2:00PM Water Cooler 11/18/2019

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, normally I’d fill in the Politics section a little bit more, but I need to go in to complete a second Water Cooler mini-post, “Warren’s #MedicareForAll Transition Plan Is Set Up to Fail” in what I hope will be an hour or so. –lambert UPDATE All done.


“The Case Is Only Growing for an Economic Forever War” [Bloomberg]. “President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has become a bigger, broader economic forever war. It’s hard to look ahead and see any outcome that undermines that emerging reality. A “phase one” deal may be in what U.S. officials say is its messy end stages. But that deal, if it comes, will be partial and more ceasefire than game changer. It also doesn’t mean a larger peace is nigh. Moreover, there are three live truths that are becoming inescapable: 1. While both the U.S. and China have worked hard to maintain a wall between their trade talks and other political developments, that’s becoming harder with each passing week…. 2. The art of the trade deal is the art of knowing how to exploit the domestic politics of your opponent…. 3. The search for survival strategies is afoot.” • Those of you interested in this beat should read “The Right Way to Reduce Your China Product Costs,” linked to at NC on 11-13. Despite the anodyne title, it’s concerning.


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

“They had one weapon left and both knew it: treachery.” –Frank Herbert, Dune

Here is a second counter for the Iowa Caucus, which is obviously just around the corner:

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Alert reader dk (not to be confused with DK) is in the process of developing the following interactive chart. Here is (are) the latest Dem Primary Polling as of 11/18/2019, 12:00 PM EST. Ipsos has the Biden juggernaut slowing, with Sanders a clear second, Warren a clear third, and Buttigied still second-tier.

Here, the latest national results:

In Iowa, for Seltzer and YouGov, Buttigieg pulled ahead of Biden and Sanders (tied), Warren trailing, as of 11/18/2019, 12:00 PM EST. (On 11-13, Monmouth had Buttigieg, Biden, Warren, Sanders.)

Here are the Iowa results:

I think dk has started a really neat project, and in the near future we’ll seek your feedback (within reason) for the tool “live.”

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Trump (R)(1): “Why you just can’t trust the White House on Donald Trump’s health” [CNN]. “President Donald Trump, according to the White House, made an unscheduled trip to Walter Reed hospital on Saturday for a ‘quick exam and labs’ as the first stage of his annual physical… Now consider what we know about Trump’s visit to Walter Reed on Saturday. It was unscheduled. Unlike his past physicals, it was not on his public schedule and was not announced to reporters. The medical staff did not get a heads up that a “VIP” guest was coming, as they typically would. While White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said the trip was simply Trump getting a jump on his annual physical, he did not have that physical done in phases or over multiple days in the past two years.” • Yes, that “first stage” thing sounded bogus to me, too.

Warren (D)(1): “Inside Warren’s secret big-donor fan club” [Politico]. “Elizabeth Warren prohibits special access for big donors — but her campaign treasurer and another close ally are organizing wealthy supporters for Warren behind the scenes while she rips on the rich. The pair, Boston businessman Paul Egerman and activist Shanti Fry, have maintained campaign titles as Warren’s finance co-chairs… Fry and Egerman — a longtime friend of Warren’s who helped build support for her first run for office — are courting big donors in the Northeast by organizing trips, hosting events and acting as conduits for information about the campaign… Last week, a crowd of Bostonians packed into the trendy Tiger Mama restaurant for a brunch benefiting Warren’s campaign — without Warren herself, per campaign policy. Instead, the event, which focused on LGBTQ support and was open to small- and large-dollar donors, had the next best thing: a cardboard cutout of Warren, as well as face time with Egerman and Fry.” • Brunch. Of course. “Cutout,” of course, has a double-meaning: “In espionage parlance, a cutout is a mutually trusted intermediary, method or channel of communication that facilitates the exchange of information between agents.” The cutouts in this case are Egerman and Fry, aren’t they?


“Why this photographer brought a 1940s wooden camera to the impeachment inquiry” [CBC]. “David Burnett covered the impeachment hearings of former U.S. presidents Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton. He also captured crucial moments of the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and has taken photos at every Summer Olympic Games since 1984… But unlike the other photographers, Burnett had to wait a couple of days to see how his photos turned out — because he was using a 1940s-era large-format wooden camera.” • This is really neat. Here’s the camera:

The lens is a 7” (!!) f/2.5 Aero-Ektar lens, developed for aerial photography in World War II.

* * *

“Trump says he will consider testifying in impeachment hearing” [Reuters]. “U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday said he might be willing to testify in the impeachment inquiry ‘even though I did nothing wrong,’ although House Democrats leading the investigation have not publicly called him as a witness. ‘Even though I did nothing wrong, and don’t like giving credibility to this No Due Process Hoax, I like the idea & will, in order to get Congress focused again, strongly consider it!’ Trump tweeted.” • One can’t help but be reminded of this:

“Transcript: Kent and Taylor public testimony in front of House Intelligence Committee” [WaPo]. From Taylor’s testimony:

The Russians are violating all of the rules, treaties, understandings that they committed to that actually kept the peace in Europe for nearly 70 years.

2019 – 70 = 1949. Stalin died in 1953. If you take Taylor seriously, he’s saying that Putin’s Russia is worse than the USSR of Stalin, Kruschev, and Breshnev. The thing to remember about the Ambassadors, as well as The Blob generally, is that they’re all crazypants. Even if they were dedicated public servants, which they, being self-serving, are not, they’d still be crazypants.

Obama Legacy

“Bernanke: Some Wall Street executives should’ve gone to jail over financial crisis” [Los Angeles Times]. “Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says some Wall Street executives should have gone to jail for their roles in the financial crisis that gripped the country in 2008 and triggered the Great Recession…. Bernanke said he thinks that in addition to the corporations, individuals should have been held more accountable…. “It would have been my preference to have more investigations of individual actions because obviously everything that went wrong or was illegal was done by some individual, not by an abstract firm,” Bernanke said.” Asked if someone should have gone to jail, the former Fed chairman replied, “Yeah, I think so.” He did not, however, name any individual he thought should have been prosecuted, and he noted that the Federal Reserve is not a law-enforcement agency.” • Thanks, Obama. Liberal Democrats frothing and stamping about the rule of law should consider this. Nobody takes them seriously about the rule of law, because when they had the chance to enforce it — and the country would have been with them, all the way, across the politcal spectrum — they didn’t govern. And all the people so derelict in their duty are still in charge, respected party elders, and very well-paid opinion-havers.

Stats Watch

Housing Market Index, November 2019: “A slight dip doesn’t disturb the rising trend for home builders who all year, after a rough end to a poor 2018, have been enjoying improving conditions” [Econoday]. “Today’s report should confirm expectations for acceleration into year end and perhaps a second straight positive contribution from residential investment to quarterly GDP.”

Commodities: “The once high-flying companies that provide sand for fracking operations are crumbling as oil and gas drillers reset sourcing strategies” [Wall Street Journal]. “[T]he cumulative market value of six suppliers wholly or partly dependent on the business has fallen from $18 billion four years ago to below $800 million. The problem is that too much sand is being mined while drilling has slowed substantially.” • Localities: “But we gave you tax breaks! Where did the jobs go?”

Retail: “A businesswoman proved a craft fair can attract 22,000 people to the struggling Bangor Mall” [Bangor Daily News]. “‘I’d say our Saturday was a mini-Black Friday,’ said Shawn Cahill, manager of the nearby Lamey Wellehan shoe store on Bangor Mall Boulevard, which saw its sales grow more than 10 percent over last year’s Veterans’ Day weekend. ‘I haven’t personally seen the mall that packed that early in the morning in maybe 10 years.'” • The population of Bangor is ~32,000, and Penobscot County ~152,000 so 22,000 is an amazing number.

Shipping: “The world’s biggest container shipping line is focusing new investment on land rather than the water. A.P. Moeller-Maersk AS says it won’t buy new ships over the near term and plans to focus on cost-cutting in its main port-to-port service” [Wall Street Journal].

