2:00PM Water Cooler 4/30/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Dear Readers,

I put this request up in Links, but on the off-chance that anybody has had an inspiration between 7:00AM and 2:00PM, I’m putting it up again–

I will be in NYC for one evening, Saturday June 2. Yves wants to do a meetup, but it turns out the usual haunts (or at least the ones she’s gotten to so far, Ten Bells has not responded) are booked, and they indicated that Saturday nights book up way in advance.

Any reader ideas re place in Manhattan that could accommodate 40-50 people where we don’t have to rent a room? We might consider a deposit, but not a large one (the one at Ten Bells is pretty modest).

–lambert

Trade

“Ross Says U.S. to Extend Duty Relief to Some Allies, Not All” []. “Ross, in an interview in Washington with Bloomberg late Saturday, declined to identify which nations would be spared from the tariffs. He said the announcement will be made right before the May 1 deadline for the duties to kick in. The secretary indicated on Friday that nations have been asked to accept import quotas in return for tariff-free access of the metals into the U.S…. So far, South Korea is the only nation to be spared from the duties after reaching a deal to revise its bilateral free trade agreement with the U.S., which was already under way.”

“The EU has already made clear it plans to retaliate if it is not granted a permanent exemption from the tariffs, generating a list of U.S. exports last month ranging from peanut butter to yachts that would be hit with new punitive duties” []. “But member nations are working with the Trump administration to find a compromise. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May spoke separately over the weekend with both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron — both of whom traveled to the White House last week to speak with Trump about the tariffs — about the “vital importance” of the steel and aluminum industries and their concern over the effects tariffs would have.”

Politics

2018

“The Best of Rust Belt Campaign Ads” []. “‘Look, we all know that juggling fire alone can’t outweigh millions of dollars in TV commercials, but you can,’ Biss says to the camera, his monotone delivery and expressionless face making the need for a gimmick obvious.”

“If Democrats Are Doing so Great, Why Don’t They Have a Bigger Lead on Generic Ballot?” []. “But, If a so-called “blue wave” is about to hit in 2018, why isn’t the generic ballot showing a bigger margin for Democrats? The latest Real Clear Politics average shows Democrats with a 6.5 percent lead. The FiveThirtyEight.com average has Democrats with a 6.9 percent lead. If Democrats are cruising to victory in the fall, why does the generic not look more like it did over the summer when it showed Democrats with a double-digit lead?… Republicans are ‘coming home.’ Even in a terrible year for the GOP, they are not going to perform much worse in the national vote than 43-44 percent.”

“Exclusive: Democrats lose ground with millennials – Reuters/Ipsos poll” []. “The online survey of more than 16,000 registered voters ages 18 to 34 shows their support for Democrats over Republicans for Congress slipped by about 9 percentage points over the past two years, to 46 percent overall. And they increasingly say the Republican Party is a better steward of the economy….. Although nearly two of three young voters polled said they do not like Republican President Donald Trump, their distaste for him does not necessarily extend to all Republicans or translate directly into votes for Democratic congressional candidates.”

UPDATE “The Daily 202: The Intercept breaks open Democratic squabbles as midterm elections approach” []. “Squabbles.” “In Washington’s popular memory, Emanuel was a whiz who helped the party win again by recruiting centrist candidates in swing seats. In the Intercept’s own view, shared widely on the left, Emanuel’s version of the party was unsustainable and unpopular, suppressing more left-wing candidates whose agendas might have excited voters in favor of good-on-paper candidates who lost. The Intercept’s Hoyer story included an important digression about how the second-ranking Democrat in the House ‘regularly invites corporate lobbyists for weekly lunches’ and raised ‘corporate cash’ for the party in 2006.”

UPDATE “Pelosi defends party intervention in Democratic primaries” []. On the Intercept’s Tilleman story: “‘I don’t know that a person can tape a person without the person’s consent and then release it to the press,’ Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference. ‘In terms of candidates and campaigns I don’t see anything inappropriate in what Mr. Hoyer was engaged in — a conversation about the realities of life in the race as to who can make the general election.'” We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality…

UPDATE “Trump’s Tariffs Could Weaken the GOP’s Grip on Congress” []. “According to data compiled by Bloomberg measuring which U.S. congressional districts rely most on soybeans for economic activity, far more GOP than Democratic districts will suffer [from Chinese retaliatory tariffs]… But party affiliation alone doesn’t capture the extent to which Trump voters stand to be hurt: Of the 30 districts most reliant on soybeans, Republicans represent 25 and Democrats 5; all voted for Trump in 2016. ‘It’s like he’s microtargeting policy to screw his own supporters,’ says a frustrated GOP strategist.” I see the logic, but November is a long way away. Gotta give China credit for hitting where it hurts, though.

“Democrats’ 2018 impeachment dilemma, explained” []. So, liberal Democrats have spent every waking moment for the last two years explaining why Trump, a “Russian puppet,” in Hillary Clinton’s felicitous phrase, is a traitor. Heck, making that very point! If they’re right, then Trump ought to be impeached. What Vox’s explainer doesn’t explain is (a) how the Democrats explain to their base that they’re not impeaching a Russian puppet, and (b) how they explain to other voters what they were doing for the last two years. I mean, it’s almost like they were never serious, right?

“Meet the little-known ‘big fish’ megadonor setting the tone for GOP primary races” []. “Richard Uihlein, a wealthy shipping-supplies magnate from Illinois who shuns the spotlight, has risen to become one of the most powerful — and disruptive — GOP donors in the country. For years, Uihlein has given money to isolated races in the service of his anti-union, free-market and small-government views. But he has dramatically increased his giving this cycle, pouring $21 million into races from Montana to West Virginia to ensure more conservative victories in the upcoming midterm elections, Federal Election Commission records show.”

UPDATE WV: “Democratic super PAC meddling in GOP primary in West Virginia” []. “A Democratic super PAC is meddling in West Virginia’s Republican Senate primary to boost Don Blankenship, an energy executive convicted of conspiracy to violate mine safety standards who is viewed as the weakest challenger to incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.” Because the Pied Piper strategy worked out so well in 2016….

MN: “Former George W. Bush ethics lawyer ditches GOP, to seek U.S. Senate in Minn. as Democrat” []. So liberal Democrats rehabilitating George W. Bush has worked out very well for them.

IN: “GOP candidates’ circular firing squad ahead of Indiana Senate primary” []. “GNAW BONE, Ind. — Drunken driving, self-dealing and false advertising.” Best byline ever. More: “Those are just some of the charges voters here are sifting through in a brutal three-way Republican primary that will determine who gets to take on Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., in November.”

2016 Post Mortem

“One Seattle man’s quest to cancel his $10.48 monthly donation to Hillary Clinton’s nonprofit” []. “Corey Koscielniak admits that $10.48 is “a really small amount” over which to get frustrated. But Koscielniak’s decision to cancel a recurring monthly donation of that sum to Hillary Clinton’s nonprofit organization Onward Together turned into an odyssey that’s lasted several weeks. The organization’s webpage didn’t allow him to cancel, and a phone call to the group didn’t seem to resolve things. The situation prompted Koscielniak to file a complaint with the Washington state Attorney General’s Office. The experience also gave the 29-year-old Clinton voter a brush with the opaque world of nonprofit, quasi-political organizations that disclose little about their operations. As for the trouble to cancel his donation and lack of disclosure, ‘I don’t expect it from anyone, corporation or not,’ said Koscielniak, who added that he doesn’t have a chip on his shoulder about Clinton herself. ‘But what surprised me is, the Democratic Party is supposed to stand for other people and not be part of this larger industrial complex,’ he added.” Yes, there does seem to be a contradiction there….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“United States of Apathy” []. This is a neat cartography site:

I’m not 100% certain that “abstention from voting” and “apathy” are the same thing. Still, it’s interesting that “Nobody” wins the Electoral College going away.

