2:00PM Water Cooler 8/8/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Trade

“China Imports Jump, Exports Robust as Trade War Yet to Take Toll” []. “China’s exports grew faster than expected, while imports surged, showing both domestic and international demand continue to shrug off the uncertainty of the trade conflict with the U.S. Exports rose 12.2% in July in dollar terms from a year earlier, the customs administration said Wednesday, faster than the forecast 10%. Imports climbed 27.3%, leaving a trade sur of $28 billion. As the world’s largest exporter, China is still benefiting from robust global demand, but increasing tensions and rising trade barriers with the U.S. are weighing on the outlook.” • Chinese data. I’d like to see a chart with the counter-parties…

“Port of Oakland’s monthly volume report reflects trade war tensions” []. “While the Port of Oakland is widely recognized as the chief U.S. West Coast gateway for exports, volume is down 1.8 percent through six months of 2018. Exports decreased 4.7 percent in June… June import volume was up 8.7 percent over June 2017, with spokesmen saying that two factors may have led to the increase: *Peak season – the summer-fall period when most U.S. imports from Asia are shipped – is expected to be strong. *Importers may have ordered aggressively in June ahead of tariffs imposed last month by the U.S. and China.”

“New and proposed tariffs flying between the U.S. and China have small businesses considering big changes. The tariffs have an outsize impact on smaller manufacturers like bicycle maker M25 Bikes of North Carolina and light switch provider Brilliant Home Technology Inc…, because they have little ability to deflect higher materials prices or pass along new costs to customers” []. “As a result, many are rethinking their strategies, suppliers and pricing. Several companies report they are putting expansion plans on hold amid uncertainty over trade, and others are looking at more drastic action in their supply chains. Companies including Nebia Inc., which makes shower heads in Minnesota, and contract manufacturer Altraco are considering moving factory work abroad to lower their raw materials costs, while others are weighing moves into the U.S., reasoning that averting the tariffs would offset higher labor costs.”

Politics

2020

“Deval Patrick’s private equity problem” []. “PATRICK: I describe myself as a capitalist. I’m not a market fundamentalist. I don’t think markets solve every problem just the right way. But I do believe in opportunity. I think we need an economy that is expanding and is expanding out, so it reaches people on the margins, not just up. And I think there is a right way and a wrong way to do that. And I think impact investing is an incredibly interesting and exciting way to participate in growth capitalism. So, no, I don’t buy all that.” • Warren/Patrick?

2018

UPDATE KS-04: “Thompson wins 4th District Democratic primary” []. “Thompson, a Wichita civil rights attorney, held Estes to a single-digit victory in the nation’s first congressional special election last year after President Donald Trump took office. Thompson defeated Laura Lombard in the Democratic primary. Democratic socialist rising star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez traveled to Wichita during the race to join Sen. Bernie Sanders at a campaign event for Thompson as Democrats look to flip a congressional seat once considered safely Republican.” • I’m not happy with , which includes “fighting for” and “access.”

UPDATE MI-13: “Tlaib: Brother’s golf cart helped her become first Muslim woman elected to Congress” []. “Unofficial results from early Wednesday showed Tlaib prevailed in the race to serve a two-year term with 33.2 percent of the vote over Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, who has 29.2 percent, with 96 percent of precincts reporting. The campaign, Tlaib said, spent countless hours since February knocking on more than 50,000 doors, speaking to families across the district from Romulus to Detroit’s east side. Tlaib’s brother, Rachid Elabed, also took an active role in the efforts. He bought a golf cart online and rode it throughout neighborhoods to reach more than 4,000 Arab-American voters from the Warrendale area, which has many Iraqi families, to the Yemeni population in southwest Detroit and Lebanese Americans near where she’s grown up.” • I’m either, which also includes “fight for” and “access.”

UPDATE MO: “Wesley Bell Takes Down Bob McCulloch in Prosecutor’s Race” []. “In a massive upset, Democratic Party voters showed McCulloch the door tonight, voting for challenger Wesley Bell 54.9 to 45 percent, with 89 percent of precincts reporting….McCulloch led a grand jury investigation into the actions of Ferguson officer Darren Wilson, who’d shot a teenaged Michael Brown, only to produce a no-bill.” • Schadenfreude, though long-delayed.

MO Ballot: “‘Anti-Union Forces Awoke a Sleeping Giant’: Voters Overturn a New Anti-Union Law” []. “After a years-long battle between labor unions and right-to-work advocates, Missouri voters on Tuesday killed a new law that prohibited labor groups and employers from requiring private-sector workers to pay union membership fees.”

* * *

“Ohio Special Election, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri and Washington” []. This is a very good overview of demographics in OH-12, Michigan, Kansas, Missouri and Washington (quoted below).

OH-12: “With all precincts reporting, Troy Balderson led Democrat Danny O’Connor by just 1,754 votes — less than 1 percent of the votes cast — for the suburban Columbus seat, according to the Ohio secretary of state’s office. But still to be counted were several thousand provisional ballots, a process that will take at least 10 days…. [Democrat] O’Connor didn’t concede defeat. ” []. • I believe that provisional ballots break Republican, at least in Ohio.

OH-12: “Democrats didn’t walk away with a clear win Tuesday night. But they didn’t necessarily have to. They essentially battled Republicans to a draw in a central Ohio congressional district that should have been an easy win for the GOP. It will take actual victories for Democrats to reclaim the majority, but even a too-close-to-call result was a sign of Democratic momentum and offered clues for how to run in November” []. OH-12 has a (PVI) R+7 (greater numbers mean more partisan). Check out the PVI column of Figure 5, “Districts Likely Targeted” (for picking up 23 seats) from Monday’s worksheet:

Only one of these target districts is R+7 and the rest are less. So by this metric — pundits call metrics like PVI and the generic ballot “fundamentals,” even though it’s actual voter behavior that’s fundamental, at least in functioning democracy — the Democrats are sitting in the catbird seat for winning back the House. Nevertheless, they still have to win actual seats, not moral victories, and this, in OH-12, they did not do. As ever, the question remains: Can these Democrats win?

OH-12: “Apart from the urban and suburban parts of Franklin and Delaware county where the Romney/Clinton voters live in high concentrations, Balderson won by huge margins in the district’s other five counties. The problem, however, is that he still ran behind Trump’s share of the vote in all but his home county of Muskingum. Even worse, turnout in each of these counties—which swung to Trump by up to 29 percent in 2016—was much lower compared to 2016 than it was in Delaware and Franklin. Again, some of that is because of Democratic enthusiasm, but some of it is also due to lack of enthusiasm from Obama/Trump backers” [].

And the demographics: “The 12th is heavily gerrymandered so it’s hard to draw any blanket conclusions about its populace. It contains heavily Democratic portions of Columbus, well-educated historically Republican suburbs in Delaware County, Republican outlying rural areas and some small cities like Mansfield and Zanesville that were historically Democratic or swingy but went heavily for Trump. So when analyzing the results it’s important to drill down at the local level if you want to extrapolate the results nationwide. To me the most interesting results will come from Delaware County. It’s the most educated county in Ohio – more than half of people over the age of 25 have a bachelor’s degree. But it’s also heavily Republican – the last Democrat it backed for president was Woodrow Wilson. However, while Mitt Romney won 61 percent of the vote here, Trump only got 55 percent. If O’Connor can run close to even with Balderson here not only does it mean that he’ll have a good shot at winning, but that the educated middle class areas that broke toward Democrats in 2016 are not reverting to their pre-Trump form. In other words, Conor Lamb’s win in March was proof that Democrats can win back their former voters who have trended toward Republicans. If Danny O’Connor does well in Delaware County it means that they can also win over disaffected historically Republican voters.” Here :

So, my hot take is that + Balderson doing just well enough in Delaware () will have allowed him to eke out the victory. Further, liberal Democrats (““) will take this moral victory as supporting what their theory of the case has been since July 2016: Run Republican Lite candidates (O’Connor boldly came out ), don’t run on policies like #MedicareForAll, don’t try to expand the electorate, and appeal to wealthy suburban Republicans. (This logic feels static to me; low rural turnout may mean Republicans are in trouble; it may also mean that Republicans, who are good at this, have plenty of time to adjust and fix the problem.) Hilarity would ensue if they won a moral victory in November, too.

* * *

NY-12:

About to kick off our 1st Bronx Town Hall with !