Shipping: ” Airlines around the world are shying away from buying more of the biggest jetliners because of slowing passenger growth and a slump in air cargo traffic” [Wall Street Journal]. “The cargo market isn’t helping the jet makers, with freight demand falling throughout this year even as capacity has expanded.

The Bezzle: “Zombie Miles And Napa Weekends: How A Week With Chauffeurs Showed The Major Flaw In Our Self-Driving Car Future’ [Jalopnik]. “Some surveys predicted only a few percentage points increase in [Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT)] in a self-driving car future. Others, upwards of 90 percent. “[Mustapha Harb’s] advisor, Professor Joan Walker, had an idea. What if they hired chauffeurs to drive random people around? The chauffeur, Walker outlined, will do the driving for you. And, just like the most optimistic AV future of fully autonomous robot cars zooming around, you don’t even have to be in the car. ‘All these things the self-driving car can do for you in the future,’ Harb summarized, ‘a chauffeur can do for you today.’… Using 13 volunteers (a very small sample size due to budgetary constraints) from the San Francisco Bay Area who owned cars, Harb and his team studied their travel patterns using GPS trackers on their cars and phones for one week, then gave them a chauffeur for a week who would drive the participants’ personal vehicles for them….. The subjects increased how many miles their cars covered by a collective 83 percent when they had the chauffeur versus the week prior…. To put these findings in perspective, when researchers looked into the impact Uber and Lyft have had on urban congestion, they reported an increase in VMT in the single digits. San Francisco, which has seen some of the largest percentage increase of cars driving around in its downtown thanks to Uber and Lyft, had an increased VMT of 12.8 percent.” • Holy moley! Imagine how that would affect Manhattan. Or Seattle. Or San Francisco.

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Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 83 Extreme Greed (previous close: 87, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 89 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Nov 18 at 2:00pm.

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on Tribulation Temple. “The lack of news on the Tribulation Temple has downgraded this category” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181. Remember that bringing on the rapture is a good thing. I wonder when, in 2020, the index will start flirting with 190 again. So far, the latest impeachment push hasn’t affected the Index.

The Biosphere

“There’s Growing Evidence That the Universe Is Connected by Giant Structures” [Vice]. “But despite their differences, and the mind-boggling distances between them, scientists have noticed that some galaxies move together in odd and often unexplained patterns, as if they are connected by a vast unseen force…. some galaxies show dynamic links across distances too great to be explained by their individual gravitational fields. For instance, a study published in The Astrophysical Journal in October found that hundreds of galaxies were rotating in sync with the motions of galaxies that were tens of millions of light years away.” • We don’t know anything!

“Planet junk: a journey through discards” (review) [Nature]. “Sprinkled with sometimes counter-intuitive observations, [Secondhand] delivers a key insight early on from a professional home de-clutterer: we are all hoarders. The extent to which that becomes problematic is a matter of degree…. This is a mass behaviour, Minter shows, that is unprecedented in human history: keeping more possessions than we need, or can even contain in our homes. Between 1967 and 2017, he notes, US spending on stuff, from sofas to mobile phones, increased almost twenty-fold. He asserts that similar patterns of overconsumption are gathering steam worldwide. In one startling discussion on how consumers have bitten off more than they can chew, he looks at the US mini-storage warehouse industry that sequesters domestic overflow. By 2017, Minter reports, there were more than 54,000 home-storage businesses, generating annual income triple that of Hollywood’s box-office revenues — which was US$12 billion in 2018.”

“‘Green’ wind energy sending many giant blades to landfills” [Des Moines Register]. ” upgrades for Iowa’s growing wind industry, which is already among the nation’s largest, are creating some unexpected challenges. MidAmerican’s retired blades, destined for the Butler County Landfill near David City, Nebraska, about 130 miles away, are among hundreds that will land in dumps across Iowa and the nation. …. Wind energy generation, now topping 100 gigawatts nationally, will create 1 million tons of fiberglass and other composite waste, said Laird, director of the National Wind Technology Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado… Landfill operators thought the composite blades, cut in 40-foot or larger sections, could be readily crushed and compacted. ‘But blades are so strong — because they need to be strong to do their job — they just don’t break,’ said Amie Davidson, an Iowa Department of Natural Resources solid waste supervisor. ‘Sometimes pieces fly off and damage equipment’ in the compacting process, she said. ‘Landfills are really struggling to manage them, and they just decide they can’t accept them.'” • Maybe we could make planters out of them.


“New, slippery toilet coating provides cleaner flushing, saves water” [Phys.org]. “Every day, more than 141 billion liters of water are used solely to flush toilets. With millions of global citizens experiencing water scarcity, what if that amount could be reduced by 50%?… “Our team has developed a robust bio-inspired, liquid, sludge- and bacteria-repellent coating that can essentially make a toilet self-cleaning,” said Tak-Sing Wong, Wormley Early Career Professor of Engineering and associate professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering…. Co-developed by Jing Wang, a doctoral graduate from Wong’s lab, the liquid-entrenched smooth surface (LESS) coating is a two-step spray that, among other applications, can be applied to a ceramic toilet bowl. The first spray, created from molecularly grafted polymers, is the initial step in building an extremely smooth and liquid-repellent foundation. ‘When it dries, the first spray grows molecules that look like little hairs, with a diameter of about 1,000,000 times thinner than a human’s,’ Wang said. While this first application creates an extremely smooth surface as is, the second spray infuses a thin layer of lubricant around those nanoscopic ‘hairs’ to create a super-slippery surface.” • But it only works for 500 flushes…

Health Care

“Welcome to Molar City, Mexico, The Dental Mecca America’s Health Care Costs Built” [HuffPo]. “Dental care has become big business here over the last two decades, so much so that American visitors have taken to calling it “Molar City.” An estimated 600 dentists operate out of hundreds of clinics that fill the 1-square-mile town, which is home to fewer than 5,000 permanent residents…. For all forms of medical and dental treatment, Patients Beyond Borders estimates that U.S. patients can save 40% to 60% in Mexico.” • And then there’s the horror of the American medical system itself.

Keep the horror stories coming:

Reality check on “over-use” of health care:

Our Famously Free Press

Waiting for the axe to fall:

“One-in-five U.S. newsroom employees live in New York, Los Angeles or D.C.” [Pew Research]. “New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., are the financial, entertainment and political capitals of the United States – and that may help explain why they are home to a disproportionately large share of the nation’s newsroom employees. About one-in-five newsroom employees (22%) live in these three metro areas, which, by comparison, are home to 13% of all U.S. workers… About four-in-ten newsroom employees who work in internet publishing live in the Northeast (41%).”

“How the Charleston Gazette-Mail overcame bankruptcy, layoffs and management changes to double digital subscriptions” [Poynter]. “But the changes that got the Gazette-Mail there were also fairly simple – a tightened paywall, aggressive subscription offers, collaboration across departments, national partnerships and a newsroom that’s starting to embrace its role in saving itself.” • This is very interesting. Local newspapers do not have to die (though local ownership is important).

Good idea:

“At the Times, a Hesitance to Hyperlink” [Vice]. “There’s a joke in the journalism industry: It’s not news until the New York Times says it is. This is because the Times often reports stories that other outlets already have without any acknowledgment that they’re doing so…. Angry journalists regularly tweet (and sometimes write) about the bizarre practice, which comes up all the time. For instance, the Times recently wrote about how Kickstarter is unionizing. This was an important piece about an important topic; the main problem with it was that Slate’s April Glaser wrote an in-depth investigation breaking news about the exact same topic a month earlier, to which the Times didn’t bother linking until after Glaser publicly criticized them for not doing so.”

“The Urgent Need for Worker-Owned Media” [Current Affairs]. “The [Deadspin] writers wanted money too, and the owners were just the kinds of scummy vulture capitalists who don’t actually understand the companies they buy… I am reminded here of Maureen Tkacik’s excellent reporting on Boeing, where a similar thing had happened. The people in charge of the company had no idea how it ran or how to make airworthy planes… The biggest threat to journalism today is not “technology.” Journalists can innovate ways to use technology to produce excellent new work, and even to get people to pay for it. The big problem is ownership: The journalists don’t own the companies. … If we are to stand a chance of having quality independent media, we must build the worker-owned, reader-funded model.”

