2:00PM Water Cooler 2/15/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Once again patient readers, I had an email debacle where Yahoo decided to bounce the Water Cooler links I sent to myself, and so I had to spend too much time straightening that out. More shortly. –lambert UPDATE 2:30PM All done!


“US-China trade talks: Steven Mnuchin positive after ‘productive meetings'” [South China Morning Post]. “The WeChat public account Taoran Notes said in a report on Friday that although there was limited information coming out of the closed-door talks, negotiations had been extended until late at night. Taoran is the account of a senior member of editorial staff at the state-run Economic Daily, and the article was republished by state broadcaster CCTV and the Communist Party’s official mouthpiece People’s Daily. ‘There was laughter coming out of the venue,’ the report said. ‘Not only is there a good atmosphere, but the working groups from both sides reportedly worked late, exchanging views all night. There must be things to discuss to keep discussions going so late.'”


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


Harris: “Harris scores big CBC endorsement in Barbara Lee” [CNN]. “Kamala Harris just picked up her biggest endorsement to date in her fledgling 2020 campaign: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, former Congressional Black Caucus chair and all-around anti-war and social justice activist star. Lee, who has been called ‘the House’s lefty conscience’ will be California co-chair of Harris’ presidential campaign. ‘Watching Kamala’s career in the East Bay and San Francisco for 20 years, I’ve witnessed her deep passion for justice and opportunity and I know she will be a president truly of the people, by the people, and for the people,’ Lee said in a statement obtained exclusively by CNN.” • Still no policies tab on Harris’s site, last I checked…

Buttigieg: “Pete Buttigieg is running for president. Also, he’s gay.” [Matt Bai, Yahoo News]. “Rebutting the political theorist Francis Fukuyama in Foreign Affairs (an odd place for this debate, but such is the state of our politics), Stacey Abrams, the almost-governor of Georgia, offered an eloquent and much-praised defense of identity politics, arguing that the Democratic Party ought to mainly be a place where marginalized groups can amplify their collective power…. As it happens, Buttigieg was an undergraduate at Harvard when I taught a seminar there about 17 years ago.” • So there you have it. Oh, and a takedown of that Abrams piece is something I didn’t have time to get around to this week. I see I now have to do it; it’s propagating among the cognoscenti.

Brown: “Iowa farmers teach Sherrod Brown a lesson on running in the rurals” [Cleveland Plain Dealer]. “‘Senator, excuse me for interrupting. You might win the caucuses talking about tariffs and ethanol, but you’re not going to win rural voters,’ Varley said. ‘Rural voters are upset with China, as they should be. Long before this deal with phone technology, we had Chinese stealing seeds from Pioneer. This goes back a long ways. You’ve got to talk about economic concentration and the effect that’s having on farmers in particular, but rural communities in general. That’s what’s really grinding farmers.'” • Weirdly, “seeds from Pioneer,” means GMO seeds from DuPont. Not a concentration issue?

Debate criteria. Two nights (!). Thread:

“2020 Democrats split on spending deal” [Politico]. “Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, Kamala Harris of California, and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts — who largely form the progressive wing of the party’s 2020 hopefuls — voted against the bill, which included $1.375 billion for barriers on the southern border. ‘This is ridiculous,” Harris said. ‘I have opposed every effort to build the wall because the American people should not have to pay for the president’s vanity project. We don’t need it.’ But Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont broke from the liberal pack, voting in favor of the legislation. In a statement, Sanders, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he ‘cannot turn my back on the two million federal employees and private contract workers who would be forced, again, to work without pay.'” • And there you have it. eh? The difference between liberal and left. (And should help Sanders in the DMV area, too.)

“How Does the “Blue Wall” Look for 2020?” [Cook Political Report]. “There’s something of a consensus forming that the ‘easiest’ or least risky electoral path for the Democratic nominee in 2020 is to reconstruct the so-called “Blue Wall” in the industrial midwest. If the Democratic nominee wins every state Hillary Clinton carried in 2016, plus Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan, that Democrat would win 278 electoral votes — eight more than the 270 needed to win. Just as important, it means that Democrats wouldn’t need to sweat Ohio or Florida. They can lose those big, electoral-vote-rich states, and still have enough to win the White House.”

New Cold War



UPDATE “The Most Important New Woman in Congress Is Not Who You Think” [Politico]. “If there’s a Venn diagram of how Democrats wrested control of the House from Republicans —women, veterans, flipped districts in more affluent, more educated suburban terrain—smack at the center is Rebecca Michelle Sherrill: former Navy helicopter pilot, former federal prosecutor, mother of four (13, 11, 9 and 6).” • Her district, NJ-11, is one of the wealthiest districts in the United States.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Philly Ignores Cybersecurity and Disability Access in Voting System Selection” [WhoWhatWhy]. “The three-member commission appears poised to select as Philadelphia’s primary voting system the ExpressVote XL ballot-marking device, which the state of Pennsylvania has panned — on the issue of disability acces Procuring such a system would fly in the face of the consensus opinion among independent cybersecurity election experts, who recommend hand-marked paper ballots (counted on scanners or by hand) for most voters, not ballot-marking devices.” • Awful details.

“DSA Condemns Pelosi and Trump Budget Bargain” [DSA]. “After airport workers threatened a strike and brought Trump to his knees last month, and as they threatened to do so again this coming Saturday, Pelosi has capitulated to his anti-immigrant hysteria and agreed to increases for immigration enforcement… The flight attendants’ union called for a general strike this Saturday and has shown the power of organized workers, since the bargain struck includes less funding than was passed by Congress at the end of 2019.” • If this implies that the airport workers are going to stage a general strike over immigration, I don’t think things are at that point.

Stats Watch

Industrial Production, January 2019: “A downside manufacturing reversal from an oversized December gain pulled down industrial production volumes [sharply,] outside Econoday’s low estimate” [Econoday]. “This report isn’t as bad as it looks and averaging December and January together points to modest but still positive activity for the industrial sector. Nevertheless recent economic indications — outside of the labor market which remains very strong — have been moderating and pointing to easing momentum early in 2019.” And but: “There was upward revision to the last 6 monthys of data. The best way to view this is the 3 month rolling averages which declined marginally. Industrial production remains in a short term down trend” [Econintersect]. “Note that manufacturing significantly declined. Manufacturing employment rate of growth is accelerating year-over-year.”

Empire State Mfg Survey, February 2019: “February’s Empire State report is very positive pointing to solid and sustainable growth. New orders more than doubled” [Econoday]. “The last couple of years have seen very strong readings through most of the regional and private manufacturing reports though slowing did appear and clearly so going into year-end last year. Stability for these reports, such as the high single digits for Empire State’s headline, would be a welcome pace for this year’s manufacturing sector.” • Data and surveys at odds again. And: “With both the main index and key indices improviing, this was a better report than last month” [Econintersect].

Consumer Sentiment, February 2019 (Preliminary): “The government shutdown pulled consumer sentiment lower and the reopening has helped reverse some of January’s weakness” [Econoday]. “These inflation readings are unusually weak and together with a similar decline in inflation expectations on the business side released Wednesday are certain to make Federal Reserve policy makers comfortable with their shift to wait-and-see monetary policy.”

Import and Export Prices, January 2019: “This week’s inflation data have been soft and none softer than January’s import & export price report where both headlines came in well below forecasts” [Econoday]. “The price weakness for finished goods has been a repeated indication in this report and a general indication that price pressures on the global level remain soft.” And: “Month-over-month price index for fuel imports decreased (and non-fuel imports was unchanged) – and the price index for agricultural exports increased” [Econintersect].

Retail: “Reverse Sticker Shock? No Inflation for New Vehicles for 22 Years, Says Consumer Price Index, as Taurus Prices Soared 55%” [Wolf Street (EM)]. • “Hedonic quality adjustments….”

Tech: “Google Is the Biggest Factor Behind Apple’s Services Revenue Growth” [Motley Fool]. “It’s no secret Alphabet subsidiary Google pays a lot of money to remain the default search engine across Apple devices. Last year, the company paid around $9.4 billion to Apple, according to Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall. That number will climb above $12 billion this year.” • I dunno. Applie — assuming that there’s nothing new in the works after the iPhone, robot cars having proved to be a dry hole — seems to have made two very big bets: China (market and supply chain), and Google. Does Apple control its own destiny?

