2:00PM Water Cooler 6/7/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Trade

“Trump Pressures GOP Allies to Block Restrictions on Tariff Power” []. “Senate Republicans are under intense White House pressure to quash a bipartisan attempt to curtail President Donald Trump’s authority to impose tariffs on national security grounds, as he did last week when he slapped duties on steel and aluminum imports from some of the U.S.’s closest allies.”

Politics

2020

Family values:

Sanders on not endorsing his son, who is running for Congress in NH:

“Levi has spent his life in service to low income and working families, and I am very proud of all that he has done. In our family, however, we do not believe in dynastic politics.”

— Edward-Isaac Dovere (@IsaacDovere)

2018

“Democrats are totally blowing it” []. “[I]t’s not just that institutional Democrats seem to have lost their 2017 fighting spirit this year — the president is also benefiting from normalcy. Despite the ugly, bewildering spectacle of rage, incoherence, and abuse staged by the president on his Twitter machine every day, the world is still spinning. And that’s because despite all the president’s bluster, the policy status quo from 2016 remains almost completely untouched. Despite instigating what are thus far minor spats with Mexico, Canada, and the EU, the Trump administration has not actually started trade wars that could unravel the underlying arrangements of the World Trade Organization or disrupt business for more than a few industries.” And we’re not at war, either, or are at war no more than Obama was (less, if you count Libya). However, I don’t agree with the writer on the “the policy status quo.” In fact, the Administration has been very effective in picking judges, rolling back rules and regulations, sabotaging via appointment, and getting Democrats to line up with them on key pieces of legislation, like undoing Dodd-Frank. We experience the status quo as more or less the same — possibly not if we’re immigrants, but all the liberal yammering ignores that Obama was terrible, too — but that’s because the effects of the changes haven’t kicked in yet (or can be attributed to the slow crapification of everything, and not to the administration, like health insurance prices).

“A Strong Economy Presents Democrats with a Challenge in the Midterms” [John Cassify, ]. “Democrats will also have to contend with Republican efforts to distract from Trump’s manifest unfitness for office. It’s now clear that these efforts will focus on the economy. Democrats will need to hone their economic message, too—not as a substitute for attacking Trump but as a supplement to it. At the local level, many Democratic candidates are already doing this effectively, talking about issues like wages, childcare, the G.O.P.’s attack on Medicaid and Medicare, and how Republicans slanted their tax bill toward the ultra-rich. That is the best way to expose the hypocrisy of Trump and the Republicans. Now it’s up to Democrats at the national level to hammer home the same message.” Lol no.

VA: “Virginia’s Busiest Federal Primary Day in Modern History” []. “With nine contested U.S. House primaries and one U.S. Senate primary, June 12 will be the busiest federal primary day in Virginia’s modern history, surpassing the seven total contests held in 2012 (one Senate, six House)…. Six Democrats are running for the right to face Rep. Barbara Comstock (R, VA-10), one of the most endangered Republican House incumbents in the country. Four of the Democrats seem to have at least some chance of winning the nomination. Comstock is a prodigious fundraiser and has a history of outpacing the partisan lean of districts she has represented, but the district’s Democratic shifts in 2016 and 2017 show why she is one of the Democrats’ foremost targets in 2018. Democratic primaries in VA-2 and VA-7 will determine the nominees to face two other potentially endangered Republican incumbents: Reps. Scott Taylor (R) and Dave Brat (R), respectively. The other contested primaries for the House are unlikely to alter the general election outlook in their respective districts.”

CA: “After their apparent success in California, Democrats can come close to retaking the House majority just by sweeping away the last remaining Republicans in otherwise Democratic-leaning states” [The Atlantic]. But it’s always been “close.” But the outcome depends on individual districts (knowable, with a level of effort) and their relevant “investor blocs” (not knowable, except well after the fact). “pending the final vote counts that may stretch on for weeks, it appears likely that the Democrats weren’t shut out in any California House seats, including the three targets in Orange County. That result is a testament, in part, to the extraordinary efforts by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and state party leaders to weed out second-tier candidates, rally behind one contender, and weaken targeted Republicans. But the outcome also reflected the party’s underlying growth in the five Republican-held suburban House districts around Los Angeles where Clinton beat Trump in 2016.” That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it. Brownstein:Democrats::Johnny Fontane:The Godfather.

CA: “If Democrats want a blue wave, they need to try voting” []. “[The Republicans, an] ever-shrinking political minority scored an outsize success on Tuesday. With just a quarter of the state’s registered voters, Republicans won a spot in the gubernatorial runoff against Gavin Newsom in November and recalled a Democratic state senator, effectively crushing Democrats’ hope of regaining a supermajority in that house — all while their candidates easily finished first in the seven Republican-held congressional districts that Democrats had targeted for flipping. Democrats were lucky they weren’t shut out of the November election in any of those races. It was a real possibility. How did Republicans pull off such a feat? It’s simple: They voted. Registered Republicans (along with those who may be Republican in spirit, if not party affiliation) simply cast ballots in greater numbers than Democrats and their liberal allies.” So the enthusiasm gap is not where the pom-pom wavers predicted it would be…

CA: “The Feinstein Problem” []. “While California is heavily and increasingly Democratic, it isn’t terribly progressive. The electorate, as FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone wrote, is dominated by white voters and relatively well-to-do homeowners rather than the voters of color and renters that might boost more left-leaning candidates. Tuesday’s results suggest Feinstein really is, as her supporters say, a candidate who reflects the current preferences of the Democratic electorate in the state of California. That fact does not fundamentally resolve, though, the question of whether it is good for the Democratic Party—and for a country whose democratic institutions are already wildly and intentionally unrepresentative of the population by age—that a 26-year incumbent, who will end her likely next term at the age of 91, will be returning to the United States Senate.” Start out with “white voters and well-to-do homeowners” vs. “voters of color and renters” and ends up with “unrepresentative of the population by age.” It’s like playing with demographic categories. Left-Handed 52 Pickup, I suppose.

UPDATE NY: Same old, same old:

Surprise, surprise: last-minute pollsite changes in concentrated communities of color are being announced in NY-14, just ahead of the June 26th Democratic primary.

Oh, and who‘s the Queens Party Chairman appointing this kind of leadership?

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“House Dems seethe over superdelegates plan” []. “The first proposal — a product of the “Unity Reform Commission” established at the 2016 convention to “revise and reduce” the role of superdelegates — would create three categories of superdelegates. Some superdelegates would be allowed to vote in the first roll-call vote for the presidential nominee, while others would not. However, Perez warned members that this proposal wouldn’t win enough backing to be adopted at the August DNC session. The second option, which Perez supports and which appears far more likely to be enacted, would allow superdelegates to continue to exist, but they couldn’t vote during the first round of the presidential roll-call vote. They could, however, vote during the second round or any subsequent roll call, and they would still be permitted to support any candidate they wanted.”

“Bill Clinton’s Lewinsky fail is a symptom of something bigger: Democrats’ lack of integrity” []. “This is a story about the Democrats’ culture of impunity — one where they assert the moral high ground as they go after Trump while also claiming that they have no accountability whatsoever for their own ethical failings. This twisted logic has created a real ethical quagmire. The harsh reality is that Bill and Hillary Clinton, along with the leadership of the Democratic National Committee, have long engaged in moral double-speak, where they are quick to blame their opponents for a lack of integrity but unwilling to practice integrity themselves.”

