2:00PM Water Cooler 8/2/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Patient readers, this will be even more sparse than yesterday’s initial cut, because I spent most of the morning researching the neoliberal assault on the UK’s NHS, and not getting enough writing done; I’ll make a final cut shortly. Talk amongst yourselves! –lambert UPDATE 5:15PM All doe, done. (My “n” key is ow stickig, I thik because of cat hair.) This is a bit of a pantry clearout on the midterms, but there’s so much amazing stuff happening. Bangs “n” key furiously…

* * *

Trade

“Trump considers raising tariffs on Chinese imports to 25%” []. “Geng Shuang, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday urged the US ‘to correct its attitude and not to try to engage in blackmail. This does not work for China. We advise the US to return to reason and not to act in anger, which will ultimately hurt themselves.'” • Although I don’t have time to do a round-up, I’m getting the impression from the headlines that China’s message isn’t completely unified. For example, this from : “China is consulting businesspeople and think tanks at home and abroad as it considers whether to adapt its strategy in the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies, according to Chinese government advisers and a US business representative.” The thing is, once blackmail enters a relationship — leaving aside whether blackmail is the, er, norm in international relations — it never really leaves; you can’t walk it back. So this is not really a very Foreign Minister-y thing for a Foreign Minister to say.

Politics

2020

“Meghan McCain talks to Joe Biden ‘all the time'” []. • That’s nice.

“Hillary Clinton political group gives to candidates who helped her campaigns” []. That’s nice.

Kamala Harris brings the complexity:

This is wild and is a great example of how democrats don't understand private taxation. Rather than just limiting what landlords are allowed to appropriate from households, they're going to subsidize it ; and of course rather than with a cash payment, its a complicated tax credit

— Cultist (@NathanTankus)

2018

“Obama announces his ‘first wave’ of 2018 midterm endorsements, and doesn’t include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez” [] • That’s nice.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez won in New York. Now her allies are taking on the Midwest.” []. “Over the past two weeks, the aggressive new voice of the progressive left has crisscrossed the Midwest, making a stop in Kansas to campaign alongside Bernie Sanders as well as solo trips to Missouri and Michigan to stump for insurgent candidates hoping to follow in her path…. ‘Our swing voter is not red-to-blue,’ she said at a stop in Flint. ‘Our swing voter is the voter to the non-voter, the non-voter to the voter.'” • If not this time, next time, and as long as they go back to non-voter status if their needs are ignored (“Nice little party you have here…”). More:

Members of the Justice Democrats have supported each other leading up to this year’s midterm elections. ‘s rally efforts for Kansas Congressional candidate Brent Welder gave him 254 more volunteers and $110,000 in donations by

— Yahoo News (@YahooNews)

NY Governor: Dracula has risen from the grave:

Joe Crowley's first words at this presser with Cuomo: "I'm still here!"

— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher)

OH-12: “With GOP District in Jeopardy, Trump to Stump in Ohio Special Election” []. “The Tuesday special election between Republican Troy Balderson and Democrat Danny O’Connor offers a preview of dozens of midterm races across the country: a reliably Republican district that harbors a supercharged Democratic base and a core of suburban voters who polls show are frustrated with the president’s leadership…. The district is emblematic of those Democrats seek to snatch from the GOP, which holds a 23-seat House majority. Republicans have represented the area since 1980 and outnumber Democrats about two-to-one in voter registration. It is the wealthiest district in the state, full of college-educated suburbanites like those who have fled the GOP in previous special elections. It includes Delaware County and parts of Franklin County, two of six Ohio counties where Mr. Trump underperformed 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.”

New Cold War

Yesterday’s Russia social media panic (thread):

1/ The Russian Troll Patrol has some interesting findings:

— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate)

And today’s: “From Russia with Love? Mystery Facebook account sent New York activist a bunch of roses” []. “A Facebook event promoting a demonstration advocating universal health care* that took place in New York City on July 17, 2017, was managed and promoted by 13 different Facebook pages. While most of the pages were seemingly legitimate activist groups, among them was a page called “Resisters,” one of the pages Facebook removed on Tuesday. What went on behind the scenes of the New York rally has all the hallmarks of tactics used by Kremlin-linked groups.” • Attribution is hard, but that aside, I don’t like the pattern I’m starting to see from 30,000 feet: The “intelligence community” (NSA, CIA, FBI) having veto power over Presidential legitimacy, the “intelligence community” getti involved in the legitimacy of voter rolls and vote counts (DHS), and now enormous media monopolies (Facebook) and whoever their techical experts are, determining the legitimacy of demostrations. Oh, and Democrats are encouraging, sometimes feverishly, all three trends. Good for “our democracy” or nah? Note also the qualifications throughout: “suspected,” “all the hallmarks of tactics,” and “suspects.” After Cointelpro? Really? If the powers that be want to set up every #MedicareForAll advocate as being a Russia stooge, they’re doing an excellent job. (Note the tactic of “sending an activist a megaphone.” If I were truly cynical and paranoid, I’d be reminded of FBI entrapment tactics: “Sure, I know where to find…) NOTE * Sic. The demostration was in support of #MedicareForAll, which is not equal to “universal health care.” Shoddy.

The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds

On January 20, 2017, Evil entered The Shire:

America is fighting for its life. DT has injected US with the toxins of racism, misogyny, xenophobia & lies. He is obstructing justice & conspiring with an enemy to destroy Democracy. Patriots will not let America die. VOTE!!!

— Rob Reiner (@robreiner)

Always on message:

Every single day, I find myself asking: what do the Russians have on personally, financially, & politically? The answer to that question is that only thing that explains his behavior & his refusal to stand up to Putin.

— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi)

Combining Chuck Schumer’s almost forgotten economic message, “A Better Deal,” with RussiaRussiaRussia? Really? How’s that working out?

