2:00PM Water Cooler 3/27/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Readers, I apologize for being late; working up that piece on Frank Rich took me more time than I budgeted for. I knew it was horrid, but I hadn’t realized how sloppy and bad it was. Sometimes it’s harder to argue against a poorly constructed case than a well-made one! –lambert

I’ll be back in an hour or so with more. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves!

Oh, and I have a friend who’s buying a microwave. His last one lasted 18 years. Apparently, all it had was an off- and on-switch. Are there any products microwaves these days that haven’t been crapified? WiFi operation, a la the Internet of Shit, is most definitely not a requirement!

UPDATE, 3:23PM. Here ya go–

Politics

New Cold War

“Democrats step up calls that Russian hack was act of war” [The Hill]. This is madness. Quote after quote from Democrat office-holders. We’re going to war based on anonymous sources from the intelligence community? Or we’re not going to war, in response to an act of war?

The Army’s top officer, Mark Milley, also cautioned individuals about using the term “war” to refer to the cyberattacks, saying at a conference on Tuesday, “If it’s an act of war, then you’ve got to start thinking of your response to that sort of thing.”

“The Clinton campaign warned you about Russia. But nobody listened to us.” [Jennifer Palmieri, WaPo]. Giving credence to the idea that if Clinton were President, we’d be at war with Russia already.

“‘Russia is a threat’: Estonia frets about its neighbor” [Lally Weymouth, WaPo]. Palmieri is just a Democrat hack, but this is serious: Lally Weymouth is Beltway aristocracy; she’s former WaPo publisher Katherine Graham’s daughter.

Health Care

“There is one way to ensure Democrats fully own Obamacare: have Price resign and replace him with a Democrat. Price would probably love to be off the hook from administering a program he dreamed of vaporizing. And for Trump: this could be a win-win scenario. If Obamacare does explode under Democratic management, he was completely right. If Obamacare hums along, he’s a political genius for crossing the aisle to pick the right person for the job” [RealClearPolitics].

And then there’s this:

Trump Transition

“Trump taps Kushner to lead a SWAT team to fix government with business ideas” [WaPo]. Hopefully this doesn’t mean Trump will crank up Obama’s anti-whistleblowing campaign.

“The Art of the Possible in an Age of Recrimination” [American Greatness]. “No, the ‘Trump = Incompetent’ meme is not going to last very long. But [Scott] Adams is right: what it replaces was, though hallucinatory, extremely toxic. Here and abroad the hallucination ‘Trump-is-Hitler’ made the usual business of politics very difficult. A crisis of legitimacy loomed. But all that is suddenly behind us now. In other words, We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent). Ordinary politics won’t spark a revolution or make you punch a coworker.'” Well, maybe on the coworker-punching part. And I think our legitimacy crisis is on-going and long-term.

And then there’s this:

Realignment and Legitimacy

“[T]he election results show that the Democrats’ conscious effort to woo the rich wasn’t entirely for naught. Clinton ran nine points ahead of Obama’s 2012 tally among voters earning more than $100,000. Further up the income ladder, among voters making more than $250,000 annually, she bested Obama’s margin by a full eleven points” [Jacobin]. “And although overall Democratic turnout declined substantially from 2012, it is wrong to say that nobody was excited to vote for Clinton. In the wealthy and well-educated suburbs of cities like Boston, Chicago, and Minneapolis — as in the effectively suburbanized enclaves of Manhattan and Washington, DC — Clinton’s vote total far surpassed Obama’s mark four years ago.”

“Hawaii lawmaker resigns from Republican Party to join Democrats” [Reuters].

“Perez, Ellison start multistate ‘turnaround tour’ for Dems” [The Hill]. Let me know how that works out. This paragraph caught my eye:

Some local officials are already heartened by news that the DNC won’t stop distributing the $7,500 monthly grant it gives to each state, which became delayed for months after the 2008 elections.

$7,500? That’s where we are? That’s, like, one plate at a Clinton fund-raising dinner. It’s almost like the state parties aren’t a priority…

“Southern Conservatives Are America’s Third Party” [Forbes]. “All the while, an unacknowledged and unofficial third party has survived inside these alignments. A party of Southern conservatives, aligned originally with Democrats, has remained a distinct political entity, complete with their own institutions, practices and values. Elsewhere in America, Democrats and Republicans dueled their way through a two-party democracy. By contrast, Southern states never tolerated partisan competition. Southern states have always been governed by a single, distinct local party, an arrangement that continues today.” Hmm. I’d be interested to know what readers think of this, especially those south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Stats Watch

Dallas Fed Manufacturing Survey, March 2017: “The energy sector continues to come alive based on the Dallas Fed report where the general activity index came in at a very strong 16.9 in March” [Econoday]. “But strength in regional reports really hasn’t translated yet to similar strength in actual factory data out of Washington.” And: “Overall confidence in the manufacturing sector should remain strong in the short term and capital spending plans in the energy sector will remain robust in the short term, especially with expectations of more favourable regulatory environment” [Economic Calendar]. “There will, however, be significant concerns if oil prices continue to decline with the risk that investment plans and wider economic activity in the area will come under pressure.” And: “Of the four Federal Reserve districts which have released their March manufacturing surveys – all are in expansion” [Econintersect].

Debt: “Hard to say the credit collapse is over. And as the causation is “bank loans create bank deposits” that component of the ‘money supply’ is decelerating as well” [Mosler Economics].

Shipping: “U.S.-NAFTA freight up again in January, reports [the Bureau of Transportation Statistics]” [Logistics Management]. “This marks the fourth increase in the last six months and the third straight month there has been an annual increase, as well as the largest annual increase going back to September 2014.”

The Bezzle: “A federal judge’s ruling that United Parcel Service Inc. failed to properly flag tobacco shipments from Indian reservations into New York opens the carrier up to millions of dollars in damages and penalties… over claims that it deprived the state and New York City of tax revenues” [Wall Street Journal]. “The judge said UPS hadn’t complied with a 2005 agreement to fix a problem that arose from schemes to avoid high local taxes on cigarette sales. A similar suit is pending against FedEx with potentially big monetary claims. In each case, local authorities say package carriers should be doing more to police the contents of their shipments. FedEx has said enforcement must be balanced against the privacy of its shipping customers. But the judge’s ruling in the UPS case says the parcel networks can’t be used to sidestep taxes.”

The Bezzle: “Which brings me to the question folks all over have been asking for a while now: ‘Pete, what will these new tractors be worth in 30 years and who will buy them?’ The not-so-subtle implication is all the electronics in today’s modern tractor will not wear well over the decades. Time will tell. I sure hope I’m around in 30 years so we can talk about auction prices” [Machinery Pete, Farm Journal].

The Bezzle: “‘Don’t think you’re special,’ she says. ‘It’s a courtesy refund we give to people in your position'” [Corporate Crime Reporter]. Filing a FOIA request yields a $6.00 refund…

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on Liberalism: “The left has become fanatical in its opposition to Trump” [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 183.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 33 Fear (previous close: 30, Fear) [CNN]. One week ago: 45 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Mar 23 at 11:50am. Last updated Mar 24 at 11:47am. Rolled over and went back to bed…

Health Care

“”Thunderous Applause” Welcomes Sanders’ Call for Medicare-for-All” [Common Dreams]. However, deeper in the story we get a mixed message:

Sanders reiterated his plan on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, telling anchor Dana Bash: “Ideally, where we should be going is to join the rest of the industrialized the world and guarantee healthcare to all people as a right. And that’s why I’m going to introduce a Medicare-for-All, single-payer program.”

Sanders also spoke of shorter-term goals in his interview on CNN: “Let us do, among other things, a public option. Let us give people in every state in this country a public option from which they can choose. Let’s talk about lowering the age of Medicare eligibility from 65 to 55. Let’s deal with the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.”

I’m going to be anxious to see the bill that Sanders actually introduces. Let me caveat that I want Sanders to be an effective professional poltiician. I believe in an inside/outside strategy — “You must do it whether it can be done or not” — and therefore, I want somebody on the inside! That said, the so-called “public option” is a Beltway concoction deliberately designed as a bait-and-switch from Medicare for All, and has never, not once, not ever, been offered in good faith. Sanders is playing with fire, and I hope he was asbestos gloves.

“Despite the inherent limitations of a self-described democratic socialist who eschews the norms of Beltway fundraising, the Democratic presidential candidate from Vermont has won legislative victory after victory on an issue that has been dear to him since his days as Burlington’s mayor” [The Intercept]. “That issue is the simultaneously benign and revolutionary expansion of federally qualified community health clinics. Over the years, Sanders has tucked away funding for health centers in appropriation bills signed by George W. Bush, into Barack Obama’s stimulus program, and through the earmarking process. But his biggest achievement came in 2010 through the Affordable Care Act. In a series of high-stakes legislative maneuvers, Sanders struck a deal to include $11 billion for health clinics in the law. The result has made an indelible mark on American health care, extending the number of people served by clinics from 18 million before the ACA to an expected 28 million next year.”

Class Warfare

“The US added 400,000 millionaire households in 2016” [Business Insider]. “To characterize the current period as being “an economic malaise” or “a total disaster” is in direct contradiction of the actual facts. Hardworking families are being rewarded for the money they’re saving and investing. Not all of them – which is a different topic – but most of them.”

“The VA overpaid tens of thousands of veterans, and now it says they have to give the money back” [Vice]. “Some veterans… are disputing the VA’s overpayment claims. They say the agency has failed to provide a clear accounting of the debts and that the labyrinthine appeals process amounts to a “one-sided conversation” resulting in few answers. One veteran said he received a notice of the hearing date for his appeal more than a month after the meeting had already been held. Without more information, veterans can’t know if they’re really at fault in these cases, or if the overpayment resulted from an error on the VA’s part. The VA declined to comment on any of the concerns veterans have raised about the debt collection process.?

“Ithaca College Contingent Faculty Get Great Contract!!” [Tompkins County Workers Center]. Yay!

“Auditors investigating claims that Bath Iron Works union funds are missing” [Bangor Daily News]. Hmm.

News of the Wired

“Science is embattled in a raging replication crisis, in which researchers are unable to reproduce a number of key findings. On the front lines of this conflict is psychology. In a 2015 review of 98 original psychology papers, just 36 percent of attempted replications returned significant results, whereas 97 percent of the original studies did” [RealClearScience].

“This Sous Vide Bag Is Made To Be Cooked In Your Laundry” [Fast Company]. Fortunately, it’s only an art school project. You can tell because the sous vide bag isn’t part of the Internet of Things.

“Facebook activated my dormant account and it won’t let me deactivate it” [SmashCompany]. Very ugly.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant (CW):

CW has some very nice things to say, which I will include tomorrow. Meanwhile, have a banana!

Readers, Water Cooler is a standalone entity, not supported by the very successful Naked Capitalism fundraiser just past. Now, I understand you may feel tapped out, but when and if you are able, please use the dropdown to choose your contribution, and then click the hat! Your tip will be welcome today, and indeed any day. Water Cooler will not exist without your continued help.

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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.

191 comments

  1. wsa

    I don’t know how many science fiction readers there are here, but I will mention that Kim Stanley Robinson’s newest book, New York 2140, has the (flooded) financial industry as part of the main storyline. I’m not sure that what happens near the end is possible outside a SF book, but some might find it interesting.

    His books have never been exactly positive about capitalism, but this one seems more overtly angry and anti-capitalist. Of course, I might be overinterpreting. The authorial voice has changed for this book, compared to his recent work, in what I assume is an attempt to capture New Yorker linguistic brio.

    Bloomberg’s review.

    1. BeliTsari

      Bloomberg/ Guardian went full geo-engineering quite some time ago. I remember when The Guardian still published articles concerning what could be done to mitigate, forestall or cope with our ever worsening anthropogenic global warming. Now, they’ve hopped on-board Wall Street’s marketing of miracle solutions.

      1. pretzelattack

        i’d say most of their articles focus on renewable energy and cutting fossil fuel emissions, still. it’s kind of surprising, given their political preferences.

