2:00PM Water Cooler 12/12/2018

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Trade

“Lighthizer doesn’t think Congress will cave to NAFTA threat” [Politico]. “Lighthizer has indicated to Democratic lawmakers behind closed doors that he’s not totally behind Trump’s threat to withdraw from NAFTA as a tactic to force Congress to vote on USMCA… He made clear in one recent conversation with a Democrat that the White House would be making any decision to withdraw on its own, one source said. ‘It was implied that Lighthizer might disagree with using the threat of withdrawal as a negotiating tactic, but that wasn’t said directly,’ the source said. Lighthizer also signaled he’d rather have constructive dialogue with Congress to get the deal passed next year.” • One source?

Politics

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

2020

I can’t believe I’m writing about 2020 in 2018. It’s like Xmas muzak in the stores on the Fourth of July weekend.

“Biden Should Run on a Unity Ticket With Romney” [Politico]. Everything you need to know is in the author bio: “Juleanna Glover has worked as an adviser for several Republican politicians, including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Rudy Giuliani and advised the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Jeb Bush. She is on the Biden Institute Policy Advisory Board.” But do skim the article: It screams “Grand Bargain!” from every line.

“Why Joe Biden Turned Down $38 Million” [New York Magazine]. “So he’s wading, slowly, through what it means to have not a shred of doubt that he’s the right man for the time, but also a real fear that the time is no longer right for him.” • But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

“First wave of 2020 panic: Is Biden vs. Bernie really the best Democrats can do?” [Salon]. Plenty of blather, but this on age: “Winston Churchill began his second stint as prime minister in 1951, at age 76. He left office at 80, but served another nine years in Parliament. India has had several prime ministers serve into their 80s. The current Malaysian prime minister and Tunisian president are both over 90. Nicolò da Ponte was an esteemed Doge of Venice until his death at age 94 — and that was in 1585.”

Incident Report

Twitter is all atwitter over this video of Trump meeting with Pelosi and Schumer. Readers, if you have time to listen to it over a cup of coffee, I’d be interested in your reactions. I thought whoever separated Pelosi and Schumer and put Trump in the middle was clever. Other than that, I’ll share my views later, so as not to infect you with my priors.

UPDATE “Pelosi privately disses Trump’s manhood after White House meeting” [Politico]. “‘I was trying to be the mom,’ Pelosi added, but ‘it goes to show you: You get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.'” • I am so not looking forward to seeing “tinkle contest” all over my Twitter feed for the next few days. Anyhow, I don’t know what “trying to be the mom” means; perhaps it’s similar to Clinton’s abortive* positioning as mi abuela? Anyhow, Pelosi isn’t the slightest bit like my mother, who was not a millionaire second-generation political operative and winery owner. Come on. NOTE * Hilariously, the Clinton campaign page for mi abuela — https://www.hillaryclinton.com/feed/8-ways-hillary-clinton-just-your-abuela — seems to have been scrubbed from the Wayback Machine. Mook was good for something, I suppose.

UPDATE “Congresswoman, Interrupted” [The Atlantic]. “After Trump interrupted to mention her caucus troubles, Pelosi countered firmly: ‘Please don’t characterize the strength that I bring to this meeting.’ That people notice Pelosi being interrupted and take exception is an indication that she doesn’t need help standing up for herself in the first place. But there might be a young woman in your office who does.”

2018

NC-09: “In N.C. election fraud case, witness says operative held onto 800 absentee ballots” [NBC]. “McCrae Dowless, the man whose “get-out-the-vote” activities are the center of the election fraud investigation in North Carolina, told a local political campaign volunteer that he was holding onto 800 absentee ballots, according to a new affidavit obtained by NBC News.” • I’ve always wanted an excuse to run “Dogs Playing Poker,” and now I can, because it seems to capture the ethical climate of North Carolina politics, at least on the Republican side (the Rev. William Barber, also from North Carolina, is a Democrat (North Carolina is contested)):

NC-09: “Understanding the election scandal in North Carolina’s 9th district” [Brokings Insotitution]. “[M]ultiple individuals have come forward to claim that they were paid by a Republican political operative, Leslie McCrae Dowless, to collect absentee ballots from voters; under North Carolina law, it is, with limited exceptions, illegal to collect and return someone else’s absentee ballot. (For more on the ins-and-outs of the controversy, I’d recommend some great reporting from local journalists on the episode.)… Investigators are also looking into the results of the Republican primary, in which Harris beat Pittenger by just 828 votes but won 96 percent of the absentee vote in one key county. In addition, Dowless appears to have had ties to other Republican candidates in the 2018 election and the county at the center of the scandal has seen at least five separate elections investigations since 2010.” • This does seem a little unsavory. Brookings — amazingly, I should have thought, given its sophisticated audience — has to include an explanation of the difference between election fraud and voter fraud. This makes me think elites — except those, perhaps, with direct, personal interest in outcomes and the political netherworld that services them — might be equally clueless on balloting and e-voting issues.

Please Kill Me Now

“As Dark Clouds Gather, Leaders Should Learn From the Past” [Charles Cook, Cook Political Report]. “So driving from New Orleans to Baton Rouge, listening to the service, grateful for Bush’s life and service to our country, for his presidency, it was with tears running down my cheeks, hearing the eloquence and poignance of historian and Bush biographer Jon Meacham, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, former Sen. Alan Simpson, former President George W. Bush, and the Rev. Dr. Russell Jones Levenson Jr., the Bush family’s pastor in Houston.” • Wowsers. And this is the liberal handicapper!

Obama Legacy

UPDATE I should really do more research on the Obama Library, which isn’t really a Presidential Library, and seems to have sprouted a golf course, presumably so Obama can service donors in the privacy of a fairway:

Trump plays a lot of golf, but at least he hasn’t destroyed a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in order to do it conveniently. (To be fair, it’s always possible that grateful Chicagoans are gifting Obama with a handy course because they know he’s a player.)

Realignment and Legitimacy

“BREAKING: Did Donald J. Trump ‘defraud democracy?'” [The Daily Howler]. “[The letter writer] declares that the American people are victims of a crime. As we tried to select the president of the United States, we were kept from knowing that Donald J. Trump may have had sex, on one occasion, with Clifford some ten years before! Forget the legalities here. That strikes us as one of the most insane political and cultural judgments we’ve encountered in twenty-one years at this mind-numbing post. That said, it’s now the defining political/cultural judgment of the liberal and mainstream worlds…. Tribes devise the darnedest claims! We’re strongly inclined to function this way, and we always have been.” • See, e.g.

“The Lochnerized First Amendment And The Fda: Toward A More Democratic Political Economy” [Amy Kapczynski, Columbia Law Review]. “Recent Supreme Court decisions have ‘weaponiz[ed]’ the First Amendment, turning it into a powerful tool against a range of ordinary socioeconomic legisla­tion. There is little that can escape its reach, because we are crea­tures of speech, and governance and speech are inescapably intertwined…. Courts, speaking in the name of the First Amendment, are “freeing” us from regulatory approaches that have worked for decades to inform us about the prod­ucts we put in our bodies…. As a commit­ment to market supremacy advances inside of constitutional doctrine, democratic control over our economy and society will demand new pub­lic infrastructure that displaces or routes around an increasingly ungov­ernable private sector.” • Hmm.

Good for AOC:

Stats Watch

Consumer Price Index, November 2018: “The CPI came in as expected at no change with the ex-food ex-energy core rate also at expectations” [Econoday]. “Even though there’s no evidence of unwanted pressure in this report, the risk for the Fed is that lack of available labor in the jobs market may begin to slow the economic expansion and no less importantly begin to raise wages which are inflationary pressures not tracked in this report.” And: “Energy was the main driver for the year-over-year decline. Core inflation remains above 2.0 % year-over-year. Medical cost inflation continues to outpace the CPI-U” [Econintersect]. And: “Using these measures, inflation picked up slightly on a year-over-year basis in November. Overall, these measures are at or above the Fed’s 2% target (Core PCE is below 2%)” [Calculated Risk].

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations, December 2018: “Year-ahead inflation expectations for the business sector are up” [Econoday]. “December’s gain isn’t dramatic and is not confirmed by last week’s reading on the consumer sector from the University of Michigan… These results are modest at most but the trends for each are on a gradual upward path, one that won’t escape the notice of the Federal Reserve which strongly stresses the central importance that inflation expectations remain well anchored.”

MBA Mortgage Applications, week of December 7, 2018: “A sharp decline in interest rates gave a boost to mortgage activity in the December 7 week” [Econoday].

Real Estate: “JLL report says intermodal growth is starting to pay off with inland ports’ development:” [Logistics Management]. “[I]ncreased intermodal usage will not only see supply chains drive more cargo off of highways on to rail, but it will also serve as a driver to increase real estate development in close proximity to inland ports. A key thesis of the report, entitled “On the right track, growth in intermodal rail leads to new warehouse real estate,” explained that this type of real estate development is expected to see growth, should the U.S. shift to more export-oriented growth. The reason for this, JLL explained, is the direct linkage between rail volume growth and warehouse inventory growth. Using the inland port markets in heavy freight regions Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas, it said that each has seen significant benefits from freight transportation connections, with warehouse inventory growth ranging from 3%-12% over the last five years.”

Shipping: “November truckload and intermodal pricing see gains in November, says Cass and Broughton report” [Logistics Management]. “The report cited various factors for the ongoing strength in truckload pricing, including: the recent decline in the price of WTI crude oil, coupled with expected continued growth in the industrial economy; an acceleration in the consumer economy; the visibility of equipment (especially dry van and reefers) is now being used to help offset the initial reduction in capacity stemming from the December 2017 ELD federal mandate; and capacity additions, which have come in the form of lower unseated truck counts, as driver pay has steadily increased, lower average age of trucks, and better visibility of small fleet equipment via ELD, among others.”

Shipping: “The government wants to monetize your mailbox. The Trump administration says the U.S. Postal Service could sell mailbox access to companies like FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Corp. to help shore up its sagging financials” [Wall Street Journal].

The Bezzle: “Turner Construction, Bloomberg LP execs face bribery, bid-rigging charges” [Construction Dive]. “Those indicted include Bloomberg’s former head of global construction, Anthony Guzzone, and former construction manager, Michael Campana. … [Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance] said ‘inside information’ about the Bloomberg project was given to subcontractors in order to help them win contracts for the job. The defendants, he said, inflated their budgets with fake invoices and purchase orders and even filed phony applications for women-owned business status. Subcontractors allegedly gave the former Bloomberg and Turner executives cash and other incentives like vacations and free home renovations in exchange for their lucrative contracts. ‘Today’s indictments and guilty pleas,’ Vance said, ‘demonstrate that if you are engaging in organized crime that blocks fair competition in Manhattan, our prosecutors will find you, turn over every stone, and shut you down.'” • Hmm. Accounting control fraud at Bloomberg? Owned by potential Presidential candidate Michael “Mike” Bloomberg?

The Bezzle: “Bitcoin Miners Reel As IPO Dreams Crumble” [Safe Haven]. “The Bitcoin rout has claimed many victims, from everyday investors to medium-sized miners, but now, even some of the industry’s biggest names [Bitmain, Canaan, and Ebang] are being forced to face the music… Like Bitmain and Canaan, Ebang International Holdings, the world’s second largest mining equipment producer, had filed the paperwork for a now-uncertain IPO…. Though financial disclosure is a rare occurrence in the world of bitcoin miners, the general assumption is that the three companies are being forced to adjust their valuations as a result of the downturn in crypto markets.” • I only hope the insiders were able to cash out in time!

The Bezzle: “Tesla sues its alleged saboteur for $167 million” [Engadget]. “Tesla wants Martin Tripp to pay up big time — it’s seeking a whopping $167 million from the former employee, which company chief Elon Musk once called a saboteur. The electric vehicle maker filed a lawsuit against Tripp earlier this year, accusing the former employee of stealing gigabytes’ worth of proprietary information and giving it to outsiders, as well as of making false claims to reporters…. The former employee, who used to work as a process engineer at Tesla’s Gigafactory, filed a complaint of his own with the Securities and Exchange Commission in June. He accused Tesla of making “material omissions and misstatements” to investors as well as of putting cars with safety issues on the road. Tripp also tweeted photos of what he said were images showing Tesla’s flawed manufacturing practices and handling of scrap at the lithium battery factory.”