Thanks, Obama:

Wow. This graph. From MShularick and USteins; data is new historical SCF series.

Suggests why so many Americans don't feel recovery is complete despite lots of progress in other areas.

Full paper:

— Abigail Wozniak (@AbigailWozniak)

Helps to understand why Democrats, the party of the 9.9%, see no reason to change. And why volatility voters do.

Universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class:

When elites on the right and the center left unite to tell you that working class whites and working class blacks could never agree on policy, consider whose interests they're promoting.

— Briahna "Working Class Has No Color" Gray (@briebriejoy)

I’m basically a “so the last shall be first” () kinda guy, both in terms of a state that’s run “of, by, and for” the people, and in terms of Maslow’s Heirarchy: I think that that the base of Maslow’s pyramid — physiological and safety needs — are morally and politically should be more important than the self-actualization needs at the tip of the pyramid. I also believe that self-actualization through labor is more important and self-actualization through identity, and indeed the former drives the latter, although the causalities are complex.

Wow, Netroots Nation. Remember when we all had hopes it would be effective at anything? Fresh off their :

We’re excited to be at this year! Here's where you can find Indivisible staff today:

— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam)

“Mercenary.”

“Democratic Socialism Is About Democracy” []. “[D]emocratic socialists have something more far-reaching in mind. To us, democracy is not simply a banal amalgamation of procedures, an uncontroversial set of norms and rules that everyone can get behind. It is the quite radical idea that ordinary people — not experts, not elites, not their “betters” — can rule themselves. It is the word we use to describe the flattening of steep hierarchies, the shattering of structures that confer undue wealth and power and privilege….. The radical reforms we advocate are all intended to increase the amount and degree of decisions, relationships, and structures in society that operate according to democratic principles. Capital’s control over investment gives it too much say over the direction of the political economy; we should socialize key industries and foster worker cooperatives.”

More crazy talk:

If they didn't already exist, bright red trucks full of 1,134,400 unionized, pensioned public workers putting out fires for free would strike people as the most outlandish radical leftist idea.

— Rafael 🔥 (@rafaelshimunov)

Stats Watch

Factory Orders, June 2018: “Factory orders for June rose [sharply but miss Econoday’s consensus… in a report that does include some slowing. []. Core capital goods (nondefense ex-aircraft) were revised down. … Today’s strong headline aside, June wasn’t that great of a month for the factory sector which perhaps was held down to a degree by tariff-related disruptions. Year-on-year growth in orders is very positive… Nevertheless, indications including strong readings in regional and private manufacturing reports point to second-half acceleration for the sector and second-half leadership for the 2018 economy.”

Jobless Claims, week of July 28, 2018: “Convincing strength for tomorrow’s employment report is the indication from jobless claims data” [].

Challenger Job-Cut Report, July 2018: “A very low number of layoff announcements underscores how strong demand for labor is” [].

Finance: “Hedge Fund’s Humans Are Kicking Some Algo Behind” []. • Yeah, but maybe the algos are just having a bad year.

“Uber Is Calling New Yorkers And Pushing Them To Say “I Support Uber” In Group Calls With Local Council Members” []. • Hmm. I wonder how they got the names to call.

Tech: “The Little Ion Engine That Could” []. “Accion Systems Inc. essentially makes one product, a device about the size of a deck of cards that’s designed to slowly and silently nudge satellites, spacecraft, and other galactic ephemera through the blackness. Technically, the Tile—an acronym for tiled ionic liquid electrospray—is an ion engine, which is to say it runs on a stream of charged particles, much like a battery. Stick enough of them onto a giant craft, and you can putter out to Mars.” • This is interesting (and hopefully the charismatic (female) entrepreneurial founder isn’t another Elizabeth Holmes. She doesn’t seem like it…).

Health Care

“Trump administration to allow renewable, short-term insurance” []. “The Trump administration will finalize a rule on Wednesday that expands access to health insurance policies that skirt many of the Affordable Care Act’s regulations. The rule would allow people to buy short-term, limited-duration health coverage that lasts up to 12 months and renew that coverage for a maximum of 36 months. Insurers can deny short-term coverage to people who have pre-existing conditions…. But after the administration issued the proposed rule to expand short-term, limited-duration insurance back in February, many insurers, provider groups and consumer advocates said plans could harm consumers who don’t understand the limitations of the coverage they are buying. Critics also argued that premiums in the individual market would rise as young, healthy people leave exchanges that need those young people to balance out the risk pool.” • It would be helpful if, in the context of health care policy, the concept of “consumer advocacy” were contextualized. The real problem is “buying,” not “understand the limitations of the coverage they are buying.”* The whole concept of “consumer” should be stuffed back in its neoliberal box, and health care “free at the point of delivery” under Medicare for All should become the focus. NOTE * This is also the issue with “consumer protection” (Elizabeth Warren’s focus) generally.

Police State Watch

“Entire police department resigns at once, saying town ‘seemingly cares so little about us'” []. Blandford, Mass. • Presenting the possibility of an interesting natural experiment…

Gaia

If you’re thinking about building your soil:

One square yard of prairie soil may contain 20 linear miles of roots and root hairs!

— Daniel Kinka (@DanielKinka)

“Petrichor: why does rain smell so good?” []. “Bacteria, plants and even lightning can all play a role in the pleasant smell we experience after a thunderstorm; that of clean air and wet earth. Known as petrichor, the scent has long been chased by scientists and even perfumers for its enduring appeal.” • Our new word for the day, .

