2:00PM Water Cooler 12/10/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.


“Why Trump’s trade war is pushing China to become smarter and stronger, faster” [Hellenic Shipping News]. “The final communiqués at these lovefests must usually be written beforehand for anything to be agreed. Trump is the exception. He likes one-on-ones. He is a professional deal maker in a way that does not come easily to politicians. So, the big meeting between President Xi Jinping and Trump was always going to produce a result. About the only thing we are sure of now is that there will be a tariff truce until March – but that is just what Trump wants; it gives the other side enough pressurised breathing space to move its position without losing face… [From China, we] should expect a big rise in domestic funding for research and development. Academic efforts will be enhanced and extended. Military research, which produces commercial spin-offs, will give a significant boost to the nation’s intellectual property. Interestingly, this would parallel the great developments in the US economy in the 1950s and 1960s. China would become smarter, more technologically advanced, and more militarised faster than if Trump had kept his mouth shut. But trade will be fairer. Trump’s demands hurt now, but, in the long term, he is doing China a favour by making it stronger.”

“White House insists Huawei arrest unrelated to trade war” [Australian Financial Review]. “”This is a criminal justice matter. It is totally separate from anything that I work on,’ [LIghthizer] said…. Mr Lighthizer warned further cases against Chinese companies were likely as part of a broader crackdown on the country’s theft of technology and other alleged infractions such as sanctions violations…. ‘As far as I’m concerned [90 days] is a hard deadline. When I talk to the president of the United States he is not talking about going beyond March. He is talking about getting a deal if there is a deal to be done in the next 90 days.’… Mr Kudlow added that Mr Trump was unaware of the plan to arrest Ms Meng in Canada while sitting across the dinner table from China’s president Ji Xinping at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires, where they hammered out their deal.”

“China’s real endgame in the trade war runs through Europe” [CNBC]. “Tellingly, President Xi made a stop in Spain on his way to Argentina and then again in Portugal for a two-day stint on his way back from the G-20 meeting, his first state visits to both countries. Even before Xi’s visit, China had invested $12 billion in Portuguese projects ranging from energy, to transport, to insurance, financial services and media. During Xi’s visit, China and Portugal further deepened their economic partnership, with Lisbon agreeing to cooperate in China’s Belt and Road Initiative as it hopes to garner increased Chinese infrastructure and energy investments. China is also poised to take over a majority stake in EDP, Portugal’s largest business and a major EU energy provider.” • I would imagine $12 billion goes a long way in Portugal.


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


“Elizabeth Warren forges a 2020 machine” [Politico]. “Sen. Elizabeth Warren has the core of her 2020 team in place if she runs for president. She has the seed money — there’s $12.5 million ready to go, left from her recent Senate run — and a massive email list she’s amassed over years, boosted by a $3.3 million investment in digital infrastructure and advertising in the last election alone. Her aides have been quietly shopping for presidential campaign headquarters space in the Boston area in recent weeks, according to a source with knowledge of the move. All that’s left is for her to give the green light. When and if she does, she’ll be rolling out arguably the most advanced and sweeping infrastructure in the Democratic field, a plug-and-play campaign that could give her a massive head start on nearly every contender in the burgeoning primary roster, with only Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) coming close.” • Ah, the dreaded “front runner” status. The Daily Mail addresses her DNA test-based claim of Cherokee ancestry in paragraph four. That seems a little far down in the story, at least compared to what is to come.

“Joe Biden visits Burlington” [WCAX]. “Former Vice President Joe Biden stopped in Vermont Sunday as part of a tour to promote his new book. His book, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose,” chronicles the year after his son, Beau, died of brain cancer.” • Now milking his son’s death for money, as opposed to milking it for political purposes (except, of course, not). I suppose that’s an improvement?

“What Kamala Harris Has Said About 2020 Will Leave You On The Edge Of Your Seat” [Bustle]. “Harris will have one especially unique advantage in this race, if she chooses to run: the California primary has been moved up to March 3. If she wins California early on in the campaign (and it would be a huge upset if she didn’t), this could give her campaign a turbo-boost of momentum as she works towards the Democratic primary.” • 2016 was the debate schedule; 2020 will be the primary calendar. Never change, Democrats. Never change.

“At minimum, Kamala Harris should’ve known key staff member was accused of harassment” [Sacramento Bee]. “The Sacramento Bee broke the story Wednesday that one of Harris’ longtime aides, Larry Wallace, had been accused of gender harassment and other demeaning behavior by his former executive assistant, Danielle Hartley, who sued the state Department of Justice on Dec. 30, 2016, just before Harris assumed her current office…. Wallace resigned last Wednesday. Harris on Thursday said she wasn’t aware of the allegations against him. There are only a few possible interpretations here, and they are unpleasant. Wallace wasn’t out on the periphery of Harris’ staff; he was a senior aide she knew for 14 years — hardly a stranger. For Harris to flatly deny any knowledge of this settlement seems, shall we say, far-fetched. For the moment, let’s take her at her word. A second and equally troubling interpretation is that Harris isn’t a terribly good manager, and that her staff was insulating her from information critical to the performance of her duties.”

“Beto O’Rourke is like Obama. That’s not necessarily a good thing. [Opinion]” [Dan Derozier, Houston Chronicle]. “The trouble begins with his campaign message. Consider this tweet, which set the tone for his statewide campaign: ‘We’re not running against anyone, any party, or anything. We’re running for Texas, for this country, for the big, bold, ambitious work we want to accomplish together.’ O’Rourke’s message covers rhetorical territory familiar from the Obama era: It’s positive and innocuous, but noncommittal. It relies on lofty but meaningless phraseology like Shared Values, Finding Common Ground and Bringing People Together. The message describes itself with words like ‘ambitious’ and ‘bold,’ but doesn’t promote any specific policy that could actually be described as such. Many Democrats don’t see a problem with this. In fact, [former Obama staffer and liberal tastemaker Dan Pfeiffer’s] argument for Beto O’Rourke hinges on it. To him, the choice between energizing the base and courting independent (read: Republican) voters is a false dichotomy. From his perspective, O’Rourke’s inoffensive, ambiguous message isn’t a liability — it’s the key to building a winning coalition at any cost. But the point of politics isn’t simply to win elections. Politics is about power, and elections are one way to attain it. The real question is, once you attain power, what do you do with it? On whose behalf is power wielded, and for what purpose?” • I don’t know which is more remarkable: Seeing Derozier, chair of the Houston DSA’s Electoral Committee, on the editorial pages of the Houston Chronicle, or seeing somebody on the left making a statement about power that Stoller would approve of.

“At Bernie Sanders’ Big Climate Change Town Hall, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Steals the Show” [Mother Jones]. “Sanders’ event was about climate change, but it was also about a profound generational shift in the party. “Can you interrupt this program to make an announcement on your shoes?” asked Sanders, interrupting Ocasio-Cortez by putting a hand on her shoulder, in what was an attempted meta-media commentary joke. The New York Rep-elect quickly redirected the conversation back to her talking points.” • On the Twitter, this incident has mutated among some liberal Democrat factions into Sanders being “handsy,” although apparently it’s only being test-marketed, not having made it out into major media. They hate him, though. They really hate him.

Realignment and Legitimacy

“Why the Left Must Change: Right-Wing Populism in Context” [Simon Winlow and Steve Hall]. (This seems to be an entire chapter from a book, Progressive Justice in an Age of Repression.) The whole thing is worth a read. This passage describes the UK, but, localized, it could also describe the France of the gillettes jaunes, or “deaths of despair America”:

What sense does it make to suggest that a white man queuing at a food bank is privileged, when the top 0.1% of the population are worth as much as the bottom 90% (Monaghan, 2014)? What sense does it make to talk of ‘white people’ as if they possess shared interests, cultures, aspirations and dispositions? What sense does it make to connect a white homeless man asleep in a shop doorway with a white super-rich investment banker? Are these two individuals who share nothing more than a similar skin pigmentation really bonded together in cultural and political solidarity? Do they speak with one voice on political, economic and cultural issues, always with the interests of the white race at the forefront of their minds? Are we incapable of constructing a slightly more nuanced account of the dynamics that underpin contemporary cultural enmities and the disintegration of the multiculturalist project? Are we unable to draw out the rather obvious antagonisms that exist within those people born with white skin in the hope that we might more accurately identify who is truly privileged, and whose privilege disempowers, excludes and immiserates all of those without capital?

Recall Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism, a historically grounded (as opposed to check-list style) examination of the topic. As I wrote: “The big missing piece, fortunately, is ‘mass-based party of committed nationalist militants.” And if identity politics-driven liberal Democrats — and their allies on the putative “left” — wish to encounter such a beast, they are proceeding along exactly the right path.

Stats Watch

JOLTS, November 2018: “Job openings [up] and just shy of August’s record [Econoday]. “Hires, which have been lagging openings, did rise… One alarm, however, that is not sounding is the number of quits which fell…. Federal Reserve officials keep their eye on the number of quits for clues on wage inflation and whether workers are shifting to higher paying jobs.” And: “So, for the seventh consecutive month, there were more job openings than people unemployed. Also note that the number of job openings has exceeded the number of hires since January 2015 (almost 4 years)” [Calculated Risk]. “Job openings are at a high level, and quits are increasing year-over-year. This was a strong report.” And but: “October 2018 Headline JOLTS Job Openings Little Changed” [Econintersect]. “The unadjusted data analysis shows rate of growth is about average seen since 2010 – and about average values seen in 2018. With this JOLTS, it is predicting little change in the employment situation we have seen this year.”

The Bezzle: “Investigation of generic ‘cartel’ expands to 300 drugs” [WaPo]. “Executives at more than a dozen generic-drug companies had a form of shorthand to describe how they conducted business, insider lingo worked out over steak dinners, cocktail receptions and rounds of golf… The terminology reflected more than just the clubbiness of a powerful industry, according to authorities and several lawsuits. Officials from multiple states say these practices were central to illegal price-fixing schemes of massive proportion.” • Why not nationalize them?

The Bezzle: “The language of capitalism isn’t just annoying, it’s dangerous” [The Outline]. “Published last week by Haymarket Books, [John Patrick Leary’s Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism] explores the regime of late-capitalist language: a set of ubiquitous modern terms, drawn from the corporate world and the business press, that he argues promulgate values friendly to corporations (hierarchy, competitiveness, the unquestioning embrace of new technologies) over those friendly to human beings (democracy, solidarity, and scrutiny of new technologies’ impact on people and the planet)…. Leary offers a lexicon of about 40 late capitalist “keywords,” from “accountability” to “wellness.” Some straddle the work-life divide, like “coach.” Using simple tools — the Oxford English Dictionary, Google’s ngram database, and media coverage of business and the economy— Leary argues that each keyword presents something basically indefensible about late capitalist society in a sensible, neutral, and even uplifting package.” • Yes, “innovation” is there! This is a must-read. And one more book to read. Perhaps for Xmas?

