2:00PM Water Cooler 11/6/2017

By Lambert Strether of .

Readers, I took too long struggling in and out of my yellow waders, writing about the Donna Brazile and the DNC. Talk amongst yourselves, and I’ll return in a bit with more. –lambert UPDATE 4:20PM All done. The material is a bit oddly distributed today, because I found myself writing several little mini-essays.

Politics

2016 Post Mortem

“The DNC/HFA Agreement & Donna Brazile’s Growing Pile of Nonsense” [Josh Marshall, ]. I don’t link to Marshall for the same reason I don’t link to other party organs like Breitbart; I mean, it’s called “Talking Points” Memo for a reason, no? But just this one time… Putting aside the sloppy writing for a moment (“But they also wanted control over the building of the what they expected to inherit”) check this out: “As I wrote in yesterday’s post, there’s nothing here that remotely qualifies as ‘rigging’ the election. That is inflammatory talk and frankly a smear. Just why Brazile went that route I do not know and don’t care to speculate.” As I wrote (see footnote 4, here) Brazile, in her Politico piece, does not actually claim that the primary was rigged, so she didn’t “go that route.” Marshall is a careless reader, besides being a sloppy writer. (I think Brazile is wrong, and Warren, who does claim the primary was “rigged,” is right. And yet Marshall reserves his efforts at character assassination for Brazile only. One can only wonder why.)

“OPEN LETTER FROM HILLARY FOR AMERICA 2016 TEAM” []. 216 signatures (not including Clinton finance chair Gary Gensler, who was so helpful to Donna Brazile). A few points, first the second sentence of the lead:

It is particularly troubling and puzzling that [Brazile] would seemingly buy into false Russian-fueled propaganda, spread by both the Russians and our opponent, about our candidate’s health.

.

Holy moley. When Clinton collapsed on September 11, 2016, and her staff had to drag her into her van like a sack of potatoes, the whole country saw it.

If these people think it took Russian propaganda to make people who saw that video concerned about Clinton’s health, then it’s no wonder they lost the election. (Clinton takes coumadin, as did my mother. My mother had a fall, hit her head, and the blood clot that formed killed her. When I saw Clinton fall, that’s what I thought of. It didn’t take Russians to make me think that.)

Second, this odd passage:

Finally, we are pretty tired of people who were not part of our campaign telling the world what it was like to be on the inside of our campaign and how we felt about it. We loved our candidate and each other and it remains our honor to have been part of the effort to make Hillary Clinton the 45th President of the United States.

I can’t imagine who “the team” has in mind, here, because Brazile doesn’t claim to be part of the Clinton campaign (except, I suppose, when she was passing them debate questions, for which they seem insufficiently grateful). Second, who cares if “we loved our candidate and each other”? Who cares? Spare me! The passage reminds me forcibly of :

Everyone strode with polished informality about the stage, reading their lines from an invisible teleprompter. And back and forth, the presenters called out to one another in tones of supportiveness and sweet flattery.

… Chelsea Clinton, who announced herself “completely awed” by the “incredible swell of people and partners” who had participated in some event the previous day, invited us to hearken to the “inspiring voices of leaders, of communities, of companies, of countries.”

Those were just the first few minutes. It kept on like that for hours. When someone’s “potential” was mentioned, it was described as “boundless.” People’s “stories” were “compelling” when they weren’t “inspiring,” “incredible,” or “incredibly inspiring.”

Maybe if there had been fewer sycophantic Schwärmerei in the Clinton hive mind, it would have invested its resources in the states needed to win the electoral college, as opposed to running up the score in states that didn’t matter; that “three million votes” talking point isn’t proof of competence or even good faith; quite the reverse. Or maybe less worshipful staffers would have been able to help Clinton invent a good reason for running. Who knows?

Oh, and I almost forgot! The author of this screed, Jesse Ferguson, is the author of this piece, from Politico: So you can see that Schumer’s idea of throwing working class voters under the bus — those that are not already under the bus — in order to appeal to wealthy suburban Republicans is not only alive and well, it’s regarded as credible by all 216 signatories of his “OPEN LETTER” in Medium. Wowsers.

“Why Donna Brazile’s Story Matters – But Not for the Reason You Might Think” [Matt Taibbi, ]. Taibbi writes that “Actually, what Brazile found were things we mostly already knew.” I don’t agree; the detail is important. It’s one thing to know that you’ve been the victim of sleight of hand; it’s another to know exactly how the trick was worked. However, this:

The point of the Brazile story isn’t that the people who “rigged” the primary were afraid of losing an election. It’s that they weren’t afraid of betraying democratic principles, probably because they didn’t believe in them anymore.

If you’re not frightened by the growing appeal of that line of thinking, you should be. There is a history of this sort of thing. And it never ends well.

The defenestation of Ellison and the purging of Sanders people from the DNC fall into much the same pattern.

Recently, a reader commented that a lot of the material in “2016 Post Mortem” could also fit in “Realignment and Legitimacy.” How right they were!

2017

“Virginia Governor – Gillespie vs. Northam” []. The average of all polls: Northam 3.3% (Friday: 3.5%). Monmouth; FOX.

