2:00PM Water Cooler 9/19/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Readers, a final, weather-related delay caused me to get a late start. Until I can arrange my mise en place and fire up some content, please talk amongst yourselves. –lambert UPDATE 5:30PM This is still thin, but I’ll be back in form tomorrow.

Talk amongst yourselves!

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“Can Trade Agreements Be a Friend to Labor?” [Dani Rodrik, Project Syndicate]. “In practice, the problem with trade agreements’ labor provisions is not that they are too restrictive for developing countries; it is that they may remain largely cosmetic, with little practical effect. A key concern is enforcement. For one thing, charges of labor-rights violations can be brought only by governments, not by trade unions or human rights organizations. By contrast, investment disputes can be launched by corporations themselves.”



47 days until Election Day. 47 days is a long time in politics.

“Democrats’ Top-Secret Formula for Victory” [Frank Bruni, New York Times]. “Stop obsessing over ideology. It’s about personality.” Please kill me now.

“Democratic Primary Turnout Is Up 64%. Will That Matter in November?” [Governing]. “Polling conducted for the Republican National Committee earlier this month and leaked to reporters over the weekend shows that most Republicans — especially strong Trump supporters — don’t think Democrats can take over the U.S. House in November. In part, that’s because they dismiss the findings of pollsters who predicted Trump’s defeat in 2016.”

Senate: “New Polls: Tight Senate Races Across the Sun Belt” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “Florida, Texas effectively tied; mixed bag for both parties in Arizona, Nevada.”

FL Governor: “New Poll Suggests Progressivism More Popular Than Centrism with Florida Democrats” [GritPost]. “A recent poll of 2,000 Florida voters found that…. Democratic gubernatorial nominee Andrew Gillum is beating Republican Ron DeSantis by a comfortable margin…. The poll, which was jointly conducted by Reuters, Ipsos, and the University of Virginia. In the poll of 2,015 Florida adults, 50 percent said they would vote for Gillum in November, and 44 percent said they would cast their ballot for DeSantis. The remaining respondents were undecided. The results are notable given that both Gillum and DeSantis are seen as “base” candidates who represent the leftmost and rightmost factions of their respective parties. The six-point difference between the two candidates, which is outside the four-point “credibility margin,” shows that even though Gillum is an advocate of openly progressive positions like Medicare for All, a living wage, and repealing the Stand Your Ground law in Florida, he’s still winning enough approval to top DeSantis — at least among this sample of Florida voters.” • From what I see on the Twitter, Gillum is walking back #MedicareForAll, and starting to use “affordable care” verbiage. Can readers clarify?

NY-14: “data for politics #22: What happened in the NY-14?” [Data for Progress]. “Clearly, Cynthia Nixon was not simply interchangeable with other progressive candidates for NYC voters. Her defeat, happily, doesn’t point to the impotence of progressive policies in the neighborhoods that didn’t vote for her.” • A good breakdown of the district.

NY Governor: “Cuomo’s Win: It’s All About the Money” [Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone]. “The issue that’s dividing Democrats is not marijuana legalization, or a $15 minimum wage, or body cameras for cops, or any of a dozen other things. The issue is money. The “real” candidate is inevitably the one that lets donations from Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry and big tech and military contractors come pouring in. That candidate will always, 100 percent of the time, end up voting against an obvious reform or worsening an existing law.” • Taibbi has been on a roll, lately.

NY Governor: “Cuomo: Ocasio-Cortez win was ‘a fluke'” [Times-Union]. “With his victory, Cuomo seemed to demonstrate that he was immune to the progressive ‘blue wave’ disrupting Democratic races across the nation. He noted that he beat his left-leaning opponent by 36 percentage points in Crowley’s district, and won easily in all six hotly contested IDC Senate districts in New York City. ‘What we saw yesterday was clear and powerful,’ he said. ‘The turnout yesterday was extraordinary.'” • Note how malleable “Blue Wave” is, conceptually; here the reporter identifies it with progressives. But Democrats identify with Democrats as such, Blue Dogs and all. Also, there’s some chatter on the Twitter that Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Ratface Andy, but it’s all of the “Look at this YouTube” variety, which I don’t trust. There’s nothing on ACO’s Twitter feed, and a Google news search turns out nothing. Can readers clarify?

TX Senators: “New Polls: Tight Senate Races Across the Sun Belt” [Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball]. “The finding in the Texas Senate race is a more bullish result for Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D, TX-16) than other polls. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) leads by 4.5 points in the RealClearPolitics polling average, and led by nine in a Quinnipiac University poll released on Tuesday. One similarity between this poll and others is that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) is running ahead of Cruz in his own reelection bid, although other polls have shown the incumbent governor with a larger lead. The Crystal Ball rates the Texas Senate race as Leans Republican, and the gubernatorial race as Safe Republican.”