The Biosphere

“Wall Street wants an infrastructure plan, but the Green New Deal isn’t it” [CNN]. “‘We have trillions of dollars of sunk costs in the current economy,’ [the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center] says. ‘You don’t accelerate the future by messing up the present.'”

“The Nuclear Option” [City Lab]. “[G]rid resiliency is vital for national security. The argument goes like this: the boom in subsidized wind and solar, along with the fall in natural-gas prices, is driving many coal and nuclear plants out of business. That threatens to leave the power grid largely dependent on natural gas during lulls in wind or solar power output. But gas-fired power plants rely on a steady flow of natural gas through a relatively small number of interstate pipelines. These pipelines are vulnerable to hacking and breakdowns. If hackers or technical glitches managed to knock out several pipelines at once, entire regions of the country could fall into crisis. In contrast, coal and nuclear plants are able to store fuel on-site, making them excellent backup power sources in an emergency. • A continued topic of discussion.

“1st contact made with melted nuclear fuel at Fukushima plant” [Asahi Shimbun]. “The rod-like probe, fitted with 3-centimeter-long claws, lifted pieces of the nuclear fuel debris during the eight-hour operation at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor at the plant, the utility said. Data obtained through the investigation, such as the hardness, temperature and radioactivity of the debris, will be used to develop equipment and containers for the eventual removal of the melted fuel. The probe, which was recovered after the investigation, also took pictures of the inside of the containment vessel. No debris was taken outside the reactor, according to TEPCO. The retrieval process will start in earnest at one of the reactors in 2021.”

“Bavarian conservatives forced to go green as wildlife campaign breaks records” [Global Handelsblatt]. “A record 1.7 million people in the southern state signed the petition, called ‘Save the Bees,’ in just two weeks. The organizers, the Ecological Democratic Party, or ÖDP, comfortably beat their 1-million signature target, or 10 percent of voters. Because the threshold was passed ahead of a mid-week deadline, the state’s conservative government is forced to act. Under Bavarian state law, the ruling coalition, led by the right-wing Christian Social Union, must put forward a cross-party bill and organize a referendum in the next six months…. The four-page document calls for detailed amendments to Bavaria’s nature protection laws and for fundamental changes to farming practices in the state. One such amendment demands an increase in the share of organic farmland to 30 percent by 2030, from just 10 percent today. Non-organic farmers will be forced to reduce their use of pesticides. The petition also requires all farmers to create more diverse habitats within their agricultural holdings, to better support wildlife.”

“China blocks new solar in 3 NW regions amid overcapacity fears” [Reuters]. “China’s energy regulator will block new solar power projects in far western Gansu, Xinjiang and Tibet this year after the regions reached their capacity limits, it said in a notice late on Thursday. China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) declared a “red alert” in the three regions, making use of a warning system designed to improve the “rhythm” of construction and prevent new plants from standing idle because they were unable to gain access to the power grid.”

“French Town Becomes a Focal Point in War over Water” [Der Spiegel]. “Vittel is a town in eastern France with hot springs and 5,000 inhabitants. The town has become a microcosm for a global conflict over the ownership of water. The water table from which Vittel’s inhabitants obtain their own drinking water is sinking dramatically. In 2017, 830,000 cubic meters (219 million gallons) disappeared. Nestlé was responsible for extracting 740,000 cubic meters of that water, which is sold in Europe, including Germany. Nestlé is the world’s largest food and beverage corporation, and water is a big business, one that spurs protests around the globe. Critics claim that Nestlé profits from the fact that some people are no longer able to access clean drinking water from their taps. Some argue the company may even be causing that shortage, only to turn around and sell its own brand of water to people in a plastic bottle.” • Just like Poland Spring.

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Sports store is forced to close after owner’s Nike-Colin Kaepernick protest backfires” [USA Today]. “Nike’s 2018 ‘Just Do It’ campaign, which featured Colin Kaepernick, drew competing reactions from both sides of the political spectrum when it debuted last fall. For Colorado Springs’ Prime Time Sports owner Stephen Martin, it meant dropping all Nike gear. Now, his store is closing. ‘Being a sports store without Nike is kind of like being a milk store without milk or a gas station without gas. How do you do it? They have a monopoly on jerseys,’ Martin told koaa.com. ‘As much as I hate to admit this, perhaps there are more Brandon Marshall and Colin Kaepernick supporters out there than I realized,’ he said.”

Health Care

“Medical Bankruptcy: Still Common Despite the Affordable Care Act” [American Journal of Public Health]. From the associated press release: “Medical problems contributed to 66.5% of all bankruptcies, a figure that is virtually unchanged since before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), according to a study published yesterday as an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health. The findings indicate that 530,000 families suffer bankruptcies each year that are linked to illness or medical bills…, The responses also did not differ depending on whether the respondent resided in a state that had accepted ACA’s Medicaid expansion.” n = 910. More: “The researchers noted that bankruptcy is most common among middle-class Americans, who have faced increasing copayments and deductibles in recent years despite the ACA. The poor, who were most helped by the ACA, less frequently seek formal bankruptcy relief because they have few assets (such as a home) to protect and face particular difficulty in securing the legal help needed to navigate formal bankruptcy proceedings.” • These are the voters who supposedly love their private health insurance…

“The Only Guide to ‘Medicare for All’ That You Will Ever Need” [Splinter News]. “A strong series of budgetary tools lets Jayapal’s single-payer program keep providers on a tight leash. One tool is global budgeting, or the advance determination of the national healthcare budget, which is used to set baseline budget agreements for the year and pay hospitals in guaranteed blanket sums based on expected activity. By saying, “last year you spent $2 million dollars, and we can pretty reasonably predict that this year you’ll need $2.1 million dollars for all your services,” the single payer can pay hospitals fairly while minimizing the hospital’s ability to rack up line items and gouge the government. Further tools include prohibitions on providers using single-payer payments for profit, union-busting, marketing, or federal campaign contributions. A single payer cannot remove profit from healthcare on its own (nor could an American NHS), but at least we can give it the muscle to spar with its worst monsters on equal footing.” • This is a good wrap-up.

Police State Watch

“Academics Confirm Major Predictive Policing Algorithm is Fundamentally Flawed” [Vice]. “Basically, PredPol takes an average of where arrests have already happened, and tells police to go back there. The academic foundation for PredPol’s software takes a statistical modeling method used to predict earthquakes and apply it to crime. Much like how earthquakes are likely to appear in similar places, the papers argue, crimes are also likely to occur in similar places…. In other words, we can assume that we’ll gather data about any earthquake that happens, anywhere on Earth. But in the case of crime, a number of factors affect our criminological data. For instance, some communities are more likely to call the cops than others, and some crimes are more likely to go unreported than others. Also, cops have a lot of individual leeway in deciding whether or not to arrest someone. … When a tool like PredPol tells police where to go, crime data starts to be affected by PredPol itself, creating a self-reinforcing feedback loop.”

“Amazon Ring Teaming Up With Police in War on ‘Dirtbag Criminals'” [The Intercept]. “But Ring stands alone as a tech company for which hyperconnected vigilance isn’t just a byproduct, but the product itself — an avowed attempt to merge 24/7 video, ubiquitous computer sensors, and facial recognition, and deliver it to local police on a platter. It’s no surprise then that police departments from Bradenton, Florida, to Los Angeles have leapt to “partner” with Ring. Research showing that Ring’s claims of criminal deterrence are at the very least overblown don’t seem to have hampered sales or police enthusiasm for such partnerships….. A Ring video that appears to have been produced for police reveals that the company has gone out of its way to build a bespoke portal for law enforcement officers who want access to the enormous volume of residential surveillance footage generated by customers’ cameras.” • Ugh. And this, OMG: “Ring cameras are designed and sold to be placed not only outside you front door or garage, but inside your home too. ” • Peak Amazon can’t come too soon for me! (I debunked “package theft,” which Amazon has some sort of organic business case for, but this is super-nasty. One wonders if there’s an, er, synergy between RIng cameras and Alexa.

“Is the Answer to Crime More Cops?” [The Marshall Project]. “Data shows that the raw numbers of police have declined over the past five years, and the rate of police officers per 1,000 residents has been dropping for two decades. At the same time, the violent crime rate has also dropped.” • A case study for police recruiting in Memphis, TN. Apparenlty, there’s a cottage industry of “police staffing consultants.”