“There seems to be little doubt that [the Gillespie vs. Northam] race is narrowing in the final days, although there is disagreement among pollsters as to just how much…. Some of this variability we see isn’t due to sampling effects; it is due to pollster assumptions about what the electorate looks like” []. “[T]his is entirely independent of the error you see reported in error margins. Worse, you can’t minimize this error through aggregation. To borrow statistical terms, there’s no Law of Large Numbers for opinions; while I suspect these errors average out to zero over time, there’s no formal proof for this.” Very useful; the whole thing is worth a read.

Stats Watch

A dull day in the world of official statistics!

Employment Situation: “October 2017 Conference Board Employment Index Growth Rate Significantly Improves” []. “The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index – which forecasts employment for the next 6 months improved with the author’s saying ‘The bounce back in the Employment Trends Index in October was one of the largest monthly increases ever.'” The Conference Board index is an aggregate of indices; Econintersect comments; “Unfortunately many of these indices are not accurate in real time being subject to at times significant backward revision.”

Retail: “The e-commerce giant generally controls pricing only on the goods it sells directly, but the new lower prices come with a tag that the “discount is provided by Amazon.” The discounts could be a mixed bag for some merchants, helping drive sales at no extra cost to the seller while unexpectedly depleting inventory. And they could violate a merchant’s agreement with a brand on pricing of products. Third-party sales have become more important to Amazon, boosting revenue without adding inventory, and the company is showing it’s willing to pay for a bigger share of the market” []. Since Amazon — unlike the supplier — doesn’t have to make a profit, and because there’s still so much free money sloshing about, the “discount provided by Amazon” can be just about anything, can’t it? Isn’t this a weird, even a Soviet-style, pricing signal?

Retail: “Kroger Co. plans to launch an apparel line in the coming year in a bid to bring more shoppers into its stores” []. “The clothing line will operate under a private-label umbrella, part of a broader move by the grocer to push its own branded products.” I grew up in the Midwest, and I have very fond memories of the Kroger logo (they gave Green Stamps). So I think they should plaster the Kroger logo all over everything, heck with the private label:

It’s so retro, it’s futuristic!

Big Ag: “Americans may have some competition this year for a staple of their holiday dinner table. A newfound taste among Chinese consumers for cranberries is turning the berries into a booming export busines” []. “the consumer tastes for those imports are triggering more investment in supply chains within China, including the refrigeration needed to get the goods to market.” If refrigeration means that the default Chinese food shopper doesn’t shop for fresh food every day, that will be very bad not only for Chinese cuisine, but for Chinese health. Bring on the High Fructose Corn Syrup!

The Bezzle: “WeWork Is Launching a Grade School for Budding Entrepreneurs” []. “The $20 billion startup, built on a vast network of hip co-working spaces where entrepreneurs and freelancers rent desks, is making its move into children’s education, launching a private elementary school for “conscious entrepreneurship” inside a New York City WeWork next fall. A pilot program of seven students, including one of the five young children of WeWork Cos. founders Adam and Rebekah Neumann, is under way.” So it’s a vanity project, then? Good of the “founder” squillionaires to use their own kids as guinea pigs, I must say; better than Gates, and DeVos, et al. Skin in the game, if not precisely one’s own.

Concentration: “TL;DR Chrome team breaks web to make Chrome perform better” []. Horrid mixture of technical detail and sausage making at a large monopoly.

Honey for the Bears: “Bank credit growth continues to decelerate, to where historically, after revisions, the economy would already be in recession. Housing and vehicles look like they are already reporting negative growth, and personal income growth has decelerated to about 0% growth, with personal spending holding positive only because people are dipping into savings, which historically has always been followed by a reduction in spending” (lots of FRED charts) []. Bumblebees can’t fly. . But Mosler is always worth reading, this post especially. Readers, thoughts?

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on Oil Supply/Price. “The price of oil has new yearly highs” []. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 185.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 66 Greed (previous close: 69, Greed) []. One week ago: 74 (Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed. Last updated Nov 2 at 8:00pm. Yes, that’s the date. A year ago: 14, Extreme fear. Election day was coming!

Health Care

“[A]pparently, even in California, one out of five consumers will see premiums increase because of the termination of CSR payments” []. This is a case denying the State’s request for an injunction against the Trump administration’s termination of CSR payments. Many states, including California, implemented the “Silver Switcharoo” (see Cfdtrade here), in essence dickering with the prices of Silver plans to make sure the government subsides, once provided by the CSR payments, continued through another mechanism. And so — surprise, surprise! — 20% of consumers will be screwed by the Silver Switcharoo, some going to Happyville, and others to Pain City. And nobody knows why! The judge writes: “[T]he states certainly haven’t offered a concrete explanation for why some people might see increased premiums.” it would be funny if it weren’t so sick…

“If you live in one of the places where the gold plan is cheaper than the silver plan, and you earn more than about $24,000, you should not buy the more expensive silver option. The gold plan will cost less, and have a lower deductible. There are also high-deductible bronze plans that will have substantially lower premiums that you may also want to consider. If you qualify for a government subsidy, those will be your best options” [Margot Sanger-Katz and Kevin Quealy, ]. Thank heavens we’ve got the neoliberals at the Times to explain to us how to be “Smart Shoppers.” I love that “about $24,000.” How much to you wanna bet that if you’re on the bubble, a few dollars this way or that make a huge difference? But wait! There’s more!

