2:00PM Water Cooler 12/7/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“As Battle Over NAFTA 2.0 Heats Up, New Report Documents 25 Years of NAFTA’s Disproportionate Damage to U.S. Latino and Mexican Working People” [Eyes on Trade]. “‘NAFTA not only didn’t deliver on its proponents’ rosy promises of more jobs and higher wages, but its ongoing damage ended decades of bipartisan congressional consensus in favor of trade pacts,’ said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. ‘For a final NAFTA 2.0 package to get through Congress next year, the signed deal will need more work so its labor standards are subject to swift and certain enforcement and the other improvements are made to stop NAFTA’s ongoing job outsourcing, downward pressure on wages and environmental damage.'”


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


Kamala Harris throws part-time and precarious workers under the bus:

If they work a full-time job.” It’s like eligibility requirements — separating the deserving from the undeserving — are so deeply ingrained in every liberal’s psyche that they can’t conceive of a program without them.

Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one:

Presumably, this is “Mike” Bloomberg exercising his gentle wit. Regardless, it’s not a good look.

“Beto O’Rourke lands big Obama fundraiser — but many elite donors are playing the field in 2020” [CNN]. “Chicago financier Louis Susman, who served as finance chairman of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential bid and was an early backer of President Barack Obama’s White House ambitions in 2008, told CNN in a telephone interview he has met with O’Rourke on a number of occasions and that he is encouraging him to run… The support from Susman marks the latest sign of Democratic enthusiasm for O’Rourke, a three-term congressman who raised record sums in his Senate bid and came within 3 percentage points of toppling Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in traditionally red Texas. A CNN tally also shows dozens of top Obama bundlers provided financial support to O’Rourke’s unsuccessful bid…. But elite Democratic fundraisers interviewed by CNN in recent days — some of whom have longstanding ties to former Vice President Joe Biden — say they still are weighing their options in the presidential race, even if they donated to O’Rourke’s Senate campaign.”

“Why this progressive Texan can’t get excited about Beto O’Rourke” [Elizabeth Bruenig, WaPo]. “I can’t get excited about O’Rourke, though I am from Texas and had hoped as much as anyone for Cruz’s defeat. I’m not sure we need another Obama, or another of any Democrat we’ve had recently: I think the times both call for and allow for a left-populist candidate with uncompromising progressive principles. I don’t see that in O’Rourke.” • And Bruenig’s Twitter feed instantly becomes a dumpster fire…

“How Beto Built His Texas-Sized Grassroots Machine” [Texas Monthly]. “[W]hen it came to the task of turning enthusiasm into votes, Beto looked to Bernie’s insurgent 2016 presidential bid — a breeding ground for digital organizing experimentation. O’Rourke relied on the top architects of Sanders’s campaign to help with everything from digital advertising and small-donor fundraising to, perhaps most importantly, building a grassroots ground game.” • That’s nice….

I do not think this means what the Haberman thinks it means:

Maybe check with the ushers and popcorn sellers?

“State activists question inclusivity of Sanders Institute Gathering” [VT Digger (MR)]. “A schedule of speakers revealed that, amid such celebrities as Danny Glover and Susan Sarandon, only a half-dozen Green Mountain State residents would take the stage: Sanders and his wife, ice cream icon Ben Cohen, Burlington Associates partner John Davis, environmental writer Bill McKibben and Champlain Housing Trust CEO Brenda Torpy. Not seeing any local social-justice volunteers like herself represented, [Rutland Area NAACP president Tabitha Pohl-Moore] contacted friend and peer Steffen Gillom, president of the Windham County NAACP. ‘I thought progressive politics was about lifting the voices of common people,’ Gillom says. ‘For a group that prides itself on grassroots organization, it seemed that this progressive event had forgotten its roots — the people of Vermont.'”


NC-09: “Democrat Dan McCready withdraws his concession in North Carolina congressional race roiled by accusations of fraud” [WaPo]. “The allegations are largely concentrated in two North Carolina counties where Republican operative Leslie McCrae Dowless allegedly oversaw a crew of workers who collected absentee ballots from voters. Some of those ballots, according to affidavits filed with state authorities, were incomplete when they were gathered…. [Dowless[ has been under scrutiny by state officials since 2016, when allegations surfaced about illegal ballot harvesting in that year’s campaigns.”

2018 Post Mortem

“‘Pop-up’ super PACs spent millions on the 2018 election without disclosing donors, FEC filings show” [WaPo]. “One major trend involving super PACs this cycle was the number of “pop-up” super PACs that ran ads for or against campaigns just before Election Day without disclosing their donors. Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money on politics, but must disclose their donors and spending. More than a dozen super PACs launched or paid for political ads in a way that allowed them to withhold from the public who was spending money to influence voters until a month after the November elections, new filings show. Some of these groups were tied to well-known national groups, but others were funded by just a handful of wealthy donors.” • Including, naturally, Chuck Schumer’s SMP, which funded [genuflects] Beto O’Rourke.

2016 Post Mortem

If you ever see any jokes about brunch on the Twitter, this is the signage that started it all:

Thing is, the sign has a grammatical error. Since Hillary was not elected President (except in the minds of some of her more perfervid fans), we have a situation contrary to fact, and so accurate use of the subjunctive calls for the use of “were”: “If Hillary were President….” The sign is, in fact, a miniature representation of the 2016 election: Members of the professional class, confident in their intellectual and above all moral superiority, but in fact no better than they should be, and making simple, unforced errors based on skills that they, by their own estimation, had mastered. Butchering the subjunctive is the grammatical equivalent of not visiting Wisconsin. Thus is legitimacy lost — the real subtext of the 2016 election. Did the professional class regain its legitimacy in the “Blue Wave” of 2018? See below, at “Paygo.” I would argue no.

Realignment and Legitimacy

How Pelosi will use Paygo to cripple the left:

“‘No Labels’ Needs A Warning Label” [Rep. Mark Pocan, HuffPo]. “No Labels is a centrist, corporate organization working against Democrats with dark, anonymous money to advance power for special interests. Period. So newly elected members, learn from my mistakes. Run. Fast. No Labels needs a label: ‘Warning: Wolf in sheep’s clothing inside. Join at your own risk.'” • Since Joe Lieberman is the national leader, I would have thought this was obvious. But sometimes the obvious needs to be said.

Stats Watch

Employment Situation, November 2018: “Sustainable non-inflationary strength is the indication from the November employment report as payroll growth proved favorable and moderate and wage pressures modest” [Econoday]. “This report does not raise any urgency for the Federal Reserve to tighten monetary policy and may well raise talk of fewer rate hikes to come in 2019.” And: “The household and establishment surveys both showed ok growth – but the rate of growth was not much better than population growth. The year-to-date employment is running above the pace of last year – but the pace slowed this month” [Econintersect]. “Last month’s employment gains were little changed. The growth this month was below expectations. Just considering this month’s data – this month was worse than last month.” And: “The number of persons working part time for economic reasons has been generally trending down. The number increased in November. The number working part time for economic reasons suggests there is still a little slack in the labor market” [Calculated Risk]. “The headline jobs number was below expectations. The headline unemployment rate was unchanged at 3.7%, tying the previous two month for the lowest rate since 1969. And wage growth was at expectations, and above 3% YoY for the second consecutive month. Overall, this was a decent report.”