Police State Watch

“Some California Police Departments Don’t Review Deadly Uses of Force” [KQED (JBird4049)]. “A new state transparency law, Senate Bill 1421, that’s opened internal investigation documents for the first time in decades, is providing a key insight into the long-hidden world of California policing: Not all agencies review how their officers acted — and whether they violated department policies — when they kill or badly injure someone. Some sort of review of those incidents is set to become standard practice in California beginning in 2021, thanks to another new state law, but that legislation sets no standards for thoroughness or documentation. KQED and the Bay Area News Group analyzed records on officers’ use of deadly force released by 122 agencies statewide, and found that 10% failed to internally investigate incidents that occurred between 2014 and 2018. The incidents included 16 fatal shootings, three deaths following fights with officers, and nine nonfatal events. For departments that did investigate uses of force, documents show a stark range of thoroughness, from a scant single-page checklist to an in-depth analysis of whether officers followed their training, used correct tactics and employed deadly force only as a last resort. Some of the most thorough departments ordered more training and held officers accountable if they failed to follow policy.” • I don’t see why there should be any variation between localities on this.

Class Warfare

“Is Your Employer Stealing From You?” [GQ]. “Wage theft isn’t one of the crimes most prosecutors and politicians refer to when they talk about getting “tough on crime,” but it represents a massive chunk of all theft committed in the U.S. A 2017 study by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that in the ten most populous states, an estimated 2.4 million people lose a combined $8 billion in income every year to theft by their employers. That’s nearly half as much as all other property theft combined last year—$16.4 billion according to the FBI. And again, EPI’s findings are only for ten states. According to the institute, the typical worker victimized by minimum-wage violations is underpaid by $64 per week, totaling $3,300 per year. If its figures are representative of a national phenomenon, then EPI estimates that the yearly total for American wage theft is closer to $15 billion.”

News of the Wired

“Every Mobile App You’ve Ever Used Has This One Feature” [OneZero]. “Some estimates say that each day the average person scrolls more than a mile with their thumb, which, thanks to our sedentary lifestyles, may be further than we walk over the same time period. And all of these apps, on all of these platforms, built by all of these billion-dollar Silicon Valley unicorns, have one thing in common. They are all built using the same fundamental component: the table. In fact, I can say — almost with a straight face — that this single user interface component may have become the foundation of contemporary Western society.” • What would a philospher think of this, I wonder?

“Hokusai: old man, crazy to paint” [1843]. “The aim of Hokusai, a Japanese artist, was to live – and work – beyond the age of 100. He said… that ‘until the age of 70, nothing I drew was worthy of notice.’ Every year he worked, he improved. Older meant better. ‘At 110, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive.’ A new exhibition at the British Museum in London covering the last 30 years of his life bears him out.” • Gorgeous prints!

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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 and coral 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 (ChiGal):

ChiGal writes: “Very special tree on a very special day: Weeping katsura this August in Nichols Park on the south side of Chicago, planted 19 years ago on what would have been my son’s 20th birthday. Ut was a scrawny little thing, shorter than some of his friends and look at it now; last time for the balloons though; I did not know the planet was running out of helium.” Since ChiGal mentioned this in comments, I don’t feel it’s oversharing. I think it’s lovely.

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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. ChrisAtRU

    Bernanke throwing Obama (and by extension, Holder) under the bus for not prosecuting bankers is Chef-Kissing-Fingers stuff … ;-)

    Mr. #TooFarLeft isn’t going to have much of a positive legacy left when all is said and done.

    And that’s a good thing … #TYVM

        1. D. Fuller

          Yet, what were the results of Congressional grilling? About the same as Congress grilling Shkreli over pharma prices.

          Congressional committees like that are pretty much Dog & Pony shows. PR until the masses are distracted by something else courtesy of our tabloid media and tabloid politics.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Bernanke is a Republican who doesn’t like country pop, a fitting choice for the Obama Administration, but like all Republicans, shame and hypocrisy don’t matter to them. 10 years ago, he needed to protect his job, and now he has an opportunity to kick a Democrat. Of course, its what a Republican will do. No one cares about Ben Bernanke. Obama was the boss. So he knows he can get away with it.

        This was Shrub’s chairman of the White House economic council and his choice to replace Alan Greenspan. Again, there is no honor among thieves.

        1. inode_buddha

          It’s not like he’s any different from the Democrats/NeoLibs/NeoCons/Libs/PaleoCons in that regard…

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Republicans in DC still dream about the complete eradication of Team Blue. They don’t have any desire to win over “conservative leaning Democrats” and will twist the knife on anyone not in the tribe regardless of money or power as soon as they think they can get away with it. They play to win. They just know they are a rump party and can tolerate the “two party” system for the time being. They would put Obama, Pelosi, etc in camps if they thought they could.

            1. D. Fuller

              And that is just domestic. Pelosi and Schumer and The Democratic Party seem to be stuck in the 1980’s and early 1990’s when they had Reagan and Bush I to make deals with. Or going back to Nixon and supporting HMO’s that gave us a crapified, stratified, rationed health care system (thanks Teddy K.).

              What about internationally? Public-private faces…

              Republicans blast Trump for abandoning US allies… The Kurds… and then one of them speaks up…

              Cornyn: Not a bad idea to get U.S. troops out of the way if Turkey planned to ‘ethnically cleanse the Kurds’

              The Obama Admin fostered the complete mess that is Syria… which leaves it to Administrations to clean up the mess… properly. Trump’s is to cut-and-run while Republicans publicly decry abandoning the Kurds until Cornyn spoke…

              Instead of confronting the mess from the Obama Administration… and changing course… which means leadership… we have Trump’s cut-and-run policy. Except for the oil in which he was quite honest.

              Privately, Republicans are thinking about the Kurds and genocide as evidenced by Cornyn’s impromptu remark… shows insight into their thought processes as it relates to domestic groups. The Right does a lot of talking about Civil War 2.0 after all.

          2. John Steinbach

            Lots different than the Paleocons. Check out American Conservative for bitss of sanity among the craziness. (National Review too! It really is crazy out there.)

            1. inode_buddha

              The only thing I’ve seen from the PaleoCons that makes any sense, is that they were against the bailouts. Otherwise they seem to have much in common with the mainstream GOP, believing that the only legitimate function of the government is military, and maybe the Post Office.

              1. John Steinbach

                Anti-Imperialism, anti- military boondoggles, anti- Deep State, anti- Coups, anti- RussiaRussiaRussia, anti bloated Pentagon budget, for normalization of relations with Russia & China, anti-NeoCon, anti-NeoLib, anti manipulation of financial markets, against nuclear buildup…. Not saying I agree with everything written on AC, just that it’s generally much more sane than MSM.

                1. inode_buddha

                  @John, I’ve yet to see a self-professed Paleo/conservative espouse those viewpoints, unless I misunderstand your meaning?

                  1. Steve H.

                    William Lind is a paradigmatic paleoconservative.


                    The decline of the state makes war between states obsolete.

                    The first element of our new grand strategy, therefore, is that we will stop destroying states. We will make a strategic decision not to go to war against other states unless they directly attack our homeland.

                    Second, to confront the decline of the state and preserve the international state system, we will attempt to form an alliance of all states against non-state threats. The two most important potential allies are the two strongest, Russia and China. Both face challenges on their own soil. Whoever is telling you Russia is a threat is giving you bad advice.


                    Were we to divert the $1.4 trillion slated for the F-35 fighter/bomber to helping communities become resilient instead, we might actually get something for the money.

                  2. Massinissa

                    I can second that those viewpoints are relatively common among writers at TheAmericanConservative. Paleocons are definitely better on many niche issues compared to Neocons.

              2. D. Fuller

                Food supply is necessary for the defense, health and well being of the country.

                Some of the earliest governments organized food production and distribution and protection of food supplies. Mohen Daro in India for instance.