“How to Be a Smart Obamacare Shopper” [By Margot Sanger-Katz and and Haeyoun Park, ]. “But the pricing chaos has also created great deals for some consumers, who can sign up during open enrollment beginning today. Here’s our advice on how to shop — the best strategy depends on how much you earn.” Of course it does…

“Unlike Single Payer, Obamacare’s Design Neglects Black People” []. “Consider that the United States, as a deliberate feature of monetary policy, maintains about a 4% unemployment rate. This alone is damning evidence against an employment-based model. Then note, highlight, and carve deep into memory that black unemployment consistently doubles white unemployment, that the same is true of black poverty, and that the median white family is worth more than 33 times the median black family. The outcome is about what you’d expect: higher uninsured rates among black people. And a higher likelihood of experiencing all the horror that comes with―needless financial and physical ruin chief among them.”

“What Canada taught Bernie Sanders about health care” []. “‘It was interesting to talk to patients who said, ‘We believe health care is a right,’ Sanders responded. ‘I think if you walked out in the street and you talked to people, they would find it inconceivable that somebody would not be able to get the health care they need because they don’t have that money.’ Sanders is pointing toward a genuine chasm in the values that separates America from Canada. Recent Gallup polling finds that 52 percent of Americans believe the government should guarantee access to health care and 45 percent disagree.” Of course, if liberal Democrats would stop taking the conservative side on this issue, we might push 52% to a supermajority.

News of the Wired

“Current World Record of distant landscape photography” [].

“Facebook Says It’s Policing Fake Accounts. But They’re Still Easy to Spot.” []. So if they’re so easy to spot, why do they influence anybody? “Serious question,” as they say.

* * *

Readers, feel free to 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 put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (KH):

KH writes: “Caught this beauty outside of Yellville, Arkansas today. Aloha!”

Also, it would be nice to have more pictures of people’s gardens buttoned up for the winter, for those of you for whom winter is coming. And fall foliage, ditto. Looks like , but maybe people have some images sitting in their camera’s memory…

* * *

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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.

83 comments

  1. lyman alpha blob

    With the release of the “Paradise Papers”, the usual hysterical suspects are once again trying to find ties between the current US government and Russian oligarchs. Just a reminder that if they’re really so concerned about government corruption and collusion with the Russkies, perhaps instead of investigating the current government, they ought to go back a couple decades.

    This Nation article from about 20 years ago has an excellent rundown of how we got here – .

    The architect of privatization was former First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Chubais, a darling of the U.S. and Western financial establishments. Chubais’s drastic and corrupt stewardship made him extremely unpopular. According to The New York Times, he “may be the most despised man in Russia.”

    Essential to the implementation of Chubais’s policies was the enthusiastic support of the Clinton Administration and its key representative for economic assistance in Moscow, the Harvard Institute for International Development. Using the prestige of Harvard’s name and connections in the Administration, H.I.I.D. officials acquired virtual carte blanche over the U.S. economic aid program to Russia, with minimal oversight by the government agencies involved. With this access and their close alliance with Chubais and his circle, they allegedly profited on the side. Yet few Americans are aware of H.I.I.D.’s role in Russian privatization, and its suspected misuse of taxpayers’ funds.

    So after get Uncle Sugar’s man Yeltsin in power, who was probably too damn drunk to know what twas going on, the Clintons and their Harvard pals essentially took over Russian economic policy and rewote it according to the US’ liking so it would be easier for Western capitalists to do business.

    So who exactly meddled with whose country here?

    And now 25 years later after setting everything into motion and allowing corruption to run rampant just as long as it benefited their class of people, now that the chickens have come home to roost suddenly the Clintonites are shocked, shocked to find corruption between Russians and US business interests.

        1. Alex Morfesis

          Mister thomas and friends will get right on that for you…choo choo train man probably hopes his tenure as the kenneth starr of this presidency will last long enough to pass on a few hundred million to his friends in fees for service…

  2. Wukchumni

    This is one of my favorite backpack destinations, Sespe hot springs.

    …a 190 degree waterfall flows out of the side of a mountain about 30 feet up, and the trickiest part is finding a section of outlet stream in which to soak, as about 111 is all I can handle

    When we were there one time, this guy in the link brought out his camels, zebra and horse. It was the craziest thing i’ve ever seen in the wilderness…

  3. Robert Hahl

    Quadriga Consort – Gloomy Winter (Scottish Traditional)

    Quadriga Consort – The First Nowell (English Traditional)

    The above are from the first CD that I have bought in a long time because, no filler.

    All Them Witches – My Middle Name is The Blues – Secret Show

    Good band.

    Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard – It’s All Going to Pot

    Anti-drinking. A bad influence on the kids.