VA Senate: “American paradox: Voters want the anger to stop but can’t stop being angry” [WaPo]. • Holy moley, it’s a puff for former (?) CIA offoer Elissa Slotkin. running as a Democrats.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“In Georgia, a legal battle over electronic vs. paper voting” [WaPo]. “On one side are activists who have sued the state to switch to paper ballots in the November midterm elections to guard against the potential threat of Russian hacking or other foreign interference. On the other is Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who has declared the electronic system secure and contends that moving to paper ballots with less than two months to Election Day will spawn chaos and could undermine confidence among Georgia’s 6.8 million voters. Kemp, a Republican endorsed by President Trump — and an outspoken critic of federal election security assistance in 2016 — is running for governor in a competitive, nationally watched race against a Democrat who could become the nation’s first black female governor.” • Hoo boy.

“The Dance of Partisanship and Districting” (PDF) [Nicholas Stephanopoulos, Harvard Law & Policy Review]. From the abstract: “I then explore how redistricting law has responded to the ebbs and flows of partisanship. In the [the 1960s to the 1980s], courts (properly) focused on nonpartisan line-drawing problems like rural overrepresentation and racial discrimination. In the hyperpartisan [period from the 1990s to the present day], on the other hand, courts have (regrettably) refrained from confronting directly the threat, partisan gerrymandering, that now looms above all others. Instead, courts have either shut their eyes to the danger or sought to curb it indirectly through the redeployment of nonpartisan legal theories.”

“Serious design flaw in ESS ExpressVote touchscreen: “permission to cheat'” [Freedom to Tinker]. “But here’s the amazingly bad feature: ‘The version that we have has an option for both ways,’ [Johnson County Election Commissioner Ronnie] Metsker said. ‘We instruct the voters to print their ballots so that they can review their paper ballots, but they’re not required to do so. If they want to press the button ‘cast ballot,’ it will cast the ballot, but if they do so they are doing so with full knowledge that they will not see their ballot card, it will instead be cast, scanned, tabulated and dropped in the secure ballot container at the backside of the machine.’… Now it’s easy for a hacked machine to cheat undetectably! All the fraudulent vote-counting program has to do is wait until the voter chooses between “cast ballot without inspecting” and “inspect ballot before casting”. If the latter, then don’t cheat on this ballot. If the former, then change votes how it likes, and print those fraudulent votes on the paper ballot, knowing that the voter has already given up the right to look at it.” • Sounds like a selling point.

“Migrants Don’t Destroy Traditional Values–The Market Does” [Benjamin Studebaker]. “[T]he same strategies for encouraging efficiency and innovation tend to work everywhere. In the academic literature, when people write about what facilitates prosperity, particularly in a competitive global marketplace, they tend to describe a suite of behaviours which all countries can pursue and sets of institutions which all countries can adopt. To stay competitive, countries have to become more similar to each other. The deviants lose ground. And weak, poor countries get abused by strong, rich countries. This means that the distinctive, traditional ‘American’ or ‘British’ values which conflict with these imperatives have to be jettisoned.”

Stats Watch

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of September 14, 2018: Rose [Econoday].

Housing Starts, August 2018: “The housing starts and building permits report can be very volatile and the August report confirms the reputation” [Econoday]. “Today’s report is definitely a mixed bag but the gain for completions and the surge in multi-family starts are positives.”

Current Account, Q2, 2018: “arrowed sharply” [Econoday].

The Bezzle: “Report: Tesla Snared in Justice Department Criminal Probe” [Courthouse News]. “Federal authorities in the Northern District of California are looking at a tweet by Musk in early August in which he said he had lined up the necessary $70 billion to take his company private and would do so once the stock price hit $420. He has since backpedaled on those plans…. But outrage over the tweet hasn’t gone away, with short sellers filing a lawsuit and the Securities and Exchange Commission launching a civil inquiry into the matter.” • But wait! There’s more–

Mr Market: “Tilray Ends Wild Session Higher After Wiping Out 94% Gain” [Bloomberg]. “The stock’s wild ride Wednesday is emblamatic of the mania surrounding pot stocks, drawing comparisons to last year’s crypto craze that sent investors pouring into Bitcoin and its ilk. Tilray rallied to more than 14 times its July initial public offering price, making it one of the best IPOs in the past decade. The company has a market value that exceeds some mainstream stocks, including American Airlines and Clorox.” • Meanwhile, the people who made the market are still in jail…

The Bezzle: “Thai Cave Rescuer Sues Elon Musk Over ‘Pedo Guy’ Tweet” [Courthouse News] (the complaint). “Unsworth seeks more than $75,000 in damages and a court order to stop further attacks by Musk.” • $75K is a modest amount.

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on Wild Weather. “There has been a large number of hurricanes in world’s oceans” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Seems indeed that 180 is a floor.-

Class Warfare

“Vote No Sentiment Escalating at UPS” [Labor Notes]. “Delivery drivers’ top complaint is that the deal would allow UPS to create a second tier of ‘hybrid drivers’ who could deliver packages at a much lower wage. That’s the deal-breaker for 20-year driver Eugene Braswell. As far as he’s concerned, it’s unfair to have workers ‘doing the exact same thing that I’m doing, for less money.’ And in the long run, he believes selling out future hires will tear the union apart. Someday he’ll be a retiree, he said, and disgruntled hybrid drivers could be the ones deciding whether or not to safeguard his pension. He’s been comparing notes with his friend Vinnie, a shop steward at the post office, about how the letter carriers union has suffered since an arbitrator imposed a second tier in 2013. ‘They have the casuals working for less money, and they’ve got no unity at all,” Braswell said. “We’ve got to fight that tooth and nail.'” • Two-tier should be fought tooth and nail, and abolised where found (in, for example, Social Security).