                The American System of Manufacturing which gave rise to mass production in The US? Government did that. The Apple iPhone? 100% US Government research. The nuclear industry? US Government. OLED? 1979 patents by… US Government… OLED’s now manufactured in China and South Korea. Microwave? RADAR research by US Government courtesy of The US Air Force.

                The entire space industry in The US? Paid for by US taxpayers and now sold off to private industry (many of whom are repeating basic mistakes in rocket design as SpaceX found out with a fuel system NASA told them wouldn’t work).

                Hypersonic missiles and lifting bodies? 1950’s, 1960’s and culminating in Sprint ABM missle capable of reaching Mach 10 within 5 seconds of launch.. that the Chinese and Russians conveniently copied and modified. US Government paid for that.

                The opposition of industrialists to FDR in providing necessary materials for the war effort even as they supplied Nazi Germany with all they needed?

                Government had to step in and threaten those Business Conservatives with treason in order to obtain the necessary raw materials to prosecute WWII.

                Industry is essential to national defense. Food production. Roads. A healthy population. We have a segment of population that believes that national defense only consists of buying weapons.

                When you can’t manufacture your own war supplies and feed your army? You no longer have a national defense.

                Government quite literally is the economy, promoting economic activity. National defense is subordinate to that. Which is why Government spending is including in GDP calculations. Perhaps, the most critical part of GDP.

                1. JBird4049

                  Actually, no food means revolution. Food shortages are perhaps the reason for regime change and civilizational collapse.

                  1. D. Fuller

                    2008 Mexico riots after ingredients were raised 40% by the central government. IIRC, the prices went back down. Now, The Mexican Government has lost control of the monopoly on violence… with armed gangs openly contesting the government directly. Mexico is a failed narco-state. Supported by The US.

                    Smaller portions in The US to conceal food inflation. Or use of cheaper ingredients. Or both.

                    Honduras and Guatemala experiencing a drought, driving refugees to flee to The US – also government violence (RW Government supported by US Government) and drug gangs (paid for by US consumption). The largest number of refugees from Central and South America come from countries with US-supported RW governments who follow US economic policy (neoliberalism).

      2. Trent

        He said it four years ago, if you look at the date on the article. I’m surprised all of the alt media stuff I read at the time didn’t pick up on it. Feels like something I would have remembered.

    1. D. Fuller

      Democrats were afraid that Trump was going to destroy Obama’s legacy. Obama is doing a fine job all by himself.

      The Pritzker Family funded a lot of Obama’s political ambition starting with his Illinois Senate days to providing seed money for his first Presidential run. No surprise then that Penny Pritzker ended up as a Commerce Secretary; access to business intelligence flowing through the Commerce Department does wonders for business people in giving them a leg up over competitors.

      1. Bernalkid

        Bobby Rush, who defeated 0 in 2000, on the insufferable “genius”:

        “He was blinded by his ambition,” Mr. Rush said. “Obama has never suffered from a lack of believing that he can accomplish whatever it is he decides to try. Obama believes in Obama. And, frankly, that has its good side but it also has its negative side.”

    1. D. Fuller

      Warren reminds me of when Obama ran on a populist platform that ended on his first inauguration day with “look forward, not backward”.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        All those poor schlubs out on the National Mall, all excited about the dawning of a new day, and Obama told them they’d have to tighten their belts. Right out of the box with the austerity message.

        1. D. Fuller

          My Father lost his house thanks to the HAMP & HAMP II fraud that Obama and Holder failed to investigate. He actually was able to get his final payment for the bank and the bank refused the payment that they were supposed to take under the HAMP agreement.

          When DoJ did that settlement? My Father received a $1,000 check and lost the other $98,000 to the bank. Plus, the bank was able to resell the house.

          My Father did not vote Trump. Neither did he vote Democrat. However, it is estimated that 8,000,000 voters went for Trump back in 2016. How many of them lost their house, just like my Father did?

          They’ll never vote Democratic ever again. And their children probably won’t either.

          1. inode_buddha

            I recommend these guys. I have seen them in action, and it is awe-inspiring. By way of references, these are the lawyers that IBM uses. And they are used to winning — since 1950 or so.

            1. D. Fuller

              DoJ settlement barred any further lawsuits.

              Affordability = access to the justice. Certainly not affordable for my Father. Great guy. He’s going to be driving truck now til he dies.

              Oh, and The IRS dinged him. Loan forgiveness turns out to be an addition to your income. Yep, he’ll be paying the IRS penalties til he dies.

              1. John Zelnicker

                @D. Fuller
                November 18, 2019 at 5:19 pm

                I’m an Enrolled Agent and something sounds fishy in what you said. Loan forgiveness on a home mortgage foreclosure should be excludable from income. Did your father get professional advice? If not, he should do so now and perhaps challenge the determination.

                Caveat: I only have the limited info in your comment and there may be other issues.

                1. D. Fuller

                  He at one time had a lawyer that was negotiating with the IRS. Then his money ran out.

                  The application of The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007 to his situation was being disputed. The IRS was taking a different view of his situation.

                2. D. Fuller

                  FYI, how the IRS came up with a tax penalty when my father had only one last payment (refused by the bank under HAMP) to make is something his lawyer never figured out.

                  He made the mistake of going with one of the TV lawyers advertising IRS settlements. Desperate, poor people do desperate things. If I would have known about his situation at the time, I would have found him competent counsel.

                  The IRS waited six years to notify my father about the amount owed. Even then, penalties and interest should not have been that great.

                  1. John Zelnicker

                    @D. Fuller
                    November 19, 2019 at 9:04 pm

                    Those TV lawyers and “tax resolution firms” are a plague on unsuspecting taxpayers. I’m sorry your father didn’t get the representation he deserved.

                    The IRS really need to regulate those lawyers and firms much more tightly.

      2. nippersdad

        He didn’t even wait for his inauguration. He lobbied for FISA Amendments and the Wall Street bailout from the floor of the Senate.

        1. JBird4049

          And yet, they are the Deplorable Ones and not the fraudsters. Interesting. I think that much of the Democratic leadership and their minions have Stockholm Syndrome.

  2. Amfortas the hippie

    regarding:”Bernanke: Some Wall Street executives should’ve gone to jail over financial crisis”
    is there a statute of limitations on fraud?
    (or whatever lawyerwords fit best all those shenanigans)

    1. Danny

      The Statute starts once the victim becomes aware of the fraud.
      I’d say Bernanke spilling the beans is day one.

      Mr. President, federal perp walk some bankers and you won’t even have to campaign to get reelected.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        We pass by this news with a nod a cluck and a sigh. No. This was the quintessential moment and will surely be in the history books when they peg the date of the destruction of the rule of law. When the most egregious and outlandish law-breaking was forgiven under the impossible construct that somehow the buildings, not the bankers in them, committed the crimes. When the Habeus Aedificium precept was born and sold to a gullible and frightened public.

        It needs to be revisited and shouted from the rooftops far and wide until it finally penetrates the consciousness: (No) Thanks Obama!

        1. Lost in OR


          And simultaneously, a blind eye being turned on the treason that lead us into the conflagration of the ME.

          Such a colossal failure. In my 60+ years, I don’t believe there’s been a more opportune time to change the course of history. So sad… So sad.

          Maybe it’s just my perception but, W seems to have the sense to largely withdraw from public life. O seems to be just completely clueless.

  3. toshiro_mifune

    … Aero-Ektar lens That’s a very well known (and sought after) lens in the large format world. There’s still quite a bit of commercial photography being done on large format. I’m purely a hobbyist my self, but one of the benefits of the move to digital photography was the absolutely plummet in resale values of serious film based equipment. For a while you could have picked up a Mamiya 645 body for under $80… which I did. Also grabbed an old calumet CC 403, with case, lens and film holders for $120. This has started to reverse in the past few years with prices slowly starting to climb back up, but theres still a lot of bargains to be had not to mention shooting Ilford FP4 in medium and large format is just awesome.

    1. Carolinian

      A couple of times lately I’ve seen someone around town with a Hasselblad–the camera chosen for moon landing. Perhaps they too picked it up used because these were not inexpensive cameras.