Today’s Town Hall theme is Labor. We’ll be talking about day care workers, Toys R Us, a Federal Jobs Guarantee, Medicare for All & more.

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018)

A relief to see ACO hasn’t forgotten the district, or policy, or the working class. ACO is also very good at the Twitter, a . (Also, I like the idea of sans culottes near a major power center like Wall Street.)

“The Anti-Clinton Women of 2018” []. “The argument advanced by most pundits is that the number and range of women running in 2018 is a result of Donald Trump’s election and subsequent policies that are hostile to women. We argue, however, that these candidates were motivated less by Trump’s policies and more by their disenchantment with the Democratic Party establishment, which Clinton so embodied…. Enter Abrams, Ocasio-Cortez, and other women such as Kara Eastman, another newcomer who beat an establishment candidate for the Democratic nomination in Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District. They are proud liberals who tend to advocate for policies much farther left than those of Clinton and other long-serving Democrats. This seems counterintuitive: Knowing they lost in 2016 — and seeing how the Republican Party has moved farther right — why would Democrats shift even farther away from the center?” • Because they want to win their districts?

“Tempers Flare Among Prince George’s County Democrats” []. Lots of juicy detail: “Theresa Mitchell Dudley, president of the county’s Education Association, was one of two people nominated to replace Salome Peters, the outgoing chair. She placed a chain on a table to make her point that the county is controlled ‘by the master who lives in Calvert County,’ referring to Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. Miller, who also represents a portion of Prince George’s…. ‘Just because your person didn’t win, don’t take it out on me,’ said Dudley, who voted for former NAACP President Ben Jealous in the gubernatorial primary. Jealous defeated eight other opponents including Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III who had support from high-ranking state Democrats such as Miller, former Governor Martin O’Malley and Attorney General Brian Frosh….. Cheryl Landis was nominated over Dudley by a 17-3 vote, with three members abstaining. Landis, who Baker supported, read prepared remarks with hopes of unity.” Here are those remarks:

[LANDIS]: We have the beginning of a very, very long journey and for all intense and purposes, we really don’t know one another that well. But in spite of that fact, it remains contingent [sic] upon us to establish ourselves as a committed and highly respected group of professionals [serving] the community.

Paging Thomas Frank! One can only wonder how many meetings like this there are right now; I’m guessing a lot. Remember that “.”

New Cold War

“Opinion: How a senior DOJ official helped Dem researchers on Trump-Russia case” [John Solomon, ]. “Hundreds of pages of previously unreported emails and memos provide the clearest evidence yet that a research firm, hired by Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to find dirt on and defeat Donald Trump, worked early and often with the FBI, a Department of Justice (DOJ) official and the intelligence community during the 2016 presidential election and the early days of Trump’s presidency. Fusion GPS’s work and its involvement with several FBI officials have been well reported. But a close review of these new documents shows just how closely Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, who reported to Obama-era Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, maintained with Fusion — and, in particular, its primary source, former British spy Christopher Steele — before, during and after the election.”

“The ‘Witch Hunters'” [Tim Weiner, ]. Reviews Hayden, Comey, and Clapper’s books. Filtering for cray cray: “Trump may be paranoid, but he has real enemies among the emeriti of the intelligence establishment, and among them are the authors of three new books that collectively have sold up to a million copies…. In the weird world that is Washington today, these politically conservative national security stalwarts—reviled by liberals, with reason, for their actions in office—have emerged as members of the opposition to Trump and as the focus of extreme ire from the right…” But then there’s this: “James Comey first encountered Donald Trump in the gilded palace of Trump Tower on January 6, 2017. He (along with Clapper and Brennan) were to deliver their unanimous assessment of the Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 election….” • Well, only if you believe that the verdict of 3 of 17 agencies is unanimous — to be fair, “3 of 3” is indeed unanimous — and in a report, and not a Finding. It’s worth a read, if only for the spectacle of watching a relatively reasonable liberal try to stand upright in the enormous cross-currents of disinformation coming from all sides. There’s also a discussion of the “Deep State,” showing again, as if it needed to be shown, how usefully malleable the concept is. (The style is a little breathless, though; I understand its hard to breath when you’re fighting off an attack of hysteria.) Link from the above, back in April–

“The ‘deep state’ is real. But are its leaks against Trump justified?” [Jack Goldsmith, ]. “But even if we focus narrowly on the intelligence bureaucracies that conduct and use information collected secretly in the homeland, including the FBI, National Security Agency (NSA), and National Security Council, there is significant evidence that the deep state has used secretly collected information opportunistically and illegally to sabotage the president and his senior officials – either as part of a concerted movement or via individuals acting more or less independently. The hard questions are whether this sabotage is virtuous or abusive, whether we can tell, and what the consequences of these actions are. Since Trump was elected, unusually sensitive leaks of intelligence information designed to discredit him and his senior leadership have poured forth from current and former intelligence officials in the deep state.” • I know I’m a broken record on this, but there’s a legitimacy issue here that’s been present throughout: Should the intelligence community be able to veto the selection of a President based on evidence the public cannot see? Obviously, there’s an enormous power struggle involved in this change to “our” Constitutional orde — personalities and daily politics aside — and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Players are willing to go very far in pursuit of such stakes…

The Liberal Democrats Have Lost Their Minds

As usual, blame the voters:

OMG. Green Party is one of the top trends on Twitter right now with 51,400 tweets. Ppl blaming them on the Ohio loss because they can't do basic math *face palm*

50.2% Republican 49.3% Democratic 0.5% Green

EVEN IF ALL GREENS VOTED DEMOCRAT, THE DEMS WOULD LOSE! BASIC MATH!

— Your Favorite Polack 🌹 (@konradstrzalka)

The Beltway amplifies, with — hold onto your hats here, folks — RussiaRussiaRussia:

Remember, Russians gave support to Greens in 2016 and are likely to encourage them in November. Beware.

— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein)

Never the candidate, never the policies, never the strategy, “We own your vote!”, rah rah rah, blah, blah, blah…

Realignment and Legitimacy

A good question:

A thing I’ve always wondered about this whole Russian narrative is why, if the Russians are a real threat to election security, aren’t Dems proposing legislation to protect the ballot boxes, like moving to a paper ballot sys?

— Spiny Norman Still Follows Pandactivist (@PandActivist)

Stats Watch

Consumer Credit, June 2018: “Consumer credit came in below expectations” []. “The decline in revolving credit suggests the consumer regained the prudent spending habits characteristic of most the months in the first half of the year.” And: “More Q2 weakness” []. And but: “Not only does this data set suffer from backward revision (at times moderate to significant enough to change trends), but the use of compounding (projecting monthly change as annual change) by the Federal Reserve to determine consumer credit growth rates exaggerates the volatility in this data” [].

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of August 3, 2018: “Purchase applications for home mortgages fell” []. [T]he fourth weekly decline in a row.”

Cash: “The Real Cost Of Hoarding Cash” []. “According to new data from NerdWallet, the average American adult is . Given a median wage $44,564 per year and the fact that a large chunk of the adult population does not save at all, that stash suggests that there’s a sizable portion of the adult population hoarding much more than six months’ worth of expenses. In fact, a good 39 percent of Americans say they aren’t investing at present.”

Shipping: “Maersk Cuts Profit Forecast as Shipping Slump Deepens” []. “A.P. Moeller-Maersk, the world’s biggest cargo carrier, warned Tuesday its earnings would be weaker than expected this year due to rising fuel prices, soft freight rates and escalating trade tensions…. Container shipping moves 98% of the world’s manufactured goods, but freight rates are about half of break-even levels across major trade routes. Rates have declined despite a wave of consolidation over the past two years that has resulted in only about a half dozen global operators.” • Holy moly! Whose running the show? The non-AWS part of Amazon?

Shipping: “Unfilled jobs are growing as an expanding economy demands more labor and a low unemployment rate leaves fewer workers available. The number of unfilled jobs in the Labor Department’s transportation, warehousing and utilities category grew by 109,000 over the past year to 298,000, a 58% increase” [].

Shipping: “Short-term health insurance plans: Should truck drivers consider them?” []. “Besides offering much cheaper premiums (some as low as $25 per month), short-term plans are not required to cover pre-existing conditions, as ACA plans must. Depending on the plan, they also may not cover things such as maternity, mental health, prescription drugs or substance abuse treatment, or any of the 10 essential health benefits required by the ACA. These include doctor visits for illness, emergency services, hospitalization, rehab and laboratory tests and services. Short-term plans also usually include annual or lifetime dollar limits, which are not allowed on Obamacare plans.” • These are distinct from association plans, which have not yet been rolled out. I’m filing this here, as opposed to health care, since the trucker labor market encourages this type of insurance (if health insurance there must be).

