2:00PM Water Cooler 1/30/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Beijing tells cadres to prepare for the worst amid uncertainties of its high-stakes trade war with the US” [South China Morning Post]. “At the session’s closing ceremony, which was attended by hundreds of top officials from across the country, Wang Huning, the party’s ideology guru and its fifth most powerful member, called on the cadres to fight “a tough battle” in controlling risks, according to state news agency Xinhua… His call echoed Xi’s address to Monday’s opening session when he told the cadres to be vigilant for any risks that could jeopardise China’s stability and reforms…. Xi specified “unpredictable international developments and a complicated and sensitive external environment”, a phrase invoked by Chinese leaders to refer to rising threats from China’s trade war with Washington.”


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


Howard Schulz (1):

Howard Schultz (2): “Howard Schultz Slams Sen. Kamala Harris’ Health Care Proposal: ‘That’s Not American'” [HuffPo]. “‘That’s not correct, that’s not American. What’s next? What industry are we going to abolish next? The coffee industry?’ asked Schultz on Tuesday during an appearance on ‘CBS This Morning.'” • A-a-a-n-d the walkbaclk, kinda. Somebody get this man some handlers.

Harris (1):

That was fast. A single news cycle from abolishing insurance companies to accepting whatever mush the liberal Democrats are cooking up in the lab. (Here’s the CNN story.)

Harris (2):

So, take one for the team on policy because of identity. Didn’t we try that with Obama?

Bloomberg: “Bloomberg tees off on potential 2020 rivals as he inches toward run” [Politico]. “Bloomberg, though, said he’ll focus on putting ideas behind the so-called ‘Green New Deal’ for environmental preservation and climate change that Democrats say should be a major plank in the party’s platform in 2020… ‘I’ve already begun working on putting together the details of what I believe a Green New Deal should look like,’ he said, declining to give specifics. ‘And whether I run for president or not, I will work to ensure that fighting climate change — and spurring economic development in areas that have depended on fossil fuels — is a top priority for the Democratic nominee.” • Beware of squillionaires with bright ideas. That said, I think Bloomberg is smarter than Schultz.

“Hillary Clinton is not running for president in 2020, former campaign chairman says” [Business Insider]. “‘She says she’s not running for president,” [said John Podesta, her former campaign chairman] during a CNN interview on Tuesday afternoon. ‘I take her at her word,’ he added. ‘She’s not running for president.'” • Of course, that’s not a Sherman statement. Would Clinton reluctantly accept the nomination after a brokered convention? More plausibly, would she attempt to be a broker?


“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows yesterday’s radicalism can become tomorrow’s common sense” [Guardian]. “In the 2000s ‘framing’ became an almost ubiquitous preoccupation for liberals, particularly in the wake of Don’t Think of an Elephant! the bestselling book by linguist George Lakoff. Lakoff noted the political significance of certain metaphorical fames. Conservatives adopt the “strict father” metaphor in which politicians act to protect the public from a dangerous world. If liberals inadvertently use terminology associated with that metaphor they undercut their own message. Instead, the argument goes, they must reframe the debate with rhetoric that metaphorically legitimates their own values.* In practice, throughout the 2000s, the obsession with framing reinforced a longstanding reliance on spin doctors, focus groups and soundbites, with many progressives convinced that reaching the public depended, first and foremost, on perfectly crafted zingers…. AOC embodies a quite different strategy. Yes, she’s articulate and charismatic, and she positively rules on social media. But the ‘reframing’ she performs relies on message more than the metaphor, resetting the terms of debate not through spin but by politics.” • Politics. What a concept. NOTE * See, e.g., Why Mommy is a Democrat. Don’t forget the brain bleach!

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Pelosi puts tight grip on talk of Trump impeachment” [The Hill]. “Yet in the weeks since taking the Speaker’s gavel, Pelosi has tamped down the impeachment talk in her ranks, according to multiple lawmakers, arguing it is important to allow special counsel Robert Mueller to wrap up his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to sway the 2016 election. The effort is paying dividends, winning over even the most liberal Trump critics in the caucus while dissuading new acolytes to the impeachment effort, which has struggled to find a foothold in the new Congress. ‘I’m in Speaker Pelosi’s camp. I think we have to see the report,’ said Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.” • It’s not a given that anybody will see the report, or even a redacted report.

“The Vice President’s Men” [Seymour Hersh, London Review of Books]. • I know we’ve linked to this already, but I only recently studied it, because out-takes from Hersh’s as yet unpublished Moby Dick Cheney aren’t my first priority. That said, this material caught my eye:

There was another view of [Vice President] Bush: the one held by the military men and civilian professionals who worked for him on national security issues. Unlike [President Reaga], he knew what was going on and how to get things done. For them, Reagan was ‘a dimwit’ who didn’t get it, or even try to get it. A former senior official of the Office of Management and Budget described the president to me as ‘lazy, just lazy’…. Bush was different: he got it. At his direction, a team of military operatives was set up that bypassed the national security establishment – including the CIA – and wasn’t answerable to congressional oversight. It was led by Vice-Admiral Arthur Moreau, a brilliant navy officer who would be known to those on the inside as ‘M’. Moreau’s small, off-the-record team, primarily made up of navy officers, was tasked with foreign operations deemed necessary by the vice president. The group’s link to Bush was indirect. There were two go-betweens, known for their closeness to the vice president and their ability to keep secrets. Congress, and the constitution, were at first no more of an obstacle to Bush and Moreau’s covert operations than the press. [Moreau] oversaw a secret team – operating in part out of the office of Daniel Murphy, Bush’s chief of staff – which quietly conducted at least 35 covert operations against drug trafficking, terrorism and, most important, perceived Soviet expansionism in more than twenty countries, including Peru, Honduras, Guatemala, Brazil, Argentina, Libya, Senegal, Chad, Algeria, Tunisia, the Congo, Kenya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, Hungary, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Georgia and Vietnam.

My framing: The intelligence community and Vice President Bush in essence staged a soft coup, bypassing Reagan. Fast forward to 2016. Given that the intelligence community has the operational capability to stage soft coup, is there reason to think that factions within that community would not do so again? Or perhaps have already done so? Perhaps this time all on their own, without Bush to provide institutional cover? I don’t mean to sound foily, but if you look at the institutional detail in in Hersh’s story, it’s pretty scary.

“‘Karma’: Inside the hack used by the UAE to break into iPhones of foes” [Reuters]. (The cellphone-friendly headline: “UAE USED CYBER SUPER-WEAPON TO SPY ON IPHONES OF FOES.” • I don’t doubt it, and it’s a very good thing that Neera Tanden decided not to take UAE money just four days ago. Unless she converted them to anonymous donors, of course.

“Democrats tap Georgia’s Stacey Abrams to deliver the response to Trump’s State of the Union address” [WaPo]. “Abrams is the first black woman to win a major party nomination for governor. While she fell short in her bid against Republican Brian Kemp, she received more votes than any Democrat who has run statewide in Georgia, prompting some to suggest she should be in the presidential or vice-presidential mix.” • And since Abrams went to work for Neera Tanden, all sorts of good things have been happening to her! For example–

“The Daily 202: Stacey Abrams isn’t the future of the Democratic Party. She’s the present.” [WaPo]. “THE BIG IDEA: Two long years ago, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi tapped former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear to deliver their party’s response to President Trump’s first State of the Union address. …. The shift from Steve to Stacey, with Joe Kennedy III in between, is a nod by party chieftains to what they perceive as growing grass-roots hunger for fresh faces of color who are young and female.” • In what sense is [x] identity1 [x] identity2 [x] identity2 a “BIG IDEA”? I wish Abrams had stayed back in Georgia and fought it out on election fraud and paper ballots. I can’t imagine a better way to get a national platform — the SOTU response ain’t it, Chuck — than that, and what a break way to break the liberal Democrat dam against expanding the base, too.