      2. gepay

        The scariest part (to me) of the – man made CO2 causing catastrophic climate change band wagon – is the possibility of geo-engineering solutions being implemented on a global scale, What could possibly go wrong? – the science is settled – everything we need to know is known.The powers that be are so wise and competent.

    2. Gaianne

      Lambert–

      About that microwave: Go to a thrift store!

      Old appliances. They usually work, and so cheap you can afford to gamble.

      If it works at all, it will work better and last longer than anything you can buy new!

      Yes, I’ve done this.

      –Gaianne

      1. Oregoncharles

        We ALWAYS do this. Almost the only item I bought new, a Husqvarna chain saw, because none were available used, is still working well after more than 10 years – I’ve lost track of how old it is. But the guy that keeps borrowing it when his don’t work was impressed.

        Appliances? hardly ever new. It just doesn’t pay.

      2. ambrit

        Yep to old microwave machines. The older ones, I know from personal experience, have a ceramic fuse shaped just like an auto fuse in side it that can be replaced when it burns out. Most people don’t know this and junk the entire machine. We once used an old microwave from the dump that I put a new fuse in! (We just about autoclaved it first, and it worked fine for several years thereafter.) My Dad fixed an old Amana unit this way. That was a tank among microwaves.
        The “independant” thrift stores often have an old codger “volunteer” beavering away in the back checking out and fixing the donated electrical stuff. I still use an older Marantz disc player acquired that way. We had a nice thrift store found Blaupunkt car radio in the wife’s car until Katrina killed both.

      3. Carl

        Our gas stove was made in 1952. We have the original warranty paperwork–25 years. Our freezer was manufactured in 1955, still working well. Our fridge was made in the 40s–a bit smallish compared to current models and requires periodic defrosting of the freezer part, but otherwise works fine.

      4. Cheryl B

        We have an old Amana upright freezer in our basement from 1970s. It has withstood being carted up the stairs in the aftermath of a tornado that wiped out our entire house in 1990. We found a neighbor who still had electricity so we moved it, via pickup truck. Food intact and saved. Five years later, back in the basement, we ended up with 18 inches of water. But the repair guy explained that because the motor was protected by some kind of water tight plastic protection, the motor still worked. And yes, it is still working to this day.

    1. Toolate

      i guess I trust the judgement of a sheep dog Here and I say that as a long time pnhp member

    2. Vatch

      Did you look at his tweet? There’s an embedded video, and he explicitly states that he believes in Medicare for all. He goes on to say that it’s not going to happen now, which is quite accurate, considering the dominance of the Republicans in both houses of Congress. He views the public option as a temporary measure, an improvement over what exists, but something that will need to be changed into Medicare for All.

      https://twitter.com/SenSanders/status/845671102345039872

      1. Waking Up

        The “public option” is another kick the can down the road for another decade or more measure. Bernie Sanders knows that and chose to sell-out. There are many people who will take Bernie at his word and think the “public option” is a viable solution. By the way, what is his definition of “temporary”…one decade, two decades, a century….??

        http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/08/the-underground-history-of-the-so-called-public-option-plus-underpants-gnomes-2.html

        https://www.healthcare-now.org/blog/bait-and-switch-how-the-%E2%80%9Cpublic-option%E2%80%9D-was-sold/

          1. Code Name D

            Still. Now is the time to bring it to the floor. If only to watch the Democrats squirm. It will put a lot of public pressure on congress.

          2. Tim

            My personal opinion and maybe this is the same as Bernie’s is that the public option is just a trial balloon of an experiment to show that the government can do as good or better than the insurance companies at their job. Just that simple.

            The republican philosophy is the government always does a worse job than the private sector, because they have no internal motivation for efficiency.

            If you can down that argument, then suddenly all the efficiency benefits of a literal single payer can no longer be discounted. (It becomes what the heck do we need these money grubbing service denying private insurance companies for???)

            Therefore I disagree with the naysayers and say a public option will be better than the status quo.

            As I say that I realize that the republican president could place somebody who’s whole job is to run the public option into the ground to make an example out of it.

            Maybe it is too big of a gamble to try the public option.

            1. Nick

              Agree. I never saw the persuasiveness of the anti “public option” argument give the way he’s using it here.

            2. Lambert Strether Post author

              There are two reasons:

              1) The public option has always been used as a way of distracting from single payer. It may be that Sanders has gamed that out. But I think it’s dangerous. It’s a “lie down with dogs, get up with fleas” thing. None of its advocates in 2009 operated in good faith. I have no confidence it’s any different today.

              2) It’s a horrid precedent. Imagine the ObamaCare “marketplace” with “the public option” right there next to the for-profit policies (and having beens screwed up by the health insurance companies, as happened in Maine).

              Now imagine — say as part of a Grand Bargain in which the political class still deeply believes — that we “build on the success of ObamaCare” by introducing a retirement marketplace — with Social Security as the “public option.” Any reason, given the logic, why that shouldn’t be true? A Wall Street wet dream, and a neoliberal wet dream.

              1. zapster

                It was my understanding that the reason they didn’t allow the public option to get traction was that they knew it would be such a popular choice as to crowd out the insurance companies. If so, then it should have roughly the same effect now, and end up quietly taking over, relegating insurance companies to their supplementary role that they typically play in other nations with national health care. Perhaps that’s what Bernie has in mind, anyway.

            3. JTFaraday

              I don’t get this negotiating from the middle thing.

              Even Trump friend and newsmax CEO endorses a single payer universal catastrophic coverage plan, with private plans on top of that.

              Obamacare has ripped the cover off the unbearably high cost of such private health insurance plans. The government should not be merely marginally undercutting that while the incumbents define the grounds on which such “competition” takes place.

    3. nycTerrierist

      argh!! wtf??? what a disappointment.
      if there were ever a better time to double down on single-payer, it is now!

      ““Introducing a public option will divide and confuse supporters of Medicare for all,” said Margaret Flowers, MD a pediatrician who co-directs Health Over Profit for Everyone, http://www.HealthOverProfit.org. Flowers is also a member of PNHP. “Senators who should co-sponsor Medicare for all will be divided. Sanders seems to be urging a public option to please the Democratic Party, but Sanders cannot serve two masters – Wall Street’s Chuck Schumer and the people. Sanders must decide whom he is working for.”

      “While it might seem politically pragmatic to support a public option, it is not realistically pragmatic because a public option will not work,” Dr. Flowers said. “Senator Sanders knows that and he knows that the smallest step toward solving the healthcare crisis is National Improved Medicare for All.”

        1. PH

          I respect your attitude but I am not sure the text would tell the story.

          At this point, everything is just a message bill. And while I have no inside information, this smells like something negotiated as part of Schumer’s message team.

          This kind of stuff is tricky at the member level, and can get downright crazy after staff munches on it.

          I do not doubt Bernie’s sincerity but this sounds like bad judgment. I agree with the comments suggesting a simple consistent message: Medicare for all.

          1. Indrid Cold

            Schumer isn’t going to do the commoners any favors and as Party Comrade Pelosi reminded us, “we’re capitalists” so anything “public” is gonna get a lead life jacket before it makes it even as far as the sausage factory. This is why the Republic is doomed.

            1. PH

              I suspect you are not being cynical enough.

              Schumer does not give a rat’s a$$ about governing. To him, it is a game about winning elections and dominating. His main focus is propaganda and fundraising.

              At the moment, Schumer hears a Progressive rumble. In his view, he needs to stall and placate until the storm passes and he can get back to normal. From this perspective, the public option is a great gambit: a nod left without becoming law and providing an excuse for not going to single-payer.

              Schumer’s crowd is the Borg. You cannot reason with it, only defeat it.

              Primaries. Find our candidates now.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            Could be. I don’t think Schumer’s the driver here, though. Sanders owns the issue in the public mind. Since the bill won’t pass before 2018, I see no reason whatever to pre-compromise. That’s what worries me.

            1. ambrit

              Yes to that. Pre compromise doesn’t seem to be needed, but there it is. Why, is my question? As Trump seems to be spinning the Heritagecare repeal defeat, why not let the status quo collapse and clear the field for a serious Single Payer option? Not only would I want to see the actual bill, but I’d want to see what the side deals were also. I suspect that this issue is linked to something else inside the process.

            2. PH

              There is huge institutional weight on Bernie.

              Only so many hours in day. Bad staff. Frenzied plotting about daily media efforts. Pressure from other senators to compromise with vague promises of support on this or that issue.

              Schumer made Bernie part of leadership message team. Bernie probably should have refused.

              But Bernie saw some advantage, and now he has to juggle. Hard to do. And that can lead to mistakes

              1. aletheia33

                sanders will always have to juggle like this. he can only do so much, which is a lot more than any other congresscritter will or can do for the people right now. but the more people can come to understand the difficulty of his position as a reviled insider, tolerated only by sheer political necessity and beset by hostile operatives, the more people can gather on the outside to push and support him. instead of crying sheepdog, we should recognize the reality that his position is precarious, and rely on ourselves to help build him a stronger base, or, depending on our individual inclination, to scream and yell and civilly disobey, independently of him, so as to scare the 5 percent out of their bamboo pajamas and inform the rest of the world that a better “option” actually exists.

                lambert, thank you for your insights on the issue above.

    4. cocomaan

      Why in the world would he think that a public plan would compete well with private plans? NC has reported many times now that Mayo Clinic and others are considering, or are already deprioritizing, two public option plans already in existence, Medicare and Medicaid.

      Sanders also told reporters this weekend that he would consider legislation that would drop the Medicare age from 65 to 55.

      At that point, Medicare covers the riskiest pool of all. Why not include everyone else?

      This crap is a waste of everyone’s time.

        1. cocomaan

          Then why not let in everyone between the ages of 13-15? That would lower average age too.

          1. Vatch

            Probably because a few Republican votes are needed. They control both houses of Congress, after all. The Republicans are adamantly opposed to single payer, because they say it’s “socialism”. Maybe we can get more in the 116th Congress; for now, we have to live with the 115th Congress.

            1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

              It doesn’t matter, Republicans or Democrats.

              Don’t let them fool you, or me, with the promise of heaven with the next congress.

              1. jo6pac

                Agree, if they can’t get it out of committee then those committee members need to be voted out of office. If ever got a full vote then all voting against it need to be voted out.

                Lambert, yes we need to see the bill and I hope it’s not another we’ll vote it now and read it later con job. Thanks nancy p.

            2. cocomaan

              Want to do a vote count? Find me an issue on which there is bipartisan agreement at the moment. You won’t find much.

              At the moment there is political will for nothing at all. Despite R control, tax cuts won’t show. Neither will immigration reform. Neither will the Wall. Selling off public lands didn’t happen, neither did AHCA. You couldn’t even get Congress to agree on a war at the moment. That’s not a bad thing, mind you, but it’s also not a viable excuse anymore.

              The democrats, and Bernie, should take a page from the Republican playbook during the Obama years: symbolic legislation works. It won the Republicans this past election cycle.

              What you’re suggesting is the proposed strategy since universal healthcare was on the table, which I recall being pushed to the center of the table in the 90s: “Not yet”. I’ve had enough of it, personally. It hasn’t worked.

            3. marym

              Then the Sanders and the Dems should propose Medicare for All and let the Repubs walk it back to something less.

              1. Vatch

                I don’t think the Republicans would walk it back to something else. They simply would let it die in committee. We’ll see what happens to HR676 in the House (I’ve already asked my Representative to co-sponsor it).

              2. Archie

                Yes!! F%@k politics! Does altruism only exist in the realm of science fiction? Let’s (as in US society) stop having polite political conversations about what might be politically possible (given enough horse trading degradation) and start insisting on what is in the common good. IMO, half a loaf is not better than none when it comes to the pursuit of an egalitarian society. There is plenty of historical evidence to support my pov.

                  1. PH

                    Agreed. Keep a simple message. And a simple plan. At some point, that will have a lot of popular appeal.

                    Win a few primaries with that banner flying high, and the career pols will scurry to get behind a winning message (and to discourage primary challengers in their districts).