Shipping: “Rails increasingly in sweet spot as trucking capacity crisis hits peak season” []. “Railroads are capitalizing on the acute shortage of drivers in the trucking industry as capacity constraints limit truckers’ ability to compete on some long-haul deferred bulk freight.” • I don’t see any numbers, so I dunno. “Bulk freight” means hundred mile-long unit trains of coal for China, and hundred mile container trains of consumer goods from China. How much of that work did trucks ever do?

Manufacturing: “Time To Buy A Lada? Russian Auto Sales Are Booming” []. “Russia’s flagship carmaker AvtoVAZ, which manufactures Lada vehicles, is posting record sales domestically and internationally… In 2017, Russian car sales totaled 1.6 million units, up 11.9 percent from the previous year, but still only around half of the nearly 3 million units sold in 2012 when the market was booming. Meanwhile, Russia’s passenger car exports surged by 24.1 percent in 2017, to 84,400 units, at a total monetary value of $1.32 billion….”

Manufacturing: “With a Small but Mighty Bracket, BMW Raises the Roof on 3-D Printing” []. “The roof bracket—the mechanism that makes the soft top on the Roadster rise and lower, fold and unfold, quickly in a zigzag configuration—is the first 3-D printed metal component that has been successfully mass-produced, albeit in low volumes. It is also 44% lighter than the conventionally manufactured roof bracket for the previous Roadster model…. The part needed to lift, push and pull the weight of the roof, requiring a complex sculptural structure that was impossible to cast.” • Science is popping….

Manufacturing: “Revitalizing American manufacturing” []. “Perhaps the biggest challenges facing U.S. manufacturers, especially those in rural areas like [Alleghany County], is the need for ‘the revitalization of the bones of our infrastructure, sewer, water and structures that can’t support some opportunities,’ a ready workforce, and manufacturing’s brand issue. Too many people still think of manufacturing the way it was in the 20’s and 30’s. ‘They don’t realize that it’s high tech, highly skilled and computer assisted,’ [Tom Reed, NY-23] said. ‘But, I think we’re beginning to see a renaissance.'” • You could airdrop a 3D printing machine into every small manufacturing town in America. You could also airdrop a piano into every classroom, and expect that to be enough to teach children music….

Fodder for the Bulls: “U.S. companies’ sales growth is accelerating — here are the biggest winners” []. “As we near the end of earnings season, two trends are clear: Profits have gone through the roof, helped by lower corporate income taxes. But sales have also increased remarkably, and that trend started before the tax cuts went into effect…. According to the most recently available quarterly data through Aug. 7, 267 S&P 500 companies increased their sales per share by 10% or more from a year earlier.” •

The Bezzle: “Did Elon Musk break any laws with his going-private tweet today?” []. “Regulation Fair Disclosure, or FD, requires companies ‘to distribute material information in a manner reasonably designed to get that information out to the general public broadly and non-exclusively.’… [But in a Tesla 8-K from 2013] “after first suggesting teslamotors.com for information on products, ir.teslamotors.com for Tesla investors, and teslamotors.com/press for press releases and the Tesla blog, it does read, ‘for additional information, please follow Elon Musk’s and Tesla’s Twitter accounts.’… With over 22 million followers as of Tuesday, Musk’s Twitter presence is not obscure, and his tweet was nearly simultaneously broadcast through financial business media. Wouldn’t Musk’s lawyer argue that the tweet was available to everyone?”

Health Care

“Workplace Wellness Programs Don’t Work Well. Why Some Studies Show Otherwise.” []. “Wellness programs sometimes claim to save money by reducing health care spending. The observational analysis supports this belief. It found that participants spent significantly less than nonparticipants on health care ($525 versus $657) and on hospital-related costs ($273 versus $387). The randomized controlled trial showed that the wellness program had little effect on spending compared with the control group in both overall spending ($576 versus $568) and hospital spending ($317 versus $297)….. Why such stark differences? ‘The most likely explanation is that participants differ from nonparticipants in very important ways,’ said Julian Reif, one of the study’s principal investigators. ‘Therefore, when a wellness program is offered, the differences seen between those who take advantage of it and those who don’t are due to differences in the people rather than differences from the program.'” • ObamaCare incentivized wellness programs; sadly, I never got round to doing a take-down, since too many other wheels kept falling off the wagon. Of course, Wellness programs are good for something: Employee surveillance; an.

Our Famously Free Press

The 1% on the press:

When people show you who they are, believe them. With that in mind, we present this comment from Susan Allan Block, wife of Allan Block, the chairman of Block Communications Inc. and its serves as its principal executive officer.

— BladeGuild ⚔️ 📰 (@bladeguild)

Class Warfare

“Tech Workers and Flight Attendants Resist Immigrant Family Separation” []. “Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) don’t operate in a vacuum. They depend on a host of products and services—including technology produced by software engineers and travel assisted by flight attendants.” • Note this is an assault on a fragile supply chain (as detailed here). We can think of ICE and CBP as particularly brutal and not very competent intermediaries.

News of The Wired

“A Buddhism Critic Goes on a Silent Buddhist Retreat” []. “The retreat convinced me that contemplation can reproduce the effects of psychedelics, a claim I have long doubted.” • $1800 a pop, though.

“All the cat facts you need for International Cat Day” []. “Wednesday is International Cat Day, when encourages the globe to celebrate the domesticated felines that have been keeping humans company for more than 9,000 years — and whose owners drop almost $100 a month on average doting on.” • The cat didn’t show up today, which is odd, and worries me because last night I saw him on the other side of the street. Cats do roam, but this cat really likes routine.

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “This lovely orange rose is an unlabeled member of a rose garden at the entrance of Los Angeles Southwest College in Westmont California. I like how the bee’s pollen pocket color coordinates with the blooms. So, I’d like to know why, if a bee’s wings beat 230 times a second, they are completely blurred with a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second. Granted, this one isn’t exactly at the focal plane, but I don’t think that accounts for the apparent absence of wings that appears more like the results of motion faster than a shutter speed (ISO 400, f/11, shutter=1/1000, zoom=403.2mm).

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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.

142 comments

    1. Knifecatcher

      I’m in the middle of a debate on our company’s internal off-topic e-mail group. The subject is – I kid you not – a family-blogging smartphone app based voting system called Voatz.

      After I strongly called for the use of the gold-standard voting technology – paper ballots, hand marked and counted in public – our CISO responded with the following brilliant observation:

      “Electronic voting is absolutely going to happen. We need to help make sure it happens securely.”

      This kind of tautology drives me insane. Electronic voting is happening because it’s happening, whether or not there are any advantages large enough to outweigh the massive disadvantages.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        See yesterday’s Water Cooler for links on Voatz (“it rhymes with stoats”).

        * * *

        “The rain is falling. We need to make sure it falls upward, back into the sky.”

        Does your manager have pointy hair?

        Reply
      2. dk

        Airplane systems have a lot of redundancy, planes can be flown by wire but that operation is to be monitored by live pilots in the cockpit. Commercial aircraft (which have the reliability cited) are checked and calibrated before each flight, and maintained afterward each flight. And if they don’t pass, they don’t fly! Flight 321 to Oblivion has been delayed… awwww, airlines are terrible! That’s what it takes to get such good performance out of machinery, and computers and phones and the internet are still machines. They fail regularly, they just do it gracefully (mostly), we refresh the page and think no more about it.

        Elevators are generally inspected every 12 months, if they don’t have any problems. A lot of characteristics of elevator installation and maintenance are specified by insurers, who are generally risk adverse. The technology has a narrow and well-specified purpose, and decades of lessons are built into the current state of that art. They’re designed to completely stop operating if a single system fails. A sensor thinks the door is sticking? Elevator stops. Go call maintenance. Take the steps (redundant backup on a completely independent system!).

        Here’s a tweet (sorry, and emphasis mine):

        This is a traffic light controller.

        See the big box with a screen? That’s a full Linux server running the lights.

        See the smaller box to the right? It’s a failsafe. Its only job is to make sure the computer doesn’t turn on conflicting greens.

        Does your system have a failsafe?