Stats Watch

GDP, Q4(a): “Though the government has reopened, Wednesday’s release of the first estimate for fourth-quarter GDP has been delayed with a new release date not yet set” [Econoday].

ADP Employment Report, January 2019: “ADP estimates that private payroll growth in Friday’s employment report for January will [be] higher-than-expected” [Econoday]. And: “well above the consensus forecast” [Calculated Risk]. And: “[O]n the high side of the tight range seen over this year – and remains on an improving employment growth trend line. Last month’s employment numbers were revised downward” [Econintersect]. “ADP employment has not been a good predictor of BLS non-farm private job growth.”

State Street Investor Confidence Index, January 2019: “Global institutional investors sharply accelerated their reduction of exposure to equities in January” [Econoday]. “State Street noted that the “warp speed” deterioration in confidence among professional managers continued through the third week in January even as stock prices partially recovered from Christmas-eve lows, and that while weaker Chinese data and rising recession risks in Europe are the focus, it is striking that confidence has deteriorated more in the U.S. than in other regions.”

Pending Home Sales Index, December 2018: “Mortgage rates may have started to come down in December but the move didn’t trigger a rush into the resale market” [Econoday]. And: “This was well below expectations for this index” [Econoday]. And: “The rolling averages remain in negative territory. The data is very noisy and must be averaged to make sense of the situation. The long term trends continue to be downward. Note that the downward trend of home sales began in mid 2015 – and… we see no upturn for home sales in 2019” [Econintersect].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of January 25, 2019: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell…continuing the prior week’s cooling” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Facebook has been paying teens $20 a month for total access to their phone activity” [The Verge]. “[Facebook] has been paying people ages 13 to 25 as much as [as much as????] $20 month in exchange for installing an app called Facebook Research on iOS or Android, which monitors their phone and web activity and sends it back to Facebook. The Research app requires that users install a custom root certificate, which gives Facebook the ability to see users’ private messages, emails, web searches, and browsing activity. It also asks users to take screenshots of their Amazon order history and send it back to Facebook.” • Facebook just keeps getting uglier and uglier and uglier. I wish Zuckerberg were running for President. Then we could get at him.

The Bezzle: “Earn Eighty Cents an Hour by Delivering Groceries with Instacart!” [Working Washington]. “Instacart is now confirming what workers have been saying since the change in pay structure: that the company is actually using customers’ tips to pay workers’ wages. When a customer tips up-front, it doesn’t mean extra money for the worker. Instacart just pays the worker less to make up for it.” • Sound legit. I can’t imagine why Uber hasn’t tried this.

Tech: “Google Takes Its First Steps Toward Killing the URL” [Wired]. “‘What we’re really talking about is changing the way site identity is presented,’ [Chrome usable security lead Emily Stark] told WIRED. “People should know easily what site they’re on, and they shouldn’t be confused into thinking they’re on another site. It shouldn’t take advanced knowledge of how the internet works to figure that out.'” •  Changing the way site identity is presented… What could go wrong?

Tech: “Apple’s Sales Drop in China Means $5 Billion in Lost Revenue” [Bloomberg]. “Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook has seen China as a key part of Apple’s sales and manufacturing strategy, with the company generating almost $52 billion in revenue from China and Hong Kong last fiscal year. But with China announcing its slowest economic growth since 2009, Apple said its sales fell 27 percent in the holiday quarter — representing almost $5 billion of lost revenue.” • Yikes. $5 billion is real money, even for Apple.

Tech: “A Tiny Screw Shows Why iPhones Won’t Be ‘Assembled in U.S.A.'” [New York Times]. “But when Apple began making the $3,000 computer in Austin, Tex., it struggled to find enough screws, according to three people who worked on the project and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. In China, Apple relied on factories that can produce vast quantities of custom screws on short notice. In Texas, where they say everything is bigger, it turned out the screw suppliers were not. Tests of new versions of the computer were hamstrung because a 20-employee machine shop that Apple’s manufacturing contractor was relying on could produce at most 1,000 screws a day. The screw shortage was one of several problems that postponed sales of the computer for months, the people who worked on the project said. By the time the computer was ready for mass production, Apple had ordered screws from China. The challenges in Texas illustrate problems that Apple would face if it tried to move a significant amount of manufacturing out of China. Apple has found that no country — and certainly not the United States — can match China’s combination of scale, skills, infrastructure and cost.” • An interesting read that ties in with today’s post on China. However, if these screws are the special screws that Apple uses on its laptops to prevent users from repairing their own machines because it takes a special screwdriver to open the case… Well. forty years of neoliberal deindustrialization and the ensuing hysteresis aren’t the only problems, are they?

Tech: “Security Things to Consider When Your Apartment Goes ‘Smart'” [tisiphone.net]. “If I were management companies’ security consultant (and I’m not), I’d issue them some firm advice – connect these hubs to a private and professionally secured network (preferably wired). Ensure they’re monitored for intrusions and administrative logins, and physically locked away from resident access. Finally, ensure the hub product and vendor network meet reasonable modern security standards. Unfortunately, there’s currently a mad dash to get these technologies deployed to rental properties by multiple management firms and smart home vendors, and making those changes costs more and takes more time. What we really see happening across several vendors is a highly competitive push to connect these hubs to residents’ personal routers, so that they they may have a connection to the internet and thusly to the vendor….. So now, we’re in a position where a person with some basic hacking knowledge and YouTube can spend some time gaining access to resident networks, then return days, weeks, or months later, to exploit and tamper with the connected smart hub(s). As an added benefit to a criminal, it’s pretty easy to walk by an apartment and guess based by signal strength which SSID it is broadcasting. This isn’t really high tech stuff – or high barrier.” • This is a terrific article, a must-read if you — or your rental management firm — is considering crapifying your life with the Internet of Things.

Honey for the Bears: “STR, TE downgrade US hotel forecast for 2019 and 2020” [Hotel News Notes]. “‘Late in 2018, [revenue per available room (RevPAR)] growth weakened as strong demand was offset by lower-than-expected [Average Daily Rate (ADR)] growth,’ said Amanda Hite, STR’s president and CEO. ‘Now demand is softening, and although supply growth is stabilized, we expect our first year without an increase in occupancy since 2009. Combine more pressure on occupancy levels with already subdued pricing confidence, concerns over labor costs, a cooling economic environment, and the negative sentiment brought on by the recent government shutdown, and you have a recipe for diminished RevPAR growth. Performance growth of any rate will still take the industry to another record-breaking level nationally, but plenty of individual markets and hotels are feeling the slowdown on their bottom line.'”

Honey for the Bears: “Recession Forecasts Are Blurred, But What You Should Do Is Clear” [Teresa Ghilarducci. Forbes]. “These conflicting opinions really mean nothing to ordinary people trying to plan their lives. With my economist hat on I say to investors that I don’t know when a recession might hit, but that you want to be in the position that you really don’t care when it happens.The smart money investors don’t time the market. The reason I say the obvious is because it’s really hard to do nothing. So do something, just don’t time the market…. I don’t want to be gloom and doom, but prepare for a recession by preparing not to react. Hunker down.” • Of course, if everybody hunkers down…

The Biosphere

“How frigid polar vortex blasts are connected to global warming” [phys.org]. “Splits in the stratospheric polar vortex do happen naturally, but should we expect to see them more often thanks to climate change and rapid Arctic warming? It is possible that these cold intrusions could become a more regular winter story. This is a hot research topic and is by no means settled, but a handful of studies offer compelling evidence that the stratospheric polar vortex is changing, and that this trend can explain bouts of unusually cold winter weather. Undoubtedly this new polar vortex attack will unleash fresh claims that global warming is a hoax. But this ridiculous notion can be quickly dispelled with a look at predicted temperature departures around the globe for early this week. The lobe of cold air over North America is far outweighed by areas elsewhere in the United States and worldwide that are warmer than normal.” • A useful tutorial.

