2:00PM Water Cooler 8/25/2016

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

A little behind today. More shortly! –lambert


“More than 10 months after the conclusion of talks on the TPP, most of the 28 Democrats in House and the 13 in the Senate who voted in favor of trade promotion authority still have not taken a public position on the landmark 12-nation agreement — but they say they’re working on it” [Politico]. Shorter, certainly for the lame ducks: “How much?”

“Political left assails [Rep. Jim Costa] over Trans-Pacific Partnership” [Fresno Bee]. Costa, so far, is neutral. “Ghan said both the Fresno-Madera-Tulare-Kings Central Labor Council and the larger California Labor Federation – longtime Costa supporters – are officially neutral in the race, and the reason is that Costa hasn’t come out against the TPP.”



“Obliging a Donor Is Not Necessarily Criminal” [Ruth Marcus, RealClearPolitics]. “Obliging.” Shows the complete collapse of political class legitimacy; if they can’t tell the difference between what’s legal and what’s ethical, what remains?

UPDATE “The Clinton Foundation has been called a shakedown racket because it wasn’t trading access for donations — it was going to people who were already going to get access, and asking them to pay a toll for it. Is that a problem? Well, that depends on how you feel about a former President and a hopeful future President creating an organization with their name on it, hobnobbing with the rich and famous all over the world on the organization’s dime, having the organization hire their relatives and long-time aides — and having the organization be a charity” [The American Convervative]. “[B]ecause it’s a charity, and because what Bill, Hillary and Chelsea do for that charity looks precious little like what Jimmy Carter does for Habitat for Humanity, it just makes me feel a little disgusted.”

UPDATE “C.R.E.A.M. Part One: A Study & Review of Clinton Cash (Documentary)” [Nina Illingworth Dot Com] (and part two). Looks well worth a read: “In part one, I spent a great deal of time looking at all of the reasons why you shouldn’t necessary trust Clinton Cash at face value – namely that author/narrator Peter Schweizer is a longtime Republican who’s actively in the business of taking down Democrats and the movie itself was officially supported by alt-right tabloid rag Breitbart Magazine. There is no question whatsoever that this obvious political bias affects Schweizer’s approach to the documentary and as I noted, this makes it necessary to diligently separate the author’s factual claims from the wild conclusions he frequently draws from them. While many would attempt to disqualify Clinton Cash as a worthy documentary right there however, the simple truth is that Schweizer has presented an extremely damning case….”

The view from Camp Romney: “As Trump’s new campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, put it: “We’ll look back at these two weeks . . . and say, why in the world didn’t Hillary Clinton’s campaign totally put us away?” [Eric Fehrnstrom, Boston Globe]. ” The reason is, despite all the turmoil in the Trump campaign, Clinton has not been able to solve her biggest problem, which is that people don’t trust her. Only 11 percent of voters in a recent NBC News/Survey Monkey poll think Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.” Each news cycle seems to bring new grounds to doubt her integrity.”

This week, the Associated Press reported that half the people outside of government who met with Clinton as secretary of state donated to the Clinton family charity. Also, a judge ordered the State Department to fast-track a review of 15,000 previously undisclosed e-mails the FBI discovered during an investigation of Clinton’s e-mail server. Both stories contradict what Clinton has told the public: that there is no connection between her work as secretary of state and the Clinton Foundation, and that she turned over all her work-related e-mails to the State Department in 2014.

No wonder leading Democratic Senate candidates, like US Representative Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona and Governor Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire, are reluctant to vouch for Clinton’s trustworthiness on camera.

Yikes. Arizona and New Hampshire readers: Confirmation?


“Clinton finance director Dennis Cheng wrote a 1,200-word email to the candidate’s top fundraisers, describing how they could win over GOP and independent contributors. That email included a sample letter fundraisers could send Republican prospects and presents potential aisle-crossers the option to donate or raise either $10,000, $27,000, $50,000, or $100,000 for the Clinton operation” [Politico]. Somehow, I don’t think that single payer and tuition-free college are in that sample letter. I bet the war drums are beating, though.

UPDATE “The price of entry to see Hillary Clinton on Sunday evening was $50,000 per person, a sum that got you an al fresco meal of tomato and mozzarella salad, lobster, strawberry shortcake and an intimate conversation with the possible next president of the United States” [WaPo]. “‘It was the easiest event I’ve ever done,’ said Elaine Schuster, a longtime Clinton friend who hosted the soiree at her waterfront home on Cape Cod, Mass. ‘Everyone wanted to come.'” Well, everyone who is anyone…


UPDATE I’ll just leave this here:

The Voters

“Behind The Branding Of The Hillary Clinton Campaign” [Fast Company]. The Clinton campaign actually has a graphics department in Brooklyn; interesting for those that field. The article also gives the origin of the Clinton campaign’s “Love trumps hate” slogan, which was creepy and offensive on so many levels. I’m reminded of Emerson’s quip: “The word liberty in the mouth of Mr. Webster sounds like the word love in the mouth of a courtesan.”

UPDATE “A new analysis of Gallup survey numbers from the first half of 2016 find that Mr. Trump has a relatively weak image in exurban counties, particularly compared to the more favorable views of Hillary Clinton in big cities and the suburbs just outside them. The Gallup data show that 36% of the people in the exurbs hold favorable opinions of Mr. Trump, three percentage points higher than the 33% in those communities who hold favorable opinions of Mrs. Clinton” [Wall Street Journal].

Swing States

UPDATE “A Trump victory over Democratic rival Hillary Clinton likely would require a sweep of a set of battleground states where he is competitive but trailing in recent opinion polls—Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina—and both campaigns describe them as the heart of the race. Mrs. Clinton, by contrast, could win with just one of them, partly because Democrats start with a larger number of states that historically side with them” [Wall Street Journal].


“The Debut of Our Revolution: Great Potential. But.” [Common Dreams]. “As a 501c4 organization, Our Revolution won’t be running campaigns. Instead, it’ll raise funds and provide support for campaigns while being legally prohibited from “coordinating” with them. And—most imminently with the urgent need to stop the TPP in Congress during the lame-duck session—Our Revolution could make a big difference in pressuring lawmakers on key issues. Overall, the livestreaming debut of Our Revolution continued a terrific legacy from the Bernie campaign of educating and agitating with vital progressive positions on such crucial matters as economic justice, institutional racism, climate change, Wall Street, corporate trade deals and health care. But throughout Our Revolution’s livestream, war went unmentioned. So did Pentagon spending. So did corporate profiteering from the massive U.S. military budget.”

“Our Revolution”? Bernie Sanders Launches New Organization, But Key Staffers Quit in Protest” [Democracy Now]. “More than 2,600 watch parties were held across the country last night to witness Sanders launch the new organization. But reports have emerged of political tumult within Bernie Sanders’s own team. Over the weekend, eight key staffers abruptly resigned in a dispute over the group’s leadership and legal structure.” Hmm:

CLAIRE SANDBERG: Yes, Jeff was the campaign manager at the organization. And all of us who worked on the campaign who moved over to Our Revolution did so based on the promise that Jeff Weaver would not be involved in Our Revolution or that his role would be strictly constrained as a legal adviser or a board member who would have somewhat of a token role. But it became clear—and so, there were two main concerns among the staff. One, we all saw how Jeff ran the campaign, and there were a number of concerns about that. Secondly, Jeff’s leadership and advise as a legal adviser had already hamstrung Our Revolution before it even launched, specifically Jeff’s decision to constitute the organization as a 501(c)(4), which prevented us from doing effective down-ballot organizing for candidates, also effective down-ballot fundraising. And—

AMY GOODMAN: Why is that, Claire?

CLAIRE SANDBERG: Well, Jeff has gone on the record admitting that he wanted to form the organization as a 501(c)(4) for the express purpose of accepting billionaire money, which of course flies in the face of what all of our supporters were so excited about, that we were taking a country back from the billionaire class without the use of billionaire money, $27 at a time.

AMY GOODMAN: Larry Cohen, your response? You’re the incoming board chair of Our Revolution.

LARRY COHEN: Yeah, the board of Our Revolution will be key leaders from the various movements that make up progressive America, from civil rights, environmental justice, from people who are running for office. And there will be no contributions from billionaires, and I guarantee that. And I think it’s unfortunate that staff left. They’re good people. Jeff has worked with Bernie for 30 years. He’s very close to Bernie. But this—Our Revolution is not about Jeff or me or Claire; it’s about the hundreds of thousands of people that are networked across the country. My job as board chair—the board will be all volunteers—is to support those networks and those people, and to continue the political revolution that we saw in this campaign and that has its ancestry from the many movements in this country.

“Bernie Sanders launches ‘Our Revolution’ with electoral targets — and a few critics left behind” [WaPo]. “Bernie Sanders launched his long-awaited post-primary movement, Our Revolution, with the fanfare of a presidential campaign. He was introduced by the environmentalist Bill McKibben, who described Sanders as “the most popular politician in America” with plenty of unfinished tasks. For a full hour, Sanders told an audience in Burlington, Vt. — and tens of thousands of online viewers — that they had moved the center of American politics to the left, and could join him in backing “over a hundred candidates” and “seven key ballot initiatives” around America.” One of those initiatives being Colorao single payer. And one of the candidates not mentioned, IIRC, being Tim Canova (although he’s on the endorsement list).

UPDATE “The real problem with Jill Stein” [libcom.org]. “The Green Party is a -tool- *not* a movement, *not* a revolution; just a tool for working electoral politics toward progressive gains. That’s it.” The article also lists many Greens who went on to become Democrats, making one wonder if the “sheepdog” thing — as so often with partisans of all persuasions — was mere projection.

Stats Watch

Jobless Claims, August 20, 2016: “Historically low levels of layoffs continue to underscore the strength of the U.S. labor market” [Econoday]. And: Rolling averages improve slightly [Econintersect].

Durable Goods Orders, July 2016: “Durable goods orders jumped 4.4 percent in July in a headline gain exaggerated by a swing higher for commercial aircraft but including gains across most readings” [Econoday]. “Though the gain for new orders points to future strength for shipments, shipment data for July are soft… Unfilled orders are also a concern in the report, down.” But: “The headlines say the durable goods new orders improved significantly this month. The unadjusted three month rolling average declined significantly this month and remains in contraction” [Econintersect]. “In the seasonally adjusted data, the big surge this month was civilian aircraft and defense.” Military Keynsianism starting to come through?

Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, August 2016: “Conditions in the Kansas City manufacturing sector, hit as it is by weakness in the energy sector, remain very difficult” [Econoday]. “New orders are at minus 7, backlog orders at minus 4, and employment is at minus 10. Production is down, shipments are down, and inventories are down. Price data are soft…” And: “Of the four regional manufacturing surveys released for August, three are in contraction with one in expansion” [Econintersect].

Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, week of August 21, 2016: “The consumer comfort index is up a very sharp 1.7 points in the August 21 week to 45.3 for the best reading of the year. But this index has been uneven, starting August off with a dip” [Econoday].