News of The Wired

“To flee or not to flee: how the brain decides what to do in the face of danger” [Eurekalert]. “Though it has been many millennia since human lives were regularly threatened by predatory wild animals, the brain circuits that ensured our survival then are still very much alive within us today. “Just like any other animal in nature, our reaction to a threat is invariably one of the following three: escape, fight, or freeze in place with the hope of remaining unnoticed”, says Marta Moita, who together with Maria Luisa Vasconcelos led the study conducted at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisbon, Portugal.”

“For Trota: Practitioner of Women’s Health in the Middle Ages” [The Met]. “The Trotula was believed to have been written by a female practitioner named Trota from Salerno’s medical school….. The mysterious Trota sparked my curiosity into learning more about women’s health during the Middle Ages. Treatments of particular interest were rose, wormwood, and pennyroyal.”

“Now That I Have Cooled to You, or: Born 135 Years Ago Yesterday” [BLCKDGRD]. • William Carlos Williams. I haven’t read Williams in years, but now that I’ve started doing photography, if there is such a thing in the day of the iPhone, he makes more sense to me.

“What Happened to General Magic?” [New York Magazine]. “Magic spun out of Apple in 1990 with much of the original Mac team on board and a bold new product idea: a handheld gadget that they called a “personal communicator.” Plugged into a telephone jack, it could handle e-mail, dial phone numbers, and even send SMS- like instant messages—complete with emoji and stickers. It had an app store stocked with downloadable games, music, and programs that could do things like check stock prices and track your expenses. It could take photos with an (optional) camera attachment. There was even a prototype with a touch screen that could make cellular calls and wirelessly surf the then- embryonic web. In other words, General Magic pulled the technological equivalent of a working iPhone out of its proverbial hat—a decade before Apple started working on the real thing. Shortly thereafter, General Magic itself vanished.” • Oh well. Worth a read!

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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, please 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 (via):

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Readers, I’m still running a bit short on plants. Probably a little soon for fall foliage, or wrapping up the garden, but I’m sure you can find something! How about a project you completed over the summer?

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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. Tertium Squid

    Popular web comic points out some of the inherent contradictions in Youtube trying to tackle creator burnout:


    And their accompanying essay:


    For the creator native to these platforms, it’s not hard to determine what the beast wants. You come to understand when it reacts with delight or when it recoils and no doubt it’s simply a coincidence that it likes you best when you are prostrate before it in abject, dependent terror.

      1. Conrad

        That’s a fantastic video. Her examination of how the studios got my country to change employment law so as to strip away basic protections from film industry workers is also well worth watching.

        The fact that all we got for it was the flabby Hobbit triology adds insult to injury.

    1. L

      That reminds me a great deal of the points that Felix Salmon made in his piece on journalism: To all the young journalists asking for advice….

      “Platform” is one of those words which means pretty much what you want it to mean, or means pretty much nothing, depending on how you look at it. But at heart the idea is that the real value, in a media company, lies not in the human talent, but rather in some vague confluence of Product and Brand and Constantly Iterating Scalable Technology. The workers — the journalists — become easily replaceable cogs in the machine, one byline morphing seamlessly into the next.

      In essence Youtube is not much different than HuffPo except that HuffPo lets people burn out behind the scenes.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > The workers — the journalists — become easily replaceable cogs in the machine, one byline morphing seamlessly into the next.

        Certainly the Times stripping bylines from the front page would never be motivated by such crass considerations.

      1. DonCoyote

        “It is said that those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad. It may well be that a war neurosis stirred up by propaganda of fear and hatred is the prelude to destruction.”

        {Euripides had the original quote; John Boyd Orr added the observation on war neurosis}

  2. allan

    He’s running: Indicted Rep. Chris Collins vows to ‘actively campaign’ for seat [D&C]

    Rep. Chris Collins vowed Wednesday to “actively campaign” for re-election, two days after he reversed himself and decided to remain on the ballot this fall despite remaining under indictment on federal insider-trading charges.

    An attorney for Collins, R-Clarence, Erie County, announced Monday the congressman would no longer cooperate with efforts to take him off the November ballot after Republican leaders spent weeks finding a path to make it happen.

    But the announcement left open the question of whether Collins would publicly campaign for the seat or simply allow his name to stay on the ballot while remaining on the sidelines.

    He appeared to answer that question in an email to supporters Wednesday, pledging to ensure New York’s 27th congressional district — the most heavily Republican district in the state — “remains in Republican hands.” …

    To paraphrase Gen. Sherman, “If indicted, I will run; if elected, I will be pardoned.”

    1. Wukchumni

      “If indicted, I will run; if elected, I will be pardoned. If I lose I might have to make a run for it.”

