out. So that leaves what, 25?

    Who said “I would rather not have to vote for her, although she is a friend I respect. A 70-year person with a long track record, unbridled ambition, greedy, not transformational, with a husband still {family blogging} bimbos at home”? Was it John Kerry? Barack or Michelle Obama?

    No, it was Colin Powell. In 2014, before he knew who the Republican candidate was. And he endorsed her and claimed he was going to vote for her.

  3. allan

    Nonlinear rise in Greenland runoff in response to post-industrial Arctic warming [Nature]

    Abstract: The Greenland ice sheet (GrIS) is a growing contributor to global sea-level rise1, with recent ice mass loss dominated by surface meltwater runoff. Satellite observations reveal positive trends in GrIS surface melt extent, but melt variability, intensity and runoff remain uncertain before the satellite era. Here we present the first continuous, multi-century and observationally constrained record of GrIS surface melt intensity and runoff, revealing that the magnitude of recent GrIS melting is exceptional over at least the last 350 years. We develop this record through stratigraphic analysis of central west Greenland ice cores, and demonstrate that measurements of refrozen melt layers in percolation zone ice cores can be used to quantifiably, and reproducibly, reconstruct past melt rates. We show significant (P  less than  0.01) and spatially extensive correlations between these ice-core-derived melt records and modelled melt rates and satellite-derived melt duration4 across Greenland more broadly, enabling the reconstruction of past ice-sheet-scale surface melt intensity and runoff. We find that the initiation of increases in GrIS melting closely follow the onset of industrial-era Arctic warming in the mid-1800s, but that the magnitude of GrIS melting has only recently emerged beyond the range of natural variability. Owing to a nonlinear response of surface melting to increasing summer air temperatures, continued atmospheric warming will lead to rapid increases in GrIS runoff and sea-level contributions.

    But N=1, so no big deal.

    1. rd

      The melting ice can be easily replaced by increased ice production in Boca Raton and Mar-a-Lago for use in cocktails.

  4. ambrit

    About venture capitalists dipping their pedicured toes into the ‘deplorable’ conditions of the gig economy; alas, where is this fabled land of milk and honey where $18 an hour jobs flow like water? Around here, McDonalds raising their ‘crewperson’s’ wage to $11 an hour is big news. Many of us ‘deplorables’ are faced with $8 an hour jobs on offer.

      1. wilroncanada

        Maybe he was thinking of all the people he’s milked for all they could give him? Others use words like scammed, stole, grifted.

        1. ambrit

          I can hear the soundtrack of the ‘newly discovered’ Moscow Locker Room video.
          “Yeah. All I gotta do is grab ’em by the udders.”

  5. jefemt

    Class Warfare: VC taking $18.00 per hr jobs.

    Hope they stick with it for several months and try living on that wage, and not their bazillions….

    It ain’t just the nature of work – it’s the psychology and constant water drip/specter of observing the Great Life portrayed on TV, Media–GHWB in his big three 300 hp power boat— what we aspire to, are shown to be ‘the thing’ juxtaposed to the constant reality splashed back– in your face: not for you, bub…
    The hope-crushing realistic view that one will never, ever get there, with their $50K in student loan debt…

    Stridently seeking a $15- minimum wage— have you seen what a blue collar professional charges (and I do not begrudge them this– it is a realistic minimum if we are to ‘have’ what we ‘expect’— In Montanny:
    auto mechanic $105 hr
    Plumber $80-90/hr
    Carpenter $80/hr

    Nurses $30 to $40/hr… 2,080 working hours per year– simple quick and dirty doubling drives out an annualized wage .

    $18/hr x 2 = $36K per year— after a two decades of meteoric price increases in real estate, there is not much left after rent/ house payment -then for food, utilities, insurance, clothing, debt service, and their humble 10% going to charity and the other 10% to Wall Street in ‘savings’

    Yellow Vests for everyone!

    1. False Solace

      When I was a poor college student a cop pulled me over for speeding. He let me off with a warning but told me the fine for reckless driving was (at the time) $600. I practically gasped. I had no idea how I could ever get my hands on that kind of money. I could barely afford gas.

