2:00PM Water Cooler 5/31/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Trade

“U.S. hits EU, Canada and Mexico with steel, aluminum tariffs” []. “U.S Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told reporters on a telephone briefing that a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada and Mexico would go into effect at midnight. ‘We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand, and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,’ he said. Ross offered little detail about what the EU, Canada and Mexico could do to have the tariffs lifted.”

Politics

2020

“Democrats gear up for 2020 — and Bernie Sanders still leads the pack” []. “In the wake of Hillary Clinton’s agonizing defeat, many Democratic voters will be eager for a female candidate, which could make both Harris and Gillibrand major contenders. Both have worked to shed their more moderate images and have moved toward the party’s progressive wing on a whole range of issues.” “Images.” More: “Sanders has one factor working for him that none of his prospective alternatives can claim. He has managed to marshal a loyal army of progressive activists who stand for principles of social and economic justice that had seemingly been abandoned by the Democratic Party since the Bill Clinton years. Many of Sanders’ followers will support no one else — unless and until he tells [asks!] them too. That alone will make Sanders a formidable opponent for any and all Democrats who are considering taking him on.”

2018

“Democrats struggle with midterm message on impeachment” []. They’ve been yammering about it daily for two years. How can they have done that and failed to develop a clear message? (The article has all sorts of weird confusions about the left and the base, too. So far as I know, the left is clamoring for policy issues like #MedicareForAll, from which — follow me closely here — Russia! Russia! Russia! is a distraction.

“Warren on Trump impeachment: ‘I’m not there’ yet” []. “‘I take this very seriously. This is a serious constitutional move. My view on this is, protect the special prosecutor, let him finish his work without political interference,’ said the senator. ‘Let him make a full report to the American people and then collectively we can make the decision about what the appropriate next step is.'”

“What If 2006 Model Isn’t Enough for Democrats?” [Sean Trende, ]. Good summary of 2006 events: Failed Social Security privatization, the Iraq debacle, Katrina, culminating in the Republican loss of the House and the Senate. I remember live-blogging it, soon after I moved to Maine: I broke out a bottle of champagne, fool that I was. Fast forward: “So why might this model not be enough for Democrats? There are three reasons. First, at least for now, Republicans are polling considerably better than they were in 2006. Second, 2006 can’t be analyzed without acknowledging that it involved a number of [very entertaining] fluke-ish victories for Democrats… [I]if one doesn’t count the six “clear” flukes, the Democrats’ actual gain was 24 seats, which would barely be enough for them to win the House today….. Finally, there is the issue of exposure. Put simply, if a party enters an unfavorable election environment holding a large number of seats that are dispositionally inclined toward the other party, they will probably suffer worse losses… Republicans are much less exposed than Democrats were in 2010 or 1994, and are probably less exposed than they were in 2006.”

NY-14: This is a very good ad:

It's time for a New York that works for all of us.

On June 26th, we can make it happen – but only if we have the .

It's time to get to work. Please retweet this video and sign up to knock doors + more at to bring our movement to Congress.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018)

NJ-02: “The NJ-2 Stockton townhall: Single-payer healthcare and campaign finance” []. “During the town hall, and audience member asked if [Will Cunningham] supported single-payer healthcare. Cunningham talked about how the Affordable Care Act must be improved and that ‘everyone deserves access to healthcare.’ I followed up afterwards (before the subject of donations), asking him specifically whether or not he supports single-payer healthcare. He repeated his answer regarding access. When I pushed him to clarify whether or not he supports single-payer, he responded, ‘That is my stance.'” Ha ha. He’s weaseling, knows it, and shows it…. [Sean Thom] strongly supports single-payer healthcare…. [Tanzie Youngblood] Youngblood does believe strongly in single-payer healthcare.” This is a good report on a district town hall. We need so much more of it; or, perhaps, we need to be able to search for it.

“Chuck Schumer Is Not Cutting It” []. Massive takedown.

2016 Post Mortem

“How Trump’s Election Shook Obama: ‘What if We Were Wrong?'” []. “Riding in a motorcade in Lima, Peru, shortly after the 2016 election, President Barack Obama was struggling to understand Donald J. Trump’s victory. ‘What if we were wrong?’ he asked aides riding with him in the armored presidential limousine. He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind. ‘Maybe we pushed too far,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe’ [, deplorables clinging to their guns and religion]. His aides reassured him that he still would have won had he been able to run for another term and that the next generation had more in common with him than with Mr. Trump. Mr. Obama, the first black man elected president, did not seem convinced. ‘Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,’ he said.” That’s not what I wonder. Is it what you wonder?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“The Polls Are All Right” [Nate Silver, ]. “The average error in all polls conducted in the late stage of campaigns since 1998 is about 6 percentage points…. This means that you shouldn’t be surprised when a candidate who had been trailing in the polls by only a few points wins a race…. Polling the primaries is hard — the average polling error in all presidential primaries since 2000 is 8.7 percentage points. But primary polls aren’t usually as bad as they were in 2016. Because voting in general elections operates along increasingly predictable demographic lines, pollsters can use demographic weighting to make up for other problems in their samples. They don’t always have that luxury in the primaries, where demographic coalitions are more fluid and turnout is more difficult to model. Polling in the 2020 primaries could be a pretty wild ride.”

“Polling Is Still Working, According to Nate Silver” []. “In the end it’s smart to pay more attention to the aggregate polling averages (most notably those maintained by FiveThirtyEight and RealClearPolitics) than to any one or two or three individual polls, and to avoid the temptation to hype polls showing one’s own ‘team’ doing well while filtering out adverse findings — particularly if ‘your’ poll is conducted by a firm with a poor reputation and ‘their’ poll is gold.”

Stats Watch

Personal Income and Outlays, April 2018: “Income isn’t quite as soft and spending isn’t quite as strong as they look while inflation readings are modest and steady” []. “[G]as-driven or not, the rise in spending marks a strong opening for second-quarter consumer spending and, together with yesterday’s big improvement in April goods trade, are both early indications of strength for second-quarter GDP. More fundamentally, concerns in yesterday’s Beige Book that consumer spending was moderating look perhaps unwarranted and that steady growth, backed by respectable income, is now the more accurate description. For inflation, no alarms in this report with the overall rate holding on target for a second straight month but room still left to run for the core in its awaited approach to the Fed’s 2 percent line.” 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 this month were relatively small” []. And: “The increase in personal income was at expectations, and the increase in PCE was above expectations” [].

Pending Home Sales Index, April 2018: “The resale market can’t get going with today’s 1.3 percent decline in pending sales, which is far below Econoday’s low estimate, pointing to the risk of an outright downturn” []. “The results of this report are especially important as they offer an advance indication at the beginning of the Spring selling season, one that, based on all the data including this report, is not off to a strong start. Lack of homes for sale and rising mortgage rates are not positives for the housing market, apparently offsetting strength in the labor market.” And: “The National Association of Realtors (NAR) seasonally adjusted pending home sales index improved. Our analysis says pending home sales is in contraction year-over-year” []. “The rolling averages remain in negative territory. The data is very noisy and must be averaged to make sense of the situation. There is no signs of a surge in home sales, although the trends continue to be generally downward despite this month’s acceleration.” And: “This was well below expectations of a 0.7% increase for this index. Note: Contract signings usually lead sales by about 45 to 60 days, so this would usually be for closed sales in May and June” [].

Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, May 2018: “New orders, which had been slowing, are re-accelerating with backlog orders likewise rebounding. Production picked up in the month as did employment which, however, continues to be held back by lack of available labor” []. “All the small-sample indications for May, including this one, have been strong and point to a solid month of growth for the economy.”

Challenger Job-Cut Report, May 2018: “Pointing to strength for Friday’s employment report, layoff announcements were especially low in May” [].

Jobless Claims, week of May 26, 2018: “Jobless claims remain steady at very low levels and are consistent with very strong demand for labor” []. “All the readings in this report are at historic lows.”

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of May 27, 2018: “Unchanged” []. “Consumer confidence measures, supported by the strong labor market, remain very solid.”

Banks: “Judge approves a $142-million settlement over the Wells Fargo accounts scandal, calling it ‘rough justice” []. Wells Fargo might as well have reached into its depositors pockets and stolen their money. “Rough justice” isn’t nearly as rough as the sheets in jail, which is where Wells Fargo executives should be.

Banks: “Big Banks to Get a Break From Limits on Risky Trading” []. “Under the changes outlined Wednesday, banks will no longer have to offer proof for each specific trade and would instead have to enact strict internal controls and compliance programs to ensure they are meeting the requirements of the Volcker Rule. The change would allow banks to more freely engage in hedging, in which they execute trades in an effort to counteract risk in other parts of their businesses.” No problem there!

The Bezzle: “Uber in ‘discussions’ to get Waymo self-driving cars on its network” []. “Speaking today at the Code Conference, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi says that his company is in ‘discussions’ to have Waymo self-driving cars added to its network. It’s probably too early to think that these talks are definitely going anywhere yet, but it’s nevertheless notable because we’re less that four months past the resolution of a bitter legal fight between the two companies over alleged trade-secret theft. ‘I’d welcome Waymo to put cars in our network,’ he says.”