        I hope you can get some people to think harder in your company’s discussion. I’ve had to deal with CISO’s like that, I’ve lost several jobs calling them out. In every case, gotten calls (or texts) years later from the CEOs…

        “And if it makes you feel any better – you were right … Your words haunt me daily about that!”

        Reply
        1. ObjectiveFunction

          Fantastic post. When “six sigma” or “five nines” of reliability is needed, it’s needed. (of course it isn’t needed everywhere)

          Reply
        2. Knifecatcher

          The CISO stopped responding when several others backed me up – including the guy most would point to as the smartest dude in the company. Calling him a computer security genius would not be hyperbole.

          He agreed 100% with the XKCD comic as well. So there is hope!

          Reply
      3. JohnnyGL

        Greg Palast has remarked that there’s a very sophisticated machine which is incredibly fast and accurate at judging voter intent on a ballot……it’s called the human eyeball!!!

        Reply
      1. Angie Neer

        1) Never trust a program that has not been thoroughly debugged.
        2) No program is ever thoroughly debugged.

        Reply
    2. Skip Intro

      As always with XKCD, the alt-text is important:

      There are lots of very smart people doing fascinating work on cryptographic voting protocols. We should be funding and encouraging them, and doing all our elections with paper ballots until everyone currently working in that field has retired.

      Reply
  1. Samuel Conner

    Re: bee wing blur: @ 230 wing beats/second, a 1/1000 s exposure would be spread over almost a quarter wing beat, so it would be very blurred.

    Re: Lowry dissing Bernie: he doesn’t seem to notice that some of Bernie’s ideas (M4A, for example) are quite well received across the political spectrum. I used to read NRO regularly, but after WFB’s passing, it seemed to become even more ideologically siloed. I’ve been a bit surprised that RL gets as much exposure in more mainstream forums as he does.

    Reply
  2. diptherio

    A day of telling averages:

    “According to new data from NerdWallet, the average American adult is currently holding $32,286 cash.

    And yet 60% of Americans can’t scrape together $1000.

    “Wednesday is International Cat Day, when the International Fund for Animal Welfare encourages the globe to celebrate the domesticated felines that have been keeping humans company for more than 9,000 years — and whose owners drop almost $100 a month on average doting on.”

    Who is spending $1200 a year on their cat? Answer: no one. Most people probably spend around $30 a month and a few people are .

    On average, our world is insane. Just sayin’.

    Reply
    1. The other Jean

      Sometimes people shell out big bucks for their critter’s health. Can confirm, have done so myself. Don’t regret spending the money – my kitty lived 5 more happy years.

      Reply
      1. polecat

        So, what if it’s money you don’t have .. what then ?? The whole ‘Bernaysian/Madison Avenue Industrial Pet Grift Machine’ marches onward … often compelling one to go into debt, for the sake of Fifi or Fido .. or, to a lessor degree, Sam the Iguana .. as it churns out ever moar ‘petjunk’ (often in the form of cheap disposable plastic goo gahs !) using precious resources to produce megatons of kitty litter, or toxic pet food and the like ! And what of the folks who can’t afford for their own personal health care needs, but nevertheless spend the world for their four-footed companion(s)
        And mind you, this just Pets .. as it purtains to the greater human ego .. !

        Reply
    2. pretzelattack

      we need a gates tracker, so when he goes to a bar we can all join him and get rich. then we can spend more money on our cats.

      Reply
    3. FreeMarketApologist

      The casual comparison of ‘average’ and ‘median’ values in that article bothers me. To their credit, the NerdWallet article later says:

      Worth noting: The median amount Americans have in cash is just $2,000, suggesting some wealthy savers are skewing the average figure.

      So: Median Wage: $44,564; median cash: $2,000 (4%), which doesn’t seem so bad. But, both articles were mostly interested in convincing people to invest money in the markets, so have a ‘cash is bad’ bias.

      Reply
      1. Angie Neer

        Hear, hear! Translating “people spend an average of X” into “the average person spends X” is incredibly misleading, yet it is nearly universal usage. A competent journalist (or headline writer) should know the difference, but that seems to be asking a lot.

        Reply
        1. Conrad

          The level of innumeracy amongst the general population is frightening. Journalists simply reflect this sad fact.

          Reply
    4. Burritonomics

      Averages are worse than useless in a land of extremes. My eye starts twitching anytime I see articles invoking averages like that. My eye twitches a lot these days…

      Reply
    5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      That Natinal Debt = Private Sector Savings + Foreigners in this case means all the money (savings) did not go to those in need.

      More National Debt may not change that fact much.

      A better distributed and smaller (yes, even smaller) National Debt does.

      Reply
    6. Pat

      Wow. $30 dollars a month? That would have been low for me even before my cat was diagnosed with diabetes. Food and litter would easily run around $50, of course I’m shopping in Manhattan so pay the cost of real estate with every purchase.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        i dont think that includes vet bills. i used to my small dog on around that much a month, but the vet bills toward the end of his life got pretty hefty.

        Reply
        1. Pat

          There is the litter cost for cats which might make the difference. Now that he has to eat low carbohydrate food, the food costs a lot more. Funny how that makes it more expensive.

          Vet costs are a pretty penny. Mind you I’m with the Other Jean above. My animals are family and worth what I can do. I have no regrets about money spent in their care.

          Reply
      2. diptherio

        I don’t live in Manhattan. A 20 lbs bag of cat food is around $20 and kitty litter (before I lived in the country where such things are unnecessary) was about $12 for a month+ supply.

        So maybe my estimates are a little on the low side…but $100 a month seems way to high to me.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the Hippie

          yup. $15 for 20# of kibble at the store. lasts 3 months(currently supplemented with grasshoppers, which makes me inordinately proud)
          $5 for litter, which only gets used maybe a third of the time, since he’s outside all day.
          country vet to “fix him” after boys rescued wet black thing from ditch, long ago.
          once again for a cat fight when we first moved back out here.
          Minor vet stuff is on me(a thankless task, indeed)
          I know people who spend a fortune on their dogs and cats…who often can’t afford it in the first place.
          we even have at least 2 dog groomers around here, which is rather remarkable, given the demographics.
          One of them even does house calls.

          Reply
        2. JBird

          That would be nice for me as my finances… are just sad, but my geriatric four tooth cat can only have wet food. And the betterish stuff as any of the discount brands have made my cats act poorly. So $50 per month per cat kitty litter.

          More seriously on the cat food, all the cheap food has grains usually rice. Cats, unlike humans and dogs, are pure carnivores and even eating the super processed grains does a number on their health. The grain free stuff, although more expensive, just might save some bills a few years later and the cat will almost certainly be healthier.

          Reply
    7. foghorn longhorn

      Leave out the gates and the bezos class and there is no effing way the average American is holding 32k in cash.
      This is just insane.
      Just make it up and print it out, can’t imagine why the msm is laying everybody off.

      Reply
    8. Yves Smith

      I spent easily $2400 in one year on dentistry on my cat (poor guy only has 2 teeth left). If you have their teeth cleaned annually (makes a difference in longevity), that’s over $500 due among other things to the rapacious cost of the blood test to make sure their kidneys can handle the anesthesia (monopoly lab owned by PE). And the vet will insist on a checkup on top of that, so you are easily half way there on vet bills alone. And I get the environmentally responsible litter, which isn’t cheap either (more like $15 a month for one cat….)

      Reply
  3. bsg

    Outstanding provisional votes in OH12 district wide – (roughly) 3700
    Outstanding provisional votes in OH12 Franklin County – (roughly) 1300

    Usually 80-90% of provisional ballots are counted, I suspect the number will be closer to 90% for this election.

    That would require 76% of the provisional ballots to go to O’Connor to flip the result, and that is extremely unlikely. Provisional ballot ratios do not often skew far away from election day ballots.

    Reply
  4. dcblogger

    “Tempers Flare Among Prince George’s County Democrats” [Washington Examiner]

    that should be Washington Informer, the Washington Examiner and Washington Informer are as different as black from white.

    Reply
  5. diptherio

    Fellow Montanan Hank Green musing on the corporate autocracy that is the social media platform ecosystem.

    Does Ted Cruz have a point? No, he doesn’t. But he did make me think a lot about what I accidentally signed up for when I started accidentally imagining myself as a citizen of social spaces that are owned by corporations.

    Reply
  6. Dita

    Re: Elon Musk’s tweet, well I didn’t expect that one as I associate tweets like that with penny stock pump & dumps. Time will tell…

    Reply
    1. Larry

      I would think a bigger problem with the notion that Musks tweets are sufficient disclosure is that he still blocks people. If company disclosures suggest following Musks account, how can he legally block anybody?