“I’ve got to comment on the statement by Mulvaney’s henchman that ‘The outspoken members of the Consumer Advisory Board seem more concerned about protecting their taxpayer funded junkets to Washington, D.C., and being wined and dined by the Bureau than protecting consumers’ []. “What’s remarkable here is that Mulvaney’s flunky believes that people serve in government or on advisory boards for the perks and self-enrichment. In a world of Pruitt’s first class flights, mattress, and security detail, Carson’s dining room set, and Mnuchin and his Marie Antoinette jaunting off to see the eclipse on a military flight, not to mention the President and his emoluments tax-payer-funded vacations at his Mar-a-Lago timeshare, well, it’s just natural to assume that’s how everyone operates. It’s a new twist on ‘government for the people.’ It’s really sad that it doesn’t enter the Mulvaney’s dude’s head that maybe some of us actually act out of true volunteerism and a desire to make the country a better place.” Granted, Mulvaney’s flunky is projecting. But the Democrats have given him plenty of cause to project.

“Bad Faith and Worse Hairstyles” []. “[A]s Sartre pointed out, one of the great longings most people have is the desire to be something the way a rock is a rock, to get out from under the terrifying burden of freedom that’s hardwired into human consciousness. People use religion, politics, ethnicity, gender, and a vast array of other things as resources in that attempt to flee from their own freedom, to convince themselves that they are what they are and aren’t responsible for the choices that have made them what they’ve chosen to be. Sartre’s term for this cascade of evasions is as simple as it is useful: ‘bad faith.’ The essence of bad faith is the habit of claiming some enduring identity that doesn’t depend on the accidents of circumstance or the free and constantly repeated choices of the self. Normally, since the lure of bad faith is strongest to those who are most dissatisfied with what they are but don’t have the courage to embrace their freedom and change it, the supposed identity people choose in an act of bad faith is usually very, very far from the identity they’ve defined by their past choices and actions. Seen in isolation, as a mere verbal abstraction, that seems harmless enough, but there’s a catch. It’s a curious fact of history that the deeper people get into bad faith, the more likely they are to commit atrocities. There’s a reason for that propensity, too, and understanding it will take us a good step closer to the unmentionable realities of our time.” And speaking of bad faith–

UPDATE “Black women candidates feel slighted by Democrats” []. “There are at least 43 Democratic black women running as challengers for U.S. House seats, but only one — Lauren Underwood of Illinois — has the backing of the national campaign organization.” Remember all the liberal Democrats yammering “Listen to black women!” after they beat a child molester in Alabama by less than 2%? I guess the listening had strict limits…. Of course, I regard Democrat national campaign organizations as a blight and a curse, so being backed by them isn’t necessarily a good thing, but the virtue signaling! It b-u-r-r-r-n-s!!!! And speaking of bad faith–

UPDATE “Manchin goes full MAGA” []. “At times, Manchin was the only Democrat who clapped during Trump’s State of the Union address. This spring, Manchin killed liberals’ hopes of blocking Gina Haspel for CIA director by getting behind her early. Manchin supported Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, voted for now-embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and even backed the president’s hard-line immigration proposal. ‘I’m with him sometimes more than other Republican senators are with him,” Manchin said.” But Bernie’s not even a Democrat….

* * *

“Jack Lew blasts Trump on economy: ‘You do the hard work, and someone else spends it on their priorities'” (interview) []. “[LEW:] [Y]ou can look back at the track record in the Clinton years and the track record in the Obama years, they were years of fiscal responsibility because we left in place a sustainable fiscal position and time to deal with some of the longer-term challenges in a bipartisan way MR SUBLIMINAL Grand Bargain.

UPDATE “Democrats Vow to Bring Back Stupid and Harmful Spending Rule if They Win Back the House” []. “the top two Democrats in the House, minority leader Nancy Pelosi and minority whip Steny Hoyer, are already saying that they’d adopt a ‘pay as you go’ rule, which vows not to pass legislation that increases the deficit without offsetting it in spending cuts or tax increases within a given ‘budget window.’ The conservative Blue Dog* caucus pressured Pelosi into adopting this rule during her reign as speaker from 2007 to 2010, and then Barack Obama into signing a version of it into law the year before most of them were swept out of Congress. (As Chris Hayes noted in 2009, pay-as-you-go very notably exempted funding the Iraq War. How convenient!) How did Republicans get their $1.5 trillion tax cut past this legislation, you might ask? They passed a waiver. What did Republicans do when they passed the Bush era tax cuts? They waived it. Because the Democratic leadership is perpetually campaigning for the endorsement of both Simpson and Bowles, they now want to bring this terrible rule back. A Pelosi spokesperson told the Hill that ‘Democrats are committed to pay as you go,’ while Hoyer reportedly told the Hill last week that it’s ‘a good rule and we ought to reinstitute it.'” Liberal Democrats are why we can’t have nice things. NOTE * The DCCC is working hard to elect more Blue Dogs, exactly as Rahm Emmanuel did in 2006, so it’s not like the “pressure” comes from anywhere other than the liberal Democrat leadership. I’m not sure whether they genuinely believe this nonsense, or they’re servicing the donor class, or they enjoy kicking the poor and the working class. Could be all three, of course!

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, week of June 2, 2018: “Jobless claims remain very low and are consistent with a low unemployment rate and strong job growth” [].

Quarterly Services Survey, Q1 2018: “Information sector revenue for the first quarter of 2018 was $413.2 billion, up 1.7 percent from the fourth quarter. Year-on-year, information sector revenue grew 7.0 percent in the first quarter” [].

Capital Investment: “Healthy Gains in Combined U.S. & Canadian Industrial Spending” []. “Research by Industrial Reports, Inc. shows combined U.S. and Canadian planned capital spending increased 38 percent in May compared to April. May spending for the two nations totaled $43.65 billion compared to April’s $31.50 billion. The research organization reported 264 planned U.S. and Canadian projects in May. Planned U.S. project spending nearly doubled in May with $36.06 billion in planned investment compared to the April total of $19.60 billion. Canadian planned investment slipped 36 percent to $7.59 billion in May from April’s $11.90 billion. Projects in both nations ranged in value from $1 million to $9 billion.”

Commodities: “America’s Largest Private Company Reboots a 153-Year-Old Strategy” []. “That business model of playing the middleman between farmers and their ultimate customers has enjoyed a lucrative 153-year run, turning Cargill Inc. into the largest privately held company in the U.S. It had revenue of $109.7 billion in 2017 and employed about 155,000 workers—more than the population of Dayton—in offices across 70 countries. And the roughly 100 members of the founding Cargill and MacMillan families who still own the company have become fabulously wealthy, with 14 billionaires among the ruling clan, one of the largest concentrations of wealth in any family-controlled business anywhere in the world…. [But] Cargill long made fat profits by having far more information about global commodity prices than the local farmers it negotiated with or the food companies it sold to. But today, even a small Iowa farmer with a smartphone or a tablet can get real-time data about weather conditions and prices facing his Brazilian counterparts. This change has decreased farmers’ dependence on the middlemen and lowered the spread….”

Banks: “Their bakery faced a cash crisis. The solution nearly cost them the business.” []. “The couple turned to two online companies that promised them all the cash they needed in a matter of days. That speed came at a cost. They received $133,000 and were on the hook for paying back a total of $193,000 – roughly one-and-a-half times what they had taken out. And the companies providing the funding, Can Capital and Yellowstone Capital, were given direct access to Bunnie Cakes’ bank account; they sucked out a portion of the bakery’s receipts each day until the full amount was repaid – in a matter of months, not years. Yellowstone and Can are among the most prominent providers of online loans and so-called merchant cash advances that are increasingly popular with small businesses. Unfortunately, a growing number of small business owners who have turned to these largely unregulated suppliers of capital have also filed for bankruptcy in the past five years, particularly in Florida. Call them payday loans for your corner grocer.”