  4. epynonymous

    The buzz in international relations and poli sci has been “We live in a unipolar world now”, since the collapse of the USSR.

    It’s not even really meant to be taken seriously beyond the fact that we are now living in an age of de-facto US supremacy. However, the ‘two-party system’ here at home seems to be showing it’s uni-polarity.

    As the wars drag on, our good guy image is fading. The most recent attempt to re-popularize the wars is “SEALS” (featuring the actor from Angel and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.) I haven’t sat down an watched it, but the whole justification for the war is set out to his child as he goes to war, and it’s a long way down from the idealistic start to these wars.

    The headlines from Trump’s Pacific tour all seem pretty unfortunate, and I imagine that after a few days of scrutiny, our CIC will be pretty frustrated and will only devolve.

    In the 1850’s to the 1950’s the ‘innocent’ and ‘child-like’ status of America in the world served us well. As the reigning champion, the seeming naivete of US diplomacy is no longer an asset.

  5. allan

    [Guardian]

    Apple reacted to widespread criticism of its tax affairs by secretly shifting key parts of its empire to Jersey as part of a complex rearrangement that has allowed it to keep an ultra-low tax rate, according to an analysis of Paradise Papers documents.

    The move affected two of its most important subsidiaries, one of which is thought to hold the key to a company cash pile worth more than $250bn (£190bn). …

    Documents in the Paradise Papers show how Apple began to consider its options in 2014 following criticism of the way it was doing business through Ireland. A year earlier, a bipartisan US Senate committee had pilloried the company for seeking “the holy grail of tax avoidance”. It highlighted practices that had saved Apple from paying billions of dollars over decades. …

    Apple’s financial statements indicate that it has continued to enjoy a low tax rate on its international operations. The firm made $122bn in profits outside the US during that same three-year period, on which it was taxed $6.6bn – a rate of 5.4%. …

    Less than working stiffs pay in FICA taxes alone.

  6. Ben Fitzkee

    Robert Mueller is getting a lot of great press right now for all of his investigative wizardry. If only someone like Robert Mueller was in a position to investigate financial crimes, and corruption after the financial crisis…

    1. cocomaan

      If Mueller was in charge of an investigation into the financial crisis, they’d end up locking up everyone but the actual perps. The guy was horrible at his job. Look up his investigation of the anthrax mailings.

      1. Ben Fitzkee

        Was he horrible at his job, or doing exactly what he was expected to do? To stay at the head of the FBI for that long he must have made some very powerful people happy.

  7. Jim Haygood

    Returning from several weeks of radio silence, and the conversion of his comments from weekly to monthly frequency, the good Dr Hussman is back.

    Fortunately, from the standpoint of Bubble Believers fearful that he would finally capitulate and go leveraged long, Dr H is in fine form flailing the mad bulls:

    In my view, Wall Street is completely out of its gourd.

    Research, evidence, and historically-informed analysis can fight ignorance only when people value knowledge. The problem is that human beings are wired to chase what they associate with pleasure, and to shun what they associate with discomfort.

    Recall the dot-com bubble [Bubble I]. Recall the housing bubble [Bubble II]. Investors, given enough pleasure in the moment, will find rationalizations that allow them to maintain ignorant bliss, even if the long-term consequences are repeatedly devastating.

    The more investors speculate, the more they tend to become impressed by the outcomes of their own speculation, which temporarily results in self-reinforcing bubbles. My honest opinion is that Wall Street has gone completely mad.

    Meanwhile (as is their wont) today the mad hatters and moon bayers are driving the Dow, S&P and Nasdaq toward fresh closing highs, as Dr H furiously shakes his cane at their blissful ignorance.

    1. Wukchumni

      The story goes that in the midst of the Dutch tulip bubble in the 1630’s, the most valuable one was a semper augustus, worth a nice house in terms of valuation, but that bubble was kid’s play, just as the LA housing bubble of the late 1980’s was just a trifle. Everything now is interconnected, and the debt cord leading to an explosive crack-up is only in need of a spark to set it off…

      1. Jim Haygood

        Greatest story from Bubble 0.1 in 1634 was a grunt laborer who, upon finding what he thought was an onion on madame’s kitchen counter, sliced it up only to learn that it was a semper augustus worth several years of his wages.

        Looking through the bent backed tulips
        To see how the other half live
        Looking through a glass onion

        — The Beatles, Glass Onion

        1. Wukchumni

          The kid bubbles in the 1980’s and 90’s were interesting to watch…

          Baseball cards, POGs, etc.

          I can still see 11 year old boys buying a pack of cards, opening it up and rifling through looking for the ‘valuable’ ones, perusing a Beckett price guide (an ersatz juvenile version of the DJIA) to tell them if they hit the lottery on a given card. It was their Wall*Street.

          More often than not, said boys would leave the ‘commons’ on the counter of the baseball card store where they bought them. They could care less about baseball players if they were just so so.

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I think some genes are good stores of value.

        Say, for example, genes for long legs, or beautiful hair.

        Not sure about Rubenesque genes though.