      1. barrisj

        Yeah, humorous, but you don’t think this dickhead will win as a “dead-man-walking” in a Congressional district totally wired for Repubs? As they say on ESPN, “C’mon, man!”

  3. ChiGal in Carolina

    I received this email just now re the Obama Center and Jackson Park if anyone is interested, from a group called Jackson Park Watch. If the links don’t come through as such I will go back and grab them.

    Greetings, all,

    There has been a tidal wave of Jackson Park activity this week. Here’s a summary starting with the most recent announcement.

    For lease: 19.3 acres of prime parkland for 9.9 cents per year for 99 years

    Not surprisingly, perhaps, the City has offered the Obama Foundation a very sweet deal in the lease agreement that has been a long time in coming. As discussed in the Sun-Times and Crain’s, the proposed lease agreement does require the Obama Foundation to live up to some very basic standards including delaying any development until the completion of the federal review process, but it also proposes to give the Foundation control over this invaluable piece of historic public park on terms that amount to a quasi-privatization. It also underscores prior City and Obama Foundation assertions that virtually no replacement parkland would be needed even though the OPC site would take over 19.3 acres of Jackson Park now used for a wide variety of recreational activities that might potentially require a UPARR conversion approval.

    Also in the works at the same time is a proposed ordinance that would redefine the portion of Jackson Park to be given to the Obama Foundation. This altered site would conform to the Obama Foundation’s plans as revealed in 2017 to move the site north and east, taking over Cornell Drive and the Perennial Garden and eliminating the eastbound segment of the Midway Plaisance Drive between Stony Island and Cornell Drive.

    The revised ordinance and proposed lease ordinance will apparently be introduced to the City Council this Thursday, though they do not yet appear on the agenda as of mid-day Wednesday.

    Protect Our Parks lawsuit attracts Obama Foundation response

    The sudden urgency to introduce new ordinances for City Council approval is perhaps related to the September 20 hearing on the Protect Our Parks (POP) recent motion to require the City to cease work in Jackson Park. (See here for details of the POP motion.) Also timely, representatives of the Obama Foundation just made their first public comments on the POP lawsuit in discussion with the Tribune editorial board on Tuesday.

    City and Park District halt work on Jackson Park replacement track

    A day earlier, on Monday, Sept. 17, the City released the news that it was ceasing work on the new track/field facility necessitated because the existing track/field would be replaced by the OPC. In the meantime, the existing track/field remains intact and is in daily use. The City has previously denied to the public and in court (in the POP hearing on 8/14) that there was any connection between the OPC project and the new track/field facility. Of particular note are the Sun-Times reports that “[t]he city decision to stop the work came after a Sept. 11 meeting with the National Park Service and the Federal Highway Administration,” and that, according to the City’s deputy communications direction Shannon Breymaier, construction will not resume until “the federal agencies confirm that resumption of work is appropriate.”

    Initial thoughts about the September 17 NEPA review meeting

    The public meeting about the NEPA review offered lots of information but no clarity. While we salute the NPS for having this meeting – and for having Morgan Elmer, the NPS lead person on the review, there in person and ready to talk to all who were interested (we saw people lining up to talk with her!) – we are still working to sort it all out.

    Our initial thoughts:

    * It is very significant that the NPS has determined that the “no-action” baseline for its review of the proposed projects (OPC, road changes) will be the park as it now is. JPW and many others have criticized the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposal to use the envisioned completion of all of OPC and road changes as its “baseline” for review.

    * Of equal importance, we think, is NPS’s comment that it is very interested in community input on the issues it will be assessing in the NEPA review – recreation, current and future desired uses of the park, traffic, birds, and more. It also was made clear that, despite City representations to the contrary, no NPS decisions have been made about UPARR conversion and parkland replacement issues. Note that NPS’s specific concern with regard to UPARR is the “retention of recreational utility in the area,” with recreation being both active and passive pastimes.

    Letter writing encouraged

    Because of the NPS interest in community views and because of the new NPS role in the process, we encourage interested people to write Morgan Elmer, the NPS lead on the NEPA review, with questions and concerns about these and other related issues as noted above. In order to be certain that these comments become part of the public records, we recommend that the letters be jointly addressed to Ms. Elmer and Abby Monroe at the City’s Department of Planning and Development, and that the subject line be something like this: public comment re NPS NEPA review of proposed changes in Jackson Park.

    Morgan Elmer: morgan_elmer@nps.gov

    Abby Monroe: abby.monroe@cityofchicago.org

    More information on the NEPA meeting

    The City has posted links to the introductory video and the presentation boards from the 9/17 meeting on its federal reviews website (check the timetable box for Sept. 17). We are the first to admit the information is not fully self-evident. We will continue to try to sort it out and to provide more clarity.

    Your support still needed!

    As this summary again makes clear, the federal review of the proposed changes to Jackson Park is on-going and entering a critical phase. We continue to be engaged in regulatory and legal consultations, and your financial support helps ensure we have the expertise we need. Please send a donation check to Jackson Park Watch at P. O. Box 15302, Chicago 60615.

    Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid
    Co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch

    1. marym

      Thank you for the update. Though destroying a beautiful public good and revealing his Dorian Gray portrait in the form of an atrocious monument that blocks out the light would be a fitting monument to his presidency, I’m still hoping for a miracle to preserve the park.

      1. ChiGal in Carolina

        I’m not hopeful, but the last link above at least suggests the Center will have to pay for the anticipated roadwork and will also be required to be open to the public, no charge, at least 52 days a year.

        Small consolation…

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thank your for following the extremely important and valuable story of Obama’s corrupt Presidential library project.

      Teachout defines corruption as “self-serving use of public power for private ends.” That is exactly what [genuflects] Obama is doing here.

      That Republicans reach directly and immediately into the cookie jar, and Democrats use lawyers and straws, over a “decent interval,” to reach into the cookie jar, doesn’t give the Democrats moral standing to virtue signal on corruption.

      Recall that Boss Tweed’s “honest graft” actually got public works built, a net gain, despite the vig for the power structure, for the 90%. Obama’s fraudulent boondoggle is the net loss for the 90%.

  4. Robert Hahl

    Modern music

    VULFPECK – El Chepe
    Who says they don’t write train songs anymore?

    Sultans of Swing (metal cover by Leo Moracchioli feat. Mary Spender)
    The making of: https://youtu.be/WsBKpi_z3_c

    Tony Succar – Unity Jam

    Didi Negron & Teresa Morini – Do it like a Dude
    In case you were wondering what it took for a girl to break into that Tony Succar project.

    1. ArcadiaMommy

      Love Vulfpeck! Kids were into the sultans of swing (me too). They were talking about how to play it on guitar.

    1. Unna

      Beautiful. Pulls one away from the less important and into another world that was there all the time. Isn’t this the Mahler played at the end of the movie Death in Venice?

      1. Carey

        Yes to the ‘Death in Venice’ connection, and you describe well the feeling
        I get from it, too. The Andante movement from Mahler’s Sixth does
        similar things, I think.

  5. djrichard

    On the “Check your privilege” theme, got a kick out of this: https://i.warosu.org/data/sci/img/0083/56/1474310732249.png (not sure of original source). All tongue-in-cheek, but I could see adopting some of these new terms, lol. Here’s my transcription from what’s in the pic:

    Check your privilege

    Preferred Pronouns/Terminology for Capitalism
    bourgeoisie -> People of Money (PoM)
    petite bourgeoisie -> transwealthy
    proletarian -> differently wealthed
    economics -> wealth splaining
    Marxism -> proletriarchy
    materialism -> info-essentialism

    Anyways, somehow came across this after finally getting into season 5 of Breaking Bad. Got me searching on whether there were any reviews of Breaking Bad-as-reflecting-capitalism. Somehow I got to the above. I think Walt would agree, he’s not petite bourgeoisie; rather he’s transwealthy. In fact, probably most everybody wouldn’t be too upset to see themselves put into the same bucket – anything to avoid being in the “differently wealthed” bucket.

    1. Wukchumni

      We avoided Breaking Bad in the original run, because we have enough meth-odd actors around these parts, thank you very much. Couldn’t imagine a tv show centered upon a pernicious problem.

      Anyhow, we caught on after the series finished, and devoured it whole in a couple months of moderate binging, awed at the myriad of issues it hit upon, social ricochets pinging off of one another.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Better Call Saul is the Frasier to Breaking Bad’s Cheers.

        Also, Mike is in it. He’s in the first episode. Its not a twist. Its a prequel for the most part. He brings the laughter! The seeming hilarity of the premise doesn’t change the sober view of the world. The writing is not as tight as Breaking Bad, but I feel like I’m not watching a Chekhov’s gun situation either which if I’m being critical is the criticism of Breaking Bad. The world seems more fluid and real, despite known situations for certain characters, even though I know they aren’t going to run into the original Breaking Bad cast, except maybe Marie, she’s the only person Saul doesn’t interact with and indicate a lack of familiarity. She could show up. Albuquerque is that big of a town. One event in the show, which they set up (that’s how Vince Gilligan does things) or at least gave an alert for, had an element of real life that I would say tends to not occur in the world of fiction. Another situation won’t have any kind of resolution that I think other works would show because they felt it was necessary or they had the unlimited budget of a book when people in the real world wouldn’t know.

        I don’t believe you would be disappointed. Mental health, women’s working conditions, the public defenders office, and law school snobbery are covered.

      2. djrichard

        There was a line in the Bourne movies that I took as being an indictment on capitalism in general, “look at what they make you do”. What’s great about Breaking Bad is that it teases out the moral choice to opt out – to leave the game. Instead each of the characters rationalizes how “opting out is not an option”.

        – For Walt, his rationalizations are blatant
        – what was more telling to me was to see Skylar’s rationalization/accommodation. To the point where she was willing to suffer depression to accommodate not opting out. [But even so, got a chuckle out of how she still played the game: banishing the kids to her sister’s house – if she’s going to have to make accommodations, so is Walt.] Eventually, Skylar has internalized it so much that she loses part of her humanity, first when Lydia intrudes at the car wash and then eventually with her willingness to sacrifice Jesse.
        – in fact the others are willing to sacrifice Jesse too: Saul and even Hank.