      Myself, I’ve been using a Canon dslr lately and think it’s the greatest camera ever. It’s biggest virtue is the opposite of that wooden camera–you can leave it turned on without draining the battery and always be ready for that Cartier-Bresson “decisive moment.” Some of us think it’s not the composition that counts but getting the shot.

      1. toshiro_mifune

        Hassy’s certainly dropped in price (I have a 501CM) but never into the ‘cheap’ realm like Mamiya or Bronica did.
        Shoot with whatever makes you happy. I just got a D750 after shooting a D40 for about 12 years so I’m not part of the anti-digital crowd.

      2. diptherio

        Used to work in a camera store back when you could still make a living developing one-hour photos. I spent many an hour oogling the Hasselblads, Liecas, etc that would come through on consignment. Just beautiful machines. Sadly, I found out the hard way that having sick-@$$ camera equipment does not one a photographer make…

        My favorite, though, is still the Pentax K1000 (the old Ashai ones, with all metal parts) even though they just shoot boring old 35mm. They are the absolute best film cameras for the money, though, and highly underrated, imo. No need for a battery to function perfectly (sans light meter, of course), and absolutely bomb-proof.

        1. Carolinian

          I have an old Nikon F in a drawer. This was the famous all metal slr used in Vietnam and promoted with an ad that said one had been dropped out of a helicopter and still worked.

          Modern cameras may be more delicate but they are, IMVHO, light years ahead of a Nikon F. Film users should enjoy it while they still can. It may not be that much longer.

          1. toshiro_mifune

            IMVHO, light years ahead of a Nikon F – I don’t think anyone would argue with you on that. Film and digital are different though, both aesthetically as well as in terms of handling. It’s similar to vinyl versus digital in audio. Its about more than just the sound/picture quality.

            Film users should enjoy it while they still can. It may not be that much longer.

            Most of the damage was done more than a decade ago. While some companies and emulsions were lost to production things do seem to have stabilized. Ilford films barely had a hiccup, albeit they weren’t that big to being with, Fuji has started re-introducing discontinued emulsions, same with Kodak and Lomo doesnt seem to have any problems selling whatever old Agfa emulsions they’ve re-branded. DP Review now regularly features film/film camera reviews. There are enough film users to support an industry, just not an industry as big as it was in the late 90s.
            Given some of the latest rumors about Olympus’ camera division it looks like Kodak Film may outlive some of the digital contenders that were meant to replace it.

            1. Carolinian

              There are also still film users in Hollywood although most movies are now shot on digital. I wouldn’t dispute that some of those European available light, color but not Technicolor films from the sixties are uniquely beautiful. But I also agree with Stanley Donen who said at the end of the day the camera is just a pen–something you write with. Content is what counts.

              1. Acacia

                Nevertheless, Stanley Donen was a film director, not a novelist. Singin’ in the Rain would not have been terribly interesting as a written text, whereas it’s very interesting as a movie.

                1. Carolinian

                  But would it still be interesting if shot with a digital camera instead one using film? You are totally missing his point which is that those who think film making is all about photography don’t understand the medium. It’s about what you put in front of the camera.

                  Of course some films are about photography but not the Hollywood kind that Donen made.

  4. JohnnyGL

    Warren scores another one….this time in her own net!!!


    Krystal Ball with a brutally accurate takedown. She’s right….rotten political instincts. And it’s clear a lot of her staff hires do, too! That’s doubly-bad. But, you’d have to say…it’s also the kind of thing that allows a group of people to get together and decide that a DNA test to ‘prove’ Native American ancestry is a good idea.

    Has she fired anyone over any of these incidents? If she keeps making mistakes like this, she’ll never get near the Oval Office, except as a visitor.

    1. Baby Gerald

      Thanks for sharing this, JohnnyGL. The Rising has quickly become one of my favorite news programs. Krystal and Saagar are punching way above their weight on a regular basis and neither of them is afraid to call BS when they smell it– whether it be emanating from a politician’s statement, a strategist guest with a bias, or an interviewee with an agenda.

      Krystal is killing it on a regular basis. Her appearance on Bill Maher a few weeks back was epic, as well. And while Saagar is a self-described conservative who supported Trump in 2016, I’d prefer his analysis to anything I’m hearing on MSDNC, C[IA]NN or anywhere else in mainstream media. I expect to deploy their clips on certain TDS-suffering friends and relatives this Thanksgiving and would strongly suggest others to do the same. The Rising is restoring my hope for a return to sanity.

    1. Plenue

      A few years ago there was an anime film that was a fictionalized account of Hokusai’s daughter, who was a painter in her own right.


      And more on the daughter https://japanobjects.com/features/katsushika-oi

      “It’s said that Oi’s name – sometimes written as Oei, and also referred to as Eijo – was derived from おい, the Japanese equivalent of ‘hey you!’, which some historians report was what Hokusai called her, an embodiment of the playful nature of the pair.”

  5. TroyIA

    “The Right Way to Reduce Your China Product Costs“

    Lately all of the posts on China Law Blog have been excellent at explaining the risks of operating in China. After reading there one really begins to realize just how different the west and China are in regards to their economic systems. The odds of ever having a meaningful trade deal that doesn’t lead to the complete overhaul of one sides economic system is increasing small.

    I went from expecting a superficial trade deal to now expecting a second Trump term that will ultimately lead to attempting to kick China out of the WTO or having the U. S. pulling out of the WTO and starting a new organization that excludes China.

    Add in China’s USD shortage and sky high debt levels that are funded in USD expect to see some kind of economic crisis.

    1. cnchal

      Isn’t it interesting that the Chinese government is trying to help the factories, so people have jawbs and don’t riot in the streets.

      What you need to know about the new realities of China factory pricing is that the Chinese government is doing whatever it can to prop up its factories. More than anything, the Communist Party does not want to see factories closing and jobs being lost and huge numbers of people marching in the streets, as is happening in Hong Kong.

      So to avoid that, China has been doing the following (and more)

      It has reduced income tax rates for Chinese export manufacturers, thereby reducing overall costs by about 4%.
      China has reduced its VAT rates for the export of various (but not all) products, thereby reducing overall costs by roughly 4%.
      China has pushed down the value of the RMB, thereby increasing by about 4% the amount of RMB Chinese export manufacturers get from their Dollar/Euro sales.

      So right there we have about a 12% reduction in costs for China Factory.

      For contrast, the United States Postal Service, which delivers e-packets for Chinese firms very cheaply has delivered a crushing blow to small companies here using it’s service by increasing shipping costs by up to 400% depending on the package density using priority mail, and the latest word is that similar business crushing price increases are set to go into effect towards the end of January 2020 for packages that are shipped using retail ground.


      I suppose supporting Amazon with cheap shipping and the Chinese with cheap shipping, the losses have to be covered by someone, although I fail to see how this will work when tens of thousands of small businesses are put out of business, and ship nothing ever after.

      1. D. Fuller

        USPS is a victim of a bipartisan law designed to bankrupt the USPS. Law was passed in 2005. Republicans see it as breaking the postal union and introducing (more expensive) competition. What Democrats who voted for the law were thinking is beyond reason.


        Who doesn’t want increased prices and your parcels being delivered by a minimum wage employee at Staples from a mailbox you have to rent from them?

        The bipartisan effort in 2005 resulting in massive financial woes of The USPS is nothing more than a war on workers and wages.

        1. John Zelnicker

          @D. Fuller
          November 18, 2019 at 6:08 pm

          Exactly right.

          The details are that the bipartisan bill required the USPS to fund the next 75 years of pension, health, and welfare benefits for USPS employees. And, to do it in a very few years (10, IIRC)

          This had 2 salutary effects for the privateers. One, private enterprise could make the case that they can do it cheaper, and, two, there would be a massively over-funded pension that could be raided for the excess cash while turning over the minimum assets required to the government’s Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. This would also have the effect of reducing promised pension benefits to the minimum guaranteed by the PBGC, which is much lower than originally promised.

    2. BrianC

      Few years ago, my current client decided to end their manufacturing of product in China.