The Bezzle: “‘Driver readiness’ and the rise of autonomous vehicles” []. “As demonstrated by recent collisions involving autonomous vehicles, drivers must remain vigilant and ready to take control of the vehicle at any moment. ‘Driver readiness’—the state of drivers being aware of surroundings and able to respond if needed—is paramount to successfully operating an autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicle, and video-based safety plays a pivotal role in ensuring driver readiness.” Remaining hyper-vigilant while not actually doing anything sounds like a pleasurable driving experience, to be sure. And note, therefore, that all the “convenience” benefits of robot cars only apply when Level 5 kicks in, if in fact it ever does. Until then, you shouldn’t yammer on your cellphone while not-driving-yet-remaining-hyperfocused-on-the-road, any more than you should while actually driving. Idea: Take the train, where you don’t have to remain vigilant except for the station stop announcement?

The Bezzle: “Musk Fails to Quell Safety Doubts with Head-Scratching Data” []. “The rate of injuries per person at Tesla is 6% below industry average so far this year, after being “a little bit above” average last year, the chief executive officer said during the company’s annual meeting Tuesday. It’s difficult to assess Musk’s comments without more detail, according to David Michaels, who served as U.S. assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration under Obama….. ‘Injury rates are complex, and so it’s difficult to judge on the basis of a statement saying it’s 6% lower,’ Michaels, who’s now a professor at George Washington University’s public health school, said in an interview. ‘I’d want to see the rates, but also the data on which they’re based.'”

The Bezzle: “Shanghai will host Tesla’s first car plant outside the US, official says” []. I wonder if there will be suicide netting.

Infrastructure: “How Long Can a State Go Without Repairing Roads and Bridges?” []. This is a very good article focused on state and local politics in Mississippi. “[L]awmakers came tantalizingly close to a road improvement package. A week or so after they failed to pass a fix-up plan, Gov. Phil Bryant announced that the state Transportation Department would immediately shut down 83 locally owned bridges. Federal inspectors had found that the bridges — most of which were built with timber parts and located in rural areas — were deficient and unsafe for vehicular traffic. Since then, more bridges have been added to the list. All told, some 500 across the state are out of service.”

Five Horsemen: “All of the Fab Five are down today, as punters are seized with a sudden fear that the irrational exuberance may have gone too far” [Hat Tip, Jim Haygood].

Five Horsemen June 7 2018

NakedCap Mania-Panic Index: “Yesterday’s market romp propelled the mania-panic index higher to 69 (complacency)” [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 June 6 2018

Health Care

“Feds, For Now, Won’t Block States From Circumventing Trump’s Obamacare Cuts” []. “Federal officials will not block insurance companies from again using a workaround to cushion a steep rise in health premiums caused by President Donald Trump’s cancellation of a program established under the Affordable Care Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Wednesday. The technique — called ‘silver loading’ because it pushed price increases onto the silver-level plans in the ACA marketplaces — was used by many states for 2018 policies. But federal officials had hinted they might bar the practice next year.” More on “silver loading” at NC here.

“Bezos, Buffett and Dimon find the person they want to fix health care” []. But they’re going to spin out the suspense and tell us who the person is in two weeks. But this:

Some employees have asked Dimon what the partnership means for them. His response: “We’re just going to try to do it better.”

“And you should expect we’re going to do it the right way with the same kind of heart we’ve had before, which will improve your lives and improve your wellness, improve the outcomes, give you more choice, which I believe you if you do all those things, it will effectively be cheaper,” he said. “And you’ll have much healthier employees.”

“[T]he same kind of heart we’ve had before.” Why am I not reassured?

And the “fix” that Bezos, Buffet, Dimon, and the dominant factions in the political class are trying hard to stop:

How can you spot a fake single-payer plan? Use this checklist from to determine if the latest proposal passes the test

— West Suburban IL DSA (@WestSuburbILDSA)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“A Reparations Map for Farmers of Color May Help Right Historical Wrongs” []. “Many organizations and individuals have called for —financial payments made today to help make good on the systemic injustices of the past 400 years—as a way to begin to level the playing field and create equity. [Soul Fire Farm’s Leah Penniman’s] currently includes 52 organizations around the country led by farmers of color who are calling for reparations. The map details farmers in need of land, resources, and funding, and aims to connect them with organizations, foundations, and individual donors to support their work.” I’m too lazy to find the link, but I remember an incident from the Civil War podcast about (IIRC) the Union liberating one of the Sea Islands, and freeing the slaves who they then put to work as wage laborers, hoping to make the island a showcase. The former slaves, sadly, had expected land, on which they would grow their own crops. Maybe the great missed opportunity of Reconstruction was land reform. General William Tecumseh Sherman was not a nice man, but maybe would have been exactly the right thing, and would have disempowered the planter class more effectively than hanging them all (my previously preferred alternative to what actually happened).

Class Warfare

“The New Yorker Staff Has Unionized” []. “The era of white-collar organized labor is fully upon us: the editorial staff of The New Yorker wants to unionize. This morning, organizers sent a letter to the magazine’s editor, David Remnick, asking that the institution and its corporate owner, Condé Nast, voluntarily recognize their membership in the . (Publications ranging from the New York Times to Jacobin have bargaining units with the NewsGuild.) Organizers say that of the 115 or so union-eligible employees, nearly 90 percent have signed union cards.”

What are their demands:

We’re proud to announce that the editorial staff of has formed a union with . Say hello to !

— The New Yorker Union (@newyorkerunion)

“The Class Struggle According to Donald Trump” [Thomas Edsall, ]. “The end of labor-management détente — and the emergence of a merciless assault by business and the Republican Party on workers’ pay, security and bargaining strength — have been especially cruel to workers without college degrees.” Let’s not forget NAFTA! To be fair, Obama got the unions card-check. Oh, wait….

“The gig economy is actually smaller than it used to be, Labor Department says” []. “In May 2017, the Labor Department counted 5.9 million people, or 3.8% of workers, in what it calls contingent jobs, which are those that the workers don’t expect to last or that workers call temporary. In 2005, the last time the government looked into the issue, there were 4.1% of workers who classified themselves this way. Other classifications of these kinds of alternative arrangements either declined or stayed the same.” Big if true.

News of The Wired

“Caffeine dosing strategies to optimize alertness during sleep loss” []. News you can use! Which unfortunately I cannot summarize.

“Overtaxed Working Memory Knocks the Brain Out of Sync” []. “In 1956, the renowned cognitive psychologist George Miller published one of the field’s most widely cited papers, “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two.” In it, he argued that although the brain can store a whole lifetime of knowledge in its trillions of connections, the number of items that humans can actively hold in their conscious awareness at once is limited, on average, to seven…. In a paper published in Cerebral Cortex in March, three scientists found that a significant weakening in “back” signals between different parts of the brain is responsible for the breakdown. The work not only provides insights into memory function and dysfunction, but also offers further evidence for a burgeoning theory of how the brain processes information.” Do we have any neuroscientists in the readership who can comment?

“The Slow Death of the Shopping Plaza” []. I went into the Bangor Mall yesterday (and the day before; long story) to activate my contract phone; Macy’s was already gone, Sears is gone (and it was the most depressing retail environment I’ve ever been in). The one anchor tenant left: JC Penney, which seemed alive, if not actually thriving. Walking through the mall, I saw that the food court was gone. Starbucks was gone. Many of the store-fronts were closed. The environment was dim and vaguely unclean. What’s going to happen to the enormous empty spaces that were Sears and Macy’s? What’s going to happen to the ginormous impermeable surface of the empty parking lots?