                    It can avalanche fast. But we need a few high-profile victories. That is the tough part. Even if Medicare for all is popular in the district, opponents will throw other issues into the mix.

  2. Altandmain

    Has anyone else seen how like the far right the Democratic partisans have become?

    I posted this in the Links section today, but:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/27/democratic-party-continues-shunning-popular-sanders-surrogates/

    While Democratic Party leaders preach unity, and continue touting DNC Chair Tom Perez with Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN), despite the great lengths the establishment took to ensure Sanders-backed Ellison didn’t win the DNC Chair race, the Democratic Party establishment continues to carry an abrasive attitude toward Bernie Sanders and progressives. Though resistance to Trump is a unifying force, any push for reform and changes within the Democratic Party have been obstructed at every turn since Hillary Clinton’s election loss. The Democratic Party has learned nothing, and while Nina Turner and Tulsi Gabbard remain favorites among Bernie Sanders supporters and likely have bright futures as progressive leaders, the Democratic Party leadership sees them as political opponents, and will continue to attack them when convenient, and insist on their support and loyalty when it suits them, as they have done with Bernie Sanders and his supporters since the Democratic Primaries.

    Yeah I’m seeing plenty of that right now.

    This one is also interesting:
    https://www.currentaffairs.org/2017/03/compassion-and-politics

    Williamson says that the Democrats are now the party of the “respectable upper middle-class”; they’re the party of life’s winners, and Republicans are becoming the party of the losers: after all, most of our country’s most visible billionaires supported Clinton (Gates, Buffett, Bloomberg, Cuban, Zuckerburg, etc.), whereas the collapsing epicenters of the country’s opiate epidemic are the heart of Trump Country.

    Williamson’s economic winners-and-losers framework is wrong in some important ways. (For one thing, it only works if you look solely at white people.) But he’s right to detect a distinctly snobbish and bourgeois sensibility in contemporary Democratic politics. Yesterday’s Rockefeller Republican is today’s Clinton Democrats, and Rockefeller Republicans were fundamentally aristocratic in their inclinations.


    There’s a perfectly simple and consistent principle from which Democratic (or progressive, or left, or just humane) politics are supposed to start: basic compassion for those who are suffering. The moment you find yourself saying “they brought it on themselves” or “I have no sympathy,” you have ceased to practice the (often difficult!) basic moral principle that should drive left-wing politics, which is a deep compassion for people’s struggles and a desire to help them make their lives better.

    The upper middle class right now that makes up the CLinton base, seems determined to preserve their wealth privilege so to speak, while lecturing poor whites about their “white privilege” and outsourcing jobs.

    That’s the real problem here.

    1. Pavel

      The great Jimmy Dore (during the election post-mortem on the HRC campaign) often played Chuck Schumer’s infamous comment about Pennsylvania voters, along the lines of: “we may lose a few blue collar voters in west PA but we’ll make up for it with moderate Republicans in Philly”. I frankly see not even a dime’s worth of difference between the Dems and Repubs these days.

      Here is the video on youtube (8 mins): Video Reveals Hillary’s Stupid Strategy Of Ignoring Blue Collar Workers

      The quote I paraphrased is in the first 2 minutes and is worth catching. As Jimmy points out, that strategy worked out so well the Dems made him Majority Leader.

      1. UserFriendly

        Normally I find his schtick a bit annoying, but I recently came across him doing stand up and it is actually hilarious. Here is him destroying Ellison’s ‘Why does everyone hate Hillary so much?’ Tweet.
        https://youtu.be/7gPRYFbm1Ks
        This one is good too.
        https://youtu.be/zZ0PtdXr238

        In a side note this is messed up what happened to Nina Turner. But it looks like she is leaning towards that OH governors run.
        https://www.facebook.com/eric.j.brewer.9/posts/10158412634525634

    2. cocomaan

      It is absolutely about winners and losers, I buy that 100%. Hell, Trump literally ran his campaign on the concept of WINNING and… well, won.

      I listen to NPR in order to understand the Democrat mindset. Right now it’s either about Russia, gloating over AHCA, or things like this: New York Times Wedding Announcements, The Section People Love To Hate!

      Parsing it out, we have a paper that generally very few people in the US receive, announcing bourgeouis weddings, and a reference to “people”. Who are “people”? That’s the real question.

      1. m

        There are more so called losers than winners. The only way Clintonites will succeed is if they can change the electoral college system that allowed Trump his win.

    3. jrs

      It could be said that poor whites merely vote more against their own interests than do poor minorities. Although this is hard to parse just based on Dem/Rep since both parties are pretty bad. So you would have to get down to support for social services etc. (that is down into policy). But I think minorities actually do support these programs more than poor whites. Yea social services aren’t the be all and end all, but they can be a life preserver.

      1. Indrid Cold

        It’s a cultural thing. I think in time, the stupid Protestant Work Ethic thing will wear off as it becomes manifest that hard work no longer has a reward.

        The other side of it is the Confederate formulation which says to white people, ‘at least you’re better than those people’

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > vote more against their own interests

        I’m sick of that talking point. I had to leave a ton of material about Trump voter interviews on the cutting room floor on the Frank Rich post, and many, many, many are quite thoughtful (which is not the same as agreeing with them).

        I think the “vote against their own interests” is the most vile paternalism from smug liberals, frankly.

      3. Kramer

        “Vote against their own intrests” implies that there was the opportunity to vote FOR their own intrests, but voting for neolibs is like donating to the Clinton foundation. Your just reinforcing an organization designed to strip mine your passions and redirect your energy into the hoarded power of your masters.

    4. Anne

      What I think is more of a problem is people still looking to the pundit class to tell them what is going on; whatever it is the politicians have at stake in this thing, can we please give a passing nod to the fact that the pundits and experts and people who get paid for their opinions have to maintain the tension or face being branded irrelevant?

      People complained when the Dems didn’t stand up to the GOP – now they’re complaining that they’re not standing up in the right way. It seems sometimes that people are so determined not to be labeled a Democrat that they would rather occupy themselves with cutting off their noses to spite their faces than find common cause when Democrats do something right (of course, since according to this group, Democrats never do anything right, they have a built-in excuse for sitting on their hands). If there’s any snobbery going on, that would seem to be the definition of it – “oh, no – I’m not one of those people – I’m an independent leftist who doesn’t want to get too close to those traitorous elites.”

      Yeah, I get that to come here and express my opinion without reference to some expert means I will likely just be dismissed out of hand, but the perspective gained after a couple weeks of being too busy to read and comment has done me a world of good.

      1. herme

        What, and support the Democrats in starting a war with Russia because they couldn’t persuade enough people in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to vote for their candidate?

        Yes, I will dismiss that out of hand.

        1. Anne

          Well, you go right ahead and dismiss that, and whoever said that – which wasn’t me, by the way. Seems a little straw-man-ish, to throw something at me I didn’t say, but, whatever.

          I’m not interested in supporting war anywhere. I didn’t support or vote for Clinton because – among other things – she has amazingly terrible instincts when it comes to matters of foreign policy.

          But here’s the thing: what’s going on now is you have a GOP that is determined to erase whatever progress we’ve made in a number of areas, is licking its collective chops over finally getting to be as cruel and as mean as we always knew they were, and those people with the (D) or the (I) after their names are the ones who are going to be making decisions about how a lot of it turns out. At the moment, and for as long as the momentum continues, I think they are taking their cues from the angry, energized, hey-maybe-I’ll- run-for-office grassroots who are seeing a future they are refusing to accept. As far as I’m concerned, it’s use it or lose it.

          And it won’t just be about economic or social justice issues – it’s also going to be about foreign policy, too. And even more so when people figure out that part of the Trump con is using his “let’s all get along” shtick to run the real con he’s after: using Russia for his own enrichment. Is that worse than Clinton? Hard to say, but for sure the Clintons are life members of the Grifters Hall of Fame.

          So, if we are destined to be ruled by grifters, I guess I’d have to say it’s better for those grifters to be people who believe in protecting the environment, protecting the rights of workers, not cutting the legs out from under public education, not making students pay usurious fees for their student loans, protecting the right to choose, keeping consumer protections – and so on.

          The GOP wants to destroy government; I can’t be for that. I can’t cut my nose off to spite my face – I’m going to have to support the things I believe in, and fight the ones I don’t.

          1. Fiery Hunt

            Hi Anne.
            So, if we are destined to be ruled by grifters, I guess I’d have to say it’s better for those grifters to be people who believe in protecting the environment, protecting the rights of workers, not cutting the legs out from under public education, not making students pay usurious fees for their student loans, protecting the right to choose, keeping consumer protections – and so on.

            Gulf oil spill. Democrats in charge.
            Fracking goes into hyper drive. Democrats in charge
            No card check. Democrats in charge.
            No discharge for student loans in bankruptcy. Democrats in charge with Hillary and Joe Biden driving that bus.
            Democrats accepting the Supreme Court no vote leading to a vacancy on the SCOTUS for the 8th longest wait in US history.
            No TBTF bankers arrested over fraudulent mortgages.
            No arrests for Wells Fargo fake accounts scandal. Some consumer protection ya got there…

            In the end, I believe the Democratic Party you believe in is non-reality.
            Reject their corruption.

            But please stay engaged… both here and in Life. You’re a good voice to hear.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > we are destined to be ruled by grifters, I guess I’d have to say it’s better for those grifters to be people who believe in protecting the environment, protecting the rights of workers, not cutting the legs out from under public education, not making students pay usurious fees for their student loans, protecting the right to choose, keeping consumer protections – and so on.

            It would be great if there were such a party, I agree (I grant that Obama’s a bit better on the environment, and the CPFB is a little bit better than nothing, but if you don’t deliver good government in the form of concrete material benefits to the voters, then you don’t have the leverage to be as good on the environment, or anything else, as you need to be. I mean, why are we even arguing about the coal miners when Obama had eight years to cut them a check for the damage done to them? It wasn’t politically feasible, of course, and in any case the Democrats have written off those voters. But a Democrat Party with the rot cleaned out — a Herculean task, I know — would have been able to make that case, and deliver on much more.)

            1. fritter

              One thing that gets missed in this ‘lesser evil’ argument is responsibility. Obama didn’t deliver very well but he promised the moon. If he had only promised a small uptick in everyones lives, it wouldn’t have been such a let down. To me its akin to opportunity costs that end up being much larger than the actual costs. Look at the freak out over Trump delivering on some of his campaign promises. Younger voters just had a huge disillusionment with the D party and that’s going to be around for awhile. Accountability is a lost concept even within a parties base, unless you voted for Trump. Every campain promise for Trump has been carried by the MSM in one way or another. How about all those Obama promises? Bernies got to get past the (much deserved IMHO) pessimism the party machinery is always generating. No matter what he says I don’t think there would be much of a backlash if he fliped flopped at least within the party. If I could trust the Democrats to hold him to his promises then I could have trusted them on Obama and Hillary as well. Sometimes I wonder if the D party exists just as a honey trap for leftists. Perhaps fly trap would be better. Every few years they throw out the old and give us a new “hero” to disappoint.

              Divergent viewpoints are good. The lack of accountability in the party system makes it untenable. I guarantee in 2020 there will be a list of what Trump promised versus what he accomplished and it will be looked at very critically. If he doesn’t deliver he’ll probably actually lose peoples support. That’s what independants do, versus partisan.

      2. cocomaan

        “oh, no – I’m not one of those people – I’m an independent leftist who doesn’t want to get too close to those traitorous elites.”

        There’s plenty of griping but I don’t blame anyone. I see the consequences: life-sucking student loans that destroy careers before they begin, an abysmal healthcare system that prescribed someone I know an anti-seizure medication for weight loss instead of diet, a war on terror that metastasized in Trump banning Muslims, and a heroin epidemic ignored as a problem for “Pillbillies” instead of a simultaneous big pharma slavery operation / Afghani heroin trafficking going on with government largesse.