The Bezzle: “Uber’s Arbitration Policy Comes Back to Bite It in the Ass” [Gizmodo]. “Over 12,000 Uber drivers found a way to weaponize the ridesharing platform’s restrictive contract in what’s possibly the funniest labor strategy of the year… A group of 12,501 Uber drivers found a new option that hinges on the company’s own terms of service. While arbitrating parties are responsible for paying for their own attorneys, the terms state that ‘in all cases where required by law, the Company [Uber] will pay the Arbitrator’s and arbitration fees.’ As of November 13, 2018, 12,501 demands have been filed with JAMS,” [today’s petition in California’s Northern District Court] states. (JAMS refers to the arbitration service Uber uses for this purpose.) Continuing on: “Of those 12,501 demands, in only 296 has Uber paid the initiating filing fees necessary for an arbitration to commence […] only 47 have appointed arbitrators, and […] in only six instances has Uber paid the retainer fee of the arbitrator to allow the arbitration to move forward.” (Emphasis ours.)” • Awesome.

Mr. Market: “Opinion: Your love of index funds is terrible for our economy” [MarketWatch]. Among other reasons: “Index funds now own so much stock, shareholder voting power is getting concentrated in the hands of the major players in this space, like Vanguard, BlackRock BLK, -1.34% and State Street STT, -1.60% It would be better to have more diversity among the people casting shareholder votes on key issues like who gets to be on boards or whether companies disclose political campaign contributions. Bogle worries about this problem. In a recent Wall Street Journal opinion piece, he cautioned that if the popularity of index funds continue to grow, voting control over U.S. companies will be too concentrated.”

Rapture Index: Closes up 1 on plagues. “Ebola has reached a major city in Congo” [Rapture Ready]. Record High, October 10, 2016: 189. Current: 183. Up from the 180 floor.


“Billionaires Are the Leading Cause of Climate Change” [GQ]. Worth repeating: “Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world’s climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. So you, a random American consumer, exert very little pressure here. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies.”

“The Race to Understand Antarctica’s Most Terrifying Glacier” [Wired]. “In 2014, Eric Rignot, a glaciologist at NASA, concluded that Thwaites was entering a state of “unstoppable” collapse. Even worse, scientists were starting to think that its demise could trigger a larger catastrophe in West Antarctica, the way a rotting support beam might lead to the toppling not only of a wall but of an entire house. Already, Thwaites’ losses were responsible for about 4 percent of global sea-level rise every year. When the entire glacier went, the seas would likely rise by a few feet; when the glaciers around it did, too, the seas might rise by more than a dozen feet. And when that happened, well, goodbye, Miami; goodbye, Boston. No one could say exactly when Thwaites would go bad.” • I don’t think the insurance market has priced this in.

“Pakistan Makes Pledge To Plant 10 Billion Trees In 5 Years” [Green Matters]. “Between 2014-2017 the country successfully completed Khan’s Billion Tree Tsunami, a reforestation project that added 350,000 hectares of trees in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhw….. ‘We need to recognise [reforestation] as an economic opportunity, with an immense potential for job creation,’ Kashmala Kakakhel, a climate finance expert told Reuters. ‘This government plans to review (or develop new) targets for our renewable energy mix, for increasing our forest cover, for developing along a climate resilient pathway.'” • Nathan Tankus tweets: “If every country made this pledge we’d have nearly 2 trillion more trees in a decade which is almost all of our carbon emissions.” This conforms so powerfully to my priors that I’m dubious. Readers?

Health Care

Thanks, Obama:

As I keep saying, the liberal Democrats who control the party machinery shifted the center of gravity of the party toward the conservatives (despite the welcome emergence of some strong individual politicians on the left).

Class Warfare

“Time for Maine to reconsider public ownership of tidal lands” [Bangor Daily News]. “In 1989, the Maine Supreme Court turned hundreds of years of law on its head when it decided the Bell v. Town of Wells case. The case held that intertidal lands (the area between mean high and low tide) are owned by upland property owners instead of the state in trust for the public.” • Sounds like overturning that decision would be popular, at least Downeast.

“School turns students’ lunch debt over to collection agency” [WCMH-TV]. “[Raymond Votto Jr., chief operating officer of Cranston, RI Public Schools] said between September 1, 2016 and June 30, 2018, the school district wrote off $95,508. He said the unpaid balance for the current academic year is $45,859. ‘The District lunch program cannot continue to lose revenue,’ Votto said.” • The country is being run by the Harkonnens.

“‘Original Sin,’ Slavery, and American Innocence” [John Patrick Leary, Social Text]. “Original sin, in other words, is a condition of our imperfect humanity, and not an act for which we are condemnable as individuals. As the Catholic Catechism puts it, “it is a sin ‘contracted’ and not ‘committed’—a state and not an act.” Nor is it is a sin for which we can ever really do penance, as we might seek forgiveness for a cruel deed. Talented politician though he is, not even Obama can “atone” for anyone’s original sin, as the Times article above suggested he might: only the Messiah can do that.” • Hmm.

News of the Wired

“Talking and listening on a quiet street in Barnsley” [Oxford English Dictionary]. “I love the word brussen; it’s a word that doesn’t move far outside Barnsley, as though once it vacated these tight streets it would start gasping for air. Brussen is a word that has a very specific meaning but which needs several other words and phrases to explain its meaning, which is of course what makes it a superb word. The words that almost describe it are: grumpy/aggressive/macho/full of bravado/itching for a fight/possessed of a mistaken sense of superiority. You’ll see by the way that my explanations of brussen get more, well, wordy, that brussen is the perfect word for what it is.” • Yes, that’s a good word.

HTML people, look at the horrid coding:

“Lies About the Humanities — and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them” [The Chronicle of Higher Education]. “A routine complaint I field from armchair epistemologists is “humanities research isn’t falsifiable,” to which the appropriate reply is: Many of the most important questions we face as a species aren’t falsifiable. Can there be just warfare? Is the death penalty moral? Did the president behave ethically? Should we fund art museums or malaria-fighting mosquito nets, and in what proportions? Is Don Quixote a madman because he expects the world around him to look more like chivalric romance, or a visionary for trying to reshape the world around him into a more just world? When you malign and misrepresent what scholars do, you’re punishing students.
To the extent that scientific fact can contribute to, but not resolve, problems like these, the claim that mainstream humanities work is an attempt to contravene scientific fact for ideological purposes falls flat on its face.” • Hard to see where narrative expertise will come from, if not the humanities, except for MBAs, stock touts, “journalists” (granted, some undeserving of shudderquotes), and squillionaries with crazypants ideas funding think tanks.

* * *

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 (TH):

TH writes: “I love early morning and the silver lining of backlit flowers. (I believe those red tubular flowers there are Chuparosa and that’s a female house sparrow perched in there.” Backlighting is hard!

* * *

Readers: Water Cooler is a standalone entity not covered by the annual NC fundraiser, now completed. So do feel free to make a contribution today or any day. Here is why: Regular positive feedback both makes me feel good and lets me know I’m on the right track with coverage. When I get no donations for five or ten days I get worried. More tangibly, a constant trickle of small donations helps me with expenses, and I factor that trickle in when setting fundraising goals. So if you see something you especially appreciate, do feel free to click below! (The hat is temporarily defunct, so I slapped in some old code.)

Or Subscribe to make a monthly payment!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Water Cooler on by .

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. No Nym

    Lots and lots of increasing noise against index funds. Must be a group of high rollers upset at the low fees, killing their business model.

    1. Nik

      “The trained professionals working for active managers identify the Amazons of the world and drive their stocks higher.”

      I laughed pretty hard here. If active managers were really able to identify the Amazons of the world they’d have the long-run market beating returns to prove it.

    2. Another Scott

      The governance issue around index funds is a problem that they face, but that wasn’t touched upon in this article. As someone who invests in them, I’m concerned with how they handle their voting. They seem to reluctant to rock the boat or vote against management, which often (usually?) as different interests than small-scale investors like myself. This is especially problematic when a “activist” shareholder somehow gets a board seat and his policies implement holding only 1% or 2% of stock compared to the larger amounts owned through index funds.

  2. diptherio

    It happens in Canada too:
    Election 2019: Liberals to target Indigenous voters with ‘you want the Conservatives back?

    The next federal election is still over ten months away, but the Liberals are already focusing their message to Indigenous voters.

    It’s a message that will have a bold take-it-or-leave-it flare, according to documents obtained by Walking Eagle News.

    “You want the Conservatives back? Because they could come back,” reads one draft campaign speech. “Sure, we haven’t done much of what we promised but remember how bad it was when they were [in] charge?”

    1. Situation Normal

      It’s probably worth noting that this article is satire but the Liberals, like the Democrats, do take for granted that people will vote for them merely for being less terrible than the Conservatives and having better electoral prospects than the NDP and the Green Party. Of course, the latter is largely an artefact of our first-past-the-post electoral system.

  3. Samuel Conner

    re: “Why Trump’s trade war is pushing China to become smarter and stronger, faster”

    At least from the quoted extract, the author seems to think that it’s a good idea for China to follow the US 1950s-60s route of focussing on military technology (to which Seymour Melman [“After Capitalism”, which I learned about here at NC] attributes the decline of the US industrial base — we stopped being world leaders in making the machines you need to make other machines)

    I’m not confident that he’s right.

    1. hemeantwell

      You’re right. I think the writer misses the point that in the US funding military R&D was a way to get the right to support R&D, period. I don’t think that Chinese politics requires that ideological excuse. Pro-military types there might use the argument that military R&D produces spin-offs, but why not go directly for non-military needs?

      1. barefoot charley

        In the Bay Area still in the 1980s, the crackerjack grad students in sciences were DARPA-funded. This made them embarrassing to smoke pot with, because they’d seemed so groovy. Can you say ‘hippie-crit?’ Don’t! They remembered how, before everything was military, everything had been NASA, and we could all recite the civilian goodies created by and for the space race–Transistors! Solar panels! Tang! Because the military has magic MMT money they can and do fund the kind of work that once upon a time came out of corporate research labs like Bell Telephone’s, Xerox’s, GE’s etc. Oddly, even private research didn’t used to be very proprietary (eg Apple’s GUI interface came straight from Xerox and was immediately imi-stolen by Microsoft), and now that more research than ever is government-funded, it’s more private than ever. Way to decline, empire!

        1. barefoot charley

          And to be fair, without war money funding artificial intelligence and computational research, for example, we’d have no telephones talking back to you, no compu-warehouses for every communication everyone’s ever made, no Google, no Amazon, not much Silicon Valley–what kind of world would that be!

          1. human

            This is a false truism. Public research is not and need not be entirely funded from Defense appropriations.

          2. JCC

            War money funding had little or nothing to do with anything above mentioned.

            Ethernet, the physical basis of most networks, particularly “last mile” networks? – PARC owned by Xerox

            GUI based Operating Systems? – again, PARC

            As far as I know, neither Alexander Graham Bell or Antonio Meucci worked for the military.