        1. Expat2Uruguay

          Intelligence? Creativity? Courage?
          Perhaps a wealthy men only values long legs and Sleek hair. Another man May value intelligence creativity and courage. Which one would I prefer to marry? I guess it depends on which attributes I possess.

          In fact I possess all of these attributes, and I will not value a man who values only my physical appearance.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            I don’t get it either.

            Why do people value big teeth? But if people like to cook with saffron, which is expensive, I would just mention that it’s a good store of value, for the period of time it doesn’t expire. I would not have to think myself that it’s good to cook with.

            If you think the shirt is worth $2, and it’s of no use to me, I would still sell it at my garage sale at that price.

            By the way, I could use more hair myself, and so, definitely, I can say I am a victim here.

            As for my legs, I work out and they are in good shape, but I wouldn’t say they are long either.

    2. Jim Haygood

      Shifting focus from Wall Street to the oil patch, crude oil gained three percent today to a two-year high of $57.34 a barrel.

      In the news background were the corruption crackdown in Saudi Arabia, as well as Venezuela’s slow-motion dance into default.

      Sixty dollars is an obvious round-number target for black gold.

      1. jawbone

        All the new monster SUV’s I’m seeing in my friend’s apartment parking lot indicates lots of the owners are going to be paying mighty high amounts per fill…if the higher rates per barrel hold.

    3. JeffC

      Easy to make fun of his missing the ride up the bubbly slope, but actually reading his current comment, one of his best, with care reveals something shocking: his analysis of the 12-year prognosis is quite solid. His nearer term mega-decline forecast is also solidly argued though not time tagged, but I’ve been reading his comments since 2007 and saw him nail the big one, so I have tremendous respect for the dude. This is no time for long-term investors, other than the never-ever-ever-sell crowd or those who enjoy catching falling knives, to be buying the dips and laughing at the bear, because the bear will win.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Generals fighting the last war, in all prior periods we did not have entities able to conjure new money from thin air purchasing stocks and bonds hand over fist. $15 T-T-T-T-Trillion in central bank asset purchases since the crisis began. $1.9 T-T-T-Trillion in 2017 alone. These analysts cover markets but unfortunately we no longer have those.

  8. steelhead

    You do not have the right color of waders. After having to assess all of those documents, I’m sure that the wader color change went from yellow to brown… l.o.l.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Bad choice on Lambert’s part. He should have gone for a full Level A Hazmat suit. And its not over yet.

    1. JacobiteInTraining

      Thanks, that was a most timely link: I was forced to listen to a youtube ‘song’ about fingers yesterday that was meaningless gibberish, so much so it stuck in my memory. (it was played by a 12 year old after losing at one of the board games we were playing yesterday…sort of as an in-jest ‘punishment’ for the winner…so she at least realized it sucked at some level)

      But anyway, after reading the article I now understand the song….or rather, understand there is some really creepy and nefarious stuff going on _above and beyond_ the *usual* creepy and nefarious stuff out there. :/

    2. visitor

      I had no idea such channels existed, nor that there were semi-automated systems churning variants of videos based on standard graphics patterns (bucket-painting character X and announcing “red”, “blue” or “pink”, for instance) on such a truly massive scale. I just wonder how I never stumbled into what is not a dark corner, but such a vast expanse of Youtube.

      That recombining of the same tropes and basic scenario bits in endless variations appears to me like some kind of porn. Even the continuous background music, and the sheer amount of violence coming into play are porn-like.

      As the author suggests, it seems that robots have distilled the essence of what generates views and clicks for a certain audience (children), and the outcome is an endless stream of garish, vulgar, repetitive videos, oddly mixing mawkishness and brutality. Deep-learning AI seems to have synthesized what marketing, advertising and “addictive content” are all about in our capitalist system — and this is the result.

      Just imagining the approach being repeated for movies, music, fiction, etc makes me shudder. With increasing technical capabilities for image/sound/speech/text synthesizing, this is probably where we are heading, all the more so since the digital economy (all the Facebook, Google, Netflix, app vendors, and others) lives and dies by gluing people to their “addictive” offerings. We already have news generated by programs, so.

      That article was a revelation — but a disturbing and profoundly dispiriting one.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I’d never seen them before either – the automation run amok is extremely creepy.

        Maybe the trick is to make sure the automation doesn’t run wild; when its purpose is clearly defined .

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > Deep-learning AI seems to have synthesized what marketing, advertising and “addictive content” are all about in our capitalist system — and this is the result.

        If only the poor AIs hadn’t been trained by sociopaths*…

        * OK, I exaggerate. “People trapped in a sociopathic system.”

  9. Wukchumni

    Say it taint so…

    But sadly it is and a nice summation of what went down. You kind of wonder why the MSM still covers for HRC, what’s in it for them?

    That Guardian piece on Donna Brazile the other day was pure pablum, as if they felt obligated to write something, but then they made sure it had a misleading header.

  10. clarky90

    Mass murder, by inventing and intentionally selling lethal chemicals, is illegal and can be a Capital Offense.