“Flows in formation: The global-urban networks of climate change adaptation” [Urban Studies]. From the abstract: “This paper extends theories of relational geographies to explore the emerging conditions of urban adaptation in the context of climate change and globalised urban development. Focusing on the global links of Dutch water expertise, and tracing relationships within and between Rotterdam, New York, and Jakarta, it illustrates the formation of global-urban networks – the multiscalar, multilevel connections through which capital, knowledge, and influence flow. It probes the ways in which these networks emerge to mobilise ideas and influence across geographical scales and political boundaries, driven and defined by interrelated factors including economic relationships, historically defined situational relationships, and interface conditions including narratives of culture and environmental urgency. The paper introduces the concept of ‘network formation’ to see and understand such interconnected, relational processes.” • “Network formation.” Hmm.

“Urban Ecology and Animism in the Landscape of the Great Lakes” [Belt Magazine]. “When you drop the search image (that mental mode vigilantly watching for a deer’s silhouette, or a specific shape of an eddy in the river), and look at the totality of the world around you, you find so much more going on, there’s so much to participate in. It also gives you a license to bring childlike wonder back into your own life. And as you start to find more things, you realize how little we actually know or recognize in our day-to-day lives, in terms of the species and biological processes going on around us.” • A little too much about Tarot cards for me, but I thought the idea of surrenduring “the search image”– you know, what we’re training Google robot cars to have with Captchas? — was interesting. (Oddly for a resolute materialist, animism is the only form of spirituality that makes sense to me, so I found this article a little disappointing.)

“Air quality on cruise ship deck ‘worse than world’s most polluted cities’, investigation finds” [Independent]. “The undercover investigation on Britain’s biggest crew operator P&O Cruises aimed to find out how clean the air holidaymakers breathe when on a ship is. It focused on the levels of ‘ultra-fine particles’ found in the air and around the cruise ship and emitted from the fuel the ships’ engines burn…. One cruise ship can emit as much particulate matter as a million cars in a day.” • Yikes!

“Following Missouri’s lead, other states take on cell-cultured meat” [New Food Economy]. “The future of meat is almost here, and lawmakers in cattle country aren’t happy about it. Stateline, a project of the Pew Charitable Trusts, reports that a handful of states are following in the footsteps of a recent Missouri law that prohibits the makers of plant-based meat, like the Beyond Burger, and cell-cultured meat, which is years away from market but already making waves in Washington, D.C., from labeling their products as though they came from an animal carcass—that is, calling them ‘meat.’ Deciding how to label a new food product, particularly one that acts as a substitute or alternative for a well-established product, results in knock-down, drag-out wars in the food industry. Typically, the fight is about the federal definition of the food, known as a standard of identity.” • As with butter and margarine…

Our Famously Free Press

“Fact-checkers adapt to heightened combat, facing politicians who are repeating lies and pushing back” [American Press Institute]. “At both national and local levels, the journalists who attempt to hold politicians accountable for telling the truth are finding that many officials persist in repeating debunked falsehoods. On top of that, some fact-checkers, mostly on the local level, say they have been on the receiving end of more combative responses from politicians whose claims are found to be false.” • If we had what used to be a normal complement of functioning newsrooms, would “fact-checking” even be a thing?

Guillotine Watch

“A Housekeeper Was Stuck In A Billionaire’s Townhouse Elevator For THREE Days” [Guest of a Guest]. “Over the weekend, Marites Fortaliza, a 53-year old housekeeper who works at the Upper East Side townhouse of billionaire investor Warren Stephens, got stuck during her shift while the owners were out of town Friday evening. When they returned Monday at around 10 am, they discovered she was trapped in the elevator between the second and third floors, and called 911. The $20 million landmarked property on East 65th Street has had two violations for failing to maintain the elevator… However, when building inspectors arrived at the home on Monday, they were refused entry…. Stephens, who is worth about $2.7 billion thanks to his privately held, Arkansas-based investment bank, Stephens Inc., is also a prominent conservative political donor (big surprise there).” • Here’s hoping Fortaliza’s settlement sets her and her familly up for life, and she never has to work for Stephens again. More: “”The employee involved has been a valued member of the Stephens extended family for 18 years,’ read a statement from the family’s investment banking firm, which famously provided early capital that helped Wal-Mart get off the ground. ‘The Stephens family is relieved that she is doing well in the hospital'” [New York Post]. • “A value member of the family.” BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!!

Maybe we can learn from China, too:

On the bright side, nobody actually seems to be eating them. (I should say that although I have a mordant sense of humor, I’m in favor of strategic non-violence. I think that when you optimize a movement or party’s leadership for violence… you keep getting what you optimized for.)

Class Warfare

“Air Traffic Controllers Defeated Trump. That’s Worker Power” [Portside]. “Controllers simply stayed home. No federal law prohibits federal employees from getting sick or calling in sick. And who’s to say it was coordinated? Today, the internet can spread information about a voluntary walkout as quickly and efficiently as any centralized coordinator. The larger story is that public workers who lack any formal power to strike – but have the informal power not to work – are becoming a new force in American politics and labor relations. Look what teachers accomplished last year by walking out of their classrooms in the unlikeliest of places – West Virginia, Arizona, Oklahoma, Kentucky, Colorado and North Carolina. Most of these are Republican “right-to-work” states that bar strikes by public employees.” • Important!

“Unemployment is low only because ‘involuntary’ part-time work is high” [Business Insider]. “‘During early 2018, involuntary part-time work was running nearly a percentage point higher than its level the last time the unemployment rate was 4.1%, in August 2000,’ according to Rob Valletta, a vice president in the Economic Research Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. ‘This represents about 1.4 million additional individuals who are stuck in part-time jobs. These numbers imply that the level of [Involuntary Part Time (IPT)] work is about 40% higher than would normally be expected at this point in the economic expansion.” • Thanks, Obama!

So, how’s identity politics been workin’ out for ya?

“Gina Rinehart company revealed as $4.5m donor to climate sceptic thinktank” [Guardian]. “Australia’s richest person, mining magnate Gina Rinehart, has been revealed as a key funder of the rightwing thinktank the Institute of Public Affairs – a consistent promoter of climate science scepticism…. According to Forbes, Rinehart was the seventh-richest woman in the world in 2017 and Australia’s richest person, with current wealth estimated to be $17.6bn.” • That’s nice.

News of the Wired

When Moore’s Law meets Parkinson’s Law:

(I’d like to give a hat tip for the “Law” joke but can’t find it!)

“‘You’re fine’: The Ugg boot of apology responses” [The Week]. “Maybe soothing phrases come out of unsoothing times, or maybe it’s just coincidence that I started noticing the phrase ‘you’re fine’ being substituted for ‘no problem,’ or ‘no worries,’ or ‘That’s okay!’ several months ago.” • I’ve heard tihs. My (silent) thought: “Who the hell are you to tell me whether I’m fine or not?”

