2:00PM Water Cooler 9/18/2017

By Lambert Strether of Corrente

Patient readers, this Water Cooler is a bit abbreviated. I had to finish up this post on BernieCare, and now RL has intervened! –lambert


“Chief of staff John Kelly has been credited with bringing order to a chaotic West Wing. As a result, one close adviser has been increasingly sidelined and cut off from his once-regular access to the president: Peter Navarro. Navarro, who leads the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, has still managed to maintain a close personal relationship with President Donald Trump, whom he won over with his reputation as a warrior against open trade” [Politico]. “‘I get the sense that the president is tired of being told that he can’t do X,Y or Z in the trade space,’ one White House official said. ‘I think he’s lost patience with it. I don’t see how the free trade camp in the West Wing can continue to put the brakes on this stuff. I think they’re going to have to choose what they want to prioritize.'”



UPDATE “Allies of Donald Trump have begun plotting to take down or weaken potential Democratic challengers in 2020, including several who will be on the ballot in next year’s midterms” [Politico].”The 2018-focused work ranges from a major donor-funded super PAC designed to blemish Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s image, to a full-scale effort to defeat Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown outright before he gets the chance to take on Trump. Beyond that, after months of monitoring dozens of potential challengers, Trump allies are building research files and crafting lines of attack on Democrats seen as most threatening to Trump and who will be on the ballot next November.” Sherrod Brown hasn’t endorsed BernieCare yet. He’d better. Moving to the center won’t help him.


“[A] party that is ontologically parasitic on the unpopularity of another can technically never run out of things to be against. As long as Paul Ryan doesn’t come out in favor of same-sex marriage, small plates, and Ghostbusters (2016) in an op-ed for Verrit, Democrats will probably manage to survive. Too bad that isn’t the same thing as winning House seats” [The Week].

“As McCaskill touts record on seniors, donor and family friend runs troubled nursing homes” [McClatchy]. “The lakefront vacation property in Missouri where McCaskill goes to escape the partisan chaos of Capitol Hill is owned by her husband, Joseph Shepard, and Rick DeStefane – a close family friend, a regular campaign donor, and a nursing home executive with a track record of serious safety problems in an industry the senator has vowed to clean up.”

2016 Post Mortem

“Beware the Smart Campaign” [Zeynep Tufekci, New York Times]. From 2012. “Mr. Messina is understandably proud of his team, which included an unprecedented number of data analysts and social scientists. As a social scientist and a former computer programmer, I enjoy the recognition my kind are getting. But I am nervous about what these powerful tools may mean for the health of our democracy, especially since we know so little about it all… These methods will also end up empowering better-financed campaigns. The databases are expensive, the algorithms are proprietary, the results of experiments by campaigns are secret, and the analytics require special expertise. The Democrats have an early advantage partly because academics and data analysts tend to be Democrats. Money will solve that problem. This will shift power in both parties even more toward the richer campaigns and may well be the final nail in the coffin of public financing for presidential campaigns.” In other words, the whole moral panic about Facebook is yet another one of the horrors that liberal Democrats discover only when the other guy does it. In fact, they’ve elevated “Just look at the other guy!” from a heuristic to an epistemology.

“Abedin’s mom made sure Clinton’s Saudi speech omitted ‘freedom’ and ‘driving for women,’ emails show” [FOX], Ka-ching.

“Interestingly, dislike of Clinton and Trump wasn’t due to the increased polarization of our country either. If their strongly unfavorable ratings were just a byproduct of polarized politics, they would have had high ‘strongly favorable’ ratings too but they didn’t. Voters just didn’t like them” [Political Wire].

UPDATE “Bernie Sanders’ campaign was indelicate from its very inception” [Medium]. I picked the quietest passage… .

Obama Legacy

“Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year” [Bloomberg]. “Goes”? Really? More: “Last month, just before her book “What Happened” was published, Barack Obama spoke in New York to clients of Northern Trust Corp. for about $400,000, a person familiar with his appearance said. Last week, he reminisced about the White House for Carlyle Group LP, one of the world’s biggest private equity firms, according to two people who were there. Next week, he’ll give a keynote speech at investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s health-care conference.” I wonder if anybody brought pitchforks?

Realignment and Legitimacy

“What’s ‘Proportional Voting,’ and Why Is It Making a Comeback?” [Governing].

Stats Watch

Housing Market Index, September 2017: “Optimism is easing this month among the nation’s home builders whose housing market index fell 3 points” [Econoday]. “Today’s report hints at weakness for tomorrow’s housing starts & permits where another set of mixed results are the expectations. The housing market, now hit by the impacts of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, looks to have a difficult time accelerating into year end.”

Retail: “The holidays already are taking a tough turn for Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. Nervous suppliers are tightening terms and may start withholding shipments…, as the debt-laden chain tries to stave off a potential bankruptcy filing that could come in the next few weeks” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “HP once again caught sneaking code into printers to reject third-party ink” [Boing Boing]. “But on the first anniversary of its PR debacle, HP has once again been caught pushing out a fake “security” update for its printers that secretly turns on the anti-feature of checking for and rejecting third-party ink.” Both Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard are idolized in Silicon Valley as “Founders.” I wonder what they would think of what their company has become.