Tech: “Charlemont says ‘no’ to Comcast” [Greenfield Reporter]. “Special town meeting voters turned out in full force Thursday night and ultimately defeated a proposal from Comcast Cable Co. for cable internet. The offer, for Comcast to bring cable broadband access to up to 96 percent of households, at a cost to the town of $462,123 plus interest, was defeated by a roughly 20-vote margin, according to Robert Handsaker, chairman of the town’s Broadband Committee…. The Comcast proposal would have saved the town about $1 million, but it would not be a town-owned broadband network. The defeated measure means that Charlemont will likely go forward with a $1.4 million municipal town network, as was approved by annual town meeting voters in 2015.”

Mr. Market: “Yield Curve Inversion Can Cause A Crisis Through Reflexivity” [Upfina]. “This idea that sentiment drives reality is working in late 2018. Investors are concerned with the yield curve, making it one of the primary factors in our view that’s causing the selloff in stocks. Instead of using the indicator to forecast a recession, investors are selling before the curve even inverts (10 year – 2 year) because they think they know what will happen next. When everyone knows about an indicator, it can either cease driving alpha or speed up the process. Instead of forecasting a recession in over a year, it is causing weakness now.”

Gaia

“Corporate planning for future climate change is stuck in a business-as-usual past” [Anthropocene]. “A U.S.-U.K. team of researchers analyzed the text of climate change plans prepared in 2016 by 1,630 companies, including many large multinational corporations. The study represents the first comprehensive analysis of climate risk reporting across multiple industries and sectors of the global economy…. [W]hile many companies may prefer to remain hush-hush about climate change in public, the actual bottom-line is that outright climate denialism isn’t very prevalent in the business world… The researchers also identified five ‘blind spots’ of corporate climate change planning. First, corporations have a tendency to underestimate the magnitude and potential cost of climate change risks. Second, they only consider direct impacts to business operations rather than taking into account broader risks, such as projections that climate change will reduce people’s income and thus drive down global demand for goods and services. Third, most companies report only the up-front cost of climate change adaptation measures. Few calculate the return on investment, the relative cost effectiveness of different strategies, or the cost of doing nothing. Relatedly, they mostly ignore the huge win-win potential of ecosystem-based adaptation. This strategy is currently in use by only 3.3% of companies, and is “likely to remain largely untapped until the costs of all strategies are better articulated,” the researchers say. And finally, most corporate adaptation strategies assume that climate change risk is basically linear.” • In other words, we need the State.

“East Antarctica is losing ice faster than anyone thought” [Nature]. “East Antarctica was supposed to be the stable side of the icy continent, whose western flank is losing ice fast1. But glaciologists are finding that the closer they look at East Antarctica, the more change they see…. Four small glaciers in a region known as Vincennes Bay are thinning at surprisingly fast rates…. The glaciers are responding to warm ocean waters that now reach much closer to East Antarctica’s icy edge than in years past — and might continue to do so.”

“Going in for the Shill” [The Baffler]. On Joe Manchin, ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. (Thanks, Chuck! [waves]). There’s lots more but this detail I didn’t know: “[L]kely you, me, and most other Americans walking around have a toxic DuPont-produced chemical called C8 taking up residency in our tissues as I write. Above a certain threshold, C8 might lead to kidney cancer, or it might just cause your prostate to swell to the size of a regulation, tournament-legal bocce ball. When DuPont was ordered to pay $196 million in C8-related damages in 2008, then-governor Manchin filed an amicus brief urging the State Supreme Court to review the judgment—after conferring with DuPont executives.” • Yech.

“Mountain Valley Pipeline sued, Atlantic Coast Pipeline halted” [Construction Dive]. “Both the $4.6 billion Mountain Valley Pipeline and $7 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline suffered significant legal setbacks in Virginia last week, with the state filing suit against Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast officials halting construction in the wake of more legal questions around its permit.” • Good. All projects tht make it easier to take carbon out of the ground should be opposed where found.

The 420

“Weed on-demand: Couriers, retailers chafe at pot delivery restrictions” [Freight Waves]. “Cannabis is now legal in 10 states, but getting pot delivered to your home is not exactly like calling Uber Eats. And for would-be entrepreneurs, securing a license to deliver pot is no easy task…. California boasts a flourishing legal delivery market. Licensed retailers who use Eaze, an online cannabis marketplace and delivery app, have made hundreds of thousands of deliveries around the state since the sale of recreational pot started a year ago, according to the Los Angeles Times.”

Guillotine Watch

Happy birthday:

@Jack’s Apple watch has an app that gazes at the user’s navel…

Class Warfare

“Revealed: Google’s ‘two-tier’ workforce training document” [Guardian]. “The two-tier system has complicated labor activism at Google. After 20,000 workers joined a global walkout on 1 November, the company quickly gave in to one of the protesters’ demands by ending forced arbitration in cases of sexual harassment – but only for FTEs.” • Well, naturally.

“Football Nation” [The Baffler]. “All this money and all that power and all those endless identical parties populated by all these utterly mediocre and perfectly feckless people, all the ridiculous feuds and childish posturing and stupid status-driven spats up top and all that all-too-real carnage underneath—it runs on rails, and it runs all the time. The fathomlessly entitled dauphins in both camps will, depending on the day and their whims, bully you into bowing reverently before the national anthem or demand your deferential civility as they blast racist lies into your face. It’s a business and it’s a game, but also it’s not.” • BOOM. As they say.

“Major private research funders make secretive offshore investments, raising ethical concerns” [Nature]. “A few years ago, scientists funded by the Wellcome Trust, one of the world’s wealthiest private philanthropies, published sobering findings about the deadly effects of air pollution. In a long-term study of elderly residents of Hong Kong, China, those exposed to higher levels of smog—especially tiny particles of soot produced by burning fossil fuels—were more likely to die of cancer than people who breathed cleaner air…. The trust does not highlight, however, that some of the more than $1.2 billion it has handed out annually in recent years comes from investments in companies that contribute to the same problems the philanthropy wants to solve. Not long before the Hong Kong study was published, for example, the trust became an investor in Varo Energy, a company based in Cham, Switzerland, that sells fuel to shipping firms. One of Varo’s main products is bunker fuel for marine engines: a cheap, sulfurous residue of oil refining that is a major source of soot pollution.”

News of the Wired

“The Historical Profession Is Committing Slow-motion Suicide” [War on the Rocks]. ” Since 2008, the number of students majoring in history in U.S. universities has dropped 30 percent, and history now accounts for a smaller share of all U.S. bachelor’s degrees than at any time since 1950. Although all humanities disciplines have suffered declining enrollments since 2008, none has fallen as far as history… In recent decades, the academic historical profession has become steadily less accessible to students and the general public — and steadily less relevant to addressing critical matters of politics, diplomacy, and war and peace.” • In theory, as a humanities major and fan, I’m sympathetic to the article, and a lament for lost forms of scholarship. Then I read the author bios:

Hal Brands, a historian trained at Yale University, is the Henry A. Kissinger Distinguished Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies in Johns Hopkins University. His most recent book is The Lessons of Tragedy: Statecraft and World Order, with Charles Edel.

Francis J. Gavin, a historian trained at the University of Pennsylvania, is the Giovanni Agnelli Distinguished Professor and Director of the Henry A. Kissinger Center for Global Affairs at the School of Advanced International Studies in Johns Hopkins University.

I mean, there’s “politics, diplomacy, and war and peace,” and then there’s politics, diplomacy, and war and peace. Or rather, there’s “politics, diplomacy, and war and peace,” and then there’s genocidal madness.

Whatever “Fortnite” might be. Thread:

And then there’s this:

Better than concussions in football, I suppose.

* * *

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: “Seems like it’s pretty rare that I see a Mexican Bush Sage (that name always sounds inverted to me) without seeing at least one hummingbird in the vicinity.” I’ve got to give TH credit; hummingbirds are not easy to photograph. I had heard there were hummingbirds in Maine, and I bought a red plastic sugar-water bird feeder to attract them, which didn’t work, and I wasn’t going to be refilling it anyhow; that’s too much like work. But it turned out all I needed to do was plant bee balm!

* * *

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 Guest Post, 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.

233 comments

    1. Lee

      Alert Elon Musk!

      Actually, I’ve got a relative who is I believe deeply underwater and his marriage is on the rocks because he digs bitcoin so much.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        I’ve got a relative who is I believe deeply underwater and his marriage is on the rocks because he digs bitcoin so much.

        Honey, you know I love you, but there’s no way i’m letting go of invisible means…

        Reply
  1. Boy Down The Lane

    What we need is a Moore’s Law that has to do with the proper development and nurturing of brain cells…. On the one hand, everyone is likely to get up in arms about tots spending too much time in front of electronic screens and not up in arms enough about what is available to them on those screens. Everyone knows (I hope) to turn off their TV’s (the destruction of marriage and the middle class is playing out in sit-coms as we speak — still — epecially those produced by Chuck Lorre), but the brain will remember what it learned and where it learned it and may don a lime green vest to eliminate that which is not productive.

    Reply
  2. Kokuanani

    Lambert, I thought when you said you’d share your views on the Oval Office Tussle “later” that I’d find them further down the thread. Instead I have to wait until tomorrow?

    BTW, there are a number of good comments/tweets around the internet on Pence.

    Reply
      1. Clive

        Darn, I hate those end-of-season cliff-hangers.

        This made the news here also. It was pitched (by BBC, that’s where I saw it) as that nasty brutish old Trump being rude and bombastic to nice Nancy. Who, as a woman, somehow deserved some kind of sympathy vote, apparently.

        What I saw was Pelosi doing an exhibiting of a bad case of being able to dish it out but not take it. Sitting there like the Ice Queen in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe was not a valid substitute for, when someone invites you to participate in a debate — which is what Trump did, albeit in his usual rock-‘em sock-‘em goading style — you win the debate by advancing good arguments. You don’t win it by coming over all “I’m far too superior and important to be talking to the likes of you“ nor by lowering the tone and talking about tinkle contests.

        And just imagine if Trump had said something like “You don’t apply for a job at Hooters if you have to pad your brassiere” or some such similar low shot. Quelle horreur! Twitter would have keeled over. But Pelosi can say similar, that’s apparently fine and dandy.

        Reply
        1. Fiery Hunt

          Exactly. I thought beyond the bombastic, goad ’em style of Trump (which the “superior” elites can’t get past!), I thought the exchange will solidify the impression of Trump as a tell-it-like-it-is, what-you-see-is-what-you-get politician and of the Dems as smarmy investment brokers/car salesmen who can’t help but lie because the truth is they hate you. Pelosi in particular came across as the snobby rich girl who can’t hide her disdain (for both the President AND the “deplorables”) Worse, she doesn’t feel she needs to…

          I fully expect a “Mean Girls” meme any moment now.

          Reply
        2. openandshut

          Sitting there like the Ice Queen in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe

          Y’all just can’t help yourselves I guess. Progressive!

          Reply
      2. jsn

        My eyes kept sliding off the video like eggs off teflon, but from the parts I could focus on Nancy and Chuck managed to lower themselves to the emotional level of 4 year olds responding to a bully in front of their parents.

        Trump was hectoring, but that’s who he is, and particularly in their inability to make eye contact, the attempt to appear above him lowered N & C considerably.

        Three scumbags and a stuffed sock in the Oval Office is probably a lot more normal than we imagine, but it is interesting to see how base it all really is.