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Readers, feel free to me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (pq):

pq writes: “NC’s botany knowledge base is impressive! Thank you to everyone who identified the 5/25 Plant as a sycamore. With a little research, I learned that its massive root system makes it the No. 1 recommended tree for preventing riverbank erosion in this flood-prone region of Upstate New York. Having fled Seattle not long ago, I need a crash course in the native flora. NC comments motivated me to venture out for a closer look, now that the river has dropped. It indeed appears that our tree ‘knows’ to send roots inward toward the bank (and down, of course). BTW, this tree is small — a mere teenager in a long line of wise elders.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

116 comments

  1. Jim Haygood

    Doom approaches for One-Term Trump, according to the magazine cover indicator. This Time cover is a doozy … not only for its image of Trump posing with his gold plastic Burger King crown, but also inflammatory subheads such as “Visions of Absolute Power” and “Trump vs. the Constitution.” Now that’s some serious hyperbole! Image:

    Historically, making the cover of Time means your 15 minutes of fame are over, and you’re about to be cast head-first into history’s dustbin. Expect some serious lèse-majesté at the G7 summit in Toronto, with the six hostile foreign dwarves lined up unanimously against our tiny-handed monarch.

    1. Rob P

      >Historically, making the cover of Time means your 15 minutes of fame are over, and you’re about to be cast head-first into history’s dustbin.

      Not sure this works with Trump, there’s been a lot of false-positives so far.

    2. The Rev Kev

      If Robert Graves was still around and writing he might have entitled that image as “I, Trump”. Actually when I think what happened in the end of Grave’s book “I, Claudius”, it almost seems fitting for him. I only hope that Grave’s sequel is also not pertinent to Trump

        1. The Rev Kev

          Both books have an honoured position on my bookshelves. The TV version with Derek Jacobi wasn’t bad either. Hmmm. “Trump the God”. It does have a ring to it.

    3. JTMcPhee

      So are we NCers, or any of us, also rooting for the Blob, daily kos et al. to rid us of this troublesome usurper, and elevate Preacher Pence to the Imperial throne?

      1. ambrit

        Such yearnings lead to ruin. If we let the Praetorian Guard depose Emperor Trump and elevate Pence the Pretender to the Purple, we will have thrown away the Republic once and for all.

  2. Tim

    ““‘Driver readiness’ and the rise of autonomous vehicles..drivers must remain vigilant and ready to take control of the vehicle at any moment.”

    Psychologists have already been saying for years this is impossible for the human brain, it’s way too efficient in its adaptation to experiences to let you remain vigilant when 99.999999% of the time things keep going ok.

    I will not “drive” an autonomous car until it comes with no steering wheel. Being held liable for millions of years of evolutionary progress isn’t my thing.

      1. paul

        “The carmaker contends that the consumer of the vehicle failed to exercise due vigilance, and respectfully asks the court to compel him to compensate his tragic victim in full”

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          This kind of problem should be publicised as widely and loudly as possible, to encourage the widest possible self-preservation avoidance of semi-robo cars by savvy customers.

          Surely the “top 10 per centers” are smart enough AND leisure-time-endowed enough to think their way through all the implications of this ” its the helpless non-driver’s fault!” approach by the semi-robo car companies. And as long as the Ten Per Cent refuses to buy Robocars, those among the Lower 90 who look to the Ten Per Cent as the “Joneses to keep up with” . . . will also refuse to buy Robocars.

          So Robocar-skeptics and Robocar-opponents should really shove this into every Ten Per Center ear canal and jam this into every Ten Per Center eyeball.

    1. Patrick

      Same old same old promises of technology:
      “our new innovation will make the world safer, more efficient, and more enjoyable, trust us!”

      until the unforeseen arises (that which demonstrates the fragility of the promise, or exposes the gaps between what was promised and what can actually be delivered), at which point:
      “sorry, it’s now your responsibility, you are on your own…”

  3. dcblogger

    I went into the Bangor Mall yesterday (and the day before; long story) to activate my contract phone; Macy’s was already gone, Sears is gone (and it was the most depressing retail environment I’ve ever been in). The one anchor tenant left: JC Penney, which seemed alive, if not actually thriving. Walking through the mall, I saw that the food court was gone. Starbucks was gone. Many of the store-fronts were closed. The environment was dim and vaguely unclean. What’s going to happen to the enormous empty spaces that were Sears and Macy’s? What’s going to happen to the ginormous impermeable surface of the empty parking lots?

    co-operatives!
    not necessarily retail, but any sort of business.
    the parking lots can be remade into skateboard parks.

    1. Wukchumni

      I’d guess that malls will turn into ad hoc swap meets eventually, once they’ve run off the anchor stores, et al.

    2. RUKIdding

      Isn’t ICE using them to house kids ripped from their parents who are illegally attempting enter the USA? Keeping the kids in cages behind locked doors and windows, while not permitting access to US Senators (who, in fact, get the cops called on them: hey listen, this is a Police State, in case you didn’t notice).

      Sounds like the decaying mall in Bangor will suit ICE to the ground.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        In Japan, seniors purposely commit crimes in order to go to prison, to be housed in barred cells.

        From Businessinsider ():

        Intentionally getting arrested isn’t necessarily unique to Japan. In the United States, for example, there have been cases of people deliberately getting locked up to gain access to healthcare, avoid harsh weather conditions, or force themselves to quit a drug habit

        .

        Avoid harsh weather conditions by being jailed in a giant warehouse.

        The problem is deeper and wider.

        1. Wukchumni

          In the amazing book by Barry Broadfoot entitled Ten Lost Years, he traveled all over Canada in the early 1970’s, recording oral histories of individual Canadians ala Studs Terkel, and sorry Studs, you were a 2nd rate collector compared to Barry’s prowess.

          In one of the tales, a fellow on the police dept in a bigger town related that just after the first frost of the year in the fall, a fellow threw a brick through the plate glass window of the police department, earning him 6 months in jail, as he’d hoped, and then the next year right after the first frost, he did it again and another 6 month stint in the all bar motel. The 3rd year they were ready for him and nabbed him before he could let loose with another missile, ha!

    3. L

      I’ve actually been avoiding malls by design. Its not because I like Amazon but rather because my local malls are all a boring drive, and even more tedious parking hunt, away from where I want to be. And they are fully stocked with chain stores that deliver fast fashion that I don’t particularly need. I still end up at the box stores like Target and Costco but I generally avoid malls. Instead I’ve made a conscious decision to spend my retail dollars on more local places and on more neighborhood shopping. Mall trips have become a necessity not a desire.

      1. Adam Eran

        The opportunity embodied in dead/dying malls is to make them “lifestyle centers.” These integrate residences into the commercial environment, possibly consuming some of that ocean of asphalt in the parking lot. Lifestyle centers are good for the elderly (fasting growing demographic: 85+-year-olds), who can walk to shopping, meals or entertainment. This cuts vehicle miles traveled and turns out to be more profitable (says Wikipedia). It also turns an auto destination into a potential transit stop, when configured with enough housing, making transit viable rather than the subsidized red-headed-stepchild it is in most sprawl.

        So…I say lemonade, not lemons!

    4. Carla

      I think our dead malls should be turned into plastics recycling plants, especially now that China won’t take our recyclables anymore. My better half said “That’s a really dirty business.” I wonder if that’s true in Sweden and other Scandinavian countries, or if they’re managed to integrate recycling facilities into livable environments.