      Reply
  7. Big River Bandido

    Can these Democrats win?

    The operative question is “which Democrats?” The answer to that tells you whether they can win or not.

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Until well-proven otherwise, Democrat = bad.

      “Change” “Access” “Fighting For”

      If this is the language they use in *the friggin primaries*, not hard to imagine
      what they’d do in office™; i.e., nothing good for the 90%.

      Reply
      1. Henry Moon Pie

        And so they keep saying that a vote for the Greens is a vote for Republicans.

        No it’s not. If the Democrats would like to see what it would be like if voters who think the D’s platform is a pile of centrist bafflegab would actually vote for Republicans instead of Greens, then I’m happy to go for it. In fact, that would be even better because it would then be easier to vote against Democrats at every ballot level.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Agreed, and I will be doing just that here in CA-24, at least in the Congressional race. No unearned vote for you, Salud Carbajal!

          Reply
      2. Whoa Molly!

        “Until well-proven otherwise, Democrat = bad.” – Carey.

        Exactly!

        PS: I was one of the mopes who voted straight D for 40 years. Never again. Until well-proven otherwise every D is a lying sack of (family blog) like the guy who bailed out the bankers in ’08.

        Reply
  8. fresno dan

    “The ‘deep state’ is real. But are its leaks against Trump justified?” [Jack Goldsmith, Guardian] ………
    • I know I’m a broken record on this, but there’s a legitimacy issue here that’s been present throughout: Should the intelligence community be able to veto the selection of a President based on evidence the public cannot see? Obviously, there’s an enormous power struggle involved in this change to “our” Constitutional orde — personalities and daily politics aside — and the stakes couldn’t be higher. Players are willing to go very far in pursuit of such stakes…
    ========================

    FROM THE ARTICLE: The new leader of Democrats in the Senate says Donald Trump is being “really dumb” for picking a fight with intelligence officials, suggesting they have ways to strike back, after the president-elect speculated Tuesday that his “so-called” briefing about Russian cyberattacks had been delayed in order to build a case.

    “Let me tell you: You take on the intelligence community — they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer Tuesday evening on MSNBC after host Rachel Maddow informed him that intelligence sources told NBC news that the briefing had not been delayed.
    ================================
    Sooooo….does Schumer NOW think the intelligence community is full of nothing but virtuous, altruistic, truth telling angels….

    Reply
      1. MartyH

        On “ you can drop a 3d printer” … yeah, but teaching people to do the work to make the latest high-tech gizmo into a profitable (local?) business is high level wizardry.

        Reply
  9. Darthbobber

    Regarding that 32000+ the average adult holds in cash (largely CDs seemingly), when you go to the Nerdwallet piece linked for that it mentions only that they did a survey and this was the number. No info at all about the survey itself. The number is as good or bad as the methodology.

    My survey says 40000 per adult roughly.
    Population of survey was me and my spouse.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      When I went to business school, one prof spent an entire half session telling us it was imperative to ASAP get 6 months of income on hand in cash for emergencies and fuck you money if you ever needed to quit an untenable situation. Now that is treated as bad. Help me.

      I agree that for too many, that sort of basic safety buffer is a luxury. But telling people to throw that into the markets when super low interest rates mean you aren’t getting paid enough for risk? And this is supposed to be financial advice?

      Reply
  10. Nick H

    OH-12: My wife and I live in northern Franklin county (Clintonville nonetheless, but named after Jefferson’s VP)…and we went to our local watering hole last night to watch the results come in after we voted. It was really neat — the crowd was diverse, ethnically and economically, and throughout the evening as the lead bounced back and forth, supporters from both sides would either cheer or boo. There was a lot of good-natured ribbing and more laughs than anything else. Hands down the most fun we’ve ever had watching an election result…and definitely restores some of my faith that we’re not as polarized as the media might make us seem.

    Reply
    1. IowanX

      I’d expect that in a district that close to Columbus. I assume there’s enough wealth sloshing through your area to keep people calm. I think in cities and suburbs polarization is in check but, when I think to my home town, and the rural cities I’ve lived in, and the “Friends” FB , the Electoral College advantage for red states, my conclusion is that there really IS a rural urban divide, which is persistent. I’ll be interested to see by how much Steve King wins in Iowa. Should he be upset, the worm has turned.

      Reply
  11. Hameloose Cannon

    US domestic dealers of weldable aluminum alloy have raised prices of their pre-tariff China-import inventory, despite no tariffs due. Fine. But then American manufacturers raise the price of their aluminum alloys to match the prices of Chinese imports because it is easier than [and just as profitable as] increasing production capacity. Objective political dividend-sustaining Growth is nowhere to be found. Fine. I get it. But remind me, one, how tariffs create jobs? Two, why the nature of tariff policy is described as populist policy besides both policies having in common the failure to achieve goals and a vague steampunk-esque lameness? Three, how is this not a scheme to increase Russian exports of aluminum alloy [and apparently dumb cars (see above) without even Yugo’s proletariat charming craftsmanship]? And four, is this the product of deep state president-jamming? Like as if DARPA developed a corruption ray that disabled its target into acting like a morally simple, avarice-addled, Drek-Midas.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Tariffs aren’t claimed to create jobs. They’re proposed to SHIFT jobs between countries, and in the relatively long term, since it takes time to build or refurbish new capacity.

      They aren’t necessarily a good way to do that, especially when applied to raw materials like metals.

      Reply
    2. a different chris

      Yeah but that’s the short-term effect… you simply can’t increase real-things production capacity by flipping a switch. Thus jobs don’t appear instantly. Once the prices settle out the battle for market share should logically restart.

      Now I don’t believe logic much drives the late-industrial US economy but you apparently do. So why do you think the immediate effect is going to persist against, again, all logic?

      ..this is not in support of Trumps action in particular, but against knee-jerk “tariff are bad, m’kay” thinking.

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        St. Ronny Raygun placed tariffs on Japanese motorcycles over 650cc to save then AMF/HARLEY DAVIDSON, whose path could be detected by the trail of oil they left.
        He was lauded as an HERO.

        Reply
  12. BoyDownTheLane

    “The retreat convinced me that contemplation can reproduce the effects of psychedelics, a claim I have long doubted.” • $1800 a pop, though.”

    Months ago, here, I said contemplation can reproduce the effects of psychedelics. A Zen chime, a not-too-soft cushion and a seat in one’s own back garden will help you save most of that $1,800. We have a deck overlooking a koi pond with water lillies, hyacinth, (the lotus didn’t survive the winter), and a dual waterfall surrounded by songbirds. I would be delighted to welcome guests, with lobster bisque afterwards, for $500 a pop.

    Reply
        1. BoyDownTheLane

          No croutons, no mushrooms of any type, lobster salad and bread is a side, and the bisque gets a conservative amount of the best port sherry I can find that will match up properly on the palate.

          Reply
          1. polecat

            What about the BEER ?
            Can’t have salad, bread, and bisque without a fine brew .. !!

            Sorry .. didn’t mean to shout.

            Reply
    1. Lee

      I used to attend daily meditation and Sesshins at the Berkeley Zen center in the SF bay area when I was poor as a church mouse.

      Haven’t been in awhile so I checked their website and it appears they continue to operate in the same enlightened way as they did when I was a regular attendee. Good for them!

      Members of BZC are people who participate regularly and frequently in BZC activities. They may: vote in BZC elections, hold leadership positions, borrow books from the library, and receive many other benefits. The level of dues requested from a member is $40 per month, according to BZC policy. It is understood that some members may be unable to afford the standard amount. We also hope that members who can contribute more than $40 per month will do so.

      That’s a lot of Zen for your buck.

      Reply
        1. flora

          adding: link works with Windows IE and Netscape and some older versions of Firefox. Newer Firefox versions might only display a black screen.

          Reply
    2. Whoa Molly!

      “The retreat convinced me that contemplation can reproduce the effects of psychedelics, a claim I have long doubted.”

      I once had the good fortune to spend a little time hanging out with a Dzogchen teacher. I found the meditation techniques and overall approach to be very practical and useful.

      Good writing, and good observations. Toward the end of the article,I felt the the writer slid into characterizing ‘enlightenment’ as an intellectual concept and something to ‘get’. Like getting an “A” on a paper.