“Prison Tech Company Is Questioned for Retaining ‘Voice Prints’ of People Presumed Innocent” [The Appeal]. “In most places, when you are arrested and brought to jail, you give up your wallet, your phone, your street clothes, and your fingerprints, too. But in Fort Bend County, Texas, a few miles outside Houston, there’s something else you must relinquish if you want to use the jail phone: your ‘voice print.’…. But civil liberties advocates say this quiet acquisition of biometric information is particularly problematic in jails because pretrial detainees are presumed innocent. And even if charges are dropped or they are found not guilty, their prints can be retained.” • Why don’t we just go forward on the assumption that Big Data assumes that everybody is guilty until proven innocent. Franz Kafka would be proud.

“Farmington Hills fake university set up by ICE to nab foreign students” [Detroit Free Press]. • Madness. A follow-up article shows 146 arrests for 600 enrollments, and given the givens, how many of those were simply entrapments? Not to mention polluting the well for all U.S. universities.

Class Warfare

“The Denver teachers strike is over. They won.” [Vox]. “[B]ut the deal includes an average 11.7 percent pay raise and annual cost of living increases, according to the school district and the Denver Classroom Teachers Association, a labor union representing more than 5,000 educators in Denver public schools. It will also include raises for school support staff. Bus drivers and cafeteria workers may also get a raise, but that’s not part of the official agreement with the teachers union…. Where will they find the $23 million to pay for this? The district agreed to cut back on administrative costs, and will eliminate about 150 positions in the school’s central office. Five-figure bonuses for senior school administrators will also come to an end.” • Great. Now do this for universities!

“Abolish Billionaires” [Farhad Manjoo, New York Times], “A billion dollars is wildly more than anyone needs, even accounting for life’s most excessive lavishes. It’s far more than anyone might reasonably claim to deserve, however much he believes he has contributed to society. At some level of extreme wealth, money inevitably corrupts. On the left and the right, it buys political power, it silences dissent, it serves primarily to perpetuate ever-greater wealth, often unrelated to any reciprocal social good. For [Tom Scocca — a longtime writer at Gawker], that level is self-evidently somewhere around one billion dollars; beyond that, you’re irredeemable….. if we tolerate the supposedly “good” billionaires in politics, we inevitably leave open the door for the bad ones. And the bad ones will overrun us. When American capitalism sends us its billionaires, it’s not sending its best. It’s sending us people who have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with them.” • I’ve said this before, but let me say it again (and I’m not the only one):

This is a dick pic. “People with lots of problems,” as Manjoo says.

News of the Wired

“The four things that make practically everyone feel loved, according to a new survey” [Quartz]. “Notably, none of those behaviors are associated exclusively with romantic partners—a finding in keeping with the authors’ conclusion that ‘people feel loved in a range of settings much wider than just romantic relationships, which included momentary everyday interactions and experiences with friends, pets, and family.'” • Thank heavens!

“Ursula K. Le Guin’s Daily Routine: The Discipline That Fueled Her Imagination” [Open Culture]. Great quote: “‘Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work,’ said Gustave Flaubert.” • LeGuin’s schedule begins at 5:30am: “wake up and lie there and think.”

“How NASA’s Opportunity Mars Rover Lived So Long” [Space.com] and “Photos From the Opportunity Rover’s Mission on Mars” [New York Times] For example:

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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 (MG):

A Baobab, I believe.

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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. Daryl

    > ‘You don’t accelerate the future by messing up the present.’

    I guess baking the planet isn’t messing up the present, but spending imaginary money is…

    I think the real problem all these Democrats have with the Green New Deal is that somebody is actually trying to make policy, i.e. what government is supposed to do. That’s something they have not been successful at for decades.

    1. notabanker

      I can’t believe they actually said it. This is THE issue.

      ‘We have trillions of dollars of sunk costs in the current economy,’ [the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center] says. ‘You don’t accelerate the future by messing up the present.’”

      1. willf

        “‘We have trillions of dollars of sunk costs in the current economy,’ [the president of the Bipartisan Policy Center] says…

        So the “Sunk Cost” fallacy is bullshit, then? Sunk costs are now a reason to continue the status quo?

        1. The Rev Kev

          A century or more ago the status quo was still mostly horses and the infrastructure in place to support them. If there was a Bipartisan Policy Center back then, would they have tried to stop cars coming into use for messing up ‘the present’?

          1. Carey

            My impression is that Our Elites are going to stonewall and extract rents
            right up until the very end, which appears to be coming soon.

            “who could’ve known?”

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Acceleartion in which direction?

      It seems that messing up now will accelerate us towards the downside, or temperature-wise, the upside.

    3. Summer

      It’s also the insanity of “disrupting all people’s lives now” leads to better future.
      There is that uphill battle for the Green New Deal after the wreckage of the current disruption mania.

      1. False Solace

        Looking at all those volatility voters in the last election, I think a lot of people want things to be disrupted.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Remember, ‘the future’ means next quarter. It’s probably really nice to believe that ignoring an existential problem means it won’t effect you. I think of two-tier labor contracts.

      I recommend that we need a ‘national conversation’ /s about shared reality. I am not interested in having any further conversations about how CO2 effing works with people who think it’s just politics-ball.

      At the moment, Wall Street doesn’t actually believe the enthusiasm among Democrats for the idea of a Green New Deal will result in a government takeover of existing assets, or set free enough public funding to displace private finance, given the political reality in Washington for at least the next two years.

      Gotta agree. That’s like 8 futures from now.

      Aren’t most ‘existing assets’ based on assumptions that are being ‘disrupted’ by peak conventional oil, climate change, ecocide, and ZIRP Capitalism?

    5. AbateMagicThinking But Not Money

      Re “Imaginary money”:

      Money is a social construct, therefore it is all imagined (how else could it become electronic). Re Gold, silver and other such commodities: as long as people equate them with modern money please keep some aside for me – I won’t knock them back.

      The keepers of account are those who really count, and in the final analysis it is the government who are the keepers of account. Generally in the anglosphere the core of politicians seem too ignorant to realize it, or are too stupid to manage accounts, so they have had to default the function to the Fed or Bank of England etc.


      ps Please don’t talk MMT; instead proclaim the Modern Monetary Method.

  2. nippersmom

    The Democratic debates already sound like a fiasco. Candidates “randomly” (by some definition of “random”) divided into two groups to debate on two different nights?

      1. Wukchumni

        Two-up is a traditional Australian gambling game, involving a designated “spinner” throwing two coins or pennies into the air. Players bet on whether the coins will fall with both heads (obverse) up, both tails (reverse) up, or with one coin a head and one a tail (known as “Ewan”).


          1. John

            Remember the old clanking mechanical machines that New York used for 75 years. I suppose there were problems with them, but they would still be working if they had been maintained. If there was vote counting hanky-panky it would have been retail. Now we mark a paper-ish ballot and feed it into a scanner, anyway into a slot. I have no idea what happens after that. Presumably it is all on the up and up. Why don’t I trust this system as I did the clanking mechanical ones of childhood and adult memory?

            1. Mo's Bike Shop

              Because the politicians of that time had some clue about how to protect their phony baloney jobs? Like bringing home some pork?

      2. Bugs Bunny

        Make a special giant roulette wheel. That will make it even more entertaining.

        Or how about a Friday night Lotto thingy with numbered balls in a tube?

        People love that.

        Get that funnyman Stephen Colbert to host.

        I’m on a roll here, doc.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          Are the candidates in the giant roulette wheel, ala Batman? I’m thinking of that Carousel they did in Logan’s Run.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            turns out(cue scary woooo music) that Logans Run just entered the netflix lists.
            half expect Soylent Green to resurface soon.(silent running has been on there for at least a year)
            must prepare the herd.

    1. neo-realist

      I have the impression, which may be obvious to some, that the DNC is enabling the participation of a multiplicity of candidates for the primary purpose of drowning out Bernie Sanders’ voice….and candidacy. If he only had to debate 4 or 5 candidates, it would be easier for him to establish his policy positions, sharply contrast them against the other (neoliberal) candidates, and allow them to resonate with the American People. If Sanders has to compete with 10,15 other candidates in a debate, he may not have the time to contrast his positions against the other candidates, but, instead, may have to spend a lot of time fending off attacks from his fellow candidates (possibly by design.) This would help ensure that a neo-liberal wins the nomination.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Perhaps the Sanders Group ( and the Warren Group and the Gabbard Group) need to have merciless and heartless Opposition Research operations up and running soonest in order to find any and every possible thing to counter-attack the enemy candidates with.
        That way, if an enemy candidate attacks Sanders ( or Warren or Gabbard), then Sanders
        ( or Warren or Gabbard) can napalm that enemy candidate with the relevant bits of Oppo
        Research information.