            Bell Labs (the telephone company) was the source of the transistor (Schockley, and before him in 1925, Lillienfeld) early computers and a few key programming languages, C among others.

            Tim Berners-Lee, while working at CERN, designed (invented?) the first http servers and the first browsers (without which Amazon and Google would not exist). CERN is first and foremost a pure science research center funded primarily by 21 separate, mainly European, countries, and according to CERN, “The Organization shall have no concern with work for military requirements and the results of its experimental and theoretical work shall be published or otherwise made generally available.”

            The basis for either Google’s or Amazon’s infrastructure was not invented by the military (although admittedly they dump a ton of money into these outfits today).

            Of course our Defense Dept played a part in some of the above, but more in the standardization of methods than actual funding. They only funded military uses after the fact. They were not key in any of it. In fact the basis/beginnings of the roots of most of the above were put together long before the Pentagon existed (phones and field effect transistors, for example).

            The core driver in the history of all these inventions were commercial drivers and general scientific research, not military drivers.

            1. Briny

              Sorry, you can state that the invention of any particular technology was initially in civilian commercial and educational institutions and I would agree. Where we part company comes down to which entities drove the application (engineering) end of that technology. The driver there was military. Having worked in a round dozen fields of engineering in the military, coming from multi-generational military on both family trees, all engineering oriented, I think I have a solid clue. That’s aside from working on devices dating back to the 1930’s and memorizing their manuals as my idea of recreational reading. [I’m weird. I know it.]

              Science comes from saying: “That’s odd.” The engineering comes from: “How can I better kill with it.” Things may look consumer driven over the last few decades. You go off and see who did what and when in the history of engineering and you see the real truth.

              1. KPC

                Agreed in part.

                Engineering is not somehow limited to that used for military purposes albeit it certainly is a part of it.

                So, your statement is critically half of truth.

                The truth is we do not NEED the military to innovate the application of technology. With this understanding, we can then remove military from the entire equation.

                This does not mean we remove defensive harsh security but it shifts how we administer this great world and our human culture. Indeed, this is the long historical norm. Offensive military is very new and a part of the problem. This is NOT tycpial.

                I believe Jerry Lyn referenced an discussion of this issue in Costa Rica earlier? I am Costa Rica. We are working so very hard to move this forward. Just a few weeks ago, our vice president was in New York at the UN concering these very issues.

                Could you please help us in this activity?

    2. Wukchumni

      China’s imports of U.S. Oil & LNG have plummeted to near nadir compared to last year…

      Yeah, the Chinese are becoming smarter, stronger & faster…

    3. JTMcPhee

      All the pressures on Russia appear to have resulted in increased autarkic strength for that country, which I read is now pretty much self-sufficient in food, and lots of other stuff that mopes need to live and that supports resilience and continuation of the polity. So maybe China (that vast complexity) will (barring climate or other catastrophe) tighten its collective belt and go down the same road?

      Not much chance that I can see that the US empire could devolve back to some point closer to autarky or even good old Yankee self-reliance. Would like to be wrong. And of course our neo-neo rulers would likely see the rest of the world (and us imperial subjects) burn before allowing Russia and China to get off the Great Game merry-go-round.

      1. KPC

        Stone cold correct on Russia and China and a few others. I would imagine they are a little further along now than you say but your point is correct.

        As for USA? Can we please help them achieve the same level of independence in their food and other matters including health care? Can we help them stop the violence internally? I find this side to be such a great conflict within me and my family and our colleagues and clients.

        I think if you look about a bit, you will see that China and Russia and a few others are explicitly and actively engaged in helping Americans restore their productive economy? You do see this, yes?

        I find it be beyond heroic on their part. I find it to be saintly, if you will. I just wish Americans could see this and then graciously accept moving on to a greater and better life for all.

        But all people deserve a decent life, do they not? We need to help those of USA begin to understand the true quality of life and how they can achieve this on their own and not dependent on others and without violence?

        How can we do this? I am not sure I can do this anymore which pains me to my very soul. I am so angry. I was hurt physically. More than a couple of my family were hurt physically including to the ultimate… . I cannot find it within me to not forgive but restore… . Some seriously great Americans were pulled apart in this very process, some clients. Most have now left. But a few remain. All of us continue to work long hard hours, some here, some there… . Some in their 90s. Some teenagers as well.

        Again, thank you. You give me hope.

  4. Off The Street

    Gillettes jaunes, a new entry for the Bezzle? Think of the co-branding opportunities, including the trendy guillotinette! All the cool kids are getting ’em.

  5. Annieb

    Re: class struggles in France
    Paramilitary forces in Bresse France got all bent out of shape at an insult by a wheelchair bound protestor and dumped him on the ground. Classy! Fortunately the guy didn’t appear injured and other protesters helped him back into his chair. Can’t post the link but it’s at zerohedge and other sites

    Also, I was watching a livestream by Wearechange on YouTube and he reported that he was in a very large group of protesters that were kettled in a square. The police were throwing down tear gas from the roofs. No one could escape as they were surrounded by police forces at all the side street entrances.

    WTG Macron! That will diffuse the anger for sure. (Sarcasm)

    1. Craig H.

      spiegel’s article is pretty good

      Macron’s Ghosts Return To Haunt Him

      This is in a small town 250 miles from Paris where the protesters and the cops know each other:

      On the evening of Dec. 1, 150 angry people pushed their way to the prefecture. Rousset watched as they broke windows with heavy rocks. Molotov cocktails flew into the yard. Tractors were used to transport tires that were then set on fire. In one wing of the building, offices went up in flames. “We will grill you like chickens!” the protesters yelled. When his police officers tried to push them back, rioters poured flammable acetone on them. One of the demonstrators split open a helmet with a rock.

  6. Summer

    Re: “Why Trump’s trade war is pushing China to become smarter and stronger, faster..”

    Wowsers. Tell us what you really think about the Chinese.
    It’s a lot like that kind of “yellow peril” hysteria that marked previous centuries, but disguised.

    1. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      It mentions 2030 instead of 2025.

      I believe it takes time to build a solid base and don’t see why it is 2025 for China. It could be 2040, 2050, or however long to work differences with their trade partners.

  7. ChrisAtRU


    “2016 was the debate schedule; 2020 will be the primary calendar. Never change, Democrats. Never change.”

    Fascinating. Less confident about a “southern firewall” this time? In a way, this belies the assertion made at times (by yours truly included) that the Democrats have learned nothing, or that they are incapable of learning anything. Their instinct for self preservation at the very least provides some twisted incentive to change, doesn’t it? It’s the same philosophy, though – load up the early delegate counts for the chosen establishment candidate.

    Remains to be seen what the Democrat’s umpteen ring circus will yield when the time comes, however. I just had a gander at the delegate counts from last primary at RealClearPolitics. I’m chuckling at what could come to pass with a crowded Dem field. I can’t see Bernie voters from 2016 going for Harris or Beto, so I’m calling the CA 2020 delegates (475) thus:
    Bernie 207
    Harris 139
    Beto 129

    #ReadEmAndWeep #BernieWouldHaveWon ;-)

  8. Wukchumni

    What sense does it make to connect a white homeless man asleep in a shop doorway with a white super-rich investment banker? Are these two individuals who share nothing more than a similar skin pigmentation really bonded together in cultural and political solidarity?

    In one way, the Yin & Yang 1%’ers are similar, both are untouchables as far as law enforcement is concerned.

    There’s no win in arresting the homeless, all they do is clog up the jails, with no expectation of recompense in the way of fines being levied.

  9. clarky90

    Re; “But trade will be fairer. Trump’s demands hurt now, but, in the long term, he is doing China a favour by making it stronger.”

    No matter what POTUS does, “It’s (he’s) wrong!” Tails, We win, Heads, Trump loses., opine the erudite pontificators.

    It reminds me of the legendary, horrific parent. No matter what their child achieves, it is not good (fast, smart, innovative, beautiful, thin, clever….) enough. Bad news for the poor kid’s psyche…

    Or the twisted old man/woman, who spends their sun-set days, criticizing everybody; every little thing. “Please, Constant Moaner, would you just shut up about him/her/that for a while! I yearn for some relief, from your withering, high pitched whining.”

    I have noticed an absence of USA foreign wars. No flag-draped coffins returning in military transports. Fighting is winding down in Yemen….. The sun also rises.

  10. Linden S.

    RE “Pakistan Makes Pledge To Plant 10 Billion Trees In 5 Years” and the scale of possible carbon drawdown by trees. Here is a way of framing it,

    From Table 2 on pg. 12 of the EASAC Negative Emission Technologies report, re-forestation and af-forestation have an estimated potential of removing about 1.1-3.3 gigatonnes of carbon from the atmosphere a year. Link to report: https://easac.eu/fileadmin/PDF_s/reports_statements/Negative_Carbon/EASAC_Report_on_Negative_Emission_Technologies.pdf

    From the Global Carbon Report 2018, the last few years human economic activity has emitted over 40 gigatonnes of CO2 a year. Link: http://folk.uio.no/roberan/GCB2018.shtml, slide 68. Converting gigatonnes of CO2 to gigatonnes of carbon, divide by 3.67 to get that we are emitting about 11 gigatonnes of carbon a year, about half of which stays in the atmosphere.

    Therefore the *theoretical upper end potential of planting trees is less than one third of the amount we are emitting every year.* 11 gigatonnes a year compared to (at best) 3.3 gigatonnes a year. Therefore matching even the last 5 years of emissions would require *at least* 15 years of forest planting, and every year we fail to stop emissions we add another 3 years of perfectly optimal forest planting + regrowing.

    The (understandably attractive) and naive forest-planting view has a lot of weaknesses that I am sure people have seen through, but I don’t see discussed enough. This list could be much longer I am sure..

    1. Planting trees is super hard. Anyone who has done this knows you have to water them, keep deer + browsers away, hope there are no crippling diseases or pests, etc. You don’t just plant a tree and let it go if you want to have a high chance of success.

    2. One of the most important and less-discussed aspects of climate change is the enormous shifts in habitability due to changing temperatures and hydrological cycles. What trees will even be able to grow in a certain location 30 or 100 years in the future? Likely fewer than used to be able to grow there in the past..

    3. Af-forestation (planting forests where they didn’t used to be) is very different from re-forestation (replanting lost forests). Af-forestation has the potential to be very damaging to local biodiversity and ecosystems, while re-forestation done well should be enormously beneficial.

    All of this not to say we shouldn’t be aggressively re-planting lost forests, but we should realize that we should be doing it alongside stopping our emissions ASAP.

    1. Wukchumni

      Anybody have any idea of how the 2 billion trees planted by the CCC in the 30’s-40’s, are faring since arbor day?

    2. Synoia

      The new forests in Britain are generally lifeless, because they are conifer forests.

      Deciduous forests take too long to turn a profit.

      So much for the guiding hand of the market..