“Find shows 4,000-year-old trade routes stretched from Carolinas to Great Lakes” []. “Widespread trade networks once linked communities in northeastern US with those around the Great Lakes and the Ohio River Valley and extended south to the Tennessee River Valley…. ‘Other social practices also travelled along trade routes,’ wrote Binghamton University archaeologist Matthew Sanger and his colleagues. One of those was the practice of cremating the dead, which shows up, along with copper grave goods, at sites from the Great Lakes to Tennessee. That implies, to some extent, that people spread across hundreds of miles had come to share some common beliefs about proper treatment of the dead—and probably other aspects of life, too.”

“Historical collections reveal patterns of diffusion of sweet potato in Oceania obscured by modern plant movements and recombination” []. “Our results provide strong support for prehistoric transfer(s) of sweet potato from South America (Peru-Ecuador region) into Polynesia. Our results also document a temporal shift in the pattern of distribution of genetic variation in sweet potato in Oceania. Later reintroductions, accompanied by recombination between distinct sweet potato gene pools, have reshuffled the crop’s initial genetic base, obscuring primary patterns of diffusion and, at the same time, giving rise to an impressive number of local variants….. Multidisciplinary approaches, thus, appear necessary for accurate reconstruction of the intertwined histories of plants and humans.”

“Environmentalists by Necessity” []. “Infant mortality is a devastating problem in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny County, where Braddock is located—between 2008 and 2012, white infants had average infant mortality rate of 4.75 deaths for every 1,000 live births, while the rate for black infants was 13.73. It’s an issue that perplexes public health researchers and reproductive rights advocates like Rawls. One suspected cause is the mill that sits directly behind her office, the Edgar Thomson Steel Works, which has been active since Andrew Carnegie opened it in 1872, and is now owned by U.S. Steel. It’s a major reason why Braddock sits below some of the most polluted air in America, and possibly explains the area’s high rates of sickness.” • Oddly, or not, there’s no moral panic about these babies.

“The band of biologists who redrew the tree of life” []. “At the molecular level, life’s history is more accurately depicted as a network, a tangled web through which organisms have been exchanging genes for more than 3 billion years. This perspective is indeed radical…” • As usual — think gossip and back-channels in org charts — what is presented as a tree is in reality a graph.

Our Famously Free Press

“Where Profits Come From” (PDF) []. • I don’t think The Bearded One would agree, but I could be wrong. Note that “Jerome Levy” is not the Levy Institute, although the paper does seem to take an MMT-inflected approach. Readers?

Class War

“An Amazon staffer is posting YouTube videos of herself living in a warehouse parking lot after an accident at work” []. • Horrible stuff, although to be fair, Vickie Shannon Allen is financing Jeff Bezos’ escape from The Jackpot to Mars. So there’s that. Key point: “[ALLEN: ‘They offered me a buyout, only for $3,500, which meant I would have to sign a nondisclosure agreement to not say anything derogatory about Amazon or my experience,’ she said.” • Hmm. I wonder how many former Amazon workers have been forced by circumstances to sign NDAs, and what the NDA looks like. Maybe some kind and fully anonymized soul will throw one over the transom….

“Online labor markets may look competitive. They aren’t” [] (). NBER researcher Suresh Naidu: “Mechanical Turk (which is often abbreviated as MTurk) is a very popular crowdsourcing platform. It’s a website where requesters can post tasks and workers can do those tasks for pay…. At first glance, MTurk looks like the archetypical competitive market; after all, here is a market with no legal barriers to entry, many employers and none of the noncompete or no-poaching agreements that have become increasingly common in the regular economy…. Turkers don’t respond very much to increased pay — a 10 percent increase in the wage actually increases the number of Turkers by only 1.4 percent. This implies a considerable degree of market power, and we have evidence that “requesters” (the people who hire Turkers) are using this power…. Monopsony power may arise because of employer concentration on the platform, because of search frictions that make it harder for Turkers to locate higher-paying tasks, or because of idiosyncratic preferences over task characteristics that make the market less competitive. Research has shown that all three of these reasons are at play in MTurk.” WaPo summarizes: ” highly important online labor market is characterized by power relations so that workers lose out, and the people and organizations who hire them enjoy market power.” • This is a must-read.

“Solving The ‘Wage Puzzle’: Why Aren’t Paychecks Growing?” []. “Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has called this a puzzle that defies a single or easy explanation.” • Phases of the moon? Sunspots? A disturbance in the force?

“Tenants in Southeast Portland Launch a Rent Strike, Hoping to Stay in Their Gentrifying Apartment Complex” []. “Five months ago, the landlord at a Southeast Portland apartment complex to try to dislodge low-income renters: offering them cash to leave. Now the tenants who remain have voted to use a radical strategy to fight back: a rent strike, when they withhold monthly payments until the landlord meets their demands.”

“White, and in the minority” [Terrence McCoy, ]. • This article has elicited an intense response. This tweet is typical:

I have no idea what would possess you to publish this. Chicken processing plants are hellholes where the majority-immigrant workforce are treated worse than animals. The crisis of hurt white feelings in that environment does not seem urgent.

— Sam Thielman (@samthielman)

However, I think the key paragraph is all the way at the end:

It was seven minutes until her shift began, and with nothing better to do, and no one to talk to, she went to the clock-in station, where she watched the woman with a black ponytail coming down the hallway, hugging people as she went.

This time, however, when she reached Heaven, the woman stopped. Heaven stayed motionless, unsure. Without a trace of caution, the woman embraced her, saying something Heaven didn’t understand. Then an older woman kissed her cheek. Then the women crowding around Heaven began to laugh, and, as the final minutes went by, she started laughing, too.

The story isn’t about “hurt feelings” at all. NOTE * .

This is an enormous country (1). Excellent thread:

Democrats don’t have black votes in the bag. And they’re deluded if they think so.

Statements like this conflate the varying priorities of people of color, and for the purpose of this thread, black people specifically.