      I see the fine is up to $1000 now. Wages haven’t increased by that much…. I remember that feeling of helplessness today and I’m sure something similar goes through the minds of people stuck with unexpected car bills or medical bills. God help us… because our supposedly democratic government won’t.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Yellow vests for everyone!

      Business opportunity – I’ll load up on French yellow vests and sell them on eBay. Should be a winner.

      Vivent les Gilets Jaunes. Vivement samedi.

    1. Olga

      I was just going to post this – you know you’re in trouble, when Onion starts to compete with reality:
      GOP-Controlled Wisconsin Legislature Votes To Dissolve State Rather Than Let Democrats Have It

  6. Anon

    The Kevin Drum piece shows he does not understand that hospitals are for care – sleep is something you do at home or a different facility. In order to have proper care you need people around which of course interferes with sleep.

    Maybe rich people like Kevin Drum need to be in a place with highly paid staff watching him sleep but those kinds of staff tend to get complacent leading to bad care.

    1. Not From Here

      Hospitals, at least in the USA, are neo-liberal temples for separating people from their money, and if stripping them of their health through poor diet and sleep deprivation helps the profit driven process, then so be it.

      Care, maybe, is available at hospices.

    2. Bugs Bunny

      Getting sleep in a French hospital is not a problem. The nurses are really great at leaving you alone for as long as you need. In fact, I always wondered if the nurses were OK since it’s well known that they’re overworked and underpaid.

      I was pretty shocked by that article. Nightmarish stuff. And I imagine the food is crappy as well.

      1. marieann

        When I was working as an RN this always seemed one of the most insane things I had to do.

        However most of the time there were other medications that also had to be given around 2200.

    3. dr. iatrogena

      Sure, some part of what you say is true. Care does sometimes need to get in the way of sleep. But getting rest is IMPORTANT to recovery. And there are things that can be done about this that need NOT interfere with good care. Considerable initiatives have already been undertaken in Neonatal Intensive Care units to make them quieter, warmer. and more conducive to healthy neonates.

    4. sacbaker

      If patients didn’t really need to be looked after each hour then you would not need as many nurses or staff. The RN’s union sure wouldn’t like that. Money rules both for the unions and the corporate hospitals.

  7. ambrit

    Sarcasm Alert! Achtung Sarkasmus!
    Huh!? Nazi Bloggers on Tumblr? I thought that, well, never mind. (Homeland Security’s at the door.)

    1. ChrisPacific

      I know people in a group who are engaged in trying to clean up Tumblr’s porn bot problem by coordinating mass reports. In the process they have come across some really nasty and illegal stuff, including child porn. They reported that whenever they saw it, but the general lack of response has led most of them to conclude that Tumblr simply doesn’t care about it all that much.

      Fortunately Apple does, and Tumblr is learning that Apple’s opinion on the subject matters a great deal. (For those that are late to the party, the reason why Tumblr is so desperate to solve this problem now is because Apple blocked their app from the app store on the grounds that it was being used for child porn).

      1. ambrit

        Thanks for this. There are consequences!
        I get porn bots on my Yahoo e-mail feed. As your associates have found out, the mother company does not seem to care. I wonder how much in revenue the porn trade is worth to the internet barons. The porn lures all seem to come with variations of my name, but never, so far, actually me. Spam by association seems to be the method. I have managed to resist the lure of “see my t–s” and “hot talk!” If I were so inclined, I think I’d go out and seek some actual people to try my moribund social skills on. All else failing, I’d become a K-Y Kommando. “Ay. It’s a slippery slope my son!”

        1. Phillip Allen

          “I wonder how much in revenue the porn trade is worth to the internet barons.”

          “According to various reports, currently, the porn industry’s net worth is about $97 billion. This money is enough to feed at-least 4.8 billion people a day. Every year, Hollywood releases roughly 600 movies and makes $10 billion in profit. And how much porn industry makes? 13,000 films and close to $15 billion in profit. The porn industry makes more money than Major League Baseball, The NFL and The NBA combined.”