Purchasing Managers Index Services Flash, August 2016: “The sample reports slowing growth this month in new orders and employment as well as business activity, all the result of generally subdued demand” [Econoday]. “The economy’s disappointing strength during the first half of the year is largely consistent with the results in this report. And this report is not pointing, at least yet, to the big third-quarter rebound that is widely expected.”

Hotels: “Regulatory filings in early August revealed Blackstone officials are looking to raise $5 billion for the new REIT—named Blackstone Real Estate Income Trust—which will invest in several real estate classes, including hotels” [Hotel News Now]. “Sources said the typical pattern of nontraded REITs is a departure from Blackstone’s regular modus operandi.”

Shipping: “U.S. LNG has not been able to compete in Asia because the large ships that haul the gas can’t fit through the older Panama Canal locks. The new locks will cut travel time by about a third, to 20 days, and slash transportation costs, rewriting the financial equation for LNG exports to Asia” [Wall Street Journal].

Supply Chain: “There appears to be no shortage on world textile markets of goods labeled ‘Egyptian cotton’ even as production has waned” [Wall Street Journal]. “The questions over the cotton that have hit provider Welspun India Ltd. highlight the fault line between retail marketing and the deeper recesses of supply chains, where the premium prices behind some big brands run into the practical reality of supplies. …. The Cotton Egypt Association, which certifies suppliers, says it is cracking down on knockoffs, but the group concedes that 90% of products labeled “Egyptian cotton” are in fact fakes.” That’s a lot of fakes! (This too, like so much else, could be filed under The Bezzle.)

The Bezzle: ” Uber Loses at Least $1.2 Billion in First Half of 2016″ [Bloomberg]. ” After touting profitability in the U.S. early this year, the ride-hailing company is said to post second-quarter losses exceeding $100 million. … Subsidies for Uber’s drivers are responsible for the majority of the company’s losses globally, [head of finance Gautam Gupta] told investors, according to people familiar with the matter.” That’s right. Uber drivers are getting paid too much. Hence the Mechanical Turk stunt in Pittsburgh.

“Some tech-equipment providers are trying to break Intel Corp.’s dominance as a semiconductor supplier. International Business Machines Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc. are among several companies talking up new chip production, responding to what the WSJ’s Don Clark reports is a call by some of the world’s biggest technology companies for more market choices. Some big buyers of servers that use the powerful Intel chips to back their massive data-center operations—including Facebook Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google—are among those pushing for alternatives. Rival chip providers face a steep challenge: of the 9.81 million servers shipped last year, 98% used x86-based chips—Intel’s flagship line. The semiconductors also carry a big 49% profit margin for Intel, which must figure into the call by Intel’s customers for more competition in the chip business” [Wall Street Journal]. 49% profit margin?!

“Most financial planners caution homeowners against using home-equity loans to fund short-term expenses, including vacations. Yet that is the most popular use of the money for the more than half of U.S. homeowners between the ages of 30 and 34 who have owned a home for three years or more and have taken out a home-equity loan, according to results of a Discover Home Equity Loans survey, released on Wednesday” [Bloomberg]. Eat, drink, and be merry?

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 67 Greed (previous close: 70, Extreme Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 78 (Extreme Greed). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Aug 25 at 12:48pm. Worse and worse.

Our Famously Free Press

“How CIR created an investigative series just for Instagram” [Poynter Institute]. “‘Bad Plea Deals’ is the California-based nonprofit’s first project made specifically for Instagram. The investigative series will unfold in 21 chapters posted three times a day for seven days.”

Imperial Collapse Watch

Yes, the ShadowBrokers leak was Russia and there is no “second Snowden” [Medium].

Police State Watch

“Chicago cops’ ‘code of silence’ broken as seven face ax for false reports on fatal 2014 shooting of black” [AP]. More like this, please. The ones who break omerta are the good cops.

“KRS-1 pointed to police as the operational descendants of the enforcers of slavery in America. That was not, and is not, hyperbole. Blacks, as well as other racial and social groups, are not only the targets of individual acts of police brutality, but also the focus of the larger system that operates after arrest: prisons, courts, etc. Cops fill their role within this force much like slave-patrollers had filled theirs within slavery. For activists, this raises the question of whether the police, paralleling this historical role, should be reformed—or abolished” [City Limits].

Class Warfare

“True believers say blockchain could reduce the need for businesses to organize as companies, which get work done via command and control. Using blockchain, they say, collaborators will be able to work together as free agents instead of under a hierarchy of bosses” [Bloomberg]. “‘Imagine for a moment if people could coordinate themselves in a much more organic and distributed manner, just like ants. But without giving up on the complexity and the free will that is characteristic of human societies. We can do that,’ blockchain researcher Primavera De Filippi said in a TEDxCambridge talk last year.” I think it’s great TED lets thirteen-year-old Any Rand devotees give talks. It’s cute, as long as you don’t pay any attention. Could have filed this under The Bezzle, of course.

“Openness, it turns out, is bounded by the conventionality of the social group. Valuing openness as such does not hurt – in fact, it is surely a step in the right direction. However, our data shows that it is very hard for people not to be prejudiced towards people they disagree with, however open they might be” [Aeon]. Musical interlude!

Chinese nouveau riches are the problem!

News of the Wired

“The glowing splash of cyan in the photo above comes from a type of biosensor that can detect the release of very small amounts of neurotransmitters, the signaling molecules that brain cells use to communicate. These sensors, called CNiFERs (pronounced “sniffers”), for cell-based neurotransmitter fluorescent engineered reporters, are enabling scientists to examine the brain in action and up close” [Scientific American]. “This newfound ability, developed as part of the White House BRAIN Initiative, could further our understanding of how brain function arises from the complex interplay of individual neurons, including how complex behaviors like addiction develop.” What could go wrong?

“Volume 1 of the Bodleian’s Gutenberg Bible, printed in 1455” [Digital Bodleian].

“Vesper is opinionated software. Every interaction, pixel, and line of code was carefully considered, and no work was too precious to throw away. I’d like to share some history of how Vesper came to look and feel the way it does” [Vesper]. More excellent writing on software, this time from a contemporary author.

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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 (Isolato):




I thought these were trying to be a triptych…

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Readers, I know it’s the dead days of August, but if you can, 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.


  1. Vatch

    ” Political left assails [Rep. Jim Costa] over Trans-Pacific Partnership” [Fresno Bee]. Costa, so far, is neutral.

    Costa might be claiming neutrality on the TPP, but he voted in support of Trade Promotion Authority (fast track), which will make it easier to pass the TPP when there’s a vote in December, 2016. Should I say “if there’s a vote” instead of “when there’s a vote”? No, I think I was correct the first time.

  2. EndOfTheWorld

    This “our revolution” deal is bad news. I was invited to some sort of get together but no way I will go. I don’t want to go there to shout and argue. When Bernie was trying to beat Hill, yes ,I wanted him to win. Now he’s nothing more than a shill for the democratic party. I no longer want to be associated with that fraudulent corrupt bunch of crooks. In fact, I officially changed parties.

    1. grayslady

      What little I’ve seen so far bothers me, too. True grassroots organizers quitting is a very bad sign. Bernie is writing a book and doesn’t have time to go campaign for Tim Canova? I never thought Bernie was a sheep dog during his campaign, but if he were truly serious about a movement, IMO he would have turned it over to the best of his grassroots, with the statement “The movement needs to be more than a focus on one individual and that individual’s beliefs.” There is a stench of the veal pen about this.

      1. curlydan

        I think Sanberg’s criticisms (and yours, grayslady) were spot on. How are we to have a revolution if it’s just based on ballot initiatives? We need actual people filling the spots of power–or at least running for those spots with well funded campaigns.

        The Democracy Now transcript was very revealing. Even the Our Revolution board member was flummoxed and could only give “weak tea” answers.

        1. hunkerdown

          What?! Ballot initiatives are how we overrule the aristocracy. Are we so pathetic that we must be ruled? Or is that just for other people?

          1. jrs

            Ballot initiatives are very powerful. Of course there is big money that will try to stop any that threaten them and that is hard to fight, but it’s even worse with the politicians, big money doesn’t always win on the initiatives as the people aren’t always fooled, but it does claim most of the politicians as politicians are almost always corrupted.

            Legal marijuana, state single payer, change of the voting system to something other than first past the post (as is proposed in Maine), minimum wage increases, potentially extremely powerful, at least as far as anything is powerful for the 99s, risky of course as bad measures are passed as well and big money always has an unfair advantage in pushing their measures, but still more powerful than most other options.

          1. curlydan

            This is the one that I was mainly thinking about in response to Sandberg’s claim that Canova felt like he was left “hanging”. I will yield and say I could have overstated my case.

            AMY GOODMAN: He just didn’t mention him in this list of people he was talking about supporting, and he was so significant in going after Wasserman Schultz and supporting Canova before the Democratic convention.

            LARRY COHEN: Yeah. Well, again, unless a mistake was made, I’m certain Tim Canova is on the initial list that was put up on the website last night. Huge amounts of money have been raised, you know, directly from donors, but through the emails from the Bernie Sanders campaign and from Our Revolution. Bernie has not campaigned since the convention in Philadelphia for anyone. He is actually writing a book. So I don’t think he’s running away from Tim Canova at all.

      1. Unorthodoxmarxist

        What contortions? I don’t understand your GP-hate. As I mentioned in the morning, the local Bernie group is having a “progressive” candidate forum but declined to invite the Green Party Congressional candidate seemingly because he received 11% of the vote in 2014 and beat the Dem in a few districts. Instead they chose to invite the Dem, who’s a Blue Dog that only switched registration from Republican recently.

        I’d be very happy to see “Our Revolution” fund Green and independent candidates. If it would do so on a regular basis against Dems it might be worth something. In 2014 a number of union locals and Democratic locals backed Howie Hawkins in his run for governor of New York. We accepted their endorsements as a breath of fresh air from the Dems. No contortions necessary but we welcomed their growing political consciousness. As for “Our Revolution” I won’t hold my breath but again, it would be nice to see.

        As for the LibCom article, I do suggest reading the comments section. I’ve been involved with the Greens for 16 years and am part of the socialist left in the party. I do think that there is a real issue with some Greens being “captured” into the Dems over the years, but there are hundreds of Green officeholders who have remained Green. It is part of a larger fight on the left – there has historically been a reformist/revolutionary split that we call the Realo-Fundi debate in the Greens – and the problem with the lack of a left culture in this country in general.

        The real issue the article avoids is that there needs to be some organization that actively re-organizes the left outside of the Democratic party and helps rebuild an independent left culture. These two things have been crucial in any modern area where a revolutionary movement has been able to take root. Convincing people to vote for Greens and donate outside the Dems is something that could eventually be normalized, and used by other left parties as well. Then, getting 5% of the popular vote this year pays for organizers and local campaigns that give space to spread a left-wing message. It’s hard to see us getting to a situation where a radical anti-capitalist subculture develops without simultaneous success of a group like the Greens who have access to ballot lines across the country and are willing to run radical candidates. In fact, we passed an amendment at our national convention in Houston to the national platform that makes our opposition to capitalism explicit.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Statements like: “Now he’s nothing more than a shill for the democratic party. I no longer want to be associated with that fraudulent corrupt bunch of crooks.”