*a longass thread* 👇🏾

— Miss Jabali (@MalaikaJabali)

This is an enormous country (2). Another excellent thread:

It's officially angry Yooper evening. Fuck the capitalists, the corporations, the developments, the warmongers, the imperialists, the racists, the exploiters, the extractors, and the coastals, who don't understand what the rural Great Lakes are even like.

— Upper Peninsula DSA (@YooperDSA)

The moral of these two tweets being: All the criticis of story on “Heaven” ignore or erase the hug at the end. But that’s the moral of the story.

“Exposing the American Okie-Doke: Russiagate, Corporate Propaganda, and the Historical Obstruction of Class Consciousness” []. “If you still believe your 5th-grade textbook and think you have a say in determining public policy in the US, you are furious right now. Because you believe democracy exists and that it was hijacked by a foreign government. However, if you realize democracy (or a republic) does not exist, the Russia/Trump revelations mean only one thing: the traded commodity known as the US government has gone global, following all of the other capitalist markets that have been globalized over the past 40 years.” • Needless to say, these are not the New York Hamptons….

“Five months after strike, West Virginia teachers say ‘nothing has changed'” []. “[T]he [West Virginia teachers’] strike was summarily ended by the bureaucracy March 6 at the point that public support was snowballing, other states were poised to strike and communication workers were walking out. The stab-in-the-back was accomplished under the direct supervision of American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, National Education Association President Lily Garcia and an army of union functionaries who descended on Charleston to smother the strike. Teachers were told to ‘Remember in November,’ in other words turn out the vote for the Democrats.” • Gad.

“To understand Cuba’s emerging class system, try the ice cream” []. “growing divide between poor and rich Cubans. While bland scoops of the state-made fare remain the only option for most, there’s a growing array of choices for those who can afford more, from cafeteria-bought pints to fancy gelati. We sampled all of them—and got a taste of Cuba’s rapidly melting dream of an egalitarian society.,, For the hapless bottom 80%—subsisting on meager government salaries of about $30 per month—the best place to get ice cream in Havana is Coppelia… For the hapless bottom 80%—subsisting on meager government salaries of about $30 per month—the best place to get ice cream in Havana is Coppelia.” • Well worth a read.

News of The Wired

“The Dos and Dont’s of Supporting Your Local Library” []. • Don’t change the call numbers, or write grammar corrections in the margins!

“Your Secrets Are Safe: How Browsers’ Explanations Impact Misconceptions About Private Browsing Mode” (PDF) [Yuxi Wu, Panya Gupta, Miranda Wei, Yasemin Acar, Sascha Fahl, Blase Ur, ]. “[B]rowsers’ disclosures fail to correct the majority of the misconceptions we tested. These misconceptions included beliefs that private browsing mode would prevent geolocation, advertisements, viruses, and tracking by both the websites visited and the network provider. Furthermore, participants who saw certain disclosures were more likely to have misconceptions about private browsing’s impact on targeted advertising, the persistence of lists of downloaded files, and tracking by ISPs, employers, and governments.”

* * *

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 ():

If you believe that spirits live in trees….

* * *

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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.

97 comments

  1. Carolinian

    People who write in books have always been a pet peeve. It’s a book, not your territory. Show a little respect.

    1. Arizona Slim

      If I see an obvious error in a library book, I point it out on a sticky note that I put into the book.

      1. barefoot charley

        I buy books to interact with them, and once was so naive I thought I could refer back to my library for things I half-remembered. I love used books and don’t mind underlines and notes, unless it’s obsessive, that gets distracting.

        In the weird academic enclaves from which I escaped, I’d find used books where misprints and misspellings were corrected, in ink. I suppose it’s a tic from grading papers all day . . .

    2. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Ive written in pretty much every library book.

      I, for one, appreciate seeing notes/marks/scribbles from random people.

      And i always get a little thrill when i underline important sentences.

      1. Carolinian

        So you’re the one. And for those of us who don’t enjoy that?

        A book is a message from the author, even the typos. Third parties who wish to interject themselves are just pissing on hydrants.

      2. Mark Alexander

        Speaking as a library volunteer: Please don’t do this. Our library books are to be shared, and your notes and underlines may distract other readers from drawing their own conclusions or finding what’s important to them. We have discussion clubs where people can talk about the books they’re reading together without defacing library property.

  2. dcblogger

    another indicator of the coming Blue tsunami:
    Number of absentee ballots sought by Michiganders up by 200K over 2014

    absentee ballots are one of the most reliable indicators or turnout there is.

    A word about the economy – 1848 was a year of prosperity, especially in comparison to the starving time that preceded it.

    1. Martine

      Re the reliability of absentee ballots as indicators, interesting if true. But what’s your source?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I understand that before a tsunami, you will see water recede first.

        If suddenly, Blue voters start disappearing, well, perhaps that’s a sign…

      2. dcblogger

        Requests for absentee ballots are how electoral boards plan for elections. No, I don’t have a link, but this is common knowledge.

        1. none

          Requests for absentee ballots are how electoral boards plan for elections. No, I don’t have a link, but this is common knowledge.

          Fine, there’s a coming tsunami. But how do you know what color?

      1. clarky90

        My simple observation, re. R R R Russssia!

        In my lifetime, approximately 65,000,000 Chinese people (murdered landowners, peasants who were starved to death) were “mown down, as if they were grass….”

        by the Chinese Communist Party, which is STILL in power.

        Never a murmur from the The Dem/Repub (neo-lib, neo-con) Axis of Evil (the USAian branch office).

        In fact, they are howling with indignant, “OUR Democracy” Rage, at Donald Trump for imposing 25% tariffs on our good pals, Communist China.

        Meanwhile concerning the Christian Democracy of the Russian Federation…….?

    2. Carey

      Maybe there *will* be a “blue tsunami”, since it’s becoming virtually illegal to vote any
      other way; just ask our corporatist MSM.