      1. Linden S.

        I was just thinking of the lifelessness of pine plantations after I clicked “reply.” There will be huge tensions between “carbon farmers” and environmentalists of many stripes when people starting paying for carbon drawdown in earnest. You are exactly right, there are huge differences between planting the diverse forests that foster local biodiversity and planting forests that draw CO2 out of the atmosphere as quickly as possible.

        1. Eureka Springs

          I have friends with multi thousand acre tracts of river bottom land near where the Arkansas and Mississippi Rivers meet. They are on a government lease/management program that sounds like it is straight out of Al Gores playbook. Involving planting cyprus and many other indigenous hardwoods where soy, rice and wheat had been for decades. It’s a 100 year deal. Twenty plus years into it I am amazed at the growth, the canopy, the wildlife. One of the few positive turns I can think of in decades of observing big ag/government.

          In my youth I spent two long winter seasons hand planting pine trees for the big corps. Somewhere near three quarters of a million trees myself. We recently figured out they have all been harvested by now.

      2. Wukchumni

        Planted forests grow pretty quick in NZ from what i’ve seen of them. There’s a few hundred Giant Sequoia trees scattered around the country, and being in a rain forest they grow one heck of a lot quicker than in their natural environment here.

        This one in the Christchurch botanic garden was planted by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1869, and a similar 150 year old tree here would have a trunk 1/4 as wide, and the lowest branches would be about 30 feet above the ground, as the Brobdingnagians learned to avoid fire eons ago in the Sierra by doing that.

        This tree obviously doesn’t play by the same rules!


        1. Lee

          We drove mile after mile in Borneo from one wildlife preserve to another with nothing but oil palm plantations as far as the eye could see. Our guide, when asked if any native wildlife could be found therein, he laughed and said “Cobras! Lots of cobras.”

          1. Wukchumni

            I had this idea for “Treehenge” in NZ.

            Somewhere far from anywhere in the South Island, plant a circle of 24 Sequoias, each about 30 feet apart (it’s gonna big one heck of a circle!) and let em’ do their thing.

            If a Sequoia can grow 4x as quick there, you’d might have the largest trees in the world in say 1,000-1,500 years.

            1. Conrad

              Eastwoodhill arboretum near Gisborne has a tree cathedral underway which features redwoods. The first effort there based using eucalyptus is pretty awesome.

            1. Lee

              Rodents, lizards, other snakes, birds and their eggs. They are also protective of their own egg nests, which makes them particularly dangerous to any other critters they don’t hunt for food.

          2. Octopii

            Same scenery in Honduras in ‘05. Endless perfectly straight rows of oil palms, from the road and from the air. It’s nature perverted.

      3. Lee

        Yes, the market’s invisible hand goes place it shouldn’t.

        In the 1850s, Eucalyptus trees were introduced to California by Australians during the California Gold Rush. Much of California has a similar climate to parts of Australia. By the early 1900s, thousands of acres of eucalypts were planted with the encouragement of the state government. It was hoped that they would provide a renewable source of timber for construction, furniture making and railroad ties. It was soon found that for the latter purpose eucalyptus was particularly unsuitable, as the ties made from eucalyptus had a tendency to twist while drying, and the dried ties were so tough that it was nearly impossible to hammer rail spikes into them…..

        Eucalyptus plantations in California have been criticised, because they compete with native plants and do not support native animals. Fire is also a problem. The 1991 Oakland Hills firestorm, which destroyed almost 3,000 homes and killed 25 people, was partly fuelled by large numbers of eucalypts close to the houses.[51]

        1. rd

          If the stores are full of an oil from a type of plant, you generally don;t want to be within 100 miles of it during a wildfire.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Now there is a public works program for California. Start eradicating Eucalyptus trees and replacing them with the natives that were there before – not trees mean for eventual harvest. It would remove an extravagant bushfire hazard and encourage wildlife that evolved in the forests that were present before those trees were replaced by eucalyptus trees.

          1. Wukchumni

            Eucalyptus (the Pigpen of trees) here is usually grown as either a wind break, or as a giant blocking wall. It’s very efficient in both regards, not that there’s anything right with that.

            SR 99 is loaded with them alongside the road, but only here and there, not continual.

      4. Oregoncharles

        Much depends on place. The native forests here in the PNW are predominantly conifers, and they’re full of life. The squirrels here eat Douglas Fir seeds, when they can’t get hazelnuts. And there are all sorts of interpolated broadleaves and brush, often with berries. The real problem in Britain may be that the conifers aren’t native.

        OTOH, on my own place I plant mostly deciduous trees, because I can get more from them and they don’t get so gigantic so quickly. There are a couple of enormous black walnuts, though, that far predate me.

        And we do have horrible examples: Christmas tree plantations. They’re vast, mostly using native trees and kept mowed. But they’re harvested before they have cones. Worse are the abandoned ones: too thick to allow any undergrowth. They are storing carbon, I suppose, but probably in a very temporary way.

        1. Linden S.

          We had a huge black walnut behind a place we rented during grad school. It shaded the whole house and on windy late summer days a rain of fruits would pelt the roof. It was an incredible tree.

    3. paul

      Re 1: What a beautiful opportunity for a thoughtful job guarantee scheme, make life,not make work. Buckminster Fuller, in the temper of his times, declared a problem is just a solution with its clothes on.

      1. Linden S.

        That is a great framing. You could add a whole host of other jobs as well. Restoration of wetlands, grasslands, and riparian zones. Remediation of polluted places. Re-introduction of endangered species. All things that are decades-long projects.

      2. clarky90

        One Billion Trees Programme

        “The NZ Coalition Government has set a goal to plant one billion trees by 2028. The One Billion Trees Programme will deliver improved social, environmental, and economic outcomes for New Zealand.”


        The gov’t has the funding and the planting is happening. The project was proposed and progressed by the “NZ First” party, the populist member of our coalition gov’t.

  11. rd

    Re: Establishment looks to crush liberal on Medicare-for-all

    An interesting column today that effectively outlines how the Republicans could get to the left of the Democratic establishment on health care by following conservative concepts:

    It would require figuring out how to get the health care system to actually function as something like an actual free market within a regulated environment instead of an oligoply controlling all pricing power as it currently operates. I see heads exploding all over Congress as they figure out how to pretend they are addressing this while not pondering it at all.

    Kind of like Richard Nixon signing the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and creating the USEPA.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It would require figuring out how to get the health care system to actually function as something like an actual free market

      I’m not sure this can be done with an enormous lemon market like health care. We’d end up optimizing only for services that can be priced; drunks looking for the keys under the lamp post. This erases, and not accidentally, entire disciplines like social determinants of health; also epigenetics.

  12. Wukchumni

    “At minimum, Kamala Harris should’ve known key staff member was accused of harassment” [Sacramento Bee]. “The Sacramento Bee broke the story Wednesday that one of Harris’ longtime aides, Larry Wallace, had been accused of gender harassment and other demeaning behavior by his former executive assistant, Danielle Hartley, who sued the state Department of Justice on Dec. 30, 2016, just before Harris assumed her current office…. Wallace resigned last Wednesday. Harris on Thursday said she wasn’t aware of the allegations against him.

    Mr Kudlow added that Mr Trump was unaware of the plan to arrest Ms Meng in Canada while sitting across the dinner table from China’s president Ji Xinping at the Group of 20 meeting in Buenos Aires, where they hammered out their deal.”

    “I know nothing, nothing-g-g-!”

    Sergeant Schultz

  13. Synoia

    Brussen: The words that almost describe it are: grumpy/aggressive/macho/full of bravado/itching for a fight/possessed of a mistaken sense of superiority.

    Oh I get it. Trump didn’t have Collusion with Russians, he had collusion with Brussians like him self.

    Can we now refer to him as President Brussian?

  14. Summer

    Re: Hard to see where narrative expertise will come from, if not the humanities, except for MBAs, stock touts, “journalists” (granted, some undeserving of shudderquotes), and squillionaries with crazypants ideas funding think tanks.”

    The goal is to convince people AI can think fir them.

  15. pjay

    William Blum died yesterday. In a just world he would be honored in week-long media memorials, instead of the warmongers we deify instead. I know many here are familiar with his work. In my opinion it is all worthwhile, but his Killing Hope is required reading for anyone who wants to begin waking up. Hard to take the clowns noted in Water Cooler seriously today (no offense to Lambert; that’s what we’re stuck with).

    Here’s a good obit:


    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Thanks, that’s a good obit:

      In 1999, he was a recipient of Project Censored’s awards for “exemplary journalism” for writing one of the top ten censored stories of 1998–an article on how, in the 1980s, the United States gave Iraq the material to develop a chemical and biological warfare capability.

      Wait, what? Didn’t we invade Iraq… Oh, never mind.

      Yes, clownage is a bit thick on the ground just now….

  16. Carolinian

    Think I have to disagree about the importance of “business-speak” when if comes to influencing ordinary people (as opposed to Ted talk transfixed elites). One reason for the cult status of Mike Judge’s Office Space is the way it mocks the English as a second language pronouncements of management. Poor Jennifer Anniston has to worry about cheap tipping restaurant customers as well as how many “pieces of flair” she is wearing.

    Judge went on to attack the techobabbling elites more directly in Silicon Valley where the chief villain treats his employees as disposable parts when not literally sucking their blood (the “blood boy”). This obfuscatory language really just serves to allow the overclass–in their minds–to further lord it over the peasants. One doubts the peasants are very impressed.

  17. Tomonthebeach

    Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism

    What I find valuable about Paxton’s book is that it explains a lot of Trump’s public and political behavior, especially the regular dumping on and of his staff as well as the lies told allies and enemies. Although this behavior seems chaotic to most of us, it appears that it is par for the course for fascists.

    To complement my perspective of Trumpism, I found Nicole Aschoff’s article in Jacobin this month helped me see what all the fuss about globalism has to do with Alt-right conspiracy nuts. I also found her highlighting the ethos of neoliberal capitalism to be insightful. She laments “its core ethos of faith in private enterprise, ever-expanding commodification, and bootstrap individualism remains robust.” as she makes a case for the decline of an economic philosophy that is inherently both destructive and self-destructive. Now if somebody will just wise up all those MAGA-hatted people. :-).

    1. Summer

      And defining it won’t stop people from doubling down on it.
      I predict, in addition to the usual neo-Nazi suspects, you’ll get neoliberals embracing and promoting it soon – calling it by its name.
      They’ll call it a “diverse fascism.”

      1. Carolinian

        They’ll call it a “diverse fascism.”

        Indeed! Since the abuse of language get discussed up in the Cooler here’s proposing the “f” word may be a prime example. It is true that some of us see authoritarian tendencies coming from the Hillaryites (hey, there’s a poll) as well as the right. But these historical analogies bring to mind the old saw about armies always fighting the last war–something both the “left” and the Churchill worshiping right have been doing for some time now. Trump is not Hitler nor is Hillary (probably!).