          Maybe asking for my vote would be a more effective strategy?

          * * *


          The real issue the article avoids is that there needs to be some organization that actively re-organizes the left outside of the Democratic party and helps rebuild an independent left culture.

          I agree, with caveats. However, (a) I don’t see why you say “organization,” singular. Surely one lesson the left has learned is that parties, singular, aren’t very good at building “culture”? And (b) I support an inside/outside strategy of assaulting the Democrats from inside, backed by standalone left entities on the outside. And if those standalone left entities want to help the Greens, then they can certainly do so.

          1. jgordon

            I’m just not interested in any of this. Everyone should just reduce her income and expenses as much as possible, get on any and all available government benefit schemed, and start looking to take of all living needs locally.

            Once enough people start following that formula, the larger political malfunctions will sort themselves out.

            1. Katharine

              Destroying the benefit schemes you got on, because you weren’t paying attention to what was happening. That’s not a sorting out I want to see.

    2. flora

      I watched half of the online town hall. Mush. Had to turn it off.

      CLAIRE SANDBERG: “… Secondly, Jeff’s leadership and advise as a legal adviser had already hamstrung Our Revolution before it even launched, specifically Jeff’s decision to constitute the organization as a 501(c)(4), which prevented us from doing effective down-ballot organizing for candidates, also effective down-ballot fundraising. And—

      “LARRY COHEN: Yeah, the board of Our Revolution will be key leaders from the various movements that make up progressive America, from civil rights, environmental justice, from people who are running for office.

      Sounds like just another Dem gatekeeper outfit asking for money. DCCC, DSCC etc.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        It wasn’t a Town Hall; it was an interview with Sandberg and Cohen.

        That said, it sounds to me like there are two issues: One is bad blood from the campaign, which is normal; and the second is that there activities Sandberg would like to perform that and the other staffers will not be able to perform under the 501(c)(4) corporate structure, and in particular that they wouldn’t be able to work with Sanders or use his name. But if Sanders — after writing his book — returns to the Senate, he’s would be doing that to be doing that anyhow.

        I guess I would really like to hear the alternative vision to the 501(c)(4), and how it would have been set up. Have I missed it? Readers?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I don’t know enough election law to conceptualize an alternative vision to the 501 ( c )(4) or know its full options and limitations. Big money has swamped little money in many existing political organizations. Why wouldn’t that happen again with “Our Revolution”?

          I feel “Our Revolution” is a little too cozy with the Democratic Party — no I can’t put a finger on exactly what — but my first instincts make me very suspicious of it. I no longer believe the Democratic party can be reformed from within. That was my take away from the Democratic Primary process. The mutiny in the ranks of “Our Revolution” tends to strengthen my mistrust and cynicism. I am a Sanders backer but I must confess considerable discomfort with the incessant emails and automated requests for more money that followed each contribution I made to Sanders as a candidate.

          At this point I think I can decide where to place my tiny money in support of candidates and campaigns better than “Our Revolution”. For now I’ll wait and see. So far, our revolution started with a whimper.

          1. Archie

            Actually, I think the nascent political revolution has already ended with a whimper. The failure of Bernie to walk his talk after the primary has severely (fatally?) damaged his credibility. Imo, just like the Occupy movement, “Our Revolution” will go nowhere. Just watch “Clinton Cash”, or the last episode of John Oliver ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_htSPGAY7I) to see how endemic greed, graft and system exploitation have become in our political system. I doubt neo-liberalism will be defeated by infiltration from the bottom or, at least, not soon enough to make a meaningful difference in most people’s expectations. That was the promise of Bernie’s primary campaign; to speak truth to power on a national stage. The simple truths and sensible solutions to the real life experiences of the 99% (well at least the 80-90%) were the things we coalesced around.

            This is how I see it. YMMV.

          2. JCC

            I watched the whole thing, and listened to Amy Goodman yesterday. The potential of a large part of Our Revolution becoming co-opted by the Dems looks strong to me, just as large parts of the Tea Party was co-opted the Repubs.

            I’m hopeful, but not optimistic. We’ll see what happens.

        2. flora

          My reference was to last night’s online streaming Our Revolution ‘town hall’. I got an email click-to-join-meeting from Our Revolution earlier in the day, for people who couldn’t attend the local meetings.

          I didn’t make my starting point about the source of “town hall” clear enough. I then added the quotes from the Sandberg/Cohen remarks in their interview as something that informed my thinking about why the “town hall” sounded like mush, but the financial side as noted in the interviews was pretty nailed down. I made to large a jump from A to C. Sorry for not including more “B”. (which I hope this comment has done.) To be explicit: Between watching the Our Revolution live online streaming “town hall”, which sounded like another umbrella group formation, and the interview which keen on 503c and financing; to me it came across as the founding of another financial gatekeeper org.
          Of course, I may be wrong. But that was my impression.

          1. flora

            adding: the email referenced was “Our Revolution Launch Party”

            On a personal note, people rightly talk about how bad the Kansas state lege has been these past 4-6 years. Well, after 2 years hard work, by a coalition of moderate Dem and GOP voters and former elected officials in both parties, many of the most extreme legislators lost their primaries. Primaries. This was an effort to get rid of the worst elements in both parties by moderate voters in each party. This is an entirely local (Kansas) effort.

            In Michigan, a third party has got on the general ballot by talking about very specific Michigan problems. They may win some seats, too.

    3. Jen

      I watched the launch last night. I was pleased that Bernie spent the bulk of his time on ideas, rather than candidates. The fact that he talked about ISDS being the real danger of the TPP was very encouraging, and I hope he keeps hammering on that. Bonus points for doing so at any pro-Clinton events.

      As for OR, I’ll wait and see. Ditto on the Weaver fracas, unless someone has a video, audio or email that show him saying he’ll be counting billionaire donors.

      1. JCC

        I also watched it and thought it was great that he talked about the ISDS. I also noted that he talked about the near miss (“believe it or not”, he said) of the privatization of S.S. and notably forgot to mention what family helped in leading that charge (not to mention what blocked it… right, Monica?)

    4. PhilU

      I agree that its definitely not a good sign with the 501c4 status, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. I went to a launch party last night and explained MMT to 15-ish activists and converted 1/2 of them to Trump voters.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Trump isn’t worried about deficits but that’s hardly constitutes his endorsement of MMT. How did MMT turn the activists to Trump voters?

        1. JohnnyGL

          Those in the political class that know that “deficits don’t matter” (Thanks Cheney!) have an instinctive grasp of MMT whether or not they know it consciously.

          I consider myself a Trump-tolerator because some Democrat candidate has to get the “Eric Cantor” treatment if we’re going to move society in a more positive direction.

        2. PhilU

          Those were two independent things, The lose tie was that Clinton blocks a challenge from the left in 2020 and Trump doesn’t.

    5. jrs

      I’m not sure that is a good reason not to go. I don’t have an opinion on “our revolution”, I’m more in “wait and see” mode, but the point of going to such a thing is to meet and network with activists and other concerned people I believe.

    6. Arizona Slim

      In the Democracy Now interview, Claire Sandberg kept alluding to how Jeff Weaver ran Bernie’s campaign. Exactly what did Weaver do? Or not do?

      1. JTMcPhee

        Maybe not pursuing GOTV and ground game strategies strong enough? I recall lots of complaints (including here in FL) of the Helicopter Bernie Team — drop in, churn a bit, no real aid to locals trying to figure out how to “participate” that would be really substantive (beyond $27 a pop), then on to the next Enthusiastic Rally? Power comes from numbers, I hear — bodies, bullets or dollars… And that silly “organization” thing, and if one is lucky, since most of us are followers with jobs, a Mother Jones of some sort?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > Helicopter Bernie Team

          Can anyone give an example of a campaign that didn’t helicopter teams in? My impression is that this is the norm.

          THAT SAID, clearly a movement doesn’t do that, even if a campaign does. So, yet again the “seam” between the two tears awkwardly.

      2. meeps

        I would have liked specifics, too.

        Since she didn’t offer any, I reviewed clips of Weaver speaking publicly before and during the convention. His shifting stance between fighting for Sanders against “thumbs on the scales” to “we’re in a period now where we’re trying to build unity in the Democratic party, we’re trying to bring everybody together so that we can elect Hillary Clinton and defeat Donald Trump” is, I think, where suspicion arises.

        Jane and Bernie Sanders seem to genuinely care about progressive change. Their committment to a mobilized grassroots and their support for citizen initiatives is certainly part of the way forward. Why then, did they choose to keep Weaver over loosing (7?) of their hand-picked staff? The dispute over 501(c)(4) status doesn’t help these optics, especially with Weaver courting Tom Steyer and George Soros for funding. That’s the establishment M.O. Exercising caution about subversion by financial gatekeepers is just necessary due diligence.

        Our Revolution doesn’t provide a way to suggest a progressive candidate if one is not listed for a district. I checked every page on the site. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the “progressive” Democrat for my district, (who isn’t really progressive in the Our Revolution sense–he voted for Fast Track TPA) wasn’t on the list. Neither, though, was the Green challenger for that seat (who is “progressive” in the Our Revolution sense–he’s anti-TPP, pro-Amendment 69). If Our Revolution wants people to believe that their support extends beyond Democrats (and Independents; the only other candidate type expressly endorsed) then they should add language confirming it and provide a way to suggest candidates. Failing to do so only fuels suspicion that support is limited to Democrats.

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Yep. Jeebus, I hate to say “Wait until November 9” because that sounds like an Obama supporter in 2009. Then again, 80 74 days is not long.

          I think if one were to compile a set of operational litmus tests for sufficient progress after a few months, your suggestion would very definitely be one of them. The national Greens actually did improve their site, a point in their favor. So let’s see what Our Revolution does.

          My test is a concrete platform. None of this values shit.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          “Our Revolution doesn’t provide a way to suggest a progressive candidate if one is not listed for a district. I checked every page on the site.”

          Go to the candidate page- https://ourrevolution.com/candidates and it’s center near the bottom with the text “Suggest a Candidate”.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            Cool. Excellent detective work. Thank you so much (though we’ve got a UI/UX issue if it’s a hard to find).

            Adding, it isn’t. Prominent at top left, in green. Voila:


            How’d you miss that, Meeps?

            1. meeps

              Speaking of UI/UX issues, the Suggest a Candidate button opens a mail form without a valid recipient address.

          2. meeps

            Thanks, Kurt Sperry! I don’t think that feature was there last night, or maybe my weary eyes missed it during those wee hours.

            I do think inclusion of candidates from outside the mono/duopoly party/ies is a fair (as Lambert said) “operational litmus test.” I hope people will feel at perfect liberty to start naming names.

      3. PhilU

        Weaver wanted to focus on TV commercials over grass roots organizing. He won out in NY with Bernie spending tons with little result. The Grass roots method won out in CA with a little better results, but might have gone further with more time.

    7. christianSocialist

      “We’re going to support this candidate and that candidate and this ballot initiative and that ballot initiative…”

      Watched this from the Union hall in my town with about 60-70 other people. It was all I could do not to stand up and scream at the screen, “And when they fix those elections too, what then?!?”

      Change only comes through the Ballot Box or The Barricades.