    “Bruno Emil Tesch (14 August 1890 – 16 May 1946) was a German chemist and entrepreneur. Together with Gerhard Peters and Walter Heerdt, he invented the insecticide Zyklon B, infamous for having been used by Nazi Germany to exterminate approximately one million of the victims of the Holocaust….

    The charge was that Tesch, “at Hamburg, Germany, between 1st January 1941, and 31st March 1945, in violation of the laws and usages of war, did supply poison gas used for the extermination of allied nationals interned in concentration camps, well knowing that the said gas was to be so used” in violation of Article 46 of the Hague Convention of 1907…… Tesch and Weinbacher were condemned to death; Drosihn was acquitted. Tesch was executed by hanging on May 16, 1946….”

  11. Wukchumni

    ‘presstidigitation’
    ~~~~~~~
    “Why Donna Brazile’s Story Matters – But Not for the Reason You Might Think” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. Taibbi writes that “Actually, what Brazile found were things we mostly already knew.” I don’t agree; the detail is important. It’s one thing to know that you’ve been the victim of sleight of hand; it’s another to know exactly how the trick was worked. However, this:

  12. Huey Long

    Saudi Arabia says Lebanon declares war against it

    Saudi Gulf affairs minister Thamer al-Sabhan, in an interview with Al-Arabiya TV, said the Lebanese government would “be dealt with as a government declaring war on Saudi Arabia”.

    Hmmmm, I’m not sure quite what to make of this. I’m unaware of any actual military action taken by Hezbollah against KSA proper and am not sure what the good “Gulf Affairs” minister is talking about.

    Perhaps this is the cover KSA will use to bomb Hezbollah in Lebanon or escalate their military operations in Yemen. I don’t foresee them embarking on an adventure in Iran, but you never know. KSA has the stronger military on paper…

    1. The Rev Kev

      On paper they are stronger but in practice they are much weaker. In fact, when they undertake expeditions, they tend to use mercenary forces, such as they are using in Yemen, from countries like Pakistan or Egypt rather than put their troops at risk. I read once to understand the Saudi Arabian Order of Battle, it is useful to have a knowledge of the genealogy of the Saudi family.
      In Yemen they cannot beat a low-tier force like the Houthis and now the Houthis are striking back at the Saudis in their own country which frightens them. Even the Saudi Navy has lost a few ship to the Houthius. The Saudis are using genocide to weaken Yemen in a hope that it will weaken the Houthis. Even the Al-Queda troops that the Saudis like to deploy are having a rough time of it. In any case, if the Saudi Air Force tries to do a strike in Lebanon, they will have to consider the Russian missiles now so, no, not going to happen

      1. Huey Long

        Excellent points Kev, I am in full agreement.

        One point I would like to add is that KSA is extremely dependent on western contractor support to keep its stable of high-tech western wonder weapons serviceable and lacks a domestic defense industry. Iran on the other hand has kept mid-late 1970’s era US hardware chugging along for nearly 40 years without any contractor support, save for Ronnie Raygun’s chicanery.

        A few well placed cluster bombs in the right walled off “westerner ghettos” could severely Impact KSA’s ability to keep it’s high tech toys up and running.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Damn, you’re right. I had completely forgotten the reliance on foreign contractors to keep their weapons systems working. I suppose the lucrative contracts for servicing these weapons systems was part and parcel of buying foreign weapons and therefore foreign support.

  13. allan

    Penny “Paradise Papers” Pritzker is named to the board of the Obama Foundation:

    [Chicago Maroon]

    Because nothing says “inspire and empower people to change their world” like
    turning heat lamps on striking hotel workers.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Great catch:

      The new Board members include Penny Pritzker, former United States Secretary of Commerce; Glenn Hutchins, director of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and cofounder of the private equity firm Silver Lake; Mahalia Hines, president of the Common Ground Foundation; and Juan Salgado, chancellor of City Colleges of Chicago.

      For Silver Lake, see NC: “How CalPERS Was Taken By Private Equity Firm Silver Lake and Tried to Hide That (A Tale of Two Spreadsheets).”

      ; . It doesn’t look like she’s a reflexive charter school supporter. And here’s ain interview with ;.

      Perhaps some Chicago readers can comment.

  14. dcblogger

    Virginia College Republicans chose yesterday to circulate this particular flier, it might not have quite the impact they intend

  15. D

    Speaking of the Paradise Papers,

    One of the last articles I could find regarding the 2016 IRS lawsuit against Facebook, –which was said to face a possible liability of $5 Billion dollars – regarding 2010 asset transfers to Ireland, was on Bloomberg, and over a year old:

    10/12/16

    Facebook Inc. is carrying on its fight with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service over taxes relating to its transfer of global operations to Ireland in 2010 even as the social media giant pledged cooperation with the government’s investigation.

    To continue reading this article you must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber.

    Quaint, that’s the first time I’ve linked to a must be a Bloomberg Professional Service Subscriber piece.

    Interesting, though not at all surprising, that California’s Franchise Tax Board [FTB] didn’t follow that IRS lead; much easier to go after their increasingly cost burdened populace (9% average Sales Tax Rate), with the Country’s highest poverty rate, and unsheltered homeless.