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          Trump is not Hitler, I agree, but I can also see the view that the entire political class has been sliding toward today’s mutation of fascism since at least 9/11. The continuities between administrations are more important than the differences…

          1. KPC

            Please use great care here.

            The issue is a culture of evil which is a human issue. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.

            Please invest some time in Dra. Hannah Arendt’s work. Her work in English discussing the Eichmann trial for the New Yorker is helpful. She is sufficiently contemporary in that there are youtube discussions and interviews of her. I encourage you to watch them.

            This film of Arendt’s work including the Eichmann matter is astoundingly well done. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_Arendt_(film) . There are two out there. This is excellent the other is dreadful. As I recall, this one is spoken in five languages but there are subtitles.

            In this area, the real issue is evil. I find this difficult to discuss in English often lapsing into German, sometimes Spanish or French or often Latin. Language is restrictive. English itself is a problem in this area.

            In any event, what I read here on this web site in this very area I find intensely worrisome especially because most here are sort of well informed. We have a massive education problem in this area and elsewhere. Other areas to study is perhaps Dan Brown’s “Origins” which is published in several if not many languages.

            There are some new books which I think are great. One is “Everless” and, I am told on 22 December “Evermore”.

            Some of JRR Tolkien’s work goes directly to this but is very often very badly understood or worse than misunderstood.

            I cannot remember but there is another series of novels which are very helpful in understanding this for western people of the Abrahamic traditions such as a large slice of North Americans.

            But your comments here just above are way off balance and going right where there is “wrong”… .

            Generally, I will not engage on this topic in this kind of forum. I have had to deal with this. But we need to stop the direction of this discussion now and get on the right track now. The very use of the N party word is an essential problem which you all engage. That is exactly NOT the issue.

            1. KPC

              You also need to strike the word “fascism” from your vocabulary now most especially in the above context.

              When I see this word used, especially in this context, it uniformly screams a massive lack of education and worse on the part of the person using it.

              You have no idea what you talking about and this is a part of this problem.

              1. pjay

                “The issue is a culture of evil which is a human issue. Period. Nothing more, nothing less.”

                I sense that you are making an important point, but I’m not quite sure what the point is. Yes, people throw around the ‘F’ word way too often today. And in my view Trump is too shallow and narcissistic to be considered a “real live fascist.” But your last sentence is a little too condescending. Certainly there is a “culture of evil” behind a lot of what is going on today behind the media circus. If you do not recognize this then you are the one who does not know what they are talking about.

                I guess I need a little more elaboration (and yes, I am very familiar with Arendt’s work).

              2. Carolinian

                If you believe in “evil” then you must believe in the Devil. There is behavior–much of it very bad. But our value judgments don’t have to embrace supernatural origins to be valid.

                In my opinion of course.

                And up page I’ll just say that I think Fascist has been shorn of much of its meaning over the years and has become an all purpose epithet.

    2. dcblogger

      I was struck by the description of how eagerly the industrial elites collaborated with fascism even while the pretended to be disgusted by it. reminds me how how Amazon, Microsoft, et al, have collaborated with ICE.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > reminds me how how Amazon, Microsoft, et al, have collaborated with ICE.

        Or, to sharpen the point just a bit, with Trump. Being able to surmount feelings of disgust is, no doubt, highly adaptive for the policy makers and executives of today.

  18. Lee

    The Race to Understand Antarctica’s Most Terrifying Glacier” [Wired].
    ….Already, Thwaites’ losses were responsible for about 4 percent of global sea-level rise every year. When the entire glacier went, the seas would likely rise by a few feet; when the glaciers around it did, too, the seas might rise by more than a dozen feet.

    I’ve been feeling pretty good about being 32 feet above sea level on our island city in San Francisco bay. But I had not taken into account the rise of the water table and soil type, which I just checked out. I am rather less sanguine than I was. :o/

    1. rd

      At 32 feet, you have quite a while, especially since San Francisco Bay generally doesn’t get hit by serious storm surges.

      “I don’t think the insurance market has priced this in.” – I don’t think it is the insurance industry that will take the hit as the insurance industry does a pretty good job staying out of flood insurance which is why so much flood insurance is government provided. I think the markets that have not priced this in are the mortgage and real estate markets. Underwater land does not have anywhere near the value of above water land. Real estate owners in many low-lying cities around the word are basically playing a musical chairs game relying greater fools as time goes on. It is like being in the late stage stock market on margin – a lot of money can be made or lost depending on whether or not you can time it right.

      1. Duck1

        San Francisco used to have what were called water lots, which were located in the tide lands and had speculative value if landfill arrived. I have a map from the 20’s that indicates how gnarly the place might have been had there been more fill, loads of ghost streets that never materialized.

      2. JBird4049

        Actually, the Sacramento Delta is somewhere I would not want to live long term. Between sea rise, possible mass flooding due to rainstorms, and earthquakes more than a little of the earthen levees might fail.

      1. Lee

        The CA Lost Coast area is interesting. As is Gardiner MT. But chances are I’ll end up where I am, barring a rupture along the Hayward fault, which is overdue.

        The 140th anniversary of the 1868 event was in 2008, and the average time between the last five major events is also averaged at 140 years. Recent estimates of the damage potential of a major Hayward Fault earthquake by a professional risk management firm indicate the potential for huge economic losses [, of which only a small percentage is insured against earth movement.[19] (Earthquake insurance is not only quite expensive, it tends to be burdened with large deductibles – at least 15 percent.

        More than 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars in property exists in the affected area, and more than 165 billion US dollars in damage would likely result if the 1868 earthquake were to reoccur. Since the fault runs through heavily populated areas, more than 5 million would be affected directly. Water could be cut off to 2.4 million people living in California’s San Francisco Bay Area.[17]

        There are lot of multi-story houses here, mostly built in the 1880s, that survived the 1906 quake on the San Andreas fault. My house was built in 1908. Like the older homes it is wood frame and they do comparatively well in quakes….knock on wood.

        1. Wukchumni

          A rerun of the 1868 temblor would probably destroy the California Delta, the main conveyance of water from big northern reservoirs in the state to the south, and there’d be one heck of a scramble down there for H20.

          Read all about it in Marc Reisner’s: A Dangerous Place-California’s Unsettling Fate.

          He was the author of Cadillac Desert, the opus on water in the west.

          1. KPC

            I find this to be a very serious issue which goes way beyond mere who “insures”.

            Insurance in no way replaces a loss of productive capital nor can it ever vaguely compensate for the loss of human life.

            So, what are you people doing to migitate or fix this? What do you propose to do to actually fix this mess? Just insure it and walk away for someone else to handle?

            So you move up the mountain, eh?

            Is there not at least one of those n power plants sort of like Japan on your flood plain as in nearly in the Pacific now which is a tad on the old side? What about this problem? Ya got any solutions for your friends and neighbors or are you just going to move up the mountain?

            Seriously and I mean this respectfully. I do not want you to get hurt or worse.

            Even read Arnie Gunderson’s work on this subject and then consider what you could actually do personally to help fix this mess so ya don’t loose your flipping house or have to file and insurance claim to a then insolvent insurance company or treasury?

            Just some suggestions.

            1. Wukchumni

              Everybody has a choice of where they want to live, and most seldom stray far from where they were raised, it’s comfort food for them, usually because of social obligations.

              If you think about what’s coming, you can figure out the perfect place to be, as climate change manifests itself.

              I feel i’m in one of the best places in the state, and it’s not exclusive, a home here sells for about 1/4 of what a similar home in SF would fetch.

              We have one of the oldest hydroelectric generating plants in the state, and there is no commercial industry whatsoever above us in the mountains, and we’re surrounded by nature. The idea that we enjoy hiking in the best National Park for such pursuits in the country, comes as an added bonus.

              Oh, and water?

              We’ve got more than you can shake a stick at.

  19. DJG

    A second and equally troubling interpretation is that Harris isn’t a terribly good manager, and that her staff was insulating her from information critical to the performance of her duties.

    So it turns out that Harris isn’t the female Obama. She’s just Hillary 2.0. Frankly, I don’t see how Harris’s campaign gets past Willie Brown and Mnuchin, let alone indifference to managing her office. But as Hillary 2.0, Harris doesn’t seem to get that her behavior, if judged by “male” standards, is a non-starter. It appears that people are coming more quickly to the realization that Beto has no record to run on–the double standard sometimes cuts more than one way, and Harris shouldn’t assume that she is going to be a beneficiary. I recall Carol Mosely Braun here in Illinois who had a brilliant start and ended up in “insulation,” money troubles, and Kgosie Matthews, her own personal Willie Brown.

    1. KPC

      OK, Lee. I generally agree.

      Now, you tell me what you and I should do personally and individually to help fix this mess?

      I am very serious. We actively engage in this very area of innovation and development of seriously new and traditional technology to do exactly this activity literally physically in this buildings of this law, accounting, diplomatica firm.

      So, give me some ideas.

      1. Lee

        I’m not sure if I understand you correctly. You say you engage in both new and old technology to reduce the carbon footprint of your building, and seem to take offense at my jibe at attempts to reinvent the tree.

        I am less a tech skeptic than I am skeptical of tech hype. Of course we should apply all reasonable and feasible means, both old and new to address our problems. It sounds like you are doing what you can. Being of a certain age and state of health, I’m limited to cultivating native plants in my yard and making modest donations here and there.

        On a broader front, workforce participation, in spite of low official unemployment rate, is still only 62.9%. Think of all the tree planting, research, and other needed improvements that could be done now but that are not being done for lack of profit driven capital and so stop the wasting of these valuable human resources. Innovative trends as they age reach a point of diminishing returns when they become more sizzle than steak.

  20. DJG

    Establishment looks to crush liberals on Medicare for All

    Interesting article for all of the Obama people and Clinton people. I think that we have all come to appreciate by now that the scandal of the “scandal-free” Obama administration was (1) a culture of impunity for the highly placed (Eric Holder division), (2) lack of probity (dare we forget Rahm, William Daley as chief of staff, Plouffe and Uber?), and a carefully calibrated revolving door (which so many of those named here represent). So the continuing, thorough scandal was business as usual at a time when we had been launched into an environmental crisis that may be barely controllable, a crisis of forty to fifty years of redistribution of wealth upward, and a crisis caused by the detachment of these people from any sense that work has value and that individuals must have meaningful work (because not everyone gets a six-figure book advance).

  21. Steve H.

    > Keywords

    Went to Amazon to try to find the full list. Book listed #1, #2 AND #10 best sellers on “Globalization & Politics.”

    Anyway, here’s the list, with links.

      1. Eclair

        Noticed that his list has one of my favorite words: curate.

        I have taken to screaming and throwing things when I hear or see it. Especially when something is described as ‘thoughtfully curated.’

  22. Sub-Boreal

    I’ve been a big fan of Leary’s “Keywords for the Age of Austerity” blog, so thanks for noting his new book.