        Furthermore, I think we need all stripes. We need a libertarian Tea Party and we need a bunch of Occupy socialists and you need “pragmatic centrists” or what have you. I want religious people and atheist people around who believe in what they believe. That’s a diversity that many don’t actually want to see because it’s difficult and requires listening.

        Dealing with idealists and factions is part of life and it’s part of governing. Any notion that certain groups should be excluded from conversations because they are too pure in their ideals will get us nowhere. Why? Well, the purists, like myself, will always be able to point at history like a doctor and say, “Point out on yourself where it hurt not to have listened to my ideas.”

        Edited to add: And please stay around, I like reading your comments.

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          Hear, hear! Pluralism

          (Instead we get one flavor, lovingly embraced by both sides: billionaire-ism)

          So, Anne, no condemnation at all, step right up and defend your views, no “experts” needed.

        2. Anon

          …if we need all “stripes”, then likely a parliamentarian governing system would function better?

      3. Atypical

        Anne 3:11 pm

        A few weeks ago I was moved to compliment something you said. I did not.

        Sometime later the same thing happened. This time will be different.

        Your middle para is empirically correct and exposes the rot at the heart of many who, however correctly, deplore dem hypocrisy but then give uncalled-for validity to others who have even less merit.

        Some places reek of it.

        Edit: I see some already disagree, as if it is all or nothing. It must be impossible for humans to see gray areas. Nuance – what a concept.

        1. herme

          Her middle paragraph just calls “independent leftists” snobs, and what could be more worthless than all those people “sitting on their hands”? Then her third paragraph worries she will just be dismissed out of hand by said “independent leftists”.

          The trouble is there’s no room for nuance, no way to get away from “all or nothing” thinking under such contradictory impulses. I do think there is something ‘Atypical’ about Anne’s post, and your response to it!

      4. Archie

        When was the last time the Dems did something right? Not by mistake but out of a sense of purpose?

        I agree that the pundit class is less than worthless in terms of moral/ethical/political guidance. But what does that have to do with your condemnation of “independent leftists”? Are you trying to say that their “independent leftist” views are only and exclusively a rejection of the pundit class?

      5. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        If there’s any snobbery going on, that would seem to be the definition of it – “oh, no – I’m not one of those people – I’m an independent leftist who doesn’t want to get too close to those traitorous elites.”

        They are elites because we can’t get too close to them, even if we want to.

      6. Altandmain

        My complaint is that the Democratic Party bent over backwards because they were paid to do exactly that.

        Clinton and Obama made 153 million after Bill Clinton’s presidency on speeches.
        http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/05/politics/hillary-clinton-bill-clinton-paid-speeches/

        How can that possible be reconciled with a party of the people? More like a party that enriches its senior members at the expense of the people.

        People complained when the Dems didn’t stand up to the GOP – now they’re complaining that they’re not standing up in the right way.

        The thing is, they didn’t stand up. During Obama’s Presidency, the Dems let the GOP walk over Obama.

        http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/07/the-obama-enablers-big-lie-we-never-had-the-votes.html

        Today the GOP is talking about getting rid of the Filibuster.

        I don’t agree with their agenda, but GOP have fighting determination in them. They want their agenda and aren’t afraid of a fight. The Democrats are. There’s more fighting spirit in 5 Tea Party Members than 50 corporate Democrats.

        Unfortunately, it is because they are paid by Wall Street not to have a fighting spirit.

        It seems sometimes that people are so determined not to be labeled a Democrat that they would rather occupy themselves with cutting off their noses to spite their faces than find common cause when Democrats do something right (of course, since according to this group, Democrats never do anything right, they have a built-in excuse for sitting on their hands). If there’s any snobbery going on, that would seem to be the definition of it – “oh, no – I’m not one of those people – I’m an independent leftist who doesn’t want to get too close to those traitorous elites.”

        Actually that’s what the corporate Democrats just did.

        They lost the election by alienating Bernie supporters and throwing them under the bus.
        http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/20/it-wasnt-the-russians-hillary-lost-because-she-blew-off-sanders-and-his-voters/

        The truth is that it was Clinton’s own actions that lost her the support of Sanders voters. Her repeating lying about Sanders during the campaign, and her gratuitous dissing of Sanders and his supporters even after it was becoming clearer that she would win the primary because of the corrupt support she had lined up from the party’s unelected so-called “super delegates,” and her decision in the fall, after winning the nomination, to ignore the 13 million Sanders voters from the primary and instead to pursue the support of what she hoped were disenchanted Republican voters upset that Donald Trump had won the Republican nomination, all doomed her in the general election.

        The Democrats not only did that. As the DNC Wikileaks revealed they actively tried to sabotage the candidate of Bernie Sanders.

        Look at this chart:
        https://cdn.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/CPSCharticle_fig3.png

        Over the past 50 years, there has been naked class warfare. That has been true whether a Democrat or a GOP President has been in power.

        That’s what we are protesting. America is not a poor nation, nor is most of the developed world. It’s just the money is being stolen by the rich. Voting for a Clinton type of candidate would be voting for the destruction of the middle class. I am not exaggerating at all.

        I have not heard a single explanation as to how Clinton was going to do anything but continue the trend of squeezing the middle class. She was going to sell out to Wall Street. Why couldn’t she reveal her Goldman Sachs speeches? Whatever was in them was so damaging that they would have destroyed her candidacy.

        What about Trump? I think he’s a disgrace. I’m 100% that Clinton would have continued the assault on the middle class. I’m 90% sure that Trump will. If he makes a serious attempt at rebuilding manufacturing, infrastructure, and gives us peaceful relations with Russia, he will have been a better President than Clinton ever could have been.

        Today support for the Democrats is collapsing.
        https://i1.wp.com/theduran.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/Screen-Shot-2017-03-08-at-10.21.39-AM-1024×748.jpg?resize=1024%2C748

        Why? They literally have nothing to offer … and people know it!

      7. Plenue

        Uh, can you remind me what resistance the Dems are doing?

        And let’s put aside all issues of ideology for a moment, and talk purely about pragmatic issues. The Dems are doubling down on a platform that just lost them an election against an orange haired reality TV muppet. This platform has for decades been alternating between winning elections by ever shrinking margins, and losing, before finally consistently losing in increasing numbers. Asking us to join with the Democrats to oppose Trump is like asking us to battle the Bismarck by boarding the Hood after she’s already exploded.

        In addition they continue to oppose even the slightest concession to ideas, personified by Sanders, that demonstrably had, and continue to have, enormous resonance with the public. I would be more open to allying with the Dems if their calls for ‘unity’ came with even the smallest recognition that they’d made mistakes, and that their policies need to at least slightly change. Instead they continue to spit on anything even slightly to the left of Nicholas II, belittling and shunning progressives at every opportunity. This is not a winning strategy.

        They clearly don’t want us, so why should we attempt to aid them? Because Trump is the Greater Evil? Bollocks, I’m tired of Lesser Evil-ism. If ever there was a time for a long dormant real Left to reconstitute itself, this is it.

      1. Altandmain

        The sad part about this is the same people who lost this election are the ones still in charge.

    5. HopeLB

      Funny how this “Christian” nation with God on our money and a prayer before the senate and congress are gaveled in, got to this idealogical point. Was it that misinterpretation Hudson discussed about Mathew 26/Duetoronomy15:4 or the Protestants’ turnabout on usury?

      “So what Christians have done with “the poor will be with your always,” even when they recognize that it’s a quote of Deuteronomy 15, is to make it a quote about charity. It’s about: “Okay we can’t do anything about it.”

      And this is not just conservatives, this is not just reactionaries. This is liberal Christians who say: “We can’t end poverty, Jesus says so. Even when he quotes the Hebrew scriptures, they’re reminding us that we can’t end poverty, we can’t cancel debts, we can’t release slaves, but what we can do is give a little bit of the extra to folks.” Which should sound very familiar to us. This sounds like the solutions that we have on offer for addressing poverty and inequality and dispossession.

 But what’s so important and groundbreaking about the work that Dr. Hudson is doing is to see that you can’t actually read Matthew 26 and Deuteronomy 15:4 and 11 separately. So to me, what’s really helpful, even though there’s a whole history of debating whether this really happened, is the fact that these very radical economic verses are in our scriptures and are regularly referenced, including in this most famous passage about poverty. Jim Wallace says that this is the most famous passage, other people say that this is the most famous passage too, and it somehow trumps all the passages that talk about the release of slaves, the coming here to proclaim a year of God’s favor. “

    6. Big River Bandido

      “Upper middle class” is meant to be obfuscatory, to somehow make us empathize with them, as though they’re “just a rung above us” in the social ladder. But in truth the real American middle class is almost gone, and this so-called “upper middle class” is statistically insignificant — its primary influence is purely that of gatekeeper, keeping the “less worthy” out. They often like to call themselves “the creative class”, although that label is phony since so few of them actually create anything useful, just “financial instruments” and so-called “education reform” and other schemes for destroying the public commons and gouging people for the privilege of screwing them over and moving their money around.

      An adequate terminology for this group would have to convey the arrogance, entitlement and out-of-touchness that defines this class — terms like “professional class” or “liberal class” or “credentialed class”.

      1. jrs

        I’m not even sure who the upper middle class is supposed to be,I mostly think doctors and dentists and the like, lawyers maybe?

        1. Altandmain

          Yes I’d say that.

          – Professionals like doctors, dentist
          – The legal profession
          – Mid level management (we’re talking director level) in corporations
          – Some specialties like finance (CFAs for example in good careers)
          – Successful smaller businesses could fall into this category

          Basically the top 10%, perhaps 20% of the income bracket.

          1. Ulysses

            “Basically the top 10%, perhaps 20% of the income bracket.”

            While the top 10% can actually afford (outside of costly enclaves like SF or Manhattan) to live a fairly comfortable life, the next 10% down will likely only “keep up with the Joneses” through taking on a lot of debt.

            1. Altandmain

              It really depends on the geographical area.

              If you make within the 80-90% percentile in an area that is not too expensive, you are way better off than say, the 90-95% percentile in say, the Bay Area, NYC, or uber expensive zip codes. Maybe the 80-90 percentile who live in cheaper areas are better even than the 95-99 percentile.

              Then the top 0.1% are in a crazy category of their own.

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            The income brackets are crude proxies for the social relations involved, sadly.

            Hence “10%” as a moniker, exactly like 99% (and 1% — which is really 0.01%).

            1. PhilM

              I’m happy to see this, because it forestalls having to fight the same old fight yet again. “Crude proxies” is a civil understatement characteristic of Lambert’s ambassadorial diplomacy.

              Holy smokes, the medieval church’s list of seven sins has more utility in social analysis than do the income brackets. There’s even a geography of peccation.

              The proud strive for power (Washington, DC); the avaricious, for money (New York, New York); the lustful, for sex (Miami, Florida); the vain, for attention (Los Angeles, California); the wrathful (Everywhere, USA), for positions as head torturer at the CIA, or for easy targets on blog comment sections; the envious (you know who you are), for a chance to use power they don’t have, to redistribute wealth they don’t have.

              It’s only the slothful (New Orleans, LA) who are truly virtuous, just because they too lazy to do much harm.

              The gluttonous (Omaha, Nebraska) too may qualify for social virtue, because they know by now that the only really good foods are what they raise and eat themselves, while selling the junk to the rest of the country.

              People knew everything they needed to know to run things well in 1820. And here you are all arguing about parties and personality, like the Florentines in 1493. Face it, the institutions are rotten, they’re vestigial, and nothing anyone does will make significant change within the existing framework. So, what; chatter about rolling the guillotines? No, of course not: be legal and sensible. Do what was done in 1780s: insist on an Estates General. Call a constitutional convention. Cripes, people, there’s a wing of the elite doing the same thing: don’t you recognize an opportunity when you see one?

              You can even make a list. Color- and sex-blindness; corporations on a short leash; balanced budget, or if the MMT’ers win, no budget at all. It won’t matter, because once the process gets started, the dynamic will do all the work, and nobody has any notion what the outcome will be.