        Perhaps Sanders, Warren and Gabbard should get together and set up a three-way shared-intelligence Opposition Research infrastructure as being more efficient than three separate such infrastructures.

        ( The other track to the Drown Sanders plan is that the enemy candidates would draw collectively so many delegates that Sanders would not win at the Convention on the first ballot. From the second ballot onward, the Superdelegates would be free to vote and they would keep co-ordinating their votes to keep Sanders defeated long enough to agree on which enemy candidate to nominate.)

        1. sierra7

          After all the comments about the multiple (10-15) Dem candidates debating and intimating they “oppose” Bernie Sanders….I’d like to see also in the replies how these multiple Dems differ with BS policy proposals???? That would be enlightening…to say the least…too many gross statements but no substance. Just saying. (Caveat: a non partisan voter)

      2. nippersdad

        My little game theory works out like this:


        31% D

        With leaners:



        OK, so with twenty people in the D Primaries, there would be three people who could possibly be considered progressives: Warren, Gabbard and Sanders. They have that “lane” to themselves.

        If the idea is to water down the three progressives with a bunch of Blue Dogs and Trojan Horses as the first tier defense of the status quo, all Sanders and Gabbard need do is combine early as a P/VP ticket and leave Warren to wander in the wilderness to wither all by herself. They get their lane to themselves and all the DNC would have achieved is to ensure that the seventeen Trojan Horses get single digits in the polls leaving Sanders and Gabbard to lead the field. Sanders and Gabbard lead in both the debate rankings and grassroots fundraising thus getting premier billing in the debates, and, presumably, win on the first balloting at the convention. Total establishment fail on their parts for having rigged the primaries again.

        If the idea for second tier defense is to use the new rules changes to say that Sanders and Gabbard aren’t “real” Democrats and disqualify them that way, they could then take their show on the road as Indies in competition with the Dems on the left. Again, establishment fail for having obviously split the Party.

        Sanders split the Dems in the ’16 Dem Primaries, getting approx. 46% of the Primary vote. There is no reason why he couldn’t do so again; especially with his now saturated name recognition, the new strength in FP provided by Gabbard and obvious collusion to sideline them. There is no doubt that he could get on the ballot in every state, easily exceeding the new requirements that Bruce Dixon’s analysis of HR1 found, and even if they combine late they could still be write-ins. They might lose a few percentage points because of the write in category, but those angry about the malfeasance of the Dem Party would be motivated to vote in spite of such unorthodox methods. TINA no longer applies in this scenario, and that would add to their numbers right there.

        Trump is a disaster, and in spite of the Republican tendency to come home regardless of the candidate he is going to lose a lot of votes that he had last time when he barely won the popular vote.

        So Sanders/Gabbard now have 13/14% percent of the Dem Electorate and prolly most of the Indies in the leaners category, say 42% vs. the Dems fifteen or 19% vs. Republicans 39% less the people disgusted by Trump. Sanders/Gabbard win in a walk.

        Lot of wishful thinking here, but it is possible and that should scare the pants off of the deep thinkers trying to rig the next Presidential Primary/election.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          To me, the wild card is what the Sanders organization is doing in California. IIRC, they came within a hairsbreadth of winning control of the party post-2016, but since then I haven’t heard much.

          Since California is Harris Country, and this round’s bout of election rigging was to move the California primary early, this would be nice to know. California readers?

          Also, California, unlike Iowa, is enormous and retail politics doesn’t scale. It takes a lot of money to pursue the air war in California. Harris will have it; Sanders (when and if he announces) will have it. Suppose Harris “knocks out” Sanders? The story writes itself….

          1. nippersdad

            Moving California up really was a cheap trick.

            The Primaries there must have been a real education for the electorate. The Democratic Party used so many underhand techniques for suppressing the Sanders vote that a lot of activists are going to be on guard this time. Calling the primary the night before it was run, deliberately making the party affiliations confusing and not counting the provisional ballot would have really pissed off a lot of people, who certainly haven’t forgotten or forgiven. As Sanders has essentially been running ever since the election I think that the latency of his campaign there is going to be felt as soon as he announces. The savings in California are going to come in handy elsewhere.

            Kamala is going to have some stiff competition. California is an expensive state to run in, and judging from the Sanders blackout last time and the messaging system he has since developed to overcome another one, I still think he is the man to beat there.

            2020 is going to be a fascinating campaign season!

            1. tegnost

              re moving primary forward…power grab by the coastal elite? Not so sure the berniecrats can match the nefarious impulses of the upscale class

            2. neo-realist

              Sanders will have to cut Harris to pieces in the debates over a lack of any real agenda, economic, health care, other than throwing red meat whatever audience she is speaking to.

          2. Skip Intro

            Harris may own the CA machine (or vice versa) but she has a record with plenty of baggage in CA, and has made some enemies. I’m not sure she will really be able to claim CA primary voters by default, even if they trick the indies into throwing away their ballots again.

            She is not an Obama-like tabula rasa, but a viciously opportunistic protégé/girlfriend of legendary machine pol Willie Brown. I wonder how her senate-race votes stacked up against Hillary votes in 2016.

  3. j84ustin

    Re: the Wolf Street discussion of inflation, using a Ford Taurus as an example:

    The 1996 Taurus vs. 2019 Taurus is an apples to oranges comparison. The Taurus of the 1990s was killed in the mid 2000s. The nameplate was then resurrected shortly after to the poorly named Ford Five Hundred, a car that was in an entirely different class (midsize to large car). The Ford Five Hundred became the Ford Taurus, with no relation to the former Ford Taurus.

    So of course the price increased 55% between 1996 and 2019 – it wasn’t even in the same vehicle class in 2019 as it was in 1996.

  4. ChrisAtRU


    In time for March Madness? ;-)

    Having a laugh at the “maximum 20” field proposition, but maybe a little bracketology wouldn’t be bad.

    RoundOf16 –> QuarterFinals –> SemiFinals –> Finals

    The seeding could be poll-based, or maybe we could throw the super delegates a bone, and let them decide. Hahahaha!


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve had it suggested that we should set up a pool for the Democratic primaries. On the one hand, it might be fun. On the other, I don’t know if we want to encourage horse-race thinking more than we already are. On the third, I don’t want picks to be gamed (as with like buttons). But I’m also ignorant, having never participated in an office pool. Readers, thoughts?

      1. laughingsong

        I would prefer a satire á la Spike Jones’ Beetlebomb. :-) You know, some take-off on:

        Stooge Hand is still in front (who wouldn’t be Stooge Hand in the Dem Party?)
        Cabbage is second by a head
        Beautiful Linda is third
        And … Beetlebomb

        Into the back stretch
        Dog Biscuit is now leading the pack
        Lady Evelyn is second, very close
        Banana is coming up through the bunch
        And … Beetlebomb

        At the half
        Stooge Hand still out in front
        Assault is passing Battery . . .

      2. Unna

        Great idea, and fun. Let readers go on record with predictions, what not, and provide a link for people to go see. Maybe comment. The prediction should be based on a rationale, policies to demographics etc. And I don’t think this crowd is particularly horse race crazy when it comes to elections so that’s not a problem. I’ve never done an office pool myself because I don’t know anything about the sports that people bet on. And betting for money on anything makes me uneasy anyway. This would be more of a prediction exercise which is something very different.

      3. The Rev Kev

        Might be better to do it in two stages. The first is where you bet on who will flame out to become a whatever-happened-to-so-and-so. Sort of like applying a narrow-band filter to reduce some of the deliberately imposed static. The second is where you can get serious as to who is left in the field.

        1. tegnost

          I agree that it would be nice to have multiple choices, is there any software or format out there that can make that easy enough to get the predictions in and catalog them?

      4. richard

        I like to wager. Don’t other countries (the brits at least) bet on elections?
        I mean, not a lot, just enough to make it sporting.
        There’s all sorts of book you could make:
        the next one out, obviously
        state by state
        counties for those who wanna get all granular
        then like a pool for delegate totals
        a seperate pool for each candidate
        warning: this will only be fun if it has a happy ending
        if joe biden wins there goes my retirement
        in more ways than one:)

  5. katz

    Wall Street wants an infrastructure plan, but the Green New Deal isn’t it

    “For many investors, the most disappointing part of the Green New Deal is what it doesn’t include: A promise to strip away regulations, such as environmental reviews that can drag out approvals and throw unexpected obstacles in the path of new projects.”

