2:00PM Water Cooler 11/14/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Patient readers, I got a late start today. I’ll add a few more items shortly. –Lambert Strether


“But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature?” –James Madison, Federalist 51


UPDATE “Deval Patrick’s Presidential Prospects” [The New Yorker]. “Patrick’s credentials as a partisan warrior will always be open to question, in part because of his temperament, but mostly because of his position at Bain Capital. In 2012, Obama’s reëlection campaign turned Bain into a national symbol of capitalist greed and irresponsibility. As Patrick weighs a run for the Presidency, he is confronting widespread dismay that, of all the places he could have chosen to work after his governorship, he chose that one. ‘People, they put you in a box,’ Patrick told me, evasively.” • “Evasively.” From The New Yorker?

“Only on AP: Bloomberg charts aggressive timeline on 2020 bid” [Associated Press]. “Having spent a fortune to help elect Democrats this fall, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared lifetime allegiance to the Democratic Party on Tuesday and outlined an aggressive timeline for deciding whether to run for president…. Bloomberg endeared himself to many Democratic leaders in recent months after deciding to invest more than $110 million in the 2018 midterms.” • Ka-ching.

“Hillary Launches Campaign To Raise $100 Million Or Else She’ll Run For President” [The Onion]. “‘I’m very excited to roll out my initiative to secure this full amount within seven weeks, and if it is not successful—let me be very clear on this—I will once more fill out the paperwork to run for president and submit it to the Federal Election Commission,’ said Clinton.”


IL-06: “A Democrat Ran on Climate Change in a Republican Stronghold—and Won” [The New Republic]. “‘After years fighting climate change as an entrepreneur, I’m now determined to fight it as the next member of Congress,’ reads Casten’s Twitter bio, updated to reflect his victory on Tuesday. A scientist, environmental writer, and the founder of a successful renewable energy business, Casten talked repeatedly about global warming on the campaign trail and regularly called out his opponent—six-term incumbent Republican Representative Peter Roskam—for being weak on the subject. Casten’s focus on climate was mostly overlooked in the widespread coverage of his five-point upset of Roskam, who once referred to climate change as ‘junk science.’ But it’s an important factor, considering the Democratic Party’s prevailing logic on the subject. Knowing that global warming can be a polarizing issue, most Democrats running in red or purple districts this year strategically avoided talking about it.”

MS Senate: “Mississippi senator, whose runoff opponent is black, jokes about ‘public hanging'” [NBC News]. “A video of Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., who faces a runoff this month against [former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy, an] African-American Democrat, joking about attending ‘a public hanging’ went viral Sunday as she insisted there was nothing negative about her remark. ‘If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row,’ Hyde-Smith said during a campaign stop in Tupelo, Mississippi. The man she was referring to was identified as a local rancher…..” Hyde responds: “In a comment on Nov. 2, I referred to accepting an invitation to a speaking engagement. In referencing the one who invited me, I used an exaggerated expression of regard, and any attempt to turn this into a negative connotation is ridiculous.” • An exaggerated expression of regard….

2018 Post Mortems

“2018 rewrote the main rule of US politics” [Ron Brownstein, CNN]. “So much for the old rule that all politics is local…. In virtually every state, Democrats last Tuesday displayed a clear advantage in densely populated, culturally and racially diverse white-collar metropolitan areas, while Republicans relied on elevated margins in the preponderantly white, religiously traditional, smaller places beyond them. In almost all cases, the outcome in each state was determined less by how much they varied from that persistent pattern than by how much of each group was present in the state’s electorate to begin with… [T]he palpable recoil from Trump among white-collar voters in all regions explains why the GOP losses in suburban House seats extended so widely. It was perhaps not a surprise that Democrats ousted many of the last House Republicans who had survived for years in suburbs of otherwise blue-trending metro areas, such as Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Los Angeles and Seattle. But the breadth of the movement toward Democrats among well-educated white voters explains why the GOP also lost suburban House seats last week in Atlanta, Charleston, Houston, Dallas, Kansas City, Des Moines, Oklahoma City, Orange County (CA), and possibly Salt Lake City, all places that had earlier resisted the white collar Democratic tide.” • It’s interesting to watch the slippage from “white collar” to “well-educated white voters.”

Liberals Have Lost Their Minds

Big payoff for a piece of candy:

No, but seriously: Anything for those suburban Republican votes. Personally, I don’t think rehabilitating the architect of the Iraq War debacle and the destroyer of the Fourth Amendment goes nearly far enough. Why not go the whole route and rehabilitate Henry Kissinger? Oh, wait….

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Speak Your Piece: To Win Rural America, Dems Must Lean into Progressive Policies” [Daily Yonder]. “Where’s the disconnect? Democrats tend to engage rural voters in one of two ways: They either outright ignore them, or they try to look more like Republicans. But progressive policies are significantly more popular than the Democratic party in small towns and rural communities and running as a Democrat with Republican policies is the worst way to engage rural voters. Rural Americans want rural-specific solutions to rural-specific problems and the policies they support come straight from the progressive platform. Democrats should lean into them.”

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, October 2018: “Energy prices which are now sliding lifted what is yet another subdued consumer inflation report, this time for October where the headline… overstates the pressure [Econoday]. “Housing is the dominant component in the consumer price report and here price pressures are also moderate… Food prices continue to be very subdued…. [T]he biggest question for inflation isn’t measured directly in this report and that’s wage pressure where risks, given the rising level of job openings and declining number of unemployed, do point to a turn higher.” And: “Energy and used cars were the main driver for year-over-year inflation. Core inflation remains above 2.0 % year-over-year” [Econintersect]. And: “inflation softened slightly on a year-over-year basis in October. Overall, these measures are at or above the Fed’s 2% target (Core PCE is slightly below 2%)” [Calculated Risk].

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, November 2018: “Inflation isn’t accelerating. That’s the story from this morning’s consumer price report for October and also the Atlanta Fed’s November measure of inflation expectations’ [Econoday]. “The Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to protect against unwanted inflation, a risk that has yet to appear.”

Consumer Spending: “November 2018 Consumer Expectations: Income and Spending Growth Expectations Strengthen” [Econintersect]. “The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Center for Microeconomic Data released the October 2018 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows that households’ expectations about income and spending growth improved notably. Consumers continue to lower their home price growth expectations. Short- and medium-term inflation expectations were unchanged.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of November 9, 2018: “Rising interest rates continue to dampen mortgage activity” [Econoday].

Retail: “This time, Amazon has gone too far: Jeff Bezos’s company is profiting and taxpayers are paying the price” [Matt Stoller, New York Daily News]. The conclusion: “Fundamentally, Amazon is simply too powerful. It isn’t just about subsidies. It isn’t that merchants, or local businesses, or warehouse workers, or communities are being mistreated or misled. It’s that Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself. It controls elected officials, acquired the power to tax, and works with government to avoid sunshine laws. It’s time to recognize the truth about this company. Two-day shipping might be really convenient, but at least in its current form, Amazon and democracy are incompatible.” • Very good to see Stoller in the New York Daily News!

Retail: “Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Right about Amazon’s Corporate Welfare” [National Review]. “I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Ocasio-Cortez is mostly correct on this matter, and her conservative critics are wrong. Handouts like this to Amazon and other prominent companies are appalling in their cronyism, pure and simple. I agree that she doesn’t understand economics and that her socialist ideal is a recipe for fiscal and economic disaster. But her conservative critics reveal their own economic misunderstanding when they support targeted tax breaks as a means of creating jobs.”

Private Equity: “Senior living communities seized from Dallas firm after residents found neglected” [Dalllas Business Journal]. “Three senior living communities in Vermont owned by Dallas private equity firm East Lake Capital have been seized after a state investigation found more than 100 elderly residents were being neglected and, in some cases, weren’t receiving food. The crackdown comes amid a flurry of deals for facilities across the U.S. by investors eager to get in on the business of caring for the country’s aging population.” • I’ve helpfully underlined the oxymoron.

Retail: “Amazon’s Last Mile” [Gizmodo]. “Near the very bottom of Amazon’s complicated machinery is a nearly invisible workforce over two years in the making tasked with getting those orders to your doorstep. It’s a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws. That program is called Amazon Flex, and it accomplishes Amazon’s “last-mile” deliveries—the final journey from a local facility to the customer…. Flex is indicative of two alarming trends: the unwillingness of legislators to curb harmful practices of tech behemoths run amok, and a shift towards less protected, more precarious opportunities in a stagnant job market.’ • Read for the detail. It sounds as hellish as Amazon’s warehouses.