              All that this writhing around about party and “class,” which, while we’re percentile-ing, less than 1% of the commentators here bother to define, amounts to, is smearing yourselves with oil and—let’s say, wrestling (because this could be a family blog). To give credit where it is due, all of you do appear very competent, or at least well-intentioned, at Sim Nation. But there is a reality waiting for you out there. So if you want to change things, why not start by changing the institutions? And there’s only one way to do that legally.

              Once that gets going, it’s a good thing we have leaders like Franklin, Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton, and Adams here to sort things out properly. Otherwise, you could justifiably fear what might be the outcome, if the chance for real change came a-knocking.

  3. allan

    Lyft and Uber rates surge to unbelievable prices after BART stoppage [SF Gate]

    Thousands of BART passengers were stranded Monday morning after a power line fell near the West Oakland tracks and suspended Transbay Tube service. Many commuters turned to ride-sharing apps Uber or Lyft to attempt to get to work on time faced outrageous surge pricing to commute across the Bay Bridge.

    According to posts on social media, a ride from Oakland to downtown San Francisco was estimated to cost between $60 and $110. The surge also impacted the cheaper ride-sharing options, such as Lyft Line — we saw one estimate at $85. …

    Heightening the contradictions, one unicorn at a time.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Like sharks to a feeding frenzy, they can’t help themselves. It’s who they are.

        The lesson here to people is this: Here’s a preview of what happens when public services are allowed to disappear. Private actors will immediately react by squeezing the life out of you.

        That’s today’s technology focus. Putting predators in a place to feed as quickly and efficiently as possible. Sorry, let me rephrase that….allowing companies to quickly…..ummm….adapt to changing market conditions!!!

      2. JohnnyGL

        Keep in mind, Enron laid out the business model here. Create scarcity, even through artificial means. Exploit quickly. Profit.

        Don’t be surprised if an Uber driver cut the power lines! :) This is just speculation, of course, but all the incentives are there!

      3. Dead Dog

        Or create the conditions which allow them to charge what the market will pay. One well placed ‘accident’ can choke traffic at its peak…

  4. KurtisMayfield

    Microwaves:

    I went looking for one at the website of two stores, unfortunately none of them had WiFi. I was hoping that they would so that if I am experimental with a dish, I could cook it remotely. If your friend is looking for one that lasts, look for a used non-digital one from a yard sale or Sally’s boutique. My recent microwaves haven’t lasted 5 years.

    1. DanB

      And if you are seeking a really great, fantastic, you’re gonna love it one, just email Kelly Ann Conway at the White House for advice. She’s a microwave aficionado.

    2. Romancing The Loan

      Maybe consider not replacing it if your situation allows?

      I realized years ago that all I used the microwave for was heating water for tea, so I just got a kettle. Unless you eat frozen microwaveable meals in the little trays I don’t see what use they have anymore – any other function they have can be replaced by the pressure cooker or the sous vide, which are much more versatile tools of cookery and produce tastier results.

      1. jrs

        i would ask, do you have an oven with a functioning stovetop, a functioning oven compartment, and maybe broiler (although this last part is probably optional). That’s what I use to cook. And I cook regularly. No tech, no appliances. Ok so not everyone wants to go low tech (circa 1950?) with the cooking, but it still works.

        1. aletheia33

          uh-oh, a rant got triggered…

          i believe that microwaves in and of themselves embody crapification of our meals and our lives. second only to the iphone (and maybe facebook and netflix) in deleting from people’s lives the good times of preparing and sharing meals with other human beings. microwaves deliver ersatz food made palatable only by the thought that accompanies eating it of how much “time” one has saved and how little “work” one has gotten away with. is it political? give me a job i have to go to, whether or not i’d rather be working at raising my kids right, that allows me no real free time because the boss can always text and email me, add in a microwave, and voila! i have “hacked” some time to “shop” for my family’s health “care”!

          i read an article recently reporting that GPS is not so good for your cognitive functioning or your enjoyment of a trip. for those benefits, humans still need to do things in slow human-speed time with their hands and eyes and all the other old-fashioned human muscles and sense organs. it turns out that puzzling over maps and observing one’s surroundings are good for humans and make trips more interesting. the same is true of so many things we used to do without devices.

          with a little thought and practice it is easy to make great food in the same amount of time as with a microwave when necessary. no judgment on your friend–she may not have the luxury of going without one, and who can fight the tide on all fronts all the time anyway?

      2. Katharine

        Actually many of us get by with a plain old-fashioned stove and no fancy utensils. Mine, which came with the house, has more features than I want or use. The one I sometimes dream of is an old-fashioned Roper gas range in an apartment I ended up not renting over thirty years ago. It was probably at least forty then, but beautifully maintained, simple, straightforward….

        1. Darius

          A stove may work for some but a microwave is just too damned convenient for me to abandon. That’s one of those things I’ll think about tomorrow.

        2. BeliTsari

          Light range, sear or saute dead critters, tempeh, veggies, fungi, roux… whatever in the thermal cooker you got at the 2nd hand store (Nissan makes them, so does Tayama). Add any beans, legumes, softer vegetables and heat to a simmering boil. Place pot inside your thermos and go about your life. Or you could hang food on the back of your car & hope an autonomous vehicle behind you is using radar?

        3. tongorad

          I grew up with a Chambers range. Not only was it a chrome-topped beauty, it was built like tank and worked a treat.
          Sadly, my mom sold it with the house. Pity.

          I think of it often as I use my crappy apt’s electric range. Cooking with electric sucks.

      3. Elizabeth Burton

        I use one small burner on the stovetop; everything else is done in the toaster oven and the microwave. Because I’m a cripple, so bouncing around the kitchen cooking is no longer an option. Further, there are any number of things one can cook in the microwave these days besides “frozen microwaveable meals in little trays,” and cookware to allow one to do it.

        In other words, there’s nothing wrong with advising people to discard useful tools, but it’s also important to understand one size never did fit all. As for longevity, no, they don’t last like they used to, but in my experience it’s the framework that goes south before the electronics. As with any other important item, it’s necessary to do research before paying.

      4. shargash

        I never use my microwave to cook, but I still use it several times every day, mostly to heat up leftovers, but also to warm a cup of tea/coffee that has been sitting too long, melt butter, soften chocolate, and any number of other things. It is a pretty efficient form of heating, and does not require making additional pots and pans dirty, requiring the use of water and even more energy to clean.

      5. UserFriendly

        Microwaves use so much less energy than a stove or just about any other type of heating element. This isn’t to anyone specific but I don’t get how people rationalize wasting so much energy but still get up in arms about climate change.

    3. Optimader

      My previous MW was 2nd hand, private labrl Amana, it had a broiler and a thermocouple! Never seen another one like it.
      Beautifully built, huge cavity, probably 2nd generation post analog twist timer–membrane pad and red led dislay, so figure late 1970’s.

      Donated to Goodwill in excellent condition. I’l bet it runs another 30-40years.

      Need a microwave and you have a tight budget? Go used.. ebay or Goodwill Industries or the like. You eill itonically probably score sn appliance better than most presently sold new.

      Replaced with a subzero-wolf –doesn’t have a thermocouple:o(

      All price points served: http://m.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_nkw=vintage+amana+microwave
      (Personally i would go with an Amana)

  5. grayslady

    Lambert, regarding microwaves: Amana. Amana was the first, the safest, and continues to be the best. All of Amana’s microwaves have 1200 watts of power and they really work the way they are supposed to in terms of cooking times. My Amana is 15 years old and has never had a repair or a problem, even though I use it at least once a day. My previous Amana was at least 22 years old when I sold it because I needed an over-the-range model. Still a reliable microwave product, amazingly.

    1. Clive

      I’d suggest the cheapest, most basic Panasonic microwave you can find. At least, that’s our experience in England (which, ah-hem, small sample size alert, constitutes no more than my mother in law and I) suggests. I’m sure the same design is used in US market ones too. Anything much fancier than a timer and maybe, if you really want bells and whistles, a power control (“defrost”, “warm” and that sort of thing) is a complete waste of money.

      And I am not at all sold on the idea of “combination” microwaves either (with a conventional convection element) — great in theory as the regular cooking method would brown or toast after rapid microwave heating but they look like they’d be a bugger to clean.

      1. JeffC

        My first attempt to use the convection-cooking feature in a combo microwave/convection oven provided one of the most hysterically memorable experiences of my life.

        I decided to bake bread using convection. I put it in, set the controls and timer, and left home to do some errands. I returned to discover I had accidentally microwaved that loaf at full power for 40 minutes! The house was full of a nasty, acrid smoke that took hours of airing out to remove, and the “bread” was a brick of charcoal. I had to put it outside on the concrete so it could finish smoking in its own good time.

        Been an fan of low-tech cooking ever since.

    2. Optimader

      Yes.. Amana… the old one were seriously overbuilt. The power supply and magnetron not yoo far removed from a radar application. pre-OCD value engineering

  6. oho

    >>Apparently, all it had was an off- and on-switch. Are there any products microwaves these days that haven’t been crapified

    Avoid the cheapest new microwaves. Pay more to something w/better innards.

    Or if you spot one at a garage sale—

    A circa 2000 Made in Korea GE microwave. Serial number/origin should be on a label inside the cooking cavity.

    1. Clive

      Hmm. I wasted £300+ on an all-singing all-dancing microwave from a supposedly top-notch German brand. A total pile of rubbish, unfortunately. You don’t always get what you pay for. But if you do strike it lucky and find an expensive unit that really has got quality parts, I’d agree it’s better to splash out. “If…” being the operative word. Market For Lemons etc.

      1. oho

        in America I’d consider Panasonic as mid-tier brand and definitely worth trying over our entry-level under-$75 offers ( private label brands, entry-level GE, etc).

      2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        It’s hard to invest in something that will last 10 years, but more expensive.

        “I am not sure my marriage and thus the kitchen will last that long, so why pay more?”

        “Besides, I can only afford the 12 month life-span model with my pay.”

        That makes the 10 year life-span model a niche market product…and there’s no room for that in this mass-production to lower cost economy.

        This answers the ‘why won’t consumers fight back and stop making crappy choices’ question.

      3. Dead Dog

        I still remember when they came out commercially and Mum paid $1100 for a Panasonic. That would have been in the early 80s, probably about $5000 in today’s money.

        (Same with our first VHS player, early 80s, about $1000)

        That early microwave is still going, my Brother has it in a beach home. So, 30 plus years.

        Today, you can get an oven for less than $100 You don’t expect it to last more than two or three years, but they are cheap and convenient – think making porridge on stove top.

        Stay away from anything wifi

    2. Huey Long

      My first microwave had no buttons; it had a dial you rotated to set the time and that is all, similar to a toaster oven. It was from the 70’s/80’s and I got it for free off of a buddy who was going to throw it away.

      Unfortunately, it took forever to warm anything up, so when a friend of an ex-girlfriend got married and moved in with her husband, I became the proud owner of her 1998 vintage Kenmore microwave. It is still alive and kicking in my kitchen where I use it exclusively to heat up leftovers.

      We certainly live in a progressive era folks, an era where we are progressing towards further and further crapification across the board. At the rate we’re going in a few years we’ll all be driving Trabants, taking photos with Prakticas, and living in Panelaks.

    3. IDontKnow

      There are commercial microwaves (Think 7-11 stores) which last, and can take a beating, but the costs. Regarding Microwaves, nearly all electronics now have capacitors in them that will hardly last 5 years, often 1 year is a minor miracle. It’s not tractors, or consumer goods, that speed a lot worrying about it, but businesses like aircraft builders (and maintenance organs), power grids, etc.

      AS5553, Counterfeit Electronic Parts; Avoidance, Detection, Mitigation, and Disposition Verification Criteria

      Thank you, neo-liberals, for your world trade, you did just allow for your tax avoidance and enslavement of the working class, but the crapification of the entire chain of supply. Yeah, Bill and Hillary, I’m talking about you and the Bush family, and your whole gang of goons.

    4. Mo's Bike Shop

      Check the replacement parts websites for the model number you are looking at. That will weed out department store super cheapies. And the parts that wear are pretty cheap.