      Unfortunately they told the employees they were all being fired and they were shutting the plant down a couple of months before the company sent anyone from the US of A over to pack everything up…

      So… When the team arrived, they found a plant stripped completely bare. All the tooling, test fixtures and inventory… gone. Even the servers with source and IP were *disappeared*. There were a great number of *very angry* employees left on the premises though.

        1. TroyIA

          China’s Banks Are Running Out of Dollars

          Is China’s concern over a possible US dollar shortage risk forcing companies to sell overseas assets?

          China’s need for US dollars to repay debts, pay for imports and fund Belt and Road initiative projects may exceed its US$3.1 trillion in foreign exchange reserves

          . . .

          The government’s dramatic about-face from encouraging aggressive overseas acquisitions to cracking down on risky lending and overseas transfers underscores worries over the risk that the nation could run short of enough US dollars to make the interest and principal payments on its mounting debt at a time when the current account balance is coming under pressure.

          . . .

          But analysts believe China’s reserves may be insufficient to pay for its massive imports and debt payments in response to a worse-case scenario caused by the ongoing trade war with the United States, particularly since many of its assets cannot readily be turned into cash to help the central bank to save a crashing financial system or sharp devaluation of the yuan’s exchange rate.
          “In reality, they don’t have as much as US$3.1 trillion of liquid reserves,” said Rabobank analyst Michael Every. “I would estimate they probably only have a little bit more liquid reserves than what they hold in US Treasuries.”
          US Treasury data shows that US$1.1 trillion of China’s reserves are invested in US government bonds, with more than US$200 billion invested in US agency debt and US$280 billion in US corporate stocks, although as with most nations, it is hard to obtain an exact picture of the composition of China’s US$3.1 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

          That SCMP link is part of a 3 part series which does a good job of explaining things better than I can.

        2. TroyIA

          My other post is in moderation so I may have to repost those links. In the mean time here’s a thread about China and debt.

          A Thread on #China. Some data and some thoughts. I hope you find it useful.

          11/ #China’s economic growth has depended so heavily on debt that it now needs 7.68 units of credit to produce 1 unit of GDP growth, 5x more than 10 years ago. If we “adjust” this for the GDP overstatement the number comes out to ~9.74 units of credit for 1 unit of GDP growth.

          12/ So, #China needs more and more debt to produce the same GDP growth rate. Chinese banking assets are now ~50% of Global GDP. At their respective peaks, #US banking assets reached 32% of Global GDP (in 1985) & #Japan’s banking assets were 27% of Global GDP (in 1994).

  6. Amfortas the hippie

    i see things like the DMR thing on giant windmill blades going to the dump, and i think “building material”.
    it is rumored that we have a homeless problem, after all.

    (similar to my passion for discarded telephone poles…although i doubt those giant vanes have the same toxicity)

    1. petal

      I was thinking the same thing-can’t they be used to build things? Camping shelters, roofing, decking, raised garden boundaries, art installations, etc? What a waste.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I cannot readily find details, but they appear to be made of a stronger version of what sailboats are made of.
        and here’s a pic of one under construction:

        pretty spacious!

        if they wanna bring me one(cut up in say 30 foot sections), I’ll experiment…i’ve been wanting a couple of cabins on the place.
        (i’ll be a shoe-in for the cover of Mother Earth News,lol)

        1. Danny

          Curved side up forming walls and roof, south facing windows, igloo doors, interior lined with cement to prevent fiberglass fallout, sheetrock interior walls, one of those blades could house dozens, maybe hundreds, temporarily or permanantly. The savings from landfill fees alone could pay for all improvements.
          Talk about a Longhouse…

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            ” interior lined with cement to prevent fiberglass fallout”
            my dad had a few when i was a kid, and as the oldest, i’d be tasked with the more unpleasant jobs: fiberglass maintenance and repair.
            they had coatings for interiors 40 years ago…surely they have improved in that time.
            I’d need more specifics on what’s actually in the blades.
            i envision hobbitholes and “treehouses”.
            juke joints and dancehalls.

        2. Goyo Marquez

          I wonder if that is not a picture of the upright portion of the windmills under construction, not the vanes. The upright portions on the ones here in the Southern California desert are really large, like light house large at the base. Up in Palm Springs they started using ones that look more like a traditional oil drilling derrick, they actually look nicer.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            we have a large, east-west running hill complex that bisects the county…ideal for those things, due to the ever present wind.
            a “grass roots” organisation sprung up within minutes…”save our heritage”(???)…that turned out to have connections to oil, gas and frac sand.
            so the windmills got put up in the much poorer county to the north.
            when in abilene for wife’s teacher conference, i had occasion to go stand underneath one of them….huge…and while not silent, they produced a soothing woosh woosh…standing right there, it wasn’t bothersome…but i wouldn’t put a hunting trailer under it.
            can’t even hear them 100 feet away.
            i have not observed them….near or far…during one of our hellish squall lines.
            that might cause me to amend my opinion.

            and! one of the “save our heritage” antiwind people lectured me once about her nibyism…she just didn’t want to look at them
            my reply:” i’m sure the people in Pasadena, Texas,(& deer park, texas city, freeport, ingleside(corpus), bridge city, port arthur, clute, and on up the gulf coast to at least alabama) aren’t thrilled about having the apparatus necessary to fuel your giant frelling vehicle across the street from their house, either….let alone the weird cancers that come with having such neighbors. windmills, to my knowledge, do not cause cancer”

  7. Danny

    On wage theft…

    I’ve observed some revenge on that front. Large national home despotic chain employees are routinely allowing expensive things to go out the door at seriously low prices. The stacked shuffle, whereby the bottom item gets scanned, but the top doesn’t, poof, into the bag go both, the undercounting of dimensional lumber that cannot be scanned, hitting 10x the first cheap item with the other nine more expensive behind it, the various other tricks, and don’t even get me started on the returns.

    Bemused observation and a wink, a slight nod of the cashier one lane over, and suddenly, mistreating your employees and underpaying them is not such a good idea.

    Remember, the Ten Commandments only apply to those with a soul.
    Corporations do not have a soul.
    Therefore, it’s a people indulgence to strike back at them.

    1. russell1200

      That is a common shoplifting technique. It is why they check receipts on the way out the door: although I presume nowadays they can do it real time electronically.

      1. Titus

        Not legal in non-membership stores, have to have probable cause. Don’t give up your rights just because of a ‘say so’.

    2. The Historian

      I just a heard of a book called “The Weapons of the Weak” by anthropologist James Scott. I may have to read it. It may give me ideas.

  8. EricT

    The simulation will be corrected to randomize the rotation speeds of the distant galaxies. We didn’t expect the test population to see that far into the simulation and tried to conserve processing power. Specs and use cases are being collected, make your mark on the next revision of the Universe! /s

  9. flora

    re:“Hokusai: old man, crazy to paint” [1843].

    wow! Thanks for this link. Bookmarked for re-reading.

  10. anon y'mouse

    more revealing about the craft fair, to my mind is this:

    people don’t want to do nothing with their off-time but sit on their hands watching videos stream. they want to create. crafting is creating something, usually using one’s hands and mind together, and finding solutions to problems.

    that is a human universal that even hours of drudgery seems to be unable to eradicate.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I think that I recognize this. You have had them in villages for centuries in every country and they are called “markets”. People freely coming together to buy and sell stuff whether home-made or second-hand. There was no massive retailer trying to control everything being sold, under what conditions and subject to their approval. There was also no Silicon Valley mob trying to cram themselves into every single transaction and taking a piece of the action. People, face to face, looking for stuff that they want or need. What a concept.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Markets…people freely coming together.

        It seems that those markets were free…or free markets. Small scale free market economies,

        1. Oregoncharles

          Not that free. They were regulated by social pressure and norms. If you screw your neighbor on a trade, they have ways to get back at you. And mass social disapproval is a very strong motivator – the reason we wear clothes on hot days.

        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          Perhaps the difference is that the thing itself is sold (assuming, as an animist, that such a thing is possible), as opposed to the rights to the thing, which leads directly to finance, hence to rents, etc.

  11. drumlin woodchuckles

    About those spent wind turbine blades . . . maybe we could make public sculptures out of them.