Retail: “Desperately Seeking Cities” [n+1]. “It is beyond question that, in whatever city it chose to grace, Amazon would bring neither the jobs that that city needed, nor the public works that it needed. In his latest variation on the urbanist delusion, written for the Financial Times, the much-pilloried Richard Florida plaintively appealed to Amazon not to “accept any tax or financial incentives,” but rather to pledge to “invest alongside cities to create better jobs, build more affordable housing, and develop better schools, transit, and other badly needed public goods, along with paying its fair share of taxes.” The depths of Florida’s naiveté cannot be overstated. Not only is Amazon categorically unlikely to pledge what he wants (or, even if it did, make even the slightest effort to deliver on such a pledge), but Florida openly expresses his desire to cede all urban political power and every human demand to the whims of the company. In this respect, too, the Amazon HQ2 contest has been clarifying.”

Retail: “Access”:

The Bezzle: “Comcast forced to pay refunds after its hidden fees hurt customers’ credit” [Ars Technica]. “Comcast has agreed to pay $700,000 in refunds ‘and cancel debts for more than 20,000 Massachusetts customers’ to settle allegations that it used deceptive advertising to promote long-term cable contracts, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced yesterday. ‘Comcast stuck too many Massachusetts customers with lengthy, expensive contracts that left many in debt and others with damaged credit,’ Healey said…. [C]ustomers entered long-term contracts that they could not afford; the inadequately disclosed fees typically raised customers’ bills by 40 percent over the advertised price, the AG said.”

Tech: “Facebook Morale Takes a Tumble Along With Stock Price” [Wall Street Journal]. “Amid a plunge in the stock price, ongoing leadership turmoil and critical media coverage, just over half of employees [responding to Facebook’s internal survey] said they were optimistic about Facebook’s future, down 32 percentage points from the year earlier… which was taken by nearly 29,000 employees. Fifty-three percent said Facebook was making the world better, down 19 percentage points from a year ago.”

Tech: “Google accused of ‘trust demolition’ over health app” [BBC]. “A controversial health app [(Streams)] developed by artificial intelligence firm DeepMind will be taken over by Google, it has been revealed….. Lawyer and privacy expert Julia Powles, who has closely followed the development of Streams, responded on Twitter: “DeepMind repeatedly, unconditionally promised to ‘never connect people’s intimate, identifiable health data to Google’. Now it’s announced… exactly that. This isn’t transparency, it’s trust demolition, she added….. It is not the first time an independent firm has been subsumed by Google. Nest, which collects data from home security cameras, thermostats and doorbells, was set up as a stand-alone, with promises that no data would be shared with the search giant. But in February it was merged with Google to help build ‘a more thoughtful home.'”

Transportation: “Self-driving cars expand the fight over airwaves” [Axios]. “The Federal Communications Commission is assessing whether cars and Wi-Fi services can safely share the same frequency…. [But] the FCC has already signaled the debate may have shifted away from spectrum-sharing and that further tests might be unnecessary, suggesting a cellular approach will be the winner. Europe is leaning toward DSRC but the progress of C-V2X in China may prove decisive, per the World Economic Forum’s Eric Jillard.”

Mr. Market: “The Three-Minute Chat That Wiped Billions Off Stocks” [Bloomberg]. “Lumentum Holdings Inc. makes lasers for 3D facial recognition used by major smartphone makers, with Apple Inc. its key client. On Monday, the company announced a 17 percent cut in its December-quarter revenue outlook. That triggered a plunge in shares of Apple and its suppliers, and reverberated through stock markets in the U.S. and Asia.”


Amost a slogan:

“Private sufficiency, public luxury” is a wonderful concept, and dovetails neatly with MMT. Too many syllables?

Guillotine Watch

“Super rich people are paying up to $500,000 for luxe panic rooms — and as gun violence picks up, they’re more popular than ever” [Business Insider]. “Of course, safety is still paramount in these fancy safe rooms, which are made of blast-proof and bulletproof material. But some have decorated their panic rooms to look like a 1920s speakeasy and or a Ralph Lauren catalog, as Chris Cosban, the owner of New York-based Covert Interiors, which makes luxury panic rooms for the elite of New York City and the Hamptons, told Mansion Global.”

Class Warfare

UPDATE “Good News, the Stock Market Is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth” [Dean Baker, CEPR]. When people decry the rise in inequality in wealth over the last decade, they are basically complaining about the run-up in the stock market. The real value of the stock market has roughly tripled from its recession lows. With the richest one percent holding close to 40 percent of stock wealth and the richest 10 percent holding more than 80 percent, a tripling in the value of the stock market pretty much guarantees a big increase in wealth inequality. If we think this increase is bad, then why would we not think a drop in the stock market is good?”

“What Vermont Para-educators and School Bus Drivers Learned When They Almost Went on Strike” [Labor Notes]. Much useful tactical detail. The conclusion: “Members in small towns can be hesitant to share their stories of economic hardship with their neighbors, but direct contact with neighbors and parents proved to be the most powerful tool. Also, it’s tough for the boss to replace school employees in a rural area on short notice. Keeping schools open during a strike would have meant understaffed classrooms, gaps in bus schedules, unfamiliar drivers, and special-ed staffing shortages—which could all spark public outrage.”

“The Border Crossing Us” [Viewpoint Magazine]. “If we step outside media narratives, think beyond the immediate electoral horizon, and train our sights on migrant organizing and solidarity, the basis for such a politics becomes demonstrably clearer. Just as the right’s strategy of white fear-mongering has highlighted new, more visible tactics among migrants in the form of the caravan, we propose to respond by centering migrant struggles, particularly from the perspective of “migrant autonomy” that was so well-illustrated by the democratic decision-making of caravan members over their collective fate. With this perspective, it becomes evident that to consider class politics in the United States today means considering a working class whose composition crosses geographical borders and weaves together the exploited and the dispossessed from across a much broader region.”

“The winds of revolution in the 18th century Atlantic” [New Frame]. “‘The negroes have a wonderful art of communicating intelligence among themselves,’ noted an obviously impressed [John] Adams in his diary after discussion [with two Georgia delegates to the Continental Congress in 1775]. ‘It will run several hundreds of miles in a week or fortnight.’ Subsequent events fulfilled some black hopes and proved white fears prophetic. After the outbreak of hostilities, thousands of North American slaves in quest of freedom fled their masters to join the British; others hoped to gain freedom by fighting with the patriots. ” • That would be interesting history to know.

“I Used to Be Homeless—and Here’s What Everyone Gets Wrong About It” [Yahoo News]. “When you have no safety net, the tiniest issue—an unexpected medical bill, an illness or injury, a lost wallet—quickly balloons into an emergency that can make you homeless, or if you’re already homeless, make your life infinitely worse. An example I like to share is when I was living in my car. One day it got towed for a parking violation and once you’re towed, you’re done. There are towing fees, impound fees, parking fees… before long you owe $2,000 on a $600 car. So now you don’t have a car or any of your stuff that was in it and you’re stuck sleeping out in the elements. Sleeping outside makes you get sick which leads to other problems… One tiny mistake can spiral into a life-ending problem….. I can’t tell you how many people I saw die from a lack of simple medical care. A cut, a broken bone, or an illness left untreated can become infected and deadly very quickly.”

News of the Wired

“Japanese man ‘married’ to a hologram” [Agence France Presse]. “Akihiko Kondo’s mother refused an invitation to her only son’s wedding in Tokyo this month, but perhaps that is not such a surprise: He was marrying a hologram. ‘For mother, it wasn’t something to celebrate,’ said the soft-spoken 35-year-old, whose ‘bride’ is virtual reality singer Hatsune Miku…. Kondo is not alone: Gatebox, which produces the hologram device, has issued more than 3,700 certificates for “cross-dimension” marriages and others have sent him supportive messages, he said.” • So, the premise of William Gibson’s Idoru (1996) comes true.

“The origins of sexism: How men came to rule 12,000 years ago” [New Scientist]. “The vast majority of cultures are patriarchies, where men are more likely than women to hold positions of social, economic and political power. So it is tempting to assume that this is the natural state of affairs, perhaps because men are, on average, stronger than women. But a study of humanity’s roots suggests this answer is too simple…. Patrilocal residence, as it is called, is associated with patriarchy, says anthropologist and primatologist Sarah Hrdy at the University of California at Davis… For most of our history, we have been hunter-gatherers, and patrilocal residence is not the norm among modern hunter-gatherer societies…. According to one school of thought, things changed around 12,000 years ago. With the advent of agriculture and homesteading, people began settling down. They acquired resources to defend, and power shifted to the physically stronger males. Fathers, sons, uncles and grandfathers began living near each other, property was passed down the male line, and female autonomy was eroded. As a result, the argument goes, patriarchy emerged.” • My experience has been that recent New Scientist stories are always locked. But they seem to be unlocking older stories, many of which are still germane.