          Further from the article:

          “And according to statistics, Porn Sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. In fact, XVideo, on its own, is bigger than Dropbox, CNN and New York Times combined. Mind Geek, who owns PornHub, Brazzers, YouPorn and Reality Kings, is one of the top 3 bandwidth-consuming companies in the world, the other two being Google and Netflix.”

  8. Polar Donkey

    Characters like Epstein, Hastert, Nassar, Sandusky, the pedophile priests, with all the guns around, how did no one ever just walk up to them and serve vigilante justice? I live in a city where hundreds of people are shot per year for much less.

  9. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Both Bernie Sanders (for whom I voted in the 2016 primaries) and Joe Biden (who would have won the election had Obama not cut him off at the knees) are way too old and creaky


    I think it was mentioned the other day that that guy (European?) who wanted to be 20 years younger should try his luck in the US.

    That’s one way that both Sanders and Biden can negate this age-negativism.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think the guy in Europe was trying to appeal to all potential dates.

        Some, who are not worhty it, but still he wants to attract, for whatever reason, only look at one number – his age.

        “But I can still produce (babies, work, drive a taxi, etc).” That doesn’t always work, and, again, he or a candidate may want to catch as many as possible.

        Personally, I don’t think those superficial catches are worth the effort.

        “You think I’m too old for you? Forget you.”

        1. witters

          I think his claim was that self-identified age was perfectly analogous to self-identified gender – and that if the latter was fine (and legally enforceable) then, quite reasonably, so must be the latter. I can’t fault the logic.

        2. wilroncanada

          I had a neighbour who looked to viagra for the same, shall we say, expansion of social contacts?

    1. sacbaker

      So if you say Sanders is to old is it okay for a person to say Ocasio is to young to hold office. She does have a problem remembering how many branches of government we have.
      Warren is close to Sanders age.

  10. Synoia

    Tech: “Does ‘don’t be evil’ still apply, Google?”

    Yes, but with corrected punctuation:

    Don’t! Be evil.

    Google twas ever thus.

  11. dcblogger

    The Powers That Be can see as well as the rest of us that the 2020 Democratic Presidential Primary will come down to Bernie and NotBernie. So there must be considerable behind the scenes maneuvering to choose a NotBernie early. So the donor community must be discussing amongst themselves as to who will be not Bernie and push everyone else out of the race. I would LUV to know about that behinds the scenes maneuvering. And no, Hillary is certainly not running. The one thing the donor community agrees on is that they are not going to give her any more money to run.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I think this is a messier process. It was easy to rally all around Miss Inevitable and squeeze out all the others in 2016. But, that was unusual. The donor community is hardly of one mind. There’s 300+ million people in this country, so that’s more than 3 million of the 1%ers.

      Some of them are likely, ‘still with her’, but not a ton, you’re probably right.

      Clearly, there’s a large group of consultants eyeing those fundraising totals from the TX senate race and are pushing the ‘beto-mania’ theme hard, because there’s ad buys to skim from. They don’t care if he’s a viable candidate or not, they want to get paid.

      But, keep in mind, a lot of these 1%ers are conservative in the sense that they won’t want to commit too early to one particular candidate. They’d rather dribble out smallish amounts and wait for a ‘not-bernie’ front-runner to emerge. Much like the not-Trump alternative never really emerged, it’s possible that a not-bernie won’t emerge until its WAYYY too late.

      The self-funders are another wild-card, too. Bloomberg and Schultz have the bankroll to play the game as long as they’d like, no matter who’s toes get stepped on along the way.

      1. Geo

        Can we please have the Bloomberg/Bernie debates? Please!?! Would love to see Bernie wipe the floor with Bloomberg.

        While Bernie has a whole platform and history of ideas to better the lives of the 99%, Bloomberg just has his soda tax and stop & frisk.

        1. Stonecutter

          Platform, ideas – zip accomplishments. Failed at every private sector endeavor and a multi-millionaire in “public service”.

      2. John k

        Certainly that is the donor desired approach, which aligns w the 1%.
        But they likely learned from 2016, waiting for a leading non trump was a failed strategy… granted they’re happy w the tax cuts.
        But the Bernie threat is existential. They’ll want to pick early.
        Obama has already blessed Beto. Certainly not Warren, and the witch of the west likely seen as too new.
        So Beto or Biden, and most likely smilin joe.
        Maybe this time Bernie will be less gentlemanly.

