2:00PM Water Cooler 3/1/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Trade

“Trump opts against announcing steel and aluminum tariffs Thursday after fierce White House blowback” []. “President Trump has decided against announcing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on Thursday after 18 hours of frenetic push-back from inside the White House and on Capitol Hill, two people briefed on the decision said.” Note the sourcing.

“Trump invites steel and aluminum industry to White House” []. “President Donald Trump summoned steel and aluminum executives to the White House on Thursday amid speculation he may impose tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports. Plans for Trump to make an announcement were thrown into doubt amid internal wrangling over the decision. Some White House officials, including chief of staff John Kelly, were not fully briefed on the Commerce Department’s plans, according to a senior administration official familiar with the process. This official was not authorized to publicly discuss the internal deliberations and spoke on condition of anonymity.”

Politics

2020

“Bernie Sanders Wants Congress to End U.S. Support for Yemen War. Saudi Lobbyists Fought Similar Measures Last Year” []. “A BIPARTISAN GROUP of senators unveiled legislation on Wednesday designed to end U.S. support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The resolution — introduced by Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; and Mike Lee, R-Utah — attempts to use the War Powers Act of 1973, a Vietnam War-era law that limits the president’s power to wage war without congressional authorization, to disentangle the U.S. from a campaign that has claimed thousands of civilian lives and led to .”

2018

“Is a wave rolling in for House Democrats? Potentially competitive districts and candidates build strength” []. “The number of Democratic challengers to House incumbents in the 2018 elections has continued to go up, from 455 on September 30 to 510 on December 31. However, 510 is no longer an unprecedented number. At the end of the year before the Republican wave election of 2010 there were 522 GOP challengers to Democratic incumbents filing with the FEC.”

“The Midterms and the Turn Leftward” [Sean McElwee, ]. “Democrats will take the House, probably winning around forty seats. Despite what you’ve heard, Democrats won’t just be winning upscale suburbs, but will pick up a basket of seats, ranging from highly educated and upscale to working-class and rural. They will make their biggest pick-ups in ten key states, though CA, FL, NY, PA, and TX alone will deliver enough seats. Here’s how.” Since gridlock is our friend, I don’t mind the Democrats flipping the Senate, but I think flipping the House means impeachment, which will tear the country apart and culminate in Pence (and that’s the best possible outcome. Pardon my pessimism.

“To counter Trump chaos, Democrats promote ‘stability’ candidates” []. “Think of Ralph Northam (military background, doctor, lieutenant governor) who won Virginia’s gubernatorial contest last November. Or think of Doug Jones (a former prosecutor who promised he could “work with Republicans better than Roy Moore can work with anyone”) in December’s Alabama contest. Or think of Conor Lamb (military background, former prosecutor) who’s running in this month’s special congressional election in a Pennsylvania district Trump won by 20 points in 2016. It’s chaos vs. stability. It’s reality-show background vs. military/prosecutor backgrounds. And it’s excitement vs., well, a little boring.” You know what it is? It’s Blue Dogs. That’s what it is. . Rahm Emmanuel has risen from the grave!

liberals: stop trying to appeal to working class voters who weren't energised by hillary or the small % that voted trump — they are irredeemable
also liberals: we should admire *real* conservatives like Reagan and invite never-trumpers like Frum and Kristol into the

— ☭ Socialist Republic of the Moon ☭ (@AGreenNewDeal)

NC: “For the first time in anyone’s memory, nearly all 170 state legislative races in North Carolina will feature both a Republican and Democratic candidate” []. “In past election cycles, districts drawn to strongly favor one party often failed to draw more than one candidate. The 2016 general election included 73 districts in which just one of the major parties fielded a candidate. Republicans didn’t have a candidate in 30 House races and four Senate races; Democrats didn’t have a candidate in 28 House races and 11 Senate races.”

TX: “Want More Women to Vote? Here’s an Idea: Stand Up for Them” [Laura Moser, ]. From 2017, still germane.

2016 Post Mortem

“Did Facebook Really Charge Trump Less for Advertising?” []. Another take on the Trump vs. Clinton on Facebook ads: “So did Facebook actually charge the Trump campaign less? There are two things worth noting here: The first is that [Trump’s Brad] Parscale and [Clinton’s Jennifer] Palmieri probably don’t know what each other was being charged on Facebook — and, further, Parscale and Palmieri both benefit from the narrative that Trump was undercharged and Clinton over-. (Parscale can claim to be a digital-campaign Facebook genius, and Palmieri can claim that the Clinton campaign was screwed over by Facebook.). The second thing worth noting that while [Antonio] García Martínez was asserting [in the original Wired article] that Trump got a bigger bang for his buck on Facebook because his ads effectively mimicked the sorts of ‘provocative’ content that perform well on Facebook (I’m trying not to write ‘clickbait,’ but it’s the same genus), he didn’t himself claim, as Parscale and Palmieri did, that Trump’s CPM was lower.”

New Cold War

these dogs:

Left: liberals (rightfully) @ the NRA after a mass shooting.

Right: liberals @ America's foreign policy after we've bombed a school.

— ⛵ koholint island yacht club 🏝️ (@disco_socialist)

Gunz

Ah, memories:

So great we'll arm teachers in Florida. I grew up in Florida, my teacher used to lose his temper and throw chalk at my head. I'm glad they'll have guns at all times now. Everything is fine.

— beth, an alien (@bourgeoisalien)

Real life shortly after: “Despite Parkland’s opposition, Florida House panel votes to arm teachers” []. “After vote, Speaker Richard Corcoran takes credit for ending ‘gun-free zones’ in classrooms.”

Real life shortly after that: “Teacher fired shot, barricaded self inside HS classroom, police say” []. Why are we pussyfooting around on this? Arm the students!

Real life in the future:

[Florida 2019]

Officer: Mrs. Smith you shot your student, what happened?

Teacher: He was reaching in his bag, how was I supposed to know he was just getting a ruler? Sorry.

— beth, an alien (@bourgeoisalien)

“The Parkland Teens Fighting For Gun Control Have The Backing Of These Huge Organizing Groups” []. Hopefully that doesn’t lead to decapitation, as with Black Lives Matter.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What We Really Learned From Mueller’s Indictment Of Russian Trolls Is That Internet Providers Know Everything” [Thomas Frank, ]. “Experts familiar with evidence collection say Mueller likely tapped into enormous communications archives maintained by internet companies such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter, and gained access through laws that require companies to turn over records. ‘The thing that is not sufficiently appreciated is that the evidence of all of the crimes in the world has become digitized and is largely in the hands of American technology companies. They are de facto intelligence companies. Internet companies are doing the NSA’s work now,’ said Andrew Keane Woods, an expert in cybersecurity and international law at the University of Kentucky College of Law.” Depending on the quality of the data, yes. Spitballing here, but if the intelligence community can “tap into” data for “all the crimes in the world,” convert that data into Steele-style oppo, and then convert that oppo into a FISA warrant, they can p0wn any member of the political class; after all, “.” Of course, one might go one step further than assume that because this can be done, it has already been done. Not that I’m foily.

On corruption:

My unpopular opinion: I'm unconvinced that the endemic self-dealing of the Trumps and Kushners is substantively worse than the usual policy quids exchanged for post-term corporate-and-foundation gig quos.

— Jacob "Blockchain" Bacharach, LLC (@jakebackpack)

Conservatives are direct: They just reach into the cookie jar and grab what they want. With Democrats, there’s always a layer of indirection and often a lag: They get their cookies through their foundations, on K Street, or their book deals. Or their Presidential libraries.

“A Dozen Democrats Want To Help Banks Hide Racial Discrimination In Mortgages” []. “[N]ext week, the Senate is set to vote on a ]Tim] Kaine-sponsored bill that deliberately undermines the government’s ability to enforce laws against racial discrimination in the housing market.” Kaine was Clinton’t running mate in her unsuccessful 2016 run.

“Democrat Joe Manchin Refuses to Support AR-15 Ban: ‘I Don’t Know Anyone Who’s Committed a Crime With It'” []. I wonder where Manchin stands on the West Virginia teachers strike. Readers?