        Reply
      3. DJG

        All right, Lambert, for you I watched the whole video clip on *full screen mode.*

        –Pelosi was coherent. It may sound like bad civics-class flashbacks when she mentioned Article I, but you have Madison up top. This is how Americans talk about the Constitution and the Founding.
        –Pelosi kept acting as if Trump had ambushed her. And these are the same people who held a sit-in in the Congress? She gets played by the oldest trick in the book? Oh, look who’s still in the room…
        –Pelosi: The “my strength” thing may have been for the cameras. It sounded like whining, though.
        –Schumer. Dumb thy name is Schumer. I guess that he must have some important characteristic. Super-weasel? But: Trying to insult Indiana in front of Pence? Maybe it’s that I’m from Illinois, but even I don’t call a Hoosier a Hoosier in front of a Hoosier.
        –Pence. There are many things wrong with this man. First, a grown man doesn’t keep his jacket buttoned when he sits, and he certainly doesn’t let a length of red necktie hang out the bottom. Second, Pence just proved the uselessness of the vice presidency, even though he is constitutionally the presiding officer of the Senate. He has a legislative role here. But he’d rather be the Silver Fox of Mystery, taking a few moments to pray to the Lord of Creation (and Indiana).
        –Trump. Sixteen minutes of corporate speak. This is what “meetings” are like in corporate America. This is fascism? No, this is the overweening self-regard of the U.S. managerial class. Every one of us who has worked in an office has sat through a meeting of bilge, self-assertion, and captiousness just like this.
        –Trump. The most telling line is about the contagious diseases. Trump expressed the most basic form of fear of strangers: They are dirty and spread illness. He didn’t repeat it. Even he recognized that it was too visceral, too revealing.
        –Lesson? This is how sausage is made. That’s an American truism–law making is like sausage making. You don’t want to go to a pig slaughter and sausage-making session and negotiation among political parties over legislation, all the while pretending you don’t know what is going to happen.

        Reply
        1. ChiGal in Carolina

          Mostly agree, though I think Schumer came off worse than Pelosi cuz at least she was able to look Trump in the eye and his crack about N Dakota and Indiana was totally kindergarten.

          She did more damage to herself afterward imho by snarking about Trump’s manhood (even if true). What “being the mom” means, Lambert, is she was the adult in the room.

          Pence is indeed a stuffed sock who reminds me of nothing so much as a carved wooden puppet from the Black Forest. At least the other three seemed human. He is a bot.

          Trump totally comes off like a buffoon but he did seem to be enjoying himself, which is perversely appealing. Yes, he lies, he is ridiculous, but he didn’t exude distaste like Schumer & Pelosi or seem devoid of feeling like Pence.

          To his base, I am certain he was “relatable”.

          Reply
          1. RUKidding

            I mostly agree w your take. Pelosi imo mostly blew it w her awful comments afterwards. Otherwise she did ok-ish given having to deal w Trump’s bullying argle bargle.

            Schumer is worthless especially as a so called leader AND he interrupted/talked over Pelosi as much as Trump did. Ugh.

            I find nothing redeeming about Trump & for me he only made the point that he’s a narcissistic bully without facts. I totally disagree w the Wall. Let him yell at Obregon to make Mexico pay for it like he said 400 times during & after his campaign.

            Pence is effen weird. Auditioning for the role of sock puppet???

            I don’t care if they do more of this on tv or not. Unsure that it really is all that educational. However, it wasn’t a debate, which some people seem (to me) to think it was. It was sausage making, which is bound to be messy.

            Trump’s WWE/Apprentice reality tv approach to everything detracts more than it adds to this type of process of negotiation. I get it that his base loves it, but it’s not particularly useful.

            Reply
            1. Duck1

              Don’t watch TV, so most of Trump impressions are second hand. Not in his camp. The HRC Democrat types on certain blogs portray him with various psychiatric problems and onset of dementia. Seems fairly controlled, had his talking points and stuck with them. Schumer and Pelosi seemed out of their depth, though not in the weeds if they were manipulated into the scrum. Seems like the shut down business is one of those rubber glue arguments, with Trump thinking it will stick on the blue team. ??

              Reply
            2. openandshut

              You are on a roll. This seems closer to the truth than most and

              However, it wasn’t a debate, which some people seem (to me) to think it was. It was sausage making, which is bound to be messy.

              is especially spot on.

              Reply
          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            > HOUSE SPEAKER-DESIGNATE PELOSI: When the President brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.

            Um, that wasn’t Trump. From the White House transcript:

            HOUSE SPEAKER-DESIGNATE PELOSI: When the President brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.

            From the WaPo transcript:

            SCHUMER: When the president brags that he won North Dakota and Indiana, he’s in real trouble.

            Translation, whoever said it: Deplorables in deplorable states don’t matter. (That’s the only place “Indiana” was mentioned in the transcript. Trump echoes “North Dakota.”)

            And Schumer said it (~12:00, wouldn’t it be great if Jeff Bezos could afford time codes).

            Reply
          3. Lambert Strether Post author

            > What “being the mom” means, Lambert, is she was the adult in the room.

            I hate that phrase with the fire of a billion suns. The adults in the room brought us Iraq, the foreclosure crisis, the bailouts, the destruction of the Fourth Amendment, declining life expectancy….

            Reply
            1. ChiGal in Carolina

              It’s what she meant. I guess the expression must refer to presentation of self; certainly no one can claim that adults don’t do bad, misguided, downright evil things.

              Reply
          4. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well . . . . I jusssst got done watching the video. Nancy looked sniffy and Chuckie looked smirky and Trump looked happy.

            What!? . . . Indiana and North Dakota are not worth winning? They are not real states? Who does Chuckie think he is!?

            Trumpie gave the appearance of caring about product, and Nancy and Chuckie gave the appearance of caring about process.

            Reply
        2. John

          Trump was showing his desperation. Ten terrorists caught at the border? Name them please. Trump was trying to have it both ways, his border wall was a resounding success and we are in terrible danger of the invading hordes. Schumer called him on this. Trump was somehow driven to claim how much of the wall was built (false), and how successful it is. The laugh out loud line was when Trump claimed people were streaming in around the edges of the wall. Trump kept repeating wall over and over like it was his safe word.

          Schumer did do one thing well, he got Trump to completely own the government shutdown, something Republicans have been running from.

          I heard reports that Trump was in a rage afterwards about how badly it went. The funniest thing was that he blamed Pence! Comedy gold. Can you imagine Pence interjecting, “Step aside sir, I got this.”

          Reply
        3. RudyM

          The most telling line is about the contagious diseases. Trump expressed the most basic form of fear of strangers: They are dirty and spread illness. He didn’t repeat it. Even he recognized that it was too visceral, too revealing.

          Cuz obviously it’s just irrational fear and not a real issue. It’s not as if third world countries have certain contagious health issues that are largely unknown in developed countries.

          But it sounds deep to focus on discourse instead of facts.

          Reply
        4. Oregoncharles

          I AM from Indiana, and I can tell you that “Hoosier” is an honorific. And I learned, just today, that in fact Pence is from Columbus, my home town; one of my brothers went to school with him.

          Which doesn’t make him any less of a (family-blog), but does give me a little more of a stake.

          Anyway, Hoosier is what indianans call themselves, for reasons just evidenced by the alternative I just used, and not an insult. The source of the word is a total mystery, though.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            The story that I heard, was there was a rush order from Madame Tussauds, because the real Mike Pence was busy being groomed to be the Chief Executive.

            Reply
      4. cnchal

        The Wall’s price is $5 billion or about one Nimitz unit, which when one considers the trillion per year wasted on the military is chump change. Would be good for bricklayers though.

        As for the interpersonal dynamics on display, Pence was the most disturbing of them. What exactly was his purpose, being there? I do enjoy watching Trump make everyone else squirm in their seats, while he is on the edge of his and folding arms near the end was a classic “I better get my way” gesture. I’m sure he really liked Pelosi’s finger wagging at him.

        By the way, I squirmed too.

        Reply
      5. UserFriendly

        My opinion before reading below Lambert @2:31pm

        I don’t think it’s nearly the win that morons, like say Jonathan Chait claim it was. Literally no one but the wonkiest wonks will have any clue why Chuck and Nancy don’t want to make the country safer. It is the middle of winter and therefore the stupidest time for democrats to sit back and let only these things close:

        Closed
        Some disaster-recovery efforts
        Many government research operations
        Most federal office buildings

        I can already see the GOP voters outraged at the federal government for stopping important time sensitive climate change studies, or rebuilding disasters in the GOP strongholds of California and Puerto Rico. Not to mention so many of the GOP’s cherished bureaucrats in the administrative state that will be suddenly jobless. I bet Trump’s base makes him cave in a year, maybe 2. The Democrats on the other hand will be able to ride it out long term, like a week maybe.

        The only time the GOP cares about a shutdown is summer travel season and the national parks. Way to blow it Chuck and Nancy.

        Reply
      6. Phil in KC

        Chiming in late here. My view:

        1. At 1:30 in, something I’ve never seen: Trump laughs!

        2. Trump was Trump. I kept wondering what a real Speaker or Senatorial heavyweight of yore might have done here. What if instead of Chuck and Nancy you had Tip O’Neal and Lyndon Johnson? Would the discussion have been more adult, nuanced, and productive?

        3. Kabuki theater. Who thought this up? Bad Kabuki theater! No one came out of this looking better than when they went in.

        4. Transparency? If that’s what this means, then by all means, curtain them off.

        5. Way to go, Chuck! If you had four senate seats from Indiana and ND, then you’d be the Senate majority leader. But as I understand it, you are more interested in disaffected Republicans in suburban Philadelphia than you are in disgruntled steelworkers in the upper midwest. Go figure.

        6. Nancy could have come off as the adult in the room if she hadn’t spoiled her performance with totally unnecessary remarks about tinkling skunks.

        Reply
    1. integer

      My thoughts:

      Pelosi states that she wants to debate border security in private (i.e. away from public scrutiny), and Schumer, without any sense of irony, references the Washington Post. The body language of both suggests extreme discomfort. Pelosi then exits the meeting and calls Trump a peeing skunk and one of her aides claims that in a private D party meeting afterwards, she said that Trump’s desire to build a wall is rooted in insecurity of his manhood. Oh, and shortly afterwards Mika Brzezinski says that Pompeo is a “wannabe dictator’s butt boy”.

      To say Trump has triggered the liberal establishment would be a vast understatement.

      Reply
    2. Elizabeth Burton

      Should I be concerned that I posted this link twice on Wednesday, and it failed to appear both times?

      Have I been made persona non grata? Was it something I said?

      That piece from ACLU makes it clear why suddenly the entire focus of the corporate media is on stirring up the populace to demand instant passage of the spending bill.

      Reply
  3. DonCoyote

    Do not read the Biden/Romney Politico piece if you are eat, drinking, or have eaten within the last xx hours.

    Running in a Democratic primary could deeply damage Biden’s legacy.

    is at least good for a chuckle.

    The speech salved some of the grief of those in our nation who worry that McCain’s passing has left a gaping hole in America’s moral fabric.

    is where I lost it.

    who worry that McCain ’s passing has left a gaping hole in America’s moral fabric.

    Fixed it for you, but still too nauseated to proceed.

    Reply
  4. Jason Boxman

    As a TVC at Google, I wasn’t even allowed access to the local, non-work specific miscellaneous list for stuff like apartments for rent, which would have been helpful. I stumbled across things, like all hands meetings, on my own. We weren’t prevented from partaking in the food, at least, but you’re certainly “the other”.

    Despite what the Google spokesperson claims in the story, I did the same work as Googlers during my time there.

    Reply
  5. Wukchumni

    Our neighbors have 8 or so larger hummingbird feeders around the periphery of their house, and it’s pretty common to have 6-10 noshing at one time @ each feeder, with 3 or 4 species in the mix. The sound is other worldly, like that of a Theremin.

    Me, i’d never do that, as they’ve been feeding them nectar for 20 years now, and that’s a lot of generations of hummingbirds that only know a free lunch, and when the couple passes on in a decade or 2, there’ll be a mad scramble for nourishment among the birdbrains, not that they’ll be happy with the usual puny amount of sustenance that comes from flowers, etc., compared to watered sugar.

    That said, it’s a hell of a spectacle watching them @ the buffet, chowing down.

    Reply
    1. BhamDan

      The ones we get here in the southeast will fight to the death rather than share a feeder. It’s astonishing to watch when there’s so much sugar water and no reason to expend so much energy fighting for such a plentiful resource, with a nonstop flight over the Caribbean looming

      Reply
  6. rd

    Probably the best plant east of the Mississippi for hummingbirds is the native coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) https://vnps.org/wildflowers-of-the-year/wildflower-year-2014-coral-honeysuckle-lonicera-sempervirens/

    It is an evergreen short vine that flowers from spring through the fall. It quickly becomes a regular stop of hummingbirds on their garden tours. This starts them coming to a garden early in the growing season and then they find the other plants like bee balm as those plants go in and out of bloom. In upstate NY, the “Major Wheeler” variety does really well and blooms from May through October.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I actually have honeysuckle in Maine — though I actually had to plant it, for which my friends in the South mock me — because I like the scent. But honeysuckle didn’t attract them; only the bee balm did. Perhaps because it’s red?