      3. Chris

        My 0.02$…

        I feel like we’ll see a three pronged attack on Bernie and those like him in 2020. First will be “he’s too…(old/extreme/left/unsuccessful) to be popular with middle class voters.” Second will be post-Trump we need a person of color who is a woman/identifies as a woman. Third will be we need a Real Democrat (TM) to lead the charge and restore the country to normalcy, not some socialist without sex appeal (enter Beto).

        The themes will circle round and round and each will reinforce the decision to make Bernie non-person to the MSM and serious people on NPR. The only wild card I see here is if something like WAR is being sold to the people again via the NYT and MSNBC, then no likely voters will be turning to the MSM. They’ll fragment so much that it will be impossible to get a coordinated message out there on enough platforms to drive it home. Or Bernie and those like him will succeed in slipping through the cracks on YouTube.

  12. Michael Fiorillo

    Regarding the job market “headwinds” faced by stock analysts: I somehow doubt they’ll be receiving lectures about their need for further education, so they can become plumbers or welders. Or that they should just move to where the jobs are…

    1. jrs

      That is actually what the “need for education” spiel has become at this point. It’s not even “get a college degree” anymore, because turns out there were WAY too many unemployed and underemployed people with degrees. It’s now: don’t get a degree we don’t need more people with degrees, we need blue collar workers. Sure 10 years ago EVERYONE should code, but H1Bs solved that. Now: EVERYONE should be a welder!!! Wait is everyone even suited to be a welder? Never mind …

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        A side question – should a second-degree college education be free?

        Or a third degree college education?

        Does it (it’s free) favor the ‘need further education’ advocates?

  13. Samuel Conner

    I don’t agree with what I interpret to be the intended underlying premise of ” they make up the branch most representative of the public will.”

    Framing is important; to fix this:

    “they make up the branch least unrepresentative of the public will.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think there is an argument to increase the number of congress persons, by making the districts smaller.

      It’s based on the same theory that a congress person can serve (as a public servent) better, more attentively, with fewer customers.

      That’s just a theory, though.

      As for which branch is most representatve, the current choices, at the federal level, are

      1. Trump
      2. the House of Reprsentative
      2b. the Senate
      3. the Supreme Court.

      My guess is legislators win this contest…maybe.

    1. shinola


      While the budget fraud is not surprising, (SOP for the MIC) the $$ amounts are mind boggling.

      Thanks for the link.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I’ve heard that so much money is flowing into the Pentagon that soon they are going to have to expand to become a Hexagon.

      1. Carolinian

        However WaPo’s spin is that’s all bureaucratic incompetence whereas the Nation is suggesting a much more deliberate flimflam on the part of the Pentagon so it’s not the same story.

        The fraud works like this. When the DoD submits its annual budget requests to Congress, it sends along the prior year’s financial reports, which contain fabricated numbers. The fabricated numbers disguise the fact that the DoD does not always spend all of the money Congress allocates in a given year. However, instead of returning such unspent funds to the US Treasury, as the law requires, the Pentagon sometimes launders and shifts such moneys to other parts of the DoD’s budget.

        Veteran Pentagon staffers say that this practice violates Article I Section 9 of the US Constitution, which stipulates that

        No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

        As mentioned above and in the Nation story, other government agencies may do this to a minor degree but with the Pentagon you are talking about trillions.

        1. LifelongLib

          Yes, I remember the “end-of-the-year spending spree” from my few years in a (civilian) federal agency. The fear was that if you didn’t spend all the money budgeted that fiscal year you’d get a budget cut the next year.

        2. Todde


          The audit was mandated in 1990. In 1997, congress gave them 20 YEARS to prepare for an audit by 2017 and they still dont have a clue as to what is what.

          HUD has issues and FEMA does to, but FEMA at least has a reason for the lack of internal controls

    3. cnchal

      The next time some politician says where are we going to get the money to do that, point to this gargantuan pile of plugs and say, from there.