      I also noticed when last shopping that there are two basic keypads in the US models. One sets defrost with repeated presses, the other works by pressing the PW button then a number. I prefer the latter.

      1. polecat

        I remember how yuuuuuge the first microwave ovens where, and thinking at the time, how even yuuuuuger the Russian models probably were …. like a whole city block kinda yuuuuuuuuuuuuge !

        Touching one of those things made me feel like one of those early hominids from 2001, in total awe of that big black monolith … ‘;]

  7. Katharine

    Yes, yard sales or garage sales are worth a try. Some of my relatives have even picked up larger appliances that way.

    And, all you underemployed electrical engineers, if you can do repairs there’s a market.

  8. different clue

    As others have already said; yard sales, garage sales, Salvation Army and other second hand stores, Ebay, and other such places for old fashioned legacy microwaves.

    And yes, if the current owners of legacy microwaves were committed to keeping them repaired, then electrical engineers and others could risk trying to make a living fixing them ( and other legacy appliances).

  9. Pat

    When I had to replace my decade old microwave a couple of years ago I went cheap and hit my minimum .9 cubic feet, minimum 900 watts. I bought an Oster on sale at K-Mart, and at the time I got it for a little over 50 bucks plus tax. Yes it is digital and has presettings which I don’t use but for the last two years it has given me decent service. MY major uses being heating frozen dinners, melting baking ingredients, steaming vegetables, and occasionally even cooking a meal with no problems other than the plate on the carousel being easy to destabilize.

    This appears to be my model or similar which is still under a hundred but more than I paid for it:
    http://www.kmart.com/oster-digital-9-cu-ft-microwave/p-011W005241294001P?plpSellerId=Kmart&prdNo=3&blockNo=3&blockType=G3
    K Mart has a similar but higher rated Kenmore for about the same price and a smaller lower powered Oster for $50. I don’t know if this helps, but you can’t really avoid crapification. I say just figure out what your minimum requirements are, meet them, and jettison everything else. If you don’t need power and limited interior space is adequate there may still be a dial based microwave out there, but at first glance they are getting to be rare indeed.

  10. nobody

    No direct experience with this microwave but if I remember right when I was researching them I was leaning toward the Sharp Electronics R-21LCF. Basic dial; no whistles or wifi, sturdy…

  11. ChuckO

    There are plenty of basic microwave ovens without internet connections out there. I recently bought one made by Black & Decker at a Target store.

    1. craazyboy

      The really cool part being if you happen to have the mating garage door opener – the kind that auto manufacturers build into the auto dimming rearview mirror that gets included for only $300 buried somewhere in the sticker pricing of a new car – that is microwave compatible and can auto switch the microwave to ON when you are on final approach in your sub division coming in for an auto park in your or even the neighbor’s driveway, depending on GPS signal strength. The Version 2 mirror models now include improved GPS shielding! If you remembered to put the frozen microwave dinner in that morning – it will be piping hot just in time as you walk thru the remotely unlocked and opened front door to your newish home!

      1. JustAnObserver

        Nah! The hacker that’s just leaving has eaten it … washed down with all that $100 wine you’ve been keeping to impress the Hillary fangirls.

        1. craazyboy

          CloudStrike has a security service contract for that. They’ve partnered with Truly Nolen and offer a discount on termite service too, when buying the packaged home protection service!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The public zombie option always gets defrosted and starts stumbling around eating liberal brains when single payer gets traction. So I don’t like this at all.

      That said, I don’t trust any of the reporting and I want to see the bill.

  12. David, by the lake

    Re Southern 3rd party

    I think that regionalism is far more prevalent than our national narrative allows for, the South merely being the most noticeable due to a certain incident 150+ years ago. But as federal governance falls further and further into dysfunction and the costs of empire mount, those regional tensions, which have never been truly resolved but only papered over, will rise to the surface again. This will manifest over decades, and by the end of this century, I think our domestic politics will look very different. Another reason that regional and local solutions are a much better investment of our efforts.

    1. Carolinian

      I was walking around my little ville’s downtown earlier today and marveling at the renaissance that is taking place. Long abandoned stores are being turned into shops and arcades while our onetime leading department store is remodeled into condominiums. The South is changing I think, and our politics are lagging behind, just as they are nationally. But yes historically the highly class structured region has shown loyalty to one party or the other with a long transition period from Dem to Repub in the latter 20th century. Still I suspect SC is on the way to becoming more like NC–more purple than red. After all we did get rid of Nikki Haley.

      1. Katharine

        But consider the damage already done to N.C. before it started turning purple. It has gone so far downhill that payment processing for my credit card, which had been in Delaware for well over thirty years, has moved to North Carolina. I don’t know what inducements may have been offered but suspect really terrible pay standards and worker rights.

        1. Carolinian

          Uh, maybe because Charlotte is a major banking center. It’s not exactly Dogpatch either–there’s a Starbucks on every corner.

          1. Darius

            It would help if the Democrats contested Southern states. But, you know. Corruption and all.

      2. Sam Adams

        But got McMasters. Some exchange.
        My take? In The South there is always an idiot cousin who needs a jawb.

        1. Carolinian

          I may have to complain to Lambert about the rampant regionalism around here (kidding!).

    2. PH

      There is something to be said for state actions, but two problems pop up regularly: competition for tax breaks or less regulation with neighboring states, and lack of a large tax base for programs.

      As an aside, I note that the sense of regional identity is not always rational. For example, many people in Rocky Mountain states like to fancy themselves as self-reliant individualists compared to effete Easterners looking for hand-outs, while their states take in much more Federal tax money than they generate, and they get indirect subsidies from laws allowing reckless economic activity on Federal lands. Good people, but the self-righteous speeches wear thin. Like all self-righteous speeches. (Note to self)

  13. diogenes

    “Southern Conservatives Are America’s Third Party”

    I’m a southerner of five decades, and my family has been here since we were a colony. When I was a kid, all there was were yellow-dogs, and we loved FDR. Dad remembered when the REA brought electricity to their farm house. LBJ called it with Civil Rights legislation, Nixon played the cards right and now Democrats are an endangered species.

    It is not all racism, however. This was on the airwaves when I was a young man, and it captured a populist sentiment that was already passing:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHdXQAQHjd8

    It was once said on Firedoglake that if Democrats can’t speak to working peoples’ economic issues, those folks will vote their culture. And part of Scotch-Irish-Northumbrian culture is an inherited suspicion of outsiders – Albion’s Seed is the best explanation I’ve read. In brief, the border country, Scotland and Ireland had no love lost for the British crown, and depended on their local clan.

    A lot of stuff has changed, and a lot has remained the same. At bottom, the heirs of the plantation owners are the shot callers.

    1. Swamp Yankee

      Diogenes, couldn’t agree more about the greatness of Albion’s Seed. It is one of the best treatments of regionalism in the Anglo-American Atlantic world. A lot of the basis of some of the more journalistic treatments that have appeared lately (e.g., Colin Woodard, others).

      The idea of the four “hearth commonwealths” and their corresponding British regions — Massachusetts (East Anglia), Virginia (the South and west of England), Pennsylvania, (the Midlands) and Kentucky (the Borders, as you say) — really fleshes out some of the ideas that were put forth a century ago or so by Frederick Jackson Turner in “The Influence of Section in American History.” His frontier thesis is much more widely known, but the arguments on section are deep and profoundly influential for later American historiography. Someone once pointed out that Virginia and Massachusetts fought on the opposite sides of civil wars in both the 1860s and 1640s (though on the same side, of course, in the 1770s-80s).

      Even more than the political-economic aspects of Fischer’s book (Albion’s Seed), some of the anthropological details on housing, dress, land tenure systems, foodways — these are just splendid. Fried fish in the South vs. baked fish in New England, as one more recent paper has demonstrated, have roots in British regional foodways. The book is chock full of wonderful details like these. I can’t highly recommend it enough. I read it as an undergraduate and it left a lasting influence on my understanding of U.S. historical development.

      One friend from South America always remarks how in Iberian-America, the US would be a number of nation-states (“you’re not a country, you’re a continent!” he says, with accuracy).

      Glad to find a fellow Fischer fan around here!

      1. JerseyJeffersonian

        Swamp Yankee,

        Don’t forget that there were a lot of Loyalists in the South during the Revolutionary War, and were it not for the skill of General Horatio Gates and the timely intercession of the French, they may have yet prevailed. After the particularly vicious civil war ongoing in the South during the Revolutionary War, many of the Loyalists decamped for Canada or other loyalist colonies. These emigre Loyalists stiffened the resistance against American invasion of Canada during the War of 1812.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          Yes, absolutely — a crucial and neglected point about the vicious partisan warfare in the backcountry South, and particularly the Carolinas, as well as the fertile ground for Loyalism there. I’ve always been especially fond of the Battle of Cowpens and the early Carolina proto-cowboys. I was thinking more in my comment (about VA and MA on the same side) about the role of leading Virginia Whigs alongside their New England counterparts in the 1770s, but the backcountry up and down the southern colonies was a “dark and bloody ground”. While there was certainly deep-seated conflict in the northern backcountry (the Green Mountain Boys, Maine’s “Liberty Men”, etc), it lacked the same fratricidal ferocity of the southern backcountry during the Revolutionary War. Comparisons with the Bushwhackers of the Missouri border during the Civil War (Scots-Irish/Borderers, upland South, pastoralism, feuding traditions) come to mind.

      2. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

        Swamp Yankee, I’ll try and have a look at Albion’s Seed.

        I’d be interested to hear your opinion of ‘The China Mirage – The Hidden History of American Disaster In Asia’ by James Bradley. For me it made some major parts of the ‘How The Bleep did We Get Here’ jig-saw puzzle slot into place.

        FDR, Luce, Dean Acheson, Generalisimo Cash My Check, the China Lobby and McCarthyism, practically blew my tiny mind.

        The main question that comes from reading it is whether the U.S. has learned the lesson that you need your own, absolutely trusted (not gone native) foreign language speakers – otherwise you are going to have your military fighting wars for foreigners who have spun you a line.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          AbateMagicThinking but Not money —

          I don’t know Bradley’s book — am an early American historian by training — but will have to take a look at it. It looks pretty worthwhile, and certainly sounds like it offers up a lot of crucial context for the longstanding US/Western involvement in what was once called “the China trade” (e.g. resource-poor Yankee seafarers to PNW coast, Falkland Islands, elsewhere, hunting seals — seal skins for Chinese luxury consumption — with tea and porcelain brought back home with a large profit) and that made the fortunes of the Boston counting houses that soon became part of the Too Big to Fail financial complex — State Street comes to mind — in the late 18th-early 19th centuries. Like you say, in the 20th century, with a strong missionary flavor added, this turned into “the China lobby”. And man, Madame “Cash My Check” was still intervening in our elections in 1968!

          If you get a chance, US Genl “Vinegar” Joe Stillwell’s diaries from his time with the British and Chinese in Asia during WWII are priceless and hilarious (albeit dark) reading. Stillwell didn’t pull his punches and found both Chinese nationalists and British imperialists infuriating to deal with. I believe Barbara Tuchmann wrote a volume about Stillwell with the warlords in the 20s, but I’ve only read a short excerpt.

          Thanks for the recommendation of Bradley. I think the lesson you draw is extremely apt — when you lack local knowledge, you are even more at local mercies. Some of the newer work on colonial encounters emphasizes this aspect (Kathleen Du Val’s _The Native Ground_ is an excellent treatment of Franco-Native relations along the Arkansas River, e.g., and truly fascinating). Thanks again — my reading list is getting long, but that’s not so bad a thing! ;)

          1. AbateMagicThinking but Not money

            Swamp Yankee…

            It seems that you are up on guts of ‘The China Mirage’. I wonder how widely the China Lobby is known in the U.S. today.

            From what I read about Vinegar Joe, he did not want the gig in WW2. I imagine he’d already seen enough of the Chinese nationalist methods prior to Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately for him he had the language skills necessary, but not the temperament for the unenviable task he was given.