UPDATE “As the first and probably only stretch of complete Republican control of government nears its end, a grim melancholy has crept over many regular Republicans, who are wondering why they have so little to show for it. They have temporarily let up on enforcing regulations on pollution, labor law, and campaign finance, as every Republican administration does. And they have given wealthy people a large tax cut, as every Republican administration also does. But these measures are easily reversed and will not leave much of an imprint on the role of government in American life. Is this all there is?” [Jonathon Chait, ]. If the Democrats actually wanted to govern…

“The Infiltrator and the Movement” []. “Managing, keeping tabs on, and even crushing political threats to the status quo is a steadfast feature of most modern capitalist states. It’s crucial for the Left to understand how political infiltration has functioned historically in the UK, and draw out the strategic lessons this history might contain.” This article is about the UK, but given the especially close ties between the intelligence community and liberal Democrats, this is something to watch out for in the United States as well. (That’s why I’m a strong advocate of platforms; takes the personalities out of it.)

“Pa. gerrymandering’s surprise co-conspirators: Democrats” []. “More than one in three Democrats in the state House voted for the 2011 map. Most were from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh areas, where incumbent Democrats in Congress were largely protected under the new lines.” I’m shocked. Excellent article.

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, March 2018: “Core inflation is suddenly very near the Federal Reserve’s target, at a year-on-year 1.9 percent in March for a 3 tenths gain for this which is the most closely watched of all inflation indicators” []. “But the gain reflects an easy comparison with March last year when a plunge in wireless service prices pulled readings down. The monthly gain for the core relative to February this year is only a modest 0.2 percent…. Income data are subdued in today’s report…. The year-on-year core reading for this report is a shot across the bow for this week’s FOMC meeting where no action is expected.” And: “The increase in personal income was slightly below expectations, and the increase in PCE was at expectations” []. “PCE growth was weak in Q1, however inflation is now near the Fed’s target.” And but: “The savings rate declined and remains near 21st century lows” []. “Consumer spending growth is higher than income growth year-over-year. The backward revisions are driving this analyst crazy.”

Chicago PMI, April 2018: “Increasing indications of capacity stress now include the prices paid index of the Chicago PMI report” []. “The slowing in orders is probably welcome for this sample where signs of capacity stress, beyond prices, also include delivery times which continue to lengthen and where tie-ups in steel shipments are a factor. Steel is not moving into inventories, at least yet as inventories posted their lowest reading since August. Other indications in today’s report include a 6-month low for employment.”

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, April 2018: “Activityy.. remains robust in the Dallas Fed manufacturing sector as does production” []. “This report has flashed signs of unsustainable growth making less severe strength a welcome outcome.”

Pending Home Sales Index, March 2018: “Existing home sales have been struggling to move higher and today’s pending home sales index points to only subdued improvement” [].

Retail: “Freight Costs Weighing on Earnings at Consumer-Goods Makers” []. “Some companies and analysts expect the pressure on shipping, which began late last year, to extend into the spring, when the seasonal growth in volumes of produce, food and beverages could place additional strain on already-tight trucking capacity.”

Retail: “LTL industry seeing strongest growth in nearly 10 years, C.H. Robinson chief says” []. “The less-than-truckload (LTL) industry is experiencing its strongest growth in nearly a decade, with manufacturing and e-commerce activity pushing LTL carriers to deliver more small shipments moving in the last mile and in the “middle mile” between distribution centers, the chairman and CEO of broker and third-party logistics (3PL) provider giant C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc. said today. At the same time, LTL capacity remains tight because carriers have not added much equipment… LTL carriers have been less affected than their truckload brethren by the driver shortage, because LTL drivers are generally paid better and their shorter-haul runs allow for a better work-life balance, thus minimizing turnover.”

Shipping: “U.S. e-commerce logistics costs expected to keep heading in one direction: up” []. “E-commerce logistics costs in the U.S. now accounts for 6.9% of total U.S. logistics costs, which is ahead of 2016’s 5.2% tally. Making these figures even more significant is that based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, when it first tracked e-commerce sales in 1999, e-commerce represented a mere 0.6% of total retail sales. What’s more, [supply chain consultancy Armstrong & Associates] found that over the last five years, e-commerce logistics costs have a compound annual growth rate of around 15%, with the expectation that it will remain at the level or head further up. Taking that a step further Armstrong said it estimates that U.S. e-commerce logistics costs are expected to increase at an 18.8% rate per year through 2020.”

Shipping: “Investment in Amazon Logistics will grow, as outsourcing goes on… for now” []. “Amazon plans to retain its current mix of outsourced and in-house logistics operations – for now. But it will continue to invest in its own transport capabilities, to cater for growth. In an earnings call last week, as Amazon announced its first-quarter results, CFO Brian Olsavsky told analysts the company was growing its own teams. ‘We have a great group of carriers that we use globally … But we’re also growing our teams and capabilities to ensure that we can keep up with increased volume on our own, particularly around the holiday season.'”

Shipping: “Freight Railroads Get Boost from Tight Trucking Markets” []. “Rail is typically cheaper, but slower, than long-haul trucking. With spot-market trucking prices up as much as 30% year-over-year, shippers looking to shave costs off less time-sensitive shipments are increasingly turning to intermodal service, where carriers move goods long distances by rail and truck…. U.S. railroads posted a 6.5% increase in intermodal traffic in March, according a report from the Association of American Railroads, making the month ‘easily the best’ March in history.”

Shipping: “House passes FAA reform with language pre-empting state rules on driver rest, meal pay” []. “The House of Representatives today overwhelmingly approved a five-year Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) re-authorization bill that includes an amendment to federally pre-empt state laws requiring commercial truck drivers operating in interstate commerce to be paid for meal and rest times. The bill passed by a 393-13 margin. The Senate must now pass its version of FAA reform, which also includes the federal pre-emption amendment”

Shipping: “Maersk CEO Calls For End to Shipping Subsidies” []. “AP Moller-Maersk Chief Executive Soren Skou is calling for governments to withdraw their financial support for container shipping lines, saying subsidies and other backing are causing overcapacity and profit-crushing price reductions across the maritime industry…. Without pointing the finger at any one nation, [Skou] said companies are building ships that were ‘not needed, for companies who were not profitable and who do not have a profitable business model,’ he added.”

The Bezzle: “Fraudulent claims made by IBM about Watson and AI” []. “They are not doing ‘cognitive computing’ no matter how many times they say they are… It would be nice if IBM would tone down the hype and let people know what Watson can actually do and stop making up nonsense about love fading and out thinking cancer. IBM is simply lying now and they need to stop…. AI winter is coming soon.” And not a moment too soon.