      Reply
      1. rd

        Which honeysuckle? Hummingbirds love the native one I listed above, but not necessarily the others, especially the non-native invasive ones from Eurasia which unfortunately have taken over the understory in our woodlands in many areas. The “Major Wheeler” and some other varieties are pinkish red but the hummers come to my “John Clayton” yellow variety as well.

        Reply
  7. rd

    Trump controlled the conversation 90% of the time and was always facing the camera unlike Schumer and Pelosi. I think Mike Pence was trying not to look too much iike a plant pot.

    Trump kept repeating “wall”, “border security”, “much of it is built”, and “pouring in”. Pelosi and Schumer focused on “inside Beltway” points. So Trump reinforced his base but probably didn’t sway anybody who pays attention to details and facts while Schumer and Pelosi got their talking point of Trump owning a shutdown without getting much else.

    So both sides got what they wanted. In the end, I think it will be up to the House Republicans to shove a wall build up to the Senate if Trump wants to win bigly on this if the government shuts down.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Sorry, but Bolton is probably so Fundie he doesn’t think that women should be ahead of men, except to give it.
      The feminist ‘oath keepers’ are probably right in saying that there is a special place in H— for people like me. True that. I’m already living there.

      Reply
      1. Watt4Bob

        I’m sure you’re right about Bolton.

        There are no ‘special’ places in H__, so that’s not a testament to the ‘oath keepers’ grasp of reality.

        And yeah, that’s one of the worst things about H__, knowing that you’re there, having enough experience to compare.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          I really liked C.S.Lewis’ take on H—. A giant back stabbing bureaucracy. Somewhat like Inside the Beltway. (According to reports from intrepid travelers who have visited there.)

          Reply
  8. rd

    Re: Biden compared to Churchill at age 76

    The Churchill of the 1950s was not the Churchill of WW II. He was still an experienced politician but was not driving change. He had a weak cabinet with people like Eden who ended up being failures as Prime Minister. Probably Churchill’s biggest achievement in the 1950s was the education of the young Queen Elizabeth which he was uniquely positioned to do. I don;t think the US has a young monarch on the throne.

    In WW II, Churchill had learned from a lifetime of experience (including some monumental blunders like Gallipolli) and had developed a solid world view suitable for wartime Britain. He was fading by the early 50s though.

    Reply
    1. wilroncanada

      rd
      Biden compared to Churchill at 76?
      Churchill was then well past his prime….more like Churchill’s cigar. Just about burned out and chewed up.

      Reply
  9. Quentin

    My compliments to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) for deciding not to join an AIPAC propaganda junket to Israel for new congresspeople. Brava!

    Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      So I checked up on the Oath that she would have taken as a Senator and found that she would have said something like this-

      “I, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

      Upon careful examination, I can find no reference to the State of Israel in there whatsoever.

      Reply
  10. nick

    My reactions to the Pelosi/houseplant/Trump/Schumer meeting is mostly questions. I am looking at this from a risk management and internal controls perspective. The tl;dr is this: there are so many instances where this embarrassing performance by the president could have been stopped; how could each of them have been missed? Unless it was by design. I can’t tell if this (this public meeting where the president demonstrates his ignorance) was done purposefully and who orchestrated it or if the president just decided to wing it and no one who works for him or ostensibly cares about him (like maybe his daughter or son in law) was able to stop it.

    Who knew in advance the president was going to monologue and then open the floor to Pelosi and Schumer? Did anyone war game that scenario w the president beforehand? There’s this period of silence for several seconds before the president looks to his right in the distance and says, “okay.” Who was that person? What did Nancy and Chuck say when they were told there was going to be a public portion of the meeting at the beginning? Were they surprised by this? Did they agree beforehand?

    What was Houseplant thinking saying nothing at all? Why didn’t Houseplant laugh at the president’s joke about the Washington Post at 8:57? I thought his reason for being there is loyal goon? Wouldn’t this have made a perfect opportunity to demonstrate your loyalty by somehow forcing the meeting to end and saving the president face?Houseplant’s behavior is the most confusing thing about this. Is he in fact in fear of the president? Is he allowed to speak in the president’s presence?

    Why is Sarah Sanders standing out of the president’s line of sight towards the end? Since it isn’t her, who is supposed to give the president the signal to wrap it up? If they don’t have that person, why not? Am I to understand that there is no real time mechanism to extricate the president from situations like this? I am baffled no one has thought of this and implemented it. If you actually cared about the president and his image, how could you be in that room and just let this happen?

    I know this is already too long. I am just kind of stunned that Republicans are letting the leverage and power of the presidency be squandered like this. The president quite clearly doesn’t understand the politics, doesn’t understand when he is being made fun of (to his face!), and hasn’t taken the basic steps to protect himself from blunders. Unless this is all being done advantageously.

    Fascinating scene.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      I posted this above, but it appears to have either gone into moderator status or been eaten by a black hole. Still, it’s important enough to bear repeating.

      In my opinion, that entire performance was meant to distract the public from what Pelosi and Schumer are preparing to do via the spending bill: throw out the First Amendment and make BDS illegal

      Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are reportedly leaning toward slipping the text into the spending bill, which needs to pass for the government to stay open.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        If that amendment gets in, let the government shut down, and force the DoD to curtail all operations for the duration of a shutdown.

        Reply
    1. lambert strether

      This is a pro-level golf course to be designed by Tiger Woods, not something municipal. The public, it is said, will still be allowed in….

      Reply
      1. Watt4Bob

        When I was a kid, the route to the lake went through the park, and it was exciting to reach Jackson Park and all the green grass and trees, golden statues and people enjoying nature.

        It’s insulting to think that experience can/will be replaced with a useless monument to a man, any man, and maybe especially Obama.

        I hope my home town revolts.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Define ‘access’. Nope, not going to happen. It will only be for the elites. What is the bet that the Trump Presidential Library will feature a Casino built for by taxpayers on what will be formally publicly-owned land? It would be in New York of course and as far as I can see, there is plenty of acreage available on the other end of Liberty Island for it.

          Reply
        2. Lambert Strether Post author

          I mean what I wrote: “The public, it is said, will still be allowed in.” I did a little research, and that’s what proponents said. It stinks of a “promise” that will reneged on later by hedging it about, in good liberal fashion, with complex eligibility requirements: Fees, set times, queuing, dress codes, whatever. It makes no sense that the hoi polloi would be able to mingle with the donor class.

          Reply
  11. rd

    Re: Congresswoman interrupted.

    One of the things I noticed is that Schumer interrupted Pelosi about as often as Trump did. So this appears to be one of the few things that there is bipartisan agreement on.

    Reply
  12. Quentin

    ‘Trump plays a lot of golf, but at least he hasn’t destroyed a park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted in order to do it conveniently.’

    Well, not yet. Wait until he demands that, based on the precedent of the sacred Obama, his presidential library be erected on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 59th Street, diagonally across from Trump Tower, though he’d probably have to locate his golf course somewhere else. Central Park Manhattan: architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect/landscape designer Calvert Vaux.

    I find it especially repugnant of Barack Obama that he demanded and has received the right to locate his ‘booklets library’ on Chicago parkland and, not least, the amount of one dollar a year! What a privileged, preening, silly man.

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      It also shows what Official Chicago thinks of mere Chicagoans, and of Chicago Cultural History. One hopes hundreds of thousands of Black Chicagoans decide to pay it a visit all at the same time . . . ostensibly out of “support and respect” for America’s first “black” President . . . . and dare the Obama Temple Goons to throw them off the property.

      Reply
  13. In the Land of Farmers

    On @Jack mediating…what a joke.

    I also wore my Apple Watch and Oura ring, both in airplane mode. My best meditations always had the least variation in heart rate.

    It will always be quantitative for these dopes. They are so afraid to let go.

    I am sure one they feel they can “measure” mediation they will make trillions off of an app.

    Need to buy domains for the Theranos of mediation health….ideas?

    Reply
    1. DJG

      In the Land of Farmers: If Jack was a serious person, who would (1) know that there is a ten-day silent retreat given all year long at a vipassana center in Pecatonica, Illinois. Yep, right near Hooterville in Jack’s mind. In the “Heartland,” where everyone is a foam-at-the-mouth fundi and (2) that at said center in Pecatonica, they make you turn in your watches and phones and hold them till the end of the silent retreat.

      I’m glad that you read the tweet thread so the rest of us don’t have to.

      No one measures heart rate during meditation. And no one wears a watch.

      What’s an Oura ring? I’m from Illinois, after all… it is related to Uhura?

      Reply
      1. blowncue

        An Oura ring is a sleep and activity tracker. I do not own one, so can’t provide any detail. I see a place for feedback-generating devices as part of therapeutic treatment such as pain management and stress reduction, enabling a patient to connect the dots between specific thoughts, feelings and behaviors and the resulting feedback.

        But yes, perhaps Jack and others will have a moment when a small, still voice within convinces them to “go to manual.”

        Reply
    2. RUKidding

      At most really serious meditation retreats, the retreatants have to part w ALL electronics & technology for the duration of the retreat. The purpose of doing a many days of silent meditation is to be w your self not your electronic gew gahs which distract & totally detract from the whole reason for doing it.

      Gah. What an idiotic maroon.

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        If you want the silent treatment, just go backpacking for a week or 10 days…

        When i’m with a group of say 6 people, you’re all spread out on the trail usually, so silence comes with the territory. You’ll blow it when you make camp and everybody gets all chatty, but those are some of the best conversations going, with no electronic tethers to muck things up.

        Reply
        1. RUKidding

          Agree but not everyone is capable of backpacking. But really the 2 activities are quite different. Different stokes n all.

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            True, not for everybody…

            I’ve walked the High Sierra Trail 5x in the last 25 years, 3 of them solo, and if you really want to be alone in your thoughts, that’s the way to do it. Most people are terrified of being by themselves in the wild, but I find it invigorating.

            Come along on an armchair hike:

            https://modernhiker.com/hike/high-sierra-trail/

            Reply
            1. RUKidding

              I used to backpack a lot but not solo. A bit harder for me now but spend many happy hours hiking all over the High Sierra & elsewhere. Good stuff.

              I see Scott Turner updated Jeremy Shad’s Afoot & Afield in San Diego. Got to hike w Jeremy a few times. Great guy. Sadly he died far too young from some rarer form of cancer. Grateful for his hiking books.

              Thanks for link to that site. V nice.

              Reply
              1. scarn

                Mr. Turner’s work has benefited my family and friends immensely. He’s wonderful at what he does, and any Californian should pay attention to him.

                Reply
      1. RUKidding

        Yes & he’s an idiot. Some retreats actually make attendees hand over their technology to force them to unplug. This dolt is too caught up in his ego but that’s another story.

        Reply
  14. rd

    This is language that China will understand. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/trump-says-hell-step-in-over-huawei-executive-if-needed-cites-progress-over-trade-2018-12-12

    China looks at the Huawei executive arrest as just typical political use of the courts to accomplish political ends. Trump just confirmed that for them.

    My guess is that the arrest itself was not coordinated and orchestrated as that would require organization and communication among multiple agencies, one of which has an interim head. The Trump Administration has not shown any capability of coordinating between agencies to date. They can be good at executing an agenda within a single agency (e.g. USEPA regulation changes etc.) but I don’t think this Administration even knows the phone numbers of other Cabinet members.

    I rarely attribute to a conspiracy what can be explained by incompetence and lack of communication as these conditions are far more prevalent than the ability to do complex machinations between multiple entities in secret.

    Reply
  15. Synoia

    Winston Churchill began his second stint as prime minister in 1951, at age 76. He left office at 80, but served another nine years in Parliament.

    And that’s no recommendation, read Lord Moran’s biography of Churchill.

    Reply
    1. Elizabeth Burton

      It wasn’t meant as a “recommendation.” It was intended to quell the constant iteration that Bernie’s age should preclude his making a run for president in favor of someone younger. It’s a proactive effort by the Democrat establishment to block his doing so.