      One has been proven completely useless in this country, never more than 2016.

    8. different clue

      Perhaps the people who have just left the 2nd tier leadership positions at Our Revolution can stay closely linked together as they figure out what to do next. Perhaps they could form a group and call it Our Reformation and do things the way they want to see things done.

      And wannabe-followers will have two theory-action groups to choose from. And time will tell which group achieves what in which ways.

  3. ilporcupine

    RE: “Our Revolution”
    Seems to be the best way to kill a movement. Astroturf it into submission. People who left it are correct, it was not viable if millionaire donations are allowed, let alone encouraged. Would go down the path of the “Tea Party”.
    As soon as you let “campaign manager” types take control, you have committed suicide. Why would big donors want to be involved, anyway? To get control, and KILL it.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      It’s not clear to me that the 501(c)(4) permits donations over $2700 (and if that averages out the $27, what’s wrong with that? This seems to be the origin of the Weaver/billionaire story:

      Weaver’s elevation was met with immediate resistance on the call, especially after Weaver said he was on his way to California to meet with aides to billionaire Democratic donor Tom Steyer. Others on the call came away with the impression Weaver was interested in soliciting funds to run independent expenditure TV ads. (A source familiar with the meeting said it was not about finance, and that Weaver did not meet personally with Steyer, but rather that he discussed a program run by Steyer’s NextGen Climate to engage with millennials to elect climate hawks).

      My Google search does not turn up Weaver being “on the record” about taking money from billionaires, contra Sandberg; if any readers have better luck, I’d like to see the links.

      1) You don’t mean “astroturf.” You mean “air war,” that is, spending money on television. When you’re campaigning on a continental scale, it’s hard to avoid TV. It just is. That should not mean also spending money on — I hate the word “grassroots” because it’s a dead metaphor, so let’s say — tailored digital efforts at the micro level,” that by all accounts the Sanders team was good at.

      2) The whole story is a mess right now, because:

      a) Our famously free press not only hates Sanders (and socialism) but loves “process stories,” and especially stories about backfighting and conflict. Hence, they love this story. It’s “Democrats in disarray” with a new twist.

      b) Campaigns always blow up at the end of campaigns, even those that achieve electoral success. That’s partly because the operatives need to get jobs on other campaigns, and so they fight about who owns success and failure, and partly because campaigns are high-stress environments filled with aggressive personalities. So a Sandberg v. Weaver explosion is perfectly normal.

      c) GP partisans view Our Revolution as taking away voters they own, and go into “any stick to beat a dog mode,” instead of actually asking for votes. This is also perfectly normal.

      d) A messy bootstrapping process from campaign to movement by a closely held operation in the midst of a Presidential campaign. AND NOTE: Hillary can’t be happy at all with an independent entity like this. She’s really not known for not being controlling.

      3) It will be interesting to see what Sandberg, et al, come up with on their own. If they all share the same policy goals, let a hundred organizational flowers blossom, say I. “Elections come and go,” as Sanders says.

      1. Vatch

        It’s not clear to me that the 501( c )(4) permits donations over $2700

        I don’t understand. Are you saying that all 501( c )(4)s have a $2700 limit, or is there something in the bylaws of O.R. that limits donation size?

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          The former, but I am so not a campaign expert. From (sigh) Wikipedia:

          501(c)(4) organizations are defined by the IRS as “social welfare” organizations. Unlike 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as the organization’s “primary purpose” is the promotion of social welfare and not political advocacy.[29] 501(c)(4) organizations are not required to disclose their donors publicly.[30] This aspect of the law has led to extensive use of 501(c)(4) organizations in raising and donating money for political activity.[31] The NAACP, Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, and National Rifle Association are well known examples of organizations that operate 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations that engage in political advocacy.

          PACs and Super PACs are required by law to disclose all of their donors of over $200. However, 501(c)(4) organizations are only required to disclose their spending on political activity, and not information on their donors unless those donors give for the express purpose of political advocacy. The use of 501(c)(4) organizations for political advocacy has contributed to the sharp rise in outside spending that occurs without disclosure of donors. In 2006 just a bit more than 1% of political spending other than that done by political parties and campaign committees did not disclose donors, but by 2010 it had risen to 44%.[32] And as of August 2012, two of the biggest 501(c)(4) groups (Crossroads GPS and Americans for Prosperity) had put more money into the presidential campaign than all the super PACs combined, according to ProPublica.[33]

          Say what you will about the NRA, they’re worthy of emulation from the standpoint developing of organizational capacity!

          Bottom line for me is that I don’t see a prima facie case against the 501(c)(4), and I’ll be interested to see the positive contributions that all the (currently contending) parties make.

          1. Vatch

            I don’t think there’s an upper limit on donations to 501c4 organizations. They differ from 501c3 charitable organizations in that donations to the 501c4 organizations are usually not tax deductible. I would be very surprised to discover that the Sierra club or the NRA have limits on how much people can donate to them.

              1. Kurt Sperry

                If the NRA with its win/loss record isn’t taking part in political activities, I’d recommend doing the same.

      2. MojaveWolf

        I went to an Our Revolution house party last night, and was initially unsure whether to say anything or what to say because I’m not 100% sure where it’s going either, BUT … given the fair amount of negative blowback it’s getting on NC today, I’d like to offer a contrary view.

        You may recall I was initially unenthusiastic about going, w/very low expectations. I thought it would be “rah rah Hillary rah rah Democrats” and I would leave thinking about how much I wasted my time. I’m now very glad I went, even if it wasn’t as good as it could have been.

        Loved Bill McKibben as the kick-off speaker, leaved the union nurse who had won her primary and now running for Congress as the second speaker.

        Thought Bernie’s speech was very good, on the whole. Health care as a right, climate change, lots of little things I remember liking at the time but have a little trouble remembering now. I mostly remember he did not tell anyone that they had to vote for HRC or that we needed to support Dems just because they were Dems. This was a very good thing. A little overoptimistic about how much we accomplished thus far by “changing the conversation” but the whole point of this was to rally the troops (and give us direction) so it makes sense to emphasize the postive. And I did feel more energized coming out of the presentation than going in, as did pretty much everyone.

        Dragged at times (or maybe I just have ADD, which, well, I do have, but when I took a break from focusing and looked around at the other people in the room, they were all rapt, so maybe that’s just me) but the beginning was strong and the part about the TPP was GREAT. That hooked me back in from my studies of the other’s expressions and got my rapt attention. Loved the emphasis on the true insanity of the ISDS provisions in particular, and the specific examples. THANK YOU BERNIE!!!!

        There were some other moments I kinda clapped even from afar and so did some other people but can’t for the life of me remember what they were.

        There were about 20-something people at this viewing party, and we had to split up into two rooms (only about half a dozen people locally had signed up through last week, so no chance to find bigger venues, I guess, big last minute rush according to the hosts). I was about the 12th person to arrive at 5:45, with a bunch more just before 6, and one guy who came in about 3/4 of the way through Bernie’s speech. Even split of men and women, was surprised at how old most of the people were. One woman in her late 20’s or early 30’s, and then I was one of three people in running for second youngest, at best guess, and I’m not young. At least 3/4 of the people were 55+, more than half of the total for sure over 60. Not Bernie’s expected demographic. Probably this group was an outlier. Right after workday end in middle of week may not have been best time to get people to stay out for something they weren’t sure of, too–coulda been lots of local people watching on one of the various online feeds in their own homes.

        On the negative side, if this was supposed to recruit people to run for office, no go at this meeting. I mentioned that I was not going to run for anything but would be willing to help out if anyone else wanted to run, and that I had some success aiding and abetting winning campaigns a couple of decades+ ago, and got blank stares. Didn’t even get asked what I had done. A few other people had done phone banking and stuff and that’s probably what they thought I meant.

        On the positive side, these were all new people I’d never met before, and wary hopefulness before the speakers turned into actual enthusiasm afterwards on most people’s part. Pretty much NONE of us except people who came together had met each other before. Most people were pretty well-informed. No one was enthusiastic about Hillary. I’d say 4 people planning on voting Green, 4 planning on writing in Bernie, 4 not planning on voting, and everyone else either not saying or probably voting Hillary (by that I mean, they said things like “I don’t know how I’m going to force myself to vote for Hillary” or “I don’t see the point in voting for 3rd parties” or remained silent during conversations about November presidential vote). No vocalized Trump or Johnson support.

        When someone mentioned how surprised they were that Bernie almost won it, and I ventured that I thought he probably had won it if only the votes had been counted correctly, I was shocked at majority agreement with my sentiment. Even the people who weren’t sure about outright vote counting fraud were certain he would have won but for what amounted to cheating. Exactly one exception to this out of everyone there. Sometimes you just have to be the first one to say something to get everyone else to chime in (other times, you say stuff to uncertain reaction and get shunned, so there’s always that, and what I was expecting this time, but very nice when it goes the other way).

        W/1 one exception, no one was really happy with things now, though several of the older folk seemed to think a bigger democratic majority might fix things. Everyone hated the way the national Dems completely abandoned our district (indeed, our whole county, which has a huge Latino population, a reasonable black population, and we’re 50% white, but not all the white people are Republicans, so this makes no sense GOP always wins in walkovers here, lotsa dislike for DWS because of this, tho Tim Kaine should get blame as well iirc, and was surprised at how many people had given money to Tim Canova for that reason as much as because of her primary favoritism, even tho they knew nothing else about him except running against her)

        I’d say say about half the people there were disgruntled democrats, 1 die hard democrat, almost half no party affiliation like myself and then a couple of greens. One person hadn’t voted in 30 years before Bernie (she was about my age, meaning her entire voting life had been non-voting), and there were two greens.

        One of the still-Democrats tried to tell me that Trump had just come out in favor of the TPP. I have not heard this. Did I miss something?

        Was very, very irritated that afterwards, as everyone began talking about where to go from here, just as conversation started picking up the one die-hard democrat, the person who came in 3/4 of the way through, started going on about his favorite president, his beloved Barack, and asked why we opposed TPP when Barak was such a big proponent and was it just isolationism, and how this had initially dimmed his enthusiasm for Bernie because he simply didn’t have the same emotional connection with Bernie as for Barack, and then needed the ins and outs of the TPP explained to him with more details given, and then needed “what is a social democrat” explained to him (he had not known Bernie was a social democrat and had referenced Denmark and Sweden as examples of this?), and then needed single payer explained to him, and kept asking us to repeat things, and kept trying to give (very bad) counters to half this stuff, and kept on until everyone gave up and left (I think all of this ran longer than we expected it to). I kinda wonder if he was just there for the local Democrats club to keep any eye on things, as he mentioned when and where those meetings were. Gah.

        Very nice follow-up letters from our event host, w/contact lists of everyone there. They sound a little more like “a progressive group w/in the democrats” than I hoped, but then the event hosts were a pair of democrats, so I guess to be expected. And there is a lot to be said for taking over the dems or at least the local dems from within, it’s just, I’m not a dem, have no intention of re-becoming one, and I don’t want that to be the only focus. So we’ll see how it goes from here re: direction and focus and all that.