Consumer Sentiment, December 2018 (preliminary): “Though the headline index… is unchanged, December’s consumer sentiment report offers a favorable hint for holiday shopping” [Econoday]. “Future expectations are always important but, for retailers during the holidays, are less important than the immediate strength of current sentiment.”

Wholesale Trade, October 2018: “Wholesale inventories open the fourth quarter with a strong… build which will prove a plus for fourth-quarter GDP” [Econoday]. “The rise in inventories and the drop in sales pulls up the stock-to-sales ratio to 1.28 from 1.27 and 1.26 in September and August, offering another indication that inventories at wholesalers are becoming perhaps too heavy.” And: “Overall, I believe the rolling averages tell the real story – and they declined this month. This sector’s growth is now trending down” [Econintersect]. “Inventory levels this month are are the high side of normal – but not recessionary. To add to the confusion, year-over-year employment changes and sales growth do not match.”

Shipping: “Heavy-Duty Truck Orders Hit the Brakes in November” [Wall Street Journal]. “Orders for heavy-duty trucks declined in November for the first time this year, falling to the lowest level in 14 months and providing a fresh sign the North American trucking market is cooling down.”

The Bezzle: “Largest Biotech to IPO Leaves Analysts Awed at Valuation” [Bloomberg]. “The [Moderna] biotech firm has been hoping to raise as much as $600 million through a stock sale that would value the company at about $7.5 billion, a record even for a sector not always known for restrained valuations… ‘I don’t understand how you get to that valuation,’ analyst David Nierengarten of Wedbush, which is not involved in Moderna’s offering, said in a telephone interview. ‘Not only are they early stage, but they’re looking at pretty long and expensive development timelines.”

Supply Chain: “Brexit Stockpiling Frenzy Leaves Firms With Few Warehouses” [Wall Street Journal]. “Global companies are stockpiling so many parts, ingredients, drugs and other goods ahead of Britain’s planned exit from the European Union next year that storage space in the U.K. is running out…. ‘Frozen and chilled [facilities] are for all practical purposes booked out at the moment,’ Ian Wright, chief executive of the Food and Drink Federation, told lawmakers at a recent hearing. He said members of the trade association had difficulty finding space and that what was available was often in the wrong part of the country.”

Tech: “The U.S. security crackdown on Chinese telecom-equipment giantHuawei Technologies Co. may trigger upheaval in major electronics supply chains. American manufacturers and chip makers like Qualcomm Inc. and Broadcomm could lose access to a large-scale customer” [Wall Street Journal]. “Optical component maker Neophotonics generates almost half its revenue from the Chinese company, while U.S.-listed Lumentum, Oclaro, Qorvo and Finisar have around 10% of their revenue tied to Huawei. The company has already taken a hit from a decision by Britain’s largest wireless carrier BT Group PLC, which this week said it would remove Huawei equipment from the core of its network. What happened to China’s ZTE could offer a taste of what comes next: the Trump administration banned American companies from selling to ZTE in April, and though the ban was later lifted ZTE’s Hong Kong-listed stock has yet to recover.”

Tech: “Apple suppliers are sinking after an iPhone lens maker reported a big drop in sales (AAPL, TXN, MU, LITE)” [Business Insider]. “Largan Precision shares tumbled nearly 10% in premarket trading after the company reported a 29% drop in November revenue compared to the same month last year. The move had ripple effects for other Apple suppliers. Meanwhile, Apple fell more than 2% ahead of the opening bell as international markets sold off following the arrest of the Chinese tech giant Huawei’s chief financial officer, underscoring US-China trade tensions.” • Apple is utterly dependent on its China supply chain. One might ask whether that’s already in the price. I doubt it.

Tech: “Paradigm Shift: German smartphones, made differently” [Deutsche Welle]. “”We’re sort of something between a company and an aid organization, if you will,” Carsten Waldeck explains. In principle, [Carsten and Samuel Waldeck] run Shift like any regular business but with one key difference: they have pledged to never distribute profits to themselves or anyone else. Any money that leaves the company’s coffers will finance social or sustainability projects…. Shift phones are modular, allowing their owners to easily replace broken parts and upgrade as technology improves. Part of the price of any Shift phone is also a small deposit that owners get back if they return the device at the end of its life cycle, allowing Shift to recycle the components rather than having them end up in a landfill somewhere.”

The Bezzle: “The Trashing of Tesla Autopilot by Euro NCAP” [AutoEvolution]. “Late last week, European safety watchdog Euro NCAP released its findings about the nature of automated driving technologies (ADS)…. During the tests, the Euro NCAP reviewed the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, DS 7 Crossback, Ford Focus, Hyundai NEXO, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Nissan LEAF, Tesla Model S, Toyota Corolla and the Volvo V60…. Euro NCAP criticizes the fact that despite Autopilot being described in the handbook as “intended only for use on Highways and limited access roads” it is not geofenced, meaning it can be deployed wherever the driver sees fit…. All in all, it would appear the tests conducted by Euro NCAP yielded the following results: Tesla’s Autopilot is a great technology, perhaps the most advanced ADS on the market, but so miserably explained and advertised that is causing drivers to become over-confident it can handle even the trickiest of situations.”

The Bezzle: “Ride-hail firm Lyft races to leave Uber behind in IPO chase” [Reuters]. “Ride-hailing company Lyft Inc beat bigger rival Uber Technologies Inc in filing for an initial public offering (IPO) on Thursday…. San Francisco-based Lyft, last valued at about $15 billion in a private fundraising round, did not specify the number of shares it was selling or the price range in a confidential filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Lyft could go public as early as the first quarter of 2019, based on how quickly the SEC reviews its filing, people familiar with the matter said. Lyft’s valuation is likely to end up between $20 billion and $30 billion, one source added.”

Regulation: “The FTC’s top consumer protection official can’t go after Facebook — or 100 other companies” [The Verge]. “The Federal Trade Commission’s top consumer protection official is prohibited from handling the cases involving 120 different companies, including Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Uber, according to financial disclosure documents published by Public Citizen today. Andrew Smith, who heads the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau, would be in charge of handling investigations into some of the country’s largest companies and any consumer protection violations that may occur. But due to his conflicts of interest, Smith is barred from participating in any investigations involving the companies he previously provided legal services for.” • Ingenious!

Honey for the Bears: “The Week in Public Finance: Is the Next Recession Near? 2 Ways to Know” [Governing]. “there are a couple things to watch to know whether a downturn is coming. One is Medicaid spending, which tends to spike when the economy goes sour. That indicator will be a little harder to gauge in states that have expanded Medicaid, but it’s still a “canary in the coal mine” for states that haven’t, says White. The other telltale sign is a dramatic increase in unemployment claims. Both of these areas so far appear normal.”

Honey for the Bears: “30 November 2018 ECRI’s WLI Growth Rate Index Modestly Slips Further Into Contraction” [Econintersect]. “The current forecast is a slight economic contraction six months from today.” • Best get it out of the way in 2019, eh?