The Bezzle: “Equifax Stock Sales Are the Focus of U.S. Criminal Probe” [Bloomberg]. “U.S. prosecutors in Atlanta, who the people said are looking into the share sales, said in a statement they are examining the breach and theft of people’s personal information in conjunction with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The Securities and Exchange Commission is working with prosecutors on the investigation into stock sales, according to another person familiar with the matter.”

The Bezzle: “Lurid Lawsuit’s Quiet End Leaves Silicon Valley Start-Up Barely Dented” [New York Times]. “n contrast to the venture capitalists who were knocked off their perches this summer by harassment complaints, Upload was scarcely dented by the publicity surrounding Ms. Scott’s suit. Mr. Freeman and Mr. Mason were not forced to resign. Investors did not pull their money. The company’s events continued, if in terms that were a bit more muted.”

The Bezzle: “Google hit with class action lawsuit over gender pay” [AP]. “Charges of gender discrimination have swirled at Alphabet Inc.-owned Google since the U.S. Labor Department sued in January to bar Google from doing business with the federal government until it released thousands of documents related to an audit over its pay practices. The sides have been battling in court over how much information Google must turn over.”

The Bezzle: “The most disturbing stat in business? Since 2008 Walmart has paid $64B in corporate income tax, while Amazon has paid $1.4B This is despite the fact that, in the last 24 months, Amazon has added the value of Walmart to its market cap” [L2]. “The most uncomfortable question in business, in my view, is how do we pay our soldiers, firefighters, and teachers if a firm can ascend to $460B in value (#5 in the world) without paying any meaningful corporate taxes.”

The Bezzle: “Can a Vending Machine Replace a Bodega? A Start-Up’s Plans Draw Fire” [New York Times]. You’d think that Silicon Valley could invent something new in, say… tech. But no. They reinvent the vending machine.

The Bezzle: “Sex doll sharing app launches in Beijing” [Global Times]. With home delivery.

Climate Risk: “Black Knight: Preliminary Assessment Shows Over 3.1 Million Mortgaged Properties in Hurricane Irma Disaster Areas” [Calculated Risk]. “Delinquencies will rise in both Texas and Florida in the next few months. Unfortunately it looks like Puerto Rico will take a direct hit from Hurricane Maria this week.”

Rapture Index: Closes unchanged [Rapture Ready]. Record High: 189, October 10, 2016. Current: 184.

Today’s Fear & Greed Index: 81 Extreme Greed (previous close: 77, Greed) [CNN]. One week ago: 53 (Neutral). (0 is Extreme Fear; 100 is Extreme Greed). Last updated Sep 18 at 1:52pm. Still cruising!

Health Care

UPDATE “‘Single Payer Is a Rational Health-Care System’: An Exclusive Interview With Bernie Sanders on His ‘Medicare for All’ Plan” [The Nation]. This:

[SANDERS:] So what I think you’re seeing now is this:

A. The savage Republican attack, this effort to throw over 20 million people off the health insurance they have, people are resisting that.

B. People also understand that the Affordable Care Act did not go far enough. No one will tell you that deductibles are not too high, that co-payments are not too high, that premiums are not too high. The price of prescription drugs is totally unacceptable. Everybody acknowledges that. The Affordable Care Act did not resolve those issues.

People are saying, OK, we made some progress. Twenty million more people have health insurance, that’s important; in states like Kentucky and West Virginia, the number of uninsured plummeted, that is a good thing. But has health-care reform gone anywhere near far enough? The answer is that it has not.

So now people are saying: What is the alternative? And then, suddenly, a lot of people are saying: You know what, maybe we should join every other major country on earth in guaranteeing health care for all people. The good news for us is, we’re not proposing some kind of radical idea. I live 50 miles away—five zero—50 miles away from Canada; they, without any big deal, under Liberal governments, under Conservative governments, they have a health-care system that is far more cost-effective than ours, that guarantees health care to all people with prescription-drug costs that are far lower.

It’s not just Canada, obviously. It’s every major country in Europe. Each system is different, but they all have the characteristics of being universal [everybody is covered], private insurance companies are not involved in the basic health-care package for the purpose of making profits, prescription-drug costs are much lower.

People hear that—and they increasingly do hear that—and they say: Yes, we have got to move in that direction.

“Understanding the Medicare For All Act of 2017” [PNHP]. Especially:

Fund hospitals through global budgeting: A “global budget” is a lump sum paid to hospitals and similar institutions to cover operating expenses, thereby eliminating wasteful per-patient billing. Global budgets could not be used for expansion or modernization (which would be funded separately through capital allocations), advertising, profit, or bonuses. Global budgeting minimizes hospitals’ incentives to avoid (or seek out) particular patients or services, inflate volumes, or upcode. Without global budgets, the national system has little power to constrain long-term cost growth.

