Friday Open Forum

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Colorado River flow shrinks from climate crisis, risking ‘severe water shortages’

    The flow of the Colorado River is dwindling due to the impacts of global heating, risking “severe water shortages” for the millions of people who rely upon one of America’s most storied waterways, researchers have found.

    Increasing periods of drought and rising temperatures have been shrinking the flow of the Colorado in recent years and scientists have now developed a model to better understand how the climate crisis is fundamentally changing the 1,450-mile waterway.

    The loss of snow in the Colorado River basin due to human-induced global heating has resulted in the river absorbing more of sun’s energy, thereby increasing the amount of water lost in evaporation, the US Geological Survey scientists found.
    …………………..
    The magnitude of the Colorado’s decline as outlined in the Science paper is “eye popping”, according to Brad Udall, a senior scientist at Colorado State University and an expert on water supplies in the west who was not involved in the research.

    “This has important implications for water users and managers alike,” Udall said. “More broadly, these results tell us that we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as soon as we possible can.

    “We’ve wasted nearly 30 years bickering over the science. The science is crystal clear – we must reduce greenhouse gas emissions immediately.”

    3
  2. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In February 2017, I published a blog post about my experiences with sexual harassment and gender discrimination at Uber, where I had recently left my role as a software engineer. In it, I described a year of employment that began with a sexual proposition from my manager and only grew more demeaning and demoralizing from there. The post quickly went viral, tapping into a conversation about systemic discrimination throughout Silicon Valley.

    What I wrote changed the world, some said: for the first time, a woman had spoken up about mistreatment, the world listened to her, and she walked away unscathed. And, in those early days, it really did seem that I had turned the tables, and I started to wonder if most of my fears had been unfounded. It seemed too good to be true. And it was. I was soon jolted out of my daydream, and I awakened into a nightmare.

    It started with strange stories from my family, friends and acquaintances. Reporters had been contacting them from day one and asking for information about me, but now they were also being contacted by people who didn’t seem to be reporters at all, who asked questions about my personal life, questions about my past.
    ……………………………
    That was the first time I knew I was definitely being followed, and it wasn’t the last.

    I didn’t know who or what I was up against. I suspected it was Uber, though at the time I had no concrete evidence to back that up. Several security researchers offered to look into it, and came back with the names of various private investigation firms that Uber had hired in the past. Its most recent PI firm, I was told, was Ergo, an opposition research company run by former CIA operatives. This terrified me even more.

    I feared that Uber would send a private investigator to break into my home, either while I was there or while I was out. Another former employee, Morgan Richardson, described an intimidating incident with an investigator who entered her apartment without her permission (Uber denied that the man came inside). If they did it to her, what would stop them from doing it to me? What if, I wondered, someone had already come to my home and I just didn’t know?

    A deep, aching terror fell over me as I prepared for the worst parts of my life to become public. Meanwhile, I was growing increasingly isolated—I was working from home, and there were very few people I could talk to about the things that were happening; more than once, I confided in a friend, only to have our conversation parroted back to me by a reporter a few days later.

    I felt sick to my stomach every day and had trouble sleeping. I’d lie awake in the middle of the night, racking my brain for memories of every mean thing I’d ever said, every mistake I’d ever made, every wrong thing I’d ever done, every lie I’d ever told, every person I’d ever hurt. I was haunted by every fight, every angry text message, every mean word, every breakup. I went over and over in my head everything I’d said that could be misinterpreted, that could put me in a bad light and undermine the authority of my claims.

    At times, the anxiety, fear and horror of it got so bad that I would curl up into a ball on the floor and cry until I felt numb. Sometimes I would stand in the shower, turn on the water, cover my mouth with my hands and scream until my voice was hoarse. Part of what felt so scary was the randomness of it all: I never knew what to expect. One morbid thought gave me comfort, however, and it’s what I told myself every time I noticed someone following me, or whenever I was warned about possible threats against my life: if anything happened to me, if I was harmed or killed, everyone would know exactly who was responsible.

    1
  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Jessica Williams on Stop and Frisk An oldie but a goodie and it only costs you 2:49 of life to watch it.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    There was no one to arrest him for indecent exposure.

    Police chief walks home in underwear after losing his job

    Darn those cold, hard hearted Yankees.

    1
  5. Teve says:

    20 years ago I had a physics professor who had a very grim outlook on life, and occasionally I would stop by his office just to chat for a little while.

    He was of the opinion that if you look back at thousands of years of human history, this recent period of a few decades where we have technology and communications and global supply chains and don’t mind the fact that a Jewish guy is living down the street and a Kenyan is living in the house behind you, and we aren’t burning nearby villages or murdering people of different ethnicities, is a bizarre, brief relief from our natural state of ignorance and savagery, hunger and violence and disease, and it was just a matter of time before the normal horrorshow reemerged to swallow us up.