The Bezzle: “He Drove a Tesla on Autopilot From the Passenger Seat. The Court Was Not Amused.” [ (KW)]. “The police said that Mr. Patel had switched on the car’s semiautonomous driving function while it was in motion, and then hopped into the passenger seat — ‘leaving the steering wheel and foot controls completely unmanned.’… The authorities consulted a Tesla engineer who said Autopilot features were “intended to provide assistance to a ‘fully attentive driver.’ … In its investigation into the death in Florida, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that the crash in Tesla’s systems, but found that Autopilot lacked safeguards to prevent its misuse.”

The Bezzle: “Wells Fargo unit will pay $9.5 million to settle financial adviser suit” []. “Wells Fargo Advisers LLC will pay $9.5 million to 2,200 California financial advisers who charged that the brokerage had failed to pay their commissions in a timely manner and reimburse them for expenses… The financial advisers – current and former employees – will receive, on average, a net $2,700.” Penny ante stuff. Wells Fargo is just crooked all the way through, isn’t it?

The Bezzle: “The new food: meet the startups racing to reinvent the meal” []. “The most famous “alt-protein” product so far is the Impossible Burger, an entirely plant-based patty that has an uncanny resemblance to meat and is now served in more than 1,000 restaurants in the US, usually at around $15. The key meaty ingredient in the Impossible Burger – the “blood” – is a hemeprotein found in the roots of soy plants. But the way it is produced for the burger shows how the new food tech companies are harnessing techniques first developed for biomedical uses. The DNA for the hemeprotein is encoded by genetic modification into a yeast, which is then brewed. The protein, identical to the soy original, is then separated and no GM material ends up in the burger.”

The Bezzle: “Thousands of Women Say LuLaRoe’s Legging Empire Is a Scam” []. “LuLaRoe makes colorful, patterned clothes—lots of chevrons, stripes, geometric shapes—in benign, loose-fitting styles young mothers might wear to playdates or on a Starbucks run. Mark and DeAnne Stidham say they founded it as a way for women to stay at home and still support their families. Unlike the old Tupperware party days, most of LuLaRoe’s “independent fashion consultants” sell on Facebook…. In the past year the company has faced more than a dozen lawsuits. The largest, a proposed class action, calls LuLaRoe a pyramid scheme focused on recruiting consultants and persuading them to buy inventory rather than actually selling clothing. Since the lawsuits were filed, consultants have fled LuLaRoe by the thousands. Many say the company owes them millions of dollars in promised refunds. Women have garages, closets, guest rooms—and, in one case, a farm shed—filled with LuLaRoe clothes they say they can’t sell.”

Infrastructure: “Unions look for jobs to go with their infrastructure investments []. “As they push for more infrastructure spending, some unions also are flexing their financial muscle to make a direct connection between union jobs and where $500 billion in union pension assets are being invested… All 14 building trades unions will insist that their pension funds are invested in a fiduciary manner that also provides work opportunities for members, [Sean McGarvey, North America’s Building Trades Unions president] said.”

Fodder for the Bulls: “May 2018 Economic Forecast: Improves Again” (this is Econintersect’s proprietary forecast) []. “Much of the forward looking coincident data is pointing to a static growth economy – this forecast is in opposition to this view. Even though not in our forecast, we remain concerned about the HISTORICALLY HIGH elevated spending to income ratios which paints a picture of a consumer spending all of its income – with little room for additional spending or ability to weather rainy days (or say hurricanes and earthquakes). Note that the quantitative analysis which builds our model of the economy does not include personal income or expenditures data sets. Another data point – the relationship between retail sales and employment marginally improved and is near negative territory. Historically, when this ratio is in negative territory it indicates a slowing economy. Note that neither employment nor retail sales are part of our economic model. Econintersect checks its forecast using several alternate monetary based methods – and the checked forecasts show economic growth. Our 6-month employment forecast indicates an improving trend line in the rate of employment growth.”

Honey for the Bears: “The new stock-market fear: Signs that a period of harmonious global growth is crumbling” []. “It was just three months ago that stock-market investors were being swept up by a euphoria pinned to the idea of economic expansion taking hold harmoniously across the globe—a dynamic that hadn’t occurred since the 1980s, and one that was expected to extend into 2018. However, less than midway through the year and some market participants are already spotting cracks in the notion of so-called synchronized global growth, with some fearing that a whiff of stagflation is starting to permeate. Stagflation is typically described as persistently high inflation and high unemployment, combined with weak economic demand.”

Rapture Index: Closes down 1 on earthquakes. “There has been no major quakes [sic] in recent days” []. Record high, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 181.

Gaia

“Can genes change the way languages evolve?” [] (). “What the study found is the kind of subtle genetic effect that would lead to tiny, non-discernible differences over the course of millennia. Think of it as just one more factor leading to outcomes like whether a language tends, in a very slow way, toward short, snappy sounds or relatively long ones. Indeed, any genetic influence on a given language will be far less apparent than the cultural factors that have normally been the subject of linguistics research. The effect of Roman conquest is obvious across dozens of languages. The evolution of metaphors is easy enough to track. But if this finding holds up, theories of linguistic evolution will have to be updated to include the original natural selector, genes.”

Our Famously Free Press

“When newsrooms fight their owners” []. “The Denver Post’s editorial board has made no secret of what it thinks about its hedge fund owners. ‘As vultures circle’ the newspaper ‘must be saved,’ the board wrote earlier this month. The Post had just been ordered to cut dozens of staff even though its parent company, Digital First Media, is profitable, according to the editorial. The board argued that the problem could be at Alden Global Capital, the New York-based hedge fund that owns most of Digital First and its dozens of newspapers. ‘Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom,’ the editorial board wrote. ‘If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.'”

Neoliberal Epidemics

“The Exide plant in Vernon closed 3 years ago. The vast majority of lead-contaminated properties remain uncleaned” []. “As part of a soil cleanup planned for thousands of properties surrounding the closed Exide Technologies battery recycling plant in Vernon, state regulators detected lead outside Perez’s home at hazardous levels — above 1,000 parts per million. Nearly two years later, it hasn’t been cleaned. Such predicaments are common across a swath of southeast L.A. County, according to data released last month by California regulators undertaking the largest such cleanup in state history.” Two, three, many Flints.

Class Warfare

“How success breeds success in the sciences []. “A small number of scientists stand at the top of their fields, commanding the lion’s share of research funding, awards, citations, and prestigious academic appointments. But are they better and smarter than their peers? Or is this a classic example of success breeding success—a phenomenon known as the ‘Matthew effect’?… The term “Matthew effect” was coined by sociologist Robert Merton in the 1960s to describe how eminent scientists get more recognition for their work than less-well-known researchers—the reference is to the New Testament parable that, to those who have, more will be given…. Previous attempts to study this phenomenon have yielded inconclusive results, in part because it is hard to prove that differences in achievement don’t reflect differences in work quality. To get around the quality question, De Vaan and his co-authors took advantage of special features of the main science funding organization in the Netherlands, IRIS, which awards grants based on a point system. Everyone whose application scores above the point threshold gets money, while everyone below is left out. The authors zeroed in on researchers who came in just above and just below the funding threshold, assuming that, for practical purposes, their applications were equal in quality. First off, they found the benefits of winning an early-career grant were enormous. Recent PhDs who scored just above the funding threshold later received more than twice as much research money as their counterparts who scored immediately below the threshold. The winners also had a 47 percent greater chance of eventually landing a full professorship. “Even though the differences between individuals were virtually zero, over time a giant gap in success became evident,” De Vaan notes. De Vaan says that two main mechanisms may explain the Matthew effect in science funding. First, winners achieve status that can tilt the playing field in their direction when it comes to funding, awards, and job opportunities. The second is participation, meaning that successful applicants continue seeking grant money, while unsuccessful applicants often give up, withdrawing from future competition.”