      Also, we can discern in the mists, a damn good reason Amazon wants to be the military’s computer operator. The same reason a bank robber will tell you why he robs banks. With so many trillions lost in MMT space, Bezos would like to find a few and stick them in his pocket. No one would be the wiser.

  14. noonesepcial

    Gaia Files

    For those NC readers who tune into coverage of plastic and the planet’s oceans.

    “The study published Tuesday in the journal Global Change Biology looked at over 100 turtles from all seven species spanning the Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean…Researchers found over 800 synthetic particles in the bodies of the turtles…The most common sources of the synthetic material found in all the turtles were found to be tires, marine equipment, cigarettes and clothing.”


    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


      A hybrid at 50 MPG seems to be a better choice than one at, say, 25 MPG, on first look.

      Until you find out, this is an example, that the owner of former drives 100 miles a week, while the owner of the latter drives 50 miles.

      Both would use 2 gallons of gas…you have a tie there.

      Then, you move on to tire wear-age.

      Here, it’s obvious the hybrid will wear out the tires more, everything else being else – vehicle weight, passenger weight, terrain or road conditions, etc., – based on mileages driven…in this example.

      If it’s true that ‘you build it, they will come,’ and Jevon’s paradox is operative (I feel less guilty driving more with this wonderful fuel efficient, green, earth-friendly car), then, we have to careful not to fall for the trap.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Sorry, I don’t have. It was just a reminder to be vigilant when it comes to what we modern humans do to the envrionment.

          We can use less fossil fule for the total mileage driven in the US, by driving greener cars, but for the same mileage total, bits worn out from the tires are still more or less the same amount. And the article cited above is a reminder of where those tire bits and pieces go.

          “Watch out for those less visible or tiney things.”

      1. Carolinian

        Is there much evidence that people feel guilty driving their big gas guzzlers? Gas prices on the other hand do seem to influence car buying behavior but only to a degree. The biggest expense in owning a car is by far the cost of the car itself.

        Plus companies like Volkswagen are talking about getting rid of the gas engine altogether. This will make for a much simpler car if they can solve the battery/range problem.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Of course if the hybrid weighs less than the other, then it may well wear tires at less the wear-per-mile rate than the other car.

        And if the hybrid owner is a very careful driver, and especially if the hybrid owner is a hypermiler
        and the other car owner is a sporty fellow who likes to make screechy jackrabbit starts and stops . . . or likes to go “drifting”

        the hybrid owner may well be releasing less rubber per thousand miles than the other car owner releases per hundred miles.

  15. ChiGal in Carolina

    Maybe some have already seen this, from HOPE, but they’re making a new push to alert people about this. While it is true that Medicare Advantage plans have networks and deny care, it is also true that with traditional Medicare, there are shortages of providers in some areas, and it was never a carte blanche for treatment (for example, there are limits to the frequency of steroid injections for arthritis).

    I expect it is the case that the administrative overhead is greater for Medicare Advantage. To the extent that this is the for-profit insurance companies feeding at the public trough, we are all paying for it, but for some individuals who cannot afford Medicare premiums, Advantage offers help paying the premiums and other perks like dental/vision not included in traditional Medicare. So if you can afford to pay for it, traditional Medicare is undoubtedly the best. It’s just not as straightforward as advocates make it sound.


  16. JCL

    “Why Do Hospitals Hate Sleep So Much?” [Kevin Drum, Mother Jones]. “The whole point of hospitals is to care for sick people, and getting adequate sleep is a critical part of recovery. So why would every part of every hospital be designed without the slightest consideration of sleep?… solutions aren’t hard to fathom. In fact, they’re trivially easy to figure out. This is why hospital routines strike me as deliberate negligence: they could only be put in place by administrators who literally don’t care about anything except the convenience of doctors.” • Or, possibly… profit?

    But it seems to be in the same vein as the constant noise and interruption one gets in open-plan offices, “modern” libraries etc. In the case of the latter there was no profit involved and indeed the cost of the renovations involved in switching libraries to a open-plan design often ran into the millions.

    I’ve long suspected that given the evolutionary imperative to conserve energy and humans’ development as a social species, a perceived immediate need to socialize will consistently hinder any diversion of mental resources toward highly involved and demanding forms of long-term-directed thought such as introspection, meditation, or reflection. These then require a situation where one is free of both social interruption and the threat of such interruption–i.e. solitude.