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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 (SS):

SS writes: “Sasquatch (a PNW icon) lurks behind the Russian Sage.”

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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. Code Name D

      Supporters of the bank bill may have lost there election, but that dosnt mean they need to leave Washington. Thanks to the revolving door, the get to come back as lobbyists.

    1. Code Name D

      The goal will never be reached because the funds will be mysteriously be diverted to Onward Together, so she runs anyway.

    1. Linden S.

      Cool way of thinking about it. Strikes to the heart of things in a way I haven’t seen before.

      His tweet after the one posted says “Some people have asked why it has taken me so long to frame the issue this clearly. The answer is that thinking takes a long time, 95% of which is spent unthinking everything we have been led to believe.” Also on point.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Unthinking, unremember and unlearning.

        We tend to think learning, remembering and thinking is hard, but it could be hard to unthink, unremember and unlearn.

        For example, all those times you have been rejected by someone you fancy – it’s very hard to not think about or remember them.

        Another example – how many can proudly say, I can’t remember how to use a computer?

        Now, that’s harder than learning how to use in in the first place.

        So, remember that the next time you further your education, and don’t forget to caution those who will be getting their education in the future.

      2. pjay

        I couldn’t agree more. I used to admire Monbiot’s work. But after he became a leading propagandist in the transcontinental Russian/Syrian psyops campaign, I had to unthink everything I was led to believe about him.

        I guess if Tucker Carlson can be right about a few things (like Russia and Syria for example), then Monbiot can be wrong. But now, as is the case with so many “progressive” writers today, I can’t take anything he writes seriously.

    2. bdy

      Monbiot links to his Guardian piece in the thread.

      Labour also misses a wonderful opportunity in its plans to expand affordable housing, to promote accommodation that both revives community and makes better use of space. In co-housing developments, people own or rent their own homes but share the rest of the land. Rather than chopping the available space into coffin-sized gardens in which a child cannot perform a cartwheel without hitting the fence, the children have room to run around together while the adults have space to garden and talk. Communal laundries release living space in people’s homes. Carpools reduce the need for parking. Isolation gives way to conviviality.

      More importantly, and less surprisingly, the Labour manifesto fails to acknowledge the left’s great conundrum: the environmental damage caused by efforts to create jobs through economic growth. Like the Conservatives, like almost every party everywhere (the Greens are a notable exception), Labour’s economic vision is based on the presumption that there are no limits. Both conservative and social democratic parties see the world as a magic pudding that can never be exhausted. They build their economic programmes on a fairytale.

      One takeaway is that a restoring the commons is as easy as changing zoning ordinance. Stop permitting pools, fences, laundry and so on in urban and suburban neighborhoods. Require homes with grounds to contribute more to public access, the way we already require sidewalks. And refuse permits that don’t meet high ecological standards for modesty in both use and construction. It’s a policy package begging for local engagement, but also a really tough sell to privacy obsessed property owners.

      1. Tom Doak

        Indeed. Perhaps part of the goal of the “law and order” mindset is to make us too fearful of our neighbors to consider sharing with them?

    3. Olga

      Yes, love that phrase: “private sufficiency, public luxury.”
      Years ago, the CEO of WholeFoods (the one of the “conscientious capitalist” fame) would tell me: “wouldn’t it be marvelous if every Chinese had the same standard of living as the Americans.” I imagined 1.4 billion cars added to the already congested roads, and said “no, it would not.” It’d be an environmental disaster… but he thought this vision of prosperity confirmed the glory of capitalism.
      I say we live under the tyranny of prosperity – as if our one and only purpose in life were to satisfy every real and imagined desire for physical contentment. But then – it must be, lest the capitalist’s ability to milk all possible profits be somehow limited.
      I hate to be the bearer of “bad” news – but some socialist countries’ economies actually got a lot closer to that phrase about public sufficiency – and we allowed them to be destroyed.

      1. ambrit

        Not so much “we allowed them to be destroyed” as “we were not consulted.” The system is to blame, not the individual constituents. Some may quibble about giving a ‘system’ agency, but, I’ll argue that the sum of a myriad of like thinking individuals can be melded into a ‘meta-individual,’ for purposes of explication.
        What many do not grasp is that “Public Opinion” is not just a political and social force, but also, when approached properly, a tool. In that case, the desired ends of the ‘tool manipulators’ become important. Then, an opinion is not just an analogue for an “excretory fane.”

        1. Jessica

          And the apparent “Public Opinion” is much easier to manipulate than the opinions of individuals.
          This ability to control what it seems everyone else is thinking is very powerful.

            1. Lambert Strether Post author

              Yikes. It was clear from the beginning that the Syrian war was a cesspool of disinformation from all sides. Literally could not be sorted (working out national interests via realpolitik is another thing.) It’s hard to believe that Monbiot could become so wedded to a theory. It’s happened to others. Propaganda works.

      2. Oregoncharles

        @ Olga: by way of illustrating your point, someone said that if China has as many cars per capita as LA, the entire Pacific Basin would be smogged in.

        Yes, I think a huge opportunity was wasted when Communism collapsed; it was a chance to move to worker ownership and control of enterprises, and also a much larger public sphere. Unfortunately, the neoliberals and people like Larry Summers dominated the West’s response.

  1. Kurt Sperry

    Re: the Amazon retail corruption, the term “stakeholders” has always creeped me out as coldly exclusionary. Because those non-stakeholders, um, you know, ick.

    1. perpetualWAR

      That’s hilarious.
      When I first began to lobby my state legislature as a volunteer, they kept throwing around the term, “stakeholders.” I said, “What do you mean with the term, stakeholder? Am I not a party who has a stake in the outcome, yet you claim I am not a stakeholder?” Then, when I finally *got it* that “stakeholder” meant LOBBYIST. I used to correct them all the time. When they would use “stakeholder” I would say “lobbyist.” They still to this day hate me. I guess I wasn’t a good little lobbyist. I had no money to give them.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe by stakeholders what they mean is the stake that you will be holding that goes through your heart.

    3. PhilK

      Our political and economic systems could be greatly improved by some stakeholders of the type Bram Stoker used to write about.

  2. perpetualWAR

    I’m going to say it again:
    We cannot complain about Amazon’s power and yet accept deliveries in the stupid little smiley face box.

    Boycott Amazon.

    1. a different chris

      I do but I can’t ask my family to. I’m not a preacher type, and throw in how hard-working and underpaid my adult children are I can’t mess up the simple joy of them occasionally being able to purchase something. But I had to bite my tongue, though, when the dogs “went off” Sunday night and it turned out it was because some poor slob had shown up to deliver an Amazon package. Sunday night, for (family blog)’s sake.

      I’m also not religious but I am sure seeing the point of a Sabbath nowadays.

      1. perpetualWAR

        “….poor slob…”

        Poor “underpaid worker who uses his own vehicle to deliver packages on a SUNDAY night” because there are such “good” jobs that Amazon creates!

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      I believe there is still time.

      Soon, though, we might only hear ‘but I can”t get it at my nearest stores, at all, within 1,000 miles.”

      1. perpetualWAR

        Many people buy from Amazon when their local store is several blocks away. They just can’t get off their lazy [family blog].

        1. Jen

          Indeed. I have several friends (of more than ample means) who order batteries from Amazon rather than buy them from a local store because “it’s so convenient.”

          Really? More convenient than taking 5 minutes to pop into the local hardware store that you drive by every family blogging day?

          Plus, the guys at the local hardware store provide excellent customer service, and they’re a hoot.

          Admittedly, that means it sometimes takes more than 5 minutes to buy batteries, but it’s time well spent.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        for me, it’s 100+ miles, one way
        But i remember calling bookstores to order specific esoterica, and would be happy to do it again.
        Problem here is that amazon now doubles as a tv station(wife’s doing. cancer has given her a bushy tail)
        I suspise that it’s too late for a boycott to do any good.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          A re-targetting of purchaser business and dollars to NOmazon businesses may keep those busineses alive in order to function as centers of resistance and rejection against the Amazon. Think of it as our version of the Monasteries which kept elements of civilization and learning alive through the Dark Ages.