Conyers on BernieCare:

“EDITORIAL: Bernie Sanders conveniently omits funding mechanism from his single-payer plan” [Las Vegas Review Journal]. Sheldon Adelson weighs in.

” Before supporters of universal health coverage get all wrapped up debating a single-payer system, they need to focus on a dire threat to the Affordable Care Act likely to come up for a vote in the Senate before the end of the month” [E.J. Dionne, WaPo]. No. Just because liberals can’t walk and chew gum at the same time, that doesn’t mean the left has to follow their lead.

Guillotine Watch

“New York women are dropping thousands to look like Ivanka Trump” [New York Post].

Class Warfare

“Income inequality is the norm, not the exception, author says” [MarketWatch]. “Walter Scheidel, a professor of Roman History at Stanford University, in his new book, ‘The Great Leveler,’ says only the so-called “four horsemen” of war, disease, state collapse and revolution have succeeded in leveling income. And as soon as the devastation is over, income inequality builds again.”

Moar Juggalos:

News of the Wired

“Why verbena has captured our garden hearts” [Guardian]. “V. bonariensis has captured our garden hearts because it can also thread together a scheme, add height without too much distraction, please pollinators and flower well into autumn. It will self-seed, particularly if you give it a free-draining substrate; it loves cracks in paving and gravel gardens. Although it’s a short-lived perennial, if the conditions are right, it will seed itself just as the parent plant is giving up the ghost.”

“The 46 hottest cars at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show” [Business Insider]. Why is it that the dominant automobile designs today all look like bloated, sharkish predators?

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me at lambert [UNDERSCORE] strether [DOT] corrente [AT] yahoo [DOT] com, with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, (c) how to send me a check if you are allergic to PayPal, and (d) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! If you want your handle to appear as a credit, please put it in the subject line. Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Re Silc):

Re Silc writes: “Refugees view in Slovene alps.”

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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. Jim Haygood

    A chart from BofAML shows 15 months of simultaneous manufacturing expansion in the Big Three global economies of China, Europe and the US. This is a longer coordinated run than in Dec 2007 when the last global recession began:


    Indeed as the right-hand chart shows, all nine largest global economies are pulling Cinderella’s gilded carriage in unison like mighty Clydesdales, even as the good Dr Hussman adamantly outs them as ridiculous mice.

    Traditionally strong economic groaf is a negative for stock prices, since it impels central banksters to back off the accelerator and tap the brakes, though moreso when inflation is rising (it isn’t, to their intense chagrin).

    Crucially, the spectre of 2008 deja vu is nowhere in sight. For now, what John Mauldin has labeled the bubble in government promises* shimmers like gossamer wings in the mellow setting sun of empire, as the bubbly flows and stocks party on into the purple dawn.

    * “We let our government officials use predictions about future pension returns that are every bit as unrealistic as calling a 13-inch rain in Houston a 100-year event.

    1. griffen

      Curious and more curious still. Wondering where the SP 500 begins leveling off. March 2009 is but a faint light in the rear view mirror.

  2. Wukchumni

    “I wonder if anybody brought pitchforks?”

    Wouldn’t a short handled shovel be more appropriate in scooping up the speaking gig largess?

    1. JTMcPhee

      The shape of automobiles: I used to be a car aficionado — followed the Grand Prix and SCCA racing, subscribed to the car mags both US and UK. Then I discovered that cars as we see them in their seductive curves and angles are basically just sheet metal and plastic wrapped artfully by followers of Bernays around some basic mechanical bits — all about getting from here to there. “Concept cars” that might have any interest to me would be simple, light, space-frame structures designed like dune buggies, with minimal “coachwork” maybe made of hemp fiber products — 4-seaters with the kind of crash protection that spaceframes can afford, low-rolling-resistance tires and I guess electric power. Or maybe like those human-powered drinking bars that peddle through the tourist areas here, everyone gets a workout pushing the pedals attached to a chain driven gearless transmission. Obviously the minority view.

      1. Wukchumni

        Jalopies nowadays tend to look as if they’ve all come out of the same oversized jelly bean factory, it’s hard to distinguish one make from the next.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I think that I would take a page from the BOFH and bring along a roll of carpet and a bag of lime as well as a shovel.

  3. dcblogger

    electoral data analytics are over rated. a decent grassroots committee will beat them every time. the problem is that there is no money in precinct operations.

    1. Livius Drusus

      Exactly. In my own area the local Democratic Party has declined tremendously in the last 10 years. They tried to unseat my local Republican rep from his state legislative seat by running a candidate who could have been cooked up in some Third Way think tank. The Democratic candidate was a young professional woman who ran on social issues like abortion and “Trump is a misogynist” in an area that is still filled with working-class Roman Catholics.

      Unsurprisingly the Democrat was defeated soundly. Trump won most of the precincts in my area too despite it having gone for Obama in the last two elections. I could have told the Democrats that their choice of state legislative candidate made no sense given the demographics of the area and the number of Trump signs I was seeing. I think I saw one Clinton sign in my area and that was it.

  4. L

    UPDATE “Bernie Sanders’ campaign was indelicate from its very inception” [Medium]. I picked the quietest passage… .

    Yes you did pick the quietest passage.

    I tried to read this, I really did but I have to admit that if you start by drawing a direct line from Barry Goldwater to “Eugene McCarthy to Ralph Nader to Ron Paul.” based upon their shared opposition to “the establishment” you are on shaky ground. It is worth noting that in that analysis Donald Trump is omitted. If we are going to plot the distance between politicians then I would argue that “antiestablishamentarianism” is hardly meaningful. (Almost) everyone runs against the status quo. Very few people express a public willingness to use nukes.

    The part that I find most significant however is this:

    But by the end of his campaign against Hillary Clinton, he had called her personally responsible for American deaths in Iraq, accused her of being involved in a money laundering scheme, declared that she was “unqualified” to be president, and implied she was guilty of bribery and corruption (in a thirty-second ad one might reasonably call negative and ugly). Just to name a few.

    The thing is that Hillary Clinton did support the Iraq war. She did route money from the DNC and state committees to her campaign. She also did give closed door speeches to banks in exchange for substantial sums of money and then supported deregulation. As for the discussion of qualifications I believe that the exchange was:

    Sanders added: “When you voted for the war in Iraq, the most disastrous foreign policy blunder in the history of America, you might want to question your qualifications. When you voted for trade agreements that cost millions of Americans decent paying jobs, and the American people might want to wonder about your qualifications. When you’re spending an enormous amount of time raising money for your super PAC from some of the wealthiest people in this country, and from some of the most outrageous special interests … Are you qualified to be president of the United States when you’re raising millions of dollars from Wall Street whose greed and recklessness helped destroy our economy?”

    And while this is hardly polite it is also not an ad-hominem attack but a specific retort based, again, upon things that she has actually done. I fail to see how that is either unacceptable or illogical. After all isn’t politics about determining what policies we will actually implement? If it is then critiquing what someone has done is to be expected. If it is not then, what are we doing here?

    [sarcasm] Or am I just another footsoldier in the Goldwater/Nader/Sanders Axis? [/sarcasm]

    1. Donald

      Basically, Clinton supporters of the more fanatical sort want us to talk about the Clinton of their imagination, not that actually existing Clinton who is a cynical militarist and neoliberal. Sander’s sin was in being truthful about her record, when what you are supposed to say is that she has been a tireless champion of progressive causes her entire life. This wouldn’t matter, except that a fair number of people are committed to this particular personality cult.

      I only skimmed the piece. I saw one point where the author was outraged at how Sanders ran within the system against the system. So if Democrats used to have a tradition of FDR liberalism which has curdled into something centrist and nasty, people should accept this, leave the party and not try to change it.

      You can’t win with these people. The argument ever since Nader’s 2000 campaign was that he should have run within the Democratic primaries to pull the party to the left and tout his issues and then unify behind the party’s candidate. Sanders did exactly that and now people say he shouldn’t have run within the Party because he didn’t belong and was trying to change the Party.

      1. L

        To some extent I think that you are right. Certainly this article is a paramount example of the identity politics view. It even ends with a subtle photo of a Russian village that was burned by Nazis (Ironic for a neocon).

        What makes me depressed in all this is that in such a hyperbolic view offers no path forward. If we live and die by identity politics then we just die because tribal warfare offers no path to success only expensive intracene conflict one which only ends when both tribes fall apart and a new tribe rolls in, or when noone is left standing.

        Perhaps I’m being as extreme as the author but I do wish for some dialogue path. But then I too know people who still have it in for Nader, perhaps it is just more comforting to blame yesterday’s quarterback than gear up for tomorrow’s scrimmage.

        1. Mo's Bike Shop

          ‘tribal warfare offers no path to success’

          Unless you think the pie really isn’t growing. Tho it’s more likely an effect of TINA with these people.

        2. UserFriendly

          My response to the author… doubt she reads it.

          The decision to steal data — based on reporting — did not come from the top, but rather from four staffers on Sanders’ data team who decided to download it on their own.

          *Yeah, that staffer the DNC recommended to him as someone who knew the VAN system.

          *CBC pack is not the CBC.

          I was going to pick this apart piece by piece but it is just so stupid and clearly just sour grapes from someone who wished Clinton wasn’t the corporate shill she was. Her allies in the Media placed the stories she wanted.
          This Is How Hillary Clinton Gets the Coverage She Wants

          They did hold back, big time. On Obama and the entire Democratic party being complete tools of Wall Street.
          Obama’s Big Sellout: The President has Packed His Economic Team with Wall Street Insiders
          Obama’s Foreclosure Relief Program Was Designed to Help Bankers, Not Homeowners | BillMoyers.com
          WikiLeaks Bombshell: Emails Show Citigroup Had Major Role in Shaping and Staffing Obama’s First…

          The working class of this country has seen no gains in 30 years and it is entirely because both parties do nothing but cater to the billionaire class. That is why anti-establishment candidates are so popular; the current batch of elites murdered the American Dream. Obama oversaw the largest loss of black wealth in history and did nothing but throw money at Wall Street as a remedy.

          Bernie didn’t damage the Democratic Party. The Democratic party was already at an all time low with house seats, state, and local offices as people began to realise that ‘Hope and Change’ was just a PR slogan. People have been getting increasingly more desperate and Clinton’s slogan of ‘America is Already Great’ is undeniable proof of how out of touch she is with the every day problems the non billionaires in this country have.

          The continued push back from well off Dem operatics like you, who never stopped Bernie bashing, are exactly why I didn’t vote for Clinton in my swing state and why I don’t regret that in the least. You seem determined to make everyone who has been shafted by the status quo feel unwelcome in your elitist bicoastal party. You would rather feel self righteous and superior than make a course correction that would make Bernie voters feel at least marginally welcome in the party. Keep it up, sooner or later this worthless shithole of a country will realise it’s Bernie style Social Democracy or status quo oligarchy and in the meantime I really don’t give a shit which legacy party is in charge of making my life shittier every day.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Given the Team Clinton track record over the years plus Hillary’s own weaknesses (she has confessed to being a lousy politician compared to her husband with his big 1992 win and reelection over a corpse after Gingrich behaved as expected once in power), what very serious person wants to admit they more or less answered an email from a Nigerian prince during the primaries?

        Is it really different than John Podesta being spear fished? The answer is no. Unfortunately, many people who watch the West Wing and like to collect books written by politicians aren’t pragmatic, and Hillary’s candidacy exposed them undermining their identity.

        1. Pat

          I also think that it is very difficult to admit you have been conned. Think of it as the person who went to the psychic for a laugh and thousands of dollars later still tell friends that the psychic has made their life better. (You can also substitute psychologist for psychic and help for laugh in there much of time imho).

          It is similar to the people who mourn that Obama is no longer our President because he was better behaved than Trump but miss how much of Trump’s real successes have either built on Obama policies or the administration’s lack of concern or outright incompetence. They listened and heard about how smart they are and missed the hand in their pockets. They still don’t understand how they lost their car, most of their possessions, their retirement fund and face losing their home.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Especially when the con wasn’t particularly good in the first place and self inflicted.

            “I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” -Barack Obama in “The Audacity of Hope”

            1. Jim Haygood

              I serve as a blank screen on which corporate interests of vastly different political stripes project their own views.” — Barack Obama, 2017

              Sock puppetry: it’s not just a job; it’s a worldview.

                1. JBird4049

                  I fell for Bill Clinton’s, and later Barack Obama’s, spiels. I thought maybe I didn’t know their full positions, or perhaps they change their beliefs and actions because of changing facts. I expected imperfect humans doing what they thought was best for most Americans.

                  Well Hell, was I wrong and my whole family of loyal Democrates were betrayed, or at best merely used. That is what enrage me. To see that the dreams, hopes, the trust was used to harm them, and enrich those already rich, using often illegal, usually unethical, almost always immoral, and consistently not fair. To see Obama, Clinton, Max Baucus, Romney, and others get paid tens, even hundreds of thousands of dollars just to make a few speeches.

                  I don’t think all of our politicians are faithless. I think many are faithfully doing the best that they can in our very corrupt system, and I don’t expect perfection or even agreement on even most issues with them.

                  However, our current political leadership across parties and their ostensible ideologies seem more like those religious con artists who emotionally rape, and financially steal from believers and honest pastors, priests and other servants of God. That I really really hate and am angry over.

                  1. NotTimothyGeithner

                    “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” James Madison

                    Carrying this idea forward, the problem isn’t that politicians don’t have good intentions, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Pressure, pressure, pressure is what is necessary in politics.

                    After years of Catholic school, I am familiar with the saints as in they have a list of saints, but the saints who weren’t martyrs or forced mass conversions didn’t get to be saints because they were polite or just had good intentions. They were good when it was hard to be good. Expecting a politician to be a saint is absurd, so we need to make it hard for even the “good” politicians to not be good. If pressure hits the “good” politicians, imagine how the bad politicians will react.

          2. tooearly

            This is so true. I found my friends who supported the Iraq War based on WMD to be especially quiet when the truth came out

      3. Jeff W

        “…[Nader] should have run within the Democratic primaries to pull the party to the left and tout his issues and then unify behind the party’s candidate. Sanders did exactly that and now people say he shouldn’t have run within the Party…”

        Right—because when people can’t admit the “what,” the substance of something—here, the systemic flaws and weaknesses of the Democratic Party—and can’t even admit that they can’t admit that (it’s like the Stalinist prohibition against admitting the prohibition), they point to the “how,” the way something is done (i.e., here, running inside or outside of the party, take your pick). But the “how” doesn’t matter at all — they really just don’t want to hear—and can’t admit that they don’t want to hear—the “what.”

    2. Anon

      Interesting paragraph:

      The first primary contest — the Iowa Caucus — was scheduled to take place on the 1st of February. But by January, the campaign rhetoric had already reached a fever pitch. Though Clinton was still the national front runner by a wide margin, Sanders lashed out at her, saying she was running a “desperate” campaign that lacked excitement. He mocked her sincerity and questioned her integrity. He tried to delegitimize her by angling for a one-on-one debate with the Republican nominee. And yes, he even had the gall to call her unqualified for the job. Anti-Hillary sentiment was spreading like wildfire in liberal circles, and Sanders was eager to throw as much gasoline on it as possible. This endeared him even further to his young, anti-establishment devotees, who nearly carried him to victory in Iowa. Clinton won the caucus by a razor-thin margin, yet instead of conceding, he characterized the race as a “virtual tie.” Incapable of accepting even a narrow defeat, he went on to accuse the Iowa Democratic party of losing votes.

      Oddly enough, or not, no mention whatsoever of the good fortune to win six consecutive coin tosses to get that Iowa primary.

      1. L

        This premise that Sanders attacked Clinton’s qualifications for the position shows up in several places within the article. Interestingly in the portion I cited above the author actually links to a CNN piece that qualifies Sanders’ own words in part by citing headlines that imply that Clinton had started by by questioning his qualifications based upon things he had done and not done.

      2. Arizona Slim

        Not to mention the widespread voter suppression here in Arizona. The number of Maricopa County polling places was cut WAY down. And nary a whisper of protest from the Arizona Democratic Party.

    3. Tom

      Bernie was never negative and ugly to Clinton; he just told the truth and those with her thought it was negative and ugly. (h/t H.S. Truman)

      1. Geoph

        I tried an experiment in numerous comment threads during the primaries: I’d post one comment that listed all the policy related issues I thought made Clinton a bad candidate and asked for supporters to reply with their rebuttals. Then, a while later would post a critique of her personality. Every time the policy comment went unreplied to where as the personality comment would light up with vitriol and defenses of Clinton.

        Her supporters actively ignored/avoided any substantive policy critiques and zeroed in on the personality angle looking to justify their victimhood narrative. That is why they still feel persecuted – it is the only thing they focus on.

        1. Ian

          This just goes to show that the biggest problem, perception wise, that Clinton had was that the truth was negative and ugly and making reference to the reality in front of anyone that was willing to open their eyes showed how ugly and negative that reality was. Clinton’s campaign at the end of the day, was run on relying on cognitive dissonance within her camp and among the masses, TINA and a thoroughly disgusting opponent to point the finger at.

    4. Basil Pesto

      I read it all the way down. It really is something else. I’m surprised her hands aren’t covered in powdered nacre from the pearl clutching.

      Another point – in her (apparently shaky, I’m not as well versed in American political history as some of you are) conception of the concept of the ‘moment candidate’, it seems to follow that, if Barack Obama was not de facto a moment candidate, he certainly marketed himself as one.

    5. Big River Bandido

      When you point out the substantive flaws of an opponent, there’s no way to do that “nicely”. That doesn’t mean the criticism is out of bounds, even if it’s harsh. If the criticism is true, it’s necessary.

      As an example: Blair Durkee’s piece is complete, utter nonsense and betrays a hive mentality and an embarrassing lack of objectivity and awareness. Harsh? Sure. Also true.

      The criticisms Sanders articulated against Clinton were by no means unfair, untrue, or inappropriate. The fact that some liberals try and “shame” Sanders (and his supporters) because they “weren’t being nice” is just proof that liberals have nothing to fall back on but virtue signaling and manners. Their politics are absolutely without substance, and that’s why they’ve been losing so badly for so long.

  5. polecat

    With regard to Verbena reseeding … every spring, I find All sorts of things germinating in our yard wherever I’ve composted (we compost virtually all kitchen scraps & yard prunings … what the hens don’t get fed !) : lemon balm, lavender, various sages, fuzzy kiwis, cat mints, fairy wands, berries, etc., etc.. Some I rogue out, others I leave in situ or transplant elsewhere in the yard, if room avails … no verbenas though.

    1. Harold

      For what it’s worth, my verbena reseeds most in a “self-watering” former tomato box that I no longer grow tomatoes in (it is too small). It is always moist there. It also reseeds in the gravel path, which also tends to be moist underneath. It is rather slow to come into flower though I think because my urban garden faces north east and is semi-shaded, more so as the season wears on. The sun that it does get is extremely strong, however.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Tall verbena, V. bonariensis, reseeds freely here. It isn’t long-lived, so that’s fortunate. Lemon balm is a weed if we let it go to seed, but I rarely see the others volunteer. Blackberries, of course, and a number of native trees, which I have to weed out.

      In New Mexico, we were burying kitchen scraps in the garden, and got a forest of dates and chilis. Unfortunately, dates aren’t hardy in Albuquerque, and can’t be transplanted – very deep tap root.

      1. polecat

        The lemon balm is a very prolific self-sower .. however, I let it do it’s thing, as I also keep honeybees, who are attracted to its’ flowers …
        I also incorporate it, along w/ other herbs, to make a ‘tea’ .. which I then mix with cane sugar to feed the hives as needed, as a way of approximating the nectar foragers might aquire out in the field.

        My bee groove on it !

  6. polecat

    I’m starting to admire those Juggalos, but methinks they need some serious steampunk attire, for added effect !

  7. skippy

    Ref: “The 46 hottest cars at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show” [Business Insider]. Why is it that the dominant automobile designs today all look like bloated, sharkish predators?

    Thinking along the same lines Lambert, especially Benz when it came out with its completely new line 3ish years ago, aquatic is how I viewed it. So devo, returning to the ocean whence we came whilst the interiors are Sci Fi techno space ship.

    On the other hand I showed the wife the new Benz ute [pick-up in your vernacular] and she liked it, tho a mate that manages constructions sites for a T1 concern thought it was a bit over the top. This coming from the owner of a black label VW Amarok, that’s until showed him a photo of a Ford Shelby pick up truck.

    Now I could get the Benz ute for impressing the clients, tho I think the old 2006 ex fleet Toyota 4D 3.0 TD with almost 300Klm on it will stay for a bit. Looks almost new and you can clean the inside out with a leaf blower.

    1. Synoia

      Good luck with the German engineering. They all have an excellent loaner programs at their dealerships, because, unlike Toyota, they need a loaner program.

      I knew the German Auto dealers service tech by names. I didn’t even know where my Toyota dealer was located.

      1. skippy

        Have over 100Klm on a C200 2.0 TD that’s 3 years old now, normal 25Klm services and tyre replacement, once did a 1200+Klm trip with 4 ppl in the car and a full boot on one tank i.e. less that 4ltr per 100Klm.

        Toyota Hilux, some wonder why some use them as weapon platforms.

  8. Massinissa

    “Why is it that the dominant automobile designs today all look like bloated, sharkish predators?”

    I clicked on the article, thinking, “Lambert has to be exaggerating a little”.

    Then I looked at the pictures and thought, “Actually, Lambert hit it on the nose…”

    Sorry for doubting you Lambert!

  9. Pat

    Aerodynamics are one reason the cars resemble sharks, but the teeth like grills are…disturbing.

    Not quite as disturbing as the writer bemoaning the fact that the Mercedes pick up truck won’t be sold in the US when said truck has a truck bed that is really a trunk. Sort of takes much of the function out of the truck. It is truly a pick up for someone who would not be caught dead on a farm or a ranch or working construction. My mother loved her truck. Still even her largely urban truck sometimes got used for hauling furniture or even junk to the dump. That Mercedes would be hard pressed to haul anything but Ikea flat pack furniture.

  10. anonn

    Interesting that if you google Toys R Us or Aerosoles, a shoe retailer that also just announced restructuring/bankruptcy, you can see that both were recently acquired by private equity parasites. Like Sports Chalet, Guitar Center, Payless, and many others. It also seems like every retailer suddenly having cash flow problems and bankrupting has been victimized by private equity, yet the stories coming out never mention this.

    I wish there was an honest business media in this country where someone could look into those companies’ books and give us some more insight. Like how much was being looted from these companies every year? A couple of million, or a hundreds of millions? It makes a big difference! These failures are always blamed on Amazon and online retailing, but how big a factor is Amazon in selling cheap shoes to poor people, and how big a factor is suddenly having to pay some looters from Bain Capital a few billion bucks?

    People are starting to get it, though. Three or four years ago when I told people that I would not buy a beer from any company that’s been acquired by PE, people universally scoffed. Now a good percentage of beer drinkers not only know what I’m talking about, but have come to the same conclusion.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I wish there was an honest business media in this country where someone could look into those companies’ books and give us some more insight. Like how much was being looted from these companies every year? A couple of million, or a hundreds of millions?

      There is a reason they call it private equity. If they had to publicly report the scale of the looting, there would be more “concern” over their behavior.

    2. Chris

      There is an established business model in the extractive industries:
      1. Identify an under-exploited asset
      2. Take effective control of the asset
      3. Convert asset to cash
      4. Profit!
      Extractive industries include mining, forestry, government funding and venture capital.
      In the case of the last-mentioned, the typical path is:
      1. Purchase a viable business
      2. Increase cash reserves using egregious levels of debt
      3. Remove cash via exorbitant bonuses and management fees
      4. Tart up the balance sheet by introducing “efficiencies” (eg cut salaries and staff numbers, raid the pension fund, cut inventory via discount sales and deferred re-stock, soften terms of trade with suppliers)
      5. Offload the business to an unwitting patsy (sale to a corporation or investor, or via an IPO)
      6. Rinse and repeat
      Recent examples include Carphone Warehouse and BHS in the UK, and Dick Smith in Australia.

