2:00PM Water Cooler 10/2/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Readers, here is a shorter Water Cooler to get you going; I’ll add more when I finish posting on teeth. –lambert UPDATE All done.

Trade

“New Nafta Has American Corn Farmers Breathing Easier” []. “The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement secured Sunday is expected to allow leaders from the three countries to sign an accord by late November. The accord alleviates the risk that Mexico, the biggest importer of U.S. corn, will turn to competing exporters such as Argentina.” • And just in time for the mid-terms!

“What if Trump’s confrontational trade stance actually works?” []. “The NAFTA 2.0 agreement, or USMCA as Donald Trump wants to call it — and he would appear to have won the right to call it anything he wants — ought to be sending chills up the spines of diplomats and trade negotiators around the world. Trump largely got his way. And now, no one can tell him his bull-in-a China-shop way won’t work.”

‘Will USMCA affect Canada’s drug prices? Depends on what happens next, experts say” []. “The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) will extend the minimum “data protection” period for an expensive class of drugs known as biologics to 10 years, up from eight. Biologics — some of the most costly drugs on the market — are used to treat a large range of diseases, including many cancers, arthritis and multiple sclerosis. The change could cost Canadian taxpayers tens of millions of dollars annually, according to one estimate.”

UPDATE “Auto makers would gain new certainty on factory investments and other manufacturers would avoid feared disruptions under the new North American trade accord” []. “[The deal] sets the stage for major relief for an auto industry that feared costly new tariffs could unravel two decades of investments under the North American Free Trade Agreement. The new deal is a big win for Detroit’s Big Three auto makers, which rely heavily on factories in Canada and Mexico to build cars and trucks for the U.S. market. But the new rules could also force car companies and their parts makers to alter supply chains to meet tougher new rules on regional content of cars. That’s likely to have more impact on foreign auto makers that source parts abroad.”

UPDATE “Timeline: How a new North American trade deal happened” []. “Relive the drama of the talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the timeline below.” • No.

Politics

2020

Concrete material benefits:

I want to congratulate Jeff Bezos for doing exactly the right thing by raising the minimum wage at Amazon and Whole Foods to $15 an hour.

Let me thank the hundreds of Amazon workers who ed my office and the Fight for $15 movement, which has been leading this effort.

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders)

Sanders gracefully gives credit to the real drivers, too. That said, this could be a smart move by Amazon, which needs warehouse workers in a tight labor market. And Amazon is still a predatory monopoly that should be broken up. And why not $20? Nevertheless, take the win!

“Hillary Clinton’s Favorable Rating Still Low” []. Well, the voters are wrong. Again.

“Biden Is Preparing for 2020. Can He Overcome the Hill-Thomas Hearings?” []. “[Joe Biden’s] name has been invoked frequently in recent days, mainly by Republicans, for leading the 1991 hearings when an all-male, all-white Judiciary Committee aggressively questioned Anita Hill about claims that Judge Thomas had sexually harassed her. The hearings have long been a source of discomfort with Mr. Biden among Democrats who remember the process.” • Er, can Biden overcome condemning a generation of students to debt slavery?

2018

until Election Day. 34 days is a long time in politics (as we are seeing right now with Kavanaugh. And what about ?).

“GOP Cuts Into Democratic Lead for Congress” []. “A new finds Democrats leading Republicans in the generic congressional ballot by seven points, 49% to 42% — a drop from the 12 point lead they had last month.” • One poll….

“Polling in Real Time: The 2018 Midterm Elections” []. • This is a neat project. OTOH, in the back of my mind, a small voice is telling me “I hope the voters are gaming the Times….”

“Politics and the New Machine” [Jill Lepore, ]. From 2015, still germane: “Pollsters rose to prominence by claiming that measuring public opinion is good for democracy. But what if it’s bad?”

NJ Senate: “New Jersey Senate Poll: Menendez, Hugin in Dead Heat” []. • Too funny. The Senate hangs in the balance, so the Democrat strategy is to force a corrupt hack like Menendez onto the ballot. Go Blue!

NY-12: “Obama announces endorsement for Ocasio-Cortez” []. “Obama is supporting in his second list for U.S. Senate and U.S. House, governor and state legislature.” • Well, I wish he hadn’t.

* * *

UPDATE “Renovation Records Undercut Ford’s Exit-Door Account” []. “Ford testified last week that she had never revealed the details of the alleged attack until 2012, when she was in couples therapy with her husband. She said the memories percolated up as they revisited a disagreement they’d had over her insistence on installing a ‘second front door’ when they had remodeled their Palo Alto, Calif., home…. The need to explain a decision her husband ‘didn’t understand,’ Ford testified, pushed her to say she wanted the door to alleviate symptoms of ‘claustrophobia’ and ‘panic attacks’ she still suffered from an attempted rape allegedly perpetrated by Kavanaugh in high school during the early 1980s….. Ford never specified when the renovation took place, leaving a possible impression that it and the therapy session happened around the same time. But documents reveal the door was installed years before as part of an addition, and has been used by renters and even a marriage counseling business. ‘The door was not an escape route but an entrance route,’ said an attorney familiar with the ongoing congressional investigation. ‘It appears the real plan for the second front door was to rent out a separate room.’… Palo Alto city records show that a building permit for an additional room and exterior door was issued to Ford and her husband on Feb. 4, 2008 — more than four years before the May 2012 therapy session where, she says, she first identified Kavanaugh as her attacker.” • This reads to me like the reporter hasn’t actually seen the documents; otherwise, they would be embedded in the post. So presumably we’re relying on the anonymous lawyer for their interpretation. Big if true, though.

Realignment and Legitimacy

UPDATE “No Law Without Politics (No Politics Without Law)” [Jedidiah Purdy, ]. “[I]t has been an article of faith–or at least a relentless rhetorical trope–on both sides of the [Kavanaugh] fight that ‘politicization’ of the judiciary is a kind of corruption and crisis…. I think we have to look into the abyss and admit the possibility that politics really does come first, that the question is not for or against politicization, but what kind of politicization.” And: “It is a tragedy of American left-liberalism that this idea has less traction than it should as a progressive ideal precisely because there is so much arbitrary exercise of legal power, and so unevenly distributed, that it is easy and understandable to think of rule of law as an elite conceit.” • This deserves careful study, and more attention than I can give it now.

Um:

Twitter has suspended, and perhaps permanently banned, the account of Georgetown Professor C. Christine Fair, apparently due to this tweet:

— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald)

To the quesion of fact: Fair can call Kavanaugh a serial rapist if she wants, but that doesn’t make him one. Fair also devalues a serious charge, in the same way that liberal Democrats reflexively emitting “Racist!” devalues that serious charge.

UPDATE “data demystified #4: How liberals and conservatives talk about progressive issues” []. On college debt: “The clearest disconnect is that language that discusses debt or loans is employed differently by liberals and conservatives. Conservative use this language to talk about their own experiences and how they achieved even with loans. Take this example from someone who identifies as very conservative and opposes free college tuition: ‘I came from a poor economic background, and I have student loan debt. It [was a] choice to enroll in college. It is the student’s responsibility to pay, not taxpayers.’* In contrast, when liberals talk about loans in the context of tuition it is still about their own experiences, but they see it as not wanting others to face the same burden.” NOTE * Which, of course, they do not do.

“Why e-voting is a bad idea for Australia (and maybe the world)” []. • A useful review of how Australia does paper ballots. Ends with a mention of blockchain, though. Get away! Get away!

Stats Watch

No official statistics of note today.

UPDATE Retail: “Study: More People Will Eat Bugs if They’re Up-Marketed as Luxury Item” []. “According to a published Tuesday in Frontiers of Nutrition, if marketing can appeal to a person’s self-indulgent tastes they might look past the bug on their plate…. Researchers behind the recent insect study say labels like “eco-friendly” or “fair trade” lose out to advertisements that play up pleasurable aspects, like taste. Insects have not scuttled into the mainstream, but researchers said it’s all about presentation. The study authors note lobster, the marine crustacean with bug-like qualities, is synonymous with fine dining but that wasn’t always the case.” • Fair enough!

Manufacturing: “Primera Air to File for Bankruptcy Citing Airbus Delivery Delays” []. “[Primera Air], which along with Norwegian Air Shuttle has attempted to upend the existing trans-Atlantic thoroughfare with low-cost, long-haul flights, was forced to pay excessive costs leasing in planes to cover for the ‘severe’ delay in deliveries of the state-of-the-art A321neos. Primera had orders due to be powered by CFM International’s Leap engine…. Airbus’s A320neo family has suffered major delays due to production and design issues with the Leap as well as Pratt & Whitney’s geared turbofan, the competing turbine option on the aircraft.” • Hmm. Both engines?!