Stats Watch

Institute For Supply Management Index, February 2018: “No sample has been reporting consistently stronger results than ISM manufacturing where the composite index rose to 60.8 in February, Strength lies in new orders… ” []. “This sample, in contrast to actual data from the government that are comparatively flat, continues to carve out one of its very strongest runs in 70 years of data.” And: “This was above expectations of 58.6%, and suggests manufacturing expanded at a faster pace in February than in January” []. And but: “Based on these surveys and the district Federal Reserve Surveys, one would expect the Fed’s Industrial Production index growth rate remain about the same as last month. Overall, surveys do not have a high correlation to the movement of industrial production (manufacturing) since the Great Recession” []. And: “What they’re saying: ‘Employment is one of our biggest challenges. No labor available,’ said one purchasing manager in the food, beverage and tobacco products category” []. “‘Labor market continues to be tight for supply chain talent in the Southern California area. Overall economy is strong,’ added another manager, in the transportation equipment sector.”

Purchasing Managers’ Manufacturing Index. February 2018: “Growth eased very slightly over the last two weeks of the PMI manufacturing sample… Despite the month-end slowing, the month’s results are among the best of the last three years… New orders, the most important of any reading, lead the strength…” []. “These results point to a strong first-quarter start for the factory sector though the directional signal does contrast with definitive data on the sector which opened the year on a weak note, specifically declines in January durable goods orders and no change for manufacturing in January’s industrial production report.”

Construction Spending, January 2018: “Capital goods readings in Tuesday’s durable goods report were weak as is nonresidential spending in today’s construction spending report for January, weakness that held total spending unchanged in the month” []. “Housing is a larger category than nonresidential spending reflected in the total year-on-year rate which is at 3.2 percent, moderate but respectable. And public spending, which is a separate category concentrated in educational building and roads, is also contributing, up 1.8 percent on the month and 8.2 percent on the year. And spending here, given the outlook for new deficit spending, could prove to be an accelerating for the construction outlook.” John Maynard Keynes, courtesy phone! However: “There continues to be significant backward revision to the date – this month was downward. The rolling averages declined. Also note that inflation is grabbing hold – and the inflation adjusted numbers are showing contraction in this sector” [],

Personal Income and Outlays, January 2018: “Core inflation did noticeably rise but not more than expected, at 0.3 percent in January but not enough to lift the year-on-year rate which holds at an as-expected 1.5 percent…. These results fit in with the Federal Reserve’s expectations for a gradual upward trend for prices but they don’t accelerate the outlook” []. “Spending data are soft, up only 0.2 percent overall and marking a weak first-quarter start for the consumer… Reflecting the drop in taxes, the savings rate popped back higher in January, up 7 tenths to 3.2 percent. The gain in income is a positive not only for the savings outlook but the spending outlook as well. This report, despite the monthly weakness in spending, points to economic health, specifically rising income and gradually rising prices.” But: “The savings rate declined and remains at 21st century lows. Consumer spending growth was lower than income growth year-over-year” []. On the savings rate: “The backward revisions are driving this analyst crazy – especially the year-over-year numbers which are jumping around massively.” And: “The increase in personal income was slightly above expectations, and the increase in PCE was at expectations” [].

Personal Income: “Crumbs? Bonuses tied to Trump tax cuts said to boost U.S. incomes by $30 billion” []. “The Bureau of Economic Analysis raised its estimate of how much U.S. incomes rose in the first month of the year in response to widespread reports of businesses handing out onetime bonuses after the tax cuts became law. If those bonuses hadn’t been included, incomes barely would have risen in January. The BEA also estimated that the tax cuts reduced personal taxes in January by a $115 billion annual rate. The result: Disposable income — mostly what Americans take home after taxes — posted the biggest one-month gain since 2012. Disposable incomes leaped 0.9%. How accurate are these numbers? Hard to say…. The BEA admitted it based its calculation on “news releases” of companies that announced the bonuses. How, when and to whom those bonuses are paid won’t show up in the data for several months.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of February 25, 2018: “Troubles in the stock market haven’t been hurting consumer confidence readings including the consumer comfort index” [].

Jobless Claims, week of February 24: “Today’s personal income & outlays report points to economic health as do initial jobless claims, down 10,000 in the February 24 week to a lower-than-expected 210,000 for the best reading in 49 years” []. And: “This was lower than the consensus forecast. The low level of claims suggest relatively few layoffs” [].

Retail: “Is This the Last Chapter for Barnes & Noble?” []. “In terms of its long-term strategic plans, Barnes & Noble is focused on the following four key elements: “1. Strengthening the core business by enhancing the customer value proposition.” And certainly firing all the full-time employers is the obvious first step to take in doing that…. If I want to be depressed by a retail environment, I can go to Sears. Rather, I . So where’s Barnes & Noble’s Unique Selling Proposition, here?

Banks: “HSH Nordbank sold to private equity group, ending sad chapter in German banking: []. “The €1 billion purchase price [from Cerberus and J.C. Flowers] was more than the [Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein] could have hoped for a year ago. But it hardly makes up for the €10 billion- the two governments have poured into the bank to bail it out after an ill-advised foray into shipping loans that made HSH Nordbank the global leader in maritime finance but nearly sunk it when the sector went into a slump. Total losses could reach €14 billion depending on whether the state has to pay off guarantees.” Oof.

Commodities: “Mexican election to pose limited risks to positive mining outlook: BMI” []. ” new report by BMI Research states that a possible victory by frontrunner presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador poses “minimal downside risks to an otherwise strong outlook” for Mexico’s mining industry. According to the market research firm, the populist candidate’s policy goals would indeed represent a major shift from the current administration and that is why they have stoked investor fears around a possible disruption in the country’s trade relationships and recently liberalized energy sector. However, when it comes to mining, BMI forecasts rather positive results.”

Energy: “Democrats urge DOI not to cut offshore oil royalty rates” []. “The Democratic members of the Senate and House of Representatives natural resources committees wrote a letter that expressed concern that the [Department of the Interior’s] plan to cut the royalty rate from 18.75% to 12.5% would deprive taxpayers of billions of dollars in revenue while being a bonanza for the oil companies involved.”

Shipping: “UPS announces further expansion of its Worldwide Express service” []. “UPS said this week that its UPS Worldwide Express Service now is available in 124 countries and territories. This service provides customers with guaranteed delivery on the next possible business day by 10:30 a.m., 12 noon, or 2 p.m., based on destination. UPS said individuals and companies of varying sizes can use it, but it is geared towards ones with time-sensitive international shipment. It is now available in nearly areas making up 96% of global GDP and 93% of real imports.”

Manufacturing: “Evolution due for automotive logistics as manufacturers drive changes” []. “[Transportation Intelligence’s] Automotive Supply Chain and Logistics report suggests that while artificial intelligence (AI) and the demise of diesel tend to be the two subjects that hit the headlines, a switch in materials used for making cars may be just as important. ‘Less talked of than autonomous guidance or electric propulsion, is the use of different materials for the ‘frame’ of the car,’ it said. ‘Certain manufacturers, such as Jaguar, already use aluminium construction, although most vehicle manufacturers (VMs) at present use steel alloy to deliver a lighter vehicle.’ The report claims a renewed interest in power-weight ratios will ‘amplify’ the need for materials with better performance than steel, causing changes to automotive logistics. In particular, it notes the growing of role carbon fibre.” Interesting in light of the steel and aluminum tariff discussion above.

Infrastructure: “Trump willing to take GOP heat to push 25-cent-a-gallon fuel tax hike, senator says” []. “The somewhat sketchy reports that President Trump would support an increase in the federal motor fuels tax came into sharper clarity today after several lawmakers said they were told by the President that he would back a 25-cent-a-gallon hike, to be imposed at one time, and that he would take the heat from his own party to get it accomplished.” He’s learning, albeit slowly and in fits and starts.