“There’s No Such Thing As ‘Suburbia'” []. “I realize there’s a question we should probably answer or at least discuss more often: what is ‘suburbia’? As the saying goes, know your enemy. There’s no one answer to that question. The original meaning of ‘suburb’ is mainly geographic—a suburb is a smaller, less densely populated settlement outside of a city. It can be a smaller city, a town, a residential outgrowth, or a sprawling ‘census-designated place.’ But there’s also the post-World War II definition of ‘suburb’ that refers to bedroom communities, commercial sprawl strips, and places like Levittown—suburbs in the geographic sense to be sure, but also ‘suburbia’ in the sense of an automobile-dependent development pattern distinct from towns and cities….. [T]here are different versions of suburbia, reflecting tweaks in zoning, economics, and time of construction. Midcentury suburbs that grew out of older pre-World War II settlements, like Massapequa Park, New York, or North Plainfield, New Jersey, are as different from the exurban fringes of Bozeman, Montana, or Leesburg, Virginia, as any of them are from true towns or rural countrysides. And perhaps the sprawling commercial wastelands that surround Interstate exits deserve their own special category.”

This is not “make work.”

Courtesy of the WPA ~1938

— Paul Knox #MedicareForAll (@popsknox)

Wish my town had one!

News of The Wired

“Facebook’s Internet.org has connected almost 100M to the ‘internet'” []. That people might identify Facebook’s crippled version of “the Internet” with the real Internet disgusts me.

“Civilization Is Built on Code” []. “The word ‘code’ derives from the Latin codex, meaning ‘a system of laws.’ Today ‘code’ is used in various distinct contexts—computer code, genetic code, cryptologic code (such as Morse code), ethical code, building code, and so forth—each of which has a common feature: They all contain instructions that describe a process. Computer code requires the action of a compiler, energy, and (usually) inputs in order to become a useful program. Genetic code requires expression through the selective action of enzymes to produce proteins or RNA, ultimately producing a unique phenotype. Cryptologic code requires decryption. Ethical codes, legal codes, and building codes all require processes of interpretation in order to be converted into action.”

“A Landslide of Classic Art Is About to Enter the Public Domain” [ (CL)]. “A Google spokesperson confirmed that Google Books stands ready. Its software is already set up so that on January 1 of each year, the material from 95 years earlier that’s currently digitized but only available for searching suddenly switches to full text.”

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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: (local to oakland):

local to oakland organized their recent trip to Japan around visits to gardens. What a lovely idea!

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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.

106 comments

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I am frankly baffled that “But ZOMG make-work!!!” is so often a rhetorical move against the JG, by UBI advocates and others. History tells us the JG doesn’t have to be make-work. Logic tells us it doesn’t. And yet the trope seems to have a firm grip…

      Adding, and if “make work” is better than Walmart, what’s not to like?

      Reply
      1. jsn

        The next trope is corruption, local JG can’t work because of corruption. As if the petty corruptions that may develop in local administration are somehow harder for the Feds to police than corpretulent epic of Citizens United whereby corruption has become more hallowed and protected than voting.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          I think that those critiques are warranted, given the current legitimacy crisis in western civ as a whole.
          right or wrong,ubi at least implies individual agency, while JG needs policy(congresscritter smirks) and direction(political class, en masse, guffaws) and some kind of leadership that folks trust, from top to bottom(do you trust the people who represent you?).
          of course, as many said on the other thread, why couldn’t we do both? ubi to make up for all the wealth stolen the last 40 years(throw in “reparations” for good measure), JG to(hopefully) break the bosses’ unfair advantage, also engineered in that time-frame.
          To do it right, as someone else said, will take huge grassroots commitment and visible ire.
          sounds rather Sisyphean, really

          Reply
      2. Rosario

        The UBI people employing the “make-work” rebuttal to JG are pretty selective at what they think is irrational. Look at any consumer economy for proof of irrationality run amok. Do we need to buy most of what we buy? Is there a corresponding “make-consume”? Do we need new phones every other year, Star Wars movies every 6 months, clothing every 3 months? I guess it’s not irrational if private enterprise is running the show.

        Just an ignorant take, but to me it seems like all UBI will do is enable the worst excesses of consumption while allowing capitalists to rake in even more easy cash all while the infrastructure around us crumbles and the climate continues giving us hell.

        Earth will give us plenty of not “make-work” to do in the coming 100 years+ while it adjusts to the extra heat trapping gasses we’ve efficiently contributed during the past 200 years. Hell, if we are stupid enough to keep pumping more and more greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere it may give us enough productive stuff to do indefinitely.

        Reply
        1. JTMcPhee

          Checked out the surface conditions and atmospheric constituents on the planet Venus?

          I doubt that the consumption and combustion here will go on “indefinitely…”

          Reply
          1. Rosario

            Yep, can’t argue with that.

            I guess in this case “indefinitely” just corresponds to the length of cultural memory, which by my armchair view seems to be paradoxically contracting the further society moves from oral tradition.

            So in our worst CO2 case we should have less than 100 years of available “productive” mediation activities. I would think much easier to implement politically [sarc] ;)

            Reply
        2. Spring Texan

          Thanks, Rosario. I like your points about consumption vs production very much, also about environmental possibilities. Plus, UBI will let the capitalists denigrate everyone where if a lot of useful work gets done that will get harder and harder, and, we will all enjoy the public benefit of useful work (as we still enjoy things the WPA did).

          Reply
          1. Rosario

            Thanks to you. I love how considerate NC’s readership is. The least stressful way to read about and comment on stressful things, as I see it.

            Reply
        3. John

          Why not both JG and UBI….what’s with the either/or garbage. The two modalities would provide choice based on life circumstances and inclinations. Work and the vagaries of the marketplace should not be the only means by which basic food, shelter and clothing are available. That is the basis of neoliberalism. Look where that has got us.
          On another note, my dad taught English to the workers who did the beautiful stone work and carpentry as part of the CCC on Virginia’s Skyline Drive during the 30’s. Much of it is in need of restoration and repair. A lot of good work was done with those programs…from worker education to building beautiful things. The Roosevelt political generation towers over the greedy, selfish, stunted dwarfs and trolls of today.

          Reply
          1. Rosario

            I’m in complete agreement. I’m always pushing for and/both solutions as well. UBI can and should be used where applicable. I think JG is a far more comprehensive solution that won’t simply reproduce the worst aspects of a capitalist economy (boom-bust, inequality, etc.).

            The problem is more that JG is under constant criticism from capitalists because it would require a little bit more from the government than a monthly dole, which has already been utilized at some scale in most Western countries. JG would (ideally) include regulation, legal protections and guarantees for labor (i.e. the working class). Things capitalists are afraid of. More than anything, capitalists want the power of labor curtailed, hence the pushing for UBI without JG in tandem. It removes the labor problem.

            From what I can tell, UBI gets okay support from the moderate left and some centrists, particularly in Europe. I can’t say the same for JG.

            Reply
      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        I always wondered what ZOMG meant. I was finally driven to look it up. I thought the Z just had to be for Zounds . . OMG. But the explanation says it has nothing to do with Zounds.