The Bezzle: “Tesla Model 3 Gets CR Recommendation After Braking Update” []. “Consumer Reports now recommends the Tesla Model 3, after our testers found that a recent over-the-air (OTA) update improved the car’s braking distance by almost 20 feet…. Until now, that type of remote improvement to a car’s basic functionality had been unheard of. ‘I’ve been at CR for 19 years and tested more than 1,000 cars,’ says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, ‘and I’ve never seen a car that could improve its track performance with an over-the-air update.'” “Unheard of.” CR gushing? Odd.

The Bezzle: “SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION, Plaintiff, vs. TITANIUM BLOCKCHAIN INFRASTRUCTURE SERVICES, INC.; EHI INTERNETWORK AND

SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT, INC. aka EHI-INSM, INC.; and MICHAEL ALAN STOLLERY aka MICHAEL STOLLAIRE, Defendants” (PDF) []. The SEC doesn’t seem happy:

This new SEC ICO lawsuit hits all of the major ICO fraud highlights.

— Palley (@stephendpalley)

Tech: “Jeff Bezos Announces Customers Can Delete All Of Alexa’s Stored Audio By Rappelling Into Amazon HQ, Navigating Laser Field, Uploading Nanovirus To Servers” []. “Bezos added that once customers complete this process, they will still need to erase the backup copies of their Echo data stored in the drive he wears around his neck.”

Tech: ‘Microsoft is creating an oracle for catching biased AI algorithms” [ (JB)]. “Microsoft is building a tool to automatically identify bias in a range of different AI algorithms. It is the boldest effort yet to automate the detection of unfairness that may creep into machine learning—and it could help businesses make use of AI without inadvertently discriminating against certain people. Big tech companies are racing to sell off-the-shelf machine-learning technology that can be accessed via the cloud. As more customers make use of these algorithms to automate important judgements and decisions, the issue of bias will become crucial. And since bias can easily creep into machine-learning models, ways to automate the detection of unfairness could become a valuable part of the AI toolkit.” “Racing” is one of those words to watch for…

Tech: “ForwardX raises $10 million for AI-powered luggage that follows you” []. “ForwardX intends to focus initially on luggage, but the company is also exploring the creation of mobility machines for last-mile deliveries, like the kind Marble uses for restaurant deliveries and Starship Technologies uses on corporate and university campuses. ForwardX is also in talks with ecommerce companies like JD.com and DHL to make robots capable of carrying 100 kilograms and following factory workers, [ForwardX COO Yaxin Guan] said.” And I’m sure other applications can be imagined…

Five Horsemen: “As is their wont, Seattle sluggers Amazon and Microsoft are at fresh record highs in late morning trade” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen May 31 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s market bounce lifted the mania-panic index from worry to complacency (54), as VIX, the put-call ratio and new 52-week lows all dropped on the pop” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood]. (The NakedCap mania-panic index is an equally-weighted average of seven technical indicators derived from stock indexes, volatility (VIX), Treasuries, junk bonds, equity options, and internal measures of new highs vs new lows and up volume vs down volume … each converted to a scale of 0 to 100 before averaging, using thirty years of history for five of the seven series.)

Mania panic index May 30 2018

Health Care

“Medicare Advantage vs. Medicare for All” []. “While Medicare Advantage is not an efficient or an equitable means of offering care to senior and disabled Americans, it’s important to look into some of the benefits that satisfied patients (who tend to be healthy) are grateful for. All of these benefits would be offered (and enhanced) through a national health insurance system like National Improved Medicare for All (NIMA). NIMA would eliminate copays, narrow networks and provide long-term care, bringing both sick and healthy Americans into the same risk pool while extending that pool to include everyone. There is a growing consensus that Medicare Advantage, while masqueraded as offering better choices to patients about the type of care they receive, doesn’t extend those choices to sicker enrollees.”

“Virginia poised to expand Medicaid” [], “The Wednesday vote on a budget that included Medicaid expansion took place after two key Republicans in the House and Senate agreed on a plan that includes a work requirement and mandates that enrollees above the federal poverty line must pay more out of pocket for care. The proposal, which was approved on a 23-17 vote, relies on provider taxes to cover Virginia’s expansion costs. The vote came after months of Republican party infighting following an electoral shellacking that revealed the state’s leftward shift.” A leftware shift that produces a deal like that isn’t much of a shift and isn’t in a leftward direction. I seem to recall quite recently a ginormous amount of liberal Democrat yammering about work requirements in a Michigan Medicaid reform (which thankfully did not pass). Won’t it be great when work requirements are the new baseline?

Water

Puerto Rico, Flint….

Yesterday we passed out 135,000 bottles of water to Flint residents in 93 degree heat. We helped close to 1,000 families. People lined up 2 hours early and caused a traffic jam most of the distribution.

— Mari Copeny (@LittleMissFlint)

“‘America’s dirty little secret’: the Texas town that has been without running water for decades” []. From 2017, still germane: “Sandbranch is a small, poor, largely African American community just outside Dallas but its residents have to rely on charitable donations of bottled water.” Sandbranch hasn’t had running water for 30 years, so you can see we’re just getting started with Flint. And Puerto Rico.

“The water war that will decide the fate of 1 in 8 Americans” []. “‘We must all find a way to collectively use less water while respecting the Law of the River,’ [Kathryn Sorensen, director of Phoenix’s Water Services Department] says. ‘That’s of course a tricky proposition because the Law of the River is basically the most complex governance structure ever created by human beings.'”

Class Warfare

News of The Wired

“Depression: the radical theory linking it to inflammation” []. “In particular, the blood–brain barrier turned out to be less impenetrable than assumed. A range of research showed that proteins in the body could reach the brain. These included inflammatory proteins called cytokines that were churned out in times of infection by immune cells called macrophages. Bullmore pulls together evidence that this echo of inflammation in the brain can be linked to depression. That, he argues, should inspire pharmaceutical companies to return to psychiatry.”

“Facebook of the dead” [Mark Dery, ]. This is fun:

[T]he sludge-brained anomie of stoner noir is just what it looks like: the rudderless yawing of youth culture on the morning after the ‘60s. It’s the numb realization that the tide that carried in the counterculture’s utopian dreams and cries for social justice has ebbed away, leaving the windblown scum of Altamont and My Lai, the Manson murders and the Zodiac Killer. Stoner noir stares back at you with the awful emptiness of the black-hole eyes in a Smiley Face. Have a Nice Decade. As late as the mid-‘70s, the iconography of rebellion®, at least in the tract-home badlands of Southern California, was a politically lobotomized version of hippie: the bootleg records, blacklight posters, underground comix, patchouli oil, and drug paraphernalia retailed at the local head shop.

But stoner noir isn’t just the burned-out roach of ‘60s youth culture. It’s equally the toxic mental runoff of suburban sprawl: dirthead existentialism. It’s the psychological miasma that hung, like the sweetly rotten reek of Thai stick, over adolescent psyches battered by divorce, lives dead-ended in high school, torpid afternoons bubbled away in a Journey to the Bottom of the Bong. Stoner noir is the default mindset of teenage wasteland: life seen through a glass pipe, darkly.

A helpful suggestion:

don’t grow a thick skin, grow an iridescent soft membrane that is deadly poisonous to the touch

— evil maid (@lenazun)

* * *

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 (Samuel Conner):

Samuel Conner writes:

I apologize for the non-ideal aspect ratio; this bed abuts a property line and I wasn’t sure how the neighbor would feel about their home showing up in the photo, and there is something disagreeable on the other side; the cropping left it in this tall narrow shape.

Here’s a little commentary:

Nurture green in stem and leaf. This bed in front of the Rhododendron was designed and installed by my master gardener sister and inadequately maintained by me over years. Nevertheless it seems to have thrived. From bottom to top: (at right) Creeping Thyme (var. “Magic Carpet”), Stella D’Oro Daylily and, at right, some Obedient Plant (more of which is present but not yet prominent throughout this bed), Daffodils with spent blooms at left and Iris in bloom. Discernible in the middle are the frond-like leaves of one of my nemeses, Chrysanthemum Weed (which, judging from where it first appeared, hitchhiked with the daylilies). Those need to come out but are very hard to reach now without damaging desirables. This bed has been in place for more than a decade and has thickened nicely; probably the irises and daylilies are overdue for thinning and replanting.. The Obedient Plant, belying its name, is invading the neighbor’s lawn, but only slowly. I think of it as a reasonably obedient plant.

It is never in bloom all at once; perhaps is at its nicest in the Autumn when the Obedient Plant (which is throughout the bed, though that is not obvious in this photo) is tall and in bloom; then the bed is thick with bees attracted to the thousands of Obedient Plant blossoms.

One of my gaals as a gardener, besides avoiding work, is simply to sit and work in the middle of it. The bed, when it’s “thick with bees,” sounds ideal for that purpose.

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive back both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click the hat!


To give more, click on the arrow heads to the right of the amount.