Tech: “Determining The Average Apple Device Lifespan” []. “In I argued that active devices is a breakthrough in quantifying the value of Apple’s business. The first insight is into the size of device (read: user) base, the second is in the resilience of that device base (2/3 in use). Now we see the third insight: the specific length of time or duration of use per device–a proxy for user satisfaction and loyalty. This I (and Deming) argue, is the most important measure of the health of a business because it speaks of the future and not, as all other figures do, the past. I’ll show in the next post how this single number allows us to calculate the net present value of Apple’s future cash flows, or, by definition, Apple’s enterprise value.” Readers, methodology?

The Fed: “Treasury yields lower as Powell plays down wage pressures” []. “The 10-year Treasury note price remained higher Thursday, pushing down the yield, after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said he saw no signs of significant wage pressure.”

Five Horsemen: “Facebook, leader of the pack until Amazon Friday last October, now occupies last place” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen Mar 1 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index, February 2018: Yesterday’s slump drove the mania-panic index down to 37 (worry) [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. Readers will recall that I’ve been whinging about how CNN’s Fear and Greed Index is lagged, sometimes by as much as four days, and Haygood generously volunteered to create a similar index in chart form. (I’ll leave it to him to chime in with methodology in comments).

Naked cap Mania panic Feb 28 2018

Health Care

“Introducing Uber Health, Removing Transportation as a Barrier to Care” []. Funny, Andy Slavitt was talking about this just the other day, as part of the strategy for his investment firm (which naturally has nothing to do with his work for @USofCare [guffaw]).

“Why health care in Latin America is better for retirees” []. Example: “After her attentive, unhurried and caring consultation, Pilar asked my wife if she’d like to have the tooth fixed right then and there. She and I were stunned and unprepared for this, but after a pause to consider the situation, we agreed. Thirty minutes later, the dental work was done so well we couldn’t even see the location of the original problem. We paid our $75, said ‘adios’ and enjoyed my wife’s improved smile.”

“State Lawsuit Claims That Individual Mandate Penalty Repeal Should Topple Entire ACA” []. “In their complaint, filed in federal district court in the Northern District of Texas, the states argue that the repeal of the individual mandate penalty in 2019 is fatal to the ACA and, as such, the entire law should be struck down. In summary, they argue that the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate as a tax. Now that Congress eliminated the individual mandate penalty beginning in 2019, the mandate is no longer enforceable as a tax and thus is no longer valid. They further argue that the entirety of the ACA relies on the mandate and, without the penalty, the entirety of the ACA is also unconstitutional…” It’s like the ACA was designed to maximize attack surfaces, rather than minimize them.

Net Neutrality

“The Wired Guide To Net Neutrality” []. “The future of net neutrality is now in the hands of Congress and the courts. Twenty-one state attorneys general, led by New York’s Eric Schneiderman, sued the FCC in January to block the new rules and restore the old ones; so did several consumer-advocacy groups. An industry group representing Facebook, Google, Netflix, and other internet companies has also vowed to join legal fights to preserve net neutrality.” That “industry group” is the Internet Association, and I have yet to see what “vowed to” means in practice. Fine words butter no parsnips.

“There also are politically strategic reasons for Republicans to endorse net neutrality, since it does not allow for indirect censorship of political ideas. Numerous liberal media organizations are owned by major service providers, which will be able to favor their own content, while Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and other conservative media are noticeably not owned by a giant cable or wireless provider. If Republicans realized the importance of such disparity in vertical integration of service providers owning content providers, they surely would not support a policy position that hurts news outlets sympathetic to their party” [].

Class Warfare

“Rejecting W.V. Deal, Over 50 Counties Will Continue Wildcat Strike Tomorrow” []. “Yesterday, many expected the West Virginia teachers’ strike to end as union leaders and Governor Jim Justice announced a deal to temporarily freeze PEIA health insurance premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and prescription costs. Governor Justice also agreed to create a commission to resolve the long term problems with PEIA…. Earlier today, teachers throughout the state voted down the deal proposed by their union leaders and will continue their wildcat strikes tomorrow. Some counties voted down the deal by margins of more than 85%.Many teachers prefer that a long-term fix is passed now by the legislature to address the state’s PEIA health insurance program by increasing taxes on fracking to control skyrocketing out-of-pocket costs. Hundreds of teachers rallied on the Capitol, chanting ‘A Freeze Is Not a Fix.’ ‘This is not what we wanted. Like I said, we have sold out and caved into what the legislature and governor wanted,’ said AFT member Amber Brumfield on Facebook today.”

Good to see the Democrats rallying behind the West Virginia teachers:

Nick the Intern wanted to speak with you today about our office standing in solidarity with teachers striking in West Virginia.

— Lee J. Carter (@carterforva)

Well, one Democrat…

“The State of American Wages 2017” []. “Rising wage inequality has been a defining feature of the American economy for nearly four decades. In 2017, with an improving economy, all deciles in the overall wage distribution have improved, meaning most workers finally have higher hourly wages now than in 2007, the labor market peak before the Great Recession hit. However, large gaps by gender, race, and wage level remain, and some of these gaps are increasing. Rising inequality means that although we are seeing broad-based wage growth, ordinary workers are just making up lost ground rather than getting ahead. The bottom seven deciles have seen annual growth of hourly wages of 0.5 percent or less since 2000.”

“Them Against Us: A Travesty of Two Nations” []. “The rich would do wise to read a Tale of Two Cities tonight; the same way hubris prevented the aristocracy in Paris from knowing their own limitations, greed and arrogance is blinding the gentry to the suffering of the vast of humanity. God have mercy on the poor when the next economic downturn arrives at our doorsteps. Likewise, may the poor have mercy on the rich when the middle class join the impoverished in collective destitution.” I don’t agree with everything, but it’s a fine rant, and written from the heart.

The old is dying and the new is struggling to be born:

— Iʟʟᴜᴍɪɴᴀᴛɪ Cᴀᴜᴄᴜs ᴅsᴀ☠️🥀 (@IlluminatiDSA)

News of The Wired

“Pedestrian Deaths Remain Near Historic High Governing” [].

“Huawei reveals the Matebook X Pro – like a Macbook Pro but without the duct tape” []. Oooooh, a spill-proof keyboard! I lost a MacBook Pro to a spill. I’m not yet in the market for a new laptop. However, I’d love to escape the Apple jailecosystem, Apple keeps insulting me as a professional with its product decisions, and I could get a Matebook X Pro and (presumably) slam a linux distro on it. However, my workflow demands an outliner wtih precise requirements. Currently I use the simple and wonderful , which looks like this:

As you can see, the requirements are (1) a single pane (I don’t want to be dragging stupid tree structures around, or be required to label the branches); and (2) outlines are created with simple keystroke commands. I also need to be able to export to HTML. Readers, just so I can get my head into this, can any of you steer me to a linux outliner that meets these requirements?

* * *

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 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 (Tracie Hall):

Tracie Hall: “Early morning, low light—just testing my camera setting, but ended up actually liking this picture—I love how the tendrils of vines just curl until they find things to wrap around.”

I believe this tendency to twine is called “,” which would be a good Word of the Day if it is, in fact, the right word. Readers?

Readers, I’m running a bit low on plant images. So, whether you’re from the tropics or merely anticipating mud season, we’d like to see what you’ve taken.

* * *

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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.

121 comments

  1. nycTerrierist

    Instead of arming teachers, howzabout more comfort dogs?
    as a permanent presence in schools
    pups diffuse social anxiety and tension, give good vibes, model
    empathy and sweetness:

    1. Arizona Slim

      What about the kids with allergies? Or the ones who’ve had bad experiences with dogs?

      Methinks that the dogs should be left out of the schools, unless they have a blind handler who needs assistance. BTW, one of my high school friends was blind and he had a Leader Dog. Very well trained, both of them, and they made an excellent team.

      1. nycTerrierist

        ha! if I were a betting woman, I would have wagered you’d
        weigh in
        ;-)

        longtime reader here

      2. j84ustin

        I have a feeling the deaths from dogs number would be significantly less than the deaths from armed teachers number…

        1. HotFlash

          And also that the (inevitable? collateral?) death of the odd comfort dog would occasion *much* greater howls and bigger marches than when it’s just some kids dieing. So, maybe worth a try?