      Question is, assuming the blue tsunami arrives: what will they do, and for whom?

      1. polecat

        They’ll do their damnedest to drown out anyone not of their Hilcult Corpserate leanings ..

        1. Carey

          That’s most likely, I think, so maybe we should be talking about firm policy, rather than team colors?

    3. The Rev Kev

      1848 may have been a year of prosperity in the US but in Europe 1848 was known as the Year of Revolutions-

      1. foghorn longhorn

        Stumbled across the trump tally from Wilkes-Barre on C-Span2.
        Holy crap
        Between the hairdo and the orange skin, white and I mean white eyelids, this guy is a trip
        The funny part is, he will slay the biden, holder, harris’ of the political spectrum
        He is quite the showman

        1. foghorn longhorn

          Then the crazy sob closed out the rally with this Rolling Stones song
          We are definitely in interesting times folks
          Hang on to your hats

          I saw her today at the reception
          A glass of wine in her hand
          I knew she would meet her connection
          At her feet was her footloose man
          No, you can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          But if you try sometime you find
          You get what you need
          I saw her today at the reception
          A glass of wine in her hand
          I knew she was gonna meet her connection
          At her feet was her footloose man
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          But if you try sometimes you might find
          You get what you need
          But I went down to the demonstration
          To get your fair share of abuse
          Singing, “We’re gonna vent our frustration
          If we don’t we’re gonna blow a fifty-amp fuse”
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          But if you try sometimes well you just might find
          You get what you need
          I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
          To get your prescription filled
          I was standing in line with Mr. Jimmy
          And man, did he look pretty ill
          We decided that we would have a soda
          My favorite flavor, cherry red
          I sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
          Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
          I said to him
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          But if you try sometimes you just might find
          You get what you need
          You get what you need, yeah, oh baby
          I saw her today at the reception
          In her glass was a bleeding man
          She was practiced at the art of deception
          Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          But if you try sometimes you just might find
          You just might find
          You get what you need
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          You can’t always get what you want
          But if you try sometimes you just might find
          You just might find
          You get what you need, oh yeah

          1. witters

            The amazing thing is that in the song the words have poetry. Great poetry. But there, lonely on the page…

  3. jsn

    Jerome Levy and Michal Kalecki arrived at their profits equations at about the same time, like Leibniz and Newton with calculus. Both theories were arrived at through “stock, flow consistent monetary models” like the one described in Wynne Godley’s “Monetary Economics”, so, yes MMT consistent.

    Beyond the MMT, however, the key insight is that “investment is the source of all profit”, with a very strict definition of what “investment” is.

    1. Mel

      That strict definition floored me: Investment = Creation of Wealth.
      Not what : “In an economic sense, an investment is the purchase of goods that are not consumed today but are used in the future to create wealth.” I.e. investment is the input, not the output.

      I don’t see that the J.Levy description would dovetail too well with other economics articles.

      1. jsn

        If you find J Levy or M Kalecki’s descriptions of their equations you will find very detailed specifications of the differences between investment and malinvestment where the former has to do with the long term creation of real wealth and the latter the short term return of money “profit” which is often real wealth destroying money extraction.

      2. jsn

        To your last point, Levy and Kalecki addressed this in the 1910s & 20s, so word for word, yes they are speaking a different language than that used in the neoliberal era by both “investors” & “economists.”

      1. crittermom

        nycTerrierist: Thanks for that link!
        When I saw 5 cubs & only one sow I wondered where the other sow was?
        So I paused it & did some checking. Sure enough, some do have 5 cubs, though it’s rare.
        I had no idea (but love to keep learning).

        The sow sure found a great playground for the ‘kids’! I was surprised by how much they seemed to enjoy the slide.
        Time to watch more of it…

  4. BoyDownTheLane

    ““Entire police department resigns at once, saying town ‘seemingly cares so little about us’” [ABC]. Blandford, Mass. • Presenting the possibility of an interesting natural experiment…”

    Who has been to Blandford, Mass.? I grew up in the Northern Berkshires, went to college and spent a decade in the Connecticut River Valley, and then married a woman who lived in the Merrimack Valley, and raised two kids, and buried her live-in mother. And then downsized and moved back into the center of the state. Point is this:

    No one insde Route 128 knows or cares about anything beyond Worcester. One TV announcer spoke of Nashoba Valley as bneing in Western Massachusetts. Most of the Berkshires is seen by the Big Apple, the Rockefellers and many of its reisdents as belonging to New York State. Certainly the heaviest media influence there comes from New York. Former Governor (and possible POTUS candidate) Deval Patrick (who lives there) continued a trend that makes the Berkshires a fiefdom of the state that is operated as an arts-and-culture zone for New York.
    With less than 2,000 residents, the Mass. State Police will take up what law enforcement is necessary for this patch of forest along side the Mass. Pike.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      I’ve been to Blandford a number of times (from SE MA, went to college in the Berkshires). One of those times was, alas, when my little beater of a car failed me and I had to have it towed 3.5 hrs home. As one who loves the hill towns of Western Massachusetts, I was not surprised to see this. I agree with you, BoyDownTheLane. The Metropole, i.e., Boston and inside Rt. 128, treat what I call the peripheral areas of MA — Cape Cod and the Islands and the Berkshires, but also semi-peripheral areas like the Worcester Hills, Merrimack Valley, and Southeastern Mass. — as essentially colonies.

      Go to a blog like the (typically risible, but occasionally worthwhile) BlueMassGroup, and you will see the 128/Boston imperialism on full blast. Cities like Brockton or Fitchburg or North Adams, the fishing towns of Essex and Bristol County, cranberry country in Plymouth County, the mill communities of the Blackstone Valley — these essentially don’t exist for the Boston-centric media and political establishment.