Donate

If you hate PayPal — even though you can use a credit card or debit card on PayPal — you can email me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, and I will give you directions on how to send a check.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Guest Post, Water Cooler on by .

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.

155 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    Rate hikes (which I dyslexically invert to “hate rikes”) are good for you, says Fed head no-Brainard:

    Fed Governor Lael Brainard, long considered a dovish member of the central bank’s policy committee, on Thursday embraced a more hawkish policy stance.

    In a speech to the Forecasters Club in New York, Brainard backed gradual rate hikes that she said would eventually move into moderately restrictive territory. Brainard said the Trump tax cut and higher federal spending is going to reinforce above-trend growth.

    “This outlook suggests a policy path that moves gradually from modestly accommodative today to neutral — and, after some time, modestly above neutral,” Brainard said.

    Making rates restrictive might be okay, were the Fed not simultaneously deploying a crackpot bond-dumping program which has zero theoretical basis to justify or guide it.

    The accompanying photo in the article is quite disturbing. Brainard looks like James Clapper in a blonde wig, munching a fat wad of angel dust-infused chewing tobacco as her eyes flash madness and dollar signs and bad-tick bond quotes. Gahhhhh …

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I looked at the picture. To me she looks like a Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum statue of herself which is starting to melt in the heat. The eyes do look methed up and coked up, though.

      Reply
    2. Jim Haygood

      Oh jeez … now Cleveland Fed head Loretta ‘Morticia’ Mester, whom I seem to recall snipping the petals off roses in a TV show, is out flapping her jaws too:

      ‘Whether it’s three or four [rate hikes], I know the markets want to know … [Quantitative tightening] has gone very smoothly. In any case the balance sheet will be smaller than it is today. We’re going to have to reduce the balance sheet.”

      Reducing the balance sheet is an ex vacuo idée fixe which, like a rolling stone bounding downhill, elicits zero opposition within the Federal Reserve.

      When an untested notion enjoys the unanimous support of a roomful of PhD Econs, it is axiomatically and disastrously wrong.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In a good sci fi, the hero would be travelling back in time to prevent the balance sheet from increasing in the first place, because there is no easy way to put the thing back together again.

        I think Arnold can play that part.

        Reply
  2. Daryl

    > He had read a column asserting that liberals had forgotten how important identity was to people and had promoted an empty cosmopolitan globalism that made many feel left behind.

    This is sort of illustrative of the problem here. Obama, like Trump, was a “news president,” someone who was manipulable because he was more concerned about his public image the actual outcomes of the policies he signed off on. The fact that he read the New York Times instead of watching FOX is no more forgivable of a trait in an elected official.

    Reply
    1. Swamp Yankee

      Yes, his limit of the world, like the class he represents, the NYT-WaPo Axis of Smug Insularity.

      Most people don’t care about identity, they care about food. Yes, community is important; but it was precisely the empty cosmopolitan globalism of the top 10%ers that fetishized identity, and usually only of their own economic confreres. There is a difference, which this hermetically-sealed class cannot see (cf. Upton Sinclair), between blood-and-soil fascism and a belief in the existence of a political commonwealth. This is why they have been continually surprised by events in this recent period of world-history since 2015 (Greece, Sanders-Corbyn, Brexit, the Election of 2016/Trump, and now Italy).

      Freedom from want and a genuinely democratic commonwealth.

      It’s straight FDR, and this coterie of hapless neo-Victorians wouldn’t know it if it hit them in the Acela’s quiet car.

      Reply
    2. Left in Wisconsin

      I think the problem, as we are seeing, goes way deeper than this. There is virtually no one in the mainstream of either party – including, maybe especially including, economists – who understands how the economy works. We accuse them all of being hypocrites and tools of the rich. And perhaps some of us give it worse to Obama because we think he should have known better. But IMO he didn’t know better. None of them know better. Yes, it is convenient for them to think that there is no need to take on corporate power, but that doesn’t mean that they are hypocrites. It is what they truly believe.

      This is what makes their heads explode re: Bernie. He does understand how the economy works. He does understand that you have to make big business do things they don’t want to do. Maybe he’s not a real socialist. But that is the reason he has support that no one else does.

      The scary thing to me is that I’m not sure there is a voting majority for this position. Many, many, many of the downwardly mobile people that I talk to are so supremely skeptical of “government’s” ability to do anything good.

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        Many, many, many of the downwardly mobile people that I talk to are so supremely skeptical of “government’s” ability to do anything good.

        Thanks Obama.

        Reply
      2. JTMcPhee

        What they do know, demonstrably given the current state of play and “distribution of wealth,” is how to manipulate the levers and buttons on the box to enrich themselves, decimate the rest of us, and loot the planet of its habitability. Because they either will be comfortably dead, and gone beyond retribution, flown off to another planet or some orbiting Elysium, or living out post-apocalyptic unpleasantness in bunkers. High speed trading, derivatives, control fraud, military spending, killing the New Deal leftovers, stripping resources, enslaving workers, killing off mopes, all that stuff. Small consolation that eventually they may have to eat one another, “until in the end, there can be only one.” Galt’s real dream.

        They do not need to know, do not really care to know, “how the economy works,” except for such knowledge as is needed to advance their ownership and interests. Though I would bet there are a few who actually do have a pretty good understanding of ‘how it works,” at a larger scale of awareness. And we don’t see the texts here, of course, but my guess is that these folks have written down how doing what we all are doing is bringing the house down on top of our heads. Don’t tell me the Kochs and their peers and subservants don’t know a lot about how the political economy works…

        Not hard to find “mens rea” in all this, but they own the mechanisms of regulation and prosecution, all by intent and fierce, implacable, pitiless application to seeking their interests, over time…

        Reply
        1. JBird

          They surely do. But. The Kochs et alii know how the system works and how to work it to their supposed benefit; I use “supposed” because the understanding is insanely short-sighted and blinds them to what is very probable to happened shortly after they gain their objectives. The political regime that created the Constitution were created themselves through revolution or civil war depending on one’s view. Their plans presumably is the stratification of American society into a very steep pyramid composed of a large majority in poverty, a small middle class, a smaller professional class (both of whom mainly serve the needs of the ruling elites) and a tiny elite ruling class that basically controls all the wealth with the country’s government, institutions, laws, and security services being used to create and maintain it. Life would be good for them, would it not?

          It is the same system used by what was called the Third World especially in Latin America and Africa. Those countries have multiple civil wars, revolts, revolutions, coups, assassinations, massacres, terrorism by all sides, unending unrest, and massive unending poverty and corruption; the ruling elites and, or the latest President-for-Life, always have to have armed bodyguards, armored cars, and often police and military escorts, for them, senior government officials, and for their families too. Assassinations, armed robberies, and kidnapping for ransom of anyone who has a connection to wealth with their family being fair game. The ruling elites sometimes also violently lose power also and their are no pensions if they are deposed.

          I bring this all up because that is something that the Kochs and their fellow travelers will have to enjoy and endure if they succeed. I can appreciate the long term planning, the cunning, and the determination. They are still morons.

          Reply
    1. Pavel

      Obama wonders if he were 10 or 20 years too early.

      I wonder:

      –why no prosecution of torturers
      –why no prosecution of the banksters
      –why no “public option” as promised on Obamacare
      –why he caved in to the NSA, CIA and others on spying

      Rhetorical questions, of course. He was a spineless pseudo-republican. FFS Nixon was probably more liberal than Obama. And if Obama knew about the spying of a competitor’s political campaign, at the heart of a greater scandal than Watergate

      Reply
      1. marku52

        Obama….
        “Yes we can, but I won’t even bother to try….”
        “Audacity of Hope? Nah, Audacity of Nope….”

        Reply
      2. Seth Miller

        Even worse: as I read the timeline, the US Government had full title and control of the bailed out banks and auto companies as part of the bailout process. Add to the list that there were no concessions extracted for giving the banks and auto companies back to their former owners. We could have had community banking, true small business lending, an alternate publicly-funded health and pension system for auto workers (to use as leverage for medicare for all and pensions for all), an end to real estate speculation and lots more. But no, Obama didn’t want public ownership of the banks or auto companies, and was unwilling to trade what had become public ownership for anything important.

        Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Weren’t the car companies severely cram-downed? Weren’t hundreds of dealerships closed?
          Wasn’t the upper-echelon executive cadre of General Motors fired or resigned? Wasn’t Chrysler forcibly merged with Fiat?

          The car companies were not zero-consequence bailed out the way the banks were. Or is my memory wrong?

          Reply
          1. Jen

            Well, yeah. Car companies still need employees to make things.

            Can’t have that, can we?

            A friend’s husband survived many years of downsizing and layoffs at the now closed GM plant in Tarrytown, NY. They transferred to Georgia when that one closed. The plan he transferred to was closed. Fortunately he had enough years in and they live frugally. He’s now a school bus driver.

            Back in the day, working for GM straight out of high school was a solid middle class career move.