      3. Yves Smith

        Admittedly, this is a private business so not directly comparable but…I read about a law firm that had 13 cats. They said they won quite a few prospective clients due to them and lost only one. And more people don’t like cats than don’t like dogs. Dunno re allergy rates, though.

    2. Massinissa

      Great idea, and we can also arm the good comfort dogs in order to stop the mass shootings caused by the bad comfort dogs. It takes a good comfort dog with a gun to stop a bad comfort dog with a gun!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Would the good comfort dogs get bullet-proof vest like some police dogs get? Just to give them an advantage?

      2. wilroncanada

        Mass
        And I will, for a very high price, supply the fire hydrants to be used to test the ‘guns’ of the good comfort dogs versus the bad comfort dogs.

    3. jo6pac

      Arm teachers, student and all staff members but please remember to give the librarians silencers.

      Sadly it’s a sick world out there.

    4. Kevin

      Terrierist:

      If it involves dogs – I am in. I wish they allowed them here at work!

      Yes, you’ll have students who have allergies
      Yes, you’ll have students who may be afraid of dogs
      both being preferable to dead students.

  2. Webstir

    I was hoping Lambert would pick it up, but Ian Welsh has an interesting guest post looking at a Neo-classical economic interpretation of the lack of incentive a “good guy with a gun” has to intervene in an active shooter situation, here:

    1. PKMKII

      I believe the conservatives’ response would be that if the armed guards or teachers don’t throw themselves in front of the shooters, they should be fired. Because sending laborers to die under threat of unemployment otherwise is preferable to them than inconveniencing property owners.

      That being said, I don’t think they actually are being serious in their calls for arming teachers, or that Good Guys with Guns will stop all crime. Like so much with conservatives, their arguments are in bad faith, about stroking their base’s egos rather than solving problems. To build on Yves’ post earlier today, gun owners don’t want to hear that proper gun use requires intensive training and practice, that’s hard, or that they might not have the inherent talent needed to be responsible with a gun. So the NRA says “you just need to be a good guy.” Not a trained good guy, not a seasoned good guy, you just need to see yourself as a good guy. And this being America, everyone thinks they’re a good guy.

    2. Ed Miller

      Yes. Ian Welsh is one I get in my inbox. Almost always worth the time to read his thoughts.

      At what point will we Americans, as a society, realize that we have f***ed up our collective lives so badly that we need to stop talking about each immediate crisis and recognize that we have really messed up. “We need to stop talking about ….” really means those talking heads currently paid to push the narrative. Those who are severely impacted and aware don’t count – yet.

      Based on my interactions with others, I suspect that time will not arrive until many of those in the upper 10% to upper 5% finally realize that the upper crust (0.01%) are really taking them, as well as the true plebs, to the cleaners. We aren’t close yet IMO.

      Typical POV I see: As long as my life is good, the system works. Everyone else must have done something to deserve what they’ve got. For perspective, I am retired with sufficient SoSec to cover my day-to-day expenses so I interact daily with others who are relatively secure financially. From what I see, nothing yet registers with people.

        1. Webstir

          I believe you’re right. I put it this way in a comment the other day over on Ian’s blog in regard to climate change:
          The great majority of boomers just don’t get it. The world they were raised in is not our world. The great majority of anyone younger than the boomers do get it. As their “me generation” grasp on power continually weakens with age, we’ll be there to tear the power from their selfish hands.

    3. hemeantwell

      Welsh handles a lot of subjects very well, but his inclination to turn to Adam Smith to provide a theory of social motivation is myopic to the point of stupefication. A quick look around the world and a longer one through history provides plenty of examples of societies that devise ways of rewarding self-sacrifice. Of late in the news, you’ve got the Kurds, Palestinians, and ISIS for starters. My preference is to restrict guns, but it wouldn’t be difficult to gin up a Shooter of Shooters hero medallion, complete with financial and social rewards. Why Welsh, who pushes for social forms that embrace cooperation, mutual recognition etc, here falls back on the neoclassical egocentrism he usually calls out is hard to understand.

  3. Pogonip

    Anecdata: I had an Iphone 5 that lasted several years till I dropped it one time too many.

    I don’t think the rich have anything to fear from Americans, we’re a passive people. Don’t know about other countries.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      We are passive — until we aren’t. Think of Shays’ Rebellion or the original Populists a century later, and how they scared the hell out of the Money Power. Ditto, for all his faults, old Andy Jackson.

      1. HotFlash

        How about, more recently, Occupy — judging from the smack-down, TPTB were plenty scared.

        1. barefoot charley

          Think FDR’s wretched rabble pushing his back, wildcatting, striking, organizing and communizing through the 30s and WWII–with, oops, forgot, strong intellectual, judicial and social support, oh well. The commies were far and away the best organizers then, so it’s a good thing they’ve taking over our leading political party today! There’s always a silver lining. (No sarc tag, too depressing)

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s not too well known, but the Bonus Army was in the planning stages of ‘Occupying’ Humordor again in 1933, and Bonus Army WW1 vets were the first to go into CCC camps when FDR established them early in his term. They were exempted from the requirement that men had to be under 25 to enroll.

            And the ‘bonus’ was paid in 1936, 9 years ahead of maturity.

        2. Olga

          The problem is that TPTB scare very easily… or, maybe it is just the matter of the 99s interfering with the TPTB money-making machine a bit too much. They just don’t have the time or inclination to mess with the 99s and their demands. That is why when 99s finally get up to something (like a semblance of a revolution), the counter-action is swift and violent. Nip that pesky problem in the bud… at once! The way things are going, the 99s don’t stand a chance. They would if they had the luxury of organizing… but the time needed for that also gives TPTB all the time to undermine and eventually destroy any real action. My sense is that we’ll have to wait for the dislocation caused by the climate change to effect any transformation. The climate change – let’s hope – will not only pick on the poorer and poor (99s); it will indiscriminately attack us all… leading to equality-for-all destruction… Maybe then transformative acts will come… maybe.

  4. allan

    [Reuters]

    Wells Fargo & Co is examining its wealth and investment management business for potential customer harm, and has found that some customers were overcharged because of technical-system errors, according to a securities filing on Thursday. …

    The bank’s board of directors is looking in to whether wealth and investment management customers experienced inappropriate referrals or recommendations, according to its 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The review includes rollovers for 401(k) plan participants, certain alternative investments and referrals of brokerage customers to other businesses.

    Additionally, a review of fee calculations in Wells Fargo’s investment and fiduciary services business has found that some customers were overcharged due to “incorrect set-up and maintenance in the system of record,” according to the filing. Wells is now trying to determine the extent of damages and root cause of the problem. …

    They just can’t help themselves, can they?

    Together, we’ll go far into your pocket.

    1. Alex V

      One way to perhaps tell if these were truly “technical errors” is to see if the errors ever went in the customer’s favor, since bad programming should somewhat randomly go one way or the other, not just in the bank’s favor every time.

      I have my strong suspicions this will not be the finding…..

  5. Bobby Gladd

    I wonder what hegemon thinks of Vladimir Putin’s announcement of his “invincible” world-ranging new nukes and related advanced weaponry?

    1. John k

      Dunno about cotton, but I bet Mic is waking up and smelling the profits…
      Maybe putin thinks he can hasten the empire’s collapse by getting us to double down on mil spending?

      1. HotFlash

        I seem to remember some trope abt Regan causing the USSR collapse by pushing them into an unwinnable arms war. Perhaps what goes around really does come around.