        I can see Skylar in me. Me being willing to accommodate the money making process and go through depression to accommodate it. Albeit not for “blood money”, but if it makes you hard hearted (like it did to me at times), is that too different than “blood money”?

        I can see Walt in me too. If I can just make it to a reasonable threshold of what’s needed for retirement, I can opt out then and put this all behind me.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Yes, George W. Bush is now fully rehabilitated. Mistakes were made. Next on the list will be Richard Nixon (posthumous). Just wait. And it’s not unfair: Johnson and Nixon, though horridly flawed, were giants compared to the Lilliputians of our day; the UK has the same problem. Theresa May is nothing to Margaret Thatcher. Watch some of Thatcher’s parliamentary questions if you want to see what a shark she was.

  6. prx

    re: AOC and Cuomo

    I can’t find anything on twitter either, but I thought Ocasio-Cortez rallied with Nixon (and Williams/Salazar/etc.) in my neighborhood, Bushwick, a week or so before the primary. I also get her emails, and one on 9/10 read:


    We already knew that New York machine politics were toxic — every day, they prevent working class folks from participating in our democratic system, stifle public input, and dash people’s faith in the power of our democracy to answer their concerns.

    But their toxicity and divisiveness has reached new levels, just days before the New York State Primary.

    Here’s the situation: Just a few days ago, the New York State Democratic Party sent out a mailer for Andrew Cuomo — a mailer that claimed Cynthia Nixon was anti-semitic based on policy positions she does not hold.

    A public outcry ensued. Party leaders claimed that no one had authorized the mailer, and still refuse to tell voters who authored the mailer, or explain why they received it in the first place. But that doesn’t matter, because the damage is done — it doesn’t matter how blatantly false they are, those attacks are going to be the last thing in many voters minds as they head to the polls on Thursday.

    That’s abjectly shameful, and we can’t let them get away with it. Help us support Cynthia’s campaign, and give them the resources they need to respond to these baseless attacks with a $3 contribution today. If Cynthia and her team are going to beat the machine, they’re going to need all the help they can get.

    That seems like the opposite of endorsing Cuomo….

      1. Charles Leseau

        Also, there’s some chatter on the Twitter that Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Ratface Andy, but it’s all of the “Look at this YouTube” variety, which I don’t trust. There’s nothing on ACO’s Twitter feed, and a Google news search turns out nothing. Can readers clarify?

        Re: Lambert’s request for clarification, she is saying it on camera. It looks like some TV show or other, and the clip is in the above video that Hamford linked @11:15 or so.

        It’s not like some official endorsement, but it is urging people to “…rally behind all Democratic nominees, including the governor, to make sure that he wins in November.”

        1. Richard

          If you look at the whole interview, the endorsement, in which she never mentions Cuomo’s name, came at the end of long answer. It was a pretty hostile interview (Jake Tapper?). She was asked to explain “where the money will come from” for Med4all, free college, wiping out student loan debt. She was also asked what’s next for “progressives” after the “huge setback” in NY.
          (By the way, the quotes are not exact, but only to give a sense of the interview)
          She gave a poor answer on the How Willya Pay For It question I thought. I don’t remember the substance of it, because there wasn’t much. I do recall she didn’t point to the Trump tax cut, Iraq, Syria, Afgan, 900 military bases, and the dozens of other grandfathered exemptions from deficit nagging.
          She gave a better answer on NY, pointing to the several downballot victories, that basically eliminated that Blue Dog caucus in the state senate (or legislature, I forget). Then she endorsed Cuomo.
          How effing stupid. For all her strengths in organization and campaigning, she is not proving to be a very tough politician. At least not yet. As J. Dore points out, she got absolutely nothing for this. No quid pro quo, nothing from Cuomo. She simply gave it to him. Why, why, why? This comes right after he has called her own primary victory a fluke, and the progressive surge in NY barely a ripple.
          I fear Gillum is a fraud. He’s already backing away from Med4all (position changed on his campaign website), and buddying up with Big Pharma Booker. Dore covered this as well, with his usual vehemence and froth.
          Just my 2 cents. I did see the whole AOC interview, and think that although the Cuomo endorsement was massively, politically stupid, it wasn’t at all the center of her remarks, and came at the end of a very hostile interview. For whatever that’s worth.

          1. Carey

            Thanks for this thorough comment, Richard, and I’ll try to
            see the complete AOC interview for a sense of context.

      2. jsn

        I think Lambert’s point is, does anyone know the provenance of that video, ie is it real?

        Sure it looks like it is, but AOC has already had bogus videos of her circulated.

        1. Charles Leseau

          I’m no arbiter of provenance, but it’s apparently from CNN’s State of the Union show of September 16.

          1. relstprof

            Dem urges people to vote Dem in November. Hold the presses.

            Jimmy Dore is a sheep dog for political nihilism and has a roughly 10th grader understanding of politics. But he can give a righteous rant. Infotainment at its best.