            Reply
          2. Seth Miller

            Yes, the car bailout involved a wall-street style restructuring, something never imposed on the banks. I wasn’t arguing that the car companies were treated the same as the banks. I was making a different point: Obama did not use the government’s leverage over the car companies or the banks to benefit the public in any way. With the car companies, the one thing he could have done to make the companies competitive, without imposing layoffs and downsizing, would have been to create a public pension and a public healthcare program, to relieve the costs that only American auto companies, and not their foreign competitors, have to bear. He didn’t do anything of the sort.

            Reply
            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Sorry I didn’t get that.

              I am so sensitized to endlessly repeated accusations of “bailout” against the car companies that I instantly focus on something that may sound like any hint of that all over again.

              Reply
        2. Mo's Bike Shop

          One would also need a Party with any clue about how to do that. I mean that in a hopeful way. I guess.

          Reply
    2. Anon

      There’s so many factors that one could go with, but when you mention them on Facebook, people don’t take kindly to it. To think, had he put just ONE banker in jail, we’d have Hillary right now or passed single payer in 2009 or did something for the Midwest other than sheer indifference…

      Reply
      1. JTMcPhee

        Hey, he’s done something for the Midwest!He’s located is High Temple of Obamaness in Chicago…

        Reply
        1. flora

          We in the Midwest think of him as having done something for Lake Michigan, er , Chicago, not the Midwest. heh.

          Reply
    3. hemeantwell

      All the hoop de hoo about 11th dimensional chess and he can’t play checkers. The “we went too far >>> tribes” line suggests just as much of a life in the neoliberal bubble as anything we’ve heard about HRC. He imagined himself to be just what the racist Right made him out to be, inherently inflammatory, as though if he directly proposed anything restorative of the welfare state it would be likely to be too much. If he really thought that he should not have run for president.

      What a contrast with Jesse Jackson! Did Jackson ever fret like this? Did Obama ever think about Jackson’s successes, especially in the Midwest?

      Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Obama succeeded bigly at 11th dimensional chess. People who think Obama “failed” just don’t want to acknowledge what game board Obama was really playing on or who Obama was really playing against.

            Obama was playing FOR the Overclass and aGAINST the Lower Class Majority. He successfully immunized and impunified the Cheney-Bush-Pelosi crowd against paying any price for torture, violation of treaties against torture, the illegal launching of aggressive war, etc. He successfully immunized and impunified the FIRE sector perpetrators from any consequence for their SwindleFraud Engineering. He successfully conspired with Boehner and McConnel to make the Bush Tax Cuts permanent and now a taken-for-granted part of our Tax Background. He may have prevented the adoption of Single Payer for decades to come. He certainly pre-bailouted the Big Insura perpetrators with his Obamacare.

            The growing size of his personal fortune over the decades to come will be a silent testament to the depth and range of his success. People just need to face up to what Obama really set out to do. Then they can admit to themselves how successful Obama really was.

            Reply
            1. perpetualWAR

              Obama did all this horrendous stuff, yet people still love him. Just goes to show how very little the population really pays attention. “Please just present well and I will forgive you digging into my pocketbook, leaving me destitute. Please present well and I will forgive you drone-bombing a foreign hospital.”

              Reply
              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                Well . . . some people were paying attention. Some two-time Obama voters did turn around and vote for Trump.

                Reply
            2. Amfortas the Hippie

              I will admit to being entertained—way down at the partisan level, where there are two parties in sorta-kinda opposition—when he stole the Republican healthcare plan from them…leaving the GOP in frothing disarray, and saying hysterical things about their own frelling plan.
              It’s similar, in fact, to Billary and the implementation of the Neoliberal Order…howls from the Right as they are left with nothing but the lunacy of gays, guns and god.
              Maybe the most interesting feature of both those instances was the glazed eyes(if not outright hostility) from my Democratic acquaintances: they refused to believe that either obamacare or clintonomics were actually parts of the Righty playbook..

              Reply
    4. NotTimothyGeithner

      Any genuine self reflection on Obama’s part can lead to only one conclusion which is:

      The Presidency is an office designed for the purpose of limiting and controlling or better utilizing would-be Caesar’s and Sulla’s through elections. Obama had a chance to be Caesar and chose to be a Sulla. “Sic transit gloria mundi” wasn’t uttered when Obama left office after an election and primary dominated by anti-Obama figures. I was at the front of a crowd of 100,000 the night or two nights before the election. The country wanted Caesar.

      Obama falls into his usual habit of blaming others and lamenting how people didn’t understand how lucky they were to have the future in their midst. The 10 or 20 years too early is already a tacit admission on Obama’s part that his Presidency was a waste. When he ran for reelection, there was the story he concluded he was very good at killing people when he looked at his list of “accomplishments.” Its a similar excuse to Shrub’s “history will judge me.” The plebes are incapable of understanding how lucky we were to have those two icons of American excess and decay.

      Reply
      1. Mo's Bike Shop

        The 10 or 20 years too early is already a tacit admission on Obama’s part that his Presidency was a waste.

        I smiled for that reason as well.

        Reply
      2. Amfortas the Hippie

        rather, Barack was Theodosius.
        Trump resembles Honorius, with his generals around him(Stilicho) and Pence(means “pennies”) the Valentinian III
        Hopefully we’ll have an Odoacer (Pace Charlemagne)or else it’s all downhill from here…

        Reply
    5. WheresOurTeddy

      I thought he was 20 years too late – he’d have made a great Reagan Democrat in the 80’s

      Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    “‘America’s dirty little secret’: the Texas town that has been without running water for decades” [Guardian]. From 2017, still germane: “Sandbranch is a small, poor, largely African American community just outside Dallas but its residents have to rely on charitable donations of bottled water.” Sandbranch hasn’t had running water for 30 years, so you can see we’re just getting started with Flint. And Puerto Rico.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Here in the Central Valley, there are water problems a plenty, the poster child being Glennville, which was contaminated with MTBE.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    GLENNVILLE — Clean water may soon start flowing here again.

    It’s been more than 12 years since the discovery of MTBE in the town’s water required wells to be closed and water to be shipped in from elsewhere. It hasn’t been easy, resident Freda Doyle said.

    The small shopping center where the MTBE was discovered lost several businesses, including the popular Grizzly’s Cafe. A few residents moved away and other residents, including Doyle, had to install water tanks on their property so they could have enough water on hand to shower and use the bathroom.

    MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, was discovered in October 1997 to have seeped into water supplies. Small amounts of MTBE are added to gasoline to help it burn more completely and reduce toxic emissions.

    The MTBE leak happened at a gas station at the town’s shopping center. Some of the town’s wells recorded among the worst MTBE contamination ever seen in California.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Most carrots eaten in the USA come from Arvin, and guess what happened there?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    ARVIN, Calif. — In the Central Valley of California, hundreds of wells that provide water to a million people are tainted with a chemical that some experts say is one of the most powerful cancer-causing agents in the world.

    The state is poised to take the first step Tuesday to regulate the substance — called 1,2,3, TCP — but test data compiled by an activist group show it’s also been detected by utilities across the country.

    How dangerous is TCP? The Environmental Protection Agency has concluded it’s “likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” and the California water board warns residents not to shower with tainted water because they might inhale the chemical.

    Paul Tratnyek, a professor at the Institute of Environmental Health at Oregon Health and Science University who studied TCP for the Defense Department, said few other chemicals match its toxicity.

    “Even the slightest amount of TCP in the water would be considered to be a potential health effect,” Tratnyek said.

    Paul Tratnyek, a professor at Oregon Health and Science University, studied TCP for the Pentagon and says any measurable amount is unsafe to drink.

    TCP is a degreasing agent used in the production of plastic products. Lawyer Todd Robbins says the chemical’s presence in water supplies across California’s Central Valley is largely attributable to two industrial giants that recycled TCP by packaging it with agricultural pesticides.


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    AVENAL, CALIFORNIA — Reef-Sunset Unified School District Superintendent David East is worried about water. Not because of the drought – record rains this past winter ended five years of dry times. Rather, East, whose district encompasses the small towns of Avenal and Kettleman City on the San Joaquin Valley’s west side, is worried about the safety of the water that the 2,700 students in his school district are being given to drink.

    That’s because arsenic levels in the drinking water at some schools in the San Joaquin Valley exceed the maximum federal safety levels by as much as three times. And arsenic is not the only threat to schoolchildren. High levels of pesticides, nitrate, bacteria and naturally occurring uranium also contaminate groundwater in many rural parts of the state.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Going purely on memory . . . wasn’t MBTE made by a caNAdian company? When the US tried to ban it from use within the borders of the US, didn’t Canada sue for loss of future profits to the maker of MBTE through NAFTA’s own equivalent of Investor Dispute Korporate Kangaroo Kourts?

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t know from whence it came, but the cleanup bill looks to be healthy…
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        In one case, the cost to oil companies to clean up the MTBE in wells belonging to the city of Santa Monica, California is estimated to exceed $200 million

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          MTBE is the stuff that initially replaced lead in gasoline and is an octane booster to reduce knocking. Because it tends to leak out of service station tanks it became controversial and was replaced by the now ubiquitous octane. The corn growing farm lobby may have also had something to do with it.