    It seems to me is that there is a sort of war on solitude, which I suspect is just one prong of a general assault on the sort of thinking that solitude makes possible. (The highly invasive and demanding nature of current forms of social media certainly fits well with such an agenda.) But perhaps it’s not enough to merely reduce the opportunities for solitude, and to truly change patterns of thought in the public at large, such opportunities need to be made to seem somehow fundamentally odious in and of themselves.

    Ergo, peace and quiet needs to be fought against the most vociferously in the very times and places where common sense would seem to call for it the most–libraries, hospitals etc.

    Part of a comment to the MJ article caught my attention:

    My wife was recently in the hospital for 5 days (she’s fine now). If I had a blog I would have written a post very much like this one. Both during the night and day it seemed like every time she dozed off someone came in to do this or that and woke her up. It was kind of like trying to sleep on an airplane.

    But everyone seemed nice and friendly. She had a nice room and everyone seemed very competent, most especially her Dr. So all things considered all I have are minor gripes. I made sure she got plenty of sleep when she got home ;-)

    I’ve noticed that advocates for loud libraries consistently describe them as “bright and friendly”–geniality seems in some quarters to be regarded as practically being one and the same as benevolence now; this sort of thing is a longstanding part of the American scene, but now it seems to have taken on the character of an all-consuming crusade.

    1. Darthbobber

      Libraries. My wife works in the collection care department of the Philadelphia Free Library, so I’ve gotten a glimpse of what drives some of this.

      1) Since the library effectively doubles as a homeless shelter when open, it’s apparently thought important for security staff to easily see all areas. So-no out of the way reading and study nooks.

      2) Heavily pushing the community center/activity hub angle, which also militates against quiet and reading. Lots of programs, less library as such.

    2. Duke of Prunes

      I might be posting this too late for anyone to notice, but I have a counter hospital / no sleep anecdote.

      This happened during a week long stay at the cardiac center in Northwestern Hospital in Chicago about 10 years ago. At night, the nurses/techs all came at once, took their blood, checked my wounds, weighed me, gave me medicine and then disappeared until morning (or as long as protocol allowed). This was wonderful vs. the treatment at the suburban hospital which was very much like the article described – bothered every hour or so as each nurse/tech was working their own uncoordinated schedule. Even worse, the night shift was definitely the “B-team” in terms of experience / training (e.g 3 tries and way too much blood spilled to start a new IV), bedside manner, etc. So not only did they bother you, but it often hurt and took longer than the same service in the day.

      We asked about this at the Chicago hospital. The staff said they’re working to build a world class heart center and sleep is important to recovery.

  17. Wukchumni

    are way too old and creaky….

    The donkey show reminds me of all the apparatchiks in the Soviet Union in the 1980’s, Biden could be Andropov, Pelosi would be a good fill-in for Chernenko.

    Hillary being a leftover from the Romanov era is of course Rasputin-no matter how had you try and get rid of her, nothing avails.

  18. PhilK

    A recent comment at Moon of Alabama led me to a very good article about Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and their “alternative money theories”:

    In December 1921, the American industrialist Henry Ford and the inventor Thomas Edison visited the Muscle Shoals nitrate and water power projects near Florence, Alabama. They used the opportunity to articulate at length upon their alternative money theories, which were published in 2 reports which appeared in The New York Times on December 4, 1921 and December 6, 1921.

    Objecting to the fact that the Government planned, as usual, to raise the money by issuing bonds which would be bought by the banking and non-banking sector — which would then have to be paid back with money raised from taxes, and with interest added — they proposed instead that the Government simply create the currency it required and spend it into society through this public project.

    At this event, Edison said:

    . . . under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt.

    Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. People who will not turn a shovelful of dirt nor contribute a pound of material will collect more money from the United States than will the people who supply the material and do the work. That is the terrible thing about interest. In all our great bond issues the interest is always greater than the principal. All of the great public works cost more than twice the actual cost, on that account. Under the present system of doing business we simply add 120 to 150 per cent, to the stated cost.