    5. Pavel

      I’d like to think all those parking lots would be turned into urban micro-farms. It would take a bit of work to convert them but raised-bed farming (as done in Cuba, I believe) and with other technology…

      There are now vertical farms in Bangkok in otherwise unused office buildings. I passed through BKK the other month and the hotel was serving locally-produced organic, hydroponic lettuce.

      I was in with a young, progressive mayoral candidate in one of the USA’s grittiest, most violent, drug-infested cities a year or two ago. I suggested she campaign on not locking up any kids for non-violent crimes in return for working e.g. 12 months on an urban micro-farm. What could be more logical, or cost-effective? Turn the vacant lots in the slums into farms, and teach the kids a bit of work ethic. (Easier said than done, mind you.)

      PS: re “not locking up kids” I’m thrilled to see @CynthiaNixon on blasting Cuomo for NY’s horrific prison population statistics.

    6. The Rev Kev

      For what it is worth, go onto YouTube and punch in the search term ‘malls abandoned’ and see what comes back. There is video after video of these things and they make for sad viewing. No word yet if there was ever a Ozymandias Mall.

    7. drumlin woodchuckles

      What will happen to the empty mega-mall buildings? Well . . . they COULD be filled up with hundreds or thousands of mini-merchants and/or micro-merchants inside their mini-stalls or micro-stalls. In effect, the ex-malls could become souks.

      1. CB

        was tried along rt 130 in Willingboro NJ, repeatedly and over yrs. didn’t work, repeatedly and over yrs. after how ever many yrs and attempts, the municipal bright lights got the point, you can’t go back, and moved ahead. ever so much better.

    8. lyman alpha blob

      I don’t know if it would have to come through zoning or some other mechanism, but I would like to see all developers have to sign some sort of clause before they are allowed to build on undeveloped land that says if the project goes belly up, either they or any future property owner are required to return the land to the way they found it. Demo the buildings and haul off the waste. Let the grass grow and butterflies fly.

      Rotting commercial and industrial zones are just another externality big companies get away with not paying for. Make them clean up their own mess. That might make them think twice about building huge mansions to house cheap crap nobody really needs in the first place.

      1. Adam Eran

        Currently, land speculators can purchase outlying (“greenfield”) agricultural land for a few thousand dollars an acre, then sell it for 50 – 100 times what they paid for it once they receive permission from local governments to develop it. That 5,000% – 10,000% gross profit is also not touched by income tax if they exchange out of it (to other, income-producing real estate like malls or apartments). … and you think we have the political will to hold the speculators responsible! Even the left coast passed Proposition 13 (with a massive $11 billion a year loophole for commercial property), limiting taxes on real estate, making speculation possible and insanely profitable.

        Sad, but true.

    9. Jen

      Local businesses. What strikes me about this piece, and the collapse of retail establishments across the board, is that they offer a generic experience. High end crap, low end crap, whatever. You could be in Maine or Indiana, or Oregon, and it’s all the same. Maybe this was enticing early on, but now? I’m sick of seeing the same layout eveywhere.

      I compare this a thriving local retail establishment. Farm Way, in Bradford Vermont, started out catering to exactly the population their name would suggest. Today, the local mad-lib is “I went to Farm Way to get ____, and I bought ____.” Literal example in my case: I went to Farm Way to get chicken , and I bought a sofa. They carry everything from livestock to Vera Bradley. It’s family owned. It’s not open on Sunday or holidays, and just keeps growing. Why? They give people a reason to go there, for both selection and customer service.

    10. JTMcPhee

      The model may not translate, and the original has been crapified and yuppified, but the Seattle Public Market at Pike Place might be lokoked to for inspiration. If one can clear out the rubble of ownership, bankruptcy thievery, and shoddy construction, and some really smart architecture, planning and community effort could somehow be brought to bear on how to subdivide and re-purpose the dead spaces. , and .

      There’s a bit of an international movement to “turn big box wastelands into market cities:”

      I put some effort into getting a retail flop covering an entire couple of blocks in downtown St Petersburg re-purposed into a public market, a few years ago. Some strong interest, but a local mortgages-for-military-veterans scam artist was allowed to buy the whole thing, originally assembled at about $40 million in public expense, for a couple of million, and now it’s yuppie central. Oh well.

    11. sierra7

      Turn them into indoor high intensity farms….also those with no lights….grow mushrooms.

  4. dcblogger

    It was Andrew Johnson who nixed the 40 acres and a mule plan
    When Georgia Howled: Sherman on the March

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Which goes to show that the “key man” theory of history is sometimes exactly on point.
      Lincoln the key-man President might well have overseen the total confiscation of all Confederate-owned plantation land and its total division under the Homestead Act into small farms for poor Black Southerners and poor White Southerners alike.

      But Booth the key-man assassin deleted Lincoln the key-man President and we got Johnson the super-glue-in-the-locks President instead.

      ( This does go to show the fallacy of accusing the United States Army of never having won a war since whenever. Because the Civil War itself is a case-in-point study of where the United States Army won a war and then a United States President very carefully and with malice aforethought threw the victory away. Just as . . . . in our own day, the U S and the Northern Alliance acting together won the Afghan War . . . and then the Cheney(bush) Administration very carefully and with malice aforethought threw the victory away).

  5. BoyDownTheLane

    The indoor areas at malls will turn into walking arenas for the elderly, community gardens for climbing/hanging herbs and vwegies, and high-crime zones; the outdoor parking lots will be turned into makeshift automotive gymkhana sites for the urban poor who drive streeet-racer-modified used Subaru.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      This is a cheerful picture, but are they actually constructed to be able to do that? And who pays for the upkeep and the running expenses? I’m wondering if the malls are so optimized for retail that they’re useless for any other purpose. Readers?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Here are two stories of malls that have been re-purposed-

        ?

        Of course they could be turned into self-standing fortresses against the coming zombie apocalypse. Those car parks would make great free-fire zones of cleared land. There is even a place to practice for this at-

  6. L

    I’m not sure whether they genuinely believe this nonsense, or they’re servicing the donor class, or they enjoy kicking the poor and the working class. Could be all three, of course!

    Advertising Age the seminal professional publication of the ad industry once ran a report on a study that showed that Americans not only resent advertising but that the increased pervasiveness of ads outside, online, and even as plants on their shows were turning them off. Thus more exposure was actually a net negative for a brand.

    The article concluded that what this meant was that we needed was more advertising in new places.

    Once someone makes their entire career in doing something, and for Hoyer and Pelosi serving donors is their career. Then at a certain point they simply drink the kool-aid and go with the beliefs. I for one doubt that they want to hurt the poor or working class. I suspect that they no longer know what the poor or working class are or want and that they are so enmeshed in making their donors happy that they are absorbing what their donors tell them Americans want and going with that.

    The only difference between their detachment and that of Trump is that his source is so singular that the disconnect is obvious.

    1. tomk

      The best small enterprises in the trades and service sectors (restaurants, plumbers and builders, cleaners, and so on) never have to advertise. They rely on word of mouth and some get to point where they can pick and choose their customers. Of course if growth is your value then this becomes more difficult.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I wonder why after all this time that Pelosi-haters still haven’t bothered to try organizing an extermicott of the Pelosi family restaurants.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            To be honest, I really don’t know. I know that I read years ago that the Pelosis ( Maybe it was Mr. Pelosi) own some restaurants somewhere in California. I remember reading about that right about when Madame Speaker immunized and impunified Cheney(bush) with “Impeachment is off the table.” I wondered how people could hurt the Pelosis in return for that.

            If it turns out that the Newsoms co-own some restaurants along with the Pelosis, and the Newsoms lose money because of a revenge-extermicott directed at the Pelosi restaurants, it would serve the Newsoms right for being involved with a Cheney-Bushite like Pelosi.