    I’m not sure if he ever acknowledges any influence, but his work seems to be in the tradition of Uwe Poerksen’s (1995) little gem, “Plastic Words”. Alas, it seems to be out of print now. But there’s an extended interview with him from the CBC Ideas series, archived at the website of its former producer, davidcayley.com

    1. KPC

      Allow me to save you US$270, give or take, and explain this austerity thing to you all.

      Money? Naw. MMT can print to the end of time but Mam Gaia’s currency will bring new meaning to imposed austerity.

      Ever think about this? You could have Bill Gates entire net worth and in money no less but if there ain’t no tomatos to eat, ya gonna eat the money? Seriously and respectfully to Bill, Melinda and you all.

      So, any ideas on how to limit Mam and her austerity measures, in whole or part. What currency do we use? Just aksin’. We do R&D on this very issue here in the firm. So, I am wide open to ideas not to limit austerity. No way. I want abundance in the quality of my life and the lives of those we serve not to mention my family and few friends. We think, and have good reason to do so, this is achievable.

      So, your ideas? Your creative thinking on this issue?

      Ya need to fix this mess. So, I am wide open to creative and productive thought on this one.

  23. dcblogger

    2019 will supply plenty of opportunity for internal Democratic proxy wars. First of all there will be the party reorganizations in January where it might be possible for Bernie people to take control of their local party committees outright. Sure the establishment will attempt to rig that, but as a veteran of these fights, there is a limit to how much you can do that. Second, there will be the assorted nomination fights for all the offices up for election in 2019. In Kentucky that will be Governor and other statewide offices. In NJ and Virginia it will be the state legislature and municipal offices. In NY, CT and other states it will be municipal offices. So lets see how Our Revolution candidates do in 2019.

  24. John Buell

    Re:Madison on government

    How about a mid twentieth century perspective on democracy. Reinhold Niebuhr, The Children of Light and the Children of Darkness: Man’s capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man’s inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I don’t think Niebuhr has Madison’s stature — or his deep contradictions.*

      * “How is it** that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?” –Dr. Samuel Johnson

      ** Ka-ching…

  25. Amfortas the hippie

    on the Winlow and Hall thing on academia…and your addendum:”And if identity politics-driven liberal Democrats — and their allies on the putative “left” — wish to encounter such a beast, they are proceeding along exactly the right path.”

    if Team Blue doesn’t become the New Facists, themselves, that is.
    the excerpt from that paper points to exactly that phenomenon…the erstwhile “left”—neoliberal identitarians—becoming totalitarian and instigating a purity purge and even a two minute hate(see neera).
    I really don’t think a classic fascism…race based, nationalist, Right Wing…can get any purchase any longer in the USA.
    sure, there’s a loud racists, and loud nationalists… but perhaps their megaphones are being mistaken for their popularity(and the bigger megaphones provided by corporate media, for their own divisive ends).
    the ideals of the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement and the women’s lib…have become more or less baked into the cake in the last 30 years…and this is speaking from redneck backwoodistan Texas(one would expect, that if such a movement was nascent, I’d see it out here).
    This is not to say that further rapine and plunder won’t create a viable seedbed for some movement building along those lines…but I think the greater danger, right now, is the Big Center…Hillary and Billy Kristol holding hands and “coming together” with Max Boot and Jamie Dimon.
    the most illiberal parts of Metoo and “woke”-ness providing the means to crush any actually substantial critique of the Way Things Are.
    when I’ve said essentially the same thing Winlow and Hall say in that paragraph in Team Blue places over the last 4 years or so…I’ve been pounced upon as a racist hemanwomanhater who is secretly a russian right winger republican.
    The only saving grace in this is that the Big Center doesn’t inspire the masses(who don’t generally vote, or get involved politically at all)..so there won’t be any identitarian pitchfork crowds out here, at least.
    (Of course…I’ve essentially abandoned all social media, save for NC…so I have no idea what’s going on at …say …alternet or Kos right now…
    I find that I don’t have the time or the want, to self-police my utterances any longer to engage with those people and their large toes any longer)

  26. Wukchumni

    Hundreds of sex abuse allegations found in fundamental Baptist churches across U.S.

    Joy Evans Ryder was 15 years old when she says her church youth director pinned her to his office floor and raped her.

    “It’s OK. It’s OK,” he told her. “You don’t have to be afraid of anything.”

    He straddled her with his knees, and she looked off into the corner, crying and thinking, “This isn’t how my mom said it was supposed to be.”

    The youth director, Dave Hyles, was the son of the charismatic pastor of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, considered at the time the flagship for thousands of loosely affiliated independent fundamental Baptist churches and universities.


    1. Amfortas the hippie

      almost (!)big scandal out here a coupe of years ago:CoC preacher caught sexting teenage girl. turns out it’s really his entitled brat of a son, but daddy takes blame, and whole thing quietly goes away. same deal with an abrasive coach…essentially stalking a coach’s aide(17)…and since nobody in power likes him, he “retires”(to another coaching position, elsewhere in Texas).
      but big wigs’ adult daughters carry on relations with willing young futbal students…and “nothing to see here”,lol.
      had one coach(a lunatic, IMO) lurk in the bushes at a “zombie walk” for charity, and literally shoot kids with a painball gun—dressed in camo and everything.
      “just good fun”…because the victim was of a poor family, and had no “standing”, I guess.
      Let a poor and/or brown person get caught in the same situation…and the response is much different.
      The bank president is free to drive drunk, of course.
      and you can’t get a prompt plumber unless you are of a handful of hundred plus year old
      pioneer clans.
      everyone in the stories above—perps and victims…were white, btw.
      it’s Class that mattered…and not just economic class…but social.

      1. Wukchumni

        That dogma will hunt, and ‘loves’ the bible & rust belts…

        The Star-Telegram discovered at least 412 allegations of sexual misconduct in 187 independent fundamental Baptist churches and their affiliated institutions, spanning 40 states and Canada.

      2. cat's paw

        You will never encounter a more depraved, decadent, cruel, and perverse social environment than what is to be found in any small to midsize southern U.S. town. Weimar Berlin? Please. A Sunday School picnic. Caligula’s Rome? Innocent child’s play. Pre 1914 Vienna? Surely you jest. A Quaker meeting by comparison.

        Something about the overweening, suffocating morality of control wedded to the monstrous history of the old socioeconomic order that creates the most exquisitely demented forms of hypocrisy and madness. There’s just nothing like it.

        1. Yves Smith

          Oh come on. Let’s start with slave ships. Or better yet, concentration camps. There was a recent book about how Dachau was considered to be a plum assignment and the Nazis in charge all had nice family lives. And how about the killing fields of Cambodia, or genocide in Rwanda.

          1. Amfortas the hippie

            aye. doesn’t compare to dachau, etc…by any stretch.
            but the hypocrisy and self righteousness does run deep.
            I love these simpletons, regardless.
            it’s just how they are.
            early on, I worked at a cafe opened by a silicon valley guy…in a little ghost town about 5 miles out.
            he was a lecher, and I saw many strange things there…it was like vegas—“what happens in Art, Texas, stays in Art, Texas”.
            beer and whiskey would flow, and married women would dance upon the tables,lol.
            then go to church the next day.
            I filed it all away for future ammo, if I should need it…and my inner anthropologist was very happy.
            these people have an uncanny ability to look the other way…and to forget…when it suits them.
            but let me do it, and I’ll carry it forever. Because I wasn’t born here, and will always be a “ferriner”.
            That selective forgetfulness and forbearance serves a societal purpose, of course.
            My silicon boss had used an old feud as a marketing vehicle(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mason_County_War), and that’s what did him in….descendants of that feud still carry it with them, as if it happened yesterday. They manage to live together by “forgetting”…turning away from scandal…(see: the townspeople in High Plains Drifter)…he reminded of that feud, and this was a grievous sin, and ultimately unpardonable.

          2. cat's paw

            It’s hyperbole for god sake! I would have thought it was obvious, riffing off Amfortas’s anecdotes above, but that presumption was clearly in error.

    2. Carolinian

      There’s a rumor big city Catholics have a sex abuse problem too. Then there’s all those non evangelical (possibly non religious) Hollywood moguls. Go figure.

      Perhaps it simply has to do with being in a position of power (as most religious leaders are).

  27. ewmayer

    o “Billionaires Are the Leading Cause of Climate Change” [GQ]. Worth repeating: “Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world’s climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. So you, a random American consumer, exert very little pressure here. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies.” — As Yves likes to say, huh? Presumably these corporations are in the business of selling some products and services, yes? So, sure, we should look at their methods for producing same and whether said methods are unnecessarily eco-harmful, BUT we also need to look at who is *buying* these things, and *that* is whereour individual choices matter very much – do i really need the latest/greatest iphone, or am I mainly interested in showing off? Do I really need widget X, and if so, should I save some small $ amount by having it shipped across the Pacific? Corporations don’t operate in a vacuum, GQ!

    o “Pakistan Makes Pledge To Plant 10 Billion Trees In 5 Years” [Green Matters] … This conforms so powerfully to my priors that I’m dubious. Readers? — If you want a vivid closer-by illustration of the effects of policy choices on such things, look at any satellite image of Hispaniola and contrast the color of the Haitian westward side with the Dominacan-Republican eastward side. In one of history’s ironies, it so happens that the late, brutal DR strongman Rafael Trujillo happened to like his forests rather more than he cared about his people.

    IIRC Japan is another historical example of successful forest conservation. Not saying we need a shogun or a dictator to have successful conservation effort, but perhaps the lesson is that such requires clear incentives and/or penalties. IOW, just “raising awareness” and hoping people will do the right thing are not enough.

    1. Wukchumni

      Was at the town hall meeting last week, and next year a logging company is going to come through our cabin community and will cut & clear all upright standing dead trees, and clear out the floor of anything burnable within 300 feet of cabins, which means they’ll be going around 250 feet into the confines of Sequoia NP to get ‘r done.

      This would be unfathomable a few years ago, as NPS is real touchy feely in regards to doing this sort of activity.

      The Camp Fire changed that way of thinking, in a hurry.

      The forest for the trees will be much healthier and stands a much better chance of not burning up, should a wildfire come calling.

      1. Carolinian

        The forest for the trees will be much healthier and stands a much better chance of not burning up, should a wildfire come calling.

        Isn’t that exactly what Trump said….”raking” the forest floor? He’s not touchy feely like the (former) NPS.

        1. Wukchumni

          I’m in favor of cleaning up our forests, but what he and his minions desire is clear cutting the forest. I linked a WaPo story yesterday that was about a ‘prescribed burn’ program in Montana that would cost $100k an acre to accomplish, whereas they do it here in Sequoia NP for $250 an acre.

          As usual, it’s more than a little scammy, what they propose @ 400x what the cost should be.

          1. Carolinian

            There’s a neighborhood near Prescott, AZ that sounds like yours….cabins in the trees. The Forest Service dealt with fire threats by clear cutting a big swath nearby. This long predated Trump. The FS bias is always to use any excuse for timber sales.