        1. Olga

          It seems to be the law of the universe – what goes around, comes around! Mr. P not only spoke, he showed fancy videos for all to see… and then apologized for not being able to show the real thing. The audience smiled enthusiastically… It was a performance made for the US audience – at least the one ensconced in the pentagonal building. He even asked (tongue-in-cheek?) for people to send in names for some of the new systems (maybe the penta-guys can get creative).
          Mr. P has the advantage that rooskies’ defense industry is much less driven by profit and more by nationalistic pride and dedication to the cause (i.e., protecting their country). The designers probably play WWII red army songs as they attempt to out-draw and out-design the yanqui. When Mr. P said “Nobody wanted to talk with us on the core of the problem. Nobody listened to us. Now you listen!” I was reminded of that Helen Reddy song, “I am a woman, hear me roar…”

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              OMG look at those terrible people! They want to eat our children and stop our elections! We must have tactical nukes costing billions right away so we can kill them all with a few teensie-weensie nuclear blasts! Before they infect us with their…um…I don’t know, their horrible…shopping habits?

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > It was a performance made for the US audience

            More Russian meddling. I wonder how soon liberal Democrats will start “sowing discord” by making Putin’s videos go viral to reinforce their McCarthyite Red Scare?

            * * *

            We really do need a master of realpolitik in this country. And no, it’s not Kissinger. Bad as Bismarck was, he, personally, did nothing like the bombing of Cambodia. If only there were an American Talleyrand…

            1. Olga

              Yes, and if the US had such a person, we might not have gotten to this point to begin with

      2. integer

        It’s highly likely that the total cost for the development of all of Russia’s new weapons systems is less than that of just the F-35.

    2. Carolinian

      M of A reports on the claimed new weapons including a nuclear powered cruise missile and an ICBM that can attack from all directions including over the South Pole.

      Of course the existing likelihood that war with Russia would destroy the planet hasn’t deterred our Pentagon and NATO fantasists so unclear that these new weapons would either.

        1. Carolinian

          Moon of Alabama

          The next system introduced was a cruise missile with a nuclear power plant which makes any anti-missile system practically useless. Cold air that enters the missile at the front is superheated by a special nuclear reactor, exits at the rear and gives the missile an enormous thrust. (In the early 1960s the The U.S. had a development program for such a nuclear driven Supersonic Low-Altitude Missile (SLAM) but it did not succeed.

          The Supersonic Low Altitude Missile or SLAM was a U.S. Air Force nuclear weapons project conceived around 1955, and cancelled in 1964. SLAMs were conceived of as unmanned nuclear-powered ramjets capable of delivering thermonuclear warheads deep into enemy territory. The development of ICBMs in the 1950s rendered the concept of SLAMs obsolete. Advances in defensive ground radar also made the stratagem of low-altitude evasion ineffective. Although it never proceeded beyond the initial design and testing phase before being declared obsolete, the design contained several radical innovations as a nuclear delivery system.[…]

          The use of a nuclear engine in the airframe promised to give the missile staggering and unprecedented low-altitude range, estimated to be roughly 113,000 miles (182,000 km) (over four and a half times the equatorial circumference of the earth). The engine also acted as a secondary weapon for the missile: direct neutron radiation from the virtually unshielded reactor would sicken, injure, or kill living things beneath the flight path; the stream of fallout left in its wake would poison enemy territory; and its strategically selected crash site would receive intense radioactive contamination. These characteristics would have also made the weapon impossible to test and control.[1] In addition, the sonic waves given off by its passage would damage ground installations.

          Take it FWIW.

    3. The Rev Kev

      I wonder if Bush pulling out of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty may have had something to do with this development? Or when Obama put all those nuclear-tipped missiles near Russia’s borders claiming that they were to defend Europe against all those Iranian nuclear missiles that never existed. As that old boxing saying goes, everybody has a plan – until they get hit!

      1. Edward E

        One could probably add that on February 2, 2018, the U.S Department of Defense released its Nuclear Posture Review. This updated nuclear doctrine specifically target Russia and China, as does the National Security Strategy.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          I’m hazy on the detail. IIRC, the administration announced a strategy that shifted focus from the global war on terror to great power conflict.

          In the abstract, that seems reasonable to me (in the absence of any credible international institutions to reign in the nation states). I like realpolitik*. But I question the ability of our military, our defense community, and our intelligence community to execute any strategy unless the metric be spending extraordinary amounts of money to blow great numbers of faraway brown people to pink mist, period**. (Certainly not victory as dull normals know it. If we’ve won any of our recent wars, then where are the parades?)

          * At least as compared to liberal interventionism. Why can’t we accept that 9 times out of 10, to be generous, our intervention makes matters worse for those we have “a responsibility to protect”?

          ** One wonders how much the neoliberalism-driven dominance of contractors has to do with this. After all, if they “win,” they “lose” the contract, right?

    4. integer

      Not sure about Cotton, but judging from their Twitter s, the warmongering trio of Frum, Kristol, and Boot are simply pretending to ignore this highly significant development in global geopolitics.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t understand this. Frum and Kristol (I don’t know about Boot) are fully paid up members of #TheResistance. How could they be engaging in warmongering? [guffaw]

      2. Edward E

        Maybe they’re ‘cottoning’ on to the international bombshells within. This is also a serious message to the folks like Tom: In our country we control the Arms Industry – more bang for less $$$$$. In your country the MIC controls the Government – more $$$$ for less bang. The biggest concerns of implementation of UN Agenda 2030 and multilateral monetary system has been what to do with them.

        trəmp/

        noun: trump; plural noun: trumps

        1.
        (in bridge, whist, and similar card games) a playing card of the suit chosen to rank above the others, which can win a trick where a card of a different suit has been led.

        a valuable resource that may be used, especially as a surprise, in order to gain an advantage.

  6. L

    Here is an interesting new line: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/posteverything/wp/2018/03/01/we-kissed-conservatism-goodbye-when-we-let-trump-lead-the-gop/ (WaPo).

    On everything from tax cuts to healthcare to the environment, everything where he has done anything he is following the R playbook. Even in the areas where he made tractable heterodox promises (e.g. Infrastructure) he basically backed off and released a half-assed and very GOP plan.

    At this point calling him a Closet Democrat feels like an almost despertate attempt to shuffle blame for GOP polices off onto the party that is not in power. Or a claim that guns are so central to GOP orthodoxy that even speculating about a change requires shunning. Either way the point seems desperately weak. Erratic yes. “Closet Democrat” no.

    1. Clive

      Yes, wowsers, look at the Price spike (bottom right)

      Luckily, we’re being saved by the wind !

      Beast from The East 0 Renewable Energy Incentives 1

      (A shame the Tories were told to “cut out all the green crap”; but not, fortunately, until 14GW installed generation capacity had been constructed)

    2. The Rev Kev

      No worries. A Tory minister says ‘keep cooking and carry on’. Yeah, the same guys organizing Brexit. Maybe the UK can import some more Russian gas like they did recently. I’m sure that the Russians would be glad to oblige and the gas itself doesn’t know where it comes from. If it was good enough for the US to keep bringing in Russian gas, I’m sure the UK can do no less.
      On a more serious note, that article seems to indicate a structural flaw in the UK’s use of gas. Maybe a new gas storage plant needs to be built or the old one refurbished, even if the government has to pick up the tab. Or is the newly introduced factor of gas price volatility seen as a by the UK gas industry? I’m sure the US would love to supply this gas but it is more expensive than what they have been getting and if the US itself had to import gas recently, how reliable a source would it be?

      1. c_heale

        I think after the miner’s strike, the successive UK governments invested heavily in gas, not caring that it was putting all it’s eggs in one basket. I think the chickens might be coming home to roost…

  7. Summer

    “Why health care in Latin America is better for retirees” [MarketWatch].

    Well, that would be a deal – retired or not.
    Enough of that starts to happen and you’ll see the “wall.”
    They keep people in as well as out.

  8. diptherio

    Here’s some more evidence for the “being poor is bad for your health” file:

    ~American Psychosomatic Society

    The study measured how two lab tests known to stimulate stress affected the cortisol levels of 997 adults aged 54 and older. Study participants also gave detailed information on parental education, used as a proxy for childhood socioeconomic status (SES), their own education, income, and wealth. The findings were stark. The more time across the lifespan that a person had low SES, and the lower their status (money and education), the slower their recovery time from heightened cortisol levels triggered by the stressor. So, for example, those with low SES throughout life had a 46% slower recovery rate than adults with high SES all through their lives.