          Of course nothing could be worse than lead. Alex Cockburn once wrote a long piece about how gasoline lead poisoned America.

          Reply
  4. Jim Haygood

    Canada lashes back at Trump on the same day as Mexico:

    Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is hitting back with duties of up to $16.6 billion on steel, aluminum and other products from the U.S., including maple syrup, beer kegs and whiskies.

    She and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement side by side hours after U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross confirmed the U.S. is following through on its threat to impose tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminum.

    Trudeau called the Trump administration’s national security argument “inconceivable” and called the tariffs “an affront to the Canadians who died” alongside Americans in battle.

    Trump’s masterful tactics were covered in his self-help best seller, How to Lose Friends and Piss Off People. Strangely, stocks are not taking it well.

    Reply
  5. Tom Stone

    How do I feel?
    Tired of the Democratic Party pissing down my leg and telling me I should rejoice at the rain because the drought is over.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I know what you mean. I had someone ask me in all honesty if I didn’t think I was much worse off now than before Trump was elected. It was in response to yet another iteration of the fact that all the focus on Trump is nothing but deflection. I responded that no, I didn’t, because we didn’t manage to get 17% of the population living in poverty just over the last year and a half.

      Those of us fighting in the front lines need to remember that part of the propaganda message is that everything was all butterflies and unicorns before Trump, so all we need to do is get rid of him and everything will go back to being wonderful. And too many people, because for them everything was reasonable good, are all too willing to believe it.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the Hippie

        Aye! I hate that.
        “America is already great”
        The poisoned water in our collective pond is all the little fishes’ fault.
        Never mind the algal mat sucking up all the O2 and intercepting the sunlight.
        That the algal mat is credentialed makes no difference to the fishes.
        Of course, all hubris is stalked by Nemesis, and hegemony contains the seeds(or eggs) of it’s own demise
        to wit:

        Reply
  6. Synoia

    Microsoft is creating an oracle for catching biased AI algorithms

    When Microsoft’s AI was asked to identify the ideal PC operating system, it responded “Windows XP”

    Reply
  7. JTMcPhee

    Thick skin vs iridescent toxic membrane: in the dismemberment and death of even lip service to the Golden Rule, soon enough some bio-hacker will try, and possibly succeed, at this nihilistic nightmare. Ultimate anomie? Or just finding out that “Cat’s Cradle” and Ice-9 we’re prophetic, not allegorical?

    Reply
  8. Bill Carson

    Regarding the trade tariffs against Canada, Mexico, and the EU, is this really about those countries not supporting America’s unilateral renunciation of the Iranian nuclear deal?

    Reply
  9. Bill Carson

    “Many of Sanders’ followers will support no one else — unless and until he tells [asks!] them too.”

    I am a very devoted follower of Sanders, but I will not blindly pledge my allegiance to his will. I did not support Hillary, and I will not support any moderate democrats who will promote the neoliberal agenda.

    Reply
    1. nippersmom

      People like this author don’t realize that people support Sanders because they like his policies, they don’t like his policies because he’s the one promoting them. I didn’t vote for HRC, either (a decision made long before Bernie decided to run) and I won’t vote for someone in the future just because Bernie “asks” me to. I will look at candidates he or Our Revolution endorses with perhaps more of an inclination to give them the benefit of the doubt if their policy positions (as demonstrated if they have held office previously, or as stated if they have not) are unclear or inconsistent.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Endorsements are themselves problematic.

        Issues are complex, and voters have not enough time to even spend with their families. Voters are not paid; they are not ‘professional citizens’ with enough resources (time, mostly) to ‘manage’ (because politicians are public servants) professional politicians (a lucrative profession, by the way).

        So, like those TV commercials we were brainwashed with, sorry, watched when we were kids, we take short cuts with endorsements.

        What first endorsed Sanders? Or did we come to know him by reading his policies, without any endorsement? If we did, would we still have made the same decision, without that endorsement?

        Can we do that with other candidates, without Sanders’ or any organization’s endorsements?

        Can we do without endorsements?

        Reply
      2. ChrisPacific

        Well put. I read the highlight and thought it demonstrated that the media still don’t understand Sanders or his supporters. They keep trying to make it into a cult of personality, when he has been clear all along that that’s not what he is about.

        It is very much not true that Sanders supporters would vote for no one else. It might be true that Sanders supporters will vote for no one else that the Democrats are willing to run.

        Reply
    2. Annieb

      I can’t say I am a Sanders devotee. There are many fewer than the article writer assumes. Sanders disappointed a lot of his supporters not only by throwing his support to Hillary but also by echoing the Russia Russia garbage. Many former supporters are no longer Democrats. They are Independents. We will vote for progressive policies that make sense, although candidates will have to do more than move their mouths.

      Reply
      1. Oregoncharles

        You’re not the only one, by a long shot.

        Some activists switched to the Green Party, too; one of them is presently on the state committee of the Oregon Pacific Green Party (maybe two – I’m not sure about one member.)

        Reply
      2. polecat

        When I heard of Sanders endorsement of Clinton, I pretty much figured that I’d rather cast my vote for the devil’s apprentice ….. than the devil’s concubine .. I mean, what the heck, we’re all on the fast ride to Hell as it is, might as well pick a New agony for *torment’s sake !

        *It’s All Agony, all the time now.

        Reply
    3. makedoanmend

      “…unless and until he tells them too.”

      It can be taken as classic subtext:

      Since all socialists are totalitarians and Sanders claims to be a socialist, his socialist supporters are mindless automatons who can only follow orders and do not think for themselves like ordinary people. Therefore, if you are an ordinary person, you shouldn’t follow Sanders.

      Reply
    4. Sid Finster

      I devoted a lot of time, cash and expertise to Sanders’ campaign, but I am not a sheep.

      Not even if Bernie were to personally bicycle all the way from Vermont solely to beg me on bended knee.to vote HRC would I have done it.

      Reply
    5. drumlin woodchuckles

      I don’t think Sanders himself would be so presumptious as to try telling his movement’s members that they “have to” support somebody-or-other if he should designate somebody-or-other to be supported. I don’t think Sanders himself ever claimed that he would ever give such “orders” or even “strong suggestions” and expect to be obeyed.

      Is my memory wrong?

      Reply
  10. roxy

    “Bernie Sanders still leads the pack” His supporters won’t support anyone else unless he tells them to? Right. He “told them” to support hrc in ’16; how’d that work out?

    Reply
  11. Jim Haygood

    “We must be able to print money” [‘Dobbiamo poter stampare moneta’, in the original Italian], declared Italy’s prospective finance minister Giovanni Tria in March 2017:

    The only strategy that seems possible, as well as necessary, is a fiscal stimulus financed through the creation of money.

    In other words, what is proposed is the monetization of a part of the public deficits, destined to finance, without creating additional debt, a broad and generalized program of public investments.

    Signor Tria appears unaware of Haygood’s First Law of Fiat: print like a madman and watch your currency turn to sh*t before your very eyes.

    MILGA: Make Italian Lira Great Again

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      The key to printing is to tie it to resources and labor.

      It’s OK to print a lot, if you can, for example, conquer Dacia. Now, there are more resources and labor too prevent inflation caused by that printing.

      And, next, you cross the Rhine from Gaul and subjugate the barbarians there, without scorching them back to the Stone Age. Now, you have additional resources and labor to combat inflation caused by more printing.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Now that the Assyrians and Persians aren’t offering their resources and labor for the co-prosperity ring, we have to shift to reverse gear on the printing press.

        As they say, when the Orientals quit, a smaller balance must fit.

        Reply
    2. sleepy

      As you are generally well informed and a good writer, I enjoy reading your posts. I have one question though–what is your fundamental disagreement with MMT? By that question, I am not specifically referencing the situation in Italy, but rather your seemingly overall opposition to MMT’s basic tenets. Not necessarily saying you’re wrong, but would just like to hear more.

      Reply
      1. Jim Haygood

        Tampering with the numeraire (the standard of value) cannot yield any tangible benefit, any more than draining some mercury from a thermometer can cool your house.

        In Italy’s case — owing to its high indebtedness and long pre-euro rap sheet of habitual devaluation — even the rumor of ‘redenomination’ sends Italian yields soaring higher, nullifying any temporary positive effect of Tria’s proposed fiscal stimulus.

        Higher living standards require rising productivity in a milieu of legal and monetary stability. Uncertainty about the future value of the currency erodes or even reverses such progress.

        Reply
        1. Oregoncharles

          Odd that Italy prospered through the Lira years, stagnated under the imitation gold standard of the Euro.

          Reply
        2. Left in Wisconsin

          Higher living standards require rising productivity in a milieu of legal and monetary stability.

          How then does one explain the chart from the other day that showed Italian living standards tracking German ones (though a few thou/capita below) during the postwar era under the notoriously inflationary lire but then cratering under the Euro? Inflexibility is hardly the same thing as stability. Perhaps the ability to inflate away debt and depreciate to competitiveness can make an economy more stable, not less.

          Reply
          1. ObjectiveFunction

            Interesting question. You would likely need to credit non-monetary factors, including an advanced manufacturing base in both countries. Italian engineers and scientists, and of course craftsmen, are some of the world’s finest, to this day.