    Wonder what he thinks of Putin and Trump and the MAGAts etc. I bet he’s like, “Yep. Here it goes.”

    6
  6. Scott says:

    Companies are behaving like it’s a recession

    Business Investment has been down for 4 Quarters. Farm bankrupcies are at highest level in 8 years. Unemployment is down but consumer debt is up.

    Yet the stock market is pretty buoyant. And yet money is pouring into the bond market.

    I just don’t get it. It doesn’t make sense to me. Are we on a sugar high where the tax cuts are fueling the stock market and little else?

    Anybody have any thoughts?

    4
  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    “We didn’t feel we were getting the value for our money,” Edwards said. “But the Walk of Shame made up for it.”

    Note: In case somebody can’t tell, I added that last part.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott:

    Are we on a sugar high where the tax cuts are fueling the stock market and little else?

    If you have a winter home, a summer home, a Manhattan penthouse suite, a yacht, a private jet, a Lexus and Mercedes, a Porsche, a classic ’44 White Shadow, a wife, 3 mistresses, 4 kids in college, half a kilo of coke and still tons more disposable income, where else are you gonna put your excess money?

    5
  9. Teve says:

    @Scott: deficit-fueled tax cuts means you get the national Master Card, take a trillion-dollar cash advance on it, hand the cash to Solomon, Gates, Blankfein, Zuckerburp, Bezos, etc, and have the bill sent to your kids.

    3
  10. Teve says:

    @Scott: the article you provided gives two reasons.

    What’s happening: Despite increased profits from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, CEOs and company leaders have told Axios the uncertainty of the U.S.-China trade war and fears of an imminent recession discouraged big-ticket spending during 2019.

    Rather than use their tax savings for investment or expansion, they largely socked it away.
    Data from accounting firm PwC shows company cash holdings rose to $2.4 trillion, the highest amount in decades, a company spokesperson said.
    The intrigue: It’s not just net debt: Companies have added very little gross debt, dating back to the second quarter of 2017, BofA’s data show, the continuation of a “remarkable development.”

    “As we have argued, it is indeed different this time.”
    Between the lines: Investment grade companies that would be in the best position to issue very cheap debt to finance investment projects or mergers are pulling back in part because they spent so much between 2014-2017 pursuing large-scale M&A.

    2
  11. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Scott:

    Are we on a sugar high where the tax cuts are fueling the stock market and little else?

    I am not an economist, but I see a couple things going on.
    Yes, one is the tax cuts, but just as importantly the Fed is quietly pumping money into the economy to the tune of $1/2T…above and beyond the $1T Tax Cut to the wealthy and corporations.
    https://bitcoinmagazine.com/articles/the-fed-has-pumped-500-billion-into-the-repo-market-where-does-it-end
    The other thing is consumer spending…but as you mentioned it’s coming from credit, again. Credit card debt is up 14%, breaking the previous record of $1T set in ’08.
    https://www.thebalance.com/consumer-debt-statistics-causes-and-impact-3305704
    The rosy economy isn’t really all that rosy. But Trump says it’s the best ever, and our 4th Estate Stenographer Pool just repeats that. So it must be true.

    2
  12. Mu Yixiao says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    The flow of the Colorado River is dwindling due to the impacts of global heating

    Interesting change of language there. That’s the second time I’ve seen that this week. Apparently “warming” doesn’t sound dire enough.

    1
  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    An interesting read:

    On 13 November 1997, a new casino opened its doors just south of North Carolina’s Great Smoky Mountains in the US. Despite the dismal weather, a long line had formed at the entrance, and as people continued to arrive by the hundreds, the casino boss began advising folks to stay at home.

    The widespread interest was hardly surprising. After all, it wasn’t just some shifty, mafia-run gambling den opening its doors that day. Harrah’s Cherokee Resort was and still is a massive luxury casino owned and operated by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and its opening marked the end of a 10-year-long political tug-of-war. One tribal leader had even predicted that “gambling would be the Cherokees’ damnation”, and North Carolina’s governor had tried to block the project at every turn.

    Soon after the opening, it became apparent that the casino would bring the tribe not damnation but relief. The profits – amounting to $150m in 2004 and growing to nearly $400m in 2010 –
    enabled the tribe to build a new school, hospital, and fire station. However, the lion’s share of the takings went directly into the pockets of the 8,000 men, women, and children of the Eastern Band Cherokee tribe. From $500 a year at the outset, members’ per capita earnings from the casino quickly mounted to $6,000 in 2001, making up a quarter to a third of the average family income.