The Bezzle: “Unraveling a Tesla Mystery: Lots (and Lots) of Parked Cars” []. “In some cases, cars have been marked — with a bar-coded sticker or with grease pencil on the windshield — to indicate that they are inventory vehicles, meaning they have no customers awaiting them. Some markings indicate repairs required before the cars can be sold, like scratches, dents or components that don’t work.”

Tech: “America’s first ‘sex robot brothel’ in Houston faces resistance” []. “Kinky S Dolls, a firm that bills itself as the first ‘adult love dolls rent-before-you-buy service in North America’, sells realistic-looking life-size dolls with basic artificial intelligence functions – and also offers them for use by the half-hour or hour at a warehouse in Toronto. Now the firm is targeting Houston as the first market in a planned US expansion, but is meeting resistance from a Christian anti-sex trafficking and anti-pornography group and the city’s mayor.” • Sommi-451, Cloud Atlas: “Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb, we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness, we birth our future.”

Tech: “Amazon’s Alexa knows what you forgot and can guess what you’re thinking” []. “At an event in Seattle on Thursday, the technology company unveiled a new feature called Alexa Hunches that aims to replicate human curiosity and insight using artificial intelligence. ‘We’ve reached a point with deep neural networks and machine learning that we can actually program intuition,’ said Daniel Rausch, the vice-president in charge of Alexa’s smart home features. Once it is activated later this year, Alexa Hunches will observe its owners’ interactions with connected smart home devices like locks, lights and electricity outlets. When Alexa believes it has detected a regular pattern, such as turning off a television set before bed, the voice assistant will remind owners if they forget to do it, and offer to fix the problem.” • If your intuition doesn’t tell you having a device that records your every move and sends it to a corporate server is a bad idea, how good is your intuition?

UPDATE “Fed’s Powell Backs Ongoing Gradual Hikes for ‘Extraordinary’ Economy” (transcript) []. Powell: “The unemployment rate stands at 3.9 percent, near a 20-year low. Inflation is currently running near the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) objective of 2 percent…. From the standpoint of our dual mandate, this is a remarkably positive outlook. Indeed, I was asked at last week’s press conference whether these forecasts are too good to be true–a reasonable question!”

Honey for the Bears: “75% of the ultra-rich forecast a US recession in the next two years, survey finds” []. “The U.S. economy is firing on all cylinders, yet 75 percent of ultra-high net worth investors predict it will hit recession by 2020, a J.P. Morgan survey found. Of those expecting an economic downturn in the U.S., a fifth of respondents — 21 percent — believe it will begin in 2019 and 50 percent expect the next recession to start in 2020.” • It’s like they’re talking themselves into it.

Health Care

“The Real Lesson from the Downfall of Theranos: We Need to Nationalize the Healthcare System” []. “[F]or all its insight into the ‘fake it ’til you make it’ culture of Big Tech’s gold rush, Bad Blood [the business history of Theranos] leaves out the same critical point that’s missed in most mainstream media discourse about Silicon Valley’s race to ‘disrupt’ the healthcare sector: It will never, ever happen, and human history offers us no reason to believe that it will. These companies’ business models monetize the failures of our system, and therefore have a vested interest in fortifying the structural barriers to the universal and equitable distribution of care….. Insurers are explicitly incentivized to avoid paying for policyholders’ care, which is why they hire so many administrators to pore over claims in search of technicalities on which to deny them. That’s an inherent tension no app can fix.”

“Taken For A Ride: M.D. Injured In ATV Crash Gets $56,603 Bill For Air Ambulance Trip” []. “Groggy from painkillers, [Dr. Naveed Khan, a 35-year-old radiologist] managed to ask the doctors how much the flight would cost and whether it would be covered by his insurer. ‘I think they told my friend, ‘He needs to stop asking questions. He needs to get on that helicopter. He doesn’t realize how serious this injury is,’ Khan recalled.” • Impressive. Even “groggy with painkillers,” Khan tries to be a “smart shopper”!

Another world is possible:

Today I had to go to the hospital in Taiwan bc I ruined my knee. The receptionist was hesitant to accept me / I had to sign a waiver saying I wouldn’t sue the hospital for how expensive treatment is for foreigners.

For X-rays, briefly talking to a dr & meds, it was $100 USD.

— Emily Cardinali 柯依薇 (@emilycardinali)

Police State Watch

“Chile: 20 secret police jailed for Pinochet-era crimes” []. • Finally. I hope the same thing happens to Gina Haspel, one day.

Class Warfare

“Rent control foes hire California NAACP leader after her group opposes initiative” [].

“The case for paying every American a dividend on the nation’s wealth” []. “Early in 2019, 100 randomly selected lower-income residents of Stockton, Calif., will start to receive $500 a month. In exchange, they’ll need to do, well, absolutely nothing, and can spend the money on absolutely anything… In many ways Stockton, whose pilot program runs 18 months, is a perfect petri dish in which to rethink and innovate on the centuries-old dilemma of how to give more money to those who need it most. This racially diverse city of about 315,000, 80 miles from far wealthier Silicon Valley and San Francisco, was walloped in the 2008 financial crisis — the median home price plunged almost 70% — and declared bankruptcy in 2012. Though it emerged from that bankruptcy in 2015, Stockton is a stark example of how uneven the U.S. economy’s decade-long recovery has been. The city’s median household income is about $46,000, almost 25% below the national average.” • The headline is deceptive; Stockton’ s residents aren’t getting a “divident” on “the nation’s” [sic] “wealth” because they have no ownership rights. All they are getting is bread (and, presumably, circuses, which Silicon Valley is all too happy to sell them).

News of the Wired

Welcome to the third world:

American tech adoption has flatlined

— son of an asylum seeker, father of an immigrant (@doctorow)

Poor broadband, lower adoption by elders (no doubt due to the horrible UI/UX of so much software).

* * *

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 (JG):

JG writes: “We are vacationing in Chile and the vegetation is marvelous. Geraniums are as big as hedges. Roses are in bloom. I have no idea what this plant is but I like the art.”

* * *

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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.

179 comments

  1. HotFlash

    I’ll add more when I finish posting on teeth.

    Mercy!! Lambert, take all the time you need, but really, ‘teeth’? Is that code? Are you OK?

    Reply
    1. DJG

      HotFlash: Teeth are a class issue. And if you are approaching Medicare-i-zation, you will discover that they loom as a very big insurance issue, too.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        yeah you have to pay a greater share on med supplement plans even though good dental care can affect your basic health (save your life).

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          Mexico is my current dental plan.
          a mere 350 miles away(closer than Houston, as the caracalla flies)

          Reply
            1. Amfortas the hippie

              Related: in my six and a half year slog through Disability to get a hip…after I was finally ineligible(no work=lose “work credits”)…I seriously considered robbing a bank and stealing a boat and going to Cuba(this was prior to Mike Moore’s Sicko)
              same hip, here:$300,000+(hard to nail down prices in this way)…in Cuba: $under $20K…including recovery in a beach bungalo with a private nurse.
              There are travel agencies that facilitate this. Apparently different third world countries specialise in different medical specialties.
              We are not a civilisation, but rather a collection of gangs.

              Reply
      2. polecat

        Also having White vs Off Color tooth enamel is a class issue, hence all those teeth whitening application$ being pushed onto well, everyone who’s guilty of having such .. regardless of the cost. And just What is in those bleaching agents anyway ?

        #Bright Pearlies Really Matter ..

        Reply
          1. Redlife2017

            You should see Corbyn’s teeth. I was speaking with him earlier this year (yes, I know!) and I was reminded about how the British are a bit, uh, not so worried about their teeth not being white. I’ve lived here forever, but moments like that with senior people just surprise me a bit.

            Reply
            1. JohnA

              I used to live next door to a guy in London who has done well with some online business and was keen to flash the cash. He got all his teeth filed and capped by some expensive dentist. When I saw them, they looked as though he had been straining pea soup through his teeth, or drinking water from a goldfish bowl that had not been changed in ages, they were that green. My somewhat surprised reaction caused him to explain ‘the dentist matched my natural colouring’ Or words to that effect. The guy was originally from Glasgow. The green teeth looked terrible but had cost thousands. Maybe BoJo has done something similar. Bad teeth in England may not necessarily be related to lack of dental work.

              Reply
  2. WobblyTelomeres

    That said, this could be a smart move by Amazon, which needs warehouse workers in a tight labor market

    A smart move in that it is PR BS, no? I thought the vast majority of Amazon’s warehouse workers are employed by a 3rd party (see Mac McClelland’s series at Mother Jones). Unless Bezos’s generosity extends to these employees, the announcement will only impact Whole Foods employees for the most part. What have I got wrong?????