“Pipeline Company Trespassed, but Expropriation Is OK, Judge Rules” [Courthouse News]. “Bayou Bridge Pipeline trespassed on private land in the Atchafalaya Basin when it laid a pipeline without permission, a judge ruled Thursday, but he granted each of three property owners only $150 in damages and approved Bayou Bridge’s request to expropriate the land. Thursday’s order from Judge Keith Comeaux of the 16th District Court in St. Martin Parish says Energy Transfer Partners offered the property owners $75 each for access to their land but they turned it down. Louisiana is one of the few states where oil and gas companies can expropriate land if their project is for public benefit.” • I’d say not cooking the Earth is a public benefit but what do I know?

“Climate fears are real, so oilsands must close” [The Star]. “[T]he Canadian and Albertan governments are trying to salvage an industry that is one of this country’s largest emitters of the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. [But] climate change is not simply another blip in federal-provincial relations that can be resolved by, say, changing the equalization formula. If the scientific consensus is correct, it is a crisis on par with worldwide nuclear war. While the oilsands are responsible for only 10 per cent of Canada’s carbon emissions, they remain one of the country’s biggest single-point sources of greenhouse gases and a potent symbol of what humankind is doing wrong. Economically, the oilsands are doomed. In a world awash with cheap shale oil [thanks, Obama!], new tarsands projects are ultimately too expensive to develop — even if the $4.5-billion Trans Mountain pipeline that Ottawa bought to deliver Alberta bitumen to the Pacific coast goes ahead.”


“Stirring the Waters: Investigating why many in Appalachia lack reliable, clean water” [Lexington Herald-Leader]. “For many families in Eastern Kentucky and Southern West Virginia, the absence of clean, reliable drinking water has become part of daily life. They buy bottled water rather than drink what comes out of their taps. They collect rainwater in buckets, fearing there won’t be any running water at all the next day. They drive to natural springs on the sides of highways and backroads to fill up jugs for cooking and making coffee.” • This is Third World stuff, especially the big water jugs to capture rainwater. This is a series; excellent reporting from the Herald-Leader. (Why don’t these losers just move? If they were in a Blue City, they could get a degree in Grievance Studies or help start the next foreclosure crisis.)

Class Warfare

“Can The Working Class Speak?” [Current Affairs]. “Why would I want to talk to anyone about this? Why would they want to listen? Even the other guys on the line don’t want to talk about it. No one here wants to think of this as their life. It’s just something you have to wade through. Best not to look at it too closely, or think about it for too long.” • Well worth a read.

“ALEC Outlines 2019 Agenda to Erode Union Power” [Governing]. “ALEC’s ‘Public Employee Rights and Authorization Act,’ for instance, would codify the Janus decision at the state level…. More than half the states already have similar laws. Under the “Union Recertification Act,” what ALEC calls ‘worker voting rights,’ workers in unions would have to vote every couple of years on whether they want to continue with their current union representation…. Similar laws have already passed in Florida, Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin, according to F. Vincent Vernuccio, a senior fellow at the conservative Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Then there are ‘workers’ choice’ bills, the ‘Public Employee Choice Act’ and the ‘Comprehensive Public Employee Freedom Act,’ which would allow government workers to opt out of union representation and represent themselves in negotiations with their employer. These type of bills have yet to be passed anywhere, though they’ve been introduced in states like Illinois, Michigan, Missouri and Pennsylvania, says Vernuccio.”

News of the Wired

“Data Mining Twitter Using R: A guide for the Very Online” [Data for Progress]. Using Eddie Scarry’s legendary “that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles” tweet as a test case; it looks like fun, and not too hard!

* * *

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):

Iris japonica.

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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. lambert strether

      From the article:

      As with the leaderless Occupy movement in the U.S. in 2011, major union confederations haven’t backed France’s movement, but local unions have turned out members and their sympathizers to the yellow vest protests.

  1. Carey

    If the Haberman twit-twit is indicative, then our elites™ really do have no clue… should be interesting. Gilets Jaunes are just the beginning, in my opinion.

  2. Wukchumni

    It’s true, it’s true, the Senate has made it clear
    The climate in DC isn’t perfect all the year

    A law was made a distant moon ago here
    July and August can be too hot
    And there’s a 4 year limit to the show here for Kamala

    Senate is forbidden till December
    And exits not having done a lot
    By order, Senate lingers through November for Kamala

    Kamala: Camelot?
    I know it sounds a bit bizarre
    But for Kamala: Camelot
    That’s how conditions are

    Her reign may never fall till after election
    By November eight, when the possibility must disappear
    In short, there’s simply not a more congenial spot
    For happily ever after in than here for Kamala

    Kamala: Camelot
    I know it gives a person pause
    But in Camelot: Kamala?
    Those are the legal laws

    The show may never be thrust upon her spot
    By nine of November, an answer must appear
    In short, there’s simply not a more congenial slot
    For happily ever after in than here for Kamala!


    1. Carey

      Remember her “we see you” [little people] bit? I won’t forget that Macron-level line.

      Long guillotines

    2. John Wright

      If by “4 year limit to the show”, you mean Kamala has a 4 year term, you are understating the length of time she will be able to do damage.

      US Senators have 6 year terms.

  3. Darthbobber

    Comedy club applause: Upper West Side not a Sanders stronghold? Upper left side in their own minds, until you get to economics, that is.

    1. Roquentin

      Manhattan is a very strange place. The longer I’m away from it, the more bizarre it seems to me. I tell people that Hillary is close to the candidate of Manhattan’s political sensibilities, but the purest distillation of the sort of bourgeois liberalism is none other than Mayor Mike. Bloomberg is the representation of their collective political ambitions. I can’t say I miss it very much. It’s hard to explain to people that Manhattan has arguably the highest concentration of wealth of any geographic location in the US, but somehow still presents itself as the pinnacle of liberal and progressive politics. I think Conde Nast publications are also a good window into Manhattan’s collective psyche. Liberal editorials sandwiched between ads for $3,000 dresses and luxury vacations only the very wealthy could ever hope to afford. No one represents this comically contradictory set of politics better than Bloomberg. It’s no wonder he was mayor for 12 years.

      Maybe it’s not just Manhattan, if you swap out Wall Street for Silicon Valley you have San Francisco. Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves is “Why, when liberals claim to be the party of the poor and working people, are their strongholds such bastions of economic inequality and concentration of capital?” Wouldn’t that seem to indicate, if you’ve read Marx even a little bit, that this sort of politics is part and parcel of precisely these economic conditions?

      1. Darius

        Liberals no longer claim to speak for the less fortunate. They now conceive of the marginalized purely in terms of identity, based on skin color, sexual orientation, or other essentialist marker.

        It’s no longer about improving things for the unfortunate but preserving their own status and virtue signaling.

        1. noonespecial

          The Current Affairs article “Can The Working Class Speak?” strikes that chord. People on the edges just doing as much as possible to keep their heads above water.

          Although gentrification is doing its thing in parts of southern Bronx, the propertied class of NYC’s UWS (70th Street – 86th, especially along West End Avenue) the South Bronx might as well be far off Camden, NJ. Only visible when the papers or a news report shines a light, such as a police raid looking for drugs/gang members.