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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 (CW):

CW writes: “Village Creek has no dams or levees or flood control of any kind. This tree is in a bend and the bank has eroded and left it stranded. Picture was taken mid-May 2017. USGS has a gage a few miles away. On this day gage level was 6 ft, the NWS flood stage is 17 ft. The operational limit is 35 ft. Three months later Harvey rains brought levels that exceeded the limit, 35 ft. It might not still be vertical. My work transferred me after the hurricane and I haven’t been able to get back. I really miss the river and the thicket.” I have been trying to learn how to photograph trees. It’s not so easy.

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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. Summer

    “‘That’s not correct, that’s not American. What’s next? What industry are we going to abolish next? The coffee industry?’ asked Schultz on Tuesday during an appearance on ‘CBS This Morning.’”

    If you thought a “centrist Donald Trump” was an oxymoron, think again.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      When I realized “centrists” and “libertarians” were largely Republicans who like better music or can’t pretend to like CMT original programming, everything made sense. The “national debt” is just a way of saying, “I don’t know how marginal tax rates work or hate women” without being confrontational.

      If Trump served assorted truffles to the Clemson Tigers, he would be hailed as a hero by centrists.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      This “Mr. Schultz” person won’t take any votes away from Trump if he runs an Independent Campaign. He will take votes away from whatever Obama 2.0 figure the Wall Street DemParty chooses to run.

      Run, Schultzy, Run!

        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          my first impression: he makes Kamala(and that ilk) look downright enlightened and with it.
          as trump was supposed to do for hilldog.
          stalking horse 2.0

          ima gonna go on and get on the bernie or bust wagon now, and avoid confusion.
          I’ll be on the haybale by the keg if anyone needs me.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            I think you could scare more people with ” Bernie or Trump” than with “Bernie or bust”.

            If someone brings out a Bernie Or Trump button, I’ll buy one and wear one.

            It might be neat to wear a Trump hat with a Bernie buttion AND a Marx button on it.
            “Make America Greater Than Ever . . . with Trump, Sanders and Marx”.

            1. Amfortas the Hippie

              aye! lol.
              but I’m far too honest for that.
              in spite of the abundant evidence that my vote doesnt matter one damned bit, I still take it seriously.
              I’d never give it to trump.
              or any repub.
              I’d rather not vote at all.
              Banana Empire.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          No? Well I hope Schultzie-poo runs anyway. Just to see. And for the laughs.

          Schultzy-poo and Bloombooger could run together on the No Labels ticket.

    3. zagonostra

      I saw somewhere that Starbucks pays more for healthcare cost for its employees (and I’m sure not all are eligible) than it does for purchasing coffee. So where is the business logic of not wanting M4A?

      1. todde

        because if the tax rates on the wealthiest go up, he is going to be hurt more than he gains with not having to pay for employees health insurance.

        if I make $20m from Starbucks and pay 39% tax on it, I take home $12.2m

        If, after health care costs for starbucks are eliminated, I make $30m, from starbucks but have to pay 70% on income over $10m, I only take home $12.1m.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBee

          He could use some dynamic scoring.

          Maybe more can afford his coffee, under M4A. Maybe it’s not $12.1m, but more.

          Perhaps it’s ‘one bird in the hand is better than 2 in the bush’ thinking.

        2. Jen

          By my definition, hurting requires actual deprivation. This dude already has more money than he will ever be able to spend. It’s not like he’s going to have to start a go fund me campaign to buy a new private jet, or, to be cheeky, to afford health care. These people sit on mountains of cash, and would still, even with a 70% marginal tax rate, be richer than everyone else on earth, and yet to them, anything that constrains their ability to hoover up every family blogging dollar is the end of the world.

          Taking home “only” $12.1 million is a problem most of us would be happy to have.

    4. ShamanicFallout

      Ask Seattleites and they’ll probably tell you he’ll likely move the White House to Oklahoma

      1. nippersdad

        She is also a member of the CFR. If she hasn’t called for an invasion yet she probably soon will be.


    1. crittermom

      I hadn’t thought there was anyone more arrogant & narcissistic than Trump–until I first heard of this.
      It disgusts me. I ran out of expletives the moment I first heard of it.
      What an arrogant a**!

      I’ve been saying ever since that if they just posted a photo of each of us who lost our homes under his HAMP fix on the ceiling of this repulsive structure, it would crumble under the weight.

      I sincerely hope this monument of his bloated ego is knocked down in court.

      Thanks for the updates regarding it, ChiGal.

      1. Hepativore

        It could also have placards dedicated to the Holy Works of the prophet, Great Obama; such as the 2009 Shielding of the Job Creators, Looking Forward Not Back, Judgement By Drones and the Wiretapping of the Unwashed Masses.

        Perhaps we could also have placards lamenting the unfinished parts of his divine Mission, like the Passage of the TPP, and the Grand Bargain.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And also placards and dynamic thermometers and stuff showing how many boards and other such things he is getting on, how many speeches, where, for who, and how much per speech.
          And a general run-up-the-score meter on how much money he is collecting every day.

          Hey Hey O ba may!
          How many Tubmans you rake today?

        1. integer

          Just realized that your comment is an Obama reference too. On first read it went straight over my head. Whoosh!

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      The headline says “Library,” but the actual name of the monstrosity is the Obama Presidential Center, because Obama’s papers will not be stored there.

      The whole Presidential Library thing is a racket, and all Presidential papers ought to go to a public institution like the National Archives or the Library of Congress. Obama, to his credit, is actually doing that, but that brings a welcome clarity to the purpose of the whole “Center” project: Vanity. Plus, of course, the bucks. And the golf. Fitting.

  2. woof

    Housekeeper a “valued” member of the Stephens family for 18 years. What was her hourly wage for all those years?

    1. Jen

      And yet they are looking forward to handing her a settlement that will never require her to work for them again.

      I hope the lady has the most flat out evil lawyer on earth.

  3. Lee

    “The Daily 202: Stacey Abrams isn’t the future of the Democratic Party. She’s the present.” ….
    In what sense is [x] identity1 [x] identity2 [x] identity2 a “BIG IDEA”? I wish Abrams had stayed back in Georgia and fought it out on election fraud and paper ballots. I can’t imagine a better way to get a national platform — the SOTU response ain’t it, Chuck — than that, and what a break way to break the liberal Democrat dam against expanding the base, too.

    Some pundit or other recently stated that black women were the future of the Democratic Party. Do these people bother to look at demographic maps? Hillary’s firewall against Bernie was black primary voters in southern states that in general elections vote reliably Republican. http://www.censusscope.org/us/map_nhblack.html

    Now, I rather like the idea of black women leading us all to the promised land, but the nature of the promises does matter more to me than the melanin content of their skin. Am I being too persnickety?

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Black women are the most reliable Democratic voting block and the most left wing, and the looming threat is more AOCs. The Democratic elites are worried black voters could become fed up or run themselves, so they need to find people to counter the AOC presentation.

      The promise of the DLC and Blue Dogs was sacrifice an issue such as guns (Mark Warner (VA) use to have A- rating from the NRA until after Sandy Hook despite Columbine and Virginia Tech) or abortion to win on the “larger” issues. People kind of accepted this idea, but HRC lost. Obama not following through on promises and trying to appeal to Republicans lost 1,000 seats. The local Democratic committees who are fairly loyal to the elite are starting to get antsy. They are aging out, and the young people don’t like them. Abrams is about presenting a new face of Team Blue to keep the Democratic Committees happy.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well . . . I don’t know . . . are you?

      What would Hillary say? What would Oprah say?