    As coincidence would have it, a Duke University professor by the name of Jane Costello had been researching the mental health of youngsters south of the Great Smoky Mountains since 1993. Every year, the 1,420 kids enrolled in her study took a psychiatric test. The cumulative results had already shown that those growing up in poverty were much more prone to behavioural problems than other children. This wasn’t exactly news, though. Correlations between poverty and mental illness had been drawn before by another academic, Edward Jarvis, in his famous paper Report on Insanity in Massachusetts, published in 1855.

    But the question still remained: which was the cause, and which the effect?

    At the time Costello was doing her research, it was becoming increasingly popular to attribute mental problems to individual genetic factors. If nature was the root cause, then handing over a sack of money every year would be treating the symptoms, but ignoring the disease. If, on the other hand, people’s psychiatric problems were not the cause but the consequence of poverty, then that $6,000 might genuinely work wonders. The arrival of the casino, Costello realised, presented a unique opportunity to shed new light on this ongoing question since a quarter of the children in her study belonged to the Cherokee tribe, more than half of them living below the poverty line.

    Soon after the casino opened, Costello was already noting huge improvements for her subjects. Behavioural problems among children who had been lifted out of poverty went down 40%, putting them in the same range as their peers who had never known hardship. Juvenile crime rates among the Cherokee also declined, along with drug and alcohol use, while their school scores improved markedly. At school, the Cherokee kids were now on a par with the study’s non-tribal participants.

    On seeing the data, Costello’s first reaction was disbelief. “The expectation is that social interventions have relatively small effects,” she later said. “This one had quite large effects.”

    Costello calculated that the extra $4,000 per annum resulted in an additional year of educational attainment by age 21 and reduced the chance of a criminal record at age 16 by 22%.

    Ten years after the casino’s arrival, Costello’s findings showed that the younger the age at which children escaped poverty, the better their mental health when they were teenagers. Among her youngest age cohort, Costello observed a “dramatic decrease” in criminal conduct. In fact, the Cherokee children in her study were now better behaved than the control group.

    But the most significant improvement was in how the money helped parents, well, to parent. Before the casino opened its doors, parents worked hard through the summer but were often jobless and stressed in the winter. The new income enabled Cherokee families to put money aside and to pay bills in advance. Parents who were lifted out of poverty now reported having more time for their children.

    They weren’t working any less though, Costello discovered. Mothers and fathers alike were putting in just as many hours as before the casino opened. More than anything, said tribe member Vickie L Bradley, the money helped ease the pressure on families, so the energy they’d spent worrying about money was now freed up for their children. And as Bradley put it, that “helps parents be better parents”.

    What, then, is the cause of mental health problems among poorer people? Nature or culture? Costello’s conclusion was both: the stress of poverty puts people genetically predisposed to develop an illness or disorder at an elevated risk. But there’s a more important takeaway from this study.

    Genes can’t be undone. Poverty can.

    Wow, a study that shows being poor is hard, soul crushing, unceasing work. All snark aside, good on her for putting together the data showing what every poor person already knows deep in their hearts to be true. A lot more at the link, including the whys and wherefors.

    “Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult,” said the British essayist Samuel Johnson in 1782. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he understood that poverty is not a lack of character.

    It’s a lack of cash.

    8
  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Mu Yixiao: On a search for a verbal 2×4 with which to get people’s attention.

  15. Mike in Arlington says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I just started listening to the Catch and Kill podcast by Ronan Farrow. It’s a heart-wrenching must listen. The first episode is about the Private Investigator who Weinstein hired to follow and investigate Ronan.

    The excerpt you posted reminded me of that first episode.

    2
  16. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Scott:

    A stab at a few reasons:

    Baby boomers are are huge wealth bubble moving through the economy and their investments are moving from a focus on asset growth to safer investments, thus the growth in bonds. Plus they are past their prime consuming years. They have their houses and likely looking to downsize. Need fewer cars, clothing etc.

    Income inequality. As more wealth and income accrues to fewer and fewer, the robust middle class that fueled the consumer economy doesn’t have the money to continue doing it, thus business have fewer customers and those customers they have are spending less.

    Millennials are saddled with large amount of student debt, lower and slower wage/wealth growth and frankly they are saving at a much greater rate than earlier generations at the same age. The saving rate is in part driven by the logical fear that Social Security won’t be there for them and that they may need to fall back on savings when the marketplace decides that at 50 they are too old.

    Slow population growth. The rate of child birth in the US has dropped below replacement rate, meaning that if it wasn’t for immigration we would see a reduction in the US population. For businesses that is fewer consumers. Also, what investments business does make is likely not in the US, but in Asia and Africa.

    A shift in consumer attitude from collecting “things” to collecting “experiences.” This goes for both boomers and millennials. The dictum; He who dies with the most toys, wins, is déclassé.

    The growth in consumer debt is likely a result of people needing credit to make it through the month.

    4
  17. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Shafir responds with a blank look. “Oh! You mean just hand out more money? Sure, that would be great,” he laughs and mentions the evident limitations of introducing such a policy in the United States.