        Reply
    2. Whoa Molly

      Re: Jobs guarantee and website of

      We have working examples of guaranteed jobs already. Two that come to mind:

      – US Military takes unemployed people from boot camp to career on a regular basis. They successfully train people in many complex skills.
      – WPA. Everything from nursing, child care, writing books, photographic essays, and assembling historical documents to building things like power plants, bridges, and Hoover Dam.

      Then there are all the existing problems like rebuilding things like roads and bridges, moving cities away from rising seas. Not to mention wish list stuff like wiring the country for high speed Internet.

      The “make work” meme sounds to me like a failure of imagination or an attack on the idea.

      Reply
      1. dcblogger

        the greatest unspoken objection to the job guarantee is that it is the end of the volunteer army. that is one of its many benefits in my eye.

        Reply
        1. MK

          Opposite interpretation of “objection to the job guarantee is that it is the end of the volunteer army” = not volunteer

          The job guarantee is the Army. Or Navy. Or Air Force. Or Marines. Or Coast Guard. Or ICE. Or […]

          What the Empire needs …. the Empire gets (or crashes).

          Reply
      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Will the jobs available in the JG change from one administration to another?

        Will jobs under a conservative congress be drastically different from those available under a progressive congress, for example?

        Reply
        1. Grebo

          attempts to answer all such questions, there’s a FAQ at the end if you can’t stomach the full 67 pages.

          Congress would not be allocating the jobs, just the money. As envisaged… No doubt there will be attempts to screw it up as always.

          Reply
    3. Swamp Yankee

      Love the Living New Deal project. Very helpful in teaching the New Deal in my US History II courses at our local 2-year college.

      When people see, hey, that state park I love to fish in, that road I took to school today, that seawall that protects downtown — these are all New Deal projects — it has an effect.

      As for the ZOMG make-workers Lambert rightly takes to task below, I think this is what Antonio Gramsci would call hegemony — people cannot even think outside certain guidelines established by the omnipresent capitalist culture.

      One reason I love this place (Cfdtrade) is it provides a place outside that, a place, as Tennyson once put it, “to dream a newer world.”

      After all, as Tom Paine said, “we have it in our power to make the world anew.” The Revolution (American or French or Haitian or Russian) is unthinkable — until it’s not.

      Seems like we’re getting there on the jobs guarantee. Now if we could just get some indictments of banksters and war criminals pour encourager les autres…..

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        ” — people cannot even think outside certain guidelines established by the omnipresent capitalist culture.”

        Well said.

        Did you check out the FJG link provided above by Grebo?

        I can’t think of a better example of exactly your quote. 66 pages of math and statistics to make sure there is a program that fits 90% of the people, while ignoring the 10%.

        If only there was a way to combine FJG and UBI, we could have a sensible program?

        Reply
  1. Henry Moon Pie

    The article about the legacy pollution at the Exide plant around L.A. reminded me that “green technology” isn’t always so green.

    Nearly 40 years ago, my spouse and I built an adobe in the Sangre de Cristos. Since we were 3/4 of a mile from the powerline, we relied on PVs and an inverter for power. We had a freezer, fridge and washing machine in an adobe shed down by the road that did have power, and we employed propane at the house for a range and a small fridge. Hot water was solar. Lights, our Apple II+, TV and a satellite dish (in the days before signals were scrambled) relied on the PVs.

    How did we store our power for the nights and cloudy days? Exide deep cycle batteries.

    Reply
  2. Big River Bandido

    A fresh take on Brexit, as an for the British left. Is this thesis on point, or am I being a sucker for any argument that takes down predatory capitalism?

    Reply
    1. Dr. Robert

      I do think this is the underlying reason why Corbin did not whole-heartedly campaign against Brexit. He saw his faction in control of the Labour Party now, and governing a post-Brexit Britain would give him a lot more authority to reshape the economic landscape of the country. EU regulations and law is such an overbearing determinant of domestic policy in the EU that Neoliberals within the EU could quite effectively stymie any radical reforms put in place by a Labour government. Of course Corbin has every bit as much to fear from Neoliberals within his own party.

      Reply
  3. Sid Finster

    Anyone not a megadonor and yet stupit enough to donate a dime to the phoney Clinton Foundation deserves all the dunning that they get.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Anybody can make a mistake. I myself had great hopes for Obama when he came in after eight years of George Bush the Younger. I suppose some 40 years ago lots of people thought that Ronald Reagan would change America for the better.

      Reply
      1. Sid_finster

        As a candidate, Obama was something of a blank slate. Because of his lack of discernable track record, his romantic backstory and his avoidance of concrete policy statements, people felt free to imagine whatever they wanted to see in him (and in some cases whatever they didn’t.)

        By contrast, the Clintons have a long and storied track record, some forty years, of grifting and kissing up to money. Anyone who didn’t know this about the Clintons was being willfully blind.

        Or perhaps you are just kinder than I am.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Have you read this Barack Obama quote from his book “The Audacity of Hope”?

          “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

          In retrospect, he was telling people in advance what he was all about.

          Reply
          1. KevinD

            Having lived most of my life within the Chicagoland area, I was shocked to learn he was from Chicago – never had heard of him!! and Chicago s a very political town.

            Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Was it “dunning”? Or was it one of these arrangements whereby you tell the charity what your credit card number is and the charity automatically charges your credit card the monthly pledge amount you said you were pledging until the term of the pledge period ends?

      Because if it was that second thing, this story is really a caution against setting up a monthly automatic payment plan for paying a pledge to a charity. Better to send an analog ink-on-paper check for the whole amount at once.

      Reply
  4. allan

    [Syracuse.com]

    Juanita Perez Williams fell dangerously close Monday to losing her ballot spot in a Democratic primary for Congress after state election officials determined that 1,884 of her petition signatures are invalid.

    The preliminary ruling by the state Board of Elections leaves Perez Williams with 1,393 valid signatures on her nominating petitions. That’s only 143 more than the minimum of 1,250 needed to make it on the Democratic ballot.

    Local Democrats have been trying to force Perez Williams from the ballot to avoid a primary with their designated candidate, Dana Balter, in the 24th Congressional District. …

    Which calls for an

    Pro tip: If you’re collecting ballot petitions in NYS, make sure to tell people give the name of their town,
    not their mailing address. Who knew?

    Reply
    1. Big River Bandido

      Note: this is actually a good thing.

      Perez Williams is the failed mayoral candidate whom the DCCC has parachuted in to try and “save” the nomination from Balter, who is the candidate favored by local Democrats.

      Reply
  5. clinical wasteman

    Non/voting map is interesting, thanks.
    Not sure if the opposite is asserted quite so often with quite such apoplectic force in U.S., but definitely agree the nonvote NOHOW=”apathy”.
    Always voting on principle & never voting on principle could both be seen as closer to political apathy in that the “principle” involved is all about the conscience of the non/voter – i.e. what kind of person the decision shows her/him to be – rather than intervention on a tiny scale in a given historical situation. For almost all my “adult” life the options have been: vote for one of two or three parties/platforms that are explicitly hostile to you & your friends/family, vote “symbolically” for a conscience candidate, or don’t vote.
    Personally I’ve always chosen the third option in those cases, but have voted on the rare occasions where something real is at stake and plausibly winnable that way (which is not to say it always won).
    At the same time, never shocked by others’ preference for option 1 or 2 if those others knew what they were doing: opting for 1, 2 or 3 out of a narcissistic sense of personal duty seems worse than any of the same non/votes for lucid pragmatic reasons.