    More background . Thanks in advance if anyone knows of any current news on it, I couldn’t find any after numerous searches.

  16. ChrisPacific

    Re: Clinton sycophancy, it goes back a long way. Way back in the Clinton presidency in the 90s, I recall watching the televised ‘explainer’ of Hillary’s proposed health care plan. I had tuned in hoping to learn something about how it was supposed to work. What I saw was a series of ‘case studies’ in which working people, often black and/or low income, described their health challenges. We would then hear a description of how the health plan would fix everything, nearly always delivered by Hillary, and generally in vague and brief terms. (“You won’t have to worry about that any more, because our health plan will take care of it”). The remainder of the time (typically about two-thirds of the clip) was devoted to enthusiastically praising the Clintons and effusively thanking them for the gift they were about to bestow on the nation. Periodically the camera would cut to the beatifically smiling Clintons. I was left with the distinct impression that the way the Hillary health plan worked was that when you got sick or injured, an angelic choir would start singing, Bill and Hillary would descend from heaven on a ray of sunlight and lay their hands on you, and your ailments would be instantly healed on the spot.

    As Frank puts it:

    “The mystic bond between high-achieving American professionals and the planet’s most victimized people, I would discover, is a recurring theme in her life and work.”

    1. RUKidding

      Thanks for that reminder. I was less well-informed back in the ’90s, but still more engaged and involved in politics than the average bear. I could never quite work out why I was supposed to vote for Clinton (and I didn’t the second time), or what made him be a “good” candidate. He talked in good sound bites – I feel your pain – but not much else.

      I agree about Hillary’s first Health Care Plan. Although I was in favor of it in theory, I could never really figure out what, exactly, was being proposed. Your recollection is probably pretty spot on. Long on how “wonderful” it would be; very short on any specifics or details, which is why, in part, it failed.

      I will say, though, that I do recall the rightwing having absolute conniption fits about Hillary from Day One. Some of their ire was justified, but as is typical, a lot of it was not justified and pretty much just devolved (back then) into hatred bc she was: a) female, and b) putatively a Democrat.

      IMO, the GOP’s incessant raging tirades against HRC for nothingburgers (aka, she wore a headband, or she refused to take Bill’s last name, or she wouldn’t bake cookies in the White House) facilitated – whether on purpose or inadvertently – in giving her a smoke screen behind which she could hide her more heinous behaviors and decisions. And galvanized a lot on the left into defending and supporting her (back then) because of the incessant, and sometimes (back then) quite unfair, attacks.

      So yes, I do blame the GOP, too, for the Cult of the Clintons. As usual, a lot of REAL stuff gets buried in the useless propaganda about nothingburgers.

      Sigh.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > she wouldn’t bake cookies in the White House

        I would have sworn she said that in response to a question about cattle futures, . (Most stories just repeat the quote, without giving the context, which seems to have been Jerry Brown attacking her for conflict of interest, since the firm for which she worked, the Rose Law Firm, got state work when her husband was governor.

  17. allan

    [The Hill]

    The Penn Wharton Budget Model, a nonpartisan applied research organization, released a report Monday estimating the House GOP tax plan would cost $1.75 trillion over the next decade.

    That’s significantly higher than the $1.41 trillion estimated by the Joint Committee on Taxation, Congress’s official scorekeeper for tax bills. …

    If Congress used the Penn Wharton score, the bill would not comply with the Senate budget resolution, which states that the cost of the bill cannot exceed $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years under a model that does not take into account greater economic activity likely to result from tax reform.

    Anything that runs afoul of the Senate’s budget rules would need 60 votes — and the support of at least eight Democrats — to pass the Senate. …

    Rather than carping about it, shouldn’t we be celebrating this intersectionality of late-stage capitalism,
    late-stage democracy and late-stage arithmetic?

      1. allan

        We’ll see how much that changes the numbers from the Tax Policy Center,
        but at least they admitted that their analysis was flawed and will fix it.
        When was the last time AEI or Heritage pulled a white paper because of a mistake?

        But in the meantime, independently from Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

        The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT), Congress’ official estimator of tax legislation, has released an estimate of how the tax bill proposed by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady would change revenues at different income levels across the distribution.[1] Because the JCT estimates exclude the bill’s proposed cuts to the estate tax and present a limited set of distributional measures, understanding them requires some analysis and adjustment. But the estimates show that the tax cuts proposed in the House bill are overwhelmingly skewed to the top. …

        Based on the JCT distribution tables, adjusted to incorporate the effects of repealing the estate tax, we estimate that in 2027:

        Households with annual incomes over $1 million would see their after-tax incomes increase by 3.2 percent, 16 times the percentage increase for any income group in the bottom half of the income distribution. (See Figure 1.) (The disparity in average tax cuts measured in dollars would be even larger.) About 45 percent of cost of the bill’s tax cuts would go to households with incomes above $500,000 (fewer than 1 percent of filers). …

  18. John

    The simplest way to avoid ‘fake news’ and ‘Russian propaganda’ on Facebook and Twitter is not to use Facebook and Twitter. I do not do so, never have done so, and will not do so in the future. Frees up time for reading.