    Reply
    1. taunger

      The announcement included temps. That may or may not include the third party workers you describe. So, maybe good, maybe not.

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      Seasonal workers and temps included and since these are provided by that agency you mentioned then Bezos doesn’t appear to be pulling a fast one. He already paid above retail rates because the work is ridiculously taxing. So for those desperate folks who need to work at Amazon it’s a good thing.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        ??? Does he pay the temps directly, or does he pay the agency and hope that they will pass the increased money on to the workers? Or does he pay the agency a surcharge for each worker and check to see that they are paying the workers the proper amount? Too little data to answer the questions.

        Reply
    3. Roger Smith

      Bezos and his PR goons knew they were cornered, did a cost benefit analysis, and played their cards that this would distract from the larger vulnerability, being a market crippling monopoly that is laying waste to the global landscape. It will probably work too since there isn’t a damned politician (including Bernie) serious about smashing these companies to bits.

      Reply
    1. Robert Hahl

      These will keep you awake.

      Queensryche – Jet City Woman

      Soundgarden – Spoonman

      Metallica – Enter Sandman

      Reply
          1. Amfortas the hippie

            while we’re at it…been the mind muzak in my head for weeks(when something else wasn’t playing, that is)

            Reply
  3. Wukchumni

    Tech: “America’s first ‘sex robot brothel’ in Houston faces resistance” [South China Morning Post].

    Reply
      1. Edward E

        They probably won’t be very popular around here then, near everyone goes skinny dipping or take showers underneath waterfalls.

        Reply
  4. rd

    US-Canada-Mexico trade

    I beg to differ that “Trump got his way”

    I didn’t see anything in the published changes that indicate that this is much more than a reasonable 25 year anniversary upgrade of NAFTA. I didn’t see anything thing to indicate there would be major swings in the balance of trade on most things.

    There is still a dispute resolution structure that is different from “go pound salt” which is what Trump wanted. The Canadian dairy market opened a little bit wider, but there is still a fair amount of protectionist barriers in place.

    The two big things that are likely to benefit both Canada and the US are the requirements that much of an auto needs to be built with $16+ per hour labor and a higher percentage needs to be North American made parts.

    6 year reviews with a 16 year expiration isn’t bad as it will force all the parties to revisit the agreement in a decade or so, which is about right for updating the details of a trade pact. 25 years was too long.

    I have been firmly in the camp that we need to have a robust North American economy, including Mexico, US, and Canada. It would be nice to bring the rest of Central America in as well over time. That would likely virtually eliminate the illegal immigration issue over the Mexican border if their economies are solid. The best wall is to eliminate the need to migrate in the first place.

    I think most of what is in this was available without pissing off staunch allies. The negotiation approach was a strategic blunder as it is putting Canada on notice that the US is an unreliable partner in the coming decades. That will force Canada to look overseas much more.

    Reply
    1. Carla

      “There is still a dispute resolution structure that is different from “go pound salt” which is what Trump wanted.” I really don’t think Trump gives a shit.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        More will come out in the coming days; my impression is that the Canadians wanted a much stronger ISDS and that Trump drastically weakened it. I think that’s a good thing.

        Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      The dairy market is even less than it appears. They agree to a 3.6% quota in this, but had already been willing to commit to 3.25% for the top with the us in it.

      Reply
        1. Darthbobber

          Well, there are more than three times as many Mexicans as Canadians, and Mexico lacks a large commercial dairy industry, unlike Canada. So unsurprising. But the quota target is specifically with reference to Canada.

          Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I think most of what is in this was available without pissing off staunch allies. The negotiation approach was a strategic blunder as it is putting Canada on notice that the US is an unreliable partner in the coming decades. That will force Canada to look overseas much more.

      1. It is likely the audience for the negotiation approach show was Zhongnanhai, in Beijing.

      2. US is reliable or not for 4 to 8 years. Canada can negotiate with a new US president every few years. Not sure if it will impact for decades.

      Reply
    4. Ray Blaak

      That will force Canada to look overseas much more.

      Apparently Canada is not allowed to. The US is now allowed to vet all new non-market agreements with other countries. I am surprise Canada agreed to this.

      See

      Reply
      1. Unna

        There may be more to this that’s not good for Canada we still don’t know about. And I’ve read that the steel tariffs are still there? Is that true and why? Must still learn more. Don’t trust Trudeau and certainly not Freeland who seems an over rated show boater. In addition to a trade policy, Canada needs an industrial development policy. But I don’t think that’s on Trudeau’s to-do list. Trudeau seems to think that Trump politics are a temporary political blip, but it may not be.

        Reply
  5. DonCoyote

    The plant is a prickly pear cactus. Those prolate spheroids are the fruit–they turn red and can be eaten. They like it relatively dry and have shallow roots (good for deserts and mountains).

    Reply
    1. Amfortas the hippie

      jelly, wine, a sort of pancake syrup when the jelly doesn’t set. I mix that juice with various hot peppers, for fun.
      burn off the spines…but take care to also strain that stuff through a coffee filter(twice)…the tiny spines are quite murderous, and all but invisible, after a certain age.
      the pads(nopales) taste like green beans, with an okra-like goo. supposedly really good for diabetics, but i can’t say for sure.gotta burn them, too…with fire.(there are spineless cultivars, available from one’s immigrant neighbors)
      propagate by pads falling off in rain and floating downhill. every such outcrop in my valley is likely genetically indistinguishable.
      Opuntia, spp.

      Reply
  6. rd

    Re: sex robots in Houston

    Since the usual approach to prostitution is to lock up the prostitutes, the main benefit of this innovation is that they will be able to put multiple miscreants in a single cell without food or bathroom breaks which will greatly save on prison costs. Once locked up, these perpetrators will likely be totally powerless.

    Reply
    1. BoyDownTheLane

      Will pornogaphy be available in that jail? And think about what happens when the inmates use their basic AI and start a riot. The shivs are built in.

      Reply
    1. xformbykr

      Thanks for the link, Carey! The comments are fascinating. I’ve been a regular CP reader but will now add consortiumnews to my browsing.

      Reply
      1. Carey

        You bet, and I agree that the comments are very interesting, once you do some
        sorting.

        This from CJ Hopkins might be of interest, too:

        Reply
  7. clarky90

    Re; “Fair can call Kavanaugh a serial rapist if she wants, but that doesn’t make him one. Fair also devalues a serious charge, in the same way that liberal Democrats reflexively emitting “Racist!” devalues that serious charge.”

    It is politicized-Aikido. Here is how, it will play out. (conjecture) (1) DNC stalwart, Harvey Weinstein is charged with rape by many women (2) the #MeToo Movement organically manifests (3) #MeToo is increasingly appropriated and politicized by the DNC (are they also brainstorming how to create a derivatives market from #MeToo? sarc) (4) DNC operatives accuse Kavenaugh of being a predatory serial rapist, (with the complicity of the MSM) (5) Therefore, Harvey Weinstein is the now same as (equal to) Bret Kavenaugh (6) Call in the FBI (7) The accusations against BKav unravel. But the vote is delayed and BK is smeared.

    Ca-ching! (8) Harvey Weinstein (BK’s equivalence) must be innocent! (9) With his reputation unjustly tattered, Harvey Weinstein moves to Israel to set up The Weinstein Foundation for Orphans and Victims of Sexual Abuse (TWFOVOSA), dedicated to the memory of his mothjer, Miriam……

    Harvey W, wants to “give back”….He is really a friendly, misunderstood, Teddy Bear!

    Reply
    1. clarky90

      (10) Our violent sex obsessed Ruling Classes, breathe a collective sigh of relief. (Big sigh, “#MeToo had me losing sleep, for months!”) “#MeToo” is now, an “Occupy Wall Street” redux ……..signifying nothing. Defanged and locked up in the Hollywood Petting Zoo.

      A feel-good Netflix movie is, maybe, in the works?

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        I wonder if there is a technological solution to this?

        “We will genetically reprogram all humans to be asexually reproductive.”

        Reply
    2. flora

      There are so many issues the Dems on the Judiciary Committee could use, if they wanted to, but apparently don’t.

      “The use of identity politics by establishment Democrats to obscure a violent and hegemonic foreign policy has led many clear-minded people to conflate the very real problem of sexual assault, with a liberal Democratic agenda, says Joe Lauria.”

      Reply
  8. Adam1

    ‘He needs to stop asking questions. He needs to get on that helicopter. He doesn’t realize how serious this injury is,’ Khan recalled.”