  7. pretzelattack

    i think they are making a movie in the closed off section of the zombie mall near my house. the old sears, closed about a year, is festooned with “warning:asbestos” signs on what used to be the doors.

    1. Carolinian

      Or they could do like George Romero and make a movie about zombies at the mall.

      My local Sears is closing this summer but can’t say I was ever a big Sears fan. It was like the store you go to when there isn’t a better store selling the same stuff. Arguably they have been coasting on brand fumes for many years.

      1. pretzelattack

        yeah , i hadn’t been there in years. i am wondering what other toxic stuff is in there, that may come drifting over this way if they ever get around to tearing the place down.

        1. Buck Eschaton

          The Ayn Rand guy was running Sears, but I bet the private equity guys could have run it into the ground faster.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        After many years I visited our local Sears hoping to relieve its loneliness and show my support by buying something, but I saw nothing there of any interest to me. Perhaps if I had a house needing certain big appliances, some of the big appliances might have been interesting. I just don’t know.

  8. Tim

    Overtaxed Working Memory Knocks the Brain Out of Sync

    I can vouch from personal experiences that this is true. I was assigned from project work to a responsibility for staying up to speed on 40+ items that evolve through a process on a minute to minute and day to day pace.

    It drove me crazy for a while, darn near literally, but I feel my brain has found a way to adapt to it over the last 6 months. I don’t do my job any better, but I do a better job of keeping my sanity while doing it.

  9. anon y'mouse

    i always thought that many malls would make perfect health centers. pharmacy over there, exercise gym over here, restaurant with healthy meals and nutritional cooking class, urgent care clinic etc.

    1. Chauncey Gardiner

      Agree, considering that the infrastructure is already installed and awaiting redevelopment to “Highest and best use”. Local governments are seeking tax revenues and avoidance of blight… so conversion to the types of facilities you describe, schools and daycare facilities, condos and apartments, commercial services, combination of restaurants and coffee shops, public meeting areas and conference centers, athletic facilities, libraries, safe places for the elderly and disabled to walk and converse, small specialty grocers and boutiques, with much of the exterior parking areas landscaped and converted to public parks (But what to do with the asphalt… can it be reprocessed?) IOW the attractiveness of these spaces for redevelopment is much of what made the retail malls appealing as public spaces in a different era to many Americans, just that the revenue and funding sources are broadened beyond retail rents and are more varied.

      Special purpose tax exempt financing has been arranged by state and local governments with repayment from specific revenue streams derived from projects. So, beyond thos activities that do not generate a revenue stream, why not lease income and real property sales from mall redevelopment?

  10. Kokuanani

    Husband & I just returned from an afternoon showing of “RBG” — the Ruth Bader Ginsberg movie. It’s excellent, and will make you both sad and angry. Highly recommend it.

  11. FreeMarketApologist

    “Surprise, surprise: last-minute pollsite changes in concentrated communities of color are being announced in NY-14”

    Well, yes, but I also got a poll site change card yesterday, and I’m in 12 (Manhattan east side from 86th and below + midtown + NoHo — mostly white bread country).

    Really, why is any of it at the last minute?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Does ‘just in time inventory’ – the concept or its application in this particular field – have anything to do with it?

  12. Synoia

    Democrats are totally blowing it” [The Week]. “[I]t’s not just that institutional Democrats seem to have lost their 2017 fighting spirit this year…the policy status quo from 2016 remains almost completely untouched

    .

    Feature, not bug.

    More “fighting”, against republicans. No concrete policies, no substance. They could have won on “Medicare for All” by itself.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In theory, we can all be made/decreed senators, either simultaneously or on a rotating basis.

      In that case, we will all have health care insurance.

      That’s the theoretical limiting case.

    2. Kurt Sperry

      “They could have won on “Medicare for All” by itself.”

      The Democrats would obviously rather lose than to win that way.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The Fake Democrats would obviously rather lose than to win that way, yes.

        The Real Democrats , like Bernie Sanders, would rather win that way than to lose.
        If the Real Democrats can purge, burn and exterminate the Fake Democrats from out of the Fake Democrat Party, then they can make it into a Real Democrat Party again. And indeed, if they could kill every single Clintobama cancer cell from every trace and corner of the Party, then they could even rename it the Real Democrat Party.

        ” Back to the Future with the Real Democrat Party”.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps it’s a bit too strong, even just talking, to say some people, whose votes are not worthless, should be burned and exterminated.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Yes, perhaps it is.

            Every officeholder or apparatchick or wannabe who is in any way associated with any facet of Clinton, Obama, DLC, Hamilton Project, or any of the rest of the Conspiracy Against The New Deal . . . should be removed from the Democratic Party in the very nicest and most polite way possible. As long as even one of them remains in the Party, they will keep it a Fake Democrat Party serving their Fake Democrat purposes.

            And if they won’t go, then every Real Democrat should leave the Fake Democrat Party instead, and found a Real Democrat Party of their own . . . and give those citizen voters who are also New Deal Reactionaries something to vote for and work through.

  13. Kevin

    What’s going to happen to the ginormous impermeable surface of the empty parking lots?

    Joni told us they would pave paradise and put up a parking lot, we could always tear it up and return it to paradise.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Not very, over any human scale time, and asphalt is made up in large part of carcinogens that leach.

    1. flora

      Not everyone’s economy is getting better. The economic stresses are still there, no matter how much happy talk is coming out of D.C. in an election year.

      1. roxy

        Economic stability won’t necessarily ward off suicide, as seen again yesterday in the news.

        1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

          Perhaps the economy is indeed better (today than, say Nov. 2016).

          If that is so, from where I am, it would seem, from my own experience, that it’s better elsewhere, and not here in Southern California.

          And if that means the Midwest is accounting for it more than California (is contributing, or subtracting), it would suggest a reversal of a decades long trend, and it is not a bad thing (for this resident of the Golden State).

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Another possible factor is some delay in trigger, and perhaps we are still seeing the built-up in misfortune/suffering from the previous regime(s).

    3. derechos

      Because depression is only tangentially related to economic issues. Think about some of the more famous and tragic figures who committed suicide. Robin Williams is such an example. He was a success by every measure.

      Some suicide is triggered by personal economic failure, but not the economy specifically.

      And when other around you seem to be succeeding in a “good economy” but you are not, that can trigger suicidal thoughts (“why am I such a failure”)?

      1. Arizona Slim

        Williams was in the twilight of his career and ISTR reading that he was having financial problems.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Robin Williams had some kind of bizarre brain-cell disease whereby his own brain became impossible to live with. In his case, suicide was blessed release from an existence of 300 decibel brain-pain.

          They say that a coyote caught in a leg-hold trap will gnaw its own foot off to escape. Would you? If you were the coyote in question?

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The 100 year old from Australia who died recently by euthanasia, that was another suicide.

        I was talking to someone at the bank yesterday who said her 87 year old mother did not want to have dialysis and chose to go home to die after being in the hospital to treat some swelling on her wrist (perhaps from some spider bite or such) and her kidneys started to fail. That sounded to me like suicide.

      3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        The 100 year old from Australia who died recently by euthanasia, that was another suicide.

        I was talking to someone at the bank yesterday who said her 87 year old mother did not want to have dialysis and chose to go home to die after being in the hospital to treat some swelling on her wrist (perhaps from some spider bite or such) and her kidneys started to fail. That sounded to me like suicide.

        1. Spring Texan

          Euthanasia is not suicide, in my mind. It’s certainly not the suicides we are worried about.