          Amazon is one of the Dark Lords of today’s Digital Dark Ages. These Dark Ages will end just as the pre-Medieval Dark Ages ended. If Amazon is permitted to have exterminated every NOmazon business in the meantime, then when Amazon finally dies as it deserves, there will be no bussiness anywhere in the world at all.
          Surviving through the Digital Dark Ages till some future Post-Digital Renaissance is reason enough for just enough NOmazon customers to support NOmazon bussinesses to keep them from going extinct in the meantime.
          ( Slightly off topic:
          Conservation Lifestyling example: Just earlier today I dropped off my shoes for repair at the shoe repair shop. The shoes were coming loose from the soles. The shop-worker explained that most modern shoemakers make shoes to self-destruct on purpose so the owner will throw them away and buy new shoes. I said I am willing to spend dollars 2-10 in order to keep Dollar One away from the Sh*tlords of Planned Obsolescence. Re-gluing my shoes will cost $40.00

          No Amazon was involved anywhere in any trace of any of those transactions.)

          So yes, the thought of extermicotting Amazon into extinction is hopeless in the face of the 90% of sub-citizens who are merely UnDead Amazombies Walking. But the Superior Ten Per Cent can still patronize NOmazon bussinesses enough to keep them alive.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            I get many things we need through the feedstore and the hardware store(if I can’t liberate them from the metal pile at the dump)…but walmart has already exterminated local or even regional bidness. we drive 40 miles out of our way(one way) to patronise a regional grocer with superior produce(HEB, and they treat their people well, by all accounts(I ask))
            One of the de facto taxes on living way out here has always been lack of “consumer choice”…but it’s gotten ridiculous in the last 20 or so years.
            and as i’ve said before…if i need a window unit or a funky wire to make the rube goldberg internet work, i can drive the 100 miles to costco or best buy, and get the same thing as walmart, 16 miles away…but it all comes from the same place(somewhere in Asia) any way…so it’s really just a choice of middleman.
            Much of my efforts have been towards autarky…food, fuel and water, especially.
            I want more than anything to remain at least as unplugged as I have been..with an eye to becoming ever more unplugged.
            to the majority of folks I encounter, this is seen as weird and scary(“why would you want that?”)…but there’s a minority who envy such efforts, and understand…at least in some nebulous way…how dystopian so much of modern life has become, and promises to become.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              You are probably already doing so much more in the teeth of a “retail desert” than most of us are actually doing to buy from NOmazon that the rest of us ( even the “committed”) would still need to catch up.

              If posts get published with some apparent invitational space for comments about the nuts and bolts of unplugging and semi-autarchy, one hopes people who are already doing some of that will describe in some detail what they do and how they do it in comments.

              Semi-autarchy would be difficult or impossible in a high-density urban environment, but in a mid-yard to big-yard suburb, where every house has its own harvestable sunlight, roofwater, soil to grow some food, place to put a waterless composting toilet, etc. That is where semi-autarchy could really take off . . . is in suburbia.

            2. JBird4049

              Fortunately the Bay Area still has some decent bookstores. It might only be ¼ of pre Amazon and almost all the used bookstores are gone but still some good ones. But finding a real repair shop, stationary store, shoe store, or even a decent clothing store is getting close to impossible unless I want to drive twenty miles.

              I have a liking for fountain pens. I used to be able to drive or even walk to stores pens, nibs, and ink. Now it’s online or a 2 hour round trip. I think many people still want to use actual stores but they are going away unless it is a cheap chain store or some high end store.

              It is not just because Americans are becoming poorer or that it can really be more convenient to go online that fewer people shop at a physical store. Physical stores of all kinds are disappearing starting with the specialty stores, then the mom and pop stores, and now all the department stores that served the middle and class are going away. The customers, the money, and even the desire are still there but not the businesses.

    3. zagonostra

      I thought I was boycotting them and then last week I was reading NC and I discovered Abebooks is owned by them…I cringe at friends when I see them ordering using “Amazon Prime”..these are well educated, well-meaning progressives…yes put your money where your values are.

      1. Stillfeelinthebern

        Use Alibris for books. Google it.

        You can get all the books you find on the big A. Used too. From all kinds of booksellers. You pay shipping but it actually costs the same or less.

        1. Oregoncharles

          Or Powell’s, which happens to be in Portland, OR. I’ve been in there many times, but they also do online and mailorder.

    4. marieann

      I do my best but my husband orders from them.
      But the good thing is that we’re not shoppers don’t buy a lot anyway. I always get my books from Chapters, and we shop at thrift stores first

      1. WobblyTelomeres

        Libraries are good, too. Ours has a maker lab with two 3d printers. I’ve had them print out tunnel portals for my model railroads…

          1. WobblyTelomeres

            I don’t. I use the library printers; send them a file, they print it. They only use the corn-starch based filaments, but, still, I’d rather they print it. That way I don’t have to buy a printer…

  3. Bullwinkle

    In regard to Amazon’s “retail access”. They forgot to mention close proximity to the Pentagon and the surveillance agencies. That’s really what the Crystal City – oops, I mean National Landing choice is all about.

    1. Synoia

      We know who you are
      what you buy
      where you are and,
      what you say,
      and what you think.

      It’s a free country, right?

  4. Chauncey Gardiner

    Under the “Trade” category and setting aside environmental issues for a moment: As someone outside the industry, I am baffled by the price differential between Western Canadian Select (WCS) and the benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil, which are reportedly comparable grades. Canadian WCS is reportedly selling for about $18 bbl, while WTI is selling for around $56 bbl. Suspect I’m overlooking some key factor(s), but don’t know what it is. If the reported data is accurate, why aren’t we buying oil from Calgary rather than from some of the other sources?


    1. barefoot charley

      Because they can’t get it to market from there. Exploding rail tankers, pipeline protests and impossible economics all discourage infrastructure completion. Even Barack Trudeau himself can’t talk the glop out of Alberta ‘efficiently’.

    2. Michael

      It’s because of Transportation costs. WCS is limited in pipeline and rail capacity to deliver the product to market. Hence why Canadians have advocated for the Keystone XL pipeline and the Transmountain pipeline. Adding this pipeline capacity would allow more Canadian crude to flow towards ports and refineries, thereby increasing the costs/value of WCS. On the other side, there is plenty of transportation options for WTI including current pipeline capacity and underway/expected capacity to sustain a larger cost per bbl.

  5. Mikkel

    “Private sufficiency, public luxury”

    I haven’t been to any cities in Europe other than Oslo and Stockholm, but the downtowns were perfect examples of this. They are filled with medium density housing (historically) affordable to blue collar workers and each complex has its own public space. Every mile or so there are parks that have wonderful facilities, and schools are everywhere to the point it seemed nearly all students walked. And don’t get me started about their public transport.

    Even the best locations in the city have this model. In Oslo I lived in a modest but sparkling apartment that was only a 15 minute bus ride from downtown (with buses every 5 minutes), on the edge of a massive forest. And it only cost $1200 a month.

    My wife is Norwegian and a sociologist, so she was pointing out all the ways that the features came from social democracy. They even named the streets after skilled trades and unions or solidarity slogans.

    I am not sure if new developments have the same pattern, particularly around Stockholm, as neoliberalism is even infecting the Nordics. But it clearly showed to me that social democracy is much more than government economic or tax policy, it is a foundational worldview that shapes every aspect of society down to the family dynamics.

    There are a few issues with their model, but as a foundation it seemed perfectly scalable.

    1. Elizabeth Burton

      “Only $1200 a month” for a “modest” apartment? Those blue-collar workers must be getting paid a lot better than their US counterparts of that amount of rent can be dubbed “only”.

      1. JTMcPhee

        I’m betting that the median rent (which in most of those places so far, has not been bid up by the Sacred MArket Forces) is a lot less than that, and that yes, mopes over there tend to be paid better, and have to pay out a lot less of their wage money incomes for “public goods” like health care. But we must maintain our notions of our cultural superiority, and continue broadcasting messages to the mope working class that the race to the bottom is inevitable, and full-contact competition is the only rule in the game. The neoliberals, of course, are doing their darndest to make sure that the social democracies, anywhere they may exist, get extinguished via overthrow, corruption, privatization and “austerity.” With a side order of ginned-up class- and ethnic-based internecine and debilitating warfare.

    1. marieann

      My two cat lads don’t go out but I do get tempted to bring in stray animals/cats. My husband is the only thing that stands between me and moniker “crazy cat lady”

      I loved the poster about the coyote

  6. neighbor7

    “A tripling in the value of the stock market pretty much guarantees a big increase in wealth inequality. If we think this increase is bad, then why would we not think a drop in the stock market is good?”

    Because my minimal retirement accounts are linked to the stock market.