      If the writer had a ‘low grade psychedelic experience’ I’d guess he/she is fairly sensitive and open to shifts of consciousness. People who are less sensitive (as one of my teachers said, ‘dull’) have to sit on the damn meditation cushion every day for years to have a similar experience.

      Reply
  13. Unna

    So I looked up the 2018 4X4 3 Door Lada and it sure looks cool. Rugged. Nice off road tires. 5 speed manual. I mean who would buy something like this with an automatic? Looks like it even has a second shift for very low 4X4 gearing, so no all wheel drive nonsense for this vehicle. Just what we could use out here in the middle of nowhere. My only question: is it more reliable than a Jeep Wrangler?

    Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        From the article:

        The Niva was never the best of road cars, but off road, with its minimal 1210kg weight, narrow tyres, low-ratio transfer gearbox and diff lock, it was formidable across the mucky stuff. And when you had got both it and yourself covered in mud and goo, you could fling open the doors and hose out the interior.

        Useful during the Russian mud season!

        I wonder if people can repair the Lada themselves?

        Reply
        1. RMO

          “I wonder if people can repair the Lada themselves?” Yes they can, that’s the upside. Downside is they’ll be repairing it fairly frequently. They are also tiring to drive on the road (noisy, rough riding and crude inside) and they’re deathtraps by modern safety standards… but they really do work offroad. Small and light and nearly unstoppable. The biggest problem that people I knew here in Canada that owned them had to face was their propensity for rust. Not much else seems to have changed on them since those days but if they have improved the corrosion resistance of the body one could be pretty good for people who actually need a vehicle that earns its keep in the dirt.

          Reply
    1. Kurt Sperry

      Older farmers in Tuscany seem to adore their Lada 4x4s, they can be seen putting the strade bianche almost anywhere.

      Reply
  14. a different chris

    There’s a lot of (family blog) going down with the Blocks, they also own the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the tension is almost palpable. Such that the staff wrote an op-ed against it’s own leadership!

    Reply
  15. djrichard

    The reporter followed up and asked Jealous for a direct answer as to whether he identifies as a socialist.

    That’s when he responded with the F-word phrase [“Are you f—- kidding me?”], smiling, and added: “Is that a fine enough point? OK.”

    [Subsequently offline] “I’m a venture capitalist, not a socialist. I have never referred to myself as a socialist nor would I govern as one,” Jealous wrote.

    Where’s Sen Bulworth when you need him?

    Reply
  16. Wellstone's Ghost

    It is my understanding that provisional ballots are never counted. Hence their other name, placebo ballots. Am I wrong about this?

    Reply
    1. LifelongLib

      It’s been several years, but IIRC when I worked at polling places here in Hawaii we would issue a provisional ballot to someone who insisted on voting even though they weren’t on the poll list. My understanding is that the ballot would only be counted if the person was actually qualified to vote at that polling place.

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        Seem to recall that early ballots/mail in ballots were only counted if the total number of said ballots was greater than the deficit.
        IE 150,000 ballots, 100,000 difference.
        That could be just a Texas thing, we are strange ya know.

        Reply
  17. timotheus

    Re: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Town Hall

    I attended to observe the composition of the attendees and the dynamics of the event. Both were refreshing. As a veteran of dozens of these (usually deadly) events, the contrast with SOP was stark. Normally, His/Her Grace the Elected Poobah enters the hall, the waters part leading to the podium, s/he commandeers the microphone, reels off the many ways in which s/he is a wondrous being defending the community in all ways, smiles for the cameras and departs.

    AOC slipped quietly into a seat in the audience (heavy union presence, community groups tabling in the back) and listened to the line-up of speakers who pitched postal banking, Medicare for All, and a variety of local union issues. I had to leave before she spoke, so can’t comment on that.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      Just a small technical point:
      As a former photographer, I’m struck with how photogenic she is. It isn’t only that she’s attractive; she appears to know how to work the camera. I’ve yet to see a photo of her that wasn’t riveting; today’s is just another example. That’s an invaluable attribute for a candidate, especially if they’re attracting wide attention.

      Unfortunately, this reduces her value as an indicator. Not everybody is a dream candidate.

      Reply
      1. John k

        But it enhances her influence and publicity, and because of the latter it gets attention of those progressives that might consider emulating her.

        Reply
        1. Whoa Molly!

          > Kids these days know how to be photogenic, though — selfies!

          What AOC has is way beyond “knowing how to be photogenic”.

          She has something that can’t be taught. One of my teachers in film school simply called it “the white light”.

          Cameras love her, and I expect she loves them back.

          Reply
  18. cm

    Regarding the WV teacher’s strike, the article says:

    “They implemented Go365,” one teacher told the New York Times “which is an app that I’m supposed to download on my phone, to track my steps, to earn points through this app. If I don’t earn enough points, and if I choose not to use the app, then I’m penalized …”

    Any idea what happens if (like me) one does not own a smart phone?

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      The deal there in WV, IIRC, was a discount on their health insurance premium. For the first year, anyway. No smart phone? No discount. Presume that the amt of the discount would increase (or rather, that the base premium would) over the years, and as the lady said, if the didn’t meet the ‘targets’ she’d lose some part of her discount for the current year. Trying to find a reference for that.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        When my son in law needs extra steps on his tracker, he just clips it on his very active 2 year old son…

        Reply
    1. Stephen V.

      Amen. Got to love our furry ones but they will drive you nuts. And they always seem to have a plan ‘B’ because we’ll you just never know. Hang in there Lambert!

      Reply
  19. curlydan

    Kris Kobach is holding a super slim lead in the KS Repub primary Guv race, but many votes are still to be counted: “With a mere 191 votes separating Kobach and Colyer, even a modest number of uncounted votes or mistakes in counting ballot on election night could make the difference in determining which Republican will face off against Democrat Laura Kelly in the fall general election.”

    Reply
  20. curlydan

    And a pretty good breakdown of KS-03 Dem primary race:
    “Davids won Tuesday’s hotly contested and crowded Democratic primary by capturing 37 percent of the vote, edging out her closest competitor in Brent Welder, who received 34 percent, by 2,088 votes.

    The outcome of the race was not known until almost 8 a.m. Wednesday because the Johnson County Election Office experienced an all-night delay in reporting its results….

    Earlier, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee threw it’s weight fully behind Davids.”

    Reply
    1. RopeADope

      Someone should have told Emily’s List and DCCC that some of the demographic data-sets for Kansas City ignore state lines and are based on other economic criteria. Running identity politics Davids in KS-03 in the general is a guaranteed loss in that district.

      Reply
  21. allan

    From

    … Before her death in March, the late Rep. Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat in Collins’ neighboring district, had raised concerns about Collins’ relationship with Innate Immunotherapeutics and possible insider trading with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Office of Government Ethics and the House Ethics Committee.

    After Slaughter filed an ethics complaint against Collins in October 2017 for hearing nonpublic information about Innate stock, Collins reportedly called her “a despicable human.” …

    File under Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold.

    Reply
  22. Henry Moon Pie

    “Economists Can’t Stomach Seeing the Effects of their Handiwork” should be the headline of this :

    “There’s a huge homeless population around the Lincoln’s Inn Fields area [where the London School of Economics is located]. At night we would see someone [making use] of the benches. They could stretch out and they were not on the ground.”

    The Inequalities and Social Sciences student [at LSE] said she thought the decision to install armrests was “heartless” and did not reflect the kind-hearted attitudes of most students.

    She said: “I understand that the some of the benches needed some renovation around campus and it was the right decision to replace them, but what they have replaced them with is morally questionable.

    Hurrah for the students who are protesting their administrators’ callousness.

    Reply
  23. eogen

    The issue of whether a green party candidate helped Balderson is not so easily dismissed by saying that the green votes wouldn’t have put O’Connor over the top. With a few thousand provisional ballots still uncounted, any of those green votes that went to O’Connor would have narrowed the gap that he needs to breach. If Nader hadn’t been on the ballot in Florida in 2000, we would have had a President who probably would have paid more attention to Richard Clarke’s “hair on fire” warnings about Al-Queda and maybe headed off 9/11 and the Middle East catastrophe we’re still dealing with.
    As for 2016, I was no fan of Hilary’s at all, but I voted for her because I didn’t want to see a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for the rest of my life. I’d bet that almost all of Jill Stein’s voters wouldn’t want that either, but that’s what we’re getting, and so much more.