        But the overall presentation was quite promising. Lots of little things need tweaking even aside from my personal preference (Jesse T Smith left off online list of people to vote for, no campaigning for Canova still? etc) but plenty to work with as well. Final verdict: Not in yet. Imperfect but promising start.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thank you for your comment. I didn’t attend or listen to any of the “Our Revolution” roll-out. My feeling about its start and the way things went at the convention left me more than a little skeptical about “Our Revolution”. I’ll wait-and-see for now but will remain hopeful based on your comment.

        2. Kurt Sperry

          Yep, thanks for the report, I feel a little guilty for not finding one and going to check it out.

      3. ilporcupine

        Lambert, you”re hard on me today.(grins)

        Organizing purely political orgs as “social welfare organizations” is exactly the sort of thing that I find repulsive. I believe many Bernie people would agree. The fact that NRA, et al have been getting away with it (an effective evil), surely doesn’t mean they are to be emulated by organizations who are kinda sorta fighting that sort of thing.
        As far as air war vs. astroturf, I was responding to the linked interview only. I cannot see organizing as a “dark” money entity, when your purpose, ostensibly, is to shine the light on these activities. As soon as the Political Pros(cough) get involved, and big money donors want to hide, it starts to look to me, at the bottom, like the TP all over.
        If the milli/billionaire class wants to back a specific candidate, they can use whatever code section entity they choose to organize for that guy. Although I question the motives of any 1%er who would back any candidate for whom I would want to see elected!
        If Sandberg is wrong in her comments, and this is just inter-campaign, post election crap, then I have lost nothing. They lose my respect.
        2d) I hope Hillary is bothered to frackin distraction, maybe it’ll even be terminal!
        2c) Are there GP partisans? Seems a rare breed. Mostly refugees…

        No doubt your political experience is greater than mine. I am an old guy, but a political tadpole.
        Deep analysis of campaigns is for people with encyclopedic memories, and more historical perspective than I can keep in my small brain. Just tryin to stay sane in an insane world…

    2. Jim Haygood

      Remember Ross Perot’s organization, United We Stand America?

      Me neither. Had to do some determined googling to even dig up the name.

        1. polecat

          I DID vote for Perot….

          got called a spoiler by some close friends….

          I voted for Nader…..

          got called a f*ckin spoiler by some close friends

          if I vote for Trump…….?

          I’ll be as a cast-a-way on a desert isle…..

          1. Roger Smith

            But it will be the ‘best isle, beautiful…. You won’t believe it. It will be great.’

            And I’ll be there too!

    3. diptherio

      This is not an encouraging sign, imho:

      the board of Our Revolution will be key leaders from the various movements that make up progressive America, from civil rights, environmental justice, from people who are running for office

      This thing sounds like it’s been co-opted by the Non-Profit Industrial Complex before it’s even gotten started.

      Definitely not holding my breath for anything transformative.

      1. Andrew Watts

        How dare you sir! Affluent college-educated liberals will save us!

        Just kidding. I stopped reading when I hit that point in the interview.

  4. shinola

    Re. 2016/corruption article “Obliging a donor…”

    “…if they can’t tell the difference between what’s legal and what’s ethical, what remains?”

    What remains is exemplified by a certain “power couple” one of whom is currently running for the US presidency.

  5. hunkerdown

    The self-driving car is old enough to drink and drive. (I, Cringely)

    While talking about what’s driving this latest iteration of self-driving cars (spoiler: those of you who said “melting down and replacing (selling) the entire national fleet over six years” nailed it), he does raise an interesting point about safety in super-human traffic density, if self-driving cars pack more tightly on the highway: “a 70 mph rear-ender with only 39.37 inches to accelerate barely dents your bumper, designing completely out of the system more than half of all highway accidents.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      That’s a great link:

      For autonomous cars to be successful they will have to totally dominate, which will require new laws, getting old cars off the roads. This is the part they couldn’t do back in 1995. The banks will have to lend lots of money (with federal guarantees, I’m sure), old cars like mine will have to be melted down. It will be a huge endeavor that will also involve a serious increase in electric vehicles.

      Like Atrios, I think it’s daft. Maybe Cringely’s right, though. If so, one might wonder if that’s why the Democrats are heading off to Silicon Valley; they can help with the regulation and the banking. For a hefty fee, of course.

      1. Carolinian

        I’m sure another reason why car makers are enthusiastic is that putting cars on the same replace cycle as computers–every couple of years–would be much more profitable. This is probably a big reason why they are already supplying built in gadgets like bluetooth and gps when it would make more sense for you to bring your own gadgets and plug them into something.

        Back in the tail fin era car makers like GM used styling to produce “planned obsolescence” but that sort of status climbing has gone out of fashion to a degree and cars now are much more complicated and expensive–thus tempting people to hold onto them longer. Electronics to the rescue.

        1. Carolinian

          BTW just now reading Cringely’s article and seems my notion of car company greed was what he said. However his claim that the tech will have to be rebuilt from the ground up may not be true. Delphi and Mobileye have just announced a partnership to produce a drop in self drive module that various car makers can use. Since recent cars already use their computer for things like brakes and acceleration this may not require such extensive modifications.

      2. bob

        “For autonomous cars to be successful they will have to totally dominate, which will require new laws, getting old cars off the roads.”

        …and new roads. Entirely new roads. Probably, in a silcon valley PR wet dream, exclusive to only credentialed autonomous cars.

        People, in general, have no idea how expensive road construction is. It’s not hard to get a few multiples of the car’s value under the car. That’s with older, legacy dumb roads. *smart roads* will be required, and cost a whole lot more than the legacy system that will have to be torn up and out in order to make room.


        1. polecat

          Yes….the areas in which these driverless systems will be used probably means a vast shrinkage of road coverage overall…..

          Perhaps this is the beginning of an intentional ‘reduction’ of the burbs by the PTB…..due, in part , to probable future losses of available resources…..

          just a thought…..

          1. different clue

            The burbs and the burbians won’t just disappear. They will change into neo-peasant subsistence-survival villages or low-density settlement zones. All their roads may well crumble and they and their people may well decay into a latter-day Fall-Of-Rome style Dark Ages 2.0 type of existence. Trendy fancy neo-urbanites in their smart cars and smart apartments may well warn eachother and their children to never ever dare go to the Burbistans. The Burbistanis might kill them and eat them, or at the very least kill them for the laces in their shoes.

      3. JohnnyGL

        With all those cars so close together and networked to coordinate (like nascar racing close), haven’t they basically recreated something called a “train”, except it rides on rubber and asphalt?

        I believe the physics is settled that steel-on-rails has less drag than rubber-on-asphalt as far as fuel efficiency goes. But, hey, if you liked the 1800s when railroads had privatized, federally-sanctioned monopolies and you’re thinking, “Hey, let’s do that, except we can waste more fuel”.

        Can they pull this off? Well, the car companies convinced America to redesign its entire society around the car (via the creation of suburbs), so it’s possible.

        On the other hand, that project was done 1) in a time of prosperity and growing economy and 2) gave the APPEARANCE of giving people more control and a better life (though it created car dependency instead, but that’s another matter).

        Kicking human drivers off the road is a, um….tough sell (hirohito award for understatement?).

        1. polecat

          I just want to be wrapped in tin foil …….. and wake-up 200 years it the future…. climb out of a self-driving bubble car….to a time where I can smoke tobacco to my hearts’ content….and step into an orgasmatron whenever the need arises !! ;’)

      4. Indrid Cold

        Someone is probably seeing this robotic car thing as something akin to the push for a cashless society. It rubs all the right oligarchic pleasure centers: Regular people are forced through insurance laws and the like to get rid of their cars and spend money they don’t have (by going into debt preferably!) to integrate into the new mode. TPTB look at this as a ‘revolution’ and a sign of the eternal glory of the current system. It’s also another potential massive bubble they can tout for a while as ‘prosperity’ – which will be ascribed to President H Clinton. Meanwhile, the .01% will suck the money spent and debt created. Millions of jobs and entire occupations will be annihilated. Most people will be forced to get around on foot or on rickety bikes. Just like here in Portland OR. I think Carey and Fred should do a Portlandia episode on it! So cute!

        1. Eclair

          Oh lordy! The image evoked by your phrase, ‘rubs the right oligarchic pleasure centers,’ is simply too much for me to handle. Please, give me a brain wipe!.

      5. ilporcupine

        I wonder if this will be a “cold dead hands” moment, like guns. USians LOVE their cars.
        I have friends who are still bitter about “cash for clunkers”.

  6. PhilU

    Scarborough totally nailed Clinton’s BS foundation cover story.

    MSNBC host Joe Scarborough on Thursday criticized Hillary Clinton’s campaign for its defense of the Clinton Foundation after the Democratic presidential nominee’s spokesman argued the foundation is needed to fight the AIDS crisis.

    Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon defended the foundation and its work on “Morning Joe,” saying more than half of the people in the world receiving AIDS drugs got them through the Clinton Foundation.
    “So, no, the Clinton Foundation will not be completely shuttering its work even if Clinton wins the presidency — and for good reason. They want to continue this work,” Fallon added.

    “If any American voter is troubled by the idea that the Clintons want to keep working to solve the AIDS crisis on the side while Hillary Clinton is president, then don’t vote for her.”

    “That is so pathetic. You all are not really that pathetic, are you?” the “Morning Joe” host shot back.

    “You’re going to actually say that if Bill Clinton doesn’t have the opportunity to shake down billionaires, that AIDS will not be cured?” he asked.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Not that it matters much where the idiot scarborough is concerned, but, unless I am mistaken, and I don’t think I am, this morning’s comments were made in response to the fallon appearance that occurred yesterday on the estimable morning joe edition of “big media propaganda today.”

      joe “shot back” at tape, hence, no fallon response was “quoted.”

      It’s just easier to “totally nail it” that way.

      1. PhilU

        You very well might be right, I haven’t looked into it past the link, I just thought it was a good line.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      And speaking of AIDS:

      What has remained hidden until now, however, are the lengths to which pharmaceutical companies and their political allies seem prepared to go in refusing to confront and treat this pandemic, until their ability to ensure vast profits is guaranteed.

      With a bundle of exclusively obtained documents, today The Observer lays bare a cabal in Washington DC, which on the face of it toyed cynically not just with a premium on profit, but with political campaign contributions and personal careers, putting at risk millions of lives among the poorest and most defenceless people on earth.

      That cabal comprises some of the most powerful drugs companies in the US and Britain, whose purchasing power has bought up research funded by the US taxpayer to treat Aids. They are not only withholding their help but are engaged in legal action to stop South Africa from treating its millions of HIV sufferers.

      It also embraces a cosy triangle of big-time Washington wheeler-dealers: Vice President (and would-be President) Al Gore, White House Chief of Staff John Podesta (likely to retain the office in a Gore administration) and his brother, Anthony Podesta – point-man in Washington for the most powerful lobby in town, that of the pharmaceutical barons.

    3. Jim Haygood

      According to an analysis posted here a couple of days ago [can’t find it now — it wasn’t Ortel, but the author cited Ortel], the Clinton Global Initiative takes credit for spending by third parties which would occur anyway, with or without the Clintons’ involvement.