    Baker also uses the term “safety net” as a positive–something Lambert has rightfully skewered.

      1. a different chris

        And a good part of DB’s point was the “minimal” part of the whole thing.

        Our retirees should be able to live as long as they can without worry. Yeah they can’t fly on a ski trip every weekend, but they shouldn’t have to worry over having a house with heat and food. I don’t think that is in opposition to what Lambert has said.

        But most importantly, this is exactly how TPTB do it – they lock you into their way of doing things, and make the price for change seemingly unbearable.

        1. JTMcPhee

          And if those of you with “retirement accounts in the stock market” don’t understand how that game is totally rigged, maybe it might bother you that the Goldmans and Wells Fargo’s of the world refer to you as “dumb money,” “muppets” and similar epithets. And that there is a reason why financial advisers no longer talk to mopes about “investments,” but about the necessity and beauty of being “exposed to risk,” including the risk that their fees and scams, and Big Short market moves, and bubble pops, will bleed you of all your supposed “Capitalist” capital, while they smile and smirk at you when you aren’t looking. Like you can read about here: http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Columns/2012/03/20/7-Steps-to-Fix-Goldman-Sachs

      2. Todde

        Its a threefer:

        1) create artificial demand thru tax breaks for buying financial assets.

        2) reduce govt revenue

        3) tie working class retirement to your financial inrerests.

    1. JohnnyGL

      You should sell those equity holdings and get some treasury bonds. Dump the illusion that the stock market will ever make you wealthy.

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

        Housing today could soon party like it’s 2009 again.

        For those who only have one, and they live in it, I am not sure what they should do.

    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      “Life is not a palindrome.”

      Actually, that’s not quite apt.

      It should be ‘the world is different after you first climb up to the second floor and then climb back down.’ Now, your brain, your mind, your self, is telling you that you’re are in an abyss.

      It’s similar, psychologically (human-wise, not sure about say, cats) to ‘give them an inch, and they will take a mile.”

      So, now, the market has to go even higher, or else.

  7. scarn

    The prolific University of Houston historian Gerald Horne wrote a fine book on the topic of enslaved or free black cooperation with the British Empire called ‘Negro Comrades of the Crown: African Americans and the British Empire Fight the U.S. Before Emancipation’. It can be found on Amazon or Powells. I recommend it and everything else the man has published.

    1. Huey

      Thank you for the historian, book recommendation, and Amazon alternative. I will be sure to check them out.

    2. Jessica

      Just to be sure it is understood, the British were not in general any much better about slavery than the US.
      It was a common practice for all sort of enslaving societies to offer freedom to slaves in exchange for their fighting in the wars of the enslavers. Even the Confederacy did it a little. Part of why the Haitian Revolution succeeded was that the enslavers were divided amongst themselves, French vs. Spanish vs. English , Republicans vs. monarchists, white enslavers vs. colored enslavers.
      Also, even areas that did not themselves have slavery were more than willing to benefit from supplying slave societies or purchasing from them (looking at you New England and industrializing UK).

  8. Kurt Sperry

    Thoughts on where we stand: The Trump outrage machine steams on with both sides furiously feeding the boiler. It makes everyone feel good, and nobody’s mind is being changed, so win-win I suppose. Except I think Trump wins more because he, even nothwithstanding his overt narcissism, is always the center of attention and dominates every news cycle. While Trump and his attention whoring behavior completely dominates the political press, policy is left somewhere in the shadows on the sidelines outside of the media klieg lights.

    This is also a win that never ends for the Democrat elites who seem to have no hard ideological principles at all that aren’t for sale and thus no vision of the future, no policy agenda beyond always being ever-so-slightly to the left of whatever crazypants policy the GOP (who *do* have ideological principles, just evil/wrong ones) is espousing, lest they lose those near-mythical Republican, degreed “suburban voters” and non-deplorable anti-Trump Republicans they always claim to be chasing after, who all added together couldn’t fill a football stadium. If, god forbid, the subject of policy instead of the daily Trump outrage drip, were to become central, then the Democrats would immediately have exposed their lack of any slate of issues or coherent set of policies that aren’t being written in backrooms by the evil gazillionaires, like criminal Wall St. banksters, energy companies shamelessly getting rich killing the planet, health insurance and pharma executive extortionists and cartoon villain arms dealers selling industrial death to tyrants and terrorists the world over who collectively own and operate the Democratic Party as a mighty bulwark against the actual left and non crazy right-wing working classes having any say in policy like say taxing, regulating or even jailing them where appropriate.

    Universal single-payer health care as a citizens’ right? No, look at what Trump said! Tuition-free public university and writing down student loan debts? No, look what Trump did! Closing tax loopholes, offshore avoidance schemes, taxing capital gains as income and returning to a progressive tax system like we had in the Republican Eisenhower era? No, sparklepony, shut up! Trump! Saving and expanding Social Security? No, are you crazy? Trump! Trump! Building a renewable energy infrastructure that would create millions of productive and well-paid jobs and save the planet? No, look at Trump’s hair! Look at how funny it looks!

    Trump serves both parties, the corporate Democrats need him and his endless philistine outrage distractions just as much as the Republicans whose party he has conquered and now become the ugly soul of. We feed the evil machine by giving it our eyeballs, our clicks, our social media tribal affirmations and shares, instead of directing that finite attention towards desperately needed policy initiatives. It’s not just the country in the balance, it’s the Earth and all its inhabitants. That’s what is at stake at this point in history. Trump is nothing from that perspective, he doesn’t deserve or merit the attention we lavish upon him. And what’s worse is that this obsessive, policy-free tribalism is exactly what Trump requires to be re-elected

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      I’m usually the pessimist but I think the situation is brighter than you suggest (though not actually bright). If one thinks about single-payer or free college or student loan debt relief or even the (unimportance of the) budget deficit, the increasing prominence of those issues in political debate is down to two things – Bernie’s surprising popularity in 2016 and the fact that Trump won. If HRC had won, all those issues would be completely dead.

      It is true that being in the conversation is only step one and that there is still far to go to actually achieve positive change, and that we have probably seen only a small fraction of the lengths to which our opponents will go to prevent positive change. But I think we are further ahead that we would have been had Trump lost.

      1. Synoia

        We can look to Pelosi to bring all those programs together in the house, and her loyal cohorts fashion them into a platform for 2020.

        1. Procopius

          Has Pelosi renounced her allegiance to Paygo? A few months ago she stated emphatically that her first priority if the Dems won the House would be to restore Paygo, which I consider the third worst idea in government policy in the history of the world, after Balanced Budget Amendment and Elected Judges.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        Very possibly, but with the state of things, particularly the precarious health of the ecosystem, it just feels to me like we are approaching a tipping point–for better or worse. I say this conciously trying not to sound like Kos-bot spouting facile “the most important election ever” boilerplate or falling into a recentist trap. If four years of Trump (let’s not kid ourselves, he ain’t going nowhere) doesn’t spur the sensible portion of our electorate into boldly repudiating the lesser evilism that will be our doom, then I despair. Maybe Four More Years wouldn’t kill us, and maybe that’s what it will take to finally break the cartoon villains’ hold on the DP and bring the American electorate to its senses, but it just feels to me like the trajectory is bad and time is running short.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          What is an American electorate which has been “brought to its senses” supposed to vote for, if there is nothing to vote for?

          How is there supposed to be something to vote for if the the Clinties and the Obamies are not purged, burned and exterminated from public life and public view? So they can no longer prevent the SanderSocial Democrats from being seen?

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If HRC had won, all those issues would be completely dead.

        Not only that, the DSA would be far weaker, along with other countervailing institutions like Our Revolution, Justice Democrats, and so on — about whom I’m quite hopeful.

        And it’s no good saying “Trump is a fascist!!!!!” unless you think that liberal Democrats are the answer to preventing fascism. I don’t think so. And Nancy Pelosi agrees: “Pelosi: Democrats ‘to work boldly’ with Trump” [BBC]. So Pelosi is a fascist too, or Trump is not (and Pelosi is a Russian stooge too, or Trump is not).

  9. nippersmom

    Georgia governor’s race
    Latest email from the Abrams campaign:
    Voter suppression is not just a relic of the past. It is happening today, in Georgia and across the country. That’s why it is so important that people share their personal experiences with voter suppression – to remind all of us that the fight is not over, the battle is not won.

    We have one story to share with you today. Meet JaKayla:

    JaKayla is a freshman at Albany State and a first-time voter. She wanted to vote early, but she didn’t have a ride to the polls, so she decided to wait until Election Day when there would be a polling location on her college campus.