    Reply
    1. marym

      Nader only drew 24,000 Democrats to his cause, yet 308,000 Democrats voted for Bush. Hello. If Gore had taken even 1 percent of these Democrats from Bush, Nader’s votes wouldn’t have mattered. Second, liberals. Sheesh. Gore lost 191,000 self-described liberals to Bush, compared to less than 34,000 who voted for Nader.

      Reply
      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The only way Gore might have paid attention to warnings about 9/11 was if it was already in a rap video with naughty language and brought to his attention by the trinity of Civility, Lieberman, Tipper, and HRC.

        I do enjoy Team Blue has gone back to “ooga booga Nader!”

        Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Just in passing, I saw reference to how one Hollywood celebrity was calling out Green party votes as Russia meddling. No, seriously. At a little over one thousand votes that was Russian meddling. Story at-

      Reply
      1. Carey

        Thanks for that link:

        “I think the current climate is setting a dangerous precedent where any vote or political action challenging the two party consensus is predetermined to be the work of Vladimir Putin and not a genuine expression of political will,” MacLeod said. “We may be going down a path where any dissent is dismissed as illegitimate.”

        Alex MacLeod, FAIR

        Reply
    3. Steely Glint

      Agree. If Nader would have thrown his support to Gore, much hurt could have been avoided. The Green Party should not be sniffing around in swing states. Even if a Dem doesn’t completely pass the purity test, I believe the question should be “is the candidate persuadable?”. I can understand questioning the word “access” when it comes to health care, but what are the preferable words for “fight for”? Advocate for, support, vote for? Just asking a serious question.

      Reply
      1. foghorn longhorn

        If clinton would have thrown his ‘support’ to perot, we would have never had bush jr. or clinton.
        That ‘giant sucking sound of your job leaving’ wouldn’t have occurred either.
        Rewriting history is easy-peasy.

        Reply
      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        >The Green Party should not be sniffing around in swing states.

        Idea: Democrats should stop [family blogging]?

        If the Democrats were trying to expand the electorate, instead of tinkering at the margins in the suburbs, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion.

        Reply
      3. Daryl

        Here in supposedly swingable Texas, the Green Party has managed to run candidates in races that the Democratic party can’t be bothered to.

        Reply
      4. Richard

        Yes, but if Gore had swung his support to Nader, think of what we might have achieved then?
        Two can play that game :^
        Gore didn’t get Nader’s votes because why on earth should he? I didn’t owe Al Gore my goddamn vote. I didn’t vote for him because I didn’t like him. Third Way, anti-union, full of the vacant techno-triumphalism that defined that era, that Gore (and others) thought could replace class based politics. He wasn’t getting my vote, whether or not Nader was there.

        Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          Tipper certainty sealed my Nader vote in 2000. No chance were any of the punk rockers going to put the princess of the PMRC in a position to censor DK or any of the other anti-establishment bands. There was a fantastic Donahue episode on this topic. I will look around for it.

          Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            This is great – 4 part Donahue if you search “indecency & obscenity”

            Almost worth a front-page post – just for people to watch what was obscene in 1990.

            The audience haircuts are priceless.

            Reply
    4. Glen

      It would be best for the Dems to figure out how to get the Green vote and dump the whole Republican Lite schtick.

      Reply
    5. Pat

      I realize that thinking logically about the 2000 election is hard, but let’s try.

      Reasons Gore lost:
      Inability to carry his home state.
      Not going full out and demanding a full recount in Florida legally
      Voter suppression campaign by Jeb Bush
      Questionable vote counts
      Lieberman, and the military vote
      The butterfly ballot (even Buchanan said those votes were not his)
      Running one piss poor campaign (thanks Donna!)
      Democrats voting for Bush or staying home
      The Supreme Court

      Nader was not the problem. System manipulation, a candidate with instincts and charisma only slightly better than Hillary’s, and a severely stupid campaign organization who could not make the case that people should vote for him, and a well organized opposition (just see how they out flanked the Dems during the recount) were.

      But then I finally realized that I was dead tired of choosing the LOTE only to still be on the losing end of the stick. AND that as long as I was willing to settle for the promise that maybe this time I would at least get a say in the naming of the Post Office my priorities would NEVER be part of the agenda. That made me recognize your and my prior argument for voting for these corrupt jerks was not that strong.

      Demanding people vote for candidates that refuse to represent their interests is a losing battle with them and even worse a public loss. The battle is really to screw the system to the point where there are candidates who aren’t for sale to the highest donor.

      Reply
  24. Steely Glint

    So Missouri shot down Right To Work. In my MO senate district 8, Hillary Shields (D) won her primary, which she calls step 1. Step 2 will be to hammer her opponent Mike Cierpiot (R) for voting in the state senate for Right to Work. Good strategy which I hope all state dems follow. Interesting times.

    Reply
  25. Synapsid

    Lambert Strether,

    Under Stats Watch/Shipping you mention that Bulk Freight means hundred-mile-long unit chains of coal for China. China wan’t among the top five countries that received US coal in 2017, and I don’t know how far down the list it is. A few years ago the US shipped more coal to Morocco than to China.

    One of the stubbornest environmentalist assertions has been that the appalling destruction of coal-mining areas such as is seen in West Virginia, and the continuing increase in CO2 being released by coal burning, is so that we can “ship coal to China.” That’s become a real workhorse of a dog whistle. (Do you remember the little items that The New Yorker used to put at the bottom of columns in the back of the magazine under the heading “Block That Metaphor!”? I miss them.) Europe, yes; South Korea, yes; India–oh yes indeed, India has climbed into top spot and is set to continue to climb. China not so much.

    (This message sent to you by Campaign to Suppress Perpetuation of Dog Whistles. No perpetuators were harmed or even frowned at during its preparation.)

    Reply
  26. GERMO

    ^^ re FL 2000, best to keep in mind that 11% of the democrats down there were Bush voters — if we want to talk ‘maybe’ and ‘probably’ we need to look somewhere other than Nader/Sanders/Stein…

    Reply
    1. RMO

      Or you could keep in mind your wonderful Supreme Court that intervened with the express intention of making Bush president.

      Reply
  27. nippersdad

    Speaking as a two time Jill Stein voter, I have absolutely zero regrets for voting for the person who actually represented my views and interests. Complaining about the conservative Supreme Court NOW seems a waste of time. Had you actually been worried about it you should have taken it up with all of those Dems, like Biden, who routinely vote for people like Clarence Thomas.

    There is nothing that the Supreme Court can do that cannot be undone through legislation. Elect some decent people and that problem goes away.

    Further, only those that lack the ability to explain away the atrocious nature of mainstream candidates ever invoke the Nader meme. Had they listened to him then they would not be having these problems now.

    And, finally, the old saw about lying down with dogs and getting up with fleas seems apropo wrt your Al Qaeda reference. Had the CIA not funded Bin Laden in Afghanistan to gain some cheap points on Russia, had we not supported SA (with its’ rabid Wahabist agenda) all of these years, maybe we wouldn’t have been getting “hair on fire” reports about a Bin Laden that wanted our bases out of Saudi Arabia in the first place. Recent reports say that, in addition to all our support for AQ in Syria, we have been supporting them in Yemen as well. Nader had nothing to do with any of that; the Clintons, however, did.

    You don’t get to fund and arm jihadists and then whine when they bite you in the ass.

    Reply
      1. RMO

        “You don’t get to fund and arm jihadists and then whine when they bite you in the ass.” Unfortunately it seems they do. And they also get to use it as justification for negating parts of the U.S. constitution and bill of rights, violating treaties and international law AND killing thousands of people in other countries that had nothing to do with said “bite.”

        Reply
  28. Summer


    “Twitter’s Jack Dorsey is protecting Alex Jones’s publishing power in the name of “what serves the public conversation best.” His reasoning is absurd.”

    If Facebook and Twitter are saying they aren’t news organizations and other news organizations have complaints about their lack of standards, stop linking to Twitter and Facebook on sites and channels.
    Remove the respond via Twitter buttons and stop the Twitter tickers on your news programs.
    But your corpo overlords won’t stop looking at stock prices to care.
    So their goose is cooked.

    Reply
      1. Summer

        It’s past insane. They (The Atlantic and other sites and channels) are media too. The power over them isn’t the awesomeness of the tech giants, it’s the fealty to the stock market of their corpo masters.
        They have many options for battling Facebook and Twitter and it’s on them for not taking the options.