      Indeed, cutting out the Clinton shakedown likely would increase AIDS spending, as funds are spent on actual AIDS patients, rather than diverted to corrupt con artists who “advocate” on their behalf while pocketing the money for salaries, private jet travel and Russian hookers luxury entertainment.

      Keep one thought foremost when evaluating claims by the Clintons: “All lies, all the time.”

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        This one?

        “Clinton Foundation: World Class Slacktivists” [Medium]. “I think this could be called a ‘charity bubble’ since at some point, there won’t be any more cash to take. And then what will people do? What will happen when the hospital where future doctors and nurses will work closes due to lack of funds?”

          1. Amy Sterling Casil

            I haven’t done the CHAI/AIDS programs because of the complexities regarding pharma purchasing agreements that I really don’t get, with many firewalled reports.

            But Australian journalist Michael Smith has done the Asia region. It is the exact same “model” as I found in the US, South America and African programs I looked at. At most, one employee, a total shell and PR front.

            Just read this and I could replace his locations with the US (Coachella Valley), Africa (Malawi), Caribbean (Haiti), and South America (Colombia & Peru) and single employee or no employee at all with the infamous Ruby Shang.


      1. Carolinian

        Thanx for that second link….had been trying to remember where I had read it. It’s an excellent article that describes why the Clinton Foundation is mostly a PR shop that accomplishes little.

      2. Jim Haygood

        Amy Sterling Casil on the Coachella Valley:

        “The full extent of the activities conducted by the Clinton Health Matters Initiative in the Coachella Valley: one meeting, one day, four years ago.

        “Every chart, every “outcome” and every “program” listed in the 20-page report is a program or activity already conducted by the individual organizations represented at the one-day meeting, with no involvement with the Clinton Foundation (not funding, not oversight, not even data collection).”

        All lies, all the time: the charitable works of the Clinton Foundation are as imaginary as the investment holdings of Bernie Madoff.

        Amy Sterling Casil deserves a Pulitzer prize.

  7. iporcupine

    Re:”Our Revolution”

    Bernie should just publish a newsletter (like Ron Paul without neonazis) with the downballot candidates he favors, AND WHY he likes them. Let people send donations direct to the campaigns. No need for astroturf organizations to solicit donations if small donations are the desired outcome. Let the Jeff Weavers of the world work for Goldman or Hillary, or somebody, The campaign is over, their time is past.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Bernie should just publish a newsletter (like Ron Paul without neonazis

      Thanks for sharing your concern. I take it your intent is that Sanders should, like Paul, fail, and not, like the 501(c)(4) NRA, succeed?

      1. PhilU

        I read it as him trying to get solidarity among interest groups. Healthcare is certainly not at the top of the to do list for most people my age.

        1. EndOfTheWorld

          Single payer can’t be passed because all of Congress depends on money from Big Pharma, Big Insurance, etc. Fight for it? The best way to fight for it is to try to drive the Democratic Party into extinction where it belongs. May they go the way of the Whigs.

          1. timbers

            Obamacare may well have the best shot at doing just that (driving Dems into extinction) if it’s going as badly as being reported here and the ever apocalyptic Zero-hedge. And Clinton’s incrementalism of doing 8.5% of total income is laughable especially since she’ll likely combine it with steep increase in fines on the unrolled – if Repubs even let her pass anything.

            1. different clue

              If she Grand-Bargained with the Republicans to turn Obamacare into pure Heritage Care if they would let her call it Clintocare to take the visible credit, they will support her totally. And if she calls for punishing coverage-scofflaws with long prison terms instead of fines, they will support her 110%. ( Well . . . The Country Club/Wall Street ones will. The Tea Persons might not).

  8. efschumacher


    Well, the Primavera de Philippi TeD talk is, as they say, Content Free.

    She doesn’t advance my understanding of the blockchain technology, its other applications, the attacks on it, or the latency before determining that a double spent duplicate transaction, hasn’t happened. Or, how do you prevent the primary blockchain from growing without limit – which it must do with an open-ended sequence of transactions.

    I believe that https://pypi.python.org/pypi/blockchain/1.3.3 will give me more concrete facts to work with.

  9. dcblogger

    I went to an Our Revolution party last night. I was encouraged. I think that Bernie is attempting to engineer a takeover of the Democratic party. I don’t have strong opinions about the staff shake up. Lets see what he does with it. Particularly, lets see if he goes to Colorado to campaign for Single Payer.

    As for Canova, HRC won that district in a landslide, so I am not sure that Bernie’s presence would be a plus.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      “That the Clinton Foundation has done some good work is beyond dispute.”

      Reminds me of an iconic Seinfeld episode about gays/lesbians–“Not that there’s anything WRONG with that.”

    2. shinola

      Great article – thanks for the link.

      Justice John Paul Stevens dissent on “Citizens United” nails it.

  10. Kurt Sperry

    For me the potential upsides of self-driving cars–safety and efficiency primarily–might well outweigh the downsides. I know this puts me in a tiny minority here, but if thousands of deaths and serious and often crippling injuries can be prevented every year as seems likely, and if the economics work then at some point as the technology matures it becomes stupid not to avail ourselves of it. If it can be made significantly safer overall, and I’m sure it can no matter how many scary “what if” hypotheticals are thrown at it, then that’s the most important thing. The biggest obstacle to me looks like having to blend autonomous and non autonomous vehicles in the same traffic streams; if the fleet were all autonomous, it’d be *way* simpler to implement.

    1. trom

      We already have excellent autonomous and nearly-autonomous technologies, and the issue is that the US simply needs to invest in deploying this technology at scale. It is about time the US joins Europe and Japan/Korea in having excellent commuter rail, subway systems, and long distance high-speed rail. These technologies have the advantage of being well developed, having all the safety and efficiency advantages purported by self-driving cars (which do not yet actually work), and being well tested.

    2. subgenius

      1) cars are a major part of the problem, and thus in no way a solution

      2) self driving vehicles require at a minimum huge computational power, thus highly refined materials and extra power sources – ‘environmental problems’, ‘price’, etc…

      3) self driving cars probably require massive high tech infrastructure – and at least decent road markings, etc – oh look more posts (in a nation that can’t even resurface roads to a decent state currently)

      As a result, please explain how they make ANY sense

      1. Propertius

        On the other hand, think of all the money the Surveillance State will save on traffic cams and license plate readers. They’ll know to a certainty where every Loyal Citizen is and where they (to use the execrable “‘they’ as genderless pronoun” construction) go at any time.

        Because terrorism.

        1. different clue

          And if they have you on their “little list”, they’ll just remote-drive your car off a cliff. Or into a bridge abutment. Or into an oncoming truck. ( With you in the car, of course).

    3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      What does an average person do in a hard-working self-driving car?

      Staring into space?

      Watching more TV in the car?

      1. curlydan

        instagram, facebook, snapchat. Also, the “attendant” will need to do general cleaning, restocking water bottles, etc. I’m sure our corporate overlords will deem this “less than real work” and create a below-minimum wage structure. Kind of like a 13-year old babysitting.

    4. Kurt Sperry

      Public transport is far better for urban and suburban travel, but simply impractical for daily use in rural situations in a country the size of the US. There are no public transport solutions that will work for someone on a farm on a dirt road 20 miles from the nearest small town and who needs to do a week or two week’s shopping and errands at six different places or the guy who need to get his boat to the launch and back home, or get the horses up to the trailhead etc. etc.. So for large portions of the rural US, public transport isn’t, and will likely never be a viable option. Of course for people who need a boat or horse trailer, self-driving vehicles will probably never be practical either, and neither will any other non-car/truck alternatives. I love public transport, but it falls apart as a concept as the population density thins out.

      I’m pretty sure those saying cars have to go have never lived outside an urban bubble, or if they have, haven’t thought it through.

      1. Big River Bandido

        I have “lived outside of an urban bubble”, but fewer and fewer Americans do, in large part because of the changes wrought by mechanization and then the corporatization of farming. Mass transit was, of course, critical to farmers in the 19th century — it gave them access to markets for their products — but the economic changes of the 20th century have rendered mass transit as necessary to rural as to urban life.

        someone on a farm on a dirt road 20 miles from the nearest small town and who needs to do a week or two week’s shopping and errands at six different places or the guy who need to get his boat to the launch and back home, or get the horses up to the trailhead etc.

        For the most part, the people you describe are archetypes of a bygone era. The lifestyle simply isn’t prosperous enough anymore to support that many people. Sixty years ago, my mother was one of 6 children living on a farm in Iowa, just outside of a town of 2,500 people. Only one of those children continued in farming, and when he retires in a few years the family connection to farming will end, forever. When my mother was in high school, half of the town was directly engaged in farming, the other half in small factories and businesses in town, many of which directly supported farming. Today, that town still has 2,500 people, but only 5% are farmers and perhaps 5% employed by the few local businesses that remain. The rest of the people commute either 35 miles to a city of 70,000 or 30 miles in another direction to a city of 120,000. It’s now just a “bedroom community”, in other words.

        This is the story of small towns all across America; people have left farming for more lucrative professions in cities where the work isn’t back-breaking by comparison. The cost of fuel and maintenance of homes and public infrastructure render the rural and exburban lifestyle largely unsustainable by themselves. In a town where the residents are forced to commute long distances to work, one could argue that the long-term survival of the rural small town is absolutely dependent upon revitalization of the rail lines connecting the town with nearby large cities, and upon a revival of service.

        1. Katharine

          Those archetypes aren’t completely dated, though as a point of accuracy the roads were and are usually gravel, not dirt, and these days more of them are paved, often to the disgust of oldtimers who resent the extra traffic they draw.

          Sorry your uncle will be the last farmer in your line. I hope he can sell to some crazy younger son (or daughter) of a farming family that keeps on producing farmers. In some cases the desire is intense, but land prices are prohibitive.

          1. Big River Bandido

            It’s not the land prices that are prohibitive. It’s the cost of doing business (including the labor) vs. the returns. My grandparents used to grow corn, soybeans, wheat, sorghum, and raise cattle, hogs, chickens, sheep…in short, they ran a diversified business. This protected them in case a drought or flood destroyed the crops, or an epidemic killed some of the livestock.

            Today? My uncle has only raised cattle for the last 25 years. Field crops? An individual or family farmer simply cannot compete with Big Ag. Most of the “family farmers” who are left and still grow field crops do so as agents for one of the Big Ag companies…making a far lower standard of living than they did a generation ago for the same amount of work.

            For that reason, there will be no “farming family” for my uncle to sell to. Probably the land will be sold to — again — some large farming corporation. Who in their right mind would want to go into a line of backbreaking work when the returns are so paltry? This is why his 5 other siblings got out of the business and moved to the cities and suburbs to find work in professions.

            1. Katharine

              It depends to some extent on where you are, of course. My relatives also switched from diversified farming, to straight dairy. They grow most of their own feed, which is how they can stay afloat. But it has to be a big operation: some smaller ones have been told the milk truck will no longer pick up for the volume they can produce, and are probably turning into straight cattle operations as the best solution.

              As for who in their right mind–didn’t I say crazy? But if the passion is there, it’s there. There are currently two generations working the old place, with a third rising, and two offshoots on other farms in the township. They work their tails off, but they love what they’re doing, and they have my undying and eternally mystified respect.

              1. Big River Bandido

                I can see how dairy farming might be sustainable for longer. And if you’re in WI or MN, there might be (used to be) laws regulating dairy farms that will keep it profitable for longer. Most farm crops have come up against economies of scale, and just like the milk trucks won’t pick up small volume…grain farming reached that point years ago, most livestock is close to that point now.

                What we will truly miss is the contributions made by people who actually know intimately how to farm. The loss of this…we are in uncharted waters. With ecological catastrophe on the way, it’s the worst time to also face losing an entire culture and body of knowledge that might be helpful.

        1. Big River Bandido

          Thank you. The solution is, of course, public transport that is designed to work, not designed to fail (as our current systems generally are).

    5. Tom

      Seems like just about the time self-driving cars are rolled out nationally, that’ll be the same time that the majority of jobs are taken over by robots – not just in manufacturing, logistics and delivery, but in legal, financial and even medical professions. If there are no selves in the vehicle, then where does the self-driving vehicle go?

  11. ChrisFromGeorgia

    Mitch McConnell sticks a shank in Obama’s back on TPP:


    The smell of roasted lame duck wafts through the late summer breeze. It is savory. Of course, the cynic in me says that this is only McConnell’s opening negotiating posture. I am sure there is something that lame duck could try to placate the Kentucky Senator … maybe a wing of the Obama Presidential library dedicated to Kentucky?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      From The Hill:

      “The current agreement, the Trans-Pacific [Partnership], which has some serious flaws, will not be acted upon this year,” McConnell said at the Kentucky State Farm Bureau breakfast Thursday.

      But McConnell said that while the trade agreement won’t get approved in its current form, it could pass next year with some changes.

      “It will still be around. It can be massaged, changed, worked on during the next administration,” he said.

      I think we need to have a “conversation”….

      1. different clue

        It could? Well . . . it most certainly could if the next Administration is a Clinton Administration. Would “it could” be as likely if the next President is Trump? If the answer is “no”, has McConnell just given the opponents of Obamatrade a real reason to vote for Trump?

        ( And could McConnell be letting his personal distaste for Obama and Clinton and Democrats be letting him optimize for vengeance and spite instead of for OverClass Profit and Power? And if so, could McConnell understand very well that he has just sent a quite message to the opponents of Obamatrade to vote for Trump)?

    1. abynormal

      “Bresch – whose compensation has increased by 671% from $2.5 million in 2007 to $18.9 million in 2015. “No one’s more frustrated [i got caught before dumping it ALL] than me,” she said (cnbc today)”

      To enter the corporate rat race, you need to become a rat. Chatterjee

      1. inode_buddha

        I have a feeling whats been going on is, the drug companies are seeing a captive market suddenly get a lot of money from the insurers (bummerCare) and so they’re jacking prices as far as possible in the hopes the insurers will just pick up the tab. Since after all its not like real people are having to pay it. Jackpot! (same problem that happens with student loans…)

        1. flora

          That’s what happened after Congress passed the Medicare Part D requirement (requirement to purchase a private drugs/prescription insurance plan), too.

          Funny how that works.

  12. subgenius

    Re. Brain function…

    Gödel’s incompleteness theorem basically indicates that one cannot understand a rule set from inside the rule set. If this is correct a brain cannot understand a brain. Just sayin’

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      We might apply what is learned from the brain initiative to make better lie detectors. Consider the possibilities of an interrogation — sorry — questioning tool combining lie detection, pain inducers, memory control — switch-on and switch-off, brain functional area stimulation and repression. Eventually we might make torture obsolete and greatly enhance the possibilities for retraining.

        1. Kurt Sperry

          I used to call marketing “applied psychology” because if you aren’t monetizing it, you aren’t really applying it. It could be applied neuroscience too. None of this foo foo, egghead pure research stuff, nothing’s real until it puts real money in the account.

          1. subgenius

            It’s applied psychotherapy – look up Edward Bernays (nephew to one Sigmund Freud) for more info

  13. hemeantwell

    The Cotton Egypt Association, which certifies suppliers, says it is cracking down on knockoffs, but the group concedes that 90% of products labeled “Egyptian cotton” are in fact fakes.” That’s a lot of fakes! (This too, like so much else, could be filed under The Bezzle.)

    Searching for bed sheets on Amazon is like participating in a Who’ll get the Sucker contest. “800 threads per inch! No, look over here, 1000! Wait, I’ve got 1600! And we’re all selling Egyptian cotton, all of us!”

    1. JustAnObserver

      Given that its fairly cheap/easy these days to do chemical signature testing (DNA amplification+sequencing ?) this appears ripe for someone to do some field testing of so-called “Egyptian cotton” stuff ?

  14. clinical wasteman

    Sorry haven’t had time to check whether this was already pointed out, but the “Stein/tool” link should be libcom.org, not “lib.com”.

    Worth mentioning only because — at least for anyone not annoyed by a class struggle/anarchist (eg. SolFed/IWW/AF, but the site is non-sectarian) perspective — it’s a good news/comment/multi-blog site with an outstanding historical “library” section.
    Some people here won’t like the Stein piece — and dislike of electoral politics is admittedly a recurring Libcom-hosted theme — but even those who object to that might find good things in the archives, which are neither the voice of a one-track Party mind nor a postgrad theory farm (though genuinely distinguished scholars like Silvia Federici and Peter Linebaugh are welcomed); more like a critical aggregator of all kinds of non-Leninist, non-liberal troublemaking, run from London by a few people with NO funding, no money at all really, just day jobs plus this and more as night work.
    (BTW, the foregoing is not a plug for personal friends/political allies: these sort of very loose circles are small enough even in London that it’s almost impossible not to know who is doing what. One place all manner of people have tended to collide is: http://maydayrooms.org/.)

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      O.K. I added libcom.org to my links and I read the Stein critique. I don’t like the Stein piece. I’ll check libcom.org from time to time but — the Stein critique made if sound like progressives need a martyr instead of a candidate. Given the Patriot Act, the selective way laws are enforced, and given the way peaceful demonstrations are put down — a candidate expressing the sentiment “The only way out of the immiseration of class inequality, racist violence and gendered oppression is mass organizing, resistance and revolt among working people.” would seem an excellent way to get a lot of people killed and injured and find the candidate disappeared. This sort of analysis while interesting is hardly useful. I could settle for a candidate who didn’t start any new wars and made a few appointments to key oversight organizations like the SEC, FCC, FDA, Department of Justice, Department of Treasury … to undo the corporate capture. I don’t think I would like a revolt among “working people” — which with the use of “comrades” in the critique tags it as more than a little retro and tone deaf.

      1. clinical wasteman

        All fair enough (Jeremy G.), but my point definitely wasn’t to endorse that article, and I don’t think Libcom can be assumed to endorse it either. (I appreciate the discussion here but it would be presumptuous of me to ‘decide’ anything from this distance about the US Green Party. I know I like Ajamu Baraka and know I detest eg. the German ‘humanitarian intervention’/’Agenda 2010’ Greens. The two types of ‘Green’ politics seem an abyss apart now, but was that always the case? Did the US GP always keep a distance from the sort of ‘right-wing’ environmentalism described at several books’ length by Jeffrey St Clair of Counterpunch? Genuine question.)
        Libcom is partly a curated aggregator site — some hosted blogs and articles are quasi-editorial, but it deliberately hosts clashing views within certain limits. Those limits have something to do with broad historical sympathy for IWW- or Autonomia Operaia-type self-organization, which in turn entails fairly consistent scorn for left-wing electoral candidates and Trotskyist sects, and yes, that dismissal can sound a bit too automatic, even to readers who tend to agree but don’t rule out the use of elections where winning serves a purpose, or who agree with Vijay Prashad and CLR James on the need for what Prashad calls ‘preparation’ and James (placing worms in a can by labelling it) named ‘leadership’. So for anyone who really loathes that sort of anti-electoral politics Libcom will be more trouble than it’s worth, but for those who either sympathise somewhat or disagree in complicated, qualified ways, it’s a good day-to-day source on things like workfare, policing and the pugnacious migrant labour movement, and an exceptional historical archive (not so much old news as old and out-of-print working class erudition: Midnight Notes, DRUM/ELRUM, Big Flame…)
        Also, it’s not something that matters much — and the criticism in the case of the article may be right — but ‘comrade’ (and its other-language equivalents) sound slightly different depending where you are, and even on who says it to whom. It can sound glib and artificial even here (London), but often it doesn’t when used in earnest but wryly, almost melancholically, among … comrades … for whom ditching the long habit of using the word would be equally awkward and pretentious.

    1. no one

      “Tamm “has already paid a severe price for his actions,” the hearing committee report says. “He was under criminal investigation for years after the disclosure. This criminal investigation was both stressful and expensive. The investigation by Disciplinary Counsel—aside from the criminal investigation—has been pending since 2009. Moreover, [Tamm] now no longer works for the Department of Justice; he is an assistant public defender in Washington County, Maryland, with a much lower salary. No reasonable person looking at what [Tamm] has gone through would think that revealing a client secret in this way is a cost-free endeavor.”

      Meanwhile, Jeffrey Sterling, also a lawyer, is in a Colorado prison for 30 years.

      To my mind, these men are whistleblowers who should be receiving the highest awards for service to the American people. But the difference in treatment is another layer of the truly disgusting nature of “captured by the 1%” US government. And this election won’t fix it.

  15. bob

    Yes, the ShadowBrokers leak was Russia and there is no “second Snowden” [Medium]

    Circular sophistry, written by at least 2 people, probably 3 or more, based only on the changing writing styles.

    LSS- it’s the voice of a counter intel arm.

    1. DarkMatters

      This story is fraught with innuendo & rumor. Crowdstrike has security connections that would favor implicating Russia to heighten tensions; Russia’s is a handy bogeyman for the dems to discredit the leak information to whatever extent possible; it fits in with the Trump=Evil-Putin meme. But at the end of the day it’s all speculation. Debunkers debunking each other. No one actually knows s*t.

      I’m half suspecting that during the Nov. 8 elections, clintonian attempts to hack voting machines will be joined by Trump supporters, possibly in addition to Russia, China and Israel and miscellaneous agencies who want to join the hack-fest. I look forward to the upcoming exit-poll irregularities, and more media speculation and propaganda as to what happened and who done it, and why it doesn’t really matter to democracy. This election is fast becoming by the most propagandized and corrupted in US history.

    2. different clue

      Well . . . if a “second Snowden” wanted to avoid detection and capture, making the release look like it was “made in Russia” might help a “second Snowden” do that.

  16. cm

    Yes, the ShadowBrokers leak was Russia and there is no “second Snowden” [Medium].

    Was this supposed to be sarcasm? The article is garbage.

  17. Elizabeth Burton

    1. Does anyone seriously think an organization with the goals expressed by Bernie at the OR launch will survive on small donors?