    But when JaKayla went to vote on Election Day, she was told she had to vote by provisional ballot. She asked if she needed to go to a different polling location and was told “No,” her only option was to vote using a provisional ballot.

    Her grandmother even called the Secretary of State’s office to ask what they could do to help, but all they would say is “I can’t answer that,” or “I don’t know.” So JaKayla called our Voter Protection Hotline to report what happened.

    Many of JaKayla’s classmates at Albany State were forced to cast provisional ballots, and many more, including JaKayla’s roommate, were told they could not vote at all.

    Our team is not just fighting for Stacey Abrams. We are fighting for Georgians like JaKayla who deserve to have their votes counted.

    Because if we don’t stand up to agents of voter suppression today, they will continue to attack our civil rights tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that. That’s why we are fighting back, and why we have to ask:

    Will you chip in $3 to support our team as we do battle to defend democracy in Georgia? This fight will be long and hard, but your vote, and JaKayla’s vote, is worth it.

    We’ll leave you with this: What do we want the history books to say about us? That we backed down in the face of a challenge, or that we fought with our hearts and souls bared to defend democracy?


    – Team Abrams

    Just as a reminder, that unhelpful Secretary of State’s office was the office of her opponent, Brian Kemp. He keeps pressing her to concede the election. I hope she holds out for every damn vote to be counted.

    1. perpetualWAR

      If I support Team Abrams by clicking on the link to donate, does half of this donation go to Kamala as well?

      (Just a little snark to help me through the day)

  10. JohnnyGL

    Really good write up to push back against the anti-meat jihadi/crusaders. Yes, I’m calling them jihadi/crusaders for purposes of mockery and because there’s no empirical evidence to support the idea that a vegan planet will stop climate change, therefore the force of conviction must be religious in nature.

    The whole article was very good, but the below paragraph was absolutely superb.


    I have no problem with ”eating less meat” as such. But it is the wrong entry point for an intelligent analysis of our food system. Increase in meat consumption is primarily caused by a massive overproduction of staple crops driven by the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Those cheap staple crops form the basis for the industrialization of meat production and a production model where animals have been separated from the land and the land has been put into monocultures. That kind of livestock system is wasteful and unethical, and “we” should not eat its products – at all. But livestock which is properly integrated into an ecologically sound agriculture system is not wasteful. It can clearly increase productivity of the whole system, it can vitalize the soil and sequester carbon at the same time. Even the last IPCC report concludes that: “Overall, there is high agreement that farm strategies that integrate mixed crop – livestock systems can improve farm productivity and have positive sustainability outcomes.”

    1. Rojo

      I think the meatless thing is being pushed by people who would push meatlessness regardless of the earth’s temperature.

      And, really, it throws the whole thing back on “individual choice” and sin instead of where it belongs — rapacious capitalism.

      I should stop eating meat?

      Maybe you should give up your pets or stop jetting all over the planet.?

      1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef


        Sometimes, people advocate something motivated by another different thing entirely or partly.

        So, first, it was weed for medicinal purposes, but few added it should be recreational too. Only step at a time, perhaps. Or moving the goal post.

        I think both weed and tobacco should be de-stigmatized and it should have been recreational from the start, as both have been sacred herbs for the Native Americans. Then, I am not always practical. Maybe that would not have gotten us where we are…hopefully not heading toward over-consumption, as is usually the case with humans, and we end up with too much water going to that farming sub-sector.

    2. marieann

      Thanks for the article, I find a lot in the vegan mindset to be similar to the mindset I have a friend who is always trying to save my soul and an acquaintance who is always trying to convert me to veganism.
      I don’t eat beef and I eat 2-3 oz of chicken/pork per day. That is about all most humans need protein wise.

      My husband eats the about same diet as me and was recently found to have very low Vitamin B12 levels, so in my estimation humans need meat, especially folk over 50 who don’t absorb the vitamin well.

      So if your doctor doesn’t routinely do B12 levels, and you are over 50 please request it.

      1. johnnygl

        Personally, i’ve been trying to stick to grass fed beef, and only 2-3 days a week at most. I don’t really enjoy much more than that.

        I also have watched a number of lectures around alan savory’s ideas of managing livestock properly and seeing the evidence that it can revitalize the landscape, instead of damaging it made me think that these methods have got to be part of the solution.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      Concretely, as I understand it, the real force with the power to despoil the Amazon is not Bolsonaro but provincial ranchers (motto: Bullets, Beef, and Bible).

      It would be nice to take their market away from them. Agreed on that final paragraph in resilience.org; “the wrong entry point.”

  11. Hameloose Cannon

    Jimmy “ The Montpelier Mad Man” Madison: “It may be a *reflection on* human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all *reflections on* human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: *you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.* [Emp * mine]
    –It’s not reflections *of* human nature but reflections *on* human nature, meaning “reproach: a cause or occasion of blame, discredit, or disgrace. Or ‘censure’”. Background: the Madison family were convinced Grandpa Ambrose was poisoned to death by his slaves. So… Jimmy Junior had no illusions on the importance of maintaining order in the ranks. The Enlightenment was over. Kaput.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Agreed on your close reading. I am not, however, a fan of the notion that human beings are intrinsically good, although (thinking of the behavior of nurses and firefighters in the California firefighters) they are very often much better than the baseline set by homo economicus. If evil were not adaptive it would never have arisen in nature or been selected for, sad to say; just like good.

  12. Jeff W

    “…thousands of North American slaves in quest of freedom fled their masters to join the British…” • That would be interesting history to know.

    Simon Schama’s Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution, reviewed in The Guardian, gives some details. There’s also this account by historian Alan Gilbert, author of Black Patriots and Loyalists; Fighting for Emancipation in the War of Independence. (Gilbert says “how did there come to be a free North to oppose bondage in the Civil War, the answer is, surprisingly: gradual emancipation during and just after the American Revolution.”)

  13. Skip Intro

    On the historical origins of patriarchy, The Alphabet Versus The Goddess posits an ongoing tension between more matriarchal cultures and patriarchal, with the former characterised by image-based communication and holistic philosophies, and the latter by more rigid linear thought and alphabet-based communication. I find it ties in with Nietzsche’s discussion of the Apollonian and Dionysian drives, and also to some degree Stephenson’s discussion of the use of rigid alphabetic discipline by ancient Hebrew authors (who just overthrew the hieroglyphic paradigm) to preserve knowledge social structures against mystic contamination in Snow Crash. In this light, the rise of Emoji, SnapChat, and Instagram as communication modalities has significant implications.

    In “The Alphabet Versus The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image”

    Leonard Shlain, author of the bestselling Art & Physics, proposes that the process of learning alphabetic literacy rewired the human brain, with profound consequences for culture. Making remarkable connections across a wide range of subjects including brain function, anthropology, history, and religion, Shlain argues that literacy reinforced the brain’s linear, abstract, predominantly masculine left hemisphere at the expense of the holistic, iconic feminine right one. This shift upset the balance between men and women initiating the disappearance of goddesses, the abhorrence of images, and, in literacy’s early stages, the decline of women’s political status. Patriarchy and misogyny followed.

    Shlain contrasts the feminine right-brained oral teachings of Socrates, Buddha, and Jesus with the masculine creeds that evolved when their spoken words were committed to writing. The first book written in an alphabet was the Old Testament and its most important passage was the Ten Commandments. The first two reject of any goddess influence and ban any form of representative art.

    The love of Mary, Chivalry, and courtly love arose during the illiterate Dark Ages and plummeted after the invention of the printing press in the Renaissance. The Protestant attack on holy images and Mary followed, as did ferocious religious wars and neurotic witch-hunts. The benefits of literacy are obvious; this gripping narrative explores its dark side, tallying previously unrecognized costs.

    Shlain goes on to describe the colossal shift he calls the Iconic Revolution, that began in the 19th century. The invention of photography and the discovery of electromagnetism combined to bring us film, television, computers, and graphic advertising; all of which are based on images. Shlain foresees that increasing reliance on right brain pattern recognition instead of left brain linear sequence will move culture toward equilibrium between the two hemispheres, between masculine and feminine, between word and image. A provocative, disturbing, yet inspiring read, this book is filled with startling historical anecdotes and compelling ideas. It is a paradigm shattering work that will transform your view of history and mind.