    And here’s a . From the abstract:

    Methods We used data on 997 adults 54 years or older from a multiethnic, multisite United States study to examine associations between life course SES and cortisol response to a laboratory stress challenge. Informed by life course theory, we hypothesized that lower child and adult SES would be associated with lower reactivity (i.e., smaller increase in cortisol) and a slower recovery rate (i.e., slower rate of decline in cortisol after the challenge).

    Results In demographics-adjusted multilevel piecewise linear regression models, low child and adult SES were associated with a 19% (95% CI = 4%–50%) and 27% (7%–55%) slower recovery rate compared with high child and adult SES, respectively. Compared with participants with stable high SES, those with stable low SES had a 48% (16%–70%) slower recovery rate. Differences in reactivity by SES were small.

    Conclusions Our results support the hypothesis that low SES throughout life affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and in turn the ability to recover from exposure to acute stressors. This mechanism can help explain how socioeconomic disparities contribute to disparities in chronic disease.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Being poor will make one less healthy as well as less healthy looking.

      And often, but not always, looking healthy means looking prettier (for example, you might have more hair or shinier hair).

      1. Mel

        Yes. Cosmetic money. Another reason for people to want lots more than the lots of money they already have.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          In America, or at least in this part of California, being deemed ugly (not that you are in fact ugly) can be stressful for many people…starting from a young age.

          And that, of course, adds to what poverty does to one’s health, making one ever less healthy looking.

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          If you mean ” the money to buy hair cosmetics” , I would say no, not just that.
          Enough money to buy good quality food the knowledge and interest to do so makes the body able to support healthier hair follicles which can grow more better-quality hair on their own, without cosmetic assistance.

          ” All your money won’t another minute buy” –Kansas

          Oh really? All THEIR money will buy them whole decades more lifespan that what poor peoples’ meager money will buy for poor people.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Guardian

            And a classic quote from Brookings, ““:

            searchers have long known that the rich live longer than the poor. Evidence now suggests that the life expectancy gap is increasing, at least here the United States, which raises troubling questions about the fairness of current efforts to protect Social Security.

            That’s not all it raises questions about…

    2. marieann

      “Here’s some more evidence for the “being poor is bad for your health” file:”

      I know all about this. We grew up poor and I have the bad teeth to prove it. I had partial denture at 24.
      I grew up in Scotland where dental care was covered for children…..but not the bus fare to get you to the dentist.

      Of course one of the benefits of growing up poor, it made me very thrifty, and that enabled me to retire at 55.

    3. neo-realist

      I’ll bet that a test on cortisol levels in black people subject to overt and covert racism would produce some very interesting results.

  9. Elizabeth Burton

    To my recollection, Lee Carter is a Democratic Socialist who ran as a Democrat, as most of us do. So, his unwavering support for the WVA teachers should come as no surprise.

    1. Big River Bandido

      Surprise or not, a Democrat actually standing up for working people is a novelty these days. And refreshing.

  10. lyman alpha blob

    …I think flipping the House means impeachment, which will tear the country apart and culminate in Pence (and that’s the best possible outcome. Pardon my pessimism.

    You only need a majority in the House to impeach, but there is a 2/3 supermajority required in the Senate to convict. If that doesn’t happen, no Pence. Are you speculating that 10+ Republican senators might vote with the Democrats?

    I suppose if enough thought Pence would have a better chance at reelection in 2020 than Trump, they might do it. It may be more likely that they would stay the course with Trump and if they don’t have the presidency in 2020, they’ll just go into obstruction mode to make whoever the Dem pres is look feeble, something they’ve turned into an art form.

    Remember, according to current rules regarding filibusters, dry powder etc., it pretty much only takes one Republican rep or one Republican senator to block anything the Dem majority might want to do ;)

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      An impeachment political drama would definitely cut into people watching sports (not the Olympics, for the games would be over by then).

      And what would the new Democratic House do first – impeachment or health care?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Impeachment, of course.

        Yes, I’m aware that the Senate must vote to convict; I lived through the Clinton impeachment. Just because the House Democrats can only bring a bill of impeachment won’t prevent them from doing it, even if it will “never, ever come to pass.”

  11. allan

    [Marketwatch]

    The new chairman of the Federal Reserve questioned why struggling borrowers can’t discharge their student loans in bankruptcy.

    “Alone among all kinds of debt, we don’t allow student loan debt to be discharged in bankruptcy,” Jerome Powell told members of the Senate Banking Committee Thursday. “I’d be at a loss to explain why that should be the case.” …

    Is it possible the the Fed chair knows less about “why that should be the case” than the average NC reader?
    Or do the rules of decorum of the World’s Greatest Deliberative Body prevent Powell pointing out the obvious?

    1. cnchal

      Those are two good questions, but miss the impish implications of what he is saying. My guess is he knows student debt is not allowed to be discharged in bankruptcy, them’s the rules, but thinks the rules makers are corrupt and/or stupid, and is politically correct enough not to call them that to their faces.

      I think we are getting a new dose of FED volatility, someone that won’t always have Wall Street’s back. Hope springs eternal.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      That sends a signal to the Administration about what the Fed will allow them to do on student debt before 2020 if the Administration is sharp enough to pick the message up (a dubious proposition right now, I think).

  12. der

    You know there are conditions on arming teachers. They will be trained in how to use a handgun to take out that bad guy with an assault rifle, one shot, like the President demonstrated with his finger gun “pequuui! dead!”. Trained, though maybe not as well as the police are trained, you know like these 7 guys:

    Authorities in San Francisco released body camera videos on Tuesday of a dramatic shootout in which police officers fired their weapons at least 65 times in 15 seconds at a murder suspect.

    “Nobody was struck by gunfire during this incident. The evidence in the case so far indicates Armstrong fired two rounds from a weapon, and that seven officers fired 65 rounds from their department-issued weapons,” SFPD Commander Greg McEacher.

    Genius. Our Best and Brightest at work. Why are these people in charge?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      So that it is not inconsistent, I believe, until we have taken guns away from both the police and individuals, until then, if someone wants to defend him/herself in the meantime, that should be an option.

      And this quoted incident reinforces the point that, unless they are secret service agents protecting the president, we are better off with something similar to the UK when it comes to arming the police. But secret service agents are also human. And we can’t be sure if they wont’ react, from time to time, like the rest of us.

      Furthermore, for people concerned about a police state in any nation, an unarmed police state can’t be worse than an armed police state.

    2. Conrad

      “Spray and pray” doesn’t seem like a particularly advisable tactical doctrine for police departments in urban environments.

    3. JBird

      With the caveat that I know nothing about the proper way to arrest someone, they do look like a slapstick act. One cop while several other cops are falling all over him and still on his back does a few shots. They act like it’s a complete surprise, despite them knowing they were trying to arrest a suspected armed murderer. If I got the immediate area right, it’s not as densely populated as much of the city. Of course, with around 850 thousand within 47 square miles that’s not saying much. These are the very people that are supposed to be protecting me. Marvelous. Just marvelous.

    4. subgenius

      It’s worth looking at FBI firearm stats for insight. 65 rounds fired with none on target is not an outlier…

      Also of note….inside 25 feet a blade is statistically better than a sidearm.

  13. Oregoncharles

    ““State Lawsuit Claims That Individual Mandate Penalty Repeal Should Topple Entire ACA””
    This might be interesting. I don’t agree with the lawsuit. I’ve seen the arguments for the entire ACA depending on the Mandate; they strike me as convoluted, questionable, and dependent on questionable assumptions. Furthermore, they’re subject to factual test, which is now set to happen. Either the system collapses without the Mandate, or it doesn’t. Time will tell.

    If I was the judge, which isn’t at all likely, I think I’d dismiss it out of hand. What Congress makes, Congress can unmake. If they want to run the experiment, so be it. And the argument as reported misses the point: the MANDATE itself is constitutional only because it’s a tax (which Dems denied at the time). Not the whole bill.

    And I agree with Lambert’s point that the whole thing is remarkably bad legislation, loaded with points of attack and unforeseen glitches.