    3. Tomonthebeach

      “I wish Abrams had stayed back in Georgia and fought it out on election fraud and paper ballots. I can’t imagine a better way to get a national platform.”

      Me too. I now have an image of my voting machine similar to those child car seats with the little steering wheel and horn. No matter what direction I turn the wheel, daddy’s car goes where he wants it to go. I just enjoy the illusion of influence.

  4. Mark Gisleson

    Why are we still talking about framing? This isn’t even Marketing 101 stuff. High school entrepreneurs know that kind of basic stuff instinctively.

    Lakoff is marketing for dummies. If you need his help to figure out how to win, rest assured that Republican marketers have anticipated your next slick move. Like about ten years ago.

    All winning is local. National issues and huge media buys are for suckers. Bust up the top>down DNC and give the grassroots direct lines to those who insist on being in charge. We could mitigate much of the damage if only we could get the Wile E. Coyote super-geniuses in Brooklyn and DC to listen to actual activists who know how to win the small races that help garner votes for the big races.

    If you need a poll or a pundit to tell you what people think, maybe step aside and let others run 2020.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It’s good they want to primary AOC.

      “Bring it on.”

      When she wins, she’ll be even more powerful. (“It was not a fluke in 2018.”)

      If not, life can be cruel, and we know that, have experienced that first hand.

      1. jrs

        AOC is a bit centrist for my taste on some things. Only raise taxes to 70% on over 10 million in income? Weak tea. Can anyone even imagine earning even ONE million a year in *income* (not having 1 million wealth, earning a million a year in *income*)? And we aren’t going to start raising taxes until TEN million a year in INCOME?

        Warren’s proposal is not better, 50 million in assets.

        Wake me up when someone gets serious about a real plan to tax the rich.

        1. Pookah Harvey

          I kind of like the financial transaction tax, it would be harder for the nose bleed billionaires to hide their money. From Wikipedia:

          The United States instituted a transfer tax on all sales or transfers of stock in The Revenue Act of 1914 (Act of 22 October 1914 (ch. 331, 38 Stat. 745)). Instead of a fixed tax amount per transaction, the tax was in the amount of 0.2% of the transaction value (20 basis points, bips). This was doubled to 0.4% (40 bips) in 1932, in the context of the Great Depression, then eliminated in 1966.

          In 1936, in the wake of the Great Depression, John Maynard Keynes advocated the wider use of financial transaction taxes.[4][9]:105 He proposed the levying of a small transaction tax on dealings on Wall Street, in the United States, where he argued excessive speculation by uninformed financial traders increased volatility


          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            It seems to favor options and futures, instead of buying the underlying stocks.

            Instead buying (and selling later, hopefully profitably) $1,000,000, you buy and sell perhaps $10,000 worth of options or futures.

            1. Oregoncharles

              Options and futures would be taxed, too. what it does is raise the transaction cost and penalize wanton speculation, or churning, or day-trading.

              You’re invoking the law of unintended consequences: there always are some. So if possible, it helps to foresee them and choose the least obnoxious.

          2. Pookah Harvey

            There have been thought on extensions to include all transactions, Automated payment transaction tax. Also from wikipedia:

            In 1989, Edgar L. Feige proposed a synthesis and extension of the ideas of Keynes and Tobin by proposing a flat rate tax on all transactions.[17] The total volume of all transactions undertaken in an economy represents the broadest possible tax base and therefore requires the lowest flat tax rate to raise any requisite amount of revenue. Since financial transactions in stocks, bonds, international currency transactions and derivatives comprise most of the automated payment transaction (APT) tax base, it is in essence the broadest of financial transaction taxes. Initially proposed as a revenue neutral replacement for the entire Federal tax system of the United States,[43] it could alternatively be considered as a global tax whose revenues could be used by national governments to reduce existing income, corporate and VAT tax rates as well as reducing existing sovereign debt burdens. If adopted by all of the developed nations, it would have the advantage of eliminating all incentives for substitution between financial assets and between financial centers since all transactions would universally be taxed at the identical flat tax rate.

            The foundations of the APT tax proposal—a small, uniform tax on all economic transactions—involve simplification, base broadening, reductions in marginal tax rates, the elimination of tax and information returns and the automatic collection of tax revenues at the payment source.

            I have to pay a financial transaction tax on almost all of my financial activity, its called a sales tax. I can’t see why the elites shouldn’t do the same.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          > AOC is a bit centrist for my taste on some things.

          She’s very young and still learning. Still, I worry when I see her adopt talking points like “family values” or “the national conversation.” That verbiage is corrosive by design. She will have been talking to a lot of people with lovely, soothing, NPR-style voices who give you “love bombs” when you play ball. Kamala Harris’s sister makes good money as a political analyst at MSNBC. Andrew Gillum just signed on at CNN. And so forth. If AOC wants political power on a national scale, there’s an enormous hole on the left in which to “run to daylight,” which the political class attempts to obscure or distract from.

          We shall see. She’s so good, but it hasn’t been long, and the official Washington makes good apples go bad very rapidly (see poor Stacey Abrams, whose head has been quite turned with a little attention). AOC said the other day she’d be introducing her first legislation soon. It will be interesting to see what it is. Presumably, it won’t be renaming a Post Office…

      2. BDBlue

        My favorite part of the primary AOC story was the suggested names included Julia Salazar. Because ousting democratic socialist AOC for self-identified Marxist Salazar will really teach those leftist outsiders a lesson. I mean, I know Dem establishment “strategists” are stupid, but that’s almost parody. Then again, it was the Daily Caller.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I like the picture of some Democratic strategist feeding talking points to the Daily Caller very much. “We discovered we had more in common than I thought.”

      3. Hepativore

        I do wonder though, if the political machine that is funded by wealthy elites and the FIRE sector would actually be able to primary her successfully. Because she is getting so many of our neo-feudal lords upset, they might be able to launch an all-out effort through blatant cheating and sheer fraud to tilt a hypothetical primary in their favor.

        I would not be surprised if it would make the 2016 anti-Sanders effort on the part of the Democratic party look like a playground tussle by comparison.

        It would have to be a herculean effort of election-rigging on the part of our moneyed overlords, but I am not going to put anything past them.

        After all, neoliberalism has been the dominant ideology in our government for at least a decade before I was born, and I will not be surprised if I will be old and buried long before the monster is slain.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Why are we still talking about framing?

      Because Lakoff-style framing has been a dominant conceptual framework among liberal Democrats for years, and still exerts power.

  5. Summer

    Re: “A Housekeeper Was Stuck In A Billionaire’s Townhouse Elevator For THREE Days” [Guest of a Guest].

    I don’t know how much an emergency phone on the elevator would have sped things along.
    I was once trapped in an elevator with a few other people. No cell service. I picked up the emergency phone and a woman answered. Her first question: “What state are you in?”

    I started laughing and everyone looked at me strange. I hung up the phone, told them what was asked, and they laughed too.

    We started shouting. Luckily it was a small building and in the middle of the work day.

    1. Lee

      Yeah, I love it when I try to call the local bank branch, where I actually know people, or a store in town with whom I’ve been doing business and end up talking to someone in Timbuktu.

    2. crittermom

      Although I can’t remember the last time I took an elevator, I had always wondered if anyone even answered those phones. You’ve now confirmed they do, & yes, it does seem (sadly?) laughable.

      I guess the upside is that at least they didn’t ask which country you were in?

    3. Joe Well

      I was once stuck in an elevator in Mexico, called 911 (066 at the time) the operator refused to believe me then blocked my number. I called back 10 times and finally got through and they sent the fire department. Mind you, this was in a prime vacation area. I feel like we can look forward to this level of public services in the US soon! Plenty of our elderly are already priced out of the US and having these kinds of experiences right now.