    I can’t count the number of times I gasped listening to people who’ve supported “market based” healthcare reform policies talk about how easy it would be to control heal care costs if people actually had to shop for it. My retort normally ran something like, “so when you’re in the ambulance going having a heart attack are you asking the driver to take you to the cheapest hospital or the best hospital (or the closest hospital)?” Personally his insurer should be forced to pay the whole bill since he at least attempted to ask, isn’t that what they all said was going to be the magic panacea?!?!

    Reply
    1. DJG

      Adam1: Especially because, I believe, emergency workers are required to take you to the nearest hospital. And why should they have to care about insurance? They are trying to control disease and death, not Blue Cross Blue Shield.

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        that’s a Reagan Era sop/stop-gap, where they can’t turn you away until you’re “stabilized”. Of course, they can then bill you exorbitantly and sic the bill collectors on you(turns out said bill collectors do not take green beans and yard eggs in kind).
        They closed our little ER years ago, after the Spanish conglomerate fired the doctor of 30 years, refused to upgrade the xray machine that is older than I am…replaced what used to be an actual hospital(wife and her mother were born there) with a “clinic” that has a full time PA, and a doctor that breezes through twice a week. same company also bought the nursing home and closed it…and the two Home Health outfits, previously nurse-owned…and combined them while keeping both names in a cynical nod to competition.
        ER was replaced by $200+ ambulance rides for non-life threatening, and thousands of dollars worth of aircraft(that can’t fly in rain) rides for the more dire.
        EMT folks, when they hear something potentially terrible on the scanner(kid with head injury, stroke, “thrown from vehicle”) preemptively call in the air evac.
        Of note: there ain’t a price tag on anything mentioned in the last paragraph.
        No Price Discovery? It ain’t a “Market”, no matter how hard the money men pray.

        Reply
  9. Clive

    Re: Alexa Hunches

    Oh, please Amazon, do you really expect anyone to buy this piffle any more?

    I’ve bought a couple of items of Internet of Trash home automation gizmos, regular long-suffering readers will be more than familiar with my Nest horror shows. But I was even more gullible, having also purchased a Philips Hue Internet Connected Lighting System. This, who lucky people who have ordinary normal lamps with old-fashioned mechanical switches might not know, has a “hub” which plugs into your router and then communicates to your light bulbs to turn them on or off, dimming them and so on.

    The main reason I bought into this was that, with very poor eyesight (below what’s mandated in driving standards), I found finding and activating light switches difficult at times so being able to say “Hey Siri, Clive’s light 10%” if I’m needing to get out of bed in the middle of the night might save a few stubbed toes.

    Well, a couple of weeks ago, my nightstand lamp, which sort-of worked via Siri most (say, 70%) of the time suddenly stopped responding at all in a time frame between around one o’clock in the morning and did not work again for a random period but not less than about eight hours.

    Last night, well, about half past four in the morning to be accurate, I got fed up with this situation when, yet again, my light stoped responding to Siri voice commands. Strewth, I thought, I’ll have to try to debug this glitch else it’ll never get fixed. Cue, to cut a long story short, about an hour of restarting my router, the Hue “hub”, checking the config, testing this and that possible remedy, getting sidetracked with other computer gremlins encountered along the way… eventually, at just before 6:00 am I staggered back into bed, defeated. To catch 15 minutes of fitful slumber before the alarm went off.

    So, Alexa (although I don’t actually have one of these, I’m dumb but not that dumb, but indulge me after the night, or morning, I had) tell me what your hunch is about my reaction to your overly hyped, underly developed piece of spyware and how long Hell would need to freeze over (a not too outlandish possibility if Beelzebub had installed a Nest (TM) Learning Thermostat) for before I’d ever be befuddled enough to fall for another of your industry’s scams again?

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      Why would I want an Alexa watching me and second-guessing everything that I do? I already have a wife for that.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Somehow Nest makes me think of Alien. Don’t know why…

      On slightly different note, I keep reading stories about how China is going to beat us in the AI race. Great, say I. Let them build out an infrastructure based on software nobody can understand or maintain, and that periodically goes insane and has to be retrained from scratch.

      Reply
    3. Procopius

      I lived for a while in an area where the electricity hadn’t yet been brought in. I’ve read by the light of a lamp made from a condensed milk can with a rag wick stuck in the middle of the top and fueled by kerosene. A kerosene lamp with a glass chimney is better. I have electricity now. Why would I want to pay more to have my lights connected to the internet?

      Reply
  10. DJG

    C. Christine Fair and vaguely bloody death-oid threats among the bourgeoisie: I tend to be a free-speech absolutist and don’t recognize a definition of “pornography.” Her tweet isn’t as enlightening as James Joyce or Colette or any of the other offenders against decency.

    She is just one more banal malefactor among so many.

    And I wince, discovering that she went to my Thoroughly Coopted Alma Mater and then went on to these glories:

    Prior to this, Fair served as a senior political scientist with the RAND Corporation, political officer with the UN Assistance Mission to Afghanistan and as a senior research associate with the United States Institute of Peace. She specializes in political and military affairs in South Asia.[6]

    She has served as a Senior Fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, a Senior Resident Fellow at the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses (New Delhi) and took a Reagan–Fascell Democracy Fellowship in the spring of 2017.[3]

    Anyone who thinks that this career of genteel warmongering is somehow feminism has some explaining to do. And I don’t mean the usual solnit-splaining of how women are deeply offended.

    Yet I don’t begrudge the moral midget her tweets.

    Reply
    1. FluffytheObeseCat

      Given her credentials and CV, I begrudge her illiteracy. Twitter allows enough characters now that one can post a truly cutting, sphinter-spasming death curse. Hers was lame.

      My evil wish for Kavanaugh and the like is an eternal afterlife of Holly Near recordings, vegan meals, residence in a 3rd floor walk up in a central Ohio mill town, and an economy-size 4-cylinder with 87,666 miles on it, and a tailpipe held on with baling wire.

      Put bluntly, I want them all to become middle aged single lady librarians. With no cats for company.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        It’s the fourth floor that really makes the walk up an eternal hell. Three never bothered me. Then we moved to four and it seems like so much more.

        But I agree with AZ Slim. Holly Near. That’s pretty brutal. Beyond the pale.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Anyone who thinks that this career of genteel warmongering is somehow feminism has some explaining to do

      Well, that’s Third Wave feminism. The future is female torturers, oh joy.

      Reply
  11. jo6pac

    I always wonder about amazon delivery people. The ones that come by here are in their own cars. They also come from a 3 party vendor in Lathrop, Calif. a few blocks from were elon keeps his extra cars.

    Reply
    1. Mark Gisleson

      Each state has to pass laws requiring that all commercial deliveries be done in commercially licensed/inspected vehicles with licensed commercial drivers. Same with Lyft and Uber drivers/vehicles.

      This pizza delivery driver gig economy scam has to end.

      Reply
  12. DonCoyote

    Well, Alexandria wasted no time in telling us she’s glad she got Obama’s endorsement {I contributed to her campaign and am on her list}:

    I’m honored to receive President Obama’s endorsement. I’m grateful to have his voice contributing to the blue wave that will sweep across America in November to take back both the House and the Senate. It is a particular honor to be endorsed alongside my sister and brother candidates Ayanna Pressley, Ammar Campa-Najjar and Adrienne Bell as we fight to provide healthcare, economic dignity, and justice for all in Congress.

    This entire election cycle is dominated by a reaction against hatred — a popular revolt against the uncaring and cruel policies of the Republican party. From cutting food stamps to putting kids in cages, it’s clear that we have to stop the current administration from doing any more damage.

    But we’re not just running to stop Republican injustices, but we’re also fighting to stop the injustices of the status quo too. It’s not acceptable in a modern, moral, and wealthy nation for working-class families to struggle to afford rent.

    It’s not right for hardworking Americans to work 40 hours a week on a subsistence wage struggling to make ends meet. We cannot stand by as children dream of higher education, only to be saddled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt just to actualize them.

    So we fight for affordable housing, education, and healthcare for all — because our vision doesn’t end with just stopping Republicans, but with a vision of a future we can be proud of.

    OK, I know, politics is a messy and ugly game. You gotta compromise, you gotta by the rules there are until you can get to where you can change those rules. I think Bernie gets that, and I think Alexandria gets that. (Jimmy Dore is trying to get sitting Democrats to denounce the Democrats. You should know that’s not going to happen. Tulsi Gabbard declined, Bernie won’t go on his show, I think for that reason)

    But…”This entire election cycle is dominated by a reaction against hatred”. No, it’s not. And I feel like you weaken everything else you say (and most of the rest of it is solid) by leading, first with the endorsement from a neoliberal warmonger, and then that.