  14. Greg Taylor

    I’m skeptical about the usefulness of Asymco’s methods to estimate average or median device lifespan.. Today we have 2 billion cumulative Apple devices, of which 750 million are retired. Over the last 5 years, device lifespans have increased from 5 quarters to 17 quarters. He claims from that this number alone, the value of the enterprise can be calculated. Longer lifespans = higher valuations.

    According to the method presented, the time it takes from today to retire a cumulative total of 2 billion retired devices will provide another lifespan estimate (L.) Suppose sales fall (Blackberry-style) and cumulative devices sold over time flattens out at around 2.5 billion. We’ll get the new lifespan estimate, L, when 80% of all devices ever sold are retired (instead of 33% for today’s estimate.) I’d argue that the new lifespan, L, will be even longer than today’s 17 quarters, probably much longer – despite the fact that the enterprise value would be decimated. My guess is that one could display increasing lifespan over time curves for Next, Nokia, Blackberry, etc as sales were declining.

    Asymco’s lifespan estimate can’t tell us everything we need to know about enterprise value.

  15. Wukchumni

    Chihuahuas are the perfect cur to represent the donkey show…

    …they bark and bear their teeth, while simultaneously backing away

  16. Henry Moon Pie

    I have a Netflix recommendation: the documentary “.” It’s about a non-profit doing job training by having people plant trees in a SE DC park. I found it inspiring to see the good intentions of all involved, heartbreaking to ponder the life situations of the trainees and a sobering reality when it comes to the actual implementation of policies that sound wonderful in the abstract. We’re a long way from 1934 or even 1965.

  17. dcblogger

    Just because the Versailles Democrats are pushing “stability” candidates does not mean they will win their primaries. If the Our Revolution, DSA, Justice Democrats, et al win the primaries it will be a very different world.

    1. Liberal Mole

      If they do, I fully expect the DCCC to start supporting their Republican opponents.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      What I need to do, and have not done, is see whether OR/DSA etc. are running/supporting any candidates in direct opposition to any DCCC Blue Dogs. That to me is the key.

  18. marieann

    Re: the increase in pedestrian fatalities

    I’m assuming they were hit by a car with a driver. Whether or not the pedestrians are distracted, the driver should have had control of the vehicle and be driving safely and that includes watching out for obstacles, like pedestrians.

    The photo in the story shows pedestrians at a zebra crossing….which means they have the right of way while crossing.

    1. Conrad

      The prevalence of SUVs and trucks doesn’t help. With a car a pedestrian sprawls over hood and into the windshield. With a higher fronted vehicle the pedestrian gets knocked onto the road and under the wheels with a much greater chance of a fatal head injury even at relatively slow speeds.

    2. Carolinian

      A somewhat recent phenomenon where I live is that practically everyone (not me!) rolls through stop signs if they don’t see anyone coming. Sometimes they don’t even slow down. Hard to know whether this comes from permissive law enforcement or deteriorating driving skills. When I lived in NYC it was the opposite situation. Pedestrians would jaywalk at will knowing that any driver who hit a pedestrian had the book thrown at them. Plus of course in NY there’s a much higher pedestrian to car ratio than most places. Strength in numbers.

      Anyhow I consider the local situation an interesting study in mass psychology. Perhaps it’s just a passing fad.

    3. JBird

      Aaah no, I do not think so. With the agreement that there too many reckless drivers, I have had people walk out between two large parked vehicles right into the middle of the street or right into the crosswalk and I have the green light. Sometimes without a device and without looking for traffic. One time someone crossed the multi-lane one way street against the light while texting and never looked up. Fortunately for the fool all three front cars saw him and stopped. Not that he ever looked the entire time.

      Even in California there are some situations in which the state will recognize the laws of physics as the higher authority especially. Pedestrians have given me literal feet of warning. Only near Divine luck saved them. Of course, they often act like it’s your fault.

      Although in fairness some drivers, and bicyclists, as well as pedestrians act as if the rules don’t apply to them. However drivers are cocooned in metal and airbags so they are likely to survive. I don’t understand some of the nonchalance of people protected only by air.

      1. wilroncanada

        Perhaps many of the people who are distracted, aggressive, or nonchalant drivers become distracted, aggressive, or nonchalant pedestrians once they alight from their vehicles. I’ve watched people who have cut off other drivers in mall parking lots in contests to get the parking spots closest to the doors, then walk through the driving lane to the door cursing other drivers who have to slam on their brakes to avoid knocking them over. I’ve watched mothers and fathers in school zones (30 km/h where we live), roar to the curb in no-parking zones, climb out of their cars, and usher juniors jaywalking over to the school opposite, rather than walk 50 feet to the crosswalks.

        Perhaps culling information on how many of those traffic fatalities were also drivers might be interesting.

  19. Lemmy Caution

    Re:
    The article identifies distracted driving (i.e., smart phones) and marijuana as possibly contributing to the nearly 6,000 pedestrian deaths in 2017 and asks if the increased death rate is the new normal.
    I’d say possibly not, since trends toward hybrid/electric vehicles and autonomous vehicles represent new dangers..

    It’s Quiet… Too Quiet
    Electric vehicles (EVs) — and Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEVs) when operating in electric mode — are much quieter than vehicles powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs). In fact they are so quiet that pedestrians and bicyclists often don’t hear them coming. A study by the found:

    “For one group of scenarios, those in which a vehicle is slowing or stopping, backing up, or entering or leaving a parking space, a statistically significant effect was found due to engine type. The HEV was two times more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash in these situations than was an ICE vehicle.” (BF added)

    The risk of vehicles that are too quiet is well known, which is why the government is requiring automakers to add noise to EVs and HEVs. Some EVs and HEVs are equipped with pedestrian alert systems, but many are not. And, since automakers just managed to moving it to 2020, this particular risk will be around for a few more years.

    I’ve Got It, You Take It
    A thornier problem may arise with autonomous cars. Namely, how well will they able to not only see pedestrians and bicyclists, but also communicate with them? The article lays out the problem:

    Whether we’re at a crosswalk, a traffic light or just walking out in the middle of the road, we’ve learned since we were young that it’s important to make eye with the drivers of approaching cars. But that’s not going to be possible with autonomous cars.

    People and cars will need to communicate in some other way. With no universally agreed on method for doing this, my own research, and that of a number of tech companies, automobile manufacturers and startups, is exploring using different types of visual signals – akin, perhaps, to a driver waving a person across the street or flashing the car’s headlights to signal their yielding the right of way. Doing that turns out to be quite complicated.

    There’s no clear resolution of how to solve this problem and the Feds aren’t any help in this area either, as the article notes:

    “Despite federal guidelines on stationary pedestrian traffic signals in today’s transportation world, there are no standards for vehicle-to-pedestrian communications at the moment.”

    So while robot vehicles may eventually allow passengers to get stoned and look at their smart phones to their hearts content, pedestrians and bicyclists will still need to navigate their way around a new category of risk while on the road.

    1. JBird

      Mandating noise? Cars have running lights and horns and I don’t think it would be difficult to add some sort of continuous sound making.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        OEMs are adding noise makers and they usually activate only at lower speeds. The study cited above found that at highway speeds EVs/HEVs were no more likely to be involved in a pedestrian crash than ICE vehicles. I’m not sure what the rules are for all the existing EVs/HEVs already out there that aren’t equipped with the noise-making devices.

  20. Mark Alexander

    The only single-pane outliner I could find for Linux is . I haven’t tried it, so I don’t know if it meets all the requirements.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks very much. From the blog post, the programmer really knows what they’re talking about, so there’s hope. (The last time I researched this, I came up with Leo, which is workable, but requires Python and is more than a little clunky.)

      Another reader suggested emacs, but I don’t really want to enter the emacs world. I’ve already tried, and I don’t think it’s for me. The learning curve is too steep.

      Adding: I for the high points, and it really does look like this meets my requirements. Looks like I’ll have to fire up my back-up laptop, which is some version of Ubuntu, and try it out. (The software is from July 2015, which shows you when I last tried to solve this problem; current Macbook Air purchased “early 2015.”)