            Supposedly the NPS bias is just the opposite–conservation. One hopes that isn’t changing under Trump.

    2. meeps

      If the claim made by Nathan Tankus in his tweet can be supported, I’ll rejoice in the confirmation of my arbor-phillic priors. Meanwhile, an internet search conjured this:


      Quick takeaway: natural forests consume less water and sequester more carbon than a planted forest (in China over a 12 year period).

      Having not yet read the supporting information, I don’t know how planted forests in this study are defined; plantation forests (monocrops) have known deficiencies when compared with natural forests, carbon sequestration being only one of these.

      Still, a combined effort to (1) preserve natural forests and (2) plant forests more akin to natural forests while (3) reducing carbon emitted via other sources would seem a sensible way to proceed. Forest recovery could reestablish lost habitat and lost jobs, as much for environmental scientists as for anyone needing work.

      Probably should have begun decades ago, but it’s not worth hesitating any longer…

  28. Wukchumni

    The 2nd coming of Christie as WH Chief of Staff would be something to behold, as the evangs would get him mixed up with the other guy and that has to be good for at least a couple of extra points upwards (…points finger towards the heavens-like a religious NFL player that just caught a TD pass…) on the next approval poll of the President.

  29. blowncue

    I’m not so sanguine re: Bernie. My take, based on what I saw in my circle was support for Bernie dropping like a stone with women 45 and order. I saw a few, younger, ivy-educated female aspirants resonating with the narrative of breaking the glass ceiling. Jeff Weaver had no response for this – Bernie should have fired Weaver early on in his campaign. This time around, he needs to have better speeches that a “white paper with elbows.” He has to make the dispossessed believe he knows they were sold down the river.

    One way to do that: he passed what I call the “pipe bomb” test. As in, who didn’t get a pipe bomb in the mail during the midterms?

    Meanwhile, many “deplorables” early on preferred Bernie, the rural candidate (VT) until they heard Trump at a rally. (Source: the senior citizens’ table at McDonald’s, central NC)

    I believe that unless the Democrats find a female candidate that is perceived as being anti-establishment – the love child of Norma Rae and Barbara Jordan – Harris would clinch the nomination in your runoff. Even against Biden, as I think O’ Rourke drops out early, or if I am wrong, against O’ Rourke. I hypothesize that two realities must be accepted:

    * Female Democrats must accept that we must offer an anti-establishment candidate for the general election. Now is the globalization of our discontent, made possible courtesy of discontent with globalization.

    * All other Democrats must accept that enough female Democrats want a women as US President.

    Only one candidate meets those conditions to date: Warren.

    The only other scenario I can envision is that enough women think they need to put forward someone “electable” (think Kerry in 2004) that they break for Biden. If Biden has a skeleton in his closet of the #MeToo variety, this scenario fails.

    1. tegnost

      Bernie lost because he was cheated by the dnc. I know plenty of 45 yo + women who are are the epitome of the berniebro, and the cheating dems will never get their vote. the dispossessed know that bernie knows they’re in trouble, the elite dems, on the other hand, don’t give a rat’s ass for the dispossessed. Especially Joe Biden. Good luck with that. It’s still the same numbers game. Every year there are fewer and fewer rich people and more and more poor people. The ACA made the richest people I know get cheaper insurance, mine is unusably expensive in order to pay for that. Oh and don’t ask for a raise, it’ll make your unusable insurance more expensive, another win for the upper classes. I think all centrist/right leaning dems should switch parties, biden would make an excellent republican candidate, who may be able to strip some of the dino’s from the “left”. Many deplorables supported bernie until he was screwed by the dnc, and I imagine some of them did vote for trump, and I for one and totally fine that hillary lost and there’s no TPP or ISDS. Your identity politics are a recipe for failure.

      1. a different chris

        > made the richest people I know get cheaper insurance,

        Oh, bingo. I have company insurance, it has three offerings with an ACA style of levels. I find that the wealthy* among us gets the cheapest and us poors get the most expensive. The wealthy can take the high hit if something goes wrong, the rest of us can’t.

        And many of the best-off actually cannot seem to understand why we do that.

        *Our paychecks are mostly not so different, but spouses income sure does vary widely.

        1. KPC

          Someday, perhaps, you can have a conversation about health and health care without resorting to belittling human beings based on some perceived sum of MONEY they may or may not have?

          Did you ever think of approaching this subject in this manner? Just drop the reference to MONEY from your mind and then see if you can come up with some solutions for all of us?

          Classic North American and the view of the value of human life. The value, not money.

          1. a different chris

            Perceived? Those mid-level Mercedes and Benzs are just an illusion? The actual spouse’s jobs are just an illusion?

            And who the family blog did I “belittle”? I said they don’t seem to understand, they clearly don’t. What am I supposed to say?


            “Did you ever think of approaching this subject in this manner?”

            I *never* discuss the subject at all. They bring it up. I nod and change said subject. They are not bad people, and their decisions make sense to me. Why mine don’t make sense to them is not worth explaining.

            You’ve posted – if I may continue my supposed belittling – a bunch of stuff on this thread that demonstrates that you never have read this website, never considered that we know things as well or better than you do, demonstrated a superiority of no basis that I can see at all. So what is your deal, exactly? What makes you so great?

          2. tegnost

            actually we’re talking about a very real thing, access to health care. In this country. the usa, we have socialism for the wealthy. How nice that you live in costa rica, it is unwise of your brethren there to migrate here, it ain’t all that.

      2. blowncue

        “Your identity politics are a recipe for failure.”

        I’m curious: because Howard Cosell exclaimed “Down goes Frazier!” does that mean he was a diehard fan of George Foreman? I thought Cosell was calling the fight – as a commentator.

        As for me, if Bella Abzug and Ed Asner had a love child, that child would be me. So no, I’m not a standard bearer of identity politics.

        What I am guilty of is being an armchair analyst. And my first question is: were those 45+ year old female Sanders supporters from the suburbs or from rural areas? Because if they were from the suburbs, that would get my attention. If they are from rural areas, that would lead me to think suburban 45+ year old women constituted the thumb tacks in the highway to the nomination.

        I don’t believe that the DNC screwing of Bernie Sanders alone cost him the election. I think enough 45+ year old women were sufficiently financially secure such that they could afford to dream of putting a woman into the Oval Office. They face neither destitution, an onerous student loan debt or a lack of health insurance. They have no idea of current costs of tuition and fees.

        That centrist/right leaning dems will switch parties is as much a fantasy as that held by diehard Clinton supporters who could not believe that a few supporters of Jill Stein could reject Clinton at the end. They refused to understand that “deplorables” vote. They refused to understand that in general elections the tail will wag the dog. One doesn’t scold such voters, or call them the equivalent of “scabs” expecting that intimidation will compel them to fall in line. They have a shopping list. One ensures they get what’s on that shopping list.

        And we have yet to drive the establishment liberals out of the Democratic party. They are certainly not going to just pack up and leave. We lost. Trump won. He’s co-opted the Republican party. Sanders has done nothing of the sort (not that it’s on him to do so).

        Castigating those firmly entrenched in identity politics isn’t going to make them change their ways. They vote – just as deplorables vote. Just as we voted for Sanders. Do you think Sanders is going to win as an independent in 2020? Because if he intends to run as a Democrat, he’s going to have to find a way to pick up those female voters who fell in love with the idea of a woman in the Oval Office. Will Sanders convince that that he is the only candidate who can win the electoral votes needed? That they cannot wish away the fact that we are in an anti-establishment season?

        I don’t think he can do it. I think those women will fall in love with their snow globes all over again. You unfurl your bill of grievances, which have nothing to do with my analysis. Unless you believe an anti-establishment 3rd party candidate will draw enough votes from the Democratic and Republican candidates in the general election, then the only way you get Sanders on the November ballot is his winning the nomination. I saw the CNN poll results and the same thing jumped out over and over, confirming this, from Vox: Why younger women love Bernie Sanders, and why it drives older women crazy. Kay Steiger, 2/11/2016

        The war of late-night feminist hot takes captures perfectly the state of the generational divide among liberal women.

        On one side there is Gloria Steinem, who said on Real Time With Bill Maher that the girls are only with Bernie because “that’s where the boys are.”

        Then there’s Jessica Williams of The Daily Show on the other side, delivering an equally strong sarcastic counterpunch: “I literally vote with my vagina. They are like third hands!”

        One way to look at this dispute is to see this fight as a symptom of a deep-seated feud with roots in feminist theory. But there’s also a simpler way to look at it. Some people feel, strongly, that supporting the first woman president is an important feminist act. Others feel, strongly, that supporting the biggest backer of the social safety net is an important feminist act.

        And those older women haven’t gone anywhere. They’ll either vote for another female Democratic candidate, such as Kamala Harris, or they’ll get nervous and look for someone with “electability.” It will be Kerry supplanting Dean all over again.

        But if a true anti-establishment female candidate runs as a Democrat, that candidate just might win the nomination. And if that happens, and that candidate can pick up the African-American vote in NC, and the Jill Stein voters in the rust belt, and disaffected Trump voters, then I just might have a recipe for success.

        I would love to be wrong. I would love for Richard Ojeda to be our next president. But identity politics isn’t going to just dry up and blow away because you and I spy its fatal flaws. So why not just run a female candidate with a track record of fighting for the working class? Such as Cindy Estrada?

      1. The Rev Kev

        My bad. Now I remember her. Howard Marshall died at the age of 90 but he reputedly died with a big grin on his face. The litigation on that case lasted for years over the inheritance I believe.

        1. KPC

          How vulgar, cruel and ugly of you.

          How is this helpful or relevant to the subject matter of this blog? I would ban you from this blog were I the moderator.

          You have no idea what their circumstance was or was not nor do I nor is it any of your business. Nor do I care to intrude or know.

          Classic slippery slope … . Deplorables, comes to mind?

          You would not get past client acceptance procedures in this firm. I have fired bigger clients for less.

  30. tegnost

    lime scooter crash in pacific beach has left a man with a possibly fatal head injury. The scooter has a tag somewhere apparently that states you should wear a helmet, so expect the insurance company to deny coverage. I wonder if helmets are as easy to get as the scooters are, so maybe there’s an angle. Google scooter injuries and the top choices are PI lawyers and serious head injury stories. I’d add a link but the UT says it knows I’m incognito and won’t let me copy, guess I’d better clear my cookies….wear a helmet please, or just walk…don’t do it for me, do it for your mom.

  31. The Rev Kev

    “School turns students’ lunch debt over to collection agency”

    In news just in, the Transworld Systems collection agency has announced that it will be outsourcing the work to the school bullies in each school who will use such techniques as Indian rubs, wedgies, noogies, purple nurples and stop-hitting-yourself to collect the owed money.

    1. KPC


      I might boycott this web site for letting this vile come through.