      And Boston, of course, is being Manhattanized, the people who have lived there for generations gentrified out in favor of Big Pharma and Big Finance [expletive deleted] yuppies in places like Charlestown and Southie, Roxbury and Mattapan. Marty Walsh (D-Gentrification) is both not very bright, and a pliable tool of the business class that dominates the Commonwealth.

      Witness also the pathetic energy bill recently passed by the House.

      If a candidate were to unite the rest of MA against the wealthy ZIP codes of 128-land*, they might do very, very well.

      *I do not mean working-class neighborhoods in Chelsea and Weymouth, here, obviously; I mean, Weston and Wellesley and the Back Bay and Harvard Square.

      (And yes, the damnable Yorkers would take the Berkshires from the Bay Commonwealth if they could! But they didn’t like it when Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys kicked them out of Vermont, and something similar, a bit south of the Green Mtns, is always possible again….)

      1. Kurtismayfield

        If a candidate were to unite the rest of MA against the wealthy ZIP codes of 128-land*, they might do very, very well.

        I have a very simple idea that would unite the left half of the state against inside 128.. Get rid of the Mass Pike tolls, or put the transponders up at the Braintree split and the Woburn cloverleaf and lower the tolls on I90.. Nothing screams colonization like only having tolls on the left side of the state, and there is no excuse for not telling the 128 circle since they showed us new tolls are very easy to erect.

  5. a different chris

    >Obama announces his ‘first wave’ of 2018 midterm endorsements

    WTF? What the Familyblogging Familyblog? Forget the AOC distraction, the only thing Barry should be doing is explain exactly why, in clear and concise terms, that he does not want any particular Democrat to beat any particular Republican in the mid-terms.

    Because if you’re a D not on his “endorsement” list, that’s what he’s saying about you. I never thought I’d say this, but I want him to go away every bit as much as I did his predecessor.

    1. JohnnyGL

      I respectfully disagree.

      Show us who you REALLY are, Obama! I’d love to have his endorsement value flushed down the toilet with all the rotten incumbents that he thinks are so precious.

      If we’re going to beat the dollar dems, we’ll need to do it in open-field combat.

      1. allan

        Excellent clear, concise for NYS Attorney General candidate Zephyr Teachout.
        Worth 2 minutes of your time. Barack Obama does not approve of this message.

        1. Carey

          Thanks for the link. Feedback: I watched and it didn’t like it. Way overwhelming and oppressive, with the “100 problems” bit, and the chosen visuals, as well.
          The emphasis on Corp PACs was good, but that kind of ad leads (IMO)
          to more passivity and not to the Solidarity that is (again IMO) our only
          hope. Talk about people joining together for mutual benefit, by, say,
          revoking some corporate charters… that’ll get people charged up and
          involved.

        2. Richard

          I kind of liked it. It had a lot of information, suggestions about who she might look to prosecute as an AG, and connecting the 100 seemingly disparate threads to a common theme. Not the most stirring, unified message; the ideas were populist but not so much the feel.

          1. Carey

            Good to get another viewpoint. I’m (too?) sensitive to visuals, and the
            way those images were coming toward the viewer felt dizzyingly
            unpleasant, and too much. I hope Teachout wins AG, I just think
            some Sanders-ish “I can’t do it alone” is a good idea. It’s probably
            tough to make an ad that cuts through in these distracted-by-
            design times.

    2. Liberal Mole

      Good of him to point out to us which of them are dirty, corporate-owned pawns like himself, don’t you think? I would have been displeased and suspicious if he had endorsed AOC.

    3. flora

      I thought O was going off an earn him some serious Tubmans (Harriet Tubman* faced dollar coins). That’s what he said he was going to do.

      *
      In comparison to Tubman’s heroism the only thing Obama rescued were the Wall St. banks. So O’s use of the term ‘Tubmans’ instead of ‘dollars’ sounds like a big FU, imo, to the Dem base, many of whom lost their homes in fraudulent foreclosures; people of color were especially victimized by the subprime loan and foreclosure depredations.

      1. flora

        adding: (and I’ll probably get into trouble here) what do you do with a black President who presides over the destruction of black wealth? What do you call an EEOC ‘protected class’ person who uses his status to destroy the EEOC class he is a part of?

        Where was the push back against voter disenfranchisement? Against fraudulent foreclosures, especially in the black and latino communities? Against any effort privatize social security, which people of color rely on for even larger percentages of their total retirement income than do whites?

      2. ObjectiveFunction

        Ok, nearly peed myself laughing over a NC comment for the second time in a sitting! (first one was “Caribou Barbie”).

        (And yeah, I should get that urination thing looked at soon….)

        The Commentariat is truly in the Zone tonight!

    4. nippersdad

      From the little that I have heard about her, Stacey Abrams sounded like a pretty good candidate. I am now seeing ads with Obama’s picture saying “Join him. Stand with Stacey.”

      Just, ugh. I particularly hated that “I’m with him”, cult thing when he ran on it, I hated it even more when Hillary did it, and I don’t think I could now vote for anyone using such prototype campaigns now. Strange that such a little thing could change ones’ viewpoint so much.

      1. flora

        Interesting that we are supposed to be ‘with him’ or ‘with her’, but they never claim to be ‘with us’.

        1. polecat

          Well of course not .. your just supposed to get down on your knees, and .. SUBMIT ! .. like good conpliant serf, as per that ozy confab ad !

    5. Arizona Slim

      I just watched this Real News Network discussion of Obama’s speech in South Africa. Link:

      And I was struck by Obama’s demeanor. He sounded like he didn’t give a [family blog] about what he was saying. His was delivery was flat. As if he was phoning it in.

      Where’d the soaring rhetoric go?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Agreed. And his endorsement of is about as brutal a tell as it’s possible to be. I suppose the question is whether Buffy is flotsam carries along by the Blue Wave, or the Blue Wave itself.