            Thanks for the reading tips. Like you, I have a lot of reading on the go. but I generally look at what is available in my local library. I’m just starting a book about Sicily by John Julius Norwich, because it covers the Norman invasion which was prior to their conquest of England in 1066. Brisbane public libraries are amazing!

            You mentioned Franco-Native relations; as I understand it, back then most inhabitants of France did not speak french, so I wonder how that played out.

            Try Spike Milligan’s ‘Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall’ and his other war memoirs.

            ps Don’t let the bastards grind you down.

            1. Swamp Yankee

              AMT but N m,

              You say it well! Also a huge fan of my local public library here in southeastern Massachusetts. Will add Milligan as well, have seen it referenced widely. And yes, it would have been _tres_dificile_ for Provencals and Bretons to intelligibly converse in 1680! And man, those Normans were everywhere!

              p.s. Nor you, my friend! Keep up the good work in Brisbane!

      3. aletheia33

        swamp yankee,
        thanks for these pointers to albion’s seed and the influence of section, which i will now find. i stumbled across an article in smithsonian a few years ago with a map showing the distribution of several different original groups (by type/origin) as they moved west from their original landing/settling regions on the east coast, and how stable these regions still are in populations descended from these original settlers, still determining of culture and outlook today. since then i’ve longed for more to read on this phenomenon and you’ve provided it. it’s especially difficult for the layperson to evaluate the work of historians of decades ago–what are the “keepers.” please continue to share this kind of info here!

        1. Swamp Yankee

          aletheia33,

          Thanks so much! Glad to be of service! I think one of the problems we have today is the locking of history in the cage of academia. Explaining historical thinking, the development of historical interpretations to the public in intelligible and direct language (as opposed to self-referential and regarding jargon) has become actively sneered at by the “profession” side of history. A major mistake in my view, morally and politically. Will definitely leave some more “keepers” here in comments as the days go on.

          Quick e.g.: just off the top of my head, not riveting per se but very valuable — I remember enjoying Susan Gray’s _The Yankee West_, about the 19th c. development of Michigan. Indeed, Michigan was called “The Third New England” (after upstate/western New York) c. 1900. Mass migration by southerners, white and black, was not a factor before the development of the auto industry. Maybe it struck me personally, b/c I’m from Massachusetts but went to grad school in Michigan and made those long drives from the sea to the Lakes many times, through all those towns with statues of Union soldiers on their common…. It was those drives (I-86 is lovely) that made me give credence to Chris Arnade on twitter — he was sharing images of towns and places I knew personally that _no one_ in the national overclass was even aware existed, it seemed. But I digress!

          Thanks again.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            One of the insights Chris Arnade had is how attached people become to place; I see this all the time in Maine. It strikes me that this sense of place is ripe for a marriage with “historical interpretations [presented to]* the public in intelligible and direct language.”

            * Created by?

            1. Swamp Yankee

              Lambert, I couldn’t agree more. Indeed, it’s what I wrote my doctoral dissertation on (currently working on a manuscript version) — my native Plymouth County, Mass., its ecological, political, and economic history in the 18th century (the single item that comes up the most in Town Meetings? Herring. Those familiar w/ New England herring runs will know the power they wield over the heart and mind and soul). When I tell people locally what I am working on, esp. herring, they get enthusiastic about history in a way that is totally absent from the class-imperialism of elite academic “discourse”, that gated community of the mind! I’m extremely grateful for the work Arnade does — and indeed, Naked Capitalism as well (even if I can be a sharp-tongued critic at times). Thanks for the good work, and I hope all is well at the other end of the Gulf of Maine.

            2. PhilM

              De Tocqueville observed that the ethic that created the peerlessly successful, even instinctive, democracy in America, was derived from the customs, religion, and political forms of the New England township.

              To the extent we have a founding myth, there it lies; neither dead nor buried, if you have the guts to live in a New England village. There are a lot of bright spots that one must live there for years to see; although in March, one wonders if that’s not just that one’s eyes have grown accustomed to the eternal gloom.

              1. Swamp Yankee

                Beautifully put, and makes me even more grateful for open Town Meeting.

                And today _was_ gloomy — but in such a pretty way!

  14. Carey

    The Palmieri article at WaPo seems to me like a signify a real doubling-down by the Few.
    Utterly fact-free certitude. How is this different from Goebbels’s prescription?

  15. CW

    Thank you for posting my pic of the banana flower and fruits, Lambert. I’ve never grown them before, so to have one flower from your own efforts was just such an exciting moment
    I am fortunate to live in the Australian tropics in Far North Queensland and, as we head into our dry, winter, period, there are still heaps and heaps of flowers in our garden. (Our temps average around 18c at night and 27c in day in winter.)
    We see sunbirds, cockatoos, friar birds, finches, pigeons, kingfishers, Kookaburras, metallic starlings. At night, fruit bats fly in to roost, feed and cavort on the large 30m ficus on our back boundary.
    I don’t have a good camera, just cheap phone, and this is first time I got everything in focus. In the picture, you can just see the native bees which are feeding on the nectar at the end of the fruits. Some of these will undoubtedly have come from a hive in an exterior wall of our old wooden house.
    See the occasional fat bumblebee, but not many these days.
    Thanks again

  16. Randy

    About the microwave.

    If you have time hunt around on Craigslist for one of the late 1980’s early 1990’s vintage. My Sears microwave I bought in 1985 still works flawlessly and shows no signs of giving out.

  17. Atypical

    Ian 5:31 pm

    One of the most significant reasons to withhold support from those that appear to be more open about their (“acceptable”) aims than the hypocritical dems is that there is NO evidence that their word is any more trustworthy than the hated dems.

    The current admin has NO fixed standards as has been overwhelmingly proved; there are many who are as supposedly bloodthirsty toward Russia as any on the other side. As to the cancelled/possibly renegotiated trade agreements, there is no assurance that these will be unaltered, or permanent, and therefore beneficial.

    There are cyclonic forces swirling but it seems that there is only skepticism being expressed toward dem actions.

    1. Marina Bart

      There is a great deal of skepticism expressed towards the current government here and everywhere on the left. Your statement is usually an indication that a paid Hillbot has arrived, or an unpaid amateur whose cognitive dissonance is driving them to support their oppressors by doing Brockian skut work for free.

      I can’t tell what your deal is. But the reason leftists like me focus more energy on attacking liberals is that it is the liberals who have TWICE now successfully blocked the American people’s demand for leftward change, first with the conservative corporatist in faux community organizer skin Barack Obama, and now by forcing Hillary Clinton in as the Democratic presidential nominee and selecting Donald Trump as her opponent, giving us — as all the polling showed in the Spring — Trump, rather than Bernie Sanders, who would have won.

      It is the Democratic establishment that is the enemy of the left, of progress, of decency, and of humanity. Absent their repulsive, abusive and deceitful actions, the Kochs, their minions and their ilk would all be boxed up and shoved in the back of a warehouse somewhere alongside the arc of the Covenant.

      Trump undermined Ryan. Hillary would have partnered with Ryan. She signaled this strongly throughout the campaign. As a gentle reminder, the Kochs — Ryan’s patrons and functional owners — were also instrumental in funding the DLC and launching the Clintons on the national scene.

      1. Atypical

        “Your statement is usually an indication that a paid Hillbot has arrived, or an unpaid amateur whose cognitive dissonance is driving them to support their oppressors by doing Brockian skut work for free.”

        Wrong on all counts.

        “It is the Democratic establishment that is the enemy of the left, of progress, of decency, and of humanity.”

        True to an extent and I also recognize how HRC and the DNC bear responsibility for what we have now.

        But your disinterest in also directing your strong epithets toward the repulsive inhabitants of the current government (where they also apply) speaks volumes – which is the point.

        I know what YOUR deal is.

  18. ChrisPacific

    Well. So if the Democrats were in charge, we’d be at war with Russia already? This based on the fact that there was a phishing attack against Democrats by persons who may or may not have been Russian, and who may or may not have been acting on authorization of the Russian government. Bearing in mind that even if we accept the CIA’s version of the story without proof, it’s still an ‘assessment’ in their terms (i.e., educated guess) and not a proven fact. And of course we also have a bunch of allegations about Russian hacking of the election proper which have been denied by pretty much everyone, including the intelligence agencies, but nonetheless are regarded as true by much of the electorate due to a misinformation campaign (similar to how “Iraq was responsible for 9/11” took hold). Along with Democrats themselves, of course.

    And they accuse Trump of believing things that have no basis in reality? Tell me again how this is supposed to convince us that they can be trusted to run a country?

  19. TarheelDemr

    On “Southern Conservative are America’s Third Party”….Start with this assertion:

    Southern conservatism held two supreme prerogatives: 1) Central government must remain as weak as possible, and 2) White racial and cultural supremacy must be enforced at all costs. Divisions of class and profession that influenced partisan alignments elsewhere in the US were suppressed in the South under the larger banner of racial solidarity.

    If that is the definition of Southern Conservatism, that third party exists all over the United States (and the symbols are there, Confederate flags in upstate New York and Michigan and Iowa, state that sent soldiers to fight for the Union).

    So how did we get from the Southern Conservatism that Rutherford B. Hayes let loose in 1876 in the name of “home rule” to the more complicated Southern Conservatism cum neo-Nazism that passes for a part of the so-called Alt-Right.

    The path, I think, leads through Kevin Phillips,Pat Robertson’s flunky Ralph Reed, and Lee Atwater. Phillips engineered the ethnic strategy of the Nixon campaign to use patriotism in support of the Vietnam War among urban Catholic ethnics and Southern Democrats as a wedge to split the FDR coalition, tapping their reaction to LBJ’s civil rights acts and his War on Poverty. That made the Democrats competitive in and outside the South and created the brief national two-party system that existed until 2000. Ralph Reed was the point man for assembling the coalition of Southern Baptists, urban ethnic Catholics, and Pentecostals across the nation around the issue of “family values”, pointed on various sexuality issues, prayer in the public schools, and school vouchers for sectarian schools, which often were the basis of resegregation. This made the Nixon ethnic strategy a permanent wing of the Republican Party and reversed the backsliding that occurred in electing Jimmy Carter. It brought Ronald Reagan to the White House with “Sothern Conservative” votes from Yakima, WA to Miami, FL. Lee Atwater adopted the take-no-prisoners propaganda style (as opposed to Ike’s toothpaste marketing style) of campaigning, injecting what became known as “the race card” into the 1988 campaign against Mike Dukakis, a superfluous gesture, given Dukakis’ appeal to strength from a tank. Still in 1992, most of the nation, including most of the South, despite Jesse Helms’s best efforts remained a two-party system. You saw that beginning to change in the Clinton administration when longtime Democrats like Richard Shelby switched to the Republican Party. Newt Gingrich consolidated that into Congressional power in 1994 and the entire House Republican caucus became reconfigured as a Southern Conservative House in prosecuting the Whitewater and Monica investigations.

    The 1990s broke a lot of Congressional two-party courtesy norms as the culture war became transmogrified into an extension of post-1875 Southern resistance. George W. Bush’s election was a triumph of the culture war; it broke the electoral system. For Southern Conservatives, it was the Mississippi Plan of 1875 all over again and in the 2002 election they succeeded in purging most of the Democrats from Southern states, including war hero Max Cleland in a portrayal of him as a traitor. Saxby’s finest moment.

    National elections became more than two-party elections when there were regional divisions in the parties. There was from the beginning a Southern Conservative party; it was the remains of the anti-Federalists like Patrick Henry that never joined in the Jefferson-Madison-Monroe Plantation party that ruled foreign relations until 1860.

    The mistake is to consider today’s Southern Conservatives as residing only in the South, to characterize them as “good ole boys” or “hillbillies”. A look at the denizens of Southern legislatures will dispel who that is and who elects them. And their ideological brethren stretch across the country. Rural ethnic protestantism certainly has come to the fore with the DeVos nomination and the midwest states that swung just enough to tip the election. Yet another Democratic constituency peeled off through the appeal of a Southern Conservative message. The 49-year-old strategy of the GOP has been to peel off Democratic constituencies through Southern Conservative rhetoric.

