2:00PM Water Cooler 1/9/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, I had to get my arms around the Meltdown and Spectre bugs in the time that I usually write Water Cooler. So I must beg your indulgence for an open thread. –lambert

Of course, there’s Oprah, neoliberal galaxy brain. Holy moley, her boomlet hasn’t popped yet! But in a world where Trump can be President, everything is permitted…

I’ve also had the vague sense recently that the news flow — I ingest enormous amounts of content daily, like a baleen whale scooping up krill — has changed in some way with the new year. I feel that the volume of gaslighting and chicanery slash bezzlement and general madness and genuine stories of interest that never make it into Pravda on the Potomac and Izvestia and the Hudson has not changed, but I feel that an additional enormous volume of ideas to be tracked has been added. For example, Jared Bernstein engages with the MMT community, generating a series of exchanges I really ought to have mastered in detail. For example, DSA discussions of strategy and tactics, ditto. For example, new thoughts on concentration and anti-trust, ditto. For example, neoliberal epidemics and embodiment. If we imagine the news as a Christmas tree — bear with me, here — there are just as many lights and decorative baubles (and actual, edible gingerbread cookies with frosting) as before, but there are also many, many more presents under the tree. Readers, do you have the same sense? More interesting ideas than ever to track? If so (or even if not so), what are some of the ideas you are tracking?

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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, pleas s e place it at the start of your mail in parentheses: (thus). Otherwise, I will anonymize by using your initials. See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. Today’s plant (Re Silc):

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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. allan

    Kodak shares soar on news of cryptocurrency venture [D&C]

    Shares of Eastman Kodak stock were up 44 percent in midday trading after the company announce a new cryptocurrency initiative.

    On Tuesday, the company unveiled a licensing partnership with Wenn Digital to launch an image rights management platform called KODAKOne and a photo-centric cryptocurrency called KODAKCoin.

    In a release, the company said the KODAKOne platform will be an encrypted, digital ledger of rights ownership for photographers to register both new and archival work that they can then license for use.

    The company describes KODAKCoin as “a new economy for photography,” which will allow photographers to receive payment for licensing their work immediately upon sale, sell their work confidently on a secure blockchain platform. …

    The initial coin offering will open on January 31, 2018 and is open to accredited investors from the U.S., UK, Canada and other select countries. …

    How much longer can investors clamoring for WaterCoolerCoin be denied their ICO?

      1. Toshiro_Mifune

        If this allows them to start producing Kodachrome in 4×5 format again I’ll support it

      2. John Zelnicker

        @Lambert – Thank you for that. Fine art photography doesn’t get nearly the respect as an art form as it should.

      1. pr

        if you assume kodak can raise $150-200m in cash by selling “tokens” (nothing), the price movement today is perfectly rational (~$4 per share x ~50m shares)

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Not familiar with this guy, but he seems a little naive writing things like this (emphasis added):

      That’s why we have a Federal Reserve that can quickly and without political interference decide to take money out of the economy

      Without political interference! And the DNC doesn’t favor any particular candidate either I bet.

    2. Micky9finger

      Thanks for the link.
      I’m a serious follower of billy mitchell and mmt. I wondered about the passing reference to jared burnstein.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author


      I would be applauding Oprah too had she displayed an act of true valor and led a conversation about the way our political system is giving tribute to the wealthy by taking from the poor. I would have joined in the ovation if Oprah talked about the oppression of the struggling masses who are being victimized by the cunning of the moneyed gentry. It’s the flavor of the moment to talk about Roy Moore and his depraved predilections, but talking about personalities while overlooking the politics and policies that indenture the vast majority of Americans into a life of financial uncertainty and anxieties is nothing more than gutless pandering. After eight years of Obama’s platitudes and a year of Trump’s disorders, I’ve had enough of politicos pretending to be for us as they read words from teleprompters written by speech writers.

      Oprah is not a truth teller, she is just another polished politician dressed in the guise of a shaman. Where was Oprah’s indignation as her chosen one Obama endorsed monetary policies that shoveled over $14 trillion to the same criminals who bled our nation while he gave the back hand to millions of Americans who lost their homes to foreclosures? Where was Oprah’s rage when Obama continued Bush’s repugnant wars of choice as he ordered the bombing of innocent civilians in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and beyond? Did you know that 90% of the people exterminated by drones are innocent civilians? You know, the people our military-financial complex turns into abstractions by calling men, women and children “collateral damage”. Oprah is all in on #MeToo, but what about the teeming victims of Wall Street who are calling concretes their new homes and the endless stream of bodies stacking up from Aleppo, Tripoli to Sana’a. Where are their #WeToo champions?