  12. zagonostra


    Quote from Earnest Cassirer’s “The Myth of the State” is a nice diagnosis of the decrepit political class, Democrat and Republican alike.

    The appetite for power is the clearest example of that fundamental vice that in Plato’s language, is described as “pleonexia” – as the hunger for more and more.” This craving for more and more exceeds all measure and destroys all measure – and since measure, right proportion, “geometrical equality” had been declared by Plato to be the standard of the health of private and public life, it follows that the will to power, if it prevails over all other impulses necessarily leads to corruption and destruction. “Justice” and the “will to power” are the opposite poles…

    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      Will to power has been there all along, previously though people had the decency to cloak it with higher motivations, “public service”, “freedom and democracy”, “Lebensraum”, and the entire plethora of lesser justifications (women’s rights, social justice et alia).

      Seems to me that Hilary’s latest emission is as naked and in your face as anything in recent times. Me, Because Me. And its derivatives: Me Because I’m a Woman, Me Because Otherwise You Are A Bad Person, Me Because Someone Stole It From Me, Me Because Its My Turn, etc.

    1. petal

      oh my god that is brilliant! How could anyone working on this(the motto and rollout) do it with a straight face?

    2. ewmayer

      Back when I lived in Cleveland in the late 90s, one early-winter evening, after a heavy-snowfall forecast had proved overdone and all we got was a dusting, was watching one of the local newscasts whose hook was “Live!” and the intro to that evening’s Weather segment consisted of the anchorette turning to the weather guy and asking, “So ____, where’s those 8 inches you promised me?”, followed by her turning beet red and burying mortified face in hands to the accompaniment of gales of laughter from offscreen crew.

      Proving once again, as you note, that inadvertent humor is the best kind.

  13. BrianC

    Ah… The ministorage unit building boom…

    20,000 years from now graduate student sentient beings (may or not be members of homo sapiens) will be excavating these things for their research. Every so often they will find a body in one of them…

    This is a *King/Queen* they will say! And this building held all of his/her stuff! Much research and speculation will follow. Careers will be made…

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      Future archaeologist:

      “…For the well-heeled King/Queen, we find that a substance known as ‘cement’ was used to preserve and protect their bodies within a further outer vessel made of steel known as a ’55-gallon-drum’…”

      “…other remains found in less-elaborate tumulus were only encased within a smaller and much less protective housing called a ‘deep-freeze’ (without any ‘concrete’ at all) and are thus supposed to be of the lesser nobility, or perhaps those of people with no royal blood, but who wished to mimic the burial practices of the upper-class…”

      “…The most interesting find in the region, as-yet to be full understood, is the fossilized remains of someone named ‘Jimmy Hoffa’, who – because his body was entombed within a massive stadium, likely used for gladiatorial type combats, may well be one of greatest warriors of his day…”

  14. PKMKII

    The striking thing about the Jalopnik article about VMT and use of chauffeurs is that it indicates that, for all the concern about oil prices, it’s not the price at the pump that deterred these people from driving more, as only the chauffeur is getting comped, not the gas. It’s just the unpleasantness of being behind the wheel. Now obviously, it’s a bit skewed as we’re talking about people who have the means to live in the Bay Area and own a car, and not people with lower incomes or who live in places that are less congested. But it still points to the fact that, for all the romanticizing about the freedom and pleasure of driving, it’s a fundamentally irritating process.

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      I am whining most of the time when I have to drive now. Having to pay attention to the speedy metal missile every dang second. It’s no wonder people are ready to believe in self-driving, the alternative is acknowledging years of your future spent concentrating on pointing the wheel just right so you don’t die. So liberating.

      And I had totally forgotten what a drudge parking lots are.

    2. Jessica

      They know they only have the chauffeur for one week, so they are going to use it all they can. You would have to give it to them for much longer to find out how much extra they would really use a self-driving car.

  15. Louis Fyne

    “Liberal Democrats …… Nobody takes them seriously about the rule of law, because when they had the chance to enforce it — and the country would have been with them, all the way, …..

    Obama + Schumer (D-NY) + Clinton (D-NY) created Trump. In an alternate timeline there were a few perp walks in 2009-10 and Trump is spending his time hosting the Apprentice, launching a streaming service and playing a lot of golf.

  16. Bugs Bunny

    About Trump’s health.

    I don’t care how self-centered, or self-confident, or just plain nuts you are, if you are the President of the United States, an impeachment process in the House of Representatives has got to raise your blood pressure.

    Or maybe worse.

    1. D. Fuller

      The rank-and-file Republicans I know hate Mitt Romney. If Centrists Democrats think they are going to take away Republican votes with Deval Patrick from MITT ROMNEY’S BAIN CAPITAL?

      That might be a tough sell.

      Sure, Deval Patrick might appeal to suburban Republicans. Hillary tried that and look how far that got her…

      1. Geo

        As is said almost everyday here, and will be for the foreseeable future: “Democrats Would Rather Lose Than Win With A Progressive”

    2. notabanker

      The entrance of the former Massachusetts governor into the presidential race is more proof the party has no clue where the votes are”

      the votes are inside the computerized voting machines. I think they know exactly where they are.

  17. aj

    RE: “There’s Growing Evidence That the Universe Is Connected by Giant Structures”

    It’s almost like these galaxies were much closer to each other at some point in the past and that their alignments and spins once linked, remain somewhat in sync millions of years later. While pretty cool, it’s hardly “change everything we know about the universe’ material. We have known about galaxy filaments since the late ’80s

    1. ewmayer

      Not to be snarky, but when I read “some galaxies show dynamic links across distances too great to be explained by their individual gravitational fields”, I immediately thought “OK, but what about their *collective* gravitational field?” I mean, if we can *observe* it, that means light, and hence gravitation, has had time to travel between it and us. In that large-scale context, “tens of millions of light years” is not at all far. The Andromeda galaxy, our nearest galactic neighbor, is a full 2 million light years away, ferrchrissake.

      1. aj

        To me, this is just another example of an interesting science find trumped up by an editor. It really is interesting that these galaxies are so linked–much more so than we would expect. However there are logical explanations provided by known phenomena. I would find the article much more interesting if they just presented the science without goosing up the importance.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe it is some sort of Force and that “It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”

    3. Jessica

      If their alignments and spins remain linked in some way that the forces we know about cannot explain, they a successful explanation might well change everything we know. How about quantum entanglement at a super-macro level?

  18. Danny

    “a craft fair can attract 22,000 people to the struggling Bangor Mall”

    And I hope that all those customers paid in cash, thus saving the merchants anywhere from .50 with Square to up to a credit card’s 6% on each and every transaction.

    Think of the boost to the local economy that provides. How many times does money spent locally recirculate through the multiplier effect? EIGHT TIMES.

    “Imagine a hypothetical influx of money, say one million dollars, entering a local economy. Now imagine these dollars are spent on local goods and services. Imagine that each of the local vendors who earned those dollars then re-spends that money on more local goods and services. Envision this cycle happening several times before this money is finally spent on imports – goods or services from outside the region.”

    “In this case, those one million dollars recirculating eight times would act much like eight million dollars by increasing revenue and income opportunities for local producers.”

    “Now another scenario: picture that same amount of money being spent immediately at stores (or online) with businesses headquartered in other regions on imported goods. These transactions would add very little or no value to the local economy; one million dollars would act just like one million dollars instead of several million dollars.”

    Taking that into account, how would sending $148 Billion out of our local communities,
    before it gets a chance to be spent,
    affect them?

    148 Billion X 8 is 1,184 TRILLION on my calculator.
    Isn’t that like 1/20th of the entire U.S. economy? I’m surprised no economist has ever mentioned this as part of a declining sales tax base, scarcity of capital and poverty in the U.S.

  19. Lee

    Today’s plantidote and Chi Gal’s linked comment remind me of two haiku:

    The melons which last year
    I scolded him for eating, I now
    Offer to his spirit.


    I know well
    That June rains
    Just fall.