            1. Hamford

              Sheepdogging skepticism? Well thank goodness, since skeptics naturally desire alignment.

              “Dem urges people to vote dem”.

              (And presumably, R’s urge people to vote R)

              Thanks for this advanced, post 10th grade analysis of how our political system must have to work. God forbid one (such as Dore) try to deviate from a perpetually reinforcing duopoly.

            2. JBird

              Yeah, but considering what passes as “news” in the official elite approved MSM, sometimes people like Dore are all we got. At least the man is trying to an honest and informed understanding and pass it on to his followers.

            3. Big River Bandido

              Yeah, I like Jimmy Dore and party but they sound painfully, cringingly naive on this. A blue collar guy from Chicago ought to have a better grasp on the rough and tumble of machine politics.

              1. Richard

                Not much of a “rough and tumble”. I think Jimmy would actually be good wih that. This was more of a “give and surrender”
                Rough and tumble would be if AOC actually acted on the knowledge that her opponents within the dem party are legion. And you don’t open with a concession. That would be rough and tumble, in my humble opinion.

            4. Charles Leseau

              Eh, I’m impartial on it, frankly. Could mean one thing; could mean another. I make no value judgement either way at this point, on either Jimmy Dore or AOC, and I don’t know what degree of understanding of politics Dore has or ingenuousness AOC has. They are both new fish to me.

            5. Carey

              “Jimmy Dore is a sheep dog for political nihilism and has a roughly 10th grader understanding of politics. But he can give a righteous rant. Infotainment at its best.”

              It’s the “it’s complex” crowd that has kept the Many down on the farm, here in the Exceptional Nation, for lo these many years. Dore is willing to call a spade a spade,
              and I value that. Maybe you can share some of your
              higher-level understanding with us, so when the Dems
              jerk away the football at the last second *yet again*,
              we proles can know that it’s all for the greater good.

            6. Richard

              Oi. Claim without evidence. Maybe a touch of gaslighting (if you think this, you’re really immature). I’ll respond anyway.
              The whole point of AOC’s campaign, the only reason she got such coverage, is that she wasn’t just another dem. That just any blue won’t do.
              Were you not there for that?
              So that’s why Dore covered it, and that’s why it’s a big deal. To some people anyway, who are still willing to trust a dem to represent them. A betrayal deserves to be reported. Pointless stupidity deserves to be called out. And Jimmy Dore is a helluva reporter.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        Did you read the post? You get points for actually reading the post. I wrote:

        it’s all of the “Look at this YouTube” variety, which I don’t trust.

        So you told me to “Look at this YouTube.” Looking for demerits, or just careless and lazy?

        1. Charles Leseau

          You should give consideration to writing a clearer post if you’re going to “demerit” people for trying to help you.

          From where I was sitting, it read like you were looking for clarification via twitter and google and couldn’t find it. And it makes sense that you couldn’t find it, because her endorsement was on a CNN TV show – on video – not texty twitter or google. What’s a video site that might have it? Hmm…well, you don’t trust YouTube, but the given YouTube link has a clip from the CNN show, so I figured maybe hearing it from her mouth directly will mitigate the YouTube trust issue.

          ^And that’s how I saw it. Guess it’s lazy and careless thinking. Anyway, I almost never post here, so demerit away and I’ll try really hard to care.

    1. Big River Bandido

      That was before the primary. I think people are talking about a general election endorsement. I have not heard anything about it, but I’m not on Twit or Bookface, and Mr. BRB and I just moved out of the district to a neighboring one with much less promising politics, so I’m feeling cut off now. If AOC did endorse Cuomo I would assume she was, for all intents and purposes, threatened to do so or else.

      In any case, for the general election I’m considering something I’ve never done before: voting Republican in the governors’ race, for purely strategic reasons.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are there enough self-styled “progressive” voters in New York State that they could case Cuomo’s defeat if they all unanimously voted for Cuomo’s Republican opponent? If there are, would they do it? Do they reaaaaaaaally resent Cuomo’s behavior and policy matrix? Reaaaaaally?

      1. Big River Bandido

        I have no good sense of the numbers — with all the electoral fraud the Democrat machine practices in defense of its incumbents, it’s probably impossible to know for sure. New York politics are likely the sleaziest in the nation.

        And I can’t really predict what other New York voters will do. I thought Teachout had a shot this time. What do I know?

        In my own mind, a Republican takeover in the governor’s mansion seems a fair price to pay for getting rid of Cuomo. Frankly, I feel that way about almost every race for federal and statewide offices, barring just a few. No idea whether other New Yorkers will make the same calculation or not. Possibly not, given how Trump Hysteria has taken such deep root here. But it’s hard to tell, in part because elections in New York are so rigged.

  7. Pat

    I have to correct something I said on an earlier Water Cooler.

    I was in the neighborhood today and the Tenth Avenue Fika is NOT closed. Although the store was closed and had a seizure notice on it about a week and a half ago, apparently they were allowed to reopen it in the wake of the bankruptcy filing. So they do have their bakery and are still going for awhile. But…

  8. Pat

    I haven’t seen anything regarding an AOC endorsement of Cuomo outside of the video thing either. I wouldn’t be surprised if one happened eventually which hopefully makes it clear that this is the choice of dung which is the least ripe. This is now largely a two person race and the lesser of two evils idea is very hard to kill when you know one of those evils will take the office. Not that I think Cuomo is ever a lesser evil.