  4. Quentin

    Lambert: the subjunctive? Yes it exists and is dead in the US, if not a contradiction. You know that just as well as anyone. Perhaps even in the Mother Country too.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Fascinating that there’s “paradigm leveling” between the factual and the counterfactual, but that’s kinda where we are, isn’t it?

      That said, I think you’re missing the class angle:

      Like the distinction between “who” and “whom,” the subjunctive can sound a little fussy in spoken English, so its increasing disuse is understandable. However, in written English, its presence is still desirable, particularly in scientific and technical writing.

      Correct use of the subjunctive, IOW, is something I would expect from the 10% who form the Democrat base, regardless of what’s happening in the broader culture.

      > You know that just as well as anyone

      Did I know that, and were the subjunctive dead, I would not have written what I did.

  5. Adam1

    “there are a couple things to watch to know whether a downturn is coming… medicaid spending… increase in unemployment claims”

    Umm… coming implies not yet here. Rising medicaid spending and rising unemployment claims are lagging indicators. They show up when the downturn has already arrived and in full swing.

    1. jrs

      I don’t think unemployment will increase to the full extent of how bad things are. Too many Uber drivers and the like out there that won’t get unemployment even when they lose their income. So it will be an indicator but a muffled indicator.

  6. Artanis Niggle

    Thing is, the sign has a grammatical error. Since Hillary was not elected President (except in the minds of some of her more perfervid fans), we have a situation contrary to fact, and so accurate use of the subjunctive calls for the use of “were”: “If Hillary were President….” The sign is, in fact, a miniature representation of the 2016 election: Members of the professional class, confident in their intellectual and above all moral superiority, but in fact no better than they should be, and making simple, unforced errors based on skills that they, by their own estimation, had mastered. Butchering the subjunctive is the grammatical equivalent of not visiting Wisconsin. Thus is legitimacy lost — the real subtext of the 2016 election. Did the professional class regain its legitimacy in the “Blue Wave” of 2018? See below, at “Paygo.” I would argue no.

    Wow. I feel a lot dumber for reading this sentence.

    1. Synoia

      Try Gibbons “Decline and Fall,” once you have mastered that the sentence above become trivial.

      1. Conrad

        It took me well over a decade to finish that. An excellent book to read to sleep though. Gibbon’s enormous 18th century sentences just lulled me off every time.

        And you’ll end up knowing more about abstruse theological controversies than you ever thought possible.

        1. Unna

          But those “theological controversies” were important to know about because those controversies were what the imperial population was putting so much of its energy (and occasional violence) into and therefore so was the Roman government which sought to control and direct those controversies for its own advantage.

          Today, in a more enlightened age, our theological disputes, with real life consequences for many, concern which pronoun might be the correct one to use, which foreign supernatural demon might be influencing our politics (without recourse to empirical evidence), or which political speaker’s presence, judged the embodiement of the Evil One, should be met with righteous violence.

          The parallel would be, how much political energy is being put into these controversies to the disregard of issues like clean water in Flint, Trump’s desire to pull out of the INF, defense spending, Congressional War making power, and so on. Where’s Antifa when you need them in Flint? Antifa, so far as I know, is not there because Flint is not a theological controversy.

          1. ambrit

            Actually, I’d posit that the Flint water ‘crisis’ is a teleological controversy.
            Antifa should be there not just to advance a segment of the population’s best interests, but the entire population’s best interests.
            To the extent that one can argue that ‘Theology’ is a human construct, Flint, being a human condition, is entirely amenable to inclusion under the rubric, ‘God’s Work.’
            Q.E.D. (Quantitative Easing Dominates)

            1. Unna

              ***Flint water ‘crisis’ is a teleological controversy.***

              That’s an interesting way of looking at it. I completely agree. In the end, what is done in Flint is a stand in for what will, or will not, be done everywhere else. Flint is something I can’t get my head around. Sure, I know sort of who did what and and what led to the poisoning of the water. But how this situation can be allowed to persist in a large city year after year, that I don’t understand.

              Trump himself could have made good on this “big league” with some federally borrowed money and maybe won enough of the African American vote to have won in November. If I can think of it, certainly his people could have thought of it. And the Dems from Obama on have generally been silent. Why? What’s the 30,000 foot explanation of this?

              1. ambrit

                One caveat: I am well known as a Cynic where it comes to politics and power relations.
                That said, I view this as an artifact of the present day divide between the ‘street’ level view and 30,000 foot view. (I’m going to ramble somewhat here; please accept my apologies in advance.)
                The teleological connection is the divergence between the end interests of the ‘Wealthy’ (TM) and the ‘Rest Of Us’ (TM.) Who the political policies serve is paramount here. ‘Cui bono’ is the common version of this.
                As has been amply documented here, the present day Democrat Party nomenklatura has fallen into the trap of hewing to the dictates of the Donor Class. Previously, as in after the Rooseveltian ‘Heresy,’ the Democrat Party ostensibly answered to the ‘People.’ The ‘People’ referred to were, and perhaps still are, a political theological class; a semi divine class of beings whose interests needs must be propitiated to maintain peace and stability in the Realm of Democracy. The Class of the People have interests different from and often in conflict with the interests of the Donor Class. Up until the advent of the Democratic Leadership Council, back in 1985, the Democrat Party could be argued to have been a champion of the ‘Rights of Man.’ After the DLC gained traction with Bill Clinton’s election, the focus shifted strongly to favour ‘The Rights of The Man.’ In this regard, the Democrat Party became nearly indistinguishable from the Republican Party in it’s championing of what the Marxists would call “The Accumulation of Wealth.” Said accumulation entails a diminishment of the commonweal. This position is based on the false assertion that political economics is a zero sum game. Basically, a sovereign government is not a household. Since the putatively preferred social arrangement for today’s elitists is the Feudal Household, the political deception the reactionaries use makes sense, from their point of view. A Household is constrained, and thus, more easily restrained and controlled. Controlled to whose ends is paramount in this equation.
                Thus, Flint stands in as the Poster Child for financialization and it’s basic strategy of deindustrialization and atomization of the American society. The ‘Masters of Finance’ cannot see past their own bottom lines. So, resources aren’t just denied to the ‘lower orders’ of the cast off, as in Flint, but the very idea of there being an adequate pool of resources for some basic maintenance of the Public Good is denied.
                How much is too much? That depends today on who is getting what. Politics.
                Here endeth ye first rant.
                Be of good cheer.

              2. Lambert Strether Post author

                > But how this situation can be allowed to persist in a large city year after year, that I don’t understand.

                The elite thinks most of the continental United States is a tear-down; see under The Jackpot. And they’re expecting to personally profit by picking the bones clean.

  7. JohnnyGL


    I hadn’t noticed this in Bernie’s public appearances, but he’s actually doing something very tricky around what sounds like Russia-gate talking points, at first.

    He’s actually suggested that Trump has corrupt financial dealings with various dictators and he specifically names Russia AND Saudi Arabia. He did NOT say Russia interfered/hacked/meddled in our elections or attacked our democracy.