          The Oregon doctor who pressed for the Oregon “assisted suicide” law and who eventually used it himself very much objected to the monitor. It’s not that the folks you mention don’t want to live. They would want to live if a normal life were possible, but it’s not.

          Suicide is when a person who COULD live, like a middle-aged person who loses their job and becomes depressed, causes their own death. Very very different.

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Perhaps in time, more people will make that distinction.

            Of the suicides cited WP article, how many are not suicides (under that definition)?

  14. anonymous

    Unfortunately the caffeine link is not news you can use. They concluded that the variance between subjects was high enough that their data and algorithm were not really suitable to form a personal caffeine intake schedule.

    It was (probably) okay on population level but their aim was a tailored individual schedule that could be used by, say, military personnel with a known sleep/wake schedule they had to meet. They wanted to do a secondary study to see if they could suss out a way to take individual sensitivities and metabolism speeds into account.

  15. Darius

    I’m actually with Perez on keeping superdelegates off the first ballot. The last time any convention went beyond the first ballot was the Democrats in 1952 with Adlai. Maybe I shouldn’t discount the possibility but I can’t get too worked up about it.

    1. JohnnyGL

      The goal will then be to throw a ton of candidates up in 2020 to keep Bernie under 50% of pledged delegates.

      Then, in the 2nd round, they can select their preferred candidate and dispense with Sanders.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Any idea offered by Fake Democrat Perez is a Fake Idea offered in bad faith.

  16. lynne

    In other primary news, the first woman on a major party ticket for South Dakota governor won the republican primary.

    Unfortunately, she campaigned to the right hard. However, the deciding factor for many turned on ads questioning corruption allegations and debating out the role her opponent (the incumbent Attorney General) had in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the state cops that resulted in a million dollar judgement in federal court.

    Get that? A jury in one of the most conservative states in the country awarded a woman over a million in a sexual harassment lawsuit against the state. And Republican primary voters punished the incumbent AG for not cracking down on the perps in state law enforcement and elected a woman gubernatorial candidate. Heard plenty of comments about the good old boys club the last few days before the vote. #metoo

  17. Oguk

    Re “The Bezzle: “‘Driver readiness’ and the rise of autonomous vehicles””
    From thedrive: sounds to me like a dose of sanity. From the article: “Even if someone could “perfect” transitions the overall safety of partial automation will always remain hostage to the atrophying skills of humans in the loop… Human driving skills … have never been great […]. If semi-autonomous systems continue to focus on replacing these skills rather than enhancing them, they will contribute to the very problem they are supposed to solve.”

    That said, I also get tired of hearing how bad humans are at driving. The problem is we think everyone is good at it, in all conditions. Or, if you were good enough at it at 17, we assume you’ll always be good at it. As this article points out, we could learn from aviation protection systems instead of trying to eliminate the humans. Rather than say, humans are sometimes bad, so let’s make great machines, which will be perfect (or perfectable), how about we recognize how great humans are, and look to help them? Isn’t that the good part of technology – skills augmentation? Not replacement?

  18. JBird

    “While California is heavily and increasingly Democratic, it isn’t terribly progressive. The electorate, as FiveThirtyEight’s Clare Malone wrote, is dominated by white voters and relatively well-to-do homeowners rather than the voters of color and renters that might boost more left-leaning candidates.

    The California Democratic Party is more conservative, after a fashion, than anything else, and the Republican Party is more reactionary than conservative. Neither seems to really care about the State’s citizens, especially the poorer ones.

    The state is divided between roughly the increasingly wealthy “liberal” 1/3 on the coast and the increasingly poor “conservative” 2/3 inland much like the United States as a whole; the political divide also seems increasingly faked, pseudo political ideologies not held by evermore people and which are nonsensical.

    All the jobs are in the too expensive coast and what affordable housing there is, is where there are no jobs, in the economic wastelands along the inner strip. There is a problem when making 80k a year means you qualify for federal housing assistance, because its cost is so great, but even the poorest Californians cannot get the extremely limited amount available.

    One of the reasons that my bête noire is gun control is because of the hypocrisy.

    Affordable housing? Nah. World class, nearly free education like we use to have? Nope. Single payer, or at least universally affordable, healthcare? Please. The increasing bifurcation of the state into two distinct populations of the relatively small numbers of very well off and everyone else? Huh?

    Oh, but the gunz, the evil horrible, no good monster things, now that they can do. But not really.

    Funding for the proven very effective, programs that reduce violence generally, especially gun violence in gang territories, because much of the violence is due to fear and anger? No, the poor, nonwhites, even the rural white communities really do not matter. Extensive funding for mental health? Suicides and murders using guns are often due to poor mental health. See single payer healthcare. Police reforms that will enable the poor to trust the police and allow them to protect the community, decreasing the perceived need by communities to use guns to solve problems? Of course not. The police, and prison guards, are God’s angels, and the unions often give much in bribes donations. They can do almost no wrong.

    Passing increasingly inane, unfollowable, often unenforceable confusing gun laws, sometimes through quasi illegal methods, that can be used to arrest confused gun owners, but also allow a large class of rural gun owners to own now illegal guns; the local rural law enforcement often will not enforce those laws, especially if the owners are white. Think about that. The large number of previously already illegal guns often used to commit murder, such as in the poor, and the gang members, of urban and suburban areas will be untouched. Oh, see the issues of healthcare and police reforms above.

    However, corrupt politicians like unctuou Gavin (Good Hair) Newsom, our very own “liberal” version of “conservative” former Texas Governor Good Hair aka Rick Perry, can use the gunz to get more money and votes.

    1. Wukchumni

      In the physical 2/3rds of the state that’s conservative, there isn’t much population base, and the gun laws are pretty lax in comparison to the coastal enclaves. I could easily get a CCW here in Tulare County, no big deal whatsoever. Try that in LA or SF, ha!

      They’re also very easily led here in a Fox fashion, just look at all the billboards in the Central Valley blaming the drought on lefty politicians, when the farmers use a shit ton more water than anybody else in the state, all too typical hypocritical in this odd red state bastion.

      1. JBird

        If you are a celebrity, famous, or just rich you often can get a cc permit while the few legitimate needed ones like stalking victims or those likely to be robbed because of their occupation can’t.

        I agree completely that Red Californians are often brainwashed by Fox News. I am just angry about the so called liberals and their hypocrisy. I could have done a long rant on the remainder of the California Republican Party’s hypocrisy!

        Yeah, the mass theft of ground water rendering the poorer communities’ wells useless is not good. Especially when the irrigation and crop use is not as water efficient as it could be.

        And blaming the Democrats and/or liberals for the drought is a new one to me. How is an act of God, which California gets at least once a decade, their fault?? If it wasn’t for the truly massive water projects of the state, much of the farms would not exist. Republican hypocrisy at its best.

        1. RMO

          I have my doubts that any real gun control legislation will ever be brought into existence by the Democrat party machine on any level that they find themselves in power – actually doing something would mean the loss of one of the few carrots they find it acceptable to dangle in front of the electorate. It’s an amazingly useful issue for both parties: the Dems like voters to think they may pass gun control legislation if you vote for them and the Republicans like voters to think they will prevent the Democrats from taking all your guns.

          No matter how cynical I am the world repeatedly makes me realize I haven’t been cynical enough.

  19. marym

    An ICE spokeswoman told Reuters five federal prisons will temporarily take in detainees awaiting civil immigration court hearings, including potential asylum seekers, with one prison in Victorville, California, preparing to house 1,000 people.

    Officials of a prison employees’ union said the influx of ICE detainees raises questions about prison staffing and safety.

    emphasis added

  20. dcblogger

    there is a very famous graph showing how the economy expands with deficits and shrinking deficits results in depressions. Anyone have a link? I tried searching but I cannot find it.