    Since WFP has apparently chosen NOT to beg forgiveness from Cuomo, they could be in big trouble regarding the whole ballot line issue. For that reason and that reason alone, if WFP has a candidate in the Governor category named Nixon I will vote for governor. That only leaves 49,999 other votes they need. Otherwise, I’m having to go ‘None of the Above’ by not voting or possibly writing in Teachout for both the AG and the Governor.

    Is there a bookie somewhere taking bets on whether Cuomo breaks his promise not to run for President before his inauguration?

    1. Big River Bandido

      Feh. I couldn’t care less what happens to the Working Families Party. It’s such a sheepdog AstroTurf operation that it even uses neoliberal Democrat focus group nonsense in its name. This is the organization that endorsed Cuomo 4 years ago, and who endorsed Crowley this year. They’ve never won an election, never succeeded in implementing a single good policy proposal, never applied the least amount of pressure. WFP is absolutely useless unless one’s purpose is to absorb all the anger of the left while giving needed cover to right wing Democrats.

  9. Hamford

    Re: Gillum

    On his website, there is much talk of strengthening ACA, defending Obamacare from Trump, and “restoring health care security” (as if it were ever there). Only a quick mention of supporting Sander’s Medicare for All Bill.


    Granted, a previous version was also filled with healthcare subterfuge, but the new version has a few more lines about defending against the Republicans.


    1. sleepy

      No, sorry, I don’t think it’s alarmist. It’s just the facts. Institutions are all going this route.

      In Iowa once Medicaid was privatized a while back, Medicaid reimbursements paid directly to the patient (who has previously directly paid the provider) were put on a debit card which is accepted everywhere for purchases. Only problem is you can’t get cash out of the card in order to pay something like rent or utilities, only purchases.

      Even though of course the patient previously paid the provider in cash.

  10. johnnygl

    I think part of the reason constituents and lefty activists can, and should react in such an outraged fashion is to MAKE SURE that AOC doesn’t do an explicit endorsement of Cuomo. Right now it’s just an off-the-cuff remark during a CNN interview. Let’s hope, and pressure her to ensure, it goes no further than that.

    Ro khanna’s weird dual endorsement shows that pressure works. the public shouldn’t accept an audience’s role of watching to find out ‘will she’ or ‘won’t she’ betray us?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      True. But since that tactic pollutes the discourse with lying and panic, two pollutants of which the discourse already full, I don’t think it’s a good way for the left to go. And that it’s coming from people I follow makes me unhappy.

  11. Daryl

    Cruz with only 4.5 point lead is rather shocking. He’s been so negligent and idiotic that the R next to his name is not enough to guarantee him a landslide in Texas.

  12. Big River Bandido

    Re: Cynthia Nixon in NY-14:

    The bottom line is, Nixon was a weak candidate. Her policy positions seemed contrived (the former HRC backer only announced her conversion to democratic socialism after AOCs primary win), and this in particular made her seem inauthentic — even to me, and I voted for her. She allowed her debate performance to be dominated by an ad hom attack on Cuomo’s personality rather than on policies that drew a clear difference, where she might have drawn blood.

    It’s not surprising at all to me that a wealthy, famous, white teevee and movie actor living in Manhattan might be too out of touch to connect with working class people in Queens and the Bronx.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if the machine’s loss in June served as a wake up call. Again, that’s Cuomo’s engineering with the split primary.

  13. ymal divad

    And Big River Bandido is not the only New Yorker considering a voting for Republicans that identify truthfully. I too will vote against Cuomo and Sean Maloney, my corporate hack congressman.

    1. Jen

      Salient quote from Peter Van Buren’s latest in TAC:

      “These are a practical people, who, in one Kansas author’s words, “speak a firm sort of poetry, made of things and actions.” It wasn’t racism or Russian Facebook ads; ask and these people will give you specifics. While darkly certain all politicians will hand them the dirty end of the same stick, the people I spoke with at least felt they understood what the Republican candidates would give them. With an eye on the 2008 bailout, they seemed less sure of the Democratic side.”

      Worth reading in full:

      I haven’t decided whether to abstain or vote for the lamentable Annie Kuster’s opponent her in NH-22, but she’s definitely not getting my vote.

  14. Wukchumni

    If the first two months’ revenue is any indication, Woodlake City Hall can expect to be rolling in tax money from the recreational cannabis business from now on.

    After counting up the receipts at Valley Pure–the only licensed recreational cannabis storefront between Los Angeles and the Bay Area–the city took in $46,397.14 from its 5% levy. The figure translates into sales of $927,942.80 for the initial 60 days of operations at the city’s first, and so far only, working cannabis business.


  15. Hobbs

    What’s up with Senator Collins and her mealy-mouthed comments on the Kavanaugh vote? Lambert, have you put a call into her office yet?

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