  6. voteforno6

    Re: Air Traffic Controllers

    It seems that this country is going to have to re-learn the lessons from ’30s & ’40s – it’s far better for everyone involved for industry to come to work with the unions and workers than to fight them. As much as they hate unions, having to deal with wildcat strikes is far more disruptive. That article is correct, too – if Congress & the President are stupid enough to play games with a shutdown again, there will be a much quicker flare-up of people calling in sick. Who knows? Maybe workers in other fields will draw inspiration from this.

    1. Anon

      Air traffic controllers are in a unique position: they are the crux of airline safety. Baggage handlers, not so much.

      1. Skip Intro

        I think you underestimate the losses and chaos baggage handlers could inflict… and all without the stigma of causing mid-air collisions.

  7. timotheus

    “That said, I think Bloomberg is smarter than Schultz.”

    Low bar.

    Bloomberg did some decent things as NYC mayor in a Xi Jin-ping sort of way. When you have $25b in your bank account, you can declare that smoking will no longer take place in bars and tell those unhappy about it to piss off up a rope.

    Public health has always had an authoritarian tendency.

    We’ve had enough of that in the White House to last several lifetimes.

    1. Another Scott

      A racist billionaire New Yorker wants to be President. Don’t we already have one of those?

      Yes, I’m calling Mike Bloomberg a racist. It’s based upon his positions and policies on a number of issues, ranging from stop and frisk to charter schools to the soda ban.

  8. bruce wilder

    Apple has found that no country — and certainly not the United States — can match China’s combination of scale, skills, infrastructure and cost.

    I guess that’s it then, nothing can be done. Of course, China spent a lot of years building up that capability of “scale, skills, infrastructure and cost”. There were a lot of years during which investing in manufacturing of anything in China could only be made marginally profitable in financial terms by the huge skew in the currency exchange and controls placed on everything as part of a determined industrial policy. Not that neoliberalism can remember the day before yesterday.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Yes. Apple doesn’t want you to be able to open your laptop’s case to repair or improve it, so they use special screws. That plus holding everything together with glue or solder.

        So it’s deindustrialization + Apple’s business model

        I don’t agree that nothing can be done, but it would take industrial policy to do it. Mobilization….

    1. Cal2

      How is it that “we” can build bombs in this country but can’t set up a factory to make screws?

      1. crittermom

        Perhaps because if you follow the money you realize that ‘screw’ can also be used as a verb?

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Because we have Free Trade. And Free Trade means that some foreign screwmaker can always underprice any American screwmaker and drive that screwmaker out of bussiness.

        Or more likely, the owners of that American screwmaker can simply close the factories and open new factories in China.

        If we want to have screwmakers in America again, we will have to abolish Free Trade.

      3. Left in Wisconsin

        In reading the article, it seems as if the project was set up to fail. Perhaps to prove a point. Even in the U.S., it is completely impossible that they couldn’t have found an adequate supply of screws had they really wanted to.

  9. L

    “unpredictable international developments and a complicated and sensitive external environment”, a phrase invoked by Chinese leaders to refer to rising threats from China’s trade war with Washington.”

    Be very concerned.

    While people seem to be invoking this phrase as being about what might happen in the trade war the fact is that there are already a number of things. First and most worrisome, Xi has stepped up his efforts to dominate Taiwan and may be planning something along those lines. Second, the major drop in the Chinese economy is already creating instability which they would like to blame on external factors but which is in many ways homegrown. And Third, China has seen a rise in unrest both in outlying regions (Xinjiang) and even in the interior (Genuine marxists and unemployed) which again Xi wants to blame on outsiders but which is again homegrown.

    Whatever they are referring to the fact is that if the Chinese leadership, which maintains its claim to legitimacy based solely upon their ability to provide stability and power, is publicly warning about threats to both, then there are real problems already and much worse to come. We can only hope that none of those is an invasion of Taiwan.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > We can only hope that none of those is an invasion of Taiwan

      I worry about this too, a lot. War would be a good way for Xi to bring unity to the country (paper over his political problems, boost his legitimacy, imprison dissenters, ratchet up the social surveillance, etc.) Invading Taiwan might be hard, though:

      American analysts use terms like “mature precision-strike regime” and “anti-access and area denial warfare” to describe technological trends that make it extremely difficult to project naval and airpower near enemy shores. Costs favor the defense: It is much cheaper to build a ship-killing missile than it is to build a ship.

      But if this means that the Chinese army can counter U.S. force projection at a fraction of America’s costs, it also means that the democracies straddling the East Asian rim can deter Chinese aggression at a fraction of the PLA’s costs. In an era that favors defense, small nations like Taiwan do not need a PLA-sized military budget to keep the Chinese at bay.

      And I think invading Taiwan would rather queer the pitch for Belt and Road initiatives, especially in China’s “near abroad” in Southeast Asia.

  10. todde

    Chinese Billionaires.

    The problem with eating Chinese Billionaires is that you are just hungry for another one in a few hours. Might be why their life expectancy is so short.

    It is also why I prefer a Bilderberger with cheese.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      How does it make the surviving billionaires look?


      “Approved and security provided by the state?”

      1. todde

        “Approved and security provided by the state?”

        Never met a billinaire who wasn’t. And I’ve actually met and worked for one. He had his own back-up security force too.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Something must have happened to those 14 executed.

          “Not approved and not protected any longer.”

          1. John k

            And the suicisal ones… and maybe some of the sick ones… and maybe others, too.
            Usually the rich live longer… maybe dangerous to be filthy rich Chinese.

  11. shinola

    “The Vice President’s Men” (LRB’s excerpt) is worth a read. I think I’m going to get Hersh’s book – sounds really interesting. This bit from the article caught my eye:

    “… We came to realise that the American intelligence community needed the threat from Russia to get their money. Those of us who were running the operations were also amazed that the American press was so incompetent”

    The more things change…

    1. Bugs Bunny

      Saw this in the Milwaukee Journal earlier. The comments there are pretty, um, harsh. I’d link to it but it’s late over here, folks.

      1. Cal2

        Claw back the value of all the tax inducements, or, allow them to keep them based on a prorate
        for actual workers hired.

    2. Stillfeelinthebern

      Jake Has a Blog:

      Great post by a Wisconsin blogger who has excellent analysis of what the numbers are for Foxconn. His blog is some of the best analysis of economic conditions in Wisconsin often pointing out how rotten the Scotty numbers actually were compared to neighboring states and the US.

      I’m hopeful this thing falls apart before too much lasting damage is done. This could be the best outcome.

  12. Louis Fyne

    Re. Instacart tipping

    Amazon does that too… Applying tips to wages for their Whole Foods home deliveries.

    I thought surely this violated some labor law, nope. Defender of progressive liberalism Jeff Bezos for 2020! Cuz democracy dies in opaque pay practices

    And try to always tip in cash

  13. Summer

    Despite being in a “trade war,” I see two countries speaking, in many respects, the same language.
    Connect the dots:

    Eric Trump Urges Father To Declare National Emergency Over Border Wall Funding

    “Honestly, if they don’t, declare the emergency and build the wall with the United States military because that’s what people in this country want,” Eric Trump told Hannity. “And then redouble your efforts on legal immigration, get great people in this country because that’s what America wants and that’s what America needs.”

    Foxconn Shifts Focus From Wisconsin Manufacturing Plan

    Rather than a focus on LCD manufacturing, Foxconn wants to create a “technology hub” in Wisconsin.