    Reply
    1. hemeantwell

      Interpreting nonvoting gets pretty Rorschachish. Fretful political scientists have often thought of low turnout as a good thing, indicating not so much apathy as satisfaction with life out there in the wilds of the market. Friend of the People Samuel Huntington put into theoretical terms the elite wish that the hoi polloi would express consent with silence. Reliance on “apathy” as a general interpretation is just shy of jumping on board with his ilk. It communicates to the reader that there’s no pool of discontent that might mirror their own. Why bother if no one else is bothered?

      Reply
    2. ambrit

      That map is interesting. I noticed that a big chunk of central Alabama, just east of where we live is solidly Democrat. That area is still referred to as the Black Belt, named after the soil no less, though the population there is heavily black dermatologically speaking as well.
      For Black Belt, see:
      How things change over time.

      Reply
    3. Eureka Springs

      apathy
      n.
      Lack of interest or concern, especially regarding matters of general importance or appeal; indifference.
      n.
      Lack of emotion or feeling; impassiveness.

      Seems like principle would have nothing to do with an apathetic non-voter. Unless it’s ones principle are – to not care, have no emotion in relation to matters of import. I didn’t vote last round. Although I walked into the polling station intending to do so, once I realized machines and only machine were the only option I decided on principle to not vote at all.

      Reply
    4. Kokuanani

      It appears that the entire states of Arizona, Hawaii, and I think Rhode Island voted for “no body.”

      Reply
  6. Chauncey Gardiner

    Appreciate the Electoral map that showed abstentions by US voters won the 2016 presidential election going away. Reflects comments by many acquaintances at that time. When coupled with the DNC’s actions in 2016 and Rep. Pelosi’s comments cited in the Update under “2018”, don’t know how either of our two great legacy political parties can claim that 2016 was a legitimate election. And that in turn raises questions about legitimacy of governance.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      Shocking to this slender Arizonan: Abstentions carried the state. And here I thought I lived in Trump Country.

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        The map seems to prove that the country is lying in wait, ready to “attack” when presented a real option between a or b.
        our overlords are doing their best to prevent this.
        tick tock
        from not so red east texas

        Reply
  7. Mihcael Hudson

    June 2 is the main day of Left Forum meeting up at Columbus Circle. So many regulars (myself, Michael Perelman and our gang) will be up there

    Reply
  8. Knifecatcher

    As it happens I’m acquainted with Levi Tillemann’s brother, who still uses the hyphenated surname Tillemann-Dick. It seems Levi dropped the last portion while campaigning, which I can’t say I blame him for.

    I have no point to this anecdote other than to point out the name of Tillemann’s improbably, stupendously named father:

    Timber Dick.

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      Thank heavens we have the internet now. I remember listening to corporate propaganda like this when I was younger and having no antidote.

      Speaking of antidote, one I’m particularly enjoying: Zone 23 by CJ Hopkins.

      Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Hopefully Bezos, either as a private citizen or in some official capacity, will never have control of any future JG program.

      More than anyone I can imagine, he’s likely to come up with jobs that will be hard to accept…unless you’re really desperate.

      Reply
    3. Matt

      “You want to come into the office and give everyone a kick in their step.”

      Many of his employees feel they’re being kicked somewhere else.

      Reply
    4. The Rev Kev

      Oh man, I just had the most wicked idea. Read what Bozo had to say and it was just as deluded as I thought that it would be so how about this. We convince Bezos to go on “Undercover Boss” and send him to one of his own warehouses. Put a stupid wig on him to hide his dome and maybe a cookie-duster as well. Have him wear tracker monitors with the bleeping when his movements are slow and throw him in the firing line. Can you imagine? Turn off the warehouse aircons as well for a few hours but tell him not to worry as there will be ambulances lined up outside for those who collapse due to heat exhaustion. It would be glorious!

      Reply
  9. djrichard

    But these measures are easily reversed and will not leave much of an imprint on the role of government in American life. Is this all there is?” [Jonathon Chait, New York Magazine]. If the Democrats actually wanted to govern…

    With apologies to

    I had a vision, of a world without a party for FDR-like governance. The GOP ground out a little bezzle and the dems tried to shut them down, one block at a time. And it was so… effective at letting global capitalism eat everyone’s lunch

    Reply
    1. Darius

      So many pathologies with Chait. This one is the smug and complacent Democrat. So much easier to think it’s all going to fall in your lap than standing for something and having to work for it. He and the other liberals are going to look pretty comical when they wake up in November having failed narrowly to take the House. Oh, and he also was Barack Obama’s semi-official hagiographer/apologist. Talk about smug. If anyone can screw this up, I have boundless confidence in Chait’s cohort to do it royally.

      Reply
  10. JTMcPhee

    Like the link on “New Food.” Too bad the “Soylent Corporation” name and logo are already taken, and protected by the laws of intellectual property. And they have quite a business model, now don’t they…

    Reply
    1. polecat

      How ’bout ‘Corpulent’ .. is that taken … ??

      Humm, take your pick ins … Corpulent Red, Corpulent Purple … or the most putrifying delicious .. Corpulent BlacknBlue !

      Yummmmie .. ‘food’ a T-Rex would slather over.

      Reply
  11. Arizona Slim

    Slim checking in from Tucson. Your Arizona teacher walkout update:

    Hardships abound –

    Widespread support –

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      This turned up on the WSWS website:

      I was informed by the other moderator on my Facebook group Strongholds that Facebook has been systematically blocking his sharing of links from the group as “spam.” Friday, they did the same with a link I posted there then attempted to share on my personal timeline. They first said it violated “community standards” then switched that to “spam.” Neither applied, and it was reposted in due course. However, they made the mistake of asking for back.

      One of the reasons my co-worker and I share many of the links is that it became clear they weren’t making it into the wild. The group has a very small membership, which is also odd given how often I post the link to it when people express frustration with the MSM. There was, early on, a rush of new “members” that all came from overseas and whose list of groups had nothing to show they had an interest in news and information. Since then—zip.

      I hate to say it, but the battle for hearts and minds now appears to be engaged in earnest.

      Reply
  12. Edward

    “Any reader ideas re place…”

    What about a room in a public library or at a college? Is this possible in New York?

    Reply
    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Columbia has a number of nice venues, including the student union, Earl Hall and Casa Italiana, but you’d need a student or faculty sponsor (I’m 32 years out of date, and on the wrong side of the world). Riverside Church also remains activist-friendly, although the indomitable William Sloane Coffin is long in heaven, alas.

      Reply
  13. JohnnyGL

    Joe Rogan with Abby Martin from Empire Files. Enjoyable interview, but I must say, Abby greatly disappointed me when she took a pass on defending Bernie’s JG proposal when Rogan mocked it.

    Rogan’s got 2.5M subscribers, that’s a huge missed opportunity to get a very different audience to listen to the idea.

    Can’t get too mad at her, she covers so many other tough topics that few do any kind of justice to.

    Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      Abby was a speaker at the Zday (Zeitegeist Day) event in Frankfurt this year.

      It’s likely that she supports doing something more like the Zeitgeist Movement and a resource based economy than trying to “fix” capitalism.

      Thanks for the vid link, I’ll for sure check it out.

      Reply
  14. PKMKII

    Real money line on the article on Dems losing their edge with Millennials (although I do wish the media would stop referring to teens as such; it’s a new generation ffs):

    A growing share of voters between ages 18 and 34 years old said they were undecided, would support a third-party candidate or not vote at all.