    I’m not sure if this is a recent shift or if he’s been doing it for awhile. Anyone else have thoughts? Check right at the 3:30 mark.

      1. Isotope_C14

        At the people’s summit he was roundly booed only once in his speech, and that was when he suggested “Russia” hacked the election.

        He knows it is bs, but the HRC-> sycophants have to hear it to make their delusion true, now that is some ten dimensional chess to link SA to Russia. Arguably brilliant.

        Perhaps neera tanden will explain to us how SA is a champion of women’s rights, and Bernie hates women?

        1. ambrit

          I hate computers! The D—-d Things, (see Ambrose Bierce,) are so literal minded!
          Anyway, Neera Tanden has mistressed the fine art of ‘Political Hypothecation.’
          The Kingdom has maintained outposts in such far flung spots as Little Rock and Haarlem. Thus, it should come as no surprise when the rights of ‘some women’ anywhere in the world, take precedence over the rights of ‘other women.’ The past performance of a certain ‘Harpy in Chief’ should prove informative here. She has demonstrated that the rights of Bill’s ‘other women’ were entirely and completely subservient to the rights of a certain ‘Woman.’
          As for Bernie’s relationship with his wife, Jane; it must be the essence of gall, and an exquisite political purgative, for the True Believers of the DNC to watch a rival politico get along with and painlessly concede power to a spouse.
          I believe that it has been Hillary’s basic character flaw that she has never been able to accept that she is the American analogue of Mr. Maggie Thatcher.

    1. anon in so cal

      Sadly, a new strain of propaganda is attempting to link Putin and the KSA’s MBS, as two cozy dictators.

      A recent tweet from a US “journalist” had a photo of Putin smiling at MBS at the G-20, combined with another photo of Hitler giving the Nazi salute.

      So, perhaps Bernie is repeating this new strain?

  8. Wukchumni

    If being successful in politics only relates to how much money you can gin up, that’s a pissed poor indicator.

    1. ambrit

      If “how much money you can gin up” is the defining characteristic of ‘Moderne’ politics, then pissing on the poor is a given.
      The Paleo Neo Liberals didn’t call it “Trickle Down” for nothing!

  9. SerenityNow

    Regarding Kamala Harris–I am amazed that things like tax credits and rebates are considered a viable way of reducing housing and rent costs. What if they just enabled–not even encouraged–the production of more duplexes, triplexes, and small apartment buildings? I suspect the answer is because that would challenge the regime of the homeownership casino, which always seems to have terrific “bipartisan” support. Most recently this can be observed in fights to preserve suburbia in Vancouver and Minneapolis . In the latter city, one group sought to prevent allowing infill development based on environmental grounds:

    The group said the city’s plan “is likely to cause the pollution, impairment, or destruction of the air, water, land or other natural resources located within the state,” according to the lawsuit.

    The coalition — Smart Growth Minneapolis, the Audubon Chapter of Minneapolis and Minnesota Citizens for the Protection of Migratory Birds — said it hired Sunde Engineering, which conducted an environmental evaluation of the 2040 Comprehensive Plan that will guide the city’s development for the next 20 years.

    I guess they don’t see suburban sprawl as having any of those effects? Ultimately a judge rejected the claim and I believe one of the councils voted favorably on the Comprehensive Plan today.

    My apologies if this comment is redundant, I may have posted twice…

  10. clarky90

    Re; “Gaia”

    The gastronomic nuances of the future. Bon Appétit!

    Humans can taste pesticides, French wine study shows


    “The study examined 16 pairs of organic and non-organic wines produced in seven French regions and one Italian region. The same varieties of grapes were grown both organically and conventionally (with agrochemicals) on the same soils in neighbouring vineyards, in the same climate and in the same year.

    The resulting wines were tested for over 250 pesticides. Out of the organic wines, only one bottle was found to contain traces of pesticides. In the non-organic wines, in contrast, 4686 ppb of different pesticides were detected in total, with a mean of 293 ± 270 [0-1144] ppb reached by six pesticides – mostly fungicides and glyphosate-based herbicides.

    The 195 blinded taste tests were then carried out with 71 different people on different days.

    The pesticides alone or in mixtures were also diluted in water at the levels present in the wines. At least one pesticide mixture was identified as such because it was judged to taste different from water in blind tests: this held true in 85% of cases in which answers were offered by the professionals (147), and 58% recognized all of the waters that contained the pesticides….

    ….The professionals were asked to describe the taste of the pesticides that they were able to identify as being present. The taste of glyphosate, a herbicide often used in vineyards, was described as “strong dryness, acid, acrid, limestone”. The glyphosate-based formulation Roundup was described as tasting of “putrefied wood, drying, bitterness”.

  11. DonCoyote

    Pay-Go is not inconsistent with the Dem’s real agenda:

    Green New Deal: Being pushed by whiny millennial representatives who expect to just be handed a livable planet in the year 2060.

    Healthcare: Plan to introduce a broadly popular Medicare for all bill to slowly water down into a series of giveaways to big pharma.

    Trump: Still don’t like the guy!

    Grandstanding To Go Viral On Social Media: Members will be limited to one impassioned speech with viral video potential per month.

    Corruption: Committed to looking like they’re tackling political corruption.

    Criticizing Nancy Pelosi: Expected to be a top priority until approximately 10 years after Pelosi dies.

    Immigration: Following Senator Chuck Schumer’s lead in demanding that a border wall they regard as useless, unnecessary, and morally bankrupt receives no more than $1.6 billion in funding.

    Infrastructure: If there’s one thing they can agree with Republicans on, it’s that America’s crumbling bridges and roads are the perfect political bargaining chip.

    Election Reform: Party leadership is already doggedly working to ensure that the wave of true progressives taking office in January never happens again.

  12. Seth Miller

    Better correction: If Hillary would have been president, you’d have been brunch by now.

    Fixed it for ya.

    1. Pat

      Unfortunately for most of the people who might have carried a sign like this, that would not be true. They would still be in the same position they are now without the rage and indignation because it is not Hillary. And in the exactly the same position if she had been elected.

      However the coming crash, which neither of them would do diddly to stop, will probably come for them. Being ignorant and uninformed, they will just blame Trump – rather than heaping blame on him AND all the corrupt bastards that have been enabling and encouraging this before him, some of which include both Clintons, both Bushes, and Obama and all their top aides and appointees.

    2. edmondo

      I have a more accurate correction:

      If Hillary would have been president, the GOP would have veto-proof majorities in both chambers of Congress this January and you wouldn’t have to worry about brunch as much as how the Republicans outlawed abortion, absentee voting and made her the second President Clinton to get impeached.

      Kinda long for a sign but a hell of a lot more accurate.

  13. allan

    Congress may have accidentally freed nearly all banks from the Volcker Rule [Yahoo News]

    For some definition of “accidentally”.
    You pay white-shoe firm rates to get revolving door lawyers who know DeMorgan’s Laws.

    … The summary appears to communicate that a bank needs to meet both standards in order to get the exemption, but some larger banks are focused on a number of double negatives in the fully amended text that could cloud its interpretation.