  14. Olga

    “He is a beautiful, funny, kind, sweet man'” – as they say, gag me with a spoon… What is it about Michelle O?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “To Win Rural America, Dems Must Lean into Progressive Policies”

    I sometimes think that the situation is that the majority of Americans are actually very progressive in their politics but come each election time, it is like Lucy and the football in that they are only offered neoliberals to choose from, aka Obama, Bush, Clinton, etc. It is the donors for both parties (the same people?) that don’t want progressive politicians anywhere near the levers of power and they get their way nearly everytime. That is, until the day that they don’t but when that happens, I think that it will be in a phase shift in politics which will catch most people out.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      Be the arrow.

      There are progressives, and there are actors (and actresses) playing progressives.

      Leaning into progressive policies seem more like the latter (and it’s hard to tell).

      ‘Be progressives’ would be more the former. This can be done in an instant, though it might take a lifetime to prove.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I would rather support someone who leans into progressive policies which I support, than support someone who flaunts a Political Identy AS a PROGRESSIVE which means supporting evil policies which I rightly condemn and reject.

        How many EVIL PROGRESSIVES, for example, support Illegal Immigrationism and Open Borders? Because those are EVIL policies and I will condemn and reject the EVIL PROGRESSIVES who support them.

    2. Jeff W

      …the majority of Americans are actually very progressive in their politics…

      They are, even those who might label themselves conservatives, and they’ve been that way for decades. (Support for New Deal-type programs and social spending has always been high, even among those who call themselves conservative Republicans.) Americans overwhelmingly support Bernie Sanders’ positions on the issues. You’re right—they are only offered neoliberal candidates and they’re told endlessly—and falsely—by the media that this is a “center-right” country.

      Aside from the divisiveness of social issues, which diverts the populace (at this point I’d say intentionally) from the broad swathe of issues on there is broad agreement, it seems to me like one part of the dynamic is pluralistic ignorance—roughly, “no one believes, but everyone thinks that everyone believes”—or, lots of people want progressive policies but lots of people think that other people don”t. (We are, after all, the media pundits helpfully intone, a “center-right” country.*) We’re seeing, after a 70-year or maybe century-long taboo, the emergence of some moderately left ideas and the winning of some socialist-endorsed candidates. So that dynamic might be shifting.

      *And, on one level, the media pundits are, unwittingly, correct—we’re a “center-right” country in the policies that the élites allow. And, so, to some extent, people are just assuming the constraints within a broken, oligarchic system, what Hillary Clinton deftly called “pragmatic.”

    3. Jessica

      I suspect that there are many people who themselves prefer progressive policies but who have been convinced that most other folks don’t.

  16. fnx - fka chicagogal

    Not sure where that story about Sean Casten and climate change came from, but as a resident of IL-06, not once did I ever see anything about it. Not in the many mailers or even in tv ads was it mentioned.

    I will take a mea culpa for predicting that Roskam would be retained tho. This area has been red for so long that it was pretty inconceivable to me that a Democrat, any Democrat, would/could get elected here, but now that one has, let’s see how they conduct themselves before cheering about it.

  17. knowbuddhau

    “The origins of sexism: How men came to rule 12,000 years ago” [New Scientist].

    Thanks for this. I’ve read of a similar hypothesis. There’s evidence of localized reversals. After countless millennia of the goddess ascendant, phallocentric men’s cults take over. Yahweh and Zeus are typical, but this was much earlier. I think it explains a lot in those cultures where it happened. Unlike my peeps, we didn’t all try to make Mother our bitch.

    That’s why I don’t think it explains “humanity.” This is all about grain farming. People were cultivating before that. Like so many others, the Coastal Salish farmed shellfish, hazelnuts, and other foods as they moved around to seasonal homes.

    And I think “hunter-gatherers” is a misnomer. “Hunter-harvesters” would be more accurate. They had agency and actively managed their resources, but not as “treasures,” as kin.

    Maybe the rush to generalize: from some people, somewhere, at some time, to all of us, everywhere, forever; is an artifact of forcing the anthropological fields to fit a physical science frame, and then losing the distinction. Humans aren’t elemental, nor are we standardized parts.

    We’re highly localized and entirely culture-dependent. What’s wrong with that? What makes a generic city-dweller with no permanent roots the ideal for all humanity? What makes TPTB of our strain of civilization so cocksure globalizing it is such a great idea?

    Saw an absurd documentary title along these lines the other day: “In Search of Absolute Zero: The Conquest of Cold.” That’s about as stupid as a War on Terra.

    1. cocomaan

      I’m with you on the terminology here. I think it’s far too limiting to just say “Hunter gatherers were matriarchal” and then be done with it. You have to unpack both sides of that sentence: what were nomadic societies? and what is a society of female empowerment? Is it just matrilocalism? Or is patrilocalism the only root cause of a patriarchial society?

      The fact that the article switches to Me Too makes it a bit of a joke

      1. Jessica

        The crucial distinction is whether or not a society produces a storable surplus. There were hunter-gatherer societies in the Pacific Northwest who even had slavery. Those were societies that controlled access to rich fishing grounds. The ability to store food longer term seems to have arisen 30,000 years ago or so – long before agriculture – in the tundra. Frozen meat.
        Newer research suggests that agriculture in and of itself is not the issue. In Mesopotamia, there was agriculture and small cities for millennia before the rise of class hierarchies and civilization.
        Societies can learn to do better too. The Chaco Verde culture was extremely hierarchical and tore itself apart. The successor cultures emphasize egalitarianism.
        Looking forward rather than back, I think the key now is to develop conscious societies, societies whose members can understand how the society functions and make conscious choices about its direction. A society controlled by an invisible hand cannot be conscious.

  18. Edward E

    Here’s something that has become all too rare these days. Scientists admit mistakes and thanked a contrarian for pointing it out. We’re still overdue a cold phase Pacific and don’t give up, it could still happen. Temperatures reach as cold as theoretically can happen in Antarctica still. -144° -148°

    Climate Scientists Discover Error in Major Ocean-Warming Study


    After correcting their mistake, Keeling said their research indicates oceans are warming only slightly faster than previously thought, not dramatically faster as they initially reported. Keeling said the miscalculation was made when they were calculating their margin of error, which had a larger range (10 to 70 percent) than they initially believed.


    “Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling said. “We really muffed the error margins.”

      1. Edward E

        From now on I should ‘Ignore the errors and accept the propaganda’ ok good. Here’s a sampling of comments for anyone interested in the vaunted peer review.


        I think the interesting question here is what would have happened to the paper if the results, as Lewis describes them, had been described by the authors themselves? I suspect they wouldn’t have tried to publish it, or, if they had, Nature and the referees would have declined it. Does anyone really doubt this?

        Underestimating uncertainty is, unfortunately, not rare. If Climate Science were required to establish significance to 5 sigmas, I think most papers would have to be retracted. I don’t know what significance level the authors used in this paper, but I doubt they used 5 sigmas.

        In this paper they used one sigma. Even with their underestimated uncertainty and overestimated trend the result would have been 23±24 x 10^21 J at two sigmas. Not a particularly impressive result.

        How can a researcher come up with a dramatic unexpected result and not double check the numbers? If it’s unexpected wouldn’t a reviewer have scrutinized the numbers?

        It would seem Dr Resplandy is making a habit of major mathematical errors in her papers that steers them towards larger impacts on oxygen potential release and thus higher OHC impacts.

        Peer review is official truth by consensus, the method of priests and theology, which Galileo told us was poor method of discovering truth, and Robert Boyle told us was apt to become lies. And I bet very few Warmists know who Robert Boyle was or why his opinion matters.

  19. oaf

    “Hillary Launches Campaign To Raise $100 Million Or Else She’ll Run For President”

    …Maybe just check under the cushions….

  20. allan

    Life in Cuomostan outside of the HQ2 bubble:

    Early Intervention services continue to disappear in NY
    [Democrat and Chronicle]

    … In 2017, parents, school districts and service providers all said the same thing: Monroe County and every other community in New York face a crisis in the shortage of special education services available for the youngest children.

    A year later, they’re all saying an already critical situation has gotten much worse.

    One prominent prekindergarten program at Hillside will soon close, joining several other organizations that could no longer afford to operate at a deficit. Others have reduced the number of evaluations they provide, even as the need increases. Families seeking speech, physical or occupational therapy for their pre-school age children are more likely to find the news that none are available.

    Things have deteriorated to the point that the Children’s Institute is exploring a class-action lawsuit against New York state. …

    Such a lawsuit would be unexpected for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who said Oct. 31 in a meeting with the Democrat and Chronicle editorial board, that he hadn’t heard of the problem at all. …

    The Children’s Institute needs to rebrand as an innovative blockchain startup, throw $50K towards
    Cuomo’s coronation inauguration, and maybe then he’ll answer their calls.