    “Investors feel the Green New Deal could be improved if it was private and not green.”

    My poor brain.

  6. wordguy

    I’m glad I’m not the only one reading the Amazon logo that way. Lots of money goes into these things, they are not accidental.

    Amazon reveals itself:

    The very name, a fecund region for total exploitation.

    The Kindle–not so sly reference to book(store) burning.

    1. Alfred

      I hate to see subliminal messaging everywhere, largely because my education in art more than anything else made me skeptical of both perception’s tricks and art’s persuasive power. Therefore I have thought long about the Amazon logo. I have toyed with, but rejected, the conjecture that it represents a great river (of merchandise) forming a delta where it empties into the sea (of sales). I have canvassed several of my friends. One tells me it’s a happy customer’s smile and the resulting dimple in his or her cheek. Another tells me that it’s an arrow signifying ‘fast home delivery’. But those are minority views. Although there is some validity to the arrow hypothesis, the consensus is that it we do have here a “dick pic.” So (like you, wordguy) I conclude that (a) it is indeed a “dick pic” and (b) its ithyphallicism is indeed intentional. I observe, however, that the logo does not consist simply of the two-part abstract design in which people readily see a penis. It consists instead of that design plus the word ‘amazon’ placed in a particular position above it. Moreover, the ambiguous rendering of the design per se, so that it primarily suggests a phallus but secondarily an arrow, ‘activates’ the phallus shape. That ambiguity turns the design into a dynamic phallus, one that moves through space as an arrow toward a target, hence one that thrusts home. And the relationship achieved between abstraction and text is such that that dynamic phallus is discovered aimed directly toward the void at the center of the now obviously vaginal ‘o’ in ‘amazon’. I’d say that that relationship of graphic shape to textual message in the hybrid image that constitutes the amazon logo clinches the phallic interpretation of its graphic component. I finally theorize that the logo ‘works’ by associating the satisfaction of sexual desire with shopping, thus ideologically distorting active eroticism (viz., creativity) into passive acquisition (the consumption of created things).

      1. crittermom

        I’d always understood it to mean ‘everything from A to Z’, in the way the arrow begins at A & ends at Z.

        Ever since Jeff’s ‘below-the-belt exposure’, however, I’ll never see it the same way again. *moan*

        1. Alfred

          I thank you for this reading of the logo, which I had never known before, nor had perceived myself. The long crescent does in fact resemble a copy-editor’s instruction to ‘close the gap’ between A and Z, so makes it count as an inducement to buy everything in the whole range of options. But the separate arrowhead (or, to stick with the corrective metaphor at hand, the proofreader’s caret) points _beyond_ Z, thereby suggesting how amazon.com ‘aims’ to surpass the limitations of all preceding scopes of commerce. Your interpretation is certainly valid, crittermom; yet it does not invalidate any of the numerous others that are possible. A caret locates something to be _inserted_ into a void; hence it is also an arrowhead just as that arrowhead is a glans penis, for example, and the ‘home’ into which the last aspires to be inserted is the ‘dimple’ in a delta (of Venus). That caret might even be, too, the normally unseen hand of the market exposing itself, at the end of one arm of innovation, in a grab for some heretofore unobtainable prize floating in cyberspace. (Eros again!) Interpretations accumulate rather than exclude each other. All very effective designs are multi-valent; they seem to, and do, mean several different things simultaneously. Thus they can appeal in different ways to different sensibilities. (Expansion accomplished.)

      2. Mo's Bike Shop

        It consists instead of that design plus the word ‘amazon’ placed in a particular position above it. Moreover, the ambiguous rendering of the design per se, so that it primarily suggests a phallus but secondarily an arrow, ‘activates’ the phallus shape. That ambiguity turns the design into a dynamic phallus, one that moves through space as an arrow toward a target, hence one that thrusts home.

        Does some STEM grad want to top that?

        Has anyone compared the Amazon shopping experience to perusing dick pix yet? Because it is not just an online Sears & Roebucks. Amazon’s Choice is nothing even romotely like Kenmore. At least when I go to Walmart (last time three years ago, lighting like Joe vs the Volcano) there aren’t freelance scammers on every aisle.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I’m going to have to disagree, because so many Billionaires are making that money on shitty business models. /smile

    1. integer

      Thanks for that link. The fact that an Ex-NATO Secretary-General is now working as an advisor to the Poroshenko government tells one all they need to know about the real purpose of NATO. Along with his Ukraine gig, Rasmussen has his own NATO-aligned non-profit organisation called the Alliance of Democracies:

      The Alliance of Democracies foundation is a non-profit organisation dedicated to the advancement of democracy and free markets across the globe. It was established in December 2017 by former NATO Secretary General and former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen together with businessman Fritz Schur and lawyer Klaus Søgaard.

      According to its founder, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the United States is retreating form the world stage, leaving behind a vacuum that is filled by autocrats like Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, and Bashar al-Assad. Democracy is under pressure from protectionism, populism, nationalism, terrorism, and autocracy. Against this backdrop, the Alliance of Democracies foundation seeks to unite world democracies. According to Rasmussen, the new alliance of democracies would not be a new U.N. but rather an organisation that would supplement it.

      On a somewhat related note, here’s an interesting document I came across the other day which details the scope of influence that Open Society Foundation has on European Parliament:

      Reliable allies in the European Parliament (2014 – 2019) Open Society European Policy Institute

      This mapping provides the Open Society European Policy Institute and the Open Society network intelligence on Members of the 8th European Parliament likely to support Open Society values during the 2014–2019 legislature. It spans 11 committees and 26 delegations, as well as the European Parliament’s highest decision-making bodies: 226 MEPs who are proven or likely Open Society allies. The presence of an MEP in this mapping indicates that they are likely to support Open Society’s work. They should be approached with an open mind: although they will most likely want to work on areas they’re already interested in, they could also welcome hearing about new issues. Beyond discussing individual topics, Open Society should seek to build lasting and trustworthy relationships with these European lawmakers.

      It’s really no wonder that Europeans are increasingly rejecting the liberal international order’s agenda of austerity for the working class combined with ever-increasing levels of immigration, and moving towards populism.

    1. JohnnyGL

      There’s wasn’t a good choice on offer. He chose the least-bad option.

      A better question is, “was the shutdown necessary to get to a final deal of $1bn for the wall?”

      I think Pelosi didn’t really care about the deal, she just wanted to get Trump to over-reach, own the shutdown, and give his approval ratings a little whack. She got what she wanted…..even if the cost was a two month fiscal water-boarding of govt employees.

    2. Pat

      Funny how American workers are of so little importance to Democrats except as talking points. here they get to be hostages to political gamesmanship by the most disliked people in America (the President and Congress).

      1. dcblogger

        why are Democrats being blamed? Trump did this, flat out. It is why you should never vote for a Republican. If you don’t like Democrats, fine, there are other choices on the ballot, but never vote for a Republican.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          I voted Republican once. I was a poll worker during a Republican runoff, so, WTH, voted against the most evil ones. Didn’t change the outcome at all as I do live in Alabamistan, but two things happened:

          a) the other poll workers now think I’m a Republican. Visually, I guess, I do sorta fit the profile. Doesn’t mean I want to hear about their “heroics” flying an F100 on napalm runs.

          b) I get a bunch of mailers, screaming that “President Trump needs your help!!!” (or some such nonsense). These go straight into the recycle bin, never to enter my house.

        2. Kurtismayfield

          Democrats could have refused to vote for just certain federal workers getting paid last time, and could have actually taken a stance for “All workers or none”. That would be the best possible way to draw a line in the sand… But of course they took the “Military, FBI, and their own assistants are better people” stance.

          1. Expat2uruguay

            Perhaps Democrats did not want there to be a successful strike that would show the power of the airline workers.

            1. nippersdad

              I read that the bill doesn’t include back pay for federal contractors. IIRC there are about 500,000 of them that will never see a paycheck for that month. These are largely people at the bottom of the wage scale, and therefore those who were going to be hurt the most.