    Doug Landy, a partner at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy who formerly worked as a lawyer at the New York Fed, told Yahoo Finance that the negatives could be interpreted as flipping the “and” in the statute to an “or.”

    Under the “or” interpretation, an institution would in theory only need to meet one of those standards to get an exemption, meaning that banks above $10 billion could still be freed from the regulation as long as their trading assets and liabilities are below 5% of their total assets. …

    Three sources confirmed to Yahoo Finance that a former bank regulator — Keith Noreika, appointed by the Trump administration to serve as acting Comptroller of the Currency from May to November 2017 — is now advising banks to look into the “or” interpretation and floating the idea of taking the issue to court.

    Noreika, now a bank attorney at Simpson Thacher, did not respond to requests for comment. …

    But, as SCOTUS has decreed, quid pro quo or it didn’t happen.

  14. JCC

    The attacks on Elizabeth Bruenig’s twitter feed were interesting. Many accused her of being part of a coordinated “Berner’s” attack of Beto.

    People are generally a little wacky, but those supporters of the Clinton/Obama contingent of the Dem Party take it to much higher level and facts never seem to get in the way of how high they can go on the wacky scale. Competing too hard with Trump supporters is dangerous to one’s mental health.

    1. Carey

      It’s been said before, but remember the “reality-based community”?

      Revanchist Dems in danger of collective spinal injury due to all that
      twisting and turning…

    2. Darthbobber

      Yes. They see it as highly suspicious that their own campaign to push a Beto boomlet generated enough publicity that those who don’t much care for the idea are now also offering opinions. As a couple of people mentioned in the lunatic thread, you might as well see a coordinated conspiracy of sportswriters when they all start offering Superbowl opinions at Superbowl time.

      The land of propaganda is built on unanimity.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Either its the early stage of the rollout, or Beta is the bottom of the barrel as its getting to be time.

      2. chuck roast

        I have never heard a peep out of Bepo (it is a cool name), but I am reminded of Fibbin’ Hibbin’s Anthropology 101 class where he informed the malleable young minds that ontology recapitulates philology. A fun way of saying that BETO appears to have informed his potential supporters that he is much like his near predecessors…an empty vessel that can be filled with their particular interests. He can look good flogging their nonsense while at the same time being whatever-you-want-him-to-be.

        Evolution is indeed a tolerably slow thing.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > any accused her of being part of a coordinated “Berner’s” attack of Beto.

      Looked to me like a spontaneous reaction to a pro-Beto media campaign + bizarrely intense Betomania (“He makes my calves cramp”). I did follow it on the twitter, and didn’t see the typical signs of a coordinated campaign, identical talking points and tactics. Note that Chief Liberal Democrat Enforcer Neera Tanden opened the firing and licensed the interpretation by going after David Sirota personally. Funny, I thought only Orange-Haired Demons did such things.

  15. Geo

    Not seeing any local social-justice volunteers like herself represented…
    “I thought progressive politics was about lifting the voices of common people,” Gillom says.

    I may be a bit “triggered” by this but reactions like this one are how the progressive movement shoots itself in the foot. Not every group can have a featured voice at every event. Not every politician will address each of our own primary concerns in a way we would like. And not every ally is going to be your advocate.

    Personally, there are many causes I support but as a hetero-white male my support for them is divided and I’m drawn to ones I feel are “umbrella” causes like economic disparity. If I were black my assumption is I would be more focused on causes that address racial disparities more directly than being merely an ally of those causes. If I were gay I would be dedicated to LQBTQ causes.

    That said, I’ve marched for gay marriage rights, anti-war protests, and BLM. I’ve done activism for women’s rights and donated to pro-choice orgs. When I hire I hire multi-cultural people – not because of that but because they are often the best for the job – but I do make an effort to consider all candidates equally. My activism is diluted by the diversity of causes so I know I’m not a strong advocate and merely a mildly useful ally.

    At the end of the day I go home to my white-hetero male life (broke and in debt, but still with the privileges that come with my identity status) whereas those whose identities are directly tied to those many causes live in those struggles. Economic disparity does impact me directly though so it’s a cause that I do put more time and effort into.

    It is a privilege that I can be an ally to those many causes while their success or failure don’t have direct material impact on me (beyond my compassion for the many friends and loved ones who are directly impacted by them) whereas activists like the one quoted are not so fortunate and her cause is instrumental to her life.

    But, while it’s good to continue speaking up and putting pressure on those with power and platforms to represent important causes and elevate new voices, it’s also important to look at their whole body of work and not use one or two events as a reason to dismiss their stated support for your activism. Sanders is addressing a wide range of systemic issues and does give voice to a diverse range of people sometimes and their causes even more. But, not all the time because that’s not his primary focus.

    How many voices of local causes are the Clintons including on their big concert tour? How many local voices is Michelle Obama including on her book tour? What about Barack’s speaking engagements? When was the last time Shumer or Pelosi had a townhall with local activists? Is the reason for this activist’s speaking out because she knows Sanders will listen and has given up on the establishment? If so, then that alone is a reason to not try and tarnish the event but to reach out in a constructive way.

    There is far too much in-fighting between causes. Too many trying to tear down instead of build up.

    1. JBird4049

      There is far too much in-fighting between causes. Too many trying to tear down instead of build up.

      Much of the conflict is cultivated, and not just by liberals or leftists, but by Republicans too; using identity politics, purity policing, and blame games cracks people into blocks of useful idiots and prevents people into coalescing into groups of effective reformers.

      1. Geo

        Very true and well put. The infighting is a great way to distract us from the bigger problems that we should be able to focus on (the ones Sanders is so good at sticking to).

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I can be an ally

      Not to argue with your actions, at all, but I don’t accept the concept “ally” because it reifies the essentialism at the heart of identity politics.

      Political entities like the United States and the United Kingdom are allies, being sovereigns. “Women”,”black people,” “white people” are not political entities any more than generations are. Hence, they cannot be allies.

      The ridiculousness and tendentiousness of these concepts is shown by the consistent use of “white working class” only, as if there were no black working class people, women working class people, etc. Of course, if you’re an essentialist, this all makes perfect sense, because you can only have one personal essence: “Black” over-rides working class (and helpfully erases any politics based on the working class as a “diverse” whole). But ascriptive identities like race and gender are not essences; see Adolph Reed. And neither ascriptive nor essentialist identity provide a straight-forward political readout, as we see from Obama (and will see from Harris, Booker, Sanders, etc.) You’d think liberals would have seen this by now, but they have so bought into the idea that demographics will bring power to them without their having to change that they can’t see it.

  16. Darthbobber

    The vtdigger piece on the Sanders Institute gathering. Every now and then vtdigger makes a valid point, but this sort of thing is more the norm.

    Was this event organized for the purpose of doing local organizing? No. So why feign disappointment that it didn’t do that?

    And note the framing of this as a “diversity” problem because it failed to give these specific Vermonter an international stage. (And BTW, what does being given a few minutes on such a stage actually do to facilitate local organizing efforts? That it can pad resumes and facilitate personal recognition for the favored locals I don’t dispute.)

    So the answer to the contrived “diversity problem” is apparently just to give these specific spokes some facetime on stage, whether this helps to accomplish the goals of the conference or not?