    It’s not that the youth are suddenly turning right-wing, they just increasingly realize that neither major party is offering anything of substance to them.

    Reply
    1. Massinissa

      Maybe the news media should turn the word ‘Millennial’ into a neologism that means ‘young people’.

      That way they can recycle years old articles about how dumb they think young people are without having to bother with changing the name of the generation!

      Reply
      1. jrs

        Since generations don’t actually have set time frames and some were set to span vast ranges of time like boomers and others like Gen X only a much smaller time frame it doesn’t matter much anyway.

        Reply
  15. blennylips

    Nate Hagens (themonkeytrap.us) has a new video lecture out.

    Previously the lead editor of The Oil Drum, he currently teaches an honors seminar at the University of Minnesota “Reality 101 – A Survey of the Human Predicament“.

    The Land Institute and Kansas Wesleyan University Present an Evening with Nate Hagens

    Contrasts and Continuums of the Human Predicament-Earth Day 2018

    Nate has kind of a standard set of talks, but this is the first time he has given this one. He concentrates on what he calls “40 Key Continuums” that we must make choices along.

    I could not find a transcript, but was very interested to note down the items, grouped under five different subjects:

    Economy

    Energy vs Everything else
    Flows vs Stocks
    Stocks vs Abstractions
    Gross vs Net
    Joules vs Work
    Economy vs Economics

    Behavior

    Human vs Animal
    Proximate vs Ultimate
    Beliefs vs Facts
    Supernormal vs Normal
    Relative vs Absolute
    Wants vs Haves
    Us vs Them
    Genes vs Culture

    Environment

    Internal vs External
    Treasure vs Riches
    Civilisation vs Community
    Seen vs Unseen

    Culture

    Game vs Plan
    Narrow vs Wide
    Finance vs Ecology
    Unlimited vs Limits
    Dollars vs Humanities
    War vs Peace
    Population vs Consumption
    Intelligence vs Wisdom
    Trivia vs Relevance
    Popular vs Realistic
    Should vs Will
    Left vs Right
    Economy vs Environment
    Rights vs Right
    Good vs Evil

    Individual

    Certainty vs Probability
    Less vs More
    Thinking vs Doing
    Consumption vs Meaning
    Self vs Community
    Crazy vs Sane
    Hope vs Despair

    Lots of food for thought.

    Reply
    1. Kevin Carhart

      I’m getting “broken video” messages from YT at that link, but I did find the video by typing the title “Contrasts and Continuums of the Human Predicament-Earth Day 2018” into startpage/ixquick.

      Reply
  16. sleepy

    Looks like Iowa may have a real choice in this year’s governor’s race. Cathy Glasson, an ICU nurse and president of SEIU Local 199, is running in the dem primary.

    She supports Medicare for all and a state level universal single payer healthcare system; a $15 minimum wage; a repeal of Iowa’s right to work law, along with a repeal of Iowa’s recently enacted law which eviscerated public sector unions.

    Her main dem opponent appears to be Andy McGuire, formerly the state dem party chair, a former executive for Wellmark, and a former president of Meridian of Iowa, a company that became the face of Iowa’s newly “privatized” medicaid system.

    After the dem primary comes the general election against repub Gov. Kim Reynolds.

    Wishful thinking perhaps, but here’s hoping for a win for Glasson in the primary and the general.

    Reply
    1. JohnnyGL

      Nice! I’ve suspected the midwest/great plains is ripe for some old-style populism, since that’s where it originated in the late 1800s.

      There’s a large core of comfortable centrist dems in states like MA, NY, and CT. Centrist Dems seem to be the most difficult obstacle we face.

      Reply
      1. sleepy

        On healthcare her motto is “Everybody in, nobody out, Iowa will lead the way”

        I am not a native Iowan. Having moved up here from the deep South years ago it’s clear as day that the bipartisan consensus that Trump voters are drooling neandertals is nonsense, at least in Iowa. My county voted a democrat for president in every single election beginning in 1984 when it went for Mondale. In 2016 it went for Trump imho because the dems offered no alternative to the miserable status quo. Sanders easily won the county caucuses over Hillary. Folks up here–and I am 20 miles from the Minnesota border and 100 miles west of Wisconsin–will vote for someone who honestly represents the voters’ economic interests. No glam, celebrity driven campaigns for us. Just the facts, please.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Believe it or not, a few of us Trump voters are bitter Berners. Here in Michigan ( one of the Brexit States) there were some people who decided that if the Democrats would not let us have our Sanders, that we would not let them have their Clinton. And we wouldn’t and they didn’t.

          Revenge! Revenge!
          Revenge for NAFTA!
          Revenge for MFN status for China!
          Revenge for the WTO and America’s membership therein!
          Revenge.

          And let every Clintobamazoid reading this comment remember the old saying . .
          Revenge is a dish best served over and over and over again.

          Reply
          1. jrs

            served to who again though? The native american’s losing all access to healthcare? All of us as we imbibe more poison as Trump takes aim at every environmental reg out there? And how do those affected by that get revenge against the Trump admin for that? Because it’s certainly sensible to want it. Trump is just a disaster and not really one with a happy ending either.

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              At this point, the point is nihilism. Burn the whole thing down and then worry about the rest.
              To be blunt about it; if everyone can’t have good things, then no one will.

              Reply
                1. ambrit

                  I haven’t seen those films. I wonder if there is a compendium somewhere that tracks the balance of optimism and pessimism in “popular entertainment” through the years? I’d be interested to see if such a ‘trend’ was a lagging or leading indicator.

                  Reply
            2. drumlin woodchuckles

              That bill of particulars should be charged to the Clintonite Democrat party and the media it colluded with to get Trump nominated as the “weakest opponent” under the “Pied Piper” concept.

              What to do about the Trump poison and so forth? Exterminate the [email protected] Party from the face of the earth so as to create a political space for growing a real Lower Class Party or a Real Democrat Party or some other legitimate party into. And then use that party as an electoral weapon for conquering the government with. And then use the conquered government to restore the things the Trumpies and the Clinties and the Obies have broken and degraded. But this time keep them restored by means of a legitimate political party movement working to keep those things restored by crushing the enemies of those things.

              In the meantime . . . I want the whole loaf. NOW. Or no bread for anyone.

              Reply
  17. drumlin woodchuckles

    About Pelosi: Pelosi is a perfect expression of everything her San Francisco district stands for. That is why she will keep getting re-re-re-elected by huge majorities until she decides to retire or die in office.

    The Pelosi-district San Friscopoids are her kind of people. And she is their kind of Representative.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Aren’t the Pod People from the book and the first two film versions of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” from some part of central California? No wonder she looks so wooden. She really is a plant based life form.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        “No wonder she looks so wooden.”
        Yeah .. the woody ‘desicated’ human parts .. just before they disintegrate into dust after replication via prolonged legislative ‘sleep’.
        … then comes the screamin !

        Reply
    2. JBird

      I didn’t realize just how safe her district is. It is all in uber-Liberal San Francisco. I think it was created when she was the House Speaker and it’s perfect for her.

      The woman and her husband are supposed to live in Pacific Heights; it’s about as far away from the former working port, warehouses, factories, and working class neighborhoods that the city used to have as you can get while still living in a residential area. The views of the Golden Gate from there are fantastic.