    It could be worse. She didn’t say Trump by name. She didn’t RussiaRussiaRussia. But it feels like it could have been better, too.

    What do other people think–am I overreacting?

    Reply
    1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

      The company you keep. Andrew Cuomo. Bush III (Obama). Who’s next, Lloyd Blankfein? Jeff Bezos?

      Reply
    2. Darthbobber

      Maybe. The reaction against hatred thing is just meaningless pablum. I’m not fond of it, but having x number of platitudes in the repertoire has always been virtually mandatory for electoral politicians.

      Reply
    3. barefoot charley

      Compromise is led by the compromised. I’m disappointed too, not the least surprised. She wants to be a player, not a potted plant, so she must mouth the slogans and sing the chorus to be a member. Listened to Liz Warren lately? Wondered why Bernie doesn’t have a foreign policy?

      I get it. You don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. You do that all your life, sometimes you let yourself vote for the silly parties. You wish the duopoly wasn’t the oligopoly party. Then you die. Sigh.

      Reply
    4. Roger Smith

      You gotta compromise.

      Claiming John McCain’s legacy as an “unparalleled example of human decency…” is infinitely beyond compromise. She should lose for that ignorant and offensive statement alone. Obama endorsing her is just more proof that she is a complete con-artist. I bet there is more to her win than a good ground game.

      Don’t feel bad, I donated to Lessing once.

      “But we’re not just running to stop Republican injustices…”

      OH PLEASE! Get this clown off the stage. What a disappointment. Run of the mill huckster. Unless deep blue pockets are going all in for her now, she is dead in the water. We are doomed if people keep defining what is possible by what is allowed by duopolistic oligarchy. When you play their game you lose, every time.

      Reply
      1. Roger Smith

        Edit: And on this Dore is absolutely correct. I have no idea why it is so hard for these people to get it through their thick skulls. What about the primary in 2016 or since makes anyone think the Democrats will change? They will not. And playing their game ensures they have the edge over you.

        Seriously, who wants to vote for some compromised Democrat, “progressive-lite”? Why not vote for Booker than or Harris, what is the difference? If all of these do-gooders want to do just that… organize! Get together and start something new. Sanders could have done this but he was a big phony too. The wasted potential here tells me one thing. These people don’t want actual change, they want a seat at the table of political-wealth. Also the more people play this game of duopoly, the more different, better ideas can be written off with derogotive keywords establish by the game (lefties, progressives, etc…).

        Reply
      2. Roger Smith

        Sorry for all the posts but this infuriates me to no end. People deserve better, they need it. People like Obama and seemingly now Cortez are the worst of the worst. I think Clinton was worse for this country in terms of policy and law, but Obama swooped in and took the last thing people had left, their desperate hopes for something better, some semblance of restorative security and played them all like fools. The dissonance was so great that he became a freaking idol for large swathes of these same people. Absolutely disgusting. Then to go on with years of his personal vanity and smugness… We don’t need any more of that.

        Reply
        1. Carey

          Charlie Brown Lucy football

          Almost like there’s some entity that likes things just the way they are, save
          appearances.

          Reply
        2. Martin Finnucane

          So is John Halle going to eat crow over his for not, among other alleged sins, not jumping on the AOC bandwagon? … Thought not.

          Reply
        3. Carey

          It seems to me that AOC could have better served the Democrats’ purposes
          if BHO had not endorsed her. Under present circumstances, I’m glad he did.

          Reply
      3. DonCoyote

        Hmmm…lots of people down on compromising.

        I am not a politician and have no desire to become one. But IMO a successful politician (and Bernie Sanders is a successful politician) knows when to compromise and when not to.

        Remember that NYT article that people said the Time retitled and added stuff to because it was too complimentary to Bernie? Well, here’s a link to the original:

        . The first two paragraphs:

        As Democrats cobbled together a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s immigration law three years ago, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York was clear about one thing: His party could not suffer a single defection.

        But one naysayer remained — Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who had opposed a similar effort in 2007 and once again did not like provisions in the new bill that he thought would displace American workers. And he had a price, a $1.5 billion youth jobs program.

        So Bernie agreed to vote for immigration reform he did not like in return for a youth jobs program. That is compromise. He did not compromise his principles, but he (presumably) thought that overall it was a win and so it was worth it. And the story has many examples of that, including working with John McCain on VA reform. Bernie voted for the ACA, knowing it was Republican health care plan, but also knowing it was better than the status quo.

        Yes, I know, horrible things are done in politics in the name of compromise. But I don’t think that means a politican can never compromise.

        Reply
    5. Sal

      There already were doubts about whether AOC is a progressive. But, with this endorsement from the establishment, it really is clear that AOC is no progressive.

      Reply
    6. voteforno6

      Sheesh, she hasn’t even been elected to Congress yet. Let’s just see what she actually does while in office before calling her a sellout.

      Reply
      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        To be consistent, I give her the benefit of the doubt…presumed innocence…unless more revelations emerge…and then, still, we have to weigh them carefully.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Right. There’s Always Hooooooooope to tide us over, until the Next Shill emerges !

          I’m Done with the Dueling Lagacy parties !

          Reply
    7. The Rev Kev

      I would accept Obama’s endorsement – so long as I had my back to a wall and wore a Kevlar vest. I think that the danger with new candidates and democrats like Obama is the strategy Microsoft used with standards back in the 90s. Remember it? It was “Embrace, extend, and extinguish”-

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        People might consider the possibility that Obama delivered his endorsement intending it to be the Kiss Of Death. And his endorsement is meant to be a limpet ;mine attached to AOC’s hull below the waterline. Perhaps the endorsement was engineered and applied to achieve exactly the backlash it is receiving here.

        And perhaps AOC is just too naive and trusting to understand that?

        Reply
    8. Big River Bandido

      Politician accepts endorsement from a fellow party member! 34 days before an election! Stop the presses!

      Yes. I think your post is an overreaction.

      Reply
    9. John k

      Big o might be just acknowledging she will win, of course wants to be on the winning side, especially a fem Latina. Plus she has star power, maybe he can pull her right.
      Logical to accept, he remains very popular with most dems.
      I think she’s legit.

      Reply
    10. Lambert Strether Post author

      > am I overreacting

      No.

      “This entire election cycle is dominated by a reaction against hatred”

      No.

      Trivially, try mentioning Susan Sarandon — or, for that matter, Sanders — to a die-hard Clinton supporter if you want to see eye-popping, spittle-flecked hatred. (That “Love trumps hate” slogan was so Orwellian I just can’t even….)

      Less trivially, you can either make politics about class (in its various manifestations) or you can make it about emotional states. Liberal Democrats would very much like to make politics about the latter. And it feels good, being “against hate.” Who could be for hate? Empty calories…

      Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      About 2 weeks. Basically once the absentee ballots are wrapped up. I feel the energy around the decision making process is done.

      Then of course, Howard Schultz 2020 starts November 7th. Put more sugar in milkshakes!

      Reply
      1. Duck1

        Biden, russia cubed, Kamala, russia cubed, (ignore or downplay Sanders), russia cubed, Warren wild card, WW3 real wild card. Oh well.

        Reply
    2. Big River Bandido

      Lambert suggests that the Kavanaugh hearings render politics especially in flux. But my spidey senses tell me that cake got pretty well baked over this past week and the net result is a backlash. And little snippets today support that:

      •Quinnipiac generic ballot
      •Menendez is toast
      •Manchin telegraphs yes on Kavanaugh

      •Yes Q is just one poll. But it’s trending the wrong way for BlueWave[TM]. • Menendez — a 2-term incumbent whose favorability is underwater, who is hemorrhaging support in the last month with Election Day 34 days away, and 59% of likely voters feel the corruption charges against him will be important in their vote. That means voters have pretty much rejected his case for re-election and now they’re evaluating his opponent, who will face a lower bar for election. • If Manchin votes yes on Kavanaugh, it will give Collins and Murkowski political cover…which means Heitkamp, who is facing a serious challenge in an overwhelmingly Republican state, will calculate that she has no choice but to follow, and that leads her off the cliff. There’s two losses already for Democrats.

      Democrat hacks seem to think that the Kavanaugh storm will mobilize support. I think they’re in for a rude shock; they’ve played this so poorly it qualified as
      Political malpractice. Whatever one
      thinks of Kavanaugh’s meltdown, it’s a loser for Democrats. It will energize Republican voters who were previously apathetic. Further, the entire conduct of Senate Democrats male and female since day one of this entire process almost seems designed to offend every core constituency of the Democrat Party except white second-wave feminist neoliberals. (How’s that for an oxymoronic intersection?)