    6. Elizabeth Burton

      If you believe in coincidence, on the very day this list came out, this began making the Facebook rounds to the grieving sighs of the uninformed.

      The problem is there are way too many people who managed to get through his regime without any serious damage tied directly to what he did—or didn’t—do. So, all they know is people who couldn’t get health insurance before now can and all the media say he saved the economy. That a whole lot of people forced to get that insurance can’t afford to actually use it is, of course, never brought to their attention, so they only know that this or that person they know now has it.

      The comfortable may be as big or a bigger danger to any hope of change than the establishment, because they won’t hear any criticism of their heroes.

    1. John k

      No.
      His strivers strive for Corp profits and become rich enough to rub shoulders with him.
      She strives to boost the working class, which is the enemy.

  6. noonespecial

    “A development backed by Halliburton’s chairman includes a microbrewery similar to one the Interior secretary has long sought.” quoted from:

    Only the best people who aren’t beholden to special interests. Oh really?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The UPDATE at the bottom makes a good point:

      One wonders, however, why Jeong is allowed to come out of this unscathed when the same dispensation was not granted to Quinn Norton, who was asked to join the New York Times editorial board as a tech specialist last February and fired immediately after her ill-advised tweets were publicized. Norton had used an anti-black slur and an anti-gay slur (she claimed she belongs to the LGBT community, so this was in-group usage), and she was friends with the alt-right hacker weev (she claimed she did not share his pro-Nazi views and hoped she could persuade him to abandon them). When these facts came to light, The New York Times and Norton went their separate ways.

      One might almost suspect that (not to mention Aaron Swarz) weighed against her, where Jeong is more, well, white-bread. “Norton completed a GED and attended Orange Coast Community College” and Jeong went to Harvard. So there’s that.

      1. Carey

        I didn’t see the update ATT; good catch! Class class class… can’t be mentioned
        enough, IMO.

        Solidarity

      2. Carolinian

        Given the Times’ failings on so many topics these days the debate seems a bit pointless. Perhaps the only prejudice we should worry about from a newspaper is prejudice against the truth. By that standard the news division is where the pink slips should be liberally distributed. Who cares what some editorial staff member thinks about white people?

        I caught Sy Hersh’s Intercepted interview and he says beware of any reporter who starts a sentence with the deadly two words “I think.” In Hersh’s antique journalistic world reporters were not supposed to have opinions so it scarcely mattered what they thought in private. These days the line between opinion and fact is totally blurred–a big part of the current hysteria.

      3. Dave

        I think the fact that Jeong’s opinions are consistent with those of the Times owners and managers is more relevant here.

    2. Kurtismayfield

      The Reddit threads keep getting locked on this topic too, despite them hitting the front page. I would say that I can’t believe that this is happening, but it appears some bigotry is ok while others aren’t.

  7. Code Name D

    The Mercatus Center, a Libertarian think tank recently produced a paper titled “The Cost of a National Single-Payer Healthcare System.” This was clearly intended to be an academic hit piece and was largely written and used this way, focusing on the additional costs to government spending and the taxes needed to fund them. However, the paper still concludes that a Single-Payer system would still deliver significant savings to consumers as well as overall savings and better outcomes to the system.

    As a result, the paper has started making the round with the You-tube progressive pundits. Even Sanders used it to take a swipe at the Koaks.

    I however observe that we find out selves having to quote Koak Brother hit-pieces, rather than funding and producing our own research.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I however observe that we find out selves having to quote Koak Brother hit-pieces, rather than funding and producing our own research.

      There are plenty of studies at PHNP from Woolhandler et al. I think the Koch Brothers self-ow was too delicious to pass up; it’s not a matter of “having to quote.”

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        The definitive study on HR 676 is from Friedman and it is from 2013, desperately needs updating. Studies apparently are expensive. I have heard that Dean Baker is doing the one on Sanders’s bill.

        There aren’t plenty of studies. That is one of the things activists are pushing for.

  8. curlydan

    From the paper linked above by Code Name D: “Enacting [Medicare for All] would increase healthcare utilization by covering the previously uninsured, by eliminating cost-sharing for those already insured, and by increasing the range of health services covered. These effects are estimated to add $435 billion to national healthcare spending. The plan would sharply cut payments to providers, subtracting $384 billion, and has also been credited with $61 billion in lowered prescription drug costs. Combining these effects results in projected personal health spending in 2022 of $3.849 trillion, a slight net decrease of $10 billion.”

    So covering everyone and expanding the amount of services covered will decrease personal health spending by $10 billion a year. Thanks, Koch Bros, for funding this study!

    1. Richard

      Their savings figure is almost certainly a low ball figure. They tripled the admin costs from what currently takes place under medicare, and appear to have exaggerated the increase in use we’d see under full, universal coverage. Other studies have shown much higher savings, up to 17 trillion over 10 years.

  9. Oregoncharles

    Is that a really ancient madrone in the picture? Amazing trees.

    In case this hasn’t already been posted: . A glimpse of how political influence really works.

    1. Carey

      The color does look like madrone. Remarkably unstable wood, IME; I’m making an
      instrument partly of it at the moment, and it moves with the tiniest change in humidity.
      It’s rather nice to work, though.

  10. kees_popinga

    It’s weird when the Bezos-owned Washington Post writes about questionable labor practices such as the Bezos-owned Mechanical Turk. “I’m so powerful I can write articles criticizing myself, muyah-hah-hah.”

  11. Steely Glint

    Listening to NPR talking about the great divide in San Fran. Main topic is tech firms having free cafeterias, etc. vs. employees going out for lunch & other things therefore supporting local businesses. A caller identifing himself as a DSA member made the comment that perhaps if local landlords didn’t charge $3000 a month for rent, more people would have extra money to spend at local businesses. Laughter among panelists ensued.