    1. ChiGal in Carolina

      Thanks for that, Lee. Yes, the melons…
      Was that your pit bull that ran as the antidote the other day?

      Funny coincidence if so: I am of mixed Tamil and WASP descent, so brown-skinned. I married a first-generation German immigrant and our son basically looked “white”.

      During the worst of his adolescent invincibility, I used to think how nice it would be to have a dog, because someone would actually be happy to see me.

      I used to joke that I was gonna get me a pit bull and name it White Boy. There I would be, a person of color in a park on the south side of Chicago hollering out, “White Boy, c’mere, c’mon White Boy, time to go home!”

      That antidote made me think it’s time to get that pup.

      1. Lee

        They require gentle but firm training and early socialization with kids and other critters. My dog, Lady Barksalot, we found running terrified in the street on a dark and stormy night. We suspect she was not treated well as she was a bit fearful of and aggressive toward other dogs for a time— particularly little aggressive ones that we assume she mistook for attack rodents (I blame the owners who so often never bother to train the little beasties). But since then she has developed into one of the sweetest dogs I’ve ever had.

  20. Fern

    Concerning the impeachment hearings:

    Yes, it’s been enlightening and very disturbing to see such graphic demonstrations of the oversimplified, unreconstructed hawkish cold-war assumptions and ideology held by our ambassadors and high-ranking foreign policy personnel, many of them appointed by Obama, our president who campaigned on a platform of peaceful coexistence.

    Yovanovitch, an Obama appointee, testified that Trump’s actions had a destructive effect on “ ‘national security and the delicate balance of geopolitical forces operating in and around Ukraine, a struggling democracy and battleground for great power competition ever since the Russians invaded five years ago’. ‘With the right support from the United States’. Ms. Yovanovitch testified, Ukraine ‘could move out of Russia’s orbit’.” (NYT)

    It never occurred to Yovanovitch that the president has the constitutional authority to change the direction of our foreign policy to one of detente and cooperation with Russia and that the goal of moving Ukraine “out of Russia’s orbit” — Russia is after all Ukraine’s closest neighbor and Ukraine and Russia have many important economic and cultural ties — is not a goal enshrined in our constitution.

    As usual, the Democrats are attacking Trump from the hawkish, neoconservative right. And they’re effectively brainwashing the liberal Democrat rank and file in this ideology.

    1. anon in so cal

      Accounts of Hill’s and Yovanovitch’s actions re: Ukraine suggest their pathological hatred of Russia had serious implications:

      “This didn’t deter Hill from testifying that the conspiracy to remove Yovanovitch originated in Moscow. “The most obvious explanation at that point, it has to be said, seemed to be business dealings of individuals who wanted to improve their investment positions inside of Ukraine itself, and also to deflect away from the findings of not just the Mueller report on Russian interference but what’s also been confirmed by your own Senate report, and what I know myself to be true as a former intelligence analyst and somebody who has been working on Russia for more than 30 years.”

      The Russian motive, Hill hinted, was that Yovanovitch had been one of the supporters of a display of US Navy firepower in the Black Sea, after the November 25 Kerch Strait incident; for details of what exactly happened, and the Ukrainian role in initiating it”


      Similarly, the impeachment charade has weakened Zelensky’s prospects to hammer out an agreement with Putin.

  21. anon in so cal



    “1/ Ciaramella was personally involved in issuing Biden demand that Shokin be fired as condition for IMF $1 billion. Ukr prosecutors informed of demand by US officials at Jan 19, 2016 meeting in Washington https://zn.ua/POLITICS/ssha-privyazali-predostavlenie-ukraine-kreditnyh-garantiy-k-otstavke-shokina-201985_.html, one month before Shokin resignation.”



    1. John k

      Keep seeing the same names…
      Maybe deep state is actually a not very deep bench that somehow got themselves promoted bc their views were in align with a new leader… like Hillary at state… but most of the balance in the org are not so extreme. If so a new leader with a few hundred appointments might bring about rapid change.

  22. dearieme

    Every day, more than 141 billion liters of water are used solely to flush toilets. With millions of global citizens experiencing water scarcity, what if that amount could be reduced by 50%?…

    These people are mad. If I halved my flushing activity it wouldn’t make the slightest difference to people in those parts of the world where there’s a shortage of water. And if we had a shortage of water in this dry corner of England we need only pipe in water from the wet parts, which might well be cheaper than repiping our houses so we divert used dishwater into the loo. Or we could collect rainwater from our roofs for watering the garden, as people did in a dry part of Australia when we lived there.

    Hell, our water shortage here is so non-existent that we don’t even insist on every house having a water meter.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “At the Times, a Hesitance to Hyperlink”

    Maybe if the Times is just going to rip off other people’s work and pretend that it was their own “quality” work, they should just become another Google News and leave the serious news work to people who can do it – people like Krystal Ball and Jimmy Dore. :)

  24. Tim

    There’s Growing Evidence That the Universe Is Connected by Giant Structures”

    My hypothesis is there are no structures, simply the Big Bang wasn’t a linear vector event, the mass distribution was uneven and therefore there were swirling motions associated with the expansion, and angular momentum is a thing. Things really far away from each other used to be really close to each other when a force acted on them and induced the current movement

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Uneven distribution…


      Uneven, but not necessarily unequal, as we first look above (space), then below.(earth).

    2. The Historian

      Per my son who is definitely a theoretical physics geek: Your hypothesis is seriously being considered by physicists as we speak. There are too many anomalies and clumps in the background cosmic radiation data for a linear or uniform expansion theory to work.

        1. The Historian

          Could be! Although I have a strong physics and math background, some of the new stuff escapes me. My son does try hard to keep me current, though. I won’t tell you about the half hour lecture I got from him when I mistakenly said dark energy instead of dark matter in one of our conversations.

  25. JohnnyGL


    My hot-take….Warren’s fading a bit, and Biden is picking up part of her support. Buttigieg creeping up and he’s probably taking a bit off Warren, too.

    Under the radar….Bernie’s up in 2nd choice and still leads in favorability.

    He’s even showing up as 2nd choice among some Harris and Buttigieg supporters. That’s an improvement from prior Morning Consult polls that I haven’t seen before.

  26. poopinator

    Buttigieg speaks at black college in push to boost support


    I just love this tidbit from the article:

    John Gray spoke briefly to Buttigieg after the forum, asking more about the Douglass Plan and being referred to the candidate’s website for additional information. After taking a selfie with the mayor, Gray acknowledged to a reporter that his initial impression of Buttigieg based off social media and friends was that Buttigieg was “phony,” a perception he said wasn’t disproved by the candidate’s speech.

  27. Duck1

    I have to note that earlier today I looked at the Aristocrats link put up by one of our fine commentariat, which was seriously outre. I am now getting ads for rat exterminators. The algo is strong, my friends.

    1. Oregoncharles

      I’ve clicked repeatedly on an ad for rugs that popped up, so now it’s about all I see. It’s nice – very pretty, not distracting. Should probably click on it again pretty soon.

  28. meeps

    Re: GoFundMe tweet

    Medical GoFundMe has become chronic. I recently discovered one for a high school friend who can’t work because his MS no longer permits it. His mother, a widow and T1 diabetic, had a stroke and is under his care and wheelchair bound. He has two young children and a wife working desperately to hold everything together.

    Politicians like Warren, with “long-term plans” to “fight for” an “option,” are not just callous, they’ll be at fault for breaking multitudes more people along the way.

  29. Lambert Strether Post author

    I want to highlight that tweet about David Roth under “Our Famously Free Press.” He’s describing a real act of humane solidarity under immense pressure.

    I don’t want to go all Pollyanna with you all, because that would be extremely off-brand, but in my view, there are many more such individuals and many more acts than we know about or can even imagine; they don’t feed a climate of fear, which seems to be dominant theme of what passes for news these days. The same applies to GoFundMe’s for health care. It is true that they are bandaids on the cancer of health care for profit, but they too exhibit solidarity, and we should remember that.

    Rant over….

  30. Basil Pesto

    My fave thing about that Vice article on the Times was the gentle parody of the syntax of the latter’s headlines, which I personally find insufferable.

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