    It is hardly a third party now. Its supporters likely are even in Manhattan, San Francisco and Silicon Valley.

    1. Carolinian

      The irony of it is that these days the south may be the region where race is less, not more of a factor. The southern new urbanism that I describe upthread has come to pass in part because core parts of the city, always largely African American, have become less threatening to white people. White flight was always one of the major drivers of suburbanization.

      And I agree that while the coastals often try to pretend there are large regional differences, the country is becoming increasingly homogenized through the influence of television and the internet. Much of this stereotyping rhetoric is intended to do what it always has done–disguise the fact that class is the real divide.

      1. TarheelDem

        Indeed. The heritages of institutional segregation and geographic segregation play out differently. With desegregation of institutions forced by courts and courts allowing geographical segregation as an out, Southern urbanism has created areas of reconciliation and transplant suburbs have created melting pots of the global 10%. Regional billionaires are still celebrated as they were in the days of the Candlers and Dukes. In North Carolina, the consequences of the Tobacco Setllement and the globalizing of the tobacco industry do not get the play that the collapse of the Southern textile and furniture industries do. Or the rise of the Southern automobile and auto parts industries. Homogenization means that Nashville culture, Christian Broadcasting Network, and Duck Dynasty have gone national and have had wide-ranging effects on local culture and identity thousand of miles away from the South. Just as rock-and-roll and blues did 50-60 years ago. Even the nature of the way in which Southern politics becomes corrupted has become national. Exhibit: the corporate front-man Pat McCrory.

    2. JTFaraday

      Else where on forbes the author has an article on libertarianism, and he flags Goldwater’s run in 1964, immediately following the passage of civil rights under Johnson.

  20. LT

    Re: The Hill on Russia investigation

    “Political Pearl Harbor…”
    That phrase is a talking point sign post for this particular intrigue. Whenever you hear it, you have to drink a shot.

  21. allan

    Eric Cantor (R-Blob) puts in his $800/hour on the importance of balancing public and private financing for infrastructure:

    … Everyone who has seriously examined the challenge of rebuilding the nation understands that the solution requires both public and private investment. [So I’m not serious. Who knew?] The magnitude of the need demands that we motivate investment from the widest possible array of sources — both public and private.

    Moreover, infrastructure projects face different funding challenges and should have available to them as broad a suite of options as possible. In many cases, the answer can be found with more avenues and opportunities for private investment. However, private investment may not be the best fit for every project which speaks to the need for a continued public commitment to infrastructure. [So, the default is private and one has to make an argument for public.] …

    Not surprisingly, the best path forward doesn’t fit into the rigid ideologies of the extremes of either party. Those on the far left deride incentives for private financing as “corporate welfare.” Meanwhile, those on the far right oppose any public financing. Progress requires incorporating the best ideas of both parties. [David Broder approves of this message.]

    In an effort to anchor a productive national debate, several organizations from the left, right and center have joined together to create the Coalition to Modernize American Infrastructure. [Yes, it’s as bad as you might imagine.] …

    Strangely, Cantor makes no comparison of the interest rates that the market demands for long term borrowing
    by the Treasury vs. by the infrastructure profiteers who are paying Cantor’s salary.

  22. bun

    [Some Research] “is embattled in a raging replication crisis, in which researchers are unable to reproduce a number of key findings. On the front lines of this conflict is psychology. In a 2015 review of 98 original psychology papers, just 36 percent of attempted replications returned significant results, whereas 97 percent of the original studies did” [RealClearScience].

    (fixed it for them)

    No, science is not. A few subfields that call themselves “science”, but really are not, like psychology, could very well be. And some subfields that really are science, but are hopelessly infected by the corporate $$ virus, like pharmacy and cancer research, could be as well. But most of the fields that practise science do not have this problem.

    The reasons for this are clear. “Research” does NOT equal “Science”.

    A lot of what is marketed as ‘science’ in psychology, sociology (and don’t get me started about) economics, is really just ‘research’. Science is a process that DEMANDS verification and replication – if that doesn’t happen, it ain’t science. That is why CERN built two detectors, at a billion-dollars a piece, each staffed by scientists who are not allowed to talk to each other, to confirm whether or not they actually detected a Higgs Boson if they found one (they did).

    And if there is no pecuniary gain to be had by one’s research, then there is no incentive to lie, cover up, etc the results. In ‘pure’ (for the lack of a better term) science, one’s reputation is built one’s ideas and trustworthiness, which comes from people checking your contributions and verifying it to be correct. Anyone in these fields caught fabricating or flagrantly hyping unverifiable results (it does happen) are soon out the proverbial door. There is a good reason why these replication problems are cited most often in medical biology and pharmacy – the money (grants, salaries, etc) is HUGE and dreams of a 1% living are almost close enough to touch…

    so please, next time you hear that “science” has this or that “crisis”, please replace “science” with “some research”, and move on.

    (yes, yes, I am a physicist, and this false equating of psychology, pharmacy “science” = ALL science drives me up the wall)

    1. Nick

      Nice to hear about CERN x2, but has a similar systematic attempt at replication been made for studies in physics? And if so, what % of results came back the same way?

    2. PhilM

      Thank you, this is an articulate critique. It matches the revulsion I feel whenever I open a copy of American Family Physician these days. Doctors can’t get the continuing medical education credits unless they subscribe to the print version (which is actually included with their association membership). You already know why that is, right? There are no drug ads in the online version….

  23. IDontKnow

    Further to “If it’s an act of war, then you’ve got to start thinking of your response to that sort of thing.”

    Did China Quietly Authorize Law Enforcement to Access Data Anywhere in the World? – Lawfare On September 20, 2016 the Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate (China’s prosecutor), and the Public Security Bureau jointly released 30 regulations governing the collection and examination of digital data in criminal investigations. Unsurprisingly, the regulations were primarily only of interest to Chinese judges, lawyers, and public security officials. Tucked in among the relatively mundane provisions, however, was a potentially rather alarming development that has thus far escaped much public notice in the United States. The regulations seem to authorize the unilateral extraction of data concerning anyone (or any company) being investigated under Chinese criminal law from servers and hard drives located outside of China.

    h/t – sinocisim newsletter.

    Per BBC articles on Xi Ji Ping, Gu Kai Lai and Bo Xi Lai, the Chinese don’t just copy the data, but then usually wipe what they have taken.

    On comment security, when will NC get a secure (encrypted) url?

  24. Big River Bandido

    “The US added 400,000 millionaire households in 2016” [Business Insider]. “To characterize the current period as being “an economic malaise” or “a total disaster” is in direct contradiction of the actual facts. Hardworking families are being rewarded for the money they’re saving and investing. Not all of them – which is a different topic – but most of them.”

    “Working families” language is a bullshit tell to me.

    1. IDontKnow

      Your right, a lot of those are “investor” immigrants. which these days mean mostly China (and to a lesser extent S Korean, Vietnamese, Afgan, etc) immigrants who have stolen/grafted money and are looking for a bolt hole in the USA. USA is now a bigger place for money laundry than London.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      No millionaire can survive a bad health episode.

      It’s malaise when these new 400,000 millionaires still can’t survive a bad health episode.

      It’s why, for millionaires, it’s a total disaster, and also a total disaster for anyone who is not a billionaire.

  25. Tim

    Lambert, get a commercial grade countertop microwave. They’ve got them at my work. Just a knob for time. I would probably miss the popcorn settting but that is it. THey are consistent fast and reliable, microwaving dozens of frozen dinners for lunch every day.

    Because they are devoid of features they are probably not too expensive.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      A somewhat related question.

      Does microwave cooking destroy nutrients? Is that only from the raw-food perspective, or is microwave cooking really somewhat different from stove top or traditional oven cooking? I use microwave only reluctantly.

      1. Marina Bart

        I used to go to a fair bit of trouble to steam vegetables rather than microwave them because supposedly, that was a far superior way to protect and absorb the nutritional benefits. But I’ve read some pieces in the last few years suggesting that’s not true. I haven’t done anything systematic to determine whether that’s true, though.

        If you find something really dispositive, share here, if you can.

      2. grayslady

        The only way a microwave is going to destroy nutrients is if you overcook the food–same as if you overcook food on the stove top or in the oven! The microwave is an excellent way to steam vegetables, cook rice or even hard boil (or soft boil) an egg. Microwaves are simply a method of causing molecules, especially water molecules, to move fast, thereby generating heat. Microwaves typically use less energy than a stove or oven, especially if the food can be cooked at full power. They are also great for cooking in the summer months because the equipment doesn’t heat up, only the food and the container are heated.

        1. UserFriendly

          +1
          Just be careful to use microwave safe containers. Some plastics are fine, others are not, packaging should say if it is safe. When in doubt just use regular ceramic dishes.

          As far as the nutrients goes microwaves may have a slightly higher tendency to spot heat very fast. Which is why things like hot dogs jump around. I can’t say I’ve ever steamed vegetables but if there is a lot of excess water that is added you should be fine, if it is just the veggies they might spot heat and cause the cell membranes to explode and release some nutrients. This could be mitigated by heating at a lower power setting if you hear popping.

  26. flora

    New Cold War.

    Interesting. Reads like the Dems are desperately stroking the MIC and Intel communities. Is Trump’s increased defense spending starting to win over the MIC?

    or maybe its about Dems keeping the hysteria knob turned up to 11.

    “Here and abroad the hallucination ‘Trump-is-Hitler’ made the usual business of politics very difficult. A crisis of legitimacy loomed. But all that is suddenly behind us now. In other words, We just went from an extraordinary risk (Trump=Hitler) to ordinary politics (The other side=incompetent). ”

    zomg! ordinary politic?!?!! can’t have that! /s

  27. Ulysses

    Thanks for highlighting the IC contingent faculty story Lambert!!! We all expected that the strike– called for the 28th– would most likely happen. Very early this morning I learned that ten straight hours of tough negotiations had brought these happy results!

    IC was pushed into doing the right thing a few years ago– through community pressure when the Ithaca city government refused to recognize the college as a “living wage” employer. The college had allowed the subcontracting Sodexho corporation to pay food service workers less than the local Living Wage, as determined by the AFCU survey.

    http://whcuradio.com/news/025520-credit-union-estimates-living-wage-for-tompkins-county/

  28. Oregoncharles

    “‘Russia is a threat’: Estonia frets about its neighbor”
    Without reading the article: if I were Estonia, I’d fret about Russia, too. They were a colony for a long time, and still have a menacingly large neighbor. Mexico frets about the US, too, to say nothing of Cuba. The same goes for essentially all the East European countries – Belarus, for instance, makes it a consistent policy to placate Russia.

    There is a real dilemma there. However, i think that provoking Russia is probably the worst way to approach it. The former Russian colonies would be safer under a peace and security regime in Europe. Just joining the EU not only subjected them to institutional neoliberalism, the last thing they needed; it also served as a provocation where they really needed friendship.

  29. John k

    Somebody here got me hooked on jimmy dore clips…
    Dem elites’ objectives is more to get rich than to get popular, as Bernie is. So even though he has proved the formula, nobody can or will copy it.

    1. Marina Bart

      That was hilarious. The numerous scolding quotes from the Dems that the pollsters need to change things up (leaving unsaid that these same Dems refuse to change themselves) were…quite something.

      This has gotta be another performance to distract the donors. Knowing those rural voters were out there disliking Clinton would not have made the slightest difference in the outcome. The article talks about how the polling in the upper midwest was wrong. But the Clinton campaign was getting ground level reports about this problem, which it just ignored. She lost Michigan in the primary. What polling will actually be more accepted and acted upon than an actual election day loss?

      There are so many easier, more useful lessons to learn from the information reported in the story. Maybe don’t demonize your opponent so much that people won’t be honest with pollsters about their thinking? Maybe run on broadly popular policies with a 50 state strategy of grassroots registration and contact? But no, of course the Democrats default to “We just need to count them better! We need better experts with better processes and better technologies! We don’t need no stinkin’ changes in policies or candidates!”

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