    Earlier this month, Foxconn, a major supplier to Apple Inc., reiterated its intention to create 13,000 jobs in Wisconsin, but said it had slowed its pace of hiring. The company initially said it expected to employ about 5,200 people by the end of 2020; a company source said that figure now looks likely to be closer to 1,000 workers.

    It is unclear when the full 13,000 workers will be hired.

    But Woo, in the interview, said about three-quarters of Foxconn’s eventual jobs will be in R&D and design – what he described as “knowledge” positions – rather than blue-collar manufacturing jobs. Foxconn is formally known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.
    Rather than manufacturing LCD panels in the United States, Woo said it would be more profitable to make them in greater China and Japan, ship them to Mexico for final assembly, and import the finished product to the United States.
    He said that would represent a supply chain that fits with Foxconn’s current “fluid, good business model.”

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being a major supplier, but not the sole one, is precarious.

      If it is the only one, then, Apple is the one at risk.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          War everywhere.

          Unlike a household, or a being in love, monogamy seems risky for two corporations (even with personhoold, but not a household).

          “I will only buy from you, and you sell to me.”

          ‘Tis better to flirt all the time.

          1. Summer

            This is more like polyamory with a couple having a single person “join the team.”

            Usually, the single person (the worker in this picture) gets the short end of the stick.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              A corporation can more than one worker at a time. And it’s the normal state of things.

              A worker can also have more than one employer simultaneously. Most, though, naturally prefer having only one.

              Some sort of unrequited love?

              1. Summer

                Who said anything about love?

                That sounds like a lot of insecurity all the way around.

                No mention of commitment.

      1. Summer

        Also, Eric Trump’s comment was general. I doubt he is lobbying for getting “great people” (snicker) into the country just for Foxconn.

  14. roadrider

    Re: “Security Things to Consider When Your Apartment Goes ‘Smart’”

    Oh joy. I guess this is the next unneeded tech “innovation” that my apartment complex will try to foist on me. They’ve already discontinued the package acceptance service and replace it with Amazon Hub Lockers for which, as an Amazon boycotter, I refused to sign up. All packages will now be left at my door and if I’m expecting anything sensitive I have to make sure I’ll be home or pick up at FedEx, UPS or USPS. Why don’t I move? If you knew the state of the non-market here in Blue Heaven Montgomery County MD (where all of the Dem loyalist, Obama/Hill-bot county council members are securely in the pockets of the real estate industry) you wouldn’t bother to ask.

  15. RopeADope

    That minimum wage tweet does not convey enough information.

    This chart illustrates what Nixon and Reagan did to Americans.


    It also shows why calling for a moral wage is not a strong enough argument. Taking that approach makes the fight for $15 a once and done failure.

    1. Cal2

      You cannot be for the ability of American workers to demand a livable wage through withholding their labor and at the same time be for open borders which allow millions of wage lowering, union busting, replacements to flood the job market.

  16. Hameloose Cannon

    Given the somber tone of the Chinese politburo’s snap ideological jam session, instructing one and one-third billion people to batten down the hatches, and the Party’s publicity push highlighting the mortality of Chinese billionaires, I going to assume there are no coincidences, and things are about to get hostile between the Trump and Xi administrations. I’m starting to think Trump has made a political miscalculation of mammoth proportions.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It would seem, based on the Art of War, that it’s better to replace someone quietly, instead of making noise about the repacing before it happens.

      All that One Belt, One Road, Made in China 2025, dictating Hollywood movie scripts, buying up expensive houses all over the world – all it did was to wake the eagle, not the lion in this case, up. That, I think, was the prior political miscalculation of mammoth proportions.

      1. Hameloose Cannon

        The Middle Kingdom is wrestling with two major crises: 1.) the looming demographic catastrophe created by the One-Child Policy; and 2.) the endemic corruption of the ganbu [cadre] system, whereby the target metrics that determine hierarchical ranking within and without the Party is falsified by convention. By picking a trade fight with the entire nation and forcing Xi to make a public statement, Trump is handing Xi a lever of power which would not have existed had the factionalism created by the Party’s internal power logic been allowed to continue. China’s labor force is an unbeatable global force. But China’s economic structure is vast, and nobody knows the true numbers. For example, disciplining Huawei without embracing a regional Chinese competitor, Lenovo, for example, is indicting the political system, not the business leadership. Multinational corporate pressure can have an enormous impact in China if the efforts are not preempted by the needs of the Party.

        All the above leads me to believe Trump is trying, and failing, to alienate China from the world stage. It is the US leadership that looks weak and alienated. It’s the Sino-Soviet split all over again, only it’s the US in the CCCP role, looking sclerotic.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          In what sense is the Chinese labor force “unbeatable”? “Unbeatable” at what? And in what context?

  17. Bugs Bunny

    “when you optimize a movement or party’s leadership for violence… you keep getting what you optimized for”

    Lambert, this little remark makes so much sense. Reminds me of the late Alexander Cockburn who ranted quite a bit on the subject of state violence begetting local social violence.

  18. Arthur Dent

    Re: polar vortex

    I think most people don’t understand that the fundamental difference between the Arctic and Antarctic is that the Arctic is an ocean and Antarctica is land.

    That mattered less 30+ years ago when much of the Arctic Ocean was covered by multi-year ice sheets during the summer. Those have been melting and breaking up, so much more of the Arctic Ocean is now ice free in the summer, so there is more water exposed later in the season. The reduced ice cover in the summer also causes more heating of the ocean water during the summer months when the sun is up 24-hrs a day. Around 1980, I spent time up there on the Arctic Ocean in December and that was when freeze-up was becoming complete so that just about every square inch was frozen ice which substantially reduces the interaction of the underlying ocean water and the atmosphere. So freeze up now is later and breakup is earlier because ice is thinner and weaker.

    North America’s coldest temperatures have always been in the middle of the continent in the Minnesota-Manitoba-Saskatchewan-NWT-Ontario-Quebec region because the snow covered ground temperature drops fast very fast compared to the ocean water that can circulate warm water from depth. Snow cover on land also reflects solar energy. In my trips to the Arctic Ocean, the temperatures were typically -20 to -30 F in December to March. Cold, but not as cold as the middle of the continent.

    The last continental glaciers had two major spreading centers in the middle of the continent from Labrador-Quebec in the northeast and the Keewatin sheet in the Northwest Territory-northern Saskatchewan area. There was also an ice sheet centered on the Baffin Island areas as well as glaciers in the western mountains. Greenland is the last major relic of these continental glaciers in the north. These continental ice sheets originated on land south of the Arctic Ocean, not in the Arctic Ocean itself. In Antarctica, the ice sheets are generally spreading from the South Pole outwards (mountain ranges etc. obviously lead to much more complexity than this) which is a very different pattern than the Arctic.

    So the ability for the middle of the continent to get cold in the depths of winter hasn’t really changed as much while the air and water temperatures over the Arctic Ocean are changing a lot. This appears to be dramatically changing the dynamics between those regions. so the cold air over the middle of Canada can now wobble around and burp south into areas in unusual patterns. As a result, we are seeing more volatility of temperature around a gradually increasing winter mean in the northern US.