    1. JohnnyGL

      Here’s Stephanie Kelton’s presentation showing that budget sures (the flip side of which is private sector deficits) lead to recessions because the private sector has to retrench, putting the federal budget back into deficit (which is where Kelton would argue it should be)…

      1. dcblogger

        thank you, that is a good one, I am thinking of another, but the Skelton one is serviceable.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think intuitively that is correct, under the present system.

      In the 1700’s, and centuries before, economies expanded, and

      1. Environment, i.e. Nature, did not degrade much.

      2. Government did not deficit spend.

      So, it’s possible, with another system, the economy can grow without deficit spending.

      And we would use another theory to describe that money.

  21. JohnnyGL

    Can someone please send that Axios link to Michelle Obama so she can stop worrying about what’s wrong with ‘women’ and start focusing on what’s wrong with the Democratic Party?

  22. Tomonthebeach

    The Salon Article. One of the mysteries of political life is how “Crooked Hillary” and “Lying Bill” – the Clintons, created a permanent ethical albatross for the Democrats while simultaneously excusing Trump’s serial infidelity, his long and current history of misogyny, his consistent racism, and a lifetime reputation as a lying con man and rip-off artist. There must be something very damaged in our national psyche to create this double standard.

    Even the hypothesis that the election was between a proven political scumbag and a relatively less known one cannot explain why Trump’s support continues to weather daily Stormy’s.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Because Trump supporters regard Trump’s enemies as their enemies too. ” Any no-friend of Trump’s is no friend of mine”. They take it personal-like.

    2. Left in Wisconsin

      “Lyin’ Bill?” Am I the only one old enough to remember “Slick Willie?” And that was already before Lewinski.

      1. JBird

        I remember that too. The only reason I ever voted for Bill Clinton was because of the Republican Party.

  23. dcblogger

    mebbe they can turn empty shopping malls into prisons
    Never Mind the Wall—They’re Building Warehouses for Immigrant Children

    The newest plank of immigration enforcement? Piling children into overcrowded detention centers.

  24. allan

    [Election Law Blog]

    … The bill would ask voters to decide this November whether to add this paragraph to the constitution: “Photo identification for voting in person. Every person offering to vote in person shall present photo identification before voting in the manner prescribed by law.”

    Voters wouldn’t necessarily see more details, including what sorts of ID would qualify, before voting. That would be laid out later by the General Assembly, in a separate bill. …

    So, basically a blank check for voter suppression. Or as the saying goes: One man, one vote, one time.

  25. Anonymized

    I’m currently worrying about a right wing majority government getting elected here in Ontario. The polls were all over the place. It all depends on if young people are inspired to come out and vote for the leftist NDP (the Liberal Party is the Democratic Party equivalent and are practically guaranteed to be kicked out of office and might even get so few votes that they lose official party status). Gonna head out in a bit to my local NDP candidate’s election night thing – he’s a shoe-in since he’s well known in the community and the incumbent Liberal retired.

    1. cnchal

      There is no way to vote “none of them”, a total shame on the voting system

      As for the Liberals, that’s what you get when misled by a bankster advisor to privatize Hydro One, and to rub thistles into the wound, the crony CEO gets paid $6 million with a $10 million bonus if he is fired for any reason. Hydro bills are gonna kill us, so a bunch of parasites become filthy rich.

      1. Anonymized

        Actually, there is a way to vote “none of them” and that is by declining your ballot. (If you spoil your ballot they’ll just assume you’re too dumb to fill it in correctly.)

        I’m not surprised Ford got so much traction with his promise to fire the CEO but it may have been his intention to give an extra 10 million to the guy. The money would be better spent on clean energy but Ford’s not gonna do that.

        I don’t know which is worse: that climate change action will be severely hampered until the next government or that there’s no hope for proportional representation in this province until the same.

  26. Lee

    Plantidote

    It indeed appears that our tree ‘knows’ to send roots inward toward the bank (and down, of course).

    Smarty plants appear to exercise intelligent choices, including inter-species cooperation through the Wood Wide Web:

  27. Jim Haygood

    Ben Bernanke climbs aboard the Recession 2020 party bus:

    U.S. economic growth could face a challenging slowdown as the Trump administration’s powerful fiscal stimulus fades after two years, according to former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

    Bernanke said the $1.5 trillion in personal and corporate tax cuts and a $300 billion increase in federal spending signed by President Donald Trump “makes the Fed’s job more difficult all around” because it’s coming at a time of very low U.S. unemployment.

    “What you are getting is a stimulus at the very wrong moment,” Bernanke said Thursday during a policy discussion at the American Enterprise Institute. “The economy is already at full employment.”

    The stimulus “is going to hit the economy in a big way this year and next year, and then in 2020 Wile E. Coyote is going to go off the cliff,” Bernanke said, referring to the hapless character in the Road Runner cartoon series.

    Okay, Ben’s got the Wile E. Coyote reference. Now is he willing to escalate to Technodammerung?

    He was just a Harvard hand
    Workin’ on the QE he planned to try
    The years went by

    Every night when the sun goes down
    Just another lonely quant in town
    And rates out runnin’ ’round

    It’s another tequila sunset
    Fed’s old scam still looks the same
    Another frame

  28. Bean Counter

    Bingo!, and thank you, Spring Texan:

    Euthanasia is not suicide, in my mind. It’s certainly not the suicides we are worried about. [….] Suicide is when a person who COULD live, like a middle-aged person who loses their job and becomes depressed, causes their own death. Very very different.

    Further, I’m at a loss as to why, when anyone brings up the over a decade long pointers to economic despair and a horrid increase in suicides in the US, the first thing some tend to do is bring up the suicides of famous people (which, even then many times, are actually also related to a huge decrease in finances, but not near so horrid as those who were already as frugal as they could be, yet took their lives because nobody in their proper mind wants to sleep on cement, pick their daily meal out of a dumpster, defecate in public places, possibly be raped, and be treated like vermin by cops and property owning, amoral Aholes, particularly when they are over 60).

    The reality is that the public does not hear about 99.99999 percent of the utterly unnecessary – in a sovereign country which can literally produce its own money to provide Dignified Livable Wage JOBS and humane safety nets – financial despair suicides of ‘nobodys.’ If those suicides are written about at all, the news heading is something to the effect of: CalTrain strikes, kills trespasser in San Francisco.

    If I ever am forced into homelessness in my older age, I’m most likely offing myself, I’m just not going to live like that after I tried my best under an utterly corrupt and unequal economic system. Is there really anything hard to understand about that, are there that many absolutely clueless as to how many are being forced into those sorts of situations despite their best efforts in life and how utterly unbearable and deadly it must be to be homeless?

    1. JTMcPhee

      Maybe if we who go that route can at least take a Rich Person or politician out with us…?

      1. The Rev Kev

        Tempting that. Robert A. Heinlein once wrote a story about a society of assassins that had a high price tag for entry. To be in it, you had to have something that was going to take your life eventually like cancer or leukemia and thus had little to lose. This society dedicated themselves to removing people that would make life better for everybody else as a sort of final service to humanity.

        1. JTMcPhee

          That was the tale I was remembering.

          The Elites spend their days figuring out how to loot, knowing, or indifferent to the fact, that their insatiable appetites kill millions. And their sense of impunity (but given what they spend on personal armies and body guards and such) though not of security, insulated them from any sense of consequences or retribution.

  29. Steve H.

    Ecosophia article: PREACH!

    So very well-crafted:

    ” the chance to shed the burden of individual freedom and become a thing.”

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