  12. a different chris

    This is how crazy it’s become. Yeah, we all were mad when the CEO pay multiple went from 100 to 200 to 350 and up. But we knew that if he did it for free, it wouldn’t make any real diff in the paycheck of a 20k people organization.

    But those were the pre-billionaire days, no?

    > Billionaire Governor Jim Justice, who could write a personal check to cover PEIA for the next three decades,

    Yes I understand that his billions don’t come from his job at all. But the point is how insane the inequality has become. And note, we’re talking about healthcare, not a boat in the workingman’s driveway.

  13. allan

    [David Sirota]

    When New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration recently moved to shut down New York City’s largest cable television provider, Cuomo cast the maneuver as an initiative to defend consumers from a company he claimed had failed to build out service to rural customers. He did not mention that the action could end up enriching other cable industry giants that are together among Cuomo’s largest campaign donors — and that have delivered large contributions to Cuomo’s campaign in the year leading up to the decision. …

    Kudos to Cuomo – it’s hard to make a Spectrum customer feel sorry for them, but he managed.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Five months after strike, West Virginia teachers say ‘nothing has changed’

    Looks like the teachers are first going to have to burn down their so-called union representatives and elect a fresh set before making their next move. I wonder how much their union reps have been funneling to the democrats as “political contributions”? Looks like too that the union leadership has been compromised on both the state and federal level. I would suspect that the top union leadership would be getting help from the feds as to who are the real ‘trouble-makers’ and who should be targeted. Sort of like happened with Occupy Wall Street. If I was those teacher’s I would be using encrypted messaging and not relying on Facebook.

    1. Carey

      When one notices the way the cookie consistently crumbles- i.e. never significantly in favor of the many- it’s hard not to imagine COINTELPRO and the like not still being active.

  15. Henry Moon Pie

    Some skeptics might not buy that little upturn in the Household Wealth chart for the bottom 50%, but I’m here to testify that it can happen. Just yesterday, we received a letter from the county auditor informing us that the value of our house had increased nearly 30%! I just feel so much more affluent.

    It will be less exhilarating when it’s time to pay property tax.

  16. clarky90

    It is called “Hate Vote”.

    We are all totally free to “Love Vote” for the neo lib/cons.

    However, voting against them is not not legitimate voting, but rather hate vote.

    Hate vote is a threat to OUR Democracy!

    1. Carey

      I think you are right. When She came up with “Love Trumps Hate” I started feeling the
      cattle chute narrowing. That continues.

  17. John k

    With today’s pop, Tesla not far from record high.
    Does seem a stretch to be profitable this q…
    Rough on the shorts if they do… or even cut losses in half…
    To have apples p/e of 18 they’d need to have a profit each q equal to the recent losses…

  18. blennylips

    “The Little Ion Engine That Could”

    Left out was the best, most poetically scientific thing a Little Ion Engine ever did!

    Blogs | Dawn Journal | March 6, 2015

    By Marc Rayman

    Dawn is exceptionally frugal in its use of xenon propellant. In this phase of the mission, the engine expends only a quarter of a pound (120 grams) per day, or the equivalent of about 2.5 fluid ounces (75 milliliters) per day. So although the thrust is very efficient, it is also very gentle. If you hold a single sheet of paper in your hand, it will push on your hand harder than the ion engine pushes on the spacecraft at maximum thrust. At today’s throttle level, it would take the distant explorer almost 11 days to accelerate from zero to 60 mph (97 kilometers per hour). That may not evoke the concept of a drag racer. But in the zero-gravity, frictionless conditions of spaceflight, the effect of this whisper-like thrust can build up. Instead of thrusting for 11 days, if we thrust for a month, or a year, or as Dawn already has, for more than five years, we can achieve fantastically high velocity. Ion propulsion delivers acceleration with patience.

    Kyle Stock should never be allowed to report again.

  19. VietnamVet

    If one looks at the West’s economy, it is clear that income inequality is a planned feature. The supranational institutions (European Central Bank) and multinational corporations (Bayer AG) are working exactly as intended to supersede democratic governments and prevent the redistribution of wealth that occurred following WWII. The free movement of capital, goods, services and people has been highly successful in dismantling the old order. Brexit and Donald Trump are fights over who controls the spoils. The real battle will be if the people can regain control and return sovereignty to democratic governments to provide for the funding of infrastructure, education, healthcare, food and housing.

  20. ewmayer

    Re. “The band of biologists who redrew the tree of life” [Nature] • [here Lambert:] “As usual — think gossip and back-channels in org charts — what is presented as a tree is in reality a graph.”

    Or perhaps the best-known example, the family “tree”. [I’ve actually always liked the Chinese inversion of this to the “family root”, which nicely captures the older ancestors literally sinking deeper into the earth, but both versions are technically incorrect.]

  21. kj1313

    Lambert, Not sure if you saw this but DSA’s National Director Maria Svart was on Washington Journal.

  22. ObjectiveFunction

    “If not this time, next time, and as long as they go back to non-voter status if their needs are ignored (“Nice little party you have here…”)”

    And after apathy (non-voter status), what comes next? The Archdruid warned it could be a taste for roadside bombs….

    But my own guess is that here in declinista America such atavism would take a more practical materialist bent at first: kidnap gangs targeting the families of the 0.01%. Existing cross-border narcotics gangs could easily turn to that if the fruits of big pharma keep displacing the tears of the poppy.

    So that Big Beautiful Wall might get some love from the elites after all, as well as being replicated around their enclaves. And the Second Amendment makes [private armies] executive protection services easy cheesy. Oh, and let’s get rid of cash too, shall we? Hmm, maybe those Chinese in Zhongnangai do have some rather good ideas….

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