              I think you’ve got it right here. Were she to allow the unions to become the heroes it would do bad things for her caucus’ voting record, it would empower those with the ability to strike to do so again, and that is something that Pelosi could never countenance.

        3. Carery

          Voted straight R-ticket in the midterms here in CA-24, my first time ever voting
          for Republicans. Won’t improve policy directly, but might diminish Dollar Dems’ meal ticket over the medium and long term.

          sorry for the unintended alliteration.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      I am sure Bernie voted right. He voted to prevent impoverishment and bankruptcy among federal workers who have been brought to the brink of impoverishment and bankruptcy through having their meager savings consumed and forced close to default on many loans.

      Of course a non-federal worker in no personal danger from a federal shut down would not have to care about that. And would not care about that, of course.

      Never vote Republican? Sometimes it is necessary to vote Republican if the Democrat is so vile and filthy and evil that its victory can not be tolerated or even countenanced. The Trump versus Clinton election was one such election.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Sometimes it is necessary to vote Republican if the Democrat is so vile and filthy and evil that its victory can not be tolerated or even countenanced.

        Somewhere in my travels I saw: “Your vote isn’t a valentine. It’s a chess move.”

        I’m not an accelerationist, “worse-is-better”-type guy. That said, with a Clinton presidency, you would not get:

        • AOC/Ilhan Omar
        • DSA
        • Sunrise Movement
        • Policy initiatives like GND, #MedicareForAll
        • Sanders in campaign, not legislator, mode

        because it’s the Democrat Party’s function to prevent such awkwardnesses. These things may or may not be worth the price. If you believe that neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans will prevent, and will in fact encourage, our slide toward an authoritarian Constitutional order, and that only a resurgent left can arrest that, then the price could end up being worth it.

        1. johnnygl

          You forgot the worst bits…

          1) war in syria to defend al qaeda

          2) the russia-gate red scare stuff would have been MUCH worse. Imagine maddow and rep schiff with full backing of the executive branch, with brennan and clapper stil calling the shots in intel world. It would have been a horrifying inquisition. They might have tried to whack SS, too. Repubs would have had wind at their backs for 2018.

          With hindsight, i think clinton was worse than we thought. At least with trump, the elites are fighting each other a little bit (but not much).

    4. richard

      I think he did. The wall! Trump had a majority and could have had the wall anytime he wanted 17 or 18. He decided tax cuts for the rich was a bigger priority. The wall is nothing, literally, as an issue. For all his bluster, Trump doesn’t even care if he gets anywhere with it. It’s red meat for his base, like russiarussiarussia for the dems (their true, served base: the credentialed 10%): it helps no one, and it serves no one. Not only do we not need a wall, or have even have an “immigration problem”, but what a tiny, tiny thing for us to obsess on. Most libs don’t mind as much, because they can virtue pose, and look like apollo next to trump. But sanders doesn’t do that; his gains no advantage from that pose. He’d rather serve the workers, and make sure they don’t get taken hostage again.

      1. bstamerjon

        The democrats coulda done a raise taxes on the wealthy to fund the wall (if Trump FAILED to negotiate Mexico paying for it), but, nah. Might upset some wealthy donors.

  7. RopeADope

    Barbara Lee is a plot device to advance the rollback of the David Addington imperial presidency. If she fails to lead the way on this or the Democrats do not back her on this task then her endorsement for Harris is not worth much.

    The 2020 Presidency and Senate majority will be won by repudiating Reaganism. The problem is so few Democrats today understand the economics and psychology behind it. Even widely respected Nomi Prims has not wrapped her noggin around what it entails, such is the elegant genius of the programming that was done to America post Nixon shock.

    1. Oso

      you read far too much into it. Barbara Lee after redistricting has far more white liberals as her constituency so has to toe the conservative party line now. hence endorsing harris this early.

        1. johnnygl

          CA dems have united and closed ranks very quickly around harris. Lee seems like she isn’t interested in swimming against the tide.

        2. johnnygl

          I think the lefty insurgents know full well that lee isn’t really some kind of hero for them. Backing her was an attempt to find a vehicle to advance their own power and agenda. If the left can push lee’s career forward, then lee owes them something and has to pay them back.

          Lee never volunteered to be a lefty hero, it’s not even clear she really wants to go left all that much.

          What the left needs is a path towards power within the party. That’s not going to come from insider jockeying and negotiations (mostly, but there have been some wins there). We need more wins in congressional primaries.

          More incumbent scalps, please!

  8. alex morfesis

    off topic new topic alex needs some help…having hidden under a fig tree and gotten too plump and soft for more or less a decade, it is time to step back into the boxing shorts…yes, this past decade was me actually relaxing…so…suntrust and bb&t have decided to laugh all the way to the bank…except there is this minor detail known as the community reinvestment act and the comment period which stands in the way of the champagne…and bonuses…

    have been (family blogging) gobsmacked at how regulators have given out satisfactory and outstanding ratings to bankers who just plain hate poor people…and just want them to just go die off and disappear…am working on a solid core of organizations here in St Pete to laugh at the notion suntrust is satisfactory and BB&T is ? outstanding ?…outstanding ?? are you (family blogging) out of your minds ??…and that will be bounced back as annoying greek cuban guy helping annoying black folks who did not get the memo they are just supposed to move out of st pete and go somewhere else…all 50 thousand of them…

    but…evil genius noticed that BB&T is the largest bank in West Virginia…coal country…emperor distraktos favorite props and photo op actors…since I can not ask Tennessee Earnie Ford for some real folks…hope the great commenterati of this here worlds greatest resource can direct me to real west virginia grassroots organizations trying to make a better local life for their fellow indentured servants…not the ones with the best looking web site or ties to the usual high profile fake grassroots teflon organizations…

    methinks focusing on how in the (family blogging) hell can regulators give BB&T an outstanding rating considering their continuation of the company store mentality which keeps folks from West Virginia down…am borderline thinking of asking the inspector general at the fed to look into this rating…it is inconceivable that they earned it without baksheesh…

    the interesting part is there is a woman at the fed who has been the central point of contact for both of these two at one point in the last decade…and did not see anything wrong with their fake and shake CRA activities…and of course she got a nice promotion along the way and gets to watch over others who ignore the Legally required enforcement of the CRA…bb&t on their website misleading state the CRA is a rule that “encourages” banks to…

    sorry…the only time the word “encourages” is in the law is to remind “regulators” that they are encouraged to use their powers to “enforce” the law….

    maybe there is an FTC false marketing part to this issue…

    anyway…enough said…and not to include more work for the krewe that keeps this wonderful sight going…but they know how to get you my contact info if you would prefer to do this offline…although I am not hard to find…this is more or less my real name…just not the guy in the northeast with the same ish name…

    thanks for any suggestions…

    1. notabanker

      Having some first hand experience with bank mergers, the community orgs are already in line for the handouts to support the merger at the CRA hearings. Local minority/community leaders and key politicians are way ahead of this already. They will make a lot of noise before then to make sure they get the best deal possible, but in the end they have no intention of stopping the merger. They’ll get promises to loan for affordable housing, commitments to spend with minority businesses (that already fits within goals), political support to finance some pet projects and probably some local job commitments to go along with the thousands of pages already complied on how each of those institutions contribute magnificently to the communities they serve.

      In short, be careful who you choose to fight this battle with. There will be a lot of ‘activists’ that will swing their support to the banks once they know they’ve gotten the best deal they can get, and the banks will lean on them to clear the hurdle.

      BofA and Wells built those banks on literally hundreds of mergers. There is a ton of expertise in BBT and ST’s backyard, and many of their execs and management teams came from there. There is also plenty of one time merger expense money to burn on consultants. I’m sure they will play this game well.

      1. Alex morfesis

        Not my first time at the rodeo… Already have the largest Teflon cra bank friendly group in check locally…

  9. shinola

    I find that a lot of people have trouble conceptualizing just how much a billion dollars is so I’ve found it helpful to put it this way:

    If you had a billion dollars, you could spend a million dollars a month for over 83 years(!)

    Most can grasp that.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What is the point, if having billions, they can’t live to be at least 200 years old?

      At that rate of spending, there is a need to loot harder, in order to accumulate, to be conservative, or rather, safe, at the minimum, $3 billion.