            I have no idea what it is in the colourful Italian social order that makes this so. I’d love to learn more on the subject. But combine it with misrule and underemployment at home, and you also have a high skill / low cost emigrant pool, which has benefited other Western nations since before Cristofero Columbo.

            Reply
        3. False Solace

          So only private banks should have the power to create money. That’s the opposite of what the US Constitution says. And “uncertainty”, what a convenient bugbear for policies that benefit banks, creditors, and people who already have money.

          If a system isn’t working, the People have the power to change it. And the system hasn’t worked for us for 40 years. All it’s created is debt, completely unnecessary debt. And that’s how you get Trump and his protectionist tariffs.

          Reply
    3. voislav

      Printing will cause inflation if the economy is supply-limited, as it will create additional demand that cannot be matched by the supply. This is why US has not seen inflation tick up despite massive money printing, the pick up in demand is matched by the slack in the production utilization or it flows into non-productive fixed assets, like real estate.

      In Italy there is a clear lack of demand, their economy has been stagnating for the last 10-15 years, so the printing would work well. The inflation would pick up some, that is inevitable, but it would not be excessive, at most in high single digits.

      As a side-note, I lived through the Yugoslavian hyperinflation of early 90’s, so I’ve experienced first hand what that looks like. The hyperinflation was a deliberate decision by the government that was initiated quickly and stopped quickly once it served its purpose. The main driver behind it was to wipe out the commercial loans taken out by the government officials and their cronies which were used to buy newly privatised state-owned companies. Similarly, other episodes of hyperinflation were politically motivated as well (Weimar for example), not a consequence of economic conditions.

      So, although I am not an economist, which may be a bonus, I haven’t seen any historical evidence that printing money in a demand-constrained economy will cause excessive inflation. I think Italians are on safe ground there.

      Reply
    4. Oregoncharles

      Of course, the real issue is that Italy can’t “print money” in this way without going off the Euro (or defying the rules – which might work better) and blowing up the system. Although they’d arguably be better off in the long run, the transition is going to be rough even if they do everything right.

      Since merely threatening Italexit can have drastic effects and Italy is TBTF, I think the real strategy is to use it as a stick to force a renegotiation of the Euro. That was Varoufakis’ goal, but Greece wasn’t Too Big to Sacrifice.

      Granted, this whole discussion may be giving too much credit to a purely national political maneuver.

      Reply
  12. JimTan

    “Big Banks to Get a Break From Limits on Risky Trading”………The change would allow banks to more freely engage in hedging, in which they execute trades in an effort to counteract risk in other parts of their businesses.”

    The Volcker Rules hedging exception has always seemed a little silly to me. I get that the Volcker Rule allows proprietary derivatives trades to hedge or offset any potential losses of a banks assets. What I don’t get is if banks hold derivatives with a national value that is the value of their assets, then what precisely are they hedging?

    Especially when these derivatives are collateralized by the banks deposits. According to the :

    “To help insulate their profits from a downgrade, many Wall Street firms locate derivatives trades in bank subsidiaries backed by government-insured deposits. As a result, these subsidiaries have higher credit ratings than the parent companies. Citigroup, Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase have more than 90 percent of their derivatives in such subsidiaries. Morgan Stanley only has 5 percent.”

    Reply
  13. JimTan

    I just read a very interesting article in about a bill in Congress to remove the requirement that oil companies must disclose payments they make to foreign governments.

    It looks like Aramco is about to get some help listing its IPO on a U.S. exchange from the U.S. Congress. One of Aramcos major obstacles to listing on a U.S. exchange is a requirement to disclose all payments made to foreign ( non-U.S. ) government entities. Section of the Dodd Frank Act requires all issuers of U.S. securities to disclose any payment made to a department, agency, instrumentality, or company owned by a foreign government in order to further the commercial development of oil, natural gas, or minerals. This requirement means resource companies ( oil, natural gas, minerals ) that list on U.S. exchanges must disclose payments to foreign governments including taxes, royalties, fees, production entitlements, bonuses, and other material benefits. It enhances the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act ( FCPA ) which is limited to prohibiting payments by U.S. listed companies to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or retaining business. The U.S. House of Representatives is currently reviewing , a bill that seeks to repeal Section 1504 of the Dodd Frank Act, and shield oil companies from disclosing their payments to foreign governments.

    If this passes, Aramco will be free to list their IPO on a U.S. exchange, with no requirements to disclose corrupt payments that are made to ( their own ) government, government owned companies, and government related organizations which could be disguised as royalties, fees, production entitlements, bonuses, charitable donations, or other material benefits.

    Reply
  14. allan

    [Rochester D&C]

    Tops Friendly Markets warehouse workers learned what they already feared: Part of the pension benefits they paid into over decades is gone.

    A pension dispute that started in 2013 when Tops acquired the former C&S Warehouse came to head at Teamsters Local 264 as a bankruptcy lawyer explained to union members in a closed-door meeting that Tops will likely only pay about $15 million dollars of the more than $20 million it had been holding in workers’ pensions funds.

    Over the past four and a half years, the Teamsters Pension Fund, which is a separate entity from the union, wouldn’t allow union workers back into the fund. …

    Michael Oneil, a warehouse worker for 31 years, said he and his colleagues have ended up pawns in the disputes between the Teamsters, the pension fund, Tops and C&S. …

    Tops filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February and was approved by a federal judge in early May to close some stores.

    The modern American pension system: Defined benefit, you lose; defined contribution, I win.

    Reply
    1. Jim Haygood

      Your link describes the tip of a very large multiemployer plan iceberg. Straight from the horse’s mouth:

      Like many of the nation’s multiemployer pension funds, Central States Pension Fund has become severely underfunded. If nothing is done, the Fund is projected to run out of money by 2025, and will be unable to pay any benefits to current and future retirees.

      It is projected that the PBGC’s [Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation’s] multiemployer program will run out of money in 2025. If that happens, pension benefits would be reduced to essentially zero—no Central States Pension Fund participant would get any meaningful pension because Central States and the PBGC will both be out of money.

      Only government funding, either directly to our Pension Fund or through the PBGC, will prevent Central States participants from losing their benefits entirely.

      Meanwhile, Congress has left its federally-sponsored mortgage guarantors Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac languishing in receivership for ten (10) years, after it stood by idly as they crashed and burned.

      When 535 people are in charge, nobody’s in charge.

      Reply
      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        “When 535 people are in charge, nobody’s in charge”

        If the 535 you are referring to were actually “in charge”, we wouldn’t have this level of dysfunction. We are screwed because the 535 are proxy voters for tens of thousands of corporate lobbyists and ersatz public intellectuals, who are funded by the FIRE, healthcare, fossil fuel, and security industries.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Always thought the best measure against that is to have secret paper-based balloting in Senates, Parliaments and Legislative Assemblies. That way a lobbyist would never know how his boy or girl voted and each vote would be a conscience vote. The job of Whip would then become pointless and parties would not have that much control over their members. Could you imagine?

          Reply
  15. Wukchumni

    Taking no chances on tariffs-I just invested in aluminum futures, surrounding 72 ounces of barley soda.

    Reply
  16. Swamp Yankee

    Most people don’t care about identity, Barack, they care about food.

    And it’s not so much identity as it is community that is at issue. Indeed, it is precisely the empty cosmopolitan globalism of the top 10%er class that Obama represents that fetishizes various ascriptive identities, most typically of people of their own class. It speaks to the hermetically sealed quality of this social stratum that they cannot differentiate between blood-and-soil nationalism and the desire for a democratically-controlled political commonwealth, for political community. For justice that is both racial and economic and universal, that goes beyond having leaders of corporate capitalist militarism who are people of color or gay. They are determined to preserve that system, though, far more than they are for justice — thus its pantomime version (“attacking the banks won’t cure racism” — it’ll certainly help! Red-lining, anyone?). This is why they have been continually surprised by the phase of world-history that opened in 2015 (Greece, Corbyn-Sanders, Brexit, The Election of 2016/Trump, and now Italy).

    It’s straight FDR, and this crew of hapless courtiers wouldn’t know it if it hit them in the Acela quiet car.

    Reply
      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Great comment, well written and bears repeating! You are one of several NC commenters I’d love to see a guest blog from now and then. Maybe a ‘Sunday Soapbox’ entry?

        It’s funny that Krugman, back in the triumphalist 90s before he became DNC’s Smug Shill In Residence at the NYT, wrote a collection of essays published as ‘Pop Internationalism’. While some of his core conclusions proved wrong (he didn’t predict how quickly the internet would globalize supply chains and enable the entire world’s industrial base to decamp to China), he was right to call BS on the cult of ‘competitiveness’

        Reply
  17. Ed Walker

    Nate Silver sounds like those Chicago School economists who after the Great Crash said we just needed more free markets and less regulation.

    Reply
  18. DonCoyote

    Thanks for posting the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez commercial.