    And what kind of local organizing is reliant on a Senator or a national organization to do its local organizing work for it?

    To see a lack of local activists at an event whose only “local” focus is that it’s hosted there as indicative of anything except a non-local focus is a bit much, to say nothing of spinning it into “institutional oppression”, as the one letter does.

    “We hope that we are missing something… ” You are. And not accidentally, one suspects.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      See Adolph Reed, “The Trouble With Uplift.” Grab a cup of coffee, and read the whole thing. It’s very good:

      The gatekeeping question has, for more than a century, focused on who speaks for black Americans and determines the “black agenda.” And the status of black leader, spokesperson, or “voice” has always been a direct function of contested class prerogative, dating back a century and more to Booker T. Washington, W. E. B. Du Bois, Ida B. Wells, and Anna Julia Cooper. Specifically, the gatekeeping function is the obsession of the professional-managerial strata who pursue what Warren has described as “managerial authority over the nation’s Negro problem.” How do “black leaders” become recognized? The answer is the same now as for Washington in the 1890s; recognition as a legitimate black leader, or “voice,” requires ratification by elite opinion-shaping institutions and individuals.

      That seems to me to be what’s going on here. Status angst from the “voices.” (Reed is a frustrating writer because his analysis is brilliant but he never quite jams the dagger home with naming strategies a humble blogger can use. “Voices” and “black leaders” are both terrible because to convey Reed’s real message they both need shudder quotes, indicating they are no such thing — see, e.g., Deray; or Obama — and quotes are the first thing to be lost in translation. “Race-firsters” is too inflammatory, “policy entrepreneur” isn’t right, etc. etc. I wish Reed’s polemics worked all the way to the word level….)

  17. Tom Doak

    The “if they work a full time job” loophole is especially galling since one of the main effects of the ACA has been to encourage employers to limit as many workers as possible to <30 hours per week so they aren't responsible for providing health coverage.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Indeed – galling and out-of-touch! as more and more workers
      have become fodder for the exploitative ‘gig’ economy

      Hope she gets busted for this nonsense

    2. jrs

      and even “what about part-time and precarious workers” is discriminatory as well. What about THE UNEMPLOYED? They aren’t necessarily unemployed because they want to be, sometimes they just can’t find work, even in our so called “good economy” (if you believe that I have a bridge to sell you complete with homeless people under it)

  18. freedomny

    Just a comment on all these “grassroots” progessives pacs/campaigns, etc.

    In my mind they’re becoming a bit worrisome. As if certain Dem candidates are co-opting messages with no intention of actually implementing those message policies….or progressive organizations who proclaim they want to transform the Dem party but may just want to co-opt the money (especially consultant money) associated with the Dem Party. Take Justice Democrats. They took in 2,464,570 and spent 2,341,856 but only 48,166 actually went to the candidates they supported. AOC got 5K. A whooping 1.2 million went to consulting/strategy fees in addition to the almost 900K for salaries and benefits. Why does it seem that the business model/methodology is the same and only the actors have changed? I mean, if you have to pay over 1 million in consultant fees while only giving 48K to the candidates – what is it; you don’t know what you’re doing or you don’t care and are just in it for the money? Whatever it is, it is not progressive. Just more of the same.

    1. Carey

      Are those accurate figures for the Justice Democrats’ spending? If so, wow; my feeling about them was correct, and glad I didn’t give them much money, deciding to give directly to a few candidates instead, post-Sanders 2016.

    2. GramSci

      I was initially scandalized, but freedomny should at least visit the Justice Democrats’ website before accusing them of perfidy. The following is from their FAQ. Direct contribution to candidates’ campaigns is not one of their priorities, so the OpenSecrets accounting is irrelevant/misleading.

      What type of organization is Justice Democrats?

      Justice Democrats is a federal political action committee. We are required to be a PAC to accept donations and spend money toward electing federal candidates. PACs have a maximum contribution limit of $5,000 and must report all donations and expenditures.

      This is not a SuperPAC, but a plain old regular PAC. You can learn more about PACs at fec.gov.

      The PAC uses donation money to hire staff that recruits and trains candidates, runs all Justice Democrats social media, send e-mails to the Justice Democrats e-mail list, manages the Justice Democrats website, answers all incoming e-mails to our help desk, create videos and other design assets that are used to promote Justice Democrats policies and candidates, handle inbound and outbound press communications, and also any other work involved with promoting Justice Democrats candidates as well as Justice Democrats issues.

      In addition to promoting candidates, Justice Democrats PAC also promotes issues. For example, we worked with the National Nurses United to pressure over 45 Democrats to co-sponsor Medicare for All in the House, getting H.R. 676 up to 121 co-sponsors — the most it has ever received.

    3. GramSci

      Per my pending comment, Justice Democrats appears to perform a critical function, and I now regret not having contributed to them. An institutional advantage of conservative forces are the legions of professional workers whom bosses can seduce or conscript to serve as lobbyists, staff election campaigns, and serve as legislative aides to elected officials.

      The unions and public universities used to somewhat compensate for this “conservative” advantage, but they have been hollowed out.

      1. freedomny

        I’m sorry – but to say that Justice Democrats performs a critical function is a joke. All of the Justice Democrat Candidates that won actually didn’t need JD to win. They WOULD HAVE WON WITHOUT THE ORGANIZATION simply because they were great candidates. So, if as an organization you say you recruit, train, promote etc…when you are really paying most of your expenditures to consultants and salaries – you are no better than the Democrat Party machine you say you are trying to transform…..

        It’s a grift. A progressive one, but still a grift.

  19. Wukchumni

    It’s on these slopes of the Rocky Mountains that the U.S. Forest Service would pioneer a novel approach to rid forests of the detritus from “epidemic levels” of beetle infestations that wiped out 38,000 square miles of trees — an area larger than the state of Maine. What’s left fuels historic wildfires, prevents wildlife and cattle from finding forage, threatens to topple onto campsites and slows regeneration of trees needed to sustain the beleaguered timber industry.

    The plan would allow construction of up to 600 miles of temporary roads to log, thin and set prescribed burns across 850,000 rugged acres from the Colorado-Wyoming border north across the Snowy and Sierra Madre ranges. The controversial 15-year project, a marked departure from the agency’s historical approach to restoration, is moving forward as President Trump blames the deadliest wildfire in California’s history on “gross mismanagement of the forests” — a widely disputed allegation.

    “It’s naive to think that all of the biomass that the Forest Service wants to remove, whether by burning, hauling or chipping it on site, is going to pay for its way,” said Andy Stahl, executive director of Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics. “Certainly, prescribed burning doesn’t pay its way — it’s expensive at around $100,000 per acre.”


    $100k an acre for prescribed burns? YIKES!

    NPS does it for $250 per acre here in Sequoia NP.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles”

    If only she had gone for a pantsuit.

  21. Wukchumni

    Heather Nauert cited D-Day as the height of U.S.-German relations. Now she’s headed to the U.N.


    …I’d guess she’d claim Hiroshima was the height of U.S.-Japan relations as well

    You keep wondering how much longer this charade can go on, and it seems to have no end in sight…

        1. Carolinian

          Samantha Power was no day at the park either. Where’s Adlai Stevenson when we need him?