      Reply
  16. Hana M

    The thing that struck me on the Trump/Schumer/Pelosi video is that Trump really knows how to reduce an issue to a one liner and drive the point home again. And again. And again. He never gets deflected. Neither Schumer nor Pelosi really had the same punch. Apart from wanting to keep The Government open (of course!) what are they really for or against?

    The only other politician I’ve seen who comes close to Trump’s style of debating is Bernie Sanders. Bernie rarely changed his message or failed to reiterate his shtick about income and wealth inequality and “the disastrous Citizens United decision” and the corrosive effect of money in politics. I still think Bernie would have won against Trump and part of the reason (besides the message) is that, like Trump, he never gets deflected and would have been much more effective in the debates than Clinton.

    Reply
  17. clarky90

    Re; “outright climate denialism“.

    The Earth’s “4.543 billion year old climate” is equated with Judaism and the Holocaust? Of course………This makes sense.

    Reply
    1. pretzelattack

      usually that term is shorthand for people or entitities that deny that, for the first time in several billion years, humans are changing the climate by emissions since the industrial revolution. apparently that is not the line most business are taking. even the fossil fuel industry pays lip service to the science, while still trying to undermine it with a propaganda campaign. usually when people bring up the holocaust, it is to drive home the point that a lot of people will die unnecessarily due to a failure to mitigate climate change.

      Reply
  18. Quentin

    Maybe if Jack went back to Vipassana a few more times he might stop referencing his birthday as day that needs to be marked by great deeds? He may have missed the point entirely. Lambert note: it has nothing to do with navel gazing. Jack did what he had to do and seems to have done his best. That’s not the fault of Vipassana.

    Reply
  19. Peter VE

    “The Historical Profession Is Committing Slow-motion Suicide”. It’s not only the historians. The Providence Public Library is busy turning itself into the latest in fashionable destinations. Meanwhile, the books are being de-accessioned. A couple years ago, I started reading the DC Somervell abridgement of Arnold Toynbee’s A Study of History from the Library. A couple of hundred pages in, I returned it. In a twofer for history and libraries, they had got rid of the book when I went back a couple months later to continue reading. (Insert Santayana quote here).

    Reply
    1. lambert strether

      It is said that many library administrators, as opposed to librarians, hate books. Similarly, many university administrators hate education

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      My library has a policy of selling off materials that haven’t been checked out for a year. I’m not sure if that also applies to books but their book collection has been shrinking.

      At any rate I believe this is one of those things they now teach in library school. Apparently those ancient tomes or dvds or cds gathering dust on the shelf are considered some kind of burden. Perhaps the archival function of libraries is now believed to have been taken over by the internet.

      But we have a great library and I’m not complaining. My town has a couple of university libraries where you probably can find older materials of a more scholarly nature.

      Reply
      1. pretzelattack

        the locals have gotten rid of a number of older books, not often checked out. i tried to buy some of them but they just sell them to recyclers if nobody will buy them in bulk for amazon or whatever. wouldn’t let an individual buy them.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          If you really want to put the cat among the pigeons, go to the next board meeting and bring that up. The Public Library was set up to serve the public, not some bureaucrat’s ‘bottom line.’
          Luckily for me, our library sells off not only the long ‘unwanted’ books, but also cartons of second hand books donated by schools, individuals, and the local remaining second hand book store. All sit on shelves in a small side room in the main branch. Browse on Buy! (I suggested that as a ‘motto’ and got the ‘fish eye’ look in return from the library staff.) The lady who owns that emporium told me that she can weasel a tax write off for the occasional ‘public spirited’ donation.

          Reply
    3. RUKidding

      Many library systems these days collaborate regionally w each other. Hence yes it may appear that books & other materials are disappearing from a particular library building. However sharing materials via inter library loan often means you can borrow nearly anything you want, but you may have to request & wait for it.

      I don’t believe that most library administrators “hate books.” Rather I think they are looking to get the biggest bang for their bucks while also finding creative ways to provide relevant & interesting services for their communities.

      I can assure you that library schools aren’t teaching future librarians to hate or dispense w books.

      Reply
      1. Peter VE

        No other library in the state has both volumes of Toynbee/Somervell. There are a few single volumes (of the 10) floating around. The PPL ( a private institution, despite the name) is the preeminent public library in Rhode Island. The stacks have been getting emptier over the past 5 years.

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          Goodwill had a parking lot book sale for 25 cents a copy, and there must’ve been 125 cardboard banker boxes full. I blew $6 on 24 of them, the prize being a thick 3 volume set of H.L. Mencken’s “The American Language”.

          Still can’t get over it, books for a Quarter?

          Reply
          1. RUKidding

            I suppose it’s nice to believe that an organization could just somehow run itself with no one in charge, but I’m at loss to see how a library could be run well with no one in charge.

            Scratches head…

            Reply
        1. RUKidding

          Yes, you did, and I said that most library administrators don’t hate books.

          But I’m not sure what you’re concept of a library administrator is? Not snark. Most Library Administrators ARE librarians who rose up the ranks to become supervisors/directors of the library/library system.

          Unsure if you are actually thinking that “library administrators” are someone who doesn’t work in a library but has some sort of higher level supervisory role – such as, for example, a State/County/City Administrator? In that case, such a person may not be a librarian, and I suppose that such a person may possibly hate books. I couldn’t say for sure.

          Reply
    4. Amfortas the hippie

      maybe a third of my library is sourced from library sales and/or library throw outs.
      everything from a giant latin lexicon to strong’s exhaustive concordance(!) to aristotle to a bunch of fine old dictionaries. and encyclopedias and atlii(one from 1910)
      they’ve been getting rid of stuff, as an “industry”, for some time…as was said, coincident with the rise of “library science and management”, and the installation of coffee bars, computers and exercise rooms.
      They seem to choose what to toss by seeing when it was last checked out…which sounds sort of silicon valley-like, to me.
      One keeps Das Kapital even if it was last checked out in the 70’s.

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      This is so bizarre. You read enough history and you start to recognize current events in a new light. I guess that too many historians went off into left field pursuing more and more specialized topics. Heard about one historian who was the top man in his field – for the history of the first thirty seconds of the industrial revolution. How is history relevant? When the US decided to stick around Afghanistan I remembered something from a 19th century history of the place. That place is also know as the place ‘where empires go to die’. I was going to say I wonder if Bush knew that but read that someone had to explain to him that not all Muslims were the same but that you had Sunni Muslims and Shia Muslims. He was a man fabulously incurious about the world around him so no, he would not have known. The man never had a passport until he became President but thought he knew how to run the world.

      Reply
  20. Cat Burglar

    The article on the suicide of the historical profession reads as if the authors have twigged to the idea that general historical knowledge is necessary for a ruling class to be able to formulate strategy and policy. Almost as if they thought our present handlers were somehow too ignorant to do a good job; I guess rational choice theory is not working out too well. The men running the British empire not only knew how to employ a policy of divide et impera, they knew it, and could even spell it, because they had studied their classics.

    “You can’t follow the game without a program,” and if a Liberal Arts education taught the oppressors what was worth stealing and how to do it, I find that it also teaches what matters in life and the world and how to recognize and stop the schemes of the powerful. If people can’t remember how a scam works (history), then they will be easy swindle again now (politics).

    Years ago, I wanted to be a historian, but the job market was impossible. Unless you had a graduate degree from one of a few schools, you were going to stay in contact faculty hell forever. The nostalgia of the authors for Cold War democracy is touching — haven’t they read a good history of the Vietnam War? — but at least you could get a job as a historian then.

    Reply
    1. Summer

      I think of historical texts like “The Prince.”
      Poli Sci 101. Politicians take it as an instruction manual, others view it as a cautionary text.
      Same with literature like “1984” and “Farenheit 451.”

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        aye! and Livy, and Tacitus and Thucydides(totally germane to history of american empire, 1970- present, especially the cheney admin.)
        It makes me sad that I know only 2 people who read sort of like I do….but it does explain the general lack of comprehension I see all around me.

        Reply
    2. Wukchumni

      I was one of the few that made history pay off, as it was my constant companion when buying and selling the past, I couldn’t get away from it-not that I ever tried.

      My old profession is in the midst of dying by the way, no young people to fill in the void-it can’t hold a candle to the internet/video games etc. If you have collectibles and are counting on them having value when you want to sell a decade or 2 from now, get rid of them toot suite, as in yesterday, but tomorrow would work as well.

      Why should anybody be surprised nobody is all that interested in history, when many adults can’t think beyond what happened last week?

      Reply
          1. polecat

            You didn’t go by the nom de plume of juvenal delinquent in a relatively recent past commenting life, by chance ?? You remind me of said digital avatar who posted on Calculated Risk back in the 00’s..

            Reply
    3. scarn

      The ruling class has to reproduce itself culturally and ideologically or they get revolution which prevents them from reproducing themselves materially. I expect the nostalgia for the heights of cold war stem from the fact that back then the ruling class had to assign resources to cultural and ideological production to fight said cold war. This paid a lot of academic wages. Contemporary bourgeoisie don’t feel the threat from heavily armed states run by anti-capitalists bent on exporting revolution and prole ideology, so they have less reason to invest in workers who create ideology. Heck, they don’t really invest in the public arts. These are the worst bourgeoisie for western art and culture since 1789, in my opinion. It’s a serious sign of their imminent demise.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        If you look back at the 1918 American Expeditionary Force to Archangel, supposedly “protecting” American weapons sitting in the port because their delivery was interrupted, the Cold War wasn’t caused by fear of a heavily armed state. They were really deathly afraid of the Soviets ability to export revolution. That’s why neither my high school nor municipal libraries had a single book on Communism. TPTB feared that even a description of the concept would be so attractive to their underlings that it could not be risked.

        Reply
  21. skippy

    Ref – Fortnight.

    Psychological IT platform architecture with monetized individual upgrades as an income stream.

    Teletubbies on roids ….

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      The poor buggers sit for extended periods of time playing games on a screen will eventually get ‘roids.
      New professional classification: Video Gaming Proctologist. Let future best of class proctology graduates get the “Halo Prize.”

      Reply
        1. skippy

          See below – “Actually there is a swelling tide of studies which show musculoskeletal, vision, and cognitive issues with game playing for more than 30 min sessions or on a regular basis.”

          Reply
        2. ambrit

          Blast! Cannot come up with a sufficiently sophisticated play on ‘tunnel.’ Note to self: Learn to think outside the screen.

          Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Seeing lots of stories on TV advertised how evil Fortnite is and how bad it is. In reading that article, could this be the 21st century equivalent to hanging out with your friends at the mall, especially since so many of them have closed? I have seen clips of games like Battlefield V and Ring of Elysium and they are so highly structured and rigid but Fortnite is not like that at all.
      With games like Fortnite and PUBG when a player’s character is killed or blown up, half the time the player erupts into hysterical laughter in the way that it happened. See the first few seconds at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TInLne0Pd8k as an example (some language in video). Players who swear and curse are laughed at and mocked and clips of their reactions make it to YouTube as fun clips. I’d be too old & slow to play it but it is fun to watch.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Actually there is a swelling tide of studies which show musculoskeletal, vision, and cognitive issues with game playing for more than 30 min sessions or on a regular basis.

        My reference to the Teletubbies is a direct reference to child psychology and neurological research used in branding kids as young as 2 to 3 and the changes at 5 and so forth.

        My comment on “Psychological IT platform architecture” is also a reference to psychological architecture used by many industries, but Casinos and Shopping Malls are the strongest examples – went through this all back in the early NC days. Hence why some of the best in their fields are bought off with huge sums to facilitate the near and long term profit it creates for these businesses.

        In fact I remember an old post here on NC about youth fashion where ex ad – PR sorts started bespoke businesses which utilized the advent of the small hand cam to scour teen hang outs, front running organic fashion trends. At the end of the day all the scouts came back to HQ and then video was sifted through a team consensus and they would decide on the most likely trend setters, so the information could be – sold on – to one of the various big agencies or big fashion houses. Basically they took the IP of the creative kids and claimed it as their own work and then took profit so other industry sorts would not have to spend on R&D.

        On another note I took Microsoft and Apple to the back of the shed for about 5K some years ago in erroneous charges related to the kids. This was also about the time Apple started transitioning from a computer manufacture and morphed into a financial concern, but hay, all that bill padding sure smoothed out that bump in the road …. so glad I could help …

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Sorry mate. I underestimated your punmanship. You obviously meant ‘roids’ to serve a double meaning. Teletubbies on steroids and Teletubbies sitting on hemorrhoids. I bow down and make praise.