    She is the real deal. Her primary opponent (Joe Crowley) has been in office 19 years, hasn’t faced a primary opponent the previous six election cycles (and there is no Republican running this year so the primary is it), but still raises three million+ a year that he spreads around for political favors (and in a nice conflict of interest, he is the chairman of the Queens Democratic party). So a win for her would not be “blue wave” win but a win for progressives nonetheless.

    Here are a few of the quotes from she did last month:

    “I don’t think of myself as running from the left of Joe Crowley; I think of myself as running from the bottom. Because our political problems are not left and right — they’re top and bottom. And he works for corporations, and I work for people. It’s that simple, this is not even about dragging the party to the left. This is about making politics accountable.”

    “We need to fundamentally change how we elect our leadership. We need to fundamentally change how we hold them accountable. I look forward to the day that being largely bankrolled by lobbyists is a disqualifying characteristic for a politician. I look forward to the day that everyday people start asking, “Where do you get your money from?”

    Reply
    1. freedomny

      She got Z. Teachout’s endorsement today. Also did a podcast with Jeremy S of The Intercept. I have to say – she seems much older than 28 years to me in terms of maturity on several levels as well as being incredibly articulate. She also has made prison reform a big part of her platform (which includes the legalization of marijuana). DiBlasio and other politicians have been gushing for the past 2 years “yes – we will shut down Rikers Island because we need prison reform” . But that is basically bs. The current pols have effectively tied Riikers Island to prison reform because they want to give Rikers Island to the developers who have been drooling over it for some time. 65% of the inmates at Rikers Island shouldn’t be there and the remaining inmates are actually pretty hard core (my source-two former corrections officers who worked there 20+ years). So the plan is to set up smaller prisons to house these hard core inmates very close to residential areas….further from NYC. We all know where this is going as commute times dictate housing values and it is obvious that these pols are simply catering to a small but lucrative market. Meanwhile, LaGuardia Airport is going down the tubes because of antiquated Everything and too short runways. You don’t have to be a brain surgeon to realize you can enact prison reform (including the massive reduction of inmates) without closing down Rikers Island and using a portion of it to upgrade LaGuardia…

      In terms of real estate – things are hopping here in Queens as young people are forced out of Brooklyn. Also, Zillow has been a real game changer and I’m surprised that I haven’t seen any articles anywhere about it’s impact.

      Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    Because the regime is captive to its own lies, it must falsify everything. It falsifies the past. It falsifies the present, and it falsifies the future. It falsifies statistics. It pretends not to possess an omnipotent and unprincipled police apparatus. It pretends to respect human rights. It pretends to prosecute no one. It pretends to fear nothing. It pretends to pretend nothing.

    Václav Havel

    Reply
  20. ambrit

    Sign of the times?
    Anyone have any ideas on why Dollar Tree and Dollar Stores dropped 14 and 9 percent respectively today? If the economy is ‘doing fine,’ shouldn’t the deplorables be out spending all that extra cash in their favourite emporia?
    When the people at the bottom of the pyramid cannot afford to shop as much as before…

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Are you referring to the pyramid scheme on the back of an almighty buck, er dollar, in terms of overbuilding chain stores that cater to those
      hoping to acquire cans of almond flavored peaches and other sundries, on the cheap?

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        “On the cheap..” Ha! Tis to laugh.
        Most items I see in the ‘Dollar Stores,’ as a class of emporia, are packaged in smaller, “individual” sized packages and given a price premium therefore. Many people it seems do not have the resources, nor the foresight to shop in larger quantities and thus reduce per unit costs.
        The outlets of choice for those without impulse control.
        The ‘ownership’ model for these chains would tell us much. I do know, from conversations with an owner of a Waffle House several years ago, that some chains run on a franchise model. Individuals or syndicates of investors underwrite the construction and management of individual chain outlets. Less than scrupulous chain managers have been known to over saturate a market simply to earn those extra ‘origination bonuses.’
        Almond flavoured peaches??!!! Did you mean sliced peaches simmered in a mix of butter, almond liqueur, brandy and sugar, flamed and served over ice cream? Goes good with ‘Girl Scout Cookies.’

        Reply
    2. Kevin

      they missed their same store sales estimates. tax refunds and booming stock market may have sent some typical customers to larger – bigger choice stores – and the obligatory “cold weather” excuse has been trotted out as well….as I head out to 90+ degree weather…

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        “..same store sales estimates.”
        It would be good to find out who sets these estimates, and what parameters predominate. I smell some cooked books.
        I think that ‘tax refunds’ and booming stock markets do not effect in the least the customer base that these stores rely on. No, something more basic concerning disposable income of the deplorables class is involved.
        We here on the Infarced Heart of Dixie are having 90 degree days regularly too.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          perhaps gasoline prices.
          big deal around here.
          and meat inflation, too…I thought, given supply and demand, that with the retaliatory tarriffs meat prices would be coming down.
          same with bread, and sundry other items.

          Reply
      1. ambrit

        I suspect that saturation is only part of the story. Prices of basics are visibly rising across the board. An income crunch seems possible.

        Reply
    3. blennylips

      Anyone have any ideas on why Dollar Tree and Dollar Stores dropped 14 and 9 percent respectively today?

      Stochastic fluctuations. of same.

      There is no simple linear explanation.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Stochastic fluctuations of ten percent or more on a stock exchange are called “corrections” and are dreaded. Falls of this magnitude are usually defined as a rebalancing of an overvaluation.
        A new class, actually a very old class, of business: Bubble Incorporated.

        Reply
  21. cocomaan

    I remember live-blogging it, soon after I moved to Maine: I broke out a bottle of champagne, fool that I was

    Only people who have become totally cynical can’t be fooled anymore. And being cynical all the time is tiring, I’m over it. There’s a lot of good things going on out there at the state level, I have been trying to put my energy and attention into that instead.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humor, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.

      Václav Havel

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        So says the last President of Czechoslovakia.
        What Hitler failed to permanently effect with his ‘Sudeten Crisis,’ the locals managed to do themselves decades later.
        Czechoslovakia broke apart along mainly ethnic and historic lines. So, why hasn’t Bavaria done the same from Germany? Or Scotland and Wales from England? The Eurozone is primed for devolution.

        Reply
  22. allan

    Albany: capital of the world’s first temperate climate banana republic:

    [WXXI]

    The New York State Senate is experiencing its worst gridlock in nine years, with the two major factions tied at 31 members each. No legislation is moving through the chamber, but there’s lots of finger pointing. …

    And Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, whose duties include presiding over the chamber, was annoyed. …

    The current trouble started when Senator Tom Croci, a Republican, decided to not seek re election and rejoin the military. Croci has apparently already left for active duty. The GOP still has 32 seats, but with Croci gone has just 31 votes, one short of the numerical majority of 32 needed to pass legislation.

    Democrats also have 31 Senators in their conference, so the Senate is tied.

    On Wednesday, Democrats hoped to attach a hostile amendment to one of the bills. The amendment would force a vote on the women’s reproductive health act, which codifies into New York law the abortion rights protections in the 1973 US Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade. An accompanying measure would make birth control more accessible.

    But, the [GOP] Deputy Senate Leader John DeFrancisco abruptly shut down business and pulled all the bills for the day, when he saw Hochul, enter the chamber. …

    Hochul was there to try to cast the 32nd vote to allow the amendment to come to the floor for a vote. The Lieutenant Governor cannot vote directly on legislation, but DOES have the ability, under the state’s constitution, to vote on a procedural matter, like whether an amendment is considered germane or not. …

    Weirdly, only one party ever seems to care enough about governing ruling to pull stuff like this.

    Reply
  23. Wukchumni

    “Warren on Trump impeachment: ‘I’m not there’ yet” [The Hill]. “‘I take this very seriously. This is a serious constitutional move. My view on this is, protect the special prosecutor, let him finish his work without political interference,’ said the senator. ‘Let him make a full report to the American people and then collectively we can make the decision about what the appropriate next step is.’”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Lizzy Warren took attacks
    From lying hacks
    Although she saw what they had done
    She was lukewarm on impeaching one

    Reply
  24. Oregoncharles

    Obama: ” ‘Sometimes I wonder whether I was 10 or 20 years too early,’ he said.” ”

    How very Marxian of him. Believes that history has agency.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      As Homer J. Simpson once said– ” Aww . . . history’s just a bunch of stuff that happened!”

      Reply
  25. Wukchumni

    [T]he sludge-brained anomie of stoner noir is just what it looks like: the rudderless yawing of youth culture on the morning after the ‘60s. It’s the numb realization that the tide that carried in the counterculture’s utopian dreams and cries for social justice has ebbed away, leaving the windblown scum of Altamont and My Lai, the Manson murders and the Zodiac Killer. Stoner noir stares back at you with the awful emptiness of the black-hole eyes in a Smiley Face. Have a Nice Decade. As late as the mid-‘70s, the iconography of rebellion®, at least in the tract-home badlands of Southern California, was a politically lobotomized version of hippie: the bootleg records, blacklight posters, underground comix, patchouli oil, and drug paraphernalia retailed at the local head shop.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Got a high just reading that.