    The temperatures over the middle of Antarctica in the depth of winter aren’t changing that much similar to the middle of Canada. But the margins are changing a lot as warmer ocean water circulates similar to the Arctic Ocean.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      yup. and the lower differential between equator and north pole means a slower circumpolar jet, which used to act as a wall of fast air around the cold, cold pole. slower cp jet necessarily meanders instead, and throws off bubbles(or burps…that’s a good analog) of arctic air.
      here in central texas, we’ve had warmer winters than “average”, interspersed with periods of deep cold as a direct result of this phenomenon…notably, since the arctic sea ice started it’s more obvious decline.
      you can watch these burps here, among other places( https://www.weather-forecast.com/maps/Arctic)


      altho I wish they updated it more often.
      that map also often shows an increase in what look for all the world like hurricanes(extremely low pressure, short sharp pressure gradients, large areas) in the arctic….which are themselves indicators that something is terribly wrong.

    2. Steve H.

      > ocean water that can circulate warm water from depth.

      That depth has been a stabilizing heat sink, allowing surface temperatures to better maintain ice mass. Until it don’t no more. Man muss immer umkehren.

  19. Grant

    I love the talking point that Schulz and people like him throw out there regarding us not being able to “afford” single payer. Since it would be funded by government spending, and since there are no real limits on that (I realize the limits in regards to inflation), explain how we couldn’t “afford it”. Explain how we can’t afford it since it would save us money, trillions. If we can’t “afford” single payer, then the present system is even more unaffordable. And explain how we can’t afford it since not only would it save money, but we don’t even include the social costs of the system when pricing it. We don’t put a price tag on the thousands that die every year, the job lock and the bankruptcies when discussing the costs of this monstrous system.

    People like him can make a two sentence claim and be wrong on a dozen levels. It’s impressive. Try it, not easy.

    Let me try. As we all know, the Earth is a moon that circles Jupiter, within our two planet solar system, that inhabits the only galaxy in the universe. One sentence, and how many things will you now have to correct?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A bold promotional message, a gurantee: “We will not tax anyone to implement M4A, becuas of MMT.”

      To prove it, we (the fed. government) will give $5,000 tax-free to each person in the US, today, leaving all federal taxes unchanged.

      If people still refuse to believe it, there will be another $5,000 tax-free check tomorrow, again, without all federal taxes unchanged.

      Theories are often demonstrated this way.

      1. Skip Intro

        Or say, “As a demonstration, we will look at the results of spending >$1 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2008, while reducing tax revenues.”

  20. The Rev Kev

    Absolutely not surprised about Gina Rinehart being a climate change denier. She has an in with the former right-wing Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Rupert Murdoch so would not be out of place with the Koch brothers. Once got into strife that Aussie wages should be radically lowered to compete with African workers on $2 a day. A coupla years ago she called for a northern tax-free zone in a push for regional development and I would not be surprised to hear that she has a lot of businesses located there as a reason why. The classic idea where a country pays all the bills and infrastructure of a region while the billionaires get all the profits from it.
    Maybe China does have the right idea with their billionaires after all.

    1. John k

      When total wealth hits a secret number, off with their head. Or encourage them to do it themselves. Or they get sick… sad…
      Odd they haven’t figured it out, and stick around as the number rises ever higher… seems billionaires can always use another one or two…

      1. The Rev Kev

        Hmmm. Imagine a system where for each billion dollars of gross worth a person had, their lives would be reduced by one year. One year does not sound effective until you remember that most billionaires are fairly old and do not have that many years left anyway. At $165 billion, Bezos would be first on the chopping block of course.

    1. Skip Intro

      I was hoping someone would post that. As a summary, Apple discovered that Facebook was using the ‘enterprise app distribution’ mechanism Apple provides for private in-company apps to deliver spyware apps to the ‘test subjects’. It is ONLY for internal company use, as the apps and updates are directly distributed from the developer (in house) to the users (also in house), bypassing all Apple reviews. These apps also have much greater power to compromise users privacy, on the assumption that they are only used on company devices. This abuse of their system and violation of its terms led Apple to void the app certificate. This prevents these apps from launching at all. Apparently the root cert. that they used for these spyware apps was also used for Facebook campus apps like a map, lunch menu, and transportation finder. It may also apply to internal test versions of the public Facebook apps.

    2. ChrisPacific

      That is amusing and appropriate in a karmic sense.

      For those late to the party, Facebook was paying children as young as 13 to allow Facebook to track their mobile activity. They did this by asking them to install a custom root certificate. Google had a similar program, although it sounds like it wasn’t quite as bad.

      Apple revoked their enterprise root certificate when they found out, which is what you get when you use it to train children to compromise their device security in exchange for candy (really Facebook, do I have to include you in the stranger danger conversations now?) That has apparently had the side effect of rendering it unusable for its intended purpose of securing applications on their internal network. Serves them right.

  21. NotTimothyGeithner


    We need to think of these deployments as we thought of our Indian Wars, which lasted 300 years, or as the British thought about their deployment on the North West Frontier, which lasted 100 years. US troops are policing the frontiers of the Pax Americana. -Resistance Leader Max Boot

    Le #Resistance strikes again!

  22. freedomny

    Came across two videos re global warming that were eye-opening, sobering, frightening and yet at the same time, somewhat liberating in a weird way. Both these guys seem quite rational and fact driven, which I appreciate since I tend to be more of an emotional/creative type person. I continue to wonder….what do our politicians, elites and others with power think? Do they think they are immune to a planetary die off? I mean, if I’m Jeff Bezos….why even build a 2nd headquarter/s…. surely he knows more than I… right? WTF is the disconnect that is going on here? How do/can we as individuals see and understand “reality” given our choices for information and the behaviors of those who essentially “rule” us?

    FYI trigger warning – we’re talking human species extinction here…



  23. integer

    Re: “Pelosi puts tight grip on talk of Trump impeachment”

    At this point I don’t think the real aim of the Mueller investigation has ever been to impeach Trump. Rather, the plan appears to have always been to manufacture a drawn-out investigation – the longer the better – that would result in a steady drip of indictments – be they for process crimes or ham sandwiches – for the purpose of casting a shadow of illegitimacy over the Trump presidency. This approach a) boxed Trump in on matters related to foreign policy, especially with regard to rapprochement with Russia, and never allowed him to become fully comfortable in his role as president in general, b) prevented any serious discourse about election interference by the CIA, FBI, and MI6, as well as by other nations such as Israel and Ukraine, from occurring, and c) gave the leaders of the CIA and FBI, whose integrity had been challenged by Trump on multiple occasions, a chance to demonstrate their primacy in the U.S. political system.

    Remember Chuck Schumer’s “six ways from Sunday” comment?

  24. MartyH

    Just a note on teh “soft coup” theme. I’m surprised to see NC even mentioning such a “conspiracy theory.” In the case of Trump, there is more than a little published evidence that the US, UK, and Australian intelligence community were cooperating to squash Mr. Trump. Oh, but the puclications weren’t the NYTimes, WaPo, CNBC, …

    Oh well, then I suppose we aren’t suppose to think there’s anything to see.

    1. Skip Intro

      Meanwhile, I was wondering if the soft coup wasn’t orchestrated earlier, and thus includes the paleo-color-revolution ‘Brooks Brothers Riot’ that suspended democracy in FL in Dec. 2000, and of course the wet dream of the neocons in Sept. 2001.

  25. Procopius

    Ref: Eating Billionaires: I have always loved the story from Barbara Tuchman that Al Franken used in his book:

    In her book A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous Fourteenth Century, Barbara Tuchman writes about a peasant revolt in 1358 that began in the village of St. Leu and spread throughout the Oise Valley. At one estate, the serfs sacked the manor house, killed the knight, and roasted him on a spit in front of his wife and kids. Then, after ten or twelve peasants violated the lady, with the children still watching, they forced her to eat the roasted flesh of her dead husband and then killed her.
    That is class warfare.
    Arguing over the optimum marginal tax rate for the top one percent is not.”

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