      There just aren’t enough of those to try and win an election with, especially with Kavanaugh rallying the right wing. Throw in gerrymandering, and I feel like this election is quickly settling in a direction that will shock the Democrat establishment.

      Sorry for the overlong post.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        I’m so sorry to have to say I think you’re right on every point. I was hoping Manchin would decide to vote “no,” but I think Heitkamp will vote “yes” to confirm, and Collins and Murkowski will too. I expect at least one or two more Democrats will, but anyway it only takes one to allow Murkowski to follow her voters and vote “no.”

        The Democratic playbook has been absolutely appalling. As soon as WaPo outed Ford they seem to have united to make her accusation the only point of discussion, which was bound to have the effect of energizing Trump’s base. There are so many things that should have been pounded on over and over and have been completely excluded from the hearings, or pushed into the background and forgotten. Cynically, I believe Schumer decided on this strategy to give cover to Blue Dogs to vote for confirmation because “reasonable doubt,” as though this were a criminal court instead of a job interview.

        Reply
  13. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Nothing new under the sun.

    To the quesion of fact: Fair can call Kavanaugh a serial rapist if she wants, but that doesn’t make him one. Fair also devalues a serious charge, in the same way that liberal Democrats reflexively emitting “Racist!” devalues that serious charge.

    It’s the story told by Aesop in “the Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and being a misogynist he was, it was not ‘The Girl Who…’

    Reply
    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It also relates to the philosophy of science – a theory that explains everything explains nothing.

      And so an accusation that accuses every act, accuses nothing.

      Reply
  14. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Today I had to go to the hospital in Taiwan bc I ruined my knee. The receptionist was hesitant to accept me / I had to sign a waiver saying I wouldn’t sue the hospital for how expensive treatment is for foreigners.

    For X-rays, briefly talking to a dr & meds, it was $100 USD.

    8:24 AM – Sep 19, 2018

    Was talking to a friend over the weekend and he said that one doesn’t immediately qualify for Medicare for All in Taiwan, but have to be there for some time.

    “Too many free loaders coming back from overseas, like America?” I asked.

    “The government got smart,” was his reply.

    “Will they stay to defend Taiwan and that health care system against China?’ was my next question.

    “They have American passports.”

    I think he was being too cynical.

    Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      Taiwan’s current system was based on the US Medicare system, they just made it universal. If you want absolute proof that MfA would lower prices significantly, Taiwan is it.

      Although for reasons I’m not entirely sure about, they keep a lot of related costs down. I visited 9 years ago and was told to buy lots of lenses as they were much cheaper than in my home (Ireland). I got a few months worth and only then checked the label. They were made in Ireland! Still less than half what I’d have paid for them in Dublin.

      Reply
  15. Roger Smith

    New York Times drops front page story on massive Clinton Global Initative tax fraud scheme Donald Trump tax fraud.

    Reply
    1. Arizona Slim

      I find these two paragraphs to be quite telling:

      “Much of this money came to Mr. Trump because he helped his parents dodge taxes. He and his siblings set up a sham corporation to disguise millions of dollars in gifts from their parents, records and interviews show. Records indicate that Mr. Trump helped his father take improper tax deductions worth millions more. He also helped formulate a strategy to undervalue his parents’ real estate holdings by hundreds of millions of dollars on tax returns, sharply reducing the tax bill when those properties were transferred to him and his siblings.

      “These maneuvers met with little resistance from the Internal Revenue Service, The Times found. The president’s parents, Fred and Mary Trump, transferred well over $1 billion in wealth to their children, which could have produced a tax bill of at least $550 million under the 55 percent tax rate then imposed on gifts and inheritances.”

      Slim’s take: Looks like we have a paper tiger called the IRS.

      Reply
      1. Roger Smith

        That is what I was thinking while skimming through this. “Uh, should the behavior supposedly exhibited be regulated…. sure probably from what I can tell with my limited knowledge, but did they do anything “wrong”. Well not if the freaking IRS signed off on it.”

        Reply
      2. Carolinian

        Tax specialist David Cay Johnston always said that Trump was shady on the tax front but it’s moot at this point since he can only be tried by the Senate.

        Of course the moral and legal case in 2016 was somewhat dented by the fact that he was running against the Arkansas grifters.

        Reply
      3. todde

        Limited Liability Partnerships and Corporations are used to get away from gift tax rules and are probably what was used here.

        The IRS has been winning more cases lately if that matters….

        Reply
      4. Alex Morfesis

        Ari slim…the Donald had an uncle…whose existence might on its face suggest the blob runs strong in young trumpwalker…something about teslas personal papers and paperclip gnatzees…and radar…not the one from the alan alda show…

        nothing to see here people…keep moving…

        Reply
      5. Duck1

        I’m impressed that he was such a maestro at intergenerational tax dodging. I’m sure all the family trusts run by the family offices are aghast at his gauche maneuvers. Why are the Rockefellers still worth billlions?

        Reply
      6. Procopius

        The IRS has been persistently undercut since Reagan. Obama did nothing that I know of to rebuild the enforcement department. Same as with the FBI. After 9/11 hundreds of agents who had been assigned to white collar crime were reassigned to “anti-terrorist” positions and none have been replaced. I hate to think what’s happened to the Department of Energy which has, among other existential duties, safeguarding nuclear waste material.

        Reply
    2. fresno dan

      Roger Smith
      October 2, 2018 at 4:16 pm

      I have always thought Trump was a grifter and tax cheat. But as Michael Kinsley says, ‘The outrage isn’t what’s illegal, the outrage is what’s legal’

      AND this goes back….36 years? 46 years? irony…..
      And it seems to me that tax cheating was something that really used to get “conservatives” riled up ‘if I gottat pay, they gotta pay!!!’ – but now it seems that tribe buys the argument that the tax laws are too complex and unfair so they cheer on anyone who can get away with it.

      Reply
            1. Todde

              I never said he was.

              I said he probably used llc and llp to reduce the value of his real estate holdings. Among other things

              Reply
        1. fresno dan

          Duck1
          October 2, 2018 at 8:59 pm

          President Trump participated in dubious tax schemes during the 1990s, including instances of outright fraud, that greatly increased the fortune he received from his parents, an investigation by The New York Times has found.

          My comment cast doubt on the importance of the NYT story, noting that this SUPPOSED illegality goes back 35 to 45 years. See Lambert Strether comment at October 3, 2018 at 3:45 am which essentially is, if its so illegal, why hasn’t anything happened in 40 years???

          I think Trump cheats pretty much like ALL of the participants in the Great Financial Recession cheated. And they get away with it because as a matter of POLICY, the US government allows such cheating (if you read this blog with ANY regularity, you are aware of the SCATHING criticism of attorney general Eric Holder for not prosecuting even ONE of the instigators of the mortgage meltdown – AND note the word cheating as opposed to illegality.

          If government attorneys and the IRS won’t prosecute, has a crime been committed? Private citizens can file CIVIL suits, but criminality is decided by government entities. Their excuse, essentially that they (i.e., government prosecutors) are too stupid to figure out the fraud, is Purposeful stupidity.
          Kinda what Upton Sinclair said, It is hard to get a government attorney to prosecute fraud when his superiors are bribed by said fraudsters….

          Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Corruption in New York Real Estate! Film at 11!

      * * *

      I suppose the ramifications of the Times story will give the New York Attorney General — too bad it won’t be Zephyr Teachout — something to do between now and 2020. Helpful for Democrats, especially if Ratface Andy wants to make a run for the Presidency.

      I suspect for non-Democrat loyalists, “it’s in the price.” Plenty of people voted for Trump knowing he was a crook (“That makes me smart.”). I could change my mind when I understand the tax story better, but for now, it seems like just another “Surely this time we’ve got him!” story from liberal Democrats, who are always telling us what we already know, except more loudly, because they don’t think we understood them the first time.

      Reply
  16. allan

    Lisa Desjardins Verified account

    SCHUMER: of Dems take over the Senate, we will have to look at setting the SCOTUS nominee requirement back up to 60 votes

    File under Reasons to Lose the Will to Live.

    Reply
      1. voteforno6

        …Although, now that I’ve thought about it a little more, it’s not an entirely terrible idea, as long as Trump (or any Republican) is in the White House. That 60-vote threshold would make it a little harder for the likes of Joe Manchin to hold the rest of the caucus hostage. If that was Schumer’s intention, he could immediately drop that requirement, once a Democrat was elected President.

        Reply
    1. Procopius

      Ephemeral. It’ll only last while they retain control of the Senate and I really don’t expect the Democrats to take the Senate again in my lifetime.

      Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    If one were to go to a robot strip club in Houston, and wanted to leave a tip, would you slip a function under her garter?

    Reply
  18. jo6pac

    Slim’s take: Looks like we have a paper tiger called the IRS.

    Not really they will come for you and me just not the 1%;-)

    Reply
  19. Wukchumni

    For what it’s worth dept:

    Stockton is a very scary place from a crime standpoint for a medium size Central Valley city. It’s even a nastier piece of work than Oakland, which has slightly higher crime rates, but is mellowed somewhat by having SF right across the Bay.

    It’s violent crime rate is nearly 3x that of nearby Visalia…

    I wonder how the gratis-faction program works in Stockton?, for there is no joy in Mudville as it is w/o it.

    Reply
    1. Duck1

      Stockton, Modesto fairly bay area adjacent, no doubt the contraband networks depend on I5. Not sure what you mean by nastier piece of work than Oakland. All are historical cities that have developed and declined under late stage capitalism. Who is crafting the work by your all knowing intelligence?

      Reply
  20. Stanley Dundee

    Re:

    75% of the ultra-rich forecast a US recession in the next two years, survey finds [CNBC]…It’s like they’re talking themselves into it.

    I’d say more likely they’re planning it to deal with incipient wage pressure.

    Reply
    1. Oregoncharles

      They are hardly the only ones predicting a recession soon, many NC sources are, too. And the ultra-rich have inside information, as well as a pressing need to plan their investments.

      Reply
  21. Summer

    Re: Data For Progress…student loans

    “I came from a poor economic background, and I have student loan debt. It [was a] choice to enroll in college. It is the student’s responsibility to pay, not taxpayers.’* In contrast, when liberals talk about loans in the context of tuition it is still about their own experiences, but they see it as not wanting others to face the same burden.” NOTE * Which, of course, they do not do.

    The economy can be called “the hazing economy” in many respects. So much doesn’t change because people wallowed in various forms of excrement to live and think others should too.

    Reply
  22. George Phillies

    Device usage flatlined…

    These gadgets cost money, and some people see no reason to throw money away for something they would never ever use.

    Reply
  23. clarky90

    I had to…..

    “Earth could shrink to 100m across if particle accelerator experiments go wrong”

    “Professor Lord Martin Rees has revealed the “worst case scenario” for particle accelerators – and they could mean the end of Earth as we know it.

    He warns that if things went wrong, they could result in a black hole being formed, or the Earth being turned into a “hyperdense sphere” measuring just 330 feet (100m) across.”

    Reply
  24. PlutoniumKun

    Manufacturing: “Primera Air to File for Bankruptcy Citing Airbus Delivery Delays” [Bloomberg]. “

    From what I know, the issue here is that there are two main competing engines for the A320NEO, but the Pratt & Whitney one has had reliability issues so most orders have gone for the competing LEAP engine – but a combination of the huge success of the aircraft along with everyone going for the LEAP has led to production problems – quite simply they can’t make them fast enough.

    Reply
    1. Octopii

      Interestingly, there are also numerous Boeing new production planes sitting in storage due to lack of engines, waiting for the same CFM model. Rolls-Royce had serious problems with their Trent 1000, used for the 787 (like, they all broke). Rolls had a $1.5 BILLION loss for the first half of 2018.

      Reply
  25. Oregoncharles

    ““Renovation Records Undercut Ford’s Exit-Door Account”…”Big if true, though.”
    I don’t think so. There is no actual contradiction there. For one, 4 years isn’t that long a time for a marital disagreement to simmer; and, the later use of the door isn’t germane to her psychological reasons for wanting it. And saying it’s an entrance, not an exit, is just silly; all doors are both. It’s an opening in the house. Again, actual use and psychological significance are separate things.

    Reply
  26. False Solace

    > Renovation Records Undercut Ford’s Exit-Door Account

    It doesn’t sound all that “big” to me. During the 2012 couple’s counseling, Ford “revisited” the decision to install a door in 2008. Did she testify that the door was installed in 2012? If so, she was clearly mistaken about the date. Otherwise the timeline agrees with her testimony and this is just a smear.

    There’s nothing surprising about the fact a front door can be put to multiple uses, regardless of the purpose it was originally installed.

    I guess they’re trying to insinuate that Ford had only one reason for wanting a second door — to rent out a room — and it had nothing to do with panic attacks. But she testified that installing the door was part of a marital dispute. If she and her husband intended to rent out the room from the beginning, why would he argue with her about it? Wouldn’t he be fully on board, since it would make the room more attractive to renters?

    Is it impossible to have more than one reason to want to install a door? I guess we need to read her mind. It at least seems plausible that she had a stronger motive for wanting a second door than her husband, for the reason she gave, and this caused an argument between them.

    I can’t wait for some giant corporation to invent telepathy. It’s going to make these stories so much more interesting.

    Reply
    1. todde

      if we’re judging the quality of each witness’s testimony, Ford wins.

      Kavanaugh couldn’t truthfully tell us what ralphing meant.

      Reply
    2. barefoot charley

      She had mentioned in her testimony that the door was used by Google employees whom they rent to. She kinda giggled that a googleplex was nearby. This is a smear so transparent no one watching could see it.

      Reply
      1. Chris

        “When you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. When you don’t have the facts, pound the table.” :/

        All the other side needs is to see Dr. Ford have to go back and explain what she really meant, and then suggest she’s equivocating, and then, how can you say her testimony was better or different from Kavanaugh’s?…

        I had thought the fix was in no matter what. I think details like this coming out will seal it. And of course, no one in the media will mention that even if everything said by every woman accusing Judge Kavanaugh is a complete fabrication, he is still guilty of so many legal transgressions and bad ideas that he should not be chosen for a lifetime appointment on the SCOTUS.

        Reply
        1. Procopius

          None of the Democrats in the Senate seem to be willing to mention that, either. Maybe it’s just that my information is wrong because it’s being distorted by the media suppressing every mention. I certainly hope so, but you know the old saying, “Hope in one hand and …”

          Reply
    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A side point.

      The sad fact is that a lot of people in CA, and more so in the expensive parts, that homeowners need to rent out to make mortgage payments, and workers can only afford to rent, but not buy*.

      So, I heard once about single family homes (3 or 4 bedrooms) with more than 10 lodgers, some in the garage.

      *In 2008, the pressure eased a bit, but thanks to near zero interest rate policy for that last 9 to 10 years, it’s back on.

      Reply
  27. Bridget

    Regarding Blasey Ford’s second door:

    Very damaging to her credibility.

    Here is a piece with a link to what purports to be the actual plans, but I find them to be difficult to read.

    Reply
      1. Bridget

        I am reading that they will not. I’m terribly disappointed about that. Especially with the newest development from her ex boyfriend and the possibly that she also lied about helping anyone else with a polygraph.
        My respect for Rachel Mitchell grows daily, imagine what an FBI agent could do with more time and no interruptions every five minutes.

        Reply
    1. Unna

      Reading more right now it looks like she may have straight up lied to the senate about this second door thing. And now there are reports that she will not be questioned by the FBI.

      Reply
  28. Carolinian

    The Purdy Law and Political Economy article does deserve careful study

    Originalists are always partly right that living constitutionalists are substituting judicial discretion for popular will, and living constitutionalists are always partly right that originalists are subordinating popular will to the dead hand of a long-gone polity. Most constitutional theory and much jurisprudence are efforts to overcome this dilemma; but the circle will not be squared. Claims of bad faith and opportunism are inevitable because no theory can rationalize our constitutional system.

    And there it is. Perhaps it is time for a Constitutional convention although goodness only knows how that would turn out. But one feeble suggestion from the peanut gallery would be that our courts–including the highest–would gain greater popular acceptance and legitimacy if the members of the SC were from a more broad based background. Harvard and Yale aren’t the world or America either and if the courts are a quest for some sort of universal wisdom then a more universal range of personal experience would surely benefit our next SC justice. Clearly Kavanaugh doesn’t fit the bill, but then Obama’s picks don’t either. Doubtless the Repubs are perfectly happy for the SC to be “our House of Lords.” The next Dem president might try to be a little more down to earth.

    Reply
    1. Harold

      I read found a paper last spring, “Montesquieu’s Mistakes”, in conjunction with a discussion group I joined, arguing that Montesquieu’s separation of powers doctrine didn’t work very well in the United States or Britain, from the beginning, because the English Common Law, which he was unfamiliar with, is, and has always been recognized as a system of judge-made law.

      Summary (excerpt, the full paper is available on the net as a PDF):

      First, Montesquieu’s analysis was informed by the early eighteenth-century orthodoxy that no sovereign power could viably be divided. Montesquieu rightly saw that liberty from the arbitrary exercise of power would be served by apportioning power among multiple actors, but he thought the apportionment sustainable only if along essentialist lines. Lawmaking could be separated from law-executing, but neither of those kinds of power could durably be divided internally. The extent to which actors participated in the exercise of more than one kind of power Montesquieu viewed as a protective qualification to a primary essentialist separation. He failed to see that involving multiple actors in every exercise of power, albeit by permitting actors’ individual involvement in the exercise of more than one kind of power, is the true protection against arbitrariness. Checks and balances, not essentialist separations of activities, prevent actors from conclusively determining the reach of their own powers. The critical liberty-promoting criterion for separation is not whether powers differ in kind, but whether apportionment will prevent actors from conclusively determining the reach of their own powers.

      Second, Montesquieu did not appreciate the nature of the English common law and the mechanism that its doctrine of precedent established for authoritative judicial exposition of existing law. That empirical error caused him to distinguish and trivialize the English judicial function as merely the ad hoc determination of disputed facts. Consequently, Montesquieu failed to recognize the lawmaking character of English judicial exposition.

      This article analyzes implications of Montesquieu’s mistakes for modern claims, both in Britain and in the United States, that liberty and the rule of law are promoted by separating power in certain contexts. In particular, this article questions the British Government’s recent claim that the values underlying separation of powers theory call for removing ultimate appellate jurisdiction from the House of Lords. It also traces Montesquieu’s influence on the American founders’ attempt to separate power along essentialist lines, and considers some sub-optimal consequences of that attempt, including the nondelegation quandary and the emergence of an unchecked judicial lawmaker.

      Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > a more universal range of personal experience would surely benefit our next SC justice

      Sortition, perhaps, from a restricted pool of jurists. Then we could focus on the composition of the pool, instead of these stupid confirmation fights.

      Reply
    3. Procopius

      ??? Fat Tony Scalia showed that originalists render their judgments just as much on their personal preferences as the living constitutionalists. It’s just that they’re very good at explaining the original text in terms of what they like.

      Reply
  29. audrey jr

    The maintenance man in my apartment complex rents out rooms in his free apartment. So does the manager.
    These property management types really know how to grift.
    Wonder if their bosses know about it.
    I sure ain’t gonna be the one to tell them.
    But it does make many of the residents, who pay through the nose to live in San Diego, a bit angry.

    Reply
  30. The Rev Kev

    “Why e-voting is a bad idea for Australia (and maybe the world)”: ‘Australia trialled electronically assisted voting way back in 2007 in an attempt to make voting more accessible to the visually impaired.’

    I have no idea why they are trying to make this an issues. I have worked on the polls many times and it never was a problem. One year we had a crippled woman parked outside the school grounds who wanted to vote so one of the officers took a ballot out to her with one or two of the observers to make sure all was good, and that women had her friend mark her vote (which you are here legally entitled to – even in the voting booth) and returned that ballot to the box inside.
    The electoral commission even goes to the extent of having officers visit old people’s homes to have voting done. Even prisoners in Australia can vote so long as their sentences are no longer than three years. There is a lot of confidence and goodwill in our system because of all this.
    The politicians want it but it has zero support in the community and having seen how US Federal elections have been completely overturned (and not by Russians either) I don’t think that anybody would want a bar of it. Bit more on this subject below-

    Reply
  31. Wukchumni

    Re: Tesla parking lots

    I was around 20 years old walking in my SoCal neighborhood, when to my astonishment, there were 2 car carriers full of brand spanking new stainless steel bodied Deloreans parked there. Maybe a dozen cars, and if only i’d taken a photo.

    Needless to say, the nascent or noseient car company went belly up soon after.

    Reply
  32. allan

    [Anchorage Daily News]

    A political novice who rode his profile as an outsider-adventurer to the Republican nomination in a competitive Kansas congressional district is facing scrutiny about some of the biographical details he shares with voters.

    Steve Watkins’ campaign website featured a since-removed testimonial to his “heroic leadership” when a deadly earthquake shook Mount Everest during an expedition. He has acknowledged inaccurately claiming that he started a Middle East business, expanding it from three to 470 people. And there are doubts about Watkins’ self-description as a devoted, sixth-generation Kansan. …

    Watkins’ campaign website calls him “an accomplished athlete and explorer,” citing his 2015 attempt to be the first person to race in Alaska’s Iditarod and scale Mount Everest in the same year.

    In that year’s 1,000-mile dogsled race as a rookie, he finished 58th out of 78. Watkins also started the race in March 2018 but didn’t finish.

    His 2015 expedition on the world’s tallest mountain was cut short by an earthquake in Nepal that killed nearly 8,900 people. Watkins’ website previously quoted Everest outfitter Guy Cotter as saying he relied on Watkins’ “heroic leadership amid the chaos.” Watkins said it was in response to his calm and the moral support he offered his group of stranded climbers.

    Cotter told The Associated Press that he never said it and was unaware Watkins had put the quote on his campaign website. It was removed after the AP questioned Watkins about Cotter’s comments. …

    Recently the Kansas City Star reported that while Watkins claimed to have started a company and built it from scratch, in fact he joined an existing company as a contractor. To explain the discrepancy, Watkins said he helped create products and services for the company’s clients. …

    Surely CalPERS can find a job for such an individual with such a compelling resumé.

    Reply
  33. Telee

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Joe Biden a central figure in creating the misery of student debt? Isn’t he a key figure in tightening the bankruptcy laws which has made so many students debtors without relief?

    Now he wants our vote for prsident. I won’t vote for this.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      Yes, and I don’t understand why the people who keep pushing this idea believe the Republicans won’t hammer that once he becomes the candidate, along with everybody competing in the primary. Of course he benefited the credit card companies and the banks, but do they think that’s a winning strategy?

      Reply
    1. MichaelSF

      Everyone will be OK because “Flint’s Mayor Karen Weaver is sending thoughts and prayers to those affected by the crash. “

      Reply
      1. Steve H.

        Always look to the underlying sources.

        – Sources and References
        1 PNAS June 11, 2018. 201718793
        2 CNN June 13, 2018
        3 Environmental Health Perspectives September 2017, Volume 125, Issue 9
        4 Environmental Health Perspectives October 2012, Volume 120, Issue 10
        5 Lancet Neurology 13(3):330-38
        6 Fluoride Action Network, Effects of Fluoride on Brain
        7 Newsweek August 4, 2017
        8 Environmental Health Perspectives August 2014; 122(8)
        9 Environmental Health Perspectives, 2013 Feb;121(2):257-62
        10 Medicine Net August 4, 2017
        11 Environmental Health May 24, 2016
        12 N Engl J Med 1999; 341:549-555
        13 Environ Health Perspect 119:1189-1195 (2011).
        14 The New York Times April 21, 2011
        15 Environ Health Perspect; DOI:10.1289/ehp.1104170
        16 Nature Biotechnology 27, 804 – 805 (2009)
        17 Green Science Policy Institute, Flame Retardants
        18 Coop The Organic Effect
        19 J. Agric. Food Chem. October 25, 2017
        20 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition June 26, 2013
        21 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition April 2010;91(4):1060-7
        22 J Neurophysiol. 2004 Apr;91(4):1545-55.
        23 The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 94, Issue 6, 1 December 2011, Pages 1584–1591

        3/4 journals. 1/8 sketchy.

        Reply
  34. Edward E

    US pivots to China after NAFTA deal

    Trump favorite pick new to the U.S.-China tug of war, Hudson institute’s Michael Pillsbury, holds back-channel talks with a Chinese Communist Party .

    Kudlow: “Deficit will drop as a share of GDP when economy improves” guess he didn’t get the memo that it’s the ‘best it’s ever been’

    Reply
  35. madmamie

    Nobody seems to have commented on the (low) adoption of technology graphs.
    On that subject it may be worth mentioning that it is probably just another fact supporting the claims of those who say that half of all Americans are poor, which means no disposable income for gadgets and a lifestyle that doesn’t need them. If the “affluent middle class” in America is disappearing or has disappeared then you gadget consumers are a disappearing minority, right?

    Reply
    1. Angie Neer

      I found the data in that tweet oversold by the breathless presentation. 95% adoption of cell phones is “flatlining?” Well yeah, the trend has slowed down because it can’t go any higher! I mean, I don’t go to the gas station, slap down $40 and say, “I’m gonna flatline my tank on pump number 3.” Also, the over-50% adoption of tablets struck me as high. To me, that just shows that people have figured out the limits of tablets’ usefulness.

      I’d be curious to see the curve for FitBits. From my casual observation, it seemed that about half the people I know got one as a gift from a spouse or relative concerned about the giftee’s health, wore them for a few months, and then “lost” them.

      Reply

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