  21. James Graham

    “Super rich people are paying up to $500,000 for luxe panic rooms — and as gun violence picks up, they’re more popular than ever” [Business Insider]. “

    I was told years ago that the doormen at many (most?) high-end Manhattan apartment buildings have ready access to shotguns.

    Unlike rifles or pistols shotguns do not require (hard-to-get) NYPD permits and they would be effective in a riot-like situation.

    1. RMO

      I have a friend who used to work as a painter with a firm that mostly did high end houses. She once worked at a development in North Vancouver where all the houses had panic rooms as part of the standard spec. One interesting observation she had about the clients is that almost none of them ever seemed to be the least bit happy. She said the majority of them were usually raging about some minor difficulty such as the marble for the pool area not coming from the right Italian quarry or having to wait an extra week for the Mercedes dealer to get the colour car they wanted in stock and doing so with all the sense of deprivation and injustice most people reserve for events like being wiped out by a hurricane or being diagnosed with some terrible disease.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Maybe they have this background-

        Quite often I have lunch at a McDonald’s in one of the most affluent and pretentious suburbs in America just outside of Washington, D.C. The residents are ambivalent about having a McDonald’s in their community – it undermines their self-image – so the restaurant is tucked away inside a little mall and almost impossible for outsiders to find.

        I like to arrive just after 10:30. I am up very early, and before 11:00 my McDonald’s is still quiet. I eat and read in peace. Later, mothers drive up in their luxury SUVs with their preschool children, and, if schools are closed, older children too. Some high-schoolers show up. On Saturdays many fathers do McDonald’s duty and older children come as well. My French café is transformed into bedlam. Near the playpen especially the noise rises dramatically. I have learnt when late to shut out the din, but sometimes I watch the scene in fascination. At the counter toddlers in strollers scream when parents do not give them French fries fast enough. Older children crawl on chairs and tables or rush about shouting and shoving while waiting for mom or dad to bring the food. Mothers and fathers scurry around, anxiously solicitous of their princes and princesses. They comfort the crying and apologize to little Ashley and Eliot for having taken so long. By now I know well the difference between the crying of a child in distress and the importunate crying of a child who won’t wait or take no for an answer. At the playpen – the “hell-hole” – it is obvious that playing without throwing yourself about and making lots of noise would not be real playing. Sometimes the playpen emits such piercing screams that the Asian-American children look at their parents in startled surprise. Deference to grown-ups seems unknown. I used to take offense, but the children have only taken their cue from their parents, who took their cue from their parents. The adults, for their part, talk in loud, penetrating voices, some on cell phones, as if no other conversations mattered. The scene exudes self-absorption and lack of self-discipline.

        ……….. This is the emerging American ruling class, which is made up increasingly of persons used to having the world cater to them. If others challenge their will, they throw a temper tantrum. Call this the imperialistic personality – if “spoilt brat” sounds too crude.

        From an essay at https://www.lewrockwell.com/2004/05/claes-g-ryn/which-american/

      2. Kurt Sperry

        This. I’ve recently been rubbing shoulders with some seriously wealthy people from across the Anglosphere and it seems to me that none of them, not a one, was any happier than I, who have lived near poverty my whole adult life. I think large wealth, like poverty, stresses people out. Wealthy people don’t trust anyone, which is an extremely stressful state for anyone to exist in, they think everyone is after their wealth, and in common with the precarious poor, are forced by their circumstances to always be thinking and worrying about money. How can someone who considers *everyone* a threat be happy? No amount of bolthole homes scattered across the globe, or Mercedes, or first-class travel, or eight or nine figure investment portfolios can remedy this. The sane ones once they hit a million or two–enough to live a normal comfortable lifestyle for their remaining days–what is sometimes referred to as F[amily blog]-off money, check out of the rich lifestyle at the first opportunity. Those people are both rare and looked on with contempt (and perhaps repressed envy) by their once-peers.

        1. Wukchumni

          I knew others in my business that were feverishly working on making giant pile of money #8. in order to stick it on top of giant pile of money #7 and so on, none of them ever being content with enough, it being more of a scare word.

          And then they feel as if they have to live up to their worth by doing ostentatious things only somebody well off could afford,.

          For if it doesn’t cost anything, what value could it have?

          …being their maxim

          I never run into really wealthy people in the wilderness where money means nothing, not their bailiwick.

  22. JTMcPhee

    I recall Oral Roberts pulling a similar scam to the one HRC is now embarked upon, a couple of generations ago: “God has told me I need to raise $8 million for Oral Roberts University by March 1, 1987,or He is going to call me home.” https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/decemberweb-only/151-21.0.html As I recall, the only thing that kept Oral on this plane was some “mystery donor” that that, Praise Be To Almighty God, came up with maybe 80% of it at the last moment. https://www.ripandscam.com/religious_scam.php

    Fork a bunch of stinking scammers, and the True Believers who, for reasons unfathomable to cynical old me, throw their savings and identities into these Bernays-sauce pots…

  23. Wukchumni

    I’d been stuck on 9 black bear sightings this year-for months, and then #10:mom, #11 & #12: cubs, were briefly on the road for a few seconds and then down the embankment and outta here, a few hours ago.

    Mama was brown & the cubs dirty blonde.

  24. Eureka Springs

    Personally, I don’t think rehabilitating the architect of the Iraq War debacle and the destroyer of the Fourth Amendment goes nearly far enough.

    Well what better way to keep O hubby looking good? After all he sealed the deal on Bushco’s destruction of the Fourth and, like Iraq and Jr., Obama wiped out Libya and Syria.

    Beautiful, sweet, kind, funny.


    1. RMO

      According to what I’ve read about him I bet Hermann Goering could be quite charming and fun in a social setting too… still does nothing to change the appalling crimes he committed. Same with Bush. What does it say about the former first lady that she’s apparently just fine with that murdering, torturing war criminal?

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > What does it say about the former first lady that she’s apparently just fine with that murdering, torturing war criminal?

        It says she wants to bring as many suburban Repbublicans into the Democrat Party as possible, to (a) avoid having to expand their base beyond the professional class, and (b) build a firewall against the left, all other considerations being secondary.

  25. thoughtful person

    Found an interesting segment in the city of Alexandria’s press release regarding amazon’s new management facility (“HQ”). Apparently Va Tech will provide a whole “innovation campus” to train workers:

    “Virginia Tech Innovation Campus

    In Alexandria’s portion of Potomac Yard, Virginia Tech and the Commonwealth intend to provide funding for an Innovation Campus near Amazon’s new headquarters to build a graduate campus in the southern portion of National Landing, specifically targeted at tech talent that will benefit all companies in the Commonwealth. The campus will house master’s and doctoral level programs that dovetail with the industry’s most pressing demands. Degree programs and research opportunities will focus on computer sciences and software engineering, while offering specializations in high-demand areas, including data sciences; analytics and collective decisions; security and the Internet of Things; and technology and policy. The campus will build on the growing innovation economy in Alexandria and Arlington, anchored by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and now private sector companies like Amazon.”


  26. ChristopherJ

    On Amazon. I am just a modestly-read author of action fiction.

    I chose purposely not to go on Amazon and am published through Ingram Spark.

    My books are selling on Amazon and there are numerous second hand copies as evidence.

    I have called them and asked them to desist, to no joy. They are above the law. The company is stealing from me.

  27. Adam Eran

    One item of background for the migrants story: In the wake of NAFTA, Mexican median real income declined 34%. (Source: Ravi Batra’s Greenspan’s Fraud) One has to revisit the Great Depression to find a decline like that in the U.S.

    It’s predictable that importing a lot of subsidized Iowa corn would put some Mexican subsistence corn farmers out of business. After all, corn is only arguably the most important food crop in the world, and those little farmers were keeping the disease resistance and diversity of the corn genome alive…but they weren’t making any money for Monsanto, darn them!

    …so migrant caravans are also one of the legacy of Bill Clinton’s disastrous presidency….not that he changed much. After all, between 1798 and 1994 the U.S. was responsible for 41 changes of government south of its borders.

    But…blaming the victim seems to be the fashion today.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I believe the caravans from Honduras in particular are composed of people in flight from the omni-violence which set in there after the Hillary-supported coup against Zelaya when Hillary was SecState. So one could say that all the children of Honduras are, in a very real sense, all Hillary’s children.

  28. David Mills

    Everyone can hate me now, but the article on the Japanese man marrying a hologram gave me a flashback of the mad scientist character Krieger on the cartoon series Archer. In my defense, I have read fair bit if Gibson and even met him in Vancouver.

    Hate on in 3… 2… 1…

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