          Once Khrushchev pounded the table with his shoe. Most recently our UN ambassador threatened to stab people with her spiked heels. There must be something in the water over there on the East River.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Khrushchev was just using a prop and knew what he was doing. A photograph revealed that while he was slamming that shoe down, you could see his feet which had shoes on both them. Must have had a good laugh afterwards about that stunt “Comrades, you should have see their shocked faces – it was hilarious!”

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Heather Nauert cited D-Day as the height of U.S.-German relations’

      Oh my god. That was her? I remember that coming out and having a good laugh. Might have even put in a comment with a link to the Omaha beach battle scene from “Saving Private Ryan” at the time.

      1. Wukchumni

        I was in Germany watching a dubbed version of Saving Private Ryan, and it was just plain weird to hear Tom Hanks speaking Deutsch, lemme tellya.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I was in Germany watching the “Big Red One” and when a scene came that showed the battle-hardened Wehrmacht soldier, the audience just laughed.

  22. Wukchumni

    It’s beginning to look a lot like he’ll be gone by Christmas
    Everybody knows
    Cohen looking at five to ten, it’s his lies once again
    With no candor and a sentence that could grow

    It’s beginning to look like we’ll have a new President by Christmas
    He’s getting pretty sore
    But the prettiest sight to see is his departure the last time
    Out the White House front door

    A pair of dangling bracelets and a perp walk
    Is the wish of Mueller’s den
    Witnesses that’ll talk the talk
    Is the hope of the Fed’s newfound friends
    And the country can hardly wait to start again

    It’s beginning to look a lot like a Christmas gift
    Everywhere knows
    He’ll be back in the Trump Hotel, leaving the White House as well
    He doesn’t appear to be of sound mind observing the show

    It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
    Soon the trials will start
    And the thing that will make ’em sing is the threat Mueller brings
    Despite the President’s claims, he ain’t that smart

  23. Duck1

    The discussion about US-Chinese trade leaves out a crucial aspect: Russia.

    Yes, Chinese were taking advantage but that didn’t matter to TPTB as long as US and European companies were making huge profits by employing cheap Chinese labor.

    It all started out as US splitting Russia and China in the 70’s by offering China a “peaceful rise”. When the US-led West won the Cold War in 1991, it was only a matter of time before China would be isolated. So Chinese business shenanigans were allowed to continue (though not ignored).

    But a strange thing happened. The Bear survived the winter and, though severely weakened, fought off the Western capitalist vultures. And, having been repeatedly kicked while it was down, the Bear found a new friend – the Chinese dragon.

    By 2013-14 the West realized their profound error. The initial reaction was to accelerate their actions against Russia. This included demonizing Putin and strange, twisted propaganda like claiming that Russia is merely an oil station while ALSO claiming that Putin wants to build a new Russian empire (together, these two claims make no sense).

    USA is NOT responding to China as an errant trade partner, they are responding to China as a military threat and strategic competitor. The Western strategic clusterf*ck that made this possible is so massive that no political leader will tell the people the embarrassing truth: we did this to ourselves. It threatens to upend the “World Order” that was assumed to be well established. Kissinger calls it a “very very grave” situation.

    Who will pay for the greed, hubris, and incompetence of the pampered elite? YOU and yours and the rest of the peasantry as long as they can be kept dumb and fearful.

    Interesting comment from Jackrabbit lifted from MOA.

  24. ewmayer

    o The Bezzle: “The Trashing of Tesla Autopilot by Euro NCAP” [AutoEvolution]. “…Tesla’s Autopilot is a great technology, perhaps the most advanced ADS on the market, but so miserably explained and advertised that is causing drivers to become over-confident it can handle even the trickiest of situations.” — The overconfidence begins with the manufacturer’s choice of name for the technology, “Autopilot”. Which makes Tesla PR’s strenuous assertions to the effect that “it’s not like an autopilot” seem rather disingenuous. If you wanted it to be used as a driver assist, you should’ve called it that. But of course what Tesla wants is all the marketing buzz of the name “Autopilot” without the responsibilities of supporting and encouraging the use model of same.

    o The Bezzle: “Ride-hail firm Lyft races to leave Uber behind in IPO chase” [Reuters] — I believe this sort of thing is known as “getting out while the getting-out is still good.”

  25. john c. halasz

    Re Sander’s Institute Conference in Burlington VT:

    I posted this on a local MR discussion list, where opinion was decidedly split:

    “John Halasz

    Dec 5, 2018, 7:02 PM (2 days ago)

    to Jude, Renée, Jay, Brian, Fred, Keith, Kit, Peter, Frank, Tom, Lindsey, Jan, John
    I’m kinda on Renee’s side on this issue. It’s a question of the pertinence of the letter of protest. This wasn’t a VT based conference, but a national gathering, which just happened to take place in Bernie’s adopted home town, (with the airport and all). And it was a star-studded cast, with limited audience participation. So are they complaining about not being “stars” in a media event, (however limited the validity of such an approach)?

    Yes, Bernie is handsie, overbearing, ego-centric and doesn’t take criticism well, if at all. But we all know his limitations. And no, he’s not actually a “socialist” by any stretch of the definition, but a milquetoast moderate social-democrat and certainly not any sort of revolutionary. (Even Corbyn falls far short of his mentor Tony Benn, and I’m just puzzled by his position of the Brexit clusterfuck) So where’s the beef here?

    As for Mark Hughes in particular, I’m not in the habit of taking orders from retired U.S. Army officers. And I’ve never seen him lift a finger in actual support of any other cross-secting issues, rather than standing on his single-issue soap box. But this is just too precious:

    “We also have a so-called progressive, neo-liberal white movement across this state that worships — and I say that with a capital W — Bernie Sanders… I expect there will be some pushback, especially from our so-called white neo-liberal progressives who are hugely protective of Bernie”.

    In the first place, Bernie, whatever his shortcomings, is not a neo-liberal. That’s actually a key salutary feature of his campaigning, to have broken the imposed mold of neo-liberal :consensus with a broad-based popular appeal, even if he doesn’t go nearly far enough or offer any clear analysis. And does Hughes actually think that there aren’t black neo-liberals? Does Hughes himself even have a clear understanding of what the term means? That just strikes me as a a self-serving smear job.

    Finally. POC is just about the most incoherent demographic category possible, even assuming one can ad hoc impose categories on descriptive statistics and hope to gain insight into the actual :”mechanisms” or means of social stratification. For that matter, “social justice” is a redundancy: where else could norms of justice be imposed or emerge or come to be elucidated outside the contexts of human societies, and if so, who could take responsibility for them?”

    john h.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “our so-called white”

      What does that even mean?

      > POC is just about the most incoherent demographic category possible

      Like “Asian.” Trust me on this: Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, Vietnamese, Thais, Cambodians, Laotians, Burmese, Indonesians, and Filipinos are not the same at all, and that’s before we get to the Indian subcontinent. If the Grievance Studies crowd wants to make real money, they should seek out “Asians” in Asia.

      Why, it’s almost like the elites are saying “All you colored people are exactly the same!”

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