    2. Robert McGregor

      Good point shinola, but a billionaire is even richer than that! Your idea is that if you have a billion dollars, then you could spend a million each month for 1000 months or 83 years and 4 months. But in fact, that billion dollars ACCRUES INTEREST! If we use a moderate, conservative investment yield rate of 5% per year, then that billion accrues interest of $50 million per year !!! 50 million divided by 12 months in a year equals $4.17 million per month!! So the billionaire could spend not just 1 million per month, but $4.17 million per month, and still have his billion dollars capital in 83 years or 1000 years.

  10. GF

    Reverse Sticker Shock

    Adjusted for inflation the 1996 price of $17,995 would be $28,869.07. So I think it is a steal.

  11. Dan

    Glad to see the Denver teachers get a win. Now on to my city of Oakland (CA), where our teachers are likely to go out on Tuesday barring some last-minute capitulation from the administration (95% of members voted to strike on a turnout of 84% – they’re serious about this). I’m looking forward to taking my kidergartener to his first picket line.

    The Oakland teachers’ demands are ridiculously modest – 3%, 4%, and 5% raises over the next three years, plus a reduction in class sizes to an average of 22. They are paid pathetically, with the upper limit on a classroom teacher’s salary (with 20+ years experience) barely above $80k, this in a city where a 1-bedroom apartment rents for $2000/month. (Teachers who are single parents regularly use food stamps.) They are also asking for more support staff. Fun fact: district has a grand total of 21 nurses for 37,000 students! And no teachers’ aides at all, unless the PTA at an individual school finds money to pay for them.

    And, as in Denver, cutting administrative and consultant bloat can pay for all of this. Though reigning in the notoriously nepotistic and inefficient administrative apparatus at OUSD will be like trying to scrape dried-up rice out of the bottom of a pot – needs a long soak followed by an unbelievable amount of vigorous scrubbing. Hopefully the strike will be the hot water that loosens things up.

    If you want to help, DSA East Bay is collecting money to feed kids at the solidarity schools: https://donorbox.org/breadfored
    Or chip in to the union’s strike fund!

  12. JohnnyGL


    Sometimes the 538 crowd has decent stuff. The 1st one, pointing out the difficulties of uniting around 1 centrist, made plausible points, if I’d quibble with some. I think the main thrust of the article made some sense.

    The 2nd one attempts to portend what the shape of the 2020 field of candidates says about the likely outcome of the race, with a kicker as to whether the party machinery will be happy with that outcome

    (spoiler: there’s a lot of precedent that suggests big fields mean the party can’t engineer consent for a preferred candidate)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Sometimes the 538 crowd has decent stuff

      As long as we admit they’re just pundits, and not data scientists, I’m fine with them :-)

      UPDATE This is an interesting discussion of AOC. Unmentioned, but I hope she’s got a crackerjack constituent services operation in place, besides the Twitter brilliance.

      1. johnnygl

        I’d call them pundits that try to use data to support their points. That, by itself, makes them much better than most pundits/columnists/commentators on the editorial pages who often spout opinions based on nothing much at all beyond projecting their own personal career advancement.

    1. johnnygl

      He’s one of the few on cable news that can make you stand up and clap and cheer, or alternately scream, “WTF is wrong with you?!!??”. Sometimes, even on the same show.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You can’t trust what Max Boot writes. He was born in Russia!! His real name is Макс Бут so I am calling that collusion between Putin and Elliot Abrams via Max Boot. I’m sure that Rachel Maddow will back me up on this one.

      2. nippersdad

        Thanks for the link. I left one as well, but as of my comment none are showing. They must be having a hard time finding people that agree with Boot.

    2. Carey

      Very good piece from Tucker Carlson. Good snark, too, though given the war-mongering
      subjects, more would have been better.

  13. Rosario

    RE: The Nuclear Option

    Hoo boy. Not even gonna go too deep quoting this one. Too much pro-nuke fluff.

    Too expensive, too complicated, too many details that have to be just right. That is why they don’t work absent heavy support from the government (as in, more than just SRECS and one-off subsidies) along with a great deal of cheer leading from articles like this. I mean, a lot of this crap comes from the solar world too, but the pro-nuclear crowd are a cut above the rest in their zealous commitment to the cause. As a model of production they are inflexible and highly monolithic. As in, to keep them going, safely, they require a level of maintenance and personnel that is above and beyond any renewables. BTW, nuclear is not renewable and absolutely not carbon neutral. (As an aside, I dislike the “carbon neutral” jargon because it does not account for increased consumption with increased production, Jevon’s paradox. Carbon really has to be measured in absolutes to have any value in determining systemic effects.) They have to operate in ideal conditions, and the margin for error is incredibly slim. Just go tour a coal plant sometime. Then go tour a nuclear facility. You can see the difference of cost in the appearance and protocol of the facilities. If a nuclear plant was run like a coal plant there would be no nuclear plants left in operation because they would have all melted down. The cost of nuclear complexity shows up in the maintenance of the plant.

    The movement away from nuclear began long before Fukushima. Fukushima just gave governments an excuse to move away from a source of power that has been incredibly subsidized, largely for weapons purposes, for over 60 years. It is no longer economically sensible for nuclear heavy economies to subsidize the energy source any more. It may have made sense 30 years ago, but it is not the case any longer. Modular reactors are not gonna do it either. They are by far the most technologically mature reactor designs (the first reactors were small modular types, navy ships, etc.) but they are still too expensive because of their lack of scalability and, well, they are nuclear reactors, they are f******* complicated, and hard to maintain, and they have an extremely long tail end cost. Only the military can justify having them for “security reasons” along with the fact that many military’s are given a blank check for expenditures.

    The “proposed $300 million subsidy” in New Jersey is simply to keep the damn things clunking along short term. The absurd cost of nuclear is life cycle, not just construction, or “here-and-there” upkeep. Any nuclear plant will blow away the costs of most renewables in life cycle. Even if you could calculate a $/kWh comparable to say solar, which is pretty high, there are so many aspects of nuclear costs that aren’t even accounted for, waste, liability if there is an accident, decommissioning, etc. No one can actually pin down the actual total cost for these facilities and they are still too expensive relative to most renewable sources where the costs are pretty clear.

    I would like to see a more in-depth analysis of their cost comparison between the $900 billion for solar subsidy versus the $300 billion for nuclear. Their 10:1 production ration in favor of nuclear may seem great until one considers how much that $300 billion will need to be repeated to keep the plants going. $900 billion subsidy, up front, for 30 year PV modules, with little upkeep may not end up being as bad as they put it. Accounting for total cost, that 10:1 may end up coming down to 5:1, 3:1, or 1:1 with increase solar investment.

    They are fascinating facilities WRT engineering/technology and absolutely have applications, space travel, etc, but to continue arguing they are essential is an indication of a lack of imagination. There is plenty of room for storage methods that are non battery. Pump-storage is highly effective, and no longer requires massive dams. There are “well” systems being developed in Europe. Man made lakes (<5 acres) that can act as "batteries" where environmental effects are largely localized to the area where the lakes are put in place (they can also nicely double as sustainable municipal water). Also, the biggest one of all, conservation. Don't need as much storage if less power is used. Again, I think our biggest problem right now is a lack of imagination. There are plenty of options just little belief that they can be done.

    1. John

      Do the French not have reactors that work rather well and do they not get something like 75% of their electricity from nuclear plants? We cannot do that?

      I think renewables are the basic way to go but you need a reliable backup. With all the potential problems nuclear reactors have worked quite well in the USA. Is there a better alternative as a back up?

      The biggest problem with things nuclear at the moment is putting “usable” five kiloton warheads on submarine launched missiles. ‘Only half the size of the Hiroshima bomb, don’t you know; only kill maybe 100,000.’, they say. I say ever hear of retaliation jackass. Are they stupid and smug or just ignorant and smug.

      1. Carey

        I now live about nine miles from the Diablo Canyon nuke, and the wind and surf
        have been off-the-charts crazy here for the better part of three weeks now.
        I mean, it’s been scary.
        Is nuke complexity really viable in a future of this kind of extreme weather?

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          And overstressed and distrusted governmental institutions including compromised regulatory agencies?

          We’ll need less complexity going forward, not more.

    2. Mo's Bike Shop

      Yep. While I have zero confidence in outcomes, the mere question of a GND obviously has the Nuke Industry shaking in their subsidize booties, judging by the ‘Tobacco Is Harmless’ memes they are recycling so hard this week. “Solar has killed more people than fuel rods dontcha know!”