          Reply
          1. skippy

            Wellie if you take your utilization and a fix it to the mental cortex and one visualizes alien probes ….

            Actually colours and geometric shapes discerned by 2 to 3 year olds [round edges and primary colours] is less developed than say 5 year olds that can discern sharp edges and more nuanced or complex colour combinations e.g. the conditioning is targeted specifically at age cohorts at getting the visual branding impregnated – the earlier the better.

            I guess in the NC perspective its akin to falling into some concocted ideological narrative, once that occurs the recipients bias condition will invariably lead them to always select the right information in the market place of ideas – with the perception that it was an individual choice.

            As a side note I watched a game clan interrupt normal game play, over a protracted period, with hacks [aimbot] and in game text spam or noise to diminish others enjoyment, only for these players to suggest leaving the – old – Team Fortress format and play the new hip and cool Fortnight. Even to the point of banging on about the lack of skins to buy and such.

            I recognized these players dialect from an earlier time playing under different names and they were not so pleased when I took them to task on the blatant Temple Grandin sort of nudging to funnel players in to a more profitable gaming platform … cough increasing market share.

            On another note ambrit I had a curious state of affairs at work, doing a big custom Queenslander reno. Any who the young guy I work for supplied me with materials and a time line for the work downstairs based on pro rata sq meters. During the work I thought this is all wrong, not enough materials and the time line was unrealistic. Long story short I measured the floor sq meters and found it was 33% off. So I called him and he said it was per the plans he was sent, even came in the next morning and lazer measured it himself. Then I had to have the old chat about what a con pro rata was and some sorts screwing with the plans to certain trades for quotes in order skim off profit.

            Chortle ….

            Reply
            1. ambrit

              Oh my. Do I remember ‘pro rata’ pricing. As in, who gets to finance the materials buy! In plumbing over here, the plumbing subcontractor buys the materials up front and is reimbursed later. This leads to all sorts of dirty tricks and skullduggery. My favourite example was the contractor doing a multi-unit condo on a river who took the initial draws and used them to finance a separate strip mall project down the road. The mall couldn’t lease out and the contractor got caught with his pants down. We all got run off when the bank took possession, many of us holding the bag for interim materials buys.
              On the plans front, our computer code writing son-in-law had an internship between high school and university in an architecture firm. He said that he was given auto cad duties for some of the details pages for various project blueprints. A lot of it was cut and paste. He freely admitted that he didn’t have a clue as to what a half of the details he ‘drew in’ meant. So, if there had been a screw up somewhere in those pages, he would not have been able to spot it. I’ve seen just such prints on medium sized commercial projects. The rule of thumb was; go to the Architecturals, they Rule. Of course, you know that, but, what was funny in a sick way was that I kept finding identical examples of various detail drawings. As if they had been pasted in from some general database.
              Reminds me of the folk song, “Little Boxes.”
              Pete Seeger does it best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUwUp-D_VV0&t=43s
              Be happy!

              Reply
        2. Amfortas the hippie

          Yep (“Actually there is a swelling tide of studies which show musculoskeletal, vision, and cognitive issues with game playing for more than 30 min sessions or on a regular basis.
          My reference to the Teletubbies is a direct reference to child psychology and neurological research used in branding kids as young as 2 to 3 and the changes at 5 and so forth.”)

          the antigen we’ve chosen is multifold: 1. go outside!
          2. incessant socratic method regarding things like this, along with every excursion to a big box used as applied psychology lesson. 3. until last month, no TV…just netflix…so no commercials. 4.a hard limit on time spent staring at screens. and 5. chores…including group chores=> work ethic, work as fun, etc.
          all of this is only possible because I’m both respected and liked by my boys…something i won’t take for granted.
          there’s often a fine line, between protecting them, and coddling them. from our discussions, removing things like fortnite would be like removing car stereos for my cohort….or insisting on only am radios.

          Reply
  22. drumlin woodchuckles

    Biden-Romney for Unity? No . . . if that ticket wins, it will be taken as validation of DLC-Bizznizzum. It must be defeated. The only way to be sure of defeating a Last Clintonite Hurrah ticket like that is to vote for Trump all over again.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Huh? The only way of defeating that ticket is… to bring it into existence. It will go down to defeat all by itself.

      But it will never happen. Elections cost money, even Bloomberg can’t pay for a Presidential election.

      Reply
  23. Mark Gisleson

    I read the silent meditation in Myanamar tweet thread and for the life of me the only difference between this and living at the end of the road and ignoring your neighbors appears to be that meditators sit more, no matter how great the pain.

    Reply
  24. inquiringMind

    The Trump-Nancy/Chuck presser video occurring in between videos of British Parliament Brexit debates (May’s Monday announcement and then Wednesday PMQ) was a fascinating comparison in style and substance.

    May/Corbyn are not exactly a paramount of example of rival leaderships leading to sharper or better outcomes, but at least they stand up and state their positions with vigor and try to contend against their opposition.

    Nancy-Chuck came across as absolutely desperate to scuttle into a dark corner away from the lights. Trump came across as his usual first blustery, then whining, fact-free BS (which he nonetheless genuinely seems to believe, BTW. I still can’t figure that part out. I guess he thinks he’ll win the argument when he makes up stuff about stopping ten terrorists per [random time period]???)

    …but thanks to Trump for bringing the process out into the open for a brief shining moment.

    The US press treated the event as if Trump had crapped on the rug, which is unfair. I, for one, want to see a heated debate about the issues. Unwitting or not, at least Trump tried to make that happen.

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Don’t you just love how Nancy, on several occasions, said that it wasn’t appropriate to hash things out in such a “public” setting !
      God, how I despise such creatures …

      Reply
  25. marym

    Trump Moves to Deport Vietnam War Refugees

    The Trump administration is resuming its efforts to deport certain protected Vietnamese immigrants who have lived in the United States for decades—many of them having fled the country during the Vietnam War.

    In essence, the administration has now decided that Vietnamese immigrants who arrived in the country before the establishment of diplomatic ties between the United States and Vietnam are subject to standard immigration law—meaning they are all eligible for deportation.

    Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        I don’t know why the outrage machine isn’t cranking up about this.* These are refugees from a war we created. We ought to take Syrians, and we ought to take the Central and Latin American refugees we created, too (assuming we can sort them in both cases, as we have successfully done in the past).

        * Other than that liberal Democrats aren’t gunning for the “Asian” vote the way they are for the “Latinx,” vote. The history is interesting; the Ford administration felt, or at least was said to feel, that the country had a moral obligation to them.

        Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      These Vietnamese refugees were all in flight from Communism. If this is true, then Trump wants to send them back to Communism. One wonders how different subsets of Republicans and Conservatives will react to that.

      And if some of them are ARVN veterans and/or their families, one wonders if parts of the United States Armed Forces and/or veterans who served with them will respond to that Trumpian breach of honor?

      Reply
  26. JohnnyGL

    Theresa May survives, 200-117.

    Congrats, PM May, you’ve won the right to lead the UK into the abyss for another year!

    Reply
    1. polecat

      Subduction is our friend, after all .. and I’m quite sure Ms. May has the lithic stones to dive straight down to the aught place, to arise again .. through heat and pressure, in some future eon … as a lump of coal.

      Reply
  27. DJG

    Thank you, Lambert. I thought that the first was a Stretherism, but I find that it is canonical. So I added another canonical verse, on freedom and nutrition.

    Kang (as Clinton):
    But tonight I say, we must move forward, not backward; upward, not forward; and always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

    Only to be matched by Homer to Marge:
    Marge, we had a deal. Your sisters don’t come here after six and I stop eating your lipstick.

    Not to get too meta, but these are variations on the great national theme, worthing of a continuing conversation (especially if you have a ticket to a Hillary snivel-a-thon evening) of our march toward the freedom to be the change in the world, to be the fearless us that is us, ordering soy in our caffelatte to show solidarity with cholera-ridden Yemenis.

    Reply
  28. Rosario

    RE: Guillotine Watch

    This is the danger with Buddhism through the Western lens. All the benefit without the costs. A large part of spiritual revelation is through suffering. Most of which is left out in the version of Buddhism peddled to the rich in the West. Do they actually know the mythical story of Siddhartha Gautama? There was a whole lot of pain before the prize. I could get into how much of this model of Buddhism allows for an arms length appraisal of reality and, in turn, a rationalization and normalization of their wealth and power, but that would go on for more paragraphs than I am willing to write.

    Say what you will about Christianity, but there is a clear connection between suffering and the divine. It doesn’t get any more clear than God being tortured and executed. No Nirvana with a sublimation of the flesh through “revelation” or whatever BS they tell rich people with too much time on their hands at retreats in exotic locales. People hurt first, suffer, despair, then the reward comes later. A beautiful (and true) message for any person who wants to change the world through good works. It also necessarily involves other people as changing the world for the better involves engaging with other and understanding their reality. Often, this is a very violent, uncomfortable act, a far cry from any kind of self-indulgence associated with individually centered spiritual awakening.

    Reply
    1. DJG

      Rosario: Although Buddhism is concerned with false striving and suffering, the central issue is the Buddha’s reminder: No man can save another. So no human being redeems another. Each of us brings our own self to fruition.

      It is only only through right actions, right thought, the spirit of the Metta Sutta, that we have a chance of putting ourselves us on the right path. (That inconvenient Epistle of Saint James in Christianity.)

      Jack is a spiritual tourist. But insisting that religion is all about suffering often ends up with religious people trapped in their own suffering and inflicting suffering on others.

      Reply
      1. Rosario

        No argument there, I don’t want to be miserable all the time as much as anyone else, but the inevitability of suffering and its drive in our lives must be part of the equation, and this model of religion practiced by some of the rich and powerful (and it is more often than not Buddhism) is particularly dangerous. I have personal experience with local, well off people who are head over heals about Buddhism, and in my opinion, from looking at their lifestyles, it is because Buddhism allows them to contextualize their problems as individuals (personally) as opposed to systemically and materially (the direct, emotional connection with suffering is the best way reveal this). Not to say personal perspective does not matter, just that there is more going on than that, and for some people personal perspective is actually a very small part of why their lives are difficult. In any conversation with a person in this situation the simple, direct emotional outbursts usually reveal the problem quite clearly and the last thing they want to be told is how to silently meditate and focus on breathing techniques, etc.

        Being a materialist and accepting entropy’s effects on our lives, I am under no illusion that we can actually escape suffering short of dying. Some Buddhist practitioners and monastics may think it is possible, but to me it is as delusional as Heaven. The best we can do is deal with it in a better and better way. Buddhism has much to teach us on this, but the fixation on removal and disassociation alone is dangerous. Particularly in a world where that is becoming the prevalent cultural value of the powerful who do as they please because their worldview boils everything down to people not having the right perspective or in a more radical, ironically, inverted view of what I am saying above, “the suffering is inevitable, so why not train myself to not be affected by it”.

        I see traces of Calvinism strewn in it. A denial of worldliness that I distrust with great prejudice.

        Reply
      2. Sid

        Not all religion is about suffering (e.g. Joel Osteen’s truly warped prosperity gospel) but Buddhism is most certainly about suffering. Just start with the four noble truths:

        1. Life is suffering!
        2. The cause of suffering is …
        3. The end of suffering is …
        4. The path to freedom from suffering.

        Personally, when I embraced (truly embraced) the first truth, that everyone alive is suffering, it gave me a wellspring of empathy for other humans that I lacked at a younger age. It’s an extraordinarily powerful set of concepts, and those who inflict suffering on others are missing the entire point.

        Reply
      3. witters

        “”No man can save another.” – Is this meant literally? If so, surely it is false. if it is a metaphor, what is the metaphor and why does it matter?

        Reply
    2. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

      In Christianity, there is a long running debate about faith and works.

      It’s similar in Buddhism. From Pure Land Buddhism, Wikipedia:

      Upon encountering Japanese Pure Land traditions which emphasize faith, many westerners saw outward parallels between these traditions and Protestant Christianity.

      It’s not surprising, then, that it

      also referred to as Amidism in English,[1][2] is a broad branch of Mahayana Buddhism and one of the most widely practiced traditions of Buddhism in East Asia.