      The NC commentariat really is the best commentariat!

      UPDATE :

      I finally had a chance to download and test. I’m deeply appreciative of programmers who create tools for the rest of us, and I’ve shared a more extensive version of my comments with him on his site. In brief, though, I found the user interface for creating “nodes” very balky. Everything is entered in a text box discrete from the outline, and requires a command to start, erase placeholder text, and save. After that, it’s a pretty decent outliner, though, and I’m hopeful that it will get even better over time. I’m certainly encouraged to see the project.

      The underlined portion shows exactly what I do not want. I want to be able to drag whole paragraphs (nodes) around without creating labels for them. Programmers seem deeply unable to make the tree abstraction fade into the background. In general, they insist I label the node (paragraph), and insist that I manipulate my paragraphs through their clunky tree widget, instead of just dragging the paragraphs around as siblings, parents, or children.

      Anyhow, still thank you, and I’ll install it and test it. Just not this evening!

  21. fresno dan

    Henry Moon Pie
    March 1, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    I would love to see it, but alas, Netflix doesn’t show it :(
    Netflix, which really used to show a broad, diverse, and obscure number of movies has really fallen down on the job. I am thinking of quitting them, but they still have a much bigger selection than anyone else I have found

  22. Expat2uruguay

    About that BuzzFeed article by Thomas Frank. Isn’t Thomas Frank the guy who can’t get published anymore? Or have I got the wrong guy?

    1. Big River Bandido

      The author’s picture and profile don’t match the Thomas Frank who wrote Listen, Liberal.

      Nor do the subject and quality of the writing.

  23. ewmayer

    | Reuters

    Ha, I love a good ambiguous headline – so would this be the ‘California border wall’ between SoCal and Mexico, or the one between CA and the rest of the country? If the latter, I wonder if Trump could hit up CA librul squillionaire Tom Steyer, he of the ‘Trump es un desgraciado maldito! (Se habla #resist)’ TV ad series, for financing?

  24. RobertC

    Lambert: as for editing notes, I am back to the basics! I use Brackets as an editor, it works well. I enjoy simple markdown formatting with a preview add-on. One pane, easy syntax, etc.

    Any text editor will do, even NotePad.exe on windows. Simply type.. Spend 5-10 minutes and check out markdown.

    Sometimes less is more.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      And sometimes less is too little.

      I want to drag boxes of text around (one step). I don’t want to select text, copy it, and paste it (three steps, and error prone).

      Writing is not the same as programming, alas…

  25. UserFriendly

    This is just a bit of an off topic rant, but….

    So earlier today I noticed an email from ‘Movement for a People’s Party’ in my inbox saying that they had their platform mostly worked out and now was the last chance to submit things…. Being a huge policy nerd I of course jumped on the chance. They already had a weak version of a job guarantee on there so I decided to not bother criticizing that and just made 3 suggestions:

    1. Ranked Choice voting is not all it’s cracked up to be. It isn’t precinct summable so it would require centralized counting. It is nonmonotonic, which means you can get a better result by not voting. Say you and a friend would vote 1. Stein 2. Bernie 3. Clinton. The other people that have already voted went:
    8X Bernie > Clinton > Stein
    7X Stein> Bernie > Clinton
    10X Clinton > Bernie > Stein
    If you and your friend do vote Bernie gets eliminated in round 1 and then Clinton (your last pick) wins 18 to 9. If you and your friend don’t vote then Stein gets eliminated in round 1 and Bernie (your 2nd choice) wins 15 to 10.

    STAR voting is soooo much better, and more expressive leading to a consensus pick. You just score each candidate 0-5 and the winner is the candidate that was ranked higher by more voters between the two highest scoring candidates. It’s all explained much better here:

    STAR voting is only for single winner elections which is good because that means it can be adopted at any level of government. If you want to do multimember districts for congress that would require a federal law change too and then a switch to a cousin of STAR called Reweighted Range voting.
    Voting systems where you can score each candidate independently are always much better than ones where you have to rank them.

    2. Since we have already locked in 6 feet of sea level rise by 2100 don’t make tearing up nuclear plants a priority, besides they are developing newer ones that run on waste and are fail safe.

    3. Require all news outlets to be Non-Profits whose mission is strictly to inform the public and have fixed public funding for them and an ethics board to ensure balance.

    So they had a conference call where everyone got to vote on the adoption of the things that got submitted. The only one of mine that got mentioned was the 3rd one; which passed.
    What else passed:
    * Requiring the FDA to consider herbs and plants as medicine.
    * Not allowing state patent licensing offices to have written tests.
    * Encouraging the public to have a meat free diet.
    * REQUIRING ALL food sold to be certified organic.

    so here is what I raged out and sent to him:
    Mandatory certified organic? You might as well just change the name to movement for an authoritarian dictatorship party. Do you even know what it takes to get certified organic? It takes at least a few years of no pesticide use on that plot of land. So that means that we would have to stop farming entirely for a few years. So besides being entirely unrealistic to expect to pass it would probably force most of the country to starve to death just because you have a few people who think they should be able to dictate how other people eat. We already have one anti-science party we don’t need a left wing version that wants to pretend we can wave a wand and instantly have green energy and organic food. While you are at it you might want to add a plank saying that no one is required to vaccinate their kids because it causes autism. And so much for idolizing direct democracy on the blockchain if you aren’t even willing to do with basic democracy now, you clearly got my amendment on making news non profit but decided to ignore the other hard truths I submitted about nuclear power and that ranked choice voting isn’t feasible for anything but local elections; and even then it messes up enough that people repeal it.
    This movement is a complete waste of time

  26. Big River Bandido

    Despite Parkland’s opposition, Florida House panel votes to arm teachers.

    Conservatives and neoliberals have always wanted to destroy the public schools. This is just a new way for them to try. My idealistic side would like to believe such a crass move would inflame the public. But our dear Democrats are so enfeebled, so visionless, such a phony opposition that their response is predictable: they’ll have a few days of tantrums, raise a few million dollars on the issue — and then either quietly drop it, or craft a “compromise” or cosmetic distraction and allow enough Democrats to vote for it to ensure passage, all the while insisting they were “fighting” for something or other. Meanwhile, yet another dystopian conservative fantasy gets implemented. It’s a very bipartisan policy.

  27. Skip Intro

    I’m a big outliner fan, and I really like Workflowy (other than the name) It is browser-based, but has very nice app versions. It may not match your needs, of course. What I like is that it has infinite levels, and you can jump into a section so that it is your entire top-level outline, then jump in deeper or jump back out. I find it a really elegant way of dealing with arbitrarily deep outlines, without having to do a lot of collapsing, or stare at a crazy-deep nesting…

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks! Since there is a *.dmg, I downloaded and installed it. This is the closest so far, since after a little fiddling, I was able to “drag boxes of text” (nodes) around, without fiddling with a tree widget, which is exactly what I want. (We can also see the brain damage cellphone-optimized UI/UX does for machines on which one actually wishes to do productive work: With Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines, now increasingly neglected even on the Mac, Menu Items and Command Keys were paired and visible, so there was an easy path to proficiency from menu to keyboard. Cellphone designers, owing no doubt to their small screens, systematically hide functionality, and so in Workflowy we have a sparse menu structure with no outline commands on it at all, and then keyboard commands only for outline manipulation, and those hidden away.

      Still, this is by far the best so far, and it works on linux, too (not going there with the browser; too risky. What I don’t like is the fact that I have to log in to use it; I don’t especially feel like sending all my content over the wire to Workflowy. I want an application, not an app, if that’s the behavior that “app” implies.

      1. Skip Intro

        I didn’t even realize there was an application version on mac or linux. I use it in a browser (maybe not for long!) and on an ipad. It is unfortunate that it is only available in software-as-a-service form, even if it is basically free. I would gladly pay for a standalone version. OTOH, they have a very nice system for sharing certain branches, for collaborative outlines, a benefit of the cloud dependence. I think the ipad app has an offline mode, which would imply that it doesn’t need any computing from any server.

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