      To paraphrase Chester Gould, the nation that learns to do more with less energy will control the universe.

      I can’t help but think we should actually be good at that goal. Maybe if someone pointed out how Russia is using so much less energy per capita than us…

      1. nat

        Maybe if someone pointed out how Russia is using so much less energy per capita than us…

        I fear could be taken as some form of: “good energy conservation is the work of Putin, and thus that maximal wasting of energy is what is expected god fearing American’s to differentiate ourselves, and both show our anti-Russian stance as well as our superiority to them.”

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > There is plenty of room for storage methods that are non battery.

      Good point

      > I think our biggest problem right now is a lack of imagination.

      Yes, a hellscape with robot-serviced elite bunkers has been well-imagined in many dystopian science fiction novels. Why Greer’s “retrotopia” series was so unique, being well-imagined and not dystopian (which makes it a shame he took it down and broke all the links to it). LeGuin and Marge Piercy (Women on the Edge of Time) also have well-imagined non-dystopian futures, but those are much thinner on the ground.

      1. Kfish

        He took it down because he wrote a full book by the same name, developing the theme further than the blog format would allow.

    4. PlutoniumKun

      Thanks for this comment, I’ve been meaning to write something like this in response to some of the pro-nuclear comments I see here, but I’ve not got around to the research – you’ve summed up very well why as far as our immediate needs to combat climate change is concerned, nuclear power is a giant (and very expensive) red herring. Its had its chance, it failed. Unless there are major breakthroughs in modular reactors soon, putting yet more money into Gen IV designs is a complete waste of time and money.

  14. DJG

    Wowsers, as we say. That Politico profile sure clarifies, as Lambert writes repeatedly at this site. Sherrill is to the right of Dwight Eisenhower.

    So the future of the Democratic Party is a kind of bumbling and poorly-thought-through Blue-Dog-ism.

    And, frankly, I can barely get past the four kids. In this day and age? This is feminism? Helicopters and breeding?

    And there’s this, all monetization and all markets all the time:

    “So,” she said, “with respect to Medicare for All …” It’s not easy, she said. “There will be winners and losers,” she said. She wants to be sure the high-taxed taxpayers of New Jersey’s 11th aren’t going to be the losers, she said.

    She has the moral compass of Obama, which is not meant as a compliment. Meanwhile, the Bavarians (sometimes called the Texas of Germany) have voted to revolutionize agriculture. But Sherrill’s claim to fame is that she served “values” in an equal-opportunity occupying army somewhere.

    The feminist dilemma: When she gets power, she wants to exercise it to maintain the status quo. Why should a woman vote for her other than an as symbolism? Why should I, as a man, consider voting for her to be “progress”?

  15. Another Scott

    I was thinking about this before reading the second article. In particular, I was wondering if Warren running couldn’t be beneficial to Sanders. The way this works is by dividing the vote of professional white women. If she pulls more of these voters away from the other senators competing for the same voters than she does from the left, then it could help him.

    There is also a difference between a party’s preferred candidate (Clinton in 2016) and a party-approved candidate (Obama in 2008). Safe to say that Sanders in neither. The party can get an acceptable one in a large field, even if their “preferred” one is slightly different. It’s also important to note that two of the three times, insiders didn’t get their preferred nominee, the nominee won the presidency.

    1. dcblogger

      I have always held the view that Elizabeth Warren running IS beneficial to Bernie, because it further validates the progressive point of view. Also many people who are invested in blaming Bernie for the 2016 loss are never the less newly receptive to a progressive voice, to Warren answers that.

  16. Jason Boxman

    Good for Sanders, and why I always supported funding this “vanity project”. Working people, government employees, suffered real damage, along with various government constituencies. How many years will it take to even start building a wall? Win the presidency and stop or delay it. Opposition to the wall is itself a vanity project, that punished more people.

    The Democrat Party in action!

  17. Hameloose Cannon

    “You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge” command opens NWA’s “Straight out of Compton”, a track calling an entire generation to arms at the precise do-or-die moment when a culture can reverse the momentum of genocide by surprise [if perhaps only momentarily]. Rebellion in places from South Central LA to Warsaw ghetto uprising to Saint-Domingue [Haiti] seems to come out of nowhere because the dominating powers of the day are bound by the ropes of there own flawed internal logic. One day out of the blue, the oppressed come out to the yard dressed as their oppressors and start wiping those faces off their smirks.

    The Trump presidency thought the border wall shutdown was their dope track, and they were so wrong. So wrong. Resigned to relying on re-election to stave off impeachment, indictment, and golden years in a Federal Penitentiary, the rest of the country was going to watch the President breaking things through 2020. The Border Wall became a proxy war against those that would impeach him, discipline the Federal Prosecutors that are investigating his omni-corrupt conduct with phantom paychecks. It became a turkey shoot, the Oval Office got steamrolled. The latest budget is a way for the President to save face and allow for his withdraw.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “PredPol uses an algorithm based on earthquake prediction to “predict crime.”

    You know, they may be right with this algorithm. Think about white collar crime on Wall Street and all the criminality that goes on there. Yeah, I would support police raids there. Maybe drug test those that they suspect for cocaine. Go into their files on probable cause to see what they are up to. Seize any unaccounted for money. It could work.

    1. JBird4049

      Whenever I read PredPol, I see Predator Policing, not Predictive Police, but maybe I misinterpret whats going on. More seriously, saving development expenditures by hijacking a program, used to predict earthquakes, often infrequent, often massive events that come when they come regardless of human efforts, to the prediction of often frequent, often small, very human influenced, subjectively defined and enforced criminal activity is just wrong.

      I’m a poor college student who hates algebra and is confused by statistics, but I can easily see the flaws in this as I assume most statisticians and researchers would too. Of course they are only flaws if you were interested in honest law enforcement and good public service. Like with all the variously flawed facial recognition programs, false positives are a feature, not a flaw.

  19. Tim

    “Medical problems contributed to 66.5% of all bankruptcies, a figure that is virtually unchanged since before the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),”

    Great. All of the structural costs, none of the risk reduction. ACA for the win!

  20. ChiGal in Carolina

    That plantidote looks like a hut growing out of the ground–talk about organic architecture!

  21. Carey

    ‘The Stakes for Nationalists in This Year’s European Elections’:

    “…Here, their paper, in its candor, becomes almost amusing. “The nationalists focus on migration is well chosen,” they acknowledge, “because the issue not only resonates with voters but also demonstrates the divides within the much larger pro-European camp. It seems that most European voters would prefer to reduce immigration.” The authors then outline various strategies by which the pro-migration forces can thwart the will of the voters.

    To accomplish this, they recommend exploiting divisions within the Euroskeptic alliance. For instance, while both Hungary and Italy have governments hostile to migration, Italy wants migrants “redistributed” (because many land first at its shores) while Hungary does not…”


  22. EarlErland

    Medical debt and Bankruptcy. Timing is everything? The inability of Congress to govern is all, as Trump pointed out once again today. Back to topic. Medical debt and bankruptcy. Under Biden Bankruptcy, you can file Chapter 7 once every 8 years. If you cannot afford a hernia, that works, well, kinda sorta. Got anything more complex or longterm, or several in the song, eight years can look like a lifetime. All the things to be done, I think Im off the clock. Obama gets tons of shit, and I dish some, but medicaid expansion has been a concrete material benefit. First foot prints on how to walk

  23. Mo's Bike Shop

    Opportunity Rover. Bravo.

    Artificial Intelligence is a field of study. Self driving cars are bullshit. Our Mars rovers are pretty much the smartest, most cunning machines we have ever deployed anywhere. They’ve done better than an average insect in the most hostile environment imaginable.

    My favorite geek cartoon tributes:



    Why don’t we have several of these rovers on our Moon?

  24. ella

    Try saving links in your word processing app, WORD or other. Then attach the document with the save links to your yahoo . email. Maybe it will save you some grief.

  25. JBird4049

    “If there’s a Venn diagram of how Democrats wrested control ofo the House from Republicans —women, veterans, flipped districts in more affluent, more educated suburban terrain—smack at the center is Rebecca Michelle Sherrill: former Navy helicopter pilot, former federal prosecutor, mother of four (13, 11, 9 and 6).” • Her district, NJ-11, is one of the wealthiest districts in the United States.

    It’s cute how they used identity to hide the wealth, connections, donations, and orthodox neoliberal views needed to run as a Democrat.

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