  2. Jane

    Oprah doesn’t want to be President, she already believes she’s fulfilling her mission on earth, at least that’s what she told Piers Morgan

    I am the messenger to deliver the message of redemption, of hope, of forgiveness, of gratitude, of evolving people to the best of themselves.


    I am very clear that my life and my purpose is bigger than myself. This isn’t — you know, this isn’t all about me, you know, having houses and shoes. It’s about, how can I be used for something greater than myself? And that is why I’m here. That is why Negro me, former colored girl in Mississippi, has a network. Because I know what to do with it. I know how to use it for something that’s greater than my own self-whatever.

    Although she may be happy to reveal her taxes…even if her least favourite thing is paying them

    The most pain I feel is — and my accountants will tell you this. Every time I write a check to the IRS, it’s a ceremony.

    1. diptherio

      Oprah is the only one who can save us from Trump. She is his polar opposite. While he is a vacuum of depravity, she is a font of illumination. We should all do the right thing now and get down on our knees and start praying to her to save us. Oprahism will be bigger than Scientology and Christian Scientism put together, mark my words. She will be our next dictat…President.

      Seriously though, when Trump announced I just knew that he was going to win. I get the same feeling now about Oprah….it’s totes gonna happen.

      1. Synoia

        I am the messenger to deliver the message of redemption, of hope, of forgiveness, of gratitude, of evolving people to the best of themselves.

        AKA Second coming of Christ?

        I’m looking forward to the “Rich Man to Heaven” and “eye of the needle” part next, unless that part only applies to Men.

        When should we expect the vow of poverty, and the public appearances in sackcloth and ashes? Or are they to be Louis Vuitton sackcloth and Chanel ashes?

        1. JTFaraday

          Oprah is a rich woman and the product (quite literally) of our culture but she mostly made her money honestly within that culture, unlike almost everyone of note in the Trump Admin. I’m not sure an Oprah presidency would be a good thing for the US, not so much because of the woman herself but because I don’t think it would winnow down the culture wars. Even if Trumpertantrums don’t dislike O, they’ll dislike her fans and their smug jubilation at her supposed win. That’s all it takes.

          More importantly, I also think we should get away from figurehead presidencies or, alternatively, we should acknowledge the importance of whole Presidential administrations and deal with that accordingly.

          Arguably Obama like Trump (as it’s turning out) was a figurehead. Ditto Bush the younger, who seemed to give too much power to Dick Cheney and fellow neocons. For that matter, Bill Clinton may have brought his own friends to DC and invented triangulation, but it seems he was really captured–and thoroughly corrupted– in the Oval Office spending too much time with Rubin and Greenspan. Or at least that’s the way Robert Reich tells it, and he eventually left the Administration over it.

          High finance has been parked in the President’s office since the days of Washington and Hamilton, who colluded together in antidemocratic projects accordingly. Really, I’ve said this before (albeit a long time ago) but you need to take the Presiency with a whole vanguard party. not one solitary person. This was always going to be Obama’s problem for example. He didn’t have his own administration. He could have, there were many people who would have helped, but he needed to work a little to put it together and he didn’t– tossing Jared Bernstein into Joe Biden’s bucket of warm spit was never going to do anything.

          As a result, even politically correct history will eventually name Obama at best a mediocre president and he will be forever tied to the Trump backlash, a disaster in the making unless he somehow miraculously can turn his brand of disaster politics into some sort of win for the public before his time is up. With the current Congress, no way that will happen.

      2. neo-realist

        Listening to her, I have the feeling that like Trump, Oprah’s ego is in love with the idea of being President, but when it comes to the brass tacks of putting herself out there to be crucified by right wing radio talkers and TV news networks, not to mention getting dog whistled as an Aunt Jemima with $$$ by GOP campaign ads, I’m not sure that she wants all the hard work she’s done to build her brand to be destroyed by a brutal knife fight in an alley Presidential campaign.

        On the other hand, if Oprah, unlike most democrats, can demonstrate that she can bring a gun to a knife fight with a GOP incumbent, I’d feel differently

      3. Robert McGregor

        The country could elect a black male in 2008, but that doesn’t mean it could elect a black female in 2020. Oprah is mega-popular only with a certain TV audience. She is not going to get the crossover vote from moderately conservative white men like Obama got. Many white men like to be around charismatic black men–sports and music. Doesn’t apply to black women. Sorry, yes, partially because sexism. But a “Dem Primary From Hell” would be Oprah vs. Zuckerberg!