    2. “Eat the rich” was a fun song, but the elitism of saying “no rich people are allowed to join in the revolution” rubs me the wrong way on several levels. And, yes, that is exactly how the protest about the way OR was set up comes across to me, and likely would have the same effect on, say, FDR. And, like Lambert, I’m open to hearing what other structure would be considered superior and preferable.

    3. At least people are trying, which is a huge improvement over the last 30 years. If people don’t like the way Bernie’s doing it, no one is preventing them from doing it another way. More power to them. Just quit whining and attacking him as a “Democratic sellout” because he isn’t doing it the way you want it done.

    4. The Green Party has been official for 16 years. Until very recently, the only time I ever heard anything about them was when they ran somebody for president. I’m a retired journalist, so don’t waste time ‘splaining how they don’t get no respect from the media or whatever other lame excuse is available for why they don’t have more of a presence among the electorate. That’s a failure of communication, pure and simple, exacerbated by what appears to be a sad lack of coordination.

    5. The depth of corruption from which we must work is also the one in which we must work. “Know the enemy” is the basic premise of any battle, and there are a whole lot of newcomers to the world of politics who lack sufficient background in history, civics and politics to organize an effective movement without help. If the only thing OR manages to achieve is addressing that lack of knowledge, it will have done a huge service.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      1. If an organization can’t survive without large contributions perhaps it should not.

      2. Rich people are welcome to the party — but they sit with the rest of us, eat the same food, and must speak with the same small voice we all have. They have no special place.

      3. Sanders did all that he could. I expected him to endorse Hillary. I am concerned about what deals were made behind closed doors. There seemed to be some strong leverage on Sanders. I suspected it related to the F-35 program. Woodchucks gotta eat too! I don’t judge Sanders but I’m going to wait-and-see what’s next like a lot of the commenters here.

      4. I share your concerns about the Green Party. At this point in time they appear to be the best vehicle available to try to get some second party going. It’s not the kind of vehicle I’d choose but it’s all we have. The Democratic Party has no place for progressives who wander outside their pen.

      5. I have one better — read a little Howard Zinn. Read Naked-Capitalism and its sister blogs. Building an effective movement requires a good deal more than knowledge of history civics and politics. Does help mean help from Democratic Operatives?

      As for a knowledge of history — not knowing enough about the history of the Populist Movement in the late 19th Century — did that movement really depend on money from big donors? What about the IWW and Debs Socialist Party?
      — just curious.

  18. fresno dan


    That can be explained by a simple thought experiment. Let’s imagine, dear reader, that you were to go into a Starbuck’s in a hip neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, and ask the people there—dyed-in-the-wool Democrats to a man, woman, gender-nonspecific individual, and child—to describe their nightmare presidential candidate, the person they’d least like to see in the White House next January.

    They’d tell you that it would be a political insider openly in bed with banks and big business who spent years in public service pandering to the rich, who is also a neoconservative who pursued regime-change operations against Third World countries and was committed to military confrontation with the Russians. The candidate would have a track record supporting the kind of trade agreements that allow corporations to overturn environmental laws, and would also be dogged by embarrassingly detailed allegations of corruption on a stunningly blatant scale. The candidate would insist that everything was just fine with America, and anyone who disagreed was just being negative. Oh, and it would help if the candidate had engaged in race-baiting behavior, and had insisted that a woman’s claim that she was raped wasn’t to be taken seriously if it was directed at a member of the candidate’s own family.

    That is to say, the rank and file Democrats’ idea of the worst possible President is Hillary Clinton.

    Now let’s imagine that you were to hop on a Greyhound, get off in Bowling Green, Kentucky, head for the nearest Southern Baptist church social, and ask the people there—dyed-in-the-wool Republicans down to the very last lady, gentleman, and well-scrubbed child—to describe their nightmare presidential candidate, the person they’d least like to see in the White House come January.

    They’d tell you that of course it would be a Yankee from New York City, which still edges out Los Angeles in the minds of many of the godly as the ultimate cesspit of evil in North America. The candidate would be a profiteer who made a pile of money exploiting vice, a wheeler-dealer who repeatedly declared bankruptcy to get out from under inconvenient debts. The candidate would be vulgar—you have no idea of the force of this word until you’ve heard it uttered in tones of total disdain by an elderly woman who’s a downwardly mobile descendant of Southern planters—and a hypocrite in religious matters, mouthing only such Christian catchphrases as might help win the election. Such a candidate would of course be on a second or third or fourth marriage, have fathered a child out of wedlock, and would fail to show any trace of pious horror toward gays, lesbians, transexuals, and the like. Finally, such a candidate would claim that America is no longer the greatest nation on Earth and has to make sweeping changes to become great again.

    That is to say, the rank and file Republicans’ idea of the worst possible President is Donald Trump.

    I suppose its probably too late in the game for both of the parties to do the right thing and swap candidates, so that the Republicans can go back to running a corrupt establishment neoconservative and the Democrats can field a libertine populist demagogue.

    As always, interesting perspectives at the Archdruid. And some nice thoughts on actually succeeding with regard to a movement

  19. TarheelDem

    Our Revolution is caught between electoral politics, non-profit organization legal-beagles, and movemental aspirations. Bridging those is necessary to an inside-outside stratgy, which is what Sanders has been about from the beginning. But no one has succeed at that recently without astroturfing (cough, the various Tea Parties and “freedom” organizations with their entrepreneurial mailing list operators). To do it straightforwardly becomes incoherent very quickly on the two pillars of capitalism — legal and finance. The incoherency here is a “revolution” of the 99% against the 1% wanting to have anonymous donors (known only to the person who makes deposits to the bank and very few others), which has been the privilege of billionaires shielding the public from their astroturfing. Are there any other reason in 2016 for anonymity of donors expressing essentially policy positions and conducting political education most of the time and supporting specific candidates through uncoordinated (independent?) media buys during election cycles? The nature of campaigns is changing so rapidly (as are the legal limits and social norms, usually denoted as “ethics”) that there is not likely an good answer to that question.

    My intuition says that the structure and the allies sets up supporters for some interesting forms of co-option into schemes they would not necessarily support.

    But no one knows yet how to bridge the gap between movemental and electoral politics on the left. There are no successful grassroots-launched candidates who challenge the local incumbent structure and have succeeded — yet. From any party or from an independent run.

    But it is easy to rush to judgment on new attempts to bridge that gap, isn’t it? It is how the left stays fragmented and ineffective.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      If the Clintonites start purging the left from the party and their jobs, as they have done on a small scale, and which the Red Scare they are ginning up prepares them to do on a large scale, I would think anonymous contributions would be a very useful thing, especially for the contributor.

      I would like very much to see an alternative structure proposed, so we can get beyond the “this sucks!” mode (since suckitude is relative, eh?) I haven’t seen one, though maybe it’s out there and I missed it.

      “It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” — FDR. Seems to me that applies to the bridging the gap between electoral and movement politics as much as anything else.

      1. TarheelDem

        I have difficulty understanding where the Red Scare gets traction given that Putin’s current ideology tends to Russian Orthodox nationalist defense of a state that is oligarchic capitalist despite is alignment with state capitalist China against US hegemony. Only boomers react to Cold War rhetoric.

        Yes, to getting beyond the reactionary response of “Ooooh, Suckitude! I’m outta here.” Too many open non-negotiable and hidden doubly-non-negotiable agendas going on in coalitions. See John Michael Greer’s take on this this week.

        It has seemed to me for some time that focusing on the math of delivering an election is a lost art on the left. A benchmark is a Congressional seat. An organizing target there is 175,000 (at least in the next cycle or two) in a Congressional District; pull much less than 140,000 and you are likely to lose. No one asks exactly how large a coalition movement of progressives and lefties could be and where those 175,000 votes are coming from. Especially when a sizable part of a potential coalition will not even vote once even when it is an achievable objective. And then’s there’s the problem of vetting a unity candidate and holding 175,000 people together to win. That hasn’t happened for about 80 years.

        The comfort of seeing oneself as an elite vanguard movement that never ever has in sight looking back even the leading groups of the masses much less the rear and laggards who still are in the movement is a perpetual block to electoral action. Waiting for the collapse and the inevitable revolution without clarity on the kind of social and community chaos that that will bring. It is possible that the times and the analysis will ever be right that those folks join a critical mass on on candidate in one jurisdiction to win an election? The Pirate Party in Iceland seems to be closing in on one of those rare events. Can it happen in the US?

        FDR was right. And he also believed in duplication of efforts. He’d assign three agencies to do something and at the last minute combine what they had done out of their own strengths into a coherent tactic – a classic was the rapid creation of the CCC as a jobs program. Wonder if the same tactic would work organizing a winning electoral bid for a candidate vetted by the people who then put them in power and watch them like a hawk.

  20. kj1313

    Anyone listen to Hillary’s Alex Jones/Putin/alt right speech? Seems to be a lot of consternation on twitter about her paying attention to the next iteration of Birchers when no one is blaming the establishment Repubs for their rise.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I’ve seen a good deal of this on the Twitter. You know, Reagan, who launched his campaign in Philadelphia, Mississippi, wasn’t leveraging racism. Or that Bush, who campaigned and governed with a base from the Christian right, was “mainstream.” It’s just bizarre. And Reagan and Bush wielded real political power, as both governors and Presidents! Aren’t the alt-right dudes basically in the category of “something is wrong on the Internet”?

      Airbrushing Reagan and Bush so Republican donors feel good donating to Clinton. The mind reels.

  21. allan

    Illinois Department of Insurance: Premiums for plans on ObamaCare exchange set to skyrocket

    According to new data released Aug. 24 by the Illinois Department of Insurance, premiums for the cheapest silver-level plan on the ObamaCare exchange are set to rise by an average of 45 percent next year. The cheapest bronze-level plans will rise by an average of 44 percent, and the cheapest gold-level plans will rise by 55 percent.

    In some regions of the state, premium increases will soar far higher. In the Metro East area, for example, premiums for the cheapest silver-level plan will increase by a whopping 84 percent. Some individuals with more expensive plans could see even higher premiums. In fact, Blue Cross Blue Shield requested permission to more than double premiums on some individuals. …

    That’s right whiners – let the perfect be the enemy of the good, why don’t you.

    1. HotFlash

      In France, where, I believe, the aphorism originated, they say, “Don’t let the good be the enemy of the perfect.”

      In my house, we (OK, I) object to ‘for now’ — which tends to turn into ‘forever’.

      Just do it right the first time, as well as you can (yeah, *as well as you know how*) and fix it later if it needs fixing. Don’t start with inferior, it will never get better.

  22. marym

    Canova Wins Endorsement of Both African American Newspapers in CD 23

    The two newspapers serving Congressional District 23 and aimed specifically at African Americans have both endorsed Nova University law professor Tim Canova over incumbent Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    It represents a first for Wasserman Schultz. Failing to win the support of all newspapers in her district has never happened to the former Democratic National Committee chair before.

  23. Portia

    No. Jeff is just making all the important decisions. But it’s not about him, at all. Oy.

    Jeff has worked with Bernie for 30 years. He’s very close to Bernie. But this—Our Revolution is not about Jeff

  24. Robin Kash

    Like your stuff. Keep it up. Thought I was going to get to contribute, but only got this comment page after clicking NEXT. What happened?

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