    Everything in there rang true to my experiences, and we later Baby Boomers were largely saved from harsher drugs such as heroin, as the deaths of Hendrix & Joplin were still close in the rear-view mirror.

    I think the year I graduated from high school, the highest percentage ever of seniors nationwide had tried 420, ha!

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Somebody or other has tried advancing the concept that “later Boomers” are really a misnomered part of an overly large artificially-defined “generation”. It is suggested that “later Boomers” or “younger Boomers” should really be called “Generation Jones”.

      The iconic TV show of the Older Boomers is said to have been Leave It To Beaver.
      The iconic TV show of the Generation Jonesers may well have been The Brady Bunch.

      Perhaps Boomers could be referred to as Beaver Cleavers, and Joneses could be referred to as Brady Bunchers.

      Reply
        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          There should be an “r” in there. Brady Bunchers. With an “r” right before the “s”.

          Anyway, it is just a humorous suggestion, to go somewhere or nowhere as it will.

          Reply
  26. Wukchumni

    What is needed in politics is not the ability to lie but rather the sensibility to know when, where, how and to whom to say things.

    Václav Havel

    Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        A 1992 article written before the perfect divorce from Slovakia, and the prosperity and comeback of the Czech Republic since then started under the leadership of Havel, seems out of date.

        Reply
        1. Carolinian

          Honestly I have no opinion on Havel….just passing along.

          Cockburn, of course, is no longer with us.

          Reply
  27. McWatt

    As I travel rural areas I can tell when a town is in trouble by looking for the Dollar store or the Payday Loan store. If they have both, there has to be a Walmart within 20 miles.

    Reply
    1. petal

      Our dollar store is literally right next door to the walmart in the same plaza. The payday loan/car title place is a straight 2 miles from there.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      At this point practically every small town in America has a dollar store and payday lender (if legal in that state). Walmart?–not necessarily. In fact Dollar General explicitly says that their goal is to be in towns too small for a Walmart.

      Lots of Walmarts share a shopping plaza with Dollar Tree. Perhaps there is some sort of real estate relationship.

      BTW when I lived in NYC there were quite a few “everything a dollar” stores. Maybe that’s no longer true.

      Reply
  28. dcblogger

    wow, international opposition to Trump is getting serious

    Opinion
    Trade sanctions against America won’t work. Sanctioning Trump himself might.
    Scott Gilmore: Instead of taxing American goods, Canada and the western allies should collectively pressure the only pain point that matters to this President: his family and their assets

    Reply
  29. VietnamVet

    Water Cooler is becoming confounding. An old meme was that the less than 1% seized control. If given the chance, citizens would vote for sovereignty and against globalization – Italy, UK and USA. Politicians and corporate managers are bought and paid for.

    If so, then what the heck is happening? It looks like Italy got a populist government, after all, that will tussle against EU’s inequality. The USA is shooting itself in both feet. Boeing lost a 39 billion dollar Iranian contract. That is real money and real jobs. Not to the mention the possibility of the little world war in Syria expanding into Iran. A tariff war started today with Canada and the EU. Perhaps, SNL is correct. Donald Trump is Tony Soprano without New Jersey moxey. We are witnesses to an oligarch mob war to determine who is the global top dog. But, if that is the case, then the Democrats are totally out of it blaming the Russians for their travails and Republicans are crazy enablers.

    Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      The global 1% are all on the same side.

      They believe they have one enemy, and that is poor people. Whatever they do, the plan is to keep them poor, and uninformed.

      The real enemy is global catastrophic climate change caused by human activity. If the rich had a lick of sense, everyone would have a new job: sequester carbon.

      Vertical farms, aquaponics, wind/solar energy, localization of all production, elimination of long-distance trade. All the things that could return some bit of harmony to the interaction between humans and the ecosystem.

      None of this will be done of course. The rules of the capitalist religion is that you acquire more pieces of paper with numbers on them because you have to have more of them.

      Peter Joseph on Jimmy Dore – This is all the clips put into one segment (I wish The Real News did this)

      Did I do the link right?

      Reply
  30. ewmayer

    o The Bezzle: “Tesla Model 3 Gets CR Recommendation After Braking Update” — Wake me when TSLA finally does the right thing (or when the government finally does the right thing by forcing them to) by disabling its horrific Autopilot via an OTA.

    o Tech: ‘Microsoft is creating an oracle for catching biased AI algorithms” [MIT Technology Review (JB)] — But can the ‘oracle’ detect its own biases? IOW, who’s watching the watcher?

    o Tech: “ForwardX raises $10 million for AI-powered luggage that follows you” [VentureBeat] — Will that auto-follow tech also handle one’s emotional baggage?

    Reply
  31. audrey jr

    On CR giving the ‘green light’ to Tesla: I was literally in the middle of writing checks for the month and saw CR’s re-review of their Tesla recommendation. I was going to renew my CR subscription but the Tesla deal with CR changed my mind for me.
    I do have a check for Lambert and one for Yves, though.
    On Obama: He is a total tool. And he ain’t the sharpest one in the shed, either. I vividly remember JLS’s comments about her time in law school with that man.
    I still think that “The Audacity” would have been the right title for his book.
    And I’ll wager a whole lot of Chigacoans would agree with me.

    Reply
  32. allan

    [Reuters]

    A small group of workers at Boeing Co’s (BA.N) South Carolina jetliner factory voted Thursday to unionize but the planemaker announced it would challenge the legality of the bargaining unit.

    The 104-65 vote to join the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers comes one year after Boeing defeated a high-profile and much broader union drive in a state where the laws do not favor organized labor. …

    Boeing had asked the National Labor Relations Board last week to stop the vote, calling the proposed bargaining unit of 176 workers “an artificially gerrymandered sub-set of employees.” …

    A corporate funder of ALEC complains about “gerrymandering”.
    Irony died and is stuck in the rear bathroom of a 737-MAX.

    Reply
  33. Altandmain

    Re: Obama and his despondency on Trump’s election

    Obama failed to deliver:

    1. A Second New Deal
    2. Holding the Wall Street bankers responsible
    3. Actually standing up for the common citizen (as opposed to Wall Street)
    4. Ending the wars abroad (he intensified the drone assassinations)

    He deserves as much responsibility as anyone else does for Trump.

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      He doesn’t see it yet but when the history books are written, they are going to be very cruel about his eight years as President. He will be judged a failure right across the board and they are going to dissect his character mercilessly. What is worse for him is that they will judge him by another President who came to power in similar circumstances – FDR – and the comparison will be stark and bleak. It was his Presidency, after all, that left America with a choice between Trump and Hillary in 2016 and no amount of PR work will be able to polish that turd.

      Reply
  34. Goyo Marquez

    This is pretty good, I’m sure it’s been linked before, it’s from 2015, but it’s new to me.

    What’s interesting about it to me is how the narrative of my adult life, high school class of 1977, has basically been a lie.

    We were told, and some propagandists even on these pages continue to insist, the problem with the 70s was inflation and the OPEC oil embargo. I’ve always asked in response to that narrative, what was the horribleness that resulted from 70s inflation, cause I dont remember it.

    My two working class parents bought a house in1976 and had paid it off before the 80s was over.

    My wife and I attended UCLA for something less than $2,000 a year tuition. My wife worked as a bookkeeper for a lady who owed a few properties, she’d been an actress at one time. My wife was paid something like $10 per hour, which was awesome in those days, for about 8 hours of work a week and it was enough to pay for her dorm and all you can eat in the cafeteria plan.

    My law school tuition at UCLA was something like $4,000 per year.

    Well I can see how the members of certain classes might remember those thing with horror, but from the standpoint of a couple working class kids, everything was awesome.

    The chart has some interesting numbers:
    DJIA, from $6000 in the 60s to $3000 in the 70s, no wonder they wanted us to think the sky was falling. Our families didn’t own any stocks so that may explain why we were oblivious to it.

    Median household income
    41000 in the 60s,
    46000 in the 70s
    46000 in the 80s

    And there you have it. What people want to blame on the horrible inflation of the 70s was really an entire program, propaganda, think tanks, legislative agenda, politics, designed to make sure the little bits of the good life all us working class stiffs had been enjoying were returned to their rightful owners. All in the name of fighting inflation, and the balanced budget, and the evil Rooskies, and excessive government regulation.

    As my dad liked to say during the last couple of decades of his life, “We’re being had.”

    Reply
  35. Edward E

    FMCSA allowing drivers hours flexibility in finding parking

    Well this is kinda good until… someone runs over somebody while looking for parking after the hours of service expired. Oh, thought I could park here, can’t, let’s what we can find down this way and that way and this way…

    Gonna start a truckload company called ‘Roseanne Barred for Israeli PM’

    Reply
  36. Oregoncharles

    Update: M5S and Lega have formed a new government with a different finance minister, which apparently has been approved.

    From Gnews, but I don’t see the link now.

    Reply
  37. WheresOurTeddy

    re: 2020

    we told you Bernie or Bust 2 years ago. 2020 is a different year, but it’s the same tune.

    Will not vote for a neoliberal under any circumstances. Ever.

    Reply

Leave a Reply