        1. neo-realist

          From what I’ve noticed, moderate and moderate conservative white women love Oprah, but I’m not sure that it’s enough of a vote to change the electoral college dynamic if she doesn’t resonate with working and middle income white males.

    2. dcblogger

      WOW, talk about a Messiah complex:
      I am the messenger to deliver the message of redemption, of hope, of forgiveness, of gratitude, of evolving people to the best of themselves.

      1. perpetualWAR

        You haven’t been witnessing Oprah’s egomania? She’s the only person who has a monthly magazine featuring HER on the cover every month. She LOVES herself. A. Lot.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          An imperious, narcissistic, celebrity billionaire. I guess we could do worse. Oh, wait …

      2. relstprof

        Late Capitalist Meritocratic Messianism.

        There’s an article for Zizek in there somewhere.

      3. Robert McGregor

        Speaking of megalomania, exactly what did she do to win her the “Presidential Medal of Freedom?” Or
        does just being the top earning black female in the country suffice? As in, “This is what ‘Freedom’ brings you–you can go from being a poor black child to a famous billionaire!

      4. Charger01

        This reminds me of Michael Moore ‘s book back in 2002 or 2003 specifically promoting the concept of Oprah for Prez. Even a jaded lefty like Nader wrote a book “it takes a billionaire to save us” after citizens united. Apparently money is the only politically proxy

      5. Lambert Strether Post author

        > evolving people to the best of themselves.

        I’m not hearing the part about throwing the money changers out of the temple. Or the “forgive us our debts” part, either.

  3. epynonymous

    The diplomatic fallout with pakistan is only publically ‘developing’ now, but I knew something was up during Trump’s foreign policy speech back in August.

    The trouble with Trump, is when he *is* serious people may choose not to see it as such.

    Here’s the text of the speech… the network broke into my American Ninja Warrior (I was planning on skipping the speech) or I wouldn’t have caught it. *from August, circa the eclipse*

    “The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach and how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond. Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists.

    In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices.

    But Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change, and that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. servicemembers and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.”

    RE: Oprah – Did she announce a party, or are we just trained to assume as a Democrat? ;)

    1. Synoia

      It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.”

      Step 1 (from Thump’s Immigration policies) – Send the non P Refugees back home.
      Step 2 Build a wall.
      Step 3…..

    2. Procopius

      Jeepers. Pakistan has nuclear weapons, too. Don’t think they have ICBMs, but they could probably buy some from the Chinese, who Trump seems to make a point of insulting from time to time. Who are these dimwits who think they could drop a bomb in North Korea and then say, “That was just a warning.”? Trump has three retired generals, who should have had CBR (Chemical Biological Nuclear) training, and should have had many classified briefings on the nature and capabilities of nuclear weapons. They should also be familiar with the decades of foreign policy that has led to the current situation with North Korea (basically, they have Nuclear Weapons because Bush/Cheney broke the American deal, kind of like how Trump now wants to break the deal with Iran). This isn’t like when we used to send the Marines into Vera Cruz or Nicaragua.

  4. TarheelDem

    It likely has escaped the notice of some people that 2020 is the Centennial of the 19th Amendment. And that it is an easy thought to commemorate it by electing a woman President, give the failed expectations for so many in 2016.

    And having the second black President be female would be a two-fer, as the Clinton phrase goes.

    But then, we are in a post-misogyny and post-racial world so explicitly talking about such things is what? In bad form because it is racist and misandrist?

    In fact, the duopoly is on the GOP’s life support. If they snap back, the Dems will be back in the game. If they start floundering, the Dems will have to realign.

    Wish that we would have gotten the first black female President out of the way when Barbara Jordan was still around and some traditions and norms were understood on both sides of the aisle. But I was was for Jimmy Carter’s second term back in the day too. And we see all too clearly the mess of Brezinski.

    The fear of Oprah is just the fear of continued neoliberalism with a little spiritualist evangelicalist Hollywoodism.

      1. RUKidding

        Q: does Oprah know how many homes she owns, and where they are located?

        That’s important for the debates.

    1. epynonymous

      I can’t wait to see how history remembers Sarah Palin.

      Perhaps, the brave, pre-Trump Trump. Who saw the Russians much earlier than the rest of us?