    Granted, it would take a big programme to eradicate poverty in the US. According to economist Matt Bruenig’s calculations, it would cost $175bn. But poverty is even more expensive. One study estimated the cost of child poverty at as much as $500bn a year. Kids who grow up poor end up with two years’ less education, work 450 fewer hours per year, and run three times the risk of bad health than those raised in families that are well off.

    Investments in education won’t really help these kids, the researchers say. They have to get above the poverty line first. A 2013 meta-analysis of 201 studies on the effectiveness of financial education came to a similar conclusion: such education makes almost no difference at all. This is not to say no one learns anything – poor people can come out wiser, for sure. But it’s not enough. “It’s like teaching a person to swim and then throwing them in a stormy sea,” laments Shafir.

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    “Poverty is a great enemy to human happiness; it certainly destroys liberty, and it makes some virtues impracticable, and others extremely difficult,” said the British essayist Samuel Johnson in 1782. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he understood that poverty is not a lack of character.

    It’s a lack of cash.

    $175 billion? That’s all it would take??? That’s less than 5% of the Federal budget.

    But we won’t do it as long as the GOP has power.

    3
  18. Bill says:
  19. Scott says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Another way of saying:

    Lack of money is the root of all evil – George Bernard Shaw

    1
  20. Teve says:

    @NickUsen

    news story this morning about a woman who had to pick between her health insurance or taking her kid out of college. gave up the insurance & then needed an emergency appendectomy. the hospital charged her $50,000, then took her to court. she says she wish she had just died.

    That good ol’ American choice!

    (I’ll be shortly behind her in terms of filing bankruptcy for medical bills. I’m just trying to wait a few more months so hopefully my car can fall below $4000 value and I’ll get to keep it, (and nothing else) because I live 10 miles from work. U S A! U S A! )

    2
  21. Sleeping Dog says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    Anecdotally something similar happened to the Prairie Island Sioux and the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux in Minnesota after they opened their casinos. First tribal members living on the Res received stipends and jobs, then life began improving. Rates of drug and alcohol addiction dropped, crime dropped and generally the quality of life improved.

    As the wealth of the tribes grew they began spending their largess to improve the lives of indigenous people throughout the Twin Cities. Today, along with money from an Ojibwa owned casino they have one of the most successful social service agencies in the Twin Cities.

    6
  22. Teve says:

    @Sleeping Dog: You’ll never get Republicans to go along with that, because it goes against the cherished notion that poor people are poor because they deserve it.

    3
  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    A shift in consumer attitude from collecting “things” to collecting “experiences.” This goes for both boomers and millennials. The dictum; He who dies with the most toys, wins, is déclassé.

    Interesting. I advanced this theory years ago on a different blog. It seemed to me that status was increasingly about social media presence. Kids cared more about followers and upvotes than they did about the latest shoe or car. Part can be explained by millennials perhaps having fewer resources, but I don’t think that’s really the heart of it. I think they found a way to get ego-boosts and status for far less than I spend on a car that delivers same.

    Eventually, if this doesn’t change, we’re going to have some serious problems running an economy. If you can get the same rush from getting ten new Twitter followers as you might from buying a new car, that’s trouble.

    3
  24. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    What kind of car do you drive for your ego boost?

  25. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: part of that was said to be the result of Helicopter parenting etc. If you couldn’t go places on your own, couldn’t walk around the neighborhood or town etc you could at least get on social media in your bedroom on your phone.

    I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I heard it a lot.

    1
  26. Kit says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    Baby boomers are are huge wealth bubble moving through the economy

    I suspect that this bubble will be the last of it’s kind, and that wealth will largely become permanently parked with retirees. Used to be that kids would inherit at a time when it could really change their lives. Nowadays, they are likely to receive it when they are themselves retired. American politics will increasingly be decided by a proper plutocracy and it’s handmaiden, a comfortable gerontocracy: hide-bound, frightened, ignorant, and entitled.

    1
  27. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    He who dies with the most toys, wins, is déclassé.

    Let me tell you from long-term, and ongoing, personal experience…all these friggin’ toys require a fuq-lot of maintenance, registration, and insurance.

  28. CSK says:

    Kit:

    It’s interesting now to read about how hidebound and frightened Boomers are, in that they were the generation that gave us drugs, hippies, yippies, the antiwar movement, second-wave feminism, Stonewall, Black Power, power to the people, doing your own thing…

    4
  29. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Kurtz:
    I just replaced my 2014 Mercedes E-350 Cabriolet, black and tan, with a 2020 E-450 Cabriolet, dark blue and light gray.

    In my defense I had to go more than two decades without being able to drive, so, since then I’ve been making up for it. Also, I’m in LA and lack the moral strength to endure sneers from valets.