  11. Fiery Hunt

    Interesting watching Pelosi’s event get hijacked by screaming immigration activists.
    It seems the Democrats’s Identity Politics Monster has taken a page from the Republican’s Tea Party Monster.

    I think these activists are wrong in so many ways but anything that brings down Clinton, Pelosi, DiFi, etc works for me.

  12. Plenue

    Looks like Ken Burns has excreted another pretentious documentary presenting a past conflict with lots of false equivalency. Haven’t seen it yet, but from what I’ve read it focuses a lot on things like Ho Chi Minh being a true believer Leninist, while minimizing or omitting things like the little little fact that South Vietnam was an utterly illegal fake country the US created in order to prevent a national election and reunification because it didn’t like the projected results. It talks about large numbers of North Vietnamese Catholics moving south, but doesn’t mention the covert operation the US engaged in to help them move, so they would artificially boost Ngo Dinh Diem’s vote count (the election was an utter farce for about a dozen reasons).

    1. Wukchumni

      I wouldn’t be so sure about your assumptions, as it’s a warts & all gig from what I saw of the first episode, with plenty of blame that can be doled out to both French and American efforts. I liked the idea that so many North Vietnamese soldiers were included in interviews.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Here is an observation. If it includes both sides, it is a documentary. If it has only one side, it is propaganda. Now watch your main stream media with this in mind.

    2. petal

      I attended two special screenings over the last 3 years that included question panels with Burns and others that worked on and appeared in the film. Please give it a chance.

    3. Jacqueline

      There’s some pretty fascinating history in Burns & Novick’s ‘Viet Nam’, including the fact that Ho Chi Minh was a true believer in American democracy long before he joined the communist party. I’d encourage folks to watch ‘Viet Nam’, particularly if you, like me, were in your teens in the early ’60s.

      1. Jess

        I agree. I think Burns has done a good job of explaining the background, the issues involving the French, betrayal of FDR’s promises by Truman in the face of Cold War pressures, etc. And tonight was even better. Lots of people in that doc who are now, and were then, calling “bullshit” on the U.S. government.

  13. Jim Haygood

    Defending apartheid:

    BISLACH AIR BASE, Israel (AP) — Israel and the U.S. inaugurated the first American military base on Israeli soil on Monday, which will serve dozens of soldiers operating a missile defense system.

    The base is located within an existing Israeli air force base and will operate under Israeli military directives.

    Israeli and U.S. military officials cut a ribbon at the base Monday, where the American and Israeli flags flew side by side and soldiers from both countries commingled.


    Israel is not a NATO member. But opening a US base (which surely will grow in size — this is just the camel’s nose under the tent flap) puts a de facto US tripwire on Israeli soil.

    Unlike the US military which eliminated racial segregation in 1948, the Israeli military still excludes Israeli Arabs from national service.

    In Israel, we’re defending American values … of the Jim Crow era.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …is there beta in that new fact-on-the-ground?

      And there’s a reason that many Israel-ites refer to the US as “Uncle Sucker.” With that arch, sharp-edged sense of Yiddish humor…

    2. Bill Smith

      The base has been there since about 2008 or 2009. This is just a paperwork issue. The base operates the X-Band radar (AN/TPY-2 )that the US has there. Basically the same radar that deploys with THAAD. About the same number of people since the beginning – 120 or so.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Yes, Israel is our good friend in the region. The US presence at that location is now baked into the ground truths. Nothing to see here, or be concerned about. And Israelis are joining in the bombing of Syria. Nothing to worry about. The Israelis have between 200 and 600 nuclear weapons, are outside all the feeble international agreements trying to limit the spread of nuclear WMDs. And have a well documented history of provoking destabilization and even attacking US ships, and our own state security people call the Israelis the greatest espionage threat to the US. But that base has been there going on 10 years, approximately, more or less, so it’s practically part of the archeology of the area now. Just a paperwork issue. Just a little radar emplacement. A-OK.

    1. wilroncanada

      Or they don’t care if they hurt their own party.
      If they define the ‘party’ as strictly their own sycophants, then those who object to their mudslinging ‘ain’t in it’. The way to shrink a party and lose elections while raising money for self.

    2. Anonymized

      Iron Law of Institutions, etc. In other words, it’s a feature not a bug. A Democratic Party without Clinton at the head is illegitimate.

  14. Plenue

    Strether has compared this book affair the the blowing up of the Great Sept of Baelor. Hillary is Cersei Lannister with none of the charm or guile. These people really are just that petty and vain.

  15. Ned

    “HP once again caught sneaking code into printers to reject third-party ink”

    So besides downloading the drivers, you should never-ever download the hardware or security updates? Got it!

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