  5. Katy

    For example, new thoughts on concentration and anti-trust

    What the Future of U.S. Antitrust Should Look Like Harvard Business Review

    “Populists regard the consumer welfare standard as inadequate, because it pays no attention to the political dimension of antitrust — in particular, to the connection between economic concentration and corporate political power. Reflecting a tradition extending back a century to the thought of Louis D. Brandeis, populists believe that a multiplicity of businesses is preferable to a small number of large firms — for the health of local communities as well as economic sectors — even if consumers pay higher prices. Populists offer a plausible account of the historical record.”

    The author belittles this view by assigning to it the name “populist.” In, say, the mid-twentieth century, this view was simply called the antitrust laws.

    1. Procopius

      The division goes back to the Progressive Movement at the turn of the Century. Theodore Roosevelt, for example, was initially an enthusiastic trust-buster, but around 1905 there was a split in the movement with many Progressives, including Roosevelt, switching to the view that the economies of scale and resulting “efficiencies” meant that large companies had benefits as long as they were sensibly scrutinized.

  6. diptherio

    I think a lot of people around here will agree that there is a lot of power in a good narrative, a good story. For instance, the story about the Federal Government’s budget contrainsts has exerted tremendous power over our political discourse in this country. Likewise, the stories about our society being a meritocracy, the efficiency of unfettered financial markets, and the self-inflicted nature of poverty and unemployment.

    But those are the stories that masquerade as truth. What about the stories that are up front about their fictional nature? They are just as important, and largely work to shape how we see the world around us and what we think of as possible, desirable or just. Hence, the corporate media is filled up with CSI, Law & Order and other tales of heroic authorities battling back the encroaching chaos endemic to the lower orders of society…er, I mean criminals. Thus we end up with imaginations populated by fairy-tales that normalize and valorize some of the worst aspects of our society. This can make it hard to create different social arrangements, since many find it hard to visualize (much less actualize) something that hasn’t been shown to them already.

    What is called for, therefore, is a boatload of fiction about realities that we would actually like to inhabit. Enough of these dramas focused on the life of some corporate ladder-climber, lets have a drama about the trials and tribulations of a recycling worker co-op in Boston, or maybe a fictionalized version of the New Era Windows story. Why not a sit-com about a housing co-op? Why not more sci-fi along the lines of The Dispossessed, instead of more space operas that assume feudalism as the default social arrangement.

    That’s my brief summary of an article that got posted yesterday on Grassroots Economic Organizing: From Cop Dramas to Co-op Dramas. Go read it. It’s good.

    1. Marco

      Roseanne…the sitcom from the late 80s-90s…did an okay job (and presciently so) at bringing working-class humor and heart to an often hopeless upper midwestern decaying landscape. They are reviving the show, sans Goodman which is a shame.

        1. Marco

          Oops! I only learned about the reboot during an interview with Metcalf. I thought she said Goodman wasn’t involved…my bad. Favorite episode is the one where a politician comes to the door touting TAX INCENTIVES for companies to relocate to Lanford. Roseanne asks will the new companies pay union wages? Politician says “no”. She sufficiently terrorizes the pol that he ends up running from her whenever they meet. Hilarious.

  7. Sid Finster

    What I fear in a President Oprah(R) (or anyone like her) is not that she is a Bad Person, but that she is a personality and nothing else. In other words, she will be even more lost than Trump, even more dependent upon existing institutions and power structures to do anything, to find out anything, or to make sense of anything.

    Moreover, I don’t know whether Oprah has concrete ideas regarding policy or governance or how to put those ideas into practice. To the extent any of this is lacking, she would be quite amenable to “instruction” by existing players. In addition, it’s not clear what her experience is in making hard choices and standing up to those around her who want her to do evil. To the extent she cannot do these things, she will be vulnerable to those who urge her to take the easy way out.

    In sum – It’s like putting Chance Gardiner in the Oval Office.

    1. Eureka Springs

      Phil Donahue for her VP. /s

      Seriously though… yet another reason for binding bottoms-up established party platforms.

        1. watermelonpunch

          Crazy in retrospect, isn’t it?

          Still, I think we’ve had enough of reality tv in our government, haven’t we?

    2. Robert McGregor

      As ignorant as Trump is—at least in international commercial Real Estate he has had to bang his head against political realities. He even dealt with Russia—albeit as probably a crooked money launderer. Since a teenager, Oprah has lived in a bubble of preposterous fame and acclaim. I haven’t checked her archives, but I don’t think she interviewed many economists, generals, or foreign policy experts. Her sitting down with Putin or Kim would be even more one-sided than Trump sitting down with them. I think this “anti-expert” craze has gone far enough! Next thing we hear—Madonna will be running!