    And – this is super important – whenever I open my door a Mercedes star shines on the ground so I know where to step. I wouldn’t want to live in a world where my car didn’t shine a spotlight at the ground, announcing to all within range that this, my friends, this man is a douche.

    10
  30. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    We haven’t bought a house since North Carolina, a decade ago. After that we rented. And now we’ve bought another house and sweet Jesus, it’s like trying to keep a Jenga tower from falling over.

    1
  31. de stijl says:

    New season of Better Call Saul starts Sunday!

    I am super psyched.

    I was watching the Breaking Bad marathon on AMC last weekend and realized the finale was six years ago.

    That is factually true, but not perceptually true.

    There is no way that was six years ago! That was two, three years ago max. In my head the BB finale was roughly three years ago. I remember Jesse driving away frantic and euphoric and petrified.

    Was that really six whole years ago? Reality says yes, and that my brain is a big fat liar.

    Was I in a coma for three years and no one thought to tell me?

    Now I have to look up when Mad Men finished up and freak out all over again.

    2015. Almost 5 years ago. That is crazy. Perceptually, that makes no sense. That was like 2 years ago in my head. That was a good finale. Elizabeth Moss’s Peggy had the best story arc. Don Draper, fake to even himself, had a fitting wrap up.

    When I was a pup and had been given an essay assignment, and I had nothing to actually say, I would produce a bullshit elasticity of time bullshit piece of total bs.

    Now I am living it.

    (Btw, I got a lot of A’s off The Elacticity Of Time bullshit. Plus, you can pad like nuts.

    College kids, do your homework! Don’t fake it like we all did.

    1
  32. Kit says:

    @CSK:

    It’s interesting now to read about how hidebound and frightened Boomers are, in that they…

    My point was not that Boomers were always hide bound but rather that retirees, as a class, will be. And I see that age group increasingly sucking up a large share of the country’s wealth with time and the passing generations.

  33. DrDaveT says:

    @Teve:

    it goes against the cherished notion that poor people are poor because they deserve it

    To be fair, that’s just the corollary. The main axiom is “rich people are rich because they deserve it”.

    Speaking of which… does anyone have a citation to a reference that can tell me what fraction of American wealth was earned? My definition of “earned” goes something like this:
    1. Payment for labor/goods/services you personally produced*
    2. Profits of entrepreneurial ventures you started from scratch
    3. Proceeds of investing earnings from categories 1 and 2

    Anything you inherited, and any profits or investment proceeds from that, don’t count. That includes businesses you inherited, family farms, etc. Profits from businesses you acquired only count if you bought them with money from categories 1-3.

    *By this definition, making money as a Wall Street parasite counts as earned. Then again, so does money earned by pimping, so I guess it’s reasonable.

    2
  34. CSK says:

    @Kit:
    Well, the Boomers were pretty big as generations go: anyone born between 1946 and 1964. That’s a greater spread than Gens Z and Z and Millennials are usually accorded. Plus, I think the birthrate was higher for Boomers.

    2
  35. CSK says:

    @CSK:
    I meant Gens X and Z.

  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Michael, I believe it is beyond the status thing, though that is a part of it. I’ve asked several 20-somethings where they spend their disposable income and almost to a person they mentioned experiences such as concerts, travel, “adventure” activities. Along the way they post on social media for atta-boys/girls

    @Kit:

    A huge, if concentrated amount of wealth will be passed by the boomers to their kids or grand kids. For the kids, it will likely be timed well to pay for the grand kids education or fund their own retirement as they will likely be unprepared, despite attempts to save. After that, you’re likely right.

    1
  37. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Teve:
    When I was 8-10 I was living in France, riding my bike all over Fouras, taking a city bus to Rochefort for school (École Emile Zola, Go, Fighting Social Critics!), slogging way out on the receding tide to dig oysters, and trying my first cigarette in the drained moat of a Vauban fort. (Pro tip: Gauloises might not be the best choice for starter cigarette – I never developed the habit. Possibly a consequence of hacking up a lung).

    Age 10-12 I was in the Florida panhandle, using a snorkel, all by myself to swim around the sewage/water of a bayou and teasing water moccasins.

    When I was 13 or so, living in Newport News, my friend, Kenneth Kisser, and I used to climb around an absolute safety nightmare, an abandoned cement processing plant, and sneak though the woods to a Nike missile site.

    I was free!

    Recently I found a bit of video of fat baby me in a diaper walking around with first a pair of pliers, and then a screwdriver in my mouth as my mother rolled camera. Next to Bellflower Boulevard in – surprise! – Bellflower, California.

    Looking back I’m not sure my parents were really very good at their jobs. Though I turned out super normal. My kids I swaddled in bubble wrap and chained to computer monitors.

    2
  38. Michael Reynolds says:

    @de stijl:
    I love Saul. They take their time framing these interesting, gorgeous shots. You seldom see a cliché visual.