      Most believers repeat the name (in Japanese) ‘Namu Amida.’

      Reply
  29. kgw

    “Often, this is a very violent, uncomfortable act, a far cry from any kind of self-indulgence associated with individually centered spiritual awakening.”

    You see “Buddhism” through that very “lens,” it appears.

    Reply
    1. Rosario

      That sentence is juxtaposing Christianity with Buddhism. They share much in common but have different takes on the reality of day to day living. I think Christianity’s perspective on suffering (ironically, likely inspired by Eastern, probably Buddhist thought) is different. The confrontation with suffering in Christianity is more short circuited and emotional, and I don’t think that is a bad thing. It is just as horrifying to deal with someone completely disassociated from the suffering of the world as it is to be confronted with someone who endlessly contributes to it. I think we need the direct confrontation as much as we need a way to rationalize and contain it.

      Also, I think all this wankery, focusing on the end goal of every world religion, get happy, on-and-on, is the biggest problem with religion. All the best lessons that could provide the most long term benefits to humans are the things in-between (Book of Job comes to mind). For example, in Buddhism, how to deal with and contextualize suffering and pain, cuz it happens, versus, here is how you get away from it. The getting away from it may be useful for some rich jerk or monastic where 99% of their problems are in their head, but for a homeless person with a mental disorder and no change to rub together it doesn’t really do much.

      Reply
  30. Summer

    Re: Smartphones / thinning cerebal cortex
    “Better than concussions in football, I suppose.”

    And we don’t know yet. For all we know long term it could be worse. More people use smartphones than play football.

    Reply
  31. ambrit

    Sorry for an OT comment. I hope Site Admins are in a forgiving mood.
    We just got the Medicare quarterly billing statement. We are not on the hook for anything, thank various and sundry ‘Spirit Leaders,’ but the amounts were staggering.
    The Hospice service charged just over $900 USD per nurse visit. Medicare approved that amount! Home health RN and all, but, $900?
    I know that there are some ex-hospice nurses in the Commenteriat. Am I just out of touch?

    Reply
    1. Left in Wisconsin

      When my dad was in hospice, I thought the reimbursement rates were pretty high. Perhaps the view is that compared with end-of-life hospital care, the savings are huge regardless.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Good point.
        Considering the evil reputation hospitals now have for their billing excesses, could this be another version of the old joke; “I cried because I had no shoes, until I met a man who had no iPhone.”
        By the way, I would love to see how that money is divided up.

        Reply
        1. allan

          From April: Humana, Private Equity Firms to Acquire Hospice Provider Curo for $1.4 Billion

          Insurance giant Humana (NYSE: HUM) and two private equity firms—TPG Capital and Welsh, Carson, Anderson & Stowe (WCAS)—have agreed to acquire privately held hospice operator Curo Health Services for about $1.4 billion….

          “Curo brings a highly capable management team and a tech-enabled, centralized model for hospice care that presents the opportunity for Humana and its consortium partners to be a leader in managing the continuum of home health, palliative care and hospice in an integrated fashion, creating a positive and differentiated experience for patients and their families – as well as their care providers,” the consortium stated in a press release.

          The three companies are seeking to leverage data and analytics to more “seamlessly coordinate” transitions along this continuum of care. …

          How long before they start squeezing the worker bees?

          Reply
    2. ChiGal in Carolina

      Medicare pays for hospice on a per diem basis. That per diem covers all services provided by any member of the hospice team. It is nowhere near $900 however.

      There is no such thing in hospice as paying for a nurse visit. On a day when you see the nurse, CNA, nurse practitioner, chaplain, social worker, and yes, music therapist, you are billed the same amount as a day when you receive no visits.

      Also, remember, that per diem includes the supplies, DMEs, and medications provided by hospice (meds related to the terminal diagnosis are covered).

      The per diem goes up only if a patient is receiving continuous care (extended hours at the bedside, usually for problematic symptom management) or inpatient care at a hospice unit instead of at home.

      Hope things are going as well as possible under the circumstances.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Ah. Put that way, it works out to $169 USD per day. Whether or not services are used.
        Why does this remind me of an HMO system?
        There is also a line item for Pharmacy. Since there was only one scrip filled, here’s some fodder for the curious quants out there. 45 of Gabapentin 100mg capsules was billed at $4.52 USD.
        Thanks for the concern. It gets downright depressing some days. Phyllis has surprised me with a quite inventive vocabulary of invective when the pain hits. (Maybe she was listening all those times I muttered under my breath.)
        Otherwise, death goes on.
        Be sweet! And thank you for the clarification.

        Reply
          1. ambrit

            Lambert;
            Phyllis says that you’re sweet; high praise from a Flower of the South.
            I’ll try very hard not to ‘vent’ in comments. That’s why I started this thread off with a supplication to the Better Angels of Site Admin.
            This all brings me to think about the nature of comment sections in general. To the extent that comment sections are organic, there is a natural tendency towards a ‘Social Site Lite’ function. Insofar as comment sections are sub-departments of generally single subject oriented venues, the social factor must be suppressed. Stay on focus is a common bit of advice to any aspiring politician or political movement. Maintaining a balance between the two is probably the hardest thing the Site Admins here have to do. Indeed, maintaining any balance is a grace note. Thanks to all for doing a superior job of ideational juggling.
            Side note: I too have noticed that hummingbirds prefer the red variety of honeysuckle. Plus, don’t let those ‘Southern friends’ take the mickey of you for having to plant honeysuckle that far up north. Just tell them that you are reintroducing it to it’s original source habitat. That should confuse them, and deservedly so.

            Reply
            1. Left in Wisconsin

              My dad had no pain until the very end (when they were pretty liberal with the morphine) and with his age and deterioration, hospice came as a relief. I would not want to be in your situation – my best to both of you.

              I probably spent more time on NC when he was going through hospice than anytime before or since. Even though the personal/social is only sometimes directly addressed by the community, it seeps through on almost every page. Which is good.

              Reply
              1. ambrit

                Perhaps the ephemeral nature of the internet is it’s saving grace. Such mirrors our individual human conditions.
                Sorry about your Dad. The feelings are indescribable.
                It’s a shame we can’t ‘front run’ the grieving process.

                Reply
  32. ptb

    Re: Trump / Pelosi / Schumer

    This is basic Trump. The magic 3 step formula: Reduce, Repeat, Repeat. Plus, he’s selling real estate – “look at these *magnificent* walls!”… Of course its BS. I will say he ad-libs with impressive confidence, especially considering he had basically 2 sentences to work with the entire time. It’ll be more than good enough for the base.

    Pelosi was dignified IMO. She’s the only one who can be proud of how she looked here, in my eyes.

    Schumer, although the most factually correct, looked annoyed (and i bet he was). The whole thing was a photo op he probably got ambushed into.

    Overall an utter waste of time, including the 15 minutes I just spent watching it.

    Reply
  33. drumlin woodchuckles

    These sentences caught my eye . . . “NOTE * Hilariously, the Clinton campaign page for mi abuela — https://www.hillaryclinton.com/feed/8-ways-hillary-clinton-just-your-abuela — seems to have been scrubbed from the Wayback Machine. Mook was good for something, I suppose.”

    I remember at least a year ago seeing where mention was made of a crudely photo-shopped “photo” of Rachel Corrie being scrubbed from the relevant Wayback Machine page. I remember doubts being raised about whether that was even possible.

    Well, now we know it “is” possible. And the strongest proof that something is possible . . . is if that something has actually happened.

    This is exACTly Nineteen Eighy-Four. This is exactly putting something into the Memory Hole. And the Wayback Machine was not supposed to BE a Memory Hole. It was supposed to be the Digital Archive of Record. It was meant to preserved the unaltered record of the past until a Carrington-Level solar mass ejection event fried all the chips and de-magnetised all the hard drives and memory sticks.
    Someone at the Wayback Machine decided to sneakily stealthily turn it INTO a Memory Hole, in hopes no one would notice. But now two people have noticed two different Memory Wipes at least 2 years apart.

    If other people who remember other controversial things were to go to find them on the Wayback Machine, how many other “Preserved Records of Record” would we discover that the Wayback Machinists have secretly and cynically erased from the record in the hope that no one would notice?

    Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I have kept many books. People have sometimes mocked me for that. “Why keep all these books?
        You can find everything on the Internet!”

        People like that in authority over libraries have been burning as many books and especially bound sets of periodicals as fast as they can. They are the Cyberbarians and the DigiGoths of our age.
        They will help to make the coming Digital Dark Age even longer and darker.

        Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      The same redirect that works on the normal URL also seems to work on the Wayback machine. I don’t see how that’s possible, since presumably the redirect would not have existed at the time the page was archived.

      Perhaps some kind reader can explain? UPDATE See none’s comment here.

      Reply
  34. noonespecial

    Re: “It’ll be more than good enough for the base.”

    The comments section at the Washington Times article published last night was overflowing with the lyrics to the WH’s latest chart-topping hit: “He’s My President and I’ll Cry if I Want To”.

    And at the local diner I heard a 19th Century Zorro-head say that fair leader is only doing what all American’s have asked for – stacking those bricks. All? It’s like saying, “Look there is a green cat. Must mean all cats are green.”

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      “Stacking the bricks” is a stand-in for a general dissatisfaction with the outcomes of the Neo-Liberal experiment. As for ‘all’, well, that depends on what ‘tribe’ you associate with. It’s the logical result of a generations worth of identitarian politics.

      Reply
  35. none

    And the Wayback Machine was not supposed to BE a Memory Hole. It was supposed to be the Digital Archive of Record.

    Not really. It was supposed to be a way to retrieve content that had fallen through the internet’s cracks through link rot, sites no longer being maintained, etc. They have always immediately taken down content when a site owner requests it, honored do-not-crawl tags, etc. More recently they’ve gotten firmer about keeping government pages archived (i.e. stuff from .gov domains) but hillaryclinton.com is not a .gov site and they do what the site owner wants. If you want to preserve something it’s best to copy it to your own hard drive.

    Btw in case no one has posted it, May won her confidence vote, http://cnbc.com/id/105622683 .

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > It was supposed to be a way to retrieve content that had fallen through the internet’s cracks through link rot,

      Which was the case here. But I take the point on “alawys honored.” Looks like the Clinton campaign wiped the historical record with a cloth as well as their own site. Typical.

      Reply
    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Really? I did not know that. Has the Wayback Machine been misleadingly advertised to us masses as a historical record, then? Or have we just imagined that it was one, when it never pretended to be one to begin with?

      Reply
  36. Oregoncharles

    “I can’t believe I’m writing about 2020 in 2018. It’s like Xmas muzak in the stores on the Fourth of July weekend.”

    I understand your point, but I think it’s actually wrong. Forewarned is forearmed – and the parties, at least, have to do this. I was just at an Oregon state Green Party convention where preparing for 2020 was one of our chief topics. Not thinking ahead is one of our chief problems. Maybe this time…

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      This time, don’t be shy. Establish that paramilitary wing. It will come in handy.
      s/ I mean, if ‘treehuggers’ are being treated like terrorists, then show the feds some real terrorism. Cut down the Christmas Tree on the National Mall. (What would a ‘Green Santa’ look like anyway?) /s

      Reply
  37. emorej a hong kong

    elites — except those, perhaps, with direct, personal interest in outcomes and the political netherworld that services them — might be equally clueless on balloting and e-voting issues.

    Corrected that for you:

    elites — except those with direct, personal interest in a particular method of making money or suppressing dissent — are equally clueless on how much that method contradicts their overall worldviews.

    Reply
  38. Jessica

    There are many different understandings of Buddhism. Here is one.
    When Buddha says that life is suffering, he is not pointing to suffering in the usually understood sense. What he is saying is that from the perspective of beyond-self, which is a quite different perspective from the usual one, the difference between what the usual perspective calls suffering and what it calls happiness is not all that large. In that sense, compared to the experience from the beyond-self perspective, life is suffering.
    Both the big picture meditation stuff and the kindness and compassion in ordinary life have their place. Each one isolated from the other has strengths and deficiencies. Meditation can become mere navel gazing, particularly in this day and age, when its deepest potential has been lost somewhat because meditation is sometimes used as a way to endure the hyper-alienation of contemporary life. But it can also be an opening that allows us to cut to the root of suffering, an opening that can cut through the Gordian knot of suffering.
    The strength of kindness and compassion in ordinary life needs no explanation, but the weakness of such kindness on its own is that it can accept without questioning too deeply many of the causes of the suffering. It can become a palliative where a cure is actually possible. In the worst case, the palliative short circuits the search for a cure.
    Looking through history, Buddhism has more often been transmitted from country to country as an elite religion, even as a marker of elite status. As such, it is no surprise that its practices can at times – and not only in the contemporary West – be associated with indifference and callous acceptance. On the other hand, when the monotheistic religions go wrong, they have so many times actively inflicted suffering on a mass scale in the name of God or Allah or Mazda/Zoroaster or Yahweh.