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        Oprah actually did OK on Iraq. (I don’t know her whole history on this — since I haven’t owned or watched TV for decades — but she’s certainly better than, say, David Frum. Or Hillary Clinton.

        I think the question is “How would Oprah govern?” To which the answer: “Oprah would govern as the neoliberal squillionaire she is.”

        1. JTFaraday

          I don’t think Oprah is a neoliberal. I don’t know that she has the knowledge to critique neoliberalism and her Obama support likely means she didn’t look too closely at the past 10 years, but she made her money in the consumption economy.

    3. Waking Up

      Would she be any different from fellow billionaire Donald Trump or even Barack Obama regarding public education? Oprah has publicly stated she wants education reform in the form of more Charter Schools. She has donated millions of dollars for Charter schools. So, once again, we would get a president who threatens public education.

    4. Procopius

      Worthy objections. I’m not sure that any person can really perform the job any more. I would rather vote for someone other that Oprah, but I admit I would be hard put to decide between her and a really qualified person like Hillary, who scared the hell out of me in so many ways. One thing to consider, though, she would almost certainly choose better people than Trump, especially judges.


    Speaking of juicy bezzle: my Assemblyperson has been indicted for defrauding the government and obstructing justice:

    Harris looted tens of thousands of dollars in state and federal funds in several scams — and then tried to cover up her crimes, according to a newly-unsealed federal indictment.

    The politician spent $10,000 of her ill-gotten gains on vacation getaways, covering airline and cruise tickets for the politician and her husband, officials charged.

    And she allegedly used other funds to pay her lingerie tab at Victoria’s Secret.

  9. John k

    My fond hope is that the oprah hype is a sign of desperation by dnc, nobody except Bernie is getting traction.
    The more bodies that think they have a chance, the better… there will be just one progressive against a field of neolib. And even better if Oprah takes the southern states that will go rep in the general anyway… it means Biden et al won’t have a southern firewall against sanders. You don’t suppose sanders is controlling their minds?

    It seems highly likely we will have a deep recession before 2020, big plus for progressives. If sanders stays healthy I predict he wins the nom, wins the general in a landslide with broad coattails that gives dems control of both houses. If this comes about he will have great power to do good for the working class, power that big o received but had no interest in using.
    But bear in mind I’m an eternal optimist…

    1. WheresOurTeddy

      If they can’t fix the D primary a la 2016, he’ll be removed by any means necessary.

      To D party cretins who live at the trough of donor money, a Sanders presidency is worse than Trump. And to those who imagine themselves to be your betters, his victory is the darkest timeline.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > To D party cretins who live at the trough of donor money

        There are not very many of the Shing. Yes, $700 million went to five (5) consultants in 2016, but five is not many. I think the bet that Sanders is making is that the $27 donors can outweight and outfight that tiny clique. Hopefully he is right.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      The Clinton apparatus, David Brock and all his connections, the Congressional Black Caucus and all their connections and supporters, etc. will accuse Sanders of racism in various ways. They will try sly methods like John Lewis’s pretense that Sanders was never civil rights involved where Oprah was, they will bring out
      Al Sharpton to imply Sanders of racism, etc. etc.

      It would be a very clarifying primary. In which event, if the Democrats once again won’t let me have my Sanders, I once again won’t let them have their Winfrey.

      1. Procopius

        I don’t think you can count on the Congressional Black Caucus to follow the playbook. I also don’t think Bernie is going to run. Sure, my Congressperson is 85 and looks to be running for many years to come, I’m 80 and I can tell ya after you hit 75 it’s up to chance and genetics. I’m lucky that my health is still good, astonishing considering how I abused my body when I was in my early youth (younger than 50). I can’t even play pool for more than four hours now. I don’t think campaigning will be something Bernie wants to do by 2020. I’d love to see Keith Ellison run, but that’s probably not feasible. Wossisname Perez had a great pro-labor record until he fell in with the Obama/Clinton cabal. I might could overcome my resentment for him. Kirsten Gillibrand looks good, but her rush to judgement on Franken dims her glory. I could vote for Warren, but I think she’s better suited to the Senate. There are other candidates than Bernie, but I admit the bench isn’t all that deep. And Biden is right out. No way I could vote for that creep.