    2
  39. An Interested Party says:

    Oh look, it really is 1972 again…sorta…

  40. CSK says:

    @An Interested Party:
    The parallel are astounding.

    1
  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott: “…just on a sugar high?” Yes, that is my take on the economy.

    On other items from yesterday:

    While I agree that he’s stalling, I’m not sure that looking at the tax returns of a person whose business venture clears, from what I understand, $10 billion in profit to him alone (excluding anything paid in bonuses and dividends to shareholders) will show us anything beyond how forked up our tax structures are (and maybe something about values, but not sure on that).

    I’ve no dog in the fight about the virtues of a Bernie/Bloomberg ticket, but I agree that it might be wise tactically. It’s also possible that tactics such as this are part of a bygone era.

  42. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Teve: And the circus parade of elephants marches on. Now Morgan Stanley wants to acquire eTrade as a defensive measure against the merger-in-progress of Charles Schwab and TDAmeritrade. No value added that I can see from either, yet there apparently is no problem getting the money to make them happen. Wonder where the funds came from?

  43. Gustopher says:

    @Mu Yixiao: World-Wide Toasting would get a lot more attention in the US if the temperature increases were reported in Fahrenheit.

    Just a few articles that say “US shocked to learn that Global Warming is twice as bad as expected.”

  44. Gustopher says:

    @Just nutha ignint cracker:

    I’ve no dog in the fight about the virtues of a Bernie/Bloomberg ticket, but I agree that it might be wise tactically.

    I think a Warren/Bloomberg or a Bloomberg/Warren ticket would have a lot more comic effect. Bernie has that angry old man thing going on, but he’s easier to ignore.

    I would also accept a Buttigieg/Klobuchar (or K/B) ticket.

    1
  45. Teve says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Saul is such a tragedy. I just finished the last Netflix season. What a sad series of events. I just hope Kim makes it out. But she’s got a self-destructive streak.

    1
  46. Teve says:

    Holy Shit. You know Richard Grenell, the incoming DNI? In the new book American Cipher, Roger Stone is mentioned as saying Grenell is too shady to work with.

    Wikipedia:Kakistocracy.

    2
  47. Bill says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I just replaced my 2014 Mercedes E-350 Cabriolet, black and tan, with a 2020 E-450 Cabriolet, dark blue and light gray.

    This author drives a 2005 Toyota Matrix. You won’t believe how many miles are on it

    Would you believe less than 52,000? My auto mechanic says the brakes, transmission, and tires are all in good shape.

    To be fair, my wife drives a 2010 Mercedes C300 but that car is owned by her sister who now works as a nurse in NYC. Parking cars in Manhattan is expensive, and Nanette had little use for a car anymore after moving there from Sacramento. So she gave the car to her sister.

    Two cars, no car payments, and only one vehicle insured by us. On the other hand our out of pocket medical bills will total over $900 this month. One hand gives and the other takes.

    1
  48. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: Yeah, but you’re clearly not looking at the bigger picture. We really can’t ease the problem because easing the problem will reduce everyone else’s reserves. There’s only so much to go around, and as Bunker Hunt observed in the 80s while trying to corner the silver market, a billion dollars isn’t as much as it used to be. Even Jesus admitted that the poor “would always be with [us].” If the creator of the universe can’t solve poverty, how can you expect mere mortals like us to?

    And even though you’re talking about changes that wouldn’t really affect my lifestyle or the future of my family at all, it’s my money dammit! We can’t tolerate the government confiscating what is ours–impinging on our liberty that way. It’s just wrong!

    Did I cover everything?

    1
  49. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Gustopher:

    It’s not double… it’s only 9/5 😀

  50. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve: If she hadn’t been so foolish as to put the needs of her kid ahead of her own, she wouldn’t be in that mess. Her kid’s 18; he should be responsible for his own education.

    This whole people-expecting-their-kids-to-have-a-better-life thing is gonna destroy the nation eventually. Why can’t people just learn to stay in their place? Don’t they realize that this whole notion of a middle class was a once-in-history anomaly that’s never going to happen again? Why can’t these people just grow up?

    3
  51. Tyrell says:

    @Michael Reynolds: You’re a Tar Heel?

  52. Mister Bluster says:

    Bloomberg offers to release women from three confidentiality agreements
    “Bloomberg LP has identified 3 NDAs signed over the past 30+ years with women to address complaints about comments they said I had made.”
    “If any of them want to be released from their NDAs, they should contact the company and they’ll be given a release,”

  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Tyrell:
    Just a few years in Chapel Hill, where I owned homes in Meadowmont and Southern Village, (not at the same time) places where the streets are ready for a remake of Stepford Wives.