      Merely violent? Your talent at a turn of phrase is impressive.

      Buddy, your language is at least as violent as that of the alleged school behavior you reference.

      What a liberal and progressive group of people on this blog.

      1. tegnost

        so you would censor comedy? Wow…oh and by the way good comedy has an element of truth to it, and the Rev delivers to this person who has been at times hounded by debt collectors…if a wedgie was effective our wonderful leadership class would make it happen, unfortunately it’s too hands on for them and they wouldn’t want to touch a poor persons underpants, so we’re safe from that, at least…for now, I mean…

  32. JBird4049

    The country is being run by the Harkonnens.

    At least they are not serving Soylent Green in the school cafeteria. Yet.

  33. knowbuddhau

    “Billionaires Are the Leading Cause of Climate Change” [GQ]. Worth repeating: “Contrary to a lot of guilt-tripping pleas for us all to take the bus more often to save the world, your individual choices are probably doing very little to the world’s climate. The real impact comes on the industrial level, as more than 70 percent of global emissions come from just 100 companies. So you, a random American consumer, exert very little pressure here. The people who are actively cranking up the global thermostat and threatening to drown 20 percent of the global population are the billionaires in the boardrooms of these companies.”

    No, they aren’t. And at the end of this incoherent rant, the author admits it unwittingly: “But the fossil-fuel industry’s interests are too well-insulated by the mountains of cash that have been converted into lobbyists, industry-shilling Republicans and Democrats, and misinformation. To them,….” Who’s this them? What happened to “radical libertarian billionaires fostering disbelief in climate change and skepticism about the government”?

    It takes a globe to pillage, and a lot of ambitious help, to make every billionaire. They don’t pop up out of nowhere, Galt-like, ever so fully endowed.

    Do the poles of a battery cause current? Does the foam on the crest of a tsunami cause all the destruction? What about Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros, Sheldon Adelson?

    Who wants to be a billionaire? Where do they come from?

    Billionaires cause climate change only in the sense that it’s possible to be one. It’s only possible to be one because we think it’s the greatest good: to get rich like there’s no tomorrow.

    And I guarantee that quite a few are avidly after the dubious distinction of “first trillionaire.” Dubious because likely also last.

    But individual actions don’t matter, according to the same Einstein published between ads for outrageously overpriced status symbol items in Gentleman’s Quarterly. It’s them over there who are at fault and to blame. Since billionaires cause climate change, once we get rid of them, it’ll all be over.

    The effects of the rest of us, we who are embodying the selfsame system that produces billionaires, lacking any genuine exception to the law of organisms living in balance with their environments, don’t matter. The scales are already dramatically out of balance, each grain we each add means more catastrophe, and sooner, not later, but don’t worry. Keep shopping.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Keep shopping

      For paper straws? Not enough. Arthur Silber once said: “It’s called the ruling class because it rules.” They are the drives, the primary agents. To put this another way, if we’d had some good old-fashioned class warfare from Bill McKibben et al., instead of whatever strategy they in fact employed, we and the biosphere generally might be better off.

      1. knowbuddhau

        Thanks, I do tend toward the hyperbolic.

        WADR, McKibben et al are late to the party. The hippies were right. The fossil-fuel barons were told, by their own scientists, we had to change, or else. Instead, they, in their social, behavioral, and ecological context, chose to manufacture consent. That wasn’t the work of sole billionaires.

        And before them, too; climate change was foreseen before today’s billionaires were born. And I don’t see how playing on the opposition’s court will get us anything but trounced. Seems to me that’s the black block’s trick.

        Not interested in war of any kind, tyvm.

        The grid is based on centralized power and dependent, even captive consumers. So’s our politics. But as you so well document, they ain’t meeting basic material needs.

        Obama betrayed his base. Trump’s betraying his. The MOTU behind them win both ways. But you can’t keep doing that. Without sufficient potential difference between the Dem & Repub poles, the battery is said to be dead.

        “The Reality Is, Everything Must Change”

        Accepting the frame, that billionaires cause climate change, accepts the world we seek to change, and commits us to futile action in it. ISTM comparative to a centralized vs. distributed grid. That was then. This is now. We each need to make a radical break in our own lives. Too bad there wasn’t one, global thunderclap. (OK, too hyperbolic.)

        That doesn’t mean monumental steps. But it can be awfully hard not to do what one’s always done.

    2. KPC

      Thank you, sir.

      Thank you for standing up and saying a small bit of truth. No one is an exception, no one.

      While I am not, there are, indeed, a few wealthy people who do get it and are working so very hard as well.

      How vile violent this culture has become to see good and evil only through the lens of mere money.

      This is one of the marks of collapse.

  34. JCC

    Here’s an interesting project – https://brave.com/ – the Brave browser. The ad blocker is built in along with a payment system (in proportion to sites visited) to those sites where one chooses to allow ads through.

    It’s an interesting concept run by some competent people. Available of Linux only at this time, unfortunately. I tried it and it works well, and it’s fast.

    Also, although the concept seems very good, the payment system involves the etherium blockchain which is a real turn-off for me, so after setting up preferences and trying it out, and finally discovering the etherium thing, I dumped it.

    I’m not quite sure how it all will work out in the long run, but if it were pure coin of the realm I believe I would be all in. It’s an excellent idea.

  35. integer

    They hate [Sanders], though. They really hate him.

    Clearly they are all anti-Semites. /s

    Seriously though, if Sanders was an establishment candidate, and a front runner for the 2020 D party nomination, I expect objections to him from the left on policy grounds would, at least in part, be attributed to antisemitism. Seems like there’s a bit of a double standard at play; remember how during the “Corbyn is an anti-Semite” propaganda wave he spent Passover with the UK Jewish group Jewdas, and was then castigated for spending time with “the wrong kind of Jews”? Well, I’m guessing Sanders is regarded as such, and thus not deemed worthy of protection by the antisemitism shield.

  36. knowbuddhau

    Via l’espirit d’escalier, getting the impression the author had the Kochs in mind. But that makes the headline ridiculous-er. “The Kochs (and Peter Thiel) Are Causing Climate Change.”

    Do we need the *right billionaires? Or just cap income at 900 really, really large?

    More seriously, we need to get these billionaires to do the right thing even as we stop making more. Maybe start by eminent domaining their ill gotten gains if they won’t play ball.

    1. KPC

      One of the problems here is the difference between access to money (the conveyancing system) and wealth.

      It is telling that when one sees the definition of “the evil rich” in today’s discussions including on this blog the measure is uniformly, I think now, a measure of someone’s “income”. In the past, I always recall this as measured on the balance sheet, meaning net worth. It is a clear indicator of where we have come from, where we are and where we are going. It is also a bit hopeful to my eye.

      Herein lies some of the solution including restoring the balance to this great planet which is our home.

      Wealth is capial or Das Kapital in German and the obvious title of a critical book on “economics”. In the time of Dr. Karl Marx, there was no such thing as “economics” and this is key as well.

      We are dealing with human behavior. Here one will find Dr. Karl Jung of great help as well as with that n thing or this culture of evil.

      In any event, capital is planet earth. All else is labor, meaning us human beings. As human beings we are charged with the stewardship of capital or planet earth. The true wealthy hold care and custody of capital and engage in active labor in their critical role.

      Capital without labor has no value.
      Labor without capital has nothing to do.

      Then there is evil… .

      Yes, there are solutions.

      Thank you, sir, for your thoughtfulness and grace.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        I see it in terms of Power…not income or “wealth”, however measured.
        I don’t begrudge the bank president I know his money…but what he does with it…how he uses it.
        and how he justifies his behaviour with it as a cover.
        “who, me ruthless?”,lol.

        If I somehow came into a billion dollars, what would I do?
        How would it change me?
        could I prevent it from changing me into something I would despise?
        I’d like to think so.
        I’d like to think I’d found a free university, full of ecology and poetry and hard core humanism.
        or pay off all the debts of the po folks around here….or build a bunch of windmills and give the energy away to the Barrio.
        But who knows.
        You’re right, of course, that our penchant for defining people by their bank book is pernicious, and ugly.

      2. a different chris

        >Labor without capital has nothing to do.

        That would be news to about 60 million years of human history. But you read a book, so….

      3. knowbuddhau

        Yw, and same to ya.

        Capital and labor are both fingers of the same hand. We are earth, and Earth.

        Billionaires:Climate Change :: Foam:Tsunami crest. It’s that our way of being human allows for a handful of billionaires balancing billions of paupers. Or viewed differently: They’re poles of the same battery.

        This is the part where we radically repower even as we radically decarbonize our entire society. I have the sneaking suspicion that societies are only a narrative deep. The dominant one is failing and flailing all over the place. I’m not rejoicing.

        As a poet, I’m trying to make sense of the dissolution of the world I grew up in and mostly inhabit even as I make sense of the resolution of the next. I’ve learned that, to be an irresolute being in an irresolute setting, is an awful thing, and most hazardous to self and others, but that’s where we and several billion of our fellow earthlings are heading.

        All hell’s gonna break loose, and people are already coming unglued. The climate and even the land are unsettled. We need less hocus pocus (manufacture of consent in tired old frames) and more focus focus (a clear view, in a compelling narrative, of where we are, how we got here, and how to go forward).

  37. Amfortas the hippie

    day late and many dollars short.
    Finally got to Ms Stoner’s review of Keywords.
    This strays into Magic….the sort of secular version/definition…a method of manifesting one’s will into the world.
    Belief…what lens we use to see the world…determines many things about that world.
    am I a “Consumer”…or a “Citizen”?
    how different is my experience in the world if I take the former into my heart, rather than the latter?
    The latter contains a certain power….Citizen is the foundation of the Republic, we are assured…”Consumer” lacks that, and is instead passive, mindless.
    Words have power.
    the architects of the neoliberal order have known this all along, and their use of this knowledge has been masterful, indeed.

  38. knowbuddhau

    Belated thanks for this. A new lens (some assembly required) for viewing this anamorphic political landscape of ours.

    The Bezzle: “The language of capitalism isn’t just annoying, it’s dangerous” [The Outline]. “Published last week by Haymarket Books, [John Patrick Leary’s Keywords: The New Language of Capitalism] explores the regime of late-capitalist language: a set of ubiquitous modern terms, drawn from the corporate world and the business press, that he argues promulgate values friendly to corporations (hierarchy, competitiveness, the unquestioning embrace of new technologies) over those friendly to human beings (democracy, solidarity, and scrutiny of new technologies’ impact on people and the planet)…. Leary offers a lexicon of about 40 late capitalist “keywords,” from “accountability” to “wellness.” Some straddle the work-life divide, like “coach.” Using simple tools — the Oxford English Dictionary, Google’s ngram database, and media coverage of business and the economy— Leary argues that each keyword presents something basically indefensible about late capitalist society in a sensible, neutral, and even uplifting package.” • Yes, “innovation” is there! This is a must-read. And one more book to read. Perhaps for Xmas?

Comments are closed.