    But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. The element that makes the bond good makes the bill good. The difference between the bond and the bill is that the bond lets the money brokers collect twice the amount of the bond and an additional 20 per cent, whereas the currency pays nobody but those who directly contribute to Muscle Shoals in some useful way.
    . . .

    It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30,000,000 in bonds and not $30,000,000 in currency. Both are promises to pay; but one promise fattens the usurer, and the other helps the people. If the currency issued by the Government were no good, then the bonds issued would be no good either. It is a terrible situation when the Government, to increase the national wealth, must go into debt and submit to ruinous interest charges at the hands of men who control the fictitious values of gold.

    This is from an article here: Thomas Edison on Government Created Debt-Free Money

    The article contains a working link to a PDF file containing the original NYT article containing the speech quoted above.

  19. Darthbobber

    Camille Paglia’s piece. Sometimes the fact that she’s a good writer masks a lack of anything to say.
    Summarizing Warren as “screechy” or Booker as lacking gravitas evades any need to discuss whether their policy stances would or would not be beneficial.

    All she has to say about a desirable candidate is that they must “project” steadiness, substance and warmth. What the substance might be seems to be irrelevant as long as they project some version of it. How we come to have an incumbent president who comes up so short on projecting some of these things remains a mystery, if they are as mandatory as all that.

    The source of her disappointment with Kamala Harris is telling. She thinks she should have been playing a “moderating, statesmanlike” role. But she got all inquisitorial. So an across the aisle type she wants, then? My objections would be different.

    I’ll take a pass on the lengthy passage in which she portrays herself and Jordan Peterson as, for want of a better phrase, intellectual Siamese twins.

    Par for Paglia is the (true as far as it goes) bit about crushing student debt. Which everybody else is to blame for not opposing. But oddly enough, before her most recent volumn, I find no indication that she was previously sounding the alarm bells about this anymore than the people she offers her broad brush criticism of for their (uniform?) silence.

    Comparative religion as the “true” multiculturalism? Secular humanism (understood how?) as to blame for the current iteration of “what’s the matter with these kids?” Maybe worth a substantive discussion, but that won’t be forthcoming.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I remember an interview with Ms. Paglia where she compared Junior Bush favorably to Kerry because Junior had a ” short Caesar-Augustusly Roman haircut” which just exuded gravitas and seriousness of purpose. Whereas Kerry’s hair was just a little bit over-stylishly un-seriously long.

      Most of her political analysis has been that shallow over the years.

  20. Nishu

    Possibly some have just observed this, from HOPE, however they’re making another push to caution individuals about this. While the facts demonstrate that Medicare Advantage designs have organizes and deny care, it is additionally obvious that with conventional Medicare, there are deficiencies of suppliers in a few territories, and it was never an unconditional power for treatment (for instance, there are breaking points to the recurrence of steroid infusions for joint inflammation). http://www.nishuchauhan.in/

    I expect the case the managerial overhead is more prominent for Medicare Advantage. To the degree this is the revenue driven insurance agencies sustaining at the general population trough, we are on the whole paying for it, however for a few people who can’t manage the cost of Medicare premiums, Advantage offers assistance paying the premiums and different advantages like dental/vision excluded in conventional Medicare. So on the off chance that you can bear to pay for it, customary Medicare is without a doubt the best. It’s only not as direct as supporters make it sound.

  21. John Beech

    I voted for Donald Trump and I’ll probably vote for him again – unless – it’s Bernie Sanders on the Dem’s ticket. Why on Earth would a consistently Republican voter consider voting for a Democratic-Socialist?

    Simple, it’s because it makes no difference to me whether I pay $1731/mo to my health care company or my government in exchange for treatment and care on demand. The prospect of paying less with M4A once it all comes out in the wash, similar to what Canadians, French, and others experience, is the prize in the box.

  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    The possible spreading of that sentiment among the Conservative Community and the Deplorables is what the Clintobamacrats are most terrified of. It is why they will conspire their hardest to prevent Sanders from getting the DemPrez Nomination.

    And if he gets it despite their best efforts, he should select a younger SanderSocial Democrat to running-mate with.

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