    1. RUKidding

      Amen! I agree and avoid both like the plague, although I do see some tweets in the nooz here and there.

      The other issue with both is that a ridiculous amount of gossip gets passed around and then becomes “gospel” for many. I’ve heard the most insane stuff repeated to me, and when I get to the bottom of it, it’s usualy from FaceBorg rants. And often I think it has nothing to do with Russians. It’s just USA idiots being idiots.

      That’s my 2 cents worth anyway.

      Avert your eyes!

  19. Tomonthebeach

    The rejoinder to Brazile from the Clintonites shows they are far more deluded than I thought. They are not listening nor learning. They do not deserve to govern any more than Trumpites.

    DNC should purge every last signatory on that post or Perez has just become that Captain of the political Titanic.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That’s a good analogy.

      Should you stage a coup on the sinking political Titanic, hoping to take it over from the captain who has no iceberg to excuse him/herself, or get as many into all available lifeboats?

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      One of the problems with large Democratic donors is they don’t really pay any attention. The goal of the Clintonistas is to keep the gravy train going, but admitting to being grossly incompetent will reach the big donors who might believe OMG (insert Nader, 9/11, Iraq, tough environment, Putin, and so forth) if its all they hear. The Clinton campaign was one (family blog) up after another on top of an already listless candidate with a deeply flawed candidate.

      They aren’t going to “learn” so to speak as their focus is the gravy train not winning elections.

  20. Wukchumni

    Sometimes people ask why we have so many trees?

    I always tell them that I got a hot tip on investing in apple stock…

    The 1st crop of Rubinette apples are in, a few dozen small in stature, but big in taste. Some reckon it’s the best tasting apple out there, and like a lot of our varieties, these were the first ones we’ve ever eaten.

  21. Craig H.

    schwarmerei?

    I never saw this word before a month ago and now it looks like it is trending. Coleridge said the German for fanatic, schwarmerei, is derived from the same root as bee swarm with the implication that fanatic folk’s thoughts are coherent, albeit all over the place. In last week’s New Yorker story on Martin Luther, it’s schwarmer.

    I know virtually no German. Any German lexicographer or philologist types in NC-space care to weigh in?

    1. xformbykr

      my “dtv Worterbuch der deutschen Sprache” has “Schwarmer” . My loose translation is as follows:
      someone who easily inspires himself (“jmd der sich leicht begeistert”) and thereby doesn’t wait on the basis of facts. (“dabei nicht auf dem Boden der Tatsachen bleibt”). The trailing “ei” is a less-seen plural ending.

      1. artiste-de-decrottage

        Uuh sorry, “Schwärmerei” is singular. Did you make up the stuff about “less-seen plural ending” and why would you do that??

        The “-ei” is the same as the English “-y”, as in
        Brauerei = brewery

        1. Alex V

          Um, Schwärmerei is not really singular or plural in conceptual terms, but perhaps leans a bit more to the singular if one is being explicit…

          The -ei ending in this context is not the same as the -ei at the end of Brauerei, which transforms the word Brauer (one who brews) into a place where brewing is done, in the singular (Brauerei). Schwärmerei takes the word Schwärmer (one who is easily excited) and transforms it into the singular concept of what they do by adding the -ei, although more in a collective, plural sense.

          Another good example, and perhaps the most appropriate to our times, is the term Schweinerei. Start with Schwein (pig), add -er to make it into one who acts like a pig (although Schweiner is not really a word), and then the -ei to encompass the complete concept. A Schweinerei is however not a pig farm in German.

          1. Craig H.

            Must resist the temptation to dash off a document with schweinerei in it; that wiktionary page is swell!

        2. sporble

          Right – “Schwärmerei” isn’t a person.
          It’s excessive enthusiasm or romanticism or sentimentality that a person (or people) is/are exhibiting. To me, it’s not wholly unlike the English word “swooning” (in the context of “swooning over someone”).

        3. xformbykr

          yes I made it up; wanted to express that the ending implies some kind of “collective”; it was the best I could do at the moment

  22. ewmayer

    Note to lambert: [i]Schwärmerei[/i] is the activity; one who engages in it is a [i]Schwärmer[/i] (plural is the same, e.g. [i]der Schwärmer Schwärmt, die Schwärmer Schwärmen[/i]).

    – Your friendly neighborhood German-grammar Nazi.

  23. Oregoncharles

    ” “Kroger Co. plans to launch an apparel line”.
    In Oregon, Kroger already sells clothes, because they bought the Fred Meyer (formerly regional) chain of department/variety stores, which are anchored on groceries but sell almost everything – even building supplies, in the bigger ones. They’re pervasive in Oregon, in every town of any size.

    My mother shopped at Kroger’s, back in Indiana, so like Lambert, it’s nostalgic for me. It’s very odd to see their brand in the Fred Meyer store – which has kept its former name. I suspect that branching out into their own brand of clothes will be a mistake, as that sort of thing often is, but interesting to see.

  24. a different chris

    Kroger left W. Pa because they didn’t want their workers to unionize. Somehow we still manage to eat here. I have no fond memories of them.

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