      I don’t think that Pelosi is necessarily evil. I do think that having lived in the upper crust, socially and financially, away from any taint of working class or even the bohemian and bounced between San Francisco to the Beltway has warped her views. She has spent so much of her life moving among the proper people saying and thinking proper things while making those behind-the-scenes deals that she can’t understand just how screwy she, her class, and her fellow politicians are.

      Reply
    3. Katsue

      Her line about “I don’t know…” is so disingenuous. She’s been a legislator for 3 decades and she doesn’t know that only one party to a conversation needs to consent to the conversation being recorded? Give me a break.

      Reply
  18. Kurtismayfield

    Copyright expiration article from the Atlantic.

    After reading this article, I realize that copyright rules are so convoluted that you need to be a lawyer. It’s 95 years, unless they apply for an extension. And no one can prove that works didn’t apply for an extension. Libraries have special rules, and so does educational use.

    And let us not forget Steamboat Willy

    The Sonny Bono Act was widely seen as a way to keep Disney’s Steamboat Willie from slipping into the public domain, which would allow that first appearance of Mickey Mouse in 1928 from being freely copied and distributed. By tweaking the law, Mickey got another 20-year reprieve. When that expires, Steamboat Willie can be given away, sold, remixed, turned pornographic, or anything else. (Mickey himself doesn’t lose protection as such, but his graphic al appearance, his dialog, and any specific behavior in Steamboat Willie—his character traits—become likewise freely available…

    Unless of course NAFTA 2.0 .

    Canada’s own preferred starting point for negotiation over IP is the original NAFTA, augmented by some newer instruments that Canada has subsequently signed and ratified such as the WIPO Internet Treaties, and its trade agreement with the EU, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Although there are still elements of those agreements that we are unhappy with, some of which were also part of TPP (notably CETA’s criminalization of camcording in movie theatres), Canada’s approach would avoid some of the TPP’s biggest flaws such as the extension of the copyright term by 20 years.

    Good luck Canada.. you are going to need it. You are going against Hollywood.

    Reply
    1. Spring Texan

      After a limited term, intellectual property is theft, pure and simple. Most ridiculous laws on the planet. 95 years???? Horrible.

      If those folks had their way the descendents of Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci would now be wealthy on that basis.

      Reply
  19. Electron Smasher

    France seizes France.com from man who’s had it since ‘94 []

    Although it doesn’t serve a legal precedent since the registrar (Web.com) proactively transferred the domain to the French government, it’s ridiculous that foreign governments can waltz in where they hold no sway and take whatever they please while companies entrusted with their customers’ legal property give it away on a silver platter. I’m surprised Web.com hasn’t broken a law or two in doing this.

    Reply
  20. The Rev Kev

    “The new food: meet the startups racing to reinvent the meal”

    Promising idea that though I can see that real meat would be reserved for our betters. I hope that it is not simply a case of American cuisine at work-

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I see nothing promising about it at all. All it means is that more Brazilian rainforest will be cut down to grow more soybeans to make more Beyond Burgers or whatever those things will be called.

      Reply
  21. kareninca

    I just talked with my father; he just watched a news clip of Blumenthal talking to an auditorium-full of students in Norwich, CT. He’d come to talk about some school funding program or the like. But the students actually wanted to find out what was being done to keep them safe from school shooters. But Blumenthal did not want to talk about that, and kept changing the topic back to his funding program (since he had done nothing on the shooting issue, and was going to do nothing). My dad said that the students seemed stunned that he would not address the topic that mattered so much to them.
    He said that the kids in the audience ended up with looks of despair on their faces. He said that he figures they got a good lesson in being used and dumped, and learned helplessness (he’s a retired psych prof).

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      How many years till they are old enough to vote and vote their vengeance against Blumenthal? It may not be helplessness which they learn.

      Reply
  22. The Rev Kev

    “The Infiltrator and the Movement”

    Very disturbing reading on how any organization can be infiltrated. Feel sorry for all those women that were in relationships like Lisa Jones who discovered that their partners were actually cops. (Same happened in East Germany when all those Stasi files got released which resulted in a lot of personal damage when it was revealed who was an informant). Some women even had children by these men.
    Without these infiltrators, these women would probably have gone on to meet people that they could perhaps marry and have children with. But now all those years have been wasted through these bogus relationships and they can never get them back. Who would those women sue for child support then. The police infiltrators or the Met? And just what will they tell those children about their fathers when they grow up?

    Reply
  23. Oregoncharles

    ” “GNAW BONE, Ind. — Drunken driving, self-dealing and false advertising.” Best byline ever. ”
    This is really just local color, but there really is a Gnaw Bone, Indiana. It’s very familiar, because it’s on the way from Columbus to Bloomington, where IU is, or Brown County Park, quite close to Gnaw Bone. Brown County is hillbilly country – some of my siblings could imitate the distinctive accent. There is also a Beanblossom; the tourist center is Nashville, which used to have the Little Ole Opry country-music palace. Gnaw Bone had, and I believe still has, a horse-driven sorghum mill – which presses sorghum like sugar cane to make a very tasty molasses. Hillbillies are big business in Brown County. Which may explain a lot about Indiana and is the reason the article was bylined from there.

    Bloomington, OTOH, is a sophisticated university town, and Columbus, where Cummins Engine Co. is located, is a nearly as sophisticated factory town, famous for its architecture. Very international, with a couple of good Japanese restaurants. But it’s surrounded with farm country; that’s the pattern in Indiana: farm towns with one or two industrial plants. And southern Indiana, where Gnaw Bone and the others are, is remarkably southern, complete with accent. The Klan was very powerful there in the 1920s, and still held marches in the 70s.

    The hills are beautiful, though, especially in the fall; in winter, the white bark of the sycamores makes splashes through the bare hardwood forest. Really lousy climate, though.

    Reply
  24. Oregoncharles

    Did anyone else note that the MI6 headquarters in London looks like a Mayan temple? A classic example of “brutalist” architecture.

    Reply
  25. Kevin Carhart

    Whoopee! California Supreme Court adopts tougher test for independent contractor status in Dynamex decision, overturning the test that has been in place since 1989!

    PDF of decision here:

    Reply
    1. Anon

      This is great news for California workers. Not only did they adopt the pro-worker ABC test, they adopted the strongest version of it, the Massachusetts version. The anti-worker Grubhub decision from a few months ago (and now on appeal to the 9th Circuit) is certain to be overturned when this new standard is applied; the 3 prongs of the ABC test are components of the Borello test applied in Grubhub, and Grubhub failed prongs B and C miserably.

      The Borello test was fuzzy enough that lawyers could spend all the time in the world arguing about how it should apply to operations like Grubhub, Uber, Lyft, Postmates, etc. The ABC test is not; all of those companies unquestionably and unambiguously fail prongs B and C of the test (and possibly prong A, control, but that’s where things get fuzzy). California Uber, etc. drivers can now say with 100% certainty they are employees.

      Reply
  26. habenicht

    I thought this posted last night, but I think there was a hiccup.

    Maybe this location could work for your NYC visit. I have found it pretty roomy the times I have gone (not sure how hard it is to reserve space though)

    Reply
  27. brumel

    Would it occur to anyone that the expression “the original natural selector, genes” is utterly devoid of any meaning? How would genes select themselves? Or is it insinuated that genes select phenotypes, which is even more ridiculous? Where, when you need him, is a Dawkins to write “The Babbling Gene”?

    Reply

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