    1
  54. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Bill:
    The cars I’ve owned have been a 67′ VW bug (ran it into a cement truck), a 1970 Ford Fairlane (reckless driving arrest in VA), a 68ish VW Van (threw a rod on the autobahn, abandoned), and a green Karman Ghia convertible, which I drove cross-country with a paper bag of stolen money in the trunk.

    Cars my wife had to drive me around in as a consequence of me having a bag of stolen money: a hand-me-down 1976 (?) Chrysler New Yorker, a 1967 Dodge Dart, (threw a rod in Vermont, abandoned) a 1972 Plymouth Valiant, another rusted out old Dart, and Chevy Pick-up, old, but year uncertain (abandoned in a Winn-Dixie parking lot in Florida). Then we started making a bit more money. A new Taurus, our first new car ever, a Mercedes M Class, a Lexus SUV, and with more money, an Audi A8.

    And then, all charges dropped, the first car I could actually drive myself in two decades: A new, black, 2002 Mercedes S-500, the Official Car of Evil. My God I loved that car. I literally cried when I had to give it up when we moved to Italy. A Toyota RAV. An Audi A6. My beloved E-350. And now the 450 which is fast as fuck but still seems a more sedate driving experience than the 350.

  55. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Dude, you can lie to yourself, but you definitively are not “super normal”.

  56. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I enjoyed the fuck out of Chapel Hill when I visited.

    Plus, home of Superchunk and Archers Of Loaf. Two of the best bands evar11!1

  57. DrDaveT says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    a 1967 Dodge Dart, (threw a rod in Vermont, abandoned)

    Five’ll get you ten it’s still running somewhere. Every Dodge Dart ever made is still running, somewhere. Even the ones that now look like they were originally made of rust.

    2
  58. de stijl says:

    My friend, Bug-eyed Scott aka Bug borrowed my less than pristine 1976 Olds Omega.

    He got his bad self laid in the backseat, which is super cool because Bug was not a conventionally attractive fella. Hence, the name. They sorta hooked up long term and became gf/bf. Cool!

    Hope he wore a condom. Ah, why should I care? I basically put groceries back there. No hepatitis, no foul.

    When Michael Shannon became a respected actor, I was you look exactly like Bug-eyed Scott, but way, way more handsome, if that makes any sense.

  59. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I watched El Camino for the first time a few days ago.

    It felt nice to catch up with Badger and Skinny Pete. I miss those idiots.

    As a whole it felt too safe, contained.

    Jesse Plemons as Todd was phenomenal! So super creepy. The normalist guy ever, but with the switch turned to amiable sociopath.

    The whole set-up of getting Jesse out of the cage and to Todd’s apartment was intense. Burying the cleaning lady.

    And Jesse finally made it to Alaska! Robert Forster in his last role. He was so great in Jackie Brown.

  60. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Michael Reynolds: All of my cars were trucks. Alright, except for the Buick Century (40 mpg), Mercury Topaz, and the Dodge vans. Gave the Buick to my NOLA son (only had 200K+ on it), broke my heart when the Mercury blew the transmission (I paid $2K for it, the tranny was $3K) and the van… Well, I rolled it after hitting a patch of black ice and had to kick out the windshield to exit the vehicle.

    I still miss that Topaz.

    1
  61. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Teve:

    Roger Stone is mentioned as saying Grenell is too shady to work with.

    Well yes, sure. Then again, who’d be more likely to know that? (Does the fact that he’s aware of it diminish his role in a kakistocracy–the awareness=competence factor?)

  62. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    I think they found a way to get ego-boosts and status for far less than I spend on a car that delivers same.

    I’m not on social media, yet I drive a Porsche 911 and a Porsche Cayenne. I think the millennials are a whole lot smarter than I ever was.

    1
  63. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    In my defense I had to go more than two decades without being able to drive, so, since then I’ve been making up for it. Also, I’m in LA and lack the moral strength to endure sneers from valets.

    I’ve been working in Florida, Atlanta, and Texas last 10 years. Finallt got a gig locally, two years ago, and the first thing I did was buy the two Porches. Wasn’t so much the sneers I’d have to endure from valets as much as the sneers from the security guards at Warner Brothers, Sony, or Disney.

    1
  64. Michael Reynolds says:

    @EddieInCA:
    We had a private screening at Disney* and I’m not going to lie, the earlier car and this one, were carefully-calibrated to signal: successful, but not Ferrari or Bentley successful. It doesn’t do to get above one’s station, but at the same time, you can’t be showing up in a Honda Fit.

    I’m slowly learning the status rules and secret handshakes. For example, yes, I can wear jeans and a black t-shirt to a meeting (’cause I’m a writer, and conveniently that’s what I wear anyway,) but at my age it’s like wearing the uniform of a first lieutenant, I look like I’ve been passed over for promotion. So I add a jacket.

    *We aren’t supposed to talk about the movie until the Mouse tells us exactly what to say and how to say it, but squee!