  10. CalypsoFacto

    I agree with Lambert’s thoughts re: more good interesting ideas to track recently. I think Matt Stoller has it right when he says sometimes on his Twitter that people are waking up, learning how to think critically again. I think there is also a huge element of generational change happening, where the elders are not handing off power gracefully to the youngers, or didn’t do a good job preparing for the hand off, and a lot of the public agitation we see is a result of that rather than the foundations of a new authoritarianism or revolution. This process of intergenerational changing of the guard will take a few more years to fully play out. Most American youngers are politically left and downwardly mobile. Trump may get a second term if the Democrats double down on identity and pre-Trump status quo, but he’s the last of his kind. Apres Trump, le deluge. Both parties are toast in their current form.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      One of the big reasons for preserving net neutrality, IMNSHO, is that the new wave of alternative voices is gaining traction via the internet and social media. Much fun is made of those of us who hang out on, say, Facebook, but the fact is I’ve managed to make a few people pause and consider. The ongoing effort by various governments, including the US, to stifle the voices that reject the narrative is telling, and I just read that a committee in the UK is literally demanding the major social media people come up with evidence of Russian propaganda or “face sanctions”.

      So, yes, I very much agree with Lambert. I think we’re seeing the first cracks in the Great Wall, because like most such constructs the one that has kept people in the US drowsing between attacks of hysteria over “national security” only survives until someone figures out how to get over it.

      Nor are all of us elders “handing off” to the youngsters. There’s still plenty of fight left in this old gal, and I have several decades of drowsiness to make up for.

      1. CalypsoFacto

        The future belongs to the young. Septagenarians and older should not be leading government. Especially if they spent decades drowsing.

          1. CalypsoFacto

            This is fair criticism. I wasn’t thinking of Sanders when I posted, I was thinking of Pelosi. But it cuts both ways; the problem to me is Pelosi’s politics and not her age. And Sanders is acceptable because of his policy goals, his age is no factor. I did see the strong comments exactly on this topic in yesterday’s thread after I posted this and wished I hadn’t posted this comment phrased as such.

            The intergenerational conflict I mentioned in my first comment feels only somewhat relevant to many of these discussions the more I think about it. I’m not sure it’s entirely neoliberal divide and conquer among the classes – maybe just a natural part of the cycle of political change – it seems a similar struggle happened in the 70s after Watergate. Likely we’ll see Pelosi primaried or retiring in the next few years :) Nevertheless it’s not really critical enough to hammer at in comment threads because it just encourages division.

    2. Oregoncharles

      Trust me: so far, this is nothing compared to the 60s. I wish it were comparable; we might be getting somewhere.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think the English language has a construct that makes poor reasoning about political power almost inevitable, that construct being: NOUN + ADJ.

      For example, GENERATION + YOUNGER. When you think about it:






      considered as classes (i.e., the set whose members comprise all the adjectives, or, intersectionally, some of the adjectives) all have very different means of achieving and exercising political power, often at odds with each other.

      So, in the same way that you should always watch for sentences when the question is “we,” you should always watch for political nouns with only one adjective. For example, there is a reason why liberal Democrats always say:


      and never say


      the reason being that they deny the existence of a working class as such (and hence the need for universal concrete material benefits, especially for the working class, and see Upton Sinclair on liberal gatekeeping, means-testing, and credentialling).

  11. Jim Haygood

    Urban survival:

    As of Dec. 18, the combined level of dams supplying Cape Town was at a mere 31 percent of capacity.

    At the current rate of consumption, officials warn April 29, 2018 will become Day Zero, the day the city’s taps will be turned off.

    “The city of Cape Town could conceivably become the first major city in the world to run out of water, and that could happen in the next four months,” Dr. Anthony Turton, professor at the Centre for Environmental Management at the University of the Free State, told the New York Times.

    “It’s not an impending crisis — we’re deep, deep, deep in crisis,” he said.


    Cape Town has the warm green Indian Ocean to its east and the cold blue Atlantic [I know; I went skinny-dipping in it] to its west — but no water to drink.

  12. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    Yo should know the corrollary to “Everything i permited” ( “Nothing is real”)

    1. Procopius

      Israel was deeply involved with KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) in supporting the Al Qaeda/Isis “rebels” in Syria, which they saw as a defense against Iran. They fear Hizbollah developing a presence in the South of Syria, too.

    1. JTFaraday

      I seldom defend the rich, but Oprah rose up in a post-Fordist age and is a product of liberalism, with its emphasis on (psychologized) individualism, and neoliberal market centric economics. She is not a “neoliberal thinker” who systematically dismantled the New Deal.

  13. Ed

    Sorry, I am late to the thread (family surgical emergency) but Oprah is so full of herself that she needs to go on a diet.

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