        Reply
  29. ewmayer

    o Re. “Consumer credit came in below expectations” [Econoday] — Wolf Richter begs to differ:
    | Wolf Street

    Credit card debt and other revolving credit in Q2 rose 5% year-over-year to $1.0 trillion (not seasonally adjusted). This growth rate was down from the spectacular 5.6% to 6.8% increases from Q4 2016 through Q4 2017 (the “Trump bump”). But it’s still among the biggest increases since the Financial Crisis. On a quarterly basis, in line with seasonal patterns, it rose by $24 billion from hangover-Q1 that invariably follows the shopping-season debt-pile up in Q4:

    A special note about the records in credit card balances: The $1.03 trillion in Q4 2017 had been an all-time record, finally beating the records of the fourth quarters in 2007 and 2008. And Q2 2018 set a record for any second quarter. In the history of the universe, these revolving credit balances exceeded the $1 trillion mark only four times: three of them in fourth quarters (Q4 2007, Q4 2008, Q4 2017) and now suddenly in a Q2.

    So Americans are nailing it with credit cards, the most profitable form of lending for banks, where interest rates can exceed 30%, though the average cost of funding for banks is still below 1%. This is a deal made in heaven for banks – until consumers collapse under this high-interest debt.

    o Re. “Revitalizing American manufacturing” [Logistics Management], Lambert comments “You could airdrop a 3D printing machine into every small manufacturing town in America. You could also airdrop a piano into every classroom, and expect that to be enough to teach children music…”

    Back in the late 90s, when I was but a young Asst. prof. of engineering at Case Western Reserve U. in Cleveland, I did a bit of consulting in my then-specialty (fluid dynamics) for a local entrepreneur who was trying to design and manufacture some turbulence-reducing add-on devices for an industrial airflow system. Once we had worked out a reasonably robust (in the sense of helping irrespective of the precise local-flow details) compact modular baffle design, he took me on a roadtrip to a midsized metalworking outfit in rural Orrville, OH, perhaps best-known for being the home of J.M. Smucker Inc. The shop was not high-tech in the sense of e.g. aerospace-metal, but I was pleasantly surprised at the level of sophistication of the various pieces of laser-cutting, welding and metalforming machinery, all operated by locals, and the whole place was very clean, the very opposite of smokestacky. Whether Trump’s tariffs will succeed in revitalizing this sort of thing nationwide very much remains to be seen, but I have seen firsthand the kind of vision the Logistics Management piece is describing.

    o Re. The Bezzle: “Did Elon Musk break any laws with his going-private tweet today?” [MarketWatch] … Wouldn’t Musk’s lawyer argue that the tweet was available to everyone?”

    There is more to it than the ‘publicly available’ aspect – from a Yahoo Finance article yesterday on Musk’s “funding secured” claim: “If funding is secured, then it’s a factual statement,” says John C. Coffee, director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School. “But if he can’t prove that, he’s in some danger of a big lawsuit because short sellers will be devastated by this.”

    (I posted link to the above and added commentary in yesterday’s Wolf Street “This is Precisely Why I’ve Been Saying: Don’t Short Tesla or Anything in This Crazy Market” post – don’t want to inline-link here because more-than-1-link-in-a-comment is an almost-guaranteed Skynet trigger, meaning post will end up in moderation, magically disappear, or I’ll be asked to spend time and bandwidth helping to train Google’s self-driving-AI system in exchange for the privilege of posting.)

    Reply
  30. dcblogger

    we are seeing presidential levels of voter registration this midterm, mostly coming from young people and women. the blue tsunami is real

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      ; hopefully TargetSmart isn’t just talking its book. (I think voter registration is great, but I also think that if Democrats wanted to expand their electoral base, or even get these new voters to the polls, they would make voter registration a core party function, instead of leaving it to random third parties. So we’ll wait for this to show up in the districts.

      Reply
  31. Basil Pesto

    I posted this in the Water Cooler from a few days back but it may have been lost in the ether. There was an op-ed in the Times a few days ago by Michael Tomasky along the lines of ‘if capitalists have a problem with socialists, stop making them’

    I note that Mr Tomasky is editor of an online publication that recently published this (fairly lame, it has to be said) socratic dialogue that took aim at none other than Ms Smith and Mr Strether of NC by name!

    Reply
    1. Carey

      Thanks for the link, which I had not seen. Sounded like a lot of whistling in the dark from the complacent ‘n’
      comfortable set.

      long guillotines

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Oh, gawd. Berube. “Everything but the grudges.” Wrong on the detail, too. I’m not even going to spend time on it (save to note I was really right about Obama…). I most certainly didn’t think Clinton was “a working class hero,” whatever that means, but I did think she was marginally better than Obama on domestic issues (health care; housing) and she also hadn’t put Social Security in play, as did Obama (Iowa, 2007). I also had a general sense, though I don’t think I wrote this up, that she would try to skewer the Republicans to get revenge for the Clinton impeachment, as opposed to Obama’s whacky insistence on bipartisanship, which I most certainly did write up. I don’t know if anything Berube wrote up has ever been recommended by the then-respectable Krugman, but .

      Reply
  32. meeps

    “The Real Cost of Hoarding Cash”

    This is a real hoot. One would expect a headline like that to finger the .1% for hoarding half of global wealth for their miniscule population cohort, but one would be wrong! Here is the .1% shaming the median wage earner for squirreling away the princely sum of $32,286. That’s less than Jeff Bezos “earns” in one minute.

    Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the alleged savings figure is valid. The question of utility never arises, as in what might the average wage earner be able to accomplish (the joke of “investing in equities” aside) with a treasure-cache of such proportion? Pay-off student loan debt, medical or dental bills? Not necessarily. Make a down-payment on a price-inflated home? Not at yesteryears’ 20% LTV ratio. This nouveau-riche might snag a 5% LTV mortgage but will likely face 100K in renovations while maxed-out for the monthly outlay. This lucre loses its luster, fast.

    Somewhere, a plutocrat’s dry, little proboscis shrivels at mere notions of an average earner building his or her own life.

    Nice try, Safe Haven and Nerdwallet writers. Go home now, and try to live with yourself. Good luck!

    Reply
  33. pretzelattack

    ah i see a headline saying the u.s. has ramping up sanctions against russia for “poisoning” the skripals. might as well accuse them of hiding saddam’s wmd’s while they’re at it.

    Reply
  34. Lambert Strether Post author

    USA Today

    The tight race between Democrat Danny O’Connor and Republican Troy Balderson just got tighter.

    Election officials in Franklin County found 588 previously uncounted votes in a Columbus suburb. The result: O’Connor had a net gain of 190 votes, bringing the race’s margin down to 1,564.

    The votes from a portion of one voting location had not been processed into the tabulation system,” according to a Franklin County* Board of Elections news release.

    Balderson declared victory Tuesday night in the closely watched congressional district race in central Ohio. But O’Connor says he’s waiting for all votes to be counted.

    That includes 3,435 provisional ballots and 5,048 absentee ballots, which will be tabulated by Aug. 24.

    Hoo boy. Probably hidden by Russians. Honestly, I can’t remember an election in Ohio where something like this didn’t happen. Hand-marked paper ballots, hand-counted in public, would have solved this.

    NOTE * , which is .

    Reply
  35. fresno dan

    Lambert Strether
    August 9, 2018 at 12:31 am

    Hoo boy. Probably hidden by Russians.
    ==========================================
    And any, ANY reports of a sickle and hammer, red fuzzy bunny slipper wearing with rabbit ear antenna Russian operative driving a Yugo with a Yugo girl (Hillary) bumper sticker hiding the ballots are a scurrilous, no-good very bad calumny.
    Take some agency and OWN your lost ballets Americanos!!!
    Now, I am going to go off and ride a horse without a shirt….and I’m not gonna wear a shirt either….

    Reply
  36. relstprof

    Kate Wagner (McMansion Hell):

    “As someone who owes tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt, getting paid to make fun of DeVos’s tacky seaside decor is one of few ways to both myself and make myself feel better. With that, I’d like to dedicate this essay to all of the public school teachers who taught me how to write.”

    Reply
  37. Whoa Molly!

    Ten bombshell revelations from Seymour Hersh’s memoir, ‘Reporter’ and from subsequent interviews.

    I read Reporter shortly after it was released. Have been continually surprised that it hasn’t gotten more play. Superb book, with surprising reporting about historical events in my lifetime that I *thought* I understood.

    Reply

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