  65. Jax says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: My Mercury Topaz was the bomb. She ran me coast to coast, multiple times, then finally shit the bed in downtown Phoenix. Of ALLLLLL the places to break down at 11 pm…..I had to call a taxi to come pick me up, no tow truck driver would come get it til daylight in that part of town!

  66. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    The first thing I thought of when you told me what you drove was that LED system for lighting the ground. It’s damn cool.

    No need to defend yourself. A Benz is the singularity of appeal.

    I’m more of a Sedan guy, but this makes AGW denialism tempting.

    1
  67. Michael Reynolds says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Quick story. As you obviously know, late 60’s, early 70’s Darts/Valiants started rusting as they went down the assembly line. Living in Ocean City, MD at the time, the state required inspection. One of the things they don’t like is exhaust going straight up through the rusted wheel wells into the trunk and thence into the car. So, I was a major consumer of Bondo.

    One night I get back late from waiting tables and checked on some Bondo I’d laid in earlier. It was still wet, it was too cold out. So I ran a length of dryer hose from the heater vent through the empty speaker hole and into the trunk, sat in the shotgun seat and ran the engine. Ten minutes later every cop in Ocean City comes roaring in, lights flashing. A neighbor had called in an apparent suicide.

    It would have been funny except that if they’d asked me for ID I might have been screwed.

    1
  68. Kurtz says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    For example, yes, I can wear jeans and a black t-shirt to a meeting

    This is getting fucking eerie. My standard outfit is a Banana Republic Soft Wash Black tee and jeans.

    From one recovering ne’er do well to a fully reformed one, you give me hope, my friend.

    1
  69. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    No one, ever, has said I had the story of my freaking life in Mesa. Or in Tempe.

    Random ASU idiots are all over Tempe.

    The best stories arise from my vehicle finally died downtown Phx and no cab would pick me up.

    That is a bad-ass story. No one can take that from you.

    I once walked 9 miles home because I did not want to have a mildly tense converstion. In boat shoes. My feet were literally bleeding from the chafing.

    Your story is way bad assier. Dead car downtown. That’s a good hook. Dangerous dudes eyeballing you. Embrace the stupid randomness.

    1
  70. Jax says:

    @de stijl: Oh, I’d have been all right if I’d been in Mesa or Tempe, those were my stomping grounds. Van Buren and the “west side”, though….

    I got sucked down the Youtube rabbit hole tonight and found a song that reminded me of you! Hillbilly Moon Explosion, how effing awesome is that band name?!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSR9CLcVBMM

    1
  71. An Interested Party says:

    I would also accept a Buttigieg/Klobuchar (or K/B) ticket.

    Talk about a comic effect! They’d be like an old bickering couple all the time…

    1
  72. de stijl says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    My 1976 Olds Omega aka Meg disintegrated in 1983.

    The trim strip fell off. Just fell off, no reason, glue just stopped working.

    The rear bumper just fell off. No reason. Shoddy workmanship. In traffic. Thankfully she stopped short and didn’t mess up her car. I apologized and stuffed it into my trunk kinda. Thing flapped up and down all the way home because I couldn’t close it properly, bumper was too long, and I didn’t have a bunjie cord.

    Meg was not a well finished car. Typical of vehicles from that era. Designed to die in 5 or 6 years so as to make you buy a new one. Savvy on their part.

    I carried around buckets to refill the radiator because I was too poor to replace it. The interior stank of sickly sweet coolant fluid. Smells like untreated diabetes.

    Bug actually got himself laid in that wretched vehicle somehow. This car actively repelled women, and Bug was not a handsome dude. And it worked – they became a couple.

    Meg, bless her, was very ugly, smelled like burnt coolant, and bits and pieces would randomly fall off her just because.

    She is the car I recall best of every ride I’ve ever owned. Some very fond memories. Some very bad. Substantial life issues were settled within or nearby to Meg.

    She is now a small cube buried in a landfill.

    1
  73. de stijl says:

    Bug was quite charismatic.

    A decent and a genuinely good person.

    I am glad we were friends.

  74. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jax: Mine went south on me in the hood in N STL (showed up one morning and there was a body in the middle of the street) where I was hanging drywall in a new retirement complex. I have no recollection of how I got to my house outside of Bourbon MO, no doubt it involved a friend.

    @de stijl: I once had a truck with a persistent brake fluid leak. I would drive it till the peddle went to the floor board, then refill the master cylinder. I went on like that for months before I could afford to fix it.

    1
  75. Matt says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I had a toyota Corolla that had a leak in the hydraulic clutch somewhere. That is how I learned to shift without using the clutch. At one point it was only good for 3-4 uses before needing refilled. Fortunately my hometown litterly had two stop lights. I could roll the stop signs in first gear while nearly killing the engine.