    Reply
  39. Lynne

    Reactions to that awful presser:

    How did Schumer and Pelosi agree to be in a situation where they had to swivel their heads to look at the press vs Trump? Not a good look.

    3 of the people there had obvious agendas. Pelosi wanted to be seen to stand up to Trump, Schumer wanted to pin a shutdown on Trump, and Trump wanted to portray himself as the only one concerned about security. All 3 accomplished their goals and self-inflicted damage in the process. Bottom line: Pelosi probably had more factually correct statements. Trump won on style points. Schumer reinforced his sliminess, and Pence should never play poker.

    Trump started with a show of cooperation and Pelosi and Schumer were clearly not interested. Less than a minute into his monologue, Trump paused, looked towards Pelosi and asked her how long the house has been working on the criminal justice reform bill. She murmured some meaningless pablum. Trump repeated it and then moved to the farm bill. He then turned to Schumer and asked him when the farm bill vote would be. Schumer refused to commit, and just said “soon”. Trump then incorporated “soon” several times into his talk about the farm bill. Meanwhile, Pence made some head bobbing motion that did not appear to be an actual seizure.

    Moving to the wall, Trump said “border security” three times between about 2:40 and 2:56. Everything I have read about public speaking insists that three is almost a magic number in making things stick in the listeners head.

    At 5:40, Trump finished his first monologue and asked Pelosi, “Nancy, would you like to say something?”

    Pelosi started talking about how the republicans should pass “it” because you have the votes. As soon as she said “You have the votes,” Pence looked down and started fidgeting. So no, they don’t have the votes for “it”. Trump asserted that they have the votes in the house but not the senate.

    Pelosi: “No, that’s not the point, Mr. President. The point is, is that there’s equities to be weighed, and we’re here to have a conversation in a __ way, so I don’t think we should have a debate in front of the press on this. But the fact is” blah, blah, blah. Honestly, by that point, I was hoping more people would interrupt Pelosi more often.

    Speaking of interruptions, I lost count of the number of times Pelosi interrupted Trump to tell him that he didn’t have the votes in the house. Good that Trump got some of his own medicine, but it’s a bit much that now she is complaining that she got interrupted as well. The most damning thing my mother would say about someone was that they could dish it out but not take it. Pelosi is obviously a classic example.

    Pelosi started to get traction with telling Trump that he didn’t have the votes and didn’t understand the process, Trump started to go down that rabbit hole, Pence started to fidget more (his foot even started to tap), and then it was like Trump shook it off, remembered what he was supposed to be doing, and then got back on track, and said “terrorists” three times quickly, and then “border security” over and over again.

    Pelosi then threw in some disjointed references to talking points about how they needed to be concerned about the American people, and Americans losing jobs, that somehow morphed into republicans getting kicked out of their offices in the house chambers (telling us all we need to know about what Americans she cares about), all the while she flailed around with one arm and kept the other glued to her side. Schumer remained hunched up in his chair, almost like a gargoyle, and threw in his crack about Indiana and North Dakota while he smirked at the press. Trump very soberly agreed that yes, they did win IN and ND. Then Trump went back to border security over and over again.

    Schumer clearly considered it a great triumph that Trump said he would own the shutdown. I’m not so sure. The press was going to pin it all on Trump anyway, and this way he got to say several times he would be fine with shutting down the government for border security. Not a good look for Schumer to be smiling and vigorously nodding his head at the talk of drugs pouring in the country.

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Schumer clearly considered it a great triumph that Trump said he would own the shutdown. I’m not so sure.

      Pelosi and Schumer have cornered Trump into looking like somebody who will pay a political price for a principle. (Bad principles, to be sure — Trump doesn’t make the labor arbitrage argument any more than liberal Democrats do — but principles nonetheless.)

      Reply
  40. Lambert Strether Post author

    Quick thoughts on the “Pelosi-Trump-Schumer” Incident Report:

    1) The press really played this up as a “shouting match,” Trump losing control, and on and on. It was no such thing. I mean, if you want a real shouting match, watch the MPs going at each other in Parliament on Brexit.

    2) What was all over my Twitter feed was the idea that “Finally, somebody stood up to Trump!” Listening to the audio only (which I always try to do with video, if I don’t yet have a transcript), that did not come across to me (though I am not predisposed to think of Pelosi as a leader; those who are may think differently). The quality of her voice, diction, and above all her policy positions did not convey dominance. For example:

    PELOSI: Let’s call a halt to this. We have come in here — the first branch of government, Article 1, the legislative branch, we’re coming in, in good faith to negotiate with you about how we can keep the government open.

    SCHUMER: Open.

    TRUMP: We’re going to keep it open if we have border security. If we don’t have border security, Chuck, we’re not going to keep it open.

    (CROSSTALK)

    PELOSI: I’m with you. I’m with you. [!!] We are going to have border security.

    So Pelosi completely accepts (“I’m with you”) Trump’s framing (“We’re going to do what Trump wants, but more nicely.” Is that really the hill to die on?) As for diction: “Let’s call a halt” isn’t what my Mom would have said. She would have said “Stop it!”, using the strongest possible form of imperative, not the weaker “Let’s.” And “in good faith” seems like whinging to me (as well as the usual liberal preening about their putative moral superiority).

    3) Thanks to all readers for their thoughtful comments. Unfairly singling our DJG, because this really isn’t a round-up:

    This is how sausage is made. That’s an American truism–law making is like sausage making. You don’t want to go to a pig slaughter and sausage-making session and negotiation among political parties over legislation, all the while pretending you don’t know what is going to happen.

    Trump, in his crude fashion, explained to Pelosi that on “the wall,” she didn’t matter, because he could get the votes (rightly or wrongly, that’s his view; and after all, enough Democrats voted to continue his and their and our war in Yemen, so his view might not be that much off). What he really needed was Schumer’s votes in the Senate because of the filibuster (again, rightly or wrongly). He named a price (” if we got $5 billion, we could do a tremendous chunk of wall”) and said he could build a lot of wall anyhow. So Trump was trying, again in his crude fashion, to deal, and Pelosi and Schumer weren’t responding. I mean, what on earth does this even mean?

    PELOSI: We have to have an evidence-based conversation about what does work, what money has been spent and how effective it is…. So let us have a conversation where we don’t have to contradict in public the statistics that you put forth, but instead can have a conversation about what will really work, and what the American people deserve from us at this uncertain time in their lives.

    Mush. (If liberal Democrats were about evidence-based anything, we’d have single payer by now.)

    4) Pelosi and Schumer’s multiply repeated requests to go private: Not a good look.

    5) Trump is relentlessly on message.

    6) Trump does not suffer from cognitive decline.

    [The opening] SCHUMER: Elections have consequences, Mr. President. ..

    [the instant riposte] TRUMP: And that’s why the country is doing so well.

    7) Both Pelosi and Schumer looked very uncomfortable, sitting stiffly on the edge of their seats. Trump, OTOH, was clearly in his element, enjoying himself.

    8) Who on the Democrat side allowed the White House to control the seating arrangement and the camera work?

    9) My comment above on single payer explains why I don’t worry so much about the “He’s lying” charge. If lying (or bullshitting) causes Trump to be consigned to this or that Circle of Hell, which circle does Pelosi get confined to for opposing #MedicareForAll? Or putting PayGo in place to prevent any left programs at all from going through? Or for retailing the perverted economic theories that “justify” austerity? Eyes on the prize….

    Thanks again to readers for their measured responses!

    UPDATE 10) Schumer really is a useless tool, the sort of politician who’d sign off on a bunch of Trumps’s rotten judges so the Senate could go in recess. Also, this:

    TRUMP: If you really want to find out how effective a wall is, just ask Israel: 99.9 percent effective that our wall will be every bit as good as that, if not better.

    No rebuttal from Pelosi or Schumer, oddly, or not.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      On the Israeli wall issue. Pelosi and Schumer can petition AIPAC to make this years freshman congresscritter trip a tour of the West Bank Exclusion Structure, with seminars on sniping at ‘hostiles,’ bulldozing ‘illegal’ ‘native’ dwellings, separation of Palestinian farmers from their farmland, etc. With AIPAC’s help, this wall project can become ‘bipartisan,’ and thus eligible for the Sparkle Pony Prize.

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      10) Schumer really is a useless tool,

      He was Harry Reid’s right hand man

      TRUMP: If you really want to find out how effective a wall is, just ask Israel:

      This is also why Democrats need to not be the not the GOP. Too many of their members have championed terrible policies for too long (the support for Likud, ICE, or the previous efforts to fortify the border) they can’t separate themselves. The only way out is a new separate policy. Sanders gave them an out on ACA too with his rallying for Medicare for All which he managed to do without bashing Obama and ACA. AOC with her Green New Deal is doing the same.

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > > 10) Schumer really is a useless tool,

        > He was Harry Reid’s right hand man

        And your point? (I had a grudging respect for Reid when he was in opposition, but when in the majority? No.)

        Reply
    3. johnnygl

      I commented the other day that it reminded me of the repub primary debates…we know what the result of those was…

      Only thing to add is the reminder that trump’s best political skill is getting his opponents to make fools of themselves (or maybe just to show us who they really are). He got them to score several own-goals with the requests to take the conversation private, throwing n. dakota and indiana under the bus, and foreshadowed that trump will get his wall because pelosi and schumer did not say ‘no wall’, they said ‘no shutdown’. It’s clear where the compromise will end up on this.

      Here’s my question for 2020…will the dem nominee say, ‘no wall’ to trump? It’s clear pelosi and schumer aren’t confident enough to say ‘no’.

      Reply
      1. Lynne

        The thing that really got me about the ND crack is that North Dakota WAS a liberal state. The way that it swung so republican should be a wake up call on the level of Trump getting elected. Schumer is an idiot.

        Reply
    4. RUKidding

      I can sort of excuse Pelosi for saying “let’s call a halt,” rather than “stop it!” It may seem facile for me to say this, but women often feel constrained to speak in conciliatory language like that, or else be called a bitch, shrew, witch, etc. It’s not so much shrinking away in fear of being called such names; rather it’s more about not having the content of what one is trying to convey be totally ignored or written off bc of the way it was perceived to be said. There are different standards for how men can speak v. how women can speak, and those double standards still exist.

      I can only speculate that’s why Pelosi used the asinine “tinkle” comment after the meeting. In that case, I can only speculate that she was referring to having a “pissing contest” but shrank away from using the word “piss” which would’ve definitely be held against her. In such a case, however, I would suggest that women find a different way to express themselves. Skunk tinkle is just dumb.

      I was always opposed to Pelosi and Schumer offering the $1.5 million. Why should they? Either you’re against the worthless Wall, or you’re for it. If they feel the need to strengthen border security, perhaps that should be a discussion for another time.

      That said, I didn’t find Trump’s manner of speaking particularly enlightening or whatever. I know a lot of people say he “stays on message.” Yeah, OK. I suppose so… but to what end? The Wall is a stupid boondoggle that most people, especially those ON the border, do not want, nor will work the way Trump proclaims it will. His bullying ways don’t do much for me, but I guess his base likes it.

      I get back to this:

      I keep reading (lately in many sources) about Trump voters extolling how Trump is a “strong man,” and “he says it like it is, and MEANS what he says.”

      Fine. Trump said 400 times that he’d “make” Mexico pay for the wall. Why is he badgering Schumer and Pelosi to agree to budget for it?

      Go BE the alleged Strong Man, Mr. Art of the Deal, and follow through on your promise to “make” Mexico pay for this stupid Wall.

      I’m rather tired of being hand waved away from this line of thinking. Either Trump MEANS what he says, or he doesn’t. There’s not much room for grey there.

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *