2:00PM Water Cooler 10/30/2018

By Lambert Strether of .

Politics

2020

“Team Clinton says there’s no way Hillary’s running again” [] • But would she accept a nomination by acclamation?

2018

until Election Day, next Tuesday. Too late, I think, for any game-changing events.

“One Week Out, Six Rating Changes” [Dave Wasserman, ]. Changes: AR-02: Hill – Lean R to Likely R CA-01: LaMalfa – Solid R to Likely R ; CA-22: Nunes – Solid R to Likely R ; FL-18: Mast – Likely R to Lean R ; IA-04: King – Likely R to Lean R ; OH-01: Chabot – Toss Up to Lean R . 4 to blue, 2 to red. Note, however, that none of the shifts to blue actually move the district into the D column; says Mr. Counter-suggestible: “[T]he Democrats need to do more than shift districts; they need to win them.” From the article, IA-04 is interesting: “[A] poll this week by Democratic firm Change Research found King leading by just 45 percent to 44 percent against his first credible challenger in six years, former minor league baseball pitcher J.D. Scholten. Even in an R+11 seat, the poll makes some sense because Scholten and an anti-King group, American Values PAC, have been on the airwaves totally unanswered the past two weeks. Scholten has outraised King $1.7 million to $741,000 this cycle in large part thanks to disgusted national donors who view King as a racist. But in his ads, Scholten attacks King as AWOL from the district rather than criticizing the incumbent’s views on western civilization. Instead, it’s American Values PAC that’s savaging King for ‘flying around Europe meeting with neo-Nazis.’ Unlike in 2012, when King ran a vigorous campaign to beat former Iowa First Lady Christie Vilsack, King isn’t mounting a serious defense. Of the $782,000 King has spent this cycle, most has been spent on fundraising or salaries. With a week to go, he’s yet to air an ad.” • King moving along to K Street, like the similarly lackadaisical Joe Crowley?

“Uncertainties Loom as Midterms Enter Final Stretch” [Sean Trende*, ]. I’ll quote the call first: “The consensus view is that Democrats are favored to take the lower chamber. Analysts disagree on just how large a majority they are likely to win, and how likely that majority is. If you split the RealClearPolitics in half, it results in Democrats gaining about 25 seats, for a narrow 220-215 majority. I tend to think that the tossups will break disproportionately toward Democrats, and see something more on the order of a 225-210 Democratic majority, but this is hair-splitting to a certain degree.” But the whole article is a very good, very level-headed take, organized around “things that should bother any sober-minded elections analyst in the final week of the election.” One such thing: “How many votes are Democrats wasting? One of the biggest news stories this cycle has been the massive influx of cash into Democratic campaigns, [some in districts are heavily Republican and unlikely to flip]… Democrats right now have roughly a 7 1/2-point lead on the generic ballot, which asks which party people would prefer to have control Congress. Normally this would be enough to flip the majority. But if Democrats run up the score in districts that they are unlikely to win, suddenly that seven-point margin translates into a closer-than-expected seat share.” NOTE * A fine example of an aptronym!

“These are the priciest congressional races of 2018 — in one chart” []. • Two charts, one for the House, one for the Senate.

“Blue wave of money propels 2018 election to record-breaking $5.2 billion in spending” []. “The Center for Responsive Politics projects that more than $5.2 billion will be spent this election cycle, making it the most expensive midterm election ever by a wide margin… While Republican candidates are raising funds at record levels, the huge uptick in spending is driven primarily by unprecedented Democratic fundraising. Democratic candidates are projected to spend more than $2.5 billion this cycle, while Republicans are expected to spend approximately $2.2 billion. Democratic House hopefuls have raised more than $951 million, crushing their Republican opponents’ $637 million haul. Things are closer in the Senate — $513 million to $361 million — but Democrats are still ahead. In every kind of competitive race — even those in red districts — Democrats are either outraising Republicans or keeping pace.” • The only kind of wave that counts…

“One week out, Democrats still have a path to winning the Senate. But it’s extremely narrow” []. “There are three remaining pathways for Democrats to regain control of the upper chamber. Here they are: 1. Democrats win the GOP-held Senate seats of Arizona and Nevada — and also hold on to ALL of their vulnerable seats in North Dakota, Missouri, Florida, Indiana, Montana and West Virginia. 2. Democrats win the GOP-held Senate seats of Arizona, Nevada AND Tennessee, which allows them to lose ONE Democratic-held seat (like North Dakota). 3. Democrats win the GOP-held Senate seats of Arizona, Nevada, Tennessee AND Texas, which allows them to lose TWO Democratic-held seats.” • And it is true, as we know from 2016, that narrow paths can lead to victory. Races to watch next Tuesday.

Clarifying:

Planning to leave voting until election day? You could chance it – but what if you get sick, or stuck at work? It could happen – even if you’re wearing Valentino. Find out whether you can early vote in your state:

— Indivisible Guide (@IndivisibleTeam)

: “The Maison Valentino plays a major role in the luxury division through tradition and innovation, a necessary combination for a creative industry that generates the sense of beauty. Valentino’s fashion is displayed through the Haute Couture and Prêt-à-Porter lines for women and for men and through the Valentino Garavani accessories lines that include shoes, bags, small leather goods, eyewear, scarves, ties and fragrances. An aesthetic universe, present in over 100 countries through 175 Valentino directly-operated boutiques and over 1500 points of sale.” I’m sure they appreciate the product placement. Hey, kidding!

IA-04: “Land O’Lakes Pulls Support for Iowa Congressman Steve King Over Racial Remarks” []. “Arden Hills, Minnesota-based Land O’Lakes, known for its dairy business, is also a 97-year-old cooperative with operations that span the so-called farm-to-fork spectrum…. Iowa is a center for American agricultural production—it ranks first in corn and egg production and raises a third of the nation’s hogs. Other agricultural contributors to King said they haven’t decided whether to stop financial support.”

MO Senate: “Claire McCaskill, in tight Senate race, comes close to saying fellow Democrats Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders are ‘crazy'” []. McCaskill; “”I would not call my colleagues crazy, but Elizabeth Warren sure went after me when I advocated tooling back some of the regulations for small banks and credit unions. I certainly disagree with Bernie Sanders on a bunch of stuff.” • …. But perhaps there’s a reason–

MO Senate: “Financial industry bets big on McCaskill with control of Senate at stake” []. “McCaskill’s campaign has raised nearly $4 million from the finance, insurance and real estate sector, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets site, which tracks campaign donations across a variety of industries…. The senator’s campaign declined to comment on the reason for this level of support from the industry, which far surpasses the level of support she received in 2012 when she ranked No. 20 in industry donations.”

Obama Legacy

“Economic anxiety”…

Many liberals today get so angry when you point out that our bad economy is a major contributor to the rise of the far right. But here’s a 2009 report from Obama’s Department of Homeland Security making that exact point.

— Walker Bragman (@WalkerBragman)

Realignment and Legitimacy

DSA plugging away:

We're so close to our first timer picket line challenge goal! 😱❤️ We just need one more person to step up to take a shift! Is it you??? Sign up here

— DSA San Francisco (@DSA_SF)

History lesson:

A few years before Harding was elected president, he advocated turning America into an absolute dictatorship

— Mark Ames (@MarkAmesExiled)

“Pipeline issues”:

Would have to be a bit of a long-term project given pipeline issues, but funding a program to recruit and support working class candidates for office would be smart.

— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias)

Stats Watch

Consumer Confidence, October 2018: “[C]onsumer confidence index continues to hold near 18-year highs” []. “Those saying jobs are currently hard-to-get fell nearly 1 percentage point… [T]hose who say jobs are currently plentiful [rose]…. This report is unmistakably strong and points to not only a solid employment report but also hints at another month of strength for consumer spending.”

S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, August 2018: “Growth in home prices, as it is for home sales, is almost at a standstill” []. “These results and trends are consistent with weakness seen in last week’s FHFA house price index as well price data in the existing home sales report. However strong the 2018 economy is, it doesn’t include home prices which are a central source of household wealth.”

Residential Vacancies and Homeownership: []. “The quarterly HVS is the most timely survey on households, but there are many questions about the accuracy of this survey. Overall this suggests that vacancies have declined significantly, and my guess is the homeownership rate has bottomed – and that the rental vacancy rate has bottomed for this cycle.”

Housing: “As the housing market stagnates, American homeowners are staying put for the longest stretches ever” []. “Housing-market headwinds are keeping American homeowners in their properties for the longest stretches on record, in a sharp distortion of the mobility Americans have for decades prized. Across the country, homes that sold in the third quarter of this year had been owned an average of 8.23 years, according to an analysis from Attom Data Solutions. That’s almost double the length of time a home sold in 2000, when Attom’s data begin, had been owned.” • So “just move” isn’t the panacea it used to be….

Housing: “SALT Keeps Bad News in Housing Coming: Weekend Edition” []. “Sales of new single-family houses were down 13.2 percent in September from a year earlier, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday. That’s a lot — the biggest year-over-year percentage decline since April 2011, when the housing bust was still busting. It is also within the margin of error… There was one region of the country, though, where home sales were definitely down by a lot. That would be the Northeast, where new home sales fell year over year at a rate somewhere between 31.2 percent and 71.4 percent (midpoint: 51.3 percent)…. there’s this other thing that’s weighing on the Northeastern housing market: the provision in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump in December that restricts deductions for state and local taxes (aka SALT) to $10,000 a year.” • It would be ironic if the Republican attempt to punish high tax Blue States caused them to lose toss-up House races; the FT pointed to three in New Jersey.

Shipping: “Uber for empty containers could solve repositioning challenges” []. “Technology startups are focusing on reducing the empty container problem, a challenge that costs the container shipping industry about $20 billion per year. At any given time, about one-third of the ocean containers in circulation are empty, and the average container spends nearly half its life idle, according to…. Historically there have been fewer loads going back from the West Coast of the United States to China, to reposition containers for the next round of eastbound shipments. Containers pile up in ports such as Hamburg, waiting to be moved back to Karachi, for example.” • Some of the problem is structural (more goods coming from China than going to it) but apparently 30% of it is amenable to increased efficiencies.

Shipping: “Deregulation finally begets creativity” []. “[M]otor carriers have been slow to grasp the changes that really create a robust, creative market. Up until this past decade, less-than-truckload (LTL) shippers and carriers found themselves still locked in a tradition of classifications, rate tables and absurd discounts of 90% off ‘class rates.’ This system was supported by transportation management software that required loading static rate tables for look up in order to price transactions….. As an example, most rate tables have been based upon three- to five-digit zip code parings. Distances in rate tables are averages and not reflective of actual costs to serve a particular shipper and consignee at the geographic edges of zip code areas…. New technology is overtaking the rigid interaction between shippers and carriers, with robust machine-to-machine interaction making split second decisions concerning the best way to route a package.”

Infrastructure: “As Infrastructure Crumbles, So Does US Manufacturing” []. “So far, the Trump infrastructure rebuilding program does not have a funding solution and does not yet offer specifics or priorities in infrastructure spending. Trump wants $1.5 trillion in new spending on infrastructure, and Congress has, so far, only allocated $21 billion. This is about 1% of the president’s request. So Trump’s proposed public/private infrastructure plan has become fake news.”

Transportation: “First toilets, now engines: Aircraft supply chain can’t keep pace with demand” []. “In 2017, the worldwide fleet of commercial aircraft grew by 4% to more than 31,000, with an order backlog of nearly 10 years, according to the Centre of Aviation. A similar pace is expected for 2018, and critical suppliers are struggling to keep up.”

The Bezzle: “The newest innovation in app-driven technology is one of the oldest traditions in transportation: customs evasion. A burgeoning set of online companies is building a new industry in matching shoppers with international travelers willing to deliver goods across borders. The shoppers are trying to get better deals on goods outside their own countries, and…. many travelers using San Francisco-based Grabr admit bringing expensive items through customs without paying duties” [].

The Bezzle: “Scooters are good for the transportation system. Safe scooters are better” []. “[N]ow alleges that the two largest shared e-scooter companies — Bird and Lime — are guilty of ‘aiding and abetting assault.’ The lawsuit contends that the companies were grossly negligent when they dumped thousands of scooters onto streets and sidewalks without first seeking approval from local authorities, and without regard for the safety and welfare of the public. As a result, says the complaint, scores, if not hundreds, of riders and pedestrians have been injured by scooters.” More: “If scooter companies hope to brand themselves as solutions to urban traffic woes, they will have to manage and maintain their fleets with the same care as a public transit agency.” • Which, absent serious regulation, will never happen.

The Bezzle: “Wells Fargo’s Chief Administrative Officer, Auditor on Leaves of Absence” []. • Oh.

Tech: “Is Facebook still growing?” []. “The reality is that Facebook may be shrinking in certain markets, but its user base is still growing overall. Despite all the concern last quarter — Facebook stock fell more than 20 percent after its last earnings call, and still hasn’t recovered — Facebook still added 22 million new daily users last quarter. That’s not a lot for Facebook, but it’s still 22 million people…. The problem is that all of those new Facebook users came from markets where the company makes little to no money from them. Each Facebook user in the U.S. or Canada generated almost $26 in revenue for the company last quarter; each user in “Asia-Pacific” generated just $2.62. Those in other parts of the world, like South America or Africa, brought in $1.91.”

Tech: “Facebook Hasn’t Learned Anything” []. “Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg conceded last year that Facebook’s mission to ‘connect the world’ wasn’t necessarily making the world a better place. The new goal, he said, was to ‘bring the world closer together.’ That aim, however, isn’t as closely aligned with Facebook’s business needs. Its main app, with more than 2 billion users, is running out of people to add. Facebook’s shares fell more than 20 percent after it predicted a revenue slowdown in July. To keep investors happy, it can’t just remain massively profitable—it needs to keep growing, which means getting more people online…. ‘The question for Facebook is how serious are they about going into these markets and bearing the costs of properly entering the markets,’ says Matti Littunen, an analyst at researcher Enders Analysis Ltd. ‘Putting boots on the ground, making sure it’s a good experience in that market for the long term, and making sure there’s not going to be political problems.’ At the London conference, there was little evidence the company had learned those lessons. It seemed to be resting on its old assumption that it can work out any problems after everyone is on Facebook.” • I’m still struggling with what the difference between “connect the world” and “bring the world closer together” might be. It’s almost as if Zuckerberg is kicking a can full of bafflegab down the road.

Tech: “Are You Ready to Try Again with Smart Glasses?” []. No. More: “On the other hand, wearable technology feels as inevitable as taxes. Someday, we’ll all be wearing screens on or near our faces.” • No.

Fodder for the Bulls: “The Dangerous Corners of the U.S. Economy Actually Look Pretty Sound” [Conor Sen, ]. “Low unemployment in the context of an economy without destabilizing levels of financial leverage or investment should give the Federal Reserve the courage to let the economy run hotter than it might if that leverage or excess investment existed. It may lead to somewhat higher inflation than we’ve seen in the past couple cycles, but so long as inflation expectations stay contained, that shouldn’t concern a Fed that claims its inflation target is symmetric. This economic cycle will end someday, but it may continue longer than most think.”

Honey for the Bears: “Yield Curve Isn’t Lying About Next Recession, Guggenheim Says” []. “Investors continue to ignore the flattening yield curve at their peril, according to Guggenheim Partners. Despite robust economic growth in the third quarter, the $265 billion investment firm’s view that the next U.S. recession will begin in early 2020 remains intact, strategists including global chief investment officer Scott Minerd wrote in a note to clients. The yield curve — an inversion of which has preceded past economic downturns — is a powerful signal, they said.”

Gaia

“US West’s abandoned mines hold danger and, for some, thrills” []. “In Utah alone, the state is trying to seal more than 10,000 open mines with cinderblocks and metal grates after people have died in rock falls and all-terrain-vehicle crashes and from poisonous air over the past three decades….. Still, not everyone wants to see the mines closed. For years, a dedicated subculture of explorers has been slipping underground to see tunnels lined with sparkling quartz, century-old rail cars and caverns that open in the earth like buried ballrooms.” • Plus, it will be cool down there. Out of the sun…

“Can Agriculture Save Pollinators?” []. “Honeybee nervous systems are intricate and sensitive. Honeybees can read the vibrations of another bee dancing a map to a flower, in the dark, by touch alone. Their olfactory powers enable them to distinguish the scent of specific blossoms. Humans have even trained them to reliably detect diseases, drugs, and bombs. Their dexterity is crucial for grooming, for packing pollen onto their legs, for building honeycomb out of wax. In my own life with honeybees, I have observed bees twitching uncontrollably after being poisoned, but often the effects of chemicals are not immediately observable. Some toxins disrupt insects’ gut bacteria, and damage from neonicotinoids happens incrementally over time. It is excruciating to imagine these gentle, sensitive insects suffering from a neurotoxin, knowing the implications of their sensory impairment. The result is clear: for pollinators, the monocropping system, with intensive chemical inputs, is not working well.”

The problem:

Charging an electric car with a diesel generator.

— You Had One Job (@_youhadonejob1)

Metaphorically, at least.

Class Warfare

“Wealth gap for minorities in the U.S. has continued to widen post-recession” []. “Many financial gains by minorities in the preceding decades were wiped out during the Great Recession, the study found. And while whites experienced economic recovery between 2010 and 2016, financial indicators for black and Hispanic consumers remained largely unchanged. Researchers often examine yearly income when observing inequality, but a family’s level of wealth — their stock, real estate, and other holdings — has a larger impact on well-being, the researchers said.” • Thanks, Obama!

News of the Wired

“Three hundred and sixty years of United States caselaw” []. From the About page: “The Caselaw Access Project (“CAP”) expands public access to U.S. law. Our goal is to make all published U.S. court decisions freely available to the public online, in a consistent format, digitized from the collection of the Harvard Law Library.” • This is a very worthy project, though it’s hard to see why all published U.S. Court decisions were not already freely available.

“Many Analysts, One Data Set: Making Transparent How Variations in Analytic Choices Affect Results” []. “What if scientific results are highly contingent on subjective decisions at the analysis stage? In that case, the process of certifying a particular result on the basis of an idiosyncratic analytic strategy might be fraught with unrecognized uncertainty….”

“Hubble Telescope’s Broken Gyroscope Seemingly Fixed After Engineers Try Turning It Off and On Again” []. • Tech support always says that!

“The Library” []. “[T]his low period of my life lead me to take a several months long and still ongoing, involuntary hiatus from writing. In the time I’ve spent away, I’ve been doing a tremendous amount of reading and as such, I’ve undertaken a massive project to rebuild my personal library. What started out as roughly fifty left-leaning books has now grown to several massive shelves holding well over two-hundred volumes on a variety of subjects that relate to socialist politics, theory and activism.”

“Air Dryers vs Paper Towels” []. “[P]aper towels are more expensive than either hot air or jet air dryers…. Paper towel vs hot air blowers are about the same. They overlap in carbon footprint depending on the relevant variables, so no clear winner there. However, air blades have a lower carbon footprint than both, when doing a thorough lifetime analysis…. Regardless, there is a nice consensus of research that hot air blowers spread more bacteria and viruses from and onto user’s hands than paper towels, and jet dryers even more. As the authors note, this “suggests” that air dryers are less hygienic, but I could not find any studies looking at actual infection rates.” • Presumably, lack of hygeine has its own carbon footprint, not factored in here. Then again, I would say that: I hate air dryers!

* * *

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: “Nature’s fairy-lights.”

* * *

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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.

126 comments

  1. Wukchumni

    > “Uber for empty containers could solve repositioning challenges”

    As usual the TEUfel is in the details, as we used to send back shipping containers full of recyclables to China, but that’s so last year.

    And of course, we weren’t the only developed country doing so, all of them were, pretty much.

    Used 20 foot containers are around $1000, and i’ve seen some pretty imaginative uses for them, mid-mountain @ Mammoth ski resort, they serve as warming huts and are tricked out pretty nice.

    1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

      Our sweet office at FOB Shindand consisted of 3 containers welded together and the inside walls knocked out.

      We had THE BEST workshop on base. Including Lt Col whatshisface and CSM Coley.

  2. Pat

    One of the places where I spend a lot of time has recently replaced all the paper towels with jet air dryers. The dryers send water all over the wall and floor around them. The idea that they are not spreading germs is, frankly, unbelievable. Most people do not spend the necessary amount of time washing their hands so that water is going to be germ free.
    There have been multiple complaints in my presence regarding the dryers, including pointing out to management that drying hands is only one use for the towels. Wiping glasses, drying faces and even wiping down wet and messy sink areas were mentioned. Personally I am of the belief that this will also discourage hand washing as the air is cold and the hands do not actually get dry to the touch without spending an inordinate amount of time at the dryer (something that doesn’t work for lines at the sink). For instance on my last point there are more sinks than dryers in every one of the bathrooms I have been in at this facility. How does that work when it takes longer to dry your hands than to wash them for most people?

    I am not a fan of the dryers, but really am not a fan of not at least offering some paper to the people using the space. I also have to wonder if the people doing this study actually figured out how long it takes the jet dryers to actually ‘dry’ the hands and made their carbon print calculation on that or if they just figured most people would give up and finish drying their hands on their clothing or stop washing their hands at all.

      1. Synoia

        Once upon a time we had cotton towels on a roll which were laundered and reused….

        Or we can do the schoolboy method, wipe your hands on your shirt…germ loaf unknown, but probably high.

        1. HotFlash

          I use my sweatshirt for hand-wiping, the sleeves are handy pot-holders (in my own kitchen), and since it’s just my hands on my shirt, not likely to contaminate others.

    1. bird

      Many Japanese restrooms don’t have air dryers or paper towels. Everyone carries their own very small towel. At first I was confused by all the small towels in stores and then was told the use. Brilliant. I’m a convert – carry my own small towel with me now. Wish this practice would take off here.

      1. roxan

        Never thought of it but now I will carry one, too. I also hate those dryers. In addition to problems already mentioned, you have no paper towel with which to open the bathroom door which means you just get your hands dirty again.

      2. marieann

        I always have a handkerchief in my pocket, it works great to dry my hands or to use as a napkin….or to blow my nose…..very versatile the old ways are.

      3. Pat

        Just out of curiosity how do you:

        Dry your hands more than once or twice?
        Deal with the damp towel? I would think you would have to have a dedicated container in order to keep.the damp from the rest of your belongings and an enclosed container could have other issues.
        And what is an adequate number of small towels to have as a supply based on number used a day?

        1. bird

          I usually carry two and have never had problem with overuse. I only use one the majority of the time. The ones I have from Japan are stronger than a handkerchief – more terry cloth like. Still handkerchiefs are used there as well. Just throw them in the wash at the end of the day.

          1. Wukchumni

            It’s almost always sunny in the Sierra Nevada in the summer, and you’ll never see me w/o a small packtowel 10 inches wide x 30 inches long-around my neck, that i’ll drop into every snowfed creek I cross for the duration of my walk, keeping me comfortable all the while.

      4. KPC

        We often do the same in Central America. For men, they are called 100% cotton handkerchiefs.

        They simply go into the laundry here at the firm and in my apartment. Very easy, very simple.

      5. Richard

        Hmm. They are doing it the right way. What we need are good, durable hand towels that can also fold kinda thin and dry easily. Am I overthinking this; are handkerchiefs enough? Do we need a new, magic material that doesn’t get as soggy as cotton?
        I speak as a classroom elementary teacher, who washes his hands 10-15 times a day. I guess I could just get 5 handkerchiefs, one per day. Okay, problem solved, will implement.
        But somebody get to work on that new material anyway.

        1. bird

          The terry cloth works well. Similar to our wash cloths but thinner and smaller – they hold up well. It’s possible there is a better product out there – I did also pick up some gauze dish towels while in Japan and those would probably even work better. They are quick drying but much larger.

        2. jpj

          When I’m traveling, I usually carry a chamois with me. They’re incredibly absorbent (my 18″x18″ towel is more than enough to dry off from a shower provided one doesn’t have large amounts of hair to dry), and can be wrung mostly-dry in a matter of seconds. You can often find them in sporting goods stores marketed to swimmers, but the more frugal-minded might do like I did and get one from an auto parts store where they’re sold to dry cars without damaging the finish.

    2. Lunker Walleye

      Many years ago, seen on hand dryer in toilet at Interstate 80 rest stop:

      1. PUSH BUTTON
      2. Rub Hands Gently Under Warm Air
      3. Stops Automatically

      A traveler had carefully incised the following at the bottom, “Wipe hands on pants”.

    3. Lunker Walleye

      Many years ago, seen on hand dryer in toilet at Interstate 80 rest stop:

      1. PUSH BUTTON
      2. Rub Hands Gently Under Warm Air
      3. Stops Automatically

      A traveler had carefully incised the following at the bottom, “Wipe hands on pants”.

    4. curlydan

      I know what you mean about water on the floor from air blades. At my local Costco, they have blade dryers but right next to them on the floor is a drying fan that is constantly on in an effort to dry up the water from air blades! Take that carbon footprint!

      Wouldn’t it be great if all public bathrooms (and workplace kitchen areas) had a small composting area for paper products? Those paper towels are highly compostable.

      Also, as noted above, the noise from air blades is outrageous. It’s leaf blower loud.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It was maybe 100 years ago that people carried a handkerchief with them when they went out.

        1. HotFlash

          That little old time-traveler, me! I keep a supply (4 to 6) 6-inch cotton flannel squares in my pocket for sneezes and such. Also handy for other emergencies. They go in the laundry, I set ’em up with water, soap, and bleach in the am (we have time of use rates here), shut down the cycle and let them soak until the rates go down again in the evening. I do dry them in the dryer, but if the world goes pear-shaped, I can air-dry them.

        2. Craig H.

          Have you seen the bit in Montaigne about handkerchiefs? He said he had a “good friend” who maintained that blowing your nose out onto the ground was far less disgusting than carrying around a snot soaked rag on your person. This is one of those points where I am pretty sure (no evidence) that Montaigne’s good friend is actually Montaigne who finesses an embarrassing fact by putting the booger on somebody else.

          Kleenex is one of the greatest inventions of civilized man. Doesn’t hardly make up for cluster bombs or poison gas or total war, but it still is magnificent stuff. I have a good friend who closely examines his kleenex deposits to audit his health and this really is impossible with a rag containing hours of miscellaneous snot deposits.

          1. Jonathan Holland Becnel

            I blow snot rockets all the time. Ive gotten quite good at it. Minimal leftovers.

            Better out than in as i always say.

            F all this garbage about dryers and towels and handkerchiefs.

            15K years as a naked ape with nothing but opposable thumbs.

    5. Trick Shroade

      More of the crapification of everything. Also in the bathroom realm can we add the motion-sensor faucets that you have to wave your hands under 15 times before it dispenses water.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        DIY — do it yourself.

        Bring one’s own sustainable cloth towels.

        And one’s one reusable cloth napkins.

        “Saving the planet starts with small gestures.”

          1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

            Some think it’s healthier to go to bed at sundown.

            Less energy is used, if one remembers to turn the lights…and TV off.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Once I am retired and no longer have to work the afternoon-evening shift I currently work, then I could do that. It would indeed save a measurable amount of energy.

              And everyone who is doing this or things like this would be able to find eachother and move to conquer political systems at various levels and try using them to design and engineer some Hard DeCarbonization at those various levels.

              But all such people would have to form a movement first, and such a movement might arise on top of a support base of mass quantities of people living this kind of conservation, as you suggest.

    6. elissa3

      Seen in a local restroom, scrawled in black magic marker: PUSH to hear the wisdom of Donald Trump. Hey, it could be applied to other personas/situations.

    7. kernel

      I, too, hate those noisy dryers. Oddly, they are always situated in rooms with tile walls & floors, which makes the noise even worse…

      Also, I’m getting too old to bend over backwards just to dry my face. It’s even worse when I have to squeeze my head down into those new-fangled jet-things. And paper towels are much more convenient for blowing my nose.

      1. human

        I have facial hair. The old style with the rotating nozzle was an option. The new ones are not. I find them discriminatory. Tissue toilet seat covers work OK if you dry quickly. I do try to always carry something in my pockets.

    8. remmer

      On paper towels vs. air dryers: years ago, when the dryers were first coming in, a comedian on a late night show said, “I guess those dryers are OK. But did you ever try to blow your nose on one?”

    9. Brooklin Bridge

      It depends on the dryer. Home Depot(s) have powerful ones that dry your hands in seconds. If I remember correctly they also have paper towels so you can get out the door (or perhaps they have phased those out so that elbows or back arms are de rigueur). And at Home Depot, as an added bonus, you get to hike all the way to the back of the store for exercise before using the rest room.

      I’ve heard the germs are inside the damn hot air blowers themselves – can’t win. I figure if I don’t die before getting out the rest room door, I’m stronger for it. Usually. There are places that even I will just turn around and walk out of – depending on desperation level – but they are rare.

      Other places have electric hand dryers no one can get to work which I suppose is why shirts and pants were invented.

  3. jo6pac

    I wonder how many of the elected demodogs are going to be repugs lights. I wonder if it will make any difference. I do welcome grid lock.

    Then for fun I wonder how many former military/intelligence people will make into the beltway?

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Not to imply they necessarily will, but with that kind of background (and experience, for having done it many times overseas..to bad guys, of course,) stealing elections (to save the world) should not be too difficult (I think someone asked that last night).

  4. Wukchumni

    The Bezzle: “Wells Fargo’s Chief Administrative Officer, Auditor on Leaves of Absence”
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Orwells Fargo has tv commercials airing now, informing the public of how nice they were to their customers in the aftermath of the 1906 SF earthquake, and even though bank records were buried, allowed withdrawals based on their word.

    Their guile has no bounds…

    1. Enquiring Mind

      Wells Fargo had another little trust-the-customer experience late last millennium when they acquired First Interstate Bank. Seems in their haste to shave expenses and show the one true path to banking truth and beauty that they whacked too many middle managers who knew how to get things done. That led to some embarrassing inability to account for over $100,000,000 in deposits for which customers had receipts. Or so I was told by some former bankers and didn’t think they’d fib.

    2. Tomonthebeach

      I cannot believe that people still bank with, well, banks. None of my 3 credit unions needed a bailout from Obama.

      WF is a racket; not a bank. It has a terrible track record of screwing passbook and personal loan customers. I recently discovered that one way WF stays in business is by bilking many of us for international wire transfers. I can send a check for $10K 4,000 miles away to Anchorage for free, but I have to pop $50 or more to send the same check 4,000 miles in the other direction to London. Who gets most of the $50? Often, I have discovered, it is Wells Fargo. Hmmm.

  5. men's room

    Air dryers always take too long, many leave the restroom with wet hands, door handle becomes quite unappealing. Plus the noise of six jet dryers in a busy restroom!

  6. Arizona Slim

    Yesterday evening, the Arizona Slim Ranch got a visitor.

    I thought it was my handyman, coming over to continue with his work on the ranch house’s interior. Nope. It was a young lady wearing a tee shirt.

    I could only imagine her disappointment when she saw that I was as far from being of Latin descent as is humanly possible. It was compounded by my three-word statement: “I already voted.”

    She lifted her smartphone and asked me to take a brief survey. It would only take a minute! I repeated those three words: “I already voted.”

    And then she left.

    My online research shows that this organization is a 501(c)4. Meaning that their funding sources are not readily available.

    And that raises this question in my mind: What kind of voting would be acceptable to them? The sort that my friend Gloria, who came from Mexico knowing exactly one word of English, would do? She’s a staunch Republican.

    Oh, and how about Gloria’s husband, who’s American and quite the libertarian? I don’t think that’s what MFV is looking for either.

        1. polecat

          Polecat pulls special sunglasses from pocket, slips over eyes, while scanning Alex V’s comment .. sees but one phrase: “This Is Your God” …

          1. ambrit

            That brings to mind an ‘excellent’ Republican Party Hillary Oppo poster idea. Have two pictures of Hillary, side by side. One has HRH’s smiling visage. The other has HRH’s body with a “They Live!” smiley skull on top. Have a caption contest for it!

    1. edmondo

      You have to admire the Democratic Party consultant class. They have proved to be totally inept and woefully ineffective yet they somehow convinced millions of people to pony up close to $3 BILLION dollars. I thought the TV evangelists were shameless….

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        The DemParty consultants have been very skilled at preventing election or even primary victories by SanderSocial Democrats. As long as they continue succeeding at that mission, their donors will keep paying them to keep succeeding at that mission.

      2. Summer

        It’s the most important election ever…until the next one.
        They can’t very well say it’s the most important fundraiser ever.

  7. dcblogger

    Anti-Trump Protests Using Social Media Surveillance
    A series of research projects, patent filings, and policy changes indicate that the Pentagon wants to use social media surveillance to quell domestic insurrection and rebellion.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        This was maybe half a century ago that Luddites warned about kids watching too much TV.

        Those kids are all seniors now, and perhaps we can, finally, make some provisional conclusions (until better best-explanations to revise these).

        1. Wukchumni

          We would creep ever closer to the color tv, prompting our mom to warn us for the 739th time about the danger of radiation, and tell us we had to move back about 5 feet further.

          It’s a 60’s thing, you wouldn’t understand.

          1. abynormal

            i didn’t understand it but i lived it…made to bend down beside my desk and cover my head with my hands while kissing my privates.
            for tornados we went out in the hall… baffling

  8. doug

    Someday, we’ll all be wearing screens on or near our faces.” • No.

    Well Yes. that day is now from my observations of nearly everyone staring at a screen near their face, and many of them wanting others to look at something on them…Technically not ‘wearing’ them, but there they are ‘carrying’ them…near their face

  9. Wukchumni

    Dying slowly in a dilapidated mine that you shouldn’t have gone into, on account of some grievous injury sustained because you had implicit faith in 143 year old timbering, isn’t all that.

  10. noonespecial

    MIC Jobs/ Saudis

    The article notes that an, “internal document seen by Reuters from Lockheed Martin forecasts fewer than 1,000 positions would be created by the defense contractor…The Lockheed document, which includes the workforce projections related to the Saudi deal, and interviews with defense industry sources familiar with the arms package suggest that between 20,000 and 40,000 current U.S. defense industry workers could be involved in Saudi-bound production if the whole $110 billion package goes through.”

    Is this strategic planning from the MIC C-suite that leads to medallion-encrusted generals testifying before appropriations committees against reducing handouts to those humanitarians at Lockheed, et. al.? Since the cost of freedom for the homeland is steep, would it not then be logical for the Secretary of Defense to push back about crazy talk of a 5% reduction?

  11. Wukchumni

    Looks as if the wheels are starting to come off of SF used home sales, down 20% from this time last year, and inventory is up 14%.

    I’ve asked this before, but name any other commonly held used consumer items aside from real estate, that goes up in value instead of declining…

    Whadyagot?

      1. Wukchumni

        Probably the commonest ‘art’ item would be Thomas Kinkades, which are worth not much. Old coins have been falling in numismatic value for some time now, no young collectors essentially. Most jewelry is worth the melt-down value of the precious metal, and if you have diamonds, they’ve fallen greatly in price.

  12. JTMcPhee

    For those who believe that we should give the FBI the benefit of the doubt and only look at individual cases they have laid hands on, please note that James “Whitey” Bulger, age 89 at time of death, who was a vicious mobster from Boston, was killed by person or persons unknown at a federal prison in West Virginia. He was serving a life sentence for at least 11 murders he committed or was involved in, over many years.

    The thing to note is that he was given protection by the FBI agents in Boston, as an “informant,” supposedly ratting on his fellow thugs. The situation may be a lot more “obscure” than that:

    So having lived through the COINTELPRO period (still operating under other names, of course), , and recalling the “culture” that J. Edgar Hoover built into the bones of the FBI, I will decline to extend a “good faith” presumption to anything the FBI does. Like the Ruby Ridge “standoff,” , and the Fibbies’ “sting” operations involving the suckering of some person of Muslim extraction into a “terrorist attack” scenario. All that history leads to speculations like this: Which are hardly the stuff that fosters any faith in the tatters of the supposed “rule of law” in our exceptional nation…

    Goodbye, “Whitey,” we hardly knew ye…

    Side note: staffing has been cut at that and other federal prisons (state and privatized too, of course, “austerity” and profit being what they are). And so the number of murders at this prison, that have run about one a year, is up to three — and staff there attribute this mostly to staff reductions.

    Interesting how the instances of death and morbidity go up in hospitals as the staffing per patient gets cut, and cut, and cut again. Can’t wait to see how the ballot measures in MA and CA turn out on this topic.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      So the annually renewed “tax-dowry” that each prisoner brings to the FedPrison System is no longer enough to keep staffing levels where they were? So instead of losing prisoner-dowry revenue-stream per year this prison is now losing three prisoner-dowry revenue-streams per year. Did reducing staff save this prison more money than losing 2 “extra” prisoner-dowry revenue-streams cost this prison?

  13. Lee

    Tech: “Facebook Hasn’t Learned Anything” [Bloomberg]. “Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg conceded last year that Facebook’s mission to ‘connect the world’ wasn’t necessarily making the world a better place. The new goal, he said, was to ‘bring the world closer together.’

    If the world gets any closer together it’s going to implode. I’d just as soon keep my distance from a great many in it.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      What if it does worse than implode? What if it goes supercritical? If Mister Mark pulls out all the control rods and removes all the moderator and flush-dumps all the cooling water and heated working-water, what will happen?

      1. Eureka Springs

        Russians will rule the world, not just your mind and your advertisements.

        Socialist media.

  14. Big Tap

    So Harding wanted a dictatorship? Woodrow Wilson practically ran one. Free speech such as criticizing WWI could land you in jail. See Eugene Debs. Who instituted the unconstitutional Palmer Raids that deported, imprisoned, and crushed any dissent of opinion against Wilson or his policies? Not Harding. If you were German-American I understand your life was made a nightmare by Wilson. Your patriotism was questioned, you were considered a potential saboteur, and employment options were limited to non-war industries. Also Warren Harding not Woodrow Wilson, even though he was asked to but refused, released Eugene Debs from prison. Wilson was no saint by any means nor did Harding once in office become a dictator.

    1. ITMcPhee

      The urge to become dictator is strong in many humans. Some friends have kids who clearly aspire to the position.

      Let us remember how little “democracy,” that usually indefined term, ushered is and has been in “the exceptional indispensable nation, he Free Eorld bastion of Democracy.” We came close to dictatorship thanks to Prescott Bush and the Business Plot before WE II. And anyon recall the Truman Loyalty Oaths that preceded the days of McCarthy?

    2. John Wright

      The quote referenced is:

      “WHAT the United States needs and what it must have if it is to win the war is a supreme dictator with sole control of and sole responsibility for every phase of war activity, and this today means practically every phase of Government.”

      So his focus was on wartime with a supreme dictator (a “Commander in Chief”) as CIC Wilson, FDR or George W Bush behaved.

      The linked to Times article had this text:

      “ Whom have you in mind for this position as supreme dictator?” Mr. Harding was asked.
      “ At the present moment there is but one possible man,” replied the Senator from Ohio, “ the President of the United States. I must say he is not my choice, but the people of the country have chosen
      him, and he is the only one to whom we can turn. Why quibble with events which are already accomplished? Mr. Wilson is our President, duly elected. He is already by the inevitable force of
      events our partial dictator. Why not make him complete and supreme dictator?
      He will have to answer to the people and to history eventually for his stewardship.”

      I see some benefit to President Warren G. Harding as he did not do as much harm as many activist Presidents did (such as Wilson, Truman and George W. Bush)

      American history seems to be written to praise US presidents who “do something”.

      Doing little harm, as President \W. G Harding did, is much undervalued.

  15. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    You Had One Job
    @_youhadonejob1
    Charging an electric car with a diesel generator.

    10:08 AM – Oct 22, 2018
    3,823
    1,205 people are talking about this

    —-

    Should have chosen the sunroof* option.

    *Another name for sunroof is solar roof, with solar panels over the car.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Since some people will always be out of reach of even the most ideal and extensive mass transit, and will either move around by car or slowly die in place, a total all-aspects carbon audit of these competing car technologies is in order.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        One option would be to add wind power to the car.

        “Raise the mast and unfurl the sails!!! We’ll be running downwind.”

        1. The Rev Kev

          How about a wind mill on top of the roof? When an aircraft loses power because the engines shut down, a little windmill deploys just below the plane that gives it sufficient power to run essential system. You could have the same atop a car and moving the car will keep the windmill going in a virtuous circle.

    2. BobW

      I told someone who just bought an electric car that it was really coal-fired. He did not appreciate that.

      1. Hacker

        That’s because this statement typically comes from jackasses who refuse to make any lifestyle changes in the face of climate change. In the Northeast is is easily possible to pay an electric surcharge to guarantee renewable energy sources. It is probably possible elsewhere. Someone might also have solar on their roof. An electric car owner might also be offsetting their already lower carbon impact with carbon credits.

        To you that statement sounds sophisticated and intelligent, To someone who cares enough about climate change to invest in it, that statement reveals stubborn ignorance. Not many people appreciate when others demonstrate their stubborn ignorance. There isn’t really a good way to respond since the one demonstrating most likely won’t listen anyway.

        The only bit of information you had was that they bought an electric car, and in your ignorance you tried to make them feel stupid for doing so. Is anyone going to appreciate that?

          1. Skip Intro

            It is interesting that they complain first about the need for mining rare components, then about the toxicity of batteries when they are discarded. Seems like there could be a solution in there somewhere.

            That said, cars are inherently unsustainable.

  16. ewmayer

    o Re. Housing: “As the housing market stagnates, American homeowners are staying put for the longest stretches ever” [MarketWatch]” — I immediately wondered about that startling ‘ever’ claim – talk about fake news, what they mean is ‘ever, as in since 2000’: “…That’s almost double the length of time a home sold in 2000, when Attom’s data begin, had been owned.” More lies, damed lies, and statistics. And speaking of lying with statistics…

    o Tech: “Is Facebook still growing?” [Recode]. “The reality is that Facebook may be shrinking in certain markets, but its user base is still growing overall.” — Well, of *course* FB’s user base keeps growing … it’s very clear that once you check in, you can never leave, even if you stop using FB you remain a ‘user’ to the company. So in that context, “user base is still growing” is like saying “water is wet”. And more FB news…

    o Tech: “Facebook Hasn’t Learned Anything” [Bloomberg] … [Lambert] I’m still struggling with what the difference between “connect the world” and “bring the world closer together” might be. — Here, let me help translate: “connect the world” means “connect our legions of private-data-hungry marketers with the world’s private data as collected by us”. Whereas “bring the world closer together” means “bring our legions of private-data-hungry marketers and the world’s private data as collected by us closer together”. A real profound shift in attitude by FB, no?

    o “The Library” [Nina Illingworth]. “…What started out as roughly fifty left-leaning books has now grown to several massive shelves holding well over two-hundred volumes…” — I wonder how she stabilizes her shelves with all those left-leaning books unbalancing them.

    o “Air Dryers vs Paper Towels” [Science-Based Medicine] — The juxtaposiion of this piece with the “What if scientific results are highly contingent on subjective decisions at the analysis stage?” link a few paras above it was interesting, because the authors of the Science-Based Medicine piece make a huge faulty assumption at the outset, namely that their energy-consumption-based measure of ‘efficiency’ is the correct one for evaluating the alleged conundrum of why the proles continue to favor paper towels over hi-tech air-dryer systems. Ever tried wiping up a spill with, or blowing your nose into, an air dryer?

    1. Mo's Bike Shop

      It seems like pulp trees on legacy cleared land, with services taking the used towels to mulching would be darned good for carbon. But I guess that’s the wrong kind of efficient.

      1. ewmayer

        To paraphrase a book by a famous children’s doctor:

        You can’t unsee it, so you say,
        Try it! Try it! And you may.

  17. pretzelattack

    clearly the 5.2 billion is irrelevant, what matters is the 50-100k that russia may or may not have spent producing ads. in other news, i read that the army has pivoted to training for a major war, from the usual counterinsurgency training that has made us loved all over the world.

  18. Wukchumni

    Harding’s Teapot Dome scandal is well known, and 2 of the areas in the bribery gig were near Bakersfield, in the Elk Hills & Buena Vista oil fields about 50 miles away, on what is now called The Petroleum Highway.

    You can be excused if you think you are in Texas or Saudi Arabia, there’s oil wells everywhere.

  19. Plenue

    One of the response tweets on the Yglesias tweet:

    Daron Weber
    ‏ @weber_daron
    Oct 29
    Replying to @mattyglesias

    who funds it? “Working class” is awfully ambiguous and probably doesn’t actually exist.

    If you just define something out of existence, then you don’t have to worry about it anymore! That’s how things work, right?

  20. none

    A burgeoning set of online companies is building a new industry in matching shoppers with international travelers willing to deliver goods across borders.

    It’s all fun and games until the travellers are turned into unwitting drug mules or worse.

  21. Tom Stone

    In regard to the Case-Shiller Report, the Housing Market turned in June.
    It’s cyclical…
    And we are now on a down leg which will last for a few years.
    Something I have asked all of my buyers to take into account, most have decided to wait a year or more.
    For some it doesn’t matter, it’s going to be their last house and what it’s worth in 5-10 years doesn’t matter.
    My prediction for Sonoma County is 5% lower for the median price by the end of June 2019.

  22. JTMcPhee

    A couple of fun links for anyone who thinks that the Military Industrial State Security Congressional Complex (MISSCC) has its act together, except when it comes to trumpeting and trampling.

    First, an oldie but goodie, the PowerPoint slide created for the US Imperial Military (NATO) by a consultancy in the UK (which even though this was clearly a ‘work for hire’ marked it as “copyrighted”): . “When we understand that slide,” quipped (disgraced) General Stanley McChrystal, “We’ll have won the war.” I guess they are still studying it… I believe the “contract” for this chef d’oeuvre was “worth” over $1 million.

    And then this, from One of Sic Semper Tyrannis’s regular contributors who I believe may have an intelligence background, laying out one set of threads in the Khashoggi and Skripal bloodknot, in the kind of multidimensional “analysis” that the “rough men who protect us (sic)” are constantly up to, for every little bit of the idiocies that other “rough — and slick — men” do, and how that intersects with the idiocies and Grand Strategies and corruption opportunities THEY operate: “Loops of Lies RE SIGINT,” .

    An infinite tail chase, self-licking ice cream cones galore, and good paying jobs for quite a lot of people, great opportunities for side jobs and side switching and personal profit…

  23. Wukchumni

    Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department

    The Interior Department’s Office of Inspector General has referred one of its probes into the conduct of Secretary Ryan Zinke to the Justice Department for further investigation, according to two individuals familiar with the matter.

    Deputy Inspector General Mary L. Kendall, who is serving as acting inspector general, is conducting at least three probes that involve Zinke. These include his involvement in a Montana land deal and the decision not to grant two tribes approval to operate a casino in Connecticut. The individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk publicly, did not specify which inquiry had been referred to the Justice Department.

  24. Earl Erland

    “You had one Job”. Bacteria and Virus, as if . . . . Four or so years ago I was travelling from Chicago to Michigan and wound up in the special gas station selling corn sryuped flavored coffee and a huge selection of foods wrapped in Plastic, some Advertised as “Fresh”. So, I paid for my gas and went to the bathroom. I washed my hands for less than 15 seconds, and was confronted with a stark choice: an electric hand dryer mounted about 4′ from the ground, and a paper hand dryer mounted above it, with an electric eye. B/C I have eaten raw meat purchased from rural Moraccan markets, and because I spent two and a half years eating locally in NE Gabon, I don’t worry as much about food safety as the average US Citizen. So, I punched the start button on the electric hand dryer. The electric eye that dispensed the paper was as quick, and dropped two paper towels within one and a half seconds, the lowest of which was blowing in the wind.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “’I’m still struggling with what the difference between “connect the world” and “bring the world closer together” might be.”

    When you sign up with Facebook, that is ‘connecting the world’. When you post so much material there and give all your likes enough so that a psychological profile can be built up to market stuff to you accurately, that is ‘bringing the world closer together’.

    Saw on the news here how Facebook lost popularity with kids as they reckon that their parents have taken it over.

  26. Wukchumni

    In terms of benevolent dictators, Salazar of Portugal might be considered the only one in the 20th century, although opinions differ.

    He kept his country neutral (Portugal had been on the Allied side in WW1) albeit with an authoritarian bent, for decades.

    1. upstater

      I think the people of Angola or Mozambique during Salazar’s reign may have a different opinion.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        In the same vein, the people of Kenya may have had a different opinion of British democracy.

        1. ambrit

          In terms of benevolent dictators, the old line “Sons of the Confederacy” have a jaundiced view of Lincoln.

  27. cocomaan

    Seems to me that Democrats will take the house…

    … and then do nothing. They have never really been able to rally the party (look at WV Joe Manchin voting for Kavanaugh) and I highly doubt they’ll be able to take a 5 or 10 seat majority and do anything constructive with it.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      What they will do is try holding hearings about Russia Russia Russia . . . in order to prevent the holding of hearings of TrumpAdmin sabotage-from-within against the various law and regulation enforcement agencies.
      If Russia Russia Russia will not be enough to prevent other hearings on other matters, they may well hearken unto Senator Feinstein’s call to have hearings about Kavanaugh’s sexual abusiveness in college.

      Meanwhile, the Catfood Democrats will try conspiring with the Republicans in the deep dark shadows to legislate the destruction of Social Security and Medicare.

  28. doh

    IA-04: “Land O’Lakes Pulls Support for Iowa Congressman Steve King Over Racial Remarks”

    Um, that should be “over RACIST remarks”/

  29. allan

    And so it begins: the utterly useless MSM starts normalizing wackjob consitutional revisionism:

    NBC:
    ANALYSIS: The 14th Amendment may not have been intended to provide citizenship to everyone born in the U.S.

    USAToday:
    The language of the Constitution is less clear than Trump’s opponents would have you believe.

    NYPost:
    President Trump is not proposing to “amend” the Constitution by executive order. He is proposing to faithfully enforce the Constitution as written, not how it has erroneously come to be interpreted in the last half century.

  30. RMO

    RE: The Bezzle story – I don’t care in the least about avoiding customs but I would love a way around the obstacles various manufacturer/distributor arrangements have conspired to prevent me from getting various products here in Canada. The usual cycle is this: 1 – look locally for X, 2 – look online for X, 3 – find X online and attempt to order, 3 – discover that X can’t be purchased from a U.S. retailer as I’m in Canada and a distributor has exclusive rights in Canada, 4 – look for online sources in Canada. After that come a few alternatives, 5a – no one selling that manufacturer’s products online in Canada, 5b – online source for products from that manufacturer does exist but they don’t carry X. Last resort when I haven’t found an online source in Canada I the distributor directly and 90% get ignored.

    Last thing that put me through this was trying to get a replacement mount part for my older bicycle headlight. It’s available directly from the manufacturer… but they will only sell in the U.S. All other options failed too so it looks to be kludge time again.

  31. The Rev Kev

    “Team Clinton says there’s no way Hillary’s running again” [The Hill] • But would she accept a nomination by acclamation?

    Wouldn’t it be funny if she did a Julius Caesar? What I mean is that they would come to her to ask her to be the 2020 Presidential candidate for the democrats but that she would refuse. They then would come to her for a second time but she would again refuse. Then, Like Julius Caesar, she would be waiting for the third approach so that she could graciously accept their offer and then realized to her horror that there was to be no third offer.

  32. Tomonthebeach

    After having read all the comments on paper towels vs air dryers, may I please have my PhD in hand drying now? :-)

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Actually, there’s conflict over that. The Theatre Department is trying to take that minor over, on the grounds that handwaving is really mime.

        I guess we’ll have to appeal to a Dean….

  33. Kurt Sperry

    Glenn Greenwald has in my opinion in his piece highlighted here yesterday, correctly identified the dynamics of how a corrupt and dysfunctional elite-serving status quo in Brasil that is seen to be working more for its own narrow interests than those of its citizens created the conditions for demagogues to gain power in a democracy. And I don’t think any democracy is immune from those dynamics, however much we might want to believe our own individual countries are exceptional and too “enlightened” to fall victim to those dynamics. If you want to avoid these dynamics taking shape in our own countries the only defense is to implement policies that actively reverse income and wealth inequalities, that increase rather than cut protections for the weakest and most vulnarable and prevent them from falling into conditions of desperation and poverty, and that increase feelings of security and trust in the system for the working classes and those subject to daily precarity. Unfortunately, the trend in our democracies has been to implement austerity programs in the name of “competitiveness” and “markets”, cutting social welfare, privitizing public institutions and turning them into profit centers for the wealthy, for disempowering unions and workers, for using globalization and immigration to leverage cross-border labor and regulatory arbitrage with countries without fair wages, without environmental controls, without robust labor or political rights, where overt corruption and authoritarianism are the norms. This globalist neoliberal consensus that has been embraced by and taken over our liberal centrist governments creates and nurtures the exact conditions that the demogogues and far-right nationalists, the xenophobes and racists require and on. More liberal centrism won’t fix this; indeed it has fed it and continues to do so.

    Blaming voters or calling them names rather than critically reassessing the policies creating the conditions that demogogues require will only further and accelerate the descent. And, sadly, the market fundamentalists, the globalists, and the economically neoliberal austerians and privatizers who have captured the political machinery of our liberal democracies are implacably and ideologically opposed to the very measures that would prevent demagoguery and ugly far-right nationalism from taking root.

  34. Kurt Sperry

    The past couple of days, anything I try to post longer than -length superficialities is sent directly to the trash.

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